Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What has four legs, fur, and is green?

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

We I have decided to adopt a pet and along with it a whole new host of environmental concerns.  What will it eat?  Where will it sleep?  What about the toys it plays with?  Flea and tick control?  Its waste?  Every choice comes riddled with concern just as the decisions of my own personal care.  Starting with where will it come from?

I first contacted the local shelters and humane societies.  They did not have the breed I was looking for, but I was able to fill out a want list for them to keep on file.  One of them referred me to petfinder.com, a wonderful website with hundreds of thousands of homeless pets in need of adoption.  You can search by animal type, breed, age, size, gender, location or all of the above. Two weeks later, the same humane society contacted me about my want list.  One of the breeds I wanted was being fostered locally by a rescue that operates in my state.  I had no idea there were foster homes for pets.  

I filed an adoption application, visited the dog, and am now in the process of awaiting background checks and a home inspection.  It is a long process and sounds like a lot of hassle when you can go to the pet store, point a finger, and say I'll take that one, but a highly recommend it.  The adoption process is in the best interest of both the animal and your family.  The rescue wants their animals to find loving "forever" homes and you want a pet that you will love forever.  No snap decision, impulse buys here.  Not only that, but do you know where pet store dogs come from?  Puppy mills.  I will spare you the heartbreaking photographs.  If you feel so inclined go ahead, click on it, but beware!  The images are not for the faint of heart.  I akin pet store shopping to buying clothes at Walmart (or any other big-box store).  Overworked, underpaid, hazardous working conditions, zero social or environmental responsibility - this is what you support by spending your dollar there.  You eat organic, shop local, buy fair trade, avoid over-packaging, go au naturel... Why wouldn't you do the same for your four legged furry friends?

Addressing the other concerns, one quick google search brought up a bounty of eco-friendly websites catering to all your green pet needs.  Two in particular that I liked were EarthDoggy.com and Only Natural Pet Store.  Lots of fancy eco eye candy there!  Collars, leashes, and toys made from hemp.  Like this Bungee Bone Hemp Dog Tug:

Organic cotton dog beds filled with IntelliLoft made from recycled plastic bottles.  Like this one offered by West Paw Design:

100% recyclable dog toys certified safe by Oko-Tex standard 100.  They even cover the recycling cost!  Just send it back when no longer needed.

Sweaters made from reclaimed cotton.

Or my personal favorite, the skooperbox.  No more plastic poop bags!

As for the issue of what to eat, my potential pet has allergies and is currently being fed Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison dry dog food.  Food is another whole realm I am just beginning to explore.  I want to feed a natural diet and am curious about the BARF (Bones and Raw Food) method but know nothing about it.  I welcome opinions from both sides, for or against it.  Any other Earth-friendly, tree-hugging (not just tree-peeing), green pets and owners out there please feel free to sound off!  

Arya and Soots you must have some advice to give?


JessTrev said...

Awesome! I am so excited you are getting a dog. One cool option if you have a yard that I have heard of (but have no first hand experience with) is building a little underground contraption to compost your dog poop. I am totally going to do this when we get a dog again. Also try Etsy, there are a lot of little crafters making eco friendly dog stuff. Although I will say that the hemp leash was a bad call in the end cause my dog chewed through it in seconds flat! Collar was worth it tho! I have heard you can't do raw food during the puppy year but don't know for sure. We just sprung for food that was more per pound than any of our human food (wellness brand) ;). Congrats!!

islandveggie said...

I feed my cats a raw food diet and they are in excellent condition. I don`t see how a dog could be allergic to plain meat and bones but kibble they definately could be so if I were you I would give it a go. I get most of my meat for them off of freecycle so it helps keep it out of the landfill (allthough that means I get all that extra plactic wrapping). You could join the yahoo group for raw feeding to get any quesions answered ect.
Have fun with your new dog!! I thought you were leaning more towards a goat for lawn cutting reasons LOL!

Green Bean said...

Rescued pets are THE best! We adopted a cat in January from a local shelter. He's exactly what we were looking for. With Petfinder.com and all the various rescue organizations, I don't see why anyone should ever buy from a breeder or pet store again.

As to the toys, never thought of Etsy. Need to check that out. For food, we get a brand from Whole Foods, Pet Promise, which doesn't have any feedlot meat in it. Interestingly enough, our cat has had a couple ear infections and the vet broached the idea of food allergies. Must be the new thing. We decided to wait it out for another few weeks and so far so good. Fingers crossed.

Condo Blues said...

Congratulations! My rescue dog is allergic to corn & wheat. I've done A LOT of research on dog food & diets. The dog food industry isn't regulated, they just have guidelines which companies may or may not follow at their choosing so spoiled/rancid people food ingredients can turn up in certain brands of dog food. Look for a food that uses Human Grade ingredients to avoid that. Also the first ingredients listed should be meat not by products or meal. Your food is a good one & you could certainly stick w/ that. I feed Blitzkrieg California Natural. I like they use US sourced Human Grade ingredients. My guy gets the Herring & sweet potato - the fish oils make his coat shiny and healthy. There are as many people for & against raw diets as there are dog owners. Email me privately and I can give you good links. I choose not to feed raw because of clean up issues (more potential for salmonella), kibble is easier when we travel w/ our dog, I'm happy w/ his current food, and price. I also make allergy free treats for Blitzkrieg - I have recipes and other green dog stories and cute photos of my dog on my blog http://condo-blues.blogspot.com under "Blitzkrieg" & "Pekingese dog".

Above all - have fun! with a pet you can also repurpose things like passing down old bath towels for dog towels, make chew towels from old fabric/sweaters/towels. Making things for my dog like his crate pad & blankets has helped me clear out my fabric & craft stash.

Anonymous said...

Remote Shock Collars are one of the most effective, simplest and most humane training aids available. Remote Shock Collars are placed on a dog's neck, allowing a trainer to deliver small static corrections of varying strength by remote control. The correction the dog gets from the remote dog training collar is no different than static from walking on carpet. The benefits of working with a remote dog training collar is the trainer can immediately correct a dog's mistakes at a distance far greater than leash training allows. A Shock Collar is a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog.
A Dog Training Collar is a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog.

Daisy said...

I'm not a dog owner (allergies), but we've had rabbits for many years. Most have been very healthy. The two that our daughter found at pet stores were the only two with major health needs. The humane society and rescues remain our favorite source for pets.

greeen sheeep said...

Jess I was intrigued by your composting comment. This is what I found:

Here's a step-by-step description:

1. Take and old garbage can and drill a dozen or so holes in the side.
2. Cut out the bottom (A keyhole saw works great for this.)
3. Dig a hole in the ground, deep enough for the garbage can.
4. Toss some rocks or gravel in the hole for drainage and position the garbage can so it's a little higher than the soil level.
5. Place the lid on top (you might want to paint it with something like Dog Waste Composter.)
6. When you scoop some poop, put it in the hole and sprinkle in some septic starter (available at hardware stores) and add some water.

According to the www.cityfarmer.org web site, "Within 48 hours, the septic tank starter, (which is non-caustic and promotes natural bacterial growth) will have begun its work and you can add more dog doo. You can then begin to add it daily. This waste biodegrades and flows into the subsoil."

Mike adds that you should not put the composted dog waste in your garden.

greeen sheeep said...

islandveggie - They give away meat on freecycle?
I must admit that a goat did cross my mind once or twice. They are kind of like a dog. I wonder if the village would let me walk one on a leash? Hmm...

Condo Blues - Thanks for all the tips. When I have some spare time I will be checking out your blog for more.

Oh yea, Etsy rocks! Lots of pretty ribbon collars and cute catnip toys for the feline variety.

organicneedle said...

Save your money and skip buying the dog bed. Old quilts and pillows make perfect materials for one. Best of all, you can customize it to fit your little guy perfectly.

Amanda said...

Congrats! I grew up with rescues, and since her children left home my mother has taken to fostering rescue dogs (although there was one she couldn't bear to part with. He became a permanent family member).

Since you're writing on this here website, you might be interested in the Pets for the Environment campaign -- a cause near and dear to my heart.


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