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Go Big or Go Home…

I think it only appropriate that this blog follow the previous on scuba diving given the topic.

If scuba is something you’re interested in and have done then why not take it up a notch?

And you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to try my next endeavor…

I’m talking about skydiving!

I wouldn’t exactly call myself an adrenaline junkie, but I do like the thrill of roller coasters and other rides, scuba diving and anything where I can do a risk vs. rewards analysis and in relative safety enjoy some thrills and excitement. In the short-term I’ve been scuba diving I’ve observed the same group of people engage in similar activities. As a matter of fact, a dive buddy I dove Epcot DiveQuest went skydiving for his birthday and many people who scuba dive have logged hundreds of skydive jumps. So why not look into it further?

Clearly skydiving is likely more scary and outside of your comfort zone, but let me just tell you that it is worth it if you get to the point of pulling the trigger.

I decided to visit a couple of the local skydive websites then visited several of them as well. I asked them many questions, asked them to show me the tandem harnesses and watched many tandem divers do their first-time jumps. I saw fathers and sons, couples and friends and talked to them after… not one of them said they didn’t regret doing it.

If you’re like me you’re going to jump on the Internet and start researching, reading forums, looking at statistics, etc. Tandem jumping is actually statistically safer than diving solo along with countless other activities we all engage in daily. The harnesses have straps on both the front and back to insure you won’t fall our and you’re locked in the harness by four points each of which can hold 250 pounds and statistics of all four breaking at the same time… almost impossible.

After researching several dropzones and committing to do a tandem dive, it occurred to me that I would more than likely only do one skydive my entire life. So I wanted to make my “first” skydive memorable. And if I’m going to skydive I want to “go big or go home,” which coincidentally is Skydive Space Center’s motto. You only get to do your first skydive once and they are the only place you can dive off the east coast, over the space center and with the highest tandem skydive in the world at 18,000 feet.

With a commitment (but much trepidation to be expected the day of) I decided to take it step by step i.e. make the reservation, drive to the dropzone, complete my paperwork, get fitted for my harness, etc. It’s much easier to manage in small steps than get overwhelmed about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane lol.

So I booked the 18,000-foot dive with pictures, raw footage and the finished edited video. This included a separate photographer jumping, flying around and recording video of my jump as well as video taken by a wrist camera on my tandem diver i.e. the works!  And as crazy as it sounds I wanted the highest dive at 18,000 feet so I could spend as much time as possible freefalling to the earth at 120mph so I could really sponge up the moment.  And to put things in perspective 18,000 feet is just under 3.5 miles high or the height if 60 football fields or six times the world’s tallest building, the Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa at 3,044 feet.  So it’s high lol…

Kristal was of tremendous help in making my reservation, answering my questions, email confirmations, etc. Upon arrival, Becka assisted me with my paperwork and attended to me as if she were my own personal tour guide – I enjoyed talking to her. The entire staff was great!

My tandem instructor was Uwe and my videographer was Maksim – both really cool guys. They had a printout of my video requests and information and assured me they could accommodate everything no problem. Uwe then fitted me with my harness, gave very clear instructions on what to do, when to do it and made me feel at ease and excited at the same time. I was more worried about peeing my pants (for the record I didn’t) than anything else happening. Uwe did say that everyone is nervous and most people jump, but we will not make you jump if you’re completely deadest against it or completely losing it and screaming bloody murder. He didn’t say those exact works, but you get the point.

On the way up I talked a lot because I was both nervous and excited and Uwe just said you’re going to be fine, enjoy the view and I got you. How could I not enjoy the view I was right beside the door! I was the second jumper; the first was a solo jumper. And there were maybe 8-10 people behind me so I knew I had to set the pace, show no fear, lead by example and jump when ready. So I did and we jumped with no hesitation.

Although words can not even remotely describe the feeling and sensation of sky diving I’ll try… amazing, exhilarating, scary, fun, enlightening, life-changing, euphoric, slow-motion, surreal, sensory overload, disbelief, shock and the experience of a lifetime.  Honestly, it will change your perspective on everything i.e. how you approach things, appreciating and enjoying the simple things in life including relationships.  And if if you didn’t pass out, throw up or wet your pants… you’ll be thankful for that as well lol.

My free-fall time lasted about one minute and twenty seconds and you really do need a longer free-fall time because the first 20-30 seconds it’s sensory overload then you really start to take it all on in i.e. the sounds, the sights, interaction with your tandem diver and the photographer, etc. Frankly, anyone who is considering skydiving I would recommend the highest jump and getting a picture/video package. You’ll want to commemorate the event and share the fun with your friends and family who would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Then check it off of your bucket list!

And although you can never fully prepare yourself for skydiving, you do as much as you can then just do it. You won’t regret it. I absolutely plan on doing it again… and regularly… and would only do so at Skydive Space Center.

Here’s a link to the finished, edited video though I think the raw footage is much better:

In continuing with the adventurous and adrenaline seeking (though in a calculated manner) theme my next blog will also be on an activity I find many scuba divers and skydivers engaging in together. And here’s a hint… you see these everywhere and many who engage in this activity wear leather and have a nickname.

Cory Prado

Uwe, Maksim and I up close and personal… three guys just hamming it up!

Cory Prado

Just landed…

Cory Prado

Literally just jumped from the plane…

Cory Prado

Goofing off… not sure how high we are… high!

Cory Prado

Maksim’s view of Uwe and I with the Atlantic ocean in the background.

Cory Prado

Pic from Maksim… the chute is opening and with a little tug – that feeling was fantastic!

Cory Prado

You have to hug it out sharing a moment like that… bromance! Uwe was AWESOME!!!

Cory Prado

Overwhelmed… relieved… excited… with my feet back on Mother Earth.

Cory Prado

Uwe let me steer the chute… we did some heavy spins pulling a lot of g-force. As you can see I’m loving it!

Cory Prado

Harnessed and waiting for the second plane to go up doing a pre-dive interview with Maksim!

Cory Prado

All smiles here… loving it!

Cory Prado

The view from my seat on the plane…

Cory Prado

What you don’t see is the prayer Maksim likes to do before every jump. He asked if I wanted to pray with him and I said sure as I do quite regularly… didn’t know if I should be concerned or not lol.

Cory Prado

One of my favorite pictures…


Time to get wet so stay calm and blow bubbles…

Hope everyone’s year is off to a great start and best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy 2018!

I had to check and see when the last time was I blogged and it’s been well over a year. Like many of you… life just gets in the way and god knows time goes by too quick. As my Mom would say be sure that you work to live not live to work… I’m in the middle somewhere.

I’ve been spending the last year or so doing something that “was” completely out of my comfort zone… out of left field… something a good friend had mentioned many times… SCUBA DIVING. And I absolutely love it now!!!

And since I live in Florida, two questions immediately came to mind, which were 1) what about alligators and 2) what about sharks? Turns out you really don’t have to worry about them that much… or so I’ve learned in my limited experience and talking with others that have been diving longer than I’ve been alive.


From what I know, they seem to prefer the solitude and comfort of being unseen. So diving in clear springs, caverns and rivers help. And they don’t like the bubbles divers release. An alligator will see you long before you see them and be long gone before you get there. More times than not alligators are more scared of us than we are of them, but you do have to be careful during mating season, which runs from April to June. Crocodiles are a different story in south Florida and are known to be more aggressive. You and I know that their bite force is more than enough to hold onto us, but they are more interested in smaller things that can fit in their mouth like birds, turtles, small dogs, etc.


A scuba shop owner, dive buddy and friend of mine once said that if they really want to get you, you won’t see it coming – that was comforting in a way… I think? In all seriousness, sharks also do not like the bubbles divers give off while breathing under water. And we are not their native food source so they don’t really look at us in this manner. A majority of bites that occur are when people are swimming in the surf and it’s more of an exploratory bite than anything else. Sharks do some feeding for other fish in the surf and are often confused thus the “exploratory” bite. Needless to say, I grew up at the beach and still will not swim in the surf. Now, I’ve been on many dives where we saw sharks (10-15 feet away) and they kept on swimming as if we weren’t even there. I’ve even done several dives in Epcot’s 6 million gallon aquarium (Dive Quest) that houses many sharks and you had to hold your breathe with no bubbles just to get them to come anywhere close to you. And regarding blood in the water, they don’t really like our blood. Coincidentally, I cut myself on one ocean dive and was a little worried… and I did not attract sharks from miles away not was I viciously attacked. I saw no sharks on that particular dive. However, I do understand that there are several shark varieties that are more aggressive like Bull, Hammerhead and Tiger sharks and I’ve had Bull sharks swim right by as well. They prefer the blood of their native food source. So once again nothing to worry about…

Here’s a link to one of my Epcot dives at Dive Quest:

As I was vetting different scuba shops, I learned about the different certification organizations NAUI and PADI then stumbled across Scuba Quest on the Meetup website looking for scuba groups. David, Scuba Quest Owner, and I talked scuba for a while and next thing you know I’m certified through his shop (NAUI certified) and was diving almost every weekend. I still dive regularly now, but have other activities occupying my time… that’s another blog.

Quick plug for David and his shop Scuba Quest at 8092 South Orange Blossom Trail…

Everybody at the shop has always been very helpful, knowledgeable and patient with all of my questions (and I had quite a few) about diving and when purchasing my personal dive gear. And the pricing is very competitive! I love the fact the shop is like a family, also a family-owned business and they have a passion for helping both children and adults with special needs of all levels at the NTC through their ministry. David Sr., David Jr., Jason, Kim, Josh and Roger have been awesome and frequently I stop by the dive shop just to look at gear and wind up talking about everything under the sun. I’m always meeting new and fun people in the dive community at the dive shop, charters and clubs. It’s opened up an entirely new and fun social genre to me that I didn’t know existed. And it all started with a phone call… thanks David and everybody at Scuba Quest! Looking forward to many more dives and destination dive trips!

Honesty, I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ve received several advanced certifications since last year and have been on many dive trips all over central Florida with David, his family, employees and other divers and have trips to Bonaire and Mexico among other places. The advanced certifications for me are a way to gain knowledge, confidence and comfort in this almost alien-like environment that few experience. You’ll see sharks, sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, goliath grouper, moral eels, lionfish squid, blowfish, puffer fish, stingrays, beautiful coral, sponge varieties, tropical fish and so much more. And when you start traveling, you’ll be immersed in not only scuba abroad, but different people, cultures, wildlife, cuisine and much more. On a sidebar, I ate so much on first dive trip, I thought I was going to come back weighing more than one I left. Turns out we dove so much I actually weighed less!!!

Many shops, or at least Scuba Quest, offer exploratory scuba classes where you can try it for free. If you enjoy it you’ll find yourself wanting to learn more, diving different places and immersing yourself in the scuba community. The scuba community is a small close-knit group, everyone is so nice and they share your enthusiasm and intrigue about scuba, whether it is equipment-talk, local dives or destination dive trips. I swore I would do only one night dive (as a part of Advanced Certification) just to do it because I had some trepidation about… well… swimming around in the ocean at night… not being able to see… with Jaws. It turns out there was more visibility than I though due to the full moon, the marine life is very active and not to mention the bioluminescence. Now, night dives are my favorite type of dive. Most recreational dives seem to be 30-60 feet, but I’ve been as deep as 160 feet and had no problems or worries.

Some of this might seem a little scary when you consider your only source of air (or life) is a tank of air. The attraction to me is the amount of focus, preparation and attention to detail that is required. When I’m diving I’m thinking of nothing else… and I love it. Plan your dive and dive your plan. I purchased good new equipment, plan the dive, dive with a good dive buddy, do pre-dive checks and hand signal confirmations, etc. I would recommend not purchasing any gear until after you complete your Open Water certification because in that short amount of time you will find you have certain preferences. So take your time and visit your local scuba shop and talk things out before you make the investment.

And let me tell you that there is something surreal, quiet, exhilarating about being under the water where few people venture. The words to adequately describe the feeling of scuba escape me… I’m not doing it justice. To interact and observe the marine life in their own environment is truly a memory worth making on every single dive let alone making new friends.

And there is limitless information on the Internet through scuba websites and forums. Odds are you know somebody that scuba dives… you just don’t know it. So go to your local dive shops, strike up a conversation and before you know it you’ll be planning your first destination dive trip!

Cory Prado

Haven’t seen one of these in a while…

Cory Prado

Our hostess many a night at the resort… she’s a celebrity (look closely).

Cory Prado

Escaped goat or “scapegoat” lol from the local donkey preserve trying to hitch a ride with us.

Cory Prado

Getting ready to dive…

Cory Prado

Not my pic, but on the same dive with a loggerhead turtle.

Cory Prado

Chasing a blowfish to get a better look and almost injuring a dive buddy 🙂

Cory Prado

One of the many beautiful sunsets we saw after a long fun day of diving eating beachside.

Cory Prado

We only cared about the bottom arrow…

Cory Prado

Local street art made of dead coral and other shells.

Cory Prado

Where we spent most of our time… the dive shop dive dock.

Cory Prado

My pic… completely out-of-focus! Looks scarier don’t you think…

Cory Prado

Just chillin sitting on the bottom…

Cory Prado

Dove during the rain… the ocean moved some in shallower waters. Actually quite beautiful looking up from underneath.

Cory Prado

An out-of-focus sea snake… saw quite a few of these.

Cory Prado

Alveen, the dive shop manager, and I… we went out to dinner with he and his wife.

Cory Prado

Local cuisine consisting of goat among other things…

Cory Prado

One fish… two fish… blue fish…

Cory Prado

One of the many night dives… my favorite! Two dolphin fished followed us each night dive like puppies.

Cory Prado

A couple of squid…

Cory Prado

Tail end of a large stingray… couldn’t get my camera out quick enough.

Cory Prado

Getting ready to climb aboard after a dive…

Cory Prado

These iguanas came within feet of us and what was even more petrifying was literally 10-20 whiptail lizards came within inches surrounding us. I felt I was in the Jurassic Park reboot!

Cory Prado

Puffer fish, blow fish… on my!

Cory Prado

Dive buddies and I diving the Hilma Hooker… looked like the Titanic to me.

Cory Prado

One of my favorites dives… it was only maybe 70 on the way down. Felt like 1,000 on the way back up after diving lugging all the gear!

Cory Prado

The road to salt pier…

Cory Orlando, Cory Prado, Cory Prado Orlando, Orlando, Scuba, Scuba Diving, Scuba Quest

Cory Prado

Memorial to a diver…

Cory Prado

Getting ready for a shore dive…

Cory Prado

One of the many goat trails we traversed in the park to get to several dive locations…

Cory Prado

Up close with a sea turtle…

How to Make an AWESOME Tire Swing.

Cory Prado

I hope everyone had a fantastic summer!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a blog and needless to say (like many of you)… a house, family, friends, dog and volunteerism among other things keeps me busy.

The reason for this blog… an article I saw on my Facebook feed about how to make a tire swing.

Just so happens I had an old tire sitting around, several huge oak trees to hang the swing from and plenty of kids and adults willing to give it a try. Before I start any project I like to do a lot of research on how other people do a particular project then create my own DIY. And you’ll see pictures throughout the DIY to help guide you along the way.

First and foremost, you’re going to need a rather strong tree limb with plenty of space around for swinging. Please make sure the tree is strong enough, not rotting in any part of the tree and the particular branch of which you’re going to hand the swing is of ample circumference.

After reading numerous tire swing tutorials I did come up with a “tip sheet” of items I incorporated into the design, parts and construction of my tire swing that you may also want to consider:

  • Drill fewer holes to maintain the integrity of the tire.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of the tire for water drainage.
  • As far as quick links, S-hooks and carabineers go, quick links are the strongest.
  • Use rubber-coated pinch free swing set chains or cover them to prevent injury.
  • Threading the chain through the noodle rather than cutting it to maintain noodle integrity.
  • Use chains in lieu of rope unless you’re 100% confident in your ability to tie a strong knot.
  • Use a bike tire tube to cover the chain wrapped around the tree limb to protect the tree.
  • Using a 360-degree swivel clamp or Double Eye (or Eye-to-Eye bolt) where tire swing chains come together to prevent chains from getting knotted, twisted or entangled.
  • Lastly, guestimate the max weight and number of people that would ride the tire swing at the same time to decide the work load required of the parts that you purchase.

Let’s get started!!! Here is a list of materials I used to make my tire swing

Parts Needed

1          Used tire ample enough in size for all riders.

3          Lengths of chain at 4 feet each with an 880lb working load.

3          ½” x 6”eyebolts.

6          ½” x 2” fender washers.

6          ½” split lock washers.

6          ½” hex nuts.Cory Prado

6          3/8” Quick links with a 2,200lb working load.

1          ½’ Quick link with a 3,300lb working load.

1          5/16” Eye and Eye Swivel with a 1,250 working load.

1          Old bicycle tube.

1          Length of chain at 12 feet based off of a limb that is 15 feet from the ground.

Equipment Needed

Scrub brush.

Soap and water.

Drill with drill bits to step drill to a ½” hole.

Socket set or two wrenches.

Tape Measure


OK… I think I’ve got everything covered. First, you’re gonna want to wash your tire with soap and water and dry most of the water off if possible. Then take your tire to your work area and place it where it is easily manageable.

Cory PradoIt’s time to use power tools and drill holes! I chose to have just three Cory Pradoholes versus four to both maintain the integrity of the tire and to make it easier for people to climb on the tire swing. I chose to drill my holes on the sidewall closest to the tread where I feel the tire was strongest. Simply use a pen, pencil or marker and the 2” washer to place and mark each of the three holes until they are equal distance from one another. The distance between all of my holes ended up being 23.5” apart on all sides and yours will be different based on the size of tire you use.  Also, don’t forget to drill your drain holes for the rain.

Now here is where it gets exciting… things are going to come to fruition quickly. Time to assemble the eyebolts. Here is the order of which you will install your hardware:Cory Prado


½” hex nut

½” split lock washer

2” flat washer

TireCory Prado

2” flat washer

½” split lock washer

½” hex nut

Simply tighten all parts taught to the top of the eyebolt, but no need to over tighten so as to once again protect the integrity of the tire.

Cory PradoNow, it’s time to cover our three 4-foot chains with the pool noodles. I bought the smaller noodles as the diameter of the hole in the center was just slightly smaller than the width of the 4-foot chains. I did cut a little off the end of each pool noodle to match the length of the 4-foot chains allowing for one chain link to protrude from each end of the noodle.Cory Prado

Then I simply threaded each of the three 4-foot chains through each noodle using coat hangers and attached one end of each noodle-covered 4-foot chain to the three tire eyebolts using the three 2,200 lb. workload quick links. Next, take the one 3,300 lb. quick link and attach it to the other end of each of the three noodle-covered 4-foot chains.

The easiest (and safest way to prevent injury) to hang the tire swing is to first loop the 12-foot chain around the tree limb. Then I placed the tire on a wheelbarrow and rolled it under the attached 12-foot chain. The order for the hardware attached to the 12-foot chain is as follows:

2,200 lb. quick link

12-foot chain (inserted through tire tube)Cory Prado

2,200 lb. quick link

Eye and Eye Swivel

2,200 lb. quick link

3,300 quick link (currently attached to three 4-foot chains)

As mentioned earlier, do choose a tree limb of ample strength and circumference to hold the weight of the tire and all potential riders. Then climb the ladder and wrap the 12-foot chain (inserted through tire tube) around the limb and adjust the tire tube so the tree limb is adequately protected. Now, connect the 2,200 lb. quick link to a link in the 12-foot chain forming a closed loop around the tree limb and the other end of the 12-foot chain hanging below.  You’ll want to leave the ladder propped up against the tree as you’ll likely have to adjust the chain’s height at least one more time.

Now, simply attach the 3,300 lb. quick link attached to the noodle-covered chains to the 2,200 lb. quick link hanging from the bottom of the 12-foot chain. Then step back, admire your work, take a look at your tire swing height and adjust the height accordingly by detaching the tire swing from the chain and adjusting the size of the loop on the 12-foot chain up or down. I mounted my tire about 24 inches from the ground i.e. the same height as most any chair.

Cory PradoIf you do have an itch to decorate your tire, I did find a few things during my research you could do to decorate your tire swing. One thing you can do is to paint the tire different colors or use stickers or stencils. Just be sure to find the right outdoor paint that will weather Cory Pradothe elements and won’t peel or rub off on riders. Another option would be to wrap colored rope around the circumference of the tire. Depending on the rope type, it can be expensive to buy the length needed and when it rains the rope stays wet longer thus wetting the pants of riders. Which is another reason I opted to stay with the look of an old-fashioned uncovered tire swing as it will dry quicker from the rain.  Here’s a resource for you as well:

As with any project, I always measure several times to be certain before I cut, drill or glue anything. And as anal-retentive as this sounds, I actually document what I’m going to do before I do it. It helps me think through the project to make sure I’m doing what I feel is the best way to produce the desired end result DIY project.

And on that note, if you’ve been able to take away at least one thing from this blog that helps you build your own AWESOME tire swing then that makes it well worth the time I spent writing it. Have a great day everyone!

Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder.

For those that are considering purchasing a dog from a breeder, it can be a little overwhelming finding the right breeder for you. This of course is under the presumption that you’ve already determined the type of dog that you want. I wanted very specific things in a dog and spent hours upon hours researching breeds then began vetting breeders.

As the dog I was looking for was purebred, you should find that most if not all purebred dogs will have a national association for that particular breed. Contact that association and ask them if they have a list of breeders. Also, the American Kennel Club is a good resource for both breed information and a list of breeders. You may find some smaller associations, but I would tell you that you can limit your search to these two or three venues so as to avoid information overload.

Now it’s time to play twenty questions… or more like 53 according to my list. As with most things, the more people you talk to the more you learn and in this case the more questions you have. So here is a list of questions to ask a breeder (in no particular order) some of which may or may not apply depending on what type of person/family you are and the breed of dog you want to buy.

  • Will you be having any litters of puppies for sale this year? When do you anticipate your next litter?
  • Will you sale your puppies as a family dog, hunting or other type of dog?
  • How long have you been breeding dogs? Breeding this particular breed?
  • What certifications do you have? Breed club or association affiliations?
  • Can you provide me with references if so desired?
  • Why did you choose this breed?
  • Do you show any of your dogs as well?
  • How often do you breed puppies?
  • Anything you would change about the breed positive or negative?
  • Is this a hobby for you, part-time or full-time job/passion?
  • How do you specifically train and socialize the puppies?
  • Will the dog fair well in the climate of which I live?
  • What are the grooming rituals and frequency?
  • Your thoughts on spaying and neutering?
  • Health concerns with the breed?
  • Health concerns compared to other dogs?
  • Likelihood of these specific health conditions happening?
  • Thoughts on pet health insurance?
  • Can you tell me about the two dogs you’re looking at breeding? Do they have a pedigree? AKC registered? Temperament? Size? How many litters have they had? Family history of the parents? All documentation available for me to see? OFA Hips, elbows, thyroid, eyes, cardiac K Locus checked? Any health problems with previous litters?
  • Do you alter the dog after birth in any way i.e. dew claws, tail docking, etc?
  • Can you provide advice for vaccination schedules, training, socialization, feeding, watering, bathing, etc.?
  • When picked up will puppies be up to date on vaccinations and dewormed?
  • How old will the puppy be before it can come home?
  • Will it be potty and/or crate trained?
  • Are the puppies born and raised at your place or somewhere else? Would you mind sharing the address?
  • Do I pick my dog from the litter or do you based on what I’m looking for since you would know their personalities better than I?
  • Can I pick the name of the dog?
  • Do you provide a health guaranty or return policy? In writing?
  • Do you operate using a contract?
  • Do you require a deposit and what is your deposit policy? When is it due? Is it refundable?
  • What is the cost of your puppies?
  • Do I need to give you my name to put on the waiting list?
  • Can I come pick up the dog or do you ship them? Cost to ship? Best airline? Other recommendations on picking up the puppy?
  • I know you may not want to speak poorly of other breeders, but any thoughts on breeders I should avoid?

So there you have it. As you can tell a conversation with any breeder might be a long one so you can spread the questions out over several calls or at the very least let the breeder know you have a lot of questions. You can even make a joke about it.

As the conversation progresses, you may or may not feel comfortable or feel the need to ask so many questions. I spoke to a number of breeders and once I began speaking to the breeder of which I ending up buying my puppy, I felt an almost immediate rapport with her and trusted her. And trust me when I say that if you talk to enough breeders, you will be able to decide whether or not you want to work with that breeder based on their responses and the manner of which they respond.

All you’re doing is having a conversation and deciding if you like and trust that person well enough to do business, but keep in mind that it is not an interrogation or job interview. A breeder can choose not to sell a puppy to you just as easily so be considerate and respectful of their time and needs as well. Depending on the breed you may have limited options so you don’t want to burn any bridges. As a matter of fact, I spoke to a breeder that declined to sell someone a puppy for what I feel were very legitimate reasons.

In a related matter and of my own personal opinion, having a dog isn’t for everyone. I volunteer at Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando virtually every weekend and we do see dogs surrendered for many reasons i.e. not enough time, too expensive, landlord issues, moving, health problems of owner, etc.

To me a dog is like a child and is something you prepare for in all aspects as you do have to change your life for your dog just like you would for that of a child. And they are not an accessory to an outfit or to project a certain lifestyle… they are a companion and part of your family.  You will have to spend money on them and they deserve regular attention. Currently, my puppy and I are going through training and there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel or paraphrasing when the AKC Owner’s Pledge says everything perfectly. Here it is:

I recently read a quote about dogs from BarkBox that I believe sums up a dog’s life perfectly:

“They might only be here a part of our lives, but to them you are their whole life.”

OK… I’m off my soapbox now – haha.

Now, there are a few specific questions I want to touch on briefly because I just feel they are too important not do to so.

I contemplated getting on several breeders’ waiting lists, but most require a deposit so understand all the terms of the deposit as should you decide to get on more than one list you may end up forfeiting one of your deposits.

Regarding price, a purebred dog will likely cost more than a mixed breed dog and prices will vary from breeder to breeder although they should be in the same range. If you feel you can trust the breeder and they’re going to give you a good healthy dog that will live a long time then it’s well worth the price of the dog.

I want to share one last thing that surprised me when talking to some of the breeders. Some of the breeders may actually pick your puppy for you. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? If you had this image in your mind where you’d go to the breeder, play with a litter of puppies and have this magical connection then I hate to burst your bubble as it may not happen.

And after my breeder explained it to me it actually makes more sense. These breeders spend many weeks with these puppies taking care of them (often around the clock) and see each develop their own personality. They test them for a variety of things some of which include hunting ability, temperament, aptitude, etc. So I prepared a very detailed fact sheet for by breeder including information about: my home, how active I am, time I can devote to the dog and the type of dog I wanted (gender, alpha/beta/omega, previous dogs owned, hunting vs. family dog, my plan for training and socialization, etc.). I know some people are particular about the coat and coloration of the dog, but those traits can change as the puppy grows. I would tell you not to even consider this as there are no guarantees. And if you’re honest with your breeder (and yourself) about who you are and what you’re looking for in a dog your breeder can pick out the dog that best matches your needs. Trust me when I say having a healthy dog that meshes with your personality, family and lifestyle is far better than having a dog that looks a certain way.

And on that note, if you’ve been able to take away at least one thing from this blog that helps you in any way then that makes it well worth the time I spent writing it.


Yep… my girl’s a Steeler’s fan!

DIY File Cabinet Repurposed to a Yard Tool Cabinet.

Wow!  It’s been quite a few months since I’ve posted anything new.  Needles to say I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs… a house, work and a dog among other things always keeps me moving.  That being said I wanted to share with you a project for one of my favorite rooms in my house… the garage!

I think I spend more time in the garage than any of my other rooms.  The garage floor was stripped, pressure washed and epoxy coating applied.  Walls and trim were painted and all the essential components strategically placed i.e. sports equipment, dartboard, workbench, tools, storage racks, wall decor and most importantly… the beer fridge.  I just didn’t know where I wanted to keep all of my yard tools and I didn’t want to drill into the walls so I found this fantastic idea.

And I need to give full credit to the “Gardenista” as this was not my idea.  Her page for reclaiming a file cabinet for tool storage can be found here:

For this project, you’ll want to plan in advance what you intend on storing inside your cabinet and you’ll need the following items:

  • A file cabinet.
  • 4-6 caster wheels per file cabinet.
  • All-purpose primer.
  • Self-drilling metal screws.
  • Peg board.
  • Plywood.
  • White all-purpose gloss paint.
  • Paint (color of your choice).
  • Pain roller, brush, tape, drop cloth, etc.
  • And tools (drill, hack saw, Dremel, etc.)!!!
  • NOTE: During pre-drilling you may go through a few drill bits so be sure to buy a couple of extra.

If you don’t have the tools borrow them and the most expensive items you’ll have to buy will be the caster wheels and likely the file cabinet… the other items are nominal in price.

This is just a cool project for anyone to dress up their garage and it can be personalized for any color or theme.  You’re only limitation is your imagination.  Be sure to read this several times over before you proceed… or not as us men aren’t so good at following directions at times.  Yeah… you know who you are.

Cory PradoFirst, I acquired two four-drawer file cabinets for $15 each on CraigsList.  By the way, I got the extra deep file cabinets so the cabinet would be taller (52” tall x 15” wide x 26.5” deep).  After removing the drawers, I used a Dremel (or you could use a hack saw) to cut and remove any crossbeams I didn’t want to keep as I left several in to serve as compartments for storing different tools.  And the cut doesn’t have to be pretty, but you certainly don’t want to reach in there and cut yourself either so be sure you file down those sharp edges.

Now, we really start to see the project coming to life – it’s time to paint.  I wiped down the file cabinet with a generic all-purpose cleaner and applied the all-purpose primer.  And no I didn’t have to sand anything from the glossy finish you normally see on metal file cabinets.  I did however apply two coats of primer.  Next, I painted the pegboard a generic gloss white to match the racing strips.

Cory PradoWhile the cabinet and pegboard were drying, I measured the bottom of the file cabinet, which would be the back if it were standing up, and cut the plywood the same dimensions then subtracted ¼” on each side so the plywood would be slightly recessed when attached.  Now, measure, mark and install your six (6) castor wheels evenly spaced on each file cabinet.  Similarly, I measured the side (or bottom) of the cabinet for pegboard placement and cut it to the same minus ¼” on each side so it also would be recessed when attached.

Cory Prado

You can see where I taped off where my racing stripes “will be” and of course painted Polar Gray over everything else.

Just so you know, on most if not all file cabinets the bottom of the cabinet will have no bottom – this is where your pegboard will attach.  So I painted the file cabinet standing upright like it would stand if it were being used like… well a file cabinet.  You do however need to tape off where your racing stripes “will be” and you can just “eye” the placement although both strips should be of equal width and run the entire length of the cabinet and around all three sides.  You can see from the picture I actually taped where my racing stripes “will be” and painted Polar gray everywhere else.  And I did apply two coats of Polar gray.  TIME FOR RACING STRIPES!!!

Cory PradoBe sure the width “between” your racing strips is the standard width of any masking tape (I used one inch) and tape the racing stripes “outline” as shown in the picture below.  Because (and I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with “because”) I really wanted the white stripes to pop I applied three coats of glossy white paint.  Be sure that as soon as you finish painting and you’re certain you have nothing else to paint pull off the tape while the paint is still wet.  This way you get those nice hard lines without the paint being pulled off had you waited until the paint dried.

Cory PradoIt’s time to attach the pegboard bottom with caster wheels.  I flipped the cabinet over on a cloth to protect my paint, laid the plywood (with caster wheels mounted) on top of the cabinet, centered it and pre-drilled my holes through the plywood and the metal.  You do want to make sure that when pre-drilling you get enough metal from the file cabinet “lip” for the metal screws to catch so take some extra time in this stage.  You know what they say measure twice cut once… same concept.  Now, attach your plywood to the bottom using the metal screws spacing them appropriately as you see fit.  Next, do the same thing with the pegboard on the open end of the file cabinet.  Center it on all sides, pre-drill and attach with metal screws.

If you have the cabinet right side up on its wheels you’ll notice you can see the plywood and that ugly brown color.  If you’re a little bit of a perfectionist like me then you may want to paint the side of the plywood showing the same color as the rest of the cabinet… I painted mine.

Cory PradoAnd now… we’re done!  I have to tell you that you’re going to have more than one person envious of your new cabinet.  All of my parts, except the file cabinets, were purchased at Lowe’s.  Since I go to Lowes regularly enough to where some of the staff members know me by name, they thought the project came out quite nicely and asked me if I would build them a few.  Unfortunately, while I did enjoy building the cabinets I think two is my limit for now.Cory Prado

So load those bad boys up with yard tools (or anything for that matter) and enjoy yet another functional and aesthetically pleasing component to your man cave.