Service animals

Emotional support tarantula

I saw a story on the internet recently about someone who was looking for a pet friendly house or apartment to rent and they were having a hard time. On social media, they posted that they were having difficulty and a person suggested something that seemed a little shady to me. They said to get their dog a vest and tell landlords that he was “A service dog, that way they can’t turn them away. “ I looked it up and found that doing this is a crime. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, to possess an emotional support animal in a rental property, you’re required to have a disability

Effective December 18, 2017, a New York State law makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly affix to an animal any false or improper tag identifying it as a guide, therapy or service animals. Violations of this law might bring about a fine of $100 and 15 days in jail. When a person pretends their pet is a service animal it shows a total lack of respect to all the real service animals out there, and those that need them. Service animals are trained to provide assistance to handicapped people.

Under local, state and federal laws, persons that have disabilities are allowed have service animals in all public areas such as retail stores retail stores and retail stores even though animals are prohibited by local or state health codes. However, I am concerned that people are taking advantage of this and abusing their protections and think that far too many people are abusing these laws. The objective of New York State’s new law is to curtail abuse and to discourage people from taking part in service animal fraud.

the new law is makes it against the law for anyone to make use of fraudulent identification tags, but not all service animals have to wear a patch, identification vest, or harness labeling the animal as a service animal.

I went on the internet and googled “service animal vest”. Google returned 167,000,000 results. Most of these sites did not require any type of documentation and many would also provide an ID card. Some of these vests were priced as low as $5.00.

Service animals include those that have received training to perform tasks that their owners cannot do on their own like Seeing Eye dogs. There are also emotional support animals (ESAs) that may or may not be trained. Their purpose is to soothe someone with a mental health problem.

Therapy animals are usually registered through an agency and their purpose is to provide help to those who need it. Therapy animals have no rights under the ADA, but places that do not usually allow pets, such as hospitals and schools, could allow them to visit. Legally speaking, only miniature horses and dogs are defined as Therapy animals. I wonder why these are the only authorized animals. What about cats or ferrets?

Whether a pet, a therapy animal, an ESA, or a service animal, businesses have the right to expect the animal to be under restraint, typically on a leash except in cases where the person’s disability prevents this and not pose a threat to the health or safety of other people. This includes disruptive behavior, such as growling, jumping up on people and acts that demonstrate the animal is not housetrained.

The National Institute of Health reports that “studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood”, and any person who loves their pet can verify. Having an animal as a companion is one of the best drug free antidotes to loneliness out there.

Meanwhile, anxiety has recently identified as a mental health problem and its reported levels are increasing across the board. The causes are frequently beyond our control, or at the very least they feel like they are. These might include gun violence, climate change and politics. To help us feel better we are instructed to get more exercise, sleep, eat more wisely, and maybe snuggle with a pet.

Maybe that’s why the millennials are the largest and most enthusiastic sector of pet owners in America. A 2018 survey reported that of the 67% of millennials who own a pet think of them as their “fur babies” a label that I hate and consider pretentious.

Deriving comfort from an animal doesn’t give anyone the right to special treatment, particularly when it interferes with the rights of those with real disabilities. And while anxiety sucks, official ESAs are intended to assist those people who suffer from debilitating symptoms.

With stronger rules in position, the days of suspicious ESA certifications could be waning. Until that time, all we have is an inadequate honor system filled with selfishness, and profiteers. You would not claim to be blind just so you could get a reduced fare on the bus or fake being a paraplegic just to be able to use a wheelchair while shopping. So, please don’t lie and say your dog is a service animal. Be considerate toward those people who justifiably need them and leave your pets at home.

 Norb is an animal lover who wouldn’t dream of taking a pet into a restaurant. You can follow his blog at

Bugs, the other white meat.

October 14, 2019 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. Who knew there would be a day dedicated to eating bugs?

I have eaten a few bugs in my lifetime and once you get past the creepiness factor that you are eating insects they aren’t all that bad. People living in Oaxaca, Mexico have been eating fried grasshoppers as a snack for centuries. These are partially cooked in water, then seasoned with garlic and lime and toasted in oil. They’re then wrapped up in a tortilla and eaten. I have eaten fried grasshoppers and found them to have a crunchy, nutty flavor.

There used to be a program on TV called Fear Factor where the participants would have to eat bugs as a challenge. Bugs are deemed highly nutritional and most of them contain a lot of protein. They also contain healthy fats, calcium and iron, are low in carbohydrates and cholesterol. I’ve never heard about an anteater with a cholesterol problem.

The eggs, larvae and adults of selected bugs, including tarantulas and centipedes have been eaten by human beings from prehistoric times to the present day. Eating bugs is common to cultures in most parts of the world. The meal worms I ate were rather bland but because of their size and shape would mix well with wild or brown rice to add protein to your diet. A meal worm is the larva of a Meal worm Beetle not an actual worm at all.

As challenges in food production loom, some adults think that an increase in eating bugs is highly likely. The estimated proportion of bugs to humans is around 200 million to one, say Iowa State University entomologists Larry Pedigo and Marlin Rice in their textbook, Entomology and Pest Management.

***If you are squeamish, you may want to stop here and go right to the last paragraph.***

You may think this is disgusting but you have probably eaten bugs already. The FDA, yes that FDA, the people assigned to protect your food source, allow a certain number of bug parts in many foods. Ground cinnamon, for example, can contain up to an average of 227 bug fragments per ounce.

Bug body parts are also permitted in both ground and crushed oregano. If you choose ground oregano, you might find up to 3,750 bug fragments per ounce. Crushed oregano is allowed to contain 900 bug fragments per ounce.

Chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate. Chocolate is permitted to contain 60 or more bug fragments per 100 grams

Maggots are permitted in a bunch of tomato products, including canned tomatoes, up to one maggot per 18 ounces of tomato juice and tomato sauce. This gives a whole new meaning to “Meat Sauce”

Canned citrus fruit juices are permitted to contain one maggot per 17 fluid ounces, but the good news is that juice that does contain a maggot cannot also have more than four fly eggs.

Canned mushrooms are a very good place to find maggots. If there are “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams” the FDA will take a look. If not, gobble them up.

Meat provides a good amount of protein, but most meats contain many more unhealthy fats when compared to bugs besides that bugs contain fiber. Edible bugs have more nutrients and they can taste way better than meat. Many years ago I had chocolate covered ants. For this out of the ordinary snack, ants are first roasted and then they are coated in chocolate. I thought they tasted like chocolate covered raisins.

If two billion people eat bugs for dinner, it shouldn’t be too outlandish for you to include some edible bugs in your diet. In many parts of the world, eating bugs is commonplace and in fact some bugs are considered delicacies.

Men are more likely than women to eat bugs and younger people are more likely to see the potential of eating bugs. The chocolate covered crickets I ate tasted just like crunchy chocolate covered popcorn.

In some countries, like China and Thailand, chocolate-covered bugs are considered a delicacy. In Southern Africa, caterpillars are a significant supply of protein for some native groups and who among us hasn’t eaten the agave worm from the bottom of a bottle of Mezcal tequila on a drunken Saturday night?

Bugs are perfectly safe to eat just as long as you are buying them from a trustworthy source or even raising them yourself. You don’t want to collect bugs from the wild to eat because you don’t know what pesticides or other substances they may have had contact with. Another excellent rule of thumb to follow is not to eat any brightly colored, hairy or spiny bugs, as they are apt to be poisonous. As in all circumstances, maintaining a safe, reliable food source means a safe and healthy diet.

Bugs might not be for everyone, but they just might become a very important addition to the global food supply. They’re sustainable, green, and nutritious.

To purchase edible bugs go to Western New York Herpetological Society: Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport, New York.

Lovin Spoonful: Somewhere

By Norbert Rug

The three amigos, my wife Donna, my buddy Ed, and I ventured out looking for somewhere to go for dinner. We ended up at “Somewhere” a quaint looking place at 681 Blairville road in Youngstown.

When we first pulled up, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go inside. I thought someone was pranking me when the said I should try it out but don’t let the outside appearance scare you off. The facade reminded me of an old west saloon. When we pulled up in their small, gravel parking lot, I could see four full size, sand volleyball courts.

We walked under a surf board and through a homemade screen door to enter the place, still not knowing what to expect. Wow! This tiny bar was way better than I had expected, nothing very fancy just a warm friendly, Irish, country bar.

When you first walk in, it’s kind of just a regular neighborhood bar. We sat down at a table with a Kraft paper tablecloth and started taking in the sights. The floor was painted concrete, none of that fancy hardwood or laminate here, and the walls, oh the walls. There wasn’t much room to put anything else on the walls. I can’t begin to explain the amount of Irish paraphernalia on the walls. I understand the owner is Pat Stack, a retired Niagara Falls detective.

Kenney, our server/bartender came over to take our order.  He emphasized that all the food is fresh. He said even the rolls are homemade and the meats & vegetables are locally sourced.

Donna had water with lemon, Ed ordered a glass of wine and I had a Pepsi. When he came back, he brought a salt and pepper shaker which I thought was a bit odd. Maybe they don’t have enough to go around.

They have a small menu (7 items) plus specials. Ed had the Cha-Cha-Chicken, which is fresh chicken breast marinated and grilled in their herb infused marinade served over a classic salad ($10).  Gluten free

In a surprise to both her and me, Donna ordered the “Meatball Puff”. Donna would be a vegetarian if I let her. She said it just intrigued her. This is a meatball wrapped in pastry with homemade sauce on it. She said it was cheesy inside and out. She was wondering why she didn’t get the choice of a side but when it arrived she understood. This was a one pound meat ball, you didn’t need a side. In fact she brought half of it home.

I tried to order the Ruben that was on the specials board and Kenney told me they were out of that. He suggested the “Lola” to me. A Buffalo chicken sandwich with a side of homemade blue cheese dressing ($10). I selected potato wedges as my side. The potato wedges are seasoned with black pepper, paprika, garlic and salt. The chicken was fall apart tender. The roll was perfect, not too crusty and the potato wedges were excellent.

This small place had a neat log-cabin atmosphere, 60’s music, 4 tables, an 11-seat bar and featured a number of items from another era. Outside, there are four well-maintained volleyball courts on the west side of the building. The east side and behind the building include a patio and a stage for bands. They put on inflatable pool parties, tortoise races and a St Patrick’s party that had 532 guests according to their Facebook page.

I was completely blown away that I found this food of this caliper in a place I’ve never even heard of before. It was friendly, very low key and drama free. I will make it a point to return here again in the future. It was Delish. Thanks Michele for suggesting it. I give it 9 spoons out of 10.
Hours are:
Saturday              11:30AM–11PM
Sunday                 Closed
Monday               Closed
Tuesday               11:30AM–5PM
Wednesday         11:30AM–11PM
Thursday              11:30AM–11PM
Friday                   11:30AM–11PM

Phone: (716) 262-2337

LOVIN SPOONFUL: Dee’s Sugar Shack

stainless steel spoon
Photo by Pixabay on

Donna and I had a day off so we took a ride to Sugar Shack, 460 West Ave, Lockport, for breakfast.

This is another one of the diners located in Lockport. Dee’s is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch only with the exception of Thursday and Friday when they also serve dinner. We hadn’t been there in years and for the life of me I don’t know why.

First thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the place, very, very clean. It looked like they had just done a deep clean minutes before we walked in the door. I was impressed. It looked like we could eat off the floor. The specials were written on a chalkboard that you could see as soon as you came in. Also listed were the “Pies made to order” that they sell and they all sounded delicious. We grabbed a booth and our server was right there with menus and to take our drink order. I felt sorry for her as she seemed to be the only server but fortunately for her there weren’t many patrons in the place.

I had a Pepsi (2.19) and Donna ordered water with lemon. When the server came back with our drinks, Donna ordered a bowl of soup of the day, beef vegetable (3.75) and I asked for 2 eggs over easy, home fries, no salt and white toast (4.50). I also ordered grape jelly, my favorite.  The server came back and said the home fries are preseasoned and that I could substitute the hash browns if I wanted to limit my salt. This was refreshing, never has a server offered me a reduced salt option to me. I said sure, even though I don’t usually like hash browns, but I did have to watch my diet.

I was surprised at how fast the meals arrived. Our food was at our table in record time. When she delivered our meals asked for hot sauce which she promptly got for me. Donna’s soup was delicious. It had a beef bouillon taste to the broth and plenty of noodles and vegetables. The beef was a ground beef and that indicated to me the soup was probably homemade. A bit salty for my liking but tasty nevertheless. I’ve been on a reduced salt diet for a few weeks now and I can taste it in foods where I couldn’t previously.

My breakfast eggs were cooked perfectly. The eggs had a smooth flowing yolk with a nice firm white. The hash browns were very flavorful for a salt reduced product. They were hash brown patties rather than a pile of loose grated potatoes. Obviously these weren’t home made. The toast was nicely toasted and came with one serving of the requested grape jelly and one serving of mixed fruit jelly. I figured this was going to happen because when she was taking our order, she skipped writing this down.

Other than that, the service was flawless and I appreciated the fact the server took the time to help me with my special request. We left the place quite satisfied and decided we would put Dee’s back into the breakfast rotation. Neither one of us needed lunch that day as we were still full from our breakfast.

460 West Ave
Lockport , New York
(716) 433-9538

Monday – Wednesday 6 AM to 2 PM
Thursday 6 AM to 7 PM
Friday 6 AM to 8 PM
Saturday and Sunday 7 AM to 2 PM

I give them nine of ten spoons but only because I didn’t get all grape jelly, like I had asked and the soup was a bit salty.

Norb is a restaurant reviewer for the Niagara Gazette and the Union Sun and Journal, Night and Day supplement.

Lovin Spoonful: Cheeburger Cheeburger:

stainless steel spoon
Photo by Pixabay on

Cheeburger Cheeburger is a 1950s-style burger restaurant chain that started on Sanibel Island, Florida in 1986. They specialize in cheeseburgers, French fries, onion rings, and milkshakes. There are 64 locations across the United States. (1)

When Cheeburger Cheeburger opened a restaurant in Glenview, Illinois, they were sued by Billy Goat Tavern, which had served as the inspiration for the original Olympia Cafe Saturday Night Live parody. (1)

The Olympia Cafe was a fictional greasy spoon featured in a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch. All the staff, led by John Belushi as Pete Dionasopolis were Greek. As various guest stars discovered, only three items on the long menu could actually be ordered successfully: the cheeseburger (pronounced “cheeburger” by Belushi), chips (pronounced “cheep”), and Pepsi. Attempts to order Coke were invariably met with the retort, “No Coke! Pepsi!” Likewise, those who ordered French fries got the response, “No fries! Cheeps!” According to Don Novello, who penned the first Olympia Cafe sketch, the diner was based on the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and was still operating when they aired the skit. (1) I can still remember watching this late one Saturday night.

Cheeburger Cheeburger likes to be known as the most creative and fun restaurant on Earth. Cheeburger Cheeburger offers dozens of free toppings for their burgers. They also offer grilled chicken, wraps, fries, salads, sundaes and more. Take a seat at the soda fountain or pull up an old fashioned chair. Look around at the neon lights, nostalgic signs and posters many of which are for sale. Check out the cool T-shirts, gifts and collectibles also. Listen to the fifties and sixties music as you enjoy your meal. (1)

Cheeburger Cheeburger quality starts with 100% Angus beef with no additives, no added hormones and no antibiotics. The fries and rings are made from scratch every day. And the quality continues with everything Cheeburger offers. (1)

Challenge yourself to their “Pounder” burger that consists of 20 ounces of beef. Finish the entire burger and have your picture taken for Cheeburger Cheeburger’s Wall of Fame! Feel free to invent your own cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, grilled cheese, salad, shake or malt! (1)

There are five sizes of burgers. And with all those free toppings, you can create more than eight million burger combinations. And more than a million shake flavor combinations. (1)

Donna and I decided to go there for dinner on a Sunday night due to the fact we had a Groupon (We seldom pay full price). We had been there previously with a Groupon and that is the reason I purchased another one. The place was packed. There were only two tables open that I saw, a two person and a four person one. The hostess whisked us to the two person table and as soon as she left, the waitress appeared and took our drink order.

Donna ordered the Lemonade and I ordered a Pepsi. They both arrived in their signature Mason jar glasses. When the waitress returned, I ordered the semi-serious burger which is a 1/3 pound burger (7 ounces before cooking). I added American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, 2 onion rings, and relish. Donna had the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich.

My burger was made perfectly but it was a bit sloppy. I guess I had tried to have too many toppings on it. It was hard to wrap my mouth around it and every bite squeezed the burger and toppings out the other side. It was delicious. Donna said she would get her Portabella sandwich again.

Cheeburger Cheeburger is located at 1593 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst, NY 14226
Phone: (716) 836-1002
Hours: Open Monday thru Thursday 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM, Friday Saturday and Sunday 11:30 to 9:30 PM     Features: Accepts credit cards. Has highchairs available, outdoor seating, parking lot parking and is wheelchair accessible.

We go there about once a year and can’t wait till we get another coupon. I give them 8 out of 10 spoons.

(1) Attribution, Wikipedia

Lovin spoonful:  The Dockside Bar and Grill.

clean close up cutlery elegant
Photo by Pixabay on

Another Saturday night out for my wife Donna, my buddy Ed and I. This time we went to The Dockside Bar and Grill. This is a historic building right along the Erie Canal that has been converted into a casual dining restaurant. It is near the Gateway Harbor area of North Tonawanda. They have ample parking in a lot across the street from the restaurant.

Built in 1890 it was once used by the New York State Canal Authority to unload barges and store mule feed. According to their website, the dining-room has the original floor but is the only thing that is old fashioned about the place.

I understand that where we dined was a two story addition to the original building completed in 2015. I would call the décor steam punk industrial. From the newel posts on the stairway that were made of 4X4 square tubing to the railing which was made up of steel channel with re-rod spindles the place looked old yet modern. The wall lighting was made up of pipe fittings, the restroom had dimpled steel plate in the walls. The ceiling fans were unlike anything I have ever seen.

The canal side of the building is built entirely of glass doors that open up to the patio. They all fold up at one end. Three quarters of the wall was open to the outside. This brought the outside in. Even though we sat on the side of the restaurant farthest from the opening, we received a nice breeze. The second floor looks like it has the same floor plan as the first floor but has a balcony vs a covered deck. The impressive thing was the lack of insects. I don’t know if it was due to the season or not. Bugs are the main reason I hate dining outdoors.

On to the menu. The appetizers run the gauntlet from Chips & Salsa, featuring House fried Corn Tortilla Chips & served with Pico de Gallo (6.00) to Chicken 20 Wings (15.00) featuring  your choice of Hot, Medium, Mild, BBQ,  Sesame Soy or Garlic Parmesan to 12 raw clams (12.00).  They also serve a fish fry daily.

Our server, Yllka was tableside quickly to take our order. Donna and I selected the Cornmeal Fried Catfish that was served with Garlic Spinach & Creole Fried Rice (18.00). Ed selected a special, a Bourbon Glazed Salmon with crisped kale, grilled potatoes and onions.

When our orders arrived my mind was blown. They were plated beautifully. This showed me that the chef takes care with every meal that leaves their kitchen. My compliments to the chef. Donna’s and my dinner had a decent sized piece of fish on top of the rice and spinach. It was extremely moist and tender with an excellent taste. The rice was very flavorful with what tasted like bits of sausage in it. The garlic spinach had the perfect amount of garlic. Donna pronounced her meal the best she has had in a long time. I have to agree.

Ed’s salmon was perfectly cooked, not raw but not over cooked either. It had the fatty fish flavor that a dish like this should have. Salmon is one of my favorite fishes and properly cooked is a bit of gastronomic heaven. The potatoes and onions were delicious but I just don’t understand the mystique surrounding kale. He said his meal was first-rate and we agreed, before we even left the table, that we just had to return.

My only problem was the noise, oh the noise. It was very difficult to converse without shouting due to high noise level. I realize that it is next to impossible to control the noise level in a place like this but if you wanted to have a conversation while eating this wasn’t the place to be on this particular Saturday night.

I give it a 9 out of 10 spoons but only because of the noise level.

The Dockside Bar and Grill
153 Sweeney St.
North Tonawanda

Kitchen Hours:                                                            Bar Hours:
Monday: 3pm-11pm                                                   Monday: 3pm-1am
Tuesday – Thursday: 11am – 11pm                          Tuesday – Thursday: 11am – 1am                Friday-Saturday: 11am-1am                                     Friday-Saturday: 11am-2am
Sunday: 12pm-11pm                                                  Sunday: 12pm-1am