BABY, Service Dog

BABY on the Job with Joseph Batavia

BABY, Service Dog

BABY’s not a pet…

she’s my service dog.

BABY’s well-trained;

she has a very important job.

BABY knows it’s time to work

when she is wearing her vest.

BABY reads my every mood.

She knows when I am stressed.

BABY loves to work;

I take her everywhere.

I am calm and safe

because my service dog is there.

BABY on the Job in the Forest, Photo by Joseph Batavia

Then we go home to chill;

I take off BABY’s vest.

BABY eats her supper

and flops down for a rest.

I find a movie on Netflix

and lock the door.

BABY cuddles up beside me,

and I listen to her snore.

BABY is my friend.

a member of my family.

I take care of BABY,

and she looks out for me.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl


Service dogs are trained and certified to help disabled people to live independently. The first and most well-known service dogs assist those who are blind, but service dogs and other service animals now help people with a variety of disabilities. For example, there are dogs who assist those in wheel chairs and people with epilepsy. Remember not to distract a dog who is wearing a service vest. Never pet or feed a service dog without the owner’s permission.

Honeybunch & Sunshine

Photo by The Lucky Neko from Unsplash

Honeybunch & Sunshine

Babysitter’s cat

had kittens. Wow! Honeybunch

was so excited!

Calico kitten,

Sunshine, was a birthday gift…

Honeybunch was three.

Photo by hp koch from Unsplash

Small girl and kitten…

Honeybunch and her Sunshine

became lifelong friends.

Sunshine was sunny…

swatting and chasing cat toys,

purring and snuggling.

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson from Unsplash

Cuddled in slumber,

Honeybunch and Sunshine roamed

in the land of dreams.

Hiking through the woods,

Sunshine walked with Honeybunch

down to the river.

Photo by omid armin from Unsplash

Honeybunch grew up,

Sunshine lived for fourteen years…

They were lifelong friends.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise, Photo by Aron Visuals from Unsplash

Gopher Tortoise

“Young man!…Hello!”

The boy was carrying

a gopher tortoise

toward the Gulf of Mexico.

“Don’t put that tortoise

in the water, please!

It’s not the kind of turtle

that travels the seas!”

“That’s an endangered

gopher tortoise, protected by law.”

“I didn’t know,” replied the boy.

“It’s the first one I ever saw!”

The boy put the tortoise

gently down on the sand,

and it crawled very slowly

up the beach to dry land.

I wish I had told the boy,

“Find ‘gopher tortoise’ in Wikipedia,

and tell your friends back home

how you found one in Florida!”


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Everglades Gossip

Roseate Spoonbills, Photo by Julia Craice from Unsplash

Everglades Gossip

A roseate spoonbill was overheard to say,

“You’ll never guess who I saw today!

Gone from the Everglades for a hundred years,

flamingos have settled not far from here.”

Roseate Spoonbill by Joshua J Cotten from Unsplash

The second spoonbill said, “It will be nice, I think,

having neighbors who also like to wear pink.

Maybe they won’t brag that their legs are longer,

or argue that their beaks are stronger.”

Roseate Spoonbill by Joshua J Cotten from Unsplash

“We will have to be tactful and kind,”

said the first spoonbill, “and pay no mind

to flamingos’ skinny necks and feathery heads.

Some things are better left unsaid.”

“We have a lot in common. Let’s focus on that,”

said the second spoonbill. “We’ll have a chat

with our new neighbors. I think it will be good

to welcome flamingos back to the neighborhood.”

Flamingos, Photo by Dennis Eusebio from Unsplash

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals II

Environmentally-themed book series for readers aged eight to twelve


Copyright© 2018 by Cheryl Batavia

Hanging Out with Stingrays

Naples, Florida Pier, Photo by Bailey Rapp from Unsplash

Hanging Out with Stingrays

I was visiting the pelicans on Naples Pier;

the sun was bright, and the water was clear,

I saw a school of stingrays far below,

swimming in The Gulf of Mexico.

Stingrays are flat fish with “wings”

and long, skinny tails with barbs that sting.

Swimming in schools, they stir up sand

to find their dinner of oysters and clams.

Stingray, Photo by Fernando Jorge from Unsplash

I wanted to join the rays…what a fun thing to do!

“Don’t step on them, and they won’t sting you,”

a nearby fisherman advised.

“Shuffle your feet and they’ll move aside.”

I shuffled my feet, and I stayed with the rays

’till the sun was setting at the end of the day.

Hanging out with stingrays was a lot of fun…

I was tired and sunburned, but I didn’t get stung.

Stingray Swimming, Photo by Jakob Owens from Unsplash

I learned that serious injury from stingrays is rare,

but incidents sometimes do occur.

Although I won’t overreact if I encounter a stingray,

I won’t wade with schools of rays like I did that day.

Stingrays in touch tanks have their barbs removed.

Some stingray encounters are sting-free too.

Stingrays enjoy being petted and like to play.

I’d hang out with stingrays at aquariums any day!

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals III

Environmentally-themed book series for ages eight to twelve


Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia

How I Won the Great Snail Race of Miami-Dade County

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

How I Won the Great Snail Race of Miami-Dade County

(with sincere apologies to Mark Twain)

In the middle of a snail population explosion,

inspired by Mark Twain’s short story,

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of

Calaveras County,” we planned a snail race.

We thought snail races would be more fun

than frog races…longer to cheer,

longer to observe snail behavior,

and longer to shoot a snail video.

Calaveras County frogs get only three jumps…

Snails take their own sweet time

Photo by Tanika from Unsplash

Keesha’s strategy to win the race

was to choose the largest snail.

Seth just wanted to shoot a snail video

and win an award at the county fair.

Jo planned to lure her snail with lettuce.

Photo by Lajos Moricz from Pixabay

Clarence thought his snail would win

if he cheered louder than anybody else.

Clarence didn’t know snails can’t hear.

My strategy was to learn a lot about snails.

I did research. I drew a diagram and

labeled the shell, the foot, and the eye stalks.

I studied hard so I could pick the best snail;

I was sure my snail, Speedy, would win!

On the day of the snail race, we drew

two concentric circles on the tile floor.

Keesha had chosen a gigantic snail.

Jo had her lettuce ready.

We all put our snails in the center circle.

The first snail to leave the outer circle

would win the race. “Go, Speedy!” I whispered.

Photo by Nika Akin from Pexels

Seth had just started videoing the race

when Clarence began to cheer.

Even though snails don’t have ears

and can’t hear, they feel

sound wave vibrations

with their lower tentacles…

All the snails retreated into their shells!

“Shhh!” we told Clarence.

Speedy came out of his shell first.

Keesha’s giant snail had decided

never to come out again!

Jo’s snail was moving very slowly

away from the lettuce, leaving a slime trail

as it crawled into the outer circle.

Photo by Gene Pensiero from Unsplash

Speedy certainly was fast, but he

couldn’t seem to move in a straight line;

he careened aimlessly around the outer circle,

leaving little silvery squiggles behind him.

Jo’s snail was about to cross the finish line.

Clarence couldn’t keep still any longer

and began cheering again for his snail.

Jo’s snail stopped immediately, just inside

the outer circle, and pulled into its shell.

Speedy was so smart, he finally wandered

outside the circle and won the race.

If you don’t believe me, you can watch

Seth’s video at the county fair.

Photo by cablemarder from Pixabay

After the race, we released the snails

far away from vegetable gardens.

Keesha’s giant snail finally came out of its shell.

Clarence apologized for making noise.

We washed the snail slime off our hands

and enjoyed an ice cream party

to celebrate Speedy’s big win.

Maybe someday, I’ll write a story,

“Speedy, the Celebrated Racing Snail

of Miami-Dade County!”


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Inspired by a snail race in a sixth grade science class I taught in Miami. I am considering adding illustrations and developing this into a book for young readers, ages eight to twelve.

Peaceful Manatee

Manatee Cow and Calf, Crystal River, Florida, photo by Janos, Adobe Stock Photos

Peaceful Manatee

Peaceful manatee

grazing in Crystal River,

suckling your calf.

Friendly manatee,

Red Tide and boat propellers

are lurking dangers.

Playful manatee,

wintering in the hot springs,

hanging out with friends.

Manatee in Crystal River, Florida, photo by Janos from Adobe Stock Photos

Threatened manatee

swimming in warm Gulf waters…

Keep away from harm!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


West Indian Manatees, distant relatives of elephants, are found in the Southeastern United States. Antillian Manatees live in Central and South America. Another species is the African Manatee.

“Fraidy” Old Lady

WATER, poured acrylic on canvas, by Cheryl Batavia

MINNOWS IN THE SURF, poured acrylic on canvas, by Cheryl Batavia

“Fraidy” Old Lady

A “fraidy” old lady at the Pompano shore

was afraid to wade, but not anymore!

Her ankles tickled when the little fish nibbled.

Their bite was so light, the old lady giggled,

“Why didn’t I try this before?”

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals III,

an environmentally-themed book series for readers eight to twelve


Copyright 2019© by Cheryl Batavia


This limerick tells a true tale about an old lady…me. The fish bit hard enough that it almost hurt, but not quite! My sister treated me to a fish pedicure when I visited her. It was a very similar experience!

Everglades Style

Egret Family, photo by homecare119 from Pixabay

Everglades Style

The style-conscious woman of long ago

wore Everglades fashions from head to toe:

egret feathers decorating her stylish hat,

alligator purse and alligator shoes to match.

Her taste in fashion was very fine,

but Everglades wildlife began to decline.

Egrets and alligators faced extinction,

and laws were passed for their protection.

Alligator on a Golf Course, photo by skeeze at pixabay

No longer endangered, these species survive.

Habitat protection allows them to thrive.

With continued protection and conservation,

wildlife will delight future generations.

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals II

an environmentally themed book series for readers eight to twelve


Copyright© 2018 by Cheryl Batavia