Read more: Daily Mail/MailOnline
Since I was a kid, Pine Bluff has been famous for all the wrong reasons. The headlines are grim: Most recently, it was named the second most dangerous metropolitan area in America after Detroit based on violent crime statistics such as murder, rape and kidnapping. Forbes.com ranked city the seventh most dangerous for women.
An X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully are faced with a biological element that melts human skin is called ‘The Pine Bluff Variant’ after the Pine Bluff Arsenal.
When a reporter visited the town recently to do a police ride-along, acting Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said that ‘the little old white lady with the kitten on her lap is perfectly safe in this town’. He seemed to infer that crime was confined to drug dealers and rough areas.
But violence in Pine Bluff isn’t limited to the wrong side of the tracks. These days the town’s nickname is ‘Crime Bluff’, and the last time I drove through I saw a boarded-up Main Street that looked like the zombie apocalypse had already happened.
“Come on, give me a smile!” I was hungover and hiding behind sunglasses. The Starbucks barista was the only thing standing between me and my morning coffee, so I tried my best. “Have a nice day, and don’t forget to think positive!” Since moving to Los Angeles, my pre-latte existential crises were becoming more frequent. I was dealing with a pile of rejections, lack of friends, an empty savings account, three flat tires, a then-boyfriend who said he “couldn’t do commitment,” and a text from my mom saying the family pug died.
But faking good cheer for a caffeine hit didn’t make me feel better. It only made me feel more “positive” that I wanted to punch him in the face.
Read more: Elle.com
Over the holidays, I traveled with my rescue chihuahua, Winston. While we were boarding the flight to Aspen, the woman in the row in front of me started bitching very loudly about how ‘ridiculous’ it is that dogs are allowed in the cabin. During the flight, while my dog was absolutely silent in his bag and her little ‘angel’ screamed non-stop, I had plenty of time to think about the reasons why–for some of us–puppies are better than babies.
1. I can put him in a bag…or, if I leave him while I’m on vacation, a kennel. If you try to shove a baby into a crate and walk away, people look at you funny.
2. They aren’t fussy about food. At least, my dog isn’t. He will eat anything from tortilla chips to spots of cereal on the floor without complaint. Giving him parma ham is probably the closest I’ll ever feel to being a worshipped cult leader.
3. You can put them on a leash. Well, technically you can put kids on a leash too…but with a puppy you avoid the angry glares and judgement.
4. Unconditional love. Kids grow up, become teenagers and tell you they hate you. But a dog’s adoration is forever. At least, as long as you keep that food coming.
5. They don’t judge. A dog’s love is the same whether you are rocking a fashion-forward ensemble or unshowered in a Snuggie, drinking a bottle of wine at 3pm in the afternoon. It’s not cool to pull a Hunter S. Thompson on the school run.
6. You can spay/neuter them. I don’t have to worry about my chihuahua showing up on Maury, shouting that he’s ‘one hundred percent’ sure he’s not the father, and dancing offstage. With kids, all you can really do is give The Talk, and hope that your bundle of joy doesn’t end up as a main character on an MTV reality show.
7. You can give them away. Obviously I’m not planning on leaving Winston, but I know if I absolutely had to offload the little guy I have a shortlist of people who would love to give him a good home. I’m not sure I could pull the same stunt with my own offspring. Either way, dogs are a shorter-term commitment.
8. Puppies are cuter than babies. Some babies (yours included, I’m sure!) are cute. Others, me included, looked like melted fast food for a few weeks after birth. Even the ugliest puppies are better-looking than some of the screaming red-faced miniature versions of the kid from The Omen I’ve seen posted on Facebook.
9. They poo outside. Personally I would rather brave a thousand 2AM walks than a single dirty diaper.
10. They are easier to bribe. In five years, I won’t have to give my chihuahua an iPad mini to get him to sit and stay. That same old peanut butter Kong will work just fine.