I hope that my April column for CAWLM ‘Eco-Chic Goes to the Dogs,’ brings a big smile to your face, much as Jack does to mine every day. You can check out past columns here‘Jack’ Judy Winter 09

Eco Chic Goes to the Dogs 
(Judy Winter / April 2009/ All Rights Reserved)

Most people talk eco chic about clothing, food and environmentally friendly actions. After adopting a dog from my neighborhood Humane Society I think recycling furry critters from neighborhood shelters fits the bill, too.

The minute I signed up for the shelter’s volunteer training, I was in trouble. My husband knew it was like sending a chocoholic to work in a candy store, with no chance I’d come home empty handed. He was right. Armed with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT to shoot photos for the shelter’s marketing needs, I soon met Jack, a lovable, year-old, Australian Shepherd/Border Collie with a bobbed tail. 

I fell fast and hard and took my husband along for the unpredictable canine ride.

I reminded Dick that I’ve always supported his love of cool cars and performance-track events. With fingers crossed, I said I didn’t want or need Prada purses or Manolo Blahniks to be happy. I just wanted to give this dog a great home and train him to work as a therapy dog with kids with special needs, including autism.

Dick agreed to meet Jack. I had no intention of leaving the shelter without adopting him. When the furry charmer put his head gently into our individual laps and shared sloppy kisses, we were sucker punched. Jack looks like a child’s favorite stuffed toy come to life.

“It’s your decision,” my husband said unconvincingly “It’s both of ours,” I wisely responded. We agreed to be responsible dog owners, and we are. We take the necessary leashed walks, scoop dudu off neighborhood lawns, and happily trot home swinging eco-friendly bags filled with Jack’s stinky treasures.

Life with Jack is joyful. I fret over human stuff like impending deadlines, book sales and weird mid-life body changes. Jack chomps leisurely on cherished Dingo bones. Skilled herding instincts propel him to bury the remains in places he deems safe from all the imaginary dogs in our house that might otherwise steal them.

I count calories. Jack tries to eat his own barf.

This captivating creature is my personal trainer and therapist. He lets me hug him to my heart’s contentment, and when he looks up at me on walks, I swear he’s smiling. Jack quickly learned sit, shake, lie down, stay and hug because we took time to teach him. When we take Jack into pet stores, people marvel at his cuteness. Once his basic doggy needs are met, including lots of spirited fetch, Jack sleeps at my feet, making him a terrific writer’s dog and muse. I can’t wait to introduce Jack to cherished summer adventures in Northern Michigan to erase any remaining bad puppy memories.

I didn’t want or need a chichi status dog with fancy AKC credentials. I just wanted to give a deserving animal another shot at a better life, a decision fueled by watching too many episodes of ‘Animal Cops-Detroit,’ and spending time with our beloved shelter granddoggies, Griff and Zelda. We got incredibly lucky.

Even the First Family is going to the dogs. They’ve announced that a Portuguese water dog may soon romp with Malia and Sasha on the White House lawn. The Obamas said the nation’s First Dog would be rescued from a local shelter— a capital decision that’s truly eco chic. ###