RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Mike and Terri Wilson’s pet project turns a half-year old on April 19 – a puppy by dog standards, and a bona fide fledgling enterprise in business circles. But how long Dogtopia has been open is of no concern to the self-appointed boss. Tanner, a year-old, 80-pound husky-border collie mix, acts like he runs the place. Indeed, belonging to the owners of a doggie daycare facility has its advantages. Like having a bed to lay on in an office near where furry friends are released to their owners.
“Tanner, come back here – you know you can’t do that,” Mike barked in a half-serious voice as Noah, an Australian shepherd mix, was going home – not that a full-serious voice would have made any difference to the curious canine, one of the younger daytime residents of Dogtopia. Tanner and his more composed 7-year-old brother Boomer, a 90-pound English cream golden retriever, are cute as heck, but furry freeloaders. All employees get comped daycare for their pooches. Of paying guests, about 70 percent are regulars, not unlike daycare facilities for human children.
With dozens of dogs having a ball on any given day, Dogtopia has certainly brought life to 7,455 square feet that had been dead since stores selling furniture and kayaks pulled out. The first Dogtopia franchise in the Sacramento Valley is part of a renaissance for the newly remodeled Nimbus Winery. Over the past year, long-time tenants Tommy T’s and Old Spaghetti Factory have also welcomed Fort Rock Brewery and Red Door Escape Room.
Like a cat entered in a dog show, Dogtopia doesn’t seem to belong in a mall dominated by restaurants and amusement centers, Monster Golf included. But when you think about it – as a dog – it actually makes complete sense. The animals are served food and entertained in an open-play environment. Think Chuck E. Cheese’s for canines, not that the mouse mascot would stand a chance against the anti-rodent instincts of a pack of dogs.
Well, there’s one alpha male at Dogtopia who wouldn’t hurt a mouse, let alone a flea. Milo is the alpha due not to strength – he’s a sweet Shih Tzu – but seniority.
“Milo was Dogtopia’s very first customer,” said Lisa Henslee, a vice president at VSP Global who finds the facility’s location off 50 and Hazel Avenue as ideal between her El Dorado Hills home and Rancho Cordova workplace. “Dogtopia is a great doggie daycare option for my dog and for me. Milo gets to enjoy socializing with other dogs and I get peace of mind knowing that he’s in a safe and fun environment.”
Henslee, a former Gold River resident, made the switch from another daycare facility when she learned Dogtopia has webcams in each of the playrooms.
“I can check in on him, see him playing, and know that he’s having a blast!” she said.
A full day costs $33, $20 for a half day, and prices go down with multiple-day passes and memberships. Other services include dog boarding starting at $47 per night, and “spa” treatments that range from ear cleaning and teeth brushing to a nail trim and bath.
The playrooms are set up like supervised indoor dog parks, complete with a plastic fire hydrant on a patch of artificial grass large enough for dogs to, well, do what they do around real fire hydrants. Each playroom has compressed rubber flooring that promotes safe play and easy clean-up, along with a powerful HVAC system to maintain fresh air. Named “The Beach” and “The City,” each with a theme-supporting motif, the environments are under the watchful care of certified dog handlers, which here are called “canine coaches.” Dogs in each room are separated by size and temperament, and if one gets a bit, too rambunctious, crates are nearby for a well-deserved “time out.” Full-out chaos is rare, according to the Wilsons, thanks to an extensive evaluation process each pooch goes through before being welcomed beyond the free first day.
Fortunately for the Wilsons, their dogs were not among the 5 percent that don’t pass. That would be like the school principal’s kid being expelled. Tanner actually benefits from his brother having doggie daycare experience. After seeing the value of this type of service with Boomer when the Wilsons first got him, the idea of investing in the fastest-growing pet franchise made their decision for Mike to leave corporate America after 30-plus years a little less crazy.
“I was unhappy at my job, and we wanted to do something where we’d have a steady stream of money so we can take elaborate trips when we retire,” said Mike, who before his professional life went to the dogs, was director of planning for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Rancho Cordova. From managed care to pet daycare, one could say. If you like that, how about from white collar to dog collar? No doubt, Mike has heard them all. His wife, not so much. Terri has kept her 9-to-5 job at VSP, where she’s senior vice president and general manager of International Vision Care. On weekends and after hours, she dons the franchisee hat.
Among Dogtopias 13 months and younger, Rancho Cordova’s ranks among the highest in the categories of customer satisfaction and staff retention. In fact, 16 of the original 20 employees are still there as of this printing, led by general manager and Citrus Heights resident Nickole Fiola, who worked previously for Mike when both were at First Health.
Being a top dog within the Phoenix-based company is a tasty treat that the Wilsons don’t take for granted. It’s dog-eat-dog in the growing doggie daycare business, and just a few miles away are Folsom Dog Resort and Waggin’ Tails in Citrus Heights, among other places where the area’s dog-owning population can park their pooch.
“Bringing a high-end daycare and boarding facility to the Sacramento area is one motivator for us,” Terri said. “Another is that we enable more families to experience the joy of dog ownership, just as we did when discovering the value of dog daycare with Boomer.”
Mitchell Rumsey, a student at George Washington Carver High School, has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. This accomplishment represents over six years of adventure, fun, work and dedication to the Boy Scout program for Rumsey, a member of Rancho Cordova’s Troop 363.
During the process of satisfying the requirements for the Eagle rank, Rumsey has performed over 270 hours of community service with his troop and is currently serving as Senior Patrol Leader. Rumsey has completed over 120 nights camping and has earned both the Camping and Conservation National Outdoor Awards.
In addition to the traditional outdoor skills learned in Boy Scouts, Rumsey has 60 merit badges – almost tripling the 21 required for the rank and earning him seven additional Eagle Palms.
Shooting sports, metal work, and whitewater are among his favorite merit badges earned. His Eagle service project was to build custom feeding boxes and breeding boxes for the UC Davis Raptor Center. The University is well known for its veterinarian medicine program, and they are the prominent rehabilitation center for injured and displaced raptors in Northern California. Rumsey’s crew provided much needed custom rehabilitation feeding boxes as well as owl and kestrel breeding boxes.
Rumsey has been selected by local VFW Post 10125 and VFW District 17 as Scout of the Year. He is now qualified and entered at the State level competition in April. Rumsey will be formally presented the Eagle Scout award at a Court of Honor ceremony at the American River Grange #172 on April 28th.
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Soil Born Farms is a local non-profit that produces organic food along the American River Parkway in Rancho Cordova. Soil Born Farms encourages people to participate in the local food system, connect to the environment, and create deeper roots in the community.
On April 6, Soil Born Farms hosted their first Saturday at the Farm event of the season. Visitors explored the farm and purchased fresh produce from the American River Ranch Farmstand. The event featured cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities, and live music by Millington Strings.
Crowds of people from all over the Sacramento region attended the event, enjoying a snack at the café and perusing the gift shop for cookbooks, birdhouses, or handcrafted candles.
Saturday at the Farm also hosted Elderberry Farms’ spring plant sale. Elderberry Farms is a non-profit native plant nursery located at Soil Born Farms but operated entirely by volunteers from California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Their mission is to promote awareness about the benefits of native plant habitat.
Chris Callahan, a volunteer with CNPS Sacramento Valley Chapter, explained that the spring plant sale is their largest sale of the year: “Spring is when a lot of the plants are blooming; things are thriving and really starting to take off. It’s a great time for planting.”
“We found so many wonderful plants for our garden. It’s really wonderful here,” said Nell Suby, as her 3-year-old son Nicholas happily rode in a wagon with all their new plants.
The kids who attended Saturday at the Farm gleefully ran through the Youth Garden to look at the chickens, search the garden for fairies, and discover ladybugs, bees, and butterflies among the many flowers.
“We look forward to welcoming old friends and first-time visitors to enjoy a country experience in the city every Saturday,” said Janet Zeller founder and co-director of Soil Born Farms. Saturday at the Farm will be held weekly through December 14, and Soil Born Farms’ annual family event — A Day on the Farm — will be held on May 19. Visit www.soilborn.org for more details.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) recently announced that General Manager/CEO Henry Li received the first annual Good Governance Award from the Sacramento Taxpayers Association for Outstanding Leadership in Defending Taxpayer Funds.
“Since I began with SacRT three years ago, I have pushed to get the district back on track financially and provide a cleaner and safer environment for our riders,” said GM/CEO Henry Li. “Being recognized with this coveted award is reflective of our efforts to cut our debt and provide the community with better public transit choices.”
SacRT Cost Cutting Initiatives Implemented under Henry Li include: Reducing fare evasion from over 15% three years ago to below 4% today; Lowering fares for the first time in the agency's 47-year history; Implementing business process optimization policies that led to more than $6.5 million annually in cost reductions through debt restructuring and renegotiating vendor contracts; Cutting debt by $45 million and cost avoidance of $75 million in five years; Building up reserves to nearly $20 million; Reformed retirement benefits program and reduced 20% retirement costs by converting a defined benefit plan to a contribution plan for hires dedicated to new services.
SacRT is currently seeking public comment in the Fiscal Year 2020 Operating and Capital Budget. The SacRT Board of Directors is expected to adopt the budget on June 10.
The Good Governance Award was presented during the Sacramento Taxpayers Association annual member meeting on April 15.
Family Activities, Stage Shows and Historical Reenactments Highlight Third California Pioneer History Day
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Before the famed California Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of gold seekers and others to Northern California, there were hundreds of pioneers who paved the way for them to arrive, already having constructed homes and businesses, started farms and even began building cities.
On Saturday, May 4, area residents can learn more about how they lived and their accomplishments during the California Pioneer History Day at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma.
This free family event features historic reenactments and displays, a parade with descendants of early California pioneers, stage shows and musical entertainment, and many activities for families and children, including a cannon that shoots candy, free wagon rides, pioneer games and children’s crafts.
“Few Californians know about the rich early history of our state,” said Michelle Jones of Placerville, who is heading the effort along with Robert and Peni Frew from Auburn. “The California Pioneer History Day will give them the opportunity to discover this inspiring heritage in a fun and interactive way.”
The event will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with the parade at 10 a.m. and an opening ceremony following. This is the third California Pioneer History Day, which is sponsored by the California Pioneer Heritage Foundation and organized by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Sacramento Valley and Sierra foothills. While the event is free, the state parking fee is $8. Food concessions will be available, or attendees can bring their own lunch.
During the Pioneer History Day, three-dozen interactive exhibits and activities organized into two “tent towns” will straddle Highway 49, the main thoroughfare into Coloma. Among the many historical exhibits are:
· The Buffalo Soldiers, an African American Army infantry unit that served in the West.
· The Pony Express, whose Western hub was Sacramento.
· Gold Rush Jewish Communities, highlighting the accomplishments of this minority group during the Gold Rush.
· Demonstrations with a sacred Indian grinding rock.
· Pioneer United Methodist Church, which had its start in Auburn in 1851.
· Chinese Cultural Club, exhibiting the culture and achievements of the many Asian men and women who traveled to the gold fields.
· The Ship Brooklyn exhibit, which recreates the cramped quarters of the Latter-day Saints who sailed in 1846 around Cape Horn to Northern California to escape religious persecution.
· Bear Flag Revolt, celebrating a small group of American settlers who, in 1846, rebelled against the Mexican government and proclaimed California an independent republic.
Tents will also feature many family-friendly activities that will give attendees a taste of pioneer life. These include:
· Brick, rope and candle making.
· Making and playing with pioneer toys.
· Pioneer doll making.
· Biscuit baking.
· Dutch oven cooking.
Among the reenactments will be cannon and musket firing, giving a detailed demonstration of how they were loaded and the safety precautions taken before firing. These will be held at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30.p.m. The Pony Express will also recreate a mail hand-off during those same times, and free wagon rides will be available from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. In addition, there will be historical demonstrations on pioneer medicine, frontier justice, blacksmithing, wood carving, and free old-time photos with pioneer garb will be available.
On the main stage will be crowd-pleasing musical acts as well as old-time stage musical shows.
The Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma features a museum and visitors center, a replica of John Sutter’s sawmill where gold was discovered in 1848, and many other buildings that recreate the town of Coloma during the Gold Rush.
It is located off Highway 49 between Auburn and Placerville; the museum address is 310 Back St., Coloma. For more information, go to www.californiapioneer.com/cphd/ or call the Gold Discovery park museum at (530) 622-3470.
Northern California's Largest 2k/5k Dog Walk & Pet Festival
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento SPCA will host the 26th Anniversary Doggy Dash at William Land Park on Saturday, April 27th from 8:30 am - 2:00 pm.
An estimated 5,000 animal lovers are expected to gather on April 27th at William Land Park both with and without their canine companions to raise funds for animals at the Sacramento SPCA. Participants will enjoy the 2K or 5K walk and are invited to stay for the Bark at the Park Festival, where they can enter their canine pal in the pup show or agility and ice cream eating contest!
In addition, participants can watch canine demonstrations, visit with more than 100 pet-friendly businesses, enjoy the "Watering Bowl" Yappy Hour Beer Garden and some great food from Sacramento's most popular food trucks. And new to this year's event is the Kids Zone, where kids of all ages are invited to enjoy face painting, coloring, bowling and other fun activities.
"The Doggy Dash offers our community the opportunity to have fun with their dog and connects people and animals with rescue groups, pet-friendly businesses and other pet lovers in the area," said Sarah Varanini, Sa PR & Social Media Specialist. "Having a great day outside with your pup while also helping homeless pets is a win-win!"
Now celebrating its 26th anniversary, the Doggy Dash has grown to include more than 5,000 attendees and is Northern California’s largest 2K/5K dog walk and pet festival, with a goal to raise $180,000 in registrations and donations this year to support lifesaving programs and directly help animals in the Sacramento SPCA’s care. Last year alone, donations from the Doggy Dash helped provide low-cost spay and neuter surgeries to more than 18,300 of our community’s animals, vaccinate 16,200 companions and find homes for more than 3,600 pets.
The 26th Annual Doggy Dash will take place at William Land Park, 3800 Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822 on April 27th. Event day registration starts at 8:30AM, the 2K/5K walk at 10:00AM and the Bark at the Park Festival immediately following the walk. To register for the 2K/5K dog walk prior to event day, visit www.sspca.org/dash.
It's at All About Equine’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
RANCHO MURIETA, CA (MPG) - All About Equine Animal Rescue, Inc. (AAE) is holding its sixth annual Boots and Bling fundraising event on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 3:00 pm. The public is invited to participate in event festivities, which include BBQ dinner catered by Blackjack Grill, live and silent auctions, DJ entertainment, and dancing. This year's Boots and Bling event celebrates AAE’s 10th anniversary of horse rescue, while raising funds to support AAE's horses and equine-based programs.
AAE is a volunteer-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has rescued and rehabilitated over 265 horses since 2009; more than 195 horses have been adopted into forever loving homes. AAE has hosted equine-based programs for youth and adults. AAE is honored to be a Platinum level GuideStar nonprofit, and AAE is was awarded Top-Rated Nonprofit in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 by GreatNonprofits.org.
AAE is grateful for the many sponsors that support this important fundraising evening including Horse Expo, JP Equipment Rental, Lees’ Feed & Western Store Shingle Springs, AIG, Camblin Steel Service, A&J Drywall, Faith Episcopal Church, West Coast Equine Foundation, El Dorado Community Foundation, Tailored Tree, InAlliance, and the Fulton Family, the Fawkes Family, the Benoit Family, and the Rothenberg family. Wendy Digiorno, Founder and Executive Director offers, “The fact that industry leaders continue to support this event confirms AAE’s mission and validates the hard work and dedication of our volunteers”.
General admission is $45; and event sponsorships, including tables, are still available. This is a fun and exciting event you do not want to miss. Purchase tickets early; this event sold out in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The event will be held at Western States Horse Expo at the Murieta Equestrian Center. The address is 7200 Lone Pine Drive, Rancho Murieta, CA.
For more information or to purchase tickets please visit www.allaboutequine.org/events All About Equine Animal Rescue, Inc. (AAE) is located in El Dorado Hills, California. AAE’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate horses and other animals, restore them to good health, and find each one a forever home.
Contact: Wendy Digiorno, (916) 520-4223, firstname.lastname@example.org
Works Towards Protecting Children through Education
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and is the fast-growing criminal activity in the world. California has the highest volume of sex trafficking, and the Sacramento region is a hotbed for trafficking in the United States.
The local Rotary District 5180 has undertaken a large-scale campaign to combat the issue of human trafficking in the Sacramento Region.
Rotary members Brian Gladden and Bob Deering (former District Governor) initiated the project more than three years ago. Through their research, they discovered that education is the key to preventing human trafficking. District 5180 raised more than $383,000 in grant funding to educate youth and the general public about the risks of human trafficking.
District 5180 partnered with local non-profit 3Strands Global in a public awareness campaign that reached approximately 78 million people.
Deering spoke at a recent Fair Oaks Rotary meeting to explain just how insidious trafficking is in our area and to update local Rotary members about the project’s progress.
Deering said that traffickers initially contact most victims online and that approximately 65% of the victims come from broken homes. When a stranger online begins showing them love and attention, the children are extremely vulnerable to becoming a trafficking victim.
Deering explained that one of the reasons Sacramento has such high trafficking rates is due to the prevalence of gang activity. He said that trafficking is “quickly becoming the number one revenue producer for gangs.”
While drugs can only be sold once and there are numerous risks in obtaining more to sell, the traffickers view young people as merchandise that can be sold repeatedly.
Because Interstate 5 and Highway 80 both run right through the Sacramento region, traffickers can easily transport victims throughout the state. Deering said that the practice of frequently moving the victims to new locations leaves them in a constant state of confusion because they don’t know where they are or how to find help.
Deering said that the project’s most important component was getting the 3Strands Global educational trainings into local schools. Deering described AB 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act, which was sponsored by 3Strands Global Foundation and signed into law in 2017.
The law requires California public schools to train county leadership, administrators, and educators in how to identify children who have been, or who are at risk of being, exploited — as well as how to proceed when potential victims are identified. The schools must also provide human trafficking prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school as part of sexual health education.
Due to the passage of AB 1227, Deering thought it would be easy to get the 3Strands curriculum into local schools, especially since District 5180 would be paying for it with grant funds. But Deering soon found that navigating the politics of the local school boards was no easy feat.
At many of the schools, Deering said it took months for the local curriculum committees to review and approve the 3Strands training curriculum. He explained that some individuals at the schools didn’t appreciate outsiders coming in and suggesting curriculum improvements and that those individuals believed the schools already knew how to handle the problem.
Deering said they also dealt with one angry parent who mistakenly got the impression that the training targeted students of color. Her frequent complaints that the training was racist made that particular school board initially hesitant to accept the trainings.
But Deering knew just how crucial it was to bring these trainings to the students, especially because the average age of trafficking victims is 12 – 14 years old. So they kept pushing, and now they have educated over 25,000 students and more than 650 teachers.
The trainings are already having a significant impact. Deering said that at each training, at least a few students approach the trainers afterward to say they now recognize they were being groomed for trafficking — or that they are already being trafficked and want help getting out.
Students surveyed after the trainings say that they can define human trafficking, they understand how traffickers recruit victims, they know how to contact the human trafficking hotline, and they know how to protect themselves and others from trafficking.
Deering expressed his thanks to all the clubs in the District for supporting this project. He estimates that the remaining grant money will be spent by the end of the year, so he asked that local clubs consider using some of their funds to sponsor trainings in their neighborhood schools.
“We want to find ways to keep this going even after the initial funding runs out.”
Ready, Set, Shop Traders’ Faire! Event April 26-28
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - To the delight of shoppers and local artisans near and far, California State Parks, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) and Friends of Sutter’s Fort are proud to present a vibrant, high-energy and fun three-day event – Shop Traders’ Faire! – on Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Designed as a maker’s mart and offered just once a year, this lively event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each of the three days and offers a unique shopping bazaar where visitors can purchase a wide variety of locally crafted goods. Visitors to Sutter’s Fort can expect to browse and shop hand-crafted goods from many of the talented local artisans, a sampling of which includes the following:
Basket Tree – jewelry crafted from traditional materials from the Pit River Tribe and more
Beaded Hats by Leanne Snow Bear – traditional Native American beadwork
Bigelow Leathers – handmade leather journals
Biscuits the Blacksmith – hand-forged metal goods
Bubbling Goat Soaps – soaps and lotions
Bull Hat Company – palm leaf hats shaped on-site
Crooked Creek Trader – leather bags, wooden canteen, knifes and more
Debbie’s Novelties – supplies, soap stone, dolls, beadwork, dream catchers, sun catchers, ornaments, abalone work and more
E & D Beads – trade beads, old tools, pottery and beadwork
Hippocampus Forge – metal goods
Indigenous American Art – airbrushed Native American Art prints, Southern Plain style Jewelry and apparel
Native Three Feathers – handmade dolls, necklaces and earrings
Needlin’ Women – fabric, patterns and artwork
Phoenix Obsidian Designs – flint knapped items, stone tools, furs, leather and more
Roquero Gems & Medicine Bags – gems, medicine bags and more
Stone Rose Designs – handcrafted jewelry
Talbott & Co. Heritage Goods – clothing, hats, toiletries and accessories
As background, Sutter’s Fort once served as a thriving commercial center in the early days of the Gold Rush. In fact, it was the only trading center on the way to the gold fields and literally thousands of gold miners passed through the Fort to purchase needed supplies from vendors hawking a variety of goods. Admission to this special Shop Traders’ Faire! event at Sutter’s Fort SHP is $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6 to 17) and is free for children 5 and under (regular admission pricing is $5 per adult, $3 for youth). For more information, call 916-445-4422 or visit www.suttersfort.org.
Proceeds Fund Free Summer Program for Local At-Risk Youth
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Playmakers Organization is a local non-profit that coaches character through leadership and provides free programs to underprivileged and at-risk youth. The Playmakers Organization is hosting their 10th annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, April 27 at Divine Savior Church, 9079 Greenback Lane in Orangevale.
Playmakers founder Greg Roeszler (known as Coach Roz) said the goal of the organization is “to serve extremely at-risk kids and support them in the development of character, academics, sports and recreation — and to create a bond that the kids and their families can depend on.”
Roeszler said the upcoming fundraiser dinner “is a very inspirational evening; it’s very kid-driven.” Roeszler explained that kids who are involved in the Playmakers program speak at the event and “they will bring you to happy tears.” The dinner is an opportunity for the kids “to tell their story.”
The event will honor Playmakers sponsor Harrison Phillips of the Buffalo Bills and will celebrate Playmakers civic group participants — Rotary, Optimists, and Lions. Playmakers will also be welcoming Stanford defensive linemen Michael Williams and Joe Swahn as honored guests. The keynote speaker will be Phil Oates, part-owner of the Sacramento Kings.
Players from the Rio Americano and El Camino football teams will be serving together at the dinner, helping to set up the event and serve food throughout the evening. Their service is part of an effort to reconcile the teams after a brawl last season that forced them to forfeit the final game.
Food will be provided by Chicago Fire, which will be serving pizza, wings, and salads. The event includes a live auction, DJ, and no-host bar.
Proceeds from the event will fund the Playmakers Summer Academy, an all-day program that is completely free for families that can’t afford childcare during the summer months.
Tickets are $40 and are available for purchase at www.theplaymakers.org/tickets.