"When pigs fly" has become a popular expression about the seemingly impossible. If pigs could talk, Earl could help me tell the story about mine and his and Poppy's visit to the Neshoba County Nursing Home to visit their friends, Ayla and Maggie. Let me introduce you to my new friends. Poppy is an adorable pekinese puppy who was left unclaimed at Neshoba County Animal Clinic, and has become a member of the family with Dr. Tom Tischer's staff. Christmas came and Dr. Tischer pondered, "What could he give them that everyone would enjoy?" He decided on a little black pig and his name is Earl. The two "best friends" have full rein at the clinic.

Perhaps you have heard of Ayla. Ayla, a beautiful golden retriever, is a fully trained service dog who works in partnership with her facilitator and handler, Stacy Cook, at the Neshoba County Nursing Home, as a Canine Companion for Independence. CCI is the oldest and largest non-profit organization that produces dogs, like Ayla, to enhance the lives of children, adults and veterans with physical disabilities. At our local nursing home, Ayla, along with her friend, Maggie Mae, a therapy dog, and Stacy work with patients and residents to help them regain their health, function and independence. "They work like social magnets to encourage patients and residents to come out of their rooms and enter into the activities provided them," Stacy told me.

Dr. Tischer became so impressed with the work Ayla, Maggie Mae and Stacy were doing, that he offered free medical and grooming needs to Ayla and Maggie Mae as a community outreach service. On such visits to the clinic, Ayla and Maggie Mae and Poppy and Earl became friends. Now every other Friday afternoon, Amy Eldridge and Lorin Dunn take Poppy and Earl to the nursing home to visit Ayla and Maggie Mae and the residents at the nursing home. "I love going there," Lorin told me, "and seeing all the smiles!"

On this particular Friday afternoon, Poppy and Earl were accompanied by Matt Messer's golden retriever named Zoey, Janet and Frank Moore's sheltie named Birdie, and Scott McLain's chihuahua named Lola, who was all dressed up with a pink scarf around her neck to match her pink toenails.

The residents at the nursing home are so appreciative to Dr. Tischer and his staff, "For treating Ayla and Maggie like family, and for making Ayla and Maggie's friends' visit at the nursing home such a fun event for all of us."

Stacy is a member of the Philadelphia Woman's Club, an affiliate of the Mississippi Federated Woman's Club, and was recently named "Clubwoman of the Year" by the local club. Ayla is an honorary member. At the upcoming State of Mississippi's GFWC, Ayla and her school, CCI Southeast, were chosen to help the Wounded Veterans Initiative Program by selling a T-shirt that was designed by Neshoba County Nursing Home residents - and Ayla. The shirts are on sale for $12 each with all proceeds going to the Canine Companions for Independence Wounded Veterans Initiative Program. Call Stacy Cook at 601-575-0249 to place your order.

Ayla and her friends are also preparing a cookbook. The book will include recipes, as well as old-time antidotes about gardening.

Such as, plant eggplants in your watermelon patch and they will eat the toes off anyone who attempts to steal your watermelons! Marigolds will keep bugs off your plants. Willie Gail Harrison presented me with a canvass depicting the cover of the cookbook, a garden tree, drawn by the nursing home residents - and Ayla.

As a further project, Ayla and her friends have planted a garden in the glassed-in area outside nursing station 2. Family members of the residents are contributing plants for the "pass-along garden".

I found friends of "Friends" at the nursing home. Gail Dertingher, President of the Residents Council at the nursing home, told me, "I love to read "Friends" and keep up with what ya'll are doing." We thank Ayla for providing us this glimpse into what she and her friends are doing.


B. and Gertrude Chaney married at the very young ages of fourteen and eighteen. They had five children, namely, Buford Chaney, Millard Chaney, Jane Chaney Hodgins, Orba Dean Chaney Vines, and Debbie Chaney Posey. At a very early age, they taught their children that family was one of the most important things in life. In 1982, they began a family tradition of getting together one weekend of every year.


This is an account of the weekend as told by Ricky Hodgins, son of Jane and Norford Hodgins, as edited by my fellow columnist and friend, Dan Whittle of The Murfreesboro (Tennessee) Post. "When the great Hank Williams, Jr. coined the phrase, "It's A Family Tradition," he must've had the annual Chaney Family Reunion in mind. The gathering of the L. B. and Gertrude clan has roots back to 1982. This year's event, April 5-7, was a rousing success. This was our 31st consecutive year at one of Mississippi's hidden treasures, Roosevelt State Park in Morton, with more than sixty family members in attendance.

"Our reunion is filled with family traditions. Friday is a time for reuniting with family. With a family full of good cooks, Saturday's lunch would make Paula Dean and Justin Wilson green with envy. The afternoon softball game is full of fun and frivolity, with neither side admitting defeat. Saturday night's "picking and grinning" fills the night air with song and laughter

"As our reunion comes to an end, we wish each other well, send our love with each one, and look forward to next year's "Family Tradition."


How do you say "Happy Birthday" in Mexican? For Bobbie Holley, "Happy Birthday" was said at the Old Mexico Mexican Restaurant on April 10 by the gathering of friends in a surprise arrangement by her daughter, Patti Rickles. Sarah McKay, Joyce Hunter, Frankie Harpole, Debbie Lee, Bobbie, Patti and I enjoyed a taco salad together, and shared the laughter when the management crowned Bobbie with the restaurant's traditional birthday sombrero, putting a dollop of whipped cream from her complimentary dessert on her nose!


Friends of Annie Chestnut will be saddened to learn of the death of her younger brother, Robert Callaway. Annie and other members of the family attended the service for Robert at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan on Friday, April 5, 2013. Robert was a retired employee of General Motors in Detroit.


"Heaven is both present and future," wrote Sarah Young, author of "Jesus Calling." Jo Fulton, Brenda Matthews and I were in touch with the essence of heaven last week as we enjoyed the majesty and glory of God's creation in Gulf Shores.

In the name of Jesus, hearts were filled with the presence of God at First Baptist Church Tuesday evening as the Singing Churchmen sang the songs of Jesus. What a blessing! What a God!