I lost my best friend about a week ago.
She was Pola, our handsome Siberian husky, who we rescued, and fell in love with, four years and four months ago.
She was 11 years old when she passed October 30 with little or no warning from a sudden recurrence of cancer.
I’m writing this for the many “Friends of Pola” (F.O.P.) because it became difficult, nigh impossible, to tell them individually how grateful I have been for their friendship toward my dog in such a sorrowful time. I remain grateful for your welcoming hands, most of which held a treat and a loving pat or hug.
If she could have talked–and she tried hard with her howling husky language to do so–our handsome and loquacious dog, a large girl of 66 pounds with a striking black, gray and white coat and muzzle, she would have thanked you profusely, and I do so now.
Last week, shortly after her passing, I walked the same walk I’d taken with her for four years. It was an odd feeling. Neighbors asked after Pola – “where is she?” – So difficult to answer the question, so emotional …
It was my journalist colleague, Roger Bianchini, whose pit-mix-breed, Luda, we described as “Pola’s boyfriend”, suggested I write this dog obituary. “Write something for publication,” the sometimes substitute Pola walker and Barr residence dog sitter urged.
Not everyone knew that Pola was a “rescue.” We adopted her through Sarah Veach of Pet Harbor near Fredericksburg, who took several months to find “just the dog for you.” The husky was a fit with the diminutive Ophelia, the resident miniature pug AND with wife Carol. She was correct, Pola, then named Molly, was, indeed, “just the dog” for us.
In 2014, when Pola came to live with us, she almost immediately became special. She and I walked the periphery of Shenandoah Golf Course, about two miles daily, plus a night walk along our neighboring cul de sac. I would often sing a song to include her name and she would do the husky howl once in a while to indicate, I guess, that she was listening.
After a few months, I realized how much she was enjoying the couple of regular visits, first to Lowe’s, then to ERA Brown & Rutherford Realty where a lasting love match began with company secretary Cindi Laing. Picking up prescriptions at Lester & Mowery Pharmacy became a regular thing and I cannot begin to thank the counter staff and others at the pharmacy enough for the love accompanied by treats they gave to Pola. To those in the queue behind us, thank you for your patience as Pola’s needs were met at the cash register.
Pola, paws up on the teller’s counter at the Shenandoah Avenue BB&T branch, also temporarily interrupted traffic at the bank where the ladies would greet Pola as their “adopted doggy customer!” – An extra thank you to the bank staff for their love and oft-stated affection for our Pola. And PetCo was a regular and enjoyable stop to buy her food and treats as we drove downtown on Route 522.
For the past three years, several hundred people would see our handsome and vocal dog, leashed by another FOP, Robert Thorne. The pair, along with USAF veteran and local dog trainer Diana Lieber, would lead the annual Memorial Day parade of canines saluting the “dogs of war.” This has become a regular and possibly unique part of the local ceremonial the last Monday in May at the Gazebo.
Tuesday evenings this past year or so, Pola has been a guest of a group which meets at the Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street. The Hell Town Saloon bartender invariably offered a treat and the customers delighted in Pola’s attempt at “thank you” – a combined bark-howl. Also at the Hell Town Saloon, Pola regularly met another “boyfriend” – Rico, the 5-pound Chihuahua – the odd couple!
Others among Pola’s downtown contacts were Christian and Rachel Failmezger at the Pavemint Brew Pub on Commerce Avenue. Pola enjoyed the open-air part of the restaurant where dogs are welcome and where the operators would quickly hustle up a water bowl for this canine customer.
Closer to home, Rose Mary Comstock, whom Pola visited at her Angel’s Korner child care and learning center only three days before her death, was another favorite stopping-off place. Rose Mary dog sat for Pola and Ophelia. So kind and gentle was Pola that Rose Mary, as a treat for the kids, would show the husky off to them. When Rose Mary wasn’t available earlier this year, Front Royal residents Len Sherp and wife Lu Ann Jacobs did the sitting duty while we were on vacation. Len said after his 10 days with our animals in September, “I can’t begin to thank you enough for letting me spend time with your dogs … so enjoyable.” He reiterated similar sentiments when he learned of Pola’s passing.
Pola would give a bark also to the ladies at Sheer Elegance on John Marshall Highway, the doggy beauty parlor, who helped take care of her coat; as well as to Randolph-Macon Academy for the occasional trips she made around the halls and grounds.
In closing, a warm thank you from Carol and I to our neighbor, James Harper, who responded to my early-morning telephone call for help in loading Pola into the SUV – she had collapsed in our yard minutes earlier – and for Veterinarian Mary Ellen Brown’s care of Pola up to and including her untimely death.
(Malcolm Barr Sr. is contributing writer for The Royal Examiner. Barr is a past president of the Humane Society of Warren County, with 45 years in animal rescue.)
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: American Goldfinch
These two American Goldfinches hit the same window at the same time and ended up here at the Center for care.
Though both are currently having breathing difficulty, and the male has significant head trauma with bleeding from the left ear, neither sustained any fractures. They are recovering together while they receive supplemental oxygen and pain medications.
Do you know what to do if a bird hits your window?
Though it was once standard to contain a window strike bird and let it rest for a few hours before attempting release, research has now shown that this is inadequate. Many of the issues we see with window strikes manifest 24+ hours after the strike, long after the bird can fly off.
If you see a bird hit a window, contain it right away and call the closest permitted rehabilitator. Do not release it! In the meantime, take steps to break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Prevention is better than treatment!
A new record!
Yesterday we surpassed last year’s intake number with this window strike pair. We are hopeful that they will soon be released together to enjoy the rest of their wild lives!
If you are looking for an easy way to help native wildlife become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
Local grandma steps out of shower, holds intruder at gunpoint until police arrive
A Warren County family had an exciting Monday morning after the family’s matriarch thwarted an intruder who may have intended to steal a family vehicle.
Tricia Montoney told Royal Examiner Monday evening that an eagle-eyed neighbor noticed a man in the family’s driveway, around 7 a.m. standing beside a Ford F-150 pickup truck belonging to Tricia’s daughter, Rachel Montoney.
Rachel said in a phone interview that “once our neighbor told me about the man attempting to enter my vehicle, I ran to get my mom.”
Tricia was in the shower but quickly put on a robe and grabbed the Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun she keeps for personal protection. She then went outside to confront the intruder. By then, she said, the man was sitting inside the pickup with the door closed.
Rachel says her mom yelled to the intruder, “What are you doing? Get out of the truck and on your knees!” The man, later identified by arresting officers as Larry Huyser, exited the truck and complied with Tricia’s instructions while a neighbor called 9-1-1.
Huyser, who was dressed in a fluorescent green sweatshirt, jeans, and a black hat, said that he had gotten into the unlocked truck “because I was cold.”
Warren County deputies who arrived on the scene found Tricia holding Huyser at gunpoint. He was taken into custody without incident.
Huyser was booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail (RSW) and charged with vandalism, damaging property, tampering and entering a vehicle, and breaking and entering an auto.
He is being held without bond. Online court records show that Huyser has been arrested before for similar offenses.
Both Tricia and Rachel expressed their gratitude for their neighbor and his assistance in contacting the police and for staying with Tricia as she held the intruder at gunpoint.
The Montoneys also appreciated the deputies, who arrived quickly and transported the intruder to RSW.
Asked if she would now lock her truck at night, Rachel said, “Absolutely!”
Both ladies expressed their gratitude that no one was injured and said they were especially grateful for their close friendship with their neighbors. “We take care of each other out here,” Tricia said.
Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County
Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies help rescue horse after fall into pool
On December 2, 2022, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy’s responded to a residence on Green Springs Rd. in Frederick County. This was regarding an 1800-pound draft horse that fell into a swimming pool. Once on the scene Deputies determined that the horse had knocked over the top rail of the fence around the pool, jumped the fence and walked out onto the nylon pool cover causing the horse to fall into the water. However, its head and part of the body remained above water.
The Draft Horse was in the 9-foot end of the pool. Deputies Cram, ACO Deputy Tasker and Sgt. Hawse started cutting the pool cover away from the horse. Once it was clear of the cover and haltered, the horse was pulled to the shallow end of the pool where it was able to stand and catch its breath. Deputies were able to guide the horse up the stairs to the pool deck and into the yard.
The Veterinarian who handles the horse was called and advised to dry the horse as good as possible, feed it hay and keep it moving. That information was passed on to the owner’s children that arrived on scene. At the time of this email the horse was doing fine.
“You just never know what type of calls we respond to every day. This is one for the books. We are happy that it was witnessed, and we could respond to assist. Deputies were ready to go in the water if needed to make sure the horse stayed above water,” Sheriff Lenny Millholland observed of the incident.
Local doctors take time out to again treat third world country residents of Honduras
For the past 14 years, local Dr. Thomas (call me “Tommy”) Ball has ducked out of Front Royal Family Practice to spend up to two weeks leading a medical team to serve the people of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Dr. Ball – okay, we’ll call him Tommy from here on – has always considered serving the under-served a core mission of his medical practice. For the past 20 years Valley Health has recognized and supported that mission as part of his faculty position at the Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency. “Valley Health recognizes that young doctors want to understand Global Health and want to contribute internationally. They allow me to devote time as a teacher to global health issues and they support our work overseas,” he told us.
Medical faculty from around Virginia have formed a nonprofit organization, SAGE (Students And Global Engagement), focused on introducing trainees to a small community in rural Honduras. As Tommy describes it, “We attempt to foster better health among the Hondurans and to expose Americans to the needs people face in a third world setting. It is a two-way street in which both parties benefit.”
SAGE helped build a small mountainside clinic in the village of Pinares, Honduras. They send medical teams for one to two-week stretches three times a year at four-month intervals. The area they serve is approximately the size of Warren County, with similar mountainous terrain. Average take-home pay for the mostly agricultural workers around Pinares is about $3-dollars a day (yes, a day, emphasized Ball).
Medication, some donated by Valley Health, helps patients cope with a variety of diseases including familiar problems such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, as well as problems uncommon here such as parasites caused by contaminated water. SAGE tries to go beyond just medication and address the underlying social factors that foster illness. In recent years they have donated monthly food packages to families with young children and filters to improve the safety of drinking water.
This fall the team included Dr. Paulius Mui and Dr. Sean Sutphen from the residency training program and seasoned local physician Dr. Shyama Rosenfeld, as well as support personnel in pharmacy, emergency transport, and anthropology.
Tommy has developed close ties and friendships in the community SAGE serves. He notes that he is older than most volunteers, but hopes he still has a few more years left of visiting and doing his best to improve health conditions in Pinares. “We have the personnel who want to help, but we are always struggling financially,” Tommy said, hoping that local service clubs and other non-profits might see their way to help support SAGE.
If you, the reader, are interested and require additional information, email Tommy at Front Royal Family Practice (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the SAGE website (sage-community.com). And yes, you may call him Tommy!