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Phoebe’s Phashions Decking Out the Dogs

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Marilyn King

The building lights in nighttime downtown Tulsa aren’t the only things sparkling in that part of town. Just as dazzling are the canine jewels that Lisa Steinmeyer makes for her business,Phoebe’s Phashions.

In the summer of 2003, Lisa, a native Tulsan and court reporter by day, started dabbling in a new hobby making sterlingsilver jewelry.  She soon found out that the sterling was too expensive, so she decided to try a necklace for Phoebe, her
miniature dachshund. Phoebe, by the way, was alreadyfamous in her own right, having appeared as Winner of the Week in the 2001 Workman Page-A-Day calendar series for dogs in pink sunglasses on a blue float in Lisa’s pool.

Lisa went to Hobby Lobby, purchased some fake pearls, and the first phashion was born. Friends starting asking for them, and soon after Southern Agriculture placed a large order that kept Lisa and a few friends beading day and night.  Oneby one, different Tulsa pet businesses placed orders, and Lisa’s business savvy to exhibit at the nation’s largest pet trade show,H.H. Backer, landed her an order from Harrods in London that to this day is renewed three to four times a year.

Now Lisa is decking out dogs in 36 states, along with canines in London, Ireland, Canada, Tokyo, and Australia.  Herjewelry is still made right here in Tulsa, and each piece carries a special charm of little silver sunglasses dedicated to her Phoebe.
Also, Phoebe’s is not just for the girls – there’s a line of “neckwear” for those macho boys out there who don’t want to be too frilly!

Way to go Lisa! Are these jewels cool or what!!!
Phoebe’s Phashions – Haute Couture for the Stylish Canine 918-582-6253

Publisher Letter

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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 By Marilyn King

Happy Spring to all you Tulsa Pet Lovers out there!

The joys of Spring! It turns a dog’s fancy hopeful for more walks in the park, and all the kitty’s fancies to leisure naps in the longer daylight hours. It’s a relief to have the winter of 2007 behind us, and I’m sure all creatures great and small in Green Country are enjoying this warmth on their bones. For those of you who missed my first issue, here I am with my rescued chocolate lab Samuel August us King (named after my Dad), who is one year and three months now. After I “christened” him I learned from a friend there’s an old saying that if you name your dog after someone you loved, the dog will love you more. Sam’s certainly full of love, and it gives me great joy to observe his boundless happiness.

Rather naively, I hadn’t anticipated the more sobering aspects of my new career — the horror stories coming my way of abuse and abandonment. Visits to the City shelter also give me quite a dose of reality that some of you don’t even know about. If you haven’t been there lately, go. I challenge you to not come away with a heavy heart. All the animals there are so hopeful they’ll find their way home, or be picked to get to have a home. All the little faces are wrought with anxiety, and the sadness is palpable.

One aspect that helps soften the blows of the horror stories is the number of people I’m meeting and hearing of who truly are making a difference in our homeless pet community. People who foster dogs and spend their money feeding them, tending to their health issues, trying to find them homes; others who devote all their spare time (and then some) to provide assistance in transport and countless other ways of truly giving. It’s wonderful to know there are folks out there who take a great deal of their time, energy, and resources to help. We plan to introduce you to some of these people in a future issue.

We hope you enjoy this second issue of TulsaPets Magazine, and that you share it with your friends and family. I’ve had countless emails and calls of compliments about the first issue, and I wish to say thank you to all who took their time to contact me with their positive comments. I also want to say THANKS BIG TIME to my advertisers. Without their support there would be no TulsaPets Magazine. And of course another thanks to Langdon Publishing. (They do good work, don’t they!)

I value your ideas, suggestions, questions, etc., so please don’t hesitate to call or email. Also, don’t forget that if you have a question for a vet, trainer, or attorney, please email the contact information on the respective article.

So “chow” until July. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and enjoy your Spring!

TheraPETics Service Dogs of Oklahoma

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Sherri Goodall

Along with a devoted, specially trained, four-legged helpmate, people who are partnered with a TheraPETic’s canine are given the invaluable gift of INDEPENDENCE.

Under the watchful eye of Lisa Bycroft, Executive Director and Diane Hutchins, Administrative Assistant, magic transpires on East 21st Street at TheraPETics. Adorable balls of fur—golden, black, brindle, apricot, chocolate and many hues in between— are transformed into superbly trained service dogs.

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are excellent service breeds; they love to retrieve and they love to please. The newest breed is the Labradoodle (Standard Poodle/Labrador)—the uber breed of service dog. Labradoodles combine the best of both worlds: non-allergenic coats, retrieving instincts, love of service and superior intelligence.

David Skaggs and his black lab, Martin, greeted us at TheraPETics. Martin demonstrated his talents soon enough. Martin, like many of his TheraPETics peers, functions as the body and legs of Skaggs, who is paralyzed from the waist down. Martin deftly removed Skaggs’ long-sleeved jacket on command. He also will remove Skaggs’ pants. Doodle, a young Labradoodle demonstrated her talent of undoing Skaggs’ Velcro shoes. Buster, Doodle’s brother, was the ace light switch operator. He entertained us with a frenzy of light switching— on, off, on, off, until we were dizzy.

Skaggs says Martin not only gives him the confidence and freedom to pursue his life and work; but also gives his wife the opportunity to pursue her life without worry. Martin retrieves tools for Skaggs, brings the telephone to him and can go to a neighbor for help.

Buster belongs to Diane Hutchins and alerts her when her sugar drops. Dogs cannot be trained to alert a human to seizures or other body changes, like sugar swings. This ability is due to the canine’s uncanny sense of smell. When sugar drops, or a seizure is about to begin, the dogs smell the changes inthe human’s body chemistry. Once the dog is rewarded for this behavior, it will repeat it when appropriate (Pavlov). Buster, also “braces” to help Diane stand.

What we consider simple tasks; dressing and undressing, opening and closing doors and cabinets, retrieving items dropped on the floor, sitting up, standing, turning on lights, answering a telephone, ringing a doorbell, unloading a washer or dryer—are monumental, if not impossible tasks for the physically limited. TheraPETics dogs perform all these tasks and more.

Children face the most difficult challenges with their disabilities… both emotional and physical. Once a service dog comes into their lives, typical social barriers are broken. The dogs become the bridge between “abled” and “disabled.” More than just physical doors are opened.

It takes tremendous trust and confidence for a physically challenged human, who has known only hardship, to turn him or herself over to a dog. This is where the training begins.

Lisa begins with 7-8 week-old puppies. Haikey Creek Kennels donate the Goldens. Labradors come from Wyngmaster and Glen-Mar Kennels. Sommer’s Doodles in OKC supply the Labradoodles.

Before being accepted, the puppies must take the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, which measures their retrieval drive and temperament (whether too dominant or submissive). Only those that measure up, make the cut.

From here, volunteers take over. First, the puppies go to a puppy raiser for one year. They come to class (raisers and puppies) once a week where they work with Mary Green, the official trainer. They learn basic obedience behavior, socialization, and patience. Their instincts of pulling and retrieving are honed and rewarded. The puppies learn to associate desired behavior with praise and reward. As important as their “schoolwork” is their socialization in their raiser’s home, where there might be children and other pets.

After a year with the puppy raisers, the dogs graduate to a trainer home. This is where the specific task- training begins. The trainer and dog go to work in the real world, whether it’s to a job, classroom or errands around the city. Once a week they go to class at TheraPETics, where they learn and practice desired behaviors. There are wheelchairs to pull and push, doors to open and close, refrigerators with items to be fetched, washers and dryers to be emptied, directions to be learned, tasks upon tasks to be mastered. Then they go home and practice some more. The dogs visit malls, ride escalators and elevators, visit restaurants, retail stores, museums, grocery stores, health centers, hospitals, doctors—all the service and entertainment establishments necessary to our lives. They travel on public transportation, through airports, on airplanes, in taxis, stay in hotels…just as we do.

Each dog costs about $14,000 to train. TheraPETics places the dogs with their partners at no cost. This is due to the volunteers that give so generously of their time, many of the in-kind services donated by vendors and veterinarians, corporations, and the fund raising efforts of TheraPETics.

At last… THE BIG DAY! GRADUATION. The hours, days, weeks and months of training culminate when the dogs are paired with their humans…the bond is formed. Team Training begins. The specific needs of each disabled person are added to the dog’s repertoire. The human/dog team train together for 100 hours, usually at the person’s home, so that the dogs can train to a specific environment.

It’s a beautiful merger. People gain their freedom and independence and the dogs get to do what they love best.

Each year, TheraPETics has two fundraisers: A K9K Race (a 5.5 mile sponsored race benefiting TheraPETics), and DOGFEST where all canines can strut their stuff. Silly contests abound, including Best Trick, Owner/Dog look-alike, Doggie Cross-Dressing Races, and agility races. Many vendors and rescue groups are on hand displaying their services and products. Of course, the TheraPETics dogs demonstrate their talents.

A special fund, The Dolly Fund, honors Dolly Carter, the famous black lab who dived into dryers. Its purpose is to fund extraordinary veterinary bills for service dogs.

These funding opportunities and much more can be found at

Mustang Sally

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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The little black kitten had found a home at last! It wasn’t fancy, but she had a roof over her head and food to eat. And children to play with her!

However, as she grew up, the children played with her less and less, so she spent more time outside, finding her own entertainment in the form of mice and birds. There were other cats, too, and, in time, she had kittens of her own. The family still fed her, but she spent most of her time under the house. And then one day the family moved. What was a cat to do? They had moved without her.

She was hungry so she ventured into the car lot next door. Soon, the owner of the car lot saw her and fed her. However, the black kitten, which was now a cat, was afraid. Could she ever trust humans again?


Her plight grew worse. They bulldozed her house! “To expand the car lot,” they said. The nice lady still fed her, but then told her that she could not stay there. “Cars and antifreeze are dangerous,” she said. The lady said that she might be able to move into her home, so she took her to a veterinarian for a check-up and vaccinations, spaying her so that she would never have kittens again.

However, the black cat could not adjust to life in a home. She had become a feral cat, wary of humans, and preferring the freedom of outdoors. Another dilemma….

But there was a solution! Someone mentioned a ranch, where horses lived in a nice warm barn. Other cats lived there, too, where the owner protected them, fed them, and gave them medical care.

So they moved her, and she now has both freedom and friends. She has become known as “Mustang Sally”: the cat that formerly lived with cars, now lives with horses. Life is good!

Story by Camille Hulen

Tulsa’s Heroine Pet Simone

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Marilyn King

One bright beautiful day last October I headed out to Saint Simeon’s Episcopal Home, a retirement community, to interview one of their most important employees. Not a human employee, but a canine one. Meet Simone, the Golden Retriever resident mascot at Saint Simeon’s, who has been a faithful employee there her entire life.

Simone was born in Jenks on July1, 1997. Her AKC name is Alter’s Simone of Saint Simeon’s. The Alters are the family who donated her to the home, and it was planned to place her there as a companion animal even before her arrival into this world.

For the first two years of her life Simone rarely left the facility. She was there everyday, all day, all night, mainly in the Memory Center (Alzheimer’s unit), where she had many favorite people she hung out with. Because the Memory Center is home to residents who don’t keep regular “hours,” the unit keeps its lights on all night in the activity areas, and accordingly, Simone was also up all night, working 24/7, with no rest. The staff noticed she was gradually becoming a bit ill-tempered and a little snarly, so very unlike the nature of her breed. After some consultation, they realized Simone was suffering from exhaustion and needed regular down time so, Simone started going home each evening with the Director of Nursing, Carla Stokesberry, until Carla’s retirement in 2006.

Now Simone arrives at the facility each day around 8:00 a.m., and makes the “rounds” with her “mom,” Kathy Hinkle, Director of Continuing Education. She walks around the building to say hi to all the residents, family members, and employees, and knows who is saving that bite of toast or little piece of bacon for her. (She makes it a point to see them first, of course.) She spends her days primarily visiting with the residents, but also playing on the 50-acre property, chasing squirrels and wild turkeys, and making new friends with visitors and newcomers. The children who visit are especially fond of Simone and love to seek her out when they’re there. Saint Simeon’s also has a private chapel and a full-time priest on staff, so Simone has attended many funerals of her human friends. She’s also one of the first to greet you at their fundraising events, parties, or other celebrations.

When Simone meets you, she has a habit of “leaning” into you to make petting her easier. I had the pleasure of experiencing her “lean.” She has been known to sit on people’s feet to keep them from getting away.

In these later years, Simone is taking longer naps now and is graying gracefully, befitting her ten years, but she is still one cool canine. She is a gracious dog with a gracious nature, and even though she doesn’t get a “paycheck,” she receives a much more important reward. What a wonderful thing to give and receive so much love and to have so many admirers in one place! She has comforted many residents in the Memory Center through some dark, lonely hours, and she has been known to get a response from some when no one else can reach them. Rock on, Simone! In my book you are truly one of Tulsa’s Heroine Pets!

Publisher’s Letter

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Hello Tulsa pet lovers out there-Greetings and welcome to the first issue of TulsaPets Magazine!

My name is Marilyn King, and here I am with Sam, my recently rescued chocolate lab. I’m not a veterinarian, not a pet “expert,” not a famous Tulsan by any means. Just a full-fledged animal lover. For quite some time, I’ve wanted to see a Tulsa pet magazine that would provide resources, information on products and services, and editorial on local pet issues. With a background in publishing here in my native Tulsa, I took a leap of faith and decided to create one myself. After the magazine was launching, I’ve since found many other cities also have local pet publications – San Diego, St. Louis, Denver, Austin, Charleston, to name a few (did you know San Diego has an animal ambulance service?).

One of our primary objectives will be to address the homeless pet population in our area by encouraging adoption, and spaying and neutering. Our shelters are full. Lost dogs are roaming our streets. Our city statistics of euthanasia are heartbreaking. We hope the magazine can help make a small dent in this area and in the lives of these helpless, homeless pets. We also hope our directory will provide a useful resource for those new to the Tulsa area seeking products or services. It is being updated continuously. Basic listings are free, so please email your information to
[email protected] Thanks to all of you who have helped make this possible. The list is too numerous to mention. A special thanks to my advertisers — without them this wouldn’t be happening. Another special thanks to the kind, pet-loving people at Langdon Publishing Company. And a big thank you to all those who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute editorially.

We hope you will find Tulsa Pets Magazine to be resourceful, informative, and perhaps even a little entertaining. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. Feel free to email me at [email protected] Be sure to watch for our next issue in April!

Marilyn King

P.S. When TulsaPets Magazine was in its infancy, friends and I discussed the question of exactly what is a pet. We concluded that a pet is any animal that lives with you and/or any animal that you name. We realize this issue focuses primarily on dogs and cats, and we know many people have other types of pets. We’d like to see them, so please send us a picture of your “different” pet, and his/her name, and we’ll publish as many as we can in our April issue.