There was no one in the world I trusted more than Connie, my mom. I will never forget when I had the idea for creating a soft-sided pet carrier, which turned into The SHERPA Bag, and was the staple of a multi-million-dollar global business. When I first told my mom my idea she said, “I believe you darling and I will help you in any way I can.” And help she did. She was my first investor and gave me five thousand dollars to start my business, which later became The SHERPA Pet Trading Company. In every business book it says to make sure you choose a business partner you trust. I loved and trusted Connie. She handled the financials, inventory, pricing and documentation of the numbers and sales—all by hand in a 39-cent ledger! I vividly remember her telling me one day, “Don’t say that you work hard. Everybody works hard.” Advice like that kept me grounded.

Around Mother’s Day, I often reflect on my time with Connie but also think about all the different mothers out there: moms, grandmas, stepmoms, adoptive moms, foster moms, godmothers, aunts… all maternal figures, including moms to pets!

While I don’t have human children of my own, I do have a dog, KoKo, whom I love and cherish. I have nurtured and loved KoKo since I received her at 10-weeks and had to jump into the role as her mom, especially as she left her birth mother behind. I channeled how my mom helped me any way she could, and I knew that I needed to do the same for KoKo. I laugh because I often hear people say “Parenting doesn’t come with an instructional manual” but the thing is, every mother and child is different, and there could never be a manual that would be applicable to everyone. This applies to pets, as well. I needed to love and train KoKo for ME because I was her mom, nobody else. Luckily, I had some experience, having had four dogs previously, and learned from my mistakes and repeated my successes as I navigated the new mom role with KoKo. As a veteran dog mom, I knew I needed to train her properly so I could take her everywhere I went with me because my philosophy is do what you love, in the places you love, with the people and pets you love. In our society, pets need to be well-trained to be able to go with you wherever you go! And boy, do I go a lot of places, so this was a must!

While I don’t have an instructional manual to share with you on being a dog mom, I do have some tips that worked for me and KoKo.

Safe & Secure: Puppies need a place to safely play and sleep, especially when you are not there to supervise them 24-7. A SHERPA Bag is great for small dogs but if you have a bigger breed, investigate crates and pens. Just like children have a playpen, dogs have them too so they can move around and explore safely without hurting themselves or having accidents all over the house!

Potty Time: Potty training might feel daunting, but we all go through it! Using a pee pad was very beneficial for KoKo as it was convenient to have her go to the bathroom whenever she needed to. Knowing that I travel a lot, and planned to travel with her, I knew that focusing on this was important. If you have the time and outdoor space, teaching the dog to go outside and give you cues such as sitting by the door or even ringing a bell, has worked for people, as well. Figure out what works best for your lifestyle!

Party Animal: Once your dog can safely be around other dogs (go to the veterinarian and they will let you know what shots are needed) it is important to socialize them. This also includes having them be with other humans and if you feel comfortable, children. You want to introduce your puppy early on to as many places, people, and pups!

Helpful Habits: If you don’t want your soon-to-be dog (puppies grow up very quickly) begging for table scraps, sleeping in your bed (although mine sleeps with me!), chewing furniture, etc. you MUST break these habits early on. It is important to evaluate what you want and don’t want for your dog, and then focus on not doing those things that you don’t want during the puppy stage because it will be much harder to break bad habits later on! Look into training classes that teach how to train your dog with positive reinforcement.

#Moming is not for the weak and is a full-time job. I appreciate and recognize all the moms this upcoming Mother’s Day and want to thank you for making a difference in this world! For my dog moms out there, may you always be do what you love, in the places you love, with the people and pets you love! Happy Mother’s Day!

Gayle Martz is the SilverDisobedience Pet Ambassador who will be sharing her insight on a variety of pet-related topics. Gayle is the founder of The SHERPA Pet Trading Company, where she single-handedly designed, manufactured and marketed the iconic SHERPA Bag you see everywhere! This carrier, which millions have bought for their dogs, cats and other animal companions, continues to be THE top-selling, prize-winning, globally-popularly soft-sided pet carrier. Further, it is because of Gayle’s advocacy and entrepreneurship that pet travel on airlines is now possible and common. Gayle’s the author of “IT’S IN THE BAG”, which is part memoir and part business book.