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Friday, April 16, 2021

A second dog crumb...from Abu Dhabi

Monica Elkhalifa lives in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. When her six-year-old Shiba Inu became impossible to entertain with long walks and toys, she taught him some new tricks. She says, "I just thought it would be fun to teach him a few numbers, just an exercise to keep him busy. I was overjoyed when he learned the number four. After that, he quickly learned five to ten. I had to develop new ideas to keep him mentally active and build on earlier lessons.
With a tap of his paw, Akira, who knows more than 90 words, can also do simple addition problems by pointing to the card with the correct answer. Shiba Inus are very clever and independent. Akira often looks behind the television to see where the people and animals are. He now trains five times a week, in ten minute sessions, and Monica says he looks forward to it and it's making him more calm. The next challenge is to master subtraction.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thumbs up means she's a good girl.

A 10-year-old Norfolk collie named Peggy was unable to continue herding sheep when she became deaf at age 8. Peggy's owner subsequently relinquished her to the care of a local animal shelter, where animal welfare manager Chloe Shorten and her husband Jason took her home. They already had two other sheepdogs, and soon realized that Peggy wasn't happy woolgathering, so they came up with another solution.
Chloe remembers, "We started by teaching her to look at us for hand signals." Peggy eventually learned to respond to body language instead of traditional verbal commands. Chloe says it took time for Peggy to "learn that we love her, and understand our praise." These days, while Peggy is semi-retired, she still heads out with the flock from time to time, happy in the knowledge that a "thumbs up" means she's a good girl.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

"They were my kids. They still are."

A group of Louisiana State University fraternity brothers always felt their fraternity house cook was like a mother. So when they discovered she has been working two jobs to pay off her mortgage, they decided to help. Alumnae of Phi Gamma Delta learned their former cook, Jessie Hamilton, now 73, had 16 years left on her mortgage. To make the payments, she was working as a cleaner at Baton Rouge Memorial Airport, and as a cook at a country club. She needed $45,000 to pay it off.
During her years at the FIJI house, from 1982 to 1996, Hamilton, a single mother of three, would start her day at 4 a.m. to get to campus in time to have the boys breakfast, lunch and dinner ready. She was a listening ear, who also drove them to doctor's appointments. She stayed in touch with some of them, including Andrew Fusaiotti, 52, who owns a car dealership in Mobile, Alabama. When he heard of her need, he alerted his fraternity brothers, and in the end, 91 brothers donated an average of $560 each to give their former cook $51,765 -- enough to pay off her mortage plus $6,765 to enjoy. She said, "They used to tell me they loved me, and now they've proved it."

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Who would keep them together?

It all began in January, 2019, as Pam Willis scanned Facebook. She saw a post titled "Seven Siblings in Need of Forever Home." She says it hit her "like a ton of bricks." The children's parents had died in a car accident one year earlier, and they had been placed in foster care. Pam tagged her husband Gary on the post. By day's end, they decided to adopt them ALL. "If not us, then who?" she asked. "Who would keep them together?"
Pam and Gary already had a six-bedroom home, and the last bedroom would soon be vacant. "Why else would our nest that had raised our first five babies be empty just in time?" she wondered. "It was only to make room for our new babies." Two months after making initial contact with the foster care agency, Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, 9, Anthony, 8, Aubriella, 7, Leo, 5, and Xander, 4, were placed with Pam and Gary.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Happy birthday to an unsung hero

In May, 1944, a 23-year-old British secret agent named Phyllis Latour Doyle parachuted into occupied Normandy to gather intelligence on Nazi positions in preparation for D-Day. Taking advantage of the fact that Nazi occupiers and their French collaborators were less suspicious of women than men,she posed as a poor, teenage French girl selling soap. She used the knitting she always carried to hide her secret codes.
"I always carried knitting because my codes were on a piece of silk. I had about 2,000 codes I could use. When I used a code I would pinprick it to indicate it had gone. I wrapped the piece of silk around a knitting needle and put it in a flat shoe lace which I used to tie my hair up," she remembers. For 70 years, her contributions to the war effort were largely unheralded, but she was finally given her due in 2014, when she was awarded France's highest honor, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. She celebrates her 99th birthday this month.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

First grader deserves an A++

Kamryn Gardner is seven years old and attends first grade at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, Arkansas. Earlier this year, her class studied how to write a persuasive letter. Each student used lined paper to write a letter, but Kamryn's letter was so persuasive that it went viral. She was disappointed with girl's jeans at Old Navy, since the front pockets were always fake. In her letter, she told Old Navy that she wanted to put her hands in her pockets, or put things in them.
Not only did Old Navy write back. The firm also mailed her four pairs of new girl jeans with REAL front pockets. When she returned from spring break, the box was waiting at school, and she surprised. She assumed it was a birthday gift. Old Navy wrote, "Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us abaout pockets on girl's jeans. Our kids product team appreciates your information." So now that Kamryn has her jeans, the only question is, what grade will she earn for her persuasive letter? We recommend A++.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The secret of graceful aging

He may be best known for his rooftop dance while playing a chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins," but Dick Van Dyke hasn't slipped quietly into retirement since his 1964 breakthrough role. In fact, the 95-year-old has been caught doing all sorts of good deeds over the years. His latest kindness? This month, he showed up at Los Angeles' Malibu Community Labor Exchange and began handing our cash to job seekers waiting in line outside the non-profit.
Helping others has been an important part of Van Dyke's life for decades. He's known for spending over 20 years volunteering at a Los Angeles shelter called The Midnight Mission. The secret of aging gracefully may just be taking a few steps in Van Dyke's shoes, by giving to others, and dancing and singing whenever we can.