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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A new puppy in the house*

In my 32 years of living in the United States, I have , for the first time, a new puppy, and I'm so very happy to have him in my family.

Frankly, I never really thought much about having a dog. But that changed when a friend of my sister-in-law Rose dropped by my house one recent afternoon. Tee, Rose's friend, mentioned having a number of puppies and older dogs in her townhouse.

She was very persuasive. She even called me, "Uncle," when she learned that I'd retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of honorable service.

I finally decided to see her last puppy.

At her townhouse, Tee, handed me a wiggly, brown, cute puppy a mixed breed of Chihuahua (mother) and a Yorkie (dad). He's less than two months old, she said. We had a connection right off the bat! He was that cuddly and sweet. He was that cuddly. So adorable.

After the deal was done and some information about him provided, we headed to Petsmart, where we bought Puppy's crate and bed, food, collar, leash and some toys. We were the last customers around because we had so many questions about keeping a dog in the house.

Thanks to the employees, especially to Dan and Sarah, also pet trainers at PetSmart in North Suffolk, for their help and useful information they shared us.

Now, the bonding and responsibility have begun. So far, so good. Puppy and I are getting along, and we're both learning from each other, while adjusting to this new adventure.

He's such a blessing. We have had several walks and around the yard, front and back, and quality playtime on our wooden deck. It's fascinating how a small puppy can make a difference in one's life. I consider him a pain reliever, truly a godsend.

He's such a baby, helpless and hapless, needing care and attention, and I imagine I'll pamper him.

Puppy is now the apple of our eyes at home. He gives me company and keeps me busy attending to him. As a young dog, he needs all the help he can get as he continues to adjust to his new home and owner. I am thankful we have wireless Internet so I can do some research about how to care for him as he grows up.

Dogs are man's best friend , they say. They're also intelligent. With proper training, they follow commands, do amazing tricks and help solve crimes.

This summer will undoubtedly be a memorable and enjoyable one for me, because of the arrival of Puppy in my family.

Time to go outside with Puppy. See you guys later.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the award-winning Suffolk-News Herald, Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Some fun in the summer sun*

It's summertime! It's the season of hot and humid weather in Virginia.

Summer---the time to indulge in special treats, frozen delights, ice cream, coolers, watermelons and vegetables, especially local produce. It's the time to wear sandals, flip flops, shirts and shorts, and shades.

Yes, summer is here, like it or not. Iced-cold drinks are in demand to quench one's thirst or to combat summer heat. Whew, sizzling summer is now in full swing! Heat and humidity are becoming unbearable. So, watch out for the elderly and pets. They're vulnerable to heat-related injuries.

Weeks before the official arrival of summer, air conditioning units in homes and businesses already had been turned on for everyone's comfort.

Lots of activities (outdoor, especially) await, especially for children who need a break from school and clamor for vacation somewhere. They are ready to experience and learn new things.

Many parents already have planned something for their children, whether summer camps, road trips, cruises or vacation Bible school programs.

How and where do you plan to spend your summer vacation? At home? Out of town? Out of the country? Whatever you do, be safe while having a good time out there.

Safety is everyone's responsibility. Whether you're traveling, cruising, camping, gardening or working, observe safety at all times.

Heat exposure is a concern this summer. There are preventive measures you can take to avoid heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat stroke or hyperthermia and other conditions associated with hot weather.

While you are away from home, your house should be properly locked, pets taken care of and cars and other valuable property kept safely. If you have a neighbor or friend you can trust, let him or her know, ahead of time before your getaway, to keep an eye on your house and property.

Keeping the community safe is everyone's responsibility. We are the eyes and ears of law enforcement officers. Therefore, report to the police anything or anyone that's suspicious in your neighborhood. Don't be a victim of crime. And don't take justice into your hands.

Prevention is the key to an enjoyable summer vacation, whether it's prevention of crime, prevention of heat-related illness or prevention of drowning? Practice prevention and common sense.

Summer reading is one activity that young and old should not overlook while enjoying summer somewhere. Learning is ageless and timeless, and it continues for all seasons.

Parents, bring your kids to the library and engage them in worthwhile activities that challenge them to think, to question and be curious, to wonder (and wander). Give them a book appropriate to their age level. If you need help, ask the librarian. Check out if the library has a summer reading program for different age groups.

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. That's the quote from Joseph Addison (1672-1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician. Your body is stimulated and your muscles become strong when you exercise. You stimulate your brain and become smarter when you read.

Have a fun-filled, safe and stimulating summer!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, June 5, 2015

Congratulations and best wishes*

Nelson Mandela once said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

I would like to share his message with Suffolk's Class of 2015. A good education is your passport to a better, successful life. A better you is a byproduct of a good education.

You probably have mixed feelings about leaving the school where you've spent four years learning, (day)dreaming, acquiring skills and experiences, building bridges and relationships, meeting challenges and adjusting to the changes in your life.

Now, you're ready to on that cap and gown and listen to the strains of "pomp and Circumstance" as you march across the stage to receive your diploma. You are ready to move on with your life. you are ready to go out and, (as Mark Twain said) explore, dream and discover.

On your graduation day, the focus is on you, graduates. Nothing can stop you now. Cherish the moment. Enjoy and celebrate this joyful, memorable day with your friends, family and even teachers who have encouraged and inspired you to never give up.

Take as many snapshots as you can to document the culmination of your high school life. Thank your parents and your teachers for a job well done, and, if you're religious or have a deep faith in the Almighty, thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on you---good health, mind and body, loving and caring family, good friends and excellent teachers.

You deserve all the recognition, because you finally made it. It's worth all the effort, and you've overcome all the obstacles, challenges and stresses of high school. Now, be happy and enjoy the moment. Then, party safely and responsibly.

It has been said that "knowledge is power." With the knowledge, skills and experiences you have acquired so far, you're ready to move on.

Get out of your comfort zone and realize that long-cherished dream. Don't be afraid to fail. Take the risk. Never give up. Keep on learning.

Use your knowledge and skills to further your education and economic condition. Use them to build bridges that connect, not walls that divide. Use them to promote family stability and solidarity, world peace and unity among humankind.

Remember, the future belongs to you, because you are the future.

You are our future leaders. You have the power and responsibility to share that knowledge and skills and training to others. You have the drive, the stamina and the vision to change the world, to solve societal problems that are affecting the vast majority of global population.

Once again, to the Class of 2015, congratulations and best wishes!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran and former high school and college instructor, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 5, 2015. For more information, visit