It’s been a minute . . . or two . . . since I’ve seen you. When last we visited, the new year had just begun and I shared those silly resolutions that my human mommy had for me. No worries; that foolishness didn’t last through the first week of 2018. So what in the world have I been doing for the past couple of months?
Baby New Year played a cruel trick on us in early January with an unusually cold blast of Arctic air. Our lows dipped into the 20s for several nights in a row and the highs didn’t get above freezing. I know that doesn’t sound too impressive to my friends in colder climates, but for a couple of southern Golden girls living in New Orleans, Louisiana, it was pretty chilly. We had ice on the sidewalks and broken water pipes throughout the city. On the positive side, Tallulah and I were cordially invited by the humans to join them in their bed. Turns out Golden Retrievers can be super heat generators and quite in demand during severe cold snaps.
Fortunately, that cold snap didn’t last very long and by late January Tallulah and I were out on the town. We joined the humans for a day in the French Quarter in honor of our city’s 300th birthday. Here in New Orleans we love a party, so we’ll be celebrating throughout the year.
By early February, the humans were deep into Mardi Gras madness. We didn’t see them much. It seems like every time Tallulah and I woke up from a nap, they were headed out the door to another parade. And when we did see them, we hardly recognized them. It was just a blur of wigs, sequins, and beads.
As soon as the last piece of king cake was consumed and all the Mardi Gras decorations were safely stored, the humans packed their bags and flew south . . . all the way to Hotel Punta Islita in Costa Rica. They awoke to this magnificent view every day, spent hours on the beach, kayaked to the ocean, learned about macaw rescue and howler monkey habits, and generally fell in love with the country and its people. Mommy said the only thing that could possibly have made their trip better would have been a couple of Golden Retrievers. I’m assuming she meant Tallulah and me.
The humans returned from their getaway just in time to join me at the my Visiting Pet Program annual meeting and picnic. My fellow volunteers and I devote the year to bringing love and leaving smiles at nursing facilities, hospitals, summer camps, universities, and conventions. Tara’s Toast to Volunteers gives us an opportunity to celebrate the people and pets that make the program such a success. This year, we got to ham it up in a photo booth and visit with a pet psychic. She told my humans that I’ve lived many lives, which has helped to make me very wise. I think she nailed it.
So now you know what I’ve been doing. I’ve missed you, and I’m eager to catch up. What have you been doing?
Did you miss me? I sure missed you. First let me say thank you to everyone who joined me for the October Daily Photo Challenge, and thank you for all of your sweet comments. My human mommy/blogging assistant and I got a bit behind with our replies, but we read and enjoyed each and every single message you shared. After the challenges of daily posts in October, we took a little break in November. And what better place to recharge your blogging batteries than a beautiful beach.
Tallulah and I supervised the humans as they loaded the chariot and we all set out for Dauphin Island, Alabama. It’s slightly more than a two-hour drive from New Orleans, but when we arrived we felt as if we were a world away.
By the time we unloaded the chariot and settled into our home-away-from-home, Mother Nature was welcoming us with a breathtaking sunset.
I gazed out at the Gulf of Mexico and wondered what adventures the next day would bring . . .
. . . and then Tallulah and I crashed.
We were up with the sun the next morning.
Tallulah had her eye on the water . . .
. . . and before long her toes were in the sand. It was nearly impossible to keep Tallulah on dry land. She hopped over and through the waves, proved to us that she really can swim, ran along the beach, and then did it all over again and again.
As for me, I did my best Baywatch lifeguard impersonation and warned Tallulah and my human daddy to stay near the shore. Mommy says I was slightly obnoxious. I prefer to think of myself as a concerned and loving older sister.
Our second sunrise on Dauphin Island hinted at rougher weather to come. The island is no stranger to meteorological challenges. Just weeks before our getaway, Hurricane Nate made a little visit.
The storm’s winds and tidal surge covered the main road with about six feet of sand. The sand has since been plowed to the roadside and will eventually be sifted and returned to the beach, but for now it makes the road feel a bit like a tunnel.
The slightly rougher surf of our second beach day did little to deter Tallulah’s inner mermaid . . .
. . . but the cooler temperatures and overcast skies drove our humans to the beach house’s deck, where I caught up on some much-needed sleep after a busy October and Tallulah kept an eye to the sky as she tracked every single pelican and seagull that flew overhead. The poor girl might be slightly confused about exactly what it means to be a bird dog.
We watched the sun set on our last full Dauphin Island day with a determination to return as soon as possible. The little barrier island off the coast of Alabama was the perfect place to get away from it all and recharge before a busy holiday season . . . and it was the perfect springboard to bet back to blogging.
Tallulah and I would like to welcome you to our FAVORITE PLACE. There are a lot of places we love visiting, but our absolute favorite place to be is right at our very own gate. From this point, we can observe all of our neighborhood’s activities . . . and we have a pretty active neighborhood. Morning and afternoon we watch the school buses that bring eager little students to our neighborhood school, and we get some special love from the children who walk to and from the school. We observe the ‘hood cats out on their rounds to rid the area of various vermin. Mommy is especially appreciative of those cats. We greet humans and dogs on their daily walks. Sometimes Tallulah is a bit too “eager” with her greetings, but we’re working on that. We even make aerial observations from our gate. We keep an eye on the squirrels that visit the palm tree just beyond our gate . . . and, unfortunately, just beyond our reach. And we gaze at the fighter jets from the air base just across the Mississippi River as they practice maneuvers that we hope they never need to use. But mostly Tallulah and I rest our heads on that little bar at the base of our gate. And we may or may not spend most of our time dozing. 😉
Where is your favorite place, and what do you enjoy doing when you’re there?
Last night, Tallulah and I accompanied our humans on a little stroll to see Ghost Manor. Let me take just a moment to state the obvious: My family really, really needs to step up its SELFIE game. Can you believe that we took literally dozens of selfies and this is the best we have to offer? This selfie is, as the kids would say, definitely not on fleek. But it got just a little embarrassing to continue the attempts as the crowds milled about, so this is what you get. Selfie failure aside, Ghost Manor at night was even better than I’d imagined when we visited a couple of weeks ago in the daytime. (Click here to refresh your memory.) The skeleton quartet serenaded us from the porch. A beautiful lady danced in an upstairs room . . . before she was consumed by flames. And all the while giant eyeballs peered down on us from above. Creepy!
OK, friends, we really need your help. What are your best secrets to capturing the perfect selfie?
A couple of weeks ago, I had fun at my sister’s expense when the October Photo Challenge theme was MAKEUP. Well today’s challenge is NO MAKEUP, so I give you my little sister, Tallulah Bee, in all of her natural glory. It’s hard for a big sister to say this, but I think Tallulah is a very pretty girl. She’s sweet, too. But so far I have the slight edge when it comes to obedience. 🙂
I cannot wait to show you my weather tomorrow. Autumn finally made an appearance in New Orleans!
What’s better than going to see a HORROR FILM? Going to see a horror film at a vintage single-screen movie theatre with an actual organ. Later this month my neighborhood movie house the Prytania Theatre, which is 103 years old, is showing two cult classics . . . at midnight, no less: the original 1978 Halloween, the story of Michael Myers who murders his sister on Halloween night in 1963 and then 15 years later escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown to kill again (eeks!) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will include a live shadow cast and the option to buy a prop kit with your ticket, just incase you’ve misplaced all your props from when you used to see Brad and Janet and Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Rocky every weekend 40-or-so years ago. From what I understand, dogs aren’t allowed at the Prytania. That’s fine with me. Midnight is waaaaay past my bedtime.
Do you have a favorite horror film or a favorite place to go the movies?
In many ways, my human mommy/blogging assistant and I are a team. We do our best teamwork when we’re bringing love and leaving smiles for the Visiting Pet Program. We started the process of becoming a pet therapy team about two years ago. Because most of our work would be done in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our initial evaluation simulated what we would experience during our visits: a raucous round of bingo, walkers and wheelchairs navigating hallways, slightly-less-than-gentle petting, unexpected loud noises. My manners were perfect, I handled each step of the evaluation beautifully, and we moved on to our probationary visits. During three months of probationary visits, we were paired with human buddies (senior members of the Visiting Pet Program) who watched as we met with the residents at several different nursing homes. And then in December 2015, my human mommy and I became a full-fledged pet therapy team for the Visiting Pet Program.
Mommy and I do our regular monthly visits at a place called Colonial Oaks Living Center. We spend about an hour going from room to room to see our friends. They love telling us about all the dogs they’ve had through the years. I love being petted and told how pretty and sweet I am. It can be kind of exhausting, so sometimes I lie down and take a quick nap. No one seems to mind. In fact, I think my little naps are somehow comforting to my friends.
We also do special visits. Mommy and I have been to a summer camp at the Lighthouse for the Blind. I was a big hit there. All the campers said I was super soft. A couple of months ago we visited Camp Tiger, a free camp for children who are physically and/or mentally challenged organized by the LSU Health Sciences Center and staffed by medical school students. Last fall, we attended the blessing of the animals at Christ Church Cathedral.
Tallulah and my human daddy joined us at that visit . . . unofficially, of course. The humans thought Tallulah could use a little blessing. Turns out an exorcism might have been more appropriate at that point in her life. My little sister has calmed down a lot since then, and one day I think she’ll make an excellent therapy dog . . . but not yet.
Back to the real team. Our favorite visits are the ones that we do with university students before they take big tests. We’ve helped students at Loyola University relax before finals and calmed the nerves of physical therapy students in the LSU School of Allied Health Professions. Most of our university visits have been with the students at Tulane University School of Medicine.
They have two really important tests each year. There’s a lot of pressure, and they can get pretty stressed out. You should have seen this group when they walked into the room where we were meeting: eyes focused on the ground, shoulders hunched, fists clenched. Within five minutes we were all on the ground. They were petting and hugging me, laughing, sharing photos of their dogs back home, and snapping selfies with yours truly. It felt good to bring a little love their way, and I definitely left some super big smiles. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a great time. And I hope you remember to bring love and leave smiles. Cheers!