Thursday, April 28, 2016

Service Learning Event

Sex Positivity, Feminism, and Health Implications

Deirdre O'Donnell

     This social justice event was a lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be. O'Donnell was very friendly and made her presentation flow very nicely. We could definitely tell that she was passionate about the topics. One activity we did really stood out. She had us all write down what outrĂ© definition of sex it. We would then crumple it up and throw it into a bag and then randomly chose one so we all had someone else's. Although this was kind of uncomfortable because some definitions were much more explicit, it really drove one her point that there are all different types of people and how thing hunk may differ from out own opinion. 
     She also went over the definitions of transgender, transsexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and pan sexual just as we did in class the week before. O'Donnell also explained how these related to the idea of intersectionality. There was also the conversation about pro-life vs. pro-choice. Pro-life was people who were against abortion; while pro-choice was the choice to have an abortion if the mother chose to. Taking about this we talking about who this is effecting and there was a lot more than I thought. Some groups in particular she highlighted were people of poverty, children, elderly, people of color, and the southern states. 
Questions-Comments-Points to share:
     I was hesitant to go to this event because I was afraid that my opinions were going to be extremely different than what she was teaching us. However I found that she wasn't there to push her beliefs on us; but instead to inform us about the history behind this issue and who it is effecting. While also defining the different types of people and their beliefs and who they are so we could better understand what we were learning. This social event very closely related to the lesson we did in class the week before which really helped reinforce the information. Overall I thought this was a really great event and I learned a lot from it. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Empowering Education" by: Ira Shor

"Empowering Education

By: Ira Shor 

Extended Comments on Kamryn's blog

     In Kamryn's blog she highlighted a lot of great points from the Shor article. Shor is talking about education in school systems and how it is important for students to feel challenged and have the opportunity to question what they are being taught. Kamryn also brings out the idea of standardized tests and how a rigid system often times doesn't agree wit students, causing them to drop out. For example she states, "...students should be able to research anything that becomes interesting to them." I really liked that Kamryn pointed this out because people have different interests and with such a rigid system that is based around standardized tests, it isn't making for an empowering education in the classroom. Take for example if a teacher was to give an assignment about the theater; their instruction could be to know the history of it as well as the types of plays there are. However, a student who really hates the subject of history but loves the arts may find it more interesting to learn about the making of the costumes and scripts. Both students could be receiving knowledge about the theater but in ways that peaks they interests. This also allows for the students to be challenged and ask questions about their topics. 
     Kamryn also talked about the part with teacher involvement in a students education. She mentioned about a teacher taking into account every student as a person so no one feels like an outcast or like their interests aren't important. Relating to Lisa Delpit's "codes and rules of power" Kamryn wrote about the rules and codes of standardized tests on teachers concerning curriculum; while also talking about the rules and codes for the students in the classroom. There certainly has to be a happy medium which is a huge task to handle when a lot of students learn in different ways. 

     I really enjoyed this reading because I think it took into account a lot of the other readings that we have completed for class. Kamryn's blog was super helpful at organizing the main idea's of the reading as well as summarizing them.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by: Christopher Kliewer

Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

By: Christopher Kliewer


"...legitimize discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society's preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race..." (73). 

     When reading this quote I immediately thought of the class we had when we talked about SCHWAAMP and the dominant ideologies of society. "Abled-bodieness" was one portion of this that really stood out. In class we talked about how the idea of having a slim, muscular, and strong body are what is valued in society. This excludes thinner people, larger people, people in wheel chairs, and many other "less desirable" attributes. These types of people are given a label. This is the same idea as people with mental disabilities including down syndrome. School systems are labeling people with mental disabilities as handicapped; and they are placed in special courses. This can be a great tool in helping these students receive a better education; but it also limits their learning as well as their social interactions. 

"Such acceptance is the aim when children with Down syndrome join their non disabled peers in classrooms, and many schools and individual teachers have entered into this effort, which seeks and finds community value in all children." (74). 

     This section focuses a lot on the idea of community in schools between children with Down syndrome and non disabled children. Having the separate classes for special needs students sometimes can limit their social interaction. One example given was about a boy named Isaac Johnson who went to a school that was run by parents. In his classroom there were six students who has severe disabled students and ten who did not have any disability. While the classroom still kept the guidelines of a public school in mind, they allowed the children to learn in very different ways. Isaac had a lot of trouble with verbal communication but he was able to get his point across through physical movements. The teacher of this class used this as a tool in the classroom by designing an assignment that would benefit all the children. They were to put on a play about Isaac's favorite book. This would incorporate all the children with the many different aspects of the play, and still allowed for Isaac to contribute and learn but in his own way. I think that this is an incredibly important part of education. Just like in Collier's piece, it's like letting Isaac use his first language so he is more successful in the classroom. 

"It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're al kids here- kids, teachers, parents, whoever- it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's all learning is." (75). 

     Labeling children and expressing to the child that they will only be as good at their label is not a way to create a successful learning environment. Having a very relaxed feel in the classroom where it seems fun to the children rather than busy work will create a better path of learning. If they are given the chance to explore and express themselves in an open, yet structured environment, the idea of "disabled" vs. "normal" would be less prominent and possibly nonexistent. 

   The article talked a lot about having all children be on the same level and I think that is a very good way to have a classroom. However, I still believe that having special classes for special education students is beneficial to them as well as the students who are not mentally challenged as long as there still is social interaction with others. For example, in my high school there was a boy with Down syndrome and he was like a movie star. All the sports teams would high five him in the halls and everyone would cheer him, and the other members of the unified basketball team on when they played. 

One of the senior football players catching CJ for a hug after he was announced homecoming king. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Literacy With an Attitude" by: Patrick J. Finn

"Literacy With an Attitude"

By: Patrick J. Finn

Extended Comments 

     This weeks reading I found a little confused; so I chose to do an extended comment post on Katherine's blog. Katherine connected the article to Lisa Delpit's reading we did. Looking back on Finn's piece, there was a lot of Delpit coming through. For instance, he states, "'good students' were obedient students, who followed orders." (Finn 4) In most school systems children who are "told explicitly the codes and rules of power" are the most successful (Delpit). Katherine also related the text to how different children will respond to different speech patterns. This is why students need to have an adaptive teacher in a classroom. 

     In Finn's piece he uses terms like executive elite, affluent professional, middle class, and working class to talk about how a child's family effects their education. He gives the example of how five schools all in New Jersey, and predominately white, all share the same text books and other class room materials. Upon interviewing the teachers, we find that the "working class" teachers often times will skip pages because they are "too hard." So although all these classrooms have the same requirements and materials, the working class students are receiving a lesser education. There are many factors in a students education and Finn is focusing a lot on what's happening within, as well as outside of the classroom. 

This is why students need a flexible, understanding teaching to help them deal with t
heir feelings and who they are so there is more success in the classroom. 

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
     I think Finn's article was kind of all over the place. I didn't really didn't start to understand until a few paragraphs in, and even then I was still unsure of his main point. I relied a lot of reading other people's blogs this week. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The American Life Episodes 562/563

"The American Life Episodes 562 and 563"

"Separate and Unequal" by: Bob Herbert 

  • Segregation: (n) the institutional separation of an ethnic, racial, religious, or other minority group from the dominant majority. 
  • Responsibility: (n) reliability or dependability, especially in meeting debts or payments. 
  • Resource: (n) a source of supply, support, or aid especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed. 
  • Integrate: (v) to give or cause to give members of all racial, religious, and ethnic groups an equal opportunity to belong to, be employed by, be customers of, or vote in (an organization, place of business, city, state, etc.)
"One mother asked why residents did not get to vote on letting in Normandy kids..." -562
     When hearing this part of the story it reminded me of the Kozol piece we read when discussing institutional/ individual acts. Specifically when we talked about the incinerator being sent to Mott Haven instead of the East Side of Manhattan. The people on the East Side were from a richer community and had the resources to come together to vote against the incinerator. The government then placed it in Mott Haven because they had no way to refuse. "Amazing Grace" was written by Kozol in 1995 dealing with this idea of privilege because of resource. The radio broadcast from 2015 is dealing with the same issue. The middle/upper class white community didn't want the lower class black children being apart of their school system; and they were appalled that they weren't even given the chance to vote against it. In a ten year span this idea of segregation between classes and races hasn't really changed. Some groups of people still feel as if they have more rights or more worth than others. 

" crazy white kids are or how much freedom they get to be crazy." -563

     In this part a teenager named Kiana was noticing some students in her school that were white. This  is unusual because Kiana's school is mostly Latino and Black. Although these students weren't the usual faces, she was eager to go and meet them. Kiana then went on to go to a most white college in a small town. She explains to the reporter that she was eager to find out what being "white wasted" was. The quote above reminded me of our SCHWAAMP activity in class. Being white is very much valued in today's culture that even having a good time is related to being white. She gives an example of how at a football game against a rivaling school people were flashing their butts in order to taunt the fans from the opposing schools. While everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves (including Kiana herself) there was still a hint of white privileged. No one was question the crude behavior of the fans because their skin color was white. This was a great example of how white people are held to a different standard compared to other races. 

     These two radio shows as well as the article by Bob Herbert had a lot of really great connection to the texts we have worked on in class. I feel like there was a lot of Johnson in both radio shows. The first one actually says how "we won't talk about it (race)." They found that integration in schools really does help black children in schools to succeed; but no one is willing to put the effort in to it. The second radio show also picked up a lot of Johnson by using Kiana as an example. Kiana wasn't afraid to push the comfort zone and to question issued of race and privilege. She went to a high school where only 10% of the population was white. When she went to a college where 75% were white she said she was very shocked at the friendliness of them. People would wait a couple minutes just to hold the door. She also mentioned that these acts also made her hesitant because she wasn't sure if they were genuine. Kiana wasn't afraid to admit to this and talk about it though. 

The color of someone's skin should not define their privileged. Children in poverty stricken areas tend to have a higher number of black and hispanic people and white children tend to hand more opportunities in schools. However, it is not the duty of either race to "fix" one another. It should be an equal partnership of people working together. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"In The Service of What?" by: Joseph Kahne

"In The Service of What?"

By: Joseph Kahne


     The main idea of this piece was to discuss the different ways that service learning affects both parties involved. For instance, in the beginning of the article the authors give examples of two different classrooms that participated in service learning projects. Mr. Johnson's class each individually went and worked on different projects. In contrast, Ms. Adam's class worked as a whole to raise money and help a specific group of people. The rest of the article discussed how these experiences are so different but also very much alike. When reading I found myself finding benefits in each type of help. The students in Mr. Johnson's class I think they really benefitted from the experience. This type of work helps students explore different types of careers and experience all different life styles; while also helping out those in need. Ms. Adam's class however I think is creating more of a difference towards those who need help. Her class raised money and created different advertisements to help two homeless shelters. By coming together I think the class makes a greater difference in the lives of others. This brought me back to the initial question of "in the service of what?" Are people participating in service learning because they feel they have a sense of duty or are they doing it for the greater good for those in need. 

When more and more people come together to work towards a cause, a greater impact can be made. For example, the Gloria Gemma Foundation is very well known for their work towards breast cancer.

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
     I think the service learning that we do in class is mostly for our sake. We definitely do think that we are making a difference in the classroom in both helping the teachers and the students; however I think there is a level of experience that is most valued when we go. Much like Mr. Johnson's class we are learning about different ways of living as well as making a difference while we're there. Reading this made me think of Kristof's article about Rick Goff. Maybe if he had to opportunity to go out and help others, or have others come into the school to support him, he may have had a better school experience. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Safe Spaces By: Gerri August

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth

By: Gerri August


      In Gerri August's piece he argues that the LGBT lifestyle is not given enough recognition. As well as not being recognized, many LGBT children feel like their lifestyle is incorrect. The article states, "...(the) LGBT topics arise are nonverbal messages that tell youth that being LGBT is abnormal or wrong" (August). People feel uncomfortable talking about this type of lifestyle, so because of the lack of "saying the words" leads children to feel that they are wrong for being who they are. This type of seclusion is also discussed in a school setting. Teachers teach their students about different kinds of families including single parent families, adoptive families, and divorced families. Teachers make sure to include these types of lifestyles in their curriculum to help include more children. They also explain how families can come in different sizes and shapes or live in different types of houses. Even though they include all different factors, most educators take the "path of least resistance" by not talking about LGBT families. This makes it easier for adults and other children to not have to worry about understanding or offending this type of lifestyle. Ignoring the issue makes these children feel less important than others. In many instances children feel like suicide is their only option to turn to. August argues that LGBT lifestyles are equally important to any other, and they should be spoken about as freely as other family settings. 

Just because someone doesn't share the same lifestyle or sexual preference doesn't
mean they are any less of a person. It also doesn't mean that they are a bad person or make bad parents. 
Questions-Comments-Points to share:
I really enjoyed reading this article. It brings up a lot of really great points especially in the lives of children. The part where they are explaining the story of the children's show "Sugartime!" wasn't allowed to air because of the portrayal of lesbian mothers. The broadcaster company was afraid that people wouldn't watch their channel because of the exposure of an alternative lifestyle. This book was published in 2011; very close to 2015 where gay marriage was legalized. 

One part that gave a read flag though is when they are talking about teaching lifestyles in schools. I agree that gay marriage should be discussed in schools because it is a very important to recognize all families; however, I think the reason that teachers tried not to talk about it is because same sex marriage wasn't legal in all states. People want to talk about LGBT but felt they couldn't because they don't want to promote "illegal" activity. I think it was an iffy thing to talk about; but now since it's 2016 I think accepting this lifestyle and teaching children about it will be easy.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"

By: Linda Christensen


"Aria" by: Richard Rodriquez 

      In Richard Rodriguez's story he is explaining his struggles of a language barrier. Speaking spanish at home and english at school wasn't cutting it; so the nuns asked his parents to help him and his siblings practice their english at home. This soon lead to them no longer speaking spanish at all. Rodriguez is pleased that he finally fits into the culture of the people at school; however he loses the close blond he shared with his family through speech. This relates to Linda Christensen's article because she is talking about how there is a "secret learning" that takes place through children's movies.  They discuss aspects like gender, race, wealth, and physical aspects in many popular Disney movies. The students found that there were very specific portrayals for each category. Women were overly sexualized and inferior to men. African American's were seen often as servants; while fat people were seen as foolish. Take for instance when Christensen says, "there should be more women of color who play the leads in these white-on-white wedding cake tales" (Christensen 131). This reminded me of Rodriguez because he was seen as a classroom problem until he learned the english language. He states, "at last, seven years old I came to believe what has been technically true since my birth; I was an American citizen" (Rodriguez 36). A young boy didn't feel he was part of America until he was able to speak the same language as everyone else. I think this directly relates to there not being any movies for children that showcase any main characters as other races besides white. 

"White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by: Peggy MacIntosh

     Peggy MacIntosh talks about the idea of there being a level of superiority between different people. Wether it be between man and woman or between the races, there are people who have advantages because of their race and/or their color. She especially comments on noticing "men's unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged" (MacIntosh). Here she is explaining that although a white male is able to see that a white woman is at a disadvantage to him, he is less likely to admit that he has more privilege over her. This relates back to Christensen because these ideas that a white man has the most power is portrayed through these children's films. For example, most Disney princesses are not fulfilled until they find a man that they can be with. Movies like Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, and Snow White all end with the princess finding the perfect man that will make them better as a person. Each of these girls are petite and white. This excludes any other body type or race to find their "happily ever after." If more children's movies featured other "types" of people, young children like Rodriguez may feel more included in the American culture. 

Although these princesses have a few different races, they all share the same body type. This doesn't promote diversity.

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
I agree that all types of people need to be able to express themselves; and there definitely is media influence as to what is accepted in American culture. But isn't that what a culture is? A special set of rules that define what is assigned to each type of person. When reading these I found myself feeling sorry for people like Rodriguez because they are not being able to express themselves. I immediately blamed the American culture for being flawed and not accepting other. But other cultures do not follow the same ideas of the U.S. and no one seems to bother with that. Yes, America is a much more diverse country and a lot of people are uneducated about these other cultures (including myself). I think Americans also have the right to embrace their whiteness; but they cannot ignore and shun those who have other values. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016



By: Richard Rodriguez

Reflection Prompt 

       When reading Rodriguez's story it was unclear in the beginning what he was talking about. When I realized that he was faced with the issue of a language barrier the first thing that came to mind was Johnson's idea of "just saying the words." He uses the word "gringo" a lot throughout his story when referring to others who don't share the same hispanic culture. This was of using the words I think shows the social norm in America of white, english- speaking people. Learning a new language can often time she difficult; especially when someone is thrown into that environment where speaking a different language is a must. Rodriguez's story is a prime example of how someone in a minority situation is at a disadvantage because of the "rules" set up by society. 
       In comparison to Rodriguez's experiences, I also find the language barrier very frustrating. In spanish class if I am asked to answer a question I feel uncomfortable answering because I know it won't be correct. However the biggest different between Rodriguez and I is that I know that the other students in the class are also struggling with the same language. He feels that he isn't even "allowed" to use the english language. He states, "I moved very far from the disadvantaged child I had been days earlier" (Rodriguez 36). Feeling in the minority he and his family changed to assimilate into american culture. This lead to him feeling like he lost the close connection he had with his family when they were speaking spanish at home. 
The dog in this picture is a representation of people in a minority setting who may not speak english. The man is pretending or may even believe he understands what the dogs issues are; however he truly has no idea because he cannot understand his language.

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
The language barrier in the United States I think has a lot to do with the school systems. In other places of the world they teach other languages a lot more diligently. For instance, last semester there was a girl from Russia in one of my classes and when she went to school over there, english was a major language they were expected to learn. If these types of courses are enforced in American school, I think there would be less of a minority/ majority type attitude.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

"White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"

By: Peggy Mclntosh

Quotes Prompt

     "I was taught to see racism as only in individual acts of meanness, 
not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group."

     The above quote is what the author starts the article off with. By this quote she is setting up her main point which is that white people have an unwritten dominance over any other race. The word "conferring" is a very appropriate term for what she is portraying. Conferring is the transfer of information; whether or not this information is being push upon something, or given to. Mclntosh explains how the race barrier can also be seen from male to female in the same race. Men tend to have an advantage over women; however they are less apt to admit that than they are that women are at a disadvantage. People in power are more willing to acknowledge others struggles rather than their own privilege. 

"I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, 
as males are taught not to recognize male privilege."

     An article written by Tanya Somander explores the value of a dollar between men and women. The study shows that for every one American dollar earned by a man, a woman will receive $0.78. Although this article was posted over a year ago, the study still stands true. They then compared the pay of women who are non-hispanic black will make $0.64 and hispanic women will make $0.56. A hispanic woman makes almost half the amount of a white male who is equally qualified and experienced. This helps strengthen Mclntoshe's point that the correlation between white privilege and male privilege isn't that far off. 

"When I am told about our national heritage or 'civilization,'
I am shown that people of my color made it what it is."

      This is taken from the "white privilege" list in the article. There are countless examples of how whiteness is subconsciously valued in everyday encounters. Mclntoshe explains that white children will be taught that people of the same race were the most progressive when establishing "civilization." While children who are of color will not have this relation as much. This can also be affiliated between man and women. Although there are many progressive women that are taught in schools, the majority of history is about white men paving the way for everyone else.

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
I really liked Mclntosh's relation between the race gap as well as the gender gap. I think that this relates to the idea of "tapping the glass" that we talked about in class. In today's society maleness and whiteness is valued in our society as uncovered by our SCHWAAMP activity. Our ideology is based around people being white, straight, male's and anything that challenges this is often shut down. Mclntosh challenges this idea by talking about the social norms that favor white culture. She doesn't blame this ideology on any one person; but she presents the idea that people push this idea onto white's as well as white's bestowing their culture on the world. 

I also found the initial quote along the same lines of Delpit's "rules of power." "If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that power makes acquiring power easier." People who are in power don't seem to want to recognize it; but those who do not have power seem much more aware of it. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

U.S.A., Land of Limitations? By: Nicholas Kristof

"U.S.A., Land of Limitations?"

By: Nicholas Kristof

Argument Prompt

     In the article Nicholas Kristof argues that America is no longer the "land of opportunity;" where any amount of hard work can create a decent life. He states that children are no longer growing up with an equal chance but in, "the kind of society in which your outcome is largely determined by your beginning" (Kristof). Throughout the article he gives examples of how under advantaged children no longer have the means to get ahead; but not primarily finically. Kristof says the system is now rigged so that anyone born into prosperity will have very little issue making their way in the world. However, those children who come from families with drug or alcohol problems tend to stay in that kind of environment through adulthood. These children could be extraordinarily bright; but they are given a much harder time when trying to move forward. Nicholas Kristof argues that people no longer are given equal chance at success. 

    Kristof's article can also be related back to "The Silenced Dialogue" by Lisa Delpit. Near the beginning of the reading Delpit outlines five rules that outline the "culture of power." One is particular is, "the rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power." She is explaining that the social norms of a society are outlined by the people who have the most power. Kristof also touches upon this idea of people in power having more pull over those who don't. One man that the author interviewed named Professor Reardon states, "rich kids make a lot of poor choices...they just don't come with the same sort of consequences." This statement brings us back to Delpits rules by the idea that the people in power are held to a different standard because they create the rules of the culture. 
Lisa Delpit's rule number five:
"Those with power are frequently least aware of- or least willing to acknowledge- its existence.
Those with less power are often most aware of its existence."

Questions-Comments-Points to share:
I agree with Nicholas Kristof's claims he is making in the article. I feel like a lot of people fall into the same boat as Rick Goff, a friend of Kristof's. Since he did not come from a privileged life he had trouble completing school. The teachers didn't recognize that he just and trouble focusing and I think it may have a lot to do with him not being of the powered culture. Although Goff had two children and managed a life into adulthood, "U.S.A., Land of Limitations," touches upon the idea that he stayed in the same conditions. Goff was raised by his grandmother after losing his mother and his father walking out; and when he grew older he had two children and raised them as a single father after having two divorces. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

About Me

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My two friends Kaitlin (left) and Britney (right) and I have participated in two color runs. They are a 5k race where you can donate to a charity. While you run there are different check points where they throw powdered colors at you. This race is a great way to see some of the beautiful places in Providence.

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This summer my mother, friends, and I went to Vermont for a fair. We drove up early one morning and stayed until the next day. We found a really interesting store that had a whole bunch of different things; including a moose wearing rain boots! 

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In high school gym, all of the classes had to participate in a climbing unit. My friend Dave and I completed the "Dangling Duo." The planks we could stand on we're connected by a wire and each one was slightly farther apart than the one before. By the top one the planks were about five feet apart (I'm only 5'2")! It took us almost all class and a lot of strategizing but we finally made it. 

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Kaitlin, Britney, and I have done karate with each other for about 12 years. This photo was from out second degree black belt test. It was a seven hour test with a panel of 3 judges. We were the first black belts of the studio; then continuing to train other ranks.After the test all of the families and judges went out to eat at Asia Grille.

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Right before Thanksgiving my family got a new dog named, Buster. We got him from the Conventry pound. He is around two years old and is a Bassett Hound and Chocolate Lab mix. Buster has had his few fights with the cats but he has adjusted very well now.