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Training Toby is moving!

Training Toby is moving to Terra Toby. Come and visit!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where has Terra Toby Been?

My last post ended with a note: Back next week after a short break. In hindsight I probably should have taken out the adjective.

Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire, Dutch Antilles

Caribbean Sunset

Giant Anemone

We were going on a scuba vacation, and I feel uncomfortable about announcing plans to travel. Hey thieves, empty house coming right up. But I really did mean to pick up reading blogs and writing my own this week.

Like the song says, life is what happens while you're making other plans.

We came back from vacation and had to unpack and get the house clean, buy groceries, mow, and complete all the other little tasks involved in restoring ordinary daily life. Well, if I'm honest, there was a bit of napping too. Good thing too, as it turns out.

Monday morning Ted left for a business trip. On Tuesday I picked up our 3 year old grandson for a solo visit while his little sister had surgery. (She's doing fine and yesterday we learned that the lump was benign.) Fun? Of course! Every day was full of surprises, sweet moments, and all the joys grandmothers are always blabbing about. We were off and running by 5:30 most days, and the little guy didn't stop moving until 7:30 P.M. For an old retired lady who feels no guilt about sleeping till 8, afternoon siestas, and whiling away the day with a book, it was a revelation to discover that keeping up with a toddler is like taking a 14 hour aerobics class. Every day.

By 7:30 the TV remote and a fork was all the activity I could manage. In all sincerity, I don't know how my daughter keeps up with two. I don't know how I ever did, once upon a time.

Today he went home to his family. So, I'll be back to blogging as usual now. 

But if you don't see a new post for a few days, it's because I'm sacked out on the couch.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall

Happy 80th Birthday, Dr. Jane Goodall
(sign her birthday card)

Credit: Why Not Girl!
Even as a young girl, she organized a nature club for her friends.
Photo Credit: Hugo Van Lawick
For decades, she courageously observed chimps in their natural African habitat, being the first to show that they were not vegetarians and that they used tools. 
Photo Credit: Ron Henggleler
She founded "Roots and Shoots", an organization that supports youth conservation initiatives and has impacted 150,000 young people in 130 countries.

Awareness Helps Ⓥ AnimalsEarthHealth
She has fearlessly advocated for animals her entire life.
Photo Credit: Stuart Clarke
And she has never despaired of the ability of people to positively change our world.
Photo Credit: The Jane Goodall Institute

"It is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of

hopelessness as we look around the world. We

are losing species at a terrible rate, the balance of

 nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our

beautiful planet. We have fear about water

supplies, where future energy will come from

– and most recently the developed world has been

 mired in an economic crisis. But in spite of all

this I do have hope. And my hope is based on

four factors.

Click here to see Dr. Goodall's four reasons.

You can watch a 3-minute biography here (unfortunately no embed code is provided):

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let The Camping Begin!

In the midst of this never-ending winter, we snuck in a camping weekend at Medoc Mountain State Park. I felt like we pulled a fast one on Mother Nature. She must have been busy elsewhere, causing floods or droughts or some other nastiness. For a change we had sunshine and blue skies.

 I've written before about the beauty of this park in North Carolina, and how we only visit in early spring and late fall because of a certain insect overpopulating the woods. Honestly I thought this time we'd be safe from the ticks, due to the many below-freezing nights we've had. But we still saw a few of the loathsome things. Fortunately I had applied Toby's topical prevention in advance. We didn't let the bugs deter us.

We arrived Friday afternoon and quickly set up our forest green tent. I spread the vinyl tablecloth over the scarred picnic table, unfolded the camp chairs by the fire pit, and filled Toby's water dish. Ted unloaded the cooler and bought wood from the camp host while Toby and I gathered a nice stack of kindling. With hours of daylight left, there was plenty of time for a hike. It felt great to get out on the trail after sitting in the car. 

It was chilly once the sun went down. Toby slept all night, nose curled under his tail. At seven he was ready to start the day, which he announced by pushing his nose under the sleeping bag and snuffling excitedly all around my head. I buried myself deeper, hoping Ted would get up and take him out (and make the all-important coffee). Which he did. Morning people. What would we do without them?

After a pot of coffee and cereal (us) and kibble (Toby), we packed lunch. I filled a water bladder for us and two smaller ones for Toby to carry in his backpack along with his foldable bowl. Ted had planned a 9 mile hike, taking us on all of the park's trails but two. As the sun rose it got steadily warmer...and then actually hot by lunchtime. 

For much of the day we hike along the Little Fishing River. I was hoping to see river otters but we had to settle for a water snake (not a poisonous one). The little rapids in the river were roaring, glittering in the sun. Very few people were out on the trails. Toby rarely had to be leashed.

Watching a dog enjoying himself, tail up, eyes bright, big grin with tongue hanging out, is a great way to spend a day. He took a nice deep sleep when the hike was done, under the picnic table in the shade, as he loves to do. Ted and I drank our beer and watched the sun go down over the trees. On Sunday we got another hike in before barely beating the rain home. 

My consolation, now that it's cold with more snow on the way, is that weekends like this will start happening more and more as we roll into summer.

 Let the camping season of 2014 begin!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Man Of The Forest

Who can resist orangutans? 
Image Source: World Wildlife Fund
Orangutans are only found on Sumatra and Borneo. Their name means 'man of the forest' in Malay, and a close look at their faces shows why. 

Next week at my docent training at the Virginia Zoo we will meet the Director, who will speak with us about the conservation, breeding, and collection policies at the zoo. I've been thinking of questions to ask him. 

(More on a more thoughtful day about the docent training and the zoo, but so far it's been great).

Both of the orangutans at our zoo, Schnitz and Pepper, are Sumatran/Bornean hybrids, which means they are ineligible for AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) captive breeding. Since Bornean orangutans are endangered and Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, I'd like to know more about how the orangutans were acquired. The Virginia Zoo website says both are zoo-born, and,

"Schnitz, a male orangutan, and Pepper, a female, were actually playmates when very young, but spent some time apart at separate zoos before being reunited in 1995. They have been together since and came to the Virginia Zoo together in 2011."
Schnitz in his favorite corner at the Virginia Zoo. Copyright Terra Toby.

Schnitz and Pepper. Copyright Terra Toby.

Pepper gives a thumbs-up. No, actually putting something tasty daintily between her lips. Copyright Terra Toby.

 A surprising number of the animals in the collection were the result of confiscations from the illegal wildlife trade. That is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world, right after human trafficking, according to World Wildlife Fund.
Stop Wildlife Crime. It's Dead Serious.

If you want more supercute pics of orangutans and basic facts about them, click here

Joining today's Thoughtless Thursday blog hop hosted by Ruckus the Eskie and Owned By A Husky.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thoughtless Thursday: 2 Grateful 4 SAD

Do you get SAD? As in Seasonal Affective Disorder? I get clobbered every winter. I thought I had it beat this year when the New Year rolled in without the winter blahs rolling in first. 

But. Then came the Polar Vortex, and winter is lingering like a dog's toot at a holiday party.  SAD has been seeping in with the cold draft under the door. But over the years I've learned to count my blessings for the comforts and strategies that combat SAD.

Thanks, Chocolate
Preferably dark. Hot cocoa works too. Seriously, there are studies. You can look it up on the internet. 

Thanks, Gas Fireplaces
Warm and beautiful on the grayest of days. This is especially effective if you have a window view from the couch. Just bask in the warmth as you literally laugh in the face of Old Man Winter.

Thank you, Dog That Must Be Walked
Ever heard that if you feel depressed you need to get up and get out no matter how impossible it seems? Dog owners with the blues have an infallible enforcer of compliance with that prescription. Nothing like a whiny, stir-crazy dog alternately pleading and eyeing me with contempt to get me off the couch and into my long underwear. Before you know it I'm laughing at the ugliest snow princess ever to grace a suburban yard. 
Need proof? 
Exhibit A

Thank you,  Fiction Writers
They take us out of our heads and into someone else's for a while. The best of them remind me that my problems are rather silly compared to the insurmountable crises their characters overcome.

Thanks, Friends and Family, Part I
They don't realize the magic. As my daughter says when thanked, "Of course"! But those daily contacts, real or virtual, are life-giving. On a gloomy day, getting a few "likes" on a Facebook link makes me feel like appreciated. Whether it's skyping with a grandchild, getting texted a photo of the snow from an adult daughter's back porch, holding hands at the movies with my spouse, or hearing about a friend's vacation, it lifts my spirits. Depression corrodes self-worth. It may be self-centered, but this is a time when I need to be reminded that others care.

Thanks, Friends and Family, Part II
The other side of that coin is doing things for others. "Like" their photo on Facebook, send them an e-card, do one of your spouse's usual chores, bring home a surprise bottle of wine, fix a special dessert…whatever it is that you do for a family member or friend, it just plain feels good. A little bit of 'pay it forward' for a total stranger works too. Tiny stuff - like letting someone in front of me in traffic - is enough to improve my day.

Not a complete list, is it? Do you get SAD? If so, what do you do that lifts your spirits while waiting for Spring?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Uplifting Isn't Enough

 I love wildlife. I love wildlife so much, I gave my pet-niche-only blog a complete reboot, summed up in the new tag line, "loving life, inside [pets] and out [wildlife].

So why did it feel like such a chore today to sit down and type a post? 

This question dominated my thoughts as Toby and I took another (freezing) walk. It bothered me at my doctor appointment and when I stared, overwhelmed, at my blog reading list, emails, and Facebook news feed. 

From recent emails:
-Idaho wants to kill 450 wolves!
-Protect endangered Florida panthers!
-Protect polar bears from oil drilling!
-Say no to Keystone XL!

My Facebook news feed has sad stuff about the orcas at Sea World, black-footed ferrets, migratory songbirds…oh my. 

While thinking of ordering a cool new book, The Sixth Extinction, a small voice in my head said, "Are you sure you want to know more about that than you already do?". 

It's no different on the domestic animal side of the house. Pets needing adoption to dogfighting to factory farming, there's a constant drumbeat of suffering. Man, it can be a real downer to care about animals. Like the song says, love hurts.

Wouldn't it be better if we stopped talking about all this misery? Couldn't we tell only the positive, uplifting, stories? Is that the direction my blog should take?

 Some people do a HUGE thing that shakes an issue like an earthquake, that gets shared 4 zillion times on social media, makes Google News, and goes viral on YouTube.

Meanwhile millions of us are doing tiny things, acts that no one will ever know about, that can be fit into busy lives; actions that won't bust the budget, cause a family argument, or land us in jail. Google News won't be headlining your $25 donation or your signature on that petition. You won't be on the front page of the paper throwing a can into a recycling bin or bringing a reusable water bottle to the gym. 

Big and small, all these actions, in the aggregate, have a positive effect. They have something else in common too.

Each action begins with someone who knows about a problem and does something about it. In the fifty years since Rachel Carson, the environment and our treatment of animals  has improved because heroes spoke out loudly about ugliness that no one wanted to see.

No. My blog can't be only about the day-brighteners. Sometimes an issue needs thousands of big bright lights shining on it so it can't  hide on dark fringes of society's awareness. And on some days, one of those lights can be mine.

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