Happy Valentine’s Day, dog guardian. And before you think I’m leveraging a cheesy “greeting card holiday” to write about dogs, love, and dog cancer, let me stop you right there:
Valentine’s Day, 1993, is, in a very real way, the date that everything we do here at Dog Cancer Blog started.
It was the day when James Jacobson, our publisher at Maui Media, found the little dog who quickly became the love of his life: Maui Valentine.
Maui’s devotion to James, and what she taught him over the next sixteen years of her life, created a foundation of love and service that continues to this day.
So when I, Maui’s adoptive mom and James’ wife, and the editor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, wish you Happy Valentine’s Day, I do so with the force of a quarter century of dogged adoration and devotion.
Remembering Love: Valentine’s Day 1993
Here’s the story, in brief. And after I tell it, you’ll see why the video at the bottom of this article garnered over 1 million views in just ONE day back in 2007, when we first launched it!
In 1992, James lived in Washington, DC, but he really wanted to live in Maui, Hawaii. (Smart man!) When he adopted his little friend, a tiny white puppy, he named her after his dream home, Maui, and the day he met her: Valentine’s Day.
Maui Valentine was James’ heart dog in every way possible. She accompanied him everywhere and inspired him in countless ways. James, a lifelong meditator, was surprised to find Maui “meditating” with him — jumping up on his lap while he contemplated his breath. She even, he noticed, matched his long, adult human breaths with her own.
This daily connection the two of them shared inspired him to write a book called How to Meditate with Your Dog.
(When I read the book, it was well before I met James. I fell in love with both James and Maui by reading it … and lucky me, I later married the two of them!)
How Dog Meditation Went Viral
How to Meditate with Your Dog inspired hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to spend just five minutes a day sitting with their pups, connecting and enjoying their silent presence. It was awe-inspiring to see how “people will do things for their dogs they wouldn’t do for themselves,” as James observed over and over.
(I’ve noticed a parallel to this when it comes to dog cancer. Many readers of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide have written to tell us they radically changed their own diets after learning about how much food impacts health in their dogs!)
How to Meditate with Your Dog was published in 2005. To celebrate its second year of publication, we created a “video” to publish on the web. I put “video” in quotation marks because youtube wasn’t yet a thing. We had to use Flash to make the movie, and it was passed around via email and websites like tumblr. Do you even remember what life was like online back then? Totally different world.
How “Do You Remember Love?” Was Seen Over 4 Million Times
Anyway, the video was called “Do You Remember Love,” and it was an admittedly goofy, rather cheesy Valentine’s Day poem I wrote from Maui to James. It went viral almost immediately. The first day we emailed out a link to the website with the video, we had 30,000 visitors, and the second, we had over 60,000. A few weeks later, we had our largest viewing day ever, 1 MILLION views in one day — and the servers crashed.
Maui became so well known because of the video that when she passed away about 18 months later, in summer 2008, our servers crashed again with condolence messages. At home, James received over 1,000 written condolence cards in the mail.
Remembering Love: Maui’s Passing Leads to The Dog Cancer Survival Guide
It was a tough time, but in his pain and fog from her loss, James noticed something important. When readers told the story of their own dog’s passing, they almost always mentioned cancer as the cause. He didn’t even know that cancer was possible in dogs — so he asked his friend and Maui’s devoted veterinarian, Dr. Demian Dressler, about it.
Dr. D said he wasn’t surprised, that in his experience, cancer rates had been skyrocketing — and no one seemed to have good answers. Out of this and many years of earlier discussions with this compassionate veterinarian, The Dog Cancer Coping Guide and The Dog Cancer Survival Guide were born.
Ever since dogs all over the planet have benefitted from Maui’s love. I know that sounds totally, 100% cheesy, but I really see it. There is a direct connection from Maui’s love for James through his book and Dr. D’s book to your love for your dog.
Dogs Love Us Too Much to Ignore It on Valentine’s Day
If Maui Valentine hadn’t opened James’ heart and put him square in the community of dog guardians who feel their dogs are family … none of us would be here.
So, as Maui’s adoptive mom, I remember her now with a lot of love and a dash of pain. I still miss her, just like I miss all the dogs I have loved.
Thank you, Maui. Thank you for being there for all of us, and inspiring so much good. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, and to all of our dogs who show us how to open our hearts and give AND receive love. Who better to celebrate on this Valentine’s Day — and every day?
Oh … and here’s that video!
Molly Jacobson is a writer and editor for Maui Media. As editor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and a lifelong dog lover, she is all too familiar with dog cancer.