How to know when it’s time to see the Vet

Have you experienced that anxious moment when you know something is wrong with your pet and you have to decide what to do? Maybe your dog is vomiting? Or your cat has diarrhea? Or perhaps your pet is limping, has collapsed, or is crying out?

None of us want our pets to suffer, and when such things occur, one of the most stressful aspects can be knowing what to do.

Is it an Emergency?

First, it’s important to recognize the signs of a true emergency so you can seek immediate veterinary care, if needed. It’s important to know if your veterinarian treats emergency cases, and to have a list of nearby emergency veterinary clinics before you need one. Many clinics will discuss a situation by phone to help determine whether it may be an emergency, and some will even provide home care recommendations if your pet has been seen at there in the past year.  You can also increase the chances of your pet surviving an emergency by taking a pet CPR or first aid class.

Some situations that call for immediate veterinary care include when your pet:

●       has collapsed or is unresponsive

●       has ingested toxins or an object that could cause blockage

●       has severe bleeding

●       is choking or cannot breathe

●       has injured an eye

●       has severe vomiting or diarrhea or occurrences more than twice in 24 hours

●       has broken bones or a leg at a strange angle

●       is having seizures or other neurological symptoms

●       is a cat who is straining to urinate or not eating for over 24 hours

If symptoms don’t appear severe, it can be difficult to know when to go to the vet. In these cases, remember animals — especially cats — are masters at hiding illness. This is because showing signs of sickness in the wild makes them vulnerable to predators.

Check Vital Signs

A basic assessment of the following vitals is an important step in determining whether immediate vet care is needed. If any of the following vitals are abnormal, s/he should be seen right away.

●       Hydration Your pet’s gums are a good indicator of hydration. Dr. Heather Dillon of At Home Veterinary Services — a Spot Top Dog winning veterinary practice that treats pets in their homes — says, “A healthy animal should have moist, coral-pink gums. When you gently press on the gums the color should turn from white back to the normal pink color in about two seconds. If the gums look pale, blue, are tacky (dry), or if it takes a prolonged time for color to return after pressing on the tissue, then you should have your pet seen.” With a well-hydrated pet, the skin on the scruff of the neck should move easily back into place if you pull on it gently. Here too, if it takes more than two seconds to move back into place, your pet is likely dehydrated.

●       Temperature Gently insert a lubricated digital thermometer into your pet’s rectum, and follow the instructions on the thermometer to get a reading. The thermometer should be inserted around one to three inches, depending on the size of the animal, and should never be forced in. A normal temperature for a cat or dog generally ranges between 100 and 102.5 F.

●       Respiration Rate. To measure respiration, simply count your pet’s breaths for one minute. A respiration rate of a healthy, comfortable cat is usually 20 to 30 breaths per minute; a dog’s is a broader range of 15 to 30.

●       Heart Rate. For cats, heart rate is usually measured by resting the hand on the cat’s side, behind its left front leg. For dogs, the femoral artery on the inside of the back leg is usually easiest for measuring heart rate. The normal range for a pet’s heart rate is quite wide, and can vary depending on the stress level and size of the animal. A dog’s heart rate is usually between 100-150 beats per minute; a cat’s is generally 140-220. Both heart and respiration rates are best measured when your pet is relaxed, if possible.

Other Factors 

●       Age. When a very young or older pet shows signs of a medical concern, s/he should be seen by a vet.

●       The number of symptoms. If multiple symptoms are apparent, the situation is more serious. For example, a vomiting, lethargic dog is more likely to have a serious condition than one who is only vomiting.

●       Environmental exposure. Consider what your pet may have been exposed to. Is it possible that s/he ingested a bottle of pills or something toxic in the yard? Dogs will often eat clothing or toys, and cats often eat string or yarn; both necessitate an immediate veterinary visit. For a full list of substances that are toxic to pets, visit the ASPCA Poison Control website.

Common Concerns

Symptoms are not the disease, but rather clues you can use — in conjunction with diagnostics like an exam, lab work, radiographs, ultrasound, and sometimes even surgery — to determine the underlying condition.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Most pets occasionally vomit or get diarrhea. If either is occurring and is intense, or lasts longer than 24 hours, veterinary care is needed. When vomiting or diarrhea start, withhold food to give the stomach a rest. Dr. Dillon advises offering small amounts of water, but if your pet vomits the water, consult your vet.

If vomiting or diarrhea stops for 6-8 hours, offer your pet small amounts of bland food, like boiled chicken, turkey or rice. If your pet continues to do well, gradually transition back to a normal diet over several days. If vomiting and diarrhea resume after reintroducing food, it is time to see the vet. Chronic (repeatedly occurring) vomiting or diarrhea calls for a visit to the veterinarian.

Dr. Dillon warns that cats should not fast as long as dogs. “Any time food is withheld from a cat it should be done under the advice of a veterinarian because of the potential for hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome).” It is important not to give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian.

Possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea include: recent change in diet, dietary indiscretion (eating unusual or unnatural items), parasites, viruses, gastritis and gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or bloat.


Limping can be caused by a wide variety of conditions — some easily resolved, while others are more serious. According to Dr. Lillian Su at Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, most pets who limp are experiencing pain, and the most common causes of limping are musculoskeletal or neurological pain.

If your pet is able to put weight on the leg and is not experiencing other symptoms, the limping may be caused by a strain that could heal by applying a cold pack, and limiting his or her activity to short bathroom walks for several days.

With limping, a veterinary appointment is urgent if any of these is true:

●       there is a broken bone or wound

●       the pet cannot put weight on the leg

●       the leg is at a strange angle, is swollen, or has obvious instability

●       the limping appears to originate from the back instead of the leg

●       For cats, paralysis of one or both rear legs can indicate a dislodged blood clot. If your cat has limited use of ANY leg, the foot feels cold, or the cat is vocalizing loudly, it is a medical emergency.

Do not give your pet pain medication unless prescribed by your veterinarian. “While it is natural to want to give your pet something to help with their pain, many over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications are harmful to pets,” Dr. Su says.

Possible causes of limping include: broken or fractured bone, ligament injury, developmental orthopedic disease, stroke, arthritis, infection, or foreign body in the leg.


Although lethargy is a common symptom, it can be difficult to find its cause. Dr. Stephanie Scott of Pearl Animal Hospital explains, “Lethargy is a difficult symptom to interpret. It can run the gamut of something not concerning, like being tired from a busy, active day, to a very concerning symptom of a serious potentially life-threatening problem.” Because lethargy is such a general symptom, your veterinarian will likely want to supplement a physical exam with detailed lab work and radiographs. If a pet parent is worried, Scott advises that they have their pet seen by a veterinarian — especially if there are any other symptoms.

Possible causes of lethargy include: gastrointestinal upset, cardiac disease, infection, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, muscle or joint pain, bloat, cancer, urinary issues, or kennel cough.

In appetence/Anorexia

Like lethargy, loss of appetite is a common but vague symptom that can be caused by a variety of conditions. When accompanied by other symptoms, or the pet has a major systemic disease, it should be seen by a veterinarian. For instance, if your pet has diabetes, you should contact your vet if even one meal is skipped.

It is especially important for a cat who is not eating to see a vet within 24 hours, as s/he is vulnerable to hepatic lipidosis, or liver failure, a life-threatening disease. If your pet seems hungry but does not eat, you can try to make the food more enticing by heating it to room temperature or adding tasty, aromatic treats, such as water from canned tuna. According to Dr. Dillon, “Sometimes offering small amounts for food at a time can be a little less overwhelming.”

Possible causes of in appetence include: gastrointestinal upset, foreign body blockage, cancer, kidney or other organ disease, pain, pancreatitis, or thyroid disease.

When in Doubt

Only a veterinarian has the training and tools needed to fully diagnose and treat your pet. Dr. Scott encourages, “I am here to help your pet feel better. Your pet, my patient, can't speak, so I rely on you, the pet owner, to help me figure out what is going on. Lab work and/or radiographs [x-rays] can really help me determine what is or what is not going on.” There are many options for low-stress, patient-focused veterinary care — from clinics with separate entrances for cats and dogs to veterinarians who provide in-home care — and your veterinarian is there to help.  As Dr. Su says, “If you’re on the fence or at all uncertain, call your vet!”

Daniela Iancu, founder of Animal Community Talks, has worked and volunteered with veterinary practices and animal welfare organizations in the Portland area for the last decade. Her happy home includes a wonderfully supportive husband and sweet senior cat, Maya.

Salty’s welcomes new addition

Nancy Fedelem is at it again. The local businesswoman, animal advocate and friend of many opened South Paw Neighborhood Pet Supply on Portland’s South Waterfront in late January. Her flagship store, Salty’s Pet Supply, opened 12 years ago; sister store Fang & Feather is 4.

While South Paw opened “at the worst possible time” given this winter’s ice and snow, Nancy happily reports that, “We had customers before we even opened,” including some they see every day. Located in a mixed-use building with residents up top, Nancy and her staff are already busy doing something they do best: building community.

“It’s such a great area,” says Nancy, “and so different from our other locations. You can be out walking and take the footbridge, be on either the east or west side of the river, and there’s great parks and shops. It’s pretty exciting — the South Waterfront is the new happenin’ place!”

Store Manager Bonnie and Receiving Specialist Alex run the store, says Nancy, and they’re getting great reviews. “I get awesome feedback about them. They have incredible knowledge and are doing an excellent job.” So good, in fact, that the building manager said, “They’re so great, I wish I could steal them!” A pet parent with a puppy and an older dog herself, the manager told Nancy that Bonnie and Alex always help with her pet issues, offering great suggestions.

The community has been equally enthusiastic in embracing South Paw. Nancy and her team love it when the building management buys residents goodie bags to say thank you for being great neighbors. “They’ll pop in and say, ‘We need to do a bag for Janice' (a beloved 12-year-old Malinois) — it’s so fun,” Nancy smiles.

Nancy Fedelum (right) loves spending time with her human and animal customers

Nancy Fedelum (right) loves spending time with her human and animal customers

The success of the Salty’s family of stores is no surprise given Nancy’s dedication to community, excellent service, high-quality products, and having fun. Her community spirit was recognized in 2015 with the Small Business Spirit Award from the Small Business Administration, in part for “her business prowess and commitment to the business community, pets, and their owners.”

Nancy and her team’s love of fun shows up in many ways, including their pleasure in selling ‘body parts.’ “Knee caps, chicken feet, trachea, ears, and scapula,” Nancy laughs. “We love body parts — they’re fun to sell.”

In keeping with her tradition of supporting community events, South Paw is a sponsor of the Portland Farmers Market — where the shop will offer products, including the famed body parts.

Nancy also finds fun in having shops in three unique neighborhoods. “I was at South Paw with Parker (her 10-year-old pup and longtime mascot of all her stores) when three gentlemen from out of town came in.  We chatted, and as they readied to leave, one said: ‘You don’t know how much I needed that’ [petting Parker]. Then, days later I was at Salty’s, and those same three men came in. That’s what I love about having multiple stores — it’s really rewarding.” Nancy also really loves that “Parker, who’s often with me, brings so much joy to people.”

The Salty’s family of stores does that, too. See for yourself — with better weather on the horizon, a Grand Opening celebration is in the works, planned for late April. Get details and keep pace with all the fun on Facebook at SouthPawNeighborhoodPetSupply, and on the store’s website, coming soon:

Photos by Phido Photography

Kristin Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer McCammon. She lives in Portland with her pups, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.

Anesthesiologists - The OTHER surgical MVP

Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

Dr. Shafford cradles a patient with asthma, kidney and heart disease.  The kitty is recovering well from anesthesia.

It’s a loving pet parent’s “perfect storm” — being caught between a pet’s need for a medical procedure and his or her risk of complications with anesthesia.

“One thing that always surprises me is that people don’t know specialist-level anesthesia is an available option,” says Dr. Heidi Shafford, DVM, board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist. It’s Shafford’s business to provide anesthesia care for medically-fragile patients.

A veterinarian may consider a pet high-risk with anesthesia for various reasons, including age, breed sensitivities, liver, heart, or kidney disease, previous anesthesia reaction, or a littermate who died under anesthesia.

“It’s not necessarily that their pet can’t undergo anesthesia, and it isn’t necessarily that their vet is wrong, but that it isn’t within their vet’s comfort level,” Shafford explains. “I’m not contradicting what that vet is saying, but here’s an analogy for what I do. Some people have compared me to a river 'bar pilot' — like those who help captains cross the difficult Columbia River Bar between the river and the ocean. Instead I help medically fragile pets navigate anesthesia.”

Shafford’s expertise helps enable high-risk pets to have procedures that can increase quality of life. A toothache is no longer life-threatening.

Veterinary anesthesiologists are sticklers for detail, crafting special anesthesia plans for each pet. For example, older pets require lower drug doses, benefit from extra support and monitoring during and after anesthesia, and need to quickly resume eating. Pets with liver disease are safer with an anesthetic that doesn’t involve liver metabolism. For kidney patients, extra pre-anesthetic fluid support and special attention to preventing and treating low blood pressure can help support fragile kidneys during anesthesia.

“Most of my patients have heart disease, kidney disease or both!”  Whatever the challenge, Shafford faces each with specialized training and thorough preparation, along with a formidable team.

“I want owners to know that I take what I do — improving anesthesia safety for pets — very seriously.  I gather detailed information about each pet ahead of time, both the focused medical picture and overall background. I get a grasp of the main concerns from the primary vet, and also talk with owners about their pet’s energy level, appetite, any coughing, sneezing, and other various details.”

Dr. Shafford also explains the upcoming procedure to pet parents. “For example, with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there is a risk of low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, and my anesthetic plan would include steps to minimize stress and prevent low blood pressure. I would be monitoring from before the anesthesia begins and intensively throughout, to immediately pick up on any changes, if any, to support the patient early and well.”

According to Shafford, recovery is too often an overlooked danger zone.

“During a procedure, the pet is getting extra oxygen, is often being warmed, and someone is close at hand. They are often getting IV fluids. When many clinics finish anesthesia, there is a misperception that the anesthesia is 'finished,' that the pet is out of harms’ way, and people move on to something else.”

But, says Shafford, the majority of pets lost to anesthesia-related deaths actually pass away during recovery.

Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

Anesthesia was stopped early for this sweet dog by her primary care veterinarian because of complications related to heart disease.  She was referred to Dr. Shafford for specialist-level anesthesia care.  Here the pup looks happy after a successful anesthesia and dental procedure!

“In recovery I monitor closely,” she says. “They are recovering from medications, may be a little cold, and not fully in control of their systems. It’s that first one to three hours after surgery that's so critical.”

That extra assurance is one reason Shafford’s schedule is full of return clients.

“A big piece of what I do is assure you that your pet is looked after, that they are warm, that their heart is beating strong, and that they are comfortable and well.”

On site two to three days a week at the Animal Dental Clinic in Tigard, Shafford says, “The dental specialists and technicians are very skilled, fast and efficient, and it truly minimizes anesthesia time. We team up for patients that are the most at-risk. I know if I ask them for help during an anesthesia emergency, they are there for me. We’ve worked together through some very challenging cases.”

Also working alongside other veterinarians, the doctor says, “The majority of vets in the Portland Metro area are familiar with me, and there are times when I’m available to come to their location. Some procedures are best performed at certain clinics.”

Neutering a dog may be a routine surgery, but for a high-risk patient with serious heart disease, anesthetizing demands her skills. “And I’ll be doing that next week for a kitty cat. There’s just this wide range of things I do for so many pets — I anesthetized a cat for cataract surgery last week — never a dull moment! I absolutely love what I do.”

Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for einforcements!!

30th annual Doggie Dash is May 13th

The largest and oldest humane society in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Humane Society boasts a fantastic 97% save rate.  Established in 1868, the organization is admired and respected in the community, evidenced by another strong showing in the Top Dog Awards this year.

Rescuing, healing and adopting more than 11,600 pets annually is made possible by the hard work and compassion of 180 animal-loving full-time staff and over 2,000 volunteers. The organization also offers ongoing workshops on training, TTouch, pet massage, managing multi-pet households, managing behaviorally-challenged pets and more. Other OHS services include animal rescue, emergency response, treating abused animals, spay/neuter, and medical care.

Supported 100% by private donations and fundraisers, OHS’s Doggie Dash is perhaps the largest, most popular annual pet event in Portland.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 30th year on May 13th,” says Barbara Baugnon, OHS Vice President of Marketing and Communications. This is our largest fundraiser and biggest event — more than 8,000 people come out with over 3,000 dogs of all breeds and sizes. It really is a citywide celebration, and the largest dog walk on the west coast! Our goal this year is to raise $675,000.” In addition to the walk, Doggie Dash includes a large Vendor Village, contests, treats, and even human chair massages. “Because it’s our 30th anniversary this year, we are doing a throw-back to 1987 [the first year], with a neon color theme,” says Baugnon.

Among its many accolades, OHS — and specifically, Doggie Dash — have been Top Dog winners most years. “We are absolutely honored to win in so many Top Dog categories, as it means we are relevant and right on track. Oregonians have always loved, cared for, and respected their pets. I love that we have been here in the same spot for 148 years, and that there are pets buried here in our cemetery dating back to 1920. We have grown to a 46,000 square-foot animal shelter, and another 22,000 square-foot animal medical center, with three surgery suites, radiology, recovery rooms, and even a pharmacy.”

Details and to register 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.

Looking for your perfect match?

Considering adding a new pup to your family?  The best first step is exploring what will make the best match for your family's personality and way of life. That, alongside a canine's demeanor, can play a critical role in what breed will be a great fit, whether small or large, active or passive.

Once you know which breed(s) might best fit, you can then move on to assessing an individual dog’s or puppy’s disposition. Following are some of the more popular breeds and how their common traits work well with certain types of owners. Use this as a guide while seeking the perfect new furry companion for your family.


Need to have your hairy companion excitedly anticipate your arrival, eager for cuddling and tummy rubs? In this case you will probably like a pet that desires your love and affection.

Best Breed | Labrador Retriever

Labs love and cherish their owners. Known for sweet, warm natures, these pups will celebrate you home every time.


If you are active, of good humor, and enjoy being the life of the party, you may want a companion who’s in step with your social habits and who appreciates the company of your loved ones.

Best Breed | Norwich Terrier

An energetic, active pooch who’s eager to make friends, Norwich Terriers are ecstatic allies who love to buddy around and keep you laughing. Terriers are valiant, solid, cheeky, adoring and free-spirited. They make for fabulous family dogs, as they view their family as their "pack" and seek to be part of all goings on. This breed has get-up-and-go, and makes an incredible family pet; however, it is not recommended to raise with toddler-aged children. Easily trained and possessed with an even demeanor, these dogs are ideal for first-time owners, but owners who have plenty of time to share with their best friend.


If your exercise routine is a crucial part of your day, you'll want a pet that is similarly dynamic and vivacious.

Best Breed | German Shepherd or Jack Russell Terrier

German Shepherds are exceedingly wise canines that flourish with tons of exercise. Their ideal person loves long strolls or runs. In case you're searching for a smaller but similarly athletic pooch, consider the Jack Russell Terrier. JRTs are filled with vitality and excess energy, and need 30-45 minutes of exercise every day.


Continuously seeking to get your way? You'll see eye-to-eye with a stubborn and persistent canine who does not take 'no' for an answer (even from you).

Best Breed | English Bulldog

The common expression "stubborn as a bulldog" exists for a reason. In the event you are seeking a pooch to lounge around with and not a running mate, English Bulldogs are for you. What's more, in the event you do choose to go for a run, there’s a good chance this headstrong canine just will not move!


For jet-setters who would love a pet co-pilot along for their adventures, some of the mighty 'littles' are highly qualified for the job.

Best Breed | Pomeranian or Yorkshire Terrier

Size is frequently an issue for pet parents when it comes to travel, so it helps to pick a pooch that doesn’t require much space on the road or in the air. Pomeranian and Yorkshire Terriers are extraordinary for travelers, thanks to being ‘totes’ totable, very social, and require little exercise. You'll love touring for an entire day without feeling like you're ignoring Sparky.


Super busy but longing for a pet? Your match is a pooch that deals very well with your comings and goings. 

Best Breed | Pug

For dog owners constantly on the go, it's imperative to pick a breed that doesn't require huge amounts of daily exercise or grooming. Pugs are ideal, as they require very little exercise and minimal grooming.


If your idea of a perfect evening is lounging with a book and your cherished companion, your match is calm, laid-back, and quiet.

Best Breed | Basset Hound or Bullmastiff

Basset Hounds are smooth, calm dogs that will cheerfully lounge around with you. But don’t let them laze all the time — like everyone, they need the occasional exercise, as they're prone to weight gain. Bullmastiffs are enormous, yet they make shockingly great apartment or condo pooches: they are calm and require little exercise.

With so many breeds possessing such varied, distinctive qualities, finding a great match is really quite simple.  Just a matter of giving it some thought, and then taking a look at what’s out there. A great source for that is  You can specify the traits you seek, then plug in the geographic range you’re willing to travel, be it your own neighborhood or across the country. Petfinder will then show you the pets meeting your description, where they are and who to contact to meet them.

Happy Matchmaking!

Travel junkie Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA. Her love of dogs and art history background informs her topics. A favorite pastime is being with her Pomeranian, Agatha.

Out of Nowhere

It was never meant to be about a stray dog.  It was tobe a long weekend, all about a prestigious Arabian horse show.

And I NEVER set out to camp!  In fact, when my friend Cheryll told me that was the plan, I remember saying something like, “Oh, no no no no no…. There are perfectly good hotels nearby… with amenities.”

But there I was, helping her unpack stuff — including a little dome tent — onto the only patch of ground under a shade tree adjacent to the gate into fairground parking near the horse show grounds.

As we threaded flexible ribs into the tent so it could spring to life, ‘million-dollar’ motor homes pulled in around us. One exquisite model was just parking when the tent was finally ready to load with supplies . . . when a wind gust sent it skittering — in full view of the whole ritzy lineup — us in hot pursuit. It would haunt us later.

We hauled the wayward tent back and quickly filled it with coolers, sleeping bags, and whatever we had to weigh it down. We then struck out to watch high-powered trainers working horses in the arena, one of them my futurity colt. 

We had just settled in the grandstands when we heard a stuffy little giggle from the left.

“Ohhhh… ha ha ha — you’re the ladies with the little snow tent!!!”

No escaping the scrutiny from a tall motor home.

After seeing a trainer get dumped, we felt better about our station and returned to our home away from home — only to find a chain gang.

Yes, a chain gang.

They were working on the other side of the chain-link fence bordering the parking lot. No gate. A particularly vile-looking fellow threw us a nasty smile and said, “SO, are you ladies camping ALONE?”

Cheryll quickly replied that our husbands would be arriving any time (lying). He smiled and nodded as if he could tell.

I mentally retraced my steps back to the last hotel we’d passed coming in.

Then I heard panting — the good kind — big black Lab, lolling tongue, congenial tail-wagging-type panting. He trotted up to us as if on assignment, and we greeted him like an old friend. The gentle boy didn’t have any tags — just an old weathered collar.

We brought “Buddy” into the tent, where he lounged happily, sharing snacks and a nap.

Readying to head out for evening classes, we talked about how nice it would be to have Buddy be there when we got back. A horse lead became a makeshift tether to the small shade tree. A security guard ambled by and we asked about the earlier chain gang, and also if the dog looked familiar. He said he’d ask around to see if anyone was missing the amiable black dog.

Over the weekend the show unfolded, the “snow tent” was openly mocked, and thanks to Buddy nobody bothered our tent, whether we were there or not. We'd gone to town for dog food and chews and whatever he might need, and he seemed to be in his glory. The security guard kept stopping by to check in, always giving Buddy a good ear scratch.

Truth be told, there weren’t a lot of “unspecified breed” dogs at the show. I can’t recall if that was the year of Rotties, or Salukis, or the year of Chow Chow puppies (like baby bear cubs) in most of the trainers’ greeting areas. At any rate, it seemed somehow fitting that our “snow tent” was squired by a bona fide mutt.

Suddenly the weekend was over, the big motor homes pulling out, leaving us with a decision — because nobody appeared to be missing this sweet, gentle dog.

The answer was already in the works. Stopping by on his way off shift, the security guard asked what we planned to do with the kindly mutt. He said he wouldn’t mind taking him home one bit.

So we thanked Buddy for taking care of us along his way “home.”

You’ve got to love rescue, especially when it writes its own happy ending.

Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for einforcements!!

Pranic Healing

Options in wellness continue to grow

Complementary medical processes such as acupuncture and chiropractic care have expanded dramatically in recent years, helping pets with mobility, comfort and healing. Another recent option — energy or “pranic” healing — is a modality pet parents can do themselves to support their pet’s health and wellness.

Some are skeptical. When she first learned of Pranic Healing, Liza Burney was a practicing attorney with a left-brain, scientific perspective.  “I was not interested in airy-fairy stuff,” she says. “But I was dealing with a medical condition that mainstream medicine wasn’t resolving, so I began to explore alternatives.”

Burney says her exploration was systematic and methodical and included studying underlying research.  “Fortunately for me, Pranic Healing approaches healing the same way an engineer would, including years of testing. I learned a new paradigm of healing using the energy flowing from the hands to balance, harmonize, and transform the body’s energy fields, which supports and accelerates physical healing for people and pets.”

“I explored the process, and realized that in addition to the physical body, there is an entire system of energetic anatomy which, with a little training, can be sensed with the hands, evaluated and restored to a balanced state. When we understand that the condition of our physical body is directly related to the health of our energy fields, our entire approach to healing changes.   The first time I felt my dog’s energy field, it was like nothing else I’d experienced — and things have never been the same.”

The Principle

Pranic Healing is based on the principle that the body possesses the innate ability to heal itself and that healing can be accelerated by increasing vital energy (prana) to the affected part — this is fuel the body uses for healing.  With more fuel, the body heals more quickly, sometimes with surprising outcomes.

Burney shares this from a student:  “My dog, who is prone to skin conditions, developed a hot spot on the back of his leg. I tried what we learned in class and, after cleaning and applying topical spray to the site, applied Pranic Healing. I couldn’t find the injury the following morning! I finally found it — the spot was marked by a little patch of matted fur — the redness was gone.” 

Pranic Healing can help when traditional treatment options are uncertain.  “Western medicine sometimes has limitations treating certain conditions,” says Burney, “like ‘mystery’ digestive disorders.” For example, she cites a cat which chronic vomiting that the vet thought was some incurable disease.  After one Pranic Healing session, the next day that cat looked alert and began to eat without vomiting.  The owner couldn’t believe how quickly the cat responded, especially because the effect was long-lasting.

Emotional Conditions

Dogs have rich emotional lives, says Burney. Shelter dogs often struggle with fear and anxiety; others may be affected by the trauma of a divorce, or grief over the loss of a companion.  “Our emotional state is directly linked to the balance of our energy fields,” she says. “Which is good news, because we can use energetic tools to rebalance and strengthen the emotional body, which helps heal the symptoms.”

Pranic Healing can be learned by anyone — the basics in two hours. Intensive weekend workshops run 16 hours. Learn more at


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.


Spotlight on...The Dachshund

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Size:  Small

Grooming needs:  Varies depending on coat type

Exercise:  Requires regular walks & play

Environment:  Indoors with outdoor adventures

Temperament:  Lively, independent

Life Expectancy:  14-17 years

Interesting fact:  Long-bodied, short-legged dogs were depicted in murals in ancient Egyptian tombs, and fossils of dogs resembling Dachshunds have been excavated from the remains of ancient Roman residential sites in Germany.  These murals suggest the existence of Dachshund-like canines in ancient times.*

Appearance:  The Dachshund is a long, low-bodied dog created to crawl into a burrow to hunt badgers.  The name comes from the German word “Dachs,” meaning badger, and “Hund,” meaning dog. Their appearance has earned them the nickname “Weiner Dog.” 

Dachshunds comes in three sizes: miniature, “tweenie,” and standard.  The breed standard for miniature is:  1-11 lbs, 5-6” tall.  Standards run 11-32 lbs, 8-11” tall. Unofficially, “tweenie” varieties — between mini and standard in size are typically 11-16 lbs. As a pet, tweenies appeal to those who want a Doxie that’s not too heavy, and not too fragile. Coat length and type varies, and Dachshunds can be either smooth (short) coated, long- or wire-haired.  Some have bent forelegs like Basset Hounds, and their feet are typically large for their frames. They have a long muzzle and almond shaped eyes. 

Personality:  The Dachshund is among the most popular family pets.  The breed has a cheerful nature, yet is also known to often form a strong bond with one person and act aloof towards others.  This breed has a reputation for being stubborn and mischievous, and can be a challenge to train.  However, with a dedicated guardian they are wonderful companions with excellent temperaments.  Likely due to breeding practices, many breed aficionados note differences in personality between the long-, short- and wirehaired varieties. The suggestion is that smooth and long-haired dogs tend to be quieter and more sensitive than their wire-haired counterparts.

Common Health Problems:  Dachshunds need to be fed correctly to prevent them from becoming obese.  They are prone to intervertebral disk disease (and injury) and vision issues. 

Best Match:  A patient, possibly experienced dog owner is a good fit for a Dachshund. They can be chow hounds (read: beggars) and need someone who gives them plenty of attention.

Depending on the coat, grooming needs vary: for wire-haireds, the coat should be plucked twice weekly; long-haired Doxies should be brushed or combed daily. 

Featured Adoptable:  “Hi, I’m Rocky! I was found as a stray, wandering the streets alone, with no place to rest my head or family to call my own.  I’ll happily share with other dogs, cats, or respectful children age 5+.  And after a day of adventure and a little sparring, I won’t mind bedding down in my crate for a little R&R.  Just like the other Rocky, I’m kindhearted, loyal, and want to knock out loneliness with happiness in a forever family of my own!”

Rocky is 11 months old, 12 lbs, and in care of Family Dogs New Life Shelter, 903-771-5596 or

Megan Mahan lives in Eugene with her boyfriend Jacob, their adopted Lab Maddie, many saltwater fish and two miniature Silver Appleyard Ducks, Louie and Olive.