Scarlett Has Arrived!

Tonight I will be doing something that I felt I have not done in awhile: heading to a party. And to make things even more interesting: the party that I am going to is one that have decided to throw. Tonight is the official release party for The Tail of Scarlett and I am so excited that there will be so many people there joining me in celebrating her life, but I also want to kind of use the occasion as a way for everyone to be able to celebrate the lives of their own pets as well, no matter whether they have passed on or not, or even what kind of animal companion they were to begin with. All of our pet friends deserve love whether they be furry, feathered, or scaly. 

“When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.” ~ANTHONY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS

Should you wish to purchase a copy of The Tail of Scarlett the book will be available through these distribution channels:

The createspace estore: https://www.createspace.com/5984189 as well as Amazon. And for those of us that are a bit more modern, The Tail of Scarlett will eventually be making its way to your Kindles as well.

Keep your tail waggin!

Advertisements

I Wish Rainbow Bridge Had Visiting Hours

I came across the title for this next blog post while I was surfing over the Internet and thought it was most definitely a fitting title. It made me wonder what it would actually be like if Rainbow Bridge did have visiting hours and what would I do if I got to go there and visit all of my animal friends that have passed in the last few years. I volunteer at my local zoo here in Atlanta and there have been many instances over my ten year stint here where several of my animal friends have made the passage over Rainbow Bridge and I miss each and every single one of them. HOWEVER, since I can’t just pop over there and do that, I decided to try something else and I thought that it would be a good idea to share it with anyone who might be reading this post in the hopes that it might help someone else. Actually, I kind of did (and still do) more than one so I am going to make a short list.

SOME IDEAS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU ARE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF AN ANIMAL FRIEND: 

1.) Write them a letter. That’s right, I said write them a letter. Sometimes putting your feelings down in writing helps to sort them out, and I think the best part is you can write about pretty much anything that you want. Write about how you felt when your friend passed, write about your most favorite memories, you can even write about things that you are doing right now. And the other great part is that you can do it whenever you feel like it. When Scarlett passed away, I wrote quite a few letters myself. Spend a couple of minutes of each day writing and it might help make you feel better.

2.) Join a support group. I know it might sound rather silly, having a support group for pets. I mean, they’re not people, right? But I know as much as anyone reading this knows that our pets are our family, and we will grieve for them as much as we would any human family member when it’s time for them to make the crossing over Rainbow Bridge. There are actually several online websites where those who are seeking support can go to if they need help:

And those are just a few of them. Also, this blog is meant to be a place for those that are doing their best to come to terms with the loss of their animal friends as well, so you may think of it as a kind of support group as well. Sometimes, just talking to someone can feel like you’ve had a great burden lifted off of your chest.

3.) Write a book. Hey, that’s what I did, and although there are still days where I still find it rather hard, writing a book helped me manage to work out some of my feelings and it gave me something to focus on. Now, I’m not asking you to go out there and write the next New York Times bestseller, but a book is a great thing to put memories down in. You could even make it into a scrapbook if you wanted.

4.) Have a memorial. Have a memorial for your pet and invite those that are closest to you. It doesn’t just have to be a solemn occasion either, have a party! Have a party, and celebrate the life of your pet. After all, I don’t think they would want you to be sad.

5.) Get another pet. Now, I’m not saying that you should try and replace the pet that you lost. After all, the ones we lose can never truly be replaced. But it might be of some help, especially if you have other pets at home who might also be missing them (they were their friends to you know). You will never replace the friend you lost, but by providing a home for another you are possibly giving an animal a second chance that might not have gotten to have one otherwise.

I am going to end this post by saying that I might not be a certified expert, but I do hope that this small list will prove to be of help to someone. Please feel free to leave comments in the comment section (this is, after all, a place of support for those in need as well). Also, I am going to try and experiment with something. There is a website called Viral Style which allows for customers to come up with campaigns where they can sell products to make money. I have decided to start my own campaign to help endangered rhinos! My goal is to sell at least 50 t-shirts by March 5th. 50% of the profits made from t-shirt sells will be going to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to aid in their efforts to protect the local endangered rhino populations that live there.

Here is the link to the campaign: Save a Horny Friend!

To learn more about Lewa click here.

THANKS!

Always keep your tail waggin’!

Gail

 

I Remember Ivan

I feel like there are many individuals that a person will meet throughout their life. The memories we have of some of those individuals may fade with time, but there will always be those that remain steadfast. There will always be a few of those individuals that manage to stick out and stay in our hearts, even after they’re gone.

Ivan was one of those individuals. As you can see from the photo, Ivan was no person. He was not even a pet. He was, in fact, a gorilla (and if you want to know WHICH gorilla, he’s the big guy on the left. The other one was Ivan’s female companion, Kinyani, who now resides at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio). I knew Ivan for six years, although I know people who knew him even better, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit him quite frequently. I guess you could say he was a bit of a curmudgeon. He hated the rain, and he certainly hated the wet ground that came as a result of it. In fact, he hated the wet ground so much that he would often take a burlap back outside into his enclosure just so that he could sit and scoot around on it without getting wet. But, he was a very gentle soul on the inside, and his caretakers loved him.

Ivan actually has quite the story behind him, and I would not be surprised if some reader stumbled across this post and actually already knew him. Ivan was born in Africa and was brought to the United States when he was just a baby in the early 1960’s. The family that owned him owned a shopping mall in Washington State, and at first he lived in a private home, but when he became too big he was actually moved into an enclosure inside the mall. He would spend the next 30 years of his life there. Finally, after years of campaigning by the public who had become much more aware of the fact that gorillas did not belong in shopping malls, Ivan was moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1994 where he would have a large outdoor habitat to enjoy as well as the companionship of other gorillas. Unfortunately, Ivan never produced any offspring. For, although he liked being around the other gorillas, he seemed to like being around his human caretakers even more (oftentimes a byproduct of an animal being raised by humans is that they often do not know how to be the animal that they should be). Animals at the zoo are often provided with things for what is known as enrichment (things that keep the animals stimulated both mentally and physically), and Ivan was no different. Ivan was often very gentle with his toys and he showed a great affinity towards certain things. One time Ivan was even given a Gumby doll, a toy which he became very attached to. Of course, I knew then that he was going to have a Gumby then he would just HAVE to have a Pokey and I immediately went out and bought him one. I was very happy to hear how much he enjoyed playing with it (and even sleeping with it!) later on.

Another of Ivan’s favorite past times believe it or not was painting, and he would often “sign” his paintings with a thumbprint. He would often get very excited whenever it was time to break out the paints and he was apparently quite artistic with his drawings. He passed away at the age of 50 in 2012.

A fictional account of Ivan’s life was penned in a book, The One and Only Ivan  by Katherine Applegate (you might know her as K.A. Applegate of Animorphs fame), and the true account was written in the children’s book Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, also by Applegate. The first one went on to when the Newberry Medal. When Ivan passed his ashes were taken home to Washington State and the plan is to place them inside a memorial statue of his likeness which will one day stand outside the front entrance of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Animals have a way of shaping our lives and Ivan was certainly proof of that. But what Ivan was also proof of was the fact that we, human beings, also have the power to shape theirs and to make them better. And that goes for ALL ANIMALS.

 

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to hit me up in the comments and discuss your own animal stories. Who knows? I might find some of you out there who knew Ivan as well (he did have quite a few fans here in Atlanta as well as back home in Washington).

Remember, keep your tail waggin’!

 

Gail

To the Pet Store Batman!

My sister and I took a trip to our local Petsmart along with my niece yesterday because I need to pick up some supplies for Cupcake, my betta fish (hey, I let the five year old name it, alright? She said he looked like a cupcake with sprinkles so there). While we were there, there were several pet rescues who had brought along dogs and cats there available for adoption.  I actually have not been in close contact with any dogs since Scarlett passed. Part of the reason is simply because there were no dogs for me to be around, and I think another part of the reason has been that I was not quite sure I was even ready, and even today I don’t know if I have an accurate description for the feelings that were coming up inside me. My niece was allowed to interact with a few of the dogs that were there and the only way I know to describe myself while I was watching her do so was disconnected, not exactly sure what would happen if I myself reached out to pet one of those dogs. Has anyone else ever experienced anything like that?

With that over, I went about what business I need to take care of on the opposite end of the store and we left. Later on in the evening, we were at another store doing some more shopping when my mother came across a firey orange male Betta fish that she decided to name Blaze, and he now has a nice home in our living room. Bettas are cool little pets to have around, and can be quite fun if you take care of them properly. I have had several Bettas (both male and female) over the years and I have loved every single one of them and they each had their own little personalities to boot. There was Blue, who was my very first, and Bella who was my first female. I remember I had to keep her in a tank with a secure lid on it because she was prone to jumping (I learned how to catch real quick), and then there was Bruiser who was so aptly named due to the fact that he was literally black and blue….and so on and so forth. Each one was well loved and they all lived very full lifespans. It just so happens that right now Cupcake and Blaze are the current Betta kings in this household. I will try and post pictures of the two of them when I can manage it as sometimes taking pictures of fish can be actually be a bit tricky, but I will do the best that I can.

In the meantime, keep your tail waggin’, and please feel free to leave me a comment!

-Gail

Taking Puppy Steps

Everyone has lost someone, and although the cause of those losses might be different, the grief we all go through is the same. In January of 2015, I lost my best friend. We had known each other since I was 14 and we literally did everything together. If you ever saw us together you would probably wonder, “how on earth could possibly have anything in common?” And you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. We were quite different, Scarlett and I, although there were some things that were the same. We were both very reserved around new people and new things, we liked the same foods (sharing meals was a favorite pastime of ours), and we both loved kicking soccer balls around in the backyard.

The only difference between was this: Scarlett was a dog. A 75 lb. German shepherd dog/Labrador retriever/Chow chow mix to be exact. She stayed by my side for 13 years, and passed away peacefully in my arms on January 3, 2015 after suffering neurological damage. But how is the loss of a pet different from losing a human loved one? “it’s just a dog/cat” they say. “It’s just an animal, you can get another one.” The truth is it’s not. Scarlett was with me everyday for 13 years. Sometimes is with you everyday for that long and then suddenly it’s not there anymore you’re going to miss it. I still feel sad every time I open the door and my best friend is not barreling into the room to greet me, sniffing and snorting, or I don’t hear the vacuum-like noise of her nose sniffing from the other side of the back door. It’s no different.

Therefore, I decided that I wanted to find a way to try and help others who might be experiencing, or have experienced the same thing I have and began looking around for inspiration. I immediately thought of my 5 yr. old niece and realized, Scarlett was her best friend too, and with that in mind I decided that the best thing to do would be to write a book geared towards children, because children experience loss too (although it is also my hope that adults will find some comfort from it as well). It’s been a long road, one I’m still walking. But I know I’m not walking alone, and I want everyone else to know that they are not walking alone either. It all starts with puppy steps.

The Tail of Scarlett will soon be arriving on February 28, 2016.