About Danita Blackwood

Danita Blackwood is a writer and media professional with skills in a variety of formats including video production, media training, new media and social media promotion. A former television reporter and producer, Danita produced the nation’s top rated local morning newscast. She draws on this experience to contribute and place segments on national television programs and online outlets including more than sixty local television stations, radio programs, and local websites. Her public relations and strategic communications experience includes case studies, blogs, and partnership initiatives with corporations and federal agencies.

Made in America – A Difference for Your Neighbors and Our Future

 

Festivals, parades and fireworks displays are all a part of summer fun in the United States. When buying goods for your family do you look for products made in America?sparklers_Flag

I grew up checking to see where products were manufactured. My father and grandfather were union carpenters who stressed it was part of being a good citizen to support American jobs whenever possible.

It is still very important to millions of jobs. Manufacturers contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016 according to the National Association of Manufacturers.manufacturing_industrial

 

Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index finds the United States is no longer the world’s top manufacturing center. While China is the top manufacturing nation currently, Deloitte analysts predict the United States will regain the number one position from China by the end of the decade.

One entrepreneur is giving shoppers new options to buy American. Todd Lipscomb, an Asia expert and former tech industry executive, was so haunted by what he learned living in Asia; he chucked it all to found MadeinUSAforever.com  workman_tools

The website features American-made products in one easy to use site with thousands of small businesses represented. It is one of several websites making it easier to locate American made goods.

Writing about my dad and grandfather and their commitment to buy American whenever possible I want to share this vintage commercial that with a catchy jingle!

Happy birthday America!

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Tips to Make July a Fun Time for Pets

 

205382_4461940550881_1160270335_nThe beginning of July can be a very tough time for pets. Many people get an early start on Independence Day celebrations with their own fireworks and even gunfire! In my neighborhood the backyard fireworks began as soon as the local fireworks stands went up.DSCN1632BucaneerStatePark

These loud noises can send cats and dogs into a state of panic that often lead them to crash through screens, jump a fence or find another method of escape. There are ways to make July 4th safer and less stressful for pets. It starts with keeping your pet inside as much as possible before and after the holiday. In some extreme cases, check with your veterinarian about tranquilizers to help your pet.

It is smart to take pets out on a leash in the in the early evening, well before nightfall, to avoid noisy fireworks. Please do not take a dog to watch a large community or commercial firework display. This only increases the chances of a pet becoming lost in an unfamiliar area. Keep furry family members safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.236504

The Fourth of July and grilling go hand and hand. It may seem like a great idea to reward pets with scraps from the grill. In reality, some festive 4th foods and products can be hazardous to your pets. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals. Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them! Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets.

Champ chow Alvin

Chow ready to chow down!

July 4th trips or any summer outing with your dog may tempt you to help them by sharing your outdoor products. This can be dangerous! Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems. Have a fun and safe summer with your furry friends.

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Tips for Take Your Dog to Work Day

Friday, June 23, 2017 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. For some animal lovers, it is the one day of the year they are permitted to bring their dogs into the workplace. It is a daily ritual for a growing number of Americans.

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Take Your Dog to Work Day Tips

Eight percent of all U.S. pet owners are allowed to bring their pet to work according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). The number of companies allowing pets in the workplace is on the rise. Researchers found support among the American workforce for pets on the job:

55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment

50 million believe having pets in workplace helps co-workers get along better

38 million believe having pets in workplace creates a more productive work environment

37 million believe having pets in workplace helps improve relationships between managers and staff

Are you planning on taking your dog to work for the first time? Make sure your office environment is safe. Remove poisonous plants and pesticides, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as permanent markers. Any office items in question should be placed out of reach.09_tydtwday_hitachi_data_systems___staff3

Make sure your dog is fit for work. Even dogs don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Be sure your dog’s shots are current. Make plans to have your dog bathed and groomed before accompanying you to work. Be mindful of your dog’s “work readiness.” You know your dog’s demeanor, so if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider how your dog has behaved in the past around strangers before making the decision to bring him. If your dog has shown fear, irritability or aggression, or if your dog has never met strangers, the workplace is not the best place for him.

Have a doggie bag. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant. If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind.

Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully. During an important sales call is probably not the best time for a bathroom break. Plan your dog’s feeding time around your work schedule and be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

Champ chow Alvin

Chow ready to chow down!

Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog. Dog lovers will make themselves known. Sally from accounting and Joe in human resources may not want to play fetch or offer belly rubs, so be mindful of fellow employees’ time and space. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given from your co-workers. Remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs and that not all non-dog owners will be aware that these items can be very toxic to your pooch.11169932_10153285246389184_5258844094715746244_n

Have an exit strategy. Although most dogs enjoy being with owners at work, your pet may not. Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your professional pet sitter to offer a midday check-in visit. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work!09_tydtwday_hitachi_data_systems___staff

Fast and Furriest Is Much More Than a Timed 5K Run & 1M Walk With Your Dog

Most Dogs Are Natural Networkers 

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Your neighborhood is filled with dog lovers. In the United States, nearly half of all households, 44 percent, include at least one dog according to the American Pet Products Association. Not only are dogs great companions, they help connect their owners to their communities and people who enjoy being outdoors with their pets.

Just visit a park to see what I mean. Pets are natural networkers introducing their owners to a variety of possibilities. FF-group-336x223I recall a dog park visit where I met a woman and her pet visiting for the first time. Hank was met with wagging tails. Hank’s owner had just moved from Atlanta. Other pet parents learned Hank came into her life in college and has been a constant companion through moves, break-ups and celebrations including the job promotion to Saint Louis. Hank helps her meet people, network and explore their new neighborhood.

You see, Hank loves to exercise with his owner. I mean serious running. Hank is a Whippet, a superb athlete as well as a gentle companion. Several of us made sure Hank can stretch his legs in an upcoming event to help homeless pets. I want to make sure you know about it too whether you have a pet or not! ffThe 9th Annual Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk will be Sunday, April 23, 2017 at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights. The run is the Saint Louis original dog-owner professionally-timed race. Others with or without pets will take part in the walk at a leisurely pace or activities on the grounds. This is an event not only for athletes, but the entire family! There will be food trucks, vendors in addition to the activities. This major fundraiser for homeless pets in the Saint Louis area is sponsored by Purina.

Great FFYou can take a gamble on the 1 mile Pooch Poker Walk, which offers a more leisurely pace with the added fun of creating your best possible poker hand along the way. Both the 5K and 1M come complete with a race t-shirt and the best goody bag in town. There are special awards for fastest runners in each age group and for the fastest overall male and female dogs. But you don’t have to have a dog to get in on the fun.

FF%Collecting pledges for your participation with your pooch is another way to involve your friends and family while increasing your impact to help pets. A generous donor is matching all the pledges at the Fast and Furriest to raise double the amount for homeless pets at the APA Adoption Center. The top fundraiser will lead the race and gets a grand prize

It is easy to get registered and be a part of this fun mission to help pets. This is the link to learn more, register and invite pledges or visit the APA’s website at apamo.org.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to spend some quality time with your pup, get some exercise, help homeless pets and meet great people who love dogs. I’ll be there and I hope you will too!

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Take a Holiday Pause to Make Holiday Paws Ornaments With Your Family

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Are you shopping for your pets this holiday?

I will join other pet parents in lines for Santa photos and buying holiday themed pet products.

image7Overall spending in the pet industry reached a record $60.28 billion in 2015 and this holiday season will help set another record according to the American Pet Products Association.

It is expected 2016 could close out upwards of $62 billion dollars based on early strong holiday spending.

Pet owners on average will spend $62 on their pets according to PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘ Holiday Outlook report. And millennials are spending even more at an average of $81, projects PwC researchers.

20151213_140520_resizedYou don’t have to spend a lot to include your pets in the celebration.

Paw prints ornaments can be a pet keepsake and holiday ornament.  Making your own ornaments can help bring families together and create memories as you craft your pet keepsakes.

I think the ornaments are easy to make and children can help.

cooking-ornaments2 There should be adult supervision while making since there is heat involved, but parents or grandparents can do the cooking for “Holiday Paws Ornaments.”

Easy DIY Holiday Paws Ornament Recipe

ornament-makingsMix ½ cup cornstarch + 1 cup baking soda in a saucepan. Slowly add ¾ cup of water while stirring. Place on medium heat and stir constantly.

Mixture will thicken, be sure you stir to bottom of the pan.

Once it comes together as a dough ball, let it cool so you can comfortably handle it.

Knead for a minute so it is workable. Cut into pieces, roll into balls and press flat.  Have your pet press paw into dough. Wipe your pet’s paw. The mixture is not toxic. Use a toothpick to make a small hole to hang the ornament.

great-ornBake in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes on a tray lined with foil or parchment paper. You can paint your pet’s name and outline their paws once ornaments cool….or you can leave plain and add string or ribbon to add to your tree!20151213_140520_resized

Taking time to interact with your pet can be fun and great for you too. Medical research and doctors agree pets can be an instant stress reliever. Not only can pets reduce anxiety, companion animals can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations.

The Warmest Cup Of Kindness

Recently part of my world came crashing down. Literally. A ceiling collapsed. I am grateful no one was hurt or killed. Pieces of insulation continue to waft down and bigger chucks of the ceiling continue to drop occasionally so that part of the house is off limits now.

20161017_083501-1It has changed the way I move in my home and disrupted my routine. It can be cold in the house.

When I left this morning for coffee, I was wearing layers like I might be heading for a hike in the Cascades. I didn’t feel good about my morning or engaging with anyone.

Uncharacteristically sitting in a back corner, I didn’t think it would be an issue. My personal neon “closed” sign was up.zqa3wt2cl9_stop

That changed in an instant. A gentleman I often see in the shop, left his table and came over. We don’t know each other except we go to the same place for coffee. We’ve said good morning to each other before or remarked about the weather, but never anything more than one or two words.

I fired a verbal warning volley as he walked toward my table, making apologies for my insulated layers, casually up-swept hair and bare face explaining it wasn’t the best morning. I was cold in more than ways than one. He did something so kind and so unexpected, it left me speechless.rzcqtq4uny_coffee_hand

He told me he had to come over to tell me he had grown accustomed to seeing my face and had been disappointed when he came in and I had not been there. I sat there speechless.  He quickly said he’d flubbed his line, but was glad to see me and turned to walk away.

I found the words to thank him for his kindness and explain I had been in a bad mood because I was cold. I only realize now in writing this, I didn’t invite him to sit down. He stood there and told me he understood. He often has chills because of the drugs he takes to fight inoperable cancer in several areas of his body.

I hadn’t known this. I had noticed before he sometimes used a walking stick or cane. A younger man with an athletic build I had just assumed it was some kind of sports injury. I told him I had noticed today he was walking unaccompanied. He then shared how even this accomplishment was frustrating. Just the day before his diagnosis, he had skated 14 miles!

I regret I never asked him to sit down. I did find out what the next phase of his treatment is and when it will happen. I will be praying for him.

How kind he is. Seeing I was obviously not my ‘normal’ self and reaching out to me today. If you found out you were dying would you be kinder?  Live life more?  Well, we all are. 

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The Benefits of Pets in the Workplace

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Some of my dearest friends I met at work. So it was a natural fit when a couple of my employers opened the door to my best friend, my dog.dog-1134492_960_720

Eight percent of all U.S. pet owners are allowed to bring their pet to work according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). The number of companies allowing pets in the workplace is on the rise.

“While this does not work for all companies, studies have shown that pets reduce stress which can ultimately increase productivity,” said APPA Executive Vice President & COO Andy Darmohraj. “We’ve had dogs, cats and fish at our office over the years and they have been a source of joy and a real morale booster.” 549978_10200513195216643_1431418705_n

Researchers found support among the American workforce for pets on the job:

55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment

50 million believe having pets in workplace helps co-workers get along better

38 million believe having pets in workplace creates a more productive work environment

37 million believe having pets in workplace helps improve relationships between managers and staff

236506There is evidence employees with pets at work are healthier. Studies show the presence of friendly animals can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol and regularly interacting with animals can reduce anxiety and promote calmness.

Need more proof pets would benefit your business? Check out this persuasive pet infographic.

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Benefits of a pet-friendly workplace Infographic

Benefits of a pet-friendly workplace Infographic by Petco