Inside the show ring at the 2013 National Dog Show

Dogs Unleashed magazine photographer Jennifer Waters attended the 2013 National Dog Show presented by Purina on Nov. 16 and captured some beautiful images of the breed winners as they took to the ring for Group competition.

Here’s a look at her great photos from the show, which airs on Thanksgiving from noon to 2 p.m. on NBC.

The Pekingese requires quite a bit of grooming, even on the judge's table.

The Pekingese requires quite a bit of grooming, even on the judge’s table.

The Bischon Frise focuses on a treat before heading to the meet the judge.

The Bischon Frise focuses on a treat before heading to the meet the judge.

The Norfolk terrier often is confused with the Norwich terrier. Here's a handy tip: Norwich terriers have pointed ears, like a witch's hat, while a Norfolk terrier's ears are down.

The Norfolk terrier often is confused with the Norwich terrier. Here’s a handy tip: Norwich terriers have pointed ears, like a witch’s hat, while a Norfolk terrier’s ears are down.

The bearded collie, despite the name, looks nothing like "Lassie."

The bearded collie, despite the name, looks nothing like “Lassie.”

Schnauzers come in three sizes: Giant, standard and  miniature.

Schnauzers come in three sizes: Giant, standard and miniature.

The American foxhound shows his stuff.

The American foxhound shows his stuff.

The Portuguese water dog is the same breed as Bo and Sunny, the famous dogs currently residing in the  White House.

The Portuguese water dog is the same breed as Bo and Sunny, the famous dogs currently residing in the White House.

The German shepherd dog strikes a perfect pose.

The German shepherd dog strikes a perfect pose.

The Pembroke Welsh corgi, shown here, is slightly different than the Cardigan, which has a tail.

The Pembroke Welsh corgi, shown here, is slightly different from the Cardigan, which has a tail.

The locks on a Puli form naturally and feel a bit like felt.

The locks on a Puli form naturally and feel a bit like felt.

This Brittany spaniel zeroed in on our photographer.

This Brittany spaniel zeroed in on our photographer.

It's understandable why the Komondorok (referred to as the Komondor) is a fan favorite.

It’s understandable why the Komondorok (referred to as the Komondor) is a fan favorite.

Yes, there's a whole lot of skin, and weight, to the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Yes, there’s a whole lot of skin, and weight, to the Neapolitan Mastiff.

The boxer, standing at attention, is another crowd pleaser.

The boxer, standing at attention, is another crowd pleaser.

This Ibizan hound looks a little perturbed at the handling by the judge.

This Ibizan hound looks a little perturbed at the handling by the judge.

The flowing coat as it runs through the ring is a characteristic of the Afghan hound.

The flowing coat as it runs through the ring is a characteristic of the Afghan hound.

The wire fox terrier was Best in Show at the 2012 National Dog Show.

The wire fox terrier was Best in Show at the 2012 National Dog Show.

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The Samoyed is white as pure snow.

The big dogs enter the ring as part of the Working Dog Group.

The big dogs enter the ring as part of the Working Dog Group.

The wirehaired Dachshund is one of three varieties of Dachshunds. The others are smooth and longhaired.

The wirehaired Dachshund is one of three varieties of Dachshunds. The others are smooth and longhaired.

Beagles come in two varieties: 16-inch and 13-inch.

Beagles come in two varieties: 16-inch and 13-inch.

Despite their appearance, Whippets are not miniature greyhounds (but they are fast!).

Despite their appearance, whippets are not miniature greyhounds (but they are fast!).

Host John O'Hurley is busy at work taping the show for broadcast on NBC.

Host John O’Hurley is busy at work taping the show for broadcast on NBC.

To the winners go the spoils ... and this awesome trophy.

To the winners go the spoils … and this awesome trophy.

Happy Thanksgiving: Behind the scenes at the National Dog Show

Dogs Unleashed magazine sent photographer Jennifer Waters to the 2013 National Dog Show presented by Purina, held Nov. 16 in Philadelphia.

John O’Hurley, host of the show’s broadcast on NBC, is featured in the November/December issue of Dogs Unleashed. To subscribe to the bi-monthly magazine, click here.

Here’s a sneak peek at Jennifer’s photos from the benching area of the show, which airs on Thanksgiving from noon to 2 p.m. on NBC. Stay tuned for more photos from the show!

 

Chauncey, a Hungarian Komondor, shakes off in protest while being blow-dried by owner Denise Wilczewski, just minutes before showing.

Chauncey, a Hungarian Komondor, shakes off in protest while being blow-dried by owner Denise Wilczewski, just minutes before showing.

With all the primping and prepping over, Chauncey waits for his turn in the ring. Owner Denise Wilczewski asked spectators not to pet him, but explained that his fur feels like felt.

With all the primping and prepping over, Chauncey waits for his turn in the ring. Owner Denise Wilczewski asked spectators not to pet him, but explained that his fur feels like felt.

Jenny, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, gets a brush and a little turn with a curling iron to tame a cowlicky tuft of hair. Jenny is co-owned, so she splits her time between a home in Connecticut and one in Massachusetts, depending on her show schedule.

Jenny, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, gets a brush and a little turn with a curling iron to tame a cowlicky tuft of hair. Jenny is co-owned, so she splits her time between a home in Connecticut and one in Massachusetts, depending on her show schedule.

Who can resist a look at the Basset hounds?

Who can resist a look at the Basset hounds?

Yes, there was time for a little fun and a treat, even in the show ring.

Yes, there was time for a little fun and a treat, even in the show ring.

Believe it or not, this big clump of fur is a standard poodle being groomed for the show.

Believe it or not, this big clump of fur is a standard poodle being groomed for the show.

 Daphne, a Westie from Florida, kills time in the bench area watching The Adventures of Tintin on an iPad. Owner Loren Marino, who now uses Daphne as a service dog instead of a show dog, explains that Daphne can use a remote to change channels, and can even turn the TV off if someone tries to watch a show she doesn't like.

Daphne, a Westie from Florida, kills time in the bench area watching The Adventures of Tintin on an iPad. Owner Loren Marino, who now uses Daphne as a service dog instead of a show dog, explains that Daphne can use a remote to change channels, and can even turn the TV off if someone tries to watch a show she doesn’t like.

This standard poodle seems to be a little annoyed with all the goings-on backstage.

This standard poodle seems to be a little annoyed with all the goings-on backstage.

8-year-old Awen, a Gordon Setter, gets his ears wrapped by owner and handler Iris Kaye Frankel. Wrapping keeps the freshly washed and dried ears from dragging in dog food when Awen gets a meal.

8-year-old Awen, a Gordon Setter, gets his ears wrapped by owner and handler Iris Kaye Frankel. Wrapping keeps the freshly washed and dried ears from dragging in dog food when Awen gets a meal.

This golden retriever struck a perfect pose while being readied for the ring.

This golden retriever struck a perfect pose while being readied for the ring.

 Another breed newly sanctioned by the AKC is the Chinook, a sled dog developed in New Hampshire. Callista, shown here, was one of two Chinooks in the National Dog Show, both owned by Karen Hinchy of New Jersey.

Another breed newly sanctioned by the AKC is the Chinook, a sled dog developed in New Hampshire. Callista, shown here, was one of two Chinooks in the National Dog Show, both owned by Karen Hinchy of New Jersey.

 Tango, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, is the No. 1 Podengo in the country, according to owner Stacy Faw of Florida. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno was just recognized by the AKC.

Tango, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, is the No. 1 Podengo in the country, according to owner Stacy Faw of Florida. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno was just recognized by the AKC.

This Xoloitzcuintle, or Xolo for short, got a lot of attention in the bench area for his unusual hairless skin. Most notable were pale scratches all over the skin, which, according to his owner, go away each time the dog goes in the sun--only to come back next time he gets an itch!

This Xoloitzcuintle, or Xolo for short, got a lot of attention in the bench area for his unusual hairless skin. Most notable were pale scratches all over the skin, which, according to his owner, go away each time the dog goes in the sun–only to come back next time he gets an itch!

Velvet, a 6-month-old Smooth-Coated Dachshund, sleeps in owner Kevin Herkelman's arms after his turn in the ring. Velvet is still learning the ropes as a show dog, and while he's worn out, Herkelman says the young dog is doing well.

Velvet, a 6-month-old Smooth-Coated Dachshund, sleeps in owner Kevin Herkelman’s arms after his turn in the ring. Velvet is still learning the ropes as a show dog, and while he’s worn out, Herkelman says the young dog is doing well.

Afghan hounds line up for the judge during breed judging.

Afghan hounds line up for the judge during breed judging.

Vocalist and ArtPrize artist Martha Cares sings the praises of adoption

Martha Cares and her dog, Poppy, at the contemporary art and sculpture gallery in Sawyer, Mich.

Martha Cares and her dog, Poppy, at the contemporary art and sculpture gallery in Sawyer, Mich.

Editor’s note: This story appears in the September/October issue of Dogs Unleashed magazine.  

BY TRICIA WOOLFENDEN

Poppy is bounding about her fenced-in yard like a bunny. Her white ears flop as she chases colorful plastic rings thrown for her, like Frisbees, by owner and professional singer Martha Cares.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier – a breed that originated in County Wicklow, Ireland – stops only to pick the rings up with her mouth. She then flips each circle, letting it fall around her neck. Some of the rings have worked their way down around her belly. The 22-pound terrier bounces on spring-like feet, collecting rings on her compact body until she resembles a Slinky.

Cares watches Poppy and smiles, speaking in the tone animal devotees reserve for their pets.

“Come on Poppy,” she coos, before tossing another ring.

As Poppy navigates the grass and trees, Cares describes a few of the large stone sculptures made by her artist husband, Fritz Olsen. The fluid figures populate the garden-like area behind the Sawyer studio and gallery space they’ve established inside a former azalea nursery. Olsen and Cares restored the structure – originally built in 1939 – and converted it into a regional arts destination.

Poppy, a daily visitor to the gallery, is in her element. The July evening air is heavy with humidity and mosquitoes, but neither Poppy’s nor Cares’ spirits flag. They’re a good match and it is clear that Poppy has inspired Cares, both as an artist and as an animal lover.

ART FOR THE SAKE OF ANIMALS

Those who made the trek last year to downtown Grand Rapids for the fourth annual ArtPrize may very well be familiar with Poppy’s form. Cares used the dog as the model for her first-ever ArtPrize entry “My Rescue.” The large-scale piece consisted of five inter-locked silhouettes of a dog. As is typical of Cares’ work, it struck a chord with audiences.

Martha Cares' ArtPrize exhibit this year features cats and kittens. She blended the cats with her "My Rescue" for these creations.

Martha Cares’ ArtPrize exhibit this year features cats and kittens. She blended the cats with her “My Rescue” for these creations.

“I had no idea how well-loved the sculpture would be,” Cares says of the piece. She frequently sells smaller versions in her gallery and through online sales.

The simple steel sculptures of “My Rescue” were each painted in a primary color – red, orange, yellow, green, and blue – with no other details, save for three black dots to represent the eyes and nose. The four-foot-tall dogs – created from a sketch of Poppy and carved and cut by Olsen – were lined up in a neat row in front of the fountain at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

“I couldn’t have asked for nicer people to work with,” Cares says of the museum staff, including museum Deputy Director Jim Kratsas.

Cares will return to the same venue for ArtPrize 2013. This time she will present “Homeward Bound – Happily Ever Rescued!” The piece is similar in size, scope, and style to “My Rescue,” but uses larger-than-life cats in place of dogs.

The animals have changed, but the message is the same. Cares aims to start a dialogue about pet rescue and welfare in the United States. To quote her artist statement from 2012: “In America, six to eight million animals are taken in by rescue organizations and shelters each year. Saving the precious life of an animal through volunteering, adoption, or donations moves well beyond rescue of a fellow living creature, for through these generous acts of love, we too are rescued.”

Cares became familiar with the issue of animal rescue and adoption when she met Kathryn and Jack Scott through Save A Stray in St. Joseph. The couple (who now work with animals via Paws of Hope in Buchanan) had acted as Poppy’s foster parents.

“Their dedication and commitment to finding the right homes for their animals and their love and care was inspiring and wonderful,” Cares says.

Cares has teamed this year with Trudy Ender and Tammy Hagedorn with the Humane Society of West Michigan. She is working with the organization to promote animal rescue through her ArtPrize entry. She also hopes to raise funds for the animal rescue organization.

“There are some special things in the works for this,” Cares says.

A LIFE GIVEN TO ART (AND ANIMALS)

Visual art is something of a new public platform for Cares, who is known professionally for her vocal talents. She appeared in more than a thousand performances of the national Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera” and has loaned her voice to national commercial campaigns, including for McDonald’s and United Airlines. She still regularly performs in Michigan and beyond.

Martha Cares poses with one of her full-size "My Rescue" sculptures outside the gallery.

Martha Cares poses with one of her full-size “My Rescue” sculptures outside the gallery.

But even as she made a career using her voice, Cares enjoyed painting during her downtime. She even occasionally contributed her works to charitable causes: “I liked to do something quiet.”

“Art encompasses everything I do,” Cares says. “The arts enrich our lives and they can change our lives.”

Cares finds a parallel between what the arts can do for society and what an unwanted pet can do for an individual: “Rescue dogs can change our lives in a positive way.”

Certainly, Poppy has been a force of change in Cares’ life. After losing her beloved Peachy more than a decade ago – the Lhasa Apso was 16 when she passed away – Cares was reluctant to get another dog. It took meeting Poppy to help her finally get past the pain of losing Peachy.

“It took me eight years to be ready,” Cares says.

Olsen and Cares have made their Sawyer gallery a dog-friendly place where people routinely stop in just to say “hi” – both to the couple and to Poppy.

As Cares talks about art and animals, Poppy half-heartedly pursues a small flying insect that has followed her in from the yard. After a minute or two of chase, Poppy drops to the cool cement floor and relaxes into a pile of fur.

“Poppy is surrounded by art, music, and good people,” Cares says.

It’s the kind of life Cares would like to see for all of the unwanted, forgotten, and otherwise overlooked pets in the country: safe, simple, and forever.

About the author: Tricia Woolfenden recently returned to Grand Rapids after living in South Florida for four years. She writes about the environment, wildlife, music, art, and culture for a variety of publications and is researching and writing a nonfiction book about wild birds. Though she’s a devoted “cat lady,” she loves all animals and hopes to one day welcome a golden retriever into her family. Contact Tricia at twoolfenden@gmail.com.

A little giving goes a long way for dogs at Kent Co. Animal Shelter

Mindy Smith Pierman isn’t much different from the rest of us when it comes to shelter pets. When she walks in a shelter, she wants to take every animal home and give them the love they deserve. But the reality is, she can’t adopt them all.

Mindy Smith Pierman showed off the various sizes of Thundershirts donated to KCAS.

Mindy Smith Pierman showed off the various sizes of Thundershirts donated to KCAS.

Still, Pierman was able to make a difference for the dogs at the Kent County Animal Shelter. Tuesday morning, she delivered 55 Thundershirts to KCAS in hopes of relieving the dogs in their care from a bit of the stress and anxiety they face every day.

If you’re unfamiliar with Thundershirts, they’re the snug-fitting wraps that many dog owners have sworn by. It’s based in part on the work and research of Temple Grandin, that constant gentle hugging pressure can calm an anxious pet’s nervous system.

Side note: If you’re not familiar with Temple Grandin, you should read up about this amazing woman. And if you get a chance to see the HBO movie on her life, for which Claire Daines won a Golden Globe, do it!

Pierman’s own dog, a golden retriever named Murphy, was adopted from a shelter. Murphy, like many dogs, gets anxious around loud noises and thunderstorms.

“Last Fourth of July, my neighborhood sounded like Kabul,” Pierman said. “My golden retriever has storm anxiety and noise anxiety and she will literally pace around where I keep her Thundershirt if she feels a storm coming on. I get the shirt and put it on her, and she calms right down.

Mocha 1

“On Fourth of July it was so loud and so bad, and all I could think of was all the dogs here (in the shelter). They’re already under stress and they’re already scared, and there isn’t anybody to comfort them. So, I thought, they need Thundershirts.”

Because the animal shelter is a government organization, it can’t solicit funds like rescue groups. So Pierman solicited some help via Facebook and email and got friends to donate items for a garage sale.The proceeds would go to purchase Thundershirts for dogs at KCAS. Once her neighbors found out what the mission was, they brought items to put in the sale, too.

In all, Pierman raised $1,300 that weekend. And with help from Pet Supplies Plus on Alpine NW and Chow Hound at Breton and Burton, who ordered and sold the shirts to Pierman for a discounted price, it was enough to buy seven Thundershirts in every size to outfit the shelter dogs.

“It was just one long weekend, and this was a girlfriends’ kind of effort. It wasn’t a singular effort… I might have had the idea, but it took a whole lot of people to make it happen.”

Mocha was rewarded for her modeling efforts with a spoonful of peanut butter and cream cheese.

Mocha was rewarded for her modeling efforts with a spoonful of peanut butter and cream cheese.

Pierman points out that Thundershirts aren’t just for thunderstorms, and she hopes they go beyond keeping the dogs at KCAS calm and relaxed.

“They’re for anxiety … separation anxiety, barking issues, thunderstorms, loud noises, that kind of thing,” she said. “And it’s just a stressful situation for these dogs, just the fact that they’re here. Some have been abused or neglected or are in a bad situation. I kind of hope in the end that they may be a little more adoptable because they won’t be acting out and barking and jumping because of stress and anxiety. That’s where this kind of took us on this journey.”

Adam London,  Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department, was on hand for the delivery Tuesday.

“The shelter really is a community shelter,” London said. “The animals here belong to us and it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to take care of them and do what we can to give them a forever home and a second chance. This sort of thoughfulness is important to us because we can provide for basic care and do what we can to make their time with us as enjoyable as possible, however we also know this is stressful for them.

“This helps get them that second chance … when people come in here they are seeing dogs as relaxed and calm as possible.”

 

 

Take time to consider the message of ArtPrize entry ‘Hope Dog’

If you live in West Michigan, you’re probably aware that the wildly popular ArtPrize gets under way next week, from Sept. 18 to Oct. 6.

The international art competition, featuring installations all over downtown Grand Rapids, is free and open to the public. In fact, the public is invited to participate by voting for their favorite pieces, and the top prize is $200,000. For all the information you’ll need on visiting the annual event, including a search function to find entries by artist name, subject matter or location, be sure to check out the ArtPrize website.

An up-close look at Hope Dog reveals it's made of thousands of photographs of dogs.

An up-close look at Hope Dog reveals it’s made of thousands of photographs of shelter dogs.

I ran into one entry this morning as I was delivering copies of Dogs Unleashed magazine, a publication of Pet Supplies Plus. I stopped in to the Riverview Center, an office building at Sixth and Front downtown, to distribute magazines to Tommy FitzGerald‘s restaurant, Cafe Stella.

The restaurant is located inside Riverview Center, and just outside the cafe is an ArtPrize entry called Hope Dog. (Yes, it’s already installed, but you can’t vote yet). I snapped a few photos of the piece, a sort of papier mache-like dog sculpture made up of a collage of black and white dog photos. It has faux fur for the ears and tails, and big brown eyes.

The statement from artist Mercedes Keller accompanies Hope Dog.

The statement from artist Mercedes Keller accompanies Hope Dog.

I also snapped a quick photo of the artist’s statement, figuring I’d take time to read it when I got home (yes, I was in a rush, as usual). I did read it when I got home, and it nearly brought me to tears.

While it may not win the grand prize, I applaud artist Mercedes Keller for her work and especially for her statement. I hope those visiting take the time to read it and feel the same emotions I did. At the very least, I hope all those viewing Hope Dog take time to think about the thousands of shelter pets at the same crossroads.

Hope dog 2

Hope Dog is roughly the size of a medium-sized dog.

Here’s the statement that accompanies Hope Dog:

I bark my greeting as I hear the familiar steps on the concrete floor. The man stops at my kennel and my tail wags in anticipation as he walks me down the rows of my comrades. I bark my goodbyes, feeling a little sad for those I’ve left behind. As I walk I dream of a life with a new home where I can run and smell all the old familiar smells and feel the love of a human again. A tinge of fear lingers as we approach the two doors. To the right, to the right, I plead silently. I remember the cries of anguish from the left door that came creeping out from beneath its darkened chambers. My feet buckle as I stare up, my eyes pleading to the man who now holds my future in his hands. We reach the crossroads …

Only we can write the end to stories like these, with passion, with knowledge, with HOPE.

Mercedes Keller

 

Mary Ullmer is editor of Dogs Unleashed, a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers. Contact her at info@dogsunleashedmag.com. To subscribe to Dogs Unleashed, visit dogsunleashedmag.com, and be sure to “like” Dogs Unleashed Magazine on Facebook.

Thanks to BISSELL Blocktail Party grant, WM Spay & Neuter Clinic reaches 7,000 surgeries

Congratulations to the West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic on performing its 7,000th spay/neuter last week! The clinic, located in Fruitport, opened its doors in October, 2010.

Jessie, a kitten found in a dumpster, became West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic's 7,000th patient thanks to a grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

Jessie, a kitten found in a dumpster, became West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic’s 7,000th patient thanks to a grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

The lucky No. 7,000 was a kitten named Jessie. Anne Munford, director of WMSNC, said Jessie and a littermate were found in a dumpster. The family that adopted Jessie brought her in to be spayed.

Munford was pleased to announce that Jessie’s surgery was only $25, thanks to a grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation. BPF recently awarded its grants from the proceeds of its wildly popular BISSELL Blocktail Party, held each June.

The West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic received a $12,000 grant from BPF, allowing the clinic to continue offering affordable spay and neuter services.

BPF awarded grants to 16 West Michigan organizations to help fund programs that align with its four focus areas of adoption, spay/neuter, microchipping and foster care. This year’s Blocktail Party set a record with nearly $250,000 raised and 800 guests, many of whom brought along their dogs. Pet Supplies Plus, which publishes our Dogs Unleashed magazine, was proud to join forces with BPF as a sponsor for this year’s Blocktail Party.

“The BISSELL Pet Foundation exists to provide support to shelters and rescues so that they can ultimately find a loving family for the millions of homeless pets in our country,” Cathy Bissell, Founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, said in a press release. “We are very proud to support these 16 local organizations with funds from this year‟s party and have been thrilled to see how collaboration between many of these groups is changing the face of animal welfare in our community. I am so thankful that through the BISSELL Blocktail Party our community can show their support for these progressive and compassionate groups. Together, we are working to save lives!”

A breakdown of the BISSELL Blocktail Party grants awarded this year:

Congratulations to all the recipients who work incredibly hard to prevent pet overpopulation and to find homes for all the pets in our already overcrowded shelters and rescues.

Here’s hoping next year’s Blocktail Party, the ninth annual, sets yet another record in its fund-raising efforts to help these wonderful organizations.

 

 

Teaching the next generation about shelter animals through photography

Kimberly Garrett poses with her photograph from the collaboration with HSWM and WMCAT. The dog she photographed for the exhibit has since been adopted.

Kimberly Garrett poses with her photograph from the collaboration with HSWM and WMCAT. The dog she photographed for the exhibit has since been adopted.

By teaching youth about responsible pet ownership and exposing them to the life of shelter animals, Jen Self-Aulgur is hopeful the lessons will resonate as the youth become young adults.

 

Mikal Pichot captured this image of a cat with stunning green eyes.

Mikal Pichot captured this image of a cat with stunning green eyes.

Self-Aulgur, the director of education and community programs at Humane Society of West Michigan, reaches more than 5,000 children and teens annually through visits to classrooms, community programs and the many week-long and “mini” camps HSWM conducts throughout the year.

“Education is the key to anything,” Self-Aulgur said. “If we want animals to stop going to shelters and being euthanized, we need to do it through education and reach the generation of future pet owners. Getting them excited about being advocates for animals is what drives me.”

A recent outreach program was on display at HSWM last week, and the results will be on permanent display at the shelter’s facility in Walker. HSWM teamed up with West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology on a project with inner city youth enrolled in the WMCAT Teen Arts program.

The kids, of high school age, made several visits to HSWM, cameras in tow. Their months-long assignment was to capture animals in the shelter environment, showing through photographs the daily life of dogs, cats and even bunnies who spend their days in kennels, awaiting adoption.

The WMCAT project required several trips to HSWM since animals don't exactly "pose" for photos.

The WMCAT project required several trips to HSWM since animals don’t exactly “pose” for photos.

Dennis Grantz, the lead photography instructor at WMCAT, attended last week’s reception with the students, whose work was unveiled. Most of the photographs were presented on a slide show, while 10 of them were matted and framed for permanent exhibit at the humane society.

Grantz said he had no trouble getting students to enroll in the photography class at WMCAT once they learned the project involved animals. In the past, the class has done “day in the life” projects with various other subjects, including the police department.

“Any time we can involve youth at a level where they can see what day-to-day life is here and what the animals experience is great, but this was an opportunity for them to show that through their photographs,” Self-Aulgur said.

The WMCAT students captured daily life -- and soulful eyes -- of shelter animals awaiting adoption at the humane society.

The WMCAT students captured daily life — and soulful eyes — of shelter animals awaiting adoption at the humane society.

“The quality of the photographs is better than I could imagine gives us a lasting display.”

To find out more about WMCAT, check out their website, wmcat.org. If you’re interested in having Self-Aulgur come to your school or organization to talk about responsible pet ownership or other programs at HSWM, email her at jaulgur@hswestmi.org or call her at (616) 791-8066.

Those outside of West Michigan can contact their local humane society or animal shelter to learn about humane education programs in your area.

 

 

Enjoy Sunday’s Whitecaps game with your pooch!

whitecaps dog day

Sunday is a big day for dogs at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. The Whitecaps, Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, take on the South Bend Silver Hawks at 1 p.m. in the annual “Dog Day at the Ballpark” event.

The event is presented by Ferris State University (after all, Ferris State’s mascot is a bulldog), and fans are welcome to bring their dogs to the game. The first 1,000 fans with dogs will receive a collapsible water bowl for their dog. (It’s also Family Day, so the first 1,000 kids eat free at the game and kids can run the bases after the game).

There’s special seating available for those in attendance with their canine pals, and accommodations have been made to ensure you and your pooch have a safe and enjoyable time at the game.

But wait … there’s more! Before the game, in the ballpark’s enormous parking lot, the 11th annual “World’s Largest Dog Wash” will take place. Bring your dog between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (you don’t have to attend the game to get your dog spruced up) for a $5 bath and help support Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

To order tickets for Sunday’s game, check out the West Michigan Whitecaps website or simply click here.

Dogs, kids and adults delight in first Summerfest pet show

If you’re from West Michigan, you’ve no doubt heard of Coopersville’s annual Summerfest, a week-long celebration of summer that honors Coopersville’s own Del Shannon.

Summerfest has tons of activities throughout the week, including garage sales, tractors on display, farmer’s market, concerts, a race car show for kids and more. It culminates with the awesome Del Shannon Car Show on Main Street downtown on Saturday (cars arrive Friday night with a cool drive around town).

A new event, the Coopersville Hardware & Feed Store Pet Show, was added this year. I had the honor of judging the contests at the pet show. About 30 dogs and many more people attended the event, held in front of the hardware store.

The Humane Society of West Michigan was represented and even brought a dog, Bear, who is available for adoption (he didn’t find a home at the event, but check him out at HSWM).

Also on hand were Carol Visser of Hovingh Dog Training Center in Allendale, who set up and supervised a mini agility course, and Dan Anderson of Tun-Dra Kennels & Outfitters, who did a brief sled-dog demonstration.

Owners Steve and Margo Kol, who renovated the hardware store this past year,  put on a great event and handed out prizes to contest winners. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, which no doubt will be even bigger.

Enjoy the photos from this wonderful event, and be sure to mark your calendar for next August so you and your dog can be part of the fun!

Got a TV-watching dog? Maybe you should check out DogTV

Do your dogs watch TV? Well, they might want to pay attention to this: Aug. 1 is the launch of DogTV, a new station available on DirecTV that is specifically for dogs.

Before you ask,  yes, I ordered it. The first month is free, and it’s only around $5 a month after that, so why not? I’m not sure how much I’ll actually watch — our dogs tend to bark back at barking dogs on TV and even bark at doorbell noises on commercials or shows.

The DogTV website encourages owners to watch with their pets the first time, just to see what kind of reaction the dogs have. You can bet I’ll be right beside our dogs when we tune in for the first time.

DogTV has programming all day and night, every day and night (no word on whether there are commercials, but how else could they afford it?) and, according to their site, offers programming that “helps stimulate, entertain, relax and habituate dogs with shows that expose them to various movements, sounds, objects, experiences and behavior patterns, all from a dog’s point of view.”

The content includes segments that are 3 to 6 minutes in length, broken into different categories: relaxation, stimulation and behavior improvement. The video clip here is just a sampling of the “relaxation” type of programming.

If you think it sounds like a crazy idea, well, it just might be. But when you stop to think about how many American families have pets, and how many American families spoil their pets, well, it’s not so far-fetched.

The folks at DogTV researched the subject and found that dogs that are left alone at home tend to become anxious. They say the calming sounds and music in the relaxing segments on DogTV create a peaceful environment. Some dogs lack stimulation, which become worse when left home alone. Thus, the stimulating segments of DogTV, with “invigorating images, animation and exciting real world sounds to keep them up and running.”

The channel is built around three highly acclaimed pet experts: Nicholas Dodman, program director of the Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University in Massachusetts; Victoria Stilwell, world-renowned dog trainer and star of Animal Planet’s TV series, “It’s Me or the Dog;” and Warren Eckstein, animal rights activist, pet trainer and popular radio broadcaster.

DogTV is available starting Aug. 1 on DirecTV (dogtv.com/directv) and likely will be available to other cable and satellite providers in the future.  You also can subscribe to watch it online through their streaming service.

If you’d like more information before diving into DogTV, I’d suggest you visit their website, dogtv.com, and be sure to check out the FAQ section.

Meanwhile, I’m curious to see how our dogs react to the new channel. I plan to tune in Thursday night to find out!