DIOSA: One Mare's Odyssey on the Planet Earth as whispered to Amy Phillips Penn.
Orlando Animal Rights Examiner Stephen Dickstein
Amy Penn is a "New Yorker" at heart who hails from the city that never sleeps, but now resides in California after time spent fighting too many hurricanes in Florida. Hers is a tale of two coasts with animals being the common denominator in her life.
Amy is a fellow journalist who worked as an assistant to world famous syndicated society/fashion columnist Eugenia Sheppard. Amy penned Ms. Sheppard's "Around The Town" column under her own byline for about a year after she died and found it taught her "to write fast, short and under pressure." Words of advice for impending future journalists.
Amy made her way to the Palm Beach area of Florida where she continued as a society writer for several Palm Beach publications until becoming "obsessed" with the sport of Polo. Enter Diosa, Max and Holly into the story.
Diosa, which means "goddess" in Spanish, was named by an Argentinean polo player (prior owner) and has lived up to her own billing as a spirit that ". . . is everything? the sky, the moon, the stars, and the mountains." She has taken it upon herself to whisper her story to Amy, the b.p.f. (best person forever) in her life, in "DIOSA One Mare's Odyssey on the Planet Earth".
Together Diosa, Max (her "Perfect Guy"), Holly (her Golden Retriever "little sister") and Amy form a family team. Their journey is one filled with an awareness of family, the ecstasy of victory, the beauty of the land that surrounds us, and the sudden turn of weather that can make life on earth so unpredictable.
As Diosa whispers, "Two horses, a dog and a person who loves us a lot, that's us. It doesn't matter who plays defense or offense, or even who scores the most goals, which is usually me. What matters is that we're together, and we're all safe and happy. We've gone to so many beautiful places and explored them together. Now we're off to Santa Barbara, which my b.p.f. says is God's Country."
Only now the great hurricane adventure had been replaced by the smell of burning embers and smoke becoming darker as wildfires dotted Southern California. Diosa, like the animals around her, knew when ". . . something was stirring; something uninvited, and something unwelcome . . . because I don't care how brave you are, or how many hurricanes you've been in, or how many rough-and-tumble polo matches you've won, fires are sc-sc-sc-scary."
Amy hopes the telling of Diosa's story can do some good. She sees it as Diosa's ". . . plea to protect our planet and animals in emergencies." Amy wants readers to adopt this story because:
1. It teaches the responsibility of owning an animal - preparing both for the road the animal takes you down as well as what road you take the animal down;
2. Before a known disaster season (like hurricanes), check out everything you need and get supplies ahead of time before disaster strikes;
3. All locales need to have identified shelters for animals in a disaster; and
4. Telling the story from an animal "mouth" gives it a different potency for children to better grasp ideals - it fits the story to a level children can embrace.
Amy's dream is to see Diosa's story made into a movie. After reading it, this columnist is of the opinion this story would be well-suited for an animated film. Disney/Pixar or DreamWorks could do wonders with this story developing a script that would appeal to adults and children alike; especially with all the animal characters and a "b.p.f." too.
Disaster planning makes you think long and hard about the responsibility to protect your animals. As someone who has experienced disasters on both coasts, Amy shares some tips she's learned over the years:
She re-emphasizes to prepare for your animals in a disaster.
Stay as calm as you can with your animals and they will react accordingly.
Have a first aid kit in a lock box for all of your animals.
For horses, paint your phone number on the rear of the animal in waterproof color (if there is any concern in doing this please check with your veterinarian).
For horses, hurricane proof barns as a possible alternative to turning them out.
For horses, make sure you have enough space in your horse trailer to accommodate all of your horses.
For horses, if they are boarded at someone else's barn think ahead to make sure they will be protected.
For dogs, make a list of hotels that will allow them to stay in a disaster and check in advance to reserve a spot (if possible).
For large dogs, have a crate and get information on when they can fly if you plan to evacuate elsewhere via air. There are times when the climate may be too warm for an animal to be allowed to fly.
For additional information on disaster planning, national organizations like The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Humane Association and others can provide helpful information.
Amy said animals mean "everything" to her. Horses have their own personalities and provide exercise that gets you outside while dogs make you happy no matter how "crummy" things are. They are an extraordinary "spiritual" link in our lives whom we enjoy as fun partners and grieve when they pass.
In defining animal rights, Amy talked about never seeing them abused and a stated commitment. "As human beings we have to make sure animals are well fed, well vaccinated, well protected and are never used for any malign or sadistic behavior. They should be a lifelong commitment and one each potential "b.p.f." must understand before making it."
Diosa's story expresses how worthwhile life is because of friends and family experiences. Diosa has taught Amy the philosophy of let life come to you. Horses have come to her in a very powerful and positive way.
In Diosa's words, "I love my life and all the exciting places I've been to. I also like looking forward to all the new places I haven't even dreamt of going yet. Somehow, I know our journey will continue in the mystical, magical road it has traveled. When life gets a little too dangerous for me, I try to stay calm and remember that there is a bigger, better plan, and things happen for a reason. Life is a love story if only you let it be one. Please take care of our planet and all of us so that we can take the best possible care of you."
You heard it right from the horse's mouth. We can learn so much from the wisdom and compassion of animals. Are you listening Mr. Lasseter (at Disney) or Mr. Spielberg (at DreamWorks)? Are you listening world?
This column is dedicated to Diosa's friend Max who is now roaming the green pastures in heaven, but will never be forgotten by those who loved him here on earth.