Neptune Aviation Inc:
May 5, 2017
There is no aerial firefighting company that comes close to the 23+ years of experience that Neptune Aviation has. Located in Missoula, MT, Neptune Aviation has flown over 38,056 hours totaling 99,209,794 miles while dropping over 99,209,794 gallons of liquid retardant, including a few international missions in South America and Canada. That’s the same distance as 18 trips to the moon! Besides the pilots flying, they also have mission support teams that travel by ground to each location, totaling over 3,000,000 miles or 7 trips to the moon!
On their first ever international mission, T-03 made the 2-day, 6000 nautical mile trip and arrived in Santiago, Chile on February 4th. They operated out of Concepcion, Chile then returned to Missoula after completing their contractual obligation on March 4th. “It was a successful mission with every indication for future opportunity and ideal expansion of our operations since Chile’s fire season is opposite the US fire season.” Neptune told me.
Their fleet includes the Neptune P2V bombers and the BAe 146 series 200. The P2V dates back to the Korean War where it was originally designed for anti-submarine warfare. The BAe 146 series 200 is ideally suited for the wildland aerial firefighting mission. The BAe boasts an unbeatable combination of reliable slow flight characteristics and high cruising speed and outstanding maneuverability.
We were contacted by Neptune Aviation a few weeks ago about our Missoula Shop Pet Project. They have the cutest little mouser named Smokey that they wanted to introduce you all to! I set up a time and went out and met Michelle McCue the Executive assistant to the CEO and she showed me around. She introduced me to Randy Hendrickson, Purchasing Agent and longtime Neptune employee. He had been there the longest and knew the whole story as to how Smokey came to live at Neptune.
Randy started at Neptune in April of 1998. They had a mouser named Newt at the time. In 2005 Newt went missing, they later found him in the back of an aircraft. He wasn’t moving, was drooling and very lethargic. They rushed him to the Emergency Vet and found out that he had severe nerve damaged and appeared to have been poisoned. They found a dead hawk near the tarmac that had corn in its stomach; Randy thought that maybe that corn was laced and that Newt was affected by it also. Sadly he didn’t make it much longer.
Almost immediately the rodents were running rampant again, it’s like they all knew the cat was gone. They decided that they needed another mouser, but they wanted to get two this time..the more the merrier right? They adopted Smokey and later on adopted another kitty named Bandit. He was a long haired black and white cat that looked like his predecessor, Newt. Bandit was the only animal that they brought in that actually got along with Smokey, she may be tiny but her sass makes up for her size.
Bandit injured his leg and had to get it amputated, but continued to live a long a fulfilling life helping keep the rodent population at bay. Unfortunately he passed away this past year, so it’s up to Smokey now, but Smokey is more concerned with love and attention than mousing..she’s put in her time, she wants to enjoy her retirement. She rules the roost..she knows it and so does everyone else.
When I met Smokey she was the sweetest little thing, but I could tell from the start that this “interview” was going to be on her terms. She wanted to play and get pets, but could care less for the camera..and you should’ve heard the purr coming from this tiny little thing..it sounded like a Mac Truck!
Aside from firefighting, they also have charters and an aircraft maintenance shop. If you are interested in any of these service or just want to know more about Neptune Aviation visit their website or call 406-542-0606!
Jeanette Rankin Peace Center:
April 21, 2017
The Jeanette Rankin Peace Center (JRPC) was established in 1986 to provide Missoula with a permanent place for the dialogue, reflection and action needed to understand our world and work toward nonviolence, social justice and environmental sustainability.
The peace Center is a community resource where these values come alive. Aside from being a resource center, it’s also a fair trade retail shop also. They are the only 100% fair trade shop in Missoula.
I learned about the Peace Center a few weeks ago while I was at Betty’s Divine meeting with Jethro. I was told that Jethro liked to go for walks a few doors down and meet his neighbor kitty Siddhartha. Siddhartha was having some health issues and ended up essentially paralyzed in his hind legs, but still managed to get around and loved to visit with Jethro. I stopped by the Peace Center to see if I could meet Siddhartha and their Chocolate Lab Oliver. Oliver wasn’t there at the time so I left my info and was contacted later. We set up a time a few weeks later and I headed down there.
As soon as I walked in the Peace Center to meet with Betsy Mulligan-Dague, the Executive Director I was promptly greeted by Oliver. I made my way back to meet Betsy and Oliver followed along, but I noticed I hadn’t seen his kitty counterpart yet. Betsy regretfully informed me that Siddhartha had since passed away. Although Oliver was glad to have his bed back, the center isn’t the same without him.
Before Oliver, there was the first Chocolate Lab, named Newman..Betsy wrote a children’s book about Newman and would travel to local schools with him and read his story to the students..It was called “Newman the Peace Dog” and it was about how despite the abuse and neglect in his life, he had nothing but love in his heart.. ”A lesson we could all learn from Newman” said Betsy.
(Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGE4z_BwR2w to hear his story)
Newman passed away two years ago, but his love lives on within the center and through Oliver. Betsy told me that Newman had passed away in May and that they had planned on not getting a new puppy for a while, but the beginning of June she came across a picture from Animal Control with a 13 month Chocolate Lab..she new that she had to get him. She told her husband “ we have to go get him, that’s Newman!” Betsy told me that she didn’t think that she could find a more loving dog than Newman, but “it’s like Oliver took everything that Newman had and went beyond.”
Newman and Siddhartha may not be there physically, but their spirit and love lives on. Betsy explained to me that despite all that Newman had gone through, he was the most loving and trusting dog she had ever met. He had every reason to not trust humans, but he did..all he wanted to do is love and be loved. I see this same thing at the shelter. It’s amazing to me to see what some of these animals go through, yet they look at you with hope in their eyes..they love unconditionally... Something humanity can learn from them. Despite the past and difference in opinions, we all deserve love, fair treatment and a chance at a happy life.
Stop by the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center on 519 S. Higgins Ave. Missoula , Montana , 59801 or visit them online at https://jrpc.org to find out more of what they do or how you can help. Stop in and vist Oliver while you’re at it, but don’t forget to bring a dog treat!
Oliver and Siddhartha (Sid)
April 7, 2017
Betty’s Divine is a locally-owned boutique on the magnificent Hip Strip in downtown Missoula, MT that has been a fixture on the block since 2005. If you’re into vintage clothing and accessories for men and women alike, then this shop is for you!
As soon as I walked in, I noticed that it was like no place I had been in before..the mix of vintage and fashion, the local art on the walls and awesome selection of trucker hats…and then came Jethro to greet me!
Jethro is a 7 yr old, 25 pound orange and white tabby cat that calls Betty’s Divine his new home. Just before the Holiday’s they teamed up with the Humane Society of Western Montana to do an “adopt-a-thon” at the boutique. In the next few weeks Betty’s owner Aimee McQuilkin spent a few days out at the Humane Society getting ready for the adoption event.
Jethro, whose momma had just passed away became a new resident at the HS a few weeks earlier. Aimee told me that it wasn’t like “I have to have him” at first, but she did call and ask if they would bring him to the event. They told her that Jethro didn’t travel well..the next day HS called and told her that they thought Jethro would be a good fit for the boutique because he was declawed so he shouldn’t be an outside cat and that he LOVED attention and with all the foot traffic Betty’s got, it would be a perfect fit. “They said we’ll be there tomorrow with him and he never left!” Aimee explained. He’s been a great addition to the team!
Although he is 25 lbs, he has lost 6 lbs since coming to Betty’s Divine. He is on a regimented diet and gets lots of exercise! He’s literally the real life Garfield! He was such a sweet boy. As soon as I entered he came trotting up to the front to meet me. He wasn’t a huge fan of the camera, but he did enjoy all the attention he was getting. He has become quite a staple for the boutique; he even has his own patch and pin displaying him in his classic pose!
If you are in the market for some timeless vintage clothing or accessories, visit Betty’s Divine at 509 S Higgins Ave, Missoula, MT 59801 and make sure to say hello to Jethro while you’re there!
Ecology Project International:
Dobie, Mable, Sunny, Cedar and Georgia
March 24, 2017
Employers and employees are acknowledging the advantages and benefits of a growing office trend that allows pets in the workplace. And now there's research to support what some have known for years.
According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol.
Published in spring 2012, the study, led by Randolph Barker, a professor of management, was conducted at a dinnerware company in North Carolina, which sees 20 to 30 dogs a day on its premises. As the workday went on, research found average stress level scores fell about 11% among workers who had brought their dogs to work, while they increased 70% for those who did not. (USA Today)
Ecology Project International (EPI) is one of these dog friendly offices. EPI is a conservation education non-profit based here in Missoula in the Historic Swift Building just South of the Clark Fork River. They involve young people from the U.S., Belize, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries in hands-on science and conservation projects that protect species and habitat in five countries. Nearly 30,000 students have participated in their field programs since 2000, with more than 70% of those participants being under-served local youth living in communities adjacent to the project site. (EPI Source)
I had the pleasure of meeting all the furry friends at EPI a few weeks ago. As I entered the building I was greeted by Mable, a curly haired black dog. She had been abused and was very scared when her human adopted here from the Humane Society. She is one of the original dogs at the office, she’s been there for nearly 7 years. When she first got there she would hide under the desk, but being at EPI has really helped her. She now lays right in the front door greeting all that enter. She was a little shy, but super friendly.
The second pup I met was Dobie, a Mottle-colored mutt that was adopted from TRACS in Thompson Falls, MT. Dobie has been coming to EPI since he was 8 weeks old. He's now almost a year! As I approached him he was a little unsure, but I was able to win him over with a few treats. He enjoyed the treats so much that you would have thought that the drool he had left on the floor was from his St. Bernard friend Cedar.
Cedar is a true gentle giant. She’s a trained therapy dog and has been with EPI for two years. She likes to go for walks and carry her own leash.
After meeting these 3 wonderful dogs I went up stairs. Sunny was laying in her dog bed under the window. She’s a beautiful 8 year old yellow husky cross that was wearing a purple bandana. Sunny was rescued from Oklahoma and has been with EPI since last fall. She was the most chill and relaxed dog that I had ever met.
The last dog I met was Georgia. She’s an American Bulldog Boxer mix and was adopted from Animal Control. As soon as I entered the room she instantly came to great me. Such a fun and outgoing personality she had. Her favorite activities are getting treats and pets from everyone!
EPI was different than the first Missoula business that we profiled because none of these dogs live at the building or were adopted/rescued for the purpose of a #ShopPet, but I still wanted to profile them. It’s such a cool thing to see the overall difference in workplace moral with a pet friendly place versus a workplace that doesn’t allow pets. I asked them how this policy came to be and what started the pet friendly work environment at EPI and this is what they said. “EPI's dog-friendly office came about naturally. Former employee, Kelsey, had a dog, Boo, who had incredible jumping abilities and jumped out of her yard every day, taking himself on walks about the neighborhoods of Missoula. So she started bringing him to work. The staff, then only about 12 people (in comparison to our 30+ now!) had a meeting where they discussed and voted on having a formal dog-friendly policy. It was a unanimous decision in favor of having dogs in the office. Our Executive Director, Scott, who isn't the biggest dog-lover (he definitely prefers cats), saw the staff's commitment and excitement and gave his go-ahead on the policy. He has since come to appreciate the dogs and the benefits of having them in the office.”
If you are interested in the work that Ecology Project International does find them online at www.ecologyproject.org or find them on Facebook and Instagram!
Missoula Power Equipment: Rambo
March 10, 2017
January 3rd started out like any other day for David Gjefle with Missoula Power Equipment that specializes in small engines repair. It was a Frigid eleven degrees and snowy day when David was making calls at the front counter, he noticed a dark object flash out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t think much of it. It happened again so he got up and looked. It was a short haired tabby. The kitty made its way to the back of the shop near the storage shed.
David has already adopted two kitties from AniMeals so he is familiar with the tactics to gain their trust. One morning he paid one of his mechanics ten dollars for his chicken breast lunch so he could give the kitty a reason to come closer. After about 3 weeks of building trust between him and the tabby, he was able to pet his new furry friend for the first time. David would feed him outside and bring warm water to him for another couple weeks before he ventured inside the shop.
Over the previous few weeks David noticed that the kitty would come out of the culvert near the highway and make his way to the back of the shop. One day he walked back there and saw that he had been catching the small rodents near the mountainside..this is how he was surviving.. “So I named him Rambo, because he was a survivor” David said.
The first few days that Rambo was in the shop he wasn’t too sure about all the noise coming from the back where the repairs were being done, so they took an afternoon off to give him some quiet time to adjust. Now, he has his litter box, water and food dish inside and he’s as happy as can be. He has made himself right at home, keeping the riding mower seats warm and greeting people as the come in.
David insisted that this wasn’t a “rescue operation”..it was a mutual companionship. David likes having him around just as much as Rambo likes being around. Stop by and visit Rambo or talk to David about some new equipment at Missoula Power Equipment a (5275 South US HWY 93) next to Axmen South heading towards Lolo.