Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, August 11, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:7



Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 11, 


Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc

Sisters and best friends, Sally and Connie came in 
together and their perfect home will keep them 
together. These gorgeous fluffy girls are 11 years young 
and will be happy to be given soft beds in a sunny spot 
and to receive gentle pets, especially massages of ears 
and head. Both have calm peaceful temperaments 
that will reward attention with soft purrs. Sometimes 
Sally and Connie will stretch out in their individual 
beds, but they also often will want to share one 
bed and snuggle together. The girls curl up and it’s 
hard to tell who is who. They both have stunning 
tortoiseshell coats of black with orange highlights 
and look very similar. Sally can be identified by a 
dramatic blaze of orange on her face and she’s a tad 
bit larger than Connie. Both Sally and Connie enjoy 
the brushing of their silky long coats. Neither show 
much interest in toys or flying teasers. But that might 
change when they have their own homes to explore 
and with family they know. Sally and Connie will add 
beauty and harmony to any home. Sally and Connie’s 
adoption fee is $99 each, which includes spay surgery, 
a microchip, first vaccinations and a free wellness 
check-up at a participating veterinarian. Both sweet 
cats also qualify for the “Senior for Senior” discount 
adoption program. Feel free to call us at (626) 286-
1159 for more information. They currently reside at 
the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society located at 851 
E. Grand Avenue in San Gabriel which is located off 
San Gabriel Blvd, north of Mission and south of Las 
Tunas Drive. To arrange a ‘Meet and Greet’, please 
stop by any time from 10:30am to 4:30pm Tuesday 



“He who has ears to hear, 

let him hear.” Matt. 11:15

Dogs trained for the specific purpose of meeting 
a human’s practical day-to-day needs totally 
amaze me! So many kind canines are willing to do 
whatever it takes to help facilitate tasks that would 
otherwise be extremely difficult, if not impossible, 
for folks with special needs to achieve. The focus of 
those fabulous, furry four-footers is to keep their 
human companions happy, during the good times 
and the bad. We’re talking about dogs committed 
to being true-blue friends through thick or thin, 
and I believe that God planned it that way when 
he created them.

 I’ll never forget the first time I saw a blind 
person walking with a seeing-eye dog at the mall 
when I was a kid. I must have been about 10 years 
old at the time and I was shopping with my mom. 
Naturally, being the animal lover that I already 
was, I reached out to pet the dog. That’s when the 
owner warned me to keep my distance because 
he was a service dog “on the job” and it would be 
inappropriate for him to socialize with a stranger.

 At first I thought that lady was being snobby 
and rude, but I later learned that service dogs 
are trained to focus on their masters’ needs at all 
times, so they are not in the position to meet and 
greet others in public. When I later learned even 
more about the role of a trained seeing eye dog, 
I fully understood why that lady responded the 
way she did when I approached her gorgeous, stoic 
German shepherd at the mall that day.

Because of my early encounter with a seeing-eye 
dog, the concept of canines catering to humans 
with special needs became familiar to me at a 
young age and it thrilled me to know that a dog 
can and will be a help-meet on behalf of a human. 
Over the years I have learned much more about 
dogs and what they are capable of, so while I am 
still thrilled, I am rarely surprised when I hear 
news about the remarkable roles they are playing 
in today’s society. When given love, respect and 
care they deserve along with proper training, dogs 
can do amazing things.

The idea of a canine helping a blind person make 
their way through the day is a common concept 
to most of us, but I 
must admit the idea of 
a dog assisting a deaf 
person in any effective 
way is relatively new to 
me. Until my neighbor 
introduced me to an 
organization called Dogs 
for the Deaf (which has 
since changed its name to 
Dogs for Better Lives), I 
was unaware that canines 
were actually being 
trained to assist people 
with hearing loss.

As it turns out, dogs 
understand way more than most of us think they 
do, and they can be trained to help bridge the 
gap between sound and silence for the hearing-
impaired individual who is ready and willing to 
accept the kind of assistance that a trained canine 
companion can provide.

Dogs for Better Lives, Inc. is an Oregon-based non-
profit dedicated to rescuing shelter dogs that they 
train to assist people with a variety of challenges 
and unique needs, including hearing-impairment 
and autism. They also have a program devoted 
to creating “canine co-workers”, where they train 
the dogs to team up with professionals such as 
physicians, teachers, counselors, and court room 
advocates by assisting in the treatment of patients 
and working with clients.

 When I heard about this organization, I was 
immediately touched by the creative way they 
found to show their compassion for both humans 
with special needs and animals that are desperate 
for a second chance at life. They make it their 
mission to adopt otherwise euthanized dogs and 
give them the opportunity to carry out the task at 
hand while satisfying the strongest desire of their 
heart, which is to make their master happy.

 In my opinion, Dogs for Better Lives (previously 
Dogs for the Deaf) is the epitome of yet another 
win/win situation, wherein people work together to 
bring to fruition a worthwhile dream and support 
a worthwhile cause, which in this case is to train 
rescued dogs to help humans who, in turn give the 
dogs a loving home while benefiting from their 
assistance. Now that’s what I call a true win/win!

 As a final note - perhaps the most important point 
to be made in this Happy Tail - I just want to say that 
above-and-beyond the remarkable, life-changing 
practical tasks those kind canines perform for their 
human friends, I believe that even more remarkable 
is the beautiful bond they form with them, rooted in 
unconditional love and a willingness to put their two-
legged friends first. I can only hope to become as kind 
as a canine in my lifetime.

 For more information go to: dogsforbetterlives.


This little guy, 
born 2008, is half 
Jack Russell and 
half Chihuahua, 
and weighs 
between 15 & 
18 lbs. TJ is 
neutered, house-
trained, and 
and very well-
behaved! TJ is 
great with kids and other dogs, but does not like 
cats. He makes a perfect watchdog and companion. 
As a small dog, he can live many more years. TJ is 
a good little dog who has had good care in a loving 
home, but now his owner dad has Alzheimer’s and 
can no longer care for his beloved TJ. Please offer a 
home to TJ! Call 626-358-3726 for a Meet & Greet!



A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




“The Character of a Nation 
is determined by how 
its animals are treated” 
Ghandi[Nyerges is the 
author of several books 
including “Self-Sufficient 
Home” and “How to 
Survive Anywhere.” He also leads wilderness classes 
every weekend. He can be reached at School of Self-
Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.]

Each time I read this paper I am amazed at the broad 
spectrum of different and talented writers that Susan 
Henderson has managed to cobble together as her 
“staff.” I read with great enjoyment the column by 
this newspaper’s “dog columnist,” Chris Leclerc, 
about different animals that become friends. This 
struck home because the various members of my 
menagerie over the years have become quite close, 
often to the amazement of friends.

 Popoki was a very friendly cat, and though the 
dogs didn’t like her at first, she held her own, and 
eventually would squeeze in when the dogs were 
eating and eat out of their dish! That’s no small feat, 
considering how jealously most dogs guard their 
food, and will often snap if another animal gets 
close. But Popoki often would be seen eating with 
Cassius Clay, who was a stout Staffordshire terrier, 
also known as a pitt bull. 

 Out back, Otis our pot-bellied pig had his own 
yard, and in the winter, Popoki would go out there 
and sleep in the straw with Otis. When it was really 
cold, Otis would burrow into the thick layers of 
straw, and only his back or belly would be sticking 
out. Frequently, we’d all go out back to see Popoki 
sleeping on the warm little patch of Otis’ big body 
that was sticking out of the straw. It was quite a sight, 
but we all thought that the two of them became 
good buddies. We only had the one pig, and the one 
cat, and perhaps the two odd fellows stuck together.

We also had a snow goose for the 17 years of her 
life. Blue Girl was pretty much a loner, but she too 
would warm up to Popoki during the spring when 
she was laying eggs. And occasionally in the early 
morning, when the roosters got going, she would 
attempt to crow along with the roosters, which gave 
her the nickname “Gooseter.” 

 By the way, I had all these animals when I was 
living in Highland Park, and wrote about animal 
and food raising, and recycling, and gardening, 
and self-reliance, in our book called “Extreme 
Simplicity, Homesteading in the City.” It’s a great 
book, and I still see copies of it for sale on Amazon 
and Ebay.

In addition, we became so close to most of our 
animals that we conducted funerals for nearly all 
of them. In other words, they were not mere “pets” 
or “livestock” or “animals.” They were part of our 
family, sentient beings who shared our life and to 
whom we experienced mutual upliftment. 

 When Cassius Clay died on Easter Sunday of 
2008, I remember that same feeling I get when 
anyone close to me dies – the feeling of hopelessness, 
emptiness, experiencing the void, and a sense of 
inner darkness. I spent a week being with Cassius 
mentally, and preparing a gathering where I would 
honor our life together. It didn’t matter that some 
people would laugh and ridicule. Nevertheless, I 
invited several friends, and prepared the site where 
I’d buried him.

 On the Saturday after he died, I was a bit 
amazed that over 30 people showed up and sat in 
the quickly-dug outdoor amphitheater. I talked 
about the high lights of my life with Cassius, and 
felt a great joy that there were others I could share 
this with. And each person present shared their 
experience with Cassius, or something about their 
own personal pet.

 The overall experience was more moving than 
many of the people funerals I’d been to. There was 
a little music, some soft drinks, and then everyone 
got to plant some herb or flower over Cassius’ 
grave, and then water it. 

 In death, my close canis pal had brought so many 
like-minded people together. It was a real blessing.

Again, I am reflecting upon these events because of 
the diversity of this newspaper’s writers, and due to 
the ability of this paper’s editor and publishing in 
bringing all these folks together. 

 [By the way, my experiences with the dog 
funerals is described in great detail in my book, 
“Til Death Do Us Part?”, available from Kindle, or 
at the Store at]. 

I know I am not the sharpest 
pencil in the drawer, or the 
brightest bulb on the porch, 
and a few bricks shy of a load. However, my 
philosophy is simple, if you know what you are 
not, then you can soon figure out what you really 

 If somebody can’t con me, they can’t con 
anybody. I admit that I am naïve about many 
things. A Girl Scout needs only smile, wink her 
brown eyes at me and I will buy all the cookies she 

 My problem is, I have a hard time believing 
anyone would lie to me. Why would someone lie 
in the first place? What does lying get you?

 An incident happened this past week that sucked 
me into that whirlpool of naivety.

 I received an email from somebody who wanted 
to give me a lot of money. It seems this woman 
was recently widowed and her husband was very 
wealthy and she wanted to give money to some 
charity. Would I be interested in receiving money?

Well, when it comes to money you do have my 

 Immediately I printed this email out and 
brought it to show the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage. Now, if anybody can con her, they can 
con everybody. She can spot a lie three generations 

 She read the email and then looked at me with 
one of those “stares” and said, “You do know that 
this is a scam?”

 “But,” I said rather hesitatingly, “what if it isn’t a 
scam? What if it’s real? What have I got to lose?”

 “You mean,” she said rather sarcastically, 
“besides your mind?”

 It was at that moment I had an overwhelming 
urge to prove finally that she did not know 
everything. When I follow through with this 
and get all that money in our bank, I will have a 
laughing party heard around the world at her 

 I decided to see if maybe this was legitimate. So, 
I emailed them back and said I was interested in 
their money for our charity and explained a little 
bit about our charity.

 Very soon, I got an email back congratulating 
me on a wise decision.

 I sat back and grinned to myself; at least 
somebody appreciates my wisdom.

 Then I received an email saying I needed to send 
them some information, so I immediately sent it.

All the while, I’m thinking of how I’m going to rub 
this in someone’s face for a very long time. After 
all, the amount of money they were talking about 
was $4.7 million. I started thinking about what I 
could do with all that money.

 It is amazing what happens when a person starts 
thinking about all the money he is going to get. 
Then the thoughts go to “things.” Things that I 
cannot afford right now. I tried to think of all of 
the things that I would buy as soon as I got this 
money. I got some paper and a pen and started to 
make a list.

I ran into a little problem here. I could not think 
of anything I wanted that I did not already have. I 
don’t have a long list of things I want. I like books, 
pens and pocketknives. Of course, I could buy my 
own Apple fritter bakery. That would be a good 

For a couple days, I shot emails back and forth 
with this company that happened to be in Nigeria, 
Africa. I have some wonderful friends there so I 
was not even thinking on the negative side of this 

 Of course, being a pastor, I would donate some 
of that money to my church. Then I got thinking 
about what we could do in the church with that 
kind of money. How many people could we bless 
and encourage with the programs we could do 
with that kind of money?

 I continued emailing back to this widow and 
she connected me with the bank that was going to 
handle the transaction. I was beginning to feel a 
little more comfortable with this. I know my wife 
thought this was a scam, but I’m not so sure it is a 
scam. I think it is some dear widow who wants to 
give her money to somebody that she doesn’t know. 
What a sweet and wonderful woman she must be.

 Then I got THE defining email. In order for this 
transaction to go forward, they needed from me a 
processing fee of $1,000. After all, I would more 
than make that up once the transaction was done. 
At least, according to them.

 It was then I began to realize I had been 
bamboozled. Ask me for anything but don’t ask me 
for my money!

 It was a scam and I am quite reluctant to pass 
this information off to the other resident of our 
house. One of us was right and it sure wasn’t me.

 I did not get the $4.7 million, but on the other 
hand, I did not lose $1000. At least that’s something 
to celebrate.

 Thinking about this reminded me of one of 
my favorite Bible verses. “Trust in the Lord with 
all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own 
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, 
and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 When I put God first in my life I can be assured 
that He will direct my paths in the right direction.

 The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of 
God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. 
He lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage, 
in Ocala, Florida. Call him at 352-687-4240 or 
e-mail The church web site 

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