Last weekend Luke McGregor was doing laundry at his Delray Beach home and slipped from the chair he was seated in, breaking his right leg near the ankle.
He only knew it was broken after looking down to see his leg was pointing one way and his foot was 180 degrees the other. He was in no pain. McGregor has been paralyzed since a freak teenage accident 35 years ago.
With limited use of his shoulders and arms, no ability to grip with his hands, and nothing operating below his waist, McGregor was in a spot. But he was not alone. He had Korbin, his service dog.
“It was definitely something that was not normal, and he picked up on it right away,” McGregor says of the visual of his being out of his wheelchair and on the floor. “He came running over, and was a little excited, ‘What do I do?! What do I do?! What do I do?!’ So I just had him lie down next to me, and he was good. I made a phone call, got a friend over.”
For more than 40 years the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence has provided highly trained service dogs like Korbin, a black Labrador-Golden Retriever mix, to children, adults and veterans with disabilities.
Each dog is trained to answer the specific needs and personality of its owner, whether it’s a child with muscular dystrophy or someone like McGregor, who sought a dog that could pull him (he uses a manual wheelchair), open doors and pick up items dropped on the floor. Watching Korbin use his feet and mouth to pick up a pen is impressive.
“He’s my buddy. He’s laidback. Kind of like a surfer dude,” McGregor says of Korbin, the third CCI dog the Long Island, N.Y., native has had since he was injured diving in waist-deep water off Fire Island, fracturing the C6 vertebrae in his neck when he struck a sandbar.
The bond formed between dog and CCI client is lifelong. McGregor, who works for a structural engineering firm in Fort Lauderdale, got his first CCI dog, Marshall, while a student at Purdue in 1989. Marshall retired at age 10 and continued to live with McGregor until he died at nearly 15.
He's had Korbin only since June, quietly noting that this week brought the first anniversary of the death of his previous dog, Islyn.
Canine Companions for Independence provides dogs to those in need for free, but their training is not free. The costs begin before breeding and with two years of training, as well as the monitoring that goes on for the rest of its life, a CCI dog typically is worth more than $50,000.
While corporate and private donations help, CCI must find other ways to cover the rest of the costs.
And that’s where South Florida dog owners come in: On Saturday, beginning at 7:30 a.m., you can bring your four-legged friend to the inaugural PawSUP & Surf Competition, a dog-friendly surfing and paddle-board event and CCI fundraiser at the dog beach at Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.
"Our PawSUP event this week is intended to raise both awareness and to raise funds to serve somebody else, like me, to be able to receive a service dog," McGregor says. "We're looking to see if we can get a lot of people out and 'paws' for the cause."
Sponsored by BC Surf & Sport and Hang Loose Surf School, the event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes food and prizes, with surf boards and paddle boards available for the competition at no cost. To take part, you can register at CCI.org/PawSUPDogSurf or onsite beginning at 7:30 a.m. Cost is $35 to enter each event (surfing and paddle board) or $55 to do both.
Pompano Beach’s 26 Degrees Brewing Co. celebrates its first anniversary with a family-friendly party that includes special releases of their own beers and, because this is a community, guest brews from the likes of Accomplice, Bangin’ Banjo, Barrel of Monks, Civil Society, Copperpoint, Devour, Due South, Saltwater Brewing, LauderAle and more. To answer your next question: The food truck lineup is Tucker Duke’s, E&J Barbecue and Rolling Chefs. The festivities, which include live music, run noon to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Info: Facebook.com/26Brewing.
Reminder, tickets go on sale Thursday (Sept. 22) for GEMS 2016, Miami Dade College's Oct. 13-16 film series that includes Jim Jarmusch's Iggy Pop documentary "Gimme Danger" and "The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America," a travelogue of the band’s recent tour, including an historic stop in Havana. Tickets cost $13, $12 for seniors, $10 for students (MDC students free with ID). Info: MiamiFilmFestival.com/GEMS.
This is supposed to be your last full weekend to do the deals at Flavor Palm Beach, when top local restaurants offer discount three-course menus for lunch ($20) and dinner $30-$40), through Sept 30, according to the schedule. But how can you end it on a Friday night? I'm betting they just let it roll through next weekend, too. Info: FlavorPB.com.
MOCKINGBIRDS AND CRANES
You can’t turn around in Flagler Village these days without seeing a crane, and the downtown Fort Lauderdale neighborhood soon may be almost unrecognizable. But even years from now a familiar path is likely to be Mockingbird Trail, the artistic stroll through the community, marked by Valeria Yamamoto’s sculptures, that is being created by people who live and work in Flagler Village. Perhaps as a precursor to Saturday’s FAT Village Art Walk, you can stop by Top Hat Deli (415 NE Third St.) from 5 to 8 p.m. for Cocktails on the Trail, “an evening of community and cocktails,” where the progress of Mockingbird Trail will be discussed. Included in the evening will be a 6 p.m. screening of Art Loft's short documentary “The Mockingbird Trail Project: An Urban Art Trail.” Info: Facebook.com/CadenceLiving.
Young Grammy-winning New Orleans native Nicholas Payton, one of the best contemporary interpreters of the Miles Davis canon, performs on the Sunset Jazz Series at 6 p.m. Saturday at the famed Sunset Lounge (609 Eighth St.) in West Palm Beach’s historic Northwood neighborhood, the club that has hosted performances by Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald. Tickets are a modest $20 in advance ($25 at the door, still a deal). Info: WPB.org/CRA.
When you knock down that first Oktoberfest stein on Oct. 1, be aware that you’re late! Society 8 is kicking things off noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, with its inaugural Oktoberfest at the Park in one of the beautiful spots in South Florida, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, tucked between the ocean and the Intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale. Khoffner Brewery is doing the beer, which may be all you need to know. Elsewhere, the park’s tree-lined grove will be home to tents filled with traditional German cuisine, polka bands and interactive games such as barrel rolling and beer races. A general-admission ticket costs $10; a Food and Drink ticket costs $39 and includes admission, a beer cup, three beers, a brat and a pretzel; a VIP ticket costs $69 and comes with admission, three beers, a souvenir stein and access to the VIP tasting tent. A portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Birch State Park. Parking is $6 per car. For tickets and information, visit Society8.com.
A NEW BRUNCH
Who better to help you the morning after than the guys who put you there in the first place? The crew at the tricky-to-find-but-worth-it Riverside Market South (3218 SE Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) will debut a brunch menu 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday with everything a body needs after a night with their liquid menu. Everything from Pastrami Reuben Hash and Shrimp and Grits (bleu cheese grits and sriracha) chicken and waffles, and a loaded burger (there’s pork roll on it). But maybe start with the Hangover Fries: house-cut fries, with bacon, cheddar cheese sauce and a poached egg on top. Info: Facebook.com/RiversideMarketSouth.
I would find it hard to hold in public, but when no one was looking, I’d definitely suck down the Watermelon and Jalapeño Margarita ($11) that is among the three new bespoke garden-to-glass cocktails created by mixologist Shae Halloun at Spoto's Oyster Bar in Palm Beach Gardens. Fresh watermelon, jalapeños, lime juice, triple sec, silver tequila and bam! It is definitely pink, though. Info: Spotos.com.
TAKE THE KIDS
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have gone a club record-tying eight games without a loss, and play 7 p.m. Saturday in their sweet new digs at Central Broward Stadium (Sunrise and 441), where there is covered seating, free parking and tickets for kids 12 and younger also are free. But the best reason to go this weekend is that there will be a different kind of energy in the stadium as the Strikers play their longtime NASL rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who typically bring a couple of buses filled with their idiot (but reasonably well-mannered) fans. We hate those guys. Tickets: $15, $25. Info: Strikers.com.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
The Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be a local host of the sixth annual 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change gathering at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at American Rocks Bar and Grill (1600 E. Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach). The free annual open-mic event takes place at the same time in more than 800 venues in 115 countries, with poets encouraged to deliver original or favorite works that promote social, political and environmental change. Guest musicians will perform between readings. Info: 100TPC.org. The 2017 Palm Beach Poetry Festival is Jan. 16-21 at Old School Square in Delray Beach, with Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic a special guest. Info: PalmBeachPoetryFestival.org.
Shark Valley Sisters (still sometimes referred to as Rob Elba and Fausto Figueredo) will share music from their imminent 10-inch called “Kill the Day” at a free show with irrepressible Mr. Entertainment and the Pookiesmackers 8 p.m. Saturday at Sweat Records in Miami. Because it’s free, why not throw a few bucks at the SVS IndiGoGo campaign to cover some of the lingering costs of the album? Good karma, and there’s swag to be had. Info: Facebook.com/SharkValleySisters, SweatRecordsMiami.com.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Vocal powerhouse Kat Riggins brings her “Simply Tina” tribute to Tina Turner to the Hub on Fort Lauderdale beach on the Friday Night Soundwaves series at 5:30 p.m. Friday (FridayNightSoundWaves.com) … South Florida singer Karina Iglesias (“The Voice”) performs 8 p.m. Friday at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach (ArtsGarage.org) … The Spam Allstars are at Ball & Chain in Miami 9 p.m. Friday (BallAndChainMiami.com) … Nestor Torres brings his nationally acclaimed jazz flute to Boca Black Box Center for the Arts 8 p.m. Saturday (BocaBlackBox.com) … The Baboons play Titanic Restaurant and Brewery in Coral Gables 10 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/TheBaboons) … Buzzy local rockers Lavola, Raggy Monster and the Metropolitan play Propaganda in Lake Worth 8 p.m. Saturday (PropagandaLW.com) … Pembroke Pines piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick and band entertain at the Broward Center 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (BrowardCenter.org) … Guitarist Gary King plays the Ali Jam Session 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ali Cultural Arts Center in Pompano Beach (Facebook.com/AliPompano) …