What’s it really like to be Vegan!

Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

So, what is it really like to be Vegan? this blog post is from my personal point of view and bare in mind I have only been Vegan since November 2018.

The weeks leading up to going Vegan felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time, seeing the true horrors of how we enslave, torture and kill animals for food, entertainment, fashion and other products.  Feeling that I had been lied to all my life by schools, parents, health professionals, corporations and governments.  Some of these did not realise they were passing down lies to the next generation because they too had been conditioned or brainwashed, just like we all have.  Eating animals is so entrenched in societies now that people think of vegans as ‘extreme’ or ‘weird’.

For the first 8 weeks or so, once I had made the connection, I cried, I felt (and still do) tormented, angry, uncomfortable, frustrated and isolated in my vegan world.  I am ashamed to be human because we cause so much devastation to animals, the planet and other people.  Each day is different, one emotion will dominate on certain days than others.  I feel I have to watch what I say because I seem to upset people and I am often shocked and surprised at some people’s reactions, mainly defensive, they feel attacked, even though I am just talking of my experiences or saying how I feel, I don’t tell anyone they should stop eating animals.  However, maybe I go to far, maybe people’s defences go up, I will give you an example, I said ‘pigs are beautiful’ as I now believe all animals are, I said they are childlike, innocent and like puppy dogs.  I got laughed at and told ‘pigs are disgusting’, I responded ‘so disgusting that you eat them’, oh dear I touched a nerve, I was told I have gone ‘weird’ since my dog died.  

Pigs are not dirty animals, yes they like to roll in mud but so do elephants, it keeps them cool, so why don’t we call elephants dirty? because we don’t have to lower their moral value to justify eating them.  We don’t eat animals we hold in regard, but despite their differences they all feel pain and suffering and for the first time in my life I am seeing all animals as having their own unique personalities.

I have been accused of verbally ‘attacking’ someone, nothing could have been further from the truth, from where I was standing I didn’t throw one insult but I received them.  Unfortunately this is common, I hear the word ‘rubbish’,  if I quote accepted scientific fact about the effects of animal agriculture on the planet for example.  I am often cut off mid sentence, I believe this is because people don’t want to hear the truth because they know their conscience will struggle.   This is quite key for me, I believe I went vegan because my mind was ‘completely’ open, not just a little open but completely open, this helped me see things for how they really are.  Strangely enough, I am seeing a lot of things for how they are, not just in relation to veganism.

There are times I feel quite alienated from people, I feel like I have nothing in common anymore with a lot of people, I am unable to relate and they don’t understand me because of my new view of the world, a view I would not change for anything.  I see it as a forward step, I no longer participate in knowingly harming animals, the planet or people in developing countries.  Whilst we all impact in some way on the planet, animals and other people, I am trying my best to minimise my impact.

I did meet up recently with a vegan friend for lunch and she really ‘got’ me, she understood everything I expressed, she has been vegan for a few years now and was vegetarian for 35 years before going vegan.  This was the first time, I felt I could express my feelings and she understood me completely, she had been through all I was experiencing now and this made me feel so much better, less alienated.

I view things very differently, for example a trip to the supermarket is now like a trip to a slaughterhouse, I know this sounds crazy but I am extremely uncomfortable walking past the meat aisles, I can’t even look at the meat on the shelves, I no longer see food products, I think of where it came from and the suffering associated with it.  It makes me feel sad and repulsed, it is a very strange feeling, why didn’t I see meat this way before?  I cannot believe the amount of meat and animal products that are in the supermarket, it is dominated by animal products, why have I not seen this before?  Why can’t other people see it? and how can I help them to see in a way that they will come to their own conclusion.

I am glad I am alive now, I would not want to be here in the future after we have destroyed the planet and maybe even each other.  Future generations will look back and say ‘why didn’t they do something? the warning signs were there and they selfishly chose to ignore it’.  Change doesn’t happen overnight, what we do now will impact on future generations, but, what if that impact happened in 12 months or 6 months time, would we change now? of course we would, but sadly that sense of urgency is not there.  Imagine if the selfish actions of past generations left us with a dismal world and future, we would be calling them for everything, but why aren’t we calling us and making changes now.  Because all humans seek acceptance and happiness and this capitalist world tells us ‘products’ make us happy, and purchasing these products which coincidently makes the minority rich, again we are being brainwashed, going through life with our mind and subsequently eyes shut, humanity is on the wrong path.

Ask yourself why the truths of animal abuse are covered up, it takes undercover activists to infiltrate to secretly film this abuse, why aren’t these documentaries shown on national television? you just won’t see it.  All I ask is that you question the way things are.

You need a strong social movement  to change the current situation because it is all to do with financial profits, not people’s health or the planet, in fact animal agriculture damages these.  It is wrong on every imaginable level, but it is profitable and as long as it is profitable it will continue. However, if the number of vegans continue to grow, it will become unprofitable, thats when real change will happen. Animals need us, they cannot fend for themselves, because humans don’t fight fair, I am more spiritual than religious, but if  judgement day ever comes, god help us!

The physical pain and torture these animals suffer is bad enough, but the psychological damage inflicted on these animals may be even worse.  Imagine a life where you are confined to a space where you cannot stretch, you can’t walk or run, don’t see natural daylight or feel the sun, imagine you live like this your whole life? then you are sent to slaughter.  Suffering is suffering, it doesn’t matter who it is happening to.  Life has enough suffering, but unnecessary suffering is indescribable.  If there is a hell, the worse I could imagine is being a laboratory animal, a cow, sheep, chicken, rabbit, or fox, it would be my worse nightmare to be born into a life of torture, slavery, abuse and then meet a violent end.

Remember, governments and corporations will try to demonise animal activists and vegans, just like they have historically others that wanted change for equality and justice. Nelson Mandela was once deemed a terrorist, he served 27 years in prison.  He fought against apartheid, as views changed over time, Mandela was no longer deemed a terrorist and went on to become the president of South Africa.  Just like Mandela, animal activists are not terrorists and just like South Africa, I believe the world will ‘wake up’ to the truth because once the truth is out there, it’s impossible to deny.  If you want to play your part in changing the world, start with seeking out the truth for yourself!

 

 

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Humanity on the Wrong Path!

I have been struggling lately and overwhelmed as I realise that humanity is on the wrong path, big time!  The things we focus on are distracting us from tackling the real issues in this world; wars, hunger, poverty, animal and human abuse, climate change, disease, etc.

We focus on material wealth, social media, bitching, envy, we pander to corporations instead of facing the reality of the injustice and cruelty in this world.  We look down on refugees when all they want is their basic human rights; a life without conflict and war, a life where they have food and clean drinking water, a life where they have adequate shelter and warmth, a life where they can feel secure and safe.  Where is our compassion? for ourselves? for others?  Why are most of us not enraged at the injustices going on in this world.

The media and government are constantly putting distractions in our way, and we allow it.  In the UK, it is currently ‘Brexit’ dominating news topic, it is an absolute farce and has been from the start.  British citizens voted ‘blind’ in the referendum, those who voted to leave were told lies by political parties.  Lies such as the UK would save millions of pounds per week if we left the EU, money that would be spent on the NHS …. this was a lie!  Lies were told about immigration, that it would dramatically reduce, wrong, these were false promises because the details of leaving had not been negotiated, people voted for the unknown, the implications and consequences both short and long term were unknown then and they still are.  In my opinion the referendum should be unlawful, but unlike most people, politicians seem to sit outside of the law on matters such as the future of the country.

Try to see through these distractions, because that is what they are, these are man-made issues, difficulties created by us, the real cost of Brexit is unknown, but the British people will feel the consequences for a long long time to come whether good or bad.  Opt out of this madness by refusing to give it your attention, it is out of our (British Citizens) hands for now.  Let’s start focusing on bettering this world, starting with yourself by healing yourselves, meditation, self love, compassion for all, both human and non-human.

I feel incredibly sad right now because not only is the world we live in selfish and greedy, there are not enough people who even recognise this let alone want to change it.  People are suffering and dying unnecessarily and we do nothing apart from sympathise when we watch the news.  When that story disappears, because the media chooses to dominate it with political farces such as Brexit, we ignorantly forget about the horrendous hardships people in the world are facing.

The unnecessary suffering we inflict on animals via multiple mediums is abhorrent, we enslave, torture and slaughter them to eat them; we dump our rubbish in the oceans, causing suffering and death to many marine life, we kill marine animals by fishing and as a consequence kill many more through by-kill, drift nets, beautiful creatures of the ocean and we treat them vilely, with absolutely no appreciation of life.  If you can’t appreciate the lives of others, both human and non-human then you can’t appreciate your own life.  Most of us would not deliberately hurt any animal or fish, but we are happy for it to go on, if we close our eyes we do not see the suffering, but your sub-conscious knows the truth.

I dream of a beautiful world where we treat others with the same compassion we would treat those close to us, where we treat all animal life with the equal amount of compassion, life is beautiful, if we let it be!  Please take responsibility for the consequences of what you do in your life, what you eat, what you purchase, how you spend your time, how you treat all life.

Some of the things you can do to make a change:

  • Don’t eat, use or wear animals products
  • Avoid plastic
  • Only purchase cruelty friendly products, look for the ‘bunny’ logo
  • Stop being selfish
  • Opt out or minimise social media interactions, only comment or like something that is ethical, compassionate or you feel very strongly about, stop giving attention to dangerous idiots who promote selfishness, materialism and greed, instead give your attention to those who are trying to make changes for the better, especially that benefit others, the planet and all that inhabit the planet.
  • Take a moment to think about the suffering we inflict on others either directly, indirectly or through ignorance.
  • Make a vow to change.  today I will vow to start writing to corporations to make changes, corporations will only make changes if it affects their profits, if millions of letters are received by a company to stop animal testing, they will change.  We let corporations dictate to us, let’s turn the tables with our cash, so we dictate to them what we want.

 

Why You Get Depressed!

This is my take on depression and why I experienced several episodes of depression.

Whilst there are some medical reasons that cause depression such as chemical imbalances, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease to name but a few, this article relates to Depression caused by lifestyle, environment and / or mindset.  Having dealt with depression on and off for many years, I have turned a corner in the past couple of years, my take on the causes of depression for many is relatively simple.

For me depression is a red flag, a warning  that something is wrong in your life, whether it’s the situation you are in, your environment, your mindset or a combination of these factors.  Whilst this is obvious to most, the key for me is that depression is your body’s (or mind’s) way of telling you something has got to change, in this respect I think depression is actually helpful.

I am not saying it is easy to change, but it can be done, for me I had several triggers for depression over the years, but the main one was my mindset, negative self-talk and feeling trapped.  What I have learned particularly the past 6 months, that it almost does not matter what happens in your life, you have to carry on, you owe it to yourself to fight on and live the best life you can.

You can give in to depression and suffer the consequences of that, which is a pretty miserable existence or you can take action to deal with what it is that is causing you to be in a depressed state.   You have to consider the cause first before you can take action, I believe if you contemplate and reflect, the cause will become clear, you may want to write down your feelings to try to get your answers.  Once you know your why, you can then go about trying to change either your situation or your mindset or often both.

We often make excuses as to why we can’t get out of certain situations, be clear they are excuses, not reasons.  If you are in a bad relationship, you can get out of it, I am not saying it is easy and hardships may initially follow, but the boost to your self-esteem for doing the right thing and the bravery that it takes to get out of a situation that is affecting your wellbeing will help you grow as a person.  This growth will not immediately be felt,  but over time you will slowly take steps to change your situation which feels like a great personal achievement, you will be doing your life a great service.

I know of women who have stayed in abusive, controlling and coercive relationships because of fear, fear of violence, fear of financial loss, fear of the loss of a certain lifestyle.  Staying in a bad situation, compromising your beliefs and values always comes at a cost to your wellbeing?  No lifestyle is worth paying that price.  I know personally I feared violence and financial hardship, the fear of violence was unfounded, my partner was a bully, he became powerless when I finally decided to stand up for myself.  I know there are plenty of women where the threats are very real, in these cases I would advise to seek professional help.  There will be local groups in your area, I used one local to me who gave me great advice with the primary aim of keeping me safe, along with that came excellent support which really gave me the strength to get out of the situation that was making me depressed and anxious.

I won’t lie the financial hardship followed, but I am now in a position where I am dealing with these and slowly but surely am feeling better off.  I am grateful for everything that I have and I have more than a lot of women out there, yes at the moment, I will probably be in debt until the day I die, I am doing everything I can to change this, but regardless I am no longer looking at my debt with anxiety, I did seek help from StepChange.org and whilst it was a very emotional time when I finally admitted I couldn’t carry on with the level of debit I was paying.   I was paying my debts, then living off credit cards, it was only when I ran out of credit that I admitted I had a serious problem, that is when I sought help.

Despite all this, I have freedom from a bad relationship that caused my more psychological damage that I cared to admit, damage I have mostly come through, not through counselling or therapy but through reflection, self care and self-love.  A weight has been lifted,, because i am living a life of my choice, it has taken a few years but my personal growth or awakening has been staggering, I look back at the person I used to be and don’t recognise myself.  I hit rock bottom but I never could of imagined the progress I have made, this progress took effort and time, it does not happen overnight, I associate my progress with focusing on improving my mindset.  I look back and am grateful for the bad relationship I had for it has taught me so much about myself.

I was depressed because I ignored my own feelings, I was unhappy but thought I had no choice, I felt trapped.  Don’t get me wrong this man was not all bad, he was a Jekyll and Hyde character which is probably why I put up with so much for so long.  When I realised I deserved better, that’s when I started taking action to get out of the situation, it was not easy, it took time and I still have a way to go, but I am in such a good place right now, things aren’t great but I know things are a world away from how they was and I will continue to grow as a person.  I have hope for the future.

For years I had lost myself, I was so suppressed, walking on eggshells, I didn’t even know what I liked anymore.  I have so much more awareness of myself and I accept my good and bad traits, I care less and less what people think, this doesn’t mean I disrespect people but if people don’t like or accept me its absolutely fine by me, I just don’t spend time with these people.  I do what’s best for me, what feels good to me, it’s that simple.

My advice to anyone either suffering from depression or being in a situation that causes them to feel bad or anxious is to listen to your gut, just like physical pain is telling you something is wrong with your body, emotional pain is a warning something is wrong, face your fears and you will reap rewards.   I would rather be poor and happy than rich and depressed.

The main difference in me now is I am more spiritual, I trust the universe and that everything that happens to me is for my benefit, that goes for good and bad things.  If someone upsets me, I feel sorry for them because if someone is nasty it is they that are in a ‘bad place’ not you, so I recover from setbacks very quickly now.

I face the prospect of redundancy in 12 months time, I am not worried about this, I will use that as an opportunity for a career change, I want to work with animals and am laying the foundations for this now.  I am currently volunteering in my spare time at an animal rescue with farm animals, dogs and cats, I am looking at a second volunteer opportunity with dogs, apart from enjoying my time on the rescue farm I am preparing for my career change by gaining experience and I’m currently exploring my options of getting qualifications in animal care.  I am no longer waiting for a lottery win to change my life, I am changing it anyway!

Why it’s really okay to be single at 50!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single at any age, in fact it is a time for self-discovery, and to relentlessly follow your dreams.  There is such a thing as being happily single, yes of course I would like someone special in my life, the emphasis being on special.  I don’t just want a man in my life for the sake of it, that would not be good at all.  I want someone who ‘gets’ me and my weird little ways, someone who is not in competition with me but part of a team, the team of ‘us’.

I think we all assume everyone in a relationship is happy most of the time, this is not true, some people will put up with all sorts of crap, just because they fear being single, it scares them more than losing their self-respect.  The best thing I love about being single is I can please myself, I can stay in bed late, go to bed late, binge eat crisp or chocolate, talk to myself, watch girlie films without the ‘what’s this crap your watching’ remark.

Yes, there are times in your life, really difficult times when you just wish someone was there to just hold you, not say a word, but just hold you in a way that says it all.  Because when you are truly loved, words don’t matter, actions do, and if that man knows you are hurting, he will hold you because he will want to protect you from hurt or at least give you comfort when you need it most.

When you are single, just concentrate on you, yes you, don’t seek out a relationship, do the things you want to do, find your purpose in life.  When you do what makes you truly happy, and trust me it won’t be a person, it will be you that makes you happy, no-one else, then you will be a magnet for attracting the right man!

12 Things to Stop ‘Putting Off’

These are 12 things you don’t want to think about or don’t think about until things go wrong. Some of these tips are life saving, others will just make things much easier if things do go wrong.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

These are things you either don’t want to think about, or don’t think about until things go wrong, some of these are life saving, others will save you time, hassle and additional stress.

1.  Making a Will

Almost everyone should have a will, even if you have no assets to leave behind, you can still let your wishes be known, make things easier on those you leave behind by leaving a will.  At the very least leave each loved one a personal letter expressing your love for them, these words may just comfort them in their grief.  Don’t be selfish, one day the inevitable will happen, unfortunately for some, it happens much sooner than expected, protect your family, they are going to have a difficult enough time dealing with losing you.  Having a Will in place won’t make them grieve any less, but it won’t add to an already extremely stressful time, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  If you have assets, I do recommend doing a will through a Solicitor, trust me, it will be easier on your family when you’re gone.

2.  Life Insurance

Now I know many of us don’t like to think about the inevitable in life such as our death, but as already implied in number 1, you do need to consider those left behind.  At the very least you should have life insurance that will cover your funeral costs, don’t leave that up to those you leave behind, they will have enough to deal with.  Apart from the funeral costs, there are often other costs, such as wakes, get togethers after the funeral including food, clothes for the funeral, the obituary, phone calls, travelling in order to arrange everything.  I do recommend getting independent financial advise (if you can afford it), as different plans suit different ages and circumstances, and if you can’t afford professional advice, do your own research.

3.  Protecting Your Property

Fireproofing important documents, documents that in a fire / flood would cause you a headache.  If you can afford one, you could get a fireproof safe, if not, then a fireproof / waterproof document bag should do the trick, these are reasonably cheap, the link shows you the cheapest, but you can get various size bags to meet with your requirements, depending on how many important documents you want to protect.

Put all insurance policies, property deeds, bank books and cash, passports, birth certificates, national insurance documents, personal accounts, any document that you may miss if it wasn’t there, these could be personal letters or even photographs that are important to you.  At least you will have one place where you can find all your important documents.

4.  Protecting You and Your Family

In my humble opinion, these are the minimum types of equipment you should have in your home; fire escape ladders, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors.  You could take it a step further, such as drafting a plan for the family in the event of a fire for example, install in them the best route out of your home in different scenarios.  Another thing you may want to consider, particularly if you have a violent ex in the background, is to ensure there is somewhere in your house both upstairs and downstairs that is lockable, where you could go to to buy yourself some time to call for help.  I know most people don’t like to think of such things, but having a plan and even doing practices, might just save your or your nearest and dearest their life.  At the very least, it should give you reassurance should the worst happen.

5.  Decluttering

Don’t be a hoarder, if you have stuff you don’t use but would leave to a family member, give it to them now, see the appreciation on their face whilst you can.  Make decluttering part of your weekly routine, I constantly declutter, sometimes I will just do a drawer, other times I will have a major overhaul of my kitchen cupboards or wardrobe for example.  I am currently decluttering my books, I literally have hundreds of them in my loft, those that are unwanted by family and friends go to a local charity shop, I do this on a weekly basis as a minimum.  When you’re gone, again this may be another headache for family to have to sort through your junk, make it easy for them.

6.  Your dreams / goals

What dreams do you have? what do you want to experience in life? write down just one dream / goal and dedicate as little as one hour a week working towards that, even if you start just brainstorming.  If money is stopping you from achieving your dream, what can you do to change that?  cut down on spending? get rid of debt? save? have an additional income source? or a passive income?  Whatever it is do it, life is too short, we are here to accomplish, don’t let fear stop you, fear is natural and once you start moving towards your goals, it will gradually diminish.  Write a list of 6 things you want to change in the next 12 months, now write the actions needed to change these 6 things.  If there are major changes you want to make, you may only want to choose 1 thing, and master that.

7.  Career Change

Are you happy in your job? are you doing what you want to do?  If not, then start a plan of action to change this, do you need qualifications to do the job you want? or experience?  Make enquiries around how you can get these, gather costs, if you can do part-time whilst staying in your current job.  If experience is more valuable to what you want to do, look for ways of getting that experience, volunteer, offer services for free, start with just a couple of hours a month, do things that add to your C.V. to show future employers how serious, committed and able you are for your dream job.  Don’t let any obstacles deter you, keep working towards it and you increase the odds of that career change.

8.  To Do Lists

Get those important jobs done on your to do list or those jobs that have been on your list for way too long, schedule them in your planner, be realistic, even if you only get one thing done a week or even a month.  For those big or overwhelming jobs, start by writing  a step by step list of actions needed to get the job done, write them down in the order the actions need doing and do one  at a time.

9.  Breaking a Bad Habit

Do you have a bad habit, that is or will affect your health or wellbeing, we all have some bad habits, it could be anything from procrastinating, negative thinking, bitching too much about other people, smoking or drinking.  Whatever your habit is, vow to break it, having a bad habit is often damaging to us in some way, either your health, psychologically or your relationships.  Make this year the year to bin that bad habit that affects your daily life.

10.  Forming a Good Habit

Do you want to form a good habit? have you always wanted to learn yoga? go for regular walks or runs? get fit and healthy?  start with one small daily change, such as doing one yoga pose a day, do that for a week or a month every day, then add a second yoga pose.  The key is to incorporate an easy achievable action in your daily routine, until it is second nature, then add to this until that becomes second nature and so on.

A good habit doesn’t have to be something physical, it can be something that benefits your wellbeing, such as learning to express your feelings in a positive way, this may be telling someone you love them, a family member, someone you have your eye on, or just a friend, let them know they are loved, not only will this make you feel good, they will feel good too and may reciprocate.

11. Backing up Computers and Phones

This tip comes from very recent experience for me.  About 4-5 years ago, my laptop crashed, I got the dreaded blue screen, it could not be fixed, at the time I was doing a degree and I lost an assignment that was due to be submitted, yes I cried, I tried to replicate it but I was not in the right frame of mind and submitted a load of rubbish.  Did I learn my lesson then, No, unfortunately I didn’t, and just one week ago my phone broke, I went to Apple and they said the phone could be restored but they cannot guarantee my data would be saved, I have pictures and videos of my dog that died last year.  They weren’t backed up because my iCloud was full, I was devastated to be told this, I have found a company that say they can recover my data, so I am about to try them.

12.  Fix Those Broken Things

My home phone broke about 1-2 years ago, I had no incentive to get it fixed because I had my mobile.  It was only when my mobile phone broke, that I felt completely cut off from the world, then by sheer bad luck I was locked out of my mac for one day.  Try going without your mobile, house phone or computer, it feels very isolating, these are the  technologies that are my lifeline.  Don’t delay getting things fixed or replaced because you never know when you will need them.

 

Four Basic Requirements for Owning a Dog!

There are four requirements in my opinion that are essential for owning a dog; Commitment, Time, Patience and Money, without these things you may unwittingly harm your dog either physically or psychologically.  Do you want to raise a healthy happy well adjusted dog?  then ensure these four elements are in place, otherwise, don’t bother, you may cause more harm than good and cause yourself unnecessary stress if you have to give the dog up.  There are enough people who give up their dog/s because of unforeseen circumstances such as ill health, but there are plenty of people that give them up because they did not realise the commitment, time, patience or money that was needed.  I believe if you don’t apply what it takes to own a dog you may end up with a unhealthy, anxious, nervous or even aggressive dog.

In the U.K. alone “In total 102,363 stray and abandoned dogs were handled by Local Authorities between 2014 – 2015” The Dogs Trust

Some people give up their dogs because of a dramatic life change or even death, but, many do simply because they didn’t realise the commitment it takes to raise a dog. Most people bond with their dogs and the love they have for their dog makes the required commitment easier, but there are some who acquire a dog for all the wrong reasons and then discard them.  Imagine how a dog would feel, finding themselves in a shelter or kennels, everything and everyone they know has disappeared, how would that make you feel?  We as humans need to minimise the negative impact we have on dogs, read on to find out how.

1.  Commitment

Commitment is something most people don’t understand until they have a dog, you may go through a stage where you have just had enough of you dog chewing furniture, or being unable to go on holiday because there is no-one to dog-sit.  For me personally, I would not recommend putting a dog in kennels for when you go on holiday, whilst some dogs may be okay it can be quite stressful for most.  Neither do I recommend having your dog stay with someone else overnight, I speak from experience here so maybe some dogs would be okay.  It is better to keep them in their own environment, i.e. their home and let the dog-sitter stay in your home, they are going to miss you, try not to add to their stress by changing their environment too.  They don’t understand you have gone away for a short time, to them it may seem that they have been abandoned.

Your dog will usually be with you for a long period of time, usually 10-15 years, are you planning changes in your life within that time that may cause you to have to give your dog up, e.g. a move overseas, a new baby, an increase in your working schedule, these are some of the reasons people give up their dogs.  Whilst not every change in life can be foreseen, you just need to think things through first.  It’s difficult, because people get so excited about getting a dog whether its a puppy or adult dog, many times the future is not even considered.

2. Time

There are exceptions, but most dogs need lots of attention, especially when they are pups, if you work full-time then you don’t have the time, unless you put your dog in doggy day care or someone spends time with your dog whilst you are at work.

You need time to take the dog to training classes, you need to taken your dog out and about to get it well socialised, with people (young and old), other dogs, possibly other animals.  You also need to expose a dog to the outside world including traffic, noise, and vet visits.  You need to fully socialise your dog as early as possible if it is a pup, an older dog will need gentle slow introductions to new experiences including other dogs and people.

In the outside world, a dog should experience cars including travelling in one, traffic including buses, lorries passing by and travelling within public transport including buses and trains.  Start slow with short journeys or exposure to traffic, when you first take your pup or dog outside, don’t respond if they get scared, they will pick up on your anxiety, just gently and confidently guide them away from what is stressing them

When I used to take my previous dog out as a pup, he was terrified of cars driving past, so much so that one time he ran head first into a wall, I started to take him out of a night when there was less traffic, I didn’t respond I just carried on walking, I didn’t pick him up when he was scared, even when he was jumping up at me to pick him up, as there was no real danger, he was on a lead.  Slowly but surely he gained confidence to the point where he was not afraid of traffic at all.

Most dogs need a daily walk, you need the time to do this, a dog also needs some playtime with you, most dogs love to have you throw a ball so they can fetch it, or play tug-of-war with you.  Some dogs love to do agility training, you could have some equipment in your garden (if you have one) and teach them, most dogs would love this.  A word of warning when playing with your dog, never ever ‘play rough’ with a dog.

Do you have a back up plan for times when you need to go out or away for long periods of time, in times of crisis, is there someone who can be with your dog or at least visit to take it outside to the toilet, feed and water it, take for a walk and generally spend some quality time with it.  If you leave the house for long periods of time, someone should either be with your dog or at least take it outside to go the toilet or for a walk, feed and water etc. 

3. Patience

Some dogs, especially pups will chew your slippers, the furniture and even door frames, this is natural for some dogs, sometimes they are just teething or being a pup, other times they are trying to tell you something such as ‘I’m bored’ or ‘I need more attention’ or ‘I miss you when you are gone’.  You must never lose your temper with them when they do things you don’t agree with.  You may need to source training for dealing with behavioural problems or nervous dogs and reduce separation anxiety by not leaving them alone for long periods (no more than four hours), you may need to build up to this gradually.  You may also need to find ways to keep your dog entertained whilst left alone, by leaving treats or toys hidden for them to find or buy an interactive toy for them.

You need patience for cleaning up when your dog has a toileting ‘accident’, has been sick. Sometimes at the most inconvenient time, when you are in a rush to leave the house, you have to stop and clean up after your dog.  You also need patience to take your dog for regular check ups, booster needles, flea and worm treatment, administer medications when it really does not want to take them.

If you like a meticulously clean house, forget it, your dog will come in from the rain, just after you have mopped the floors and make a mess of it, it will shake its wet coat all over your sofa, if the thought of this gives you cold sweats, you probably won’t have the patience.

4.  Money

I am not saying you need to be rich to care for a dog but you will need pet insurance and some extra money aside for expenses that may fall outside what the insurance covers, such as an expensive operation and most pet insurances have an excess amount you would need to pay when making a claim.  Vet costs are not cheap, whilst you may have pet insurance as your dog ages the insurance premium will rise because like humans, dogs get all sorts of age related ailments, some of which can be cured or treated at great expense.  There may also be exclusions on the insurance policy because of your dogs age.

Don’t assume because your dog is young it won’t need vet care from time to time or if they are unlucky develop an ongoing ailment from a young age that needs lifelong treatment or medications.  I recommend having a backup fund in case your dog needs expensive treatment that many pet insurers do not cover.

Other costs include training, unless you are a qualified trainer, all dogs can benefit from training, from cute commands like ‘sit’ and ‘roll over’ to commands that may keep them safe like ‘recall’ or ‘stop’.  Socialisation skills are often learned in group training, again this can keep your dog safe and make them less stressed and able to enjoy ‘walks’ or ‘play-time’ with other dogs.

If you work you may need to put your dog in day care, these are not cheap, or you may need to pay for a dog walker or sitter to go visit your dog during the day, again this is not cheap, but good for your dog to have something to break the day up, be able to go the toilet and enjoy a walk.

And of course, there are the costs of dog food, treats, dental chews, puppy pads, booster needles, flea and worming treatments, it is never ending!

Alternatives to Having your Own Dog

I personally don’t feel my life is complete without a dog, my dog passed away four months ago, but my life circumstances changed during the time I had my dog, so I currently don’t have the money or time for a dog.  If, after reading this, you realise you don’t have all four requirements needed to raise a happy, healthy, secure and sociable dog, there are alternative ways to be around and give love to dogs.  You could do this by volunteering at kennels, rescue centres, walking a dog for a neighbour, friend or family member or consider volunteering at an animal sanctuary working with other animals, cows, horses, pigs, goats, or chickens.  I know its hard especially if you love dogs, but please consider whether you have the commitment, time, patience and money for a dog, if you can’t say yes to all four, then say ‘No’ to getting a dog.  If  you are able to provide all four requirements, then please go for a rescue dog, there are tens of thousands of dogs every year looking for loving homes in the U.K. alone.  Life in a kennel no matter how good the facilities and their carers are, is simply no match for a loving home.  Consider an older dog, a dog with health issues or a disabled dog, these dogs need love and attention just as much as a young healthy dog, and it is so sad to think some dogs will live out the rest of their lives in shelters or kennels, never knowing a loving secure home.

You may find you have some requirements to offer such as commitment, time and patience, but not money, in these cases you could foster, as many rescue centres pay for equipment needed, vet fees and even training.  Although, a rescue dog often needs even more patience than usual, some of these dogs have been neglected or abused and need time to trust again. 

Final Thoughts

Know the breed you are acquiring, although all dogs are individual, there are certain traits particular breeds have, some need long walks, some need short walks, some are very protective of their ‘family’, some have particular health risks, learn about a breed before you acquire a dog.

Finally, please stop and think before you acquire a dog, they have emotions, many do not deal well with a change of routine, if you decide after acquiring a dog the it is not for you, you are adding to that change of routine that distresses many dogs, do you want to risk that?  By all means, if you have all four basic requirements for keeping a dog and you have a lot of love to give to a dog, go for it!  Make no mistake, it is hard work, they are a worry, their wellbeing and life is in your hands.  On the other hand, the rewards are amazing if done right, for you, your family and the chosen dog.  There is nothing like the love of a dog, it is pure, unconditional and I believe good for the soul, once you have loved a dog you see the world differently it is relaxing (mostly) and fulfilling.

Healthy Vegan Brown Rice Pudding Breakfast!

Brown Rice Pudding Breakfast

I have this most days for breakfast, I prep it so one batch gives me four breakfasts, it is so tasty, filling, healthy and vegan.

This is taken from the Fork Over Knives website (see above link for their recipe), however, I do it slightly different, see my version below.  You can try both the Fork Over Knives recipe and my version to see which one you prefer.  I don’t use cloves, salt, raisins or apples (I have an oral allergy to apples)

I add banana and mash it up in the bowl once the dish is cooked.  I sometimes add thawed frozen blueberries or raspberries, if they are not thawed I just add to dish and leave overnight for eating the next day.   I occasionally add slivered almonds too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates (you can use any dates, medjool are just my preference)
  • Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Teaspoon of Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds (or both)
  • Nut Butter (peanut, almond (my favourite) or cashew)
  • 2 Bananas
  • Blueberries or raspberries (optional but recommended)
  • Slivered almonds (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook 1 cup of brown rice and drain and add back to pan
  • Add to cooked rice; medjool dates, cinnamon and vanilla essence.
  • Simmer with lid on pan on a low to medium heat for 12-15 minutes

Options for adding to cooked dish

  • Pumpkin  or Sunflower seeds (or both)
  • Nut Butter of your choice
  • Banana (mash up)
  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Slivered almonds if required