Proverbs 12:10

"The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal." Proverbs 12:10

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Reading Retriever

by Abby Goad

Many dogs do not need training to read with you. They're capable of doing it on their own. Check your dog's temperamentFor example, a Flat-Coat Retriever would be good in this project.  Calm dogs used to listening to you talk may enjoy sitting down and listening to you read a new book.

When I was telling my Mom my favorite part so far of a "Harry Potter" book a few years ago, my 12-year-old Flat-Coat Retriever, Gracie, walked in and listened for awhile.  That evening, I read to Gracie and we got through about 50 pages (a whole chapter) of the book.  We both really enjoyed it.

We kept reading every night for 25 to 30 minutes.  That affected Gracie's sleep a lot.  She got more rest.  This is in turn, gave her more energy in the day so she was much healthier.  We played a ton more which was good! It made me very joyful to see her so happy! The reading itself was good for me since I usually don't read out loud.  Reading to a dog is much easier because they don't judge you if you mess up. 

You can read to your dog at home!  It's always good to bond with your pet because it makes both of you happier.  Just like with me and Gracie!! 

(Abby Goad is a young dyslexic writer and an Orton-Gillingham student.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pawz Portraits, Personalize Pups

Twenty-year-old Indian Trail artist taps her talent to help dogs in need

by Deborah Parkhill Mullis

Artist Elizabeth Forscutt of Indian Trail freely admits her training is limited to a high school art course, reading books from Michael's arts and crafts store and watching how-to videos on YouTube. Not that it matters. Forscutt, 20, who said she's been drawing all her life, has natural ability; especially for capturing everyone's best four-legged friend on canvas.

There's more to her proclivity for painting pups, which recently became her profession, than applying paint to canvas. A mutt with devilishly itchy skin, whose vet bills kept piling up, was the inspiration for Forscutt's new business, Pawz Portraits.

She needs to pay for his expensive prescription and special dog food, so she's begun painting commissioned pet portraits. With the proceeds, she decided to help other dogs with medical needs, too.

Portraits come naturally

Though she's never sought recognition, Forscutt's talent has won awards. In elementary school, she won a poster contest in her hometown of West Islip, N.Y. "It was about recycling," said Forscutt, who was awarded a $100 saving bond for her drawing of a nature scene that included a duck with its neck caught in a plastic six-pack ring quacking for help.
As a high school junior, she received a $100 gift card to an art supply store after winning an art tournament at Weddington High School modeled on TV’s “Survivor” series. “I always enjoyed art as a hobby but I never considered making it a job,” said the afterschool group leader at Weddington Elementary School.
Not until Dante, that is.
Dante is an eight-month old pit-bull/lab mix that stole Forscutt’s heart in the parking lot of the Blakeney PetSmart in January. “He was the only white puppy with funny-looking black markings. He looked like a moo cow,” she said, adding that she and husband, Kevin, adopted the nine-week-old puppy on the spot.
Dante was perfectly content frolicking with his furry pal, Stupes the cat, until about a month ago when a mean itch started making him miserable. Diagnosed with probable food allergies, Dante’s veterinarian put him on medication and expensive prescription dog food. But his white coat is still covered with bright pink splotches from nonstop scratching and Forscutt is still searching for a cure.
Painting for prescriptions
Determined to find funds for Dante’s medical expenses, Forscutt came up with the idea of Pawz Portraits. “I loved animals as a kid – that’s all I used to draw,” she said, explaining how she would borrow ideas from her dad’s National Geographic magazines.
Now she borrows ideas from her customers’ pet photographs. “I try to capture their personalities,” explained Forscutt, who has immortalized a standard poodle, a sheep dog mix, and a Pomeranian/Yorkshire terrier mix and, of course, Dante, in acrylic on canvas. A 30-by-40-inch portrait of an Australian shepherd is currently in the works.
Her experience painting with acrylics comes primarily from being a newlywed on a decorating budget. “My husband said to me, ‘Why would you ever buy art when you can make your own?’” explained Forscutt, whose abstracts, landscapes, portraits and still lifes complement every room in the couple’s house.
Lucy, the 12-year-old Australian Shepherd being immortalized in paint,, belongs to Donna Huges of west Charlotte. "She loves swimming and once hid in our whiskey barrel fish pond while looked all over the place for her," Huges recalled. "The entire time, she was right under our noses, with nothing but her head above water. This painting is a tribute to her family loyalty and love."
Forscutt's tributes to canine-human family ties are on gallery-wrapped canvas and don't need a frame, she noted. Prices range from $150 for a small to $300 for an extra-large portrait (30-by-40-inch) with several sizes in between. Forscutt donates $10 from each sold painting to a dog in need.
Currently she is helping Soco, a Troutman dog that needs ligament surgery on both hind legs. Soco’s surgery and rehabilitation will cost a few thousand dollars, so Forscutt is sponsoring a drawing for 50 percent off one of her custom pet portraits. Anyone who donates $150 or more to help Soco will be entered for a chance to win. Read about Soco at
“I absolutely love art and hope this new idea of mine works out so things will start looking up for Dante," Forscutt said. "I love animals, especially dogs, and I will do whatever I can do to make their world and ours a better place."
Forscutt’s art can be seen at For custom pet portraits, contact her at e.l.f.designs@gmail.
This article was published by Union County Weekly,Volume 4, Number 35, * Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2009.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fundraising for pets macho style

by Deborah Parkhill Mullis

Tattooed men in muscle shirts leaned against the porch rails of The Thirsty Beaver Saloon at 1225 Central Avenue in Charlotte. Iron horses waited out in front. Beside the concrete block bar, men hurled things across a gravel parking lot toward one another while a crowd stood in the hot afternoon sun cheering them on.

Was it a Hell’s Angels gathering? No, but it wouldn’t be far off to call it a fur angels gathering. It was the 1st Annual Bags for Wags – a cornhole tournament held earlier this month (August 1, 2009) to benefit The Humane Society of Charlotte.

Cornhole is played by tossing a bag of corn 30 feet into a hole in a specially designed board; bags that land in the hole get more points than bags that lean into the hole so it’s similar to horse shoes but safer because you can’t be knocked out by a little bag of corn. In Charlotte, cornhole is popular at pre-concert, pre-game and pre-race tailgating parties.

Jon Littlepage, Lee Hoech and Mike Hebert are the three men who organized the August event that raised more than $3,300 to buy a new commercial washer and dryer for the Humane Society of Charlotte. “We went on a behind the scenes tour of the Toomey Avenue facility several months ago and that particular need stuck out in our minds when we came up with the idea for a cornhole tournament,” Littlepage said.

Why cornhole? “We’re trying to get more guys involved,” explained Littlepage. “We all have rescues (strays or pets saved from abuse, neglect or euthanasia) and want to raise awareness. Our wives are heavily involved in fundraising so we just followed their lead.”

Maybe so but plenty of testosterone was poured on that lead. There was no chance of winning a big-bowed gift basket or spa day at this event. Instead, the men (and a few ladies) competed for cornhole board sets, VIP parties, backpack coolers and wing platters.

“The coolers hold 18 cans of beer and dispense cans on the sides which really made it cool for most guys,” said Littlepage.

Watson and Roper, photo courtesy of Jon Littlepage

Jeremy Podjuban and Tim Dietrich of Charlotte, who placed 1st in the competition, were rewarded with a Miller Lite/Miller High Life cornhole board set donated by MillerCoors Beer in Charlotte and a VIP Party at Hooters to include 10 friends and all the wings and sides they can eat. Dan Watson and Scott Roper also of Charlotte came in 2nd and won the two coveted Miller Lite Carolina Panthers backpack coolers and a 50 wing platter from Hooters.

Even HSC executive director, David Miller and board member Neya Warren got in the game. Their team, The Fur Balls, placed an impressive 9th in the competition.

Thirty teams registered to play in the ACA (American Cornhole Association) regulation tournament raising the first $1,200. The rest of the money came from a silent auction, raffles and donations. Drink specials ($1 beers) and barbecue ($8 plates) helped bring some 300 spectators out despite the 90 degree heat.

“We were truly blown away by the number of people that showed up and donated. Just a great time all around,” said Littlepage.

Visit for information about pet adoption, donating, events and volunteering.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

GOT FLEAS? Green solutions for what's bugging your pet

by Deborah Parkhill Mullis

Tiny bloodsucking fiends invading your pets and your property tend to bring thoughts of chemical warfare, not environmental friendliness. But is there a safer way to eliminate fleas, ticks and other pests from your pet and your life besides using toxic-pesticide potions?

South Charlotte worker and Wingate resident Carol Alcantara thinks so. She was using a common pharmaceutical formula for flea prevention as prescribed by her veterinarian but her 2-year-old Labrador retriever mix, Baby, became a feast for fleas all the same.

"I was miserable just watching her scratch. Then they started jumping on me and I really didn't like that. I didn't know which one of us to use the flea comb on," said Alcantara, who's originally from New York where hard winter freezes keep flea populations under control.

She tried another flea formula from Baby's veterinarian but that didn't work as well as the first, even though she was instructed to apply it more frequently. "I felt funny about putting so much pesticide on my dog, but I paid $57 for it and thought I should use it," she said.

Fleas were still bugging Baby when Alcantara accidentally found an alternative treatment while flipping through the book "Squeaky Green" by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowery. The authors recommend a solution of clove and eucalyptus oils to safely rid cats and dogs of fleas. With nothing to lose except fleas, Alcantara went shopping for essential oils.

She applied the oils to the inside of Baby's collar, between Baby's shoulder blades and sprinkled some on the sheets where Baby lays on the couch.

"It's not greasy so when it didn't stain the sheets, I started flinging it everywhere. It has a wonderful smell but the fleas apparently hate it because they started moving on after just a few days," she said.

Diana Daffin, owner of holistic pet shop Pawtique, 12206 Copper Way, Suite 136 in Ballantyne, isn't surprised by Baby's story. "We don't have any essential oils in the store right now," she said but agreed that clove and eucalyptus oils, as well as cedar wood oil, all can control fleas.

A couple of items Daffin has in stock are Organic Neem Spray and, for serious flea infestations, Organic Neem Dip. Neem comes from the Meliaceae tree in the Mahogany family. Native to Indonesia and East Africa, the tree is so recognized for its medicinal properties that it has nicknames like "Divine Tree," "Heal All," "Village Pharmacy" and "Panacea for all Diseases" from the various countries where it's found. "Both (products) are all natural and not toxic and can be used on cats, too," Daffin said.

Pawtique also carries food-grade diatomaceous earth which kills fleas by destroying their exoskeletons. A sedimentary rock made from fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae knows as diatoms, its abrasiveness makes it a mechanical insecticide that dehydrates bugs by scratching off their protective waxy coatings. It can be used safely on everything from lawns and gardens to carpets and upholstery. It even can be dusted directly on pets. Daffin said diatomaceous earth is so safe that it can be added to pet food as a de-wormer.

To kill indoor fleas, Daffin recommends leaving it on carpeting overnight and vacuuming it in the morning. Because of its abrasive quality, avoid inhaling diatomaceous earth by wearing a dust mask while spreading it, especially outside in windy conditions.

Atrium Animal Hospital, 6520 McMahon Drive in Charlotte, carries a flea and tick repellent spray by Quantum Herbal Products that is 100 percent natural. It also contains eucalyptus oil and neem in its list of ingredients. Atrium owner and veterinarian Kim Hombs said soaking a bandana in essential oils and wrapping it around your pet's neck is another technique pet owners can use.

"Essential oils need to be applied daily if there is daily exposure (to fleas or other insects)," she said, cautioning pet owners to apply essential oils to places pets can't reach in the same way as a pharmaceutical flea formula because neither treatment should be ingested. Hombs added that good nutrition and a healthy immune system go a long way to prevent flea problems.

The first thing Elizabeth Williams of The Natural Marketplace, 8206 Providence Road, Suite 1800 in The Arboretum, wants to know from owners of pets with flea problems is what they're feeding their pets. "You have to use quality feed," said Williams, who has a selection of high-quality pet food with human-grade ingredients.

Animals on a healthy diet are more resistant to disease and infections, she explained. When fleas hitch a ride on cats or dogs with a good nutritional foundation, those pets are far less likely to end up with an infestation.

The store also carries garlic and brewers yeast tablets for dogs which will make them less attractive to fleas and ticks if they eat several a day. However, nothing works as well as keeping your dog and yard clean and watching what your pets eat, Williams said.

This story was published in South Charlotte Weekly.  

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chasing Flies and Laughing Dogs

I rarely need a fly swatter in the summer because my dog, Blanco, will relentlessly pursue any fly that dares to invade our house, corner it and fight the unlucky insect to its inevitable death. What can I say? He’s part terrier and it saves me time. I just have to sweep up the remains. I’m even guilty of sicing my dog on any suicidal flies that I see first. All I have to do is point and go “BZZZZZ” and he’s on the hunt. (Writing can be very lonely so I have to stop and entertain myself somehow from time to time.)

My other dog, Okami, usually watches this spectacle without emotion. Today, however, was different. While chasing a buzzing kamikaze, Blanco ran underneath my desk and banged his head on the keyboard tray, jarring it and startling us both. I stopped typing and Blanco stopped stalking. Then came the victory buzz of the fly that got away from my entomologic hell hound. Blanco hung his tail down in defeat.

The most amusing thing to me, however, was Okami’s reaction to this slapstick scenario. Watching from her bed beside my desk, she was wearing a canine grin from one prick ear to the other, her tail wagging furiously. Now Okami is a quiet, shy, serious-natured dog that is not given to much fast and furious tail wagging. Even when she’s getting her favorite food or treat, it’s more of a slow and steady sway.

So please forgive me for my anthropomorphic tendencies (occupational hazard) but I do believe Okami thought the sight of her brother being outwitted by a fly and banging his head in the process was pretty dog-gone funny. And poor Blanco just looked embarrassed by it all. Which raises a couple questions in my mind: Do canines have a sense of comedy?Do other people use their dog as a green solution for household pests?  Deborah Parkhill Mullis

This essay was included in the 2009 launch of South Charlotte Weekly's "Animal House" section on Friday, July 31, 2009.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Droves of dog lovers explore Bark in the Park's new territory

photo by Deborah Parkhill Mullis/Metrolina Dog Reporter

A freestyle frisbee demonstration delighted the crowd of dog lovers at 2009 Pedigree Bark in the Park event in Charlotte. Above, 7-year-old red and white border collie, Razor, jumps over her trainer's legs to catch a frisbee.

photo by Deborah Parkhill Mullis/Metrolina Dog Reporter

This amazing "feat" was part of a freestyle frisbee demonstration put on by Laura Moretz and Riot, her 5-year-old border collie, at Metrolina Expo during the 2009 Pedigree Bark in the Park event.

By Deborah Parkhill Mullis
A record crowd of 14,500 dog lovers and some 7,000 dogs attended Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s 2009 Pedigree ® Bark in the Park on Saturday, April 25, an increase of 1,500 from last year and more than double the number of people from two years ago.

Bark in the Park began in the early eighties but it wasn’t until 2005 that it really caught on in the community and became a regular annual event to promote the county’s off-leash dog parks. As Bark in the Park increased in popularity, parking spaces decreased in availability forcing a move this year from William R. Davey Park to Metrolina Expo where parking is plentiful.

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation has five off-leash dog parks. Two of those parks are very convenient for Matthews and Union County residents. The first is Ray's Fetching Meadow, a one acre dog park within McAlpine Creek Park, slightly west of Matthews at 711 Monroe Road in Charlotte. The second is a five acre dog park inside William R. Davey Park. It is the largest dog park in Mecklenburg County and located slightly south of Matthews at 4635 Matthews-Pineville Road. While this dog park does not have a separate name, it does have separate sections for large and small dogs - a good idea according to dog experts.

The county’s newest dog park, Frazier Park, opened in uptown Charlotte in 2008. The other two dog parks are Swaney Pointe K-9 Park which is inside Ramsey Creek Park and Barkingham Park which is inside Reedy Creek Park. These three dog parks also have sections for small and large dogs. All the dog parks are open seven days a week from 7:30 am to sunset. Visit for more information on Mecklenburg County Parks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take your pick of local dog events this spring

by Deborah Parkhill Mullis

There’s no shortage of events for dog lovers in the Metrolina area. The Annual Union County Dog Walk is one of the first dog events held each year. Pooches and their people participate in a stroll around historic downtown Monroe in support of Union County Smart Start, an organization serving the educational, emotional and physical needs of children from birth to age five.

After the dog walk, it's time to practice canine social skills and/or participate in fun dog contests.

Pictured left: Two-year-old great Dane, Zelda, gives owner, Amy Smith, a high five after winning the amazing trick contest by weaving across the stage on command. Zelda also won Best in Show at the 2009 event. Amy and Zelda are students of dog trainer, Carol Hoyle. who works at the Monroe PetSmart.

Pictured center: Leah Boggs with papi-poo, Poppy, after Poppy won the "Face only a mother could love" contest at the 2009 event. Poppy was about to turn two, too, which was obviously a lucky number for dog contestants.

Pictured right: Leslie Adkins and her shih tzu, Bailey, won the look-alike contest at the 2009 event. Leslie said her "friends" entered her and Bailey in the contest.

Pictured above: "Batman" fights against animal abuse and neglect by giving money to Animal Adoption League's donation dog.

If you missed taking your dog to this event, don't let his tail droop because organizers Luann Van Leer and Kim Wolfe are already planning the 2nd Annual Union County Dog Walk for next spring. And there plenty more to pick from this spring ...

2009 Pedigree ® Bark in the Park is Saturday, April 25, 2009. Dog Lovers won’t want to miss this event which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A modified moniker and a move to Metrolina Expo promises to make this year's Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department’s event promoting off-leash dog parks better than ever.

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation currently has five off-leash dog parks. Two of those parks are convenient for Union County residents. The first is Ray's Fetching Meadow, a one acre dog park within McAlpine Creek Park, just west of Matthews at 711 Monroe Road in Charlotte. The second is a five acre dog park inside William R. Davey Park - the former location of Bark in the Park - and is the largest dog park in Mecklenburg County. Located just south of Matthews at 4635 Matthews-Pineville Road, this dog park does not have a separate name but it does have separate sections for large and small dogs - a good idea according to dog experts.

The newest dog park, Frazier Park, opened in uptown Charlotte in 2008. It has 1.3 acres. Swaney Pointe K-9 Park is inside Ramsey Creek Park and Barkingham Park is inside Reedy Creek Park. Both these dog parks have over two acres. All the dog parks are open seven days a week from 7:30 am to sunset.

Bark in the Park began in the early eighties but it didn’t become a regular annual event for the county until 2005. Seven thousand people accompanied by hundreds of dogs attended Bark in the Park in 2007. That number almost doubled in 2008 when 13,000 people most with dogs attended the event. (Traffic and parking were challenging in 2007 so I can only imagine what it was like in 2008 because I chose to go to the Olympic Whitewater Trials instead of Bark in the Park that year. )

Although it’s a good bit further for me to travel, I am happy that this particular event moved from Davey Park to Metrolina Expo. The new location at 7100 Statesville Road in Charlotte should make it more enjoyable for everyone from beginning to end. Admission is free as is parking which is promised to plentiful.

2nd Annual Wishes for Whiskers Golf Classic is Saturday, May 16, 2009. Dog lovers who are also golf lovers will want to sign up for this event which takes place at Glen Oaks Golf Club, 245 Golf Course Road in Maiden, NC. A donation of $75 per golfer includes 18-holes, meals, a raffle ticket for a non-cash prize and more. Proceeds benefit Animal Adoption League.

2009 Pet Palooza is Saturday, May 30, 2009. Filled with entertainment for people and pets this event benefits the Humane Society of Charlotte. This event also includes a pet walk. Walker check-in is at 8:30 a.m. and opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m.