It was standing room only at The Moon and Back Café in Plympton Center, as friends, neighbors, and 4-H associates, came to wish Rita LaPointe a happy 94th birthday on Saturday, and enjoy a piece of her pink heart-shaped birthday cake, made by her neighbor Christine Perkins.
Rita has been a Plympton resident for more than half a century and is well known for her expertise in raising and training dogs, as well as grooming and boarding dogs for many through the years. She has led the Cave Canem 4-H dog club since 1961, with her group taking first prizes and ribbons for training and conformation at local shows, regional shows, up to Eastern States, “The Big E”.
Rita’s “no nonsense” training approach takes a firm hand on the leash and a voice that speaks with little “wiggle room” in the commands given, followed up with loving praise for commands well followed. Training and caring for dogs gave many of her 4-H youngsters a sense of responsibility and self esteem under Rita’s direction, and she was well respected, indeed a legend, in her dog training.
In 2013 she added the esteemed “Speak for Thyself” award to her credit. This honor is given each year by the Alden Kindred of America, recognizing exceptional women who, in the spirit of Mayflower Pilgrim Priscilla Mullins Alden, make their own choices, women who, standing on their own merits, have accomplished much in their community.
Just last year Rita retired from her grooming business; at the age of 93 she felt it was getting to be too much for her. She is still involved in her 4H dog club.
Leaving Plympton last week was a difficult move for her. She left her home for All American Assisted Living in Hanson. “It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a dog,” she said Saturday. She has a good attitude about her new location and looks forward to all of its advantages.. She wants people to know where she is and that she would love for friends to visit.