Flags on the 4th – an album

by Maralyn Fink

On July 4th I drove around St. Johns to see how many flags were displayed. This is what I found with a short trip.

Hope everyone had a safe and Happy 4th.

Snap Fitness St. John’s Member Wins 14th Annual SilverSneakers Award

Sally Miller, 72, of Dewitt, MI won the nationally recognized Swanson Award through SilverSneakers. The Swanson Award honors SilverSneakers members who have improved their lives through a healthy lifestyle that incorporates physical activity while inspiring and motivating others along the way. The award was established in memory of SilverSneakers founder Mary Swanson’s father.

Sally was nominated by her son, Robb Miller, who owns the Snap Fitness St. Johns, MI location. “She doesn’t just work out at Snap Fitness, she befriends everyone she meets,” says Robb. “It’s a fitness family business and she makes it her personal mission to greet new members, send get well cards and organize birthday parties and outside events for her fellow SilverSneakers members. “

Robb says his mother’s energy is contagious and she loves motivating and cheering on those around her. “She loves to talk to members about the SilverSneakers program and listens with a warm heart when members are having life challenges. It’s because of her enthusiasm the SilverSneakers program at our location has continued to grow in members.” He says.

Thousands of votes were cast for the award finalists, and Sally received 37% of the total votes for the national award. “SilverSneakers isn’t just about fitness, it’s about family,” says Sally.

Healthways will be hosting a media event to award Sally on August 21st at the Snap Fitness St. John’s location following the 10 a.m. SilverSneakers class.

A Look Back – Cub Scout Troop 520

by Barry Bauer

Taken in 1972, this photo shows the Cub Scout Troop from East Essex.

That’s Roger Dershem on the left in the back and the guy on the right looks like a Droste. The tall guy in the back is unidentified and appears to be representing the VFW.

Bennie and Jessie’s Pet Info – 4 Heat-Related Risks in Pets You Should Watch Out For

courtesy of Hanie Elfenbein, DVM

Dogs and cats are sensitive to heat and can get very sick, very quickly, if their temperature rises too high. A normal body temperature for dogs and cats is higher than in humans, ranging from 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. As air temperature rises above your pet’s body temperature, it becomes more difficult for them to expel excess heat and heat sickness becomes more likely. When their internal temperature rises above 103 degrees, it can cause signs of illness. Anything above 106 degrees can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.

Here’s a look at some heat-related risks in pets you should watch out for, and advice on how to treat and prevent them.

Skin Fold Pyoderma

Dogs and cats don’t sweat the way humans do. They sweat through their paw pads and expel excess heat by panting. They don’t have sweat glands where they have fur. This means that they don’t get heat rash the way humans do.

Heat rash in humans is caused by clogged sweat glands and irritation, often from tight or non-breathable clothing in hot or humid environments. The rubbing of skin that causes heat rash in humans does have an analogy in dogs with skin folds due to breed type or being overweight. These dogs are at risk for developing a rash and an infection in those skin folds, called skin fold pyoderma, that can be very itchy and uncomfortable.

The best way to treat skin fold pyoderma is with medicated shampoo to get rid of the excess yeast or bacteria. You should also see your veterinarian to determine whether an antibiotic is needed. Your veterinarian will likely recommend wiping the folds with medicated wipes and keeping them dry.

Paw Pad Burns

Walking on hot ground (especially pavement, concrete, or asphalt) can cause severe damage to a dog’s paw pads. If you can’t keep your hand on the surface for at least five seconds without it feeling uncomfortable, it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Choose a path where your dog can walk on the grass or in dirt. Or, purchase protective booties for your dog (they can also be helpful in the cold and snow). If your dog’s paw pads do get burned or become raw, it takes a long time for them to heal. They will likely require frequent bandage changes, which can be time consuming and expensive for you and uncomfortable for your dog.


Playing outside without access to water can cause dogs to become dehydrated. Dehydrated dogs don’t feel well and are at risk for more serious illness. Since we can’t tell our dogs to pre-hydrate, always carry water for your dog and offer it periodically. Freeze a large bottle of water before going out with your dog on a hike or a picnic. As the water melts, you have cold water to offer your dog (and as a bonus, it will keep your lunch cold).

Heat Exhaustion

Panting when playing outside is normal. Difficulty breathing is not. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

– Excessive panting
– Drooling
– Reddened gums
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Mental dullness
– Uncoordinated movement
– Collapse

If you notice any of these signs, start treatment immediately. Wet down your dog with cool water. If you are using a hose, make sure to let any hot water out first before hosing down the dog. Let your dog drink as much as he or she wants to without force. Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency clinic and let them know you are on your way. They will tell you what to do next based on your dog’s symptoms and how far away you are from the clinic.

Risk Factors for Heat-Related Sickness

Dogs are at higher risk from heat exposure because we take them with us on summer adventures. Remember to go at your dog’s pace on a walk or hike, take plenty of water breaks, and encourage rest.

Cats who stay inside can lay in a sunny spot on the floor while being cooled by the air conditioner or a fan. Cats who spend time outside will usually find cool places to rest during the heat of the day. The cats at highest risk from heat are those who don’t have access to clean, fresh water or those who accidentally get locked outside.

Some dog breeds are more at risk for heat-related sickness. This includes short-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs. Other risk factors include old or young age, obesity, or thick coats best adapted to cold climates.

Dogs who are not used to being outside in the heat or humidity are more likely to show signs of heat sickness. Adapt your dog with short playtimes outside in the morning and evening, slowly adding on more time and at hotter parts of the day. Always ensure that your dog has access to shade and drinking water.

Letters – Pointy Sticks and Politics says thanks

(album by Maralyn Fink)

Recently I held my official launch of my campaign to run for Clinton County Commissioner 3rd District representing St. Johns and Bingham Twp.

I would like to thank all of those who attended. I appreciate those that came out to the depot that night in support. I look forward to seeing you again. The volunteers went above and beyond and I am forever grateful for their help. To the many that have donated and offered their services to future events, I am overwhelmed.

For those of you wondering who I am…

My name is Eunice M Link. I am a 4th generation St. Johns resident, an SJHS graduate, a mom, a wife, a friend, a relative, a neighbor and lifelong democrat.

Now I’m running for Clinton County Commissioner.

In the mid-1800’s St. Johns was built by forward thinkers. A village was built that opened opportunity for a community.

Today Clinton County is more diverse than ever. St. Johns and Bingham Township are a community that offers stability and a living past of several generations having lived here. The community offers safe neighborhoods, good education, city parks, nearby activities, 4-H, farms and is near larger cities.

For a community to thrive it needs to recognize the opportunities for growth. It needs diversity, creativity, inclusion and a vision to adjust. We must seize this moment and encourage those with the drive to move us forward.

I recognize these changes and I will represent you.


Eunice M Link

Maralyn’s Pet Corner
– Should You Enroll Your Pet in a Clinical Trial?

Courtesy of Paula Fitzsimmons

Clinical trials provide veterinary researchers with the data they need to develop drugs, procedures and other treatments for our companion animals. Participants may receive access to cutting-edge veterinary care at little or no cost, while contributing to work that can also benefit other animals. Many of these veterinary research studies are non-invasive, and researchers typically enroll animals already afflicted with the disease being studied.

What does a clinical trial entail, and what are the drawbacks and risks? Read on for a deep dive into veterinary clinical trials to determine if they’re right for your furred family member.

What Are Clinical Trials?

Most clinical trials are run at veterinary teaching hospitals where veterinarians and researchers investigate promising treatments or try to improve upon established ones, says Dr. Felix Duerr, an assistant professor of Orthopedics and Small Animal Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins. “We want to find out if a treatment is successful and safe.”

The animals are usually client-owned, and most already have the disease being studied. “For some clinical trials, healthy animals are also needed in order to provide a comparison to animals with a particular disease,” says Dr. Eleanor Hawkins, a professor of Internal Medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh.

Clinical trials run the gamut of veterinary disciplines, from cardiology and neurology to dermatology and nutrition. One of Dr. Duerr’s studies seeks to determine if injecting stem cells into dogs with osteoarthritis is more effective than hyaluronic acid. “The study will answer whether it’s worthwhile for a pet parent to spend more than 10 times as much on stem cells rather than hyaluronic acid, an off-the-shelf product,” says Dr. Duerr.

Researchers run randomized and blinded studies to keep the results unbiased and error-free. “Clinical trials may have a control (comparison) group that is receiving a placebo. The investigator is usually blinded (unaware) of which animal is getting the experimental treatment and which is getting the placebo,” says Dr. Hawkins.

What Are the Benefits of Enrolling Your Pet in a Clinical Trial?

Animals enrolled in clinical trials have access to promising veterinary care treatments and interventions not yet available in the mainstream, and at low or no cost to pet parents.

“For example, a drug or surgical method may not be available outside of the clinical trial, or the cost may be prohibitive. In some clinical trials, more extensive diagnostic testing may be provided without charge, as part of the study,” says Dr. Hawkins, who is board-certified in internal medicine.

Clinical trials can potentially have a positive impact on the health of millions of animals. Some pet parents feel so strongly about contributing that they enroll their healthy pets. “As a healthy animal, the benefit will primarily be to further medical knowledge. Some clients are interested in contributing to the advancement of medicine in general, while others are interested in contributing to knowledge about a specific breed-related problem or disease that has a personal interest to them. In some trials, healthy animals may get benefits such as diagnostic screening without charge,” says Dr. Hawkins.

What Are the Drawbacks of Clinical Trials?

In exchange for access to cutting-edge veterinary care treatments at little or no personal expense, pet parents are obliged to make a time commitment, says Dr. Hawkins. “Often, though not always, there are specific requirements for clients to return to the hospital on a set schedule and/or to complete questionnaires about their pet throughout the study. Often for a study to provide meaningful results, a strict schedule must be followed.” Dr. Duerr’s stem-cell study, for example, spans over a year and requires nine to 12 visits and three procedures requiring sedation.

With any veterinary care procedure, there are safety risks, which Dr. Hawkins says depend on the specific study. “Concerns include adverse effects from a drug or intervention, failure of the drug or intervention to have a beneficial effect, and delay of conventional treatment or intervention.”

Dr. Duerr says problems occur infrequently, but that there are still risks. In his study, “You have to sedate the animal to safely do a joint injection, and anytime you sedate an animal, there’s a little bit of a risk. We are introducing a needle into the joint, so there is a tiny risk of complication from that, such as a joint infection.”

There are measures in place to minimize risks, however, says Dr. Hawkins. “The first is that the principle investigator in a clinical trial carried out in a veterinary teaching hospital is usually a veterinarian who cares deeply about their patients. Importantly, every clinical trial must undergo an independent rigorous review by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The Committee is comprised of faculty, non-faculty professionals and community representatives.”

Experts recommend taking time to thoroughly read the consent form to avoid miscommunication. “Every study involving client-owned animals will also have an informed consent form that has been approved by the IACUC. It is critical that anyone entering their pet in a clinical trial read the consent form carefully,” says Dr. Hawkins.

Are Clinical Trials Stressful for Pets?

Dr. Duerr says that there are misconceptions about what clinical trials entail. In Dr. Duerr’s study, the team uses sensors to determine the amount of pressure the dogs put on each leg and paw. “For example, if there is a dog that has left-sided elbow arthritis, he would put less weight on that leg, which would result in less pressure,” he says. “One of the things we show is how happy the dogs are to be part of this. They know that when we measure how much pressure they’re putting on their paws, they get treats.”

Whether a specific trial is suitable for an animal depends on the trial requirements as well as his health and personality, says Dr. Hawkins. This applies to older dogs, too.

“It might be very appropriate for an older dog to be enrolled in a clinical trial—for instance, a trial testing a drug to control pain for arthritis, or a diet to improve cognitive function. The decision whether to enter a clinical trial should be made in the same way you would make any other medical decision for your pet, with consideration for things such as benefits, risks, expenses, convenience and lifestyle of you, your family and the pet,” explains Dr. Hawkins.

Animals admitted to Dr. Duerr’s trials must fare well around strangers. “Dogs not happy around other people are not great for enrollment.”

What the Process Entails

A clinical trial usually starts with an online survey. “We ask questions like, has your dog been diagnosed with arthritis? Are there any other health issues? and what medications is he on?” says Dr. Duerr. His team reviews the forms and narrows the list down to potential candidates for a study.

The chosen dogs in the stem cell study receive an exam that includes blood work and radiographs to confirm the presence of arthritis and to ensure that there are no other health issues. Pet parents whose dogs pass these preliminary stages are invited to join the study, and given details about the program and a consent form to sign.

Once the terms are agreed upon, Dr. Duerr’s team starts acquiring data on the dogs. This study includes measuring the amount of pressure dogs place on their paws and asking owners about their dog’s daily activities and functional limitations at home.

Within a four-week period, they administer the first treatment. “For this study, two joint injections over a two-week time period and then we measure how much better the dog gets.”

Clinical trials are vital to veterinary research and the development of new veterinary care treatments and drugs that can improve the lives of our beloved animals. Enrolling your pet is a personal decision that depends on his temperament as well as your own level of comfort. As a pet parent, you need to weigh the pros and cons, says Dr. Duerr. “What are the potential side effects versus the potential benefits?”