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Friday, June 29, 2007

Mail helps boost soldiers' morale

A communitywide effort to gather and send packages to the troops in Iraq will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Items can be dropped off at the County Market stores at 3709 Greenwood Road and 6363 Hearne Ave.
The event is coordinated by The Radio Group, with the help of County Market and the LSU Agriculture Center 4-H Youth Development program.
Maria Hancock, a receptionist at the Radio Group, has a son in Iraq. And it was through her son, Richard Hancock, that Maria learned about the many soldiers who — although they have family back home — don’t receive letters or any other kind of mail.
Others at Hancock’s job heard about the situation and decided to organize a project where they could collect items to send to the troops.
That’s how the communitywide project came into existence.
Sharon Flournoy, with the Radio Group, said instead of waiting until Christmas when other efforts like this take place, they decided to do theirs near the Fourth of July.
A list of items include DVDs, CDs, books, magazines, snacks, coffee, tea, sugar, combs, ponytail holders, hand sanitizers, items for first aid kits, shampoo, toilet paper and deodorant.
The troops also welcome letters and cards.
Items must be compact and able to withstand being packed in backpacks for extended periods of time.
For a longer list of items, go to www.anysoldier.com.
Flournoy has "adopted" one of the soldiers Hancock’s son mentioned and communicates with him on a regular basis.
"Just hearing from someone helps boost soldiers’ morale," Flournoy said.

Congratulations: We passed!

Tank's classes are over and now I'm on my own.
When I first decided to enroll my puppy, Tank, into an obedience class, I wasn’t so sure I had made the right decision.
Now four weeks later, I’m sure I did the right thing.
I got Tank when he was 6 weeks old. He just turned 4 months old and weighs almost 40 pounds. Tank is a Rottweiler and I’ve been told that he will get up to at least 90 pounds.
Knowing that, I knew I would have to be in control of Tank at all times. But, I also knew I would need help. After all, the German shepherds I had were pretty big and, at times, controlling them was almost impossible.
So Tank and I (and my son Aaron) embarked on a four-week training class at Red River Obedience Training Club, where among other things, we learned the basics: sit, stay, down, come, recall and walking on a leash.

Tank was fine, but I was a nervous wreck during the first class. I just knew Tank was going to relieve himself on the floor. I couldn’t concentrate because every time Tank started sniffing the floor, I almost went into a panic.
It wasn’t until later that I realized what he was sniffing was the leftover remnants of doggy treats. So we got past that first night without Tank embarrassing me. However Luci, a cute little Yorkshire terrier owned by Rita Wynn, couldn’t control herself and tinkled on the floor.
But that’s OK because what Luci did was let us know that life goes on after a little accident. And no one laughed at her. After that, I didn’t stress over Tank "going" on the floor. And he never did.

As we went through the training each week, it was easy to see who the advanced puppy was: Bindi, the German shepherd. I was so impressed with Bindi that I walked over to her owner, Max Hutto, and asked if he worked with her a lot at home. His answer, of course, was yes. I felt like such a slacker because even though I work with Tank at home, it’s obvious it’s not enough.
But Tank learned a lesson during the first class that he still hasn’t forgotten.
At the beginning of the class, trainer Beth Scorzelli asked if there were any problems that needed to be addressed. I told her Tank constantly bites, although most of the time he’s just playing.
She said to never let our dogs bite, whether they are playing or not.
Anyway, Beth took Tank to the side and he began trying to bite her hand. She grabbed him by his collar, looked him straight in the eyes and yelled, "NO!"
Tank started screaming (can a dog really scream?) as if she were killing him.
Once Tank calmed down, Beth gave him a treat.
After that night, I don’t care how much Beth played with Tank, he wouldn’t even look like he wanted to bite her.
In addition to Bindi and Luci, Tank’s classmates included Sadie, a basset hound, and owner John Settle; Frankie, a Boston terrier, and owner Jamie Parker; Daisy, a mixed breed, and owner Deborah Haynie; and Beth’s puppy Icy, a Shih Tzu.
Daisy was the celebrity of the class. On the first day, Daisy refused to walk across Texas Street to the class so her owner had to pick her up and carry her across. I wrote about Daisy in my Heard Around Town blog. Daisy gave me her autograph (paw print) which I also posted on my blog.
Frankie was the barker (and biter). He went wild when Beth attempted to show Jamie how to control him.
But before the end of the four weeks, Frankie had calmed down considerably, even to the point where Daisy was quite smitten with him.
Sadie was the quiet one, or so we thought. She would sit there with those puppy-dog eyes watching her classmates. But one day Sadie let out a howl (or bark) and her quiet days were gone forever. She even began interacting more with the other puppies.
It was Luci who paved the way for the others. She did what most of us feared. She was the first one to tinkle on the floor. But that’s OK because she let us know that life goes on after a little accident.
During recall, Beth stood at one end of the room holding onto a puppy’s leash while the owner called the puppy. When Rita called Luci’s name, Luci ran straight toward Rita, and then veered to the left. She was so cute and funny.
I was disappointed when Luci and Rita missed the last class.
After four weeks, the puppies had advanced. They received their certificates along with a bag of treats and a squeaky toy.
Thanks to Beth, the puppies are ready for another level of training. She always had answers to our questions. And we had lots of questions.
And then there’s Icy, a real team player. She helped show us how a trained puppy is supposed to act.

And if I can't continue with the training on my own, there's always the beginners class.
Photo: Tank and Bindi

Friday, June 22, 2007

Puppies in training

Obedience training went well this week. We reviewed things we had learned earlier and discussed new concerns and old problems.
As usual, my puppy Tank has a problem. Or rather, I have a problem. Tank is perfectly content with the way he behaves.
Anyway, when I put Tank out in the backyard and he doesn’t want to be there, he jumps on the window and scratches the screen. I yell at him to stop and he just stares at me.
So, I asked our trainer what I needed to do. She suggested putting something on the window that would fall and make a loud noise when he jumps on it. That way, she says, he’s correcting himself.
Unfortunately, the window ledge is not wide enough to put anything on it. So, I came up with an idea. Let me know if it’s too extreme.
I filled a spray bottle with water and opened the window. And I waited. Shortly afer being outside, Tank decided it was time to attack the window. As soon as I heard him on it, I grabbed the spray bottle and squirted him with the water. Guess what? It worked. But that didn’t stop him from jumping on the window later. But this time, he jumped down when he saw me coming with the bottle. Hopefully this tactic will work.
Anyway, I promised I would introduce you to Tank’s classmates and I attempted to get pictures of them but the photo was one big blur because they were moving so much. I’ll try again next week.
The class includes: John Settle and his basset hound Sadie; Jamie Parker and her Boston terrier Frankie; Deborah Haynie and her mixed breed Daisy; Max Hutto and his German shepherd Bindi; and Rita Wynn and her Yorkshire terrier Luci. And then there’s trainer Beth Scorzelli and her Shih Tzu Icy.
Next week is our last class so look for updates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What’s next?

I was in the store the other day looking for whatever it was I was looking for when an elderly man came down the aisle mumbling something about toothpaste.
I didn’t immediately know what he was talking about until he said, “They say that toothpaste is poison.”
I looked in the direction he was staring and saw the Colgate toothpaste.
I then realized he was talking about the contaminated toothpaste that recently was in the news.
He bypassed the Colgate and headed toward another brand.
The Colgate-Palmolive Co. has sad counterfeit toothpaste falsely labeled as "Colgate" has been found in four states and may contain a poisonous chemical called diethylene glycol (DEG)
“I’m going to buy Crest,” he said. He felt that brand was safer.
First the lettuce was contaminated; then the pet food and just recently it was the beef. And now toothpaste! It’s sad when you have to worry about whether it’s safe to brush your teeth.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer remediation enrollment

I recently visited Donnie Bickham Middle School and wrote a column on Caddo Parish's summer remediation program.
Here is a student enrollment breakdown for each of the schools involved in the program.
Blanchard: 164
University: 275
Werner Park: 229
Westwood: 214
Donnie Bickham: 326
Ridgewood: 409
Youree Drive: 367
Byrd: 575

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tank in training

OK. Last night's puppy training class went well. Mostly the puppies got a chance to just have fun. They ran through tunnels and played in (empty) plastic baby pools.

And I got an autograph (paw print) last night from Daisy, the puppy I mentioned last week that wouldn't cross the street so her owner had to pick her up and carry her across.

Anyway, Daisy's owner, Deborah Haynie, told me Daisy walked across the street on her own this time. Way to go Daisy! And since Daisy is a celebrity of sorts after people read about her in the paper, she's giving out autographs. And I got one!

Trainer Beth Scorzelli told us that we should always be able to examine our puppies' mouths, ears and feet. So, the test of the night was to see if our beloved pets would allow Beth to examine their mouths, ears and feet.

"How many of you clip your dog's toenails?" she asked.

The room went quiet. But owner John Settle was ahead of the rest of us. He admitted to clipping at least one of Sadie's toenails. Sadie is a basset hound and is so adorable. She also was the first one on the table for the trainer to examine. Sadie was excellent. I really didn't want Tank to be next in line because Sadie was a tough act to follow. Not only that, but I really wasn't sure how he would react. I'm always taking things out of his mouth and he gets examined by the vet on a regular basis but I was a little skeptical. And I voiced my concerns to the trainer. But Beth is wonderful and once Tank was on the box, she looked in his mouth and ears. She also messed with his feet and legs. And Tank let her! I was so proud.

Anyway, Tank has a lot of great classmates and I will introduce them to you in next week's blog.

For the rest of this week, Tank and I will be perfecting "out" and will start on "off." When he jumps up on me, I say "off." He hasn't gotten the hang of that one yet.

Photos: Daisy's autograph (paw print); Tank being "examined" by trainer Beth Scorzelli.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Puppy training saga continues

I'm getting ready for the second week of training tonight with my Rotweiller puppy, Tank.
As far as the home training goes, Tank has been doing OK, although I'm sure if I didn't have the treats he wouldn't be quite as cooperative.
We've been working on "out," as in go "out" the door. At first, he would just sit and stare at me. And if I reached for his collar to take (or rather drag) him outside, he would turn and run into the living room or under the table in the dining room where he thought I couldn't get him. So, I bribed him with a treat. Initially, he would just look at the treat but he couldn't resist when I put it right under his nose. Once he came out of hiding, I would walk to the door, point outside and say "out." Of course I had the treat in my hand. Pretty soon, he started walking out of the house. We still have a long way to go, but it's a start.
Anyway, I'm not sure what's in store for us tonight at Red River. I just hope Tank continues to behave and get his act together.
In the meantime, I'm waiting for more tips from you guys.

Summer remediation

School is almost out — again — for the more than 2,000 Caddo Parish students attending the summer remediation program.
And it was business as usual Tuesday at Donnie Bickham Middle School as students and teachers concentrated on the lessons of the day.
Cooper Knecht, summer school principal at Donnie Bickham, said there are about 10 more instructional days before testing.
"We’re about halfway through," Knecht said. "There are approximately 300 (eighth and 10th grade) students at this site."
Wanda Gunn, assistant superintendent of academic affairs, said overall, "We normally run around 2,500 students overall for remediation and then we have the fee program (at Huntington High) at about 3,000."
Parents were provided with a resource kit informing them of what is expected during the program.
After the summer retest, eighth-graders may be promoted to the ninth grade if they have scored at the approaching basic level on both the English/language arts and mathematics components of LEAP. They also must have met the required 45 of 50 hours for summer remediation in each subject area.
And for the seniors who pass the GEE, a summer graduation will be held.
"We take all the schools and we have the ceremony at Caddo Magnet High because they normally don’t have any seniors that need it so it’s a neutral site," said Wanda Gunn, assistant superintendent for academic affairs.
"They wear their caps and gowns with the colors of their schools. It’s a real special graduation with a motivational speaker."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sprucing up playground

Members of the Rotary Club of South Shreveport will be raking, pulling weeds and sprucing up the Right to Play playground on Youree Drive at A.C. Steere Park from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday.
This playground is designed for children with various physical challenges. The Rotary Club has provided funds for the past two years to purchase playground equipment and members help maintain the playground area.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Summer food program beneficial

This is the first year Patricia Lewis (pictured) has brought children to the summer food program at the Boys and Girls Club in Bossier City.
But it probably won't be the last.
The program started Monday and ends July 31.
Lewis heard about the program from her niece, Lesha Payton, whose kids Karrington Cook, 8, and Koran Cook, 7, participate in the program.
Payton, who tutors children at the Boys & Girls Club, said the summer food program is an excellent program.
"This is a great program and it helps provide nutritious meals to kids during the summer," she said.
Lewis was at the Boys and Club today with grandkids Jayla Thomas, 8, and Jonathan Kinsey, 4; and stepchildren, Dee Caldwell, 4, and Sharda Caldwell, 7.
"It gives kids something to do and helps keep them off the streets," Lewis said about the program.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Bossier City is one of seven summer food sites sponsored by the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana.
Kimberly Harper, (right) unit director at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Bossier City, said the program has gradually been building.
"We have about 50 to 60 kids a day and a lot of them come right around lunch time and breakfast time, because when school is out they don’t have anywhere to get food," she said. "I think it’s good because a lot of kids that would be hungry can get something to eat. They appreciate it and that’s the best thing about it."
This year the Food Bank has access to pre-packages called Meal Breaks.
A peek into a Meal Breaks box revealed beef sticks, peanuts, apple sauce, a cookie and juice.
There’s no cooking involved, which makes it easier on the different agencies.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Let the training begin

OK. As promised, here is my first update on obedience training with my puppy Tank. The first class was last night and I was more nervous than Tank. First, I didn’t know whether to take the long leash or the short one so I took both. And I just knew Tank was going to "go" on the floor once we got there so I took lots of paper towels.
Usually Tank rides in his crate but recently he has been getting car sick so I left the crate home, covered the back seats of the car and put him back there. Big mistake. He wanted to ride up front with me and my son Aaron. By the time we got to class, Aaron’s arm was covered in scratches and bite marks. This definitely was a problem that had to be fixed.
Tank doesn’t like to be on a leash but he did very well walking across the street — without any pulling or prodding from us — to the class. However, a puppy named Daisy wasn’t about to do that and her owner had to pick her up and carry her across the street. And Daisy isn’t a small dog.
Anyway, during the class we practiced sit, down, stay and come when called. Tank did everything he was told, although I think it was because of the treats I had in my hand. After class, the trainer worked with Tank on his biting. I told her he probably wouldn’t try to bite her because he is shy with strangers. She had been playing with Tank for just a few seconds when he started trying to bite. She told him to stop and when he didn’t, she grabbed his collar and held on tight. Tank was at her mercy. So what did he do? He starts hollering as if she is trying to kill him. She still held on. Finally Tank settled down and she let go. He tucked what little bit of tail he has and trotted off. She called him back to give him a treat. And even though Tank usually is playing when he is biting, the trainer said never let a puppy do something that you don’t want him to do when he gets bigger.
"You don’t want a 90-pound dog biting on you," she said.
By the way, Tank didn’t "go" on the floor but another puppy did. Now I won’t feel so bad when he does.
Remember, send me any training tips or let me know about your own dog training issues.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Training the dog

OK. I've taken on a big task.

I've enrolled my puppy Tank (pictured) in dog obedience school at Red River Obedience Training Club. He's a Rottweiler and I know he's going to be a big dog so I want to be able to control him. He's three months old and weighs 24 pounds. Right now, all he does is sit (see photo) when I tell him, and not for very long.

Anyway, I went to the orientation class last night to find out exactly what will happen in the next four weeks. I found out that everyone starts out with 200 points and the points go away as you make mistakes. I'm just going to say I already have 0 points. And, at the end of the training, there is a graduation where Top Dog will be named. I can forget about that, too. It's not that I don't have confidence in my puppy. I do. I have confidence that he will do exactly what he does best: show out. He'll probably be the first one to poop on the floor. And he'll probably be afraid of the other dogs.

Anyway, the first class is tonight and I'm going to share my dog training experience with you in this blog. But I also would like for you to share any dog-training tips with me because I'll have to train him at home, too. That's real scary. Maybe I should start watching Dog Whisperer. At the end of the training period, I'll write a column detailing the training both at Red River and at home and I'll include any tips I get along the way.
So stick with me because I'm really going to need all the support I can get. Look for my update on tonight's training.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Summer food service

The Northwest Louisiana Food Bank is participating in the Summer Food Service program. Free meals will be provided to all children who participate.
Meal sites include:
Volunteers of America North Louisiana Highland Center Corp., 520 Olive St. Shreveport; June 4 to July 31 Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
Boys & Girls Club of Claiborne Parish, 763 Lyons Hill, Homer; June 4 to July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast 8 a.m.- 9 a.m., lunch noon-2 p.m.
Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, 1518 Cox St., Bossier City; June 4 to July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast 8 a.m.-9 a.m., lunch, noon-2 p.m.
Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,2932 Murphy St., Shreveport; June 4-29, Monday-Friday; breakfast 8 a.m.- 9 a.m., lunch noon-2 p.m.
Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, YWCA, 700 Pierre Ave., Shreveport; June 4-July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; lunch, noon-2 p.m.
We Care Ministries,549 Military Highway, Ringgold; June 4-July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; lunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Boys & Girls Club of Claiborne Parish, 9842 Hwy 79, Haynesville; June 4-July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast 8 a.m.-9 a.m., lunch noon-1 p.m.
Volunteers of America Lighthouse,2101 Scott St. Bossier City; June 4-July 31; Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast 8 a.m.-9 a.m., lunch noon-2 p.m.
Volunteers of America Lighthouse,802 Travis St.. Shreveport; June 4-July 31, Monday-Friday, closed July 4; breakfast, 8 a.m.-9 a.m., lunch noon-2 p.m.

Friday, June 1, 2007

National Hunger Awareness Day

In observance of Hunger Awareness Day, which is Tuesday, the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana is partnering with Brookshire’s on Line Avenue for the “Check Out Hunger Food Drive.”
Volunteers and staff will collect food and distribute information about hunger in the community. In conjunction, Brookshire’s is holding a food drive through June 10 called “Check Out Hunger.” Pre-assembled bags of food will be available for purchase and donation at the checkout stands for $5, $10 or $15.
Food collected during this time will help the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana further its mission to eliminate hunger in the community.

Time to swim

Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation is gearing up for its 2007 summer swim programs, with some changes in store.
Lori Upchurch, SPAR aquatics director, said when the pools open Wednesday, they will be offering eight lessons instead of seven.
"And we’re focusing a great deal on water safety," Upchurch said.
"We are always concerned with pool safety. This year in the Learn to Swim program, we are doing a lot more education with pool safety; not just when they’re with us," she said. "We’re doing a lot of education for them in activities in and around the water.
Upchurch also said the SPAR recreation centers will be rotating throughout the summer at different pools and the swimming lessons will be free for children enrolled in the summer program at the centers.
"We have 16 recreation centers and 10 pools," she said, adding that once a week a center will go to a pool.

Pool locations
 A.B Palmer
500 E. 79th St.
 Airport Park
6500 Kennedy Drive
 Anderson Island
2700 Wendy Lane
 David Raines
1625 David Raines Road
2820 Pershing Blvd.
3500 Beverly Place
 Southern Hills
1002 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop
1800 Viking Drive
 Bill Cockrell (Westside)
4133 Pines Road
700 Pierre Ave
— Source: www.myspar.org