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Chez Davis was graced at Christmas with the presence of a dog so completely worthless she makes the resident Torpid Trio look downright industrious.

Bandita, the longtime burden of Dr. Sister-in-law, the vet, is a corgi, and getting on in years. Walking is no longer easy or pleasant for her, which has added considerably to her girth, to the point that her current nickname is “Sausage Dog,” a strikingly apt description.

She is a dog of considerable personality, not shy about demanding her due in the form of copious pats, leading to copious belly rubs. And woe betide the person who stops patting/rubbing before the regal pooch is satisfied. She doesn’t merely push her nose under the offending idle hand, she barks sharply in an imperious tone I can imagine Queen Victoria using to the peasant in charge of her belly rubs (though history actually is unclear about whether she required very many belly rubs in the first place).

She’s actually pretty endearing to us primates. She has an extremely cute trick of eagerly running up to someone who enters the room, flopping over on her back and pawing the air, suggesting that pats are needed on an emergency basis. It’s very hard not to stop and oblige her.

On the canine social front, however, Bandita combines the more domineering traits of U.S. Marine Corps drill sergeants and the kind of jail guards I imagine they had in the Soviet Union. Our newest addition, Cooper, the border collie-hurricane cross, has thoroughly cowed his more sedate pack members, Zeke and Rhys, his energy and size proving more than a match for their more sedate personality stylings.

But ’Dita punches well above her weight (she’s fat, but short, since corgis have no legs, only feet) in the dominance department. Within a few minutes she had Cooper terrified of her, deferring to her combination of bluster and actual biting even in the jostling for treats department, usually a venue in which Cooper brooks no competition.

Her trick is persistence. This was their first meeting, and Bandita’s opening move was not some wimpish, conciliatory butt-sniff or bid to play one of the dog games (bite, chase, bite and chase, pee on the spot) but a direct challenge, teeth bared, beady little eyes rolling wildly, vicious growls emitting from jowly throat.

Cooper is basically a cheerful, friendly dog and he’d never met this level of aggression, especially not from a dog resembling a large bratwurst with four cocktail toothpicks protruding from its nether side, so he backed down.

And every time the two came nose to nose for the next several days, Bandita did the same thing, her rabid wolf imitation prevailing over Cooper’s attempts to make friends every time. By the time he thought to try retaliation, it was too late. He was in the habit of submitting, and anyway, the human contingent was in no mood to put up with any dogfights in the middle of the Christmas gorging. His look of betrayal, “E tu, primates?” when we scolded him for trying to get his Christmas rawhide treat back was sad and comical at the same time.

But Bandita will leave sometime soon, and Cooper will be back to his old self, knocking things over and plotting ways to murder more poultry. Maybe I can shoot a little video of Bandita for when we need to calm him down.

Alumni football coming to county

Wouldn’t every former football player like to strap on a helmet one more time? Alumni football is coming to Waldorf. Gridiron Alumni is planning several full-contact alumni football games.

Gridiron Alumni travels the nation pitting old football rivals against each other one more time. Players are needed to sign up and the first 40 players on each team get to play. The team that gets 30 people registered first gets home-field advantage, according to a news release from the nonprofit.

This spring, hundreds of players and thousands of fans swarmed stadiums to watch their hometown heroes line up one more time. Gridiron Alumni is targeting more of the biggest rivalries in the nation for its Gridiron Alumni Rivalry Series. Teams from North Point, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools and other area teams are forming now. The games are set for early spring.

Go to www.gridironalumni.com to register. Call Chris at 530-410-6396 with questions.

Gridiron Alumni was founded in 2010 and has raised more than $150,000 for schools and charities using alumni football games as a fundraising vehicle. Gridiron Alumni football has changed lives, communities, and given thousands of men their spark back, according to the news release.

Despite farm bill lack, funding available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland has $11 million available for producers interested in improving the health and productivity of their land in 2013.

“Many farmers may not realize that even though the 2008 Farm Bill has expired, NRCS is still offering technical and financial assistance to address resource concerns on crop and grazing lands, protect wildlife habitat, and keep land in agricultural production,” said Tom Morgart, Acting Maryland NRCS State Conservationist, in an NRCS news release.

Farmers can sign up for conservation programs throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times and the first cutoff date is Jan. 18. It is especially important for producers to get their applications in as soon as possible to be considered for limited funding.

“The Environmental Quality Incentives Program or EQIP is our most robust offering with many options for Maryland producers,” Morgart said in the release. “This year, we have important livestock-related practices including manure storage, stream protection, heavy use areas, nutrient management planning, and manure management systems.”

The National EQIP Organic, Energy, and High Tunnel Initiatives are back to help producers who are certified organic growers or working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production, help eligible producers plan and implement high tunnels, help producers to develop farm energy audits, and implement energy-saving conservation practices. Conservation Activity Plans are also available to help farmers better manage their resources.

The Agricultural Management Assistance or AMA program will offer irrigation related practices in 2013.

Contact a USDA service center listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Maryland website at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.

Night of Ryans at CSM La Plata campus

Everyone is invited to “a night of Ryans” at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 in the theater on the La Plata campus of the College of Southern Maryland at 8730 Mitchell Road. Actors nominated to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships as a result of their outstanding performancesare Rami Essa in “Our Town; Jamie Burroughs and Charles Watley in “Red Herring”; and Aimee Bonnet and Jeremy Hunter in “Urinetown.” Come out to see their competition-ready performance scenes.

Admission is free but donations to help fund the nominees’ trip to the competition venue are welcome and encouraged. Go to www.csmd.edu.

Wind Symphony blows chamber music into North Point

Chesapeake Wind Symphony the “Teacher Band” Chamber Music Concert will be 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at North Point High School at 2500 Davis Road in Waldorf. The concert will be conducted by Marvin Van Dyke and will include works by Stravinsky, Jacob, Strauss, Mendelssohn, Vaughn Williams, and Persichetti.

Wisner album released

The Calvert Marine Museum, home of folk musician Tom Wisner’s Chestory Archives, announced the release of a new songbook and CD set, “Singing the Chesapeake: Children’s Songs by Tom Wisner”

The collection of children’s songs by Wisner, the “Bard of the Chesapeake,” shares the living, streaming echoes of a unique, lifelong dedication and creative act of service Wisner’s deep commitment to environmental education and awareness, which he shared through many art forms, but especially through music, according to a museum news release.

Wisner, who died in April 2010, was drawn to a few central themes: the natural wonder of the Chesapeake Bay, the mystery of our own unity within the life web of nature, the flowing water of generations and our vital connections with the natural world, the release states. The themes are reflected in the songs “Made of Water,” “Dribus Go the Rain,” “Talked to the Heron,” “Sunshine” and “Dredgin’ is My Drudgery.” The book also includes songs by long time collaborator Teresa Whitaker and Tom’s son, Mark Wisner.

This songbook is compiled and crafted by Teresa Whitaker in editorial collaboration with Frank Schwartz and Kathleen and Michael Glaser all artists, educators and long-time collaborators with Wisner.

The songbook is enhanced with Wisner's artwork and writings, his students’ artwork and photos by other artists. It is a strong resource for Chesapeake Bay region teachers and supports the implementation of the Maryland’s new environmental literacy standards, the first in the United States.

Included with the songbook is a CD of the songs, including some tracks never heard or recorded before and some of Tom singing with children.

The songbook set is available at the Calvert Marine Museum store. A Tom Wisner tribute concert showcasing the songs in the book will be 6:30 p.m. April 5 for First Free Friday. Go to www.chestory.org.

Students selected to serve as 2013 General Assembly pages

Four Charles County public high school seniors were recently selected to participate in the 2013 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Page program.

The students who will serve as student pages for the 2013 legislative session are: Azeezat Adeleke of North Point High School; Murugi Thande of North Point; and Taylor Wade of Henry E. Lackey High School. Lauren Flores of La Plata High School was selected as the student page alternate.

The opportunity to serve in the legislative page program is offered annually to Charles County Public Schools seniors. Students who apply are selected through a series of interviews. Applicants must also write an essay to describe their interest to participate in the program.

The students will work with the General Assembly as student pages for two weeks during the 2013 legislative session. During the two-week period, students are assigned to work with either the Maryland Senate or House of Delegates in Annapolis. Duties include delivering messages to staff, distributing legislative materials and working with staff committees and other legislative offices.

The program is designed to interest youth in state government and the proceedings of the legislature, increase participation in government, foster leadership skills and provide students with worthwhile experiences in state government.

Go to http://dls.state.md.us/ .

Want to be a beekeeper?

The Association of Southern Maryland Beekeepers will host a five-session beginners beekeeping course in February at the Charlotte Hall library.

The honeybee is a beneficial insect, but the stresses of the modern environment are making survival a challenge. For those interested in improved pollination, producing honey or simply improving the environment for the honeybee, the course is a gateway.

The course fee is $40 per person and is limited to the first 50 respondents. To check class availability and enroll, contact Ralph Whipkey at 240-925-2196 or ralphwhipkey@gmail.com.