Wed05042016

News

LASD trustees discuss input process for bond spending

As the deadline for the acquisition of a 10th school site looms, the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week discussed gathering community input on the process.

The details of acquiring a new school site are addressed in closed session...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

Director leads FHDA Foundation with a solid strategy – and a smile

Director leads FHDA Foundation with a solid strategy – and a smile


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Tess Chandler recently celebrated her first year as executive director of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation.

Tess Chandler radiates positive energy. Wearing a perpetual smile, the executive director of the Foothill-De Anza...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alwa...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Furry Friends: Los Altos hosts mixer for priests and pups


Crockett communes with Simba the shih tzu, visiting Maryknoll with the nonprofit Furry Friends.

Visit the Maryknoll community on Cristo Rey Drive in Los Altos on the right day of the month, and you’ll witness a spectacle of playing dogs and reminiscing priests.

The sanctuarylike acreage just across from Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve houses two dozen retired brothers and priests from the Catholic Foreign Mission Society. First established in 1911, it drew men who wanted to serve their faith by building social welfare programs in developing economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The assembled pets and their human chaperones visit from Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Services. The Bay Area group sends volunteer teams to visit people living in nursing homes, health facilities and shelters – the folks who aren’t able to keep pets themselves.

Los Altos resident Judy Brigham, who heads up the team that visits Maryknoll each month, explained that they practice pet therapy – the application, quite literally, of pets to the people who need some time with a loving animal. Take one snuggle from a shih tzu, and then return to your regular health regimen. Any animal that enjoys human companionship is welcome to join the group, but the Maryknoll posse was strictly canine, including a German shepherd, a greyhound and two shih tzus.

Priests hold their visitors (or get a full-body lean, from the larger dogs) and, with little prompting, share their stories of animal encounters past. From rabid dogs in the Philippines to mongoose-hunting island dogs in Hawaii, the fathers and brothers have seen their share of canines while serving around the world.

Brother Duane Crockett found himself enfolded in the lengthy curve of Liberty, a retired racing greyhound who melted against his legs. Crockett has lived at Mary- knoll for more than a decade, after serving around the world and, more recently, at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

“Our group has been in 32 countries in the world. We bring the word of God through assisting in projects to better their lives,” he said of the communities they’ve served in.

On a typical day now, the retired men see rabbits, wild turkeys, perhaps coyotes during the right season – but they lack the steady presence of loved pets.

Finding a canine calling in volunteer visits

On a visit this summer, everyone gathered in the shade underneath cedar trees in Maryknoll’s garden to scritch ruffs and watch the pups perform. Liberty demonstrated her speed on command, a streak of gray racing across the lawn at up to 40 mph.

When she isn’t at Maryknoll working the crowd, Liberty visits a school in Santa Clara where students practice their literacy by reading to her.

Bella, one of Brigham’s shih tzus, began life as show dog before retiring and finding her new, adoptive, home.

“She misses the ring,” Brigham said of Bella’s glory days. “Show dogs and greyhounds from the track get used to being handled from birth.”

Bella’s counterpart, Simba, “tolerates everything,” Brigham said, recounting a time when he stayed calm in the arms of a Parkinson’s patient whose grip became involuntarily rigid, pinning the dog in place.

Dogs interested in joining Furry Friends only need basic obedience training and undergo a screening process with their owners. A volunteer role-plays the use of a wheelchair and canes. Trainers watch for the pup’s reaction – for instance, when an exuberant young golden retriever jumped on a wheelchair’s (simulated) occupant, they decided the dog should head toward juvenile hall, where young people yearn for that kind of lively energy.

The group, a nonprofit, is always open to new members.

For more information, visit furryfriends.org.

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