Whether you’re a cat connoisseur, a crazy cat lady in training or a dog person transitioning into a cat person, the Fox River Valley Cat Club (FRVCC) can help you publicly proclaim your “cat-mance” to the world.

The half-century-old organization has 15 to 20 members. Their motto: care, advocate, teach and share. For their Paws to Talk About Claws initiative, they’re teaming up with Almost Home Kitty Rescue in Neenah, Wisconsin to educate the public about the dangers of declawing, such as infection, tissue death and lameness.

“Honestly, there isn’t a lot of representation for cats,” says Olycia Larson, one of the club’s household cat exhibitors. “When we’re at the WBAY (Green Bay) and Winnebago Pet Expos, we get a lot of comments about, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that something existed for cat people like us.’”

Part of the American Cat Fanciers Association’s (ACFA) North Central region, the FRVCC organizes two cat shows every year. The first is a Household Pet show, held in the spring. “It’s a small show. This year, we only had 25 cats and several of them were 4-H based,” says Barb Steele, the President of the FRVCC. “The judges look at the household pet’s personality—not necessarily breed standards.” No points are awarded.

The second is an American Cat Fanciers’ Association Pedigree and Household Pet cat show. “We usually have cat owners from six or seven states show up and eight different judges from around the United States,” Steele says. “A couple of years ago, we had a couple from Florida when there was a hurricane. They had no power, but they still got up here to attend our show.”

While there aren’t any breeders in the club, half of the members show cats. Larson exhibited her barncat named Khan for four and a half years before retiring him. “The most challenging part of being an exhibitor is traveling. You have to figure out the logistics of having a cat in a hotel room because they don’t normally behave as well as a dog does,” she says. “We’ve had a few people have to take apart beds or get behind fixtures or furniture to get their cats out because they squeezed into those places.”

Becky Markvart has been a member of the FRVCC for three years and currently owns one Maine Coon and nine Ragdolls. “I showed my Maine Coon for two seasons. We call him Princess because he cries at every little thing,” she says. “He hates baths and being combed. He decided that he didn’t like being shown anymore. He’s very happy to be retired.”

Markvart started showing her Seal Bicolor Lynx Point Ragdoll, Duncan, at 6 months old in Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota. “You can only show kittens from four to eight months old. Duncan ended up being the sixth-best kitten in North America,” she says. Though he was diagnosed with seizures before his first birthday, last year he was the sixth-best alter in North America and the year before that, he was ninth-best. “That’s how I ended up meeting a lot of the AFCA cat people. I didn’t know much about all the different breeds,” she says. “You get to learn about what makes each breed different from the other and how to tell a good representation of the breed from a bad one.”

If you’re interested in joining the FRVCC, please call
(920)-979-3427, or visit

Ken Young (from Ken Young Creative) went from being scolded for drawing during class time as a youngster to a professional graphic designer with his own business. But the real passion that drives Young is his pencil drawings of pets which bring tears to their owner’s eyes. According to Young, it all officially began back in his college years when he attended MATC (Milwaukee) for Commercial Art and worked on the school newspaper, the MATC Times, as their graphic editor.

“It was during those 3 years that I created countless numbers of pencil portraits for the newspaper, especially for the many different speakers that they brought in to the school. Politicians, comedians, writers, musicians—you name it. My drawings improved over those years, and I became rather good at drawing portraits.”

What do people think of your art? Why pets?

My customers are so grateful for my drawings. Most times I see tears weld up in their eyes, and they tell me how touched and moved they are with the drawings I’ve created. That’s what’s amazed me the most. The emotional effect that my drawings bring to people is the best part of what I do. I was drawing pets (mostly dogs) in the very beginning (40 years ago).

Somewhere about that time, I was displaying my drawings at a craft show when a woman in a two-baby stroller pulled up and said, “I really want you to draw my babies.”

Naturally, I was thinking she meant her two baby children in the stroller. But she pulled out her purse to show me a photo of her two dogs. That’s when I knew dog drawings would be a larger market for me. I draw twice as many dogs as I do people. And through the years I’ve come to understand why. Dogs are members of our families. I truly believe that. And sadly, they are not here with us long enough. Maybe 10 to 15 years if we’re lucky. But the love for their dogs is just as strong as the love for our children and grandchildren.

Do people prefer this medium over others?

Yes. I only draw my detailed pet portraits in pencil. The advantage of that is because I have drawn so many now, I am able to do draw them a little faster. It used to take me about 8 hours to draw one dog portrait and because of that, I had to charge $300 per drawing. Today my drawings only take me about 4 to 5 hours, so I can charge $150—a lot more affordable for people.

What are your more memorable drawings?

A woman that I had done a dog drawing for still tells me “if we have a fire in our house, that drawing is the first thing I would grab off the wall as I run out the door.” I’ve also done five different German Shepherds for a woman who wanted each one as a large 16″ x 20″ drawing. It’s kind of spooky because it threads through her whole house and each one is backlit. These aren’t dogs, but I was once approached by a woman who had nine adult children scattered all over the country, and she could never get them together for a family photo—so she had me draw all of them together! And that’s something she could never have accomplished.


Hayden, an 11-year-old Rat Terrier, doesn’t like loud noises. At the first rumble of thunder or pop of fireworks, she shakes so badly that everything around her vibrates. She also drools and leaves puddles wherever she’s hiding.

Before Anna Cabal adopted her from the Rat Terrier ResQ in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, she’d been seriously burned by her previous owner. She was septic and had little to no skin left on her back. “Then, last August, Hayden went to the vet for a teeth cleaning and had to have some mast cell tumors removed. The prolonged time in surgery on the heating pad caused secondary thermal burns, and her skin reopened,” she says. “I spent ten months with the vets using creams, ointments and dressings of all kinds, but a small, dime-sized opening still persisted.”

Nine months ago, Cabal found a way to close her dog’s wounds within three weeks and control her noise anxiety: cannabidiol (CBD)—a cannabinoid that can be extracted from cannabis—which includes hemp and marijuana.

What Type of Drug is CBD?
“CBD is considered a Schedule 1 drug, but it’s legal in all 50 states,” says Karen Eckert, the founder of My Organic Hound in Holmen, Wis. It’s thought to be able to prevent epileptic seizures, reduce chronic pain and ease separation anxiety, but unlike cannabis’ other main compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t get users high.

Marijuana and hemp are actually both varieties of the same plant species Cannabis sativa. “The analogy that I always give is that a Pit Bull and a Chihuahua are the same species of dog. But, of course, as you know, they look very different,” says Andy Gould, the co-owner of Wisconsin Hemp Scientific LLC in Sussex, Wis. “One is small and cuddly. The other is also cute but can be perceived as fierce-looking and bigger.”

“Marijuana produces a higher amount of THC and a lower amount of CBD,” Gould says, “and in hemp, you kind of see the reverse of that.” According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, hemp is only allowed to have a THC concentration of 0.3 percent in all parts of the plant when it’s been dried—or it’s considered marijuana.

Once hemp has been harvested though, it begins to break down. Sunlight can cause the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) in CBD oil to release carbon dioxide and become THC. High humidity can also make hemp flowers moldy or taste like ammonia while low humidity can cause them to crisp up and dry out. Refrigerating CBD oil can produce bacterial growth, so keep your pet’s CBD oil at room temperature. If it changes color, it’s probably damaged and should be tossed out.

What Type of CBD Should You Use?
“It’s very important to get your CBD oil from a trusted source,” says Dr. Megan Teiber of Indian Prairie Animal Hospital in Aurora, Illinois. “We can’t be sure that all products are pure and don’t contain more THC than claimed or other toxic ingredients like pesticides, fungicides or heavy metals.” If your cat or dog ingests secondhand smoke or marijuana edibles such as brownies or pot butter with other toxic ingredients involved such as chocolate, raisins or xylitol, it could result in severe cannabis intoxication or even death. Cats might also eat the marijuana plant. Symptoms of cannabis intoxication include severe agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, seizures and coma. They usually start within 30 to 60 minutes of oral ingestion but can last for up to 96 hours.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved CBD or issued a dosing chart, but recent studies suggest that it doesn’t pose a risk of addiction and generally causes few side effects. CBD may result in dry mouth, low blood pressure or slight drowsiness and may alter the metabolism of other drugs. Cats can also possibly accumulate hemp oil in their livers. “For cats, what I tell people is one drop a day. That shouldn’t harm them because over time it does stay in their systems,” Eckert says. “On the CBD dropper, there are measurements like a quarter or a half. Regardless of your dog’s weight, start with the smallest amount…a quarter, morning and night.” If you don’t see the results that you’re looking for, then you can slowly increase it, confirms Eckert.

“There’s a lag between when you take it and when it starts working: 30 minutes to 2 hours,” Gould says. When CBD oil is rubbed on your pet’s gums or given as a suppository, for instance, it reaches the brain pretty quickly. But when it’s added to water or baked into treats, it takes longer. Before it reaches your pet’s bloodstream, CBD gets metabolized in the liver, which inactivates some of it, meaning the amount that gets to the brain ends up being much smaller than the amount that’s ingested.

“Every pet’s body has a slightly different chemistry,” he says. “A lot of the CBD products that are marketed as pet products are not that different from human CBD products. The only difference is that sometimes there are certain ingredients that aren’t good for pets like peppermint, citrus or tea tree oils.”

Does It Really Work?
Crude CBD oil is roughly the color and consistency of maple syrup, but some pets hate how it tastes. “We have freeze-dried chicken treats, and I just take the dropper and saturate them with it,” says Debbie Mayer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When she brought home Kolby from JR’s Pups-N-Stuff in West Allis, Wisconsin, he couldn’t even get up. Mayer was told that Kolby wouldn’t live very long when she adopted him.

“We gave him some CBD oil. After two doses, he was able to get up.” Since then, two and a half years have passed. “He’s really an old man, but he can run again at full speed in the backyard,” she says. “CBD oil can be a little bit pricey depending on the dosage, strength and whether or not it’s organic,” she says. A one-ounce bottle can cost anywhere from $30 to more than $200, but “it’s worth it because it’s a life-changer for both people and animals.”

Janice Klein from Onalaska, Wisconsin adopted Ruby from a private home. After Klein broke her ankle, she couldn’t take the Maltese-Poodle mix on walks or to the bathroom. Ruby barely ate and would whine, pace and bark during thunderstorms. “Ruby was anxious and had a difficult time…in my home because of my ankle surgery and my husband’s death at the same time,” she says. “A year ago, I hired a dog walker and sitter for a period of time. Her name was Karen Eckert and, she was from K9 Pet Care LLC. She introduced me to the oils.” Klein started squirting a drop of CBD under Ruby’s tongue.

“She’s more energetic and a great companion. She acts more like a young dog instead of the 11-year-old that she really is,” she says. “When she meets new people, they think she’s just a young dog and not her senior age.”

Eckert suggests applying CBD oil to the base of your dog’s ears with a fast-acting gel pen. “It works in 10 or 15 minutes,” she says. “I use it with animals during thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides or something they’re not very happy with [like a trip to the vet]. It lasts up to 4 hours, and you can give it to your dog six times a day.”


Many years ago, I fell in love with Italian Greyhounds when I saw them competing at a Racine Kennel Club dog show. I even picked out a name if I would ever be lucky enough to have one: Paolo. I was attracted to their elegant good looks, the fact that they were often depicted in Renaissance paintings (I was an Art History major) and that you could pick them up and hold them like cats.

Years later, after settling on the Afghan Hound as my breed, I learned that Italian Greyhounds (or IGs) are indeed cuddly but also every bit the athletic hunters that their other Sighthound cousins are.

As is the case for many of our dog breeds, the origins of the Italian Greyhound are sketchy, but we do know that they were not developed in Italy. It is widely believed that the breed came out of Turkey and Greece about 2000 years ago, where images of small Greyhound-like dogs have been found on ancient artifacts. From there, the Italian Greyhound spread throughout the Mediterranean and by the Middle Ages could be found throughout Southern Europe.

Bred for companionship and as a hunter of small game, the little dogs quickly became the darlings of the aristocracy. Royal owners included Charles I, Catherine the Great and later, Queen Victoria during whose reign the popularity of IGs peaked in England. Frederick II of Prussia especially liked the breed and owned more than 50 of the little dogs! IGs can be seen being held by their highborn owners in Renaissance art and portraits. They were especially beloved by wealthy Italians and soon became known as Italian Greyhounds. In the United States, the Italian Greyhound was recognized by the AKC in 1886 and this year was ranked 73rd out of 193 in popularity.

The Smallest Sighthound
IGs were bred down from the Greyhound and as such have all of the larger dogs hunting and speed capabilities. They are energetic and playful runners and jumpers, but because of their strong prey drive, cannot be relied upon to stay in place off-leash. They are sometimes referred to as Velcro dogs because they like to stick close to their humans and will follow them everywhere, even under bedcovers. IGs are affectionate and don’t like to be left alone for too long. They love attention, although they are not fond of roughhouse play. They are good with children who can respectfully and carefully interact with them.

IGs can be barkers, and for being small dogs, they make good watchdogs. Like cats, IGS love warmth and heights. They enjoy sunshine through a window and sitting on windowsills and chair backs. Because they are not always careful when running and jumping, IGs can injure themselves when they are in high gear.

It is advisable to keep them crated when unsupervised, especially when they are under a year old because their bones aren’t fully developed. They have been known to break them! IGs respond to positive, motivational training. They need it to be fun and seem as if it was all their idea! An Italian Greyhound is a wash-and-wear dog. They have short glossy coats that are easy to keep clean, although they are medium shedders. Because of their need for warmth, a nice warm winter coat is a must here in Wisconsin. As is the case with other small breeds, IGs are sometimes slow to become house trained but will eventually get it in response to gentle positive reinforcement training.

Because IGs are intelligent and athletic, they are perfect for many organized dog activities. They excel at obedience, rally, agility and lure coursing.Their distinctive high-stepping gait is impressive in the show ring.

Home Life
Because they are generally adaptable to any environment that contains the humans they love, Italian Greyhounds can live almost anywhere. They make excellent apartment dogs but do need regular exercise. They love to run and can go as fast as 25mph! Again, they will take off if they spy something interesting to chase, so they can never be off-leash or outside a secure, fenced-in area. Like all of their Sighthound cousins, they are born thieves! And of course, they love being held!
Health Issues
Italian Greyhounds are generally healthy but can be prone to some health issues. These include epilepsy, thyroid problems, cataracts, periodontal disease and hip dysplasia. They are also sensitive to pesticides.

The Best of Both Worlds
The Italian Greyhound is a Sighthound/Toy combination. An IG combines the qualities of a cuddly, loving lap dog with the impressive speed and prey drive of a Sighthound. I’d say this is the best of two worlds found together in one beautiful, portable package!


Italian Greyhound Club of
Italian Greyhound Club of
America Rescue


Homeland: Turkey and Greece, later Europe.

Original Job: Hunter of small game and companion dog.

Size: 13-15 inches, 7-14 lbs.

Coat Colors: Solid black, blue sable, red sable, fawn and cream, sometimes with varying amounts of white coloring. Never brindle or classic black and tan pattern.

Grooming: Regular bathing, nail trimming and teeth brushing.

Exercise: Moderate exercise with regular good romps.

Lifespan: 12-15 years.


Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disorder in which the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump properly. Treatments exist, but many cases are fatal. It is, unfortunately, very common in Dobermans, Pinschers, Boxers and Great Danes and also occurs in other medium to large dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands as well as one small breed, the Cocker Spaniel. Because of the breed’s predisposition, we believe that there is a genetic component to some forms of the disease.

DCM can also be caused by some other problems including a deficiency of certain nutrients: the amino acids taurine and carnitine. In some cases, for example, when a dog is being fed a completely unbalanced diet, it is a simple question of dietary deficiency.

However, there are other cases in which the problem seems to be the dog’s ability to absorb or metabolize taurine properly. Cocker spaniels, in particular, can develop the disease while eating a diet that many other dogs consume without a problem. Taurine levels in the blood can be tested to prove there is a deficiency. Treatment with extra taurine and/or carnitine in these cases has enormous benefits to the heart.

Recently, veterinary cardiologists have been finding DCM at higher rates than expected in breeds that ordinarily don’t get the disease. Most of these dogs had normal taurine levels. Another thing they have in common is that the majority were eating what became known as “BEG” diets which fit into one of three categories:

1. Boutique foods such as homemade diets or those made by small pet food companies.

2. Exotic ingredients not traditionally found in dog food such as potatoes, legumes (peas and lentils), buffalo, venison, tapioca and so on.

3. Grain-free diets of any kind.

Some of the dogs got better when switched to different, more traditional food.

Could there be a connection between these BEG diets and the unusual cases of DCM? A link seems likely. What that link might be remains a mystery since taurine levels were not low in most of these dogs. Veterinary nutritionists and cardiologists are hard at work to sort out all the possibilities. The investigation starts with finding out which foods are most often connected with DCM.

The FDA has released the names of the brands most commonly implicated. Ultimately, we still have more questions than answers about diet-related DCM in dogs. We do, however, have some information that lays out a course for getting some answers as well as protecting our pets.

If you are worried that your dog may have DCM, see your veterinarian. Unfortunately, the signs of DCM in dogs can be vague. Some dogs have no signs at all. Others may have weakness, weight loss, cough, difficulty breathing and fainting episodes. Some dogs with DCM have heart murmurs, while many do not. Of course, not every dog that coughs or has a heart murmur has DCM.

Your veterinarian can take an X-ray of the chest to screen for DCM if your dog is showing signs that worry you. Other tests that may be useful include ECG (also known as EKG), bloodwork and blood pressure measurement. Measuring taurine levels may be useful in some dogs, particularly Cockers and Golden Retrievers.

The definitive test for DCM is an echocardiogram, also known as an ultrasound exam of the heart. Some veterinarians in general practice can perform this test while others refer patients to a veterinary cardiologist or other specialist. Once DCM has been confirmed, testing the patient’s blood for a taurine deficiency is appropriate, but even dogs with normal taurine levels can develop DCM as a result of their diet.

If your dog is diagnosed with DCM, in addition to treating with medications, you should follow your veterinarian’s instructions for feeding. This is likely to mean a traditional commercial dog food. By this, I mean one made by one of the big old-fashioned companies like Purina and Waltham. These are brands containing standard ingredients like chicken, beef, corn and wheat. Even if your dog does not have DCM, veterinarians involved with the research recommend avoiding BEG diets until we understand more about the problem.

Many dog owners are taken aback at suggestions that they should give their pets food made with ingredients like chicken and corn. Heavy advertising by some of the BEG manufacturers has led owners to believe that traditional ingredients are harmful to dogs or that there is some nutritional benefit to feeding an exotic or grain-free diet. There is no truth to this belief. While the idea of feeding your dog like a wolf is appealing, the fact is that dogs are not wolves. I have never heard of a pack of Pugs taking down an elk and eating it. Dogs have adapted to eat chicken and grains, and most of them do very well on them, with the exception of the minority which have allergies or food intolerances.

Some dog owners don’t trust the large dog food companies, especially after hearing about contamination and recalls. Personally, I feel safer giving my dog food from a large company. While the big dog food companies have certainly had some quality control problems over the years, they actually have fewer problems of this type than the small boutique companies. As much as I love the idea of my dog’s food coming from a family-owned startup—cooking in their home kitchen with the recipe that always kept Grandpop’s dogs in fine trim—when it comes down to it, I want my dog eating food that has been made by a company that has a research laboratory with veterinarians on staff. I want nutritional expertise. I want them testing their product for safety, decreasing the chance that any problems make it to market. I want them doing feeding trials to see what happens to a dog that eats their food, and only their food, for months at a time. I want them doing research to figure out what new tweaks they can offer to give my dog a wholesome food that will keep her healthy.

Feeding a dog food made by a large company may not be as satisfying as boutique food. It may not make me feel as if I’m treating my girl like the unique and integral family member she is. But ultimately, it’s not about my feelings; it’s about what’s good for her. I won’t risk her life to follow trends and marketing ploys at the expense of nutritional expertise.


Ask Rebekah Hintzman who’s leading the way for her new nonprofit, Pawsitism, and she’ll tell you that Isa the Goldendoodle and Finne the English Golden Retriever are “two smart puppies paving the way for an amazing organization.”

Located at 1229 Erie Avenue in Sheboygan, Wis., Pawsitism trains service dogs to become anchors and best friends to children with autism. After they complete the training, the dogs are placed, free of charge, with a family in need.

For families facing the challenges of autism, pets can play a significant role in their social lives. Research has found that dogs can act as a stimulus for social interaction. In fact, a University of Missouri study recently found that children with autism have much stronger social interaction skills when they live with any kind of pets at home for a prolonged period of time.

The dogs are trained to perform deep pressure therapy when a child becomes upset or panics by applying pressure to help calm them. They also learn deep gaze therapy where they look at the child directly to help bring their stress level down. Isa and Finne are hard at work perfecting their service skills in an 18-month-long training program. They will also be trained in search and rescue, in case a child becomes lost. Both are confident swimmers who can keep children safe in the water.

“The dogs also learn tether/anchor techniques where the child is actually tethered to the dog, and if the child wants to bolt, the dog anchors and freezes to not allow the child to move away,” Hintzman explains. “The dogs can also go down slides to make playgrounds more fun for the child and encourage them to engage with other children.”

The organization was founded in 2018 when Hintzman made the decision to follow her dream and create a non-profit to train service dogs for families facing the many challenges of autism.

“I found some people who were passionate about disabilities and helping the community, and a year later in January 2019, I, Tamara Pool and Deb Trcka formed a board, and it all officially started. Katie Shaw recently joined and has been helping with the organization as well,” she says.

The goal, according to Hintzman, is for the dogs to become the children’s best friend, anchor and safety net. The canines provide companionship, giving the child confidence that they are not alone. The dogs can also help them stay present and focused.

“For children who are not verbal, the dog is their voice,” she notes.

Pawsitism is funded through local donations, but the organization is also pursuing grants, sponsors and donors to help it grow. It is 100 percent volunteer-run.

“We are always looking for people who are interested in becoming puppy raisers to care for the dogs for 18 months while they train for their roles,” Hintzman says. “We also have puppy sitter opportunities along with service dog training opportunities.”

It takes a village to care for, feed and train the dogs. Area veterinarians, groomers, food suppliers and many other businesses support the organization with free care and nutrition for the dogs. Meanwhile, future goals include outings on planes, trains and automobiles for the pups.

“We’re planning trips to Chicago on the train and want to practice flying to New York. We need to find an airline to practice on,” Hintzman says.

Wink, wink.

For more information,
visit Pawsitism Inc. on Facebook.

Dear FETCH Friends:

What is magic? When I look at the picture above, I feel magic flowing in my veins. Magic is a tingly sensation. It’s the feeling you get when you can’t explain why you love something so much! It’s knowing that you would go to the end of the world for something other than yourself. That is what this issue explores … along with some more fun pieces about animal folklore and symbolism. The first article on page 7 is about the magic between an autistic child and a dog. As a parent to an autistic son, this gives me hope. Everyday I witness the love my son has for our dog. Some days can be a bit challenging—he can be a little handsy and squirrelly—but with redirection a more productive encounter can occur. If it were up to me, every autistic child would be paired with a service animal or companion animal because the change in the child is remarkable. Animals are great healers and conduits for communication.

The article on page 15 by Dr. Tiffany Mitchener titled “The Magic of Pet Ownership” is a great piece that touches on so many different aspects of how animals create magic in our lives. So if you get a chance, please peak through the whole issue to see what it has to offer you. From magic tricks to folklore to animal symbolism and much more, this issue is unique. Please enjoy!

To creating magic in your world,