The Making of a Dog Lover

I am and have always been a cat person. In fact, for several years, the students in my school dubbed me the crazy cat lady and insisted on buying me cat-themed Christmas gifts just to see me scowl. Inside, though, I was okay with it. I identify with cats. They like sleep, sunshine, and have a propensity to be chubby. They are loyal to those they love and couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks. They are my soul animals.

Dogs. Not so much. I’ve always seen dogs as stinky, drooling, and not self-sufficient. They jump on you in the summer and scratch your bare legs with rough nails and scare the hell out of you on a bike ride or run by lunging and barking in what can only be a ferocious attempt to tear the flesh from your bones. So, yeah, dogs also kind of scare me.

Why on earth then am I now the doting, proud owner of an adorable whippet mix pooch?

Well, he’s almost four, cute as hell, has mostly stopped drooling, and enjoys sleeping in my bed most nights, despite the fact he has a really nice bed of his own.

No. That’s not the new dog. That’s my little man. The dog- (cat-, bird-, baby goat-) lover. The future veterinarian. The boy who has opened my eyes to so much I had ignored, disliked, feared, or overlooked before.

You see, it turns out kids smell, drool, have accidents all over the house, and need constant training and attention, too. Having one has taught me you can love despite all these things. You can see beyond the messes and stresses to the love and pure joy someone or some-dog brings into your life. Realizing this with my son, and seeing how happy he is in the presence of animals, opened me up to the possibility of becoming a dog-person.

That said, I knew it wasn’t right to get a dog for a child. Children can’t be responsible for the full-time care and love an animal needs and deserves. Nope, if we were getting a dog, I had to have my heart in it too. I did some soul-searching and realized I could face my fears, get more exercise, and be forced outside even in the cold weather if I embraced the idea of a canine in our house. So began the search for the dog that would change my mind about the species.

After oodles of Google searches, a couple bites, some heartworm treatment, a month of waiting, and multiple trips to Connecticut, that perfect pup arrived. Jessie is as perfect as a dog could be for us. She loves Ian, demands snuggles and belly rubs, pulls me along so I up my running pace, and is far kinder to the cat than the cat is in return. She also smells at times, has accidents, and hogs my bed (thankfully, she’s not a drooler). But this crazy cat lady loves her despite it all. I love her loyalty, her playfulness, and her gentle ways. I submit to doggie kisses, willingly pick up her poop, and research the best diet to keep her healthy and with us for as long as possible.

You could say Jessie converted me into a dog lover. Or you could say my little man helped me make the transition. But really I think they both just taught me to love more openly, more broadly, and more deeply — dogs included.

Green Goal 2020: Reducing Single-Use Plastic at Home

In a house with a preschooler, there is plastic in abundance. From action figures and tubby toys to the dreaded foot-impaling Legos, my house is teeming with plastic. Some of it, like the drop-able drinkware, can’t be easily avoided until little man is less of a natural disaster. But other products, I recently discovered, can be more easily replaced.

Last July two friends of mine posted regularly about how their family was drastically cutting their plastic usage as part of plastic-free July. It made me think about the number of plastic products I purchased and what swaps I could make at our house. As a single working mom, I don’t have time to make all my products from scratch, and I don’t have the money to spend triple what I was already spending on products I use daily. Luckily, with a little crowdsourcing, I discovered there are some great products easily available that didn’t break the bank or require extra prep time.

The first place I looked was the wall of plastic bottles staring at me each morning in the shower. Like most women, I had various shampoos, conditioners, face, and body washes all in plastic bottles. It took a while to use through all the products I had stockpiled in my closet, but one by one as I ran out of something I looked to replace it with plastic-free options.

Admittedly, the scariest was switching out my shampoo and conditioner. I’ve never loved my thin, limp, often oily hair, but after plenty of experimenting, I had found some liquid products that kept it reasonably manageable. Well, no surprise, finding a bar shampoo that worked also took some trial and error. First I read most don’t lather well with hard water which my town has, so I added a water filter to my shower head. Still, I had no luck with the first bar. Next, I read you need to give it a couple of weeks. Nope, still a greasy mess. Finally, I researched a little more and discovered a different brand with more options for different hair types. Bingo! My hair was back to normal and shiny and untangled in days.

Finding bar soap for my face and body was easier, and switching from my plastic ‘poof’ to a bamboo loofah and from plastic to bamboo toothbrushes were easy switches. But switching to a more natural and plastic-free deodorant proved a rougher, damper switch. In the past, I’d always used a combo antiperspirant and deodorant, but most natural options don’t include the ingredients that keep you dry. Not gonna lie, it took a while for this sweaty girl to get used to this. But once I realized that damp didn’t equate to stinky, I was more confident about the swap. I’m still experimenting to find the perfect bar, but it’s more of a texture and scent preference now.

In the kitchen, I mostly ditched paper towels by switching to bamboo dishcloths and loofah sponges, reduced paper plates and napkins by using real plates and cloth napkins, switched to wooden-handled scrubbers, and most recently I am moving from plastic hand soap and dishwashing bottles to refillable glass ones. In addition to these changes, I’ve switched to Dropps laundry and dishwashing pods that come in recyclable cardboard instead of the thick plastic containers my old brands used. (Here’s a referral coupon from Dropps.)

Most of these switches were easy. The costs were comparable (bar soaps and shampoos last a looong time if you keep them dry between showers!), the results have been as good or better as my previous products, and most importantly I can feel good about making some daily positive changes to leave the world a better place for my son.

Photo credit: ID 137977453 © Chernetskaya |

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