Breathe In, Breathe Out

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Three days with no phone, no Internet and no television.  Ahhh felt great…and although most times I love our advanced ways of life, I sure do appreciate rustic semi-primitive life.

My brother, Paul, his wife, Kim and I have just returned from Long Lake in the southern central part of Michigan. Rolling hills, country side, small towns, Amish villages and many lakes filled with summer vacation homes and boats. People from the cities flock here on the weekends looking for their escape from reality. Kim’s family has been coming to their cottage for many years; her grandfather having built the house in the 1940’s and most of her life is filled with wonderful memories that include times on this lake.

And we’ve created new memories the past few days.  Boating, swimming in the lake, home-cooked meals, campfires, sunning on the dock and sunset cruises. My dogs, Mama Bear and Bandit enjoyed hikes in the woods and their first boat rides on the pontoon boat.  We all shared childhood memories and dreams of living like this all the time.  Why can’t it always feel this good…this relaxing?  Really, why can’t it?  Although I love living in New Orleans, the thoughts of traffic, construction and busy neighborhoods really can squeeze the life out of you sometimes…making it difficult to relax.  Being at that lake was like it’s own form of meditation for me and I’m sure for Paul and Kim too.  Actually I know it has, because it brings them home to figure out what obsticles lie in their way trying to incorporate more of that oasis of a lake in their regular life.  And how can I when I get back to New Orleans?  More walks in the parks, strolling the quiet areas of the French Quarter, hiking the swamps and woods…I don’t know.  Breathe in, breathe out…

But I will have some great memories left for me on this trip…a refreshed feeling.  There is no sense of urgency right now.

My favorite part to this song: “I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain…going where the weather suits my clothes.”

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Two pups on a journey

Bandit and Mama Bear

Last years vacation

My dogs, Mama Bear and Bandit, love a trip.  Every walk is an adventure for them already.  So when we leave out tonight on our long car ride to Michigan, they will think of it as an exploration…a journey…a mission.  I have taken the same route for the past few years with them.  Do they remember the smells at the stops along the way?  Is it a memory for them or is each trip unique…new smells, new discoveries.

These two beautiful dogs of mine have been on an adventure their whole lives.  They were both rescued by Animal Rescue New Orleans separately after Hurricane Katrina.  Bandit was running around Harahan…the Hound of Harahan they called him.  He was first seen as pup, I believe, with his mom and siblings and was separated from the group and then on his own.  Apparently as a feral dog, although fearing humans, he was fed quite well by restaurants, bars and an older woman, Miss Sue, who left him ground beef and rice.  Mama Bear however had a tough little life, also a feral dog she wandered the streets battered and bruised with her 2 puppies and was eventually found by a group of boys from out-of-town (many people came to rescue and rebuild after Katrina) under a house with her pups scared to death.  ARNO found a home for Mama Bear’s puppies together at a home out-of-state.  This is where Mama Bear and Bandit met….two lonely, frightened feral dogs, rescued by humans and not knowing what all this meant.

Good things happened though…Bandit and Mama Bear became buddies…friends…or I call them soul mates.  If you never have believed in soul mates, the moment you spent time with them you would believe.  These two were ARNO’s first feral rescues and the love they showed these dogs is almost impossible to describe.  They domesticated them and cared for them like they were their own children and no home would be good enough for either of them.  Until I came along.  Three years ago I lost my dog, Molly.  I was devastated, but to know and love Molly, would be to know you could pass on love to another animal…she made it easy, the angel she was.  About a month later I went to ARNO just to see.  I walked a few dogs and played with them then they brought out Bandit to me.  One ear up and one ear down…he was quiet, kind of sad and extremely sweet…and he came home with me.  We became buddies.  He took well to my cats (another story of course). And then we moved.  A bigger house with a yard in New Orleans.  I had wanted a yard again for Molly, but now Bandit would get that yard and I was so excited…he needed this!  He loved the house, found a chair to lay in and he was happy.

But, he was sad when I left for work…he cried.  My neighbor told me he cried all day.  I felt so bad for him, but what could I do?  Well, a few weeks before Christmas I was on Facebook and happen to see a little letter about Mama Bear…she was still at the shelter and needed her forever home and then it said she was so sad and lonely because she missed her friend Bandit.  I cried…sobbed.  She can’t be alone…that’s why Bandit was crying…he missed her too.  I replied to the email on the post and asked if I could adopt Mama Bear.  Now I had everyone at ARNO crying…this was HUGE!  This was their dream and a Christmas gift.  So I took Bandit the next day to the shelter to get his girl.  Wow…happiness!  Everyone was there to see these soul mates ride off in the sunset together.

They are inseparable!  They are so happy together and they make me happy too.  There is nothing sweeter than to be on one of our many walks and see Mama Bear reach over and give her Bandit a kiss.  It always makes me smile.  They really love each other.

That is why our trips, our journeys are so special…every walk is special.  And when we go to Michigan, people say “You are driving all that way by yourself?”…No, I have Bandit and Mama Bear with me…we are off on our big adventure.