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Pet expo offers services, fun for animals, owners

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007

Suzanne Fisher says everyone has the capacity for communicating with animals.

"It's just not developed in all of us," says the Aylett, Va. woman. That's not the case for Suzanne and her husband, Chuck, who say their ability to talk and listen to pets is a gift they use to help animals and their owners.

"I've heard so many people say, 'I'd like to know what my pet is thinking,'" says Suzanne Fisher. As a pet communicator, she tries to help families whose pets are having physical or behavioral problems.

The Fishers will show pet owners how to access their own ability to connect with their dogs and cats during their seminars, titled "The Basics of Animal Communication," at the fourth annual Pittsburgh Pet Expo. The two-day exhibition invites pet owners and their animals to check out new pet products and services and spend some quality time together.

Although she works primarily with cats, Suzanne Fisher says she has spoken with dogs, raccoons and other creatures.

At a cat show in Charlotte, N.C., a few years ago, she says she was able to help a Maine Coon that was in pain by persuading its owners to take it to a veterinarian, where it was diagnosed with an infection it developed after its neutering surgery.

"I've always had a really strong connection with animals," she says.

Pet participation is encouraged at the expo, says event coordinator Rocco Lamanna. In past years, dogs have made up the majority of pets accompanying owners, but cats, birds, lizards and other animals also are welcome -- although those not in cages must be leashed.

Lamanna says several new activities are on tap for this year's event.

"It's definitely more interactive," he says. At the Black and Gold Costume Parade and Pup Rally at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, "We encourage people to dress their animals as their favorite Steeler," he says, adding that the Pup Rally is a new spin on the traditional pet costume contest.

Another new event is an animal lover's take on video dating. Dating on Demand for Pet Lovers, sponsored by Comcast, invites visitors to tape a personal profile with their pets for its Dating On Demand program.

"If you're a pet lover, nine times out of 10 you want your potential mate to love animals," Lamanna says.

And, for those whose dogs aren't quite ready for their close-up, Animal Friends will be demonstrating the possibilities of extreme makeovers for pets. Nicole Larocco, special events coordinator, says Animal Friends is in the process of initiating a grooming program for its shelter dogs that will have volunteers participate in cleaning up pets for adoption. A good appearance is very important for an animal that is hoping for a new home, she says.

During the Pet Expo, four dogs each day will be shown to the audience, then whisked backstage where Kim Schultz , owner of Vantastic Mobile Grooming of Bellevue, will work her magic and give them each a bath, haircut and style.

"Some are in dire need of grooming. Others are in dire need of adoption," Larocco says.

Other Pet Expo features include "Ask the Vet" with Dr. Mike Hutchinson; WTAE-TV celebrities and their pets; TV personality Dave Crawley and his latest book, "Dog Poems"; and America's Best Frisbee Dogs and Ultimate Air Dogs sponsored by Purina. There also will be visits from local mascots, and the popular Hot Dog Pig Races will return.

Additional Information:

Pittsburgh Pet Expo

When : 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Admission : $8, free for ages 12 and under with an accompanying adult

Where : David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Details : 412-919-8582 or www.pittsburghpetexpo.com

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