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Dognapping: Shades of Cruella DeVille
Fresh strawberries just in time for Easter dessert
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Ripe strawberries are the order of the day at the small farm and stand at the corner of McKinley and Yosemite avenues. It is the eighteenth year of operation for brother and sister Fahn and Saeng Saechao guaranteeing their berries to be red all the way through – no white centers. They open at 8:30 in the mornings and close at about 7 p.m. - photo by GLENN KAHL
There was a noon-time drama that developed from a dog knapping Friday at lunchtime  in a  downtown Manteca parking lot that attracted a half dozen volunteers who turned out looking for the culprit and the missing six-month-old Morkie – a Maltese and Yorkie mix.

The dog belongs to a self-employed professional who was out of his truck for 10 minutes and had run into a Manteca tuxedo shop on Main Street.  He said he was only there for 10 minutes and knew better than to leave “Sophie” in the truck.  The dog was in her crate, but neither the crate nor the spirited pup was there when he returned.

Looking around the lot and the nearby alley, he found a man who had witnessed the theft.  He said he had seen a disheveled youth in his early 20s take the crate out of the truck and ride off down the alley.

The small dog had been a gift from his wife at Christmas and even had a chip under its fur.  It had learned just how to snuggle in their bed often unnoticed to spend the night.

There were a number of us driving around the area for the next hour pressed into service looking for someone riding a green mountain bike and wearing a dirty, red hoodie, but we had no luck.  In talking with the owner, it was obvious that he and his wife had bonded deeply with the pooch. They wondered who would have violated their lives and their space by entering their truck and taking the dog that weighs less than five pounds.

Of course the common thought was that the dog with her pink collar and its several tiny diamonds would be sold as quickly as possible to someone on the street for $25 to $50.  But after some two hours of searching the streets, a woman called the number on the pet’s tag from a neighborhood six blocks southeast of the downtown area.  She had found Sophie running loose by her house and scooped her up in her arms.  There was no sign of the carrying crate.  

As any Good Samaritan – and Manteca has many – she read the name on the tag and called the cell number to tell the owner she had found Sophie safe and sound and was worried about her fate.  It was obviously the best gift she could have given the couple she had never met – actually a returned Christmas present.

Hopefully other dog owners will be alerted by this theft, and be cautious in leaving their animals alone in vehicles – especially those that can be quickly turned around for cash on the street and too small to defend themselves.   Manteca has more than its share of auto burglaries every week – many believed to be the work of bike-riding drug addicts.

Strawberry farmers with passion for perfection
Doreen Wynn  – an advertising sales representative at the Bulletin –  came through the office Friday afternoon with a tray of fresh strawberries that she was passing around desk to desk – strawberries with stems.  She had been out to the small farm and stand at the corner of Yosemite and McKinley avenues west of town.    

Fahn and Saeng Saechao had been her advertising customers for many years and they custom picked a basket of ripe berries just for her Friday  –  and she shared. Man those were good – red all the way through.  She told me that she orders what she needs in advance and they pick them for her with the stems attached – but only through a pre- order.

So I had no choice but to make the trip down and buy half a flat to take home and get a news shot at the same time.  Fahn said he first opened that stand in 1993, some 18 years ago.  While I was standing there waiting for a chance to take a photograph, I had returning customers walk up and tell me how “delicious” their strawberries are, even just eating them out of your hand.  

While talking about ad sales people here at the Bulletin, it was interesting to learn – after doing a story on a new ad man Rick Clemens – that he is related to Samuel Clemens better known as the historic Mark Twain.  His great-great grandfather came from Missouri and he says his dad has a copy of the family tree to prove it.

Snoring has forced me into the guest bedroom – my snoring, not hers
Not that I profess to know anything about snoring and its causes other than knowing it’s more labored as men get older and it becomes  something of a plague.  It draws the ire of the sweet lady lying next to you, because she is continually awakened during the night and can’t go back to sleep.    In my case it finally got to the point where I felt guilty and moved to the guest bedroom.  Not a problem,  other than the mattress isn’t quite as comfortable and I would wake up with a raspy throat in the morning, since there was no one to interrupt the continuous noise.

After this acute habit had gone on for nearly two months, I felt there had to be something I could do to break the snoring other than surgery since there’s nothing worse than a sore throat.  Common sense suggested that there are probably a variety of causes that lead to getting a guy bumped out of the bedroom – admittedly I knew little about this physiology.

My curiosity got the better of me when doing some grocery shopping at Save Mart in Ripon, where I spent some time checking out the tooth paste shelves that included one oral hygiene tooth paste and mouth gargle that caught my eye.  The containers claimed they would counter the symptoms of bad oral hygiene including bad breath and snoring.  “Yeah, sure!” I thought.

And obviously what works for one individual won’t necessarily work for another.  But, I laid out $20, and tried it twice a day.  After a week of this, I got to move back into the master bedroom where I’ve been sleeping like a baby.  The pharmacist said there was nothing in the gargle that could cause negative effects with long term use.  While it may not work for everyone by breaking down the bacteria and the associated sulphur that develops in the throat and on the tongue, it has improved my quality of life – and my wife’s as well.  

The doctor, who developed it in 1993,  did it for his daughter who had been plagued with bad breath.  Thera Breath eventually went on the market being sold over the counter.