Sniff Nursery School opens

In yet another 1st, Portland welcomes the Sniff Nursery School, for pups 8-20 weeks.

A puppy’s fist 8-20 weeks is the time to establish a solid foundation through socialization, training and exploration. This is when they learn to socialize and play appropriately with other dogs, and skilled assistance can help ensure your puppy grows into a friendly, happy and safe adult dog. 

The Sniff Nursery school features educated, experienced trainers using only positive reinforcement. In a safe, clean and nurturing environment, puppies learn appropriate play behavior with big and small pups, including: bite inhibition, potty training, leash desensitization, name recognition, impulse control, crate training, separation confidence, boundary training and basic skills.

Puppies go home tired and happy, says owner Jamie Mollas. “We provide our puppy parents with resources to continue training at home." Parents also receive progress reports and ongoing communication throughout the program. Learn more at

Keepin' it clean

We’re getting plenty of rain now, and most owners are now experiencing the woes of muddy/wet paw prints all over the house.  Here are some quick tips and training ideas to keep your pooches’ feet clean.

Get the right gear!

Set yourself up for success with wet weather accessories such as absorbent mats, dog booties, and rain coats. 

Absorbent Mats

These are great during the winter. Place one mat outside the door and one inside so your dog walks over both. The Dog Gone Smart Dirty Dog Doormat is a great addition inside, and I have taught my dogs how to spin in circles on the rug after they come in. Instructions below.


Yes, I said it: dog booties. Not only will they keep your dog’s feet warm, they can also help keep your house clean. Throw some on before you let your dog outside — muddy paw problem solved!

Rain Coats

Suit them up before sending them outside or going for walks. It keeps the body dry and minimizes wet dog smell and excess drying time.  


Keep a basket of towels near the door for easy access during winter. I prefer a small wash cloth or hand towel for drying paws because they fit easily into my hand.

Training Games

Now that you’ve set yourself up for success and have everything you need in place, make cleaning your dog’s feet part of your daily routine!

Spin the doggie

If you have a dog who loves to tug, keep a tug toy and an absorbent mat near the door. When your dog comes inside, play a good game of tug and spin them around on the rug a few times. It’s an easy way to clean their feet and they love it!

Teach your dog to spin

Keep a jar of treats by the door and whenever every time your dog comes inside, tuck a treat into your hand and lure him or her around in circles. Do one circle, then feed one treat. Repeat 2-3 more times with the treat still in your hand, then do 2-3 more without a treat in your hand, holding your hand in the same position both ways. When the dog completes the spin feed a treat. This will teach your dog to spin with just the hand signal. E-mail me for a video on teaching a spin with a lure at

Happy Feet

If you would rather teach your dog to enjoy having his or her feet cleaned with a towel, keep a jar of treats and a towel by the door. Every time your dog comes inside and comes to you on the mat, immediately feed one treat. Then wipe one paw and feed one treat. Repeat this with the remaining 3 paws, one swipe, one treat. Repeat this process every time your dog comes inside. Gradually you will begin to wipe two paws before giving a treat, then three, until eventually you can do all four for one treat at the end.  

If you have questions or need more tips, ideas, or videos on any of the exercises above, please e-mail and we will happily send you more information. Have a clean winter!

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

Super Seniors

The benefits of training your elderly dog



We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but nothing could be further from the truth. We may need to modify some of our tricks and stop asking a dog with bad hips to sit, but any dog at any age is ready (and happy!) to learn. Training your senior dog will enrich their life, provide much-needed mental exercise, and help keep them mentally sharp.

Transferring verbal cues (that your senior may no longer be able to hear) to hand or touch signals is a great way to get started. Even though your dog may have stopped being able to hear the verbal cues you are using, they still know how to do them, and it will only take a few short training sessions to teach them to respond to a new cue.

Transfer a cue

To transfer an old cue to a new cue, practice the cues in pairs. Count out about 10 small (pea-sized), soft training treats. Show your dog your new cue (a hand signal or touch to their body) then give the old cue (if your dog can still hear a little). Praise and treat when they get it right, then repeat nine more times. If your dog can’t hear at all you will need to help them with luring.

Hand Target

My favorite cue to teach senior dogs is to target and follow my hand with their nose. Hand targeting can be useful for teaching your senior to come, move when you need them to move, stand, and a lot of other fun and useful tricks!

When my senior Kyla started losing her hearing I transferred her verbal cue “Come” to a hand target. Now when I need her to come close I hold my hand out with my palm facing her and she “runs” over to touch her nose to my hand. To teach this cue, count out 10 soft pea-sized treats, put your empty hand with your palm facing your dog about 2 inches away from your dog’s nose, then, when they touch your palm with his or her nose, praise and give a treat.

While working on new cues, keep in mind your dogs’ physical limitations. I stopped asking Kyla to sit several years ago as she is arthritic and has hip problems. We now work on stand (which is pretty easy because she stands all the time), come, and nose targeting.

Teaching your old dog new tricks is good for him or her and you in many ways. For one, continuing to learn help keeps the mind healthy. It also provides you and your companion a “language” you can both use and understand, keeping you connected and making life easier for you both. And of course, as always, training/learning activities never stop nurturing the bond between you and your best friend. 

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

Dog is Great!

Train your way to the best dog you’ve ever had!

Want a well-behaved dog? Here’s the secret, and guess what: it’s easy. Notice and reward behavior you like!  

Your dog will be the talk of the town with these easy to follow training steps.  

#1 Make a list of things your dog loves.

#2 Make a list of things you want your dog to do more of.

#3 Notice and reward behavior you like.

Step 1:  Things my dog loves!

Going outside, coming in, going out again (you get the picture), mealtime, attention, petting, getting his leash on, TREATS, getting on my bed, chasing a toy, saying hi to people / other dogs, getting the leash off (at the dog park), etc. 

Every item on your list can be used to reward behaviors you like, and behaviors that are noticed and rewarded (with something your dog wants) will be repeated. When your dog walks up to you and keeps all four feet on the ground, giving him attention, petting, or calm praise tells him four on the floor is a good thing that should be repeated. I like to measure out ¼ cup of my dog’s food in the morning to use throughout the day to reward behaviors I like. When he sits? Good boy, here’s some of your breakfast.

Step 2:  I want my dog to…

Make a list of things you want your dog to do. Here are a few examples of goals and how you might prioritize them.

#1       Keep all four feet on the floor.

#2       Run to me quickly when I say “come.”

#3       Chew on his own toys.

#4       Go potty outside!

#5       Sleep on his own bed.

Step 3:  Notice and reward behavior you like.

Generously dole out items your dog loves when you see him doing something you like. I keep small dishes of treats (air-tight during ant season) stashed around my house so I’m always ready to reward when I notice my dog doing something I really like. 

What does rewarding a behavior look like? 

  • Come running when I call you = let’s have a petting party! Good Boy!
  • Pick up your own toy = good boy, let’s play a game of tug or fetch.
  • Sit = I open the door so you can go outside.
  • Sit = I will put your food dish down.
  • Keep all four on the floor = doggy cookies!

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






Teaching Star to walk nicely

Shirley just adopted Star. Having had dogs all her life, she’d never known that simple walks could be a challenge. A 2-year-old Lab-mix around 40 lbs, Star is surprisingly strong, and Shirley is petite, and approaching her 76th birthday.   

Overall it was a great match. Star is loving, and almost intuitively careful not to get in Shirley’s path. The bond was quick and strong, and Star is generally calm . . . until Shirley puts on her leash. Then, Star pulls her out the door with Shirley trailing horizontally, she jokes, as Star moves in HER chosen direction and pace.

Shirley calling, “No, stop!” hasn’t worked; in fact, it seems Star interprets this to mean, “Let’s go!” Of course pulling back on a leash nearly always guarantees a dog Star’s size or larger will pull harder the other way, in an involuntary response called the opposition reflex. 

Shirley finally enlisted help from a dog trainer who told her she’d allowed Star to be the pack leader, in charge, and to get a choke collar. She did. If she pulled hard enough, Star would yelp, but otherwise, there was no change in behavior.

Thankfully, Shirley discovered “Decoding Your Dog,” which includes an explanation by top experts that a dog’s pulling has nothing to do with dominance, and everything to do with the dog’s lack of being taught how to walk.

To teach Star to follow her, I suggested Shirley buy treats (many varieties are available), and keep them in a small pouch or pocket. She needed high-value treats (the big guns), so, confirming Star had no food allergies, I suggested small pieces of low-salt hot dogs or turkey dogs, or small pieces of Vita Bone.

Next, I asked Shirley, as she gets the leash out, to have Star “sit,” and once her leash is on, to immediately present a morsel at her side, so Star doesn’t pull her outside.  Next I asked her to give small pieces to lead Star just to the place she goes potty.

Once Star has done her business, I asked Shirley to continue treating her to hold her attention.

Every few steps, holding the enticing goodie at her side, I asked Shirley to unpredictably change direction. Take five steps forward, then go left six steps, then to the right for 10, then then back up four — all the while holding treats at her side, giving them every few steps.

Keeping your pup guessing is a surefire way to teach her to follow your lead. Praise her when she catches on.  She won’t be pulling or chasing smells when her attention is fully on you.

At some point offer the yummy in response to eye contact, adding the cue “Watch me.” This further reinforces her job to pay attention to you.

Early in the walking exercise, provide a break after about a city block. Allow your dog time for that other cherished treat — sniffing her surroundings.

Over time, gradually increase the amount of time you expect your star to walk while paying attention to you. In the same way, begin to replace the treats with her daily kibble. Never stop praising when she gets things right, and keep a surprise treat onboard for walks. Everyone’s more compliant when they think there might be a special treat in the offing!

Finally, equipment matters. I’m not a fan of choke collars – which for sure it wasn’t helping and in fact was mildly hurting Star. Far better is a head halter like a Gentle Leader, or body harness, such as an Easy Walk harness. Each is better than a choke collar, and also gets better results.

Following this advice, Shirley became every bit the star her dog is.  It took a few months, but problem solved. 

Steve Dale, CABC (certified animal behavior consultant), reaches more pet owners than any other pet journalist in America as a newspaper columnist, radio host, blogger, television expert and author of "Good Dog." He is also an avid animal advocate and expert in positive training.

Is That Dog Going to Bite?

National Dog Bite Prevention Week happened recently, and it’s a subject worth keeping front and center. Deborah Wood and Jen Keene shared the following award-winning article for Spot readers, covering the subject thoroughly, and showing how we can all help reduce dog bites in our community. —The editor 

At the Bonnie Hays Small Animal Shelter, we have the responsibility of investigating  every dog bite in Washington County — about 350 dog bites a year. All of these bites involve a dog that has broken the skin — from fairly small bites to serious attacks. The overwhelming reaction  from the dog owners is almost complete surprise that their dog bit a human. Consider some facts and tips:

Many dog bites happen because dogs are frightened, stressed or anxious, and find themselves in situations where they don’t feel like they have another option. It is important to remember that any animal with teeth can — and will — bite under some circumstances. It is much better to prevent a bite rather than deal with the aftermath. Contrary to the surprise and disbelief that many people express, most bites did have warning signs and could have been prevented.

Often, people minimize a pet’s past behavior and don’t realize that it can be a predictor of later, more serious problems. For example, a snap or a bite without damage should definitely be a wakeup call to pay attention to what dogs are telling us.

Knowledgeable animal lovers can be a powerful force in preventing bites — which also means preventing dogs from feeling so terrible that they feel they have to bite in the first place. Don’t be afraid to speak up and take action if you see a problem. There are two important things to watch for to prevent dog bites: body language signals and “stacking triggers.”

Body Language

Dogs use body language to communicate — both consciously, like lowering themselves submissively to signal that they are not a threat, and unconsciously, like showing the whites of their eyes because they are recoiling from something scary but are afraid to take their eyes off of it. By learning to recognize a few common signs that a dog may feel the pressure is on, savvy people can stop bites before they happen.

Cowering — Hunched or lowered body posture.

Brows Furrowed — Just like people, dogs wrinkle their brow when concerned.

Panting – Stress panting happens even when a dog is not hot. It is usually fast and accompanied by thin drops of drool.

Yawning — Dogs will yawn when stressed, even when they’re not sleepy.

Licking lips/nose — A dog flicking his tongue to lick his own snout, especially if there no food around, is likely showing stress, not hunger.

Change in movement — Walking in slow motion, pacing, moving away. It may seem obvious, but if a dog is moving away from a person or situation, it may be because it is stressing him out. Pacing and walking very slowly can also be signs that a dog is not 100% okay.

Stacking Triggers

Be aware that multiple triggers — things a dog finds stressful — can “stack” to make a bite much more likely. Here are some common situations in which dogs may be more stressed than normal:

• Crowded public events

• During fireworks or thunderstorms

• When children are present

• Being away from his owner

• When sick or injured

• When someone is near the dog’s bed, food bowl, bone or toy

• People trying to hug or kiss him


Once you know what to look for, take preventive steps and be prepared to take action when needed. If your dog is stressed when strangers are at your house, try putting her in another room before people arrive. Your dog will likely be much more comfortable, and you have removed the risk of a bite. Before petting – or letting your children pet – someone else’s dog, ask permission. Remember, the owner may not actually be a good judge of the dog’s comfort level. Observe the dog’s body language and surroundings and make an educated decision about whether or not the dog actually wants to be petted by a stranger.

These simple steps will help keep people and pets safer in our community. Share it with friends, families and neighbors and help reduce dog bites in our community!

Jen Keene CPDT-KA is the Animal Behavior and Outreach Coordinator for the Bonnie Hays Shelter, and Deborah Wood is the Manager of Animal Services. A version of this article earned a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America for the best article in a canine newsletter. 





Every Dog Can Be A Good Dog

You’ve tried everything to change your dog’s “bad behavior,” such as pulling on the leash or jumping up on houseguests. Nothing seems to work and you may have concluded the dog doesn’t respect you…or perhaps just doesn’t get it.

While interrupting bad behavior can effectively stop an event in action, it doesn’t teach your dog an alternative, preferred behavior for next time.

For example, if you bump your knee into your Lab’s chest when he joyfully jumps on guests entering your home, the dog might learn not to jump. After all, a knee in the chest doesn’t feel good. But — this action gives no information on how your dog should act. If my wife kneed my chest every time I arrived home and kissed her, I would naturally ask, “Well, what do you want me to do?”

Since dogs can’t communicate like that, desired actions must be conveyed another way.

Positive Reinforcement Works

Positive reinforcement training shows dogs what they should do instead of what they shouldn’t (like jumping on visitors). They can be encouraged to run to another room to snatch a toy when guests arrive, or perhaps sit instead of jump when they want attention.

Continually using an action like kneeing a dog can erode the human-animal bond – a common outcome of punishment. That’s because the dog, happy to see people, is confused. At best, she won’t greet people with such enthusiasm. At worst, she may respond aggressively. And who can blame her?

With positive reinforcement, dogs modify behavior, and catch on quickly.

The moment your pup succeeds at a desired task or behavior, offer a special, tasty treat you use only for this purpose. The treat should not only excite your pup, but also be fairly easy for you to deliver and for the puppy to eat. The key is instant gratification. A great treat I recommend is Vita Bone Chewy Sticks. They’re soft, aromatic and tasty, and are easily broken into bite-sized bits ideal for training.

Remember, as you offer the treat, provide repeated praise in an upbeat, happy voice. Immediately afterward, it’s a great idea to play with your pup for a time, as this provides additional positive reinforcement.

Finding a Trainer

Not everyone has the time or inclination to train or re-train a dog. The good news is, there is plenty of qualified help. I strongly support any pet parent who seeks help in properly training their dog, whether just for basic tips or to modify undesirable behavior(s).

An online search of your area will provide numerous options in training, as well as reviews by people who have used the trainers and companies listed. The following resources are also great for helping choose a qualified trainer who really fits your and your dog’s needs. Each site has a ‘Finder’ for trainers in your area.

  1. Victoria Stillwell:
  2. Karen Pryor:
  3. International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants:    

When you’re ready to begin, if you’ll be participating in a group session, I recommend auditing the class first. If you see wagging tails and smiling faces, they’re probably using positive reinforcement. Dogs learn best this way, and the learning isfun — for both of you.

Steve Dale, CABC (certified animal behavior consultant), reaches more pet owners than any other pet journalist in America as a newspaper columnist, radio host, blogger, television expert and author of "Good Dog." He is also an avid animal advocate and expert in positive training.

2015 NW Pet Fair - Time for THE Spring Fling!

It's the place to be Apr. 18-19 at the Portland Expo Center, for the latest in pet gear and services, with vendors, entertainment, goodies, demonstrations, workshops and more. It's free, and pets are welcome!

Come out and play!

The 2015 NW Pet Fair presented by CVRC is THE spring fling for Northwest pet lovers, and this year the event is all new. Guests will enjoy exciting new attractions and perennial favorites, including a Wine Tasting Area, a Kids Demo Area, a Drive Away Hunger Food Drive, and a fashion show featuring popular local celebrities.

The 2nd largest annual pet event in Portland, the NW Pet Fair is also the largest annual pet adoption event in the Northwest.  Every year, pet lovers of all ages flock to the Expo Center for a day of fun, learning, samples, treats, demos, entertainment and more — often accompanied by every shape and size of dog . . . on leash, in strollers, and in chest packs . . . not to mention the occasional cat, ferret, and even a diapered duck!

This year’s fashion show (1-2pm both days) features local celebrities including Rojo the Therapy Llama (and a few of his Alpaca friends) and Rod Hill of KGW, plus adoptable and owned dogs, and a fashionista pig who is just squealing with delight over her runway debut.

Great new sponsors have joined the fun, including Good Neighbor Vet, who will provide Nail Trims for $1 to benefit West Columbia Gorge Humane. As official Swag Bag Sponsor, GNV has created a fabulous tote, which will be filled with great swag and given to the first 500 arrivals each day.

One all-encompassing, very Northwest element of the NW Pet Fair is that the formerly for-profit event, now headed up by the nonprofit West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, supports animal welfare more than ever. 

Come out and play!  The NW Pet Fair is Apr. 18 and 19 at the Expo Center, where you’ll meet countless local pet businesses and nonprofits, enjoy great entertainment, and learn from top pros in the pet biz.  If the attractions weren’t enough, just strolling the vibrant, fun-filled aisles with other guests is its own kind of wonderland: be prepared to see pets of every size, shape, color and personality, and most of all, get ready to be charmed.

And if you’ve been considering a new addition to your family pack? This is the perfect way to meet precious adoptable animals ready for forever homes, as well as great folks in local rescue, who can help you find a perfectly match lifelong best friend.

When you go

Help Drive Away Hunger!  The homeless pet population explodes this time of year due to puppy and kitten season, straining food supplies. Please take a bag or can of quality pet food for the Wentworth Subaru DRIVE AWAY HUNGER Pet Food Drive, and help fill the Subaru in the lobby. We want this car on the road, Driving Away Hunger! 

Get to the Pet Fair for samples, displays, resources, demos and more! 

These fine companies are eager to meet you and your best friends!


Wentworth SubaruCity 


Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Oregon

Cat Fanciers Association NW Region 

Food / Treats

Blue Buffalo

Galaxy Treats

Mountain Man Nut and Fruit Company

Portland Pet Food Company

Whole Pet NW 

Gear / Toys

Collar ID

Skirtin’ Around by Lori

Willow Tree Woodworks (cat trees) 


Pretty Paws and Claws Grooming 

Household/2-Legged Stuff


Bath Fitter

Eco Home Systems

Essential Insights

Green Mountain Energy

Renewal by Andersen

Soft Tubs


Illustration / Engraving / Framing

Beard’s Framing

Wet Nose Watercolors


Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP)

Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon

PAVE (Paws Assisting Veterans)

Shakey Paw Pet Foundation

Snow Leopard Trust 

Pet Services

Dignified Pet Services 


Sit! Stay Pet Photography 

Rescues / Shelters

Best Friends Animal Society

Cat Adoption Team

Deaf Dogs of Oregon

Exotic Bird Rescue of Oregon

Humane Society for SW Washington

International Reptile Rescue

Life 4 Paws

Lovers Not Fighters Pit Bull Rescue

Oregon Dog Rescue

OFOSA (Oregon Friends ofShelter Animals)

Oregon Humane Society

Pacific Pug Rescue

Portland Pit Bull Project

Tender Care Animal Rescue

West Columbia Gorge Humane Society


Red Cross

Spot Magazine 


Mud Bay


Pet Pros 

Trainers / Doggie Camps

Perkins Animal Behaviorial Consulting 


CVRC – Cascade Veterinary Referral Center

DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital

Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin

Frontier Veterinary Hospital

Good Neighbor Vet

Heartfelt Veterinary Hospital

VCA NW Veterinary Specialists 


Danco Sales

Hawaiian Moon

Hounds Quarry

Mountain Men

Nature’s Select Portland

Skirtin’ Around by Lori         

SV Distribution      

2015 NW Pet Fair

Brought to you by these fine companies

CVRC • Presenting Sponsor

Bi-Mart • Gold Sponsor

Mud Bay • Gold Sponsor

Vita Bone • Gold Sponsor

Frontier Veterinary HospitalSilver Sponsor

Beard’s Framing

Pet Art Gallery Sponsor

Wentworth SubaruCity Drive Away Hunger Pet Food Drive Sponsor

Good Neighbor Vet Swag Bag Sponsor

Spot Magazine Show Program Sponsor

Oregon Humane Society On-site Care Sponsor

View a flipbook version of the Show Guide below!

Volunteer therapy teams honored

Pet Partners national human-animal therapy organization will celebrate its 11,000 volunteer therapy animal teams with Treats & Sweets Day, a national fundraiser that coincides with the first annual National Therapy Animal Day, May 18.  Across the nation, bakers will whip up treats for people and pets to raise funds for their therapy programs. 

Therapy teams are becoming increasingly popular with hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, veterans and others.  In Portland, Jo Rockower saw therapy dog potential in her adopted Goldendoodle, Max.  She registered with Pet Partners in 2008, and volunteered at various facilities before settling in at The Dougy Center, where Jo and Max participate in a peer support groups for children grieving the death of a sibling, and families experiencing the advancing illness of a family member.  Jo has witnessed firsthand the healing power of Max’s presence and unconditional love.

To become a baker for the Pet Partners fundraiser, visit  To learn how to become a volunteer animal therapy team, go to

For the Love of Callie

Beloved therapy dog lives on through fund she inspired

While people have become increasingly aware of the depth of the human/animal bond, now and then comes a story that surprises.  Like Callie’s — a Golden Retriever whose imprint remains alive and well long after she has passed on.

Callie bonded to humans right away, and was so loving toward them that she earned the role of therapy dog, visiting patients in homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes in Albany, Oregon.

Callie’s owner Tracy Calhoun is a hospice nurse at Samaritan Evergreen House, a facility which cares for people nearing the end of their lives. “Callie was a frequent visitor to hospice patients and their families in their places of residence,” she says.  

Sadly, Callie died of cancer in 2011 at age 6½, before the inpatient Hospice House was built. However, her life and work with patients lives on through a foundation she inspired, called “Callie’s Fund.”

“Many of Callie’s favorite families encouraged the establishment of a fund in her memory,” says Calhoun. “It has been used to help hospice patients' pets in various ways — like assisting with veterinary fees, purchasing supplies and food, paying adoption fees to local no-kill shelters for families who could not care for the patient's pet after the death, and assistance with adoption alternatives.”

Callie's Fund also offers financial support for the needs such as boarding costs of other therapy dogs, as well as food and treats for visiting pets, and the care of Syd —an outdoor therapy cat who adopted the hospice staff about 18 months ago. 

Prior to having Callie, Calhoun was involved with therapy dogs for many years, and helped develop a dog therapy program at another hospice facility in Washington State in the mid ’90s. She says there was much resistance to the idea at that time.

Thankfully, times have changed. While the work Callie did was with in-home patients, the hospice now has an inpatient facility with 12 beds, and an outpatient team serving 90 to 100 people in their homes.

When Callie was working, she would sometimes hold bedside vigils for dying patients, though Calhoun says they couldn’t always spend extended time with one person.

Nowadays, JJ — another Golden like Callie — is the primary therapy dog at Hospice House. “She has been with me since birth, and Callie was actually her nanny,” says Calhoun. “JJ works 12-hour shifts with me and has quite the Facebook following.”

Just like Callie, JJ does a lot for dying patients and their families. “She works off-leash here, so she often does rounds on her own,” says Calhoun. “I have had many families and staff tell me she visits rooms more often when someone is dying, and she will nudge a patient's hand if they are making a noise.”

Calhoun has also observed the calming effect JJ has on agitated patients. "When patients are actively dying, JJ often wants to be right on the bed. They settle nicely when she is with them, waiting for medication to take effect. Her ability to be a comfort — silly distraction or quiet calm presence — has been very helpful, and she often gets thank-yous and gifts.”

JJ also assists at regional crisis events and volunteers as a HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response K-9. She went to Oso, Washington twice after last year's landslide, and to the site of the shooting at Seattle Pacific University in June this year.

Calhoun and her co-workers at Hospice House are also actively building a therapy dog team that can visit patients regularly, since nurses there have long stretches off.

“JJ's sister just had puppies, and I will be keeping one of the females who will be JJ's understudy for therapy and hopefully crisis response work,” says Calhoun. “We also have a new young dog, Phoebe, who has been a certified therapy dog since she was 6 months old, and who often makes visits with her owner, our on-call nurse Jody Buktenica. Another dog, Marfa, owned by nurse Anne Arquette, visits patients in their homes." 

Calhoun says that the Samaritan Evergreen Hospice staff treats patients with animals very well. “They have frequently gone out of their way to assist and donate to our patients and families to provide for their pets, as well as re-homing animals whose owners have died,” she says. “Callie's Fund is an extension of the generosity shown by those hospice workers."  

Watch a video tribute to Callie on Vimeo: 

JJ’s Facebook page:  

To learn more about pet therapy services offered by Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House, call 541-812-4669. 

For more information  about how to support Callie’s Fund, contact the Albany General Hospital Foundation at 541-812-4663

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, two horses, a rabbit and a patient husband.