Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 4 – 4/18/2012

25 days and counting.  I can’t believe it.  The winter that never was (in the South at least) slipped by in the bat of an eye, and in a week or so the suitcases will come out of the closets, and Maddie and Bear will begin to wonder, “Where we going?”

As always when this time of year comes around, I find myself looking back over the last six months and hoping they’ve been productive.  The blogs have kept me busy, Bear and I have enjoyed our Pet Partners work, and Ted’s been faithful in driving veterans for hospital and doctor visits.  We’ve had great times with friends, we’ve traveled more than usual, and – as we say every year – we haven’t had nearly enough time with the kids and grandkids.  But we know they’re all planning on trips to the Island this summer, and once they’re there we can pretty much hold them captive for awhile!  How great it is they love Mackinac almost as much as we do!

I don’t have a lot of news from the Island today, but I have some totally awesome photos I’ll get to shortly.  Friends on the Island let me know that just when the weather seemed to be warming to the point that lilacs might be in jeopardy of blooming really early, Mother Nature intervened with  . . . . . . .

. . .Snow! Mary McGuire from the Tourist Bureau took this photo early today (Wednesday), and she's hoping that this reversal back to colder weather will send the lilac buds back into hiding. For the next two weeks it looks like the highs will be holding in the low 50's, so we'll just have to wait and see if the Lilac Festival in June arrives during or after the lilacs bloom.

I loved the message Doud’s Market posted today on FacebookSpring is here!! The staff at Doud’s Market is busy getting the store ready for a bustling summer season!  Doud’s Deli reopened this past week.  You can grab a slice of pizza to go or order a pizza to take home with you.  (Spring hours vary, so call ahead before placing an order, 906.847.3444)  We have delicious homemade soups, freshly-made salads and sandwiches to go and a wonderful meat selection to choose from.  We will be adding some new items to our deli menu this season as well.  Stay in touch as we stock the Market with new items and new delicious deli items!  Our hours are currently 7:30AM-7:00PM, Monday-Saturday; 10AM-5PM, Sunday. Hours will be changing in the next few weeks to extended hours.”  Can’t wait to visit Andrew and all the workers at Doud’s!

Since 1967 the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association (MRPA) has offered travelers ages 50 and over a unique opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel at a significantly reduced rate during the off-season.  The program offers an all inclusive package including ferry, taxi, hotel stay, breakfast and five course dinner, all tax and gratuities, carriage tour, Fort Mackinac visit, golf chipping and putting competitions, bocce competition, crafts, dancing, carriage tours and more! Each fall over 1400 seniors participate in the various dates offered (Sept. 25-28; Oct. 8-11; Oct. 14-16; and Oct. 21-24). If you’d like more information about this opportunity, you may call Karen Aune at 517-485-9888.

MRPA has graciously allowed me to publish winners in the photo contest offered participants in 2011’s Grand Experience.  I found these photographs to be fresh, exciting, and so very original.  As I’ve said so many times, we all see Mackinac through different eyes, and our cameras capture moments in time we will turn back to remember over and over again when we think of our journeys there.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

A totally different vision of the Grand Hotel's Tea Garden. Third Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Glorious" by Van Weimer

The entrance to one of Mackinac's most beautiful homes. Second Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Gate" by Carl Sturgeon

A butterfly greets visitors to the Island. First Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Welcome to the Island" by Dolores Surletta

Touring the Island in the fall. Third Place - People/Activities Category. "Fall Carriage Ride" by Linda Stephas

A perfect cup of tea. Second Place - People/Activities Category. "Tea Time" by Peter (Pat) Koloff

Awesome black & white photo! First Place - People/Activities Category. "Taxi" by Phyllis Neumann

Only one porch like this one in the whole world! Third Place - View of the Grand Category. "My Dream of a Porch" by Marcie Steidmann

Simple touches mean so much. Second Place - View of the Grand Category. "Awareness" by Caroline Medwith

Ahhh . . . the Herb Garden. First Place - View of the Grand Category. "Quiet Moments in a Quaint Garden" by Linda Meyer.

One more news item about the Grand Hotel.  This summer the Grand will celebrate its 125th anniversary, and nobody celebrates quite like the Grand.  On July 10th a 125′ cake will be wheeled onto the Grand porch for hotel guests to enjoy, and during the weekend of July 13-15 there will be receptions, fireworks, presentations, concerts, and tournaments.  Bill Semion of wrote a wonderful article about this birthday party, and you can read it here:

Here’s a few more photos Island friends have shared this week:

Getting ready for the season and the big celebration, the Grand is getting a fresh coat of paint. (Photo by: the Grand Hotel)

A beautiful early morning view of a freighter slipping through the pass. (Photo: Jeri-Lynn Bailey)

Here come the tulips! (Photo: Mission Point Resort)

The Seabiscuit opened for the season this week. (Photo: Sonnet Quinn)

Jeri-Lynn Bailey snapped this photo during Spring Break in Florida, but wouldn't that just be the perfect Mackinac Island lawn mower!

Friend Maryanke Alexander and her beautiful Jetske, who she thinks (our fingers are crossed) is in foal. Jetske will be on the Island this summer with Maryanke.

Easter morning at Windermere Point. (Photo: Doud's Market)

While I was going through some of Ted’s photos from last fall, I found this one of the condo.  There it sits, on Surrey Ridge, empty for six-and-a-half months.  If buildings could talk, I like to think this one might be saying . . . “They’ll be here soon.  My doors will be unlocked, my windows will be flung open, and the breeze will rush through my rooms.  Rugs and mats will once again cover my bare floors; sheets and blankets and pillows will be placed on my beds.  Groceries will come up the hill, and happy dogs will settle on my deck and watch the season unfold from their favorite perch.  They’ll be here soon.  They’ll be here soon!”

See you next Wednesday!  God bless.

Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 3 – 4/11/2012

It’s the middle of April, and the weird weather continues.  The forecast was for snow on the Island today, and a friend who lives there said it sounded like “the gales of November” outside this morning.  It seems Mackinac is having its usual March weather in April this year.  I can’t imagine what this is doing to the lilac trees (they’re already blooming in Detroit), but since most of them are over a hundred years old, they can probably survive most anything Mother Nature sends their way.

Speaking of spring, the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau has a nifty little page on their web site that explains everything you want to know about spring on the Island.  That address is:

Newsy items:

  • I can’t remember if I mentioned this little new store last summer or not, and I never did get down to visit it, but it’s going to be one of my first stops this spring.  The name is Mackinac Island’s Finest, and it was opened to support the Mackinac Island Fire, Police, and EMS Departments.

The store is located at the front of the Arnold Dock, just off Main Street.

Inside, you'll find all sorts of items bearing the names of these three very important Island departments.

They've renovated the store over the winter and added more clothing and decor items. What a great way to support these services that none of us could get along without!

  • Take a good, long look at this photo and see if you can figure out where on the Island it is . .

If you guessed British Landing Road, you are correct!  In this vintage photo, the land was the location of the Early/Dousman farm, and it yielded approximately one hundred tons of hay yearly.  The farm is now the site of the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center and the oldest continuously run golf course in Michigan, Wawashkamo.

  • Our Easter weekend was packed with family and five special visitors from Michigan – the Bailey family.  Brian is the general manager of the Chippewa and Lilac Tree Hotels on the Island, and we’ve become great friends with him and wife Jeri-Lynn over the years.  With their three children, they stopped by overnight Friday on their way back home from spring break in Florida.  What fun!

  • Jeannette Doud’s column in the St. Ignace News this week was full of updates on store owners returning to the Island to ready businesses for the season.  She mentioned that Horn’s Bar will be opening on Friday, April 27.  She also reported the front porch of the Grand Hotel is being painted in preparation for its soft opening on April 27 and the big opening Thursday, May 3.  Hart’s Haven, Metivier Inn, and the Cloghaun are all being prepared for their near future openings.
  • The Pink Pony is opening Thursday, May 10.  The next day, May 11, both the Chippewa Hotel and the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa will reopen for the season.  And that’s straight from the horse’s (sorry Brian) mouth.
  • The St. Ignace News reported that more bones have been found on the Island, marking the second time in five months downtown excavations have revealed bones.  They were discovered when construction workers were digging to lay a water line under Frank Shama’s Gifts on Main Street.  The first bones (human) were found during excavation of the former McNally Cottage, site of the new Bicycle Street Inn.  The proper authorities were contacted, and tests will determine if indeed these bones are also human remains.  Sault Tribe repatriation specialist Cecil Pavlat said, “It’s unfortunate, but that island was a burial ground for our people, so anytime digging is involved, there’s a chance that bones will be found.”  If the bones are human, they could either be included in the proposed burial mound at Ste. Anne’s Cemetery or be reburied under the gift shop.  “Whenever possible,” Pavlat said, “the tribe would prefer to keep the remains at rest where they were discovered, so long as the location is safe.”

That catches up all the news for this week.  I have a few photos to post, and let me once again thank all of you who, over the winter, have made it possible for me to continue to share Island life with my readers.  You are awesome!

A photo of tulips and a passing freighter from last spring. (Photo by: Mission Point Resort)

It's not often we see Round Island Light from this perspective. Ben Horn was ON Round Island when he snapped this shot. In the background, the West Bluff homes, the Grand Hotel and the homes along the Boardwalk are visible.

I was so hoping I'd be able to share a photo this week of the Mackinac Bridge ablaze with blue lights for Autism Awareness Month, and here it is. A huge thank you to Dave Black of Mackinac Straits Photography in St. Ignace for allowing me to use this stunning photo. The swan in the foreground is a striking touch.

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.  See you back here next Wednesday . . . the countdown begins!  God bless.

Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 2

Yeah, SPRINGGGGGGG!  Thanks for all the “get well quick” wishes!  I think spending five hours out on the boat – on a very hot day, in full sun – was a little bit of “too much, too soon”.  I learned my lesson though, and from now on I’m going to try not to soak up all my sun in one day!

Horses, fresh off the ferry, making the turn off Main Street and heading for the horse barns.

The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau posted a photo today of three teams of horses arriving on the Island.  A few hours later, Mackinac Island Carriage Tours was already receiving phone inquiries as to whether tours had started for the summer.   I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like we could have a very good season coming up!

I learned later that the horses arriving today were dray horses – not carriage horses – and they are replacing the teams that have worked all winter.  Yep – I think those guys deserve a little vacation time.  If you look closely, you can see the horses in the photo still have their heavy winter coats.  They’ve spent the winter even further north than Mackinac Island – outside – but that coat has kept them plenty warm.  Now that they’re back, they’ll shed that extra hair pretty fast.

A Few News Items

  • For the 18th consecutive year, the Grand Hotel was selected for the prestigious AAA Diamond Award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week.  Congratulations!
  • Wanting to spend the season on the Island and pick up some money in the process?  Check out for a listing of available Island jobs!
  • Less than a month before Mackinac Island State Historic Parks will begin opening its sites to the public for the 2012 season.  For a look at the newly designed park brochures and to get info on admission dates and rates, go to

The 2014 “Seasons of Mackinac Calendar winners have been announced!  Winners are:

  • January – Rich Lind (Mackinac Island) – Island ferry amidst ice flow in the Straits of Mackinac
  • February – Sam Garrow (Marquette, MI) – Fort Mackinac Block House
  • March –  Shay Poizin (Mackinac Island) – A snowy Cadotte Avenue
  • April – Steven Moskwa (Mackinac Island) – 1000 ft. freighter makes passage through the narrow Straits
  • May – Penny Wojahn (Tawas, MI) – Grand Hotel under the dark of night
  • June – Sam Garrow (Marquette, MI) – Market Street lined with lilacs
  • July – Susan Madden (Onaway, MI) – A bright and busy Mackinac Main Street
  • August – J. Pearson (Chesterton, IN) – A summery Little Stone Church
  • September – Penny Wojahn (Tawas, MI) – The Grand Hotel aglow in the setting sun
  • October – Penny Wojahn (Tawas, MI) – Main Street Mackinac in the quiet of an early morn
  • November – Sam Garrow (Marquette, MI) – A fall foliage East Bluff and lakefront
  • December – Gaspare Calandrino (Ada, MI) – The Christmas ferry heading into the sunset
  • Both cover photos – Sam Garrow (Marquette, MI) – Fort Mackinac facing the winter and Fort Mackinac dressed in summer colors

Please note:  These are the 2014 “Seasons of Mackinac” winners.  The 2013 “Seasons of Mackinac” Calendar will go on sale mid-May in the shops of Island retailers or may be purchased online at  Can’t wait to see all the photographs, and here’s a preview of the 2014 February calendar page by winner Sam Garrow:

Did you know you can go to and see what your favorite Island Bookstore employees are reading!  They’re all there – Cass, Jeremy, Jill, Joe, Mary Jane, Meghan, and Tamara.  Just go to the bookstore link, and scroll down till you see “Staff Favorites” on the right side.  Check it out for tons of great reading suggestions!

And, speaking of books, Cara C. Putman’s publisher just sent me a copy of Cara’s new book, “A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island”.  Can’t wait to read it.  The book is Christian fiction, and it’s set, of course, on the Island.  I plan to get my copy autographed when Cara has her book signing in July at the Island Bookstore.  The book will be on shelves in May.

I believe that’s all I have for tonight, except for a few outstanding photographs from fall on the Island by Steve Fridley.  I don’t think you’ve seen these before, but if you have, I promise you won’t mind looking through them again – they’re that good!  Thanks, Steve, for sharing!

Lamplight and moonbeams at the corner of Fort Street and Main.

The Bay View - by moonlight.

A sparkling Mackinac Bridge. Did you know - as of last night - that every light on the bridge will burn blue for the month of April? It's part of Michigan's "Light it Blue" program to bring attention to autism for World Autism Awareness Day. I'll try to have a photo next week of the bridge with its blue lights.

Mission Church - so simple, so beautiful.

Mission Point Resort - the trees were turning gold, but the flowers were still in full bloom.

I checked out the calendar a few minutes ago, and we have 5 1/2 weeks before we leave for the Island.  That seems hard to believe.  Winter (what little we had) is over, spring is here, and we’re racing toward summer at the speed of light.  Not ready to pack bags yet – a little too early – but it won’t be long before the suitcases will comes out of the closet.  I wonder what surprises the summer will bring!

Have a great week, and a blessed Easter.

Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 1 – 3/28/2012

Hello, and Happy Spring!

I hate to do this, but I’m feeling a little under the weather, and I’m pretty sure trying to write something sensible is not going to happen tonight.  I promise, good Lord willing, I’ll be back next Wednesday with spring happenings on the Island.

Until then, I do have a few photos friends have shared, and I’m posting those below.

From a friend of ours, J.J. at the Chippewa Hotel, a beautiful, misty view of the harbor from the balcony of the Chip.

Heather May took this "high above it all" view of the Straits from Pontiac Trail last week. I can't see a speck of ice in the water.

I love this perspective of Little Stone Church from Robert McGreevy.

My favorite this week - the end of our street (Cadotte). Heather May said no filter was used - the sky was truly that color as evening came to the Island. Love, love, love that corner.

Hoping you all have a wonderful week and weekend.  If you’d like to see our neighborhood in Georgia (in full bloom), you can visit us at  We’ve had a fantastic azalea and dogwood season!

See you next week.  God bless.

Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 16 – 3/21/2012

Spring is breaking out all oh-oh-ver!  Oh wait!  That lyric begins with “June”, not “Spring”!

Here in Georgia, it might as well be June.  Temps are in the high 80’s already, Azaleas and dogwoods and crabapple trees are in full-bloom.  It’s beautiful,  but all of that is supposed to happen toward the end of April – not March!

Our yard in Georgia this week (these azaleas are usually blooming Easter weekend).

Same thing on Mackinac Island – well, not azaleas, but warm temps.  Two weeks ago 14 inches of snow covered the ground.  Today on Mackinac it was 66.  Sixty-six! It wasn’t 66 last year when we arrived on the Island mid-May!

Ok – it is what it is.  I have a feeling Georgia is only going to get hotter, but hopefully, this is truly just a few crazy days on the Island, and then the weather will return to normal.  If not, I’m seeing an air conditioner in our future this summer.

I have a few news items today, a few photos, and one totally awesome video . . .

The Island is coming out of its winter lull and about to crank up and get ready for the season (I’m wondering if everyone has their snowmobiles in storage yet, or are they keeping them around a little longer to see if a spring snow surprises everyone).  For sure, bikes are already out and about (they’ve been out and about most all winter), and hotels are already planning spring specials!  Like these two . . .

What about an early June getaway to The Island House? June 1-3 you can stay for $99/night plus tax, and that includes breakfast in the 1852 Grill Room (that's 50% off the regular price). Make your reservations online and use promo word "JUNE". By the way, The Island House's opening weekend is May 4-6!

Ever thought about staying at the Grand Hotel BEFORE IT'S FULLY OPEN? You can do it April 27-May 3. Explore the hotel on a daily tour with the hotel historian, or sneak a peek on your own. Accommodations available in many of the Grand's newest rooms, including the Millennium Wing, as well as the grandest of all, the Masco Cottage. Continental breakfast included, and dining is available at The Gate House for luncheon and dinner.

Where can you find other specials?  It’s so simple!  Go to OR (for the very best last-minute deals and immediate island news) go to: and “join”!  It’s fast, it’s simple, it’s free, and each time some great special is available, you will KNOW ABOUT IT immediately!

Ferry news!  Shepler’s Ferry began it’s Island service from St. Ignace on March 15.  It’s the Sacre Bleu that’s running now, but on April 1 (maybe sooner), the fast ferry will be back in business.  Shepler Ferry service from Mackinac City will begin April 23.

The Sacre Blue's first trip to the Island, after a very short winter break. Can't wait to see all that Island "brown" begin to turn Island "green"!

Once again . . . . RESIDENT FERRY PASSES must be purchased BEFORE MARCH 31!

Here’s a few “springtime” photos from the Island . . .

Lake Huron waters at the Island marina are turning green for spring! (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

Flowers are beginning to break through the cold earth at Harbour View Inn (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau) . . .

. . . and what is this? Tulips starting skyward at Mission Point Resort. (Photo: Mission Point Resort)

A view of Lake Huron this week from the platform at Arch Rock. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

My favorite photo this week. Beautiful Round Island Passage Light in the glow of the sun. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

I’m hoping everyone reading this is already planning a trip to the Island this season.  Just in case you were wondering about the many festivals held during the summer, here’s a list:

  • Lilac Festival:  June 8-17
  • Festival of the Horse:  August 8-12
  • Mackinac Music Festival:  August 14-16
  • Mackinac Island Fudge Festival:  August 24-25
  • Restaurant Week:  September 23-29
  • Great Turtle Shopping Week:  October 1-6
  • Halloween Weekend:  October 26-28 (includes Great Turtle Half Marathon Run/Walk)

You'll see several of these beautiful Friesians (this one ridden by Maryanke Alexander) and every other breed of horse on the Island at this summer's Festival of the Horse!

Can’t think of anything else for this week . . . except that promised video.  It was compiled from many sources and features interviews with Islanders, Island residents and loads of imagery and insight into what makes the Island so special.  This is a vintage video and is about 30 minutes long (watch when you have enough time to enjoy without interruptions). Interviews include Mayor Margaret Doud, Scottish immigrant Agnes Shine, Mackinac Island Police Chief Otto Wandrie, Grand Hotel musician/clarinetist Bob Snyder, writer/professor/biographer John McCabe. Fudgemaker Harry Ryba and media guru Bill Rabe.  You will love it!

One more thing.  I’ve been giving a lot of thought this week to the coming season on the Island and how to showcase this summer.  I’ve read and reread all of your excellent suggestions from last Fall, and I think what I’m planning is going to be fresh and just different enough to be . . . different.  More on that in the weeks ahead, but gosh, it’s less than 8 weeks before we’ll be heading north again.  Can you believe it?

Have a great rest of the week, and thank you for all the Happy Anniversary wishes for Ted and I on St. Patrick’s Day.

God bless.

P.S.  I think next week we’ll start calling this the “Mackinac Island SPRING Update”!

Wanted. Forever Homes. 3/19/2012

I’m double-posting my Lake Blackshear blog tonight to the Mackinac Island bog because 1) there IS a Mackinac connection (as you’ll see as you read; and 2) this is a cause very close to my heart.  After you’ve read it, regardless of where you are in the U.S., please consider adopting or making a donation (if not to this shelter, to one near you – the need is always there), or sharing this with friends who might have room in their hearts and homes for a four-legged bundle of unconditional love. 

See you back here on Wednesday for news from the Island!  God bless.


Take one group of dedicated and determined animal lovers.  Add a city and county with a real sense of what it takes to offer animal control that is effective, but also compassionate and humane.  What do you get?

Best Friends Humane Society in Worth County.

I chanced across Best Friends on Facebook after I returned home from Michigan last fall.  A few FB friends from my hometown of Sylvester reposted some photos of handsome dogs looking for forever homes, and it was the photographs that drew me back again and again.  The photos on the site are snapped by Beckstrom Photography owners, Melody and Josh, who volunteer their time each month to ride out to Best Friends and turn lost pups into glamorous stars.  I firmly believe those photographs are one reason Best Friends’ rate of adoption is so high.

Marsha – a 2 1/2-year-old female terrier mix.
Blue – a 6-month-old Aussie/Border Collie mix with amazing eyes!
Rambo – a handsome 2-year-old male Labrador Retriever.
Little Piper – a 3-month-old yellow Lab mix.
Eli – an awesome male Heeler mix.

Another reason is Best Friends’ President and Shelter Director, Shelly McPhaul, and her amazing staff – mostly unpaid volunteers (including Shelly).  Shelly and her family moved to Sylvester, where her husband’s family has lived for generations. five years ago.  They moved there from California and settled into the quiet life of small-town America.  A year ago, Worth County (Sylvester is the county seat) decided to use some left-over SPLOST money to construct a new animal shelter, and Shelly (an avid animal lover) volunteered to be the director for six months.  A year has passed, and Shelly is still there.

Shelly McPhaul, President and Shelter Director of Best Friends Humane Society. Her passion and love for animals is evident in every word she speaks, and her commitment to assuring as many of her charges as possible find good homes is her driving force.

Two or three weeks ago, I shared on Facebook a group of dogs available for adoption at Best Friends.  Not many days later I received an email from a friend we met the first summer after we bought our condo on Mackinac Island.  Jeanine Kramer was a taxi driver on the Island and one of the first people I did a “Day in the Life Of” story on for the Mackinac blog.  She has since moved to Savannah and drives for a carriage tour business there.  Jeanine had fallen in love with Jordan, a female black and white border collie mix.  She planned to drive from Savannah to Sylvester on Friday (over four hours), bring her other dog (Lucy) with her – to make sure there were no jealousy issues – and hopefully return to Savannah with a new lifetime friend.

Jeanine in her taxi on Mackinac Island.

I immediately contacted Shelly to ask if I might do a story about the adoption, and she said “yes”!  Lake friend Samille rode down with me Friday, and we arrived shortly before noon, just minutes ahead of Jeanine.

The first meeting went well. Neither Lucy (black and tan) nor Jordan showed any aggression – just checked each other out . . .
. . . and soon Jordan was leaning on Jeanine and using those beautiful blue eyes to say, “Of course you’re going to take me home . . . right?”

The shelter accepts all dogs (they accept cats also, but adoptable cats are soon transferred to the Adoption Center of the Companion Animal Hospital in Albany, where veterinarian Dr. Carie Wisell has an outstanding record of adopting them out.  Dogs can come in as strays picked up by animal control or found by citizens, owner turn-ins, or as troubled dogs who have bitten someone.  Best Friends does an outstanding job of finding homes for adoptable dogs, but unfortunately not all dogs are adoptable.Those who are remain as long as possible – even if that turns into months.  Puppies, of course, are what most people want, and most puppies go quickly.  Adoptable adult dogs are harder to place, but because Best Friends advertises on (as well as local newspapers and television), the entire world has access to the shelter on the Internet.  Dogs have been placed as far away as New Jersey, and many have been placed in Florida, North and South Carolina, and, of course, all over Georgia.  One dog was leaving Monday for his new home in Washington, D.C.

An article in The Sylvester Local about the New Jersey adoption.

We took a tour of the shelter, and the first thing Samille and I noticed when we entered the kennel area was how clean everything smelled.  The kennels were spotless (unless someone had just had an accident – in which case it is almost instantly cleaned up).  There are 48 kennels, but in the case of puppies or very small dogs, each kennel can hold more than one.  Each larger dog has a kennel to himself.  Twenty-four kennels are reserved for new arrivals or sick animals.  Each new arrival is quarantined until the health of the animal is determined, and they are released to the “adoptable” side of the kennel only after any health issue is addressed.

The facility is bright and clean everywhere – from this area where some lab work is done . . .
. . . to the bathing area . . .
. . . . to the kennels. . .
. . . where perfectly wonderful dogs, like Callie – a Beagle – reside in spotless accommodations.

In the year Best Friends has been open, 987 dogs have entered the shelter, and 520 of those dogs were placed in forever homes.  Through the generosity of veterinarians like Dr. Wisell and Dr. Allan Gardner of Sylvester Animal Hospital, medical costs are kept to a minimum, but funds are always needed for other essential items.

We sat down and talked about the many joys of finding homes for the dogs Best Friends accepts.  We also talked about the pain of the decision to humanely euthanize any animal.  As in most shelters, there is only so much money available, and dogs cannot be kept indefinitely.  The majority of dogs who are euthanized are very ill, injured, aggressive, have unacceptable temperaments, or are suffering from stress brought on from being confined in a space for too long.  Since opening, the staff has learned that kennel stress can cause aggression, withdrawal, hair loss, chewing on their feet, rubbing on fencing or a host of other things, even ulcers.  There is no magic “timeline” for this, and each animal adjusts differently.  One may be fine for months, while another may begin to show signs of stress after only a few weeks. Very few dogs are put down due to lack of space because foster families step up to help out.  Fosters take dogs into their homes – one at a time, maybe two.  Fosters socialize puppies who have never been around people and help animals with curable illnesses get healthy so they can be placed.  The animals stay with a foster family as long as the family will keep them – or until a forever home is found.  There is no time limit for dogs placed in foster care – AND no chance of kennel stress. 

Shelly shared with us that she used to go with the animals to the veterinarian’s office and stay with them until they were euthanized by injection.  She felt a need to follow through with them from the moment they entered the shelter until, if a home could not be found, they go to the Rainbow Bridge with someone they know with them.  Other staff members have taken on that responsibility now (although Shelly still occasionally goes), and it is Shelly who must make the final decision to euthanize.  It breaks her heart to do that, but in today’s world the only other decision – a cruel one indeed –  would be to turn them loose to starve, to freeze, to be hit by cars, or worse.  

How can you help?  Adopt an animal from Best Friends ( or from any animal shelter near where you live.  Yes, I now have purebred dogs, but in the past there have been rescued dogs in the Horton house, and I can tell you right now that the next dog I own will be a shelter dog. If you can’t adopt, donate.  A monetary donation would be so welcome. Money pays for medical bills, supplies, and DOG FOOD!  Checks can be mailed to Best Friends Humane Society, P.O. Box 5894, Sylvester GA 31791.  The shelter accepts ANYTHING.  Before you throw out those old ratty towels you’ve had for years, send them to the shelter – they will be used a few more years drying bathed dogs.  Old bathroom mats are also useful, as are bottles of bleach, paper towels, and dog toys.  In other words, anything you would use in your daily life with YOUR dog, the shelter can use.  Box it up and send to the shelter facility at 787 Ephesus Church Road, Poulan GA 31781.  Volunteer workers are always welcome at Best Friends – to socialize puppies, walk dogs, play with dogs, bathe dogs, clean cages . . . whatever you want to do, there’s a place for you.  Just call the shelter at 229-777-7774.

By now you must be wondering, “What about Jeanine and Jordan?”  I’m so happy to report that Jordan is now calling Savannah home.  When I spoke with Jeanine Friday night, she said that Jordan rode beautifully in the car and was introduced to her cats without any problem at all.  As she talked with me, both Jordan and Lucy were curled up on the couch, taking a nap.

A brand new family member – little blue-eyed Jordan.
Here’s “Pippa” on Saturday (Jeanine renamed Jordan “Pippa”, which means “lover of horses”. She’s all decked out and enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Savannah. Jeanine said she was so well behaved no one could believe she had only been adopted the day before.

Of course, I fell in love with a few dogs myself on Friday.  One in particular was Winston, who staff found when they arrived at the shelter one morning last week.  His owner had tossed him over the fence and left him.  Shelly said he “is just lost.”  He is so well-behaved that he has free run of the shelter and constantly goes to the glass front door, looking out as if to say, “When are you coming back for me?”  His story broke my heart. 

Winston is a 3 to 5-year-old neutered male and is probably a Lab/terrier mix. He is very laid back, and if Ted hadn’t specifically said “don’t come back with another dog” when I left the house on Friday, this wonderful gentleman would be snugged up with Maddie and Bear right now.

Visiting this wonderful shelter made me want to find a way to volunteer there on a regular basis.  I’m going to try and do that.  But one thing I know I can do is pack a box of goodies and write a check.  I hope you will do the same . . or even better – give one of their residents a forever home.  You’ll be so glad you did. 

I promise.

Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 15

Hello Mackinac Fans!

Can you believe all that snow from last week is almost gone?  It’s true – warmer temperatures and rain took care of most of it, but I received so many more snow photos after last week’s post, I’ve just got to pass them along to you tonight.  I don’t think I would ever tire of seeing Mackinac Island dressed for winter, and I’m guessing you wouldn’t either.

Before we get to snow pics, here’s a few news items:

  • Wawashkamo Golf Course has a brand new and exciting web site.  Designed and constructed by Nate Jorgensen of Curiosity Creative, you can check it out here:
  • Becki Barnwell is opening a new gallery in the space that housed “Paintings by Richard Wolfgang” on Market Street.  It will be called “Mackinac’s Little Gallery” and will feature equine art.  The gallery will be open mid-May through October.  Can’t wait to check it out!

A sample of the equine art that will be featured at Mackinac's Little Gallery.

  • A very important reminder:  Those qualifying for Resident Passes on ferry tickets must purchase the passes prior to March 31Summer residents are urged to make arrangements to purchase those tickets before that date, even if your arrival time to the island will be later.
  • Shepler Ferry representatives will be selling Resident Passes at Cawthone’s Village Inn on March 16 and March 30 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Photos for the passes will be made at that time, and payment is due upon ordering.  If you are not going to be on the island before the deadline, of if you can’t make it to the V.I. on the dates listed, Shepler’s is asking that you call their office at 1-800-828-6157 to purchase your pass by phone.  In order to purchase a Resident Pass, you must meet the qualifications below:  1)  Be a registered voter on Mackinac Island; OR 2) Pay property taxes to Mackinac Island for a residence or a business; OR 3)  Have a Mackinac Island address on your driver’s license.  Cost for Shepler’s Resident Pass is $100 per adult, FREE for children 12 and under.  Passes will be valid from April 23 – October 31, 2012.
  • Our favorite bike shop, Mackinac Wheels, is open for business already!

Mackinac Wheels' web site is This photo is from this past summer.

  • Jeannette Doud reported in her Mackinac Island column in The St. Ignace News that she took a tour of the new barn being built by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours and Grand Hotel.  She said it was beautiful, with dark green siding and red windows.   Jeannette stated “it will be a wonderful place for the horses and a carriage museum.  It is a great addition to the community.”
  • The Mackinac Island Horseman’s Association was well represented this past weekend in Lansing at the Michigan Horse Council’s International Stallion Expo and Trade Show:

Island friend Jill worked the Mackinac Horsemen's Association booth, along with many other island friends. She snapped this shot of Steve Rilenge- in red coat - and Leanne Brodeur - in riding habit (both are MHA Board members, and Leanne is MHA Executive Director), who worked the booth also. On either side of Steve are Jamie & Tina, blog fans who stopped by to say hello. On the far right is Alison Cram, one of the Horse Show judges.


Abby Holstrom, who is a year-round Island resident, shared these photos, and they are amazing!

A grand old tree, laden with snow, leans out over the street that runs parallel to the Boardwalk.

Some special effects here add to the dazzle of ice, water, and the Round Island Lighthouse.

If this shot doesn't make you shiver, you must be sitting by a fire somewhere! Gorgeous!

Sunrise at Windermere Point, with the "closed for the winter" Dog House Restaurant in the foreground.

Windermere Hotel.

Sonnet Quinn a.k.a. Mackinac Mommy posted these beautiful photos of several Mission Point Resort locations:

The Lakeside Market.

The Little Golfer statue across from Bistro on the Green.

Mission Point Resort's main entrance.

This skier didn't have to worry about running over anyone as he came down the hill at the entrance to Mission Point. Those are the Violet Residence of Mackinac Island condos behind the skier.

Tranquility Point at the east end of Mission Point Resort.

The tree-lined road in front of the resort. In several of these photos, the orange snow fencing is seen.

The sheer cliff of Robinson's Folly (at the top right) is the only space not covered in snow in this pic - except for the child in the foreground.


Robert McGreevy captured another coyote on the run over the ice.

A Shepler's representative got this shot of the line of "student and teacher transportation" at the Island school. No yellow school buses here!

After looking at all this cold and snow, we start to think that Spring can’t be very far behind.  Here’s a couple of shots that may start you thinking happy springtime thoughts . . .

This is a photo from a couple of summers ago. It shows Finnigan, Mike & Jeanine Forrester's dog, looking out over Fort Street from near Anne's Tablet.

A peaceful photograph taken off the beach near the Cannonball Restaurant. (Photo by: Hailey Armstrong)

One more item.  Today Ted and I rode down to my hometown of Sylvester and talked to the Barnard Trail Chapter of DAR about the history and magic of Mackinac Island (Ted covered the history, and I covered the magic).  We had a great time sharing information about our second home, and I think the entire crowd is planning a bus trip north in the near future – just kidding, but I wish they would!

The best part of being invited to speak was getting to see so many folks I had not seen in years - including Dr. Gordon Davis, who had brought his wife Marian to the meeting (we're cousins). I also saw several ladies who I went to high school with, including . . .

. . . Mary King Gammage Givens, who reads the Mackinac blog and invited us to come present the program.

Ted and I on the steps of the Chapter house. So good to be in my hometown - thanks for inviting us!

Whew!  That was a long post!  Hope you enjoyed it and come back next Wednesday for more on Mackinac Island.  Have a great week and weekend (Ted and I will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day). 

God bless.