animals

Pampered and primped cats strut their stuff at cat show in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Persian cat named Pink Parasol was primped and pampered – waiting for her time to shine on the cat show stage at the Bowling Green Community Center on Saturday. She was stretched out on cushions, with a coffee filter as a collar around her neck to keep the rest of her coat clean. Next to Pink Parasol was her stage kit – with a spray can of static guard, cosmetic powder, makeup brushes and pads to cover up last minute dirt, and Tic Tac mints. “That’s for me,” owner Zayda Stephens, of Lansing, Michigan, said of the Tic Tacs. Pink Parasol was one of about 120 pets at the Cat Fanciers Show held in Bowling Green. The felines and their owners came to compete from several states – New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. About 120 cats were shown at Cat Fanciers Show in the community center. The shows are a way of life for many of the cat fanciers and their felines. Stephens takes her cats to about three shows a month. And since her cats are Persians, the primping is very time consuming. The cats are bathed twice a week, then blown dry with a professional hair dryer. Pink Parasol, with her 7-inch long hair that makes her look about twice as big as she is, can take up to two hours to dry properly, Stephens said. Most of the breeders at the show pick one type of cat and work to perfect the breed. For Stephens, that’s Persians. “They have a very sweet personality,” which includes a laid back lifestyle, she said. Persians are known for their daily brief energy spurt of about 15 minutes, then they are ready to rest again. “They don’t climb the curtains.” Stephens has been breeding Persians for about 15 years. She confessed it is very difficult to part with kittens – but added that it’s better for them to not have to share an owner with too many others. “It’s best if they can have their own lap,” she said. Judge Gary Powell looks over an American Wirehaired cat. The cat show was put on by the Cat Fanciers Association, which has been the “premier” cat organization since 1906, according to the show organizer, Debbie Allgire of Bowling Green. Six judging stations were set up for the competition. In addition to…

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Unleashing skills of dogs to serve human beings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The black lab Porsche kept her eyes on her trainer, despite the dog treats scattered on the floor in front of her – including one sitting on her paw. Her salivary glands sent drops of slobber onto the floor, but she continued to obey the order to “leave.” Porsche is in training to become a service dog for Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, located under the Ability Center umbrella in Toledo. She and Jordan Kwapich, client service coordinator with Assistance Dogs, presented a program recently for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Kwapich, a Bowling Green State University graduate, works to match up service dogs with the people they will serve. The program currently has about 150 matches, and places about 20 dogs a year. “I have been a dog lover all my life,” so the job is a perfect match for her, Kwapich said. Her job is to screen clients before they get service dogs. “I get a feel of what their personalities are,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing – matching the personalities together.” “Our goal is to help people be as independent as they want to be,” Kwapich said. Most of the dogs trained are Labrador or golden retrievers. “We love their temperament,” she said. “They are very social and friendly.” Not all canines are made to be service dogs. “We look for a dog that’s very confident, work driven, not afraid of things.” They must also have a lot of energy. “They need to keep up with their person’s needs.” The agency trains dogs to fill the roles of service dogs, special needs dogs, and school therapy dogs. Most start their training as puppies, and are placed with a person when they reach 2 years old. “They have most of the puppy stuff out of their systems by then,” Kwapich said. The dogs are trained to perform such tasks as picking up dropped items, pushing or pulling open doors, delivering a telephone to their owner, helping with transfers from chairs or to bed, retrieving items from cabinets, and opening a refrigerator to get items like bottled water. The dogs learn to be problem solvers. “It’s pretty amazing,” Kwapich said. “Dogs are very intuitive.” The dogs trained for special needs clients learn skills to assist people with autism or Down’s syndrome. During training, the dogs live with volunteer foster families,…


Kids beef up their skills raising livestock for county fair

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Months of wrangling hefty cows, getting up for early morning swine feedings, and coaxing obstinate goats may pay off this week for kids showing their livestock at the Wood County Fair this week. As adults were setting up carnival rides and food stands Sunday in the front of the Wood County Fairgrounds, kids were getting their livestock ready to show. Kassie Fintel, 17, has been building a relationship with Tot, an 800-pound beef feeder, since February to prepare him for the fair. Basically, it comes down to teaching some manners to Tot (whose twin is of course named Tater). “It’s so much work,” said Fintel, who goes to Bowling Green High School. “It’s countless hours every summer.” In addition to the feeding and cleaning of stalls, Fintel spent quite a bit of time walking Tot. “We have to walk them or they won’t be broken for the fair,” she said as she nudged Tot into position. During judging, Tot will be asked to show that he can raise his feet when tapped with a stick, set his feet square, stand quietly in the ring, and walk without running. “Basically, manners,” Fintel said. At that moment, Tot decided to ignore Fintel and instead chew on a ribbon tacked to the fair pen. “I love his personality,” Fintel said. “He’s such a little dog basically. He doesn’t realize how big he is.” Fintel also shows her quarter horse, Tuck, at the fair. That is less of a challenge since she and Tuck have been partners for years. “My horse has been trained, and we know what we’re doing,” Fintel said. At the barn next door, goats were being weighed in for the week. Though many of the animals showed reluctance to comply with their owners’ wishes, the goats clearly won the prize for being the most ornery. Mason Roe, 11, of Weston, was waiting with his goats, Trixie and Scarlett – neither who were particular about the spellings of their names. “They’re funny,” Roe said. “They walk and jump.” Like the other kids at the fair, Roe has spent months feeding, cleaning, shaving and walking his goats. He found that the pair had a fondness for eating corn. However, since goats bloat up with too much corn, he usually feeds Trixie and Scarlett specialty feed and hay. His goats weighed in at 102 and…


Wood County Fair making history with $2.2M building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The history of the Wood County Fair has been recorded since its debut in 1851. In years to come, the history of the 2018 fair will undoubtedly note the disappearance of the old livestock barns and show arena – replaced with a shiny new $2.2 million building. “It feels good that we’re to the point of completion,” said Steve Speck, president of the Wood County Fair Foundation. “There have been countless hours put in by the foundation to work on the details.” Speck presented a program on the new fair exhibition building Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis. But first, retired 4-H agent Dick Martin set the scene with a bit of fair history. The first Wood County Fair was held in a grove of trees north of Wooster Street, between Church and Grove streets. After 1851, the Wood County Fair jumped around from Bowling Green, to Perrysburg, to Portage, to Tontogany, and back again many times. In fact, for a series of years it was held in two towns because of warring fair factions. The county fair was, for many, the event of the year. It attracted families in their best clothing for food, music and competitions. Some records show that the Wood County Fair had the second highest attendance of any county fairs in the state. In 1882, the area currently used as Bowling Green City Park was purchased for the fair. Among the first buildings constructed were Needle Hall, Veterans Building, the Depot, and Girl Scout Building – which was formerly called the Women’s Christian Temperance Building, Martin said. The county fair often represented the times. In 1854, a cholera outbreak drastically cut attendance, in 1896 a group of “hoochie-coochie” dance girls stirred up trouble, and in 1962 ostrich races were held. In 1883, fairgoers could purchase side tickets to watch the hanging of Carl Bach, who murdered his wife with a corn knife. In the late 1920, the H.J. Heinz Co. put on pressure to change the fair date so it didn’t conflict with tomato harvest, because the company couldn’t find enough employees to show up at work to bottle the ketchup during the fair. “The fair was pretty big stuff,” Martin said. During its heyday, the county fair was said to have set a record attendance of 21,000 in one day. But when the economy tanked in…


Pets get all groomed and gussied up for annual show

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like a pageant mom arriving without hairspray, it didn’t take Jordan Cravens long to realize she and bulldog Reggie were going to be out-glamoured at the pet show in City Park Wednesday evening. “We can already see we’re way out of our league,” Cravens said as she looked out over the competition at the annual show sponsored by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Reggie had been signed up for the categories of cutest and best dressed – but both seemed out of grasp with the throng of dolled up dogs waiting to take the stage. “I can see the bow tie is not going to be enough,” Cravens said. How could Reggie possibly compete with the golden retriever dressed as Harry Potter, the German shepherd as football player Johnny Manziel, not to mention the smaller breeds in their tutus and tiaras? “Clearly, these dogs prepare year-round,” Cravens said with a smile. On the plus side, Reggie had not yet puked due to pre-pageant jitters. The pet show featured the furry and funny pets of the community. There were the customary dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs, hedge hogs and hermit crabs. And as usual, the competition was fierce, and the judging was nerve-wracking. Before any animals took to the stage at Needle Hall, judges Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett and BG Police Animal Control Officer Tom Sieving agreed that some categories are always difficult to decide. Take, for example, the cutest dog category. That’s really subjective, the judges said. “The tough part is when the kids are really into it, and you let them down,” Fawcett said. “Some of the parents are really into it, too,” Sieving added. The pets were judged in categories like best pet trick, best dressed, birds that talk or tweet the loudest, and pet that looks most like its owner. There were also categories for shaggiest, longest ears, slimiest reptile and funniest name – which was won this year by Sir Oliver Purrsalot. The feline beat out the hedgehog named Feisty, who lives up to his name, according to young owner Quinn Rader. “He’s feisty at night and unfortunately at day, too – even though he’s supposed to be nocturnal,” Quinn said. This year, the pet show had a new category of Pet Rocks, working with the Wood County District Public Library’s…


Dog warden reports on changes at county dog shelter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County dog warden is not like an old dog that can’t be taught new tricks. Chief Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said Tuesday morning that he is always looking for ways to improve operations at the county dog shelter. Those changes include more visible signage for the shelter, more dog license sales, increased outdoor exercise for the dogs, improvements to the dog park, decreases in dogs euthanized, and increased efforts to find homes for impounded dogs. Last Friday, approximately 50 protesters rallied in downtown Bowling Green to protest dogs being euthanized at the Wood County Dog Shelter. Snyder reported to the county commissioners Tuesday that the dog shelter’s euthanasia rate is 8 percent – far lower than the 40 percent rate a decade ago. Of the 184 dogs impounded so far this year, 81 were reclaimed by their owners, 45 were adopted by new owners, 35 were taken in by rescue organizations, and 15 were euthanized. “I think our adoption statistics show we have a really good relationship with our rescues,” he said. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw asked if some dog owners surrender their dangerous dogs to the shelter for euthanasia. “Do they bring them to you with that in mind?” Snyder said that does occur, and added that some owners drop off older ill dogs. On Monday, the shelter took in four new dogs, he said. One was a pit bull whose owner has been incarcerated, and the family cannot take in the dog because it is aggressive toward other dogs. “We take in a dog like that and do our best to find that dog a home,” Snyder said. But fewer rescue groups are available to take in such dogs. “It’s a never ending process to try to find a home for these dogs.” Snyder reported on some improvements to the commissioners, such as: Revisions to a kennel worker’s hours now allow the dogs to get outdoor exercise time six days a week. A new, more visible sign will be erected at the dog shelter, located in the county complex off East Gypsy Lane Road. Other signage options are being considered at an entrance to the complex. Workers have made more door-to-door checks for dog licenses, which should result in more license sales this year. More “dangerous” dog licenses have been purchased, as required by state law. “So we’re seeing…


‘Every Dog Matters’ rally critical of county dog warden

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 50 people carrying signs and holding leashes marched Friday evening in Bowling Green to profess their love of dogs and protest euthanasia at the Wood County Dog Shelter. Dwight Stinehart, of Portage, brought his three-legged boxer, Shrek, to the “Every Dog Matters” rally in the Wooster Green. The dog shelter is too quick to euthanize, he said. “We just want to raise awareness,” Connie Donald, of the Wood County Canine Alliance, said as she held a sign saying “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” “Things have been done the same way there for 20 years,” Donald said of the county dog shelter operation. The primary objection of the Canine Alliance members is that dogs are mislabeled as being aggressive and are needlessly euthanized. “We don’t think every dog can be saved,” Donald said. But she does think the county can do better. Last year, 74 dogs were euthanized at the Wood County Dog Shelter. That’s too many, according to members of the Canine Alliance. But according to statistics from the dog shelter, the percentages of dogs euthanized at the shelter have been dropping over the last decade. More than 40 percent of the dogs brought into the shelter in 2009 were euthanized. When Andrew Snyder took over as chief dog warden in 2001, nearly a quarter of the dogs brought to the shelter were euthanized. The number has been gradually dropping, hitting a low of 9.3 percent so far this year, Snyder said. Efforts have increased to return the dogs to their owners (47 percent), adopt them out to new homes (25 percent) and transfer them to rescue groups (19 percent). But Donald questioned those numbers, suggesting that Snyder isn’t counting the dogs declared “unadoptable” in the euthanized tally. Consequently, the protest signs calling Snyder the “Death Warden,” and stating “Stop killing our dogs,” “Silence = Death” and “Commissioners listen to your voters.” Members of the Canine Alliance believe that the evaluations conducted on dogs at the shelter are not fair, and do not take into account the stress the dogs are under in the facility. The dogs deserve enrichment, outdoor time and attention. “They are not meeting the emotional needs,” Donald said. “You can’t just get a dog and expect it to be perfect.” Karen Ash said shelter workers need more empathy for the dogs. “We want…