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Here’s a link to Lake Minnetonka Magazine’s article about our Westies!!

Wayzata Westie Walkers

A group of passionate Westie lovers show off their LWDs (little white dogs) annually in Wayzata.

By: Nancy Eike | From the issue: June 2012

Photo: Wayzata Westie Walkers

Lynell Voigt joined the group in 2002 and creates elaborate handmade costumes each year for the Westies.

“Here come the Westies!” the parade announcer says enthusiastically as the two-block-long-procession of West Highland Terriers dressed as furry, four-legged versions of Uncle Sam–complete with red, white and blue handmade costumes and matching miniature top hats–comes into view on the downtown Wayzata street; their two-legged owners are similarly attired in patriotic wear.

It’s the 37th annual James J. Hill days parade, and the Wayzata Westie Walkers, who have been participating in the parade since 1996, always know how to make an entrance.

The crowd cheers and hoots in the warm, early afternoon sunshine. it’s a lovely day to be a Westie, and a Westie owner. And the kind of day Ginny Nelsen imagined when she formed the Wayzata Westie Walker group in 1996.

Nelsen was attending the parade the year prior and thought about how cute her beloved breed, West Highland Terriers, would be strutting their stuff down the parade route. “I didn’t know who would help me organize it, but I knew it would be fun,” says Nelsen excitedly, sporting Westie earrings and a necklace, her Westie photo albums and Westie bag on the table nearby.

“A few weeks later I was walking my two Westies and a gal with two Westies came up next to us and we started walking and talking, and she seemed nutty enough, so I asked her if she would help me do the parade,” Nelsen says, “She said, ‘Oh sure,’ and that was that.”

So Theresa Wilson and Nelsen put up signs at coffee shops, on street posts, anywhere they could tell people about their club. That first year, there were 13 Westies in the parade. By the third year there were 150.

Sue Storms, public relations coordinator for the group joined in 1998 and has helped to not only keep the group informed about upcoming events but spread the word about this merry little band of LWDs (little white dogs). She has also fostered relationships with local pet shelters, including Crossroads Animal Shelter in Buffalo, and whenever a Westie rescue comes into the facility they contact Storms, who sends out an e-mail to the Wayzata Westie Walker group (over 500 strong now), and frequently someone from the group will step up.

“Many of our Westies were adopted as rescues,” Storms says.

The creativity meter was cranked up in 2002 when Lynn Voigt came on board. What began as bandanas for costumes before Voigt joined has now turned into a full-scale costume extravaganza at each James J. Hill days parade, with costumes such as bumblebees, hobos, sailors, firefighters, clowns and cowboys. They also put on a style show after the parade, complete with the newest pet fashions from New York.

But this group has proven they’re more than just pretty faces and creative costumes. They support The Pet Project, which is a local nonprofit that collects pet food and distributes it to food shelves so folks in financial difficulty won’t have to worry about giving up their pet. For several years, the Wayzata Westie Walkers have held a pet boutique where group members crafted pet-related items to sell; the money was donated to local charities.

These Westie lovers are keen on getting together whenever they can. During the winter months, a smaller group might meet for a walk in the park; in the summer months, they put together a mini-parade around a neighborhood culminating in lunch in someone’s backyard.

“I never thought my idea would turn into something so big,” says Nelsen, “but we are so delighted and happy it did.”


Catch the Wayzata Westie Walkers at this year’s James J. Hill Days, September 8 and 9 in downtown Wayzata. For more information visit the Wayzata Chamber’s website.

I’ll be a vendor at this event’s opening reception on Aug. 19 and will donate double my usual amount per book sale ($4 instead of $2) to the Pet Project. So, if you’ve a need for a copy of my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,”  for yourself or a friend, please swing by and get a personally inscribed copy and do some extra good with your purchase.—Sid


Gallery 122 at Hang It

August 19- September 10, 2011

Pet Friendly Opening Reception –Friday August 19, 7-10 pm

 Gallery 122 and The Barkery are teaming up to host a benefit for The Pet Project. “Bark at Art” will feature limited edition, signed and numbered prints by local and national artists that are inspired by our furry, four-legged companions. “BARK at ART” will run from August 19 through September 10, 2011, with a pet friendly** opening reception held on August 19, from 7-10 PM. (**Owners are responsible for pets. All pets must be on a leash and current on all vaccinations). The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public. Guests are asked to help The Pet Project by bringing unopened bags of pet food, new/gently used supplies, or a suggested donation of $5.

100% of door donations, and 80% of poster sales will benefit the Pet Project.

The Pet Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to provide pet food and basic supplies to pets whose owners are struggling financially. The Pet Project also provides connections to basic veterinary care and provides information on finding pet-friendly housing. For more information on The Pet Project please visit

Gallery 122 is an art gallery that features different local artists throughout the year. Gallery 122 is located in NE Minneapolis in between Central and E. Hennepin at 122 8th St SE. The gallery hours are Monday and Friday 9-5, Tuesday through Thursday 9-7, Saturday 10-4, and closed on Sundays.

Hello Writers,

First of all, let me thank each and every one of you for your fine efforts on our persuasive essay round of the Petlitzer Prize contest. Judging was difficult, as usual, and this time all the judges were in a dead heat, albeit evenly divided between two pieces. So, we’re calling it a tie and awarding two first-place certificates to Ingrid King and Sara Henderson. Congratulations, ladies! Their essays follow below this introduction.

Their essays will be read aloud by me on Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto’s show, DogWorks radio, Friday, April 1 at 1 p.m. Central. Listen live or access the show online anytime after that from its blog talk radio website. Tell all your friends to listen in.

The next round of the Petlitzer Prize contest will be to write 400–700-word stories starting with the following prompt: “It was a dark and stormy night and my [dog/cat/horse, etc.]…” Have fun creating suspense, humor, whatever moves you. The deadline for submissions on this will be May 31, 2011. For more info and all the Petlitzer Prize rules, click on the link above.

And again, a million thanks to all the talented folks who submitted to this round.—Sid

Petlitzer Prize Round 3 Winners—Persuasive Essays (Two-way tie for first place)

The Truth About Dry Cat Food

by Ingrid King

Grocery and pet store shelves abound with a dizzying array of cat food.   For decades, dry kibble has been the preferred choice for most cat owners.  After all, the bags say it’s “complete and balanced,” it’s easy to feed, and most cats seem to like it.  Unfortunately, dry pet foods, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, are the equivalent of junk food for pets.  Feeding dry food to cats is no different than feeding sugared cereals to kids.

Cats are obligate carnivores.  This means they need meat to survive.  They cannot get enough nutritional support from plant-based proteins such as grains and vegetables, because, unlike humans and dogs, they lack the specific enzyme that processes plant-based proteins metabolically.   They need little or no carbohydrates in their diet.  Feeding foods high in carbohydrates leads to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Many pet owners feed dry food because it can be left out during the day without spoiling while the cat is left at home alone.  This method of free choice feeding is one of the leading contributors to obesity in cats.  Cats, by nature, are hunters, and it does not make sense that they should need access to food 24 hours a day.  Meal feeding twice a day mimicks their natural hunting behavior much closer, and by feeding controlled portion sizes twice  a day rather than leaving food out all day long, calorie intake, and weight, can be controlled without the cat going hungry.

Dry food is the leading cause behind most urinary tract problems in cats.  While cats who eat only dry food will generally drink more water, they still don’t get enough moisture to support all their bodily functions and essentially live in a constant state of low level dehydration, which can lead to bladder and kidney problems.

Due to the high carbohydrate content, dry food dumps unnaturally high levels of sugar into the cat’s bloodstream, which can lead to an imbalance of its natural metabolic process.  In extreme cases, this can, and often does, lead to diabetes.

Dry food does not clean pet’s teeth.  Contrary to popular belief, most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in.  What little they do chew shatters into small pieces.  Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole.  Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

You may find that some cats are very difficult to switch from their dry food, further supporting the junk food analogy.  They’re literally addicted to the carbs and additives used in these diets – not much different from a sugar or carb addiction in humans.  During the manufacturing process, substances called “digests” (fermented by-products of meat processing with no nutritional value) are sprayed on the outside of the kibble to make it more palatable to the cat.  Most cats wouldn’t touch dry food if it wasn’t for these flavor enhancers.  For these hard-core addicts, you will need to transition them to a healthier diet somewhat slowly.  Never let a cat go without food for more than 24 hours.

The one best thing you can do for your cat’s health is eliminate all dry food from his diet and feed a meat based, grain-free canned or raw diet which is consistent with the needs of a carnivore.

Ingrid King

Ingrid King is the award winning author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.  She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational cat nip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans.  For more information about Ingrid and Buckley’s Story, please visit



By Sara Henderson

It is not the same as our love for and from a partner, a parent, a friend or a child. It is a love all its own. This love is a steel cord between two hearts, a cord that ties us to each other, us and our dog.

They live for us.

When we’re lazy, they wake us.

When we need exercise, they remind us of their leash.

When the bills come, they bark at the mailman and shred the evidence (it’s not their fault an invoice and a birthday card smell the same!).

When we go to work, they give us sad eyes so all day long we know we’ll be missed.

When we come home, they act like we’re Obama, Lady Gaga and Prince William rolled into one.

When we sit in our favorite chair, they’re right beside us, making sure we can easily scratch their head or belly without too much effort.

When we sleep, they drape themselves across us to be sure we’re warm through the night (even if it’s the middle of summer).

When we prepare their favorite meal of kibble or canned, they worship us as the best hunter and chef on the Food Network.

When we have a bad day, they rub their furry selves against us and lick away our tears.

When we snap or growl because they want to worship us at an inconvenient time, they don’t pout or sulk; they wait until a better time and try again.

Their love knows no bounds of age or income or bra size or sports ability.

We are their person and they are our dog and that is how it is and how it should be and how it will be until the day it isn’t. That day will be hellishly painful and that pain will last long into the future until it softens to a gentle ache that brings laughter and tears all at once when memories come unbidden at awkward times and sleepy times and happy times and other times.

But there’s a problem.  Too many adored pets are being released to the care of others because their beloved people find themselves struggling. The economy is tough and jobs are scarce and gas prices and food prices and all other prices are climbing while incomes are falling.

Pet pantries are rising up to help avoid this crisis of separation.  Think about that unconditional love. Think about what you would do to keep your own best friend at home with you. Then find a pet pantry near you and donate your time or your money or both.

And try not to judge. Remember that steel cord.

Sara pays the bills writing for corporate clients, and fills the rest of her time at her unpaid full-time job as a founding board member of The Pet Project Midwest, whose mission is to keep pets in the homes they love and out of our over-burdened shelters. She’s easy to laugh and easy to cry and finds that the love of a furkid can make any day brighter.


My hubby and I took our four Westies, Blanche, Keely, Ambrose and Oliver, to Central Bark indoor dog day care center in Edina, MN, yesterday for a Winter-Weary Westie party with about 50 other cute pooches of that marvelous breed. Much butt-sniffing fun was had by all the four-leggeds. (The humans, wisely, refrained from such interaction.) Everyone was asked to bring a pet-food donation for The Pet Project, and we wound up with a small truckload full! (The Pet Project is one of my favorite nonprofits because it supplies local food shelves with pet food and products so that owners who are facing tough financial times won’t have to lose their beloved animal family members. There’s no question but that everything you donate goes directly to needful animals. I’d just had my birthday party two days previous and had asked friends to do a similar donation in lieu of gifts for me, so we hauled over all of that as our donation at Central Bark.) While at the Westie party, one of the other pet parents brought out a healthful frozen dog treat that the pooches went bonkers for. I begged her for the recipe, which she kindly shared, below. Thanks so much!—Sid

Tasty Terrier Treats *

Combine and mix all of the following ingredients either by hand, in a blender or in a food processor:

1 qt. vanilla (or plain) yogurt

1/2 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. honey

1 ripe banana

Pour mixture evenly into a 9×13 cake pan, cover with foil and freeze overnight. Cut into little squares and store in the freezer in a Ziplock bag or Tupperware-type container.

* Edible by people and all other dog breeds as well.

Big idea of the day: Creative FUNdraisers can involve kids.
Anybody old enough to remember Muscular Dystrophy Carnivals? I hosted some in my backyard to raise money for “Jerry’s Kids” back in the 1960s!Why not host your own retro-style carnival? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. And you can charge people one entry fee (in dollars or pet food/toys/litter, etc.), or you can have them buy tickets to use at your “booths.”
THE DUCK POND: I remember we set up a wading pool with water and floated plastic ducks with numbers on their bellies and had little kids use a pole to “fish” out their duck for a prize (something small like a piece of candy or trinket from a multi-pack of toys at a dollar store will do) corresponding to the number.
CAKE WALK: We baked cookies, pies, muffins, and cakes and laid out numbers on sheets of paper in a circle on the grass (weighted with rock so they wouldn’t blow away) and had people walk around as music (the Jackson 5, as I recall, was a favorite) played (on a portable 8-track player) and when it stopped, participants froze at the number they were at. Someone in charge drew a number from a hat and whoever was on the corresponding number on the ground won his/her choice of the baked goods.
SPORTS: We played competitive bocce games, badminton, volleyball, kickball, etc. Go with whatever games you think will appeal to the kids’ age range in your neighborhood.
SCAVENGER HUNT: Send kids out in teams to locate a list of oddball items. Instead of going into strangers’ homes, however, you can make the list be unique, readily identifiable items on the houses themselves or in the front yards of houses on your block. Just have the teams find the items listed and record the address where they spotted it in order to get credit. For instance, you could have written “A pair of concrete lions” and they’d jot the number of the house where these sat out alongside the front steps in a blank next to it. You get the idea. They’re still having to hunt, but there will be no lugging back the items or involving neighbors who value their privacy. The team that gets the most items correctly noted in an allotted amount of time wins.
TALENT SHOW: Get everyone involved displaying their virtuosity on the harmonica, magic acts, song-and-dance routines, puppet shows, outstanding stupid human tricks, etc.
Why have I taken you on this sentimental journey into my fund-raising past? I want to urge you and/or your kids/students/younger relatives/neighbors organize to host a backyard (or National Night Out Block Club) carnival for all their friends—with a wide variety of games, relays, contests, cake walks, lemonade stands, etc.—to raise $$ and/or pet food donations for The Pet Project! All donations go to providing pet food and products to families in need through local food shelves. Help people keep their beloved animal friends with them throughout this recession and other unforeseen life changes such as the owners’ illness or disability. Shelters and rescues are flooding over with pets who, while not neglected or abused, are being surrendered by anguished owners who can’t afford their upkeep.

Kids are often passionate about pets. Why not nurture their generosity and creativity and get them involved in this worthy cause—and have a FUNtabluous time, too? Please, please, please send me any photos or stories of your fund-raising efforts for the Pet Project and I’ll post about it here and on my Facebook Fan Page! Heck, send in a video of your event to fellow animal-lover Ellen Degeneres and get a national trend going! —Sid

See More

The Pet Project is designed to help people keep their pets by offering food to those who are struggling. The Pet Project is working to expand these services to include assistance in finding housing with a pet and basic veterinary care.

I recently got to participate in a fundraiser for the Pet Project and later met the founder of this wonderful organization, Kim Carrier, that is committed to helping families keep their pets with them despite financial hardship by providing a Food Shelf service for companion animals. Please read on to learn more about this dedicated nonprofit and do what you can to support its efforts. —Sid

Our Mission:
The Pet Project helps people keep their pets by providing pet food and basic supplies to those who are struggling.

The Pet Project also provides connections to basic veterinary care and information on finding pet-friendly housing.

Why We Do It:
Good pet owners have deep connections with their pets. Anyone who’s ever lived with an animal knows that they give us much more than they could ever take. We would really like to change the way the world thinks about relationships with pets and the role they play in our lives. The lessons of empathy, compassion, and responsibility that our pets can teach us shouldn’t have to be lost due to poverty or unexpected life circumstances.

Equal to the human experience of that loss is what the pet is losing. None of these sweet creatures should have to lose a loving home. Shelters are over-crowded and underfunded. Rescue groups are bombarded with phone calls. Let’s leave them to do what they do best — take in unwanted, abused, and neglected animals. Let’s support them by not asking them to take in cherished pets. Together, those of us who love and get love from our pets can help others enjoy the same experience. Together, we can foster hope, confidence, and good health for families and their pets.

Who We Are:
We believe that the way we treat the least fortunate among us, those with the quietest voices, those with the least power, and those who reach their hands out for help is what defines us as a society. We are people who find great courage in unexpected places, epiphanies in fleeting moments, and inspiration in the darkness. We believe that if you have more, you share it; if you know more, you teach it; if you have love, you give it.

Kimberly Carrier
Founder of The Pet Project

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I was at the Pet Project’s MN Pet Food Drive to supply local food shelves with food for hungry four-legged family members who are suffering right along with their humans during this recession. One of my co-vendors there was The Dog Perk, creators of fun, unique T-shirts, sweatshirts and other products for dog lovers.

My personal favorite (for which I’ve put in a Christmas gift request with my hubby) is “Dirtiness is next to Dogliness.” Give them a look-see, as well as the pet portraits of Sarah Beth Photography, personalized products of Personalized Pooch—more about these two on my blog’s Pet Loss Memorial Products page—and the touching, profound book, 8 State Hurricane Kate, (below) by Jenny Pavlovic. My thanks to them all for supporting the Pet Food Drive.

I’ll be sure to let you know when I learn how much food was collected at this event.

Here’s what I learned from Lisa at Fetch Delivers, one of the event’s sponsors:

Looks like we just met our goal of 10,000#’s (American Agco gave me 3000+lbs for the event) And over $800 raised and counting, as Fetch will donate some proceeds from the promo we offered to the event goers.

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