Favorite #195: Altrusa International Club of Caldwell County

Community Based ProjectsHaving a great day reading my books at Lower Creek Elementary School.

Altrusa is an international organization known for community based projects that focus on specific needs. Gwen Gibson is a member of the Altrusa International Club of Caldwell County. This club devotes a lot of attention to literacy in the schools through volunteer hours such as Operation Read. This past May, Gwen heard my keynote speech about literacy at the district Altrusa meeting in Winston Salem. She liked my message and thought students at Lower Creek Elementary School would enjoy my books and meeting an author, so she contacted Leigh Anne Frye, the principal of Lower Creek, with the idea. Leigh Anne then invited me to share my books and life as an author with kindergarten through second grades.

The one-hour drive to Lower Creek from my home earlier this month was an enjoyable one. The color of the leaves presented a beautiful sight against the rolling hills of 64-west to Lenoir. Margaret Cannon, President of the Caldwell County Altrusa, and Gwen greeted me at the door. Once inside they directed me to the media center where I was introduced to Leigh Anne. She helped me set up and shared that the children were excited about my visit.

The kindergarten classes along with preschoolers from Lower Creek Baptist Church were the first group to hear my presentation. They were well behaved and attentive. During our time together, I read two of my books and shared how I sometimes get ideas from real life. For example, one of the main characters (Louie) is a dog because I have a dog. The idea for Tired of My Bath came about from experiencing my own children and grandchildren not wanting to take a bath, but once in the tub, loving it.

The first and second graders were inquisitive and asked questions such as how long does it take to write a children’s book. They also were interested in where I get my ideas. Although I explained I often get ideas from real life, I shared the importance of reading and how reading can transport a person to another place or time, perhaps sparking a thought or idea for a later essay or story.

I enjoyed my day at Lower Creek Elementary School, and was impressed not only with the hospitality of students, staff, teachers and administration, but also that school board members took time out of their busy schedules to come by for the event. Those in attendance were Darrell Pennell, Duane Knight and Ann Edwards.

After my visit, Leigh Anne sent Gwen an email sharing her thoughts about the day. She said, “The kids really enjoyed having Mrs. McCullough. Her story lines were creative and interactive, and she engaged the adults during her presentation. I truly enjoyed listening to her character development as she involved her audience in the timeline and predictions of the characters. We look forward to hearing about her next book(s) and hope to have her back at Lower Creek as a visiting NC author. Thank you to the Altrusa club for their continued commitment to education in Caldwell County.”

Thank you Gwen Gibson and Leigh Ann Frye for all you do for children and for the invitation to share my story and books. I look forward to another visit at Lower Creek Elementary School sometime in the future. It’s great to see schools and communities working together for the benefit of children.

What organizations support schools and literacy in your area? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com








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Favorite #194: Kannapolis Village Park

Can't wait to have fun at the park.

Can’t wait to explore.

Riding the train at the Kannapolis splash pad park.

Riding the train at the Kannapolis Village Park.

              A Day of Fun

Several months ago my daughter, Kelly, shared about the fun she had with my two granddaughters (her daughters) at the Kannapolis Village Park. She said the park has playgrounds, a train, a splash pad and a double-decker-merry-go-round. She asked if I’d like to go. Thinking my grandsons would enjoy the park, I began making plans to include them as well.

One of the first things I noticed after we arrived was an outdoor concert hall. As we walked by, I could imagine people sitting on their lawn chairs talking to friends and family and listening to music. The first thing the children noticed was the train. Of course we had to ride. Afterwards, we checked out the double-decker Carousel just across the path from the train. The grandkids each chose a horse. I played it safe and chose a bench. As we waited in line, we learned the double-decker-merry-go-round is the only one of its kind in North Carolina. Once the ride was over, the grandkids were ready for water fun at the splash pad. I had great fun watching them scream with delight when they were splashed. Our fun day ended on the playground, followed by a snack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Although the landscape of parks has changed through the years, the vision is the same. It’s a place where friends and family can go for a day of fun and fellowship with little or no cost. I’m grateful for communities all across America that had the vision to invest in local parks for our enjoyment. If interested in learning more about the Kannapolis Village Park, check out the Kannapolis City website.

What parks have you enjoyed with your kids or grandkids? Why? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #193: Life Village

Eddie and Crystal proudly showing off their Life Village shirts.

Eddie and Crystal proudly wear their Life Village shirts.

A Ministry of Love

 Eddie and Crystal Dehart have a longing not only to save babies from abortion, but to help mothers find love and support in a Christian environment. Eddie and Crystal’s ministry have taken them from North Carolina to Kansas and around the world through their website, 911babies.

As a young girl, Crystal knew she wanted to be a mom, but due to fertility issues and surgeries by the time she was twenty-five, thought that dream was lost. It was during prayer one day that God revealed to her even though she wouldn’t give birth to a child, she would be a mother. That revelation came true in several ways, starting with the adoption of a son and later when Eddie and Crystal became foster parents. On 9/11, Eddie was inspired to start 911 babies, a ministry to save the unborn from abortion. He doesn’t know how many babies have been saved, but knows of thirty-six for sure.

When an expectant mother makes the initial contact to the 911babies website, Crystal and Eddie find a church or support group in the mother’s community to help. Even though churches and support groups all over the country are on board, there’s always a need for more. If interested in learning how you can help in your community, info can be found at www.911babies.com.

This past January God gave Crystal the vision for the next phase of ministry, Life Village. Crystal explains, Life Village will be a place not only to encourage women, but to take them by the hand and offer shelter for today. Hope for tomorrow. The goal is to give pregnant, homeless women a temporary place to live where they can be nurtured and learn life skills in a Christian environment. The initial plan is to build 12 cottages in Salisbury, NC, open to women 18 years of age or older, regardless of race, religious beliefs, or financial status.

Life Village will also provide a Christ centered, safe, comfortable cottage where women can gain spiritual, physical and emotional strength to parent, as they work toward self-sufficiency or an adoption plan. The long term goal is to have a farm on site where women can learn life skills such as gardening and taking care of small animals. Crystal sees this as only the beginning, with the hope to build in other areas in the future. To read more about Eddie and Crystal’s story, check out the Salisbury Post.

Life Village is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501©3.  If interested in helping with Life Village or 911babies through donations or volunteer efforts,contact Crystal at 980-330-2961, Eddie at 980-330-2960, or email Eddie @911Babies.com.

Jesus said,  Suffer the little children to come unto me …  for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Luke 18:16, (KJV) What a gift it is to serve him through protecting the unborn and their mothers. Thanks, Crystal and Eddie for being faithful to your call and your purpose.

Leave comments below, on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.








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Favorite #192: Rainbows After the Storm

A rainbow over Franklin Baptist Church, after a brief shower. A reminder of God's promise.

A rainbow frames Franklin Baptist Church during a recent thunderstorm. A rainbow is a reminder of God’s promise.

A Promise in the Sky

Earlier this summer at Franklin Baptist Church in Salisbury, NC, members of the congregation listened not only to Pastor Joe’s sermon, but also to sounds of rain on the metal roof. Thunder could be heard in the distance. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and at the conclusion of the service everyone walked out pleasantly surprised to see the sun and a beautiful rainbow that seemed to perfectly frame the church. Michelle Hatfield must have thought so, too, because she took a picture. Thanks, Michelle.

Rainbows often seem to come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. The atmosphere has to be just right for the light to divide into colors, turning into a rainbow. As a kindergarten teacher, I often taught my students to remember the colors by using the acronym, ROYGBIV. One of their favorite activities was to make a rainbow out of paper plates. We often hung them from the ceiling.

I first learned about rainbows as a little girl when my Sunday School teacher shared the story of Noah and the ark.  I learned God warned Noah he was going to send a flood and gave him directions for building a boat. Genesis doesn’t specifically say how long it took Noah to build the ark, but it seems the answer lies somewhere between 100 and 120 years. Even though he was laughed at, Noah believed God and kept on working. Finally, the day came to close the door. God didn’t want any one to perish, but because hearts were hardened no one listened to God’s warning except Noah’s family. When the rains came, it was too late. Those outside perished.

Once the floods receded God promised he would never send a flood again to destroy the world. The rainbow is a sign or covenant of that promise.  And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth. … I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:11-15, KJV) Some scientists believe there had never been a rainbow before the flood because the earth had been covered with a canopy. In their opinion, the flood changed everything.

Last year several friends from church toured the replica of Noah’s Ark that’s on display in Williamstown, Kentucky. Their first impression was that it was big. The replica was built using the same dimensions as those in the Bible. My friends said every detail was thought of, even down to how the animals would be fed.

If we look around we see design and order in all of God’s creation because after all he is the ultimate mathematician. While the rainbow signifies a promise, the colors also have purpose. The color red signifies the blood Jesus shed for our sins while the color purple stands for his royalty. If you’re interested in learning more about the Biblical significance of the rainbow or its colors, Gotquestions.org. is a good resource.

What does a rainbow in the sky mean to you? Does it remind you of God’s promise? When was the last time you saw one? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #191: Williamsburg

Enjoying a moment with Liberty at Williamsburg.

Enjoying a moment with Adam and Liberty at Williamsburg.

Learning About History

 My daughters were ten and fifteen the first time we went to Williamsburg, Virginia. That was seventeen years ago. It was on that trip that my youngest daughter, Kelly, developed a love of history.  She always wanted to go back and a few weeks ago that wish came true. This time she had her two daughters, my granddaughters.

Our first stop at Colonial Williamsburg was the visitor center. After looking at our options for the day we decided with two small children it was best for us to take a self-guided tour. This gave us the freedom to tour at our own pace and stop and rest when tired or eat when hungry.

One of my favorite parts of the day was talking to the actors dressed in period costumes. They each had different jobs and roles to play, which gave us a glimpse into what life and customs were like during the Revolutionary War.  Although life was hard, they still made time for fun and games. Some of the toys and games the children played with were marbles, whirligigs, and cornhusk dolls. They also played games we play today such as tag and hopscotch.

While touring the grounds, my granddaughter, Clara, became especially excited when she saw the animals, including horses and sheep.  When we first saw the sheep they were grazing in a pasture beside the road.  The shepherdess herding them said we shouldn’t pet them unless they walked up to us. One sheep in particular must have felt really comfortable because he walked right up to Clara. She was thrilled to pet a sheep.

After that we saw a Patriot giving his dog treats. The Patriot’s name was Adam and his dog’s name was Liberty. I’d never seen a dog quite like Liberty and asked Adam what kind of dog she was. He explained she was a French Sheep Dog, which was the same breed Thomas Jefferson gave to George Washington as a gift. This gesture would be similar to giving away a sports car today.

We enjoyed our day at Williamsburg and wished we could have stayed longer, but by early afternoon the girls were tired. We were disappointed we didn’t have time to go to Jamestown or Yorktown on this trip, but Kelly plans to go back when the girls are a little older. Hopefully, they will develop a love of history just like their mom. I’m glad we have places like Williamsburg where our young people can learn firsthand the truth about the history of our country and the price of freedom.

What is your favorite historical place to visit? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #190: Reading to Preschoolers

A photo moment with the children at Salem Lutheran Preschool.

A photo moment with the children at Salem Lutheran Preschool. Louie’s sitting on my lap.

    Building a Foundation

One of the most loving things a person can do is read to a child. Reading builds a bond and a foundation for later success through introducing vocabulary and language skills.

I recently was invited to read my children’s books at Salem Lutheran Church Preschool in Salisbury, NC. Preschoolers are a delight because they are inquisitive and not afraid to ask questions or share information about what’s going on in their lives.

The first group were the twos and threes, followed by the four-year-olds. One of the little fellas in the four-year-old class, said, “I know you.” Although he recognized me he didn’t know from where. When I explained I used to live next door to his uncle in the house with all the cars, the lightbulb went off and he said, “Oh, yeah.”

After the children settled down, we sang a song and then I read, Tired of My Bath. This book opens with John Allen telling his mom he doesn’t want to take a bath. His mom warns him if he doesn’t he’ll smell bad. John Allen finally realized he should have listened when his little dog, Louie, hides under the bed from the smell. Even though the story was about John Allen taking a bath, some of the children were eager to tell about their dogs taking a bath.

The next book I read was Tired of Being Little. In this story, John Allen discovers being little is a good thing and the moral lesson is learning to be content. After I read the story, the children and I posed for a photo with Louie. Some wanted to pet him, while others wanted to know if he was real or just pretend. I let them make up their own minds.

Both of my grandsons have been in the preschool program at Salem, so I’m aware of the well-rounded curriculum the faculty and staff provide. Not only do the children learn about the world around them through books and reading, but they also learn through field trips, creative art, music, dramatic play, group activities and devotions. Dana Robertson, the director, said, “We believe it’s important to give children opportunities to explore, experience and ask questions.” I’m glad they invite authors like me to answer some of those questions.

Thanks, Salem Lutheran Church Preschool for inviting me to read.

What experience(s) have you had reading to children? Did something funny happen? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.





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Favorite #189: Spencer Doll and Toy Museum

Dolls having a tea party at the Spencer Doll Museum.

Dolls enjoying a tea party at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum in Spencer, NC.

A Step Back in Time

            A trip to The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum in Spencer, NC, is like taking a trip back in time. The director, Beth Nance, started the museum as a way to honor the memory of her sister, Amy Dawn Morris, who passed away at the age of twenty-one from a terminal illness. In her short lifetime, Amy had collected approximately one-hundred dolls, including the Bob Mackie designer Barbie dolls. While Amy’s collection was the catalyst for the museum, the museum today is filled with items donated or loaned from people far and wide, including dolls, toys, trucks, trains and airplanes.

The doll museum is a perfect fit for Spencer because of the town’s historical past. During the first half of the twentieth century, Southern Railway steam locomotives often stopped at the Spencer shops for repairs on their route from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. When diesel locomotives became popular, the repair shop was no longer needed, leaving the facility to stand empty for decades. Thankfully, that changed with the opening of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The North Carolina Transportation Museum and The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum complement each other with one showcasing the history of transportation and the other showcasing the history of dolls and toys.

            Marie Norway, the event coordinator for the doll museum, schedules activities throughout the month, including author visits, birthday parties, the Downton Abbey Club, and scavenger hunts. Several weeks ago Marie invited me to read my children’s books at the museum. A few days before the scheduled event I stopped by to touch base and I’m glad I did. The Downton Abbey Club was having their weekly meeting. During that meeting I learned the club watches an episode of Downton Abbey each week, followed by a brief discussion. They also enjoy hot tea and cookies, served in an atmosphere of that time period. Marie goes all out even dressing the part.

            I’m glad Marie invited me to share my books at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum because from that experience I met a lot of interesting people and learned a little more about the importance of dolls and toys in our history. A quote on a card in one of the doll cases caught my eye. The quote was attributed to Lord Thomas Babinton MaCaulay, (1800-1859), and it said, “The study of dolls is the story of mankind.” After visiting the doll museum, I believe Lord Thomas was right. If you’re ever in the Spencer area, I hope you’ll stop by. Marie and Beth hope so, too. Only a short drive from I-85, it’s half-way between Charlotte and Greensboro. To learn more about the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum or the North Carolina Transportation Museum check out their websites.  

            What’s your favorite historical place to visit? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.









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Favorite #188: Valentine’s Day

Flowers are a great way to show you care.

A Day For Everyone

For those in a relationship, Valentines’ can be one of the best days of the year. For those not in a relationship, it can be one of the worst days. Michelle Peterson found a way to enjoy this special day last year in spite of a divorce. She sent me an email, recently, asking if she could write a guest blog about ways to enjoy Valentines’ when single. She said she found my blog through a YouTube video highlighting one of my children’s books, Tired of Being a Bully.

Michelle explained, “I’ve always enjoyed Valentines’, so after my divorce last year, I didn’t want to ignore it. I decided to make it my own. I spent the day at a museum and stopped by my favorite café. That night I read a good book and wrote in my journal. It ended being one of the most pleasant, stress free days I’ve had in a while. My desire in this blog is to inspire other singles to see Valentines’ can be a wonderful day.”

5 Ways to Make Being Single on V-Day Awesome

With V-Day almost here, you may be lamenting the fact that you aren’t in a relationship. The heart-shaped candies and the beautiful red roses may even make you feel envious of people in relationships. Instead of thinking about the fact that you are alone, why not think about the benefits of your singlehood? You are free to make your own plans, have all the time for yourself, and don’t have to deal with any unnecessary drama. What’s more, being single is scientifically good for your health.

Why should only couples have fun on Valentine’s Day? No one is stopping you from enjoying yourself, so here are five ways to make being single awesome on V-Day.

  1. Dance ‘til Your Heart’s Content

Dancing has a way of taking all your stress and worries away, plus it has some amazing health benefits too. This V-Day, break a leg and dance like no one watching you! Whether Macarena is your guilty pleasure or a particular movie has some particular dance scenes you find memorable, find the songs that make you let go of all your inhibitions.

  1. Sleep Well

What does it mean when you are single on V-Day? It means that you have the entire bed with the blankets and the pillows all to yourself! You do not have to share your bed with anyone or give up on your sleep because you cannot doze off with someone snoring loudly beside you. Sleep is extremely vital for a good quality of life, and there is no better day than V-Day to enjoy a good night’s or even a good day’s sleep. Since you are a free bird, you can even decide to sleep the entire day!


  1. Do Some Online Shopping

When you are home alone on V-Day and wondering what to do, check out some of your favorite online shops. As you are all alone, no one is around to keep a hold on your purse strings or judge your purchases. Splurge on that gorgeous black skirt or the latest video game that you have wanted forever! Retail therapy truly does help to get your spirits high when you are feeling sad about being single on Valentine’s Day.


  1. Indulge in a Bubble Bath

A bubble bath is one of the indulgences that you must try when you are alone on V-Day. You can take all the time you want, as no one will be banging on the bathroom door asking you to hurry. You can stay in there for hours relaxing in the warm water, which in turn will help enhance your mood. Pour yourself a glass of milk and carry the current book that you are reading with you to the bathroom, and now you have all the entertainment you need.


  1. Binge Watch Your Favorite Shows

Perhaps, the best thing about being single on V-Day is that you do not have to share your remote with anyone. You can finally binge watch your favorite shows without getting disturbed. You can even wear your comfortable PJs as there is no one around to complain about how worn out they are. Be it Game of Thrones or House of Cards, you can watch as many episodes as you want – just keep in mind that you have a job in the morning.

Thanks, Michelle for these great ideas. If you’d like to learn more about Michelle, check out her website, here.

How do you spend Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #187: Walking My Little Dog, Molly

Enjoying a walk with Molly.

Molly enjoys our walks as much as I do.

Time Together

One day last fall while driving down Hwy-70 I saw a little grey-and-white Shih Tzu walking down the road. Since this was a remote area with no houses, I stopped and called to her. She didn’t have a collar and later I discovered she didn’t have a chip, either. After weeks of looking for her owner through proper channels without any luck, I decided to keep her.

I named her Molly because she looks like the little girl dog in my children’s books. Friends and family  who come to visit treat her like a celebrity and she likes the attention. When someone pets or talks to her, she gets excited and wags her tail.  If curled up on the couch, she flips for a belly rub. 

Ten years ago, my husband, Michael, and I adopted a little terrier from the Watauga Humane Society in Boone, NC. We were on vacation at the time and saw the little dog’s picture in the newspaper. Michael loved the movie Smokey and the Bandit, so we named him, Bandit. A terrier loves to dig, so Michael taught Bandit to find toys and bones not only outside, but inside under pillows and blankets.  They often played for hours. When Michael passed unexpectedly in 2014, Bandit seemed lost. When Bandit passed the next fall, it was like losing another part of Michael. After that I decided not to get another dog because it was just too painful. That was until Molly came along. Even my ninety-six-year-old mom thinks God sent her.

It’s amazing how a dog can change the dynamics in a household. It kind of reminds me of how a baby can do the same thing. Molly motivates me to stay on a schedule and enjoys going for walks both in the morning and the evening. If I’m a little late getting started, she’ll come sit beside me and whine. When I grab my coat, she’s standing at the door. During our walks, she sniffs the ground and observes the surroundings which include squirrels, birds and falling leaves. Her routine and her pace has helped me to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Being a caregiver for my mom can get tiring at times and stressful. My walks with Molly help to relieve some of that stress. An added bonus has been that I’ve lost ten pounds. I’ve been trying to lose ten pounds for over twenty years. Thanks, Molly.

There’s no denying the unconditional love of a dog. As I write this blog, Molly’s laying on the floor beside me. I’m glad I found Molly and I think she is, too.

How has a dog or pet changed your life? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #186: Molly, the Rescue Dog

Molly and Mom enjoying a moment together.

Molly and Mom enjoying a moment together.

Home is Having Someone to Love

Three months ago as I was driving down Hwy-70 not too far from my home, I noticed a beautiful grey-and-white Shih Tzu walking along the guardrail. I couldn’t stop at the time because of traffic, so I went to the next intersection and turned around. By the time I could stop the little dog was in the weeds. I got out of the car and called to her. It took a few minutes before she trusted me enough to come.

Once in the car I took her to the Rowan Animal Clinic hoping she had a chip, but she didn’t. I advertised in the Salisbury Post and notified the Humane Society of Rowan Co. and the Rowan Co. Animal Shelter. They all said no one had called looking for a Shih Tzu. A few weeks later, when no one claimed this little dog, I made an appointment for a check-up.

When the technician at the Rowan Animal Clinic asked what I named her, I said Molly because she looks like the little girl dog in my children’s books. Everyone thought it was meant to be. Even my 96-year-old Mom thinks God sent Molly to us.

On the day of the check-up, everything went well until Dr. Lowe looked at her teeth. He said little dogs often have trouble with their teeth and not taking care of them can lead to major problems later. Not wanting Molly to have health problems, I made an appointment for cleaning. Molly not only had her teeth cleaned, but had four pulled. She’s doing really well now.

There’s no doubt in three short months Molly has brought a lot of joy into our lives. Mom’s fearful of dogs jumping on her, so in the beginning I was a little worried. I shouldn’t have worried because Molly never jumps and is very quiet. Mostly she barks at the television when she hears or see another dog. Her favorite thing to do is curl up next to Mom and go to sleep. Well, that and look out the window at the birds. 

Sometimes when I’m in another room, I hear Mom talking to Molly or singing  to her in a very high-pitched voice. This scenario reminds me of the Andy Griffith episode where Thelma Lou expresses how much she loves Barney, but Barney can’t sing. Although that’s true for Mom, It doesn’t matter. Molly doesn’t care if Mom can sing or not. She just loves the attention.

One of the unexpected benefits for me has been the exercise I get from taking Molly for walks. Although she likes sleeping on the couch next to Mom, she also likes to go for walks. She looks forward to that time of day as much as I do. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold, she’s ready to go. As soon as I put on my coat, she’s at my feet, wagging her tail as if to say, come on. By just being herself, Molly has rescued us as much as we rescued her. It really is true what they say about rescue dogs. They seem to sense they have a second chance at life.

If you’re interested in rescuing a cat or dog, be sure to check out the Animal Shelter and Humane Society links above. They’ll be tickled to see you.

Have you ever rescued a cat or dog? What was your experience? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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