Sunday, April 23, 2017

Do Animals Matter?



Do Animals Matter?
By: Dori Dumont

            I had just finished working a 14-hour day at a rescue animal shelter setup at the local fairground in Moore, Okla., in aftermath of the tornado that flattened 12 miles of the town.  A man in a city utility truck pulled up next to me and rolled down his window. I noticed a black lab lying on the seat next to him.  I don’t remember the man’s name, but his story and smile are etched in my heart forever.
            “Hi there.” He said with a slight southern accent and a big friendly Oklahoman smile.
            “Hi, how are you?” I responded, not sure what kind of answer I was going to get, or why he had stopped his vehicle by me.
            He replied, “I’m doing great.” I asked him if he lived in the area. “Yep, I lost my house.” His smile waned a bit, but then returned as he reached over and stroked the dog.
            I said, “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry to hear this.”
            All of a sudden my exhaustion felt insignificant. I could tell this man needed to tell someone his story…and I was eager to listen.
            He told me, “When the tornado hit, my house began to shake like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I grabbed Max, by the collar,” he said, and nodded toward the black lab next to him. “But, I couldn’t find Sandy, my old yellow lab who’s almost blind. She was somewhere in the house, but I didn’t have time to find her. Max and I had to get to the basement under my garage.”
            It was half an hour later when he opened the basement door, and saw sky above. All that remained of his house was a large antique bank safe that had been situated on the first floor of his two-story house. The safe was now lying on its side at the far-end of his back property.
            He said, “I was in total shock...and Sandy was nowhere in sight.”
            He told me it was completely quiet and eerie as people came out of their basements. He compared it to what a warzone might look like immediately after a bombing.
            “It was a miracle that all my neighbors were accounted for,” he said, “but unfortunately not all of their pets were located.”
            He told me that as soon as Max scrambled out of the basement, he lifted his nose, sniffed the air and dashed around smelling the debris by the house. He caught a scent and ran straight across the street to a 4 feet pile of rubble--and began to bark. “When I got there,” he said, “I was surprised that the pile was mostly my stuff.”
            He pulled up a large piece of what was left of his Lazy-Boy sofa, and found Sandy lying there shaking. He said she had a few open wounds on one leg, but otherwise okay. “I grabbed her with one arm and hugged Max with the other, and broke down and cried.” He told me he had everything that was important to him, and said not everyone was that lucky.
            No one can dispute that weather disasters are becoming more common each year. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, it caught not only the people living in the area off guard, but city and government officials were unprepared for the aftermath. Rescue decisions were made to get people out quickly and into shelters. Animals were not allowed rescue at the time of forced evacuation, mainly due to the Red Cross having a National Policy of not accepting animals into their shelters.  National news coverage showed pets pulled out of crying kid’s arms, elderly people in hysterics where forced to leave their beloved pets and even service animals where denied passage. As people were forced into boats, helicopters and busses, the animals were left behind to fend for themselves.
            This situation created such a negative effect on the human victims and general public, that in a time when many people still consider animals their personal property, and place their worth on monetary value, it became an eye-opener.
            President Bush became aware of the tragedy and proposed a bill that would protect animals in the future during a disaster. In 2006, the PETS Act (Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act) was passed and signed.
            The law allows federal disaster assistance funding for states having preparedness plans for people with service animals or pets, with provisions for rescue, care, shelter and essential needs. President Bush’s rationale behind this plan was that Katrina proved people were less likely to protect themselves during an emergency if their animals could not be provided for.
            In a time when disasters appear to be happening more frequently and with larger severity, it is comforting to know that animals are being recognized as an important aspect of people’s lives. Hopefully in the future, the Katrina episode, where over 250,000 pets were left behind, will not be repeated.
            In 2012, Super Storm Sandy devastated much of the Atlantic coast, targeting New York City and the New Jersey area. I was proud to be a part of a federal deployment where National Veterinary Response Teams were sent to aide an SPCA emergency shelter for the animals of the people who lost their homes. Pet owners would come in to visit their animal(s) for hours and would cry when they had to leave. Many of these people were put up in hotels until they could find elsewhere to live and be reunited with their pets.

             Like many Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy victims, and like the man I spoke with in Moore, Oklahoma, these pets are all they have left in the world. Do animals matter? It appears the Government is starting to think so.

Monday, December 5, 2016

TRUST

It's snowing. A bit. A tad bit. Ever so lightly...or is it raining with a snow flurry or two attached to a rain droplet. A vacation day. A coffee. A bit of lunch...or is it a lot of lunch. I know one thing. It is a day of reflection. A bit of sorrow. A slight tear tries to find its way out from my eye. I don't let it. I don't really know why it's there. It will be okay. Really it will. It always is. Life works out. It always does. It has never let me down. Not really. Well, perhaps in a moment...but not in many moments. Trust. That's my word for the day. Trust. I remember now...The Universe has my back. Cool! Onward. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Makings of a Young Adult (YA) Historical Fiction Writer

 I wrote this about a writer friend of mine.


Makings of a Young Adult (YA) Historical Fiction Writer

         “Their still beating hearts will be removed. Their heads will be stricken off, their bodies cut into quarters and the pieces hung high on the London Bridge so all may see of the fate of traitors to the king.” Gilt, Katherine Longshore
        
         How does a young girl, composing stories and songs about her cat, all while crouched under a kitchen barstool, grow up to write a popular published trilogy about duchesses and dukes, kings and queens, and beheadings?
        
         Well, if you are Katherine Longshore (Katy by her friends), it is an amazing adventure that warrants being told.
        
         In her teens, Katy fell in love with theater.  “I loved losing myself in a character made of words… to make that character live and breathe. Now, that is magic.”  Katy went on to achieve a university acting scholarship. She found that studying Method acting taught her how to get into her character’s shoes, “Not just perform, but become the role.” Still harboring the love for writing, Katy had a sense that it would help her future writing. “To be able to inhabit the character’s emotions and sensations – to envision the setting around me, will help translate to the page.”
        
         Wanting to get out of the physical classroom, Katy enrolled in a study-on-board Semester at Sea. “The thought of traveling by ship around the world sounded inescapably romantic.” The ship stopped at ten countries in one hundred days. Katy was hooked, and wanted more.  “My life was changed forever,” and she set her goal on Southern Africa.          
        
         Needing to finish college first, Katy studied anthropology, geography, and journalism, all to prepare for her next big adventure.  “I dreamed of being a travel writer. I was able to create my own traveling major, and traveled for two months on a train through Europe.” From there, Katy landed a job on a National Oceanographic research boat, which went to Chili, the Antarctic, and Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. “At this point, I was ready for land.” 
        
         With one bag packed, Katy began her solo adventure to Africa. When asked why she wanted to travel alone, she commented, “It can be too easy to rely on a friend while traveling.  I knew that being alone would broaden my horizons, challenge my limitations, and open me up to new possibilities.” Katy spent time in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. From there she traveled on to Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.  It was Zimbabwe however, and the meeting of an Englishman, that would alter the course of Katy’s life.

         Katy returned home for a few months, but became very restless. She opted to accept a two-week invite to England, by the Englishman.  Katy stayed until her six-month visa expired. “I went back the next year and married him.”
        
         Katy and her husband stayed in a little town in England, for another five years. She found herself mesmerized by all of the history surrounding her. “I fell in love with the colorful and violent history of England.” She lived next to castles that had been inhabited by Ann Boleyn, the Duke of Buckingham, and a home of King Henry VIII.  Her focus had taken a change in course from travel writing, to being totally immersed in English history. She spent her time researching and falling in love with King Henry VIII’s era.  “I became obsessed with his six wives.”
        
         Who do you get when you combine a young girl who loved to write, a teenager who learned to act, and a young woman bold enough to travel the world alone helping her to discover her passion for English history? Katherine Longshore,  a well-praised published historical fiction YA author, who claims she is dedicated to maintaining historical accuracy in her novels. 
        
         How does it feel to have completed a published trilogy on the romantic and violent era of English history? “It feels both incredibly satisfying and deeply terrifying.  I feel like I have grown and progressed as a writer through this series and that I’m ready to challenge myself even more and try new things. But that’s frightening, because don’t we all feel so much safer when we’re surrounded by the familiar?  Still, I’m willing to try.  It’s like heading off to Africa alone – it will challenge me and broaden my horizons.”
        
        

If you’d like to find out more about Katherine Longshore, you can visit her website at: katherinelongshore.com, or Twitter/@kalongshore.  Katy lives with her English husband, two young boys, and family dog in a small town in Northern California. 

Here is a listing of her work:

Contributor to: A Tyranny of Petticoats/15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls

Manor of Secrets

Trilogy:
   Brazen
  Tarnish
  Gilt

Monday, September 12, 2016

"MAC"

Inspired from this morning's walk.



I was on one of my early before-work breathtaking walks along the impressive Columbia River.  Although I walk this 2.5-mile stretch each morning, it's never quite the same.  The sunrise over the river always seems to spotlight a different subject, such as a water crane standing proudly on a shallow rock casting its mirror-like shadow onto the river, or a bird of prey finding its early morning breakfast by making a split-second plunge down to the water with its razor-sharp deadly talons positioned downward, like a plane’s landing gear approaching a runway. The bird’s body doesn’t even get wet as it reaches down just beneath the surface of the water, grabbing its victim, then taking flight to a nearby treetop where it begins to feast on the prized catch.  Or perhaps a lone fisherman with the only boat on the river, anchored down, bobbing slowing, creating the only ripples in the calm morning waters, in hopes of pulling in a salmon before the river becomes saturated with fisherman alike. This morning, however, as I walked the pathway, nature’s spotlight was on another type of subject, less than 25-feet from where I make my u-turn and head back. 

Leaned against the fence rail, he stood there like a statue. His baggy and dirty clothes coincided with his loosely frayed waist-length dreadlocked hair. An old weathered army-green backpack with a thin nylon sleeping bag draped over the top, hung heavily off of his left shoulder. I got the impression that this was all he had.  His face was expressionless as he gazed at me when my quick-paced walk approached his somber stance.
 Without missing a beat to my step, I glanced his way and uttered a sincere and chipper, “Good morning!”  

Appearing startled that I greeted him, he meekly responded, “Good morning” in return.   

I continued the short distance to my turnaround, and headed back his way again. It was he who spoke this time. But something was different. His face was lit up with a big smile. His voice now sparked a confident note and he said, “Good morning, you have a wonderful day!” 

I smiled as I walked past him and added,  “It is a great day, isn’t it!” 

As I walked back, his change of facial expression and friendly smile stayed etched within my mind. My thoughts centered on what type of circumstances got him to where he is now, knowing, of course, that I would never have those answers.  I pondered on what I could do to help him, and I did the only thing I could think of at that moment.  I gave him a name, “Mac,” and in my mind, I sent him blessings. I envisioned light, love, and angels surrounding him.

When I came to the end of my walk, I looked out to the river and sunrise...and then said aloud, “I dedicate this day to you Mac. I hope that you find something, no matter how small, to inspire you.” 

Namaste to you Mac!




#homeless