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A Year in the Life

When did Dogs or Dollars start? Thats a hard question to answer. Maybe not hard. Squishy. A squishy question to answer. A year ago I was a gal with a neglected blogspot address. Something I’d fiddled with from time to time since shortly after The Leap in 2009. 2009 seems like a really long time ago. ‘Dogs or Dollars?’ the question started even before that. In 2008. When Corporate America laid my ass off. For nearly four years I’ve been wrestling with these choices. First kicked to the curb by my Corporate Masters, then trying and succeeding (to varying degrees) to claw my way away. Four years.


I’ve only been talking to you for one. The bulk of it from the above location. With my return to servitude (not a success really), I rid myself of one of two jobs (the one I liked of course) and thought “Hey, I’ve got some free time. Let’s start that blog again!” Here’s when I thought it. That was also about the time I thought “Hey, let’s start a garden!”, “Hey, let’s can some food!”, “Hey, I bet the dogs wouldn’t really eat chickens!” Turns out I was right about that last thing. Whew. All of that. All of it. One year and 300 posts ago. Today.

Now seems an appropriate time to exit if I’m gonna. There would be some grace to that. A year long look at my life. All the trials and tribulations and overanalysis inherent there in. Then I’m out. I don’t get many opportunities to exit gracefully. That’s probably because when I do, I don’t take them. I’ve thought about it. About how, this blog, this meager little corner of the interwebs, that ain’t much to look at. This blog right here. It’s a lot of damn work. With that “Hey, let’s!” stray thought last year, I pretty much took up a whole ‘nother job. One that’s been cathartic for me. One that people read and contribute to. A fact which makes me heart swell, and sing, and swoop, and do all sorts of poetic thump thumps. A second job I can do at home. I can take with me on vacation. Something I’ve always wanted to do. And I did. More poetic thump thumping.

It just doesn’t pay very well. Or at all.

Is that the point? I’d like to say no. Psshaw. Of course not. I do this because I love you guys! And I do. That part is true. I totally underestimated the value of engaged, smart, thoughtful readers when I started this thing. Mostly because I didn’t have any. And then you all showed up. My socks are continually knocked off by that. Compensation would be nice. It’s just pretty unlikely. Money making blogs are like winning the lottery. Or striking it rich in the stock market. It’d be swell. The chances are slim. Especially if you are me.

I could run ads for payday loans. Or breast enhancement. Or processed food. All obnoxious. All kind of anti-Dogs or Dollars in my No Big Box, Conscientious Consumerism elitist way. I could write better titles. I could research SEO and tailor my content accordingly. I could tackle the holy grail of actual How-To posts. Not just self deprecating ones. I could make the content here more useful to you, my readers new and old, who see fit to click and read and comment. I should cater to you. You certainly deserve it. Less whiskey tango foxtrot. More kibble enhancing. Small problem in that, I don’t actually want to tell you what to do. Unless we are talking about dogs. In which case, let me lace up my bossy boots.
I could do all those things. The truth is though, I don’t have the time. I’m living the life that provides the content of this here chronicle. Maybe it’s not useful. For now, it’s the best I can offer you.

So here we sit. You and me. I write. You read. One car wreck, $16k in debt repayment, five I mean eight Chicken Ladies, an Ugly Garden, one The Husband, seven dogs (I said it!) and innumerable successes and failures later. Plus one year. Thank you.

I’ll keep going for now. If you keep reading. I might take a long weekend though.
And, I’d really like to pick your brain a moment.

Why do YOU read Dogs or Dollars?
What brings you back?
What do you want to see more of?
And what do you wish I’d drop already?

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I enjoy reading your blog because you’re someone who works really hard to incorporate their values into their life and to achieve things you dream about. You’re honest about your struggles along the way, but you don’t give up and I find your story inspiring. That’s why I keep coming back – you remind me that life in modern day America doesn’t have to be more-money-more-stuff-all-the-time, and that a planet-and-pocketbook-friendly existence can be a life of joy.

Also, I have no way to have a garden or any pets right now, so I like reading your stories about Ugly Garden and dogs and chickens and storing up plans for the future.


I love reading because the issue you because I relate to the corporate servitude and dilemma you find yourself in. I am in a similar place but only one dog and one cat and my husband.

I stay because I love the glimpse into your life.

More about your dogs would be great – in fact how is Whitey?

Nothing sticks out as a drop this topic.

Btw – because I didn’t have a chance to post the other day – on your grocery bill and the food budget. I wouldn’t make changes in your eating habits (radical ones) to save money. The point of all this (in my mind anyway) is to work towards a life you want to live – not just leave corporate servitude. So keep looking at different options – I am a believer that something will click. By the way – what about buying into a farm in exchange for appropriate meat – or look at bartering skills not goods.


Well two things: writing style and content. I love your very straightforward conversational approach with a sprinkling of humor. Reading your blog can sometimes be more like getting a letter from a friend. I first came here from GRS (I think…) so I anticipated getting a lot of nifty, down-to-earth, frugal ideas and PF advice. What I did not expect is that I would come to love your dog, chicken, and ugly garden adventures even more. And I feel like reading your blog has made me a better dog owner. I think one of the first blog posts I read was your dog bed manifesto, and I’ve been coming back every day since!


I read because you crack me up. I look forward to that giggle I get. Your dog knowledge has helped me be a better pet owner and I enjoy hearing about your dogs. The groceries spending doesn’t do much for me mainly because I don’t have the same opportunities in my area that you do.


Over this past year your blog has become my favourite one out there, mainly due to the fact that I can totally relate to most of your posts. I have kids, not dogs, but sometimes that’s almost the same thing. I love that you are willing to be so candid about your successes and your failures – you really bring a “human” component that is sometimes lost in other blogs that read like perfect “how-to” manuals.


I’ve only recently found your blog, but I love it! Your way of life is very similar to mine, so seeing your trials and tribulations allows me to commiserate or learn or be inspired.

I love my dogs and am always looking for ways to make their lives happier.

Your writing style is very down to earth and I agree with a previous post that is a lot like getting a letter from a friend. I also agree that the grocery posts are the least helpful to me because I have a whole slew of dietary restrictions that affect my budget differently than yours.


you have to keep going! otherwise, i will have nothing to do while i’m at work in nowheresville….plus, i don’t miss you as much when i know every intimate detail of your life. :) i think your blog is fantastic and thoughful.

Erica / Northwest Edible Life

Why do YOU read Dogs or Dollars? Tone. There’s a lot of blogs out there. Yours catches the right tone. Content is good, and usually very thought provoking even if many specifics don’t all immediately apply to my no-dog life. But mostly just tone – always readable and fun, like talking to a friend.
What brings you back? I like reading good writing, simple.
What do you want to see more of? I am particularly excited by the money-ethics-quandary posts, as you know. I like that stuff. And I like garden stuff because I get to swoop in and comment like I know what the heck I’m talking about (ah, hubris – have you seen the blight on my tomatoes?)
And what do you wish I’d drop already? Nothing particular but I think you could get away with going to 3-4 posts a week if maintaining this schedule is a lot to handle. I was on the 5-a-week program too for my first year and my readership hasn’t fled because I’m closer to 3-a-week now.


Why do I read: the dogs. Come back? The dogs. Read more of? The dogs. :-) Like those chickens, too.

You are blessed to have such an awesome job. We all do our ‘corporate servitude,’ it pays the bills, but we’re not all so lucky as to be so well paid. You should give yourself a pat on the back for being so brilliant! Just a thought.


1 year! That is a huge milestone! Congrats on sticking with it this long, and I hope you keep on posting!


Is it wrong I am secretly (or not so) happy to hear that people aren’t that interested in the grocery spending? That’s all the validation I need there.

I am a broken record here. But thank you. I’m loving this feedback. Tone and dogs and like I’m writing to friends. Cuz I am. It’s been a long year. I wouldn’t have gotten through it without ya. Just to reiterate, in case there are doubts, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll keep showing up, as long as you do.

Betsy Voss

I clicked on a link from another blog… can’t remember which one, cause I never went back to it. I like your style of writing, you are clear, concise and have a fabulous sense of humor. Because of you my dogs eat better and at their (very) advanced ages are showing no signs of slowing down. I’ve really learned a lot from you and they’ve benefited. Love hearing about the chickens, your garden, canning efforts, and your parties. … Your grocery spending, not so much, although it’s refreshing to hear that you sometimes overspend despite your best intentions. You are never holier-than-though-beat-your-chest sanctimonious about those of us who still (and must) shop at Costco – although I do shop local whenever I can – and have for years. And it would be interesting to hear what you think of as your target demographic. I suspect it’s mostly younger women like yourself, but I am 56, employed full time (thank God), and have a hard time keeping up with all that needs to be done at home. We’re more alike than different.

The cost of the Orijen has not done anything to relieve the fact that I spend much time laundering dog bedding, the scatter rugs someone keeps peeing on, and vacuuming the staggering amount of dog hair that insulates the house.) That said (and said, and said), give yourself a break and cut the posts down to 3 or 4 a week. We’ll live. And you’ll have more time.


I read because I relate! I live in Seattle, spend too much on groceries for a household of two, and I want out of corporate servitude. Your struggles are real. Your voice is honest.


I stumbled onto your blog recently from another blog, I can’t remember which one. I keep coming back because it’s nice to find someone else that seems to struggle with the things I do, how to make how you want to live work in this day and age. I too have an ugly garden, dogs everywhere, would love to have chickens and I have the same never ending battle of budget over the ethical/healthy choice of food.

I like your blog because you are not perfect, because you show the things that went wrong not just the things that went right like most blogs do. There is a great feeling of you saying here is me trying to get it right instead of those blogs that are all here is me in my perfect life, perfectly doing all the things you should be doing. I like to know I’m not alone. As an Aussie a long way from home, deep in the midwest where my friends and in laws think I’m insane for growing and canning tomatoes when you can get them so cheap at Walmart you remind me I’m not alone. It’s nice.

Oh and I will be the lone voice and say I rather like the grocery posts as I spend my whole life juggling my food shopping budget it’s nice to see someone else do it

Kimberly C

I come back time and time again for the dogs posts. Seriously, I’ve probably read your posts about dog food, kibble enhancement, and dog beds.. well, a half dozen times each. I use them as a starting point into researching ways to improve my dogs lives. I find your knowledge of dog care incredibly valuable, and always very clearly communicated. :)

Things I personally would like to see more of: insight into you caring for your dogs’ medical/aging problems (physical therapy, holistic vet), more insight into dog training, how you handle a new dog in the house, ways to better support dogs as they age. More stories about past foster dogs? More broad spectrum review of dog toys? Introduction to dog crating and crate types? Dog harness/collars?

The grocery spending posts. I like being given a reason to think more about my own grocery spending. But, if there isn’t a lot of change.. just a check-in about the $$$ spend, then I’m not so interested. I see you struggling with your fake and not-fake budget lately. Maybe there’s another way to tackle your grocery budget? Or maybe making change in that area isn’t where your need to focus your writing right now.

I appreciate your blog, a lot. If you had a tip jar, I’d put in a few bucks, for what it’s worth.


I have been reading blogs since 2006, and I can say that yours is one of the best. I’m not interested in “blog-lite”. I’m not interested in lots of pretty photos with very little meaningful content. You are real. Your writing is honest and on-target. (For a minute, as I read this post, I thought you were going to write that you would no longer blog, and I was feeling let-down.)

Please continue writing as you have been. Don’t change what you write for what you think we want. Write from your heart, just as you have been. Again, your blog is one of the best!

Karawynn @ Pocketmint

Sorry to be so slow in replying; life got a little hectic. Or a lot.

I like your ‘bossy boots’ (hee) because I like to learn things, and you know a lot about dogs.

I’m with Erica — I’d rather see three or even two posts a week, than see five that are rushed.

I also agree with Kimberly that the grocery spending (or any repetitive feature) is only interesting if it’s dynamic. Good stories are about change, not stagnation.

My favorite recent post of yours was the one where you interviewed your friends … I think because the characterizations, short as they were, made each person feel real.

Teach me something, or tell me a good story. (Bonus points if you can do both at once.) I don’t really care what the topic is, as long as you’re doing those two things.

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