Dog Tips: Flying with Your Furry Friend

Now that you’ve gone on a road trip with your dog, are you considering taking them on a plane? If you haven’t read the last blog “Dog Tips: Traveling With Your Pooch”, go ahead and read that one first.

This American Staffordshire Terrier is ready to go on a summer vacation. Source: Getty Images.

It is valuable to weigh many options when considering taking your canine on a flight with you. If you are permanently moving or taking an extended vacation, then these are the ideal situations to take your dog on a plane. Short trips may cause more stress to them rather than fun. For this reason, consider asking a family member, friend, or pet sitter to look after your dog.

Taking Your Dog on a Flight

If you have decided to take your dog on a flight, here are some tips to ease any possible stress that you may experience.

  1. Pack an appropriate carrier. No matter if your furry friend will be staying in the cargo area or cabin, you will need to find a carrier that fulfills the airline guidelines. Click here for a list of guidelines. In general, your carrier should be durable, have plenty of ventilation, strong handles, and a leak-proof bottom. Click here for a list of recommended pet carriers. Make sure to note on the carrier that it is a live animal and utilize arrows to show which way is up. Additionally, make sure to place a label with your name, phone number, address, and any other contact information that you feel is necessary. 
  2. Choose the best possible flight. It’s recommended to find non-stop flights with no transfers and to avoid flying over the holiday periods. If your furry friend is flying in the cargo, consider the weather at your destination. When you are flying to somewhere hot, look for flights in the early morning or late evening. If you’re traveling to a cold destination, look for flights during mid-day. 
  3. Complete a health check.  Visit your veterinarian before flying. This will allow you to verify that all of the vaccinations are up-to-date and that your pet is healthy. Make sure to request any health records, that you may not have, to bring on your trip. 
  4. Prep your dog before the trip. Familiarize your dog with the crate that they will be traveling in. You may even consider taking them to the departure area of the airport that you will be dropped off to aid them in feeling more comfortable. 
  5. Contact your airline. Verify that there is space for you and your dog on the airplane before you book the tickets. Make sure to book reservations for yourself and your pet at the same time. Depending on which airline you are taking, here are links to the pet pages for each one: Delta, American Airlines,  United, JetBlue, and Southwest.

We wish you a safe and happy flight with your pooch. Again, enjoy yourselves while you are on vacation! Click the link to read a previous blog, “Simple Ways to Teach Your Dog How to Lie Down,”.


Success Stories Within The IDD Community: Jessica-Jane Applegate

Jessica-Jane Applegate is a British Paralympic swimmer. She lives with autism and competes in the S14, SB14, and SM14 classifications of events. Her strokes are freestyle and backstroke.

Early Life:

Jessica-Jane Applegate was born on August 22, 1996, in Great Yarmouth, England. When she was young, she was diagnosed with autism. Her mother put her into swimming lessons as a young child as a way to release her energy. She swam at the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Swimming Club in Lowestoft, Norfolk, England. For her education, she attended Ormiston Venture Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. She also swam at school. At age 13, she had set regional records and was offered a spot in a UK sporting talent program. 

 “From the moment I first jumped in the water I knew that I wanted to swim, I felt like I could escape in the water and I could go to a safe place where no one could hurt me. I may not have been very good to start with but having a learning disability has never held me back from achieving my dreams.”

Jessica-Jane Applegate

Career Success:

At the end of 2011, Applegate was told that she had the potential to compete at higher levels. During the Winter Wales open in 2011, Applegate had the second-fastest time in the world for the 50m and the third-fastest time for the Paralympic 200m Freestyle. At the beginning of 2012, she competed in the Berlin Open. She won bronze in the 50m and 100m freestyle. At the 2012 British Swimming Championship, she raced in the 200m freestyle and won gold! This race set a British record and qualified her for the Paralympics.

Her last meet before the Paralympics was the 2012 British International Disability Swimming Championships. At this meet, she won silver in the 50m and 100m freestyle races and took gold in the 200m freestyle. She then went off to compete in the 2012 London Summer Paralympics.  

Her first event at the Paralympics was the 100m backstroke. During this race, she finished third in the finals and set a personal record. Her next race was the 200m freestyle in which she came in first for the finals. In the 200m freestyle, she shaved 2 seconds off her time and won gold! She also set a Paralympic record in this race. In fact, she was the first Brit with an intellectual disability to win gold at the Paralympics!

In 2013, Applegate represented Great Britain at the IPC World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Here she medaled gold in the 200m freestyle, silver in the 200m medley, and bronze in the 100m freestyle. 

“I know that it isn’t easy for people with a learning disability. Lack of understanding about what a learning disability is means that things that everyone takes for granted are made impossible for people with a learning disability. But I’m proof that if you’ve got the right support, you can do anything and anything is possible.”

Jessica-Jane Applegate

Current Day:

Most recently, Applegate swam from Great Britain in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Paralympics. From 2013 to the current day she has been an ambassador of Mencap, which is a UK charity that helps people with learning disabilities.

Be sure to check out our previous success story featuring Nicolas Hamilton and a similar success story featuring Michael Phelps!








Mental Health Tips: How to Leave a Toxic Relationship

“As you begin to walk away from negativity and toxic people, it will inspire you to embrace positivity and your life will become more rewarding and fulfilling.” 
Germany Kent

Letting Go

Once you admit to yourself that your mental health is deteriorating because of a toxic relationship, it will be a lot easier to let go. According to Forbes an average of 80% of Americans have experienced emotional abuse within a relationship. My mission is to lower this statistic and with the right tips and guidance, you will be able to remove yourself from a toxic relationship. No one deserves to be mistreated by their loved one. It’s 2021 for crying out loud stand up for yourself when you notice yourself being walked all over. Use your voice and use it loudly. Letting go of toxicity will open up so many more doors for amazing opportunities and successes.

Defining a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships are physically and emotionally draining. Most people don’t even recognize how toxic their own relationship can really be. I want us all to be on the same page when we are referring to a toxic relationship, so for this blog, we are going to go with Dr. Lillian Glass’s definition. Psychologist Glass defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.” Toxic relationships drag you down and cause disruptions in your everyday life. It is important to establish that you are physically in a toxic relationship before you begin to react. Keep reading to learn tips about leaving a toxic relationship! Empower yourself.

“Toxicity at work, relationship or in life works as a slow poison which often ends its survivors as disillusioned or embittered.” 
Abhysheq Shukla

5 Tips to Get Out of a Toxic Relationship

Once you realize you are in a toxic relationship, utilize these steps to remove yourself! Seek help or guidance if your partner is physically abusing you. 

  1. Step into Reality
    • Many peers will realize your relationship is toxic before you do. If your relationship is toxic you must come to terms with that. You need to realize if you are being treated unfairly. Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. Your mental health matters and if you are in a toxic relationship you can’t love yourself. Realization is the first step to leaving a toxic relationship and environment. 
  2. Confide in Trusted Friends and Family
    • In a toxic relationship you feel isolated and like the world has turned against you. Your self-esteem becomes especially low. You question why the universe is out to get you when in reality you can remove yourself from the situation. Confiding in trusted friends and family about what you’re going through gives you a support system. It allows you to go through the break-up with people who actually care about you. Confide in family and friends once you have established that your relationship is toxic. They will help you remove yourself. 
  3. Speak to Your Partner
    • After coming up with a plan with trusted family and friends it’s important to react. Talk to your partner and tell them how you are truly feeling. Explain that you need time for yourself and either agree on a break or end the relationship. I know this is easier said than done, but remember that you must put yourself first. Your own mental health is more important than someone who consistently treats you like garbage.
  4. Work on Yourself
    • It will be extremely hard to move on from your relationship right away. Being in a toxic relationship can be traumatic and overwhelming feelings can linger. You may still love this person, but you have come to terms that they aren’t good for you. Find a steady hobby and stick with it. Work out, eat healthy, practice self-care, the options are endless. Do things that will take your mind off this person. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family if you’re ever feeling lonely. Take time to recover and remember that there are better days ahead. 
  5. Move-on
    • Moving on won’t happen immediately for most. When you finally feel ready go out on a date. Encourage yourself to be more social and open to meeting new people. A toxic relationship may be traumatic, but there are always positives once you remove yourself. Loving yourself is the most important part of moving on. Read the blog https://soul-dogs-inc.org/mental-health-tips-how-to-love-yourself/ to learn tips on self-love.
“There are many paths to a fairytale ending… Blocking, unfollowing, muting, and unfriending also lead to “Happily ever after.” 
Steve Maraboli

Concluding Thoughts

Removing yourself from a toxic relationship is a very empowering experience. I am not saying it’s easy, because it’s not, but your self-esteem will skyrocket. You and your voice matter, make sure you are heard. Don’t let someone take advantage of you.









Dog Tips: Traveling With Your Pooch

During the summer months, you may find yourself booking a vacation for yourself, your family, and your furry friend. Traveling with your canine may sound overwhelming however, with some research and a little extra planning, it is possible. Whether you are traveling for pleasure or out of necessity, you will need to take some extra steps to prepare for your dog’s needs. Despite this, you will create fun memories with your dog and family.

General Traveling Tips

  1. Know your dog. It’s okay if your dog is not suitable or dislikes long trips in the car or any other form of transportation. You know your dog better than anyone else. If you are second guessing the idea, search for a recommended pet sitter, friend, or family member to watch your dog while you are away. While on vacation, you will be relaxed knowing that your dog is in safe hands and you will be able to enjoy yourself. 
  2. Complete a health check.  Visit your veterinarian before going on a trip, especially if it is extended. This will allow you to verify that all of the vaccinations are up-to-date and that your pet is healthy. Make sure to request any health records, that you may not have, to bring on your trip. 
  3. Research dog friendly places. Before traveling with your canine, research pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, stores, and attractions. You will feel more prepared before leaving.

Items to Add to Your Packing List

  1. Food and water
  2. Treats
  3. Food and water dishes
  4. Crate and/or carrier
  5. Toys
  6. Collar, leash, harness, and ID tags
  7. Blankets and dog bed (when traveling by car)
  8. Grooming products (brush, shampoo, etc)
  9. Cleaning supplies 
  10. Medication and any other supplements
  11. Health records

Traveling By Car

1. Feed your dog a light meal. It’s recommended to feed them 3-4 hours before leaving. This allows for them to relieve themselves before the car ride. While on the road, stop to feed your dog.

2. Don’t allow your dog to roam all over the car. It can be dangerous if you are distracted by your dog while driving and we want you and your pet to be safe in the situation.

3. Be aware of car sickness. Your dog can feel queasy, similar to humans when they ride in the car for too long. If another individual or your family is accompanying you, this is where they can come to the rescue by remaining observant. We also recommend talking with your veterinarian before the trip for additional preventative tips.

4. Do not allow you dog to stick their head out for long periods of time. It is recommended to never allow this as your dog may be more susceptible to an eye injury or become sick due to the large quantity of cold air forced into their lungs.

Always remember that you are going on a vacation to enjoy yourself and relax. When you are calm, your furry friend will remain calm too. If you haven’t yet, make sure to read some of our additional blogs “Simple Tips to Teach Your Dog How to Lie Down,” and “Helpful Tips to Teach Your Dog How to Sit,”. Additionally, come back next week to read our tips on traveling by plane with your canine!


Success Stories Within The IDD Community: Nicolas Hamilton

Nicolas Hamilton is an English racing driver. He lives with cerebral palsy, but has not let that stop him from accomplishing his dreams. He has found ways to make modifications so he can achieve his goals.

Early Life:

Nicolas Hamilton was born on March 28, 1992, in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child. When he was 18 months old, doctors told his parents that he would never walk and that his eyesight was poor and would only get worse. During his childhood, he experienced a lot of bullying. In an interview, Hamilton described that kids would bully him because of his disability and race. They would laugh at him and pull his wheelchair back. But, Hamilton did not let this push him down. 

When he would 17 years old, he underwent massive surgery to correct his legs so that he could walk. After the surgery, he spent many hours in physical therapy strengthening and training his legs. Today, he can not only walk unassisted, but he can also drive a race car.

“Motorsport gave me a purpose,” he says. “It gave me a reason to overcome my condition.”

Nicolas Hamilton

Career Success:

When he was 7 years old, Hamilton, his older brother, and his father went go-karting. This sparked Hamilton’s interest in race car driving. Hamilton drives an adapted race car, which allows him to use his arms more than his legs. His car has a hand clutch on the steering wheel, which operates like a foot pedal would. The accelerator and the brake pedals are wider and positioned in a way that doesn’t require Hamilton to stretch his legs. His seat was made specifically for his body. He is currently the only disabled driver in his league, but he is showing others that it is more than possible. 

In 2011, Hamilton made his debut in racing with the Renault Clio Cup United Kingdom. During this race, he drove for Team Total Control Racing. In 2013, he raced a SEAT León Supercopa for Team Baporo Motorsport in the European Touring Car Cup. In 2015, Hamilton signed a contract with Team AMD Tuning to drive an Audi S3 in five rounds of the British Touring Car Championship. Hamilton was the first disabled driver to race in this series. In 2019, Hamilton secured a full-time drive with Team Motorbase Performance. Most recently, in February 2020, Hamilton secured a spot on Team HARD. In a Volkswagen CC, Hamilton finished fifteenth in the series!

Current Day:

In 2019, Hamilton founded the UK’s first racing school for disabled drivers. It is called Team BRIT. Hamilton detailed the school’s mission to be “to give any disabled driver with a full UK driving license the chance to receive race coaching, mentoring or tuition.”

“I would love to see disabled people be able to access circuits and access the industry. Hopefully, through this academy, we can give people more opportunities, more happiness, more purpose.” 

Nicolas Hamilton

Be sure to check out our previous success story featuring Maysoon Zayid and a similar success story featuring Armani Williams!