Monday, October 17, 2011

Dryer Fire!

I've always heard it...and it's not that I didn't believe it...I just never thought it would actually happen.  I've been told to never leave my dryer running when I am not home, and today I learned why firsthand.  I am sitting at my desk at work when a passer-through comes in and advises us to call the fire department.  Our shelter was up in smoke.  Leaving my office manager to make the call, my first concern was for the animals inside.  I bolted out the door only to meet a heavy smell of burning and a cloud of smoke exiting the front door.  Without a thought, I ran in. 

Finding the source of the smoke to be the backside of our dryer, I quickly turned the machine off and ran to grab crates.  The cat room was filled with a nearly opaque film.  I had to get them out before the inhalation caused any serious effects.  

With each pass, I held my breath as long as I could while stuffing feline after feline into crates and passing them out to my co-workers.  Each time I exited the building, I was forced to cough up the smoke.  As the tears were streaming down my face and the snot was pouring from my nose, my thoughts turned to a video I once watched of a set of marines running out of the gas chamber.  Though I am certain it was nowhere close to the torture they endured, my reaction to the smoke inhalation produced similar results.

Our kennel attendant then came in to help and we were able to get the rest of the cats to the safety of the fresh outdoor air.  

Our concern then turned from necessary action to precaution.  The fire department was still not on scene and we didn't know how long the dryer would smoke before it finally burst into flames.  We were not going to chance losing the rest of the animals by simply neglecting to use the time we had available.  We moved into the dog kennels where one by one we put the dogs in the outdoor pens and crates of their own. 

Finally, we realized the smoke was seeping into the isolation room that housed about a dozen more felines.  As we started to remove these animals, the fire department showed up just in time for the dryer to explode into a full blown blaze.  They were able to extinguish the flames as we removed the last of the animals.

We proceeded to let the building air out a bit before cleaning the kennels and replacing the animals into their temporary home.  A few hours after the initial exposure, myself and the kennel attendant were re-examined by the local EMS team for slight chest pains from smoke inhalation.  We were put on oxygen for a bit to clear our lungs. 

All in all, however, we counted the day successful and were content in knowing that we were able to escape with no casualties.  We also came out with a great appreciation for the efforts of firefighters on a daily basis.  It is no simple task to be taken lightly.  As I write, I am left with a feeling of thankfulness...for my own heart and for the heart of others who without a second thought threw ourselves into the situation regardless of any danger it might have entailed.  With this, I am reassured that I am right where I need to be.

And of course...a lesson learned...because if I were not home, it would be my own animals trapped and I would not be there to rescue them.  Lucky for me...and hopefully, after reading this, for will never happen.       


Friday, September 16, 2011

Mercy Killing?

This post is a bit somber...but truth often times is.  I would like to introduce you to a part of my job...a part of my life...that I hate.  

Euthanasia, from the Greek meaning "good death", is defined as the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.  Often times in my line of work, this is the case.  I have no problem putting animals out of their misery.  If this was the only form of euthanasia I had to perform, I would be ecstatic.

However, more often the second definition prevails...a painless death.  Today, these dogs had their lives stolen from them simply because there was no one to take them home :( 
May God forgive me and may God rest there souls <3

Euthanizing these wonderful creatures is hard...and it NEVER gets easier...EVER!  I dream of a day that I can come to work and not have to worry about whether or not the shelter will be full.  Whereas we do push really hard here and we do have a really good adoption rate, it is not good enough.  I am forced to perform this cruelessly cruel act too often for my own heart. 

But how can we convince the world to spay and neuter and stop breeding when there are so many people out there purchasing puppies for ridiculous amounts of money?  How can we convince hunters to stop releasing their hounds into the streets when they are past their prime of hunting years?  Today and every day like today...I am frustrated...and sad...and heartbroken. 

If there is anyone out there who can provide a loving home for a new four-footed family member, please let me know.  I am confident that I can find someone here deserving of your love and savior.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Night with Irene

Now that power has been restored and things have settled back to "normal", I just thought I'd share my account of the recent hurricane... 

It started for me the friday before.  As members of Animal Services, we wanted to be sure that we were prepared for whatever rescues the storm may have entailed.  I spent my day packing up a horse trailer filled with crates, towels, blankets, water buckets, etc.  Though the media was currently down playing the storm, we figured we'd take the "better safe than sorry" approach.  I then proceeded home for my first late night. 

We were on a 24 hour shift Saturday at the shelter and I had pulled the 7pm to 7am.  Trying to keep myself awake as late as possible, I must have watched half a season of a new show, "Switched at Birth," that I am currently obsessed with.  I proceeded to bed around 3am and made every attempt I could to sleep through the rain and my dogs barking the next day.  I gave myself a little extra time to drive to work and headed in around 6pm.  It was still pouring down rain when I got to work and found that our quarter mile long driveway was already blocked with a downed tree..

As my truck was trapped down at the shelter, I drove one of the other officers home and headed back in for my late night adventure.  I returned back to the downed tree around 8:30pm.  We were told we could hang out at the generator run EOC, however my main concern was for that of the animals currently being housed in our shelter.  I needed to make sure that they were okay.  And so...I did it. 

I took the quarter mile hike down the driveway in the midst of a hurricane.  I can't even begin to describe in words the feelings going on in my head as I walked.  The water was gushing like a creek beneath my feet.  The wind was moaning like an old man in pain or a dog in the midst of a dream.  The trees were bent over me in an arch and I found myself waiting for them to snap...wondering if they did, if I would be able to make it past them in time.  It was scary and thrilling all rolled into one.  I felt alive.

Soaking wet, I made it to the shetler.  Once inside the powerless concrete building, I checked on every animal in their kennels.  Everyone appeared to be alright.  The only lights I had been able to find at the local panic-stricken Wal-Mart were tiki torches.  I lit them and tried to ignore the smoke that was dancing around in the flicker of the flames.  I set up "camp" on the floor atop some dog blankets (freshly worries :)

I found a "parter in crime" to hang out with..."Pepper" is a pointer mix who actually belongs to one of the other officers that lives in the county.  He brought her to the shelter for safe keeping during the hurricane and I chose to have her lay with me for the night.   


Though a bit uneasy of the whipping wind outside, she made for some good company in the dark all by my lonesome.  I layed back against the file cabinets and settled in for the night.  After a few minutes though, I became a play toy :)  At first it startled me, but then, it kept me laughing.  "Sugar", the cat in the cage above my head, had apparently gotten bored in the dark and found palying with my hair to be a fascinating endeavor...

I found a peacefulness sitting in the dark listening to the moaning wind outside.  I nestled up with friends and began a rather uneventful night of crocheting and energy drinks.  

Listening to the police scanner, I was amazed at all of the accidents the officers were responding to.  We were in the midst of a hurricane...a flippin HURRICANE...and people found it necessary to be out driving, even late at night.  What could be so important to risk your lives out driving in the middle of a hurricane?  Our one and only call came in around 12:30am.  A woman was involved in a car accidnt and needed to be taken to the hospital.  She had a cat with her in the car so we needed to respond to pick it up.  The other officer who was on duty with me decided to take the call as he was out on the roads.  I then met him at the downed tree to bring the cat back to the shelter.  I did not know her name, so I simply called her "Irene". 

Do not worry.  She was returned to her owner the following day.  But that was the extent of my night with Irene.  I crotcheted and enjoyed my peace in the dark until 7am when I went out exploring.  The following are pictures of the "devastation" of the hurricane...

    Some people lost fences...some lost pools...others lost rooms of their homes...
While these things are minor and replaceable, my heart goes out to the families of the two who lost their lives in this storm.  To us, Irene was night of sitting in a dark shelter surrounded by concrete and candlelight.  To these families, it was huge...forever altering their lives.  Life is all about circumstance...That night and every night, I am reminded of this.  For today, I am thankful that I and mine are safe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekend with a Mission

Spent this past weekend in Virginia Beach.  If you have read my profile, then you know that I am a great lover of sunrises over the ocean.  This first photo needs no explanation and if you didn't share my passion before, you surely will after experiencing one...

Ah...a bit of peace in this chaotic world.

The rest of the weekend was a little less than peaceful, though it did bestow a great wealth of knowledge that you may or may not find interesting.  But since this is my blog and it interests me, here it goes :) ...

I spent the weekend in a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training class.  For the first few days I listened and participated.  The last day, I took a few photographs to share.  

Dilemma:  There is a horse that has wandered into a mud hole and is now stuck...   

Granted, the horse pictured was constructed from a water drum, some PVC pipes and some wooden boards, but the rescue in such would be the same :)  First step was to place the bucket under the horses nose to keep him from drowning in the mud.  Without going into too much detail, the following steps involved using a fire truck pumping water and a few tools created specifically for these rescues...

The "Nicopoulis needle" forces water through the mud to allow space to feed the webbing through...

Once the webbing is in place, the handles are attached to the lift on the crane...

 With a little power from the crane...VOILA!!!!!! The horse is released from the dangerous pull of the mud...

And just for fun, if it was a real emergency situation, the results would look a little more like this:

A special thank you to "Torque" for putting up with our shananigans of the weekend.  Him and his sister, "Aerial" were wonderful sports :)  If you find any interest in this short blurb you have seen, then I absolutely recommend the class, which is open to anyone.  Apparently "CARTs" (County Animal Rescue Teams) exist around the world to assist with the search and rescue of animals during disasters.  All of the information you need can be found at  I highly encourage anyone open to the idea to get involved as there truly is a great need.
The training took place at a the Virginia Beach Mounting Patrol Facility, so I will leave you with a few of my favorites...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

i am less

Today, I cried...for reasons, for no reason...because I can and because sometimes, it's what I do.  For some reason after crying, I feel pretty.  Random, I know, yet true nonetheless.  Earlier today it rained...the beautiful rain that makes me happy...where the sun shines down and sometimes, rainbows appear.  When the rain and the tears stopped, I set out on an endeavor in my backyard.  I didn't feel like smiling, but my tripod and my timer captured possibly my favorite self photo ever...

I know right?  I can't believe it either.  Anyhow, I took the pics and played around in Lightroom (photo editing software) a little more than usual.  I'm not usually one to care for super edited photos, but today with my serene mood and pictures of myself, I felt artsy.

When I posted these pics to my personal facebook page, they were immediately greeted with a comment from a girlfriend which stated, "i want your flat stomach. super jeal..."  to which I responded, "i want your skinny legs."  In light of my recent activity, this conversation was perfectly placed.  You see, along with my random endeavor came a bit of self reflection.  I am entitled to these days...I am after all, a girl :)  So, being as I am new to this whole blogging thing and many of you do not know me, I thought I would share...
I am not perfect, and I am THE first to admit it.  Nobody is.  But why is it that we are constantly searching for more?  Why is it that we are always wanting something else?  It doesn't matter how many people tell me I am beautiful, it is my own opinion that matters the most.  As I am sure it is the like with each of you.  Today, much like other days before, I sit and ponder why so much anyway. 

I am a child of God...a very sovereign God who loves me very much, just the way I am.  Today, as always, I am thankful for grace.  And to all you women out there, you are all beautiful...everyone in their own wonderfully complex way.  I would love to photograph more women as individuals, so if you would like to embark on your own personal endeavor, please contact me.

  <3 xoxo <3

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life Lessons in Photography?

I first spoke with Kristen a few days before our scheduled session.  She stated that they would need senior portraits taken, however would like to take a few additional together if possible.  After the conversation, I gathered that I would be photographing a male high school senior as well as his family...

It had rained the night before and we really weren't sure as to how limited we would be due to its after effects, however decided to go for it anyway.  I waited for Kristen and her family to arrive at Brown's Island this bleak Saturday morning, guessing as each car passed what to expect.  A single mother and her son?  A family of five children?  Would they bring the dog?

As Kristen and Quinton walked up to introduce themselves, I was reminded of how misguided telephone conversations can be.  You see, Quinton would be graduating from Virginia Union University in May and Kristen was not his mother, but his girlfriend :)  I explained to them what I had anticipated and we shared a laugh as I got to know them a little.  And then we were off...
Weathering the cold plus a few outfit changes behind a blanket in the parking lot, the day turned out to be a successful one...

Just a daily reminder that situations, circumstances...and well, life for that matter...may not always be as they appear.  For now, I suppose the only thing left to say is...Congratulations Quinton!!!