for my girl

Dogs are heroes. My border collie, Charlie, was my hero. She saved me. My mom got her for my birthday one year—I think I was turning 12 years old. It was in the middle of my parents’ divorce, and I remember coming home from celebrating my birthday with my dad and feeling sadness in my whole body. The weight hit me that I was now celebrating my birthday with my dad, and then I was celebrating my birthday with my mom. It would never be just one celebration, all of us together, again.

That day, I plopped on the couch and started telling my mom what we did at my dad’s. Her face was so lit up as she listened, and I remember thinking that there was no way she was this excited about me recounting the Dove ice cream sandwiches we ate and the video games we played with dad.

Then she asked if I noticed anything. I looked around our family room—a place I’d grown so used to that I suppose I didn’t even notice its details any longer—and against the far wall I finally saw a small crate with a teeny black and white ball of fluff.

My life changed instantaneously.

In the middle of what felt like the end of my world—our family was being ripped in half in actual slow motion—I had this wild, sweet animal to call my own. I called her Charlie. Today, Charlie passed away. She was 13, a year older than my age when I got her, and she lived the happiest and the quirkiest life.

Those early days with her are difficult to remember, but the day she became mine, the feelings I had that went from despondent to ignited are clear as glass.

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Coco (AKA Olive): An Angel Who Needs A Home

A couple of weeks ago, John and I were sitting on one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant’s patio when a woman trotted toward us on the sidewalk with what looked like a small chocolate lab on a leash beside her. I say hello to more dogs than I do humans, so I immediately reached over the patio railing and greeted the dog, who was wearing a vest that said, “Adopt me!” Of course.

Chatting with the woman briefly, we found the dog’s name is Coco, and she’s an energetic little girl. The volunteer was trying to get some of Coco’s excitement out by jogging her around the block. After a minute, they were on their way and John and I looked at each other like, “Uh oh.”

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How much harder could a second dog be? We had been talking about getting one for some time, and this seemed like a pretty fateful opportunity. After signing the lunch bill, we set out to search for the adoption event, albeit somewhat hesitantly, and knew it had to be nearby. What would hurt talking and learning a little more about this dog? Just down the road we found it, and found Coco amid a group of four or five other dogs, some volunteers, and lots of passersby stopping to consider the exact thing we were.

They told us some more about Coco; she’s had a pretty rough life. She was found chained up in a backyard last August, and if you know Dallas summers, you know that has to be a pretty miserable life. She was, they think, around six months old at that time when Angie (the owner of Dallas nonprofit animal rescue group Angie’s Friends) convinced Coco’s neglectful owner to let Angie take her.

Now, Coco’s probably just more than a year old, and she’s spunky, smart, and a sweet ball of love. They think she’s a chocolate lab and pitbull terrier mix, which explains her smallish, but stocky, size. She basically looks like a perma-puppy. John and I decided on the spot that we’d like to do a meet and greet with our other dog, Piper, and Coco the following day to see how they’d get along. All our hesitation was washed away when we spent some time with her and realized the happy temperament she possesses.

We spent that evening brainstorming what we’d call her (I don’t think either of us are major fans of naming a dog what they look like) and eventually landed on “Olive.” Coco, or Olive, has a small frame, but she’s thick like an olive and has the prettiest golden, with almost a hint of green, eyes that reminded us of the briny snack.

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You might be thinking right now that we were getting a little ahead of ourselves, and you’re right. While John is definitely the more logical, black-and-white thinker in our relationship, it became very clear that when it comes to animals and what seems like idyllic timing, we both act solely on emotion.

Piper and Olive meeted and greeted the next day, and to us, it went swimmingly! They sniffed. They walked next to each other, though, somewhat spastically; they’re each a little hyperactive and distracted. They seemed to get along, so sure! Let’s do the trial week, we decided. The dogs hopped into my backseat and off we went to see just how wonderful it is having two dogs.

Let me be very clear: deciding to do the trial week with Olive was not a mistake. John and I fell so quickly in love with this dog that we felt like we were betraying her when we allowed ourselves to realize that our other dog was the one causing problems. Piper was so jealous the moment Olive entered her space and crawled onto her owners’ laps. Sharing a water bowl was out of the question, too. Feeding them was a whole different, time-consuming, separation-battle ballgame. Taking them out to the bathroom was almost impossible; they’re both very strong and very not used to walking with another dog next to them.

Pretty soon, snarls were exchanged, teeth were bared, lunges were made toward one another (more so Piper at Olive), all in the first afternoon and evening. John and I were beside ourselves with anxiety and guilt. We probably both cut a total of eight years off our lives with the stress we felt. And it was the gut-wrenchingly guilty stress, which ought to be the worst kind.

We were staying at John’s apartment, which is roomy, but not so much with two medium-sized dogs — and one who has an attitude problem (ahem, Piper). I can’t tell you how many times we told each other, “This would be so much easier if we just had a backyard.” And it would’ve been! But, alas, we have no backyard, and we both work full-time jobs, and we have some changes that are coming our way most likely in the next six months or so. Our lives, we realized after the naïveté of our decision hit us, are not in the right place to take in this sweet rescue dog and give her the life she deserves.

She deserves to not be crated eight hours a day while we’re at work after she spent the first six months of her life contained in a hot backyard by a chain. She deserves an easygoing dog companion, or to just be the only dog who gets all the attention. She deserves owners who have the time to walk and play and train and cuddle her every day or, at least, most days. And we can’t give her all of that right now.

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So, big world that is the internet. I am asking you a favor. I understand there are thousands of dogs out there who have stories identical to and worse than Olive’s. I know there are people who are struggling immensely, too. But please, I am actually begging y’all, if you know anyone in the North Texas or surrounding area who would be a good fit for this angel dog, email me at audrey@frecklesandfigs.com or call Angie’s Friends at 972-690-9260.

If you don’t know anyone, spreading the word by sharing this blog post is a massive help, too. And if you’re on the opposite side of the world and somehow found yourself on my blog (hi, welcome!), get out there and do some good for the animals, and people, in your community. There is so much hurt in this world, but there’s absolutely enough love and generosity to go around and make the bad things just a little bit less so.

And while John and I could not keep Olive, the most playful and simultaneously snuggly animal I have ever been around (and that is not a platitude), I believe her perfect home is out there. Thank you for helping me make sure she finds it.

Closet Organization 101

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Piper’s a smart pup; this is her favorite room in our home, too.

The holidays are creeping up on us; seriously, I don’t understand how Thanksgiving is — wait, it’s TOMORROW, and Christmas will be here in a few short weeks, too. Or is it next week? I feel like I truly lose my mind every November and December, and this time of year always turns into a time warp that goes 3-times faster than the rest of the year for some reason. I don’t know about you, but something always at the top of my Christmas wish list is clothes, shoes, or gift cards to buy clothes and shoes. If that makes me basic, I really don’t care. I love clothes and shoes.

Anyone who has seen my closet can attest to that. My sacred space is color-coded, categorized, and cleaned out by yours truly on a monthly basis, pretty much. I’m a tad OCD when it comes to my closet. I’m also just over-the-top about organization in general (when I interned for D Home, I pitched and wrote a weekly blog series where I wrote a how-to about organizing the different spaces in your home each week, and it was a blast), which could explain the hyper-attention to what is arguably my favorite place in my home. Close second: the kitchen.

If you’re not quite at my level of crazy when it comes to all things organization, it’s okay, and I don’t blame you. But I do think every closet should have some sense of tidiness. It makes life a whole lot easier. If your closet is slightly unkempt and stuffed with things that don’t fit you anymore or you haven’t worn in two years, keep reading. A few small adjustments will make it feel like a whole new space, hopefully one with lots of room for new suede and cashmere friends.

  1. Put similar things next to each other. Didn’t you hate the classes growing up that had assigned seating next to randomers and you couldn’t sit next to all your best friends? Your clothes hate it, too. Put sweaters with sweaters, pants with pants, dresses with dresses, and so on. This is the one and only circumstance that segregation is okay.
  2. Color coordinate that ish. I know it sounds anal and a little obnoxious, but color coding the sections of your closet will save you so much time getting ready. If you’ve ever thought, Where the heck is my beige cardigan?, this trick will work wonders for you. Sometimes it’s hard to remember if a certain article is in your dirty clothes or just tucked into some obscure corner of the closet, and color organizing will help you figure it out a lot faster.
  3. Use a few tools. Those shoe-hangy things are the coolest. Where do people who don’t have those put their shoes? Bins, containers, and drawers are all life-savers, as well. Big bins with lids are perfect to keep clothes you like but don’t fit the season. Just tuck them away onto a top shelf. I just so happen to have a teeny bedroom, so even my dresser is in my closet, and I actually recommend this for those who might have bigger rooms, too. It keeps all my clothes in the closet, instead of workout wear and jammies in my room and everything else in the closet.
  4. Go through clothes and shoes every other month. It might seem too often to do this, but seasons and temperatures shift within two months, and you’ll see a sweater or pair of pants that you realize hasn’t fit you since high school or you haven’t worn in longer. The general rule-of-thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away. I follow and take this as gospel. You should, too. I understand sentimental items (sort of), but if you haven’t used it in ages, and it’s taking up space gathering dust, take a picture and toss it. I think of it this way: someone else could probably make much better use of it than you are, so let it go. To Goodwill.
  5. Make the best use of your space. Have tons of hanging space and not a lot of shelves? Hang your jeans, hang your tee shirts, hang it all. Got the opposite thing going on? Make sure your clothes are folded tidally on all that shelving. I’ve got a fair amount of both, so I hang my sweaters, dresses, pants, shirts, and jackets, fold the rest in my dresser, and use the shelving mainly for shoes. Figure out the best way to utilize your space, and then keep it consistent.
  6. Roll the non-wrinkleables. All my workout gear, sweats, and pajamas go in my (not very spacious) dresser, and to save space and fit it all, rolling the clothes has really been a game-changer. (Pro tip: I also do this when packing for trips to fit the maximum amount of clothes I fit into my suitcase, because I’m an over-packer addict.)

And that’s it! Before you know it, your closet will be looking like Paris Hilton’s when Kim Kardashian wasn’t famous yet and used to organize celeb closets. Oh, my God. I’m done.

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Tops: color coded from whites to blacks.
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Shoe-hangy things, belt-hangy things, and extra drawer space are all your friends.

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Top: sweaters, pants, skirts. Bottom: shirts.

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Roll that drawer-bound ‘ish up.
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Storage bins = life- and space-savers.

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