How can I thank them enough? DVE’s Val Porter, her boyfriend, Tim Mackin, and Jeff Woods, dog trainer extraordinaire. I confess, I would not have had the patience Val and Tim have had with Geno, and they are an example of how owners who are willing to take the time, and give the firm love, can turn a dog around. Val says it was Tim who initially was determined to rehabilitate Geno. Val was at her wit’s end. But she has stepped up, and ramped up her “authoritative” self.

The Growl Class went more smoothly than I expected, and some people told me it was mild compared to some of them. When aggressive dogs are introduced, apparently they can be hard to bring in line. I really admired the vet, Robin Dutra, who adopted the Catahoula Leopard Dog. Pearl was also part Pit Bull, she thought. But I know some breeders who cross with Roddies. She was right. He loved people. But he got to close to a dog in front of him, and she was on him in a flash. It would have been adorable, if it hadn’t been potentially dangerous. I think she is going to make it with him.

I also loved meeting Baron, and his owner, Annette Wegg. Baron had been in Growl Class for a long time, and finally was in a regular class. Beautiful German Shepherd Dog. German lines, and trained in German. I asked if I could give him a treat, and she said she didn’t know if he would take it. He did, but I didn’t find out until later, on the phone, that he had never taken a treat from a stranger. Wish I had known. I wouldn’t have been so brazen to do it. She works with him everyday, and it shows.

We have gotten a lot of calls and emails from folks who didn’t see it or get the name, so here it is. Jeff is very humble, and says other dog trainers have similar socialization classes, but I don’t know their numbers, so here is Jeff’s. Misty Pines, 412-364-4122. Hope it helps.

While I am at it, I’d like to thank a couple of people. First, the wonderful folks who put on the Autism Speaks fundraiser at Nevillewood on Friday, July 13. Doug and Donna Lund, and Donna’s parents, Fran and Sue Prezioso pulled it together, and did an amazing job for their first event, especially when wind whipped through and almost elevated their tent–they were scurrying around to move all auction items inside. I helped them do the live auction in which the audience was more than generous. I have done a number of these, and I sound like a fish wife. What is a fish wife, anyway? I think I know the derivation of the term, but let’s not go there. Anyway, people just came up with vacation homes to donate, so it got a bit chaotic, but raised lots of money for a cause that needs more publicity. They showed a 12 minute documentary, called “Autism Everyday,” which was just interviews with mothers of autistic children, and the struggle both they , and the children, and other family members, all have. It didn’t pull any punches, but was incredibly moving, and I think was a major factor in people digging deeply when it came time to bid. The film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. 1 in every 150 children are diagnosed with autism, and 1 in 94 are boys. We can only pray that new research finds out more about the genetic components, and uncovers the environmental triggers that are suspected.

And a last thank you to an employee at WTAE who has gone on to a new job with a major international PR firm. Angela Braun was beautiful, intelligent, and one of the most pleasant people in the newsroom. She had her Masters from the heralded Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, and looked like the actress Kate Bosworth. Mike and I will miss her, but wish her every success.

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