Stranger Danger! Why a puppy in a window should have you running away

I remember growing up, walking past a pet store window, and going “Awww look at the puppy! I want one!” Much like stores placing candy at the checkout aisles in a grocery store, pet stores who sell puppies rely on the impulse factor to get you to buy one. You see one you just HAVE to have, you go in, you play with them, and you are hooked. I have even fallen under the pet store impulse spell. Back in 1997, my ex husband and I went in “just to look” but we were NOT going to purchase one.  $800+ later, we walked out with Jake, my first dog as an adult.

Jake

Jake

Jake was an adorable rat terrier. The sales associate explained he was UKC registered but not AKC registered and had us convinced how unimportant that was.  Looking back, I have to appreciate how great he was at his job! This was 1997, I didn’t know then what I know now.  I don’t regret buying Jake, he was an amazing dog, but I will never purchase another dog from a pet store.

I may be an advocate for adopting but that doesn’t mean I am 100% against buying a purebred dog also.  I just want everyone to understand the pros and cons as well as clear up some myths or, in reality, some ignorance, about purebred dogs, shelters, rescues, and pet stores.

First, I understand wanting a purebred dog.  It is OK if you want a specific breed. You want a particular look.  There is nothing wrong with it. The first question I would ask is “why?” Why do you want a purebred? Is it the look? Ok. Is it the love of the breed? Ok Is it because they are better dogs? NOT TRUE!

Fact: You can find purebred dogs in shelters and rescues. You can even find AKC registered dogs in shelters and rescues.

Neapolitan Mastiff, Dog, big dog, Blue

@BellaTheMastiff

My Neapolitan Mastiff, Bella, is one. Have I ever sent for her papers? Of course not. (For the record, I never sent in for Jake’s either) I wasn’t going to breed either one of them so why spend the money? Yes, getting a piece of paper that says who their mom and dad is costs money. What are you going to do with it? Tuck it in a drawer just to say you have it.  Just because someone spent a lot of money on a purebred dog doesn’t mean the dog was given a forever home.  They get abandoned, turned in, re-homed, etc., all the time.  Talk to your local shelter about what breed you are looking for and they can give you the names of the ones they work with.  Sometimes if a purebred dog is in the shelter, the shelter will call a local (or sometimes a not so local) rescue group for that breed. The group will take the dog out of the shelter and into a foster home and then they work to find a new family for the dog.  This frees up another cage in the shelter, gets the dog out of a cage and into a home where the foster parent(s) most likely loves and understands the breed, and the rescue group works to find a new family.  Another way to find a breed specific rescue group is to just search the Internet.  Type in the breed you want followed by the word “rescue” and your search will begin.  Like everything, never wire money, make sure the group has their 501(C)3 status, and they are legitimate organization.  Another way is to search “Dog Friendly Events” in your area, especially in the spring and fall, to see what events are taking place where there are a lot of dog friendly vendors and rescue groups.

“I want a puppy”

Fact: shelters and rescues have puppies!!! I am always surprised how many times I hear someone say shelters only have adult dogs.  Puppies are abandoned, dropped off, found, all the time.  Sometimes a dog gets pregnant and the owner doesn’t want to deal with it, so they drop it off at the shelter.  Friends of mine found seven puppies outside of our dog park, with their feral mom and dad running around.  All seven puppies lived, were cared for until old enough to be adopted, and found great homes. The mom and dad were also caught. The dad is super sweet, was adopted and doing great.  The mom is still feral but in a foster home where they are working with her.  Puppies might not be available every day in a shelter, but tell them you want a puppy and they will let you know what they have and when they will be up for adoption.  You might not always SEE puppies in the actual shelter because they might be out in foster homes where they can play, learn, and grow in a better environment than a shelter.

“I want a small dog”

FACT: Small dogs are available at shelters & rescues.  There might not be as many of them, but they are there. Sometimes they are picked up by breed specific rescues like I mentioned earlier.  Talk to the shelter, if they don’t have the size you are looking for, I’m sure they can get you in touch with a local rescue.

“I don’t want a dog with problems”

FACT: A puppy from a pet store is a PUPPY MILL DOG!!! Talk about potential problems.  Let’s start with the fact that mom, you know, the AKC dog the sales person talked about, is kept in a cage and just gets to produce puppies. That’s all she does.  The papers may have a sweet sounding name like “Beautiful Acres Farms” (I made this name up, so if the business exists, it is in no way affiliated with the puppy mill business as far as I know). You want to picture dogs running free, having puppies in the lap of luxury but that is not the case.  These dogs are only good to the owners as long as they produce puppies.  Then, often, they are destroyed when they age out.  The puppy mill owners do not care about these dogs.  They don’t get love, attention.  They don’t get human interaction outside of food and water and shots.  Can you imagine the only time you feel a human hand on you is followed by a needle prick? Until they go to a pet store for sale, where they are handled from one person to another, often by people who don’t even know how to handle a puppy, supervised by people who collect a paycheck & a commission when they sell the puppy….all of this followed by being ripped from the only security they know, their mom, without an appropriate weaning time and transition.  Do you really think this doesn’t cause behavioral problems???

puppy mills, ozarks, dogs in cages

Photo Courtesy Ozark Humane Society

FACT: Like every “business” you have some bad associates, but for the most part, associates and VOLUNTEERS at rescues and shelters are there because they love animals and want to help them.  They aren’t there to get rich, trust me.  They want the animals placed in good, loving, forever homes so they will work with potential adopters to find the right dog for you.  There are dogs out in foster homes where the foster parent will discuss openly and honestly the good and, sometimes, the bad of the dog.  They will tell you if they are good with kids, with other dogs, cats, etc. Their sole purpose is to find a good home for the dog so it does not end up back in a shelter.  Can they get over zealous about ONLY adoption, etc? Yes, they can. But please understand what they see everyday and what they deal with. Appreciate their passion and understand it comes from the right place.

On the flip side, Pet Store clerks have little knowledge of animals and animal care outside what they are trained to say. Let’s be honest, if they REALLY knew and REALLY cared, they wouldn’t be working at a store that sells puppy mill puppies. They WANT you to buy the puppy so they get the commission. What happens after that, they don’t care. The money is in their pocket.  They are off to sell the next one.

Another unknown fact to many is many local animal shelters do not just have dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, but sometimes other animals as well, such as bunnies, chickens, and even a rooster from time to time.  While it may not be as common, any time an animal is picked up or confiscated from an owner, they have to have someplace to go until a new home can be found.

At the end of the day, there are too many GREAT dogs in shelters looking for their “furever” homes.  If you are looking to add a pet to your family and have no plans on entering that pet into the show world where registration papers may be required, please consider visiting your local animal shelter, look on social media for local rescue groups, or, if you’re looking for a new dog, go visit a local dog park.  Many owners there are friendly and usually willing to point you in the right direction.  There might even be someone there who works or volunteers with a shelter or animal rescue.

Do your homework.  If you want a purebred pet, please find a reputable, qualified breeder.  If you just want a loving pet to welcome into your home, please consider adoption over purchase.  You will truly be saving their life and the life of the pet who may be coming in to take their empty cage.

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

 

 

Pop the Bubbly but not your eye – HaliPawz

HaliPawz protect eye champagne cork

As the New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, it is important to think about some of the dangers you don’t hear about.  Champagne and sparkling wine is consumed in large amounts during all of the celebrations but take an extra minute to use the proper care so your celebration doesn’t end in a trip to the emergency room.  Remember when you pop the bubbly to do so in a safe manner!

According to Friedrich Balck of Clausethal Technical University in northwest Germany, a champagne cork reaches speeds of over 20 miles per hour when it is popped and, theoretically, depending on the conditions, could reach up to over 60 miles per hour.  There is more pressure from one bottle than there is in three car tires.  When you think about that velocity, you can only imagine what can happen if that cork should happen to hit an eye.  If you don’t lose your sight completely, you can pretty much guarantee it will never be the same as it is now.  Even if it doesn’t hit a person, proper care should always be used because it can break anything it hits such as a light, a window, or even a television.

Opening a bottle under pressure such as a champagne bottle, sparkling wine, or prosecco safely can be done.

First, studies have shown a cooler beverage results in less pressure of the cork.  Ideally, you would want the champagne chilled to around 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius).  This temperature also helps minimize the amount of champagne spraying out.

Next, remover the foil and the wire cage.  Usually you just untwist the wire key at the bottom, under the cork, until it is loose enough to slide over the cork.  Be careful not to do this until you are ready to uncork the bottle. Think of it as if you are removing the safety on a handgun. The minute the wire cage is off, the bottle should immediately be pointed in a safe direction away from anyone it can harm as the cork can pop out on it’s own depending on the pressure in the bottle.

Hold on to the main part of the bottle with one hand and place a dish towel or wine town over the cork with your other hand over the bulbous part of the cork and the towel.

Position the bottle against your hip or side to give you better control of the bottle and make sure it is aimed away from anyone and anything.  Slowly begin twisting the cork with your hand gently working it out of the bottle. You will feel the cork loosen and get easier to work;  then you should hear a soft pop when the cork slips out.

I know it is fun to hear that POP sound as the cork flies out.  If you HAVE to hear that popping sound, make sure the bottle is facing away from you and others, including animals, and is pointed towards a wall or ceiling and nothing breakable.  Look in the opposite direction UNTIL you hear the POP and then turn your head back.

While it is fun to enjoy any celebration with a bubbly drink, be sure to be smart and safe so the celebration can continue until YOU want it to end.

Happy New Year!

An added tip….if you choose to set off fireworks during your celebration, be sure to NOT drink too much champagne and always wear protective eye-wear and gloves!

champagne bottle popping and fireworks

Champagne popping and Fireworks

Unfair expectations of children set by adults who forget who THEY were as teens – HaliPawz

As I am sure in many families, when everyone gets together for the holidays, topics of discussion can range from the most mundane to heated debates.  My family is no different.  We started a discussion about some high school students who were “kicked off” their various extra curricular activities because of behavior their school deemed “inappropriate”. Short story, they got drunk at a party and got caught.  

I do not think teenagers need to drink and get drunk.  If you are a patent, it is up to you to have those discussions with your child(ren). My surprise was how the school chose to handle it.  As we discussed more, I learned many schools take this stand and I think patents need to step in and be more of an advocate for their child and stop letting this happen.  

It all stems from the fact that many students are required to sign a “code of conduct” in order to participate in the extra curricular activity of their choice. Allegedly, the students were reported drinking by another student and many of them were removed from their sports and academic events.  Because some of them were seniors, not only does it affect their last year of high school but could also affect their chances at scholarships, college choices, etc.  I found this to be a very harsh punishment for a mistake.  I went and researched other school’s published Code of Conducts and saw many of them clearly had their punishments laid out for first offense, second offense, and third offense.  None of them went right to removal of the student from the activity.  When I went to review the code of conduct for the school we were discussing, I found it interesting that the page had been removed! 

 

Code of Conduct Page Removed

 
Since I cannot comment on their particular code of conduct, I want to share some of my thoughts regarding a Code of Conduct and the punishments behind them.  

I understand playing a sport or doing an extra curricular activity is a privilege and not a right.  I understand schools have to right to set some expectations for those representing their schools.  My concern is when the expectation is greater for a minor than it is for adults.  Some of the CofC I read expected the kids to be perfect.  I wonder, how many of those adults responsible for WRITING the CofC would have been guilty of not following it when they were teenagers?

  
Another concern is the zero tolerance for making a mistake? You go to a party. You drink. One person finds out, reports it, and you’re off the team? Off Student Council? Is that really fair?  It was not a school event.  It was just teenagers being dumb. 

One CofC I read said you could not be loitering anywhere where alcohol or drugs were present.  I think back to my high school days.  My sister (college aged) would have a party when my parents were out of town.  I would be home and at those parties sometimes.  There was alcohol. According to these CofC, if a picture circulated with me there or someone reported it, I would be in trouble.  There doesn’t seem to be a gray area. 

Another question I have is; how are these even legal? How can they be upheld.  If an adult can not go into a legal, binding, contract with a minor, how can a school? I understand parents have to sign as well, but, in reality, there is no consequence for the parent, other than their son or daughter no longer being on the team.  

I understand there should be expectations and consequences for actions. I can see why the schools would have them in place, all I am saying is to take a step back and really look at the expectations and the consequences.  Does the punishment fit the crime? Are we, as adults, setting higher expectations for children than we set for ourselves? Are we teaching them there is no room for mistakes? 

At the end of the day, there is a reason the laws are different for those under the age of 18. Perhaps some adults need to review those reasons. 

When your voice goes from falling on deaf ears to being heard; a review of the movie Suffragette – HaliPawz

I am guilty of not thinking a lot about the rights I have as a woman.  I know there are countries where women do not enjoy the freedom I have here in the United States and I feel for them but I have never really truly thought about what the women before me went through in order for me to have the rights I enjoy today.  I received an email telling me I had passes to the screening of the movie Suffragette at the Alamo Drafthouse.  I always enjoy having a reason to go there so I looked up the back story of the movie.  It was based on a true story and about women fighting for the right to vote.  Sounded interesting so I was looking forward to going.

My day got away from me at work and I almost decided to not go because I was late getting home.  I changed into some jeans and a sweatshirt and headed out, hoping I would be able to get a seat still.  (When you get passes to a screening, it is first come, first seat, so if you arrive late, you might not be able to get a seat).  I didn’t think it would be an “in demand” movie so I figured I would get a seat, I was just hoping it would be a decent one.  Sadly, there were a lot of empty seats.  I say sadly because the movie was good.  It was better than I expected.  It moved me.  It made me appreciative of what I enjoy today.  It made me think back to that time, to a time when women had no rights and it truly made me realize it wasn’t about the right to vote, it was about the right to be free to speak, to think, to have a voice when your voice fell on deaf ears.  While the movie was set in England, the lack of respect was not limited to England, it transcended throughout the world.

When we live in a time where courts give such a huge preference to the mothers of children, even when the mother isn’t really fit to be a parent, it’s hard to imagine a time when women did not have that luxury.  A time when a child could be taken from the mother with no one thinking anything about it.  If the father didn’t want the mother to be part of the child’s life, he had that right, because the courts saw the child as his property.

It went beyond the fact that women worked harder than some of the men and only made a third of what the men earned.  It showed the bosses had the right to treat the women any way they wanted.  Not only did the courts look the other way, but husbands would even look the other way, because the money was needed for the household.  It was OK for the women of the poor to work and be treated in such a horrible way, but not OK for them to want a voice, want a say.

Women had no rights in prison.  They could be arrested for “unlawful assembly” and be detained for weeks, months, even years without proof.  If they were viewed as “trouble makers” they were watched and arrested with little to no actual proof.  Barbaric measures were used on them in prison with no one thinking twice about them.

Girls as young as 12 could be married.  Once they were married, they had no rights or any say in anything that happened to them, to their property, to their money, or even to their children.  It did not matter if they married rich or were working woman poor, their rights were non existent.

Carey Mulligan, who plays Maud Watts, a wife and mother who had no desire to be a Suffragette but was pulled in and became a voice when she started to see the true reason behind the movement.  She did a great job of drawing you into the film, into her character.  You felt her pain, you felt her sadness, you felt her loss when her world was crumbling around her.

All of the women in the movie did an amazing job.  It was raw, it was moving.  They had a story to tell and they told the story.  There were moments you laughed.  There were moments your heart broke.  It isn’t a movie about emotional highs and lows though.  It was about helping the audience connect to the story, to get immersed in the story. Meryl Streep, who plays Emmeline Pankhurst has a small part, but her part shows the length, the strength, the depths these women were willing to go to in order to get their voices heard.

To understand that these women were peacefully protesting for 50 years before they took more radical measures as the movie showcases was so surprising to me.  I never knew how long of a fight women fought for the rights we have today but then to think about the fights that are still happening when it comes to wage equality and position equality within some companies.

So, while I went to watch a movie to write a review, I left with a new understanding of history.  History that affects me directly.  History that affects women all over the world directly.  I have always been a supporter of all people having equal rights.  I have said over and over, as long as a person isn’t bringing harm to themselves, children, animals, or others, then they should have the same rights as the person next to them.  It isn’t until everyone accepts the equality measure that this world we live in will truly be equal.

I encourage you to go and see the movie, it isn’t a “feminist” movie, it is a movie about passion for what is right, passion for justice.  I think everyone can walk away with an understanding much clearer than the little bit we learned in history class.

The Fight is definitely not over.

Coke with Lemon, Lemon with Lemon, Lemon with Peppermint…fun with Giambri’s porous candy sticks – HaliPawz

I love social media when used in the right way.  I saw a story on Facebook a few weeks ago about a Baltimore, Maryland treat consisting of a lemon and a peppermint stick.  I had never heard of this!  It sounded interesting.  A social media win, telling us about a local treat I might not have heard of had it not been for Facebook.  I began a search to explore more about this delicious sounding treat.  It seemed pretty simple.  You take a lemon, slice off about a 1/3 from the top, put an x in the center of it, and insert a porous peppermint stick.  Of course, the most difficult thing about the instructions is finding the porous peppermint stick.  This isn’t the same as a candy cane, as they are made differently.

I went back to Facebook for a minute and a suggested page (based on my search of the lemon stick)  was for Giambri’s Quality Sweets.  I had never heard of them, so I went to look at their page.  They sold the porous peppermint sticks, but in addition to that, they were featuring their porous lemon sticks.  They advertised putting these sticks in a lemon, just like the peppermint sticks, or in iced tea or your favorite summer drink.  It started me thinking…..I LOVE LOVE LOVE a nice cold glass of Coca-Cola with a lemon wedge, I started drinking it this way when I visited Germany and it’s how I’ve ordered it in a restaurant ever since….how would the porous lemon stick taste in the glass of coke?

I emailed Giambri’s and asked them if they would consider sending me a couple lemon sticks as well as a couple of peppermint sticks for me to try and then write about.  I was thrilled when they emailed me back stating they would! After giving them my address, I patiently waited for them to arrive. I liked that Giambri’s uses natural flavors.  It appears to be a candy that works for people allergic to other candies.

The first thing I noticed was how well packaged the product was. The black paper with their company sticker is a nice touch.  It’s like a present waiting to be opened!  In addition, the sticks are wrapped in bubble wrap, packing peanuts fill the box, and there is an single use cooler pack at the bottom to keep them in premium quality condition until they arrive at their destination.  I’m sure it also helps cushion the sticks.

Candy, dry ice

Giambri’s Quality Sweets packaging with label

porous candy

Giambri’s Peppermint and Lemon Stick

The sticks themselves were a little shorter than I envisioned.  The description says they are about 4″ long, but until you see them, you don’t quite know how long that is!  The color on them is vibrant. They looked fun!  I was excited to try them!

The first thing I wanted to try was a glass of Coke with the lemon stick.  As I am at my mom’s house right now, I went on the search for the perfect glass.  I didn’t take the size of the stick into account because I ended up getting a glass too tall.  I think, if I was to have them in the future, I would maybe use a wine glass or champagne glass.  I think it would work better.

Glass of Coca Cola with Giambri's Lemon Stick for a straw

Glass of Coca Cola with Giambri’s Lemon Stick for a straw

When I took the first sip, it was a little difficult to get a sip through.  As I sipped slowly, I noticed the cola started flowing through the stick easier and I could taste the lemon more.  The lemon flavor was very rich, without being overpowering.  As you can see, the glass is tall, so the stick fell down into the soda after a few minutes.  When I pulled it back out to continue using, the stick was pretty sticky!  Since I was at home, I didn’t care; I just re-positioned it, washed my hands, and kept using it.  It made a great straw.  I decided to let it sit in the coke for a few minutes to see what happened.  The stick started to break down.  It broke in my lips when I went to take a sip again.  I ate that part and just pulled the stick up to keep using.  Within minutes, the stick broke up and I wasn’t able to use it anymore.  While the flavor was great and it was a fun way to get my lemon flavor with my coke, I think the acidity in the coke was too much for the candy straw.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I try different beverages?  Of course!  I could imagine using the stick to drink lemonade, pink lemonade, even my favorite alcoholic beverage; Kinky Vodka and Lemonade would taste great with the stick.  I could see using them as straws when hosting a fun, adult summer party.

Next try was the Lemon with the Peppermint stick, also known as “Lemon Sticks”

Giambri

Lemon Stick; Lemon with Peppermint Stick

As I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty easy.  You cut the top 1/3 of the lemon off.  I rolled the lemon on the counter with my palm before cutting, to make the lemon a little juicier.  I cut a small slit in the top of the lemon, right in the middle, then inserted the peppermint stick into the lemon.  I squeezed the lemon just a little bit as I sipped on the stick. Wow was I not ready for that taste!  I am sure glad there was no one with a camera near me.  I tasted the sweetness of the peppermint stick and the tartness of the lemon….but I did not think they blended well at all!  OK, surely I did something wrong. I double checked all of the sources and nope, I did it exactly like it said.  My mom asked me how I liked it and I handed it to her to try.  The face she made said it all!  Perhaps our Midwest palettes are not meant for this famous treat.  I was through the lemon pretty quickly so I decided to try another one.  Maybe it was just the lemon.  Ummm, nope, not the lemon.  It was not good in my opinion.  The funny thing is, I kept trying it!  My mom tried the second lemon and she felt the same way.  They were messy.  The peppermint stick got extremely sticky.  The lemon juice fell down the side.  I had a couple of napkins under it, but I just didn’t feel like it was a fun, tasty treat.

My mom had the great idea to try to add just a little sugar to the lemon.  What did it hurt?  I went and took a teaspoon of sugar and placed it around the peppermint stick, letting it fall down into the lemon.  It was actually better!  Is it still a treat I would seek out and pay for?  No.  It just didn’t work for me like it does for so many others.

Next I’m on to the Lemon Stick with the Lemon.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have to try it first without sugar and then with sugar because I’m anticipating a similar reaction.

Lemon with the Lemon Stick 

I was prepared for this one.  I had a few ideas and some trepidation.  I wanted to love it because of how much I love lemonade, especially carnival style lemonade, but I was concerned I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.  I had my lemon ready, preparing it the same way, for maximum juiciness, cut the slit, inserted the lemon stick, and prepared to drink.  It was good.  Not the “dance around the room” good, but the two tastes mixed ok. Adding my Plan B, I had another lemon with just a drizzle of sugar over it ready and waiting.  I inserted the stick in that one one really liked the flavor.  It was the best of all the worlds.  It had the grittiness of the carnival lemonade, the tartness from the lemon, and the sweetness from the candy stick.  

Lemon with Lemon Stick

  I was very happy with the result as far as taste but, again, it was messy.  It was difficult to get the juice out. If you squeezed it slightly, then the juice ran all down your hand. The stick doesn’t stay in place after a while or you find yourself swishing it around like a straw to get more juice, which results in a sticky mess or breakage. 

Once I was frustrated with the running lemon juice and the sticky candy, I quickly made a glass of carnival style lemonade with ice, sugar, water, and the two lemons I had been trying to drink, put the candy stick in it, and drank it that way. YUM!!! If only those sticks were a little longer, I could have had a nice tall glass of lemonade using it as a straw! Instead, I used a wine glass. It worked! 

Now, to talk about the candy separate from the lemons. My favorite, by far, was the lemon stick.  It has such a rich lemony flavor that is authentic.  Too many lemon candies leave you feeling like you are eating candy. With Giambri’s Lemon Stick, you get a smooth lemon flavor; how is that even possible??? It is! I can honestly say I will order these again just to have as candy and probably more Coca Cola straws! I just wish they were longer for that! 

The peppermint stick is good.  It we hadn’t been in such a crazy heat wave here in Missouri I probably would have made a cup of hot chocolate and sipped it through the stick. I love peppermint hot chocolate.  I have not jumped on the iced hot chocolate bandwagon so I may purchase some peppermint sticks in the winter to try.  The peppermint flavor was bold. It was a nice flavor. I was disappointed I didn’t like it with the lemon, but it’s not for everyone.  I’m not a peppermint alone type person too much, so I don’t know if I would go out of my way to purchase them. If you like peppermint candies, I highly recommend trying these. 

My favorite, between the two, is clearly the lemon. What I can say based on my experience with them and the quality I tasted is they ARE quality! I would guess any flavor purchased would be true to the flavor, would hold up well, and would be a fun treat for all ages. 

I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on their experience with Giambri’s or the lemon stick phenomenon. Leave me a comment. 

Thank you again to Giambri’s for letting me try your delicious candies! I will be ordering more lemon ones soon! 

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

The Confederate Battle Flag and the “N” word are not all that different but many may disagree – HaliPawz

racism, empathy

I understand I may make some angry with this post.  It is NOT my intent.  Please read the WHOLE blog before you form an opinion about me, about the flag, or even what your real argument is about.

I recently had a conversation with a non white male about the confederate flag and all of the drama around it.  So many people are focused on the Confederate Flag and how it represents so much hate and horrible ideas but as the discussion continued between the two of us, I stated to him the “N” word is just like the Confederate Flag and the conversation got even more intense.

His argument:  The Confederate Flag is a representation of hate and was designed around white supremacy, and therefore should be gone.

My Argument:  The Confederate Flag is a representation of Southern Pride and / or of country life, and has nothing to do with hate except for those who allow hate and racism to enter their lives.

His Argument:  But the history of it shows it represents something else.

My argument:  But history shows the true meaning of the word Negro and the “N” word and why it should not be used by ANYONE but there are those who choose to ignore it and give it  it’s own meaning.  How is the “N” word any different than the Confederate Flag, it’s just  different groups supporting the two sides.

Now mind you, I was driving across state heading from Michigan to Missouri so I couldn’t take the time to break it down with facts about the Confederate Flag and I wanted to refresh my memory of the N word before I stated facts.

Please understand, I am not trying to divide the races even further, but rather to get everyone to understand similarities exist, even when we don’t want to see it.

Let’s look at some true facts first…..the term “Confederate Flag” is used when people are talking about this flag:

This is the Rebel Flag, not the Confederate Flag

This is the Rebel Flag, not the Confederate Flag

But the Confederate Flag actually looked like this:

White Man's Flag

Actual Confederate Flag

William Thompson, who designed the Confederate Flag DID say it was the “White Man’s Flag” but the Rebel Flag, causing all the uproar right now, was designed by Willliam Porcher Miles.  Was Miles racist?  Probably.  He was a Southern man living during a time when the country was divided.  Yes, he was known as a slave owner, but so were some of our earlier presidents and key men in our history.  I’m not here to discuss slavery.

The history of the Confederate Battle Flag or Rebel Flag

The Confederate Battle Flag was just that, a battle flag.  It was NOT a representation of slavery, it was just the battle flag of the south.  There have been people saying it flew on slave ships.  Not true.  The south NEVER owned any slave ships.  Technically, the slave ships were from the New England State, the dutch, and the Portuguese, NOT the south! It wasn’t even a southern NATIONAL flag, it was JUST a battle flag.   When racist groups, such as neo-nazis and skinheads choose to use this flag as “their” flag, they are, in fact desecrating the Confederate Flag and technically have no right to use it.  There are southern men and women who lost their loved ones, their ancestors, who died under that flag flying.  While we may not agree with WHAT they were fighting for, they have every right to want to respect the flag that represents THEIR history.  You don’t have to agree with something to respect it.  Black men, of their own free will, chose to fight under this very same flag that everyone is saying represents white men only.  So not true.  There are a lot of myths surrounding the Civil War.  It wasn’t as simple as the north was free and the south was slavery.  It goes so much further.

One group you may want to study further is the “Sons of Confederate Soldiers”  and read their statement so many, including the media, ignored.

Before I get into my deep comparison, think of a tradition such as “jumping the broom” that was passed on from ancestors to today.  A white person living in a predominately white town may have no idea what “Jumping the broom” means, but that doesn’t make them hate it or fight to have it removed from the weddings of those who choose to keep that tradition.  Yes, I understand there is a difference between someone choosing to have a tradition at their wedding vs a flag flying high on a government building.  All I’m trying to say is to understand the meaning TODAY behind something before you get upset, not the meaning the media or hate groups want you to believe.

47% of those polled only think of the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of pride in the south.  They don’t even know the history of it other than that.

This leads me to the N word…..

Negro comes from the Greek word Necro meaning dead, empty of life, corpse.  Now, I can say I choose to never use the N word or the word Negro but there are those who choose to use it as a sign of empowerment, indicating that, by using the word, they are taking it back and taking the negativity away from it.  But it comes with rules.  It is not OK for EVERYONE to use it.  Who decides?  At the end of the day, some use it almost like a word of pride.  I personally don’t understand how a word representing death and empty of life is a word to be proud of, but it’s not for me to understand because it isn’t MY history.

At the same time, I would hope those who CAN understand the pride that goes with the N word for themselves or those they know would look deep in their hearts to understand how the Confederate Battle Flag can be a source of PRIDE for those with Southern Roots.

The south wasn’t the only one who owned slaves.  There was slavery in the north as well.  In fact, there were some slave owners in the north that tried to ignore the laws even after Emancipation Proclamation.

At the end of the day, we don’t have to agree with something in order to be accepting of it.  Try to gain a little better understanding of WHY one group supports something, even when you may not and ask them to understand the things you support.  By taking the time to understand and appreciate another point of view, there will be less knee jerk reactions to all situations.

All I ask if for you to think about it, consider what I’m saying, and try to understand a point of view different than your own; it might just help make the world, and relationships with others, a little better!

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz

Hyundai Elantra, my latest Hertz Rental Car – HaliPawz

As my summer with mom draws to a close, it was time for me to head back to Kansas City, Missouri from Port Huron, Michigan. I rented a car from Hertz like I normally do. I wasn’t as happy this time about the rental price, but that is another story. I had picked the group “Toyota Corolla or similar” and ended up with a 2015 Hyundai Elantra.  I have some question about the Elantra and the Corolla being in the same class, but Hertz, like any rental car, is never specific enough to give you an true answer and it wasn’t so far off that I feel like complaining again to them.

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Let’s talk about this car for a minute. The first thing I want to acknowledge is that it is a nice looking car. I’m really more of an SUV/truck person in general, but I do appreciate a decent looking car at a good value. The car has a nice sleek look to it. When I got in to drive away, I was impressed with the amount of legroom when you put the seat all the way back. I’m 5 foot 10, so plenty of legroom, especially for a long drive, is very important.  I still don’t like how low it is to the ground, like I mentioned in a previous rental review, but again, I’m used to being higher up in my mini suv.

Headed to my moms to pick up my luggage I didn’t have a real chance to check the vehicle out, as it is a straight shot on a normal road. The brakes were crazy intense though! I barely tapped them and the car jolted to a stop!

When I start loading the luggage, I was impressed with the amount of trunk space there was. I am not the neatest packer, especially on car road trips. As long as everything can shove in the trunk I am happy! Because of this, I appreciate ample trunk space. I fit my suitcase, a duffle bag, a baby gate (for the dogs), a 30 pound bag of dog food, two tie outs, the dog’s travel bag, my laptop bag, a pair of shoes, some miscellaneous small bags,  and a big Sam’s Club thermal tote with some food in it.

Hertz, Rental, travel

Hyundai Elantra Trunk filled with stuff

Since it’s a rental, I covered all of the seats in sheets and blankets.  Filled the dogs water cooler and put it in the back, on the floor.  Loaded the dogs up and we were on our way.

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

The backseat must not be too bad, because Bella was not as restless as she was on the trip six weeks ago in the rental car. She only wanted her head out the window for about two minutes and then settled in on the seat and fell asleep. Zipper crashed in his normal place on the floor of the backseat.

When I first hit the expressway, I was a little concerned as the car seemed to want to sway back-and-forth quite a bit. There wasn’t a lot of wind, so I wasn’t really sure what caused it. All I knew was it was going to be a long drive if it continued. After a while, I began to think maybe it was me, because it seemed to get better as we drove along. There is an interesting feature I found on the car, you can choose what mode you want to drive it. The options are normal, Sport, and Comfort. I’m not going to lie, I played with it a few different times on the road, and I honestly couldn’t see that much of a difference. The steering wheel might be a little tighter in sport mode but it was very minimal.

I have to drive from Port Huron, Michigan to Kansas City, Missouri pretty down pat. I usually know where I’m going to have to stop, I know when I’m a third of the way, I know when I’m half way, especially when I’m doing the drive overnight. As I was crossing Michigan, I was on the phone and realized that I had already been on the road about four hours and the gas tank was still at half a tank. I couldn’t believe it!  I made it all the way from My mom’s house, to Kanake, Illinois before I had to stop!  It wasn’t because I needed gas, it’s because my bladder gave out before the gas did. It only took 10 gallons to fill it back up and we were back on the road. I noticed I still had 447 miles to go until I reached my home, and the car was saying I had 417 miles to empty. Had I waited another half an hour, I would’ve only needed to fill the vehicle up once for a 12 hour drive! That is pretty impressive. In looking at the gauges I averaged about 36.8 to 38.4 miles per gallon.  Not too bad.

Hertz, rental, travel

Hyundai Elantra Gauge showing 36.8 mpg

Hertz, Rental Car, Travel

Notice the angle of the edges on the driver’s seat of this Hyundai Elantra

As I have mentioned before, I am not a small woman. The seats were not the most comfortable in my opinion. The edges kind of dug into my outer thighs a little bit so I found myself shifting a lot. Perhaps if I had a vehicle with power seats, it might have been a  little better because I could have raised them up a little, but I doubt it. I found myself sliding down in the seat quite often and then having to shift myself back up. It’s just not comfortable when you’re wearing a pair shorts! Another complaint I had which I have often in cars, is the position of the center armrest and the side armrest; there is no comfortable way for me to rest my arm on it while I’m driving. They were both way too low. I found myself bringing my left leg up and resting my arm on it while I kept my hand on the steering wheel.

For some reason I don’t seem to like the cruise control on this vehicle. I can’t explain it, but I feel like I was constantly tapping my break and shutting it off and then driving with my foot on the gas again. I hit a little bit of rain at one point in the drive, and the vehicle handled it pretty well. I had control of the vehicle at all times.

***A little safety tip… Never ever ever use your cruise control when it is sprinkling, raining, snowing, icy, etc.!  It is not safe.***

Okay, back to the review!

The headlights were weird. I know that sounds strange, but I had difficulty figuring out if my lights were on or not!  I drove at least an hour and a half to two hours with just my parking lights on until it got dark enough for me to realize I didn’t have my actual headlights on. What threw me off was it looked like they came on automatically because the dashboard lit up a little differently when I got dusk but it didn’t look like any lights were on the outside so then I flipped the switch and saw a slight change on my dash and what I thought were lights on the car but then, like I said, it was only my parking lights!  Oops! Oh well I eventually figured it out.

The mirrors on the side are very nice, they are a good size, and the driver side has a little mirror insert in the upper left hand corner so you can see the road from two different perspectives.

The gauge lighting is nice, you have a clear indication of your fuel, you can toggle between your trip Miles, your miles per gallon, how many miles to empty, what your average rate of speed is, and how long you have been on this trip. It was easy to reset each one of them when I  started my trip. As I am a huge fan of the color blue, I was happy to see that most of the lights on the dash were a nice navy blue tone. Accented with white or a lighter shade of blue depending on which one you were looking at.

The steering wheel has a nice assortment of gauges on it including your cruise control your emotions to go between the different styles of driving, your trip information and you can quickly reset it from your steering well. I was surprised to not see any radio controls on the steering wheel, not sure if that is an option that can be added on different models or not.  The one thing I found weird though was that the controls were all on one side, so when you’re driving at night, it just didn’t look symmetrical.  If you have a case of OCD, I’m sure it would annoy you a little!

It has a sunglass holder up near the roof along with nice lights that are easily accessible and easy to turn on for the interior, I know they’re easy to turn on because Bella‘s big head turned them on more than once when she decided to walk around a little bit and try to move to the front seat!  I said try, because she wasn’t successful, but she did hit the light!

You have a 12 V plug along with a USB plug and in auxiliary plug all at your fingertips. The USB plug is a very nice touch. There is a small area to the right of the plug to put a few things. I put my Bolle` sunglass case in it though and it pretty much filled up the area, so it isn’t very big. The center armrest also opens up for additional storage, but I don’t like to put things in there for a rental car because I don’t want to forget them.  There is another 12v plug just off to the right so a passenger could also plug something in.  I forgot to look to see if any were in the back seat or not.

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

All in all, even with being uncomfortable seats, for a rental car on a long trip I would definitely choose it again if given the option because I loved the gas mileage and how little I spent on gas for the trip. I just need to either lose weight, or make sure I’m wearing jeans the next time! LOL

Both Zipper and Bella were able to fit their head out of the same window when we were closer to home!

Hertz, travel

Bella and Zipper sticking their head out of the rental car Hyundai Elantra

Hertz, Hyundai, Elantra, Travel

Bella and Zipper happy to be home after 15 hours in a car. You can see the water cooler on the floor behind them.

Would I purchase the car?  No, it would be too uncomfortable for me long term, but for one or two people (or skinny people) renting a car, it might be a good choice.

I hope this review helps you! Share your comments and thoughts if you have this car or have driven one?

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Whipped Chocolate Decadence Dessert -HaliPawz

For the last three or four years, my mom had made a dessert to take out to her cousin’s house for the 4th of July. I think it’s one that has been passed around for years with a bunch of different names.  She always used the recipe in a family cookbook where different members submitted different recipes.  Over the years, I’ve made a couple changes to it to suit MY taste.  Sadly, my mom couldn’t join us for the 4th because she is going out of town with different family members later in the week, but I’m still heading out and I decided to still make this dessert to take, along with my pasta salad I shared previously.

I don’t know the original name of the dessert, so I named it what it is to ME with the changes I have made!

All I know is…it’s pretty simple to make and not that expensive. Win win for me!

Let’s start with the CRUST

Ingredients

1 Cup Flour

1/2 cup pecans finely chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter

Pre-Heat the oven to 350

Set the butter out to let it get to room temperature. In a bowl, mix the ingredients well. It will be crumbly.

Grab a pan….I use a half sheet disposable pan so I don’t have to worry about collecting a pan at the end of the night.  You can use any 9″x13″ pan though.

Pat the mixture down into the bottom of the pan well making sure to cover the entire bottom. I’m not the neatest baker, so I try to be specific for others like me!

Place the pan in the oven for 15 min. If you know your oven takes a little longer, try 17 min.

Take the pan out and let it cool completely.

Or…for a laugh, you can watch my video explaining the crust! LOL

Pecan Dessert Crust

Ingredients for the filling (the good stuff!)

First Layer:

1 package 8oz Cream Cheese.

1 cup powdered / confectioners sugar.  (May also be called 10X sugar depending on where you live)

1 1/4 cup Cool Whip (I buy an 8 oz container and it works perfectly)

Now, the baking for dummies side note….the cream cheese needs to be at room temperature (left out) and the Cool Whip needs to be thawed completely but left in the refrigerator.  Funny story, I tried to make this once and only the top was thawed.  Ended up being a mess and I had to keep stirring it to thaw it! Took forever!

Beat the Cream Cheese and powdered sugar together.  Then slowly add the Cool Whip. It should be nice, light, and somewhat fluffy.  Spread it over the cooled crust evenly.

First Layer: Cream Cheese & Cool Whip

Now, because I’m not a quick baker and I’m convinced these few minutes make a difference (yes, I know it probably doesn’t) I put the pan in the refrigerator while I’m mixing the second layer. Ok, really I have to take the time to wash the mixing bowl and measuring cups because I don’t have a lot of them! 😊

Second Layer:

2 packages Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding. (Rumor is you can do any flavor, but I never have.  You could try Butterscotch, Lemon, Pistachio….any flavor you would like in a cool treat)

3 cups milk

Another funny story….make sure it is INSTANT pudding.  Yes, I made that mistake.  To the expert bakers who are still reading this, I’m sure you’re laughing at me.  To the non-bakers, don’t worry about it, just make sure it’s INSTANT! Trust me!

Beat the two ingredients together. It will thicken, takes about 2+ minutes. Then carefully spread over the first layer, being careful to try not to mix them.  Not that it really matters, I’m sure it wouldn’t affect the taste, but just don’t do it! 🙂

Second Layer: You can see the thickness on the spatula

2nd Layer:  Instant Pudding and Milk

2nd Layer: Instant Pudding and Milk

Once you have the second layer done, you’re ready for the third layer, it’s pretty difficult, but you can handle it….

Spread the remainder of the Cool Whip over the second layer.  That’s it. Super simple.

I like to sprinkle pecan pieces over the top to make it pretty but also to make it clear there are nuts in it.  You can also put chocolate shavings on it. If you do lemon pudding, you could do something lemony, to indicate what flavor it is.

Whipped Chocolate Decadence Dessert with Pecan Topping

Whipped Chocolate Decadence Dessert with Pecan Topping

When done with the top, put a lid on it (another reason I use the disposable pan, so I can cover it with the lid and write on it with a permanent marker!)
Place in the refrigerator until time to serve.

Make sure you use a serving utensil that will cut through the crust.  If you don’t, people tend to “scoop” it out and miss the crust. If you use a disposable pan and pre-cut it, be careful not to cut right through the pan. It has happened!

I use disposable utensils as well.  If I get them back, great. If not, no big deal.  I get the pans, lids, and utensils from Sam’s Club.

When it’s time to serve, make sure you are close to the front because it goes quickly and you want to eat some!

Enjoy!

Example of a prepared dish to pass….My Pasta Salad ready to take complete with serving spoon taped to lid

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Can Glucosamine and Chondroitin help the severly arthritic? – HaliPawz

Sam's Club

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my mom has been down visiting me for a while again this summer.  Being a writer, my schedule is a little more flexible than my siblings and I try to make sure she has a good time while she is down here.  My mom has suffered from arthritis for as long as I can remember.  Of course, as she has aged, it has become worse.  She now walks with the assistance of a walker, a motorized scooter for long distances, and is in pain almost all of the time.  As a daughter, I hate knowing she is in pain.  I am always trying to research ways to improve her life and minimize some of the pain.  At the stage she is in, most things I read says there is nothing to help her other than pain management.  There were some studies that showed medical marijuana might help, but she was not willing to even consider that and I don’t think my siblings were too keen on her trying it, so I kept moving.

Back in 2013, I started working with a new trainer for my horse and Luke would have “clicking” sounds when he worked.  My trainer said I should put him on Glucosamine and Chondroitin and see if it helped.  Within a month, the clicking was gone.  Of course, some say it was because I was working him on a regular basis so he was stronger, minimizing the clicking.  I believe it had something to do with the Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

Because I had hurt my knee when I was younger, I decided to try the supplement for myself after seeing it work with Luke.  I’m not great at taking medication, I often forget, but I did notice my knee didn’t hurt as bad when I remembered to take them.  I purchased them at Sam’s Club because they had an Instant Savings on them and I have the Plus membership, so I saved more money at that time.  I liked their Simply Right brand because it didn’t contain a lot of the fillers, just the glucosomine and chondroitin along with vanilla flavoring to make it easier to swallow.

Sam's Club

Fact Sheet Simply Right Glucosamine Chondroitin

Fast forward to earlier this year, my 4 year old Neapolitan Mastiff, Bella, was stiff every night after a fun afternoon at the dog park.  Don’t let her age fool you, she can run with the 1-3 year old dogs and hold her own.  She loves to play.  I didn’t want to take that away from her but hated to see her in pain at night.  I decided to try some Glucosamine and Chondroitin for her as well.  I ended up changing her food to a dog food with it built right into the food.  For more information on that, feel free to check out an earlier blog.  I also learned turkey neck bones have a lot of natural Glucosamine and Chondroitin in them and are good for dogs to chew on, but because I have another dog at home with food aggression, it was not an option.  I had purchased some dog treats with Glucosamine and Chondroitin built into them and it seemed Bella did even better when she had just a little more in her than what her food provided.  The treats were expensive though, so I hit the internet trying to find out if I could give her pills safe for humans.  It appears that, as long as you don’t use the ones with additional fillers and by products in them, they are safe for dogs.

Week 1 – We are at the first week.  While I told her she had to try it for a full three weeks before we would determine if it is helping her at all or not, I still wanted to see if she had noticed any changes as all.  It has been an extremely rainy time down here.  I think it has rained almost every day.  She said she noticed her hands haven’t been sore or swollen feeling.  This is pretty huge because she has actually talked to her doctor about her hands they would hurt so much the day before it rained.  He prescribed her some ultraced  to help with the pain and she hasn’t had to take one all week.  It’s too soon to tell if it’s due to the Glucosamine and Chondroitin or just due to the fact she is in a different climate and more hydrated than she is at home.  I don’t think she drinks enough water when she’s home alone, I make sure she has something to drink all day.

Week 2 – So, here it is, a full two weeks into my trial period and I ask my mom how she’s feeling.  So far, her hands have only hurt her one night out of the full two weeks and it has rained almost every day here.  I asked her how her shoulders were feeling and she said they don’t hurt, but they don’t normally hurt.  I was surprised by this comment because she is always complaining her shoulders hurt!  She has had surgery in them and has very little ability to reach over her head now.  I noticed she was reaching for a glass in one of my cupboards because I forgot to leave one down in the dish strainer for her.  I asked her if it hurt for her to do that. She paused and checked both shoulders and said no, it didn’t hurt when she reached up!  I thought that was a good sign.

We will finish the full three weeks and get final thoughts.

Week 3 – A full three weeks of the Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Not a lot of difference between week 2 and week 3.  Her biggest surprise is her hands.  She said they just don’t hurt.  I waited a couple weeks before finalizing this to ask her and she has decided to continue taking them.  Her biggest complaint is the size of the pills.  They are pretty big.  Is it a HUGE difference, and miracles happened?  No, but I know her hands have led her to take pain pills before, so if we can eliminate even that pain, to her, it appears to be worth it.

As I said, I know it has helped me personally with my knees when I take it every day.  If I start missing a few days, then it seems like it takes days for it to start working again.

My suggestion is, try it for three to four weeks.  See if you notice anything different.  You’re only out the cost of one bottle, but if they do work, the price is worth it!

Let me know about your experiences with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, I would love to hear other opinions, both good and bad.

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Quality Inn and Suites, Bloomington, IL – HaliPawz

As mom’s summer adventure with me draws to an end, we begin the fun task of getting her back to Michigan.  While it is only a 13 hour drive, I have learned it is better for her to stop half way to rest then it is to try to make it the whole way if we leave later in the day.  She had an appointment at 9:30 am on the day we were heading out, so I knew we would not get out until the late morning / early afternoon.  We ended up staying the night in the Quality Inn & Suites in Bloomington, Illinois.

Bloomington, Illinois is about half way so it is a good place to stop. As I have mentioned before, LaQuinta tends to be my first “GoTo” hotel. The LQ in Bloomington has disappointed me personally once before and then, on the trip down, we were reminded how horrible they are from an ADA (American’s with Disabilities) standpoint if you choose to stay in a non ADA room.  My biggest complaint with most hotel chains is they do not have ADA rooms with two beds. So any parent traveling with a child who may need this have to “throw a cot” in there or, as in my case, two adults traveling together have to pay for two rooms or if we want to save money and share a room, mom doesn’t get the benefits of the ADA facilities.  It’s fine for one night, but if it was more than one, we would probably have to go with a more expensive hotel chain or get two rooms.  I have written LaQuinta about this and was assured they were working to correct it and every location would have at least one ADA room with a roll in shower and two beds by the end of the year (two years ago) so clearly that has not happened.  Back to my dilemma for THIS trip….I needed a dog friendly hotel my mom could use.  The LaQuinta in Bloomington was out because their non-ADA rooms have a weird bathroom layout where the toilet is in a corner.  You can’t get the walker in there and the toilets themselves are extremely low.  She had difficulty getting up and without the walker to help or handles, it is horrible for her! I don’t understand WHY hotels continue to use the low toilets.  If they would just put ADA height toilets in every room, it would be easier.  I went through and switched all of mine to ADA height, even the ones my mom won’t use.  I love them!

But again, back to the review on THIS hotel……We ended up here because they advertised their dog friendly rooms and when I called, they had an ADA room with two queen size beds.  Worked for us.  I broke the review down into sections to make it easier for the ADA traveler, the Pet Traveler, the every day traveler, etc.

Rooms:

Our room was pretty spacious and I don’t think it was just because of the ADA portion. It seems like they would all be similar.  Sometimes in hotels in this price point and older styles, the rooms are a little cramped.  Not the case.  The rooms were clean, well laid out with the two beds, a desk, refrigerator, dresser, and a chair.  While the room was clean, I can’t say they are well maintained everywhere.  The dresser had two broken handles.  It had an older feel to it, except the shower! The shower looked like it had been renovated and were featuring Quality Inn’s “Q Shower” which includes a nicer shower head with multiple spray settings, premium bath amenities, curved shower rod for extra room, and a shower curtain with a sheer window for extra light.  The shower itself had a nice granite look to it.  You could tell it had recently been changed. I will address the ADA standpoints in a separate section towards the bottom of the post.

Q Shower at Quality Inn & Suites Bloomington, Illinois

Q Shower at Quality Inn & Suites Bloomington, Illinois


Q Shower Amenities


Breakfast:

The breakfast was pretty impressive for a hotel in this price point.

Three types of eggs; scrambled, hard boiled, and over easy (round to fit on a biscuit or muffin)

Waffles: Original and Blueberry. I would have preferred the spray to keep them from sticking, but not bad. Syrup was on every table. I appreciate little touches like that.

Biscuits and gravy (my mom, who is somewhat easy to please said they were so/so)

Fresh donuts

Bread, biscuits, bagels, and muffins

3 different types Cereal

Apples

Yogurt

Orange, Apple, and Cranberry Juice

Water

Skim milk & 2% milk

Plenty of peanut butter, cream cheese, jellies, and honey

Fitness Room:

They converted a room into a fitness room.  It has three pieces of equipment. Enough for you to get a decent workout in but nothing extensive. To be fair, I looked at it to comment, but I did not use it.

Swimming Pool:

It is an outdoor pool. I didn’t swim this trip, but saw others swimming. It looked clean, decent size.

A nice touch is it has a chair lift so anyone needing assistance into the pool would be able to utilize it with minimal effort.  Again, a surprise to see for the price point. Good ADA points there!  

Staff

The staff I encountered appeared pleasant, the associate working in the breakfast area was very nice. Asked if we needed anything more than once. A touch you don’t expect, but appreciate.  The night manager, Kevin, was great about helping me get the online rate even though I had to book the ADA room over the phone because the ADA room was not an option on the Choice Hotel app.  When I checked in, he hand crossed out the rate and wrote in the correct rate, the one he agreed to over the phone.  He wasn’t going to give me a copy of it at first but I insisted.  Without it, it would have been my word against his about the rate.  I am glad I did because sure enough, when I went to check out, they had charged me the higher rate!  I brought it to their attention and the two young men working the desk at the checkout had a heck of a time fixing it because they had already checked me out of the hotel.  They were extremely nice and worked diligently to get it fixed without making me feel like I was being a pain.  It was about a $20 difference.  They finally figured out how to get it corrected and were friendly and apologetic throughout the whole ordeal.  I had no problem waiting because their attitudes were GREAT! Even the staff I passed in the halls with the dogs were smiling and friendly.

Pet Friendly


Bella enjoying the comforts of the Quality Inn & Suites

They advertised themselves as being pet friendly.  Referenced their “pet friendly rooms” and they had a sticker on the door telling you to rate them on Bring Fido.  I think this set the bar high for me as to their pet friendly qualities.  As I mentioned, the room was pretty spacious, so it allowed the dogs ample room to play.  I was happy about that.  They needed to release some energy. When I took them out is when I had areas of concern.  The first is, NO TRASH CANS at the doors!  As a responsible pet owner, I pick up my dogs poop.  Everyone should if they travel with their dog(s)!  Other owners don’t want to walk in it.  I walked almost all the way around and saw one trash can at an entrance besides the main entrance.  There really needs to be more.  The next problem is the limited space to actually walk the dog(s).  There is very little grass around the hotel and where it was, it was extremely drenched, tore up with some tire marks, making it muddy.  My dog Zipper will poop or pee anywhere so he went on the rocks around a tree near the entrance by our door, but Bella is a little more selective and has to have just the right spot.  She didn’t even go to the bathroom the morning we were leaving.  She waited until we arrived at a rest stop and then went.  I know they can’t do a lot about the grass because of their layout, but they really need to add more trash cans!

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois

Zipper doing the “terrier roll” within minutes of getting into our room

ADA 

This is the ONE area this hotel is severely lacking.  They get the bonus points for having an ADA room with two beds, but that room doesn’t have a roll in shower.  That isn’t my real complaint though.  My complaint is that they slapped some side bars on a low toilet and some handrails and called the room ADA.  The toilet WAS NOT ADA height, so it was still difficult for my mom to get up and down on.  In addition, the bars were just tucked up UNDER the seat, not permanently attached.  My mom was starting to get up and the bar slipped out from the seat and lost support.  She could have gone down and been severely hurt!  They were constantly slipping out.  Another thing is that it narrows the width of the seat.  It didn’t affect my mom, but as I openly admit, I am not a small woman, so I felt like I was being wedged between the bars when I went to use the bathroom.  Another problem is there were NO towel bars or hooks within reach of the shower.  The towels were over the toilet so it was impossible to reach from the shower.  The other hook was on the back of the door, again, impossible to reach from the shower for ANY person. An ADA person would never be able to reach it easily.  I know those with disabilities are used to adapting to make things work, but it was disappointing the lack of attention the hotel gave this room.  They did the bare minimum to call it an ADA room

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois

Toilet seat in room with just bars hooked under the toilet seat. You can see the shower chair in the bottom right

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois Not ADA

You can see the distance between the shower and the towels with no bars, hooks, etc

The “bar” just slips out very easily. It just tucks up under the seat with nothing holding it there.

As I mentioned with the swimming pool, they do have an ADA chair lift to swim with though. I just wish they would take a look at their rooms and update them just a little more when it comes to being ADA standards.

OVERALL

If you are looking for a reasonably priced room in Bloomington with a great breakfast and a welcoming staff, I would recommend this location.

Traveling with pets?  Again, a nice place to stay, just be prepared to throw your pet’s poop away in your room or take a hike around the hotel!

Need a good ADA room?  I would have to recommend skipping this hotel.  I just don’t think they are where they need to be yet.  Hopefully they will take the steps to improve this over time and if we visit again, I will update this post if they do make changes.  Since we stop near Bloomington whenever I bring mom back and forth between Michigan and Missouri, I am sure I will have another chance at some point.

It might not be the fanciest place to stay in Bloomington, but when you’re saving your pennies and you appreciate the Choice Hotel line, this is one to consider!

Have you stayed here before?  Do you travel with your pets?  Leave your comments below!
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