Love and a Six-Foot Leash

Give a little bit of your love to Catalina Stirling.

Co-Founder and Director of Jasmine’s House Rescue in Maryland, Catalina’s name entered countless American living rooms through Jim Gorant’s bestselling book about the Michael Vick dog fighting case, Lost Dogs. Catalina’s patient, loving work with Sweet Jasmine — the most shut down of the Vick dogs released to rescue — was neither the beginning nor the end of her involvement in dog rescue, but rather a pivot point.

Catalina spent six months on the enormous-yet-tiny task of coaxing Jasmine out of a hole in her back yard, and many more months celebrating baby steps together — always moving forward. It was a precious, rare, patient, selfless love. After Jasmine died unexpectedly in 2009, Catalina filled part of the hole in her heart by opening Jasmine’s House Rescue with partner Kate Callahan. They envisioned a safe and gentle place for…

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I Just Can’t Resist!

This has been an eventful week. President Obama gave his two thumbs up in support for gay marriage while the entire state of North Carolina gave all gays the middle finger. (Interesting tidbit, courtesy of my smarty-pants husband: You can marry your cousin in North Carolina. But not if you and your cousin are gay!)

While this was happening, there were other fascinating events going on across the country, like breast-feeding. Since I am somewhat newly pregnant, anything regarding pregnancy, child-birth or kids in general has piqued my interest, at least more than it did before. You would have to be living under a rock to miss this story in Time Magazine.

I have only been aware of attachment parenting for the past year or so, but I didn’t know it had an official name until this week. I also found that if you want to create a black hole of chaos amongst women, start a conversation about breast-feeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations or “baby-wearing.”

And since it’s hard for me to stay quiet about controversial subjects, here’s my two cents (or maybe a few dollars worth . . .) on the topics at hand.

Breast Feeding

I am hoping breast-feeding works for me. I know it is best for the baby, it’s a great way to lose weight and it’s much cheaper than formula. However, if it doesn’t work, my child isn’t getting proper nutrition and I’m crying myself to sleep every night, I’m going to stop trying. I don’t think you are a bad mom if you don’t breast feed. I don’t think you’re a bad mom if you breast feed until your child is 6. I do, however, disagree with breast-feeding past the age of 1 or 2. Do you need my approval to let your child unbutton your blouse and suckle away? No, you don’t. Just like I don’t need your approval to have my opinions. I can disagree with something without thinking you are a horrible person (it’s a rare gift).

I feel that once my child is a certain age, it’s time to start weaning. Here’s why:

  • There are plenty of healthy ways to provide a child with nutrition.
  • I wonder what extended breast-feeding does to the psychology or personality of a child over the age of 2 (I said wonder, not assume, but I would prefer to not find out).
  • It is a serious commitment that will be difficult to keep up with while working full-time.
  • I only want to abuse my body for so long. (Yup, I said it! Go ahead and judge!)

That is how I feel, but I do not judge women who feel the opposite way. All I ask is for you to not judge me for the way I feel, and hopefully we can all get along.

Baby-wearing

I have zero problem with this concept, except when it gets to the point where the child is never put down. My concern is a developmental issue with walking or crawling at a later age. But if you want to hold your baby all the live long day, go for it!

I don’t feel like I can say, with authority, how I will handle the “cry it out” method. I would love to say “I’m strong! Cry, baby, cry!” But I’m a huge softie.

However, I crate my dogs, and there were many days I cried the entire way to work because they were crying in their crates. I hope this helps me be strong with a human child. Only time will tell!

Co-sleeping

I may appear slightly judgmental with this one, but I promise, that is not my intention. I think my problem is I just don’t understand it. This is coming from someone who sleeps with two 50-pound dogs. So believe me, I know there are millions of you who don’t understand what I do, and probably think I’m slightly crazy. That’s okay!

My reasoning behind the “Dogs-in-the-bed-is-okay, kids-in-the-bed-is-not” theory:

  • My dogs are not going to grow up and one day leave the nest. They will not be going off to college, or buying their own homes, or bringing little granddoggies home for me to meet.
  • My child, however, will eventually leave the nest and become an independent person (dear Lord, let’s hope so). I would like to start the independence early, like the first day (just with sleeping, I don’t plan on abandoning the poor kid).
  • I am too scared about rolling over onto the baby (they say you won’t, but I am Kaptain Klutz).
  • I need sleep, darn it.

I have several friends and acquaintances who swear by co-sleeping, and if it works for you, more power to you! You aren’t sleeping in my house, affecting my ZZZ’s, so I really don’t care. I will say, however, that not one of them had a husband 100% on board with the idea. In my life, in my marriage, I would consider that a problem that needed to be solved.

They say “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” and that statement is true. But if my husband isn’t happy, my house isn’t happy either. I spoke with my boss, and asked him, as a doctor, what he thought about all these things. The only solid medical evidence is this: Breast feeding is good for mother and child. Everything else is about what works for you and your family.

He had good advice, and it reminded me of the card he included with his wedding gift: “Keep doing all the things you did when you were falling in love, and you will stay in love.”

I loved that line so much! I thought it was wise, completely reasonable and perfectly attainable. Basically, the same thing applies when you have a child.

Wives, keep your husbands happy. Continue to take care of him, even after a child comes. He needs you.

Husbands, keep your wives happy. Give her a break, especially in the beginning, when she is sleep-deprived, self-conscious and wonderfully hormonal. She needs you.

And kids? If you have two parents (gay, straight, alien or purple-people-eaters included) who love each other that much, that they continue to always put each other first, you will have a happy, loving life, with a security that money can never buy.

Be confident in your decisions! There will always be someone who disagrees or judges. Aren’t we glad Breyers puts three whole flavors in the same container?

An excellent post for Melanoma Monday.

I shall be a toad

Last year, I wrote mostly about the dangers of tanning. That information is certainly still relevant and I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your skin and stay away from tanning booths, but I am not going to rehash everything I wrote last year. (Though, there will be some overlap, of course!) If you want to check out that information, here it is!

This year, for Melanoma Monday, I’d like to focus on how important it is to check your skin for moles and what to look for.

If you know me or have been reading my blog, you know I lost my mom to a reoccurrence of Melanoma. She was only 33 years old. When she was diagnosed 17 years ago, the cancer was found in her breast, her bones, and her brain. When she first diagnosed, she was only 17 years old and the…

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This is a fantastic read for dog owners, whether your dog is friendly or not. I highly recommend the initial blog as well, which is linked in the beginning. Enjoy!

notes from a dog walker

If you’ve recently read My Dog is Friendly!, it may have left you wondering: I have a friendly dog. Am I a MDIF? 

Or maybe the PSA made you kind of mad. You read it and thought, “Hey! I have a friendly dog. Don’t make me the bad guy here!”

Kind readers, allow me to explain. Just because you have a friendly dog, doesn’t mean you’re a MDIF. If you have a friendly dog and you are a thoughtful, responsible guardian – you obeys leash laws and do not permit your dog to act rudely towards others in public – then you’re probably not a MDIF.

Most MDIFs are well meaning people, totally unaware of how their actions impact others. And they don’t actually realize they’re MDIFs!  So in an effort to spread self-awareness across the land, to keep DINOS and dogs of all kinds safe and stress-free, I’d like to present this…

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Wiggling Worms and Wagging Tails

It’s about darn time! I’ve been telling Fred for months that he needed to start a blog.

He finally got off his lazy, wiggling behind and gave me some good ideas. You can find them here:

http://wigglingwormsandwaggingtails.wordpress.com/

He’s only helped with one post so far, but Angel and I are working on hers. We hope to have it posted before we head to the beach tonight!

You don’t scare me, Hurricane Irene!

*Wag more, bark less*