Stop chewing on your sister!

…is something I hope to not have to say to my new daughter.

Her four-legged sisters, on the other hand, hear this at least once a day. I’m constantly amazed by how many times those words come out of my mouth, especially considering that Meera makes her displeasure fully known and Lucy continues to chew on whatever body part she can reach at the time. Some dogs just never learn, I guess.

Meera has actually, physically sat on Lucy in an effort to make her leave her alone… and sometimes that doesn’t even work!

Little sisters. Ya gotta love ’em.

(Little brothers can be a pain-in-the-backside too – I have one of those – but I digress.)

We’re trying to get the girls used to spending longer amounts of time outside now that there are only two months until Baby Roo’s estimated arrival (two months??! only TWO MONTHS!!??), but it’s not working out exactly as planned.

After we finally got our fence put up a few weeks ago, we started letting them out to potty and then leaving them out for extended periods of time. They didn’t like that. In fact, they stopped asking to go outside at all, started having accidents in the house and, when forced outside, refused to leave the porch and would instead cry and whine and throw themselves at the back door for hours. (And yes, they do have dog houses and water and all the necessities out there for their use.)

So we changed tactics a bit. Now, we’re letting them out when they want to go out and back in when they want to come in in an effort to recreate trust in the yard and boost confidence that it is a good place to be.

It’s working… but only half way. Lucy seems to want to be outside. She sits at the back door and watches out the window. She wanders from the door to you and back again. She goes to the door when you stand up. But when you let her out… she comes right back in. She won’t stay outside by herself, even when that is obviously where she wants to be.

Meera, on the other hand, wants no part of the outside world and is perfectly happy pretending the yard does not exist. When I can get her to go out with Lucy, she sits on the porch sadly while Lucy plays by herself in the yard. (You see, Lucy doesn’t need Meera to go down and play with her. She just wants her to be outside at the same time.)

If I let Meera in, Lucy comes in too. Even when Lucy was obviously enjoying herself.

I don’t understand. Meera’s never been as much of a fan of the yard as Lucy, so that makes sense, but she’s never hated it quite as much as she does now. It’s the same yard, with the same space and same toys and same activities, watching the same neighbors go by, as before. It just has a fence around it now.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I really need them both to have those voice collars like Doug in the Pixar movie “Up!” so I can ask questions and they can answer me in human language and tell me what in the world is going on in their heads.

Maybe when Roo gets here and is keeping them awake with her screaming they’ll want to be outside. I don’t know. But they are going to have to start adjusting one way or the other, because the time is fast approaching when outside will be a normal thing – at least during the day.

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How my fur-baby is teaching me to be a parent.

I’ve never gotten a Mother’s Day card. I’ve never had labor pains or contractions. I’ve never sat outside my baby’s door while he cried and prayed for him to soothe himself to sleep.

But I have comforted a scared baby in the middle of the night while the thunder rolls. I have rolled groggily out of bed in the wee hours to take care of bathroom needs. I have inspected poop and discussed bathroom habits at length. I have had a tiny head (or a heavy head, in recent weeks) fall asleep on my chest; I have also woken up with small feet in my ribs. I have taken my baby to sitters’ houses and to the doctor’s office and driven away while she cried and didn’t understand why I was leaving.

She didn’t come from my own body and I didn’t carry her for nine months, but she is no less my baby than someone else’s two-legged human child. And she has and is teaching me many things about how to be a good parent to those human children if and when they hopefully come along.

She has phases just like human children – she throws tantrums, she listens well sometimes and not at others, she is smart one day and sort of dumb the next. I have phases too; phases where I love her so much one moment and want to lock her in a box the next. I feel like that’s probably normal.

The phase we are in now is wanting to sleep on the bed at night, and I am learning a lot from the successes and failures of this phase.

She is allowed on the bed during the day, but has learned that she must (A) be invited, and (B) stay on the blue part of the comforter. These two things have been successful, although I don’t know how they stuck so well, but we at least have that.

In St. Kitts, she slept in the floor but would spend the last hour (between potty time and real waking up time) sleeping on the foot of the bed. When we came back to America, we decided there would be no dogs sleeping on the bed at all. This worked for a while and we didn’t have any problems. Then came the winter, when it was cold and I wanted to avoid taking her out to potty as long as possible. I found Meera would sleep longer and more soundly if we let her sleep at the foot of the bed; so we did. This also served the double purpose of keeping our feet extra toasty. When the summer started, she made us too hot and had to resume sleeping in the floor.

Well, she didn’t like that so much.

At first, she would give us the horrible pleading puppy eyes at bedtime and we wouldn’t have the heart to make her move. She got her way for a while. Then, she would start out in the floor but later disregard the “must be invited” rule and sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night when we either wouldn’t notice or would be too exhausted to bother trying to correct her. She won again. Now, most recently, she starts out in the floor and tries to sneak onto the bed. I make her get down and tell her to be quiet. She settles back into the floor for about 10 minutes before taking up a post near my head and groaning softly until I acknowledge her presence.

“Hush, Meera! Lie down!”

She resumes her silent staring. A few minutes later, the groaning starts again. “NO, Meera!” Silence. Then she’ll go around to the foot of the bed and try to make another sneak attempt where she doesn’t have to climb over me and might get away with it. The Mister wakes up irritated at this point.

“Meera! Get down! Shut up!”

This cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

On the one hand, I’m always tempted to just pat the mattress and let her win. It’s faster, easier, and I can go back to sleep without further incident. That little head curled up on my legs is so comforting. But there is always the inevitable moment hours later when I try to move my legs and can’t – there’s a very large, very solid object in the way. Said object is more than half my body weight and very, very warm. Said object is also, probably, snoring. You see, she observes the “stay only on the blue part” rule very well, and at night, when the comforter is pulled up around the Mister and I, the entire bed is the blue part… and she wants it all.

Down she goes into the floor again and the routine resumes. I don’t feel like we’re getting much sleep.

On the other hand, I can stay strong, be firm and say no. It won’t kill her to sleep in the floor or in the armchair in the living room. This, while painful for me now, is ultimately for her own good. Parents have to be the bad guys sometimes. If I let her win, she will run my life. I am her mother, not her friend. Be a parent, not a peer. Stay strong!

The voices in my head repeat these and other such cliches throughout the cycle.

In the morning, she’s always by my feet. I don’t know how this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.

So, in summary, parenting lessons learned:

  • Don’t let the babies start doing things you don’t want them to do forever, because it’s harder to change the habit than to prevent the habit.
  • When you say no, mean it. They know when you are weak. Be strong!!
  • Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s hurting her.
  • Punishments must be consistent and predictable. She has to know that when she gets on the bed or knocks over the trash or doesn’t come when she’s called she will get a predictable, unpleasant result every. single. time. Not just sometimes, because she’s willing to play the odds. (See #2.)
  • I am a total pushover.

I think everyone thinking of someday having human children should have to train a dog first.

What do you think?

Dear Diary: I’m in love!

Dear Diary,

Now, I know I haven’t written anything in a long time, but I have such exciting news that I just couldn’t wait to share it. I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!!

I used to think every day would always be the same: stare at mommy until she wakes up, check the yard for squirrels, and then spend all day sleeping on the couch and guarding the house until daddy gets home from work. But now, NOW there is something wonderful to look forward to in the evenings. After mommy and daddy are done with their dinner (which always smells so much better than mine and I don’t know why they don’t share), we go outside. And if we stay outside long enough, sometimes, if I am lucky, HE comes outside too.

They call him Tyson, and he is wonderful.

He likes to dig, just like me! We dig and dig and dig. Tyson’s holes are bigger than mine though, because he uses his mouth like a shovel and moves more dirt that way. Those are my favorite days – the days when I get to dig holes with Tyson. Maybe one day he will look up from his holes and see me as more than just the girl down the driveway. Someday… But for now we will dig our holes and play chase and I will teach Tyson how to catch squirrels. If he can catch a squirrel, then he will love me and we will be friends forever.

But he cannot have my favorite ball, or touch my people. I don’t share my people.

Love,

Meera

S.A.F.E.ty comes at a price

We’ve all seen those ASPCA commercials — the ones with the depressing music and puppies in cages and celebrities telling you how to sponsor an animal for pennies a day. If you’re anything like me, you glance out at your happy dogs in the yard and change the channel before it gets too gut-wrenching. There are thousands of animals in the United States who are abused, mistreated and in need of loving homes, but at least someone gives them a voice. There are animal shelters, animal control centers and advocacy groups who work to eliminate animal abuse, and those who are responsible can face fines and criminal charges.

Not so in St. Kitts.

There are no shelters here, and dying animals rarely receive humane euthanasia unless they are picked up by veterinary students and taken to the campus clinic. Animals are property, not companions, and if an owner wants to leave a dog to slowly starve to death in his front yard he is free to do so without fear of legal repercussions. Animals suffer injuries and extents of neglect here that would never be allowed to go on in the United States. Every day dogs are seen tied to trees with heavy chains, wasting away, broken, defeated and barely able to rise from the ground when children gather to throw rocks and stones at the wormy skeleton. Every day. And no one speaks for them.

Kristen Decina, a New Jersey native, is trying to change that.

Decina, a student at Ross University of Veterinary Medicine, arrived on St. Kitts to begin her studies in April of 2012 and immediately recognized the incredible need for an emergency animal rescue agency in the area.

“The last dog rescue, P.A.W.S.*, was founded here in 2002. I felt that with the growing (vet) student population there was room and need for another rescue with a slightly different angle. PAWS was doing a great job, but one rescue could not do it all alone,” said Decina.

S.A.F.E. St. Kitts — “Saving Animals From Emergency” — was officially founded in the spring of 2013 and focuses on being an on-call rescue. There are an average of three to eight animals in the program at one time, with any number of other rescues in the homes of sponsored foster families. Decina and two other Ross students, who make up the SAFE executive staff, have successfully adopted out approximately 50 animals in the past year, with another 50 lives improved through foster families and local education on proper pet care.

“Our rescue provides 100% of the care the animals need, including general vaccines, deworming, treatment for emergent illnesses like heartworms and, in many cases, extensive surgeries,” said Decina. “We also go on rescue calls with other students and community members, and we provide food and supplies to rescuers who don’t have them. All of that adds up.”

It is amazing to see how much a scared, starving animal can improve after a warm bath, a soft blanket and a nutritious meal. During her interview, Decina cuddled the rescue’s newest addition — four-month-old puppy Quinn — who is a skittish skeleton. However, after only 48 hours in a loving home, Quinn was already wagging his tail, playing with his foster family and putting on weight.

Decina says her drive to continue such a daunting task is fueled by rescues like L.O.V.E. (“Left On Volcanoes End”) and Copper.

LOVE was found sealed into a 3’x2′ monkey cage in the jungle, deprived of human contact and affection. “I can’t imagine what being in the crate for so long did to her spirit. She looked absolutely defeated. Her teeth have wear marks from where she tried to chew herself out of her wire prison,” said Decina.

It is unknown how long LOVE had been in this tiny cage, and she was terrified of her rescuers.

LOVE was cut out of her tiny cage and taken in by a foster mother with experience handling unsocialized dogs. Now, after many months of patient care and attention, LOVE is beginning to trust again and greets her foster mother at the door at the end of each day. She is still looking for her forever family.

LOVE is such a couch hog!

Copper was found in port by cruise ship passengers, one leg irreparably mangled as he tried to pull himself through the crowds to a safer resting place. News of Copper’s condition reached Decina and the SAFE team and they were able to locate him in town, surrounded by a crowd of abusive onlookers who sneered at the poor dying animal, who was in so much pain he had given up the fight. The SAFE team transported him to the Ross Veterinary Hospital for evaluation, but they didn’t have any money left to pay for the amputation and other surgeries he would need. In a burst of inspiration, Decina emailed the cruise ship passengers who originally found the dog and begged for their help. Amazingly, all the passengers contacted immediately donated via PayPal to cover the hound dog’s expenses. Copper now lives with two veterinary students who adore him and spoil him rotten.

Copper is a beautiful older dog who doesn’t even know he only has three legs!

SAFE tries to offset its expenses through Ross campus fundraisers and private donations, however much of the costs are being absorbed by the students themselves.

Outsiders can help in a variety of ways, first and foremost by donating money to cover the costs of amputations, stomach repairs, broken bones and other extensive procedures needed by their rescues.

Their website, www.safest.kitts.org, is set up with a PayPal donation link. You can also donate via their GoFundMe account at http://www.gofundme.com/safestkittsrescue.

Those who would rather send supplies (via students returning to the island or USPS care packages), can send dog toys, Kongs, puppy milk replacer, collars, leashes, pee pads and treats — all of which are hard to find here on the island.

“I am blessed because the work I am doing now is what I feel I was put on this earth to do, and coming to St. Kitts and not making a difference in a place where there is so much room to help would have been my biggest regret,” said Decina.

To donate, please follow any of the links above. For more information, please leave a comment on this post or contact SAFE directly via email at Safe_st.kitts@yahoo.com. They are also on Facebook.

Remember, one U.S. dollar equals 2.7 eastern Caribbean dollars, so even if you don’t feel you can give very much, whatever you can give will be converted and applied toward the rehabilitation of an animal who deserves to find his or her forever home.

Decina responded to a call about puppies starving in a cane field last spring and brought home the tiny creatures that would turn into our strong, beloved Meera and her sister Kitt. Without SAFE, Meera would likely have died in that field, either killed by the land owner or wasting away slowly from starvation and exposure.

If you have pets you love, and who love you in return, please take a moment to consider making a donation to help veterinary students on St. Kitts rescue animals from emergency situations and better teach the island community how to care for their furry friends.

—-

*P.A.W.S. stands for “People for Animal Welfare on St. Kitts” and was founded by a local in 2002. PAWS is maintained and staffed through the Ross veterinary student community and has plans, with help from influential local families, to build the island’s first animal shelter. However, there is a long way to go until this goal is accomplished. More information about their organization and fundraising efforts can be found at www.rosspaws.com.

Top Ten Thursday – Things You Don’t Consider When You Raise Little Dogs

My family has owned little dogs my entire life, specifically dachshunds (wiener dogs). My dog, Susie’s, biggest fear was thunderstorms and her biggest accomplishment was climbing up onto the footstool beside the couch. My grandparents’ wiener dogs sleep in tiny kennels that fit easily into a car’s front floorboard, and they can be carried around with one arm when necessary.

Our dog is not like that.

Meera’s kennel doesn’t fit into a car unless you take it apart; she eats about five pounds of dog food a week; and, at five months old, already has a bark that puts fear into the hearts of visiting maintenance men. Meera has long conquered the footstool and is now working on the kitchen table. Heaven help us.

So here is a list of things my dachshunds never made me think about, but that Meera sends through my mind on a daily basis.

1. If she stands on her back legs, she can reach things on top of the kitchen table. Soon she’ll probably be able to just eat at the table.

2. She doesn’t have to jump against the bed to wake me up in the morning; she just sticks her nose into my face, since she’s as tall as the bed anyway.

3. One rawhide bone typically lasts about two days.

4. She can get stuck under the bed and sometimes requires help to get out.

5. I can’t pick her up easily anymore, which makes doing things she doesn’t like, like climbing into cars, rather difficult.

6. I have to check the kitchen counters (still thankfully higher than the table) before I leave to make sure there’s nothing out that she might like to try jumping for.

7. She’s grown out of sleeping on a little rug in the floor and has now claimed the futon as her personal bed. (She takes up half of it.)

8. She has graduated from shredding the husk off coconuts and can now break them open and scatter the pieces to the ends of the earth.

9. I only remember one person (coughAnnaLisecough) ever being afraid of Susie, whereas I get frequent requests from visitors and maintenance people to “put the dog away before I come in.”

10. She will one day take up the entire backseat of our car, rather than just the front floorboard.

But, despite all these things and regardless of the way my family feels about her inevitable size, I love every big-dog inch of her. It’s just a learning process to go from ankle-size to waist-size.

Oh, and she has developed some sort of vendetta against paper products. Writing paper, paper towels, Kleenexes – it doesn’t matter, it must die. When she knocks over the garbage can (thankfully still the small ones in our room and not the big one in the kitchen) she leaves everything where it falls except paper. That she shreds into thousands of tiny pieces and scatters throughout the house so that they can’t magically reassemble. Who knows? Goofy dog.

From Four-legged Children, on Two-legged Children

I realized this weekend that I completely forgot about having a Thursday post. If anyone noticed, I apologize. If you didn’t notice, my feelings are hurt. But either way, if you’d been part of the week the Mister and I have had, you would understand.

We’re still living in puppy land waiting for our new apartment to be move-in ready. We are a bit disappointed with the way the housing situation is going, since our new landlord assured us that our apartment would not only be cleaned quickly and ready for us to move in over the break, but also that there would be no problems with the unit and that it would come stocked with basic kitchen appliances, utensils, cookware and tableware. None of these things has turned out to be true. She told us the house was ready for us to start moving in yesterday, but when we arrived with a load of our belongings we found the bathrooms in mid-repair, half the house dirty and electrical wires hanging out of the wall in a state of mid-examination. Welcome to St. Kitts, one of the few places in the world where unkept promises and terrible service are both expected and considered acceptable.

We’ve also had three more centipede encounters since my last post, the last two of which were a fully-grown 10+ inches long and one of which bit a friend’s foot and caused lots of screaming and panic on all sides.

But the biggest revelation from this past week is the constant reaffirmation of the fact that the Mister and I are not mentally or physically prepared to have children, third world country or not.

You parents out there will read this post and laugh at our expense, I’m sure. But, to make up for not having a Top Ten Thursday list last week, I will give you a Top Twenty-two list of valuable lessons these puppies have taught me about my parenting future.

1. In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon explains that women are naturally more likely to be woken by high-pitched noises so we will be able to hear our babies crying. I have proven this absolutely true, as I seem to be able to hear the tinkle of a dog tag through concrete walls and floors with two fans whirring and from a deep sleep.
2. There are not enough toys in the world to occupy three children (or in our case puppies, which are basically the same thing). The floor is covered in chew toys, plush animals and tinkling balls of all shapes and sizes, but the only toy worth playing with is the one currently in someone else’s mouth.
3. They will never give you enough sleep. Ever. Even on the one morning they mercifully allow you to go back to sleep on the couch, it will still be an intermittent nap, punctuated by frequent yelps and shouts of “No! We don’t chew on people’s faces!”
4. You have to constantly be making sure they are chewing on something acceptable and not destroying mommy’s best pair of flip-flops.
5. If they all suddenly go quiet, that’s not permission to relax. That’s a sign to get off the couch in panic and make sure you can account for all of them. (See item #4.)
6. You punish them and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And then sometimes it backfires. Like when you swat one for howling senselessly in the middle of the night and you wake in the morning to a pool of retaliatory pee in the kitchen floor.
7. Listening skills deteriorate over time, especially when the listener in question seems to feel that your commands are increasingly irrelevant. Why would I let you take me inside to protect me from a giant poisonous bug when I could be running through the tall grass in the dark getting stung all on my own?
8. Some things in life are certain, like death and taxes. Poop schedules are not one of those things.
9. They are always hungry. Always. Even if they just ate a heaping bowl of food and then stole some from the other children. They will still eat mouthfuls of paper in order to chew into the food bag and find some more.
10. Loud noises are often made for no logical reason other than to annoy the fire out of whoever is in charge at the time.
11. Just because they bark and howl at the unexpected visitor doesn’t mean they won’t run for cover behind mommy’s legs when that stranger tries to touch them.
12. Your dreams revolve around caring for and worrying about them. So much so that you sometimes wonder whether you were ever actually asleep or not.
13. The first few times you lose sight of them outside, you panic and call their names, clapping your hands and running to look around corners. As time goes on, you cease to look and just start to figure they will turn up on their own at some point.
14. When you have three, there will always be one that’s left out. It would probably be easier to have four, that way everyone should always have a playmate. However, if we can’t handle three we certainly should not have four, so we will be stopping at two.
15. They want to sleep all the time…except while you’re asleep. They wake you up at ungodly hours of the morning and then sleep for most of the morning and afternoon and don’t want to go to bed at night. You know that, logically, you should keep them awake during the day so they will sleep at night, but you just don’t have the energy because you’ve been awake since 5:30 a.m.
16. Sometimes they crawl over to be sweet and snuggly. Sometimes they crawl over to let you know they are about to poop all over the place. These actions look EXACTLY THE SAME! Always ere on the side of caution.
17. Sometimes the one you expected to be the most challenging is actually the best-behaved. It’s during these moments when you do a double-take to make sure you still have all the right ones.
18. You become overly concerned with bathroom habits. Who pooped and how long ago? How much? Did it look normal? When did they pee? About how much came out? Etc.
19. Things that never seemed complicated before, like leaving the house to pick up a pizza with friends, suddenly require a ridiculous amount of preplanning.
20. You begin to take an absurd number of pictures and post them online. These pictures will all feature the exact same thing and you will check back frequently to make sure everyone in the online world appreciates them as much as you feel like they should. If they don’t, you will take this as a personal offense and consider using this criteria to clean out your friends list.
21. At the end of the day, no matter how much they’ve driven you crazy, it still breaks your heart to hear them whine about going to bed alone.
22. There really is nothing better than warm snuggle time.

What lessons did your children (or your pets) teach you about parenting? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn?

Top Ten Thursday – It Is Finished

All the questions have been answered and the bubbles darkened. Study rooms have been cleared of debris and the students who aren’t rushing to catch flights home are curled up in darkened bedrooms sleeping off three weeks’ worth of stress and sleep deprivation. We have survived our first four months on this floating rock. Finals are over, and whatever will be, will be. The only thing left to do is wait anxiously for grades to be posted this weekend.

Well, that and become parents. (Puppy-parents, that is.)

This first island break is going to be an interesting one, I’m sure. First of all, we’re moving out of our tiny dorm room (thank heavens!) and into a much larger apartment with a set of roommates. Secondly, we’re bringing home not only our puppy, Meera (we decided to keep her island name), but we’re also taking in two additional dogs for the duration of the break.

The August break is two weeks long, starting today and going until classes start again on the first Monday in September. Students are required to move out of the dormitories by this Saturday, but our new apartment won’t be cleaned and ready for us to move in until the end of next week. So another student/VIP pair has graciously allowed us to stay in their home while they are gone for the break. In exchange, we’re dog-sitting their sweet island puppy, Kylie. A third dog, Roy, got added to the deal somewhere along the way and will be staying with us as well. Kylie and Roy are already good friends, so we’re hoping Meera will get along with both of them too.

Our apartment will be ready for us by the second week, and we hope to take all three dogs to our new place, rather than leaving Kylie and Roy alone in the other house for a week. (Of course we would go over each day to feed and walk them, but it just seems unfair to expect them to sleep contentedly for seven days straight.) It’ll be an action-packed two weeks, I’m sure, but at least we’ll be making a little bit of money and keeping ourselves busy while the majority of our friends are off-island.

We hope to get to explore and appreciate the island a bit more while the Mister’s not in classes as well. We already have reservations to go to Lobster Fest at Reggae Beach this coming Friday night, and we also hope to explore some of the less-popular beaches and possibly visit some of the tourist attractions in the area. I would love to stay overnight on both Nevis and Statia at some point, but that might not be possibly this time since we’ll have all the dogs to feed.  

Nevis is the island immediately to the south of St. Kitts and is part of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis (obviously). We’ve been told that we must visit the old sugarcane plantations and the natural healing hot springs, as well as the island’s botanical gardens. All the taxi drivers and tour guides will tell you that Alexander Hamilton – on US $10 bills – was born on Nevis and his grandfather is buried on St. Kitts not far from Ross University. Nevis is also a popular destination for celebrities.

Statia, however, is often forgotten. Eustatius (nicknamed Statia) is a tiny island just to the north of St. Kitts. According to the tourism website, the island is largely undeveloped and is a very good example of how Caribbean island life was before everything started to be so commercialized. There is a botanical garden, a bird sanctuary, lots of beautiful hiking trails and picturesque old Caribbean villages with their local art and traditions. I definitely want this to be an item on our island bucket list.

So, because it’s Thursday and I’m expected to have a Top Ten list (something I forgot about until just now), here are a few items on my island life bucket list.

1. Spend a night or two in a plantation bed and breakfast on Nevis

2. Visit Statia

3. Watch the baby sea turtles return to the sea

4. Go ziplining through the rain forest

5. Ride the Scenic Railway

6. See a pelican catch a fish in its mouth

7. Successfully go snorkeling

8. Teach my dog to swim in the ocean

9. Hike to the crater (which is realistically probably not going to happen, since I am anti-sweat and anti-mud. Lol)

10. Visit and photograph all the accessible beaches on the island

Do you have any advice on caring for three puppies at once? What would you add to my bucket list?