Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Shelter Rescue Lab Arrives in St Thomas!

What do you do when you lose your best friend? You find another best friend?

As you may know we lost Bristol about a month ago. We were left with Bo Peep as our only dog, something I haven't experienced since 1999 and one that Shannon hasn't experienced since she met me in 2001. In total we went from 5 Labs to one in a matter of 20 months. Poor Bo Peep was just as devastated as we were with the loss.

We do have a shelter here in St Thomas, and yes we do support the Humane Society here, recently spending over $1500 on their recent Doggie Ball. But, I have always had Labs my whole life. I know there are dogs here that need homes, but I know what I am getting with a Lab. Floppy ears, sense of adventure, swimming, happy go lucky demeanor, loyal and the list goes on.

After about 4 days of losing Bristol, I began to surf the net on Lab rescue groups, Florida, Atlanta and North Carolina (my father lives in Cedar Point, NC). On the first day, I found one in NC that looked intriguing  but there was only one picture. I sent an email to get more pictures, but this person works full time and does rescue in her spare time, so it would be a few days. I found another in Atlanta that I thought was going to be a match, but he already got adopted. We debated on adopting two from Florida, but they weren't too keen on the dog going to St Thomas, and by the time I heard from anyone, the dog was adopted.

After about a week, pictures finally came of Duke, a one year old male in NC. I fell in love him as he so much resembled my old Lab, Chuck has passed away 18 months ago. This shelter was a two hour drive from my dad's house and I had asked him to go visit him on a Saturday (can only see the dogs on Sat and Sunday as Joy works Mon-Fri). We watched Duke on our IPad with Facetime. He looked great and good personality! Take him home George! The name of the shelter is Ruf Creek Ranch and you can click on there to see their site.

Well, poor George and his wife Pat. This poor dog had been in shelters and rescue groups for the last 3 months. I guess he was turned in as a stray to a shelter in Raleigh (even though the man who turned him and another yellow in cried when he left?) which is a short time kill shelter. Well, he certainly stirred things up at my Dad's house with his two rescue labs. He wasn't house trained, ate my dad's glasses, ruined a vase, ran rampant and was a little crazy. He was a sweetheart though!

I made my flight reservations on Delta with frequent flier miles to fly in and spend a few days with my dad and the new dog and get him used to a crate for his big flight. I arrived on Wednesday night with him in the back of the 4Runner. He licked my face! That night he slept in the bed with me.

George's house doesn't have a fence, so trying to house train him was an experience. My first morning it was 34 degrees, something I haven't experienced in a while. That morning we loaded up and took Chukar to the vet for his health certificate. Wait a minute, I thought his name was Duke? Well, Joy named him Duke. I had promised Chuck that when he was dying that I was going to get another boy like him and name him Chuck Junior or Chukar. Chukar is a bird, just like a quail, and there are hunts with Labs in California and Nevada. Sorry for that diversion! He checks out at the vet so off to Pet Smart for a crate. Assembled that in the parking lot, in you go Chukar. Now off to Taco Bell (those who know me, I have an addiction).

The rest of my days were spent walking Chukar in the rain, yes whenever I visit George it rains, I am not too sure if it only happens when I am there or is Coastal Carolina always rainy? Also had a nice time with his neighbors and going out dinner and some shopping for supplies at Wal-Mart to bring back here. Triscuits and Salad dressing are two things I focus on. Here in St Thomas, there isn't much of a selection of lite salad dressing not to mention $4.50 a bottle, and triscuits are double the price here.

Sunday, Daytona 500 and getting the crate and paperwork ready for my trip on Monday.

Monday 1:30 AM, I am awake and stressed. Quick shower and off to walk Chukar to see if he will go potty before his big trip. Well, I got a pee out of him. Load the suit cases, walk him again, no poop. 3AM - depart for Wilmington, NC airport. We stopped after an hour for another potty break, got another pee. Getting nervous now that the crate will be filled with poo upon its arrival in St Thomas.

Arrived at the airport at 5AM. Small airport, pulled right up to the door and the gentleman at the check in counter was awesome!  Thanks Kyle! He got my suitcase checked in first. Then had me bring in the crate and put it on a trolley. He said to leave it there and come back at 6 AM. Awesome, I can try to get him to poop! So we parked in short term and I took him up to the pet walking area, and he presented me with a great big turd! Relieved again!

6 AM - TSA comes over to inspect the crate and dog. Zip tie him up, he has his tray of ice cubes for drinking water. Kyle closes his line for check in and takes him to be loaded.

I went and boarded, gave the pilot a bag of cookies with a card asking him to make sure he is on board. The flight attendant came back and told he was on. Off for a 1.5 hour flight to Atlanta. Arrive in Atlanta 10 mins late, we still have an hour layover. Board my next plane to St Thomas. Gave the box of cookies to the flight attendant to give to the pilots. The captain came back to my seat and told me he was an animal lover to and that he will ensure that we will not leave without Chukar on board. What a relief! I was watching them load the plane and saw the crate going up the conveyor belt.

3 hour flight now to St Thomas. I had the movie, Lincoln on to distract me. I should have napped instead though, but I was too nervous.

We arrived in St Thomas and parked. As I exited the plane down the outside stairs, I waited by the wing to see Chukar come off. He was the second item out.  I could see his black head moving around! Now time to go and meet Shannon in the baggage area.  Out comes Chukar and Shannon gets to see him for the first time. We got a porter to help us out to the Toyota. Loaded him up for the 20 minute ride home.
(We do not have an animal quarantine here in the Virgin Islands) Well, one thing went wrong that day. We have curvy and steep roads here. The crate tipped over to a 45 degree angle, the next curve he went back down. Sorry buddy!

Finally we are home, let him out of the crate and into the fenced yard! He went potty right away. He got to meet Bo Peep too!

Yesterday we tried swimming. The first beach we went to was too rough with waves and he was scared of the waves. So I took him to a more calm beach. Still afraid, so I carried him into the water. He swam, but wouldn't come back in. When I got home I carried him into the pool to rinse off and yet again he was afraid of swimming?  Hopefully he will get used to it!

So far all is well, he had two pee accidents, but is adjusting well to island life here in St Thomas!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Losing a Best Friend

For the last 3 weeks, our dog, Bristol had been sick. This is one of the two we were left with that made the journey to the Virgin Islands. I got her from the Teton Valley Idaho Humane Society back in 2002 when Shannon and I had just moved in together as Shannon felt left out as she came to me when I had my two boys, Chuck and Blazer. She was 8 months at the time. She fit right in to our home and traveled with us to Reno, Nevada and to here in St Thomas.

After multiple trips to the great Vet we have found here, Dr. Bowden at Imperial Vet, we had narrowed it down to possibly tick fever. She was put on antibiotics, but just wasn't getting better.  I was working at a large resort here selling timeshares, but they were getting tired of me calling in sick to take my baby to the vet, so I resigned.

Bristol's condition kept getting worse, so the next step was to test her for Cushing's Disease, which would be that she would be at the vet all day going through tests. Perfect, the last couple of weeks I had been staying at home with her, she will be at the vet and in good care right?

Off I go fishing with a friend. I turn on the phone later in the afternoon to a voicemail from Shannon saying Bristol had died of Aortic Artery Tear. Yes she bled to death internally from a tear in an artery. If there is any good news of this, it could not have been operated on. I got home and was devastated when I saw Shannon.

Since we are on a small island, none of the crematory here will do a cremation. We had to have her sent via a seaplane to St Croix. We will get her box back soon to add to our collection of four other boxes prominently displayed in our dining room credenza. 

In order to escape of the pain of hanging around the house, we decided to go out to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost, what better way to mourn than having some painkillers?

Then the next day you go out on the boat over to St. John with some friends so that our remaining girl, Bo Peep can have some fun with her friend Hana.

And a Sunday Birthday BBQ for Tripp.

We are now on the hunt for another rescue lab to fill our house. It will be an adventure going back to the states and bringing a new lab back to paradise! We have been in touch with Lab Rescue of Florida and Atlanta as either Miami or Atlanta will have direct flights to St Thomas. 

Regardless, Bristol, you are deeply missed and you will always have a special spot in our hearts!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kenny Chesney's New Album, "Life On a Rock"

Country music star Kenny Chesney has a new album coming out in April called Life On a Rock. From what he was quoted in a recent interview, the songs will reflect living on an island. 
Funny! A few things here:
1. Kenny Chesney owns two houses on St John (one is for sale). 
2. We always say we live on "The Rock" otherwise known as St Thomas. 
3. The video for "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem was filmed at Ivan's Stress Free Bar on Jost Van Dyke. The songs inspiration came from a sign in front of One Love Bar on Jost (see picture). 

"When I first went to the islands, I met a lot of people who were making a life beyond anything any of them knew... They were boatmen, bartenders, waitresses, real estate folks. They were all loving life, living a dream and coloring outside the lines with this real sense of freedom; they took a country singer from East Tennessee into their tribe at a time when having friends outside everything I knew was important. Time passes, life moves on, but those friends lasted, and this album in a lot of ways is about the power of that kind of friendship to endure."

Here is the link to his interview: interview