On the Town: In a St. Paddy's Day league of their own

It was St. Paddy's Day at the Glendale Assistance League's monthly luncheon. At $2 per person, the league's Senior Neighborhood Fellowship luncheons are the best bargain in town. Wednesday's (March 14) lunch was no exception. Chairwoman Mary Margaret Smith welcomed about 100 seniors to the league's clubhouse on Harvard. “We're all Irish today,” Smith said. “Even the dogs.”

Today's program was a favorite — therapy dogs and how they interact with humans.

New league member Karen Saunders introduced the handlers and their dogs as each was paraded out, worthy of the fanciest of dog shows. Saunders' dog was Quatsch, a 4-year-old female Doberman. Liza, a 6-year-old male French sheep dog, was handled by Jerry Werk. Piper, a 5-year-old female Australian shepherd, was supervised by Burbank resident Janet Snyder. Last came Munaqua, a 12-year-old female mixed terrier. She had two handlers, Glendale resident Bobette Tomasoff and Daphne Bell. All the dogs live in their handlers' homes and are personal pets.

Saunders referred to studies showing that interaction with a dog can lower blood pressure, rehabilitate and promote relaxation, relieve anxiety and stress, improve communication between humans, motivate patients, reduce the need for aggression in certain adult substance abusers and, of course, provide unconditional love. Therapy dogs have been known to warn patients of the onset of an epileptic seizure and wake a patient up if they were ready to go into diabetic shock.

Saunders also described the history of therapy dogs. One of the first therapy dogs in the U.S. participated in a visiting animal program at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., in 1919. Since that time, therapy dog groups were established including Therapy Dogs Incorporated and Delta Society. It was at the Hollywood Dog Obedience Club that the handlers on today's program first met each other.

Luncheon guest Margie Uruski from Glendale was one of the first in line to interact with one of the dogs. Piper stood on his haunches and gently put her paws on Uruski's chest. Piper knew he was center stage and even mugged for the camera.

The dogs definitely upstaged the lunch that followed. Packets of hand sanitizers were on every placemat, so those touching the dogs could clean their hands. Appropriate for a St. Patrick's Day lunch was the corned beef and cabbage served by league members. Cornbread on the side filled everyone up.

Luncheon regulars from Glendale included Carol Jean Felkel, Patricia McGreal, Trudy Kaun, Fatuma Kawoowa and Robert and Yolanda Hughart. League servers included Loys Bonner, Rita Cohen and Marcie Haug, Assisteen liaison. Even Chairwoman Smith pitched in to serve cake.

Under rainy skies, there's nothing better than a pancake breakfast to start the day. For about 30 years, Boy Scout Troop 106 has set up grills, spatulas and pancake fixins' to satisfy. On Saturday (March 17) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' building on Wilson Avenue in Glendale, raindrops were dodged to serve about 250 hungry guests during 8 to 11 a.m. For $3 per person or $20 for a family, all-you-can-eat pancakes were the order of the day. Even green pancakes in honor of St. Patrick's Day were available — mostly the kids went for those.

Troop 106 Scoutmaster Rick Mann insisted the Scouts did the majority of the work. They sold tickets, set up, cooked and were expected to clean up as the boys practiced operating a fundraiser. “They learn integrity in terms of handling money and turning it in,” Mann said. “It may be the first time a boy has been entrusted with money. They're trustworthy.” There is even a Boy Scout “Personal Management” merit badge for the task. Assistant Scoutmasters and Glendale residents Bruce Hemmingway and Ben Richards were also present to lend support. Behind-the-scenes adult volunteers were David Corrigan and Lee Knight.

Busy Boy Scouts from Glendale on hand included Scott Christiansen, 15, and Galo Lopez, 13. He was assisted by sister Erika Lopez, 11, who thought she could flip pancakes as well as the boys. Mom Christina Lopez, Dad Amed Lopez and Eagle Scout brother Gilberto Lopez, 18, coached from the sidelines.

More hungry Glendale residents present included Troop 106 Committee Chairman Matt Sheffield and wife Linda Sheffield, Bishop Kent Lee, Bob Petersen, Paul Christensen, Scout Scott's grandfather, and Russ and Mariko Christiansen, Scott's parents.

Spotted chowing down were Kirk and Valerie Stolworthy from Glendale. Their kids Milana, 5, and Natalia, 2, practically kept up with their parents bite for bite.

During the three hours, more than 1,000 pancakes were consumed accompanied by gallons of IHOP-donated syrup. Sausages, bacon, orange juice and hot chocolate filled out the breakfast.

Expected proceeds of about $1,000 will go toward summer camp for the Scouts.

RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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