The pawer women have made their mark in 2017! The ending of one year and the beginning of another brings with it great joy and reflection: This is our year-end tradition wherein 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 2017 (and no doubt long before that and for many years to come). This year, we are switching things up. We’ve kept track of dog moms in general this year; maybe they are employed in the pet industry or maybe not. The 10 ladies you are about to meet have done something, either one random act, or throughout the year, that touches the lives of a dog(s) in some capacity. This is the first time Fidose of Reality has put a spin on Pawer Women, and we have all the feels in doing so.
In a year when Wonder Woman officially became the highest-grossing superhero origin film in history, a crown it should wear proudly and loudly, these ladies are a dog lover version of Wonder Woman. If you meet them, you may not see their crown or magic lasso, but trust us, they embody the Wonder Woman spirit.
For the Second Year in a Row, we are naming the Dog Parent of the Year: This is a dog mom who goes above and beyond and through actions, hopefully inspires others to make a difference in the life of a dog. Without further ado, here are the Fidose of Reality 2017 Pawer Women. As an aside, my wife and I gather names of dog women throughout the year and together we discuss who makes the top 10. We do NOT sit in judgement of anyone; rather, we believe in spotlight amazing women who do good things in the dog world, and for their lives to be a celebration.
Dog Parent of the Year: Neely Bryanne
Neely Bryanne Elvidge loves bulldogs. I knew this the moment I met her. Our dogs first crossed paths at a New York City Pet Fashion Show years ago. You will notice a theme here that dogs bring people together, and Neely’s life intersecting with mine is another example.
Neely lived in South Florida for the last decade or so, but moved up to Indianapolis, Indiana last year after marrying her wife, Jen. Though Neely has a doctorate in clinical psychology, when she moved, she decided to go where her heart was calling… with dogs of course! Neely is a patient care advocate at a veterinary hospital outside of Indy. She works at a fear-free clinic and offers integrative medicine including acupuncture, herbal therapy, and cold laser therapy.
The couple has five of their own dogs: Four English Bulldogs and one French Bulldog. They also have 2 cats (a domestic short hair and a Sphynx), as well as an African Grey parrot and several fish. Neely is President of Hoosier Bulldog Rescue, so they often have anywhere from one to five fosters in their home as well. Currently they have three fosters – a special needs French Bulldog with mega-esophagus disorder, as well as a puppy mill mamma with severe skin issues who is about to start heart worm treatment, and a beautiful young bulldog who was used as bait for dog fighting. She’s about to go off to her forever home in New Jersey next month.
Neely and her wife foster and here is her story as to why, in her own words: “After adopting my first English bulldog “Girl” in 2010, I was immediately hooked on bulldogs. I should mention I was originally looking through shelter websites for a shihtzu when I stumbled up on this ancient, scrawny, bloodshot eyed, pathetic bulldog. And I instantly fell in love. She had been in rescue for 6 months and not a single inquiry. Let’s be honest, she wasn’t much to look at back then and she was already 10 years old! But something about her touched my soul. I was going through a breakup and had the typical feelings of being unwanted. I felt connected to her. People kept trying to convince me to get another dog but I kept going back to Girl. After I adopted her, the rescue asked if I wanted to volunteer. Within a month I accepted a position as Vice-President with that rescue and of course fostering came along with that! My first foster was the hardest to part with of course. But when you know they’re going to another amazing home, it’s honestly not that hard to let them go. And sadly, there’s always another one waiting to be rescued. I’ve only had two foster failures in 7 years, so that’s not a bad average!”
Neely says Champ was her everything, her heart dog and soul mate dog. He came to Neely in 2009. He was found in Miami after being dumped as a bait dog. It took months to recover both physically and mentally. He eventually became a therapy dog and they visited schools, juvenile detention centers, and hospitals. The duo taught Dog Safety & Dog Bite Prevention at local schools and community programs through our Dog Scouts of America troop. Champ also went to work with Neely every day at a psychiatric hospital where he brought a little joy into the patients’ lives. She worked primarily with chronic mental illness (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Severe Depression, as well as Drug Abuse), and Champ provided so much positivity to a normally stressful unit. They started a campaign called Bullies Against Bullying which was the primary focus of so much of our therapy work. She says when Champ passed, a lot of her ideas and goals were never finished. She recently started working on the series of books that she started a few years ago. Even after his passing, his story continues to inspire others. One of his most well known endeavors was being “Champcasso” – he used his paws to paint on canvas, which they then sold or auctioned off to raise money for rescues.
Does she mostly rescue bullies or are there other dogs/breeds, too? Neely says, “Our rescue takes in French and English Bulldogs, as well as bulldog mixes. I’ve helped rehome other breeds also, including shihtzus, pit bulls, and a pugs, but our focus is mainly bulldogs. Although I love all dogs, I do have a fondness for the flat faced kids. ”
Connect with Neely and consider donating to her wonderful rescue:
On Facebook: Facebook.com/TheDivaDogs
Congratulations, Neely! We raise our sparkling water dish to you!
Tammy Donly: Pet Blogger, Dog Rescuer, Mega Huge Heart
We first had the pleasure of getting to know West Coast gal, Tammy Donly, through the BlogPaws social media and pet blogging community. Tammy and I became fast online friends due to our shared loved of Cocker Spaniels. Her Cocker, Annie, would coyly flirt with my Cocker, Dexter, and she pined for the two to sometime meet.
The other half of the RosyReports.com team is a cute poodle named Rosy. Here is how Rosy describes meeting Annie, “I was named after Rose Street in Memphis where I was found as a stray in 2010. I was lucky enough to cross the path of my Mom walking Bear and Fuzz (my two Golden brothers who have since crossed the Bridge.) We moved to San Diego in 2011 and I officially proclaimed myself a California Princess. In 2012 we saw a Cocker Spaniel on Facebook and my parents went to get her at the shelter. I claimed her as my dog and named her Annie. (FYI, Annie and I are both forever young seniors- Annie is 15+ and I am at least 14 years old. I will never tell exactly!)”
Sadly, in December, the beautiful Annie lost her brave battle with canine cancer, and of course, Tammy and family are devastated. She will always be remembered and loved.
In true Tammy style, imagine our glee and tears flowing when we recently logged onto her RosyReports blog and discovered this:
His name is Titus. He is my new brother with fab highlights.I know some of you will be very surprised since we just lost Annie. And while our hearts are still broken, we found out about a dog that was also heartbroken after losing his family. So we decided we can help mend each other’s hearts and he now has his forever home.
Indeed, Rosy is honoring the life of another dog and welcomes the beautiful Titus home. Congratulations on being selected as a Pawer Woman, Tammy.
BTW, yes, Dexter did get to meet Annie, the two got along famously, and I will cherish these memories forever.
Learn more and follow along with Tammy and her pack at RosyReports.com and RosyReports on Instagram.
Rebecca Tolbert Smith: Dog Mom, Dog Rescuer, Online Mega Friend
Some people you never had the opportunity to meet in person, and yet you feel as if you have known them forever. You just click, and you know that when the day comes and you do meet, the connection of friendship will be instant. This is how I feel about Rebecca Tolbert Smith.
Rebecca and I first crossed paths on Instagram, as we are both mega Cocker lovers. Her account name recently changed on Instagram from “JacktheBlackCocker” to “JacktheBlackCockerandElliot,” and you can probably guess why.
Rebecca recently moved to Colorado with her family and we followed her adventures on the way. Her love for rescue dog, Jack, and her witty, funny comments are a bright spot to our days. They recently decided to add another dog to the family, a former trucker’s dog who was no longer wanted…and now has his happy ever after.
Beyond this love affair with Cockers and her big heart to rescue, Rebecca is one of the most loyal people I have never had the pleasure of meeting. She is forever tagging me, alerting me of things, sending folks to me for advice with dog issues, and is the true meaning of giving.
You can follow the Adventures of JacktheBlackCockerandElliot on Instagram.
Marlene Ness: Dog Show Pro, Dog Mom, Working to Eliminate Cocker Cataracts
I first met Marlene Ness at my 2016 fundraiser, Wigglebutts Uncorked, but Marlene and I have been online friends a pretty long time. I always admired her kindness, courtesy, and overall warm demeanor she presents to anyone she encounters. She travels the world with her dogs and is well know and revered in the dog show ring. In fact, here’s a photo of her gorgeous Cocker, Ace:
Marlene works tirelessly to help fundraise so that cataracts in Cockers may be eliminated. So prevalent are cataracts in Cocker Spaniels that a molecular genetic study of inherited cataracts in the Cocker Spaniel has been underway. Cocker Spaniel parents simply take their dog to have their eyes examined and submit a blood sample to help find a DNA marker to eliminate cataracts in Cockers. This, in turn, helps humans who are affected by cataracts.
Interested Cocker parents can call OptiGen at 607-257-0301 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about sample submission. Also, visit the Optigen website for complete details. Marlene is helping with fundraising in this capacity, and Fidose of Reality recently partnered with the American Spaniel Club Foundation in an online auction that raised several thousand dollars. If you’d like to help, please visit the ACSF site for more information.
Join Club Cocker on Facebook, too!
Bryn Nowell: Dog Blogger, Visionary, Heart of Gold
Bryn and I have had an instant connection. You meet her and think she is this quiet, reserved intelligent gal, and then you get to know her and follow her online and she surprises you with wit, candor, a hysterical sense of humor, a passion for pets, and a true friend of the highest order.
Bryn is the brainchild of A Dog Walks Into a Bar, which is oh so savvy and a site you need to follow. Here’s how Bryn describes her blog, “A Dog Walks into a Bar will educate and entertain visitors by sharing informative and fun weekly posts that focus on pet ownership and the adult beverage industry. We aim to share a variety of posts focusing on dog friendly locations and events, fun adventures, DIY projects, recipes, giveaways and charitable causes. Our primary aim is to assist animal rescue organizations and philanthropic causes that help animals and our local community. ”
Bryn also will give you the shirt off her back, as she helps both animals and people in need. She is a rare combination of humility and humor and one of these people in this crazy world you meet and say to yourself, “now here is someone I can count on.”
From her fundraising efforts to homeless dogs, supporting our Wigglebutt Warriors fundraising events, emails and direct messages, snail mail, and more, Bryn Nowell you are the epitome of a Pawer Woman. I look forward to watching you grow and soar! P.S. She takes fabulous images, as Yoda and Bean showcase here:
Follow Bryn: A Dog Walks Into a Bar blog
Katharine McMahon – Marketing and Growth Expert, Dog Mom, Survivor
I’ve known Katharine McMahon through her attendance at BlogPaws Conferences, and I have met her many times, she and her Iggy, Duff. McMahon overcame some personal struggles in 2017 and granted herself the fresh start she and her dog so very much deserved.
Duff was diagnosed with IMT, which is immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, the same autoimmune disease that my dog, Dexter, was diagnosed with in October. Both dogs are in remission.
McMahon reached out to me, with everything she was going through, and extended herself, her resources, her knowledge, and her friendship. When a woman going through struggles and can reach out to help others in need, that is a true Pawer Woman and Wonder Woman to me!
Follow Katharine on Twitter
Get to Know Katharine on Chance to Grow
Dr. Laurie Coger – Wholistic Veterinarian, Dog Trainer, & Dog Lover
Dr. Coger, or Laurie as I call her, is the real deal. She loves dogs, imparts knowledge from a wholisitic standpoint, and over the years, we’ve developed an online friendship. Not only is Laurie a friend, but a trusted resource and thought leader.
Dr. Coger’s practice and dog care philosophy emphasize natural methods and care. She regularly integrates chiropractic, low level laser, herbal, nutritional, and physical therapy techniques into her treatment plans. She is a staunch advocate of raw, natural diets. Her first book, “Vaccines Explained: The Wholistic Vet’s Guide to Vaccinating Your Dog” is currently available on Amazon. She is well known in the media, having been featured in USA Today, Dogs Naturally Magazine, Pet360, PetMD, and numerous nationally known blogs and websites. She has been nominated for a Dog Writers’ Association of America award for her work in the Australian Shepherd Journal.
Laurie is the founder of The Healthy Dog Workshop, too. She gives pet parents an alternative way of looking at pet food, vaccines, and more. She more than deserves to be a Pawer Woman!
Get to know Dr. Coger:
Nancy Brisebois: Dog Mom, Supportive Friend, Dog Lover of the Highest Order
Some people enter your life and you feel like it’s just simply meant to be. Nancy BG, as she is known online, is one of those people. Nancy is dog mom to rescued Cocker, Mayor, whom I self-admittedly have a dog crush on.
Nancy, however, is oh so much more. Hailing from Canada, Nancy is a Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. She rescued her dog, Mayor, from the fine folks at OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, whom we have held fundraisers for several times. Nancy is one of the best and most engaged fans a dog blogger/dog writer like me could ever ask for. She is loyal, appreciative, leaves comments and tags me here and there, plus she genuinely uses the information we share. This gives us the warm fuzzies and all the feels in the world. Nancy, your love of animals, your commitment to Mayor, and the love and respect you show others online are some of the many reasons we are naming you a Fidose of Reality Pawer Woman.
We know this has been a rough year for you, and most recently, you donated to our birthday fundraiser to help homeless Cocker Spaniels. This small act is a huge example as to the mighty spirit you are. Oh and us Christmaholics, Elvis Fans, must stick together!!
Congratulations, Nancy! We love you.
Amy Cox – Fashion Trendsetter, Dog Rescuer, Dog Mom, Shining Star
Amy Cox is the president of The Paws Cause in McKinney, Texas. I first met Amy at the Women in the Pet Industry Conference a few years ago. She is a dynamo who you remember. She and her husband founded and developed The Shot Spot. Amy and her husband, Dr. Danny Cox, a Veterinarian, have traveled the United States and foreign countries including Mexico, Turkey, Greece, and Italy to participate and spearhead projects in animal rescue, disaster relief, spay and neuter programs and other animal related projects for over a decade.
She is a dedicated dog mom, travels the country with her pack, is well known in the pet fashion circuit, and is a genuinely kind soul. You know this the moment you meet her. I am honored to call her my friend. Congrats, Amy!
Learn more about The Shot Spot
Learn more about The Pet Vet
Dolores Rodrigues – Dog Lover of the Highest Order, Founder of Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue
Dolores Rodrigues once told a reporter, “My goal is for people to share the same love and happiness that my first Cocker Spaniel, Rudy, gave me. He is my driving force and although this work can be very heartbreaking at times, seeing a dog get adopted into a loving family makes it all worthwhile.”
And oh how she shines and shares the love.
The mission of Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. (AACSR) dba NY Abandoned Angels Rescue (NYAAR) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the rescue and re-homing of Cocker Spaniels and other dog breeds in need of loving forever homes. AACSR will not reject any dog due to age or health reasons and often accepts dogs with temperament and/or medical issues. AACSR relies solely on donations whether through adoptions or the generosity of the public to help pay for the veterinary care of sick, physically disabled, and behaviorally challenged dogs.
I have been a fan and friend to Dolores for many years, but something she did this year really touched my heart and will never be forgotten. When my Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, was diagnosed with an immune disease earlier this year, Dolores from Abandoned Angels Cocker Rescue called me and also called her vet for advice. She was one of the first people to reach out to me. So I dedicated my Christmas birthday fundraiser to Abandoned Angels Cocker Rescue.
Consider donating and learn more about Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue.
Dolores struggles with some physical ailments and that does not stop her from saving and rescuing and continuing to help dogs in need.
How You Can Help…
The best way you can help us is to provide a loving, permanent home for one of our Abandoned Angels. Please also make sure that each of your pets is spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering helps reduce pet overpopulation and reduces the risk of certain diseases, including certain types of cancer and pyometra in females. We are also desperately in need of foster homesfor our pups. Some of our dogs are boarded, which is not ideal for the dog (despite the wonderful care provided by our vet and his staff) and costly for us. If you cannot adopt or foster a dog, we also need: $$$$ (for food, boarding and vet expenses), collars and leashes, treats for the dogs, dog food Beds, blankets and towels dogwalkers, who are willing to socialize the dogs, help w/transport (to help with pulling dogs in more distant shelters and transporting area cockers to other rescues when we don’t have the space). Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue.
Congrats to the 2017 Pawer Woman from Fidose of Reality!!!!! Long may you shine, soar, affect dogs lives, and stay pawsome!