I'd say the message here is pretty self-evident.
Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.
The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.
As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”
It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.
According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.
It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.
She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”
Wilson did everything she could to release Eva from the cat’s grasp. She told The Sacramento Bee that she threw rocks, tried choking it and gouging its eyes. But no luck. It wasn’t until she received help from a passing motorist, Sharon Houston, who had a PVC pipe and some pepper spray that the situation improved. The pair were finally able to get the mountain lion to let go, but not before it dragged poor Eva along the path trying to escape. She was quickly rushed to the vet.
Wilson’s beloved canine companion was in life-threatening trouble. Wilson’s husband, Connor Kenny, told SFGATE that Eva had suffered two skull fractures, a punctured sinus cavity, severe damage to her left eye and experienced seizures. The pup’s situation was dire.
To help cover the medical expenses, Wilson created a GoFundMe account and was soon surprised by the outpouring of love and support the public had for her heroic Malinois. The fundraiser gathered more than $30,000, well exceeding what the family needed.
And luckily, Eva never lost her fighting spirit. As was posted on her own Instagram account, Eva recovered, returning home to her sister Mishka (and to new toys, no less).
She even got a milkshake on the way home. And Wilson shared with The Sacramento Bee that there's going to be more treats where that came from, "stuffies" shall be chewed and steak dinners shall be had.
Eva might technically be a Belgian Malinois, but her true breed is hero. Her fierce determination, loyalty to her loved ones and unbridled courage came out in full force. Because of her, a life was saved. She is, without a doubt, the goodest girl.
It's okay to have "curly hair."
Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.
Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.
Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”
However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.
Moricz told the audience, “I must discuss the very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being…”
“As you know, I…have curly hair,” he quipped, nonchalantly taking off his grad cap as the crowd began to clap.
If it’s not obvious now, it will soon become clear that “curly hair” is a euphemism for being gay. But it’s also about so much more.
“I used to hate my curls,” he continued. “I spent mornings and nights embarrassed of them, trying to desperately straighten this part of who I am. But the daily damage of trying to fix myself became too much to endure.”
A major criticism of Florida’s new law is that it potentially further discriminates against an already marginalized group. This can be especially damaging to mental health, and for young people in particular. It can be confusing to have a part of one’s reality so heavily politicized, not to mention at a time when that reality isn’t fully understood.
Moricz proceeded to praise a teacher who answered his questions when he didn’t have “other curly haired people to talk to,” highlighting the important role that an accepting community plays in shaping our identity and self-esteem.
“So, while having curly hair in the state of Florida can be difficult, due to the humidity, I decided to be proud of who I was, and started coming to school as my authentic self,” he shared.
Getting emotional, Moricz lamented, “There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a community like Pine View and they will not have one. Instead, they’ll try to fix themselves so that they can exist in Florida’s humid climate.”
The use of code words is sadly not a new concept for the LGBTQ community. And while Moricz made good use of clever wordplay, he still found the experience to be “dehumanizing.” Luckily, his speech was met with an outpouring of love from fellow students, who gave him a standing ovation.
Despite the disheartening challenge, Moricz considered the speech a “great finale” to his high school years and is more determined than ever to continue his advocacy by studying government at Harvard. Sometimes when you have something important to say, silence isn’t an option.
This story originally appeared on 12.15.21
Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.
You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.
And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.
The trauma of any school shooting is hard to imagine, but the Sandy Hook massacre was in a league of its own. These were first graders. Twenty babies, shot and killed in a matter of minutes. Six educators who tried to protect them.
That was nine years ago. Now the kids that survived Sandy Hook are in high school, and some of them are opening up about their experiences. Their voices deserve to be heard.
In February of this year, Sandy Hook survivor Ashley shared her story with NowThis News. Some of the scenario above was taken from her account:
Ashley was 7 when she went through the trauma of Sandy Hook. She said she has experienced survivor's guilt and the pain of people claiming that the shooting was a hoax. "I can’t give you proof except for my trauma," she said.
Another Sandy Hook survivor, Maggie LaBlanca, shared her story at this year's National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence last week. Her best friend, Daniel, was killed in the shooting.
"It's been almost nine years since I endured that day. Everything has stayed with me so clearly," she said. "The trauma never went away, and I still feel sad all the time that I'm here and they're not. I look for Daniel everywhere because it's hard to accept that I lost him."
We mourn those who are killed in school shootings and focus on the numbers of deaths, but the survivors deserve just as much of our thought and emotion. It's traumatic for anyone to have a loved one murdered or to witness someone being killed in front of them. In the worst scenarios, both of those things happen at the same time. And when it's children who are the witnesses, that's just a tragedy none of us should accept as normal.
This TikTok video from a Sandy Hook survivor sums it up succinctly.
At the time, we thought Sandy Hook had to be the last straw. We thought surely 6-year-olds shot and killed in their classrooms would change things. Our lawmakers would surely unite to take action—to do something, anything—to try to prevent this kind of thing from happening. People pleaded. Activists organized. And our laws have barely budged, especially at the federal level, where they have the greatest chance of actually being effective.
It doesn't have to be this way. Most Americans agree on some very basic gun legislation. A 2019 poll reported by Politico showed that 70% of Americans support banning assault weapons, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Also in 2019, a National Public Radio (NPR), PBS NewsHour and Maris College poll found that 83% of Americans want Congress to pass legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or via other private sales.
Why wouldn't we want to make it harder for abusers or people with a history of violent or threatening behavior to get firearms? Why wouldn't we want to make it harder for troubled teens to get a hold of guns in their household?
Gun rights activists will argue that no law will prevent all shootings, which is true. The U.S. has far too many guns in circulation to curb all gun violence. But some will prevent some, and some is better than none, especially when we're raising generations of kids who have to practice what to do if a gunman starts shooting up their school.
What we have now is not normal. It's not freedom. It's a tragic embarrassment and a stain on our nation—one that we don't have to accept without a fight. We owe these kids at least that much.