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Home / Articles / Features / Feature Articles /  What I Did on My (Forced) Irma Vacation
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Monday, October 9,2017

What I Did on My (Forced) Irma Vacation

By Susan Hargreaves  

´´Category 5 Hurricane, Irma, is headed straight towards us, we have to get out of here" I stated to the wife, being fairly sure an older wood frame house built in the early 80´s close to a large body of water would not be the best place to seek a safe haven when a monster storm is barreling our way.

Finally I found a dog-friendly hotel with a vacancy, we set out on our journey almost as far northwest as you can go in Florida to Panama City, with three old rescue dogs, each with their own set of issues of challenges, including the increasingly difficult task of lifting Connor, the 110 pound dog with a back leg that ceases to work in unexpected, spontaneous moments. Off we drove, exhausted, as anyone knows after preparing for a hurricane, after boarding up, shuttering and picking up all the miscellaneous plant pots and other possible future flying missiles from around our home. We packed copious amounts of blankets to protect the hotel´s carpet from any mishaps plus the prerequisite for all car journey adventures, salt and vinegar potato chips - hey, at least they are vegan. On the 16 - hour car drive we passed a hundred cars lining up at the each of the turnpike gas stations, flashing police lights illuminated the signs saying ´´no filling up gas cans´´. Florida was in the throes of a mass exodus with all of their family members including dogs, cats and even birds in crowded vehicles.

Bye, bye Irma, we hope ... Lovey and Connor, a 16-hour car drive is the definition of dog heaven.


My cell bleeped with a message from a wildlife rehabilitator about a previously scheduled Courageous Animal Hero Teen surprise in Melbourne, Australia, not Melbourne, Florida, for Sunday, September 10. A 14 year old boy had brought a swan who was dying back from the brink of death with mouth to beak resuscitation, she was entangled in fishing line and unable to move for a prolonged period.

I would not let Irma interfere with the AnimalHeroKids.org surprise I had been planning for months, I was relieved to able to email the award and write the news release all from my trusty cell phone in the frequent travel stops. A professional Australian Footballer for the Western Bulldogs, Travis Cloke, was scheduled to surprise Josh, the teen swan saver at his local football field with his teammates. A copy of an ´´Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless" book was also going to be presented to Josh by Carla with Warriors for Wildlife.

We arrived at a lovely hotel at 4 AM and met so many other folks with their dogs who had also succeeded in finding this not too expensive dog friendly hotel in a geographically protected - we hoped - spot.

We couldn´t leave the hotel as gas was at a premium and the winds were wild; the staff had brought their own cats and dogs as the management gave them hotel rooms so we could all hunker down together during the storm. There were so many nice people it actually turned out to be a surprising respite, and an unexpected vacation.

Meanwhile, approximately 9,700 miles as the swan flies away, down under, Josh stepped out in front of a crowd made up of his friends and family to receive the Animal Hero Teen Award from a sports star he admired. AnimalHeroKids.org encourages, empowers and recognizes compassionate action like the "mouth to beak" rescue of a dying swan by this teen and in so doing conveys to all who learn about it due to the resulting news media that the concept of being kind and brave is heralded and needed. A win-win for all beings. If you wish to help us achieve our goal of an "Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless" book for each school.


 

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