Nicole Etolen is the editor and content manager of DogVills, along with one of its passionate staff writers. She began writing about dogs over a decade ago on her own blog, Pretty Opinionated, before joining the DogVills team back when the site first launched.
Throughout her 25+ year writing career, Nicole has written well over 5,000 articles on nearly every subject imaginable, both as a ghostwriter and under her own name.
Nicole’s Writing Background
At the risk of giving away her age, Nicole started writing well before the internet became a household utility. She began on pen and paper as a child and continued hand-writing short stories until her teen years when her grandfather gifted her with a fancy electric typewriter. Back then, that was the height of technology!
As much as Nicole enjoyed writing, it wasn’t always her first choice for a career. As a teenager, she dreamt of becoming an archeologist and discovering ancient cultures. Or maybe an English teacher, inspiring new generations of bookworms like her. Other “dream” careers at the top of her list included acting, virology, volcanology (the study of volcanoes), psychology, and a slew of other -ologies.
Her countless “maybe” dreams led her to change college majors more often than most people change their socks. As a result, she never completed enough credits in any single subject to earn even a Bachelor’s degree yet still has more college credits than most Master’s degree programs require!
Throughout all of those major-hopping years, Nicole still wrote as often as she could. Still, she never thought she could turn it into a career…until it became the ONLY career path available to her.
After a divorce in 2009 left her a broke single mom, Nicole found herself unable to find a job that paid enough to care for her young son. It didn’t matter that she had more experience, qualifications, or college credits than other applicants. Without the piece of paper to prove it, no one wanted to hire her.
So, she turned to her only “marketable” skill, writing. She started out writing dry and boring articles for a “content mill,” a job she describes as “utterly soul-crushing, but it paid the rent.” Then, during the height of the “mommy review blog” popularity, she launched Pretty Opinionated, a site that she still owns and runs to this day. That blog led to other opportunities, including editing and writing for DogVills. And the rest is history!
Now that you know Nicole’s life story (or at least the parts relating to how she became a writer), let’s get to know her dog story.
Nicole’s Dog Story
Nicole’s dog-life story begins in Levittown, PA, circa the late 1900s, when her family adopted a purebred German Shepherd named Jake. For nearly 11 years, Nicole and Jake were inseparable. So inseparable that Jake taught himself how to UNLOCK doors so that he could dash outside and find her wherever she went in their woodland development (remember, this was back before leash laws).
Many years after losing Jake, Nicole’s family adopted another German Shepherd, Tasha. A lab/collie mix named Maia followed. During the first few years with Tasha and Maia, Nicole suffered from heartwrenching infertility that left her severely depressed. Her dogs gave her a reason to get out of bed each morning. She truly believes that without them, she wouldn’t be here today.
In 2005, Nicole finally gave birth to a son. She named him Jacob…Jake, for short, after her childhood best friend. Tasha and Maia continued to be an integral part of her small family. They were later joined by Cooper (a lab/mystery mix rescue).
All three of her OG dogs have crossed the rainbow bridge (Tasha and Maia were nearly 15 when they passed on, and Cooper was 11).
Today, Nicole has just one dog, a 6-year-old Pharaoh Hound named Freya, who was a gift from a friend of the family after Nicole lost her other dogs. Freya has the personality of ten dogs, though, so she’s more than enough!
Nicole’s Writing Portfolio on DogVills & Beyond
Want to see more of Nicole’s work? Check out some of her favorite DogVills posts, including a few with her beloved furry family:
- Stella & Chewy’s Marie’s Magical Dinner Dust Review
- Complete Veehoo Cooling Elevated Dog Bed Review
- Blue Buffalo Santa Snacks: Perfect Holiday Stocking Stuffers for Dogs
- Pinnacle Grain-Free Dog Food Review
- Do Dogs Get Sad When You Get Another Dog?
- 100 Outstanding Harry Potter Dog Names for Your Furry Little Wizard
Other work by Nicole:
Along with her love for all creatures great and small, Nicole is also passionate about promoting literacy. In 2019, she launched the tween book site, Middle Grade Reads. She also shares book recommendations and reading guides on her primary site, Pretty Opinionated. Here are a few of her favorite posts on both sites:
- 25 Tween Fiction Books That Tackle Mental Health in a Relatable Way
- 13 Most Challenged & Banned Middle-Grade Books
- 13 GREAT Places to Find Free Books for Kids Online
- Where to Get a Free Library Card Online to Use on Overdrive (State-by-State List)