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FEBRUARY 2021

OXFO R D

Congratulations

COTTON

2021 PET COVER CONTEST WINNER LOST AND FOUND IN OXFORD WAGNOLIA BELL S PET CHAPERONES LOCAL TREASURE REGIONAL REHAB


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DEPA RTMENT S 12

Letter From the Publisher

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Digital Details

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Calendar

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Shoutouts

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Meet Our Cover Pets

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EVENTS 26

Recipes: Date-Night Dinner

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Out & About

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Good Neighbor: Lynette Sandlin

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Singe Feaste

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Holly Jolly Holidays

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Yellow Ribbon Program

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Tupelo Flea Market

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Santa’s Last Stroll


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FE ATURES 30 Pets of Honor

Wagnolia Bells ensures brides and grooms can make four-legged family members part of the most important day of their lives.

36 Lost Dog Found

A communitywide search for a golden retriever reveals Oxford’s big heart and the magic of social media.

42 Labor of Love

Tupelo’s Regional Rehabilitation Center and its army of supporters help people with special needs at no cost to the patient.

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L E T T E R from the P U B L I S H E R It’s no secret that our furry family members hold special places in our hearts, but in 2020 I experienced this in an entirely new way. Stuck at home for more hours and weeks than I ever imagined possible, our 4-year-old dog, Lily, and my 9-year-old daughter became best friends. They played more hours together than I ever dreamed possible. They went for walks, and they visited neighbors from a distance. We even took Lily to an outdoor restaurant that allowed dogs, and we made special dog treats just for fun. Lily seemed both perplexed and thrilled about us being home for days and hours at a time. After nearly six months of being together nonstop, I’ll never forget the night

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before M.K. returned to school in August when she cried before bed because she knew she would miss Lily the next day. I cried too. In this issue, we celebrate our pets. On page 30, learn about Wagnolia Bells, a unique business that is devoted to showing special pets the love they deserve on their owners’ wedding days. And be sure to meet our pet cover contest winners on page 24. We received over 1,500 entries to our annual pet cover contest, and we had some fabulous contestants, including cats, dogs, birds, bunnies, horses, goats and more. We know each and every one holds a special place in its owner’s heart. This issue also includes a story on page 42 about Regional Rehab, a Tupelobased nonprofit that has been serving north

@INVITATIONOXFORD @INVITATIONM AGA ZINE

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Mississippians with special needs for many years. Organizations like Regional Rehab have faced monumental challenges during this past year, and we sincerely hope our community will rally around them as they recover. We’ll do our part by highlighting community organizations regularly in this magazine in the coming months. We hope you will enjoy this issue; it was both fun and meaningful to create following a year that presented us with so many obstacles. Here’s to a doggone good year ahead of us in 2021.

RACHEL M. WEST, PUBLISHER

@INVOXFORD @INVMAGA ZINE


PUBLISHER Rachel West

EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Emily Welly EXECUTIVE EDITOR Leslie Criss OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Mary Moreton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sarah McCullen Michaela Gibson Morris Baljot Singh COPY EDITOR Ashley Arthur EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Abbey Edmonson

OFFICE

BUSINESS MANAGER Hollie Hilliard DISTRIBUTION Brian Hilliard MAIN OFFICE 662-234-4008

ART

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Holly Vollor STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Joe Worthem CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Lisa Roberts CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR Frank Estrada

ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Alise M. Emerson Leigh Lowery Lynn McElreath Moni Simpson Whitney Worsham Anna Zemek ADVERTISING DESIGNERS Becca Pepper ADVERTISING INFORMATION ads@invitationoxford.com

To subscribe to one year (10 issues) or to buy an announcement, visit invitationmag.com. To request a photographer at your event, email Mary at mary.invitation@gmail.com. Invitation Magazines respects the many diverse individuals and organizations that make up north Mississippi and strives to be inclusive and representative of all members of our community.

PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE

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D I G I T A L details E XC LU S I V E LY O N L I N E AT I N V I TAT I O N M AG .C O M

social S N A P S

Pe t C ove r C o nt e s t

We love being tagged in your photos!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2021 Pet Cover Contests! We held two contests (one in our Oxford market and one in our northeast Mississippi market) in early December. In all, there were more than 1,500 submissions, and our contests reached more than 22,000 people! There were so many worthy candidates. A few of our favorite submissions are pictured above (aside from the winners, pictured on our magazine covers).

We lc o me Ba c k

Re c i p e s To R ave A b out

Congrats to Mary Beth Gillespie, winner of our online giveaway for Ole Miss students! We treated her to a gift basket filled with goodies to welcome her back to Oxford following a very long winter break. We are glad to see students back in town! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more contests and giveaways.

Never to be tamed. L O C A T I O N : Mississippi U S E R N A M E : @valsimages

This past week, Olivia and Jacob celebrated their first wedding anniversary! L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @carolineunderwoodphotography Who’s hungry? Flip to page 26 for a Valentine’s Day date-night dinner created by contributor Sarah McCullen, and check out our Friday Food Blog at invitationmag.com for more innovative recipes.

CALENDAR AND EVENTS

Have an exciting event coming up? Visit our website and share the details on our online community calendar. There’s a chance photos from your event will be featured in an upcoming magazine! FOLLOW US

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May you find your #happyplace … L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @jamesdowd1 |

@INVOXFORD @INVMAGA ZINE


This time last month, we nixed our large wedding plans and traveled down south to get married! L O C A T I O N : Oxford U S E R N A M E : @blissofmcbritt

A few of our many holiday treats priced at $20 and under … L O C A T I O N : Taylor U S E R N A M E : @lostdogcoffee

… tomorrow is Cam & Morgan’s wedding day! L O C A T I O N : Bruce U S E R N A M E : @finchcollective

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C O M M U N I T Y FEBRUARY 2021

Oxford Community Market

George McConnell Shows

ONGOING

This Vicksburg native performs on Proud Larry’s stage weekly. He co-founded roots rock jam band Beanland and played for Widespread Panic and Kudzu Kings. See website for ticket pricing. 8 p.m., Proud Larry’s, Oxford.

Oxford Community Market’s winter season hours are Tuesdays noon-3 p.m, January to March, at the Old Armory Pavilion, Oxford. oxfordcommunitymarket.com

FEBRUARY 2

proudlarrys.com

Yoga for a Cause F E B R U A R Y 7, 1 4 , 2 1 A N D 2 8

Baptiste Power Yoga Oxford hosts a free power flow yoga class benefiting the Lafayette County Literacy Council. For more information, contact 662-638-3289 or BaptistePowerYogaOxford@gmail.com. Sundays 3-4 p.m., the Yoga Space, Oxford.

Groundhog Day

baptistepoweryogaoxford.com

FEBRUARY 2

Valentine’s Day

Will we have six more weeks of winter or spring? Pay attention to Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast to find out.

Hold your loved ones close and support local restaurants and shops today.

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FEBRUARY 14

Valentine’s Dinner with SoLa and FlashPhoto FEBRUARY 14

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council hosts a romantic dinner event at The Powerhouse, featuring FlashPhoto photo booths and intimate dinners by SoLa. Reserve times for photos and dinner. oxfordarts.com


President’s Day Art Camp FEBRUARY 15

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council invites children ages 3-12 to learn about printmaking. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for full-day camp; 8 a.m.-noon for half-day camp. See website for cost. The Powerhouse. oxfordarts.com

Mardi Gras FEBRUARY 16

The official start of the Lent season, Fat Tuesday looks a little different this year due to Covid-19. Cheers to a fun and socially distanced holiday.

Miss New Albany Hospitality Pageants FEB RUA RY 20

New Albany Main Street hosts its Miss New Albany Hospitality and Miss Teen New Albany Hospitality pageants, offering scholarships to young women as prizes. See the website for application details and requirements. Tickets $5. 6:30-9:30 p.m., Magnolia Civic Center and Cine Theatre. newalbanymainstreet.com FEBRUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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S H O U T O U T S G old e n Wave s We lc o me Wave ly

Tupelo High School has gained a new faculty member, and she has four paws and a furry coat. Her name is Wavely, and she’s the school’s therapy dog-in-training. Special education teacher Anne Marie Goad initiated the proposal for a therapy dog in 2019. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, those plans were put on pause. However, Goad continued looking for promising pups that came her way. She saw a Facebook post

COVID to find ways to meet the needs of students’ social and emotional health,” Goad said. “Now, after COVID and all of the changes and uncertainty everyone is going through, it is even more important to find different ways to bring comfort. Wavely will be that extra source of support by bringing joy and unconditional love for all students and staff.” Follow Wavely’s progress on Instagram @tupelogolden_wavely.

ANNE MARIE GOAD

for a Goldendoodle puppy after someone else changed their mind about adopting her. “Wavely is full of personality,” Goad said. “I’m even more certain that this dog was meant to be. She is very curious and very trainable. She loves to ‘work’ on her skills. She also loves people, especially young people. She gets so excited to see people and doesn’t get timid. She is full of energy but also loves to lay beside you for belly rubs.” Wavely is currently in training. She passed her first certification, the American Kennel Club Star Puppy Test, and is on her way to becoming fully certified and ready for work sometime this year. As a therapy dog, Wavely’s primary job will be to contribute to a positive climate at the school, whether bringing smiles to the faces she passes in the hall or serving as emotional support for students during counseling sessions. “There was significant need before

MELISSA GROSE

C o n g rat s , C a n no n C a n i ne C o m p e t it io n W i n ne r s!

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Invitation Magazines wasn’t the only local business to hold a pet contest recently. Cannon Motors of Mississippi held its third such contest — the 2020 Cannon Canine Competition — last year. This time, Cannon changed its format to a photo competition. The first two years, the contest was a writing competition, where dog owners submitted essays about their furry friends. Hosting the competition were Michael Joe and Cheryl Cannon. For the 2020 contest, Oxford residents were invited to submit photographs in three categories: Best Looking Canine in Oxford; Owner/Canine Closest Look-alike; and Most Unique Photo. Not surprisingly, there were many submissions to the photo contest. “The judges had a very difficult task of making selections for the three categories

and then naming the Best Overall Winner,” said Cheryl Cannon. Ultimately, Khloe (pictured at left), a Doberman pinscher belonging to Melissa Grose, was named top dog. Benny, a springer spaniel belonging to Sydney Fields was the winner of Most Unique Photo; BooBoo, a sheltie owned by Michelle Pickens, was named the Best Looking Canine in Oxford; and Dixie, a goldendoodle belonging to Mary Fox Henry, was winner of the Owner/ Canine Closest Look-alike award. As overall winner, Khloe won the opportunity to be featured in a Cannon advertisement and to have her portrait painted by artist Rosie Vassallo. Sadly, Khloe has died since being announced the winner. Other winners received gifts from sponsors Crossroads Animal Hospital, DeltaDog, Hollywood Feed and PetSmart.


SHOUTOUTS

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N i g ht to S h i ne O x fo rd

Though COVID-19 has changed the way much of the world looks, in many cases, the show has gone on in different but innovative ways. That’s the case with the 2021 Night to Shine Oxford event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Like meetings, concerts, church services and much more, Night to Shine will go virtual. The event offers the experience of a prom night for those ages 14 and older who have special needs. Grace Bible Church will host Oxford’s Night to Shine on Feb. 12 from 6-9 p.m. Tim Tebow created Night to Shine in 2004. Last February, 721 churches across 50 states and 34 countries hosted Night to Shine events. The mission of the Tim Tebow Foundation is “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” In Oxford, those working to provide young people with this special event will provide prom kits filled with lots of fun surprises. Prom participants will be able to pick up their prom kits at Grace Bible Church via a red carpet drive-thru. To register as an honored guest, to sponsor someone or to make a donation, visit gracebibleofoxford.com/nighttoshine. FEBRUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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O X F O R D : C ot to n t he T i b e t a n Te r r ie r

It comes as no surprise the Oxford home of the Balach-Schuesselin family is filled with the sound of music. Nancy Maria Balach is the chairwoman of the music department at the University of Mississippi and sings opera. Husband John Schuesselin is a faculty member in the music department and a trumpeter. Son Stuart, a high school sophomore, plays trumpet like his dad; senior Mack and seventh-grader Lainey sing. And then there’s

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Cotton, the family’s 1½-year-old Tibetan terrier. Cotton hears none of her family’s music because she was born deaf. But that doesn’t stop the adorable pup from being a star in the family. “We are first-time pet owners,” Balach said. “Neither my husband nor I had pets as kids. It’s always been a dream of my husband’s to have a pet.” The family spent the summer of 2019 in her husband’s native Ohio, but Balach needed to return to Oxford for work, leaving her husband and their kids behind. That was when the family decided the time had come to get a puppy. They drove to Virginia to get 8-week-old Cotton. Back in Ohio while playing his trumpet, Schuesselin noticed the new puppy did not seem to be responding to the sounds. A test suggested by the breeder — to drop a cookie sheet on the floor behind Cotton — also failed to garner any response. “She lives in a house of musicians, a loud house,” Balach said. “But she seems just fine. She’s been like a therapy dog for our family, forced us to look at things differently.” Schuesselin agrees with his wife.

“She just rolls with her deafness,” Schuesselin said. When they talk about Cotton, they nearly gush about this beloved four-legged family member. “She is the sweetest and most loving thing, such a cuddler,” Balach said. “She has been such a gift.”


N O R T H E A S T : B e l le t he D a l m at i a n “She doesn’t jump on people,” Rutherford said. “She gently eases up until her paws are on your shoulders, then she actually hugs. She is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had.” Though a high percentage of Dalmatians are deaf, Belle hears just fine. She sleeps with 12-year-old Karson Rutherford, and though she doesn’t spend a lot of time at the fire house with the chief, she has visited several times. She also likes to curl up in a lap, any lap. At 75 pounds, Belle’s not a lap dog, but she believes she is. “We are so excited she was chosen for the cover of Invitation,” Rutherford said. “We certainly think she’s cute, but there were so many cute animals submitted.”

Courtney Rutherford and her 17-yearold daughter, Katie Beth, took a moment in late December to enter the family canines in the Invitation pet contest. Katie Beth entered 8-year-old Barkley, a shih tzu; her mama entered Belle, the family’s 3-year-old Dalmatian. Rutherford gave it not one more thought until she received word from a friend that Belle was one of the top four finalists. “My husband, Jackie, is the fire chief of the Falkner Fire Department,” said Rutherford, choral director at Ripley High

School. “He wanted a Dalmatian.” After losing a beloved pup, the Rutherfords waited until they were ready for another dog, and their search led them to a litter of Dalmatian puppies in Corinth. Since Dalmatians are white when born, the family waited a few weeks until spots began to appear before choosing Belle. “We picked the puppy with the most spots,” Rutherford said. The beautifully marked Belle loves tennis balls, but her most favorite thing to do is give hugs.

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D A T E - N I G H T dinner T R E AT YO U R VA L E N T I N E TO A DAT E-N I G H T D I N N E R AT H O M E . RECIPES AND STYLING BY SARAH McCULLEN

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pread the tablecloth, light the candles and indulge in an upscale homecooked meal this Valentine’s Day with these original recipes.

brown butter C R A B S C A M P I with L E M O N - W A L N U T gremolata

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½ pound angel hair pasta ½ cup butter 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 shallots, minced 4 cloves garlic, minced ½ cup white wine Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste 8 ounces lump crabmeat ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, stirring constantly, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add olive oil, shallots and garlic. Stir for about 1 minute. Add white wine, and return to medium

heat. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine, then add crab. Stir again, then add prepared pasta, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Toss with tongs until pasta is coated. Top with Lemon-Walnut Gremolata (recipe at top, right), and serve immediately.


LEMON-WALNUT

gremolata

1 tablespoon butter ½ cup walnut pieces ¼ cup garlic-herb dry breadcrumbs ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese Zest of 1 large lemon ½ cup chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon garlic powder In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add walnuts, and cook, until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes, then let cool. Process cooled nuts in a food processor or chopper until finely chopped. Toss chopped walnuts with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, parsley, salt and garlic powder. Sprinkle over pasta.

SIMPLE

salad

2 large handfuls arugula 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon honey ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to taste Put arugula in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic powder, salt and pepper; whisk. Toss dressing with arugula, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. FEBRUARY 202 1 | INVITATION

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DATE

N I G H T dinner with red wine-raspberry BROWNIE

SAUCE

1 box brownie mix (for an extra-indulgent dessert, try a dark chocolate brownie mix with chocolate chips) 2 cups frozen or fresh raspberries ž cup sugar Zest and juice of 1 orange 3 tablespoons red wine 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional Chocolate chip ice cream Prepare brownies according to package directions. In a saucepan, cook raspberries and sugar over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and crushing berries with a spoon, until berries pop and mixture bubbles. Remove from heat, and stir in orange zest and juice. Let cool about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Add wine and, if desired, Grand Marnier, and stir until combined. Serve brownies with ice cream, and top with raspberry sauce. Visit invitationmag.com, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for these recipes and many more, posted weekly on our Food Blog.

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P e t S of Honor WAGNOLIA BELLS ENSURES BRIDES AND G R O O M S C A N E A S I LY M A K E T H E I R F O U R-L E G G E D FA M I LY M E M B E R S PA R T O F T H E M O S T I M P O R TA N T D AY O F T H E I R L I V E S . WRIT TEN BY BAL JOT SINGH

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Archie, who inspired Wagnolia Bells, with his owner and groomsmen at The Mill at Plein Aire. Archie took part in the wedding but did not have a designated caregiver. The experience led Kathey Garret, mother of the bride, to found Wagnolia Bells. PHOTOGRAPHED BY K ATE ANTHONY PHOTOGR APHY

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ike most brides, when Kathey Garret’s daughter got married in May 2019 she had a grand vision for the details that made up her big day. “My daughter (Mary) wanted her dog, Archie, at her wedding,” said Garret. On the day of the ceremony, however, it poured rain. To keep the pup out of trouble — and out of the mud — Garret, her husband and the rest of the bride and groom’s family members were tasked with taking care of Archie. It was a hassle — but also an inspiration. After the groom’s father almost missed the mother-son dance to take care of the dog and Kathey was left wet and muddy, the wheels in her head began to turn. “I remember myself wishing there was just one vendor that could take care of the dog,” she said. So, Garret went to work, and Wagnolia Bells, a full-service pet chaperone service for weddings and other events, was born. It was a big leap for Garret, a retired military spouse who spent most of her life working as an English teacher or in retail. But the self-described “forced extrovert” and dog lover saw a gap in the market she was excited to help fill. Continued on page 32


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Continued from page 30 “I reached out to businesses in northern Virginia, Houston, Texas and Minnesota who helped me get started,” said Garrett. “I got petCPR certified and took courses at the University of Mississippi and began booking my services last summer.” The business, named for their first family dog, Magnolia Bell, provides pet attendants for ceremonies and receptions, chauffeurs the pet to and from the venue, assists with the photo shoots, and feeds, walks and cleans up after the pet. Their goal, Garret said, is to keep the animal as happy and comfortable as possible. “I hired other chaperones, and I make sure they are pet-CPR certified through the Red Cross, have reliable transportation, are physically fit enough to stand for six to seven hours and know how

At left, Wagnolia Bells owner Kathey Garret and her recent addition, Henry. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

Above, Henry and Willow with their owner at The Faulkner in Jackson. PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROBBY FOLLOWELL FOTOGRAPHY

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to care for these animals independently,” said Garrett. Before a wedding, Garrett or a team member meets with the pet and its owners to get an understanding of their temperament and sensitivities, and to learn about their role in the event. “From the moment that we met Kathey, we knew our Siberian husky, Saber, would be in excellent hands,” said Carrie Henson, a former Wagnolia Bells client. “She met us two days before the wedding to do a meet-and-greet with Saber. She took him on a walk to get to know him a little bit and so that he would be familiar with her on the day of the wedding. She took him the day before the wedding to the venue site for a trial run so that he would nail his act as ring bearer in our wedding.” Continued on page 34

Winston, pictured above and at right, took part in his owners’ wedding day at the Memphis Botanic Garden. PHOTOGR APHED BY MICHELLE E VANS ART AND K ATHE Y G ARRE T

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Continued from page 33 Garret and her team also work with clients to plan ways to incorporate their pets into their events. “After we booked, she (Garret) always made sure to keep in touch with ideas and different ways to include Winston, our French bulldog, into our wedding day,” said Megan Kuntz, who used Wagnolia Bell’s service for their September wedding. “I couldn’t imagine our wedding day without her and the care she gave Winston. She even stood by our photographer with toys and got him to look attentive for the camera.” Garret believes the demand for Wagnolia Bells and services like it will continue to grow as more and more brides and grooms look for ways to incorporate their four-legged family members in their big day. To learn more about Wagnolia Bells and its services, find the company at WagnoliaBells.com and on Facebook and Instagram. Garrett pledges 10% of the revenue from each booking to a shelter of the client’s choice. The company operates in north Mississippi; Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. Saber participated in his owners’ wedding at The Jefferson in Oxford by walking down the aisle and greeting guests along the way. PHOTO G R APHED BY TAY LO R SQ UA R E PH OTO G R A PH Y

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Lost Dog

F o u n d A COMMUNITYWIDE SEARCH FOR A GOLDEN RETRIEVER REVEALS OXFORD’S BIG HEART AND THE MAGIC OF SOCIAL MEDIA. WRITTEN BY MICHAEL A GIBSON MORRIS

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ast fall, a golden retriever named Finley set Oxford atwitter with his disappearing act. The 1½-year-old pup from Clarksdale came to town for a football weekend in October with his human Ann Granville Heaton, a University of Mississippi alumna. Faster than you can say “abracadabra,” Finley made his great escape from the condo Heaton was sharing with her parents, Cliff and Chris Heaton. “It happened in five minutes; he was nowhere to be found,” Heaton said. Heaton felt secure letting Finley out into the small, gated backyard area while she started coffee. But the gate that was usually shut was ajar the morning of Sunday, Oct. 24. When Finley didn’t materialize, Heaton and her family started a search on foot, combing the condo development and checking with neighbors. They widened the search around the University Drive area without luck. “It was crazy; no one had seen him,” she said. The American Humane Society estimates 10 million pets are lost each year in the United States. Even well-behaved dogs can be spooked by fireworks, scared by a repairman, tempted by an interesting smell or made anxious by any unanticipated event, said Oxford veterinarian Dr. Apryl Garcia of Bottletree Animal Hospital in Oxford. “They think it’s not going to happen to them until it does,” Garcia said. Heaton had already taken one of the most important steps recommended routinely

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by veterinarians and animal shelters: Finley had been microchipped as a puppy. While microchips do not use GPS to track the animals, they are tied to a database that will provide contact information for the clinic or shelter that placed the microchip or the pet owners, if they registered. Shelters and clinics routinely scan animals brought to them to look for a chip. A 2009 study found that lost dogs with microchips were more than twice

as likely to be reunited with their humans. “It’s absolutely the easiest way,” said Tupelo veterinarian Dr. Shelley Russell of Animal Care Center of Tupelo. “Microchips are not going to fall off.” Placing a microchip, which is the size of a grain of rice, doesn’t require surgery. “It’s not any different from a shot or vaccination,” Garcia said. Continued on page 38


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Continued from page 36

Famous Finley When Finley failed to reappear by Sunday night, Heaton and her family got their human network busy using social media and distributing flyers. Oxford police, local businesses and individuals shared Finley’s photo widely. Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffen provided high-profile signal boosts, asking for help to find Finley on Twitter. He offered to double the reward the Heatons had put up. “On Monday, my phone blew up,” Heaton said. “It really showed how wonderful Oxford is.” Strangers volunteered to go out looking for Finley. People reported sightings of golden retrievers matching Finley’s photo. During the search, Heaton found another lost dog and was able to help him get home. “It was very exciting to help

"ON MONDAY, MY PHONE BLEW UP. IT REALLY SHOWED HOW WONDERFUL OXFORD IS." - Ann Granville

JUST IN CASE • Spay and neuter pets; unaltered pets have a stronger drive to roam. • Keep dogs on leashes when not in an enclosed space. • Microchip your animal and keep your contact information updated. Vets and animal shelters routinely scan animals for chip identification. • Include a contact phone number on a collar or harness.

Heaton

If They Get Lost someone else,” Heaton said. Heaton kept searching through Tuesday night. She had to work in Clarksdale on Wednesday and then immediately returned to the Oxford condominium. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Heaton paused to check in with neighbors who live two doors down. They chatted for a minute while standing in front of the house in between. Heaton remembers hearing a noise that sounded like birds bumping into a window. Continued on page 40

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• Check in with local animal shelters and your vet’s office. • Use your networks. Get a photo and a contact number up on social media. • Go old school — walk your neighborhood and put up flyers. • Look farther than you think they would have gone. Dogs can cover a lot of ground, and they may have been picked up by well-meaning good Samaritans. Sources: Dr. Apryl Garcia of Bottletree Animal Hospital, Oxford; and Dr. Shelley Russell of Animal Care Center of Tupelo


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Continued from page 38

"AND WE LOOKED IN THE WINDOW, AND THERE HE WAS." - Ann Granville Heaton

“They were saying, ‘I hate that we haven’t seen Finley,’ and we looked in the window, and there he was,” she said. For four days, Finley had been next door, locked in the neighbor’s condo. As best as Heaton can figure out, Finley had slipped in the open garage door of the neighboring condo and remained hidden as the residents, who live in Jackson, departed on Sunday, she said. Instead of being out in the cold, he made himself comfortable and helped himself to Halloween candy. When Finley heard Heaton talking,

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he pushed through the shutters so he was visible through the window. Neighbors were able to contact the condo owners and get access to liberate Finley. Heaton began to clean up the mess he had made over four days. Finley got a clean bill of health from his vet and seems none the worse for his adventure, Heaton said. Back home in Clarksdale, Finley alternates going to work with Heaton and her dad, supervising the family pecan farm.

The family sent Coach Kiffen a basket of pecans and a photo of Heaton and Finley to thank him for his help. In the wake of Finley’s four-day adventure, Heaton is even more vigilant about sharing posts for lost animals. “It just breaks my heart,” Heaton said. “I know how they feel; you want to help them get home.” Finley has a new accessory just in case he decides to try another disappearing act — a tracking collar.


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Labor of Love F O R N E A R LY 6 0 Y E A R S , T U P E LO ’ S N O N P R O F I T R E G I O N A L R E H A B I L I TAT I O N C E N T E R A N D I T S A R MY O F S U P P O R T E R S H AV E H E L P E D P E O P L E W I T H S P E C I A L N E E D S AT N O C O S T TO T H E PAT I E N T. WRITTEN BY LESLIE CRISS

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

or nearly six decades, residents of north Mississippi communities have been within driving distance of a true treasure. Though thousands have been blessed by the benefits of Regional Rehabilitation Center, some remain unaware. But the bottom line is this: Regional Rehab, a privately funded nonprofit, offers a plethora of “therapeutic, restorative and reparative rehabilitation programs” to those in need. And the cost to those receiving Regional Rehab care or to their insurance companies is absolutely nothing. Through the years, Regional Rehab’s services have given hope to those in need of outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, dyslexia treatment, audiology services and early childhood intervention. As a nonprofit organization, Regional Rehab depends on donors and supporters to help with community fundraisers. One such event

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held annually for more than 20 years is the Kentucky Derby Party, where food and fun abound, accompanied by a silent auction and betting with Derby Dollars on the famous “Run for the Roses” at Churchill Downs. The popular event was hosted for a number of years by longtime supporter Tom Evans, who died in 2020. In 2019, the Derby party raised more than $12,000 for Regional Rehab. These days, a yearly telethon also provides major funding for the center. In its early years, the fundraiser began as a radiothon, which, over time, technologically morphed into the telethon. When watching a Regional Rehab telethon, one learns not only about its substantial history of helping but also about the people — those who have received services and the humanitarians whose advocacy of Regional Rehab is, more often than not, a lifetime labor of love. “The Regional Rehabilitation Center is blessed to have an amazing staff and board,” said Regional Rehab director Robbie


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"when i did find out about this place and skyler started early intervention, our lives changed."

Parman. “Each person deeply cares about our community and concentrates on how we can help as many people as possible on a daily basis. We are so proud of our history, the many who aided in the establishment of the rehab center, and all the individuals who have served to keep our doors open throughout the years. We are honored to be able to continue that legacy.” Parman was a social worker with the Department of Human Services and serving as the campaign director for United Way when his path crossed that of Kay Mathews, then director of Regional Rehab, and a bond was formed. When Mathews retired as director, Parman stepped in. He has served in that capacity for over six years. The idea for Regional Rehab came about over 60 years ago, percolating in the head and heart of a Tupelo woman named Nita Williams Butler. Butler’s brother, Milford Williams — 11 years younger than his sister — was diagnosed at a young age with cerebral palsy. Upset at the lack of opportunities for her brother, Butler became a fierce advocate for Milford and others like him. She wrote hundreds of letters, did research and eventually helped organize a speech clinic for those with cerebral palsy in four rooms at Harrisburg Baptist Church on West Main Street (now the Link Centre.) At the time, another Tupelo resident, John A. “Red” Rasberry, heard of Butler’s work to help her brother and others living with CP. Rasberry, too, had a brother who had received the same diagnosis. Butler and Rasberry worked together on the CP clinic, which ultimately became Regional Rehabilitation Center. A black and white photograph in the Daily Journal from the early 1960s, shows a row of men and Butler, shovels in hand, for the groundbreaking. The center opened in 1961. Perhaps in part because of her grandmother’s legacy, Kari Butler Robison works at Regional Rehab as a licensed physical therapist assistant. She has been with Regional Rehab 18 years.

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- SHONA BURK

Through the years, Regional Rehab began helping those with a broad spectrum of special needs, not just cerebral palsy. Butler and Rasberry continued to work together as the voices and faces of the center, which today has a board of directors made up of 50 people and an executive committee of nine. One of those 50 members of the Regional Rehab board is Shona Burk of Pontotoc. Burk’s support of Regional Rehab is longstanding and loyal. She became a believer in the mission of Regional Rehab through the years as her children became beneficiaries of the care doled out. Burk’s daughter Chaia, 22, who has epilepsy, had speech, physical and occupational therapy over the years. “She no longer comes, but she still considers this place home,” Burk said. Burk’s son Skyler is 20 and was diagnosed years ago with autism. He remains a fixture in the family that is Regional Rehab. “Skyler’s speech was not developing as a child,” Burk said. “I didn’t know Regional Rehab existed. But when I did find out about

Kay Mathews, retired director of Regional Rehab and current volunteer at the center, works with longtime client Skyler Burk during a recent therapy session.


this place and Skyler started early intervention, our lives changed. Both Chaia and Skyler finished high school and now work on our family farm.” When the nonverbal Skyler was 12, he began using technology that allows him to express words and thoughts on a speech-generating device. It changed the lives of Skyler and those who love him. “I had this child who was trapped in a body that couldn’t speak,” Burk said. “I had no idea what things he liked or didn’t like. I didn’t know he liked mustard on his scrambled eggs. Because of this technology we have realized Skyler has such a sense of humor and he does things deliberately just to get a rise out of people.” Now serving her second term on the board of directors, Burk loves singing the praises of Regional Rehab and wants others to know of the treasure that exists in Tupelo. “You can trust these people,” she said. “They will never give up on your child or loved one. You will be a part of this family. They are always looking for ways to help.”

Members of Regional Rehab's dedicated staff.

"YOU CAN TRUST THESE PEOPLE. tHEY WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR CHILD OR LOVED ONE. YOU WILL BE A PART OF THIS FAMILY."

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SINGE FEASTE PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

In place of its traditional Singe Feaste musical dinner performance, the Tupelo High School Madrigals Choir held Christmas performances Dec. 11 and 12 outside at Fairpark. The musical event included a visit from Santa.

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1. Haley, Dylan and Braxton Johnson with Maggie 2. Tupelo High School Madrigals Choir 3. Mike and Peggy Gregory 4. Dorsha Holliday-Fields, Gabrielle Holiday and Rosalind Rasberry 5. Mason Ruffin, Jimmy Bowers and Jabron McGaha 6. Trey, Anne Braxton, Landry and Leslie Ward

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7. Natasha Harbour, Holly Burks, Latoya Woods and Margaret McGrath 8. Jennifer, Mallory and Olivia Love 9. Ginger Lamon and Alicia Milstead 10. Eleanor Woody and Annie Whitehead 11. Lynn and Tina Holland 12. Parker and Amanda Tennison

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HOLLY J OLLY HOLIDAYS PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM

Holly Jolly Holidays took place Dec. 11-13 on the Oxford Square. The annual event included ice skating, carriage rides, hot chocolate and other sweet treats and visits with Santa.

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1. Kathleen and Jeffery Taylor 2. Donna Driver, Erin Smith and Brooke Reeves 3. Piper, Presley and Jessica Sowell 4. Audrey and Walter Flaschka

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5. Sarah Magee, Cindy Fuller and Rachel Prather 6. Angela Maloney and Deb Hankins 7. Bria Maloney and Vincent Pittman 8. Henry, Molly, Griffin and Anne Douglas Tanner 9. Shanna, Mollie and Max Flaschka

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YELLOW RIBBON PROGRAM PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

Members of the B Company, 834th Aviation Support Battalion returned home to Tupelo from a deployment in October 2020. On Dec. 11, members gathered with families for lunch and to learn about resources available to them through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program as they settle in at home.

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1. Hannah Neal and Devon Heal 2. Lawerence Austin, Jim Barry and Jason Prather 3. Bobby and Ashley Heal 4. Justin Murphy and Cody Osborne 5. Taylor Tutor, Tanner Smith and James Goodwin 6. Kaleb Skinner and Hayes Mullins

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TUPELO FLEA MARKET PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

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Shoppers at the Jan. 8-10 Tupelo Flea Market browsed vendors selling items including clothing, rugs, custom woodwork, home goods, jewelry, specialty food items and more. The flea market takes place the second weekend of every month at Tupelo Furniture Market.

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1. Mollie Grace and Amanda Sheffield 2. Bobby and April Tackitt 3. Travis, Kaesyn and Whitney Bell 4. Angelina Stidham and Casey Barns 5. Reighan Spight with Adrian and Miya Avery and Braylan, Shermance and Ke’lan Foste 6. Shannon Lucas-Willis and Christy Boyd Short 7. Jason Harris and David Orman

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SANTA’ S L AST STROLL PHOTOGRAPHED BY LISA ROBERTS

Downtown Tupelo retailers and restaurants offered promotions to last-minute holiday shoppers during a special event that took place Dec. 18 and 19. There was also a gift basket giveaway, and shoppers voted on their favorite window displays for a chance to win $100 Downtown Dollars. 1

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1. Brittany George and Annabelle Bunch 2. Andy West and Joe Yarber 3. Meg Brashears and Annthu Truong 4. Madison Denton, Magalie Martin and Jill Hart 5. Stewart McMillan and Barbara Fleishhacker 6. Rich Heyer, Lily Roper and Julie Gough

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7. Nyriel Garmon, Rob Bessey and Carrie Bradley 8. Samantha Williams, Laurie Aultman and Stephanie Calcoth 9. Amanda McDivitt and Eden Murphy 10. Laura Thompson and Sophie Pardue 11. Maggie Gunnells and Gladys Wilson

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OUT & ABOUT S a nt a at V i s it O x fo rd

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Fa i r pa rk S u r p r i s e E n g a ge me nt

4 1. Kent and Camille Breckenridge 2. Cayden Smith and Mary Deaton 3. Ava Margaret and Brittany Lambert 4. Aubrey Armstrong, Kristin Busby, John Thomas Moore, Embry Ellen Fox, Cameron Turnage, Michelle Boyd, Jason Walls, Clayton Dabbs, JaVontae Henry and Miz-Monee Chambers 5. Travis Barre and Nikki Morris

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N E I G H B O R LY N E T TE

INTERVIEWED BY LESLIE CRISS

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L

ynette Sandlin spends much of her time rescuing and raising furry friends, but that’s not all she does. Sandlin, who lives in Mooreville, has been a law enforcement officer for 24 years, and during her tenure, she has assisted with animal cruelty cases. By helping with the prosecution of such cases, Sandlin has saved many animals from lives of abuse and neglect. She and her husband, Joey, have a blended family of five children and 10 grandchildren.

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When and how did you get involved with animal rescue organizations? A: My husband, Joey, and I got involved with rescue 16 years ago. In 2004, a friend told me about three puppies that had been dumped on a county road. I went to a barn where they were being helped and took one of the puppies into rescue. She became a foster failure, and we adopted her as Chloe and loved her until she passed in June 2020.

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How many animals in need have you and your husband opened your hearts and home to through the years? A: We have taken in more than 300 animals via fostering, adopting or transporting to other rescues for adoption.

Q: What is it like to volunteer with multiple

rescue organizations? Volunteering is an emotional roller coaster. We see the most damaged, abused and neglected of all animals. We all work together to get the animal first to safety. From there, the animal is evaluated by a veterinarian, who administers shots and medicine to take care of internal parasites. We also make certain the animals are spayed and neutered. For the ones most severely neglected, surgery is often required. We work with local rescues as well as many others

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in the northern United States, including Storytellers Express, Powerful Paws Animal Rescue, Jericho Rescued Fur Babies, For the Love of Paws and For the Love of Dogs.

Q: What is the most important thing people can do to help diminish the number of dogs in need of rescue? A: Spaying and neutering each animal is vital to assist with overpopulation of animals in our area.

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It must be so easy to become attached to foster dogs and very difficult to part with them when permanent homes are found. What makes you keep doing it? A: Fostering is so emotional. We get attached to every one that comes into our home. We have to know in our hearts when we take them that we are doing this so they will have a forever home and a person who will love them forever. Many tears are shed when these animals leave us.


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Invitation Oxford - February 2021  

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