On Saturday, March 15, 2008, a horrific tragedy struck Michael and Bonnie Turner. Bonnie knew a bad storm was
coming….She called her youngest sister, to make sure that she and her boys went down to Mom Helen’s house.
They were already on their way. It’s told that Bonnie was looking out of the front of their 2 story brick house and Mike
out the back, when the tornado struck. But no one could have known that their home would be “Ground Zero.” There
is still some question as to whether this was one tornado or whether two tornadoes came together at the Turner
Home...changing lives forever.
Regardless, professional weather forecasters stated that “nothing should have survived given the strength of the
storm and given its direct hit.” They also talked about the fact that a basement or shelter would not have helped as
the powerful twister blasted through the home, lifting it from the foundation, taking the plumbing, the wiring and the
huge air handler that sat below the house. If Bonnie and Mike had been beneath the home, the outcome, would have
likely been the same. Both Bonnie and Mike were sucked into the tornado and thrown nearly 50 ft from their house.
Bonnie lost her life. Michael, miraculously survived, but was critically injured.
In person, the devastation was unbelievable. Bricks, blocks, smashed into small pieces. The foundation missing. No
plumbing. An interior door found 200 yards away, wrapped around a tree. Interestingly, the entry steps to the home
remained. Otherwise, the house and all things that identified it as such, vanished. Off to the side, evidence of kennels
and Michael’s workshop were visible. However, little of those structures remained.
Through tireless searching, conducted by family, friends, and volunteers, some valuables were recovered: priceless
slides, a ruby necklace, the face of Bonnie’s watch…the handmade clock crafted by Michael for the AHT Specialty that
returned home when Bonnie and Spiderman won...a terrier racing lure machine…very few, but some, of Michael’s
tools and his portions of his tractor collection. A floral arrangement, that typically sat in the center of the dining room
was recovered...oddly, perfectly intact. Additionally, neighbors, and strangers miles and miles away found things: an
afghan, photos, ribbons, dog registration papers, even Michael’s pants (which, although 27 miles away, still
contained his wallet, comb, handkerchief and cash). The tornado carried belongings to other counties...nearly to
other states, sharing Bonnie and Mike with all….touching the lives of others.
Mike was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN for critical care. He was badly injured with bilateral pelvic
fractures, a sacral fracture, rib fractures yielding a collapsed lung, a vertebral fracture, rotator cuff injury and nerve
damage to his left foot. Family and friends rallied to keep Mike’s spirits up and help him heal with love and prayer.
Fortunately, he was never alone. His daughters, niece, brother, and many other family members remained with him
and assisted with his care. Once stabilized, he underwent laproscopic repair of the pelvic fractures, leaving him
nonweightbearing on his left side. When strong enough to move to a rehabilitation hospital, he was transported
closer to home in Rome, GA. This is when his real work began.
Mike learned to dress himself with assistive devices, learned to transfer from bed to wheelchair and back again,
began relearning to walk...or bunny- hop...as he calls it. He had (and still does have) to do range of motion exercises,
both passive and active, to help rebuild strength and flexibility. He had tons of work to do, all while grieving the loss of
his wife, his “life,” his dogs, his home. And we cannot forget the dogs...the dogs that Bonnie devoted her life to...the
dogs that became Michael’s passion as well.
Most of the Turner’s beloved American Hairless Terriers and Chihuahuas died. However, there were 11 survivors.
The last Rat Terrier owned by the Turners, Merry Lee, was alive but severely injured. There were 2 Chihuahuas that
were physically perfect and just a little shaken. The remaining dogs were AHTs….Barbie and Brandy who lived
together, survived together. These 2 coated red sabled girls were injury free and appeared happy to be alive.
There were 2 coated piebald AHTs, a male and female, who had very minor scrapes but were visibly shaken by their
experiences. It took a little bit of detective work to ID these 2, but they are confirmed as Eamon and Layla. The other 4
AHTs were injured. One pup remained in GA for care at the local vet….he has since been returned to Michael’s sister
Pat’s house for continued care. Ripley, a chocolate coated AHT, Ember, a hairless brindle AHT, and Prada, a hairless
piebald AHT, required extensive veterinary care (along with Merry Lee). These dogs were cared for by Teri Murphy in
NC until they, and Michael, were well enough to return home.
The AHT community rallied to assist physically and financially with dog care, including dogs owned by Bonnie’s
mom, Helen, sending cards and get-well care-packages to Mike and Schrader families. All of us should be proud of
our efforts and the love shared with these very special families during this tragedy. They have expressed their
gratitude and heartfelt appreciation towards all.
Ongoing financial support is always welcome. Please continue to use the Paypal address:
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or send checks, made payable to John Michael Turner to PO Box 919 Aragon, GA 30104.
Bonnie Turner had a lovely presence about her. When she entered a room, it lit up. I don't recall
not ever seeing a smile on her face. I had the honor of calling Bonnie my friend. She introduced
me to the American Hairless Terrier breed.
Bonnie had admired my Rat Terrier, GRCH RaganRat Bailey Boy, when he was a Top Ten show
dog in 2003 and 2004. Bonnie asked about using Bailey in her AHT outcross program in hopes of
introducing more bone, temperament and structural qualities to the AHT gene pool.
In 2005, Bailey was bred to Florida Vagabond At Flinthill, aka Gypsy. The litter was born May 31.
Bonnie selected a coated carrier male from that litter and named him Flinthill's Bailey Boy, aka
Mouse. Bonnie wrote on Mouse's photo album site:
|This coated carrier boy is a son of our hairless girl Gypsy, (Florida Vagabond At Flinthill)
and GRCH Raganrat Bailey Boy, a Top Ten Rat Terrier.
He's 13 1/2 inches tall, and weighs 13 lbs.
Ever since I first met Mouse's father Bailey, I've admired him for his gorgeous type, and
He is a proven sire, who has produced sons and daughters as lovely as himself, and
successful in their own right.
I am pleased and grateful for this opportunity to bring the strength of his outstanding
qualities to my AHT breeding program.
Thank you so very much, Darice!!
In lieu of a stud fee, I told Bonnie I might want an AHT in the future. On February 3, 2006, an AHT
litter was born at Kim and Veryl White's of NaryAHair Kennel in Florida. Parents of the litter were
GRCH Flinthill's NittyGritty DirtDog and GRCH ‘PR’ Flinthills Basking Je’Tewiee. Bonnie would be
receiving a puppy from the litter.
Spring of 2006, while at the Carolina Classic dog show, Bonnie asked me to look at the litter. A
sassy black and tan hairless girl caught my eye. Bonnie liked her too and asked me if I'd like to
own her. This is how I acquired my precious girl Envy!
Bonnie's coated carrier male, Mouse, later sired a litter that produced Flinthill's Bobbie Dare 'Em,
a black and tan coated carrier, who was stunning! Bonnie was so proud of that dog and said,
"now that is what I had envisioned when I used Bailey in my program."
My plan was to breed Envy after she turned two years old. I visited the Flinthill Farm in early
February 2008 to look at Bobbie and other studs. Bobbie was a wonderful choice for Envy, not
only due to his structural merit, but he had my long line of Rat Terriers behind him as well. Bonnie
was thrilled I decided to use Bobbie at stud.
Envy's heat cycle started mid-February, so my husband and I arranged to meet the Turner's at
their property on Watt's Bar Lake, February 24. We had a wonderful time. Our husbands worked
on repairing the boat dock and the dogs played while Bonnie and I sat on the dock watching the
gulls. I had my camera and Bonnie would say, "there, there, get that one...did ya get it?" We got
tickled because the birds were swooping and diving in the water so fast. I suppose I looked like a
real dingbat whirling about, snapping away, and trying to stay balanced and not fall in the lake.
***This is where I captured the photograph Bonnie's Blue Sky .....and if you look real close you
can see a Terrier racing through the clouds!
Mike and Bonnie delivered Envy home in March, only a few days before the tornado hit their
home in Georgia. During Envy's stay with the Turners, Envy became smitten with Mike. I think
she'd gone back with him to Georgia if I'd allowed it. As the Turner's were leaving, Bonnie was
sitting in the van, the sun was glistening on her marvleous white hair...and I thought how beautiful
she looked. I hugged her and told her "thank you for everything" and "I love you Bonnie". That
was the last time I saw her.
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