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It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

The road to adoption came to us in the form of an 10-month-old, 8-pound, white “ferocious” fluff ball of a sweetheart named Luna…aka Luna Love ❤️.

We had long wanted to bring a second dog into our home, but the timing and circumstances just weren’t right…until it was. 

We knew that part of our moving from San Pancho to San Miguel de Allende would include welcoming another sentient being of love into our home, and without a doubt, a rescue.

Luna and her brother had belonged to a family who unfortunately could no longer afford to feed them. Thankfully, they did the right thing and took them to a vet’s office rather than abandoning them on the street. The veterinarian notified a woman here in SMA who is very involved in dog rescues and fostering, and viola (serendipity and luck), Luna and The O’Grady Family’s paths crossed!

We had four fun-filled home day visits with Luna including one sleepover—pillows, blankets, chew toys and all–required by her very careful and loving foster Mother, who without hesitation selected us to be Luna’s family upon seeing the love we had for her, and she for us.

Luna Love is a such a gift. She reminds us daily of the importance of staying in the moment and honoring the natural rhythm of life. Who doesn’t want to have their tummy rubbed, take multiple naps, hang out in the garden to watch the birds, and listen to the sounds of Mother Nature?

Thank you Luna, for the gift of you ❤️

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

I asked my son Liam, “what was the best part of and greatest lesson from Luna”. Wide-eyed and thoughtful, he said, “Mama, that anything is possible.” 

Yes, son, it is.

It was an interesting adjustment for Seamus, our then 90-pound, 7-year-old chocolate lab…RIP. He was walking around with a ball in his mouth, wondering what all of this meant for him. Was she a friend, a replacement, his competition? Why could Luna sit in Mom’s lap and he couldn’t? I could see him wondering if he was no longer the only reigning furry family member in Casa O’Grady…what in the world is going on, his expression spoke to me.

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Seamus will always be my Big Brown Bear King. It was now time for us to welcome a Queen into our home–and a pint-sized one at that! A love of a Gentle Giant, I knew that Seamus would accept Luna into his heart as he did with every other living being he met, small and large alike. You, Seamus, could never ever be replaced.



Life indeed changed for Seamus, but for the better. Normally an outside dog because of his size and the fact that our daughter is allergic, his allowed inside space expanded and I found myself doing more and more sweeping! The Roomba has been one of my greatest saviors in this pet and human parenting gig, lol! 

Tiny water bowl inside for Luna? Seamus got one too. Novelty toys the foster mom brought over for Luna? Seamus’s toys too. Extra attention (yes, more than normal!) for Seamus to equal all of the hugs and kisses Luna was getting? Absolutely! I became a dog’s slobber toy. Luna’s 8-pound kisses were one thing, but I now felt obligated to let Seamus lather me with his big slobbery love more than I normally did. For sure I was ready for a good shower at the end of the day! #itsadogslife

We went to the pet store and bought Seamus the world’s largest bone…a conciliatory gift of sorts to comfort his questioning heart at this time of transition. 

We made sure Seamus knew that he was loved like always, and that the addition of Luna to our family only had benefits for him!

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

We bought Luna her own pack of pint-sized chew bones, but she was more interested in Seamus’s–imagine that, little bugger!

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

It’s a Dog’s Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️:

1. Slow down, look at the birds, smell the flowers, study the bugs, take a nap in the sun

2. Don’t take things too seriously–laugh everyday, be silly, be playful, have fun

3. Nothing is more important than friendship, communion, community and family

4. Cultivate and nurture your friendships, value the love in your life

5. Live in the moment, take it all in–it’s your here and your now that really matters

6. There is always more room in your heart for love and happiness

7. Love your tribe without restraint and unconditionally

Luna is a true gift to us. I have a distinct feeling that we are to her as well. ☘️

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Luna Love seeing snow for the first time in Utah

It's a Dog's Life~Lessons from Luna Love ❤️

Adopt A Dog in SMA:

If you will be relocating to or even just visiting San Miguel de Allende (or any other region of Mexico), there are plenty of fur babies looking for a loving home. No doubt you too have space for more fun and joy in your life. 

Contacting Yo ❤️ Animalitos is one of many ways to bring some more love, fun and laughter into your home. 



*Protect yourself and your loved ones with Carbon Monoxide Detectors for both home and travel *




Granddaughter of Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, the story of why my husband, our 8-year old-twins and I decided to immigrate to Mexico in 2012 from the States is one that I am compelled to tell. 

Burnt out on the consumerist, rat-race grind of life in Southern California, we left San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of our “essential belongings” after having sold, donated, gifted and tossed the rest. 

Our remaining earthly treasures included every lego known to mankind, our twins’ organic mattresses, a large-screened tv and the bicycles you can see hanging off the back of our boat! Our 95-pound chocolate lab Seamus rode in the back seat right behind Frank, panting and slobbering in excitement on the entire 4-day drive down!

A sight to see we were, something like a scene from the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies! 


Growing up a half an hour away from the San Diego-Tijuana Border gifted me with a bilingual-bicultural upbringing and hence an ability to move easily between both worlds. Communicating in both Spanish and English at school, work and play has always been my norm since I was a very little girl.

I have always had a profound love and respect for Mexico–for her people, her magic and her fervent sense of community. I value and treasure the freedom and safety I feel immersed in Mexico’s rich culture. 

With my parents working outside of the home in their careers as Psychologist and School Teacher, MariaElena (our co-CEO of the family) was a blessing of a second mother to me. She cared for me as if I was her own until the age of five when my parent’s painful yet necessary parting of ways took us away from each other.

It was with MarieElena, that the template of my life was established–a life destined to be immersed in Mexico and with her people. Crossing the border as a teenager in the 80’s to go clubbing in Tijuana or to head further down south to Puerto Nuevo for lobster and off-roading in the sand dunes formed a huge part of the tapestry of my youth.

My husband Frank and I leased a 30 by 60 piece of sand in Bahia de Los Angeles where our twins Mairead and Liam spent many a barefoot vacation enjoying freedom and discovery to their heart’s content. 

Granddaughter of A Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

“Big Joe”, Former Chief of US-Mexico Border

Dressed in his signature crisp-collared Oxford shirt, ironed slacks and shiny leather shoes no matter the occasion, my “Big Joe” as we affectionately referred to him, was a thoughtful, bright, witty gentleman with no time or concern for nonsense. His words were concise and powerful, leaving an echo in the rooms in which they were spoken. 

My relationship and time spent with my Grandfather was one of the most significant influences in my love for and connection to Mexico. 

He modeled such a deep respect and brotherhood for our south of the border neighbors, that I too could not help but fall in love with a land and a people so magnificently rich in corazón y alma (heart and soul).

Sitting in his living room overlooking Mission Bay, he would speak to me of his many adventures, of his life on our family’s dairy farm in Chula Vista, of the beautiful horses in his care, and how at the age of 14 he left his home to become a cowboy on the last ranch that spanned the US-American border. 

Family historians share with me that he was considered the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” by warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ultimately ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

I would listen in awe, taking mental notes of these sacred conversations, knowing that I was bearing witness to a living history book. 

My Grandpa Joe was as tough as nails and lived his life to the fullest until the age of 94.

Chief of US/Mexico Border

A Living History Book

We would drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends for an early dinner at El Nido and I would marvel with pride and joy at my Grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures. Sitting in front of the open, wood-fired oven where quail, whole potatoes and lobster tails would cook, my Grandpa turned the ordinary into magic.

His affinity for conversation, his charisma, thoughtful ways and sharp sense of humor made for a dynamic that simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I was lucky enough to be his granddaughter. 

Granddaughter of A Former Chief of US-Mexico Border Immigrates to Mexico

Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so very proud that I had chosen to go into a line of work that shares the beauty of the Spanish language and culture with the youth of today. 

Life in Mexico

I thank my beloved Grandfather for setting the bar high, for leading by example and showing me a love and respect for Mexico that is forever imprinted in my heart and has forever changed the trajectory of my life.

Life in Mexico WAKES you up from whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention and participating in a life of design.

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking my family in, for welcoming us with open arms. These past ten years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it. 

!Viva México!


Looking for an excellent read on US-Mexico Border Relations? Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and The United States Together  



*Protect yourself and your loved ones with Carbon Monoxide Detectors for both home and travel*





Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

 ⇑This is definitely not normal–or at least not my kind of normal. 

I can remember being stuck in that kind of mind-numbing traffic in our former Southern California lives–anxiously and impatiently tapping my fingers on the steering wheel trying to get from point A to B, moving along inch by inch, so fed up with that being the “norm”–knowing in my heart that it didn’t have to be and feeling so ready for a change.  

Breathing in toxic exhaust fumes and missing out on more meaningful engagement in life–on hold in hours of bottleneck traffic–was not how my husband and I wanted to spend our precious, once-in-a-lifetime lives together with our children.

Being married to a firefighter who witnessed up close the extreme fragility of life was without a doubt a significant contributing factor to our decision to recreate our lives anew in Mexico–a land that embraces community, connection, conversation and a quality of life having nothing to do with the numbers in your bank account. 

After several years of research, planning and downsizing, on November 30th of 2012, our eight-year-old twins and I boarded a one-way flight to Puerto Vallarta while Frank and our 90-pound chocolate lab, Seamus, made the 4-day trip down South by car.

We said adiós to the frenetic paradigm of our north of the border lives. No more disconnection, traffic rush, hurry scurry, worry flurry…no more concrete jungle and burning candles on both ends.

Moving to Mexico with Kids

Since moving to Mexico 10 years ago, we have gone from chaotic 5-lane freeway madness to driving on  coconut-tree lined roads and 16th-century cobblestone streets where pedestrian safety and right of way is a real thing. We have traded in mind-numbing, lost hours in the car to purposeful engagement in soul-enriching, meaningful activities of our choice.

Time is precious. Spend it well.

Daughter Horseback riding in San Pancho

Baja California, Our First Mexico Home

Our twins were seasoned little travelers prior to our move to mainland Mexico, having spent the first eight years of their lives adventuring back and forth between San Diego and Baja California. Frank’s firefighter schedule and my school teacher’s allowed us blocks of time off together as a family and we took full advantage of them to head South!

Mairead and Liam fondly referred to their Baja home as their “other home” and Mexico forever became ingrained in my children’s hearts as a place of fun, discovery and family connection. 

Departure Day

Aside from the inevitable emotion of parting ways with our loved ones, the move itself and the preparations leading up to our departure from San Diego were relatively easy and something we were so ready for

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

We made the move when Liam and Mairead were eight years old, during the middle of their third-grade year. Patience, planning and having the right legal Visa liaison at our side paid off and within three months of our arrival, we became Permanent Residents of Mexico. We arrived in San Pancho, Nayarit on a Friday, and that following Monday our previously homeschooled twins began their first ever five-day-a-week program at the former Escuela del Mundo. Surrounded by tropical trees and open green space, they experienced freedom and discovery like never before.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

While the Spanish immersion of their new school was a bit of an initial challenge for The Reds, they acclimated rather quickly, having been exposed to Spanish in a border city and by their Spanish-Teacher Mama for the first eight years of their life in San Diego. Even without that advantage, children’s sponge-like brains, when given the opportunity, are able to assimilate and adapt with great ease.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

I do believe they were the only Mairead and Liam their classmates had ever met, and their new friends and teachers warmly accepted them and made great efforts at learning and pronouncing their unique, Celtic names.

Schooling, From San Pancho to Sayulita

From Escuela del Mundo, Mairead and Liam transferred to Costa Verde International in Sayulita, Nayarit—a neighboring village just 10 minutes down the jungle road, famous for its bohemian, surf culture. Moving to another school was indeed another change and adjustment for our children, but one that they embraced wholeheartedly with the trusting, positive attitudes that they approach life with.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

Located a few blocks from the beach, Costa Verde is a bilingual, multi-cultural school that focuses on environmental sustainability and the advancement of ecological responsibility…and surfing! In fact, surfing was part of their PE program!

Now in the 4th grade, Mairead and Liam continued to explore, discover and develop their own sense of community and connection within the larger context of our family’s move to Mexico. Their language skills progressed and improved to where at this point, a year or so into our relocation, they could easily flip back and forth between English and Spanish.

From Coastal Mexico to Central Mexico

After a year and a half of living in San Pancho, we were ready to experience another part of Mexico and set our compasses on something completely different. Sight unseen but with lots of research, we moved to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in the interior of the country.

San Miguel de Allende was the first municipality to be declared independent from Spanish rule and life here is steeped in history, culture, national pride with one festivity after another

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

A Life Without Limits

Our children see a life without limits, that anything is possible, that dreams do come true and that carving one’s way in this diverse world is achievable. They have witnessed their parents reinvent themselves from Firefighter and Teacher to Solar Designer and Freelance Writer/Relocation Specialist. They have gone from being monolingual homeschoolers to bilingual life learners.

Moving to Mexico with Children

If one of my jobs as a Mother is to facilitate and nurture the emotional well-being and development of my children, then moving to Mexico with our kids has been one great step towards that endeavor.

We O’Gradys embrace our re-invented, re-inspired lives south of the border and give daily thanks for Mexico’s warmth, hospitality, graciousness, and generosity…for welcoming, adopting and inviting us to feel truly at home. Moving to Mexico has been an undeniable adventure that continues to shape the trajectory of our individual and collective lives. 


Moving to Mexico With Kids, A Father’s Perspective

For information about Moving to Mexico with Kids and my one-on-one, personalized, customized Relocation Services, feel free to email me at losogradysinmexico@gmail.com

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*Protect yourself and your loved ones with an Expat Travel Insurance Policy (short & long term) & Carbon Monoxide Detectors for both home and travel *


Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

 “To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.” ~Hermione Gingold

Similar to a few of my other difficult-to-write pieces: Living with Life-Threatening Food Allergies, A Story of Hope, Spinal Surgery in Mexico~From Wheelchair to Walking and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning~The Silent Killer, this story will be not just hard, but heartbreaking, for me to put into print.

But I must.

I owe it to Seamus, to our family and to our children to honor his memory and legacy, to memorialize this sentient being that was so much more than “just a dog”…to tell his story.

This is my tribute to you, Seamies…

Seamus, My 38th Birthday Gift!

Our three-year-old twins Mairead and Liam were just starting to sleep through the night when my husband Frank surprised me with the grandest 38th birthday gift of all–a chocolate lab puppy! Working as a firefighter and away from home for days and sometimes weeks on end, he wanted to bring a gentle dog with a big bark into our family.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Living in San Diego at the time, we traveled up to Bonsall for the four required visits, until at last, at 9-weeks old, we were able to bring Seamus home to begin his life as an O’Grady!                                      

Fate Smiled at Destiny

Seamus was from a litter of nine chocolate, roly poly, running, jumping, kissing, wagging balls of Labrador love. While it was difficult to pick just one, serendipity was at play as Seamus chose us, and we him.

He buried himself in between our twin toddler’s car seats on the way home, butt up, tail wagging incessantly, coming up for many slobbery kisses, only to return again quickly to his chosen position.

Although Liam and Mairead were a bit overwhelmed and cautious at first with this energetic, playful, new presence in their lives (that quickly became and surpassed their size!) the three of them became the best of buddies in no time at all.


Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)


Honoring our Irish heritage and love of traditional Celtic names, ‘Seamus‘ was ever-so-fitting for this handsome, destined-to-be addition to our O’Grady family. My dinner time calls would now be “Mairead…Liam, Seamus”…

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

They say you can approximate the adult size of a puppy by its paws. At 9 weeks old, Seamus’s were huge and by 6 months he was practically full grown, knocking over everything in his path with that big tail and chewing through all of our shoes one by one.

Famous Seamus Immigrates to Mexico

Seamus moved to Mexico with us when he was five years old, making the four-day drive South, drooling the entire car ride down on the back of Frank’s neck.

From San Diego to San Pancho and San Miguel de Allende to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle–with many Stateside and Baja trips in between–Seamus lived an amazingly full and adventurous life! He was a well-traveled dog with a 12-year life story that contained plenty of fun and shenanigans.


Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Our Gentle Giant

If you were ever lucky enough to be in the presence of this Gentle Giant, you would have known what a special, wise, kind soul he was…a noble gentleman, a comedian, a loyal playmate, a never-do-harm pup with a heart of gold. 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Born a water dog, Seamus’s favorite place in the world was the ocean. That, and being with his family…especially in the ocean.


Seamus Gets A Sister

Seamus wasn’t what one would call a lap dog (we never told him that), weighing in at 95 pounds of slobbery love! We not only wanted him to have a canine companion, but also for our children to experience the gift of adoption and the taking in of another sentient being–this time a much smaller one.

Seamus had been an “only dog” for the first seven years of his life and while he was initially excited to have what he thought was a temporary playdate in Luna, he went through a period of acting rather concerned about this new addition to our family, bringing me more treats and toys than the norm.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

Seamus soon realized that Luna Love had a permanent status in The O’Grady Clan and that he now needed to share the attention, walks, toys and pats on the head.

He handled it like the noble gentleman he was and graciously welcomed Luna Love  into his family with lots of kisses, love barks and tail chasing around our yard!

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

What Happened?

Our sweet boy had battled skin ailments most his life–made worse in the jungle heat–and in the last year of his life had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism for which he was receiving treatment. In spite of those real challenges, he was a very happy, active boy…a sweet, lovable lab. While he was in his senior years at almost 12, he surprisingly did not have any joint or musculature issues. In fact, on one of our stateside trips, Seamus had a thorough check-up including a head to toe x-ray whereupon the vet stated that he had the bones of a 5-year-old dog! We were grateful to know that he wasn’t suffering from the hip issues that lots of large breed dogs normally do. 

On the Sunday morning before Valentine’s Day 2019, instead of being greeted by my normally goofy and happy pup, I found him sitting sideways at the top of our back door steps, clearly in discomfort and not interested in eating at all.

He looked up at me with sadness in his eyes, turned away and laid his head back down. My heart was in my throat, knowing that something was seriously wrong with my boy. 

I went outside to get a better look and saw that his left hind leg was swollen and retracted, unable to stand or walk unassisted.

What had happened???

Was he stung by a scorpion? Did he somehow fall, twist or break his leg? Was he bitten by a snake?

My mind went through all of the possibilities of what could have happened to Seamus, who just one day before seemed fine on his afternoon walk. While he was slowing down, he was still mobile and always up for some playtime at the beach.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)


Seeing my big, sweet boy in obvious distress and pain, trying to navigate those 95 pounds on three legs, was heartbreaking, to say the least.

We took Seamus to the vet, fearing that our day had arrived or was soon in sight, but Dr. Jorge said to give it a few days with anti-inflammatory injections and oral meds at home. And so we did, willing to do anything to give him some more time with us–as long as it was free from pain and suffering.

Dr. Jorge ruled out any venomous poisoning or bone break, conjecturing that Seamus might have tripped and fallen and therefore perhaps sprained his leg, but to me, it seemed to be much more serious.

A Mother’s Intuition

I knew in my heart that we likely weren’t going to come out of this one with dry eyes or intact hearts, even for as much as I wanted to deny the reality right in front of us.

Over the next several days, Seamus continued to suffer and decline. His breathing became labored, he lost interest in eating, could not relieve himself without assistance, and then began to hemorrhage.

We knew it was time. Time to do only what love propels you to do. Time to do the right thing. Time to do the humane thing. Time to release Seamus from the physical condition that now held his body captive in pain with no apparent hope of improvement.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

In a “perfect world” or a “best case scenario”, maybe Seamus would have passed in his sleep. But life and death are not so neat and tidy and they certainly have their own timeline.

I believe that Seamus wanted us to each have our own individual and then our together time as a family to say our goodbyes, and we did.

Thank you, Seamus, for the gift of you…thank you for picking Valentine’s Day, a day of love and friendship, as your day to transition from one energy form to another. Thank you for the undeniable impact you have forever left on our hearts. 

Rainbow Bridge, Valentine’s Day 2019

I laid with Seamus throughout the day, in those last hours with my sweet boy in this realm between life and death.

I brought him warm, lavender infused towels from the dryer and sang, talked, laughed and cried with him–telling him all of the funny stories about his life as a 9-week-old puppy up to now, this very moment as my senior pup, hours before his rainbow crossing. I named all of the people and animals that loved him, each and every one by their first name. He looked at me with acknowledgment and understanding, hugged me, wrapped his paws around my arms, smiled, snorted and slobbered with all the energy he could muster up. Noble and gallant to the very end, my gentle giant.

I asked Frank to bring home the largest bone he could find, but Seamus was not interested in it at all.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

We picked our children up after school, came home to get Seamus, and the five of us drove to the vet’s office for our 4:00 appointment, nothing but the sounds of stifled sniffles and Seamus’s panting audible in the car. 

To say that the next few hours, days, weeks, months, (and yes, now even years) were profoundly painful  for our family would be an understatement. We each lost a huge part of our hearts and lives that fateful day, knowing however that the memory and love of our Famous Seamus will always be present with us no matter where we go. 

From my husband Frank:

Our dog Seamus had to leave us this afternoon.
If there were ever a dog to represent unconditional love he was it.
He taught me many lessons regarding being happy in a moment. I do and will miss him mightily. 
I hear the ocean outside my window, and I feel his physical absence palpably…but, I know he is free from that pain he tolerated with no complaint and he is happy and at peace.
He grew up with my babies, he was one of our babies, he was part of our O’Grady Tribe. I am so grateful to be part of a family that stayed with him until the end, grateful to Dr. Jorge at Pets and Vets in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for his sincere compassion and care and his tenderness not only with Seamus but with us. My hope is that we can all carry forward a bit some love, tolerance and compassion in this oftentimes hard world we live in. I have to say that I marvel at the strength of our children.
They were with Seamus until the end…laying with him on the floor of the vet’s office, giving him their hearts and love with hugs, petting and no shortage of tears until well after his heart stopped beating.
Seamus died literally surrounded with love and touches…and touches and love were what he lived for.
My family, Seamus included, give me reason to marvel every day.
It is beautiful outside and I will reflect on Seamus’s life, my children, Liam and Mairead, my amazing wife Katie and us as the family we are often throughout this day.
Peace and love to all of you.

Farewell our Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant

We had Seamus cremated and released his ashes into the ocean blue, his favorite playground.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

On this particular day, in this particular spot out in the middle of Bahía de Banderas, there were both whales and dolphins gathered together, splashing and playing around. We knew Seamus would be in good company here.

Seamus, my precious Chocolate Lab and best furry gift ever, you will always be our Gentle Giant, our Guardian Angel, our Big Brown Bear…a part of our hearts and family forever. 

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

The Cycle of Life

The life and and death of our Famous Seamus is a powerful reminder of the transient nature of life, that all things have their time and place…their beginning and their end. Life is a precious and fragile gift.

That same puppy face that we saw the first day we met Seamus in 2007 was the very same puppy face we kissed goodbye as Seamus took his last breath on Valentine’s Day, 2019.

Famous Seamus, Our Gentle Giant (A Tale of A Sentient Chocolate Lab)

“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk to me as if I were
beside you.
I loved you so…
‘Twas heaven here with you.”

~Isla Paschal Richardson

Love hurts, love extracts her price and stretches our hearts in unimaginable ways, changes the mosaic and trajectory of who we are.

Lucky are we to experience it in its fullest, most unconditional form. 

Feelings of profound sadness and loss don’t go away on their own, if ever at all. Expressing them with the written word is one of the ways in which I choose to process through them…to journey through the waves of deep mourning to arrive to where only memories of laughter, adventure, kisses and warm, furry snuggles remain…that is my hope. 

RIP My King. We Love You Forever and A Day…




*Protect yourself and your loved ones with Carbon Monoxide Detectors *



While we consider ourselves to be fairly seasoned travelers and informed citizens of this thing called life, never once did we think that packing a carbon monoxide detector would be an essential and life-saving item in our travel preparedness until tragedy struck and my retired firefighter husband was poisoned by carbon monoxide at a “boutique hotel” in Lake Chapala, Mexico in 2017.

After dropping our children off at their much-anticipated 6th grade camp outside of Guadalajara, my husband and I set out to enjoy our weekend together, knowing that our twins would be in the good hands and company of their camp counselors and classmates and that we would get to enjoy some time together.

Never would we have imagined that instead of spending our weekend sightseeing and relaxing, that we would spend it instead fighting for Frank’s life at in Emergency Room in downtown Guadalajara. 

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

How could such a thing happen? 

Do mistakes and bad things happen? Absolutely.

So does gross negligence.

After working at his computer for several hours next to an open window in our hotel room (where just on the other side of it, was–unbeknownst to us–a malfunctioning, carbon monoxide leaking hot water heater), Frank, upon standing up, was overcome by severe visual disturbances, full-body weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty speaking, extreme nausea and a ghost-like pale color to his skin.

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Confirmation

To recount what those time-standing-still minutes and moments were like, waiting for the Red Cross to arrive and load my nearly lifeless husband up onto the gurney, is a memory that words escape and that I can only hope and pray will one day stop haunting us.

Confirmation by the hotel itself that in fact two carbon monoxide leaks had been found in the hot water heater outside our bedroom window, together with all of Frank’s symptoms, hospital diagnostics and treatment, verified that carbon monoxide poisoning was in fact the culprit—something that a simple and affordable installation of a CO detector would have easily prevented, not to mention proper checks and maintenance of the hot water heater by the hotel management and owners themselves.

Shameful, careless and deadly, to say the least. 

Only removal from the carbon monoxide itself and immediate medical intervention with continuous high-saturation oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber would save Frank’s life. Friends from Vallarta showed up at the ER to help us in any way they could and I will forever ever remember and be eternally grateful for their loving kindness in one of the darkest times of our lives.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning~The Silent Killer

As a result of this terrifying experience, where my husband’s life was spared (not all are), we now ALWAYS travel with carbon monoxide detectors as well as outfit our home with them. We have CO alarms in each of our bedrooms and next to any gas-supplied appliances–i.e. the stove, clothes dryer and hot water heater. Even if your hot water heater is outside the house, it is highly advisable to have a CO monitor in close proximity to where it is located, as well as check it periodically for proper functioning. 

Please protect yourself and your loved ones with CO alarms for both home and travel safety; it is such a simple and affordable measure to protect yourself and loved ones. Carbon monoxide is silent, odorless, and cannot be seen or heard. The first sign of poisoning is usually severe illness, or worse, death. 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If one is suddenly overcome with nausea, headache, vision disturbances, confusion and other mind-boggling symptoms, consider a CO exposure and get OUT of the room/building ASAP (and to a medical facility) until authorities can perform necessary tests, repairs and assure that the area is safe to return to.

Don’t rely on the hotel, vacation rental, airbnb or even a loved one’s home where you might be visiting to have done the proper and required maintenance checks of all gas-fueled appliances. Simply bring your own CO monitors for your and your loved one’s safety and peace of mind.

*Carbon monoxide is silent, odorless and tasteless*

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer!

I hope this information saves just one life. Please share it with your friends, family, workplace and community. 

Get your CO monitors today and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery replacement and equipment checks.

With gratitude for this one precious life,

~Katie O’Grady






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