A Special Breed of Dog Owners

Founded in 1961, the Sioux Empire Kennel Club (SEKC) brings together a special breed of extraordinary people who share a love of dogs. Its members are dedicated to upholding the integrity of the American Kennel Club’s Registry, promoting the sport of purebred and mixed-breed family dogs and breeding dogs for type and function. The SEKC is an all-breed club that has been a member of the American Kennel Club since 1968 and shares its objective: To advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs. But the club is not only for purebreds, family dogs are welcome and open to compete in a variety of competitions. With more than 100 dog enthusiasts as members, the club is committed to advocate for the purebred show dog or family companion, advance canine health and wellbeing, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible ownership. The SEKC is a proud sponsor of the Sioux Falls Humane Society and BIG PAWS Canine Academy and Foundation, an organization that trains and provides service and companion dogs to disabled veterans and former first responders injured in the line of duty.


COMPETITION The SEKC hosts an annual Fall Show and various Obedience/ Agility trials throughout the year, giving members and guests from across the region a great opportunity to enter the ring and receive recognition for the hard work both dogs and their owners dedicate to preparing for competition. TRAINING We love puppies, and believe that they – and their human companions – live better together with basic training, but this is just the beginning of the classes we conduct for dogs in the area. From the basics to competition preparation, we offer many class and seminar choices for our members and the community.

  • Agility – (Various levels) Teach your dog to jump correctly, jump grids, different types of jumps and tunnels.
  • Conformation – (AKC-UKC registered dogs only) Get your dog ready for the show ring.
  • Obedience – (Various levels) Build a good relationship with your dog, prevent common behavior problems with the use of games and positive reinforcement. Prepare to compete at all levels of obedience.
  • Nose Work – (Various levels) Inspired by working detection dogs, Nose Work is the fun search and scenting activity for virtually all dogs and people. This new sport builds confidence and focus in many dogs, and provides a safe way to keep dogs fit and healthy through mental and physical exercise. Coming soon.
  • Rally – (Dogs with basic obedience skills only) The newest AKC sport, dogs and their owners make their way through a complex course showcasing obedience skills – a fun experience for people and pets.
  • Therapy Dog Manners Class – (Some restrictions apply) This class will help you and your dog prepare to test for certification by TDI. The SEKC does not train therapy dogs but works closely with TDI to support this valuable program.
  • Seminars offered throughout the year in basic training, obedience, agility and nose work. Find the class that’s right for you and your dog on our website. MEMBERSHIP Sioux Empire Kennel Club members are active participants in club activities, serve on committees, and assist with the annual Fall Show and any Obedience/ Agility Trials hosted by the club. Membership fees: $20/ year – Single* $25/year – Family*

To be considered for membership applicants are required to attend a minimum of two meetings and have written sponsorship of two SEKC members in good standing. General membership meetings – 7 pm on the second Tuesday of each month at our facility at the Old McDonald’s farm building, W.H. Lyons Fairgrounds. Board meetings – Monthly, prior to the general membership meeting. Guests are welcome to attend general meetings and volunteer at events. Download an application from our website and become a member today.

SEKC Facilities – Old McDonald’s Farm Building W.H. Lyons Fairgrounds |100 N Lyon Blvd Sioux Falls, SD 57107 | siouxempirekennelclub.org

As seen in South Side Living Magazine- Article Credit: Krista Haynes

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Garage

As a pet owner, you probably do everything you can to keep your furry friends safe. However, one of the biggest danger zones for your pet may be lurking in your own home! The garage may seem harmless, but there are many threats that if not taken care of properly, can seriously harm or even kill your fur baby. The good news is, these dangers can be easily taken care of if you follow a few precautionary steps.

Photo by Monkey Bar Storage

Photo by Monkey Bar Storage

Leaving and Entering Your Garage

Parking and backing out of the garage can seem like simple tasks. However, these tasks can take a hazardous turn if your pets have free range in your garage. Cats like to snuggle up against the warm engine, on top of tires and other strange places around your car, so it is important to check around the car before you turn it on. Pets can also be startled by your car starting and accidentally run behind it. Make sure all of your animals are safe and sound inside the house before you try and back up or pull into your garage.

Storing Your Belongings

Homeowner’s garages are most commonly used as a storage rooms. Keeping bigger items like wheel barrows, ladders and bicycles can be harmful to your pets if they aren’t properly stored. If these items are kept loose, they have the potential to fall and hurt your pets! Hanging these items from a storage rack or housing them on some overhead storage will help prevent this mishap. These options are ideal because they get your things off of the ground where they are easily messed with, and onto the safer areas of the walls and ceiling.

There are also many smaller items in the garage that can be just as harmful! Items like antifreeze, paints, gasoline and gardening products contain aromas that attract curious critters. The problem is the chemicals in these products can seriously harm or even kill your animals. To avoid this horrible outcome, store these products in cabinets that close and lock, so only you have access to them.  

Climate Control

Permanently keeping your pets in the garage is not a good idea. A lot of pet owners may do this because they believe it to be a better alternative to keeping them outside. The garage still gets very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter if you do not have some sort of climate controlling system in place. If you feel like it is too hot or too cold to keep your furry friends outside, it is too hot or too cold to keep them in the garage as well!

The garage can be a dangerous place for animals, but following these simple tips will transform your garage from a danger zone, to a place every member of your family can enjoy.

Source: Born Again Spaces

Submitted by Megan Nokleby

Safety Tips: Adventures and Hiking with your Pup


We love exploring new places with our pups (a 10 year-young Golden Retriever, and a 1 yr old Border Collie/JRT mix) and it wouldn’t be an adventure without them.  They love to explore as much as, or even more than, we do.  Because of this, they can sometimes get in over their heads since they don’t know when to call it quits.  That is where we, and all other pet owners, need to be mindful of the activities that can turn from awesome to awful, and how to prevent them.  We’d like to share with you our top 10 tips for keeping your adventures on the awesome side:

1.         Mind the heat: Dogs cannot handle heat like humans can.  Dogs can only sweat lightly through their paw pads and through panting.  These aren’t the most efficient ways to cool off!  Only take your pup out for long walks, hikes, or play dates in the cool morning or late evening.  Brachycephalic (short faced) dogs like bulldogs, boxers, and pekingese have a harder time cooling off because they pant less efficiently than a long faced dog (think labs, goldens, poodles, etc.).  Be especially mindful of their exposure to the sun and heat in length, intensity, and activity level.

2.         Stay Hydrated: Keep them hydrated by stopping every 15-30 minutes for water breaks.  Avoid hot pavement or surfaces for long periods of a time to minimize potential for paw burns.  Try to incorporate clean water sources and shade to help keep them cool.  We like to plan hikes with a water source mid-hike.  It gives the dogs a good opportunity to cool down, and an excuse to take a break.  Always bring more potable water for you and your pup to drink than you think you need.  Animal waste in water streams can make them sick, and no body wants to get dehydrated.

3.         Know your closest veterinarian: This one is especially important if you are traveling or exploring a new place.  A very sad story last week reported about a dog dying from heat exhaustion while on a family hike in 90 degree weather.  Know the warning signs of heat stroke (bright red gums that turn to white or blue, excessive heavy panting, lameness or reluctance to continue walking, and eventually shock) so you can start cooling them off and get them to the nearest vet without having to search for cell service.  Cool your dog off by wrapping them in a large towel soaked in cold water, ice packs to the groin, and rubbing alcohol on their paw pads.  If it has progressed to the point of lameness and shock get them to the vet’s office immediately while applying the previous steps in transit.

4.         Stay out of algae blooms: Algae blooms are more likely to happen in standing water and manifest in large clumps of opaque green or blue-green masses. They are highly toxic.  A dog that ingests algae through drinking or licking themselves may appear to be healthy, and be suddenly very, very sick.  A dog recently died in Minnesota within hours of algae exposure.  His people just wanted to have fun at the lake and didn’t know any different.  Know the risks and what to look for in the water.

5.         Lifejackets aren’t just for kids: Did you know most dogs aren’t born knowing how to swim?  Despite the commonly known “doggie paddle,” you might have to get in the water with your dog to ensure they can keep their snout up, float and kick.  Also, dogs are very good at hiding pain or exhaustion when they want to keep playing.  Doggie lifejackets can be a good idea for dogs that beg for the ball to be thrown off the dock “just one last time.”

6.         Tie-outs and ID tags: Fireworks, large gatherings, new places and bonfires can potentially be scary for dogs.  Keep them on a leash, and don’t leave them unattended on a tether or underground fence.  Not only does it raise the chances for heat stroke, some dogs can achieve super-doggie strength, pain resistance, and stamina when frightened.  Consider getting your pet micro-chipped.  It is an inexpensive form of permanent identification that can be used by vets, animal control, or a humane society if your pet loses their collar or is stolen.  It can keep an older dog or other pet from being euthanized because they are deemed “homeless” in an overcrowded shelter.  And yes, a lost 15 yr old, one eyed dog was just saved from euthanization by a rescue in North Dakota only to be reunited with her owners a week later.  It can happen!

7.         Make a first aid kit: A first aid kit is important for both you and your pup.  Include items such as rubbing alcohol, gauze, saline solution, vet wrap, cotton strips for tying a tourniquet, cornstarch for helping to stop bleeding, wound spray, tweezers, gloves, and a good canine first aid book.  It is also a good idea to have an extra leash, large towels or old blankets if you need to create a makeshift stretcher, a flashlight, and matches.  And again, keep a list of veterinarian’s phone numbers and office locations.  Remember, web service via cell phone might not be available where you are headed.

8.         Clean up after your pets: It is always best to take any waste out with you if possible.  If not, it should be buried, just like human waste, at least 200 feet away from any water sources.  Animal and human waste can pollute our clean waters.  And, frankly, it is really frustrating for non-dog people and responsible pet owners alike.  Always bring extra bags, too!  I know a dog that would poop 3 times on any given walk.

 9.         Bring a Pack: Ok, so you’re looking at this list of things to remember and bring along, and you are asking us, “Hey, Lucky Pup, where am I going to put all this stuff??”  Well, adventurers, let me introduce you to the doggie backpack.  Just like a hiking pack is an asset for any human adventurer, a doggie pack will help keep some weight off your back.  A well fitting pack should sit over the dog’s shoulders and be snug, distribute the load, and not flop around.  And, make sure your pup never carries more than 20-30% of their body weight.  Start them off hiking with the pack nearly empty, and work up to more weight and longer periods of time.  A pack will add to the workout, which can be great for a high-energy dog.  We really like a pack made by Ruffwear that is a removable pack and harness together.  It is more expensive, but you get two high quality items.

10.  Enjoy!!! We are big advocates for taking your pets with you on adventures.  Not only does it strengthen the pet-human bond, but it makes for lasting memories.  Our pets only get to share in our lives for a short amount of time, so our Lucky Pup Adventures goal is to help you make the most of that time.  Get out there and try something new!  Can’t get out as much as you’d like with your furry friend?  Don’t worry, we can help!  Check us out at LuckyPupAdventures.com for more information.

SD Flight Dogs

Flight_Dogs_blog graphic


There are many organizations that run Dock Jumping events. The most popular ones are Dock Dogs and Super Retriever Series (SRS) Super Dock, both established in the year 2000. The Incredible Dog Challenge was the first to have Dock Jumping competition in 1997.

The Dock

The dock is 8 foot wide by 40 foot long and is 2 foot above the water. For the safety of the dogs, make sure the body of water they are jumping in is free from debris and at least 4 foot deep.

Distance Measuring Procedure

Dock Dogs and SRS both measure from the lateral midpoint of the end of the dock to where the base of the dog’s tail breaks the water’s surface. This is done with digital video freeze frame technology.

 photo 1


Big Air (Super Fly) – This is the long jump for dogs. The dog is placed anywhere on the 40’ dock, the dog runs and jumps in after a toy. The record jump is 25’.

Extreme Vertical (Super Fly) – This is the high jump for dogs. The dog starts at the 20’ mark on the dock and runs and jumps to releases a bumper that is suspended above the water with magnets. The bumper toy is extended out 8’ from the dock and starts at 4’6” and goes up 2” increments. The record is 8’ high.

Speed Retrieve (Super Speed) – This event is a timed event. At the far end of the pool a toy is suspended 2” above the water. The dog is placed at the 20’ mark, when the light turns green the dog is released and the time stops when the dog releases the toy from the bracket. Dock Dogs 101 Iron Dog (Super Triathlon) – This is a triathlon for dogs. The dog will compete in the three above events; the dog with the highest total score is the Iron Dog.

photo 2Dock Dogs is for all Breeds

If your dog loves to retrieve and loves the water, Dock Dogs may be the perfect sport for your dog.

Tips on Training

When training your dog for Dock Dogs the first training step is to get your dog to jump off the edge of the dock into the water. This is done by using your dog’s favorite toy and encouraging them to jump in. Once your dog is jumping into the water without hesitation add speed by placing the dog further back on the dock. When your dog is using the full 40’ length of the dock you are ready to improve your jumping distance by adding height. Height can be added by using the proper throwing technique to get your dog to extend for the toy.

South Dakota Flight Dogs

SD Flight Dogs has a four week basic / intermediate class for both Big Air and Extreme Vertical competitions

Current Location: Lake Brandt, SD

Cost: $40 per dog – Class size 8 dogs, sign up to reserve your spot at: SDFlightdogs@yahoo.com

Local Dock Dog Events for South Dakota

Sioux Falls, SD SRS – Scheels August 9th

If you would like to learn more about Dock Dogs, contact your local Dock Training provider at SDFlightDogs@yahoo.com or 605-201-2861. Find them on facebook here!

{Info and photos provided by SD Flight Dogs}


Kitten Season

Kittens_blog graphic copy

Spring is here! And generally, any rescue or humane society knows that spring is also known as kitten season. I had an opportunity to ask Laura Tellberg of the Sioux Falls Humane Society (SFHS) a couple questions regarding the season that is now upon us.

Around what month does the SFHS notice kittens among kittens (or pregnant cats) coming in?

When steady, warm weather arrives the shelter receives kitten litters and pregnant moms. Maybe it’s because unfixed animals roam further than in colder weather or mothers find it more comforting to birth in warmer weather. So the month of May is when we see kittens numbers start to rise.

What should a person do if they find a litter of kittens/pregnant cat?

Any stray animal that is found must be reported to your local animal control or law enforcement office. Keeping a stray animal without reporting it is considered “stealing” someone’s property and is illegal. The shelter holds all strays for 3-5 days to allow owners to reclaim their pets. If the animal is not claimed within that time frame, it is considered abandoned and the shelter can then evaluate it for adoption. We have no problem calling the finder if they want to adopt or foster the pet they found.

What advice can you give someone if they decide to help and keep the pregnant cat since they have the room?

To care for a pregnant cat, the first priority is to get her in for a vet visit. While she cannot receive vaccinations while pregnant, she can be treated for any upper respiratory infections or dewormed if necessary. Feed her a high fat diet like hard kitten chow and always keep a full bowl available for her. And fresh water (no milk) is a must for all animals. The mother will often choose a quiet, secluded area to give birth (perhaps under the bed, a closet, under the stairs, etc.). A plush bed, peace and quiet is all she’ll need. Do not interfere or supervisor her during the birthing process as this can cause her stress and may cause her to stop giving birth altogether. As you check on her, if you notice any problems contact your vet.

After giving birth and the mother happens to escape/run away, what advice can you give a person in taking care of the newborn kittens?

Be patient for a few hours, mom may be out hunting or simply taking a “break”. Cats have a strong instinct to return to their litter. If she does not return after a few hours, you can call a vet or shelter to see if they have a mom to nurse them. Taking on the role of mother cat is a full time job. Feeding every 2 hours with Kitten Milk Replacer (using an eye dropper, syringe or bottle), keeping them warm with fleece blankets or a towel warm from the dryer, and stimulating them to go to the bathroom within 20 minutes after feeding will be the norm for several weeks or until they potty on their own. They won’t begin eating soft and hard food till about 4-5 weeks old.

To be safest, always consult your vet with any questions or concerns!

Jenny Whetzel

{fetch! contributor}

Netties Spay & Neuter Benefit

Benefit_blog graphic
Annette Hof’s bucket list someday might include exotic vacations and daring adventures, but first she wants to check off something much more humble and a lot closer to her heart.
The Crooks woman wants to make it easier for homeless dogs and cats to find someone to take them in. That’s why, so far, she has paid the veterinarian fees for neutering or spaying five dogs and three cats out of her pocket.
Hof, who holds down two jobs, feels that strongly about making sure unloved animals can find a permanent place to live, and she knows that’s much more likely to happen if the prospective pets can’t reproduce.
According to the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society, fees vary among veterinary clinics, but it costs about $200 to spay a cat or dog and $150 to neuter it.
Those figures mean Hof easily has spent more than $1,000 on dogs and cats she doesn’t even keep.
Hof knows some people will roll their eyes at what they see as misplaced generosity. As her husband reminds her, not everyone sees things the way she does.
For those of us who do, however, Hof is a bit of a hero.
She doesn’t see it that way. Hof sees it as something that needs to be done, for the animals’ sake, and she has decided she’s the one to do it.
“When Second Chance Rescue was in Sioux Falls a while back, I volunteered there for five years,” she says, referring to a now-defunct animal shelter. “I would take them to Dr. (Dayton) Williams at All Animal Pet Hospital and he would spay and neuter them, and I would pay out of my own pocket. Then they were getting adopted.”
After Second Chance closed, she missed the contact with the animals, despite always having some of her own at home, along with a couple “granddogs.” She missed helping out the animals and increasing their chances of adoption by funding necessary, but often overlooked, surgeries.
That’s why she decided to do it again. This time, however, she’s thinking bigger, with Netties Spay and Neuter. She has organized its first fundraiser. The proceeds will help pay for the spaying and neutering of foster dogs and cats in rescues and shelters.
Her goal is to stockpile $5,000. If accomplished, that would stop a lot of puppies and kittens from being born, Hof said. Right now, an unwanted animal is euthanized every eight seconds, she says. Reducing unwanted animals means a reduction in euthanization.
It also would make the adult animals’ lives healthier. That’s why the fundraiser isn’t all about accumulating money, Hof says. She intends to educate people on health benefits to animals who have been neutered or spayed.
-0425nettiesspayandneuter1577.jpg20140425 (Photo: Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader)
Since October, Hof has been raising money to start up Netties Spay and Neuter. She makes homemade dog treats, and whenever she has free time, she makes soft, warm, fleece blankets for dogs.
“I’ve been busting my butt making blankets and doing all sorts of things to raise money for these animals,” Hof says. “It’s all worth it to me.”
Some people want the companionship of an animal but can’t afford to pay for the surgical procedure. Hof, who has a 2-year-old yellow Lab named Brandi, a 7-year-old ferret named Snowy and two “granddogs,” K-Oz and Jose, understands how important it is to feel loved when you walk through your front door.
She has heard too many horror stories about unwanted puppies and kittens being dumped in the country, though, to let it go on when she can do something about it.
She also never tries to talk people into spaying and neutering their pets, preferring to lead by example, not barking orders.
“I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t preach about it,” Hof says. “They should be, but that’s my belief. I’m here to help the ones that do want help.”
The heady thought of being able to help shelter and rescue cats and dogs, however, is enough to make her speak out.
“It’s from the heart, all this is all from the heart,” she says. “I’ve got a love for the animals. I hope it turns out good and is a big success.”
If you go:
WHAT: Netties Spay and Neuter
WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. May 18
WHERE: American Legion, 1701 W. Legion Drive
EVENTS: Vendors, live music from The Outer Limits of Madison, food, a magician and raffles.
GOAL: To raise $5,000 to spay and neuter foster dogs and cats, making them more adoptable.
Article by Jill Callison – Argus Leader
Reach Jill at 331-2307 or jcallison@argusleader.com

How Your Pet Can Benefit From Raw Goat’s Milk

Goat_milk_blog graphic

Raw goat milk is a nutritious and tasty addition to your dog’s and cat’s diet. It is full of vitamins and minerals, is highly digestible and has the enzymes, anti-oxidants and electrolytes your pet needs. Goat milk is also a great way to help meet your pet’s daily need for moisture (this is especially true for cats).  Raw goat milk is also recommended as a replacement for mother’s milk for kittens that have been separated from their mother before being weaned.

Until recently, finding raw goat milk was nearly impossible. The folks at Primal Pet Foods have begun distributing frozen goat’s milk, raised without antibiotics or added hormones, that also includes organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic turmeric and probiotics. These ingredients benefit your pet by helping with digestion and arthritis relief as well as having anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties and being gluten free.

Frozen goat milk is available in Sioux Falls at Northview Fishing and Pets along with many premium brands of dry and canned foods for your dogs and cats.


Submitted by Matt Staab


Breathing Space : Life After Kody

BreathingSpace_blog graphic
What I mostly replay in my mind about Kody’s last days are moments in which I had no control; no relief, no fixing, no changing the situation.  When I held Kody the last moments of her life, I could only tell her what I had told her all her life; that she was the most beautiful Sheltie in the world.  I replay the morning in the vet’s office, when the doctor held the stethoscope over Kody’s heart and told me her heart had stopped.  I replied with a question, “She’s gone?”
If you have been through this, you know that this question isn’t answered with a yes or no.  It is answered through learning how to live again after Kody; or life after your loved one.
Losing Kody was one of the worst days of my life.  And I needed to figure out how to live from that day on.  It’s puzzling to me that acceptance is the 5th stage of the grieving process.  Shouldn’t the real word be tolerate rather than acceptance?  Still, it is a mystery how grief allows just enough strength to follow a routine.  I don’t know why we say strength, when it feels anything but – perhaps for lack of a better word.  For me, I spent most of my strength intending to snap out of it when I was daydreaming too often about Kody.  
I look for signs of Kody in the sky; a cloud shaped in her image, a formation that looks like her tail, her ears, the way she sat, the way she played, the way she ran.  
I am the most alert for Kody’s presence when sitting on the patio.  I watch for any sudden movement in the yard, or change in the wind’s strength.  I listen to the birds.  Nothing tells me that Kody is near, except my belief that she is here…in spirit. 
Last night I sat on a bench in the weight room and remembered how Kody would lick my left knee while I was lifting weights.  When I looked at her, she seemed to ask, “What are you doing that for?  Wouldn’t it be more fun to play tug of war with me… with your socks?”
But I sat on the bench waiting for some kind of feeling from her;  a lick on the left knee, the sound of her bark, the feel of her paw, pawing me, her playful presence in the room.  
kodyI’m convinced there are many people out there who are going through and have gone through the painful loss of a beloved pet.  So, a friend of mine from Seminary, also named Kristi, and I, have started a grief support group Breathing Space in honor of the pets we have loved and lost in our lives.  After enduring the miserable stages of grief, we want to listen and support others who suffer the same devastating loss – the death of a beloved pet.  Grieving the loss of a pet is just as painful as grieving the loss of a close human family member or friend.  The stages of grief do not always occur in the order we learned in Social Awareness Class. And the stages of grief repeat way more often than we’d like.  There is no timeframe for enduring the painful absence of one who was so intricately woven into our lives. 
Breathing Space meets every 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month at the Downtown Library, Sioux Falls, at 2:00 p.m.  Everyone is welcome.  We acknowledge one another’s journey through grief.  We create a space where we can breathe, mourn, share memories, pictures and stories.
You can contact Breathing Space at 605-999-9361 for more info.

Daisy’s Favorite Getaway

While walking my Basset Hound, Daisy, on her daily walk in our neighborhood, I could sense that she was somewhat bored and uneasy with the surrounding activity of traffic, barking dogs and people working in their yards.
As we finished our walk, I determined it was time for a change of scenery once in a while and I decided to take Daisy to the Outdoor Campus at Sertoma Park. It was there that I discovered the walking trails for myself and my Daisy to enjoy.
The abundance of wildlife smells and sounds gave Daisy an enthusiasm in her walking pace that I hadn’t seen before. As we continued our walk, we met other dog walkers and people jogging. It was a comfort to realize that bicycle riders were not allowed on the walking trails. Daisy can wander from side to side on the six foot wide trail that is very well kept.
On one of our walks, a squirrel ran across the trail in front of us and I’m sure it made the walk that day a lasting memory in her mind. Daisy and I have decided that woodland is our favorite trail and we walk it every time we are there. Daisy responds very enthusiastically every time I grab her leash and I say to her, let’s go in the car. She knows it is probably a trip to the walking trails at the Outdoor Campus.
The Outdoor Campus has a map available of the two miles of trails for you to take with you on your walk. The map will assist you in choosing a trail to walk your dog, on one of the best kept secrets for us dog walkers.
Daisy and I hope to see you at the walking trail someday.
{submitted by Jerry T.}

The Painted Paws Project

Since childhood I’ve been an animal lover and an artist. At a young age I talked of wanting to be a veterinarian and an artist. I went to school for Graphic Communications and later a private college studying Visual Fine Arts.
While I didn’t pursue veterinary medicine I did fulfill professional work in the companion animal industry for more than a decade. I enjoyed the hands-on and administrative work of marketing, fund-raising and public education for two humane societies followed by clinical work as a veterinarian assistant. I owned and operated a successful home based pet care business up until I left South Dakota on military orders for the US Army. Upon my return from active duty, I dove into my passion of painting full-time.
Exhibitions of my abstract collections were thrilling and I was filled with gratitude as my work sold, but I found myself internally auditing my purpose. I donated original works of art to the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society’s annual wine tasting event raising charitable funds during live auctions. I also included fund-raising objectives during dual and solo art shows. Still, something in my vocation was lacking.
I was raised in a multi-dog household and have enjoyed the same in my adult life. In January 2013 I lost my dearest friend, “SnoopyDogg” – my 14 year old yellow lab. A separate ongoing blog of it’s own could be dedicated to the companionship we had but for this purpose it can only be summed up as ‘She was the dog of my lifetime’. My studio work and exhibit participation paused for a while during my sorrow.
Through my heartbroken grief, the first piece of art I did to “get back into it” was an ink pen drawing from an endearing snapshot of me, and her playfully dolled up with a feather boa and silly flower clipped to her ear. It took days, pecking away with little pen strokes through my flooded eyes. Following that was an artistic-stylized portrait of her in oils on canvas. I can’t say as creating her art was healing on account of my state of loss, but I am certain it brings visual beauty in her memory.
As my art-following seen the work of my sweet yellow friend, I received more commissioned requests for pet paintings. The void, that vocational ‘something’ that was lacking – became as clear as a slap in the face: My love of working with people who adore their pets. The over 10 years of interacting with people that embrace and enjoy a close bond with animals. Whether it’s dogs, cats, birds, horses etc. pet owners prioritize the stewardship of their pets, cheerfully exchange stories of pet’s antics and mourn their passing.
In February 2014 I painted the memorial of a mastiff I paired up and adopted out ten years prior. Talk about coming full-circle?! I decided to center the subject nature of my artwork to cater to pet owners. March 2014 I launched an ongoing fund raising campaign called The Painted Paws Project. I donate a portion of every pet portrait to the Sioux Falls Humane Society. This project extends to other animal welfare non profit groups as well with charitable proceeds going to the group that is the referral source.
My wonder of purpose seems to be obvious now. I want to make art that is meaningful and I want my art to contribute to the community. I also want interaction with other animal lovers. I can achieve all of this by making beautiful art of beloved pets for the people who love them, while financially contributing to agencies that care for pets until they find homes. The only thing missing is the petite yellow lab that once rested at my feet on the studio floor. This all is for her, and pets like her.
Tanya Beckman-Claussen,  aka “Tawni”
Visual Fine Artist, Painter
Tawni Art Studios