Reported by Robert B. Field Jr.
Photos by Bob Loch
In a challenge to conventional wisdom that ”dog days” emerge in August,  in its often customary, defiant and impulsive manner, the Club determined that on a brilliant, sparkling April day,  it would “go to the dogs” by popular demand, and reprise an earlier favorite. More is to follow by way of explanation.
We were greeted by the outstretched hand and friendly face of Marie Brownell. The meeting was promptly called to order by President Tricia at 12:15.  She called on Senor Rice, who led us in a closely held version of that old club favorite, “ How Much Is That Doggy In The Window.” Mort didn’t seem to complain when the price escalated to an astronomical imaginary sum, assuming, of course, it was real and its future care would be placed with him.
The word got out that our speaker, Lt. George Joy of the Town of Barrington Police Department, and the “Working Dog Foundation a/k/a NH Police K9 Academy,” trained and handled ‘working dogs.’ Immediately a roar flooded the room in support of a minimum wage increase. We’ll deal more with George and his colleague Tim Keefe, a fellow handler and police officer from Dover, later. We were also advised that their boss, John Usher, was a real pro. He sets national standards of excellence for them and their dogs, but was unavailable to be present.
Lisa Beach then accepted her offer of Rotary Membership, and told of her motherhood and on-air radio personality past.
President Tricia welcomed to the podium a variety of Rotarians who pleaded for assistance from our membership. They filled 12 tables of 10, with a myriad of projects which really highlighted and displayed our Club’s breath of service.  Among the overtures were pleas for Volunteers for our Hosting  District Conference at Wentworth By-The-Sea; Vocational Award nominations; Habitat for Humanity (Women Builders); American Red Cross Blood Drive; 2015 Golf Tournament and Sponsorships; Speakers Committee Meeting; Exeter Club Trivia Challenge; and a Block Six, Happy Hour at 3S Art Space.
Donna Lewallen updated everyone on the progress being made by the Scholarship Committee to interview 18 of 33 outstanding Portsmouth High School Applicants, often forced to make early “cuts” based on family resources, knowledge of Rotary, and community service. She reported further that Rotary is the sole grantor that actually interviews candidates! We can be proud of that standard, and it encourages students to document and prepare for the “interview” protocols of the working world.
Birthday boys and girls were honored, namely, James Petersen,  Carl Brage (a Rotarian since emerging from the womb,)  Donna Lewallen,  past president, Nancy Notis, Marie Brownell, Sue Wolf and Rick Page.
Now, to the dogs! Luis Melchor was pardoned by President Tricia from his last K-9 “conviction.” She  announced that no “stuff or paraphernalia” was planted for demonstration purposes today. We were safe and the dogs, Gypsy and Grinko, were obedient and in good form before, during and after the meeting. Grinko, a male, got the call to perform. As he was being “ attacked” by Grinko, Lieutenant Joy explained the dogs were German and/or Belgian by breed, and were worth as much as $250,000, if Tier One level.  Their best years are ages 6-7-8. Before then, they are puppies and undependable. They retire at age 10. (Several Rotarian were envious.)
Dogs are trained to play, but their bites are real and unwelcoming. George, bearing proper “bite sleeve” armor, was attacked multiple times. Dogs stop when “recalled”, but they are “not a machine” and a better recall than a fired bullet. They are cared for daily by their handler and live and retire with him. In response to a female member’s question, it was revealed that female dogs train better than males. The dogs are elite athletes and, accordingly, consume a high protein diet. Navy SEALs also use dogs that are highly skilled, very carefully selected and worth a great deal. The audience was thoroughly involved and asked many questions at the conclusion of the program.
As an aside, covering the event for the Portsmouth Herald were photojournalist, Deb Cram and reporter, Elizabeth Dinan. We often have very highly talented speakers, whose messages in general, I believe, should be covered and widely shared,.
John Pappas held Raffle ticket #142286, but there was no match. Too bad, but the base win was generous. The meeting was adjourned.
Our next Speaker on April 23, Kate Baker, will be informing us on the N.H. Educational Tax Credit Program.
Respectfully submitted, Reporter Bob Field