Roadside 
service cats repair spirits

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You know those pithy bits of wisdom we love to hate when we’re having a bad day? Like the saying about a silver lining on every cloud? Three Portland felines don work vests and traverse area highways every day to prove those sayings true.

The feline siblings, Pixie Cat, Dixie Belle, and Sylvan Jinx, show local motorists that a flat on I-205 or a dead battery in the Gorge needn’t ruin a day. They roll with Jesse Dorsett, owner of Jesse’s Roadside Rescue, whose job is changing tires and jump-starting batteries. The cats’ job is cheering the sidelined motorists.

“They really are part of the team,” says Jesse, who has taken his cats along since they were kittens. They were just a few weeks old when he moved to Portland from California. “On that road trip, I realized they do really well in a car,” he says. By the time he’d started his business, Jesse’s cats were pros on the road. “I decided it was my business and I could take them along if I want.” The cats wear yellow vests and leashes on the job, and their images grace the company’s logo and advertising.

Originally an accountant, Jesse’s roadside business follows a long family history. “The Dorsett men working in the transportation business goes back to my great-great-grandfather who, with his brother, ran and operated a stagecoach in South Texas. I am an accountant who likes to rebuild cars.  I studied the double entry system of accounting about the same time I studied ignition systems.”

Dixie Belle posing in front of the Bridge of the Gods

Dixie Belle posing in front of the Bridge of the Gods

Early on, Jesse found the cats helped do more than pass the time on the road. “There was one lady with a flat near the fast lane on I-205, by the grass median, and traffic was heavy,” he recalls. “She was crying and really stressed out. I said, ‘Hey, do you want to meet my cat?’” Sylvan Jinx visited with the frazzled driver, comforting her with his slinky black feline coolness. Soon the woman’s spirits were repaired, right along with her tire.

Mr. Jinx enjoying the ride on the dash

Mr. Jinx enjoying the ride on the dash

Dixie Belle, a gray and white patched Tabby, performed a service miracle for another customer. “She had a flat tire, and she expected a tow truck,” says Jesse. “I didn’t come to tow her; I just came to change her tire. She was a little grumpy about that.” But Jesse says the woman’s mood changed when he asked if she wanted to visit with his cat. “She was happy right away,” he laughs.

For customers who find themselves stranded, Jesse’s cats immediately lighten the mood. Sometimes people have waited an hour or more, growing more frustrated by the minute, and when cats come to their rescue, “it can really make their day,” he says.

Customers agree, posting reviews like: "Best roadside service cat ever!"

Pixie and Mr. Jinx (Haylee holding him) at the Casino in Warm Springs during the eclipse.

Pixie and Mr. Jinx (Haylee holding him) at the Casino in Warm Springs during the eclipse.

For Jesse, who’s on call 24 hours a day, his feline coworkers keep him healthy and sane. “They know what’s up,” he says. “They know when I have people sign their paperwork and I give them a copy, the job is done. And then they know we get to go for a walk. We find a place with trees and we go for a walk.”

Few tales of businesses give so many reasons to smile. “My predilection for auto mechanics, driving, helping people in need, and spending quality time with my fur babies have all come together very conveniently in this business I have worked my way into. Needless to say, I keep good detailed books and do my own taxes.”


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

Kids find comfort in four-legged dental assistants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Peter Christensen

Rojo The Perfectly Imperfect Llama

Rojo The Perfectly Imperfect Llama     

by Shannon Joy; Illustrated by Theresa Johnson    

This simple, beautifully told and illustrated story of Rojo the Llama, is about the handsome redheaded man about town who is loved by so many in the Northwest. A member of Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas, Rojo was a “perfectly" beautiful baby — who won a blue ribbon at his first county fair. By the following year, however, his body had grown — imperfectly according to judges — and his show career was over.

That is where the real magic began…

Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas therapy teams serve Portland and Vancouver areas, providing volunteer and reduced-cost visitation into children’s hospitals, senior communities, rehab facilities and schools.

Since 2007, the teams have completed over 1,000 therapeutic visits, and made appearances at countless private and community events — often supporting efforts to raise funds foranimals and people in need.  

Sweet Rojo is ranked the #1 “Beyond the Showring” PR llama in the world, according to the International Llama Registry, and has been featured in books, on television, Huffpost Live, “O, the Oprah Magazine” and more.

Rojo the Perfectly Imperfect Llama is as special as Rojo himself, and a book to treasure or give as gifts that you can be sure will be loved by recipients of all ages. It is available on Amazon, at specialty farm and animal giftshops, and book stores everywhere. 

Learn more at:  RojotheLlama.com or by searching Rojo the Perfectly Imperfect Llama.  


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

Read to the Dogs program turns 1

Dogs are the best listeners — especially for young readers who need to build confidence. The Portland-area area Canine Therapy Team’s Read to the Dogs program, which originally kicked off at Riverdale Grade School, celebrated its first year in March. The program, in which dogs lend a friendly, patient ear while students read to them, is a hit with kids and faculty alike. Principal Joanna Tobin credits the dogs with helping students "feel comfortable and set aside any anxiety or worries they may have about their reading proficiency.”

Volunteer therapy teams honored

Pet Partners national human-animal therapy organization will celebrate its 11,000 volunteer therapy animal teams with Treats & Sweets Day, a national fundraiser that coincides with the first annual National Therapy Animal Day, May 18.  Across the nation, bakers will whip up treats for people and pets to raise funds for their therapy programs. 

Therapy teams are becoming increasingly popular with hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, veterans and others.  In Portland, Jo Rockower saw therapy dog potential in her adopted Goldendoodle, Max.  She registered with Pet Partners in 2008, and volunteered at various facilities before settling in at The Dougy Center, where Jo and Max participate in a peer support groups for children grieving the death of a sibling, and families experiencing the advancing illness of a family member.  Jo has witnessed firsthand the healing power of Max’s presence and unconditional love.

To become a baker for the Pet Partners fundraiser, visit TreatsandSweetsDay.org.  To learn how to become a volunteer animal therapy team, go to PetPartners.org/TAPInfo.

Therapy program turns one

The Portland Area Canine Therapy Team (PACTT) is celebrating one year of working with hospitals, assisted-living facilities, libraries, homeless shelters and other organizations.

PACTT members Lisa Locke and her dog Moon marked the occasion by visiting residents at Emeritus at Fisher’s Landing in Vancouver. “The residents adore Lisa and Moon,” says Jason Webb, life enrichment director at the center. “Some of these residents have zero support in terms of family or friends, other than what the facility provides. Lisa and Moon bring smiles to those people’s faces and always draw a crowd when they come in.” 

“I’m so proud of what PACTT has been able to accomplish in 12 short months,” says Kathy Loter, PACTT Program Coordinator. “The people and dogs in this program truly bring joy to those in Portland and the city’s surrounding regions.” Learn more at DoveLewis.org.

Therapy Dogs to Visit Participants of Washington State School for the Blind’s Annual Track Meet

PORTLAND, Ore.—On Thursday, May 15, canine and human duos who are part of Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT) will attend the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) Track Meet, happening from 9:15AM-3:15PM at 2214 E. 13th St., Vancouver, WA 98661. Track participants will be able to interact with Misha, a three -year old yellow lab, and Limon, a two-year-old yellow lab, from 9:30AM-10:30AM. 

“I joined PACTT because I've always wanted to share a sweet dog with folks who needed a doggie hug, a doggie kiss, or just some doggie company,” said Jeannie Gretz, owner and handler of Misha. “I finally have a dog who is suitable for this job, and it really is a joy. Misha is very gentle and kind.” 

PACTT is a partnership between DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). The donor-funded program utilizes retired guide dogs (who have completed their terms aiding the legally blind) or career-change dogs (like Misha and Limon) who didn’t go on to become guide dogs for a variety of reasons. In addition to undergoing advanced obedience and socialization skills training, all PACTT program dogs and their handlers also participate in specialized PACTT training. They visit a variety of settings, and recently attended WSSB during an Easter egg hunt for visually impaired students. 

“It is well documented that the relationship between humans and dogs are good for both,” said Adrienne Fernandez, recreation and volunteer coordinator at WSSB. “In addition providing numerous medical benefits, dogs can lift one’s spirit and provide comfort and companionship.” Sean McCormick, assistant principal of on-campus programs at WSSB, adds, “Dogs can reduce boredom and increase socialization. In between events during the track meet, students, staff, volunteers and parents will love to have the chance to pet and visit with the PACTT program dogs and their handlers.”

Students come from all over Washington and Oregon to compete in WSSB’s track and field activities. Participants have an opportunity to network with their peers, build confidence, and experience a sense of accomplishment and success. The track meet, sponsored by the Lions, has been an annual event for the last 50 years.

“This event gives our teams the opportunity to interact with children who may not have their sight but still have the ability to enjoy the love and affection of these wonderful dogs,” said Kathy Loter, PACTT program coordinator with DoveLewis. “They can touch the soft fur and feel the wagging bodies of these amazing dogs who can offer a break from the hustle and bustle of the track meet. And our handlers get just as much out of these visits as the children do!”

About Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT)

Sharing a common belief in the power of the human-animal bond, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind partner to bring animal-assisted therapy to the local community through the Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT) program. Highly trained career-change dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind and their handlers undergo extensive training and assessment through DoveLewis and Guide Dogs for the Blind to complete their certification in animal-assisted therapy. Program teams visit with people in a variety of settings, including: long-term and skilled care facilities, assisted-living communities, hospitals, residential treatment centers, schools and libraries. Learn more at www.dovelewis.org

About DoveLewis

DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Ore., is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. DoveLewis provides donor-funded programs to the community, including one of the United States’ largest volunteer-based animal blood banks, a nationally recognized pet loss support program, a partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind to bring animal-assisted therapy and education to the community, 24-hour stabilizing care for lost, stray and wild animals and financial assistance for qualifying low-income families and abused animals. Celebrating 40 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated over 500,000 animals and has been deemed one of Oregon’s Most Admired Nonprofits by The Portland Business Journal for seven years! For more information, please visit www.dovelewis.org.  

About Guide Dogs for the Blind

Guide Dogs for the Blind (www.guidedogs.com) is more than an industry-leading Guide Dog school; they are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, they prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are legally blind. GDB is a 501(c)3 organization. All of their client services are provided free of charge; they receive no government funding. They are headquartered in San Rafael, California, with a second campus in Boring, Oregon. More than 12,500 teams have graduated since the organization’s founding in 1942, and there are approximately 2,100 active teams in the field. 

About Washington State School for the Blind

Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (K-12) and is a residential school for blind and partially sighted students of school age who are residents of the state of Washington. WSSB serves as a statewide demonstration and resource center and provides direct and indirect services to students both on campus and in the children’s local communities. Learn more at www.wssb.wa.gov.

A new path for career-change dogs

Sarena visiting kids at The Emerson School

Sarena visiting kids at The Emerson School

On a Tuesday afternoon at the Bridge to Independence treatment center in Damascas, OR, a client suddenly went into a seizure.  Here, in a day therapy program for people with traumatic brain injuries, these electrical brain storms aren’t unheard of.  Still, they can be disconcerting for visitors to witness.  As staff worked to stabilize the client, a visiting black Labrador named Flynn quietly watched — calm, still, gazing on with concern.  It was the first time he’d witnessed a seizure. 

When the convulsions stopped, the black dog seemed to know exactly how to help.  “He immediately wanted to come over and see if she was okay,” says Tori Eaton, the program’s occupational therapist.  “He gave her a nudge with his nose and she greeted him.  It gave us a chance to assess how her communication was after the seizure and how she was recovering.  And now we know it’s safe to have him around if someone’s having a seizure.” 

It was only the third time Eaton and her clients had seen Flynn, and the seizure experience further convinced Eaton of what she already knew:  Flynn has become a valuable member of their therapy team.  

“We try to do a placement so it’s the right fit,” says Kathy Loter, who matched Flynn with the brain injury program — one of the first therapy team assignments through Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT), a partnership between DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Loter, who coordinates the program for DoveLewis, trains five teams per month, and matches them with facilities across the metro area.  “There’s a real screening process for our teams before we start the training.  First, at Guide Dogs for the Blind, there’s a face-to-face screening, then an assessment, then a lifelike experience that mimics an actual hospital visit.”  After these steps, the training process starts.  With 25 trained teams to date, Loter envisions many more to come, able to fan out through the community. 

“I want to see them anywhere that they can make a difference,” says Loter.  “We have them in the Kaiser Permanente Hospital, some are going through the volunteer training process at OHSU, they’re in Read-To-A-Dog programs at libraries, several assisted living and rehabilitation facilities, and homeless shelters.”  Eventually, she hopes her teams will comfort witnesses and crime victims in courtrooms, visit crisis shelters, and support people recovering from abuse. 

“I’m passionate about this.  I could talk about it all day, and I want to see it continue to grow. These career-change guide dogs,” Loter adds, “there’s just no better animal.” 

A career-change dog is one who was raised by Guide Dogs for the Blind from early puppyhood to about 15 months.  Training protocol exposes puppies to challenging environments from airports and busy intersections to shopping malls and hospital rooms.  Where other therapy dogs often begin their lives as pets and receive specialized training later, “these dogs have all of it from day one,” Loter says.  After they complete their training, even a skin condition or fear of elevators can prevent them from becoming official guide dogs, but they can still apply their training in other settings. 

The training makes a difference that observers like Eaton can easily see.  “There’s a lot of research that supports animal therapy as a way to engage people, and I can read the research all I want, but to see the changes directly in my clients, that’s extremely exciting.”   

Traumatic brain injuries can leave survivors with gaps in speaking ability, impulse control, social skills, and those needed for everyday tasks such as cooking or dressing.  At the day therapy program where they work to regain their skills, unflappable Flynn has quickly become a supportive friend who’s calm during a seizure, unfazed by sudden movements or sounds, and who interacts just as well with someone who can’t speak as with someone who has full verbal ability.  And these days, Eaton’s clients want to focus their skill-building activities on their new canine pal.  “They want to bake cookies for Flynn.  I’ll ask his handler if he can have homemade cookies, but if he can’t, our next activities will be around making toys or building obstacle courses that they can do together with Flynn.  I’m so glad we have him here twice a week.” 

Nixon visiting adults at The Stafford in Lake Oswego

Nixon visiting adults at The Stafford in Lake Oswego

“Bridge to Independence was a very touching experience,” says Loter, who adds that her human-canine teams face unique challenges at every facility.  “If you’re visiting with a patient who’s 100, you know there’s a real possibility they won’t be there the next time you visit.”  Walking into a hospital waiting room, where relatives may sit silent and ashen-faced while a loved one clings to life, it’s emotionally challenging.  But when a dog gently rests his head on someone’s lap, the oxygen returns to the room.  Color appears in people’s faces.  They break their silence and talk to the dog, and then they talk to each other.  

Careful screening and training prepare therapy teams for the emotionally-charged environments in which they deliver much-needed doses of levity and love.  But the dogs possess a uniquely canine knack for easing through even the toughest moments.  Loter has watched them work their magic time and again. No matter how hard or sad the environment, “The dogs are wagging their tails when they go in and they’re wagging when they come out.”


Michelle Blake lives and writes in Salem with three big dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband. She serves on the Oregon State Council of The Humane Society of the United States and is active with Fences For Fido, which builds fenced yards to free dogs from chains.


Something about that blonde . . .

There’s something about a sweet-spirited, flirtatious, good-looking blonde.  And for the one you’re about to meet, these descriptors barely begin to cover his traits and accomplishments.  Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with him . . .  everyone does, and for good reason. 

He is a talented actor, but wholly unaffected by his fame.  In fact he speaks to his fans daily — over 200,000 of them follow him on Facebook.  He’s been featured in magazines, and has starred in music videos, on television and on stage.  He is also famous for his fierce dedication to eradicating cancer in both humans and animals. 

You might call him an over-Retriever, and go right ahead — he is Parker Pup, and his list of fantastic traits also includes easygoing.  Call him what you like, just be sure to call him for dinner! 

The blonde butterball joined the McFarling family six and half years ago, including two-legged parents, mom (Chris), dad (Dan) and daughter Jenn, and four-legged sister Goldens, Daisy (3), and Sophie (13).  

Named for the former OSU stadium where Dan went to school, Parker’s people created a website to celebrate the life and puppy antics of their adorable new boy.  Photos and videos flowed, showing the little tyke discovering toys, cats, children, the great outdoors, mugging for the camera in sweet and funny outfits, rough-housing with his sister, and executing his increasing repertoire of tricks.  Stealing our hearts with each passing month, and eventually year, Parker Pup grew up right before our eyes.   

The family loved the little guy and took him everywhere — work, church, festivals and gatherings.  A quick study, he sailed through puppy preschool and began obedience, agility and other training, passing the Canine Good Citizenship test at just 11 months of age.  Seemingly destined for great things, about Parker’s ultimate success, Jenn says, “It just happened . . . and we just went with it.” 

Incredibly cute photos and videos continued coming, of Parker and his sister Daisy celebrating birthdays and holidays, showing off Parker’s skills and adventures.  Just for fun, he was entered in a contest.  He won, was increasingly featured on dog-related websites, and his image even appeared on the big screen in Times Square.  Soon he was getting professional gigs in print ads, TV commercials and music videos. 

One big break came as a fluke.  A photo of Parker sent to StuffonMyMutt.com was picked up and printed by Vanity Fair alongside a column on — you guessed it — “Cuteness” in the December 2009 issue.  The McFarlings had no idea until they received a call from a friend living in France.  Jenn says she got the call one evening after celebrating her birthday with friends.  “I was ready for bed, in my pajamas, and ended up racing to the store to find a copy.”  

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

His mellow temperament led Parker to animal assisted therapy work, with Dan as a natural partner. Working for the State of Oregon in the early ‘80s, Dan’s responsibilities included overseeing the rules governing health care facilities.  A firm believer in the power of pet therapy, one of his earliest acts was implementing rules to allow pets in nursing homes.  “Those same standards, which allow resident pets and pet therapy, are in effect today,” he is proud to point out. 

Parker spreads love and hope while visiting schools, libraries and hospitals.  A regular visitor at Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University, he not only soothes fearful  patients and families affected by cancer, but also alleviates stress of staff members.  When providing animal assisted therapy, or AAT, Parker provides more than a healing touch and warm cuddles.  As a performer with many tricks, he is able to break through fear, generate smiles where there were none, and laughter where it is vital.  While patients and staff thrive in his presence, Parker gets his due as well — he loves his work. 

“It’s easy to tell that Parker enjoys the visits,” says Dan.  “As he approaches one of his regular haunts, his enthusiasm is clear.  His ears perk up, his tail wags enthusiastically, and his pace quickens.  His posture tells me he is one happy fella approaching his therapy work!”  (Click here for more on Dan's experiences with Parker's therapy work).

In his work to eradicate cancer and heighten awareness, Parker participates in cancer walks on the West Coast as an advocate for the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), a four-star charity dedicated to funding studies to advance veterinary medicine.  In existence for more than 60 years, the foundation is currently leading a global campaign to cure canine cancer in 10-20 years, while providing more effective treatments in the meantime.  Parker fundraises throughout the year for MAF, as well as the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  He raised over $10,000 last year for organizations working to find a cure. 

Parker’s connection to cancer started before he was born.  In 2006, Dan was diagnosed with an aggressive strain.  He is now cancer-free, but when faced with something like that, “You do a lot of bargaining,” Jenn says.  “I promised I would someday give back and do whatever I could to help.”   

Last year, cancer struck the family again, taking the McFarling’s beloved Daisy at just 9 years old, fueling Parker to gather over 2,100 names for a vest he wore at a cancer walk in the fall, bearing names of people and animals who were fighting or had lost their battle with the deadly disease. 

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker’s love and therapy also shows up in many unexpected places.  In October, the MAF celebrated its 65th anniversary with a Gala of Hope that included honoring longtime supporter and advocate Betty White.  Parker Pup was on the guest list.  Jenn says, “It was quite an honor as he was the only invited dog.” Laughing, she adds, “He actually received a real invitation!” 

Jenn says meeting Betty White was pretty great, saying it’s easy to tell she has a huge heart for dogs.  “When Parker walked into the room, the whole world stopped for Betty.  She stopped mid-conversation and got the biggest smile on her face.” 

Recently, Parker played Sandy in a production of Annie in Forest Grove.  His role of endearing mutt expanded as he provided comfort to the cast, crew and parents of two little girls killed in a hit and run.  One had been cast as an orphan in the show.    

Another recent happening:  Parker has been nominated in the Therapy Dog category of the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.  It’s perfectly fitting — a hero in his family’s eyes and in the lives he touches — the awards celebrate the powerful relationship between people and dogs, recognizing exceptional canines doing extraordinary things.  Online voting narrows the field to three semi-finalists in eight categories, who are judged by a celebrity panel.  A unique black-tie affair televised on the Hallmark Channel celebrates the heroes on both ends of the leash.  (Go Parker!) 

So, what does this remarkable, busy boy do in his off-time?  “He is totally obsessed with balls,” says Jenn.  “If no one will throw one for him, he’ll make up his own games and entertain himself for hours batting at a ball or sleeping with one in his mouth.” 

These days, new 6-month-old little brother Reser (named for OSU stadium’s name today) also keeps him occupied.  

Hoping Reser might follow in his big brother’s paw-steps, Reser’s first step was enrolling in MAF’s Canine Lifetime Health Study.  One in two dogs of all breeds will get cancer; and one in four will die from it.  For Golden Retrievers, the risk is higher, with 60% dying from the disease.  MAF’s groundbreaking study is following 3,000 Goldens over their lifetimes to gain insights into preventing cancer, helping determine risk factors for canine diseases, and improving the health of future generations. 

Other than that, the family says with Reser they’re flying by the seat of their pants.  “He’s his own dog and pretty spunky, whereas Parker was mellow,”  Jenn says.  “He’ll have a job, we’re just not sure what that is yet.” 

If Parker is any inspiration, then wonderful things will happen. 

For more Parker Pup, go to ParkerPup.com and follow him at Facebook.com/ParkerPup

To read more about the Morris Animal Foundation, visit MorrisAnimalFoundation.org.  


Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services in SW Washington.  She resides in Vancouver with Jessie (a yellow Lab), Pedro & Lorali (parrots), three chickens, and memories of Jake, her heart dog who recently passed on. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.

Remembering a Treasured Hero

Excerpted from ACA's Sept. '11 newsletter

We have had many dogs over the years in our Breed who have left an impression.  Some in the obedience, rally or agility ring, others in therapy work. 

. . . Our dream ambassador might have a long and distinguished track record as a therapy dog, working at hospitals, children's camps or prisons.  Excelled in various competitions . . . winning awards from the AKC (ACE) and OHS (Diamond Collar Hero Award).

Oh wait . . . a good therapy dog might also cross into the realm of the National Animal Assisted Crisis Response Team, traveling to console those affected by tragedies such as those at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois Universities. To do this effectively, the dog must be able to read people, knowing when to just “be there” and when to display his fun-loving, willing-to-please personality.

We've been fortunate these past years to know just such a dog, an outstanding companion we recently lost.  His name was Zadok.