If I had to tell you about the first time I met Brad Bevill, I’m sure I couldn’t do so. I’m guessing it had something to do with punk rock, or maybe baseball. Pretty sure Chris Smyers or Robbie Estill introduced us, or maybe it was someone else? I honestly have no idea. I have kind of a bad memory. I do know it was many years ago, and that if you’d asked me then what Brad and I would connect about the most I would’ve guessed one of the “3 B’s” (bands, beer, or baseball). Certainly, never would’ve guessed it’d be my dogs, yet here we are. So, who am I and why am I writing the blog here at BDB? Well, to answer that question we’ll have to talk about my favorite subject: myself. Just kidding, my favorite subject is tacos (then myself).
My name is Miguel Chen and when people ask me what I do I never know what to say first. Sometimes it’s a musician, as I am probably best known as the bass player of long running punk rock band, Teenage Bottlerocket. Sometimes it's a yoga instructor, as I’m an E-RYT 500 and the owner of Blossom Yoga Studio, Yoga for Punks and the online Blossom Yoga School. Sometimes I say author, I’ve written two books about meditation, yoga and punk rock, and even wrote a kid book earlier this year. For the sake of this blog, let’s say I am first and foremost a dog person.
I’ve had dogs my entire life. I’m lucky. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a dog person, which makes you lucky too. I was living in Wyoming (where I grew up) a few years back with my wife and our two dogs: Cape, a long-haired miniature dachshund, and Stuffing, a who-the-hell knows what he is kind of mutt. They’re both awesome for the most part. Living in Wyoming meant a few things. I could have a dog door, a big yard, and access to nature whenever I wanted. My dog's lives were basically: have free reign of the house and yard, and occasionally on the weekends go up to the mountains and run around like maniacs. I assumed they were happy. I never really took them on leashed walks for a couple reasons: one I figured they were probably getting enough exercise, and two if I did try to take them on walks, Stuffing was a f*cking mess. He would whine like a car alarm, pull on the leash, and lose his mind every time he saw another dog. It sucked, so I just didn’t do it. Cape was okay on walks, but he would bark a lot whenever the doorbell rang, and he would jump on people’s laps and lick their faces. It wasn’t mean or anything, and he’s so tiny most people didn’t really mind. I just sort of found this groove with the dogs and lived with it. It wasn’t until my wife found out she was pregnant with our first child that I started to realize the dog’s behavior might be a problem.
As a musician, I leave a lot to tour. That means my wife (bless her freaking beautiful soul) is at home with the kids, the dogs, and her own work to take care of. Back then it was just dogs/work, but it’s still a lot. When we realized we were about to have a kid I knew the weekends in the mountains probably wouldn’t happen when I was gone, so the dogs would need to learn how to walk around town, with my wife, and a baby in the stroller. We also knew that if the dogs were running around the house like crazy, they could potentially hurt the baby, or if the baby was asleep and they started barking like lunatics, the baby might wake up. We knew we had a problem.
Lucky for me, my old friend Brad Bevill was kicking ass and taking names with his dog behavior business in Dallas, Texas. I hit Brad up and asked for advice on my dogs and he offered to fly up to Wyoming and help out.
Day 1, Brad watched me with the dogs and evaluated our relationship. Day 2 ???? Some sort of dog magic. Day 3: My wife and I were able to take our dogs on a successful, calm walk around the neighborhood with the stroller. No whining, no freaking the f out, just an enjoyable, quiet walk. By the time Brad went back to Texas, our lives had changed forever. Stuffing and Cape were learning how to be calm followers, and I was learning what it meant to really take care of my beautiful boys.
One night over margaritas, as Brad was discussing his techniques and philosophy on dog training with us, my wife and I were both hit with the realization that Brad was teaching the same principles that we teach at our yoga studio. He was teaching mindfulness, presence, balance, and equanimity. While Brad had very different words and applications, the bottom line was the same: we were both teaching people to see and honor the beauty of the present moment. For Brad that meant teaching people how to love their dogs as dogs. This realization of the many parallels between our lines of work would send Brad and I down a rabbit hole of sorts trying to find ways to combine our efforts to help even more people, and dogs. Brad knew of course about my books, and my work writing articles for several publications from all around the world. This led us to work out a book proposal (that is currently being shopped around), work together on website content, and now this blog.
It also led us to create a music video for my band:
The general idea is this: any tools, concepts or practices that Brad or I can give you, to help you connect to the present moment, to yourself, and to your dogs, we want to give you. The contents of the blog are a combination of Brad’s years of expertise in dog behavior, my background in yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and the dual viewpoints of a master dog behaviorist and a student who has spent years working with Brad on his own dogs. This stuff has really changed my life, and in a weird way, made me a better yogi. I hope it can do the same for you.