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Celebrating the Lives of Local Women

Portraits Animal magnetism in full force.

Magnolia Moms

Babies and pets give new mothers twice the joy.

Making a Difference

Compassionate Paws makes for special partners.


Make Your

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Table of Contents From the Porch Swing — Editor’s Message Page 4

Design and Layout Heather Koon

50-Plus & Fabulous

Icelandic horses’ genetic purity and hearty spirit creates lifelong passion for Annie Shields Page 16


Magnolia Portraits Liz Bates Rosaland Goooden Ginny Kibler Amy Robitshek Cyndy Ferguson

Editor Charlotte Atkins

Page 5 Page 7

Page 9 Page 21 Page 23


Make your own coffeehouse specialty drinks Page 6

Dog not just man’s trusted companion. Some walk with their dog simply as a means of enjoying time with their pet, while others do it as an extra measure of security. Page 19

She Said questions

What is your favorite thing about autumn and winter? Page 8 What has been the most memorable day of your life? What is something that you really want to do? What’s holding you back? What’s something you know you do differently than most people? What are your pets’ names, and why did you choose them?

Minding Her Own Business Cyndy Douan finds her calling training dogs with Georgia Dog Gym

Page 10 Page 17


Printing Rob Broadway

Simpson’s love of the arts led to her work with many cultural events Page 20

Page 25

Magnolia of the Past


Helen Dean Rhodes provided the musical soundtrack to Roman life for decades

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Making a Difference

Compassionate Paws pet partners bring unexpected help Page 24

27 Bon Appetit Y’all

On the go ... at home: Women reveal their best quick-fix meals that still please their families

Home Sweet Home

Fostering pets until they find a forever home has its rewards Page 26

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Pet Snapshots

Magnolia Moms

14 Page 14

Circulation and Distribution R.J. Driskill


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New mothers say in some ways having pets prepared them for the responsibility of parenthood

Advertising Director Cecilia Crow

Creative Services/ Advertising Design Tona Deaton, manager Lee Field Allison Morris Sharon Chastain

Special thanks to the following: Tracy Page of Babycake Studios for once again doing all of our showcase portraits of women and their animals, which made the photo shoots a bit more challenging and a lot of fun; to the husbands who helped make our showcase portraits possible, either by helping persuade their wives or wrangling animals during the photo shoots — Danny Gooden, Dr. Daniel Robitshek, Jerry Bates and Doc Kibler.

For the Health of It


Photographers and Contributing Writers Charlotte Atkins Severo Avila Nick Godfrey Carolyn Grindrod Tracy Page Alan Riquelmy Jeremy Stewart Doug Walker

Advertising Sales Mandy Welborn Jennifer Futch Mary Edwards

Mandy Smith: Basset hounds Sissy and Sadie and dachshund Max Beth Heath: Jack Russell terrier Chopper Marina Vaughn: 18-year-old cat and deaf pitbull Sadee Kay Chumbler: Four dogs including Libby the Diva Dog Basset Hound

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About the cover: Cyndy Ferguson is a pink cowgirl to her core. Horseback riding is her passion. The two-time breast cancer survivor is also a diehard cancer awareness advocate and supporter, and she has combined her two passions. That’s why both she and her horse Sassy are usually decked out in pink. (Photo by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios) To advertise in the next edition of Magnolia, email or call 706-290-5213. To contact us about Magnolia features, email News Publishing Co. 305 E. Sixth Ave. Rome, GA 30161 President: Burgett H. Mooney III Vice President of Production: Doug Crow Vice President of Community Relations (and Magnolia head cheerleader): Mary Sib Banks New Media Director: Jim Alred Magnolia is published seasonally by News Publishing Co. and is distributed free at more than 50 locations in the Greater Rome Area. ©2013.



From the Porch Swing

I don’t recall too many times in my life when I didn’t have pets. A photo of me in a baby swing here in Rome shows our pet Weimaraner licking my chubby cheek. The first pet that I had say in was my first kitten at 7. Neighbors had a litter and I had first choice. My parents said I had to get a boy cat and I had my eye on a cute little tabby fellow. But on the big day, the tiny black female runt of the litter crawled into my lap and I fell in love. Right then and there I named her Lil Bit. I took her home and my parents explained to me that we needed a boy cat because girl kitties tended to have more kitties. I fell to my little knees, with Lil Bit draped over one arm, tears streaming down my face, my hands clasped in pleading and prayer, “But Momma, she picked me!� Needless to say, Lil Bit got to stay. I had her until I was a teenager. We had dogs too — often, puppies found roadside by college students on their way home from school. The first week I went away to college at Auburn, I called Mother and said, “Guess what I did today?� She replied, “You got a black kitten.� I was speechless because that is exactly what I had done, but I it was an impulse. “How did you know?� I asked, wondering if there were hidden cameras in my apartment. “I knew you’d have a black kitten within a week of being out on your own.� She was right and Bandit was a longtime love of my life. He was with me when I graduated and headed for Vero Beach with a U-Haul after college.

Let us know what you think about Magnolia at

There have been others. Chelsea, my longhaired dachshund in Florida. Rosie, the rescued tortie longhaired cat I brought back from California. But not until I got my Yorkshire terrier Paris have I had a pet that was my constant companion. At a mere 5 pounds, she has traveled thousands of miles with me. She’s been my shadow, my comfort and my confidante for going on 11 years.

My mother Jodie grew to love her so much that she wanted a little dog of her own. Mother’s health issues had started and I thought a little dog might help. So for Christmas 5 years ago I got her a precious little 3-pound yorkie named Jasmine. It turns out she was pregnant, and several weeks later I was delivering tiny yorkie puppies, Savannah and Champ. My mother’s Pick’s Disease was in the early stages then, and those two puppies were the best medicine. So my parents kept Champ, and Savannah came back to Rome with me, and we now have four yorkies between us. My mother is now in an Alzheimer’s care unit. At least once a week, my stepfather takes Champ to visit her. She loves his visits as do the other residents. It’s therapeutic and comforting for them. As for “my girls,� it’s hard to imagine life without them. When I work long hours, they welcome me home with unconditional love and enthusiasm. When I am sick or upset, they cuddle up close to comfort me. They amuse me with their quizzical looks and their selective understanding of English. They are sweet and loving and my babies. They are always close by when I am writing for each edition. In fact, Savannah’s registered name was inspired by this magazine — “Savannah the Littlest Magnolia.� So this edition not only celebrates the lives of area women, but also the animals we love. Charlotte Atkins, Editor

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Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

Liz Bates

Liz Bates loves her award-winning sire alpaca Skye. She fell in love with alpacas and now has a farm full of them in Adairsville.

Liz Bates confesses that she really should live in a zoo. “Every time we see Jack Hanna on TV with an animal of some type I tell my husband, ‘I want one of those.’” That’s how Liz ended up as the owner of Southern Estate Alpacas in Adairsville. Jerry came home to find her at her laptop “shopping.” She informed him that if she sold her Range Rover, she could by the pair of alpacas she wanted. ”I loved the history of the alpaca, that they were so prominent in the cultures of the ancients in South America. Jerry and I both had careers that kept us very busy and we wanted something that we could do together and have as a retirement career. Alpaca are cute, fuzzy, intelligent, produce the most incredible fiber and are not the least bit intimidating. So we were hooked immediately.” The farm now bustles with dozens of alpaca and assorted other animals. “I have a plaque in the barn that says ‘Dogs aren’t our whole world, they just make our lives whole’ and I truly believe that about all of our critters. Whether it’s the alpacas, dogs, cats, goats, chickens or guineas, they are all loved and cherished.” Liz, 53, is a city girl turned country. Originally from New Jersey and formerly in New York’s fashion industry, her life has been centered mainly in the CherokeeCobb county area of Georgia. So when the Bates began looking for a farm, they wanted it to be within about 30 miles. The Adairsville property fit the bill. “It’s a place where neighbors are friends and friends feel like family. From the folks who live on our street to our church family, we love and are loved back by so many wonderful people.” When she’s not working the farm, Liz has other pursuits. She’s a first-degree black belt, a sharpshooter, loves reading and is a recipe junkie who collects cookbooks. Her bucket list includes a “trip to Israel to experience the Holy Land. I would love to go on safari in Africa, visit Egypt and see the pyramids and then a cruise down the Amazon and the list goes on.” She says her greatest passion in life is “to appreciate each day that God allows me to be here with my husband and son. To enjoy each and every day and make the most of what I’ve been given and try in some way to be a blessing to someone.” Liz says life is like a book. “Some titles and chapters are written for you, others you get to title and write. I just hope my life’s book is a good read.” Charlotte Atkins, Editor


Coffeehouse specialty drinks One of my favorite childhood memories was morning coffee with my Granny Atkins during visits to Cedartown. When I was just a tot, she’d pour herself a cup of strong black coffee. She put some for me in a saucer with sugar. We’d sit there, just the two of us at her kitchen table, sipping our coffee. I had seen a lot of adults drink coffee from cups and had never seen a child drink coffee, so our little ritual felt special. It was years later when I was an adult that my mother explained that Granny put my coffee in a saucer so it would cool quickly. Nevertheless, it began my fondness for coffee and for years I would drink it no way other than black and sweet. But these days, you can have coffee just about any way you want. You especially know that if you’re waiting in line at a super-chain coffee shop behind someone who orders “a venti iced skinny Cinnamon Dolce latte with soy milk, half the pumps of the cinnamon Dolce, with foam and whip, one scoop of whey protein, well mixed with cinnamon on top.” Whether you prefer drip, pour-over, Frenchpressed, vacuum-pressed or percolated, darkroasted or light-roasted, decaf, half-caf, full-caf or espresso, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. About 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the United States, the world’s biggest consumer, up from 78 percent a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 survey. Stats show that American workers on average spend more than $1,000 a year on coffee. America imports more than $4 billion in coffee each year, Around Northwest Georgia there are chain coffee shops as well a local cafes where you can get specialty coffee drinks, some fresh roasted right inhouse like at Swift & Finch. But schedules and wallets can limit trips out for specialty coffee so you can brew up your own specialty coffee drinks at home too. When you’re in the mood to do it yourself, here are some tasty recipes to try. There’s nothing like a hot coffee drink on a cool crisp Northwest Georgia day. Peppermint Mocha Coffee. Serves: 6 3 cups half-and-half ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa 1⁄3 cup sugar 3 cups brewed coffee 6 peppermint candy canes In a medium saucepan, combine half-andhalf, cocoa, and sugar; mix well. Place over medium heat and stir in coffee, heating until hot. Pour into 6 mugs and garnish each with a candy cane.


Cinnamon Mocha 4 cups strong brewed coffee 1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk 2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream Ground cinnamon for garnish Combine coffee, sweetened condensed milk, unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon in large saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring until coffee is hot. Pour into mugs. Garnish with whipped cream or small spoonful of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

... make your own

Irish Cream Sundae Coffee 6 servings 12 cups brewed coffee 1 pint French vanilla ice cream 12 fluid ounces Irish cream liqueur Brew 12 cups of coffee. While the coffee is brewing, fill each cup with a scoop of ice cream. Be sure to use large cups. The oversized types you get at coffee houses are best. Top each scoop of ice cream with just enough Irish cream so that the ice cream looks lightly coated. When the coffee is brewed, pour it so that each cup is filled up about halfway. It is then up to each individual to add more Irish cream, halfand-half, or sugar to suit his/her taste. Pumpkin Spiced Latte 3 cups hot whole milk 4 teaspoons white sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee 3 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream 3 pinches pumpkin pie spice Combine the hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until frothy. Pour the mixture into three coffee mugs to about 2⁄3 full. Pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Garnish each mug with whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice. Cappuccino Espresso of your choice, milk and optional toppings such as cinnamon, chocolate or nutmeg 1½ oz. espresso Pour your freshly made espresso in a regular sized cup leaving room for the steamed milk Steam 3 oz. of cold milk in a stainless-steel container (aka carafe) until the milk is hot and there’s enough foam for your preference. Add the freshly made steamed milk to the cup of espresso filling about 80 percent of the cup. Spoon some foamed milk onto the top of the cup. Sprinkle with cinnamon, chocolate or nutmeg.


Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

By Charlotte Atkins Editor

Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

Rosaland Daniel Gooden

Rosaland Gooden and her husband have four dogs and dozens of free-range chickens and roosters.

When people walk into the Harbin Clinic Tony E. Warren M.D. Cancer Center, the smiling face of Rosaland Gooden welcomes them. She’s beautiful, caring and always with her wardrobe and accessories perfectly coordinated. “Sunday through Friday, I’m in high heels, dressy clothes and jewelry. But catch me on a Saturday and I look like a hot mess.” She might even be camo-clad if she’s accompanying her hunter husband. Though she was born, raised and works in Rome, she and her husband Danny live just over the Chattooga County line. Their house, perched on a scenic hill behind a country church, is modern and elegant. But the hilly countryside behind it is home to at least three dozen free-range Rhode Island Red chickens and roosters. Needless to say there’s always fresh eggs and chicken for meals. As they stroll around their property, Ros and Danny are usually accompanied by at least a couple of their dogs. There’s Breaux the basset hound and Dixie the Catahoula. The Goodens have a prized Labrador retriever Booyah that is a Grand Hunting Retriever Champion. They also have a Labrador pup named Tas that lives up to his Tasmanian devil namesake. “I wish I could make the whole world understand what animals mean to us,” says Rosaland. “We are the voice of those animals that have no voice. We as owners need to be more noble, compassionate, loving and protective.” In her leisure time, Ros confesses she’s addicted to Search-A-Word books. “I enjoy them so much that I have one in each vehicle.” However, the most important Word in her life is God’s. “Without God as head of my life, I would not be who I am nor have the life I have. God is truly my all and all, and I give Him all the praise.” Rosaland says she finds inspiration in the cancer patients she encounters daily. “My heroes are the survivors and nonsurvivors of cancer. Being able to be part of their journey means a lot. They are my heroes because they are all fighters.” Travel is at the top of Ros’ bucket list. “I have always wanted to go to Las Vegas, take a cruise and travel the world,” she said. “We’ve been married for 9 years and never had the opportunity to go on a honeymoon due to our work schedules.” But she enjoys the time she has with Danny and their dogs and their quiet country life. “I love coming home to loving and compassionate animals. That really makes a difference in my day.” Charlotte Atkins, Editor


Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

Ginny Kibler

Ginny Kibler has 10 animals at home, including dogs, cats and horses. Here she plays with her dogs Hoot, Angus and Daisy.

Ginny Kibler is known around town as the owner of Harvest Moon Café and that she and husband Doc are involved community leaders. But if you really know Ginny, you also know that she loves animals and is a tireless advocate for them. “I think animals bring out the best in all of us -- smiles, laughter and honest love. When you have had a tough day, our pets make us refocus from taking life and work too seriously,” says Ginny. She and some friends were inspired to start the charity Claws for Paws that’s helping to impact animal welfare in Floyd County. “Innocent animals don’t get to make their own choices, and we need to take better care of our unwanted, abandoned animals in Floyd County and our big problem of overpopulation in our animal shelter. I’ve seen and experienced the difference pets make in people’s lives, especially those who live alone.” She practices what she preaches and her Cave Spring farm is home to many fourlegged babies. Her brood includes dogs, cats and horses that range from her Weimaraner Hoot, black lab Angus and bloodhound Daisy to their two new horses Doc and Cisco. “I cannot imagine a home without animals who always offer unconditional love and give you the biggest welcome when you come home.” Though she loves the outdoors and country living, Ginny admits there’s one animal she’s not crazy about. “I’m scared to death of snakes.” She ranks her public speaking phobia and small talk right up there with them. But there’s a boldness to Ginny when it comes to travel, whether it’s a beach trip or an adventure to explore another country. Her honeymoon in Africa rates at the top of her list. Still on her list is to “spend six months to a year living and traveling on a boat.” She’d especially like to take a boat down the whole length of the Intercoastal Waterway. In addition to traveling, Ginny enjoys cooking, fly fishing, camping, working on the farm, watching UNC basketball and golf. When asked if there’s anything she does differently than others, she responds, “Probably most things unfortunately! Routine is boring to me so I seek out change and variety. For example, I drive a different route to and from work each day.” A couple things remain constant though: She’s created a popular eatery in the heart of Downtown Rome where folks are comfortable stopping by for a meal or meeting friends after work on the Moon Roof. And her devotion to animals — both her own and those in need of homes or care — is her calling. Charlotte Atkins, Editor


She Said:

What has been the most memorable day of your life? The day I met my birth mother who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I was 50 years old, and she was 87. Carol Willis

There have been lots but certainly four stand out. I have been present when four people who were close to me took their last breath on this earth ... My ex-husband ... My aunt ... My mother and my mother-in-law. It is the most special time you can be with a person, and I am grateful to have shared those experiences. Why? It takes away the fear of your own death, which we all know will happen to us one day. You do feel as though they are drawn to another place, and that is a comfort during a very sad time. Janet Byington One of the most memorable was having press credentials on the night the Atlanta Braves clinched a playoff spot in 2012. I was in the Bravesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; locker room during the subsequent champagne shower, ... and the best part was getting to join in with the rest of the media in asking future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones some questions. He retired at the end of that season. Elizabeth Davis




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A walk out in the field with my now husband when we were dating. Was a crisp, fall day in Tennessee and was just a special time of holding hands and getting to know each other. Dianne Stansberry

Minding Her Own Business Cyndy Douan finds her calling w ith Ge

By Nick Godfrey Staff Writer

Along the walls of the Georgia Dog Gym, at the corner of Kingston Highway and Fred Kelly Road, there are numerous ribbons and awards for dog competitions from all over the country. Owner Cyndy Douan has won more than 95 titles since 2002 in everything from dog agility competitions, herding trails, dock diving, to flyball and freestyle dancing. But, believe it or not, Cindy wasn’t always able to get her dogs to follow on command, and at first, she really had no interest in doing so. “I did the college thing and I did really well. Then I went off to graduate school and got a master’s degree in counseling,” she said. “My desire was to help people. I wanted to help people have better lives.” Douan said she started to volunteer for different organizations and programs, like a suicide hotline and a run-away shelter. She said she quickly discovered just how hard it is to work in those settings. “People will not be helped, until they are ready to be helped,” she said. “You spend a lot of time running down dead-end roads.” About that same time, Douan said she got her first dog as an

adult, and it was a Kuvasz. “He was more than I bargained for,” she said. “We just thought we’ll get something really big and beautiful, and it’ll be a great thing.” Douan said she made the mistake of thinking that having the bigger dog and not doing any research on how to raise it wouldn’t be any trouble at all. “The dog is 10 weeks old, and I’m sitting in the kitchen, and I’m just bloody,” she said. “He’s just bloodied me by play biting and play attacking. And I’m sitting there sobbing and sobbing, and I said I’ve got to have some help. So I hired a dog trainer.” Douan explained that over the course of straightening out the relationship and teaching the dog how to do things and learning to communicate with the dog, she realized that everything she was doing with the dog was what she studied all those years in college. “Why didn’t I know how to do this ... because I know how to do this,” she said. “I know how this works.” Douan said it was her “aha” moment. “In life, you have something you’re suppose to do,” she said. “I made the decision that I’m going to do what I love. And if I have to

orgia Dog Gym

eat soup and Ramen noodles, I’m going to do what I want to do.” Douan said that she then decided to go to work as a dog trainer in Atlanta at American Dog Training, where she learned the ins and outs of the trade. Meanwhile, she started doing a little bit of work on the side. She said eventually her side business grew so large that it was time to open up her own business. “I told my husband, ‘I have a dream. Let’s go build this kennel,’” she said. Douan then opened up Kingston Kennels, LLC in 1997, and then later the Georgia Dog Gym in 2006. Douan stated that when they first opened the doors it was mostly her, but now Georgia Dog Gym has seven part-time employees and provides training, boarding, and several other services for the Rome area. Douan also now has six Border Collies that can be found hanging around the office. And they’re not just personal pets. They are everything from champion competitors to world record breakers. For more information on Douan, her dogs, and the Georgia Dog Gym visit


Bon Appetit, Y’all

On the go ... at home Women reveal their best quick-fix meals that still please their families By Jeremy Stewart Staff Writer

The challenge of feeding a family dinner that doesn’t come from a fast food bag or a take-out box is one that many women face. It can become even more complex when the reality of working and having to deal with the schedules of kids playing sports and being involved in other activities gets thrown into the mix. At the annual Taste of Home Cooking School at The Forum in Rome sponsored by the Rome News-Tribune, attendees got to see just how quick some dishes can be prepared while hearing from one of the nationally recognized magazine’s culinary specialists. The moms and grandmothers that gathered at this fall’s Cooking School came to learn, but also had their own special meals that are quick and easy. Lindale’s Omerine Jackson said she works a lot, and it is always on her mind how to feed her family when she gets home in the evenings. “When I’m off, I don’t mind fixing bigger meals that involve a little bit more,” Jackson said. “But when I’m working, you go home, and you want to fix something easy.” For Jackson, that includes beef tips and rice, which may sound like there would be a lot involved, but Jackson says it’s easy and good. “It’s especially quick if you have the meat thawed out already,” she said. “If not, you can put it in the microwave for a little while.” Browning the meat with some onions and mushrooms leads to the start of a quick gravy, and then rice is prepared separately. “Everybody in our family likes it,” Jackson said. That includes Jackson’s oldest son, who now attends Jacksonville State University in Alabama.

Beef Tips and Rice Ingredients 1 pound cut of beef, cut into bite size pieces 3 cups Beef Broth 1 Onion, medium sized, sliced 1 Tablespoon Bacon grease, butter or vegetable oil 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch Salt and Pepper to taste 2-3 cups of prepared Rice Place a medium sized sauce pot on medium heat and add bacon grease or cooking oil, beef and onions. Stir the meat and onions until the meat is lightly brown. Add beef broth and bring to a rolling boil.

Cheeseburger Pie Ingredients 1 pound lean ground beef 1 large onion, chopped ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese ½ cup Original Bisquick® mix 1 cup milk 2 eggs

Life with Bassets is never dull. My husband, Brandon, and I should know. We have two of them. Sissy will be 10 on Cinco de Mayo, and Sadie will be 2 in February. Bassets are typically known to be patient, calm and caring dogs. Sissy is all of the above. She will lie on the couch for hours by your side and loves nothing more than a good belly rub. Sadie, on the other


Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender. In a small bowl, mix Cornstarch with cold water, stir well. Slowly add the cornstarch to the beef and broth, stirring constantly. Simmer another 10 minutes or until gravy has thickened. For the rice, place rice in a medium size sauce pot, add the appropriate amount of water and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for about 2 minutes then, reduce heat. Let rice continue to simmer on medium-low heat until most of the water has been absorbed. Cover with a tight fitting lid and remove from heat and let the rice rest, covered, for about 10 more minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork prior to serving.

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese. In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

hand, is the exact opposite. She’s full of energy, incredibly playful and destructive! We’ve grown to be patient with her as she’s eaten numerous doggy beds, couches, toys, pillows, sprinkler systems, sunglasses, shoes and the list goes on. At the end of the day, when she’s grown tired from her busy days, she is that sweet cuddly dog that Bassets are known to be. In addition to

“He always enjoyed it, and it’s something he gets when he comes back home,” Jackson said. Rome’s Donna Hardin says a quick-fix meal that doesn’t require a lot of preparation is cheeseburger pie. The dish combines browned ground beef with eggs, milk, cheese and Bisquick into a glass dish and throwing it in the oven for about 25 minutes. “The thing that takes the longest is browning the ground beef,” Hardin said. “But you can cook a bunch of ground beef earlier and freeze it to use later. The rest comes together quickly.” Hardin said she also uses another tip to make sure her family gets a full meal during the week when she has to work. “You can cook a lot of the stuff you need on the weekend with bigger meals and then freeze them for later in the week,” Hardin said. Lori Moore of Rome had a quick and easy idea that most people might not think about for dinner. “Scrambled eggs,” Moore said. “We always have it, and it’s very, very quick. If we’re in a super hurry, we just have it plain by itself, but we do cook sausage links from the freezer and toast. Sometimes we even steam some broccoli to go with it.” It’s not just quickness but the simplicity of beef nachos that makes it a go-to meal for Rome’s Cindy Roberson and her family. “When I come in from work, I’m so tired,” Roberson said. “And it’s great because anybody can cook it.” After browning the ground beef, the quesostyle cheese is placed in the microwave to melt, and tortilla chips are right out of the bag. Roberson also cuts up jalapenos to add on top. “It’s done in five minutes,” Roberson said. “And there’s no big cleanup.”

our Bassets, we also have a dachshund named Max. He is also very special to us. He’s Sadie’s playmate even when he doesn’t want to be. He’s Sissy’s running mate when they decide to escape from the fence. We love them all, and they are a huge part of our family. We couldn’t imagine our lives without them. Mandy Smith


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New mothers say pets helped prepare them for parenthood By Carolyn Grindrod Staff Writer

Being a mom to a pet can be hard. There’s the cleaning, the feeding. There’s the walking, the training ... did we mention the cleaning? But, being, a mom to a pet and a newborn baby? Three first-time moms share their insight into joys, tribulations and sleepless nights of balancing their careers and motherhood to both their newborn and furry-faced babies.. /LVD¶VVWRU\ It’s just like any other Monday evening at the Ingram home in Maplewood, except one little thing: tiny Annabelle Elizabeth Ingram has just received some of the first rounds of her vaccinations and is clearly upset about it. Her mom, Lisa Brown Ingram, quickly changes her diaper in her daughter’s bedroom of her and her husband Jonathan Ingram’s home as Annebelle continues to fuss about her earlier doctor’s visit. It’s just after sundown, and it is quite clear that the little one is ready for bed. Lisa quickly dresses her for bed, picks her up and gently rocks her while singing her a sweet, soft lullaby. As the baby’s cries weaken to a soft coo, a small yawn is let out from around Lisa’s feet; the small, cream colored dog in the floor, Lisa’s 3-year-old Fiest mix Daisy, lays on her side and closes her eyes. It’s definitely her bedtime too. “She really is such a good baby,” said Lisa, as she turned out the lights. As both pooch and babe quiet down for the evening, Lisa, who balances her home life with her home-based pottery business, said owning Daisy helped prepare her for Annebelle’s arrival back in July. Lisa adopted the mix from Berry College adoption day while she and husband were still dating. “Daisy came first,”laughed Lisa. “I got Daisy when I was still working for Redmond Medical Center, and of course it’s a little different and nothing can quite prepare you for motherhood, but I definitely thinking having her first taught me how to care for something that depended on me the most. Of course, it’s different, for example, when Daisy was a baby I could leave her at home while coming to check on her during the day, but you still have to go to doctor’s visits. If you go out of town, you’ve got to find a sitter. You just learn to become responsible for another life.” While pregnant with Annabelle, Lisa said Daisy was always right by her side. And now that Annabelle has been born, Daisy recognizes the little girl as part of her “pack” now and sticks close during feeding time and on any given night, you can find the three taking walks together in the evening: Annabelle strapped to her mom’s chest in a Bjorn baby carrier as Daisy leads on her leash. “She was really good company in the early days when I felt like I was losing my mind and so tired,” said Lisa. “She was always there for me, and right next to me, just going through it with me.” Lisa, who said she always wanted to be a mom, said she never really worried about Daisy being around the baby. “She doesn’t really seem jealous of the baby. That’s what everyone always asks me,” she added. “She still craves attention, but I’ve gotten a lot more lenient with her. This is the first year she didn’t have to wear a Halloween costume. I bet she was pretty excited about that.” (ULQ¶VVWRU\ Like Lisa, new mom Erin Elrod, who works as director of special projects for the Rome Braves, said she had no worries when she brought home her bundle of joy, daughter Georgia, from the hospital. “I can’t tell you how many people asked what we were going to do with Max once we found we were pregnant,” said Erin, referring to her 3-year-old Great Dane. “Truth is, when we adopted Max, we had researched different breeds knowing we wanted to start a family. Danes are known to be great family dogs and great with children.”


For Erin, giving up Max or her 10year-old Siamese cat Gus to make room for the little one was never an option, as the animals were part of her family. Both she and her husband Brandon had animals growing up and they wanted Georgia to have the same loving experience. So once the baby came, she and her husband sent home a few of their little girl’s garments so the animals could get familiarized with her scent. The tactic worked, and Erin said both the dog and the cat took to Georgia from the start. “We had an extended stay at the hospital, so my mom had been staying at the house with Max and Gus,” explained Erin. “The day before we were to be discharged, she brought home a couple Georgia’s gowns and blankets. Max took it to his bed when she gave it to him and laid on it. Some animal behaviorists say that there is still enough of the mother’s scent on the baby for the dog to accept it, but others suggest sending items the baby has worn home. I didn’t see where it would hurt, so that was the route we took. When Brandon and I came home, Brandon went in first because after missing us for four days, we knew Max would be overly excited. I then came in with Georgia. He smelled her and that was it. She was a part of the pack.” The first couple weeks, both Gus and Max took turns sleeping by Georgia’s crib. “When Georgia would cry,” added Erin, “Max would be the first to her crib looking back at us like ‘What’s taking you so long?!’ He’s also been very protective of her when new people come over.” Now that Georgia has become more mobile, the two animals have seemed to be very patient with the growing youngster. “We’re trying to teach her to pet both of them, but she gets so excited to see them that her petting becomes a rapid hitting motion,” said Erin. “Both will take about three to five swipes before they just take a step back from her. Now, that she’s going 0-60 in her walker, nothing or no one is safe. Max was laying on his bed the other day (which she could not possibly run over him while he’s lying there) but

just seeing her coming his way was enough. He jumped up and was gone. He’s a quick learner.” Structure had played an important role in this budding family’s life. “I’m a very scheduled person,” said Erin, who has worked for the Braves organization for nearly 14 years. “For instance, my morning routine is the same, so much so, that I can pretty much tell you what I’m doing at a specific time every morning. It is the same way for Georgia, Gus and Max. Max and Gus are fed at the same time every day, taken out, etc., Georgia has been on a schedule from early on in regards to her eating, napping, bath time and bedtime routine. I think that keeping our pets on a schedule definitely helped me adjust to the idea of having Georgia on a schedule. I also think that having Max and Gus on a maintained schedule after Georgia was born helped them adjust to their new member of the family.” Erin said she couldn’t picture her life without her animals or without Georgia, but wouldn’t suggest getting a pet as a “test run” for having a baby. “The commitment we make as responsible pet owners does not end when we have a child,” said Erin. “They are for the lifetime of that pet. I’ve heard too many stories of couples no longer wanting their pet because they now have a baby and surrendering it to rescue or the pound. Our pets are members of our family and we treat them as such. Of course, there have been adjustments in the home with bringing home a new baby, but we’ve made a real effort to make sure that Max and Gus still receive one on one attention so jealousy doesn’t become a problem.” 6RQ\D¶V6WRU\ On March 15, Sonya Elkins Sallis’ life changed forever – the day her daughter Evaline Marie Sallis came into the world. And from the very moment she and her husband first learned they were going to be parents, their animals have played an important role in everything Evaline. Sonya recalls the evening when she first told her husband Nic, whom she calls her “best friend, love and life partner,” she was

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expecting. Nic was in the backyard of their 1920s bungalow home, playing with their two dogs Riley and Aster. The dogs, she said, have always played an important role in the two’s relationship. Riley, a 5year-old King Charles Cavalier, was brought into their lives when they were first dating and Aster, the couple’s year-old yellow Lab, was their first “baby” together. “We just stood outside and hugged after I told him we were going to be parents,” said Sonya of the day she broke the news to her husband. “It was one of those life-changing moments that I will always remember.” Sonya said having Evaline in her life is such a blessing. “It makes everything in life infinitely more complicated and infinitely better,” said Sonya, a Rome native who is an attorney for Marietta firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers. “I cannot imagine our lives without Evaline. She is the light of our lives and becoming a parent is experiencing a completely new kind of love.” And while new parents seldom feel prepared for their new role, the Sallises say they had to adapt quickly to balance the pups and the new baby. “Evaline surprised us by coming three weeks early and we had not yet arranged dog care since that took us completely by surprise,” said Sonya. “It was interesting trying to think about the dogs and call family and neighbors to look in on and stay with them for the couple days that we were in the hospital becoming new parents!” And being a first-time mom to a baby and two energetic “furbabies” is definitely a rewarding role, said Sonya, who works parttime while balancing it all. Sonya said the couple has tried to create strict boundaries for the pups when dealing with Evaline. “We essentially established a zone around the baby that they were not allowed to enter. They were only allowed to get close enough to sniff her and meet her if they were invited by myself or Nic. It was important

to us to establish with them that she was above them in the “pack” order. But being part of the pack comes with cuddle-time. “Riley is our cuddler and likes to curl up next to Evaline when she’s on the couch or floor,” said Sonya of her pups. “Aster is more playful and it is fun to see them interact more as Evaline gets older and becomes curious and interactive with the dogs. We have allowed them more access to Evaline as she has gotten older. The biggest challenge with that is licking. They both like to cover her with kisses if we let them.”

ABOVE: Annabelle and Daisy LEFT: Evaline with Riley and Aster BELOW: Georgia and Max (Gus the cat is inset) Contributed photographs

Sonya said although the two animals could never replace the love she has for her daughter, their roles in her pre-baby life helped to mold her into the mom she is today. Sonya recommends getting a pooch, or two, to teach anyone patience. “Riley taught me about being responsible for another life,” Sonya added. “I was younger when I got him and in my first year of law school. That was a stressful time when it was easy to get wrapped up in myself and my own problems and concerns. I think it was grounding to have a small creature that depended on me for life and love. And in turn he definitely helped me get through that tough first year.”


Icelandic horses’ hearty spirit builds lifelong passion %\&KDUORWWH$WNLQV Editor

Annie Shields has loved horses since she was a wee girl in Washington, D.C. She started riding as a child and recalls visiting Michigan’s Mackinac Island where there was no vehicular traffic, just horses pulling carriages. “I remember riding around on a horsedrawn dray and sometimes the driver would let me take the reins.” But her life changed at 15 when her mother read a story in 1960 in The Washington Star newspaper about a group of 12 special mares imported to Maryland. “First Icelandic horses in America” touted the headline. Her mother knew the owner Sam Ashelman and took Annie to see them. “The first time I saw Icelandics, I fell in love,” recounted Annie, as she shuffled through orange and golden leaves on the way to the pasture on her Big Texas Valley farm couched at the base of Lavender Mountain in north Floyd County. “I knew then that they were real horses, not domesticated ones that man had bred traits into that he wanted.” She said the short, sturdy horses contrasted the long-legged slick-haired equines she was used to. Most horse breeds stand 15-17 hands, but Icelandics are usually less than 14. Annie says her half dozen Icelandic horses average around 13.2 hands. Though they may be pony-sized, rest assured these are horses that carried Vikings and are venerated in Norse lore. Their stock was pure and their hearty traits of strength, endurance and insulation were established by the challenging isolated terrain of Iceland dating back before the 10th Century. They swim. They climb. They are known for their distinguished gaits. That was what struck Annie, that their genetic constitution was “not touched by man.” “These horses reeked authenticity. ‘These are true wild horses,’ was my teenage girl romantic thought.” And wild they were. But the herd owner must have seen the fire in her eyes because he offered her the chance to train them when she inquired whether they would always be untamed. “You look like an able-bodied young lady. I’ll bet you could whip these horses into shape in no time,” he told her. So as a “horse-crazy” teen, Annie started working with Icelandic horses that had been shipped from their native land 3,000 miles away and that were not yet comfortable with being ridden or interacting with people. “I worked with them all through high school.” After graduating, she headed to New York for college. When she Baltimore Sun photo of Annie Shields


‘The first time I saw Icelandics, I fell in love.’ came home on Thanksgiving break, she headed to Maryland to see the beloved Icelandic herd. To her dismay they were gone. She finally tracked down information that Ashelman and his horses had relocated to Berkeley Springs, W.Va., where he had founded the Coolfont Resort. “So I followed them there,” said Annie. Soon she was once again taking care of the Icelandics and leading mountain horseback rides along the trails in the countryside where George Washington used to ride. The original horses imported from Iceland had been bred and there were younger horses of all ages. Ashelman then decided to sell the original horses to someone taking them to Washington Island, Wis. He told Annie he’d sell all of the offspring to her for $5,000. That’s how she found herself the owner of about 50 Icelandic horses and the riding concessionaire at the resort. “So I was 19, living in a barn with 50 more mouths to feed, and I didn’t even know how to take care of myself yet.” Then another fateful moment thanks to another newspaper article came along. The Baltimore Sun published a story and photo about her and her Icelandic horses. The photo — once famous in equestrian circles — captured a young long-haired, barefoot Annie jumping bareback on an Icelandic named Firefly. “That turned everything around for me.”The coverage piqued people’s interest in Icelandic horses and she was able to sell some of her herd while maintaining much of it for her riding operation. “It was the kind of adventure I was looking for it life.” Her Georgia journey started later when she moved to Raybon County with her husband. They later divorced and she drove around the state with her two daughters, teaching certificate in hand, looking for a job teaching English. What she found is that most English teachers were fixtures in schools and there just weren’t any open positions then. She ended up getting a gig near Callaway Gardens teaching for a year at a wilderness camp for boys located along the Pine Mountain Trail. The troubled boys would often run away and instructors set out along the trail on foot to try to find the kids since vehicles could not traverse the trails. During one search for a missing boy, Annie met a man with horses he used for therapeutic riding in Warm Springs. She asked Johnny Wilkes if she could borrow a horse to go look for the boy. Not inclined to let a stranger ride off on one of his horses, Wilkes joined her in the horseback search. There were other such rides looking for runaways and the two became friends. “That connection is what got me into therapeutic riding.”

Annie ended up brokering a deal to do 10 lessons each for three groups of 10 boys from the camp. “We just saw incredible results,” she said. “My relationship with the boys was much improved.” That was a one-time project, but she had found her calling. That’s when she connected with Murphy-Harpst, a nonprofit haven for abused children nestled in Polk County. “They had acreage and we wanted to do therapeutic riding.” So she helped found that program in the mid-1980s. “It was the most creative thing I have ever done. Everyone got so excited about it. Church groups and the kids and teachers helped rehab the farm buildings.” There was an unharvested hay crop on site so the kids and others got busy harvesting it. “It was a wonderful, creative thing that happened.” Her buddy Wilkes even seeded the program with horses and saddles. After a decade there, Annie moved to the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring for a new chapter where she established a therapeutic riding program for students there. She did the riding program for six years before being moved into the classroom. She finished out her teaching career as an English teacher at Coosa High School. Annie says she has always loved working with kids with behavioral and emotional issues. “I preferred working with just five or six students. Since they have issues going on, it’s easier to stop the English lesson and talk about what’s going on.” She’s retired now and at 69 spends her days working around her 25-acre farm with her partner Pat York. They have five Icelandic horses, two dogs (yorkie Dugan and a pit bull Safina), two cats, a turtle, two boarder horses and a slew of chickens. Annie’s legacy is that she was among the first in Georgia to engage therapeutic riding to help youngsters with emotional and behavioral challenges. But when you see Annie moving amid her horses — with Icelandic monikers like Elfur, Aska, Netta, Dagney and Grima — as they nuzzle and gather around her like love-seeking puppies, you can see the passion and affection that was sparked some 54 years ago when she first laid eyes on those compact wild horses with the full manes. Clad in her Icelandic sweater in the misty rain of a chilled autumn day, you can still see the heart of the young barefoot woman riding like the wind astride a horse with medieval ancestry linked to a Nordic island at the edge of the Arctic Circle.

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I really want to own my own riding stable. Finances are holding me back. Mary Catherine Parris

Since I have retired, my bucket list has gotten much shorter! I want to complete attendance at all four tennis Grand Slam events. Wimbledon is the final and next one. Waiting for timing, finances and all the myriad details to be aligned! Mary Maire Visiting Hawaii, the only state I have not been in. So my wonderful husband scheduled us a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands for our anniversary at the end of January. Yea! Carol L. Grajzar

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Knowing that my parents are in a place with people who love them gives me such a sense of peace.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; AG

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The entire staff has created a caring and loving atmosphere for all the residents.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; KB

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a vision of heaven and that heaven looks a lot like Renaissance Marquis.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; JD â&#x20AC;&#x153;I regret all the years that I wasted not making the decision to move to Renaissance Marquis.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; TC

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Daddy is so much calmer at The Harbor.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; MA

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Harbor has truly been a blessing sent from God!â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; KB

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have not seen my daddy and mother â&#x20AC;&#x153;My motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quality of life so happy in such a long time.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; AG has increased tenfold.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; LH

Visit Thailand where I was born. We moved to the States when I was 4, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never been back. Money and time are holding me back. I want to be able to spend several weeks, and I just have not made it a true priority with work. That will change! Kathleen Wolfe My husband and I were both military brats in Japan in 1984. We attended different schools, so we never crossed paths ... that we know of. We would love to travel back and relive some memories, only this time as a couple. Flights to Japan arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cheap, but we hope to save up one year and go. Stacey W. McCray





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She Said:

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It must be the excitement that I get out of small natural wonders. I love watching birds, bats, turtles, bugs, wild flowers, the river passing by, the wind in the trees. These things are more enlightening and wonderful to me and most people think I am just a little nuts! Gena Agnew I don’t plan my life. I have friends that are at odds with me on this one. I have been blessed to have a relationship with the Lord that I just lay my life (personal and professional) at His feet. Each time, when I listen to Him (which might be against friends and family) it has turned out a much better outcome than I could have guessed. This is very troubling from most people because they want to be control. But that is what faith is. Not being in control and placing complete control in Him. Tasha C. Toy

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I write letters and cards. In this day of technology, people have forgotten about the personal touch and blessing of getting something in your mailbox. Trish Benefield

I back in our driveway instead of pulling into it. It makes it easier when leaving because you can just crank up and drive off, especially if you are in a hurry. Dorraine Vines I’m truly a believer that our past makes us who we are today. When my brother was diagnosed with autism in the late-1980s, there was little knowledge about it. We had to learn as we went as many families have had to do. My brother, Jeremy, had little to no communication skills to tell us how he was feeling, what he liked, what he didn’t like, etc. I grew a skill set for reading his nonverbal cues and observation. I feel like I had to rely on this skill set so much that even today I put more value into other’s nonverbal cues than their verbal cues. It can be helpful, but it can also be a hindrance. I feel most people hear answers that satisfy them, but I need for an answer and facial expression to match to feel satisfied. Brandi Littlejohn Skeen


24% of 6th graders agree “it’s easy to get alcohol” 44% of 8th graders agree “it’s easy to get alcohol”2 Youth who consume alcohol are 5 times more likely to become dependent on or abuse alcohol than those who wait until age 21 or older3 Among high school students who consumed alcohol, 82% did so at their home or someone else’s home 4 Underage drinking cost the citizens of Georgia $1.4 billion in 2010


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scan the QR code to learn more National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Spotlight on Underage Drinking, No. 22 2010 Georgia Student Health Survey, Georgia Department of Education Hingson RW, Heeren T, Winter MR. Age at drinking onset and alcohol dependence: age at onset, duration, and severity. Pediatrics 2006;160:739–746 4 2009 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey 1 2 3


For the Health of It Dog not just man’s trusted companion By Doug Walker Associate Editor

Walking is one of the greatest, and perhaps easiest, forms of regular exercise. The Greater Rome community is blessed with a myriad of trails throughout the downtown area as well as more rural portions of the county where people can walk, and it’s not at all unusual to see folks out enjoying a walk with their dogs. Some do it simply as a means of enjoying time with their pet, while others do it as an extra measure of security. Darinda Stafford of Armuchee loves being outdoors and the chance to take her Applehead Chihuahua out with her. It could be during a lunch break from her job or it might be later in the afternoon, but little Spiffy is always ready and willing to go. Because of his extremely short legs, it looks like Spiffy is going a mile a minute to keep up with Stafford, but she insists that he is able to keep the pace. “Sometimes I walk him two or three miles on the Viking Trail (at Berry College),” Stafford said. “He loves it. If I stop, then he’ll stop and look around for me.” Amy Warren, a veterinarian at Culbreth-Carr-Watson Animal Clinic, said particularly when the dogs are of a very small species that it’s important to remember that they are taking eight or 10 steps to every one of their human companion. “You don’t want to overdo the little guys,” Warren said. “They’re pretty much just like us. It’s work your way up to it.” Stafford and Spiffy both love to be out at this time of year. She enjoys the beauty of the colors of fall, while Spiffy enjoys the cooler temperatures. They love to walk the quiet roads around Stafford’s home in the Armuchee community, however Spiffy, being a Chihuahua, is easy to carry with her when she’s out exploring other areas across Northwest Georgia. Just like their owners who may spend hundreds of dollars on the best walking shoes, Warren said that when dogs are taken out on hard surfaces, such as roads or concrete trails, it’s important to help them take care of their feet. “Obviously in the summer heat is an issue, not so much with the winter. Smooth trails are a lot easier on their pads,” Warren

Darinda Stafford (above) walks with Spiffy. Leigh Patterson (below) walks with Riley. Photos by Doug Walker

said. “They do make a lot of nice little booties, little slip on ones, Velcro ones, and there are some creams you can put on their pads to toughen them up.” Walks are generally uneventful until they come to a puddle of water. At that point, Spiffy throws on the breaks and looks up at his “mama” as if to say, you’re going to have to carry me through this water. “He doesn’t like rain,” Stafford said. Stafford and Spiffy have been outdoor buddies for about eight years now, and their newest venture involves kayaking. Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson walks her Weimaraner Riley every day. Riley is her third Weimaraner, and she said that if she doesn’t walk the dog every day, he’s got enough energy that he’s likely to take it out on a piece of furniture in her house, or in the office. “Sometime we walk the river from the police station down to Chieftains Museum and back,” Patterson said. Riley is about 19 months old. “There’s nothing like a big dog,” Patterson said. She started leash training the dog almost as soon as she got him. Riley is also fond of sticks and tennis balls in the yard, but Patterson said she enjoys it when they are able to get out and exercise together. Patterson said that both she and Riley take obedience classes, and Riley just recently got her Good Canine Citizen papers. Veterinarian Warren said it’s generally a real good idea to have larger dogs, such as Patterson’s, take obedience classes so that they can learn how to stay with their owner and not be a bother to others who are out enjoying a walk or jog on one of the local trails. Dr. Dan Pate, owner of the West Rome Animal Clinic, agrees whole-heartedly with the obedience training. While humans are generally cordial to one another while out for a walk, pets can occasionally get after one another unless they’re well trained. Aside from that, Pate said getting the dog out for a walk is a great idea. “They need the exercise as much as we need the exercise,” he said.


RACA Star: Simpson’s love of the arts led to her work with many cultural events

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When she’s not teaching classes at a local college or helping to organize a local event, Erica Simpson can be found on or around Broad Street. She likes the downtown atmosphere. She thrives on social interaction. And these traits have served her well as events director for the Rome Area Council for the Arts. “I have been here for over eight years,” said the associate professor of communication at Georgia Highlands College. “I moved to Rome in August 2005 after I graduated with my master’s degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.” Simpson had been volunteering at RACA events since 2009 and was asked to be on the board of directors after directing the Fourth Annual Rome Beer Festival in 2011. Later that year she became the organization’s events coordinator. “I’ve loved the arts since I was a kid,” she said. “I’ve played viola and clarinet, been in choirs since I could talk, acted in theater productions, and wrote for all my school newspapers. And while I’ve always been involved in the arts, I’ve never been talented enough at any of them to build a career around them. “When I moved to Rome I quickly noticed the thriving arts community. There was a symphony, an international film festival, an active community theater program at a historic downtown theater, and talented local musicians performing all over historic downtown. A community with an active arts culture makes such a difference in the quality of life of its citizens.” Simpson quickly made friends and associates in the community and used her networking skills to boost RACA’s exposure, but her planning know-how seemed to serve her just as well. “In addition to always being involved in the arts, I’ve also always been a planner, and had interned at various community organizations planning events during college,” she said. “That was a skill I seemed to excel at more than any of my art endeavors. I volunteered at many Rome arts events over the years, but it wasn’t until the 2010 Rome Beer Festival that I got to put some of those event planning skills to use, and in 2011 I got to use all of them when I became the director of the Rome Beer Festival, an annual fundraiser for Rome Area Council for the Arts.” Since moving to Rome, Simpson has volunteered for the Rome International Film Festival, the Rome Symphony Orchestra, Hospitality House, the Sexual Assault Center, Empty Bowls of Rome, Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Club, Harbor House, Southern Women Writers Conference and Kiwanis Club of Rome. “My biggest feat thus far is creating and developing the AllRoads Music Festival, which will celebrate its third year on May 3, 2014,”

she said. “AllRoads is an all-day music festival sponsored by Rome Area Council for the Arts that features over 25 local musical acts of varying genres at Heritage Park in Rome.” But even she will admit that the social interaction she’s known for didn’t come easy in the beginning. “Schmoozing and elbow rubbing was hard at first. I’m not from here. I didn’t inherently know who would be the best contact for event T-shirts, toilets, sound equipment, food vendors, sponsors, etc.,” she said. “At first I had to rely on advice and guidance from previous event directors. “I had to essentially start from scratch. I, and my co-directors, walked up and down Broad Street knocking on doors and using any contact we had in Rome and Floyd County to get vendors and sponsors,” she added. “And thankfully many of these local businesses took a chance, said yes, and invested in me and the events of Rome Area Council for the Arts. Since then these businesses have continued to support me and RACA, and I’m sincerely grateful because without community partners such as these, RACA could not have given its support to so many artists, arts organizations, and citizens of Rome and Floyd County.” But there is a private side to this very public person. One aspect of her life that most people don’t know about Simpson is her 5year-old cat, Greg Maddux. “However, I don’t want her to have gender identity issues, so I call her Maddie,” Simpson said. “For some reason, though, when I’m mad at her I call her Madduxio Rodriguez. I’m not sure of her breed, but she’s long-haired and mostly black.” And it seems Maddie and Simpson share some personality traits.

Story and photo by Severo Avila

My dog Chopper was a gift when I retired from teaching elementary Physical Education. My principal and assistant principal drove to South Carolina to get this Jack Russell for me as a retirement present from the entire staff at


Erica Simpson and her cat Greg Maddux (called Maddie)

“She’s persistent and doesn’t like to hear the word ‘no.’ Just because I say no or push her away from something doesn’t mean she won’t try again and again,” Simpson said. “She thinks she owns the world around her, which close friends would say is a trait similar to mine. Yet I think the quality of hers that is most like me is her need for attention. She just can’t figure out what she needs more — peace and quiet, or love and attention.” Attention is just what Simpson hopes to garner for Rome’s art community. She said the local art scene is strong, with musicians, potters, painters, chefs, dancers, actors and writers. And she’s encouraged by the community’s support of the arts. “One of my many goals for the Rome arts community is to find more ways to partner with each other and with non-arts related organizations,” she said. This idea of raising awareness and monetary support through art to better our community is definitely something I want to see more of and be a part of. “Downtown Rome is a primary reason why I continue to live in Rome, Georgia,” she added. “I have loved Broad Street since I moved here, and have continued to frequent the restaurants and stores over the years. It has always been a goal of mine to live and work downtown, and this past summer I was able to accomplish one of those. I recently moved into a 3rd floor loft on the 400 Block of Broad Street, and I love it. I can open my four windows that overlook Broad Street and see our community supporting the bustling restaurants and shops. While I appreciate what all of Rome has to offer, downtown Rome is where my heart is.”

Mission Road Elementary, Cartersville. My first Jack Russell had had an accident chasing a squirrel and broke his back. I had to have him put down and it killed me having to watch him go to sleep and never wake up. They presented

“Coach” to me on stage in front of the entire student body. I did change his name to Chopper because it was difficult for me to call him Coach since so many of my friends are coaches. Beth Heath

Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

Amy Robitshek

Amy Robitshek has six dogs that are part of her family, but she also opens her home to foster others’ pets.

Amy Robitshek is devoted to animals. She’s always been that way. “I was raised in a suburban home, but was fortunate enough to be around all kinds of animals growing up. Cats and dogs, turtles, rabbits, as well as any and all stray or injured animals that came our way. It was just what we did as a family.” So caring for animals is a core value for her, whether volunteering to walk dogs at a shelter or donating to rescue groups. “I personally adopted an FIV-positive cat and nurtured it back to health, after which it lived 10 miraculously healthy years. After adopting a dog from a shelter, I began fostering animals.” Ultimately, her passion stirred her to start a nonprofit called Good Shepherd Animal Refuge ( “With this organization, our vision is to provide everything from in-home care to temporary housing to adoption support for animals of those in crisis: individuals undergoing longterm medical treatment or who are in hospice care, families affected by abuse or homelessness, those joining our armed forces overseas. This is my way of extending my love for animals and providing a service to give peace and comfort to those who adore their animals as much as I do.” At 41, Amy is a part-time legal assistant. She and her husband, a doctor at Floyd Medical Center, moved to Rome four years ago from California. The best part is they have a home in the country with plenty of land, a pond and her kennels for fostering. Her own six dogs love romping and playing along the rolling landscape. Amy also manages to find time to serve as a pet partner with Compassionate Paws, a therapy dog organization. “I see firsthand how animals can affect humans. I have personally participated with my own animals delivering emotional attention through therapy visits, witnessed others provide physical support as service dogs, medical care through diabetes detection and seizure alerting and so on.” Perhaps it’s because she is quite shy that her outreach is to animals and through animals. Some might be surprised too that this introvert has “a full back piece tattoo that has been featured in several magazines – a youthful escapade that I will wear forever.” But it’s her love of animals that she wears most prominently. She sees it as part of her service to God. “I wanted to combine my love for Christian ministry and outreach with my passion and love for animals and do so in the nonprofit sector. This organization fulfills all three of my desires.” Charlotte Atkins, Editor


Magnolia of the Past

Helen Dean Rhodes She provided the musical soundtrack to Roman life for decades

By Charlotte Atkins Editor

Music was her life. Anyone who knew Helen Dean Rhodes knew that. Whether they were her students, her teachers or fellow musicians. Miss Rhodes’ legacy to Rome was as conductor for the Rome Symphony Orchestra for almost three decades beginning in the 1940s. A master musician and teacher, she devoted her life to music. Her background was vast. The Rome native (born in 1896) studied at the Atlanta Conservatory, Breneau College, Shorter College and Columbia University. She had as her teachers some of America’s most outstanding musicians, including John King Roosa, George Frederick Linder and Maximilian Pilzer. She participated in solo and chamber music circles and in New York City radio musical programs for the first half of her career and managed the Orchestra Classique, one of the two all-women orchestras in the United States. Founded in 1921, the Rome Symphony is the South’s oldest. It disbanded for a bit leading into World War II. The orchestra reorganized in 1946 and, at age 50, Miss Rhodes returned to Rome to take the reins as its conductor. The first concert she conducted was in January 1948 at Rome Girls High School, now known as Heritage Hall. She conducted the local orchestra through its 1975 season. But her musical reach extended even further. She was also the director of music at First Presbyterian Church for 25 years. And for many years, she was known to have traveled by Greyhound bus to Summerville, where she taught piano and violin. She also worked with musical programs in Rome and Floyd County schools. She also did a stint as director of the orchestra at Rome’s Rivoli Theater for silent films. Among her musicians there was none other than Kasper “Stranger” Malone, another Rome musical legend, who left for an unparalleled musical career and then returned to Rome 68 years later. Through her music, Miss Rhodes touched the lives of thousands in Rome and beyond and was the heart and hub of the Rome Symphony Orchestra for so many years. She died Sept. 14, 1976, just shy of her 80th birthday, having only recently relinquished her conductor’s baton to illness. As her obituary, published in the Sept. 19, 1976, edition of the Rome News-Tribune touted, “More than that, she was a gracious lady who brought a love and appreciation of good music to generations of Romans.” The Helen Dean Rhodes Scholarship Fund continues still at Shorter University. So her gift of music to students continues still.

I have an 18-year-old cat and a deaf pit bull. They are both solid white with one blue eye. That’s how I knew it was part of my destiny to have them. One time Sadee was is


H.D. Rhodes, violin; M. Bryson, piano; James W. Bryson, cello. Photograph courtesy of Rome Area History Museum

heat and she had her diaper on, and my mother’s cat (who is a bully) swatted at her from a chair when she walked by. His claw got stuck, so Sadee freaked out and ran and he

was still attached to her diaper! It was genuinely a Kodak moment for sure. Marina Vaughn

Photograph by Tracy Page / Babycake Studios

Cyndy Ferguson

Cyndy Ferguson runs her nail business by day, but she’s in a saddle riding every chance she gets.

One of Cyndy Ferguson’s favorite things is to saddle up one of her horses and ride. It renews her joy. It renews her spirit. “Riding my horses is my passion,” she says. Whether she’s riding her black-andwhite walking horse Sassy or palomino quarter horse Blue, they are all often decked out in pink. It’s Cyndy’s signature color. “I am a two-time breast cancer survivor,” says Cyndy and she will be the first to tell you cancer has made an advocate of her. She preaches mammograms like an evangelist saving souls and likes to help others on their cancer journey. Two years ago she started her Canter4Cancer trail ride to raise money for Cancer Navigators. And her most common salutations to women are “pink hugs” and “have you had your mammogram?” But Cyndy, 51, has a full life outside her cancer mission. She owns her own nail business Classy Nails by Cyndy, which she’s operated for 28 years. While her work and volunteerism take a good deal of this Rome native’s time, her family is what makes her heart sing. “I have been married to the same man for 33 years, which is surprising enough in this day and time.” Mike is a truck driver so when he comes off the road he likes to be home and surrounded by their two daughters and three grandkids. “We just like to get together and cook and enjoy time together,” says Cyndy, though as the grandkids get more involved in sports there are more and more ballgames to attend. Cyndy calls her mom, May Thacker, her hero. “She raised me by herself and worked numerous jobs. She set a good example of work ethic. She’s also a survivor of many obstacles and I just admire her so.” Her animals are part of her rich family life. “Animals bring so much joy,” says Cyndy. “They bring out the best in a person by making you forget your trials.” She has two rescue dogs – Bebe, a black lab mix, and Sofie, a tan mutt who’s been by her side through so much over the past decade, including a hysterectomy and chemo treatments. She’s also got a white cat named Scaredy Cat. “A white cat has always been part of my life since I was a child. I guess having a white cat is just part of me.” Cyndy relishes being outdoors with her animals. “I love this area for its rolling hills and beautiful mountain terrain. I especially love the fall time of year.” That’s obvious when you see this smiling modern-day pink cowgirl saddle up and ride out across a field toward an autumn-painted tree line. Charlotte Atkins, Editor


Making a Difference

Photograph by Alan Riquelmy

D’Ann Downey, president of Compassionate Paws, sits with Noah, 9, and Nappa, 4, who are both pet partners with the nonprofit group.

Pet partners bring unexpected help

Dogs, cats and llamas part of Compassionate Paws program By Alan Riquelmy Staff Writer

Nappa, a 4-year-old miniature Schnauzer, takes his job seriously. He lies quietly as D’Ann Downey, president of Compassionate Paws, rubs his ears. The simple motion lowers the blood pressure of the person who pets him, as well as his own, Downey said. Nappa is one of 51 pet partners with Compassionate Paws — a nonprofit group that brings dogs, cats and even llamas to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospice patients. The group provides an opportunity to those who want to spend time with a pet, and the interaction helps both person and animal. “People love it,” Downey said of the program before turning her attention to Nappa. “That dog knows who to go with, who to be with.” Compassionate Paws has its beginnings in research Downey performed years ago involving middle-aged women and their relationship with their pets. During her research Downey realized


how beneficial the animals are to the people around them. Armed with that knowledge, Downey knew she needed to take action. An ad in the newspaper for volunteers drew a small crowd. The formation of the nonprofit group, a board of directors and a business plan soon followed. “It was born when I felt the energy was bigger than what I felt myself,” Downey said. The volunteers and pet partners have grown in number since Compassionate Paws was born in July 2007. The results have, in some cases, been miraculous. Downey gave the example of a man in a coma at a Rome hospital. He was motionless. Nothing drew a response from him. Then Compassionate Paws entered the picture. “This man responded to this dog,” Downey said. “He would touch the dog. Within a few days, he was out of that coma.” Pet partners also have elicited responses from silent nursing home residents. In one case, a resident who never spoke asked a dog if it was all right after it slipped on the floor. “It elicits love and acceptance,” Downey said of the animals. “It can be a diversion for the pain they’re in.”

Hospitals and nursing homes aren’t the only places Compassionate Paws visits. It also helps kids in the classroom. Downey said the same pet partners can help kids with their literacy skills through the READ program. READ — Reading Education Assistance Dogs (or cats) are keen listeners. Kids with literacy issues read aloud to the animals, who listen without prejudice. It’s helped children with their reading skills. People who want to participate in Compassionate Paws must first have themselves and their pet pass a test. Volunteers can take an eight-hour workshop in person or online. An evaluator then examines both the person and pet. The animals must obey certain commands. They’re also exposed to hospital equipment, loud noises and heavy petting. No animal can show any aggression, Downey said. Additionally, the pet partners must repeat the test every two years. “The demand for pet partners far exceeds the number that we have,” she added. “We’re constantly in need of more pet partners.” Those interested in learning more about Compassionate Paws should visit or call 706-295-2498.

She Said:

SHHH! It’s our little secret! Having company?

What are your pets’ names, and why did you choose them?


Our championship dachshund’s name is Bentley, because he has a slight bend in his tail. Mechelle Cliatt




Lucy is a cocker-spaniel runt. I have her because when I saw her at 7 weeks old, I looked at her eyes and fell in love with her and just had to have her. Her full name is Lucy McGilicudy Bella Fantasia Moore Gray. The Lucy McGilicudy is after Lucille Ball. Bella is what her original name was before I got her (which was about 2 seconds). Fantasia is what we tricked someone into thinking her name was, Moore was my last name when I got her, andGray was my thenboyfriend/now-husband’s last name. Bridget Gray

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Kitty Blue and Sadee. Kitty Blue got his name because he is solid white with a green and blue eye. Sadee got her name from the Beatles song “Sexy Sadie”. Marina Vaughn Our cat’s name is D.C. Stands for Darn Cat (named after one of my favorite Hayley Mills movies). Also can be taken up a notch, depending on his behavior! Our dog’s name is Jem. He’s named after the character in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He wandered up to our house along with his “sister,” who we named Scout (also a character in the book). Like most brothers and sisters, they fought a lot and did not get along. Scout was adopted out to a loving home in Lindale. Aimee Madden


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Home Sweet Home

Fostering pets ... until they find a forever home has it rewards

Sophie Jeanie Waddell

Pepper By Carolyn Grindrod Staff Writer

There’s no doubt that Jeanie Waddell has a passion for all creatures, both great and small. When she was just a little girl, she said she used to drive her parents nuts with the love of not just dogs or cats, but all fuzzy faced creatures and critters. She remembers always having a deeply rooted sensitivity to animals, relating to how they think and what they have to endure at times and grew up with a dream of one day owning a large farm, where her passion for critters could expand and would be grow and be fulfilled. Today, as a vegetarian and an owner of the Impossible Dream horse farm in Cedartown, it’s not surprising to hear the self-titled animal advocate talk about one of the most rewarding and life-changing moments in her life. The day, nearly 16 years ago, when Waddell decided to sign up as a foster mom for the Rome Floyd Humane Society.

A first foster failure When she first moved to the Greater Rome area, Waddell said she was stunned by the amount of stray, abandoned, neglected or surrendered animals. After a friend saw a sign-up for the Humane Society, Waddell decided to lend a helping hand to the local chapter. At that point in time, Cedartown did not have an animal control facility, so Waddell immediately went and paid for a membership in Rome and asked what she could do to help. For her first volunteering experience, Waddell helped at an adoption drive outside of Kroger back when the RFHS took Floyd County Animal Control animals to events. “Whatever wasn’t adopted that day went back to FCAC, meaning they were subject to being euthanized,” she recalls. Not being able to bear the thought of her pup being euthanized in the shelter, she carried the puppy around all day trying to get someone to adopt him. “Everyone I asked said they were not interested because ‘he looks like a Rottweiler, and he will be mean when he grows up,’“ Waddell continued.


After exhausting all routes that day, Waddell decided she absolutely could not allow the pup to go back to the animal control facility, and signed the paper to “foster” him. Two weeks later at the first RFHS meeting, she paid the adoption fee and signed the FCAC adoption papers. “He was my first foster and my first foster failure,” she laughed. “His name is Bizzy, and I still have him to this day! He can’t quite get around like he used to but he has been the best dog I could have ever asked for!” Since Bizzy’s arrive in Waddell’s life, she said she’s had several“foster failures”and has a special place in her heart for“Black Dog Syndrome” pups; black pups, she said, have the hardest time getting adopted. “I guess that’s why I am drawn to them,”Waddell added.

Saving lives, one pup at a time Behind the large iron gates of her 60-acre farm on Fish Creek Road in Cedartown, Waddell has since found a haven for animals since that fateful day 16 years ago. Today, between juggling her daily duties as owner, manager and trainer of the equine farm, she also runs the rescue and adoption program at Rome Floyd Human Society. And with the amount of space available and love in her heart, she had dedicated her time to taking care of her foster dogs for several different organizations as well as helping new foster parents adapt to their new roles. And the job has been no small feat. Take last fall, for instance. Waddell set a personal best for adoption records with 43 adoptions in 30 days. “The most dogs I have had at any one time was last fall when I had a total of 60 dogs,” said Waddell. “That number also included my eight personal dogs so it was actually 52 foster dogs. That sounds like a lot — and it is — but there were several litters of puppies that I had pulled from Animal Control and litters of puppies make the numbers rise quickly.” Waddell said she has done adoptions all over the United States, helping to find “furever” homes for canines. She’s been as far south

as Florida, as far north as Maine and as far west as California. “I have been very lucky getting such wonderful adopters. I also have a network of people in other states that can help with home visits as needed,” she added. But the real joy for her is not just finding a home, but saving a life … and not just the pup’s. “It is simply amazing the updates, pictures, Christmas cards and letters I get from the new parents keeping me updated on how well their new family member is doing,” said Waddell. “Letters thanking me for what we do and for saving their pet’s life and how they can’t imagine life now without this wonderful animal. There was a letter from someone who said their adopted dog helped him through his wife’s death. I have had animals that went on to become therapy dogs. I get pictures of adopted dogs graduating obedience school. I have had people so thrilled with their adopted pet that they came back to me some time later to adopt another so their animal had a friend. All these updates are really what keeps me going.” And of course, fostering comes with its downs, too. Waddell said she’s seen her share of heartache with sick, shaking, terrified, mangy animals with behavioral issues, broken bones, you name it, and having no chance at life. But Waddell prides herself in making it through those tough times and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel once adoption is made possible. “The hardest part of fostering,”she said, “is making the leap to do it — to go from considering it to actually signing up, and taking on the life of a foster animal. What I get out of fostering is an amazing feeling of achievement that no words can describe. I was a part of saving an animal’s life. I was their lifeline. I was their chance at not just a better life, but a life at all — and for me that’s the most important legacy I could leave behind. All the lives that never would have been without my fostering. For me there are hundreds. But fosters do not need to strive for numbers. If you save one life by fostering that makes all the difference to that one animal that you helped save.”

common in her breed, leading me to meet Dr. Tracy King-Hill, a pet ophthalmologist in Marietta; I didn’t know such a specialist existed until Libby’s diagnosis. For the last year my life has consisted of five different eye drops administered four times a day beginning at 6 a.m., again at noon, administered by my 83-year-old mother who “babysits” Libby during the day. Then it is home from work for the 6 p.m. dose and up at midnight for the final dose of the day. Sometimes staggering “Through Libby’s Eyes” through the house at midnight reminds me Over the course of the last couple of years I of the late night adventures of the past have learned a lot about caring for senior while rearing two children. citizen dogs, and as a result, I have learned a Libby is now blind in her left eye and lot about myself. With four dogs, three of them awaiting surgery to remove the eye, but rescue dogs, and 3 of the 4 being over 10 years when she looks at me with the love and old, I realize what it is like to operate a nursing trust that only a “parent” can understand, I home for dogs! But the story of Libby the Diva know that this journey has helped me to Dog Basset Hound has been quite an stop and reconsider the true meaning of adventure. Libby has developed glaucoma in the word commitment. her left eye, which I now know is very Kay Chumbler

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2013 Fall Winter Magnolia  
2013 Fall Winter Magnolia  

2013 Fall Winter Magnolia