How to encourage and teach children to have empathy for others


By Susan Baldani

In today’s world, fostering empathy in children is more important than ever. It has a positive impact not only on others, but also on the child demonstrating it as well.

Empathy is the ability to recognize, identify and understand feelings in others. People who are empathic show compassion for others, try to prevent actions that hurt feelings, care for those who are suffering, and also understand how their behaviors affect others, whether positively or negatively.

How do we instill empathy in young hearts and minds? There are actually a variety of strategies that can help parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches and other individuals who are involved with children. Of course, depending on a child’s age, some techniques will be more appropriate than others. However, it’s best to start early. Even very young children can learn to be caring and give comfort.

Model empathy
When your child see and hears you comforting another person, you’re sending an important message to him. He sees how you do it and learns to replicate that behavior. He also witnesses the difference a few kind words and actions can have.

Display and vocalize your own feelings
Some parents try to hide sadness or frustration from children. Tell your children when you’re going through a hard time and explain how they can help you feel better. Even if it’s just by giving you a hug or drawing you a picture, they’ll learn how they can give comfort, which in turn will give them a sense of pride in themselves.

Encourage children to express their feelings and to also ask others how they are feeling
Ask you children about their day and let them know you they can come to you when they’re having a bad day or if they are sad. Encourage them to find out how their friends and family members are doing and to really listen when they respond. Sometimes listening to someone’s problem is all that a person really needs.

Validate your children’s feelings
Children are often scared or worried about things adults may consider trivial. However, they are very important to the child at that time. Tell them you understand how stressful it can be to prepare for a test or how nerve-wracking it can be going away to camp. Instead of saying “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” ask “Why are you worried? Let’s talk about and maybe I can help.”

“Sometimes when our child is sad, angry, or disappointed, we rush to try and fix it right away, to make the feelings go away because we want to protect him from any pain. However, these feelings are part of life and ones that children need to learn to cope with. In fact, labeling and validating difficult feelings actually helps children learn to handle them,” said Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parlakian, authors of the article “How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy.”

Other times, children get angry because they can’t do something. Parents can say, “I can see you’re upset that you can’t watch television right now, and I know you’re disappointed, but it’s time to go to bed.” While they still aren’t getting their way, their feelings are acknowledged.

Teach empathy through stories
Dr. Michele Borba, an internationally recognized expert and author on children, teens, parenting, bullying, and moral development, said, “The right book can stir a child’s empathy better than any lesson or lecture ever could. And the right book matched with the right child can be the gateway to opening his heart to humanity.” Also, tell your child stories from your own childhood and let her hear how you demonstrated empathy to others in their times of need.

Role play and show children how they can empathize with others
Because of their limited vocabulary and experiences, children may have a hard time showing their concern for others. Come up with situations where your child can practice using comforting words phrases such as “I’m sorry you’re sad. Can I help?,” or “Can I sit with you until you feel better?” Sometimes kids don’t realize what they say or do can hurt others.

For example, if your daughter’s friend wants to play with her at recess but she would rather play alone, how would she tell her friend in a kind way? Or, if your son doesn’t want his best friend to stay over one night, how would he handle it so as not to hurt his friend’s feelings?

It’s also very important to teach children how to say “I’m sorry.” Let them know that they won’t always be perfect and may still hurt someone’s feelings, but a sincere apology helps others know that they regret their behavior. The key word here is “sincere.”

Point out uncaring behavior
Dr. Borba suggests four steps to help kids respond more empathically with “CARE”: 1) Call attention to uncaring behavior; 2) Assess how uncaring affects others, helping kids to understand another’s perspective; 3) Repair the hurt and make amends; and 4) Express disappointment for uncaring behavior, while stressing expectations for caring behavior in the future.

Limit internet and phone time
Many kids, especially those in the preteen and teen years, may lose personal communication skills if they spend too much time with peers online or texting instead of having face-to-face contact. The other danger of social media is that people say things online that they would never say to someone in person. Explain how the same rules of respect and courtesy apply whether the person is in front of them, on the phone, or on the internet.

Every child is different, and some will develop empathy easier and faster than others. Be patient and continue to help them become empathetic individuals who care about their fellow classmates, friends, parents, siblings and others they come across in their day-to-day worlds.

Written for Roanoke Valley Family Magazine in Virginia.

Halloween Safety Tips from the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad


By Susan Baldani

Halloween is fun for all ages, but especially for children. What other day will people give them free candy just for saying Trick or Treat?

It’s also great watching all the ghosts, superheroes, witches and devils walking throughout the neighborhood. But on this day, just like any other, safety comes first.

Trick or treat while it’s still light out
Since it gets dark fairly early in the fall, right after school is prime time for trick or treating. The temperature is milder than it is at night, and there is still over an hour of sunlight left.

Don’t wear masks that block vision or hearing
It’s important for children to be able to see their surroundings and hear what’s happening around them. Many masks make that hard to do. Using makeup and other props like fake mustaches or noses are a safer way to let a child transform into someone or something else.

Never trick or treat alone
Make sure all children are accompanied by an adult. Even older kids need someone with them when knocking on strangers’ doors.

Stay on sidewalks; do not walk in the street
We often see groups of costumed kids walking in the streets. Just because it’s Halloween and kids are in a group doesn’t mean that it’s safe to do so. Drivers may be distracted and not see anyone until it’s too late to stop.

Look both ways before crossing the street
Kids have a tendency to run across the street when they see someone on the other side handing out candy. The same rules apply as they do on any other day. Remind them to look both ways and depending on their ages, have them cross with an adult.

Carry light sticks, or wear LED bracelets or necklaces, especially if wearing dark costumes
Once it gets dark, keep children safe by making them easily visible to drivers and bicyclists. With leaves on the roads at this time of year, it may take longer to stop.

As usual, all treats needs to be checked before eating
It’s very tempting to sample some of the goodies right away, but make sure children do not eat anything until it has been looked over by an adult.

Halloween is fun for all ages!


By Susan Baldani

Boo! Halloween is almost here. Ghosts, goblins, vampires and werewolves will be roaming the streets after dark. Jack-o’-lanterns will flicker on porches, as leaves are rustled and the scent of firewood wafts through the air. Doorbells will ring, and shouts of “Trick or Treat” will resound throughout neighborhoods.

I have such wonderful memories of celebrating Halloween as a child. Instead of store-bought costumes, my siblings and I mostly wore homemade costumes made by Mom or Grandma. These could be simple, such as a white sheet with holes cut out for the eyes. Instant ghost! Or a black leotard and tights, cat ears and drawn on whiskers. Meow!

Others though were pretty elaborate, such as my witch outfit. My mom painted my face green, put a long black wig on my head and long black dress on my body, and sent me to school for the Halloween parade. I was sure I was going to win for best costume.

Well, I never got to march in the parade. I was so scary that kids started crying when I walked into the classroom. The teacher made me take off the wig and wash off the makeup.

So much for getting the winning trophy. However, my mom redid it all when I got home so I could scare all the neighbors and get extra candy for my amazing costume.

These homemade costumes were always my favorite because no one ever had the same exact one. Every year, we would come up with something different and had great fun taking old ties and ripped shirts to make ourselves into hobos, or dressing all in red and putting on some devil’s horns. The ideas were endless.

Today, I love seeing all the kids out trick-or-treating in their costumes, whether store-bought or homemade. It’s a time for them to be whatever they want for one day; whether a princess, a superhero, or a dinosaur. And, getting free candy always brings out the smiles.

Also, many of my adult friends have Halloween parties and encourage their guests to dress up. After all, who doesn’t want to be a kid again, even for just a few hours? To laugh, play, and have fun; these are things we should always make time for in our busy lives.

So have a Happy Halloween, and don’t eat too much candy!

Written for The Country Register newspaper distributed throughout the US and Canada.

Be involved in your children’s education and watch them blossom

By Susan Baldani

Children are expected to be fully engaged in their education. One way parents can ensure this is happening is to lead by example.

According to the National Educational Association (NEA), “Research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and restores parents’ confidence in their children’s education. Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.”

So, what exactly does this mean? What can parents and guardians do to show they are invested in their children’s academic success? Here are some ideas:

• Form relationships with your child’s teacher.
Keep the lines of communication open and let the teacher know you are available. Volunteer for opportunities such as classroom helper, fundraising, and extracurricular activities.

• Attend back-to-school nights.
Show your child and his teacher that you are interested in what he and his classmates are working on and how the classroom is set up.

• Get involved in what your child is learning.
If the class is learning about fossils, take your child to a museum where she can view them and learn even more. Or, if she is learning about animals, go to a zoo where she can see, hear, and possibly touch them. Bring classroom lessons into real-world experiences to make them more meaningful. Every day, ask your child what his favorite new thing was that he learned that day and why.

• Set goals with your child.
If your child is struggling with a subject, such as reading or writing, come up with a set amount of time where you can both work on that skill together. Or, if you can’t do it, hire another student or private tutor.

• Use the school’s technology to your advantage.
Most schools have portals where you can see assignments and make sure your child is getting everything done. You may also be able to see grades and report cards. Keep track so you can note any difficulties before they become too severe.

• Attend school plays, sports, and other special events your child is involved with.
Support your child’s extracurricular activities and be there to cheer when she’s winning and to offer comfort when she’s losing. Show your support by rehearsing lines with your child or practicing hitting a ball.

• Advocate for better educational materials or courses.
If your school is struggling to buy certain materials, get together with other parents to find ways to raise money or get donations to fill any gaps. Teachers often use their own money to buy basic necessities. Ask them to make a list of items that are in short supply.

• Continue to be involved even as your children get older and more independent.
Older children need and want their parents to be involved in their education, too, even if they won’t admit it. “The U.S. Department of Education reports that the rate of parent involvement drops to 55 percent by the time children reach age 14, and it continues to drop as children progress through high school.”

In the article “The Enduring Importance of Parental Involvement,” by Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, and Otha Thornton, president of the National Parent Teacher Association, they mention that “[t]he most significant type of involvement is what parents do at home. By monitoring, supporting and advocating, parents can be engaged in ways that ensure that their children have every opportunity for success.”

All of this involvement takes time. What is a parent to do if he or she works full-time or has other demanding responsibilities?

One solution is sharing the load. Mom can go to back-to-school night and Dad can go on the next field trip. Grandparents can also help by attending school plays or the next football game, and aunts and uncles can help with homework. Engage the whole family in your child’s education.

If family is not close by, ask best friends and good neighbors to pick up some of the slack. Children want to know that people are interested in what they’re doing, and if it can’t be Mom and Dad, other people they know can sometimes fill in.

Explain to your child why you can’t be there — for example, if you will be away on a business trip — and help them understand that as they have a responsibility to their education and teachers, you also have a responsibility to your job and your boss. Make it clear that you will be there when you can, and you will miss seeing them in their play or competition. If possible, ask the person attending if they can record at least some of it so you can share it with your child at a later time.

Of course, schools also have to encourage parental involvement and present opportunities for interaction between parents, teachers, and administrators. Everyone in the educational community has to be on board and recognize that a team effort will offer the best solution for creating a positive and open learning environment for students.

“Schools must do their part to encourage parent involvement in education. Key activities include making parents feel welcome at school, involving parents in decision-making, and implementing programs to provide information about parenting skills and community resources,” said Linda Hinkle, a writer and educator who spent 29 years teaching mathematics in public high schools.

If you feel the need to do even more, consider joining the PTA (Parent Teacher Association), which provides programs on strengthening family-school partnerships, or run for a spot on your local Board of Education. Both of these will give you the opportunity to gain more insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of your town’s educational community. The more understanding parents have of the educational process, the more they can help their children achieve academic success.

Written for Roanoke Valley Family Magazine, in Roanoke, Virginia.

Vinings Gallery by Denard

serenade by Denard Stalling

Art that tells a story

By Susan Baldani

After graduating from the Columbus College of Art and Design, Denard Stalling moved to Atlanta in 1989 and started working at a gallery. There, he met Gary Handler. He had no idea that 10 years later they would be opening their own gallery together.

Today, Vinings Gallery has three locations – two in Roswell and the framing operations in Vinings, where Stallings’ studio is also located. He recalls when they first set out to find a location. They chose the nicest building in an up-and-coming area that they felt had the potential for strong growth. Today, Vinings is a neighborhood brimming with energy from the numerous restaurants, boutiques, and galleries.

“People love coming to the area and hanging out,” says Stalling.

When people visit the galleries, he doesn’t want them to feel like they’re in a museum. “We have a totally different vibe; we want you to have a great experience when you come in. Our sales staff is also very friendly.”

The galleries have been carrying Thomas Arvid’s realistic wine compositions for almost 20 years. “We represent great artists and wine is a big backdrop to what we do,” says Stalling.

Another featured artist is Simon Kenevan. They’ve been selling his seascapes for four years and he’s one of their top selling artists.

Each gallery in Roswell has a different flavor. The Elizabeth Way location has many original and limited editions, whereas the Canton Street gallery is more upbeat and where buyers can find top artists who they’ve been carrying for years.

“We’re a decorative art market. We make beautiful images. But, there is some investment potential with the original and limited edition art as well,” says Stalling.

Stalling’s art is well-represented and he will be holding his own show this fall. An illustrator and saxophone player, he is now focused on musical compositions.

“Within that illustration I try to tell a story so it’s not just a still life. There’s some movement,” says Stalling. “I combine my love of music and the appreciation for the styling of the instruments and combine that with a pretty realistic technique.”

To learn more about the galleries and artists, go to

Written for Smyrna Vinings Lifestyle magazine in Smyrna-Vinings, Georgia.

Spotlight on Aladdin Cleaners

Pic one

By Susan Baldani

Located in the Village Shopping Center in New Providence, Aladdin Cleaners has been in business since 1982 and offers much more than just dry cleaning. Don Kim, who has been the owner for the last three years, ensures the best service for all his customers. That’s why their slogan is “Where Quality Makes the Difference.”

Don came to America from South Korea 28 years ago and has been in the dry cleaning business for over 20 years. His first store, Spring Cleaners in Millburn, is now managed by his wife Eunice.

All work at Aladdin is done on the premises and their services include laundering and dry cleaning items such as shirts, draperies, comforters and wedding gowns. They are also experts in tailoring and alterations. If the straps on your sundress need to be shortened or your pants mended, they can do it.

Aladdin Cleaners also provides quick service. Bring in something for cleaning by 11:00 in the morning and they can have it ready for you by 4:00 that same day, and for no extra charge.

They will even pick up and drop off your clothing as well for no additional charge. “We go to New Providence, Summit, Chatham and Berkeley Heights,” said Don.

People are often confused as to what should be dry cleaned and what should be laundered. Silk and wool are pretty easy, because those fabrics almost always need to be dry cleaned. The same goes for anything with lace or pearls and beads, like a fancy gown, and anything made from leather.

For other items, look at the label and especially heed the “Dry Clean Only,” instructions. However, what if it doesn’t say or the tag was ripped off or the print is illegible? Aladdin Cleaners will know how to handle your clothing so no damage is done.

Experimenting at home is never a good idea. Putting an item into a washer may change its shape and finishing it up in a dryer may lead to severe shrinkage.

One thing that makes Aladdin Cleaners stand out from other dry cleaners is that they use only natural dry cleaning ingredients, which Don stressed is rare.

“I don’t think anyone uses natural chemicals around here,” he said.

Don bought the store from the original owner, who had been there for 37 years, so Aladdin Cleaners is well known in the area. Due to the quality of their service, they have a lot of repeat customers, many of whom have been coming in for years.

“The Cleaner’s Association [of NJ] named us best cleaners every year since I have been here,” said Don.

Aladdin Cleaners is located at 1260 Springfield Avenue in New Providence and is open every day except Sundays. They are there from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays. For more information, give them a call at 908-665-1343 or visit their store.

Written for The Showcase Magazine in Warren, New Jersey.

The differences between men’s and women’s fashion

Pic one

By Susan Baldani

I’m often jealous when buying clothes for my husband, especially pants. All I have to know is his waist size and inseam, and voila, perfect fit!

I wish it were that easy for women. It’s not enough to know your size, since every designer seems to have his or her own idea of how big or small that size actually is. And length is another tricky situation. I’m 5’4”, which is considered “average” in the U.S., but when buying pants, sometimes average is too long and short fits just right. What on earth do truly short people do?

This is why when trying on clothes I have to bring at least three sizes into the fitting room. It’s a frustrating experience, and buying clothes online is almost impossible. It usually involves shipping items back because they don’t fit.

Shirts and blouses are sometimes a little easier, because if they’re a little too big or a little too small, they can still look okay. But again, when in the fitting room, I usually have at least two sizes of each to try on.

Speaking of shirts, have you ever noticed that men’s shirts have buttons on the right side, while women’s have buttons on the left? Why is this?

Well, it turns out that this fashion orientation dates back to over a century ago. According to the article, “Here’s why men’s and women’s shirts button on the opposite sides,” on, “The reason is historical,” says Melanie M. Moore, founder of women’s blouse brand Elizabeth & Clarke. “When buttons were invented in the 13th century they were, like most new technology, very expensive,” she says. “Wealthy women back then did not dress themselves — their lady’s maid did. Since most people were right-handed, this made it easier for someone standing across from you to button your dress.”

Most men, on the other hand, dressed themselves. However, the article goes on to state, “there are a few competing theories as to why buttons are on the right side.”

‘I think it’s important to question which time period we’re talking about, since shirt and jacket buttons are a relatively new phenomenon,” notes Chloe Chapin, fashion historian and Harvard University Ph.D. candidate in American studies. “But as a general rule, many elements of men’s fashion can be traced back to the military.”

Once again, the right-handed assumption played a role since “access to a weapon … practically trumped everything,” she says, noting that a firearm tucked inside a shirt would be easier to reach from the dominant side.

Well, you learn something new every day. Now, if only clothes designers could learn how to make women’s fashion sizes consistent, we would have a better idea as to what size we actually wear.

Written for The Country Register published across the U.S. and Canada.

Spotlight on Zita’s Homemade Ice Cream


By Susan Baldani

Zita’s Homemade Ice Cream, located in New Providence since 2000, is a family owned and run business. Started by Peter Elefante’s father Robert and his Uncle Al, the shop is named after his grandmother.

Peter, who grew up in New Providence, took over in 2004 and now owns the business. His sister, Kathleen Anderson, helps manage the shop and makes ice cream. “She has been working here since she was 13 years old. She knows pretty much everything I know,” said Peter.

All their ice cream is made on-site, and Zita’s has won a number of awards for their flavors. One of the biggest sellers is their signature flavor named 91716. Bursting with chocolate covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, caramel, chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream, it’s easy to see why. Another popular flavor is Kong, made with banana ice cream, caramel, chocolate chips and pecans.

“We have all the traditional toppings like maraschino cherries, wet and dry walnuts, a black cherry topping we get from Italy, which is fantastic, fresh pineapple and strawberry toppings, fudge, caramel, M&Ms, gummy bears, sprinkles, peanut butter cups and more,” said Peter. “There is something for everyone when it comes to toppings and most of the old school stuff too like the pineapple,”

Cakes are also a big part of their business. They usually have the traditional chocolate and vanilla with chocolate crunch in the middle in stock, but they are so popular that there have been times that they’ve run out of them.

“We sometimes cannot make enough,” said Peter.

Custom-made cakes can now be ordered online and can be any combination of flavors. They also do custom edible images and everyday popular images. “So if you want Mickey on your cake or a picture of your grandparent, we can do it,” said Peter.

Besides traditional soft serve and hard ice cream, they also sell ice cream cupcakes; they look just like cupcakes with sprinkles, but are made entirely of ice cream. They have also brought back their chocolate chip sandwiches. They have been such a hit that they had to hire someone just to make these every day. “We sell hundreds of them and can barely keep them stocked,” he said.

“We also started selling freshly baked Belgian waffles in the shop and they are so good you can eat them plain,” said Peter. “But we make waffle sundaes with them.”

Peter also gives his employees a lot of credit for their success. Even when the shop is busy and the lines are out the door, they provide high-quality customer service.

“We want to make sure everyone leaves here with a smile on their face, and they do a really great job of doing that,” said Peter.

Zita’s Homemade Ice Cream is open all year round. In December, they also sell Christmas trees in the back lot and have been doing that before Zita’s was even there.

Written for The Showcase Magazine in Warren, New Jersey.

Preparing for the SAT


Helping your teen achieve academic success

By Susan Baldani

Getting a good education is often the precursor to a successful career. Parents want to ensure that their children have the best preparation for life after high school graduation. For many, this often means an advanced degree. However, getting into their top choice college can be difficult.

One important factor is the SAT score. Most universities use it as a guideline for how academically successful a potential student may be in their institution.

There are no quick and easy shortcuts that will lead to getting a high score on the SAT. But, there are things that parents and teens can do to make sure they are ready when test time arrives.

Since the SAT measures years of knowledge, it’s important to prepare for the test in not only the months leading up to it, but in the years beforehand as well.

Make sure your teen is living up to his or her potential by taking course that are at the right level and challenging. It’s better for your child to get a B in a course where he or she is really learning the material rather than getting an A and not getting much out of it. If your child has had a solid foundation of education, he or she will have a much easier time answering the questions correctly on the test.

“Encourage your child to take academically rigorous classes in high school. The SAT is designed to test students on the topics they’re expected to learn through regular instruction in school. The more your child masters her fundamental coursework, the better prepared she will be for college admissions tests,” says Sarah-Jane Lorenzo, an education policy researcher with expertise in college and career pathways.

Encourage your child to read. Whether it’s the latest best seller or a classic literary novel, reading can increase knowledge of a subject as well as vocabulary and speed. Since the SAT is timed, the faster students can grasp the meaning of what they are reading, the faster they can move through the test.

Have your child take the PSAT so they will know what to expect and how the questions are structured. Also, give them access to a good test prep book. Test taking is a skill on its own and while the child may know the subject, he or she may not know how to interpret the questions or directions.

If you feel your child needs more help, look into a test prep group course, or if finances permit, a one-on-one tutor, especially if help is needed in certain areas. For instance, your daughter may be a whiz at math, but struggles with reading comprehension.

“You can also check to see if there are any free test prep classes or proctored practice tests in your community. Many libraries, universities, community colleges, and high schools offer free or inexpensive test prep programs. You can learn about local opportunities from your student’s high school guidance counselor or at the local library,” says Lorenzo.

Schedule the test for a day when you know the child will be well rested and relaxed. For example, if you have a big family event the day before or if your teen is going to the prom, make sure the test date isn’t the next day. Being tired makes it hard to concentrate and organize thoughts.

On the day of the test, take some steps to ensure the best possible outcome.

– Make sure they are up early. You don’t want them rushing around to make it on time. This can lead to frustration and anxiety before the test even starts.

– Encourage them to eat a healthy breakfast to fortify their bodies and minds.

– Make sure they dress comfortably and in layers. Being too hot or too cold can be distracting and lead to less focused thinking.

– Give them confidence by reminding them of everything they have done to prepare for the test.

Give teens the right guidance to achieve success on the SAT. Being well prepared will start them off in the right direction towards their academic futures.

Written for Viva Tysons in Alexandria, VA

Digital Issue

For the love of animals


By Susan Baldani

Pet Spa at Vinings has been in the business of caring for animals for 15 years. Located in Smyrna, the spa offers grooming, daycare and boarding services for dogs and cats.

“Its dogs’ home away from home,” says on-site co-owner Tina Lange.

In addition to the original location, they’ve recently expanded and have a new boarding and daycare facility two doors down. The original location will continue to handle all grooming services and will also include a grooming school.

Unlike at some other facilities, all of the groomers at Pet Spa at Vinings are certified by the International Grooming Association, Inc., which is focused on educating, certifying and accrediting professional pet groomers and caretakers.

Pet owners should have their pets groomed for many reasons, Tina says. When an animal’s coat gets matted, it can lead to skin irritation, skin damage and discomfort. Regular brushing is often not enough to prevent these issues.

Tina, along with Dr. Michael Good, a veterinarian in Atlanta who is also the co-owner of Pet Spa at Vinings, ensures that the pets are happy and healthy. If a pet falls ill, they make sure he or she receives medical care right away.

When the dogs are there for boarding or daycare, they go outside to play and to get fresh air. When they come back in, they are treated to aromatherapy and sound therapy to help them relax.

“Dogs love coming to the spa,” Tina says. “They run in and see us and are so happy to be here.”

Tina hires people she knows well and trusts and who have experience in the business. Her daughters, Cheyenne and Savannah, also help out in the spa.

“We’re not in it for the money; it’s about love. I think that’s why pets want to come here,” she says.

Tina is a huge animal lover and helps her partner, Dr. Good, with his Homeless Pets Foundation based in Marietta. With the help of his Underhound Railroad, more than 30,000 pets have found homes since its inception in 1998. The animals come from hoarding situations, over-breeders, dog-fighting rings, overcrowded shelters and puppy mills from not only Georgia but from other states as well. Dr. Good has even picked them up off the streets.

If the animals are not healthy when they arrive, his first priority is getting them well. Tina then helps them get socialized so they can be adopted. If necessary, obedience trainers may also work with them.

When the animals are ready for adoption, they are transported all over the U.S. Some were recently sent to Maine to live in their forever homes.

For more information about this organization, visit Listen to Dr. Michael Good every week on 101.5 KICKS.

For more information about Pet Spa at Vinings or to make an appointment for your dog or cat, call 770.436.2575 or visit

Written for Smyrna Vinings Lifestyle Magazine in Vinings, GA.