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man holding eagle freedom and jeff dispenser amenities

Freedom and Jeff

This is the kind of story you need when it seems like the world is spiraling out of control…..

Not many people get a picture of this proud bird 
snuggled up next to them!


Freedom and Jeff
Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. 
she came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings.
Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery,
it was broken in 4 places.
She’s my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand 
and both wings were broken. She was 
emaciated and covered in lice. We made the 
decision to give her a chance at life, so I took 
her to the vet’s office. From then 
on, I was always around her. We had her in a 
huge dog carrier with the top off, and it 
was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to 
lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, 
urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay 
there looking at me with those big brown eyes. 
We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still 
couldn’t stand. It got to the point where the 
decision was made to euthanize her 
if she couldn’t stand in a week. You know you don’t 
want to cross that line between torture and 
rehab, and it looked like death was 
winning. She was going to be put 
down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in 
on that Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to go 
to the center that Thursday, because I couldn’t 
bear the thought of her being euthanized; 
but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone 
was grinning from ear to ear. I went 
immediately back to her cage; and there she was, 
standing on her own, a big beautiful 
Eagle. She was ready to live. I was 
just about in tears by then. That 
was a very good day. 

We knew she could never fly, so the director 
asked me to glove train her.
I got her used to the glove,
and then to jesses, and we started
doing education programs for schools
in western Washington .. 
We wound up in the newspapers, 
Radio (believe it or not) and some 
TV. Miracle Pets even did a show 
about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with 
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had stage 3, 
which is not good (one major organ plus 
everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of 
chemo. Lost the hair – the whole 
bit. I missed a lot of work. When I 
felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey 
and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would 
also come to me in my dreams and help me fight 
the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000

The day after Thanksgiving,
I went in for my last checkup. 
I was told that if the cancer was not 
all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last 
option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they 
did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for 
the results. I went in Monday, and I was 
told that all the cancer was gone.

So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey (wildlife sanctuary in Washington) and 
take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold.
 I went to her flight and jessed (tied around the lower leg) her 
up, and we went out front to the top of the 
hill. I hadn’t said a word to 
Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me 
and wrapped both
her wings around me to where I 
could feel them pressing in on my back 
(I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she 
touched my nose with her beak and stared into my 
eyes, and we just stood there like that 
for I don’t know how long . That was a 
magic moment. We have been soul mates ever 
since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who 
were sick come up to us when we are out, and 
Freedom has some kind of hold on 
them. I once had a guy who was 
terminal come up to us and
I let him hold her.
His knees just about buckled and he 
swore he could feel her power course through his 
body. I have so many stories like that..

I never forget the honor I have of being so close 
to such a magnificent spirit as 
Freedom.

Author’s note:

I’m am not the original author of this story.  I received it via email and was asked to share.


JTs eco-adventure to algonquin park dispenser amenities

JT’s Eco-Adventure to Algonquin Park

Last week Dispenser Amenities eco-travel team members JT, Mike, Michelle, and Alex were at Algonquin Provincial Park in northern Ontario.  It is one of the world’s biggest nature reserves, covering 7,653 square kilometers (2,955 square miles), and is habitat for wolves, bears, and most of all moose.  Needless to say she was a little nervous about the whole thing.

JT is a 2.5 year old Miniature Dachshund.  Although she’s very shy of strangers and pretty mild-mannered, you would not be able to tell the way she was tearing around the park.  The second she arrived in the park she was overwhelmed by confusion.  “Why had we suddenly moved to the forest?  This is just awesome!”

As soon as we got the tent set up JT was very confused by our new accommodations.  “It is so much smaller than our old one and the walls are so soft?  This is all so strange!”  She was very happy about the extent we went to, to make sure the trip was eco-friendly though.  We froze huge blocks of ice with baking molds in the freezer to help us avoid having to buy the ones here wrapped in disposable plastic.  We also stored all of our food in reusable Tupperware containers.  We even brought JT her own refillable drinking bottle so she had water on our hikes!

 

Her first night there JT made a new friends: A chubby little chipmunk and a fox.  She was a little nervous of fox.  I spotted him, with a flashlight, in the dark while everyone else was at the washroom.  He was pretty mangy looking and not much bigger than JT.  I think she liked the chipmunk much better and he was affectionately named Himkim.  He came around all of the time, almost exclusively when we are cooking on the campfire it seemed.  JT LOVED the campfire food!  Cooking there seemed so much cleaner than burning propane or coal, and much more delicious!  The first night we had hamburgers with BBQ sauce and cheese.  Himkim kept trying to sneak in the pieces that everyone gave JT, so she chased him away.  Everyone knows it’s illegal to feed the wildlife in a Provincial Park anyway, so she figured she’d just save him the disappointment. The next morning we woke up to a rain shower and to the fact that our tent was slightly less than waterproof thanks to a flat portion on the roof.  Water was dripping right in the middle where JT sleeps (thanks a lot Broadstone Inc.)!  We solved this problem by pushing on the roof where the puddle formed, forcing the water to run off of the side of the tent.  However, that became ineffective when the shower developed into a thunderstorm.  I then had to play hero, going out to brave the storm while stringing up a tarp from the treetops above our tent.

After spending most of the day in the tent, the rain let up enough for us to take JT for her first swim.  I was so proud because as soon as she touched the water she began swimming.  Even when we lifted her out of the water, her legs kept paddling LOL!  She is sort of a one-directional swimmer though, heading only towards shore. We did coax her into the water once on her own by telling her she was a good girl until she got excited enough to quickly swim out to us and then immediately turn back for shore.

 

We got back to the site and lit a fire to cook dinner but another flash storm hit right as we were ready to put the steaks on.  It was over as quickly as it began and the fire was actually still partially lit.  We rebuilt it and cooked ourselves some delicious steak and corn.

The next day was our big canoe journey five kilometers into the interior of the park.  This was the highlight of the trip for me.  The scenery was breathtaking!  We paddled along the shore of Lake Opeongo past many of the interior campsites.  I became quite jealous of the quality of the sites and immediately swore the next time I camp in Algonquin, I’m staying in the interior.  The campsites there were just huge and right on the water with no neighbors!  We parked the canoe at one and I took a swim.  The poor girls were cold in the morning and didn’t bring swimwear so I was swimming alone.  JT came in with me for her second time ever and then went on a good spazzy run around the campsite and forest to dry off.

 

On the way back to our site, we saw a moose grazing along the side of the highway!  The poor thing must have just escaped an encounter with some wolves because we could see some fresh bloody bite marks on the back of her legs.  I wonder what the wolves looked like after this battle?  The moose was pretty big and did not seem too shaken from the encounter, going about her grazing despite the growing number of spectators approaching. 

 

When we got back to the site I was treated to the special recipe of Michelle’s grill-irons.  This is basically a campfire-cooked pizza pocket.  Pizza sauce, fresh sliced pepperoni, and grated cheese are all loaded in-between two slices of bread, buttered on the outside, squished together with the irons, and then placed in the coals to seal.  I loved them!  JT had decided that she really likes campfires by this time and has made herself a little nest on a grassy patch the perfect distance from the fire.  She didn’t quite understand the concept of fire yet I think as she let out a little squeak when she walked to close to it and looked quite offended.  It wasn’t enough to turn her off of the experience though as she was not actually hurt.  She was still loving the fire for the rest of the trip.

Our final day there was our hiking day.  We hit three trails: Beaver Pond, Hardwood Lookout, and Peck Lake.  The Beaver Pond trail was our favorite except for JT who liked Peck Lake the best.  I had to trick everyone into walking the full lookout trail, as the popular idea was to walk the trail backwards, see the lookout, and then go back the way we came.  I just started heading down the proper way telling the girls that was the fastest way to the lookout.  Beaver Pond actually has a better lookout than the Hardwood Lookout trail with a big cliff at the conclusion overlooking half-a-dozen beaver lodges.

JT loved the Peck Lake trail the most because we hit that one right at dusk.  Since there was no big cliffs on this trail, I convinced everybody that she would be okay to explore this trail off the leash.  She took full advantage of this opportunity, acting as a trailblazer for the rest of us.  Tail wagging frantically, she ran back and forth, top speed, just in front of us the entire way.  I even got her to come out onto a fallen log over the water.  We made it back right at dusk for our final campfire meal of sausages.

 

The next day we were all sad to leave Algonquin, especially JT.  I don’t think that she really ever understood what was going on.  Having moved before in her life, she might have thought that this was the same idea and we had now relocated to the forest.

Algonquin is a great park.  We are considering this trip a practice journey, with the next one bringing us into the park’s interior.  The park is very good for handling the amount of tourism they get, making sure that all of their eco-friendly practices are visibly posted and well explained.  They have a badge reward system that seems to excite the children while teaching them to responsibly enjoy the park and safely behave around the animals.  They also have an excellent recycling program with a huge row of bear-proof garbage and recycling bins in each campground.

By Michael Faulds


Is Eco-Travel to China Possible?

China is a rising hospitality hotspot.  In my recent article about China, I detailed the race that many hospitality corporations are involved in to erect hotels across the country, in order to accommodate the economic boom that the country is experiencing.  The growth in the county, unfortunately, has become somewhat of a concern, if not a regional crisis!

The problem is that China depends on coal to provide 80% of its power (Wall Street Journal) and is also the world’s largest coal consumer using almost as much coal per annum as the rest of the world combined (The Guardian).  The combination of coal power dependence and several years of rising automobile sales with lenient fuel economy regulations, has led to the situation which has been dubbed the  “airpocalypse”.  This fearsome amount of pollution is clearly visible from space and is forecasted to cost the citizens of northern China over 2.5 billion years of combined life expectancy according to the NY Times.

The smog we experience in the west, most infamously in Los Angeles, California, is actually very mild compared to what is faced by the Chinese, who have on several occasions recorded air pollution levels that exceed the current measurement scale, and at one time reaching a record level of 755 out of 500 – 30 times the level deemed unsafe by the World Health Organization. The Government frequently has encouraged the population to wear masks outdoors when the weather encourages more harmful air conditions.  These masks are a common sight within the country’s major cities, enduring long after the SARS scare when they first became popular.

Aside from the human health concerns of this problem, there is also the environmental impact to look at.  The burning of coal in particular has devastating effects on the environment in many different ways.  First, at the mining site all vegetation will be completely obliterated and the topography of the area is, in most cases, irrevocably transformed.  Secondly, it creates the by-product of fly ash, a hazardous material that must be stored in wet sites, known as ponds.  These ponds are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as potential hazards.  Finally, there is also concern that the air-pollution from coal could be affecting wildlife and waterways, mercury emissions from the coal plants are entering the food chain, and greenhouse gases are destroying the ozone layer.

What does all of this mean for travelers that are looking to eliminate their carbon footprint when traveling?  Not only when traveling to Metropolitan areas of China will they be exposed to these extremely hazardous air quality issues, they will also be contributing to the problem every time they turn on the lights, make use of air-conditioning, or take a taxi cab.

There is still a light at the end of this tunnel, however.  Although the problem is already quite extreme, it has finally been acknowledged with a detailed action plan put in place by the Chinese Government. Vice Commerce Minister Chen Jian reached out to Japan to arrange a “cooperative network to reduce air pollution in China, involves environmental technology and knowhow pooled from about 500 Japanese firms, including Toyota Motor Corp., Electric Power Development Co., Toshiba Corp. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.” (japantimes). They have also put in motion plans to “reduce emissions from heavily polluting industries by 30%, enhance control of PM2.5 Pollution, and publicize the results of air quality testing” (The Guardian Uk).

To answer the question – is eco-travel in China possible?  The answer is certainly!  The difference in China is you will have to be even more diligent in reducing your energy consumption keeping in mind that it is generated almost completely by coal.  Make sure to let the hotelier know that the issue of air pollution is very important, not only to China, but everybody!  Opt-in to any sustainability projects they have running.  Public transportation or riding a bike while there would be ideal but if you absolutely need a car, be sure to check the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.  Refusing disposable items makes a huge difference in helping keep landfills reasonable as well as keeping garbage out of the ocean.


Municipal Event Lodging Tax in the form of Hotel Surcharges

In our hometown, London, Ontario, there is a political debate about charging a “bed tax” to hotel patrons and putting the money towards funding events.  This tax is already up and running in several other cities throughout Ontario and is common in metropolitan areas throughout the world.  The proposal would have about three percent added to hotel bills and generate an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million in annual revenues for the city. 

This money would be used to attract talent and fund events in the city.  The theory behind this is that the hotels benefit in the form of additional revenues from tourists attending events in the city, so this would be a way for them to facilitate contributions from their guests towards these events. 

One foreseeable problem for the hotels is that surcharges are already a forefront issue for them.  Guests often become very disgruntled over receiving surcharges for various things, so adding further tax onto the bill, in the form of a surcharge, could draw more discontent and unwanted attention to the surcharges already in place by the hotel.

Will the money used directly increase any given hotel’s revenues enough to offset the decrease they may experience from their guests being subjected to the additional surcharge? The CEO of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, Tony Elanis, was quoted by the London Metro saying he thought the bed tax was a good idea if the money was used to “aggressively showcase the city”.  

Here in London, we recently had the pleasure of hosting The World Figure Skating Championship which drew over 20,000 people to London and had most of our downtown hotel locations filled to capacity.  Events like this are surely a great thing for all of the hotels that are impacted.  Elanis further elaborated that our neighbors in Burlington, Ontario, had accomplished a very successful, targeted approach in drawing additional tourism to their city by investing revenues into hockey and promoting it properly. 

What’s your opinion?  Is it fair to subject all travelers using our city’s lodging to partially fund events in the city?  There is no guarantee that people attending events will stay at the hotels or that people staying in the hotels will attend the events.  There are also many other businesses that benefit from events in the city such as taxis and restaurants whose customers will not be additionally taxed.


dispenser amenities and marina grand beach hotel partners for a green bulgaria

Partners for a Green Bulgaria

Our new partners at the Hotel Marina Grand Beach are leading the way to inspire hotels across Europe to improve environmentally sustainable tourism practices.

The hotel is centered in the Golden Sands Resort, one the most sought-out and beautiful resorts in the country.  The Black Sea shoreline is literally footsteps from the hotel and the resort’s other activities are also in very close proximity.  Whether guests are looking to play golf, go boating, experience a jeep safari, or any number of motorized water sports, all are available without having to stray too far from the hotel. 

The Black Sea is only the beginning of the entertainment available at the Hotel Marina Grand Beach.  As Bulgaria is a gateway between the East and West, the Golden Sands Resort offers guided excursions to the nearby cultural and natural wonders of Bulgaria, as well as more involved voyages to many regional tourist attractions including Istanbul and Cairo.

General Manager Elitza Goranova’s quest to further her properties’ eco-orientation, after the hotel introduced a policy avoiding the use of single-use and disposable items, brought our companies together.  Being unable to attain a suitable sustainable amenities program in Bulgaria, she contacted us after noticing our referrals from “many other leading tourism enterprises”.  This led to the Hotel Marina Grand Beach to outfit their entire property with our AVIVA Dispensers.

Long before coming in contact with us, the Hotel Marina Grand Beach had been making great strides towards their goal of sustainable operation.  They have achieved a Certificate of Energy Effectiveness Class “A” by implementing an effective guestroom energy management system: an energy saver switch system that controls the operation of the rooms’ light and heating/cooling system, as well as a balcony door sensors that disable the Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning system when left open, and only purchasing energy efficient appliances.  They have also implemented a waste management and recycling system to minimize waste generation of their own accord and before any formal regulations were in place and without assistance by the municipality. In addition they use dual-flush model toilets that conserve water, encourage customers to participate in programs where they can have an impact on water, energy, and waste management.

In many parts of Europe, and even more so in Asia, we have seen the utter destruction that has been caused by the mass tourism that is attracted by the lush landscapes and historical sites that can be found in these parts of the world.  An example of such tragedy can be found in the Maldives’ Thilafushi Island, where the waste from tourism has created an environmental disaster and sparked a global outrage (http://www.dispenseramenities.com/news/garbage-island/).  For this reason we cannot overlook the importance of hotels like the Hotel Marina Grand Beach taking on the responsibility of not only providing an excellent experience to the travelers that want to see the Golden Sands resort and the Black Sea, but going above and beyond in making sure that the experience they provide does not take away from the environment and general health of the region.


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