story by cindy burbage
photos by natalie turner
Famous American author Dean Koontz just about sums up the essence of a dog, “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” Growing up surrounded in the canine world of Foxhounds and Dog Shows, the love for the furry four-legged creatures became second nature. Meet long time Effingham County resident Lynnette Bragg and her pack of splendid Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Lynnette did not discover her passion or her need for this breed until her world as she knew it, tumbled upside down and out of control. It was in the midst of the untimely death of her youngest son, Matthew, that she realized her life had an emptiness. She traveled frequently with her job and knew she needed a traveling companion that may help with her grieving process plus keep her from being alone. “After losing a child, it’s very hard to go on some days,” Lynnette shared. “I had planned to get a lab and discussed this with my Dad; he is the one that told me I needed a Cavalier,” she continued. Her Dad had explained that they are the “big dog in the little dog package.” So, blindly she dove into the unknown of the breed and acquired a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. “When you look into their eyes, they look back into yours,” she lovingly expressed.
The first love was Sir Tobias, also known as Tobi. The five year old pooch is a Ruby Cavalier, which describes his coat color of rich mahogany. Their relationship and connection was instantaneous from the beginning and he still accompanies her everywhere. The loss of her son was not the only loss she had experienced, since the death of her young son, she has undergone much bereavement including the passing of her oldest son, Scott, her Mother, and a little over two years ago, her Father. “I just keep getting more Cavaliers,” she painfully remembers. After Tobi, her pack consists of six more Cavaliers at home and three that are fostered with loving families.
Lynnette’s husband, Randy, was never a fan of having dogs, but Tobi changed his opinion quickly. By Christmas of Tobi’s first year, Lynnette’s father bought Randy a solid Black and Tan Cavalier by the name of Lady Guinevere. She has been Randy’s shadow from day one!
Toby and Guinevere were then bred, and Lynnette and Randy kept out Lady Katie Scarlett, who is a solid ruby, just like her Dad.
The next Cavalier to be added was a Tri-Color who has the greatest personality, Lady Dixie Mae! She gives the best Cavalier Hugs of the group! One of the big Cavalier traits is to put their front legs and paws on either side of your neck, lay their face on your face and press in and love you for dear life! This is Dixie Mae.
Cavaliers come in four colors, so the collection was complete with the addition of Tudorose Rembrandt, a Blenheim, lovingly known as Remi. He has an absolutely gorgeous head and huge round eyes.
There is Coco Chanel, referred to as the Princess Coco Chanel (We use the double name most of the time). She is a little over three years old and believes she is truly a princess. “She has to have everything perfect,” Lynnette giggles, “everything must be just so for her.” Coco Chanel is a Blenheim Cavalier, which describes the color of her vibrant silky coat-chestnut red and snow white. Ms. Chanel delivered 2 male puppies and 2 female puppies recently: RanLyn’s Chance de Chanel, RanLyn’s Allure de Chanel, RanLyn’s Cristalle de Chanel, and RanLyn’s Bleu de Chanel.
The newest addition is Gordon Gekko- RanLyn’s Woof of Wallstreet. The spunky black and tan pup is the life of the party. Great expectations are in place for this very promising young lad!
Lynnette’s Dad, Homer, suggested that they should attend one of the prestigious dog shows with Tobi and Guinever. Sir Tobias cleaned up at the competition, going Winner’s Dog at his first AKC show. He went on to complete his AKC Grand Championship. Rembrandt received his AKC Grand Championship at the age of 17 months.
And as for Ms. Coco Chanel, well, she holds a few titles. The Princess, Silver Grand Champion, Huntland Coco Chanel completed this past year as the overall third best female AKC Cavalier in the nation, winning Awards of Merit at both the Cavalier Nationals and the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club in New York under the expert and professional handling of Dennis Brown and his lovely wife, Katey Thompson-Brown.
Lynnette and Randy have lovingly donated over a dozen of their prestigious Cavaliers to families who have children with Autism, Down’s Syndrome and other Developmental Disabilities, Leukemia and adults who have or have undergone treatment for Cancer or other chronic illnesses, and who are elderly.
Showing dogs isn’t as simple as it may sound. Lynnette and Homer hit some bumps in the road and definitely experienced the learning curve. Once the kinks were worked out, they were able to bring home the ribbons. RanLyn Cavaliers (Lynnette and Randy) exclusively use Dennis Brown and Katey Thompson-Brown as Professional Handlers.
Cavaliers are an old Scottish breed that dates back as early as the 1500’s. It wasn’t until the 1600’s that King Charles II discovered his infatuation with the canines making them an aristocratic companion. “These dogs are bred by royalty to be a lap dog for royalty,” Lynnette explains. The sweet temperament and disposition of this beautiful dog allows their reputation to precede them. Performing for shows and giving their unconditional love at home is not the only purpose for her Cavaliers.
Lynnette is the owner and President of B&B Care Services, Inc. B&B was the brainchild of her youngest son, Matthew, and was started in the mid 1990’s after raising her first son, Scott, because of seizure disorders, autism, mental retardation and osteoporosis with multiple bone fractures. The idea of this agency was directly from her younger son Matthew who loved his older brother unconditionally and shared this special love for his big brother with everyone he came in contact with. “Matthew saw this as a vehicle to help other families,” she said proudly. “Because I was a huge advocate for Scott, I was fortunate enough to be appointed to the Governor’s Council of Developmental Disabilities in 1992. I served until 2004 with many years being the councilman for the state,” she explained. B&B’s goal is to connect people and families to resources to enable them to live in the community. “We work with probably 225-250 people with autism or developmental disabilities ranging in age from three on up. We do family support and respite care.” Respite care is planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with special needs in order to provide temporary relief to families who are caring for a child or an adult. This provides temporary relief to those who are caring for family members. “The goal is to allow people with these disabilities to stay in their home and be able to go into the community and enjoy what other members of the community experience. We are able to provide almost any service the family could need. When they say ‘well if I only had this’, we try do provide that need. Horseback riding is a popular request, it helps out with their neuromuscular disorder and plus their self-esteem. We work with another program called Money Follows The Person, which is a Medicaid funded program. It helps people in a nursing home actually move out when ready.” A plan is developed for that individual and this program will assist with security deposits, furniture and even first grocery orders. B&B is currently working with approximately 200 plus people that are in transition now, averaging five people that actually move out per month. B&B continues providing case management services for those individuals who move out of the nursing facilities for up to one year. Usually working with an average of 60 of these individuals. On any given day, B&B is working with around 500 individuals and their families who are in need of supports to remain in the community.
Her pack of Cavaliers team up with B&B Care Services and Lynnette takes her pups with her to nursing homes and feels like it’s a great ice breaker, to meetings, and to the schools in the county. The love of these animals to everyone is purely remarkable. They have been proven to mend a broken heart and comfort the ill; those grieving and those battling many different types of cancer enjoy the visits with them.
With so much loss endured in her lifetime, Lynnette Bragg has not let life control her, she has taken control of her life. She has taken the simple relationship between a girl and her dog and given people experiencing their darkest hour hope of a better day.