No More Bottled Water For Me

I started this blog four years ago with the intention to use it as a platform for my writing, yet I’m sure posts about animals outnumber posts about writing tenfold. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Nothing would satisfy me more than to be the reason someone saves an animals from a shelter as opposed to visiting a pet store or breeder.

Yes, there are reputable breeders out there, and in a perfect world I think shelters and reputable breeders would be the only places people would get dogs. But this isn’t a perfect world. It never was.  And people are greedy assholes and have no problem breeding dogs in horrendous conditions without proper care, all for the sake of profit.

It’s easier to over-breed a dog for 10 years, keep her in filthy conditions, make a ton of money off her, and then toss her in a shelter or shoot her and leave her in a ditch somewhere, (yes, this happens) than to get a real job and actually work for a living.

I know not all breeders are like this, but until we are no longer killing animals every year because there is no space for them in shelters, I’ll never understand why people would go to a breeder, or how a good person would ever think to add more dogs to an already over-populated world of canines and become a breeder.

You are part of the problem. As two of my favorite sayings go: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die” and “Every dog bred is a shelter dog dead.”

These are slogans I have seen at puppy mill and pet store protests I’ve been to, and they’ve really stuck with me.

Wait, I seem to have gone on about shelter dogs again. I do that a lot. But this post was not supposed to be about animals. I wanted to blog about something I decided to do while I was the shelter today, playing in a yard with one of the dogs named, Sevvy.  It was pretty warm out, and I had a bottle of water with me.

I sipped my water and it was ice cold, even though I had filled the bottle over an hour ago. The bottle was a reusable container, not plastic, and it was the kind that keeps the water at a cold temperature for over 12 hours. The cold water was so refreshing I had to ask myself why I even drink plastic bottled water.

Like many people I’m sure, plastic water bottles became a permanent fixture in my refrigerator, and I used to think nothing to grab a bottle, sit on my couch in front of my TV, and drink away. After doing this for many years and thinking there was nothing wrong with it because I recycle, I finally asked myself the simple question, “Why”?

Why do I need to drink bottled water? A while back, I decided I wouldn’t drink any bottled water while in my house. I had installed a simple water purifier system to my faucet and drank water the old fashioned way – with a cup.

I made the “no drinking bottled water” rule at home for me, while nagging everyone else in my home to do the same thing, yet never asked myself why I thought it was okay to grab a bottled water when I was on the go, especially since I have about a dozen reusable bottles in my house.

So, I was thinking today at the shelter, as I was drinking from my non-plastic reusable water bottle, that I will make a pledge to not use one single plastic water bottle for the entire month and since this is the first of the month, it’s a perfect time to start.

Again, I don’t use a lot of plastic water bottles to begin with, but I don’t see a reason I should use any at all.  I will drink from the faucet with my purifier and use reusable bottles when away from home.

Recycling is great and something we all should so, but reducing our waste is even better. It uses up a lot of energy to recycle, and it’s better for the environment to reduce first. So that will be my goal this month, to not just reduce my bottled water consumption but eliminate it.

My other goal is to finally finish that novel I’ve been working on for almost a year…right almost forgot about that.  Priorities.

 

Water-for-drinking

 

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Give a Shelter Dog a Look

I was talking to a fellow volunteer at the animal shelter tonight and with a very somber tone she told me that fifteen of her friends have gotten their dogs from breeders, some just recently.

She was disappointed because everyone who knows enough about her to be considered a friend, knows that she volunteers at a dog rescue. Yet, not one of those friends had inquired about any of the dogs at the shelter.

She expressed to me her disbelief that her friends had not considered giving a home to a shelter dog since millions of dogs are killed each year because shelters run out of space to keep them. “They all want purebreds,” she’d said hopelessly.

I knew what this woman was feeling. I have friends, family, and neighbors who got their dogs from breeders, and I have a hard time with it too. I know everyone has the right to get their dog wherever they want (a breeder or those dreaded pet stores), but it’s so hard to understand why a person wouldn’t jump at the chance to save a life.

When you’re involved in rescue and see these amazing animals that are so deserving of loving homes, as well as being around other volunteers who also see adoption as the only option, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole part of the population that has never stepped foot into an animal shelter or have any consideration for their lives.

People in rescue think about the lives of these animals all the time and want to save them all, and it’s easy to assume everyone else does too, because…why wouldn’t they? These are homeless dogs we’re talking about.

Yet, there are people who think shelter dogs are broken and dirty and don’t live up to the status they feel having a pure-breed brings. Not everyone is like this, but I’ve seen and heard stories about enough of them to know there is sometimes a stigma attached to rescue dogs.

I’d like to help break this. If you’re reading this, and you have never considered rescuing a dog, please do. Give a shelter dog a try.  I promise, it will quickly become the best thing you’ve ever done.

I have a pit bull mix that I adopted. I would say pit bulls are my favorite breed, but really, rescue is my favorite breed.

Please rescue your next pet.

 

This is Sevvy. She’s a dog who has been at my shelter for almost two years. She is great with people, but has issues with other dogs. Still, she is so deserving of a loving home because she is am absolute sweetheart.

When searching for your next pet, please don’t overlook the ones who may not be perfect on paper, like Sevvy. She may need some extra work and patience to overcome her dog aggression, but she is definitely worth it.

Thanks for reading.

A Night of Nostalgia

Today was Major League Baseball Opening Day.  This day is always a bit nostalgic for me because baseball makes me think of my father. Not only did he take me to games when I was a child, but it was with him that I watched my first Sox game on TV, and after that, watching games with my father became a normal thing.

Me on the floor, him in his chair. I’d always ask him who the crowd was rooting for. He used to think that was cute of me. I didn’t know back then the team wearing white was the home team.

But baseball wasn’t the only thing that brought me nostalgia today. I went to a concert tonight of a band I absolutely adored when I was an early-teen. My walls were covered with this group, and my tape deck wore out their music daily.

Yes, I said tape deck. It was 1989.

I’ve seen this band perform before, but it’s been a while. I haven’t listened to some of their songs in over twenty years, yet the moment the first chords were played, I was back in my childhood room, sitting on my bed next to the radio, belting out every lyric to every song. It’s crazy how your brain doesn’t let you forget words to old, favorite songs no matter how long it’s been since you’ve listened to them.

It was a good time, but as much as I love this band, I hesitated buying a shirt at the show because I wasn’t sure how often I’d wear it. The band isn’t exactly popular anymore and for about two minutes I thought that would deter me from wearing the shirt in public.

I was wrong, and it only took me two minutes to realize it. I’ve never been a trendy person, and most people would say I have taste for shit when it comes to clothes, so I will wear my new shirt proudly and ignore any side way glances that may come my way.

While I was watching this band play, I thought about my thirteen-year-old self and wondered what she’d be doing right now if she were watching her favorite band play in a small theater like the one tonight. She’d be going absolutely nuts. Back in the day, I’d seen this band perform in big venues, 30,000 plus seating.  And tonight, I watched them play in a theater with an 867 seat capacity.

And they didn’t even come close to selling out.

Ah well. Such is life. No one can stay on top forever, but they’re still enjoying their ride. And that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

Why You Should Adopt Your Next Pet

I write a lot about shelter animals on this blog. They’ve been a passion of mine since I rescued my pit bull mix, Phil, from my local Animal Control facility seven years ago and started volunteering at my local humane society.  I advocate for people to get their pets from shelters, as opposed to pet stores or breeders, because I’ve seen first hand the many dogs in need of homes.

Human failure is usually the reason these innocent babies end up in shelters and the reason for these dogs’ pain, so humans should be the reason they are saved. We owe them that.

For every scared dog, there is a human who brought fear into its life.

For every dog needy for attention, there is a human who never showed it affection.

For every dog emaciated, there is a human who let it starve.

The place I got Phil is an open, public facility. They have room to house 300 dogs, and last week they sent out an SOS all over social media that they are full, and they put out a list of super urgent dogs–dogs that are days or even hours away from being killed.

Last month, this facility was in the same situation they’re in now. They were full and begging for people to adopt or foster their dogs. The public came through, and there was a record number of adoptions for January.

Lots of dogs were saved.

But then February crashed the party and adoptions slowed, while the line of people surrendering their dogs to the facility splayed out the door. If eleven dogs were adopted, twenty-nine were left at the shelter by their owner.

This is another way humans fail these dogs–they give them up. Shelters are filled with animals people no longer want. The most common reason is the dogs’ families no longer have time for them.

It’s heartbreaking because after a life of living in a home, these dogs are left in a stressful, crowded place, filled with barking dogs. These confused dogs have no idea what is happening or why they are there.

Some dogs simply shutdown.

I’ve been monitoring the Animal Control’s Facebook Page to keep up with the status of the most urgent dogs, and it seems I’m not the only one. There is an entire community of people networking for these dogs. It’s so inspiring to see and gives me so much hope that more people are seeing that dogs in shelters are not broken, and they are deserving of a home.

Millions of dogs are killed every year. Please adopt your next pet. If financial reason are keeping you from adopting, please consider fostering. Shelters and rescues pay all expenses. If you’re concerned about getting attached to a dog and then having to  say goodbye, I understand. I’ve considered that, too. But I decided my temporary heartbreak is worth saving a life.  If fostering isn’t an option for you, volunteer at your local shelter, or support them by donating.

Phil wants the rest of his furry friends to find their furever homes, too.

 

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Excerpt from my YA book, A Penny on the Tracks

 Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence is lost when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the tracks is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

APennyontheTracks-web
A Penny on the Tracks

 

 

Excerpt:

I WAS MAKING our favorite sandwich—bologna, lettuce, and cheese smeared with mustard and mayo on white bread—when Abbey called for me from the living room.

 “Lyssa! Hurry up! Poison’s on!”

The sandwiches lay on the counter amid a mess of open condiment jars and scattered pieces of lettuce and lunch meat. I quickly smashed the top slices of bread onto both sandwiches against the piled-stack of a sloppy mess I had created and hurried into the next room, dropping bits of food as I ran.

Abbey was standing on the couch, shouting out the lyrics we both knew by heart as Brett Michaels’ voice filled the room.

I handed her a sandwich, jumped on the couch, and screamed out the chorus to “Talk Dirty to Me.” I took bites of my sandwich during the guitar solo, and Abbey held her sandwich high in her left hand, as though it were the end of a guitar, and strummed her right hand against the front of her shirt. We banged our heads in unison, hair (and food) flying everywhere.

Abbey’s house had a bigger TV and better food options than bologna and cheese sandwiches, but we never could have done what we were doing right then if we were at her house.

Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came on next, and we both lost our minds. We dropped what was left of our food onto the table and yelled out the lyrics to our favorite song. Abbey sang the song with more conviction, as though she had a lot more that she didn’t want to take anymore.

The video ended, and we both collapsed onto the couch and finished our lunch. After, I went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple cans of pop from the fridge. Hanging on a magnet, on the side of the refrigerator, was a note from my mom reminding me she was working late that night and that there were frozen dinners in the freezer. At the end of the note she promised a home-cooked meal soon.

Abbey was often envious of the lack of parental supervision at my place, especially when it came to dinner. She was jealous I got to eat whatever I wanted. Even if my mom left dinner for me in the fridge, if I wanted to eat S’mores for supper, I ate S’mores.

“You eat dinner on the couch while watching TV?” Abbey had asked me one day.      

“If I feel like it,” I answered.

“You’re so lucky. My mom makes me eat with her at the table, even if my dad isn’t home yet. And I can’t even put my elbows on the table.”

I ate on the couch while watching TV because my friend didn’t know the loneliness that crept inside a person while eating dinner among empty chairs.

But I had forced a smile. “Yep. I am lucky.”

I walked back into the living room and handed one of the cans to Abbey.

Abbey didn’t take it. “My mom said I drink too much pop.”

“Your mom’s not fucking here.”

Abbey smiled and grabbed the can from my hand.About eight videos later and a sore neck from head banging, Abbey had to go home.

I walked her to the door. “Let’s ride our bikes tomorrow.”

“Where to?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere far.”

“Last time we did that we were almost too tired to ride back,” she reminded me.

“That was because of the wind,” I explained. “It was blowing against us on our way back.”

Abbey considered this. “Okay. If it’s not very windy tomorrow, we’ll ride our bikes far.”

 

You can purchase A Penny on the Tracks on the link below at Amazon.com.

Thanks for reading!

Rupert, A Shelter Dog

A week ago, I received the best news. One of the dogs that had been at my shelter for eight months was finally adopted. I was ecstatic. I cried a mixture of happy and sad tears.  Happy tears because this little guy, Rupert, was so deserving of a loving family (they all are), and sad tears because I had developed a special bond with Rupert.

I was his handler for over five months of training courses. He wasn’t a very good student and together we failed the first Basic Training class, but in the second go-round we were head of the class. 🙂

Rupert had come to the shelter as a rambunctious 7 month old boxer/pit mix whose previous family used drugs in lieu of proper training to keep this energetic puppy under control. This lazy approach wasn’t effective, but with a lot of work from all the shelter volunteers, Rupert learned his manners and became a very polite little boy.

Three days ago, Rupert’s new family returned him to the shelter. I was shocked because I couldn’t imagine anyone taking this sweet baby home only to have second thoughts. But despite the tremendous strides Rupert had taken in his behavior, a chaotic life with young kids may have been too much for him. When Rupert saw the children playing he most likely got overly-excited, and when he decided he wanted to play too he scared one of the kids.

That was all it took for Rupert to find himself back in the confines of his little kennel. I went to see him today. He doesn’t seem too phased by what happened. Maybe he thinks he was just away on a mini-vacation. I hope that’s the case. The last thing I want is for this little guy’s morale to break. I’ve seen dogs shut down in shelters and it’s an awful sight to witness.

Until the day some other lucky family discovers this gem of a dog, I’ll enjoy whatever time I have left with this sweet baby and give him all the love I can.

If you’re considering getting a pet, please visit your local shelter. So many wonderful animals, like Rupert, are waiting for their furever home.

 

2018 Couldn’t Come Fast Enough

It’s a week into the new year and gyms no doubt crowd with people making good on their ambitious fitness resolutions.  I do my (occasional) workouts at home, so I won’t be bothered by this sudden burst of energy from the masses.  But I have a friend who is a gym rat, and I asked him to be nice to the newbies and refrain from rolling his eyes while he waits for his favorite machines that just a couple weeks ago used to be empty.

I didn’t swear to any major resolutions this year. I’ll just piggyback on last year’s resolutions I failed to accomplish. At the start of every year, my goal is always to read more books than I had the year before. In 2017, I read eleven books. Pathetic, I know. The year before I clocked in at thirty-two books. Why the dramatic fall in books read this year? I’d like to say it was because I was too busy writing books, but that wasn’t the case. I did write some, but not as much as I had intended.

I got distracted. Distracted by politics. Distracted by the threat of healthcare being taking away from millions of people. Distracted by environmental protections being rolled back. Distracted by a crazy, unhinged president whose reckless tweets and idiotic speech damage the image of our country.

So far this year I have backed off my political breaking news obsession. The TV is turned off. No more stressing over Twitter and monitoring the moron’s feed. I’m backing off this year, but I won’t bury my head in the sand. I’ll keep up with the day to day news, and I’m sure there will be plenty to keep up with. But I won’t lose myself in the worry, the stress, in the “how much worse can it get” horrifying thoughts.

2018 is about writing. Reading. Yoga. Meditation. Shelter animals. My sanity. And Robert Mueller’s investigation that will end with Trump in handcuffs.

So looking forward to 2018.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net