Otters and Gators and Bass


Baby Gator on Mama's Back:

My brother inspired my love for kayaking along the spring fed rivers in Florida. Each time I visited him and his wife, I was determined to see manatees. However, the manatees only come into the springs when the ocean waters they live in become cold in winter months because the water is warmer water in the springs – the temperature is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. For many ears I was either too early or too late to see manatees, but never seemed to miss the gators.

One visit my brother, his wife, and I canoed Alexander Springs. While cruising the river  my brother fished and caught three bass. As  he admired his catch, other river travelers passing by told us there was a gator up the way with babies sitting on her back. This I wanted to see.  My brother agreed.

He used shoe laces to secure the bass to a tree along the river. Pretty ingenious we all thought. The three of us continued along the river and spotted the mother gator with many little babies on her back. Usually I am terrified of gators, but I thought this was so great I had no fear at all! I took pictures and ‘oohed’ and ‘aaahed’ and acted like a tourist that just arrived in Florida.

As we returned to retrieve the bass, suddenly my brother jumped out of the canoe and swam to his fish. At first we couldn’t see the reason for my brother’s frantic actions. Soon we noticed the thieving otters trying to steal his bass. They must have thought “WHAT AN EASY CATCH TODAY!” My brother, however, had no intentions of allowing those fish to be apprehended by those otters. He was fearless and unconcerned that the otters could present a problem or even bite him. If it was me I would have given those cute little otters the fish. Their faces seemed confused as they watched him retrieved his bass> We finished our canoeing and my brother tells the story of how he almost lost his bass because I wanted to see some gator babies on their mother’s back.

It was a great day on the river.

Tell us your adventures.


The Art of Naming a Pet

* * " Whens me wuz a fetus; me used to sneaks outs at nite whens me mau-ma wuz sleepin'. Me figured meez shoulds starts stealin' stuff whiles me stills hads noes paw prints."[Steven Wright

I am amused at the names my clients give the family pets. From Fizzgig to Gator , many have favorite characters or family members they name their pet after.

We adopted a little tiger cat who was a terror from the moment she came into our home. She raced everywhere in the house, darted under furniture, climbed draperies, and jumped from counters to cabinets to the floor. She was exhausting. My step  daughter loved cats and this kitten was her favorite.

When we named her, I asked my step daughter what name she wanted for this kitten. We both agreed she was a monster. We thought about naming her Monster. Then, my step daughter  thought more and she said, ‘Well, I really like the name Donna.’

We considered our options. Should we name her Monster or Donna? We went back and forth and still couldn’t decide. Then she said, ‘Well, I also like the name Lisa.’

What to do? Now we had three names to choose from. Should she be Monster, Donna, or Lisa? Since we couldn’t decide, we did the only logical thing, we named her Monster Donna Lisa. When you said this about 100 times, it sounded like a real name anyone might name their pet. I am certain there are NO other cats in the world named Monster Donna Lisa, but there are many unique other names as well as the usual names like Bella and Max and Tiger, and others.

Share your pet naming story with us.

Jumping to Conclusions

Appaloosa More:

I was assigned to castrate 3 appaloosa horses for a client. When I arrived at the farm, the couple who owned the horses were quite pleasant and we talked for a short while before beginning the surgeries.

When I do this surgery, I prefer to put the horse on the ground and pull one rear leg forward by tying it to a rope around the horse’s neck Then I complete the castration. Surgery went perfectly for the first horse, however, midway through surgery on the second horse, things did not go so well. He stood up  with his leg tied. There’s a first time for every disaster I always say. I administered additional medication to put him back on the ground. He fell on the opposite side, so I pulled the other back leg forward and tied it to the rope around his neck. I finished the castration. Yes! Both back legs were tied in a forward position at this time. I finished, untied both legs, let him wake up, and prepared to castrate the last horse.

Before we started the third horse, the owners asked to take a break and went into their home. As I waited for them to return, crazy thoughts went through my mind. I thought they were calling my boss to tell him they did not want me to do the last castration because I had so much trouble keeping the second horse down. I thought they were planning to tell me to leave their farm. The fearful thoughts were overwhelming.

When they came out, he said, “My wife and I were talking about you.”

I prepared for the worst as I thought, ‘I knew it! Here it comes.’

Then he said, “We really like you, you don’t talk down to us. You talk like a regular person.” I was so relieved and said, “I thought you were upset with me and calling the boss because I had to give a second dose of medication to the second horse.”

They replied, “Oh, no. We weren’t upset about that, he (the boss) had to give additional medication to a horse down THREE times one day to complete a castration.”

I was amazed. It makes me think I am the only one difficult moments happen to when others don’t admit circumstances don’t always go perfectly for them.  As time goes on I realize everyone has difficulties and no one has perfect moments every moment.

Share your story with us.


Broken Pieces

Even broken shells are beautiful. Shellbelle's Tiki Hut: Driftshell Hearts:

One of my favorite things to do in Florida is walk the beaches searching for shells. I never realized shells have specific names- like turretella, yellow land snail, florida welk, scallops, telescopium, angel wings or concus aulicus- to name a few. I simply call them clam shells, conchs, spiral shells, and pretty ones. Once I found a sand dollar and a starfish. Friends enjoy showing me the shells they found.

Of all the shells I find, the ones I treasure most are the broken ones. I find more fragments of shells than perfect, whole shells. I collect the fragments of shells to add to shell crafts because I think they are still beautiful.

The broken shells remind me of me- broken and imperfect. So many times I catch myself saying exactly what I did not want to say. I wish I had the opportunity to relive moments and do them better a second time around. Why did I become impatient? Why did I give someone the impression I had no time for them? Why did I need to feel superior to someone else? Regretting moments is an ongoing battle. New Year’s Eve is approaching. I want to be better. I want those around me know how much I appreciate them, how kind and helpful they are to me and how they make my life better just being in it. I want to choose words that let them know they are valuable and worthwhile.

Sometimes the broken shells remind me of people I love. It seems easier to accept imperfection in myself than those around me. I want them to know I see the beauty in them, the value in them. This New Year’s I want to be patient and kind. I want to believe the best in all around me and never notice if anyone does wrong to me. I want them to know they are special to me- every moment, every day. I want to be there to share their struggles as well as their celebrations.

A thanks- to those who have seen me at my best and at my worst and cannot tell the difference because they love me so much. I want to love everyone else the same.

Share your resolutions with us.



Baby Gorillas

Image result for images of gorilla baby

During my last year in veterinary school I chose rotations that allowed me to ride with the zoo veterinarian. The Columbus, Ohio zoo had 2 baby twin gorillas. We were taught that it was not advisable to touch the gorillas due to the possibility of disease transmission, but the temptation was more than I could bear.

One day I stood outside the twin gorillas pen and watched as they delighted in swinging around the tree branches and patting their chests. They would stop and look at me to make sure I was still watching them- and I was. They played for a while, then one of them came to the front of the cage and put his arm through the bars stretching as much as he could trying to reach his little hand my way. Priceless. I wanted to reach out and grab that little hand. I did not see cameras, but am certain they were around that enclosure. I imagined bells and whistles going off if I dared touch that little guy. I did not touch him or his twin, but I wanted to.

On another trip to the zoo, I learned the zoo employees wanted to repair a broken structure in the outdoor exhibit of the gorillas. The females were inside, but the males refused to come in. When the zoo veterinarian and the few students with him (I was one of them) stepped out of the truck, the male gorillas began running full speed into the indoor enclosure. We laughed stating, “Doc, it looks like they know you.” He had his tranquilizer gun in hand and, indeed, they did know him- even from the distance we were away from them.

I was told that when the veterinarian shoots the tranquilizer into the gorilla, they must be very careful because the gorilla is able to pick the syringe off their body. They throw it back at the veterinarian. This can be dangerous because the medications used to tranquilize the gorilla are very powerful and can cause harm and even death to a human. We found it amusing they were intelligent enough to do this. Then, as we were told the gorillas throw the darts back at the veterinarian, we were told they hand the syringe to their caregivers. “Awe,” we said, we wished we were their caregivers instead of their veterinarians.

Share your story with us.



In Search of Christmas

Nativity scene Seaglass nativity picture by Suzziesbitsandbobs:

I love Christmas. I decorate trees, find a special new ornament each year, set out my nativities- a collection I am proud of, and send Christmas cards to family and friends. I decorate the outside of the house and bushes and scan magazines and library books for Christmas crafts. I spend hours in front of the television watching holiday movies and look forward to family time as well as time with friends. I enjoy finding the perfect gifts for everyone. My radio station plays non-stop Christmas music – a treat I look forward to each year. In short, I love it all. I am one of those who wishes it could be Christmas 365 days a year!

My friends and family do a cookie swap each year. I am always assigned the oatmeal cookies because everyone is aware of my baking limitations. I enjoy the great meals with pumpkin and apple pies. We attend church on Christmas eve and include others to share our holiday who may not have family to spend time with.

But when I think about Christmas, I realize the reason I love Christmas so much is because of the real meaning of the season. It is the time I get to thank God for sending His very best. My search for Christmas does not take me to a palace with plush royalty and all the comforts of wealth. My search takes me to a much different and unusual place. In find Christmas in a manger-  where my Savior was a Baby born to a peasant girl who believed the angel of God who told her she would be the mother of Jesus and not to be afraid. There was no room in the inn, so I find Him in that stable one quiet, holy night thousands of years ago. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and visited by a few shepherds. Wise men traveled far to see Him.

I have found Christmas. I have made the choice to be one of the wise people that still seek Jesus. I know the reason for the season. He is my King and the Baby born to live and die for all to live. Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace and good will toward men.

Share what Christmas means to you.


Henny Penny and Cock a Doodle

Chicken Breed Focus - Japanese Bantam:

I wanted fresh eggs every morning. Obviously, the only way to have this is to have a chicken. But where to get a chicken?

One of my favorite clients knew where to get chickens. He hatched eggs and seemed to know everything you could imagine about chickens, ducks, geese, and many other birds. I shared my problem with him and, since he was going to an auction where chickens were sold, he offered to buy a chicken for me.

When he brought me my chicken, he brought what he called 6 chickens and one rooster. He said a rooster among the chickens helps the egg laying process. What did I know? As an unexpected surprise, he thought I would like a little Bantam hen and rooster. They were tiny and cute. I took them and instantly fell in love. I named her Henny Penny after children’s stories I read, and him Cock A Doodle-for obvious reasons.

Having cats that were bigger than the Bantams presented a problem. The cats treated the Bantams like toys. When attacked by the cats, they ran and flew to me. Sometimes they flew on the backs of the horses. Surprisingly, the horses did not mind them on their backs. I scooped them up and held them safely from the cats. It was obvious these two little ones were someone’s pets and hand raised.

One day we could not find Cock A Doodle. We thought the worst happened. I left for work sad to say good – bye to him. Later that evening, my friend called to tell me he was working in the vegetable garden and suddenly he heard a cock a doodle doo and turned to see that little rooster strutting his way. He was fine and had been hiding from the cats.

There’s amazing math involved in chicken procreation. These two little birds had many little Henny’s and little Doodle’s. Eventually I had 30 chickens and roosters.

Also, the six chickens and one rooster I was supposed to have received turned out to be six roosters and one chicken. She did lay wonderful and delicious eggs, but the boys did not stay, they fight. So much for someone knowing the difference between chickens and roosters at that young age. It can be challenging.


Share your story with us




New Contest for Writers

Invite all your friends- $50.00 cash or gift card for the winning story about your favorite holiday memory. Contest if for 200-800 words. Deadline is December 20, 2016. Submit all stories to The winning one will be posted on Facebook.


Cocker Spaniel Puppy Pictures From Our 2004 Litter:

I found my Cocker Spainiel pup, Harvey, in Amish country. Unfortunately, he was never vaccinated. I am usually careful to avoid exposing young pups to older dogs or dogs that are not well until the pup is older and vaccinated, however, it was a busy time in my life. When Harvey came to work with me at a local veterinary clinic, he became ill with parvo virus.

I first learned of the devastating disease of parvo in dogs in the early 80’s when the virus was first identified. Vaccines were quickly created and decreased the incidence of the disease as well as decreased the loss of pets.
Parvo is a virus that infects the cells in the intestinal tract of a dog. This causes severe diarrhea with blood, vomiting, and loss of appetite. The intestinal damage is devastating in itself, however, parvo is a virus that attacks and lowers the white blood cells in a dog’s body. Since white blood cells are the cells that help fight infection, dogs with parvo are at risk for serious infections- such as pneumonia or sepsis (infection in the blood). These infections are the usual reason pets infected with parvo virus are lost. Parvo virus may also attack a young pup’s heart. When this happens, there is no treatment for the injury to the heart.
Harvey became sick. I was worried. He not only had diarrhea, his pooh was pure blood. I started his therapy- IV’s and antibiotics as well as medication to stop the vomiting- which is not usually effective. Harvey battled parvo for 8 days. He had an IV in one front leg for 4 days and then the other leg for the next 4 days. He held his little leg out and let the fluids go into his body. I watched him day and night. I placed an IV pole by my bed, placed plastic on the bed to prevent soiling, and shined my flashlight at the fluid bag to make certain the IV’s dripped all night. For days, Harvey sat on the side of the bed heaving and vomiting.
He was sick so long I did not think he would survive, but after 8 days, he stopped vomiting, his stool improved, and he began eating. There were no obvious indications of damage to his intestines or heart after he recovered. He played and enjoyed a normal life. He beat the odds.
I have treated many pets for parvo virus infection. Some are happy endings like Harvey and some endings are heartbreaking for owners. I always advise owners Ito vaccinate all pups. Even with controversy over vaccines, it is the best way to prevent this major disease in dogs.
Share your story with us.


The Most Beautiful of All

Gregory Sweeney - Cute Baby Manatee

When I first came to Florida, everything was new and exciting fabulous. After years of being here it is all still exciting and fabulous.

There are scary things like poisonous snakes- coral snakes, rattlesnakes, and others – along with alligators and bears, but there are also sweet little critters. During one visit to a local spring and walking on a boardwalk, mom and I spotted an Armadillo rooting around in the leaves. As he made his way towards us, he looked up at everyone looking down at him, seemed to wonder what we all were looking at, then nonchalantly proceeded to continue his quest to find bugs and other meal items in the ground and surrounding foliage. I thought he was darling. He was not as enamored with us and we were with him.

Turtles are another of my favorites of the day. I have watched gopher turtles come in and out of their holes as well as rescued babies off streets. I also love painted turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks. Once I rescued an alligator snapper from the dangers of the road. He was quite quick at snapping my shoe when it was close to his mouth. I was wise enough to keep my fingers away. While kayaking in a spring run near Gainesville, I spotted a baby turtle- he was about the size of a silver dollar. Cutest little guy. I wanted a picture, so I pulled my kayak close- he darted under water because he had no idea I am the nicest person and would never dream of hurting him. He periodically surfaced to see if I was still close. When he saw me, he immediately withdrew back under the water. Even with constant assurances from me, he refused to allow me to take a photo. Sea turtles hatching and running to the ocean are also my favorites. I guess I have many favorites.

We see eagles everywhere. One day I saw one land on Daytona Beach. Others suggested I had seen an Osprey. I was certain it was an eagle. The all white head and feathers on his legs that looked like trousers and a stance that is unique to the eagle- like he means business- are all clues I had spotted an eagle. Gorgeous is a word for these creatures. One bird rescue in a town around Orlando has eagles as well. One of their eagles was found as an orphan who was 1 day old when found out of the nest. They raised him and cannot turn him safely to the wild, so they care for him. We have the wonderful opportunity to visit this beautiful guy.

Pelicans arrive each day at the ocean to fish for breakfast. They glide in the sky and over the waves. When they spot an enticing meal, they dive directly into the water. I could watch them all day. When visiting the Florida Keys, we stay at a campground that has pelicans close. They wait for us and other campers to bring our fish for cleaning in hopes for an easy meal.

But my all time favorites are the manatees. I visited Florida for years trying to get a look at one in person. Finally, I have seen them up close and personal. In fact, one morning mom and I walked over to the  spring near our home- the fountain of youth, as Ponce DeLeon described the springs in Florida. While standing on the boat dock,  a family of manatees came close- a male, female, and baby. What a unbelievable treat. Right in front of us- a reach out and touch moment. The gentle sea cows are social and beautiful. I understand it is a federal offense to touch them, but some things can be very difficult to resist. These are memories for a lifetime.

Share  your story of fabulous moments with us.