The Fiji and Jasmine Bond

Fiji growled at me for the first time ever today. I am sure it feels worse to hear a child say, “I hate you,” but I felt like my child said I hate you. I was putting ointment on a wound she has from playing in the chicken coop. The wound must really hurt for her to have said such hurtful words to me. I corrected her and she got on her back to apologize. But I still feel a bit sad. Some people don’t understand the bond owners have with their dogs. They really don’t understand the bond I have with Fiji. I remember when we went through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Nothing but darkness and the sound of dripping water. It was a long walk; I was on the left side of the bike and Fiji was on the right. I shined the flashlight down to check on her. She looked into the light, eyes wide and terrified. But she kept pace with me. It’s like there’s nothing Fiji would not do as long as I was there with her. I felt proud to have her with me, and I picked up my feet a little more, so we could make it out of that tunnel, not for my sake, but for her. She didn’t growl at me when we slept next to train tracks (a train passed by every hour, shaking our tent like an earthquake), when she tore a muscle after running too long, when we rode through flood waters and her trailer was full, when we were caught in the subsequent mudslide, and I had to walk the bicycle through the mud. She kept sinking into the mud, and I walked at one mile per hour because of the weight of the bicycle and trailer, sinking into the mountain side. She didn’t protest when we entered new homes, new situations. She didn’t whimper or lose energy when we would be on the road until the wee hours of morning. I remember starting at 4am one day and not making it to our next destination until 1am the next morning. She didn’t get sick. She smiled and wagged her tail the whole day. When I took showers in strangers’ homes, Fiji would lie next to the door and growl and bark at anyone who approached it. When I went into portable potties or gas stations, Fiji would growl at anyone who approached the door or came too close to our gear. When I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, Fiji, full of energy, would pull the bike and speed us up. She’d jump up and lick me. She’d do something comical.

So excuse me if I’m a little bothered by her words. I know it happens. Dogs do that. It’s the only way they can express when something is wrong or when they don’t like something. She didn’t show her teeth, and even as I write this, she is snuggled next to me. But I still feel like I got into an argument with my best friend.

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Miss You

I know it’s been a while. Hold on to your eyeballs! I am now in California.

I have tons of recapping to do which I plan on doing in the next several weeks. So, please come back to my blog for updated stories from the road. However, the journey doesn’t end here. I don’t know as of yet, but I have some big news to announce…or not. It really depends.

So for now, a tale from the farm will have to suffice.

In Grand Junction, CO, we stayed with veteran cyclist, Marie N. She had several animals on her small farm, including goats, cows, ferral cats and baby cows. Fiji was unruly. She chased after the cats, and barked and growled at the cows. She also tried to jump into the goat pin!

Fiji stares at the goats moments before trying to jump over the fence.

Fiji stares at the goats moments before trying to jump over the fence.

Fiji barks at and runs after cowns through fencing.  Cows leap off.

Fiji barks at and runs after cows through fencing. Cows leap off.

 

I decided it needed to stop. I took chase after Fiji, screaming, “How do you like it?” I looked like a crazy woman. Fiji could tell I was mad, and came up to me with her tail between her legs. I began to train her in proper farm etiquette.

 

I teach Fiji to sit whenever she sees a cow or other animal. Cats are a no-go. She will also take chase.

I teach Fiji to sit whenever she sees a cow or other animal. Cats are a no-go. She will also take chase.

Baby cow and Fiji.

Baby cow and Fiji.

Progress...

Progress…

 

Success!

Success!

 

I hope to upload my news in a few days. Be on alert!

Also, please send any donations to Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.¬†Be sure to put “FiJaBAM: Jasmine Reese” in the donation comments box, so they know the donation came through my referral.

 

 

 

Save Fiji’s Boyfriend

Fiji made a little friend while in Coolidge. His name is Max. He came by everyday to ask if Fiji could come outside and play. He’s about 6 months old or less. Unfortunately, his wandering ways has landed him in the town pound. He will be euthanized on 9/16 if no one claims him. I told his owners, but they do not seem interested in paying the fee to get him out. Fiji is so sad about her friend. She misses him! If you want a doggy, please give Max a forever home. He’s super sweet and a little dopey, but trainable. ūüôā Email me at jbrzr3@gmail.com if interested.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji's punches.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji’s punches.

See more photos here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.619322538099209.1073741827.100000644051693&type=1&l=9251bbcf68

Random Acts of Violince, 2

Practicing string crossings in a friendly stranger’s garage. I literally pulled into the driveway of a beautiful home, sat down in the shade and asked the woman if we could be there. She was super sweet. Fiji got excited when the kids came in, so I had to stop. I’ll upload a full version of the Bach Cello Suite, No. 1 for violin as soon as I memorize and practice it.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel @Violinfanatic!

Also, be sure to donate to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. I am 3 days away from St. Louis, MO!

Dog Attack!

Fiji lies on my lap.

Fiji lies on my lap.

Steady, gradual incline. My knee started to ache around mile 14. Stopped at a Baptist Church to rest. I was talking to my mom on the phone when a dog came out of nowhere. Fiji’s fur stood on her back, and she started barking and growling like no one’s business. The dog charged toward us, and I braced myself for a vicious dog fight….(story continued from my facebook¬†page)

“No,” I yanked Fiji’s leash and pointed at the other dog. It turned out to be a cute jack Russell terrier/beagle mix. It was not barking, just eager to greet. However, Fiji was in protection mode. I feared she’d harm the smaller dog. Fiji growled and challenged little Toby; he just looked like a Toby, so I went with it. Toby was either real bold or seriously stupid because he kept creeping towards Fiji. Yanking Fiji, who is stronger than she looks, I started walking her away from Toby. He followed. “No, Toby! Stay back! Fiji! No!” This multi-tasking of alpha sternness and doggy training went on for five minutes. You would’ve been impressed. I had both dogs, one on leash and one off, walking calmly near each other in the church parking lot. We walked until they were no longer paying attention to the other. Toby stuck close, and I decided they could greet. I closed the gap between us, and both dogs hit it off. Fiji jumped over, sprinted away from, and tackled Toby. I laughed. It’s nice when Fiji finds a friend.

I didn’t want Toby to get hurt or lost, so I led him back to near a house behind the church. Knocking on the door, a little girl came out. “Are your parents home?”

“Yes.” She said.

“Can you go get them?” The girl just stood there staring at Fiji and Toby play.

“Okie dokie,” I whispered under my breath since she ignored my request to get her parents.

Suddenly, out came six more children. “OMG, it’s the seven little dwarfs, and I feel like Snow Black.” The joke went over the children’s heads, but I cracked myself up, so….

“Uh hmmm….” I cleared my throat. “So, uh, like, parents…maybe?” They said nothing. I looked at the corn field in their “front yard” and thought, this isn’t Snow White; it might very well be Children of the Corn. I chuckled.

A friendly looking woman stepped out of the house, and smiled at me. She turned her attention to the dogs.

“Toby, no. Come here!” She beckoned.

“Really? That dog’s name is Toby? I’ve been calling him that all along.” I felt clairvoyant and proud of myself. The woman said, “Oh, really? Wow!”

Her name was Robin. Her husband was Patrick. He happened to be the pastor at the church. If not for Toby, I wouldn’t have met what turned out to be a beautiful family. The children were ages 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, 3 and 1: Joshua, Caleb, Stephen, Kyle, Erica, Brian and Mark.

Fiji did great around the children and dog. She was gentle, but I still explained to the younger children that we have to respect doggies. The youngest pulled on Fiji’s skin, and while Fiji ignored this, I thought it would be a good opportunity to let the children know the dos and don’ts around dogs. Fiji wasn’t used to children poking and prodding, so I told Robin and Patrick that. They kept eager Mark, the one-year-old, away from Fiji, but boy was he persistent.

The church set up accommodations for me in town, and Patrick gave me a gift card for food. Fiji ate pieces of the children’s Popsicles. Overall, it was a good day. I am scared about my knees, though.

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Traveling with Fiji

Fiji relaxes after a long day.

Fiji relaxes after a long day.

Everyday, I grow closer to Fiji. She’s such a sweet and loyal companion for the road. Needless to say, I take her safety and comfort seriously. She needs constant checking in. I don’t just throw her in the trailer and ride for hours without looking back. We stop constantly. On hot days, she uses water up faster than me. I also can’t go into stores and I have to get past the “pitbull stigma” with almost everyone I meet. Although, I will say, we’ve been very fortunate to people gladly welcome her into their homes.

Fiji obeys. She’s eager to please. When we first started, Fiji barked and growled in every new territory: host families homes, campgrounds, motels and so on. Her behaviors made me nervous because I knew people would not put up with it. But after a while, Fiji adapted. I think she’s more used to our lifestyle than I am at this point. When I say, “NO,” this girl listens. She comes to me with her tail between the legs and buries her head between my knees, asking for forgiveness. If I ever get it on tape, I’ll post it.

I didn’t think I could love my dog any more than I did before. ¬†So, all that to say, that it saddens me when people show a fear of dogs. When Fiji’s in the trailer or running alongside the bike, she gets a lot of positive attention! But when I’m walking her or resting, people show unsure expressions.

Dogs are so beautiful, and Fiji has shown me that. I respect her and she respects me. For example, she doesn’t like her back paw to be touched. So, unless necessary, I don’t disrespect that. She also doesn’t like raspberries. Yes, I used to kiss on and play with her belly all the time! Dogs have different personalities and they have likes and dislikes. If you don’t get that, then you will get growled at, or sometimes bit. That’s the reality. Fiji has never growled at or bit me because I try to read her likes and dislikes, and I respect her as a living thing.

I am sorry for all the people who’ve had bad experiences with animals, but they are animals. They will bite, scratch, growl, vocalize and so on. That’s what they do. We don’t force them to meet our expectations as humans, but we work within their limitations and instincts as animals.

I hope the people who’ve met Fiji now have a different view of pit bulls, and will rescue a dog someday.

Day 1 Part 3

“Hi, my name is Jasmine. I’m cycling across the country with my doggy, Fiji, and we’re looking for a place to camp out tonight. Could we stay on the church’s property?” As I handed her my flyer, she put her hand up. “You have to go next door. Go ask in the church office.” She gave directions.

“Thank you.” I was a little disappointed. You don’t know how hard it is to ask for generosity in our society. For me, my faith in people went to no man’s land a long time ago. A single parent, my mom struggled for years, without help from my father, neighbors, strangers, friends or the government. I grew up with the “every person for him or her self” mentality. The only living things you could count on were loyal, unconditional loving canines and immediate family, but I even hesitate to ask my mom for anything since she has enough on her mental and physical plate. ¬†I learned independence at a young age.

So, when I started preparing for this journey, the most nerve-wracking part of it involved asking for donations. ¬†Whether for Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation or myself, I put my head down and mumble, “Would you like to donate a little to our cause?” Yeah, that’ll get the wallets out the pocket.

Fiji whimpered loudly outside. I tied her up to a pole near the bike. “Hush, Fiji. Gosh,” Frustration kicked in. It had been a rough day. This was the point where one mile felt like 10 and one block felt like 20. I started rolling my bike, Fiji now in the trailer, towards the parking lot.

A woman with short brunette hair stood next to her van, staring at us. A man was standing on the other side of the vehicle, talking with her. She was so enthralled with my set up, though. She had a huge smile on her face.

“What’s going on here?” She asked.

“Oh, I’m just cycling to San Diego, CA with my dog, and we need a place to stay tonight. I’m going to ask the people in the office if I can either campout or be hosted.” Yeah, no big deal.

She turned to the man she had been speaking with, looked at the van, the ground, and then back at me. “I’ll host a cyclist!”

“Really?! Are you sure?” Oh great, way to give her an out, Jasmine.

“Yeah, ¬†I have a meeting, but I can pick you up after.”

I thanked her a bunch. Her name is Lois Bennet.

We waited around and talked to several people, including Ryan, who donated police-grade pepper spray, and Jeff, who is an avid cyclist. Jeff cycled across America several years ago, but could not believe the weight I managed to haul so far.

Lois came about 45 minutes later.  Ryan helped us to load everything in the car. The bike stayed in the church. We drove off.

Lois' beautiful backyard.

Lois’ beautiful backyard.

It didn't take long for Fiji to get comfortable.

It didn’t take long for Fiji to get comfortable.

Lois' husband prepared a tasty, healthy dinner.

Lois’ husband prepared a tasty, healthy dinner.

That night, I also helped Lois at a food pantry held at the church. I met wonderful people who prayed for my safety on the trip, but didn’t discourage it. Many of the members in the church ride with the Freedom Riders. They’re a group of long distance cyclists who ride for a cause. Therefore, they all understood the need to get in the saddle and keep pedaling.

Food pantry

Food pantry

I will upload a video soon! It’s been hard finding the time and software to do so. I’m looking for someone to edit for me. Know anyone? Shoot me an email at jbrzr3@gmail.com.

This cycling adventure has shown me a good side of people. There is so much bad, we often lose sight of the wonderful people out there willing to lend a helping hand. I hope I continue to meet great people like Lois along the way.