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Joe Battista: Comedy for the “PAWS” Cause

by on March 28, 2012 6:00 AM

Are you looking for a fun night out for a good cause? Then come out to the fourth annual PAWS Comedy Club on Saturday and see Rodney Laney perform at Celebration Hall at 2280 Commercial Blvd., for a howling good time for the “PAWS” Cause.

To learn more about Rodney Laney, visit

Here is an excerpt from his bio: "Rodney has completed pilots for Comedy Central, MTV, A&E and has been seen on P.Diddy's "Bad Boys of Comedy" on HBO, Fox News Channel's "Red Eye," "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," CBS, Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" and in London on the BBC's "The World Stand's Up." He has also appeared at the prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal."

“PAWS”, by the way, stands for the “Promotion of Animal Welfare and Safety,” and we have a lot of friends who have found their dog or cat through this worthwhile organization.

Which as you may have guessed by now is where we found our dog, Sportster.

Anyone that has ever been to the Battista domicile knows of Sportster. He is a fixture in our neighborhood, and our kids, their friends and the neighbors absolutely adore him. Our family fell in love with him the minute we first met him at a PAWS function eight years ago. He was a year old and already house trained. He is a really cute mixture of a border collie, beagle and something else. As long as you are not me, he will throw himself all over you, and you will enjoy his playful nature.

As for me and Sportster, well, we have a special relationship to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy, but there is a bit more to the story.

For whatever reason, (maybe his first owner was a gravelly voiced male with a mustache who perhaps had abused him), Sportster has to warm up to me each and every time I come home.

Let me elaborate.

Sportster actually knows the sound of my car, and you can hear his “alarm” bark as I am pulling into the driveway. As I open the door to the house, you hear a low growl and he will poke his head carefully around the corner. As soon as he knows it’s definitely me, he turns into Mr. Hyde, starts barking hysterically, the hair stands up on his back and he runs to his bed next to the couch as far from me as he can get.

However, if you pulled into my driveway, he would run to the door with his tail wagging ready to shower you with love. If you opened the door, he would welcome you and want to play with you as soon as you entered the house.

But not so with me. Oh no, I don’t get the loveable drool of “man’s best friend.” I get the “50 First Dates” treatment (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it means he has severe short-term memory loss like the Drew Barrymore character).

As crazy as our daily routine is, it really doesn’t take him long to warm up to me. He suddenly realizes I am the guy who always gets him his snacks and the guy who always reminds the kids to take him out for a walk.

I am the one who lets him run loose at the park (he loves to run and is fast as lightening). He will eventually snuggle up next to me on the couch, or on a stormy night, he will jump up on our bed seeking comfort from the wind and the thunder. I like to say he’s not really a dog but a scaredy-cat.

What’s even stranger is that after he warms up to me and puts his nose on my thigh or wrestles playfully with me, if I leave the room to go to the bathroom or to get something from the garage, he starts the whole routine all over again.

My oldest son Jon is really Sportster’s buddy. Those two are great together and Jon loves taking him for hikes at Shingletown Gap or up Mt. Nittany. Jon’s friends are all pals of Sportster’s as well, and it is not unusual for me to find Sportster sleeping among all the teenagers when a sleepover is happening at our house. Sportster is responsible for any of the food the kids spill on the carpet and seems to be especially partial to Cheetos.

What we have learned about Sportster is that he is fiercely jealous of other dogs. If I ever need him to show me any love and respect, all I have to do is play with another dog and suddenly he gets all protective of me. My daughter thinks the solution is that we need another dog. Haven’t been able to convince the wife of that one just yet.

I have had a lot of late nights hanging out with Sportster as I fall asleep watching TV with him snuggled beside me. Alas, that affection disappears the minute I wake and he realizes it’s me and has to go through his coping tactics all over again.

The Battista family is a proud supporter of PAWS and hopes that you will consider spending a night laughing at a very funny comedy show with a great headliner in Rodney Laney. You will also be helping a good friend of mine, Carolyn Todd, an instructor from the Smeal College of Business and her non-profit marketing class who is helping PAWS with the event.

So get off your duff this Saturday, spend a little money helping out and maybe, just maybe, you will get the itch to visit PAWS and see if one of its cats or dogs could find a place in your family.

Visit: for tickets and information to support the worthwhile event. Don't forget to follow Centre Country PAWS on Facebook as well.

Recent Columns:

Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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