woof magazine

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Celebrating the Dogs of Our Magic City { www.bhamwoof.com }

special order




woof ! • May/June 2011




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Dog House to Dream House!

bhamwoof.com PUBLISHED BY

Mutt Publishing 1608 Oxmoor Road Birmingham, AL 35209


Liz Young Editor, Photographer, Alpha Dog editor@bhamwoof.com


Amy Murphree Spot(on) Designer


Greg Waters greg@bhamwoof.com Dave Shy dave@bhamwoof.com For more information about this publication, call 205.566.0030 woof! magazine is published by Mutt Publishing (the yappy division of Liz Young Photography, LLC)

Birmingham, AL

No Bones About It... I’ll do Dog Gone Good Work! CONTACT MICHAEL MURPHREE 205.936.6075 mmurphree@realtysouth.com

Copyright 2011, Mutt Publishing It is shameful, illegal, and subject to prosecution to copy any part of woof! magazine. We hope you step in a big pile of poo if you use any of our editorial or copy any of our photos or ideas. Oh, and we will contact our attorney if we catch you doing so. His bark is not as bad as his bite.

g ratin b e l Ce ogs the D ur of O ity ic C Mag


from the editor We’ve had some unexpected yet delightful changes in the Young household in the last year, the least of which is the addition of Great Dane Charlie. I think back on our first year with her (her 1st birthday is May 24th!) and at times I wonder how we made it through the house and crate training, the obedience classes, the constant backyard poop patrol, and the shedding—oh the hair! How this dog is not completely bald is beyond me. But what strikes me as most entertaining is how at age 50, (I said it was a year of change...) I go about my day as if I have a toddler in residence. Before I leave for the day and make the long trek to my office out back, I check to make sure all bedroom doors are closed, all potty lids are down, and all shoes are safe in the closet. I double check our new $100 self-closing kitchen garbage can to make sure it is actually closed, pick up anything that could possibly present a choking hazard, and place towels strategically on our upholstered furniture. And then I stop and wonder, “how in the world did I get here?”

We’ve had a blast sponsoring several really fun doggy events and made tons of new friends who have joined us online. And in meeting these new friends, we’ve discovered even more stories that need retelling.

Sometimes I think the same about how much we’ve accomplished putting up two issues of woof! We’ve had a blast sponsoring several really fun doggy events and have made tons of new friends who have joined us online. And in meeting these new friends, we’ve discovered even more stories that need retelling. In our Special Order feature, you’ll get to know Melannie Layne and her four exceptionally special dogs, and you’ll understand why it is that Melannie will probably always adopt a hearing impaired dog. We’re hoping you’ll be motivated to get out and get fit when you read out fitness department about a 4-legged marathon trainer who boasts of five medals. And in our To the Rescue feature, you’ll be touched by Leo the rescue dog who completes his family just by being there. Go to bhamwoof.com to read your free copy of woof! magazine, Birmingham’s new online dog magazine. Subscribe to woof! online and we’ll email you when the newest issue is up! Enjoy and keep the stories coming!

Liz Young editor, woof! magazine editor@bhamwoof.com




s t n e t n o c f o table In Every Issue:

3 Letter from the Editor

40 Tail End Our favorite view—the back end!


20 Special Order If there’s ever proof that special needs dogs are worth having, Melannie Layne has given us that and a whole lot more. 26 To the Rescue Mix one homeless dog with one adorable family and you get a recipe for a happy ending. 32 Working Like a Dog On an outing to Mountain Brook Village, it may not be an unusual occurrence to find a dog-in-residence manning the store.


6 Fetch!

More fun products that we think you’d like to have 8 Dog-Eared Our favorite reads this month 10 Scoop on the Poop We’ve had a fun spring— look who we ran into! 12 Calendar of Events Find out where woof! will be and come see us!

Do YOU Have a Great Dog Story?

17 4-Legged Fitness For one local marathoner, the best trainer turned out to be her 4-legged companion 36 Doggone Fun Hold on to your hats and get a taste of the fast and furious sport of flyball

A 4

woof!! •• May/June Spring 2011 woof 2011

Birmingham’s woof! magazine has one goal: To share the stories of the remarkable dogs we meet who encourage and inspire us.

If you have a story and want us to give it the attention it deserves, please email all suggestions to editor@bhamwoof.com. Use the phrase “I Know a Great Dog Story” in the subject line of your email and summarize your story in a few sentences in the body of the email. Make sure you include your name, email address, and phone number so we can easily contact you. Be specific and honest so that we understand what makes your dog story distinct. Dogs must live in the Birmingham area. If your story is one we would like to include in future issues of woof! magazine, our editor will be in touch.

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since 2003

edgewoodcatering.com · 205.868.0888 Visit our website and subscribe online to receive our weekly menu!

food is fu


Fun finds for our furry friends



1. Spirit Fetch Perfect for a game of fetch or tug-ofwar, these school spririted Tennis Ball Toss Toys with nylon straps are perfect for avoiding slobber. Available at The Wholesome Pet Market Vestavia www.thewholesomepetmarket.com 205.977.5999

2. Doodie Pack Let your dog carry his own treats, water and poop bags in this lightweight durable backpack. We had ours personalized with our logo - Charlie is very proud of her Doodie Pack! Available online www.doodiepack.com 585.749.5824 $29.95 - $49.95


3. Soft Chew Machine washable Fleecy Cleans are gentle on a dog’s mouth while effectively working on teeth and gums during play, reducing plaque buildup. Available in 3 sizes and 3 colors. ($4.48 - $6.89) Available at Hollywood Feed Greystone www.hollywoodfeed.com/hoover 205.995.0223


woof ! • May/June 2011




4. Pet Pez Say “good dog” with a treat from your pup’s very own oversized Pez dispenser. Available at Freek on a Leesh Hoover www.freekonaleesh.com 205.968.8670 $14.00

5. woof! cap You asked for it so here it is! Show everyone you’re in the doggy loop with our custom woof! cap. 100% cotton washed twill - sure to be your favorite hat. Available online www.bhamwoof.com/fun-stuff $20


6. Fabulous Dahling! Dress ‘em up and take them out with their very own locally made custom Martingale Collar—designer apparel for the discriminating K9. Available in 1.5” and 2” width in a fun variety of fabrics. S-XL sizes. Custom sizes available upon request. Available online www.16PawsK9.com or call Freida Whitley 205.937.0914 prices start at $28



Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog

dog-ea red

Our favorite reads!

by Lisa Scottoline Grand Central Publishing, 2010

By now you know me well enough to realize it takes a lot to get me to laugh out loud while reading. Lisa Scottoline writes a gut-buster in this hilarious commentary on the everyday challenges of life as a woman. Don’t let the title mislead—this is not a male-bashing book, instead a really funny insight on those topics that we women choose to laugh about when in reality, we just want to hide under the covers with a pint of ice cream.

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs by Caroline Knapp Dial Press,1999

New York Times bestselling author Caroline Knapp writes an insightful account of her life with shelter puppy Lucille and recognizes“the power of a dog to change who you are.” Friends react as expected (“ok, you’re scaring me”) yet Knapp realizes acceptance and contentment for the first time in her life, primarily through her relationship with Lucille. A great read, especially in tandem with best friend Gail Caldwell’s Let’s Take the Long Way Home. I’ll save that review for next issue— it’s a must-read as well.

A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life by Jon Katz Random House, 2007

A Good Dog is one of those books that I actually re-read so I could chew on the content. Author Jon Katz finds himself at a pivotal point in life, finished with raising children, yet uncertain about his own future and paralyzed with the fear of becoming stagnant. All of that changes when Katz takes on Border Collie Orson, and the new direction he heads as a result is profound and enchanting. Katz insight into a dog’s psyche is deep yet amazingly simple. Border Collie fans— do not pass this one up!

The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia McDonald, Ph. D. Ballantine Books, 2003

Dog behavior expert Patricia McDonald shares her understanding of dogs and how their behavior is more often than not misunderstood. Sometimes clinical but frequently entertaining, The Other End of Leash does nothing if not shed light on the missteps that we typically make in our attempt to train and interact with our dogs. McDonald is passionate and knowledgeable about canine logic and it is evident in her writing that she wants nothing more than to bridge the gap in communication between man and dog. (Love the hardback cover photo!)


woof ! • May/June 2011

at Home Alone I don’t ‘toot’ my horn for just anybody!


Dog Days

- McSorley

Company Mascot

of Birmingham

Let your dog play with his friends while you’re at work!

(205) 458-9364 112 18th St. N

Alabama Aquarium & Pond Services 205-663-6888 www.alabamaaquarium.com www.dogdaysofbirmingham.com

follow us on facebook!

An event for AnimAls And their people Benefitting greAt dAne rescue, inc.

mAy 22, 2011 • 2– 4pm town hAll @ the preserve 601 preserve wAy • hoover, Al 35226 music By: BlAke weBBer wine provided By: pinnAcle imports pictures in the pArk By: underdog photogrAphy silent Auction • rAffle



scoop on the poop


Events Around Town

We had a ball at Paws in the Garden at Aldridge Gardens in March. The rain held off for most of the day and we were able to get some cute pics of our new friends. Proceeds from the admission fee went to local rescue organizations.


woof ! • May/June 2011

In April we helped celebrate Generation Dog’s 4th Anniversary with Yappy Hour at WXYZ bar at ALoft in Homewood. As you can tell, we all had a grand time! (And we promise every dog had a designated driver.) Donations went to Great Dane Rescue.

Dog Days of Birmingham hosted Dog Days of April to raise awareness of animal & child abuse. Proceeds benefitted Hand in Paw and local rescues. (I included a pic of our tent before it blew over!)

Hand in Paw’s 2nd Annual Mutt Strut had a huge turnout with lots of 2- and 4- legged runners and walkers in the 1K and 5K events. Everyone had a ball and really enjoyed Railroad Park.




Come to Linn Park and visit the Underdog Photography booth. We’ll have show specials you won’t want to miss! www.magiccityart.com


Dont’ miss Birmingham’s biggest doggy event of the year! Meet the woof! pack and pick up a treat for your bestest 4-legged friend. www.dodahday.org


An event for animals and their people benefitting Great Dane Rescue Inc. Mug shots by Underdog Photography www.greatdanerescueinc.com


Add $3 to your ticket price and bring your mutt to Regions Park and drop in on the woof! booth. Proceeds benefit Alabama English Bulldog Rescue www.barons.com


Hillary Gamble · 205.243.1529 www.jevoisphotography.com info@jevoisphotography.com


woof ! • May/June JeVois.indd 1


2/16/11 1:59 PM

We’ll post more events on our facebook page so stay tuned!


Rolling Through, oil on canvas, 36”x36”

claire cormany oils :: acrylics :: commissions

www.clairecormany.com clairecormany@gmail.com 205 + 249 + 5585

Tear into your next issue!

If we could do everything… Nothing would go wrong.

4/19/11 12:15 PM

Photo by Chuck St. John

flower.indd 1

Come drive-thru Hunter’s Cleaners in Homewood where all the clothes are cared for on-site. We’re worth the trip. 1 9 1 5 O x m o o r R o a d ( b e h i n d t h e P i g g l y W i g g l y, n e x t t o F l o r a ) • H o m e w o o d , A l a b a m a 3 5 2 0 9 • 8 7 1 . 6 1 3 1




pet vet animal hospital Dr. Kris Mahaffey and husband Mike make their veterinary practice a community affair


woof ! • May/June 2011

When you walk into Pet Vet Animal Hospital in Vestavia Hills, you’re likely to be greeted by name and a helping hand at the door. To Dr. Kris Mahaffey and husband Mike, it is second nature to know their clients—after all, they’re seeing 2nd and 3rd generations of pets come through their door these days. After moving all over the country for Mike’s work, the Mahaffeys decided to make their way back to Alabama in 1998 where they could raise their 2 children in a community they loved. Mike hails from Vestavia so prior to moving back, they had visited quite a bit to see family. Once they decided to join forces and run their own practice, it didn’t take long to find the perfect location in the heart of Vestavia. Within a month of acquiring space, they opened the hospital doors on their 13th wedding anniversary. “We couldn’t have found a better location,” says Mike. “We’re close to home and school—it works perfectly for us.”


“To us this isn’t just an animal business, it’s a people business.”

Becoming involved in their beloved community was high on their list of priorities. “We are very involved in the community,” explains Mike. “We host elementary school field trips here at the hospital, contribute regularly to school and church fund raising auctions, and place banners on the fences in many of the sports fields around the city.” One of the elementary school auction items Mike mentions is the “Vet for a Day” package in which the high bidder gets to don scrubs, bring their pet in, and have a free Q&A with Dr. Kris about pet care and wellness. “And don’t forget,” Mike mentions, “Vestavia school teachers receive a 10% discount

at the hospital.” And it’s not an unusual sight to spot a giant Scooby Doo waving enthusiastically from the front yard of Pet Vet on the opening day of school as astonished kids make their way through the carpool line. “Oh the kids love when we let Scooby Doo out,” Mike grins. I can only imagine it helped to calm those first day jitters for many elementary kids. Scooby Doo is a popular attraction when Pet Vet hosts the Girl and Boy Scout group visits throughout the year as well. Getting to know their customers is central to the Mahaffey’s practice, and through her experience at numerous

animal hospitals prior to opening Pet Vet, Dr. Kris took note that clients regularly requested the same vet for their appointments. “Seeing a familiar face on each visit raises the level of trust and comfort, and being the only vet on site guarantees that familiarity,” she explained. “To us this isn’t just an animal business, it’s a people business.” It’s not uncommon for Dr. Kris to make a house call or provide emergency care for her clients or for Mike to meet a customer curb side to help get a pet of the car. “We know our customers so well—we grieve with

Pet Vet Animal Hospital • 2021 Kentucky Avenue • Vestavia Hills, AL 35216 • 205.824.2077 www.bhamwoof.com



them through illness and loss and we share in their celebrations of life’s gifts,” Mike adds. During my short visit with Dr. Kris, it became obvious right away that educating her clients is her passion. She patiently explains very scientific “vet-speak” in layman’s terms and is determined to make sure we non-vets understand not only a diagnosis, but possible causes of illness as well as proactive prevention to encourage overall pet wellness. I asked Dr. Kris if she ever considered teaching at vet school, as I was enamoured with the simple analogies she used to help me understand some of the cases she was working on. That day, I learned about a cat’s ear canal, canine bladder function, general dental care, and had a quick demonstration of how to give my Great Dane a manicure with a Dremel. “Before I finish an exam,” Dr. Kris explains, “I make sure the pet owner understands what we have talked about during our visit—pet owners play such a huge part in pet wellness, and I want to educate them in that role.” Dental care is an essential part of pet wellness. As Dr. Kris explains it, “Dental problems can often be the root of bigger systemic problems. Taking care of and having your pet’s teeth cleaned can impact their health in such a positive way and oftentimes plays a large part in a their longevity.” Dr. Kris invited me into a dental cleaning and showed me the steps of the procedure, which were surprisingly similar to a human’s teeth cleaning, except that pets are given general anesthesia and intubated. “Pets naturally don’t swallow extra saliva while under anesthesia,” Dr. Kris explained— yet another interesting “did you know” that I can now add to the list of things I learned that day. We looked at a “before” and “after” for a teeth cleaning and I wondered if this particular dog woke up


woof ! • May/June 2011

curious as to how his teeth suddenly felt so clean and shiny after a short nap. Pet Vet carries a line of tooth healthy treats that help control plaque and discourage gum disease, all the while keeping bad breath at bay. Dr. Kris tells me, “there is no hard fast rule on the frequency of needing a full teeth cleaning. Sometimes we recommend annually, oftentimes it is less frequent—we assess based on a thorough exam.” Besides top notch health care, Pet Vet also provides grooming and boarding. Boarded animals are walked at least three times daily in an open grassy area, a practice that keeps house broken dogs happy and less stressed during their stay.

On any given day during a visit to Pet Vet, you’ll get to meet the many contented cats-in-residence, as well as four happy, well-adjusted rescue dogs who come to work with the Mahaffeys every day—a testament to their commitment that all creatures deserve a stable home and good health care. Included in the description “all creatures” is exotic pets, as Pet Vet is one of few hospitals in the area that treats exotic animals. So whether it’s for a dental evaluation or a weekend boarding stay, follow the giant paw prints in the heart of Vestavia to Pet Vet Animal Hospital. You’ll feel right at home.

4-legged fitness

marathon mutt

For one marathoner, the best trainer turns out to be her 4-legged companion

LEFT: Juno proudly

wears her hardearned marathon medals.

Distance runner Nivada Spurlock didn’t

know it at the time, but on a long run at Smith Lake, she was about to meet a trainer who would forever change the way she prepared for her marathons. “I was on 10-mile run when out of nowhere, a dog shot across the pasture next the dirt road I was on and proceeded to fall in beside me. She kept pace and trotted next to me for my last 5 miles — I couldn’t talk her into going back home.” Before heading back to Birmingham, Nivada contacted as many folks as possible nearby but no one recognized the dog, so she took her home and to her vet to have her checked out. Turns out the dog was pregnant so Nivada promptly named her Juno.

With the help of Two by Two Animal Rescue, Juno’s puppies were all adopted. Nivada gave Juno ample time to recover from her pregnancy and then decided to test her on a training run. After all, Juno joined her with little effort on a 5 mile trek, what else was she capable of? Turns out, Juno became an exceptional marathon training partner. Nivada explains, “Juno never wakes up and says ‘I don’t feel like running’ nor does she complain if the weather is not perfect. She is the best trainer I could have imagined, and once she gets her energy out in the first mile, she is in the zone and can go for as long as I can go.” According to most runners, accountability is a huge factor in consistency and success, and Nivada knows Juno will be there for every outing. “Running is an escape, a down-time for me to unwind. With Juno, it’s now also about getting her out, spending time with her, and giving her a job that she can do successfully.” Nivada trains with Juno using a handsfree tether comprised of a waist belt, a harness, and a bungee-style leash. She initially tried leashing up Juno to a carabineer hooked on the elastic band of her running shorts, but that ended with a bit of a wardrobe malfunction—you get the



Nivada trains with Juno using a hands-free tether comprised of a waist belt, a harness, and a bungee-style leash.


woof ! • May/June 2011

4-legged fitness

LEFT: Nivada and Juno warming

up. BELOW: Juno freezes on the ready when Nivada leashes up.

For more information on The Movement and to follow The Movement Blog Email Nivada Spurlock at nspurlock@homewood. k12.al.us

picture. With Juno as her trainer, Nivada has completed two Mercedes Marathons and two Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons, earning her four event medals as well as the coveted 26.2 medal. Besides being a successful marathoner, Nivada heads up The Movement, Homewood City Schools’ Wellness Program, a system-wide “corporate” fitness approach to a healthy lifestyle, positively impacting student and employee performance. Utilizing the facilities at Homewood High School, Nivada coordinates fitness classes, walk-jog-run programs, and designs training regimens in order to promote wellness through exercise. According to Nivada, “The Movement has become a winning program in our schools—the teachers are modeling a fit lifestyle and making choices to be active. Everyone in the community is encour-

aged to participate in the program. We’re excited at the response and energized at the changes this is making in people’s lives.” Although Nivada is formally trained as a fitness expert, she truly believes that she has learned as much about fitness from just observing Juno as she did in her classes. And if you think about it, she’s right. Juno works on her cardiovascular endurance by distance running; she adds variety incorporating sprints while chasing squirrels; she maintains flexibility by stretching at length when she wakes up; and she eats a high-protein diet with no wasted calories on fat or carbs (maybe we should all look into a dog food diet…). Leave it to a dog-loving marathoner to point out the obvious when it comes to noticing what our pups have been doing all along.



special order

Melannie demonstrates how her pack is trained in American sign language.


woof ! • May/June 2011

special order



If there’s ever proof that special needs dogs are worth having, Melannie Layne has given us that and a whole lot more.


I met Melannie

at a Picasso Pets painting session. She was introduced as the “dog motivator” for this session and I remember thinking “what a cool title – and what exactly does a ‘dog motivator’ do?” Turns out Melannie’s role was to encourage the dogs to calmly and carefully walk across the canvas with paint on their paws—not an easy feat. And she did just that without even breaking a sweat. The next time I ran into Melannie was during a Hand in Paw shadow visit at Children’s Hospital. Melannie was there with the most adorable white dachshund named Maddie. Maddie is deaf, and Melannie communicated with Maddie using sign language. Maddie responded to her Melannie without hesitation. I was hooked. I got in touch with Melannie to see if I could interview her about Maddie, that I was running editorial on special needs dogs and I really wanted to feature the two of them. “I would love to,” Melannie responded. “But actually I have 3 other special needs dogs – would you be interested in their stories as well?” This was just getting better by the minute. I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon with Melannie and her pack of 4 special needs dogs (and one visiting granddog) and had a ball. We laughed and played and took tons of photos and talked about each dog and how they ended up with



special order

Melannie puts Maddie, Mike, Trevor and Max on a stay. OPPOSITE: Precious Maddie proudly wears her Delta Society tag.

Melannie and her family, and how they have impacted lives around Birmingham. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the door by an enthusiastic welcoming committee of 5 dogs, Melannie, husband Jeff and daughter Hannah. I couldn’t help myself — I plopped down on the floor just inside the door so I could enjoy being overwhelmed with fluffy cuteness and affection (dog trainers out there, don’t judge me how I greet dogs—sometimes I just can’t resist). I recognized Maddie and was delighted to meet the others. Mike, a 13-year-old beautiful solid white Australian Shepherd, is completely deaf. He joined the Layne family after Melannie was contacted about a puppy slated to be drowned simply because he was deaf and couldn’t be sold. That special need didn’t deter Melannie or husband Jeff. In fact Jeff’s sister is hearing impaired so naturally they already knew American sign language. According to Melannie“We brought Mike home and immediately began training him using sign language—he learned very quickly.” Years ago, on a Saturday outing to a pet store, Melannie and Mike came across a Hand In Paw information booth. When the ladies explained their mission, Melannie said, “Let me show you what this dog can do,” and with that she proceeded put Mike through his commands using sign language. When they finished, Melannie was stunned to see the ladies in tears. To them, it was a miracle—by chance they had discovered a completely deaf dog trained in sign language—a golden find for a cause whose mission is to provide comfort and therapy. With a sweet calm disposition and intense focus, Mike will do just about anything asked which, according to Melannie, makes him the perfect therapy dog. In fact, hearing impaired folks, especially children, are delighted when they realize that Mike literally speaks their language. Next in line is 9-year-old Max, who came across Melannie’s radar when a family member asked if Melannie knew anyone who would want a deaf Australian Shepherd puppy. She did—know of someone, that is. Sounds like fate to me. She took Max in and proceeded to train him in American Sign Language as well. “The others learn so much from the first one, and


woof ! • May/June 2011

special order

dogs at work

“These dogs have touched so many lives, and they were slated to be destroyed as if they were nothing.” deaf dogs actually learn faster than hearing dogs because they are not distracted by noise. Dogs are so attuned to our body language—they get more cues from our actions than our voices. In the morning when I let them out in the backyard, they constantly look to me as if asking ‘ok, we’ve done our business, now what do you want us to do?’” Melannie went so far as to say “I’m not sure I would ever have another hearing dog after working with these guys.” Now that’s a statement. Not long after Max got settled in, Melannie heard of a dachshund breeder with a double dapple puppy who was blind in one eye. Did Melannie possibly know anyone who wanted this adorable puppy that could not be sold? (You already know where this is going.) Trevor is now 8 years old and is the only hearing dog in Melannie’s pack. Trevor is our cover dog this month and I’m not sure anyone can meet this dog without grinning. I actually considered sneaking Trevor out in my camera bag, but decided that may not go over so well. Several years after adding Trevor, a call came in about yet another dachshund puppy, apparently from the same breeder. This time the white puppy was missing an eye and was totally deaf. It didn’t take long for 4-year-old Maddie to become trained in sign language and pass her therapy dog evaluation. Maddie has an adorable way of cocking her head so she can see what you are doing with her good eye. Almost the entire time I was at the Layne’s home, Maddie relentlessly implored any of us to throw her ball/Frisbee/orange rubber tube thingie for a short-distance game of fetch. “Have you ever seen a dachshund retrieve before?” Melannie laughed. Honestly, I can’t say that I have until now. It was precious. When Maddie is working therapy, she is all business and intently watches Melannie for her cues, patiently allowing lots of petting of her buttery soft fur. As unique as these dogs are, it is Melannie’s relentless patience and commitment to the value of all life that fosters each dog’s success. Melannie has an infectious smile and encouraging personality and I could tell that she can’t help but be tickled by most everything these dogs do. It’s obvious that they adore her. And besides being their beloved pack leader, Melannie possesses an amazing artistic talent—she paints. She showed me her collection of paintings of a long line of cherished dogs, each work comprised in part of the dogs’ paws, a colorful tribute to their lives and their contributions. Reminiscing over her collection, she tells me that in countless ways “These dogs have touched so many lives, and they were slated to be destroyed as if they were nothing.” Indeed, they are not nothing, and mine is yet another life touched by these special dogs and their remarkable leader.

Cover dog Trevor waiting to see what’s on tap OPPOSITE TOP TO BOTTOM: Mike intently watches for what to do next. Melannie’s artwork as tribute to the dogs in her life. Signaling “good dogs” to Mike, Max and Trevor

to the rescue

It’s hugs and kisses all arounds from Xavier and Naomi Martin OPPOSITE: A view from inside of the many caves found on our outing.

to the rescue

to the

Mix one homeless dog with one adorable family and you get a recipe for a happy ending.




to the rescue


Allison Potts Shirley

director of non-profit organization Peace, Love and Dog Paws Rescue, got a call one day about a pair of dogs spotted wandering in the Bessemer area. Allison and her crew were able catch Pitt Bull Leo, but not the older female who seemed to be in charge of this tiny pack of two. Allison took Leo to Britt Animal Clinic to have him looked over. Britt agreed to board Leo until someone stepped up to give him a permanent home. In the meantime, Allison consulted with dog behaviorist Aaron McDonald who evaluated Leo and determined that with the proper training and leadership, Leo could be a great family dog. Aaron worked with the staff at Britt to develop a plan for Leo’s obedience and socialization, and they worked with Leo on a daily basis to help develop these skills in order to become more adoptable. In addition to the staff at Britt, Alison and her network of volunteers visited Leo regularly and walked him frequently. Everyone was quickly falling in love with this gentle spirited dog, and they were determined to find him a great home. It was on one of the walks with volunteer Ashley Robbins when things started looking up for Leo. One February day in 2009, Ashley took Leo on a walk on Jemison Trail for some social time and leash training. On this particular day, Leo and Ashley ran into young mother Candi Martin and her 6-year-old son Xavier. As Candi tells it “We were skipping stones in the creek when Leo walked right up to Xavier and nuzzled his face—the two became instant friends.” Introductions were made and Ashley explained that Leo was boarding at Britt but needed a permanent home. “We weren’t looking for a dog, “ recalls Candi, “but I couldn’t get Leo out of my mind.” Several days later, Candi brought up the possibility of adopting Leo with husband Phillip, who was on board from the start. According to Candi, “Phillip and Xavier like to go on walks together, and we thought that adding a dog would make that time even more memorable.” And like many families, the Martins always felt something was missing in their “dogless” home. Candi contacted Allison and the two planned a home visit to evaluate if the Martin’s home was appropriate for a dog. The visit went well. Leo confidently walked in to the Martin’s home and settled on the sofa as if he belonged there. Turns out that he did belong there. The sofa, and especially Candi’s lap, has become a favorite place for this gentle loving dog. Leo settled in well. And Aaron was spot on—Leo has turned out to be a great family dog who just needed someone to take the leadership role. After following the wandering female, when Leo landed at Britt he was in desperate need of a new leader in his life. And the Martins filled that role perfectly. According to Candi, “The transition went better than expected. Leo settled


woof ! • May/June 2011

to the rescue

Leo confidently leads the way on a family hike at Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover



to the rescue Leo and Xavier sit quietly as they look for fish in the stream at Moss Rock. OPPOSITE: Leo patiently poses with his family for some photos.

to the rescue

Bacon Chicken Layer Cake • 3 cups flour • 1 T. baking powder • 1/2 cup margarine, softened • 6 eggs, beaten • 1/2 cup corn oil • 2 jars strained chicken baby food • 2 cups finely shredded carrots • plain or vanilla yogurt • 2 or 3 strips of bacon, fried crisp, then crumbled, or use bacon flavored jerky strips, cut into bits.


Generously grease and flour two 8” round cake pans; set aside.

in like an old man and we had him house trained in two days.” At night Leo bed surfs between 3-year-old daughter Naomi’s and Xavier’s room. “He wants to be so close when he sleeps, it’s sometime impossible to move him over to make room for anyone else in the bed,” she laughs. I met Leo and the Martins on an outing to Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover and was enamored with the calm and patient way he interacted with his family. They hiked, waded in the stream, and poked in and out of the delicious nooks and crannies in the giant boulders. Leo was up for anything, including impromptu hugs and meddlesome poses for the camera. I was in love and still had a hard time believing this dog had not grown up with this family of four. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that Leo receives his own wrapped Christmas gifts, and recently celebrated the anniversary of his adoption—complete with a cake. (see recipe in sidebar) “It’s so great to raise kids with a dog,” muses Candi. “With Leo, we are able to teach Naomi and Xavier how to be respectful to animals.” Sounds like the Martins are teaching all of us that opening your home to a dog Do you know in need has a giant payoff in more ways a great rescue than one.

story? If so, email editor@bhamwoof.com.

We’d love to hear your stories!

Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat softened margarine until smooth. Add eggs and corn oil; mix well. Add strained chicken and shredded carrots and mix until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into the 2 prepared 8” cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on wire racks. Place one layer on a serving plate and spread yogurt on top. Place second layer on top, then spread yogurt on top and sides of the entire cake. Sprinkle crumbled bacon or bits of jerky strips over the top. Use “Pupperoni” sticks for “candles.” Enjoy!



working like a dog

CHARLOTTE WOODSON ANTIQUES 2410 Canterbury Road Mountain Brook, AL 35223 (205) 871-3314 • www. charlottewoodson.com

it’s a village

dog’s life

On an outing to Mountain Brook Village, it may not be an unusual occurrence to find a dog-in-residence manning the store.


woof ! • May/June 2011

working like a dog


Foxie takes up residence in his customized spot in the shop. OPPOSITE: Dinah and Foxie snuggle.

On a walk

through Mountain Brook Village, it’s a treat to pop in and out of the shops and find unique treasures. But it is always an added bonus when you discover that quite a few of these shops play host to their hard working dogs who make sure that visitors are greeted properly. Among the shops who consider their dogs to be a vital part of their staff, there were two in particular that I called upon who are known for always having their canines in residence. I sent Dinah Toro of Charlotte Woodson Antiques an email to see if I could drop in and visit with her and Foxie, a fluffy Pomeranian, and get some shots of a day in the life of a dog at work. She emailed back, “Foxie whispered in my ear that he would love to be in your magazine.” This completely cracked me up—I had a hard time being serious in my response because I was so tickled. “Will 10:00 work for you?” I emailed back, trying to get in early enough so as to not bother the customers. Dinah replied, “Foxie left a note on my desk that 10:00 works perfectly for him.” I could tell this was going to be good. So I met Dinah and Foxie at 10:00 on the specified day and spent a good part of the morning talking about how it came to be that a little rescue dog ended up at one of the loveliest shops in Mountain Brook Village. “Foxie was a puppy mill stud dog who spent most of his 9 years in a wire crate,” Dinah explains. “This www.bhamwoof.com


working like a dog

THE COOK STORE 2841 Cahaba Road Birmingham, Al 35223 205-879-5277 phone 205-879-5278 fax thecookstore@msn.com thecookstoremtnbrook.com


woof ! • May/June 2011

particular mill had thankfully decided to close its doors, and they were desperate to place all of the dogs there. I saw Foxie’s picture on PetFinders and went to ‘just look’ and see what kind of shape this adorable but unfortunate dog was in.” When she saw Foxie, Dinah’s heart went out to this shy boy, and she knew that he just needed a safe and loving place to retire and call home. “He was scared and so shy, and on the way home he hid in my overcoat and didn’t move. I was so worried about him and I just wanted him to know that from this point on, everything was going to be alright.” Dinah immediately started taking Foxie to work at the shop and her sweet patience and soft demeanor slowly rubbed off on Foxie—he began to relax and become more confident. Dinah noticed that Foxie felt most comfortable on a palate on the floor underneath a empty frame she just happened to lean against a mirror. “He spent so much time in a crate, I imagine his only companionship was the dog in the next crate over—they probably shared the one wire wall—and I bet Foxie is trying to recreate scenario that by laying next to a mirror.” Foxie is well-know throughout the village and Dinah reports that people naturally come in and ask for him. “I have one customer who brings her elderly mother in just to see Foxie—it has become the highlight of her day.” Dinah graciously puts a bowl of water outside on the sidewalk. Walkers and joggers out with their dogs will time their outings to include Charlotte Woodson as a pit stop, and often stick their head in the door to call out a hearty “thank-you” for the much-needed water for their pups. Adding to the personality of the village, Dinah has a placed a plaque just outside her door that reads, “Chien Gentil Maitre Lunatique,” which is French for “Sweet Dog, Lunatic Owner,” yet another example of Dinah’s subtle sense of humor that adds to the charm of this already charming shop.

working like a dog BELOW LEFT: Punkin is

always ready for a meet and greet. BELOW RIGHT: Wesley takes a break to give hugs to her favorite shop accessories


Down the street

and around the corner sits The Cook Store, a privately owned kitchen shop where you can buy just about anything imaginable that involves cooking. This delightful shop is home to Ming and Punkin, two adorable Shih-Tzus who have managed the store since the first day that owner Wesley Lasson took over 12 years ago. Ming, Wesley’s mother’s dog and often referred to as Wesley’s “sister,” is an adorable tiny female shih-tzu with a quiet and reserved personality. Ming usually stays out of obvious sight, finding a low shelf or cart to be the perfect observation post. Ming loves the men who come in the store and will typically come out of hiding when she hears a deep voice. Requiring a regular walk around the village to take care of business, Ming is always greeted by other store owners and village regulars on these outings. “But what about you?” I asked Wesley, wondering if she is even acknowledged on these walks. “Oh no,” she reports, “they don’t greet me—just Ming.” Punkin, on the other hand, loves everyone and everything and makes it a personal mission to enthusiastically meet and greet anyone who comes in the shop. “He’s definitely the extrovert of the group,” laughs Wesley. Punkin belongs to Wesley’s aunt who often works in the store along with Wesley’s mom, making the venture a true family affair, dogs and all. “I love having the dogs at the store,” Wesley explains. “Folks come in and ask ‘Is there a dog here today?’ and are delighted when they discover that indeed the dogs are there to make sure everything is running smoothly. According to Wesley, “Ming and Punkin just do their own thing—they’ve truly become part of the atmosphere and personality of the store” and provide customers that charming bonus when they drop in. “It makes people happy to see dogs on their daily errands,” Wesley adds. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.” I’m certain that village regulars wouldn’t have it any other way either. • www.bhamwoof.com


doggone fun

go dog go! If you are looking for something fun to do with your dog, consider the increasingly popular, fast-action sport known as flyball.


woof ! • May/June 2011

C Curious about flyball, I got in touch Birmingham flyball team The Alabama Slammers and they graciously invited me out to BOTC to a Sunday afternoon practice. Steve Glasser met me inside and introduced me around to the team members and their dogs. “Have you ever seen flyball before?” he asked. I told Steve I hadn’t and he grinned and assured me that I was in for a treat. He wasn’t kidding. I honestly had never seen anything like it before— there were dogs barking and racing and flying by—it was quite the challenge to shoot (remember—I’m the one with the camera). It was such a spring-loaded blur of fur coming and going and jumping and passing—it was exhilirating to experience so much energy and motion all at once. Flyball teams consist of four dogs that race over a 51 foot long course. Each dog must run in relay fashion down a narrow row of jumps and trigger a flyball box at the end of the course. Retreiving a ball released from the box, the dog races back over the jumps, and in true relay style, the next dog is then released to run the course. Teams race side by side and the first team to have all 4 dogs

doggone fun

finish the course without error wins the heat. Sounds pretty straightforward but when you consider the coordinated effort on both the dogs’ and trainers’ part to accomplish this feat, it becomes quite impressive. I asked the members who were at that particular practice some questions about their love for this unique sport. Here are some of their comments: WOOF!: So tell me how you got started with flyball. STEVE: When Donna and I began training Border Collies, we were looking for things “to keep them busy” and heard about flyball during my agility training with my first Border Collie Maddie. We visited a training session with one of the Birmingham Flyball teams and I was hooked! KAY: I was at Do Dah Day in 2000. Flyball had just come to the area, and there were some folks there with a flyball box, handing out dog biscuits with an information flyer wrapped around the treats. I went to a practice the next month, and the rest, as they say, is history. KRISTY: I had just adopted my border collie Gracie and learned that the

It was such a spring-loaded blur of fur coming and going and jumping and passing— it was exhilirating to experience so much energy and motion all at once.

LEFT: Steve readies Sam for a run CENTER: Kristy

orchestrates a pass RIGHT: Donna mans the box



doggone fun

The Alabama Slammers hard at practice L-R: Steve Glasser with Sam, Kay Kukendall with Polly, Donna Arnett with Maddie, Kristy Gunther with Lillie & Hannah, and Carolyn Roberts with Milly

breed excelled at things like agility, Frisbee competition and flyball. At that time, there were 2 flyball teams in Birmingham. We decided to give it a try and signed up for our first class with the Birmingham Bandits and never looked back. WOOF!: Why flyball? KRISTY: Flyball is so much fun. The dogs love it because they get to be dogs. What dog doesn’t like running, jumping and barking? And it’s great fun for us too. There is nothing like seeing the joy in the faces of these dogs and the pride that the handlers have. In addition to be great physical exercise, flyball is a wonderful way for dogs to learn valuable social skills. STEVE: Flyball is a hoot! There is always something going on, even if you are not running your dog. At a typical flyball tournament, one can run with their dogs anywhere from 15 to 20 times. It’s also a team sport, so when you’re not running dogs, you may be box-loading, clearing balls from the track, or calling passes. CAROLYN: The dogs adore it...it’s like “doggy” Six Flags. It’s good exercise, and


woof ! • May/June 2011

we all know that a tired dog is a good dog! WOOF!: What do you think makes a good flyball dog? KRISTY: Flyball should be fun, so in reality, any dog could be a good flyball dog. The important thing is that the dogs get along and understand that they are a team. KAY: I see speed and the natural ability to do a “swimmer’s turn” at the box as two factors that make for a great flyball dog. CAROLYN: A good flyball dog needs to get along with other dogs in close quarters, be pretty solid at coming when called and needs a patient owner to train them. High energy and ball drive are certainly an asset but not essential for dogs wanting to play flyball. STEVE: A good Flyball dog is fast, not dog or people aggressive, and trainable. The latter is the easiest —think about it, running, jumping, and chasing after a ball—this is heaven to a dog. WOOF!: Any awards you’d like us to know about? KRISTY: Gracie has her Flyball Grand Champion award given at 30,000 points. She retired in the summer of

2009 with a little over 37,000 points. Lillie has her Onyx award which is given at 20,000 points. She is still running and currently has a little over 25,000 points. Baby Hannah has her Flyball Dog Champion-Gold title earned at 2,500 points. STEVE: Maddie has just earned her ONYX for cumulating 20000 points. Sammy, our 3 ½-year-old Border Collie has his Flyball Master Excellent (FMX) title which is 10,000 points, and is moving close to the 15,000 point mark. Max, who just got his FMX title, is a throwback to Aussie herding and it took a lot to train him not to chase the other dogs who were running. I’m most proud of his FMX title. KAY: Polly’s most recent title is FG40K which means she earned 40,000 points. The next title given by NAFA is at 50,000 points. She currently has 45,468, however, at age 131/2—well, I don ‘t want to speculate on whether she can get to the next title. WOOF!: Well we’re certainly impressed with what each of you has accomplished. Best of luck in future tournaments. I’m off to recover from your practice!

ad index Tell our advertisers you saw them in woof! AL Pet Vet.......................................... 14 Alabama Aquarium............................ 9 Birmingham Barons.......................... 39 Claire Cormany................................. 13 Dog Days of Birmingham................... 9 Edgewood Catering............................ 5 flower magazine................................ 13 Great Dane Rescue, Inc...................... 9 Hunter’s Cleaners............................. 13 Je Vois Photography.......................... 12 Realty South Michael Murphree �������� 2 Underdog Photography...................... 39

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d n e tail

Visit Us at www.bhamwoof.com editor@bhamwoof.com

dogs They inspire us and console us. They fill our lives and soften our hearts. They open our world and encourage us to start conversations with complete strangers. Birmingham’s woof! magazine is a free online magazine that tells the stories of our magic city dogs. You’ll recognize familiar folks as they tell remarkable tales of the dogs who have touched their lives. Subscriptions are free - just sign up at www.bhamwoof.com and we’ll email you when the latest issue of woof! is online. Enjoy!


woof ! • May/June 2011



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