Peoria High students training puppies for service-dog roles

Students at Peoria High School may see several cuddly new additions when they come back to school next year.

Through a new 18-month Puppy Raising Program, 12 students will have a puppy to raise and train every day to become affordable service dogs for military, police, fire and emergency servicemen and women who were injured while on duty.

Students will be assigned a puppy to live with. They will bring the puppy to classes, home and to work as part of their training and care.

The four-credit pilot program is a school partnership with the Foundation for Service Dog Support, a non-profit organization that supports disabled and impaired individuals who have or need a service dog.

Gail Meserve, the lead instructor, will teach students how to train dogs to perform such tasks as opening doors and picking up objects and handing it to their owner. The class will also teach dog safety and care.

Meserve said that through grants and donations, the fully trained service dogs coming out of the program will cost $5,000 instead of $20,000 through a service-dog agency.

C.J. Betancourt, director of the Foundation for Service Dog Support, said the partnership was a wonderful idea and should continue after the first year.

“I am really excited about the program, because I’ve felt it’s been a long time coming,” Betancourt said. “This has never been done before, and I hope to bring it to other high schools in the state.”

Jan Delgado, internship coordinator for Peoria High, said the program is the first of its kind in the district and that participating students will learn not only how to train service dogs but about the community they are serving.

“The students are providing a great service to the community,” she said. “They will have something that will help someone else get their life back.”

Delgado said the first recipient of a student-trained service dog will be Bill Weigt, a Peoria police officer who was shot in the chest in 2005. Weigt is disabled from the chest down.

The class is open only to juniors, and students who sign up must also go through an interview with a four-person panel.

Andrea Ramirez, 16, signed up for the program. She said she knows it will be hard to raise and train a puppy every day but that it is worth it because of the greater purpose it serves.

“Knowing that someone will benefit from all the work I do and the experience that I will get is a good reason to sign up,” Ramirez said. “It works out for everyone.”

Great Homeade gift ideas for your dog

Dog Dress With Pattern

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Dress up your dog with adorable custom dog clothing you can make yourself. This free dog dress pattern was originally designed for a Chihuahua, but can be modified to fit larger breeds. See Jenny Kitchens’ Etsy store for her dog dresses at

PDF Jenny Kitchens’ Dog Dress Skirt Pattern

PDF Jenny Kitchens’ Dog Dress Bodice Pattern

soft measuring tape

1/2-yard soft cotton patterned fabric (amount of fabric will vary depending on dog’s size)

1/2-yard lightweight standard interfacing

4″ to 5″ strip of 1″ wide white sewable Velcro


fabric shears


decorative buttons, bows or appliques



Figure A

1. Resize the pattern. This part may be difficult if your dog is not extra small, but there are some ways around it. The dress pattern was originally designed to fit a Chihuahua with a 14-1/2″ chest (figure A). If you print the current pattern at full size, 100 percent, it will fit a dog with a 12-14 inch chest. Note: For a dog much larger than this, the skirt pattern piece won’t fit on a standard 8-1/2″ x 11″ page. For a dog with a chest larger than 12 inches neither piece will fit on a page.Options:

  • Take the printed pattern to a print shop and ask them to resize it on larger paper.
  • Download the images to your computer and open them in a graphics or photo editor. Resize the patterns to the proper size. Increase the size of each pattern piece accordingly.

Figure B

2. Cut two fabric pieces on the fold for the skirt pattern (figure B). Cut two fabric pieces on the fold for the bodice pattern. Bodice pieces should be two inches larger than the dog’s chest.

3. Place the two bodice pieces right sides together with interfacing on the bottom (figure C). Sew along the lines indicated using a 1/2-inch seam (figure D). Note: Do not sew the bottom edge where no lines are present. Leave it open so that you can turn the bodice right-side-out to attach the skirt.4. Once the bodice is sewn together, clip each corner where the neck and the waist meet to ensure that the seam will lay flat once it is top-stitched.


Figure C


Figure D


Figure E

5. Turn the bodice right-side-out, making sure that the corners are square (a dull pointed object such as a chopstick can be used) (figure E).


Figure F

6. Place the two skirt pieces right-sides-together and sew along the lines indicated. Do not sew the top edge where no lines are present; this is the gather line (figure F).7. The skirt has a hemline and a gather line. Hem the skirt first along the dotted line using a 1/2-inch seam.

8. Using scissors, clip along the bottom edge of the skirt every 1/2-inch before turning it right-side-out.

9. Next, sew the gather line, but do not gather the last inch on both sides. Gather it just enough so that it fits into the bodice.

10. Attach the bodice to the skirt (figure G). To hide the seams on the inside of the dress, pin your gathered skirt between the two layers and sew in place (figure H).


Figure G


Figure H


Figure I

11. Embellish with buttons, bows or appliques (figure I). Tip: It is recommended that you topstitch the dress once it’s completed for a more finished look..


Figure J

12. Attach two 2-1/2″ pieces of Velcro by sewing them onto the neck and waist pieces of the bodice (figure J).

Hemp Dog Collar

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Sew a sturdy collar that will hold up to the elements as well as your dog’s roughhousing. This eco-friendly hemp collar can be customized with matching or contrasting thread.Materials:

1 yard of very heavy weight fabric (hemp canvas)

thread to match/contrast with fabric

1″ side release buckle

1″ wide mouth slip lock

sewing machine



Figure A

1. Measure your dog’s neck and add 11″ (figure A).


Figure B

2. Cut two strips of fabric 2 1/4″ wide by the length determined in Step 1 (figure B).


Figure C

3. Pin the two strips of fabric together and sew them along the two long edges and one short edge, 5/8″ in, creating a tube (figure C). Make sure to leave one of the short edges open.


Figure D

4. Trim the edges, leaving only 1/4″ of fabric extending beyond the stitching (figure D).


Figure E

5. Attach a safety pin to the sewn, short side of the collar and push it up through the tube, turning the collar inside out (figure E).6. Press seams, ironing the tube flat.


Figure F

7. Fold the ends of the un-sewn side 5/8″ into the tube and top stitch closed 1/8″ from the edge (figure F).8. Top stitch the other three sides of the collar 1/8″ from edge.


Figure G

9. Thread collar through slip lock buckle and fold back approximately 1 1/2″ to make a loop around the center bar. Sew loop together by stitching a 1″ square with an X in it several times (figure G).10. Separate the two halves of the buckle.

11. Pass the collar through one half of the buckle from the inside of the buckle to the outside of the buckle.


Figure H

12. Double the collar back over itself, threading the free end through the opening in the slip lock buckle that is on the same side as the folded tail. Now pass the end back down through the other opening in the slip lock buckle (figure H).13. Slide other half of buckle, from the outside of the buckle to the inside of the buckle, onto free end of collar.


Figure I

14. Fold back approximately 1 1/2″ of the free end of the collar to make a loop around the buckle. Sew loop together by stitching a 1″ square with an X in it several times (figure I).

Fleece Rope Dog Toy

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Weave a sturdy rope toy that’s comfortable for you to tug and perfect for your dog to sink his or her teeth into. This rope is especially soft for dogs with new or sensitive teeth, but can be braided tightly for strong chewers.

Materials:3 1/4 yard pieces of different colored or patterned fleece

scissors or a rotary cutter

2 rubber bands



Figure A

1. Fold each piece of the fleece selvage to selvage to cut long strips (figure A). (Tip: Selvage is the end of the fabric with writing on it.)


Figure B

2. Cut three 4″ strips from the folded edge using scissors or a rotary cutter and a ruler (figure B). Note: A 4″ strip width will give you a “medium-width” dog toy. If you want it smaller or larger adjust the strip width.3. Unfold the fabric strips and stack one strip of each color/pattern together.


Figure C

4. Wrap a rubber band around the edge of the fleece, about 5″ from the end. Don’t worry about cutting off the edges with selvage at this point (figure C).


Figure D

5. Now braid the three strands together. Tip: The easiest way to get a tight braid is to hold the rubber band-wrapped edge between your knees, but you can also tape it or pin it to a solid work surface (figure D).


Figure E

6. Make sure the braid is nice and tight so it’s harder for the dog to get its teeth through. Make the braid about 20-27″ long, leaving some unbraided fleece at the end. This gives room to tie knots (figure E).7. Wrap the second rubber band on the end of the unbraided fleece.


Figure F

8. Make a knot that falls in the intersection of the unbraided and braided section (where the rubber band is located). This keeps the braid tighter (figure F).9. Cut the rubber band and pull the knot very tight. The tighter the knot the longer it will last for your dog.


Figure G

10. Trim both unbraided ends of the bone so they’re roughly the same length (figure G). The length of the ends is up to you. The rope made here is trimmed to 3″.


Figure H

11. Fringe the edges by cutting each end of the fleece into strips (figure H). (If you have a strong chewer you may want to skip this step.)12. If you find the rope is too long you can tie a knot or two in the center.

Breath Buster Mint Dog Cookies

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Keep your dog’s breath under control month after month with homemade breath mint cookies. The treats are safe for canines and can be stored for up to one month — if your dog doesn’t gobble them down sooner.

Amanda Toris and her dog show off Toris’ homemade dog cookie.



Materials:stand mixer with paddle attachment

rolling pin

cookie cutter

cookie sheet

parchment paper

cooling rack

air tight container


1/4 cup fresh mint

2 tsp. flax seed oil

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/8 cup wheat germ

3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 additional cup for dusting work surface


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Combine mint, flax seed oil, egg, milk and wheat germ in the stand mixer’s bowl.


Figure A


Figure B

3. Mix with paddle attachment on low speed for 30 seconds, or until all of the ingredients are well distributed (figure A).4. One cup at a time, add flour to mixture at medium speed. Once ingredients have been mixed, continue to add additional two cups in the same manner. Tip: If the dough seems too sticky after all three cups of flour have been added, continue to add flour from additional cup of flour set aside for dusting work surface until dough feels pliable.


Figure C

5. Place dough on dusted work surface (Figure B). Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1/4″ thickness (figure C).


Figure D


Figure E

6. Using your favorite cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes (figure D) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (figure E).7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Once cookies are finished baking, turn off the oven and leave the cookies to crisp for 3 hours.

8. Move cookies to a cooling rack and allow cookies to cool. Once completely cool, store cookies in an air tight container. Cookies may be kept for up to one month if kept in a cool, dry place.

Times are ruff, so they call on dog to save ’em

Saturday, November 22nd 2008, 10:45 PM


Deb Chusid, her son Jonah hope Louie can bring in the big bucks!

Like his laidoff owner, Louie the 5-pound wonder dog is waiting for work.

Deborah Chusid, 46, lost her advertising job on Sept. 26, another New York casualty of the economic downturn.

If that wasn’t bad enough, when she phoned her ex to ask him to put their 14-year-old son, Jonah, on his health plan, there was another blow. He had lost his job the same day.

Now what?

Chusid, frantic for ways to support herself and her son, took one look at the littlest man in the house – Louie – and heard opportunity barking.

Why not put the dog to work? Surely everyone would think Louie – a friendly black-and-white Mi-Ki named after Louis Armstrong – is as adorable as she and Jonah do.

A week later, Chusid e-mailed studio photos to Animals for Advertising, a midtown talent agency, and got the coveted callback: Bring Louie in.

“It’s a crappy economy and you have to do whatever it takes, including keeping a sense of humor,” Chusid said.

As the city’s economy continues to slide into the doghouse, New Yorkers are increasingly getting more creative about how to make ends meet. Realtors are driving cabs. Wall Street traders are selling cupcakes and teaching yoga.

Chusid is taking whatever freelance work she can get: She has looked into doing focus groups, which pay up to $200 for two hours, and now she can add canine stage mother to her résumé.

“He’s a dream,” Chusid gushed at her upper West Side apartment, patting Louie’s apple-domed head. “I can see him in a dog food commercial, pet catalogues, even a movie. If they ever make another “Star Wars,” they could cast him as Yoda.”

Louie apparently passed his screen test with canine composure – he was able to “sit-stay” for five long minutes, not distracted by the traffic outside the Time Warner Center.

Chusid said the mellow Louie should have a leg up on the competition because he is trained and certified as a therapy dog. Once a month, she and Jonah, a ninth-grader at Beacon High, take the rare-breed pooch to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia to visit patients – their way of giving something back after heart surgeons there saved Jonah’s grandparents.

For now, Chusid and Louie wait at home for the phone to ring with work. No calls yet.

“He’s a cute little dog,” said Linda Hanrahan, the president of Advertising for Animals and owner of the now departed Toonces the Cat of “Saturday Night Live” fame.

Hanrahan said she was moved by the family’s financial setback and would try to throw them a bone.

“Louie would be good sitting next to a fancy pocketbook, coming in or out of a limo with a beautiful woman … selling quality products,” said Hanrahan, an industry veteran.

As for the silver screen, she was more circumspect.

“He’d need more training. He would have to speak and hit marks and do all that,” said Hanrahan. “Clients want strange things from little dogs. They may want the dog to be held and bark, which is a hard thing to do. Dogs that work most in movies are mutts and terriers. The fancy dogs are in limos.”

Vick, co-defendants found humor in killing of helpless dogs

Posted: Saturday November 22, 2008 12:27AM; Updated: Saturday November 22, 2008 12:35AM

Michael Vick’s roots in dogfighting can be traced back to ’99 while at Virginia Tech

Vick recently moved from Kansas to Virginia, the site of his state dogfighting trial

Michael Vick is currently serving a 23-month prison sentence for pleading guilty to two felony charges of dogfighting.
Courtesy of Getty Images

ICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Michael Vick put family pets in rings with pit bulls and thought it was funny watching the trained killers injure or kill the helpless dogs, a witness told federal investigators during the dogfighting investigation that brought Vick down.

In a 17-page report filed Aug. 28, 2008, by case agent James Knorr of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and released Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, a person identified as confidential witness No. 1 said Vick placed pets in the ring against pit bulls owned by “Bad Newz Kennels” at least twice and watched as the pit bulls “caused major injuries.”

The witness said Vick and co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips “thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs belonging to Bad Newz Kennels injure or kill the other dogs.”

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison in Dec. 2007, and is due to be released from the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., on July 20, 2009. He returned to Virginia on Thursday and is being held in Hopewell pending his appearance in Surry County Circuit Court on Tuesday, where he is expected to plead guilty to two felony charges but receive a suspended sentence.

The report, which has some names and other information redacted to protect some of the parties involved, also details the killing of several dogs at property Vick owned on Moonlight Road in Surry County in mid-April 2007, just days before the first search warrant was executed on the property, turning a drug investigation into the one that sent Vick to prison.

It says Vick was administered a polygraph test by the FBI in October 2007 and denied taking part in the killing of dogs in mid-April. When told he had failed that part of the test, Vick recanted his story and admitted to helping hang six to eight underperforming dogs.

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, once the highest paid player in the NFL, has been suspended indefinitely by the league and his football future is uncertain. He’s also in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings with $16 million in assets and $20.4 million in liabilities.

Peace, who also was convicted in the case, said there were times he suggested that dogs unwilling to fight be given away, but that Vick said “they got to go,” meaning be killed.

The dogs were killed by shooting, hanging, electrocution and drowning, and in at least one instance, according to one of the witnesses, when Vick and Phillips killed a red pit bull by “slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck.”

When he finally admitted to his role in the dogfighting operation, Vick also said he purchased his first pull bull, named “Champagne,” while a student at Virginia Tech in 1999. The dog was never used in fights, but was bred with other dogs, according to the report.

Champagne was among the 53 pit bulls seized from the home in a raid in April 2007.


Bolt: Dog Gone Disney

Bolt, star of Bolt

Walt Disney started out with a mouse, 80 years ago this week, but his company has done all right by dogs too. If Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians can’t be numbered among the animation studio’s most ambitious projects, they both had a high satisfaction quotient. No wonder: the canine attributes of curiosity, affection and unshakable loyalty are an ideal fit for Disney family values of any era. (Cats, not so much.) From the live-action pup opera Old Yeller in the ’50s, to the mixed-media friskiness of this fall’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Disney has paraded and profited from its pooch panache.

Bolt, the first Disney animated feature made under the supervision of Pixar creative boss John Lasseter, has a premise straight out of Chihuahua: an adorable, pampered L.A. dog gets dropped into an alien environment and has to find its way back home, learning lessons of friendship, confidence and self-reliance en route. (It’s also the premise of 140,000 other movies about animals, kids or hobbits.) Bolt fits this familiar mold without looking moldy. Its visual style is unpretentiously attractive, with a limber graphic line, and there’s little showboating in the design or the dialogue. Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard are perfectly pleased to have labored in the service of that humblest of genres, the dog cartoon.

The story, though, is high-concept and high-maintenance. In the Bond-worthy opening action scene, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is introduced as a Superdog: faster than Speed Racer, more powerful than Benji, able to hold a dangling car between his teeth, plus his gifts of bent-track laser-vision and the amazing thunder bark — all to help his “human,” Penny (Miley Cyrus), escape an army of bad guys. He could be the family dog of the Incredibles. What Bolt doesn’t know, yet, is that all this mayhem and all his powers are fake. He’s the star of a TV adventure series, and if he weren’t so focused on his Penny-paving mission he might notice the cameras, stunt men and effects technicians. Bolt, in other words, is a canine Truman Show, whose producers think he’ll give a more intense performance if he thinks it’s real.

Thanks to conniving from the usual slimy coven of agents and network execs — and a tumble of coincidences nearly as endearing as they are preposterous — Bolt is shipped to New York City, where he strikes up a quick animosity with a sassy cat named Mittens (Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Susie Essman). Their itinerary will be no secret to the youngest of viewers: cat and dog, joined by Rhino (Disney animator Mark Walton), a hamster who travels in a Plexiglas ball. Through Rhino, a diehard fan of the TV show, Bolt realizes that his powers aren’t so super, and he comes to suspect that Penny was just another jaded Hollywood actress who’d forget about him when she left the set.

There are stretches when the animal trio’s westward trek packs no more excitement or amusement than a Presidential candidates slog through the prairie-state primaries. Mittens’ yenta-like attitude can get grating, and for a while Rhino is the only character with much wit or verve.

But from the moment Bolt sticks his head out the window of a speeding truck and feels the breeze of freedom and free will, the picture snaps to life and instantly acquires heart (Lasseter’s favorite movie organ). Of course each character gets to show a heroism all the more special for being displayed without special effects. Indeed, Rhino’s climactic declaration of purpose — that “All my dreaming has prepared me for this moment” — might be the motto, not just of this very satisfying film, but of the Disney-Pixar animators. They’re smart kids who dream for a living.

It’s a satisfaction of another sort to have movies that appeal to the deepest, dreamiest parts of a tyro moviegoer’s soul. In the pre-Thanksgiving lull, parents can take their young’uns to Bolt, drop their 10-to-14-year-olds off at Twilight, and the whole family will have survived the weekend. All it takes is a handsome vampire’s bite and a cute dog’s bark.

Dog ‘sniffs out’ cancer

Beamish the dog

Beamish sniffed out a melanoma on his owner’s chest

A man from north Oxfordshire has credited his pet Rottweiler with sniffing out his skin cancer.

Chris Tuffrey, from Banbury, had a mole on his chest for 15 years but “put his head in the sand” and ignored it.

But he said thanks to his dog Beamish “nuzzling and licking” him and trying to lift his arm near the mole, he went to a doctor to get it checked out.

Within a two weeks, melanoma was confirmed by the hospital and the cancerous mole was removed.

Mr Tuffrey said when Beamish began nuzzling him he thought, “what’s wrong with me”.

When he visited his doctor in Deddington and was immediately referred to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

Within a fortnight, melanoma was confirmed and the cancerous mole was removed.

I shall be grateful to him for the rest of my life
Chris Tuffrey

Mr Tuffrey’s case is not unique. Scientists have found in trials, dogs have detected cancers in the urine of patients despite medical tests giving negative results.

Mr Tuffrey considers Beamish a very special friend.

”He’s absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“He’s a very laid back dog, and I shall be grateful to him for the rest of my life.”

Vick dogs featured on wine labels

Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection features portraits of 22 dogs confiscated

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Georgia, Handsome Dan, Curly and other pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation are getting a shot at fame as stars of a line of boutique red wines.

The Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection features colorful portraits of 22 dogs confiscated from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels that now live at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah.

Enlarge this image

Dog Lovers Wine Club

Ellen is one of the pit bulls featured on the label for the Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection. Artist Cyrus Mejia painted the colorful portraits of 22 dogs confiscated from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.

• Bottles can be purchased through the Dog Lovers Wine Club

See the paintings
Vick’s dogs find hope in Utah
Starting a new life

“As a signature collection, it’s through the roof,” said Matt Hahn, co-owner of Carivintas Winery, a Southern California company that combines wine selling and philanthropy.

Each bottle includes a portrait of one of the dogs on the label. On the back, instead of a description of the wine, there’s a brief story about each four-legged friend.

The pit bulls have been living at Best Friends since January while handlers try to reverse the mental damage done at Vick’s 15-acre estate in southeastern Virginia. Vick, a former NFL quarterback, is serving a two-year prison sentence in connection with the dogfighting operation.

Artist Cyrus Mejia, one of the founders of Best Friends, began painting the dogs after they arrived at the sanctuary. Gone in the portraits are any signs of snarling beasts fit for a fight ring. Instead, there are cocked heads, soulful eyes and floppy ears.

“I think he’s been able to capture the real personalities of each of the dogs,” said John Polis, a Best Friends spokesman.

Hahn and his small winery based in Buellton, Calif., jumped at the chance to use the portraits in creating the Vicktory Dogs collection. He said the goal was to show the dogs in a positive light.

Television viewers have come to know many of the dogs through the National Geographic Channel show “DogTown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs,” which chronicles their life after being rescued.

“Everybody has their favorite and people are buying for different reasons,” Hahn said. “Some people will drink the wine, some will never open the bottle.”

The entire set, including 22 bottles and two others commemorating Best Friends’ 25th anniversary, costs $672. The set can also be split and each half sells for $380. Individual bottles go for $40.

Ten percent of each sale goes to Best Friends. The money will be used to oppose dog fighting around the country and to fight laws that target specific dog breeds, Polis said.

Hahn is also hoping the wines, which went on sale last month, are a starting point for people to talk about dogs and protecting animals.

“We really use these things as a way to push the discussion further,” Hahn said.