September 3, 2019
Thank you for taking the time to read a bit more about our green journey. Sometimes I find it’s difficult to share the deep stuff that matters so much to me. Even if it has been several years since we have experienced loss and even if my heart is in a better place, it doesn’t mean that the loss does not still feel like a loss. It’s just that the busyness of life carries me from day to day. But when I stop and reflect, the feelings come back and my heart is heavy. Heavy with the loss, yes. Heavy with regret… That is also a yes.
When Luis and I first got married, he had separated from the military life and we were working with college students. And in that season we found our sweet pup whom we named Pupito. Pupito is our pup’s Span’lish name and works since my husband is Puerto Rican. Our dog was a spunky Pom-Terrier mix, and had a huge “golden-retriever type” personality! We were fortunate to be able to travel to many places with Pupito. And what I didn’t know when we became a party of three, is that Pupito would accompany me across the US several times. He helped me endure 5 deployments in a matter of just a couple of years.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Pupito was a Canine Good Citizen and a fantastic travel partner! We enjoyed our car rides, visiting Olympia, WA, The Big Sur, CA, Kaunas/Klaipeda Lithuania (we lived there for 6 months!), Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA, The Colombia River Gorge, Portland, OR and many more destinations! Pupito never met a stranger. And, I trained him in sign language-hand commands and Spanish. He was so smart. I wished that I had taken the next steps in getting him his Pet Assisted Therapy Certification because he had a gift for bringing joy to others.
In preparation for our big move to West Point, NY we decided to sell our home. We needed to complete a kitchen renovation project which included resurfacing the cabinets. So, we gave instructions to the workers to use several of our big box fans and air the home out while working. As we closed off the upstairs, we thought our dog would be safer there. But when we returned, he was panting and anxious. The residual fumes from the work in the home were so strong. The whole upstairs wreaked of toxic chemicals because there was no fresh air circulation. (The workers had not heeded my instruction to air out the home during the project).
As a result, we decided not to sleep in our home for a night or two. But shortly after the project, our dog got very sick. And long story short, we found out that he had developed nasal cancer. Consequently, we discovered that his breed is pre-disposed to this type of cancer (although the occurrence is still rare). But he was “young” at age 10 to develop this cancer. I was shocked the day we discovered cancer, and all I could think was- how could this have happened. Pupito’s health declined fast. He passed about 3 months after the reno project.
The night Pupito got very sick, he was limp in my arms. I remember telling my husband, “I am afraid he has had a toxic reaction to something.” But to what? Sadly, I had no idea what I would later uncover. As a result, I live with deep heaviness in my lack of awareness. However, I was not given any warnings of potential risks to ourselves or to my small baby who was only 6 months old at the time. (His story is for another post). Plus, my instructions were not heeded. And when I discovered the toxic link to cancer, my heart sank and I felt angry. Further, the workers used paint thinner to clean up their “glue-mess.” And also I found out that the wood glue was tested on animals. 🙁 The results of the testing where appalling.
Not only were the chemical components found to be carcinogenic to animals, but the chemicals remained in the products. And the product carried no warnings for use around animals, pregnant women, small children or humans in general. The entire ordeal could have been avoided had we have been aware of the risks. It’s important to note that there has been powerful growing advocacy for animals and for the planet in the last 5 – 10 years. Eco-friendly, sustainability, animal cruelty-free were not the buzz words they are today. As a result, I simply did not know then what I know to be mindful of now.
With great heaviness, I grieved the loss of our beloved pet. There is so much more that I could write, but it’s too painful to share here. Thankfully, I did have our baby boy’s giggles and snuggles to help carry me through. But that year was a year of several major losses – my friend Anna’s tragic car accident, our dog, a miscarriage. And also – selling our home and moving far away from family and local friends (*”forever” ish). But the experience also woke me up to the dangers of environmental toxins and their impact on our pets, our children, and even our health. This is the first chapter of “Our Green Journey.”
So, I began to “green our home.” I started to research products and minimize the chemicals in our home. That was our first major step and there were many more changes we made. But I’ll leave those for the next part of our story. I can’t wait to share with you #alltheresources, ways we can get involved, ways we can give. And ultimately – how all of this impacts my approach to business! Thanks for taking the time to read about our green journey!
For now, Enjoy the Travels of Our Sweet Pupito!
To read more about our family’s green journey – check out this blog post!