The Invention of Pawz Dog Boots

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Art and science are closely related. I used to think of creative people as those who paint, write, or arrange music. My definition of creativity expanded when I heard about Gary Friedland. Who is he?

Gary Friedland is a retired art director who became an inventor. One day he tapped into his artistic talent to create Pawz dog boots. Here’s the back story (no pun intended) of how I came to learn about Pawz.

Our dog, Buddy, drags his feet on the pavement. Pawz boots help him walk without developing painful sores. We learned about Pawz from the physical therapist who worked with Buddy after he had back surgery. His red boots have become a conversation piece on the street. In fact, he’s wearing them on the cover of my new children’s book.

In the process of launching Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street, I contacted Andrea Friedland, manager of customer relations for Pawz. Andrea was happy to learn their product helped Buddy lead a healthier life. She was delighted that our beagle is shown wearing his red boots on the cover of my book. Now I’ve partnered with Pawz and the company is providing free samples of dog boots for my book signings.

Buddy meets Andrea Friedland, customer service representative from Pawz.

Buddy, Herb, and I met Andrea while she was in Orlando last week for the Global Pet Expo. During our meeting we learned all about the creation of Pawz. Andrea’s father in law, Gary Friedland, enjoyed taking his dog for walks in New York City. He wanted to protect Huckleberry’s feet from the salt and chemicals used to melt ice on city sidewalks. Every dog boot he tried had problems. Some boots fell off and disappeared in the snow. Other boots were not comfortable for Huckleberry. There’s an old saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Gary designed and patented a rubber dog boot that stayed on Huckleberry’s feet. Unlike other boots, Huckleberry did not fight wearing Pawz because he could feel the ground when he walked. In 2005, Gary teamed up with his son, Michael, to form the Pawz company. Today their product is distributed by 8,000 independent retail stores in 26 countries.

I’m inspired by Gary’s story. For most of his life, he probably never thought of himself as an inventor. Now he is known for creating a new product that helps dogs live healthier lives. Opportunity knocked for Gary. Instead of thinking, “This is out of my wheelhouse.” He opened the door.

“The reason so many people never get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers.” —Walter P. Chrysler

First, Gary wasn’t fearful of trying something new. Next, he turned to family members with business skills for help. Finally, he didn’t try to avoid the hard work necessary to succeed.

For information about my first book signing click here.

Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street is also available on Amazon.

Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street

A heartwarming story about an injured dog and his road to recovery.

I am delighted to announce the publication of my first children’s book. Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street (Elk Lake Publishing) is now available in paperback. I displayed a copy for Buddy to see but he seemed to be more interested in a belly rub. During the first year he lived with us, our little beagle would have chewed on the book’s cover. At age eight, Buddy is much more mature.

Although this little chapter book is written for children ages six to nine, the whole family will enjoy the inspiration it delivers. Buddy’s life story starts when Henry and Jen adopt him from a beagle rescue. Written from a dog’s point of view, Buddy shares his opinions about people, food, and the house rules. When a tragic accident paralyzes his hind legs, he finds he needs everyone’s help and months of therapy to recover. Buddy doesn’t give up trying to walk, even when Blitz, the neighborhood bully dog laughs at him.

Jenny Laskowski captures Buddy’s adorable personality in her illustrations.

My journey to become an author has been a lot like Buddy’s story. There were times I wanted to give up. As every writer knows, it takes perseverance to keep going when your manuscript is rejected. It was only through the encouragement of my friend Sherri Stewart, that I resumed working on this project after a long sabbatical. My next pitch to Deb Haggerty of Elk Lake resulted in a contract for publication. I am so thankful for Deb and my literary agent, Michelle Lazurek who made this book possible. Of course I want to give special thanks to my illustrator, Jenny Laskowski.

When Derinda, an Elk Lake designer, was assigned to my book I began a crash course in editing I will never forget. By working with Derinda I discovered I use too many exclamation marks when I write. (I tend to get excited.) I think it’s a habit I developed from writing comments on facebook. In all seriousness, Derinda helped me take my manuscript to the next level. The whole process gave me a new appreciation of the amount of work involved in producing a book.

To purchase Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street click here. I invite your honest and helpful reviews. I welcome you to help me launch my book by sharing this post on your social media sites.

“Any dog lover, young or old, will be able to relate to this heartwarming story about an injured dog and his road to recovery. Debbie Burton shares this real-life adventure with passion and humor.” —Dr. Randall Hart, Principal, Dover Shores Elementary.

The Making of a Champion

“You may not succeed, but you will lose for sure if you don’t try.”

Meet my neighbor, Reed Zuehkle. Although he excels in several sports, he is known for his achievements as an international ski jumper. So what’s a ski jumper doing in Orlando? To to be truthful, I don’t know those details. But I’m excited to share a few details of his life as an overcomer. Here are a few of Reed’s accomplishments in the sport of ski jumping:

  • qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in 1980 and 1984.
  • won the U.S. National championship in 1982.
  • placed fourth in the World Cup in 1985.

Reed’s stats are impressive. But what’s more impressive to me are the challenges he overcame to accomplish his goals. When he was five years old Reed was stricken with polio. Night after night he woke up screaming with severe leg pains. The pain only lessened when his mother came to his bedside and massaged his legs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

After his parents consulted a doctor about his symptoms, Reed was hospitalized for tests. Eventually the family learned his pain resulted from a reaction to the oral polio vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine which was supposed to protect him contained the live virus.

The doctor prescribed orthopedic shoes. Reed thought the shoes were ugly and took them off whenever his mother wasn’t looking. His leg pains continued for a year. Polio weakens a person’s muscles. The doctors advised his parents to not expect much out of him physically. In fact he was advised to not exert himself. This news crushed his parents. Reed and his family lived in Wisconsin and most of their family life revolved around skiing. In fact his father, Keith Zeuhkle, won the National Ski Jump Championship in 1956.

Home Therapy

Reed’s parents refused to accept the doctor’s advice. They started a daily regiment of exercise to help strengthen his leg muscles. This involved making Reed sit on a shelf in a closet and lift sand bags with his legs. He started with one pound bags. As he got stronger, the weight increased. Reed still remembers his sisters standing outside the open closet door and cheering him on. Eventually he could lift heavier sandbags than any of his four siblings and his leg pains stopped.

Pursuing His Dream

When Reed’s father wasn’t working to support his family, he coached at the local ski club. As a kid, Reed always hung out with his family at the club. Skiing was their way of life. At age ten, he won his first local competition. During his adolescent years he advanced to national and international events. In 1982 Reed won the same national competition his father won in 1956.

Polio wasn’t the only physical challenge Reed overcame. In December of 1978 he tore a ligament in his left knee during the Four Hills competition in Germany. This condition required surgery. In those days patients were required to wear a full leg cast for eight weeks. Consequently, his knee joint froze and wouldn’t bend. Reed had another surgery on his right knee for torn cartilage soon after the cast on his left leg was removed. He spent another eight weeks in a full cast which resulted in another frozen knee joint.

Determined to jump again, Reed spent the summer and fall of 1979 training hard to regain the flexibility in his joints. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic team one year after his accident at Four Hills.

“Don’t Give Up”

I asked Reed what advice he might offer to anyone facing a challenge. He responded, “It’s easy to give up. Anybody can do that. Unless you buy a lottery ticket, you’re not even in the running. You may not succeed but you will lose for sure if you don’t try. If you really believe in something, don’t give up.”

Since his father worked a lot, Reed considers his mother the driving force behind his motivation to be an overcomer. He was glad his parents set high expectations for his recovery. He knew sitting on the sidelines wasn’t for him. Reed knew what is was like “to be put on the shelf,” and he sure didn’t want to stay there.

Most of us will never become Olympic athletes but we all have challenges in our lives. Reed’s story helps me remember to persevere. Success might be right around the corner.