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July 4, 2013

Teaching Each Other How To Live, Inmates & Dogs Reform


Tri-City Herald

Connell, WA (AP) Convicted murderer Danny Manoi never thought his temper would allow him to share a cell with someone of a different race, let alone a different species.

Manoi, 44, has a violent history. He routinely assaulted other inmates and bucked authority, he said. He’s serving a 46-year sentence for killing an auto repairman in 1995.

``I wasn’t the nicest person,’’ he admitted outside his cell at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, a medium-security prison in Connell.

Now, however, there’s a Great Dane named Hannah in his life, part of a program called Ridge Dogs. Inmates train and rehabilitate rescue dogs from Benton, Franklin and Adams counties who are candidates to be euthanized.

Prison staff were hesitant at first about the idea of letting Manoi work with dogs. But they say he’s taken a ``complete 360’’ since joining the program.

Hannah, who sleeps on a mattress in Manoi’s cramped cell, strutted out from her bed to greet a group of visitors recently.

The tall black dog rubbed up against Manoi as he praised her for her welcoming demeanor.

The high-pitched voice he used to show his approval provided a stark contrast to his bulky frame and prison tattoos.

Danny Manoi with his dog, Hannah (c) TCH

``Very good,’’ he said, patting the dog on her head. ``Very good Hannah.’’

Manoi and 41 other prisoners rigorously train the dogs over a period of two to six months, sometimes longer, depending on the dogs’ needs. Each dog is screened beforehand for overly aggressive behavior.

The dogs are provided by the Benton-Franklin Humane Society in Kennewick, Adams County Pet Rescue in Othello and Forgotten Dogs in Kennewick. The agencies provide the food, as well as microchips, vaccinations, spaying and neutering.

The dogs are offered to the public for adoption once the training is complete.

Ridge Dogs has grown immensely since it first was introduced at the prison in October 2010, said Lori Telleria, the prison’s correctional program manager.

It started with six inmates and two dogs, partnered with one animal shelter. Now, more than 40 inmates train about 20 dogs at a time from three shelters.

The ultimate goal is to provide stable new homes for neglected dogs. They receive more than 200 hours of training and go through three different levels of instruction before they ``graduate,’’ said inmate Glenn Northrop, the program’s clerk.

The inmates meet with certified trainers once a week and use methods certified by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the American Kennel Club.

Each dog is assigned three inmates, who split caring duties. One of the inmates, called a mentor, oversees the training and helps the less-experienced inmates—called handlers—develop the dog’s social skills and behavior.

Elaine Allison, director of the Benton-Franklin Humane Society, said the inmates have impressed her with their knowledge during the training sessions she leads.

With their level of experience, many inmates could work as certified private dog trainers earning around $200 an hour, Allison said.

``The skill level that these guys have is good enough for them to get their Certified Pet Dog Trainer certificate,’’ she said. ``You have to know your stuff to get that certificate.’’

Inside a training room, a pit bull mix with a brown and white coat named Billy Bob sat by an inmate’s feet, eagerly eying another dog’s treats.

Billy Bob was to walk out of the prison gates in a couple of hours with a potential new owner, who happened to be a counselor at the prison. It was a ``trial’’ adoption to see if he could get along with the family’s cat. The program is dogs-only, so mentors don’t know how some dogs will react when placed in homes with other animals.

Billy Bob’s mentor, inmate Darren McCarroll, 34, glowed with pride as he talked about the dog and the progress he made.
``It’s a real happy feeling,’’ said McCarroll, who worked with Billy Bob for two months. ``I made a difference in a dog’s life. He went from death row to living on the outside.’’

Billy Bob had trouble with the family cat and briefly returned to the prison. He now is living with another foster family.

More than 70 dogs have been adopted since the program started, Northrop said. Some are adopted by prison staff and the animal shelters help find homes for the others.

While the inmates teach the dogs valuable lessons they will use in their new homes, the dogs teach the inmates lessons they need to survive behind the walls of Coyote Ridge.

The dogs provide a new perspective on life and give inmates a reason to get out of bed in the morning with a positive attitude, inmate Tom Mason said.

Mason, 46, needed that positive influence when he joined the program two years ago, he said. He is serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter and arson. He was involved in a standoff with a SWAT team in 2006 in Rochester that ended with his wife and cousin dying in a fire.

Helping the dogs taught Mason that his life was worth living again, he said.

``It gave me a second chance at life,’’ he said. ``I went from a pretty depressed inmate, to feeling like I got an early release.’’

Inmate Quest Jolliffe, 41, has been in the program since it started and has graduated more than 50 dogs. Inmates learn how to be leaders and foster a positive environment by interacting with the dogs, he said.

Jolliffe can see the effect the program has had on other inmates, he said.

``It can change other inmates’ lives and get them thinking that life isn’t all about being selfish,’’ he said.

Ridge Dogs is hoping to grow the program by expanding to the minimum-security work camp located next to the prison, Telleria said. Right now there are two dogs at that camp and staff is hoping to place more there soon.

The validation inmates like Manoi get from training the dogs is unlike anything they have experienced behind bars or in their previous lives.

``It’s by far the most rewarding thing I have done as an individual,’’ he said.

Easy July 4th Dessert! Raspberry Coconut Pie


Associated Press

Just because summer seems to scream for pie doesn’t mean we are eager to crank up the oven. This is especially true at the Fourth of July, when we’d rather focus on the grill and preparations for fireworks.

All of which is why we are especially thankful for the delicious ease of icebox pies. No baking _ in fact, barely any cooking at all _ is needed to create our sweet, rich raspberry coconut icebox pie. It blends fresh raspberries with a whipped cream-cream cheese-coconut milk filling that is cool and satisfying.

While we love the combination of raspberries and coconut, feel free to substitute the berry of your choice. Strawberries, blueberries or blackberries all would be good choices. And to help you really get a jump on the festivities, this pie can be prepared up to two days in advance.

Start to finish: 2 hours
(30 minutes active)
Servings: 8
For the crust:
1 cup toasted shredded
10 chocolate sandwich
cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:
1/4-ounce packet gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice (or water)
8 ounces cream cheese,
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut

To make the crust, in a medium bowl mix together the coconut, chocolate sandwich cookies and butter. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.

To make the filling, in a small glass dissolve the gelatin in the 2 tablespoons of water.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, bring the juice to a boil. Stir in the dissolved gelatin, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and cream of coconut. Add the raspberry jam and gelatin and mix until smooth.

In another medium bowl, use an electric mixer with clean beaters to whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Working in 2 batches, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Gently fold in the raspberries, reserving a few for garnish. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Top with the toasted coconut and the reserved raspberries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Nutrition information per serving: 520 calories; 350 calories from fat (67 percent of total calories); 39 g fat (26 g saturated; 15 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 29 g sugar; 5 g protein; 190 mg sodium.

Freshly Made Lemonade With Fresh Berry Ice Cubes


Associated Press

If you’ve never tasted fresh lemonade, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s just so much more vivid than the supermarket stuff, much more about the lemon and less about the sugar.

True, juicing the lemons can be a pain, but the process becomes very near painless if you start by softening the lemons in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then all you have to do is add sugar syrup — a mixture of sugar and water, heated until the sugar is dissolved — and some cold water. Done.

In short, it’s hard to top fresh lemonade all by itself. Still, for those so inclined, there are plenty of ways to gild this lily. You can infuse the sugar syrup with fresh herbs. You can add seltzer. You can combine it with other fruit juices, including cranberry, apple and pomegranate. Or you can glorify it with flavor-packed ice cubes.

My favorite ice cubes for lemonade (or iced tea) are pureed fruit cubes. Almost any fruit will work. Just puree it, pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze them. The right tool for this job is a blender, which purees the fruit more completely than a food processor or an immersion blender. Of course, you can still use those other tools if they’re the only ones you have at hand.

By the way, if you want to get all fancy, you’re welcome to strain the puree before you freeze it, though the gain in smoothness will also mean a loss in fiber.

Utah Man Submits Bigfoot Skull Fossil To Science For Exam



Ogden, UT (AP) ``I found a fossilized Bigfoot skull.’’

A journalist can go his or her entire life waiting to hear those six magic words. And yet, on a recent weekday afternoon, that very thing happened.

Todd May, of Ogden, dropped by the offices of the Standard-Examiner to see if someone would be interested in a story about a fairly impressive fossil find. After showing off a couple of digital photos, May offered six even more compelling words — ``Do you want to see it?’’ — followed by the motherlode of sentences: ``It’s out in the trunk of my car.’’

In the trunk of your car? Do I want to see it? Does Bigfoot make in the woods?

May proceeded out to his car, where he popped the hatchback on his Nissan 300 ZX. Peeling back an American flag draped across the cargo area of the vehicle, he hefted a black piece of luggage that resembled an oversized bowling-ball bag, lowering it to the asphalt of the parking lot with a clunk. He struggled to pull a noggin-sized, seemingly ordinary rock out of the bag, held it up and turned it over.

A face.

The rock looks vaguely like a smaller version of one of those Easter Island heads. Pronounced forehead. Large, flattened nose. What could only be described as a chiseled chin and jaw line.

We want to believe...but, this looks like a rock.

It’s been about six weeks since May found the rock near the mouth of Ogden Canyon.

``I was looking for some fossils,’’ the 49-year-old ``semi-retired’’ private investigator explains, ``and I was kind of drawn to something in the ground.’’

It was a rock, sticking up out of the dirt.

``So I went and dug it out, and you couldn’t tell what it was ‘cause the head was face down; all you could see was the back of it,’’ he said. ``But when I dug it out you could see the face, perfect.’’

May believes his weighty prize — it tips the scales at 70 pounds — is a fossilized Bigfoot skull. What compels him to make such a claim? Because he says he has seen a couple of the non-fossilized, live skulls — attached to their monstrous, hairy bodies — in recent years.

``I’ve been tracking and watching for Bigfoot,’’ May said. ``I’m very curious, interested in that, and wanted to get footage on it ‘cause I’ve ran across him a couple of times.’’

The first time was in April of 2011, just before dark one evening. May was ``kicked back, enjoying the hot springs’’ near the mouth of Ogden Canyon when he spotted something emerge from the bushes just across the river. It was black with a silky coat, and it moved quickly, never looking over at May.

``My first thought was, `My heck, there’s a gorilla escaped from the zoo or something,’?” he said. ``I thought, `What in the heck’s a gorilla doing?’ Then it dawned on me what it was.’’

The only other time May has seen Bigfoot was about a month ago, in the same area. He says he likes to go to the hot springs late at night, when there are fewer people there. He was at the springs about 2 a.m. one night.

``A couple of nights something was breaking branches and throwing rocks in the water,’’ May recalls. ``And I thought it was just some obnoxious people or kids or something in the canyon.’’

On this particular night, however, he decided to investigate, thinking perhaps it was an animal. May was walking down the trail when he saw it, down in the trees by the water.

``I had the light on it, and I thought, `Oh my land,’ “ May says. ``It was tall, it was big, it was big around - pretty good size. And it kind of looked back at me and I was just frozen. . So I just stood there with the light on it for a minute, and then I heard somebody across the way yell, `Oh my gosh, it’s a monster!’ or something. So somebody else had seen it.’’

May says he found the fossilized skull about two weeks before his second Bigfoot sighting. He has been hunting fossils for two or three years in that area, and says he has found ``a lot of things that look like different types of animals.’’

How do others respond to May’s Bigfoot tales and his claim of finding a skull?

``The people that have seem ‘em before, they kind of smile and they tell me their story,’’ he said. ``There’s some people that kind of shrug their shoulders and think, `Whatever.’ You know, `Strange.’ “

May says he’d be perfectly happy to allow scientists to examine his Bigfoot skull, but he wouldn’t want it to fall into someone’s hands ``where it just sort of disappears.’’

``I wouldn’t mind, I just don’t want to get it lost,’’ he said.

The Standard-Examiner sent a photo of the rock to several paleontologists for an initial opinion on May’s find.

In an email interview, paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter said what May found is interesting, but it definitely is not a fossilized skull.

``I’ll admit that it is the most head-like rock I have seen,’’ said Carpenter, director and curator of paleontology at Utah State University Eastern’s Prehistoric Museum in Price. ``However, there is no doubt that the object is a natural phenomenon. Basically, it is just the odd way the rock has weathered.’’

Carpenter said there are several key features of a real skull that are missing, eye socket, nose opening, and teeth among them.

``The object looks more like a head than a skull,’’ Carpenter wrote. ``When a human head starts to decompose, the first areas to go are those soft tissue high in water, namely the eyes. Thus, even if the eyelids are closed, the eye socket is seen as a collapse of the eyelid into the socket. Scavengers, including coyotes, rodents, insects, etc., feed on tissue. For them it is an easy meal. That is why murder corpses in the outdoors are little more than bones.’’

Carpenter also said the structure of the material suggests it’s a rock.

``If a piece is knocked off, you’ll find that it is rock all the way through,’’ he said. ``Bone when it fossilizes still retains its structure, even at the microscopic level. ... IF this were a fossilized skull, then knocking a chip off should reveal bone structure inside.’’

Brooks B. Britt, paleontologist at Brigham Young University in Provo, says he gets these sorts of calls regularly.

``This happens all the time,’’ he said in a telephone interview. Rarely, however, do such leads result in an actual fossil.

``I’ve been doing this since I first started at BYU, and only once did something turn out to be worthwhile,’’ he said.

Most of the time, Britt says, it’s just a rock that looks like something interesting. He has seen people bring in rocks shaped like hearts, kidneys, fingers, eggs, all sorts of anatomical parts.

``It’s just the way the rock weathered naturally,’’ he said.

Britt says despite explaining this to the finders, he can never convince them otherwise.

``They just won’t listen to anybody,’’ Britt said. ``He’s always going to believe it.’’

Carpenter said it’s perfectly normal that May saw a face in the rock.

``Seeing recognizable shapes in objects (including clouds) is something the human mind is wired to do, even if it is seeing the Madonna in toast,’’ Carpenter wrote. ``Seeing it doesn’t make it so.’’

Still, Todd May is undeterred. He believes that many people have ``tunnel vision’’ when it comes to discoveries like this.

``I think people need to be more aware, open their eyes and be more aware of what’s around us,’’ he said. ``Because I think there’s a lot of ancient (things), and fossils and different things, around us that if people would just kind of open their eyes to they’d see that we walk past them every day.’’


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