July 16, 2004 – Bear, a 200-pound Caucasian Mountain dog, felt so soft when she petted him, 7-year-old Elena Haynes said as she and about three dozen other children 5 to 7 years old learned about dogs and cats on Friday in the Julius E. Sprauve Summer Enrichment Program.
Animal Care Center of St. John volunteers and veterinarian Dr. Laura Palminteri arrived with a couple of dogs and two cats to give the youngsters hands-on experience and information on how to care for these pets.
Sprauve Principal Mario Francis expressed the hope that by learning how to treat animals nicely, the children will do the same with people. "Be kind to all mankind," he said.
The youngsters were eager to answer Palminteri when she asked them what they knew about taking care of pets. Hands raised, they ticked off items such as food, water and shelter as pet necessities.
"And talk to them in a very gentle voice," Palminteri said, telling the students that they should approach a strange animal as they would a child they didn't know. She told them that sniffing is how a dog says hello.
As for cats, Palminteri said they need to scratch. "Get them a scratching post," she said as a multi-hued cat named Chili crawled out of her arms around to the back of her neck.
Chili couldn't take her eyes off Bear, so Palminteri soon returned the cat to her cage. "Bear is making her nervous," the veterinarian explained.
Animal Care Center volunteer Bonny Corbeil, accompanied by her island dog Miss Princess, told the long tale of her dog's life. "I came home and Miss Princess was sitting on my porch," she began.
As it turned out, Miss Princess had an owner, a woman who lived nearby. Miss Princess was an outside dog who wandered the neighborhood. Alas, one day she was hit by a car. The owner was a kindly woman who took good care of Miss Princess, but she just didn't have the money to fix her injured leg.
Enter the Animal Care Center. The agency paid the veterinarian bill, and Corbeil volunteered to serve as the post-operative nurse. When Miss Princess was well enough to return home, Corbeil's neighbor said that although she loved Miss Princess, she was getting along in years and could no longer care for a pet.
So Miss Princess became a permanent resident at Corbeil's house, sleeping on her bed and enjoying the good life with Corbeil's four cats.
"Miss Princess and I love each other very much," Corbeil said as the kids scooted their chairs in for a closer look at the dog.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.