Why I Am So Outraged About Cecil the Lion, part 5

I have been banging the drum pretty loudly in conversations and in social media about what I see as the senseless slaughter of Cecil the Lion. For anyone who cares to know, here is the last of a five-part series explaining why I am so outraged about this tragic event.

I am an optimist, and I don’t want to die disappointed.

I grew up in the 1960s. It was the beginning of the space age, and I was the absolute perfect age to be captivated by it. I was a little too young to remember any of the Mercury missions. But I had books that told me all about those missions (complete with drawn pictures – no photos!). I even had two LPs with narrated stories about those missions. My favorite was “The Flight of the Friendship 7.”

I actually recall watching the CBS Evening News broadcast with Walter Cronkite reporting Ed White’s first walk in space. That was June 3, 1965. At the ripe old age of 4 years and 10 days, I was a news junkie. And of course, I laid on the floor in my pajamas and, along with millions of people worldwide, saw Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon and heard those words, “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Grainy. Jumpy. Fuzzy. Full of static. Magnificent.

I was consumed by all things space. But as a 4-year old news junkie, I also remember being aware that the bald eagle, the symbol of America, was in grave danger. In 1963, breeding pairs of bald eagles had slipped under 500. Careless practices such as native habitat destruction and the widespread use of DDT almost wiped the grand bird out.

SOARING EAGLE-1000 pixels wideMercifully, we figured it out in time. Grassroots support for saving the bald eagle grew into a national groundswell. More attention to habitat preservation, and a ban of DDT allowed the bald eagle to recover. Today, there are more than 10,000 breeding pairs. In August, 2007, this beautiful bird was taken off the Endangered Species List.

We went to the moon, and saved the eagle. Both. Progress and preservation in harmony.

For the great animals of Africa and Asia, it is 1964 again – only this time, there is little grassroots support, and there doesn’t appear to be any groundswell coming.

In the 1800s, African lions in the wild numbered 1,200,000. By 1940, they were down to 450,000. Today, there are 19,999.

In 1900, rhinos in the wild numbered 500,000. By 1970, they were down to 70,000. Today, there are 29,000.

In 1900, there were an estimated 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 African elephants in the wild. Today, there are fewer than 500,000. 100,000 elephants were slaughtered by poachers during one three-year period between 2010-2012.

Most are killed for insanely stupid reasons. Elephant tusks are ivory, and human beings love ivory carvings. Ground rhino horn is inaccurately believed to have aphrodisiac powers. Lions have beautiful heads that some people like to hang on their walls. That’s it. That’s the end of it.

This is not deer hunting, or elk hunting, or wild turkey hunting. Thinning those populations is both necessary and beneficial for the species. Most of that meat is eaten. They don’t eat lions. They just kill them.

Lions have been thinned from 1,200,000 to 19,999. Do the math.

The news isn’t all bad. As recently as 2008, the world population of tigers in the wild hit 1,400. Yes, 1,400. Try to comprehend this – in 1990 there were 100,000 tigers in the wild. That represents a 96% decrease in just 25 years. Drastic measures taken by India (where 70% of the world’s tigers live) have resulted in a 30% increase just in that time. China is following. Conservation efforts are pretty solid. Enforcement is consistent. So there is hope…a glimmer at least.

But why walk so close to the edge? Why hunt animals to the literal point of extinction? Extinction is forever. In today’s language: For.Ev.Er.

Last month, Aprill and I drove to Tennessee to see family and friends, and to attend a wedding. On our way through the mountains on I-40, we saw something ahead flying at treetop level. We are used to seeing hawks in that area. But when we got close enough, we saw a snow white head and tail, bounded by black, punctuated by a bright, yellow beak. It was a bald eagle – in full flight, parallel to one of the busiest highways in the country.

When I was 4 years old, there was a chance I’d never see one at all.

I want my nephews and nieces and great nephews and great nieces to have a world full of wonder and mystery. I don’t want them to see lions, rhinos, wolves and elephants in zoos. I want them to have the chance to travel to where they live. I don’t want them to look at stars on a computer screen. I want them to look up into a vast night sky and see stars there. I don’t want them to look at pictures of wild places. I want them to walk in them, and breathe and feel those wild places in the depths of their souls.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.

This is our time. We will leave it better than we found it. Or we won’t.

I do not want to die disappointed.

Why I Am So Outraged About Cecil the Lion, part 4.

I have been banging the drum pretty loudly in conversations and in social media about what I see as the senseless slaughter of Cecil the Lion. For anyone who cares to know, here is the fourth of a five-part series explaining why I am so outraged about this tragic event.

I am an American, and I care what the world thinks about America.

In the geographic center of Africa lies the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the poorest country in the world. In 2013, the average income was $394. (Zimbabwe is second at $589.) The Congo has the highest proportion of undernourished people (70% of the population) of any country. In rural areas, only 11 percent have access to water compared to 75 percent in urban areas. More than 5 million Congolese have lost loved ones to conflict, disease and malnutrition.

I have never been there. But I know a number of people who have. The church Aprill and I attend has a growing presence in the Congo. One effort is our model girls’ school in Kananga and other schools in Tshikaji. We also assist in the development and implementation of sustainable accounting and human resources systems, strengthening healthcare services and partnering with Congolese churches to improve the quality and sustainability of life.

map-africa-1The last church we attended had a similar involvement in Ethiopia – a school and camp in Langano, and various ministries to women, children and church leaders throughout the country, including the capital of Addis Ababa.

To a person, everyone I know who has been to the Congo or to Ethiopia to serve would tell you they do this in the name of Christ. But having spent a year on mission in a foreign country, I can tell you they are known in country as “the Americans.”

America has a rich history of helping others. We are among the most generous countries in the world. When disasters strike on our side of the globe (and throughout the world), we are usually among the first to respond, most often the most generous in our financial support and often stay on the ground the longest.

Even so, America remains one of the most hated countries, primarily because of what others see as our success and our affluence.

I love my country, and while I don’t want our generosity and our service to the world to be for the sake of gratitude, I don’t want our reputation further tarnished by Americans solidifying a stereotype that we do not care. Aprill and I donate to international relief efforts and to benevolent initiatives in developing countries, and I know many, many people who do. We would never spend $50,000 to squander the life of a beautiful, majestic and endangered animal, and I cannot endorse anyone who does.

I want the efforts of my American friends and people like them to be what we are known for. I don’t want people to know Walter Palmer the American. I want people to know Jim Martin the American, a good friend of mine who, as I write, is in Africa on his own, personal mission. He has decided to take what he has learned in starting and running a business – particularly obtaining financing – and assist people in ways to micro-finance their own businesses.

I don’t want people to think of an American as a dentist who breaks their laws and destroys a national treasure. I want people to think of Hunter and Tait Flint, a young American couple who run Burka Coffee Estates in Tanzania. From the Burka website:

Our estates follow a traditional agro-forestry system whereby coffee is shade grown under mostly indigenous trees. We are committed to maintaining the right balance between our productive and non-productive areas. Our staff housing and villages provide secure homes for our workforce and their families, while forests, grasslands and other areas not conductive to coffee cultivation are preserved. Merging ecologically and socially stringent standards, we offer a consistently superior product guaranteed to delight the most discerning coffee buyers and roasters.

There are many more I am certain. These are the Americans I want held up – people and organizations that truly care, and are creating long-lasting change to whole communities and entire societies. While trophy hunting may indeed be legal in Zimbabwe, the good done by whatever percentage of the $50,000 spent to kill Cecil finally makes it to conservation or social programs is nothing compared to what that same $50,000 could have done for a girls’ school in Kananga, Congo, a women’s shelter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or a small business that would create jobs.

And we’d still have 20,000 lions instead of 19,999.

Next, part 5: I am an optimist, and I don’t want to die disappointed.

Why I Am So Outraged About Cecil the Lion, part 3.

I have been banging the drum pretty loudly in conversations and in social media about what I see as the senseless slaughter of Cecil the Lion. For anyone who cares to know, here is the third of a five-part series explaining why I am so outraged about this tragic event.

I respect collective efforts, and don’t like it when they are undermined by one person.

There have been countless opinions shared, articles written and perspectives offered about the situation that caused the death of Cecil the Lion. One perspective carries more weight with me than all of the others combined:

“I was shocked and outraged to hear the story of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s much loved lion. Not only is it incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to kill an endangered animal (fewer than 20,000 wild lions in Africa today) but to lure Cecil from the safety of a national park and then to shoot him with a crossbow…? I have no words to express my repugnance. He was not even killed outright, but suffered for hours before finally being shot with a bullet. And his magnificent head severed from his wounded body. And this behaviour is described as a “sport.” Only one good thing comes out of this – thousands of people have read the story and have also been shocked. Their eyes opened to the dark side of human nature. Surely they will now be more prepared to fight for the protection of wild animals and the wild places where they live. Therein lies the hope.”

Those are the words of Jane Goodall.

I could write 10,000 words about the life of Jane Goodall, and of the work The Jane Goodall Institute has done in both the study of and care for not just the great apes of Africa, but also the people in the communities that surround the habitats through innovative community-centered-conservation. She commands my highest level of respect. Read more here.

4-3-1But Goodall and her institute are representative of hundreds of organizations and thousands of people who work every day and tirelessly for years for good (in her case of both the animals or land they are trying to protect and preserve and the people most impacted by those efforts), only to see those efforts undermined.

Warren Buffett said, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

I believe the same could be said about this. It takes thousands of people decades to bring about positive change, and one man with one arrow to set it back.

With the outcry that has happened in this country and in social media throughout the world, one might say there has been no setback at all – instead a huge new awareness. While true, the real setback is in the potential loss of trust of those at ground zero, those who continue to do the work. I don’t like that. It makes me angry.

I have some first hand experience with this. When we spent our year on mission in Mexico, we were well aware of the potential harm that could be done by one person. The rogue…the idiot…the those rules don’t apply to me visitor. At the orphanage we served, we talked about them, watched out for them and planned contingencies in the event one person behaved badly. We knew that four decades of excellent care, positive community- and government-goodwill and trust-building could be lost in an instant if one member of one mission team did one thing that could be called into question. It never happened while we were there, but my guess is that team in charge now still loses a bit of sleep from time to time thinking about it.

While all of the excellent work of organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and many others will continue, it is undermined when even one person breaks the trust. While I acknowledge that sport hunting is legal in Zimbabwe, this person had a history of ignoring the rules. He did it again in the case of Cecil the Lion. He broke the trust.

It is the same when one person walks into a church and kills 9 people because of racial hate, undermining efforts I see happening every single day at my church and in other organizations around my city – efforts that are bonding races and promoting healing. It is the same when one person bombs an abortion clinic, undermining the efforts of thousands who work for the care of single mothers and for adoption of unwanted children by strong, healthy families. It is the same when one dog-fighter grabs headlines instead of the work done by those who work to rescue and place dogs into loving homes. And it is the same when one ultra-orthodox zealot stabs 6 people at a gay pride event in the name of God.

One person, undermining the good done by many.

But I have hope.

(From the International Fund for Animal Welfare): A 2011 poll found that 70.4 percent of Americans would pay to go on an African safari to view lions, whereas only 6.6 percent of Americans would pay to hunt lions. With travel and tourism in African lion range countries generating $65.8 billion in 2011 and projected to reach $69.6 billion in 2012 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the region could suffer fiscally if there are no lions for tourists to view. “Americans would much prefer to point and shoot a camera at a lion rather than a gun,” said Jeff Flocken, DC Office Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare which commissioned the poll. “More than 95 percent of Americans are opposed to hunting any species in danger of extinction—a problem the African lion is currently facing.”

My guess is if that poll were taken today, the numbers would be even more drastic. Jane Goodall may understand and appreciate this more than anyone. She said:

The greatest danger to our future is apathy.

Hopefully, one arrow has dealt apathy a severe blow.

Next, part 4: I am an American, and I care about what the world thinks about America.

Why I Am So Outraged About Cecil the Lion, part 2.

I have been banging the drum pretty loudly in conversations and in social media about what I see as the senseless slaughter of Cecil the Lion. For anyone who cares to know, here is the second of a five-part series explaining why I am so outraged about this tragic event.

Part 2: I need wild places, and I want the wild places to remain wild.

On the same trip to Yellowstone I mentioned in part 1, we decided to take a pretty long hike into the Canyon region, an area of the park we had spent very little time in. It was another early morning start, and a rain from the night before had left the trail soaked and quite soggy. We walked through wooded areas, along a river bank, past rocky cliffs, and in and out of thick bush. As we hiked, I noticed the tracks of what seemed to be a very large moose walking the same trail some distance (and time) ahead of us. Not particularly wanting to turn a corner and surprise a 700 lb. bull moose during the rutting season, I watched the tracks intently during our entire ingress.

We saw no other people that morning, hiked in about 6 miles, then turned around and hiked out on the same trail. We never saw the moose. On our way out, I noticed four sets of tracks: mine, Aprill’s, the moose and one other animal. Not sure what it was, I took out a journal I was carrying and sketched the print.

Back at the visitor center, I showed the track print sketch to a ranger and described its size. He immediately said matter-of-factly, “oh yeah, that’s a mountain lion. You were in mountain lion country. He was probably stalking you. Pretty big one, too – maybe 200 lbs.”

We were in a wild place. Among wild things. I want wild places and wild things to remain, and to remain wild. I believe we need them – now maybe more than ever.AUT_0278

When I was a Boy Scout (back in the 1900s!), my Scoutmaster Dr. Wally Bigbee once said, “we go into the woods to learn things we can’t learn anywhere else.” I will never forget that.

John Muir, widely regarded as the father of the preservation of wilderness in America, put it another way:

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.

Why then do we destroy it? Though each of the five most professed religions of the world – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism (and Judaism at #6) – accounting for almost 75% of the world’s population teaches stewardship and sanctity of the earth, human beings tend to be tamers. We have a history of taming things. Animals. The land. Rivers. The wild.

Sometimes, taming is necessary – to have adequate clean water supplies, or to grow crops, or as an attempt to guard against natural disasters. Sadly, a lot taming is for personal gain or ego, and in direct conflict with preservation. In order to preserve something, it must be considered valuable of its own accord, left alone or at most watched over.

We cannot leave things alone.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation and the Nature Conservancy, habitat destruction is at an all-time high. Populations of the great mammals are in continual decline. It is a sad state.

I don’t discount (nor ignore) the human needs some critics have said should be at the fore instead of this. If you know me at all, you know I herald those causes, and take part in their efforts. I simply view good stewardship over earth as a spiritual discipline, too. It is one of the earliest commandments given in each of the religions I noted above. But even if you don’t subscribe to any of that, isn’t it just smart? I mean, this is our place – our only place – the one place we have to be.

And so it is. I cannot fathom the destruction of life or habitat for the pure sake of destruction. When one man destroys one wild acre, or slaughters one wild animal purely for his enjoyment, I am angry. I do not apologize for that. It is not stewardship. It is selfishness. Squander. Foolishness.

It takes one more piece of the wild away from us, and from future generations.

Muir wrote:

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed – chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods – trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries, God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools…

Nor can he save a lion.

Tomorrow, part 3: I respect conservation efforts, and don’t like it when they are undermined.

Why I Am So Outraged About Cecil the Lion, part 1.

I have been banging the drum pretty loudly in conversations and in social media about what I see as the senseless slaughter of Cecil the Lion. For anyone who cares to know, here is the first of a five-part series explaining why I am so outraged about this tragic event.

Part 1: I am a child of God, and I put great value on everything God has created.

In the autumn of 2002, Aprill and I made our second trip to Yellowstone National Park. One morning long before sunrise, we drove north from the Old Faithful area toward the Hayden Valley, a wildlife paradise home to the largest herd of free-roaming bison in the world. It also happened to be the home to wolves. We had been vocal and financial supporters of the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem, ant that had finally come to fruition 7 years before in 1995. The Hayden Valley offered the best chance to see one of the growing packs.

On the way, the western sky began to come alive. Black turned to gray-blue and then slowly to a vibrant deep blue I had never seen before (or since). The road curved through a landscape that slowly awakened along with the morning. As we made our way around one curve facing west, we hair-pinned back toward the east. Immediately in front of us was a ridgeline and atop it, a bull elk and his herd of cows.

Silhouettes across the blue sky, the elk stood unmolested. Without another human being in sight, we stopped the car and got out. I zoomed my camera to its maximum and snapped three grainy pictures to document the moment. While we stood there, the bull bugled loudly, telling us in no uncertain terms this is my herd and you need to know it. With the herd still standing on the ridgeline just as we had found it, we got back in the car and drove away.

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We didn’t see wolves that day. But what we saw was no less impactful. To me, God’s creation is sacred. In the Bible, creation is documented, and at every point, “God saw that it was good.”

But whether you believe that God created all that we see as I do or not, you can’t disagree that nature is magnificent. I have been fortunate in my life to see whales, bison and elk in migration, swim alongside sea turtles, surprise a rattlesnake on a trail and watch eagles in flight. I have hiked across the Grand Canyon, visited the jagged Oregon coast, walked the badlands of North Dakota and the desert of the Guadalupe mountains. It is good. Very good.

Sadly, so much of it is also in peril. Tremendous peril.

According to the the National Geographic Society, there were 1.2 million lions in Africa in the 1800s. By 1940, the population had shrunk to 450,000. Today, the number is estimated at 20,000.

It doesn’t take a soothsayer or math wizard to see that this is a catastrophe happening on our generation’s watch. So when just one man pays an obscene amount of money to kill just one lion, the impact is massive. It infuriates me.

And when the last lion is gone, there will be nothing that can be done. They will be gone. Gone.

While Cecil’s slaughter has outraged me on its own merit, it is also a symbol – a symbol of an increasingly reckless regard for nature. I’m equally appalled when I read of our water supply being put in peril by irresponsibility, see mountaintops strip-mined or hear that the need for cheap beef has put my beloved wolves of Yellowstone again in peril.

But this isn’t meant to be a hack on business and industry. Individuals bear responsibility, too. In those badlands of North Dakota I mentioned earlier, Aprill and I hiked to an area of sand canyons – formations of windswept dunes equally beautiful and fragile. In large type, signs ask visitors to stay on trails and to not disturb the dunes in any way. Yet, hand-dug writing with intelligent phrases like Joe and Alice Forever or John is a complete %&$#! abound. Poignant stuff. That sign doesn’t apply to me. I can do whatever I want.

Which brings me back to a dentist from Minnesota. I put great value on creation. When others don’t, it bothers me. But when someone like Walter Palmer can decide the decline of a majestic species that’s numbers are in such a perilous state doesn’t apply to me, I can do whatever I want, and then exact a toll on it like he did, I want to cry. I have cried. Now, crying out is my new mission.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Tomorrow, part 2: I need wild places, and I want the wild places to remain wild.

The essence of success.

What would you do if you had assurance that you would not fail?

It’s an interesting question posed to me by a friend. Here’s the long answer. (It’s not a straight answer either.)

It has been a long, long time since the prospect of failing has stopped me from trying anything. When I was a kid, I was afraid to fail and I’m certain it cost me some life experiences. But I haven’t been a kid in a good, long while. I have enjoyed many successes and endured a number of failures. Try as many things as I have tried and you’re bound to fail now and then. Along the way I learned that failing and failure are two different things (but that’s another post for another day).

What stops me is contentment. Contentment has a strong pull. There’s nothing like a good rut (my friend Nancy says).

To me, contentment is success. Find your groove, get in it and enjoy the ride. The grass may look greener, but it rarely is. There will always be that next shiny, new thing, but the shine always dulls. Strip off the filters to reveal your life as what you’ve made it to be and contentment is likely to follow. My friend Phil once said, “you always get what you want, what you really want. You may say ‘I want six-pack abs,’ but you don’t get six-pack abs unless you want them more than you want Krispy-Kreme donuts.”

Sometimes contentment will be mislabeled – as laziness, lethargy, ignorance or worst, underachievement. Contentment is no more a sure sign of laziness than looking busy is a sure sign of being important. It is a state of mind, not body. I know people with more money, larger houses, nicer cars and more trappings but little or no contentment.

I also know this. There is no one in whose skin I would be more comfortable or content than the skin I already own. That is a gift with immeasurable value, and makes each day an oyster I long to crack open with great anticipation of what I will find. Maybe it’s because I’m simple, easily amused, or lacking ambition.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a Jones, and I’ve got no one to keep up with but myself.

So my short answer? What I’m doing.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Lake Louise is a wonder. She lies flat and still in a fold of the Canadian Rockies, resting where she does only because glacial melt has to go somewhere. It goes here and stays, making an aqua pool whose color is unmatched anywhere in nature.

Above Louise is Agnes. She is a lesser known, smaller and far less celebrated little sister. She is beautiful in her own right, and has something Louise doesn’t have. She has a tea house.

If one wants to make the trek to the Lake Agnes Tea House (and we did), you first walk half the length of Lake Louise, take a hard right and climb only 1,200 feet over about 3 miles. At the top awaits 100 loose leaf teas, soups, sandwiches, boards of cheese and two fireplaces. It’s not a tough hike at all, unless you start pretty tired and a little hungry. Or, it’s cold, or rainy. Or all of the above.

Our hike started a bit later than planned. As we skirted Louise and turned up the hill, we hardly noticed the mist that had turned to drizzle. A mile or so up, the drizzle gained strength as we lost ours. At mile 2, we no longer enjoyed the view, watching our feet as rain fell full force. By the time we caught our first glimpse of the tea house, we were drowned rats – cold and ravenous. We stepped onto the porch and through the front door at 5:05 p.m.

“Sorry folks, we’re closed. We close at 5:00 p.m.,” said the host. I looked at her, and she looked at me, and our eyes said the same thing. “If we have to walk down without food, we will die. We will die at the Lake Agnes Tea House.”

“I’m sorry you’re closed, but if we don’t get something to eat, we will die here.” A bit dramatic, perhaps. But tough times call for tough measures.

“Just a minute,” our waiter replied, and came back from the kitchen with the five most beautiful words I ever heard. “OK, What do you want?”

Two crocks of soup, a platter of cheese, crackers and fresh fruit, warm apple crumble, two cookies, three pots of tea. two warm fires, two lovable eyes looking at me. And Louise’s little sister.

The best.

A Southern Winter

I love big sky country. Montana. Wyoming. The Dakotas. I walk outside in big sky country and the world seems smaller. Look left. Look right. Either way, miles and miles, horizon to horizon. Big sky.

I live in a forest–a beautiful, lovable, green, urban, southern jungle. In the summer, I sit on my patio, look into the woods behind my house and see green. Nothing but green. Trees, vines, bushes, plants. Not miles and miles, but horizon to horizon. As far as the eye can see, it sees green. Big green.

Eventually, winter digs in and big green surrenders. Leaves fall, perennials go dormant, annuals die. The trees lose their canopy and there, behind them is the sky. The big sky. I can’t see miles and miles, or horizon to horizon. But I see the sunrise, and the sunsets. Through the bare limbs I see chevrons of geese and, on clear, Carolina days, an ocean of blue.

It doesn’t last long. By February the trees start to show the buds that will provide the coveted shade of a southern summer. Buttercup stems, ankle-high by late January, deliver the first blast of green.

But on this southern winter day, there’s sky. Lots of sky. Big sky.

Five things I believe about creativity.

  1. You do your best work when you are an enthusiast for the product or service you’re promoting.
  2. You cannot overestimate the value of learning from mistakes made along the way.
  3. Eight hours away from a project will yield better results than tacking on that tenth hour.
  4. Some of what you create must be done for the sheer joy of creating it.
  5. They call it a weekend for a reason. Let your week end.

I wonder if they know

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. (Aesop)

Tomorrow, we’ll bid farewell to two wonderful friends. They’ll go in two different directions, for two different reasons.

Daisy, foster setter #5 is headed to New Jersey to become a beloved pet of a family who has always loved dogs, always had dogs, and after losing their long-time pet in the fall, are ready to open their home to a new friend. All dogs want this, and all dogs deserve this. And there is none more deserving than sweet Daisy!

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Bridgette, foster setter #4 is off to Raleigh, to another ACES foster home. Bridgette’s a fence jumper. Who would have guessed that the oldest foster we’ve had to date would be the one athletic, nimble and determined enough to go over s 4-foot fence? But she is, and keeping a foster safe is one of the things that is paramount.

Bridgette is as sweet as Daisy – a grande dame of sorts. It’s hard to see Daisy go because she is so lovable, and a remarkable dog. But we know that the family awaiting her arrival in New Jersey has her food ready, new toys and a bed, and loving arms to embrace her for the rest of her life. Bridgette has to wait. The foster home she is going to is part of the ACES network, complete with a loving, experienced foster mom, and equipped for escape artists like her (in short, with a 6-foot privacy fence). She will be fine.

But she will still be a foster, and the first we’ve had who won’t be going to her forever home – and that’s just a different tug on our hearts.

It makes me wonder if they know? Do the foster setters who come in and out of our home know that we love them, and that sometimes (at least this time) our love has to be defined by saying a sooner-than-expected farewell? Do they feel both our kindness to them, as well as our hurt when they leave us?

It hurts. It hurts to bid Bridgette goodbye. I hope there’s a home for you soon, sweet girl, with acres and acres of land, a soft sofa with fleece pillows for your beautiful head, and hundreds of the squirrels you love to chase.

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