Waggleview with Colleen Bridgeman, Assistant Dean School of Fine Arts, UCONN
Dog Owner: Colleen K. Bridgeman is the Assistant Dean and Chief Operations Officer of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. She also serves as President to the newly formed non-profit organization, Justice’s Fight. An organization dedicated to raising the awareness to the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping the country. This group comes together to educate parents, empower youth and eliminate the stigma of addiction. Outside of her career, Colleen enjoys spending time outdoors with her lovable dogs, Maggie and Stella and her husband, Mark, of 25 years. She is an avid cyclist and triathlete, competing in two full Ironman distances in Lake Placid, NY in 2013 and 2015, respectively. She is also a breast cancer survivor and completed her second Ironman triathlon just 8 months after her initial diagnosis, surgery and systemic care. Colleen’s favorite quote embodies her life’s philosophy, “Anything is possible as long as it is powered by the heart.”
Dogs type and Name: Miss Maggie is a Mississippian Mudpie mix and Stella (a.k.a., Scooter Brown) is a Tennessean Trickster type. In reality, they’re both just lovable mutts, sprinkled with a bit of Britney Spaniel/Terrier (Maggie) and Boxer/Whippet (Stella) mix.
Q: Why did you choose these dogs?
It’s probably cliché to say, but our dogs really chose us! Out of the hundreds of dog pictures and bios that I went through on Petfinder’s website, when I landed on Maggie and Stella’s profile I just knew we were the parents for them. My intuition was spot on!
Q: Do you talk to your dogs? If so, what do you talk about?
Absolutely – I have some of my best conversations with my dogs! I often tell them that I love them and that they’re beautiful. Contrarily, our non-verbal conversations are just as meaningful and, sometimes even more so than our spoken dialogue. I have discovered that dogs have a “sixth sense” about things and just know when their humans are in need of comfort. Often, when I’m sad or stressed, they respond by sitting close by my side or slobbering me with kisses. Either way, it’s a very endearing form of communication to reassure me that everything is going to be okay.
Q: If they could talk to you, what would they say?
Stella would most likely say, “Sorry I ate the couch, Mom.”
Maggie, on the other hand, would reply: “I’m sorry Stella ate the couch, I tried to stop her. I failed in my watchdog duties today. Please forgive me.”
And both would convey, “Mom, we love you and we like it the most when we’re hiking in the woods or when we’re snuggling next to each other!”
Q: If your dogs had a job or career, what would they be doing?
Maggie most definitely would be a police officer. She is the epitome of what it means to be a faithful protector. She specializes in guarding her people and property and is always on the lookout for trouble brewing (e.g., like our neighbors attempting to take a stroll through the neighborhood). Even though her bark is a bit daunting, she is quite a people person underneath it all. She just needs a little time to warm up to you.
Stella, on the other hand, is a very interesting character. If she were to take on a human career, I would venture to guess that she would probably be an actress or a model. It’s not that she is in constant need of attention or melodramatic, however she certainly knows how to put on a performance or strike a pose when people are watching. And, of course, she loves to sit in her “chair” which we call her throne!
Q: What lesson in life have your dogs taught you?
Without question, unconditional love. Our dogs have been there for us through thick and thin, in good times and in bad. They are faithful, loyal companions who rarely complain – even when we forget to bring home the biscuits! They are just so happy to see us when we walk through the door – not one thing matters more to them than our companionship. Quite simply, after a very long and challenging day at work, that type of love and devotion is priceless!
Q: How do your dogs inspire you?
They actually encourage me to slow down, to live in the moment and to not take life too seriously. I love my career, but the work is demanding and can sometimes be all-consuming. When I come home from a long day at the office they manage to bring out the fun in me, which is such a huge stress reliever and a much-needed reprieve.
Q: Where are your dogs favorite places to go with you?
Typically, anywhere we are they want to be, however they especially love it when we take them for hikes. Pixie Falls, which is part of the Nipmuck Trail in the Natchaug State Forest, is one of their favorite spots. They LOVE to run up and down the trails and frolic and romp in the streams and water crossings. It’s so much fun to watch their enjoyment and freedom.
Q: Who or what do your dogs find the most interesting?
This may sound a bit strange, but for whatever reason Maggie is infatuated with ice-cubes. As soon as she hears the refrigerator door open she runs over to collect another “treat”. I heard once that ice-cubes may actually be unsafe for dogs, but I followed up with my vet and she said they are fine to give in moderation. Thank goodness because she LOVES them! And for Stella, it’s watching bees (I think she must have been a beekeeper in a past life). They enamor her, almost in a hypnotic way. The endless attraction keeps her busy for hours on end.
Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?
A person who ultimately abandons their dog is very troubling to me. Rescuing, adopting or purchasing any type of animal is a life-long commitment, however seeing so many critters in need of homes proves that not everyone shares this same sentiment. Just spend a few minutes on PetFinder’s website and you’ll soon learn that thousands of dogs, cats or other animal types are abandoned everyday. It’s really quite sad. People really need to be more accountable and get educated on what it takes to be an animal owner over the long haul.
Q: What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?
A responsible dog owner to me is one who treats their dog like a child or as part of the family. Love, respect and commitment pretty much sum it up.
Q: Do you ever dress up your dogs? If so, as what?
We have never gotten into the trend of dressing up our dogs, however on very cold winter days we do have a pink fleece coat for Stella for when we play or hike outside for an extended period of time. Maggie, on the other hand, could live in an igloo – she is unequivocally a winter dog.
Q: How have your dogs changed your life?
Well, other than infusing endless amounts of fun and play into my day, I can no longer tie my running shoes or practice yoga without getting my face licked off.
Q: Do your dogs have a philosophy of life?
This is a tough question. I’m sure they do have a unique perspective on life, however it’s difficult to say exactly what that would be (believe me, I asked but they didn’t respond). However, I once heard the following quote, which likely sums up their belief of how they view the world around them: “We [humans] live our lives as if nothing is a miracle. Dogs live their lives as if everything is a miracle.” ~Author Unknown
Q: I love my dogs because they 1000% love me back!
Q: Have you ever made dog treats for your dogs? If so, please share your recipe.
No, I never have – I don’t spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Now I feel like a bad parent.
WAGGLEVIEW®: These interviews are focused on leaders in business, the arts, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected people in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about pets and what these people do? This is a platform for people to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their pet!
Thank you Colleen for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview®.
If your dogs had jobs, what would they be doing?
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Thanks for reading and sharing your love of dogs!