Archive for January, 2011


I have to share this story about one of the dogs I have the privilage of watching.  He’s a Bernese Aussie mix named Ringo and I’ve been watching him, along with the new addition to their family, a Bernese Golden mix puppy named Stella, while their “mom” is away helping her ailing parents.  Despite his missing eye and scarred face, Ringo is a beautiful gentle giant.  He’s so sweet and loving it’s hard to believe the life he had before coming to live in this loving home.  Here’s his story as told by the wonderful person who rescued Ringo.

Ringo’s rescue

Ringo came into rescue a week before New Years, after his owners were threatened with cruelty and neglect charges.

For four years, they’d allowed their intact, male Akita to routinely attack and tear up this Berner, and had never provided proper veterinary care.  Thanks to the intervention of a veterinarian and the local animal shelter, he was taken out of an awful situation and released to rescue.

He was in bad shape: his entire head, neck, shoulders, and right rump were extremely swollen from the numerous severe wounds received in the latest attack; grossly overweight; coarse wiry reddish coat; rat tail; blind bulging eye from a prior untreated injury; and absolutely filthy. The shelter workers said that the owners had claimed he was a purebred Bernese. When I first went to evaluate him, two things stood out: he was in such bad shape physically that it was hard to recognize him as a Bernese, and he had such classic Bernese behaviors that he had to indeed be one.

I looked at pictures the shelter had of him from 2 years prior. It was hard to believe that the young Berner looking at me from the photo was the same dog in front of me. We immediately named him Ringo for his extreme ringii markings. Two days later, he went straight from the shelter to the bathing parlor, and then to the vet. After three shampoo sessions, the water no longer ran black, and he smelled much better! Then he was off to the veterinarian for a blood workup and in-depth exam.

We suspected that he was low thyroid, and the vet agreed. He also recommended that the eye be removed since it could not be saved and was causing pain. The next day, the blood tests showed him to be extremely low thyroid, and medication was started. He was healthy enough to be neutered and to have the damaged eye removed. Bless the shelter vet who performed both surgeries! He did such a good job that Ringo didn’t have the bad swelling I’d seen with other eye-removal surgeries.

Ringo went to temporary foster mom Lisa for intensive nursing care while he recovered from surgery, and then to long-term foster mom Sandi for further rehabilitation. He blossomed under their care. Six months later, he looked like a new dog. He’d gone from grossly overweight to only mildly overweight, had begun growing a normal coat and you could see that he was indeed a Berner.

It took us a while to find him the right home. There weren’t a lot of people interested in a dog that wasn’t the classic Bernese beauty. Thankfully, his forever mom, Randi, easily saw beyond his slightly battered body and recognized what a loving affectionate dog he is.  Randi dotes on Ringo, and he has responded with absolute devotion. Ringo has shown amazing adaptability and trust of humans.  His favorite things to do are to cuddle and play with his squeaky toys.  He and Randi are attending training classes. Although he’s good with females and neutered males, Ringo has an understandable fear-aggression towards large, intact, male dogs.  With Randi’s support, he’s working through it. She has plans for him to certify as a therapy dog.

Beautiful Ringo

January 28, 2011 at 7:24 am Leave a comment

Mount Rainier

I’m going to take a short break from my travels and share with you the time I spent at the Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier.  When I decided that I was getting too comfortable going back to the same lodge year after year (I had never intended to work at the same place for more than one season) I decided to leave Alaska and work at Rainier National Park in Washington State. 

As in Alaska, I met so many wonderful people from all over the world and had a great time supervising the lunch counters and delis at the lodge.  I had a whole crew from Jamaica.  What a great group of boys they were!  And what an absolutely beautiful area this was to work.  When I first arrived there were still several feet of snow at the lodge. 

Visiter Center buried in snow

Paradise Inn was built in 1916 and is absolutely magnificent with its huge cedar beams, tables, benches and Native American décor.


View from my room


As the season went along and the snow melted, the grasses and wildflowers started growing bringing the mountain to life.

On my days off I took drives to all the beautiful waterfalls and trails in this wonderful rainforest filled with moss covered trees. 

Almost every day I saw deer and fox as I was walking around the area. 

Magnificent Buck!

Mt. Rainier lodge was totally different than the Princess Lodge in Alaska.  In Alaska, most of the guests were coming from the cruise ships, older and not in great physical shape.  At Mt. Rainier, the majority of the guests came up for the climbing, hiking, picnicking and enjoying the mountain.  Many people came for the week-ends with their packed lunches and backpacks to enjoy the great outdoors.

It felt like you could reach up and touch the mountain!

Before I knew it, summer turned to fall and the vibrant orange and red colors started to appear.

A black bear started hanging around the lodge looking for a hand out.  Another sure sign that winter was on its way.

The last evening of the season the staff all got together in the lobby and watched “The Shining” a very creepy and fun old movie.  It totally reminded us of the lodge where we were, especially since this lodge is buried under tons of snow during the winter.  The next day as I was getting ready to leave, the bear that had been hanging around the lodge broke through the window into the dining room.  It was also starting to snow.  It was definitely time for me to go home after a great season!

January 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment