Connection through the heart meet Carly @carrotsandcarlos

Social media….. i have a love hate relationship with it BUT what i do love about all this is the amazing connections you can actually make with strangers. Strangers who don’t even feel like strangers at all, they feel like family, like minded souls who strive for the same &  who fight the same fight. Just through some other Instagram accounts i came across this beautiful rescue dog: Martha @carrotsandcarlos. I commented on a few of the posts, Carly commented back and BOOM a connection was made through the heart. Truly special. Carly lives in North Carolina (USA) and here i am in Lisbon, Portugal but somehow we connected, somehow our stars were aligned. My dear teacher & coach @barbaraberger describes this as being on the same frequency. This is the thing, you can be miles away from each other, but yet you can be on the same frequency. Seeing her posts, how she describes her relationship with Martha just brings such hope to my heart. With great love all is possible (@sharongannon) which indeed is the ultimate truth. There is so much suffering in this world, the torture & cruelty animal beings have to endure on a daily basis is just so horrific to find a gorgeous soul like Carly who put it upon herself to rescue this wonderful girl & give her a chance to REAL LIFE to real LOVE, that to me is just priceless.

Here is a little blurb from the blog she wrote about Martha, she full blog HERE.

So i decided to do something fun. I wanted to open up a dialogue between me and Carly and share this with the world. 10 questions from Lisbon to North Carolina….. Please have a read & check out her story & the connection her and i made just by flicking through accounts on Instagram.

1- Carly, please tell the world why you are vegan. 

I am vegan because I feel it absolutely imperative to align my actions with my morals.

About two years ago a life-changing curiosity altered my story forever. It wasn’t some big event or experience necessarily, but simply a thought. I wanted to know where the products I purchased came from. Not which factory, or if the animals were fed grass or lived ‘cage free’- I thought it was necessary to understand their life, and their death, if I was going to be responsible for it. I didn’t go right to the graphic videos, instead I researched the basic fundamentals of how animals were raised for food, for clothing, for cosmetics, for prescriptions and so on. Whoa. This was the moment that would change my understanding of the world forever. I said that I loved animals, but I paid people to do cruel and unthinkable things to them. I paid for that. I did that. After the guilt came the desire to do something- to go vegan. I contribute in large part, my relationship with a little squirrel friend, Squee (her story can be found on my blog), in allowing my wandering mind onto this brilliant and life-changing moment. Experiencing such a genuine relationship with such an unlikely little creature certainly changed how I viewed relationships with all species. Squee made me look past the appearance, past the species, and understand the relationship is with the deepest part of the soul. Once I realized the intense destruction the industry is causing on the animals, the Earth, the human animals, our health, and more- it made the choice simple to successfully begin my cruelty-free life. It was, without-a-doubt, the best decision that I’ve ever made.

2- You describe this very well on your blog, but can you give us a brief explanation on how Martha came into your life? 

How did Martha join my pack? Martha is a little grunting, farting, tuxedo-wearing pitbull/hippo mutt. She really is one of the coolest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. We aren’t sure of the details of her life before animal control found her, but we know when they found her it was almost too late. Someone had locked her inside of a car on some abandoned property, left to die. I don’t know much more other than that the officer who found her had an unusually intense reaction because of the severity of her state. My husband, Bryan, and I had decided we were ready to foster another dog the day that Martha and I first met. Bryan still chuckles under his breath every time that I say ‘foster’, simply because Meg and Chuck (permanent resident shenanigan starters of our pack) were also foster animals once upon a time… When I first adopted Meg, the director of the local shelter, Judy, brought her out to me. I still remember Meg hugging Judy and kissing her face so gently- I knew I loved Meg when I saw her show love that day.  I went into that same shelter the day I met Martha and spent time with a bunch of great pups, each deserving of love- as they all are. We live near a population which ultimately results in a high number of Pit Bull type dogs in the shelters, each sweeter than the last. Unfortunately, each story sometimes sadder than the last. When Judy asked which dog I was interested in taking home that day, I mentioned a few sad pups who particularly tugged at my heart.  Judy said nothing other than “Wait right here”. I waited. I was watching the door she had disappeared through, a little confused, and saw her reappear shortly after tugging gently at a leash with an animal on the other end out of my sight- and who wouldn’t come through the doorway. She chuckled softly, gently encouraged the frightened pup, and walked back out my vision. Then she reappeared. She was carrying this tiny, skinny, little sweet potato of a dog who’s tail was wagging so fast. She was precious! She was familiar. She looked JUST like Meg! Judy knew what she was doing that day. She knew I fell in love with Meg. She knew I would fall in love with Martha too. She was right. I owe a special thank you to Judy, and one day I’ll find the right way to share that with her.  Martha came home with us that day, and hasn’t left our pack since. Her story is only getting more beautiful!

Meg & Martha

3- Do you feel Martha makes you a better person? And how? 

Martha has without-a-doubt made me a better person. They all do. There’s something about Martha that really lit a fire in my soul though. A fire I hadn’t realized needed lighting. She required a large sacrifice right off the bat as a stubborn dog who had no training, had been abused, starved, and emotionally traumatized. We couldn’t pick her up without getting bit for the first few months we had her. If we tried she would bite, run away and eventually hide in her crate trembling. When we needed to get her into the bathtub we had to trick her into it, and that only sometimes worked. Bryan and I got bit a lot, but never hurt. She never wanted to hurt us. Martha wanted us to know that she didn’t trust us, that she felt too vulnerable, and that she was hurt before. Frustrations aside, we understood. I don’t blame her, I never blamed her, for any of those bites. We became frustrated, defeated at times, but we never blamed her for it. Why would she trust anyone after what she had been through?

This is the beautiful part- this is why I know that Martha has indeed changed my soul for the better. The decision to allow Martha recovery and sanctuary as a member of our pack challenged me on many levels. It challenged my role as a wife, as a mother, and as a caretaker. It required a great deal of patience from each member of my family, but ultimately we did it, we found our groove. We seem to make a bit more sense when we’re helping others, and I think Martha made me realize that. I watch her now, laying in my lap receiving belly scratches, or letting my husband hold her like a baby and pretend throw her on the bed…these are the only moments that matter anymore. Martha challenged my patience, my strength, my fortitude, but most importantly our relationship as a pack. She has made me stronger, and she has made me certain that we have found our purpose. These souls deserve so much, and if we can offer them so little…why wouldn’t we? Martha ensures my confidence in the path my life is taking, the path our family is taking, and she has played a large role in solidifying our purpose as a pack. To Martha, we will be forever grateful.

4- Is your environment acceptive of your veganism or do you feel there is resistance? How do you deal with that? 

The environment I currently live is certainly lacking in the acceptance of veganism. Or quite frankly even the knowledge of it. Our family is temporarily restricted to an area (career reasons) where we don’t necessarily fit in with the ‘norm’. In a few years we will be off to find land which feels more like home, but for now we make do. I think what the general masses don’t understand is that Veganism isn’t a diet, or a fad…it’s a way of life. A beautiful way of life! Although I am seeing vegan options sprinkled into my local community, like the plant-based smoothies at the local coffee shop or the grocery store carrying vegan labeled products, it really is tough living in a society where dead animal parts are displayed on windows of buildings as a “normal” way of life. People would be outraged if these were dogs and cats. If the fact that I’m vegan ever comes up in conversation, I find that folks tend to change their perception fairly quickly. People tend to label vegans as “off”, which I certainly am but it has nothing to do with me being vegan, I just happen to appreciate the beauty found in the weird. Keep in mind, I don’t offer myself a vegan as a calling card, it’s typically brought up when I’m offered dead animal parts to which I reply “no thank you”. Then the questions start- Are you a vegetarian? Are you a VEGAN? (Always such a weird emphasis on ‘vegan’.) 

Why don’t you eat meat? Where do you get your protein? I couldn’t go vegan, isn’t is hard? Although my environment is really anything but accepting of veganism, I do see it changing. People are starting to learn the truth, and although we all wish it would happen sooner, I’m just relieved it’s happening at all. Until then- we lead by example, educate as folks will listen, save the souls we can and prepare for a brilliant future. The veganism movement gets more beautiful with each new member, with each new bad-ass rebel protecting the animals. Currently living in a country which I cannot be proud of, love means more to me than ever before. I believe that love with win, I just hope it happens soon. 

5- What advice would you give to people who are thinking about adopting a dog? 

Do it! BUT prepare first.

a. Don’t choose a dog because of his or her looks, choose them because of their soul. Spend time with these animals, and don’t expect that you’ll meet your soulmate right away. Sometimes you have to get to know an animal before you realize they were always a part of your heart, you just hadn’t met yet.

b. Prepare for missteps. This is not failure on your dogs part, this is not failure on your part. This simply means that as the leader of your pack you need to teach, and you need to learn. You need to teach your new pack member what you expect, and remember to have kind and reasonable expectations. You need to learn your animals wants, needs, and desires. Please don’t ever adopt a dog to ‘have’ a dog. Adopt a dog to save a life, to add to your family, and to share more love and receive more love than you could ever be prepared for!

c. Educate yourself. Understand the true dietary and living requirements of your dog, and don’t conform to a “normal” diet or life because it’s easy.

Fun fact- dogs can be vegan. In fact, they THRIVE being vegan. Meg & Martha are both plant based pit bulls, and are healthier than they ever were on a previously meat based diet.

d. Remember to do all things with love. Every action you have with your dog should represent how you would treat a family member, because they are just that- family.

e. If you aren’t sure if you’re ready to adopt a dog- foster! Maybe you’ll even foster and fall in love, like we did. (Chuck & Meg are both foster fails.) OR volunteer…that’s a great place to start!

f. Enjoy!

6- What is your take on social media, seeing thats how we found each other….. 

This is a funny question, because I am very much an introvert who lives in peace out of the scope of others, and yet here we are. It wasn’t until recently that we decided as a family that one day operating a larger scale rescue/foster organization was potentially attainable, that I decided to start sharing our story with the world. Ironically, you were one of the first connections I made on Instagram, and what an amazing connection it turned out to be! I’ve had personal accounts in the past, which consisted mostly of photos of our pets, and I finally decided- why not! Why not share the stories of these beautiful souls to anyone who wants to hear them. Our animals, like so many more, are so inspiring and restore such hope to our lives. It came down to this- if I could change even ONE person’s mind to encourage kindness or compassion…then why wouldn’t I do it? I’ve watched organizations such as Rancho Relaxo or Goats of Anarchy gain love and support from once strangers across the world, through the stories of their animals…it’s simply awe-inspiring. Not only do organizations such as these save the animals they directly care for, they save all of those affected by their followers! Imagine how many people have gone vegan because of the people who decided to share their stories, and the people that then those people encouraged. The beauty is in the ripple, you see! It’s such a bigger picture.  Social media allows people from across the globe to connect on a deep, and personal level in regards to a very precious part of our souls. Although with it comes bullying and hate…I believe the beauty in the kindness shared overcomes it.  Why? Because social media helped me go vegan. Some kind soul shared something on social media years ago which sparked an idea in my mind. That idea slowly formed, thanks to many other motivators, a life-changing and brilliant event- veganism. I’m grateful to read the stories of others, and I’m grateful for those who choose to read ours. Thank you, from a very special place in my soul.

7- Describe yourself in 5 words. 

Devoted, Kind, Strong, Empathetic, Sarcastic

8- Describe Martha in 5 words. 

Fierce, Resilient, Loving, Remarkable, Bad-ass

9- What makes the relationship with Martha so profound and special for you? 

Sometimes when I look at Martha, my mind wanders to her past. I can’t help but imagine the despicable things this gentle girl had to accept as “life” for years, and yet the day we brought her home she immediately jumped into my husband’s lap on the couch, wagging her tail, asking for affection. Physical and emotional scars didn’t stop this girl from wanting to live…to love. Did we have our set backs? Of course. But she always wanted love, I’m sure it’s all she’s ever wanted. She craves affection, as I do, and we seek each other out when we yearn for comfort. She rests on my chest almost every night before bed breathing deeply in my ear, and I tend to fall fast asleep in her gentle embrace. Martha’s affection is intoxicating, but originally I was drawn to her utter strength. Here is this dog who was tortured, starved and left for dead- and yet she never lost her will for life…for love. I want to heal her, to take away her pain- and then she reminds me that I don’t have to. She doesn’t need my sympathy, no, she needs my strength. Martha has given me this brilliant new perspective on empathy. If I have the ability to change something, someone, then what good does sympathy do? Martha has proven to be the teacher that I didn’t know I needed. The comfort that I didn’t know I was without. She allows my love to flow through my purpose, and for her I am forever grateful.

10- Whats your favourite vegan food & what is Martha’s? 

Hands-down, without a doubt, Martha’s favorite food is bananas! If this sweet girl hears a banana open, you better brace yourself because she will hit you with some hard puppy eyes! The dog loves bananas. She also loves, well, all other foods. Sugar snap peas, apples, sweet potatoes, coconut oil, brussels sprouts, melon, blueberries- you name it, she will eat it! We have yet to find a food that this little hippo will turn down.

My favorite food, although it took quite a lot of consideration, would have to be avocados. Pineapple is a close second. We eat a lot of raw foods in our house (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds etc.), and these are the foods which I am never without. I’ve also recently added Almond Ricotta as a staple food in our household…(drooling). I love food more now as a vegan than I ever did before!

Carly also interviewed me, you can read my answers on her site just click here.