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A Stroll through the Best Parts of Springfield

Walking has always been a ritual in our house. A day without one throws the whole household out of whack. Most days, we walk twice. In the mornings, we go four miles on the Springfield greenway, and it’s all about exercise. But during the afternoons, we stroll. And that stroll is all about the best parts of my small southern community.

History

Springfield was settled in 1796, and some of the buildings in the historic district date back to the early 1800’s. During the afternoons, we meander past antebellum mansions, like the Cheatham or Beecher House. These 200-year-old homes stand three floors high with fluted pillars and sweeping porches. They look like Scarlett O’Hara could step outside with a glass of sweet tea at any second.

We pass a red brick church built in 1838. It was used as a stable during the Civil War, and it’s rumored that hoof prints indent the wood floor. Around the block, we circle a late nineteenth-century mansion named Maybelle. It still has a cast-iron hitching post topped with a carved horsehead outside the front door. Concrete steps sit next to it, so the ladies and gentleman could easily step into their carriages. In the summer, when the chirping cicadas make the humidity pulse and the scent of wild honeysuckle fills the air, it feels like we traveled back in time.

We stroll past the courthouse with its clock tower, an old blacksmith’s shop, and our bank, where we’ve been known to walk through the drive-thru with our dogs. I don’t even have to give a command and our dogs sit on the blacktop, all four lined in a row. They know if they wait outside the teller’s window long enough, then a treat will pop out. And Miss Jean and Miss Susan always give treats to our dogs.

Southern Hospitality

Another trademark of our afternoon walks is that southern hospitality. Folks wave or call out greetings when we pass the accountant’s office, the printer’s shop, and the guitar store. We often chat with Mary, owner of Our Serenity Shop, about CBD oil, and Michael, a retired factory worker, about the weekly weather report. If we see Junior, who runs a mowing business, he reliably provides an update on any construction. When we run into Scott, an IT technician, we talk about local politics because he’s probably the only other democrat in town.

And the neighborhood dogs are just as friendly as the people. Over the years we’ve become buds with Bo, a heeler mix, Knox, a hound dog, and Thunder, a graying black lab. We know Duchess, a teacup Maltese who can’t weigh as much as my phone and Coco and Puff, two poodles with matching haircuts. They bounce like jumping beans inside their glass door when they see us. Gus and June, collie mixes, live inside an invisible fence and howl until we pet their heads.

And of course, there’s King Frank, our favorite. Frank spends most days hanging out on his porch, which is enclosed with a four-foot wall. Frank, a giant slobbery mutt, could easily leap over it, but he never does. When he sees us, he wags his tail so hard it hits the wall and makes a drumming sound that builds as we get closer.

For a girl who was born and raised in the Northeast, I’ll admit that I had some growing pains when I first moved to the rural South. But there are two things about my southern home I’ve come to love, its history and hospitality. And our afternoon walks we get the best of both.

 

Overcoming An Adoption Slump

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Adoptions have been extraordinarily slow for the past couple months. It’s not only Rosie that’s been at the Farnival too long, but Dawn has been here close to six months now. I’ve been told that every rescue agency goes through a slump. But it’s hard to be patient.

Normally, ICHBA posts ads on Craig’s List and Petfinders, and within a few weeks, months maybe, the dogs find homes. Up until December, it’s been a very successful way to rehome animals. Obviously, the game has changed. The good news is that ICHBA has decided to meet the current challenge head on by stepping up our marketing game. The agency has launched a Facebook page and is designing a website, which I’ll announce as soon as it’s finished.

Last week Donna and I took the dogs to the 2015 Springfield Art Walk, where we passed out cards and mingled with Chief of Police David Thompson. We’ve applied for a membership with PetSmart Charities, which means (if we get accepted) we’ll be able to set up camp with our pups at their store any day of the week. And lastly, on June 13th ICHBA will have a booth at Springfield’s Taste of Country, where people can meet the adoptable dogs or get a high-five from Meadow for a buck.

I’m totally excited about all the changes happening for ICHBA in 2015. I’ll keep you posted.

Mama Bear Versus James Hubbard

Walking Posse

About ten years ago, I met a local politician on the Springfield Greenway. His name is James Hubbard, a big, jovial man that over the years has seen me walk anywhere from one to five dogs. When I’m with three or more people, he’s seen us walking a total of ten dogs at one time, all well-mannered, controlled, leashed dogs, thirty percent of which are Robertson County homeless animals. Every time Hubbard greets Mason and I, he makes a big deal about our pack, pointing us out to passing strangers and friends, telling them and us what a great job we are doing for animals in our community.

Last weekend, Donna, ICHBA’s head honcho, called me. She pays attention to local politics. She said Hubbard spoke at a town council meeting in Springfield. He wants to limit the number of dogs one person can walk to two per household, meaning we’d essentially be unwelcome on the Springfield Greenway.

On Tuesday, I saw Hubbard for the first time since hearing he wanted my pack banned from the park. He started greeting Mason and I (and seven dogs) in his normal loud showboating way, only now I know he’s not jovial. Now, I know he’s nothing but a hypocrite.

As I age, my Italian temper rarely flares, but when someone screws with my dog’s health and happiness, I turn into a bear protecting her cubs. I gave it to Hubbard for five straight minutes, telling him to stop pretending to be my friend at the same time he wanted us off the greenway. He explained that our dogs were well behaved, but that there were a few other bad apples. I told him he should worry about the city enforcing the already existing leash laws before he tries instituting new ones.

I’m writing about this for two reasons. One, James Hubbard might be running for mayor of Springfield one day, and I want people to know how little he can be trusted. And lastly, if his proposal gets any steam, I’ll be fighting against it. Like an Italian mama bear.