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In This Issue
Featured Photographer Kelle Mac..........................................................8
M AY 2 0 21
Will vaccines influence the travel industry? OTM’s Travel Expert, Heather Meliski has the scoop......................................10
Wondering how to firm up that stubborn neck skin? The Science of Beauty by Eliana Ocheseanu...12
15 10 Vaccines & Travel Will it influence the industry?
Cover Story Meet Atlanta Smiles’ Dr. Dina Giesler & Dr. Marianna Kovitch
There was no “suck it up” this year in high school sports according to Justin Read all about it in Talkin’ Sports..................19
22 Cobb’s Next Generation There’s Hope!
Cobb’s Rising Stars! ................................21
Moving forward with hope and excitement Cobbs Next Generation by Evie Love..............22
Are you ready for an EPIC! Summer? Kimberly Wakins-Swenk has all the “info”.......24
Talkin’ Sports There was no ‘Suck it Up” in High School sports
24 Social Media Epic Summer!
29 PAGE 6
Cover Story Meet the doctors at Atlanta Smiles and find out how these professional moms have found balance..............................15
Socialize Your Pups with Your Children K-9 Coach Weighs In
Even in a “sellers-market”, the price must be right! Real Estate in Our Town by Deborah Ratchford.........................................27
No need to stress about how to properly socialize your pups with your children K-9 Coach to the rescue!.................................29
Our Town onthly M
in this issue
F A M I LY L I F E S T Y L E N EW S M AG A Z I N E
Publishers/Editors Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in the Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes West Cobb Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not Linda Demery & Lori McLinden
in Cobb County. Opinions expressednecessarily by the editorial staff their own reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our are Town reserves the right to Graphics and Design edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town Terry Tanner for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made reservesTanner the right toInc. edit and or reject any editorial or advertising Graphics, by advertisers. content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond Account Executive Entire contents copyright 2018 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in firstname.lastname@example.org the Sara costYoung, of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher. Feature Photographer Entire contents copyright 2021 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole Our Town Monthly or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher. 109 Anderson Street Contributing Writers
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PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR 678-337-7844 Tara Hill Hanover Fax: 678-337-7825 email@example.com
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DIGITAL EDITOR/SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR Kimberly Watkins-Swenk GRAPHICS AND DESIGN Jules Fandos ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES West Cobb Sara Young firstname.lastname@example.org Smyrna/Vinings/Galleria/Cumberland Misty Flanders-White email@example.com Tamara Siemon firstname.lastname@example.org North/South Cobb Stephanie Mellom email@example.com FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHER Kelle Mac
STERLING ESTATES COMMUNITIES STRONGER THAN EVER ALL RESIDENTS FULLY VACCINATED NEW TOURS AVAILABLE “Fully vaccinating all residents should be celebrated as a huge milestone. And the fact that you are a direct provider and can offer shots here on site is a teastament to ‘going beyond’ for us. Living here has been a Godsend compared to our old home as we feel safe and are staying physically and mentally active with so many friends. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts” - Dee & Hart W.
Best of Cobb
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Heather Meliski Eliana Ocheseanu Evie Love Deborah Ratchford K-9 Coach Team PO Box 813610 Smyrna, GA 30081-8610 (678)337-7844 firstname.lastname@example.org www.ourtownmonthly.com FB: Our Town Monthly IG: @our_town_monthly
2019-2021 Retirement, Assisted Living & Memory Care
STERLING ESTATES Independent, Assisted Living & Memory Care
Feature Photographer ABOUT THE COVER
tlanta-based, photographer Kelle Mac of Kelle Mac Photography is highly-sought after for model shoots, graduating seniors & family sessions. She is available to travel worldwide for your destination wedding, engagements, elopements & events~catching the light of God in you! www.kellemacphotography.com / 678 595 0770 https://www.facebook.com/kellemacphotography https://www.instagram.com/kellemacphotography/
Have Vaccine, Will Travel By Heather Meliski
very day more Americans are getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and a number of countries around the world are relaxing their entry requirements for travelers with proof of vaccination. I’m receiving a lot of questions from clients about where they can travel once they are fully vaccinated as well as what I think travel requirements will look like in regards to vaccination as the year progresses. I think that COVID vaccination will be a big part of post-pandemic travel and will be key to being able to widely travel again. Showing proof of vaccination in order to travel abroad isn’t a new concept – proof of yellow fever vaccination is a common requirement for travel to a number of countries – but proof of vaccination on this large of a scale is new so there will be a number of hiccups along the way. Issues with privacy, particularly with vaccine passports, will need to be worked through. There are a number of vaccine passport apps already being tested and once the bugs are worked out, these will greatly simplify providing proof of vaccination. The questions I have been asked the most lately are if countries will require vaccination for travel and if they are waiving testing if you are fully
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vaccinated. The simple answer is that none of us know for certain if or where vaccinations will be required. I do think that some countries will only allow fully vaccinated visitors once they reopen for travel, but I think that most countries will eventually allow travelers to show proof of vaccination in lieu of testing and quarantine. Some countries, such as Croatia, Greece, Iceland, and Belize, have already announced that they will waive any testing or quarantine requirements for visitors that are fully vaccinated. The Seychelles is currently only allowing fully vaccinated travelers entry into the country. Children under age 16 or 18 (the age varies by country) that cannot be vaccinated would be required to test for COVID prior to arrival in all of these countries. A number of cruise lines have already announced vaccination requirements in order to cruise when they resume limited sailings this summer. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Viking, Windstar Cruises, and even domestic cruise lines such as American Cruise Lines have announced that all crew members and passengers age 18 and over will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to sail. Children under age 18 would be required to take a PCR test prior to sailing. If you choose not to be vaccinated, most international destinations do not currently require vaccination for entry. Most destinations do require testing and some require mandatory quarantines upon arrival, both of which I expect to remain in place for the foreseeable future. I expect options for cruising to be very limited for 2021 and 2022 without proof of vaccination. One requirement that hasn’t changed is mandatory re-entry testing to get back into the United States. Regardless of your vaccination status or where you travel internationally, you are required to take a rapid antigen test in order to re-enter the United States. Even for countries such as Mexico or Costa Rica that do not have testing requirements for entry, you must show proof of a negative antigen test taken within 72 hours prior for re-entry to the United States. Your proof of vaccination is going to be important to travel to a number of destinations so you will want to make sure to keep your vaccination card safe. I recommend making a photo copy of your vaccine card and having it laminated. You will also want to make sure to keep it in a safe place – I recommend storing it wherever you keep your passport and other important documents such as your birth certificate and social security card.
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I’ll be traveling with my vaccination card later this month so make sure to check out next month’s article for info about my experience!
Heather Meliski, Global Travel Senior Advisor 678-522-4495 heather@ yellowshoetravel.com YellowShoeTravel.com 1517251236924_fb Yellow Shoe Travel - Heather Meliski @yellowshoetravelheather
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The Science of Beauty n 2020, Google searches for the term “How to firm neck skin?” increased by a stunning 120%. Here’s a typical scenario of how this Google search begins: a woman who works hard to take care of her facial skin suddenly notices lines, dark spots or sagging on her neck. She doesn’t like that there’s a visible mismatch between her healthy, youthful face and her sagging neck. So, it’s off to Google for answers!
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NECK By Eliana Ocheseanu
Dunaliella salina Extract: This is a biotechnologically produced algae extract from the unique microalga Dunaliella salina. It survives in salt lakes that have a salinity nine times higher than sea water. This high osmotic pressure, high UV and oxygen level environment makes this extract a potent stress manager that has to be very energy rich to survive. The ingredient works from the inside out, by protecting the mitrochondria (the “power house of the cell”) and allows maximum respiration within the cell, so every other part of the skin can work better, including damage prevention. Plus, the membrane strengthening and stress-resisting ability this algae extract has boosts luminosity, radiance and overall skin brightness. Plant Plankton Extract: Produced from phytoplankton (marine plant plankton), this extract instantly smooths out furrows and fine lines. It’s a marine exopolysaccharide made up of galactose, mannose, glucose, galacturonic acid and glucuronic acid. Hopefully this article will narrow down your future google searches on how to repair years of damage on the fragile skin of your neck. sources: Skin Inc. magazine, frontierskin.org Eliana has over 20 years of experience in skin care. She is the owner of Refinery21 Aesthetique and she is always available for free consultations. Email her with any skin care related questions at email@example.com
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here is no denying that moms are the masters of multitasking and regardless of whether they are the CEO of the boardroom or the CEO of the household, ALL MOM’s WORK and often struggle to find that perfect work/life balance. Expectations on mom’s to “do it all” and “look good doing it “ is often unrealistic. I think it’s important to realize that the pressure has gotten even higher in this age of social media with all of the one-sided posts.
OTM: You offer so many services within your practice, how do you keep up? Dr. Giesler: Our services include traditional dentistry and cosmetic dentistry as well as wellness therapy and sleep counseling. Our patients benefit from the similarities and differences in both our perspectives and expertise. We want our clients to make overall health a priority in their lives. Dentistry has moved to multi clinician groups. However, we work hard to create a safe and comfortable environment, a one stop shop (if you will) where we provide our patients their needed dentistry by specialists within our practice. Atlanta Smiles is more than a “dentist’s office”. We nurture strong relationships with our clients, making their overall health a priority along with their family and our community. OTM: You mentioned relationships with the community, and I can’t let this interview end without mentioning your non-profit. Can you tell us a little about it? Dr. Giesler: The Atlanta Smiles Foundation was established to help facilitate the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Give Back A Smile Program. After experiencing the rising need locally in Atlanta to help survivors of domestic abuse, the Atlanta Smiles Foundation was founded in 2006. We are a 501 (c) 3 organization that benefits domestic abuse survivors and their families by providing pro-bono dental and facial reconstructive services in the privacy of a safe and dedicated office.
Dr. Dina Giesler knows this all too well. Her passion for dentistry and helping others led her to open Atlanta Smiles in 1991. However, having a husband with a busy oncology practice and three children, they were outnumbered, and burnout was beginning to set in. After being alone in the practice for 13 years she realized it was time to focus even more on being a mom as that was proving to be the busiest time in her children’s lives. Dr. Giesler had an 8, 10 and 12 year-old who were all in the peak of their activities. When the “last string was about to break” Dr. Giesler met Dr. Marianna Kovitch and a life-saving mentorship/partnership was formed.
As health care professionals, we believe we possess special gifts and talents for making a huge difference in the lives of our patients. We utilize our skills to eliminate serious pain and improve overall health to survivors and their children. Aesthetically speaking, our work can make a critical difference by giving people a renewed confidence to function at a higher level in their everyday lives. We believe this confidence gives survivors the courage to leave the violence that threatened to destroy them and their children.*ASF works in partnership with area shelters, agencies and programs that are dedicated to survivors of domestic abuse.
“You can have it all, just not at the same time” ~ Maria Shriver Our Town caught up with the two local moms and Atlanta Smiles dentists. In their 10 years of working together, they have made it their mission to find that balance. Dr Giesler has three children and Dr. Kovitch has two. Feeling passionate about being professional moms as well as supporting, empowering, and nurturing each other in all stages of life, they filled us in on their “formula for success”. OTM: We all know finding balance is not easy, what would you say has been key to you and Dr. Kovitch? Dr. Giesler: We have made it work because we are in different stages of life. There is a 20 year difference in our ages and our children are in different stages as well. We have established a beautiful mentorship, and we have completely different perspectives clinically, in life, our leadership, and in motherhood. We learn from each other daily as well as try to be flexible with each other’s schedules and life demands.
*We are looking to partner with Mission of Hope soon so we can expand our services internationally. For more information please visit: www.atlantasmiles.org/about/ Thanks to these two fabulous moms and gracious Doctor’s for all they do in bettering our communities. Make YOUR overall health a priority, check out Atlanta Smiles for yourself!
OTM: How do you run a successful practice AND raise five children combined? Dr. Giesler: That is the beauty of it, we share the responsibilities. The benefits to our patients are that we share the clinical hours and the responsibilities of running a private practice. Between the two of us, we have a vast level of knowledge and expertise and 55 years of experience within the industry. We also provide 24-hour private concierge service to our patients. When it comes to our children and family life, we have made it work because each of their needs are different. My kids range from ages 19-23 while Marianna’s kids are 4 and 7. Yes, our schedules get a bit hectic, but we find a way to work it out.
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Talkin’ Sports By Justin Hanover
Coaching in a Pandemic
ne thing you may not know about me is that I have been a soccer guy my whole life. Besides being a Play-by-Play broadcaster and PA Announcer, I am also the Campbell High School Boys Junior Varsity Soccer Community Coach. I am very thankful to have a Social Studies teacher named Ben Willis as my partner in crime. Ben is awesome and has been with me now for the last four years, with this past one, my fifth, being by far the strangest of them all, thanks to Covid-19. From the very beginning this year’s tone was a little different in the sense that if anybody at all felt an inkling of sickness, even if it was probably just allergies or a minor sore throat, they should not even think of coming to practice. There was no “suck it up” in 2021. This was a hard line drawn in the sand with no debate. Tryouts are always in the middle of January and normally the school can boast between 90 and 100 young men. This year we only had about 50 boys, literally half as many as normal. A good deal of the Campbell students stayed virtual and I assume that many parents did not allow or want their child to play this year with all of the virus uncertainty. Normally the JV squad would carry somewhere between 20 and 22 players on the roster. This season, though, we only had 16 in total. Fortunately, we had 16 deserving young men who were all high-quality players. Each training session started with the daily temperature checks of every player who arrived. That may not seem like a big deal but when you have players coming at different times, as some are virtual and live all over Cobb, then you have to stop the in-progress session to go over to the sideline and take a temperature.
Masks and social distancing were mandatory from the first minute to the last, even with soccer being an outdoor sport. Part of the thinking was that if a player or a coach did get sick, we could tell the powers that be we did everything possible from allowing it to spread, meaning maybe we wouldn’t be shut down as a program. Ben and I also had to make a few executive decisions along the way. We canceled all buses to away matches and stopped from meeting in the school before home matches. In fact, we only met twice as a team indoors for film sessions all season long, limiting those as much as we could and of course spacing everybody out with their masks on. I will let the words of Coach Willis wrap this piece up as they are as on point as could be: “It was a strange year, no doubt. But all of the coaches and players pulled together and did what needed to be done to make the season as safe as possible. Ultimately it was a resounding success and I’m not even talking about winning our final eight matches without conceding a single goal!” Kudos to all of our Cobb County coaches and beyond for selflessly creating a safe and nurturing environment for all of our young athletes. Justin Hanover is a sports reporter/analyst who has worked in the business since 1996. His stops have included ESPN, CNN, 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan. He has also done play-by-play analysis and color commentary ranging from the high school level all the way through the professional level. Justin lives in Smyrna with his wife and three children.
Continued on page 20
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ntroducing Dr. Shrenik Shah. He will be joining Schwartz Dentistry for Children in June. After graduating from high school in Tucson, AZ, Dr. Shah was enrolled in a rigorous combined 7-year undergrad and dental medicine program at Boston University where he received his Bachelors and Doctorate. After graduating dental school with high ranks, he completed his specialty training in pediatric dentistry at Boston University in 2012. Dr. Shah is a board certified Pediatric Dentist who strives for excellence in all aspects of his field. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He has been practicing for over 10 years and has extensive experience in all different clinical settings, including IV sedation and general anesthesia.
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11 1. Will Duncan Mt. Paran High School 2. Mt. Paran Robotics Club 3. Chase McCravy Hillgrove High School
12 4. Omar Jafaar Campbell High School 5. Cole Carden North Cobb Christian School 6. Lauren Harris Hillgrove High School
7. Katie Christopherson 8. Rylee Nepple Ace Aquatics Club 9. Charles Remy Harrison High School 10. Campbell Girls Swim Team
11. Jon Grier North Cobb Christian 12. Katie Hassenboehler Hillgrove High School 13. Davion Hood Harrison High School
Cobb’s Rising Stars
can feel the excitement within me as the end of my 8th grade year is approaching. Summer is almost here! No tests, no quizzes, no waking up early, and of course no schoolwork! But excitement isn’t my only emotion as I am also kind of sad. I feel a tiny bit robbed of my middle school experience. It definitely was not how I pictured it. I didn’t get to play all of my sports, act in my 7th grade drama production or get to be with my friends and extended family for all of 2020 and now into 2021. Looking forward to my next four years in high school, I am excited to get out of masks, hang out with my friends, perform in musicals, and play multiple sports for my school. My school recently came out with an email saying, “HOPES for next year”: n Face coverings are not necessary. n There will be no online school option. n No need to quarantine unless there is a positive COVID test.
These are not set in stone, but this is giving me a ton of hope for the future. I kept reading that email over and over again and then I found even better news. My retreat at the beginning of the year and my capstone trips are also planned! This past school year, neither of these were able to happen which really bummed me out. These are both events that really excite me and help me grow closer with my classmates. Thankfully, my school didn’t just give up, they found a different way for
by Evie Love
us to bond. Throughout middle school you are placed within one of six “houses” (groups). Every house has a different number of students from each grade where they compete against one another in order to win a big prize at the end of the school year. So, about a month ago the school came together and figured out an event that all of the houses could compete in, they chose kickball. We played all 5 teams, we won 3, tied 1, and lost 1. We became more and more excited with every game we won. We wanted to be in the championship so badly. Finally, the results were in for who made it to the championship… they announced one of the others houses and then us! Everyone was so happy, but we knew this would not be an easy game. We started off losing 4-0 in the first inning and then my amazing team tied it up with a Grand Slam. The time was ticking, and the clock was winding down. With 11 seconds left, we were in the field, and we knew the game would end in a tie. As the President of our house, I was very proud of how my team played and how much spirit we showed. I just really wanted a win, but I had to be happy with the effort my team put in. When I stopped to think about it, though, I realized that the best thing wasn’t being co-champs, the best thing was being on the road to normalcy. Even though everyone is thinking about the future, just remember, “don’t wish your life away, no matter how hard the situation is, find a positive and hold on to it”. Evie is a Cobb middle school student who loves volleyball, soccer, her family and friends. She’s kind, funny, determined and hardworking. She has achieved principals honor roll and was inducted into NJHS.
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It Is Going To Be An
By Kimberley Watkins-Swenk
n high school and college, I was a great reader and writer. I took Shakespeare on purpose and read Beowulf - twice - of my own free will. I wrote a 67 page, single-space, 12 font thesis for my Master’s. I was a language maven. Enter my youngest; he showed no interest in reading. Let’s practice our letters was akin to medieval torture in his eyes. He returned his kindergarten spelling and writing work with Star Wars drawings all over it - no language work insight. Reading time was let’s do a headstand on the floor time. A 40% on any language-based work was a reason to celebrate! We were happy he wrote something instead of crumpling his paper up and throwing it across the room, saying, “Bombs Away.” I was baffled; his teachers were not. Enter the psychological-educational testing. That is the vast, expensive evaluation that tests your kids for everything educational and psychological. This test was a lifesaver. We walked away with dyslexia, dysgraphia, expressive language disorder, and ADHD - impulsive diagnosis. The boy struggles to read, write, speak, and sit his butt in a chair. From a language perspective, he was a hot mess. Enter EPIC!. Oh, how I love EPIC!. EPIC! is a digital reading library with over 40,000 books. Books popular with kids. Books at every level on just about any topic and in any genre. This digital library is for any reading level, from Reading Bowl winners to people with dyslexia, like my son. For those who struggle with reading, EPIC! has a read-along feature where words are highlighted as the narrator reads the book. The children see the word at the same time as they hear the word spoken. A feature
that is also great for children trying to move up a level in reading.
STEAM-Aligned Content Quizzes To Test Knowledge Engaging Learning Videos Motivational Badges & Awards Personalization
Options Recommendations Based On Reading History Self-Directed Discovery Built-In Dictionary Progress Tracker Up To 4 Kids Per Account
Heed my advice, even those who don’t have children with language differences, get EPIC!. Make your summer reading as stress-free as possible. EPIC! is available for both Apple & Android devices. You can download the program to your phone, laptop, iPad and access it via your desktop. There is a free and paid version. The free version gives you access to a limited number of books and a limited amount of reading time. Paid access gives you both unlimited access to over 40,000 books and unlimited reading time. The paid version is $9.99 a month or $71.99 a year ($5.99 a month). I purchased the yearly plan and went in and clicked auto-renewal quicker than you can say, “Where is my glass of wine?” EPIC! also has a gifting option - hello grandparents and favorite aunt. Here is to a stress-free reading summer! Visit www.getepic.com for more information or visit your App Store and search for EPIC! Kimberly Watkins-Swenk is a social media professional and also OTM’s Digital Content Director & Editor. Kimberly and her family split their time between Smyrna and Durango, Colorado. She is married to Jason and has two sons, Luke and Chase, and two cats she loves more than anything.
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Don’t be a victim of being on the market for too long, even in a seller’s market!!! Selecting the right price to sell your house will achieve the best results.
f you’re thinking about selling your house, one of the first steps you’ll take is setting the asking price, a maneuver that requires the ability to find the perfect balance between attracting solid offers and ultimately receiving top dollar. If you’re working with a realtor or other industry professional, you’ll probably hear talk of fair market value, which typically means the highest value an educated buyer will pay. Fair market value is usually not the asking price. Many agents will begin by conducting a competitive market analysis of your house and give you an estimate of the fair market value of your home. The analysis takes into consideration comparable home sales, typically over the last year, taking into consideration similarities and differences between the other homes and yours. It will also consider the housing market in your area. If you’re in a hot seller’s market, like several communities throughout metro Atlanta, you’ll have the advantage. Over the last several months the market has been gaining steam and the seller is in the driver’s seat more than the past years. In some areas, the average number of days on the market went from 30 days to 7 days or less. This is great news for sellers, but you’ll still want to be careful and avoid pricing your home too high, which almost always means your house will stay on the market longer, even in a seller’s market.
As you work with your agent and set your price, you’ll want to ask yourself (and your agent): • What are the facts relative to my house for this market? Be careful when you consider pricing to focus on the factual data available versus emotional connections. • What are the market conditions for your specific neighborhood and community? Not all communities are created equal in this market. And not all neighborhoods within a community are created equal. It can be a complex equation to get your price just right. • How does my house stack up against the competition? This one is very tricky. It’s often helpful to take a step back and view your house as if you were an incoming buyer. Your real estate professional can also help you evaluate this. Your agent, as well as friends, relatives, and neighbors, can assist you by pointing out your house’s advantages and disadvantages from a more objective viewpoint. • Am I being realistic? You absolutely want top dollar for your investment, be careful to separate this from the emotional attachment you may have to your home. Also consider your motivation for selling your house. Here’s another thing to consider as you evaluate putting your house on the market: Some upgrades and home improvements warrant being included in your asking price consideration. Kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations and some others should be factored in. Some are lifestyle additions that you and your family enjoyed while living in the home. Also, the more personal the improvement, like a swimming pool, or a sunroom the less likely it will be viewed favorably by potential buyers. While you may be able to recoup some of your investment, it won’t give you 100 percent of what you paid. Your real estate agent can help you evaluate what return percentage you can expect on your home’s improvements. You can reach me via cell or email and let me know if I can assist you with a free, personalized market analysis for your house. Deborah Ratchford - Top Producing Realtor with Proven Results!!! Keller Williams Realty Cityside Debratchford@kw.com 678-570-4779
Expires May 31, 2021
A Mother’s L
hen I started K-9 Coach 20 years ago, I was the mother of four legged kids: Maggie, Mulligan, Munson and Lewis the cat. I have written about them many times. In fact, Maggie is the reason I started K-9 Coach! Life changed when in the late summer of 2007, my son was born. Munson had passed. Dutch had joined the pack. Maggie, Mulligan and Lewis were old, but doing well. Jump ahead and now my son will be 14 soon! The pups and Lewis have all crossed the rainbow bridge and we now have Relic and Rooster as our four-legged kiddos. My son LOVES dogs and, although we have and will always have pups, I know that the experiences he had with our dogs early on will be carried his entire life. These memories will paint how he reacts to and treats other dogs. They will influence what he tells his own children about dogs and so on and so forth. I realize now that the socialization my pups received, well before my son was born, AND the socialization he has received with pups, since he was born, all serve to enrich each other now and for future generations. In what is hopefully the sunset of our COVID journey, now MORE THAN EVER, pups (and their people, for that matter) need proper socialization. With that, I wanted to take the opportunity this month to provide you with some valuable tips and tools to help you socialize your pups and your children correctly to each other. As always, we are here to help you and your pup succeed.
General Suggestions • Set yourself, your dog and your child up for success. If either do not want to approach a stranger or a stranger objects, accept it, make a mental note to deal with this in a more comfortable setting and move on. Do not try to coax them. • Have a plan. Recreational sporting activities, parks, friends’ houses, etc… are great for socialization, but don’t “jump off the deep end.” Observing these places without your puppy first will help you succeed. • Have rules. If children want to meet your puppy, their parents must be present and you should never leave the puppy and child together without adult supervision. You don’t want your puppy to accidentally harm your child or vice versa. • Know when to say when. It’s about quality, not quantity. Overwhelming a pup with a lot of children will undermine the socialization process. Too much time will just get your puppy too excited and distracted or increase the probability that something will go wrong.
Dog Specific • If you are treating your pup, give treats to your puppy yourself or ask children to toss them on the ground near your puppy so he doesn’t learn to steal food from their hands, accidentally nip them, etc.... • Do not allow your puppy to interact roughly with kids. This includes nipping, chasing, biting, etc. Kids run. They wrestle. They squeal. When needed, redirect your puppy’s attention with obedience work, games, an interactive toy, etc… We do not want him practicing bad behaviors. • Socialize your puppy to children of all ages. Infants, toddlers, 5 yearolds, 9 year-olds, etc… all behave much differently. Be sure to cover all bases so your puppy becomes familiar with many different types of children. • If your puppy is nervous around children, or they growl or snap at a child, do not punish them. Instead, redirect them, remove them from the situation and consult a professional, positive reinforcement dog trainer to help you with this process.
Child Specific • If you are going to allow kids to meet your puppy, coach the kids to “ask the dog” by standing a few feet away and offering inviting body language — avoiding direct eye contact, patting a leg, kissy sound, crouch-
ing down, speaking sweetly. Hopefully these lessons will be taken with the child when they meet another dog later. • Encourage children to approach your dog calmly and slowly. Even the gentlest and most patient dog can be startled by loud noises or sudden movements. • Don’t allow kids to pick up, hug, or heavily pet your puppy. Puppies that are exposed to this can learn that children are no fun. • Guide the interaction based on what is developmentally appropriate for different age children. • Children should be taught to always ask before touching a stranger dog. Some dogs simply do not like children and failing to ask can result in more than just hurt feelings. Socializing your puppy to children is a lot of fun. Not only are you teaching your puppy that children are wonderful, but you’re helping to prevent dog to child bites and you are teaching children that puppies are wonderful. Please remember that if you are having difficulty or are struggling during the socialization process, consult a professional, positive dog trainer as soon as possible and before negative associations set in for your pup. When I started K-9 Coach, I had a pretty simple goal. I wanted to help people experience joy with their pups. Since then, and even today, this goal is reflected in our work. I hope that you will take advantage of the above information and that it will help you to experience joy today in your family and in the future when your children are teaching their children. As I close this article, I am reminded of one of my favorite mom quotes “Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
Amber, Jarrette & the K-9 Coach Team
The owner is a Master Groomer, member of the Georgia Groomers Alliance & the IPG • Weekend Appointments
COME SEE US IN SMYRNA! 3988 Atlanta Rd SE #112 Smyrna, GA 30080
All doctors at Cumberland Animal Clinic have extensive experience in medicine and surgery for dogs and cats. We are conveniently located at the corner of Spring Road conveniently and Village Parkway in Smyrna. in yrna.
Monday thru Friday 8am-6pm Saturday 8am-1pm Sunday CLOSED
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770-807-7997 PAGE 30
Deborah M Ratchford
Keller Williams Cityside 3350 Atlanta Road Smyrna, GA 30080
I Want To Sell Your Home Today!
DebD id it
C: 678-570-4779 O: 770-874-6205
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TOWNHOME FOR SALE - in Smyrna!
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Ameris Bank Mortgage Services Barry Butler PAGE 32
Senior Loan Officer Member FDIC
600 Townpark Ln Ste 190 Kennesaw, GA. 30144 O 404.553.2621 C 770.365.7179 barry.butler@Amerisbank.com