Across the world Sunday, funnies-page fans saw that the sardonic Rat of "Pearls Before Swine" became a grade-school basketball coach whose team prepared to play "Riebli Elementary."

Perhaps some comics readers paused at the school's name long enough to wonder how it's pronounced (REE-blee) or why cartoonist Stephan Pastis chose it.

North of Santa Rosa, members of the Riebli Elementary family gasped and cheered.

"It's nice to have your name recognized as long as it's for the right reason," said Fran Hansel. She's principal of the 500-student Mark West Union District school whose one-room predecessor was founded in 1907 by Swiss immigrant John B. Riebli.

Hansel liked that, in Sunday's strip, a player named Carla told Rat she favors forfeiting the game vs. Riebli because winning and losing causes sadness within what the sensitive kid called "The Brotherhood of Humanity."

Principal Hansel said that, in fact, the sports program at the school focuses far less on winning than on inclusion, making sure everyone gets a chance to play.

"By middle school," she said, "we're going to have a lot of kids who do not make the cut."

Cartoonist and Santa Rosa resident Pastis, whose hugely popular strip appears in 700 newspapers, shares that the new story line reflects true life. Both of his children, Thomas and Julia, attended Riebli before the family moved from the district. And Staci Pastis was active in the Riebli PTA.

Following the family's move, Stephan Pastis signed up to coach Julia's school basketball team — which did in fact play against Riebli.

He asked, "Can you believe I was the coach of a kids' basketball team?"

A GOLF TOURNAMENT is a new undertaking for the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County. But the FJC isn't starting small.

The benefit tourney happens Oct. 7 at the classic, private Sonoma Golf Course, which for years was home to the Charles Schwab Cup that capped the Champions Tour.

And looks who's sponsoring it: Mercedes Benz of Santa Rosa, and Doug and Ame Van Dyke of the landmark E.R. Sawyer Jewelers.

Be the first to smack a hole-in-one at a three-par hole and win a Mercedes GLK350.

THE PASTA KING has donated tons of his good food to community meals to benefit local people in need.

And one day, Art Ibleto told County Supervisor Mike McGuire he wants to do something for animals awaiting homes.

The result, the first Paws & Pawsta, drew a happy crowd Sunday to Saralee's Vineyard and Richard's Grove near the county airport.

The musical feast and auction grossed about $100,000 for services and facilities of county Animal Care and Control, and for the group that will next provide animal services in Healdsburg.

Ibleto stopped working long enough to thank the guests, bless the animals and mention that in October he turns 87. He so loves to sing that he joined the crowd's booming "Happy Birthday."

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and