Paradise found — year round

Considering a Sunriver vacay? Bennington Properties tops the list for a getaway that promises lifelong memories. In the shadow of Mt. Bachelor, near 4 major rivers and streams, 30 lakes, and 5 snowcapped mountains, the destination is beautiful, and best of all, the Benningtons don’t just welcome dogs, they love them.

Proprietor Robert Bennington’s dog’s name is Ohana, meaning ‘family’ in Hawaiian, and family is exactly how guests — including the pups — are treated.

“Ohana, our Golden Retriever, comes to work with me every day,” says Robert with a smile. “And my employees are welcome to bring their dogs to work every day.”

“Here, you’re family,” affirms Robert. “We help you plan and book your trip as if it was our very own. No detail is too small and nothing goes overlooked. Your vacation begins to take shape the moment we answer the phone. Our staff take the time to get to know you, to find out what you want from the trip, and to recommend the perfect house or condo for your experience.”

Indeed, staff help with everything from pre-arrival grocery shopping to dining and activity recommendations — which might include horseback riding, golf tee times, or the perfect trail for your pack.

Each of the 174 unique Bennington Properties is carefully screened. From hot tubs and complimentary bicycles in all units to free movie rentals, popcorn, and high-speed internet, details matter. 109 of the properties — over 60% — welcome dogs.

The properties feature an off-leash play area and complimentary on-site dog wash, perfect for cleanup after a fun-filled day. Whether it’s romance for two or a reunion for 16, the accommodations, surrounds, and staff care cover every fantastic detail.

Mention Fido at reservation time and your pup (of any size or breed) will receive the royal Bennington treatment — including special doggy goodies waiting at your vacation home. Even puppies under one year are welcome (with a security deposit just in case). Mention the kids and receive the Kipa Ranger Guide, which is packed with fun activities.

Dog-loving activities are held year-round, and even tiny dogs can go, thanks to bike trailer rentals from Sunriver’s Village Bike and Ski. The locale boasts 30+ miles of paved pathways, some along the Deschutes River, and lots of fun off-leash areas.

Summer offerings also include Yappy Hour events, with complimentary beer, wine, soda, snacks and ice cream, and a fun-packed off-leash area for Fido. Find more summer fun online.

In winter, families love the dog-friendly groomed ski/snowshoe trail (Oregon’s first), just 15 minutes away at Wanoga Sno Park, elevation 5,500’. Sunriver Brewing Company’s K9 Keg Pull is a perennial crowd-pleaser.

Asked what makes him laugh out loud, Robert replied, “I would have to say, the wiggly butt of a dog. They kind of arch their back into a crescent moon shape, and their butt’s just wiggling, they’re so happy.”

Spoken like a true dog lover.

For more details about Bennington Properties’ beautiful rentals, too many fun activities to list, what to take on vacation and more, visit


Fido-Friendly Summer Travel

For Dr. Jason Nicholas and his family, a short jaunt out of Portland usually means a stay at the Oregon coast or hiking and snowshoeing in the Columbia River Gorge. For a shorter day trip, the family of four might spend an afternoon on the Sandy River Delta. Whatever the destination, Wendy, the family’s 11-year-old Spaniel/Border Collie mix, is almost always along for the ride.

Traveling with our pets is good for us and for them. We make memories and strengthen our considerable bond. “There are cats that enjoy getting out on a harness and going for hikes, but mostly we’re talking about dogs when we’re traveling with pets,” says Nicholas, adding that, as a hiking or camping partner, a dog offers security as well as companionship. 

But whether canine or feline, furry travel buddies make us better at getting out and exploring, even if only because we stop the car for their bathroom and exercise breaks. Just doing that, we’ll explore things we might have driven past and talk with people we might never have met.

As a family man, Nicholas loves the freedom of loading the kids and the dog in the car and heading out for adventure. But as a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the educational website Preventive Vet, he’s alert to the danger of heading out unprepared. 

Tips for Traveling Well from Dr. Nicholas

1.     Keep current on vaccines and parasite prevention.  Lyme disease is less common in our region than elsewhere in the US, but cases here have steadily risen in recent years and annual cases tend to peak in August. While ticks that might carry Lyme disease are more plentiful in the mountainous and eastern reaches of our region, “we’ve even had some Lyme disease over here in the western side of the state,” Nicholas says, “And fleas are a concern 365 days a year in Oregon; we don’t have a flea-free season here.” 

Talk to your vet about your dog’s lifestyle and travel schedule. Regular flea and tick prevention might be enough, but for intrepid wilderness explorers, a Lyme vaccine might be in order. 

2.     Buckle up!  An excited, wiggly dog is a hazard in a moving car and a projectile during even a low-speed crash. The results can be devastating. “Virtually any harness will help prevent an accident,” but not all will stand up to an actual crash. Nicholas prefers padded, crash-tested models like those from Sleepypod, but depending on your pet’s size and travel attitude, she may do better in a carrier that’s carefully secured. In any case, never let a pet ride in your lap. If an air bag deploys, pets on drivers’ or passengers’ laps get crushed in the impact.

3.     Keep ID tags current.  “Ideally, they’ll also have a microchip,” says Nicholas. Also keep a current photo saved on your phone in case your pet gets lost. 

4.     Scope out your surroundings on arrival.  “Say you check into a vacation home in the mountains and there are rodents out there,” says Nicholas. “Do a quick check of your hotel or rental house for possible hazards: rodent poisons, chemicals, balconies, maybe an open gate. And while you’re doing that, find out where the nearest veterinary clinic is in case you have an urgent and unexpected need.”

5.     Remember hot cars are deadly.  “No discussion of pet travel is complete without a warning about the risk of heat stroke,” Nicholas warns. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside your car will quickly climb into the danger zone. And when heat isn’t a concern, unrestrained pets left alone in parked cars can chew or choke on whatever they find in the car. 

Where do you and your furkids like to travel? Here’s how dog parents answered that question in a recent informal Facebook poll.

“Almost anywhere on the Oregon Coast.” We all know there’s something magical about dogs and beaches. Favorite lodgings include Lincoln City’s Looking Glass Inn, “very dog-centric property right on the Siletz Bay.”  —    Michele from Portland

“The Fireside Inn, The Whaler in Newport, Neskowin’s Proposal Rock Inn, and The Surfside at Rockaway Beach.  Very dog friendly and we like that beach a lot.”  —    Julia and her travel-loving St Bernard, Gomer

The Oregon Gardens Resort in Silverton, perched just between Salem and Portland, has dog-friendly rooms and endlessly walkable garden trails.” I took my dogs there last 4th of July — no fireworks!”  —    Jawea from Salem

Also citing The Oregon Garden. . . 

“Visitors can even bring their dogs to fenced exercise areas just up the road for off-leash playtime, in case you still need to tire them out,”  —    Sue from Molalla

For swimming/hiking/camping adventures, Stub Stewart State Park west of Portland boasts trails, cabins, and an off-leash romping spot. Many Oregon State Parks have dog-friendly yurts, as do some Washington State Parks such as Cape Disappointment. Other favorites include Sauvie Island, the Washougal River (SW WA), Cooper Creek Reservoir (Southern Oregon), and the popular hiking area known as Peavy Arboretum (Corvallis).  


Dog Friendly Oregon Coast * *

Dog Friendly State Parks *

 Safety *

 Silverton *

 Sunriver *

Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Anyone can foster a canine trauma survivor

Sixteen year old Ryan kneels on all fours. He has a ball in one hand, moving it back and forth, slowly then quickly like a small rodent, enticing Alex to play. Alex tracks the ball with his keen brown eyes, and after several passes, pounces. Ryan keeps ahold of the ball as Alex gnaws away, and coyly reaches around to place a gentle hand on Alex’s back leg.

“It’s the first prolonged contact I’ve had with him,” Ryan says. He moves slowly with Alex, trying to pet him now and then to help him get used to contact with people. Ryan sets up opportunities for Alex to gain confidence, but mostly he lets Alex make the first move.

Despite some of Alex’s fox-like physical traits he is not a wild animal. He is pure canine: a Jindo mix. But he’s not like the other dogs in Ryan’s house — he’s not from a local shelter. He’s from an organization that raided a dog meat farm half a world away in Korea. Five thousand air miles and 650 miles by road is a long way to travel, but letting Ryan rest his hand on Alex’s back leg is further than he has ever gone before.

“I know he trusts me,” Ryan says. “He follows me around, and he’s at a point where he’ll let me pet him more consistently — for five minutes or so.”  

Ryan let Alex stay in the safety of a crate in his bedroom for the first week he was in the house in order to shelter him from the ruckus of his American dogs and the chaos of family life downstairs. Ryan gave him incentive to explore his new world by moving his food bowls first outside the crate, then a little farther from the crate every day,

“He won’t go down the stairs though,” Ryan says. “He looks at me with a ‘Come back!’ look, but he just can’t do it.” One day he will.

Alex isn’t the only dog in the household who hails from a Korean meat farm. Ryan and his mom Dawn committed to foster-to-adopt Alex through My Way Home Dog Rescue, but when a flight delay caused Alex to miss the scheduled monthly transport, they agreed to foster Jack, who arrived early, and also take in Alex the following month.

Jack, like Alex, was rescued by Nami Kim and Save the Korean Dogs Organization in Gimpo City, Korea. Nami has been negotiating with illegal dog meat farm owners for over five years to take their dogs and re-home them in the US and Canada with the help of international organizations. Nami partners with START Rescue in California, which transports the dogs to shelters and rescues like My Way Home outside Portland, Oregon.

Dog meat has been consumed in Asia for centuries, it has only been in recent years that the industry has received worldwide attention — revealing not only its brutal methods of slaughter but the inhumane conditions in which these animals live. And while the consumption of dog meat is not illegal in Korea, it is unlawful to treat any animal inhumanely. Animal protection laws prohibit some of the cruel methods by which the dogs are slaughtered. Because of a belief that adrenaline makes dog meat tenderer, dogs are often hanged, electrocuted, and skinned alive — in front of others. While living in those stacked rusted wire cages, it is likely Alex and Jack witnessed many dogs executed this way — some their own siblings.

Dogs from meat farms do not know a kind human hand until the rescuers come for them; they know nothing of toys and dog beds, a morning jog with a human companion, a leash to keep them safe on walks, or the feeling of home, snuggling by the warm glow of a television set.

They have lived their lives with other dogs, stuffed into cages, some quarters so cramped that they cannot move. They eat, sleep, and defecate all in the same space. Their only contact with humans is to be thrown food, knowing that same hand will one day take their life. The idea that a human may want to stroke their fur and show affection is something these dogs have never fathomed. For them, humans are a species to be feared.

So it is not just a new country that Alex, Jack, and others like them are acclimating to. Their entire life and all they’ve ever known is in upheaval as they slowly accept that they are safe from pain and horrific death, and that the humans with them now mean them no harm. 

Jack goes to work with Dawn, a vet tech. He is surrounded by others of his kind, and there he witnesses humans helping animals, not hurting them. Still wary of strangers (even of Ryan), he’s slowly learning to trust. Alex has found his forever home with his trusted human Ryan. Jack, however, is still looking to find his own human guardian.

From all outward appearances, Alex and Jack are like any pair of canine friends, playing and romping. Although they never played at the meat farm, it seems that play is an innate gift imbedded in the heart of every dog. Their common history creates a level of understanding and trust between them that we humans can never truly grasp.

Cheryl, founder of the foster-based My Way Home Dog Rescue, is fostering two Korean dogs herself: Lady, who arrived with Jack, and Ella, who accompanied Alex. They, too, are learning to adapt to this new, loving life.

Lady is a five year old, white Jindo mix. Although shy, her old soul has adapted well. She’s learned a lot from her American housedog friends. She no longer fears for her life every second of the day, but is still cautious of strangers. Cheryl has been able to pet her, but Lady would rather adore you from afar than cuddle up beside you. Looking into her soulful eyes you wonder if she’s figured out the mysteries of the world and would tell you if only you spoke dog. Lady enjoys the company of other canines, and would like to find a home where she can just be herself: a quiet, introspective member of the family. 

While Lady’s peaceful soul and wisdom have helped her adapt, Ella’s innocence is the foundation of her strength and beauty. At only eight months old, she’d like nothing more than to play with her new American canine friends. Having endured the same traumatic past, she still will not allow anyone to touch her except Cheryl. Also a Jindo mix, she will most likely grow into a contemplative adult like Lady, who chooses one person to call her own but will always enjoy the company of other dogs.

Fostering or adopting a dog who has spent her life in a cramped cage on a meat farm is a lot like fostering or adopting a breeder dog from a puppy mill. Although puppy mill dogs are raised for human commerce and not consumption, their living conditions are equally appalling. They too often live in stacked rusty wire crates in warehouse-barns full of the barks and cries of hopelessness. They are forcefully impregnated, give birth, and raise puppies over and over again with no concern for their medical needs or welfare. The rescuers who come for them find beautiful souls hidden beneath matted fur — dogs who have never experienced grass beneath their feet or the touch of human kindness.

The call for animal protection is growing louder. People are fighting in courtrooms and congresses to create legislation, while others fight on the front lines, physically removing victims of cruelty from their horrific conditions. With every mission that succeeds — whether it be large-scale operations in the US with puppy mills, in the Asian dog meat trade, or local victories of animals being saved from hoarders or dogfighting rings — the need for help becomes greater. Our job doesn’t end when the slaughterhouse is shut down or the hoarder goes to jail. Each and every victim of these traumas need us to heal and rehabilitate them.

Those considering adopting a dog typically imagine the many heartwarming milestones: when he recognizes his name; when he masters Sit; when she comes when called with an urgency that she cannot live a single second without you. You think of waking up with a dog at the end of your bed, and of hiking in the mountains together. But when you adopt a dog like Lady or Ella or Jack, a dog with a traumatic history, those moments may not happen right away — or at all. But you get something else.

Before she learns Sit, you’ll get that moment of pride as she descends the staircase for the first time. Before she recognizes her name, she’ll choose to lie across the room and gaze at you instead of hiding under the bed. Maybe one day you’ll hike together, but first, the moment she willingly lets you clip on her leash for a walk is a day you’ll remember forever.

Fostering any dog is a journey of discovery. Being a foster dog parent is decompressing a dog from his or her prior life. Some are easier than others. You teach them their name and some skills, but mostly you teach them what it is to know human love and kindness. In this, being a foster for a trauma dog is the same. It just takes a little more patience and time.

These dogs have experienced the worst of humanity. Yet every day, they give us an opportunity to prove that we are not. Despite all they have been through, there is a seed of hope within their hearts that not all people are bad; that maybe, just maybe, humans are inherently good.

“We definitely have a connection,” says Ryan. “Might seem like a one-way connection, but it’s a connection.” Ryan has grown attached to Alex, and while it’s subtle, Alex is clearly attached to Ryan.  Alex doesn’t jump into Ryan’s lap, but he looks to him for all things — for comfort, for knowledge, and for love. Alex has never had that with any human being.

Opening your home to a trauma dog involves opening your heart and mind. They might have unusual quirks, but despite their history they are dogs: resilient and ever-hopeful. For some of them, it will be your own dog who does the true teaching. For others, you will be their one true advisor. You need no special skills to foster or adopt a trauma dog. The human heart already comes with the necessary components: love, patience, and devotion.

Please consider opening the door to your heart and your home. Dogs who have suffered trauma might be hesitant at first, but they will eventually come in. They need you, and you need them: to show you the resilience of a soul; that hope never dies; and that patience and time heal all.

If you (or you and your dog) are interested in adopting or fostering, please contact My Way Home Dog Rescue. You can also learn about volunteering through START Rescue, which coordinates travel and placement, and about Nami Kim and her work at

Those outside Oregon and California can help as well. Contact your local shelters and rescues who have taken in dogs from puppy mills and fighting rings. Research the organizations taking in dogs from the meat trade or hoarding situations. Contact them and let them know you would like to help.

Prove the dogs right: that we, as a species, are not a lost cause. For every one person who causes them harm, there are thousands more ready and willing to heal them.

Stephanie Wescott is a freelance writer whose mission is to save animals’ lives through story. Although based in Burbank, California, you’ll most likely find her on the open road with her canine partner Tucker, searching for trails to hike and stories to tell. You can follow their tracks and read their tales at

Ready to Roll? Take the pet on Amtrak

New policy offers convenient travel for you and your small buddy

When Amtrak Cascades — which operates trains between Washington, Oregon and British Columbia — first considered developing a pet carrier, there was one small setback.

"We talked with Amtrak about wanting to be able to carry pets on our trains and they gave me the dimensions of the pet containers that would fit under the seats," says Kirk Fredrickson, Cascades Passenger Services Manager in Olympia, WA.  "And, true story, I had one of my coworkers and his three young boys create a cardboard box in the pet carrier's actual dimensions.  They brought it to our train and it didn't fit."

Turns out, the Amtrak Cascades are the only trains in the entire Amtrak system with cars built overseas.  "Amtrak Cascades coaches are from Spain," explains Fredrickson, "and they’re different than all the other trains.  Our trains have a post under the seat so the box they told us we could use didn't fit!"

On all the other Amtrak trains, the pet carrier slides under the seat.  But on Amtrak Cascade trains, the carrier is allowed to sit on the floor in front of the seat.  After that minor detail was worked out, in May 2016, Amtrak Cascades began offering riders the ability to take along their dogs and cats.  The traveler purchases his or her seat at the going rate, and an additional $25 for the pet seat.  Since the carrier sits in front of the other seat it is unusable by another passenger. 

Amtrak Cascades added five pet seats to each of its 11 daily trains.  Pet seats purchased for any train are placed in Coach 4.

Amtrak began offering pet seats after a small national pilot program.  At first, the company was concerned about losing the full fare of a seat offered to a pet.  "We said there may be a little bit of revenue loss on some of our trains as a result of this, but at the end of the day we're going to come out ahead and we're going to please a lot of people who would like to travel with their pets," says Fredrickson.  "We've been hearing people ask about traveling with their pets for years."

Portlander Dena Sorensen has had her Blue Heeler puppy June for just three months, but they’ve already traveled together on Amtrak.  "We traveled to Seattle to visit my mother-in-law," Sorensen says.  "It was very convenient.  I mean, it was not an issue at all!  Her seat was right next to me.  Having the carrier close was a good factor in keeping her calm."

Sorensen says she wouldn't have taken the train at all if they hadn't allowed her to take June along, adding that driving in Seattle is a turn-off and that she's grateful she now has another option.

"It was awesome!" she says.  "I enjoyed not having to drive four hours or sometimes five to get there.  It was relaxing.  And the scenery is so pretty.  It's worth taking the train — I enjoy it."

Amtrak's early concerns about noise from the pets, "accidents" needing to be cleaned up, or riders having allergy issues were soon laid to rest.  “None of that has been a problem," says Fredricksen.  "We've had a couple of people ask to be reseated from the pet car and that was not a problem — we reseated them and everything was fine.  Our cleaners come through and clean the carpets and wipe down the pet car after every trip and they have had no problems."

Prior to the new pet policy, Amtrak did not allow pets of any kind or size other than service dogs.  "People would say all the time, 'We want to be able to take the train and we want to travel with our pets,'" says Fredricksen.  "It's not easy for folks to find a pet sitter or kennel and they want to bring their pets because they’re part of the family.  We saw the pet policy as a good way to keep our customers happy and increase ridership on the trains."

Amtrak Cascades carried 813 pets from March to December 2016.  So far in 2017, 220 pets have traveled Amtrak with their families.  “Word is getting out among our pet-loving customers and the numbers are climbing,” says Fredricksen.

All aboard!

Limitations and Guidelines

  • Only cats or dogs are allowed. No rabbits, gerbils or other animals. 
  • Must be 20 pounds or less
  • Pet reservations are first-come, first-served for five pet seats per train (service animals do not count toward this limit)
  • Pet owners must provide a pet carrier meeting the train's size requirements
  • The pet must stay in the carrier the entire trip
  • The pet must be at least 8 weeks old and current on vaccines

Get the complete guidelines at

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

Nonprofit celebrates saving 10,000 homeless pets...positions to save even more

Rescue Express  staff 1.JPG

1,000 Miles in 24 hours

Every Sunday around midnight, a bright red schoolbus bearing photos of pets pulls into a parking lot filled with people holding leashes and empty pet carriers. The bus, which has been outfitted to safely carry as many as 225 pets, has been driving all day and night, and this is the halfway point. Staff and volunteers hustle to unload animals that had come dangerously close to being euthanized but are now safe thanks to one California man.

Rescue Express founder Mike McCarthy started the free transport service with the goal of giving abandoned pets a second chance at life. “California shelters are forced to euthanize 40,000 animals a year,” says McCarthy, “while there is a shortage of adoptable animals in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.

The organization’s first transport took place on Valentine’s Day, 2015. One bus running every other weekend quickly turned into a fleet of three buses and weekly transports after requests from California shelters quickly multiplied. This June, the number of pets rescued —including dogs, cats, rabbits and even pigs — surpassed 10,000. The nonprofit hopes to another 12,000 this year. 

All for free

Smaller rescue transports traveling the country are funded by fees charged to the rescues that utilize them. McCarthy chose to offer Rescue Express’ lifesaving service free of charge to prevent shelters’ and rescues’ lack of funding from resulting in needless euthanasia of adoptable pets. Each transport spans over 1,000 miles between Los Angeles, CA and Burlington, WA; weekly transports cost $3,000-$4,000. The organization operates exclusively on funding from donors and grantors such as Maddie’s Fund and the ASPCA.

Due to the high demand for rescue transport, Rescue Express recently expanded its operations with a second location in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. The organization is currently recruiting sending and receiving rescue partners in order to coordinate a second rescue route along Interstate 15, transporting animals from Southern California to Las Vegas, NV, Salt Lake City, UT, Boise, ID, and Montana. 

Why transport?

The bulk of pets abandoned and surrendered to shelters and rescues in the northwestern US and Canada tend to be large dogs and older dogs and cats. Demand for small dogs, puppies and kittens in the region has skyrocketed in recent years. When potential adopters don’t find these animals in shelters, they turn to pet stores, breeders and all too often, puppy and kitten mills. The pets they purchase are most often fertile and go on to reproduce. By transporting animals from the southwest, groups like Rescue Express are saving thousands of animals a year, giving NW residents the opportunity to adopt, preventing support of animal mills, combatting pet overpopulation, and raising awareness about the importance of spay and neuter.  

The organization’s story has been featured far and wide, by print, broadcast and digital outlets.

Rescues interested in being added to the list for upcoming information can contact for information.

Kids find comfort in four-legged dental assistants

Columbia River Pet Partners therapy animal teams regularly visit schools, libraries, businesses, assisted-living homes, hospitals and hospices. But one handler and her two Tibetan Spaniels are doign something unique. Cathy Tramaglini, along with her dogs Kyi and Tia, visit pediatric dental offices to help young patients through “scary” procedures.

Since 2010, Kyi and Tia have been easing the fears of children at Adventure Dental and DeLuna Kids Dental in Vancouver, and Dr. Pike Dentistry for Children in Portland. The doctors want a visit to their office to be as positive an experience as possible, and so sometimes the work begins in the waiting room. But the real action takes place in the dental chair.

Fear leads to stress, and stress leads to increased heart rate and overproduction of stress hormones. That leads to a squirming child, making dental procedures a challenge. But as a child gently strokes a warm dog lying still upon them, the symptoms of stress melt away to the power of the human-animal bond.

“When Kyi and Tia sense fear or tension returning, they often crawl a bit farther up on the child’s chest, reinforcing their presence and its soothing effect,” Cathy said.

Dental staff and parents alike appreciate the way Cathy and her dogs are able to calm fears and keep children still in the dental chair. But their greatest achievement is that they make it possible to treat children in the dentist’s office who would otherwise be so frightened that they would have to undergo general anesthesia in a hospital to get their dental work done.

Cathy’s work in pediatric dental offices has been such a hit that some parents schedule their children’s visits when they know Kyi and Tia are available. The teams visit Dr. DeLuna’s office every week and the other two offices twice a month each.

Cathy and her dogs started their dental visits when Dr. Pike contacted Pet Partners asking for a team. His previous dental assistant had brought her dog in regularly, and when she moved away, the young patients missed having a dog in the office. It turned out that Cathy’s small dogs were ideal because they can cuddle with children during procedures.

Cathy and her dogs are among some 170 active Columbia River Pet Partners teams who are touching lives and improving health throughout the greater Portland area. For information visit

~ Peter Christensen

6 More Hours

6 hours can change everything.

Sam and Rascal

Sam and Rascal

Joe, being the great father he was, would not give up on Rascal. Instead, he offered 6 more hours to the specialty vet to save his dog’s life. When the 6 more hours came due, he offered 6 more.

This went on for almost 24 hours, until Rascal’s nose twitched at the smell of a year-old treat Joe’s daughter Sam found in her purse.  The nose twitch prompted an all-out life-saving endeavor that would ultimately land Rascal back home with his family.  Rascal and his brother Spudzy had been poisoned by death treats someone had thrown into the family’s yard.  Both dogs ate the treats and only Rascal survived.

Rascal had lived through a lot of loss, but he never lost Sam.  He watched as his human kids grew up and flew the nest.  He watched as his dog brothers and sisters came and went.  He watched as the matriarch of the family shot and killed Joe, the patriarch of the family.  Staying near Joe until help arrived, the police allowed him to remain close, to grieve.

When Sam was finally able to enter her home after it was no longer deemed a crime scene, she went to collect Rascal and his belongings.  She found him alone and scared, covered in her father’s blood.  She asked for 6 more hours.  6 more hours with her father.  6 more hours of time to think.  6 more hours of not having to do this. Being the strong woman she was, Sam knew there was no chance of 6 more hours this time.  She gathered up Rascal and they cleaned up their loss and set to recover the home in which they had both been raised.

The next year was a blur, but as the days moved on, both Rascal and Sam found a little of Joe in each other.  Sam learned everything she needed to know about life from her father, and Rascal learned everything he needed to know about being a dog from the same man. They had both lost an irreplaceable man, and if it weren’t for having each other, they would have lost it all.

How does a family recover from such loss?  How does a daughter bury her father decades too soon?  How does a dog process the violent stripping of the man he loved?  For Sam and Rascal, the answer was to join forces and rescue each other. The age-old adage of “who rescued who” reigned so true in this family.  

Today you can find the two of them at the river, at the brewery, or at the veterinarian’s office doing what Joe did for the both of them: taking care of each other.  They both miss Joe, and at times neither of them can hardly bear it.  So they stick together and know that if Joe had a choice as to how they grieved, this would be his choice.

If you had 6 more hours with your family, how would you spend it?

Kristin Regan is a busy professional and rockstar inanimal welfare. She loves a good beer and an old dog, rollin' in her '92 VW VR6 Corrado, and her fur family: Chuvian, Lou, Finn, Bom Dilly, Big N' Tasty, and Mufaletta.

Spotlight on...American Bulldog

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Size:  Medium – Large (60-120 lbs)

Grooming needs:  Low — Moderate Shedder

Exercise:  Moderate/High

Environment:  Indoor with Outdoor Access

Temperament:  Affectionate, Alert

Life Expectancy:  10-15 years

Interesting fact:  This athletic breed is capable of jumping more than 3 vertical feet. The American Bulldog was bred to be a “catch dog,” meaning to chase, catch and bring down livestock.

Appearance:  The American Bulldog is stocky and muscular with a large head.  They are 20-28 inches tall at the withers (ridge between shoulder bones). There are two type of American Bulldogs, Standard and Classic, and mixes within those types.  Each type can vary in appearance, such as the length of legs or muzzle, but both types are taller than their cousin, the English Bulldog. They have a short, smooth coat, which is often white with patches of brindle, red or black.  

Personality:  American Bulldogs tend to bond closely with their families and are known to be emotional and attention seeking.  They are confident and sociable and enjoy an active lifestyle.  This breed was created as a working farm dog that would drive and catch hogs and cattle, as well as, guard the property.  Early socialization toward other pets and children, or awareness of individual propensities, is very important.  The American Bulldog can make a great pet when provided with regular physical and mental exercise.  Agility, nose work, or running can help meet the needs of this athletic pup.  Along variations in appearance, different types can have different exercise needs.

Common Health Problems: This is a generally healthy breed, but may see a group of nervous system disorders called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, ACL tears, hip dysplasia or cherry eye are also seen.

Best Match: The best pet parent for an American Bulldog wants to spend a lot of time with their dog. This breed needs a guardian who can appreciate a drooler, as well as a large pup who considers himself a lap dog.  The American Bulldog tends to love his people and be aloof with strangers.  His ideal family will happily provide plenty of affection and exercise.

Featured Adoptable:  “Money has been with us for quite a while,” says Maria Nagy of the Tillamook Animal Shelter. “It took him a bit to calm down, heal, and unwind from his former life.  He is a great dog today, having learned how to trust people again after a rough past.  He is a fun, active dog who loves to play.  He is unsure of other dogs so he'll do best as an only child.  He loves to play fetch and to play with water.  He is a strong, bouncy guy who loves to play with kids, so will need a family with older kids only.  Money deserves a second chance at a great future.  He is neutered, microchipped and current on vaccines.”

Contact Nagy at the Tillamook Animal Shelter 503-812-0105, or learn more at

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.

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|