Jean Marshall, Stacy Cook, Pat Mioton and Rosanell Phillips with Ayla
Jean Marshall, Stacy Cook, Pat Mioton and Rosanell Phillips with Ayla
For many work is just work, but for Stacy Cook her role as an animal assisted therapy coordinator has "grown its own feet" on the road to success.

Cook, who works for Neshoba County General Hospital and Nursing Home, was recently named Club Woman of the Year for the State of Mississippi for her work helping others.

Along with Ayla, a fully trained service dog, and Maggie Mae, a therapy dog, Cook has set up numerous programs to help those with special needs.

Outside her work at Neshoba General, she also hosts a swimming program in the summer for special needs children and reads to children at the local library accompanied by Ayla.

"There is now a waiting list [for the swimming program], it's so popular," she said, recalling how she had enrolled her first blind student recently.

"Ayla would lead him around the pool," she said.

However, the hospital is still where Cook shines brightest.

As the animal assisted therapy coordinator, Cook has instituted several programs involving the dogs, including painting, walking and gardening.

With painting, said Cook, Ayla holds the brush in her mouth while nursing home residents and workers move the canvas around creating an image.

This method has led to the creation of several paintings which have received much recognition.

Cook noted that Ayla walking into a room and curls up at residents' feet.

"She's [Ayla] trained to work with those who are hurting," she said. "It's something different that others don't have."

However this role sometimes takes a toll on Ayla.

"She takes in all that stress," Cook said somberly. "You notice whenever she relaxes she always lays on her side. That's how she relaxes. We only let her work with 18 people a week because of it."

Cook added that she'll be hosting an event next Friday to raise money to build a fence for Ayla and Maggie Mae to run around outside.

A bake sale is set for 9:30 a.m. at the Neshoba Animal Clinic, who is sponsoring the event along with the Philadelphia Women's Club.

Part of Cook's program at the hospital also involves gardening, which she has added an extra incentive.

"We'll cook using what the residents grow," she said, noting several recipes including one that involves marigolds and a squash pie!

Cook has shared several recipes which were provided to her by residents of the Neshoba County Nursing Home.

Campfire Meal in a Pot

3 1/2 pounds browned hamburger meat

1 large can Bush's Baked Beans

1 large can Rotel tomatoes with chilies and chives

1 medium or 2 small cans tomato paste with water replace in cans

1 large can regular V-8


1 teaspoon pepper ground black

1 teaspoon salt (Morton)

1 teaspoon of garlic and onion powder

Chopped: green top onions, purple onions, yellow onions, red (peppers), banana peppers, bell peppers, 1/4 garlic clove, 3 tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer until well blended.

Greer's Pound Cake

3 cups sugar

3 cups of plain flour

6 eggs

8 ounce whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon

2 1/2 sticks of butter

Set eggs and butter out overnight.

Next day: mix butter and sugar until blended. Add flour and then one egg alternately until all eggs, flour and sugar are blended.

Add whipping cream, vanilla and lemon. Bake in cold oven ( do not preheat) at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Smothered Squash

8-10 squash, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

4 tablespoon bacon grease, shortening or butter

Place sliced squash in pan and cover with water. Boil until tender then add other ingredients and cook on medium until water gone. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, mash and serve.

Fried Eggplant

2 average eggplants, sliced thin

1 1/2 quarts of water

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup corn meal

salt and pepper to taste

Crisco oil

Place eggplant in water and vinegar and let soak 30 minutes. Mix flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in brown paper bag and add egg plant and shake to coat as needed. Deep fry in cast iron skillet until brown and crisp. Remove and place on paper towels a layer at a time. Eat and enjoy.

Squash Pie

3-4 squash, boiled and tender

2 eggs

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Boil squash until tender and drain. Mix squash and butter and mix well with mixer. Add sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.

Pour into pie shell and bake on 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes.

Marinated Tomato and Cucumber Salad

5-6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut up

1 purple onion, sliced thin

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and marinate overnight. Serve cold.