Pet Love

You never realize how much you love your pets until they are gone. And I never knew that I could love cats until I lived with two of them.

Before John, I was a bit of a cat-hater (as embarrassing as that is to admit). I thought they were snobby, self-absorbed  and stinky animals. And while some of these can be true, they don’t account for all the other wonderful traits cats have to offer.

My bad attitude towards felines changed quickly when I started dating John. Once things were serious between us, I knew I had no choice but to accept his two cats (Spike and Shadow) as my own.

And then there was Spike — this massive, white, slightly obnoxious cat with nothing but a good heart. At first, I was annoyed by his death-smelling poop and constant need to jump all over our furniture, but as time went on, I learned to appreciate and love him for who he was: a member of our family.

I’ll never forget the days when he would stretch himself on me like a little blanket, always when I was feeling sick or down. Or the nights when he would just chill on the couch with me, content to watch a movie or some TV.

Just a short week ago, we lost Spike. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from complications with surgery. I never could have prepared myself for how awful I felt after hearing the news. I cried for almost two days straight.

After this painful experience, I wasn’t sure I would ever want to take in a new pet again. But John saw things differently. He believed that we should adopt another kitten and offer our home to a pet in need as a way to honour Spike’s legacy and ease some of the pain we were feeling. He also felt it was important to give our other cat, Shadow, a buddy.

On Monday, we made the joint decision to adopt a new kitten, Puddles (pictured below). And tonight, we’d like to introduce her to you.

We already love our sweet kitty, and we can’t thank the Northern Alberta Society for Animal Protection enough for giving us a reason to smile again.

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No One Deserves To Get Scammed

Some use Facebook, others use Twitter, but today, I’m choosing my blog as the main outlet for my frustration and complete lack of trust in the hotel industry. The incident happened a few weeks ago, but every time I think about it, my blood boils with anger.

Please let my story today be a lesson to all of you. Always be cautious, aware and on the look-out for potential scams or fraudulent activity. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, yet it still happened (and is still happening) to me.

So here it is:

In early February, I flew to Arizona with a few of my colleagues at IABC Edmonton to attend a Leadership Institute Conference. This being my first real “business trip,” I was super pumped about it and happy to be spending time with some great people. I was also excited about leaving the cold temperatures of Edmonton behind for some much warmer weather.

The hotel we stayed at (organized through the conference) was the Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas. And let me tell you right now, I will NEVER stay at that hotel or any others in the Hilton chain again.

On the surface, the Hilton seemed like a great place to stay: glamorous-looking, clean rooms, good restaurants. But as it turned out, the customer service was ATROCIOUS. And by atrocious, I’m referring to the $400 worth of “upgrade charges” that magically showed up on my Visa bill AFTER I had checked out from the hotel.

When my colleagues and I initially arrived at the hotel, we inquired about cheaper options for all three of us to stay together in a room. The front end hotel staff told us about their villas. And of course, the first questions we asked were: “Will it be more expensive, and if so, by how much?”

Never once did the hotel staff mention any kind of “upgrade charges.” Yet, after I had checked out from the hotel, $400 worth of said charges showed up on my Visa statement. The important detail to note here is that I never consented to, signed off on or authorized those charges in person or in any other form.

In fact, I had never even SEEN a receipt indicating those charges until March 1, 2013 (over two weeks after I had checked out from the hotel). Unacceptable? Absolutely. Borderline fraud? Without a doubt.

And do you think I have been credited the full amount for those charges? Not a chance. So as a result, I’ve started an investigation with my Visa company which could take up to a month to realize.

My fingers are crossed that I will get that money back. And in the mean time, I’m making sure that the Hilton never receives business again from myself or any of my close contacts.

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