postheadericon A baby’s hand—when does life begin?

I have seen this vignette before and was overwhelmed then and again now.  I know all the reasons for abortion, but still to take a baby at any stage during pregnancy is taking a life.  I am Catholic Christian and prolife and I empathize with women who feel trapped by an unwanted pregnancy especially through rape. Still . . .

Please read before viewing picture – it’s worth it!

A picture began circulating in November. It should be ‘The Picture of the Year,’ or perhaps, ‘Picture of the Decade.’ It won’t be. In fact,unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it.

The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner.

The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother’s womb. Little Samuel’s mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta . She knew of Dr. Bruner’s remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville , he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon’s finger. Dr…Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, ‘Hand of Hope.’ The text explaining the picture begins, ‘The tiny hand of 21-week- old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother’s uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life’

Little Samuel’s mother said they ‘wept for days’ when they saw the picture. She said, ‘The photo reminds us pregnancy isn’t about disability or an illness, it’s about a little person.’ Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

Now see the actual picture, and it is awesome…incredible….and hey, pass it on. The world needs to see this one!

Don’t tell me our God isn’t an awesome God!

postheadericon “TWINKIE”

While my friend Eric and I were in North Carolina “enjoying” the cold, windy, and rainy shows at which Cyber Dawn gave a great accounting of himself, a different dynamic was taking place in Michigan with another Rattlebridge dog. I had asked Eric to join me and help me drive to North Carolina with Cyber; I could not have gotten organized, remained organized, and kept all in good order without him.  I am a bit of a mess when it comes to organizing anything anymore!  Cyber was entered in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Central Carolina specialty show followed by the two Moore County all breed shows; I had judged the shows last year in beastly heat; this year the weather was just the opposite.  This was Ch. Cyber’s first time in the best of breed ring as a champion and my first time showing a dog in the champion ring unless I had gone winner’s with the dog or bitch.  Cyber was co bred and co owned with my friend Sherri Myers who is showing his brother Am. and Can. Ch. Rattlebridge The Dawnald. I am not a talented handler; what I lack in technique I have always made up in panache finishing my share of champions in the ring.  My Cyber loves me and responded well to my less than amazing handling ability winning breed at the specialty with UK judge Rhonda Banks, and taking the breed the next day and a select the day after.  Well, lots of celebrating!  A few photos to capture the flavor of the show:

Packing the car--a real chore. Thank you, Eric

Packing the car--a real chore. Thank you, Eric !

Cyber on the bed!

Cyber on the bed!

My friend Ginger In the ring

My friend Ginger.

My Cyber and me

Cyber and me In the ring.

My Cyber and-me

My Cyber and me.

However, I got an email on Sunday from Jan who is associated with Cavalier Rescue USA in Michigan.  It seems that one of my old Cavaliers sold thirteen years earlier to a woman I will only identify as Wendy from Farmington Hills had been turned over to rescue.  “Twinkie” was sold to this woman to be a beloved pet with the stipulation that I be notified if ever the new owner could not keep the dog.  I also wanted to be notified if the dog developed problems or if the new owner needed advice.  I had never been notified that the Twinkie had developed age related issues or that the Wendy was not treating them.  Jan found my original bill of sale in all the paperwork submitted with Twinkie and was able to contact me after all these years. It seems that a divorce figured in the mix somewhere, but this woman first tried to turn poor Twinkie in to a local shelter without ever notifying me that she could no longer keep him.  Can  you imagine what would go through my poor Wendy’s mind or the minds of all the old Rattlebridge dogs before her if I would just give them to shelters when they became a problem.  Thank God the shelter was full and would not take Twinkie who then wound up in the right rescue.  I was contacted and my friend Eric met Jan half way to pick up Twinkie Monday just after arriving home as I had already come down with usual bronchitis.  At my request Jan had taken Twinkie to the vet for a check up for his various untreated ailments including infected eyes from dry eye.  Eric brought him home, but would not let me see Twinkie until he could prepare me.  I brushed his kindness aside because I have seen the evidence of abuse and neglect and neglect Twinkie had suffered.  Emaciated with teeth so bad he could not eat, matted coat which Jan had kindly worked on, infected eyes,  untreated heart murmur, and no light in his eyes as he had been abandoned by the one he had loved for thirteen years. AND SHE WOULD HAVE JUST GIVEN HIM UP TO AN ORDINARY SHELTER DESPITE THE CONTRACT THAT HE BE RETURNED TO ME!!! Thank God he came back to me and thank God for Jan of Cavalier Rescue USA.  He was so sweet and still wagged although we could tell his sad old heart was not in it.  We spent yesterday morning at my vet’s trying to come up with a plan to save him but could not figure out a way to really do so as the dental surgery would have been major and his poor old heart might not have made it through. So with both of us crying, my vet and I put Twinkie to sleep.  I kissed his head as I held him, whispering to him that he was a good boy and that he was loved.  He died in the same arms that brought him into the world.  I would have taken him back at anytime and taken care of him, but was denied the chance.  I did get the chance to love him at the end as I had loved him in the beginning.

Twinkie Twinkie, home to a different home but to the same arms.  He had given up. How can people discard their pets so callously.

I know lives change, mine certainly has in the past year, but responsibility is responsibility. When one takes on the responsibility of a pet, one must do everything to ensure that the pet has quality of life until the very end.  I am afraid there are too many poor “Twinkies” out there that should have wound up in their breeder’s arms who bears the responsibility from “birth to death” of every puppy, no matter what the breed, pure or mixed, brought into the world.  So now when I look at the trophies Cyber won this past weekend, I will always consider them a memorial to my Twinkie who came home to die.

postheadericon unsung canine heroes of 9/11

The media memorials for 9/11 were terribly sad and terribly touching at the same time. So many perished. The first response rescuers were awesome; too many of them dying along with the victims or later due to the toxic ashes, smoke, and chemicals.  We celebrate our heroes, but there were other heroes after 9/11:

The twelve 9/11 search dogs who are still alive:

Their eyes say everything you need to know about them.  Just amazing creatures.

True heroes of 9/11 still with us today..


Moxie, 13, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days


Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight days


Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble



Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at the site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten days


Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the site with Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days



Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, working the night shift for five days


Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines


Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 pm on the day of attack to start working early the next dayimage011

Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver on September 24 and searched for five days


Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.

Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled ‘Retrieved’.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted ‘Retrieved’ to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.

‘I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,’ explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.

‘They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.’


A True Duck Story from San Antonio, Texas

It is strange what is remembered from childhood—a melody of a song, a line from a poem, a character from a children’s book.  I will never forget Nurse Fuzzy Wuzzy from the Uncle Wiggily books which my mother read to us in the car from Ohio to New York for the Holidays. When I was a child we used to sing the following to a John Sousa march: “Oh, be kind to our fine feather friends for a duck may be somebody’s mother. She lives in the ponds and the lake where the weather is always fine.”

So the following story tells the tale of a duck that was somebody’s mother.

Something really cute happened in this week. Michael is an accounting clerk at a downtown Bank and works there in a second story office.  Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.


Michael worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching. Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off.

Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.


The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge  and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. Michael couldn’t stand to watch this risky effort nine more times! He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall. Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help.


As the second one took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down it by its momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap. (The momma must have sensed that Michael was trying to help her babies.)


One by one the babies continued to jump. Each time Michael hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall.  At the scene the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill. Time after time, Michael was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother.


At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the San Antonio River , site of the famed “River Walk.” The on looking office secretaries and several  San Antonio police officers joined in. An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother’s approval, and loaded them in the container. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her Brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the San Antonio River. The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight, all the way.


As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping in the river and quacking loudly. At the water’s edge, Michael tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother after their adventurous ride.


All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma. Michael said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the  beaming bank bookkeeper, and proudly quacking.


At last, all present and accounted for: “We’re all together again.  We’re here!  We’re here!”


And here’s a family portrait before they head outward to further adventures …


Like all of us in the big times of our life, they never could have made it alone without lots of helping hands. I think it gives the name of San Antonio ‘s famous “River Walk” a whole new meaning!