We’ve been focusing on posting stories out of our Lost Souls: FOUND! series on this blog, but today we’ve got a supplemental piece to our newsletter. This month’s “Work + Dog” section features Christy Myhre, her dog, Toki, and Toki Poki, and awesome pet trading card company that does all it can to support dog rescue and other great causes (for example, last month the sold packs of canine-alized (can’t really say personalized, can we?) Valentine’s Day cards, and for each set a person bought, they also donated 500 cards to a children’s hospital. How cool is that?
The purpose of this section is to introduce you to interesting people and inspire would-be pet industry entrepreneurs. So, get inspired! Here’s Christy’s story:
Toki came into my life in February of 2000 in the same way that pets often come into people’s lives. Toki chose me. Jumping elated into the air, she grabbed my sweatshirt sleeve and stared at me with big, round eyes as if to implore, “Will you be my Valentine?” I accepted, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
In 2006, Toki was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor (MCT), a type of skin cancer that can spread throughout a pet’s body and release chemicals that can regularly cause gastric ulcers, internal bleeding, and other potential life-threatening illnesses. I had no idea at the time what a mast cell cancer tumor was and honestly had no idea what to do. I’ve never been the type that just listened to the doctor – I wanted to speak with pet owners that had similar experiences. My internet research at that time resulted in no connections (as this was prior to the big social networking boom), so in the little time I had to make a decision, I trusted my specialist and went with what she said. After several tests and two surgeries, Toki came home with what we refer to as her 6″ tummy tuck. The tumors were removed and we waited for her results. As I watched her lie in a sunbeam with a frozen bag of corn on her belly, I promised Toki her very own website; all she needed to do was recover quickly, so we could build it together. Her biopsy results came back with clean margins. HURRAY!
Toki’s nickname became the name of our website: TokiPoki.com. My intention with Toki Poki® was to create an online community that puts our pets front-and-center rather than the owners. And why not? It’s our pets who often bring us together as a community, and pets who give context to many of our interactions and conversations. Toki Poki® trading cards are simply an extension of that; where pet owners can make custom trading cards of their own pet. After all, aren’t pets our best “team players”? Why shouldn’t they have their own trading cards to collect, share, and spread the word?
As a result of this pet venture, Toki and I have made many new friends around the country – amazing people and their incredible pets that I would never have met if it wasn’t for my dog. We have created an online pet community where people reach out to each other for questions and support. We have also been able to give back in rewarding ways such as our Toki Poki® trading card deliveries made to children’s hospitals several times each year. Toki has had a number of additional mast cell cancer tumors removed since 2006, but with the support our Toki Poki® members, the journey remains bright and inspiring even in the most challenging of times. Toki was honored by being named the 2012 “Canine Cancer Hero” for the 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Both Toki and I were proud to raise awareness on the early warning signs of canine cancer and to give back to what triggered our adventure in the first place.