Short Takes: February/March 2020


Sony WH-H900N h.ear on 2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Enjoy more music, more comfort and more colors that fit seamlessly into your world. The h.ear on 2 Wireless NC features high-resolution audio for studio-quality sound plus better Bluetooth streaming with LDAC. Digital noise cancelation blocks out the exterior world, letting in only the sounds you want to hear.

Lightweight and ergonomic, the headphones fold up when they’re not in use. And when you’ve got them on, the soft ear pads stay comfortable all day — a perfect fit for your life.


When Strength Prevails

Local Georgia Author, Helen Smith Thompson Debuts Historical Novel Based on Irish Ancestry

Inspired by the author’s own Irish heritage and historical events of the 1700s, When Strength Prevails tells the tale of Maira O’Connor, an 18-year-old girl caught in the middle of the often-violent conflict between the English and Irish.

When the Crown begins sending English Protestants to replace the Catholic landlords in 1700s Northern Ireland, life for Maira changes dramatically.

Rendered a tenant on her own land to a cruel Protestant landlord, Maira must dig within to discover her own strength, courage and willpower to continue in this harsh new world. When Strength Prevails is a searing historical drama of the real-life conflicts that erupted across Ireland in the early 18th century.

Helen Smith Thompson is a native Georgian. Her Irish ancestors arrived in Georgia in 1772. She also has English ancestors and has always loved history. She hopes this story will inspire others to look back at their ancestral beginnings.

Augusta Camellia Show

Saturday, February 1 | Reid Memorial | Presbyterian Church | 1 to 5 p.m.

Admission is free. A variety of beautiful Camellia plants can be purchased on the day of the show until 5:00 pm in the lot across from the Johns Road side of  Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church.



Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores sits on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Its Gulf State Park has beaches, trails and a pier, plus a golf course and a zip line over the dunes.

To the west, sea turtles and migratory birds thrive among the coastal habitats of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

Farther west, 19th-century Fort Morgan guards Mobile Bay. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo offers hands-on encounters with lemurs, kangaroos and sloths.

Where to Stay
Turquoise Place brings the luxury service of a five-star hotel to the comfort of a condominium in beautiful Orange Beach. Spacious white-sand beaches stretch across the Gulf of Mexico, setting the stage for memorable days in the sand and surf.

Where to Dine
The Gulf Restaurant is located right by the Perdido Pass Bridge in Orange Beach. The Gulf is constructed of old shipping containers, so even the architecture of the restaurant is noteworthy. Add in a sunset and a flyover by the Blue Angels, and you get some sense of the experience eating there.

What to Do
Gulf State Park boasts two miles of powdery sands, with the largest fishing pier on the Gulf of Mexico jutting out into azure waters. Whether you wish to bask in the sun, take a cooling dip in the sea or take a boat ride to see dolphins, you can do it all in this park.

Away from the beach, there are outdoor activities to enjoy too. You can glide along backwaters in a kayak, cycle through scenic woodlands or hike backcountry trails.

If you fancy sticking around to admire glorious Gulf Coast sunsets, there are several restaurants and bars overlooking the water where you can enjoy a bucket of shrimp and a glass of wine under starry skies.




Matt Hammond
U.S. military veteran & owner of Quality K9 Concepts, premier dog training company

Matt Hammond served 10 years in the U.S. Army and spent eight of those years as a military working-dog handler.

“In that time, I was assigned to various locations, both combat support, combat direct and garrison units. I was also assigned to the dog training section, where I trained military working dogs,” he says.

Hammond knows firsthand that for many brave members of our nation’s armed forces, coming home as a civilian is only the beginning of another daunting battle.

The invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause debilitating symptoms in veterans, leading to depression, social isolation and, far too often, suicide.

When Hammond left the service in 2003, he started Quality K9 Concepts with his wife, Dena, who he met in Germany while both were on active duty. 

The premise for the company was simple: partner a combat veteran, law enforcement officer or others dealing with depression, PTSD, anxiety, traumatic brain injury or post-war disability with a carefully selected, highly trained companion, a service dog.

“My wife and I started training and competing in dog sports such as Schutzhund, American Street Ring and American Police and Protection Dog Association,” Hammond adds. “All the while helping local dog owners with their pets. We took what we learned from the law enforcement and sport dog aspect and applied it to helping pet owners achieve a balance with their dogs.”

The couple now live in Harlem with their four children. Their two older boys help with the dogs and are learning more about the training. The boys frequently accompany Hammond to test, select and deliver dogs to veterans.

QK9C works closely with Raidon Tactics Inc. and H3 Veterans Services. Hammond explains, “Raidon Tactics Inc. is a training company that Frankie McRae in Bunnlevel, N.C. runs. Frankie is a retired 18D, special forces medic. My wife and I brainstormed with Frankie, Sally Crunkleton and Ragan Gleason and came up with the the idea of H3 when one of Frankie’s former teammates was in dire need of a service dog.”

The company offers trained service and emotional support canines to combat-era veterans in need. H3 rescues suitable companions from local shelters, kill shelters and foster homes. This enables H3 to save the life of the dog and ultimately help the veteran return to the life he or she once knew.

In addition, QK9C offers pet obedience, police and sport training for dogs. But Hammond feels the most rewarding aspect of his job is working with other veterans and being of service.

“I have found that God grants everyone of us certain gifts and abilities, and mine happens to be training dogs,” he says. “When we delivered Scout, our first service dog, to Frankie’s teammate, I saw a defining change in the veteran, so much so his wife came back to thank me the next day for ‘giving her back her husband.’”

Appears in the February/March 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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