Meet Bella

Bella will be 8 in September — don’t let that white face fool you!

She spends her time roaming the halls of the Ark Veterinary Clinic (where I work), and spending time with her two cats at home.

Her favorite place to be is running on the beach, away from the water and preferably no wind. 

She has her own closet and dresser, which contain all 400 of her outfits.  She even has her own page on Facebook as Bella Rina (her nickname).  She’s even enjoyed a little fame in the newspapers for supporting our local shelter.

Kelsie, Springfield

We all scream for ice cream!

Walt Grondona of Coburg had the sweetest idea last summer. In addition to offering photography for families and pets as he has for years, he would serve ice cream.  He crowned his expanded business “Walt’s Photography & Ice Cream,” and lickety split, things got more fun.

Open each summer “when it stops raining” and closed “when it starts raining again,” the shop offers hand-scooped premium Tillamook ice cream in 12 flavors — vanilla for the dogs, he says, “so no upset tummies.”

One recent customer was Smiggy (pronounced “Smidgie”), winner of Spot’s 2017 Willamette Valley Cover Model Search, for which Walt is often the official Cover Model photographer. Smiggy’s mom Kristi says her friendly Beagle not only loved the ice cream, he was crazy about Grondona. “Walt was wonderful,” she says, “he was so good with my dog.”

Kristi says Smiggy told her, “I like ice cream!” and that he had a ball with the shoot and with Walt. “I will definitely go back, says Kristi, “and will recommend Walt’s Photography to others.”

Walt enjoyed it too. “We had the most fun!” he says, adding that “Smiggy was just wonderful — he did everything asked of him.” Of course that’s what great models do.

After the photo shoot that proved to be fun for everyone, Walt says, “we had a little ice cream.”

Stop by Walt’s Photography & Ice Cream and get a photo of your best friend for $5, and an ice cream for $5.

The fun is on the house.

Get Yours!

Walt’s Photography & Ice Cream  |  541-686-1050|

Meet Your 2017 Willamette Valley Cover Models

Pets entered Spot's Willamette Valley Cover Model Search last summer, and our winner, Smiggy (chosen randomly), graces the cover of the August/September 2017 issue.  All the smiling beauties who entered are featured below.

Meet Your 2016 Willamette Valley Cover Models

Pets and their people entered Spot's Cover Model Search at events all last Spring and Summer down south in the Willamette Valley.  Winner, Maggie, graces this month's cover.  All the other beauties who entered are featured here.

Cover Model 411

Name: Maggie

Age/Breed: Approximately 5

Stomping Grounds: Maggie has many favorite places – Eugene’ South Hills, Mount Pisgah, and the Amazon Trail near U of O.  Also, Friendly Street Restaurant is a fav among several pet-friendly restaurants she loves.

Pack: Patrick and Renee, Rochelle (Renee's sister) who travels from Windsor, Ontario to visit and stay with Maggie when Patrick and Renee travel.  Mark at Friendly Street Restaurant, who treats her to roast beef and turkey.

Loves: Car rides (especially to restaurants). She loves to be adored and the center of attention, and savors naps with her people.

Special notes: Maggie takes long naps lying upside-down and snoring. Seemingly lacking a sleep meter, Maggie breaks to go potty, then quickly resumes napping. Her neighborhood walk is called the "Maggie Mile", because at the one-mile mark she's ready for a nap. 

Down Dog, Up Dog

How positive reinforcement transforms lives 

Tera and I have seen the transformation that takes place when dogs are trained using positive reinforcement so often, we’ve given it a name: “down dog, up dog.” Dogs that come to us “down” are shut down, scared, or uncertain. Then, after being introduced to positive training, they become “up dogs” — more relaxed, joyful, playful, outgoing dogs who enjoy learning and being with their pet parents.

What’s the difference between positive reinforcement and punishment?

Reinforcement strengthens or increases behaviors. Anything you want your dog to do more of, you should reinforce. If your dog comes to you, praise, pet, let him or her go play again, give a treat. If s/he likes those things s/he will come to you more often. 

Punishment weakens or decreases behaviors. Your dog barks, you bop her on the nose, squirt him with a squirt bottle, or drop a shaker can full of pennies. If the timing was right, s/he may bark less. A potential side effect of punishment is that unless your timing is impeccable, you can accidentally punish the wrong behavior, or worse, create other problems.

Which is better for me?

We at Training Spot are committed to using the most effective and modern training methods with dogs (and their humans). We love and use positive reinforcement. It is more fun for both you and your dog, strengthens your relationship, builds trust and mutual respect, is easy for the whole family to participate in (including kids), teaches your dog what you DO want them to do, and is scientifically proven to be more effective than using punishment.


Great books on positive training


The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller

Positive training tools to share a lifetime of fun, companionship, and respect with your dog. Plus: information on the importance of observing, understanding, and reacting appropriately to your dog's body language; instruction on how to phase out the use of a clicker or treats to introduce more advanced training concepts; a diary to track progress; suggestions for treats your dog will respond to; and a glossary of training terms.

Plenty in Life is Free by Kathy Sdao

In this new book, renowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her life journey and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes her own training philosophy, emphasizing developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.

Jennifer Biglan, owner of Training Spot in Eugene, OR, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in Eugene, OR. She knew she wanted to work with animals at a young age. After graduating from the U of O and volunteering at a dog shelter, she found her calling. Jennifer is well known through the community, and by many area veterinarians for her work in solving behavior problems, and she has extensive knowledge and background training dogs. Learn more about Training Spot at or e-mail

Meet Cover Model Maggie

Patrick and Renee of Eugene had always had large dogs — Golden Retrievers, in fact — except for a three-year hiatus doing elder care for family members. When they began looking again, a co-worker, Victoria, was volunteering at the Saint Bernard Rescue Foundation, so they took a look. “We saw a couple we liked, and then chose one, but someone had already gotten him,” says Patrick. “After a couple of false starts, Renee found one and said ‘This is the one.’ I wasn’t quite ready … the dog was in Medford … we had an older car … and I wanted to wait a couple months.”

They drove to Medford the following day to meet Maggie.

 “We’ve been in love ever since,” Patrick affirms in his mild Irish brogue.

Renee laughs. “We’ve always had male dogs; she’s our first female, and she is such a Daddy’s girl!” She says Patrick has Maggie speaking three languages, English, Spanish and German. “When we leave, he tells her, ‘Dog watch the house’ in German, and she knows what to do. In Spanish, we say, ‘Dog go for a ride in the car’ [here Renee explains she can’t say the actual phrases because “Maggie’s right here.”]

While thought to be about 2 when they got her in January 2012, Patrick suspected Maggie was much younger. “She had puppy poop, sharp little teeth, and bright pink gums,” he says. The vet agreed, saying she was likely just 9-12 months.

Maggie had been passed around family members and a little underweight, but was otherwise in good shape. “She knew basic commands, and other than separation anxiety, she was great,” Patrick says. He believes a road trip during her first year with them helped a lot.

They traveled to Chicago and Wisconsin, where Maggie met family members from several states, Ireland and Canada. They took the northern route home to visit friends in Coeur d’Alene. Staying in hotels most of the time, Patrick believes every time they stopped and continued on as a pack helped Maggie understand they always would.

From the beginning, Patrick says, “She’s been wonderful with kids and older people. Once when I was between jobs we would visit an assisted living residence.  She has this way of kissing . . . she moves her face closer and closer, and then boom! Big kiss! Her tongue is like a foot long,” he laughs.

When planning trips to Europe, the couple’s only worry about Maggie’s care is who stays with her: Mark, who cooks at the Friendly Street Restaurant (making her favorite roast beef or turkey that’s not part of her vegetarian parents’ repertoire), or Renee’s sister,  Rochelle in Windsor, Ontario, who loves to stay with her. “They get their dog fix without owning a dog,” Patrick laughs.

Everyone loves her, it seems. In fact, the cover of this issue shows a little boy who, upon meeting her, immediately and ecstatically began hugging and climbing her, burrowing his smiling face in her fur.

“She’s been such a blessing,” says Renee. “She makes everyone smile . . . or at least turn their heads.” Makes sense. At 150 lbs, she’s small for a Saint.


With the face of an angel, Angelica has the love to go with it. In fact, she loves her people so much that she gets pretty anxious when they aren’t around. She needs a home where she can be with someone who appreciates the intelligent, playful dog she is. She’ll do great with kids 12 and older, and would enjoy a home with a canine friend. She’s spunky, playful, and smart – what’s not to love? Meet Angelica at 1st Avenue Shelter in Eugene, or learn more at 541-844-1777 or  

Raise the ‘WOOF’

SPOT helps spay and neuter dogs for low-income folks

Some rescue groups are more high profile than others. SPOT, aka Stop Pet Overpopulation Today, is more low key. The group serves low-income people who often don’t have smartphones or computers, a double-whammy in terms of getting word out for their services. And there’s the little bit of confusion with this magazine’s name! While the names are similar, the organizations are not affiliated.

The Eugene group’s biggest annual fundraiser is April 9, a 1920s-themed casino night to hopefully raise about $20,000 — enough to fund about half the surgeries planned for 2016.

“We reach out to folks who range from low-income to homeless,” says Joey Curtin, SPOT’s President. “We get a lot of referrals from veterinarians who know there’s just no way they can afford the services, so they know these animals aren’t going to get fixed.”

At almost 20 years old, SPOT has evolved over the years. In 2008 SPOT partnered with WAG, the Willamette Animal Guild spay neuter clinic. The existing SPOT board had been working to raise revenue to help all kinds of animals with various veterinary situations, but they were ready to retire. Curtin was on the WAG advisory board at the time, and she and the other concerned parties put their heads together.

“One of the many needs we saw was that there wasn’t an organization in Lane County raising money to get dogs fixed,” Curtin says. “A few were doing similar things for kitties, so we decided to take that piece and do something with it to help people with the cost of getting their dogs fixed.”

Since that time SPOT has helped fund surgeries for 3,200 dogs in Lane County, possibly 3,300 by now. “I’ve been saying 3,200 for several months and haven’t stopped to count!” Curtin smiles.

Donors can feel good about supporting SPOT. “We have no rent, no salaries, almost no overhead, a $14.95 a month phone line we all can tap into to pick up our calls, and just the expenses when we do a fundraiser,” says Curtin. “Consistently, 96 to 97 percent of every dollar we raise goes directly into spay-neuter vouchers. We want people to know that when they donate to us their money is really getting used.”

SPOT’s Roaring Twenties casino night is being produced by a company specializing in casino events, with professional catering. There will be black jack, roulette, craps, Texas Hold ‘Em, and a WOOF — Wheel of Outrageous Fortune. “It’s outrageous fun!” says Curtin, who encourages attendees to dress in ’20s attire.

People who haven’t gambled before needn’t feel intimidated, says Curtin. Friendly dealers are happy to teach and help, and it’s all in fun. Because the event is as dedicated to ‘fun’ as funds, dealers are likely to slip you an ace and cheat. Attendees will be provided “funny money” for playing, and more can be purchased if desired. At night’s end, winnings are exchanged for raffle tickets for high-end prizes.

In 2014, SPOT set a goal to spay or neuter 150 Pit Bulls at a cost of $10 each; they’re repeating that goal this summer. “Pit Bulls are the most prevalent species in the shelters for a lot of reasons,” says Curtin. “A primary one being their litters are so huge. The average Pit Bull will have between eight and 12 puppies. There also are a ton of puppy mill Pit Bull breeders. It’s a popular breed, but it’s also one that ends up in shelters more than any others, and they tend to not get adopted as easily as a lot of other dogs.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Chihuahuas are the second most common shelter breed, also due to puppy mill breeders. “We’re going to do a project in tandem with WAG in August to get those little guys fixed,” says Curtin. “We do all dogs every day, but when we see areas that really needs a serious focus we try to shine a spotlight on it.”

SPOT: Stop Pet Overpopulation Today  *

Vanessa Salvia's love for animals began as a child, when stray kittens just seemed to follow her home (who thankfully, her family accommodated). She lives on a sheep farm outside of Eugene OR, surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, chickens and kids.

Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog

A few minutes of training every day will build a lasting, loving, relationship 

We love our dogs, and want nothing more than a loving, lasting relationship that includes fun walks and exercising, off-leash romps, snuggles on the sofa, fetching, and the simple joy of companionship. When our dogs are at their best we love them endlessly. When at their worst, however, it can sometimes make us wonder whether we can handle their doggie antics. Pulling us on the leash everywhere they want to sniff and explore, barking incessantly, sometimes seemingly at nothing. While my Lucy has heard about the little boy who cried wolf, she’s the little dog who barked "woof"!   

So, what to do and where to start?  

What to do

The answer in some cases is simple. Start training the instant you get your dog, or better still, before you get him/ her. Training goes both ways; you can learn how to speak dog or rather how dogs communicate, so you can better communicate and understand why s/he does some of the things s/he does.      

When to do it

Find a trainer who will help you incorporate training skills into your daily routine in a way that feels effortless. If you’re like most people, you want the training to be lifelong. For that you will need to occasionally fine-tune and review. 

    A little training goes a long way

    1) Train in short sessions (3-5 minutes each)

    2) Use real-life rewards every day (ask for a behavior your dog knows well before you:

  • let your dog: outside,
  • put food or water down
  • clip on his/her leash
  • invite him/her onto the couch
  • give snuggles/attention (some snuggles should be free)
  • throw a toy/ball, etc. 

What kind of training

The first question clients ask me is often "What kind of training do I do? Use force, choke chains?” etc. It’s an easy question to answer. No. I do not use force, intimidation, choke chains, etc. Why? Partly because I simply don't like those things and do not want my kids doing them either, but mostly because I just don't need to. It is simply more effective and more fun (for everyone) to use positive training.   

50 a day keeps the trainer away

In Kathy Sdao's book, Plenty in Life is Free, she discusses the Smart x50 program, and I love it! The idea is simple and sheds light on how easy it can be to get good behaviors. Have a goal of 50 rewards a day — approximately ¼-cup of your dog’s regular meal. Measure the food out in the morning when you feed your dog, and throughout the day, notice and reward things your dog does that you like throughout the day: coming inside, approaching with all paws on the floor, sleeping on their bed, chewing on their toy, etc. I bet you could do 100! 

Great books and videos on dog body language

     1) Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas (book or video)

     2) The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs (video) 

Share pics of you giving your dog 50 a day here:  

This article is dedicated to Scout.

You came into our lives and changed them forever.  

Thank you for the time you shared with us, it was too short, but it was full.  

Jennifer Biglan, owner of Training Spot in Eugene, OR, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in Eugene, OR. She knew she wanted to work with animals at a young age. After graduating from the U of O and volunteering at a dog shelter, she found her calling. Jennifer is well known through the community, and by many area veterinarians for her work in solving behavior problems, and she has extensive knowledge and background training dogs. Learn more about Training Spot at or e-mail

Featured . . . A truer heart you will not find

Tank is an 11-year-old Pit mix who is an absolute lover. He enjoys giving kisses, taking gentle walks, and chasing tennis balls. It's hard to believe this boy is 11! He can fit up to three tennis balls in his mouth at a time, and loves showing them off. He enjoys destuffing stuffy toys, but is truly a gentle giant.

Everyone at Greenhill Humane loves this boy. He gets tucked in every night by kennel staff, who wrap him in blankies and cuddle him before turning the lights out. He has been at the shelter since October, having come in as part of a bonded pair. Tragically, his 13-year-old sister Sheeba passed away due to health issues, so now Tank is alone. His friends at Greenhill will care for him and soothe his heartache for as long as he needs, but only the love of a family will truly mend his broken heart. Tank has been loving for 11 years now, and has so much left to give! Will you open your heart to his? 

To meet Tank, contact Greenhill Humane Society @ org, 541-689-1503.