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Pets & Pet Stories

A custom build "door" for Lucy

By Ginny Simon

Lucy is a rescued pit bull mix, approximately 6 1/2 years old.

lucy for the horse of del valLucy (Photo by Equiscape Photography)When she went out in the morning, she would always jump through the top two rails on our previous deck.

When we contracted for a new deck, one of the requirements was that Lucy could continue her morning routine – while still staying compliant with new codes and regulations.

They developed a "custom canine egress" as shown.

It took her a day or two and a lot of sniffing and inspecting, and a few tentative jumps, but now, Lucy continues to leap into each new day.


Crackers on Sundays

By Debra Malinics

On weekly visits to see my mother, 91, I take our dog, Carmen.

CRACKERS 1My mother loves to give Carmen crackers that she stockpiles from her meals.

When my mother sees Carmen, she gets a big smile and asks, "Does Carmen want a cracker?" as she takes a cracker from the container and tries to open it, but can't.

“I can open it for you” I say, and she retorts with “I can do it.”

Five minutes later, she is still “doing it.”

My mother looks at Carmen and says, “Grandma needs to get her scissors."

My mother and Carmen slowly make their way across the room and with scissors, my mother finally opens the package.

CRACKERS 2I want to break out the champagne and throw confetti.

It's the little things in life that create pure joy.

"Do you want a cracker?" my mother asks, and Carmen whines.

The crackers slip out of the package and the first goes down Carmen's throat in one second.

The second goes down as quickly.

"Not so fast Carmen," my mother advises…. "Eat slowly."

After swallowing the two crackers, my mother looks at Carmen and asks …."Does Carmen want another cracker?"

And so, act two repeats itself in exact detail.

After two rounds of crackers, an hour has passed and I exclaim..."Oh my, look at the time, we've got to go!"

Only once have I made it to three rounds!

And so, with farewell kisses, pats on Carmen’s head, and endearing words to return soon – to Carmen, not me – Carmen and I depart.

As I enter my house, my husband asks,” How was the visit?”

I smile and say, “It was a two cracker visit” and he nods with complete understanding.

Carmen looks at us both and seems to say, “I wish I got more crackers!”

A wonderful inter-species relationship between a dog and a horse

By Debra Malinics

Years ago, I rode in Fairmount Park, out of Monastery Stables in the West Mt. Airy area of the city of Philadelphia.

Debra and MugsyDebra and MugsyWhenever possible, I would take our dog, Mugsy, with me to the stable.

Mugsy was a beagle-basset mix adopted from the Morris Animal Shelter in center city.

Mugsy loved to go to the stable, and that is where he, and my horse, Thunder, developed a beautiful friendship - one of my first experiences with a deeply seated, inter-species relationship.

There were usually other dogs at the stable, but Mugsy and Thunder seemed to fall for each other almost immediately.

Whenever Mugsy arrived at the stable, he would jump up on Thunder’s stall.

Thunder would put his head down to Mugsy’s height and Mugsy would affectionately lick his muzzle.

I called it their “hello kiss” as it was so loving and gentle, and it always happened when Mugsy first arrived.

Mugsy would sometimes sit and watch me tack up while he and Thunder made eyes at each other.

Thunder and mugsyMugsy would wait patiently until I was finished, and then we would walk outside so I could mount.

If Mugsy were “exploring,” I would whistle and he would come bounding to the mounting block, ready to ride, or follow along as the case happened to be.

Sometimes, if Thunder was on rest, I would ride another horse, and if that were the case, Mugsy simply refused to go with me, staying with Thunder at the stable while I worked in the ring.

When we were all together, however, Mugsy would follow behind Thunder, his little legs moving as fast as they could.

Thunder would never go “too fast” and he would periodically look back to check on Mugsy, making sure he as in view.

If Thunder didn’t’ see him, he would stop ---­ suddenly --- and wait until Mugsy caught up.

Many a bloody nose I got from that show of friendship!

Mugsy was a dog full of mischief --- he was part beagle after all --- and he was obsessed with food.

Did I say he was part beagle?

Mugsy was obsessed with any food, anywhere, any time.

He loved to search for anything that could be eaten, and he often left behind a trail of turned over waste baskets, licked clean, Dunkin Donut boxes, candy wrappers and food wrappers.

I often heard the familiar phrase “Oh no, Mugsy ate my lunch again.“

This happened so often that I was convinced boarders purposely left their locker doors open for Mugsy, as I would always apologize and offer to replace the eaten sandwich with a sandwich of their choosing.

Yes, bring peanut butter and jelly and leave with a turkey club on rye, Not a bad deal.

Mugsy especially loved a historic restaurant and inn in the park that we often passed on our rides, Valley Green Inn.

The Inn had a long outdoor dining porch that Mugsy viewed as a buffet bar calling his name.

He took the opportunity of passing this Inn, to its fullest advantage.

On our approach, Mugsy would assess the situation – who was sitting where and where the food was placed.

He would run up the steps, plan his course, then strike with a quick run across the porch, grabbing any unattended bread or rolls, then run down the opposite side of the porch to catch up to Thunder.

Though his legs were short, they moved fast during his strategic pounce as I heard, “Hey, that dog just stole my toast” or
“That dog took the rolls.”

I kept trotting hoping they did not make a connection between my dog and me.

I was embarrassed but felt the conversation, stories he created, and the laughter I heard, overrode losing the bread basket.

He was often remembered with the remark, “Here comes that dog again, grab your toast.”

Back at the stable, Mugsy absolutely loved what we called, Manure Mountain --- the pile of manure behind the barn that grew with every mucking out of the stalls – it was so organic, fresh and appealing.

Mugsy spent a lot of time on Manure Mountain and loved to show new dogs the joys of its existence, to the horror of their owners.

Whenever I found Mugsy exploring its treasures, however, he knew there would be a price to pay....a bath and brushing when we got home.

A steep price to pay, but Mugsy felt that Manure Mountain was worth it.

When Mugsy died in 1995, our hearts were broken, for he took a piece of them with him when he left.

He received many beautiful notes from his many stable fans and friends, some with illustrations of him running on the porch at Valley Green Inn.

Some say animals don’t have emotions as we experience them, but anyone who has had animals know that is not true.

Their expressions may be different – licking verses lip kissing, but they feel and express so much love and joy so purely.

After Mugsy died, whenever I went to the stable, Thunder would look for Mugsy to arrive, looking confused, turning side to side and backwards, waiting for his little friend to enter.

Thunder would look at me and his eyes seemed to ask, “where is my little friend?”

I tried to explain that Mugsy died, but he kept looking for him each time I arrived.

My heart broke with every visit, but I knew that one day, when Thunder himself died, Mugsy would be waiting for him over that rainbow bridge.

Thunder would greet him and lower his face and Mugsy would lick his muzzle, asking what took him so long to join him.

The two of them would then be together as they should be.

We had Mugsy cremated, and because he loved the stable so much I wanted to scatter some of his ashes there.

My husband, Bernie, and I, went one day to complete this task that we hoped would ease our grieving.

Bernie asked where I wanted to scatter Mugsy’s ashes and I said ,“Manure Mountain.”

Bern was taken aback and said, “Deb I am not scattering Mugsy on a pile of manure.” “

But Bernie, I said, "Mugsy loved Manure Mountain,”  but he was adamant.

We compromised and scattered his ashes around the stable and in Thunder’s stall.

I stroked Thunder’s head as he sniffed the ashes, and I hoped Mugsy could somehow sense Thunder was near him.

Later, I sprinkled some of his ashes on Manure Mountain so he would be able to rest on one of his favorite stable places.

I knew in doggie heaven there would be lots of Manure Mountains for Mugsy to climb and all the sandwiches he could ever steal and lots of porches on which he could grab food and run.

When Thunder arrived, I just knew they would be reunited again, to run on forever and ever, together at last.

Delaware Valley University students study stress in Therapy Dogs

A lot of research has looked at how therapy dogs impact people, but not many projects have examined how being a therapy dog impacts the animal.

De. Valley JuneTwo Delaware Valley University students partnered with Roxy Therapy Dogs to study stress in therapy dogs.

The research is aimed at improving the experience for dogs.

Kelly Gruber ’18 and Francesca Lanfranchi ’18, small animal science majors, conducted the research through DelVal’s Student Research course.

They swabbed the dogs’ mouths to check cortisol levels and used videos to check for signs of stress.

Student Research is a course that is offered through DelVal’s Experience360 Program (E360).

Through the E360 Program, 100 percent of the University’s undergraduates gain real-world experience before graduation.

“I feel lucky,” said Gruber. “I talk to my friends from other schools when I go home, and they’re blown away that I get to have this hands-on experience.”

Both Gruber and Lanfranchi have been accepted to veterinary school.

Learn more about the Experience360 Program at

Help Homeless Animals at Cirque Dreams Event

Elegant and sophisticated, the “Forget-Me-Not” celebration is the Brandywine Valley SPCA’s premier event, attracting 400-500 guests from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

SPCA 1Guests will be dazzled by delectable dishes and spirited libations, spectacular entertainment, adorable adoptable pets, live music and silent and live auctions.

This year’s gala theme is “Cirque Dreams.”

SPCA 2Imagine a magical wonderland where all animals are safe, where all animals are loved, and where all animals are cared for.

That is the Brandywine Valley SPCA and the BVSPCA’s vision for all animals.

Cirque Dreams will be held on Sept. 23, 2018, from 5 pm to 10 pm at the Mendenhall Inn in Chadds Ford. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


See demo video here.

The EquiGroomer was developed after avid horsewoman Cheryl Dauphin bought Leo, a 10-year-old, sensitive-skinned, Thoroughbred cross.

Equi GroomerTo her dismay, she quickly realized how dangerous it was to use any of the shedding tools she already owned because the large teeth irritated his skin and caused stress and irritation.

She began experimenting with a variety of products and settled on the only thing Leo would tolerate, a traditional shedding stone.

They worked well but wore down quickly and left a gritty residue in his coat.

She needed to find something that would work like a stone but last like a shedding blade, be gentle on his skin, comfortable to hold and easy to find among the stall shavings.

After much experimentation, the EquiGroomer was born.

It solved more than just the shedding problem, it helped Leo’s coat stay clean, shiny and soft, which says a lot for a gray horse who loves to roll in the mud!

More importantly, because it actually grabs the loose hair and pulls it away rather than just pushing it around, it has cut his shedding time in half.

What makes the EquiGroomer unique is the design of its teeth.

Most traditional shedding blades are made from flat steel with both a coarse and fine sawtooth pattern cut into its edge.

Each tooth on the EquiGroomer’s blade includes a tiny barb that actually grabs the dead, dry, scaly hair and pulls it out.

In addition, those teeth are so small that they’ll never make contact with the skin, even on the shortest coats.

This design allows the majority of the hair to fall gently onto the floor rather than flying through the air and onto your clothes, face and hands.

If the blade fills with dirt or hair, it can simply be blown or brushed off.

Daily use of the EquiGroomer will leave your horse's coat shiny and smooth.

Each time you glide the blade along their coat, you not only remove loose hair, you pull up the dirt and dander that’s hiding beneath the surface.

You also help bring up the natural oils in their skin. This is especially important for those horses that are bathed regularly.

Your horse is worth it.

Keeping your horse’s coat clean, shiny, soft and free from the itch and unsightliness of a shedding coat is the responsibility of all caring horse owners.

It’s the perfect addition to your grooming box not only during shedding season but all year long.

There are so many grooming products on the market today, but NONE with all the features, comfort and attention to the needs of horses like the EquiGroomer.

The EquiGroomer works great on dogs and cats, too!

Visit theiwebsite for videos and reviews demonstrating its effectiveness on all types of animals.

Kris Smith's pet rabbit

Bonnie Boy who is a 3.5 year old Netherland Dwarf bunny. Bonnie was purchased for $5 from an Amish produce farmer at the New Holland Auction.

Kris Smiths rabbitThe farmer thought that Bonnie was a female bunny, but once owners Kris and Anna Smith of Kennett Square learned the Bonnie was a boy, his name became Bonnie Boy.

Bonnie is also known as Bon Bon, Bono, Bonner, or Cutie Poop. Bonnie Boy is very curious and likes to hop around and also watch The Walking Dead.

Ginny Jenkin's rescue cat

A few summers ago I was pet sitting at a home where there was talk of getting “rid of” a big wild cat that kept coming around to eat the food put out for their outdoor cats.

Ginnys cat 1I begged them to let me try to get him, which I did in a Have a Heart trap with a bowl of tuna.

Upon taking this wild tiger cat home, he almost immediately escaped.

I was sickened with worry about him being in a different environment with again no one to care for him, and how I had let him down.

After a couple of weeks, however, in our vegetable garden we noticed bite marks on many of our big tomato plants.

It turned out that this big Tiger Cat (that we named the same) was the half starved culprit.

Ginnys cat 2So steadily, with food taken out to him morning and night, and building trust, with a great deal of love, this wild man came around to become my cherished friend.

I watched over time, as month’s (and years) passed, as he came down a notch or two of wild, to a beautiful beloved friend who I cherished.

It was amazing to see what love (and trust) can really do.

I have shared this story with many people who have also been challenged by adopting and helping feral cats, as we did………well worth the effort for them and for you.

A favorite dog, Skeeter

I got Skeeter as a pup for my 5-year-old Jack Russell, Annie.

I was managing a waterfront inn on Maryland's Eastern Shore which was pet friendly, and Annie was always a bit sad when they would leave.

Skeeter and Annie were like two peas in a pod, they truly loved one another.

We now live in Aiken, S.C., and we had been to the Aiken Trials, where Skeet was quite the "Big Horse" that day.

My sweet boy will be 12 in January!

Skeeter in PETS

Eight favorite animals belonging to Susan Halford

Susan Halford has a group of favoritepets, many of the related.

The white dog is Fezzick, son of Sophie, one of 8. He's my daughters, but she's in the Coast Guard so he's with me!

Halford 1


Halford 8

Another of Susan Halford's

Sophie, and son Fezzick. They're at the Vets, and trying to hide behind each other!!

Halford 2

Halford's third

Godiva VF, aka Viva, was born and raised at Volterra Farm in West Chester.

Halford 3























Another shot of Viva

Halford 5

Halford's fourth

The beautiful Sophie. I rescued her as a starving, supposedly spayed pup, but shortly after getting her, she shocked all of us by having 8 pups!! I have Sophie, both daughters kept a pup, and the other 6 got great homes.

halford 6

Halford's fifth

Maximus the Gladiator only has half a heart and no one wanted him as he wasn't to live past 6mths to a year. He is now 2 and he's a great barn dog with no clue that he shouldn't be alive!

Halford 7

Halford's sixth

We rescued Enya as a pup just before Christmas, she was supposedly vicious and meant to be put down. We "spirited" her away, and she was the least vicious dog on this earth!!!

Halford 8

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The Horse of Delaware Valley

Editor: Sara Cavanagh

Advertising Director: Ginny Jenkins

Marketing Manager: Heather Bradway


Since 1980