Spotlight on...Rhodesian Ridgeback

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback

Megan Noes, Spot Magazine

Size:  Large (70 - 80 lb.)

Grooming needs:  Minimal

Exercise:  High

Environment:  Adaptable to hot climates

Temperament: Athletic, Affectionate

Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 yrs.

Interesting Fact

Ridged hunting dogs roamed the land long before colonizers set foot in southern Africa. They were the trusted companion and hunting dog of the African Khoikhoi (Hottentot) people. Later, colonizers brought other dogs that crossed with the Khoikhoi dogs and produced a new kind of ridged hunting dog that was highly prized by big game hunters. By 1922, as big game hunting began to fade, enthusiasts drew from the Dalmatian Standard to develop the breed standard for what is now the 41st most popular dog in the U.S.  

Appearance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback (nicknamed either Rhodie or Ridgie) is a strong, muscular and agile dog. Its frame is balanced and elegant; it’s bred for endurance rather than bulk. The most distinctive feature is, of course, the ridge of hair that grows against the grain. The ridge is clearly defined and symmetrical, starting right behind the shoulders and tapering to the hip. The Ridgeback’s coat color is “wheaten,” which implies the color of a ripe ear of wheat. It ranges from a pale-yellow shade, “fawn,” to a dark chestnut brown, “red wheaten.” The nose is either black or brown and the eye color reflects the color of the nose. Ridgebacks have strong, smooth tails with a gentle curve towards the end.


Personality

Rhodies are intelligent and intense, but also sensitive. Natural hunters and athletes, Rhodies have been known as lion dogs because they were fierce enough to corner a lion and keep him at bay while the hunter approached. At home, however, these performance athletes have a famously affectionate nature, known to be couch hogs who often cuddle with other pets or lean into their human companions. As snuggly and attached as they become with their favorite humans, they can be generally aloof with strangers. Beware of leaving food out as Rhodies are world class counter surfers -- no food is safe!

Common Health Problems

This is a generally healthy breed, but can be prone to elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. Deafness and dermoid sinus are also occasionally seen in the breed.

Best Match

Rhodies tend to be clean and quiet around the house, lounging while the world revolves around them. This pup needs physical and mental enrichment and is a good match for people who enjoy getting at least an hour of daily exercise. Pet parents can offer running, hiking and other activities like obedience, tracking and agility classes to meet these needs. This breed usually gets along well with household dogs and cats but will likely chase cats outdoors. The best matches are usually experienced dog handlers, especially active single people and families with older children, as Rhodies may accidentally knock over little ones. Either way, once you’ve befriended a Rhodie, you've got a faithful friend for life.



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Megan Noes lives in New York City, with her husband, Jacob, Frenchie Bulldog, Nono, and a revolving door of foster kittens. She works for a major animal welfare organization and loves her former home in the Pacific Northwest.  

SPLASH! Dock Diving

by Christy Doherty

As one of the fastest-growing canine sports in the world, dock diving is making a big splash with dogs and humans alike. Enthusiasts in the Northwest are fortunate that Hillsboro is home to an indoor dock diving facility.

The facility makes year-round practice and competition both possible and fun. “The dream of opening a combination rehab and indoor dock diving facility became real almost four years ago,” explains Diane Kunkle, certified Canine Rehab Practitioner, who co-owns Paws Aquatics Water Sports and Rehab with Julie Thomas.

In dock-diving events, dogs run the length of a dock and leap as far as possible into the water, competing for distance, height, or -- in timed events -- for speed. Human competitors throw a prized toy just out of reach, motivating dogs to keep their momentum and launch into the pool at the best-possible angle.

The sport offers variations on the diving theme. For example, an in-the-air retrieve event, the coveted dog toy is suspended four feet above the water to start, moving higher as dogs complete each level.

With its growing popularity, the sport is drawing a wider variety of breeds. “About 10 years ago, it was pretty much all Labs, but then the other breeds started to try it. Right now Whippets kind of rule the sport,” Kunkle explained.

When Spot Magazine attended a February dock diving event, a Whippet named Sounders jumped so far he touched the back of the pool -- a little over 33.5 feet. The impressive dive matched his world-record jump in December’s National competition.

It’s an equal-opportunity sport. Whether low-slung lap dog or tall Russian Wolfhound, in this game, size really doesn’t matter, and the mix of breeds is endless. The sport’s organizing body, North America Diving Dogs (NADD), divides dogs into two size divisions -- those 16 inches or taller at the withers, and those shorter. There are also divisions like novice, junior, senior, master and elite within each height category.

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Getting their Paws Wet

Dogs benefit from the equalizing effect of water, making the sport accessible to all sizes and ages. “All they need is a strong toy drive and a love for swimming,” Kunkle enthused. “We have two labs who still compete at age 14.”

Kunkle says new dogs get a slow introduction to the sport. “We start them off the side deck, only 8 inches off the water, before moving them to the dock,” she explained.

Jenn Zimmerly-Offinga of Hillsboro competes with Motive, a Boston Terrier whose food drive outpaces her interest in toys. The pair manage a compromise. “For Motive, it’s all about food,” Zimmerly-Offinga laughs. “She doesn’t work for free. Food IS her reward, and there’s no food allowed on the dock. We have to go flying right back to the crate, because she needs a paycheck. Some dogs are volunteers; some need a paycheck. Motive needs an edible paycheck.”

Her first diving dog, Hoodlum, was the 2015 NADD Senior Lapdog National Champion, inspiring many Boston Terriers and other “littles” to follow his example. Hoodlum’s success drew Zimmerly-Offinga’s friend from Canada, Mary Young, into dock diving. She has elite jumpers and announces at events.

Young’s dog, Swindle -- a female Belgian Malinois -- is an elite jumper who jumps far and high.  Swindle is “the best counter surfer around, and likes to sleep under the blankets at night curled in between her humans. She loves everything she does and gives 100% every time,” Young says.

Motive and Swindle went to Nationals last year, where almost 800 dogs competed. “I think there were about 20 dogs from the Pacific Northwest,” Zimmerly-Offinga enthused. The Pacific Northwest offers other diving event locales, including a mobile dock, but the indoor venue is a favorite of some dogs who -- like Motive – hate cold water.  “We call her Sensitive Sally because she doesn’t like to jump into cold water. She likes to jump at PAWS, because the water is warm.”

Zimmerly-Offinga is also training Frantic, a puppy Young gifted her. “Frantic is a Boston Terrier/Whippet/Staffy mix, all legs. He’s very cute, After I lost Hoodlum to GI lymphoma, I said I didn’t need another dog. At diving events, Mary kept saying I did, since Motive doesn’t like cold water. She ended up making a four-hour drive for a puppy I said I didn’t want, and she brought Frantic back.”

That’s what friends are for.

Diving All In

Competing with Quiver, the AKC National Champion Doberman, Teresa Ross of Vancouver, WA was amazed how quickly her dogs mastered diving. “We just started. Neither dog was swimming this summer; they were babies,” Ross explained. “and in August, Avatar was in her first competition.”

Dee Morasco of Amboy, WA was at the competition with her veteran Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Rex, who has been to Nationals in Florida three times. Morasco also brought along a puppy who was adjusting to the excitement. “I’ve been doing dock diving since 2003,” Morasco explained. “It’s a good family sport. Kids as young as 7 can be up there, because two people can be on the dock.”

It’s hard to just get a little bit into the sport. Mary Young confesses, “Oh yes I’m the addicted one. I have three dogs that compete: Swindle and Scandal, my two Belgian Malinois; and Quiz, an Australian Cattle Dog. They are all amazing!”

Immersed in dog sports for over 25 years, including flyball, agility, barn hunt, lure coursing, nose work, urban mushing, obedience, Superdogs and dock diving, Young finds “dock diving seems to be a much more family-friendly event and while people are competitive and want their dogs to do the best they can, the joy of watching all the different dogs and people on the dock is what it’s really all about.”  

Young still competes in agility and flyball, and teaches flyball classes at home in British Columbia, “But the dock diving community is powerful and much more welcoming for all newcomers of all the different size dogs/breeds/mixes – it just doesn’t matter.” 

A tiny jumper’s personal best may be nine feet where the big jumpers sail out 32 feet or farther, but “the human-dog team is what keeps people coming back,” Young asserts. “I live in BC Canada and drive to Oregon for all their events. What I love most about diving is the camaraderie amongst competitors encouraging and helping with each other. We are competitors, but most are friends first,” she said with a smile.

Maybe the sport is wildly popular because, at its heart, it’s all about fun – for people and dogs. “The dogs smile,” Zimmerly-Offinga laughed, “They really do. It’s such fun to see them with smiles on their faces when they’re jumping off the dock!”


Interested in seeing if your pup has a future in the sport? Kunkle offers introductions and assessments at PAWS. A first-time assessment is $65. “After that, dock diving lessons are $45. And on Saturdays from 2-5 there is open dock diving practice, at $25 per dog, no appointment required.” 503-640-4007 www.pawsrehab.net

Diving events require registering with NADD – North American Diving Dogs - $35 for the life of the dog. Each competition has entry fees.

For information on registering your dog with NADD and finding an event, go to NorthAmericaDivingDogs.com.

Photo credit:  Amaya Frutkoff

Photo credit: Amaya Frutkoff

Photo credit: Landon Treanor

Photo credit: Landon Treanor

Spotlight on...The Schipperke

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Size:  Small 10-16 lbs

Grooming needs:  Medium, Heavy Seasonal Shedder

Exercise:  High

Environment:  Indoor, Fenced Yard

Temperament:  Intelligent, Mischievous, Active

Life Expectancy:  15 years 

Interesting Fact: The Schipperke is a Belgian breed that dates back several hundred years. Originally sheep herders, they were later used as a ratter on barges. Schipperke means “little captain” in Flemish.

Appearance: This distinctive dog is small with a thick sloping body, typically with a docked tail in the US. They have small eyes, erect ears, and a foxlike face.  Their dense coat features a large ruff of fur around the neck and a strip of hair trailing toward the rear. Their double coat is either black or blonde.

Personality: The Schipperke is very curious, active and alert. This pup wants to be involved in all family activities, but is also very independent, following his own interests. Highly intelligent, this dog needs activity to stay occupied to prevent excessive barking or destructive chewing or digging. Schipperkes are excellent watch dogs, who happily alert bark and are suspicious of strangers.

Common Health Problems: Usually a hardy and long-lived breed, occasional health issues include eye problems (cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy), hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease or hypothyroidism.

Evelyn

Evelyn

Best Match: The Schipperke will do well with an active household that will include him whether they are hiking or watching a movie. Good with children, this always busy dog thrives on athletic activities and interactive games. Agility courses and food dispensing toys are right up their alley.

For outdoor time it’s best to keep this dog on a leash or in a fenced yard.  Due to their creativity and propensity to chase small animals, they may get over a fence so are best supervised. 

The Schipperke pet parent doesn’t mind a heavy seasonal shedder who needs brushing two or three times a week. Twice yearly the entire soft undercoat will shed and they must be brushed daily during this period.  

Not the best match for a first-time dog owner, Schipperkes have a strong temperament and can be challenging to train.  

Featured Adoptable: Evelyn is a 10 lb, 8-year-old Schipperke/Terrier mix active on the go dog. Adjusting to city life, she is a fast learner and loves daily walks, small forest hikes or trips, and the beach. She also loves other dogs and gets along with the young cat in her foster home. She is confident, sweet, full of life, and ready for her forever family! To meet her, contact the Pixie Project at info@pixieproject.org.


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Megan Noes lives in New York City, with her husband, Jacob, Frenchie Bulldog, Nono, and a revolving door of foster kittens. She works for a major animal welfare organization and loves her former home in the Pacific Northwest.  

Land Rover’s gone to the dogs

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Land Rover recently announced that it is launching a range of premium Pet Packs to help Land Rover owners’ four-legged friends travel in the lap of luxury.

Each Pet Pack includes accessories to suit a range of requirements, including a premium quilted load space liner to protect against paw prints, a foldable pet carrier, an access ramp, a spill-resistant water bowl, and portable rinse system for muddy walks.

Spotlight on...Chiweenies

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

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Size: Small, 3-11 lbs.

Grooming needs: Minimal to Medium, Depends on coat

Exercise: Moderate

Environment: Indoor, Walks Outside

Temperament:  Bold, Playful, Stubborn

Life Expectancy:  12- 20 years

Interesting Fact:  One motivator for his hybrid mix was to reduce the risk of back problems that can be occur in Dachshunds. 

Appearance:  These little ones can have coats that range from short and smooth to medium, long or wiry. The coat may be solid or bi-colored. You’ll see a variety of colors in Chiweenies, including a solid black, chocolate, red or fawn or combinations such as black and tan, chocolate and red and fawn and tan. They’re built long and low to the ground, but not as elongated as a purebred Doxie. They can sport the prick ears of a Chihuahua or the drop ears of a Dachshund, and may have a Chihuahua’s domed head or a more pointed snout like a Chihuahua or pointed snout like a Dachshund. 

Personality:  Temperament is partially inherited for all dogs, so if you’re adopting a puppy from the shelter, try to meet the mom! Chiweenies are happy with their people and a true lap dog in size and preference. They like to cuddle and are affectionate and devoted. This can go a little too far and they can be jealous when their person interacts with other people or pets, although many prove to be easy-going and sociable. This breed tends to be bold and take charge. Although small, they still make good guard dogs as they will bark at disturbances. 

Common Health Problems:  Chiweenies can be prone to hypoglycemia. Dental disease can also be a concern, particularly in the dogs whose heads and faces more resemble a Chihuahua. And while they’re bred to have fewer back problems than Doxies, some Chiweenies can develop degenerative disc disease. To manage this risk, try to keep them from jumping. They can run and play to their hearts’ content, but it’s wise to add some safety to their routine, especially around obstacles like stairs and beds.

Snickers

Snickers

Best Match:  As both breeds are prone to barking, Chiweenies can be more vocal than is practical for apartment living.  Because of their tendency to develop strong bonds with just one or two people, they’re not the first choice for larger families, and they should always be supervised around small children. Their best match is an adopter who will enjoy taking them for about an hour of daily activity such as hiking, swimming or just a walk or jog. Activity can help manage weight, and being overweight can increase the risk of back problems or other health issues. The Chiweenie can make excellent travel companions as they are small in size and love to be with their people. 

Featured Adoptable:  Snickers is an active, sassy Chiweenie with a big personality! She is a 2 year old young lady who loves cats, dogs and kids over 10 years old. She also enjoys car rides, cuddling, and playing. She wants to play with toys and play tag with other dogs. She’s at a rescue in Aloha, Oregon, and is looking forward to joining a pack soon! Visit http://sshcr.rescueme.org or contact (503) 459-7186. 


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Megan Noes lives in New York City, with her husband, Jacob, Frenchie Bulldog, Nono, and a revolving door of foster kittens. She works for a major animal welfare organization and loves her former home in the Pacific Northwest.

Are favorite health foods good for dogs?

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Not necessarily, says Veterinarian Katy Nelson, who follows the latest trends as host and executive producer of a popular Washington, DC televised pet program. Set down the goji berry and kale smoothie and check out this doctorly advice:

-        Eat that whole avocado yourself — it’s not good for dogs. The fruit, stem, leaves, and seeds contain a compound called persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

-        Feel free, however, to share your turmeric and coconut oil. The mild-tasting, boldly-yellow spice revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and possibly ant-cancer properties might interact with other medications, so ask your vet first. Tumeric is good to pair with coconut oil, as it aids absorption of the healing properties. Dr. Nelson says it’s okay in small amounts or as a topical treatment for itchy, dry skin. Just don’t get excited over rumors that the oil can cure thyroid or other diseases in your dog. There’s scant evidence to support such claims.

-        Flax seed oil? Probably yes, says Dr. Nelson. There’s evidence that it’s good for dogs’ skin and joint health, but only your vet can say if it might be right for your pup.

-        Finally, while trustworthy studies are scarce, Nelson says her own pets and patients do well on hempseed oil for anxiety or arthritis pain, so it’s worth a conversation with your own vet.

Suzy

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I bet you’ve been thinking you’d like a new friend — preferably a Jack Russell with wisdom and maturity. I’m Suzy, and I’m your girl! I’m 12, and 11 pounds of canine cuddles. I was adopted once and got returned — I just didn’t get along with the other dog. A lady has opinions. I spend time in staff offices at Greenhill, and they say I’m a very good girl! If you’re looking for a fabulous only pet, please come meet me at Green-hill.org, 541-844-1777.

Homeless Dogs + Incarcerated Youth = 25 years of success

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Life for an incarcerated teenager is the picture of uncertainty: will he get caught in a cycle of repeat incarcerations, or will he somehow gain the skills and emotional maturity to live successfully on the outside?

A shelter dog’s life is uncertain too, even with the high adoption rates in our region.

For a quarter-century, one local nonprofit has brought these two populations together with groundbreaking results for both. Oregon-grown and nationally-recognized Project POOCH is celebrating 25 years of rehabilitating incarcerated youth while transforming “unadoptable” dogs into desirable companions. 

“The human-animal bond is what we promote,” says Joan Dalton, founder of the Woodburn, OR-based nonprofit that matches youth at MacLaren Correctional Facility with dogs from local shelters. The facility houses and educates males under 25 who are convicted of crimes ranging from misdemeanors to the most serious felonies.

Dalton founded POOCH in 1993 while serving as vice-principal of Lord High School at MacLaren.  At the time, there was a handful of programs that used the human-animal bond to rehabilitate adult prisoners, but, Dalton says, “Nobody had tried it with juveniles.” She risked nearly everything to pursue her vision, including her home, which she sold to launch the program — starting with just one youth and one dog.

How It Works

Individual youth are paired with a rescued dog and a professional dog trainer and behaviorist. For the youth, Dalton explains, one-on-one work with the dog often addresses the animal’s possible background of neglect, resulting in a strong therapeutic bond that, to date, has changed the lives of hundreds of dogs and young men. Dalton proudly points to the program’s zero recidivism rate. Impressive all by itself, the numbers are even more astounding considering that the national average is 25 to 40 percent.

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To be eligible, youth offenders must meet rigorous requirements, including an interview, an exemplary institutional history, and no record of animal abuse. The program’s comprehensive syllabus teaches patience, compassion, and commitment, along with bookkeeping, computer skills, grooming and boarding operations. The project’s fundraising ventures raise money to support POOCH and other corrections programs serving dogs and at-risk youth, while also helping youth pay restitution and child support.

Along with learning the hard skills of running a business, POOCH participants experience social and emotional growth. “In the past, I used to not be concerned with much besides my own needs,” writes one anonymous youth. “But I realize this wasn’t very healthy for me. By working and being with these dogs, I find myself caring more and more about how they are and how they’re progressing in their training. I also think about how they’re doing every day that I’m away from them.”

As the program gained recognition, researchers took note of its success. In survey results, MacLaren staff reported improved respect for authority, social interaction, and leadership skills among POOCH participants. According to Sandra Merriam, PhD, of Pepperdine University, “Program youth interviewed reported that they felt they had changed and improved in the areas of honesty, empathy, nurturing, social growth, understanding, self-confidence and pride of accomplishment.”

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The project yields equally important outcomes for the dogs. Upon completing their part in the program, the once “unadoptable” dogs graduate as desirable companions. “We do home visits,” Dalton says, to make sure it’s a good match, and then, “we do a trial overnight.”

Sometimes adoptive families send photos and updates on their dogs. “This is amazing,” Dalton says, and the youth love hearing how well their dogs have been trained. “This is a dog that would’ve been put down,” Dalton points out. “We really did make a difference.”

POOCH will celebrate its silver anniversary with a “Year of the Dog” fundraiser and benefit July 14 at Montgomery Park in Portland. Dalton says the festivities will include an appearance by the first young man to graduate from the now legendary program. Like the peers who would follow him, he has remained a free and productive member of society.


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William Kennedy is a freelance writer who lives with his wife and daughter in downtown Eugene, Oregon. He's had many furry friends in his lifetime. Currently, he's tolerated by a black cat named Midnight.

Spotlight on...Goldendoodle

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

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Size:  Various

Grooming needs:  Moderate

Exercise:  Medium

Environment:  Indoor with Outdoor Access

Temperament:  Intelligent, Friendly, Active

Life Expectancy:  15 years

Interesting Facts:  The Goldendoodle — or Groodle — is referred to as a “designer dog” or breed hybrid. Developed in the mid-1990s, they are among various “doodle” creations, the first of such mixes being the Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle.)  While there’s no guarantee you’ll get the best traits or two breeds, breeders hoped to get the intelligence of the Poodle and the loving nature of the Golden Retriever.

While they are not actually hypoallergenic, many adopters seek them out for their reputation as a good dog for families with allergies. Goldendoodles will shed less and have less skin dander than many other breeds, but this doesn’t eliminate the actual cause of allergies in humans, which is a particular protein shed from the dog’s skin.

Appearance:  Goldendoodles can vary greatly, even within the same litter. While generally medium-sized with males weighing 50-80 pounds, you’ll see them characterized as standard, medium, miniature and toy, with miniatures weighing 20-45 lbs. Coats vary too, ranging from flat to wavy to tightly curled. Color ranges from cream to red, gold, chocolate, or combined into a merle, phantom, or brindle. Their coats can grow to a bushy eight inches long left unclipped, so they typically need regular brushing and a grooming every 6-8 weeks.

Personality:  These pups are generally intelligent and friendly. Pet parents describe Groodles as social, gentle, and compatible with children and other pets. They’re typically activity-loving dogs that do best with plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

Common Health Problems:  There are some cases of hip dysplasia in this breed. As with any potential new family member, talk to your veterinarian and the rescue or adoption agency about any concerns. 

Best Match:  Goldendoodles are social, active dogs who thrive when their families spend a good deal of time with them and provide a minimum of 20-30 minutes of daily exercise. Doodles have done well as guide dogs, in service or therapy, and sniffer dogs.

Goldendoodles are considered friendly and trainable matches for first-time dog parents.  

Featured Adoptables

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Rowena

Few Goldendoodles come up for adoption and, when they do, are quickly homed. At press time, we found Rowena available at Multnomah County Animal Services. She’s 7 years old and 71 pounds. Look for her at MultCoPets.org.

Most often rescues and shelters will have fabulous Poodle mixes with many of the desirable traits of their Doodle counterparts. Here’s one:

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Lilly

Lilly is a four-year-old Toy Poodle. Weighing about 9 pounds, she’s a loyal pint-sized companion who looks forward to long walks and quiet cuddle time with her new family. Since she’s a bit fearful around young kids, she will do best with adults only or children 12 and older. Meet the lovely Lilly at the Humane Society for SW Washington in Vancouver. Southwesthumane.org.


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Megan Mahan lives in New York City with her fiance Jacob, Frenchie Bulldog Nono, and the occasional foster dog or litter of foster kittens! She works for a major animal welfare organization and loves her former home in the Pacific Northwest.