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Special ed kids treated to canines and cuisine

May 17, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — With a "reward object" perched on the small of his back, Javier "Javy" Bojorquez looked around anxiously.

On voice command, a barking brown dog pounced toward 15-year-old Javy and suddenly stopped, tongue wagging.

"See how well she is trained?" asked Tony Garcia.

Garcia is an inspector with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and is based at the downtown Calexico Port of Entry.

On Wednesday he led his partner, a drug-sniffing Belgian Malanois named Kyra, through a demonstration of her skills to the delight of special education students from the Calexico Unified School District.

The demonstration was one of the anti-drug activities the kids participated in after they ate their fill at a spaghetti luncheon in the Calexico Elks Lodge on Rockwood Avenue.

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Still lying on his stomach, Javy looked around as if he had been forgotten.

Garcia gave Kyra a different voice command and the dog carefully snatched the "reward object" off Javy's back.

The children, their assistants and the assembled audience applauded.

The small brownish "reward object" Garcia uses with the dog looks like a chew toy but Garcia said the dog is not allowed to chew it.

He explained to the kids how the dog views the job of sniffing for narcotics or humans as a game until she can play with the object again.

In addition to Kyra, the children were entertained by Boomer, a fruit- and chorizo-sniffing dog employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

After the respective canine demonstrations, the kids grooved to the tune "Electric Avenue" the hit of one-hit wonder Eddie Grant.

The event was sponsored by the U.S. Customs, the INS, the Calexico Police Department and the USDA.

Customs agent Luis Cota said it was important to recognize and put on presentations for special education students because sometimes they are ignored in comparison to athletes or academics.

"Everyone needs to be recognized," Ortiz said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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