It’s a dog’s (green) life

A dog walks into the Sustainability Office, and asks: Hey Hey What Can I Do? Well dog, meet Z.

A dog walks into the Sustainability Office, and asks: Hey Hey What Can I Do? Well dog, meet Z.

By Stephanie Dolmat-Connell, Sr. Research Analyst, Facilities Management

Want to meet an eco-dog that’s living the green K9 life? Introducing my dog Zeppelin, a rescue from the mean streets of Los Angeles, and a German/Anatolian shepherd mix. Zepp deserves some serious credit for living a highly green dog lifestyle—check out his MO.

He loves to play with nature.

Zeppelin’s appreciation for all living creatures knows no bounds. He attacks creatures with love rather than his teeth. Zeppy greets all animals, both human and non-human, with equal zest and appreciation, and seeks to do no living creature harm.

Z at his best, Over the Hills and Far Away.

Z at his best, Over the Hills and Far Away.

He eats plants.

Yes, Zeppy once ate my husband’s grandmother’s 10-year-old prize poinsettia in one gulp while no one was watching, but that’s not usually how Z eats plants. Every morning and evening Zeppelin eats plant-based dog food. His vegan or meatless dog food comes in a bag from the pet store like any other dog food (you can also get it in a can!). Considering he wolfs down his serving in approximately 10 seconds, he loves it, plus our vet loves that he is happy and healthy. I’m happy because a vegan diet produces 2.5 times less carbon emissions than a meat and dairy eating diet; our whole family eating a mostly vegan diet makes a bigger impact on cutting our carbon footprint than would giving up our car.

He’s adopted rather than bred.

Zeppelin’s mom, a purebred German Shepherd, was picked up wandering the streets of inland LA, and a week later had nine puppies in a high-kill shelter (yeah, Zeppelin has some street cred being born in a prison and all). Luckily for us, a German Shepherd rescue organization got all of them out before they were euthanized (code word for: gas-chambered). However, millions of dogs like Zeppelin are euthanized in shelters every day because no one adopts them. Feel like sobbing for a bit and having your entire heart changed? Watch the first ten minutes of Earthlings; afterwards you are likely to vow to never buy a pet from a breeder again.

You can think of an adopted pet as “pre-owned”—we all know it’s more environmentally friendly to shop at thrift stores, to buy a used car, and to buy things from KSL rather than new, so why not do the same with a pet? If you are ready to find your “furkid,” petfinder.com is a great way to see who is out there waiting for you to take home.

Z has a Whola Lotta Love for helping wash camping dishes.

Z has a Whola Lotta Love for helping wash camping dishes.

He hates food waste and helps us save on water.

I don’t need to clean the kitchen floor so often because I’ve already got a floor cleaner in the form of a very long dog tongue. Zeppelin is also great for “pre-cleaning” pots and pans before washing, which helps use less water while washing! Z’s pre-washing abilities are also great for camping in the desert too when water is precious, and for cleaning peanut butter jars or hummus containers ready for recycling, I can’t think of a better way to get it 100% sparkling clean except with a dog.

He’s a recycler.

We’ve seen birds like robins and chickadees take Zeppelin’s fur for their nests, which we leave on the lawn after brushing him. We’ve even got some photo proof! This type of reuse is pretty awesome, so I’ll overlook the fact that Zeppelin also likes to ‘recycle’ by eating dog poo when he knows no one is watching. I think he just wants me to know he’s green to the core and will recycle anything…and I do mean anything.

There ain't no Communication Breakdown with Z, this female Chickadee knows to gather his fur to build her nest.

There ain’t no Communication Breakdown with Z, this female Chickadee knows to gather his fur to build her nest.

Have an eco-pet story to share? We’d love to hear it! Email sarah.lappe@utah.edu with your story and photos.

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