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Grief and Comfort

posted March 23rd, 2019 by
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“Grieving over a loved one with the adoring kinship of a pet”

By Sherri Goodall


As I turn into my driveway, I get a lump in my throat. A little piece of my heart shatters and falls away.

I’ve had this feeling now for over a month. My love, my husband, best friend passed away Nov. 4, 2018. We shared close to 54 years of marriage.

I know I will get through it. I have to, since I’ve been told I can’t go around it, under it or over it—I must go through it.

Suddenly, two little, white furry faces appear at the back door. They’ve been there since I turned the corner onto my street. Somehow they know I’m coming.

If I didn’t have those two little fur balls to welcome me, I don’t think I could enter this house day after day.

If you’re a pet person, you get the gist of what I’m saying.  But until you go through the unbelievable pain of losing your mate, you have no idea of the outpouring of comfort that comes just from looking into your fur babies’ eyes. They know; they feel your grief.

I’ve written articles about how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is. They can smell an oncoming seizure, a diabetic crash, and they can smell death. I’ve seen it before when a dear friend of mine was in her last days of cancer, and her Poodle of several years—who wouldn’t leave her bedside, day or night, for weeks—suddenly got up, sniffed her once and walked away. My friend passed away that night.

My Westies, MacTwo and Jolene (yes, Jolene!), wanted only to get up on the bed with my husband and curl up next to him as long as he’d allow it. When he finally had to be on hospice care at home, they really couldn’t get up in the bed, but they would lie under it. I was so distraught that I’d have to leave the room at times, but my Westies stayed put. They have never chosen to be somewhere else other than at my heels when I’m home, but Jolene was crazy about my husband.

We’ve had Jolene since July 2018, so she didn’t have the history with my husband that MacTwo had (13 years). However, she was hell bent on conquering all males in the house, including my husband. She is small for a Westie, and her favorite trick was to wait until my husband was seated in his favorite chair with his laptop. Without warning, she would jump into his lap and sit herself right on the laptop so she could lick his face. The pillow that sits on the chair was a gift. It showed a Westie against a lush green backdrop.

At first, after my husband was gone, Jolene would jump up on the chair, curl up against the pillow and wait for her man to come home. MacTwo would go to the chair around 6 p.m. each evening and wait for my husband. It was dinnertime, of course, and he always fed them.

But neither of them does this anymore. They know.

They also know when I’m having a bad, sad day; they lick my feet, they jump on my legs, they want to be held to share comfort. It’s amazing to me how they can sense this the moment I get out of bed.

I am familiar with grieving over a pet. I’m not familiar with grieving over a loved one with the adoring kinship of a pet. It is soothing, calming and a gift from above.

Me? Ow!

posted March 23rd, 2019 by
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Me? Ow!

The Crazy Dog Lady Takes on Feral Cats

By Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

If you know me at all, you know I’m a self-proclaimed Crazy Dog Lady. Yes, you capitalize that. It’s as official as a royal title at my level of crazy.  Me? Ow!        

Trust me when I tell you I have earned it. I care for more dogs in my paw-smudged, fur-festooned home in the course of a day than most people do in a lifetime. My professional life is filled with four-legged friends of all shapes and sizes to boot. There really isn’t even one tiny part of my life that doesn’t center around dogs.


That is, until I found the cats.


They showed up at sundown, peeking through the shrubs and darting across the parking lot surrounding Pooches, the dog care business I co-pilot with longtime friend, Lawanna Smith. Little fuzzy tribbles seemed to be popping up everywhere. With a serious cold snap in the forecast, the shiny little eyes peering at us just couldn’t be ignored.


Initially, the dog care professionals—that would be me, Lawanna and our business manager, Lindsay Henry—thought we could coax the little kitties out. You know, like you would a helpless puppy. Of course, little kittens who have entered the world with zero help from humankind are highly unlikely to fall for that ploy. All our high-pitched babbling fell ineffectively on disinterested, distrusting pointy ears.


Next, we decided to corner them and just, you know, grab them. Oh, naïve, silly dog people. Compared to agile, streetwise kittens, we had reflexes that could only be compared to those of an aging, beached walrus.


OK, “plan c.” We borrowed three humane traps from a local rescue group, baited them with yummy-to-them-stinky-to-us canned cat food, and tucked them away in kitty-friendly havens.


Bingo. Night one secured two tiny balls of cringing, gray fluff. Poor little critters had no idea that the metal monster that swallowed them whole was really a first step toward a much better, safer life. Once we trapped those first two kittens, we realized we didn’t exactly have a “what now” plan in place. Seems natural to house two feral kittens within the walls of a dog daycare, right? Not perfect by a long stretch, but with a little creative rearranging in a storage room, the Pooches cattery was born.


Night two delivered another shiny-eyed baby and one adult cat. OK, we hadn’t really banked on trapping feral adults, but here she was. But hey, how hard could it be? (Cat people are murmuring, “Bless their hearts…”)

Over the next few nights we trapped an additional five cats—three more tiny siblings and two 6-month-old-ish adolescents. First things first, the kitties made reluctant visits to our veterinarian for testing, shots, worming and spays/neuters for the older kids. We confirmed we had two teenage boys, one adult female, three baby boys and two tiny girls. Necessities out of the way, it was time to roll up our sleeves and turn wild kitties into lovable lap cats.


As a dog trainer, you can hand me an unsocialized puppy, and I know what to do. You can bring me an unruly year-old pup, and I know what to do. But put me in front of a row of hissing cats who want absolutely nothing to do with me? Yeah, I was a tad intimidated.


The older female cat, a petite tabby girl with some calico markings, seemed the calmest of the crew. In fact, with a serene expression on her sweet face she was practically begging for us to pet her, right?



The tentative offering of my hand was met not with purring gratitude but rather with a lightning-fast slap and menacing growl. Fortunately, it was only a warning slap—sans razor sharp claws—and I escaped with nothing more than jangled nerves and a scratched ego. Oh, how 9 pounds of angry cat can send this full-grown human scampering.


So, here’s the thing about cats versus dogs—nine times out of 10, I find dogs to be very predictable. They don’t have poker faces. I can usually determine if a dog is stressed, scared, angry or happy with a quick glance.


But cats! Especially the older, wiser cats. They can mask their emotions and just bait you right in. I know experienced cat people out there are snickering right now, and I sure don’t begrudge you that right. You can likely spot the mood behind that Cheshire cat grin. Me? Not so much.


Having escaped with my trembling hand still in one piece, I looked at our momma kitty with a whole new air of respect. Her contented expression was not born of a desire to befriend me; it was born out of confidence that she could absolutely fillet me.


This leads us to the next issue I have with cats. They are very, very sharp. There are so many parts of a cat that will poke, cut or slice you before even a nanosecond of your life has a chance to flash before your eyes. Fingers, or any other body part a ticked-off kitty can reach, beware!


Leaving all dog training skills at the door of the storage room, we decided that our older, wiser-than-me girl and one of the teenage boys might do best as barn cats. Fortunately, Lindsay has horses and a very nice barn where the feral cats would have safe, warm shelter and regular food and water placed out for them. It was the perfect solution for this duo.


OK, two down, six to go. Wow. Six to go.

With an abundance of stray cats and kittens already flooding shelters and rescue groups, our little tribe of unsocialized felines found themselves waiting for a safe place to land in a line that rivaled the worst day at the DMV. After caring for our charges amid kennel smells and sounds that surely made them cringe, it was time for a new longer-term housing solution.


So, I loaded the remaining kittens and took them all to my house to set up a new temporary cat condo in my garage. You know, where I could spend more quality time with them. Yet, day after day, the five tiny kittens continued to protest at the mere sight of me.


“Good morning, fluffies,” I would call out as I entered the garage each day. To which they would unanimously respond, “Pssssttttt,” followed by several emphatic spatting sounds as they curled their little lips into ferocious sneers.


Admittedly, these imps were a tad comical in their attempts to send me running in terror. Even though they already had some sharp parts in their arsenals, they were not yet very skilled in wielding those weapons. I called their tiny hissing bluffs and held each kitten several times a day. I can’t say I won them over quickly, but they did start relaxing a bit with each I-WILL-pet-you-and-you-WILL-learn-to-like-it session.

I dubbed the kittens Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Wouldn’t you know that Friday was the first of the little hissers to press his face into my hand and reward my efforts with a soft, buzzing purr. Ah Friday, my favorite day, my best little kitten.


Thursday soon followed suit, trading hisses for purrs. Monday through Wednesday held out a bit more stubbornly, but all were easy to handle and would surely be able to adjust to life as pampered house cats.


But what about my teenager? I was a little less enthusiastic about calling his bluff. He never hissed. He rarely moved a muscle. He just crouched in the back of the crate and stared me down with his unblinking emerald eyes. Was that a calculating look? Hopeful? Friendly? Angry? I had no idea, but I had to figure it out.


I named him Mr. Rogers because I furtively hoped it might help him channel Fred’s kind, gentle demenor. After spoon-feeding him canned cat food for a week, I finally stretched my arm into his crate and lightly rubbed him on top of his head.


For a hold-my-breath moment he did not move. Then I saw his ears relax and point slightly sideways from his head. His eyes closed a bit, not in the demonic slits demonstrated previously by his moody peers, but in a somewhat blissful squint. And wait… was that purring? Yes!


Success! Full of optimism, I jumped headfirst into the avalanche of the previous summer’s cat population competing for new homes. I begged shamelessly. I pleaded. I guilt-tripped friends. I posted adorable photo after adorable photo. And finally, the little hissers found their happily-ever-afters. Every one of them.


I am still very much a Crazy Dog Person. In fact, I raced back into my dog-centric world of chewed shoes and muddy pawprints with unbridled glee. But I did take with me a whole new respect for you Crazy Cat People.


To those hardcore, dedicated folks who rescue, rehab and rehome cats every year in numbers that make my fledgling feline rescue effort look like a droplet in an Olympic-sized pool, my dog-hair-covered cap is off to you. I may never go down this prickly path again, but I vow to donate kitty litter and cat kibble each year to aid you in your mission. And leather gloves. I might toss in a few pairs of leather gloves, too.


I’m picking up a new foster dog tomorrow. I will know her mood immediately. I will know exactly what she needs; I will be able to teach her new life skills necessary to ensure a successful adoption. But I must admit, I will smile each time I see a fuzzy tribble at an adoption event, and I will give a knowing nod to the mad skills of the band-aid-clad foster person who saved that kitten. You officially have my unwavering respect. Long live the Crazy Cat People!

Statewide Spay/Neuter Initiative

posted March 23rd, 2019 by
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – Oklahoma Humane Society’s Statewide Initiative will be celebrating their first milestone with the first spay/neuter clinic held in Vinita, Oklahoma on March 15, 2019.


Together with the Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter (PAAS), the Statewide team and PAAS employees will provide surgery and vaccination services to thirty animals. The clinic will be a monthly occurrence held at the PAAS shelter.


“OK Humane’s Statewide Initiative is excited to bring more animal welfare services to the entire state of Oklahoma. We will work with together with groups across the state to improve the animal welfare landscape in their communities,” said Cati Stanila, Director of OK Humane’s Statewide Initiative.


OK Humane’s Statewide Initiative hopes to provide over 350 spay/neuter surgeries in the NE area of the state in 2019. The funding for this Initiative is provided by a generous grant from the Watershed Animal Fund.




About Central Oklahoma Humane Society

The Central Oklahoma Humane Society is the largest animal-related charity in the state of Oklahoma with the goal of eliminating euthanasia in our community through pet adoption, spay and neuter, out-of-state pet relocation, community cats, and saving infants through our neonate nursery.  We are an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit unaffiliated with the Humane Society of the United States and receive no government funding or tax dollars. Visit to learn more.

Pet-Friendly Tulsa

posted March 23rd, 2019 by
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Pet-Friendly businesses in Tulsa 

By Anna Holton-Dean



Tulsans love their pets—a fact that’s evident even in the business community.


So, we’ve rounded up a whole list of some of our favorite pet-friendly businesses, from restaurants with patios that welcome pets to those that support animal rescue causes. Whether you want to take Fluffy for a rental bike ride along the river, delight Fido with a downtown dinner date, or simply patronize a business that professes to love pets as much as you do, we’ve got you covered!



If you like your pizza and libations “‘Tulsa Style,’ raw, honest, unapologetic and real,” Andolini’s is the place to go. With multiple locations from Broken Arrow and Jenks to Cherry Street and Blue Dome Sliced, there’s one near you.


Their commitment to an exceptionally high-quality process and true ingredients, which have been sustainably sourced, make Andolini’s a unique dining experience—one that approaches the craft of pizza-making with a passion to uplift the art form through great service, great atmosphere and, above all else, great food.
Thankfully, for pet lovers, Andolini’s great service and atmosphere includes pet-friendly patios where your favorite pooch is not only welcomed but served, too.


“We love all animals and believe in inclusivity,” says owner Mike Bausch. “We offer the dogs water and whatever they need… and we love TulsaPets Magazine.”


Baxter’s Interurban Grill

At Baxter’s, you’ll find not only a quiet, casual relaxing atmosphere, but also a place to have fun while enjoying a great meal. Your tastes will be delighted by their menu featuring a variety of American cuisine, traditional fare and signature dishes. There’s also a gated pet-friendly patio with water bowls available.


“Coming from families with both dogs and cats, owner Craig Baxter and I are animal lovers of all kinds,” says Manager Molly Mason. “Pets are family, and we are happy to extend our patio to the whole family.”

But, she says, more than just dogs like to visit the patio. “We have a Tegu and Bearded Dragon that enjoy the patio on occasion, and we’ve met two generations of White German Shepherds over the years.”

            Mason herself has a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees named Lucy. “She visited the patio a few times when she was a puppy but now likes to share food a little too much,” Mason says. “She thinks she’s a 95-pound lap dog!”


Bricktown Brewery

At Bricktown Brewery – Brookside, “we know how important pets are to the folks in Brookside,” says Manager Heather Bassett. “And we’re happy to provide a place where pet owners can enjoy local beer and great food—while their pets enjoy our pet-friendly patio!”


Bricktown Brewery in Brookside also provides water and a variety of treats for pets. “While we don’t have specials for pets, we do have Bricktwisted Comfort Foods on our ‘people menu,’” Bassett says. “These items change throughout the year and are foods you may remember from growing up but with a Bricktown twist. Our Bricktwisted Mac’d Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich (with mac & cheese inside the sandwich), served with San Marzano Tomato Soup, will take you back to childhood… as you and your pet enjoy Bricktown Brewery in Brookside.”





Many businesses can’t justify staffing a full-time IT professional. That’s where CamTech can help, offering a more cost-effective solution. But with their responsiveness to clients’ needs, it may seem like they are just down the hall.


CamTech is a full-service provider, so they can help with any issue that arises, from systems design to desktop service. An added bonus, they offer a preferred rate for pet lovers because at CamTech, “We love pets!” says owner Jimmie Cameron. His ads always feature his beloved pooches, Volley, a 7-year-old black Lab, and Coco, a 2-year-old Cavachon. “They add so much to our lives that we want to include them in everything we do,” he says.


Whether your needs are for one person or an entire office, CamTech can help with valuable, time-saving solutions.



Dos Bandidos

At Dos Bandidos, they take pride in being different from your typical Tex-Mex restaurant, taking recipes from friends and family across Mexico and the SoCal area. With over 30 different dishes and 15 handcrafted drinks, you’re sure to find something for the whole family. Even your four-legged family member will find free water offered on the pet-friendly patio.


General Manager Alisha Axman says animals are important to Dos Bandidos. “We believe all animals are part of the family just as much as your own kids!” she says.


With two dogs and a cat of her own, Axman says, “They’re so much fun, and they’re my fur babies!” She also says to bring along Fido throughout the spring and summer to enjoy live music on the Dos Bandidos patio.



Ferguson Subaru

Pet owners often consider their four-legged companions as more than just a pet. That’s why Ferguson Subaru considers pets part of the family. “Animals have a remarkable ability to cheer us up, soothe our sorrows and even improve our health and well-being. Ferguson Subaru truly believes that after all the affection our pets have shown us, they deserve some in return,” their website says.

Nearly seven out of 10 Subaru owners have a pet, which is part of the reason the company allows pets on test drives. After all, their slogan is “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” So, Ferguson Subaru wants to extend that love to four-legged friends by not only offering a pet-friendly environment but also by frequently hosting special events and activities especially for four-legged friends. They proudly support local Tulsa-area animal rescue and adoption organizations.


Geeks to the Rescue (do we need the “to the”?)

Geek Rescue is your one-stop computer, network and IT solution provider. That means they “fix lots of stuff!” From fixing computers, networks, iPods, iPhones, Xboxes and other smartphones to building secure networks to designing and hosting award-winning websites, they are up for any challenge.


So, what makes Geeks to the Rescue a pet-friendly business? “We love pets,” says Damon DoRemus, chief information officer. “We see lots of pets all day at people’s homes and sometimes businesses. Dogs are almost always in a good mood.”

DoRemus says while pets may not be critical to the running of their business, “we sure do enjoy their company!”

At his own home, he has two Jack Russells and a Lab. They’ve paid a visit to his office on occasion, but he says they much prefer to stay home and chase squirrels in the backyard.


George’s Pub | Maryn’s Taphouse & Raw Bar

Voted one of the top five pubs in Tulsa, at George’s Pub in Downtown Jenks you can choose from a great selection of beers and spirits as well as homemade pub grub, mostly made in house and never frozen. Enjoy it while catching a game inside or on the dog-friendly cozy patio. provides you with friendly and knowledgeable service in a   “Animals are very important to me and my family,” says owner Corey Crandall. “The first slow years of George’s, my animals were my company at the pub.


“Over the years, I have added another pub, [Maryn’s Taphouse], with a very large patio, a selection of 40 draft beers, a unique raw bar menu and handcrafted cocktails. My two French Bulldogs, Gunner, named after my beloved Arsenal football club, and Georgie; she is the mascot for George’s—they among tons of other dogs can be seen on my patios. We offer water bowls and treats and a simple set of rules: dogs on leashes and clean up after your own.”


McLemore Insurance Agency

McLemore Insurance Agency has a longstanding reputation of serving Tulsa. In fact, it’s the oldest insurance agency in Tulsa County, established in 1903 before statehood. And not only does the company serve the people of Tulsa but also pets by supporting Lab Rescue OK’s annual adoption event, Labapalooza. Chris McLemore, office manager and wife of owner John McLemore, says the company also writes Lab Rescue’s insurance and donates the commission back to the nonprofit.


The McLemores have their own 14-year-old Lab, Shadow, who they rescued eight years ago. A fixture at McLemore Insurance Agency, he accompanies Chris to the office every single day, along with every other place she goes. She says, second to only her grandchildren, Shadow is her favorite topic of conversation.


Michael V’s

While many people may know Michael V’s for its amazing, fresh baked desserts and “Oscar” dishes, it’s also famous for its pet-friendly deck. “We serve fresh water for those that ask and have a comfortable, shaded deck for dogs to hang out on,” says Carol Minden, a self-professed dog person and co-owner with her husband Michael.


“Michael and I have had Collies and/or Bernese Mountain dogs throughout our 33-plus years of being married. Currently, we have a Rough Collie and three Bernese Mountain dogs.  I train and show them in conformation, rally, obedience and agility.  They all have numerous titles earned in the performance arenas in both AKC trialing and UKC trialing.


“We have a framed article about our dogs and training hanging on a wall at our entrance. It’s always nice to watch customers’ reactions when they see we are dog people. It’s amazing the conversations you can get into when you start talking about your dogs!”



NexGen Lawns

NexGen Lawns in Tulsa offers a wide range of deluxe and luxurious synthetic grass products that have been specially designed and developed to suit a vast number of environments and applications. Synthetic grass is deal for providing pets and pet owners a clean and safe area to play on, says owners David and Rachel Benditz. “No more muddy paws or backyards!”


“Pet owners make up a large part of our business,” Rachel says. “Clients appreciate the cleanliness and limited maintenance of artificial grass. It is always satisfying to see both the dogs and their owners happy with the finished project.”


Dog lovers themselves, David and Rachel have a Boxer and an English Bulldog. “Both have unique personalities,” Rachel says. “While the Boxer loves to talk to you, the Bulldog acts like you haven’t petted him in days. They both bring so much joy to our lives.”


Prosperity Bank

Just like kids who anticipate an obligatory lollipop while accompanying their parents to the bank, so do four-legged regulars who visit Prosperity Bank’s lobbies and drive-thrus, says Tasha Hendershot, vice president of Prosperity Bank in Tulsa.


“Their little tails start wagging because they know that they’re about to receive a treat.
Animals are so important to their humans that we appreciate when our customers share them with us. We always love seeing our four-legged friends,” she says.


A pet lover, Hendershot has a “grumpy 8-year-old Pug named Chubbs and a vivacious 5-year-old French Bulldog named Charlie” of her own.



Proudly serving Tulsa since 1983, Queenie’s serves the freshest, tastiest food using local meat and veggies. And springtime temps are the perfect weather for enjoying delicious, local fare outdoors. Owner Ruth Young says whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner—or simply stopping by for a homemade dessert—you can bring your well-behaved furry companion along to enjoy your selection on the pet-friendly patio.


SilverTree Technology

SilverTree Technology is a full-service IT company featuring networking engineers who provide installation, planning and support; application developers who can build software from the ground up; graphic designers with the ability to create a single logo or design an entire application; and web developers who specialize in developing professional websites. And as a pet-friendly business, all employees are allowed to bring their pets to the office.


Steven Smallwood, president of SilverTree Technology, says as a pet owner himself, he realizes the importance of pets to their humans. “Pets provide companionship, security and happiness,” he says. He has three dogs (Bella, Ryder and Jax) and one cat (Josi) “that run the house.”


Society Burger

Society Burger on Cherry Street is all about good food, fellowship and, of course, unique burgers. They believe “everyone has their own perfect burger,” and the perfect burger is meant to be shared and savored in the company of others. Sometimes, those others include pets, which are welcome on their 12-month patio.
“In addition to having doggie treats and water bowls, we have been known to serve up a hamburger patty hot off the grill for our furry friends,” says Johnny Tatum, general manager of Society Burger. “We pride ourselves on creating a friendly, welcoming environment at our restaurant. That includes welcoming those folks who might be out on a stroll with their pets.”



Ted’s Pipe Shop

At Ted’s Pipe Shop, pets are a permanent fixture. Teddy, a Morkie, has gone to work every day since owners Marc and Karen Clymer adopted him two years ago. And the business itself is also a fixture in Oklahoma, as the oldest cigar and tobacco store in the state. Marc has worked at Ted’s for 35 years and purchased the business five years ago.
“Teddy has a best friend, Bruno the French Bulldog, that works next door at the liquor store and Lilly, a Yorkie, works there, too,” says Karen. “They visit a lot when they’re working!”
Not only do the Clymers love their own pets, they also love their customers’ pets. “We have dog cookies for our furry visitors, and if they don’t get to come with their parents, we send cookies home. They count on it!”

The Grand Treehouse Resort

Nestled in the middle of a wildlife forest yet only a five-minute drive to historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the Grand Treehouse Resort is an ideal weekend destination for pet lovers. The unique studio accommodations are truly “treehouses” with some even featuring trees growing through them.


“Here at The Grand Treehouse, we love all pets,” says owner Frank Green. “So many of our guests come with their little ones, and we always make sure they are welcome. At the time of reservation when they tell us they are bringing their pets, we always ask their names, so when they check-in, we can greet them.”


Three miles down the road, Angler’s Restaurant offers good food and a pet-friendly patio, so pets don’t have to stay behind.


“The Grand Treehouse has three dogs of our own—all rescues,” says Green. “We have Jackson, a beautiful chocolate Dachshund, Muzzy, who is a Chiweenie, and last but not least, Rico, who is a Rat Terrier. We love them all. So, pack up and bring the clan to The Grand Treehouses.”


Tom’s Bicycles

Tom’s Bicycles has not only one but two locations to serve Tulsans who want to enjoy the great outdoors. Just across from River Parks with access to miles of paved trails, the store also rents bikes—you can even rent a tricycle with a basket big enough for some small dogs, says Jonah Panther, manager.


The folks at Tom’s Bicycles love animals. “We actually sell pet accessories, like baskets to carry small dogs or cats with you and leash attachments. Well-behaved pets are always welcome inside,” Panther says.

While owner Tom has two dogs—Curly and Django—Panther says, for now, he only owns pets of the scaly variety.  “I have three ball pythons. I recently lost a dog who I had for years, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to get another yet.”


‘Owl’ You Need is Love

posted March 18th, 2019 by
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June. Mid-afternoon.


Another call had come in. Another message to hear. Another animal in trouble, and someone had taken the time to see what could be done, someone who cared and wanted direction.


It was my week to handle phone calls for Wing It, an organization of licensed wildlife rehabilitation volunteers in Tulsa who network to help as best we can. Summer can be hard on humans but is often brutal to native critters. Callers might be tearful, frantic to know what to do, desperate for immediate help; other messages come from the entitled and ignorant, demanding we come clean out their gutters from a sparrow’s nest, or capture a rabbit stealing lettuce from their unfenced garden.


This one was neither.


“Hello, this isn’t an emergency, it’s just that—well, we have a problem. We need to move a bunch of owls, they’re in our work shed and it’s a mess. Do you relocate? When someone has time, please call us back.”




I returned the call. She explained.


“Well, we live just outside Tulsa and have a building out back that’s our work space. We didn’t know a window pane had broken upstairs. Some owls moved in; we’ve seen them at night. They make an awful mess and it stinks…”


Yes, it would. A family of owls assuredly leave behind a variety of home-made gifts: the acid in the white “paint” they eject from their vent smells to high heaven. The pellets they barf up come from the muscular gizzard in their stomach; bones and fur they don’t digest get glued together there. The more owls, the more rancid the air.


I asked, “How much do you use this shed?”


“Well, we’re getting ready to use it a lot soon.”


“How soon?”


“Late August, maybe September.”


“Are these owls in your actual work area?”


“No, it’s just smelly everywhere.”


“Got it. Hmmm. Tell me about your rodent problem.”
“You mean mice and rats and all?”


“Yeah, you’re on acreage, right? I don’t know what you’re manufacturing, but sheds are great homes for tiny critters.”


“Oh, we don’t have a problem at all! In fact, we haven’t seen a mouse around here since…”


A pause.


“Since?” I asked.


“Well, it’s been a while.”


Owls eat 3-4 ounces of food per day. That’s one rat and two mice, or four mice or—you do the math. One owl = 80 pounds-of-pest eaten annually.


“Are they noisy?”


“No, they don’t even hoot. Sometimes they sort of scream, but it’s not bad.”


“Do they have white faces that are heart-shaped?”


“Yes, they do. All six of them.”


“Those are barn owls. I think you have Mom, Dad, and four kids, or owlets, living there. And if you see them heading in and out at dusk, which is reeeeeal early for barn owls, it’s because the parents have a lot of work to do; those youngsters are learning to hunt. If they chose your shed, it’s because your property has enough food for six owls to survive.”


“But we don’t have a rodent problem—“


“Not anymore. They’re your complimentary pest control.”


“Oh, my! You mean they ate all the mice?”
“You bet. Tons of people would PAY to have a family of barn owls on their land, or even in their neighborhood. And if you’re lucky enough to see the birds heading in and out, you’re watching “owl school” going on. You have your own Discovery Channel there!”


“Well, I never thought about it that way!”
“Here’s more: once the owlets are old enough, they’ll leave your shed to roost. It’s been the perfect home for them to hatch babies, and be safe from predators, but they’ll be out by fall. They don’t migrate unless they’re starving; they’ll probably return to breed next year—unless you repair the window.”


“So we can use the shed again?”


“Yeah, you’ll just have a bit of a mess to clean up.”


“I’ll let my husband know this, and thanks for the information. We’ll figure something out.”


“Good! And do remind yourself: you were chosen to host this wonderful family. You’re lucky ducks, even if it doesn’t always smell like it.”


I hung up feeling hopeful; rehabbers have little control over the public’s decisions, legal or not. I thought more about how amazing owls are.


There are several species of owls to be found in Tulsa. The most common are the barred, the barn, the great horned, and the screech owls. Of all birds, owls have the market cornered as far as myth, legend, and superstition. I can see why.


The eye of an owl is a phenomenon. Their eyeballs are too large to move, forcing owls to twist and extend their heads to see more than a narrow band of vision. With twice the vertebrae as humans, their neck bones contain air pockets to cushion arteries—which is helpful when turning one’s head 270 degrees to look backwards, and still maintain blood flow to the brain.


Big eyeballs offer more surface area for light entry; owls have more rod cells, which interpret light and dark, than other animals. On top of that, there is a reflective tissue at the back of the eye called the tapetum lucidum; it bounces light back onto the rod cells, which doubles their ability to see in the dark.


But owls don’t hunt by sight as much as they do by sound. Facial discs around the eyes bounce sound waves off their faces and direct them to prey. Many owls have asymmetric ear openings; one is higher than the other inside the skull, so sound arrives with the tiniest bit of lag time traveling around the face. This, too, aids in locating dinner.


But all science aside, we humans are attracted owls in multiple ways, as they ARE magnificent. The enormity of a great horned blinking in a tree; the call of a barred—Who, who, who cooks for you, who?—or the shock of seeing stiletto knives on extended toes just before a barn owl captures dinner; all of those and more have inspired stories we cherish.


So how can we offer owls as much as they offer us? Here are a few ideas:


  1. No more poisons, especially for pest control. When a rat or mouse eats it, their decline makes them easier for an owl to catch. The owl eats the rodent; the owl dies, too.
  2. Don’t treat the grass for several feet deep along the back fence; just let it be, or seed it with native plants. Let the area become what it would’ve been had humans not interfered. It’s surprising what cool things will happen; insects, birds, and wildflower blooms can be fascinating.
  3. If you have a dead tree far enough away from your house, leave it. Gouge out areas to hold rain water; leave a few of the better branches that are 12-15’ high. This creates future owl homes.
  4. Certain species of owls will accept an owl box for nesting. The boxes need annual cleaning, and the homeowner should ensure starlings don’t move in first, but if the owls come one year and are successful in family expansion, they’ll probably return. So creating and maintaining a good space for them is important.


Which brings me to . . .


August. Early evening.


I have the Wing It phone again, and am listening to messages. A woman’s voice speaks.


“Hi, um, I’d like to leave a message for Kim. She’s one of your volunteers, and I talked to her some weeks back.”


I leaned forward, wondering what I’d said.


“She told us a lot about the barn owls in our work shed, and how they helped and all. And we talked it over, and started paying more attention, and she was right: it was two parents and four young ones, really pretty.  We started sitting in lawn chairs after sunset to watch all of ‘em coming and going, then we got our kids and grandkids to come over and watch, too.”


I nodded, grinning so big my face hurt.


“Just seeing them fly was pretty amazing. I guess we kinda got attached, ‘cause we started calling them OUR owls and all, and my husband hasn’t bothered to fix that broken pane they used. We think the family moved a few nights ago, but we can hear them down in the field so I guess it was time. Maybe next year, we’ll hang one of those boxes for them she talked about. But I wanted someone to tell her thank you; she shared a lot of things we didn’t know and now we’re really enjoying having them around. I guess that’s all. Just . . . thank you.”


It was a great way to end the day.

Gone to the Dogs

posted March 18th, 2019 by
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Gone to the Dogs

By Bill Snyder


Nancy Gallimore runs with a strange pack. A self-confessed “crazy dog lady,” she and her friends work together to save countless at-risk dogs every year.


How crazy? Let’s start with her home near Mounds. Right now, she and her partner Jim Thomason are sharing it with 24 dogs. Then there’s the horses, mules, donkeys, hog and other animals that don’t get house privileges. Nancy’s been an animal lover all her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.


“We are outnumbered,” she says. “I’m a professional dog trainer and have been working at Pooches for over 13 years now. Dogs have always been my thing. Jim, it’s always been his thing too. It’s our passion.


“You do learn how to live with them and make sure they’re all happy together. I can’t tell you that I can take any dog into my home, and they’ll be OK—that’s not the truth—but we’re pretty good at introducing dogs and making sure they can coexist.”


With a long history of taking care of many animals at once, Nancy and business partner Lawanna Smith gained the know-how to successfully run Pooches at 5331 E. 41st St. in Tulsa, where they offer daycare, training, boarding and grooming services for dogs.


“I always say she’s the brains, and I’m the one with arms long enough to reach things on high shelves,” Nancy says.


Jim has a background in training as well. They have that many dogs at home because they take in and shelter pups in need, particularly their favorite breed, the Dalmatian. Their charity, the Dalmatian Assistance League, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tulsa.


“Dogs get dumped out by our house fairly regularly. We’ve taken in a lot of dogs that were dropped off on our road, and we find them new homes,” Nancy says. “We’re just not the type to drive by a stray dog.”


The Dalmatian rescue group started in the early 1990s, taking in homeless Dalmatians and placing them in forever homes.


“It’s somewhere they can recover and then hopefully find happy homes, or just stay, that’s fine too,” Nancy says. “Not to look like a hoarder—you worry because you hear of 25 dogs in a house—well that’s not always a bad thing. We are set up for it. We do keep special needs dogs that won’t find a home, or if they’re too old, they can stay. They have a home for life if they need it.”


While they love all dogs, Jim says their fondness for Dalmatians stems from the breed’s desire for connection and to be a part of the family. That trait, however, sometimes causes problems in unprepared households. He says that Dalmatians that don’t get enough attention can act out and misbehave.


“They bond to you and want to be with you more than some other breeds,” he says. “One reason we often get rescue Dalmatians is because people don’t spend enough time with them and treat them like a member of the family. They crave being a part of the family.”


Jim says that in addition to that breed, they also have a soft spot for older dogs, what he said they call “silver muzzle rescue,” those in the last few years of their lives and unlikely to be adopted. A number of their dogs are special needs. He said that they’re passionate about giving them a place to spend their last days and eventually want a facility for older dogs.


“It’s not the fault of any of the dogs we have that they’re in a rescue,” Jim says. “We treat each like our own; it’s not their fault.”


Nancy says she wouldn’t have it any other way.


“We don’t have a house that’s necessarily ever perfectly clean or hair free, but it’s happy, and we’re never cold sleeping at night,” she says. “It’s always at least a 10-dog night.


That’s not the record, but there are a lot of dogs that like to curl up. Our theory is that our foster dogs should live just like our dogs do until they can find their own home, so they can be prepared to live that life.”


Nancy volunteered with a number of animal welfare groups for years and owned mixed-breed dogs, but in the late 80s when she wanted to start participating in obedience competitions, the AKC only allowed purebred dogs, so she got her first Dalmatian puppy. She and some fellow Dalmatian lovers then started a club and a rescue organization for the breed.


“Who knew we’d keep doing it for this many years,” she says. “I’m not sure I even know how to stop. Your name and number gets out there, and it’s really hard to say no if somebody calls and tells you there’s a Dalmatian at a shelter or a stray. It’s hard to not go get it. We meet a lot of dogs. I’m like a grandma; I get to love the kids and then send them to homes.”


Nancy also targets dogs from puppy mills for saving.


“You don’t want to see your own breed, or any dog, suffer like that,” she says. “It’s a horrible existence, so when we can get them out, we do. Sometimes we buy them out of auction, and a lot of people argue we’re just giving money to the puppy mill operation. My answer is ‘that dog is going to sell today; it could sell to another puppy mill, or it can sell to me. If it will sell to me, fantastic.’ We won’t spend copious amounts of money, but if we can, we buy the dog.”

Nancy says she was bringing one of those puppies to work recently, and her business partner Lawanna Smith started falling for it. The dog grew on her, and you can guess what happened next.


“She’s just as crazy as I am,” Nancy says. “Lawanna has her own herd of dogs.”


Nancy says that their intense love of dogs does bring difficulties from time to time.


“If you think about it, in a lifetime most people will have… what’s rational? Five dogs? Unless they have a couple at a time. I’ve had years when I’ve lost five dogs. It’s just a whole different world. As much fun as it is to be able to save dogs and live with them and love them, we also suffer on the other side because we experience a lot more loss. That’s tricky.”


A person with so many animals has to have a veterinarian on speed dial. One of Nancy’s good friends is Lauren Hanson Johnson, a DVM at Hammond Animal Hospital in Tulsa.


“She’s awesome,” Nancy says. “They are so good to us. We could not run a rescue if they were not so good at working with us and giving us breaks when they can. Or not thinking we’re crazy when we call them up at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night to ask if it’s normal when my dog does this, or would you be willing to board a dog for us for a few days. We try not to abuse them, but we kind of do.


“If you’re a crazy dog person, you need a veterinarian as a friend. That should be in the rulebook.”


A crazy time in their crazy dog life was August 6, 2017, when a tornado struck the area near I-44 and 41st Street. They had a full house in the Pooches kennel that night.


“I got a call at 2:30 in the morning from an employee, she was so sweet, who said, ‘I’m so sorry to wake you up. I just thought you’d want to know there was a tornado at Pooches.’ That will wake you up.”


Just getting back onto the property in the immediate aftermath was challenging. Nancy said they had to get around police barricades.


“We snuck in, and I just locked myself in there and hid to take care of the dogs while Jim ran out for flashlights and supplies,” she says. “There was no electric, no water, and authorities weren’t letting our employees come into the building. So Lawanna went and found a police officer and made her come to see that the building was full of dogs, and we weren’t leaving. They were great about working with us.”


The tornado hit early Sunday morning, and by that afternoon, thanks to the resourcefulness of Pooches Manager Lindsay Henry, a huge generator was set up to supply power to their facility. By Wednesday, the water was turned back, on and they were back in business.


While it might seem to an outsider that her world is dominated by dogs, Nancy says that the animals have created incredibly strong bonds with the people in her life.


“I would say that the majority of my closest friendships are because of my involvement with my animals,” Nancy says. “This is not the Nancy show. There’s no way I could or would do any of this—the business, the rescue, my home life—without my partners.


Then she adds with a laugh, “Those people are just as into it as I am, they’re maybe just not as vocal.”

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