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A huge Thank You! to Anna of Frosted Petunias for hosting this Practical Magic 2011 Party.  And to Chrislyn of Spiritdog Studios for encouraging me to join the fun!  Welcome to all who visit my party. 

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“One beautiful April day, when Sally was in sixth grade, all of the aunts’ cats followed her to school.  After that, even the teachers would not pass her in an empty hallway and would find an excuse to head in the other direction.  As they scurried away, the teachers smiled at her oddly, and perhaps they were afraid not to.  Black cats can do that to some people; they make them go all shivery and scared and remind them of dark, wicked nights.  The aunts cats, however, were not particularly frightening.  They were spoiled and liked to sleep on the couch and they were all named for birds.” *

Sally Owens didn’t want the cats coming with her to school, but like most cats, they ignored what she wanted and did as they pleased.  Sally wanted only to be invisible at school.  “Jeez,” she thought.  “The last thing I need is five stupid black cats tagging along!” 

Sally knew the cats weren’t stupid and immediately felt guilty and ashamed.  She loved the cats.  But kids taunted her and her sister Gillian when they thought they could get away with it, she didn’t need something like this to give them more ammunition.  “I wish Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet lived in the south of France,” she thought.  “There at least, people would think I’m super lucky to have black cats following me around.” 

But Sally didn’t live in southern France with her aunts, she lived in New England where most people thought black cats were evil because witches seemed to favor cats as companions and black cats the most.  Of course, almost everyone in New England assumed that witches were evil, which Sally knew was not true at all.  But what did it matter what Sally knew?  Everyone else seemed to think witches were terrible, ugly things, not caring, lovely people like her aunts.        

Sally stood in the hallway outside her classroom not knowing what to do. “If I go in with the cats” she thought, “the teacher will be mad and somebody will do something awful, I just know it.  If I go home, I’ll get in so much trouble with the teacher she might flunk me!”  Either choice was not good and Gillian was not at school today to ask for her help. 

Too scared of her choices to do either, Sally sat down on the floor with her back against the lockers and put her head on her knees so no one could see the tears leaking out of her eyes.  She couldn’t make them stop no matter how hard she tried.  Four of the cats surrounded her, laid down facing out, their yellow eyes daring anyone to bother Sally.  Magpie, the fifth cat and Sally’s favorite, crawled into her lap as if he knew just how hard it was to be a young witch in a place where 200 years ago witches were persecuted and tortured.

No one dared come near Sally.  Not other kids, not teachers, not even the principal of the school.  The kids whose lockers Sally sat near decided they didn’t need whatever was in their lockers that day.  Sally sat and cried until the school was deserted and it was past time for her to be home.  Patient, as cats can be when they want to be, none of the cats had moved.  Cardinal, Crow, Raven and Goose still guarded Sally, while Magpie lay warmly in her lap.

“Everyone is gone now,” said a deep voice above Sally’s head. “You can go home.  Tomorrow everyone will pretend nothing unusual happened today, I’m sure.  And they’ll be too frightened to say anything to you about it.”  Harold, the school janitor, held out his hand.  Magpie walked off Sally’s lap while Harold helped Sally to her feet.  He chuckled softly, almost to himself, “Your cats did a very good job of keeping kids away and looking threatening.”        

Harold walked with Sally out to the door of the school, the cats trailing behind them both.  At the door of the school, when Sally turned her face up to the tall man to say Thank You, Harold looked her in the eyes and said “It will get easier when you are older Sally.  I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but if you can hang in there and not lose yourself, you will be happy.  I promise.” 

Then Harold smiled and winked before closing the door behind her.  She was sure he winked.  Did he wink?  Does he really know something about her future that she doesn’t know?  Sally, with Magpie, Cardinal, Crow, Raven and Goose on either side of her, walked toward home for the evening, hoping Mr. Harold McElvie was right.  She hoped that tomorrow everyone would pretend that today hadn’t happened at all.    

Copyright 2011 Maren K. Jensen

* Quote from the book Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

9/11 Canine Heroes

At the end of last week, one of my sisters forwarded an email to me that was so touching I wanted to share it with you. 

Yesterday morning as I watched the ceremonies on TV hosted by Brian Williams, he talked to the last survivor pulled from Ground Zero, Genelle Guzman-McMillan.  Brian Williams mentioned the dog who found her scent and Genelle said his name was Tracker.  I’m assuming Tracker is not with us anymore and I know nothing else about him, but the pictures below are search and rescue dogs who, like Tracker, also looked for people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  These lovely dogs are still alive and well.

I don’t know where this email originated, but I am honored to share these photos with anyone who happens upon Camp Leonardo.

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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.

9/11 search dogs who are still alive.  True heroes of 9/11 still with us today…

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

Moxie

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

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

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

Bretagne and Denise

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

Guiness

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

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

Red

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

 

Tuff

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 day.
 

Hoke

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 Unknown Dog

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

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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 was published on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Charlotte Dumas' Book

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 andAmsterdam.

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

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I couldn’t agree more, and I thank Charlotte Dumas for commemorating these dogs’ selfless work and lives.

Even at first glance you notice that RamaTian is an unusual cat.  As you can see in the picture, he has quite large front paws for his size.  His paws are also an unusual shape, they look a bit like mittens when he picks them up.

RamaTian

Rami (as RamaTian is known to friends and family) has unusually large paws, not because he is a big footed kitten whose body will catch up in size to his feet.  He is already an adult cat.  Nor are his paws extra large because of his breed.  No one knows exactly what breed Rami is.  His front paws are large because he has extra toes.     Continue Reading »

 

It is a clear, sunny morning in the pasture.  Unfortunately, the last four days have been anything but clear and sunny – they have been the typical rainy spring weather in the Seattle area.  The weather people are saying another storm is coming with wind and rain tonight, and the rain is supposed to continue for the next few days.  Now is the time to brush the horses, while their coats are dry, before it rains again. 

Like wild horses, Sami, Arianna and Sagan grow fuzzy coats to keep them warm through the winter.  But they are not wild horses.  They need care and attention to stay healthy and comfortable.  Brushing the horses this time of year keeps their skin and hair in good health through the fall and winter seasons.  Plus, regular grooming helps prevent bacterial skin infections that can develop under the hair in long periods of wet weather.

Sagan - an expert at getting muddy

Similar to a water resistant windbreaker or tent cover, a horse’s winter coat acts as a barrier to rain and cold, but is not waterproof.  Like touching a water resistant tent when it’s raining, petting or brushing a wet horse will break the barrier and allow the wet and cold to penetrate and get to the horse’s skin.  If they live outside, it’s a good idea not to pet or brush the wet areas of their coats unnecessarily while it’s raining or snowing.

Continue Reading »

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