Travels with Django
Travels with Django
By E.M. Fredric
Santa Monica, CA - (EMF) September 22, 2019 - On Sunday morning the Tongva Park Alzheimer’s Walk was the place to return to meet up with my team captain, Nancy Daly - for Actors & Artists Unite. This sunny morning, I brought along my son, Dylan and his beautiful girlfriend Sarah and of course, Django – my G-Dawg. He was excited to be there and did the honors again this year of having extra poop bags for those owners whose dogs don’t carry their own. Django helped two on the walk. Dogs will be dogs.
You would think the town of Santa Monica would have free metered Sunday parking to support non-profit organizations but they must “need” more money.
We registered and got our flowers, the various colors signify different stages.
This year I felt more sad than usual because a girlfriend of mine is showing signs of an inherited disease. It always is a reminder of losing my first love, James, to early on-set Azheimer’s. He passed in his early 40’s. His father died when we were in high school. It would be years before I knew why – he seemed very quiet and then he was gone. I learned quickly about the devasation of losing a loved one through James losing his dad and I have lost more than a few people that I love, since.
The ceremony before is always moving with stories of why people are there and this year a mother/daughter were on stage as the mother carried the blue flower. It’s hard not to cry when you see someone with a disease that makes them digress backwards and robs them of who they once were. How brave and wonderous the two women were – smiling and holding up their flower. The crowd was told to hold their color up when it was announced what it stood for – a flower garden in the air that spins in the wind for a cure.
Nancy Daly is the Founder and National Team Captain for Actors and Artists Unite dedicated to building a community of support, awareness and compassion for anyone who has - or who has lost - a loved one to Alzheimer's. She recently lost her father to the disease this last July. I’ve had the pleasure of walking with her on four walks, two now with Django.
Nancy wrote this about her father the night before our walk at Tongva Park :
I cannot sleep
I will not sleep this night
I never sleep the night before a Walk
In a few hours, I will raise my Purple Flower with his name on it
I will walk for a cure - for an end to this nightmare
But no matter how many miles I walk- I will always be too late
He is gone. He died before we found a cure.
I will always be too late
But I have his story to tell, a team to lead, a cure to find and a promise to keep - and miles to go before I sleep
I will not sleep this night.
We’ll keep walking and hopefully be holding what is now the lone white flower. I think the entire county will be out in full force because a cure will have been found.
*Join us at various chapters in the southland or nationwide: Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter is on Facebook or sign up at their website: https://act.alz.org or https://www.alz.org/AAUnite
By E.M. Fredric
Before I share our recent harbor kayaking in Ventura - I'd like to take a moment to show you this amazing little guy who brightens my world - he absolutely refuses to not be taken seriously and he lets me know. The lessons I get from Django never cease to amaze me. Everyone should have a G-Dawg or loaner dog in their life.
I often wish, while observing him, that I could be as in-the-moment as he is. He never gives up. I've seen him scale a very tall tree - between where the branch limbs meet - at over six feet high to go after a squirrel. The squirrel won but watching Django was a reminder of the thrill of the chase. I had no clue he could do that. But he doesn't seem to limit himself - another lesson to look at for me, again and again.
If the world were filled with more Djangos - it would be a happier place to hang in.
Before our recent heat wave, literally days before - I was asked if I could watch him for a few days. Ahh what torture, right?! I made a plan to go kayaking this time because when Django sees me he knows the familiar and knows I'll take him somewhere new. We help each other out in so many ways.
Los Angeles beaches aren't so dog friendly and I knew Ventura and Oxnard areas are so I rang the Channel Islands Kayak Center and was instantly told to come any time after opening at noon and Django was welcomed! Thank you to Mike Lamm! Joseph set us up but first we hit the beach.
Here he found a ball, rolled in the sand, went squirrel hunting. He remembers the sand/rock squirrels are over on the beach by Ventura Pier from past daily excursions. Django is a smart four-legged guy but he was very disappointed after racing all over and not finding one, not one squirrel to chase... Next time.
We moved on to grab lunch and an ice cream cone that we shared. He likes ahi tuna and avocados too. Again, MY kind of guy. He got mad at a little bird when given a small bit of waffle cone and chased it off. Ahh so territorial - reminds me of the two-legged guys.
Then it was off to kayak - Django's first time on board the single kayak we had. He loves boating but the sea, like me, he loves the most - for different reasons... SEALS.
Django has been in boats before and a SUP with me a few times - our next trek before the Fall hits full stride. The kayak he was just mesmerized and wanted to get into the water. Later, I dunked him in the water to cool him off and made sure he was fastened loosely to me. He's not one of those cavalier dogs - he's always up to something - like a toddler. One blink and he's gone after something. He dove off my SUP in Marina Del Rey once thinking he could get on the dock to get to the seals. I made sure he never got behind me.
We started through an underpass of pirate faire against the rocks before making our way to the waters between the slips/ More importantly, we moved to the echo of loud barks that Django knew were his seadawg friends he wanted to play with. The problem is, they're gigantic and gorgeous and as the sea lions looked at us - Django shook in anticipation. He didn't do his normal whining or barking. I paddled us up to one dock where 11 were sleeping, one baby nestled near her mother. A few left bubbles near the kayak - they swam that close underwater.
Django and I had a blast. One man cruised by in his boat with his two little dogs barking and yakking away at Django and called out, "He's not paying any attention to my dogs!" I laughed and said, "Look behind you - THOSE guys are who he's interested in!" Two sea lions, one laying down the other sunning, lazily glanced our way - blinking with those enormous brown eyes - then closed them. They're used to being admired.
We'll be back to Channel Islands Kayak Center!
I'm new to the sport of kayaking and this is a one-stop shop for other water vehicles for rent and guided tours. Plus, they are really nice and incredibly accommodating. Thanks Mike!
Django and I love going places. When he sees me vs. his mom or dad owner(s) - he knows adventures lay ahead and... lots of surprises. I love this little guy and hope you enjoy the many things we like doing together. Who knows, we might meet you along the way by land, sea or air - and it will be a pleasure. Some of our outtings have been published, like this one and we'll be doing the Tongva Park walk again on September 22nd. So, look for our update!
Santa Monica, CA 09/24/2018 – Walks to End Alzheimer’s are getting larger every year due to the increase of awareness and medical research made available to the public. AA (Actors & Artists) Unite has grown nationwide since 2011 – to the current total of 44 teams – nationwide – in 2018 and have hit the historic goal of having raised over $255,000. Nancy Daly is a team captain and her motto like so many others is – we walk until we find a cure.
Sunday at Tongva Park in Santa Monica, California – brought celebrated actress Marcia Gay Harden and her daughter Eulala came to walk for Harden’s mother, Barbara, while suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s no longer knows the family she raised. Eulala pledged to keep up the fight for the younger generation as the duo walked with a group of 14 year-olds – raising funds along with everyone else who came with a story.
Django and I walked for three people, two gone, one still here. He loved chasing my purple fan I swung around in circles - leaping as high as he could and that's over 6 feet! Plus he carries and shares his poop bags for those owners who forget. Whatta dawg... and we walked with some very large dogs. You're welcome streets of Santa Monica!
Fame brings the press but the faces here are the faces of every man, woman or child who may be walking around with the predisposition to the disease. The masses of people who walk are everyone from everywhere and it’s inspiring to be a part of the gentleness of the gatherings. People open up with the most heart-wrenching stories of loss that was or is to come.
It’s a tribe of comradery – one that refuses to give up because each year brings more news of offsetting the disease, keeping it from progressing and one day of course that needed cure so that people aren’t returned to the womb while living. Alzheimer’s gives one either a long or slow descent into a role reversal that devastates the afflicted and affected by this insidious disease.
Handheld colorful flowers – called Promise Flowers – represent the diverse reasons participants have gathered. Participants will have an opportunity to write a personal message on their promise flower to further strengthen their dedication.
Once this message is written, participants come together for a heartfelt ceremony prior to the Walk. Then together, the Promise Flowers create a dynamic, colorful and meaningful garden that they will enter as they conclude their walk. A lone white flower is held up at the beginning of the ceremony in hopes that it will be held by all – when a cure is found. Participants are then welcome to stroll through the garden, read each other’s stories and take their Promise Flower home as remembrance of their Walk experience and the promises made.
Below, is the meaning of each color:
It’s a beautiful way to start a day with a beasty bestie - like Django - and for a common cause. To a cure!
To join a chapter near you - even nationwide: Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter is on FB or sign up at their website: WALK TO END ALZHEIMER'S
Twitter: @alzassociation #Walk2EndAlz
Kenny Chesney's tribute to his father who has Alzheimer's.
Django is one of my best mates and my G-dawg. He doesn't belong to me but we love each other. He's an amazing, athletic little guy who can scale 6ft. or more over fences/trees, flies over rocks and will nail a rabbit, frog or fly if allowed to take chase by land, sea or air! G-dawgs are like grandkids - not expensive and you can hand them back when you're done.