Gabe Gregoire

Gabe Gregoire

Former Mainer Comes Back with Something to Show

Those of us who ever aspired to a career in writing have seen and heard it a hundred times: “Write what you know.” Well, successful author and former Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland volunteer, Amy Sutherland, knows shelter pets. And that’s what she’s written about, in her newest book, Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes.

Go to her Book Talk and Author Meet & Greet at the ARLGP’s new facility at 217 Landing Road in Westbrook on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. to have a book signed and hear her discuss her experience, in all its breadth and depth, with animals who need new families (‘humanless,’ not so much ‘homeless,’ she says). RSVP for the event at

The book itself contains a wealth of anecdotes and information, not only from the Boston Globe columnist’s personal experience with institutionalized animals, but also regarding shelter practices nationwide, keys to understanding the behavior of needy dogs, even tidbits about famous canines from history, like Bummer and Lazarus, San Francisco’s famous 19th-century strays; Sido, the sheltie mix who inspired the ‘no-kill’ movement; and Sallie, the Civil War dog who played a part in the Battle of Gettysburg. Of course, Sutherland’s most heartfelt tales come from her time raising Penny Jane, the incredibly skittish stray from a Maine farm who tested the author to the limits of her patience before the two of them fell in love forever. And on top of all that, you’ll get to see landmarks in the Portland area mentioned in a national memoir, not an altogether common experience thus far.

Longfellow Books has jumped in to have plenty of copies of Rescuing Penny Jane on hand at their Monument Square location, and they’re proud of the partnership. Twenty percent of all proceeds from copies of the book sold at their store for the event will go to benefit the ARLGP and the animals that are there, waiting for you.

For more information: (207) 854-9771

  • Published in Pets

Look At All Those Stops!

Question: What’s the only musical instrument you can walk through? Answer: The mighty Kotzschmar organ. You know the one; you may have been subject to its booming resonations during Catholic Mass as a child, or even currently. Well, there is more to that melodic apparatus than meets the eye, and Portland’s own municipal Kotzschmar organist and attendant to the organ in Merrill Auditorium, Ray Cornils, is out to reveal exactly what the instrument is all about.


The event is Kids & Kotzschmar: Family Concert, and it will take place at Merrill (20 Myrtle St.) on Sunday, March 5 at 3 p.m. Buy tickets at (Adults $18, Seniors $16, Students $13, Kids 12 and under free). Families are invited to show up an hour before the concert to participate in instrument-themed activities and games.


Children (and interested caregivers) will learn how the Kotzschmar produces its incredibly broad range of sounds, as well as being let in early on the brand new sounds that Portland’s municipal instrument is capable of, thanks to recent adjustments and additions. Our organ is maintained and promoted by local nonprofit Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO), founded back in 1981. They put on over a dozen concerts each year. You may remember the recent live scoring of the 1920 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (publicized in these pages), a silent movie starring Drew Barrymore’s grandfather, John Barrymore. Boston-based organist Jonathan Ortloff accompanied the action in a fearfully good manner. This week, the spirit is lighter, so gather the brood and run downtown on Sunday.


In the meantime, FOKO needs the help of locals in order to promote concerts, maintain, repair and enhance the organ, sponsor lectures and organ demonstrations and tours and support their educational programs so that they can bring multisensory experiences like this one to kids in Portland and the outlying areas. Should you be inspired to give a little (or a lot), navigate to and be as generous as you can.


More info:


  • Published in Kids

"I went for a walk in the woods..."

Many of us sometimes find time to escape the city and go to where the air is a little fresher, the birds are a lot more numerous, and we are surrounded by the swish of the wind in the treetops as we walk for miles through terrain that might have looked the same, hundreds or even thousands of years ago. We reconnect. We remember who we are, at heart, as human beings. As Thoreau put it, we go “for a walk in the woods, and [come] out taller than the trees.”


One man, Jeff Ryan, followed the principle to its extreme and, with a friend, hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail for the 28 years between 1985 and 2013. He has just published a book about the experience, Appalachian Odyssey: a 28-year hike on the Appalachian Trail, and he presents it using stunning photography, first-person narrative and frequent humor, at Frontier (14 Maine St, Brunswick) on Thursday the 23rd at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6.17 with the service fee at and are non-refundable, although Frontier promises to give ample notifications of any postponement or cancellation. Bonus: Proceeds go to benefit Teens to Trails, a nonprofit that promotes local high-school outing clubs.


Of course, when a hiker feels the itch to get out and away, and there’s a few feet of snow on the ground, skis, snowshoes and fat bike tires are necessitated. Portland Trails has that all covered, at Bike, Shoe, Ski the Conant Property, at 105 Conant Street in Westbrook at 11 a.m. on Sunday the 26th. The cost is $7.00. This is Portland Trails’ newest property, and one which you already may have enjoyed during the summer months, but they promise that it’s even more glorious right now. Athletic locals and families are invited to explore the acres of rolling meadows and glistening trails that the Conant Property offers. It’s bring-your-own skis, bikes, snow-shoes, snow-castle building supplies, sleds, and other snow play gear. Portland Trails will have a few pairs of adult and toddler snow shoes for people to borrow as well. Board member Nate Dyer will lead a guided walk and tour through the property at 11:30 a.m., and Ernie’s Cycle Shop will provide s’mores and hot cocoa. To RSVP, visit . Call Portland Trails at 207-775-2411.


As always, it is a great idea when on the trail to leave nothing behind, except your stress. Let’s keep Maine the best-looking state in the Union. In the meantime, breathe that crisp, clean air and hold onto the invigoration. They’ll see it on your face.

  • Published in Sports

A Grab-Bag of Pet Activities

Can you name the breeds of the dogs in the ring at Westminster before the announcers say them? Do you know where to get cat toys that will actually be played with, without desperate urging on the owner’s part? Do your friends and family come to you for advice about their pets? Maybe it’s time you leave the amateur-pet-expert arena and start to go pro.

Head out to the Volunteer Orientation at Coastal Humane Society (30 Range Rd, Brunswick), on either Saturday the 25th at 10 a.m. or Wednesday the 1st at 4 p.m., and offer your knowledge and animal intuition while you train to give your time to the CHS and the cats, dogs, and other creatures they help. Men and women who go through the orientation process will become familiar with how volunteers function at the facility. Coastal staff will inform prospective volunteers on performing duties at CHS events, transporting pets, helping with administrative functions like answering phones and filing, and other peripheral animal-care activities. Register at today, as space is limited. Contact Morgan Fuller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 207-449-1366 x6 for more information.

Or perhaps you’re no expert, but know you’d like to undergo the personal transformation of becoming a pet parent. Those who have the time, energy and resources to devote to a new furry family member can attend the Petco In-Store Adoption Event (220 Maine Mall Rd in the Mister Bagel plaza) on Saturday the 4th between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland staff will be there with adoptable cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. Paperwork may be completed on site. Also, this is a national event for Petco, and they are offering a Welcome to the Family book filled with $650 in savings, when you adopt. Start your new relationship off right, and pamper your pet. Call Petco at (207) 772-9119 to learn more.

Don’t have time to volunteer, and already have a furry friend at home, but still want to help? No problem. The 3rd Annual Fitness-thon is going on at Bay Club (1 City Ctr, Ste 7, 207-772-5444) on Saturday the 4th from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Give a minimum ten-dollar donation to support the Refuge League, and enjoy a wide variety of Bay Club fitness and exercise classes, without having to sign up for a membership.

Don’t work out too hard, though, or you may find yourself panting like your own chihuahua.

  • Published in Pets

How Do You Treat Animals?

We have always been pro-animal at The Portland Phoenix, and that isn’t likely to change. The enjoyment of our city’s arts and entertainment scene, all the fun things we and our readers do on a daily and weekly basis, comes with a responsibility. As adults, we must face the debt we owe to ourselves and each other, to be decent, hardworking people who love not only on the inside, but also externally, demonstrably. Whatever you love — be it family, Maine, the universe (whatever face it wears in your mind), or one special person — you must also reach out to the furry and feathery friends that need you.


To that end, here are two local upcoming events that include a connection between the human and animal worlds:


First, stop by the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland’s Wellness Clinic, on Sunday the 19th at 10 a.m. at their new facility at 217 Landing Road in Westbrook. The ARLGP is offering low-cost microchipping and vaccinations for cats and dogs, among other economical services, “to help ensure [southern Maine’s] community of companion pets are happy and healthy.” The following is a menu of what is offered:


Rabies vaccination: $15 per pet

Distemper vaccination: $10 per pet

Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccination: $10 per pet

Microchipping: $35 per pet


As always, dogs must be on leashes and cats must be in carriers. Services are given on a first-come-first-served basis, and the public’s patience is appreciated when response is high and wait times may reach 20 minutes or so. More information is available at and the ARLGP’s phone number is 207-854-9771.


Now to switch gears, since we have heard of families adopting birds, only to find that the avians’ needs are too hard to understand, even inspiring fear in some smaller family members, we suggest attending Owls at the Library! at the Riverton branch of the Portland Public Library (1600 Forest Ave.) on Thursday the 23rd at 1:30 p.m. to learn more about what makes wild birds tick, perhaps extrapolating to apply the knowledge to a prospective pet cockatoo or parakeet. Adults and children alike will learn scads about Maine’s native owls, starting with slides and sounds and progressing to inspecting talons, wings and skulls, and finally, the piece de resistance, a visit with three live birds under the care of Chewonki’s Traveling Natural History Program. The event web page is at and the Riverton Branch’s number is 207-797-2915.


Remember, part of being a higher life form is caring for those lower down on the evolutionary chain. Plus, these creatures are just plain great!

  • Published in Pets

That Time of Year Again...

It’s February vacation. The kids aren’t old enough to leave them at home alone. Their aunts and uncles work nine to five, like you, and they already have your nieces and nephews to worry about. Could we put them all in a room with a TV and a fridge and tell them to stay there while we’re at work? Why don’t they just have school year-round, maybe forty hours a week, like us? What if we quit our jobs and traveled the country in an RV, a family of vagabonds?


Hold on a minute. Don’t go crazy. For a couple bucks, there are some great February vacation camps for kids, right here in Portland. Enriching ones, at that. Try one of these three:


It’s Winter in Narnia, at Portland Stage Company (25A Forest Ave). This is a theater-immersion camp that runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday the 20th to Friday the 24th, for $280 per child, grades 3-5. Register at or call 207.774.1043 x104. Students will travel through to a magical land and participate in games, artwork, and performances, all having to do with C.S. Lewis’ classic tale, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. On the final day of camp, parents and caregivers will be invited to an open-classroom show by the kids, to demonstrate what they’ve been doing during the week.


Or, if your progeny is a little chef, send him or her to TIQA Pan Mediterranean’s Vacation Cooking Camp for Kids (327 Commercial St). This camp costs $350, and it’s for kids aged 11-14. It runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a snack and lunch each day. Learn more at . Students will learn kitchen safety, knife skills, how to make an emulsified salad dressing, how to blanch and shock vegetables, how to make homemade stock, slow stirring and cooking, seasoning and sauteing, and more. The culmination of the week is a meal where campers will be asked to invite two people apiece to enjoy the three-course meal prepared and served by the campers. A snazzy TIQA Camp T-shirt is part of the deal, as well. TIQA’s number is 207-808-8840.


Finally, for burgeoning scientists and engineers, there’s Eureka! The Inventors Camp, at East End Community School (195 North St). This camp runs Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with available aftercare until 5:30 p.m. The price is $54 per day, or $200 for all four days. Students aged 5-12 will use basic materials, simple machines, tips from famous inventors and, most importantly, their own ingenuity, to create fun inventions like mini-catapults and working circuits complete with batteries and light bulbs. Register your child at and help Mad Science of Maine inspire local youths to pursue their interests in science.


Come on, you weren’t just going to let the dog watch them, were you?

  • Published in Kids

On the ice or on the court, a solid weekend

If it wasn’t time for true winter sports a week or two ago, it is now. The GOAT has added another ring to his collection, and football is over. The kids in Portland are suiting up and smacking slapshots down at the pond at Deering Oaks. Until Tuesday’s snowstorm, some of them were shooting hoops on the outdoor courts around town, too. It’s in our blood; we have to be active and compete, or, at the very least, look on as others do. In February in Maine, as we have mentioned in these pages, that means hockey and basketball. So do what you do to get your heart rate elevated a few times a week, and in the meantime, watch the seasoned athletes go at it, at these three local games coming up:


On Thursday the 9th, the Maine Red Claws, the NBA Development League Celtics team, are up against the Northern Arizona Suns. (Guess whose farm team they are.) The game is at 7:00 p.m. at the Portland Expo (239 Park Ave). Tickets range in price from $7.00 to $32.00 at with four additional price tiers above that, available upon inquiry at (207) 210-6655. The Suns’ center, Gracin Bakumanya, a native of Democratic Republic of the Congo, is 6’11” and just as fast as he is gawky, at 220 pounds. Go find out what Red Claws coach Scott Morrison’s strategy is for getting around that reach.


On Friday the 10th at 7:00 p.m., The UMaine Black Bears men’s hockey team squares off against Notre Dame, at the Cross Insurance Arena (1 Civic Center Sq). Tickets are $18.00 at (click on Sports, then Hockey). The Black Bears are skidding through a 2-game losing streak. Their last victory was against UMass in Orono on January 28th. Let’s see if captains Blaine Byron, Cam Brown, and Eric Schurhamer and the boys can beat up the Fighting Irish.


If that’s not enough to whet your appetite for winter sports, no problem. Take a break, take your honey out on Saturday night, and then sneak off on Sunday to catch a second Red Claws game, against Grand Rapids at the Expo at 1:00 p.m. Those guys are hoping to get called up to the Pistons; we’re hoping our Claws help them blow a tie rod. You’ll get home ready to face another week of work, knowing you’ve rooted your heart out for the home team. (You’re not from Detroit, are you?)

  • Published in Sports

Should Your Kid Question What's Accepted?

Remember how the Red Hen was making a loaf of bread, and any animal that said, “Not I,” when she asked, “Who will help me?” didn’t get any of the fresh-baked bread? And remember how the ugly duckling, the one that all the other ducks picked on, ended up developing into a beautiful swan? Well, forget all that. It’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Jack’s giant snacks on the Red Hen, and the Ugly Duckling grows up to be an ugly duck. Those and many other nursery rhymes and fairy tales are turned on their heads. And the children’s book has been adapted for the stage by John Glore, to be produced at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine (142 Free St, 207-828-1234), opening performance on Friday the 17th at 4:00 p.m. For this show only, see the play and meet the actors at a festive gala party afterwards. Tickets are $18.00 at , or two punches on a Theatre punch pass (includes admission to the party after the show).


Stinky Cheese will prove to youngsters that a sarcastic wit can come in handy, as long as it doesn’t turn bitter. But building scenes in your head, scripting clever retorts for yourself, can lead to a dangerous inner space. Developing teens are especially vulnerable to retreating into their thoughts, which is exactly what happens to Caden Bosch, the main character in Challenger Deep, this month’s book selection in Portland Public Library’s Many Voices Teen Book Group. The meeting this month is Saturday the 18th at 2:30 p.m. in the teen library.


Many Voices is about diversity. Diversity is about understanding. Understanding teens like Caden, who is paranoid about his muttering peers, and lies about having joined the track team at school to go wandering for hours, imagining a world where he’s part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench. He’s paranoid there, too. Even the captain’s surly parrot is an antagonist in Caden’s mind. Soon, the young man spends so much time negotiating this mental labyrinth, that his parents have no choice but to let him get one of the scarier-sounding diagnoses. Portland teens who read the book and talk about it at Many Voices, like the younger kids learning about norms and boundaries at Stinky Cheese, will gain a new perspective. They’ll need it for the decisions they’re going to make later on.


FMI on Many Voices: contact Emily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Harper at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (207) 871-1700 x773.

  • Published in Kids

An Old Soul On Four Legs

Do you know someone who insists that their dog is the reincarnation of another dog from their family history, or even claims that their pet is a deceased human relative in a new, animal body? Or, as a dog lover, are you the one in your family who holds such beliefs? Maybe it’s a look in your dog’s eye, or just the feeling of comfort they give you, that you know only one soul is capable of giving, no matter if their original body has passed on. To be sure, there are things that happen in the universe whose workings that we, as humans, are not privy to. Who’s to say that animal reincarnation is not one of them?


In the Universal Pictures film A Dog’s Purpose, that’s exactly what’s going on, except the dog is aware that it is the same individual throughout the four canine lives the movie depicts. Viewers who have an idea of reincarnation as a process one goes through because one’s work on earth is not quite completed during the first (or first few) lifetimes, will be comfortable with the approach this film takes. The dog, Bailey, whose inner voice is spoken by Josh Gad (Bradley Cooper was originally cast in the role), is rescued from a hot car by a boy named Ethan as the story begins to unfold in the 1950s. Of course, Ethan and his family adopt Bailey, who stays with them until his death of old age, his boy now a young man with crushed dreams of athletic glory and a broken-off relationship with his one true love. Bailey’s next life is as a female Chicago Police K-9 dog. Heroic, of course, enough to go down fighting. Next, it’s a Corgi’s life, beloved by another family until another natural passing. Finally, as the escaped abused pet of a dysfunctional family not too far from where Ethan found Bailey’s previous self decades ago, well, you see where this is going.


A Dog’s Purpose met with some controversy around its release, when a video surfaced that seemed to show a dog being forced into water against its will, during production. The film’s original Los Angeles premiere was postponed due to the backlash from outraged animal lovers and animal-rights organizations. But an independent investigation by an animal-cruelty expert found that all safety measures had been observed, and that the clip had been doctored by whomever leaked it. Dennis Quaid, who plays the adult Ethan in the film, said that it did not seem, in context, that  “...the dog was frightened. The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that's what happened. They took the dog out."


Considering that A Dog’s Purpose, as of February 5th, has achieved a domestic gross of $32.9 million against a production budget of $22 million, we think it’s safe to say that no bad karma (speaking of cosmic forces at work) was incurred from the leaked-footage incident. And if the karma’s good, it might be part of your purpose to go see the film.


For the week of February 9-15, A Dog’s Purpose is playing at the Cinemagic theaters in Saco, Westbrook and Clarks Pond (South Portland).

  • Published in Pets

True Guilt-Free Fun

Move your body more, feel better. It’s a fact. It’s part of the reason why we pursue our individual sports, whether we cycle, run, ski, bowl, or just do push-ups as part of our morning routine. Athletes can testify as to the benefits of physical activity. Medical science proves it, and doctors recommend it. But the main thing? It’s fun.


However, it is possible to have a lot of fun and still be productive and helpful. That’s where Camp Sunshine and Relay for Life come in, with these two events for a cause on Saturday the 4th.


First, it’s the Camp Sunshine Portland Polar Dip, at the East End Beach, at 1:00 p.m. Camp Sunshine is an award-winning family retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake, specifically for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. At this event, the goal is to raise $15,000.00 to send six families to relax and commune together in a difficult time. The sporting part is, the way to help raise this money is to get a few friends to pledge, and run into the frigid waters of Casco Bay. Trust us, it’s a great way to get your heart rate up. The Portland dip is part of a larger “Freezin’ for a Reason” campaign to raise $350,000.00 in total, with nine dips across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. So get your water shoes and join in! RSVP online at (click on the Portland Polar Dip).


Or, try something that’s a little less of a shock to the system and a little more social, namely the 2017 Relay For Life of Greater Portland Kickoff, at The Rink at Thompson’s Point, at 1:30 p.m. The Relay for Life has been raising money to help fight cancer for years, and the idea here is to have registered online at and go to this kickoff for some energizing fun. There will be ice skating, snow tubing, and hot chocolate. Families are welcome. The first 20 people to register will get a free tubing session or a free ice skating (with skate rental) session. And everybody will be able to pick up their team captain packets, chat with the event leadership team about changes to the Relay for Life for this year, and bond with fellow relayers before the big day in May. Lifelong friendships have begun at kickoffs.


As a responsible, productive member of society and an athlete, you owe it to yourself.

  • Published in Sports
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