New site!

28 Mar

This blog is being moved to http://www.thiscrazylady.com/. Please update your bookmarks!

I will be disabling this wordpress blog in 30 days.

Rescues bashing other rescues

12 Mar

Yesterday, a local boarding facility/rescue posted names of individuals from another rescue who elected to euthanize some dogs that they had been boarding at that facility.

I don’t know the circumstances behind the euthanasia decision, but if those dogs were unadoptable, I don’t think we have any right to judge. I don’t believe that warehousing dogs is a good life for those dogs either.

We’ve seen long term residents in shelters go “kennel crazy”. Enrichment is critical to avoid kennel stress. I doubt a boarding facility with 30+ dog capacity and a limited staff (that also run a doggy daycare and training classes in addition to caring for their own “rescue” dogs) is providing the kind of enrichment necessary to keep these dogs living a decent life.

I guess my point is – maybe we shouldn’t throw stones, but rather WORK TOGETHER to figure out solutions in these circumstances. Rescues that cannot move these dogs to a foster home due to aggression or other issues have a limited budget. The dogs cannot live in boarding forever. I firmly believe that rescues have responsibility to the dogs they pull – but sometimes those dogs aren’t well and don’t exhibit their true nature until weeks/months after being in foster care. Let’s be honest – not all dogs would make a good pet for the average owner. Sometimes we have to make the crappy choices.

You know, instead of bashing another rescue for “doing it wrong”, maybe we ought to work together to find solutions in these situations. Perhaps the boarding facility rescue could have offered to transfer these dogs into their rescue, if they felt so strongly that they had an opportunity for adoption.

Again, I don’t know the circumstances behind the decision to euthanize these dogs, but I can’t imagine it was done lightly. What right do we have to judge? I certainly don’t think we have the right to post people’s names on Facebook when we don’t also post all the facts. It’s also telling to me that the leadership of the boarding facility rescue hasn’t responded to any of my offers to collaborate on solutions. Everyone can be accused of “doing it wrong”, now can’t they?

Menstrual cup – better for you, better for the environment

31 Jan

Warning – this post is about feminine hygiene products. If you’re squeamish, stop reading now.

We moved into our house in the “country” in February and were instantly catapulted into a variety of new homeowner situations. We belong to an electricity “co-op”. We have a propane tank. We aren’t connected to city sewer – we have a septic field. This means we have a septic tank with a series of perforated pipes buried in trenches in the yard and surrounded by gravel which dispose of the wastewater and organic materials that were broken down by the bacteria in the septic tank.

Having a septic tank means we have to be cognizant of what goes down the drain into the septic system. Lots of things are inappropriate for the septic system – too much detergent, bleach, too much organic waste (food), oil, etc. Remember, there’s bacteria doing amazing work but it’s limited to what it can “eat”. Feminine hygiene products – tampons – may be the biggest NO for septic systems. The bacteria can’t break down the material fast enough (or at all) and they can clog the pipes.

Thankfully, I considered this early and stopped flushing. Disposing of feminine products in the trash was also not a great solution. Then I read a review of menstrual cups by a friend and decided that might be the answer to my problems.

I admit, like I’m sure every girl in the world, I was a little grossed out by the idea. But then I remembered that hands can be washed. We come in contact with all sorts of disgusting things during the day – other people’s bodily fluids on doorknobs and telephones. If you think about it too long, you’ll never leave your house. But really, wash your hands with soap and hot water and it’s all good.

After the first day, I’m a total convert. No worrying about when I start my period and if I have enough supplies on hand. No worrying about packing things in my purse or suitcase to deal with it. No worries about leaking. No worries!

AND NO WASTE!

I do use Lunette cup wipes to clean my menstrual cup when I’m in a public restroom – since using the sink would be weird for me AND everyone else. Those fabulous folks at Lunette made those wipes biodegradable, so I don’t have to even feel guilty about that. Into the compost pile… or you can even flush it.

The price is a little steep when you first purchase your cup, but you realize quickly that it’s much more cost efficient in the long run. I hesitated at first because what if I didn’t like it? Not to worry. I don’t know anyone who tried one and didn’t like it. And after a couple of days, it’s so not a big deal any more.

More comfortable, cheaper, more natural for your body, no waste. Really – what are you waiting for?

Using “girly” as a derogatory term

9 Jan

Many people were in an uproar over Ann Coulter’s use of the word “retard” during the Presidential debates. I grew up using this word as slang to call someone stupid or uncool. In high school, as many kids began using “gay” as a derogatory term to mean similar things. As I was heavily involved with gay acceptance at my high school, I frequently admonished people who called things “gay”. It was then that I realized calling something “retarded” to say it was uncool was also uncool

It’s true that the word “retard” means something non-disparaging – to delay the development of, or a slowing down – and it makes sense why this word was once used to describe people with physical and mental challenges. Once it started being hurled as an epithet, it’s appropriate for us to take it out of common usage. It’s debasing to people who have a disability by implying that someone with a physical or mental disability is somehow worth less than those who do not.

This is the issue that I have with men using phrases like “don’t be such a girl” or “like a girl”. Many modern men don’t feel females are less than males in value. My husband says he certainly doesn’t – but I’ve heard him use “like a girl” in a derogatory way. Use of the word “girl” or “girly” in this way says that being a girl is inferior to being a boy. This perpetuates the inequality of women in society.

There’s a Madonna lyric that perfectly illustrates my point:

But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
Cause you think being a girl is degrading”

Substitute “look” for any verb – act, play, hit, sound, etc.

We don’t need to disparage women in order to encourage men to behave in a different way. Besides, is it really valuable to our boys to say “you <blank> like a girl”? Maybe we shouldn’t be disparaging our boys either. How about offering constructive criticism instead?

I know many people, my husband included, would argue that it’s just casual speech and doesn’t mean anything. I argue that the language we use is important. I believe it conveys how we really think and feel. This is why I have consciously stopped using the word “gay” or “retarded” when I really mean “undesirable”. In my heart, I believe homosexuals and physically/mentally challenged people are just part of the rich fabric of society and are not inferior to others in any way. Why would I want to imply that  when I communicate? Words MEAN something, and we should take care to ensure the words we speak mean what we intend.

So, look deep in your heart. Is being female inferior to being a boy? If you truly believe in gender equality, encourage your loved ones to stop using “girl” or “girly” in a derogatory way.

Let’s Get Vulnerable in 2013

8 Jan

I’ve watched a few long term friendships crumble because of hurt feelings from misunderstandings, and suffered through a few of these myself. It’s sad to think that if one party had fessed up to the hurt feelings and talked it through, maybe these relationships could have been saved.

I’m not the paragon of admitting my feelings (or heck, even understanding them sometimes), but I’ve been working on it for a few years. I like to believe that most people don’t mean to be unkind. We ASSUME they are being unkind because we don’t have context around their actions or we misunderstand something they are saying.

For example, when I was younger (and even now), I was told I’d hurt some coworker’s feelings with things I said. I was shocked! I respected and valued this coworker, I couldn’t imagine what I said that upset them. I certainly didn’t intend to be hurtful. It really opened my eyes to the fact that communication is about sending and receiving, and that sometimes your message is NOT received the way you thought you sent! It also occurred to me that the opposite must be true – I must have “taken things wrong” a few times myself.

We would hope that our friends/loved ones would know us enough to understand how we mean things, but remember that the receiver comes to the communication with their own set of baggage. Maybe the are sensitive about a particular subject that you aren’t aware of. Maybe the receiver is having a bad day and their threshold is shot. I know this has happened to me a few times – I’ve overreacted/misunderstood something because I was on my very last nerve and I read a whole bunch of meaning into something that wasn’t there. Today’s shift in communication to text, email, Facebook, etc just exacerbates this problem, because there’s no inflection, no body language to help us infer someone’s meaning.

It’s really quite easy to stop this cycle. If someone says something that hurts your feelings, TELL THEM! It’s quite easy to say “you said this, and I took it to mean this.” I bet you’ll find that you misunderstood or they didn’t mean it the way you thought and you received it through your own lens. I think we worry that by admitting our hurt, we open ourselves up for MORE hurt. Now the person can really bury the blade, right? Or maybe we don’t want to appear weak, or stupid. On the contrary, I think by addressing the item head on, you’re showing your confidence. And really, who hasn’t misunderstood something in their life? I think we can all relate.

So next time you are upset by someone’s behavior or comments, take a deep breath and ask yourself if there’s any way you could have misunderstood. Then ask them what they intended by it. Having open and honest communication and being vulnerable can really deepen the relationships we have in our lives.

Buyer Beware: LivingSocial

9 Oct

I will never buy a LivingSocial deal again.

I purchased a “deal” for $72 in Sept for a hair stylist, Top Notch Stylist. I wanted to get my hair done before my vacation, so I called to book my appointment around the end of Sept. The stylist didn’t return my call. I went to her website and booked an appointment through the online tool for 10/5 from 12-2:30p.

I was running about 15 minutes late due to construction traffic, and then I could not find her suite number in the building (it was INSIDE another shop). I called her and she didn’t answer. When I finally found it, she informed me that she “wasn’t sure I was coming” and had booked another client, so she’d have to reschedule me or try to fit my services in while she attended the other client. I was very unhappy that she double booked me, so I told her I wouldn’t be returning to redeem my deal, and I asked her for a refund. She told me that all refunds had to go through LivingSocial.

I called LivingSocial, and their voicemail system doesn’t allow you to speak with a person. When you press 0 for a person, you are told to contact them through their website and then disconnected. So I sent a refund request through their website. Their first email said the refund was outside their policies. Once I make the appointment I am subject to the merchant’s cancellation policies. They suggested I gift the deal to someone else.

I asked LivingSocial politely to reconsider my request and explained the situation again. I also mentioned that I had asked her for a refund and she directed me to LivingSocial. In addition, hair styling is a very personal exchange that requires you trust the service provider. I certainly wouldn’t trust redeeming my deal now due to the conflict. I’m sure the stylist is a professional but she knows I won’t be a repeat customer, so why would she do her very best work? Also, LivingSocial keeps a fair amount of the price of a deal, so asking the merchant for a refund means you are asking for money they didn’t even receive from LivingSocial.

LivingSocial’s latest response: “We’re sorry we weren’t able to fulfill your request today. Please work directly with the Merchant to resolve this issue.”

I’ve emailed the stylist, and as expected, there has been no response.

So, BUYER BEWARE. If you purchase a LivingSocial deal that you cannot or will not redeem due to issues with the merchant, you’re stuck.

Dogs without houses aren’t “homeless”

9 Oct

Recently my pals at Indy Pit Crew joined up with The Pourhouse, an amazing organization who attends to the needs of the homeless in Indianapolis. Many of the residents of the homeless encampment have pets, and Indy Pit Crew has been providing leashes, collars, vaccinations and arranging for the animals to get fixed, including transporting them to the vet. A recent donation of dry dog food allowed the residents to receive kibble for their pups instead of having to share their own meager rations.

Spot

As an aside, I’m terribly disappointed this effort started after I left Indy. Pets and homelessness… two of my most dear causes. I would have loved to be involved. Sigh.

Anyway, this reminds me of an encounter I had with a homeless man in Indy which changed my attitude about “homeless” pets. The man was panhandling on the median near a busy mall and he had a lovely dog with him who was just as happy as can be. I don’t recall the exact exchange, but the man was very polite. My husband and I wanted to help, so I handed him some money and asked him to make sure his dog was cared for too. He said “He always eats first.”

Ever heard the saying “home is where your heart is”? Well, that dog didn’t have a “house”, but he certainly had a “home” with that man.

My friend Nina, an Indy Pit Crew board member, mentioned that many of the homeless in this encampment aren’t opposed to seeking help from a shelter – but the shelters don’t allow pets. These animals are their family. So they choose to face the elements so they can keep their best friend by their side. This dedication to their friends should be a lesson to us all.

Some would suggest to take these animals to the shelter too, so they could find families with houses. You know, that’s a human requirement, not an animal one. Living in the country has taught me a lot about animals – frequently you’ll see livestock laying in the dirt, and seeking basic shelter from sun and rain. They don’t need air conditioning. They don’t require a fluffy bed. I put some hay in my goat’s pen and a tarp over their food bin and they are content. Frankly, us humans don’t need those things either, although we don’t have a thick fur coat to get us through the night.

If my dogs could talk, I’m fairly certain they would say that the house is nice, and the air conditioning is nice, and the couch is VERY nice, but most of all they like being LOVED. And the animals in this encampment already have that.

I really hope the city can come to some arrangement where the animals are allowed in the shelter with their owners. I’m sure Indy Pit Crew and the other animal welfare organizations in the city would be happy to ensure the animals are properly vaccinated and fixed before entry. Heck, I bet we could even find the money to ensure each animal had a secure cage while in residence.

It’s only through innovative thinking and partnership that we are going to solve complex, multi-dimensional issues like human and pet homelessness. I’m proud to know folks who are involved in such a radical transformation of lives.

Donations to the Indy Pit Crew homeless outreach can be by contacting them via email.

Pit Bull advocacy is exhausting

8 Oct

Recently, there was a terrible situation in the town just north of mine where a small child was killed by a dog. I commented on the story to thank the reporter for their non-incendiary language in reporting the incident. I couldn’t help but respond (calmly) to the typical comments of how Pit Bulls are killer dogs and should be banned, etc, etc. I pointed out that the situation may have been extremely stressful for the dog, the infant should never have been left alone with the dog, and that the owner had been cited twice for irresponsible ownership of the dog. I also mentioned that dog bites and fatalities occur with all breeds of dogs, and pointed to Brent Toellner’s thorough analysis of dog attack fatalities across the nation.

Another commenter replied that Mr. Toellner’s analysis was suspect because his photo shows him with his two Pit Bull type dogs. (I’d like to note that I’m the only person who used their full legal name in their comments… tells you something about the caliber of discourse on newspaper websites. But I digress.)

It really frustrates me that because someone owns a Pit Bull, their knowledge about dogs, and Pit Bulls specifically, is “biased” and immediately discounted by members of the general public. If someone owns a Porsche and knows a lot about cars in general, and Porsches specifically, wouldn’t you consider them to be more of an expert on Porsches because they have intimate knowledge of one? Instead of seeing Pit Bull owners as a reasonable source of first hand information about the breed, we are somehow ‘duped’ into caring for these dogs. We’re called ‘pit-nutters’ or worse. Somehow, this magical, mythical dog has managed to completely override our logic and critical thinking and lull us into advocating for them – ostensibly so they can continue their covert mission to kill kill kill. My Pit Bull is a master manipulator capable of duplicitous behavior and he hasn’t once dropped character in 7 years! For heaven’s sake, people, really?

Many of us became “experts” because society constantly demands we justify the ownership of our dog. It’s exhausting having to read studies on dog behavior, know dog bite and rescue statistics across the country, ensure that my dog is never, ever, ever off my property off leash, and all the rest. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading, training, rescuing, crying… all because this silly clown dog looked up at me in the shelter with the most pitiful eyes. I didn’t get this dog to prove anything. I simply believed the shelter’s assessment over the media reports I’d heard (I had a run in with the “media” in high school and know how facts are distorted). I rescued a DOG, and I was handed a controversy.

I’m an advocate for the breed BECAUSE of society’s bias. I’m a college educated woman whose career depends on my strategic and critical thinking skills. I have excelled in my job because I am able to quickly analyze situations and determine outcomes. I have observed this dog for SEVEN YEARS and I can tell you exactly how he will respond in a given situation based on his ear position, tail position, etc. He’s a DOG with an individual personality. I have two other “Pit mixes” who are unique and have individual traits too. Each of these dogs will react differently in different situations because they are individuals. However, they have one thing in common – they are loving DOGS.

Many people are ignorant of Pit Bulls and only know what they hear on the news, which is unfortunately, only part of the story. With these people, I am happy to talk about irresponsible ownership, over-breeding, behavior versus temperament, etc. I encourage them to meet my dog. Usually after he pees on their shoes because he’s SO EXCITED to meet his new best friend, they laugh and realize that he’s a DOG.

Then there are yahoos who have blogs titled “How to Kill A Pit Bull”. (I’m not going to link to the site because I don’t want to increase their traffic. These idiots should just be ignored. They cannot be reasoned with.) I’m not sure what circumstances leads someone to an agenda hoping to eradicate a breed of dog, but they are out there. Thankfully, many of them are so over-the-top in their language and ideas that I hope a rational person would dismiss them.

I’d really rather spend my free time cross-stitching, or reading, or baking. Instead, I spend my free time fighting a social war for my dog’s right to exist. Sounds pretty dumb when I say it that way, doesn’t it?

Ways to reduce and reuse

6 Oct

I’m not sure if I’ve ever really discussed this, but I’m obsessed with waste management. My favorite class in college was Environmental Economics (hat tip to Dr. Bresnock). The class discussed the economics of environmental policies such as carbon offsets, curbside recycling, gasoline taxes, and a variety of other topics. It was absolutely fascinating.

What happens to our garbage was theoretical for me until I accompanied my husband and my uncle to the dump. I was absolutely appalled. It was at that moment that I realized how casual I was about tossing stuff in the trash – quite possibly perfectly good, usable things. Frankly, I’m sure that’s how most of America operates. You put the garbage in it’s tidy white plastic bag, which goes in the black trash bin at the curb, which magically disappears into the ether. Not even close. Everything you throw out ends up in a hole somewhere, and takes dozens, if not hundreds of years (IF EVER) to decompose.

I wanted to share some SUPER EASY WAYS to reduce the amount of waste you create.

  • Don’t use single use products like paper plates, plastic forks, paper napkins or paper towels. Instead, purchase dishes, silverware, cloth napkins and cloth towels that can be used over and over. I’ve had my Corel dishes since I moved into my first apartment almost 15 years ago. You can get shop towels or microfiber for fairly cheap, and you can wash them a billion times. If I were really cool, I’d do the cost benefit analysis of using cloth towels over paper, but anecdotally, it was a no brainer for us. We used 2-3 rolls of paper towels a week. Now we have 30 cloth towels instead which isn’t even a single load of laundry. It takes a little more time and energy to make the switch initially, but after a little while, you won’t even notice. I’ve taken this to a ridiculous level, but it’s really quite easy.
  • Try to buy items that come in the least amount of packaging, or packaging that is the easiest to recycle or biodegrade. For example, I buy the largest bottle of soap, get cardboard egg cartons, buy chicken breasts that are not individually wrapped, etc. Again, it takes a little effort to train yourself at first to consider the packaging, but it becomes second nature soon enough.
  • Don’t buy new. Not only is this fiscally a smart choice, it’s a wise choice environmentally as well. The items that already exist on this planet have already consumed the resources needed to manufacture, transport and sell them. It’s what’s called a sunk cost. Don’t use up additional planetary resources to make new items. If we change people’s attitudes about “used” items, we may have less careless tossing of perfectly usable goods. I’ve also noticed that buying things “used” has reduced some of the crazy consumerism to have MOAR STUFF.
  • Don’t throw things in the trash if they are usable. Instead, give them away to Goodwill, or directly to others via Craiglist or Freecycle. I know this sounds obvious, but I think people still throw out plenty of items other people may have a use for because they don’t realize it. For example – I have a use for your frayed towels and worn out/torn sheets. You’d never give those to Goodwill (I hope), but we use those for dog bedding. I’ve seen people request scraps of wood, leftover craft supplies, etc. You would be shocked at what other people will take off your hands that you may have considered trash.
  • Compost. Almost all “organic” material can go into a compost pile or composter. This is nature’s recycling at work!

I encourage you to take a honest look at the products you use every day and consider if there’s an easy alternative to either using less, using a replacement item that generates less trash, or heck – if you need it at all.

Assuming makes an a$s out of you

5 Oct

I was reminded today of an experience I had fairly early on in animal rescue that should have taught me an important lesson about judging others. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until more recently that I realized judging others is actually counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve in animal rescue – fewer homeless pets.

My husband was driving home when he saw this dog on the side of the road. He pulled over and coaxed the old dog into the car. She wasn’t wearing a collar, and had no microchip. She had horribly matted hair, and a huge tumor on her leg.

When he brought her home, I was furious. She was such a sweet dog. She was obviously someone’s pet, and not on the streets for very long. Did they dump her? Did she escape? Why didn’t they do something about the tumor on her leg?

We kept her overnight and put up fliers around the neighborhood the next day. About 2 in the afternoon, the phone rang. The woman said “I think you have my dog”. As I was inhaling to get self-righteous on her, she told me that they’d had visitors and one of the small children had left the screen door open, and the dog escaped. The family looked for her, assuming they’d find her napping under a bush somewhere in the neighborhood, but once it got dark, they had to hope she’d come home on her own.

She rushed on to say that she knew how the dog must look. She was pretty old but liked to sleep outside in the yard so she was always dirty and matted. They’d had the tumor on her leg evaluated by the vet, but it was benign and the vet said it was probably better to leave it alone since it didn’t appear to bother her. Why subject an old dog to an essentially cosmetic procedure?

This family loved their old dog very much, and were honestly great pet owners. An accident had allowed their dog to escape the house, and they were so grateful we’d kept her safe overnight. They were worried she may get hit by a car, etc.

If you came to my house right now, you’d probably judge me too. There are 5 dogs in the garage right now, because they are large and very rowdy and I’m working from home today and have a number of conference calls. Nevermind that it’s air conditioned and has a dog door to a run that was larger than our old house’s entire yard. 3 of those dogs are FILTHY because they like to dig holes and roll around in the dirt. One is pooping in the garage when it rains, and there’s poop all over the side yard, because I haven’t gotten to the chores yet.

These assumptions pervade the non-rescue world too. My (darling) husband assumes other drives are selfish jerks when they change lanes or attempt to merge at the last minute. You know, I am guilty of those driving behaviors too, but I certainly don’t do it because I’m selfish and don’t care how it impacts you. I’m still new to this town and often don’t know exactly where I’m going. Or I’ve been thinking about something and I’m not paying attention. Yeah, I feel sheepish, but I made a mistake, it’s not that I’m a horrible person.

We all make mistakes, and I bet we ALL hope that someone will forgive us because we are human and we are not perfect. I think life is much more pleasant if we assume that the vast majority of people just made an innocent mistake, rather than vilifying them as selfish and uncaring.

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