Author Archives: Lauren Cavagnolo

OK Berners photo featured on walk website

posted May 22nd, 2018 by

bernerwalkFor the past two years, Oklahoma Berners has participated in a worldwide walk for friends and companions of Bernese Mountain Dogs. This year, 21 Berners and their families participated and had their photo featured on the Bernese Friends Worldwide website.

Held on May 12 at Mitchell Park in Edmond, the group also enjoyed a picnic lunch and time to socialize.

Oklahoma Berners is a relatively new group and looking to connect with other Bernese owners. You can request to join their Facebook group at Oklahoma Berners.

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]


Twister’s New Home

posted June 21st, 2016 by
What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Twister’s New Home

By Lauren Cavagnolo

Photos by Sirius Photography


Displaced after the Moore tornadoes, a dog finds his place at the Tulsa Boys’ Home

“A house just isn’t a home without a dog.”

It’s a statement to which many TulsaPets Magazine readers can relate. And now, so can the young men of the Tulsa Boys’ Home.

Though it is temporary, the campus is home for the boys, says Jeff Johnson, volunteer coordinator for the Tulsa Boys’ Home. And for many people, the idea of a home includes a dog.

So when the staff decided to adopt a young chocolate Lab named Twister a year and a half ago, the boys were thrilled.

“This is their shot at having a pet. When these kids look back on their life, and some-one says, ‘Did you have a pet growing up?’ this is going to be the one that 64 of these boys refer to,” Johnson says.

The boys living at the facility in Sands Springs range in age from 11 to 17 years old. The group provides assistance to those struggling with substance addiction, as well as boys who have become wards of the state for a variety of reasons including abuse and neglect. The length of stay can vary from six months to two years, depending on the program and needs of the boy.

Not unlike some of the boys residing there, Twister’s journey to the Tulsa Boys’ Home began with misfortune. On May 20, 2013, the town of Moore was struck by an EF5 tornado. Many pets, including Twister, were separated from their families in the destruction of the storm.

Oklahoma City-based organization A New Leash On Life, Inc., took in many of these animals, as residents tried to piece their homes and lives back together. 

“He was found, and we housed a lot of dogs here during the 30 days when their owners were looking for them. He is one that was never claimed,” says Barbara Lewis, CEO of A New Leash On Life, Inc.

A decision was made to enroll him in the Pen Pals Prison Program, a 10-week course that pairs inmates with shelter dogs. The inmates teach the dogs basic manners, obedience, and correct any behavioral problems.

Since they didn’t know his name, and he was a refugee of the Moore tornado, the inmates named him Twister, according to Lewis.

“About the time they were ready to graduate, we were contacted by the Tulsa Boys’ Home. They were looking for a resident dog, and I said, ‘I think I have just the dog for you,’” Lewis says.


Unconditional Love

‘The interaction with the boys and Twister is amazing to watch,” says Kaycee Aragon, manager of the Eagle Lodge on the Tulsa Boys’ Home campus. “Sometimes these boys will have the worst day ever, and they will come through these doors, and it’s a whole different demeanor when they see Twister. They go from being mad to happy.”

Johnson says most of the kids on campus have not been raised in a traditional family setting and don’t fully grasp the concepts of unconditional love and forgiveness.

“These things they can’t even relate to; you can’t even describe it to them because they don’t have a reference point,” Johnson says. “Now with this dog, they can see [he] loves them unconditionally. This dog does not care if they threw a radio through the window earlier; that dog is still going to love them. Most of them probably haven’t had someone who treats them that way.”

Stormy Bullard, youth and family counselor at the Tulsa Boys’ Home, says Twister is present for many of the therapy sessions, bringing with him a calming effect on the boys. He also provides a welcome dis-traction, helping the boys to open up about more difficult or uncomfortable topics.

 “He definitely helps them in ways that we probably don’t even realize,” Bullard says.

The benefits of having a canine on campus extend beyond the therapy sessions. “They learn how to be more empathetic, how they treat him and how that relates to their other relationships,” Bullard says.

Having Twister around also adds that homey element to the campus. “When they are having a bad day, they just want to hang out with him or snuggle with him,” Bullard says.

And when the boys need a playmate to let loose with, Twister is their perfect companion. “A lot of these boys have a lot of energy,” Johnson says. “That dog is not going to get tired. You can take him out to the pond with a stick and throw it all day long and wear these boys out one at a time.”

“There is so much more love around here now that we have a dog.” Johnson adds. “All of the other lodges want a dog. They all want the dog to live in their lodge.”


Twice the Fun

Through the support of an anonymous donor, A New Leash On Life, Inc., provides the Tulsa Boys’ Home with dog food each year. And when they made their yearly delivery in December, it was the perfect opportunity to let Lewis know they were ready for a second dog.

“I had a couple of dogs just show up on my porch and couldn’t find the owners,” Lewis says. “And I said if you don’t mind a three-legged dog, I have just the dog. And we let the boys name him, and they named him Captain Jack.

“When I delivered him, I told the boys, it’s going to be up to you guys to train him to come when he is called and sit and lie down and do all the basic stuff. That’s what they are doing.”

And the boys couldn’t be happier about it. Jacob Hardin, a resident of Tulsa Boys’ Home, helped train Captain as he affectionately calls him. Even though it is more responsibility and work, to Hardin it is worth it.

 “I’ve been a dog person for a long time, but moving around so much I never really had a dog to stay with. Now I actually get to be here with a dog  and help train him,” Hardin says.

Hardin says having the dogs on campus has encouraged the boys to be more active and gives them a reason to go outside and play. The dogs even help some of the boys get along better.

“Not many kids here get along with each other; he brought some kids back together,” Hardin says. “There are kids here who don’t have a friend but have Twister.”

Captain Jack, in particular, has been a companion to Hardin, hanging out in his room and listening to him practice guitar.

“When you don’t have someone to talk to, there you go; he’ll sit down and listen to you, every word, and he won’t go until you say you want to be alone,” Hardin says of Captain.

Johnson is equally pleased with the addition of Captain Jack to the Tulsa Boys’ Home campus.

“Once again, she hit a home run. Barbara understands this place,” Johnson says. “With the New Leash On Life program, they have been so supportive of us. They don’t just give us a dog and disappear. They are there to help us out and support us. They care about these dogs and want them to have a right fit.”

And as much as the dogs help the boys, the boys are just as important to the dogs.

“[Twister] lost his family,” Johnson says, “And so now, they can be his family.”

Paddy The Pibble

posted October 3rd, 2015 by

By Lauren Cavagnolo


It was a Wednesday in June when Tiffany Kinsey found Paddy in a parking lot near her office in downtown Oklahoma City. The timid dog had a large padlock on her collar though she appeared well cared for with great teeth and newly trimmed nails. Kinsey and a coworker spent the morning feeding Paddy treats, working to earn her trust.

“The neighborhood I work in isn’t a safe one. Houses are abandoned, people roam continuously and animals are often discarded like trash,” Kinsey says on her Facebook page.

Kinsey and her coworker eventually found the duplex where the dog had been chained and abandoned without food inside. The man living on the other side said the owner just showed up with her one day and skipped town the next.

Concerned that Paddy may have been stolen, Kinsey took her to the city shelter where her rightful owners would be able to claim her. Before dropping her off, Kinsey told the dog she would return for her if no one else did, a promise she did not make lightly.

For the three days the young dog spent in the city shelter, Kinsey worked to make arrangements and line up foster care, preparing for the possibility that no owner would claim the dog she had begun calling Paddy the Pibble.

For those unfamiliar with the word “pibble,” it’s a term of affection for the breed most of us know as Pit Bulls.

Ultimately, no owner would come looking for Paddy, and no rescue was in a position to take her.

“I’ve always had a passion for the under-dog, no matter if that was a person or an animal,” Kinsey said. “I’m a special edu-cation teacher, so the kiddos with emotional disturbances that get a bad reputation, those were my favorites. Obviously, Pit Bulls are the most misunderstood breed of dog there is, so of course, I connect with them.”

Overcoming Obstacles

Kinsey and her husband Ryan were not necessarily looking to add to their family when Paddy came into their lives. With two dogs and four cats—all of them rescues—their home was already full. But Kinsey had made a promise.

“Words can’t describe the feelings I had as Ryan and I walked back to her cage at the shelter. I had gone through hell and back to be able to look her in her eyes and show her I had come back for her. I cried such happy tears the moment I saw her face, and Paddy gave kisses, wagged her tail and wiggled her butt in gratitude. The freedom ride was so much fun to see her smile and want to love on us. I knew this was a very special girl.”

However, their journey together was only getting started. From the shelter, Kinsey took Paddy straight to the veterinarian’s office where they found out she had hookworms and was heartworm positive. Later that day, she came down with a severe upper respiratory infection, and it was determined that she would need round-the-clock care.

For more than two months, Paddy stayed at the veterinarian’s office, recovering from all of her health issues until she was well enough to be spayed and sent home.

Shortly after bringing Paddy home, Kinsey knew that something was not right. “I could see the storm brewing in her eyes and mind and knew it was only a matter of time before one of my animals got seriously hurt or worse,” she says.

Kinsey brought in dog behaviorist Michael Mehtala, founder of Mehtala Method of Dog Behavior, who agreed with her concerns. He recommended Paddy complete a Wellness Training, which requires the dog stay in the home of a behaviorist.

In Mehtala’s 11 years of experience, he has worked with more than 100 Pit Bulls, many of them just like Paddy.

“Paddy had no idea how to be social around humans or other dogs; her prey drive was out of control, resulting in her trying to attack smaller dogs, cats and even a drive at children,” Mehtala said. “Aside from that, Paddy was very underweight for her breed, and she was in terrible health. By society’s standards, Paddy was a dog that would have hit death row very quickly.”

In her training, Paddy is learning how to socialize with people and dogs, how to eat without aggression, walk on a leash and many other skills that will help her reintegrate with Tiffany, Ryan and the other animals that share their home when she returns on December 2.

For the first three weeks, Paddy was muzzle trained, meaning she was required to wear a muzzle around any other dogs and people, with the exception of one-on-one training with Mehtala. She then graduated to hip training, in which she was attached to Mehtala’s waist with a special cinch leash. This allows for unwanted behavior to be corrected immediately.

Mehtala says there is no such thing as a bad dog or bad breed and that education for owners is key.

“I have never worked with a dog that I wasn’t able to help or assist, but I have worked with humans who are unwilling to learn or apply the help that their dog desperately needs,” Mehtala said. “If a dog is performing a behavior that is unwanted, look at yourself first. Remember dogs are not people, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be treated with any less love or affection, but that love and affection should only be given at proper times.”

Paddy—The Pibble with a Promise

Not long after finding Paddy in the parking lot, Kinsey created a Facebook page for her: “Paddy—The Pibble with a Promise.” With more than 2,700 fans, Kinsey was able to share Paddy’s story around the world.

“She has reached people far and wide, and that’s incredible to me,” Kinsey said. “A lot of those people are very involved and want to know about her progress. They are the heart and soul of all of this.”

Paddy’s return home, however, will not be the end of her Facebook page.

“I want to show her new adventures and show her life with the people who have been there since day one. I also want to show other dogs in need. And we do that now.”

Paddy’s progress with behaviorist Mehtala has also been well documented through videos posted to the page and has led to a documentary project on Pit Bulls.

“[Mehtala] and I were talking about how both of us have been involved in rescue for a really long time, but neither one of us has been a part of something this big,” Kinsey said. “It’s surreal; it’s been quite the ride. So he said ‘Let’s do a documentary. Look how many lives she is touching and  changing all over the world. Let’s show    even more people; let’s show how Pit Bulls came about.’”

According to Mehtala, the documentary will cover the history of Pit Bulls and educate people on the true nature of the breed. Mehtala is the creator, editor and producer of the film.

Tentatively set for a mid-December release date, the documentary will come out not long after Paddy will finally get to go home to her happily ever after.

How Can You Help?

Between all of her health issues and need for rehabilitation, Paddy has racked up quite a few bills.

“We weren’t expecting to keep Paddy; we were hoping to get her into a rescue, but she was so sick,” Kinsey said. Boarded for more than two months, Kinsey made visits to check on Paddy daily and really bonded with her.

To date, Paddy’s vet bills have totaled $3,506.41, and her rehabilitation bill came to $4,100 for a grand total of $7,606.41. Most of that bill has been covered by just over $6,700 in donations.

Outside of monetary donations, fans have sent items including blankets, treats and dog food, as well as personal notes and photos of themselves wearing Paddy the Pibble T-shirts (sent to anyone who makes a $20 donation).

Kinsey says she hopes Paddy’s story will inspire others.

“It has never been about ‘just a dog’,” Kinsey said. “This fight is bigger than that. It’s bigger than all of us! It is about doing the right thing, supporting others in their cause, leaving the world a better place than we found it, refusing to be silent about suffering of any kind, and being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. I personally feel that we all share this duty.”

She isn’t sure just how many people drove by Paddy before she saw her and hopes others will think twice before looking the other way.

“It’s hard because rescues are full, but there are ways,” Kinsey said. In addition to shelters and lost and found pages, you can put up posters and contact rescues for assistance.

Kinsey, who is on the board of a dog rescue in Norman called Groovy Paws, says that’s how she became involved with the group in the first place.

“I was helping a friend with two Pit Bulls last fall. No rescue could take them, but I was committed to them and ended up driving them to Missouri to get them to a rescue,” Kinsey recalls.

In calling around to various rescues, Kinsey contacted Groovy Paws. She was told they were a small dog rescue and could not take in the Pit Bulls she was seeking placement for, but instead was offered 100 pounds of dog food and bedding.

“People will do that,” Kinsey said of the rescue’s assistance.

Though Paddy was the one found on the streets in poor health and in need of rescue, Kinsey tells a bit of a different story.

“Paddy is an amazing soul that deserves this second chance,” Kinsey said. “She inspires me daily, and I continue to learn from her ability to trust in people despite the pain they caused her in the past. Throughout this journey to save her, I found it to be my very own soul that was rescued.”

Local groomer wins Creative Groomer of the Year

posted September 25th, 2015 by

Lori Craig of Moore was recently named Barkleigh Honors Creative Groomer of the Year, a national title voted on by her dog grooming peers as part of Groom Expo in Hershey, Pa.

I have been nominated the last four years for it, but I won it this year, so it was really pretty amazing,” Craig said.

So what is creative grooming exactly?

As Craig explains, there is breed profile grooming, where you take a dog and you cut it to it’s breed profile. This is probably what most people know as dog grooming.

“And then there is creative grooming where you transfer the dog’s coat and fur into something completely different,” Craig said. “As a dog groomer, we get really bored. We do the same haircut day in and day out on every dog. With creative grooming, you add color, you add some hairspray and you start sculpting the hair.”

10639590_10152495270454473_413792196524344893_nA quick Google image search on my part brought up dogs with hair of every color, mohawks and fantastical shapes sculpted in to the fur of mostly standard poodles, some other dog breeds and even a few cats!

Craig’s winning designs this year were her Phantom of the Opera creation and Monarch butterflies.

“It’s amazing what you can do with fur,” Craig said.

For anyone concerned about the welfare of the animals involved, there is no need. The products and dyes used in the process are labeled for pets. Not to mention, the dogs love being transformed, says Craig.

“The dogs love the color and love the attention,” Craig said. “Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement and when people see a colored-up dog, they run and flock to them. [The dogs] absolutely love it!”

1017412_10201113386868871_72297664_nCraig says she has been doing creative grooming for about 12 years. She has been featured on TLC’s ‘Extreme Poodles’ and has traveled the world including Singapore, Scotland, Ireland and London teaching others how to turn their dogs into living artwork. She also takes her dogs on the road with her to compete across the nation.

Craig’s grooming salon Doggie Styles is located at 1261 S Eastern Ave., Moore, and she says creative grooming is gaining popularity.

“I probably do three to five creative things a day,” Craig said. “I do mohawks with color, stick on earrings, It’s just a way to make somebody’s dog stick out from the others.”

To make an appointment for your dog, call 405-790-0926 or visit to view more of her incredible creations.

– Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Mega Adoption Event this weekend

posted March 24th, 2015 by
Organic Squeeze

OKC Mega Adoption EventOKC Animal Welfare has a goal of helping at least 200 homeless pets find families this weekend at its Mega Adoption Event, said Julie Bank, superintendent of OKC Animal Welfare.

“Starting right now through September is the time of the year that gets really busy for us,” Bank said. “We get so many animals in the door and as a result we need to find adoptive families for them.”

More than 15 rescues and hundreds of animals will be featured at the Mega Adoption Event from  9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 28 and 29. The event takes place in the Hobbies, Arts and Crafts Building at Oklahoma State Fair Park.

Bank says there are a couple of reasons for the influx of animals in the spring.

“The springtime is breeding season, so with breeding season come lots of puppies and kittens,” she said. “And unfortunately it is also travel season and with travel season we tend to see more animals somehow getting caught up in getting lost in travel plans.”

Animals will be subject to the adoption fees of their rescue group or shelter.

“Even if you are just someday looking to adopt a pet, this is a great opportunity to come down and learn about the different groups and different types of animals so when you are ready to adopt, you know where to go and you are better educated,” Bank said. “Or just come down and find a new friend if you are ready.”

For more information, visit or

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Saying goodbye

posted April 23rd, 2014 by
Lauren Pic 3

By far, the hardest part of having a pet is the day you have to say goodbye. Unfortunately, our fur kiddos just can’t stay forever and some leave us too soon.

Lauren Pic 2Our family recently said goodbye to our cat Floyd. Always a large cat, at 10 years old he had been diabetic almost half of his life.

In a house of two dogs and four cats, he was definitely the alpha dog, large and in charge. Even at the end, when he was very sick and tired, the dogs still deferred to our great white cat.

He also earned the nickname Mama Kitty when we brought home two sweet little kittens. He was always bathing and cuddling them. And if a dog so much as looked at one of them the wrong way, watch out!

I’m sure Floyd has joined some of my childhood cats and dogs in Pet Heaven. Hopefully, he isn’t bossing them around right now.

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

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