EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 6, 2013


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to Robyn Hills, a Sanborn Regional High senior who is doing what she can to bring a little happiness to members of our armed forces overseas.

Hills has been sending care packages to troops overseas since she decided that was how she would spend money she received for her 16th birthday two years ago. She created The Jay Project, named for her cousin Sgt. Jason Santora, who died of wounds received in battle in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hills partnered with Any Soldier Inc., an organization that provides her with the addresses of men and women serving overseas and lists of what they would like. She has since rallied others to help with the effort.

Hills is a member of the Northeast Ice Skating Club, a regional U.S. Figure Skating organization based in Haverhill and Lawrence. The group helps get out the word of her efforts to assist soldiers, and also collects items at the group’s events. The club collected donations during its Holiday Skating Show in December and as a result more than 30 packages of supplies were shipped overseas to members of our military.

The items include personal care products such as foot powder and baby wipes, treats like Slim Jims and beef jerky as well as cards and letters from children and families.

These soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are risking their lives to defend our country. Simple gifts like these let them know they are remembered and their efforts are appreciated.

Well done to Hills and all who are helping with her effort.

JEERS, of a tongue-in-cheek kind, to gun-blasting canines.

A recent “dog fires pistol” headline in The Eagle-Tribune has drawn international attention to Ivan, a 90-pound German shepherd who works for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

Ivan works with Lt. John Pickles, a Methuen native. Saturday in Lawrence, police spotting a man burying something in a snowbank. Pickles and Ivan responded to the scene and Ivan dug for the buried item. His paw somehow fired a Ruger pistol buried in the snow. The bullet struck a nearby house. A police check revealed no one was injured.

The story has been retold in national and international newspapers and on television.

“People have tremendous respect for animals, and what happened is really improbable,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero told reporter Jill Harmacinski. “I also think people are happy the dog wasn’t hurt and no one else was hurt.”

And let that be a lesson to Ivan to treat all firearms with respect. Don’t be pawing around with them or they could fire unintentionally.

Harmacinski also found another instance of gun-shooting dogs in the news. A Florida man was shot in the leg when his dog kicked a gun on the floor of his truck. The man was not seriously injured.

Perhaps pet owners should think twice before scolding a “bad dog.” He could be packing heat.