All About Pets 2021

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All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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A special advertising supplement to The Berkshire Eagle Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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Pet Perspectives


Berkshire pets, in their own words

Preparation and prevention


Strategies to keep pets safe

The four-legged workout buddy


Start running with a dog at your side

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Fighting back against creepy crawlies


All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Table of Contents

*Sponsored by Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts

A daycare that loves your dog as much as you do


*Sponsored by Love Us and Leave Us

Empty kennels and empty pantries


*Sponsored by Berkshire Humane Society

When things get messy


Cleaning up after your furriest family members


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A few good hens


Why backyard flocks are on the rise


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Dogs on the job

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A comfort in hard times


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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets

Pet Perspectives Local pets share their thoughts

Haylee MIXED BREED 7 a.m.: On my back waiting for my belly rub, trying not to whine. 8 a.m.: Watching the news. I don’t think they like the news.

6:30 p.m.: Watch the news. Why do they do that? 8 p.m.: Snuggle ... the BEST SUBMITTED BY: PAM MCCARTY, DALTON

Luna GREYHOUND My name is Luna and I’m faster than you. I turned four years old today and nothing makes me happier than a spin around the backyard.


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My name is Bean and I’m the luckiest greyhound around. The only race I’m ever going to have to run is chasing my buddy Luna around the backyard.





I’m Maxx. I was adopted from BHS when I was only 10 months old. I’m 8 years old now and very lucky because I have a great home. Snuggles, belly rubs, car rides, fetch, long walks and treats are my favorite. I like to dig, and sometimes I escape my fenced yard and go on neighborhood adventures. I don’t like other dogs, loud noises, or the doorbell, but I LOVE my humans!

Looking back, I can’t complain. A lot of road trips, including many to New York City where my one of my people liked to spend time in a place that was five flights up. Whew, those steps. It was interesting to walk along the Hudson River or walk over to the dog run at Washington Square Park to socialize with some city dogs, but I preferred the country. And hiking. I miss my hiking group.



9 a.m.: I like yoga. I can kiss Mom and lay right on top of her. 3 p.m.: Lots of yummy smells in the woods. Little nuggets to eat. Stinky smells to roll in. “NO NO NO,” they say.


Clio and Calliope




Hi folks, Clio and Calliope here! We were adopted from AnimalKind. When mom chose us, we were supposed to be sisters, but oops! Clio’s a boy. My favorite things to do are to “help” mom with Zoom meetings, bother Calliope and look outside to see my “brother” cats, Jasper and Hobo. My sister Calliope’s favorite things to do are eat and sleep on top of the warm radiator. We hope the outside boys can stay in someday!

In Memory of Miss Molly June 2, 2000 - December 23, 2020 Molly and her family wish to thank all of our friends, neighbors and our family at Berkshire Veterinary Hospital for the walks, scratches, treats and love along her way. Molly has left us, but Molly girl will be waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. Miss you all! Stay safe! — Molly and Dorothy Dascani SUBMITTED BY: DOROTHY DASCANI, PITTSFIELD

Jasper and Hobo CATS My “brother” Hobo and I found a place to sleep under Mom’s porch. She started feeding us, but it was so hard to trust. I was scared! Animal Dreams fixed us in March, and we feel better! Now we have a warm house on the porch and love Mom. We come inside sometimes to hang out with Clio and Calliope. Hobo doesn’t like to give space so I have to bite his ear sometimes :-) SUBMITTED BY: CANDACE BAKER, PITTSFIELD


Stella GOLDEN RETRIEVER Hello, my name is Stella. I am a 7-year-old golden retriever who lives with my parents. I go everywhere with them. My most favorite thing to do is hike with my parents on the weekend. My father is not crazy about it, but my mother makes him come for the exercise. After the hike is the best part: I get to have ice cream which is my favorite treat. SUBMITTED BY: JOHN COFFEY, PITTSFIELD

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All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Create a fire safety plan to include pets Disaster preparedness includes strategies to keep pets safe in the wake of storms or other potentially hazardous situations The need to prepare for natural disasters is never more apparent than right after an especially harsh storm touches down. But disaster preparation should be a proactive endeavor, as taking action before a storm can make confronting the storm that much easier. Pet owners must give extra thought to disaster preparedness to ensure their pets can make it through harsh storms unscathed. Natural disasters like storms and fires can put pets in jeopardy, so it’s vital that pet owners take the steps necessary to protect their furry friends before such disasters strike. · Place a rescue alert sticker on your front door or window. Rescue alert stickers alert first responders to the presence of pets in a home. The ASPCA recommends placing the sticker on the front door or window (visit to receive a free sticker). Include the types and numbers of pets in the home as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian. · Learn about local safe havens. If pet owners must evacuate in the case of a coming storm, their pets must evacuate as well. Some animal shelters provide emergency shelter for pets and/or can arrange for pets to be fostered until their owners can safely return home. It’s vital to conduct this research in advance, as the ASPCA notes that not all shelters can accommodate pets during storms or other emergencies. Knowing which ones do can ensure pets have a safe place to go should disaster strike. · Stock up on emergency supplies. The ASPCA recommends pet owners plan as if they won’t be allowed to return home for several weeks, even if they suspect their time away will be much shorter. Speak with your vet about what to include in a pet first-aid kit, and be sure to bring at least several days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food. Disposable litter trays, liquid dish soap and disinfectant and an extra collar or harness and extra leash are some additional emergency supplies to pack. A full list of recommended emergency supplies can be found at


· Make sure pets wear collars and tags at all times. Disaster can strike at any time, so it’s vital that pets wear their identification tags and collars at all times. The ASPCA urges pet owners to include pets’ names and any urgent medical needs on the tags. A telephone number where owners can be reached at all hours of the day should be included on tags as well.

· Take location into account. The ASPCA advises pet owners who live in regions prone to certain disasters to find rooms in their homes which can serve as safe havens during storms. Many storms do not require evacuations, but that does not mean pets won’t be frightened. Safe rooms should be clear of windows and be easily accessible and easy to clean.

5 ways to prevent lost pets


Despite the sadness, uncertainty and disruption to millions of people's lives, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has provided some silver linings. One such positive side effect of people being asked to spend more time at home is the opportunity for individuals and families to open their abodes to needy animals. Pet adoptions have increased as people have found more personal time to devote to companion animals. The Pet Health Network says that people experiencing loneliness from being apart from others often turn to pets to help them feel better. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Virginia brought in 149 animals from high-kill shelters in March 2020 and adopted 134 in a single week, matching the agency's

monthly average. Data on New York City animal shelters indicates that, as of early May 2020, 43.5 percent of shelters were experiencing an increased demand for adoption since the COVID-19 outbreak. As pet adoptions increase, new pet parents are urged to remember to take every precaution to keep their companions safe and secure. The summer months can be a prime time for pets to become lost. Increased thunderstorms as well as fireworks displays can frighten pets. Also, more time spent outdoors may make it easier for "escape artists" to find their way out of backyards or get free from leashes. Thankfully, there are some steps pet owners can take to keep pets safe. · ID and collar: Pets should wear collars with attached identification at all times. This should include an upto-date contact number. ID tags can be made at pet supply stores or are available at the Animal Humane Society facilities. · Microchip: Microchips are small devices that are implanted under the

pet's skin. About the size of a grain of rice, microchips emit a low radio frequency that can be read by a handheld scanner. Virtually all vet offices and animal shelters are equipped with scanners. Microchips are designed to last the pet's lifetime, according to HomeAgain, a microchip company. Once the pet is registered, the chip will link to a record of owner information that can be updated easily online. · Sterilization: AHS says studies show that pets that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to roam for mates and potentially get lost. · Pet-proof: Homeowners may have to make adjustments to their yards and homes to ensure pets cannot escape. Some dogs and cats can climb over tall fences or dig underneath. Speak with your veterinarian about how to pet-proof your property. · Leash pets: Prey instinct can be high and even the most well-behaved pets may act differently when away from home. A secure collar/ harness and leash will help keep pets safe on walks.

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New pet parents should familiarize themselves with the steps to help prevent lost pets


A canine running buddy can keep you on track BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER The Berkshire Eagle

Spring is coming. Soon, the snow will melt away, and with it, one more excuse not to strap on those expensive new running shoes and finally make good on your New Year’s resolution.

But motivation is hard to come by, especially in these days of staying in and working from the couch. You need someone to get you excited about going for a jog; someone with infectious enthusiasm that never runs out, no matter how many times you make the same loop around the neighborhood.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets

Time to get moving


You need a dog. Shiobbean Lemme, who coowns Berkshire Running Center in Pittsfield with her husband, Kent Lemme, believes a canine partner can ease the way for someone new to running. “I think in the beginning of the journey to becoming a runner, having a dog to motivate you was an absolute plus,” she wrote, in an email to the Eagle. “They need the exercise just as much. Having the pets join you in activities is just like having your children join you. Everyone has a great time, being outdoors, staying in shape, and the fresh air helps calm everyone and stay sane and safe.” More advanced runners will most likely want to leave the dogs at home, however, at least during challening workouts. Most dogs won’t be able to keep up on strenuous runs, and even the most well-trained companion will need to stop along the way for bathroom breaks and any particularly interesting smells. Still, even serious athletes can enjoy a good outing with the dog, though it might mean dialing back the intensity a bit. Kent Lemme, the current record holder for the Josh Billings RunAground’s Ironman competition, took things a little slower when out with the couple’s late beagle, Chipper. “Kent would make some runs ‘Chipper runs,’ where he got to set the pace,” Shiobbean wrote. “He joined Kent running until Chipper's running days were behind him, but he stayed as a great hiking companion until almost the end of his 16 years.”

The right dog


All dogs need some level of physical activity to stay healthy. Regular exercise keeps muscles strong, joints flexible and weight under control. Dogs who get a chance to work off some energy with their human are happier, more relaxed and less likely to engage in destructive behaviors, like chewing on the antique dining room furniture. Whether a particular dog is fit to join in on the daily jog, however, varies widely depending on age, breed and general health. Puppies are better suited to short bursts of activity with rest in between, to protect their developing bones and muscles. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends

waiting until dogs are at least 18 months old before running any distance, with larger breeds needing even more time to mature. On the other end of the spectrum, high-impact exercise like running can exacerbate joint pain in older dogs. A veterinarian will be able to advise you on when it’s safe to start bringing a young dog along on runs, and when it’s time to slow things down. Dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to perform very specific physical tasks, so some breeds will naturally be better-suited for running than others. Generally speaking, breeds in the AKC’s “sporting” and “working” groups will have less trouble keeping up with a human for extended periods; think of the Weimaraner, tracking boar through the forest for hours, or Siberian huskies, hauling sleds over miles of snow. Dalmatians, vizslas, Doberman pinschers and Labrador retrievers are also well-suited for distance running. Some breeds may not fit so well into your fitness routine. Greyhounds and boxers, for all their speedy reputation, are built to sprint, and tend to tire quickly. Giant breeds, like Newfoundlands and Great Danes, are prone to joint problems, which can be worsened by too much running on a hard surface. Small dogs like dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are limited by their tiny legs; and brachycephalic (“squishfaced” or short-nosed) breeds such as bulldogs and pugs can’t take much additional strain on their respiratory systems. No matter the breed, all dogs will need to be conditioned to go on longer runs, just like people. Starting slow and building up speed and distance will help prevent overexertion or injury. Again, your vet will be able to assess your dog’s fitness and help you develop a safe exercise plan. Obedience is vital when out running with a dog, for everyone’s safety. Pulling, jumping or bolting after wildlife can have serious consequences out on the road, so leash discipline is a must. Before going out on the road, a dog should be trained to run alongside its handler, not out in front or lagging behind. From this position, the human in charge has more control over the dog’s movements; there’s also less chance of anyone tripping over a tangled leash. If you’re unsure, some time with a

The right gear

When planning your run, keep in mind that you’ll need more space to run safely with the dog at your side than you would on your own. If no sidewalk is available, stick to roads with a wide, flat shoulder that lets you stay well clear of vehicle traffic. Quieter neighborhoods are better, especially for young or easily distracted dogs. Navigating around other pedestrians — and their dogs — gets more difficult with a pup in tow, and too much activity can make it hard for your dog to stay focused on your workout. Remember that your dog doesn’t have the extra protection of shoes on his feet, so you’ll want to stay away from areas with sharp rocks or large gravel. On warm, sunny days, check the temperature of the asphalt with the back of your hand to make sure it

won’t be too hot for bare paws. Without specialized running shoes to soften the impact, hard surfaces like asphalt can be particularly hard on the joints. If possible, running on grass or dirt is best for large or aging dogs. Wherever you go, be aware of leash policies. Most public spaces won’t allow dogs to roam off-leash. Even if loose dogs are allowed, be sure you’re confident in your dog’s ability to respond to voice commands — especially with other dogs around — before you unclip.

The right routine Dogs don’t come into the world at their peak athletic condition, any more than humans. If you’re new to running, you and your dog will most likely be able to build up stamina together. Start with short trips, broken up with plenty of walk breaks, and

slowly increase your running time. Give your dog a day off to rest between runs. Keep in mind that dogs aren’t able to come out and tell you that they’re feeling tired or in pain. Even if they could, many dogs are so invested in keeping their owners happy that they’ll keep going past the point of pain, potentially causing lasting damage. Watch your dog carefully for signs of discomfort: heavy panting, uneven gait, frequent stops and a desire to lay down. Be prepared to stop for rest and water whenever needed. Finding the motivation to go from thinking about running to actually doing it is a struggle in itself. But with the right preparation, and a healthy dose of canine enthusiasm, you might just find yourself crossing one resolution off your list — and maybe even have some fun in the process.

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With or without a dog by your side, visibility is the top concern when it comes to outfitting yourself for a run, especially if you’ll be anywhere in the vicinity of moving vehicles. That means bright colors and a generous topping of reflectors on both of you. Your dog should wear ID tags with your name and a current phone number. If they don’t have a microchip, get one; if you haven’t registered that microchip in your name, do so. In the event you get separated, clear identifying information will greatly improve your chances of being reunited. For most dogs, a harness will be more comfortable than a collar when running, but you’ll want to put some time into researching the best option. A minimalist model, with thinner panels on the chest and shoulders, will allow for more freedom of movement as well as being lighter weight and more breathable. Look for plenty of adjustability, which will allow you to further perfect the fit so nothing rubs or pinches as your dog runs. A running lead should be shorter than one made for general use, since any extra length is only going to increase the chances of someone becoming hopelessly entangled. An elastic or bungee model will soften any sudden tugs. Retractable leashes tend to have too much give, which can create a problem should someone or something come between you and your dog. They also have thinner cords, which can cause serious damage if they become tightly wound around a limb. At the human end of the leash, there are two choices: handheld or clip-on. Holding the leash in your hand gives more control, should your dog decide to make an unexpected detour. You’re also less likely to be pulled off your feet, especially if your dog is particularly large and strong. But using one hand to hold the leash does affect the way your arms move, which can in turn affect your balance and your ability to break your fall should that balance fail. The solution is a clip-on leash that attaches to a belt around your waist, keeping your hands free to move as you run while your dog stays securely tethered. Belts are also handy for carrying additional items, like treats, waste pick-up bags and water bottles. Hydration is important, for dogs as much as people. You’ll need to bring enough water for both of you, as well as a collapsible water bowl.

The right route

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

professional dog trainer can help both you and your pet build confidence in your ability to face the outside world safely.



Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets


Don’t let bloodsuckers ruin your best Berkshire life Call Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts, your equalizer in the fight against bites BY NOAH HOFFENBERG Eagle sponsored content editor PITTSFIELD — Jim Underdown and Ty-

They use it for themselves, family, furry friends Without the onslaught of bugs, Underdown, his wife and children can use their Pittsfield yard regularly, instead of seeking cover. Harrington, also of Pittsfield, lives with two dogs: Paxton, 18 months, a boxer mix, and Ralphie, 4 months, an American bulldog mix. “I treat my yard with the same thing that we use with our customers. I’ve never had a tick on me or the dogs, and I feel better when they’re running around out there,” says Harrington. Underdown says he, too, has never been bitten by a deer tick, the carrier of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases. “You can finally go outside and stay out past dark, and not worry about being eaten alive,” says Harrington. With diseases like West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis carried by mosquitoes, a barrier treatment is ideal for keeping your family safe and free from these insect-borne illnesses, says Underdown.

Partners and competitors He and Harrington are business partners and co-owners of the new business, and they’re also competitors. The two each have their own established lawn care businesses: Underdown is the local franchiseeowner of The Lawn Doctor, and Harrington owns Berkshire Turfgrass Specialists. “We’ve been in the lawn care space for five years and dabbling with bug control individually for those five years,” says Underdown. “Now is the first time we’ve teamed up and pooled resources, and specialize in it, as opposed to a company that has it as an add-on feature.” The teammates and friendly rivals met while out doing lawns, and had heard of one another through mutual friends. It was an auspicious introduction.

Is it buggy around here? Is there a need for pest control in Berkshire County? It’s one of the state’s hotspots for Lyme, they note; and our region’s plentiful mosquitoes can carry canine heartworms, too. As an added service, the company

offers a handy tool to help deal with carriers of ticks and fleas, Harrington notes, such as mice, rats or chipmunks. “Rodents are big carriers. Our tick tubes target them with cotton treated with an insecticide. The mice bring it back to their nests, and they sleep in it. It repels the ticks but doesn't kill the rodents,” says Harrington. As some might recall from history class, it was rodents that spread the Black Plague in Europe, via fleas. “Who knows what you’re stopping?” wonders Underdown.

Two pesticide packages The company uses two treatments. The natural variety employs essential oils — cedarwood, peppermint and rosemary — to repel ticks and mosquitoes. The second is a synthetic solution made up of pyrethrins, which are based on a naturally occurring chemical found in the chrysanthemum flower. These are used in numerous insect control products, such as pet shampoos, and are not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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lor Harrington don’t have any love for bloodsuckers, and they aim to send them all packing from our fine Berkshire hills. It sounds like the plot for a vampire flick. In reality, Harrington and Underdown are on the hunt for ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects with a thirst for human blood. This spring, the two lawn specialists are launching Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts; they are now making appointments for free estimates on Berkshire County properties. Underdown, a former golf pro with a degree in mathematics, says treatments begin toward the end of

April. That’s when he treats his own yard with the barrier spray, which is applied via a backpack mister.



Deer ticks, left, are carriers for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Tick and Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts can help you keep them at bay. Mosquitoes, like those pictured at right, can carry West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and canine heartworm.

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021



Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts offers both natural and synthetic treatments to keep mosquitos at bay for a full 30 days per application.

You won’t need them as much as the other guys Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts is needed less onsite by their customers, as their applications last 30 days, rather than the standard 21 days that you’ll find with competitors. That means more time to enjoy your backyards to yourselves, they note. Harrington says the company offers special event sprays, “for a really fast knock down for a couple days before the event.” These might be weddings, receptions or concerts, they note, any kind of outdoor activity where bugs might pose a problem. The company can customize contracts for residential and commer-

cial properties that range upward to midsize. If you sign up for seasonlong treatments, you’ll receive a monthly application for the length of the warmer seasons. Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts also performs contracts and incidental work, such as treatments only during the buggiest months.

Smile, Sparkle & Shine

Mixed projects welcome (and golf!) Of course, the duo is always ready to assist with related or unrelated lawn care, and happy to help with land reclamation and associated bug-killing work. And, if you like golf, Underdown runs Downswing's Indoor Golf Center in Pittsfield, where you might be able to squeeze a tip or two out of him; Harrington, an avowed “baseball guy,” probably has some golf in his future whether he likes it or not. “Jim just ordered me a set of clubs,” he says. Call or text 413-329-1940, email tickmosquitocontrolwma@gmail. com or visit Tick & Mosquito Control of Western Massachusetts to help make your black fly, mosquito and tick seasons more bearable and safe. Initial estimates are free.




Allendale Shopping Center, Pittsfield, MA • 413-442-9073 Hours: Monday- Friday 10-5:30 & Saturday 9-4

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The men use a mist blower for the application, and either is effective against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, ground bees and ants. They wear protective clothing while applying the mist, and ask the home or business owners to take simple precautions during the initial application. “We ask clients to stay off the lawn for about an hour, until it’s all dry on the plants, then it’s safe for dogs, humans, everything,” says Harrington.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets


Pet moms and dads, it’s OK to leave your babies here Your precious furry friends are treated like family at Love Us and Leave Us BY NOAH HOFFENBERG Eagle sponsored content editor PITTSFIELD — Restaurants have just re-


Bass gets the full birthday treatment at Love Us and Leave Us dog day care.

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turned to full capacity. Airlines are booking more and more flights. And reservations are now being accepted for spa treatments and overnight lodging at a Berkshire business that’s expanding to a second site in Lee. Unfortunately, it’s not for you, silly human. It’s for your pets, says Renee Dodds, owner of Love Us and Leave Us. First opening in 2006 as a homebased business, Love Us and Leave Us now has grown into a two-location operation. It has helped owners and their friends at its original location at 1525 West Housatonic St. since 2012, and now does so at its latest venture at 915 Pleasant St. in Lee; the latter just opened Feb. 1. Each site offers dog day care, as well as a dog “spaw” and overnight accommodations. The Lee site also includes dog groupings based on their size, with two different play rooms and outside areas; it also offers kennel suites, “beautiful glass-front little rooms for the dogs,” says Dodds. “They seem to get better sleep when they’re separate.”

Dog pile available But, some dogs do better in a pile, with fellow canines or with their Love Us and Leave Us human companion. For these kinds of social beasts, Dodd’s Pittsfield location has freerange boarding, in which an overnight staffer stays with the dogs; these pups don’t get crated or kenneled, she says. The overnight site is outfitted with a bed, couches and more; Dodds says the dogs sleep where they want.

“We had to get a futon for the end of the person-bed to make an extra-large bed,” she says. This was to fit seven dogs. Co-sleeping isn’t for all dogs, she notes, because of dog temperament; it also costs more than traditional kenneling, because of the sitter. For others, it’s preferred. “Some people don’t like the thought of their dog in a suite. The good side to having someone overnight is that they're always with a person. The downside is that the dog is not separated. You could have a younger dog that wants to stay up all night. They might not get a good night’s sleep,” notes Dodds. These days, overnight business isn’t booming. But, by summer, Dodds expects to hire three or more seasonal employees to meet the demand she expects is around the corner.

All dogs do a trial day All dogs do a trial day at Love Us and Leave Us before they start coming regularly to any programs. “Day care is not for every dog, and there are a lot of dogs that find it too overwhelming and too overstimulating, or just they absolutely hate it. My Lab hates it. She wants to go with me, but will sit in the corner and then growl,” Dodds says of Tilly, 11, a yellow Labrador. Dodds has two other pets, Fergus, 8, a Shiba Inu, and an adopted cat named Schmi, almost 13. Day care is for social animals, and Dodds says it straight: It’s not a normal or natural scenario to put a dog into, which is why it isn’t a good fit for some. “Even though we say dogs are pack animals, they’re not used to being around 30 or 40 other dogs. We introduce them slowly, at their own speed. Some dogs are ready to roll and go right in,” says Dodds.

Getting them plenty of exercise She says many of her dog clients are in the middle of “their teenage phase.” The play regimen at Love us

and Leave Us helps even dogs like these to have heavy rest and sleep periods, especially good for rambunctious types. “You can almost solve any dog behavior with just making them run it out and tired. A tired dog is a good dog,” says Dodds. Her staff is equipped to handle skittish or anxious dogs, but aggressive or prey-focused dogs are better served by specialists, she notes.

Small pets, too Another amenity at the new Lee site is a separate floor and boarding space for cats and small animals, such as rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, snakes and lizards. “We want it all, kind of a menagerie,” says Dodds. Because the animals stay on different floors, they don’t interact. The cats have a room with two sizes of catios, with the biggest fitting a “family of cats,” and there’s also a countertop for pet tanks and a wall to separate should the need arise. “With catios, the cats have all this extra space. They can be jumping around and moving,” notes Dodds. The cats have water fountains, as well as bird feeders just outside the windows for entertainment. Coming soon for the felines: “We’re going to set up a fish tank, so they can watch the fish.” For small animal boarding and visits, customers bring their own enclosures. For reptiles, that means lights and temperature regulation gear. In addition to being animal lovers, Dodds says a few of her staff members are also small animal experts, with one also serving as the animal caretaker at Berkshire Community College.

ing downward. “Or if cat boarding picks up, it’ll be a big cattery,” says Dodds. If pets need more intense care while visiting Love Us and Leave Us, Dodds’ team will either take your pet to its own vet or to nearby vets, if the situation demands it. Both sites have nearby vets available for emergencies.

A bump in reservations Dodds is seeing an increase in reservations for March and April, and people are also starting to book for summer. “I think it might be crazy this year for all the boarding facilities. People are so ready to do stuff. I know I’m itching to get out,” says Dodds. The past year was an interruption in Dodds’ normally busy Pittsfield business. “When the COVID lockdown hit, we lost business at first, with everybody not working. We still had a little bit of day care and operated with a skeleton crew,” says Dodds. The day care side of the business remained extremely busy, almost full, especially during the summer months, while boarding took a dive, notes Dodds. “After the summer, it almost went to nothing, and we had to close on weekends,” says Dodds.

Meanwhile, there was a building that Dodds had been eyeing for some time in Lee, and she had proceeds from a recent home sale. The seed money helped realize her dream of opening a second site. “With COVID, because we were doing less in Pittsfield, it gave me time to concentrate on getting a loan and opening a new place,” says Dodds.

A dream fulfilled As a child, Dodds had a dog until age 3; she was allergic to them, and her parents nixed it for the remainder of her early years. “I was never allowed. That’s all I wanted my whole life. I blame my parents for this,” she jokes. As soon as she moved out, Dodds immediately got a dog and got working with them, too, full time. She moved to the Northeast Kingdom in upstate Vermont, working in Stowe at the former Two Dog Lodge. There, people were allowed to stay with their dogs, and Dodds was their dog sitter at dog day care in one of the cabins. “I would hang out with 12 dogs all day while people were skiing. I thought, ‘I could probably do this,’” Dodds recalls. Returning to the Berkshires, she got a restaurant job, and started doing dog day care on the side.

She used to gather up dogs for the day, and take them hiking in the Berkshire woods.

Welcomed home like family “Some would stay the whole day, some would stay at my house overnight,” Dodds says. One thing led to another, and Dodds had more pups than she could handle alone. She hired a dog walker, and her business was off and running. Since establishing her business, Dodds is always saying how Love Us and Leave Us is a place where your dog can be a dog. Pet guests receive homey accommodations, friends and adoring fans, she says. “We do see them as our little babies and buddies,” says Dodds. For Dodds, having and expanding a business that revolves around animals is a dream come true, which she’s eager to share with you and your pets. To learn more, or set up an appointment for a day, spa or overnight stay, visit Or, for the Pittsfield location, email or call 413464-9200; for Lee, email luludoglee@ or call 413-394-5823.

Dodds’ staff of 10 are pet first-aid certified, a comfort if any animals get some scratches, bumps or worse. “They’re learning how to deal with choking, signs of bloat, generally taking care of wounds, small cuts and scratches, things you probably don’t need to go to the vet and spend $350 on, if you can take care of it properly,” says Dodds. She refers customers with pet medical issues back to their veterinarian of choice. She says, fortunately, the first aid hasn’t been used much at all, and staff do a refresher every couple of years. At the new Lee site, Love Us and Leave Us has an extra room and might be offering these kinds of classes, such as on dog food or puppy yoga, to the public soon, as long as COVID-19 numbers continue trend-

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Pet first-aid certified staff

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021



Playmates enjoy an outdoor romp at Love Us and Leave Us, a pet boarding company with facilities in Pittsfield and Lee.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets The Berkshire Eagle | 12


Berkshire Humane Society sees record demand for adoptions, pet food aid Neutering, spaying options limited, too, as local vets are overloaded BY NOAH HOFFENBERG

“Come in, fill out an application, let us get to know you. We work as a team. You call us and let us know you’re looking, and together we find you the right pet.”

Eagle sponsored content editor PITTSFIELD — Before the pandemic, pet

adoptions at the Berkshire Humane Society were trending in the right direction. “Our adoptions were up, and length of stays that the animals were in our building were dropping,” says John Perreault, executive director of the Berkshire Humane Society on the aptly named Barker Road. Then COVID-19 hit, and high demand went even higher. “All of a sudden, everybody who was now working from home, who formerly didn’t have the time for extracurricular activities, realized that it was the perfect time to bring a dog into their home,” says Perreault. “Our applications just quadrupled.” Likewise, requests for pet food aid have skyrocketed, says Perreault, up some 200 percent from a year ago. He says the Pittsfield shelter has received more than 1,000 requests for food assistance since the pandemic began. Getting appointments for spay or neuter surgeries has also been difficult, with the shelter having to devote a staffer to pet surgery placement, he says; veterinarian offices are swamped, too. Perreault hasn’t witnessed demand like this, even with a career in animal welfare that dates back to the 1980s.

Recently reopened its doors The shelter recently reopened its doors to visitors March 2 after closing around the holidays because of a surge in COVID-19 cases across the region; throughout the pandemic, it remained open by appointment. Its Catwalk Boutique thrift shops in Lenox and Great Barrington just reopened, too; proceeds at these sites go directly to shelter operations. Purradise, the shelter’s satellite feline adoption and boarding facility in Great Barrington, will reopen March 30. Because of the demand here, Berkshire Humane Society transports dogs to the Berkshires from other partner shelters that aren’t as flush with applicants or that wrestle with

— John Perreault, executive director, Berkshire Humane Society SUBMITTED PHOTO

Canine adoption counselor Sam Klass gets a lapful of Cocoa during a recent day at the Berkshire Humane Society. pet overpopulation. However, during the lockdown and other periods in the past year, there were months where there were no transports, says Perreault, which further contributes to a backlog of applicants.

‘Right back out the door’ “I have so many applications, that as soon as dogs were coming in, we were able to turn them around right back out the door,” he says. If you were to go on the society’s website today, you’d see a passel of pups waiting to be adopted. But, these are only a fraction of the dogs that pass through the shelter’s doors. “On the canine side, we receive more dogs than you’ll ever see on the website, and that’s because as they come in, we know people are looking for them. When we think we might have a match, we make an appoint-

ment for them and then show them the appropriate animal. During that time, the animal isn’t available for anybody else,” says Perreault. Most adoptions are done by appointment. If you do see an animal on the shelter’s website, it does mean that it is available, he added.

Few spaying, neutering options Getting animals into homes efficiently is great for everyone involved, he notes. But, all the adoptions have also spawned another logjam. “It’s very difficult to get cats spayed and neutered at this time and moment. Along with this big explosion of people who want to adopt animals, and we have veterinarians that are struggling to keep up with the de-

mand,” says Perreault. The same pandemic pressure is affecting veterinary offices, too, as their existing clients have increased their pet visits. “Nationwide, there is a shortage of veterinarians at the moment. You’ve got all these animals out there, and people want to do the right thing and bring them, but it’s hard to get an appointment,” notes Perreault. Normally, local vets perform all of the shelter’s spays and neuters; they also provide free health exams to incoming shelter animals. “All of a sudden, they can’t see their own clients, so all that extra stuff they are doing for us is much more difficult to do than in the past,” says Perreault. “We have a few veterinarians that are struggling to help us out as much as they can, but at the end of the day, we’re still looking to get more

Kittens Panda, Wilson and Binx, from left, were recently adopted from Berkshire Humane Society dogs and cats spayed and neutered.” He says that related funding, such as from the Massachusetts License Plate program, has gone unused because it’s hard to find the surgeries. Perreault adds that the shelter has received widespread support from the vet community since its incorporation in 1993, and he expects that stakeholders will come up with a Berkshire-based solution soon. He says regional brainstorming is underway. Meanwhile, a staff member is now assigned full time to handle placement of puppies and kittens at vets’ offices for surgeries.

Massachusetts Pet Food Task Force

Donations needed The shelter still relies on donations to maintain its budget. It often finds itself the beneficiary of community events, such as a recent vegan meal night at Chez Nous, in which a portion of proceeds went to the Berkshire Humane Society. Even with the generosity, Perreault says the nonprofit’s coffers have taken a bit of a hit during the outbreak, as a number of its keystone annual events ended up canceled. Similarly, children’s programs — such as the Humane Heroes and Defenders, vacation camps, summer and day camps — all ceased for safety reasons during the pandemic, he says. An annual Woofstock 5K and Dog Walk and Humane Race also were canceled. “Most of those big events we’ve had just didn’t happen. We’ve had to pivot like everybody else,” says Perreault.

Getting back to business as usual Perreault says he is looking forward to reopening the shelter’s satellite office in Great Barrington soon for feline boarding. Meantime, staff has been making use of the time, conducting cross training and catching up with projects. The shelter will slowly bring back volunteers as soon as the coronavirus vaccines are proliferated and infection rates continue to drop, he says.

For those area residents interested in adopting a cat or dog — or guinea pig or rabbit or rats — Perreault encourages them to call the shelter at 413-447-7878 to speak with an adoption counselor. “Come in, fi ll out an application, let us get to know you. We work as a team. You call us and let us know you’re looking, and together we find you the right pet,” says Perreault. Hours are Tuesday through Sat-


urday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Catwalk Boutiques are open Thursday through Sunday. Hours for the Lenox site at 53 Church St. are Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m and on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.; Great Barrington hours, at 325 Stockbridge Road, are Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. For more, visit the shelter website at

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The shelter is a volunteer with the Massachusetts Pet Food Task Force, which identifies pet food deserts around the state and then directs supplies to those affected places. The shelter keeps a task force pod on its property and tries to keep it stocked with pet food, much of which comes from generous volunteers. It’s also mobile, meaning it can be brought to the far-flung reaches of the Berkshires. “We’ll get it to areas that can’t come to us for food. People who live in New Marlborough, the Hilltowns, places like that. We’re making sure everybody that needs pet food has access,” says Perreault. Another example of pandemic fallout is that there’s more need than there is food in the pod: “We have people, who used to be huge contributors to our pet food bank, that find themselves now needing the pet food pantry.” Perreault says cash donations help, as they allow the shelter to buy pet food at wholesale prices; gifts of pet food from shoppers who pick up an extra bag or case of cans are always welcome, too. But, he stresses, these donations

just scratch the surface of the need. “We have tremendous support from the community about providing food, but it’s still not enough. There’s a huge need there, especially on the feline side. People think ‘pet food,’ and everybody thinks ‘canine.’ But cat food and cat litter are two big needs of people in the community,” he notes.

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021



Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets

Addressing backyard pet waste Various products and strategies can help pet owners neatly and safely remove pet waste from their yards Pets benefit households in myriad ways. The Animal Health Foundation notes that being around pets can decrease cortisol levels — a hormone activated by stress. Pets also may inspire their owners to engage in physical activity, such as walks around the neighborhood or play sessions in the backyard, and a physically active lifestyle can reduce a person's risk for various diseases. To reap the rewards of a pet, owners must be willing to put in the effort to care for companion animals. This includes those tasks that can be unsavory, such as cleaning up pet waste. Not only is pet waste messy, if left out and about it can be an eyesore, a health risk and affect the quality of the soil in one's yard. Regular removal of pet waste benefits the environment as well as pets and their owners. There are a variety of solutions that can help people rid their lawns of pet waste.

Put it in the trash. If allowed, placing waste in a trash receptacle is an option. However, certain areas of the country do not allow feces disposal in landfills. Bacteria found in animal excrement also can leach into the environment if not handled properly.

Flush it.

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Another solution is to flush waste down the toilet. But that is not always convenient and it requires owners to bring waste indoors. Do not flush cat waste that is covered in litter.

Utilize a sewer line attachment. This disposal system is connected directly to a septic tank or sewer line. It will require washing out debris and waste that gets stuck in the plumbing.

Use an enzymatic dog waste dissolver. Soaking waste and using an enzymatic product can dissolve it more safely than using lime or another chemical. It can be used out in the open, or applied to waste stored in a receptacle.

Create a septicstyle composter. Some people create a mini septic station in their yards in which the waste can break down and then dissolve into a predetermined corner of the property, away from where it can affect the landscape.

Use a hose and water. Solid waste is not the only concern in the yard. Concentrated urine may contain high levels of nitrogen as well as salts and other compounds, according to The Spruce: Pets. These components alter the pH of the soil and cause patches of grass to die and turn yellow or brown. Females cause more damage because they squat and make a puddle of urine, while males tend to lift their legs and disperse the spray. Washing down areas where pets urinate can help dilute the urine and prevent damage.


Preventing pet-related damage to the house Pets can create a mess around the house, but certain strategies can help keep the destruction to a minimum While there are many positive attributes to pets, one potential concern is the impact they have on the home. Pet-related damage can occur when pets are angry or happy. Boisterous animals may scratch or claw at furniture and floors. Some animals may climb or chew. Woodwork and furniture can be damaged by pet paws and teeth, but that's not where it ends. The following are some potential pet-damage problems and how to avoid them.

Marking Many animals use scent markers to establish their territory and communicate with other animals. As a result, both male and female pets may spray urine in certain areas of the house. While it may not eliminate the problem immediately, making sure to neuter or spay cats and dogs can reduce the likelihood that they'll mark indoors or attempt to seek out and mate with feral animals they smell canvassing the property.

Accidents In addition to marking, pets that have not been properly trained or were trained and are experiencing a behavioral or medical issue may begin soiling in improper areas, such as outside of the litter box or in the home. Obedience training can head off some issues, but if a medical condition is suspected, consult with a veterinarian promptly.

Dirt, fur and more 14


An investment in regular grooming can help keep certain damage at

bay, states Home Advisor. Regularly brushing and trimming coats, keeping nails clipped and bathing will keep a home fresh and minimize damage. Other pets may not be groomed but require cleaning of cages or other habitats. Bird droppings and feathers can get on surfaces. Cleaning daily or very frequently can help keep a home tidy.

Provide toys and scratching posts Pets need an outlet to tame anxiety and energy. If they don't have suitable outlets, pets may cause damage to a home. Cats will take to furniture to stretch their paws if they don't have scratching posts or special mats. Dogs, particularly puppies, can be orally fixated. When the urge to chew sets in, unless there are appropriate chew toys, furniture, moldings and other items around the house may become fair game. It is important to note that declawing a cat to prevent damage should not be a consideration. It is a surgery that can cause ongoing health problems. Nail caps can be used as a safe alternative.

Escape artists In some cases, pets may chew or scratch their way through doors and window screens. Others may dig under fencing or climb, leaving damage in their wake. Boredom, anxiety or lack of training may be behind these behaviors, according to Pets Weekly. However, the urge to roam also may be tied to pets not being fixed. Work with the vet or a trainer to help stop these issues.


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All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets


Snouts, day in and day out These dog-friendly workplaces offer tips on helping pups adjust as the pandemic tide begins to turn BY NOAH HOFFENBERG Eagle sponsored content editor PITTSFIELD — When you’re a guest at


Christopher Riggleman, right, and Jonathon Loy of Studio Riggleman interior design find that their dog Che brings an “element of curiosity” to their workspace.

Reliable Pet Sitting Company The Berkshire Eagle |

Maryann Hyatt





P.O. Box 232 • Pittsfield, MA 01202 413-329-5127

MyCom Federal Credit Union, CEO Nancy Canino demands that you be on your best behavior. Unless, of course, you’re a dog. Then, Canino says, you can pretty much do what you want. “We let them run rampant if they want,” says Canino. MyCom is one of many pet friendly businesses in the Berkshires, which welcome employee or customer dogs, or both. When pups visit MyCom, they’re bound to get a lot of attention and treats, Canino says. There are certainly staff favorites, Canino says, including her very own, which she gets to see when her husband stops in with Izzy, 10, a Shih Tzu, or Riley, 7, a Siberian husky. Why is it that we love dogs so much? “Because they don’t talk back, they just love you and snuggle with you, and they don’t give you crap,” jokes Canino. A minor frustration: husky hair, but an on-the-job lint brush usually takes care of it.

Visits with others: a bright (and vital) spot in the day Dog visits are a little bright spot in the day, says Canino. The public visits are also beneficial for dog socialization, which has been compromised by the past pandemic year. John Perreault, executive director of the Berkshire Humane Society, says socialization is especially important for young dogs and cats. If not, it can lead to undesirable behaviors that

can become difficult to work with. Renee Dodds, owner of Love Us and Leave Us pet day care and boarding, agrees, saying the best way to socialize dogs is from the beginning of their lives, so they can safely learn about other dogs, how to read other dogs’ signals and those of people. “It is extremely important for dogs to be able to behave around other dogs,” says Dodds. “Always go at the dog’s speed, keeping them comfortable and removing them from any situation that is too overwhelming.” Because of the pandemic, Love Us and Leave Us staff are seeing many dogs that haven’t had much exposure to dogs and other people. She says dog day care is a great way to get dogs accustomed to others, but for some dogs it can be too much stimulation. The day care does a trial day to make sure there’s a good fit.

Desocializing, too, after the pandemic Perreault also notes that, just like animals need to be socialized, they will need some de-socialization, so to speak, as the pandemic winds down and pet owners return to their offices full time. He says the shelter is reminding pet adopters that, should they be returning to work out of the house, the pet should be prepared for it with repeated at-home training. “You can’t be with them 24-7. You’ve got to put them in a crate, go out of the home. You’ve got to build up to it, so when life goes back to the new normal, your dog isn’t hit with cold turkey,” says Perreault. “I worry about those dogs developing separation anxiety.” As you plan to get back into the workforce or start working from your office instead of from home, both Dodds and Perreault suggest executing a plan to leave your dogs from time to time, to start building up their resilience to it. It is, in essence, the opposite of socialization, which they received to the maximum for the past pandemic year. “Conditioning your dog to be alone makes life a lot easier for everyone,” notes Dodd.

BFFs 4EVA For some pet owners, separation is just not a thing. Christopher Riggleman and Jonathon Loy own and operate interior design Studio Riggleman from their refurbished 1700s schoolhouse in Monterey. Riggleman jokes that their dog, “Che” Guevara, was hired as an intern but got fired the first day for taking too many naps. “Kidding aside, it is always great having her around. She adds an element of curiosity that is gratifying to witness. She loves to smell materials and textiles, and really investigate new samples,” Riggleman says. He loves how Che has a way of gently nudging their legs when it’s been too long since they last acknowledged her. “It’s actually a great built-in alarm to get up from the computer or step away from what we are doing to take a little break,” adds Loy.

Common ground with clients

‘With their best friend every day’ “Personally, it’s a great comfort to have Dex here at work. It eliminates any guilt of having to work late and provides you with comfort on difficult days. Plus, who doesn’t want to be able to work with their best friend


At left, Zack Marcotte, of Berkshire Money Management, and his dog Dexter attempt to practice proper pandemic safety protocols. Below, Dexter joins Marcotte in a meeting.

Puts people at ease “We even do presentations with clients, and he will lay down, roll over and put his head on their foot,” says Marcotte. “Clients are just disarmed instantly. In our industry, we’re talking about going over people’s finances with a fine-toothed comb. It allows people to feel much lighter and to open up a bit more.” Even clients who are not Marcotte’s own will say, “Wait! Can we say ‘hi’ to Dexter before we leave?” Kalee Tart, co-owner of The Berkshire Dog, says, when working at the bakery with her dog, Milo, she’s more relaxed and productive. “I also find that when he’s around, my breaks are more active as we play or go for walks. Overall, I believe that having Milo at work with me helps to promote a good work/life balance,” says Tart. How does Milo let Tart know when he’s ready for a break from all the hard work in sampling organic and all natural treats? “He’ll find his nearest toy and throw it at us while staring, with the occasional bark as if to say, ‘Please, throw it,’” reports Tart.

Welcome to pets Like others cited in this article, the business she owns with her mother, Debra, welcomes customers and their pups into their workspace.

“It’s truly amazing how dogs can bring people together,” says Kalee Tart. She and her mom will frequently let visitor dogs do a taste test, to see which they like the best among the assortments. Kalee Tart agrees that it’s important to prepare pets for post-pandemic life, a process she undertook with Milo — and it turns out, for herself, too. “Before I went back to work, I gradually increased the amount of time Milo was home alone. I tried to keep as much of our morning and evening schedule the same, so that he knew what to expect,” recalls Tart. “I do believe that he handled the change better than I. I also found myself to be anxious about

leaving him home, and realized that I rely on his comfort just as much as he does.” Mom Debra Tart is a longtime member at MyCom Federal Credit Union; CEO Nancy Canino says The Berkshire Dog co-owner has been generous with supplying treats for canine guests. Canino thinks dog visitors are a plus for everyone, especially as we emerge more and more from the pandemic. When bank regulars Bishop, a pit bull, or Nicky, a Shih Tzu, stop by with their owners, it’s like a breath of fresh air, says Canino. She encourages other businesses to do it, as for most people it’s an instant vehicle to relaxation during a time when we all can use it.

The Berkshire Eagle |

Loy says that having clients who also are pet owners helps create common ground. “Clients ask how Che is doing and when she’s coming back to visit,” he says. “Clients also appreciate when you consider their pets in their designs. They feel you have taken into consideration a family member who means a lot to them.” Socialization has been tough for Che during the pandemic, with fewer jaunts out in public, but, the men take her on site visits, so she gets to meet clients. When she does get the chance to meet other dogs, it’s a special occasion, they say. “Che loves other dogs and is determined to make every dog her friend, whether they like it or not,” says Riggleman. Another local office well-known for pet friendliness is Berkshire Money Management in Dalton. There, Dexter, 5, has the run of the office. Dex’s dad, financial planner Zack Marcotte, reports that it sounds like an elephant stampede when his Rottweiler mix runs up to see his favorite co-workers, clients and visitors.

every day?” says Marcotte. In the warmer weather, Dexter is the co-pilot in a sidecar on Marcotte’s motorcycle around town. Wherever Marcotte goes, Dex follows. “He’s obsessed with me. If I’m around and I’m within sight, he almost doesn’t want to be with anyone else. He stares at me like I’m a God,” he jokes. Marcotte says the bond is like any deep relationship. “You don’t notice it until you don’t have it. If I’m on a business trip, and he’s not there, when I wake up, I’m disappointed. It feels like going through a breakup … so lonely,” says Marcotte. Dexter, about two-thirds the size of an average Rottweiler, has a wellestablished fan base, from clients to Marcotte’s friends and family. “He gets invited to weddings I go to. They’ll say, ‘Don’t tell anyone. He’s the only dog invited.’ He’s everywhere with me,” says Marcotte. Favorite Dexter antics include him getting very excited and sprinting to the nearest window if you shout, “Squirrel!” “My co-worker down the hall thinks it’s hysterical,” says Marcotte. Dexter even enjoys watching Youtube videos of squirrels, too.

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021



Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets

Join the chicken revolution

Why backyard poultry are all the rage — and how to get in on the fun BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER The Berkshire Eagle

2020 had all the right conditions for a chicken-raising explosion. Empty shelves at the supermarket had us confronting the possibility of an interrupted food supply, and the sudden shutdown of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues left many of us with more free time than we knew what to do with. And so, the chickens came. Coops and pens popped up in suburban backyards. Commercial hatcheries

across the country braced for disaster as the hospitality industry’s need for eggs and poultry dried up, only to be inundated with small orders for a sixchick starter flock. Here in the Berkshires, the chicken craze caught on quickly. “Last year was phenomenal, because people were home with kids,” said Claudia Randall, store manager at Carr Hardware in North Adams. “We went through chicks very fast.” This year, she’s ordered even more chicks to meet the continuing demand. As it turns out, long after we lost inter-

est in sourdough and tiger-related true crime, we’re still all-in on chickens.

Easy to love Hobby chickens were rising in popularity even before the pandemic hit, fueled in part by the farm-to-table movement and a shift toward more sustainable agriculture. In a 2017 headline, the Los Angeles Times confidently proclaimed, “Chickens will become a beloved pet — just like the family dog.” Like the family dog, chickens seem destined to charm their way into our affections with plenty of character and a surprising interest in people. Eagle photographer Stephanie Zollshan has been raising her own chickens for nearly half a decade. For her, as for many hobby chicken owners, the flock is far more than a source of fresh eggs. “People don't really believe me, but chickens really do have their own individual personalities. Some of them are super sweet and want to cuddle. Others want absolutely nothing to do with you,” she explained. “We keep our chickens as pets, so we really do love them like family.” Randall, who keeps her own flock of chickens, said that the birds easily adapt to human interaction, especially if they’re given plenty of attention early on. “They’re very social,” she said. “The more they’re handled as baby chicks, the better they are when they’re in the pen.”

The Berkshire Eagle |

Bringing home baby



Nigel, the reigning rooster in Eagle photographer Stephanie Zollshan’s flock, is pictured here as a chick ...

At Carr Hardware, spring arrives in a wave of fluffy yellow chicks, shipped from Hoover’s Hatchery in Iowa. Randall keeps the chicks under observation for a full 24 hours before they’re released to customers, just to make sure none are sick or injured. In her experience, the chicks are overwhelmingly healthy, but she takes great care to separate any signs of illness right away. Many of the chicks are spoken for before they even reach the store. “Anybody can call in and preorder, which we encourage people to do,” Randall said. “The more preorders we do, the better it is for the chicks when they get here, because we know how many of them are going out right away.” Carr sells their chicks in minimum orders of six — a common requirement in many states meant to discourage parents from buying individual chicks for their child’s Easter basket. Chickens are flock animals,

anyway, and will be at their happiest and most entertaining in a group. Chicks will need a temperaturecontrolled brooding area in which to mature. Hoover’s Hatchery recommends an enclosed space of at least .5 square feet per chick, with rounded corners to discourage the chicks from piling up on top of (and potentially smothering) each other. A heat lamp is used to keep the chicks at the right temperature, gradually lowering the heat until the chicks are grown. The initial cost for a chick-raising setup is fairly low: around $60, by Randall’s estimation. Carr even sells a starter home kit to simplify the process. In about three months, the chickens will be fully feathered and ready to move outside, provided the weather is right. “Typically, you want to put them out when the temperature is 70 to 80 degrees,” Randall said. She times her order to match up with the changing seasons. “By the time May rolls around they’ll be ready to go out into an outside pen, and then they should start producing eggs around August or September.”

Getting down to business Once she’s begun laying, a hen’s productive years depend greatly on genetics and husbandry choices. Egg production is triggered by changes in the number of daylight hours throughout the year. In the summer months, when the sun stays out well into the evening, hens will lay at their most often. In winter, when it gets dark earlier, laying will slow down and might even stop, depending on individual hardiness. It’s possible to “trick” a hen into laying year round with the use of artificial lights. This will increase your egg yield through the winter, but not the total number of eggs a hen lays during her lifetime. “What most people don’t know is that a hen is born with x-number of egg cells inside it,” Randall said. A hen that lays eggs at the same rate all year, then, will stop laying sooner than a hen who only lays in the warmer months. For the average hobbyist, who isn’t looking to fill any sort of egg production quota, allowing hens to take the winter off is an easy way to keep them laying later into their life. But if you’re hoping to sell eggs for a little extra cash, artifical light can help en-

We asked Eagle photographer and chicken enthusiast Stephanie Zollshan what guidance she would offer a new bird owner. Here was some of her advice. 1. “Do your breed research before purchasing chicks. There are some varieties of chickens that are bred to be raised for food, and they really aren’t able to survive past a certain age. We accidentally bought two ‘meat bird’ chicks a few years ago, and after a few months we realized that they were growing so big they were actually suffering.

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Flock thoughts

2. “Keep in mind that we live in a region that is rich in predators. Chickens are prey animals, so be sure that you are able to supply them with significant protection from the multitude of wild animals that live in the area. Over the years we’ve lost chickens to foxes, hawks, bobcats and fisher cats. Domesticated dogs have a prey drive too, so be sure that dogs are sufficiently trained or physically separated from the chickens. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN

... and here, one year later, as a fully fledged adult. “He’s definitely our sweetest, most friendly chicken that we have right now,” Zollshan says.

Concerning roosters First, the basics: hens will lay eggs whether there is a rooster present or not. Unless you intend to hatch your own chicks, the flock will get along just fine without any masculine influence. Many towns actually forbid hobby farmers from bringing a rooster into their residential neighborhood, presumably because the invention of alarm clocks has taken most of the appeal out of a rooster’s sunrise crowing. Some towns will allow roosters with a permit, or on properties over a certain size, but not many welcome them without restriction. Carr Hardware’s chicks are all pullets (young hens). Sex-sorted chicks generally cost a bit more than a “straight run,” or mixed-sex group,

but there’s much less chance of an intended egg layer growing into an especially loud local ordinance violation. If town regulations allow it, a rooster can be useful as a guardian for the flock. “I have a rooster because it protects the hens,” Randall said. “When they’re out, he is constantly watching over things.” Roosters are often thought of as aggressive, hostile creatures, but they aren’t actually untameable. “The rooster is no different than the hens — if they’re raised and handled, they are very docile,” Randall said. Zollshan’s rooster, Nigel, is the poster chicken for benevolent guardroosters: “He's definitely our sweetest, most friendly chicken that we have right now — which is fairly uncommon for a rooster — and he's a great, ever-watchful guardian for the hens,” she said. That said, there’s no guarantee of getting a Nigel, so if you’re considering a rooster, it’s best to have a contingency plan in place should your chicken prove too aggressive for the quiet backyard life.

A learning experience As with any animal, chickens have their own unique care requirements, which you should research thoroughly before bringing home a half dozen living, highly-dependent creatures. Fortunately, as more people start their own backyard flocks, this kind of information will only become more plentiful. If you can’t find the answer to your question online, there’s a good chance you have someone in your life with enough experience to help you out. For families with children, raising a flock can offer all sorts of educational opportunites, from a hands-on look at basic bird biology to life lessons about personal responsibility, self-sufficiency and the realities of life and death. Oh, and good hand-washing habits. “It is very important that parents teach their children to wash their hands,” Randall insisted, “because chickens can carry salmonella. Holding chickens is encouraged, because it makes for a better chicken, but you want to teach them that, when you’re done with the chickens, you have to wash your hands.”

Additional resources: Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts chapter: Massachusetts chicken farming regulations: massachusetts-law-aboutbackyard-chickens MSPCA-Angell guide to chicken care and adoption: chicken-ownership-and-adoption

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sure you always have product to sell. Chicken brains don’t perceive red light as daylight, so heat lamps with red bulbs will not change your hens’ egg laying. This makes them an ideal way to keep the coop warm when temperatures dip down into the 30s regardless of your production goals.

3. “On the same note as number two, I always tell people that keeping backyard chickens is a real lesson in love and loss. We choose to free-range our chickens, which means that while they can enjoy the freedom of exploration and the joy of the wild, they are more exposed to predators. When you love your chickens like pets it’s hard to lose them, but it’s important to be prepared for the possibility, since they really are quite vulnerable.”


Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets The Berkshire Eagle | 20


The Berkshire Dog, a family recipe for healthy dog treats Lanesborough, Pittsfield-made products good enough for humans but made for pups BY NOAH HOFFENBERG Eagle sponsored content editor PITTSFIELD — What’s good for Milo is

good for your dog, and even you, too. The Berkshire Dog, a maker of all natural and organic dog products, is a local business borne of necessity. Back in 2017, Kalee Tart, Milo’s owner, sought counsel from her mother, Debra, on how best to settle the upset stomach of her 8-year-old black Labrador. “We wanted to give him all natural and organic food and treats to help him. From there, the idea of The Berkshire Dog grew,” recalls Kalee Tart in a recent interview with The Eagle. Now of Hatfield, Tart grew up in the city of Pittsfield. The women say their family didn’t want to buy off-the-shelf products with uncertain ingredients anymore. “We thought, ‘We eat very healthy as a family, so why not do the same for our pets?’” says Debra Tart. Moreover, they decided to do it themselves. The co-owned business has been growing ever since, with their products now found in some 40 regional grocery stores. Debra Tart lives and runs the business in the city. She says, right around the time Milo wasn’t feeling well, she was hearing a lot of bad news regarding the pet food industry and pesticides, and artificial preservatives and coloring. “They can just about put anything into a dog treat, and that really scared me, and Kalee felt the same way,” says Debra Tart. “When you look at the dog treats in the supermarket, the colors, the reds, it's all artificial dyes. People don’t want to feed it to their children, but they don’t think twice about feeding it to their pets.“


of bigger batches. The Berkshire Dog also serves individual customers from its website, and offers free delivery in Berkshire County. Its handmade items include Berkshire Barkscotti, with blueberries, unsweetened applesauce, bacon, honey, cinnamon and diatomaceous earth among its ingredients. Or Ruff Day Relief, which, on top of whole food elements, has organic, full-spectrum cannabidiol, or CDB, oil; CBD is reported to have some anti-inflammatory, antianxiety and other beneficial properties.

The Berkshire Dog, a maker of all natural and organic dog products, is a local business borne of necessity, say coowners Debra and Kalee Tart. Daughter sought counsel from mother on how best to settle the upset stomach of Milo, her 8-year-old black Labrador. “We wanted to give him all natural and organic food and treats to help him. From there, the idea of The Berkshire Dog grew,” recalls Kalee Tart.

Peer pet tested and approved The Berkshire Dog conducted its own beta testing with more than two dozen dog breeds, for three to four months each, with pet parents receiving a new sample batch of treats weekly. They filled out forms to gauge dog excitement level with the treat; how long it lasted; whether they ate it immediately or hid it for later; as well as which were the fan favorites. “It was very helpful. Right away, we were able to figure out that bacon and peanut butter are the No. 1 flavors. Pretty amazing, though, is that one of our really popular flavors is lavender. Who would think that a dog would actually like lavender?” says Debra Tart. “It’s amazing when you really start to pay attention to the dog’s likes and dislikes, what they find to be very pleasurable.” One flavor not on the menu: “Black beans. That was one that the dogs were not too crazy about.” The Tarts grow a lot of their own fruits and vegetables that go into the products, such as their own peppermint.

Dogs: They are what they eat

Find them at your local market

Tart notes that what dogs eat has a direct effect on their overall health. “Everything, right down to their coat, their skin, their digestive system, is affected by what goes in. The more we learned and educated ourselves, the better off Milo was, and now our customers’ pets are, too,” says Debra Tart. What started as a stovetop exercise is now a wholesale operation with some 30 different flavors across several product lines. Just the other day, Tart received a brand new 60-quart mixer that will help with production

Nowadays, you can find The Berkshire Dog products at organic markets, like Berkshire Food Co-op in Great Barrington; Atkins Farms Country Market in Amherst; Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield and Great Barrington; and The Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington, but also at purveyors small, like Sangar General Store in Windsor, and large, such as Big Y, with supermarkets across the region. Debra Tart says she and Kalee have been trying to whittle down the flavors to make choosing easier for store buy-

ers, but The Berkshire Dog still will keep up the full array on its website. “Every time I pull a flavor off the menu, people call and say, ‘What are you doing? That was my dog’s favorite,’” notes Tart. Special orders are easy for the company, too, in case your dog is finicky or has dietary restrictions. “Because we do everything custom made, it’s not a big deal to whip up a batch of someone’s favorite dog treat,” says Tart. “If a dog has an allergy to dairy or wheat, or any item, we can formulate a treat specifically for that dog’s needs and likes.”

A family affair There are two part-timers who help the small business, but it’s truly a family affair, the women note, with Debra’s niece, Jennifer Rhinemiller, helping with social media; her mother, “Nanny” Pat Arseneau, also assisting in the kitchen; son, Kevin, building displays for retail stores; and dad, retired Pittsfield Fire Department Deputy Chief Ray Tart, doing deliveries. “We’re all a part of it, and it’s a great time to be together. It brought us even more together as a family,” says Kalee Tart. Kalee Tart, a former school teacher, works part-time with her mother and also as a nanny; her goal is to eventually work at the bakery full time.

Certified pet nutritionist Debra Tart’s knowledge about pet food stems from being a certified

pet nutritionist, which she earned through an online course and related testing. “It really broadened my knowledge of what’s important for the dogs to have,” says Tart. Her most basic advice: “Keep them away from salt, sugar, artificial, preservatives, colorings. All natural, all the way.” From poor quality store-bought kibble to table scraps, there are many foods that are just plain unhealthy for dogs. “Their stomachs can tolerate it, but it shortens their life and mobility. It really does matter what you feed our dogs,” says Tart. Through her study, Tart learned to scrutinize the labels on dog food and treats. One thing you can’t unlearn about meat byproducts: “In many countries, that can mean roadkill. There’s such little regulation on these treats.” Turmeric root, Tart learned, is beneficial for humans and pets, as is cinnamon, and so are some of the same joint supplements that people take. “We do a hip and joint product, which I formulated for a neighbor’s dog, a 12-year-old yellow Lab that couldn't get up and down the stairs anymore. She gave this treat to her dog, three times a day. Within the first week, it started to climb the stairs again, and in and out of the car, and just running around like a puppy,” recalls Tart. “We tried it with a few other dogs. When they get these ingredients on a regular basis, the improvement in mobility is incredible.”

All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021


Fun facts from The Berkshire Dog, makers of organic and all-natural treats and products The Berkshire-based company: • goes through about 250 to 300 pounds of flour and oats a week • grinds up 30 pounds of fresh peanuts into batches of its peanut butter treats • uses 15 pounds of bacon and two large turkeys every week • processes 20 pounds each of green apples and carrots weekly • hand-presses 400 to 500 large individual dog bones each baking day • packs up 200 8-ounce bags of treats on any given day • once shipped a single order of 4,000 dog treats • reports that bacon and peanut butter dog bones are its top flavors • says lavender calming treats and Pup-pur Mints cookies are unusual but also very popular


• can be found in 38 stores throughout the commonwealth

Hand-ground, -picked, -cooked and -pureed: nothing but the finest ingredients go into The Berkshire Dog treats.

Human-grade food that passes the taste test

company’s biggest customers. “We change those over every week, because they sell out so quickly,” says Tart.

Tinctures, shampoos, balms and more The Berkshire Dog is more than dog treats, and via its website,, it sells a variety of pet health and wellness products, such as balms, shampoos and CBD tinctures. These, like its food and treats, are made from whole and natural parts: castile soap, coconut oil, and cedarwood and lavender essential oils, to name a few. Meanwhile, it turns out that Milo the Lab is great for the company (he’s on the logo), just not as a lab assistant or product tester, says Kalee Tart. Because the production area is like a buffet, the Tarts have to make sure that all the ingredients and finished treats are out of his reach. “Not a picky eater,” Milo won’t turn down an offered treat, even if he’s not hungry, says Kalee Tart. “If he’s filled up on treats, he’ll sometimes bring them to his bed, and he’ll leave them there,” she says. To find the nearest seller of The Berkshire Dog biscuits and other products, go to visit, or order directly from the site.


The Berkshire Dog mascot, Milo, the reason the motherdaughter team started their business.

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The Berkshire Dog produces baked, dehydrated and other whole food pet products, including fortified peanut butter, turkey and chicken jerky, and biscuits, which go through the oven. It’s all human-grade food, and customers ask to try them all the time, says Tart. When she had her original store on Pecks Road, there was an older customer who asked that the biscuits be baked a little softer, so they wouldn’t hurt his teeth. Even though the items are meant for canines, their looks are designed to attract people, such as their colorful dog birthday cakes, smaller “pupcakes” and goody bags. Even the peanut butter biscuits sport “the little criss-crossing on it,” notes Tart. Most of the treats are crunchy and dry, which aids in their shelf life of nine to 12 months. For older dogs, The Berkshire Dog can produce softer treats, “but those have a shorter shelf life,” says Tart. Other fresh Berkshire Dog products should be kept in the fridge after opening; loose treats stay fresh up to about four weeks. These can be found throughout the region at variety and liquor stores, which are some of the



Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets

‘It was like she knew.’

At Dwyer Funeral Home, Greyce the therapy dog brings a canine brand of comfort BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER The Berkshire Eagle PITTSFIELD — The hard reality of grief is

that there are no magic words to ease the pain left behind by the loss of a loved one. But then, Greyce doesn’t use words, anyway. Instead, the cocoacolored Chesapeake Bay retriever relies on puppy-dog eyes and a wagging tail as she brings much-needed comfort to mourners at Dwyer Funeral Home in Pittsfield. Greyce joined the Dwyer Funeral Home team in 2016. Funeral director Rob Dwyer was on the lookout for an emotional support dog to attend services when Greyce’s owner and handler, Jody Tierney, reached out to suggest a partnership. “I was familiar with some funeral homes using therapy dogs, and I was very interested in doing it, but I didn’t know of anybody that had the dog,” Dwyer said. “And

then Jody approached us. She had her dog get certified, so she came to me and said, ‘What do you think?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely.’” Dwyer asked Tierney to bring Greyce by for a first meeting. “When she arrived I was with a family, so I said, ‘Why don’t you just bring the dog in and see how it goes?’” Dwyer recounted. “So she walked right in during arrangements, and the people just fell all over that dog. And the dog st sstayed stay tay ayed ed ffor or the services, a and nd to this day, they y still talk about how touching uching it was, and how w it made everyone in the he family feel more commfortable in the e building.” It’s important to note that Greyce isn’t just an adorable distraction for grieving families — she’s a highly trained, highly skilled

professional. To earn her therapy dog certification with the K9to5 National Dog Registry, Greyce was required to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen exam and undergo an extensive series of tests evaluating her temperament, obedience and stability in challenging situations. While Tierney accompanies the dog to every service, Greyce works the room on her own, sniffing out those in need of her attention. “One off th times used One ne o the e first rst ti time mes es we we u sed sed Greyce, one of the grandchildren went into the other room,” Dwyer said. “She was crying and sat on the couch, and Greyce followed her out, and put her head right on the granddaughter’s lap, and just sat there with her. It was amazing. It was like she knew.” When the COVID-19 pandemic broke, Greyce and Tierney paused their work with the funeral home, but Dwyer hopes

they’ll be able to return soon. The demand is certainly there. Over the last five years, Greyce has become something of a local celebrity. “It’s gotten to the point where a lot of the families know Greyce now,” Dwyer said. “We’ve had people approach us and make sure that Greyce was going to be here for their service.” Greyce is so popular, in fact, that Dwyer has already begun working with another dog and handler to meet the demand for a therapy animal at services. “Jody still brings Greyce to other places, like nursing homes,” Dwyer said. “So Greyce has a busy schedule. It’s nice to have a backup dog.” While Greyce might be the star of the show, Dwyer is quick to praise Tierney — who the staff affectionately refer to as “Greyce’s mother” — for bringing them together. “I’m so happy that Jody approached us,” he said. “And she stays right here for every service that Greyce is a part of. She really is a super person, and her bringing Greyce here has added so much to what we offer.” More information about Dwyer Funeral Home’s services is available at, or by calling 413-442-5094.


Rob Dwyer, funeral director at Dwyer Funeral Home, and Greyce, the therapy dog.

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All About Pets | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | All About Pets The Berkshire Eagle |

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1634 W. Housatonic St. Pittsfield, MA 01201 (413) 499-1580 Open 7 Days A Week