The Wild West side of Vegas you’ve never seen

Longhorns wild westI know, I know… At this point you’re tired of it. “Vegas isn’t only about the Strip” seems to be my war cry, as I go zip-lining, race-car driving, or fly a jet plane … “Give us some Strip!” you might be thinking. I’ve decided I will, starting this week. But I couldn’t resist one more opportunity to show the side of Vegas no one seems to see anymore. See, no one seems to remember that my desert town was fairly recently a thriving little town in the West Wild. In fact, right out of town (I can literally see the drop-off from city to desert from my office window), there are still ranches of all kinds in Vegas. Yes, all of these photos were taken within city lines. The only thing missing: photos of horses, as that is a huge industry in my town. Alas, I don’t ride. But I think you’ll like these non-Strip Vegas shots. Enjoy!

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Shameless Pet Pic: Don’t you want to rescue?

rescue petsAfter kicking the flu and on the eve of having to get up at 4:30 am, I was looking for an easy fun pic to share from some part of my life. But of course: my rescue pets, staring up at me with those big eyes…. I ran across this Instagram photo of my smaller dog, Jax. He’s my runner, the one who causes me an enormous amount of stress when he gets out of the house, something he manages to do with an impressive amount of dexterity. He’s also sensitive, prone to hunger strikes and who knows what else. But they sure do look like angels when they’re asleep, don’t they? Like my other dog, Chase, Jax is a rescue saguate (street dog) I brought home from Costa Rica. It was a long road from our little barrio to his napping on my leopard-print chaise in Las Vegas. (And it took a village, literally.) In fact, it feels like a lifetime ago that I took them to the local C.A.R.E. spay and neuter clinic for stray dogs in little Coco. It’s easier than you would think to bring your rescue pets home to the US. I highly encourage it!

Let me know if you’re thinking about it and would like to hear more!

Locally in Las Vegas, consider donating to or volunteering at The Animal Foundation. It’s a very special place, with tens of thousands of animals that need human attention. Drop in! You’ll fall in love.

My Mini Sea Turtle Rescue in Costa Rica

sea turtle rescue playa guiones costa Rica turtlesDuring a routine early-morning walk on Playa Guiones during my recent trip to Costa Rica, my friend and I came upon a scene that was way more than we had bargained for. We had brought my friend’s dogs (two huge boxers) down from Coco, so we were on a section of the beach that was pretty much empty except for us. It had been a cloudy morning after some storms, so the air already had a moody feel, the still-ferocious waves lapping at the shore. The dogs started running after something, so we knew something was up. Then we saw the vultures — lots of them. And then… we came upon the first skeleton.

We had stumbled upon a turtle graveyard.

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Fanciest (five-star!) dog hotel in Vegas

Since I just got back from a two-week trip to Argentina, I’ve been asked numerous times about my dogs. I love that everyone is so concerned! No worries — while I was jaunting through South America, my pups were on their own vacation at a five-star Vegas dog hotel. Here they are with their little good-bye bandanas that have become a standard treat for dogs going home! (Sorry for the poor quality of the pic — they’re difficult, wiggly models at best.) They were so tired and well-behaved when I picked them up. It was a very good sign!

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My favorite photos of 2010: “best of” animals

I’ve been a writer for, oh, my entire life (at least it feels like it), so my photos are always an afterthought, and I run them pretty small on my blog. For my New Year’s resolution, I’ve vowed to stop doing that. I’ve been pretty (really) lazy about improving the technical side of taking photos, but I still have some favorites that I’m going to roll out over the next few days leading up to the New Year. For Day One, I’m going to start with the cheap shots: animals. Who can resist? The howler monkeys shown here woke me up almost every single morning during my year in Costa Rica, usually before five am. Curious as to how they sound and how loud they really are? Click here! Warning: they don’t sound as cute as they look!

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