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Seeing Eye Dog? No, Seeing Eye Pony!

Guide horse, originally uploaded by DanDee Shots.

A couple of days ago on Flickr, I came across this picture and was astonished, having never before heard of guide-ponies. I researched the subject and found this very interesting material concerning the Guide Horse Foundation.

Our mission is to provide a safe, cost-effective and reliable mobility alternative for visually impaired people. The Guide Horse Foundation is committed to delivering Guide Horses at no cost to the blind, relying on un-paid volunteers and charitable donations to pay all travel and housing expenses for the blind handler’s on-site training.

The Guide Horse Foundation was founded in 1999 as an experimental program to access the abilities of miniature horses as assistance animals. There is a critical shortage of guide animals for the blind and guide horses are an appropriate assistance animal for thousands of visually impaired people in the USA.

In early experiments, Guide Horses have shown great promise as a mobility option, and people who have tried Guide Horses report that the Guide Horses perform exceptionally well at keeping their person safe. These friendly horses provide an experimental alternative mobility option for blind people. People who have tried Guide Horses report that the horses demonstrate excellent judgment and are not easily distracted by crowds and people.


There is more material here.

Guide Horse trainee meets Police horse in Times Square, NY

There are lots of pictures and more information in the link I provided. Please take a look.


My devotional blog is here.



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A Dog Story

Nothing grips us as does a situation in which someone gives his life to save another’s, and when the saviour is seen to be a small dog, and when we understand he was protecting little children, few hearts remain untouched. Enter George, a plucky Russell Terrier, who was mortally wounded as he leaped between two marauding pit bulls and five youngsters. Called by AP as “vicious attack machines with steel-trap jaws and razor-sharp teeth,” George nevertheless fought them off and in the process was mutilated to such degree that the veterinarian to whom he was taken described the wounds as being the worst he had even seen. George must be put down. And so five children are alive and safe and George, the plucky Russell Terrier is dead. The pit bulls are locked away.

AP and Fox News


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — This is a dog story.

It’s about a plucky little Jack Russell terrier named George, who stood like a giant against two marauding pit bulls and gave his own life to save five kids from the steel-trap jaws and razor-sharp teeth of the vicious attack machines.

Local officials say it’s also a story about the people who trained the pit bulls to kill and who may have fed the animals methamphetamines to make them even more deadly.

The tragedy unfolded Sunday afternoon on New Zealand’s North Island, in the town of Manaia, where a group of children — and George — were walking back from a trip to the candy store.

The rest of the story is here.

I’m wondering if all of you are as taken with dogs as I am–especially heroic ones such as George. I love all kinds of animals, but there’s just something about a dog and its relationship to people that seems especially dear. When I was a youngster, I read many dog story books–especially the Lassie and Laddie series. I can recall often walking home from school, reading as I walked, fairly engrossed in what often was a story of a boy and his dog. Jerry tells of the first time he read Where the Red Fern Grows. He was an adult, yet at the book’s conclusion, he cried.

My heart is touched this morning by the bravery of George, the Russell Terrier from New Zealand. The parents of the children he spared will never forget the priceless gift he gave them. I wouldn’t be surprised if his small grave is often visited by five little people, their parents and their friends, and that flowers and doggy treats and pictures are laid there. It is fitting.


My devotional blog is here.

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A Tribute to Terri Gurrola





As you plainly see, she is wearing military fatigues. Her name is Terri Gurrola. The touching scene depicted here reveals her deep emotional commitment to her family, and to her country, as she hugs her tiny daughter, having been in Iraq for seven months. I understand “She’s home for a mid deployment R&R and will be going back to Iraq for at least another 7 months. She’s a medic near Ramadi, one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq.”

Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service to our country. May your family be blessed.

Picture courtesy YouSayToo.


My devotional blog is here.

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Durango Vacation Journal Part 14

Thursday was our last full day of vacation in Durango, and around 10:30 Berl and Lavelta and Jerry and I were off to Silverton where we would meet up with Sue and Wes and Susan and Stan. Smedley’s Coffee Shop was the first stop in Silverton, although I didn’t have another cup. I’m not fond of forming a ladies lounge behind trees or wide bushes, so I’ve made it a habit to keep the liquids at a minimum when we’re to be out on the trails. Jerry brought out a cinnamon roll with his coffee and I shared a couple of nibbles. I thought we were ready to leave, but Sue wanted to go into one of the shops and buy a tee shirt that read, I Survived Black Bear. I don’t blame her. I’d wear one too. While they shopped and Jerry finished up the roll, I took pictures—all within one side of a block. This picture of a blue window in an aging brick building may be one of my all-time favorites.


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Taken in (See more photos here)

The trail—Araastatus–was judged to be a 4, and is the most difficult we’ve traveled yet. It ended at the Mayflower Mine. Sue and Susan began digging around among the relics and I soon joined them, for they said it was okay here. The county or the state is wanting this debris cleared out, but I wish they wouldn’t do that, but instead would just leave the historic mines in place. Berl found an old light socket I could have, pitched it out, but when I was at the top I could not find it. I brought out six rusted springs—couple inches long that were fastened onto a bed frame I “discovered.”

A couple of gentlemen, tourists from Illinois, had joined us at the mine and were poking around as were we. One quite elderly man told us: “I found this place a few days ago and wanted my buddy to see it.” They had ridden 4-wheel ATVs to the top.

Exploring over, chairs and snacks were brought out, then it was time to head back. In my estimation, downhill is the scariest part of wilderness 4-wheeling. But we made it without a hitch, though one place required such a tight turn, that with our long wheel base, Jerry had to back up to make it. I got out to be sure he didn’t back too far.

Last year on one of these trails a family went over the side, killing them all. The story is that the dad thought he had the car in reverse, but instead drove forward. We had been told this story and I saw Jerry deliberately staring at the gear shift. Reverse! Yes!

The other six went on to another mining trail, and Jerry and I headed to Animas Forks. We took the lower trail that runs along the Animas River, and it was so beautiful. I know my sweet camera has captured some lovely scenes, but nothing really compares to actually being in such places. The human eye is far superior to the finest glass in any caliber camera. The live scene is enhanced by the trickling sound of small water and the roar of a major fall, and birds who sing and flit about and floating butterflies and bees who buzz. The scent of flower and weed and of animal and of history and of the moment meld into a vision which cannot be captured.


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Animas Forks is an intriguing mining place in which several buildings still stand. I walked into one of the houses and took pictures from its window openings. As I always do in these settings, I tried to image the families who lived here, who worked so hard, who mined and reared families, who planned and focused and dreamed. And somewhere in the vast jaws of eternity they still exist…, awaiting the judgment of God.

We were all to meet back in Silverton, so after a while in Animas we headed back. Just as we approached Silverton, a Jeep pulled from a side road, and we fell in place behind the vehicle.

“I think that’s Berl,” Jerry said.

In the silver Jeep, Berl said. “I think that’s Jerry.

Sure enough, we had encountered the others at the precise moment that enabled us to take our place in the 4-Jeep parade. “It’s a miracle,” we proclaimed later. “A modern day miracle!” we spoofed.

We left the others and with Berl and Lavelta went to Black Bear Cafe for dinner. I didn’t notice the sign, but Jerry did, and it read CLOSED for certain hours. But the door was open and the waitress said, “Sit anywhere you’d like.” We ordered drinks, but no one brought menus. Then another waitress came with a clipboard saying, “Sign here. It’s $3.00 a person and put a dollar each in the middle of the table for a tip.”

We must have looked puzzled, for she added. “This is Senior night.” Seems each Thursday night the restaurant serves a low-cost meal to any senior. There were 20-30 people in the cafe when we were there. “During the winter about 10 come for the meal,” she told us.

“Does the restaurant provide the food?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “and the State helps out.”

Seems it started many years ago, when in Silverton there was only one or two places open during the winter months. The year-round population is now around 500, but still only a few of the businesses remain open 12 months a year.

For $4.00 each we were served a tasty meal: Delicious split pea soup, roast brisket, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, a loaf of warm bread and lots of butter. The dessert was passed helter-skelter. I drew apple pie. Can’t remember ever tasting better. Jerry’s apple pie had a few berries mixed in. Lavelta was served cheese cake, and Berl had a piece of apple pie with a three-berry mixture stirred in. It was a fine meal. It was the LAST SUPPER of our Durango vacation.


My devotional blog is here.

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Durango Vacation Journal Part 13

Street scene of Telluride, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

We finished up the snacks, heard the horrific/delightful Black Bear stories, then the four of us drove out of the box canyon and into the town of Telluride. We parked, and scheduled ourselves to be back in our cars in 45 minutes. Jerry and I strolled a couple of blocks, spending most of our time in an art gallery.

There’s lots of skiing around Telluride, a town unique in that it offers a free gondola that functions most of the year. We didn’t have time this trip, but on our last one we boarded the gondola and went to Mountain Village, spent time there, and returned on the gondola. The Telluride Magazine writes:

“While anyone in America can choose to commute via biodiesel or electric car, only Telluriders can get to work on a free gondola, a commute so unique it was featured last January on Good Morning America. The three-stage system between Telluride and Mountain Village runs 275 days a year, 7 a.m. to midnight, and carries an average of 1,918,445 riders annual. Obviously, not all of these people are going to work. But those who do have what is widely dubbed as “the most beautiful commute in America.”

A few miles out of Telluride, we turned off toward Ophir, drove through the tiny town and onto the trail. During the past few days they had received a fair amount of rain, which caused the trail to be very rough. We bounced and jolted around so much that I had a hard time taking pictures. Once, though, I turned around, saw this view, stuck the camera out and clicked. I’m astonished it turned out this well. The tiny town you see is Ophir.

A long narrow shelf constitutes part of the trail…a bit scary, as you can see here. That’s Berl’s jeep ahead of us, and I took the picture through the windshield, so you can see the trail our car is perched on.



View Shirley Buxton’s map

I was still photographing through the windshield, when we came up this steep grade, and were treated with this vivid scene.

The pass is quite short, and rather soon, we came to the highway that led us in to Silverton, then on to Durango.


My devotional blog is here.

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Durango Vacation Journal Part 12

Trout Lake, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Yesterday, Berl and Lavelta and four friends they met here in Durango elected to “do” Black Bear Pass. Black Bear is rated 6 out of 10 in the difficulty level of four-wheeling. The day’s plan: Jerry and I would travel by highway to Telluride, where the Black Bear ends, then we would join them for the Ophir Pass, which is less difficult.

Our drive along Highway 145 through Dolores and along the Dolores River is as beautiful as one could ever hope to see. The picture you see at the top is of Trout Lake; it sets as a bowl among the San Juans near the small town of Ophir.

Telluride is such a spectacular place that I vividly recall the first time I traveled there. Soaring mountains surround the box canyon in which it splendidly sets with numerous waterfalls roaring over its edges at the west end of town (In every direction probably rush waterfalls, but I only observed and learned the names of two: Bridal Vail and Ingram Falls.) Its spectacular streets are marked with Victorian houses and stores, along with modern condominiums and other facilities.

We drove straight through the town and out to the place where the Black Bear trail ends and waited there for the 6 Black Bear travelers. We were in touch with them by CB, but long before we could see them, they spotted us, later saying they had waved as they stood near Ingram Falls, pictured here.

We had a visitor as we waited and as we snacked.



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Then they were down…we ate and drank as they regaled us with stories of The Crossing.

We’re off to another four-wheeling trail in a few minutes. Have to catch up in part 13. Hang on!


My devotional blog is here.



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Remembering…, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

I cannot go to bed on this significant day without posting a few comments that speak to the condition of my beloved country. Unless we come to our senses, I truly fear for the future of the United States of America.

The behavior of many of our senators is outrageous and incomprehensible. To speak with such disrespect and disdain to General David Patraeus (beginning even before he said a word) as he appeared to present his report before the senate yesterday and today was patently pompous, crasse and shameful. The despicable attack on his character by in the New York Times should be condemned by everyone. General Betray Us, he was called in the ad sponsored by the far left activist group. Several Members of Congress have spoken against the slanderous ad, while others–including some who are running for the presidency of the United States–have not.

Such behavior directed to a four-star general whom the senate unanimously voted to confirm, is a burning shame. Such stinging castigation and besmirching jabs are inglorious and unworthy of our leaders and of our country, still the greatest in the world.

I call your attention to the Word of God as the prophet Isaiah speaks:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20


My devotional blog is here. 

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Durango Vacation Journal Part 10

Ramp to a Tunnel, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

This beautiful and “easy-walking” ramp led Jerry and me to the visitor center at Mesa Verde National Park, home of 4,500 archeological sites; 600 of which are cliff dwellings. We examined the displays, read history notes, and perused the listings of the tours that are available. We decided to hike to the Spruce Tree House, and to engage in some of the road tours. (Many pictures in the linked article.)

It was about ten years ago that we first visited Mesa Verde, and even before we arrived at the visitor center today we saw there had been significant change and presumed the ravaged acres must have been the result of wildfires. Inside the visitor’s center, a large poster told of the devastating and extensive fires in recent years, and a few minutes ago when I checked for further information on these fires, I confirmed that during the last seven years, five raging wildfires have burned over fifty percent of the land at Mesa Verde. Fortunately, very few historic dwellings were damaged.


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Taken in (See more photos here)

The weather, as has been usual since we’ve been here in Colorado, was perfect–the skies strikingly beautiful. This circular rail leads to the main entrance of the visitor’s center. According to anthropologists and historians, Mesa Verde is the home of the Ancestral Puebloans, and the cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages here were built between A.D 450 and 1300.

Mesa Verde is a World Cultural Heritage Park, a designation granted by UNESCO to preserve and protect the cultural and national heritage of certain international sites. Mesa Verde has also been selected the #1 historic monument in the world by readers of Conde Nast Traveler, and was chosen by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “50 places of a Lifetime–The World’s Greatest Destinations.”

The Ancestral Puebloans created a thriving populous civilization that eventually raised towers and built hundred-room cities into the cliffs of Mesa Verde. There are thousands of sites in the area, earning Mesa Verde Country® the honor of being North America’s richest archaeological area. Many sites are open to the public for visitation, and there are local museums and institutions dedicated to exploring and interpreting this culture and archaeology. The most famous of these is award-winning Mesa Verde National Park, but visiting others provides a deeper look into the fascinating culture of the Ancestral Pueblo People.

Information taken from Mesa Verde official web site.

It is an astonishing place, and when I view those dwellings and think of the scores of families who lived here, and the extreme difficulties under which they labored, I am impressed with their fortitude, grit and intelligence. I do not understand how they lived in such places. They had to carry their water up to the cliff dwellings, and they farmed on the mesas above their homes. It’s just incredible.

Take a look at this view of one of the cliff dwellings and you can imagine how difficult their life must have been.

Suddenly, they were gone. By about 1300 Mesa Verde was deserted. Several theories are extended, but despite significant study and intense investigation no one actually knows what happened to these people. The history of Mesa Verde and its people is exhaustive–much too entailed for examination within this blog. I believe you will find it a fascinating study if you choose to delve into the history of these marvelous people.


The hike to the Spruce Tree House was a quarter of a mile, and was a fairly steep descent. We took it slowly, and almost immediately I saw very large birds in a tree across the canyon. Everyone was pointing and taking pictures, and someone said they were eagles. I was excited, snapped lots of pictures, then a ranger came by and told us the birds were not eagles, but were turkey vultures. Oh, well, they’re big and pretty. We did well hiking up, too, but we should have taken water with us. It was rather hot.

This is astonishing, I thought, as I stood here and photographed the living place of a mysterious, long-vanished people. What happened to them? Where did they go? Why did they leave?


My devotional blog is here.Includes a 9/11 tribute





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Durango Vacation Journal Part 7

Butterfly on Minnie’s Gulch, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“They’re pretty easy ones,” Berl had told us yesterday, then he described a couple of routes, and Jerry was the one that made the decision. We would go four-wheeling today, traveling out of Silverton, first on Maggie’s Gulch, then on to Minnie’s Gulch. (These links provide interesting material, along with maps and several pictures )

Although we have a Jeep, it is a Grand Cherokee, which sets lower to the ground than does a Wrangler, and besides it’s our only car, so understandably Jerry is a little cautious about taking our vehicle four-wheeling. But we’ve done it before…and we did it today…and I wish I could tell you how wonderful it is. Jerry and I engaged in our first “Jeeping” trip a few years ago and it was such fun, I wish we had taken this up when we were younger. It’s an absolute blast!

Silverton is about 45 minutes from our RV park, setting high in the San Juan Mountains at nearly 10,000 feet. We approached the town on Highway 550, called appropriately enough The Million Dollar Highway. Around a sharp bend, after a long, steep descent, off to the right, straight down it seems, is the town of Silverton. We drove slowly through the charming place (We are planning to spend one complete day in Silverton before we leave, so I’ll tell you more about the town then.) and out the other side and soon were at the sign that read, Maggie’s Gulch.

In his Jeep Rubicon, Berl led the way up the rocky trail, which immediately took a sharp ascent, Jerry and I following behind in our Cherokee which performed splendidly. People who go four-wheeling view sights that others will never see. Vistas open to reveal secrets of river, stream, lake, mountain and wild life. Remnants of those who forged new life in the wilderness areas of our country are cached within hidden valleys and meadows. Abandoned houses and mines and mills in barely accessible places speak of incredible strength, vision, and perseverance.


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Taken in (See more photos here)

At the Intersection Mill and Mine, yet stand stamps and wheels and pulleys. I am amazed that, without modern transportation devices such as we have, such structures were transported to these areas ten, eleven, twelve thousand feet in elevation. People lived, worked and died here; here where some areas receive more than 200 inches of snow annually. It’s incredible.

After we had eaten a snack, we poked around in the mine area, then LaVelta found a skull and a scattering of bones that Jerry thinks might be a wolf. Is he right, any carcass experts who may be out there? I thought it looked kind of interesting, and so that I could get a good shot, I propped the white boney head on a stone.

We could have stayed all day in Maggie’s Gulch, but there was yet Minnie’s, so we turned around, and ran the descent. Minnie was a short distance away, and after a break we turned upward again toward Minnie’s Gulch. It was a spectacular drive, Minnie Creek lies far below on the valley floor, and there are numerous Aspens on this trail. A few leaves had lit their spectacular golden lights, and they glittered now in autumn’s breeze. It was at our first stop at the Caledonia Mill foundations that LaVelta and I spied a beautiful butterfly–whose portrait you see at the top of this page.

LaVelta’s nickname is Dovie. Take a close look and you will see this is her cabin. It was so funny. There is furniture in this house, table, chairs, broom, floral paper on the walls, a ladder and a loft. We were intrigued as we poked around, where long ago, someone had a regular ordinary life. A family probably reared children there, and cooked and read and dreamed.

Further down the road from the mine was a two-story fairly well preserved building, that we learned had been a boarding house. Across the road and down a bit was the superintendent’s house. It is in a state of near-collapse, but one part appears strong and invincible. We looked through a window opening and saw a large metal safe–about the size of a refrigerator–and concluded he must have stored some of the silver in there. The outside wall up against the safe is cemented over to secure the heavy piece.

Once Berl stopped his car, and I looked ahead. “I think there’s a bird in the road, Jerry.” But when I looked again I did not see it, then suddenly I saw a huge wing fling up out of the grass at the road’s edge. I moved from the car and walked quietly down the road for I could see Berl was standing out with his camera, and I did not want to frighten away the bird. But he motioned me on, and together we looked and saw a large bird–probably a hawk– who lay wounded in the grass. We both took pictures but didn’t stay long. “He was in the road drinking water,” Berl said, “then he staggered over here. We need to be sure we don’t drive him from the water.”

Jerry and Berl had discussed the possibility of meeting a car coming the opposite direction. The roads are only one lane, and there are sheer drop-offs–hundreds of feet down to the valley floor. No protective rails, of course. Well, it happened. We met a large pick-up truck, and it took some maneuvering. The truck was coming up and had the right of way. Both Berl and Jerry had to drive high onto the mountain side, and the driver of the truck was literally on the cliff-side edge. Our mirrors barely cleared as he passed, and he grinned and spoke, “Little skinny here, isn’t it?”

And then we were down, having traveled to an altitude of 11,500 this afternoon. We trekked back into Silverton, parked in front of Brown Bear Cafe, and had dinner. They tell me the building is more than 100 years old. As we returned to Durango, a doe stood quietly at the edge of 550, perhaps a mate to the young buck I had seen in the morning. She eyed me as we passed.


My devotional is here.


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Sure, She’s Blind. Sure, She Hit a Hole-In-One.

Golf Digest say the chances of an amateur ever hitting a hole-in-one are 12,750 to 1. Yet, here is this astounding woman, blind, yet, for 26 years, defying unthinkable odds, and with her driver smacking that golf ball directly into the cup…with one stroke.

EHIGHTON, Pa. — Sheila Drummond didn’t need to see her hole-in-one. She heard it.

Drummond, blinded by diabetes 26 years ago, experienced the highlight of her golfing career Sunday, recording an ace on the 144-yard, par-3 fourth hole at Mahoning Valley Country Club.

Playing with her husband and coach, Keith, and two friends in a steady rain, the 53-year-old Drummond hit a driver on the hole. The shot cleared a water hazard, flew between traps and landed on the green, where it hit the flagstick before dropping into the hole.

“They were saying, ‘It’s a great shot,’ and then I heard it hit the pin,” Drummond said.

“For a hole-in-one, you have to hit it onto the green, so it’s a little bit of skill and a lot of luck.”

entire story is here.

What a truly admirable woman. No whining, no excuses. I express to her my esteem and sincere congratulations.


My devotional blog is here.