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Canyon Country poodles win photo contest

Cathie Huenemeier donates $1,000 prize to canine cancer organization

Posted: November 8, 2008 8:27 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2008 4:55 a.m.
Cathie Huenemeier, of Canyon Country, won the summer photo contest at with this photo of her poodles with Torrey laying atop Gunner. Cathie Huenemeier, of Canyon Country, won the summer photo contest at with this photo of her poodles with Torrey laying atop Gunner.
Cathie Huenemeier, of Canyon Country, won the summer photo contest at with this photo of her poodles with Torrey laying atop Gunner.

Torrey, a rare standard parti poodle, and Gunner, her standard poodle playmate, enjoyed the summer sun running around and playing their own doggie version of tag in the backyard of a Canyon Country home.

Gunner, fed up with the typical Santa Clarita summer heat, headed to his kennel to lay down. Panting wildly, Torrey joined her buddy Gunner, plopping down right on top of him.

Cathie Huenemeier, the owner of the dogs, took advantage of the "Kodak" moment and snapped a photo.

Browsing for coupons and local news, Huenemeier stumbled upon a photo contest hosted by the site which offered interesting prizes for the winner.

Designed to be the leading web resource with access to information, articles and expert advice on all types of pets, is the consumer arm of World Wide Pet Industry Association, and is the one-stop source for all things pet-related for consumers, industry retailers and experts alike.

"I use the site for information, especially what is happening locally. They have a lot of articles," Huenemeier said. "They also have coupons to your local pet stores for various products." conducts photo contests throughout the year. Each contest has a theme and owners are encouraged to submit photos of their pets represtenting the given theme.

According to the Web site, the winner - which is voted on by the public - will receive numerous pet products as well as a $1,000 donation to the local Humane Society or animal shelter of their choice.

Stumbling across this information, Huenemeier's light bulb in her head practically exploded.

She submitted the photo of her two poodles with the sole intention of winning. Not so much for the goodie doggie basket, but more so to donate the $1,000 to a cause that has personally touched her.

Huenemeier has been a resident to the Santa Clarita Valley for 25 years. She owned an operated a grooming shop in Canyon Country for eight years called "Groomingdales." With the intention of moving to follow her children who relocated to Texas, she sold the shop.

"We sold everything in order to move," Huenemeier said, "but the job market was so bad, we just decided to stay here."

Since then, she's been an even more active participant in the canine world. Continuing to groom dogs, now at "Dog Cottage" in Newhall, Huenemeier also breeds poodles. She specifically breeds standard parti poodles, a relatively rare type of breed.

"Torrey, the one you see laying on top (in the photo) is a standard parti poodle," Huenemeier said. "She's my diva-dog. It's as if she's saying, ‘I'm tired, so I'm gonna just lay on top of him.'"

Gunner, relaxed and apathetic, let the diva do what she wanted.

"He's my low-key old man," Huenemeier said. "He's like ‘whatever.'"

Huenemeier breeds dogs who compete in show competitions that are soley based on breeding.

In addition to grooming and breeding dogs, Huenemeier also participates in dog sports with her canine pals. Her pups play "flyball," a type of relay race between other dogs. The competitors jump over hurdles to get to a box with a lever on it. Once the lever is pushed, a ball shoots out of the box. The first dog who catches the ball and returns to the finish line, wins.

Flyball is one of the non-hunting dog sports in which dogs and people work as a team. According to a flyball Web site, "many casual pet owners use their flyball time more as a way to relax and socialize with other dog owners than as a competition. Many champion flyball dogs are essentially pet dogs with a hobby, rather than dedicated sporting or working dogs."

Through events like flyball competitions, Huenemeier, Torrey and Gunner meet other dogs and owners, establishing quality friendships within the community.

Chase, a black lab who competed in a sport called "dock diving," and her owners were one of many Huenemeier and her dogs grew close to over the years.

In 2006 however, Chase was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma and died shortly after. Her death inspired her owners to create "Chase Away K9 Cancer," a campaign raising money and awareness regarding cancer in canines.

Earlier this year, Huenemeier was diagnosed with cancer herself.

"I had to win the $1,000 to donate to Chase's cause," she said.

Huenemeier submitted her photo in the competition themed "Summer Pet Photos," in which pet owners were asked to upload photos of their pets enjoying the lazy days of summer.

"I would annoy my friends everyday to go to the Web site and vote," Huenemeier said. "You can vote once a day."

Voters had to be registered with, and all votes were published.

"You can see all the votes online," she said, "so I wasn't surprised when I won."

The photo eventually won Torrey and Gunner that basket of doggie goodies, which included prizes from Bamboo and FatCat such as the FurBuster, Quick Control collars and Wonky Bonker chew toys.

But more importantly, Huenemeier accomplished her intended goal and donated the $1,000 to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation, specifically noting it was for Chase's "Chase Away K9 Cancer" campaign (which is one of many campaigns under the foundation).

"I chose this organization because of the wonderful work they do in the fight against canine cancer," she said. "This year I was diagnosed with breast cancer so the fight against cancer is that much more important to me."

For more information on the non-profit organization, visit For more information on how to support the "Chase Away K9 Cancer" campaign, visit


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