dog listening with big ear


Barks from Starks,
Fall 2019

“The Wagazine changed my life.”

These words surprised me when I saw Andrea Gates, a former coworker, unexpectedly one day. She shared how, in a time of depression and grief, she read in the Wagazine about the opportunity to volunteer at This Old Horse in Hastings. 

 “Even though it is only a couple of hours a week, spending time with the horses has changed my outlook on life,” she says in the article on p. 8.

I loved her story, not only because the Wagazine connected a worthwhile rescue with a valuable volunteer, but because working with the horses eased Andrea’s sadness and unearthed her childhood love of the animals. 

“Have you always been a dog lover?” people often ask me when they hear that I have been involved in dog rescue for more than a decade and work for a pet publication.

My parents had a dog before they had kids, so I was born in to dog ownership. As with so many families, the dog came first. 

They tell the story of a young Ellie sneaking out of her bedroom in the middle of the night and feeding Barney, a docile Springer/Sheltie, hot dogs from the fridge. Barney survived two more human kids and a move to a bigger house. He got me through third grade before his old body wore out. 

We added a puppy: Torie, the Brittany Spaniel who was all spunk and sass. And I loved her from the day she arrived. I don’t remember the daily routine, but I do recall trying to do homework near her. With her. In her kennel.

Turns out, I was ahead of my time, as reading to a dog has been shown to improve reading performance. Dogs and other animals are helping our area kids love to read, just by sitting with them. The “Reading to Rover” article on p. 10 introduces Bert and Ernie, dogs who listen to students read at Pine Island Elementary.

As I sit typing today, there are two dogs by my side, helping me in the way they know best. They are silent companions who offer support just by being.

The scene is a reflection of my own childhood love of dogs. Like Andrea, my work with animals today is an extension of the relationship that started many years ago. For people—like you readers—who love, live with and care for animals, it’s probably a familiar sentiment.

Enjoy the menagerie of animals in this issue: dogs, ghost cats, horses, a cockatoo. Maybe one of these stories will change your life too.