Posted in Features


A Winter Walk

by Maralyn Fink

A living Valentine at Postal Connections

courtesy of Mark Smith

After 28.5 years in a local factory, I learned that they had decided to close their doors. I only had a year to re-plan my future, and figure out what it was I was going to do to continue to help support my family. My wife and I came up with the idea to open up a mom and pop copy shop.

We learned through our networking with a local business owner/friend that there were plans of a pack and ship store coming to town the 1st of the year. When we learned that the plan had fallen through, we also learned about Postal Connections.

I was going to be out of a job in June and knew we had to move quickly. We took the time to educate ourselves on the vast varieties of pack and ship franchises that were available. We were excited, nervous, and scared all at the same time. Once we had agreed upon Postal Connections, we set out to find our financing. Through the process, we learned that financing was presenting more of a challenge than we had anticipated. Finally one of our local financial institutions took a chance on us and helped our dream become a reality.

With financing in place, it was time to find our location. When we found what would become the new home of Postal Connections, we had confidence that it was going to be perfect! Plenty of traffic and great parking access. We had great family support to help us get the store set up ready. There were many long nights getting ready for the big set up day, and the franchise was building our layout.

As the opening of our store approached Cherie, my daughter Nicole, and myself set out to Lancaster, PA to perfect what would become our new craft in a very successful and busy Postal Connections store. Every night we went back to our hotel, our heads were spinning with all of the new knowledge that was being given to us everyday. We all wondered if we had bit off more than we could chew! 2 days after we arrived home, it was our time to shine and implement what we had learned over the past week and make it into having a successful opening! All of our family and friends gathered to help us over the weekend to be ready for 8:30 am Monday morning.

Postal Connections sent one of their corporate trainers to help us set up the computers, internet, fax lines, etc. The morning of July 23, 2007 Postal Connections opened its doors for the very first time to the public. One of our very first customers came in and wanted to open up an account, time to put our training into action!

The corporate trainer left to go back home at 11:30 am the next day. The three of us looked at each other as he walked out the door, and that’s when the fear, excitement and nervousness really hit us. Cherie went back to work the following day, which left Nicole and Ime to run the store.

A few of the struggles in opening a new business is getting your name and services out to the community, educating our potential customers know what services we offer, and actually being able to pay yourself. I personally did not did not pay myself for a couple of years. Just as any other household, the bills still come in like clockwork whether the money does or not. The goal then was, to help keep the bills paid the best I could.

Our store has grown into what it has today by providing the services of our brand, and adding our own touches over the past 10 years. As can be expected, we offer packing and shipping services with UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS. However, we also offer printing, copying, and so much more.

We do as much as we can to support our community when we can. A few examples include boys and girls sports teams, Relay 4 Life, Habitat for Humanity, No more sidelines of Michigan, and so many more.

With all of this being said, none of this would be possible without my wife Cherie. Even though she is not part of the day to day operations; she has been my listening ear, coach, cheerleader and has helped me the whole way.

A Look Back – Montgomery Ward Catalog Sales

By Barry Clark Bauer

This long time location of the Amstutz Hatcheries at 308 N. Clinton Ave. became the location of the Montgomery Ward Catalog Sales store circa 1970.

Its manager was Don Rice, formerly employed at Dean’s Hardware (now Gill-Roy’s) as manager of the Sports Center.

Maralyn’s Pet Corner -Gabapentin for Dogs: What You Need to Know

Although gabapentin has been around for many years, its use in dogs and cats is fairly new. Your veterinarian may recommend gabapentin for several conditions: as a mild sedative before coming into the veterinary clinic, as an add-on pain medication, or as part of a seizure management protocol.

It wasn’t that long ago when people assumed pets didn’t feel pain as acutely as humans did. Some even thought that a little pain was good for a pet because it kept them from overdoing it during recovery from a surgery. It was a misguided approach, and modern veterinary medicine no longer works that way. Now, veterinarians are guided by the principle of “assuming pain.” That is, if a pet is experiencing something we know to be painful—an injury, a surgery, certain medical conditions—we should give a pet pain medication even if he or she isn’t outwardly crying or limping.

Medicine is an art as much as it is a science, especially when you are treating a patient who can’t tell you in words how he is feeling, or whether a treatment is helping. Veterinarians used to just give one pill and hope that it worked well enough. But now, the idea of multi-modal pain management has finally become the standard in the field. To understand why the use of gabapentin has become popular in veterinary medicine, it’s important to review our current understanding of pain.

Pain Relief for Dogs

The more we learn about pain, the more we realize that it is a complex phenomenon. For example, take a stubbed toe. This painful stimulus activates local receptors in the toe, called nociceptors. The signal then transmits through the nerves up into the spinal cord, and then on to the brain, which is responsible for reacting to the signals and creating the actual conscious perception of pain.

The important takeaway is that different classes of pain medications work at different levels in this pain pathway. Anti-inflammatory agents like NSAIDs work on the nociceptors, decreasing the inflammatory response that amplifies pain, where opioids bind to receptors in the nervous system to decrease the transmission of the pain signals themselves. Emotional factors such as fear or anticipation can also alter the experience of pain.

Veterinarians have many different gateways they can act upon to affect the pain pathway. What they’ve learned over the years is that it’s better to address multiple areas of this pathway all at once rather than focus on one area with high doses of a single medication. This is known as multimodal pain management, and this is where gabapentin comes in.

Uses of Gabapentin for Dogs

Gabapentin is an unusual pain medication in that it is rarely used by itself. On its own, gabapentin is not particularly effective in preventing pain. However, when used in conjunction with other pain medications such as an opioid or an NSAID, it has shown great potential in amplifying the pain reduction effects of those other medications. Although its mechanism of action is not fully understood, gabapentin is thought to decrease the release of excitatory neurotransmitters by affecting the calcium channels in the nervous system. Think of gabapentin as the noise-canceling headphones of the nervous system; while it doesn’t change the levels of noise being generated, it dampens your perception of it.

Because it appears to work specifically in the nervous system, gabapentin has also shown promise in a variety of nervous system issues, such as seizures and anxiety. It also is a particularly helpful drug for managing chronic pain, which is defined as pain that has been present for over six months. It’s a challenge to find medications that specifically target chronic pain, so it’s reassuring that gabapentin has been helpful for these patients.

Risks and Side Effects of Gabapentin for Dogs

While gabapentin is generally considered a safe drug, there are a couple of precautions pet parents should take. Because the drug is eliminated through the kidneys, owners should use gabapentin with caution in pets with kidney conditions. In addition, it’s vital to ensure the gabapentin is specifically formulated for pets, as the liquid form for people contains xylitol—an artificial sweetener lethal to dogs.

To get the maximum benefit, use gabapentin as directed and in conjunction with any other prescribed medications. The side effects most commonly noted with gabapentin are sedation and wobbliness, which can be mitigated by starting the dosage low, then gradually increasing to the effective dose. The drug should not be abruptly discontinued, as pets may experience withdrawal symptoms if not gradually weaned off the medication.

Pain is one the of the most challenging conditions in veterinary medicine to appropriately manage, so it’s good news that veterinarians have another tool in their arsenal to help pets live long and pain-free lives. If you think your pet is experiencing any sort of pain, don’t wait to talk to the vet. Veterinarians have a wide variety of tools available to them to bring your pet relief.