Our pawer women series continues with one of the hottest ladies around, literally, and her little (er, not so little, tall perhaps) dogs, too. Meet the fire-engine personality that is Dayna Hilton. Dayna is a firefighter and a fire safety educator. She is the Publisher at Firehouse Dog Publishing (her publishing company), and Executive Director of the Keep Kids Fire Safe® Foundation. She is also mom to Siren the Fire Safety Dog and Tango the Fire Safety Dog and was mom to Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, who passed away, one year ago from this coming October.
Dayna is such an ins-paw-ration, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her and the lovely Tango this year at a bloggers conference for pet lovers, aptly titled BlogPaws. Not only is she inspiring through words, but her actions and activities in the name of dog are ones we all can look to in holding steadfast to our dreams in the dog world.
Fidose of Reality:Welcome and congrats on being selected. What is the fire safety program and why did you decide to do this?
Dayna Hilton: I joined the fire service in 2000 and became a fire safety educator on my department shortly after in 2002 when I realized that Arkansas was ranked 7th in fire related deaths and injuries.My family and I adopted Sparkles [the Fire Safety Dog] in 2003 after she was rescued from a home with 62 other dogs. After she became acclimated to our home, I soon learned that she had the talent of demonstrating how to “crawl low” under smoke by crawling on her belly. Since that day, Sparkles crawled many miles demonstrating the importance of crawling low.
FOR: How did the media first recognize you and Sparkles? Did you need to reach out to them? That is one of the hardest things and an obstacle for many, how to get the media to notice their business.
DH: After writing my first children’s book, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, I started to reach out to the media, making contacts at least three times a week. We did this for two years straight. Now the media pretty much reaches out to us. We spend the greatest part of our week answering questions from the media.
FOR: Having met you, I know how inspiring you are. What is your background with dogs and why this line of work?
DH: Becoming a firefighter and writing children’s books was indeed a dream of mine ever since I was very little.
Dogs have always played an important part of my life, but I was never as close as I am to the fire safety dogs. The fire safety dogs and I share a very special bond helping save the lives of children. Sparkles was not only an amazing dog, but she was my very best friend and loved children. The other fire safety dogs truly love what they do and they are all very happy when they are at work.
I went into the publishing business after I realized that I could get my children’s fire safety books into the market sooner than the average publisher. Sharing the fire safety message was too important to me than to wait around to have a book published. Getting the books into the hands of children so that the books in turn would help keep them safe, was the goal and (pardon the pun) helps light a fire under me every day.
FOR: What advice would you give others wanting to pursue their pet/dog-related business?
DH: My advice to others wanting to pursue their pet/dog-related business would be to never give up, be positive and be willing to be flexible. You never know when and how opportunity will come knocking. Always, always be open to that possibility.
FOR: What are some resources (websites, etc) that you can refer readers to who want to do their own business in the pet sector? In other words, what sites/info helped you?
DH: I didn’t want to refer to any websites so I wouldn’t have a pre-conceived notion of what I “should” or wanted to do. I did, however, read a lot of marketing books and social marketing type books in the “Dummy” series by Wiley Publishing.
FOR: Wow, Dayna. That is amazing; you don’t hear of too many folks saying that. Talk about “trailblazing!” Where can our readers learn more and be inspired?
Our website is www.sparklesthefiresafetydog.com. Sparkles’ blog is http://www.sparklesthefiresafetydog.blogspot.com. The fire safety dog’s column is on http://www.firelife.com/index/sparkles.html and their safety show, Sparkles’ safety spot, is http://www.sparklesthefiresafetydog.com/sparklessafetyspot.html
The fire safety dog’s Facebook pages are:
Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog
Siren the Fire Safety Dog
Tango the Fire Safety Dog
FOR: What’s on your horizon?
DH: Our program is growing at such a fast pace that I can hardly keep up. Hopefully our program will continue to grow so that we may reach more children with the fire safety message. The dogs and I are really proud of our safety show, Sparkles’ Safety Spot, sponsored by our sponsor, First Alert. The have their own “clubhouse” where we live stream their safety show. The dogs will continue to travel all over the country and Skyping with school children across the US. In addition, we have many exciting projects on the horizon, many that we can’t discuss just yet. Hopefully we can spill the beans soon! If you follow us on Facebook, you will learn the latest in what the fire safety dogs have been up to.
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Here are some sizzling videos to watch with reference to Dayna’s work and message: