I recently had the opportunity to volunteer with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Control at one of their monthly adoption events at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte. I must say that I was nervous going in, as I have a soft spot for animals, dogs especially. I was concerned that it would be difficult for me to be around the animals without taking one home by the end of the day. I made it out alone, but it was tough.

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That beautiful little girl above is Brannigan. She was my responsibility for the day as dozens, if not hundreds of people came through the center court drooling (pun intended) over the puppies and kittens. Brannigan was left at the shelter as a puppy because her owners could not take care of her. Unfortunately a lot of animals end up at the shelter for this reason, but those are the luckier ones. Others are simply driven away from their home and dropped off, penned up as a family moves away or is evicted, or even left in apartments when people move out or skip town.

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Seriously, how could you do something like that to a face like this!? It’s audacious what people will do when they only have their own interests in mind. One family that was looking for a new puppy actually admitted to having recently given a dog up to the shelter because they weren’t allowed to have one where they were living. Now that they were in a place that allowed animals they were ready for another. Sounds like a five year old with a new toy to me.

OK. I’ll digress. More about Brannigan. She was a doll. She was super full of energy in the morning, and out of the 20 or so other dogs (there were about 12 cats too), I believe she may have hogged all the Red Bull. But, with all of that energy comes a great crash later when it’s all gone! She hit the end of it after about three hours and could then care less about the festivities. She found a spot of sun and passed out. But before she did, I found out that she was quite the ham and definitely knew how to be bribed. I was able to teach her to sit on command and lie down (on occasion) when I was using bones as my bait.

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Now, more regarding the Animal Control branch that was putting on the adoption event. I must say that I had things all wrong. Whenever I would see a white van or truck driving around with “Animal Control” on the side I always envisioned some pissed off forty something with pent up aggression after being bit as a toddler. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The truth is that everyone involved with Animal Control that I met had the utmost feeling of responsibility for all of the animals that ended up in their care. Their sole goal is to make sure that no animal be put down for any reason that can be prevented.

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Unfortunately, due to overcrowding, aggression, disease and other reasons, that’s not always possible. But these folks work tirelessly week in and out to give the animals the best shot at a long, prosperous life that they can. Much of the help comes from volunteers that may work upwards of 30-40 hours a week with the shelters in their spare time cleaning cages, animals, and helping with adoptions. This is truly selfless work.

The dog below is Spot. Spot was the most awesome lap dog I’ve seen in a long time. (Well, my best friend Josh has a 90lb lab that thinks he’s a lap dog too, so Spot might take second place.) Spot loved to be standing on his trainers knees with his head up on her shoulder. If he wasn’t, he was snuggling up as close as possible on her lap. Spot was lucky enough to get adopted that day, but unfortunately Brannigan wasn’t.

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I do my volunteering in Charlotte through Hands On Charlotte, which allows each person to look at an online calendar of dozens of events and choose which to help at. Everyone I’ve worked with on various events is great and it’s very easy to get involved for as little or as much time as possible. Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Control can give you more information on what it takes to adopt an animal. There is also an adoption list of animals currently seeking new homes. Sadly at the time I am writing this there are 48 dogs, 23 cats, and 6 other types of animals that need homes. Many of those dogs were at the adoption event I’m writing about, which was almost a month ago.

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Spot was a lucky one. Not only did he get adopted, but he beat the age odds. See, many dogs that are over 2-3 months old are very difficult to adopt out, and it only gets more difficult as the age of the animal goes up. A lot of the things I’ve written here attribute to my long belief in adopting from kennels or shelters as opposed to breeding. There are just too many animals out there that will give just as much love and devotion as an expensive, bred animal, but that may not live to do that if they aren’t adopted soon enough. I also like the idea of adopting a dog that has figured out it’s demeanor. Seems like that would be easier than the guessing game that happens with puppies.

Of course, I did get Brody as a puppy, but he was saved from a kennel. I wouldn’t change that for the world. And I got lucky since he’s one of the best behaved and well-trained dogs I know. Save his dislike for other dogs since he’s been attacked quite a few times in his life.

Well. I could go on about this forever. Bottom line is that we need to keep these animals in mind. If you can’t adopt, find a way to help out once a month, even if it’s just going to a shelter to help clean kennels or bathe the animals. You can also donate, and there’s plenty of things that the shelters need that you might be surprised to hear about – like newspapers! Regardless of what you do, you’ll feel great about what you’re doing and so will the animals that you’re helping. And they’re more than willing to show it with lots of love and kisses.

See you out there!

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After enduring 4-5 inches of snow in Charlotte ,it was time to head to the mountains and play in what was left while the temperatures were rising up through the 70s! The perfect choice was the Mount Mitchell Trail in Pisgah National Forest. True, the intent was to scale this eastern behemoth, which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet, but it just wasn’t in the cards this day. Read the rest of this entry »

So today we took a trip northeast from Charlotte to South Mountain State Park. The park boasts 40 miles of trails with heights nearing 3,000 feet and an 80 foot waterfall, among other features. Joy, Lisa and Alison were my partners in crime this time, but you won’t see any pictures of them because we were having camera issues that day. My batteries died about 15 minutes into the hike and Joy managed to drop hers twice. The second fall was fatal. Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s trip was Congaree National Park, just under two hours south of Charlotte in Columbia, South Carolina. Read the rest of this entry »

So, for those of you that don’t know, I was out in Utah last week doing some work and mixing in a little play. Chris and I decided to head up to Brighton, which is in the Wasatch Forest outside of Salt Lake City, for some snowboarding. I’m definitely going to let the photos do most of the talking this time. (No, really.) Read the rest of this entry »

Morrow Mountain State Park is a great nearby hiking destination often overlooked by the Charlotte crowd. It’s no secret that the “go to” hike (with any elevation that is) would be Crowder’s Mountain State Park, just 45 minutes to an hour west of Charlotte. But Morrow Mountain is just as easy to get to, but easterly out of the city about an hour and fifteen minutes in Albemarle. It’s located in the Uwharrie Mountains, although you may view them more as molehills since the maximum elevation change is just under 1,000 feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Here are some more photos for you to check out! All taken at Bonaventure Cemetery. Enjoy!

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So you’ve met the players. If not, click here and read about them. I rolled into town around 9:45 on Friday night, driving through beautiful overhung roadways heading through town Tess’. She had already given me a call to say that we were going to drop my stuff and head out. So, since then weekend was packed and I want to get you through it all, we’ll try something a little different. The times are mere estimates, but work with me.

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So I have to give a shout out to Gage and Jen Mitchell (The Stewchells – Living Spree blog on the left) for their courage and dedication to making their dreams come true. About six months ago they sold everything except what would fit in their backpacks and embarked on a mission to travel the world. They’re still going. Somewhere along the way they introduced me to CouchSurfing.com, but it took me a while to wake up and put myself out there. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful and lifelong relationship — pushing my own comfort zone and opening myself up to what the world and it’s people have to show me. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I’ve received much deserved flak for not letting my distant friends, and even some close ones, see any pictures of my new house. To be honest, I’m sometimes a bit of a perfectionist, so I’ve been trying to get some much needed work completed before I showed her off. To those of you that have been here or have helped me with furnishings, wine and food; thank you. To those of you that haven’t been over yet, the invite is open. Read the rest of this entry »