Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Rescue

First off, I love Mobile, Alabama. I didn't really venture much out of the historic district, so maybe that's why, but I really enjoyed it. The night I got my internship I wandered around looking for a spot to have dinner and walked a mile or so along down one road. A nice walk in the evening. 

When I got up in the morning, I decided to go back to the same street for breakfast and stumble upon the farmer's market! I bought a bunch of peaches--because I love love love peaches--and a lemon muffin. Delicious.  And fun to be part of a community event without realizing it. 

I then did a little bit of a walk along the main road of the historic district, where the grandest homes are, to take a photo of this house.

 Yes, that's a Confederate flag hanging from the balcony. It was so ridiculously Southern that I needed a picture.
This is the street the house is on. Lined with live oaks. Beautiful. And most of the houses still have huge yards. 

Then I went on to Bellingrath Gardens, which isn't particularly exciting but it made for a nice walk around and the gardens are quite nice. The exciting thing that happened there, though, is this:

That's a puppy. In my car. Here is the story.

I arrived at Bellingrath and there was a dog by the front doors. I called him over, because I'll always call a dog to me, and he trotted over. He was skinny and had scabs and sores, and had just a little bit of a limp. No collar. He's a stray. I went inside to pay for admission and he followed me and a group of people into the building and went immediately behind the cashier's desk, so I thought maybe they knew him. But the cashier asked where he came from. She gave him part of her hamburger as a way to lure him out of the building, but it took some pushing, too.

I followed him out and got him a cup of water from my car, then started to think. First, I've told myself I wouldn't look for a dog (even though I do look on petfinder all the time) because I want a dog to find me. That will be the time I'm supposed to get a dog. And here is this adorable stray dog in need of love and care; it was meant to be! But I don't even have room in my car for a dog right now, let alone a place to stay or a guarantee of a place to stay that would let me keep a dog. I start googling animal shelters in the area and making phone calls. Mobile's shelter is closed for the weekend and the recording says to call animal control. Animal control officers are off for the weekend. 

While I'm making these calls, I sit on a bench. The dog jumps onto the bench next to me and lays down and puts his head in my lap. When he'd gotten out of the building I had knelt down to say hi and he pushed himself into me right away. What a love bug! 

Since I was hitting dead ends, I needed time to think. I had already paid admission to the gardens so I decided to go inside and work through my options. I thought about taking the dog with me to the next city I was going to and googled that area.

So I calledthe shelter in Gulfport, MS which is the next city I'm going to. Their shelter says strays need to go to animal control, so I call that animal control and they're closed, too. I call the shelter back and explain and they say I can bring him in. 

When I'm done at the garden I go say hi to the dog again and get him to follow me to my car. Now, in case you don't remember the photo, my car is packed to the brim. I can see through my back window, but just barely, and the passenger seat is full. I rearranged some things and ended up clearing out the passenger seat and not being able to see out the back window. I get some bacon (leftover from breakfast) and try to lure him in my car. He won't get in. Not even for bacon. I try for awhile, but need to get going soon so I end up giving up. I put everything back into the front seat so that I can see out the window while I drive. 

He is standing behind my car and so I open my door to call him around to the front where I'll be able to see him while I back up. He runs around to my side and shoves himself into my car, onto my lap. I get him out, because there's no place for him to go now, and then a family comes up and I start to talk to them about him. They talk about how cute he is and I tell them about how sweet he is and one person says "Oh, we should take him!" And I said "Yes! please! The shelter opens on Tuesday just keep him until then!" They all smile and then get into their minivan. SIGH.

I can't leave him. I know if I leave him it'll drive me crazy because I'll think about him being alone and too hot and caught in storms and I will feel guilty. I put everything in the back seat again. Then I hear a storm coming our way. I think he heard it, too, because this time he hopped right in the car. Off we went!

We drove straight into the storm and I really hate driving in storms. He's also never been in a car I don't think and every time a car would pass us he would try to lunge at it across my lap. I couldn't deal with that in torrential downpour and wind. Could not. I pulled into a parking lot and got out my phone to see which way the storm was headed and how long it was supposed to last. Luckily, we were driving towards it so we'd get through it quick and it was only going to last 20 minutes, tops. Rain lightens up, we're off again!

After me holding him back for about 3 cars he stops trying to get at them over me and sits in the passenger seat like a good boy. I'm surprised how well he did in the car, actually. And he didn't get motion sick, which I was really happy about. We had a 90 minute drive to Gulfport and he fell asleep 30 minutes into it.

My gear shift doesn't need the button pressed in to shift it and when the pup was wriggling around, or would move to get at an itch, I was worried he would accidentally push me into neutral or something while I was on the freeway, so I kept my hand on it while I was driving to keep that from happening. When he put his head here at first, he snuggled into my hand and fell asleep. He moved a little bit as he got comfortable. 

I got to the shelter and realized I had no way to get him inside so I had to leave him in my car for a minute to go in an ask for something to use. He screeched like crazy, I think he thought I was leaving him. They gave me a leash for him and I brought him in and he's so sweet. He wagged his tail when the shelter girl came to help me get him in. Then he got nervous about the building and we had to bribe him in. 

I did the paperwork and made a small donation to follow him in. I felt so bad leaving him behind. So bad. I know it was the right thing to do because I could give him love and I could train him, but I don't know what his vet costs are going to be and what kind of care he'll need. Right now he is in a climate controlled environment, out of the scary storms, being well fed and hydrated. If I get a place that allows dogs and he's still up for adoption, I think I might go back and get him. Gulfport is only an hour and a half from New Orleans.

Anyway, the dog rescue put me behind schedule so I found the last motel room in Gulfport (not an exaggeration since while I was checking in people were being turned away) and stayed there. 

This morning I went to Beauvoir, the last house Jefferson Davis lived in. A pretty grand last home, and beachfront property. It's not beachfront anymore because! hurricanes chipped away at the land in front of the home and then in the 20s--I think--the highway was built right on the shore. A hurricane came and damaged the highway and when it was time to rebuild it the engineers decided to buffer the sea wall they had built with a 300ft man-made beach. The Gulfport beaches are man-made! I thought that was a fun fact. 

Anyway, the house.

And what a view from it!

It was a cool house. 4 rooms are only accessible from the back porch. There were 4 bedrooms and the man that owned it before Davis had 13 children. The boys slept below the house in hammocks. The house was hit pretty hard by Katrina and the tour guide said the floors were under a foot of water for 8 hours and the wood didn't even buckle because of how thick the floors are. They've gotten the house completely restored and the furniture as well. It was incredible to see the before and after photos. Part of me can't believe what kind of damage mother nature can do, but then part of me can't because the house and it's furniture survived as well as it did being right on the coast. 

Afterwards I drove to Jackson. I was going to go to the zoo and spend the night there, figuring out my trip from there to Memphis. The zoo was closed for a family reunion and Jackson just didn't appeal to me. I went to a Starbucks so I could get online and make a plan. I decided to get out and stay an hour or so away in Kociusko. I got here via the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The Parkway is a national park and it is beautiful. If anyone is ever able to do so, drive part of the parkway. It's beautiful and peaceful and exactly what a long drive should look like. Because it's a national park there are no billboards, there isn't a McDonalds, and no commercial vehicles are allowed. It's awesome. It is absolutely awesome. It's also historically significant. The trace is built around a pathway that Native Americans used and settlers and explorers have used since invading the land. 

 This is the parkway. Love it.
 Cypress swamp!
I enjoyed my stroll until the sign that said "though uncommon" alligators have been spotted in this swamp. They're "quite shy" and "look like logs with nostrils." I then look into the swamp and see a log that looks like it has nostrils and panic a little bit. But it was just a log. The trail starts on a boardwalk, and I felt safe there, but then is just a dirt path along the swamp and I did not feel safe there. But I made it out without so much as a mosquito bite.

Oxford, MS tomorrow. Can't wait! Time to do some planning.

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