Fifteen months after the beginning of my Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma illness, with treatment and non-stop worrying, I finally felt good enough to take a trip. Also with my mother now being cared for in a nursing facility, I booked a trip to Florida to visit my dear friend, Jill, the amazing friend who nursed me back to life last year.
Here are some fun highlights from my visit:
He’s a Miracle
And that’s also his name: Miracle. He’s a Pitt Bull/Terrier mix who’s endured inexplicable suffering with details that no one needs or wants to hear about. And unless Miracle begins to talk, no one will ever know exactly what he’s been through.
It’s probably better that way.
This gentle soul was abused, mistreated, neglected and found nearly dead on the side of a road in Miami a few months ago. The Angels gently scooped him up and have worked tirelessly to bring him to good health. They have convinced him that there are good people in the world who love him unconditionally, and continue to work towards righting the wrongs that have been done to him. The organization that attracts brave, loving, and committed people who make it their mission to save abused and abandoned dogs is called Everglades Angels Dog Rescue (EADR).
Jill is the Volunteer Coordinator at EADR. The group organizes response and mission teams, and networks with other local rescue organizations. They gather in groups during early morning hours with the intent of freeing another dog from having to fight for their life, alone on the streets, farms, and dangerous forests and swamps. They’ve learned that the Everglades are dumping grounds for unwanted dogs, a place that is inherently dangerous and filled with alligators. A place that cowardly people use to discard helpless creatures, and somehow, turn around and walk away.
The lucky dogs that get to ride away from this horrible existence are vetted, fed, cleaned, and loved. Some are fostered in private homes and some stay in comfortable and clean kennels at a local veterinarian until they find their new families, the one’s they deserved from the beginning.
Miracle’s left arm was so badly injured that it no longer works. He’s been involved with extensive physical therapy, including pool therapy to determine if there’s any chance for reviving this paw, but there isn’t. So, he’s scheduled for an amputation next week. He’ll no longer trip on this useless leg.
I had the pleasure of meeting him and sitting on the floor with him. He’s still apprehensive about people and their motives, but has come a long way.
There are only good things and people in this dog’s future.
The Angels will see to that.
It’s a bit of a secret. The wild monkeys of South Florida. They’re thought to have escaped or been released by a tourist attraction or a lab in the 1950’s and have formed an enduring colony in a mangrove forest. And unlike the organized hunting of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades who were irresponsibly released, have procreated, and pose a threat to humans, the monkeys are not on the authority’s list for removal. They are managed, though, and people are forbidden to feed or closely interact with them. We parked our car near the forest and looked high and low for a tail, some fur, or a monkey face through the trees and brush, and shockingly, we looked up and found a monkey checking us out almost right above our heads. It was a magical moment.
Party: Southern Florida Style
Since Jill moved to south Florida almost 2 years ago, she’s visited many road-side stands and wondered about the taste of many of the interesting fruits that are grown in the south. During my visit, she was scheduled to go to a party that friends were hosting and thought about using this opportunity to try several exotic fruits with her friends. This would be her contribution to the gathering. So, we went shopping and picked out things that were strange-looking and had unusual names. We also found a pamphlet that listed several of them with descriptions, and we cut out each one and taped it to a toothpick and placed it with its fruit so we and the party-goers would know what we were eating. It was fun picking them out, arranging them for the party, and tasting them. Now, when someone asks “What does so and so taste like?”, we can answer with experience.
The Ancient Art of Kite Flying
Growing up, we had a huge field behind our house that was devoid of trees and power lines. We’d get our rudimentary kites out, let out some line, and begin running as fast as we could to lift the kite in to the air while letting string out. Sometimes it worked, but often, we had to engage in many launch attempts before the kite lifted and flew in the wind.
As I planned my trip to Florida, I thought how much fun it would be to fly a kite again. So I ordered some kites through Amazon and had them delivered to Jill’s. I was fortunate enough to get to the beach twice to fly, and was wonderfully surprised to find that I didn’t have to run. The wind on the beach is perfect for kite flying, and all I had to do was raise the kite up as far as my arm extended, let go, and the wind took it. I eventually got all of the string out and my colorful glider was flying high. The little people we passed were mesmerized by the flying object, and if their mom’s allowed, they got to experience the magic of flying…with a little help from me.
We did a lot of quieter things too, like reading, walking, crossword puzzles and swimming in the pool. A perfect escape.