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Go, dog, do; I'm armed and ready

I'm becoming one of those crazy dog people.

I've always been a dog person, but a laid-back one. My mixed-up mutt ate table scraps, hung his head out the window while I drove, chewed rawhides and drank water from a washed out margarine tub.

But now I'm older and wiser.

And I have Olive.

Olive eats only nutritionally appropriate puppy food made from whole, raw ingredients. She travels in her crate, which is then fastened into a seat belt for safety. And she mouths only organic, digestible chew toys.

And you know what I've found? Doing what's best for my pooch isn't always expensive. Nowhere has that been more apparent than in the homemade, natural pet care products I've started using.

I've compiled a few things that are Olive tested and Diva approved:

* Did you know dogs get fleas? I mean even like, super fancy, adorable, baby dogs like my 13-week-old Boston terrier. And it's not safe to put flea repellent on them until they're of a certain age and weight.

Until then, Dawn dish detergent works like a charm. You can suds your pup for a mild flea bath and wash her bedding in it, too. It kills adult fleas so you don't have to worry about your little baby getting eaten alive.

The best part? You can get it for 99 cents with a coupon, compared with the commercial stuff that can cost $20.

* Old-fashioned flea collars have been found to emit toxins that cause neurological damage and cancer. Plus, they smell weird.

A nice alternative is a homemade, natural flea collar. You can make one by cutting a lemon (in its rind) into four pieces, covering it in a pint container with boiling water and soaking your dog's collar in it overnight. Dabbing a bit of lemon oil on the collar would do the trick, too.

* If you're like me, the sight of one flea -- even if it's on the lawn -- sets off a full-out strip and scrub of the whole house. Sure, you can set off a flea bomb (for $15 apiece) or use special spray ($18) but the thought of filling my home with poison just turns me off for some reason.

Instead, I bought a big old carton of Borax ($3.49) and sprinkled it absolutely everywhere -- on carpets, on upholstery, under couch cushions. All you do is leave it for 24 hours before vacuuming it up. The Borax spells certain death for those hard-shelled bloodsuckers. * Olive is still a little confused about the whole "potty outside" thing.

There are a slew of pet odor neutralizers out there that can cost up to $60. But you know what I've found works best? Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. It gets rid of any "residual stankiness" (that's the technical term) after cleanup and prevents Olive from revisiting the same spot. Just be sure to test it out on an inconspicuous spot on your particular flooring or carpet.

While your friends are out there paying top dollar for trendy, green products, you'll be getting your DIY on in an environmentally responsible way and saving a respectable chunk of change.

See? Sometimes you can be hip and a cheapskate at the same time.

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