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July/August 2015

a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers Vol.3, No. 6


f ree!

West Michigan’s Public and Private Parks

Doggy Etiquette: Behave! An App For That: Find A Dog Park High Water = Crowded Dog Beaches

2 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

who we are Mary Ullmer (Managing Editor) has more than 30 years of experience in print and digital media. She currently is an associate editor with ESPN Internet Ventures and previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at

Publisher: 2U Ventures, LLC 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404 Managing Editor: Mary Ullmer

Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, a design, branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children, four cats and a 150-pound Lab/ Rottweiler/New Foundland mix named Gus. Email him at kevin@

Creative Director: Kevin Kyser Advertising Consultant: Kim Wood Dogs Unleashed is a bi-monthly magazine especially for dog lovers. It is available free throughout West Michigan. It also can be purchased via mail-order subscription by sending a check for $24 for 1 year or $36 for 2 years to 2U Ventures LLC/ Dogs Unleashed, 8323 Cleveland St. W, Coopersville, MI, 49404

Jennifer Waters (Photographer), owns Grumpy Pups Pet Photography. She also is a freelance writer who credits her three boxers – the original “grumpy pups” for her love of working with animals. View her work at or email her at

To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact

Kim Wood (Advertising Consultant) is a former high school and college instructor and a lifelong freelance

All material published in Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted © by 2U Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material presented in Dogs Unleashed is prohibited without written permission. Contents are for entertainment only. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, safety or performance of information or products presented. The opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or judgment of the publisher or advertisers. Find us online! Facebook: DogsUnleashedMagazine

Proudly printed in West Michigan by: Rogers Printing Inc. 3350 Main St., Ravenna, MI 49451


writer. She is the Executive Director of K-9 Care Crew of the Lakeshore and a certified Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Incorporated. She is owned by her two registered therapy dogs, Sammy & Hannah. Email her at contributors Writing: Marie Havenga (Jenison Dog Park), Susan Harrison-Wolffis (Dog Star Ranch, Dog Park Etiquette, The Tail End), Dr. Mary Kinser (Ask the Vet), Paul R. Kopenkoskey (Paw Parks App), David LeMieux (Dog Beaches), Linda Odette (Fetch), Kristie Swan (Paws-Ability), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Tricia Woolfenden (Shaggy Pines Dog Park) Copy editing: Linda Odette Photography: Katy Batdorff (Shaggy Pines Dog Park), Kendra Stanley-Mills (Dog Star Ranch) TO SUBSCRIBE To have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home, send a check ($24 for 1-year subscription, $36 for 2 years) payable to: 2U Ventures, LLC/Dogs Unleashed 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404

on the cover

4 From the Editor 6 Canine Calendar 8 Fetch! 9 The Groom Room 12 Ask the Vet 13 Paws-Ability 15 Dog Parks: Application 17 Dog Parks: Shaggy Pines 20 Dog Parks: Grand Ravines So. 22 Dog Parks: Dog Star Ranch 25 Dog Parks: Dog Beaches 28 Dog Parks: Dog Ettiquette 30 The Tail End

photo by Jennifer waters

Zuke, a 1-year-old Red Husky owned by Justin Locke of Holland, spends lunch hours at Quincy Field Dog Park, where he’s free to burn off energy and play with other dogs.

July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 3

from the editor

mary ullmer

Be aware of canine flu, but don’t fear dog parks here You’ve no doubt seen the television news reports of the canine influenza that appears to have started in Chicago and has spread to 12 states, including Michigan. Because this issue of Dogs Unleashed — planned before canine flu hit Michigan — focuses on West Michigan dog parks, and because canine flu is spread from dog to dog through contact, we felt it necessary to better inform readers about the disease. The good news: You don’t need to quarantine your dog or avoid dog parks. Dr. Christopher Buckley of the Kent County Animal Shelter said there have been three reported cases of canine

influenza in Michigan, including two in Kent County as of early June. But Buckley isn’t terribly worried about it spreading. “We’re not seeing an epidemic like in Chicago, where there are 1,700 reported cases,” Buckley said. “It is not to the point where dog parks or public places should be avoided. Dogs that come into contact with an infected dog are very likely to (contract) the disease. However, the clinical signs — coughing, eye and nasal discharge, fever and lethargy — are similar to kennel cough. “It’s difficult to discern between canine influenza and kennel cough, but if you observe the symptoms, you should contact your vet. Most dogs that come into contact with canine influenza will get sick, but most recover within two to three weeks.” That’s not to say the disease isn’t serious. There have been eight reported deaths from among the 1,700 cases in

Worry-free Pet Solutions

Chicago. Generally healthy dogs should not have any difficulty recovering from canine flu. However, Buckley warns there are certain dogs at risk of becoming very ill from being exposed to infected dogs at parks or doggy day care facilities. “Immune compromised dogs — puppies and geriatric dogs — are most at risk of serious illness,” he said. “I would say it’s reasonable for owners to be concerned, but given the few cases we have had reported, I wouldn’t advocate avoiding dog parks unless you have a young puppy or senior dog that is more susceptible to infection.” There is no vaccine to protect against this particular strain of canine influenza, Buckley said. There is a commercially available vaccine, but it is specific to a strain from several years ago and likely wouldn’t be effective with this one. Just as influenza vaccines for people change from year to year based

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4 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015


on different strains, so does a canine vaccine. If veterinarians see the symptoms of canine flu, they can test for the disease, Buckley said. But even if the test comes back positive (and the test can be expensive), it likely wouldn’t change the outcome much. “It really doesn’t change the treatment plan,” Buckley said. “It would be the same treatment for respiratory disease in general. If they are dehydrated, they may require hospitalization with fluid therapy. It’s more likely your vet will give you antibiotics.” If you’re a regular at dog parks, you should take precautions. Make sure your dog is vaccinated and on a heartworm preventative. Buckley also recommends fecal tests every six months to ensure they haven’t picked up any parasites. And because canine flu is highly contagious, it’s a good idea to bring your own portable water dish to the park. “The communal water dishes that many dog parks have are something you certainly want to consider avoiding,” Buckley said. “Every dog has their nose

in the dish, and that’s one way it can spread.” Buckley said the travel history of the reported cases in Michigan — two in Kent County and one in Montcalm County — isn’t known. He expects there may be more cases as summer kicks in, particularly with people and their dogs from Chicago vacationing in Michigan. For those traveling to the Chicago area with their dogs, Buckley recommends avoiding dog parks and doggy day care centers. He also advocates licensing your dog, a law in Michigan. “We are pushing dog licensing,” Buckley said. “Shelters are most at risk for respiratory infections because of strays that are brought in. We have 100 dogs in the building right now. Sooner or later, a dog will come in with it. If we do have a dog with respiratory disease, we isolate until it improves. “But if your dog is picked up and has a license, we’ll bring the dog right back to your home, and it doesn’t have to come to the shelter and sit here for several days waiting for you to find it.”



Full Service Animal Care • Pharmacy • Surgery • Dental • Lab • Xray • Laser • Boarding • Grooming

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Veterinary Technicians help care for animals, educate pet owners, and even assist in surgery. If you love animals, then you’ll love this career.

(231) 777-5200



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VISIT: 1903 Marquette Ave., Muskegon, MI 49442




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CANINE CALENDAR To submit entries for Canine Calendar, please include the name and location of the event, start time, cost, contact information and any details regarding the event to:



Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Hospice of North Ottawa, 1061 S. Beacon, Suite 100, Grand Haven. A pet-loss grief-support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 7223721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held Aug. 4.


Wipe Out the Shelter Adopt-a-thon, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. The third annual event will feature special adoption pricing in an effort to find homes for the amazing animals at HSWM. For information, visit, call

(616) 453-8900 or email adoptions@

Humane Society Summer Camps


Toddler Tails, 10-10:45 a.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Designed for ages 2-4 and includes stories, activities, crafts and animal interactions. Cost is $5 per family. Contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or Also held June 9.

When: All summer long Where: Humane Society of West Michigan, 3044 Wilson NW, Grand Rapids Ages: 5 to 17 Cost: Varies About: Don’t miss out on the coolest summer camps around, and spend your summer with the animals at the Humane Society of West Michigan. For more information and to register for any of the camps, visit hswestmi. org or contact Jen Self-Aulgur at (616)-791-8066 or jaulgur@


Baby Ready Pets, noon-2 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. A workshop to help prepare your pet for the arrival of your bundle of joy. With a little training and assistance, you can make it a safe and stress-free experience for the whole family. Contact Jen SelfAulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@


Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Scolnik Healing Center, 888 Terrace St., Muskegon. Petloss grief-support group presented

by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held Aug. 17.



6 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015



Bellwether Harbor Pet Pals, 9 a.m.-noon, Bellwether Harbor, 7645 West 48th Street, Fremont. A great opportunity for kids ages 8-14 who are too young to volunteer. The hands-on Humane Education Program teaches kids shelter/home animal health care, dog grooming techniques, dog training and agility and animal safety. Cost is $25. Register with Bellwether to hold a spot (limit 20 students). Call Carmen Froehle (231) 924-9230 or visit


Carol’s Ferals Barn Sale, 9 a.m. on the 13th and 1 p.m. on the 14th, 261 19 Mile Road NE, Cedar Springs. A huge barn sale to benefit Carol’s Ferals. If you have items you’d like to donate (clothing, household items, toys, tools, books, media, etc.), contact Jessica at (616) 915-5926 to arrange dropoff in Cedar Springs or NE Grand Rapids. For more information,

go to events/774754145934222/


Tails On Trails & Ales, 6-10 p.m., Yacht Basin Marina, 1866 Ottawa Beach Road, Holland. A dog walk and costume contest plus an outdoor party featuring beer, food trucks, silent auction and music to benefit Harbor Humane Society. Tickets are $10. Visit harborhumane. org/tailsontrailsandales for more information. For sponsorship and auction donation information, contact Sarah Uzarski, development@


Wag n’ Walk, 9 a.m.-noon, Allegan Sports Complex, Hooker Street at the dead end of 29th Street, Allegan. A onemile walk (shorter for seniors/little dogs), vendor booths, treats, raffle prizes and adoptable shelter dogs. Event benefits Wishbone Pet Rescue. Register at the Allegan Shelter or Wishbone House in Douglas, or online at

West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic

6130 Airline Road Fruitport, MI 49415




WALK I N NAI L TRIMS WELCOME $5.00. July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 7



A PET-SAFE LAWN What it is: Dogs don’t just eat what’s in their bowl. That’s why Playsafe has created a chemical-­free fertilizer for your lawn. According to Advanced Organics, which makes the fertilizer, a study found 75 percent of dogs tested had significant amounts of lawn chemicals in their urine. But wait, there’s more: ​The 100 percent natural and organic fertilizer is not only safe for your pets, but your family, too. Fetch it:​Cost is $36.99 for a bag that covers 6,000 square feet. Find it at Daisy’s Circle in Coopersville and west Michigan Pet Supplies Plus Stores.

NIGHTTIME WALKS GET BRIGHTER What it is:​GoMotion’s Litebelt 100 will keep you and your dog safe when taking walks in the dark. It attaches to your waist, is lightweight and uses three AA batteries. But wait, there’s more: ​It’s more convenient than carrying a flashlight, has an adjustable beam angle and there are pockets for waste bags and cell phones. Red flashing lights are on the back side of the belt so you’re seen from behind. Fetch it:​Cost is $59.95 at

START MUSHING What it is: U ​ ser friendly dogpowered scooters and trikes to get you started if you’ve ever wanted to try mushing. But wait, there’s more: ​Four styles are available for one to four dogs and different types of surfaces. Fetch it: ​Go to, where several videos are available to view just how it works. Cost ranges from $250 to $725 with attachments extra.

HERE’S MY DOGGIE CARD What is it:​Charming business cards with different dog designs that will make customers remember you. But wait, there’s more: ​You’ll find many more designs by simply searching for “pet business cards” at Fetch it: ​For 100 cards, it’ll cost you $17.96. Order them at

8 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

the groom room

melissa verplank

Got bugs? Understanding life cycle is key to control Fleas and ticks, the most common external parasites, can infest dogs and cats at any time of the year. They are a serious, direct health problem to any pet. When a dog or cat is neglected or allowed to become heavily infested, it also becomes vulnerable to other serious illnesses. Fleas and ticks don’t live on a dog for long, just long enough to bite and get the blood meals they need to breed. When their eggs are in your house, your carpeting, drapes, furniture, dog bedding, baseboards, floor cracks and crevices can be infested. Once flea and tick eggs hatch, they complete their life cycle and wait for a new host to infest or re-infest. Eventually, the house, yard or kennel can become a breeding ground for eggs and larvae. The best flea and tick control is prevention. Examine every pet often (especially where these pesky creatures like to hide) to avoid the possibility of heavy infestation. It is important to treat the host and the environment and to break the life cycle of the parasites. Check with your groomer, veterinarian or pest exterminator about flea and tick control measures for all pets, the home and yard. Understanding their life cycles is important for control of fleas and ticks. While there are products to effectively control them, this is only part of a complete program. The more important part is to stop the life cycle of the larvae. A word of caution: Never use a flea treatment formulated for dogs on cats. Many products are highly toxic to felines and can kill them.

Fleas These blood-sucking parasites are small, brown and flattened from side to side. Females are slightly larger than males. They are easy to spot on smoothcoated dogs but often are difficult to see on long-coated pets. The first obvious sign your pet has fleas is that it scratches more than normal. You’ll see bugs scurrying through the coat or see small, black specks on the skin or in the hair. The specks are flea waste, and it’s mostly made up of blood sucked from your dog. Fleas do not stay in one place for long and their amazing jumping talents make control difficult. Typical signs of fleas on a pet: • Scratching • Chewing • Head shaking • Little red skin bumps • Small black specks of flea dirt (excrement) near the skin Fleas are an environmental problem, not a pet problem. You will see the fleas on the pet, but the ones you see are just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll only see about one percent on the pet, not the other 99 percent in the pet’s environment. There’s no way to beat a flea problem by treating only FLEA LIFECYCLE

the pet — you also must treat the environment. Fleas, signs of fleas or a skin reaction to fleas may be present on a single dog in your household, while your other pets seem fine. Don’t think the fight stops there — you have to treat all the pets, as well as the environment, to get rid of fleas. The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Adult females lay eggs in the pet’s coat. The eggs fall to the ground or in the dog’s bedding, where they hatch. The eggs hatch into larvae in 2 to 12 days, depending on the temperature and humidity in the area. The larvae grow in dark, warm places (like your carpet), feeding on food crumbs and animal hairs. Grown larvae spin small cocoons and within a few days to several weeks (depending on the weather) hatch into hungry adult fleas. Flea bites can be serious. When fleas bite, they insert a syringe-like mouth into the pet’s skin, which causes severe itching. Flea bites can be so irritating that dogs often develop a hypersensitivity to flea saliva. This chronic condition is called flea allergy dermatitis. The dog’s fierce scratching and biting produces loss of hair and causes the skin to become thick, red and infected. This condition tends to occur most often on the back, just in front of the tail, on the belly and between the legs. Flea allergy dermatitis requires treatment by a veterinarian. Ticks There are more than 800 species of ticks — 160 species of soft ticks and 650 species of hard ticks. Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of their hosts. Feeding hard ticks can stay attached for several days to several weeks. Soft ticks only feed for a few minutes to a few hours. Ticks can be almost microscopic or be easily seen with the naked eye. Their size and

July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 9

the groom room

melissa verplank

shape depends on the species, the stage of their life cycle and whether or not they are engorged with a blood meal. There are five species common to the United States: Deer tick, brown dog tick, lone star tick, American dog tick and western black-legged tick. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases. A few can affect both pets and people. These diseases are often mistaken for other conditions and cannot be accurately diagnosed without a trip to the veterinarian. Tick bites on dogs are hard to spot. Signs of tick disease may not appear for 7 to 21 days after a tick bite, which makes regular screening for both people and pets a must. Four of the common diseases transmitted by ticks are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine anaplasmosis and canine ehrlichiosis. Dogs pick up ticks by running through infested woods, fields, grass, bushes, damp areas and sandy beaches. The ticks attach themselves to the animals’ skin and feed on blood. Both male and female ticks can be found on all areas of the pet. However, they will generally seek hiding areas where they will not be easily dislodged as the pet grooms itself. Common hiding areas are the face, in the folds of the ears, between the toes, under the front legs and in the groin area. After ticks mate, the female remains attached to the pet for several days, sucking the dog’s blood and growing up to 10 times her normal size. She then drops off of her host and moves to a quiet spot to lay eggs. Each adult female tick can lay from 1,000 to 5,000 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch into larvae or “seed ticks” after an incubation period of 3 to 8 weeks, depending on temperature and humidity. To complete their life cycle, the seed ticks become nymphs, which grow into adults. When a tick bites, it forces its barbed mouth deep into the skin. The barbed mouth prevents the tick from being easily pulled out. In a severe infestation, ticks can cause anemia. It 10 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015


illustrations: Lisa VanSweden

can happen quickly because they ingest so much of a dog’s blood. Removing ticks from a dog • Examine the dog’s body thoroughly. Check the entire dog, paying close attention to the area ticks like to hide. • Before removing the tick, apply a cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol or apply a small amount of flea/tick spray. This will help paralyze and asphyxiate the tick, causing it to release its barbed-mouth. • All parts of the tick should be pulled out, including the head. The tick should not be crushed and the person removing it should not touch it with bare hands, as fluids may contain bacteria. • Carefully grasp a tick with tweezers or forceps as close to the skin as possible. If using your fingers, wear thin rubber gloves or use a tissue to shield your skin. • Do not twist the tick to remove it — pull it straight out. Be sure all parts of the tick are removed and that the head does not break off, remaining in the skin to cause infection. • After removing the tick, apply an antiseptic to the area on the dog. • Burn removed ticks immediately or

flush them down the toilet. Do not crush them. • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing ticks. Flea and tick control Today’s insecticides have made great advancements. Putting an end to a flea or tick infestation requires treating the pet itself, the home, yard and sometimes the car with an effective product. Getting rid of adult fleas and ticks from a pet is not enough, because eggs and larvae like to hide. The growth process may take months, so thoroughness and perseverance are the keys to elimination. There are a variety of products that prevent infestation of external parasites. The most comprehensive products work to kill all fleas and ticks to break the life cycle. These products come in shampoos, spot-ons, sprays, wipes, dips, collars, foggers and dusts. Some act as repellents. Others kill adult fleas and ticks. Still others attack the immature fleas, preventing them from developing into adults that reproduce. Some products do all three. To select the best product, always read the label carefully

and follow directions exactly, or consult your veterinarian. Never use products intended only for dogs on cats. Use a good insecticide for the home. Wash pet bedding in hot, soapy water on a weekly basis. Flea eggs can fall from pets onto the carpet or anywhere in the house, so vacuum daily — remembering to immediately empty the vacuum cleaner canister outside into a sealed bag. If your vacuum uses a bag, seal it and throw it away after vacuuming or the fleas will continue to live in your vacuum. Clean carpets with a steam cleaner from time to time. Hard floors need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Don’t forget to treat the yard as well. To create an effective plan for external parasites, you need to stop the life cycle of the pests. Always read the directions for proper use and clearly understand what products are compatible. Most plans focus on four steps: 1. Treat the pet • Wash the pet with a flea and tick shampoo • Powder • Spray

• Oral medications 2. Treat the environment • Premise sprays • Foggers and/or flea bombs • Home or yard dust • In the home, vacuum regularly and steam clean carpets 3. Prevent reinfestation • Topical treatment (up to 30 days normally) • Oral treatment • Flea sprays 4. Re-treat the pet and the environment in 2 to 4 weeks or in accordance with product directions. Melissa Verplank has more than 30 years of experience in the pet industry. She has won numerous national and international awards for her mastery of grooming and is author of the award-winning books “Notes From the Grooming Table” and “Theory of Five.” She also is creator of Learn2GroomDogs. com, an online educational video library for pet grooming, and has owned multiple West Michigan pet companies, including Paragon School of Pet Grooming and Whiskers Pet Resort and Spa.

Only the best for your best friend! 211 Washington Ave Grand Haven, MI 49417 (616) 935- 9588 Phone 616-935-9588

Email: 211 Washington Ave

Grand Haven, MI 49417


Harbor Humane Society’s

Party on the Lake! Two events. One Price!


Costume Contest Dog Walk & Outdoor Party on Lake Macatawa (Come to one or both! )

When: Friday August 21, 2015 6:00pm-10:00pm

Beer. Food Trucks. Music.

Where: Yacht Basin Marina

We are always accepting sponsorships & auction items. Please contact Sarah Uzarski, at 1866 Ottawa Beach Road, Holland, MI 49424 July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 11


dr. mary kinser

Simple tips to make dog park visits safe and enjoyable Dog parks can provide a wonderful opportunity for exercise and socialization for your dog. The following tips will help ensure a positive experience. Before you go • Your dog should be healthy. If he or she hasn’t been to the veterinarian in a while, it is a good idea to get a checkup. • Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations, including rabies, DHLPP, and Bordetella. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, you may also wish to have him or her vaccinated for Lyme disease. • Administer proper heartworm, intestinal parasite and flea and tick preventives. • Puppies that have not completed their

full series of vaccinations should be socialized with other dogs elsewhere (puppy class, friends’ and neighbors’ dogs) until they are fully vaccinated. • Avoid dog parks for intact male dogs and females in heat. • Your dog should know and obey basic commands, especially recall (“come”) and sit/stay. • Scope out the park ahead of time without your dog so you get a feel for what to expect. Is there a separate area for large and small dogs? Are dogs getting along? Is there shade available? Are waste bags provided? • Bring along water for yourself and your dog if there isn’t any readily available, and avoid the hottest parts of the day, or skip it altogether if it’s too hot. Once you’re there • Observe for a minute or two before turning your dog loose to make sure dogs are playing nicely, and there aren’t any conflicts.

• Keep a close eye on your dog and be ready to intervene if a conflict arises. Keep your leash with you and be ready to move your dog to another part of the park or out of the park if the situation escalates. • If a fight does occur, sometimes simply making loud noises will interrupt a fight. If a hose is available, spray the dogs with water. If not, it’s best for the owners of both dogs to separate the dogs at the same time. Avoid grabbing the collar and instead pull your dog backward by the back legs (up near the hips). Put the leash on and call it quits for the day. A dog park can be a great experience if you keep basic safety tips in mind. Mary Kinser, DVM, lives in Greenville with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, a horse, a goat, and several barn cats and chickens. She has a special interest in canine and feline dentistry at Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital.

Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital • Wellness Exams • Dentistry • Diagnostics • Specialty & General Surgery • Intensive Care

• Spay & Neuter • Radiology • Physical Rehabilitation • Dog Training • Boarding • Dog Daycare You can get more expert advice in Dr. Comrie’s “Ask the Vet” column.

616-863-9390 • • 4210 14 Mile Road • Rockford 12 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

Serving Muskegon and Ottawa counties Helping Pet Parents Understand Pet Cremation & Burial Plans Also offering

Pet Loss Grief Support

Jodi M. Clock, owner/president 1469 Peck Street • Muskegon, MI 49441 (231) 722-3721



Unique training project targets successful adoptions Project 616 is an unprecedented cooperative effort between three West Michigan organizations: Whiskers Resort, Pet Spa and University, Kent County Animal Shelter and Vicky’s Pet Connection. Together we are shining a light on six shelter dogs and providing training to help them find success in their adoptive homes. Six dogs from KCAS are participating in a 6-week in-residence training program, with the mission to highlight the value of shelter dogs as companions and prepare them for a successful adoption.

during the week as well. We’re working toward helping each dog achieve basic good manners: sit, down, stay and leash walking. We also are address problem behaviors as well as get a clearer picture of each dog’s personality. Once adopted, training support will be offered to help these dogs and their new people adjust. Working to train new behaviors requires building a rapport. It is important to point out that respect is earned, not forced. While force can create a form of inhibition that to an unknowing or untrained eye appears to be change, it is an illusion. Fallout occurs somewhere along the way. Trainers are sometimes presented with odd, seemingly disconnected behaviors. Upon deeper investigation, methods that caused fear, pain or confusion often are revealed. How we train matters.

Each dog comes with a history. Our duty is to assess the dogs’ abilities and guide them forward. Suppositions and projections can muddy the waters and hold the dog back from growing. While the past may inform who they are now, dogs often are much better at living in the moment than we are. Six weeks will not make these dogs perfect. There will be practice and progress, but not perfection. Training provides a road map, but a caring and mutually respectful human/ dog relationship is the true vehicle of a successful life. Whiskers University trainers work with the dogs daily. Thursday evenings, volunteers from Vicky’s Pet Connection and IC Pawz at the Kent County Animal Shelter attend a class in which all dogs work together. Volunteers are spending time training with their dog

6 DOGS | 1 MISSION | 6 WEEKS project


In the spirit of a love for dogs, a passion for rescue, and the power of collaboration, Whiskers University, Vicky’s Pet Connection and the Kent County Animal Shelter have teamed up to create Project 616. 6 dogs selected from the Kent County Animal Shelter are participating in a 6-week, in-residence training program at Whiskers University. The mission of the Project is to highlight the value of shelter dogs as companions, focus on the benefits of compassionate training to prepare them for a successful, life-long adoption, and to educate our community about the personal rewards of rescuing a dog. Bella


Tobi Pete



Photos courtesy of Grumpy Pups Pet Photography

These 6 amazing dogs are available for adoption NOW through Vicky’s Pet Connection! Please visit for more information about the program, the dogs, and how to adopt a 616 dog! July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 13

Each dog is working on a martingale collar and standard leash. Also referred to as a limited slip collar, the martingale is used as a precaution to prevent backing out and getting loose. The collar and leash are used to keep the dog safe, not as instruments of control. Other tools we use when needed include a front clip harness to take pressure off of the neck and a Thundershirt to reduce anxiety. Stuffed frozen Kongs and a variety of food dispensing toys give the dogs busy work. Agility equipment has been incorporated to keep training challenging and fun. While we can offer a variety of enrichment activities, what we can’t do is simulate a home environment. Foster caregivers and shelters can tell you how a dog behaves and responds in the environment they are in. Evaluation tools can help create Take this time a profile. Once in an adoptive home, to show your however, there are variables notpets present how much you love and in shelters and foster homes. The appreciate dog will be adjusting to anotherthem! life 14

GRAND HAVEN TRIBUNE Tuesday, May 26, 2015

change which, in the beginning, often causes them to suppress their natural personality. The time it takes for the dog to get comfortable varies. For some, it is no more than a day or two. Others can take months. Getting started on the right paw Dogs thrive on routine and many find comfort in predictability. There are things adopters can do from the start to help set the stage for success: • Train. Begin building your relationship with behavioral expectations in mind. Often people get caught up in the back story and put too few parameters on behavior. Be patient, consistent and clear with your training interactions. • Abbreviate simulations of your schedule. Adopting a dog before a weekend or holiday is a fine idea, but remember that when that time ends there will be yet another change occurring. Introduce factors that simulate your natural daily activities to gauge your dog’s adaptability.

Did you know May is National Pet Month?

• Provide appropriate exercise. It’s important to overall health and can be a great bonding experience. Whether adopting or raising a puppy, it’s best to start out tight, then loosen restrictions. Allowing too many freedoms can be confusing and allows too many chances for error. Being consistent and firm does not mean harsh or uncaring. Avoid the erroneous and outdated information on dominance and showing a dog “who’s boss.” Structure your new dog’s home with maximum opportunities for success. Project 616 is a community effort. Every person who pays taxes supports the care of shelter animals. By coming together and highlighting the effectiveness of humane relationshipbased training, we are working toward a day when all dogs get and keep a home. Kristie Swan, a certified professional dog trainer, is head trainer and manager at Whiskers University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Contact her at (616) 575-5660 or kswan@

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parks application

Can’t find a park? West Michigan woman creates an app for that Cindy Vannoy spends an afternoon at Kirk Park in West Olive with her American Staffordshire Terrier mixes Luna, left, and Chopper. By Paul R. Kopenkoskey PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS


er affection for dogs is a key reason why Cindy Vannoy spent mega hours developing an interactive iPhone mobile application she dubbed Paw Parks. The app helps dog owners track the location of dog parks throughout the west Michigan region and beyond, learn of the amenities they offer and post their own reviews. “I’m crazy for dogs,” said Vannoy, who lives in West Olive with her husband, Nathan, and their American pit bull mix, Chopper, and Luna, an American Staffordshire terrier mix. “And this app will help users locate dog parks all over the U.S. and the world. There currently are only a handful of dogs parks in the database outside of the U.S. If any parks are missing, people can add them themselves.” Vannoy said her app was developed from a desire to see dogs enjoy plenty of exercise. She said she believes many dog owners are unaware of where all the dog parks are located and the varied amenities each one offers. “People may know where a couple of dog parks are or they can live in the

area and may not know they even exist,” Vannoy said. “A lot of them are off-leash parks.” Paw Parks uses the navigational Global Positioning System to obtain the phone user’s current location. It then displays a map with “pins” indicating nearby parks and, if they wish, parks in other locations. Many are not exclusively dog parks per se, but public parks that allow dogs, typically on a leash. The app reveals dog parks, or parks that allow dogs. The parks offer a mixed bag of amenities, from private dog parks that provide lighted and plowed trails for evening and winter use and a sand pile for climbing and digging, to rustic, off-the-beaten path trails. “The phone will show where parks are in your area,” Vannoy said, “but you can also move it around with your finger for other parks not within your vicinity, basically for areas not where you are at the moment.”

After users click on a particular park, they can check out a description, amenities list, photos, reviews and comments. The amenities and reviews also can help dog owners determine which parks they feel are not right for their pooches. They may have a dog who doesn’t know when to stop running, so a park with a fence is a wise option. Small dog owners may prefer a park with a designated small dog area. Paw Parks allows users to create a profile of their dog, their pet’s favorite food, birthday and photo. Users also can view a history of photos they’ve posted, checkins and quick links to their favorite parks. Vannoy intentionally designed the app so users can “crowdsource” data, meaning Paw Parks solicits contributions from people online who add new dog park locations and information. Users also can click on “bark” if they want to post a comment or a review. Clicking on the “heart” icon indicates it’s a personal favorite park. “Paw Parks only gets better when July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 15

users add parks,” said Vannoy, a data base administrator for the Holland Board of Public Works. “It’s really an interactive app,” Vannoy said. “If the dog friendly area is not already on the map, users can easily add it. They can also become ‘Top-Dog’ of the park by checking in on the app, and mark a park as their favorite.” Vannoy said she sought to have Paw Parks designed with a fresh clean look and user friendly navigation to draw users into downloading and using the app. Graphic designer Sara Klele, owner of Grand Rapids-based Neapolitan & Co., created Paw Parks’ screens and icon. The two met on a regular basis and discussed navigation, screen design, colors and function. Once finalized, Vannoy worked on coding the functionality while Klele worked on graphics and design. “Writing the iOS app was a total learning curve,” Vannoy said. “I spent 500 hours on this project.” Vannoy designed Paw Parks as a

16 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

project to earn her master of science degree in computer information systems from Grand Valley State University in December 2014. Vannoy often logs onto Goggle Analytics, a free website tracking tool. It provides a real-time dashboard showing the number of active users, active screens and the device used to navigate the Paw Parks application. “It’s so I know the number of people who’ve downloaded my app and the time they used it,” Vannoy said. “I’d like to get to the point where I have so many users, people are just adding parks.” So far, 833 parks are listed in Paw Parks, with 146 in Michigan. Vannoy said the app is averaging about 100 downloads per week, and there had been about 1,200 downloads at press time. Because Paw Parks counts on the public to input information, she encourages dog owners to add their favorite parks if they’re not already listed, or to add additional information such as amenities, comments and reviews for parks already on the list.

PAW PARKS What: Paw Parks is free iPhone application available for downloading at https://itunes. Paw Parks also works with iPad tablets. An app for Android phones may be designed later this year. More information: To learn more about Paw Parks, visit http://www.



Safe, fun and peaceful environment is top priority at Shaggy Pines

Members walk their dogs through the pine tree forest at Shaggy Pines, a 20-acre year-round private dog park in Ada.


BY TRICIA WOOLFENDEN photos by Katy batdorff

n the human realm, a prestigious members-only country club might be the sort of place where a cloth napkin is carefully placed atop a lap to protect a pair of white pants from an errant mustard or wine stain. In the dog-world version of a private club, such a sartorial selection wouldn’t stand a chance, napkin or no. At the Shaggy Pines Dog Park in Ada — affectionately referred to by some members as a “country club for dogs” — dogs are given leeway to act like, well, dogs. Four-legged members are allowed to chase and tussle with one another on rolling hills. They’re free to leisurely explore wooded trails that wind through the namesake tall pines. They’re also welcome to splash through the water and roll in the mud of a human-made swimming pond (hence the earlier warning about ill-fated light-colored wardrobes). This canine utopia doesn’t come without its constraints, however. To enjoy this level of freedom, dogs (or

more precisely, their owners) must first clear a few hurdles. Every dog must meet a strict set of health and behavioral standards. “We have a temperament test to rule out obvious signs of aggression,” said park founder and owner, Pam Stanley, who said members are “willing to pay” for safety features and benefits like the strictly enforced vaccination policy. Members say the enrollment process provides a peaceful environment and peace of mind when investing in membership to the expansive private park. The park covers 20 acres, and 15 acres are fenced in. “They do a nice job of making sure the dogs here are friendly and not aggressive,” said member Gary Sage, who regularly visits with his Australian Shepherd, Buddy. Tracy Niewiek echoes that sentiment. She joined the park in the early spring of 2014, when her Golden Retriever, Hank, was a puppy. Hank and Buddy met at the park, where their owners said the two dogs became fast friends and favorite playmates. On a recent sunny afternoon, the two demonstrated the point, splashing and

wrestling on the shore of the pond. “You can feel comfortable bringing a puppy here,” Niewiek said. Indeed, the park caters to dogs of all shapes and sizes, with various spaces designed to accommodate specific needs, from the dig friendly sands of Doggy Mountain to the 30-pound-andunder zone that’s reserved for small dogs. A flexible fenced-in area allows for obedience and agility classes, birthday parties and other special events. While people like Niewiek and Sage join Shaggy Pines for the benefit of their dogs, they also get to enjoy the auxiliary benefits of a high-end dog park. This includes lighted/plowed paths for year-round use, comfortable seating areas and a mile-long jogging/hiking path to encourage dog and owner fitness. Clubhouse amenities include a coffee bar, lounge and self-serve dog bathtubs for post-swim rinses, plus a small shop. For an additional fee, members and non-members alike can take advantage of the Shaggy Shuttle. This bus service picks up and drops off dogs from select locations, with 90 minutes of playtime at the park in between. July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 17

There’s also the social aspect to consider. “If you come at the same time (during the week), you get to know the other owners,” Niewiek said, though she and Sage are the first to admit that humans get to know other dogs long before they meet other people. “You don’t always know the human’s name,” Niewiek said with a laugh. The dog-centric space is a dreamcome-true for creator Stanley, who developed the park in response to what she saw as a growing need in the community. “I used to have a pet-sitting business, and I was always looking for places to take dogs,” Stanley said. “The 15-, 20-minute walks weren’t doing the trick.” During a visit to Florida, Stanley scoped out a private dog park and “fell in love with it.” She returned to Michigan with the goal of designing a park that would “fill a need for active dogs” while also providing good socialization and a great atmosphere for humans. Her efforts have captured local buzz — there’s a membership roster of roughly 300 dogs — and national attention. In November 2014, Shaggy

18 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

SHAGGY PINES DOG PARK Location: 3895 Cherry Lane, Ada (just south of 36th Street), 49301 Hours: The park is open 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. Clubhouse is open 2 – 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday. Services: Shaggy Shuttle pick up and drop off; special events area for agility training, obedience classes and community events, birthday parties; self-serve dog wash tubs and drying areas; doggy store; coffee bar and lounge area. Park features: 15 acres of fenced-in grounds, one-mile jogging/hiking trail, lighted trails (plowed for winter use), two large dry dog areas, Doggy Mountain sand pile for climbing and digging, large human-made dog swimming pond, Sunset Deck with music and lounge chairs overlooking pond, strategically located water stations, enclosed small dog area. Membership: Packages start at $37/month and $350-$426/year; rates increase as dogs are added. All new memberships require a one-time $39 initiation fee. Lifetime platinum membership available for $1,278. Day passes available for select time frames. Learn more: Call (616) 676-9464 or go to or Facebook (Shaggy Pines Dog Park).

Pines was named in a Huffington Post list of the nine best dog parks in the United States. Beneful, a dog food and treats brand of Purina, teamed up with the Huffington Post to provide the list. In its review, the Huffington Post said of Shaggy Pines:

“If you want to get in this doggy door, you’ll have to get past a park bouncer. Four-legged attendees are temperament-tested, and owners must show various proofs of vaccination before entering. But it’s completely worth it.”

DOG-SPECIFIC PARKS n Animal Hospital of Lowell Dog Park (Public) Where: Stoney Lakeside Park, located on Bowes Road, Lowell The scoop: The free, 31,000-square foot off-leash area is divided into separate areas for large and small dogs. Open year-round during daylight hours, the park is equipped with benches and bag dispensers for cleaning up dog waste. Park users are asked to park in the main Stoney Lakeside Park parking lot. n Covell Dog Park (Public) Where: Northwest Grand Rapids at the intersection of Bridge Street and Covell Avenue The scoop: One-acre offleash dog park. No small dog section. n Hillcrest Dog Park (Public) Where: 1309 Lyon St. NE, Grand Rapids The scoop: Features two off-leash fenced enclosed areas, one for small dogs and puppies and the other for larger dogs.

n Wyoming Dog Park (Semi-public) Where: 1414 Nagel, located at Marquette Park, north of Kimble Stadium The scoop: All dogs must be pre-registered/members with Wyoming Parks and Recreation. Cost is $12 per dog annually for Wyoming residents, $24 for nonresidents. Key fob entry. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. DOG FRIENDLY PARKS n Bettes Memorial (Public) Where: 2455 13 Mile Road, Sparta The scoop: Leash and cleanup required in this undeveloped park. n Brewer Park (Public) Where: 399 84th Street, Byron Center The scoop: Leash required along the rolling landscape of Earle Brewer Park.

Where: 8748 Je-Ne-Be Drive, Rockford The scoop: Dogs on leash only. n Grose Park (Public) Where: 22200 24th Ave., Casnovia

Where: Richardson-Sowerby Park, Rockford

The scoop: Dogs allowed on wooded trails only from May 1-Sept. 30. Dogs not permitted on the beach or lakefront, picnic and playground areas, park buildings, restrooms, ball field or volleyball courts.

n Shaggy Pines Dog Park (Private) Where: 3895 Cherry Lane Ave. SE, Ada The scoop: Fifteen acres of fenced-in grounds, includes one-mile jogging/hiking trail, lighted and plowed trails, dog swimming pond, dedicated small-dog area and more.

n Luton Park (Public) Where: 6125 Kies Street, Rockford The scoop: Leash and clean up afterward required for this 264-acre park with 9.7 miles of interconnected trails. This is a family friendly, multi-use park. n Long Lake (Public) Where: 1374 Krauskopf NE, Sparta The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.


kent co.

The scoop: Dogs allowed but leash and cleanup are required. n Paris Park (Public) Where: 3213 60th Street, Kentwood The scoop: Leash required for this undeveloped 70-acre park with a paved pathway. n Provin Trails (Public) Where: 2900 4 Mile Road, Grand Rapids Township The scoop: Dogs allowed with required leash at this jointly operated park with the City of Grand Rapids. Trails offer a challenging walk. n Wahlfield Park (Public)

n Millennium Park (Public)

Where: 6811 Alpine Ave., Alpine Township

Where: 1415 Maynard Ave. SW, Walker

The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

n Brower Lake Nature Preserve (Public)

n Rockford Dog Park (Public)

The scoop: The park provides a safe place for dogs to play and socialize. Handlers must be 18 years old and a maximum of two dogs per handler is allowed.

The scoop: Kent Trails is a 15-mile, non-motorized trail that is great for walking dogs. Five main access points to the trail: Johnson Park, John Ball Park, Douglas Walker Park, Millennium Park and in Byron Center at 84th Street.

n Johnson Park (Public) Where: 2600 Wilson Ave., Walker The scoop: Dogs allowed but leash and cleanup are required. n Kent Trails (Public) Where: Covers more than 15 miles from Byron Center to Grand Rapids

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dog parks

grand ravines south

Jenison-area dog park set for autumn opening



new pup park in Jenison is expected to open this fall. The 21-acre enclosed dog park will include separated fenced areas for small and large dogs, and fenced trails for off-leash walking. “We know how important dogs are to their owners in Ottawa County, and we want to a build a park that reflects that,” said Jessica VanGinhoven, communications specialist for Ottawa County Parks & Recreation. The grand opening celebration for Grand Ravines South is slated for Sept. 26. VanGinhoven said she hopes to have live music, beer, a mobile vaccination clinic and vendors on hand as part of the celebration. There is plenty to celebrate — this will be the first designated dog park in the Ottawa County parks system. Other parks in the county are run by either the city, village or township. And ... drum roll here… it’s free. VanGinhoven said she and her staff listened to public requests, then went into action. “There’s a need,” she said. “It will be the largest off-leash dog park that is completely free to the public in this county and neighboring counties.” The Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission has allocated $75,000 toward initial construction, but that will pay only for fencing and trails. VanGinhoven said the goal is to raise about double that amount to provide more amenities such as lighting, additional paved paths, benches, picnic tables and shelter areas. The project will be completed in phases, with total cost expected to be more than $400,000, according to VanGinhoven. Much of that money will be used for modern restroom facilities. Chow Hound, a west Michigan pet product retailer, is a major player in the fundraising. 20 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

Jenison store manager Josh Wiser said as of mid-May, about $10,300 had been raised through Chow Hound stores. Chow Hound is matching customer donations. “There are a lot of pet lovers in this area,” Wiser said. “This will give them an outlet to go out and enjoy their pets because right now, there’s really no place to bring dogs in (the Jenison) area.” Donations may be made at any

Chow Hound location, online at https:// or by sending a check to the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission with “dog park” in the memo line to: Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission, Attn. Kyle Roffey, 12220 Fillmore St., West Olive, MI, 49460. Donations of $100 or more fetch a personalized brick at the park.

DOG SPECIFIC PARKS n Doggie Detailing and Resort (Private) Where: 13894 Farm Drive, Robinson Township The scoop: Daycare for dogs. Staff meets with every dog to make sure he or she will play nice with the others. Dogs are free to roam and play in a homelike environment. n Grand Ravines South (Public) Where: 3991 Fillmore, Jenison The scoop: The free 21-acre enclosed park opens Sept. 26 and will feature separated fenced areas for large and small dogs as well as fenced trails for off-leash walking. n Park Township Dog Park (Public) Where: Ottawa Beach Road, Holland. Off Ottawa Beach Road just west of 152nd Ave, enter the Ottawa County Fairgrounds entrance, follow signs. The scoop: Dogs must be on leash to and from the staging area. Open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. n Quincy Field Dog Park (Public) Where: N. 144th Avenue, Holland Charter Township The scoop: The 5-acre offleash dog park is completely fenced with double-gated entrances, separate areas for large dogs and small dogs (under 25 pounds), asphalt walking paths, tables and benches, plenty of security lighting and drinking fountains with dog bowls. South Haven Dog Park (Private) Where: 212 Monroe Street, South Haven The scoop: Two fenced areas, one for large dogs and another for small dogs. Annual $25 membership allows access to the park for one year as well as voting rights in the organization. DOG FRIENDLY PARKS Adams Street Landing (Public)

Where: 10363 Adams Street, Holland The scoop: A 10-acre park located along the Macatawa River that offers dog owners an under-bridge boardwalk connector to the Macatawa Greenway and numerous trails that are part of the Ridgepoint Community Church trail system. n Black Lake Boardwalk (Public) Where: 2278 Black Lake Avenue, Holland The scoop: Dogs permitted from Oct. 1-April 30 and at Black Lake Boardwalk West year-round. Leashes required. n Connor Bayou (Public) Where: North Cedar Drive, Grand Haven The scoop: Dogs permitted May 1-Sept. 30 on designated trails only. Must be on 10-foot or shorter leashes and under control. n Crockery Creek Natural Area (Public) Where: 11071 Wren Drive, Nunica The scoop: Dogs permitted on this 331-acre natural area that includes frontage on both the Grand River and Crockery Creek. About two miles of hiking and crosscountry ski trails meander along wooded ridges, wetlands, floodplain forest and open hardwoods. Dogs on designated trails only from May 1-Sept. 30. n Dune Pines Nature Preserve (Public) Where: 4580 Audubon Road, Holland The scoop: Dogs allowed on leash. Features rustic trails, forested, rolling back dunes with large beech and oak trees. n Eastmanville Farms (Public) Where: 7851 Leonard Street, Coopersville The scoop: Dogs are permitted from Oct. 1-April 30 on 10-foot or shorter leashes.

n Grand River Park (Public) Where: 9473 28th Avenue, Jenison The scoop: Dogs are permitted on 10-foot or shorter leashes from May 1-Sept. 30, on designated trails only. n Grand River Ravines North (Public) Where: 9920 42nd Avenue, Jenison The scoop: Dogs on leash are permitted year-round, but only on trails from May 1-Sept. 30. n Hager Park (Public) Where: 8134 28th Avenue, Jenison The scoop: Dogs are permitted. From May 1-Sept. 30, use designated trails only. Dogs must be on 10foot or shorter leashes. n Hemlock Crossing (Public) Where: 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive The scoop: Leashed dogs allowed from May 1-Sept. 30. n Jubb Bayou Park (Public) Where: 10340 Oriole Drive, Crockery Township The scoop: The 97-acre park allows dogs on or off leash. It includes nearly a mile of frontage on the Grand River, some high ground, significant floodplain and wetlands. No designated trails. n Kirk Park (Public) Where: 9791 N. Lakeshore Drive, West Olive The scoop: Dogs allowed in the off-leash area and on trails only; otherwise, must be leashed at all times. The southernmost area of Kirk Park’s Lake Michigan beach is an off-leash area. n Macatawa Greenspace (Public) Where: 1230 Paw Paw Drive, Holland The scoop: The 122-acre park encompasses the union of the Macatawa River and Noorderloos Creek and includes bridges, boardwalks and observation decks beside



the river. It features 2.5 miles of natural surface hiking or cross country skiing trails. Dogs must be on leash. n Pigeon Creek Park (Public) Where: 12524 Stanton Street, West Olive The scoop: The park is 282 acres with another 130 adjacent acres of county open land that permits leashed dogs except when snow conditions are right for cross country skiing and sledding, and from May 1-Sept. 30 on designated trails only. n Port Sheldon Natural Area (Public) Where: 6260 160th Avenue, West Olive The scoop: Dogs allowed on or off leash throughout the 440 acres that include gently rolling terrain, woods, wildlife ponds and Ten Hagen Creek. n Riley Trails (Public) Where: 16300 Riley Street, Holland The scoop: Dogs permitted but must be on leash at this 300-acre park featuring rolling terrain, beech-maple forest, pine plantations, a small lake and an informal trail system. n Riverside Park (Public) Where: 10317 North Cedar Drive, Grand Haven The scoop: Dogs on leash are permitted year-round, but only on trails from May 1-Sept. 30. n Sheridan Park (Public) Where: 6900 Arthur Street W, Coopersville The scoop: The 57-acre parcel features three creeks, abundant wildlife, wooded areas and grassy highlands. Trails are mowed in the summer months and groomed for cross country skiing (and dog walking) in the winter.

July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 21

dog parks

dog star ranch

Guests of Dog Star Ranch treated to



he day couldn’t have been more beautiful. Birds singing. A light breeze rustling through the treetops. One dog dragging a stick; another wandering the trails, unleashed, free to roam. At Dog Star Ranch, an extraordinary 48 acres of dog parks, groomed trails, boarding and training facilities in Muskegon County, this is everyday stuff; business as usual. But for Jodi Chvala, who was walking her 2-year-old Lab mix, Winnie, it was so much more. Chvala and Winnie were near the end of a 3-mile walk when they met up with Carol Yarnold, owner of Dog Star Ranch, and her “granddog,” Rango, a Golden Retriever who’d found a stick he couldn’t do without. While the two dogs checked each other out, the women — plus Jen Goudreau, Dog Star’s office manager — caught up. At the time, Chvala was relatively new to Dog Star Ranch, and Yarnold wanted to know if it was everything she’d hoped. “Oh, my gosh,” Chvala said, “this is a fabulous place.” Chvala’s home in Laketon Township

22 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

is surrounded by swamp and wet land — not so good for dog walking. So in the spring, Chvala bought a membership to Dog Star Ranch, which she and Winnie visit every day. “It’s good exercise for me and Winnie,” Chvala said, nodding toward her dog. “We feel safe out here, don’t we, girl?” And off they went, Chvala lifting her face to the morning sunshine, and Winnie, zigzagging her way through the woods and back on the trail. Yarnold and Goudreau watched, more than satisfied. “We wanted a place for them to run and play,” Yarnold said. Golf course to dog heaven Yarnold opened Dog Star Ranch in 2004, transforming a golf course into a mecca for dogs and their owners. The park is just one feature, used throughout the day by the dogs in day care or being boarded, dogs in exercise and obedience programs, even dogs about to be groomed. Dog Star offers a “Tuckered Out” service and “Star Buddy Walk” before dogs go in for grooming — good exercise and stress-relieving, too — making it easier on everyone involved in making Fido beautiful. “Happier and healthier,” Yarnold

said. “A well-exercised dog is happier and healthier.” The larger park is divided into five individual parks, each designed a little differently. Some require dogs to be on leashes; most do not — a luxury in public places. All parks are fenced in and separated. There are two 1-acre ponds and an amazing 24 acres of nature trails Yarnold calls the Canine Frontier. Members have access, using fob keys, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All-hours access is just one thing Bob Hildebrandt, who summers in Whitehall, loves about the park. He gets his 4-yearold black Cocker Spaniel, Buttons, on the trails four to six days a week. “It’s a great spot,” he said. “I get to walk, and I don’t have to keep Buttons on a leash — which I like.”

Allissa Moore of Dog Star Ranch takes a group of dogs to the pond for playtime.

Most municipalities, not to mention public parks and trails, require dogs to be on leash for safety’s sake. But at Dog Star Ranch, Buttons is unrestrained, splashing in the ponds, walking, running and exploring at her own pace for a good hour outside. When Hildebrandt goes out for the evening, sometimes he even drops Buttons off for a dog’s night out, so to speak, so she can play and have company. “It’s really social,” he said. And not just for the dogs. Yarnold said friendships have formed among people who meet up at the same time every day. Sometimes those friendships extend beyond dog-walking. One group of women meets for coffee and meals together, as compatible as their dogs. Getting along Compatibility — and manners — are important to Yarnold. Every dog goes through temperament testing, so Yarnold and her staff know who to group together during day care or boarding, and what kind of training might be needed both for the dog and owner.

Yarnold points out that dogs will exhibit a variety of behaviors as they meet up with new dogs. She stresses that communication is a “must” between humans and dogs, so everyone is comfortable. That sense of safety and etiquette is one reason Crystal Brummans takes her 6-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sophie, to the park as often as possible. She likes the more natural interaction between dogs. “It’s a good place to be, you know, dog-to-dog,” she said. Lynn Buchan of Muskegon, who started bringing her dogs to Dog Star Ranch as soon as it opened in 2004, comes five days a week with Sammy, a 12-year-old English Springer Spaniel, and Teddy, an 8-year-old Cockapoo. “It’s good for me,” she said, “and just look at them.” Sammy and Teddy strained at the end of their leashes, as excited as puppies to get on the trails, when Buchan stopped to answer a few questions. Yarnold, Goudreau and Rango — still carrying his stick — came off the trails about the same time, moving past

DOG STAR RANCH Location: 4200 Whitehall Road, Muskegon, 49445

Trails at Dog Star Ranch are clearly marked by — what else? — paw prints.

Buchan and her crew. Yarnold stopped for a few minutes, taking time to watch Buchan and her dogs move past the entryway to the trails. Dog Star Ranch is her vision: the park and kennels, the training, the runs, the fresh air and exercise. “We like to say we give your dog somethin’ to bark about,” she said, quoting Dog Star Ranch’s motto. “That’s what it’s all about,” Yarnold said. “All this ...” She looked out at the park, the people and their dogs enjoying nature and each other. “What a good day,” Yarnold said.


Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon. Closed Sundays. Parks are open to members 24/7 with fob key access. Services: Boarding, grooming, training, daycare, dog parks, event arena, pick-up and drop-off shuttle, temperament safety evaluation, obedience classes, exercise and socialization, agility courses and canine excavation area, as well as a special day boarding for people going to Michigan’s Adventure. Park features: Five fully fenced-in dog parks, two 1-acre ponds and 28 acres of nature trails known as Canine Frontier. Included are a small dog park for dogs under 30 pounds, a special use park and an active park. Membership: Various packages range from $50 per month per dog to a lifetime membership for $1,790 per dog. Dog Star Ranch also offers a daily park pass for $10 per dog. Of note: The Dog Star Ranch My Way Home program takes a homeless dog, helps improve its manners through training and socialization and provides the tools to be a healthy canine citizen. Owner Carol Yarnold’s goal is to never have any of the My Way Home dogs find their way back to shelters. Fee to adopt these dogs is the cost of an annual membership and a basic training class. Learn more: Call (231) 766-0444 or go online at,, Facebook (Dog Star Ranch)

“We take pride in your pet!” (231) 744-4044 1833 Ruddiman Drive North Muskegon, MI 49445 Kathy Davis, Owner July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 23


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DOG-SPECIFIC PARKS n Dog Star Ranch (Private) Where: 4200 Whitehall Road, approximately 8 miles north of Muskegon The scoop: A 48-acre parcel with wooded walking trails, two ponds, separately fenced parks for all types of dogs, agility courses and an excavation area. n Norm Kruse Park (Public) Where: End of W. Sherman Boulevard in Muskegon, at the beach The scoop: There is an accessible ramp to the dog beach from Norm Kruse Park above the dunes. About one mile of Lake Michigan beach is open to dogs and their owners from April 1 to Sept. 30. DOG FRIENDLY PARKS n Funnell Field (Public) Where: 299 N. Franklin, Whitehall

The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

n Goodrich Park (Public) Where: 100 S. Lake Street, Whitehall The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

n McGraft Park (Public) Where: 2204 Wickham, Muskegon The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

n Heritage Landing (Public) Where: 1050 7th Street, Muskegon The scoop: Located on the Muskegon Lake waterfront; restricted access during special events. Leash and cleanup required.

n Moore County Park (Public) Where: 17505 White Road, Bailey The scoop: Leash and cleanup required. Park is 36 acres of hills, woodlands, wetlands and grassy open areas. Dogs not permitted on beach.

n Lake Harbor Park (Public) Where: 4635 Lake Harbor Road, Norton Shores The scoop: Leash and cleanup required at this 189-acre park located just north of Mona Lake Channel. Natural trails wind through woodlands and dunes. Dogs are not permitted on the beach. n Maple Grove Park (Public) Where: 4655 Goodrich, Montague

n Patterson County Park (Public) Where: 5995 Blackmer Road, Ravenna The scoop: Leash and cleanup required. Features 28 acres of river flood plain with wooded and open areas. n Ross Park (Public) Where: 82 Randall Road, Norton Shores The scoop: Leash and

cleanup required at the 43-acre park on the south shore Mona Lake. Dogs are not permitted on beach. Restricted access during special events. n Seyferth Park (Public) Where: 2250 W. Sherman, Muskegon The scoop: Leash and cleanup required. n Twin Lake County Park (Public) Where: 6231 Main Street, Twin Lake The scoop: A $5 daily or $20 annual vehicle entrance fee is required. There is a 1/8-acre fenced dog area; dogs are not permitted on the beach. No small dog section. n Veteran’s Memorial Park (Public) Where: M-120 Causeway, east end of Muskegon Lake between Muskegon and North Muskegon The scoop: Leash and cleanup required.

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dog beaches

Increased water levels, decreased beach area put premium on dog, owner behavior BY DAVE LeMIEUX PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS


day at the beach is the perfect way to beat the heat when the dog days of summer roll around. As recently as last summer, about the only question to answer before heading for the coast was: “Leashed or unleashed?” A much more important question to ask this year is: “Beach or no beach?” West Michigan’s three popular dog beaches are all facing special challenges this summer that, for some, could determine their future use. The more than 1-foot rise in Lake Michigan’s water level since last summer has drastically reduced the size of the beach at Muskegon’s Kruse Park. Though noticeable, the high water is not expected to have as severe an impact at Kirk Park near West Olive in Ottawa County and at Grand Haven’s City Beach. The rising popularity of all three dog beaches means there likely will be more dogs in less space this summer, meaning dogs and their people will all need to be on their best behavior. The few scofflaws who crossed well-defined beach boundaries and ignored the leash law at Grand Haven’s City Beach last summer brought the

dog beach’s future up for lengthy debate by the city council over the winter, said Julie Beaton, special projects manager for the Grand Haven Department of Public Works. “Last year was a one-year trial and it was a big deal,” Beaton said. “A few bad apples almost messed it up.” In Muskegon, high lake levels have reduced the city’s once wide, sandy, leash-optional strand to a narrow wavelapped strip, which will put a premium on the socials skills of both people and dogs, says Muskegon dog beach advocate Chris Willis. Now that the huge road construction project that severely restricted access last summer has been completed, Willis is expecting a record rise in attendance to match the dramatic rise in the water level. “Visitors will be stunned,” Willis warned. There are modest beaches at either end of Muskegon’s ½-mile long dog beach, but the stretch between is very narrow and quickly rises in a high, steep-backed shoreline dune. The beach at Kirk Park is similarly smaller. “We were afraid throughout the winter that we wouldn’t have a dog beach, but once the ice melted it was smaller but there was still plenty of

beach available,” said Jason Boerger, coordinator of park maintenance and operations for Ottawa County Parks. With many more visitors expected and much less beach to accommodate them, Willis worries that crowding could become an issue. “It’s really important that people adjust to the conditions,” she said. “If we run into too many instances where too many dogs are crowded into too small a place and it leads to attacks or fighting, or dogs encroach on the people-only areas, we’ll have complaints and if the city gets too many complaints they could close it. We want to keep everybody safe and keep our treasure.” Willis offers some advice she herself plans to follow. “If you want to visit this summer

A sign at the top of the stairs lets people know the dog beach boundaries at Norm Kruse Park in Muskegon.

July/August 2015 Dogs Unleashed 25

make sure you have a dog that gets along with other dogs. My dog needs lots of space, so we won’t go on weekends.” Willis already has scheduled her beach romps for times when there are fewer beachgoers. “In the early morning and a lot of times during midday during the middle of the week you can have the beach all to yourself,” she said. With Grand Haven’s beach under water, it will be more important than ever to follow each and every one of the simple rules each park has put in place. Beaton, Boerger and Willis all agree on the most important ones: 1. Know when and where to use the leash; 2. What happens on the beach doesn’t stay on the beach … pick up after your dog; and 3. People on the people beach, dogs on the dog beach. The leash rule in Grand Haven is easy to remember: Always. Muskegon’s rule is a little longer, but just as easy to understand: Keep dogs on leash or under control, supervised at all times; always leash up from the car to the designated dog beach off-lead area,

Mark Cherney plays at Kruse Park’s dog beach with his foster dog, Sammy.

around small children and any time your dog may be perceived as threatening or bothering others. Ditto for Kirk Park. “I want to remind people to keep their dogs on a leash from the car to beach, but they can let them off once they get to the dog beach,” Boerger said. All three beaches provide both bags and trash bins for collecting and

disposing of poop. Doing your duty when your dog does its duty is vital. “One thing that will lead to problems is if there are dog messes on the shared areas of beach,” cautions Willis. “Especially on the boardwalk. That’s where a lot of dogs get out of the car and they get really excited and can’t wait. I can’t stress enough that that’s the worst area to leave a mess.” (Not

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that anyplace is a good place). Not only is it important to watch where your dog goes, it’s also very important to watch where your dog goes: Dogs are NOT allowed on the people-only areas at any of the three beaches. In Grand Haven, this means sticking to the sidewalks from the parking lots until you reach the dog beach. “Don’t walk down to the water and walk along the water to the dog beach, and don’t cross the (people) beach to reach the dog beach,” said Beaton. There are lots of signs to help you find the dog beach, but a good landmark to look for is the big flight of beach stairs at Grand Avenue, Beaton advises. During summer, dogs are allowed only south of the southern most swim buoy. The dog beach extends from there south to the Grand Haven Township line. Responsible use of these three west Michigan treasures means, come heck or high water, there’ll always be a dog beach nearby.

A view from above shows how the high Lake Michigan water levels have affected the size of the beach at Norman Kruse Park in Muskegon. IF YOU GO For maps and more info on West Michigan’s dog beaches visit: • Kirk Park: • Grand Haven City Beach: • Muskegon Dog Beach:

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Dogs and their people enjoy a sunny day at the beach at West Olive’s Kirk Park.

Headed to a doggy social? Mind your (dog’s) manners BY SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS


o you might think the first piece of advice when you take your dog to a dog park or dog friendly beach is to scoop your own dog’s poop. Don’t leave a mess for others. But practicing good etiquette in dog parks can be a little more complicated than tucking a plastic bag in your pocket for a timely cleanup. Tina Hornak, who teaches obedience classes for the Muskegon Lakeshore Obedience Training Club, said the absolute most important thing is to know your dog. Read your dog’s body language and responses to other dogs, she said, much as you would your child’s on the playground. Know when your pet is under stress. Know when it is overstimulated or uncomfortable, bullied or being a bully. Know when your four-legged kid needs a timeout. “It’s like when you take your children to the beach. You have to be vigilant,” Hornak said. Kris Larsen, who teaches agility classes for the same club, said too many people go to dog-welcome parks and 28 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

beaches — “and just let their dogs loose. They drink their coffee, read, talk to their friends” and never pay attention to what their dogs are doing. And that’s not a good idea. “Not all dogs have fun at dog parks,” Larsen said. “Not all dogs are social.” And the truth is, some dogs are too aggressive — or not well-behaved enough — to be in a group setting. “At the very least, you want your dog to come when called,” Hornak

said. “You want it to sit and stay ... calm down a bit ... get its leash on.” Just one dog with an “in your face” kind of energy can change the entire dynamic of a group, Larsen said, and not always for the good. She recommends owners have their dogs sit next to them when a new dog comes into a park or onto a beach to size up the newcomer’s personality and temperament — and how it mixes with your own dog’s.

When bringing your dog to a social setting such as a dog beach, pay attention to body language. Make sure the dogs are getting along and not acting aggressively.

“Not all dogs have fun at dog parks.Not all dogs are social.”

made in america

— Kris Larsen Carol Yarnold, who owns Dog Star Ranch, puts every dog through a temperament test whether it’s there for grooming, training, day care, boarding or to walk its trails or play in the park laid out on the 48-acre ranch. One of the first tips she offers is to consider turning your cell phone off or not taking calls so you can give all your attention to your pooch. Watch your dog to make sure it is actually playing with another dog, and not just responding in a defensive, stressful or anxious manner. That said, there are common sense rules when operating within a group, like clean up your dog’s messes, don’t take an aggressive dog into a social setting and, Larsen said, make sure your dog is vaccinated. Kennel cough — a respiratory ailment similar to the human cold — is easily passed between dogs in a crowded environment. If the rules call for dogs to be on leashes at all times, by all means, keep them on leashes. Ask dog owners if it is OK to approach their dogs for you and your pup to say “hi.” Be aware of other people’s space. Teach your dog “appropriate” dog-to-dog introductions. Don’t allow your dog to jump all over other dogs or their owners. That can lead to injuries — and the reputation of behaving badly. Teach your dog that there are times to be quiet, not to bark. This goes not just for dog friendly parks and beaches. In today’s world, more and more restaurants with outdoor seating are welcoming dogs within their confines. Talk about the need for good etiquette? Don’t let your dog jump on other diners or their dogs — and definitely don’t let them poop on the premises. Of course, the best time to teach your dog good manners is before setting foot in a dog park or on the beach when the atmosphere is calm, and you and your dog can concentrate on the training. “That’s always a good idea,” Larsen said. “Always.”

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the tail end


Years later, Lena’s story resonates with those who followed her story Even today, a full six years after she made headlines for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, people recognize her. People see this beautiful dog, a German ShepherdLab mix, riding in the front seat of her owner’s truck, and they ask: “Is that that dog? The one who got shot? What’s her name again?” Lena. And whoever is with her — Doug Twa or his wife, Carol Brand-Twa — will assure them that yes, Lena is OK now, even with the titanium plate in her right hind leg, even with the gunshot wounds that took some time to heal. Wherever they are, at the gas station or lumberyard, the grocery store or running errands, complete strangers want to talk about that horrible day in February 2009 when Twa — who owns Doug Twa Builders in Montague — and Lena went to work together, like they always did. “Lena lives to ride in Doug’s truck,” Brand-Twa said “That’s her whole goal in life.” The minute Twa and his dog got where they were going, Lena ran off, eager to explore the territory. Twa didn’t worry, not at first, because she always came back within minutes, if not seconds. She was his number one helper, and if she wasn’t at his side, she’d sit in the truck, a patient passenger leaning against the arm rest, waiting until the two of them could hit the road again. But she didn’t come back. And then the police called. Lena had wandered onto the neighbor’s property — a neighbor who had an ongoing dispute with the guy Twa was visiting and his dog. When he spotted Lena sniffing around his garage, 30 Dogs Unleashed July/August 2015

the neighbor took out his .22-caliber rifle and shot Lena in the hind quarters, shattering her leg. When a Muskegon County Sheriff ’s deputy got there — answering the neighbor’s call about a vicious dog on his premises — Lena crawled toward the deputy, leaning against him for support, then laying her head in his lap. The deputy called Brand-Twa, whose number was on the dog tags on her collar. As soon as he got the news, Doug Twa rushed to Lena, then took her to the veterinarian who got her into emergency surgery. The vet warned the Twas that he might not be able to save Lena’s leg, but he’d implant a titanium plate from her knee to her hip, in the hopes that she’d one day walk again. For weeks, Lena made headlines in newspapers and on TV, a gentle dog who had her day in court. Her assailant served time in jail and was fined. In the meantime, Lena’s story — and her beautiful, sweet face — touched the hearts of animal lovers, friends and total strangers, then as it does now. Children sent handmade get-well cards to Lena, writing her sweet notes

courtesy photo

Lena’s favorite spot is in the passenger seat of Doug Twa’s truck.

in crayon and pencil. One little boy even sent her $1 to help with expenses. Grown-ups dissolved into tears when they called to offer the Twas their support and ask after Lena’s health. The Twas adopted Lena from a rescue group about a year before she was shot. Even though Brand-Twa spotted her first and arranged the first meeting, Lena immediately fell in love with Doug — and the feeling was mutual. “She’s just the friendliest little dog,” Twa told people, choking back tears. Her recovery was slow, but Lena did it. Although she’s slightly splay-legged from surgery, today she can still jump from a standing position through the open window into Twa’s truck. But there have been changes since the day she was shot. Big ones. Lena, who is 8, no longer goes to work with Twa, even though she is up at the crack of dawn when his alarm goes off, stays glued to his side during coffee and breakfast — and expects to be in the truck with him. Every workday, she is disappointed. Twa doesn’t want to take the chance that she’ll wander onto someone’s property again, so she stays home with Lulu, the family’s 5-year-old RottweilerLab mix. The two of them have the run of three acres of woods and fields, fenced-in and secure, a dog’s dream world. But to Lena, there’s nothing like being in Twa’s truck. On the days the truck is home and in the driveway, they find her in the passenger’s seat, just hanging out. And on good days, she and her best buddy go for rides together, a man and his dog who is still recognized for surviving such a cruel attack. Susan Harrison-Wolffis is an award-winning journalist, retired from newspaper work after more than 40 years. Contact her at

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July-August 2015

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