New SE Vet - A ❤ for Comfort, Rescues

Buckman staff in lobby full size.jpg

Dr.  Valori  Johnson  knew her life’s calling from an early age. “The rest of my family were mathematicians and engineers,” she says, “but I was born with the animal bug, and made sure we always had a house full of pets.”

Her passion for animals led her right through veterinary college and into a specific vision for how she wanted to practice medicine. “Since veterinary school I have worked in large, busy practices,” she says. “I wanted to create a clinic with a calmer, friendlier atmosphere that was less stressful for our patients and clients.”

Johnson — Dr. Val to her friends and clients — fulfilled that dream in February when she opened Buckman Veterinary Clinic in SE Portland. Since then, she’s seen exactly the results she’d hoped for. “A number of the dogs and cats who had earned a reputation for being ‘spicy customers’ have been much easier to work with in our new space where they are not as stressed out,”  she says.

Johnson also had another goal when she opened her clinic. “I am hoping that the flexibility of having my own practice will allow me to expand the work I do with local animal animal rescues," she says. Johnson has worked closely with My Way Home Dog Rescue, a Sandy, OR nonprofit that places dogs from overcrowded shelters into forever families.

Cheryl Yoshioka, who runs My Way Home, helped Johnson get Buckman Clinic up and running. Now, the rescue’s dogs visit the new clinic for help with issues ranging from broken bones to autoimmune diseases and liver and kidney problems.

“Most all the dogs coming into rescue have suffered neglect,” Yoshioka says, “so their care is a priority for us. Our rescue does quite a few senior dogs, and after living a life of neglect they require special care. Dr. Val has provided that for us.”

Buckman Vet Alvin full resolution.jpeg

The work reaps rewards for the doctor as well as the patients. “There is nothing quite as nice,” Johson says, “as being able to help these animals that come in neglected and suffering get back on their feet and settled in new loving families.”

The doctor says says a career in primary vet care is “a complex puzzle” requiring a unique mix of medical knowledge, scrupulous study of the latest research, and a healthy dose of compassion. “I want our clinic to be filled with people who not only have the skills any veterinary staff member needs,” she explains, “but also have a passion for working with pets and the empathy to work with them gently.”

“So many times in my career,” Johnson says, “I have seen people handling pets in ways that are unnecessarily stressful to them. I am working to develop a culture where pets and their people are treated right as individuals with unique needs."

“When we succeed in this balance, and know we have helped a pet and his or her family, that is the best reward there is!”


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.

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.


DoveLewis now offers internal medicine

Internal medicine is a specialty veterinary discipline focused on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic or complicated diseases. DoveLewis has added this element to its offerings, welcoming to the team Dr. Barbara Davis, DACVIM, a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist.

Davis obtained her BS in Biology from Loyola University in 2005 and DVM from the University of Minnesota in 2009. She went on to complete a small animal internship and practiced small animal general medicine. She received board certification in 2015, and enjoys managing a range of complex small animal medical cases with a special interest in renal and liver diseases and infectious diagnosis and management. 

Appointments with Dr. Davis are by referral from patients’ primary care veterinarians, with whom she will work closely and in support of to provide diagnosis and treatment.  

New vet practice offers care fit for humans

The Heartfelt building's design emulates a human hospital.

The Heartfelt building's design emulates a human hospital.

When you take your pet to see Dr. Thomas Mackowiak at Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital, don't be surprised if you're looking down at him the whole time.

"He’s so personable," says Mackowiak's personal and professional partner and Heartfelt’s business manager, Ryan Hesketh. "When he walks into an [exam] room, the first thing he does is get down on the pet’s level. If they’re on the ground, he’s on the ground with them."

Dr. Mackowiak — whose name is pronounced mack-OH-vee-ack — is originally from Germany. After studying veterinary medicine in Chile, he received his doctorate at Oregon State University, then began practicing at a corporate facility before starting Heartfelt.

"He wanted to create an environment that's more specific for each pet’s needs," Hesketh explains. 

Which is why they chose the name Heartfelt — because they approach their practice by treating their clients' pets with the same gentle, professional care they would their own. 

Mackowiak and Hesketh also modeled Heartfelt after a human facility, with three exam rooms and a human-grade surgery suite. Unlike many vet hospitals, however, the patient doesn't go straight from treatment center to surgery. Instead, there are separate prep rooms just like in a human hospital.

Dr. Mackowiak's patients love him.  Photo courtesy of Heartfelt.Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Mackowiak's patients love him.  Photo courtesy of Heartfelt.Veterinary Hospital.

"It keeps the surgery room totally sterile," says Hesketh. "It’s not at all a typical setup."

Heartfelt also has an in-house lab, an isolation suite for pets that are contagious, and separate canine and feline wards. "They're completely soundproof," says Hesketh, "so the cats don't get stressed from hearing the dogs." 

Heartfelt offers pet care plans with monthly premiums ranging from $30-$40 for felines and $40-$50 for canines. Hesketh says the plans are a good deal. "It covers all vaccines for the year, all of the typical testing, like ear cytology and urinalysis, and other preventive care."

Good deals aside, Heartfelt's main attraction is its dedicated veterinarian. Hesketh says he’s been amazed at the number of patients who have found Dr. Mackowiak from his previous job. "They just love him," he says.  

* Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital * 1127 NE Broadway St., Portland * 503-765-1210 * 

Vanessa Salvia's love for animals began as a child, when stray kittens just seemed to follow her home.  She now lives on a sheep farm outside of Eugene, Oregon, with a llama named Linda, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, two kids and a patient husband.

Winning the Dog Lottery

DogLottery2 (640x480).jpg

Tales of lives transformed

Sam’s Story

“He/she won the Dog Lottery!” is a favorite expression of my husband Tim’s.  Our Sam is indeed among the winners.

I rescue dogs from bad situations.  Sam was a black and white Border Collie with excellent herding instincts.  Purchased at 10 weeks of age, upon arrival at his new home Sam was chained to a garage and issued an army blanket.

The man who purchased Sam had been encouraged to do so for companionship after becoming widowed.  Of course this only works if the human and dog actually spend time together.

A typically rambunctious puppy and left on his own, Sam had that army blanket — his only source of entertainment — shredded in no time.  Now living in the high desert and spending his nights on a concrete slab, Sam soon collected as much of that shredded blanket around him to sleep; the cold nights sometimes fell into subzero temperatures.

Adding to his discomfort was the nylon collar that unfortunately wasn’t growing with Sam.  Over time it became imbedded into his neck.

One day while working his tractor, the man accidentally hit Sam, causing a large scrape on his back and a fractured pelvis.  Left to heal on his own, fortunately Sam managed, but the fracture healed imperfectly which would eventually lead to arthritis.  Sam’s owner began having medical problems himself — karma perhaps? — and had to have a total hip replacement. 

At that point Sam was fed whenever someone remembered to stop by the house and put kibble in his bowl.  After the man returned home from the hospital a friend stopped by regularly to help with basic chores and housekeeping while the man was recovering.  After seeing Sam and his situation the friend contacted me and asked if I would like to adopt Sam.

I wasn’t looking for another dog, as I already had two.  But I agreed to have a look with no obligation.  What was I thinking??!  The chances of me not taking Sam out of his situation were about as high as someone dieting for months and then turning down a hot fudge sundae! 

I arrived accompanied by two friends to see Sam’s situation for myself.  In short order I was assuring Sam’s owner that I would give Sam a good home and not to worry.  The man said he didn’t care what I did with Sam, “just take him,” he said rather gruffly, handing me Sam’s papers.  We loaded him into the backseat of my friend’s convertible and Sam departed in style.

He was a mess.  Nearly emaciated, his fur was filthy and matted.  The first thing I did was remove his collar, sickened at the tender, hairless strip around his neck.  I loaded him into the backseat of my pickup and started our three-hour drive home. 

My Border Collie, Needa, sat up front with me, riding shotgun.  Sam popped his head and front paws over the back of the seat to say hello, and was greeted with Needa’s radiant smile in full bloom.  Sam slunk back, but a moment later popped up to greet her again.  The routine continued all the way home.  Sam was determined that he and Needa would become friends.  I had rescued Needa seven years earlier, but how quickly they forget when a new adoptee joins the family!  Needa’s full name is “Needa Home,” christened by the kind folks who’d found her as a puppy, dumped on the side of the road.

I am blessed with a talented and compassionate husband who is a veterinary surgeon.  He always says if there is reincarnation he wants to come back as one of my dogs. 

Once home, Sam was whisked off to my husband’s practice, where he was bathed, vaccinated and radiographed to get a baseline on his physical condition.  He had blood drawn to ensure he could safely be anesthetized for surgery.  The radiographs revealed his previous pelvic fracture and how the compromised healing would undoubtedly cause pain in his senior years. 

Sam was two years old at this time, for the most part seemingly healthy.  Border Collies are very active dogs and will find a job if not provided with one.  In anticipation of Sam’s energy level, my wise husband opted to perform a prophylactic gastropexy to avoid a possible bloat and torsion, which can be fatal.  He came through the surgery — which included neutering — beautifully.


As he settled into his new home it became apparent that Sam had his quirks.  Not surprisingly he had trust issues with humans, and he decided his little circle of friends would include me and my father and brother.  With all his good intentions, my husband didn’t quite make the short list.  Sam had a long list too:  what wasn’t allowed or tolerated in his world was extensive.  My brother and I realized there would be no two-handed petting, no two-person petting, no petting fur against the direction it grew, no fast petting, no patting and no kissing.  What was okay my brother referred to it as “vanilla petting,” which involved one hand slowly petting the top of Sam’s head in the direction of his coat. 

Sam took an immediate liking to my father, routinely jumping on the couch next to him to be petted.  My father, a World War II veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart Award, definitely had the right stuff as far as Sam was concerned. 

As Sam and Needa developed a relationship I realized that playing ball for Needa meant me throwing the ball, and her retrieving it so I could throw it again.  And again.  Sam had no interest in the ball.  He still needed a job though, and he decided it would be herding Needa while she played ball with me.  Aha! I thought.  I located a sheep herding class about an hour from home.  It seemed perfect for Sam. 

I don’t know who benefited more, Sam or me.  The adventure was wonderful, and Sam and I could be found in class every Saturday morning, rain or shine.

From the editor:  Sam passed away in his dog-mom Sharon’s arms at the hospital where Tim currently practices.  He lived to be 12½ years old.  Sharon says, “I miss him every day but know he had a good life.  It was so rewarding to see him on a summer day rolling around in the grass just enjoying being a dog with no worries except who he was going to herd next. 


Sharon McCarthy is married to Dr. Tim McCarthy who says if there is reincarnation he wants to come back as one of her dogs.  A native Oregonian, Sharon attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. and graduated from Portland State with a BS.  She is a lifelong horse enthusiast and dog and cat lover.

101 Essential Tips: You need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog

101 Essential Tips: You need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog  by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed

Author Jason Nicholas, BVetMed, emergency room and general practice veterinarian known as “The Preventive Vet,” has written a fun, sharp, info-packed little book “dedicated to the dogs who enrich our lives,” dealing with everyday concerns in life with dog, from behavioral and digestive problems to poisonings, illnesses, traumatic accidents, and a variety of preventable issues and emergencies that “all-too-commonly affect puppies” and dogs of all ages.

A gem in the Northwest professional pet community, Nicholas is passionate about teaching and helping families with dogs live happy, healthy, safe lives.  Widely respected and loved, Nicholas is an accomplished veterinarian, entrepreneur, on-camera spokesman, marketer, and now . . . author.  He is donating 5% of the book’s proceeds to deserving pet charities every three months, something he says he’s “really proud of and excited for :-)”

101 Essential Tips has spot-on tidbits that take on common issues, illustrated with clever, fun and funny illustrations by Chuck Gonzales.  A worthy read for any pet parent, 101 Essential Tips belongs in every veterinary lobby, school library, pet store and shelter, and is the perfect gift for new puppy or dog parents.  If you love and live with dogs, read and share this book! 

Jason Nicholas, BVetMed

Jason Nicholas, BVetMed

Find 101 Essential Tips:

New Seasons

Various Vet Clinics  


Animal Hospital driven by family and community


First in Cat Grooming and 2nd in both Veterinary Practice and Cat Medical prove Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital in Beaverton, OR is loved by the people! And the wins continued . . . three 5th place wins included Dr. Laird Goodman for Veterinarian, and the hospital for Cat Boarding and Dog Grooming. Murrayhill also made Top 10 for Cat Daycare.

Fostering the human/animal bond and emphasizing preventative care are hallmarks of Murrayhill. “We feel very honored and fortunate to be recognized, both the hospital and the people who work here,” says Goodman of the Top Dog Awards.

The doctor credits the many wins to the core values Murrayhill lives by. He says it’s all the little things adding up — compassion, enhancing the human/animal bond, client education, progressive medicine and diagnostics, proactive care, as well as what he calls his “Mayo clinic” of a team.

Goodman started practicing at North Portland Veterinary in the early ‘90s where he says he was mentored along with other notable local veterinarians. He and Murrayhill's other four doctors serve on numerous veterinary advisory boards and organizations such as the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, Oregon Humane Society and Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society).

A fun tidbit from Goodman’s earlier years — he was an on-staff veterinarian during the filming of Homeward Bound, a remake of the popular Disney classic. This meant consulting on and caring for the many animals on set — including “three Sassys (the cat), four Chances (the Bulldog), and five Shadows (the Golden Retriever),” he noted. How do multiple animals convincingly portray one character? Makeup!

Of Murrayhill’s Joni MacDonald, 1st place Cat Groomer, Laird he says he is amazed. At Murrayhill for nearly 20 years, rather than “groomer,” MacDonald refers to herself as a “pet hairstylist.”

Family- and community-driven, Murrayhill gives back by providing pro bono services to homeless pets, OHS foster animals, and time and financial support to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.

To learn more about this Top Dog, and its award-winning staff and services, at - Vonnie Harris

Consecutive years of praise

Dr. Sulis

Dr. Sulis

This SE Portland clinic, known for its comfy furniture and high-touch service, is a consistent Top Dog favorite.  Dr. Kristin Sulis opened the practice in hopes of creating a sunlit, environmentally-friendly atmosphere that would nurture her clients, patients and staff.  Consecutive years of praise and top awards prove she has succeeded.

Dr. Bussman

Dr. Bussman

“I wanted a space that was very pet friendly,” Dr. Sulis says, “hence the rough-ground concrete floors and carpet.  Our weight scale is sunken in the ground so dogs only have to stand on a piece of carpet and get cookies, which isn't too hard.”  The clinic exudes a lighthearted, upbeat energy reflected back in client reviews.  Sulis points to her current favorite:  a client’s hilarious description of her dog “licking up every precious drop of glow-in-the-dark orange Easy Cheese” that Mt. Tabor’s award-winning Dr. Krissy Bussmann dispenses to turn a potentially-scary needle aspiration into a pretty fun deal.  Bussmann is a 2nd Place Top Dog in the individual Veterinarian category this year.

Dr. Bussmann sums up Mt. Tabor’s credo like this: "I find that it’s best to simply be genuine, kind, caring, and invested in each pet's greatest possible well-being." – Michelle Blake

Top Dog - Veterinarian


Proprietor: Courtney Anders DVM

Pearl Animal Hospital

1250 NW 10th Ave., Portland, OR

503-954-3393 ∙

Est. 2008

Philosophy/Mission:  My mission is to ensure that my patients live the longest and happiest lives possible.  I believe in being proactive and I emphasize wellness care in order to prevent health issues.  For example, administration of broad spectrum parasite control can help to prevent harmful and potentially life-threatening parasites for your pet, your family, and your community.  I also believe in working with and providing education for clients to become partners in their pet's health care.  For example, I enjoy working closely with owners to manage weight in order to minimize long term arthritic changes and also to manage oral health in order to prevent periodontal disease.  These are two areas that owners can play an active role in keeping their pet healthy and happy. 

Claim to Fame/Signature Product or Service:  I love dentistry!  My favorite moments are when I can see the health benefits of an owner's oral home care efforts.  My goal is to eliminate periodontal disease in my patients with routine dental procedures and owner education about appropriate chew toys and home care options.

Community Involvement, Special Notes:  I am a board member at Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital and am an active member of PVMA (Portland Veterinary Medical Associate.)  I have also volunteered to spay/neuter cats at Feral Cat Coalition.  You are also likely to see Pearl Animal Hospital out and about at local pet events.

2nd Place: Krissy Bussman DVM, Mt. Tabor Veterinary Care

4246 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR

503-200-5555 ∙

3rd Place: Kristin Sulis DVM, Mt. Tabor Veterinary Care

4246 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR

503-200-5555 ∙