Doggie Tales

Debbie and Sam Schmitz

Karin's Kanine Country Club

Kylie and Kevin

Cleveland Canine

Jake Brady

NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-10-06, By Beth Mlady

``From biscuits to baths, merchants keep dog owners from chasing tails

AVON/AVON LAKE -- The colorful van in the Avon home's driveway attracted neighborhood children like an ice cream truck. There were certainly treats inside to eat, but only for animals that walk on four legs and respond to names like Spot, Fifi, or Sparky. Kristi Crow bathes and grooms as many as six dogs a day in her Bubbles-N-Biscuits specialized van. For clients like the Dochertys, service doesn't get much better than that.

"It is so convenient," Jen Docherty said. "There's no room in the car with three kids and the dog, so it's easier to have Kristi come here." Her husband, Ryan, added that he was happy that there was no longer any dog hair to clean out of the car.

Their 1-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Miles, stood obediently in the front yard by Jen's side awaiting his grooming appointment. Jen added that the price is "comparable" to local pet shops' grooming services. A look inside the van revealed a spotless environment and plenty of room for man and beast.

"I thinkpeople like the convenience of not having to go out to the groomer's," Crow said. "And the dog has no stress and no exposureto other dogs in terms of disease."

While she doesn't do "giant" breeds like St. Bernards or Great Pyrenees, she does frequently take care of aging dogs, some as old as 16. She went on to say that many of her clients are senior citizens with senior-aged pets. Crow provides senior citizens with a discount for her services. She also said that Labs are her "Number One" customers.

When asked what the best part of her job is, Crow thought for a moment and then smiled. "I like meeting all the new people and helping them out with their dogs," Crow said. Anyone interested in Crow's mobile pet grooming services may call her at (440) 458-4006 or visit her Web site at

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Avon Lake merchants Debbie and Sam Schmitz also cater to the specialized needs of dogs. Their Fuzzy Feetz Treetz are vet-quality dog biscuits with a caroband yogurt coating that, according to Debbie, drives dogs "nuts." They have also been making fudge (for human consumption only) for the past 25 years.

"Dogs love anything that looks like candy," she said. She added that they also make peanut cluster dog treats dipped in carob. None of their canine products contain chocolate.

The Schmitzes sell their products at the North Union Farmer's Market at Crocker Park from spring through fall. The market, which moved this year to an area behind Crocker Park at Trader Joe's parking lot, opened April 29 and runs every Saturday through Dec. 16. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sam also sells the dog biscuits at The Galleria in downtown Cleveland where he says he has regular customers who "come to the booth on a weekly basis" to shop for their dogs.

Since the Schmitzes are too busy to own a dog right now, Sam has a special taste tester that lives right next door."I practice on the neighbor's dog which is a large St. Bernard and hound mix," Sam said with a laugh. "That dog thinks I'm God." Interested dog owners can obtain more information about Fuzzy Feetz Treetz on the Schmitzes' Web site at''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-17-06, By Julie A. Short

``It's a dog's life at the Kanine Country Club doggy daycare

AVON -- Avon resident Karin Shulin's life is going to the dogs. Literally. She recently opened Karin's Kanine Country Club, a new doggy daycare, in her home; and the surroundings rival most human daycare facilities. "It's a homey atmosphere," Shulin said. "We want the dogs to feel like they are at home. We also want the owners to feel comfortable while their dogs are here."

The bedrooms in the home serve as "playrooms" for the dogs. Smaller dogs are in one room and larger dogs in another. Each room is furnished with beds, chairs and toys. A television is mounted on the wall in the larger dogs room set on the Animal Planet channel. "The dogs are also able to run around and play outside," Shulin said. "We keep them active all day. I'm with the dogs constantly. They are never unsupervised, inside or out. The dogs' go home exhausted. There are two large fenced in areas in the backyard."

Shulin provides wholesome snacks and food for the dogs. Owners are welcome to bring their own dog food. "The dogs go through a scheduled interview screening process before they are admitted to the Country Club," Shulin said. "We want to make sure their temperament is good. All the dogs must be on flea control and the owners must provide proof of current vaccinations.

A one-day membership to the club is $20. Five-day and 10-day visits are $90 and $170, respectively. Additional dogs in the same family are $10 per day. A half-day pass from 7 a.m.-noon or 1-5 p.m. is $14. The country club is open from 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. "Most people bring their dogs a few days a week," Shulin said. "I won't take more than 10 dogs in one day. I usually average about seven dogs a day. Some people drop their dogs off if they have lots of errands to run during the day or if something comes up and they don't want to leave their dog alone."

Shulin had been thinking about opening a daycare for dogs for years and saw a niche for the concept in the area. "My background is in training dogs," Shulin said. "I offer private obedience training and have classes at Pet Land at Great Northern. I love being around animals. I also enjoy interacting with the owners."

According to Shulin, several people working in the area at the various businesses on Detroit Road often stop by during lunch breaks to visit the dogs. If your pooch is in the mood for a little pampering, Shulin offers spa treatments such as oatmeal baths, nail trimming and pawlish, tooth brushing, ear cleaning, canine massage and more for an additional fee. "Our mission is to provide quality, cage-free care, love, affection and supervised play for dogs," Shulin said.

Karin's Kanine Country Club is located at 38299 Detroit Road. For more information, call (216) 533-5666.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-29-31, By Julie A. Short

Kylie and Kevin are ready to take to the ice for GRIN

AVON -- Kylie and Kevin are chomping at the puck for their moment in the spotlight. The two golden retrievers will be dropping the ceremonial "first puck" to start the Cleveland Barons verses Iowa Stars hockey game on April 2 at 5 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena (The Q) downtown.

Owners Ken and Melanie Voll of Avon are ecstatic about their "children's" opportunity. "We are huge hockey fans," Melanie said. "We attend a lot of Barons games and now we will able to share the experience with our kids. We've already started practicing with the pucks. The vet told us that if you dip the pucks in chicken broth, they will taste better and will attract the dogs.

Now they are used to the pucks. We'll see what happens at the game." The Voll's attended a fund-raiser sponsored by GRIN (Golden Retrievers In Need), and won a Barons hockey-themed basket, which included having your dog drop the puck at a future Barons game. Since the Voll's have two dogs, they asked GRIN and the Barons if they could have both dogs involved, and both parties agreed the more gold on the ice, the better.

"My husband was actually more interested in winning the hockey basket than me," Melanie said. "It was a Chinese auction which means you buy raffle tickets and put them in the basket near the gift you want a chance to win. I think he tried stuffing the box with tickets because he spent a lot of money at the chance to win. I purchased 10 tickets and put nine of my tickets in a Mario's Spa-package basket, which I really wanted and one ticket in the Barons basket. My one ticket was the one that was drawn for the hockey package. We were really excited." Neither of the Voll's dogs is officially a GRIN dog, although Kylie came close.

"A co-worker told me about this guy she knew who had a dog that he wasn't treating very well," Melanie said. "I think he may have been using the dog as a way to attract girls and never really intended to give the dog the attention it needed. Kylie, 11-months-old at the time, was underweight, smelled of urine and her hair was greasy. He would keep the dog locked up in a tiny cage for days at a time. At the time we were selling our house in Avon Lake and moving to Avon. I really had no intention of getting another dog, but the moment I saw her, I had to have her. I knew GRIN was no longer needed."

Kevin, now 5-years old, was a home-warming gift from Melanie's brother when she purchased her first place a few years ago. The Voll's also have a cat named Belle.

"The name Kevin means lovable and handsome and that's what golden's are," Melanie said explaining why the dogs have names traditionally reserved for humans. "Kylie's original owner named her 'Riley.' We knew we were going to change her name so that she wouldn't be reminded of her past, but we wanted to keep a name that sort of sounded like her original name. In keeping the 'K' theme, we came up with Kylie." The April 2 Barons game is also a fund-raiser for GRIN with a portion of tickets sales benefiting the animal rescue organization. This is the second year the Barons and GRIN have teamed up for the fund-raiser. Unfortunately, it will be the last as the Barons franchise is moving to Worcester, Mass ...

GRIN is a full-service, 100 percent volunteer-driven golden retriever rescue group. The Northeast Ohio non-profit was started in 1992 and has rescued nearly 800 over the years. For more information on GRIN, call (216) 556-4746 or log on to


NEWS STORY from The Press, 3-23-06, By Mary Davies, Staff Writer

``Couple really loves their four-legged 'children'

AVON -- Like many proud parents, Melanie Voll eagerly shows off photos of "her two children" to just about anyone who asks. Ken and Melanie Voll of Avon are acquainting their Golden Retrievers with a hockey puck in preparation for the dogs' ceremonial first puck drop just before the Cleveland Barons' April 2 game at Quicken Loans Arena. Ken tries to coax 2-year-old Kylie to bite the puck while Melanie relaxes on the couch with 5-year-old Kevin.

But strangers are taken aback when they see not a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl, but rather two Golden Retrievers of the same ages.

Even their names, "Kevin" and "Kylie," were chosen to reflect their roles not as house pets but as true family members ...

Voll and her husband Ken, new residents of Avon, will surely have cameras in hand as they proudly watch Kevin and Kylie drop the ceremonial first puck before the April 2 [2006] Cleveland Barons hockey game at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.

The Volls, die-hard hockey fans, were surprised to learn the opportunity for their dog to start a Barons game was included in a hockey-themed gift basket they bought at a Golden Retrievers In Need [GRIN] fundraiser last fall ...

Barons executives had no problem allowing both dogs to participate, said Karen Uthe Semancik, GRIN spokeswoman. Training got off to a rocky start because the dogs disliked tasting the puck covering, Ken Voll said. A trainer suggested first dipping pucks in chicken broth, and practice has gone well since, he said.

The Volls and GRIN supporters hope for a good turnout at the April 2 Barons game ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 10-4-06, By Rebecca Turman

[Cleveland Canine]

``AVON -- "We always had dogs growing up," Brenda Bals, an Avon resident, said. And recently, she's taken her love for man's best friend to the next level by starting up a free "Publication for People with a Passion for Pups," called Cleveland Canine.

It all started about a year and a half ago, when Bals was in Las Vegas and had stopped at a dog bakery to pick up a treat for her dog, Trixie. While she was there, she came upon a copy of The Vegas Dog, a free publication, and she decided to read it on her plane ride home. "I sat down to read it and I fell in love with the idea," Bals said.

About three months later, after Bals had let the newspaper idea marinate in her mind, she decided that Cleveland needed a similar publication. She contacted the publisher of The Vegas Dog, Diane Quam, and asked her if she would mind if Bals implemented a similar publication in the Cleveland area. Quam was flattered by Bals' request, and she gave Bals some advice on what she had learned from the venture so far. "We have kept in contact ever since," Bals said of Quam. "She has been a great mentor for me."

But while Bals sought out advice from Quam, she wasn't completely oblivious when it came to the inner-workings of the publishing business. She worked for The Plain Dealer for seven years in inside sales.

Her experience, combined with her love for dogs was enough to jumpstart Bals' editorial venture, Cleveland Canine. However, she didn't jump head first into the publication. Instead, in order to get a feel for what the community needed exactly, in the way of dog information, she sent out a survey to 50 pet-related companies in the area. Out of the 50 companies, 49 supported the idea of a one-source guide for pet owners.

Once Bals received encouragement from local businesses and fellow dog lovers, she set out on a quest for writers and found Canine Cleveland's main writer, former Washington Post writer Deborah Burke, of Lakewood. Bals' husband, Mike, who also shares her love for dogs, instantly filled the photographer spot. He also distributes the paper, along with another family friend.

According to Bals, the tabloid-style newspaper is full of information for dog owners, including a master calendar of dog events in each issue along with lists of area rescue shelters and local dog parks, short stories and columns from a dog trainer, pet sitter and veterinarian. "Our goal is to make it a nice community product that people can enjoy and look forward to, learn from," Bals said.

Dick Goddard graced the cover of the first issue of Cleveland Canine in July. Bals said since she has approached Goddard about the publication he has been nothing but supportive, whether contributing as a writer, drawing the paper's logo or promoting Cleveland Canine at events. Bals said she was even told by several people that Goddard was passing out copies of the issue at PETCO in Medina. "We've been lucky that he's been such a strong advocate for us," she said of Goddard. "He's phenomenal."

Cleveland Canine's circulation was originally set to 10,000 and wasn't distributed any further east than downtown Cleveland, but because of Goddard's endorsement of the paper it created a buzz and a bigger demand for the publication. "They really did go quite quickly," Bals said. "We got a lot of calls from people on the east side," she said. "Where can I find this paper?" they asked."

Starting with the November [2006] issue, Cleveland Canine will be branching off into the east-side areas as well as the west, and the circulation will be boosted to 20,000 to accommodate the request for the dog-guiding publication.

Though Bals is dedicated to providing readers with dog knowledge, she doesn't plan on letting that end on the final page of each issue. She's looking to leave a paw print, so to speak, when it comes to community involvement as well. She's recently been involved with local dog events such as the Doggy Do Pooch parade, where she served on the judge panel and at the Love-A-Stray Dog Party and Swim in Avon Lake, where she judged, as well.

Cleveland Canine is also a sponsor of the Towpath Dog Tag Program. The program helps protect and preserve the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Towpath Dog Tags are available on the CVNPA Web site,

Cleveland Canine will also be participating in the Wooly Bear Festival Parade, in Vermilion on Oct. 15, where Dick Goddard will be the emcee.

For cat owners who feel slighted by the dogs-only publication, Bals has an explanation. "I never had a cat, and I'm not very knowledgeable about them," Bals said. "That's why we went strictly with dogs."

The free publication is available at Borders and Barnes and Noble book stores, local coffee shops, restaurants, and of course, at pet-related businesses at the area

Though the newspaper is free, subscriptions are available for those who want the dog guide delivered to their home. The cost is $15 for a year, which is six issues. For more information, call 937-4444 or e-mail ''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 12-6-06, By Rebecca Turman

``Man's best friend inspires nonprofit pet organization

AVON -- "Jake was our baby for over 14 years," Matt Brady said of his Dalmatian. Jake passed away on Feb. 17, 2006, and in March, the Bradys (Matt and Ann of Avon) started the Jake Brady Memorial Fund nonprofit organization to provide financial help to families who can't afford to pay for medical bills for their pets.

"Jake had a kidney disease that he was treated for over four years," Matt said. Fortunately, the Bradys were able to cover the cost of Jake's medical bills and they received topnotch treatment for him at the Lakewood Animal Hospital, according to Brady. "They are the reason Jake was as healthy and happy as possible for 14 years," Matt said of the Lakewood Animal Hospital.

During the years of coping with Jake's disease, Matt said he and his wife ran into many families who couldn't afford to go the extra mile to give their pets the medical treatment they needed. So, after Jake died, the Bradys were inspired to help those families in need and prolong the lives of their beloved pets.

"We wanted to leave a legacy for him to help other people," Brady said. "Our goal is to provide financial support to families of pets with kidney and renal disorders, epilepsy and blindness," Brady said, adding that the financial help isn't limited to just these medical problems.

While the organization is named after the Bradys' family dog, the financial assistance isn't limited to canines. "We'll help parrots, horses, ferrets, any pet," Brady said. "We'll help the individuals who are in need."

Though the Bradys now have a 3-year-old son, Sean, to take up their time, when asked if they had a new pet yet, Brady said, "Absolutely not. I'd feel like I was replacing him if I went there. He was a great dog. He was treated like our son." It's almost been a year since Jake passed away, but the Bradys still miss the little things that he used to do. Holidays are especially difficult for the family. This Halloween was different for the Bradys as they were used to Jake running to the door every time a kid would shout "trick or treat."

Christmas won't be any easier, according to Brady. It won't be the same without Jake barking at the train around the Christmas tree, he said.

In the nine months of its existence, the organization has raised more than $10,000 and has helped six families and their pets so far. The Bradys are hoping to raise $20,000-30,000 annually to help between five and 15 families each year. Brady said he would like to help individuals on a local level, but the organization is also capable of helping individuals throughout the U.S. Currently, the organization is aggressively seeking donors ...

For more information about ... the Jake Brady Memorial Fund, visit the Web site at or call 937-4000.

Donations can be sent to the Jake Brady Memorial Fund c/o Executive Director, 32781 Red Oak Ave., Avon 44011.''

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