The pawer women are here! The ending of one year and the beginning of another brings with it great joy and reflection: In 365 days, a lot can…and does…happen. As is our year-end tradition, Fidose of Reality announces a list of women in the pet industry who go above and beyond. In some way, shape, or form, these ladies did something to impact the lives of dogs in 2016 (and no doubt long before that and for many years to come). They make a difference, they are folks you should follow, read, get to know, and whose advice/presence/knowledge goes above the norm. Fidose of Reality celebrates the 2016 Pawer Women.
This year, we are naming the Pet Parent of the Year: This is a dog mom who goes above and beyond and through his or her actions, hopefully inspires others to make a difference in the life of a dog. Without further ado, here are the Fidose of Reality 2016 Pawer Women:
Naomi is a kindergarten teacher by day and she fosters one Cocker Spaniel after another outside of her day job. Besides that, she is a wife, mother, and always has time for a kind word and a loving sentiment online. I fell in love with the actions of Naomi in seeing the photos of her foster dogs one after another, guided by Naomi’s love, and then being adopted to a forever, loving family. It takes a special kind of person to open their heart and home to a dog, only to see him or her start anew somewhere else.
In her own words, she says, “I volunteer for San Diego Spaniel Rescue and have been fostering dogs for them since 2009. I have also learned how to groom Cocker Spaniels and groom all the fosters when needed. Well-groomed dogs are more appealing and therefore, more likely to get adopted. It also allows the rescue to save money on grooming and use those funds for medical costs. Fostering has not only educated me about dogs (Cockers are really Kindergartners with four legs and fur) but about people as well.”
Her one word that sums up 2016 is: Surreal. She says that politics at the local and national level made this year made her feel like she was living in an episode of House of Cards or Scandal. Then out of the blue, she says she was so surprised being named as as the Fidose of Reality Pet Parent of the Year, which is being announced on her parents’ anniversary.
We hope that Naomi inspires everyone to take one step forward and help a dog in need. If you can’t physically foster a dog, consider cyber fostering a dog. You simply donate every month to your favorite rescue. Ask that your dollars be donated to a specific dog.
Congratulations, Naomi! We raise our sparkling water dish to you!
Help out the San Diego Spaniel Rescue in Naomi’s honor.
Megan Denize: The World’s First Virtual Pet Detective
“Inspector Spot fills the gaps that were missing in existing missing pet websites by delivering a suite of services that nobody else delivers anywhere in the world,” Megan says. This New Zealander first crossed our path at at BlogPaws Conference here in the states. She is dynamic, personable, and incredibly dedicated to pets: You realize these things in knowing her for five minutes.
She developed Inspector Spot four years ago, after fostering over sixty cats. She discovered that a whopping 1 in 3 pets go missing, and most simply weren’t finding their way home. They were ending up in the foster system or in shelters, being euthanized or rehomed with new families. Megan felt that in this modern day and age, with the technologies available, something had to change. So she did what any pawer woman would do: She became the change she wanted to see in the world.
Inspector Spot fills the gaps that were missing in existing missing pet websites by delivering a suite of services that nobody else delivers anywhere in the world. As soon as a pet goes missing, they send a targeted alert out to the vets, breeders, pet stores and rescue groups in the area that the pet is most likely to be. This alert includes a professionally designed Lost or Found Poster, which is generated instantly. Every pet parent receives a comprehensive guide to locating their particular type of pet. We supply separate guides for cats vs dogs vs other pets as every one of them behaves differently when missing. Our guides help each pet parent to understand where they need to be focusing their search based on their pet’s personality, how they went missing, the environment they went missing in and whether their pet is familiar with the area they were last seen in. This guide is based on decades of research into missing pet behavior. It helps to keep upset pet parents focused on doing the right things to find their pet quickly.
They give each pet parent access to a Certified Pet Detective to help out with questions and concerns along the way. They provide a system that electronically matches lost and found pets as they come through our website. This system alerts both parties when we find two pets that potentially match and puts them in direct contact with one another.
Betsy Berger goes above and beyond and genuinely cares about pets. Having a career in the pet industry means I get to meet very special people and Betsy is high atop that list. She is the Communications Manager at Merrick Pet Care, and her passion for animals shines.
In her own words, “I have the Best Job Ever because I get to interact with our pet parents and their dogs and cats through our social media efforts, our blogger outreach and our communications. Everyday learn about the meaningful role pets play in our lives through the beautiful and adorable photos, videos and stories shared with us at Merrick. In turn I enjoy working with our team to provide our pet parents the information they need to make the best decisions about their pet’s diet and nutrition.”
She says that everyone thinks their dog or cat is the best ever, and none of them is wrong. What you don’t know about Betsy is that she genuinely takes an interest in the lives of the animals around her and from sea to shining sea. Case in point: She worked with us in helping Baby Joey of NYC Second Chance Rescue get the help he needed for a healthy diet and a healthier life through the generosity at Merrick Pet Care.
If you don’t know who Baby Joey is, Baby Joey was found as a puppy with nearly both of his rear paws chopped off: By an unspeakable monster. He was nurtured, cared for, and thanks to Berger taking the lead for Merrick, he began to thrive under the care of NYC Second Chance Rescue and he now has his forever home. She also took the time out of her busy life to attend the Wigglebutt Warriors’ fundraiser, Wigglebutts Uncorked, this year in New York. We are in awe and in paw of you, Betsy!
Felicia Christenson: Social Media Manager, Kicking Cancer’s Ass
We’ve had the pleasure of knowing “Flea,” as she prefers to be called, for a number of years. She always has time to talk to folks, say hello online, and is a staple in the pet blogging community. In 2016, she shared the ups, downs, and reality of dealing with cancer. In her own words:
“This has been a rough year. Personally, I’ve been battling stage three cancer while still blogging. It really put a crimp in my plans for the year, but it’s been a year of blessings. Cancer made being a dog owner and lover quite difficult. From the thought of possibly losing my senior dogs to age related issues WHILE battling cancer (the thought was more than I could bear), to lap dogs landing on my scars and scratching my thin skin, it was tough. But we made it through with plenty of help. Next year I’ll be working on dog behavioral issues I believe are related to this upside down year.”
All year long, Flea kept her readers in the loop regarding her battle with cancer, how the treatment has gone, including side effects, and how it has effected the dogs. She admits she wouldn’t want to do it again, but it’s been an amazing growth and learning experience. She also found out how much she’s loved, she says. (We who know her could have told her that a long time ago.).
“She couldn’t have survived this adventure without family and friends.”
Amy Jo Hanna Eckenrode: Newspaper and Blogger Guru, Advocate of Adopting Hard-To-Place Pets
There’s a theme here: These pawer women mean businesses and they have hearts of gold. Amy Jo is no different: In fact, she is one of a kind and we are proud to call her a friend. Amy Jo’s official title is Audience Retention & Circulation Sales Manager for the Altoona Mirror, but she also is the Editor for Central PA Pets magazine and is pet parent to a complete Noah’s Ark of babies. She is the current proud mom of rescue dogs: Hope, part mutt/aardvark, Mabel, a German Shorthair Pointer/Chocolate Lab; and, Chase, a Golden/Collie mix; plus, 6 of the sweetest rescue cats, BoBo, Gracie Louise, Grayer Joe, Odi – star of her own FB page “The Miss-Adventures of Odilia”, Katie and Krusher. (Her beautiful Golden seniors, Candy, Keetie, Jesse, Mazey, Ginger, Oakley and Milo and cats Eli and Milo still remain forever close to her heart just like all her other rescues she has fostered/adopted.)
Quite the handful, indeed, but Amy Jo would not have it any other way. She and her husband, Ray, have opened their home to many dogs and cats over the years turning their home into nothing short of a zoo – or barn, as her mother calls it. Home is where the heart is and there is no shortage of unconditional love at the Hanna-Eckenrode household — ever!
Oh and if that isn’t enough, every year, Amy runs the ship that is the Central PA Pet Expo, where she so graciously has invited us to have a booth and spread the Fidose of Reality and Wigglebutt Warriors love.
Geralynn Cada: Pet Product Creator, Certified Dog Trainer to the Stars
Geralynn Cada is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, AKC CGC Evaluator, Mentor Trainer for the Animal Behavior College, trainer to the stars, service animal trainer and owner of GCUnleashes.com. She is also the official trainer at Crayons and Collars, a site dedicated to helping busy families with pets and kids. She has developed a special program just for kids to help them participate in their dogs’ training.
Raised on a farm in Nebraska surrounded by an animal-loving family, Geralynn fell in love with the canine kind and became a dog trainer at age nine. With her parents’ encouragement, she acquired a BA in design and a BS in biochemistry. She also designs pet products.
We know Geralynn thanks to a shared passion for pets, and yes, we met her at the BlogPaws Conference, too. If you notice a developing trend here, you are right: BlogPaws is THE conference to attend if you love pets, want to in some capacity work online in a passion for pets, and get the tools you need to grow.
She lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband, 4 stepkids and Buddy the Yorkie Poo, Chip Shot the Bichon, and KCMO the Border Collie Mini Aussie Mix.
Jen Reeder: Ray of Sunshine, Dog Writer Extraordinaire
Jen Reeder is an award-winning freelance journalist who typically writes over 50 pet articles a year – almost all of them are about dogs. Her rescued Lab mix, Rio, is to blame. Jen is honored to be the incoming president of the Dog Writers Association of America, and hopes to work with the organization to help create opportunities for writers to celebrate the value of the human-canine bond. Jen volunteers on the bio writing team for PawsCo, a Denver-based animal rescue organization, and for Therapy Dogs International as Rio’s therapy dog handler at their local hospital in Durango. She says she is incredibly humbled by this honor.
What Jen does not realize is that we are incredibly humbled to know her. There are very few people we have met in our lifetime who genuinely care about others, want others to achieve and strive to inspire them to greatness, and who are eternally smiling and giving from the bottom of their hearts. Jen is one of those people.
She also is the founder of Rock 1 Kidney, a nonprofit that shares stories of ways kidney donors are “rocking one kidney” since donating.
Laura Coffey: Dog Nut, Writer, Journalist
Laura T. Coffey is a self-avowed dog nut and the author of the non-fiction book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts.” A journalist with more than 25 years of experience, Laura works as a writer, editor and producer for TODAY.com, the website of NBC’s TODAY show. Her work also has appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, PBS NewsHour Online, The Bark, Best Friends magazine and many other publications.
Our paths first crossed Laura’s at the Dog Writer’s Association dinner earlier this year. We became instant friends and then this dog lover fan girlied over her “My Old Dog” book.
Throughout her career, Laura has championed the underdog — a mindset that prompted her to write about senior pets that tend to be overlooked at shelters simply because of their age. Her coverage of this issue has been read by millions, and her “My Old Dog” book quickly became a national bestseller. In recent years, Laura has earned first-place writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism and the Dog Writers Association of America.
Laura serves on the advisory boards of the Grey Muzzle Organization and Pet Philanthropy Circle. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Michael, their son, Tyler, and their two senior dogs, Frida and Manny. Connect with Laura at her author website, MyOldDogBook.com, and on LinkedIn.
Marie Shelto: Bocker’s Mom, Caring Human Being
She says, ” My last 13 years have been a career as Bocker the Labradoodle’s mom. Never thought that bringing a dog into my life, who would wind up with nearly a million followers on social media, would embark me on a new career and new interests where I could help others. First came with guiding Bocker through his print ad modeling, TV and film career. After this, Bocker’s celebrity status led me down another path, therapy work with children who were ill and in reading programs at schools. We were able to provide much comfort to the children in Sandy Hook, CT after the tragedy there in 2012 and continue our therapy work with physically challenged individuals. Involvement with Animal Advocacy and fighting for animal rights and campaigning for animals in shelters became part of our work. A new path came into play with Bocker’s bout with Lymphoma and him being a cancer survivor and being named SpokesDog for Animal Cancer Foundation. Bocker went on to the Rainbow Bridge August 31, 2016, at the age of 13. I will continue the good works we did together and keep Bocker’s Legacy alive. Sooner than I had planned, a new Baby Bocker will be entering my life and a new chapter will be written.”
Teri Thorsteinson: Cat Lover and Cat Educator of the Highest Order
Teri has been in the veterinary healthcare field continuously since 1972 and her mantra has always been ‘I end my day knowing I helped someone take better care of their pet’. She is involved with the Cat Fanciers Association Ambassador Cat/Pet Me Cat program, and has attended 7 of the 8 BlogPaws conferences, always with her cats along, as well as participating in pet rescue fundraising fashion shows. She is the brainchild of Coco the Couture Cat. Attending the BlogPaws Pet Blogger conferences with her cats really turned Teri on to just how much attention they attract and how she could use that to benefit cats in rescue. What began as a fun activity for Teri has begun to take a new direction, to use their appearances with the goal of helping rescue organizations increase their exposure and raise funds through fashion!
What Teri may not know is that she inspires us, too! Each year, she takes to the Central PA Pet Expo, with Coco by her side, and she talks to people of all ages to explain how wonderful cats are, why Coco wears clothes, and how to be a great cat parent.