Shelter Dogs are Not Broken.

A friend on social media recently asked for recommendations for local dog breeders. She described the kind of dog she’s looking for, and since the animal shelter I volunteer at has dogs that match perfectly to those descriptions, I suggested my shelter to her. She was not open to the idea of adopting right now because she has a toddler daughter, but she said maybe when the girl gets “much older.”

I left it at that. I didn’t press her by asking why she thought she couldn’t adopt a dog with a toddler. Everyone has a right to get a dog where they want. I advocated for a shelter dog, as I will always do, but she went the other way. That happens.

That was the end of it until another person, we’ll call her Sally, joined in on the exchange and agreed with the woman that she shouldn’t get a rescue dog with a toddler. Sally said she wouldn’t adopt when her kids were young, and now that she has grandchildren, adopting is again out of the question even though she feels bad for shelter dogs.

I couldn’t keep quiet. I was cordial. No cussing. No writing in caps. But I couldn’t stand by and let these two women imply a falsehood that shelter dogs are more dangerous than other dogs. There is no truth to that. I have never seen any scientific research that states rescue dogs are inherently more dangerous than dogs that come from breeders.

I responded by first acknowledging that people can get their dogs anywhere they want, but I politely asked that they stop spreading this falsehood that families with toddlers shouldn’t adopt. Hundreds of families adopt from my shelter every year, and thousands across the country, and we can’t let the sentiment be that those parents are putting their kids in danger because they went to a rescue.

It is true that some dogs come to my shelter with behavioral issues because of the abuse they endured at the hands of a human, but animals are temperament tested and it is decided which dogs can be in a home with children. Dogs suffering from the effects of an abusive background work with a trainer to help alleviate their issues, and then they are placed in a compatible home. But if a parent is concerned about a dog’s past, shelters are filled with puppies. I know mine always is.

If a person decides not to rescue a dog and be a part of the solution to reducing the number of dogs killed every year, then at the very least don’t deter other people from adopting by spreading untruths about shelter dogs. At the very least, speak up for rescue dogs. Encourage other people to adopt even if adopting doesn’t fit your needs. Donate to your local shelter. Volunteer. Give a shelter dog your time. They deserve it.

Millions of dogs enter shelters across the country and never make it out alive. The odds are already stacked against shelter dogs, please don’t make it harder for them to find homes.

Be their advocate.

We are their voice.

 

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A Friday Night, a Rock Concert, and an Asshole Boyfriend

I went to a concert last night.  The tickets were general admission seating, and I’d gotten there early enough to secure a spot one person away from the stage. Having a feeling I’d be close to the stage and the speakers, I brought ear plugs with me. Which was a good thing because I needed them. I’ve gone to, and continue to go to, a lot of rock concerts. I need to protect my ears. After the show, walking to my car, I heard a guy complain to his friends about how loud the music was and that his ears were ringing so bad he couldn’t hear a thing. I’d been there many times, which is why I finally got smart and now bring plugs with me.

Anyway, the concert was great. Four hours, five bands.  A great way to spend a Friday night, and for the most part the people around me were cool. Which is important when you’re standing in tight spaces for hours. A short woman who looked slightly older than me was next to me. She was very sweet. She kept asking me if I was okay. Three hours into the show, she offered me a sip of her beer because she noticed I hadn’t left at all to get a drink. I thanked her, but declined her offer. I hardly ever drink when I’m at concerts. I have the bladder of a small child. It’s very annoying. But it was a very nice gesture from the woman.

It just makes the night that much better when you’re surrounded by nice people. People who just want to have fun on a Friday night. I was by myself, as is mostly the case when I go to concerts. Not too many friends like the music I listen to, which is fine. I don’t mind going to concerts alone, but being around friendly people definitely makes for a better experience.

A woman near my own age with long thinning red hair stood next to me, and her boyfriend, wearing a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers T-shirt, was in front of her at the stage. Off the bat, there was something about the guy that screamed dickhead.

The woman and I talked between bands. She was pleasant, but had a sadness about her. Without judgement, I noted traces of addiction on her face, and the more I observed her, the more I wanted to put an arm around her in a comforting way and tell her everything will be okay now. I could see she lived a tough life and probably hadn’t gotten a lot of breaks.

Take in point, in the middle of the show something sailed past me and nailed her right on the head. She threw her hands up and ducked down.  I touched her shoulder and asked if she was okay. She looked at me with tears and asked what that was. I didn’t know, and she used the flashlight on her phone and we looked around the floor for anything, but we saw nothing. Her boyfriend was in front of her and didn’t see anything, not that he would have done much if he had. When the band finished, and she told him what happened, he showed no concern or interest.

She was visibly shaken up about it. The nice older woman on the other side of me inquired how she was and asked what hit her. We never found out. Throwing an object into a crowd is such an asshole thing to do.

Standing in front of me, and next to the redheaded woman’s asshole boyfriend, was a friendly young man in his early twenties. He left his spot, and when he came back he touched me just to get by, and I jumped up. He laughed and apologized profusely for scaring me. Not sure why he caught me by such surprise. I was surrounded by people and should have been expecting to get or touched in some way. But he was genuinely sorry and called me ma’am, and I felt old.

The jerk boyfriend wouldn’t move when the young man got back to his spot, even though that’s a courtesy we were extending to everyone. We’d hold people’s places when they left and make sure no late-comers pushed past us and took spots that didn’t belong to them. The older woman next to me was really nice about saving spots. But the redhead’s boyfriend wouldn’t budge even though the young man had been in that spot since the start of the show. The young friendly man was visibly shocked at the level of dick-headedness, and the two argued. The redhead told me that it didn’t bother her, but that her boyfriend didn’t like that the young guy kept leaving his spot. She said something to her boyfriend and whatever he said back to her upset her and she started crying, though she tried to wipe the tears before they showed. But I saw them, and wondered what the asshole said to her.

The young man pointed to all the space to the left of the guy and forced his way into his spot. I don’t know if the asshole said something to the redhead but next thing I knew the woman suddenly left and never came back. The headline act came on minutes later, and the boyfriend looked back once, saw that she was gone, and never looked back again.

I’m not gonna say I didn’t enjoy the headline act, because I did, but I thought about that woman often while the band played.  Last night was probably not the Friday night she had anticipated. You go to a concert expecting to have a care-free fun night. And then you get pelted in the head with a flying object and your boyfriend makes you cry.

I hope wherever the woman is now, she’s happy. Maybe life will get easier for her. In my limited time of knowing her, I’d say she deserves that.

 

 

 

Living a Greener Life

 

I’ve been trying to do my part in combating climate change. Individually, my greener-friendlier changes may not seem to make much of a difference, but collectively, they do. The more people adapt to a greener lifestyle, the bigger the overall effect, and mother Earth really needs our help.

By now most of us have probably seen images on social media showing dead whales washing ashore with tons of plastic in their bellies. There is so much plastic and waste in the oceans that marine mammals are mistaking them for food, and are dying because of it. These images are heartbreaking. Whether it’s whales dying of plastic consumption, or dolphins dying in fish netting, or sea turtles getting their heads caught in plastic pop can holders or choking on plastic straws, it is beyond time that everyone starts to do their part.

A goal of mine has been to eliminate as much waste as I can, and I thought I was doing a good job until a neighbor of mine was going on vacation a day before trash was to be put out and asked if he could put his trash in my bin. I told him he could, but in my head wondered if a family of three’s trash would fit into my bin, along with my own trash of a household of two.

I was stunned when he came over with one bag of trash…for the week…for three people! For a household of two, in one week, we usually put out four, sometimes five bags of trash. Everything that can be recycled, gets recycled, and yet it seems we still have too much garbage. When my neighbor gets back, I’m going to have to ask him his family’s secret.

Composting is something I’ve been considering. That should help reduce the amount of trash I accumulate, and maybe even make my grass greener. I’m rereading a book I bought about nine years ago, when my interest in green living began. It’s called green chicsaving the Earth in style by Christie Matheson. Even though there is nothing very “chic” about me, I was interested in the green aspect of the book and how very simple some of the changes were.

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So much energy can be saved by simply changing the lightbulbs we use to CFL’s, compact fluorescent lightbulbs. According to the book, switching to a CFL “in just one lamp that’s on for four hours a day will reduce your annual carbon emissions by around 150 pounds. “[E]lectricity…accounts for 39 percent of all carbon emissions.”

On top of changing the lightbulbs we use, I’ve also become a stickler for turning out the lights when no one is in the room. This is probably the easiest way to be green. Another easy way to be green is to cut your plastic water bottle use. I bought filters for my faucets and I refill a glass bottle from the tap. When on the go, I use a stainless steel reusable bottle that keeps the water nice and cold, even for hours in the sun.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth. It was in my fifth-grade science class. We were reading from out text book and there was a section on water conservation with an insert of a picture of a child brushing his teeth. It said to turn off the water while we brushed, and so I did and the habit has stuck with me for almost three decades. According to Matheson, “[t]he average faucet runs through three gallons of water per minute.” That’s a whole lot of water being wasted. Here is another easy way to be green – turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Individually it may not seem like much, but as a whole if everyone did this, the amount of water saved would be phenomenal. (Taking shorter showers would add even more water savings).

So here is a brief list from the book of some more easy green changes everyone can make in their daily life.

  1. Unplug chargers and appliances not being used. Plugged in charges still draw energy even when not being used.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water uses way too much energy and it’s not very green.
  3. Keep your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. These simple changes can hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year.
  4. Buy eco-friendly household products like detergent, hand soap, and dish soap.
  5. Eat less or no meat. It takes over 13,000 pounds of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.

 

These are just some of the simple way a person can live a greener life. What are some of your favorite ways to live green?

 

 

 

 

Keep Writing

I’m working on a story based in the 1950’s about a teenage girl living with an abusive alcoholic father. While struggling to endure the dysfunction that is her home life, the girl yearns to defy the conformity that is expected of her life. She resents her mother’s docile and submissive role in their home. The girl, Annabel, wants to be more than wife and mother, she wants the freedom to be anything she wants.

I wrote this story in college some twenty years ago. The words sat in a binder collecting dust for some time until I decided to give it new life. Many changes have been made and so far that “short” story has been revised to a three-hundred page novel, but the journey has not come without frustrating days when I had no idea where the story was heading and was tempted to dump it.

Don’t do that, writers. Keep writing. Don’t dump your stories no matter how lost you may be in navigating its direction. Keep writing. A new day brings a new, clearer mind.

Although I’m not yet finished with the story, and don’t know exactly how the story will end, I’m confident I’m heading in the right direction. Each day brings me one scene closer to the writing that final sentence.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Buying Cruelty-Free

Since I’ve become conscientious of my diet and have implemented a more plant-based way of eating, I decided to change some of the daily products I use so that they also fit a cruelty-free way of living. Now I check labels before I buy anything from lip balm to detergent and deodorant. It wasn’t difficult nor was the difference in costs substantial.

I found a lot of cruelty-free products at Trader Joes for very reasonable prices. I bought their hand soap and toothpaste. Once I finish up with the shampoo and conditioner I’m currently using, which I mistakenly thought was cruelty-free, I’m going to give their hair products a try.

 

 

The Trader Joe’s bar soap comes in a two-pack and cost $1.67. Although the product is not tested on animals, it is not vegan because it has honey. I haven’t tried the toothpaste yet, I’m currently using Tom’s. Tom’s is another great cruelty-free brand, as is Seventh-Generation and Ecos. I bought Ecos detergent and dish detergent that are plant-based and contain no animal ingredients and are not tested on animals.

 

Below are some products I found at TJMaxx. These are all vegan products. Even though the lotion and shower gel say honey, they are vegan as there is not real honey in the product.

 

Nutri-C has become my favorite face lotion. Trader Joe’s also has their own cruelty-free lotions, but I have yet to try them. For make-up I use E.L.F cosmetics because their entire line is vegan and is available at a variety of stores.

These are just a few of the animal-safe products I use. I’d love to know some of your cruelty-free favorites.

Feeling a Bit Disturbed

 

 

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Last Friday I saw the band Disturbed play at a venue near me, and I won’t soon forget the experience. The concert was powerful, and it was emotional. I’ve never been to a rock concert where so many people cried, or were trying not to cry.

Disturbed is a heavy metal/nu metal band, and they’ve written songs that center around suicide. One of the videos to these songs depicts a woman who hangs herself. The video is graphic and it comes with a PSA from the lead singer, David Draiman, pleading with people who are thinking about taking their own lives to seek help and to know there is another way. The National Suicide Helpline is displayed in the video, just as it was displayed on the big screen during the concert.

Draiman spoke very eloquently and deeply to the audience. This is a man, and band, who create a deep connection with their fans. They refer to the crowd as their family, their blood.

In the middle of the set, the band moved from the main stage to a smaller stage in the center of the floor to be more intimate with the crowd. Draiman called for the house lights to come up and he asked for anyone who has dealt with substance addiction or depression, or knows someone who has, to raise their hands. With the lights on, I could see clearly throughout the venue, and more people than not had their hands raised.  Draiman then asked for everyone to look around and see that they aren’t alone. 

Powerful moment right there.

This is when the band sang their inspiring songs about defeating one’s thoughts of suicide. The house lights stayed on, making the moment all the more sober. A mother and son sitting beside me embraced while they cried. Tears gushed from the woman’s eyes and down her face. Through cries they battled through the songs. A man beside the woman caressed her shoulders.

A few minutes later, she passed by me. I was sure the moment was too much for her. She needed a break. When she came back, I thought of giving her a quick hug, but I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me, and maybe that would have been unwanted by her.

While the songs played I looked around me. The woman and son weren’t the only ones crying. There were many tearful eyes about me. So many strong-looking men stood with their arms crossed over their chest and stoic expressions on their faces and tears in their eyes. It was all so much I almost cried myself but held it back. The pain being suffered around me was palpable.

Before the show, at the meet and greet, a fan had given the band a letter. The lead singer called this fan to the stage and asked for his permission to read the letter aloud. The shocked young man stepped onto the stage and nodded to Draiman his consent. The letter explain that this man had attempted four times to take his own life and was going to do it again until he heard the song “The Light” by Disturbed. The man stayed on stage as the band played the song marking one of the most powerful and emotional moments I’ve ever witnessed at a concert.

Disturbed, like other rock bands I’ve recently seen play, were very inclusive in their message. Draiman preached tolerance of all people, of all races and religions, and he even included gays and transsexuals, which I appreciated very much. Everyone around me cheered this message. I didn’t hear any jeers or sneers.

The band ended the show with the lead singer telling everyone to take care of themselves and to take care of each other.

I went to bed that night feeling so empowered and appreciating my life.  If you ever get the chance to see this band play live, please do. It’s an experience like no other.

 

Below is a clip of the man Draiman called onto stage.

 

While the band played “A Reason to Fight” the mother and son beside me cried together.

 

A strong message of suicide preceded the song “Watch You Burn.”

 

 

*I don’t own the top picture of Disturbed.

Adopt a Rescue Dog

Two weeks ago I was given news I had spent years asking the universe for. Sevvy, a dog that had lived over two years at the shelter I volunteer at, was finally adopted. We’ve had some teases before of pending adoptions that never went through, but finally it seems that Sevvy has found her home.

Sevvy is a five-year old pit-bull mix who had been adopted from the shelter as a puppy, but brought back, adopted out again, and then returned again when she became possessive of her toys with the children in the house.

Finally, after two long years, Sevvy has found a home, and I hope she never steps foot in the shelter again. As much I love and miss her, I hope to never see her face again, except through a chance meeting at a park somewhere. It would be wonderful to run into Sevvy and see her enjoying life on the “outside.”

There are so many loving animals in shelters all over the country like Sevvy who are great dogs, but have been let down by humans. I don’t know if the couple who rescued Sevvy really understand the importance of what they did. Sevvy was taking anti-anxiety medication because life in a shelter is chaotic and loud and unsettling. Sevvy was showing signs of distress that only medication could help. Hopefully Sevvy doesn’t have to take anti-anxiety medications anymore.

If you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local animal shelter or animal control facilities. There may be an anxiety-ridden dog there like Sevvy who desperately wants to get off her meds.