Can’t Talk Right Now.

March 24, 2017.

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Last Thursday as all the frozen pipes and stuff were kicking into high challenge-me gear, I caught a cold (surprise) and it developed into laryngitis.  So I haven’t had a voice for six days.  Yeh, this rocks, people.  Somehow I managed to rasp out requests on the ‘phone:  I booked two medical appts and a hairdresser appt.  I even booked the car in for an oil change.  Plus dealing with the RV issues.  Think Demi Moore with a bad cold.

I am finding that if you have laryngitis you get faster service (nobody wants to hear that squeaking voice) so I’m sharing this with you because if you need an appointment and you screech out a request, you get in waaaay faster. People are generally kind-hearted and want to help. Especially if you’re squawking like a choking duck caught in a trap. Or else they’re grasping their throat and thinking, OMG, there but for the grace of God go I.

My RV Mobile guys were away for the weekend, out of range for telephone support. Last Monday, when they returned into a service area, they called me and figured out the valves and, after a few minutes in a totally original turn-on-my-head yoga position, we now we have a fabulously hot furnace and an uber scorching unending supply of hot water.  So I no longer have to shower in the bath house with farrreeezing cold tiles and sticky taps.

Last Sunday, Oscar and I were invited for a bbq at The Newmann’s, a wonderful Texas family we have all became friends with during the past year.  They too are far away from their home, but they make us feel like we’re totally at home.  We shared a special afternoon and evening together, and we’ll keep in touch.

I love the songbirds who flock around us here.  On our walk back to our motor home one night at sunset, a flock of Bluebirds flew directly overhead between us and Hula Girl, stopping on my fave nearby shrub to chirp and announce their arrival.  This is a good Omen: The Bluebirds of Happiness are watching over us and chirping to make it known they are here.

Thanks to Oscar and a dozen towels and a coupla beers and the blessings of the flock of jubiliant bluebirds, my floor has never been more spotless and I am working on looking forward to the upcoming changes:  bidding our farewells to NC and these wonderful people who have become friends and family, traveling on our trip back to Maine ….

As the season changes and we are all welcoming Spring, these are very positive signs.  Happy Spring, everyone!

#RVLife, #glamping, #de-winterizing your RV, #travelingwithaGreatDanedog,#freezingmyassoff

The House Hunt and The Hearth.

March 24, 2017.

We’re looking for a small house/cottage that we could use as a Winter home here in Asheville so I’ve been seriously on the hunt. We are blessed to have K, a neighbor who is a friend and recently became a realtor and is totally amazing.  Like, blow your socks off efficient and enthusiastic.  Every day we receive an e.mail from her early a.m. with properties just listed.  Here, it is such a buyer’s market, places sell for asking price or beyond within hours of listing.  I kid you not.  Prices are crazy.

I’ve/we’ve done a lot of drive-bys and checked out some very nice places that could possibly work for us but they weren’t exactly what we want.  All we need is a small house with a yard for Zuma, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a kitchen big enough to swing a cat in (if a room was too small my mother would say “Not enough room to swing a cat in”).  I know.  That’s twisted.  No further comments. Shaking head.  Old British saying.

Okay, so pulleeeze don’t get all judgy about Asheville because this is NOT the norm (these photos), this is the extreme.  It’s a seller’s market here and this lovely little gem came on the market and had to be seen.

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Excellent location, adorable 1925 Grannie’s style house, curbside appeal, fenced yard for the dawg in one area and a double lot. I perused the back yard first and said, yeh, I can do this.  It was completely overgrown with a dilapidated building crumbling in a corner but it could be done.

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It said in the ad “Needs work”.  The large dog run/yard near the house was intact, so that was a bonus (no pix).  Thinking positively.

K, who had just gone through the house for the first time, walked out to the back yard looking rather pale and said, “You haven’t seen the inside yet”.

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*Pause.  Viewer Discretion Is Advised.*.

Okay, I’m gonna let the pix do the talking.
This house is at the top end of our budget and I chose to check it out because it’s in a fantastic historic neighborhood ….

This is the back deck.  A tree fell on it.  Clearly the house has been abandoned.  It’s being sold by the inheritors.  Poor little house.

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This is the kitchen.  We quickly realized this darling little house has been inhabited by squatters.  Note the baseball bat and WHAT is that spatter on the cupboards, gaaaaaag.  It looks like a crime scene from Forensic Files.
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There’s a wee problem with the foundation in one corner.
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Ooh, it’s bigger than wee.

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If you wanna keep the squatters from squatting and make your home more saleable, simply relocate the toilet to the dining room.
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Or, clean your bathroom.
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At the center of the house there is a wood stove and a hearth.
I stood there for a minute and thought of past squeals of glee as Christmas stockings were opened, cold hands and feet warmed, toasts shared.  This house is a story unto itself.  Amazingly, the hearth was the cleanest, most untouched part of the house.  It was as if it was respected by whomever trashed the rest of the old home. The hearth is the center of the home, they say.  Who opened their stockings here?  The inheritors?
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I can pick up a vibe from a house and this little place is begging for help.  Sadly, it will likely be torn down because it’s been neglected for too long and the land is valuable to developers.
Feeling pretty deflated, I went home and had a really really long shower.  The search continues.
“Needs work”.  That’s a stretch.

I met this lady ….

March 23, 2017.

So, yesterday, I was trying to mail a parcel to my cousin in Wales, UK and I am totally surprised that the P.O. is a well-kept secret here.  After an hour of driving around frothing at the bit, I still had the parcel in my grips because I went to three grocery stores with ‘Post Offices’ and they all were somewhat aghast when I asked to send a small parcel to Wales.  Can’t do that. We only sell stamps. They even took a step back, called for the Manager.  I was feeling all criminal like I was shipping crack to the UK and OMG, where is my passport?

So, after stirring it up at three grocery store ‘Postal Offices’, Zuma and I drove to the MAIN P.O. and it’s all government-secure with threatening signs and stuff.  Ignoring the ‘We will fine you and you’ll go to jail for 530 years if you’re in here’ signs, I parked the car.  I just wanna mail this brochure, man.  Zuma thinks this gangstah style method of mailing a pamphlet overseas is cool.  She even stood up and turned around in the back of the car when I was getting all edgy about why did everyone tell me I could mail this parcel HERE?  So I jumped out of the car and started sniffing around for an entrance.

It says on the signs this is The Freaking Post Office. Everyone told us that this is the Post Office.  Then I parked and the doors were all locked and required a password.  Whaaat? I have to get a password to buy a stamp?  Turned out this is the shipping center for Post Offices.  Duh, Sonia.  You believe everyone.

After all, who sends packages except at Christmas?  And then it’s easier to send gift cards.  Because, ya’ll, we’re all so wrapped up with e.mail and social media we don’t SEND postcards or parcels (well, I still do, because I’m …. um …. not quite right old-fashioned).

Anyway, I was skulking around the Post Office parking lot like a hobo-terrorist with my little package under my arm when I saw a woman who clearly is a postal employee.  I approached her and inquired where to go to mail said package and then … I realized she had a fresh wad of chewing tobacco stuffed into her right cheek. This was a SERIOUS HONKIN’ CHUNK of chewing tobacco folks.  Think small baseball.  Okay, that’s cool, whatever.  If that’s the trip you’re on, I’m fine with that.  Until the brown drool started to slowly spill out down her chin as she talked and I had a rather challenging extremely difficult time focusing on what she said.  In fact, I have absolutely no freaking idea what she said.  I couldn’t stop looking at the drool river trickling down her chin (like, “Don’t you even FEEL that?!”).  No apologies, she was into her tobacco buzz stage.  Didn’t even wipe her chin.  She slurpingly directed me to another (far away) part of town to a postal service.  I’m not being all judgy, but, Jayzus, there’s something you don’t see every day.

I just stuck a sh** ton of stamps on the package and mailed it from the RV Park.

I guess I’ve led a sheltered life.  I need to get out more.

Bad Camper Karma.

March 21, 2017.

Yeh, so, last week we had record low temps here in NC and oh lucky me, the furnace quit on the coldest night for some unknown reason.

People we’ve met along the way have sighed when they hear that we’re trying to knock stuff off our Bucket List, explore the country. “I envy you”, they say.  Well, it’s not all glam when you’re camping/glamping (glamorous camping in a motorhome).  Clearly, they haven’t spent the coldest night of a mountain NC Winter ‘cuz we damn near froze our butts off for two nights before we got the furnace rockin’.  We had many invitations to stay with friends but seriously, it’s kinduv an imposition to have a 145 lb Great Dane couch-surfing in your house.  “Step away from the dog.  Don’t talk to Zuma, her tail will wag and will clear every countertop”.  Man, you really find out who your friends are and EVERY ONE of our friends have been so super hospitable, inviting us to stay at their place …. but Zuma and I toughed it out, we felt it wiser to stick it out rather than have her happy tail wreck people’s homes.  So, we got our pioneer women big girl panties on and bundled up with a mound of puffy comforters and I locked on 2 pairs of fluffy socks and all the clothes I could fit into in layers and waited for the RV Mobile Repair Unit to come because, despite our best efforts, my friend and neighbor Oscar tried, but, alas, still no heat. Gaaagh.  We need PARTS.

So, the RV Repair guys came and they were AMAZING.  To make a long story seem like it will never end short, the guys got the furnace working and also the hot water.  I’ve been roughing it with cold water only because I could not figure out the hot water (it turns out it was all about winterizing the camper but nobody told me of all the shite I would have to endure to get back to normal. No fault of the camper, we’re just novices but I’m feeling pretty savvy now.  The camper was winterized and there are more valves and twisty turny knobs to adjust than my simple brain can handle. Oscar read the manual and we agreed we had it figured out one night but …. the hot water would only run for 30 seconds.  I am all about conserving water and saving the planet but a 30 second shower?  Seriously, that’s kinduv a challenge, ya’ll.

The Mobile Repair guys were super about supporting me on the ‘phone after they replaced the entire guts of the furnace.  After a couple of consultations Zuma and I were toasty warm and feeling pretty cozy.

HOWEVER, the night the furnace was repaired, we heard on the weather report that it was going to be blaaawdy cold so they advised “keep your taps running to prevent them from freezing ” so I did.  Because I believe everything the weather guys say.  Because they have their freaking snowflake sweaters on.  They’re not foolin’ around, America.  That’s when I woke up at 11:00 p.m. to the sound of gurgling water.  Gurgling?!  I leapt out of bed and yowzers, my feet were spongey WET!  When I turned on the lights I saw a sea of water trickling at great speed across the floor of Hula Girl. The noise I heard was WATER trickling down the steps.  OMG! Instant panic.

In my leaping mode, I saw that the floor was FLOODING and I had no idea of its origin.  Long story short, I used every towel, my coats and every piece of potentially absorbment material to mop up the mess.  It was a Lucille Ball moment.  I was laughing my arse off.  But it wasn’t funny.  I was just thinking about how hard I’d laff my arse off afterwards.

As the water-logged material became saturated, I turfed everything outside our door onto the lawn.  I hope the neighbors weren’t thinking, OMG, there goes that Maine woman again, chucking stuff out the door like trailer trash.  Thankfully, my neighbors are very cool and friendly and totally get it.

After about ten minutes of bend-over middle-of-the-night mop the floor panic, I finally realized I NEED HELP.  WTF is going on and why is there water flowing through the camper and where is it coming from and will I be mopping the floor for the next 12 hours?? I chucked the soppiest towels out the door and realized ‘this is bigger than me’ as the water continued to flow under my feet and I couldn’t locate the source.  Zuma took one empathetic look around and, despising puddles and water discomfort of any kind, she instantly retired to the higher level of our bed with a disgruntled snort.  No way was she getting her feet wet.

I am like, so outta here.

Oscar, who is a rock star about helping me, had said “Anytime you need help, just call me.  Any time”.  Well, I don’t like to ask for help but Oscar is so sweet (he’s happily married and in the Air Force) and I was really feeling like I was in over my head with this whole bad camper karma thing. So, around 11:15 p.m. I knocked on his door and apologetically said, “I have a problem.  My camper is flooding”.  He immediately sprang into action and raced over to bail out the damsel in distress.  Seriously, I needed help.

So, longer story shorter, we figured out that the water valve was partially frozen shut and the tank was filling up and, with nowhere else to go it was overflowing; water was building up and coming out the shower stall which was spewing clear tap water all over (because I had taps running to prevent a frozen pipes scenario). Oscar opened the valve and we mopped up the mess.  I was going to wash the floor anyway, lol. Zuma watched in big dog fascination.

After we figured out the problem, I asked Oscar, “Wanna beer?” and so we sat and had a brew and sighed.  It all dried up and no damage was done.  Except I had a load of frozen laundry on the lawn the next day but I got through it.  Sigh.  Trailer Trash.  Thaw frozen towels in our shower stall, mop up droplets, swear like my Dad did when our old car broke down, it’s all good.  Sometimes nothing like a REALLY GOOD EFFECTIVE swear word works.

The Joys of Winter Glamping.

March 15, 2017.

It’s been blowin’ a hoolie here for a few days off and on.
What, you inquire, is ‘blowin’ a hoolie’?  Well, I looked it up. Because it’s a real thing.  A hoolie is basically a gale (linguistically of Irish and Scottish descent). You’re welcome.  I’ve only ever heard of hoolies in Canada and nobody south of the border had apparently ever heard it before I mentionitised it but suddenly it’s an international term, ya’ll.  If you read it on the internet, it’s gotta be true.

So, we’re watching the Weather Channel and all the broadcasters have their snowflake sweaters on and are huddled around fake fireplaces cuddling mugs of cocoa and they are totally freaking right OUT.  They’ve got their snowflake sweaters on so this must be really really serious.  Right now, they’re really in overdrive because 12 – 18″ is expected in the northeast today.

And, fellow weather forecast followers, it’s freaking cold here in North Carolina.  Record Low temps.  Yeh, like 10 degrees colder than in Maine and it seemed I ran out of propane in the middle of the night and I wasn’t going to get all pioneer woman and head out there in the dark to trouble shoot.  So, feeling all smug and resourceful (and starting to lose the feeling in my extremites at an alarming rate), I dug out the big back up electric heater and, much to my surprise, it swiftly started poofing out massive billows of smoke.  Lovely.  I had to wrestle it out the door all Mary Tyler-Moore style and chuck it out on the lawn like when she turfs some pork chops in her grocery cart.  I’m thankful my neighbors weren’t home at the time and didn’t see me gettin’ all gangstah-style with the heater.  Then the water froze overnight.  My friend and neighbor is coming over after work to bail me out.  I’d go to a hotel but I can’t find one that will take Zuma.

The systems were adjusted when we had it winterized.  Waiting for a call back from the Mobile Repair Servce.  Needless to say, I’d like to be writing a really upbeat blog this morning, but …. It’s been kinduv a shite week.

Oh, The Joys of Winter Glamping.

More Random Dog Thoughts ….

March 9, 2017.
I didn’t sign anything stating I’d share the hotel bed
with either of you so just bugger off
and shut the lights out when you leave.
And please leave the tv on Animal Planet.
OMG. Where have you been all my life?
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Regrets?  I’ve had a few ….
Did you ask the cats about the chewed couch cushions
‘cuz I think they had something to do with it.
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Chillin’ with my lady person.
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Take me to the river …. lead me to the water ….
When I grow up I just wanna be little.
My head is bigger than this puppy.
Kids and little puppies Rock.
Putting on this cooling vest is making me
AND my man person/personal assistant/staff sweat.
I’m being ultra uncooperative so we’ll both be steamily hot as hell once he wrestles me into this stupid thing.
My lady person is making wierd noises as she snaps this shot
and mentioning needing a bathroom.
This vest is ultra cool on a hot day, though.
So I’ll just shaddup about twirling myself into it and twirling my personal assistants into purchasing new pants
and keep on keepin’ cool.
This snazzy new collar is sure to make me stand out in a crowd, don’tchathink?
I have a whole wardrobe, you know.
Ths is my BFF Alis.
Playmate.  Confidante.  Heart of Gold.
She is open and honest, she can keep a secret.  She likes to take me exploring and she always has my back.
I luvvvv Alis (Aurora Borealis, officially).
#randomdogthoughts, #travelswithagreatdanedog, #greatdanebffs

A Pig in a Park

February 27, 2017.

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Yeh, so, Great Danes were originally bred in Germany to hunt boar (and deer).  However, it appears that Zuma is lacking a few genes  in that department.  We met this porcine pal at the Park yesterday morning and Zuma only wanted to meet Mr. Pig and hang out with him and share a lovely sunny Sunday morning together and  vice versa. You’ve heard of a pig in a poke? well, this was a pig in a park!  Please pardon me for being a hopeless romantic, but doesn’t this just show we can ALL get along in this world, even during these troubled times?

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They met, sniffed noses and were immediate buddies.  Sheesh, if you think traveling with a Great Dane is not a crowd magnet, try walking a pig in a park.  The combination quickly attracted a crowd and many selfies were taken.  These two didn’t care about the pig paparazzi, they were totally into each other.  Mr. Pig is one cool and well-socialized hog, a fine ambassador for all porcines. After meeting him, a woman sadly exclaimed, “I don’t think I’ll ever eat bacon again”.  This made me smile.  It also made me toss out the bacon in the fridge.

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Mr. Pig is “just a pig” his owners told me; he’s not a pampered pot-bellied pet, he’s a real PIG.  Housetrained and leash-trained, he is adored by his owners and regularly exercised; he gobbles up all the attention offered to him.  No ego, just a cool animal living a good life, doing his pig thing.  In a High Life kinda style. He really enjoyed his morning romp yesterday and we hope we’ll meet him and his fun family again.

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February 26, 2017.

Everywhere we go, we see homeless people.  I guess it’s because we’re mainly in the South and it’s warmer here.  One evening, walking downtown, we saw two 50-ish aged men haaappily bundling up with their flimsy sleeping bags in a downtown shop’s alcove. Wearing woollen hats and gloves, they were jiggly and jovial, chatting with passers-by merrily as they hunkered down on a cold tile entrance way, utilizing their backpacks as pillows.  Yah. It was cold, ya’ll.  #Tilemattress,#January,#freezingmyassoff.

Throughout our travels on this trip, we’ve seen temporary encampments, tents and tarps swinging from makeshift roadside camps alongside highway intersections; I saw a woman sleeping on the curb on a cold January night, people nestled into blankets on park benches, a woman slumped over a coffee in a Starbucks having a long, long, deep nap.

Nobody seems to bother with these people, these travelers following a trail that never ends.  But they don’t worry about the trail ending.  Their needs are immediate:  Coffee (or other preferred stimulants), tobacco (or other preferred stimulants/calmer-downers), food, shelter.  They don’t look far ahead.  They wait calmly for each day to deliver each day to them.

They are the ghosts of society.
Don’t look.Don’t tell.Didn’t happen.
Oftentimes, the Police drive by and don’t seem pretend not to notice.  This is the pattern in all the cities we have visited.
I regulary talk with the homeless, they are a blend of folks who are all struggling in one way or another, but they are unique people. They are from all walks of life, they have university degrees, they are artists, they have a lot to offer to our world but they’re so pre-judged because of their nomadic lifestyle that they’ve just basically given up on the entrapments of society.

The main thing I’ve gleaned from the Homeless (who are always pleased to share a conversation and meet Zuma) is that yes, there are shelters and hostels nearby but many will not stay at these places, because 1) “They won’t take my dog” and 2) “I don’t stay in shelters; it’s the people there, too many thieves”.  There are options but they’re opting out.  I get that.  It’s a dog eat dog world, isn’t it? Even though it’s 60-70 F here in the daytime, it’s still pretty darned cold here at night. Especially if your blanket has no more substance than a newspaper.

They are the wounded, the damaged, these travelers, the outcasts of our society.  Whether family strife, unemployment, life disaster or mental illness is the reason these wanderers wander, it’s impossible to pass them by and not acknowledge their plight, buy them a coffee or a hot chocolate.

My wise friend C. said to me (words to this effect):  “Perhaps they are the wise ones, they have no bills or commitments, they are free to come and go as they please”.

Tonight is the coldest night of February here.  No snow, warm sunny days, daffodils bursting forth, Magnolias about to pop their flowers.  How.Ever. The temps plummeted here tonight.  And my electric space heater in Hula Girl officially kakked.  It’s 40F in here, FFFF.  I have two other electric heaters in storage and a propane furnace here in Hula Girl so I’m fine.  Push a few buttons, I’m good to go.

Thankfully, Zuma and I have each other to keep our backs warm. No wonder the Homeless people won’t sacrifice a night staying in a Shelter without their dog.  The gift of touch.  They need each other for touch and for warmth ….  not just when it’s a frigid winter night, they need each other every night.


Meanwhile, Back in Maine ….

February 21, 2017.
Missi helped Zuma and I move back to the RV Park a few days ago.  She (Zuma!) was very excited to get her wiggle on and reconnect with our friends here, then we had a long walk and she crashed on her puffy air bed in the sunshine.  It’s becoming Spring here.  The air smells like May.  Daffodils and trees are already blooming and it’s 60 – 70 F in the daytime.
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Meanwhile, back in Maine:
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Doug sent me these pix:
a view of our driveway from up beside the house.
The Northeast was slammed by three snowstorms in a row last week, leaving almost 3′ of fluffy snow in total!
Here’s the barn as the storm was starting:
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Our dooryard:
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I had thought fleetingly about returning to Maine early, then I saw the  upcoming weather forecast for New England.  I’m pretty sure that, in choosing to stay, I made the right decision for both of us.
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At The Motel.

February 21, 2017.
I’m not going to name the Motel chain because it’s not their fault that there were some shady characters staying there while Zuma and I spent a week.  I most definitely can say that it was a “life experience”.
On the good side, the motel was very clean and the staff was lovely. Accomodating, polite and friendly, Zuma trained them quickly and always scored a cookie when we went near the office.  Also, we met some super people there and will remain in contact with them. Something good comes of everything.

On the not-so-good side, it’s not the motel’s fault that during my week here:
Someone tried my door handle three nights in a row (he was trying every door on our floor).  Reported to office.
One evening, I went to my car to fetch something and hopped in the driver’s seat.  Suddenly, two guys walked up and, right in front of my car, pulled off a drug deal!  I just sat there, bug-eyed.
Then there was the attempted car jacking in the back parking lot; I met the near-victims outside and they told me they stopped him and he was immediately evicted from the motel.
Three police cars stopped by one night; I was a bit taken aback when I met a herd of Policemen in the stairway.  They resolved the issue swiftly and quietly.  (I would have missed all this action if I didn’t have to take Zuma out for walks).  I found it interesting that she didn’t react to the Officers.
Oh, and I did see a housekeeper throwing up in one of the flowerbeds.  That may have been the ‘flu, poor girl.

Despite having to up my caution levels:  watch all around you all the time, especially at night), take wide corners around building, always latch your door, I felt safe ‘cuz I have my big ole dawg with me.  Like most canines, Zuma watches people and knows how to read them.  She’s my personal “People Barometer”!  I know she would use her size and booming bark if she felt the need to step up her Security position.