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WEDDING BELLS & TAILS Couples and canines share the big day

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Subscribe Publisher: Pet Supplies Plus U.S.R. Services 18000 Cove St., Suite 201 Spring Lake, MI 49456 Editor: Mary Ullmer dogsunleashedmag.com Creative Director: Kevin Kyser kyserdesignwerks.com Dogs Unleashed is a bi-monthly magazine especially for dog lovers. It is available at Pet Supplies Plus stores in west Michigan; Dallas/Fort Worth; Birmingham and Mobile, Ala., and Appleton, Wis. It also can be purchased via mail-order subscription at getdogsunleashed.com.

Today! Every other month you get: • Expert advice • Fetch! Products • Doggy Destination

All material published in Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted © 2013 by Dogs Unleashed. 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 the 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. Send photos, questions or comments to: info@dogsunleashedmag.com

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A trio of new breeds debuts at this year’s National Dog Show

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To subscribe visit To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact Mary Ullmer at: mary.ullmer1@gmail.com

from Pet Supplies Plus

dogsunleashedmag.com Vol.2, No.2

dogsunleashedmag.com

Also available at your local

CONTENTS

5 From Pet Supplies Plus 6 Canine Calendar 8 Fetch! 10 The Doctor is In 11 Paws-Ability 12 The Groom Room 13 Good Grief 18 Dogs at Work 22 Wedding Bells & Tails 28 Bissell Blocktail Party 32 Destination: Frankenmuth 38 The Tail End

on the cover

photo by jennifer waters

A big thanks to Ebby’s Pet Bakery in Muskegon for creating our dog-friendly wedding cake, to Studio 411 in Grand Rapids for use of their photo studio and to our well-trained (and patient) dog model, Henrik, owned by Rose Irwin.

May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 3


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

contributors Writers: Susan Harrison-Wolfiss (Wedding Bells and Tails, The Tail End), Paul R. Kopenkoskey (Animal Abuse Registry), Candilynn and Michael Lockhart (Doggy Destination: Frankenmuth), Ginny Mikita (Good Grief), Linda Odette (Fetch, Working Like a Dog), Ron Rop (From Pet Supplies Plus), Kristie Swan (Paws-abililty), Dr. Shane Thellman (The Doctor is In), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Tricia Woolfenden (Cause for Celebration).

information using our secure credit card form. Questions? Write to info@dogsunleashed.com.

Photographers: Katy Batdorff (Wedding Bells and Tails), Kate Jonkman (Working Like a Dog), Candilynn and Michael Lockhart (Doggy Destination: Frankenmuth), Nicole Somerville (Wedding Bells and Tails), Kendra Stanley-Mills (Wedding Bells and Tails).

Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, (ad on p. 7) a full-service branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children, three cats and a 150-pound Lab named Gus. Email him at kevin@kyserdesignwerks.com.

Cartoonist: Jonny Hawkins

Jennifer Waters (Photographer), is a professional pet photographer at Grumpy Pups Pet Photography, (ad on p. 27) 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 grumpypups.com or contact Jennifer at grumpypups@gmail.com.

Copy editors: Linda Odette, Amy Snow-Buckner

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

www.standalevet.com

to subscribe Order a one-year subscription (six issues) to have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home for just $14.97. You also have the option to order it as a gift for a dog-loving friend. Simply go to getdogsunleashed. com and complete the payment

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 NewsLeader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at mary.ullmer1@gmail.com

Sizzling Summer Specials June 1 - August 31!

Follow us on Facebook to learn about our summer adoption specials! Many adoption specials will be offered thanks to the:

3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534 4 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

616-453-8900

www.hswestmi.org


from pet supplies plus

Stepping up to help the cause for rescue, adoption groups By RON ROP

When Heather Kaat sits down to plan a special event at her Pet Supplies Plus store in Appleton, Wis., one of the first things she does is invite dog rescue and adoption groups. They are invited to set up their booths, bring along their adoptable animals and hand out literature to educate those in attendance. The most Heather Kaat recent event at Kaat’s store was called “Spring Fling” and featured six adoption/rescue organizations. There were dog, cat and even bird rescue groups participating. Kaat’s store makes an effort to schedule events with adoption groups every weekend. Some weekends, two events are scheduled. In all, the store in Appleton works with about 15 rescue organizations, Kaat said. One of the highlights on the event calendar for the Appleton store is the Rescue Celebration Day in October. “We ask all of the adoption groups, rescues and humane societies we work with throughout the year to each set up a booth and promote themselves,” Kaat said. “They talk with our customers, hand out educational material, sell everything from T-shirts to homemade dog and cat toys and, of course, bring along pets available for adoption. The crowd this event draws is phenomenal.” Those well-attended events attract new pet owners as well as those who already own pets. And many times, according to Kaat, pet owners take home yet another pet. Every store in the U.S. Retail chain of Pet Supplies Plus has formed similar relationships with rescue groups in their area. Not only do they host events, but Pet Supplies Plus also helps with fundraisers and referral programs.

Photo courtesy HEATHER KAAT

The Retired Greyhound Athletes hold adoption events at Pet Supplies Plus in Appleton, Wis., to find homes for retired greyhound racers, most of which are from Florida.

U.S. Retail, which owns 20 Pet Supplies Plus stores, donated more than $100,000 to adoption/rescue groups in 2013. The Texas-based Operation Kindness received $26,252 from Pet Supplies Plus last year, the biggest donation for any rescue group. The number of rescue groups receiving financial support from Pet Supplies Plus in 2013 was 112. The donation amounts ranged from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. “We make monthly donations based on arrangements we worked out with them,” said Steve Adams, owner of U.S. Retail, franchiser of 20 Pet Supplies Plus stores. And there are benefits that do not always carry a monetary value. “The benefits are we are reinvesting in the communities that we serve,” Adams said. “We’re also helping new pet owners get established and we’re doing our part to place animals into loving families. That’s how we benefit. Their benefit is they are getting

additional financial support, and with all nonprofits, financial resources can be scarce.” Kaat also outlined the benefits of the relationship between Pet Supplies Plus and rescue organizations. “The best benefit, by far, is being able to bring some much-needed attention to these groups that work so hard to save unwanted animals,” Kaat said. “Their dedication never fails to amaze us. And, they benefit by increased awareness of their groups and what they do, acquiring new volunteers, donations from generous customers and, hopefully, they adopt out more pets.” The plan, as U.S. Retail expands by opening more Pet Supplies Plus stores in other markets, is to keep the momentum going by working with even more groups. “We know that we are creating many friends in the pet community by being a vital partner with local rescues,” Adams said. “And that benefits our business in the long run.” May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 5


CANINE CALENDAR

n MICHIGAN

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Teen Series: Animal careers, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Are your teens interested in an animal career when they grow up? From veterinarian to groomer and everything in between, learn about jobs that involve our furry friends. Class size is limited. Cost is $15. To register, contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org.

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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 jaulgur@hswestmi.org.

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Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Hospice of North Ottawa, 1061 S. Beacon, Suite 100, Grand Haven. Pet loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 7223721 or (616) 844-4200. Also held June 3.

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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) along the bike path. Dogs and kids can enjoy activities, games, prizes from local businesses and contests at Old Boys. Donate perishable and nonperishable items for the Lakeshore Pet Alliance to disburse to local shelters and rescues. Monetary donations go to the Spring Lake Dog Park for maintenance and improvements. Go to slheritagefestival.com or contact Mary Paparella (616) 842-1393 or mary@ springlakevillage.org.

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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 jaulgur@hswestmi.org. Also held June 10.

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Furry Friday Films, 5:309:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Kids in grades K-5 are invited to join HSWM for animal time, games, crafts and an animal movie. Pizza, pop and popcorn provided. Cost is $25 per child with a $10 sibling discount. Contact Jen SelfAulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@ hswestmi.org.

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Pet-A-Palooza, Rescue fur-ever Homes Wanted, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Global Auto Works (corner of Fulton and Ferry), Grand Haven. Festivities include cutest pet competition, pet photography, live music, origami, vendors, treats, raffles and adoptable animals. For more information, contact Michele at (231) 798-4935.

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Paws 2 Remember, 7 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 16.

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Companion Animal Grief Support, 6-7 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Group sessions offer a safe, confidential, structured environment. Please pre-register by noon on the day of the meetings with facilitator Ginny Mikita (616) 4600373 or Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org. Also held June 17.

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Barry County Bark for Life, 8 a.m., Paul Henry/Thornapple Trail, 100 East Main St., Middleville. The 5K fun run/walk with dogs is an American Cancer Society fundraising event associated with the Relay For Life. Registration is at 8 a.m. with the race starting at 8:30, followed by Bark For Life festivities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Calvin Hill Park, behind the Middleville Methodist Church at 111 Church St. A $20 donation enters participants in all the contests and purchases a bandana for your dog. Contact Bonnie Meredith (269) 838-6762 or email barrybarkforlife@gmail.com.

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Pet-A-Palooza Holland, noon4 p.m., West Ottawa Harbor Lights Stadium, 1024 36th Ave., Holland. The 11th annual event features rescue groups, raffles, Ultimate Air Dogs, Holland Police Department K-9 Unit, vendors, activities for kids, food and fun. Presented by Mapleview Animal Hospital, P.C. Free. For information, check out the Petapalooza - Holland MI Facebook page.

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BISSELL Blocktail Party, 6-9 p.m., Mangiamo, 1033 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids. The Bissell Pet Foundation’s signature annual event benefits west Michigan pet welfare organizations. It features food and drinks, entertainment, silent auction, photo booth and more. Tickets are $65 if purchased before June 9, $75 after. For $100, get a Ticket, PLUS!, which includes admission to the event and entry into a drawing for an iPad. For information, call (616) 735-6666 or visit bissellblocktailparty.com.

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HSWM Summer Camps, Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Join HSWM for a week of animal fun at our summer camps. For kids ages 5-17, these day camps feature games, crafts, presentations and animal time!


Several camps available from June through August. Cost varies depending on focus of the camp. For information, contact Jen Self-Aulgur at (616) 7918066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org

team fundraising challenges. Online registration available until May 16 and fundraising prizes will be awarded. The event benefits the SPCA of Texas. Visit strutyourmutt.info or contact the SPCA of Texas at sknight@spca.org or (214) 461-1846.

n ALABAMA

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Do Dah Day, 11 a.m., Caldwell and Rhodes Parks in Southside, Birmingham. Parade begins at 11 a.m. along Highland Avenue and festivities start at noon in the parks. The music festival for people and their pets benefits Jefferson County animal shelters and includes vendors, contests and activities. Admission to the event is free, but for a small fee you can join in the parade or one of the animal contests. For information, go to dodahday.org.

n TEXAS

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Dog Bowl at the Cotton Bowl, 1-5 p.m., Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park, 3750 Cotton Bowl Circle, Dallas. Dallas’ most historic football field is transformed into a giant dog park for the eighth annual event. Activities include agility course, a pet/owner look-alike contest, giveaways, exhibits, pet portraits, live music and more. Trainers, veterinarians, pet product vendors, rescue groups and dog clubs will be on hand, and discounted vaccinations and microchipping will be available. Admission is free; parking is $10. Visit fairpark.org for more information.

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Strut Your Mutt, 7 a.m.noon, Fair Park, 3809 Grand Ave., Dallas. Registration begins at 7 a.m., the 3K walk/fun run and timed 5K begin at 8. Leashed dogs are welcome to participate. Family and dog-friendly events include vendor booths, activities for dogs and kids and demonstrations. Entry fee is $35. Those who can’t make it may register as Lazy Dogs and participate in individual or

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Run for Retrievers, 7 a.m., Andy Brown Park East, 260 East Parkway Blvd., Coppell. Registration at 7 a.m., 1-mile run at 8 and 5K at 8:30. Cost for 1-mile run is $20 before race day and $25 day of race. 5K is $30 before May 31, $35 on race day. Behaved dogs on leash are welcome to participate. Proceeds benefit Dallas/Fort Worth Labrador Retriever Rescue Club, Inc. Email runforretrievers5k@dfwlabrescue.org or call (972) 824-8870.

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Dallas Amazing Pet Expo, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Automobile Building in Fair Park, 1010 1st Ave., Dallas. Leashed dogs are welcome with proof of current immunizations for this free event, featuring a special appearance by Shorty Rossi and his pit bull, Hercules, stars of Pit Boss on Animal Planet. More than 165 exhibitors and rescue groups will be on hand and activities include agility, obedience training, pet care, costume contest, talent contest, adoptions, low-

cost vaccines and microchipping. The event is indoors and air-conditioned. Call 800-977-3609 or visit expo@ dallaspetepo.com

n WISCONSIN

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Ice Cream Social and Doggy Playtime, 5-7 p.m., Fox Valley Humane Association, N115 Two Mile Road, Appleton. Owners and dogs are invited to an all-you-can-eat sundae bar. Cost is $5. Dog activities include agility and doggy swimming pools. Visit the shelter to see pets available for adoption. All proceeds benefit the animals in need at FVHA. Please RSVP on the Facebook (facebook.com/ foxvalleyhumaneassociation) event page or email event@foxvalleypets.org.

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Holistic Hounds, 9 a.m.3:30 p.m., Fox Valley Humane Association, N115 Two Mile Road, Appleton. Learn about doggy yoga, natural remedies for your pet, and Tellington TTouch while bonding with your pup. Visit www. foxvalleypets.org/Events/Holistic_ Hounds.aspx for info and to register. All proceeds benefit the animals in need at FVHA.

Gus knows marketing. As a valued member of Kyser Design Werks, Gus the office dog has learned a trick or two when it comes to marketing. If you’re a business owner or professional who’s ready to shift your brand into gear, email Gus today. (Yes, he can type.)

gus@kyserdesignwerks.com

| design | branding | marketing

May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 7


FETCH!

PRODUCTS FOR YOUR POOCH

Don’t worry about the dog at the door What it is: A classy, bronze door knocker for dog lovers But wait, there’s more: It’s signed by artist Michael Healy. Brag about it. The knocker is 3 inches wide, 4 inches tall and 4 inches deep. Breeds include Bulldog, Beagle, West Highland terrier, Dachshund, Maltese, Retriever, Poodle, Shih Tzu, Pug, Pomeranian, Schnauzer, Chihuahua, Boxer and German Shepherd. Fetch it: While you’re showing it off, ignore all questions about its cost, because it’s rather pricey — $120 — for a door knocker. Buy it at architecturaldepot.com.

Barking about a bowl What it is: Fiestaware dishes on your table can now match your dog bowl under the table. Manufacturers of reproductions of the highly collectible glassware have added a small pet bowl. But wait, there’s more: Bowls come in five sizes and colors include marigold, tangerine, turquoise, peacock (blue) and lemongrass. It’s dishwasher safe, lead-free and has a chip-proof glaze. Fetch it: Get it for $14.50 at fiestafactorydirect.com or amazon.com.

Stop the panting What it is: A Handi Drink pet water bottle that turns into a drinking bowl. It’s great for when you’re walking, camping, hiking or traveling with your dog. But wait, there’s more: The bottle is very lightweight and includes a belt clip and strap. Fetch it: The bowl costs $5.49 for the 17-ounce size and $5.99 for the 24-ounce size at drsfostersmith.com.

8 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014


The perfect meal What it is: Petbrosia doesn’t believe one size fits all when it comes to dog food, so they make a special formula specifically for your dog. Give them information like breed, age, weight, energy level, allergies and other health concerns, and they determine the best blend of food for your dog’s nutritional needs and activity level. But wait there’s more: The food, made of all natural ingredients, is shipped to your door, and the company automatically sends a new box when it’s needed based on how much you feed your dog. Fetch it: The company sells food by the pound, starting at three pounds for $4.98. The per-pound price decreases with larger quantities. Available only online at petbrosia.com.

Doggy baby book What it is: A journal that helps you document your dog’s life. But wait there’s more: The book has room for tons of information, including pages for describing when you brought your dog home, details on lineage, growth charts, firsts and favorites, medical records, boarding information and places for pictures. Fetch it: Cost is $34 at pathwaycreations.com.


THE DOCTOR IS IN

SHANE THELLMAN, DVM

My dog does this … is that normal? Over the years, I have heard questions and concerns concerns about dogs, from what we should feed our dogs to why does my dog eat his poop? There are many theories to answer these types of questions, and I will do my best to provide insight into the reasons dogs do some crazy things. “My dog is scooting his rear on the floor … he must have worms”

This “scooting” usually is an attempt to scratch the area around the anus or express the anal glands located on the sides of the rectum. Allergies are a common cause of anal itching that often results in scooting on carpet or grass outside.

Many dogs who have been scooting for a while also have chronic ear infections or other signs of allergic dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis can be a chronic and debilitating disease and should be addressed by your veterinarian for appropriate treatments. Anal glands are fluid-filled sacs located on the sides of the anus. They functioned in the wild dog to serve as marking territory or even as a defense mechanism in some animals. Many of our domestic dogs do not have the fine control to completely empty these sacs at will, which can result in anal gland impaction (abscess). Scooting behavior can help apply pressure to the distended sac, allowing expression of the material within (which is often very smelly). If your dog scoots on a regular basis, have your veterinarian express the anal sacs and make sure there are no medical issues causing the anal gland disease. Parasites are third on my list as to the cause of scooting. Checking a fecal sample for parasites should be done on a yearly basis, or twice yearly if your dog visits dog parks or other common areas where exposure to parasites is greater. Once diagnosed at the veterinary office, most gastrointestinal parasites are easily treated with the proper medication. “My dog lifts his leg to pee. I thought neutering him would fix this.”

West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic

6130 Airline Road Fruitport, MI 49415 www.wmspayandneuter.org info@wmspayandneuter.org

10 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

Lifting the leg to urinate serves as a marking behavior to let other dogs in the area know who is around. It is not always a dominant trait. Once started from puppy age, neutering will not help resolve this learned behavior. I have even owned a few female dogs who lifted their leg in an attempt to urinate on vertical surfaces. There is a theory that using the vertical surfaces will help the scent travel through the air. Neutering before the leg lifting starts will help keep this behavior from happening. However, lifting the leg is not only hormonally driven, it is also a learned behavior.

If your dog sees an older dog lifting a leg at the dog park, your dog can start lifting at any time! “My dog circles in her bed before she lies down, sometimes for 10 minutes. Is this normal?”

Arthritis, senility and ear disease are common medical conditions that can cause circling. For most dogs, circling is mainly a comfort reaction before they relax for the night. If your dog continues to circle once they wake up from a nap, seek veterinary help as this can be a medical condition. “My dog is obsessed with eating feces. What’s up with that?”

From a dog’s perspective, fecal material contains a lot of material worth hanging onto. When your dog was a pup, his or her mother stimulated defecation and urination by licking, causing the pup to defecate or urinate. Fecal eating may be behavioral, developed before their first visit to the dog park. There also are medical reasons for a dog eating their own feces or that of others. Colitis is the inflammation of the colon that can be a result of many different diseases. Inflammation in the colon will cause blood to be leaked into the fecal material. Blood, even the smallest amount, will cause most dogs to think of it as a high protein meal. Fear also can trigger fecal eating. If a dog is constantly punished for defecating in the home, it may be a natural fear that can trigger them to eat their feces to keep you from finding it. House training should be done in a calm, deliberate manner to help prevent future misbehavior. If your dog suddenly starts eating his feces, discuss the matter with your veterinarian to make sure there are not underlining medical conditions. Shane Thellman, DVM, owns Modern Health Veterinary Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. with his wife, Nikki, who also is a veterinarian. Contact Dr. Thellman at smthellman@modernhealthvet.comcastbiz.net.


PAWS-ABILITY

KRISTIE SWAN

What’s your dog thinking? More than you know For those of us who love and care for dogs, it’s an exciting time in scientific research. Not only has science advanced to the point of using less invasive methods of studying the brain, but dog-loving scientists now are including their own canine companions in these studies. Gregory Berns is a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and author of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain. He wanted to know more about what his adopted dog, Callie, was feeling. When Berns set out to determine how MRIs had been done on other animals, he was upset about what he found. Most animals are studied under anesthesia or duress, both of which greatly affect the true value of any reading. He decided to construct an MRI machine in his home and get Callie to willingly participate in the study. There were no leash corrections or harsh sounds used to get his terrier mix to do something many humans require medication to do. MRI machines are confining and loud, and the subject must remain totally still. Using the power of positive reinforcement, Berns and dog trainer Mark Spivak taught Callie to walk up steps into a tube, place her head in a chin rest and then hold her position. Callie also was fitted and taught to accept earmuffs to protect her hearing. Other dogs were brought in, and the same process yielded a team of about a dozen MRI-ready dogs.

While seeking to simply learn more about the canine brain, Berns zeroed in on a particular area that greatly resembled the human brain. This area, known as the caudate nucleus, activates in anticipation of things we enjoy and people we love. Berns found many of the things that activate the caudate region of the human brain do the same in the dog brain. In dogs, caudate activity increased in response to hand signals that indicated food, smells of familiar humans and the return of an owner. While this might not mean the emotional life of a dog is the same as a human, it does help us understand that it is more complex than some give credit for. More recently published in the journal of Current Biology, Dr. Attila Andics of the Comparative Ethology Research Group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and his colleagues performed MRIs on dogs to better understand human/canine communication. Again, dogs were trained using positive reinforcement and what Andics believes is a secret weapon: jealousy. Dogs were taken in to observe the lavish attention given to the subject participating in the MRI. Andics laughed when he recounted how eager the observers became to participate. “There were 12 sessions of preparatory training, then seven sessions in the scanner room, then these dogs were able to lie motionless for as long as 8 minutes. Once they were trained, they were so happy. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it,” Andics said in the published piece. Eleven dogs and 22 humans were placed in the same MRI scanners, where 200 different sounds were played. Human sounds such as crying and laughing (no words), canine vocalizations and a range of environmental sounds, including traffic noises, were used. “The location (of the activity) in the dog brain is very similar to where we found it in the human brain,” Andics said in the report. “The fact that we found these areas exist at all in the dog brain is a surprise. It is the first time we have seen this in a non-primate.” Sounds associated with emotion such as crying and laughing showed similar patterns of activity in the dog and human primary auditory cortex. As a result of this study, Andics said, “We think dogs and humans have a very similar mechanism to process emotional information.” Andics said the focus of his next study will be to see if dogs show sensitivity to particular words. For Berns, the ultimate goal might be to improve the welfare of our best friends. “The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child,” Berns said in his study. “And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.” 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@whiskersgr.com May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 11


the groom room

melissa verplank

Preparation key for wedding party pooches The winter winds have ceased howling. The grass is turning green. The flowers are starting to bloom. Spring is in the air, and wedding season is in full gear. Today, more than ever, we are seeing more pets participate in the festivities surrounding a wedding. Our fourlegged friends are right in the middle of mingling with guests. Are they socially acceptable to be in the thick of things? Are they freshly bathed and smelling fresh? Are they sporting an adorable trim? Are their coats glossy and shedfree? There is plenty of preparation that goes into a traditional wedding. Every

12 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

couple wants their day to be special. Planning a successful wedding is all in the details. If your pooch is going to be part of the festivities, your professional groomer can take a load off your mind by doing the work for you. If your furry friend has not been groomed in the past six months, your groomer may have a harder time creating an appealing look. How often you get your pet groomed depends greatly on its breed, condition and activity level. For some breeds, bathing as often as weekly or biweekly is ideal. Others need full haircuts every four to six weeks. For others, once or twice a year might be fine, especially for very short-coated pets. A groomer can only do so much based on the condition of the pet. If your pet’s coat is out of control with mats and tangles, many times the only

If your pooch is going to be part of the festivities, your professional groomer can take a load off your mind by doing the work for you. alternative is to shave the pet naked and start over. Generally, this is not the most appealing haircut for four-legged social butterflies! Most pets have the mentality of a 2- or 3-year-old child. If your child’s hair was pelted, would you expect them to sit quietly while the tangle was brushed out? Probably not. In the United States, the pet grooming industry is unregulated. Anyone, regardless of experience, training or qualifications, can set themselves up as a groomer. If you don’t


the groom room

already have a professional groomer, ask for referrals. Take the time to meet the groomers and tour the facility before booking an appointment. If you want your dog to be styling throughout the festivities, plan ahead. Good groomers are in demand. Spring and early summer are peak times for busy salons. Most are booked weeks and sometimes even months in advance. Most groomers love to toss in some extra services to ensure your pet looks its best. Many will even create custom accoutrements that match the wedding party. Just ask. Groomers are a creative bunch. Let them know what role your fur baby is playing in the wedding. Most likely, your groomer will have an arsenal of creative ideas to help you out, from tuxedo-style neck collars to a wreath of posies or bows filled with flowers and jewels. Many salons even

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offer temporary hair color, rhinestones and other fun, unique accessories. If your pooch is going to participate in your upcoming nuptials, having them freshly groomed is important. Let your groomer know you are planning a wedding. He or she will work with you to ensure your dog looks wedding ready. 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.

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good grief

ginny mikita

A triumphant send-off for man’s best friend Funerals and memorial services have played integral roles in honoring and grieving the loss of the dead throughout both secular and religious human history. Today, even while fewer people choose to get married in a church, most people continue to turn to the church for human funerals. And even for those who opt to use funeral homes in lieu of church sanctuaries, Judeo-Christian world views tend to be the canvas upon which the service is painted. For example, in one pamphlet titled Answers to a Child’s Questions About Death displayed at a local funeral home, the prefatory language acknowledges while “this booklet incorporates basic Judeo-Christian concepts, it … in no way reflects a specific religious point of view.” Humans, in the end — figuratively and literally — tend to find themselves turning to God. For most, there is no comparable secular alternative. While the church has provided burial rites for people through the ages, the notion of doing the same for pets is on the rise. I recently interviewed a dear friend of mine, BenjaminDavid Hutchison, who serves as Senior Pastor of Cassopolis UMC and officiated at a memorial service for one of his parishioner’s dogs, Triumph.

Q: How did you select the location? Hutchison: Triumph’s human companion, Jeff, has been a regular member of the Cassopolis United Methodist Church family. We held the ceremony at the home of Triumph and Jeff to allow local residents of the apartment building to attend. There was a wonderful turnout of support and encouragement by church members and apartment residents. Triumph was a member of the church community as he attended the church’s yearly animal blessing and would often be at church with Jeff as he watered the grass and flowers. He was one of us, and we loved him. Q: Please share a bit about the

ceremony itself.

Hutchison: During the ceremony, we lit a candle with Triumph’s picture on it to remind us that we will always have the memories of Triumph and how that will always be a light of our lives when we remember the joy and

companionship he brought so diligently to Jeff and others. There was a poem read, scripture and a message and beautiful eloquent prayer that reminds us of St. Francis and asking him to meet our companion animals at the gates of heaven. I strongly believe that Jeff was touched through this experience, as well as those who attended … that Jeff ’s church family supported him and was there to assist him as he transitioned into a different chapter of life without the companionship of Triumph. The memorial service also allowed for the testimony of the local church to be seen within the community. People were touched to see how much the church family of CUMC cared about its family members and that they would support and encourage them through difficult times. Q: Do you believe companion animals

go to heaven?

Hutchison: Years ago, I asked a dear professor and someone I continue to admire for his brilliance and compassion

Q: What inspired you to perform an

animal memorial service?

Hutchison: There are no boundaries for the love of God and, therefore, I attempt to be an example of Christ upon this Earth in any way I can. That means this time, when a parishioner’s companion animal passed away, I did what I could with the church’s help, and we held a memorial service.

14 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

Photo courtesy Ginny Mikita

Jeff Singleton holds his dog, Triumph, at last summer’s Blessing of the Animals. Performing the blessing are Ginny Mikita and the Rev. BenjaminDavid Hutchison.


good grief

to teach others about animals in heaven. From him I learned about the creation stories within the Hebrew scriptures and how these two accounts clearly show that animals were created before humans. The Hebrew scriptures also speak of a great flood, and there was only one human and his family saved, but two and seven of every kind of animal were saved within an ark. These accounts speak of God’s love and admiration for animals and how well they contribute to our earthly experience. It is through these animals that we can understand a peaceful world and what unconditional love means. If humanity could love as Triumph loved Jeff, the world would be a much better place. Ginny Mikita is a certified candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church and owner of Mikita Kruse Law Center, specializing in animal protection law. Contact her at ginnymikita64@gmail.com.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same … All go to one place.” — Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 The prayer from Triumph’s memorial service Dear Lord, please open your gates and call St. Francis to come escort this beloved companion across the Rainbow Bridge. Assign him to a place of honor, for he has been a faithful servant and has always done his best to please me. Bless the hands that send him to you for they are doing so in love and compassion, freeing him from pain and suffering. Grant me the strength not to dwell on my loss. Help me remember the details of his life with the love he has shown me.

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And grant me the courage to honor him by sharing those memories with others. Let him remember me as well and let him know that I will always love him. And when it’s my time to pass over into your paradise, please allow him to accompany those who will bring me home. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of his companionship and for the time we’ve had together. And thank you, Lord for granting me the strength to give him to you now. Amen.

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ISSUES

ANIMAL ABUSER REGISTRY

Legislation aims to crack down on animal abusers By Paul R. Kopenkoskey

Aaron Bellor did his level best to ensure Sassy breathed her last. In January, Bellor told police he unintentionally knocked a pan of hot water on Sassy, his pet schnauzer, while making grits. Flummoxed, the Bay City, Mich., resident took the dog outside and ran over her with his car. When he realized Sassy was still alive, Bellor drove over her a second time, killing her. In an unrelated incident, Derek Keyes, also of Bay City, was upset his roommate had not paid his share of the rent. So in February, after dumping detergent into his roommate’s fish tank, he then pounded on the roommate’s pit bull, Lizzy, with a hammer. The dog survived the injuries. State Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) grows exasperated when he recalls these violent events, noting that both men and others who commit violent acts against animals can continue to adopt animals in the future. “Right now, there’s nothing to stop them from adopting from a humane society,” Santana said. Santana wants to change that by pushing for a bill that would require animal abusers to register with the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) database maintained by Michigan State Police. The database allows the public to search for criminal offenders. If his bill becomes law, Santana said Michigan would be the first state to establish an animal abusers registry. There are a handful of states, including New York, California and Maryland, that have pending legislation. Santana’s bill is part of proposed legislation that also would prohibit animal protection shelters and animal control shelters registered with the Michigan Department of Agriculture from adopting out animals to people convicted of animal abuse. Shelters would need to check the ICHAT 16 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

Photo courtesy logan’s law facebook page

The animal abuse registry legislation is known as “Logan’s Law,” named after the husky in Michigan who was attacked in his own yard by a stranger. Logan suffered from chemical burns to his face and eventually died from complications related to the attack.

database prior to adopting out an animal, and failure to do so could result in the suspension or revocation of their license or registration and/or a $1,000 fine for each violation. The legislation exempts pet stores, breeders and classified advertisement websites. The bills, which at press time were on the Senate and House floors for a full vote, also would bar those convicted of animal abuse from owning animals for five years. The legislation has bipartisan support. Santana, Rep. Paul Muxlow (R-Brown City) and Sens. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) and Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) joined forces to form a unified front on cracking down on animal abuse in Michigan. If approved, the legislation would bolster Michigan’s standing with animal welfare organizations. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 2013 U.S. Animal Protection Law rankings, Michigan is

among the top five states for animal protection laws, rising to third from fourth in 2012 after making animal fighting a Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Act offense. Michigan also added felonies for repeated or aggravated animal neglect, abandonment, abandonment resulting in death and serious injury of an animal. Jen Self-Aulgur, director of education and community programs for the Humane Society of West Michigan, supports linking the names of animal abusers to ICHAT. But she wishes an earlier draft of Santana’s bill would have survived. That one would have launched a separate animal abuser registry instead of linking it to ICHAT. “The animal abuse registry was just focused on animal abuse,” SelfAulgur said. “I think that’s the only information we need with such a registry. From what I understand, (the revised bill) would be giving us access to ICHAT. There are some privacy


concerns with that. We hope it would not deter people from adopting, because looking up their criminal history could be daunting for some people. We really like the original bill better. The overall good of the (current) bill outweighs our concern. “And we really love what Santana is doing. He’s a huge advocate for animals for Michigan. We do understand bills do get watered down.” Santana’s legislative assistant, Renee Edmondson, confirmed that all crimes added to ICHAT could be viewed by those who log into the database by conducting a name search. Animal welfare organizations would be able to check ICHAT for free, while private citizens would continue to pay a $10 fee. There’s a financial, and manpower, benefit to using ICHAT rather than a separate animal abuse registry. Because ICHAT already exists, there is no cost involved in building, maintaining and servicing a new database system. Beatrice “Bee” Friedlander, former executive director of the Ann

Arbor-based Animals and Society Institute who now serves on its board of directors, said the legislation would assuage the apprehension staff members sometimes have when adopting out animals. Friedlander, a founding member of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and Michigan Attorneys for Animals, testified in favor of the law before the state House Judiciary Committee in June 2013 and submitted her testimony to the state Senate Judiciary Committee. “I have volunteered at several shelters and completely understand how people who work in shelters and rescues feel,” she said. “They have animals in their care and, as much as they try to get them adopted and spend a lot of time doing the best screening, most every person affiliated with a rescue or shelter has a fear of adopting out an a animal. A person fills out a questionnaire and they seem like a good person to adopt to, and they become the worst nightmare. I completely sympathize with those who want to

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stop that.” An earlier draft of Santana’s bill that proposed an animal abuser registry not linked to ICHAT received pushback from the business sector and some lawmakers. “This has been a true testament to the legislative jiujitsu in trying to get something done,” Santana said. “These animal breeder groups hired extensive lobby firms, and I can’t tell you the amount of opposition I got from people who breed animals. It’s a bizarre world people live in.” Additional opposition came from retail pet stores, farmers and those involved with animal husbandry. “The farming community considers them property; others say they’re living things,” he said. ”It’s a philosophical debate. The farming community got concerned that this could conceivably take away cows, horses and chickens. That’s more fear than reality.” Santana said his bill pertains only to “companion animals,” meaning dogs, cats and small rodents that are up for adoption.

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WORKING DOGs

DOGS AT WORK

Working like a dog? Try working with a dog Max, an 8-year-old black Lab mix, has a cozy spot under the desk of his owner, Rena Guttrich, at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

a

Story by Linda Odette Photos by Kate Jonkman

dog under your desk, on your lap or sunning itself in the window at your workplace makes for a more enjoyable environment at your everyday job. The list of benefits of bringing your dog to the workplace is long. A survey by the American Pet Products Association showed people believe having dogs at the workplace makes for happier workers, reduces stress, increases creativity, decreases absenteeism, improves relations between coworkers and creates a more productive work environment. The Virginia Commonwealth University business school conducted research on the benefits of bringing dogs to work. It concluded the idea was “a low-cost wellness intervention.” The research team took saliva samples from employees that showed stress levels fell at work for those with their dogs nearby and grew for those without. Even the Center for Disease 18 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

Control and Prevention has published papers on how the practice decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and encourages exercise. More and more, dogs are being allowed in the workplace, from large corporations to small local businesses. Bissell Inc., the floor care company based in Walker, Mich., goes out of its way to make sure employees’ best friends get a chance to spend the day at the office. The company, known for its pet charity work, built a Pet Spot area that includes three dog kennels and cubicles for those who want to bring their dogs to work. About 30 dogs are regular visitors to the spacious room, which was opened in 2010. The kennels feature doggy doors leading to fenced-in outdoor kennels and windows let dog owners watch their pet. The swanky spot includes a dog wash, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher and a table and chairs for small meetings. “It’s definitely made it an even more positive place to work,” says Trish

Taylor, public relations and social media marketing manager at Bissell. Steve Broemer and Carey Brown like to bring their dogs to the Pet Spot on the same day. Broemer is the owner of Tazer, a 1-year-old Catohoula mix, and Brown has a 2-year-old chocolate Lab named Holly. The two dogs entertain themselves playing tug of the war most of the day … there’s little barking and a lot of tail wagging. “It’s great,” Broemer says. “It’s kind of like a break from work.” Both Broemer and Brown say having the dogs around doesn’t negatively affect how much work they get done, though. Brown thinks the days she works beside her dog actually are more peaceful and quiet than the regular work area. Bissell has a three-page pet policy, which includes rules such as passing a temperament test and having vaccines and a license before a dog can be brought to work, Taylor says. Interns like to ask to take dogs for walks on the mile-long trail outside the


building, Taylor says, and many retailers stop by for a visit. “It’s a really great place to bring in customers,” Taylor says. Bissell is just one example of companies allowing dogs in the workplace. Roberta F. King, vice president of public relations and marketing at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, brings her 11-year-old Dachshund, Lucy, in about once a week. “It really sets a nice tone,” King says. “Everyone’s happy and kind of smiling when the dogs are around.” King said she’d bring Lucy to work more often, but the dog is a bit needy. “She cries when she’s left by herself,” says King, who is known for having Lucy on her lap at meetings. Besides the sweet feeling of having a dog on your lap, a day at work with Lucy means King has to get out of the office and take her for a walk to Rosa Parks Circle. That helps make for a less stressful day, King says. Visitors figure out early on that GRCF is a dog friendly workplace. When a dog is going to be in the office,

Lucy gets plenty of attention from her owner, Roberta F. King, at the GR Community Foundation.

a sign on the reception desk features the dog’s name and picture, letting visitors know there’s a dog present. The community foundation has a written policy, approved by its board of trustees, regarding dogs at work. Dogs must be up to date on its vaccinations

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and be housebroken. Employees must send an email a day in advance to clear their dog. “We’re an old company,” King says of the organization, which formed in 1922. “We tend to do things a bit more formally.”


WORKING DOGs

DOGS AT WORK

Rena Guttrich, executive assistant at GRCF, brings Max, a rescued 8-yearold black Lab mix, to the office. Max knows which employees have treats waiting in their desk drawers and will sit by the drawer until he gets one, Guttrich says. For many, it’s hard not to stop by for a bit of petting and dog talk, and some tend to visit her desk area when work gets stressful. “People stop by saying they need a doggy moment,” Guttrich says. Dogs not only can make for a calmer day, but they also can serve as an immediate ice-breaker and conversation starter. Guttrich loves telling people she has a dog under her desk. “They start gushing,” she says. “They come around and hug and pet him. A lot of people are dog people. A lot of people are envious.” Randy Smith, owner of Michigan Rag Co. in Grand Haven, Mich., has no doubt Cabo, his 11-pound Chihuahua, is good for him, his employees, his customers and his business. “Studies have shown dogs make people calmer,” Smith says. “He’s everybody’s little friend.” The 19-year-old dog is a beggar for treats from employees and is especially close to the mailman, who once brought him a huge dog bone biscuit. Cabo’s dog friends down the street also have figured out that being a store dog means lots of treats and extra attention. “We have customers who don’t know our name but they know the dogs’ names,” says Linda Tebeau, who owns Hostetter’s News Agency in Grand Haven with her husband, Tom. The Tebeaus have two Treeing Walker coonhounds who squeeze behind the counter of the news stand. Daisy, 10, weighs about 75 pounds; Abel, also 10, weighs about 88 pounds. Their daily routine is a mix of taking turns sitting outside on a leash while soaking up the sun, getting cookies from customers, watching traffic go by from the window and taking naps. Tebeau thinks having the dogs around helped her stay sane through the long Michigan winter, especially since store traffic slowed during the cold months. 20 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

TOP LEFT: Abel (left) and Daisy (right) with Linda Tebeau, owner of Hostetter’s News Agency in Grand Haven. TOP RIGHT: Cabo with owner Randy Smith (middle) and employees Ryan Edson (left) and Bruce Farr (right), of the Michigan Rag Co. in Grand Haven. ABOVE: James with Bob Hutchinson, owner of Buffalo Bob’s in Grand Haven.

“They make me go out, and I probably wouldn’t have been that active this winter if not for them,” she says. But whether Tebeau survives the winter and spring isn’t what tourists are first concerned with when they return for the summer. “If they don’t see the dogs right away, they worry,” Tebeau says. “They don’t want to hear something’s happened to the dogs.” Just down the street at Buffalo Bob’s in Grand Haven, customers

slather their affection on James, a 60-pound Lab mix rescue who has been hanging out at the store for seven years. Owners Bob and Jill Hutchinson live above the store. Bob Hutchinson says James is very skilled at sleeping and at being right by his side. “If I move, he gets up and follows me around.” Whether his dog’s sweet face is good for business, he says he doesn’t know. But, Hutchinson says, “I don’t think he’s hurt it any.”


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Holly, a chocolate Lab, keeps busy at work with Bissell employee Carey Brown.

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FEATURE STORY

wedding dogs

Wedding Bells &Tails BY SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS

T

he brides were radiant, naturally, and the bridegrooms never more handsome. So dashing. So debonair on their big day — the day they exchanged their wedding vows and said “I do.” But the brides and grooms you’re about to meet in this series of vignettes were far from being the center of attention, even at their own weddings, dressed in their finest and looking their very best. No, it’s safe to say, all eyes were on their dogs. That’s right. The brides’ and grooms’ dogs. The canines performed such important

22 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

duties as delivering wedding rings to best men, wearing flowers, dancing with the bride, and acting as an appreciative audience during ceremonies and champagne toasts. Their stories are as different as the couples, the lives they lead — and the dogs they own — but they all have one important thing in common: No one could imagine getting married without having their best friends — their dogs — in the wedding party. These pooches are more than pets. They are family. And the day wouldn’t have been nearly as special without them.


Leah and Mike Bell & Tekay

FEATURE STORY

wedding dogs

The couple: Leah, 32, grooms dogs at Eastown Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, Mich. Mike, 36, is a tutor at Grand Rapids Community College. They live in Grand Rapids. The ceremony: The Bells were married at Bertha Brock Park in Ionia, Mich., on July 12, 2008. The dog: Tekay, a female Lab mix, was 12 when the Bells tied the knot. She served as the couple’s “flower dog,” wearing bows and a decorative leash and behaving perfectly. In February 2013, Tekay died at the age of 17, leaving a huge hole in the Bells’ family. “She’ll go down in history as one of the great dogs of all times,” Leah said. Although she and Mike thought they weren’t ready for another pet right away, they fell in love a month later with a mixed breed puppy they named Eleanor. The wedding tail: Tekay wasn’t the only dog at the wedding. Friends and family also brought their dogs to the ceremony at the park — a perfect venue for the dogs to run and play together. “They were their own little pack. It was pretty adorable,” Leah said. Later at the wedding reception, Tekay relaxed in the middle of the floor, sacked out while Leah’s dad made a speech, and everyone toasted the happy couple.

Photos by katy batdorff

Tekay hammed it up with bride Leah Bell and her bridesmaids. Facing page: Leah and Mike Bell had their black Lab mix, Tekay, serve as “flower dog” in their nuptials.

Jenelle and Donald Graczyk & Kletus The couple: Jenelle, 34, owns a hairstyle salon, Jenelle’s Beauty Shop, in her home. Donald, 41, works for UPS. They live in Wayland, Mich.

The ceremony: The couple was married on Donald’s family farm near Wayland, on Sept. 14, 2013. The dog: Kletus, a black-and-white

Photo by Katy Batdorff

After chasing a cat for a bit, Kletus made his way down the aisle with fellow ring bearer Logan.

shih tzu, shared ring-bearer duty with Jenelle’s 7-year-old son, Logan, and 4-year-old nephew, Dominic. “He had a tie on, and everything,” Jenelle said. Kletus was Jenelle’s dog before she met Donald. He goes everywhere with her, including working with her in the salon. “He was my first baby,” she said. “He’s just been the greatest dog.” The wedding tail: It was seconds before Jenelle and her bridesmaids were going to walk down the aisle. The flower girls were in place. The ring bearers — boys and dog — were waiting their turn. Then, Kletus spots Logan’s cat, tiptoeing out of the barn. A chase pursues: dog after cat, people after dog, photographer catching everything for posterity. “It was very humorous,” Jenelle said. Once things calmed down, Logan “sort of dragged” Kletus down the aisle, but Kletus stole the show because he “prances” when he walks. “Really,” Jenelle said, “it was the best wedding ever. It wouldn’t have been the same without Kletus. ”

May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 23


FEATURE STORY

wedding dogs

Jenny and Ray Erickson & Fidelis The couple: Jenny, 29, is a surgical and material coordinator for Walker (Mich.) Surgical Center. Ray, 34, is a certified ophthalmic technician who recently graduated from the police academy and hopes to be in law enforcement. They live in Kentwood, Mich. The ceremony: The Ericksons were married at Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery in Lake Leelanau, Mich, on Sept. 7, 2012. The dog: Fidelis, a female, is a 10-year-old miniature Schnauzer. She walked down the aisle with Jenny’s sister, who was the matronof-honor. Fidelis wore a custom designed, red-and-white polka dot harness that matched the ring bearer’s suspenders. Later, Fidelis danced with Jenny at the reception. The wedding tail: No one who knows Jenny was surprised to see her pooch walk down the aisle as part of the wedding party. “She’s adorable. She’s my baby,” Jenny said. “Don’t tell my husband, but she’s my best friend. Oh, that’s OK. He knows.” It rained all day, which made for muddy paws. Jenny’s wedding dress was covered with Fidelis’ paw prints. “Of course, she jumped on me,” Jenny said. “I didn’t mind.” Fidelis took on the task of unofficial greeter at the wedding and reception. The couple’s friends were charmed by her. “They all said they wished they’d thought about having their dogs in their weddings,” Jenny said.

Photo by N. Kristine Photography, nkristine.com

Despite the rain, Fidelis enjoyed the big day with her owners.

Erik and Ben Holladay-McCann & Ethel The couple: Erik, 42, is a freelance photographer who owns Holladay Photography. Ben, 29, is an accountant for Stryker Corp. They live in Kalamazoo, Mich. The ceremony: Erik and Ben had a family wedding on Sept. 14, 2013, at the home of Erik’s parents in Cascade, Mich. On Dec. 19, 2013, they repeated their vows in Seattle, where it is legal for gay couples to marry.

The dog: Ethel the Divine Lady, a Boston terrier, was 9 when the couple married. She is a rescue whom Ben and Erik adopted the previous year. Ethel was given up for adoption because her first owners were divorced. “Sad,” Erik said, “but we lucked out. So it ended up happy.” Ethel wore a World War II bomber jacket for the ceremony. She snuggled up — and snored — in the lap of Ben’s aunt. “She falls asleep, and when she does, she snores like crazy,” Erik said. The wedding tail: Erik and Ben decided against having Ethel walk down the aisle with them, even though she’s not a mischievous dog. “She loves to be up in people’s arms, in their laps,” Erik said. “She’s with me all the time.” Although her role during the ceremony was minimal, Ethel the Divine Lady took center stage at the reception. She danced all night, hopping on her back legs and wearing a bumblebee costume. “She made an entrance. She was adorable in her costume,” Erik said. “Everybody on the dance floor just stopped and watched her. She has this beautiful/ugly thing going on.”

Photo By Kendra Stanley-Mills

24 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

Ethel the Divine Lady sported a World War II bomber jacket during the ceremony, and switched to a bee costume for the reception.


Stephanie and David Kloss & Sadie

FEATURE STORY

wedding dogs

The couple: Stephanie and David, both 37, are both in sales. They live in Des Plaines, Ill. The ceremony: Stephanie and David were married on the beach at Lake Michigan, near the bride’s family home in Norton Shores, Mich., on May 25, 2013. The dog: Sadie, who is “mostly fox hound,” was 9 when the Klosses were married. In the wedding, Sadie, whom David rescued when she was 1 1/2, was an interested observer. “She’s a big girl” and has never gone through formal obedience training, so Stephanie’s cousin — who is a veterinarian — held her firmly during the ceremony. “Now we’re good friends,” Stephanie said about Sadie, “but holy moly, there was a time. Mind you, I didn’t grow up with dogs.” The wedding tail: Stephanie’s beloved 12-year-old black cat, Lincoln, also attended. “I insisted,” Stephanie said. “Before we were even engaged, David talked about them being in our family. They are such a part of us. They’re who we are as a family ... a merged family.” Neither dog nor cat dressed up or carried rings for the occasion because “we both knew we couldn’t trust them,” Stephanie said. “They would have flipped out.” David and

Photo By Kendra Stanley-Mills

The bride’s cousin, a veterinarian, had a firm hold on Sadie during the ceremony … just in case. Thankfully, Sadie was well behaved.

Sadie got to the beach before the bride and her family, and Sadie — who was a little excited at all the activity — started barking incessantly. But both she and Lincoln were very wellbehaved and “kept quiet during the ceremony.” Later, when the wedding party posed for pictures, the cat and dog were included. The cat protested mightily … the bride needed a bandage after convincing her kitty to face the camera.

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FEATURE STORY

wedding dogs

Merrill and Chris Markiewicz & Joey The couple: Merrill, 26, and Chris, 32, are both senior engineers. They live in Nagoya, Japan. The ceremony: The couple was married March 16, 2013, in the mayor’s office in Grand Rapids, Mich. Their wedding reception was at Bistro Bello Vita in Grand Rapids. The dog: Joey, a silver Lab, was almost 2 when his people were married. Chris adopted Joey just a few months before he and Merrill started dating. Merrill says she wouldn’t be surprised if she and Chris “clicked” even more quickly than usual because they both love this dog so much. It took some doing — lots of red tape, paperwork and shots to prove he is rabies-free — but Joey moved with Merrill and Chris to Japan. The wedding tail: Joey was really, really excited when it came time to take the wedding pictures because he hadn’t seen Merrill and Chris for a couple of days. He kept rubbing

Photo by Kendra Stanley-Mills

Merrill and Chris Markiewicz took their best friend Joey to the Calder Plaza for a photo shoot after their wedding at the mayor’s office in Grand Rapids, Mich.

against them and their clean clothes — and he kept rushing up to the photographer, Kendra Stanley-Mills, to see what she was doing.

Lis and Jeff Merewether & Audrey, Jasmine The couple: Lis, 36, works at the YMCA in Farmington Hills, Mich. Jeff, 45, works in IT for Oakwood Healthcare System in southeastern Michigan. They live in Southfield, Mich.

planned an outdoor wedding, but it was “unseasonably cold” that day, so on Oct. 6, 2012, they were married in the chapel at First Presbyterian Church in Muskegon.

The ceremony: Lis and Jeff

The dogs: Lis came into the

relationship with Audrey, 7, a miniature Dachshund, and Jeff came into it with Jasmine, 13, a black Lab. Both dogs wore black harnesses adorned in silk sunflowers. They walked down the aisle with one of Lis’ sisters. “Before we met, our dogs were a big part of our family,” Lis said. “They were our family. We’re not those crazy people who think our dogs are our children, but we love our dogs very much. It wouldn’t have been right without them.” Jasmine died in July 2013, but her image — her muzzle all white — is captured forever in the couple’s wedding picture that hangs in their living room. the Wedding tail: The dogs were good throughout the wedding ceremony. They just “stood there,” Lis said. Unlike the dogs, Lis’ 2-year-old niece didn’t stand still. She decided to leave her spot in the pew and join her mom — Lis’ sister was matron-of-honor — while the happy couple exchanged their wedding vows.

Photo By Kendra Stanley-Mills

Audrey, a miniature Dachshund, and Jasmine, a black Lab, happily observed the wedding of their owners, Lis and Jeff Merewether. 26 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

An aside: Lis is pregnant with twins, due in October. “Audrey’s in for some big changes,” Lis said.


FEATURE STORY

Holly and Jeremy Seymour & Enzo The couple: Holly, 40, is a social worker for a domestic violence program. Jeremy, 39, is the general manager of a music venue. The couple lives in Grand Rapids, Mich.

wedding dogs

The ceremony: The Seymours were married in an outdoor ceremony in Pentwater, Mich., on June 28, 2009. The dog: Enzo — whose heritage is “anybody’s guess” — was approximately 2 years old when the Seymours were married. He served as their ring bearer. The couple adopted him from a shelter in Chicago, where they lived at the time, about a year before the wedding. Enzo was malnourished, wandering the streets of Chicago, when he was rescued. He’s named for a character in The Godfather. The wedding tail: Enzo was a perfect gentleman at the wedding, wearing a basic collar with both rings attached. Jeremy’s brother walked with Enzo down the aisle. Jeremy says there was never any question whether the dog would be in the wedding party. “He’s been to every party we’ve ever had. We figured he needed to be with us on our most important day ... you know, the BIG party,” Jeremy said. Perhaps Enzo beat Jeremy Seymour to the punch when he heard “You may now kiss the bride” before planting one on Holly. Photo by Katy Batdorff

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FEATURE STORY

blocktail

Cause for Celebration

Changes ahead for the pet lover’s event of the season By Tricia Woolfenden | Photos by jennifer waters

Dawn Omboy has made a name for herself in the pet grooming industry by turning dogs into living works of art. To hear her tell it, however, the canine family is, in and of itself, a thing of splendor. “Dogs are magical creatures,” Omboy said. Omboy is just one of many dog aficionados who will be in attendance at the Bissell Blocktail Party in Grand Rapids. The award-winning certified master groomer will travel from Georgia to share her skills and products with guests at the popular annual event June 11. “I bring smiles to people’s faces,” Omboy said of her work, which often involves temporarily dying dogs’ fur in an array of colors and designs. Omboy has done everything from transforming a white poodle into a pumpkin to stenciling a dog’s fur with leopard spots to giving dogs rainbow-colored mohawks. She

28 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

even kept her beloved poodle, Molleigh, a special shade of pink. “They’re things that will make people go, ‘Wow, how cute,’ ” Omboy said. Omboy’s unorthodox approach to pet styling has earned her the title of “Queen of Color” and a role as a judge at creative pet styling competitions around the country. She also has produced two instructional DVDs (Creative Canine Color and Design and Touch of Color) and has appeared on TV’s Today and Animal Planet. At Blocktail, Omboy will have a variety of “bling things” available, such as shiny bindis that can safely be affixed to a dog’s forehead. She also will have the capability to add quick touches of color and perform hand painting and detailing for canine guests. Her goal is to help people to have fun with their pets and to “start small” with little touches.


IF YOU GO TO BISSELL BLOCKTAIL PARTY What: Bissell Pet Foundation’s signature annual event When: 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 Where: Mangiamo, 1033 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids Why: To raise funds for West Michigan pet welfare organizations Tickets: $65 if purchased before June 9; $75 after. For $100, get a Ticket, PLUS!, which includes admission to the event and entry into a drawing for an iPad. More info: (616) 735-6666, bissellblocktailparty.com

“Sometimes, people don’t realize what they’re getting into,” Omboy said. Omboy’s products are dog-safe and approved for pet use. The process is faster than many people anticipate, she said, and the dog typically is on the grooming table for only a short time. The dyes also easily wash away when it’s time for a new look. Omboy acknowledges the eyecatching transformations are not every person’s taste. The intention, she said, is to “reflect the joy and happiness” each dog brings to a person’s life. “Folks either love it or they don’t,” Omboy said. “For me, dogs have always been a creature of awe and wonder. A dog does not care if it’s got something shiny glued to its butt or pink tips on its ears.” Omboy said the blinged-out dogs often are on the receiving end of additional affection from family and strangers alike — something, she said, that serves as a reward for the pampered pets. “They just got what they want: attention,” she said.

Reincke, co-chairwoman of the 2014 Blocktail Party, said there have been a number of changes to enhance the event. Among those is the integration of mobile bidding for the silent auction, which serves as a key fundraising component of the event. Blocktail Party organizers have teamed with AuctionsByCellular to allow attendees to register for the auction online or at check-in. Bidders then can use their smartphones throughout the party to stay up to date on bids. The application sends alerts when a bid has been outmatched, eliminating the need to travel back and forth between the bidding area and other parts of the party. “It will streamline the process and make it fun and easier,” Reincke said, adding the auction “is one of the best in town.” Personal shoppers will be available to assist guests with bidding, including those partygoers who don’t have smartphones or don’t wish to bid electronically from their device. The refreshments also have gotten a tweak, with five different food vendors and a new cocktail in the mix. On the food menu are wood-fired pizzas by the Gilmore Collection and other treats from Yesterdog, Twisted Rooster, Kangaroo Kitchen and Catering, and Saburba.

FEATURE STORY

blocktail

This year also marks the introduction of a yet-to-be-determined signature cocktail as created by the bartenders at Mangiamo. In May, the restaurant will host a happy hour to select the official cocktail. Guests during that event will be given the chance to choose the winning entry by paying $20 for a flight of three potential Blocktail Cocktails. The selected cocktail will appear at the party in June. A solid foundation for fun

Reincke, who served on the Blocktail Party committee before becoming co-chairwoman, said she looks forward to the event each summer for its “great, relaxed, fun atmosphere.” But she and her cohorts also relish the chance to distribute proceeds from the party to the region’s most wellrespected animal welfare organizations. Last year, the Bissell Pet Foundation awarded nearly $250,000 in grants from the event’s proceeds. The committee hopes to surpass that figure in 2014. “One of the most awesome things about (the Blocktail Party) is that it benefits the entire animal welfare community,” Reincke said. “It’s really brought the community together.”

New features for a longtime favorite

The Queen of Color is not the only addition to this year’s affair. Shannon

The Bissell Blocktail Party, billed as the “Best Dog Gone Party in Town,” takes place June 11 from 6-9 p.m. on the lawn of Mangiamo restaurant in Grand Rapids.

May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 29


FEATURE STORY

blocktail

Reincke said beneficiaries range from general pet health and welfare to specific niches, such as feral cats and spay and neuter programs. This year’s recipients are Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary, Carol’s Ferals, Humane Society of West Michigan, Vicky’s Pet Connection, Kent County Animal Shelter, Safe Haven Humane Society, Reuben’s Room Cat Rescue, Focus on Ferals, Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary and the Community SpayNeuter Initiative Partnership (C-SNIP).

Adopted dogs sport a colorful bandana for the annual event.

Additionally, any animal welfare organization in the greater Grand Rapids area is invited to apply for a Bissell Blocktail grant. Reincke said the diversity of grantees is appealing “whether you’re a general animal lover or have a specific interest.” Of course, no party for pet lovers would be complete without a few fourlegged guests on the invitation list. The event is open to any well-behaved, dogand stranger-friendly pup. Adopted dogs will receive special recognition, and guests are encouraged to alert Blocktail Party volunteers if their companion was a rescue. The canine crowd ensures things stay lively, and human and dog guests are invited to pose together at the photo booth, which has proved a hit in previous years. “There are so many dogs there,” Reincke said. “It just makes it a riot.”

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Animal advocate Jordan Carson of WOOD-TV8 and WOTV4 stopped by the photo booth with her dog at last year’s Blocktail Party.


come. sit. stay.

and save the date!

The “BEST DOG-GONE Party in Town” is back! Join the 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.

June 11, 2014 • Mangiamo! • 6-9 p.m. 1033 Lake Drive SE Grand Rapids, MI

Tickets

Purchase tickets in advance at bissellblocktailparty.com for $65/person. $75/person at the event.

Meet Moose!

our 2014 Blockstar

Questions?

Like us on Facebook facebook.com/bissellblocktailparty

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Visit bissellblocktailparty.com or call 616.735.6666 photo by terpstraphoto.com May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 31


doggy destination:

FRANKENMUTH

Little Bow-varia

Every Memorial Day weekend, Frankenmuth is transformed by Dog Bowl

E

By Candilynn and Michael Lockhart

very Memorial Day weekend, Frankenmuth — known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” — is transformed into a dog lover’s paradise. Dog Bowl, billed as the nation’s largest Olympic-style event for canines, is high energy and showcases dogs running, jumping, diving and retrieving. The event includes the Canine Cruise on the Cass River, various dog contests and a pet parade complete with a king and queen. Thousands gather to take part in or watch the competition, shop the hundreds of dog specialty vendors, adopt a new pet from hundreds

32 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

of rescues, learn something interesting from the interactive seminars, or simply enjoy a good old-fashioned Frankenmuth chicken dinner. One event that draws large crowds is the Dock Dogs competition. It’s a nationally sanctioned event in which dogs compete for distance and height by jumping from a dock at top speeds into a 30-foot-long pool of water. Dogs of many breeds, sizes and skills jump from the platform, and newbies are encouraged to give it a try between the competitive divisions. If you want to feel some of the action, just stand close to the pool. Be warned: You will get wet. Another popular spectator event is the Disc Dogs of Michigan. All

Big D DaVinci of the DaVinci Foundation for Animals was crowned king at last year’s Dog Bowl.


weekend, dogs and handlers compete in several events, including throw and catch, freestyle and extreme distance. Judges score on originality and style for Pros, Intermediate, Novice and Junior (14 and younger) handlers. If watching Dock Dogs and Disc Dogs gets your competitive juices flowing, take your pooch to the Doggie Dash De Lure course and compete in a fast-paced, exciting, controlled lure course event. Dogs run individually on the fenced-in course, chasing a fuzzy tail — the lure — in the timed event. There is no skill class or weight limit, but there is a small fee to compete for prizes. Also available is the 25-yard small doggie fun run race and the 50-yard big doggie fun run race. One of the most popular events for spectators is the Wiener Dog Race in which more than 200 Dachshunds compete. Another fan favorite is the annual best canine costume contest. Each year, hundreds of dogs are entered in the event and five finalists are chosen by judges to compete on the main stage.

There, the five finalists compete for the fans’ hoots and hollers, with the dog getting the loudest round of applause declared the winner. Just seeing the imaginative costumes is worth making the trip.

doggy destination:

FRANKENMUTH

More in store

If shopping is more your bag, there are hundreds of vendors set up on the main street of Bavarian Village peddling just about any item you can imagine related to dogs. The River Place shops also are available, with more than 40 shops and attractions open during Dog Bowl. Most of the shops are dog friendly. Now that you’ve examined every shop and found the perfect gift for your pooch or for your friend’s pooch, it’s time to take a load off, stretch out and take a relaxing cruise on the Bavarian Belle riverboat. The Canine Cruise paddles down the Cass River, a ruff-ly 45-minute ride. The boat runs every hour during Dog Bowl to ensure all riders and their dogs have the chance to experience this beautiful, relaxing

A pair of Jack Russell terriers take time out from all the Dog Bowl festivities.

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doggy destination:

FRANKENMUTH

Dog Bowl information: dogfunfest.com Dock Dogs information: info@dockdogs.com Disc Dogs of Michigan information: discdogsofmi.com Doggie Dash De Lure Course & Competition: dogdash.com

cruise. The cost is $3 per person and free for dogs. Boat tours sell out, so be sure to get tickets early. Another favorite for spectators is the demonstration by a local sheep herder. The exhibition features a Border Collie — one of the most intelligent canine breeds — placed in various sheep herding situations. The farmer/ handler encourages the dog to work out of situations to herd the sheep, which proves to be quite entertaining for the crowd. Crowd participation is encouraged during the demonstration, and volunteers are given the chance to experience the age-old tradition. There’s plenty of talent to go around at Dog Bowl, and everyone gets a chance to compete in events such as silly pet tricks, howling and talking. Show off your dog’s skills and win prizes for most entertaining pooch. The Rock-N-Roll K-9’s performance team delights crowds with tricks, limbo, relay racing, high speed agility, Scooby says, choreographed obedience routines, fly ball, musical mats and more. These skilled canine athletes and their trainers work close together as a team. The group consists of a variety of breeds in many shapes, sizes and colors. Shows take place throughout the weekend, and each show is different. The highest honor of Dog Bowl is the annual selection of Dog Bowl King and Queen. Dog Bowl judges and board members read thousands of submissions from people all over the world nominating dogs for this prestigious honor. The King and Queen are treated like royalty for the entire weekend. Their 34 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

One of Dog Bowl’s most popular events is the Dock Dogs, where canines test their leaping ability.

story is told and met with approval by the thousands of fans gathered at the main plaza stage. The honored dogs are gifted with their own robes and jeweled crown. They are showered with gifts and serve as the grand marshals of the parade, driven in their own coach at the front of the Dog Bowl Parade. The parade travels north on Main Street, crosses the wooden covered bridge and ends at the Doggie Play Park on the east side of the River Place. Winner, winner, chicken dinner

What would a trip to Frankenmuth

be without enjoying a family style chicken dinner? The German settlers who came to Frankenmuth from Franconia, now part of Bavaria, and settled the land in 1845 had perfected the everyday chicken dinner and turned it into a world-famous sensation. In one year, Frankenmuth serves a whopping 1.7 million pounds of chicken. Don’t miss the opportunity to share a meal with your dog during Dog Bowl weekend at the Bavarian Inn, which allows canines to eat dinner with their family while enjoying live polka music on the patio.


doggy destination:

FRANKENMUTH

After enjoying your dinner, it’s time to head over to watch the hot air balloons prepare for flight. The Great Lakes Regional Hot Air Balloon Championships close out Dog Bowl activities each evening during the holiday weekend. The balloons fill the field with bright colors, and spectators and dogs are encouraged to walk among the balloons for a closer look. Dog Bowl is an event the entire family will enjoy and look forward to year after year, and it makes for a memorable Memorial Day weekend. Candilynn and Michael Lockhart are cofounders of The DaVinci Foundation for Animals, a nonprofit organization that helps animals in need. Their love of travel and having a dog companion on every trip inspired them to find the best travel options to ensure their furry family member is never left at home. Candilynn also is executive editorial photographer for Bringfido.com’s “Ruff Guide to the United States: 365 of the best places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states.”

There are plenty of activities available for dogs at Dog Bowl, including an agility course.

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AROUND GRAND RAPIDS |

laughfest | paws, claws & corks | Bow Wows and Brews

^

^

(left to right) Ashley, Hank and Kelsey Peterson compete in the Best Dog Costume contest at Laughfest.

Griffin, a Beagle mix who accompanied Andrew Scholten to Bow Wows and Brews, shows off his Detroit Lions pride.

^

Fox 17’s Christian Frank takes his skateboarding Bulldog, Ralphie, for a spin around the Paws, Claws & Corks ballroom in between emcee duties.

^

This black Lab mix makes a perfect bumble bee at Laughfest.

^

Paws, Claws & Corks featured both a Canine Auction Table and a Feline Auction Table.

36 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014


^

Toby served as the table for a spaghetti-andmeatballs plate and was the hit of Laughfest, winning the pet costume contest.

^

According to Laura Orean, red-haired Amber has enthusiastically attended every Bow Wows and Brews event since she was born — three years in all. Eight-year-old blondie Sierra looks like she’d rather be napping.

^

One of the items up for bid in the silent auction at Humane Society of West Michigan’s Paws, Claws & Corks was a unique paper sculpture of dogs in the yard.

^

Minnie Mouse ears aren’t just for people when it comes to showing off at Laughfest.

^

Xulu, a Maltese-Shih Tzu who belongs to Marian Ward, takes a seat at Bow Wows and Brews, benefitting C-SNIP.

Photos by jennifer waters

^

Diane Ross’ dog, Ellie Mae, peeks out from her sling at all the Laughfest activity.

May/June 2014 Dogs Unleashed 37


the tail end

SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS

Long drive a small price to pay for love A friend of mine once drove 12 straight hours to rescue a dog she’d never met, but couldn’t live without. “One look, and I knew,” this friend says. “I knew she’d be good for me, and that I could make her last years a little sweeter ... a whole lot better than they’ve been, that’s for sure.” And that’s when we both got a little choked up, two grown women weepy over an old dog with only one eye and a whole lot of health problems found abandoned, hungry and in trouble, wandering the streets of Dublin, Va., a little more than a year ago. “I mean, she really needed a home,” my friend says, “and I needed her.” I might as well start at the beginning. One day this winter, Kathie Nelson Olsen — a woman from Muskegon, Mich., with a heart as big as all get out — got a phone call from her daughter, Shannon Haines, who told her mom to go online and visit a pet rescue site she’d just discovered. “There’s a dog,” Shannon said. “She looks just like Smoke.” Smoke was short for “Smokey,” a Cocker spaniel the family had when Haines was a child. Sure enough, the cocker bore a striking resemblance, except for one important detail -- she was a mess. The dog — whom the rescue group named Dawn — had lost an eye to cataracts and glaucoma. She had a thyroid problem and skin issues. When she was found, her fur was matted and unmanageable. Her rescuers figured she was about 9 years old — old and fragile and hard to place because of it. For a year, Dawn lived with a woman named Angie Montgomery and the people of Mountain Tails Animal Rescue in Dublin, who raised enough money to get the dog the necessary surgery and

38 Dogs Unleashed May/June 2014

begin to heal. But the general public didn’t see beyond the surface. No one wanted her. She seemed unadoptable. Of course, Kathie fell instantly in love. “She just tugged at my heart strings,” Kathie says. “She looked like somebody I could help.” But as anyone who has tried to adopt an animal knows, it’s not as easy as saying: “I want that dog. Let’s go.” Kathie had to fill out a three-page application. She had to declare her intentions. She had to promise she’d get Dawn the medical help she required. “There were so many hurdles to go through,” Kathie says. Eventually, the rescue group arranged for a home visit where they met Kathie’s other animals, all rescues: a miniature Dachshund, a rat terrier-Jack Russell mix and a cat she found as a kitten abandoned in the middle of a busy intersection in town. Need I even repeat myself? This is a woman with a big heart. The people in Virginia saw it, too, and in March invited Kathie and Shannon to come and take the dog home. It took them 12 hours to get there. Angie and crew arranged to meet in the parking lot at a pet store in Christiansburg, Va. They videotaped the first meeting — which Kathie posted on Facebook — and celebrated what everyone is calling a miracle: the immediate bond between

Photo courtesy of Kathie Nelson

A 12-hour drive brought Dawn from Virginia to Michigan, where she received grooming, medical treatment and a forever home.

dog and new owner. The trip back to West Michigan took longer than anticipated. As it turns out, Dawn is “petrified” of cars. She panted and paced, and Kathie and Shannon were so worried about her, they stopped every few miles to give her a break. “But now that she’s home, she’s so relaxed here,” Kathie says. “She relaxed as soon as she walked in the door. Everything just fell into place.” No one knows Dawn’s history. Kathie and the others can only guess: Was the dog turned out because of her health issues? Left behind when her family moved or owners died? Abandoned by people who just didn’t care? A runaway, unattended and on her own? “Think of what she must have been through,” Kathie says. “No living being deserves that.” Now at home in her forever home, Dawn is never far from Kathie’s side. She lies at Kathie’s feet while Kathie works on the computer as the account manager for Reliable Towing, which her husband owns. She follows her from room to room, indoors and out, everywhere she goes. Dawn loves to be rubbed and fussed over. She’s affectionate — which Kathie’s other two dogs are not — and craves attention. “She is such a loving, warm dog,” Kathie says. There are so many dogs, I say to Kathie; so many who need homes. Why this one? Why drive 12 hours? What was it about Dawn? Kathie thinks about it for a while. She reaches down to pet Dawn, to touch her soft ears, to feel her nose nuzzle her hand. “You know what? The minute I saw her, I knew: This is my dog,” Kathie says. “She had to come home.” Susan Harrison-Wolffis is an award-winning journalist, retired from newspaper work after more than 40 years. Contact her at susanharrisonwolffis@yahoo.com


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Richardson at 200 N Coit Rd 214-276-5496

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Wisconsin

Garland 1031 Northwest Hwy. 469-277-8606

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