Our temporary charge, who we named Pearl, because we found her near the Pearl River. She has such a cute goofy eye because one is pink and the other has a brown eyelid. We wish we could have kept her.
Poplarville to Silver Run Lakes, MS (near Perkinston)
Well, Greg's prediction came true. We did not sleep very well with our new puppy companion. We got ready for bed and set her in a box with a toy we bought her and some towels. We had to cover the top of the box with all manner of heavy objects in order to keep her in there through the night. Normally we would have let a puppy sleep in the bed with us, but we had found some fleas on her and decided she should not sleep in the bed. We played with her extensively before putting her to bed and at first she fell asleep right away and slept for about an hour and a half before waking us up with her little whimpers, which grew into howling and pathetic barking. You know, those kinds of barks that are meant to make you feel so bad for the animal as if they were about to die. We knew she was fine, having fed her a lot of food and given her a warm, soft place to sleep. When she woke us up the third time, Greg took her outside and she apparently had to poop. We made it through from 3AM to about 7AM with no trouble from the little puppy. It became very apparent that night that we would not be able to keep a puppy, less than 2 months old, with us on a bike trip. I can't imagine having a playful little puppy like that in our tiny tent. We have tried our best to not get attached by thinking of her finding a loving, stable home
When we woke up Greg rode his bike to a pet shop less than ½ mile away to look for leads on a home for the puppy. The shop was closed but he found a number on the door that directed him to an animal shelter in town. Greg called and found out that they are a small shelter and run as a foster only shelter. They never put down their animals and only adopt out to responsible owners, after the animals have been spayed or neutered. She told us that they weren't really accepting new animals but that they would take the puppy because they had a good chance of finding her a home. I am so happy we could find a place that would get her a home and she would not be in danger of being killed as she would in a regular shelter. I know she will be a great pet for someone. It breaks my heart that someone would just dump 7 helpless puppies into the swamp to fend for themselves and die of starvation, be killed by racoons or freeze to death. I find it so irresponsible that people will not take the time to spay and neuter their pets and then let them get pregnant with unwanted puppies (and then not take responsibility for the results). It is just inhumane to add to the already millions of unwanted and homeless pets that are put down every day. I would like everyone out there to think about this when you are considering breeding dogs or know someone who wants to. Please think about adopting one of the many wonderful dogs in shelters all over this country, you will probably be saving a life.
We left our cabin feeling good about the puppy mission and proceeded to find the public library. We spent two hours catching up on blogs and doing other internet chores. We were headed to the grocery store next when we got side-tracked by a barbeque place on the route. Greg has been begging to go to a barbeque place since the Hill Country in Texas. We stopped and ordered pulled pork sandwiches as a special treat. We had quite a filling meal there and don't expect we will need dinner. We even ended up going to the grocery store, then leaving empty-handed after we figured out we had all the food we needed. We took a casual ride down the road to our campground, only twenty miles away. We rode past many longleaf pines on the route. Longleaf pines are really interesting trees that were one commonly found throughout the southeast. They are very fire-adapted and for five years they remain in a “grass stage” which looks just like a clump of grass on the ground. This allows them to store up lots of energy and in the meantime survive most fires that come through while they are very young. After the grass stage they have a very large growth spurt and grow as tall as they can in order to out-compete other plants and survive fire. The longleaf pines have very large pine cones and their needles are over 12 inches long. We really enjoy seeing this once-widespread species.
We found our campground and went to the office to pay for out spot. The owner of the campground answered the door and in talking to her we found out that she and her husband had built this place in 1960. It began as a place for kids to come camping and evolved into a beautiful area where there are now many homes surrounding the picturesque lake. Nella Ruth Rogers, the original owner of this place has been running the business by herself since her husband passed away 25 years ago. She is now 85 years old and up until this year she has been the caretaker for the place, even mowing the lawns. We really respect her for all of her hard work, commitment and pride in keeping up such a nice place. We set up our tent for the night and Greg cooked us up a nice little snack of grilled cheese sandwiches with mustard sauce herring filets. It was so good, and it really warmed me up, along with the cup of hot chocolate. While we were eating our snack, a man in a cart pulled up to our site and introduced himself as Ron. Ron is a neighbor and wanted to come say hello and find out what our story was. He was really friendly and very easy to talk to. He invited us over to his home to share some popcorn, and we thought we might come over later after the snack. After talking for a bit, Ron went back home. We were surprised when he pulled up again, this time bringing us some hot buttered popcorn and two root beers. We talked some more and he generously invited us over again. We were so thankful to Ron for thinking of us and bringing us a nice little treat. After we were done with dishes, Ron brought us some MREs (or Meals Ready to Eat, made for the military they include all the food and fuel to make a meal and heat it as well.) He said, “Now I'm going to see how smart you Montanans really are, you could stay out here and freeze your butts off or you could come over to my house and watch tv, take a hot shower and sleep in a nice warm bed.” We thought this sounded pretty nice, and we were interested in talking more with Ron and his wife, Carol. We walked over to their beautiful house on the lake and talked for a while before going to sleep. Ron and Carol are retired and are still very active in helping people around them. They told us that after Katrina hit they volunteered to help victims through their church and ended up helping out for the next eight months. They were the volunteers living closest to their worksite, they drove a mile down the road to help distribute supplies and help with whatever the people needed the most. It was really amazing to meet such caring and compassionate people who devoted so much time to helping those in need. They made lots of great friends in the process and still get together with them each year. They have been so gracious and very inspiring to us. They have reaffirmed our feelings of how there are so many wonderful people all over this great country and when you get right down to it, there are many more things that we have in common than things that divide us. Thanks again Ron and Carol Foley.