Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Clean Coast

Believe it or not, this beach doesn't have more trash on it than thousands of other beaches around the world. Everything that is thrown overboard a boat or thrown directly into the ocean gets washed up on a beach. This disgusts me and makes me not want to visit the beach. Luckily, there are a group of great people in Savannah, GA working to ensure that beaches in their area remain trash free.
Clean Coast is a Savannah based, non-profit, volunteer organization that holds monthly beach and marsh cleanups on the Georgia Coast. Mom got to meet some the volunteers when they took her, other turtle volunteers, and their gear over to Wassaw Island. They have a 24ft skiff that was a pleasure to ride in and while Mom sat back and enjoyed the ride, the Clean Coast volunteers told her their story.

Not many people know that the Georgia coast is one of the last extensive undeveloped shorelines in the U.S. This unfortunately has not spared it from having all sorts of marine debris wash upon it shores continuously. This debris threatens wildlife, in addition to plant life. Plus, debris on the beach is harmful to humans who walk along the beach. The site of a debris filled beach makes Mom sad because she knows that people around the world are constantly throwing trash into the oceans. This type of behavior must stop if we are to save the animals and plants that call the beach home.

Clean Coast estimates they pick up an average of 800 - 1,000 lbs of trash per cleanup. Wow -that's a lot of trash! They do at least one cleanup per month and they are heading to Wassaw Island on September 19 for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Loggerhead hatchlings may still be emerging at this time, but the hatchlings typically emerge after dark when the cleanup crew will be long gone with their haul of trash. The beach will then be clean for the little hatchlings to make their way to the ocean.

Last year the Clean Coast crew spent September 22 on Skidaway Island, the island that Mom leaves from to get to Wassaw. The crew was scheduled to cleanup Wassaw but the tides were not favorable, so they worked their magic on an area of Skidaway called Priest Landing and hauled away 1,200 pounds of trash from 1/2 mile of shoreline. This is just a partial list of what they collected:

95 cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons

35 plastic bags

143 plastic beverage bottles & 110 glass beverage bottles

81 beverage cans

2 shotgun shells

14 articles of clothing/shoes

18 buoys/floats

12 oil/lube bottles

112 pieces of styrofoam

1 lip gloss

All of this and more on just 1/2 mile of shoreline. Yikes! Wassaw is much bigger and probably contains a lot more trash as seen by Mom every year she has been going there. Everything from a pilot house from a boat (it has been there since Mom started going to Wassaw in 2002), to toilets, to buckets, many balloons, and even a refrigerator. The refrigerator is gone, but new stuff washes ashore each high tide. Some of the stuff washed back out, but a lot of it remains.

Littering is an inexcusable action. Trash cans exist for a reason, so if you see someone littering, please remind them that trash belongs in a trash can. If no trash can is available, please ask them to hold on to their trash until they find a trash can or take their trash yourself and dispose of it later. Littering is Mom's biggest pet peeves and it angers her that people still do it. Trash that is disposed of improperly is not simply out of sight, out of mind. It all ends up somewhere and that somewhere may be in your own backyard. It may even affect the food you eat because lots of marine animals mistakenly ingest ocean floating debris.

If you are in the Savannah area and would like to participate in a beach cleanup with Clean Coast, please check out their schedule at www.cleancoast.org. If you are not in the Savannah area, but you live near a beach or river, please find a cleanup group to help. Trash is our problem, but we are the solution. We can and will clean up for the greater good. We will succeed in ending the trash brigade. And we will make a cleaner future for all to enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mom's Back!

Mom finally got home yesterday afternoon. She had a great time despite getting bitten by almost every insect on the island. The worst thing that bit her wasn't even an insect and she hadn't been on the island for more than a few hours when the inside of her left ankle starting itching. It turns out that she got bit by chiggers - yuk!

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, chiggers first show up as annoying red bumps. Mom was actually sitting inside the biologist's cabin when the bumps first appeared. She started scratching the bumps and they grew. Soon hard red welts appeared and she couldn't stop scratching them.

This scary looking creature is not even a bug or any other type of insect. Chiggers are the larval form of a mite, the Trombiculidae. Whatever it is, it looks scary. Mites are arachnids, like spiders, and are closely related to the one thing that Mom fears most - ticks. The strangest thing about chiggers is that they only bite us in their childhood and when they are adults they become vegetarians. Go figure!

These little guys are teeny tiny - less thatn 1/150th of an inch in diameter. This makes them almost invisible to the naked eye which is why Mom never saw them. She told me that she was looking for music on her ipod when the chigger attach happened. Chiggers usually don't work alone and they like to get together near an elastic waistband, wrist watch, or sandal strap in Mom's case. Their piercing mouth parts are short and delicate, which means they can only penetrate thin skin or when the skin wrinkles and folds.

So if their bite is so small, why all the itching? This grosses me out, so skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach, have just eaten, or are pregnant. This information is from the Missouri Department of Conservation:

"The reason the bite itches so intensely and for such a long time is because the chigger injects saliva into its victim after attaching to the skin. This saliva contains a powerful digestive enzyme that literally dissolves the skin cells it contacts. It is this liquefied tissue, never blood, that the chigger ingests and uses for food.

A chigger usually goes unnoticed for one to three hours after it starts feeding. During this period the chigger quietly injects its digestive saliva. After a few hours your skin reacts by hardening the cells on all sides of the saliva path, eventually forming a hard tube-like structure called a stylostome.
The stylostome walls off the corrosive saliva, but it also functions like a feeding tube for the hungry chigger. The chigger sits with its mouthparts attached to the stylostome, and like a person drinking a milk shake through a straw, it sucks up your liquefied tissue. Left undisturbed, the chigger continues alternately injecting saliva into the bite and sucking up liquid tissue.

It is the stylostome that irritates and inflames the surrounding tissue and causes the characteristic red welt and intense itch. The longer the chigger feeds, the deeper the stylostome grows, and the larger the welt will eventually become. The idea that the welt swells and eventually engulfs the feeding chiggers is also a myth. Many people have seen a small red dot inside a welt (usually under a water blister), but this is the stylostome tube and not a chigger body.

The time required for a chigger to complete its meal varies with the location of the bite, the host and the species. If undisturbed, chiggers commonly take three or four days, and sometimes longer, to eat their dinner. This is not surprising when you consider that this is the first and last meal of the young chigger's life."

This is one more reason that I never want to go to Wassaw Island. I know the chiggers would seek me out and dine on me for days. I would cry like a baby and probably pass out, thus ruining Mom's week of turtling. Nope, I am staying right here when I belong - chigger free and loving it.

Mom's ankle looks a lot better than it did last Monday when it was fully red and welted. She told me that it looked like a really nasty rash with red dots in the middle. Nice description, huh?

In addition to the chigger feeding fest, Mom has mosquito bites from chest to ankle. She even has some where her skin wasn't exposed leaving her to surmise that they bit right through her clothes. She sprayed insect repellent all over her body and at times she used up to three different kinds at once. She even tried the other volunteer's repellent but nothing worked. Mom thinks that: a) the mosquitos love Yankee blood or b) she has some sort of natural insect repellent deficiency. Either way, she looks like she has chicken pox. I am keeping my distance because you just never know.

Mom also has bruises everywhere. She can only account for one - as she was getting off the beach vehicle on Thursday night she hit her leg on a bench. Where did the other bruises come from? Turtles? Alligators? Mom did see an alligator on the beach but she swears it didn't attack her. Hmmmm. Maybe she just bruises easy.

Overall, Mom had a great time turtling. The weather was hot (just like Mom likes it) and she had fun with the crew. Unfortunately she didn't see any snakes, despite the thousands of frogs and toads that covered the island. Even after it rained one day no snakes appeared. Yes - this really upset her. There was a crazy lightning storm last Monday and although Mom did not take any pictures of it, Kris did, so hopefully she will send them to me to post.

I'm glad Mom's back because I really missed her. Dad was gone one day while Mom was gone so I had to go hang out with the poodles down the street. Mom and Dad had better stay home with me for the rest of the year or I am going to track down some chiggers to put in their clothes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Turtle Time!

I love this picture of Mom! This was taken in 2003, Mom's second year turtling on Wassaw Island and her first year with the mama turtles. This mama is heading back to the ocean after laying her precious eggs on the beach. Luckily for Mom, this mama came up at dawn which is why Mom got her picture taken with the mama. Doesn't Mom look happy?

Mom is leaving early tomorrow morning to fly down to Savannah to spead another week turtling on Wassaw Island. She looks forward to going down there so much that she talks about it all year long with her fellow turtler Carole. Carole and Mom e-mail each other almost every day as they make plans for the time on the island. Silly turtlers!

Most people have never heard of Wassaw Island and since I know all about it from Mom, I'm going to give you a brief history of it. Mom flys into Savannah, GA because Wassaw Island is right of the coast of Savannah. Wassaw is just south of Tybee Island which most people have heard of. Wassaw, Tybee, Cumberland and many others are part of Georgia's coastal barrier islands. Cumberland Island may sound familiar to you because that is where John Kennedy Jr. was married.

Wassaw is a very young island, having formed about 400 a.d. Fast forward to the 1800's according to the earliest recorded history Anthony Odingsell, a black planter, owned the island along with 11 slaves and Little Wassaw Island. In an attempt to escape a cholera epidemic in 1846, 300 slaves were brought to the island where they died and were buried. No one knows where on the island they were buried and there are many stories about the supposed slave graveyard. This story along with many others add to the mystery of the island. There are so many ghost stories to tell while waiting on the beach for mamas and one of Mom's favorites is Red Eye. Well, I shouldn't say it's her favorite because she is still a little scared of Red Eye and she claims that she sees his ghost on the beach every year.

During the Civil War, the island was successively occupied by Confederate and Union troops and in 1866, a weathly New England businessman, George Parson, purchased the island as a holiday retreat for his family. He build a home and 20 miles of interior roads on the island. The Spanish American War also figured into the history of the island and there is still a fort from that war on the north end of the island. Mom says that the fort looks really creepy at night.

Fast forward to the 1960's when neighboring Skidaway Island was being developed. The Parsons family descendants still owned Wassaw and they became concerned about the future of the island. They wanted to protect and preserve it for generations to come, so in 1969 The Nature Conservancy of Georgia purchased the island for $1 million. The Parsons family retained 180 acres in the center of the island for their personal use and you can see their portion on the map. This is where Mom stays because there isn't anywhere else on the island to stay. Mom and the other volunteers sleep in what used to be the laundry house. The biologists stay in the chauffeurs cabin. There are several family houses on the property and four full time caretakers ensure that the homes and their guests are well taken care of.

The Nature Conservancy sold the island for $1 to the Federal government, which incorporated it into the Savannah Coastal Refuges system on October 20, 1969 when it became a National Wildlife Refuge. Today, it is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which maintains a dock and small headquarters on Wassaw Creek on the southwestern side of the island. This is the dock that Mom uses to get to the island.

Wassaw's amazing 10,053-acre refuge includes beaches with rolling dunes, martime forest, and vast salt marshes. As you can see on the map, salt marsh and tidal creeks separate the refuge from the mainland and Skidaway Island to the west. The turtlers leave from a dock on Skidaway Island for an exciting 1/2 hour boat ride through the marshes to Wassaw. They see lots of egrets and dolphins from the boat and they drink up the wilderness that is all around them as they prepare for island life.

There are 20 miles of dirt roads on the island and seven beautiful miles of beach to be explored. Mom and the other turtlers will patrol the beach from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am each night. Yikes! Loggerheads do not nest during the day due to the heat and chance of predation, so once all the mamas are back in the ocean, Mom can get some sleep. Do you see a problem with this? Number one is that I won't be there to snuggle with Mom! Number two is that it will be daytime. Mom doesn't sleep when it's sunny out. Number three is that it will be hot. The forecast for this Saturday is 100 degrees. And remember, Mom will not have electricity, so no air conditioning. She will bring a little battery operated fan, but really, will that be enough? I hope so for Mom's sake.

Mom will probably only spend a few hours sleeping because she loves the beach and all that it has to offer. Mom and Carole spend lots of time during the day walking the beach, playing in the surf, and looking for shells. Mom loves the lettered olive shell the most and collects them when they are in the surf in June. Mom does not distrub the lettered olive if it is inhabited because the mollusk inside needs its home more than Mom needs it.
Wassaw has never had its forest cleared for timber, cotton, or cattle, so it is very pristine and is considered the most primitive island on the Georgia coast. There are lush virgin stands of oak, pine, and cedar everywhere. Spanish moss hangs from trees everywhere you look as you quickly become entranced in the beauty of the island. Mom loves the smell of the southern part of the island in the early morning. The smell of the pine trees is intoxicating and pulls you into a place you have never been. Even the spiders that weave their webs across the trails are a delight to Mom.

There are so many animals on the island that you could spend an entire summer here and not see everything. There are lots of snakes, alligators, birds, and frogs. Tons of frogs! Sometimes it sounds like a frog symphony during the mating season and it gets so loud that you can't even hear yourself think. The birds are plentiful as well and one of the island's most spectacular visitors is the painted bunting.
Isn't this the most spectacular songbird you have ever seen? Peter Range, the Fish and Wildlife guy on Wassaw, has been studying painted buntings for years. He even lets Mom and the other volunteers help him check his mist nets and collect data. Unfortunately, some of these magnificent birds end up getting captured in Cuba and sold in the pet trade. Remember, wild birds belong in the wild, not in a cage in your home.

In addition to the turtle work, this year Mom will be taking part in a pilot study monitoring program for the horseshoe crab population on the island. These guys are so cool! They have been around for over 300 million years and have remained virtually unchanged. They are not true crabs as they are more closely related to spiders. They uses their tail as a rudder and also to right themselves if they've been turned upside down. They grow by molting and they do this 16 times throughout their life. They can live for up to 20 years, so Mom is sure that she has seen the same horseshoe crabs each year on Wassaw. Carole even works with them back in her home state of New Jersey.
By tagging the horseshoe crabs during their spawning, changes in their populations can be monitored. Everyone in the world owes their life to horseshoe crabs because its blood contains a unique clotting agent that the pharmaceutical industry uses to test intravenous drugs for bacteria. No IV drug reaches your hospital pharmacy without its horseshoe crab test. How cool is that!

I need to help Mom finish packing. I remember the first year Mom went to Wassaw she said it felt like she was going to participate in the show "Survivor". Mom probably wouldn't last one day on that show, but she is going to going to Wassaw for a whole week. I will miss her when she's gone and since it is Mom that turns on the computer each morning and let's me sit on her lap while I type, no Mom means no blogging. I am going to miss all you guys next week, but I will catch up with you after I catch up with Mom when she gets back on the 28th.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Going to Meet Judi Veoukas!

This is Judi and her granddog Noel. Noel and I are e-mail buddies and Mom tutors with Judi at the college. Judi is a humor writer and she is also a columnist for the Lake County Journal newspaper. The column she wrote earlier this month mentioned me. Okay, maybe not by name, but I think after you read the column you will see that it is me she is talking about because she mentions my blog at the end.

I'm finally going to meet Judi tonight and I'm so excited! Unfortunately, I will not be meeting Noel because she doesn't live with Judi and we are going to Judi's house. I am trying to set up a playdate with Noel but so far nothing. Noel is very busy keeping track of six human siblings and 2 real siblings.

Can you believe that Judi has my picture on her Facebook page? That's right - Judi is on Facebook! Maybe I should join the Facebook party since I have some spare time on my hands this summer. Mom is not on Facebook so I guess I can't be either. I don't think I have time for Facebook because I have my hands full with my blog and it is more important. Where else would you guys get your eco tips of the day from if I didn't blog?

Off The Deep End: A mind is a terrible thing to waster, or is it?

It came to me while I was posting comments on a dog’s blog. This is not just any dog; this one blogs about ecology, so he is an earth-caring pooch, certainly one worth corresponding with. Still, I WAS WRITING TO A DOG. That can’t be all that brain stimulating, well not for me, even if reading blog posts is pretty darn smart for a dog.

Upon further examination, I’ve concluded that writing to a domestic animal could be just one indication that things are going downhill in my head. Case in point – prior to posting on the dog’s site, I’d stood facing my open refrigerator for five minutes trying to recall why I’d gone there. Oh yes, I was looking for my purse.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to keep my brain stimulated. I have embarked upon mind-enhancing pursuits. The first was an area writers’ group. Excited, I looked forward to tips on how to improve my work.

Instead, the group was commandeered by an ancient woman who read us her life story. Slowly. By the time she recited, “To paraphrase Longfellow, I have entered the arctic region of my life,” I had made as many words as I could out of “egocentric.” I never returned.

I then joined a newly formed, local women’s group whose main objective seemed to be eating out. Obviously, this wasn’t a mind-enhancing pursuit, but it would acquaint me with the eateries of far northern Lake County. As a person who screams, “You’re stupid and deranged!” at her GPS, any activity near home sounded good.

They picked a restaurant in Schaumburg. Then, Elgin. I quit.

I’ve tried cards, book clubs, and mah-jongg. All that resonated through my mind during each session was, “When will we have cake?”

So, my mind-challenging pursuits did not work, leading me to again think about an alternate way of spending my time – volunteerism. But then I remembered my last foray into that world. A day-care center advertised, “Grandmas wanted to rock babies.” I was a grandma. I could rock. So, I applied. After being background checked, fingerprinted and strip-searched, I began life as an unpaid nanny. A baby cried in its crib. I picked it up. I rocked it.

A young tattooed and pierced employee took the babe from my arms. “We prefer they learn to fall asleep on their own,” she said.

“Then what do you want me to do?” I asked, as this same girl plopped her baby-less self in the rocker and left me standing empty handed.

“I dunno,” she said. “Maybe pick up the toys?”

After a few weeks of standing and staring at babies, I told the pierced girl I was going on vacation. That was 12 years ago. As far she knows (or cares), I’m still on that trip.

I’m not sure that e-mailing a dog is such a mind-wasting pursuit after all. We’ve arranged a date to play mah-jongg. He’s bringing cake.

(If you wish to leave a comment for an ecology minded dog, see http://lifeofstubby.blogspot.com/.)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Face On Your Plate

Mom started reading this book last week and while it might not be something I would read, she says that the messages it contains are very powerful and eye opening. Mom has read lots of books on the effects of the standard American diet in the past, but this book reaffirms what she knows in her heart to be true - the lower down on the food chain you eat, the better. Better not just for your health but also for the health of the planet.

The author, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, tells us that this book "raises questions to make us conscious of the decision behind every bite we take: What effect does eating animals have on our land, and even on global warming? What are the results of farming practices on animals and humans?" Have you ever thought about these things before? If not, then you need to read this book. Why? Because we need to educate ourselves about these things before it is too late.

One of the most powerful message comes on the first page of the book. This quote appears as the opening to chapter one and it comes from World Watch magazine:

"The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future - deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease."

Wow! All these problems from just eating meat. I bet you never even think about what eating meat does to the planet, but this one statement says it all. You probably witness or hear about at least one of these problems every so often in your daily life but you think to yourself it doesn't really affect me. All of these things affect you because what affects one person affects all people.

Think about deforestation for a minute. Mom witnessed lots of deforestation in Costa Rica. Huge swaths of rainforest were being clear cut to make way for cattle farms. Cattle = meat. Meat to feed the burgeoning tourist populations that travel to Costa Rica each day. Meat to also feed the ever increase Costa Rican people who want to eat like Americans. How does deforestation in Costa Rica affect you living in the United States? Think about it.

Air and water pollution may not seem like a sexy category but we all need air to breathe and water to drink or we will die. It's as simple as that. While most of the world does not have access to clean drinking water, we pollute ours with factory farm waste - yuk! According to the EPA, factory farm runoff is a greater source of pollution than all other industrial sources combined. This is not good news. In the U.S. alone these animals produce 87,000 pounds of waste every second. This is such a hard figure to get your hands around but ask yourself where this waste ends up. Also, what exactly is in this waste?

Animals are given antibiotics and hormones on a daily basis to keep them free from infection and to help bulk them up. These drugs are in the animals, thus in their waste (not to mention the burgers you eat). This waste pollutes our rivers and lakes killing or injuring the animals that live there. Okay, so? The animals that live in rivers and lakes are food for other animals, so if they are dead or diseased, they are no longer a food source. This domino affect is how our ecosystems work. Each species is dependent on other species for their survival so an absence of one could mean death to many.

It's hard to say which category listed above poses the biggest threat to people around the globe but let's talk about global climate change since it seems like it's always in the news. Cows are a bigger threat to global climate change that automobiles. Eating meat is like driving a huge SUV on steroids. Why? Because methane has 23 times the global warming effect as CO2 and nearly 2/3 of all methane emissions around the world are from agriculture. Cows in particular expelled methane by burping (95%) and farting (5%). If there weren't such an ever increasing demand for meat, there might not be a global climate crisis.

Globally, people are eating more meat than ever before. According to the author, annual per capita meat comsumption in developing countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 63 pounds in 2002. Why the dramatic increase? And what has this increase done to our climate? I think we witness the effects of this increase each day, but there is still time to make changes.

Okay, enough bad news. What can you do to help? I know that changing to a vegetarian diet is not for everyone and that's okay. I am not a vegetarian because despite what Mom thinks, I need meat. Well, okay maybe I don't need it but I'm old and I can't go vegetarian now. Mom says that if she ever gets another puppy it will be vegetarian from the start. Poor thing.

People are typically vegetarians for one of three reasons: for their health, for the health of animals, or for the health of the planet. That last one is really catching on and that's a good thing. Mom kind of fell into vegetarainism five years ago and has never looked back. She is semi-vegan and she says that she feels much better when she doesn't consume any type of animal products. Switching to a vegetarian diet will do more to fight global climate change than buying a hybrid car.

Lots of people are eating meat free one day a week. This is a great idea! I may even try this because I think I could live without meat for 24 hours since I sleep for about 12 of those hours. Making just this one simple change will have a great impact on the current state of things and it's easier to do than you think. There are lots of meatless options to choose from, just ask Mom. Simply pick a day of the week - Dad has Meatless Mondays - and find foods to eat that don't contain meat. There are tons of pasta, rice, and bean dishes to choose from not to mention soups and pizza. Or how about peanut butter and jelly? I love peanut butter! Maybe I will eat that on my meatless day. The meat-free possibilites are truly endless.

Mom hasn't finished reading this book yet, but she is already inspired to continue spreading the non-meat message. Little changes, baby steps, are all that's needed to change the world. Please educate yourself about where the food you eat comes from and what it does to the planet. This information is vital in sustaining our ever growing population. We can make changes and I know we will. We have to, don't we? Think about it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Success Story For The Turtle Hospital!

I love happy endings! They make me feel warm and fuzzy and give me hope that things really are good in the world. When I read about a Loggerhead sea turtle that was recently released from The Turtle Hospital, I thought that all of you would want to hear about this happy ending so that you could feel warm and fuzzy too!

The people at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, work so hard to make sure that ever patient that enters leaves healthy and happy, despite the condition they arrived in. They released a patient last week and he/she is on its way to a long and happy life!

Kincaid, a sub adult Loggerhead swam to the Turtle Hospital to check himself in last March. This was the first time in the hospital's 25 years that a sea turtle did this. Mom thinks that the word of the hospital is spreading around the ocean about the great work the hospital does.
When Kincaid arrived, he was acting really weird and he was weak. He hadn't eaten for a while and he was skinny, so the hospital doctors gave him a physical examination. They determined that Kincaid had an infection and was very sick. They immediately started giving him antibiotics and soon he/she started eating again. Kincaid loved eating squid and he/she gained 10 pounds.

After spending 2 1/2 months at the hospital, he was ready to go back to the ocean. Over 100 people showed up at a park on Little Duck Key to cheer on Kincaid and wish him/her luck as it heads back to the ocean. Check out the video of Kincaid's release below and if you are ever in Marathon, FL, please stop by and visit The Turtle Hospital.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A 'Sweet' Award From The Devil Dog

Look what I got the other day! Can you believe it? An award from my new pal Roxy. This is what she had to say about me:

Stubby, another new pug I have met, a sweet senior who reminds mom of Muffie & Bridget, the pugs who came before.

Isn't that sweet? I have never been called a sweet senior before but I kind of like it. I also like that I remind Roxy's mom of the pugs she had before she got Roxy and Lucky. Ahh, shucks, little ole me? Thanks for the award Roxy and thanks for being my new pal!

This award was created to honor blogs that are super sweet and now I have to pass this award onto 3 blogs that I think are sweet. It was a really hard decision, but have chosen three bloggers (not necessarily individual blogs) that I think are the sweetest ones around. They are as follows and aren't in any particular order:

Melissa & Emmitt are two of the sweetest bloggers I have met. Emmitt was so gracious to host the now infamous PartyPalooza last month and it is still the talk of the Internet. Always going out of his way to make everyone feel welcome, Emmitt personifies sweetness in everything he does. Emmitt's mom Melissa makes beautiful artwork and somehow even finds time to crochet squares for children in need. Her sweetness is spread all over the world through her artwork.

I finally got to meet my good pal Apollo in person last week. What can I say about this guy except that he is the bomb! From the moment I met him, I knew we would be pals. His mom Jami gave me so many kisses and now I know where Apollo gets his sweetness from. This guy is one tough cookie on the outside, but a real sweetheart on the inside.

Some of you may think that Howie Pee Pugpants isn't sweet, but I can tell you that he is the epitome of sweet! He loves his little sisters to death and is always looking out for them. He helps his mom around the house and that is more than I can say for most of us puggies. Howie likes to act all rough and tough, but when he wants to, he will show his sweet side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

Solar Clip Lite

You guys know that Mom loves everything solar (harness the sun's power and all that), so when I found this light for her I knew she'd have to have it. Mom is leaving for her yearly turtle trip in nine days so she is going to order this cool light tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, Mom does not have electricity in her cabin when she is turtling. No electricity means no lights, but worse than that, no air conditioning! I'm sure glad I don't have to go turtling because I wouldn't last one hour without my ac.

The solar clip lite clips onto a baseball hat or visor. Mom takes both turtling because the sun is very powerful down south. The lite will run for 12 hours from a full battery charge and each hour of sun charging provides an hour of light. This is math even Mom could do. Even if you're not going turtling, this handy light is great for those perfect summer nights when you just want to stay out all night on the patio and read. I hope Mom doesn't get one for me because then I will need to wear a hat. Head on over to http://www.sustain.com/ to get your own solar clip lite (hat and/or visor not included).

Gardening Gloves

Don't tell Mom but she still has TONS of gardening to do. The yard is a mess and after she gets these gloves, there will be no excuses for not making everything pretty.

When I found these gloves the other day, I thought to myself, finally someone thought to make something other than clothes out of plastic bottles. These cool gloves from http://www.westcountygardener.com/ are just the latest item to turn plastic bottles into something truly useful. According to their website, the bottles are gathered, sorted by color, crushed, and baled. They then get shipped to a facility (hopefully close by) to be ground into 1/8" shards. The shards get cleaned and then melted to form PET pellets, that are then melted and spun into a fine yard that is blended with poly. Viola! Plastic bottle gloves! These would make a great gift and I would get them for Dad for Father's Day, but he doesn't garden.

Floating Solar Lights

These solar lights aren't like anything I have ever seen before. They float, like in a pond or a pool. We don't have either of those two things, but Mom still wants these lights. Unfortunately for her, Dad is not going to build either a pond or a pool, but these lights have a hoop so Mom can hang them from the fence posts or tree branches.

The lights contains a NiCad battery and solar panel, so once again, you will be harnessing the sun's power to light up your night. Maybe Mom will take these turtling and then she will look like a real dork with her solar clip lite and hanging solar lights. If you're looking to brighten up your nights, checkout these solar lights at http://www.firebox.com/.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vacation Treats

Mom loves to check out grocery stores when she travels. I have no idea why she likes doing this, but she tells me that there are always so many cool things to discover in local grocery stores. Yeah, right.
Last week when we were in Asheville, Mom and Dad stopped at an Earth Fare store. Mom thought she had died and gone to heaven! Dad too, because they had the largest selection of hand-crafted cheeses he had ever seen. I, of course, was back in the cabin, catching up on my sleep, so I didn't personally witness the cheese, but I'll take Dad's word for it. Oh, and if you're wondering, no cheese was brought back to the cabin. Nope, none.

Earth Fare has stores in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. They are a full service supermarket that doesn't sell any bad stuff. They were one of the first supermarket chains to eliminate added trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated oils from its foods, they do not sell sucralose, and you will never find high fructose corn syrup on their shelves.

Check out their food philosophy, which is posted on their website:

We sell foods as close to the ground as it gets. Products with these ingredients/processes WILL NOT BE SOLD at Earth Fare :

  • NO hydrogenated or partially- hydrogenated oils added trans-fats
  • NO high fructose corn syrup
  • NO artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners & preservatives
  • NO antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or animal by-products in the feed (fresh meats & milk)
  • NO bleached or bromated flour
  • NO irradiated single source spices, produce or meat
  • NO animal by-products in pet foods
  • NO inhumane treatment of the animals providing us with dairy, meat and eggs
Only good stuff at this store. All produce had a little sign indicating the state or country of origin. This helps consumers to eat as local as possible. Mom wishes that we had an Earth Fare store close to us, but all we have are the more well known natural supermarkets.

While Mom and Dad were checking out the store looking for cool new products, Mom came across this:
I normally get a Mr. Pugsley treat or two each day, but these caught Mom's eye because of the little blue sign in the middle of the box: Buy 1 box & we donate 1 meal. She grabbed a box, saw that the flavor was mac & cheese (finally some cheese for me!), and threw them in her basket. Yeah! More treats for Stubby!

When Mom got back to the cabin, she turned on the computer to see what the deal was with the new treats. They are made by Castor & Pollux, a company that makes the highest quality organic and natural pet food. They are also the founding sponsor of freekibble.com, and they've provided freekibble shelters with more than 55 tons of pet food and financial support. Wow! A company that cares and gives back. How cool is that?

I was so excited when Mom told me about my new treats that I knew that I had to tell you guys about them. If you're wondering where you can buy them, check out http://www.castorpolluxpet.com/ to find a store near you or to buy them online. They are super delicious and what dog doesn't like mac & cheese?

You can even sign up to get a free trial bag of Organix dog or cat food on their website. Click here and just give them your name and e-mail address, and they will send you an e-mail with instructions on how to get your free bag. I signed up on a few days ago and I am eagerly awaiting my new chow. I love my Bill Jack, but I'm always up for trying new kibble.

And don't forget to vist http://www.freekibble.com/ to play their daily bow wow trivia. For each correct answer, they donate 10 pieces of free kibble to shelter animals.

Monday, June 8, 2009

World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day is an opportunity for us to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the global community in connection with the oceans. Our oceans are our lifeblood - they provide us with food, power our climate, and are a critical part of our biospher. We are intricately tied to the health of the oceans and our survival hangs in the delicate balance that is our oceans. We could not survive without the oceans and even slight changes in the oceans can disrupt them to the point of collapse.

As we raise awareness of our oceans today, we realize that they are not as healthy as they can or should be. Overfishing has decimated many regions of the oceans and this activity affects not just the species that live there, but other species and people that depend on them. In the early 1990's, the cod stock in the Atlantic collapsed which closed the fishery industry in Canada. Over 40,000 people lost their jobs and the people and communities affected are still struggling to recover. The marine ecosystem has still not recovered and may never recover from these devasting events. Red snapper fisheries off the coast of South America are close to collapse and we cannot let what happened with the cod fisheries happen again.

Some of you may be familiar with coral reef bleaching. This happens when coral reefs die because they are living, breathing species. Many species depend on coral reefs not just for food, but also for shelter. All species need the oceans, but only the human species can help save them.

To help promote their collective ocean conservation message on World Oceans Day, The Ocean Project has a campaign called "Wear Blue and Tell Two." The campaign is in response to a recent public opinion survey that showed that the public is looking to zoos, aquariums, and museums to learn more about issues affecting the oceans and how they can take action to help the oceans. I ask each of you today to wear blue in honor of the ocean and to tell people two things they don't know about our oceans.

Two facts that you should know:
  • The oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe. No oceans, no oxygen. It's as simple as that.

  • The oceans regulate our climate. There has been so much talk in recent years about global climate change and the oceans are the first to feel the effects of these changes.

So get out your blue and spread the message! We have taken the oceans for granted for far too long and now we are suffering the consequences. I want you to change your perspective about how you view the oceans. Think about the inspiration you draw from sitting on an ocean beach staring into its vastness. I want you to learn about what the oceans have to offer. I'm not just talking about food here, but about the thousands of species of plants and animals that inhabit each ocean. The oceans are their homes, yet we need the oceans as much as they do. I want you to change your ways in relation to the oceans. Do you part to minimize the impact your actions have on the planet and these small changes will help the oceans. And lastly, celebrate the oceans no matter where you live. Mom loves the ocean and when she is on an ocean beach she feels like she is at home. She says that she belongs on the beach, bowing her head to the oceans to thank them for all they give her.

In typical Mom fashion, she is wearing a blue sea turtle t-shirt today. She gets a t-shirt every year she goes to Wassaw Island and this shirt is from last year. It has the name of the project and a beautiful loggerhead drawn by the assistant director of the project Mike Frick. Do you see what it says on the t-shirt? "Protecting Georgia's Sea Turtles since 1973...". That's a long time, but there's still lots of work to do. By helping the oceans you are helping the sea turtles and for this Mom says thank you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm Back From My Vacation!

I can't believe that my vacation is over. I had such a great time at Barkwells and in Indy that I can't wait to go back to both places. Last week was the best week of my life and I hope I can go on vacation at least once a year.

After we left Barkwells, we stopped in Indy. It was on our way back to Chicago and we wanted to to meetup with Salinger and his peeps, and attend their monthly pug meetup. I haven't been around that many puggies in a long time and while it was a little overwhelming at times, I had a great time. I loved checking all the puggies out and I even had some of Apollo's birthday cake. That's me in the middle of the picture cruisin' around.

Here's my buddy Salinger with his brother Holden. Holden is a super brother and I wish that he could come live with me. He takes really good care of Salinger, is an honor roll student, plants a garden, and is a really good kid. I liked him a lot and I can't wait until he comes to visit me.

Salinger and I had lots to talk about and here we are discussing our lunch plans. Dad is holding me and Salinger's pretty mom Laura is holding him. We got along great like I knew we would and I would have to say that if we lived closer to each other, we would probably be best buds.

Here I am with Apollo, Salinger, and our moms. Mom really didn't want to be in any pictures (not that she's running from the law or anything), but she just had to pose with me. Don't we all look so handsome? For once in my life, I wasn't the biggest puggie at the party!

After the meetup, we went back to Salinger's house for lunch. That guy has got a great pad and a really sweet yard. I had a problem stepping off his deck so his dad Kevin got me a ramp that Salinger used to use when he was a baby. I walked down the ramp once and then couldn't figure out how to use it again. Salinger even has a doggy door, but it confused me so I had to get someone to open the sliding glass door each time I want to go out.

Laura could not get enough of me and that didn't surprise me one bit. She kept holding me, cuddling me, and giving me lots of love. I secretly wished that Mom would leave me there, but then I thought that Mom would be sad if she didn't have me around. Salinger and I swapped moms for some pictures and you can see that I look really good in Laura's lap. I think she likes old guys.

Salinger even got me some presents. He asked his mom to bake me some delicious bacon treats and I loved them. He gave me a whole bag of them and they're shaped like little pigs. I love bacon more than anything (even Mom) and I am going to savor these little piggies. Hopefully, Laura will send Mom the recipe so she can make some for me.

Salinger also got me this cool stuffie. I named him Pendleton because that's where Salinger lives. Pendleton has a plastic bottle in him and when you squeeze him he makes that cool plastic bottle crunching sound - how cool is that?

I definitely need a vacation after my vacation, so I am taking it easy today. Tomorrow I will be back to working with Dad and gardening with Mom, but for the rest of today, I am sleeping in the family room which I missed while I was gone. I liked being on vacation, but I love being back home. There's really no place like it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Barkwells is the Bomb!

I am having the time of my life at Barkwells! This vacation stuff is a lot of fun and now I know why Mom and Dad do it all the time.

This is the entrance to Barkwells. It's kind of hidden away on a little dead end road, so it's not easy to find. We are kind of out in the country here and it's so nice and peaceful. Mom and I slept in this morning because we couldn't even hear the birds singing even though there are tons of birds here.

This is the road up to our cabin. We are staying in the Lacey cabin which is the one at the top of the picture.

Wipe your paws - or else! Check out that cool doggy door. I cannot use it because it is a little too high for me, but I'm sure my buddy Salinger would love it because he has one at home.

This is my backyard. There are steps to the yard off of the deck, but I take the ramp because I can't handle steps anymore. There was a lot of mail waiting for me when I arrived because this place is hopping!

This is the back of our cabin. The deck is huge and I've been spending lots of time cruisin all around it. There is even a big bowl of water on the deck so that I don't have to go inside when I get thirsty.

I walk down to the lake every morning with Mom. I even walk on the dock but there is no way that I am going in that water. Here I am looking for mail on my way back to the cabin.

It's a little hot here as you can see by my big noseguard. Mom makes sure that I don't get overheated, so when my noseguard gets too big, she takes me inside to sit in the air conditioning. Here I am heading back inside after being at the lake. I love that fact that I don't have to be on my leash when I'm out walking.

There are chickens here too. They live in a yard in between cabin 1 and 2, and I stop by to say hi to them when I am out walking. I am going to try to steal an egg tomorrow morning so that Dad can fry it up for me.

Tilly the German Shepherd was staying at the cabin next door when we first got here, but she left and now Sheena the Maltese is here. I was hanging out with Sheena this afternoon and she is very cool. I also met Baxter and Patty who live with the owners of Barkwells. They both jumped in the lake while Sheena and I laughed at them. There are other dogs here too, but I haven't met them. Last week there was even a pot belly pig!

I can't believe that we are leaving in a couple of days. I could definitely stay here longer than just 5 days, but we need to get to Indy to meet up with all the Indy pugs.