Hi, I'm Dr. Pia Salk... And you are?

Posted by Pia

Before I formally introduce myself, I'd like to give a big shout out to Francesca and Sharkey for having me as a contributing blogger on the Daily Wag. I am honored to be invited by such prolific canines, and will hereby vow that I will share only the most useful, entertaining and enlightening information possible. Sharkey and Francesca have set the bar high, but I will work tirelessly to meet it!

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A little later in life... with a pair of raccoons in Idyllwild, California. This trio loks like they could get into a lot of trouble!

I am Dr. Pia Salk. While I am a psychologist for humans, my specialty is animal welfare and the human-animal bond. "Hmmm... go on..." you say in typical therapist-speak. And to this I say, Gladly, I'll start with my childhood!
Even as a small child I had a strong affinity for my fellow animals.

I distinctly remember that whenever I had the good fortune to pick out a stuffed animal at the local toy store, I would actually look for any that were missing an eye, ear or whisker and purchase that one. I feared others would pass them over as not worthy and I wanted them all to get the love they deserved!

At our summer cabin in Maine I recall posting a makeshift sign on the nearby dirt road to alert drivers to watch for toads, moles and the occasional garter snake. I believe I even threatened a nickel fine if reckless vacationers did not heed my crayon-written warning.

So while I was small in stature, I had a commitment to the animals that was anything but small. I saw the intrinsic value in members of all species and wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who I felt needed my help. My childhood cat Seymour (pictured here) received all the benefits of having precocious Pia as his mommy!

When I grew up, I pursued a career in psychology. I was naturally analytical, and I had watched my father Dr. Lee Salk, a best selling author and psychologist, make a real difference for children by fostering an understanding of their needs and speaking on their behalf. As a professional, I have used my expertise on human nature to affirm the value of the human-animal bond; a bond that has been shown to have tremendous therapeutic value for those involved. At the same time, I want to raise awareness regarding the effect that our treatment of animals has on our children's understanding of compassion and personal responsibility--for better or worse.

Since personal responsibility resides in the choices we make, I am honored to have the opportunity to blog about pet adoption as one of those choices.

There is great power in our choices, and the choice to welcome a shelter pet into one's home literally saves a life. The ripple effect of such a choice is something I will often highlight in this blog.

I will frequently report on the life-saving choices the YOU, the readers, are making every day to help your fellow critters; the piece of the puzzle that each of you is taking on to help the homeless animals among us -- you the mom, the teacher, the local business -- how you are creating a ripple of your own and an example for the rest of us to follow.

Additionally, I will speak to the ways in which these furry creatures ultimately teach us a thing or two. Anyone who has adopted an animal in need can likely attest to this. Whether it's a lesson in forgiveness, trust and resilience or an account of how a furry member of the family literally saved a life, I will share the tales!

So again, thanks to Francesca and Sharkey, and their human mom, Martha, for helping those waiting for loving homes by giving them this exposure. And thanks to the caring folks at Purina for getting behind this important cause!

All that these adoptable treasures really crave is a soft pillow on which to rest their furry little heads -- preferably a hand crafted vintage gingham one with chenille piping and few homemade dog biscuits slow-baked by the masterful Martha herself….

But then, a plain pillow would be fine too...

In Kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (15)

  • What a pleasure to read of your wonderful gift and commitments Dr.Pia...we certainly will enjoy reading your comments and what ever you will share with us.
    I'm Delia, feral Kitty's mommie...we enjoy sitting here in the morning checking in on the latest F & S adventures and chiming in with our two cents.
    I'm "Kitty" and have been blessed by having been saved from surely starving or freezing to death in a harsh Wisconsin Winter 2007. Although it is hard for my mommie Delia to own another animal, as she has a great deal of pain when losing them, I want to give her much love and affection in return...
    more about me Kitty here.
    http://www.squidoo.com/feral_cat
    Delia is an award winning animal artist specializing in Horses, all her money made for her art goes to helping animals and spreading the word of God...you can also see more here http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/d-artist
    and a little side note...mommie delia is the SunMaid Raisin girl on the box since 1970...we share eating raisins.

  • Welcome! Dr, Salk!

    I'm Shoeboy, and it's really great to get the inside scoop on you. So you're a lover of all animals? Me, too!

    I liked seeing you as a little kid, you really look very much the same. Kinda grew into your feet, didn't you?...me, too!

    I had a little chat with Pickles, your fluffy white companion. We got off to a ruff start...forgot to welcome the little darling when I first welcomed you a few blogs back.

    But we got it all ironed out and now I find out your one of those Docs who fiddles with the Oreo middle? A psychology career, you say? I might have run away from folks like you before, but I'm glad now that you're around!

    There's too many of us pets who need, like you say, 'a soft pillow...'. Lots of us have stress disorders, too, you know, from all of the bad stuff that happens.

    Anyway, Me and "Baby Gherkin" (my nick name for your little white fluff, Pickles), are working together to help me with my fear of little white dogs!

    See? You're being here has already made a positive impact! I'm sure you're gonna have a lifetime of love a commitment to share with the greatest success!

    Thanks, again Dr. Salk! And once again, Welcome!

    PS. I know F&S are so excited about you and the Pickle (BG), too! And Martha's great, ain't she?

  • thank you for the wonderful article I agree animals teach us many lessons, for me the gift of patience and unconditional love that my pets have given me is so inspiring. I too have a lovely story of how my beloved pit bull saved MY life!

    Thank you

  • Welcome to you Dr. Pia Salk,

    Woof, My name is Mrs. Bosley Chow Chow and I am almost 14 years old. I live in Central CA where right now we are in another one of our summer heat waves. I wish I was in Maine right now woof woof~

    My human Mama saved me from an abusive family and she wished she had saved my sister too but when we went back to ask if we could give her a good home the family had moved in the night they were renters and they moved during the middle of the night and skipped out on their rent. We never did find out what happened to my sister, so I was indeed a lucky dog.
    I have a full and happy life here but I was born in Washington State far from my home here.

    I love The Daily Wag and my gals Franny & Sharkey, love to hear of their daily adventures and now we have you too, what a good life we have.

    I hope you enjoy The Daily Wag blog visitors as much as I like being one.

    My best to you. I hope a lot of other animals will find good homes because of folks like you are out there making sure we have a chance at a good life & home, there are so many out there who are in need of a safe haven filled with love & kindness.

    So nice & very happy to meet you.

    Mrs. Bosley Chow Chow

  • Welcome Dr. Salk,

    My rescue-dog, Fisher Jimmy, is a regular contributor to the Daily Wag and he and I have been anxiously awaiting your first post.

    I couldn't agree with you more about the wonderful act of adopting a pet. Fisher Jimmy is the latest addition to what has been a long line of animals in need. As you are well aware, every animal that has found his or her way into my life has been a tremendous blessing.

    My children have a tremendous love and respect for all animals and each of our pets is another "child" in our home. We celebrate all their birthdays, each has a Christmas stocking, and mostly all our beloved pets travel with us. Of course, we are not travelling to any location that is unreachable by care, but my children and I would rather share a road trip with Fisher Jimmy and Princess Harry at the moment.

    I look forward to your writings and am as committed as all who share here to help each and every homeless animal in need find someone to love.

  • Hello Dr. Salk,

    It is very nice to meet you and through your wonderful introduction letter, I feel like I already know you! The pictures were great, bed head and all and I must add you were fearless at such a young age. Rabbits used to scare me and I'm not sure I will ever want to hold a raccoon but I love them all just the same.

    I don't have any pets at the moment due to health problems in the family, so I've 'adopted' Franny & Sharkey and all of their friends who come here to comment on their adorable and informative blog. I look forward to reading tales of your beloved tails too! Trish

  • In kinship - indeed!

    Oh, Dr. Pia! - you're speaking my language...you're speaking my language! I am hearing such caring compassion and passion in your words today. Your affinity DID start at a young age, and you were just destined to be and accomplish what you are today!

    Your childhood pictures were absolutely precious, and I'm sure they brought back many happy memories while preparing to reveal them to us.

    In losing my beloved Edgar last week at almost 18 years of age, I was aware that if my family hadn't afforded me a family pet while growing up, I wouldn't've gotten to know or learn about the special human-animal bonds that develop thru pet ownership. As you can imagine and might agree, as well as my other fellow bloggers here on TDWag, our pets become HUGE part of our families - my family unit consisted of husband/wife/2 cats (1 cat, now, since Edgar passed away.) I fully recommend to a-n-y family to try to incorporate a family pet if the budget would allow. I can't reiterate enough 'what wonderful enhancements and enrichment they are to our lives!'

    I am going to look forward to your input here on a regular basis, Dr. Pia! Again, welcome aboard!

    =^..^=

  • Welcome Dr. Salk! Any relation to Dr. Jonas Salk (he discovered the polio vacine)? I am Basil, an eight year old Frenchie like the girls. A tiger brindle to be exact. I am pretty new to the Daily Wag also--on board for about a month now. I read all the time, but was very nervous to get on board until Franny was sick and my concern overcame my nerves. I look forward to your input Dr. Pia. I love hearing of Franny and Sharkey's adventures, especially since I don't get out much, as I suffer from an immune discorder caused from a reaction to a distemper shot as a 1 year old. First today, I must say to Trish that Edgar will be missed very much by me. Not too many guys are into chatting up as much as he and a few others, like ourselves. Next, Kirby Bear, glad to have you and your Dad back on board. His surgery sounds very difficult, especially with that bag he has now. I know you are taking very good care of him. As for me, I am in to the specialist this week. Having trouble with my back legs giving out. Dr. Pia and everyone, keep your fingers crossed that it is not serious. I keep thinking how lucky I am to have a family that looks after me so well. All those animals at the shelters don't have it so easy. My mom bakes dog biscuits and donates everything to no kill shelters every year. My sister, Tasha is a rescue dog and is very smart. She helps look after us all. Thanks to Franny's and Sharkey's Mom, Martha and Dr. Salk for helping so many in need. Take care all.
    Love & licks,
    Basil

  • My apologies to Edgar's mommie, Cindy, for messing up on the name when I left my sympathies to you. I told you that I am older and new at this, but that is no excuse to mix up names. I will miss Edgar.
    Love & licks,
    Basil

  • Dr Pia, I had to come back this afternoon and take time going through your childhood pictures...they are amazingly filled with such love for animals, I absolutely love them...Thank You so much for sharing, they truly touched my heart!

  • Dear Martha, Staff and Dogs,

    I was owned by a beautiful French Bulldog until july 23rd, when my beloved Happy Jack died of a heart attack.
    His is an interesting story, he was a stray that came 4 years ago on 5/5/05. He was running loose out into the street, of a local park, Our own dog Penny who was 18 at the time had runaway,I know how does an 18 year old dog runaway, and my husband was looking for her, And out limped Happy Jack who we thought was funny looking at the time.
    We found Penny. after posters and a visit to the local animal shelter to register him as lost happy Jack became our baby. Now he came with a lot of problems, he had a lame front leg, severe and amazingly huge kidneys stones, a large fatty tumor under his neck, so after weeks of expensive surgeries, he was ready and raring to go. He was Amazing the happiest little fellow, and he I believe extended Penny's life by a few years she hit 20 before she died and really perked up for the company, he was always kissing her and very sweet to her all the time.
    He was good for about two years no health problems and then he started picking up his back leg a little when he walked. So off I went to the most expensive and highly rated vet in NYC Diagnosed withi damaged disks and needed back surgery they said, (NOW I WOULD NEVER HAVE OPTED FOR THE SURGERY) So after considering it and 13 thousand dollars later I went home with a dog who had a severe kidney infection from the hardware in his back and now he could no longer walk. THE SURGERY HAD DAMAGED HIS SPINE FURTHER.
    But that did not stop us we worked on him using the principles of physical therapy with oir local vet, and life went on.
    he became his oldself, even if after the operation he was much more damaged then before. He was really a wonderful brave little guy and we devoted ourselves to him taking him everywhere we went, and sleeping with us in bed, and endless hours of playing with his babies ( he had over 300 toys). He personofied Joy.
    Life when on for about 18 more months until the hardware in his back infected and he got a terrible kidney infection. I was told that if I tried to have the hardware removed it could cause further damage to the spine so I opted for antibiotic treatment, and stayed by his side constantly trying to nurse him back to health.
    He seemed to rebound some but then died of an apparent Heart attack on July 23rd.
    We were and are crushed by his loss. We loved this dog and indeed this breed and where I have never before "bought" a dog in a world with so many homeless pets, I really want another frenchie, I support many animal charities and am considering doing a fundraiser in happy Jack's name. My problem is finding a "healthy Frenchie" with so many disreputable breeders and puppy mills and our experience healthwise with this breed. Can you suggest a reputable breeder or at least tell me how to find one. I feel a little selfish wanting a pedigree but French bulldogs did it to me I adore the breed and of course if there were problems, I would dedicate myself to the pet and his health the way I did to my precious little guy Happy Jack.
    P. S. I love your blog and really enjoy these gorgeous dogs!

  • ...This is for little 8 year old Basil with his beautiful little brindled fur coat...

    Thank you Basilhoney, for remembering my Edgar and saying the kind things that you did. (And) since Trish has become such a good friend to me with mutual admiration for mommieMartha and all of her family, it wouldn't've mattered if you corrected our names or not. I knew that your heart's intentions were genuine and pure.

    I do hope that the mishaps with your little hind legs have an explanation and will pray that your doctor/specialist will know e-x-a-c-t-l-y what to do to make you better. God created puppiedoggies like you, and He cares about you - He MADE you, afterall!

    Thank you again for your caring heart!

    =^..^=

  • Hi Dr. Pia! We are two little dogs in the midwest who LOVE the idea that a human psychologist is working to help people understand how we can help their families!! Our family takes good care of us and we think we take pretty good care of them. We just can't talk about it!! But YOU can!! Thanks for doing what you do and we hope your voice carries far and wide!!

  • Welcome Dr. Pia Salk, My Mom told me about all of the wonderful things you said in your blog and showed me all of the great photos. I think you are a wonderful person who cares very much about all of us animals just like my Mom does. My Mom rescued me 4 years ago from an uncertain future and she and her wonderful dog, Cricket, taught me to be the good little boy I am today. Unfortunately, Cricket died from a ruptured disk three years ago. We both miss her very much. I continue to be a good little boy and I know my Mom loves me more and more every day. Love, Dudley Do Right xoxoxo

  • Hi Dr. Salk!

    I loved seeing the pictures of you as a child and reading your bio. I too have pictures of myself when I was little, petting a stray cat, watering a turtle, carrying a bunny...my family says now that they should have known I would be such an advocate as an adult when I tried to save the bunnies the cat caught and brought home, and hand raised the baby birds that fell from their nest as a teenager...I too am involved in psychology and focus my study on the human-animal bond. You truly are my role model and I cannot thank you enough for setting a trend that I can attempt to follow. Halfway through my Master's in Clinical Psychology I do hope to go for the PhD some day. Thanks for all you do and the wealth of love you share with humans and animals.

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