Making good canine ‘citizens’

Thanks to Al Diamon for his “Pariah Dogs” column last week. As he made clear, a call for breed bans in Maine is based on fearful imaginings rather than reality. Janis Bradley, author of “Dogs Bite But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous,” combed statistics from the Centers for Disease Control to put dog bites and fatal attacks into perspective nationally.

Among her findings: One is five times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a dog. Children, more often than adults, are victims of fatal dog attacks, but a child is 82 times more likely to be killed by family or friends.

Drowning kills 208 times more children, guns 49 times more children, and bicycles 48 times more children. Let us not ignore the tragedy of any such deaths, but trying to outlaw these possibilities would be absurd.

Most dogs of “dangerous breeds” prefer not to [be aggressive] at all. Of the 51 pit bulls taken from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in April 2007, 47 were thriving in foster or forever homes 20 months later.

In 1995, I heard veterinary behaviorist Ian Dunbar discuss research by a graduate student at UC-Berkeley. The project explored what kinds of interactions preceded dog bites to children and, accordingly, assessed traits of various breeds. The surprising conclusion was that “a well-bred, well-socialized” rottweiler is the safest dog to have in a home with young children.

As a dog trainer, I’ve met such outstandingly good-natured rotties (as well as sweet pit-bull types) that I adopted one: Jolly Good Fellow, who became a Canine Good Citizen, a registered therapy dog, and a welcome visitor to area schools and the library. By what reasoning should owning such a dog be illegal?

Regardless of breed, a well-socialized dog understands that there are a thousand degrees of bite and chooses not to break flesh when an air snap will do — bite inhibition that is learned via play throughout a pup’s first four months. Equally important, a puppy needs to learn social confidence through positive encounters with dozens of unfamiliar people, dogs and situations before reaching 14-16 weeks of age. Otherwise, the adolescent dog is hard-wired to begin experiencing new situations as scary or suspect.

Mr. Diamon is correct that keeping the public safe from your dog (and your dog safe from the public) is easier if the dog is neutered and that it is imperative for your dog to be securely contained when you are not present. Responsible owners also exercise their dogs daily so that frustrations and excess energy do not build up in their pets.

They socialize and train so that they can guide their dogs’ behavior. They do not allow dogs and children to mix without supervision. In a society that tolerates no communication with teeth, it is the owner’s job to keep a dog on the right side of skin and law — and, evidently, to watch out for misguided legislative proposals, lest they bite us where it hurts.

Lane Fisher,

Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed

Belfast

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RE: Democrats and Democracy

There are times when one gets tired of arguing with people. However, the latest tirade deserves an answer because of the obtuse thinking of the writer.

There is an attack on the president for stating that the people who want to build a center near ground zero have a constitutional right to do so and then an attack on the president for not “honoring our Constitution by enforcing our laws,” followed by a demand that he do the exact opposite.

I wonder what laws he doesn’t get; Maybe the first amendment or maybe it’s the fourth amendment. Like the president challenging illegal search and seizures as per Arizona. I’ve heard others say similar things, but none can really cite where the Constitution or laws are not being honored. Instead we get a lot of rhetoric not backed by facts.

Then it’s blame the Democrats, by twisting history, for an economic recession (delivered high unemployment) that started in 2007, two years before this president came on board. There is outrage that our president, who inherited an economic downfall, possibly caused by the economic policies of the past administration and [which] rivals the depression of the ’30s, hasn’t by some miracle pulled us completely out of it.

There are those who dwell on the negative. If jobs were saved, don’t mention those, and only mention those that have been lost. If a business was kept from going under, hide your eyes and only see those that have gone under. Don’t mention that unemployment in the last 30 years surged under every Republican president and workers’ wages stagnated while CEOs’ wages boomed, which probably was a contributing factor of the recession. Don’t acknowledge that the Democrats fended off a deeper recession and somewhat stabilized the economy.

I guess if a fence wasn’t adopted during a Republican-dominated presidency and Congress, that’s OK. Only Democrats should be held accountable for unmet wishes. Besides, what a waste of millions of our dollars. The illegals would climb it, tunnel under it or just go through it as the East Germans did with the Berlin wall,

Financially, the last administration went from five plus trillion [dollars] to 10+ plus trillion, a doubling of the debt, with no outcry from conservatives. Currently we are at 12 trillion, an increase of two plus trillion during Obama’s tenure (three trillion less than Bush) during a unique time, and the conservatives blame (using their biased math) all 13  trillion on Obama.

In their world, it’s OK for Republicans to double the national debt, but the Democrats shouldn’t raise it, no matter what the circumstances. Plus, if the last administration hadn’t given those huge tax cuts to their wealthy friends, we wouldn’t have had this large debt.

Lastly, democracy is the control of a group by the majority of its members. Weren’t the Democrats elected by a majority of the people? I guess some just don’t get it, so they act like some third-rate political party more in tune with say, Hamas.

Hal Halliday

Belfast

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Giles supports Baker

I am writing to encourage support for Lewis Baker as a candidate for state representative representing Belfast, Belmont and Northport, an office I now hold. Lew is currently a Belfast city councilor. He has served our community for 25 years in many public roles, including: MSAD 34 School Board chair, Belfast Planning Board chair, and the Belfast Zoning Appeals Board.

The next Maine Legislature faces significant challenges. First and foremost is the looming $1 billion shortfall in the 2011 biennium budget. Second, the state’s retirement system is underfunded by $4 billion. Finally, over 56,000 Maine citizens remain unemployed.

To fix this, we need a stable economy with greater opportunities for Maine people. State government expenses need to be controlled. The line needs to be held on tax increases. Plus, some very hard decisions must be made on the state pension system.

This is why I support Lew Baker. Lew has a fiscally sound track record as a city councilor. Lew is a proponent of creating new jobs. I served with Lew on a past city commission and found him to be extremely knowledgeable of city laws. Lew comes to meetings prepared and asks good questions. Lew approaches issues thoroughly and thoughtfully. These are the exact skills needed to be an effective state legislator.

Lew offers both experience and willingness to do the job right. Lew Baker has my vote for state representative on Nov. 4.

Jayne Crosby Giles
State Representative
House District #43
Belfast, Belmont and Northport

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Super support for school supplies

One week before Searsport schools opened on Monday, Aug. 30, while shopping for school items to donate to elementary sSchool students or others who might not possess basic articles needed, my daughter and I thought people in our church (The First Congregational) might like to contribute to the cause. And maybe other people in other churches in town might be interested in taking part. So, Sunday morning the word went out.

The object of this letter is to say a great big thank you to all who participated. It was a huge success! The teachers were grateful for the generosity shown and they and the students were excited and appreciative of the two large tables loaded with items that will be useful through much of the year. Again, thank you.

Valerie N. Murphy and
Dr. Karen L. M. Kelley
Searsport

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Gala was grand

The staff and trustees of the Carver Memorial Library wish to thank everyone who made our 100th birthday party such a success: The Belfast band; Wayne Hamilton, for sponsoring the band’s performance; Janelle Delicata, for overseeing the tile-painting project; Forest Taber, our volunteer photographer; Ron Leighton, for his incredible birthday cake; everyone who participated in the celebration and made it such a wonderful event; and finally, the citizens of Searsport for their support for the past 100 years.

Thank you.

Marjorie Knuuti

President, Carver Memorial Library Association Board of Trustees

Searsport

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Game Loft gives thanks

The Game Loft would like to thank the many people who helped make our “1968: Gone but not Forgotten” project a huge success. We would like to give special thanks to the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Community Foundation, as well as our local funders: Elm Street Printing and Graphics, McDonalds, Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce, MacLeod’s Furniture, Scoops and Crepes, All About Games, Out on a Whimsy, Out of the Woods, Healthy Waldo Maine and Tom and Lori Foster. We would also like to thank the following collaborators: Belfast Historical Museum, Northeast Historic Film, Belfast Summer Nights, Belfast Free Library, Our Town Belfast and the Maine Folklife Center.

We would also like to thank Ellen Marlow for her work as project coordinator and Reva Soto for her work in program research and as cast leader. Other thanks go to Debbie Littlefield Bird, Miss Belfast and Miss Broiler Queen 1967, for helping to judge our contests, the Jake Watson Band (Randy Nichols, Nathan Howard, Dominic Williams and Noah Fishman), Animal Magnetism Band of Blue Hill, Heather and Scott MacDonald of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and our many, many volunteers and participants.

Thanks also to the vintage car owners who participated in our program. A special thanks to Randy Nichols for coming back from his first day at college to play the role of Jake Watson, teen idol of Norumbega County. For photos and report on the event you may visit thegameloft.org. Thank you, Belfast, for hosting our 2010 community-based learning event.

Ray and Patricia Estabrook

Co-Directors, The Game Loft

Belfast

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Sardine Extravaganza a success

The Sardine Extravaganza was a great success. We had upwards of 250 people singing and dancing to the herring on the walking bridge, by the site of the old Belfast Sardine Factory.

I want to especially thank composer Anna Dembska of Camden, who created the Herring Chant and led the ad hoc Sardine Singers, for a beautiful new piece that tied the parade and singing on the bridge all together! And of course the fabulous Belfast Bay Fiddlers, Drum and Rabble Corps and Chrissy Fowler for ganging up with me to carry the whole performance off.

There is also a long list of gratitudes on BelfastHarborFest.com under the Sardine Extravaganza page, but here I would like to thank the Rotary Club Harbor Fest Committee for taking on the Sardine Extravaganza, Coyote Moon, the Maine Community Foundation and Barbara Maria’s writing group for pitching in the bulk of the funding for our great performers and David Black for providing his lobster boat.

Then the last-minute stage crew who are not listed anywhere else. Thank you Nancy Killoran, Ellen Sander, Kenny Cole, Doug Smith, J.J. Carrick, Theo and Liza Kriel, David Demere, Dean Anderson, Eileen, Paul and Ben, plus a rash of Rotarians who helped at a dicey moment.

And lastly my deepest gratitude and joy to all of you who came and participated! I had a great vision, but the question always was “will they come?” And you did, so I thank you, a great community!

Karin Spitfire
Belfast

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BCOPE says thanks

The Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education wishes to express its thanks to the following area vendors for selling our spring literary magazine: Mr. Paperback, the Belfast Coop, Roots & Tendrils, and Hannaford Supermarket. Their willingness to sell the BCOPE Writing Workshop Magazine has allowed our voices to be heard. Thank you for your support. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Lindsay Farmer and the Graphic Arts program at the Waldo County Technical Center for production and publication of the literary magazine.

Luke Harrington

BCOPE

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SWLA appreciates support

The Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance wishes to acknowledge a grant of $1,250 received from the Maine Community Foundation to support a strategic planning retreat the group held this past summer. Out of the facilitated retreat will come a three-year plan to guide the land trust’s activities and priorities. This support follows up on MCF funding received in 2007 for a conservation plan developed for the entire Sheepscot River Watershed in cooperation with two other land trusts. SWLA recently purchased the 410-acre Whtten Hill property in Montville. SWLA’s conservation work is dependent upon the foresight and support of individuals and foundations like the Maine Community Foundation. We are deeply appreciative.

Buck O’Herin
SWLA Executive Director

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Crosby’s “last class” — the class of ’65

On July 24, the class of ’65 held their 45th class reunion. It was held at Stonecrest in Waldo. We had 65 classmates and guests. Weaver’s Bakery cooked a great chicken barbecue dinner like at the old Bay Festival at City Park. Thanks, Mark and crew.

We had a great time just talking and [listening to] music from 65 years with Dick Philbrook and Don Nickerson accompanied by Ron Anderson. You were great, and everyone enjoyed it.

Class President Ben Benner held a short meeting. We are asking for input into a 50th reunion in five years. We also remember our classmates who have passed away.

I would like to say thanks to Diane Finley, who worked hard to update addresses and e-mails. We still couldn’t find a few. Thank you also to Barb, Ruth, Puss, Meredith, Ann and Mary. We made it work.

We have rhythm, we have jive; we’re the class of ’65.

Leon Gallant

On behalf of the last class from Crosby

Belfast