Meet Your 2012 Top Dogs!

Jennifer with ArtYou voted, and here they are.  This year’s Top Dog votes were a blast to tally, as the fields shook up big-time all across the boards.

You and your fellow Spot readers voted for “the Best in the [pet] Biz” in 31 categories last summer, from attorney to groomer, veterinarian to trainer, and “everything pet” in between.  

Once again you’ve made it a blowout, bringing many new professionals and businesses into the Top Dog spotlight.  I love this process, as it can really boost pet professionals doing great work.  Case in point:  a note from a reader last year said, “Thanks a lot for naming my groomer Top Dog . . . now I can’t get the dogs in for 2-3 weeks!”

And that’s exactly why we do this — it’s good for everyone!  You, the reader, end up with a directory of the best in the biz by popular vote — making the listings much like a referral from a friend.  Pros and businesses doing great work are recognized and showcased in a way they’re at your fingertips when you need services and products in the year ahead.

After you’ve read your regular Spot content in the outside 16 pages, just tear those off and keep the Directory handy for reference throughout the coming months.  You’ll notice the Directory has a heavier cover, so it pulls out with ease.  And, if you misplace your Directory (or need to give it to a friend), copies will be available at pet events and venues all year long.

I hope you’ll scan the entire Directory now — in addition to the listings there are stories highlighting those who warrant a special little something for noteworthy achievements and successes.  This is a great chance to acquaint yourself with them, and ALL of our wonderful NW merchants and practitioners. 

We’re blessed here in the Northwest to have such a deep, rich field of talent in the animal “arts,” “sciences,” and welfare arenas, and the more you know who/what’s out there, the better equipped you’ll be if/when you have a specific need this year. 

Thanks again for voting this year, and many thanks to all the wonderful businesses and professionals who participated, who support Spot, and who do so much to uplift, enrich and educate our pet-loving community.  A great big round of applause to you, winners all!

Yours in everything pet,

Huge Thanks this issue for their outstanding contribution, heroic effort and exquisite humor and spirit — Vonnie Harris, Nikki Jardin, Tay Juncker, Meryl Lipman, Megan Mahan, Marnie McCammon, Kennedy Morgan, and all our wonderful partners in the pet biz — thank you!  You rock! 

2012's gonna be swell!

Jennifer and Jenny at the Ducks' latest stompin'Such exciting times!  I can't wait for you to see the latest from the work we've been doing in recent months, and you don't have long to wait.

Spot's website is in redesign as I write, and I hope you'll check in around midmonth and join the fun —  and I do mean fun!  Soon this will be a place where us pet lovers can connect with each other and share ideas, stories and photos, plus meet and learn from pet experts, and much shopping!  Yep, Spot's Boutique will be in business, and we look forward to seeing our friends sporting the fine, fun, and ever-changing gear and apparel the boutique has to offer.

Another new attraction is the addition of video.  Watch for fun, educational and funny bits on the website, Spot's Facebook page, Twitter and other outlets.  You'll even see them frequently as companions to feature stories in the magazine itself.  In fact, the fun starts now: this month our feline guru, Kathy Covey, presents tips on bathing kitty, complete with a video that's not only helpful, it'll make you smile.

Stay close and join us in exploting all things pets in ever greater (and more fun!) ways.  In closing I want to share a note about this issue, which is packed with the beauties who participated in our Cover Model Search - Portland this fall.  Please note that all of the photos — including the gorgeous shot on the cover are the work of the award-winning David Childs of David Childs Photography, the same rockstar who every month in Spot and at OHS teaches his craft, helping people hone their own shutterbug skills.

David is an exquisite artist, smart as a whip, and a huge friend of and contributor to animals and their welfare.  I'm proud and so pleased that we're blessed to work with him.  In showcasing his work from our 2011 Cover Model Search, this edition naturally kind of became "David's issue" and for that I'm glad.  I think you'll be too!

Yours in all things pet,

PS: If you're wondering what became of the pretty homeless girl I recently fell so deeply in love with, meet me at Spot's House (, go to "Blog Spot" and click on "Behind the scenes with us"...and find out what happened next!

Give. Thanks.

Jennifer (R) with Angie, Punkin and Jessie at Fido's Indoor Dog ParkI’ve lived in my neighborhood for nearly 20 years, so I’m a regular . . . at the grocery, the gas station, the post office.  It’s this last locale where I met a pretty little girl recently, tethered to a pole. 

I’d seen her a couple times before, trekking along with a red-faced, 30-40-year-old man pushing a cart.  Tied to the rig, she trotted prettily alongside.  I’ve seen them from the comfort of my car — one day here, another day there — on routine runarounds. 

So this last cold, rainy Saturday, I pulled into the PO, and there she was:  tied to a post.  I saw her man standing inside, in line to do business with the USPS. 

I collected my mail and headed out.  The little girl lay just outside, so as I pushed out the door I walked right into the eyes of love.  They’d actually gazed into mine as I went in, and I’d breezed by, dodging contact and the risk of falling in love.  Coming out, I resisted again.  For 15 seconds at least!  But she had me.  I approached slowly, speaking softly, watching her body language to see if she wanted a pat. 

She did, drawing near in a shuffling, submissive approach that said, “Please love me.” 

I did, and she rolled onto her back, languishing in gentle touches and soft words. 

For several minutes I loved on her with words and caresses; clearly she would happily do this all day.   

I couldn’t though — I had to go.  It took a few minutes to leave her, this beautiful, obviously young/healthy female, 40 or so lbs., maybe a Keeshond or mix.  I crossed the lot, got in my car, and flipped through the mail.  Waited to see if the man would emerge.  Waited a few minutes more.  Struggled knowing I needed to hit it . . . and waited a minute more.  Saw him through the windows and considered going inside but thought he might not welcome my advance, especially in front of others.  I waited another minute.  Still he didn’t come out.

Finally I made a decision.  As it happened I was going to the symphony in a few hours, and in a flash I realized that if I didn’t do something to reach out I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy the evening ahead.

I raced home, some 5-7 minutes away.  Grabbed half the kibble from my dogs’ supply, some gift certificates for food, my cans and bottles bagged for return, and raced back, watching for them on the sidewalks along the way.

When I got there they were gone.  I’d looked all the way there and all the way back. 

While I didn’t find them that day, I hoped that since I’d seen them several times in recent weeks I would again.  Now my car is (and will remain) equipped with the items noted above, plus an umbrella and a gently-used sleeping bag. 

I was able to enjoy my evening.  I’d done my best at that moment, and that was enough.  And next time I see them I’ll be ready. 

This holiday season I wish you and yours great blessing — of comfort, love and . . . enough.  And I wish for all of us to be mindful of the abundance we’re blessed with, even in these mean and sometimes too lean times.  Share what you can, take care of you and yours, and revel in the gifts we do have . . . they are so many.

Of course us animal lovers are blessed from the get-go, just getting to share life with these precious beings. 

Yours in gratitude this season, 

Come, let’s take a peek behind the scenes

Jennifer with Jack

If you’ve ever set out to write about something that really fascinated you then you know firsthand what an organic thing writing tends to be, often taking on a life of its own while the writer simply serves as the conduit.  The same holds true with a magazine:  it has a life — a living, breathing, growing spirit — of its own.

That’s one of many things I really love about my job.  My nature is such that what “feeds” me most is being a part of growing things . . . facilitating, participating and guiding . . . just enough to help the object of my stewardship — be it a project, person, or magazine — get traction and thrive on its own steam, moving and growing in time to its own life force and vision.  While these words may be a little flowery, that’s surely because, in addition to being a force of its own, for me Spot is also very much a work of heart.

Spot’s organic nature is illustrated nicely this issue — through tales by our friends in the biz, shared in ways that take us behind the scenes and allow us to experience extraordinary things through them that we might not otherwise ever get to.

Big thank-yous for these experiences — to Rubi Sullivan, who shares her recent experiences during a stint at Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah; to Dr. Lori Gibson, who shares her wisdom and insight into the natural yet never easy experiences that surround end of life situations; and to Meryl Lipman, who delivers a quirky tale about a kitty in her life who proved that yes:  “medical” marijuana can be helpful.

The Northwest pet community is populated with extraordinary creatures, human and otherwise, and it’s my privilege and pleasure to help connect the dots — bringing together those in the business, nonprofit and private sectors — allowing us all to know each other, celebrate the blessings, face the hard things, and work to grow and do purposeful work and enjoy our best lives . . . with our beloved companions. 

Yours in everything pet,

win Win WIN!!!

Jennifer with Jack

When it comes to contests and fun ways to connect and play, Spot’s got it goin on.  This month the biggie is Spot’s annual Cover Model Search – Portland, happening at Doggie Palooza Sunday Oct. 16 at the World Forestry Center

Come out and play!  Dress ‘em up or bring them au naturale.  You’ll get a sweet commemorative photo of your sweetpea by renowned photographer David Childs, plus he/she will be entered to win a professional photo shoot and a turn on the cover of Spot.  Entry is $15 and proceeds benefit Oregon Dog Rescue

Also, Spot has begun hosting contests on Facebook.  It all started when we came into some gorgeous plush pet beds to give away, courtesy of our friends at Bi-MartShow Dogs Grooming joined the fray, and we invited friends to post photos of their “Sleeping Beauties.”  The photo with the most likes (take a peek at the winner) — won complimentary beauty treatments from Show Dogs, and went home with their beautiful new bed.

At this writing we’re wrapping the latest contest, this one in the spirit of the recent Dogtoberfest celebration, which is Portland’s biggest dogwash of the year.  This time we asked folks to submit their “dirty little stories” or photos about their pet(s) all-time dirtiest adventure.  The winner gets a Conair “Yellow Dog” pet drier, and a complimentary groom from the award-winning pros at The Muttley Crew. 

The reason I mention the contests that have already wrapped is two-fold:  to give you a taste of what’s shakin and will be ongoing, and also in hopes that you’ll take a peek at the photos and stories from these contests — smiles guaranteed.

Bring your star for the Cover Model Search, and come out and play!  And check out Spot on Facebook, join the fun, and enter to WIN! 

Yours in everything pet,

My favorite beat

Jennifer with PoppyApproaching 20 years as a writer, editor and publisher, at one time or another during my tenure I’ve covered every beat— from breaking news to government, arts & entertainment to crime, and on.

While every beat has its own allure, my hands-down favorite — and happily these days the one I most often get to cover — is the heart beat. Just before this issue went to press duty called . . . with a story that powerfully conveys its magic.

A little backstory:

This past May, Spot promoted “Henry’s Walk,” Oregon Dog Rescue’s fundraiser named for a sweet boy with a miraculous story of survival. Henry endured grueling conditions in life with a hoarder that, as usual, left permanent scars: near-blindness, ground-down teeth, and a sustaining fear of many things. Part of Henry’s second-chance story deals with the normal things he’s had to learn since being rescued — like drinking from a bowl rather than licking surfaces for dew or rain, and that food gets served on the floor, not the hood of a car.

Shortly after Henry’s debut in Spot promoting the ODR fundraiser, a family in Eugene who’d seen his photo got in touch. “We saw this picture of our Poppy,” they said, “only it was Henry!”

Certain that Henry and Poppy were either littermates or mother and son, Yaakov and Donna of Eugene set about reuniting the pair — at a dog park on a picture-perfect Saturday in August. L-R: Suz with Henry, Yaakov, Poppy and DonnaSpot was invited to the meetup. As I approached, Suz (Henry’s mom) and Donna (Poppy’s), were giggling as Poppy languished on her back, swiping a paw at any hand that paused in rubbing her feathery underside. As I floated around the group, being “invisible” so as to capture the moment on camera, they continued to get acquainted, asking each other about their dogs’ health and behavioral issues, their habits, and the quirky things they do that reveal their past lives with a hoarder.

I look forward to sharing their story with you next month. As much as tales like this fill our hearts, they also serve as powerful models, and reminders of why those of us in the business of animal welfare care so much about rescue, spay/neuter and related efforts.

The face of a baby radiating his or her joy in life today while at the same time showing the shadows of scars from the past . . . that’s the face of this work. And the reason we so passionately work the heart beat.

Yours in everything pet,

What a season!

Jennifer with JackI was going to say summer, but . . . whatever!  Here we are in the Northwest, a bunch of outdoor-, fun- and animal-loving people, all keeping our chins and whiskers up, even in the face of hitting 80 degrees on only four occasions this summer.  Good thing we’re good natured!

And weather or not, the event season has been extraordinary so far this year, with many new hearts and faces joining the fray, and much good accomplished on behalf of the animals and those working on their behalf.  It’s been incredibly busy, but also very rewarding, not to mention educational. 

Spot presented a first-of-its-kind event July 30th — Shine with Spot featuring “Making Social Media Work for You.”  Along with our great partners and contributors, this was our way of presenting a great gift of education to our community, wrapped in a memorable afternoon and building in a boost for The Oregon Spay/Neuter Fund

This month the fun continues, as does the “beach book” reading inside this issue.  Around here we like it best when the adventure includes learning, growing and fun, and this month is rich with opportunity for all of it.  And just as beach reading should be, this issue is packed with great stuff that’s light and easy.

For details on pet-related happenings in the Northwest, tune into 98.1 fm radio Thursdays at 6:05pm, when Spot’s Furry FunPlanner report highlights fun and learning for you and your pets for the coming week/weekend.  Other great resources for deets on the fly include Spot and Spot to the Rescue on Facebook, and Spot’s monthly eNews (email to subscribe).

We’re working to keep pet happenings at your fingertips, so you and your best friend can enjoy this amazing community, and also so we can have the pleasure of your company! 

Yours in everything pet,

Suddenly everything's shining

Jennifer with JackTHE SUN . . . after months of cold and wet . . . Let it shine!

THE STARS . . . this month there’s a trifecta of masculine talent around here, including social media expert Matt Mahan, the brilliant Michael Allen Harrison, and fun, fascinating celebrity pet expert, Harrison Forbes.

Pet businesses and nonprofits will SHINE with Spot July 30th, during an afternoon of networking, learning about social media, and great music and fare…all in a shining setting.

One of the things I love best about the pet biz is that so many involved in it — in whatever capacity — so often reach out to help in ways great and small . . . and it all matters.

Spot’s latest efforts in giving culminate this month with Shine with Spot, a fundraiser for the Oregon Spay/Neuter Fund and the S.A.F.E. pet emergency fund.  The day goes beyond boosting animal welfare to provide a great opportunity for pet professionals (for- and nonprofit) to boost their teams’ skills and spirits with great networking and an interactive workshop with Matt Mahan of Causes on Facebook.  Check out the pull-out event guide inside this issue, and don’t miss this fantastic event!

Speaking of, while at events this month, say hi to the crew at the Spot booth!  Our goodie bags just got even better, thanks to the addition of reusable grocery bags from our friends at Cascade Veterinary Referral Center (they’re big, and good-lookin!).  And watch for advance ticket sales for Shine and its raffles.  There are 3 fabulous packages (check out Treasures in the Raffle Trove).  Winners will be drawn during Shine (they need not be present), and proceeds support OS/NF and S.A.F.E.

One last little event-related note is a shout-out that originally appeared in Spot’s June eNews* that bears repeating: 

If you’ve been by Spot’s booth this season, you’ve surely met Angie & Punkin.  Angie’s immeasurable help and smiling personality, along with her sweet, furry (and very photogenic) sidekick Punkin, make their company pricelsss.  Thank you girls … couldn’t do it without you two!

Get your shades on,

baby, let’s go!

*PS: If you're not getting Spot's eNews, sign up! We won't share your address or load up your inbox - it's just a once-monthly update you'll enjoy.

Email to subscribe. It's fun, informative, and free!

A few of my favorite things

LulaSpot’s house is near Rocky Butte in Portland.  Just over the back fence is the Grotto — a former monastery comprised of 62 wooded acres.  I can’t count the number of times first-time visitors have said, “I didn’t know this was here!”

I didn’t either, until I found this house advertised for rent in the classifieds some 12 years ago.  After renting for two years, we made it home for good.

This time of year the mostly deciduous trees out back go through a transformation from a tangle of cold-looking gray-brown branches to become — boom-boom-boom — a riot of lush green leaves that sort of grow into the house.  It’s a glorious sight, a soul-feeding space, just simple (not fancy) beauty and birdsong.  God’s space.

While our lawns are postage stamp, the space is heavenly, especially now, as it explodes with blossoms on the mock fruit trees, forget-me-nots, rhodies, lilacs, and soon,  peonies.  Even the “snow” of spent petals on the patio is gorgeous.

PeachYou’ve met Lula if you regularly read my words here, and one of my favorite things during this season is watching her guard her yard.  She stations herself on the back patio, gazing for hours at what I’ve come to think of as her kingdom.  Occasionally she’ll take up the chase with a taunting squirrel, racking up miles at top speed.  But she always returns to the very zen pastime of simply gazing at her back 40.

Meanwhile, Peach and Scout, the littlest girls and both piebald miniature Dachshunds, opt for a routine that I call “wieners on the grill.”  They love sunbathing, and given even a stingy bit of sunshine they’ll stretch out loooong on the patio, looking every bit like they’re lounging poolside at their favorite tropical resort.

Peach has other favorite sunbathing spots around the yard — the back gate, the foot of the garden bed on the pea gravel, sometimes in the garden bed itself. 

Throughout the day I’ll check their whereabouts, doing a quick roll call, making sure everyone’s well and happy (and not up to something they shouldn’t be).  There they are:  Scout (who is blind) invariably stretched impossibly long on the patio, Peach there too, or in one of her preferred sun-worshipping spots (the rays must be just right there — my little dairy-cow look-alike knows the value of location).  Lu might be anywhere — traversing the yard in a flying red streak, vigilantly stalking a squirrel, or peacefully watching over her kingdom.

ScoutWhen it comes to little pieces of paradise, we’ve got ours.  It isn’t big, and it isn’t fancy.  But for us, it’s heavenly.  Isn’t it something how the place we call home is made all the more precious by our animals’ pleasure in it?  Giving them a good life is rewarding indeed.  All the more gratifying knowing the hard places they came from and could still be in today, if alive at all.  We’ve got it good! 

Whenever I hear someone say about their lovebugs  “They’re spoiled rotten,”  I say, “As they should be.”  And shouldn’t we all!  My wish for you is that you can look out your own kitchen window, walk out the door to your back yard, breath in deep and feel that huge, fresh, wonderful feeling of . . . “I love this place.”   It needn’t be big, fancy or expensive; it just needs to be your version of wonderful.

Yours in everything pet,

Me, Lu and the Machine

Jennifer Mccammon and LulaMy Telulah.  Known by most as ‘Lula’ or my ‘wretched redhead rescue,’ at home she is most often simply called ‘Lu.’

So Lu and I were mowing the back 40 last weekend, luxuriating in one of the first sunny days after months of relentless gray, wet and COLD.  The yard is still rough (too cold to go out!), but on that sunny Sunday, it looked like heaven.

Every few passes as I criss-cross the lawn Lula dive-bombs the mower.*  Here she comes, a swooping red streak, teeth bared, scary attack face on. 

I can’t help but laugh as she comes flying.  Of course I yell,  joining her shrill, no-stopping-for-breath banshee bark — “Whoo!-Whoo!-Whoo!-Whoo!-Whoo!” — with my “No!-No!-No!-Nooo!”  It would be great — just once — to hear our ridiculous little opera from my neighbors’ perspective (thankfully, they love us).

While it’s admittedly silly, this game moves me deeply.  I celebrate these moments for the blessing that my ‘wretched redhead’ is here at all. 

. . . R e w i n d . . . November 2007 . . .

Countless animals in need cross my radar daily, and I routinely fall in love about five times a day.  Like most in animal welfare, I’ve developed a thick skin, lest I collapse in a puddle of despair for my inability to save them all.  Always front of mind is the fact that working to support those in the trenches — in rescue, transport, etc. — is how I can contribute the most.

Plus, while I want to save that funny/only a mother could love /gorgeous/desperately deserving creature (every one of them is), the commitment to my existing (aged) pack means first preserving their comfort and joy.

So in November 2007 there I was, falling in love but holding fast as usual.  I received an alert from friend/rescue rockstar Connie Theil about “Peanut,” a “little 2-year-old Doxie” who’d been pulled a day before she was to be euthanized.  “I’ve got her,” said Connie.  “She’s fearful and kinda crazed; will you put the word out?” 

My usual reply was:  “Done.”  That day, it was:  “I’ll take her.”  Clearly greater things were at work.  I didn’t think; didn’t see a photo; didn’t ask questions.  And didn’t have a moment’s doubt.

I collected “Peanut” (in a crate) the following day.  In our garage I opened the crate and car doors, and let her settle.  In time I was able to get her in the house, where she crouched in a pillow-stacked corner for two days.  Eventually she came upstairs, and finally into my lap. 

She was beautiful, but she was no Doxie (a breed which, to my disbelief I’d fallen for years before), and not two, but almost five.  She was extremely fearful.  Laptime and bedtime were challenging — one wrong move frightened her, putting her in defense (read: attack) mode.

Introducing friends and family to Lula (her former name was laid to rest along with her previous life) was handled with great care.  She remained fearful and on guard.  One day each month, when the new issue comes in, 14 people come to load up to distribute it.  While here, the awesome people who deliver Spot pop in, chat, and sometimes stay for coffee or a bite.  We call it “Truck Day,” and it’s a circus (in a good way). 

As months passed it was a joy to see Lula graduate from having to be held when new people arrived to being able to move about normally, greeting visitors with relative ease.  It was wonderful to hear, again and again, “She’s come sooo far.”

Who rescued who

Lu’s been with us almost four years now, and while each of my three is “the dog of my heart,” she is special.  As it happens, just before she hit my radar that November day, I had survived a violent near-death experience myself.  Those first days together we were both extremely fragile, but alive.  Lula had weird bumps on her head, neck and back, which I eventually identified as scabs from the bites of the large dogs she’d been penned with. 

Slowly, over time — in great part thanks to having each other — we both grew stronger.

Strong enough to face the future head high and full of hope.  Strong enough to take on monsters

. . . even that hateful machine in the back 40, laughing all the way.

Yours in everything pet,

*Fear not: all safety precautions are in place :)

Everyone has a gift

One of the coolest things about being part of Spot is that Spot really is part of.  The crew regularly works with rescues, students, spay/neuter orgs, events, fledging pet concerns, and of course you, the public — providing referrals for a variety of pet needs — from health concerns to lost pets, grief support to finding a new best friend.

Of course all of this involves engaging with folks active in every aspect of life with pets.  They are some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.  And we want you to meet them all — our “Monsters” (my fav description for those who are HUGE in their gifts and talents . . . and their generosity with them), and we’re seeing to it that you do.

A few who immediately come to mind when I think of A-Team players . . . Angela Adams of Born Again Pit Bull Rescue . . . Cherie DeLorme of the Muddy Puddle . . .

Barbara Bobbi Roach of Prudential Realty and Oregon Dog Rescue . . . Serena the Queen of All Things Cat . . . . 

The reason these names come so quickly to mind is the level of dedication, magnitude of effort, and the ginormous measure of heart and smarts these folks all demonstrate, in so many ways, day after day.

I’m excited for you to get a peek into the lives of some of the amazing human beings we have the honor and pleasure of knowing.  People who give and give and give . . . working to make a dent in the huge need of homeless, abandoned and abused animals.  I’m also hoping that as you get acquainted you might be moved to join in. 

Everyone has their own unique gifts, strengths, and abilities.  And that means each of us can do something to help.  The good news is, EVERY BIT counts.  Money.  Time — sending emails, answering phones, creating newsletters, addressing envelopes.  Helping at free/low-coast clinics and food banks.  Donating grooming services to help a lovebug get adopted.  Visiting to walk or socialize shelter animals (again upping their appeal to prospective adopters).  It all matters.  Don’t mean to “soapbox” you; I just can’t overstate the importance of every piece of the puzzle — and there are a million of them — representing countless ways and opportunities to help.  You needn’t be a hero in a grand way to truly BE a hero.  Just give.  That’s heroic.

Special thanks to those I mentioned earlier — for their tireless efforts, dedication and love.  And thanks to all of you who help — happily, there are many of you!  You, who phonaed in for a friend in need, you who transported a neighbor’s pet to get fixed (saving potentially unwanted babies); you who gave time, money . . . even you who attend area events (we’re kicking off the season, people, so come out and play!); which support the organizations serving companion animals in myriad ways.

If you’ve got a little time and a desire to make a difference, you can.  If you’d like a few suggestions to explore, please call or email any of us at Spot (see page 4 for our contact info), or visit Spot to the Rescue on Facebook.

The need is high, but so is our power when we work together.  And if you’re looking for a little excitement in life . . . come and get it!

Yours in everything pet,

Bless the fosters

Jennifer Mccammon with Peach, Lula and ScoutWe had a Jack Russell Terrier with us at Spot’s House this month, a little girl who’d been bounced around until finally landing  Nowhere — that place you reach just before Nowhere To Go.

We’ve always had four here at home, and anytime the pack has diminished to three, we’ve been found by a foster in need.  We’ve had great luck:  the pack has done well, and the fosters have found the BEST forever homes.  After losing Broadway just before Christmas I figured we’d see a new arrival in the not too distant future.  Still, I wasn’t “there yet” when this little girl’s need arose.  But I couldn’t turn her away.

So little Lexi joined us.  All went well at first.  Sweet as they come, Lexi had her challenges.  Her skin allergies common to Jacks were healing thanks to a simple dietary change, and her funny sideways gait and bobbing head from brain-related motor-skill impairment were more endearing than problematic.  She’s no dummy, just a little wobbly.

So there we were with our new little brown-eyed lamb.  I figured we had months to find her forever family.

Then she turned she-devil . . . on blind, TINY, 10-year-old Scout.  The first time Lexi attacked her without warning, Scout screamed her siren until I could extricate her neck from Lexi’s jaws.  I held her, both of us quaking from the unexpected violence. 

I kept careful watch after that.  Still, it happened again.  I knew then that no matter the precautions, this was playing with fire.  After the second unprovoked attack (everyone was lounging!), Scout cried long afterward.  And while she’s tiny, she’s tough.  I was heartsick.

So I shifted into looking for another safe harbor for sweet Lexi (she IS sweet!  Aside from her prey-drive apparently triggered by Scout, she’s a loving, smart, obedient little girl).  As one door after another closed, I pressed on, filled with dread.

Among those I reached out to was a friend who just weeks before had asked for help finding a JRT.  We hadn’t talked since, so I didn’t know if he’d found one.  He hadn’t, and he wanted to meet Lexi!!!   I made sure her “special” traits were clear.  Clark said, “That’s my dog.”

And what do you know — she was!  Clark and Lexi (now Daisy) found each other and love the same day.  As they prepared to leave I had to excuse myself.  Treading the narrow wall of no answers in sight — while vigilantly monitoring Scout’s safety and Lexi’s sense of normalcy so as to not add damage to a girl who’d already endured too much — had taken a toll.  After indulging in a 90-second fit of wailing in the furthest-most bathroom at Spot’s House, I returned to celebrate our girl home — in the arms of a man in love.

This might be my last venture in fostering for awhile.  But, it might not.  My biggest lesson here was how much I didn’t know about breed tendencies.  And with my current population of little old-lady couch potatoes, that matters.  So, yeah.  We might see a number 4 any day.  But if we do, you can be sure it will be one who’s completely at ease with a few small, older, lay-abouts.  One of whom “has a V for Victim on her forehead due to her age, blindness and diminutive stature,” according to the Jack rescue.

Whoever comes, if they do, they will be loved.

Please join me in thanking the fosters.  And also the rescuers, transporters, and those working in spay/neuter and all areas of animal welfare making a difference every day, in so many lives.

Thanks too, to Ann and Clark, for following their hearts to meet a little girl . . . and transforming her future  >in the blink of an eye<  from grim to glorious!

Pet foster parents work tirelessly to attain the skills necessary to provide animals who’ve endured abuse and neglect with the environment, training and love so desperately needed and so critical to helping transform them from undesirable to irresistible.  It’s a huge job, and sometimes a lengthy one.

As you read this issue about what goes into the making of a Good Dog at any age, don’t miss the turnaround tales of Kevyn and Mele, two Pitties rescued from a dog fighting ring.  Their stories include shining examples of foster parents who gave the time, love, discipline, and exercise required to build the bridge to get them home . . . at last. 

Just before press time we learned that Kevyn — on the cover with foster dad Brian — had found his forever family.  Soon, we hope to hear the same for Mele.  Until we do, we can rest assured she’s in very good hands. 

Bless the fosters. 

Yours in everything pet,

. . . and the winners are

Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

Allow me to introduce your 2011 Top Dog Award winners.  You voted for “the Best in the [pet] Biz” in 28 categories last summer, from attorney to groomer, veterinarian to trainer, and “everything pet” in between.

In this third year of the Top Dog Awards, it was you, our readers, that made it a blowout.  You tripled this year to nearly 1500 voters, and it shows!  As we tabulated the results we quickly realized what a dramatic impact you’d made — bringing new players into the spotlight, new businesses into top position, and generally intensifying the competition in a way that made it so much more exciting (I love nail-biters).

Of course you’ll find too that some of our leaders continue to hold top spots, and that’s really something to be proud of!  You can be sure they are . . . as well as very gratified to receive your esteem.

Inside you’ll find quick features on some of the businesses who made strong showings or remarkable strides this past year  — please take a peek at the stories on Parkway Veterinary Hospital, The Muttley Crew, Multnomah County Animal Services, Stay Pet Hotel and others.

In fact, I hope you’ll peruse through and acquaint yourselves with ALL of the wonderful merchants and practitioners inside.  We’re blessed here in the Northwest to have such a deep, rich field of talent in the animal “arts,” “sciences,” and welfare arenas, and the more you know who/what’s out there, the better equipped you’ll be when a specific need arises in the year ahead. 

This edition is built to pull apart, so at month’s end just peel off the outer pages and keep your 2011 Top Dog Pet Directory in a convenient spot near the phone or computer for handy reference to everything pet in the Northwest.  The Directory will be distributed at pet events all year as well, so come out and play with Spot this season, and grab one for a friend.

Thanks again for voting this year, and many thanks to all the wonderful businesses and practitioners who participated, who support Spot, and who do so much to uplift, enrich and educate our pet-loving community.  A pat on the back and a great big round of applause to you, winners all!

Yours in everything pet,

RIP Broadway 1996 ~ 2010

Lullaby for Broadway

My “heart on wheels” left us just before Christmas after having a number of brain-related events.  Broadway will be forever dearly missed, by me, her family, and her fellow four-leggeds here at home.  One friend described our precious girl this way ~

Broadway . . . was Love.

We give thanks for the blessing of the time we get to have them share our lives.  I wanted to share her passing with you as so many of our friends in this amazing community knew and loved this hardcore lovebug. 

Off we go!

Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

Happy 2011!  I love the energy, hope and promise of new beginnings.  This year I find myself looking back a little, even while dreaming forward.

Together this past year you, Spot, and the animal welfare community have accomplished great things, made amazing new connections, and weathered formidable hardship.  The key word here is weathered. Translated, that means we made it through.  Hanging tough together, never giving up the dream, putting one foot in front of the other . . . we got through these past months in what has been a hugely challenging time for us all.

Here’s to a 2011 we’ll long remember — for all good reasons! 

It’s exciting to move ahead with great additions to our organization that a year ago existed only in our imaginations.  Following are a few of them — projects now in motion that will be fun to watch grow this year, that you might even like to get involved in.  Because so much of what we do involves “cause,” the more the merrier!

Spot to the Rescue.  Megan Mahan launched Spot’s new Spot to the Rescue Facebook page two months ago, and I’m excited to see it grow.  Here you’ll find alerts for needed foster pet parents, transports, forever homes and more, as well as stories of “happily ever after,” and tips and tidbits on topics related to all areas of animal welfare.

Spot’s nonprofit side is now being formalized, which will allow us to pursue projects we’ve been eager to get to.  While somewhat diverse, these efforts are all geared toward helping this community save time and money in rescue, foster care, spay/neuter, adoption, free and low-cost food supply and vet care, and of course, saving more lives. 

Spot’s House. Jake Faris and Vonnie Harris have done great work on our “Spot’s House” website, and plans are many for new additions in the months ahead.  As Spot’s House continues to welcome more visitors, we’re working to ensure you enjoy stopping in often — serving up fresh stories and photos, activities and opportunities to enjoy the company of other animal lovers.

Today, the crew is getting to work on your “Best in the Biz” Pet Directory of 2011 Top Dog Award winners.  We’re delighted that so many of you voted (your votes tripled this year!), and we can’t wait to get you this special edition.  Profiling the best in the pet biz by popular vote in some 40 categories, this is your guide for the best in everything pet — the next best thing to a referral from a trusted friend.

There’s more, but enough for now.  I look forward to hearing from and working with you in 2011, and it’ll be fun months from now to pause and say, “See? Toldja it was gonna be a sweet year!”  Let’s make it so — together.

Here’s to a thriving, fun ‘11!  It’s a huge gift to hear so often how much you love Spot, and I hope you know how much we love you, and serving this amazing community — one in which while we may not agree on everything, we all agree on this:  every animal deserves to be healthy, safe, happy and loved.

Cheers!  The best is yet to come, and I’m so glad we get to discover it together.

Yours in everything pet,

A very good year

Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

December has always been for me a time to reflect on the happenings of the year ending, and at the same time to dream a little dream for the new one just beginning.

2010 was amazing for Spot in so many ways. On the heels of a VERY difficult ’09, it was a brilliant surprise to wrap the year with a very successful Top Dog Awards event and a rockin’ “Best in the Biz” directory. Altogether it felt like what I would imagine it feels like to collapse after blasting through the tape of a scrappy marathon — legs on fire, eyes tearing, and a heart and mind stunned at the breathtaking realization: We Made It!

Soon we segued into a year of huge growth and change. Among the victories this year: In October, Spot’s website chalked up over 10,000 hits in one month (beautifully capping its first year), our new Spot to the Rescue page on Facebook took off with a vengeance, our ‘new kids on the block’ in Silverton made a great addition to the crew, and several new partnerships helped make a dent in the matter of spay/neuter. Not a bad year-end report!

We’ll put this one in the cellar with a pretty label that reads; “a very good year.”

As I write to you today I’m taking care not to launch into a tangent about new projects on the boards. 2011 hasn’t even begun, and already the roster is fat with new developments, programs, and partnerships. You’ll hear about them soon, but for now I’ll just tell you: 2011 is going to be amazing!

All my love and appreciation to you, our many dear friends, readers, and partners in animal welfare and the pet biz. This adventure has been grand, relentlessly educational, challenging, and above all, a Work of Heart. Thank you!

I wish you holidays filled with love, comfort and joy. And, of course, the gift of the precious animals we get to share it with.

Yours in everything pet,


Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

Those of you who’ve been with us awhile know the Spot crew is hard working, fun loving . . . and that we tend to regard the pet community as family. In fact, I call our website “Spot’s House,” and our always simmering think-tank “the kitchen.”

And baby, lately, the kitchen at Spot’s House is cookin’!

Our tech hotshots, Jake and Vonnie, have been busy updating “Spot’s House” — this month adding a rescue page (tied to both the website and Facebook), featuring postings of adoptables, and needed fosters and transports. Willamette Valley crew members Megan and Marnie will manage this, and are at your service to post things needed, as well as happy endings (needs met). I’m excited to see this develop, as it is no less than love in motion. Please let us know if we can help, and be sure to visit and share!

Another new addition to the website is David Child’s photography classes. I never anticipated we’d be hosting classes, and with such talent at the “chalkboard!” David’s tricks of the trade are easy to learn and apply, and his lessons are specific and easy to follow. This month’s focus: cropping and ratio. Best of all? Turns out the key to exquisite shots isn’t the gear; David says it’s your awareness of the present moment. 

Another new addition to the Spot family is the special education class of Silverton High School. Silverton companies have helped us build them a delivery route, and Jake and I met with the students last month, welcoming them to the fold and prepping them for their new job (they already do dogwalking, a little doggie daycare, and make/sell treats toward building their vocational and life skills). This adds another wonderful new room to Spot’s House.

The kids have been busy with homework that their teacher Mary Rankin developed around the magazine, and in the weeks and months ahead they’ll be sharing with us their notes and photos, stories and ideas.

We’re delighted to welcome these kids and their teacher and aids, and eager to follow the adventures to come! I love powerful models like this: proof that it takes so little for so many to connect, learn and thrive. Growing our communities takes a little effort, sure, but the rewards are far greater.

Please welcome the class of Silverton High School! To the Silverton businesses who’ve welcomed the kids, and allowed us to make Spot available to their guests and customers, Thank you! — They are: Silverton Fitness, LePooch Grooming, The Oregon Garden, Silvercreek Animal Hospital, Silverton Public Library, Silverton Senior Center and Wilco.

Come hang out at Spot’s House! We want to show off our latest additions (plus we love hanging out with you!).

A final, quick note: we’re now busy preparing for the Top Dog Awards. If you get a call from Spot in the weeks ahead, and we’re speaking in hushed tones, you’ll know you’ve won. A great deal of prep precedes the awards celebration in January, and it has begun. Thanks to all who voted (you TRIPLED last year’s vote count!), and for all you winners: talk to you soon. ‘ )

Yours in everything pet,

Neat trick: wrapping the year with a bag o’ treats

Jennifer McCammon with BroadwayThe pet event roster wrapping the 2010 season is huge! We must be in the Northwest, because rain or gray, dark or chill, WE PLAY!

Doggie Palooza

I am SO excited for this day of fun at the World Forestry Center Sunday, Oct. 24. This is the only day each year that pooches are welcome into the beautiful space on the hill (adjacent to the zoo), for a full day of pet-related fun and discovery. This is also the 2nd-largest pet event of the year in Portland — don’t miss it!

Calling all Cover Models

This year we’re conducting Spot’s Cover Model Search for Portland-area beauties at Doggie Palooza, featuring renowned photographer, David Childs. Not only will all who enter receive a “David Childs” of their very own, but this year’s “studio” is GORGEOUS. Spot friends Jennifer and Lauren at WFC placed us against a glass wall, behind which is the most beautiful water feature — the prettiest backdrop ever! That, coupled with our leading NW photographer means participants are sure to go home with quite a treasure. Plus, all who enter will appear in the February 2011 issue of Spot, and the winner will do a professional shoot with David, for their very own cover.

On the cover this month is wonderful Yozzer, winner of Spot's 2010 Willamette Valley Cover Model Search. Yozzer went in studio with the talented Walt Grondona of Eugene (thank you, Walk!), and all who entered, shot by Marnie McCammon this spring and summer, are featured online and in the magazine on page 18. Take a peek - smiles guaranteed!

Let’s Walk!

Also at Doggie Palooza, Spot will host Spot Walks at 11am and 3pm. Come get your Tshirt, PETometer (which clips onto the collar and counts canine steps), and access to the Spot Walks InfoLine, featuring walking routes and health and fitness tips. The WFC, perched atop the hill that is home to Washington Park, is rich with walking trails that are perfect for Spot Walks. Join us!

Other highlights at Doggie Palooza include a canine Halloween Fashion Show, a Pooch Parade with prizes in three categories, tons of vendors, and an unforgettably fun day.

Like a bottomless plastic pumpkin, this month is FULL of treats! Others include Willamette Humane’s Boo Bash Oct. 16, Pet Spooktacular at Jantzen Beach Oct 23, a bake sale at the new InBark (check out this cool new indoor dog park in Tigard) to benefit canine cancer Oct. 9, and more.

Grab your sweet pumpkin and come out and play! October is prime time for fun with our pets,

Good times

Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

What a season!

Since Spring it feels like we’ve transitioned from walking through mud to flying like the wind! So often when I meet you here I have so much to tell you I’m bursting to share! 

First, thanks everyone for a great Hot Dogs, Cool Pups event presented by Save The Pets in Eugene last month. What a blast! It was great to see everyone, it was a perfect day at Alton Baker Park, and the event was a great success. Great job you guys! 

As we move into September there are many ways to revel in the last days of summer warmth and sunshine. 

Those of you in the Portland area, please come out 1st Thursday Sept. 2 for our first Spot Walk, “Diamonds in the Pearl.” The Tshirts and PETometers are ready, a fun, scenic walk will be led by our great friend and guest Dogwalker, LeRae Hunt of Recess in the Pearl, and the mile-or-so jaunt will land us right in the thick of Sniff Dog Hotel’s grand opening festivities (check out their story this issue). These kids have got it goin’ on, and the evening promises to be a blast. 

Once enrolled in Spot Walks, you’ll get news, tips and alerts about upcoming events, plus access to great individual walking plans we’re developing with the help of our sponsors. Spot Walks are just rolling out, and you’ll want to be a part of the hottest new meetup in town!  

Click here to see August's entriesAnother great program in motion is Pet Photography with the talented David Childs. Haven’t checked it out? Jump in any time — we’ve saved you a seat! David’s got the inside track on the tricks of the trade, and he loves to share. Best of all, he understands that you don’t have to have million-dollar gear to capture priceless shots . . . the power is in the hands of the shooter, and his/her understanding of light, motion, and heart. Aspiring shutterbugs of all experience levels who want to learn to create great photos have a golden opportunity right now to study with this gifted, accomplished photographer. Grab your camera (your point-n-shoot will do just fine) and join the fun! 

Those of you who really know the Spot crew know we love being in the kitchen . . . always cooking up something new and fun, usually designed to make a difference in our community. 

This month’s special is the coupon for discounted spay/neuter. Please grab the one inside this issue, use it, or share it with someone whose animal is not fixed. There’s plenty of additional info throughout this issue, so I’ll close on this particular subject with this: Together we can fix this. So, please — let’s.

What I love about Spot’s bent for cookin’ up new things is that most are fun, functional and purpose-filled. We truly love animals (and people!), and we’re fueled with the passion to make a difference. 

If you ever call and find us unavailable, please be patient with us. Rarely does a week go by that we’re not involved in a rescue, or responding to a call for foster care, food or shelter for an animal(s) in immediate need. At the same time, rarely does a weekend pass that Spot’s not on the scene at events, sharing goodies from our amazing clients, sometimes shooting photos, other times just connecting with pets and their peeps. Stop by and say Hi this month at: the Spot Walk and Sniff Dog grand opening Sept. 2, the Westie Walk Sept. 11, and Dogtoberfest Sept. 25. And circle the date for Doggie Palooza Oct. 24! We’ll be conducting our 2011 Cover Model Search, plus two Spot Walks. We love it when we get to hang out with you, so come out and play!

September 2nd at 5:30!Of course you’re busy, too. So remember you can always connect with us online at or on Facebook. These communities are growing too, and the crew is working feverishly to make this “room of our house” as friendly, fun and purpose-filled as when we’re together on the scene.

Oh! I want to share one last story! But I’m out of space (if this were TV or radio, which we also do, I’d say ‘we’re out of time’). THIS is where our online connect shows its worth. Come let me tell you about an exciting new addition to our crew, a Special Ed class in Silverton whose teacher called to get involved. We’re doing it! Fun, purposeful and filled with blessing . . . exactly what we aspire to concoct in “the kitchen.” Meet me at “Behind the scenes with us” at — you’ll love this story! 

As always, thanks so much for being with us in working, learning, and supporting this community we hold so dear . . . pets . . . and their peeps!

Yours in everything pet,

Turning 5 and making strides

Before anything else, a quick shout-out:


Hey, Willamette Valley Pet People!

You’re a huge part of the Spot community! Have you voted yet? The ballots are open ‘til Sept 30th.

Top Dog Awards honor pet and pet-friendly organizations named best by popular vote for products, services and performance. This is a great way to say THANK YOU! 

Jennifer McCammon with Broadway

Ok, onward. This month there’s much cause for celebration . . . check it out!

Spot’s Transport and Foster Networks are growing! We’re becoming increasingly involved in rescues, and took part in two last month. The first brought 18 cats out of a hoarding situation (story and photos in “Behind the Scenes With Us” the Blog Spot heading on our website). The second involved getting a litter of 8-week-old Pit puppies and six 6-9-month-old Pit and Pit mix pups from So Cal to loving foster homes in the Northwest. Both had happy endings. If you’d like to lend a hand and heart, please sign up online. 

On a related note, we’re currently studying regional transport, foster care and shelters, and we’d love to hear from those of you working in shelters and rescues. We’re working to identify the needs and overlapping resources toward streamlining and maximizing all our efforts. Our goal is to connect existing resources, eliminate redundancy, and improve connections and transparency for all involved — toward saving time, money, and more lives. 

If you work in rescue, transport, foster care or shelter, we’d love your input . . . and there’s an app for that! — (not really, I just couldn't resist using the expression) — but there IS a questionnaire on our website. Please help Spot help — put your 2 cents in about what’s needed, and what’s not. Thank you!

Yep! They’re underway. Spot Walks are meetups for fun, fitness and socialization — for pets and their peeps! The first few are just for fun, as they’re still officially in development. BUT, they’re happening, they’re a blast, and we want you to come play! 


Smile! Photo classes start now 

Spot has partnered with photographer David Childs, who some of you may know from his amazing work on Fences for Fido’s slideshows, as a photo teacher at OHS, or you may even have a framed “David Childs” hanging in a place of honor at home.

This month David begins a series of photo classes right here, and you are gonna love them! Read all about it page 13, and take a seat . . . class is set to begin.

We’re also pleased to announce that David is Spot’s official photographer for the Portland-area 2011 Cover Model Search. This year’s search is happening at Doggie Palooza Oct. 24th at the World Forestry Center. On that note, circle the date for Doggie Palooza! In addition to the Cover Model Search and 2 Spot Walks will be a Halloween costume contest, pooch parade, contests and more.

Spot’s Willamette Valley Cover Model Search, conducted this summer by Spot’s top shooter Marnie McCammon, wraps this month with a last chance to enter at Hot Dogs, Cool Pups Aug. 7 at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. I’ll be there too, so please stop by and say hi!

Finally, in addition to the magazine, Spot’s online media are great ways stay current on what’s shakin’ at Spot’s House. Fan Spot on Facebook, subscribe to eNews, and/or follow us on Twitter. In addition to Spot happenings, you’ll get posts on regional pet events, health warnings and food recalls, broadcasts on rescues in progress, and just-for-fun alerts on everything pet. Sign up for one or all, they’re each a little different, so take your pick of the litter!

Much to celebrate. Thanks for being part of the adventure — we love having you along!

Oh, and speaking of celebrating. Last but not least: Spot turns 5 this month!

It’s our great pleasure to serve, work with, and celebrate this special “birthday” with you! Thank you for 5 wonderful years, and here’s to many more! 

Yours in everything pet,