Dunmoreans of the Month: William Torbeck and Kendra Lapsansky

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William Torbeck, center, is shown with his wife, Kendra Lapsansky with Colonel, a Black Labrador.  Mo, a Yellow Labrador, is shown with his forever person Donna Hill on the right.

By Steve Svetovich

William Torbeck and Kendra Lapsansky like to help others in need.

The Dunmore couple found their niche by fostering dogs.

Torbeck and Lapsansky were looking for a way to help others a few years back, while dealing with a problem of their own. Torbeck’s brother, Mark, was diagnosed with retina pigmentosa. He was gradually losing his eyesight and eventually went blind. Currently he resides in Florida accompanied by his guide dog.

Two Dogs - Mo“We wanted to do something to help others who were in a similar situation,” said Torbeck, a  contractor at Tobyhanna Army Depot.

“So we decided to do something to help people like my brother.”

The Dunmore couple took in Mo, a yellow Labrador, from January 2016 to December 2016. The Labrador was raised and socialized by Torbeck and his wife for the entire year before ending up with Donna Hill, of Susquehanna County. Hill has the exact same diagnosis as Torbeck’s brother.

Currently, the Dunmore couple is keeping busy raising Colonel, a 15-month-old black Labrador. Torbeck and his wife, who works at the Veterinary Emergency Center, Chinchilla, have the dog from Friday night through Sunday night. The dog is with an inmate at the Dallas Correctional Institute during the week.

Two Dogs Colonel the Black LabColonel also has a trainer who is from Smithtown in Long Island.  “He is with the trainer once a week in a classroom setting,” said Torbeck.

“We pick him up and have him Friday through Sunday. He gets structure in the prison and socialization skills on the weekend with us.”

The Dunmore couple helps Colonel learn how to open handicapped doors and buttons.

“It’s called a touch practice,” said Torbeck. “The dog will learn how to help the handicapped and wheelchair bound in these situations.

“He is seen outside with the public a lot. The most important thing he has to do is remain at my side at all times while outside with the public.

“Colonel is seen everywhere in Dunmore. I go everywhere with him. We go to games, coffee shops, restaurants, just about every place in Dunmore. That’s the protocol. It’s all about repetition. He is a future working dog.”

A fund raiser has been set for January 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Zummo’s Coffee Shop on Marion Street in Green Ridge. Torbeck said all proceeds will go to the America’s Veteran Dog Program.

“Colonel has been with us since February. We will have him until this January. He will then go through formal training for three or four months in Smithtown, Long Island. He will be reinforced on special things. After that, he will be matched with someone. Colonel will be working with a disabled person about three or four months after this January. He will be a guard for a specific handicapped person.

“Sure we will miss him, but my wife and I want to help make this world a better place. It’s not about us. It’s about helping others.”

 

DHS Graduate Attends Study Abroad Program in Thailand

rachel-kranick-2By Emily Fedor

While many college students spend their winter breaks catching up with loved ones or just relaxing after a long semester, Dunmorean Rachel Kranick chose to go on an adventure. You could even call it the adventure of a lifetime.

The daughter of Francis and Donna Kranick, Rachel is a 2014 graduate of Dunmore High School. She is currently in the midst of her junior year at the University of Scranton, where she is pursuing major in biology with a pre-veterinary medicine track, a minor in French and a concentration in environmental studies.

Rachel celebrated her 21st birthday this past month, and the next day, she was boarding a plane to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The two-week long trip from January 7 to 23 was part of a program called “Loop Abroad,” which gave  Rachel the opportunity to put the skills she is learning at the U of S to the test by working with animals at the Animal Rescue Kingdom and the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.

Dunmorean Online Editor Emily Fedor caught up with Rachel to hear all about her trip to Thailand.

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rachel-kranick-3Emily Fedor: Let’s start with a pretty basic question. What exactly is Loop Abroad?

Rachel Kranick: Loop Abroad is a study abroad group based in Thailand geared toward high school or college students interested in joining the veterinary field. Accepted students can go on service trips throughout Thailand and South Africa to study ecology and animal conservation.

EF: How exactly did you find out about Loop Abroad and the programs it offers?

RK: Facebook! I always saw Loop Abroad’s ads in my newsfeed so I just started browsing through the site for more info. Eventually I found this 2-week winter program that I was really interested in. I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to attend any of the other sessions so I pretty much jumped on the opportunity when it came up.

EF: Was this program something you could just sign up for, or was there an application process?

RK:  So, I applied online which required some general information about myself, as well as some letters of recommendation and an academic transcript. I also had to write a brief essay about why I would be a good fit for the program.

EF: Was there anything you had to do to prepare for your trip?

RK: My family, friends, and co-workers really helped me out with everything I needed. From fundraising to providing travel gear and overall support, they’re the real reasons why I was able to go on this trip.

EF: Let’s fast forward a little. When you arrived in Thailand, what did you think of it?

rachel-kranick-1RK: Thailand was absolutely beautiful, everything was so green and the sun was always shining. (It was Thailand’s winter, too, but temperatures reached at least 80 degrees  every day). The people were so welcoming, the food was delicious, and the scenery was amazing. It was definitely hard to adjust to the time difference. I was 12 hours ahead of everyone back home… So I would be texting my parents who would be eating dinner when I was just waking up.

EF: How were your days in Thailand spent? What did you do?

RK: We spent our first week at the Animal Rescue Kingdom (ARK) working with 100+ dogs that were either surrendered by their owners or found on the streets. Our U.S. veterinarian, Ruth Parkin, taught us how to give physical exams, draw blood, identify parasites, and so much more…

Over the weekend we visited temples, strolled through local markets, took a Thai cooking class, and learned a lot about Thai culture in general by touring Chiang Mai.

Our second week was spent at the Elephant Nature Park (ENP), which is home to over 70 elephants rescued from the logging and tourist-riding industries. We studied their behaviors and diets, and worked alongside the ENP’s elephant vet, providing some basic veterinary care such as cleaning wounds and giving medicine. The ENP also has dogs, cats, water buffalo and many other animals to take care of. So there was always something for us to do!

Our days started early and ended late but I learned so much from the vets and the people I met at ARK and ENP.


eleEF: Do you have a favorite memory from your trip?

RK: Bathing an elephant in the river. Some of the older elephants have trouble kneeling down in the river to wash themselves, so we grabbed some buckets and helped them cool off while they ate a basket of watermelons.

EF: Did you make an elephant best friend while you were at the Nature Park?

RK: Yes! Her name was Saza. She’s 73 years old and was rescued from a trekking camp in 2015. She was severely underweight when they found her, but now she has what the Thai ENP workers call a “happy belly.” She LOVES rice balls. She also loves mud baths! I did a diet study on Saza so we spent a whole day together and became best buddies.

EF: Any plans in place for after you graduate from college?

RK: I want to go on to vet school, but I don’t know where yet. I can definitely see myself being a zoo vet and maybe even specialize in elephant care… I’m happy when I’m around animals, and I want to be around them for the rest of my life.