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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  A trained dog; a happy life
  By Bill Radford

   Linda Brennen's family had dogs when she was growing up — and how those dogs were treated is one of the reasons she became a dog trainer.
   "My parents were not the best dog owners," she said. But, she added, it was typical of that era.
   "Dogs lived in the backyard, they got shots if you could find a cheap shot clinic, and that was pretty much it," she said. People didn't use dog trainers; if a dog had a behavior problem, they got rid of it — which is what happened in her family.
   "I was determined that that's not how I wanted to live with my pets,” she said.
   Brennen has an associate degree in animal health and a bachelor’s degree in zoology. She worked her way through school as a vet tech, a job she did for 10 years. It was while in that job, after graduating, that she attended a seminar by Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and noted dog-behavior expert and founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Dunbar eventually became her mentor.
   Brennen's husband was in the U.S. Air Force, and she started dog-training programs at some of the bases as his career took them across the country and overseas. Their time in Germany "and seeing how dogs are included in everybody's lives there" was a big influence on her, she said. "The expectation there in Germany is you get a dog and your first year you spend training it."
   When her husband retired from the military in 2006, they settled in Colorado Springs; while he had never been stationed in the Springs, they had visited and liked it. And Brennen — who grew up "all over" because her dad was also in the military, the U.S. Navy –- noticed that every time they visited Colorado, "People were out with their dogs doing stuff,” she said.
   She started her dog-training business, Canine Coach, in 2009, teaching classes out of two veterinary clinics in the Briargate area, where she and her husband still live, and also offering private lessons. In 2016, she opened the Canine Coach facility in the heart of Black Forest, near Black Forest and Burgess roads; it has two training rooms, an enclosed, outdoor play area and a retail space for buying training supplies on-site. Affordability was the reason she chose the location and she has been happy with the choice, with the business gaining clients from Black Forest, Monument and the Falcon-Peyton area.
   Canine Coach has puppy and adult dog classes in the evenings and on weekends, and "dog day school" on weekdays. The training focus is on positive reinforcement.
   "Some believe in punishment," Brennen said. She doesn’t, which is one reason she doesn't believe in; for example, the use of choke collars.
   "It's all about instead of managing the dog, manage the environment so the dog learns how to make good choices," she said. "Giving dogs choices empowers them; it creates a more confident dog and one that's easier to live with."
   Clicker training is part of that philosophy. "When you're working with a shy dog or a fearful dog, clicker training is a great way to get them thinking and help them deal with some of those emotions better,” Brennen said.
   It is best to start training early, she said.
   "The younger they are, the easier it is. We like to start puppies in our program at 10 weeks." It can help to reach out to a trainer even before getting a dog; the trainer can help set up the home and pick the right dog, she said. While Brennen doesn't think any given dog is bad, she does think there can be a bad fit; for example, an overly energetic dog with an older, sit-at-home owner.
   In choosing a trainer, keep in mind that the industry is not regulated, she said. “It’s up to the consumer to be very careful when they select a trainer,” she said. “Ask about their background, check out a class, their education. Make sure it's someone who stays current in their field." Her credentials include CPDT-KA, or Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. She is also a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild and the Colorado Dog Trainers Network. Brennen is assisted by several other trainers.
   To learn more about Canine Coach, visit
Linda Brennen of Canine Coach works with two young dogs in her puppy socialization class. Photo by Bill Radford
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  Walking the labyrinth at La Foret
  By Leslie Sheley

   Labyrinths have been around for centuries. The labyrinth is a walking meditation or a path of prayer, used for many purposes like quieting the mind, reducing stress and connecting to God, a higher power or nature.
   The La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest has a labyrinth on their property. Larry McCulloch, executive director of La Foret, said a group of about 12 to 18 people who had attended the center’s annual Contemplative Camp for about 20 years, decided they wanted a labyrinth.
   In 2005, the group worked with La Foret staff to select the site; they trucked in 40 tons of river rock; and recruited people from a nearby church, the local Scouts, family members and friends to help place the rocks, which took five years, McCulloch said.
   “The labyrinth is designed with the same pattern as the labyrinth at Chartres, Cathedral in France, but this one is twice the diameter at 85 feet, since it is outdoors,” McCulloch said. “It has been a tremendous asset for La Foret, and what is even better is that the group wanted to make it available to everyone.”
   “Contemplatives try to quiet their minds and put themselves in the presence of God, and we realized walking a labyrinth was a wonderful tool as it quiets the soul,” said Rev. Sally Palmer, who has led the Contemplative Camp since 1992. “We used to go to other local labyrinths in the area, but Don Seymour, long time Contemplative Camp member, decided we needed our own labyrinth, and we approached La Foret to get permission.” After finding the perfect spot, Seymour and Eileen Abbattista, another camp participant, mapped out the labyrinth before they placed the river rocks.
   “We decided to model our labyrinth after the one at Chartres because it is the model as symbolic, meaning for walking meditations,” Palmer said. The Chartres built their labyrinth for anyone who wanted to do a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but could not afford it. They made a substitute pilgrimage to their grand cathedral instead, Palmer said. According to the Chartres Cathedral website, pilgrimages to Chartres take place yearly and is considered “a great Christian pilgrimage,” often bringing thousands of walkers together.
   Don Seymour died just months after visiting in the summer of 2018 to re-dedicate the labyrinth. “There is a stump in the middle of the labyrinth, which is symbolic of being in the presence of God, and Seymour would cut and varnish a new one and bring it every summer,” Palmer said. “His son will take over that tradition now.”
   La Foret offers a brochure explaining the labyrinth and its three-fold mystical path.
   McCulloch said everyone is welcome to use the labyrinth but they ask that individuals or groups schedule a time to ensure their visit does not conflict with activities or camps at La Foret. Call 719-495-2743 to schedule. La Foret is located at 6145 Shoup Road in Black Forest. Visit
   The Contemplative Camp will be held July 14-20 at La Foret.
La Foret staff and many volunteers placed 40 tons of river rock on the labyrinth at La Foret — it took five years to complete the project. Photo by Brad Carroll, assistant executive director/operations manager
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  The columbarium at Black Forest Lutheran Church
  By Leslie Sheley

   In 2007, the Black Forest Lutheran Church added a columbarium on its property to accommodate the urns of church members.
   “The term columbarium comes from the Latin word for a ‘dwelling place of a dove;’ Christians believe the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit,” according to A columbarium is a vault, or wall, with niches to store the cremated remains of the deceased. A niche is a shelf-like space in the columbarium structure that holds the urns.
   The Black Forest Lutheran Church columbarium consists of 96 units — two units of 48 each — with space on the property to build two more, depending on the desires of the church members, said Duane Steinke, a columbarium committee member.
   The church started exploring the idea by visiting other columbarium sites. In 2005, they made recommendations based on their findings and started the process; two years later, they completed the structure.
   “Most of the places they visited had columbarium’s [sic] that were attached to or connected to the building, but we have a lot of property so we chose a hill a ways from the church buildings amongst the trees where it is quiet and peaceful,” Steinke said.
   “Most people still hold a funeral in the sanctuary and a brief service at the site just like a traditional service; but they choose to have a quiet, private place to come and spend time with their loved ones in the future.”
   Steinke said he and his wife originally made more traditional funeral arrangements for themselves but once the church agreed to have its own columbarium, they changed their minds. “It just made sense to be there since we are associated with the church, it’s close for our family and could be a common place for our own children and grandchildren to also use if they want to; and it’s more reasonably priced than more traditional places,” Steinke said.
   The church brochure states that the columbarium is tended to by members of the congregation, and it is available for church members and their extended family, along with former members.
   Lavonne Hidy, a member of the church, said her husband’s urn is at the Black Forest columbarium. “Jim and I wanted to make it easier on our children by having our funeral arrangements made ahead of time; he since passed away in 2013,” Hidy said. “I feel closer to him because when I’m at church, which is often, I can look over at the columbarium and know he is there, and even though it’s very emotional, it’s also very comforting.
The Black Forest Lutheran Church columbarium consists of 96 units — two units of 48 each. Photo by Leslie Sheley
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  Wildfire presentation

   Black Forest Together is presenting information on wildfires Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Black Forest Fire Department.   
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  AARP Black Forest
  Stop the bleed

   The public is invited to attend a free session on how to stop accidental bleeding until emergency responders arrive. These first-aid techniques, provided by a UC Health team of paramedics, could save a life. The training will be provided Feb. 13, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. The session is open to the public. The training demonstrations will be provided to small groups, so please contact Ray at 719-495-6767 or Stan at 719-596-6787 for reservations if you plan to attend.   
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.”  Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The next meeting of the Black Forest Women’s Club is Feb. 14 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. Parking lot is in the back. Use the ramp and go in the first door on the right. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. The February program will be presented by UC Health on how to prevent falls. Visitors and guests are always welcome. For information, call Carol 719-495-3846.   
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