Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
She's a force for animal rescue in practical ballet flats. As a plucky third grader, Michelle stood up for kittens about to be drowned in a creek. "I can’t remember when animals weren’t part of my life," she smiles.
Besides animal rescue, her superpowers include crazy cool toes with which she can actually pick things up. But like every superhero, she has her kryptonite — big, black, furry kryptonite.
"I have actually gotten completely derailed in the middle of a sentence because I saw a big black dog out of the corner of my eye," she confesses with a laugh. "The mere sight of a black Lab turns my brain to mush. I forget English words. My feet quit working. I just have a thing for big black dogs. They melt me."
So much so that her husband wove it into their wedding vows.
"My husband stood before our 160 guests and told them I'm not just a crazy dog lady but a REALLY crazy dog lady. So, me and dogs: it's really a thing."
Indeed, she is crazy-quilt of mad skills and passion for causes — a full-time massage therapist for 23 years, "I left a TV news career because the business was so superficial and cutthroat — it was going to eat me alive. I wanted a totally different lifestyle."
She's happy with the kind of writing she does now. “Stuff I choose because it has some meaning or serves some greater good."
Her passions have included fundraising to build a new shelter for Willamette Humane Society, and serving as a Fences For Fido board member during the organization’s first five years. "They've built thousands of fences to get dogs off of chains, and I also worked with legislators and stakeholders to pass Oregon's law that limits how many hours a dog can spend on a tether."
These days she is "board vice-president, fence-builder, and vegan cupcake-baker” at Wildwood Farm Sanctuary in Newberg. “I'd love the job of baby goat snuggler, but the competition is stiff," she smiles.
Binge-watching “Mad Men” is a major guilty pleasure. "I think I’ve watched the entire series three times — I just get so swept up in that world! I was born in 1967, so I remember people dressing like that, smoking like that, having that furniture."
While her days are filled working and volunteering, Michelle still finds time for another passion: books in her "just busting to get out," she says. "I have a couple of agents looking at one of them now."
She hopes people see her as consistent, honest and ethical. "Some see me as a bit blunt, but I feel so unsteady in an environment where people are clearly not saying what they mean,” she says. “Why do we do that? Just say it!"
When asked what shoe was so her, Michelle laughs and shares this: "Once a woman offered to read my palm at a party. The first thing she said was, ‘You tend to be overly practical.’ My friends just howled in recognition. So my favorite shoes: totally practical. I bought these [ballet flats] for my wedding reception because my wedding shoes were beautiful and tall and showy, but no way was I going to dance in them. In fact, I changed into the flats for the pictures too. It would have looked prettier with my fancy shoes, but, you know, I’m practical."
So is her favorite food. "Potatoes. Of any kind. Fried, mashed, roasted, baked. Maybe it’s my Irish heritage. Can’t get enough of my spuds!”
The current pack at home include, "My two rescue dogs Willow and Roxy, my feline dog-whisperer Dudley, and my husband’s two cats, Opus and Caboose. It’s the fewest animals I’ve had in years," she giggles.
After a hard day, Willow rescues her. "She has this 'a-dork-able' smile. She shows me her little toofies and wiggles and wiggles. Then she hugs me — who wouldn’t want to come home to that?"
A lottery win would go toward fixing a few things on the little 1940s house she's owned for 20 years, "but we’d mostly use the money to start an animal sanctuary of some sort," and help family.
But, she adds: seeing her husband, kitties and dogs all snuggled on the couch, "I realize I've basically hit the jackpot."
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Hunter live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero bought a new sofa and still doesn't have enough room for herself, although the three BIG RagaMuffin kitties and Mojo the retired greyhound are pretty impressed. Meeting new friends via People in the Neighborhood interviews makes her day!