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January 2014 - April 2014:


January 12, 2014:                  [Odometer 274270]    I took a ride to the grocery store this morning but got sidetracked. As I was pulling up to a stop sign, the car ahead of me, who happened to be our neighbors at the trailer park, took an inordinate amount of time making the corner. I found out why when they finally moved on and this little tan colored ball of fluff came out from behind their car and right in front of mine. There was no one behind me, so I stopped and got out of the car but, as I approached the dog, she moved away from me. Thinking I could never catch her, I headed back to my car when lo and behold she turned around and followed me, coming right up to me. I gathered up the poor cold, wet dog and put her in my warm car. I should mention that it was only about 40 degrees at the time and had gotten down to 36 the night before and 27 the night before that.


Since it was Sunday morning, there would be no vet offices open, but I took a chance and drove to the one in Loxley figuring they might have an emergency number posted or maybe I would get lucky and someone would be there caring for their animals. I got lucky and unlucky at the same time. I called the number and the vet was actually on her way to the office. Unfortunately, she was on her way to take care of an emergency C-section on a dog in real trouble. Therefore, she did not have any time to worry about the little lost dog. I also found out the nearest animal shelter was in Fairhope and was probably not open on Sunday. The owner of the dog needing the C-section also told me about a no-kill shelter located there.


I took the dog home and Julie and I decided to take her to the shelter anyway in case they were open. Our fall back plan was to take her to a place called "Dirty Hairy's" which is a do-it-yourself dog bathing facility, also in Fairhope. The dog was covered in fleas and burrs and also had a couple of ticks we were not sure how to get out, so we left them. Before we left, I removed as many burrs as possible, but there was one under her left arm I did not dare try to get out because if seemed to be attached to the skin itself. Julie and I took all the dogs for a ride to check out the shelters, but nothing was open. In the end, we wound up giving the poor thing a flea bath and bringing her back home with us for the night, figuring on taking her to the no-kill shelter the next day.


January 13, 2014:                  Julie called "The Haven" (the no-kill shelter that we found out is run by the Humane Society) and found that they will not take animals directly, but choose which ones to take from the local shelters. We were going to take her to the regular shelter but, when we started the car, the serpentine belt broke. We took it as a sign and made an appointment with our vet for Wednesday morning instead, which had been Plan C. Simba as we were calling her because she looks like a little lion spent another night with us. I should probably mention that both nights there were many "accidents" in the house. We really worried that she might either not have been house broken or had forgotten how while she was alone in the wild.


Julie gives Simba some loving. We put Taz's walking collar on her so we would have some leash control but it is way too big for her.


January 14, 2014:                  We got the truck back last night, so decided to follow our original plan for the day of checking out new campgrounds. We had made the appointment with the vet for Wednesday because we were not sure the truck would be done yesterday so Simba went with us. At Driftwood RV park, the campground we chose to move to, we found a man who said he would take Simba in a heartbeat if we needed him to do so. Our plan is to first get her well, and then find her a good home, preferably where she will be the only dog in a senior household, so George would be a good secondary choice as he already has a 13 year old Shih Tzu but would still give Simba lots of attention.


On our way home that afternoon, we passed Rehm Animal Clinic at Timber Run, between Daphne and Loxley. We were hoping they could check Simba for a chip. If we could find her real owners we could save ourselves an unnecessary vet bill. As is turned out, she was chipped and we found out her real name is "Ruby Marie." We also found out her previous owner was a real jerk. When the veterinary technician contacted him, he said they had given Ruby away a couple of years ago but he did not know who they gave her to – a likely story. The vet told us, "I guess she's yours if you want her." While we were waiting for the chip information, the vet also asked me if I would mind if she took Simba ne Ruby in the back. She removed the burr I had not been able to get out, told us how to deal with the ticks, and charged us nothing. Obviously, this is another very caring veterinary office.


January 15, 2014:                  We took Ruby (she responds to that name) to the vet and told them to do whatever she needed to make her well, including giving her any shots necessary to make her healthy and accepted at the RV parks (like Rabies vaccination).




January seems to be the month for baby farm animals in the South. These two nursing babies were two of the four newborns in the pasture next to our campground that we passed on our way back to pick up Ruby.


Our vet, Dr. Casey Singley at Animal Medical Center in Foley says that Ruby is a two year old Lhasa Apso, which by the way, is also called a "bearded lion dog" in Tibetan, so we were not far off with the name Simba.


January 20, 2014:                  We have pretty much decided to keep Ruby. Other than a slight jealousy problem with Taz (possessive towards Julie) which the dogs seem to have settled once we let them do it, they seem to be forming a cohesive pack, although Ruby has more puppy in her than the other two. They will run with her though and play a little. Also, since her medications have taken affect, there have been no accidents in the house. Ruby is perfectly house broken and will even tell us if we do not get her out when she needs to go. (She woke Julie up in the middle of the night one night like Taz sometimes does by walking on her.) Mostly, however, she has adapted to the bathroom schedule we have long had established with the other two dogs.



After we dropped Ruby off at the vet Wednesday morning, we picked up a few items for her, including a harness that mostly fit her but was just a hair tight. Today we took her shopping and got a new harness that fits her right plus a name tag that reads "Ruby Marie Simba" along with our phone numbers. When we get the information from the vet, we will also change the information reflected on her chip. Once we are settled in our now site, I will make her a custom leather harness.


The pack settles in for a nap on Alpha Dog. The only one missing is Big Puppy (Julie). Someone had to take the picture.


We even share the beds under the table.


January 22, 2014:                  Ruby is proving to be a very smart little dog. It only took two sessions to teach her to play fetch. The tennis balls are too big for her little mouth, so we got her a small frisbee that is her exclusive toy. Yesterday, she just chased after the frisbee, but did not know what to do with it. Today she figured it out from watching the other dogs with their balls and now fetches the frisbee.


Julie throws the frisbee like a girl.


Ruby proudly fetches the frisbee. Note the other two dogs fetching their tennis balls.


Ruby delivers the frisbee to Julie.


We are three fetching babes!


January 24, 2014:                  One of the problems we have with Ruby is that, unlike the Miniature Schnauzers who have hair, Lhasa Apsos have fur and the corresponding dander to which Julie is allergic. One thing that helps this is frequent bathing. It also helps Ruby with the skin problems she developed in the wild.


At least she fits in the sink.


After the sink comes the towel.


I'm all clean and dry and ready for my dress.



January 27, 2014:                  [Odometer 274740]    Yesterday I was checking the inflation in all my tires and noticed a real problem with one of my front tires. I knew my tread was wearing, but I did not realize I had a cord problem. Fortunately, it was facing up instead of being against the ground when I was checking the tires. I thought I would put my spare tire on, but was only able to loosen one out of six lug nuts so I gave up. It was probably good that I did not put the spare on as it is the original spare tire and is now 19 years old, although it looks brand new.


We went to a local tire shop and got two new 10-ply tires so we now have 10-ply all around on the truck. Unfortunately, I was not able to get the root cause repaired (a bad idler arm and pitman arm on the right front wheel) but will need to do so as soon as I can afford it so I do not damage these new tires. By the way, they also had a hard time getting the lug nuts loose. Those tires have been on there a while and must have been tightened by a gorilla.


I doubt it's a good idea to let a tire get this worn.


January 29, 2014:                  Winter has come to Alabama and the natives are horrified. In a sleet and snow event that would be ignored in New York, everything possible is closed and all sorts of precautions are being made against the cold. (It was predicted to go down to 22 last night and tonight. People seem to forget it went down to 16 two nights a couple weeks ago and the world did not end. To be fair though, they are really not ready for a two-day supply of this kind of cold and they have no equipment to deal with the ice on the roads.


The dogs get frisky in the cold. JoJo thinks she's a pup again as she was born in winter.


The truck and trailer have not seen this much cold white stuff since we started traveling in the fall of 2010. By tomorrow it will be gone. By Sunday it will be 70 degrees (for real).


In the mean time, we're not sure if it's cabin fever, getting used to us enough to get in trouble, or just needing to find a way to play with the other dogs, but Ruby has been over the top today. I guess every time you get a new pet, you see new habits, new skills, and new problems, especially if that pet is as smart as Ruby. Today's fun started at breakfast. Julie was making some French toast and had the bread she was going to use sitting on the counter waiting for the toaster. Suddenly, a small tan blur took off from the floor, touched base on the hassock we use to store plastic bags, and grabbed two pieces of bread, landing them neatly on the floor where she was ready to munch on them.


Second round occurred later in the morning. Julie was making brownies and had some in the oven. The rest were in small personal-sized pie tins on a cookie sheet on the table. I was working on this blog so the computer screen blocked my view and I did not notice it happen, but Julie came back into the room to find one of the small tins on the floor. Ruby and co-conspirator JoJo were enjoying the raw chocolate batter. Two errors in one play–stealing from the table and eating chocolate.


The next move was not naughty, just incredibly smart. If anyone had asked me, I would have said it was impossible for Ruby to get her tiny little mouth around a standard tennis ball, and I would have been right, but I forgot how smart she is. Julie was talking about the need to find some toy for Ruby to get interested in so as to keep her from getting into trouble. Later in the day, JoJo was playing with her tennis ball so Julie grabbed a smaller tennis ball and tossed it for Ruby. Ruby ignored it and started playing with the larger ball, and while she could not get it into her mouth, she figured out how to grab it by the fuzz on the ball. Now she teases JoJo by playing with her ball and goes so far as to take it on the bed and then drop it so it bounces on the floor to get JoJo to play. JoJo then takes her ball to her bed and guards it.


February 2, 2014:                  Today is one of those days that we will long remember and long regret. When we went to the vet's on Thursday to have both Taz and Ruby checked, the vet told us that Taz's aggression towards Ruby could some day result in tragedy, namely the dath of Ruby. She said that, while Taz might deliberately try to kill Ruby, if Taz were to draw blood, especially if we were not home, there was a strong likelihood both Taz and JoJo would gang up on Ruby to Ruby's detriment. Based on Taz's continued aggression, Ruby's fear of Taz, and our need to have all the dogs happy, we have chosen to find Ruby a good home with someone else. As it happened today, a man (Al) in the clubhouse was talking about how he wished he had a dog. Al walks with a cane and has a number of health problems. Later, his wife (Kathy) was talking with Julie and some others about how Ruby had been rescued and rehabilitated. They ran a quick trial with Ruby and decided to keep her.


(2/5/14 - A friend at Azalea Acres says Kathy is absolutely ecstatic when she talks about how things are going with Ruby and that Al is walking more now that he has Ruby to walk with. Al also likes to play frisbee with her in the trailer. Julie and I are saddened that Ruby is no longer with us, but so happy she is in a good home. JoJo and Taz are also returning to normal, although it is obvious JoJo is missing Ruby.)


February 4, 2014:                  [Odometer 274930]    Today we moved to Driftwood RV Park in Fairhope, Alabama. The move went smoothly and we are all set up. Now we just have to bring back all the items we put into storage to lighten the weight of the trailer before we moved and get them put away.




March 24, 2014:                     [Odometer 275920]    Today we took some sight-seeing time to a local preserve. There are several in the area as we are almost right on Mobile Bay where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. A lot has been done in this part of Alabama to preserve the swamps and habitats of the local animals.


Note the extra sign! Much of the path is a boardwalk through the swamp but there are also parts that are graveled road. Even though the alligators are probably all still hibernating, we stuck to the boardwalk and piers.


In this part of the world, alligators are not the only threat.


Part of the boardwalk through the swamp. This was an unusual view with no people. Even though it was mid-week, there were many people of all ages walking the boardwalk, piers, and county park.


Informational board as you start down the boardwalk.


View from Pier looking South.


View from Boardwalk looking East.


More Swamp.


View from Boardwalk looking West down a feeder stream. An older pier cuts across the photo and Mobile, Alabama is visible in the destance.


April 13, 2014:                        [Odometer 276285]    It's planting time in the South, maybe even a couple of weeks late. Yesterday we went to Lowe's and got some landscape timbers, garden soil, and plants. This morning I built our garden and this afternoon Julie helped me plant it (she is so much better at bending over than I am).


Our HUGE garden is 3.5 ft. long x 1.5 ft. wide (inside dimensions).


We planted 2 tomato plants, 2 green bell pepper plants, 2 red bell pepper plants, 4 sweet basil plants and 4 Thai basil plants (the basil came in 4 plants to the flat).


April 14, 2014:                        [Odometer 276335]    Last night we had a severe thunderstorm with tons of rain, high winds, and all sorts of lightning and thunder. Some areas got as much as 10 inches of rain, although I think we were more like 4-5 inches in our area. Many roads were covered with water and dangerously impassible. [Note: As of Friday 4/18, one road is still closed because the water undermined a bridge. The bridge is still there, but the bank needs to be shored up before it will be passable again.]


Another thing the storm brought was 5 new goats to the lady next door. Two goats had twins and one had a single baby. They are very cute.










April 19, 2014:                        We have two dogs near us in the park who basically run loose. As they are both very friendly and are kept (mostly) under control and do not mess up our area, this is not a problem. In fact we enjoy having them around.



This is Hershey. He is a rescue and is of indeterminate age, although he is is obviously older and suffers quite a bit from Arthritis. His owner, Johnny, works at the park. Johnny has had a tracheotomy and cannot call Hershey, so he claps his hands and Hershey obediently comes. When Johnny drives his golf cart around the park, Hershey sits up in the passenger seat and his head is higher than Johnny's.

Hershey is afraid of small dogs so he is afraid of our girls, but he likes Julie and me and will always come up to us if our girls are not around.



This is Kapo. He is an Australian Shepherd and just turned 6 months old, still very much a puppy with all sorts of energy and desire to play. He will grow to be about 75-85 pounds. This is a very intelligent, very friendly, loving dog. He is used to Julie and I and is very friendly with us. He has also tried very had to ingratiate himself with JoJo and Taz, although they are still a little wary of him and JoJo tries to chase him away (Taz hides behind Julie or me).

He has twice now played ball with the girls and is accepted during that activity. So, intelligent dog that he is, yesterday morning when he saw our dogs outside, he, as usual, came running over. But this time, he brought a ball with him and tossed it onto the ground so JoJo could chase it. When we say intelligent, we mean extremely so. He figured out how to get accepted.