Carla Ladd's dog, Dingo, stands on her shoulders during a dog obedience training demonstration.
Carla Ladd's dog, Dingo, stands on her shoulders during a dog obedience training demonstration.
There was a Carla had a dog, and Dingo was his name-o, D-I-N-G-O, D-I-N-G-O...

"This is Dingo, and he's about 6 years old," said Spring Valley dog obedience trainer Carla Ladd, introducing her "pound puppy" while speaking to students at St. Johns Lutheran School in Wykoff last Thursday afternoon, as part of the school's observation of Lutheran Schools Week.

Ladd and four other speakers gave presentations on their interests, including Esther Evers sharing about her father's collection of farmer pencils, Helen Keyes demonstrating embroidery, Beatrice Eickhoff showing students the centuries-old art of quilling, Jan Poldervaard folding newspaper into "sit-upon" mats for camping, and Jennifer Augustine making music on her flute.

"How many of you have done dog training?" she asked the students, and hands went up. "I got my first taste of dog training while I was in 4-H, and I do it for a living now."

Ladd stated that the commands Dingo knows are used for maintaining his good behavior, for his safety and sometimes, for entertainment. "When I tell him to 'place,' that means to sit on an object of a different height or texture. When I give him a command, my body language tells him a lot about what I want him to do, and my voice does, too. I use a soft voice to give him commands because a dog has very good hearing, and the only time you should have to raise your voice to get a dog's attention is if they're hard of hearing, but if a dog is that hard of hearing, it probably can't hear you anyway."

She showed the students how Dingo knows to come to her or stay where he sits just by watching her hand signals. "I give Dingo signals with my hands, because it allows me to command him without my voice, and sometimes, if he were to be across the street and a car is coming, it could save his life."

She then shared how Dingo has learned to do some tricks - "some," because he hasn't figured out why she'd like him to put up a paw to shake - and how he can climb onto her back if she gets down on all fours to let him stand on her shoulders. "He has to get his balance, but he's pretty good at standing there. Dogs, like people, don't all learn at the same rate - they have different strengths and weaknesses - but he's good at standing up there, getting a look at everyone."

St. Johns Principal Karl Peterman asked, "Do these commands work with students?"

Art of quilling

In the next classroom, Eickhoff showed the students how long, thin paper strips are curled into shapes using a toothpick. She told them how the art of quilling began when scraps of handmade paper created for copying the text of the Bible was saved and used for the art form.

A bevy of delicate white snowflakes danced across the table in front of her, and a box of tiny tulips bloomed alongside them.

"These tulips are easy to make, and when I make a lot of them, I put magnets on them so I can have tulips blooming on my refrigerator," she explained.


Next door, Helen Keyes demonstrated to seven young men how dish towels, dresser scarves and quilts are decorated with French knots, daisy chains and backstitching.

"Do any of you or your mothers sew?" she asked, garnering replies that some of their grandmothers have made quilts for them, and that they wished they could at least fix the holes in their own clothing.

Keyes passed around pictures of quilts she'd made for her own grandchildren, stating, "I've made 25 quilts for my grandchildren - I've embroidered part of them and quilted around the embroidery."

More sharing

Evers' father's collection of farmer pencils - the kind that have a plastic cover and a company slogan on them - fascinated the students with the variety of unique decorations, including surgical sutures, a chicken, a boat, a pig and measurements for mixed drinks, and Poldervaard's paper-folding kept nimble fingers weaving newspaper into usable portable parking places.

Downstairs, Augustine outlined how a flute can be as small as a piccolo or as large as a person, depending on what sound the flute orchestra wants to perform. "Flutes can take the shape of whatever someone imagines them. There are some that are so big that you can't hear the sound - they're so low that you just feel it."

Pointing out that the students were learning about fine arts and skills that they might not otherwise encounter, Peterman expressed his appreciation for the presenters' volunteerism, concluding, "It's wonderful that they're willing to come to the school and show our students what they do."