Sunday, March 3, 2019

Buddy's story by Chelsie Blaine

I would like to thank Chelsie Blaine, a friend, I admire very much for being a guest writer on my blog.What she has to say here is so well written and resonates with my beliefs very much.
I am thankful to have her story to share. I believe this message should be shared everywhere, it is so important, it could save a life.

Chelsie is a staff member and dog trainer at Muskegon Humane.
Shown here are her personal pack she has adopted in to her home. 




Buddy’s Story
Written by Chelsie Blaine, CPDT-KA, PMCT-1
Navigating the world of dog training can be confusing at best; a quick Google search will yield a head spinning amount of results, with no shortage of conflicting information and ideas on the best way to go about it. To add to the confusion, the dog training industry is completely unregulated. Anyone can start a business and call themselves a dog trainer- or even a behaviorist- regardless of their skills and education level, or lack thereof, with no repercussions. One would hope that when enlisting the services of someone with the title of ‘professional’ they could trust that their pet is in safe hands. Dog owners can easily find themselves in the hands of an unqualified person using antiquated training methods on their dog, and it can have devastating consequences.
A dog very near and dear to my heart, Buddy, a dog that I fostered was the unfortunate victim of a painful training device still used and on the market today; a shock collar. Buddy was adopted from MHS in 2016 by a wonderful family. They loved, cherished, and spoiled him- he was a part of the family! We received many pictures of Buddy enjoying his new life and happy updates about how great Buddy was. He did bark and sometimes growl at unfamiliar people, but this was something they knew he struggled with and wanted to work on with him.
Buddy’s family found a trainer to help them with his behavior, and in their next update reported how well he was doing. We didn’t hear from them again until a few short months ago when I took the phone call that made my hear sink- Buddy had bitten someone quite seriously. 
His family was completely caught off guard- he had been doing so well! And the bite, his owner said, was ‘completely unprovoked’. Those words, “completely unprovoked’, immediately trigger my mind to ask more questions. More often than not, this is not the case. It may appear that way from the human point of view, but from the dog’s perspective something very bad or scary was going on that warranted the bite.
Through the conversation, I learned that the trainer they hired not only advised that they stop using all treats and rewards for any training at all, but that a shock collar was also used to correct him for barking and growling at strangers.  After 6 months, they thought the problem was solved- he no longer barked and growled at strangers. So when he “went nuts”, charged out of the house, and latched on to the leg of an unsuspecting pedestrian they were completely stunned. What on earth could cause him to do that?
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior states, “When used effectively, punishment can suppress the behavior of fearful or aggressive animals, but it may not change the association underlying the behavior problem. For instance, if the animal is aggressive due to fear, then the use of force to stop the fearful reactions will make the dog more fearful while at the same time suppressing or masking the outward signs of fear. Once it can no longer suppress its fear, the animal may suddenly act with heightened aggression and with fewer warning signs of impending aggression. In other words, it may now attack with no warning.” (AVSAB Position Statement: The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals).
 So, applying this information we know that what likely happened is that they had suppressed Buddy’s behavior; using the shock collar did not change his underlying stress around strange people. By treating his aggressive behavior as ‘being bad’ or ‘misbehaving’ rather than what it truly was- an attempt to communicate that he was uncomfortable- they unintentionally strengthened his negative association. He was able to mask his outward behavior for a period of time to avoid the painful shock, but when it became too difficult handle he reacted with heightened aggression. This is one of the unfortunate behavioral side effects that can come with using aversives to correct a behavior problem.
While Buddy’s story is one of the more extreme cases of what can happen as a result of the use of force in training, it is the reality of what can happen. The majority of dogs will go their entire lives without ever biting anyone, regardless of what training methods are used. For a portion of dogs, punishment works; but that does not mean it comes without consequence. The more common scenario is that the dog will ‘behave’ out of fear of being punished. The end result may be a well behaved, model canine citizen, but it comes at the cost of a diminished relationship with the dog and a reduced quality of life.
Without regulation or universally accepted industry standards, how do you make the best, most humane choice for your furry best friend when it comes to training? Jean Donaldson, respected behavior professional and author, suggests asking these three questions before hiring a trainer: “What will happen to my dog if he gets it right? What will happen to my dog if he gets it wrong? Are there any less invasive alternatives to what you propose?”- make sure you are comfortable with their answers.  Any ethical and professional trainer should not make you feel pressured, have your dog’s comfort and safety as a priority, and be able to explain to you exactly how and why the methods they advice work.
Seek out a trainer who utilizes force-free training methods. Force-free training focuses on a combination of positive reinforcement (the dog gets it right, we reward him- the behavior increases), management (preventing the dog from practicing unwanted behaviors), and negative punishment (the dog gets it wrong, we with hold the reward- the behavior decreases). Force-free training strengthens your bond with your dog, promotes active learning, and best of all- it can be fun! Use caution if the trainer practices traditional training methods, as they often utilize force. This can cause the dog to shut down to avoid corrections, have unintended behavioral side effects- such as increased fearful or aggressive behavior, and it does not teach the dog what we would like to him do instead.
Certifications and memberships to professional organizations are also good indicators that they are committed to continued education and the most modern, science based training techniques. Two reputable websites to start your search for a trainer are The Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers ( and The Pet Professional Guild (
I hope that by sharing his story, I can prevent this tragic situation from happening to other dogs. We owe it not only to our dogs, but to our communities to make humane choices when it comes to training options for our dogs. Buddy is an unfortunate example of how our choices affect not only our dog’s wellbeing, but the safety of others in the community as well. Until we have the needed changes and regulations made in the industry, it is imperative to be your dogs best advocate and do your research when selecting a trainer and training equipment.
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. 2007. AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Healthy food can be "thy medicine."

Grandpuppy Cash

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

― Hippocrates

Recently my beautiful Grand puppy Cash was very ill. She started losing weight, coat became dull and muscles became weak. She is only 7 years old and all of a sudden she couldn't even make it up the stairs by herself. We knew something was terribly wrong! A lot of my work is done from home, so Cash came to stay with me for a week. I took her to my veterinarians, that I adore, and had tests done. 
I believe as wonderful as my veterinarians are, they are they only have so many hours in the day that has to be shared between clients. I also believe that every veterinarian cannot specialize in every area, such as nutrition, supplements, etc. I think one of the things I love about my veterinarians is they have an open mind and do not condemn me for doing my own homework. I am very holistic, and they are very respectful of my beliefs. I believe every being is different, we have to be our pets’ advocates and it is our responsibility to research. We have to decide what is going to be the best route for our beliefs and for their individual specific symptoms. Indian Shamans (healers), would come stay at your house and observe every aspect of your everyday life, before they would decide the best route to take. You cannot find a medical professional with that kind of time on their hands.. We have to put in that time.
The tests ruled out some things with Cash's condition, and it gave us the tools to find the best route for her. I have studied nutrition, but I also contacted nutrition experts, many friends, one a canine nutritionist. I went through the book, Canine Nutrigenomics from Dr. Dodd's, also a nutrition guru.
Cash had been on a lot of antibiotics in the past from chronic UTIs. She was also on a dehydrated food that when she ate too fast my daughter added less water thinking it would keep it thicker for her. We believe the combination of a compromised colon that was not able to absorb nutrients and a food not being properly hydrated, was causing her to basically starve. Antibiotics can wreak such havoc on the colon! My veterinarians prescribed vitamin B shots. We started her on some very good digestive enzymes, raw goat's milk, a different food, pumpkin, bone broth and more.
I am thankful, Cash is getting stronger and better every day! I believe it is due to the veterinarians, whole food, proper nutrition and the army of people with knowledge that I accessed, a lot of reading, and love sent to her by so many!
My friend Paula and I have written here in the past about the ever-important subject of nutrition. I urge you, to do your own research, be your pets advocate. Even if something is not wrong with your pet now, nutrition is the best preventative and important factor in life.
It disgusts me the things that FDA allows and if you get me on my soapbox I will go on and on. So instead I would like to offer you a few facts.

Dog Food Advisor states, according to the pet food industry , Official Publication, American Association of Feed Control Officials, “Generic meat meal can be legally made from road kill, dead, diseased or dying farm animals — even euthanized cats and dogs.”

 “FDA testing found pentobarbital in Nutro dog food ,Ol Roy dog food,Trailblazer dog food, Dad’s dog food,Weiss Value dog food,Super G dog food, Richfood dog food,Pet Essentials dog food, America’s Choice dog food, Ken-L-Ration Gravy Train dog food,Heinz Kibbles n Bits, Kibble Select dog food, Champ Chunx ,ProPlan dog food, Reward dog food” 

I would like to ask you to think on this, could you survive on dry cereal your whole life? Possibly, but would you thrive? 
I highly recommend  home cooking,ONLY after you research the proper ways(if you do it without research and unbalanced you can do more harm than good)
Learn to formulate through a course and or reading:

The book, Canine Nutrigenomics from Dr. Dodd's.

If you don't want to homecook please PLEASE DO HOMEWORK and RESEARCH. Where is your meat source from? Go to stores like Must Love Dogs in Grand Haven MI where the owner is a canine nutritionist and can advise you. 
Some good dog food names to look for,in my opinion are: Stella and Chewy, Answers, Zignature, and  Dr Harvey's.
I suggest adding some whole foods,raw goats milk, bone broth or at the very least water to hydrate the kibble so it is more readily absorbed and easier on the kidneys.Adding 5 minute boiled eggs, blueberries, steamed broccoli in the food processor and/or a no salt added sardine to  kibble. A good digestive enzyme like "Carna 4" added to your dogs food can help them absorb more of the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Some healthy treats your dog will beg for more of are : dehydrated organs and homemade goodies with blueberries, tart cherry juice, coconut oil, coconut flour, eggs and cinnamon. Remember to introduce new foods slowly so the digestive system can adjust. A body needs time to adjust to a new food , just like humans can not transition from junk food to all salads without a digestive adjustment.

We all need whole foods to keep our bodies functioning optimally, and our furry friends are no exception. 

Healthy food can be "thy medicine."

My dog Odin and grandpuppy Cash friends Odin is so thankful his buddy is better.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

What kind a difference do you want to make?

Ashley Perry and Wade Marrs
Photo credit Kim Perry

 “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
― Jane Goodall

A fitting quote from a true inspirational hero of mine, to start a piece that includes two other inspirational people I admire so much. Ashley Perry and Iditarod Musher, Wade Marrs. I recently had the privilege of speaking once again with Ashley and her amazing, supportive, sweet mother, Kim Perry. I was also very fortunate enough to have the incredible opportunity to speak to Wade Marrs on the phone.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about a courageous 14 year old young lady, Ashley Perry, from Anchorage, Alaska. Read more about Ashley here :

Ashley is a bright ray of sunshine to speak to. She inspires my heart. I named a shelter reading program at Muskegon Humane after her because she is the perfect roll model.  Ashley has Turner's syndrome,  and every three weeks has to go into the hospital for the day to receive IVIG infusions that have side affects that resemble chemo. That doesn't stop Ashley, no, not one bit! She has accomplished more and given back, than most adults have even begun to.

In the past year and half Ashley has supported many charities. She has expanded the reading program to 20+ shelters all over the WORLD, including Australia and Canada. Not only expanded it, but on her own, she also emails flyers to schools in the area so the word is circulated. 
Ashley reading to a new friend at a shelter

Reading to dogs in shelters allows children to spend time with the dogs in a loving, innocent non judging manner. This helps a very scared dog or anti-social dog become more adoptable and less likely to be returned. There is a video circulating from this reading program where a shelter had a lot of high energy and barking going on with the dogs, and as the child sat and read, the dogs all quieted and settled down like magic.

It seems that inspiration is also like magic. If you read my link above, you can read about Ashley's friendship with Iditarod Musher Wade Marrs and how they inspire each other to push harder into greatness.

I asked Wade if he had a message for our youth, our future leaders. He replied, "You can achieve your dream." As a child he was happily strapped on a dog sled by his uncle. He states,
"As a kid I dreamed of being a dog musher. I was able to achieve my goal by keeping focused on that. Ashley has the same kind of perseverance."

If you know me I am an animal lover like no other, but have occasionally been asked how can I support the Iditarod and find it so inspiring? I personally see only people who care extremely about their dogs and run their lives around the dogs not vice versa. I see courage and they inspire me!  There are going to be bad seeds in every group that give others a bad name. I have cringed watching people at obedience trials show cruelty. I find for the most part if you spend your whole life competing in a sport with your dog you most likely enjoy it.  When I asked Wade this question, he had a reply that I felt was so well said.  "You can't push a rope, they have to want to do what they are doing. I do it because I love to spend time with my dogs, the sport is just a bonus."

Wade helps to support Ashley, in every way, she calls him her brother. He talks about how much she inspires him and he helps her on spreading the word and being a spokesman for Turner's Syndrome Awareness. He has had a meet and greet, and provides rides at his kennel for others who have the Syndrome. He supports Ashley and would hope that you spread the word about her reading program and Turner's Syndrome Awareness. To find out more about hosting a reading program please contact Or locally

Ashley is helping Wade get the word out about his tours. where he gets to do what he loves best,  "spend time with his dogs in the woods."

Ashley and Wade true friends making a difference
Photo credit Kim Perry

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Aging with grace

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” ~Winnie the Pooh

Odin in his cart enjoying the day 

This describes my heart's feelings about my best soul-dog, Odin J. As his 14th year is approaching in November I write this, sometimes choking back tears, to help those dealing with the same struggles that I am. If you own a pet inevitably there will be one day.
Odin and I hope that sharing this with you will help make your path easier. Hopefully you'll have more quality and time to make more magical memories.
As a good friend of mine, a canine guru, Tonya Christiansen, from, Must Love Dogs Boutique and Spa states, "The big thing I want people to remember is empathy. I see where sometimes people treat their dogs like they are two years old their entire lives with the same physical and mental expectations. I had to put out night lights, area rugs and install a dog door for my dogs as they aged. They can’t climb stairs like they used to or may not see or hear as well. We need to be aware of those changes for them and help them age gracefully."
 Handsome Hudson Tonya's dog now at the Rainbow Bridge

I have to agree with her 100%. Since Odin turned 13, at times reminds me of my dear dad before he passed. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it immediately . It is humorous when Odin barks at the dehydrator with his organ treats on it, like it is an automatic food dispenser.
At other times not so much. Odin now does not want to walk when we leave home, but turn around and head towards home and he is like a horse galloping to the stable, happily and quickly. My compromise, I found a Burley Bike trailer on ebay, and with the help of lawn chair bottom, it is his cart. He happily goes in it and acts like the king of awesomeness that he is.
Once I turn around to go home he will get ants in his pants, barking and start straining at the halter to be released.
I have found that thinking creatively, compromising, and watching their body language will help you help them.
We still walk, we still play, Odin just needs more consideration and an old fashioned ear trumpet to aid in hearing. I am thankful I taught him hand signals for behaviors (something to keep in mind when teaching any age dog.) Another great idea, I am thankful I taught him, is to come to a stomping foot or a light flashing on and off.
In the past I have written about holistic ideas and practices that have assisted Odin and my Cheyenne (now at the rainbow bridge) with aging and things we face as pet parents of seniors. They can be found at Look for the titles  : You Are What You Eat, Canine Nutrition with Paula Smith, Helping Your Furry Friends Age with Grace,"Nature Itself is the Best Physician." -Hippocrates, TTouch , a Second Look, Keeping Your Furry Friends Joyous and Pain Free, HONORING OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS LIVES WITH LOVE.
 When you are researching what is best for your senior pet, I also suggest giving CBD oil a try. It has helped Odin immensely when I added it to his regimen. It can be purchased at Must Love Dogs in Grand Haven MI, along with many items that can help your aging dog.
There is a difference in quality of this, so do your homework.  According to Medical News Today, "Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not change the state of mind of the person (or dog) who uses it. However, CBD oil does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits."  It has various other health benefits, such as inhibiting cell growth in tumors, aiding seizures and more, that are worth researching and reading.
In my personal opinion, I also cannot reiterate enough how important that incorporating whole healthy foods into your dogs diet can be. It can nourish healthy organs and give the body the defenses and nutrients .

Above all, cherish, and make every day a special day, a happy day with your pet, a day full of moments that one day you will hold in your heart as special memories.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I see the light

Odin did a trick performance to the  Disney song "Friend like me" 

Passage from "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier
I need look no further than a dog's eyes to find the precise moment when my connection to that dog shifted away from clear and free agreement between us. Did my approach to the dog create resistance, fear,  distrust or pain, dimming the clear trusting light in his eyes? Then I had to find a better way. I began to evaluate all methods, philosophies, and techniques, against this simple standard: the light in a dog's eyes."

This book is highly acclaimed by one of my heroes, Jane Goodall.  I recommend it my whole heart. It will  open your eyes to how a dog thinks.

I am so happy to do my part in the world to help make that light shine and not tear it down.
Dogs can do amazing things that need to celebrated without force.
In this book, Suzanne describes a seminar where she took an action such as 'sit in a chair' and asks students to describe it to another student using a word that is a fruit. You cannot perform the action yourself, you are only allowed to use the word. No matter how enthusiastically you say that word it doesn't mean your partner is going to understand what you're talking about.
I believe this can really open your eyes to how your dog can perceive the first time you introduce a behavior. No matter how many times you say, "sit" it does not mean that that word has any meaning until you find a kind way to communicate. Classmates don't appreciate you screaming, "orange" as you grab their arm and set them in a chair in frustration.
My partner Paula and I, help our clients at Dog Blessed LLC train some dogs how to share their wonderful knowledge and gifts. We  have been helping to show them how to pick up items, and other useful behaviors to become service dogs.
We also have been teaching some dogs to track a young boy who is autistic and has been known to run away often.
I cannot tell you how much working with these dogs in a positive manner makes our hearts happy.
Paula shares the same ethics with dogs that I do. It makes us happy to see the bond grow as these clients work with their dogs and to see the joy in the dogs when they realize what is being asked. Dogs give us this gift and ask for nothing in return (well maybe a couple of treats).
Not all methods enhance relationships, many years ago I experienced a teacher use a shock collar over and over and over again, trying to get the dog to pick up an item. I left the class in tears.
Suzanne also uses a very appropriate analogy about you can get someone to to do what you want by waving cash in front of their face. You could also get them to do it by waving a gun in front of their face. The results would be the same, but personally I would choose the positive method. To see that light in a dog's eyes is what I strive for!
 My dog Odin and two of Paula's dogs recently received their Trick Dog Performance Titles. When we were doing videos together of our dog's accomplishments, we just had fun and if we made a mistake we just try it again and laugh about it. I can honestly say I had a great time. I believe our dogs did too. If you watch these videos you can see the joy in their eyes:
Pepper's trick performance was done  to song "Little Red Wagon"

When dogs 'WANT' to do what we're asking of them, it's because we are not forcing them. Every trick you see we shaped into something fun and we practiced with joy, not dread of the practice.
Every night before dinner Odin and I practice tricks, rally, dancing, finding an article of mine that I hide for him or whatever we're in the mood for. You should see him bounce like a puppy at 13 years of age when it's dinner fun time. I see his light!

Keep connected on Facebook: Memory Stones by Jodi, Furry Philosophy, Camp Kylee, Odin J.s Earthly Treasures, Dog Blessed LLC Also

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Remembering the true meaning of the Iditarod

"Most important is that you are out there with your 12, 16, 20 best friends—the dogs." ~Susan Butcher

Wade Marrs and Ashley Perry
Photo credit Kim Perry

Iditarod 2018. 

Before the Opening Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod I was rushing. As I was  hopping out of the shower,  I received a surprise video call.  I  could NOT miss this as it was from my friend Kim Perry, who was at the Opening Ceremonies with her family supporting Wade and other friends.  I met my favorite musher, Wade Marrs for a brief second and saw the ceremonial start  via facebook chat live in a towel, oh yes in a towel, who can say that?  Thank goodness you could pretty much just see my wet head and not the towel. I am so thankful to my friend Kim, it was so exciting to feel like I was actually there, the energy was amazing. 

"Perry" Musher Wade Marrs' dog named after his friends, the Perry family
Photo credit Ashley Perry

A Little Iditarod History
Grandpa Seavy and Ashley Perry
Photo credit Kim Perry

In 1925, a daring sled dog relay through Alaska in the middle of winter delivered life-saving medicine to the citizens in Nome. Children were dying from diphtheria. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is to commemorate this event.

Joe Redington organized the long-distance Iditarod Race. He wanted to save the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out of existence due to the introduction of snowmobiles in Alaska.  He also wanted to ensure the preservation of the historical Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome. Dorothy Page became the editor of an Iditarod Annual.  She opened the world’s eyes to the Iditarod.

It seems that politics, and various people who are against the Iditarod or are corrupt are tarnishing what this race was intended to be. I believe this year’s race, more than any other, Joe Reddington's mission for this event and Susan Butcher's quote, "you are out there with your best friends", needs to be celebrated and held close at heart.

If you happen to know me, or ask any of my friends you would know that I am a huge animal lover. It takes me 1/2 hour to prepare my dog and cat's food. I cry if I see a hair harmed on any animal. I am a softie.

I practice positive training and feel it is our responsibility to be the voice for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. I believe in every aspect of life there are those that value life as precious. There are sadly those that do no respect that life as precious. I will be the first to call someone out on the latter.

I have been to an dog obedience trial and witnessed first hand a woman scruff and scold a dog, call it stupid, cover their cage up as a punishment when a dog missed a sit in a competition ring. This, is my eyes is cruel. My partner who I teach dog training with, have shirts that say, "Happiness does not come from points and Q's(denoting qualifying runs), but from playing the game with the dog you love". Having FUN with your best friend is what it's all about!

I believe this should be true in all aspects of life. We need to enjoy the adventure, not just keep our eye on the prize.

In every sport and everything in life there are going to be cruel, unethical people. It is a sad fact. However, I believe that you should not persecute the obedience trials, but the individual who makes poor judgment, just as you shouldn't persecute a pen for writing evil words. I believe, you should, of course report abuse, and try to stop it at all costs. However don't protest or persecute the sport of those who truly love the adventure with their dogs.

I believe Mother Theresa conveys a message. She said, "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”  Let's celebrate the good and give that our energy! I hope we can remember Joe Redintion's vision, and celebrate the sled dog. 

These dogs were bred to run. They enjoy it, they live for it. Labs were bred to be in the field all day. Humans created these breeds. In working with dogs, I see huskies and labs that are not able to do what they were bred to do and they find sometimes naughty, destructive ways to release that energy that was bred into them. They want to be active, they need to run and do what they were institutionally meant to do. Watch a dog in front of sled and tell me you can't see them smiling and howling with glee.

If anyone in the race is abusing this privilege, shame on them, just as shame on those who don't enjoy the game of agility, or any dog sport and are just in it to win, and scold the dog for trying. I believe that anyone who abuses the precious life of any animal should be punished, but let us not punish all for the deed of one.

I have followed this sport for some time now. The more I know about these mushers, from interviews and friends that have been to the kennels, the more I know the majority of these people love their dogs as family. I see them actually cooking for them. They are not just dumping dry dog food into a dish. They enjoy the time spent with their dogs, being one with nature and their best friends. 

This year they are going back to the true form of an adventure. Planes were unable to reach Eagle Island as a scheduled checkpoint to pick up food due to weather. Musher's must carry more and go slower to accommodate weight and weather. No more groomed trails, back to nature and the basics.
Ashley Perry drawing Wade Marr's bib number at Musher's banquet

So many mushers use their platforms to get their message of well deserved causes out in the community. Wade Marrs, an ethical,admirable musher, has gone above and beyond to help his friend Ashley Perry, who is affected by this syndrome,share the message of Turner's Syndrome awareness. Ashley Perry is a true hero in every sense of the word.Find out more about Ashley and her Shelter Reading program go to :

This year, Scott Jansen,"Mushing Moritcian" , is declaring it his last year to race. He wants to spend time spreading the word of the importance of keeping the race alive and help it to grow. Hugh Neff promotes literacy and the importance of learning and can be seen in the Cat in the Hat's red and white striped hat. 

Ashely Perry with musher Aily Zirkle
Photo credit Kim Perry
Most mushers appreciate the real things in life, the true solitude of being one with your team in the great outdoors. I have never seen such love in one's eyes as you can see in Aily Zirkle's for her dogs. In this year's race, Aily stated at a check point, that her dogs were healthy and well, but lacked "zip". She stayed upbeat and happy, saying, "I am not going to rally them up for 9 days straight, and nag them. That doesn't sound fun to me. So we decided to do what we do. We'll place where we place, we'll get to Nome and we'll have a party.

Jessie Royer, who came in with fifth last year, with all 16 healthy dogs, can't wait to be away from the commotion and craves being on the trail alone with her dogs or at home riding her horse in solitude. For her also it is about the experience. 

Who will win this year's Iditarod? At the time of this article, is yet to be seen. In my eyes, everyone that treats their dogs with love and respect are winners. Those that exude the message of determination and becoming one with nature, are also winners.

Cheers and Race on!

Ceremonial Start Iditarod 2018
Photo credit Kim Perry

To help support Wade Marrs and bringing awareness to Turner's Syndrome you can go to:

To help support the Iditarod and keep the dream alive and see footage from the race, GPS tracker , Ceremonial Start, Finish and more go to Iditarod Insider There is so much money needed to keep this race alive. They need to pay veterinarians to assure the safety of all dogs, pay for plane transportation to drop food off at different locations throughout the race.  Little things add up and it costs over a few million dollars in operating costs to keep it running.

Read more Iditarod articles and other furry philosophy's messages at

Sunday, March 4, 2018

West MI Spay and Neuter, a true gift in our community

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. ~Pablo Picasso

West MI Spay and Neuter wonderful staff

To do what you love by helping others at the same time is a true gift.

Recently, a good friend's sweet dog, my dog Odin's good buddy, Roxy, came to stay with me for a week. I took her to the West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic. They are a non-profit, low-cost spay and neuter clinic. When I visited the clinic I observed a group of individuals who have huge hearts. I found that meaning of life by giving back with all that they are.

 West MI Spay and Neuter's mission statement is to: "significantly reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs and cats by providing the public with high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services in a non-profit setting."


 I felt compelled to share with my readers a little more about this group. I was so impressed with how extremely kind they were to the pets, how efficiently that have things set up so everyone gets ALL the information, instructions and care they need.  I was also impressed with the cleanliness, and all around care.

 Everything was run so smoothly. You were checked in and given the option of paying for a rabies vaccine at a low cost price also to be given to your pet if they needed it. We were then sent to our vehicles to wait to be called, one at a time, to bring in your pet. It was a very good way to allow you to sit with your pet, waiting comfortably without a zoo of dogs in one waiting room.

 It was very quick and efficient.  They were very kind to Roxy when it was her turn, she went with them, tail a wagging, as they talked very sweetly to her. We were given an exact pick up time to get after care instructions. At pick up time, everyone congregated in a room where you were given very specific after care instructions all at once. I thought to myself, "What a great way to give the best care and serve the most people in a time effective way." You were given an opportunity to purchase a cone (of shame) in your pet's size at a discounted price, to prevent the pet from licking open the wound. They had a size to fit every animal perfectly.  We had the opportunity to ask any questions and were given a 24 hour, after care emergency number just in case.
Odin keeping an eye on his buddy Roxy after surgery

This was not a cold clinic, quite the contrary.  This is a caring place with a wonderful staff. They really care. Roxy wasn't even mad at me when I picked her up, and the staff was very kind when they brought her out to me also. Roxy and I say, "4 PAWS UP", except Roxy says, "The cone of shame is not her favorite." She kept grabbing a toy and it would just sit on the edge of the cone, putting a very confused look on her face. She healed up nicely with no complications at all.

Thank you West MI Spay and Neuter for being such a wonderful asset to this community! 

To see how you can help or donate please go to or you may also donate by sending a check to:

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic Inc.
6130 Airline Rd.
Fruitport, MI 49415