I was 40 years old when I presented at my first dog camp: A camp designed for dogs and their owners who want to have a great time in nature. I wasn’t prepared for being wowed, and after 20 years of presenting at dog camps, I continue to be wowed. I am proud to be an instructor with Camp Dogwood, the only dog camp in Wisconsin, and one of only a handful across the country.

Staff and campers find it hard to explain why this experience is so addicting, so much so that many campers vie to get a spot for the next camp before the current one is even over. The closest word that I have heard used to describe this experience is “magical.” I think this is because everyone attending is enjoying valued time with their best friend or best friends as campers can bring up to three dogs at Camp Dogwood. However, that is just one part of it.

People who attend are like me; they want to learn more about activities there that they can continue to do with their dog at home. The camp offers very active sessions such as hiking and lectures about all dog-related topics, as well as hands on activities such as baking for your dog. An incredible bond is formed. It is like what young people often feel when they attend a children’s summer camp. What is different is these camp friendships are not as fast to slip away because social media makes it easier to keep in touch afterward.

Camp Dogwood was started at Camp Henry Horner in Illinois but a few years ago moved to Perlstein and Chi Resort up at the Wisconsin Dells. The move opened even more experiences to share with your dog specific to the Dells area. Every fall and spring, campers are given the opportunity to take a ride on the Wisconsin Dells Ducks and yes, with their dogs! The hiking paths are long and the camp acreage is large and beautiful.

Most of the camps throughout the country are attached to a lake that provides a great place for dogs to swim at the spring and fall camps. At Camp Dogwood in the wintertime, if there is solid ice on the lake, dogs can learn to pull a sled or mush on the lake. Last year, a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seemed to have a better time pulling than even the Nordic breeds.

The variety of activities are vast, but camps pride themselves in introducing sports and activities that are on the cutting edge. This means you can count on something new being added to almost every camp. Some of the newest activities added at Camp Dogwood are core conditioning for dogs, dog friendly yoga, shed hunting and brush hunt. This always keeps the camp fresh.

Like any type of camp, crafts are offered. Most crafts offered center around dogs such as handmade leashes, dog bowls, etched glass, friendship stones, flirt poles or snuffle mats. Dog camps vary in the number of days they run. One of the camps out east, Camp Gone to The Dogs, offers a week of activities while other camps run for three to four days. Alysa Slay and Dave Eisendrath co-founded Camp Dogwood in 2001. Alysa found that some campers wanted a longer experience. Camp Dogwood now offers extended camp, and this allows the campers to come a day early just to chill. Needless to say, extended camp has become very popular. The cost of this experience varies, but it can average around $225 per day, which includes lodging and meals.

National Camps

If anything in this article appeals to you, take the time to look up and research the various dog camps to discover what they have to offer. There are a number of camps throughout the country, and each camp has its own flavor. Here is a list of some of the existing camps: Camp Dogwood, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Camp Gone to the Dogs, Stowe, Vt.; Camp Unleashed, Mass. and Georgia; Canine Club Getaway, Lake George, N.Y.; Dog Scouts of America; and Maian Meadows Dog Camp, Lake Wenatchee, Wash.

It is not unusual for someone to travel across the country to attend a camp. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see different states with your best friend.


Whether it’s a day trip to a dog-friendly state park or a weekend away at a disc dog competition, preparation is key. But where does one start to prepare when a simple Google search can deliver an abundance of overwhelming recommendations? Easy. Start here!

Before any shopping begins, make an appointment to visit the vet. Having a dog up-to-date on vaccines and ensuring their microchip is working will make trips away from home less stressful. A quick checkup can also prevent any minor unnoticeable injuries from escalating while hiking or participating in any physical activity. After getting the go-ahead from the vet, pack these five essential products that are a must-have for an easy, breezy trip.

1. Harness With Leash: Choosing a harness over a traditional collar can prevent injuries and can give the handler more control. A harness disperses the pressure from one smaller area on the neck, to the back and the body. Harnesses are also great training tools as they discourage pulling. When a dog is wearing a collar and pulls on the leash, they are still moving forward, which makes them think the pulling is successful. A harness, whether attached on the chest or between the shoulder blades, redirects them. There’s no reward because pulling doesn’t get him anywhere. Harnesses have varied features and uses to help decide which caters best to the specific needs of each dog. Do your research before deciding on the best fit for your dog. Consider the safety, durability, style, comfort and cost.

Some options may include:
• Nylon
• Soft mesh
• Fleece
• Cooling
• Reflective or light-up LED
• Easy-walk
• No-pull
• Heavy-duty
• Padded neoprene
• Front-clip, back-clip or tightening
• And more…

2. Poop Bags: Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your dog and being mindful about how the bags affect the environment. GreenLine Poop Bags are strong, durable bags that are designed to be biodegradable anywhere, even in landfills.

3. Water Jugs & Bowl: When traveling anywhere with a dog, bringing water is a must, and there are several different collapsing bowls or traveling mugs. For instance, Kurgo’s Collaps a Bowl makes it very easy to give your dog water on the go. This travel companion is barely an inch thick and collapses to fit anywhere. It holds up to 24 fluid ounces and is dishwasher friendly as well as BPA free. When thinking about packing water, the ASPCA recommends bottled water to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach with new tap water.

4. Food and Treats: Every dog works up an appetite when taking on new trails or participating in high-flying competitions, so packing snacks is non-negotiable. It’s also a good idea to keep kibble and treats on hand to reward good behaviors throughout the day and work on obedience training. Choosing the right food or treats is subjective. So go with your gut since you know your dog best.

5. Flea and Tick Collar: In the outdoors, fleas and ticks wait to pounce and can cause some serious health issues if they find their way under your pets’ fur. In addition to using preventive care every year when going outdoors, especially during the spring and summer when fleas and ticks are most active, it’s important to have extra protection. Earth Animal Flea and Tick Collars have a special combination of Virginia Cedar, Peppermint and Almond Oil, and the collars to repel both fleas and ticks. They are safe for animals, humans and the environment. When returning home, don’t skip checking your pets’ fur for fleas and ticks after they’ve been in the outdoors.


After the polar vortex brought in wind chills of -55 degrees at the end of January, it’s safe to say every pup is ready to stretch their legs and embrace spring with fresh and fun things to do. Searching for new activities for dogs to get involved in can be tricky as they range from dog-sports to simply finding mind-stimulating games to give dogs on a rainy day. Whatever the activity level of your furry friend, there’s sure to be something here they can happily put their paws into.

High Activity Level:
Flyball is a new, unique, fast-paced team sport for dogs. The relay-style race is a perfect match for all healthy, high-energy dogs regardless of size, age or breed.

The sport goes like this. There are two teams made up of a minimum of four dogs. These two teams race side by side down a course of four jumps that are set to five inches below the shoulder height of the shortest dog on the team. Once they complete the four jumps, they get to a Flyball box. The box holds a tennis ball that ejects when the dog hits the front of the box. The objective of Flyball is for each dog to go over the jumps, hit the box, catch the ball and return over the jumps as fast as they can with the handlers remaining behind the start/finish line. Each dog takes a turn running the course and the round is complete when all four dogs have passed the finish line with no errors. The win is determined by the fastest team who completes three out of five heats.

The first step to entering the Flyball world is to first schedule and examination of your dog with your vet. It’s important to make sure they don’t have any underlying conditions that might be triggered by the impact of the sport. After the all-clear from the vet, command and obedience training is key.

Flyball encourages the improvement of focus and motivation and is different from agility because it requires teamwork between all dogs and handlers on the team. To be successful, they all must work together throughout the entire challenging, complex and fun sport. Other activities high-energy dogs excel at and require handler interaction and training are agility, disc training and dock diving.

Moderate Activity Level:
Canicross is cross country running with a dog companion and is dog-powered. The dogs are harnessed and attached to the human, and they work as a team to complete the race. The human acts as the driver, directing the dog where to go from behind the lead using voice commands. It’s an easy, low-impact sport for both dogs and humans. It also provides a method to get a human and a canine fit but works the dog’s mind and allows them to use their brain in a work mode. Any breed is welcome into the sport as long as they are fit, healthy and able to run distance.

Low Activity Level:
Dog puzzles and games are a perfect fit for low-energy dogs who prefer to be more stationary. Interactive toys are designed to help keep dogs working, challenge them mentally and get their heart pumping. Every dog is different, which is why different personalities and breeds may dictate the most successful puzzle or game. Regardless of the toy that works best for each dog, the bottom line is that an occupied mind makes a happy dog. Some of the highly reviewed puzzles and toys include the Dog Tornado Puzzle, Treat Maze, Bob-A-Lot and the Dog Brick Puzzle.


Don’t we all want our pets to have the latest and greatest gadgets? Whether furry, feathered or flippers a-flapping, they’re part of our families, after all. But there are so many products on the shelves that it’s hard to know which ones work and even harder to know which ones your pets will actually like.

So we’ve rounded up 10 unusually cool pet products that will make you say, “Why didn’t I buy this sooner?”

1. Pineapple Microplush Pet Bed
Nandog Pet Gear; $49

Your pupperinos don’t have to have square pants or live in Bikini Bottom to nestle in this pineapple-shaped pet bed. Featuring a bright, tropical yellow exterior with a leafy green top, this cheerful and spacious cuddler cave is the perfect hidey-hole for a midday snooze or a sound night’s sleep. Designed with both comfort and convenience in mind, it fits snugly in tight corners and has a non-toxic, polyester cushion that can be hand-washed, keeping it as fresh as an island breeze.

2. Playology Dri-Tech Rope Knot Dog Toy
Playology; $9.99

Do you find yourself buying expensive dog toys and watching them be chomped to bits in minutes or hours, if you’re lucky? Then let your destructo-pups roughhouse with this extra-durable rope knot by Playology. It’s infused with an all-natural chicken, beef, bacon, cheddar cheese or peanut butter scent that lasts for at least six months, even after being rinsed with warm water. Made with fibers that wick away slobber and can’t be swallowed, your woofers will be tied in knots while noshing on this game-changing chewer.

3. Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy™
PetSmart; $39.95

Crate training, thunderstorms and fireworks can make your dogs feel like cables that are being stretched too tight and beginning to fray. Melt away your dog’s stress and curb their bad behaviors, like excessive scratching and snarling, with the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy. It features a real-feel, pulsing heartbeat that lasts up to two weeks on one set of AAA batteries and a non-toxic, disposable warming pack.

4. Noxgear LightHound
Noxgear; $55.95

Made with military-grade CORDURA® fabric, the Noxgear Lighthound is like a party on a leash, with solid-color flashing and slow-fading color modes such as cool comet, independence day and photon burst. With 360-degree illumination, reflectivity and fluorescence, it’s visible for over half a mile. The LightHound is weatherproof, lightweight and machine washable with micro-USB rechargeable LED lights that last up to 12 hours. It quickly slides over your dogs’ favorite collars, harnesses or jackets, making sure that they’re always homeward bound.

5. Petcube Play
Petcube; $129 with 1-year care subscription

Ever wondered what your pets get up to when they’re home alone? While they’re probably not massaging themselves with your KitchenAid, they might suffer from separation anxiety, depression or boredom. If they’re nibbling on your Nike Air Prestos, puffing up at the mailman or swatting at your vintage Tiffany lamp, break their anxiety with Petcube Play.

Featuring two-way audio, night vision and 3x digital zoom, it has a built-in laser that can be set to autoplay. The WiFi pet camera also has a cloud recording video service that provides up to 10 days of timeline history, reporting major sound and motion events straight to your smartphone.

6. Chuckit! Flying Squirrel
Natural Pet Warehouse; $9.99

Here’s one squirrel who loves being chased. The Chuckit! Flying Squirrel is made from heavy-duty canvas that will withstand rugged play while its soft, curved sides are gentle on your dog’s mouth. Fling him by his bright orange “paws” for a far-flung game of fetch. He also glows in the dark for engaging outdoor play, ideal for pets who are active at night or pet parents who work mid-shift. With water-resistant rubber feet, he floats in water for a splashing good time at the pool, lake or ocean.

7. Pretty Litter
Pretty Litter; $22

Unless you’re able to toilet train your cat like Robert De Niro in “Meet the Parents,” you’re stuck with a litter box that has big, ammonia-smelling lumps and dust clouds. Tired of masking the smell of urine and feces with baking soda and lifting 20-pound bags of litter? Try PrettyLitter. Made of highly absorbent silica microcrystals, it traps odors and bacteria while allowing moisture to evaporate. So you’ll only have to scoop the poop. For a single cat, a four-pound bag lasts an entire month and detects illnesses early, simply by changing colors. Yellow and olive green are normal, while blue, red, bright green and orange are telltale signs of UTIs, inflammation and kidney issues.

8. Wooly Snuffle Mat
Paws 5; $39.95

Handmade from a combination of virgin and upcycled materials, the Wooly Snuffle Mat is a playground for your canine’s nose. Hide kibble, treats or soft veggies between its fabric tassels and your dogs will snuffle, snort and sniff their way through dinner or snack time. Available in modern gray and machine-washable, this interactive puzzle toy encourages natural foraging skills by mimicking the hunt for food in grass. If your walks are growing shorter because of sour weather, your jam-packed schedule or your senior pet’s achy joints, it improves learning and memory while burning off excess energy.

9. Rover 7v Battery Heated Dog Jacket with Bluetooth
Cozy Winters, $119

The Rover Battery Heated Dog Jacket is worth investing in before Mother Nature’s next snow parade. Made from a lightweight nylon fabric, it has a neck collar slot for on-leash activity and Phoslite reflective safety trim. This Bluetooth dog vest uses powerful yet lightweight rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can last up to 13 hours. Change its temperature (90°F on low to 104°F on high) on-the-fly wirelessly with the MW Connect app or use the built-in touch control button. Available in navy or red, it also comes in “Rover” for larger dogs and “Rover Mini” for toy-sized pets.

10. The Fat Cat Backpack
Your Cat Backpack; $119

Whether you’re using the Fat Cat Backpack to explore the great outdoors or take regular trips to the vet, it’s never been easier or more adorable to carry your cat. Designed for big-boned breeds like Maine Coons and American Bobtails, this bubble bag holds nearly 20 pounds. It also has a bungee where you can clip a leash or harness so your cat can just hang out. Featuring mesh sides where you can stash treats and a water bottle, The Fat Cat has air holes in the front, a detachable bubble and a Velcro mat that’s machine washable. Available in charcoal or pink, it has enough room for your feline friend to lay down and turn around completely.


There are things in this world that many of us don’t want to think about, talk about, or even read about. I understand that and am certainly not immune to it. I too would like to look the other way and pretend that some things don’t exist—things such as dogfighting. However, there’s a big problem with burying our heads in the sand: Education and awareness can cause big change in our world.

I’ve been educating myself and the public about the heinous “sport” of dogfighting for almost 10 years. It’s almost as hard to teach about as it is to learn about. I’m not a shock value educator. It doesn’t make sense, especially when it comes to dogfighting. It’s naturally scary, violent and awful—plain and simple. There’s no need for embellishment to make it sad or gruesome or heartbreaking. I encourage you to continue reading because the knowledge that you gain could end up saving a life somehow. I promise I’ll be gentle for the ultimate benefit of some potential survivor out there who needs you to pay attention and understand.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that more than 40,000 people participate in organized dogfighting in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands more take part in impromptu street dogfighting. Those numbers are staggering and unexpected by most when they first hear them.

Most Americans have heard of one dogfighting bust in 2007. NFL superstar Michael Vick was caught and prosecuted, and 53 dogs were saved from the appropriately named Bad Newz Kennels. Many think this was an isolated incident or that dogfighting doesn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s likely that thousands of dogs are living a horrific life at this very moment, waiting for their next brutal training session, their next fight and their next day of living a loveless life.

Ten years ago, on July 8, 2009, was the largest dogfighting bust in United States history. Over 400 dogs were removed in 10 hours from multiple properties in multiple states. Those 400-plus dogs went on to have more than 120 puppies in the following 60 days. The surviving dogs and their offspring became known as the Missouri 500. Four years later, on August 23, 2013, the second-largest dogfighting bust took place. This one confiscated 367 dogs from multiple properties and states and became known as the Alabama 367. These historic busts, along with at least three others in the 10 years following the Michael Vick bust, netted over 1,200 dogs from organized dogfighting situations.

Although organized dogfighting is most prevalent in the southern states of the U.S., there are problems in all areas of the country, including Wisconsin. The Milwaukee area had a couple small-organized busts in 2011 and 2014, where less then three dozen dogs were confiscated from each. Milwaukee, like larger cities, is home to a street-fighting problem rather then the large-scale organized rings that are found further south. Street fighting is common in urban areas where people face off their dogs in primarily unplanned altercations. Many times the fights are for resources such as clothes, shoes or small amounts of money. Other times fights are used for street cred or status.

Break the Cycle

There are things you can do to help end the barbaric abuse.

1. Tell your family and friends about this article, and raise awareness of this problem. Education and awareness are the two best ways to end violence.

2. Help local organizations to fight this type of cruelty. Check out the Brew City Bully Club and how they’re working against dogfighting.

3. Support national organizations efforts too. The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA both do amazing work against dogfighting.

We all want to live in a world without animal cruelty, abuse and dogfighting. We all want to see the day when dogfighting has been eradicated from our community, country and world! Get involved in one way or another. The more we unite in our stand against animal crimes, the quicker we will see progress!



The practice of medicine is always evolving. Like other forms of science, it follows a meandering path, sometimes getting lost in false trails and dead ends but always working toward better understanding, better accuracy, better tools and better outcomes. It can be frustrating for researchers to struggle for years to understand a thing or to find out that something we thought we understood was actually wrong, but the trend is always positive eventually. Nowhere is this more clear than in the state of care for type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, which occurs in dogs as well as in humans.

Diabetes has been known to physicians since ancient times, but it was not until the 1700s that scientists began to understand how the disorder worked, and it was not until the 1920s that insulin was named, isolated and purified to a degree that it could be used to treat diabetes effectively.

Dogs have long been part of diabetes research. The Canadian researchers who first developed the use of insulin worked with dogs before attempting the treatment on humans. Unfortunately, dogs’ early role was exclusively as research subject. In the days before animal welfare regulations were enacted, dogs could and did suffer terribly for the sake of knowledge. The silver lining to this grim cloud is that as companion animal medicine became more established, the knowledge gained could be applied to pets as well as to their owners. By the 1940s, veterinary journals were reporting on the diagnosis and treatment of naturally occurring diabetes in dogs. As the care for humans with diabetes has improved, so too the care for pets with diabetes has improved.

For the management of human diabetes, several types of insulin are made, varying mostly in how quickly they are absorbed and how long they last. This allows veterinarians some options in the choice of insulin therapy for dogs.

Another important development in diabetes care has been an improved ability to measure glucose levels in the urine and, later, in blood. Now, instead of choosing insulin doses on the basis of clinical signs, doctors can calculate appropriate doses of insulin that are customized to their patients. For many years, humans with diabetes have used home blood glucose monitors, obtaining small samples of blood from their fingertips with lancet devices designed for the purpose. It is an unpleasant but very beneficial part of diabetes management, and all humans with diabetes who have access to modern medical care are taught to do it. Unfortunately, home monitoring of blood glucose in pets has not become universal.

The obstacles to home monitoring of blood glucose in dogs are several. In the first place, obviously, dogs don’t have fingertips. It is possible for an owner to obtain blood samples at home, using the lancet devices on their dogs’ ears or pads, though some dogs tolerate this procedure better than others. The second challenge, and perhaps more important, is that it can be challenging for veterinarians to teach owners how to correctly interpret the data they obtain. Humans with diabetes get immediate feedback in the form of their physical condition. Low blood glucose and high blood glucose both cause symptoms that often can be recognized and treated before they become too severe. While we think it likely that dogs can feel their lows and highs in a similar fashion, they can’t tell us about it. This means that attempting to keep their blood glucose under very tight control can backfire and cause more serious problems. I know veterinarians who refuse to have their clients check blood glucoses at home because too many clients in the past have misinterpreted the data and caused inadvertent harm to their pets.

How then do veterinarians manage pets with diabetes? We rely on clinical signs and some in-hospital testing. A test called a glucose curve requires the pet to spend the day at the veterinarian’s office having blood drawn frequently for glucose testing; then the veterinarian assesses the information and makes recommendations on how to dose insulin. This test has some serious limitations. A glucose curve paints a picture of one day only, while dogs, like humans, vary day to day, so the glucose curve may give too small a picture. We also use a blood test called fructosamine (similar to the A1C test used in humans) that gives one number to reflect average blood glucose over several weeks, but that may be too big a picture; it doesn’t give details about what time the glucose decreases, how long it stays down or when it goes up.

Enter the newest development in canine diabetes management: continuous glucose monitoring.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) have been used for humans for years. They consist of a tiny sensor that is implanted under the skin along with the accompanying equipment to record the information obtained. Glucose readings can be obtained about every five minutes. Many humans with diabetes wear a CGM every day, using the constant stream of glucose readings to guide their insulin therapy. In some cases, the CGM can be paired with an insulin pump so that the human doesn’t even have to intervene to treat highs and lows; it is done automatically.

Recently, veterinarians have begun to adopt the use of CGM for their patients. There were some bugs to work out since some of the systems designed for human use did not work well on veterinary patients, but improvement has been made, and there are now CGMs that are proven to be accurate in dogs, small enough to be used on even tiny dogs, and affordable for owners. There is no need for a dog to wear a CGM all the time. Rather, veterinarians place a CGM on a patient and leave it for a few days to a week, collecting data as the dog goes about its usual routine at home. Then the veterinarian can use all this information to make better recommendations about insulin use.

CGM is blazing new trails in the care of pets with diabetes. We can hardly wait to see what the next technical breakthrough brings us!

This past winter, I took a huge leap out of my comfort zone, and I left my two kids home with their respite therapist while my husband and I spent a week in Sedona, Arizona. It was an experience. And a cold one at that. But every experience teaches us something about ourselves that perhaps was lying dormant. I learned that I much prefer vacations where there are palm trees, high temperatures and an ocean view. Just kidding, I knew that already.

What I truly learned was that no matter where I go, so does the anxiety of being a mother (to human and fur babies alike). I cannot escape it. But trying something brand new allows me to adjust my perception of my life. It allows me to appreciate what I have but also tweak my goals and wants for the future.

This issue is about trying something new (for you), stepping out of yourself and either trying a new activity or procedure, going to a new place or buying a new product (if you want to start small). Or maybe you want to dive right in and start big. Like join the cause against dogfighting, enroll in a dog camp (in or out of state), adopt a dog or start a canicross team with your best four-legged friend. The sky is the limit.

Everybody needs a change at some point in their life. I just happen to be a person that likes A LOT of change. So explore this issue to the best of your ability. Take notes, make a phone call or two, tell a friend about a dog that needs a home in this issue, but please don’t just do nothing.

Nothing is boring. It’s a sure way to not grow for both you and your dog. The human-animal bond is one of the utmost amazing relationships to develop. It does take a sense of wonder and some pocket change because nothing is completely free. Everything comes with some risk.

To taking risks and adopting change,

Nastassia Putz


If your plugged-in, constantly on-the-go lifestyle has you on the fritz, or you’re cuddle-deprived because of your rental rules, fur-lergic partner or nomadic nature, Milwaukee’s first cat cafe, Sip & Purr, can fill that kitty hole in your soul.

Nestled by Black Cat Alley on Milwaukee’s East Side (2021 E. Ivanhoe Place), the cafe lets you rent time to hang out with cats, while sipping on Ruby’s Coffee Roasters and munching on vegan cheese from The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nearly 2,000-square-foot storefront has a full-service kitchen where Southwest burritos, hummus wraps and s’mores pies are all made in house. “We make our own vegan cinnamon roll with flavors that change with the seasons,” says founder and owner Katy McHugh.

Here, you can drink wine, beer or ‘cat cocktails’, with quirky names like Old Tom Cat and Meowmosa, while petting one of the 10 to 15 adoptable felines that are on the prowl in the cat lounge. They’re sourced by Lakeland Animal Shelter, which houses its cats in a cage-free environment. “They have a stress-free environment that really lets their personalities come out,” McHugh says.

In a typical shelter environment, many of these cats wouldn’t be adopted. There are fearful felines like Jordan who has a blank history and is petrified to socialize with other cats. “Instead of sending Jordan back to the shelter where we knew he didn’t have much chance of being adopted, we gave him his own cage in the back area. He loved it. We spent a lot of one-on-one time with him and gave him treats,” she says. “We left the door open where he could go and come as he pleased. By the time he was adopted, he was a lap cat.”

The cat cafe also rescues strays from Doha, Qatar, where there aren’t any shelters or humane societies. They’re spayed, neutered, chipped and vaccinated by Evenstar Charitable Organisation before they get the green light to make the 15-hour flight to the United States. “They’re fostered in my house for two weeks,” McHugh says.

Since Sip & Purr opened its doors on June 1, 2018, 174 cats have been adopted. McHugh, who has four rescue cats and two Bernese Mountain Dogs, worked as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. She was inspired by a big yellow tabby named Gigi who sauntered over and curled up on her lap at a cafe in Amsterdam. “It had been a kind of stressful trip, and petting her released the anxiety. I told my husband, ‘I just want to open a place where people can drink wine and pet cats.'”

“We’ve done cat yoga every Sunday since we’ve opened, and they’ve been sold out since.” Led by a yogini from Yoga Squad Milwaukee, 10 students bend into cat-cow or prayer squat pose, while their yoga mats act as cat magnets. If adoptable cats like Marley or Zana aren’t stretching on your back, they’re either running on their exercise wheel or taking a break from all the attention while using their litter boxes in a private area.

“Anything with cats is more fun,” McHugh says. If you’re a bookworm or a movie buff, Sip & Purr has a monthly book club and a movie night where you can discuss novels like “Maid” by Stephanie Land or view “Weekend at Bernie’s” with other cat connoisseurs.” There’s also a singles mingle. “It was not my idea but it sold out. It’s a pretty good mix of guys and girls,” she says.

Sip & Purr also brought in Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw, a social media celebrity with 875,000 Instagram followers. There are several pop-up puppy and kitten adoption events already scheduled. The cat cafe has also started a Wednesday morning story time with cats geared toward younger kids. “Our cat lounge concierge wants to do a high tea with petit fours and cats,” McHugh says. While there’s a Drag Queen Bingo at The Wise in Madison, Wisconsin, the cat cafe has drag queen Sylvia Nyxx. She comes out to read bingo numbers and offer mini (sometimes cat-themed) prizes for the winners.

“We’ll be working to be represented at Milwaukee Pride’s Block Party and in its Parade,” McHugh says. “Singles, retirees, story time, drag queens. We want to have something for everybody.” All of the money from the events and cat lounge goes to caring for Sip & Purr’s cats. If you want to attend an event, you’ll have to sign up quickly. The cat cafe is busier than a three-legged cat in a dry sandbox. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday thru Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.


Katerina, or Kate, our cover dog, shares her name with Shakespeare’s famous heroine Katerina from “The Taming of the Shrew.” It seems that both Kates share a number of qualities including stubbornness, intelligence, independence, loyalty and devotion.

Like Shakespeare’s Kate, Lakelands, “Lakies” or “Laplanders” do what they want to do and can be quite bold! The cover dog’s owner Nora Clark says that her girl is friendly and well-behaved but likes things her way! The “Little Tank,” as Nora calls her, loves to be out in the snow but refuses to wear a coat. She loves to play, but can get a bit rough.

History has It

The Lakeland terrier originated in Cumberland, England’s Lake District, sometime in the 19th Century. This makes it one of the oldest of the terrier breeds. As sturdy little dogs with a dense, wiry double coat, they were originally bred to work independently from humans, hunting vermin over rocky terrain. Farmers also used Lakies together with hounds to keep foxes away from their sheep during lambing season. These dogs were bred to be tough, athletic and ready to take on anything big or small that got in their way. Coming from lake country, they adore water. The Lakeland is related to the now-extinct Old English black and tan terrier, the Bedlington terrier, the Dandie Dinmont terrier and the border collie. The Lakeland terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1934 and in 2018 was ranked 138 among registered breeds.

Life at Home

Lakies can do well anywhere, but they do best with a thoughtful and understanding owner. Highly energetic, sneaky and with a mind that never stops, they not only enjoy having a daily job to do, but MUST have one. Because they are very headstrong, Lakies need early socialization and training in order to effectively channel their natural eagerness, curiosity and intelligence. They are perfectly capable of finding their own fun around the house and can get into trouble there. So it is best for their owners to find ways to keep them busy! They love people and make especially great lap dogs! Lakies can take a long time to housetrain, but with patience and persistence they will get there! They may be overly protective of their humans or aggressive around other dogs. They are very intuitive and can really tune into the health issues and moods of their owners. Lakies are good watchdogs, but it is important that they be discouraged from being too barky. They are considered non-shedding, and they are a good choice for people who are allergic to dogs. Cover dog Kate lives with cats, but Nora warned that she would not recommend this breed for those who own kittens or rodents. They do well with children who can respect their personal space.

Keeping Things Active

The Lakeland terrier loves learning, but because they are fiercely independent, they can be a challenge to train for obedience. Lakies do very well, however, in agility, conformation, tracking, rally, and especially earthdog trials, where small dogs such as terriers show off their hunting talents within constructed underground tunnels. They love navigating these courses that are similar to the narrow rocky caves of their homeland. They are becoming increasingly popular as therapy dogs.

Health of Their Own

Lakelands are generally very healthy but can suffer from genetic eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and lens luxation. They may also experience a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease.

Sense of Humor Required

Lakeland terriers are impish, happy, confident and comical. Their clownish antics will make you smile and sometimes make you laugh out loud! They love being the center of attention and are more than happy to assume the role of the star when you are out walking! So owners, be prepared to let your Lakie strut their stuff.

Links: The United States Lakeland Terrier Club is the AKC parent club that supports the preservation and enhancement of the breed, as well as supervising rescue and adoption activities and encouraging sportsmanlike behavior at performance competitions.

Stats: Homeland: Northern England Lake District. Original Job: Being a farm dog—hunting vermin and repelling foxes. Size: 13.5–14.5 inches, 17 lbs. Coat Colors: Colors include blue, black, liver, and red. If saddle marked, the saddle may be blue, black or liver. Grooming: Regular brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing. For showing, meticulous hand stripping is required. Non-show dogs may be hand stripped, clipped, or allowed to have longer, shaggier coats. Exercise: Daily exercise needed. Lifespan: 12-15 years.


What do Eastern Tiger Salamanders, Wild Parsnip rosettes, Blue-Spotted Salamanders and Gypsy Moth egg masses have in common? It just so happens they are all target scents that Field Work Partner Ernie is trained to detect, thus aiding in research and conservation work. A couple of these are “indicator species” which means that their populations are used to monitor trends affecting the environment or changes in particular ecosystems; two others are invasive species that are not native to the ecosystem and cause harm to the environment.

Laura Holder, co-founder and executive director for Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. (MCDI) owns Ernie, a two-year-old intact male Labrador retriever. Holder is a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NASCW) as well as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the CCPDT. “The search for Ernie began after MCDI officially formed in January 2017,” says Holder. “I knew I wanted a Labrador retriever for this type of work due to their desirable temperament, size and working ability.” She found a breeder with a reputation for breeding dogs of sound mind and body and brought Ernie home in March, 2017 at ten weeks of age, and he immediately began his foundational scent-work training.

“At that age, the process is more of a game than work and included feeding him a portion of his meals as rewards,” explains Holder. “We started by sprinkling food on the ground in front of him, then progressed to food-puzzle toys and eventually challenged him by hiding food in the house and backyard,” she adds. His socialization outings also included scent games. “Once he turned 11 months old, he was introduced to his first target odor, the Blue-Spotted Salamander,” says Holder. “This was done by pairing the scent of the salamander with his favorite reward—freeze-dried meat!”

In past FETCH issues, this column has explored the wondrous olfactory capabilities of our long-time best friend, the domestic dog, covering such topics as cancer and stress detection, deciphering if an accelerant was used to start a fire and aiding law enforcement in searching for and apprehending suspects. It just makes sense that scientists and the conservation world would also utilize dogs’ amazing sense of smell. With up to 300 million olfactory receptors, they truly see their world through their noses. This ability, along with their innate desire to play and to work for rewards, makes them a perfect tool for conservation work and research.

Dogs can cover large areas and all sorts of challenging terrain including dense forests, vast prairie-like terrain and everything in between and they can detect a myriad scents including agricultural pests, apiary inspection and honey bee diseases, aquatic species and diseases, forestry diseases, fungi, insects, plants, scat and fur, even if those odors are masked by other odors.

“Every target scat is like gold to researchers,” according to the Conservation K9 Consultancy. Not only can the location and quantity of scat provide information on population counts, but they can identify individual animals including who is related to whom. Scat also provides information on the following: diet, hormone levels, pregnancy rates, stress, disease, and toxicology tests can reveal if the animal is being poisoned. This information helps conservationists to non-invasively keep tabs on endangered animals without the use of traps and tranquilizers and tagging.

Dr. Samuel Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology and Conservation Canines Program, pioneered the use of dogs to locate wildlife scat over large areas in 1997 when Wasser and his team did a study utilizing dogs to locate grizzly bear scat over a 5200-km2 area in Alberta, Canada. The information they gleaned from the scat (sex, identity, stress levels, reproductive status) was supported by what they already knew from studying hair-snag and radio telemetry data on the bears, thus proving that dogs can be a valuable resource in conservation work including work in vast areas.

“A typical work day for Ernie starts with loading all the gear for the team,” says Holder. “We have to be prepared to be 100 percent self-sufficient in the field, including packing our own meals, safety gear and supplies. For a full day of work, we also pack a few gallons of water and snacks because Ernie is a lab after all and loves his treats,” adds Holder. Once on-site, Holder plans out how they’re going to cover the search area efficiently, and then they get started. “When he finds a target, he freezes in place and waits for me to approach and verify,” explains Holder. His paycheck for finding the target odor is food. “I take notes, drop a pin on the GPS tracker and/or drop a flag in the ground, and we continue on,” she adds. After a typical two to four hour on-site workday, they’re usually both covered in burrs and need to do full-body tick checks before heading to the showers. Then it’s time for the human part of the work: compiling the data.

Ernie also participates in Education Programs such as visiting schools, teaching kids about the role dogs play in the environmental conservation industry and the science behind scent work, and then Ernie gets to show off his sniffing super powers for the audience.

When not working, Ernie plays with his brother Oscar and snuggles with Laura and her husband as they watch TV. They also participate in agility classes so that Ernie can stay in tip-top shape for his fieldwork. “Typical of a Lab, he LOVES to chew on bully sticks, antlers and No-Hides as well as play with squeaky toys, and he can clear a frozen Kong in less than ten minutes,” shares Holder.

One of Ernie’s nicknames is Flying Ernie because he can jump straight up like Tigger! Other fun facts include these: Ernie loves stealing bananas from his humans; he’s starred in professional commercials, and he has a signature crook at the end of his tail, making it easy to pick him out of a doggy line-up.

For more information on Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. or to donate, visit