Celebrity dog ‘Toula’ and trainer to appear Thursday at Future Voices Kids Club in Muskegon

What kid doesn’t enjoy seeing a well-trained “celebrity” dog perform? Heck, what adult doesn’t watch with amazement and wonder where they went wrong in training?

Kids in West Michigan are welcome to attend the Future Voices Kids Club monthly meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at Unity Church of Muskegon (2052 Bourdon St.), where they can meet trainer Christine Mahaney and her dog, Toula.

Toula, a border collie adopted by Mahaney, won PETCO’s “America’s Most Talented Pet” national contest in 2007 and even appeared in the movie “Public Enemies,” starring Johnny Depp. She appeared on “Live! with Regis and Kelly” during Top Dog Week in 2009 and currently has a spot alongside another of Mahaney’s dogs, Cole, in a Chevy Volt commercial, “Morning in Hamtramck.”

Mahaney’s work with Toula is nothing short of amazing, and Future Voices founder Jodi Jarvis-Therrian is hopeful several children (ages 7 and up) will find out for themselves at Thursday’s meeting. The meeting is free, though donations for low income families in need of pet supplies are welcome. Children needn’t be a current Future Voices member to attend.

Jarvis-Therrian started Future Voices Kids Club in January 2011. The club’s subtitle, “Kids partnering with Animals to make a difference,” is the goal of the club.

“There are a lot of animals in the community that need help,” Jarvis-Therrian said. “We help rescues, Pay it Forward low-income pet clinic and even collect food for those who can’t afford to feed their pets. The kids also made a bunch of fleece toys for pets in the shelters because we know shelter pets often don’t have those kinds of things.

“It’s also about educating the kids on the proper treatment of animals, animal-related careers they can go into and the different things you can do with your animal.”

Jarvis-Therrian said she’s had anywhere from 4 to 10 kids attend the meetings, held the last Thursday of every month (the club doesn’t meet in June, July or August). The club also takes field trips and has activities as well as speakers, including previous meetings with a trainer of K-9 arson dogs and another with crisis response dogs.

She would like to see more kids get involved with Future Voices and is hopeful the appearance of Mahaney and Toula, who are from Plainwell, will help draw kids in.

“Christine is a good person for kids to come see,” Jarvis-Therrian said. “She has a good message about rescue dogs being all they can be. They can start out small, but look what they can become. Toula started small (in a shelter) and now she has worked with Johnny Depp!”


3 thoughts on “Celebrity dog ‘Toula’ and trainer to appear Thursday at Future Voices Kids Club in Muskegon

    • Well, I’m bringing a child! My neighbor’s 10-year-old girl just loves dogs and doesn’t have one of her own, so I figured I would bring her along. (I used to borrow my friends’ kids to go to Disney movies, too!).

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