postheadericon Judging In Alaska 2013

I am a little late in reporting my July trip to Alaska to judge on the beautiful Kenai Peninsula. After I got home from Alaska, I realized that I had neglected to renew my elementary principal certificate and needed to take six graduate credit hours before September first to do so.  So the crunch was on.  I took two online courses and could not believe how tough they were and how much work.  I spent the month of August letting everything go except the keyboard of my laptop.  I got little else done but study, take exams, and write a multitude of essays.  I was so obsessed with finishing by the deadline and doing well, which I did, that when I was done I did not know what to do with myself as I had been so consumed with the work.  I would like to take another course as despite the pressure I really did enjoy learning, but at $500.  a course, it will be awhile.

My friend, Dr. Rosalind Batley, went with me and we had a wonderful time.  I enjoyed the judging assignment immensely. After the judging one evening we were invited to a get together of Cavalier breeders and exhibitors. We had a wonderful time talking Cavaliers and seeing some very pretty dogs.

After the judging we took off to see a bit of the country which is so lovely and still very unpopulated and wild.  We were there in the Salmon Running season and fisherman from all over the world were their getting their catch.  Every Alaskan citizen are allowed to catch so many Salmon to stock their freezers for the year.  I do so love the state and if I were younger, who knows, I might wish to live there.  I love the Alaskan “can do” spirit and the people. 

Rosalind and I took a full day glacier and wildlife cruise.  We had a great time and found it a great learning experience.  We had beautiful weather and great sightings of wildlife.  Below I am using photos taken by the tour company itself with their permission to use them as they were better than any we could take.   The animals and scenery were truly awe inspiring


While in Homer we went to the Sea Life Museum which was fascinating.



While in Homer we visited the Mitch Seavey Iditarod Sled Dogs and even rode a sledding cart behind a team.  Being a dog person, this just may have been my favorite part of touring.  The Seavey team keeps about one hundred Alaskan Huskies and has won the Iditarod more than once.  It was so interesting finding out all about the dogs, the breeding program, raising and training, and the conditioning of the dogs.  It seems as if those involved with racing are consumed with it with their whole lives wrapped around the dogs and their welfare.  Planning breedings and bringing puppies along is very similar to raising show dogs, but so much harder.  Too much work for me!


postheadericon Wolf Haven

In September, my buddy Margaret Valentine, the co owner of two of my best in show dogs, Ch. Marshell Rattlebridge Renoir and Ch. Rattlebridge Adagio, flew up to Seattle so I could judge the Cavaliers of Puget Sound Cavalier Specialty and two all breed shows. It was just great to be with Margaret again as we have traveled the world together but since our lives have changed and she is not showing anymore and my showing is more limited, we do not see each other as often as we did or spend as much time together. We are not only friends but best buddies. clip_image001

While in Seattle, we went to Wolf Haven, a sanctuary and wolf breeding and pre release facility to add to efforts to

bring the Mexican grey wolf back from near extinction. clip_image005

Separate family trees have been created so that healthy lines develop from out crossing. clip_image003

Wolves have always fascinated me and the fact that they have been killed into almost extinction breaks my heart. clip_image006clip_image004

The following photos show the difference in salvation and wolf genocide.


postheadericon My Trip To China

I was invited to judge in Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province of China in December and enjoyed the experience immensely. The people were great, the dogs really good, and the country beautiful. The only time I realized that we were in a Communist country was crossing into the mainland from Hong Kong where guards thoroughly checked documents and when I tried to get on the World Wide Web in my hotel room and could not connect. I had the internet but was not able to surf the web. clip_image002

I flew into Hong Kong a few days early to see the sights and go shopping. Big mistake!!! Hong Kong is a very interesting and vibrant city with a past. Owned by the British for a long time, it reflects the British presence and way of life of yore. The British had all the rights and the Chinese were really on the lower rungs of society. Of course, that has very much changed. Present day Chinese has a mixture of cultures, languages, and nationalities. clip_image004

In the early 1800’s British merchants traded opium for Chinese silks, silver, tea, and spices. From the British colony of India, the Brits had an inexhaustible of opium from the Indian poppy fields and sent an overabundance of the drug into China causing the Chinese government to challenge the trade because of the spread of addiction and the draining of the Chinese coffers for the drug the first Opium War when Opium was banned by the Emperor and then his son leading to the Opium wars began ending with the ceding of Hong Kong Island to the British until 1997 when it returned to Chinese rule.hen the Opium wars began ending in China ceding the Island to the Brits until 1997 when Hong Kong once more became part of China called the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. clip_image006

Hong Kong is a huge city and full of life. There are vendors hawking many black market items on every street in the business district. Hong Kong is full of all nationalities but the British and American influences are all over. Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most popular franchise in China KFC, McDonald’s, Shakey’s Pizza, and many other American contributions to society are very evident. I was looking I found a tailor shop and went a little crazy. Jackets and blouses and pant suits. Since I have been confining myself to shopping at Good Will for over a year, I did not feel sooooo bad, but trust me it will be Good Will for two more years.


The dog show was held in Guangzhou , in Guangdong Province.  The dog club took extremely good care of us when we arrived on a Thursday.  Our tour guides Jo Ann and Jerry showed us all over, museums and fine restaurants.  Talk about weight gain! I judged with two Canadian judges; we had a grand time together with our wonderful tour guides.  The venue was the tented parking lot and plaza of a large mall.  The concrete was covered by indoor/outdoor kind of carpet which was soaked by the damp weather and rain dripping through a few tears in the tenting.  My feet were soaked at the end of the day.  All the exhibitors, ring stewards and show officials were wonderful to us.  It was a great day.   




I decided I needed to get away since I have not taken a trip for years that did not center around dogs, shows, judging, or dog people. For the most part, I have traveled the world alone. Al went with me in the beginning to Australia, New Zealand, dog shows in this country, and to England and Europe.  In fact it was on a trip with our kennel club to Windsor dog show in the UK that we discovered Cavaliers in 1989.  The rest is history!  As I said, I am quite used to traveling alone as Al just never wanted to go after his series of different cancers started, but I knew I had to go and with his blessing I did with him knowing that when he needed me home, I would be there.  I have not had a chance to renew myself since Al died and I needed this respite.

pix boading

I chose a Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean featuring Mass and the rosary every day said by Msgr. Michael Patrick Aloysius Flanagan.  An Irishman right up my alley!

DSC00493 DSC00491

So many people have acted astonished when I said I was going alone or found out on board that I was alone.  I have become my own best company and I am never am alone as God is with me. I took this cruise as part of my spiritual journey to concentrate on my relationship with God without all the distractions of home. I have the dogs and home base covered and am on a great adventure sitting on my balcony reading or praying, taking excursions which I will describe and for which I will display photos, or hanging out with new friends who will stay friends forever I believe.

These are the pictures leaving Miami.


The Carnival Valor is a wonderful ship; so many amenities and such wonderful service.  I got a balcony room so I could sit out, look at the sea, and pray and meditate which worked well the first couple of days. Food was great, but I kept trotting (oh, alright, walking!) around the ship so I would not roll off the ship disembarking. I am probably one of the few cruisers to lose weight on a cruise;  since I have been gluten free for several months now, I stayed away from all the yummy desserts.  The name of the Valor honors many valiant men and women from every country: Churchill, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks,  several of our Presidents, authors, scientists and so on.


The staff of the Valor is made up of people from every race and country.  I had several discussions with staff about how all of them get along in such close proximity and for seven to nine month tours.  From what I understand, the staff gets along extremely well with no segregating into different races or cultures.  I was amazed at all the positive interactions that I witnessed between staff members no matter the hierarchy of their jobs.

We left Miami on December 4 with the first stop being Grand Cayman Island on the 6th.
Carnival Valor-25%The Valor-25%

Pix of my stateroom.  I had a wonderful balcony!

DSC00308 stateroom

The tender boat leaving the Valor for shore adventures

The tender boat leaving the Valor for exploring.

Grand Cayman

Our first port of call was Grand Cayman, a very busy port with several cruise ships disembarking at the same time causing crowded conditions as the cruisers met their excursions or began shopping in the many duty free shops. Jewelry stores were everywhere.  I resisted and went on an excursion to kiss dolphins and stingrays.


Stingray City!!

Kissing a stingray was a new experience.  They seem to congregate around a reef a distance away from the Grand Cayman Island shore.  The the early 1900″’s, the fishermen cleaned their fish on the reef which has only waist high water. Over the years the reef became a stingray feeding ground. They have grown very tame in the ensuing years; it is strange to feel them brush against one’s legs.  I have kissed a lot of frogs in my life, but never a stingray.

kissing a stringray



My new friends Gary and Judy

gary and judy

A stingray!!!

Now kissing my dolphin friend was a wonderful experience. The best action I had in a year and a half!!! Dancing with a dolphin was one of the happiest experiences I have had in a long time. Dolphins are so very very bright. They have their own language and are so easily trained.  They are thinkers and communicators, easily establishing relationships with humans and other dolphins. While at the Dolphin sanctuary, rehabilitation  and training center, I talked to the staff about my hesitancy to see Dolphins and whales trained for tourist attractions; as demeaning in my book as using the other extremely bright family and social animal, the Elephant, in run down circuses and side shows.  The director explained that by attracting tourists, education about Dolphins and the need for the preservation, protection, rescue, and rehabilitation of  Dolphins could ensure the welfare of Dolphins to oppose the wholesale slaughtering of Dolphins as depicted in the horrendously upsetting movie of a couple of years ago, The Cove. If not for zoos, sanctuaries, and and rescue centers, many of our endangered species would be gone forever due mankind’s greed, selfishness, and shortsightedness.

dance with the dolphin


Now after my great Dolphin experience I have finally seen Dolphin Tale which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I am in love with Dolphins and their almost human understanding and communication skills. I also enjoyed seeing the many beautiful Island birds.

Don't even think of biting my nose! Don’t even think of biting me!


Cozumel is a rather large and lovely  Mexican port of call.  My friends Linda and Everetto from Chicago and I spent the time together exploring a bit. After doing all our “shopping” we went to Carlos’ n Charlies restaurant with a lot of local color and good authentic Mexican food.  The staff was not very cordial when we first arrived until my “Brooklyn” tone began with my limited Spanish vocabulary. We were then seated in another table by the head waiter, manager, or owner—we did not know which. We were treated royally and had lots of fun with the nicely “crazy” waiters.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was lively to say the least.

Typical Historical Cozumel Indian Dress

Typical Historical Cozumel Indian Dressthe Indians

Carolos’ n Charlies

Carlos and Charleys in Cozumel--wonderful timeDSC00373Everetto and Linda my new friends!Ambiance in Carlos and Charleys- our favorite place in Cozumel- maybe anywhere!DSC00377

Cozumel mode of transportation!common mode of transportation in Cozumel!


Belize City was my favorite port of call although the tourist area was much more limited than in Grand Cayman or Cozumel. Belize is fighting its way out of third world status although there is almost no employment. Belize shares its problem with homelessness and unemployment as do many countries even we who should be dealing with unemployment, homelessness, lack of life insurance for so many of our citizens, our massive number of foreclosures, and hunger especially in our children. Belize is a developing country while we our the richest nation in the world with wealth and a high standard of living unattainable by most of our citizens seemingly ending the “American dream.”  (Okay, okay soapbox over.)

At every port of call was a local humane society booth where one could learn about the activities of the humane society and donate to the cause.  Of course, I donated at every one as in developing countries the animals usually fare worse than the people.  In Belize I struck up a conversation with the volunteers. After exploring the very limited stores, we took a buggy ride to see most of Belize City which is comprised of a few businesses , new construction, public and private schools, old colonial houses dating back to its being a British holding, and the mostly ramshackle housing for the locals.  Unemployment is very high; the Belize dollar or currency is eighteen to one American dollar, but eighteen Belize coins won’t buy a chicken! Belize City is a mix of new construction, old colonial style houses, and rather ramshackle houses or even shacks.   Many of the houses are built on stilts due to the floods that hit yearly.

Our buggy driver, a college student, told us quite a bit about the history, government, and problems in Belize.  Belize is developing slowly. It is English speaking. Crime of course is a big problem as where there is great unemployment and poverty, there is crime.  The Crips and the Bloods gangs are very active in Belize and the government is making strides in bringing them together. I, as ever the animal advocate, noticed that most of the horses were in okay condition, but there was one very old horse in horrible condition with every bone showing and looking so fatigued and drained.  I, ever the animal advocate marched up to the humane society booth and expressed my deep concerns as I know horses and can assess their condition immediately. One of the officials of the humane society, an American ex patriot (there are quite a few in Belize and I am tempted to join them). She asked me to immediately put my thoughts on paper to be published in the Belize City newspaper which I did.  She said that the buggy rides and other tourist attractions were controlled by the drug cartels which did not care about animal welfare. Tough sledding there.  If I lived in Belize, I would probably be killed by the drug cartels for my aggressive stand on animal and children welfare.

Belize Boardwalk



Christmas in Belize


Belize Harbor

BelizeBelize boats againBelize inclding yellow schoolbus

Linda and Everetto.  Our buggy ride.

DSC00389Our Buggy Ride

The Old and the New—Scenes Around Belize City

old and new in Belize. Many houses date back to Colonial times.Another typical hose in Belize. Most of the cars are from the UStypical hose in Belize

Chinese shop in BelizeBelize houses on stilts because of flooding.Rehab anyone

Flowers are everywherealways dogs!Belize playgrond.  Soccer is big!Park in Belize City

Iguanas are Everywhere!

Iguanas, Iguanas!

Roatan Isla

Mahogany Bay

Flowers are Everywhere

flowersflowers 3flowers 2flowers 2 (2)DSC00426

Scenes from the Port

Harly old shipfountain center of Roatan the drinking placelovely house

A Scene from the Museum Depicting the History of Roatan


The display of the history of the Garinagua people of Roatan, Honduras and Belize was fascinating.  I photographed parts of the displays to chronicle the history of the Garinaguas:

history 1history 3histry 2 histry 4fisherman rise beforecassava

frm the beginning, the Roatan peoplegarinagu have expanded rootsvillages around Hondoras baytoday the garingauwe are tge children of survivors

Roatan Isla is truly a jewel.  I intend to return and spend more time in this beautiful island.

I loved the cruise and cannot wait to take another which will not be in the near future as my Wendy, Ch. Rattlebridge Dutch Treat ROM, is now fourteen and one half and mourns deeply when I leave her.  She has been my emotional support all her life and every day with her is precious.  It is just to hard for  both of us to be separated.  I may be away a weekend for a dog show now and again, but taking another cruise, the most enjoyable time I have had in years, will just have to wait.

Ch. Rattlebridge Dutch Treat ROM