Calgary Dog Life - Vol 1 Iss 1 Fall 2016

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Looking for a new adventure spot with your dog? Check out the 2016 Calgary Dog Life Off-Leash Park Guide!

Visit to find out where you can pick up your own copy today! Now selling ad space for our 5th issue. E-mail us for details!








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A local product that is sure to help anxious dogs everywhere.


Inspiring story of how Straja Linder King forged her own way to create a new kind of therapy.





A super easy to make dog leash holder using materials from around the house.

5 awesome places around YYC to visit with your dog.



18 WHY YOUR DOG IS GREAT IN 8 Personal submissions of what makes your dog great.

5 questions to ask yourself when considering getting a puppy.


HEALING WITH PERRY A personal narrative of a shared healing experience.


36 YYC DOGS OF INSTAGRAM 44 SUPERHERO SPOTLIGHT Featuring amazing folks who are making a difference for dogs in our community.

Showcasing some of Calgary’s finest artists.


NEW BEGINNINGS How Jose Neto found a new outlook on life with the help of his guide dog.



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MARKET IN LOVING MEMORY Our dogs remembered.

How Karen Belanger’s love for animals and entrepreneurial spirit led her to a career in pet insurance.


9 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT YOUR DOG WALKER Some of these will surprise you.


3 tips to help your puppy have a positive experience at the groomers.

48 ESSENTIAL OILS Treating common ailments with essential oils.


Macy: a beautiful husky mix rescue dog from Calgary. Photographed in Fish Creek Park. Follow us on social media to see how your dog can be featured on our cover!



Photos by: Quantum Images Inc.

Sarah & Boomer

Jodie & Chai


Hello! Welcome to the premiere issue of Calgary Dog Life Magazine. The idea for this magazine originally began over a year and a half ago. The suggestion came as two friends were out walking their dogs one afternoon. One said to the other, “I was thinking about starting a dog magazine.” To which the other replied, “I was thinking the same thing a few months ago!” And just like that, Calgary Dog Life Magazine was underway. Since its inception, it has evolved from creating a central place for dog news and events, to a thoughtful and beautiful space that showcases some of the amazing dog people, dog businesses, and dog heroes of our city. Individuals who are following their hearts, creating businesses, living their passions, and making a difference. Our goal with this magazine is to create a community and offer these talented, inspirational, and hardworking people a chance to be acknowledged for their work and achievements. Hopefully, we can also encourage other dog people to recognize what one small idea or action can create.

by Kir

Through this journey, we have been privileged to meet, interview and collaborate with some of Calgary’s most compassionate and passionate dog people. Some you may have heard of, and others may be a little less known. But all of them have a heart of gold and a love for all things dog, and we look forward to bringing even more inspirational stories to the dog people of Calgary. This first issue of the magazine is centered on new beginnings. Whether it is a new business, a new puppy, a new idea or a new outlook on life, this magazine represents all of those to us and the idea of what is possible. Lastly, and just as important, we wanted to offer a place to honour Calgary Dogs. This magazine is a tribute to our fur babies that passed, and ultimately what brought the two of us together four years ago. In memory of Kirby and Billie. We hope you finish this first issue as inspired as we are. And if you do, we encourage you to share the love, and pass the magazine on to another dog loving friend! Thanks for joining us!

Jodie & Sarah 4


lie Bil

PUBLISHER Calgary Dog Life Publications Volume 1 Issue 1 EDITORS & CREATIVE DIRECTORS Sarah Daloise Jodie Hebbard DESIGN Courtney Mueller Leah Pavlick CONTRIBUTORS WRITERS Nikki Dokken Jenny Graburn Kendra Hildebrand Lisa Hillyer Acara Kada Emily McInnis-Wharton Larry Neilson Christine Rachar Sheena Slobodian Paula Timm PHOTOGRAPHERS Amber Perry E/A Photography Inga Morozoff Photography Nayla Chamoun Photography Pascal Desjardins Photography Quantum Images Inc. SarahAnn Dog Photography PRINT Printcor Inc. Advertising Inquiries Email: Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @calgarydoglife

Contents copyright © 2016 by Calgary Dog Life Publications and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from Calgary Dog Life Publications. Calgary Dog Life Publications will not be responsible for any damages or losses as a result of the use of the reader and any information, opinions or products expressed, advertised, or otherwise stated.



The Hydrant

Local dog news

New Puppy in the Family? Did you know that hiring a Professional Dog Walker can offer your new family member much more than just a walk in the park? They also... 1. Offer socialization time and encourage good manners by introducing them to other wellmannered pooches. 2. Provide a much-needed pee break in the day that helps relieve the stress on puppy and parent. 3. Aid with leash and walk training. 4. Relieve some of the boredom and hyperactive behaviours that most puppies have. Barks’nRec Pet Services is fully insured and bonded, offering private and group walks to dogs of all sizes and breeds in South Calgary. Founder, Lindsay Smith, has also been DogSafe™ Certified (Canine First Aid / CPR).

Vacation Time!

Info to give your dog sitter before you leave town... 1. Note your dog’s special personality traits and any off limits areas to ensure house rules are maintained while you are away. 2. Does your home have any particular quirks? Provide your sitter with any specific instructions. 3. Relay your dog’s vet info. Also contact your vet clinic to let them know who your dog sitter is, and to arrange pre-payment in the case of an emergency. 4. Make a list of your dog’s allergies or medical concerns including medications and/or things to avoid. 5. Exchange contact information with your sitter so that both parties can easily stay in contact. Assured Home and Pet Care provides fully bonded and insured in-home pet sitters to Calgary, Cochrane, and the Bow Valley. Mention the promo code DogLife10 to receive a 10% discount on your next booking!



Doggy Doodles Calling all young artists!

Send us your dog drawings for a chance to be featured in one of our upcoming issues!

Subm it Dra Your w in g

“Chewie” Cole Farion - Age 8 Rules for Submissions: 1. Have your parents scan a copy of your artwork (file must be 1MB or larger). 2. Include your dog’s name, your name, and your age. 3. E-mail your submissions to

The journey of life is sweeter when traveled with a dog. - Bridget Willoughby



Check out the dogs...

Hanging Out in YYC Parks!

Barney Sue Higg ins

Hu d son Auburn Bay 8


Lily N ose Hill

Lucy Fish Creek

Henr y River Park

W hiskey Fish Cr eek

Tucker Auburn Bay

Ce dric Nose Hill

Stanley e East Villag

Manna South Glenmore

Mavis Edworthy

Ju de Nose Hill

Pongo Confluence Pa rk

Do lce N ose Hill

Co la Fish Creek

Want to see your pup in print? Rules for Submissions: 1. Take a close, well lit shot of your dog at the park. 2. Photo must be 1MB or larger (the largest file size your phone can send). 3. Include your dog’s name and the park name.

Jax Fish Creek

E-mail your submissions to 9


10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT FOSTERING Words by: Nikki Dokken Photos by: Inga Morozoff Photography Featuring adopted dogs from AARCS



ver the past decade, the practice of fostering dogs has grown in leaps and bounds. Thousands of rescued dogs make their way into foster homes in Calgary every year. More and more, we see traditional shelters also adopting the fostering approach to helping our dogs in need. Thinking about fostering a dog? Here are ten things you may not know about it...and ten great reasons why you should consider it! 10



By fostering you can help save hundreds of lives.


More foster homes mean more dogs rescued.

Most often, those who support adoption By allowing that one dog to be adopted, do so because they want companionship you have made room in the rescue system and want to make a difference in an for even more dogs in need. On average animal’s life. Adoption can be a 10- less than 50% of foster homes will be 15 year commitment, and most people open at any one time, so organizations have a limit on the number of animals require more foster homes than there they can adopt. But fostering allows you are dogs that require care. Just having to help an unlimited number of dogs a home available contributes to the over time, by bringing them into your overall rescue organization efforts. home temporarily until they transition into their adoptive home.


You can learn a lot about canine behaviour. Having dogs throughout your life means that you know those dogs specifically. However, the best way to increase your general understanding of canine behaviour is to spend time with a number of different dogs. One of the biggest challenges that dogs face today is that their guardians don’t fully understand animal body language and communication. Quite often people fail to recognize the warning signs of an uncomfortable dog, which can lead to the development of negative coping behaviours on both ends of the leash. By fostering, you can meet a large cross-section of personalities, breeds, and temperaments. This allows you to acquire advanced knowledge through direct experience.


Fostering results in quicker adoptions and better outcomes for dogs. Shelter environments can be stressful for dogs. Often shelter living produces a vicious cycle in which the longer a dog stays in one, the less adoptable they become. Well-organized foster based rescues have a dog return rate of 2-3%, as compared to the average shelter return rate of 8-10%. Many shelters are now turning to foster homes for their longer-term dogs, as it provides a less-stressful environment and increases their adoptability.



Fostering gives adopting families more knowledge. The adopting families get a much more accurate picture of a dog’s personality and needs when they see them living in a home environment. They can then feel more confident in their choice to adopt a specific dog into their family. This home environment also offers the dog a better chance at permanent adoption because foster parents set them up for success by teaching basic training and house manners. More importantly, a foster dog experiences how to feel loved and safe in a home setting.


It is an ideal beginning for a career in animal care. There are many people who get paid to take care of animals, and they have often gotten their start by volunteering. Jobs in animal care can be limited and competitive, and it is likely that you will need to have hands on experience with animals before you will receive a paid position. Fostering can be a great way to obtain this valuable experience and the knowledge that comes with it!

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You get the joy of seeing dogs transform. Often dogs come into rescue care scared and injured. In fact, almost every dog in a shelter or rescue organization has gone through some trauma in their life. It is not possible to put into words the absolute joy of witnessing a once fearful dog learn to trust, to experience play, and to feel safe. Fostering allows a person to witness a rescue dog’s transformation into a happy, healthy, and balanced dog.


You can expand your social circle. People who foster will often connect with other fosters to organize social walks and play dates, or to discuss victories and challenges they may be experiencing. In many cases, foster parents will also stay in contact with their foster dog’s adopters. People often meet lifelong friends or even significant others through this community. Dogs really do bring us together!

#9 You receive companionship even if you can’t commit! Many people don’t have the time to commit to lifelong dog guardianship for various reasons. Fostering is a great option for those who have fluctuating schedules, travel frequently, or are still settling down in life. You can have a dog for a month or two while you are available and then take a break when you need it. Also see #10!


There are many different types of fostering options. There are many different types of dogs that need foster homes. An organization can almost always find a dog to fit your home and lifestyle. At Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) we have foster homes exclusively for whelping, puppies, adult or senior dogs, special needs (medical or behaviour), temporary/respite, and everything in between. If you are a snowbird who’s gone all winter, you can sign up to only foster in the summer. If your job has you travelling frequently, you could be a temporary or respite foster. If you have a dog who does not like adult dogs, you can try puppy fostering. One is never obligated to take any dog, and can choose the ones that will work for you and your lifestyle. The goal is to create an environment that will set both you and the dog up for success!




Nikki Dokken is a Dog Program Manager for the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) in Calgary. Inga Morozoff is a Calgary based photographer. She has photographed over 800 animals for local animal rescues in an effort to help them find their forever homes. Visit for her full portfolio.

Contact your local rescue organization to see how you can get involved helping dogs in our community!

The DIY Dog

Leash Holder!

One of your dog’s favourite times of the day is definitely walk time! Avoid the hectic search for the leash by creating your own one-of-a-kind leash holder that will suit your home and your dog’s personality with this fun simple project.

Share your own dog projects!

By: Christine Rachar @ Boneties and Bling


What you’ll need: • • • •

• • •

1 piece of wood (we used cedar) cut to 22 inches Sandpaper 1 metal hook (for front leash hook) 1 mason jar and 1 hose clamp (if you would like to add a treat jar) Paint and decorating supplies 2 hooks (back wall hooks) Varnish

Christine Rachar is a DIY guru and the owner of Boneties and Bling. She creates unique accessories using recycled materials for posh pups around Calgary. Follow on Instagram @bonetiesandbling

How to: 1. Take your cut piece of wood and lightly sand down the edges to create a smooth surface. 2. Using your paints, create your design. We went very simple, but don’t be afraid to use your imagination to create something truly one of a kind. 3. Once your design has thoroughly dried, cover the surface with a clear coat varnish and let dry. 4. Attach the front metal hook, ensuring you have placed it exactly where you want it. 5. Take your two remaining hooks and attach to the back of your leash holder on each end so it can be secured to the wall. 6. If you have opted for the treat jar, attach your hose clamp onto the wood and carefully put your mason jar into the clamp and tighten with a screwdriver. 7. Hang and enjoy! 13


Kendra with her dogs Oliver and Millie

Inspired by Love

Heart SOULution’s creator Kendra Hildebrand talks about the inspiration for her innovative product and her dreams to provide comfort to dogs worldwide. Photos by: Nayla Chamoun Photography

Calgary Dog Life: Tell us a bit about yourself. Kendra Hildebrand: I was born in North Wales, and grew up in Kelowna BC. When I was a teenager, I made the move to Calgary and have been in this great city ever since. My many titles include: mother, wife, dog-mom, entrepreneur - and more recently, business school graduate!

fluffy. I remember finding a deceased bird in the playground when I was in grade two, and promptly spent my recess and lunch digging a burial hole to give that bird a proper send off. Not much has changed since then. I am still very sensitive and my heart still aches for the abandoned, sick, and broken whether they are animals or people.

CDL: When did your love affair with dogs start? KH: My love affair with animals began when I was very young. Dogs were my favourite, however I had a soft spot for anything

CDL: Tell us about your company Heart SOULution by Tulipiddy INC. KH: Heart SOULution designs and manufactures holistic



therapeutic textile products, all of which incorporate simulated heartbeat technology to help soothe and comfort your dog. Our most recent and popular product is the Penny Pouch, which is an ultra-soft, warm and cozy pouch-style blanket. The Penny Pouch can be used as a bed, mat, crate or throw blanket, and are for dogs who love to burrow or cuddle. Our signature denim mats are also very popular for calming puppies and active dogs. Our products are designed to ease anxiety and promote comfort. Thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides, vet appointments or unfamiliar situations are all common anxiety provoking events for many dogs. Realistic heartbeat pulsing has a dramatic calming effect on dogs as they are instinctively soothed when in the presence of another beating heart. The products can also provide comfort for dogs who are generally nervous, or who are experiencing a change in living arrangements such as in the case of newly homed rescue dogs and puppies. CDL: Where did the idea or inspiration come from to create this product? KH: In 2005, my son and I walked into a Calgary shelter and fell in love with a white ball of fluff named Sushi, a three year old bichon-cocker spaniel. She had been abused and was extremely timid, and had been living at the shelter nearly a year when we adopted her. She melted my heart and quite honestly, I wanted to be her hero. I thought my love would fix all of her problems. While having a stable loving home did help Sushi somewhat, she remained very fearful and anxious, hiding under the bed for much of those early days. We tried every anxiety reducing product on the market and sought medical treatments to help her. I was determined to find a solution – I knew something had to work. One day I was holding Sushi and I felt her body go into a state of complete relaxation. I realized that she was likely responding the way a baby would when picked up – feeling safe by our closeness and the sound of my own heartbeat. That’s when I began to think, “How do I mimic me?” I spent the next eight months researching even more products and pushing myself to think outside the box. During this time I connected with a small company that develops vibrational devices. I was looking for a device that would mimic a heartbeat as well as send off a mild vibration. I also needed this device to be mathematically formulated to match a dog’s heartbeat. The palpitation was a challenge to match in a device and it took a lot of communicating back and forth with the manufacturer to come up with the right formula. But we knew almost immediately when we discovered the proper beats because Sushi was able to relax when we placed the device safely in her crate with her. Success!



I dream of a world where people understood their gifts and purpose, and live them out to the fullest!

In the three months that followed, our signature denim mats were created and we have never looked back. Sushi’s life changed. She began to take on car rides, vet checkups, and grooming appointments; things that up until that point were not possible without extreme anxiety. Most importantly, hiding under the bed was a thing of the past. When friends and family heard about my creation, they were curious if it would help their dogs as well. I began to receive requests for the product, and I happily sent some samples out. All the feedback that came back to me was extremely positive. One comment that stood out for me was when a friend enthusiastically said, “This is amazing! Think of all the dogs this could help!” This comment fuelled me. I knew I couldn’t physically help every dog in the world, but I could certainly make a product that could help be a part of that change. CDL: What does the future hold for Heart SOULution? KH: My vision is big! Sushi inspired a product that would become a source of comfort for many dogs. My goal is that this becomes millions of dogs. We will accomplish this by having all of our products available for retail sales, and by supporting animal shelters with product and financial donations. Our long-term vision is to provide all humane shelters with at least one of our products.



Our products have not only been successful with dogs, but with people as well - from newborns to seniors. We are currently in development with our human product line and will be launching that in the spring of 2017.

CDL: Thoughts on the past seven years? KH: Over the past few years I have discovered that a business is an extension of who you are, and that my products are an absolute extension of who I am – heart centered and compassionate. I am grateful that I was able to see my sensitive nature as a strength that I could tap into and create from. Though Sushi passed in 2014, I am grateful that she brought this experience to me. I thought I would be her hero, but as it turns out, she was actually mine. My heart is in these products. I may not be able to change the world, but through them, I can literally share my heart with millions of dogs, people and pets. For more information on Kendra Hildebrand and all the Heart SOULution products, visit her site at Nayla Chamoun is a pet and people photographer based in Calgary. Her goal is to capture in pictures the beauty of the bond we share with our pets. To view her work visit




Why your dog is in


Eight words to describe what your dog means to you!


Wet noses and sloppy kisses that never stop.


He’s so loyal and always there for me.

– Kristina

Teddy & Atlas

My best friends - love without conditions or circumstances. – Dorothy 18


– Chuck Follow us on social media and post your own photo with the hashtag #greatin8!

ELI Eight words to define pure love is impossible.

– Anne


Always wags her tail when she greets me. – Linda


Always having a best friend to cuddle with.

– Cole


Cash & Aiden

– Cathie

My boys mean family to me. Unconditional love.

Loves me as much as I love him.


– Whitney

Playing tug of war and going for walks. – Reid 19


Straja with her dogs Twillow Rose and Tala Rain 20 CALGARY DOG LIFE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1

When Passion Meets Purpose Inspiring people to cultivate change


Words by: Jodie Hebbard Photos by: Pascal Desjardins Photography

traja Linder King is an inspiration who forged her path combining her two passions: dogs and art. Her journey began when she was a Fine Arts student at UBC in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While living in Vancouver, she and her husband adopted their very first puppy, a German Shepherd named Kuzel. During this time, Straja also spent time volunteering as an Art Therapist at a hospice facility where she made a habit of bringing Kuzel along with her. As time went on, she would show up each week and the patients who were ambulatory, would all be lined up at the front door waiting. Not for her, not for the art supplies, but to see her tail wagging partner Kuzel. She recognized immediately the connection Kuzel had with the patients and the positive impact he was having on their emotional wellbeing.

her thesis, the director at the University asked her if she was crazy. But sensing her passion and in-depth knowledge on the subject she gave her the green light, provided she could back it up with research. At the time, Animal-Assisted Therapy was considered New Age by many professionals and was not widely understood in the medical community. The U.S. was also considered much more progressive than Canada when it came to exploring what was then referred to as Alternative or Complementary Therapies.

That wasn’t the last time Straja was turned down for her ideas. For over 13 years, it took a strong belief in the amazing benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy to keep her going. During this time she recounts feeling as though she was “in the middle of a 40 lane expressway going the opposite way and dodging everybody so I didn’t get crushed.” Keeping true to her passion, Straja never gave up on what she knew would be instrumental in the world of therapy and the support that the animals could provide.

Straja recounts her first legitimate in-service in 1997 after returning to Calgary from her research studies in

“There were these vestibules of hope that kept me going,” Straja says of the requests to do various presentations on

Pennsylvania. Sitting in a room full of medical doctors and psychosocial specialists to present her thesis and case study, she recalls that “it was like looking around a table of perplexed puppies.”

Animal-Assisted Therapy. She began to speak at provincial and national conferences and hold numerous workshops at local schools, hospices, universities, and agencies within Alberta

While volunteering at the hospice, Straja herself experienced an unexpected personal loss and Kuzel played a significant role in helping her navigate through the grief. As Straja recalls fondly, “that dog reached me where no professional could.” Straja knew that the human-animal bond runs deep, having ancestral connections that predate even verbal communication. So after receiving her degrees, Straja went to Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania to pursue her research in Animal-Assisted Art Therapies. When she first presented the idea of adding Animal-Assisted Therapy to



and then I let them do their work. Before there is any touch or engagement with the dogs, a person’s whole affect shifts merely by their presence. When they see the dogs, an instant softening occurs and often a smile occurs as well.”

Health Services. These engagements and events were enough to stoke her fires and let her know that she was on the right path.

She believed in her work, and she believed in the dogs.

There were other bookends, as Straja calls it, that also provided her reassurance along the way. After her case study presentation, she was followed into the hall by one of the doctors.

Today Straja and her second generation of Certified Therapy dogs named Twillow Rose and Tala Rain can be found offering their services throughout the city and province.

“Straja, you’re so far ahead, that you have to remember where you are geographically.” he said.

The trio works in a variety of settings performing emotional support such as grief counseling, stroke recovery, and hospice care. The dogs can also be found lending their services in senior extended care facilities, pet loss support groups, and shelters such as The Mustard Seed. Most recently they were invited to present at the national conference of the Canadian Art Therapy Association held in Halifax, Nova Scotia and presented together at the provincial Palliative Care conference held at the University of Calgary. Twillow has done ceremonies and celebrant work as well, and was recently requested to attend an end of life ceremony. With over 100 people in attendance, Twillow still had enough love to comfort everyone.

Another local palliative doctor pulled her aside in the hospital. “Stay focused,” he assured her. “You’re on frontier ground. It will come.” And her first client referral did come - from a doctor in Okotoks who truly believed in the efficacy of Animal-Assisted Therapy long before neuroscience added the necessary findings to give the profession validity and credibility. Those supportive words stayed with Straja over the years. “Never did I get bitter” Straja says all these years later. “It made the drive in me even more, to see how I could get this innovative work out to those who would benefit from it the most.”



The work that the therapy dogs can do is incredibly versatile depending on the patient’s needs. “The dogs know innately what is necessary and simply do what they need to do,” Straja explains. “I can just go in to ensure their safety

Straja went on to explain how humans and animals have co-evolved, and how animals have never left our side; that we are the ones who have segregated ourselves from their company. She believes that now we are shifting back to knowing that animals are social beings like us and that we are meant to be together. It is this connection that lays the framework for patients to have incredible breakthroughs emotionally, physically, and spiritually through their work with the dogs. When asked what the dogs have most taught her through her journey, Straja paused before eloquently stating: “It’s about being fully present. Animals make us better human beings by bringing us together. They foster community spirit and one only has to witness a therapy dog in a room full of strangers; within minutes, the conversation is flowing through smiles of joviality. Dogs teach us that all we have is right now.” Straja Linder King received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Baroque Art History. She is also Board Certified with a Master of Arts in Art Therapy and is a Registered Art Therapist. For more information on her services, visit her website at Pascal Desjardins is a family and wedding photographer in Calgary. With over 20 years experience he has an eye for finding something unique in every shoot and is always creating something new. Visit

DOG FRIENDLY We've been on the lookout for some of YYC's dog-friendliest businesses! If you’re looking for some new ideas of things to do with your furry companion, check out these five local businesses. #1 Looking for something a little social? Visit Ranchman’s

Patio – from early May until the end of patio season, bring your pup with you to the Ranchman’s Patio for Yappy Hour. From Tuesday to Saturday 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, you can bring your dog to hang with you while you enjoy a meal and a cold bevvy.

#2 Book your next tee time with your dog! At Woodside

Golf Course in Airdrie, every Sunday starting at 4:00 pm, dogs are invited to join their human companions for a round of golf. They offer a few incentives to help the dogs feel welcome too, including milk bones on the beverage cart and water dishes at a few of the holes. Guests are also invited to bring their dogs to their patio to unwind, or to just relax before or after the round.

#3 Feeling a little artsy? Latitude Art Gallery invites you to bring your pup with you while you view the local artwork.

#4 Stop and smell the roses! At Sunnyside Garden Centre

customers are always welcome to bring their dogs into the store while they shop! As with any dog-friendly establishment, it’s our “duty” to clean up after our pets. Hey, accidents happen!

#5 A little window shopping or sniffing perhaps? Bass Pro

Shops front door greeters offer our fur friends treats when they arrive! Customers can also visit their annual “Dog Days” event each spring, which features various dog demos, microchipping, workshops, giveaways, and all sorts of other fun dog related stuff. 23


Planning for Puppy Considering a Puppy? Here are 5 things to ponder! Words by: Larry Neilson

Getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting times in life and one of the biggest decisions that you can make. By asking yourself some simple questions and doing a little research ahead of time, you will be setting your family and your new addition up for success.



1. Has the family been involved in the decision-making process? It is very important to have total family involvement when discussing bringing a new puppy into your home. Although the parents or head of the household will likely have the last say, by involving everyone, the choice and adoption process will be a united family decision and joint responsibility from the outset. Every family member should be a part of these discussions in proportion to their age and responsibilities.

2. What type of dog is best suited to our family? It is tremendously important to conduct open, honest, and transparent discussions about the type of puppy. Some considerations to look into are: size, temperament, lifespan, cost, availability, breed health issues (if any), housing, and individual responsibilities. One of the first things to take into account is your home environment. Is your home large or small? Is it a high-rise apartment, condo, a house in the suburbs, or a sprawling ranch out in the country? It is likely that the home you now live in will be your home for the foreseeable future. Whatever you decide upon, it should be a dog that is an appropriate match for your environment and living situation. Once you have reached a consensus on the size of dog that is right for your current living arrangement and lifestyle, you will then want to consider which of the following qualities are the most appropriate and important for your family: • • • • •

Long or short hair Shedding or non-shedding Male or female Purebred, mixed breed, adopted Activity level (consider the group of dog such as sporting, working, terrier, toy, hound or herding)

3. What are our schedules and lifestyles like?

5. How much time will I need to train my puppy?

When considering the addition of a puppy, the consequences are long-lasting, usually ten years or more. You will want to consider your work schedules and travel habits and be aware of how much time your dog will be left alone. Are you expecting a new baby or is one or more of the family members going away in the near future? What other pets do you have and how will this impact them? It is also important to investigate if any member of your family has an allergy to dogs.

Puppies need training and it is important to set up the expectations for them early on. House training may be the most time-consuming of all the training you will do with your puppy. It will require that you be able to take them out for regular bathroom breaks for the first few weeks that you have them. A good rule of thumb to use is that a puppy can to “hold it” approximately two hours for each one month of his age. This will hold true up to approximately eight hours. It is best if possible, that during the first 2–3 weeks of bringing your puppy home, that either someone be home with him, or that you arrange to have him let out at least one time during the day.

Before you take me home, please understand that I am a forever dog. 4. What costs are associated and can I afford it? There is a wide range of costs associated with having a puppy and ultimately an adult dog that you might not be aware of. A puppy’s first year expenses can average between $2-3,000 and include: • • • • • • • •

Initial adoption City license Spay or neuter Vaccinations, vet check-ups, and pet insurance Initial supplies - crates, toys, leashes Training classes Doggy daycare and possible kennelling while on vacation Food and supplements

Puppy classes are highly recommended to ensure you have all the tools to teach them good canine etiquette. With the right knowledge, your positive training practices can then be accomplished in as little as 15–20 minutes per day.

. . .

A large number of pet owners will get a puppy only to find out that they simply are not suited for that particular type of dog, or that their lifestyle is not conducive to dog ownership. Taking time to consider these questions will help you look at your lifestyle more objectively and you will set yourself up to enjoy a lifetime of great memories with your new addition! Larry Neilson is the owner of Konfident Kanines Inc., where an effective balance of kindness, skill, and experience equates to a balanced training philosophy. Visit for more information.



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Artwork by: Paula Timm 26



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Healing With Perry Local artist Paula Timm recounts her story of love, healing, and an unexpected bond with her rescue dog, Perry. Words by: Paula Timm I have always felt connected to animals, especially dogs. As a girl growing up with two older brothers, I was thrilled to have a playmate of my own - a dog named Lady. As it turns out, there was a big gap in having my next dog after Lady. 20 years later my boyfriend, soon to be husband, and I got a Doberman. We named her Kayla and did what we thought was all the right stuff for fostering healthy doghuman relationships. Kayla bonded very well with both of us, spending the days with her papa at his job, and the evenings with cuddles and playtime at home. She had a perfect life! Soon after we got Kayla, I developed two autoimmune diseases: ulcerative colitis and Celiac disease. Kayla was a year old when she also started to show symptoms of irritable bowel and gluten sensitivity. When she was stressed, so were her bowels; when I was stressed, so were my bowels. It was in Kayla’s tenth year when my health took a severe turn for the worse. I ended up in the hospital. The surgery took a tragic turn with a laparoscopic error, and I fought to stay alive. A month later, I came home - without my colon. My extended stay in the hospital wasn’t easy on any of us. My spouse balanced work, Kayla’s care, and nightly visits to me at the hospital. I remember coming home from the hospital, and upon laying eyes on each other, Kayla and I both started to cry. Much like me, she was a sensitive girl. And even more like me, she was eager to please; she played hard and loved big. Needless to say it was a difficult recovery for all of us, but Kayla was great company at my side while

I healed at home during those ensuing months. It wasn’t news to any of us that she was aging, moving slower, and looking older. She had turned eleven years old just a few months after my surgery. I whispered in her ear, “Just give us one more year.” And she did, almost to the very day.

W e loved her so much; she was our girl. Grateful were we that she came into our lives. We were even more grateful that she was so keenly aware of how much we needed her. We cried for weeks after she passed. I was still off work, healing and getting stronger, but the quiet in the house was deafening. I was ready for a distraction so I sought out a dog rescue and donated my time to walking dogs and cleaning kennels a few days a week. My husband and I provided respite to foster dog families, taking their pooches

for weekends or overnight stays. It was a good compromise as we were not sure if and when we would get another fur baby. It was a perfect way of spending time with dogs without ownership. Of course, I wanted to adopt every single one of them. One afternoon, I received a desperate call from the foster agency: a dog needed a longer term, no pet home immediately. I recognized this dog - I had seen her adoption profile the previous fall when I was scouting for Kayla’s potential sidekick. I recalled having fallen in love with her pug face, goofy smile, and one floppy ear. Perro was her name. At the time, her profile had been removed and my chance at adopting her had passed until now. I was curious as to why she had come up for adoption again, and was now living in foster care. What I knew about Perro: she was a two year old, pugdachshund cross who had been transported from Mexico to Calgary as a 12 week old puppy. Two years later she was surrendered to the agency by her adopting family and she had lived in multiple foster homes for the past seven months. The foster home she was at would be great for most dogs, but for Perro it was her worst nightmare, as it was a home with several dogs and cats. I was perplexed as to why or how someone would relinquish a dog back to the shelter, and I tried hard to stay out of judgment. I came to understand Perro’s history by way of her veterinarian. Aggression and anxiety had been problems that her initial family in Calgary felt they could not overcome. The family had tried medications and training, but it didn’t 27


help. Perro was physically harming her kennel mate, and any social gatherings in the house would provoke anxiety for her. The family did the best that they could, but ultimately felt that they had no option but to surrender Perro back to the shelter. Sideswiped with her high needs situation, my emotions overruled logic and I forged on. We decided to foster Perro - I thought I could fix her. Little did I know that, although I might succeed in helping her, it wasn’t going to be all about her rescue, but mine as well. Perro and I headed to dog rehab for wayward puppies. As soon as she saw the other dogs in the class, Perro was in full-on reaction mode. I found myself having similar panicked reactions. I cried, panicked, and began sweating bullets at the enormity of the fostering commitment I had just walked into. Shortly after, the rescue agency placed a sale on dogs that had been in their system too long. Perro was on that list. I was outraged. I didn’t feel it was fair to either Perro or her future adopting human. Having not fully decided that we were going to adopt another dog, let alone Perro, I thought I had more time to make that decision. Her rehab was going well, but she too, needed more time. She was stressed to the max. Allowing her to be relocated to yet another home with potential triggers for more unsafe and harming behaviors seemed cruel and dangerous. I feared that the wrong placement would see her injure another dog, and quite possibly trigger her own demise. I sought counsel with a respected local dog trainer, who did not sugar coat her assessment of our situation. “Perro has high needs: prey drive, guarding, aggression, reactivity, and anxiety issues,” the trainer told me, “with the potential for more issues yet to be revealed. Perro can probably be rehabilitated, but she may never be as ‘normal’ as you might want her to be. The rewards and love you will have will be immeasurable and surely worth it - if you can stick with it.” That was a challenge and a reality check all at once. I am not a quitter, and having just survived a near fatal surgery, I wasn’t going to let a 15 pound fur-ball defeat me. So we adopted Perro, and started



daily training sessions. I renamed her Perry-Como and eventually shortened it to Perry. Perry was a sensitive dog, much like Kayla had been. She had confidence issues, coupled with misunderstood anxiety. She presented as an adorable puppylike dog and I could see how her issues could be perceived as personality quirks, and had kept her from being directed toward meaningful interventions earlier on in her life. As Perry had grown, so had her untreated anxieties. This left her in constant survival mode; she didn’t know any other way to be. Looking back I could see that I, too, was good at fooling others into believing something other than what they saw. By masking my issues with my super coping strategies, I allowed my own untreated anxieties and fears to grow. Though I was able to put up a better “social front” than Perry, I was chronically stressed and reactive

“I thought I could fix her.” too. My anxiety left me in constant survival mode; I too didn’t know any other way to be. It was a perfect storm for illness. The following two years were met with weekly reactive dog classes and a lot of compassion for her as she found the way to peace in her newly learned behaviors. During those two years, I was not ready to seek my own mental health therapy. I knew someday that I would, however I felt I could only focus on my body’s physical therapy. Perry’s plight had helped me to stay motivated and to keep going forward. She needed me to take her on walks, to attend class, and to apply our learning in our everyday life. That was the physical therapy that my body needed and wanted. Whether I knew

it or not, my mind was also healing through the therapy that I was seeking on her behalf. In recognizing some of Perry’s issues, I was finally beginning to see some of my own. I came to realize that I had been explosive, impulsive, and erratically emotional. I was still reeling from the effects of a traumatic surgery, and the narcotic and corticosteroid withdrawal. I needed help. I called the mental health hotline and was sent to an acute care mental health clinic. For one year I attended weekly sessions where, just like Perry, I learned about my anxiety behaviors. I was a experiencing a classic case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the second year of therapy, we started to peel back the onion layers for each one of my triggers. So Perry and I each had two years of intense therapy. We are heading into our fifth year together and are both stronger than ever. I respect how hard we have had to work: to stand in the face of fear and to trust that we will not die. Like her, I don’t always believe that the scary monster is not going to kill me. We have good days and bad days. The best part of therapy for us is that there is no defined end date. We

continue to test the limits of our fears and broaden our perspective of living our l i f e with joyful creative expression. We are both works in progress. Perry is doing substantially better. Her problematic behaviors are negligible

now, and she is a lovely addition to my life. We still have more to accomplish in her rehabilitation, but the wins are so incredibly worthwhile. She may always need assistance around big triggers such as proximity to other dogs, cats, humans or prey, but Perry now knows what it is like to feel relaxed and confident most of the time. She has learned how to play and she loves learning itself. As for me, I am still in PTSD therapy. I am unraveling a lifetime of suppressed emotions, learning how to respond compassionately, and guiding both myself and Perry to a place where we feel safe, supported, and unconditionally loved. Since my surgery, my life has been full of new beginnings, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to try again. Whether you believe that Perry found me or that I found Perry, that I rescued her or she rescued me, we both needed each other. All I could see when I met Perry was that she needed someone to help her, and I didn’t trust that anyone else was willing or capable of seeing her through it. Perhaps I was just looking in the mirror. Paula Timm is an artist and visual storyteller based in Calgary. She is also an art instructor with a mission to bring art to those with barriers. Visit for information on her work and upcoming classes.



the fine art of dogs A collection of some of Calgary’s amazing dog photographers and artists. Getting a custom portrait or photography session of your dog is one of the best ways to celebrate how much they mean to you, and will help you keep connected to the memories that you shared long after they are gone.

Pencil Marks





Jose with his guide dog Leo



New Beginnings How Jose Neto turned tragedy into a new beginning. Words by: Emily McInnis-Wharton Photos by: SarahAnn Dog Photography


he story of Jose Neto is one that you might expect to see in a Hollywood film. It is a story of tragedy, hope, and triumph that has touched the hearts of many Calgarians.

Six months after the initial application for the guide dog, Jose was accepted for training at the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides in Oakville, Ontario, where he spent four weeks learning to live and work as part of a guide dog team.

On a September evening in 2008, while enjoying a leisurely stroll through Calgary’s Chinatown with his girlfriend Roberta, Jose’s life was unexpectedly changed forever. By a stroke of misfortune, he was struck by a stray bullet from a nearby altercation. He was left permanently blind.

Upon his arrival at the training facility in Oakville, Jose realized that the program was as much about training him as it was about training the dogs. For the first week of the program the new handlers worked without dogs, allowing the trainers an opportunity to determine the best match for each team.

At the time of the shooting Jose was a talented 24-year-old business student who had travelled to Canada from Brazil to further his education and sharpen his English skills. He had his whole life ahead of him with endless dreams and possibilities.

Although Jose had grown up around dogs, the process of handling a working dog was an entirely new concept to him. It didn’t take him long to realize that there was only one way through the program: to surrender completely. Jose would have to trust in a new relationship that could not be built with a moment’s notice. It would only be through rigorous trial and error; an emotional thrill ride that would ultimately be a unique bonding experience between Jose and a dog that he was just getting to know.

Following the shooting, rather than being overcome with anger and resentment for what he had lost, Jose shocked the public when he showed optimism and gratitude for the second chance he had been given. He has spoken publicly over the years about his love towards the Calgarians who had not only come to his aid after the accident, but who still to this day offer kindness and compassion for what he went through. Originally Jose and Roberta had intended to spend only a year in Canada. It was near the end of their visit when the tragedy occurred, turning all of their plans upside down. Despite this, the couple’s love for Canada and the support of the Calgarians around them cemented their decision to stay, and in December 2014 they became Canadian citizens. It was roughly two years after the accident that the idea of applying for a guide dog was brought to Jose. By then he had enough time to get used to his new reality and was motivated to regain some of his independence. “Not being attached to a person would be awesome. Just being myself, going to the mall, and walking on my own,” Jose said.

It was within the first few days of the program that Jose was introduced to Leo, a one-and-a-half year old Golden Retriever. “When you go to the school of guide dogs, you don’t get to know what dog you’re taking for three or four days. They just tease you around,” Jose reminisced with a smile. Over the first few days the handlers would spend time in a courtyard with all of the dogs, not knowing which would be their future partner. The first couple of times that Jose and his class visited the courtyard Leo glued himself to Jose’s side. “All the pictures we took there, not knowing, Leo is right by my side.” Over the course of the four-week training program Jose began to learn the realities of working with a guide dog. Like most of us who have never worked directly with a guide dog before, he had no idea what they were capable of.



“ The training program opted for a hands-on graduation test, leaving the newly trained teams of two alone in downtown Oakville and having them navigate back to the training facility. True to form, Jose’s tenacity proved successful. “We did it well,” he said with an uneasy laugh, “but it was so nerve-wracking!” Graduation did not mark the end of the learning process for Jose and Leo, and it took over a year for the two to solidify their bond with one another. “When you come home it’s a different story,” he said. “It’s another process of learning to be with just you and the dog.” The lack of bonding within a new guide dog team can sometimes cause the dog to be indifferent to the commands of their new, unproven master. Jose recalled one of these more uncomfortable instances of Leo’s defiance when, instead of crossing the street, he walked Jose diagonally through the middle of a four-way stop. But throughout the training and bonding process, Jose relied a lot on his own determination and trust to ensure that he didn’t let these setbacks deter him from working with Leo. “You have to trust,” said Jose. “You have to keep going. If something happened, it happened, but you really have to keep going and trust. And that’s the big thing about being blind. It’s really trusting yourself and your senses, and trusting the people around you. Trusting that people are giving you the right change, because you have no choice. You either do that, or you don’t live.” Fortunately, Leo’s risky behaviour was short-lived and the pair eventually found their stride together. “I noticed that one day Leo just clicked, and he just did everything he was supposed to do,” said Jose. After having achieved that dependable bond, Leo’s capabilities have never ceased to impress Jose. Having Leo help with everyday things such as finding doors, stairs, elevators, and



I noticed that one day Leo just clicked, and he just did everything he was supposed to do.

even the bus stop, is of immeasurable benefit to Jose. “If you go to, say, the Superstore, that’s huge. If you say ‘find the door,’ he’ll cross that parking lot right to the door,” Jose said, with complete admiration for Leo’s capabilities. Leo has also been able to adapt to Jose’s specific needs. Time and time again, Jose would hit his shoulder on the side mirrors of large trucks while walking between vehicles. He had assumed that Leo couldn’t protect him because he was too low to see the mirrors. This continued until one day Jose suffered an especially hard knock to his shoulder and he made a point of showing Leo what had happened. Since that day Leo has never let him walk into another mirror again. This was just another sign to Jose of Leo’s incredible capabilities to immediately adjust in order to keep them safe. In August 2015 Jose and his now wife, Roberta, welcomed their first child: a daughter named Lis. The independence that Leo allows Jose lends itself well in supporting him to be a parent. “We will see it in the future,” Jose predicts of Leo’s impact on his daughter’s life. “Her day home will be close by and I’ll need to go and grab her and he will take me there. So then he will start helping me as a parent more.” But in the meantime, Leo’s presence is a great help to Roberta, allowing her and Jose some freedom so she can focus on Lis when they are out and about in the city. While other hurdles have been overcome, the most persistent obstacle for Jose and Leo remains the general public’s lack of education regarding guide dogs. Jose asserts that one of the most important rules of etiquette when meeting a guide dog is that they are working dogs and should not be pet. The bonding process between dog and handler can take some time and some dogs can be sensitive to interferences. Petting a working dog

can cause a distraction that can put the handler in harm’s way. Other distractions include asking the dog’s name or making direct eye contact with them. Another misconception is that guide dogs are not treated like members of the family. However, in their off-duty hours, they are given just as much love as the standard spoiled pooch. For Leo, cuddles are a regular occurrence. Jose was quick to note that in training, the new handlers were also counselled to give their dogs more than enough affection so that they would never need to seek it from anyone else.


In September of 2015, Jose and Leo received the ultimate of Calgarian honours when they, along with four other guide dog teams, were commended in a special White Hat ceremony during the second annual Working Dogs Day in Calgary. The White Hat was given to Jose both as recognition of his unbreakable spirit in the face of adversity, as well as for his continued contribution to the city of Calgary. Jose and Leo’s story is a reminder to us all that with a little trust, some compassion, and a lot of love, new beginnings are always possible. Jose Neto is now a registered massage therapist and owns his own clinic in South East Calgary (Cure Massage). His motto is; “In essence my hands have taken on what my eyes have lost.” Visit Emily McInnis-Wharton is about to begin her second year in the Journalism Program at SAIT. She is passionate about writing and photography, and of course dogs!

5 Common Guide Dog Myths Here are some key things to consider when you see a guide dog!

1. Myth: Guide dogs are always working Truth: They have plenty of play time and act like regular ol’ dogs when they are not on the job.

2. Myth: Guide dogs love to say hi to other dogs anytime Truth: Most do love the company of other dog’s, but only when they are off duty.

3. Myth: Guide dogs never get distracted Truth: Even though they are well trained, guide dogs are still dogs and can get distracted from their task.

4. Myth: Guide dogs walk on both sides / interchangeable Truth: Guide dogs are typically trained to only walk on the left side of their handler.

5. Myth: It’s ok to say hello to a guide dog Truth: Saying hello can be a major distraction to a guide dog and can put both the dog and the handler in harm’s way so it’s best to save the greetings for non-working dogs. 35


YYC Dogs of Instagram Our Instagram accounts have gone to the dogs. Check out these 5 famous YYC Dogs!

Coco is a red Shih Tzu, known by many hoomans as a cat-dog. She sometimes acts like a cat and is independent and hides away. Other times she is full on dog and loves to play fetch and race with her hoomans, along with doing ZOOMIES.

Luna was rescued from Santa Barbara, California. Her favourite things to do are hiking the Canadian Rocky Mountains, eating bully sticks, playing with her puppy friends, and snuggling up with her humans. This summer you can find her camping and hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park.

“Hi I’ve just met you, and I love you!!!” This is how Simba typically reacts when he meets someone for the first time. Cuddles, puppy kisses, belly rubs, socks, and sticks are the purpose of his life. He also loves his day job as a guard dog by the window.

Robin is stoked on life! He is busy living life as a tripawd to the fullest - playing with his puppy friends and handing out slobbery kisses to anyone who walks by. He is a champion snorer and total bed hog.

Luna is a happy-go-lucky AARCS rescue dog. She does trials in weight pull, dock dogs, and barn hunt. She has her champion trick dog title and canine good neighbour certificate. She is training to trial in lure coursing, rally obedience, and agility. We love to prove that all breeds can be trained well!



My sniffing is how I read the newspaper. It’s my Facebook newsfeed. My chance to check out the local posts on my version of Instagram. So before we race back home, can I sniff one more spot? Can I piddle once more on that pole? Can I check out that last little flower? You call it lollygagging. I call it catching up! 37


Insuring Our Bond


ar en an dh er dog Tit an

Calgary native Karen Belanger turns her passion for animals into an amazing career and makes a difference for thousands of dogs in Calgary and beyond. Words by: Sarah Daloise Photos by: E/A Photography 38


Born and raised in Calgary, Karen Belanger has been a pet-loving entrepreneur for as long as she can remember. As a child, her world was shared with animals of many different species, and Karen always knew that when she grew up her life would involve caring for animals. In fact, in her youth Karen was kind of a big deal in the dog world. At the ripe old age of eleven, Karen and two friends founded “Woof and Co.” – a pet-finding service specializing in locating lost pets in their local Calgary neighbourhoods, and returning them home. This was not just haphazardly returning an occasional stray dog to its guardian. These young kids had a database of the local neighbourhood pets and even carried homemade business cards. Often the team would receive cash rewards for the return of a lost pet, and would donate half the money to the SPCA. The other half would go to salaries and business expenses - a business model that benefitted those critters at the shelter pretty nicely. They were on a mission fueled by animal love, community service, and an entrepreneurial spirit!

as a receptionist in a northeast vet clinic. Although she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do with her life at the time, animals still had her heart. While working in the veterinary industry, Karen was taken aback at the amount of pet owners who could not afford medical treatments beyond the basic exams and vaccinations. Many pet-loving folks didn’t have the means to pay for extensive, costly emergency medical surgeries or treatments. She was confronted with dogs and cats being euthanized when their guardian could not afford medical care – even young pets with an otherwise full and healthy life ahead of them. Unfortunately, ‘financial euthanasia’ still exists. Karen described for me an event that would be the catalyst for her career in the pet insurance industry. A young beautiful white cat was brought into the clinic and diagnosed with urinary issues. Although the condition could be corrected with surgery, the family could not afford the estimated $1,000 cost for the procedure. Karen still remembers her own emotions as she watched the parents and two children cry – all of them in obvious emotional agony over the seemingly choiceless situation. The cat was euthanized. The family was heartbroken and so was Karen. Years later, as I speak to her now, tears still well up in her eyes.

“I want all dogs to be insured. I want all dogs to live a happy and healthy life.”

As business grew, the trio gained notoriety through media coverage including an article in Pets Magazine (1988), a feature on Midday television, and a cameo on CBC Radio. They also had their mugs on the front page of the Calgary Herald. Quite an impressive list for this group of young ambitious friends! Luckily for the dogs, not much has changed for Karen. She still loves animals and she is still making a difference for them, every day. After high school, she moved to Victoria, BC and worked at a vet hospital as she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in biology. Returning to Calgary in 2001, Karen landed a job

“It is one of the worst things about working in the vet industry that not a lot of people understand. I would take that home with me every night,” Karen recalled with a heavy heart. “I thought to myself if they only had pet insurance then we wouldn’t be going through any of this. It really struck a chord with me.” At the same time, Karen kept thinking

about an insurance company she had learned about while working in BC called Vet Insurance - later to be renamed Trupanion. She felt aligned with the company’s mission and values, and was drawn to contact them directly. True to her confident entrepreneurial roots she picked up the phone, called Trupanion, and asked to speak with the president himself. A few months later in 2003, she borrowed money to fly to BC to meet him. Shortly thereafter, at the age of 25, Karen became the first territory partner with the company.

Freedom lies in being bold. – Robert Frost Over the past 13 years Karen has worked tirelessly, providing education and information to the veterinary medical community at large, so they can then have open discussions about insurance with pet guardians. The cost of care in veterinary medicine can be a murky area from a consumer perspective, and can be shocking to people who are already reeling with the unexpected illness of their pet. The concept of pet insurance was not common in those initial years when Karen first started working with Trupanion. The word “insurance” itself does not conjure up warm, fuzzy thoughts for most of us - it can be an uneasy topic for many people. While there was a bit of push-back in the beginning, over time the veterinary community began to see the benefits that insurance had for both pet guardians and themselves. The most obvious and crucial benefit is that an animal does not have to be euthanized because of a lack of financial resources. Another huge benefit is the decrease of emotional turmoil for both the guardians and clinic staff. Fear, guilt, sadness, anger, and shame are all daunting emotions that no one would intentionally choose to endure. “I know I am helping to strengthen the human-animal bond as well because people are able to do what’s best for the pet, regardless of finances,” Karen says



of both guardians and veterinarians. “Knowing that I am making a difference in pets’ lives and pet owners’ lives - that’s what drives me to do what I do.” The seeds of her hard work have been watered by her passion for helping animals, and 13 years after starting with Trupanion, Karen’s territory has now expanded to include Calgary and Edmonton. Inspired to follow her lead, her husband Chris also became a territory partner in 2008 and together they continue to work towards a vision of all pets being insured. They have recently moved to Victoria as they work to expand their business to include Vancouver Island. While there are now many companies that sell pet insurance, as one of the first in our province to actively promote it and provide education, Karen has no doubt singlehandedly made a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the dogs (and animals) who call Alberta home. She has changed the lives of countless dogs in Calgary by allowing guardians to pay for the best veterinary care when they need it. As Karen so simply puts it now, “I am not selling anything – I am really just sharing something that I am passionate about. I love what I do.”

Coming full circle In a way, Karen is still bringing people’s pets home all these years later. And these days her inspiration is as close as her inbox, where e-mails of large paid insurance claims are a constant reminder that she has made a difference in the life of yet another animal. Other inspiration comes to her directly from customers. A memorable moment was when a Calgary woman had a $40,000 claim and called Karen to thank her and the company for the policy coverage. She likely would have re-mortgaged her home to pay for the extensive treatments her dog required, but thankfully she did not need to take such drastic measures. A common theme of gratitude prevails in the comments 40


that Karen receives from her customers. It was inspiring to note that Karen didn’t actually have an exact plan of how her life would involve caring for animals. And it is likely that she would not have foreseen this career if you had asked her back in the “Woof and Co.” days. Like many of us, Karen was just passionate about making the world a better place for animals. It is nice to know that we don’t always have to know how we will make a difference, we just need to have the courage to follow our own hearts. In memory of that beautiful white cat and his family from many years ago: all was not lost. Karen now resides in Victoria, BC with her husband Chris and their furchildren. Karen is also co-founder of the Malawi Water Project – a non-profit project that prevents water born disease and illness in Africa. To learn more about the project visit To learn more about Trupanion and the coverage they provide visit Emmy McMillan of E/A Photography is a portrait and wedding photographer on Vancouver Island. With a focus on real moments and memories she loves including four-legged family members in her portrait sessions. Visit for more information.

9 Things You Never Knew About Your Dog Walker

Dog Walkers...

Words by: Acara Kada & Jenny Graburn


Text you more love notes and photos of your dog than they text message their own spouse.


Pick up around 30lbs of poop per week which is about 80% of their job.


Wipe around 80 paws a day when the weather creates messy conditions.


In one week of driving they accumulate enough kilometers that would land them in Winnipeg.


Put on upwards of 40 doggie booties and 20 doggie jackets or sweaters during the winter months.


All too often, have their new shoes mistaken for a fire hydrant.


Know where to get the best sandwich, the sweetest cookie, and the hottest cup of coffee on the run.


Carry more keys than a high school janitor.


Are clever at the Rubik’s Cube thanks to their daily practice of untangling leashes.

Acara Kada is the owner and operator of See Spot Run Dog Walking Services. Since 2008 Acara and her business partner Luie, a terrier cross from Mexico, have created a unique social club for dogs. Follow their adventures @seespotrunyyc or visit Jenny Graburn is an outdoor adventurer who traded in her dog walking leashes for the freedom of the mountains, where she can now be found biking with, and photographing, her 4-legged pals Pica and Parker.

Photo above features Acara and some members of the See Spot Run pack; Lola, Dudley, Luie, and Rose. 41


Puppy’s First Time at the Groomers

Tips to start the grooming experience off right! Words by: Sheena Slobodian


uppy’s first time at the groomers is largely thought to be a generally trying ordeal, complete with high emotions and expectations, some degree of anxiety, and frankly quite a lot of stress. While that may occasionally be the case, it certainly doesn’t have to be. Here are a few helpful tips to make puppy’s first experiences at the grooming salon a little bit easier for puppy, guardian, and even the groomer.

First time meeting the groomer A great way to start socializing puppy is to bring her to meet your groomer of choice. The first visit, as early as 12 weeks of age, could be simply for a treat and tummy rub, a snuggle atop a grooming table, or even for puppy’s first nail trim. This is an excellent opportunity to see how puppy interacts with the groomer, and provide some peace of mind for puppy’s new humans as well. If you are nervous about nail trimming, you are not alone! Your groomer will be happy to help. The first nail trims are integral for developing puppy’s comfort with paw handling. An experienced groomer will carefully tend to puppy’s toes while at the same time gently influence puppy’s acceptance of the process.

Second visit with the groomer A bath will likely be in order, typically around 3 to 4 months of age. It is during this visit that puppy will learn all about grooming table manners and those big, noisy dryers. Perhaps when puppy met the groomer a few weeks ago for her first nail trim, one of those dryers may have been on so she could hear them nearby. Familiarity can go a long way to helping them



to feel comfortable in the salon. Does puppy have a favourite treat? Bring a few along for the groomer to help keep her overall training consistent. Nails should be trimmed again as puppy nails grow fast - and sharp! Ears may require some plucking at this stage (if your pup’s breed requires it), or a gentle cleansing of any waxy debris. Puppy’s pads may be shaved if necessary, and a thorough coat brushing - but no painful dematting. Mats will be clipped out at this stage to avoid unpleasant tugging. If puppy has extra hairy bits between her toes and pads or behind her ears, your groomer will tidy all of that up as well. For some breeds, this is the end of the grooming process, while for others, there will be even more on their next visit.

Third visit to the groomers Puppy should have her first full haircut by the time she is 6 months of age. There are a great many shiny, noisy objects in the grooming salon, and she will now be learning how to have an assortment of these grooming tools used on her coat to give her that adorable fluffy cut that you love! Your groomer will go slowly the first time clipping puppy’s coat, so it is best not to pressure them by returning too early and stealing puppy’s focus. The learning process should not be rushed. Before first heading to the salon, take puppy for a good long walk to allow her to burn off any excess energy she may have built up napping, and to give her the opportunity to ‘do her business.’ Your groomer will thank you! Try not to make a big deal of the event. Puppies do not know how to interpret your expressions very well yet and will become easily confused and afraid if you seem tense. Take a relaxing deep breath, trust your instincts - and your groomer. You are able to choose who will be the groomer to handle your puppy. Take comfort in the knowledge that you selected someone caring who will play an integral role in the general care and maintenance of your furry family member. Professional dog groomer Sheena Slobodian is passionate about making grooming a positive experience for your dog. With over 7 years of experience, she strives to be an integral member of your dog’s care and maintenance team. Visit 43


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R.J. with his dog Ozzy

Get ready to be inspired by local Superhero, R.J. Bailot! Words by: Sarah Daloise Helping People, Helping Animals Recently we had the privilege to sit down with Calgary’s Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force (ASNTF) co-founder, R.J. Bailot. Given the unique mission and vision of the organization, this was a meeting we were looking forward to and we were not disappointed. R.J. exudes compassion and love for all animals, and it’s impossible not to leave his presence truly inspired by what is possible for dogs in Alberta communities and beyond. Established in 2007, the ASNTF has its roots in hosting large-scale spay and neuter clinics across Alberta. Though it began in response to the pet overpopulation issues affecting Alberta’s First Nation communities, the ASNTF has quickly expanded into a larger resource that now also includes public education and community programs aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of both animals and their humans. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, R.J. moved to Alberta in 1999. Having always had a natural proclivity for helping animals, he spent much of his spare time volunteering for local rescues while attending high school. By the time he was 24, R.J. was the executive director of a local rescue in Okotoks, and was immersed in the local animal welfare community. During the latter part of his role as director, R.J. began to realize that, regardless of good intentions and substantial efforts, it would never be possible to rescue all of the stray dogs that needed homes. There were simply too many. R.J. became motivated to make a greater, longer-lasting impact. He began to shift his focus to the prevention of animal overpopulation. In 2007 R.J. and his friend, Nancy Larsen, found themselves taking a trip to volunteer at the Montana Spay Neuter Task Force in Browning, Montana, and the experience left them both inspired. They returned to

Photos by: Amber Perry

Alberta eager to recreate the Task Force experience. Later that same year, R.J., Nancy, and a mutual friend Trudy decided that they wanted to implement the spay and neuter concept on the Blood Tribe First Nation, two hours south of Calgary. It was a site they had prior connections with, and where they felt they could make a difference for both the people and animals who called it home. This new vision, combined with Nancy’s experiences working with First Nations communities, set the stage for the ASNTF. For the following year and a half, the trio would drive back and forth, picking up dogs from the guardians on the Blood Tribe First Nations and bring them back to Calgary veterinary clinics for prearranged surgeries. Once the surgeries were complete and the dogs were in stable condition, R.J., Nancy, Trudy, and a handful of volunteers would return them safely home.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead Their efforts were welcomed by the communities they served and momentum took hold as relationships developed. Soon, they would gather a group of local rescue groups together to pitch the idea of a larger scale clinic - the likes of the one held in Montana. R.J. smiled when he recounted the initial feedback they received: “It’s not going to work. The community is not going to support it. People are not going to show up with their pets.” But leaders don’t follow – they lead. They believed in their work and the vision of what

they hoped to accomplish. So despite the initial negative feedback, the trio got busy planning their first ever Task Force clinic. “I’ll always remember,” R.J. beamed, “when we pulled up to the parking lot of the first clinic, there was a sea of people with their animals!” This unexpectedly large turnout prompted the team to quickly readjust and reorganize upwards of 70 surgeries for that day alone. “We didn’t want to turn people away. We have always had that philosophy. When people show up we need to provide the service. We need to follow through,” R.J. explained. In classic Alberta fashion, vet clinics from all over Calgary and surrounding areas stepped up to assist, and all of the animals received spay or neuter medical care that day. “Then we realized right away, the assumption that people don’t care about their animals is just not true. There is a different type of relationship with the animals in some of the communities we work with, but there is still a level of compassion, care, and love for them,” R.J. noted. This theme has been echoed again and again in every clinic they’ve held. It is also felt in their experiences with natural disaster relief efforts, such as the Siksika floods of 2013, where they saw how profoundly affected the displaced residents were at the loss of their pets. As they have grown, the smaller clinics have progressed quickly to larger scale, on location operations. Now in their 9th year, the ASNTF has hosted over 40 clinics and has spayed and neutered 9276 dogs and cats. Running each year from April to October, they typically have up to nine clinics per year and have performed upwards of 450 surgeries in a single weekend. It is possibly one of the largest operations of its kind in North America. The implications for improved animal welfare are profound. According



to the ASNTF, one intact female dog, her male, and all of their puppies (if they were also not to be fixed), could add up to 67,000 dogs in as little as six years. Over the years, countless relationships have been created with the people of the First Nations communities, as well as with volunteers, the veterinarian community, animal welfare organizations, and several government agencies. A large part of the success of the ASNTF comes from the relationships the team has built with local rescue groups. Because of this, they can be extremely productive in not only the clinics, but also in situations of large-scale animal surrenders. “Often families become overwhelmed quickly when they have a few unaltered animals that soon turn into many animals. They reach out for help and can choose to surrender several at a time, depending on the situation,” R.J. explains. “Sometimes we take in 200 surrendered animals in just two days. We can place them all just as quickly, among 30 different rescue groups throughout the province. I look at all the rescue groups we work with, and it’s amazing. We couldn’t do it without those relationships. To be able to place 200 animals in two days, that in itself is groundbreaking. That doesn’t usually happen because most organizations try to deal with it all themselves.” Occasionally, some dogs find their way into the hearts and lives of the Task Force members more permanently. As was the case with Ozzy, R.J.’s 7-yearold Pomeranian, who was lovingly surrendered by a woman who, despite caring greatly for him, knew that she could not continue to provide adequately for him. Selfless acts such as this are seen in many of the clinics, and each time these decisions are met with compassion, acceptance, and non-judgment by the Task Force members. It was also interesting to hear about the other positive changes that are happening within the communities connected to the ASNTF. Altering a dog decreases their desire to roam and also reduces the number of dogs per household:



this keeps them at home more and, in turn, improves the likelihood of a closer human-dog relationship developing. R.J. noted that many people return to the clinics year after year to reconnect with the team and to ‘show off’ the dogs they love. While the spay and neuter clinics improve animal welfare by reducing overall numbers of free-roaming dogs, they don’t address issues like dog bite prevention, public awareness, or responsible pet ownership. In response, Nancy (now President) and Alanna Collicutt (Vice President) have expanded the ASNTF mandate to include ongoing education and prevention programs, bylaw development, and regular ASNTF presence. All of these efforts are tailored so that they are relevant to each particular community. “We work at a local base level – we want to know what the people want and then we try to act as a resource to help them. It puts us in a position that we can now create a system within a community that is going to work, with the hope that other communities will emulate it,” R.J. explains. “It is important that individuals take onus of their animals and create a safe environment for their community. We want to ensure that the level of animal welfare is lifted in the community and that they have the resources available to ensure that it can happen.”

It became apparent during our visit with R.J., that this organization is far more than just hosting spay and neuter clinics and implementing education strategies. Words like collaboration, open dialogue, teamwork, non-judgment, trust, and inclusion were littered throughout our conversation. It would be safe to say that their success has come from a place of listening to the people they have chosen to serve - promoting genuine acceptance of others, creating community, and developing authentic long-term relationships. Without a doubt, this is the foundation of all their accomplishments to date. It is humbling to realize that this organization began with just three people, a vehicle, and a vision of contribution. I am sure R.J. would be the first to point out that it is the entire team of dedicated ASNTF volunteers and partners who are the superheroes, and we would agree. But like any organization or business, the team members draw strength from their leadership. R.J is an amazing leader in our community, and for that he deserves the title of a Superhero! We left the meeting inspired and hopeful – not only for the future of animal welfare in Alberta and beyond, but also for the shift towards inclusion, community, acceptance, and positive education efforts as a way of the future

for animal welfare organizations. This kind of shift in thinking and being is the catalyst for lasting positive change for dogs and communities alike.


How you can help: • • • •

Seasoned veterinarians are the backbone to clinics and are in need! Regular financial contributions. Compassion fatigue support and counseling services. General volunteers.

The ASNTF is a registered charity. For more information on their clinics and mission, or to find out how you can get involved, visit their website at Amber Perry is a Communications Specialist with the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) in Calgary. She has been a long-term, dedicated volunteer for both AARCS and the ASNTF. Amber is also a people and pet photographer, and lends her creative talents to both AARCS and ASNTF in their efforts to find dogs foster and adoptive homes.

Jude Bailey

Chris Henderson

Jude Bailey is a YYC Dog Superhero! She has dedicated much of her time over the years doing various volunteer work and fundraising, but in May during the fires in Northern Alberta, her love spread even further. Jude orchestrated a network of support, transport, services, and supplies in and around Calgary for those dogs that were in need after being evacuated from their homes. Jude worked tirelessly to cater to every dog that had a need. Whether it was ensuring that dogs with special diets got the food they needed, or distributing beds and toys to those that left their homes without any of their own comforts, every call was answered. She even personally made goodie bags to help them feel more welcomed and at home.

Chris Henderson is a Superhero for many reasons! He is SO incredibly dedicated to his role at the Calgary Humane Society and consistently goes above and beyond his dog walking role, enthusiastically walking our most challenging dogs with professionalism and care.

The compassion and love that Jude offered our visitors from up north is a testament to her love and devotion for dogs, and a great example of what Calgary is made of ! Anonymous

Chris also participates in our Foster Program as an Emergency Boarding Foster Parent. Chris didn’t hesitate to offer his home, love, and attention to displaced dogs from Fort McMurray, and even took in a doggie duo! Chris was able to keep these brothers together after an extremely frightening and distressing ordeal. For years Chris has been present at all of our major events including the Dog Jog and Cocktails for Critters. Because of his physical strength, he often gets called upon to help out with the heavy lifting for set up and tear down of events and he never complains! Chris has an infectious happy-go-lucky attitude and it’s been such a great pleasure to have him be a part of our wonderful organization. Carissa - Calgary Humane Society

Do you know someone who is making a difference in the lives of local dogs? Visit the Nominations page on our website and let us know about them!



Essential Oils Treating fido’s common ailments Words by: Lisa Hillyer


am a dog lover, and I enjoy it when my good friend’s Morkie, Carl, comes to stay with me for the weekend. Dogs calm us, humble our hearts, and lengthen our lives. So it was only natural to want to share the amazing health benefits I was receiving from essential oils with my furry friends. Essential oils have so many amazing health benefits for dogs. These little gems have been around for centuries, and it’s exciting to see how they are now making their way into everyday household use. Essential oils are a safe, effective way to treat minor ailments or ease anxiety and sore muscles, and they are a great addition to homemade healthcare products for our dogs. Just like with humans, essential oils can be applied to dogs aromatically, topically, and internally, however you should do your research prior, as not all essential oils can be ingested. Some common ailments that can be easily and effectively treated with essential oils are:

Food sensitivity, constipation or upset tummy

Oils that support digestion are ginger, peppermint, fennel, coriander, and wild orange. For internal use, ensure that they are the highest quality possible. I recommend 100% pure and therapeutic grade. You can put 1-2 drops of the digestion supporting essential oil in an empty gel capsule or directly on your dog's food if they don’t mind the taste. Although it may not seem like enough, the oils are highly concentrated and 1-2 drops is all you need.



Congestion, allergies or wheezing

Mix 15 drops of a respiratory supportive oil such as peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, lime, or thyme with 10 drops of a protective oil such as clove or wild orange. Dilute the mixture with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the scruff of the neck, paws, and spine. The blend of the oils will boost the dog's immunity and help to clear the respiratory system.

Skin irritations

To clean the skin, and for skin irritations, apply lavender and frankincense with a cotton ball.

Sore muscles and joints

Lemongrass, peppermint, cypress, juniper berry, wintergreen, and ginger are all great oils for sore muscles and joints, as well as for arthritis. Dilute the oils in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and lightly massage the oil directly into the sore area.

Stress and anxiety

For reducing separation anxiety, use a diffuser to subtly release a calming oil such as lavender or vetiver in the dog’s space. Another option is to place a drop of the oil on their collar or bed.

. . .

Safe use principles and consultation with an essential oils expert are recommended to avoid unintentional overdose and accidental use of contraindicated oils. Always let your veterinarian know what natural products you are using to ensure continuity in care.

Dog Shampoo Recipe 1 cup water 1 tbsp castile soap 1/4 tsp vitamin E 3 drops peppermint essential oil 2 drops roman chamomile essential oil 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil 1 drop cedarwood essential oil Place all ingredients in a glass jar and mix well. Apply a quarter size amount to your dog’s fur and scrub vigorously. Use more on a large dog if needed. The shampoo will be a bit watery compared to store bought products, but your dog will be clean and smell great for days!

Lisa Hillyer is a certified essential oil consultant, health coach, and yoga instructor. For more information on essential oils for your dog, email


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In Loving Memory

Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything. And you’ll never forget them. Visit the Memorial section on our website to submit a tribute in memory of your faithful friend.




“We are forever thankful for the time we shared and all the joy you brought us. You were the BEST dog EVER - and you’re always in our hearts.”

“You’re Frisbee sits idle and toys gather dust, but my fond memories of us are painfully fresh. I miss you baby girl!” Love, Dad



“Britt was my connection to everything I am passionate about. She was the best reflection of me and to know her was to know me. ”

“My sweet boy, you were my first dog, but you were much more than that - a best friend and confidante. I miss you every day.” Love, Mom


Now in its 4th year, the Heeling Project was created to honour grief and support healing after pet loss. Connect with us to share your story. | 51