How baseball compares to life

27 Feb

With Spring Training well under way, I’m comforted once again knowing that my Red Sox are on the field working hard for another World Series trophy. But it’s not just a hope for another ring, I regard baseball as more than “just a game”. It has a magic all it’s own. It can be compared to life in many ways, and many metaphors about life have come from baseball. The game captures the essence of our existence, and there is no other sport like it.

Take it one step at a time. One pitch, one at bat, one inning, one game. It’s a daily existence, with ups and downs just like life. Sometimes you strike out, but you have to go on and put the past behind you. There will be another game, and every day is a new chance to win the game. But you have to maintain your performance and effort, and be ready for opportunities. Always swing hard, in case you hit it, and keep your head in the game.

As with life, you get multiple chances to succeed in every game. You can be behind and still come back and win. You can strike out three times in a row but hit one out of the park on the fourth and you’ve conquered the day and the strikeouts are forgotten. But don’t forget to appreciate the moment! Failure is part of the game though, and that must also be recognized. Even the greatest achievers fail, quite frequently. The best players in the world only hit the ball successfully a third of the time.

You must learn to take what is given to you. If you keep striking out or hitting ground balls then go with the pitch, change your approach. Be ready for opportunities and focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You score when the other team controls the ball. What’s the one thing you can control in baseball? Your actions. There’s no excuses in baseball either. Don’t blame others, take responsibility and hold yourself accountable.

What happens in the beginning may have no relevance by the end. With 162 games, you can struggle early on yet come back and win. The Red Sox finished last in their division in 2012 with 93 losses, came back in the 2013 season and won the World Series. From worst to first. And who doesn’t remember the greatest comeback of all time, in ALL of sports rivalries, in the 2004 ALCS? The Red Sox were down 0-3 games against the Yankees and came back to win the next 4 games advancing them to the World Series, in which they finally won and broke the 86 year curse of the Bambino. In life, you adapt and pick yourself back up and continue to the last inning. To quote Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over until it’s over”.

You must obey and trust authority. Managers, coaches, umpires..all working for the good of the game. The best players are the best learners. If you’re coachable, then you’ll succeed. Life isn’t fair though, and sometimes neither is baseball. You have to accept the umpires call. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the benefit of the team. Just as with life, sacrifices are made for the ones we love. Play with honor and carry yourself with pride and dignity. And frankly, as with life, sometimes it just boils down to luck.

Baseball is boring. Sure, it can be. To some people. It may look like pitchers are just throwing balls to catchers over and over again. But with every play, decisions are being made by every member of both teams. Every pitch requires a decision from every player. You can make an effort to find joy in the nothingness. Just like life. You stick it out whether you think you’re bored or not. It might not be until the 9th inning until you hit that home run, but that 1 run may be all you need.

There’s no time limit in baseball and there’s no clock. Innings are played until a team wins, no matter how long it takes. No other team sport can claim this. As with life, you know the end is inevitable, you just don’t know when. So you make the best of every inning.

 
Baseball and the Boston Red Sox matter a lot to me. I became a fan over 31 years ago, and they’ve always been there for me. Every day. Every year. Whether they win or not, they show up. There are people that come and go from your life, and people that let you down, but baseball is always there. To quote Ben in Fever Pitch“Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that?”

Play Ball.

~ LT

Ringling Bros Announces the Retirement of All Their Performing Elephants

5 Mar
Ringlings Elephants

Ringling’s Elephants

The surprise announcement today by Feld Entertainment to the Associated Press to phase out the elephant acts in the Ringling Bros Circus was HUGE. First and foremost, for the elephants. In the next three years they’ll all retire as a herd to Feld’s Elephant Conservation Center located in Central Florida, where they already have 29 elephants. The company has cited growing pressure from activists as one of the reasons for the decision, stating that the money they’ve spent to defend themselves and fight legislation could go towards taking care of the elephant’s retirement instead. They’ve recognized that the elephants are aging, and that public scrutiny can no longer be ignored. Feld also stated that since multiples towns and counties across the country have ordinances against bullhooks and wild performing animals, it’s increasingly difficult to organize its Ringling tours.

So, is it possible that the Feld family actually does care about elephants? I can only hope that the Ringling elephants aren’t eventually forced to perform at the “conservation” center, which Feld would like to ultimately open to the public. With the announcement today though, they have the potential to encourage other circuses with performing elephants to retire their elephants as well. The smaller shows don’t have a ready-made conservation center to send their elephants to, but there are two fine sanctuaries in the USA that may be interested in helping. Feld’s decision sends a powerful message, the mindset is surely changing. Thanks also in part to the HBO documentary “Apology to Elephants”, which could be compared to “Blackfish” about captive whales at SeaWorld.

For now though, this is a major win for the elephants. It’s also a win for all the people that have helped make this happen. Activism works. Ringling acknowledges that the protests are at every show, they’re growing larger, and have affected ticket sales. Public perception is changing. Activism is the reason for the bullhook bans and performing wild animals ordinances, it’s the reason for the lawsuits, and it’s the reason public perception is indeed changing. PETA has certainly played a major role as well, as they’ve been investigating and protesting Ringling Bros for 35 years. But average people like me that have a passion for elephants have also helped make a difference. This win is for me, and for all the people that stood for hours at a protest, signed a petition, wrote letters and emails, called legislators, attended council meetings, spread awareness on social media, passed out flyers, and did anything they could to inform and educate the truth about circus elephants. Today, we celebrate. CONGRATULATIONS and Thank You!

Happy World Elephant Day

12 Aug

Don’t buy or sell ivory.

Don’t go to the circus if it features elephants, or any other captive performing wild animals.

Don’t support elephant rides.

Don’t go to zoos.

Don’t hire, or support, live elephants for special events.

Don’t support working elephants in popular tourist locations, such as babies playing in the surf, elephants begging, or doing tricks.

Happy World Elephant Day 2014

Happy World Elephant Day

 

Mourning the loss of two great Tuskers in Africa, killed by poachers.

22 Jun

Two iconic and well known jumbo elephants in Africa have been killed by poachers for their ivory tusks. These majestic elephants known as Mountain Bull and Satao, were known as Tuskers with Satao thought to be the largest elephant in Africa. Both were studied by conservationists, both were under 46 yrs old and both were survivors of previous poaching attacks. Sadly, both also ended up being killed by poisonous spears, which took several weeks to slowly and painfully cause their demise. All for the illegal ivory trade – blood ivory.

Mountain Bull was killed in Mt. Kenya National Park in May, and he was very well known and studied. In 2012 his tusks were cut down, in order to make him less desirable for poachers. The study of his migration routes assisted conservationists in developing a safe route for wildlife to pass from Mt. Kenya to Lewa and Samburu, without conflicting with human development. His acceptance and use of the new trail led to over 2,000 other elephants following the path. For the past 8 years he had a GPS collar tracking him by Save The Elephants, which alarmed the organization when they noticed it had stopped moving. The search team from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy found his body, with his tusks removed. He had survived at least one previous poaching attack, which left 6 bullets in his body. The loss of Mountain Bull was a shock and has deeply affected all that knew him. He was also featured on the CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning regarding the poaching crisis in Africa. Their video report on his death can be found HERE. Mountain Bull was only 46 years old.

Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservacy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull - Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

 

With the despair and frustration of Mountain Bull’s death still on many minds, the news of the great tusker Satao’s death was like blow to the body that you never feel you’ll fully recover from. Satao was thought to be the largest elephant in Africa, with his tusks almost reaching he ground.  He was from the Tsavo East National Park. Due to the size of his tusks he was under almost constant watch by the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tsavo Trust. But sadly, the good guys can’t be everywhere all the time and poachers were able to spear him. The Tsavo Trust located his carcass on June 2, 2014.  Several months prior to that he was found with spear wounds, which luckily were treated in time for the poison to kill him.

 

I first heard of Satao earlier this year through a blog post by Mark Deeble, a wildlife filmaker in Africa. His blog post here talks about his observance of Satao and how his habits had changed in recent months. As Satao came across elephant carcasses in his travels, he most certainly realized that since their tusks were missing, that his may be a target as well. He would move through the bush in zig zag patterns, waiting and watching, and not trying to hide his body but rather hiding his tusks. It is highly possible that he knew his fate, and he was right. Satao was only 45 years old.

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

 

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

 

It is thought that the remaining tuskers are all in Kenya. A petition was started demanding the Kenyan President declare presidential protection for the remaining few, which would provide round the clock protection for them. President Kenyatta has yet to comment.

The source of poaching is directly caused by the demand for ivory, mostly in China. The majority of the buyers don’t even realize the crisis of poaching, and most have no idea if the ivory they’re purchasing is white ivory or blood ivory (recently poached ivory). The better their economy improves, which is steadily improving, the greater the demand. In addition, the true and traditional artform culture of carving ivory, which goes back 2,000 years, has been deemed a national intangible heritage in China. For those and other reasons, it’s undeniably an uphill battle. The chain of people from the poacher to the buyer of an ivory trinket or carving is rather long, and everyone is making money. For the poachers themselves, it’s an opportunity to make sums of money that they never have a chance of otherwise. So much that they’re willing to risk their lives for it. Everyone else in between is involved in corruption, and are helping to fund terrorist organizations and human trafficking rings.

My heart is with Kenya, and the rest of the continent as they’re losing elephants on a daily basis. The demand for ivory will cause the extinction of the African elephant if something doesn’t change. No…..not something, everything.

 

Ivory stockpile to be publicly destroyed as Obama seeks to end illegal trade | The Guardian

12 Nov afritorial.com

Ivory stockpile to be publicly destroyed as Obama seeks to end illegal trade | Environment | The Guardian.

This above link is a very informative article by The Guardian about the Ivory problem in this world. Yes, the world. And it is everyone’s problem. On Thursday this week, the United States will take a step forward by burning it’s stockpile with cameras rolling, in hopes that the rest of the world is watching. Hello, China? Everyone is looking at you.

I shutter at the thought that elephants will become extinct in my lifetime, and I am saddened by the thought that future generations will be robbed of their presence. Their extinction will be 100% the fault of mankind, due to poaching and loss of habitat.  Picture a large bull elephant, he’s approximately 45 years old, and standing 15ft high with tusks so long they almost touch the ground. Now picture him laying on the ground with his face carved away. This is what has been repeatedly found by rangers and such, from large bulls to smaller and younger elephants, dead. Tusks gone. Killed for one reason, and one reason only. Ivory.

Despite their size compared to man, they are defenseless. They are killed with guns, arrows and even cyanide poisoning. There are not enough Rangers, not enough resources, and not enough humans to stop the crisis. Not enough punishment for those found guilty. Elephants mourn their dead, and the poachers know it. They can kill one, then come back and kill an entire family that is simply there to do what we as human beings do when we are faced with the death of a family member.

Greed drives a lot of things. It’s so powerful it can drive the extinction of our planet earth’s largest mammal, and one of the smartest. Since the ivory ban, it’s only become more in demand. Don’t fuel that demand. Remember this – ivory only comes from one place: elephants.  Are your trinkets worth it?

It’s been 1 month, 3 days and 21 hours since I had a cigarette.

27 Jan

I was so cool when I was 15. Wearing the coolest clothes, listening to the coolest music, hanging out with the coolest people, and doing what they did – smoked cigarettes. Except for some reason, 29 years later, I’m still a smoker and most of them aren’t. With the exception of my two pregnancies when I completely quit, I’ve been a consistent pack-a-day smoker for almost a third of a century. I was completely hostage to the habit, and disgusted by it, yet still enjoyed smoking. All that ended on Christmas Day when I smoked my last cigarette.

Now, I didn’t quit cold turkey. But I can tell you that in the past 29 years I made three serious attempts to quit smoking. The longest I lasted was 12 days. I tried the patch, I tried the gum, I tried whatever that prescription pill was, and of course I tried cold turkey. Every attempt started with the best intentions and determination, but in the back of my head I couldn’t get the thought that I enjoyed smoking to go away. Turns out, it’s just the nicotine that I’m addicted too. Not the other 4,000 poisonous chemicals in cigarettes, or even the flavor of tobacco.

Christmas Day I got the best present any smoker could receive – an electronic cigarette, or e-cig as they’re commonly referred to. It’s a handheld device similar to the size of a fancy ink pen that turns liquid nicotine into vapor. You “vape” rather than smoke. So you get your nicotine intake, and here’s the key reason why this is working: you satisfy the hand-to-mouth addiction that you loose by quitting smoking any other way. That’s half the addiction right there. The combination of the nicotine intake and vaping an e-cig emulates smoking so much that there’s no need to ever light a cigarette again. Having failed at quitting in the past, I can honestly say that this time it’s different. It’s like a magic switch flipped in my head. The pack of cigarettes I had open on Christmas Day is still sitting on my dresser half full. I leave it there to test myself on a daily basis and there isn’t even the slightest desire to spark one up. I’ve passed pretty much all the tests. I’ve been in social situations with other people smoking around me, I’ve been drinking alcohol, I’ve had stressful days at work, my daily coffee, you name it..never once have I craved a cigarette.

There’s many reasons to quit smoking, the health risks, the public health risks, the money, but until you actually do quit you don’t realize all the little things that come along with it. The liberating feeling you get is a combination of many things. Here’s just the top 10: First, I have to say the money. Cigarettes in my state are $7.00 pack, $58.00 for a carton. That’s about $200.00/month savings for me. Second, no more poison. No more risk of cancer, or heart problems. Third, no more lighters, no more fire. And no more risk of a live ash burning a hole through anything or even worse, starting a fire. Fourth, no more offensive smelly smoke. An e-cig produces vapor and has no smell. This means vaping can be done anywhere and nobody would even know, unlike smoking. This also means I can rent a hotel anywhere now and not have to worry about getting a smoking room. The advantages of this are actually endless. Fifth, no more ashtrays. No more ashes, no more smelly burned cigarette butts, so less garbage and stale smell. Sixth, nothing in your house or car will turn yellow anymore. No more yellow fingers, no more re-washing white clothes that hang in your closet. Seventh, the people and pets around you. No more second hand smoke. Eighth, not having to inconvenience the people around you by stopping whatever you’re doing for a smoke break. Ninth, having your taste buds and smells come back. You don’t notice this when you’re smoking, but both senses are crippled. And finally tenth, knowing that you just made a change that will add years to your life. It’s a great feeling.

To be fair and completely honest, the e-cig may or may not be for everyone. Nothing completely replicates an actual cigarette, so you will never have the exact same sensation, smell and taste as you do with a real cigarette. But you are getting your nic-fix so do with that what you can. Unlike cigarettes, there is some routine maintenance involved with an e-cig and the chore of buying the e-liquid, or liquid nicotine. It’s pretty cheap, you can vape for a month on about $10 worth of e-liquid. There are basically three parts to an e-cig. The battery, which has to be charged every other day or so. The cartridge that twists onto the battery and holds the e-liquid. Then the e-liquid itself. The cartridges will last about a month or two depending on use, then you have to either clean or replace them. They’re about $3-$5.00 and come in lots of cool colors. I’ve always been a gadget type person, so I’m getting along great with the whole process. I’ve purchased colored batteries, carry cases, extra chargers, etc. Kind of like you do when you get a new cell phone. The e-liquids come in many different flavors and different nicotine strengths. I started with the strongest nic strength and a marlboro flavored liquid. I quickly started experimenting with flavors, and have found myself partial to the sweet ones. Specifically the cheesecake flavor and the vanilla cupcake flavors. Yummy. I will slowly start decreasing the nicotine strength, eventually down to zero, then it’ll just be a matter of breaking the habit of vaping and I will be completely free.

One concern that I have not overlooked is the actual studies and safety concerns, if any, of using an e-cigarette. They’ve only been in the general public for about 8 years altogether. Clearly long term studies have not been done. Nicotine has been heavily studied so we know it’s no more harmful than caffeine, but what is the vaping doing to my lungs? I can’t help but think it’s not nearly as bad as what tar and cigarettes were doing, so I’m willing to take the chance. I spend a great deal of time researching things on this amazing information superhighway we have at our fingertips, so I’ll be staying on top of the latest research and studies. In the meantime, I’ll keep patting myself on the back and enjoying my current vapor flavor, Berry-Berry. And I will continue to spread the word to all the smokers I know out there, because lets face it….if I can quit smoking, anyone can.

~ LT

My foster elephant Edo, a great success of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

23 Dec
Edo - Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Edo – Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In 2004 I was trying to think of a thoughtful Christmas gift for my teenage daughter, and I remembered The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offered a Christmas foster program. Since I’ve been an elephant lover since I was a child, both of my children have been raised with elephant awareness and have appreciated my “obsession” with them. In fact, all three of us have elephant tattoo’s now – but that will be another blog soon.

Christmas 2004 I browsed through the Trust’s website to select an elephant to foster. There were many infants that had been recently rescued, and many toddlers as well. All so adorable, and all with heartbreaking stories about why they were there. The decision was becoming harder and harder the more I read. Knowing that any donation helps the entire Trust, I decided to search for an ele that made some sort of a family connection with us. After eventually reading every profile, I was drawn to Edo. Beginning with his name, Edo was also a restaurant in our town that we frequented as a family. We had a lot of good memories there (it is now closed) so his name drew my attention. Edo was 15 yrs old, similar to my daughters age, so I imagined her and him “growing up” together. He is also a strong survivor and a true testament to the incredible work The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does.  His story is amazing, and as they say – an elephant never forgets. He returns to the stockades to visit the orphans and keepers, and oh how I wish I could meet him one day. Going to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is #1 on my bucket list!

Exerpts from Edo’s profile, which can be found HERE:

Edo is the son of Emily, the elder sister to the now famous Echo, the star of many books and films. Emily was the Matriarch of the unit known for Scientific purposes as The E Group, but sadly she died as a result of foraging in the rubbish pit of a nearby Safari Lodge, and in amongst the peelings of fruit and vegetables, which were the draw in the first place, were bottle-tops, broken glass, torch cells and even an ash-tray, all of which she ingested, and were revealed in amongst the stomach contents during a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Edo, her calf, was 6 months at the time, having been born in March 1989.

Edo was rescued by the Trust…
He was lifted out of the car, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, apparently too weak to even stand. Clearly, he no longer had even the will to try and live, so we sent for the other orphans, who surrounded him. Dika touched his face gently with a trunk, and then a miracle took place before our very eyes – Edo opened glazed eyes, and a spark of recognition ignited them. We offered Dika a bottle of milk, which he downed gratefully, then another, and another, watched all the while by Edo. With the help of the Keepers Edo was then lifted to his feet, and like Dika, offered a bottle of milk, which he drank hungrily and gratefully. In all, he took 6 pints straight off, and would have liked more, but we knew that this would be dangerous on a starved stomach. He was nevertheless visibly much stronger, and calmly accompanied the other orphans to their noon mudbath, where hordes of visitors anxiously awaited their arrival.

Amazingly, Edo had no fear of the humans, having been used to the attentions of the monitoring Scientists ever since birth. He watched the other orphans romping in the mudbath, and playing with the football, and although he did not want to be part of such frivolity, he merely stood aside and made no attempt to escape. From that day on Edo, never looked back, and very soon was again the playful youngster of yore, completing his infancy in the Nursery along with his peers, and eventually moving with them to begin the re-integration back into the Tsavo East elephant population, as do all our orphans.

Edo last returned to the stockades in February 2008 for a visit. I check the Trust’s website on a regular basis, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They’re very good about posting updates daily, with photos and sometimes video. I am hoping to one day see a post about Edo coming for a visit.

Since 2004 I have fostered Edo every year as a Christmas gift for my daughter. She is now an adult, married, with a career, but it is something I will always do for as long as I can.  One of the first few years, I went on the website and printed out all of the material I could about Edo and the Trust and put it in a nice 3 ring binder. So she has something she can pull out every year and look at. I also print out the foster certificate you receive when you commit to foster and give it to her to put in the binder. The joy we receive is nothing compared to the joy that the good people at the Trust must experience every time they nurse a baby back to health, and reintroduce them back into the herds. I wish I could do more, but I know that I am not alone in the will to help any elephant, any way, I can.

For anyone interested in fostering an elephant, please visit the Trust’s website at www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Holiday cheers to all,

~ LT

A note to my local news station about the circus being in town

25 Nov

I was so irritated this week watching my local news station promote the Cole Bros Circus being in town, I couldn’t help but drop them a little note on Facebook. I didn’t even care if it got any “Likes” or “Comments”, I just hoped that someone there would read it. Because not only did they report about it, but the correspondents would add their 2 cents by saying “I can’t wait to go” or “we’re going on Saturday”..further encouraging people to go. Below is my post:

“In the 1800’s, before science and studies, it was acceptable to enslave and beat animals in circuses. Today it is not. Cole Bros has already been fined by the USDA for violating the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) for the abuse of their elephants, yet every day this week you have advertised and interviewed Cole Bros and encouraged viewers to support them. On Friday, one of your on air correspondents even stated that he “loved elephants and can’t wait to see them at the circus” – what an oxymoron! No one that “loves” elephants would ever support an elephant in a circus. It is a fact that elephants will die in less than half of their intended life span if they do not have thousands of miles to roam. It is a fact that young female elephants require mothers and aunts to raise them until 16-18 years old (just like humans), it is a fact that elephants do not perform “tricks” 2 times a day on command without being beaten until their spirit is broken and regularly subjected to bullhooks (which are also banned and illegal). Wild animals in circuses are getting banned all over the world, for just some of the reasons I just stated. Not mentioned is also the problem of TB spreading throughout circuses, the horrible travel schedule and conditions, and the risk of a wild animal going rogue and killing people. Elephants are an endangered species – Asian and African – and deserve to be free. There is more than enough scientific evidence about elephants now to prove that what circuses are doing to them is wrong – they live a miserable slave life and are guaranteed an early death sentence. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a circus that does not use wild animals, they can survive without them, i.e. Cirque du Soleil. It is disappointing that a news organization would establish such ignorance to encourage the support of a traveling circus with wild animals. Your 10 minutes of entertainment costs an animal her entire lifetime.”

While the TV station was doing a live remote in front of the elephants, they state that they have a two 5 year old’s that perform, and a one year old that doesn’t perform yet. I can only imagine the hell she’s going through getting trained.

Please – if the circus is ever in your town, DON’T GO. Do not support acts of abuse, do not teach your children that it’s OK to treat animals that way, and that animals are not meant to amuse and entertain us.  Elephants are, in fact, an endangered species. Nature will have played no part in their extinction, it is 100% the result of human beings – due to poaching, enslavement and encroachment.

~ LT

A dachshund’s summer vacation

13 Aug

Gia went on a road trip this summer and spent time on beaches, on a boat ride, at interstate rest stops, in historic restaurants, and even drank from the Fountain of Youth! She crossed the state from Pensacola to St. Augustine and back to South Florida. She met lots of new people and a few other doggies as well.

Early in the year when planning the trip, I realized that 10 days away from home was too long away from my baby girl and best friend, Gia Carangi. Since it was a road trip and we were spending part of the time visiting various family members, I checked into some pet friendly attractions and hotels for the rest of the trip. We spent 5 days in Pensacola, FL and five days in St. Augustine, FL, driving to both cities from SW Florida, thus driving in a huge triangle across the state.

Gia

Pensacola, Florida

The first leg of the trip was to Pensacola to visit family. It’s about a 10 hr drive, so we got an early start the first day. Gia has been on the Pensacola trip before, and she’s a good car dog anyway so I wasn’t concerned about her traveling. We drove on a Monday, so we made good time on the interstate and didn’t encounter too many people at the rest stops. It’s uber hot in July in Florida, so we kept a bowl of water in the truck for her the whole time. Each rest stop and gas stop was a relief for her, and she had so many new things to investigate, but she was always excited to jump back into the truck and get going again. We made it to Mom’s house and got all settled in rather quickly, Gia does her normal meet and greets and sniffing around and THEN, we go outside. My parents live on an acre lot, in a neighborhood of same size lots. The house sits in the center of the property, so there’s a huge front, a huge back and both sides are wide. Gia is five now, and well behaved and extremely attached to me so I just couldn’t resist letting her off her leash to run free. She never once ran off, but I kept a close eye on her knowing that she is after all a hound dog, if she picked up scent she’d take off running. We happened to meet a family member of the neighbor, who coincidently also had a five year old dachshund and was also visiting for the week. After a few days we were outside having coffee early in the morning and saw the neighbor dog take off running with the neighbor running after him, my exact fears of what Gia might do. She did not however, instead she was too interested in what was right in front of her and what we were doing. She enjoyed chasing lizards, butterflies, bugs and anything else that moved, and especially enjoyed rolling around in the grass and digging holes. Mom has lots of trees with lots of squirrels, but Gia didn’t seem to care too much for them, which I found odd, ha. During our time in Pensacola we stopped at the groomer’s and got cleaned up, had nail’s clipped and a pretty little pink bow for her collar. It lasted less than a day, however.

Gia Carangi

Road Trip!

After a fun filled visit with family in Pensacola we headed to Jacksonville, FL to stop by the JAX airport and pick up my son. He had been at summer camp in North Carolina since before Memorial Day so we were all eager to see him. Jax is 6 hrs from Pensacola so we were on another road trip! Got an early start again and headed East. Made it to the airport an hour early and went to the cell phone lot to wait. Luckily there were big trees, park benches and lots of grass to run around in so we had a picnic lunch and waited for my son to call. After we got him all loaded up, we headed 45 minutes south to St. Augustine. Dropped my son off at Flagler College for a 4 day soccer camp and went to the hotel to check in. I love pet friendly hotels, by the way. There are many to choose from in St. Augustine, as it’s ranked #4 in the nation for pet friendly cities by DogFriendly.com. The majority of the attractions, many restaurants and the beaches are all pet friendly. Smart move on their part, since St. Augustine is such a great tourist town, there’s so much to do and see and who wants to leave their companion’s at the hotel? They should be able to enjoy the sights too.

Fountain of Youth

Gia at the Fountain of Youth

We spent the first night relaxing at the hotel and getting settled in. Found the dog run and potty places, which were conveniently located near our room. It was a large enough area that more than one dog could do their business without having to do any introductions. Saw the cutest mini-mini-dachshund there, couldn’t have weighed more than 7-8 lbs. Planned out our adventures for the next few days in the room that night with take out food. Checked out which attractions and restaurants were pet friendly, and what not to miss. I must say, St. Augustine is a beautiful city and the history there overwhelms you. As a lifelong Floridian I am ashamed to say I had never been there before, boy was I missing out. We started out at…you guessed it, The Fountain of Youth.

Gia at the Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, FL

Grounds at Fountain of Youth

The grounds are amazing, and you get a sense of calm and peace while appreciating the beauty and history. You can take your time on a self guided walking tour, so it’s a great place to bring pets, and Gia thoroughly enjoyed herself as well. Wild peacocks roam around, so I kept Gia close to me when they were near. The best part of the attraction is of course, drinking from the fountain. She was thirsty anyway, so she had no problem drinking her cup. After we explored the park we stopped in the gift shop. I was concerned they wouldn’t let her in, but as it turns out it is commonplace for small dogs to be in stores in St. Augustine. She got a lot of attention and lots of pats on the head, and seemed to be in her glory. She’s not always the friendliest dog to strangers, especially small kids, but she was such a good girl on this trip. After shopping we had a picnic lunch from the snack bar and got some rest in the shade before we headed to our next stop.

Gia in the Park

Historic District Park St. Augustine

We went a few blocks over to St. George Street, which is a non-vehicle cobblestone road that you walk on and go from store to store, stop at a restaurant, sit on a bench, or venture to the many parks and monuments nearby. We easily found a parking space and gazed at all the historic buildings and fantastic architecture. As we walked from store to store, I was again catching myself being worried they wouldn’t let her in, then I started noticing that most of the stores not only welcomed dogs, but they had bowls of water set out for them. Again, she got a lot of attention, and a lot of pats on the head and my anxiety that she may snap at someone quickly faded away. She was truly enjoying it! We stopped to rest quite a bit, each time pouring her a bowl of water that she lapped up. I know I was hot, so of course she was hot too, July in Florida is scorching. I carried her a lot by choice, and we went in and out of air conditioned stores frequently. After our shopping overdose, we made our way to a shaded park area and laid in the grass for Gia passed out in the hotel rooma bit under a big tree. I marveled at the beautiful churches, fountains, monuments and buildings and imagined all the history in that area. After resting we strolled through the park a bit, and waited while my sister went into the Catholic church to light a candle. Saw the most beautiful dachshund from across the park, a long hairded blonde standard. Wasn’t close enough to meet though. It was a long day on our feet, so we grabbed something to eat and went back to the room to relax in the air conditioning. Gia was wiped out, she plopped up on the bed and passed out, right where the A/C was blasting of course.

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Vilano Beach Pier

The next day we planned to visit the beach, which I was particularly excited about since we live on a beach as well, so I knew Gia would feel right at home. I love visiting other beaches in Florida, it’s amazing how different each coast is, north and south. St. Augustine beach did not disappoint, it’s absolutely beautiful and so well maintained. There’s even parts that allow you to drive out on to the beach. First we went to Vilano Beach, on the bay side to the public pier. From the pier you can see the historic district, a few monuments and the St. Augustine Lighthouse. We spent time gazing and taking photos, and Gia spent time sniffing and sniffing, especially since this was a fishing pier. We craved a breeze though so we headed to the ocean side, to the beach. Gia played in the sand, chased waves, and went on a long walk with me to check out the ocean. Even though it was mid week, the beaches were busy. After soaking in some sun we packed up and headed back to the historic district to catch the next boat leaving for the Scenic Boat Cruise.

St. Augustine Beach

St. Augustine Beach

Gia Carangi

Gia on the Scenic Boat Cruise

We were about a 1/2 hour early for departure, so we drove around the back streets of downtown St. Augustine through the old neighborhoods. Some of the homes we saw were incredible, reminded me of real life dollhouses. We made our way back to the marina, bought our tickets and boarded the cruise boat. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded, so we were able to get a great table at the front of the boat. Once we began moving Gia was instantly on the railing hanging over the side with her face in the breeze. We cruised past some historical monuments and enjoyed the boat captain’s stories about the locations. The boat ride was about an hour and a half, and Gia spent the entire time on the railings. I was holding her tight, hoping she wasn’t seriously thinking about jumping in the water, but I think she was. We pulled back into the marina and walked along the seawall on the Bay back to our truck. Exhausted and hungry, we headed back to the hotel to take showers and pig out.

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At The Florida Cracker Cafe

The next day we wanted to go back to St. George Street and get a few more things in the cool little shops before we headed home. We went in the afternoon and decided to have a late lunch at The Florida Cracker Cafe. The food was excellent, and the staff is very accommodating to dogs. The waitress immediately brought over a fresh bowl of water and some treats. Gia was more than happy to take a break and sat very quiet and patient while we ate lunch. She didn’t even care that there were 2 other dogs in the restaurant doing the same thing. By now I’m thinking, who is this dog and where is my grumpy little weiner dog? I just couldn’t have felt more blessed that she was being so good on this trip. Later in the afternoon we had to pick up my son from Flagler College and make the 6 hr drive home. We packed ourselves up, packed my son up and got back on the road headed South. It was bittersweet to end our trip, but I planned it so that I still had a week at home before I had to go back to work. Kind of a stay-cation after our vacation.

After 10 days of being away, we were all glad to finally be home. Gia however, spent the first hour back home sniffing and investigating her toys, bed and all our furniture. She didn’t know that friends of mine were house sitting while we were gone and had their chihuahua with them, Gia figured it out as soon as we walked through the door. Regardless, her and I both slept like a rock and were so glad to be back in our own bed. We spent the next 7 days sleeping late, going to the beach, playing in the yard, snuggling on the couch and just being together at home.

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Summer Vacation – July 2012

 

Happy World Elephant Day

12 Aug

On August 12, 2012 World Elephant Day gives you a chance to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.

About – World Elephant Day.

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