Meet Our Helping Hands
By Meredith Whatley
Tini Hamilton with her rehabilitated Rossi.
Tini Hamilton has been working with horses for more than 30 years. Her guiding principle is simple: show animals the same kind of behavior you’d like them to show you back. With this in mind, she is calm, patient, and complimentary with even the toughest horses that come to her barn.
Tini’s specialty is equine rehabilitation for both behavioral and physical issues. Owners bring their horses to Tini’s Thistle Dew Stables in South Londonderry for training and to learn the skills to interact and relate with them. Coming from her background in Europe, Tini treats the complete horse and cares for them inside and out. She will modify diets, set thoughtful and specific daily schedules, perform strength training, and work with doctors all over the country to treat and train horses for long-term health of body and mind.
Rossi is Tini’s own horse that came to the 24-acre farm as nonfunctioning. He was angry and his caretakers had given up trying to work with him. When he first arrived, Rossi pulled the nails out of the wall that were holding him tied in the barn and took off running. Through Tini’s methods that focus on rebuilding a horse with emotional issues from the ground up, Rossi is now loving and happy. She has adopted him as her own and he now serves as an example of the wonderful work that happens every day at Thistle Dew.
The process is not easy and it is not overnight. It is one day at a time. It’s methodical and requires a great deal of patience and caring, but with it comes amazing results. Tini and the staff at Thistle Dew put in the work and it means they have become the go-to for people far and wide with horses that need an extra level of care. In addition to training, the 21-stall farm offers boarding and riding lessons for the public. The operation is a labor of love and the horses know it as they give that love right back.
2725 Thompsonburg Rd., South Londonderry
Opened in 1987 in a 750-square-foot space on Depot Street, the owners of Pets Etc., Ann Gavett and Kaki Fisher, have transformed their small pet store operation into a local staple. When the two met in the early 1980s while working for a breeder of Newfoundlands in Rupert, they recognized that with so many dog and animal lovers in the area, there was a need for a pet supply store in Manchester. Having moved to different locations around town throughout the years, they landed in their current building 20 years ago. The larger space now accommodates all of their needs. It houses their supply store, grooming space, and a large room for training classes. On the latter, they previously had to get creative, asking favors and holding classes wherever they could around town, including at the high school.
Along with the physical space, their offerings have also evolved over the years. Ann and Kaki frequently attend conferences and keep up with continuing education, certifications, and the latest in pet care. Now, with the online accessibility to pet products, Pets Etc. has found its way by offering items unique to Vermont and those shoppers may not be able to find at larger box stores.
Over the years, they have also infused the business with their individual passions, adding expertise and distinctions that help make the place so special. With a love that began when Kaki owned her first Labrador in 1974, she now breeds and shows them; her 2013 entry into the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show garnered Best of Breed. She is much in demand for showing dogs and returned to Westminster this year with Jack, a 4-year-old Belgian sheepdog who also won Best of Breed.
Ann gets to know many of the Manchester area’s dog residents through her training classes. Owners often bring in both new puppies for basics and older dogs for refreshers. She recently received a unique certification for dog strength and conditioning training that focuses on a dog’s fitness in order to help them lead healthier and happier lives. For these classes, you’ll see equipment similar to that in a yoga studio–think balance balls!
Now celebrating their 30th anniversary, Pets Etc. is a local shopping destination. It carries the latest products and tried and-true favorites for four-legged animals, two-legged animals, and no-legged animals (check out their aquarium section). Join them for their birthday party at the end of July featuring games, giveaways, contests, and food for both animals and humans.
609 Depot St., Manchester
802-362-5447 or www.petsetcvt.com
Miniature Rescue Horses at Dorset Equine Rescue
Dorset Equine Rescue
Dorset resident Jen Straub was on vacation and during an evening walk with her husband passed by a group trying to wrangle close to 40 wild mini horses that were starving and in need of care. Jen had always owned horses growing up, but hadn’t had one in some time when this incident inspired her to do something. The couple ended up becoming foster parents for two of those mini horses that they named Daisy and Duke.
Flash forward six years and Jen and the staff at Dorset Equine Rescue are fielding several phone calls and emails each week from people all over the East Coast trying to rehome horses in need. The rescue does their best to take in as many animals as they can that come from law enforcement seizures, kill auctions, and private relinquishments.
Dorset Equine Rescue currently operates out of the barn at Jen’s home as well as the barn of Dorset resident Connie Blatchford. In all, they only have space for about 14 animals (including horses, ponies, donkeys, and even goats) and rely on the generosity of the local community to help with elements like transportation, daily feeding and care, and medical bills. Several other DER horses are currently in foster care due to special needs or space restrictions.
Caring volunteers come to the barns multiple times every day to help with the animals before they find their forever homes. Jen and DER are very careful when it comes to finding the right home for the right horse where they will be well cared for, and they often employ a considerable amount of training to ensure an animal is ready to place. Recognizing that the needs of each horse are different depending on a number of factors, they may go on to thrive in environments as a trail horse, jumper, or equine companion.
With such a high demand for equine rescue facilities, Jen is looking toward the future and focused on making Dorset Equine Rescue the best it can be. This includes plans for a dedicated barn in order to consolidate operations. This larger space would allow them to take in more animals and ensure they each get the most consistent training, including making use of an indoor riding ring in the winter.
Dorset Equine Rescue is always looking for volunteers who can commit to helping take care of their animals on a regular basis. Monetary and supply donations are also welcome.
Attend the Dorset Equine Rescue annual Barnyard Ball on July 9, 5-9pm.
802-366-1300 or www.dorsetequinerescue.org
Stella and Mica training with Caroline.
The Grateful Dog
The friendly staff at The Grateful Dog Training & Daycare are true animal lovers and recognize the individuality in each dog’s learning and playing style. Caroline Albert, owner and operator of The Grateful Dog has had a lifelong passion for animals. She began her career training horses, and after exploring the expanded world of animal behavior, graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training and Behavior. The Grateful Dog Training & Daycare facility in Manchester is designed to keep a dog’s brain stimulated and engaged. In addition to daycare, training classes are offered to accommodate both owners and their best friends at all levels. From puppy fundamentals to family dog life skills, trick training, and beginner agility, The Grateful Dog educates both dogs and their owners in a productive and caring environment focused on helping owners and dogs live their best lives together. Private training includes an immersive board and train program, field trips around town, and custom day-training options. It is not unusual to see The Grateful Dog team and their students around Manchester, making stops, and practicing what it means to be “good dogs.” At home, Caroline and her family are still all about animals–whether it is caring for their own menagerie of dogs, cats, and horses or welcoming other best friends for in-home boarding, there is always fun to be had.
204B Manchester Valley Rd., Manchester
802-362-9122 or www.gratefuldogvt.com
Seamus after his grooming session.
Dogs don’t want to miss out on vacation either! Wagmore Kennels is located between Stratton and Bromley ski resorts and is the social place for dogs looking for their own getaway in the snow. In 2012, recognizing a need in the community to serve families on vacation who like to have their best friends close by, Keth Comollo opened the facility at Wagmore. Five years later, they’ve made some great regular friends who visit throughout the year and have been a home away from home to those just passing through. Wagmore provides both daycare and boarding services for many dogs that love to play; it is not unusual to walk in at the end of the day during naptime when everyone is tired out from running around with friends. The team also works their magic with grooming services so many dogs go home happy, healthy, and and with a fresh look.
253 VT Route 30, Winhall
802-856-7522 or www.wagmorekennels.com