A Career Change Leads to a Way to Help Animals

By Brian Kroeker

Three years ago I was just another burned out cog in the advertising world. In my decade of working long hours at the computer producing ads for giant corporations with questionable practices, I did my best to balance the harm I was causing my body and the world by exercising, volunteering and fundraising for various charities, but I was starting to feel like Sisyphus in an unwinnable battle with the boulder of stress and dissatisfaction I was facing.

So I got out.

Within a month I quit my job and we traded our little 700 sq ft. house in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto for a 20-year-old VW camper van, sold most of our belongings and set out to see the country with our two Boston Terriers, Kingston and Sweetie.

We spent a few months going from coast to glorious coast, falling in love with our country and our new bohemian lifestyle.

Eventually my wife Debbie and I planted roots on rural Vancouver Island and set about rebuilding our life on the foundations of personal health and wellbeing and being of service to others. In the summer of 2013, inspired by reading Blake Mykoskie's book about the origins of TOMS shoes, I had an epiphany. What if I combined my passions for yoga, dogs and charity?

"Up Dogs" was born.

See, I grew up with dogs in our home and have felt a deep connection with them my whole life. I truly feel that we owe a big part of our evolution as a species to these brave guardians and loyal companions.

I have this theory that yoga began when the monks in the temples of the east would come outside after long meditation periods and observe the temple dogs stretching in the sun after their naps. What's the first thing dogs do when they wake up? The poses we now call "Downward Facing Dog" and "Upward Facing Dog", or "Down Dog" and "Up Dog". I watch my own dogs do these poses dozens of times a day!

The name "Up Dogs" refers not only to the yoga pose, but also my mandate to uplift the lives of dogs in need through the sales of yoga-themed t-shirts and holding donation-based yoga classes and events.

Up Dogs is a way for me to combine the things I'm really passionate about and focus some of that energy towards giving back to these amazing animals. If you connect with my vision, I hope that you will support us by buying a shirt or simply sharing this story with your friends and family.