It’s evident that this week’s Balanced Babe has a passion for rescuing dogs and helping place them in “forever” homes. Heather is an Illinois attorney who recently left her law firm to help Chicago-based One Tail At a Time (OTAT) launch their new adoption center. It’s no secret to any dog-lover that our amazing animal friends (really, family) bring balance to our lives by providing us with companionship, laughter and unconditional love! Thanks, Heather, for taking time out to tell us about OTAT and how your work has brought you more happiness and balance!
BB: Tell us how you made the leap from being an Illinois attorney to launching the new Adoption Center at One Tail at a Time?
I co-founded OTAT back in 2008. For 7 years I ran the organization in my “free” time, which wasn’t much since I was working as an attorney. It got to the point that I knew I needed a better balance in my life. I wanted to devote more time to OTAT to make it grow, so I chose to make that my focus and leave my job as an attorney. The Adoption Center project was so much fun to work on. I had a lot of room to be creative and work on fun projects to get it moving. Now that we’re open I’m just as busy but also get to take time to enjoy all the great dogs in the facility.
BB: There are so many pets given up by their owners due to financial hardship. Tell us how your group came about co-founding the Chicago Community Pet Coalition which helps pet owners in need with basic services?
When we started rescuing dogs we had a pretty divisive “us vs. them” attitude with people giving up their pets. When we stopped talking and started listening we realized that people give up pets for so many reasons, many of them heartbreaking. We decided to drop the judgment and start vaccine clinics and supportive programs to help people who wanted to keep their pets. The programs were met with a lot of enthusiasm and we’ve been keeping pets and owners together for about four years now. I’ve found that I’ve really fallen in love with Chicago as I get to visit new neighborhoods and meet the great people that live here. I’m also a happier person with less judgment in my life.
BB: How do you keep stress under control and your energy level up during the workday?
I love riding my bike in the city and try to use that as transportation as much as possible. If I’m feeling sluggish or tired, I hop on my bike and ride a couple miles just to get my body and brain connected. I also have the distinct pleasure of working with dogs who are always down to run or wrestle around. Most of my job these days is paperwork and emails, but I always take time to play and get goofy with the dogs. It’s amazing how a playful dog can turn your day around.
BB: Do you have any healthy recipes you’d like to share with us?
I’m a vegetarian so I’m always watching my protein intake. I also don’t cook so I need fast, easy recipes to keep me moving. I usually stock up on avocados, tomatoes, spinach and black beans and combine those for something quick and filling.
BB: How do you maintain the Balanced Babe lifestyle?
When I was working as an attorney full time and running One Tail at a Time I had zero free time. Now, I have a much more balanced work schedule. I put the computer away on my two days off and I spend time with my family, friends and dog. My rescue dog, Rudie, and I recently started road tripping together and recently we drove all the way to Montana to camp with some friends. Taking time to enjoy the great people and pets around me is the best adjustment I’ve made to my life so far. As a natural “workaholic” I find myself sometimes drifting back into old habits, but I’ve added a book club, cycling routine and regular nights out with friends to make sure I keep myself in check.