When the universe yells at you, listen.
I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. My profession is in corporate Ethics, Compliance and Anti-Corruption – entirely about following rules, battling obvious bad guys, and setting up complex systems to ensure certain outcomes. I’d gotten it to a place that was, for me, reliable, predictable and well-defined. But, at the start of the COVID pandemic, that corporate job security vaporized. My role was eliminated and I was left to job hunt for a very niche profession during a global pandemic. Awesome.
For nearly two years prior, the universe had been gently nudging me towards something entirely different. Something creative, unpredictable and highly vulnerable. So, of course, I hadn’t been listening. As the cloud of anxiety and depression started to envelop me during the slog of unsuccessful job hunting, the universe decided to get louder. Megaphone loud. And I finally listened. My reward for finally submitting has been the best 6 months I can remember, even in the midst of the constant stream of awful coming through my TV, social media and newspapers. Here’s how my crazy rescue dog, strangers on Facebook, good friends and the universe gave me the bravery to get into the arena, as Brene Brown would say.
Our dog Finn is objectively, a lunatic. He’s a Vizsla (“veeee-shhh-luh”) mixed with Beagle and some Pittie sprinkled in for good measure. This combination, it turns out, makes for a hilarious, stubborn, vocal little dictator we like to pretend isn’t the boss of us. He came into our lives unexpectedly in 2018, when his rescue organization in Georgia found a cement truck backed into their living room wall. No, really. A cement truck drove into their house. Suddenly, all the rescues needed fostered – and fast. Finn had been found wandering the streets of Swansboro, NC under the age of one and it showed in his behavior. He’d also been previously kicked out of a few homes for his stubborn, untamed and slightly OCD ways. We agreed to take him as a foster, planning to correct his habits and set him up for a great life with another family. From the very first day we could tell Finn was going to be a challenge. He bonded instantly to my husband, who he considered the “alpha”. He decided my role in the pack was to be dominated as the “charlie” to his “bravo”. The pack order was formed almost instantly and it was clear my husband would be the most important hooman in Finn’s world.
I started posting weekly “updates” in Finn’s voice to various dog Facebook groups thinking it might help some prospective adopters fall in love. The updates detailed his challenges trying to tame and train his newly-assigned rescue hoomans, who he only referred to as, “the Hairy One” and, “the Squishy One” for his first few months. I’ll let you guess which one of us was which. Funny, irreverent and often sarcastic, Finn’s voice emerged as he recounted the various ways in which we weren’t providing adequate service and his struggle to teach us to do things the way he wanted. As time went on, the posts got really popular and fans would even reach out via private message to find one they missed. One Facebook group in particular got so attached to him, gifts would appear at our house! Boxes of bones, special cookies, even leather keychains hand painted with his face! It was a magical community of dog lovers united by the antics of this crazy dog.
We knew within a few months that starting Finn over in a new home was a bad idea. His OCD and strong will to control everything had finally subsided with us and he found great solace in his Hairy One as pack leader. He announced on Facebook that he’d be officially adopting us and hinted that the reports were no longer necessary. Dozens of people from around the world sent me messages – begging me not to stop. That’s when I realized how much joy his posts, pictures and videos were bringing people. So, we continued faithfully every week and recently posted week 136. These same people also kept proposing, urging and sometimes insisting that I turn Finn’s updates into a book. For two years, I considered that idea preposterous and waved it off as a nice compliment but absurd idea.
As the malaise of quarantine, unemployment, way too much NetFlix, and endless cooking projects took over, the universe got louder. Much louder. Friends from high school I rarely spoke to started telling me it was time. The strangers on Facebook got more insistent. A friend made through that Facebook group called and offered to help me get started with the process. Another friend from that group connected me with her good friend, an experienced author who generously started mentoring me. My father even called me and out of the blue made the same suggestion… write a book. Ok universe, I hear you… geez.
And just like that, it started happening. Sourdough bread starter and artisanal pickles could wait. Between May and November of 2020, Finn published two books (one covers his first year of reports, the second covers year two), built up a 3,500+ person social media base, and sold more than 600 books into the US, Canada, the UK, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and even Cambodia! He’s been profiled in newspaper articles and even a magazine. He’s also on the shelves of public libraries in 5 states. How wild is that?
The best part about this whole process has been spreading joy. It was certainly fun to learn something new and stay busy during an otherwise depressing time. It’s also been amazing that the feedback on the books has been positive – a vulnerable thing that utterly terrified me. But the real gift has been messages from fans telling me how much joy his posts and books bring them. That’s been the very best part of this. How the books helped them find moments of joy during a family member’s grave illness, how the books helped them cope with the grief of losing their furbaby, or how their children were “actually reading voluntarily” thanks to Finn. Those have been the most incredible gifts to me in this process. I didn’t really even consider kiddos when writing, but I love that so many have fallen in love with reading thanks to Finn. Every comment, review and message telling me how much happiness Finn is bringing people gives me a jolt of endorphins and propels me forward. That’s an extra and fantastic gift he’s given me.
I’ve always volunteered with rescue and been passionate about saving dogs. I’ve always loved the way rescues, in particular, seem to love a little extra and bring a little extra “crazy” to the party. Finn is no exception. He’s become the very best dog and brought me a purpose and sense of joy I didn’t know existed. He’s my daily confidant, snuggle buddy and driving force for getting outside and finding nature. And he’s bringing thousands of readers and fans so much laughter and light in these dark times. He plans to keep posting his daily antics and musings on social media and keep putting out books as long as folks enjoy them. I plan to keep helping him do it. And, I plan to start listening a little sooner when the universe starts talking.
If you’d like to get to know Finn, check out his social media links here: https://linktr.ee/Gwenromack
You can also make a donation to his favorite rescues here. Every dollar truly makes a difference.
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”
― Karen Davison