Just leave it anywhere

J with Roxy . . . and Peach the photobomber.

J with Roxy . . . and Peach the photobomber.

My big girl Roxy, the 12-years-young Boxer/Ridgeback, is such a joy.  All my four are, of course, but perhaps I have more Roxy stories because she’s the newbie. 

One of Roxy’s “things” is digging in the toybox and pulling out all kinds of stuffies (yep, there’re a lot of ‘em).  How they land so randomly all over the house I have no idea.  Maybe she gets interrupted by “Let’s have a treat!”  Or she detects a sound or smell she must investigate — now!  I’m sure her days are filled with myriad important canine to-do’s.  Whatever the case, she leaves stuffies . . . everywhere.  Halfway down the stairs, on the landing, in the middle of the kitchen.  The middle of a room — any room. (What was she doing in there?)

As I take the stairs and move through the house during the day I routinely cross paths with . . . the squirrel from Megan . . . the little promotional snowman . . . the bunny I just had to buy the girls years ago. . . a funny blue octopus that sings the ABC’s . . . and others.  With every encounter, my smile blooms and my heart fills.

Yay, stuffies!

Ah, if stuffies could talk.  This bunny clearly got left standing … as usual, Rox must’ve been called away on urgent business.  

Ah, if stuffies could talk.  This bunny clearly got left standing … as usual, Rox must’ve been called away on urgent business.

 

All of us have them, I believe, in one form or another.  Quirky little happy threads in the fabric of our day-to-day lives.  Years ago a man in my life and I would write little notes of affection out of Q-tips.  That’s a happy thread J

There’s a simple, yet deep joy in witnessing a creature’s ways.  One of the things that hits home whenever I see Roxy’s leavings is . . . she’s happy.  And that’s huge.

Things at Spot are happy, too!  Please welcome recent arrivals to our team — Graphic Artist Rebecca Zinkgraf, Account Exec Lori Cory, and Summer Intern Lauren Hudgins. 

As always there’s lots going on, with fun new things headed your way — stay with us!  And if you haven’t joined the fun online, Like Spot Magazine (and Spot to the Rescue) on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest — and get your daily dose of pet love, news, alerts, funnies and more.

Yours in the love of pets,

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Cruisin’

J with Roxy (and Peach the famous photobomber)

J with Roxy (and Peach the famous photobomber)

My 4-pack goes 6 to 65 lbs, legs 2 to 30 inches, ages 11 to 13 years.  I call them my little old ladies, and they flip me the tail and laugh.  They are their own little “Red Hats” club, dancing, laughing, and ‘living out loud’ in every way.

A high point of most of our days is a 2-mile jaunt through the neighborhood.  I guess we’re something of a sight . . . people often pause and laugh when we come into view, the girls marching smartly in sync, all ‘large and in charge.’  Now and again we get sweet praise, a la “What a beautiful, well-behaved bunch!”  Not so much, but we love hearing it J

Since we go out most days, and as dogs are expert at telling time, the girls get edgy as the hour approaches.  Roxy’s eyes grow huge with longing (and, I think, a little angst that we might not go today, oh no!).  Peach just gets antsy.  Lula, however, true to form — nap-loving Princess that she is — stays under the covers.  Her radar is keen though; at the first clink of the leash hooks she’s there — her usual obnoxious self wiggling and glaring as if to say, “Let’s go!  I’m tired of waitin’ on you!”

Given their size differences, Peach and Lula sail up and over curbs while long-legged Roxy’s stride doesn’t alter a bit.  She’s like, what curb?  Thankfully, our friend Sue Roake of Bebop USA gifted us with a double-leash that perfectly pairs Peach and Lu, helping keep all three comfortably in stride.

As you go cruisin’ with your friend or friends, please take care during hot days to go early or late, when the temps will be kind (and safe) for them.  And please!  Keep them on the inside “lane” if you’re on the street, and for sure, pick up the poop.  These steps are not only good for safety, but for the “let’s all get along” factor that is so important to preserving our communities. 

These days it’s not just the girls who get excited to get out.  The exercise, the fresh air, and the open space that’s great for unwinding and processing thoughts from the day . . . the time that’s just “ours” . . . it’s all so good, I too get bright-eyed as go-time nears.

If you can make an outing part of your own routine, you’ll find the benefits, and the happy factor, something you’ll want to do every day.  It’s just one more example of how ‘going to the dogs’ makes us better.  The benefits are huge, and they’re ours for the taking.

Get out!  You’ll be so glad you did.  And so will your own little “Red Hats” club.

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Grab your best friend and come play!

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The pet event season got a roaring start with the NW Pet & Companion Fair at the Expo Center last month.  The Spot crew had a blast, joining Carr Subaru for a photo contest with two great prizes:  appearing in a Subaru TV ad, and being on the cover of Spot.

It was a fantastic weekend!  Free admission was appreciated by all, as was the roundup of outstanding vendors, presentations and featured entertainment.  Kudos to Amy Johnson and Vanessa Wright, who in three short years have turned this once ailing event into a spectacular weekend of entertainment, learning, adoptions and shopping.

The fun has only just begun . . . here’s what’s on tap this month:  

May 4 – Walk for the Animals for Humane Society of SW Washington at Ester Short Park in Vancouver

May 4 – Furball for Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon at the Portland Art Museum

May 11 - Doggie Dash for Oregon Humane Society at Waterfront Park in Portland

May 19 - Bark in the Park for Greenhill Humane Society at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. 

At Doggie Dash, the Spot crew will have our popular Goodie Bags — awesome totes from our friends at CVRC that keep contents hot or cold and have lots of compartments.  They’re filled with goodies like Doggy and Kitty Tonic from our friends at Bluebird Herbals, the Pet Emergency Care Handbook from VCA NW Veterinary Specialists, food samples from Whole Pet Northwest (Solid Gold), canned food lids from Sellwood Dog Supply, and more.  We love our partner businesses, and they love sharing goodies you can use.  Available for a $5 donation at pet events while supplies last, all proceeds support PAW Team.

At Bark in the Park, take your best friend to the Spot booth to enter this year’s Willamette Valley Cover Model Search.  Marnie and Victor look forward to seeing you!                                   


Thank you for getting Spot’s first digital issue.  It’s been a crazy few months here as we’ve worked to get the digital program up and running, launch a new website, and continue the work of strengthening Spot’s sustainability.

We’re proud and grateful Spot is your #1 source for everything pet — from news, resources and products to the heart stories that connect us all in loving life with animals.

Thank you too for your continued patience as the Spot crew navigates much new terrain.  Not every step we take is perfect — we’re continually adjusting and correcting along the way — but please know we’re working hard to provide a magazine you’re proud of, and the resources for “everything pet” you need and count on. 

As always, we’re here to serve you, with news, entertainment and resources, and to help you give your best friend optimal health and happiness. 

Yours in everything pet,

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More reasons to smile

J with Roxy (and Peach the famous photobomber)

J with Roxy (and Peach the famous photobomber)

We’ve had a new addition at our house since last fall — a Boxer/Ridgeback mix named Roxy, who’s about 12 years old.  This little girl is now our big girl — her new “sisters” are Scout, Peach and Lula, who range in size from 7 to 15 lbs tops.  Roxy weighs in at 65.  And she’s tall.

So many things about this girl make me smile — her tender heart and sweet ways, her protective nature, and . . . among my favorites:  her near-constant smiling energy. 

A few weeks ago something was tugging at my brain over a little routine that was “all Roxy.”   When she saw me approach the top of the stairs to go down, she’d position herself just below the top step, crouched like a sprinter at the blocks, locked and loaded for flight.  Eyes straining forward, she’d eagerly lean, her turbos impatient to roar.  But she’d wait . . . 'til the moment she was certain we were going down.

I frequently multitask, and often I’ll head toward the stairs only to hit the top and spin at the last second, remembering something I wanted to take down, or do before going.

There she’ll be, in her cliff-hanging / starting block position, waiting.  Trembling slightly with eagerness, she snaps her head back frequently, watching for the signal.  Finally, detecting a certain cue I’m not even aware of, she decides we’re really going down and — BOOM! — she’s off like a rocket, all hunched over, long legs high-stepping, and chortling.  I swear, she chortles!

Roxy’s body can make me laugh even at rest.  Her legs are totally spidery to me, especially when she lolls on her back, begging for belly rubs by flailing them, looking like a praying mantis might if a praying mantis begged for belly rubs.  Her funny bat-like ears are crimped at the tips, and her beanbag of a cottontail bump (in place of more common tails) makes for quite “a swing on her back porch.”

All this back-story is to get to this crazy little thing I wanted to share with you. 

A few weeks ago Roxy’s routine on the stairs started bugging me.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it reminded me of something — something very specific.  Days passed, Roxy’s antics continued, and it  Just. Kept. Bugging. Me!  I could not figure out what shadow image played just out of my mind’s reach whenever she did this. 

Then finally one day — snap! — I got it.  Roxy’s routine is an impersonation of NBA star Dikembe Mutombo!  Specifically, his recent shot-blocker ad for Geico (see it on Youtube by searching “Dikembe Mutombo Geico ad”).

In the loping, humpbacked rascally romp that’s goofy and filled with Dikembe’s odd gargly laughter, I see my funny girl . . .

. . . and it’s one more little thing . . . among, oh, a million or so . . . that makes me smile and adore her even more. 

Yours in everything pet,

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Introducing . . . your 2013 Top Dogs!

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I LOVE THE TOP DOG AWARDS!  And it is with great pleasure I give you “The Best in the Biz” 2013 by popular vote.  Every year the ballots are open for 90 days, July-September, during which pet lovers are encouraged to vote on their favorite pet businesses and professionals in 31 categories.  The result is the Best in the Biz Directory inside this issue, listing the winners 1st-3rd place, and highlighting a few particularly noteworthy accomplishments.  I hope you enjoy getting acquainted with these winning businesses. 

The Directory is a “pull-out,” with heavy covers that make it easy to pull out and save, and sturdy enough to endure use throughout the year.  After reading your regular Spot content, just peel off and recycle the outer pages and keep the Directory handy for use and sharing.  Providing the next best thing to a referral from a friend for pet products and services, it’s a strong statement when over three thousand pet lovers put a business at the top! 

This year 3,095 pet lovers voted, and with that many, competition was fierce.  Ultimately it became clear that any business making the cut to the Top 10 had earned a stamp of excellence.  See the Top 10 in every category on Spot’s website, and get better acquainted with the First Place winners on Spot’s Facebook page in the weeks ahead.  We’ll be shining the spotlight on them there as well as on Spot’s new website, launching this month. 

While you’re there, please comment on and ‘share’ your favorite businesses.  I’d love it, and your Top Dogs will really appreciate it.   Not only is it a great way to give winners a little more love, it’s also a great way to help fellow pet parents gain insight on local options for outstanding products and services.  If you have a video involving a winner, please send it in and we’ll share that too. 

All of these things help make the most of the Top Dog experience, providing much-deserved support to our amazing local businesses. 

Huge thanks to all of you who voted!  And heartfelt gratitude to those who made this year’s Directory possible —the businesses whose ads appear inside.  Please check them out as well — they are pet lovers all, and without them Spot would not be possible.  Thank you!

To all of our Top Dogs this year, Great Job, and CONGRATULATIONS!

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Letter from the publisher

Dear friends,

These are amazing times, with things changing — fast — every day. This year it was clear Spot was ready for change, too. So we set to work, seeking ways to provide greater support to our partner businesses while strengthening Spot’s sustainability. Following are the changes we’re making to do that and more, which happily includes giving you more dynamic presentations of the information and resources you expect, the happy tails you love, and the chance to engage with our amazing local experts.

Beginning May 2013, Spot will begin publishing alternating print and digital editions. You’ll find print editions at the same great pet businesses, and digital editions through your tablet, smartphone or at SpotMagazine.net. As always, back issues will continue to be available at pet events, where as always you’ll find the Spot booth loaded with goodie bags and smiles.

Digital publishing is earth-friendly and in growing demand, and delivering Spot this way provides you with convenience and choice while allowing the crew to bring Spot to life in exciting new ways.

This year we’re also introducing a new website, with new features and functions like social networking, digital articles, and real-time webinars with live Q & As.

Website

Website

Facebook

Facebook

Solid Gold

Lula with Jennifer

Lula with Jennifer

My four girls are all white-faced these days, ranging in age from 9½ to 13.  And while there have been and continue to be many changes — more hours spent sleeping, Scout’s blindness becoming complete, needed retrofits to keep them out of harm’s way — there is no less joy, hilarity, frustration and LIFE than in all the years they’ve been with me.

Late life is a sacred time, for both human beings and our animals.  With age comes wisdom, depth and amazing grace, and I consider it an honor and a huge blessing to share these “golden years” with such special creatures.

Scout and (a very annoyed) Peach in their pet taxi.

Scout and (a very annoyed) Peach in their pet taxi.

A striking thing happens with the Spot crew when we work on editions dedicated to seniors:  we find ourselves in a sacred space that defies words . . . perhaps that’s simply because in this space we speak from the heart.

Roxy heading to Nana's for Thanksgiving.

Roxy heading to Nana's for Thanksgiving.

Because our pets’ lives are so fleeting, all of us will have the blessing and the challenge of traveling the last years, months and days with our lovebugs.  I hope the information and stories inside help with the many experiences, decisions and emotions to be faced in these end times that are at once wonderful and also so very painful. 

We’re blessed to get to share life with our animals.  The more prepared and informed we can be as we move with them into the late hours the more room there is for love to reign. 

Let it reign.

Yours in everything pet,

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'Tis the Season

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The holidays are now in full swing, and hopefully yours are wonderful!

My family will celebrate with a new addition, 12-year-old Roxy, a Ridgeback-Boxer mix who is the sweetest creature you’ll ever meet — and you will meet her, on the cover of Spot’s special issue on Aging Pets in January. 

The sweet magic of the holidays brings a heightened sense of all things comfort and joy!  In this spirit, here is my wish for all of us this year ~

  • Comfort for those struggling, and hope for brighter days ahead
  • Happiness where there would be angst or fear
  • Warmth where there would be cold
  • Full tummies
  • Loving hearts and hands to touch
  • Family and Friends all around — no journey is whole without them

Please give this season however you can — place a gift under a giving tree, donate to a food bank or shelter, open your home to a foster for the holidays, serve up a genuine smile to passersby.

Thank you for another wonderful year of sharing the joy and journey of life with our animals. 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Spot!

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Together we win

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MUTTS comic strip creator Patrick McDonnell has been “among us” here at Spot for months, ever since our Nikki suggested we bring you his story.  Patrick has done a fantastic job of highlighting the plight of shelter animals, and the joy, pain and vital importance of taking action to help them . . . a man after our own hearts!

As is our wont, we worked to make this issue really special.  In the spirit of McDonnell’s dedication to shelter animals, we created an Adopt a Shelter program, matchmaking local businesses with shelters.  This brought about many new relationships, as well as fundraisers, food drives and other meaningful activities.  How cool is that!

In addition to meeting Patrick this month, inside you’ll find Spot’s version of Shelter Stories — a pullout supplement featuring some of our local organizations working to get animals healthy, safe, and HOME.  The supplement will be available at pet events all year, and we hope you’ll get acquainted with these wonderful groups.  Even more, we hope you’ll be inspired to lend your hands and heart to this important work.  I can’t wait for you to see how such small acts can make a huge difference!

Of course there are still many shelters that would benefit greatly by being adopted.  Please consider this for your company.  Adoptions can be as simple as sponsoring a Shelter Story in Spot, acquainting them with tens of thousands of pet lovers, or more involved — many adoptive businesses are holding food and other drives, some are hosting fundraiser parties, and still others are helping virtually — promoting their shelter and its animals through social media.

What I love about this concept is that while businesses are supporting their adopted shelters there is also a role for you — attend the fundraisers, place a gift under a giving tree, and share photos and stories of the goings on! 

The cherry on top is the impact adopted shelters can make on behalf of their adoptive businesses — supporting them through their own social media and outreach. 

Together we win.  It’s been so great watching great new relationships form, seeing businesses that have never before engaged with shelters connect for the first time, seeing new events hit the calendar, and best of all . . . knowing that in addition to the boost this is providing our local businesses and shelters . . . that it’s all about helping that one animal — see the one I mean?  I bet we all have one that easily comes to mind . . . that lonely, confused baby longing for that simple thing we all need and deserve: HOME.  Where there is food, safety . . . and JOY.

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What's going on

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These past few years the publishing and advertising industries have changed dramatically, making it necessary to reconfigure the model upon which Spot was built.  So the Spot crew has been hard at work doing just that in an effort to keep Spot healthy and able to deliver the content you count on — news and resources for health, food, behavior, recreation, animal welfare and rescue, and the great stories and photos that abound in life with animals. 

I’m sharing with you today to keep you close and in the loop, and to make sure you understand the things we’re doing and why — including tests and changes that might otherwise be misunderstood. 

Spot has always been a labor of love, and not an endeavor through which anyone would ever “get rich” . . . except for this:  the amazing rewards we experience in connecting with and serving animal lovers and those working with animals in need, and the pure joy of celebrating our funny, faithful, amazing best friends. 

As we move ahead you’ll see changes in distribution, page count and online development.  Please know that every change we test or make is designed to strengthen Spot’s sustainability.  We love Spot, and we know you do, too.  You tell us all the time!  Please grant us grace and patience as we work to ensure Spot’s survival.

As always, we consider you, our reader, the boss.  Please know your ideas and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.  Shoot me a note anytime at publisher@spotmagazine.net.

And while this is not a crisis, if you would like to support Spot’s efforts to serve you and the animal welfare community, donations can be made to “Team Spot” at PO Box 16667 Portland OR 97292.

While it feels strange to talk about such things, our world is changing, and partnerships like this are becoming more common as companies like Spot navigate an ever-changing “new normal.”

If you’d like to contribute and would like to receive something in return beyond the satisfaction of helping, let us know you’d like some space in the magazine — to celebrate or memorialize a beloved pet, broadcast a birthday, announce a new arrival, help an adoptable in need of a loving family, or whatever creative thing you might want to share with your fellow 33,000 pet-loving readers (Spot online reaches up to 200,000 more).

Thank you for letting me share openly with you today.  Here’s to life in the Northwest, blessed with amazing friends, fabulous animals, and you — our treasured reader.

Here’s to many years ahead . . . together! 

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For the love of paws...

Mah Peach...every bit a Cosmo Kramer

Mah Peach...every bit a Cosmo Kramer

Talking with a close friend recently, she said, “I just realized:  it doesn’t matter where I am — walking, driving, whatever — if I see a dog, it makes me happy.  Instantly.  Every time.” 

She continued to muse in this vein, but you get the gist. 

Her thoughts stayed with me, and fueled my own, taking me as far back as my childhood,  to moments with animals I’ve loved — even some I knew for just fleeting moments. 

… I thought about the fact that for nearly 13 years I’ve been roused from slumber by a sound I call “slappin’ leather” — the music my diminutive but big-eared dogs make when they wake and vigorously shake their heads.  Seconds later they nuzzle their good mornings.  A magical thing about these moments is that, other than the sound of slappin’ leather and my own “good-mornings,” they unfold in a unique, quiet joy.

I thought about my late-great Wolf the cat who behaved like a dog.  He had at least nine sitting postures — a Buddha pose for guarding naptime, a sloe-eyed lounge lizard full-body drape that was his too-school-for-cool look.  An “arms crossed” mad-faced harrumph on the landing anytime I packed to travel.  And a very human (and quite proper) way of sitting on a bar-stool, scanning the counter for edibles.  The only thing missing from that look was a vintage smoking jacket. 

Tonight my Peach came flying in through the back slider at mach speed, skidding on the rug to an abrupt halt, looking very blasé.  I thought, Ha!  That girl bursts in like Cosmo Kramer!  I never realized it before, but it’s true:  my little 10-lb tomboy dairy-cow look-alike is very much like that crazy Seinfeld character.  Hilarious, in-your-face affectionate, bold about what she wants when she wants it . . . and tender as they come.  Completely irresistible. 

In addition to countless treasured moments with my current and past lovebugs, I realized that, like my friend, I too am made happy by just the sight of a dog or cat.  And that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I smile . . . and if close enough, move to connect.

How did we get so lucky to be blessed by the joy of these fabulous creatures?  And even better, to be loved by them!

Yours in everything pet,

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We're rich!

Vonnie and Jennifer

Vonnie and Jennifer

I’m a great believer in continued learning — it’s good for us in so many ways.  Whether you’re upping your parenting skills, training in a sport, perfecting your camera eye, sharpening your business acumen, or any of a million possibilities, learning just makes you . . . and your world . . . bigger, brighter, easier, and often more rewarding.

One thing I love about the Northwest pet community:  if you want to learn, or just connect with others of like mind (which to me is somehow very similar), the options are abundant.  And awesome! 

Vonnie and I were at a workshop recently, an outstanding presentation by Marilee x at DoveLewis on End of Life Care for pets.  Admittedly it’s a tough subject, but one that given a little time, attention and learning can go so much smoother for person and animal alike.  And on that particular journey, smoother is incredibly valuable.

Vonnie also recently attended and was super impressed with a first aid workshop presented by VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists.  This one was months ago, and Vonnie is still raving about the quality of the information and resources presented.

Many other organizations offer great programming as well.  The two I mentioned are free, but not all are.  Worth noting is that free does not mean a lesser quality experience, proven paws-down by the programs offered by these two agencies.

There’s little in life that we can’t enjoy more, or have a higher quality experience with, after gaining more knowledge.  Working, playing, and everyday life matters such as diet and exercise, can all be upped a notch when we receive the benefit of others’ knowledge and expertise.  I encourage you to take a look at some of the local offerings — a few names worth checking in addition to VCA NWVS and Dove include Wonder Puppy for training, and Stay Pet and Sniff Dog Hotels for training and playgroups.  There are countless options — for programming and for organizations presenting workshops, classes and gatherings.

Happy Birthday Spot! Thank you for 7 wonderful years!

Happy Birthday Spot!

Thank you for 7 wonderful years!

Speaking of “gatherings” brings us back to Vonnie.  Many of you have met Spot’s Vonnie at events, or maybe you’ve enjoyed her writing (she blogs on chickens and the ‘Couve and is also a feature writer).  Anyway — Vonnie has been musing for months about starting a support group for those facing the changes and challenges that come in the later years of a best friend’s life. 

“Golden Ears” is what she calls it, a group she envisions as a relaxed network of pet lovers who can share tips, ideas, concerns and friendship — by phone, email, social network, at meetups for senior dogs, and maybe even converging at favorite watering holes.

I wanted to share Golden Ears with you here as Vonnie would love to get a feel for your interest in the idea.  And of course Spot would too!  Vonnie and Spot go hand in hand in some ways, and this is one in which Spot is more than happy to serve and facilitate in any way we can.

If you’d like to see a group like this form, or have thoughts and ideas, please send them to Vonnie@SpotMagazine.net, or post them on www.SpotMagazine.net or Spot’s Facebook page. 

Otherwise, I hope you’ll take a look at the many offerings of classes, workshops and other great happenings in this edition.  Get growing!  You’ll be so glad you did.

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The community we breed

Jennifer with niece Jadyn

Jennifer with niece Jadyn

My neighbor Bob and I raced to collect the recycling bins today.  Our little game of ‘First One There Puts Them Away’ randomly started long ago.  Bob is more of a morning person than I am, so he often beats me to it.  Wanting to do my part, I try to be ‘First One There’ as often as I can.

Anyway!  Today’s silly little footrace got me thinking . . . . I am blessed with great human beings next door on both sides, and we’ve had many years of being neighbor-family.  Naturally, just like parents of human kids, we’ve shared many life moments involving our animals.  We celebrated the day Bob and Kathy brought butterball Rudy the Golden home, a living teddybear.  Many years later my hands would join the others lifting Rudy in for his last ride, on his way to rest after a catastrophic stroke.

One of the magical times was the arrival of Diane’s Sophie.  A beautiful calico rescue who now rules not only Diane’s home but much of the neighborhood, Sophie is our cover girl for the “kitty issue” next month.  Sophie’s arrival was especially important, as she brought life and joy to Diane’s home after she’d lost her husband.

Years before Sophie arrived, Diane and her wonderful husband John had a beloved yellow Lab named Sugar.  Once when they were overseas, Sugar stayed home, where she fared better than in a home not her own.  Checking on Sugar once while they were away I found her lying in the dim, too-quiet living room, head up but stock still, her sad gaze locked on the front windows.

Since she’d already had a little stroke I was concerned about Sugar’s health in John and Diane’s absence.  So I gradually coaxed her to spend time with my pack, in a process that took numerous trips over a couple of days.  Day one she followed me to her back gate.  Day two, to mine.  Then she came to my back slider, and finally, in for lunch and many more visits to come. 

Sugar was a regular at our house ever after, sometimes for lunch, other times just hanging out when she pleased.  She was love on wheels, and ultimately blessed both families, her own and mine. 

My neighbor-families tend my girls when needed and jump in to check those little things, like a coffeepot maybe left on.  In recent years they’ve graciously endured the barking meltdowns that happen since Lula our ‘wretched red-headed rescue’ arrived. 

Together we’ve celebrated each others’ new arrivals . . . and helped with loving hands and hearts during the inevitable sad goodbyes.

These are just a few examples of how our animals enrich our human communities.  It plays out in a thousand ways every day in many homes and neighborhoods, at parks, pet events, and so much more.

Racing Bob to the bins this morning reminded me how very much I have to be thankful for . . . for these precious neighbor-families, and for just how much richer our community is, thanks to our animals.

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Lunging Lula & Torpedo Peach

Lula

Lula

Celebrating the long return of sunny days, Peach and Lu recently got sporty little halters and we hit the pavement (it’s true: we’re fair-weather beboppers). Under friendly skies we generally clock 2 or so miles in our favorite stomping grounds: our own eighborhood. The terrain is a perfect mix of atlands and steep hills, so I get a little bit of a workout, and the friends, neighbors and landscapes in the ‘hood feed our souls.

One thing that captivates me as we cruise is the unique gait sported by each of my girls. Lula, aka my ‘wretched redheaded rescue,’ is a sleek, leggy, dark red beauty who has a bossy little bounce and jaunty “back porch swing.” Peach, meanwhile, built like a 10-lb. dairy cow (stocky and a little butch), has this smoooooth stride that keeps her body sailing along just above the pavement — she is all about the glide.

Despite the dramatic difference, every time we approach a rise or curb, they are suddenly, amazingly, in perfect sync, clearing each rise like dancers in flight. The sight takes my breath away; it’s a mystery how they seamlessly break stride for that split second when their bodies fuse as one, soaring beautifully.

Peach

Peach

In addition to many wonderful sights and smells, we usually enjoy a few encounters with other pets and their peeps. Recently we met a woman with Stanley, a beautiful smiling mop who is completely blind. Stanley shuffled around his mom’s legs shyly as she and I swapped stories about the challenges our blind babies face and the tricks we use to protect the quality and manageability of their lives. My 6-lb. Scout is blind now, too, and further has “shaken baby”-type brain damage from a puppy-hood fall. Some days my tough little one does great; other days her NAV system is just off , sending her through the house like a pinball – bouncing off this cupboard, that chairleg, even the landing that’s been ‘right there’ all her life (she’s nearing 13).

I sadly discovered recently that Scout is done with walks. I took her out alone after Lula and Peach’s adventure, and she let me know unequivocally, “Nope; too stressful. I am done with this.”

So now Scout guards the castle while we three head for the hills. Lula lunging at anything on wheels — cars, bicycles, skate-boards, you name it — and Peach zooming along, all little torpedo. As for me, I dance along happily, savoring every bit of sunshine, joy and vitality we get to share.

While I don’t consciously dwell on how fleeting their lives are, the certainty lives in my bones . . . ever reminding me to revel in these great days of beauty . . . with my crazy lunging loon and amazing flying torpedo.

These are the moments,

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Good times

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I love what a dear friend calls a slow-starter that finally gets traction — “The greatest little 10-year overnight success ever!”

Yep:  that would be Spot.  Celebrating its (not 10th but close enough) 7th anniversary in August, Spot is finally moving beyond baby steps and striding along in ways that make a parent’s heart sing.

You, dear reader, are the boss, and it’s been wonderful to hear your consistent declaration of love for the magazine and the Spot crew’s work in animal welfare and helping businesses grow.  In fact, your unflagging affection and support is a huge reason we made it this far — that and the confidence of our partner businesses, whose support makes possible each monthly issue.  Please support them!

There’s been a whole lot of uphill in growing up Spot, thanks to a mean economy and a dramatically-changing industry.  BUT!  We’re here to tell you, it’s time to celebrate! 

Spot just got prettier thanks to a printing upgrade, and if you haven’t already explored the new website, please do!  Great adventure awaits, including tons of resources in “everything pet,” countless photos, ways to connect, contests, videos, broadcasts and more.  Now you can check pet events for the upcoming weekend by clicking the “Broadcasts” button — reports are updated every Thursday/Friday following the 6 o clock live broadcast on 98.1 fm radio.  The website also has informative and entertaining blogs from numerous pet experts, the Spot crew, and members of the community who have amazing stories to share. 

Speaking of which, I hope you’ll take a peek at “Volunteering pays BIG” this month, a great tale shared by fellow reader, Denise Kinstetter.  Denise is passionate about many things, and she’s on fire to encourage you in general, to make the most of life, and specifically, to experience the amazing gifts that come through volunteering.  This award-winning volunteer divides her time between Multnomah County Animal Services and Oregon Humane Society, and we’re delighted to share her story with you.

Do you have a story to share?  Please do!  This animal-loving community is filled with amazing people with extraordinary stories, and sharing them helps us all learn, laugh, and enjoy the ride — and each other — all the more.

In closing, we hope to see you at Walk for the Animals May 5, the NW Pet Fair May 5 & 6, and/or Doggie Dash May 12.  Spot is holding a “Pet Minit” video contest Sunday May 6 at the Pet Fair, so come out and show off your pet’s best trick, sweetest face, or the special story about your lives together.  Videos will be shared and voted on, and the winner will get great prizes, including a gift certificate toward a Sunriver getaway at Bennington Properties, a soft harness from Four Paws Only, and a beautiful photo keychain from Jade’s Pet Frames.  As usual we’ll have Goodie Bags (awesome new totes from CVRC and fantastic new contents from a variety of our excellent business partners), take-aways, and happy members of the Spot crew eager to see you again after the long hiatus in pet events.  Come out and play!

Yours in everything pet,

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Spring brings on the fun!

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It’s been an industrious winter here at Spot, and we’re excited to finally get the chance to get out and play with our favorite pets and their peeps!  There’s plenty of opportunity, with the NW Pet Fair coming up (get your Show Guide inside this issue), the Doggie Dash, Walk for the Animals and more.  Stay tuned to the FunPlanner (in print, online and at 98.1 fm) — the roster’s packed with great stuff, and the Spot crew is usually on the scene, ready to chat and play, and share samples and Goodie Bags. 

The renovations to Spot’s House online are wrapping up, and I can’t wait for you to stop by and see the “House that David built” . . . Wow!  Late installations include extraordinary professional Guest Experts who’ll be blogging the latest in Health & Wellness, Animal Welfare, the Pet Biz and more.  Whatever you may need to keep your pets happy, healthy, playing and learning, you’ll find it at Spot’s House, www.spotmagazine.net.  Come on ovah!

I’ll keep it brief this month, as I’m sharing the page with a new arrival to Spot, Jade’s Pet Frames, and a heartfelt farewell to a friend.

I’ll close by saying THANK YOU — to the businesses and professionals who support Spot (please support them!), and YOU, our reader, who regularly shares your love for Spot, the animals, and those who serve them, and your ideas and suggestions.  Thank you!  See you soon at upcoming events!

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