Bethany Family Pet Clinic a reader favorite

In 1998, Bethany Family Pet Clinic opened in a small leased space in a developing area with one veterinarian and three employees. Fast-forward to the present day, and this Top Dog–winning practice touts a roster of around 45 employees and a new facility specifically designed for veterinary care.

Bethany Family Pet Clinic is located in the heart of the charming Bethany community, and head doctor and proprietor Mark Norman says, “As we have grown, we’ve worked hard to maintain personal relationships with our patients and their families.”

The hospital won 2017 Top Dog awards for Veterinary Practice, Cat Boarding, and Veterinarian (Dr. Norman). Voters ranked the clinic and staff top 10 in numerous categories, including Cat Medical, Home/Mobile Veterinary Care, Holistic Practitioner, Specialty Veterinary Medicine, Emergency Veterinary Care, and End of Life Services.

Norman attributes the high praise from local pet parents to the synergy between staff, doctors, and clients. “Ours is a personable, compassionate clinic, and that is recognized and appreciated,” he says.

Founders Norman and Dr. Bob Merrill were both raised and educated in Iowa, and they also share a love of Oregon’s great outdoors. “And we don’t mind the snow,” Norman says with a grin.

Bethany Family Pet Clinic is driven by family and community, and the clinic proudly contributes to local schools and charities. For 17 years running, the clinic has hosted summer dog washes in support of Indigo Rescue, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness for unwanted pets.

On the Top Dog wins, Norman says, “We are very honored to know that our clients support and believe in us.”

Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services in SW Washington.  She resides in Vancouver with Jessie (a yellow Lab), and Pedro & Grey Bird (parrots). Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.

Pet Parents rank Heartfelt Top Dog across the board

Their commitment to “always treat your pets as you would" is just one reason the team at Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital ranks so high with pet parents. Opened in 2014, the practice has quickly grown — expanding in size, and increasingly becoming known and loved for outstanding emergency and preventive pet care, dentistry, rehabilitation, and client education.  The 2017 Top Dog Award winner for Best Veterinary Practice and wins in seven additional categories made their showing extraordinary. 

“All our doctors at Heartfelt work to create a unique bond with their patients. At the beginning of each exam our doctors get on the floor with their patient(s) to connect at the patient's level. This allows the pet to get acquainted with the doctor’s caring concern, quickly helping establish comfort and trust,” says Office Manager Ryan Hesketh. Each Doctor forges connections with his their patients that often amazes pet parents, says Hesketh. “especially pets who are timid or scared.” 

“Being next door to Pet Pros is a plus,” says Hesketh, “as is our location and easy access off I-5, as we have many clients from the coast and across the river in Washington.” The Hospital is fully equipped, “So we can offer everything from an initial exam to lab work (blood, urine, fecal and heart worm), and have results in 20 to 30 minutes. We also have ultra sound and in-house imaging, as well as dental x-rays, a surgical suite, rehabilitation services . . . and so much more.”

Heartfelt also offers a unique orthopedic rehabilitation program, including treatments such as underwater treadmill and laser therapy, acupuncture and pain management. Understanding how expensive vet care can be, Heartfelt offers Pet Care Plans to help make it easier for pet parents to access needed care. Plans are tailored to the ages and stages of life for dogs and cats, and are available for a monthly fee that includes preventive care, office visits, lab work,  and vaccinations. Some plans even include dental care.

Caring, compassionate expert pet care services are just a few more reasons Heartfelt is proving to be a big winner with NW pet parents.  Find them at 1127 NE Broadway in Portland, or at

Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers.  She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.


Top 2016 OHS Volunteers Honored

René Pizzo of Oregon City gave more than 400 hours of volunteer time to help pets in 2016, winning her the OHS Volunteer of the Year Award.

OHS volunteers help in myriad ways — walking dogs, rescuing and re-homing pets, assisting shelter veterinarians, and more. Last year, more than 4,000 people contributed their time and talents to helping the animals at OHS.

“We would need 118 additional full-time employees to equal the amount of time contributed by our volunteers last year,” says Sharon Harmon, OHS Executive Director. “The compassion and commitment of OHS volunteers is truly something to bark about!”

During a ceremony in March, OHS presented awards to volunteers and one staff member (chosen by the volunteers) in 23 categories. Harmon presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Pizzo, a Lifetime Achievement Award to Teresa Leap, and the Volunteer’s Choice Award to Denise Kinstetter. The End Petlessness Award went to Carol Christensen.  To learn more about all of the 2016 award-winning volunteers, visit

OHS seeks nominations of heroes

Do you know an animal who’s made a difference in the life of a special needs child or someone with an illness? Or a person who’s helped animals in a unique way? The Oregon Humane Society is accepting nominations for its Diamond Collar Hero Awards now through Feb. 1. The awards recognize and honor animals who have acted to save a human or animal life in peril, performed services within the community with undying loyalty, or overcome incredible odds in order to survive. Winners are also humans who have had a positive impact on the lives of animals, exhibiting courage and compassion in the pursuit of animals' wellbeing.

Nominations can be delivered in person or by mail to OHS, or submitted at Winners will be notified in early February, and will be honored at the OHS Heroes Luncheon Feb. 22.

Awards honor heroic pets and people

Oregon Humane Society’s Diamond Collar Awards celebrated pets and people for acts of compassion and selflessness that made the community a better place in February. Award winners included:  

*Zipporah, a crisis intervention dog who served after the Oso, Washington landslide, and the Umpqua Community College shooting.  

*Kelly Peterson, director of Fences for Fido, which builds fences to unchain dogs — some who have lived tethered for years. FFF also provides dog houses and spay/neuter services. FFF has unchained 1,300 dogs since 2009. 

*Raider, a rare certified therapy cat, trained to alert diabetics when blood sugar reaches unhealthy levels.  

*Philanthropist Howard Hedinger received the OHS Lifetime Achievement for his enduring support of animals and children. Hedinger has been a leader in business and philanthropy for nearly 50 years. 

More details and photos at

Rose City Vet Tech wins PVMA Award

Becky Smith, Rose City Veterinary Hospital’s Technical Supervisor and a Certified Veterinary Technician, received the Portland Medical Association’s Paraprofessional of the Year award.

These annual awards honor members of the veterinary field who have contributed to the community and the profession.  The Paraprofessional Award shines a light on veterinary team members who have shown exceptional leadership and dedication.

Smith has been with Rose City Vet Hospital (RCVH) since 2002, serves on several veterinary boards, is a guest lecturer at DoveLewis’s annual conference, and teaches many community pet care classes at RCVH.

RCVH Hospital Manager Jasmine Bachrach said about Smith’s recognition: “It couldn’t be more well-deserved. We are very fortunate to have such an absolutely brilliant tech, teacher, animal advocate and all-around wonderful human being on our team.”

Hallmark Channel goes to the dogs

The American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards premieres Oct. 30 on The Hallmark Channel with a star-studded palette of celebrities including Derek Hough, Lea Thompson, Danica McKellar, Pauley Perrette, Allison Sweeney, and more. 

Now in its fifth year, the Hero Dog Awards competition searches out and recognizes America’s furry, four-legged heroes — often ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it’s saving lives, providing extraordinary comfort, lending sight or hearing, or simply the tail-wagging welcome pet owners relish at day’s end. The program salutes eight category finalists chosen in a nationwide online vote with the announcement of the American Hero Dog of the Year. Learn more at

Nominations sought for 2016 Veterinary Awards

Through September, Petplan pet insurance company is accepting nominations for its 2016 Veterinary Awards. By nominating, pet parents can secure a donation for a pet-related cause while thanking the professionals who keep their own pets healthy — for every nomination, Petplan will donate $1 to pets in need at, or Morris Animal Foundation (nominators may divvy their donations however they’d like).

Awards are six categories: Veterinarian, Veterinary Technician, Practice Manager, Receptionist and Pet Parent of the Year. Winners will be honored in January at Petplan’s Veterinary Awards in Orlando, held in tandem with the North American Veterinary Community Conference. Winners receive cash, goodies, and a donation on their behalf to a pet-related charity of their choice. Vote or learn more at

Public Invited to Humaneitarian Awards Ceremony on April 15

Willamette Humane Society invites the public to attend the 2015 Humaneitarian Awards Ceremony, presented by Capitol Subaru, and sponsored by Salem Electric!  All are welcome to attend and support the local heroes of our community who provide compassionate services to pets and people.  Each nominee will be recognized for their work, followed by the presentation of awards and a social reception.  Dessert, tea and coffee will be served, compliments of Roth’s Fresh Markets.  RSVP not required. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm * Pringle Hall, 606 Church St SE, Salem

2015 Nominees:

·   Al Bessol, WHS volunteer and feral cat trapper.

·   Kathi Buchta, Meow Village volunteer and foster mom.

·   Harmony Crosby, WHS volunteer and dog walker.

·   Tom Halsey, WHS volunteer, dog walker, former board member, animal transporter, Project Fence leader and fundraiser.

·   Dr. Jacque Harter, shelter contract veterinarian for Willamette Humane Society, Marion County Dog Control, and Heartland Humane Society.

·   Corinne Hashenberger, WHS volunteer, foster parent, and pet recovery specialist.

·   Karen Hilfiker, Marion County Dog Control Officer and Veterinary Technician

·   Nina Kraft, WHS volunteer and Humane-a-Teen

·   Alina Miller, WHS volunteer and dog walker

·   Lee Nichols, WHS volunteer and Behavior & Training Instructor

·   Idi Vargas, Founder and Administrator of Lost & Found Pets of Salem

·   Diane Young, Founder of Salem Dogs Rescue 


·   The Humaneitarian Award recognizes a person who exemplifies Willamette Humane Society’s mission of providing compassionate services to pets and people in a volunteer capacity.  The recipient will receive a hand-cast bronze sculpture by artist Calvin Stinger.

·   The Golden Paw Award recognizes significant work or deeds for animals, performed as a paid professional.

·   The Young Paw Award recognizes a young adult’s actions to help animals, considered for nominees under 18.

·   The Volunteer of the Year Award honors a current WHS volunteer for their exemplary service. 

Past award recipients include Denise Smith, Animal Advocate; Dr. Sheri Morris, Dr. Mark Stoenner & Juan Lopez of Willamette Valley Animal Hospital; Michelle Blake of Fences for Fido; Martha Russell, Adopt-An-Oregon-Dog Blogger; Marsha Chambers of Hope’s Haven; Dr. Arlene Brooks of the Last Chance Club; Betty Emerson of Willamette Humane Society and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon; and WHS volunteers Monte & Barb Turner. 

Willamette Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1965 by local civic leaders to serve Marion and Polk Counties, Oregon. In 2013-2014, Willamette Humane Society provided compassionate services to 8,804 pets and 61,740 people.  WHS offers pet adoption services, shelters surrendered or homeless cats and dogs, teaches responsible pet care, behavior and training -- and reduces pet over-population through its low-cost Spay and Neuter Clinic. WHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that relies on donor support and fees to accomplish its mission. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and includes a 37 FTE member staff, and 980+ volunteers. For more information about Willamette Humane Society, visit

Something about that blonde . . .

There’s something about a sweet-spirited, flirtatious, good-looking blonde.  And for the one you’re about to meet, these descriptors barely begin to cover his traits and accomplishments.  Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with him . . .  everyone does, and for good reason. 

He is a talented actor, but wholly unaffected by his fame.  In fact he speaks to his fans daily — over 200,000 of them follow him on Facebook.  He’s been featured in magazines, and has starred in music videos, on television and on stage.  He is also famous for his fierce dedication to eradicating cancer in both humans and animals. 

You might call him an over-Retriever, and go right ahead — he is Parker Pup, and his list of fantastic traits also includes easygoing.  Call him what you like, just be sure to call him for dinner! 

The blonde butterball joined the McFarling family six and half years ago, including two-legged parents, mom (Chris), dad (Dan) and daughter Jenn, and four-legged sister Goldens, Daisy (3), and Sophie (13).  

Named for the former OSU stadium where Dan went to school, Parker’s people created a website to celebrate the life and puppy antics of their adorable new boy.  Photos and videos flowed, showing the little tyke discovering toys, cats, children, the great outdoors, mugging for the camera in sweet and funny outfits, rough-housing with his sister, and executing his increasing repertoire of tricks.  Stealing our hearts with each passing month, and eventually year, Parker Pup grew up right before our eyes.   

The family loved the little guy and took him everywhere — work, church, festivals and gatherings.  A quick study, he sailed through puppy preschool and began obedience, agility and other training, passing the Canine Good Citizenship test at just 11 months of age.  Seemingly destined for great things, about Parker’s ultimate success, Jenn says, “It just happened . . . and we just went with it.” 

Incredibly cute photos and videos continued coming, of Parker and his sister Daisy celebrating birthdays and holidays, showing off Parker’s skills and adventures.  Just for fun, he was entered in a contest.  He won, was increasingly featured on dog-related websites, and his image even appeared on the big screen in Times Square.  Soon he was getting professional gigs in print ads, TV commercials and music videos. 

One big break came as a fluke.  A photo of Parker sent to was picked up and printed by Vanity Fair alongside a column on — you guessed it — “Cuteness” in the December 2009 issue.  The McFarlings had no idea until they received a call from a friend living in France.  Jenn says she got the call one evening after celebrating her birthday with friends.  “I was ready for bed, in my pajamas, and ended up racing to the store to find a copy.”  

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

His mellow temperament led Parker to animal assisted therapy work, with Dan as a natural partner. Working for the State of Oregon in the early ‘80s, Dan’s responsibilities included overseeing the rules governing health care facilities.  A firm believer in the power of pet therapy, one of his earliest acts was implementing rules to allow pets in nursing homes.  “Those same standards, which allow resident pets and pet therapy, are in effect today,” he is proud to point out. 

Parker spreads love and hope while visiting schools, libraries and hospitals.  A regular visitor at Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University, he not only soothes fearful  patients and families affected by cancer, but also alleviates stress of staff members.  When providing animal assisted therapy, or AAT, Parker provides more than a healing touch and warm cuddles.  As a performer with many tricks, he is able to break through fear, generate smiles where there were none, and laughter where it is vital.  While patients and staff thrive in his presence, Parker gets his due as well — he loves his work. 

“It’s easy to tell that Parker enjoys the visits,” says Dan.  “As he approaches one of his regular haunts, his enthusiasm is clear.  His ears perk up, his tail wags enthusiastically, and his pace quickens.  His posture tells me he is one happy fella approaching his therapy work!”  (Click here for more on Dan's experiences with Parker's therapy work).

In his work to eradicate cancer and heighten awareness, Parker participates in cancer walks on the West Coast as an advocate for the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), a four-star charity dedicated to funding studies to advance veterinary medicine.  In existence for more than 60 years, the foundation is currently leading a global campaign to cure canine cancer in 10-20 years, while providing more effective treatments in the meantime.  Parker fundraises throughout the year for MAF, as well as the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  He raised over $10,000 last year for organizations working to find a cure. 

Parker’s connection to cancer started before he was born.  In 2006, Dan was diagnosed with an aggressive strain.  He is now cancer-free, but when faced with something like that, “You do a lot of bargaining,” Jenn says.  “I promised I would someday give back and do whatever I could to help.”   

Last year, cancer struck the family again, taking the McFarling’s beloved Daisy at just 9 years old, fueling Parker to gather over 2,100 names for a vest he wore at a cancer walk in the fall, bearing names of people and animals who were fighting or had lost their battle with the deadly disease. 

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker’s love and therapy also shows up in many unexpected places.  In October, the MAF celebrated its 65th anniversary with a Gala of Hope that included honoring longtime supporter and advocate Betty White.  Parker Pup was on the guest list.  Jenn says, “It was quite an honor as he was the only invited dog.” Laughing, she adds, “He actually received a real invitation!” 

Jenn says meeting Betty White was pretty great, saying it’s easy to tell she has a huge heart for dogs.  “When Parker walked into the room, the whole world stopped for Betty.  She stopped mid-conversation and got the biggest smile on her face.” 

Recently, Parker played Sandy in a production of Annie in Forest Grove.  His role of endearing mutt expanded as he provided comfort to the cast, crew and parents of two little girls killed in a hit and run.  One had been cast as an orphan in the show.    

Another recent happening:  Parker has been nominated in the Therapy Dog category of the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.  It’s perfectly fitting — a hero in his family’s eyes and in the lives he touches — the awards celebrate the powerful relationship between people and dogs, recognizing exceptional canines doing extraordinary things.  Online voting narrows the field to three semi-finalists in eight categories, who are judged by a celebrity panel.  A unique black-tie affair televised on the Hallmark Channel celebrates the heroes on both ends of the leash.  (Go Parker!) 

So, what does this remarkable, busy boy do in his off-time?  “He is totally obsessed with balls,” says Jenn.  “If no one will throw one for him, he’ll make up his own games and entertain himself for hours batting at a ball or sleeping with one in his mouth.” 

These days, new 6-month-old little brother Reser (named for OSU stadium’s name today) also keeps him occupied.  

Hoping Reser might follow in his big brother’s paw-steps, Reser’s first step was enrolling in MAF’s Canine Lifetime Health Study.  One in two dogs of all breeds will get cancer; and one in four will die from it.  For Golden Retrievers, the risk is higher, with 60% dying from the disease.  MAF’s groundbreaking study is following 3,000 Goldens over their lifetimes to gain insights into preventing cancer, helping determine risk factors for canine diseases, and improving the health of future generations. 

Other than that, the family says with Reser they’re flying by the seat of their pants.  “He’s his own dog and pretty spunky, whereas Parker was mellow,”  Jenn says.  “He’ll have a job, we’re just not sure what that is yet.” 

If Parker is any inspiration, then wonderful things will happen. 

For more Parker Pup, go to and follow him at

To read more about the Morris Animal Foundation, visit  

Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services in SW Washington.  She resides in Vancouver with Jessie (a yellow Lab), Pedro & Lorali (parrots), three chickens, and memories of Jake, her heart dog who recently passed on. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.