Mary’s love of dogs began like most of us, with her first family dog. While growing up in North Carolina, her dad brought home a puppy when she was around 7 or 8 years old. A black Cocker Spaniel mix who was such a sweet girl, she was named Candy.
Raised as a typical dog in North Carolina during that time, Candy was fed leftovers, lived outside, never went to the vet, never spayed, and even had a few litters. Mary found herself spending every moment outside with Candy that she could. They talked, played and soon became the best of friends. Mary’s love for the outdoors and nature grew with every moment. Her love of gardening and harvesting were developed with Candy by her side while working with Mary’s dad in the garden. A few years later, one of Candy’s puppies, Roni, and a hound mix - Gilligan, were added to the family. Gilligan would always jump the fence and run – requiring Mary to go out looking for him. One day he got out, and was never found. But Candy and Roni lived to the old age of around 15.
As a young adult Mary moved from North Carolina to Florida. Mary married her first husband, and dogs were not allowed. So Mary found herself taking in feral cats hoping to find one that wanted to be a house cat. That's when Buddy came into her life. He was a long hair domestic cat & loved being held & did not mind her children handling him, and became Mary’s oldest son’s first pet, eventually going to live with him.
A few years after a divorce, Mary met her second husband and they both fell in love with two malamute/labrador mix puppies her sister's dog had, Blackie and Rocky. But that was not all, a female puppy from that litter never found a home, and they decided Mary’s home would have three siblings. Diamond joined the clan.
Some years later they moved from Florida to Chicago with the three dogs. Within two years after moving to the Midwest, Rocky was diagnosed with a small walnut sized tumor in his abdomen. Following quickly, Diamond was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. Rocky's tumor grew quickly to the size of a large grapefruit in just a few months and sadly they had to say their goodbyes to 10 year old Rocky. Within two months following the loss of Rocky, Blackie suffered internal bleeding and was diagnosed with the same type of tumor, which had ruptured. Once again they were saying their final goodbyes. As dogs often do, Diamond was mourning the loss of her brothers and two months following Blackie’s death, they were once again saying their final goodbyes. The loss of her three puppies within six months left Mary with an emptiness and void - but also a desire to uncover how this could have happened. A busy mom to a 3 year old, a full-time college student, and a wife – Mary’s passion to help other dog owners and hopefully prevent them from this kind of tragedy was ignited!
Then, Penny came into her life.
With the loss of my three dogs in a short amount of time, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was what they were being fed. All of my dogs were fed kibble from a large grocery store chain. My passion to find a healthier way to raise my dogs, and to help others grew.
Cathy is a registered nurse, specializing in oncology and Hospice. She works for one of the larger Insurance companies as an oncology consultant. She is also trained in Reiki and Animal Communication.
She is married to Robert and has no children, however they share their home in Earlville, IL, with a number of rescued Brittanys and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, as well as 2 Kitties. "I have never known a time in my life that a dog was not in it!"
She has spent the last 17 years dedicating her life to animal rescue, especially the Brittany and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a few English Springers and American Cockers thrown in. She has held several positions in rescue from volunteer, foster, transporter, financial supporter, State Coordinator to a Board position of Rescue Coordinator. She has fostered over 200 pups and prides herself on taking the neediest of souls and rehabilitating them via nutritional and emotional support in order to get them ready for their forever homes.
She has been feeding raw for several years and has witnessed nothing but positive change in not only her personal dogs but also in her fosters.
One dog, in particular, Louie, a Brittany/Setter mix came to us in dire need, emaciated, virtually hairless, skin flaming red. He was diagnosed with 3 separate cancers including melanoma, hemangiosarcoma, and lymphoma as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He barely ate as it was, and then simply one day stopped eating kibble. This is when I met Mary, 'try raw' she said…”raw” I said “as in not cooked raw”…and so it began. From the very first meal Louie ate with vigor! Louie, who was not expected to live more than a few months, lived an extra 4 years, until he was 15 y/o! He also was sporting the most beautiful long, silky Setter coat and pink skin! I believe it is only because Louie was fed a raw, species appropriate diet that he was able to live the life he was meant to have!
Nancy is the head of a contract department for a major independent hotel group. She is currently pursuing her law degree (at the age of 45+) at DePaul University, Chicago Illinois.
Nancy's history with animals began at a very young age. Her parents bred Doberman Pinschers and Nancy was a Jr. Handler in the AKC breed ring for many breeds, including dobes, Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Akitas. She was bit by the equine bug at the young age of seven, and spent the rest of her life, riding, learning, competing, owning, and training various breeds of horses. She did an internship at Adam's Arabians, and competed mostly in Dressage. Her heart dog was an Australian Cattle Dog named Askim who she lost in 2012 at the age of 16.
Nancy's household always had a minimum of two dogs, and one of those was usually a senior doberman rescue. Nancy fostered many dobermans through Illinois Doberman Rescue +, as well as adopted several seniors - giving the dogs age 7+ the ability to live out their twilight years in a loving environment.
Then she met her husband... a German Shepherd guy. They don't shed he said... ;) All of a sudden her pack grew from two senior dobes to two senior dobes and 1 puppy German Shepherd. Today, Nancy's home and kennels are filled with no less than three German Shepherds - most likely who are competing in IPO, or working on Search and Rescue certification. Nancy is a successful competitor at a regional level, and hopefully soon at a national level in the sport of IPO with her German Shepherd, Karma, and with her up-and-coming young female shepherd, Nora.
My first German Shepherd was an eye opener and a learning experience. Drago, a male working line puppy with Czech Repulic lines, developed a growing disorder from over-vaccination and improper calcium:phosporus levels. Having him hospitalized and on the edge of euthanasia - suffering from multiple growth plate fractures (H.O.D. syndrome) - I was desperate to save his life against all odds. My 4 month old puppy was dying and I was helpless. Through a friend I was sent Mary's way.
Her immediate response and concern touched my heart. She put him on a special raw diet, provided us with essential oils (for both of us!) and was with us every step of the way! Drago is now a 4 year old healthy and happy boy training in SAR, and Mary still accompanies us (and my competition dog) to the vet! Raw saved Drago's life - I'm sure of it.