I've got your back!Yesterday was a beautiful day here in northeast Florida – sunny, upper 80’s, light breeze, and low humidity. I had planned to take Mom and Liberty to Mount Dora, a quaint little town about 80 miles from my house, and we were blessed with the perfect weather for a daytrip. I happen to be of the opinion that a daytrip is a great way to take a break from routine and a change of scenery is good for refreshing your brain. Kind of like a mental “reset”.

Since retiring in 2011 I have enjoyed the freedom of being able to take off on a daytrip in the middle of the week. It’s a precious gift! Another precious gift is to be able to share these days with my Mom and create memories I’ll have forever.

We have visited Mount Dora a few times before, even spent Thanksgiving weekend there one year, and we always enjoy the drive through parts of the Ocala National Forest, past farmland, lakes and rolling hills (well, as rolling as hills get in Florida!). Mount Dora nestles against Lake Dora and there is a pretty park with lots of huge shade trees along the shore – and the “famous” Port Dora lighthouse. Built in 1988, only 35′ tall, it is a fully functioning navigating light and is the only freshwater lighthouse in Florida. As soon as we arrived we headed to the park so Liberty could get some exercise while Mom relaxed on a bench in the shade and watched people bowl at the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club.

We then had lunch on the dog-friendly deck of Pisces Rising, overlooking Lake Dora. Pisces Rising was built out around the main structure of a 1920’s Florida Cracker bungalow style house, while keeping the charm of the original home. Liberty was her usual well-behaved self, showing off her best “company” manners. She was rewarded with a couple of bites of my delicious fried mahi-mahi! After lunch we strolled through downtown and stopped for gelato. Yum.

On our way home we stopped in Eustis and strolled the concrete walkway that meanders along one side of Lake Eustis, which I was surprised to learn is actually 12 squares miles and 12 feet deep in parts. There are small pavilions strategically placed along the walkway and we sat in one of them for a while, enjoying the breeze and the beautiful view. We had a lovely day and agreed that Liberty had been a little angel 🙂

If you’re in a rut and feel like you need a vacation but can’t get away because of responsibilities or financial constraints, I highly recommend a daytrip!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.     ~Mark Twain

Liberty chillin' in Mount Dora

Liberty chillin’ in Mount Dora

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Liberty’s Second Birthday

Let's go!

Let’s go!

On April 13th it will be a whole year since Liberty came to live with me. I found her online at Rescued Hearts – they had rescued her from a shelter that can only keep animals for 30 days so that is where they focus most of their efforts. Rescue dogs are the best; I think they know you have saved them and their love and gratitude is endless. Liberty was approximately 11 months old when I adopted her so I have designated April 13th as her 2nd birthday. We’ll go for a morning walk, as we do every day, I’ll throw the ball for her and we’ll go for a Brusters “doggie sundae” – a small cup of vanilla ice cream with a doggie biscuit on top – a special birthday treat.

I found Liberty when my beagle mix, Stella, was elderly and in declining health. I had hoped that having a younger dog around might give Stella a second wind but, it wasn’t to be, because she went downhill rapidly due to renal failure and I lost her on April 8th so, unfortunately, she never even met Liberty. The first blessing Liberty brought into my life was to help me get through the loss of my friend Stella. The blessings have continued since then – on a daily basis she makes me smile and laugh, gives me love and companionship and gets me out for a long walk. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past 12 months and I hope we have many more years together!

I was used to living with an old, mellow dog who had lots of health issues so Liberty’s high energy was quite an adjustment for me. On her first day with me I took her for a walk and started training her to heel and we have walked 3-5 miles every morning since then. I don’t think she had ever been walked on a leash and she pulled like crazy and first thing in the morning she was like a Greyhound out of the gate. A few weeks after she came to live with me we started AKC basic obedience classes, which helped a lot, and I also continued training her on my own. In January we went to AKC intermediate training classes.

When you look for a dog to adopt it’s important that you think about your lifestyle and where you live. Big dogs are great – Labs are one of my favorite breeds – but I don’t have a big home and I also learned when Stella was sick that sometimes you have to be able to carry your dog. I can’t lift a 90 lb Lab! Puppies and young dogs are a lot of fun but, they need a lot of attention and shouldn’t be left  alone all day. I wanted a dog that would fit into my life, which meant friendly, well-behaved, and a good traveler. I also hoped she would be able to do volunteer work with me after some training. She is still excitable and acts like a puppy at times, especially when she meets a dog she likes but, she is sweet-natured and friendly. She has many wonderful traits for which I can’t take any credit – for example, she doesn’t beg at the table (or drool!), she went into her bed on the very first night as if she had slept there every night of her life, she doesn’t go on the furniture, she doesn’t snatch treats out of your hand, and she isn’t a “yapper”. I think dogs and children need to be taught manners so that, not only can you live comfortably with them but, also, so they are not a nuisance to other people. I wanted to be able to take her out to lunch, to the homes of my friends, and also on trips so it was important to me that she learned to be well-behaved.

I started taking her out to lunch the week after I got her and, in the past year, she has been out many, many times with my friends, my Mom, or just me and she has always behaved herself. She usually tries to befriend the server – she’s no dope; she knows who has the food! She has been on a couple of day trips – Fernandina Beach and Mt. Dora – and also to Sarasota for a week last November. She has been to the beach several times and figured out how to dodge the waves. She’s a good traveler and, since she is crate trained, there is no problem when I have to leave her for a few hours in a vacation home or motel room. She’ll be traveling with me to Virginia at the end of this month, and with me and Mom to Gulfport in June and St. Simon’s Island in November.

The most recent blessing Liberty has brought into my life is that we started volunteering with Haven Hospice in February. I wasn’t sure how she would react to wheelchairs, walkers and all the activity of a nursing home or other facility but, she has done very well. She loves to meet new people and her sweet, affectionate nature brings a smile to everyone. One of the patients we visit has Alzheimer’s and, even though there are a lot of things he doesn’t remember, he loves dogs and seems to remember Liberty. He  lights up when she comes in the room and leans forward in his recliner so he can pet her and she can lick his face. It’s a “love-fest”! Being able to share the blessing of Liberty with people who love dogs but can no longer have pets of their own is a wonderful feeling. When we walk through the nursing home halls people smile when they see her and many of them want to pet her – residents and staff alike.

Every day I thank God for my four-legged best friend, Liberty Rose 🙂

Our best friends never have fewer than four legs.   ~Colette

Lynda Linke and Liberty Grand Villa 3 31 2015 3. jpg

Participating at a health fair

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