Monday, May 11, 2009

Zelda Wisdom

While I was in Portland, I met Carol Gardner, a truly amazing and inspiring woman. She and her bulldog, Zelda, have created a real success story. Her website is clever and you might want to sign up for her daily "Zelda Wisdom" pithy statements, accompanied by Zelda dressed in far-out outfits, which, I hear, she absolutely LOVES! We all need something silly and warm-hearted these days.

At the age of 52, Carol Gardner was facing a divorce that left her with a huge debt, no job, no income, and depressed. Her divorce attorney gave her some advice: “Get a therapist, or get a dog.” Gardner chose the latter and bought a four-month-old English bulldog she named Zelda. They were both underdogs looking for a big dose of unconditional love.

A friend who knew of Carol’s financial plight told her about an annual Christmas card contest that a local pet store was sponsoring. The winner would receive forty pounds of free dog food every month for a year. Carol used her background as a creative director in advertising to combine the visual of Zelda along with verbal wit and wisdom.

With the Christmas theme in mind, Carol borrowed a Santa hat from a neighbor, filled the bathtub with bubble bath and lowered Zelda into the tub. With the hat on her head and a beard made from the bubbles, Zelda was the perfect Santa imposter. Carol snapped the photo and sent it off to the store with the one-liner: “For Christmas I got a dog for my husband... good trade, huh?” Six weeks later Zelda and Carol won the contest. She remembers asking Zelda how many ways she knew to fix dog chow!

Carol sent the prize-winning image out as holiday cards to all of her friends. The overwhelming response sparked the creation of Zelda Wisdom and a few years later, the attention of Hallmark. The unique international greeting card, gift, clothing, jewelry and book line offers wisdom such as “Life is tough...wear a helmet.” “Smile...it could be worse!” “Enjoy life...this is not a rehearsal.” “Go braless...it pulls the wrinkles down.”

Zelda, whose measurements are 32-32-32, allows us to laugh at ourselves and to recognize that things could be worse. “At the core of Zelda Wisdom is humor and healing,” says Gardner. “She always makes me laugh. Zelda and I started out as underdogs, but we are proof that you don’t have to be thin, rich, young or wrinkle-free to be successful. More importantly, you don’t have to be perfect.”

Charles Gibson of Good Morning America calls Zelda “the industry’s top dog!…a supermodel that has it all!” Tough but tender, sweet but strong, Zelda has attitude. Zelda Wisdom allows us to laugh at ourselves and helps us realize that in life’s ups and down, we are never alone. There is a Zelda in all of us!

Zelda is the official "spokesdog" of Delta Society Pet Partners®, an international program dedicated to the human-animal healing bond. She's a certified therapy dog and works with children who have learning disabilities. Zelda's one-liners keep them laughing while they learn to read and write.

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