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.

The Move to Assisted Living


Senior care

How to know when the time is right

By Susan Baldani

As our parents age, it often becomes clear that instead of them taking care of us, it’s our turn to take care of them. We want to do our best to ensure that in their senior years they are as happy, healthy, comfortable and safe as can be. Unfortunately, this can lead to some uncomfortable conversations and decisions, for both the parents and their adult children.

How do we help them decide that it may be time to leave their homes and move into a senior living facility, a place where their needs can be better monitored and taken care of? Here are some questions to ask and some signs to look for to assist in making that decision.

Home safety:

Is the parent able to remember to lock doors, turn off appliances, such as irons, stoves and ovens? Is the home easily traversed? For example, are there a lot of stairs leading to bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry areas? Also, are they paying their bills on time to make sure their utilities stay on? Answering no to any of these questions can lead to major safety issues.

Increasing physical and medical needs:

Does the parent need help getting out of bed, using the restroom, or bathing? This can lead to both mental and physical stress for the caregiver. Lifting and supporting someone else’s weight can lead to multiple injuries for the caregiver.

Is the parent eating nutritious meals and drinking enough fluids? Are they able to hear smoke alarms or see well enough to make sure they’re taking the right medicine? Are their clothes clean and are they keeping up with grooming? If not, then extra assistance is needed.

Are there worsening medical issues where advanced knowledge is required? For example, does the parent have a lot of medicines to take with complicated time schedules?


According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sundowning refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night.” This can be difficult to handle in the home environment as it’s often accompanied by wandering, which can lead to falls, injuries and even death, and can prevent caregivers from getting the rest that they need. Aggression is another symptom of sundowning which can pose a danger not only for the senior, but for the caretaker as well.

Seniors often notice as well when they’re having a hard time living on their own, but may not want to discuss it for fear of losing their sense of independence. They may also keep quiet because they don’t want to burden their children with their own issues. It’s important to let mom and dad know that you want to be told of any problems they may be experiencing, whether emotionally or physically.

These discussions should be ongoing, since issues can develop quickly. Just because mom or dad is fine one day doesn’t mean that he or she will be okay six months later. If you don’t have an open or positive relationship with your parent, you can have someone else step in as an adviser.

It’s imperative that all the adult children in the family be on the same page, so keep the lines of communication open throughout the family. A sibling who doesn’t see the parent on a day-to-day basis may not realize the extent of any problems.

Depending on the level of care needed, seniors can still enjoy a fair amount of autonomy in an assisted care facility. According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), “Some residences provide only meals, basic housekeeping, and help with the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Others go beyond these services and furnish transportation and certain health services.”

Instead of treating the transition to a senior living facility as a disadvantage, help your parent see it as an opportunity to meet others and have access to new things. With the right planning, moving into an assisted living center can be a smooth and positive experience. And you and your parent will have the peace of mind knowing that they are being cared for in the right environment.

Written for Viva Tysons in Alexandria, VA

Digital Issue

Kids in the Kitchen

Making cooking fun and educational

By Susan Baldani

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, Lynlee Bradley wanted to do something that involved cooking, but was also interested in working with children. So, when she heard about Young Chef’s Academy, she knew she had found the perfect fit.

After working there for two years, she and her husband Austin opened their own location in 2015. Now in Midtown since 2017, where she was born and bred, she feels like her dream has come true.

“Our mission is to teach children the joy and value of cooking,” she says.

Every month there is a theme, and every week a different recipe. Each class is divided into age groups, with kids as young as 3 years old. Besides cooking, they learn cleaning, organization, food and prep safety, math, science and social skills.

Lynlee believes that introducing cooking skills at a young age also helps children develop a sense of healthy nutrition, and finds that they are more likely to eat something they make, even vegetables. Kids who would never eat spinach now love it.

“It’s really nice to be one of the reasons why these kids understand healthy eating,” she says.

And the children learn real cooking skills; it’s not just for fun. One of her former students, 12-year-old Quani Fields, was a runner up on Gordon Ramsay’s Master Chef Junior show on Fox. Another graduate, Tyron Sudler, now works at Barcelona Wine Bar as a chef.

The Academy also hosts school field trips, helps Girl and Boy Scouts earn their cooking badges, and have a cooking camp all summer long. Plus, they offer a Young Chef at Heart program for adults only.

Check out their website at and Facebook and Instagram posts to see what’s coming up. They are always enrolling new students.

Written for Midtown Lifestyle in Atlanta, Georgia.