Friday, May 15, 2015

Woman's Best Friend (for Dog Lover's Only)


"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, 

educated or illiterate, clever or dull. 

Give him your heart and he will give you his.”

― John GroganMarley and Me

Like a wayward honey bee in flight, in early fall I traveled through the New England states and two provinces—Quebec and Ontario—with my Lhasa apso/Maltese, Tiger. He was sweet and bold. I had rescued the white shaggy-haired pooch in Washington State, where blackberry honey is popular. It was this Bohemian lifestyle—hitching rides with my dog and eating a simple, natural diet (including honey when I could afford it)—that kept me lean and healthy.

Two Wanderlusts, for Richer or Poorer

My Aussie that makes me lighten up
          With my white fluffy, fun-loving pooch in tow I headed toward Canada. (I had to smuggle him into the country because I didn’t have paperwork that was required.) Once we crossed the border, the closer to the city we got, the more disoriented I felt, not accustomed to being like a honey bee in a swarm. The locals spoke fluent French. (I did not.)  The street signs were foreign and the metric system on food labels confused me. I was lost, cold in the mornings and nights, but I had my warmhearted dog that was American.

          One night my canine companion and I spent the night in a forest off the main road. We snuggled up in my sleeping bag. Another creature comfort I enjoyed was the foods I guarded stuffed in my backpack: fresh fruit, nuts, whole-wheat bread, peanut butter—and a jar of clover honey. It was a reality TV show real-life moment when I used my finger to scoop out the creamy butter and gooey honey. And yes, I shared a bit of honey, butter and bread with Tiger (today reminding me of Cerberus, the three-headed dog who was fed a honey cake).

          Tiger and I had cuddled and slept in the backyard of an estate on the outskirts of Quebec, on beaches in Mississippi to the Florida Keys, on an Indian reservation in Arizona, in a cornfield in Kansas, and in the back of a pickup truck under the stars at a motel in Tennessee. From rest stops to national parks, this dog and I were inseparable, like bees and their beekeeper. Tiger was my protector and sounding board. It was comfort foods, honey, peanut butter, and whole-grain crackers from the United States, that didn’t spoil, kept me energized—and I shared with my best friend.

          And while I didn’t know it then, later on as a health author I learned I was eating foods of the Mediterranean diet—heart-healthy honey and peanut butter (in moderation) with a dog that provided heart health benefits, too, by keeping my blood pressure down during stressful and lonely times. 
12 year bond with Brittany Simon

Wheel of Misfortune, Leaving Las Vegas

I faced sweet and bitter experiences on my road travels, like a honey bee in flight; I was stricken by untimely challenges. On afternoon in Las Vegas, Tiger and I were in front of Lady Luck Casino. It was my idea to leave my long-haired partner in the shade with water at the doorstep of the entry way while I tried to hitch a safe ride back home to California. As I was walking inside, an older man called out to me, “Nice dog!" I got an uneasy vibe but tuned it out.

Fifteen minutes later, I left the casino. My beloved companion was MIA. Shocked and disoriented like a beekeeper with stolen bee colonies, I stood outside in the hot sun. I tried to fight back the tears. After a long search through nondescript streets and talking to people with unknown faces--there was no rescue. My canine buddy was gone. I cried all night long.

At dawn, at a cafĂ© I ordered a cinnamon roll, tea, and honey. I was like a devoted beekeeper without his bees. I was alone. It was one of the worst experiences I endured on the road. And flashbacks of our travels from coast to coast haunted me then but now are cherished memories of a dog and a girl—an amazing human-animal bond. I left a photo of me, the hippie girl with her dog in Ontario, on the bulletin board at the local animal shelter in Vegas. Through all the pain and loss, I moved on.
Dogs have emotions; took Simon a while to get over
loss of his Brittany sidekick and give into Skye

A few months later, fate paid me a visit. A black Labrador pup with soulful brown eyes came into my life on the road. We rescued each other at Ocean Beach, San Diego. We bonded instantly like a beekeeper with new queens, and Stone Fox and I, California Butterfly, continued on our journey together.

(Excerpt from The Healing Powersof Honey, published by Kensington).

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