My Travel and Photography Goals for 2016

Cats

The above photo is of my angel Coco who left us on March 19, 2010

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I stopped making New Year's Resolutions a long time ago when I realized that I never kept any of them and they always seemed to be the same.  I do believe that setting goals at any time of the year is a good thing for me to do.  Although I do plan to travel this year I want to take more photos while I'm at home.  I especially want to take more photos of my family, cats and friends.

I also got a new lens for my camera that will take really great bokeh photos.  It's a very different type of lens than I'm used to working with. I think that it's going to require a lot of practice as it has controls on the lens itself.  I would like to create some prettier and more colorful bokeh photos than the one of my chandelier you see above with one of my favorite quotes by Dorothea Lange.

CatsAbove are Peanut (age 9) and Princess (age 8)
CatsThe above photo is Jasmine who is ten years old and is Elizabeth's sister seen below who is also ten years old.  They were our first "foster kittens that we fell in love with and decided to keep.

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This is Coco's sister Chanel.  She will be twelve years old on May 29, 2016.  We got them from a rescue organization when they were only eight weeks old.  We miss Coco very much, but are so happy to have her sister with us still.

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This is Fleur who is almost eight.  She was another foster kitten that we thought it best to stay with us.

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This is Jack who is about four years old.  Someone left him at our house when he was about six months old.  Our veterinarian believes he is a Main Coon cat.  He weighs about twenty pounds, but the doctor does not think he is overweight.
Cat-762079Finally, we have two FIV positive (Feline immunodeficiency Virus) cats you can see below.  The orange cat's name is Peaches and the grayish brown cat is named Piney.  Peaches is about five years old and Piney is about four years old.  Since all of our cats are rescues, we don't have definite birth dates for any besides Chanel.  Piney and Peaches have their own room and balcony in our home,  The risk of them infecting our other cats with FIV is very low, but we've decided not to take any chances.

Piney and Peaches are kept healthy with a fairly new drug called T-Cyte.  Few people know about this medication so I will post the link here.  It's not as expensive as one might think it would be.

http://tcyte.com/.

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What are your goals for 2016?  I hope the new year is starting well for all of you!  Have a wonderful week!

~Michelle

 


Ruth and Idgie: An Abandoned Paralyzed Cat and Dachshund are Adopted and Inseparable

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Ruth and Idgie were named after the characters in the popular movie "Fried Green Tomatoes"  Ruth is a partially paralyzed cat, but can still get around (a little slowly) to eat and use her litter box.  Here is their new home's, Hollywood Hounz, address and phone number in case you ever want to visit Ruth and Idgie or adopt some of their beautiful cats.  

        Hollywood Hounz

  • 4243 W Lake Mary Blvd
    Lake Mary, FL 32746
    Longwood
  • Phone number: (407) 688-7626

.  Please be sure to watch the following video about this Dachshund named Idgie and partially paralyzed cat named Ruth:  The following two minute video can be found on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AkTdvTOngo

 
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Ruth and Idgie being visited by another rescue cat who is on a diet and has lost weight since being taken in by Hollywood Hounz:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Ruth and Idgie getting ready for a nap in their bed:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Pano (1 of 1)-350Idgie:
Pano (1 of 1)-350Here are some other beautiful rescue cats at Hollywood Hounz.  Most are available for adoption:
Pano (1 of 1)-350This beauty is a Maine Coon cat:
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Pano (1 of 1)-350There are some adorable kittens available for adoption too:
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Pano (1 of 1)-350Their store/boutique is very nice!
Pano (1 of 1)-350I will leave you with a short video I made of my husband feeding Ruth and Idgie treats:

I will leave you with a photo of Ruth and I.  As always I appreciate your visit.  Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments.  Have a great week everyone!

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 ~Michelle


Seeking Solace With Santorini's Cats at Kamari Beach

“You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.” ― Paul McCartney

It did my heart good to see how well cats are treated on the island of Santorini in Greece.  While I was there I visited a restaurant several times where there were several kittens and cats. After what happened in Bali last year:  “Knowing it and seeing it are two different things.” ― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay , I told myself that I was going to avoid all stray cats and kittens because I couldn't take the heart ache of having something happen again like in Bali.  

I told the owner at this restaurant that I was  going to go buy a big bag of cat food for the cats that I saw lounging around on a couch in his restaurant.  He seemed offended and said "I feed and water them every day".  It did my heart good and restored my faith in humanity for a while.  I went back there more than once.  I needed to seek the solace and comfort get away from the tourists given the fact that this vacation was not what I had expected it to be.  If you read my last post:  What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?  you know what I'm talking about.  The food was wonderful the service was great and I highly recommend that you stop by this restaurant if you are ever in Santorini.  I just wanted to write about this wonderful experience because it did help me get through a tough time.   Yes I was on a beautiful tropical island and I had my camera so I was able to take pictures, but in all honesty I couldn't wait to get home.  

Santorini is an incredibly beautiful island and I would like to believe that someday I can go back and truly enjoy it.    Having said that, the world is a big place and there are many other places I want to see you as well.  

Visiting this restaurant was one of the bright spots of my vacation in Santorini.  Thank you to the owner for taking such great care of those cats.  As you can see they are very happy and healthy looking,  

I was very happy to learn about a group on Santorini that helps the numerous strays on the island.   Santorini Animal Welfare Society (SAWA) is an animal welfare association this gorgeous island. They are a small organization and mainly focus on spay/neutering which is extremely important in stray populations.

Here are some photos of Kamari Beach:

Pano (1 of 1)-337I loved the colorful boats and cabanas all over the beach!

Pano (1 of 1)-337It's a very popular place!
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Pano (1 of 1)-337I loved watching the kids play on the rocks
Pano (1 of 1)-337Kamari Beach is a really relaxing area away from the crowds of Oia
Pano (1 of 1)-337There were many, many nice restaurants overlooking the sea
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Pano (1 of 1)-337The beaches are a little rocky - I live near Clearwater Florida where the sand is like baby powder so it's just different to me.
Pano (1 of 1)-337It was nice strolling down the streets lining Kamari Beach
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Pano (1 of 1)-323I found this pretty church on one of the side streets

Pano (1 of 1)-323I also found some nice boutiques with pretty clothes and a happy cat :)

Pano (1 of 1)-323Then I found  a nice, away from the crowds restaurant named Koutouki tou bekri AKA as"cat heaven: 
Pano (1 of 1)-323They were allowed inside out of the hot sun and allowed to rest on a nice and comfortable couch.
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My two very well behaved and entertaining dinner companions:
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Pano (1 of 1)-323Kissing kittens:

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For dinner I had sparkling water with lemon ( my usual) and grilled halloumi cheese with tomatoes and pita.  Very yummy!
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And my favorite apple pie with just "a little" ice cream ;)

Pano (13 of 15)Here is their contact information if you want to visit them which I highly recommend!

Pano (1 of 1)-323Playful, happy, and healthy kittens!
Pano (1 of 1)-323Below is a beautiful table handcrafted by the owner:
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 I will leave you with the message I left in their guest book - they have no idea how much they helped me !!!

Pano (1 of 1)-323 Thank you so much for your visit.  As always, your comments and or questions are always appreciated.  have a wonderful week my friends! 

~Michelle


What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?

To know life, one must love many things.”

Vincent van Gogh

I wish I could buy a ticket to heaven for my next trip.  Heaven gained a new angel while I was in Europe last week.  Our Black Lab Shadow went to the Rainbow bridge on July 20th, 2014.  Shadow got along great with our cats.  We love him dearly and he will be so missed.

Shadow was a black lab who we found running around in the middle a busy street in Columbus Ohio.  He had been fixed, but was very skinny and had what is termed Separation Anxiety Disorder which is also known as SAD.  Separation anxiety disorder is likely caused by abuse and or abandonment.  Shadow became very attached to my husband and only my husband.  He went everywhere with my husband - to work, to the store, anywhere he could go Shadow had to go too.  If Shadow couldn't go with my husband he would just lay beside the door until he returned. 

As Shadow got older than about age 10 or so his separation anxiety decreased some.  When he was about 10 years old we thought he may have had a stroke.  It turns out he didn't have a stroke but he had a problem called "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease which you can read about here: Our Scare With "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease. 

We don't know exactly what age shadow was when he passed away last week but the vet estimated he was around 14 years old.  My husband took the best care possible of him that he could even when shadow became mostly blind and deaf and needed help standing up.  He took care of him the best he could.  My husband would take Shadow to the vet periodically to be sure Shadow was not in pain and or suffering.  Shadow had liver cancer which likely was not causing him pain, but in the end the cancer may have spread to his bones.  

 While in Athens I was able to check my e-mail.  It was then I learned that Shadow was in very bad shape.  That was on a Sunday and my husband planned to take him to the vet on Monday to see if there was anything else to be done.  By the time I got to my hotel in Santorini and was able to call home he had really gone downhill.  I did get to say goodbye to him over the phone, but I would not have been able to make it home on time to say goodbye to him.  

I looked into flights to get home from Santorini even though I had already prepaid my hotel.  It would have cost me more than $3000 to get home.  I really did consider just leaving right away and going home, and I definitely would have if it would have meant that I would've been able to say goodbye to Shadow.  Shadow, unfortunately, passed away long before I could've made it from Europe back to the US.  

Shadow had been very sick for a long time we really didn't know if he had days weeks or months he definitely seem to live and have a quality life for a lot longer than we ever would've imagined.  Whenever I left to go somewhere for more than a few hours I made sure that I told him I loved him and gave him a hug.  Upon reflection, I do wish that I had found a way home early from Greece.  I did not enjoy the trip as much as I should have.  I don't know if I will ever return to Santorini or Greece, I have no idea how much more I would have enjoyed the trip had this tragedy not occurred.  I really just couldn't wait to get home from the time this happened.  

I'm not sure if this will be a lasting feeling but this is made me realize how important being at home with my loved ones is.  We have other pets and I never would want this to happen again.  My cat Coco was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 4 1/2 years old.  I didn't dare leave her when she was sick.  There's no way I would've gone on a trip when she came out of remission.  If there had been services for a human being that needed to be attended, I would have spent thousands of dollars to get home I do always insure my trips, but unfortunately insurance companies don't consider an animal the same way they do a human being. 

I did not discuss this on Facebook when it happened, it was just too hard.  I knew I would get 1 million different opinions on what I could or should do.  It came down to being a very personal family decision I wish that I'd never gone on a trip, but Shadow had been stable when I left.  If I had thought for one minute that he would pass away while I was on my trip leaving my husband to deal with such sadness and grief I would not of gone.  In my opinion no amount of money is worse not being there for your family member when they need you most - whether it be a pets or a human being.  

I don't want my love for travel to end because of this tragedy.  I canceled a trip that was scheduled for the near future.  I just need to come to terms with what happened.

“The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us while we live.”

Norman Cousins

 As much as I love to travel, there is nothing more important to me than being with family at a time of need, or especially in shadows case, at the end to say goodbye.  I'm sure there are some of you reading this that would have made a completely different decision than I did and would have spent any amount of money to get home to be with their family even after shadow passed away.  I understand that and I respect your opinion.  Trust me, there is nothing you can say that will make me feel any worse than I already do.  I do feel a little like this trip to Europe was a bit of a waste as the last half of it was not that enjoyable.

I'm very unsure whether or not I will want to visit Austria or Greece again given the memories that I have.  I do know that there is no way we can time or predict these things.  All I know for sure is that I would not have boarded the plane in the first place if I had known what was coming. 

Shodowcollage730Shadow got along great with our cats!
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Photo 2(2)Shadow when he was around 7 years old:
Pano (1 of 1)-121Shadow when he was around 11 years old:

Shadow1Shadow when he was around 14 years old in June 2014:

Pano (5 of 8)How we want to remember Shadow.  We got everybody "dressed up for St Patrick's Day in 2010:

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Shadow's urn:

Pano (1 of 1)-255Here is our cat Jasmine being watched over by Shadow :)

Pano (1 of 1)-254These are two black dog figurines that I found in Santorini and bought in memory of Shadow:

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Goodbye our sweet Shadow RIP

Pano (1 of 1)-121  Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.  Have you ever experienced a tragedy while you were traveling? If you have any stories to share and don't want to leave a public comment, please feel free to email me my contact information is listed at the top of my blog. 

~Michelle


A Cure For Kittens Born With FIV?

 We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
Immanual Kant 

 

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During the first week in April we took in a family of eight orange cats - a mother with her seven 1 week old kittens. They were found next to a Dumpster, the mother. Peaches was nursing the kittens there. I guess she was next to the Dumpster so she could get food.  They are pictured in the two photos above.

 A couple of days after taking them in, we took them to the vet to have the mother tested for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus),  Unfortunately, the mother was positive :(  Although this virus is not a death sentence, it does make them harder to be adopted.  We learned that about 25-30% of all kittens born to positive mothers will be positive themselves.  We ran in depth blood tests on all 7 kittens and all were negative for FIV except the last 2 we tested.  They turned up positive.  I did a lot of research and found out about a very new treatment -T-cyte that I ended up needing to call the company to get information about.  This is a treatment to help both FIV and FeLV positive cats.  It's success rate is very high - 75-80%.  The best thing about this medicine is, if it doesn't help them, it won't hurt them!  They have also had a great deal of success with kittens who are born with the virus.  If they are treated very early with 4 shots, they are likely to become negative :)!

The photo below is of Buffy aka Poundcake.  He WAS positive.

 

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The next photo is of Sabrina AKA Pumpkincake.  She WAS the other kitten who received a positive result.
Pumpkin20The following photo is of me saying goodbye to the sweet mother who is thankfully in a good home with a relative who has no other cats.  She is being treated with T-cyte as well.  Her blood tests have improved dramatically and her vet says she is very healthy!

Pumpkin11When I called T-cyte for information, a vet answered the phone right away and explained everything to me.  He even agreed to talk to my vet about the treatments because my vet was not familiar with this new medicine. They were great to work with and communicate with!

Pumpkin9The photo below is of Pound cake and pumpkin cake in their new home.  I flew them to Kansas City at the beginning of July to be with a very nice family who wanted to adopt them even though they knew they were F I V positive...Once in their new home they were treated with 4 doses each of T-cyte.

It may sound like a miracle, and maybe it is, but the kittens were retested at 6 months of age after being treated and tested NEGATIVE - YaY!!!

Pumpkin8Poundcake <3

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I love happy endings!  I can't imagine this story being any happier.  Thanks to my friend Heidi and her family for adopting these two sweet babies and to T-cyte for creating such a miracle drug!   They are both very happy and healthy 8 month old kitties now who have an excellent family and forever home.  PLEASE spread the word because it's not well known.  Also, feel free to ask me any questions or leave a comment.

Thanks so much for stopping by and spreading the word!  I will leave you with a photo of Poundcake with Izzy, one of her lovely new family members <3

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