It’s not always easy being green with a puppy in the house, but it is important

My wife and I were fortunate enough back in November to adopt a beautiful golden retriever that we named Bailey. She just hit the four-month-old mark and is constantly keeping us on our toes as we have adapted our lives around her.

What was once an easy process of getting up and getting ready in the morning now includes an extra meal to be served, walks when the weather is nice and several trips outside to let her do her business. We can’t leave anything on the floor now as she loves to take socks and shoes into her mouth and prance right past us, as if to show off her new chew toys.


Bailey (Photo provided)

And as she grows, no food is safe, whether it’s on the coffee table, the dining room table or the counters in our kitchen. Basically everything we do around our house has to be thought about from a new perspective, which is: Can the puppy get to this and if so, will she either try to eat it or destroy it? Needless to say it has been quite an adventure.

As an environmental educator, though, it has also forced me to think about dog ownership from an environmental standpoint. One of the most common thoughts regarding dog ownership, especially with dogs, is their waste. Most people in Lexington are aware that it is law that you must clean up after your dogs on a walk and that you can be cited if you don’t.

What most don’t know is why this is so important. During a rain event, or perhaps through some other means, a lot of that waste ends up in our roads, which means that it eventually washes into our storm drains. Unfortunately, the water that ends up down these drains isn’t cleaned or filtered and, instead, flows directly into streams and creeks throughout the city.

As the waste builds up in these areas it starts to have a negative impact on our water. The waste can spread disease and bacteria as it sits in areas where it shouldn’t or as it flows in the water. That can have a negative impact on the quality of the water itself, putting additional material in the water that can throw off the different components that make up water quality.

Needless to say picking up after a pet is a fantastic way for dog lovers to have a direct impact on their local environment. Here are some other ideas on how to be a green pet owner:

  • When it’s warm out and you’re bathing your dog, rather than running the hose nonstop, fill up a bucket or kiddie pool.
  • If a toy has fallen out of favor, rather than throwing it away, try to find someone else to take it or donate it to a shelter.
  • Likewise, old blankets and towels are always needed at local animal shelters.
  • If you prefer to leave the TV on for the pet at home for the noise, either put it on a timer or try using a radio instead.

As we continue our journey as dog parents I am sure there will be many more lessons either taught or learned from experience, and I hope that finding new ways to limit our environmental impact is one of them.


1 Ryan.KYForward

Ryan Farley serves Bluegrass Greensource in a hybrid role, working as an environmental educator with several outreach specialist responsibilities. Ryan received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgetown College and a master’s in recreation and park administration from Eastern Kentucky University. He has worked at wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Texas and with Kentucky 4-H in various roles. Farley provides educational programs to several Fayette County schools and works with downtown businesses and the greater Lexington community to educate and empower residents to become better environmental stewards.

This article appeared in KY Forward on February 13, 2014. 

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