Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Arctic Secret

Last year, John and I wrote a story for our Christmas card that told the story of a polar bear cub stranded on an ice floe, and how a dog named Bailey (based on our dog, Bailey) comes to his rescue.

We had no idea at the time that our story would ring so alarmingly true just a month and a half later.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that a female polar bear swam 426 miles over a nine-day period in freezing waters with her cub to find a piece of ice to settle on. Unlike our story, the cub didn't make it.

There is no doubt that the Arctic waters are becoming too warm and ice is becoming too scarce.

There is still time to help these beautiful animals.  Together, we can help save the Polar Bears.

And we would love to share our story with you:


Once upon a time, a little dog named Bailey was taking a nap under the Christmas tree.

Bailey was a Tibetan Spaniel.  His ancestors used to guard monasteries in Tibet.  There were no monasteries to guard in New York City, so Bailey did what he could in the apartment.  He liked to think he was guarding the presents under the tree, but really it was just a comfy place to nap.  Bailey was the King of Comfy.

Suddenly, there was a noise.  His ear flipped up.  He opened one eye.  Nothing.  His ear and eye closed.  Then he heard it again!  Both eyes and ears flew opened.

He sat straight up, hitting his head on a low-hanging ornament.  “Terribly sorry,” said Bailey to the ornament, which was a sparkly pink seahorse.

“That’s all right,” said Sparkle.  “But be careful – I’m fragile.”

Bailey settled back down beneath the tree when he heard the sound one more time.  It sounded like . . . whimpering.  Whimpering that was far, far away.

“Where could that be coming from?” said Bailey.

The seahorse listened.  “Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s coming from the Arctic.”

“The Arctic?” said Bailey.  “How far away is that?”

“About a million miles,” said Sparkle.

“Can I get there on the subway?”

“You might have to transfer,” said Sparkle.

The whimpering started up again.  Bailey knew he had to do something . . . and fast.

“I’m going to find that,” he said.

Sparkle swung off his branch and landed on Bailey’s back.

“I’m coming with you,” said Sparkle.  “You’ll need my help.”

“Do you know where the Arctic is?”

“We’ll Google Map it,” said Sparkle.  “Let’s go!”

Bailey went to the front door.  He sat on his hind legs and turned the lock to the left.  Then he took the doorknob in his mouth and turned it to the right.  The door opened.  He walked through and pulled it behind him with his paw.

“Do your mommy and daddy know you leave the apartment like that?” said Sparkle.

"No." said Bailey.  “It would only worry them.”

They went down six flights of stairs, then out the front door.  Bailey stood on the curb and put his paw up in the cold New York air.

“What are you doing?” said Sparkle.

“Hailing a cab.”

“Won’t that be impossible?”

“It’s only impossible at 5:00, when the drivers are all changing their shifts –”

“I mean, won’t it be impossible for a dog?”

Bailey lifted an eyebrow.  “Nothing is ever impossible for a dog.”

A cab pulled up.  The door opened. Bailey and Sparkle got in.

“My friend thinks it’s hard for a dog to get a cab,” said Bailey.

“Ha ha, that’s a good one,” said the cab driver, who wore a cap.  His driver’s license identified him as a Great Dane.

The cab was a green cab, using no fuel, as it ran on Great Dane power.  The cab drove them to LaGuardia Airport and let them off at an airline run by poodles called Jet Poo.

“Not the best name,” said Sparkle.

“But they have the best prices,” said Bailey.

As they boarded the plane, Bailey could hear the whimpering again, clearer, stronger.  “I hope we get there in time,” he said.

“We will,” said Sparkle.  “If there’s one thing poodles know – it’s keeping appointments. They’re always getting their hair done.”

After the plane was aloft and the pilot had retracted the landing paws ,Bailey enjoyed a meal of beef and lamb stew.  Sparkle had assorted small crustaceans.  But the flight seemed to take forever.  Bailey tried to sleep but he kept hearing the whimpering.

Whoever was crying was in desperate need of Bailey’s help.

Finally the plane landed.  “Thanks for flying Jet Poo,” said the labradoodle flight attendant.  “We know you have a choice and we appreciate your flying with us.”

Bailey and Sparkle got out of the plane.  As far as the eye could see was snow and ice.

“This is it, Sparkle,” said Bailey.  “The Arctic Circle.”  They heard the whimpering even louder now.

Suddenly, a St. Bernard bounded up to them.  “Can I take you somewhere?” he said.  “My name is Bernard.”

“St. Bernard?” said Sparkle.

“No, just Bernard,” said the St. Bernard.  “But I get that a lot.  You can call me Bernie.”

“Sure,” said Bailey.  “Follow that sound, Bernie!”

Bailey and Sparkle hopped onto Bernie’s back.  He lumbered across the vast, white plain, toward the whimpering, which was growing louder and louder.

They came to the edge of what looked like a shore.  Actually, it was where ice was melting.  They saw an ocean spread out in front of them.  Way off in the distance was a little white speck.  The whimpering seemed to be coming from there.

“This is where I stop,” said Bernie.  “The ocean is out of my jurisdiction.”

“But I have to keep going,” said Bailey.  “I can dog paddle out there.  But how will I keep from freezing?”

“Don’t worry,” said Sparkle.  “I’m not a seahorse for nothing, you know.  I have connections all over the undersea world.”

Sparkle hopped onto Bailey and they went out into the icy water.

“Brr,” said Bailey, as he dog paddled.  Sparkle jumped off of Bailey’s back and was gone for a few minutes.  Then he jumped back on.

Bailey said, “Hey! It’s warmer now!”

“I have some beluga whales swirling around down there,” said Sparkle.  “They’re churning the water up so it’s more comfortable for you.”

The whimpering was very loud now.

They swam and swam and swam.  The white speck was getting bigger.  It was an ice floe! A very small one.  Right in the middle of it was a whimpering polar bear cub.

“Hi there!” said Bailey.  “I’m Bailey and this is Sparkle.”

“Thank goodness you’re here!” said the bear.  “My name is Dakota.”

“What’s the matter, Dakota?” said Bailey.

“I’m separated from my mom,” said Dakota.  “She must be worried sick about me on shore.”

“That’s just where we’re going!” said Bailey.  “Hop on!”

Dakota jumped on Bailey’s back.  They went back into the water and Sparkle contacted his beluga whale friends.

Bailey swam and swam.  The trip back was more tiring, since he now was carrying a polar bear.  Sparkle swam beneath them, talking with the whales.

Finally, they reached the shore.  Dakota jumped off Bailey’s back and Sparkle jumped on. He turned to a beluga whale, who had stuck his head out of the water.

“Thanks!” said Sparkle.  “I owe you one.”

“Don’t mention it,” said the beluga whale.

Bailey, Sparkle and Dakota walked across the ice, around what looked like craggy rocks made of ice and snow.  They didn’t see anyone.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a loud roar.  A polar bear was standing on its hind legs, gnashing its teeth and waving brandishing its claws.

“Mom!” said Dakota.  Then to Bailey and Sparkle he said, “Don’t worry.  She always gets like this when she gets excited.”

The mother polar bear bounded over to them and scooped up Dakota.  “My boy!” she said. “I’m so glad to see you!”

“These are my friends,” said Dakota.  “Bailey and Sparkle.  They came all the way from New York City to save me!”

“Thank you so much,” said the mom.  “My name is Ursa.  How can I ever repay you?”

“Don’t worry about that,” said Bailey.  “Is there anything else we can do for you?”

“I wish there was,” said Ursa, who was cradling Dakota in her arms.  “I’m afraid the same thing that happened to Dakota may happen again.”

“What do you mean?” said Sparkle.

“The ice cap is melting,” said Ursa.  “Ice floes are breaking off into smaller and smaller pieces.  Dakota and I were on one that broke in two.  He drifted off, but when I swam to him, I couldn’t get my paws up on the floe.  So he drifted off to sea.”

“We’ll tell everyone about the melting ice,” said Bailey.

“It’s because of global warming,” said Sparkle.  “Even ornaments know that.”

“Some people don’t believe in global warming,” said Bailey.

“Some people don’t believe what’s right in front of them,” said Ursa.

Bailey and Sparkle took in the wondrous, winter landscape.  It was the most beautiful place they’d ever seen.

“We’ll do our best,” said Bailey.  “But first we have to get home.”

* * * * *

Bailey and Sparkle were sitting in their seats on Jet Poo.  “Another bowl of water, please,” said Bailey to the flight attendant.

“More crustaceans, too,” said Sparkle.

“I hope we get home before Meredith and John realize we were gone,” said Bailey.

“I hope we get home before the other ornaments realize we were gone,” said Sparkle.  “I don’t want to lose my branch on the Christmas tree.”

They made it back to New York in record time.  With Sparkle holding on for dear life, Bailey raced up the stairs.  They were at the front door.

“Quick, let’s go inside!” said Sparkle.

Bailey’s paws were flying every which way.  “I can’t find my keys!”

Suddenly they heard a sound.  People were coming up the stairs!

“Wait ’til Bailey sees this,” said a woman’s voice.

“He’ll love it!” replied a man’s voice.

“That’s your mom and dad!” said Sparkle.

“I know!” said Bailey.  “Where are those keys?!”

The voices got closer and closer.

Finally, just in time, Bailey found the key.  He struggled, but opened the front door.  He ran inside and pulled the door behind him.  He tore across the foyer, zoomed down the hallway and flew across the living room, where he dove under the Christmas tree.

The tree wobbled dangerously as Sparkle leaped onto his favorite branch.

“Where have you been?” said a seashell ornament.

“Ssh!” said Sparkle.

Bailey curled up and closed his eyes.  John and Meredith entered the apartment.  His heart pounding, he let out a fake yawn just as they came into the room.

“Where’s Bailey?” said John.

“There he is!” said Meredith.  “He’s so sleepy!”

Bailey pretended to shake himself awake.  One eye was half-open.  One ear was flipped over on top of his head.

Bailey stretched, then groggily walked up to them and covered them in kisses.

“Look what I have for you!” said Meredith.  “Your Christmas present!”

Bailey had almost forgotten it was Christmas.

Meredith took something out of a bag and handed to Bailey.  It was a white stuffed animal. A polar bear cub!

Bailey sniffed the stuffed animal.  He took it in his mouth.  Usually he would start growling and playing with a toy like that.  But this one reminded him of Dakota.  So he placed it next to him under the tree.

“Do you think he likes it?” said Meredith.

“I’m sure he does,” said John.  They left the room.

Bailey looked at the cute little stuffed animal.  Suddenly it winked at him.

“Hi, Bailey!” it said.  “Remember me?”  It wasn’t a stuffed animal at all!

“Dakota!” said Bailey.  “What are you doing here?”

“My mom said you so were so good to me that I should come visit you and help you spread the message about global warming,” said Dakota.

“That’s great!” said Bailey.  “But how did you find my mom and dad? A nd why did they think you’re a stuffed animal?  How?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?”

“Those are all good questions,” said Dakota.  “But for now they’ll have to stay a secret. Let’s just say I had some help from one of your friends.”  He pointed his paw at Sparkle.

“Hey, what are Christmas ornaments for?” said Sparkle.

“I’m so glad,” said Bailey.  “I just wish the beluga whales could be here.”

“I’m working on it,” said Sparkle.  “Believe me, I’m working on it.”

As Bailey, Dakota and Sparkle settled into their favorite Christmas ever, they knew that their real adventure was just beginning . . .

Bailey and the Arctic Secret copyright 2010 by Meredith Forbes and John Marshall. All rights reserved.

Want to help save the Polar Bears?

1) The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is a world leader in Polar Bear Conservation. Learn more about their efforts to save these amazing animals.

2)  The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is doing great work as well!

Get your Polar Action Guide or become a Den Defender.

3) Josie Maran Cosmetics Argan Bear Naked Wipes (Sephora)
Erase your face, not the polar bear race!

Wipe off makeup and dirt nature's way, with a blend of natural and healthy ingredients including aloe vera, cucumber, and vitamin E. Free of fragrance, parabens, and petrochemicals, these luxuriously soft wipes are kind to tender eyes and skin and are biodegradable. Leave your skin feeling nourished and refreshed!

And in support of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Polar Bear SOS initiative, Josie Maran will donate a portion of every package sold to protect these endangered animals.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What You Can Do Water Conservation Challenge

"What You Can Do" is an amazing web series created by my good friend Jessica Arinella and
On The Leesh Productions. She created this project to show people what they can do to 
help change the world in one minute. I was lucky enough to be asked to be a guest blogger
for her Water Conservation Challenge!