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All the world’s a school for service dogs in training 

The cats in my life keep upping the ante

Where to frolic with your four-legged friends

Where to turn for help and to help

Is it domestication that brings us together, or mutual adaptation?

Unity Gardens grants grow leaders, plants, flowers

    Plants and flowers aren’t the only things that grow in a garden. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     “We want projects that build community partnerships, bringing in volunteers and creating opportunities for leaders to emerge and take on new projects,” says Unity executive director Barbara Dowling.    ...

Cheer your team over crushes

    Who has what it takes to be crowned the fastest server on the Bay?     Six-person server teams registered by local restaurants compete in an obstacle-course competition, dodging obstructions while demonstrating their skill. Teams vie for the chance to win bragging rights and a cash prize.     The challenge is free for the watching, but bring your pocketbook for food and drinks sponsored by Blue Dog BBQ Company and Jailbreak Brewing Company....

Roseate spoonbill visits North Beach

    This month, North Beach hosted an unexpected guest. Roseate spoonbills are usually residents of Florida and other warm, wet places in North and South America. This usually ­doesn’t include North Beach, where reader Jan Smith Bennett photographed one.     Many different kinds of spoonbills — whose name describes their most distinctive feature — live throughout the world, but roseate spoonbills are the only ones native to the United States...

Your whole identity in a word

Naming a baby is an act of ­poetry, for many people the only ­creative moment of their lives. –Richard Eyre     So a wedding’s in your future … and maybe a baby.     Creativity and anxiety collide in the baby-naming process. Picking the right name has parents asking what really is in a name?     With competing influences such as originality, family tradition and nicknames, names can be a point of pressure as couples...

As the reasons for marrying change, we just keep doing it

“You had to back then.” That’s how Bill Burton — the esteemed outdoor writer who retired from Bay Weekly 16 years after retiring from a 30-plus-year career at the Baltimore Evening Sun — answered my inquiry about his many marriages. He allowed the legend of five — culminated by his long and happy marriage to Lois Burton — to stand. In fact it was only three, a truth outed by longtime friend Alan Doelph, appreciating Burton’s life after his death...

Pixar’s hero-family series is still super

Bob and Helen Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson: Book Club; Holly Hunter: The Big Sick) embrace their super abilities as heroes. With superheroes banned by the government as menaces, Helen worries that their children will suffer. Bob rails at the injustice of being denied his abilities. So Bob accepts the offer of billionaire telecommun­ications developer Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk: Better Call Saul) to help the Parrs turn public opinion in favor of the Super community. He’s dismayed...

The true music of nature is silence

One evening several years ago, when the Chesapeake had experienced a generous influx of gray trout (weakfish), I found a school outside the mouth of a small tributary south of the Magothy. It was just after dark, the tide was falling and the fish were positioned a long cast from the inlet to intercept the baitfish, shrimp and small crabs being carried out by the tidal current. Throwing a black Clouser minnow on an eight-weight rod with floating line, I was letting the weighted fly sink and...

Some plants want one, some the other

Anybody can shear plants, but not everybody can prune plants properly. Black and Decker, Stihl, Echo and other manufacturers of hedge clippers have caused many landscapes to look alike. Foundation plantings are shaped into cones, balls, cylinders or squares. Sheared plants lose their identity and begin to look alike regardless of species. Pruning, on the other hand, helps plants exhibit their most desirable attributes. Spring-flowering plants like forsythia, weigela, spirea, viburnums and...

An album of Father’s Day memories

The man you know as father surpasseth understanding — at least your understanding. As his child, you are condemned to viewing him through the lens of that relationship — to you, all-important. But he puts on roles like shirts. On the other hand, you have captured him in the clarity of a million brilliant moments. For this collection of Father’s Day memories, we asked readers, writers, friends and strangers to share with us one indelible image. I hope these memories will spark...
From Australia’s Goat Island, the luck of a crocodile-tormenting terrier named Pippa ran out last week.             For years, the yapping dog, a 10-year-old West Highland-Australian terrier mix, had tourists yelping with delight as it chased a seemingly frightened crocodile named Casey back into the drink.             It was quite the sight, an attraction so hysterical that Goat...