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If there be spirits, now’s the time to find them

Al ­DeCesaris is running down the East Coast for Sturge-Weber syndrome

The Volvo Ocean Race is on its round-the-world blitz again

7 million Books for International Goodwill

While the wind blows, I’m ­getting a handle on things

It took a village to make Zoe mobile

Zoe is a spunky three-year old French bulldog. At home, her paralyzed back legs were no problem as she scooted over carpet. Top-heavy by nature, she bulked up by pulling herself with her shoulders.     But on vacation at Stay Pet Resort in Hanover, she was grounded on slippery concrete. She wanted to play with the other dogs but was stuck watching the action from the sidelines. Until she got fixed up with a new set of wheels.     It took a village to make Zoe...

Training makes a happier fellow

Optimus Prime was a playful, high-energy puppy when Sergeant Gregory ‘GJ’ Tomas Jr. received orders deploying him to Afghanistan for a second tour with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.     “We’re a military family,” says Tomas’ grandmother, Claudia Toone of Tracys Landing. Grandson GJ followed in the footsteps of his father — also stationed at Fort Bragg — who recently retired after 21 years with the Army. “...

Guess who’s the top dog?

When you stop by Will & Veronica’s produce stand in Owings, you’ll likely be greeted by Onyx and Gizmo. Onyx is a five-year-old, 115-pound male German shepherd/husky mix. Gizmo is a 10-year-old, three-and-a-half-pound male Chihuahua.     A few friendly sniffs hello and they’ll be on their way again, hard at work chasing bees and flies, herding pigs, napping in the sunshine or hitching a ride on the golf cart.     “Onyx is the co-pilot...

Scott Sylte stands firm for his service dog

As the sun dips into the Bay at the Calvert County marina where he lives, 59-year-old Scott Sylte stares into the Chesapeake. He likes an angry sea. With salt-and-pepper beard and a skipper’s cap, he more closely resembles a sea captain than the human rights champion he is.     He doesn’t like the word activist — but it fits him.     Politics was just a subject when Sylte was a liberal arts major at the University of Pennsylvania. But a few...

What shall Maryland Therapeutic Riding call this blue-eyed filly?

The stork visited Maryland Therapeutic Riding in Crownsville on April 30. A blue-eyed pinto mini filly — the smallest and youngest member of the farm’s herd — needs a name. The birth was a surprise; her mother Beauty was plump when purchased, but vets and staff alike believed all she needed was a diet.     Maryland Therapeutic Riding uses the healing and therapeutic power of horses to improve the balance, strength, muscle tone, self-image, self-confidence and...

From Tasmanian devil to Teddy bear

You never know what temperament a dog may bring with him. I was so in love with Teddy, a Pomeranian-Papillon mix, that I figured I could deal with any little problems that came with this five-and-a-half-year-old rescue from death row at a pound in Baltimore.     He didn’t like children, I was told. He was touchy about being touched on his rear quarter, and he didn’t like raised voices.     No problem. We were just two old retirees, the ideal couple...

Celebrate the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a toy, not a turtle

It may surprise you to know that 99.9 percent of turtles have little to no ninja skills. Yet thousands of small turtles have already been purchased for children by parents anticipating the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On the eve of the film’s release, Maryland Natural Resources Police begs parents to stick to reptilian action figures and skip buying baby turtles.       “These tiny animals aren’t toys, and they require a commitment to keep them...

Cinema worth barking about

I’m the Movie­goer’s favorite companion for movie night, so she enlisted me to to recommend the 10 best movies of the animal kingdom. Enjoy! –Boss, the Cinema Collie 10. The Rescuers Down Under 1990 • G • 77 mins. The rare case of a sequel that is superior to the original, The Rescuers Down Under chronicles the continuing adventures of Bianca and Bernard, brave mouse agents of the Rescue Aid Society. The mice must save an Australian boy kidnapped because he...

Conowingo eels might just be one of the most important species in our waters

The only eel I have seen in the last 20 years was on sushi.     That changed in a big way as I gazed at a tank teeming with the wriggling creatures.     “We call them pencil eels; they’re about four inches long,” said my guide, Ian Park of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At the base of the Conowingo dam on the Susquehanna River, we were tending to an experiment that could unlock a key to restoring Bay water quality. Park’s job was to...

It takes work to live together in a peaceable interspecies kingdom

Oh the trouble love brings!         Just about any time your heart runs away with you, you run up a debt you’ll be paying for day, hours, years. By a certain age, we homo sapiens are supposed to know (but do we ever?) about the birds and the bees. But a dog or cat can slip under the radar, fooling us into believing that all interspecies matches are made in heaven.     When reality hits, you’d rather have a pie in the face than a foot in...