Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost there...

We are leaving New Orleans today and heading for the Gulf Coast before arriving on St. Simon's Island. First day was Tucson, AZ where I began my recovery from the move at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort followed by a brief stay in El Paso, TX. Was able to squeeze in a quick, successful visit to the Lucchese boot outlet store in El Paso where I was lucky enough to find THE $550.00 Italian made cowboy boot I admired in my size, on sale, for $150.00. I could not help but notice how polite people are outside of California. In addition, there seemed to be a group at the El Paso hotel that were "loaded for bear" in that they were dressed in what looked to me to be hunting garb and I noticed a lot of big trucks. Additionally, the men seemed more interested in my Labs than me! Just a hunch....

San Antonio was next with a day-visit to the lovely Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg and lunch at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm. We enjoyed many walks along the European (Spanish) influenced River Walk and now that I am in New Orleans I am more appreciative of that reprieve.

We arrived in New Orleans late yesterday and into the middle of the Bayou Classic, a two-day "event" loosely associated with football or that's the excuse anyway. I imagine the events brings almost as many people as Mardi Gras. Can you picture me walking three Labrador Retreivers through the throngs of people in town who were there to take part in what amounts to a free-for-all. I got two responses: "Oh, may I pet your dogs!" in an elegant and friendly Southern accent and then from the refined New Orleans clientele, "S $#@! those are some big mother-f^%$*@! dogs" in a Southern, urban street accent. We ended up having to stay off the beaten path and then enjoyed the relative quiet of the lovely Loews Hotel but not before Scout dived into the fountain at Harrahs as I was trying to work my way through the crowd. Just Scout being Scout...

At 3:30 a.m., I had to throw on my clothes for my Labbie, Paws (age 14), and race with her to and then down the elevator to the nearest grassy area, Bless Her Heart (said with a very practiced Southern Accent). Did you know, in the South, you can say practically anything about someone and it is considered socially acceptable as long as you say, "Bless Her Heart"?

I would say at 3:30 a.m. the population was still only reduced by 50%. I made two pre-dawn "grassy-area" runs. I was in my faded jeans with my hair in a pony tail with one or two Labs depending upon the time transiting the foyer of this gorgeous hotel among women (and men actually) dressed in furs and other garb that, in my opinion, suggested anything might go at that time of day/night. I was clearly in better company. The night was filled with police and ambulance sirens and I could not help but think of the New Orleans Police Department and all they were certainly dealing with. On one trip I shared the return elevator with a pizza delivery boy who confirmed for me this was not a favorite day for the locals. Last year, in fact, many shop owners closed their doors for business.

This morning was warm and clear as we walked along the New Orleans River Walk, my Starbucks in hand. We were up early enough that it was quiet as those who partook in the evenings events were likely still sleeping it off. Paws went as far as she could and then sat with my mom, Sally Kelly, as I walked Scout and Kenyon further. Scout, very loyal, attached to my mom as she had to Tamerie, our friend and Coronado neighbor. Made walking her the opposite direction it's own challenge. And this from a dog, when rescued, you could barely touch for the better part of a year without her moving away.

Pictures to follow as my camera cable was packed along with the controllers for all the fans in the Coronado house!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Counting down

Mille grazie to my November customers. Each of your purchases contributed to paying off Kenyon's medical bills.

When I picked him up on September 11th to foster him I took photos of the injuries as I first saw them and shared them with you. When I adopted him I asked for his intake photos (below)
and I was left with only raw emotion at what I saw. But in that moment when that photograph was taken he was now safe. That is the temporary comfort you feel when you become involved in helping animals.

Dog rescue requires the initial removal of the dog to safety and then the transport to a vet willing to treat the animal at a reduced costs. Then there is a need to find safe shelter whether in a home or a kenneling facility. Please consider your home for temporary shelter. You can set the terms. We are all busy but I am single, a federal agent, run a small business where I do tutti (everything), manage a home and three Labrador retrievers. Make room. Trainers and other dedicated volunteers spend time with the dogs to work with them in an effort to place them. There are websites to maintain, fund-raisers to organize, "show" events to staff on a Saturday afternoon somewhere. It all takes time and it all takes money. Consider a donation in this holiday season.

We move in four days so I have closed down BellaRusticaMarket until mid-December. Tamerie Shriver, friend, neighbor, and talented professional seamstress assisted in the creation of several (well, six to be exact) slipscovers for our soon-to-be new Southern cottage. No.3 is a nod to Labrador No.3

Kenyon at his new home, safe and sound.

Intake photos of initial injuries to Kenyon's back after being attacked and then relinquished by owners who did not want to pay his vet bills.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009 -We salute you

Therapy Dogs From America's VetDogs Officially Transferred to U.S. Army

Staff Sergeants Jack Greene and Mike Calaway pose with Budge and Boe.

SMITHTOWN, NY – Newly enlisted Sergeants First Class Boe and Budge are two black Labrador Retrievers about to embark on a historic mission.

For the first time in the history of the United States Army, skilled therapy dogs, provided by
America’s VetDogs, will be deployed to Iraq to help relieve combat stress of soldiers in the field. These two specially trained dogs will work with a multidisciplinary team of Army professionals to address mental health issues as they arise in theater.

Staff Sergeants Mike Calaway stands with a Black Labrador Retriever in a VetDogs jacket. Photo credit Christopher Appoldt.Says Major Stacie Caswell, commander of the 85th Medical Detachment, “Dogs have been the unsung heroes of our war efforts. Bringing therapy dogs into Iraq will take dogs to the next level on the battlefield. The therapy dogs will be another method that our Combat Stress teams can use to break down mental health stigma and assist soldiers.”

Anecdotal evidence has existed for years that pets provide positive health benefits such as blood pressure and stress reduction, but more recently, scientific studies have been conducted to determine the validity of pet therapy.

Staff Sergeants Jack Greene and Mike Calaway, certified occupational therapy assistants with the 85th Medical Detachment and currently deployed to Iraq, were given temporary duty assignments to the campus of America’s VetDogs in Smithtown, N.Y. in December 2007 to bond and learn how to work with their new charges.

Staff Sergeants Jack Greene and Mike Calaway walk their Black Labradors in a field at the Guide Dog Foundation.After an intensive five-day training program, Budge and Boe were formally presented to the Army during the handover ceremony on December 13. According to Wells Jones, CEO of America’s VetDogs, “We are privileged and proud to have the opportunity to give something back to the men and women who dedicate themselves to our country. We’re honored to serve those who have served us.”

The dogs will accompany Greene and Calaway as they work with soldiers, whether in a one-to-one or group setting, to cope with homefront issues, sleep problems, or day-to-day operational stress. Budge and Boe can help provide emotional comfort through physical interactions such as playing fetch or simple petting.

Staff Sergeants Mike Calaway stands with his Black Labrador outside of the Guide Dog Foundation Administrative Center.Says Greene, “The dogs have a natural, uncanny way of reducing stress. It’s kind of magical.” Calaway concurs. “They will be great morale boosters as members of the team,” he adds.
America’s VetDogs is honored to make the gift of these special canines to the Army’s 85th Medical Detachment, and proud to be called to serve the valiant men and women who serve our country.

America’s VetDogs, a subsidiary of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, offers guide and service dogs to veterans of all eras. A major component of the program is to provide service dogs to members of the military recently wounded in combat.