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“Sit, and Stay,” are  important commands used by dog owners to direct and lead their active and inquisitive pups, but during my four week stay down here in Big Pine Key, I’ve used those directives on myself to keep focused on enjoying the slow pace of the days here, that collectively seem to race by in a blur.

Rise, eat, exercise, write, are the activities that command most of my time here.  With so few distractions, it’s easy to settle down to this laid back rythym of life here.  And of course, when visitors arrive, it’s always fun to explore new sights, or to see the local landscape with new eyes, or meet new people.  With the ongoing research and writing about National Dog Week, it’s not hard to find great sources of inspiration in this dog-loving place.  Around each corner it seems I meet dedicated dog devotees eager to unleash their dog “tails.”

On Saturday, Rich, Hooper, and I paid a visit to the Yard Sale held to benefit the Big Pine Bark Park.  There, we met in person, Michele, Amy, and Sandy, dog-loving volunteers who are working hard to raise the $20,000 needed to complete the park.  Hooper also met their dogs, Coral, Fathom, and Ellie Mae, all patiently waiting for their chance to run off-leash in their new park.  The Yard Sale is just one of many events planned for this effort.  An event held at Boondocks on April 11 will feature an exciting auction of big ticket items, and of course, the Florida Keys Triple Slam fishing tournament to be held in conjunction with Reef Light Tackle of Big Pine Key will take place on May 21-23 (Please note the correction from my last post).  The contact for the event is Donna Hart, and the number for RLT is (305) 872-7679.

As it so happens, Donna has been living right next door to me all month.  Donna and her husband, Buddy are great dog-lovers themselves, with five living under their roof.  Jilly and Choco are big labs, Kahlua and Lulu the tiny Chihuahuas, and then there is little Cruiser, a Yorkipoo.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know them all.  The other night, at the BPK Moose Lodge, we had the pleasure of meeting Mike, and Hambone, his sweet dachsund rescued from a shelter in Key Largo.  Hambone was so quiet, sharing a seat with his owner, I hardly knew he was there.  Sunday afternoon, Rich and I tracked down the elusive Geiger Key Marina and Smokehouse located about a mile down Boca Chica Road.  Geiger Key is very dog-friendly with its “Quiet Beach,” aka “Secret Beach,” aka, “Magic Beach.”  After a romp on “those beaches,” with your best four-legged friend, stop at the Geiger Marina for a glass of wine, a beer, and some good food, dog in tow.  Sitting at the bar were owners Bobby Mongelli, and his lovely wife Michelle, and their adorable little Min-pin, Yorkie mix, Wheezey.  Michelle and Bobby are also the propietors of the Hogfish Bar and Grill located on Stock Island, another dog-friendly Key eatery.  Not to be outdone, sitting on his very own bar stool, sporting a bright pink Geiger Key bandana was a little Chihuahua with a big attitude named Pike (upon my return North, a photo gallery of all these adorable pups will be on display).

Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week wrote about how dogs in an ideal world, would love to be with us around the clock.  In 1949, Judy wrote, “He [the dog] can’t go with you to your work in the morning-but he never gives up hope.  He’s at the door, saying “Come on, let’s go.”  Judy further explained how it felt to be shamed by the glances of disappointment given by “a good soldier,” that obeys the order to stay, and then conceals that disappointment.  I think every dog owner can relate to that timeless story.

 Although we don’t take Hooper with us wherever we go, it is nice to know that when we travel with her down here, we can bring her into most establishments, which is not something I can say for my home state of New Jersey.  In our travels from Amelia Island, St. Augustine, down to the Keys, we are so impressed by the way dogs are welcome in most instances, and by the work being down on behalf of dogs, and their welfare, in these vicinities.

So, as we pack up, and head North to Jersey in two days, we take away all these dog-friendly memories, “Key” ingredients for a project to be shared with the world in the not too distance future. 

Are you a dog-lover that is planning something nice for canines for National Dog Week, observed the last week of September?  If so, please let me know!  Are the Florida Keys, and the east coast of this state, the dog-friendliest places in the entire nation?  Please feel free to weigh in with your comments about dog-friendly places in your own back yards.  A great site to read more on this topic  is BringFido.com.

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Michele Adams came to Big Pine Key via Los Angeles in 2001, her Lab-mix, Bubba, in tow.  Upon her arrival, her goal was to  establish a cage-free doggie day care facility in the Lower Keys.

Along the way, however, her life took another path, and soon, Michele, with a background in the food and drink industry, found herself working at Little Palm Island, and later as a sales rep for a fine wine distributor.  However, Michele, a trained dog behaviorist, would eventually find a way to combine her love of wine, water, food, and animals in a way that would benefit her own dogs, Fathom, and Coral (Bubba passed of old age three years ago) and other canines that called Big Pine Key home.

Together with fellow dog-lovers  Amy Bressem, a Production Technician with the News Barometer, and Sandra Tuttle, a local realtor, Michele set out to develop a dog park in Big Pine Key.  “We got tired of having to travel up to Marathon’s dog park (opened in November 2009) or to the one down in Key West to let our dogs run off leash,” explains Michele, the President of the Big Pine Bark Park board. 

To that end, this board, along with a bunch of dedicated volunteers, have been busy raising funds to make the dog park a reality.  Michele and her group hope to be able to fetch the twenty thousand dollars needed to get the park, and its dogs, up and running by the end of this summer.  With fun events like a Nautical Flea Market, yard sales, and a Super Bowl Party, Michele is confident that the dogs of Big Pine will be running free on schedule!

To-date, only  $2,500 has been raised, however, an upcoming event at Boondocks promises to be fun and successful.  On April 11th, five bands will perform, and large ticket items like a weekend at the Casa Marina Resort, a car, a pair of kayaks, and a boat, will be among the big ticket  items to be auctioned off that day.   “This event should easily bring in $10,000 towards our ulitmate goal,” says Michele.

And what will $20,000.00 mean to the dogs of Big Pine Key?  According to this dog-loving fundraiser, a well-maintained, fully fenced dog run complete with signage, pavers, and its own source of water.  Michele points out that the Big Pine Bark Park aims to be a gathering place for well-behaved canine citizens that can socialize off-leash in a way that makes them, and their humans happy when all rules are followed.  In this case, the park is located on private property, and after gaining approval by Monroe County, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, most obstacles have been overcome.  The board is working closely with the former to make sure those who enjoy the priveleges of the dog park co-exist in balance with local wildlife, including the Key deer population.

Other events planned include a Bake Sale on May 1, and a Fishing Tournament to be held in conjunction with Reef Light Tackle of Big Pine Key May 22-24th.  It’s always great to see people coming together to make their community a better place for animals, and the humans that care for them, during National Dog Week, observed the last full week in September, and the other 51 weeks of the year. 

 A yard sale to benefit the Bark Park will take place this Saturday, March 27th, from 7am to 1pm at the Watson Field in Big Pine Key.  If you wish to donate items for the yard sale or the event at Boondocks on April 11th, please contact Michele at 305-849-1270 or Amy at 3o4-0708 or reach them at BigPineBarkPark@aol.com.

Okay, usually I sit down and carefully outline my postings.  But today, after enjoying a very warm, balmy Sunday on the beautiful beach at Bahia Honda, I just think I’ll wing it.  My days here in the Florida Keys are numbered, and I am appreciating quality time spent with family, so please excuse me if I just sum up some of the “events” of the last few days.

The other day, we took my nephew Zac to the Blue Hole in Big Pine Key, a special place I wrote about just a few days ago.  It’s always fun to share a favorite little sanctuary with another nature lover.  While there, we listened to a volunteer speak enthusiastically about a place he cared so much about.  While we waited for the “new” alligator to make her appearance, we watched as a variety of rather large turtles competed for prime sunning space on a large rock right in front of us.  Zac, with the smart ass humor of a 28 year-old said, “hey, you can put this in your blog!”  So here I am, doing just that. When we asked about the resident alligator, our volunteer explained she was doing well, and had even managed to attract a mate who is rumored to be a big guy.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, neither one made themselves available for our viewing pleasure.

Yesterday, we enjoyed watching pelicans, and egrets fish in a tidal pool at the end of the road, and then we were greeted by a young iguana sitting on our fence.  And don’t forget about those adorable tiny Key deer that can jump out of the forest at anytime, without warning.  Hooper likes to chase them if she gets the opportunity, but that is not encouraged, and it is not safe.  A neighbor told me that recently, a deer delivered a swift kick to a beagle’s head, causing a concussion.  It’s always wise to keep a dog on a leash no matter how quiet a place seems.

And of course, Hooper is enjoying her extra long walks here, free of the snow and ice she was becoming accustomed to up north this winter.  Yesterday, walking down the road, I was telling my sister how dog-friendly this place was.  Then, as if on cue, a large car rolled up to us.  The driver, a man, rolled down his window and asked if Hooper was a Portuguese water dog.  I confirmed that she was, and he said, “she looks awfully thin, don’t you feed that dog?”  Then, with a big smile, he tossed a large dog biscuit at her paws, and drove away laughing.  Yesterday, Hooper quietly met the mail woman as she deliver our mail.  Before leaving, she tossed a Snausage toward my appreciative dog.  Earlier that day, a sweet older couple offered Hooper a dog treat as they walked past us.  I think Hooper is coming to expect this treatment around every corner!

Around the corner from where we’re staying, there is a miniature “tiki bar” structure in front of a house.  The sign on it announces, “Dog Watering Hole.”  It seems in this place, a dog can have a hang out of its very own.  Big Pine Key always brings surprises, and an opportunity to enjoy a place that is so unique, it really puts the “vacate” in vacation.

But as relaxing as it is here, it also presents a great opportunity to write, and that is something I certainly have done.  My recent postings on HARO.com (Help A Reporter Out) have  introduced some interesting and knowledgable contacts, providing some great inspiration, and information for my National Dog Week project.  Some days all it takes is an enthusiastic “follower” to keep me going as I try to wrap things up. 

Just down the road from here there is a key called No Name Key, with its famous No Name Key Pub, with its walls covered with thousands of dollar bills.  So, in the spirit of a place that just never got around to naming itself, I leave you on a carefree note at the end of a perfect weekend.

Note to David, we really have missed your return visit.  Hope the tree clean up from that nasty storm is going well, and that you’re using this “quiet time” to keep up with the business of polishing those novels.

As I mix up a bowl of cornbeef and kibble for Hooper on this rainy Big Pine Key morning, I wish a beautiful, sunny, and calm day for the nation, especially for my friends and family up, and around,  New York City, as they prepare for the big St. Pat’s Day parade!

My sister, will be arriving tomorrow to Big Pine, seeking refuge from the recent “no name” storm that swept the Northeast and  felt like a hurricane.  She and David lost several “ancient” trees, one actually came through the bay window of their beautiful home built in the late 1920s.  It’s been a horrific winter up there and they certainly need a break.  My husband and I endured three of the four major snowstorms, so we were glad to have missed that one!

Rich, and his nephew, Eric Hansen, visiting from Tuckerton, NJ, have headed north to Marathon to try to get some fishing in.  His wife, Gail, and I, contemplate how we might spend the day celebrating The Wearing of the Green.  Wherever we may go, Hooper is likely to be welcome, as I have written before, the Florida Keys are one of the most dog friendly places I know.

On sunny and warm days, Rich and I might take a drive up to Marathon with our dog, letting her swim and romp on beautiful Sombrero Beach.  After, we might stop at the Dockside Bar for a bite, and a few drinks, a leashed Hooper content and napping beneath our feet as we survey a motley crew of boaters and golfers.  Or, we might even cross the Overseas Highway and lunch at the Keys Fisheries, where a bowl of cool clean water and some dog biscuits might be offered to a weary Hooper.

Leashing Leprachauns! Yesterday, down at the famous Schooner Wharf Bar, in Key West, we watched as a local sauntered up to the bar, his little dachsund craddled in his arms. The dog with his soulful eyes, rested its chin on the bar as if to ask, “what’s on tap?”  Earlier, at the “Dog’s Breath” Saloon, I had to convince a couple with their hot, and tired Golden retriever that it really was okay to bring their dog into that establishment.  A “come-on-in” wave from the bartender finally did the trick.

The late great legendary dog trainer, Captain Arthur Haggerty must have enjoyed celebrating St. Pat’s Day.  Growing up the product of an Irish, dog-loving family in the Bronx, New York, his father, and grandfather appropriately breeders of Irish setters.  Did you know that there are many dog breeds that hail from the Emerald Isle?  The Irish, Kerry Blue, and Glen of Imaal terriers, the Irish setter, Irish water spaniel (which Hooper the Portuguese water dog is claiming to be today), the Kerry beagle, irish wolfhound (the world’s tallest dog), and the Irish Red and White setter that made it’s Westminster debut this February.

On this one day of the year, I think every dog, like every human, claims to have a little Irish in them (my mother’s ancestors hail from the Derring, Whalens of County Clare), and my man Rich has a healthy dose of Leprachaun in his gene pool.  So get out those green bandanas and doggy vests, and emeral encrusted collars and leashes and go for an extra long jaunt  through a wide field of four-legged clover. 

Notes on “The Blog” – Josh Abrams is the Founder and CEO of Dogasaur.com, a “dog-centric social media community” for people who are passionate about their pooches.  In the coming days, you’ll learn more about this man, who in addition to launching this successful site two years ago, has trained over 100 service dogs as the CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) Participant Coordinator for the entire Northeast region of the United States. Keep reading to learn more about these special people who dedicate their lives to enhancing the dog-human connection.

In the process or researching, writing, and submitting a book about National Dog Week, I am reminded of the movie The Wizard of Oz.  Like Dorothy, and Toto, Hooper and I have come to know places far from familiar territory.  Hooper’s image can now be seen worldwide, and each day, I am contacted, or reach out to, individuals in worlds I have not been part of until now.

Like Dorothy following her yellow brick road, around each turn I meet “characters” that wish to join me on my journey.  Each, like the scarecrow, tin man, and lion, bring brainy ideas, a lot of heart, and give me the courage when I’m off to see “The Wizard,” which in my case is a publisher, or literary agent!  In a writer’s world that is often fraught with rejection, dismissiveness, and skepticism, courage is a much desired, and necessary quality. 

Intelligence, heart, and courage; all of these characteristics were evident in the late, great, Captain Arthur Haggerty, perhaps no more so when in 2005, he set out to pay tribute to his hero, William Judy, and his goals for National Dog Week.  In launching a web site for this observance, Haggerty sought to have National Dog Week honored in a way it had been in the past.  Unfortunately, the original site is no longer available to all us us, taken over by a commercial dog supplier who probably never heard of Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week (invitation to prove me wrong, here)!  

Reading my treasured, worn copy of Haggerty’s site, I am always inspired to carry on with my book, even when I am discouraged by nay sayers, and people who just don’t get it.  This legendary dog trainer to the stars truly spoke to the every man, seeing every single person as an instrument to do some good in the world, especially when it came to dogs.

Intelligence, heart, courage, easy to define, and spot, right?  But apparently, those qualities are in the eye of the beholder.  Take for instance, the fact that NFL star Michael Vick, has been chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles to receive the Ed Block Courage Award in March.  This award, established for a man who worked on behalf of abused and neglected children, is awarded each year by team mates of each NFL team,  to a player who has overcome insurrmountable difficultes.  In this case, Mr. Vick.

Understandably, this has enraged PETA, and dog lovers everywhere.  For those who don’t know, last July, Michael Vick was released from prison after serving time for his participation in illegal dog fighting rings, a nasty, senseless side-business for this misunderstood, “underpaid” athelete.  According to Vick’s friends and team mates (and press agent?), Vick has done his time and is remorseful for his mistakes, reaching out to young people to educate them in proper ways to treat animals.

We can all stomp around, being outraged, cursing Vick, wanting him to be treated like the dogs he maimed and killed.  But in this nation, big money, and big sports rule, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.  Instead, take all that energy and start planning something positive for this year’s National Dog Week in September, just about when football season is really getting started.  The bigger problem may be that we, as a nation, have forgotten about the real role models of the world, like the person who put something as meaningful as National Dog Week on the American calendar.  Now, you can say that you know about this seven day salute to the canine and bring to light all the work that still has to be done for the dogs of the nation.

William Lewis  Judy, while condeming Vick’s actions, would perhaps call upon his training in the ministry to find forgiveness for Michael Vick, but I don’t think he would forget.  And neither should we.

Coming soon, an interview with Josh Abrams, founder of dog-friendly website, Dogasaur!

Here in the Florida Keys, I am always impressed by the amount of fundraising that takes place just about every weekend; well-attended events that generously benefit both humans and animals.

When I learned about one such event called Woofstock you know I had to go.  By the time we got to Woofstock, my husband was not in such a great mood.  I should have known that the 50 minute ride up to Islamorada on a beautiful sunny Saturday would be like taking a trip to the Jersey shore on the Garden State Parkway on a weekend in July.  Once we got there, however, Rich mellowed amid hundreds of happy pups, and a beer tent.

The local paper described “Woofstock” as a “far out festival” for dogs. The event, sponsored by MarrVelous Pet Rescues (MPR) in the Upper Keys promised a day filled with music, food, wine, and dogs.  What could be better? 

Organizers, Joy Martin, and Michele Beach, local businesswomen, and animal lovers, felt that there was a need for an organized event to benefit animal welfare in the area.  Michele, a realtor, founded MPR after discovering a litter of puppies abandoned in the hot Florida sun.  All puppies were eventually placed in good homes, but Michele was inspired to become an advocate for abused and abandoned dogs when a small fund raising event was held to cover a vet’s bill incurred for the care of the pups. 

Woofstock lived up to its promise.  Oodles of poodles, tons of terriers, Goldens galore, and a multitude of mixed-breeds peacefully mingled with their humans on the grounds of Founder’s Park in beautiful Islamorada.  Massive mastifs towered over yipping Yorkies.  A man walking a Blood Hound explained his dog, Ruby, was on the scent of her two siblings that were somewhere in the park.  Eight musical groups performed on a main stage, while over fifty vendors displayed goods, and services, for both dog and human. There were dog professionals who painted dog portraits, sold pet cemetary plots, offered to pilot your pet to designated destinations, and promoted dog-friendly resorts.

 Among the groups with booths at the event were Stand Up for Animals (of the Lower Keys), This is The Dog, the Upper Keys Humane Society, and No Pets Left Behind.  Other activities included agility performances, the Blessing of the Pets, a Far Out Talent Contest, grooming demonstrations, Search and Rescue Drills, a Hippie Dog/Owner Costume Contest, and mini-workshops about dog nutrition, breeding, and breed information.

One of the most important aspects of the festival was finding homes for dogs that had none by staging a “Mutt Strut” through the park, a sweet parade of dogs wearing vests that declared “Adopt Me.”  While at the event, I personally witnessed two adoptions take place, and Joy Martin told me that a total of twenty adoptions ocurred during the course of the event!  Joy says the recent economic downturn in the area has affected the lives of animals stating,  “To me personally, helping an owner surrender a dog is so important because these dogs have known care, and love in many cases, and like their human counterparts are really adjusting to a new situation.”  Joy further explained that in areas like Miami Dade, overpopulation is a huge problem.  Sadly, those dogs surrendered by their owners are often the first to be euthanized, stray dogs, on the other hand, are granted a five day period to be claimed before suffering a similar fate. Due to the increase of foreclosures, many dog owners panic and don’t know what to do.  Joy told of a recent MPR rescue of a Shitzu that had been left alone in a vacated home for about three weeks.  Fortunately, the dog was rescued in time, but that story could have had a tragic end.

Woofstock was a day filled with peace, and love, and dogs, and I felt a little sad when it was time to go, but seeing the amount of happy people, and dogs still pouring into the park, I was happy to have been a small  part of an event that was such a huge success.  Joy, Michele, and a dedicated, helpful, and friendly staff of volunteers were a great example of what Will Judy had in mind when he founded National Dog Week over eighty year ago, showing that every week of the year can present an opportunity to carry out his message, that we can never thank dogs enough for all they do for us humans.

Read a little about the history of National Dog Week in the Archive Files of this Blog (January 4th).

Have you, or someone you know, ever observed or participated in an event for National Dog Week held the last full week of September?  If so, please feel free to comment, or contact me at pst39crd@aol.com.  I am currently collecting stories for my book, and would love to hear about your stories, and events.

Notes on the Blogging life:  I would like to thank Sandy over at Rover411.com for her mention of my Blog, and linking her educational, and well-designed website about dogs to my work.  I’ve only been at this for about two months, and I am so amazed at how many people have taken the time to read my posts.  Blogging is a great way to connect with those in the “dog world” and beyond.  I hope to join the ranks of Face Book by month’s end, but for now, I am concentrating on finishing the book, while enjoying the scenery here in the Keys.  Here’s hoping it’s the “key” to my success!

Big Pine Key, Florida,  is a special place.  Twenty miles south of busy, built-up Marathon, and about a 40 minute ride south to bustling Key West, it has a unique rythym of its own.  When visitors make their way down here, they ultimately ask,  “How on Earth did you find this place?”

Those guests expecting the action of Miami, or the beaches of Boca Raton might be in for a let down.  Here locals, and visitors, adhere to a strictly enforced speed limit of 35 mph that helps to protect those tiny Key Deer that keep popping out of the woods.  Our rented 2 bed/2 bath cottage sits high across from some of those dense jungle-like woods packed with vines, palmettos, and big (and little) pines.  Just beyond those woods, a coral dessert opens filled with sun-bleached, twisted driftwood, a landscape that is stark, and mysterious, something straight out of a National Geographic Magazine.  In the evening, we are serenaded by the chirping of crickets, soft breezes rustling palm fronds, and screen doors slamming.

And the area attracts people, and their dogs, from all areas of the United States.  My neighbors include folks from Michigan, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Montana.  And of course there are those who live here year round.  Some of these locals stand out for me, a little weathered by the sun, and their daunting task of trying to make a living in an area that has been hit by tough economic times.  Their lives contain seeds for short stories, and novellas.  It’s no wonder so many writers are inspired to write while spending time in the Keys, and why so many of those books become classics.

When it’s time to shop, we drive a few miles to “Winn-Dixie Town,” the main shopping center for Big Pine Key, and surrounding areas.  It is also known as “Winn-Chicksie Town,” as shoppers are often greeted by colorful wild Roosters, hens, and their little chicks as they run about the parking lot!

Up the road, you’ll find the Blue Hole, a pristine fresh water pond and nature sanctuary.  Unfortunately even professional wildlife conservationists cannot keep all of  the wild residents safe, however.  A few years back, a pair of alligators inhabited the Hole until a couple of young men lured one of the gators, beat it to death, and posted the episode on the internet.  A few years later, the remaining alligator choked on a child’s plastic toy that had dropped into the pond.  All it takes is a few stupid individuals to deprive thousands of others from learning about nature, and this special environment.  No matter what you think about gators, it was a great loss to the people of this area.

As I write this, I watch across the lagoon as Killian, a Border collie, paces back and forth, protecting his territory.  German shepherds Logan, and Koda, stare back, barking occasionally as if to protect us all from those terrifying tiny deer.  As the weather warms up in the coming days, Hooper will get a chance to swim down off  Blimp Road in Cudjoe Key.  She’ll splash among kayakers, and mangroves, and an occasional Ray. 

While these dogs enjoy good and loving homes, all is not the case for local dogs.  A friend of my husband’s told him about a woman in Summerland Key who seems to be going around depositing homeless dogs on people’s property.  Of course I will follow-up on this story as it intriques me.  Is she so upset about the number of abandoned dogs that she is literally taking it upon herself to play matchmaker for dogs and humans?  Stay tuned for more on this.

I am sure Captain Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week, would commend her spirit, but there can be dangers involved in playing God when placing these dogs in this manner, ultimately doing more harm than good.  But there is a part of me that would love to hear that some of these forced matches worked out, and makes me keep checking our backyard to see if we have been become a recipient. 

My question of the day is, what would you do if this woman chose your home for one of these dogs?

Hooper, Rich, and I arrived in Big Pine Key, Florida this morning.  The locals are complaining about the 60 degree temps, while my family back home in New Jersey learns to cope with twenty plus inches of snow with more to come possibly on Wednesday.  Big Pine Key is just about thirty minutes north of Key West, and the home of the famous tiny Key Deer.  Today I became acquainted with some of the newest additions to the native deer population , not much larger than your average yellow lab, and Logan, the white German shepherd featured at the top of my photo gallery also known as the  “wall of woofs.”  Logan is a shy guy, but  I am  determined that we will be best buds by month’s end.  I  am also hoping to get to know the five dogs that have moved in next door since our last visit here!  Yes, the Florida Keys are definitely “Dog Country.”

All this talk of snow during the month of February has really hit home.  Last year, I completed my first Young Adult novel fittingly titled, Full Snow Moon.  Native people named their full moons for seasonal occurences.  As the month of February typically brought about the heaviest snow of the year, they named that month’s full moon the Snow Moon.  My book tells the tale about the spirit of a young man that perished during the “Blizzard of 1888” who, in the February of 2004, comes to the aid of a young man during a modern day snowstorm.  The spirit then recruits the teen to help save the spirit’s boyhood home from the grips of a greedy land developer, ultimately leading to a discovery of historic importance.  That legendary storm is still the most destructive storm ever to hit the East Coast.  While today we have all kinds of technology to warn us of impending danger, back then, over three hundred people who did not, perished.  It kind of puts things in perspective.

In this semi-tropical  land where it never snows, I will endure temperatures that will barely go below to 70 degrees, and try not to suffer!  While a total of ten or so local  dogs serenade me, I will hunker down and return to the business of writing for their benefit, inspired by their messages of encouragement.  They seem to be saying, “Write away, write away, National Dog Week needs you!”  So I will be inspired by their yelps, and yips, for they remind me about the way we humans just can’t seem to live without them.  

As I suffer from Olympic withdrawal, I look forward to March madness when those Lady Huskies will make me proud to be a UCONN grad.  Those players are definitely a special breed, the ultimate “working dogs!”

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”