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Soft training: Union Springs man raises service dogs for children with autism
For Fred Horning, training emotional support dogs is about desensitizing them to everything except harsh behavior.
"We're much more focused on the behavior than we are the obedience," he said.
Horning takes the five or six puppies in his care on road trips to Boston and the docks of New York City to expose them to the crashing of shipping crates. However, he makes sure to train them "soft," without using a loud voice. That's because Horning's service dogs will be paired with children with autism, and the dogs need to be emotionally sensitive enough to reflect what the children feel.
"You can tell what the child’s going through by how the dog is. If the dog’s happy and boisterous, it’s a pretty good indication that the child is OK," Horning said.
He breeds chocolate Labs at his farm in Union Springs every two years, and picks two out of every litter to train as service dogs for children with autism — which comes at no cost to the families. Horning said he works with an organization called Paws 4 Ability that chooses the children who receive the service dogs.
Horning chose chocolate Labs for their easy-going and nonthreatening nature, as opposed to another common service dog: German shepherds.
“There’s almost no perceived threat to a Lab. So when you give someone a service dog that already has social anxiety, giving them a dog that keeps people away is not really a way to fix or counteract that social anxiety," he said.
Horning also tries to gradually breed his dogs to be smaller to better accommodate the families, and so the dogs can accompany the children in smaller spaces like planes.
The first thing Horning does to train his puppies is put them in a car to go on long rides, and bring along his four adult Labs to demonstrate calm behavior. The puppies also learn to track scents if their child ever goes missing, show their teeth with a disguised command if the child ever feels threatened, and bark at the scent of human urine.
Another part of the desensitization training involves hanging around a couple of barber shops in Syracuse so the dogs can get used to all kinds of physical, racial and cultural diversity.
"It’s very easy to raise a pup in your little nucleus of your world, and then the pup freaks out when it sees somebody that’s over six-and-a-half-foot tall or somebody that wears a western cowboy hat or somebody whose skin’s a different color," Horning said.
He'll also put the dogs in the bed of his truck and take them around Auburn, where he often hears strangers' stories about their own dogs: "They relay a story about loss or they relay a story about life, and I’ve gotten very good at redirecting people’s sorrow," he said.
One of the dogs in the pack, T.J., is Horning's own PTSD service animal. Horning was electrocuted 13 years ago while on the job repairing telephone lines, and sounds of crackling and popping bring back traumatic memories. “I spent an unbelievable amount of time in a hospital bed, in my head," he said.
But, once he got home, Horning's dogs didn't care about the physical changes that impacted his own sense of identity. He then went on to train PTSD service dogs before switching to his current training for children with autism.
"I have a quote on my fridge and it says, 'The meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away,'" he said. "And that has been probably 90 to 95 percent of the driving reason why I do this. I want to know that I make a difference."
New York angler captures Bassmaster title on Cayuga Lake
UNION SPRINGS – When Jamie Hartman was asked if he was ready to hoist the trophy for winning the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake, all he could do was nod his head and choke back tears.
The Newport, New York, angler charged up the leaderboard Sunday from fourth after the third day of the four-day Bassmaster Elite Series tournament to win it all on the final day. But he also battled back from missing a whole season due to a back injury to claim his second victory in the last three series events.
The two-time series champion captured the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro, Alabama, and finished 20th in last week’s Berkley Bassmaster at St. Lawrence River in Waddington — the first of two straight stops in New York State for the series.
“I don’t even know what to say. I did not expect this at all,” Hartman said on the stage in Frontenac Park in Union Springs, after the top 10 anglers weighed in and he was declared the winner. “I dug myself out of a big hole from day one, and it seems to be a trend of mine. Start from behind, don’t start ahead, and I’m good.”
With his injury, Hartman said, “it was literally down and out last year,” as he told himself he had to return to the series because he had worked too hard to get there.
“This is what I work for,” he said. “That first one is special. But this, this is the best one ever and ever will be – in my home state, in my home crowd. This is not just for me. This is for everybody. Who wants to touch it?”
With that, the angler jumped off the stage and allowed anyone from the strong audience in the park to come up, touch the trophy, shake his hand or give him a high-five, and express their congratulations. He spent the next several minutes in a makeshift receiving line.
Hartman’s final haul of 22 pounds, 4 ounces for a total of 80 pounds, 13 ounces bested Keewatin, Ontario, Canada’s Jeff Gustafson’s numbers of 15, 14 and 80, 3. Gustafson led after the second and third days of the tournament and had hoped to become the first Canadian to win a Bassmaster Elite event.
“I’m a regular guy. My dream was to do this, and I’m here,” Gustafson said. “I get asked a lot, ‘What do I need to do to be a pro fisherman?’ The most important thing is you’ve got to fish a lot. You’ve got to be able to catch fish. … I grew up fishing every minute I could. Thanks to my dad and my grandpa, I’m up here.”
Gustafson pointed out a couple of fellow Canadians on the Bassmaster Elite circuit and said there is a strong fan base behind them in their home country, as each of the anglers seeks to make history as the first Canadian winner.
“People go bananas up there,” Gustafson said, joking that the cold Canadian winters keep people inside watching bass fishing on television. “I’ve gotten messages from so many of my friends the last few days. I really appreciate it. We have a lot of good fishermen, a lot of good tournaments. We love it just as much as everyone south of the border does.”
Making the biggest leap up the leaderboard on Sunday was Brandon Lester, of Fayetteville, Tennessee, who started the final day in 10th place but climbed to sixth with a final haul of 20 pounds, 6 ounces for a total of 75 pounds, 9 ounces. The second-highest day four haul came from a spot Lester fished earlier in the weekend.
“I started there this morning, and man, it was lights out. That’s where I caught every single fish, off of that one little spot,” he said as he explained his strategy and the equipment he used. “It’s been a phenomenal week. … Gosh almighty, I love this lake, I love New York.”
Lester loves New York so much, he said, that he wrote an article earlier in the year for Bassmasters.com listing his top five states to fish in – and New York was No. 1.
“That’s saying a lot because I’m from Tennessee, and we’ve got a lot of good fisheries around, the Tennessee River and all that,” he said. “I’ve always jived well with all these New York fisheries. I love them all, and I love coming up here. I always will.”
Police: Two Auburn men violate stay away orders
Auburn police arrested two men for violating court orders to stay away from specific people, said Auburn Police Department Lt. James Slayton.
Lee Michael Potter, 29, of 123 S. Fulton St. in Auburn, arrived at the residence of the person benefiting from the order to stay away — also known as an order of protection — and started banging on the door Tuesday night, Slayton said. He said Potter did not enter the residence and was found by police a short time later in the area.
According to the police report, Potter was arrested on Chapman Avenue around 1 a.m. Wednesday and charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a class E felony.
Police also arrested 31-year-old Austin Richard Deal at his residence at 36 Cayuga St., Apt. 1, in Auburn because Deal was seen with a person who has an order of protection against him, Slayton said. He was charged around 11 p.m. Tuesday with the class E felony of first-degree criminal contempt.
Former Cayuga County undersheriff dies of illness stemming from 9/11 recovery efforts
A former undersheriff for the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office died Thursday of an illness related to his service in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Stephen B. McLoud, 59, served 23 years with the sheriff's office in multiple positions, Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck said in a news release. McLoud, who was chief criminal investigator for the sheriff's office at the time, assisted in the search and recovery efforts after 9/11.
His death almost 18 years later was caused by "an illness stemming from his assignment at the World Trade Center site," according to the release, which deemed his passing a "line of duty death."
McLoud started his career with the sheriff's office as a deputy sheriff in June 1983 and went on to serve as criminal investigator, the chief criminal investigator, and the undersheriff before retiring in December 2006. The position of undersheriff that McLoud assumed in 2003 is second-in-command to a county's sheriff.
McLoud, who was also a member of the Weedsport Fire Department for more than two decades, is survived by his wife and two children. He discussed the demands of his new position as undersheriff in a 2003 interview with The Citizen.
"Over 21 years, there has been many times when my responsibilities have taken me away from my family," he said at the time. "I greatly appreciate the support that I get from my family."
The White Chapel Funeral Home in Weedsport is in charge of arrangements, which had not been formalized Thursday.
Auburn man sentenced for stealing firearms from home in Conquest
AUBURN — An Auburn man was sentenced in Cayuga County Court on Tuesday to five years in prison, and was granted an override of violent felony status.
Raymond Allen, 38, formerly of 293 Seymour St., Auburn, was arrested in February after the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office received a tip that he illegally possessed a long gun. Deputies and Auburn Police Department officers found the long gun and three other guns within hours of the getting the tip. The firearms had been stolen from a Conquest residence on Aldrich Road, according to a release from the sheriff's office at the time.
At the time of his guilty plea, Allen was promised a conditional sentence of five years in prison followed by five years of post-release supervision. He pleaded guilty June 11 to second-degree burglary by illegal entry of a dwelling, a class C felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a class E felony. Allen was also sentenced Tuesday on the class D felony of third-degree welfare fraud.
Defense attorney Joseph Sapio said in court on Tuesday that Allen had a "substantial" history of drug addiction and requested that Judge Mark Fandrich consider a violent felony override and a shock camp component be added to the sentence for additional "discipline, drug treatment and drug care."
Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said he didn't believe those requests would be appropriate and noted that there were other charges satisfied by Allen's plea. Allen's plea satisfied additional charges of fourth-degree grand larceny related to a firearm and another charge of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, both class E felonies.
Fandrich did not grant Allen shock camp on Tuesday. "I do believe Mr. Allen's underlying cause, the driver of this crime spree, is (his) addiction. On that basis, I'm going to grant the violent felony override," he said.
Allen received the previously promised sentence of five years in prison followed by five years of post-release supervision on the burglary charge. He will also concurrently serve two sentences of 1.3 years for the possession and welfare fraud convictions, both of which carry maximum sentences of four years in prison.
Also in court:
• Christopher Liddle, 31, formerly of 5126 Route 34, in Auburn, was sentenced to four years in prison followed by five years of post-release supervision.
Auburn police tackled Liddle when he charged at them on Feb. 26 while holding a folding knife, after officers responded to a domestic disturbance at a Cottage Street residence. Police said at the time that a verbal argument escalated when Liddle stomped on a woman's bare feet with his work boots and continued to harass her by pushing her into a door and punching her in the head. He fled the scene before police arrived.
Though Budelmann said he felt Liddle made statements in the pre-sentence investigation that minimized his actions, he said he didn't see a reason to change the previously agreed upon sentence.
Fandrich imposed the conditional sentence promised at the time Liddle pleaded guilty on June 11 to two counts of menacing an officer, class E felonies, and one charge of aggravated family offense, also a class E felony. Liddle was given two sentences of four years in prison for both of the menacing convictions, and one sentence of two to four years in prison for the aggravated family offense. All the sentences will be served concurrently, and an order of protection was issued for the victim.
• Fandrich postponed the sentencing of 33-year-old Michael Gainey to Sept. 10. Gainy pleaded guilty June 11 to second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon, and was promised a conditional sentence of five years in prison followed by three years of post-release supervision in exchange for his plea.
On Jan. 4, members of the Finger lakes Drug Task Force recovered an assault rifle, more than two pounds of marijuana and $1,500 in cash from Gainey's residence at 3 Spring St., Auburn, via a search warrant after a five-month long investigation into the sale of narcotics and marijuana.
Fandrich adjourned sentencing so the prosecution could review the case in response to defense attorney Rome Canzano's request for a violent felony override.