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May/June 2015

a lifestyle magazine for dog

LOST & FOUND HOUNDS Tips to locate your lost pet Keeping your dog

safe at home

Managing your microchip

Pet Private Eyes on the job

Vol.3, No. 5

f ree!

2 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

Subscribe Publisher: 2U Ventures, LLC 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404 Managing Editor: Mary Ullmer 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 To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact 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

Today! Every other month you get: • Expert advice • Fetch! Products • Entertaining stories • Great photography • Products, services and discounts from great advertisers!

To subscribe contact Also available at various locations throughout West Michigan!


5 Fetch! 6 Canine Calendar 8 Ask The Vet 10 The Groom Room 12 Paws-Ability 15 Bissell Blocktail Party 16 Lost & Found: Lost Dogs 20 Lost & Found: Found Dogs 21 Lost & Found: Prevention 23 Lost & Found: Microchips 25 Lost & Found: Pet Detectives 30 The Tail End

on the cover

photo by Jennifer waters

We figured the old reliable and irresistible Bloodhound was the ticket for our “lost & found” issue. Jennifer Waters put out a call on her Grumpy Pups Pet Photography Facebook page, and two great hounds, Cletus and Georgia, answered the call. Alas, only one could make our cover. Meet Georgia, a 7-year-old adopted in 2011 by Andrew Scott and Meghan Wieten Scott of Grand Rapids.

May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 3




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

HEATHER HASKINS, DVM KATHERYN APPLEGATE, DVM 456 Kinney NW ● Grand Rapids, MI 49534 p.616.453.0080 ● f.616.453.9825

Writing: Marie Havenga (Lost Dog Prevention), Susan Harrison-Wolffis (Pet Detectives, The Tail End), Dr. Vicki Hekman (Ask the Vet), David LeMieux (Microchips), Linda Odette (Fetch), Kristie Swan (Paws-Ability), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Jennifer Waters (Lost Dog: What To Do), Tricia Woolfenden (Bissell Blocktail Party) Copy editing: Linda Odette 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 who we are Mary Ullmer (Editor), is a former manager, editor, reporter and blogger who previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield News-Leader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at

Worry-free Pet Solutions

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@ Jennifer Waters (Photographer), is a professional pet photographer at Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, (ad on p. 20) She also is a freelance writer and volunteer photographer at Harbor Humane Society. She credits her three boxers — the original “grumpy pups” — for her love of working with animals. View her work at or contact Jennifer at Kim Wood (Advertising Consultant) is a former high school and college instructor and a lifelong freelance 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

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Excuse me, I have to call my dog What it is: The Pet Cube lets you watch, talk and play with your pooch when you’re away. It comes with a mic, a wideangle videocam, two-way audio and a laser pointer so you can even have fun with your dog when you’re not there. But wait, there’s more: All of this is connected by an app to your smart phone, and it lets you share photos and videos. Fetch it: $199 at

A tail to tell What it is: If I Were a Puppy is a cute little book — it comes with a tail! — for bedtime reading and gets children off to an early start to being a dog lover. But wait, there’s more: The book is sturdy and thick enough for little ones to hold by themselves, plus the cover wipes clean. Fetch it: It’s sold by Hippo Tails for $7 through

Let’s play Dogopoly What it is: Dog lovers will never play regular Monopoly again once they get a version of the game themed to their favorite type of dog. Seventeen breeds are available, including Jack Russellopoly, Lab-opoly and Mutt-opoly. But wait, there’s more: Every time you pass “Go Fetch!” you collect $200; you pay a fine of $200 if you land on a spot that says you have fleas. Property you can buy if you collect enough dog toys consists of important places in a dog’s life — like a fire hydrant and butcher shop. Fetch it: Find it at Aunt Candy’s Toy Company at 63 Courtland in Rockford or online at for $25.

Cuddle up and go Dogs safely on board What it is: If you enjoy water sports like boating, kayaking and paddle boarding with your dog, the K-9 Float Coat will help relieve some of your worry. But wait, there’s more: The life jacket has a handle to help lift dogs out of the water.

What it is: The Classy Go Sling Carrier lets you carry your little dog in front of you, just like parents do with human babies. But wait, there’s more: It comes with an adjustable shoulder strap and a waist strap. Fetch it: Made by K&H Pet Products, it’s $27.99 at

Fetch it: It’s made by RuffWear and you can order it for $79.95 at May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 5




American Cancer Society Bark For Life, 1-5 p.m., Michigan One Community Credit Union, 510 South Dexter, Ionia. A canine event to fight cancer, Bark For Life features a walk around the track, contests, games and giveaways. Donations of $10 for first dog, $5 for second. Dogs must be leashed and under control and waste must be cleaned up. For more info, go to barkioniami.


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 June 2.


Dutch Dogs on Parade, 2-3 p.m., Tulip Time parade route, 8th Avenue at Columbia Avenue,

6 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

Holland. Registration to enter closed in April, but parade goers can enjoy the fun as dogs and their owners, both dressed in Dutch outfits, walk the 1½ mile parade route. It’s all part of Holland’s annual Tulip Time festivities. For more information, go to tuliptime. com/events/dutch_dogs.


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 Self-Aulgur (616) 791-8066 or


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.

Humane Society Summer Camps 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 or contact Jen Self-Aulgur at 616-7918066 or


Pet A Pawlooza, 9 a.m., Harbor Island, 101 North Harbor Drive, Grand Haven. Second annual event features vendors, adoptions, rescue groups, live music, animal demonstrations, raffles, silent auction, food and more. Free.


American Cancer Society Bark For Life, 8:45-10 a.m., Story & Clark Piano Factory building parking lot, 100 North Harbor Drive, Grand Haven. A canine event to fight cancer, Bark For Life features a walk,vendors, games and giveaways. For information, contact Pauline Ferguson at


Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Scolnik Healing Center, 888 Terrace St., Muskegon. Pet loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held June 15.



Companion Animal Grief Support, 6:30 p.m., Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain NE, Grand Rapids. Group sessions offer a safe, confidential, structured environment. Free. Please RSVP by noon on the day of the session to facilitator Ginny Mikita (616) 4600373 or


Shaggy Pines Doggie Dash, 8:15 a.m., East Grand Rapids High School, 2211 Lake Drive, East Grand Rapids. As part of the annual Reeds Lake Run, the 3rd annual 5k walk/run includes kids t-shirts, photos with your dog, finisher charms for canines and post-race tent party. To register, go to reedslakerun. com.


Pet-A-Palooza, noon-4 p.m., Harbor Lights Stadium, 1024 136th Ave., Holland. The 12th annual free event features vendors, rescue groups, Ultimate Air Dogs, police K9 units, games, food and fun for the family. Visit petapaloozaholland.


BISSELL Blocktail Party, 6-9 p.m., Mangiamo!, 1033 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids. The dog-friendly annual event celebrates its 10th anniversary, raising funds to benefit pet welfare organizations. Purchase tickets in advance ($100, includes two complimentary drink tickets) and get more information at


Spring Lake Heritage Festival Dog Walk, 6 p.m., Central Park, Spring Lake. The walk to Old Boys Brewhouse begins in Central Park at 6:30 (registration at 6). Dogs and kids can enjoy activities, games, prizes from local businesses and contests at Old Boys. Donate items for the Lakeshore Pet Alliance or monetary donations for the Spring Lake Dog Park. Go to for more information.


Second Annual K9K: 9 a.m., Riverside Park, Grand Rapids. The two run/walk events (a 3k and a 9k), with or without your canine, honor GR police officer Andy Rusticus, who was training to become a police canine handler when he died of a heart attack in 2012. Proceeds benefit The Thin Blue Line of Michigan and the GR Police Department K9 Foundation. Information and registration can be found at

REGISTER FOR 2015 SUMMER Camps! cool speakers. fun games. crafts. lots of animals!

Ages 5-17 All camps feature animal interactions, crafts, fun, learning and so much more! Register and see a full list of camps at! 3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534

616-791-8066 May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 7

ask the vet

dr. vicki hekman

Managing Your Pet’s Weight: Why Extra Pounds We all love to spoil our pets — some of us with toys, some with special beds, some with the latest in fashionable collars and jackets, and some with food. Giving our dogs treats or human food is one of the most common ways we as owners interact with them — whether during training as a reward, after giving into begging behavior, or sometimes out of guilt that we don’t have as much time as we’d like to spend with our furry family members.

But if we’re not careful, we could be causing more harm than good. Not only can certain human foods (such as chocolate or other fatty foods) cause serious illness, but if we are giving too many treats and not making sure our pets are getting enough exercise, we could be setting them up to become overweight. So what’s the big deal if your dog carries a few extra pounds? Doesn’t everyone love a pudgy pet? They’re still cute, right? Of course! But carrying those extra pounds also means carrying an increased risk for a slew of health problems. Even one or two extra pounds means extra weight

on the joints, which can mean your dog is more likely to develop arthritis. Keeping your pet lean can help keep them pain-free longer. Just like in humans, excess body fat can cause insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. In and of itself, diabetes can be frustrating enough to manage, but it also can make your dog more prone to illnesses such as urinary tract infections and skin problems. Excess fat can also make it difficult for your dog to breathe (especially in hot weather) and can increase the risk of complications during otherwise routine anesthetic procedures. Finally, recent studies have shown that dogs that are overweight

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 8 Dogs Unleashed May/June 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

ask the vet

dr. vicki hekman

Can Be More Serious Than You Think have a reduced lifespan when compared to dogs at an ideal weight. So, how does a dog owner go about making sure his or her dog is at an ideal weight? First, talk to your veterinarian. Veterinarians can assess your dog’s Body Condition Score (BCS), a measure of a dog’s fitness. They also will be able to determine if your pet is getting the appropriate amount of calories each day. If your dog is overweight despite appropriate diet and exercise, your veterinarian may want to test for an underlying medical condition (such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease) that may make it difficult for your dog to lose weight.

If no other medical problems are found, your veterinarian can help develop a plan for diet and exercise for your dog. We all want our pets to be happy and healthy for as long as possible. Working with your veterinarian to keep them lean and fit is one of the simplest ways to accomplish that goal. Dr. Vicki Hekman joined Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital in October 2014. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science from Michigan State University in 2008 and received her DVM degree from MSU in 2012. Her particular interests include internal medicine and oncology.

Photo courtesy Deb Long

Hanna, a 5-year-old Corgi owned by Deb Long of Pierson, Mich., has lost 7 pounds the past few months after going on a diet and exercise regimen.

Steve Leafers, RPh

Fellow, American College of Veterinary Pharmacists

We make treats that treat!

Working with your veterinarian to deliver safe, effective, and palatable medications for your pet. Phone (231) 683-1708 Email:


1391 E. Sherman Blvd. Muskegon, MI 49444 (Across the street from Mercy Hospital) May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 9

the groom room

melissa verplank

Just like people, dogs need regular bathing schedule I just love it when my fur children get bathed every other week. They are big. They are furry. They shed. And they love the outdoors. How about you? Don’t you love it when your pooch is freshly groomed and bathed? Their coats are silky-soft to the touch. Plus, they smell much better. A hundred years ago, bathing was a luxury for us humans. If our ancestors got a weekly bath, they were thrilled. But today, most folks in the civilized world enjoy daily bathing. Times change. Personal hygiene has come a long way in 100 years. The role pets play in our lives has changed, too. Gone are the days when pets lived outside, working in the barnyard or helping put food on the table. If your pet is a part of the “family,” it’s time for them to become civilized, too. Does your dog share your home? Sit on your lap? Sleep with you or your children? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you have a perfect scenario for weekly or biweekly bathing to keep your canine companion’s personal hygiene in check. A clean pet is much more enjoyable

Suggested Bathing Guidelines Snuggle bugs: They sit on your lap, lounge on the furniture or sleep in bed. Bathe weekly or biweekly. Canine family members: They are actively involved with the family and share the house. Bathe every 3 to 6 weeks. Nature lovers: They share the home but spend a great deal of time outdoors. Bathe every 2 to 4 weeks.

10 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

than one that isn’t routinely bathed and groomed. The standard time frame between haircuts for most pets is about 4 to 6 weeks. Regular grooming appointments keep the coat manageable and the dog relatively well groomed. However, bathing between haircuts will keep them fresh and huggable. Years ago, we couldn’t bathe our pets frequently because shampoos were made from lye and other harsh ingredients. Today, we have pet shampoos, conditioners and moisturizing sprays that are equal to the finest human hair products. They do an excellent job of cleansing the fur. Whether you opt to have a professional do the bathing for you or you do it at home, it’s important to use high-quality pet products designed to complement the natural PH balance of an animal’s skin. Many products are designed for frequent bathing, even as often as weekly. There are many choices, so find something that works well for your situation. Many pet grooming salons have discounted rates for maintenance bathing between haircuts or full grooming sessions. Many offer special perks that go along with weekly or biweekly bathing, like nail trimming, fresh bows or a bandanna, and minor touch-up trimming around the eyes, paws and under the tail. When bathing at home, read the directions for your shampoo and conditioner. Some products come “ready to use” while others need to be diluted with water before they are applied. Some also may be suitable for puppies, dogs, cats and kittens, while others should not be used on felines or young pets. Depending on how dirty your fourlegged friend is, it might require a single lather or might need two to get them really clean. Focus on the areas that are the dirtiest. For most dogs, that means the paws, legs, tummy and under the tail. For dogs with long ears and facial

Years ago, we couldn’t bathe our pets frequently because shampoos were made from lye and other harsh ingredients. Today, we have pet shampoos, conditioners and moisturizing sprays that are equal to the finest human hair products. hair, it’s likely their beards along with the end of their ears will need some special attention. After your final lather, make sure to rinse ALL the soap out. You want to hear a coat that is “squeaky clean,” and it will squeak through your fingers if done correctly. If you do not get all the shampoo rinsed out, the fur will look and feel greasy when it’s dry and could cause skin irritations. Many dogs benefit from a skin and coat conditioner. If you opt for a conditioner, read the directions. Some you can use straight, others need to be diluted. Some need to be rinsed out thoroughly after they have been applied while others are left in the coat for best results. If you are uncertain of the best products to use at home, talk to your professional groomer or pet supplier. They will be happy to help you find the perfect product to complement your pet’s skin and coat type. When bathing your pet, just like with small children, keep the water out of your pet’s nose and ears. Although most of the products are gentle, some will sting slightly if you get them in their eyes. When I bathe any dog, I always protect the nose and ears with my hand. On the final rinse, I turn down the water pressure and softly flush the eyes briefly to ensure all traces of shampoo have been removed before I

begin to towel dry. I suggest you do the same for the comfort of your pooch. Whenever you bathe your pet at home, it’s important that your pet’s coat is tangle-free. Make sure you can sink a wide-toothed metal comb all the way down to the skin and have it gently glide through the fur. Bathing a coat with tangles in the fur will only tighten the knots, making them impossible to brush out in the future — even for your groomer. Remember, pets that share our lives, our homes and even our bed need regular bathing. That’s just proper pet hygiene for our canine friends. 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.

Sunday June 7, 2015 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.

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12th Annual


West Ottawa Harbor Lights Stadium Holland, MI

Fun for the whole family. Admission is FREE! Come and enjoy pet rescue groups, pet products, food, live entertainment, demonstrations and fun inflatables for the kids. May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 11



Building on foundation of owner-dog relationship When you arrive at the homepage of Suzanne Clothier’s website, you are greeted with her quote: “What is possible between a human and an animal is attainable only within a relationship.” Clothier, an author and speaker, is recognized internationally for her “Relationship Centered Training” approach to working with dogs. I recently interviewed Clothier, getting insight into possibilities when we consider the reciprocal nature of our human-animal interactions.

KS: How do you describe a healthy human and dog relationship? Clothier: A healthy human/dog relationship can be recognized by mutual respect, mutual trust, clear communication both in transmitting information and understanding what is being communicated, an absence of fear or anxiety about each other and pleasure in shared activities and each other’s company. KS: How does that pertain to training? Clothier: When a healthy relationship is kept central to any decision making, training techniques, philosophies and equipment can be selected as appropriate (or not) to support the relationship while also enlarging the freedoms that a trained dog can enjoy. When the relationship is


12 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

not healthy, people may find themselves reaching for equipment or techniques to try to resolve what are actually at their foundation relationship issues. KS: What are some signs/clues that the relationship is out of balance or needs work? Clothier: As anyone recognizes from their relationships with other people, there are classic signs that a relationship is out of balance or needs work. Feelings of frustration, embarrassment, irritation, anger, anxiety or disappointment, a loss of control and regular conflict (often on recurring issues) all point to a relationship that could use work. Recognizing challenges and conflicts within a dog/human relationship can be difficult as many relationship issues are hidden behind labels, or actually


misunderstood and mislabeled. For example, many dogs are presented to me as having focus/attention or impulse control issues, yet a closer examination of the relationship reveals a handler who is inconsistent or unclear in communication. Adjusting the handler’s communication results in a dog who “magically” can now focus or control his impulses. Professionals who assess the dog without also assessing the handler and examining the relationship as a whole will miss the dynamic nature of the dog as a social being in a social interaction. KS: Where would a client begin the process of recovering or initiating a beneficial relationship with a new pup or rescue dog? Clothier: Identifying the foundation issues that need building or repair is necessary. A new relationship is not necessarily a blank slate. Person and dog both bring their individual needs, preferences and skills to the relationship. In the case of a new puppy, there will be that pup’s temperament and experiences to date, with a need for many new skills to be developed for trust and respect to be built out of every interaction. In the case of a rescue dog, there may be deficits in the dog’s skills, or perhaps a history that has not promoted trust of people. Identifying what the needs are for both ends of the leash helps to shape the plan for strengthening the relationship. Good training programs educate handlers so that they can understand how their own behavior can and does affect the dog. The kindest, most wellintentioned owner can be faced with a dog who has an unstable temperament. Conversely, a stable dog may struggle with an owner who is unaware of canine behavior, training methodologies or even what is possible between a dog and a human. 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

Orchard View Community Education Dog Training Program Serving the greater Muskegon area for 10 years! Basic, Intermediate & Advanced Obedience Puppy Kindergarten Therapy Dog Preparation AKC Canine Good Citizen Introduction to Agility Tricks & Freestyle Dancing

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You’re welcome At Tun-Dra Kennels, we welcome all breeds and varieties to our clean, serene country setting. We offer: Personal service. The owners of Tun-Dra Kennels live on site and deliver hands-on care to each dog. Experience. Tun-Dra has been family owned and operated since 1964, and has cared for dogs in West Michigan for more than 50 years. A Happy, Healthy Environment: Our large indoor/outdoor kennels are designed to promote physical and mental well-being. Each dog has territory to call his own.

“Like” us on Facebook: Tun-Dra Kennels • 16438 - 96th Ave • Nunica • (616) 837-9726 May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 13





it’s our birthday.

we’re 10! (that’s 70 in dog years!)

Meet sammie, Our 2015 Blockstar! Adopted 2009 Photo courtesy of Weenie Dog Photography

June 9, 2015 | 6-9 p.m. | Mangiamo! | 1033 Lake Drive SE

come. sit. stay.

The “BEST DOG-GONE Party in Town” is back! Join BISSELL Pet Foundation for a casual evening where you and your pooch can mingle, enjoy scrumptious “yappetizers,” and participate in our one-of-a-kind silent auction. Be a part of this 10th annual event to raise funds and provide support through BISSELL Pet Foundation to animal welfare organizations. TICKETS $100/person. Purchase your tickets in advance (before June 5) at, and we’ll include two complimentary cocktails! Questions? Visit or call 616.735.6666.

presented by

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14 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

Bissell Blocktail Party

around town

Marks a Milestone

bissell blocktail party

West Michigan’s signature pet event celebrates 10th anniversary (that’s 70 in dog years)


By Tricia Woolfenden

or West Michigan pet lovers, June marks the height of the summer social season. Since 2005, it’s been the month punctuated by the Bissell Blocktail Party, a popular event highlighted by tasty refreshments, creative activities and a dog-friendly guest list. The annual affair isn’t just about food, fun and frivolity, however. The party-perfect details and cute marketing serve a very serious mission: saving animals’ lives. Blocktail is a substantial fundraiser for the Bissell Pet Foundation, a nonprofit that awards grants to animal rescues and shelters aligned with the foundation’s mission of addressing “the growing problem of displaced, unwanted and homeless animals.” While Blocktail initially focused its grant-giving abilities on West Michigan pet organizations, the Bissell Pet Foundation’s reach has far surpassed regional boundaries. Cathy Bissell, who created the foundation in 2011, said BPF has awarded more than $2 million to beneficiaries throughout the country. It’s expected that roughly $750,000 will be awarded this year alone. “We’ve grown a lot since we started,” Bissell said, clarifying that because Bissell is a national company, it raises (and grants) money on a national scale. That being said, “We give away a nice chunk here locally.” Indeed, the foundation has remained a generous partner to beloved local organizations like Vicky’s Pet Connection, Carol’s Ferals and the Humane Society of West Michigan, even as the foundation grows its national presence. Having the foundation as a resource has allowed and encouraged regional animal welfare

groups to work more collaboratively than they might if they felt pressure to compete for limited funds. “People are working together more. … Everyone is sharing animals and moving them around (as needed),” Bissell said, citing the two-month, free adoption campaign the foundation sponsored at the Kent County Animal Shelter in late 2014. The initiative was so successful that the shelter ran out of homeless pets and had to turn to other local rescues to fulfill hopeful pet owners’ requests. Doing More Good in More Places

Bissell Pet Foundation has partnered with about 1,300 shelters across the United States, and has at least one beneficiary in every state. Its reach has grown in populous states like Texas and California and in high-need cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The foundation also is exploring how to

expand on the international front and help pet welfare organizations around the world. More than 60 grant applications were submitted during the foundation’s most recent application period in late 2014. Bissell said regardless of geography, culture or organization, there is a universal issue to address: “There are too many animals.” Those who give to the foundation can review its website to find details about the variety of grantees and projects benefitting from its generosity. For example, an $8,500 grant in November 2014 helped the St. Augustine Humane Society Resource Center in Florida to purchase medical equipment for its spay and neuter program. In July 2014, the Independent Cat Society in Illinois received $5,000 to aid in its spay/neuter and “helping pets/helping people” programs. One of the more high-profile

Photo courtesy Animal Rescue Corps

The Bissell Pet Foundation helped support Animal Rescue Corps’ efforts in a Tennessee puppy mill rescue that yielded this Yorkshire terrier, now named Mr. Bissell. May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 15

Tickets: $100, advance purchase includes two complimentary drink tickets. Money benefits pet welfare organizations in West Michigan and throughout the country.

rescue from a puppy mill in Kankakee, Ill. The Bissell Pet Foundation not only helped fund the rescue, it also sent team members to the puppy mill to help rescue 81 dogs. Cathy Bissell, part of the rescue team, contacted Mills about another Yorkie, a female. Like Mr. Bissell, the dog was a mess — dental disease and eye sores from high ammonia content, typical of dogs living in conditions of a puppy mill. Mills adopted the female and appropriately named her Mrs. Bissell.

More info:

A Fur-covered, Festive Affair

IF YOU GO 10th annual Bissell Blocktail Party When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 9 Where: Mangiamo, 1033 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy Animal Rescue Corps

Cathy Bissell handles a Yorkshire terrier, now named Mrs. Bissell, during a puppy mill rescue operation in Kankakee, Ill.

examples of the foundation’s power is the emergency $5,000 it provided in November 2014 to Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) out of Washington, D.C. The funds helped launch a puppy mill rescue in Humboldt, Tenn. “Operation Home for the Holidays” spared an estimated 100 puppies and dogs from a life of filth, starvation and disease. The bust made national headlines, and people from across the country clamored for the opportunity to provide safe, loving homes for the neglected and abused pets. Jamie Mills, of Grand Rapids, would eventually become one of those people. Moose — Mills’ beloved Yorkshire terrier and a past Blocktail Party Blockstar — had passed away little more than a month prior to the ARC operation. Friends and family donated to the Bissell Pet Foundation in Moose’s honor. That money, in turn, was used to help fund the rescue. Cathy Bissell notified Mills of the project and sent her images of the dogs that Moose’s memorial contributions had helped to save. There were many small dogs, including some Yorkies. “I really wasn’t ready for a dog yet,” Mills said. “I was heartbroken.” ARC named one of the Yorkies Mr. Bissell in recognition of the foundation’s gift. “(Cathy said) you can have the dog if you want him,” Mills said. There was a catch, though: Mills 16 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

would have to drive to Tennessee to retrieve the 3 ½-pound, roughly 3-year-old dog. What could’ve been a roadblock became something of a sign. Mills already had a business trip planned just a week later to that exact area of Tennessee. It was a done deal. “It was total fate,” Mills said. “When people ask me how Mr. Bissell got his name I tell them, ‘It’s a long story.’ ” Mr. Bissell — Bissell for short — is adjusting well to his new life in the lap of luxury. He accompanied Mills on a vacation to Saint Martin in the Caribbean just days after his adoption. Aside from a few necessary tooth extractions, his health has been good and his personality is “great.” “This experience made me realize I’d never, ever buy a dog — only adopt,” Mills said. True to her word, Mills is adopting another Yorkshire terrier, an April ARC

Mills and her adopted Yorkies will be among the anticipated 700 humans and hundreds of dogs at this year’s Blocktail, an event Mills attends with dedication. This year’s event includes many of Blocktail’s signature touches, such as welcome gifts for doggie guests, special recognition of adoptees, games and activities and a creative design. The silent auction once again will be held in electronic form after a successful trial run in 2014. The auction goes live two days ahead of the party, and the interface allows guests to easily track bids via smartphone or tablet. “It’s so easy to sign up for and make it happen,” Cathy Bissell said of the auction, which likely will feature more than 100 items, with things like highend gift baskets and gourmet meals. And while the prizes may go to the highest-bidding human, the proceeds go entirely to the dogs.

Photo courtesy Animal Rescue Corps and Jamie Mills

Mr. Bissell, adopted by Jamie Mills of Grand Rapids, went from a puppy mill in Tennessee (left) to strolling the beach on vacation in the Caribbean.


Have you seen me?

After losing her black Lab mix during Fourth of July fireworks, Marlene Hall was reunited with Zoe 2 ½ years later.

Follow These Tips for the Best Chance at a Happy Reunion PHOTOS AND STORY By JENNIFER WATERS


s the July Fourth fireworks exploded in the night sky, Marlene Hall’s petite black Lab mix found safety in the back of her van. Since adopting the 3-year-old Zoe, this was Hall’s first time experiencing fireworks with her new dog. Rather than pulling her out of the van to endure the obvious anxiety she was feeling, Hall made sure Zoe was comfortable before rejoining the friends they had come to visit. When Hall went to check on her a short time later, Zoe was gone. She still isn’t sure just how Zoe escaped the van — did she not close the sliding door all the way, or did Zoe somehow manage to hit a button to open the door? Either way, Hall wouldn’t see her dog again for 2 ½ years. Losing Zoe was excruciating for

Hall, a Spring Lake resident. She had adopted the dog for companionship after a painful divorce. She had poured energy into calming the sometimes skittish Zoe, certain that she had suffered at the hands of her previous owners. Together, Zoe was making progress and Hall’s heart was starting to heal. To lose Zoe made her heart break all over again. “I just felt lost,” Hall said. “I stayed in the driveway for two nights, thinking she would come back. I left the door open. I left her blanket sitting outside of the car on the ground. I left food and water in the car. After staying in the car for two nights, I left the car there for another two weeks. Then I thought she might go back to our old house, so I stayed there for a week. But she never came back.” By all accounts, Hall took the right steps to find Zoe. Most importantly,

though, she never gave up. In the end, it was Zoe’s microchip that brought her back to Hall. A veterinarian had scanned Zoe’s microchip at a visit and noticed the registered owner’s information didn’t match the person who was now claiming the dog as his own. A few calls later, an ecstatic Hall was reunited with her lost dog in January — 2 ½ years after losing her. While the value of microchipping can’t be overstated, even with it you might have to do some legwork if your pet goes missing. To have the best chance at a happy reunion, follow these tips from local animal control experts, rescue shelters and lost pet organizations. Find a Few of Your Pet’s Favorite Things

Searching for a lost pet is no easy May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 17

LOST & FOUND/LOST DOGS task. It takes legwork and a lot of time away from home. In the event your pet is still in the area, be sure to put out a few of his favorite things before you start visiting shelters and vet clinics. Lay familiar items — a dog bed, blanket, toys or even your most lived-in sweatshirt — near your door or the last place you saw your pet. Put out food and water. The scents just might bring your wandering dog back home.

entrance to your neighborhood and local grocery stores, coffee shops and gas stations. Bring a poster to every local veterinary clinic and pet store. Be sure to ask permission and check local sign ordinances so your poster doesn’t get taken down as soon as you leave. Distribute a poster to every house in your neighborhood — but not in the mailboxes. By federal law, only stamped mail can go in a mailbox. While unlikely, your mail carrier could remove all your posters, or even impose a fine. Instead, recruit your mail carrier in another way. Make sure to give them a poster and ask them to keep an eye out as they drive around the area. Likewise, recruit school bus drivers, delivery drivers, lawn mowing service workers and dog walkers who spend a lot of time outside and could spot your dog. Understand How Animal Control Works

Create a Lost Pet Poster

You may want to scream to the world that your beloved dog is missing, but the best way to do that is with a lost pet poster. Taking a few minutes at the computer before you head out will help you recruit hundreds of people in your search, and they’ll know exactly what to look for. Start at a lost pet resource such as, which offers a template for making your lost pet poster. Include a picture and description of your pet and your contact information. If your dog is microchipped, it’s a good idea to include your pet’s microchip number and the name of the company providing the chip. Print as many as you can and post them in high-traffic areas, such as the

18 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

When animal control picks up a dog with identification tags, they often call the number on the tag and may even give your wandering pooch a lift back home. However, if there are no tags, the process gets more complicated. Even if your dog is microchipped, animal control will most likely bring your tagless dog to the local shelter where they are contracted to bring all strays. That’s because the often understaffed animal control officers may not have the time or the resources to scan a microchip in the field and find an owner’s information in the chip databases. Once you know this, you also know the best places to start your search: the local shelters that work directly with animal control. • In Kent County: Kent County Animal Shelter, 740 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 632-7300

any others in your area — right away and then every two to three days after until your dog is found. Why not just call the shelters and ask if your dog is there? According to Carly Luttmann, Program Supervisor at Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS), there is no way for the person on the phone to know all the animals that are in the building at the time — especially those that are just coming in or whose looks aren’t easily described. When you go to a shelter in person you take control of your search, rather than relying on someone else’s interpretation or lack of familiarity with every dog. “For every person who comes in looking, we personally walk them through the building to see all the animals,” said Luttmann. “Then they can check the ‘Lost Book’ and file a lost report.” Make sure to bring your poster with you when you visit. Keep visiting every few days. According to Luttmann, some people have kept searching for years, although the average is about 30 days. Get Social

For the biggest impact, take your search online. Social media and online lost pet resources can be amazing tools if you know where to start. Facebook should be your first stop if you already have an account. Upload

• In Ottawa County: Harbor Humane Society, 14345 Bagley St., West Olive (616) 399-2119 • In Muskegon County: Pound Buddies, 1300 E. Keating Ave., Muskegon (231) 724-6500 Visit Shelters in Person

Go visit those shelters — as well as

Even if you don’t have a Bloodhound like Cletus, a 3-year-old owned by Leah Gerhart, there are many ways to sniff out your lost dog.

When Zoe the black Lab was returned home after being lost for more than two years, she discovered she now has a sibling playmate, Bentley.

your lost pet poster and ask your friends to share it (set the visibility to “Public” instead of “Friends”). Then visit cross-posting pages such as For the Love of Louie (Michigan Lost Pet Lookers) and Ottawa County Lost and Found Animals. Post your missing pet’s information and also search the recent “found pet” postings. You’re also welcome to post on the local shelter Facebook pages, such as IC Pawz at the Kent County Animal Shelter. According to Luttmann, KCAS has been able to arrange quite a few reunions because of postings on its Facebook page. Next, visit lost pet websites such as There you can search a database of found pets, create a lost pet report and get contact information for local veterinary clinics, sheriff/police stations, animal shelters and humane societies. Finally, head to Craigslist’s “lost+found” section and your local

newspaper’s “Pets Lost & Found” classified section. Most newspapers will let you post your lost pet listing for several days free of charge. Don’t Give Up

Most importantly, don’t give up hope. It may take time and a lot of work, but you owe it to your pet to be his best advocate for a safe return. “I have seen people who have looked for their pets for years,” said Luttmann. “And I have seen those magical reunions when their dogs are microchipped and are found in a far-out land.” Which is exactly how it happened for Hall and Zoe. “I never gave up hope of finding her,” said Hall. “And the first thing I did when I got her back was get her a little name tag with her name and my phone number on it.”

Cover girl Georgia originally was adopted in Alaska and soon will relocate again. Her parents are moving from Grand Rapids to New York.

May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 19


I found someone’s pet — now what? By Jennifer Waters

If you find a missing cat or dog, chances are someone is heartbroken over their lost pet. The steps for bringing an animal back home are very similar to those taken when your pet goes missing. • Be safe. If the dog is aggressive or injured, call animal control. If you find a cat, know that animal control cannot help because there is no regulation that says cats can’t be at large. If you find a wild animal, call the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). • Take the dog or cat to the nearest vet clinic, animal shelter or police station to have it scanned for a

20 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

microchip. • Call local animal control, police and animal shelters to see if anyone has reported a missing pet. • Create a “Found Pet” listing on and a “Found Pet” poster to hang in high-traffic areas. Make sure to include your contact information and a picture and description of the pet. • Post a picture of the pet on your Facebook page as well as pages like For the Love of Louie (Michigan Lost Pet Lookers) and Ottawa County Lost and Found Animals. Use Craigslist’s “lost+found” section as well as the “Pets Lost & Found” classifieds in your area newspapers.

It is up to you whether you keep the animal in your home or surrender it to a local animal shelter until the owner is found. All shelters must hold strays for several days, but if space is a concern the animal may be euthanized or transferred before the owner can find him. When someone comes forward, make sure he or she is the rightful owner — especially if someone is responding to your Craigslist posting. Ask to see a photo of them with the pet or vet records for the animal you found. Once a happy reunion is made, delete your postings, take down your posters and feel really good about helping someone bring their best friend back home safe and sound.

Ways to prevent your dog from getting



A microchip may not be able to prevent your dog from getting lost, but it can be key in ensuring a safe return home.



ogs are loyal companions, steadfastly by our side. But sometimes even the most committed canines can wander off, leaving us frantically scouring the neighborhood, writing “missing” posts on social media sites and dialing up local shelters. Jack Clark, president of Noah’s Project no-kill shelter in Muskegon County, said warm weather only adds to the potential of your dog venturing out. “Lost dogs increase substantially April through July,” Clark said. “Multiple factors go into this, including opening up homes to the outdoors, thunderstorms, fireworks, fencing and gates that need repairs, increased time outdoors and a dog’s natural instinct to seek out other dogs that are outside.” But with some prevention and preparation, we can protect our pets from running off. • Wear an ID tag. The most obvious loss prevention technique is to make sure your dog wears a collar with an ID tag. But tags can, and do, fall off. For an extra layer of protection, write your contact information in permanent marker on your dog’s collar. You also

can write your name, address and phone number on a small piece of paper and attach it to the collar with clear packing tape. “Ensure the collar fits snug, with the ability to place two fingers between the collar and dog’s neck, and that the tag is current and legible,” Clark said. • Microchip. Microchipping is smart for all dogs. If your dog gets lost, the chip will essentially serve the equivalent of a high-tech bread crumb path straight to you. Most shelters, veterinarians and pounds have equipment to scan for microchips, according to Clark, who said about half of the dogs he sees at the shelter have microchips and staff is able to contact the owner immediately. “Make certain that the paperwork is submitted and kept up to date with any changes to address and phone number,” Clark said. “Basically, having a microchip that has accurate information virtually guarantees a dog will be returned to his or her family if the dog is found and taken to a shelter.” • Fences aren’t foolproof. It’s wise to install a wire fence within the perimeter of your yard that adds an additional safety net your dog would need to cross before escaping a larger property-line

Photo by jennifer waters

fence. If you have any items such as woodpiles, hot tubs, children’s toys, etc., near the fence, move them. They could serve as a springboard to help in a canine Houdini act. “Remember that an (electronic underground) fence is a tool used to train a dog where he or she is permitted to go,” Clark said. “It does not prohibit a dog from escaping.” • Survey your pet’s surroundings. Get down on your hands and knees and look for openings in your fence where your dog could escape. Push on boards to see if any are loose. Check chain-link fences for gaps. • License your dog. Dog licensing isn’t just another way for governments to garner money. A license can trace a dog’s ownership. So do it. • Fireworks frenzy. Fourth of July isn’t all fun and celebration for your furry friend with sensitive ears. To be on the safe side, crate your canine during peak fireworks hours and turn on a radio to help drown out the drama that’s exploding outside. “My dog, Crosby, absolutely hates fireworks,” Clark said. “Instead of watching fireworks, Crosby and I go for a nice quiet drive.” May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 21

• Train your dog. Dogs are people pleasers, and they can be trained out of behavior that is risky to their longevity. If you don’t have the patience or knowhow, hire a dog trainer or behaviorist who can help with pets that bolt out of an open door, jump fences, dig holes or don’t come when they are called. “One of the most overlooked and most important ways of protecting your pet is by teaching the ‘come’ command,” Clark said. • Make calling pleasurable. Never call your dog for something he or she doesn’t like to do, such as getting nails clipped or taking a bath. Your pet may begin to associate coming to your voice command with unpleasant experiences. Instead of calling for such tasks, go to your dog, snap on a leash and lead him or her to the bathtub or nail salon. Photo by jennifer waters

Scanning for a microchip is simple, as demonstrated by Rachel Jensen of the Kent County Animal Shelter.

• Use the right collar. Flat collars are great for everyday use and for holding ID tags. But if you’re out for a walk, not so much. When scared, a dog can slip

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out of a flat collar, leaving you holding a limp leash, an empty collar and no companion. If you’re going for a walk or transporting your dog, use a nonslip collar (also known as a greyhound collar) for attaching a leash. • Car safety. If you’re going for a drive, instead of letting your dog jump around in your car, consider putting him in a carrier. In case of an accident, he won’t be able to run off in a panic during the commotion. • Know your neighbors. When you’re walking your dog, introduce him to people in your neighborhood. That way, if your pet wanders, you’ll increase the chances of somebody recognizing him and knowing where he belongs. • Have photos handy. Make sure you have recent photos of your dog. Try to capture multiple angles and focus on any unusual markings. That way, if your pet wanders, you can print fliers or post pictures on social media sites.

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LOST & FOUND/microchips

Microchips work wonders, but keep info up to date Carly Luttmann (left) and Rachel Jensen implant a microchip into Tyler the Boxer at the Kent County Animal Shelter. story BY DAVE LEMIEUX Photos by Jennifer waters


ccording to one study, barely more than half of dogs with microchips are reunited with their owners. “It’s sad,” Carly Luttmann, Program Supervisor at the Kent County Animal Shelter, said. “Easily 50 percent of microchips don’t link to current owner information or aren’t registered. It’s really sad because microchips are a great way to reunite pets with their owners. “If you haven’t registered it or kept your (registry) information up to date, a microchip is worthless. It doesn’t tell us anything.” Luttmann has seen a sea change since microchipping first began 15 years ago. “When it started we were so excited when a dog came in with a microchip. We knew it was going home,” Luttmann said. “Fifteen years down the road, it’s amazing how much it’s changed. The old message was to get your pet microchipped. The new

message is to keep your information up to date.” According to a 2009 study cited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 52 percent of dogs with microchips taken in by animal shelters were returned to their owners. That’s more than twice the rate for dogs without microchips, but it still means more than 47 percent of dogs with microchips didn’t find their owners. The system is a wonder when it works as it’s designed to, Luttmann says. Dogs lost on family vacations have been quickly reunited with owners thousands of miles away. A microchip is a simple thing, just an inert bit of metal, glass and plastic smaller than a grain of rice. The only information it contains, a coded string of numbers, is like the combination to a safe. If there’s nothing in the safe except the address at which you used to live or the number to the flip phone you had in college, well, you may never see Bowser again. A microchip is a passive device that

only gives up its secret when activated by a special scanner. It’s not a hightech tracking transponder linked to a network of satellites in geo-synchronous high-Earth orbit, ready to notify a squad of special ops animal recovery experts of Buster’s precise location so they can swoop down in black helicopters and rescue him. Although there are other complicating factors, it’s most often the owner’s fault that microchipped dogs don’t make it back home: The owner never registered the microchip, so there’s no contact information in

A microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice. It contains a series of numbers that link back to the pet’s owner. May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 23

For more on microchips visit: The American Veterinary Medical Association at: The Kent County Animal Shelter at: The American Animal Hospital Association: microchipping/default.aspx

the registry at all, or they completed the registration, but the information is incorrect or out of date. “A lot of times they’re still registered to a (previous) owner,” Luttmann said. “If that dog gets loose and ends up here, we have to go with the party listed on the microchip. It’s a real big deal. Even if someone is here saying, ‘The dog is mine,’ if we can’t get any response from the original owner, by law, we can’t release the dog for seven business days.” Responsible clinics and organizations like the Kent County Animal Shelter have adopted a proactive approach to microchip registration. “We used to have the client register the microchip when we implanted it, but we’ve found the chips are much

With the help of cheese sprayed from a can, Tyler hardly noticed he was getting a microchip implanted.

24 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

more likely to get in the registry if we do it,” Luttmann said. Regardless of who enters the information in the registry, the typical fee for registering a microchip is $20. The cost to have a chip implanted ranges from $20 to about $45 and can be done at the shelter or by most local veterinarians. Further complicating matters is the fact there’s no industry standard for microchips. U.S. manufacturers are producing microchips in three different radio frequencies. Unless scanning is done carefully, Fido’s microchip could go completely undetected. “We’ve had people come in to have a microchip implanted and found their dog already had one,” Luttmann said. “A lot of people have gotten their hands into the pet search industry. Now there are different frequencies and scanners. We need a standardized method, but we’re not there yet.” In addition to using a universal scanner which can detect all three frequencies on the market, KCAS uses the painstaking scanning protocol recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association, Luttmann said. It’s a routine that leaves almost nothing to chance and includes a thorough registry search. So, what must we do? We must get a microchip implanted and keep the information registry up to date. There are a couple of more steps Luttmann recommends. “I call it the ID trifecta,” she said. “Get a current license for wherever you live, an up-to-date microchip and pet ID tags. Having all those things on your animal can mean animal control will bring it right back to you without ever going to the shelter.”

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LOST & FOUND/pet detectives

Making a career out of searching for missing pets


hen we finally caught up to her this spring, Karin TarQwyn had been on the road for a month, tracking a missing Standard French Poodle through the foothills of California. The terrain was daunting. TarQwyn — hands down, the most recognized missing dog expert in North America — spent much of her time unceremoniously on her backside, working her way through the rough landscape. “It was so steep, I was on my butt,” she said. So much for the glamorous life of a private investigator. Her team of tracking dogs, led by her Labrador/Coonhound mix, Cade, had an easier time of it. Of course, they were four-footed and steady, their noses

leading the way in the air and on the ground. Tough as it was, it was all in a day’s work for TarQwyn, who gave up a career in real estate to concentrate on finding missing and lost dogs in 2004. “It’s my passion,” she said. “My absolute passion.” Make no mistake. This is not a hobby for TarQwyn, who lives on a ranch in Nebraska; nor is it a halfhearted pursuit. She has made it her profession, one that she doggedly believes needs to be held to certain standards and qualifications. “This is my life,” she said. That tireless, grinding work in the foothills of California? She takes the same approach to setting certain standards — and required training and skills — for pet

Story by SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS Photos courtesy of Karin TarQwyn and Missing Pet Partnership

Kat Albrecht, founder of Missing Pet Partnership, with her Bloodhound, Zeke.

May/June 2015 Dogs Unleashed 25

detectives throughout the country. “I am a harsh advocate (of doing) what’s best for this industry,” she said. Not only is TarQwyn a licensed private investigator in California, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska, she also has trained with and is certified by a fistful of professional search-andrescue organizations, including Missing Animal Scent Dog Network (MASDN) and North American Search Dog Network (NASDN). To do the work, TarQwyn has assembled a team of private investigators, K9 handlers and field agents across the country for Lost Pet Professionals, a company TarQwyn founded a decade ago. Fees for Lost Pet Professionals services vary depending on the amount of work required required, travel and lodging for out-ofstate services. One of the most celebrated cases ever solved by a Lost Pet Professional was by field agent Jordina Ghiggeri, who was instrumental in finding a police dog. K9 Karson, who serves on the Wilmington (Ohio) Police Department, bolted from an unfamiliar out-of-town boarding facility in December 2014 while his family was on Christmas vacation. Ten days into the search, the police called in professional help. In

Angelo the Collie is just one of the many lost dogs reunited with their owners by Karin TarQwyn’s Lost Pet Professionals.

26 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

Missing Pet Partnership recommends tagging your vehicle with pictures and a description of your missing pet, plus contact information.

all, K9 Karson — a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois — was gone 61 days and traveled a good 100 miles back to his owner’s hometown. The search for a police dog was so compelling, so downright interesting, it garnered 30,000 Facebook followers. The reunion was emotional, to say the least, and the police department was so grateful, it awarded Ghiggeri a special commendation. In his thank-you speech for all Ghiggeri had done, K9 handler Jerry Popps said: “Where do I start? You are one of a kind.” TarQwyn and her crew hear this over and over, whether the case is as publicized as K9 Karson’s, or the story of a French bulldog found and rescued from a puppy mill, or a mixed-breed who fled a new “doggy day care.” TarQwyn and crew specialize in finding dogs they describe as shy, timid, aloof, reserved or skittish; in other words, the hard-to-find dogs. “Most pet owners don’t know what to do when they lose their animals, or their dogs go missing,” TarQwyn said. “It’s so important to have compassion for the pet owners and empathy for the animals.” It’s no surprise that TarQwyn’s

The search for a police dog was so compelling, so downright interesting, it garnered 30,000 Facebook followers. interest in finding other people’s dogs starts at home. In 2004, one of her farm dogs — an Australian heeler mix named Jack — went missing in a terrible storm. Jack’s story is fraught with twists and turns. He ended up in an animal shelter on death row and was adopted at the last minute by another rancher 50 miles from TarQwyn’s place. If a blacksmith hadn’t recognized Jack, TarQwyn might never have found her dog. Within months of Jack’s return, TarQwyn — who had trained on a search-and-rescue team to find lost human beings — began studying canine behavior and discovering the difference between finding missing dogs and people. And there is a difference, she says; a big difference. Most distinctive: Unlike people, dogs usually cross over their original trail several times, mixing scents, creating alternate paths. Equally as

important to keep in mind in this work, she said, is to profile both pets and their owners. “This isn’t a one-size-fits-all business,” TarQwyn said. The investigator needs to know the personalities of both the missing dog and the owner. Each time she talks with an owner, TarQwyn needs to know if the owner can handle some, all or none of the search work. There are times the case can be resolved over the phone: TarQwyn and crew giving advice, leading them to a happy ending. Other times, a field agent needs to be on the spot, usually with a team of tracking dogs. “Most people aren’t sure what happened when their dogs are missing,” TarQwyn said. So it’s important to put together the facts, the history, the setting, the search. Only a small percentage of dogs is stolen, TarQwyn said. Most go missing on their own. Such was the case with Ghiggeri’s own dog, a Corgi named Andy who

Karin TarQwyn’s search dog, Cade, busy at work near Las Vegas.

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Jordina Ghiggeri and her dog Brodie, part of the team at Lost Pet Professionals, head out on a search for a missing dog.

bolted during New Year’s Eve fireworks while visiting out-of-state friends a few years ago. Ghiggeri was so impressed with TarQwyn’s efforts to find Andy, who is from Massachusetts but went missing in Connecticut, she eventually quit her own job and trained with TarQwyn to join the Lost Pets Professionals team. TarQwyn’s staff is successful, operating with an 86 percent recovery rate for dogs and cats, even those that have been gone extended periods of time. The longer the pet has been

Karin TarQwyn and her search dog, Cade, on the job in Pacifica, Calif.

28 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

missing, TarQwyn says, the lower the recovery rate. If the Lost Pet Professionals are called in to find a dog missing less than a week, the recovery rate is about 93 percent. Team members consult and confer with as many as 40 pet owners a week, often offering advice, even if the owners can’t afford their fees. TarQwyn estimates they average one paid case a day on their “Home by Phones” package — fees can be as little as $65, depending on the case — and as many as 10 cases per week on site, with varying costs. Kat Albrecht of Seattle, a former police Bloodhound handler turned volunteer pet detective, has founded the Missing Pet Partnership — a group of volunteers — to help answer the calls for help. “By the time we talk with (the pet owner), they are caught up in fear, anger and grief,” Albrecht said. “They’re angry at the pool man for leaving the gate open ... angry at the kid who left the door open. “And they’re really afraid they’re never going to see their dogs again, or

Jordina Ghiggeri (right) found a lost Police K-9 dog, Karson, in Ohio in 2014. Karson’s partner, Jerry Popps, is pictured at left.

that they’re dead.” Karen Palmer of Twin Lake in northeastern Muskegon County took the online training offered by Missing Pet Partnership, curious about search

work with her dog, Abel, an English shepherd, a farm dog similar to a collie. To help people alert one another about lost or missing animals in the area, Palmer created a Facebook page for lost and found pets of West Michigan as a starting point. “I’m passionate about dogs,” Palmer said. “I hate the thought that a dog would go missing.” Albrecht reminds pet owners to never let any stone go unturned. A series of techniques and hints, as well as a directory of volunteer detectives listed by state, is available on her website, She also warns people not “to give up too soon.” It often takes time to find a dog that is lost, scared, hurt or disoriented. Albrecht cautions would-be rescuers not to assume a strange dog roaming the streets was dumped by an uncaring owner. “Pets go missing every day,” Albrecht said, “that’s why there’s a need for this kind of help.” An estimated 2.5 million pets are lost or missing, many of whom can

Pet Private Investigators To learn more about the work of private investigators and tips for recovering missing dogs and cats, check out these websites.


a subscription for yourself

• Lost Pet Professionals (Karin TarQwyn): • Missing Pet Partnership non-profit:

be recovered or found by trained pet detectives. Albrecht says she often hears the refrain — “It’s just a dog. Go to the pound and get another dog.” — from well-meaning friends and family members who don’t understand why a pet detective would be called in. “This is so much more than just finding a dog that’s lost,” TarQwyn says. “We help get families back together. We get the four-legged family members back with the two-legged members.”

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the tail end


Heartbreak leads to unexpected journey for missing dog’s owner She no longer dreams that her dog has come home. Eight years after she lost her beloved, beautiful English Springer Spaniel, Molly McMillen Miles no longer wakes up from a deep sleep, dreaming she found her dog, lost so long ago in the woods of Mason County. But she still hopes. “I’ll never stop,” Miles says. Her story — one that spread from one end of Michigan to the other as she searched for her dog named Murphy — is sure to break the heart of anyone who loves dogs. Miles and her husband, Gary, were on a winter break back on Jan. 21, 2007, cross-country skiing on the North Country Trail, a recreational area on the border of Mason and Lake counties in the Manistee National Forest. They had two dogs, both English Springer Spaniels — Maggie, 7 at the time; and Murphy, just 2 1/2 years old. The dogs were so good that day, Miles let them off their leashes. Maggie shadowed their every step off-leash. But Murphy, who usually never left Miles’ side, was immediately struck with a sense of adventure. He took off on his own, hot on the trail of something — a deer, a rabbit, something to chase. “All of a sudden, his nose went down, and he went flying over a ridge, going Mach 2,” Miles remembers. Certain he’d come back, Miles and her husband stayed on the trails for hours. About three hours after he first disappeared, Miles heard Murphy’s distinctive bark — but she never caught sight of him again, even though he was wearing a fluorescent orange vest. Miles and her husband stayed until midnight, calling, looking, hoping against hope that Murphy would return. But he did not. “I was inconsolable,” Miles remembers. 30 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2015

For more than a year, Miles blanketed a six-county area in West Michigan with fliers, complete with pictures of and information about Murphy. She contacted every veterinarian’s office in Michigan. She wrote to dog groomers, kennel owners, bus drivers and school officials, anyone who might come across a lost dog. She tacked up thousands of “Have You Seen Murphy?” posters in gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, churches, wherever people gather. She turned into a one-woman detective agency. Every minute she wasn’t working for an investment firm in Grand Haven, she was on Murphy’s trail. Along the way, she was met with unexpected kindness. Strangers helped her post fliers, helped her make calls, helped her spread the word about Murphy. “That’s the good that’s come out of this,” Miles says. “I met some incredible people ... people who gave me the strength I needed ... people I still care about.” But in her search, she also encountered disbelief from people who didn’t have a clue what it’s like to love an animal with all your heart. “I heard: It’s just a dog,” Miles says, then adds quietly: “Just a dog?” Miles grew up with English Springer Spaniels. In a sense, they were part of her family tree. When she and her husband — who has retired from the State of

courtesy photo

Molly McMillen Miles and her beloved English Springer Spaniel, Murphy.

Michigan — were married, they added Springers to their home. Her husband worked long hours. Often it was just Miles and the dogs at home, out for walks, keeping company after work. When she saw Murphy for the first time, Miles was mourning the loss of her 12-year-old Springer just days earlier. Murphy — one of 12 in his litter — ignored everyone else and crawled into Miles’ lap. He was only 8 weeks old. That did it. The bond between dog and human was sealed, forever. Miles never found Murphy. Despite all her efforts, he never made it home. Miles’ hope is that someone found him and fell in love with him, the way she did, and that he’s living out his old age with someone who cares. “The hardest part is not knowing what happened to him,” she says. Some good has come out the loss. Miles’ new additions to the family — two female Springers, Morgan, 8; and Nuala, 4 — are microchipped. Murphy was not, a mistake Miles will never make again. She has given her time to an English Springer Spaniel rescue group, driving across country to transport dogs to a better place in life. She might not have become involved if her heart hadn’t been broken wide open that day she last saw Murphy, bounding over a ridge. “When I think about that time in my life, when I step back, it’s been a journey, and I’m better for it,” Miles says. “It’s impacted me in a way that was a really good thing. I’ve met so many good people.” There is that sound in her voice, that sound that animal lovers recognize and hear. “But someday ...” she says. “Someday, I hope I see him again.” Susan Harrison-Wolffis is an award-winning journalist, retired from newspaper work after more than 40 years. Contact her at

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Dogs Unleashed - May-June 2015  

A lifestyle magazine for dog lovers.

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