Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I have to warn you - this blog post isn't really about animals. It's about my other passion - triathlons. But now that I think about it, doing one really gives me the energy to do the other.

This past weekend, I raced a super sprint triathlon in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was actually pretty excited to race the shortest triathlon the same year I was going to do the longest (Ironman Florida). The first time I raced the Ft. Lauderdale tri was in 2002. I didn't fare so well. I was so nervous -- I had stomach problems the entire time. Even ended up in the woods twice before the finish. So embarrassing. After I finally finished, I called my mom back in Michigan. She was so proud of me even if I had sticks stuck underneath my bathing suit. She was celebrating over the phone -- bragging about her daughter. That was the first and only triathlon she would hear about. I lost her months later to lung cancer.

2009 was the year to go back to this pivotal race. I just wanted to gauge how much I had improved in 7 years. I knew it'd be short. I told my husband not to even miss his Saturday ride for my event. I went alone. Boy, I was so much more relaxed this year. No nausea, no nerves. I was a veteran now. Just came to sprint & go home to drink my coffee & eat my Combos.

For those of you who know me, I'm not very technical. I don't wear a watch, don't have a power meter & hate wearing a heart rate monitor (irritates my skin). I go on "perceived exertion." So typical me didn't even wear a watch to this race. I didn't know I took first in my age group until my friend Jim Van Putten Facebooked me later that day! Got to love FaceBook.

I know Ironman is going to be so much more of a beast than this sprint but I'm ready. Even though it took only 50 minutes, this event is very special to me. It was the race that I could celebrate with my mom. This year, I just celebrated with her in a different way -- each step of the way, she was yelling in my ear, "Go Liss!" I'm sure the same words will be heard in my head during the Ironman on November 7th.

My mom's encouraging words didn't just ring loudly in my tri world -- they were always there in my animal rescue work too. She was my biggest supporter in two of the most important facets of my life. She still is. I know. I can hear her.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I've been swimming with Brig for a few years now. Our Masters Swim practice usually ends with cat rescue discussions in the parking lot. She'll tell me how many she trapped the previous week & I'll tell her how many emails I've received from people who need help with stray cats. I knew Brig was hardcore and she wanted to help as much as she could each day but it wasn't until I "covered" for her one night did I realize what an asset she is to the homeless cats in our community.

I found out Brig feeds 10 feral colonies each night!! And the colonies are dispersed all over our area. From down at the beach to out near the Everglades. It's this quiet caring that drew me to her & made me want to help. While she was out of the country, I fed just one of her colonies on a Monday night. I took a big bag of dry food as well as a couple of canned & spread it around in a parking lot. Wow, you should've seen all the cats that appeared. It was amazing. I counted more than 35. These little ones wait for Brig each night. I can't believe her commitment.

I'm a big proponent in spaying/neutering. Feeding is fine but the only way to really help these cats is to alter them. Brig knows this & has done her best to fix as many as she can afford. Of the 35(ish) I fed, only 1/2 were altered. She ran out of money. I'm determined to help this colony. I'm involved now. If you want to help me help Brig's cats, please respond & together, we can put a dent in this escalating overpopulation issue. If you saw the cats, you'd just want to. Thank you and thanks Brig!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I love cycling. Even more, I love cycling with a bunch of guys who are better than I am. Makes me work harder. The other day, I was grinding it out in the pace line when I saw something flapping in the middle of the road. I realized it was a large crow who had probably been hit by a car. In a split second, I made the decision to pull out of the roaring line of cyclists to check on the bird.

I'm so glad I stopped. The bird had hobbled its way onto an embankment to steer clear of traffic. I stood there on my bike wondering "What the heck am I going to do now?" I rode my bike to the nearest shopping plaza where I asked a postal worker to give me a box. I then rode back to the bird with the box only to realize there was no way I could fit him in there. He was a big boy!

I quickly rode to my car & called the Wildlife Care Center in Ft. Lauderdale. Since it was early on a Sunday morning, I got their machine. Dead end. With nothing to lose, I called Palm Beach Animal Care & Control. Bingo! Their dispatcher told me an officer would come but it would take a while to find me. No problem.

While waiting, I saw the crow's friends circle around squawking at him wondering why he wasn't flying with them. It was heart wrenching to see that camaraderie. 40 minutes passed and the truck arrived. I directed the officer to the bird.

The officer was great. She put her gloves on & picked the crow up to put him in a carrier. He was so peaceful at this point. It was almost as if he knew help had arrived. She told me he would go to a sanctuary about an hour north to see if he could be rehabbed. I was so pleased. No matter what happened to him at that point, he was in better shape than when I had found him.

I may have not raced with the boys that morning but I felt like the true winner!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Milly moved many

I got a call late one night a few months ago from Mark, an old friend. He was doing hurricane Ike road cleanup in Houston, Texas and wanted to know how to start an animal rescue because he was tired of seeing all of the homeless street dogs there. I told him not to waste his time setting up an organization when Animal Matters would gladly help him in his quest to save some of these dogs. So, we went into action.

The next day, Mark spotted a small, old severely-matted Poodle mix walking in circles in an abandoned parking lot. “Milly,” as later named her, finally hit the jackpot in her weathered life. Mark picked her up, put her in his truck, and started grooming her with his industrial scissors he had in his toolbox. A few clips & voila(!), a cute face appeared. With some matted fur freed, she felt like a new gal! About a month or so, Milly lived in Mark’s truck & pet-unfriendly motel until we could devise a plan to get her to me in south Florida. Turns out, she had leg problems, was about 90% blind and had heartworms. No problem, I thought. She’s small…I can still find her a home.

Mark ended up renting a car & drove her from Houston to Orlando where Alex, our volunteer, took her in. She lived with Alex for about a month & started heartworm treatment & got the TLC she needed until she made her way down here to me. Just days before Milly was to come to Boca, she took a turn for the worse. She stopped eating her favorite foods and became extremely lethargic. We had several tests run & while awaiting results, she passed away on her comfy bed in Alex’s room. Ironically, I never got to meet Milly. That’s so hard for me to believe. She had become such a big part of my life & I never even got to touch her. Through Mark and then Alex, I got to know so much about her…her limping, running into things, funny antics, and just how plain ‘ole easy she was. Those two guys made her last days on this earth so loving, happy and peaceful. I’m forever grateful to them.

My husband and I decided to have Milly cremated. We’re big believers in treating our rescues just like we treat our own pets if they passed. She did not die like a street dog nor will she be remembered that way. She was family. Finding Milly brought out the best in the people who surrounded her. She reconnected old friends, shined a light on how fantastic Mark and Alex are (already knew this) and how awesome my husband continues to be after all these years. Milly’s rescue and passing proved that a small group of compassionate people can make wonderful things happen.

Thank you Milly. It is YOU who made our lives richer. God bless you little girl.