Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Dispose of a TV

I worked in the nonprofit sector for five years before burning out and turning to professional dog walking. I'm going to rant for a minute but I promise a happy ending. 

One of the things that drove me bananas was donations. At a homeless shelter with very little storage space, we could only take donations that we needed such as new sheets and towels, laundry detergent, and gift cards. Anything else that donors would argue was "perfectly good" -- stained clothing in the wrong sizes, half used hotel shampoo, or  old blankets that may or may not be harboring bed bugs -- got rejected. I tried my little heart out to find matching organizations for these donations.  More often than not, we just had to say "No thank you." Unless it was from a wealthy donor, then we would thank them profusely and throw their junk in the garbage.

Around this time, older "box" televisions were going out of style to be replaced by flat screens. All charities across the board were being bombarded with good, working televisions that no one wanted any more. We would say "No thank you," citing our space issue and donors would become irate arguing that they couldn't believe a charity in need would turn down such a generous gift.

It got to the point that many charities, even Goodwill, would post a policy on their site that "Due to an abundance of donations, we can no longer accept box tv's."

So, what is a bleeding heart tv donor to do? Throw it off a bridge, of course. While walking a German Shepherd the other day, we found this:

Well, that's one way to deal with the problem. 

Personally, I prefer this person's artistic inspiration. It's a donation to all who walk by! Seriously, though, it's pretty cool. And had I not been walking by with a dog who insists on smelling every single blade of grass, I might have missed it.

Let's all take a moment to stop and experience the world around us. Upcycle your junk into art. Contact your local homeless program and ask what donations and volunteers they need, and do it! Even if it's a little more uncomfortable than you were hoping for. Adopt the dog who has to stop and smell every other second. If we don't stop and notice the little and big things around us, the moment is lost.

Oh and I promised a happy ending. The homeless shelter bought a property all of their very own, affording them the opportunity to expand the number of people they serve. And a very kind donor provided a brand new, large flat screen tv. The rest of us can look up our local recycling centers which would be more than happy to direct us to electronics recycling services.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Been a Long Winter ...

I'm used to walking approximately 9 dogs a day, sometimes in not nice weather, but holy crap this winter was insane. We had multiple snow "events" and days in between of single digit weather. My poor little dreadies must have looked like icicles on my head!

Snow days are fun, especially when the dogs will roll around, dig, and catch snow balls. If I'm lucky, I'll only have dog walks on snow days and all my clients will stay home from work and cancel. Cat sits are usually canceled as well if I leave out extra food and water the night before. Major thanks to the cool people who don't expect me to die on the way to scoop their litter! However, if I have a dog client who is out of town, that dog still relies on me to go outside.

Thankfully I own a Subaru and that thing kicks some major butt in the snow. While other people are spinning their wheels and getting stuck, I pass them ... or pull over and help. I learned this about my car because during our first three snows this year, I had overnight clients.

The first time, I didn't take the forecast seriously and left my overnight to check on my cats. The drive back was treacherous, taking about three times longer than if it weren't snowing. I really should have known better but was worried sick that my cats would go hungry and I wanted some part of my Sunday at home. That was not smart.

I learned from that experience and showed up for my next snowy overnight 5 hours early, at roughly 2 pm. The dog and I did a workout video and got caught up on The Walking Dead thanks to my client's On Demand. Not too shabby! 

By the third snow storm prediction, I had this down to a science. I left my overnight at 5 am to take care of my morning pet sits, check on my cats and grab some food, then went straight back by 10 am. Luckily the only dog walk I had that day was walking distance away. 

My Subaru's thermometer as I left a morning pet sit
Compared to the snow, the record breaking single digit thermometer readings weren't that bad. The little dogs wouldn't walk for long, and many understanding clients told me to cut their time short. The big dogs, however, were ready to rock n' roll. Cold? Who cares! It's time to walk! I wore two base layers, followed by jeans and hoodie, coat, scarf, heated earmuffs, hat, two pairs of gloves, hand and foot warmers. The only thing that was cold was my face. We'll fix that next year ...

The thing that kind of sucks about snow days is not getting reimbursed for your trouble. If I show up for my overnight at 10 am, I don't get paid a single penny more. Meanwhile, I don't charge my canceled clients  because, hey, it's not their fault it snowed. So please show your pet sitter some love when it gets nasty out. A little tip never hurt anyone's feelings. Or, some clients will make me a cup of hot coffee when they're home or will leave a bar of chocolate by my notes. It's the kindness of these people, and the wagging tails of course, that remind me why I even bothered to try.