When I cancelled my book deal in 2013, the last thing I ever wanted to do again was take up a cause through my writing. But here I am.
My dream was that a New York agent would fall in love with my book and sell it to a publisher. When it happened I was elated; a month later I called it quits. It’s a memoir about the crazy cancer journey that led to me becoming unbelievably healthy and fit (and, interestingly, not dead), but with the growing popularity of my story came an inundation of all-things-cancer.
Some people loved my story and wanted to tell me about their own struggles with cancer. Many people turned to me for advice: “My mother also has pancreatic cancer… [Gives explanation of every horrible detail leading up to her final days.] … Can you tell me what she should eat so that she doesn’t die?” And some people hated me, hated my story, hated that I was a vegan, and hated that I was a cyclist. Some of the emails and online comments I received teetered close to death threats.
I realized that by sharing my story, I could no longer live the healthy life I described in my book. So I said goodbye to my agent and canceled the book deal.
A year later I adopted a dog. You might have heard of her: Emma the Beagle?
Because of Emma’s fear of EVERYTHING, I found myself on a never-ending quest for knowledge of dogs, dog behavior, dog learning, dog emotions, and dog training.
Sadly, I learned that traditional dog training methods focus on punishing dogs with equipment designed to hurt or scare them when they do something a person deems “wrong,” instead of rewarding them with food or toys or cuddles for doing something “right.” I learned that — despite decades of proof that positive reinforcement methods not only teach dogs to do the behaviors we want, they also strengthen the bond between the pupz and their peoplez — there exists an army of old-school trainers (i.e. Cesar Millan) who will not let go of their antiquated and cruel ways, and who fight to discredit the brave and wonderful work of force-free trainers.
So, I write. While I continue my quest to digest every possible morsel of doggie knowledge, I share my discoveries with people who read The Washington Post, The Bark, this blog, and even my neighborhood freebie magazine. In person I can only help so many dogs at a time, but the number of dogs I can help through my writing? Limitless.
Once again, I am faced with the same anger and poison that was spewed at me when I talked about my health, but I can handle it this time. I’m no longer writing about myself and hoping that my story might inspire others to become incredibly healthy too. Now I’m talking about someone else.
I’m writing about the millions of dogs in the U. S. and around the world who cannot speak for themselves and tell us to please stop strangling me, please stop electrocuting me, please stop hitting me, and please stop leaving me locked in a box for ten, eleven, twelve hours a day.
I’m on a mission to help the dogz, and Abusive and Angry People of the Internet who want to keep me from succeeding, be warned: I’m tougher now. I’m smarter now. I’m a far better writer. And this time I’m seeing the battle through to the end.