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Puppers bring St. Patrick’s Day cheer!

A little Irish cheer on this St. Patrick’s Day thanks to some rescue pups and a coffee shop. Enjoy!

This Coffee Company Helps Save Rescue Pups — And They Have St. Patrick’s Day Goodies, Too

By Morgan Smith
March 16, 2020

When’s the last time you skipped the long line at a coffee shop and brewed your own cup of joe at home? Or hit snooze to sneak in a few extra minutes of cuddling with your pet before work?

Grounds & Hounds, a California-based coffee company, is encouraging people to do just that.

Jordan Karcher, 32, founded the company in 2014 after adopting his “sidekick” Molly, a sweet 9-year-old dalmatian. The company donates 20 percent of all its profits to help fund rescue programs in animal shelters across the United States.

Their Rescue Roast donates 100 percent of its profits to a new rescue organization each month. Through April 15th, that’s Pandas Paws Rescue, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates animals with serious medical issues and/or special needs.

I got to sample the Rescue Roast, and it was fantastic. The medium roast has a nutty, bitter flavor with subtle sweet notes of caramel and dark chocolate. A 12 oz bag of whole beans or grounds costs $14.99.

Since Grounds & Hounds introduced the product on their website in 2018, they’ve raised more than $45,000 to help support rescue organizations throughout the country, according to Karcher. Those organizations include the Marley’s Mutts Pawsitive Change Prison Program, which pairs incarcerated men with shelter dogs for rehabilitation, and the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team, which helps transport animals at risk of being euthanized to open shelters.

You don’t have to be a coffeehead to support these causes either. Grounds & Hounds also sells t-shirts, pet accessories, and stickers, too. For St. Patrick’s Day, they recently unveiled their “Rub Bellies For Good Luck” line, which shows a Dalmatian holding a four-leaf clover in its mouth. My favorite is their new Affogato candle ($32.99), which fills the room with a dreamy vanilla scent.

Next, Karcher tells PEOPLE the company is looking to help people entering retirement homes and survivors of domestic violence in shelters who may not be able to bring pets with them to their new residences.

“What we’re thinking about is, ‘How do you really improve that experience of a pet owner?’” he says. “And more importantly, ‘How do you ensure that people who love their pets have every opportunity to provide a full life for them, without putting themselves in a position where they’re deciding who gets to eat?’”

Oliver is one well traveled ferret!

A light story about a world-traveler and her pet ferret. Enjoy!

This hiking ferret has summited 11 of Colorado’s highest peaks

Oliver enjoys camping, kayaking, touring national parks and napping (when he’s not stealing pens and socks).

March 13, 2020
By Jen Reeder
Source: TODAY

When paramedic Lauren Smith “impulse-bought” a baby ferret in 2015, she didn’t know much about ferrets. She just knew she wanted a pet and felt it wouldn’t be fair to keep a dog or cat alone in her apartment while she worked 12-hour shifts.

“Somebody mentioned that ferrets sleep 18-20 hours a day, and I was like, ‘That’s perfect,’” she told TODAY.

Oliver hikes the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail near Kanab, Utah. By Lauren Smith

Little did she know that while awake, young ferrets are extremely energetic. Her ferret, Oliver, would run straight into the wall or try to dive under the TV stand and miss and hit his head. He also engaged in his natural instinct to burrow.

“He destroyed my couch and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something to get this energy out of this little critter,’” she recalled.

Her solution? Head out together on outdoor adventures.

To help Oliver burn off energy, Lauren Smith started taking her ferret on outdoor adventures.Courtesy of Lauren Smith

They started at Caprock Canyons State Park, which wasn’t far from their home in Lubbock, Texas. Oliver wore his little harness — not a problem since she gave him so many treats while training to use it — and everything was fine until an ant bit him. He staged a protest and demanded to be carried.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of their adventures. They moved to Colorado and started exploring trails in earnest.

Now Oliver has hiked 11 of Colorado’s famed “fourteeners” — mountains over 14,000 feet high — and visited eight national parks, including Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and most recently, Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. He’s traveled in six U.S. states.

While Oliver sometimes hangs out in his ferret-sized tent, at night he cuddles with Lauren Smith in a sleeping bag.Lauren Smith

When Oliver gets tired on hot days, he hitches a ride in Smith’s backpack. When it’s cold, he likes to crawl into the hood of her jacket, which is like his tiny hammock at home.

“He weighs about as much as a burrito so he’s super light to carry,” she said.

He’s even tried to crawl into the hoods of passing hikers when he’s decided it’s time for a snooze.

“It’s pretty funny,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Oh sorry — he’s looking for a nap!’”

Whether it’s sunny or snowy, Oliver hits the trails throughout the year.Lauren Smith

In winter, they spend a lot of time hiking in Utah since it’s not blisteringly hot as it is during summer months, and has less snow than Colorado. So far they’ve checked out Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

Oliver hikes the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail near Kanab, Utah.Lauren Smith

Hiking isn’t their only activity. They also enjoy camping — though he snuggles in Smith’s sleeping bag at night, he does have his own ferret-sized tent — and kayaking. Oliver wears a life vest for safety.

Oliver relaxes in a kayak on Lake Powell in Arizona.Lauren Smith

“We did a test in the bathtub and he did fine. He was able to float for a good 10 minutes without any help. He didn’t really need me,” she said.

Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, Smith, 27, documents their adventures on Oliver’s Instagram page under the username hikingferret. She’s surprised how quickly thousands of people started following him and was delighted when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently mentioned Oliver on his Facebook page.

Oliver hiked to see Isak Heartstone, a beloved troll sculpture in Breckenridge, Colorado.Lauren Smith

With increased public interest in ferrets like Oliver, Smith said it’s important for people considering a pet ferret to know they need supervision, particularly when they’re young, and that they can be harder to train than dogs.

Also, ferrets are notorious thieves.

“They enjoy stealing and stashing a variety of things,” she said. “Oliver’s favorite things to steal are pens and socks.”

Oliver gets excited every time Lauren Smith walks toward their front door, hoping they’re about to hit the road.Lauren Smith

Of course, she has no regrets about bringing Oliver home. He’s become quite cuddly as their bond has grown. She’s looking forward to taking him to South Dakota this summer, potentially to Mount Rushmore.

“I really like adventuring with Oliver,” she said. “It’s a whole lot of fun.”

A volunteer vacation in Guatemala can bring grandparents and grandchildren together

Grandparents have little in common with their grandchildren, or so it seems. It may just take a shared experience such as a volunteer vacation in Guatemala to brdge the generational gap.

 Memories worth making

The gap in relating with grandchildren has grown so much wider in the last couple of decades due to the domination of technology in the younger generations. Some grandparents may struggle to relate to the world their grandchildren now live in. Despite this gap in understanding each other, there are still ways to come together, share experiences and make memories that will bring them closer together.

One way of bridging the gap is through travel and more specifically through volunteer travel. In recent years, volunteering abroad has become a way to explore and learn about other cultures. This isn’t the Peace Corps volunteering of yesteryear however. This is an opportunity for multi-generational families to travel abroad, explore, learn and work together.

One way to assure your volunteer abroad will be exciting and full of wonderful memories is to choose a nonprofit organization that has been accredited by the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA). By choosing an IVPA approved volunteer abroad program, you can have peace of mind that your family’s experience will be fulfilling, safe and filled with long-lasting memories.

That is what grandparents Renee and James did when they chose Globe Aware to celebrate their grandson’s Zeth’s 16th birthday by visiting and volunteering in Guatemala.

Cell phones and laptops were left behind in favour of swimming in beautiful blue waters of Lake Peten Itza, making tortillas, tilling and planting in a community garden and installing a concrete floor for a needy family. Renee and James made some wonderful memories with Zeth, some that will never be forgotten and will always be cherished.

IVPA is committed to standards of excellence in the field of international volunteering and IVPA member organizations must uphold the IVPA’s Principles and Practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria.

IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs.

In its early years, IVPA was a forum for all volunteer organizations to exchange ideas and discuss best practices in the industry. By 2000, IVPA represented around 50 organizations and had developed a set of Principles and Practices for the industry.

Today, IVPA and its members stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteering. The IVPA seal is a distinguishing mark of excellence for volunteer programs.

There are countless reasons why thousands of people volunteer abroad each year. You may start with a desire to travel, learn a new language, or meet new people. By volunteering, you’ll also have the opportunity to lend a hand to those who are working to improve life in their communities.

Through your daily work and interactions with members of a local community, you’ll gain a better understanding of the culture, as well as the issues that affect that part of the world. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself, as you take on the challenge of living and working in a completely new environment.

According to the authors of “Alternatives to the Peace Corps” (Food First Books), “While a volunteer may wish to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or house the homeless, these social and political problems are often more complex than they may seem. Thus, the volunteer’s most appropriate role is that of a student.

​Working abroad can better your understanding of the world and forces that keep people impoverished, and enhance your appreciation for the richness of other cultures. For many, volunteer experiences mark the beginning of a lifelong commitment to ending poverty and hunger.”

International volunteers who were interviewed for the publication “How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas” had this to say about their experience volunteering abroad:

“I think it’s given me a greater opportunity to define who I am, to expand the way I view things, to see the world through other people’s eyes, and to incorporate my experiences into the way I think, live, and feel.” – Marlene Larocque, volunteer in Ecuador.

“Volunteering gave me a new perspective on my own cultural values and assumptions. It made me more thoughtful about which ones I truly want to adopt.” – Tracy Hessel, volunteer in Latin America.

“I spend the last year working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an International Program Analyst. I got this job because of my overseas experience, including working in a health setting with under-served populations, knowledge of foreign language, as well as a demonstrated leadership ability and maturity.” – Brenda Pierce, volunteer in Costa Ric.

According to the book’s authors, “Volunteering abroad can be one of the most educational, inspiring and exciting things you do in your life. Despite all the challenges, most volunteers we spoke with said that, given the opportunity, they would do it again. Living and working in another culture while donating your time and energy to do a worthwhile cause has great rewards and may enrich your life long after you return home.”