Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cruise Vacation Blog Part Five

Disclaimer: Although we did not really care for St. Thomas, we noticed nothing necessarily scary or violent there. Certainly, no evidence of the tragic shooting that occurred there a few weeks ago whereby a young girl was killed in an exchange of gang gunshots while on her way to an excursion. Violence can occur anywhere and at any time; even in "paradise".

24 May 2010 Enchantment of the Seas Day Five: St. Thomas!

All is well. We’re getting the hang of the ship and its layout. I’m feeling relaxed (and fat). I guess that is what vacations are for! We are steering clear of Deck 7 (the “future vacation consultant”; we’ve already talked to several people who did not…and now have their next cruise booked).

We’ve now arrived in St. Thomas…apparently, a shopping Mecca. I really don’t need anything; seriously! I’m not in a shopping mood. But, we’ll get off the ship and wander around a bit but probably head back to the ship early enough to chill by the pool several hours. Mr. B wants to try to win his money back in the Casino, too.

St. Thomas from our balcony


St. Thomas was a BUST, as far as we are concerned. Near the port, all there is are a bunch of boring touristy shops. I didn’t see any “good deals”, either. We tried to walk to the square in Charlotte St. Amelie but we could’t find it! Seriously; Mark kept saying, “This way! This way!” but we ended up lost. We went into a really disgusting McDonald's to ask directions. He asked someone at the counter and I asked a woman sitting by the (REALLY gross and dirty) bathrooms. Guess what? We both got different directions. Plus, it was raining. Hard. At this point, I lost interest and so we decided to go back to the ship.

Our dining room window (3rd round one from the right)

We ended up spending several hours in the Solarium. Since it was raining, they had the roof shut and it was like a sauna in there until they finally opened it back up.

We went up to Deck 10 to watch the sail-away from. Bye-bye, St. Thomas.

The best part about St. Thomas. Sailing away! That's the Carnival Victory sailing away right behind us

Afterwards, our same routine of cocktails, cigars and cards on our balcony before dinner. Definitely could get used to this!

We had an interesting conversation with our “Booze Man” Placid at dinner; turns out he’s a recovering alcoholic. At the ripe old age of 28. I’m not sure I understand why a recovering alcoholic would want to be around alcohol all of the time, but, he says it doesn’t bother him. Plus, the tips are good. I guess therein lies the answer.

In general, it seems to me that majority of people working on the ship are in their 20s (not including the officers, of course). This makes some sense, considering how often and how long they are away from home.

At dinner after St. Thomas. I still fit into the red dress, despite the amount of food and drink I've been consuming!

After dinner, we went up to the Viking Crown Lounge to see if there was any dancing action. There was, but, it was “teen disco” time so we didn’t much care for the music. Back down to our stateroom where we found our towel creature for the evening.


Tomorrow we’ll be in Samana, Dominican Republic. We actually have an all day excursion planned (with the folks from Cruise Critic) and are looking forward to what we’ve been told is an excellent tour.

Mrs. B

Monday, July 26, 2010

Video of Pulling Into San Juan 5.23.10

What the heck. Here is a video I took from our balcony as we pulled into San Juan. Yeah, hot, humid days here in NC are seriously making me wish I was back on that ship!

Mrs. B

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mrs. B's Brilliant Blog: I Learned the Truth at Seventeen

One of my "favorite" posts about The Kid. Worthy of a repost, I think, now that, two years (or so) later, she's heading off to college in a month.

Mrs. B

Mrs. B's Brilliant Blog: I Learned the Truth at Seventeen: "Lately, the lyrics from a song, “At Seventeen”, by a lady named Janis Ian, that my older sister used to play over and over when we were grow..."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cruise Vacation Blog Part Four

23 May 2010 Enchantment of the Seas Day Four: San Juan, Puerto Rico!

For breakfast this morning, we decided to try the Windjammer Café. It was amazingly crowded in there; seriously, so many people stumbling and bumbling about. It seems, too, in these buffet type places, people check their brains at the door. After figuring out where the much needed coffee was (BTW, the coffee in our stateroom is terrible), we managed to snag a table (no small feat, that). Then, off to brave the buffet lines.

Thankfully, the food and the variety of same more than made up for the extremely irritating co-passengers cutting into lines in front of us and the busboys taking away plates, utensils, cups, etc., before we were actually done with them. Better hold onto your spouse; you may return from a trip to the food trough to find him or her whisked away!

Anyway, after eating, we roamed around the ship a bit. We ended up sitting and reading in the Library for a while; mostly to give Esther time to clean up our stateroom. Unfortunately, there was some loud buffoon sitting in there as well holding “court” behind us and pontificating on every little thing to do with cruising to a small group of people around him. I wasn’t sure if they were actually traveling with him (poor souls) or just caught sitting next to him and were too polite to leave. Well, not us. We got up and went up to the Solarium were it was far more quiet and peaceful.

We were in our stateroom as we pulled into San Juan around 2:00 pm. Since we were not taking an excursion, we had to wait for those who were to get off. No matter, as we had nowhere in particular to go, anyway.

Mr. B on our balcony as we pulled into Old San Juan

After getting off around 2:30 pm, we decided to walk to one of two forts in Old San Juan (as evidenced by the name, this is the older, historic section of San Juan). It took us about twenty minutes to get there at a steady pace. It was a nice enough walk save for the swirling clouds of gnats we kept running into (it was quite humid; in fact, there was even a bit of rain).

Enchantment seen from the pier in San Juan

The fort, Castillo San Cristobal, built, aptly on San Cristobal hill, is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World. It is part of the defensive system built by the Spaniards in 1539. Castillo San Cristobal protected the city from land based attacks whilst its sister fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro (about one mile northwest; we saw it as we sailed into San Juan), protected San Juan from sea going enemies.

Happily avoiding the gnats at the fort!

So, we wandered around the fort for awhile; pretty cool. I especially liked the drawings of five Spanish ships on a wall in the dungeon. They are said to have been made by a captive enemy captain awaiting execution. I tell you, it was really hot and humid and stuffy and dank down in that dungeon; execution may have seemed like a blessing to this ill-fated person!

Cool drawings by a doomed captive. I wonder if he could have ever imagined people would, years later, be gawking at these?

Three flags fly over the fort; the US’s, the Puerto Rican and the old Spanish military flag known as the Cross of Burgundy

Sentry box at the fort. This is one of my favorite pictures from our vacation

Hot hot hot hot (the temps, I mean!) Great view of the ocean

After leaving the fort, we headed over to the Hotel el Convento to try a tapas restaurant located there that I’d read about both in Frommer’s and on Trip Advisor.

El Picoteo is inside this hotel

It wasn’t easy to find; no signage! Turns out it was on the 2nd floor of the hotel in an inner courtyard. Great boutique looking hotel; cool courtyard with lots of multi-colored bougainvillea hanging about; this really reminded me of San Diego!

The restaurant is called El Picoteo (we think this means The Pigeon). We each had a sangria type drink and one tapas each (didn’t want to fill up too much since we were definitely planning on eating dinner later on the ship). Mark ordered lobster empanadas and I had little meatballs in a spicy tomato, garlic, almond sauce (so many meatballs that Mark had to eat some of them, too). Great fresh bread (tasted like Cuban), too. An enjoyable interlude save for some people sitting at the table behind Mark who had a small child who they let run amuck all over the place (we ran into them later on our ship…figures). We’d definitely return to this place. See my review on Trip Advisor here.

After eating, we roamed around Old San Juan a bit so I could take some pictures. It’s very quaint and there is also a lot of decent outlet shopping (which we avoided but I know a lot of the folks on the ship were looking forward to).

Old city gate

On our way back to the ship, we saw the brewery that mom and dad had told us about so we stopped in to try their beer. Eh, it was “ok plus”. First, the place was CROWDED; 2nd, the service was so-so (slow and inattentive) and lastly, the beer wasn’t all that great. It’s doubtful we’d return, if ever back in Old San Juan. See my review on Trip Advisor here.

Best thing about the Old Harbor Brewery was getting this picture!

We were back on the Enchantment of the Seas by 6:00 pm or so. It was really easy, BTW, getting on and off the ship. The only required IDs were Sea Passes and driver's licenses.

After getting cleaned up (I felt as though I had those little gnats in my hair, in my ears, in my teeth…); we headed down to enjoy a bit of pre-dinner music in the Centrum area. We ordered some Champagne from the nearby Champagne Bar (probably the only “oops” for us as two glasses were $40!)

Enjoying that expensive Champagne in the Centrum

and listened to a great violin/guitar duo play. After dinner, we decided to go to the Spotlight Lounge and listen to big-band/swing music and watch all the older folks dance far better than we ever could!

Tonight’s towel creature…”where are my peanuts?”

Tomorrow…St. Thomas.

Mrs. B

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Famous For A Completely Unintended Reason

When I started blogging four years ago, my intention was really only to blather. Over the course of time, I've mostly succeeded in this, with an occasional story, poem, travel review, or rediscovered writing from years ago thrown in for good measure. My Blog does not have any central theme or intent. I suppose I really should have entitled it "Mrs. B's Blathering Blog" save for the fact I hold on to moments of sheer brilliancy (few and far between that they may be).

My SIL just now sent me a link to another Blog out there that made me sort of smack myself up the side of the head and say, "Geez, what didn't I think of this?" It's called (something like) Dear Evil HR Lady. The author posts questions (that she's apparently received hundreds of) about all aspects of HR, management, employee relations, etc. that employees find perplexing, have questions about, etc. Other people (supposedly, other HR professionals) comment with their answer/opinion. The Evil HR Lady, from time to time, poses general questions and provides links to articles. Of course, the Blog may have been funnier if she answered the questions Ann Landers style, somewhat tongue in cheek posing as a true "evil" HR person. Be that as it may, it's still a grand idea and she has something like 500 followers.

I have six followers and comments on my daily postings are now few and far between. I can't even get everyone in my own family and friend network to click the "Follow" button and become an official follower. Who HAS? My husband (thankfully, although I don't think he religiously reads my Blog), my sister in law, her sister, an ex boyfriend and two people whom I have no clue who they are.
My loyal followers. Sort of.
Still, I can sort of figure out from my traffic box who is coming and going. And, hands down, the majority of them are NOT family and friends. Rather, they are people that have found my Blog due to one silly post I made two years ago about whether or not the Hearts game by Microsoft (whatever version but I was specifically, at that time, referring to Vista's version) cheats.
My traffic box captured around 4:00 today. BTW, want a hint on how to make the writing on your screen larger? Hold down the Ctrl then the + sign. Ctrl then the - to reduce. Gee, nifty, huh? I have to give credit to my Facebook pal Ellen for this one, though.
How are they finding me? By doing a search in Google. I just now typed in Google "hearts" and "cheats". My Blog comes up second. SECOND! Out of close to THREE MILLION results.
Woo Hoo! I'm number two!
Who woulda thunk that this post would garner me several hundred hits a week? Sometimes, a hundred or more in a day, if one anal retentive person stumbles upon it and feels compelled to read the well over 100 comments, post a comment, and then go back and post two or three more for good measure. I have to admit, it's sort of gratifying to see the hit counter sky rocket, but, when I scroll down and see that most of it was due to folks landing on this posting, I sort of shrug and say, "Whoopie-do". It's not like they are hitting my Blog to read about Lucy or our cruise vacation or whether or not I regret leaving my job or to read my answers to silly inane surveys or to listen to me gripe about turning into a menopausal hormonal maniac old crazy cat lover broad.

You know, stuff I find interesting and worthwhile. Of course, I'm not some obsessed heart player up at all hours of the night beating my head against my computer screen because the game has rooked me yet again and I cannot figure out why; the damn thing must cheat! So, I pose a question to the Oracle of Google to confirm what I already know. Yes, it DOES cheat (or, at least, that seems to be the consensus of the people who post a comment). Ok, I guess I WAS one of those people two years ago, but, I've moved on to other subjects.

Oh, BTW, there does seem to be one other posting that lands several readers daily and that is "Which of Henry VIII Wives Are You Most Like?" I'm not exactly sure how folks are finding this, though since, upon doing a Google search, it doesn't even register. Maybe they are coming from some UK search engine as they mostly appear to be from the UK. Who knows, though? They never post a comment.

Unlike the cantankerous bunch of my "Hearts" post. Boy, they really have a lot to say and will sometimes get into it with one another. It is amusing, I have to admit. And, I HAVE learned a thing or two from their comments (one of my favorites was to rename the players something like Shifty, Shady and Slick; at least you feel better when they cheat you with names like that).
Seriously, if you're interested in the game, you should check out the comments. Well over 1/2 of them are helpful!
Anyway, I'm wondering now if I should refocus this Blog to be about "something". As in something I know something about.

But, then again, I seem to now know quite a bit about blathering.

So, never mind.

Mrs. B

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cruise Vacation Blog Part Three

22 May 2010 Enchantment of the Seas Day Three: At Sea!

Here I am out on our balcony again. It’s partly cloudy and there is rain off in the distance.

We don’t have a lot planned today; we’ll probably hang by the pool most of the day. Tonight, we’re having dinner in the ship’s specialty restaurant, Chops Grille. You have to pay a premium to eat there ($25 per person) BUT everyone on Cruise Critic said it was well worth the extra money. So, why not? We have a late RSVP, though; 9:30 pm!

By the way, a fun (and cheap) activity, I discovered, is to go to the photo gallery and look at all of the dorky pictures of people. Ha ha! Seriously, I almost died when I saw the picture of us on our first night on board. Talk about both of us looking half-crocked; the only thing that made me feel better is that many people looked far worse for the wear than we did. Oh, and the ones of us last night were okay but I blended right into the fake background. Seriously, my dress was almost the exact same color; about all you could see of me was my teeth and my bling-bling. You’d think they could have chosen another fake background! No matter, we hadn’t planned on buying them, anyway.

According to the Cruise Compass, today’s drink of the day is a Bahama Mama. Yesterday’s was a Mango Tango. I wonder if all the drinks are gonna rhyme?


As predicted, we spent the majority of the day in the Solarium. We had to sit at one of the tables for awhile until a few pool chairs opened up. No matter; we played Gin. It rained a bit and got quite humid in there with the roof closed; sort of like a sauna.

Dinner at Chops Grille was FANTASTIC. The food was certainly a cut above the stuff in the main dining room; sort of reminded me of the food on the QMII. I suppose one might wonder why not simply have that caliber of food in My Fair Lady every night but I would imagine it might be a challenge to do so with so many people/meals to prepare. Not that there is anything wrong with the food in MFL. Anyway, what we had was great. Mr. B also ordered a special bottle of Cabernet so, yeah, definitely yum-yum time.

Our waitress told us that the crew signs on for contracts of 7 ½ months and they work seven days a week! At the end of their contract, they get 2 ½ months off before returning to work (if they chose to return, that is). They don’t always get to come back to the same ship; they have to apply for the ones they like. Apparently, Enchantment gets a lot of interest.

We’ll probably join the Crown and Anchor Society (loyalty program) and become RCI fans. It will be interesting to sail on different RCI ships and compare. I’m not so sure, though, that I really want to go on any of the “monster” ships with 6,000 or more passengers. That might be a bit much. It would be nice to take a cruise every two years or so. It all depends on Mark’s schedule and the money situation.

Speaking of money, Mark is trying his hand at Blackjack. So far, he’s down $15. You’d think with his aptitude for numbers and memory, he’d do great. But, he’s not playing single deck, so, that could be a challenge. While he played, I wondered around and played a few games of video poker. I’m actually up right now by a whopping $1.25 or something like that. I’m just not a good gambler as I hate to lose.

Tomorrow we will arrive in San Juan, our first port of the cruise. As I’ve never been there, I’m looking forward to getting off the ship and wandering around a bit. We did not book any sort of excursion or tour since mom and dad told us they had a fun enough time simply doing stuff on their own. Plus, we won’t be there all that long. I suppose if we like it well enough, we could always go back for a longer visit. That is one of the positive aspects about cruising, I believe; the ability to check out a lot of different places with the eye to determining if you’d ever want to return. No danger in booking a week somewhere, discovering you absolutely hate it, and then being stuck there a week (sort of like our trip to Puerto Vallarta two years ago!)

Tonight's towel creature...oink oink oink!

Didn't take any other pictures today! Amazing!

Mrs. B

Pete and Lily's 2nd Birthday

Pets on parade! Seriously, I took a lot of pet pictures yesterday. Here are but a few of our crew.
Mrs. B

Boopie/Athena hanging in her favorite spot; draped over the full length floor mirror!
You'd think Lucy would be looking a lot more thrilled, considering she'd just snagged
Miss November 2011!
Ares and Apollo in the bathroom. Believe me, I thought about turning the water on!
Pete hiding behind the bathroom door. He does NOT like the camera!
Peter Pan Man
Sweet Lily (most of the time, anyway!)
Apollo likes to get his picture taken!
Lil' Pee/Pee Pee/Lily

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Pete and Lily!!!!!

Time flies! Our Maine Coons are now two years old! Here are a few of their baby pictures, taken soon after they were pulled from a storm drain. They were so darn cute! Even back then, Pete had that pissy look on his face, with Lily being distinguishable due to her tan front paw.
I miss them like this! But, the days of our lives must march on for all of us, even kitties!
Mrs. B

Lily and Pete
Lily (top) and Pete

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lucy's Race for the Calendar

After almost three days of voting, Lucy is definitely one of the top twelve contenders. In fact, last I checked, she was in the lead with 56 votes (see snippet, below) BUT a few of the other very adorable doggies are gaining on her.

If you know anyone on Facebook, have them go vote for Lucy by going to Amber Dawn Photography on Facebook (link is in the header of my Blog) and clicking "Like" on Amber's top page.

After, click on the dog calender contestants. Lucy's picture in on page four (it is this exact picture). Open it up, scroll down and click the word "Like" underneath and to the right of her name. You'll see "Like" turn to "Unlike", which means you have successfully voted for Lucy.

Thank you for any assistance! Our girls DESERVES to be a Calendar Girl after everything she has been through!

Mrs. B

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cruise Vacation Blog Part Two

21 May 2010 – Enchantment of the Seas Day Two: At Sea!

It is around 8:00 am (not exactly sure since there are no clocks in the stateroom and we have our cell phones locked up in the safe). We are waiting for room service to arrive. We are not exactly sure when it’ll arrive since there was not a place to check-off a desired delivery time. Mr. B is fairly certain he wrote down 9:30 am on the card before hanging it outside our door late last night, BUT, it was a very long day yesterday with plenty of vacation medication along the way, so, well, I suppose we’ll know when it shows up!

In the meantime, we are certainly enjoying sitting out on our balcony and watching the beautiful ocean float by below us. It’s a lovely day as well; quite warm already, which bodes well for our plan to hang out by the pool later on.

Our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle is at 11:30 am in a special section of the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 11. We’ll get the chance to meet some of the folks I’ve been chatting with on-line since February. Later on this afternoon at 4:00 pm, we’ll head to the Library on Deck 7 to hook up with (probably many of the same people) that plan on going on a tour together in Samana (Dominican Republic) on Tuesday.

It’s the first of two formal nights tonight, as well as a Captain’s Reception prior to dinner.

As with being on the QMII, there is PLENTY to do on board, if we want to, according to our daily Cruise Compass.

Top page of one of the Cruise Compasses. We got one every day.

BTW, our stateroom attendant is Esther. So far, she’s already been quite responsive to the “love notes” I’ve left her stuck to the mirror (someone on Cruise Critic suggested this was the best and easiest way to leave your stateroom attendant a message that they’d definitely not miss!)


A few notes before going to the Captain’s Reception in the Spotlight Lounge on Deck 6.

Room service was delivered to our stateroom around 8:30 am (good thing we got our cookies out of bed when we did). It wasn't too bad, in fact, it was quite decent (far better than the room service we had on the QMII). We need to get a menu for the other food they offer via room service, just in case we ever want to order snacks, or, stay in the stateroom for lunch or dinner.

After eating, I felt sort of queasy; I’m not sure if it was motion sickness or the fact I’m not used to eating “real” bacon and sausage for breakfast. I took a motion sickness pill which basically brought on an immediate wave of sleepiness. So, I actually ended up going back to bed until about 10:30 am.

When I got up and we got ourselves dressed, we met the Cruise Critic folks at the Meet & Mingle. Turns out they were not just those I’d been yakking with on Cruise Critic; a few others, as well. There was food (ugh) and a non-alcoholic punch (this was ok but a bit sweet). There were some RCI staff there handing out a few door prizes. Guess what? Yours truly, who never ever wins anything, walked away with a pretty nifty beach bag. It is bright yellow and HUGE! It also opens up to serve double duty as a beach mat. After chatting a bit at the M&M (BTW, it was sort of interesting to walk into a room full of people we’ve never met and be recognized and called by moniker (Mrs. B! Her DH the CPA!) , we went to Deck 6 to check out our Welcome Aboard picture. Since it didn’t stink (and I didn’t look too awful) we bought it. I doubt we’ll buy any more, though, unless one just turns out MARVELOUS.

We got some lunch from the Windjammer Café and stumbled around looking for a place to sit down (literally because it was a) really, really crowded in there and b) because it was so crowded, we had to go outside to the pool area and it was extremely windy). After eating (at one of the small bars), we tried to sit out in the main pool area but it just got a bit too uncomfortable (I HATE wind), so, we ended up in what will likely become one of our favorite places on board, the Solarium. There are several nice aspects to the Solarium: a) no kids under 16 allowed b) it has a retractable roof c) it’s buffeted from the wind and c) the waiters hang around in there, too. We stayed out there several hours reading an indulging in drinks (already I wonder what our tab at the end of the cruise is going to be like).

Mrs. B hanging in the Solarium!

We met the others going on the tour in Samana at 4:00 pm. Everyone is really nice; I think we’ll have a great time with them. The only issue is someone will have to wait in line to get tender tickets Tuesday morning so we can all go out on the same tender (tender = lifeboat that serves as a ferry from where the ship will be tendered to the pier; Samana is the only port of call where the ship will not be actually docked). There were a few people in the group who are Diamond Members (“elite” status of Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society); they think they might be able to get the tickets early from their Concierge Lounge.

After leaving there, we hit the Schooner Bar on Deck 6 for a drink to take back to our room to enjoy while smoking a cigar on our balcony and playing some cards and reading before having to get ready for dinner. There were a bunch of ladies sitting in the bar having a hoot and holler time. I was undecided about what to order and noticed one of the ladies had a green colored frozen drink. I asked her what it was and she almost shrieked at me, “You’ve GOT to try it! It’s so damn good! It’s a frozen Mojito!” She’d obviously tried one or two herself, a good enough endorsement for me so I ordered one and thus began my love affair with RCI’s frozen Mojitos!

Mr. B on our balcony enjoying a cigar

Later yet!

The reception was quite nice. We learned a bit about the ship, the Captain, and his primary officers. The majority of them (as with the rest of the crew) are from a myriad of countries. The Captain is from Croatia. I think his first officer is from either England or Scotland. There is an officer from South Africa, too. Of course, the Human Resources person if from the U.S. What a job this must be!

It was fun looking at all of the evening gowns the majority of the women at the reception had on (not so in the dining room, we were to discover, where it seems the dress code is not strictly enforced, given how many folks we saw wearing jeans and shorts (on FORMAL night, no less)). I wore my bronze dress; I bought it 10 years ago in Colorado Springs to attend an opera. I was sure happy it still fit!

We had our picture taken both prior to entering the reception and then again at dinner. Like I said, we’re not going to buy any (likely), especially since we had Edmond take a picture of us at our table with our camera and it turned out really good.

At dinner on the first formal night at Table 86!

After dinner we went to the Schooner Bar to have a night cap and listen to the pianist. But, alas, I was tired, so, we headed back to #8562 relatively “early” and here I am writing this! We found our first towel creature of the cruise waiting for us as well!

First towel creature. A duck (we think!)

Night Night!

Mrs. B

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lucy's SPCA Calendar Entry

A friend passed along the information that a photographer in Richmond is having a contest via Facebook to select 12 dogs for a 2011 SPCA calendar. The only provision for entry is the dog must have come from an animal shelter.

Since our Goosie is so very photogenic, I decided, "Why not?" These are the pictures I submitted. My guess is the lady will pick one to post on her Facebook site. The deal is, people have to go to her site and vote for their favorite pooch. So, if you are on Facebook, please check out her site and vote for our Lucy (once her picture is up there, of course): http://www.facebook.com/index.php?#!/pages/Richmond-VA/Amber-Dawn-Photography/199772075844?ref=mf&ajaxpipe=1&__a=13

Although she didn't ask for any sort of essay with the pictures, I wrote one, anyway. Couldn't hurt.

Here it is!

I am submitting a few pictures of our shelter dog, Lucy, for your consideration for the SPCA 2011 Shelter Dog Calendar. What a fantastic idea! Regardless of whether or not Lucy is selected, I will look forward to looking at all of the other pictures of everyone else’s special friends.

I’ve always been a cat person (and still am) and before Lucy arrived, had never owned a dog or knew anything about how to live with them. However, a few years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to adopt a dog; him from the perspective that he missed having a dog (he’d given up custody of his dogs to his ex wife for his daughter’s benefit) and me because I thought having a dog again would be good for him. In short, in my thinking, the new dog would be “his” dog and I’d tend to my cat.

Of course, it didn’t turn out that way at all! Although my husband DID pick Lucy out (I just could not bring myself to go into the shelter and see all of those dogs who needed homes knowing we could only take one), she has, in essence, become “my” dog.

So, the story goes, we got Lucy from Durham NC’s Animal Protective Services about 3 ½ years ago. After my husband vetted the candidates, I went into a tiny room in the shelter to meet her for the first time. She was extremely enthusiastic and energetic, as befitting her Labrador background (she is obviously predominately Lab with likely some Hound, perhaps Fox Hound, thrown in for good measure). She climbed all over me, bounded about the room to look out the window and came back over to slobber on me for good measure. The handler who’d brought her into the room told us she was very sweet, hardly barked and loved hot dogs. As we were filling out the adoption paperwork, we were told she’d been picked up roaming free a week or so after Thanksgiving; no collar, no microchip and no one ever came to claim her. And, whoever they had been, had her spayed and had a small tattoo of a smiley face put on her belly near her spay. I still wonder to this day who in the world could have given this dog up! But, no matter for Lucy, same came home with us January 2nd 2007. Our vet figured she was roughly 18 months old at the time so that would make her about five today.

Admittedly, the first few months with Lucy were a bit rough for several reasons. One, she was extremely insecure and had separation anxiety, which, given the fact she’d likely been dumped, we could understand. Although she was house trained, there were a few accidents. She bolted out of the house a few times and went for a wild trot through the nearby muddy new house construction sites, with me running behind her (I finally learned you are not supposed to chase a dog as they think you are playing with them!) Plus, at the time, we had an elderly cat that, unfortunately, never did come around to Lucy’s charms. Yes, I’d never had a dog before so I was learning a lot of new things myself.

I took Lucy to several training classes so we’d learn how to walk well together and also to work on the separation anxiety. I’ll never forget that trainer, Jane, telling me one day after I called her for some advice, “Don’t give up on her. I promise you, in six months, she’ll be a completely different dog”.

Don’t give up on her. That just stuck in my head and, over the course of the years whenever we’ve had a behavior issue with Lucy, that mantra jumped back in to my head. Don’t give up on her.

Lucy and I also went to a general obedience class (much of this was training me just as much, if not more than Lucy!) and, over the course of the years, she’s had a few other training sessions as needs have arisen. Although it is pretty apparent that there are a few things Lucy does not like (other dogs if on leash, being in a crate or confined to a small room which includes the brand new dog house I bought her) which we attribute to “whatever happened to her “BU” (before us), she is otherwise a loving and perfectly delightful dog (even though she’s also stubborn and sometimes a bit “blonde”!)

I take her with me everywhere I go, weather permitting. In the spring, we drive down to Florida together for three weeks to visit and stay with various relatives. Lucy is always welcomed, and, her visits are even anticipated by my Father, who, before Lucy, pretty much wanted absolutely nothing to do with dogs.

She is perfectly delightful with our small nieces and nephews; some of the first words my nephew said (that I could understand, anyway) was “Lucy” and Lucy’s house”. She also does well with our five cats (the one that couldn’t stand her has since gone to The Rainbow Bridge) and will even cuddle with a few of them (if they let her). Sometimes, I think Lucy thinks she’s a cat.

Lucy has had a few significant heath issues. A year after we got her, we discovered she had the beginnings of Heartworm. Luckily, the treatment worked (although fairly ghastly; arsenic injections, who would have thought it?) and we all survived the six to eight weeks in which we had to keep her quiet. Imagine that!

This past April, she developed a very quickly growing Mast Cell Tumor on her left hind leg. The tumor plus large margins were removed. Thankfully, the margins came back clean and we’re keeping our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that the cancer did not metastasize. Our vet is very confident he got it all, but, obviously, you never know.

Her recovery from this was rough on everyone, but, in particular, her. The poor thing had to wear a bucket (e-collar) on her head for about six weeks. There was a hideous open wound on her leg which must have hurt like heck. She had drains, stitches, rubber tubing, stables in her leg and was on something like 15 pills a day. She’s come through it, though; and I can happily report that she is back to running around and playing, chasing her ball, catching frogs in the backyard, and joyfully jumping around when people she loves come to see her (notably my step daughter and her “Grammy”).

A friend of mine sent me the information regarding your calendar. I thought, given everything we’ve recently been through with Lucy, it was perfect timing. I am sending a few pictures for your consideration. My favorites are her “soulful ones” but I did also want to send one that showed her incredibly infectious smile.

In closing, I have to add this. Not too long after we got Lucy, I purchased a few tee shirts with slogans about shelter dogs emblazoned on the fronts. My favorite reads:

“Who rescued whom? Proud owner of a shelter dog”.

This sums up my relationship with and feelings for my , Lucy. I didn’t, and won’t give up on her. Ever.

Thank you for your consideration!

Mrs. B