From ‘Batkid’ to canines: Bay Area filmmakers enter emotional world of raising guide dogs

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For Bay Area filmmakers Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, their latest collaboration, “Pick of the Litter,” was a whisker or two different from past films.

For one thing, instead of retelling an event as most documentaries do, this film is told in real time, taking the viewer along on what Hardy called a “roller coaster” of emotions.

For another, Hardy and Nachman had to give their five stars a lot of hugs, and belly rubs.

“Pick of the Litter” follows five Labrador retriever puppies — Potomac, Patriot, Primrose, Poppet and Phil — from birth through their training to become guide dogs for the blind.

Spoiler alert: Not all of the puppies succeed with the special level of training necessary for guide dogs that must keep their owners out of dangerous situations, even when it means disobeying an order. Of the 800 puppies born each year at the Guide Dogs’ headquarters in San Rafael, only 300 graduate and are given to their new owners, chosen from more than 1,000 applicants each year.

Hardy and Nachman had worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind on a few occasions in their role as NBC Bay Area journalists, but the idea to make a documentary came from Nachman’s mother.

“My mom is a journalist in New York and she did a series, following the dogs from birth,” Nachman says. “So it’s stolen from Mom. We’re also fans of the competition genre so it was the perfect opportunity to do both.”

The competition is not among the dogs for spots in the program, but in the dogs themselves. Their abilities and talents will determine whether they will eventually wear that special harness and be paired with a blind person. The audience watches as the dogs start …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Miss Manners: Four-legged dishwasher triggers strange reaction in guest

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife is in a group of four or five women who get together for brunch once a week. Usually they meet in a restaurant, but occasionally one will host the brunch in her home.

Several weeks ago, my wife hosted the event. After the meal, when she had brought the dishes into the kitchen, she put them on the floor for our dog to lick clean before putting them in the dishwasher.

One of the women walked into the kitchen and saw this, and got physically ill. She said it was the most disgusting thing she had ever seen and will never eat at our house again. Now she is demanding an apology from my wife. Is my wife required to give her one?

GENTLE READER: The image of a dog licking the plate from which you just ate would give most people pause, admittedly for reasons that, strictly speaking, defy logic.

In her head, your guest knew that the plate was not going to be returned to the table — at least not without first going through a dishwasher. But in her heart, she momentarily thought she was being asked to eat the dog’s leftovers. (Miss Manners realizes that her flights of fancy also defy logic.)

Your wife assumed, incorrectly, that the kitchen was a “backstage” area to which no guest would be admitted. The result was embarrassing to all parties. But counteraccusations — that your guest was not supposed to see something — will only raise questions in her mind about what goes on not just after, but before, the food appears on the table. Your wife should apologize and, next time, delay Rocky’s dinner until after the guests have left for the afternoon.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Ask Amy: He dumped me for his wife, but I’m sure he still wants me

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

DEAR AMY: I am a 50-year-old married woman with two boys (one still a minor). I have been married to “Randall” for 27 years.

Randall is a doctor and I’m a stay-at-home mom. He is a good provider. We have a good life, but it is deficient in passion.

Six years ago, I fell in love with “Sam,” a married man (who also has two boys with his long-in-the-tooth wife).

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Our long-distance affair lasted five glorious years until his wife found pictures of us. At her insistence, Sam reluctantly ended the affair and is remaining with her because it would “destroy her” if he left.

But he confessed to me that his passion for me endures and admitted that sex with me was the best he’s ever had.

In the year since breaking up, I cannot stop thinking of Sam. I am sure he is dreaming of me.

How can I convince Sam that life is too short to stay with a woman …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Carolyn Hax: She won’t attend this meeting because of Jesus and smoke

DEAR CAROLYN: I’ve been in a serious relationship with someone pretty wonderful for the most part of a year. We’re super compatible and it could be the real thing. But now something has come up that has made me question it.

I’m a recovering alcoholic, and got sober with the help of my family at a time when it threatened my life. It’s been nearly nine years. She’s been completely fine with it, thankfully.

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My sobriety birthday is coming up. I have an Alcoholics Anonymous home group, though I’m not particularly active in it. Still, I have a lot of friends in the group, and I’m looking forward to my birthday meeting. I really want her to come with me, but she refuses. She doesn’t think she’ll be comfortable; brings up the image of the smoke-filled room with a bunch of Jesus (which my group is not); and is just not willing to budge.

The fact that she won’t spend an hour on something this important to me has me wondering what other land mines we might find in our relationship. It …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

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