Originally created 08/25/04

Odds and Ends

ABERDEEN, S.D. -- It's not always easy to grab a husband's attention, but Krysti Mikkonen has stumbled onto a surefire method.

Mikkonen, the defending champion at the Brown County Fair Husband Calling Contest, retained her crown Sunday by taking off her shirt.

"Last year I just cracked a beer and said, 'Dinner's ready,"' Mikkonen said.

This year she stepped up wearing a denim shirt over a T-shirt that had a bright pink bikini printed on it.

When she called out "Oh, Loverboy!" and no husband appeared, she dropped the shirt to show the bikini T-shirt and began singing "Baby, my sweet baby."

Her husband still didn't show but another man, Kevin Kallas, ran to her side.

"My husband took the kids to the demolition derby, so I had to borrow a husband," Mikkonen said. "So not only can I call my husband, but I guess I can call someone else's too and he'll come running."

Mikkonen said she almost decided against trying to defend her title. She now has another problem on her hands.

"I've been pondering, 'What am I gonna do to retain my title?"'

FORT ST. JOHN, British Columbia -- The Stanley Cup spent a night in luggage limbo.

The fabled hockey trophy disappeared during an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Fort St. John over the weekend when Vancouver airline officials removed it from the plane because of weight restrictions.

Walter Neubrand, keeper of the Cup, was trying to deliver the trophy to Jake Goertzen, head scout for the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

As the two waited by the baggage claim, it didn't take long for them to realize something was wrong.

"We were waiting for it to come out," Goertzen said. "Everybody's bag was there, except the Cup."

Air Canada agents checked the plane but there was no sign of the Cup or its special travel container. After a call to Vancouver, they learned the 35-pound Cup was sitting in the Vancouver airport's luggage area 750 miles away.

Air Canada spokeswoman Laura Cooke said the Cup was held in a secured facility overnight and flown to Fort St. John to be "placed in its rightful hands" early Monday.

Cooke said the airline is reviewing how the mistake occurred.

As a matter of tradition, each eligible player and front-office member from a championship team gets to spend 24 hours with the cup.

CHAMPION, Mich. -- Residents here are flush with excitement at being picked to review toilets.

American Standard, manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen fixtures, is installing its new "Champion" line of toilets free of charge to some local residents and businesses. In exchange, those lucky few must participate in a marketing survey.

The new-generation commode replaces the standard ball-and-chain flushing system with a "flush tower" design and valve configuration that boosts water flow, preventing clogs and overflows. The company bills the toilets as so reliable, users can "throw away their plungers."

They retail for $249 to $569, depending on model and color.

About 115 of the toilets are being installed in 72 homes and six businesses, and users will be asked to record their impressions in a journal through the end of the year.

Township Supervisor Berle LaPin says the giveaway is the subject of much humor in Champion, a former mining and logging center that nowadays has only a handful of shops. But there's a serious side as well.

"Everybody around here has a septic tank, so having good sewage facilities is very important," he said.

TACOMA, Wash. -- For Sampson, it was finding his sister Carmen. Chelsea Joy was happy to see her sister Bliss.

There was plenty of excitement to go around Sunday at a reunion that drew nine dachshunds out of more than three dozen that were rescued from squalid conditions 2 1/2 years ago.

Tails wagged in a blur of excitement as the wiener dogs sniffed and licked long-lost buddies, wrapping leashes around chairs and owners' legs on the deck of the Old House Cafe.

The well-fed, well-groomed dachshunds were a far cry from the pathetic creatures found in excrement-laden cages at a house on Feb. 13, 2002. Some had rotting gums and had lost teeth, many were thin and sores, and parasites were common.

"They were pretty grimy and kind of a mess," said Shirley Lake, a Humane Society veterinary assistant who helped nurse them back to health.

The owner, Sarah Jane Wakeman, was sentenced to two years on probation and ordered to pay the Humane Society of Tacoma & Pierce County $3,000 after pleading guilty to second-degree animal cruelty and running a kennel without a license.

Of the 38 dogs, 22 were adopted, Wakeman got to keep four and the rest were returned to previous owners or breeders.

For the party, owners were given dachshund-themed presents and Stacey Stolaroff, Chelsea Joy's owner, dressed her pooch in a pink tutu. "I just wanted to celebrate a happy ending," she said.


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