PART ONE: WRITTEN BY HEATHER DOWDY
Eleven years ago, I emptied what little savings I had and poured it, along with my heart, into launching a dream: to start a magazine that would celebrate the bond with our pets while supporting animal rescue and welfare in our community. All industry statistics suggested that my efforts would crash and burn; after all, 60% of magazines fail within the first year. Fortunately, I was either too naïve or too stubborn to worry about that much, and plowed onward.
It was not easy. Early on, our magazine suffered the effects of a recession. A writer by profession, the editorial came easy but operating the business, publishing, advertising and events were totally new to me. I stumbled, I fell, I got up and dusted off my knees and tried again. But it was not only my tenacity and hard work that kept this publication moving along; it was the endless support from our tremendous community that truly has allowed it to succeed and become what it is today.
The success lies in the amazing people who deliver our issues to stands all across Middle Tennessee each issue; in the volunteers who work so hard to make our community events flow smoothly; in our design, photography and editorial team who bring their talents and hard work to the table every issue to bring you the best content in the most beautiful format possible. And the success lies in the incredible support of our sponsors and advertisers, many of whom have been with us for many years. Their support is what allows us to print this magazine every issue and to continue to be able to offer it as a free resource to our community. And the success lies in the unwavering and constant support of my husband, Chris. He is my rock, my very best friend and the love of my life, and his compassion, devotion and contagious joy inspires me daily. He has been the solid force behind the scenes (and often lifting heavy things at events!) that has allowed me to put my very best forward, each and every day.
I can never adequately express what everyone’s support has meant to me personally as well as to our mission, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart. These have been the most challenging and most rewarding eleven years of my life, and I am excited to see where this magazine grows from here. However, this year is ushering in some new changes that I’d like to share with you.
As some of you may know, I have two autoimmune diseases and I just turned forty. I am realizing that my health will only decline with time, and it is increasingly important that I take time to focus on my health and wellbeing, as well as to chase any other dreams while I still can! For over a year now, Chris and I have dreamed of exploring the Pacific Northwest together with Briley. We have been working on a plan to make all of this work for some time now, and I am thrilled that we have found a wonderful way to keep Nashville Paw moving forward with its mission, while allowing us to follow our wanderlust and explore other creative endeavors.
This week, I transferred ownership of Nashville Paw magazine to an incredible and compassionate man named Jeff Miller. He and his fabulous wife, Joy (along with their adorable dogs Ren and Kevin) live in East Nashville and will be taking the reigns to continue this free magazine and our community events. After a long search for the right people and a long process of making sure it was the right fit, I have no doubt that Jeff and Joy are the very best people to take this magazine into the future. Their heart for animal welfare and rescue—and their personal love for the dogs with whom they share their life—are a testament to the passion and care they will put into this publication. Jeff’s experience is rooted in business but is matched with equal parts creativity and heart. I can think of no one better to continue the legacy of Nashville Paw magazine.
What’s more, I am happy to be staying on as Managing Editor—in the least for a good while—but I will be doing so from afar. The last week of June, Chris, Briley and I will be moving to Oregon to explore its vast prairies, glorious mountains, lush forests and jaw-dropping coastline. It is a part of the country we have never been able to explore and we’re thrilled about the opportunity to reconnect with the Great Outdoors in this meaningful way while my body is still able.
I cannot begin to tell you how much your support and love has meant to me over the years. Some of you began as readers or volunteers and became dear friends. I see your faces and your adorable dogs at our community events again and again. And many of you that I have never even met gave me such encouragement and showed such compassion and love when our old dogs passed last year. You have touched my heart in a way that I can never quite express, and I thank you for allowing me to have the Best Job Ever! these past eleven years. Thank you for helping me to realize and grow my small idea and big dream into something so much greater than myself, something that has been able to support and unite animal welfare causes throughout Middle Tennessee. I am eternally grateful for you welcoming me into Nashville with open arms in 2006.
I hope that you will do the same for my new, dear friends, Jeff and Joy. I am very excited to work alongside them as they continue this amazing endeavor in our community, and I hope that you will show him the same support and encouragement that you have shown me for over a decade. Together, we will ALL continue to make a difference for the animals in our community and beyond.
Words are not enough, but it is what I have: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
PART TWO: WRITTEN BY JEFF MILLER
Many of you have known Heather for over a decade and count her among your dearest friends. I’ve known her only a few months. Yet it took only a few hours with Heather for me to join the cadre of folks who express gratitude and pride for simply knowing this amazing community leader. If Heather were a shelter pup, that too would be for only a matter of hours. Shelter staff: “Yes, we understand that you are adamant about adopting her, but we really do need to get her checked out and treated before we can release her.” She wouldn’t last a night.
As Heather mentioned, I have a business background. Twenty-five years or so working for big corporate. I’m happy to say that in past tense, though it served me well and I it. From that experience, I drew upon a very basic concept in looking at Nashville Paw and how it aligned with my business and personal values. The concept is simple: Successful brands endure the same way successful personal relationships endure. We keep a person in our lives for the long haul because it works for us in unique ways that stand the test of time. I invite you to reflect on your own enduring relationships, personal ones or otherwise. Why do they endure while others come and go? Connection, Authenticity, Trust, Respect, Support, Values, Personal Growth? Put the word Mutual in front of all that, add them together and it equals endurance… a relationship that sticks around. The phrase “a brand should be sticky’ is real and oft repeated marketing parlance.
Which brings me to my wife, Joy, who deserves full-throated accolades here. Not because she’s sticky, mind you. Magnetic, yes. But also smooth to the touch. My point is, all of those words about enduring relationships were conjured up as I reflected on our marriage of ten years. I believe that I am, today, the best husband, father and friend that I have ever been to those around me. The difference is life + Joy. I can now add small-business owner to my roles and responsibilities. This, too, would not have been possible without the love and support of this beautiful, soft not sticky, woman appropriately named Joy.
Other "joys" in my life include Ren, our Chihuahua / Pomeranian and Kevin, our Border Collie / Springer Spaniel, both of whom you'll be hearing more about soon.
Finally and most importantly, my pledge to you, the Nashville Paw community… readers, volunteers, and industry professionals dedicated to compassionate pet wellness and rescue in Middle Tennessee: the Nashville Paw mission that Heather and you have created together is sacrosanct. I will protect and nurture what has been bestowed to me as an earnest labor of love.
PLEASE NOTE our new contact information for Nashville Paw magazine here.