Archive for March 10th, 2011

“The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” – Anonymous

The “pet-owner” lifestyle is very common to most Americans—according to The Humane Society, it’s estimated that six in 10 Americans own some sort of pet. 39% percent of those households own at least one dog, and 33% of households own at least one cat. And in 2010 Americans spent an astonishing $47.7 billion a year on their furry friends. Some people joke that they treat their pets better than their own children, but for many Americans, their pets ARE their children. So spending excess money on their pets is the same as spending money like they would on a child. But where does all that money go? Here’s the breakdown:

1.     Food………………………………..………………..………..…$18.2 billion

2.     Supplies/OTC medicine………………………………..…$11 billion

3.     Vet care……………………………………………….…..….…$12.7 billion

4.     Live animal purchases…………………………………….$2.2 billion

5.     Grooming and boarding…………………………….……$3.4 billion

Those without pets might question if it’s really worth it, especially with the economy the way it is these days. But pet-owners are a unique breed (no pun intended), they don’t see spending money on a pet as “wasting money”.

I talked to a few pet owners about how they spend money on their pet(s) and the majority of people that I talked to said they treat their pets to quality food and treats. Julia Weigle, a senior advertising major, says it’s the little things that make a difference, “If I take them [dogs] for a ride I usually stop and get them a special treat while we’re out, like doggie ice cream from somewhere that comes with a little milkbone on the top.”


So where do you go in Morgantown to pamper your pooch with high quality food and choice spa services? WOOFS Pet Supply Store is a great place to start.

They offer an array of dog and cat supplies, organic pet foods and treats, fashion accessories, as well as holistic foods and treatments (i.e. aromatherapy shampoos and canine massage therapy). Yes, I said canine massage therapy. Laura Freeman has been a registered canine massage therapist for two years now, and currently sees a minimum of two dogs a week as the resident massage therapist at WOOFS. “It’s just great, I love it, and just working with the rescue dogs too…it’s very rewarding.” A typical massage session lasts anywhere from 45-60 minutes, depending on the dog. Laura takes us through the process: “So basically I want to get a history from the owner just to make sure what the history is, how old the dog is, or if there’s any other problems.Then we start out either on the table, or if they’re not comfortable on the table I start on the floor. And sometimes the owners will stay, sometimes they leave depending on the dog; a lot of times the dogs do better if the owner is there but it varies depending on the individual. And then I just start with the head and I do all the muscle groups all the way down to thelegs, the back, the hips, and that takes about 45-minutes to an hour.” The average rate for a single canine massage session is $40 for 45 minutes, but Laura lowers the price for smaller dogs. She also offers her services to rescue dogs free of charge.

Lucy enjoying a massage

So which dogs can benefit from massage therapy? All dogs. Young dogs, old dogs,arthritic dogs, rescue dogs, dogs recovering from surgery, and the list goes on. Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes at the fact that such a thing as canine massage therapy even exists, but Laura says that today she sees most people bringing their dogs in for heath reasons, rather than for the sake of simply pampering them.

Canine massage therapy not sound like your thing? Owner, Jody Wolfe, says these days she sees most people indulging their pets by buying premium foods and treats. And that makes sense, since Americans spend $18.2 billion on pet food every year. But what makes WOOFS stand apart from other pet stores? Jody says it’s their customer service and the knowledge that’s behind it. “You go to a chain store and you may or may not encounter an employee that is well educated [in pet products], but here you do.” Jody even encourages her customers to come in for nutritional consultations and to bring allergy reports from their vet—or even have the vet call her directly—to ensure that the food, treats, toys, etc. will be safe for the well-being of the pet. (Now that’s love and dedication…you’re not going to find this type of help at PetCo folks).

WOOFS also offers a wide variety of dog and cat products. “I’m a real vigilante about quality, I am constantly researching about products to make sure the products I have on the floor are products that are safe for people to take home to their dogs. My thought is if it’s not something I would take home to my own dogs, then it’s not something I’m going to sell for yours.”

In addition to premium foods and treats, grooming is a great (and relatively cheap) way to pamper your four-legged friend. WOOFS also offers full dog grooming, but only for small and medium breed dogs. Jody says that just bathing a dog at home may not be cutting it, “Most people that are doing bathing at home are not doing the kind of deep cleaning that you can get with a groom. They may not be getting in the ears, they may not be clipping the nails enough; so grooming is a really important way to not only promote the dogs well being but to pamper the dog as well—dogs like to feel clean!” A full groom at WOOFS (for a small breed dog) will run you anywhere from $30-$35.


Partying with your pooch may be taking it too far...

A big difference between other pet stores and this store, is that WOOFS is about more than just pet supplies. Jody is a big advocate for rescuing animals and promotes local shelters in and around the Morgantown area. They work hand-in-hand with Animal Friends of North Central West Virginia and Mon. County Canine Adoption Center to help get animals adopted as well as donating products. “Whether it’s bags of food or flea products, whatever they need at a certain time, we try to help them out.”

Protein shake anyone?

So whether you’re looking to indulge your pet in great food or relieve their stress with a doggie massage, I highly recommend giving WOOFS a try. If you’ve never been there, animals are more than welcome inside, and the knowledge and love that these women have for animals is unmatched by any other store in the area. So whichever way you choose to pamper your pooch, WOOFS has it covered. And based on the statistics, I think it’s safe to say that people aren’t going to stop spoiling their pets anytime soon…I know I’m not going to!

-Keep reading next week for, Tips for Adopting a Pet!

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“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” –Mason Cooly.

The Appalachian Prison Book Project, located on Spruce Street, is a non-profit organization that sends books to prison inmates throughout the Appalachian region.  The books are donated by the public, and then sent out by volunteers according to letter requests from inmates.

The organization launched when graduate English Professor Katy Ryan and her class used the idea for a class project.  Realizing there were not any prison book projects that served the Appalachian region, APBP became permanent.

If you are reading this and you are wondering the same thing I was, then you’re asking yourself why in the world anyone would want to help prisoners.  Consider this: Would you rather spend your time volunteering at a soup kitchen feeding unfortunate families, or would you prefer to help members of your own community who have previously been taken out of the community for criminal behavior?

I love reading.  In fact, one of my favorite places to be is in a library (yea, I’m that girl).  I can certainly not protest to promoting literacy, but I can’t help but wonder what might drive people to put forth their volunteer time helping prisoners. 

Let us consider the bigger picture:

Angie Iafrate, an APBP volunteer, said that what most people do not realize is that many inmates are eventually going to re-enter society. 

“We desire that persons come out of the prison system making better decisions and being better contributors to society than when they went in.”

Iafrate said that studies have been found revealing reduced recidivism rates thanks to education and literacy. 

Joseph Pusateri is not an APBP volunteer, but he does spend his time writing letters to prison inmates. 

“No matter what you’ve thought, felt believed or done, no matter what’s been done to you, there is nothing that can happen in a person’s life, that God cannot transform into something magnificent,” said Pusateri.

Pusateri would like to remind us that we are all God’s children, and God loves us all unconditionally, no matter what we have done.  It is our responsibility to spread God’s unconditional love.

I believe that most people all too quickly forget to imagine what life can be like kept away from the outside world.  Books are an escape for all of us and that includes inmates.  They provide a way for prisoners to educate themselves and free their minds.  Unfortunately, prisons do not advertise for the program.

“That’s what’s crazy, it’s all word of mouth by the inmates,” said Alicia Petrarca, an APBP volunteer. 

Each inmate is allowed to have one book per letter, or one book and a dictionary or Bible.  The most popular requests APBP receives are for educational books or dictionaries.

“There are no dictionaries on our shelves right now,” said Petrarca.

Volunteers are always needed at APBP.  Volunteer work includes stalking the shelves, reading and responding to letters, packaging books, and sending them out

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