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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In 2020, animal lover Gabby Hoyt happily adopted Stella, a dog severely injured in a car crash. As it turns out, Stella also helped rescued Hoyt as well.

Stella came to Indy Humane with a fractured pelvis after she had been found hit by a car. She almost became a three-legged dog, but with emergency surgery, doctors said she may keep her leg and just move with a lopsided gait.

As she recovered, she was ushered into the office of Gabby Hoyt on the Indy Humane staff. At the time, Hoyt managed the medical sponsorship program and set out to take pictures and find her a sponsor.

She says that’s around the time Stella started saving her.

“We were getting hit with these animals who needed support. It was almost like you needed to pour from a cup that was half full,” Hoyt said, remembering feeling stressed and worried about her loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while still going to work.

Hoyt said she felt a connection to Stella and decided to foster her at home to help her heal. Like a good dog, Stella heeled and stayed.  

“It just immediately pulled me out of a funk that I didn’t realize I was in,” Hoyt said. “I’m now waking up earlier and visiting parks … And my other dog is getting out more. I feel like the whole family has this breath of life in the house we didn’t know we needed.”

Hoyt says looking back, she’s grateful something really good happened in the pandemic.

“The inspiration of Stella just having this rough start to life but being so loving and kind, and willing to continue trusting people really inspired me that people really aren’t as bad as they may seem,” Hoyt said.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Genealogy DNA testing kits are growing in popularity, not just for humans but for their dogs and cats as well.

The animal DNA tests boast breed results and disease screenings that could let animal owners what illnesses their pets could be prone to.

“It’s a fun avenue for people to explore that with their dog,” Dr. Mary Grabow, a veterinarian at Noah’s Animal Hospital on the west side, said. “But sometimes DNA will produce false alarms.”

Grabow says sometimes people see “disease positive” on the results and panic.

“A lot of these diseases have a lot of factors that go into getting the disease, and the DNA is just one of the factors,” she said.

She says the testing is just information, not a diagnosis and maybe not even a threat. Grabow says it does open up conversations and perhaps preventative care. 

“An owner might not even think about dilated cardiomyopathy, but if it came back with a positive marker then it gives them a conversation: ‘Hey, let me talk to my vet about this disease,'” she said.

Garbow says for breeders, DNA testing is a must. It reveals hidden, recessive traits that might be bad for a new littler. She’s used them too, and loves the growing interest in animals and animal health.

Patty Spitler, host of Pet Pals TV and proud dog owner, tested her rescue dog Mabel.

“I thought maybe rat terrier,” she said, holding the curly-haired Mabel on her lab. “She defies explanation but that’s why I had to get the DNA testing because everyone goes, ‘What is she? What is she?’ You know, I’m guessing.” 

Mabel’s result: mostly mini poodle, with schnauzer and a bit of bulldog, terrier and hound.

“Yes, it’s official, she’s a hot mess,” Spitler joked. 

Spitler says she’s glad she did it, but adds that no matter what the genetics say, Mabel is a member of her family.

“She’s so smart. She’s so smart. I mean, she’s so smart,” Spitler said.


🥢Sushi night!🍣
BOTH of my parents wanted a homemade sushi night for their birthdays this month- so we did!
Everything was delicious. We chose cooked meats (shrimp, crab, smoked salmon, bbq eel) and made lots of veggie rolls.
Enjoy the look book!



Master Bathtub remodel: DONE!
It’s a project 6 months in the making but I’m so happy with the results.
I’m not sure who to tell… so I’ll just tell all of you…
We swapped out the low-water garden bath for a deep two-seater jacuzzi tub. We had to rip out all the drywall, install new plumbing and electrical, reinstall the drywall, re-paint the walls (a softer color!) and redo the tile.
All of it was #DIY with my talented family members, except for the tile which we hired out. #DONE!



A pet duck?
Like in Friends?!
A diaper-wearing, baby toy-playing, cat-chasing domesticated DUCK.
Meet Gail today on my series “Less Than Perfect Pets” on WISH-TV!




INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It may be surprising to some, but a secure line of work during the COVID-19 pandemic is professional pet waste removal services, according to industry workers.

In central Indiana, there are several businesses from which to choose. Some say they left other professions to take up the challenge. News 8’s Brenna Donnelly spoke with representatives from Little Stinkers, Poopy Puppies and Hometown Critter Care about their choice to make their business product an animal’s by-product.

“Well it’s poop. I don’t know anybody who’s happy about dealing with poop every day,” laughed Jason Ferkel, owner and manager at Little Stinkers, “but my philosophy is about serving my customers and my employees. Best as possible, best work experience as possible.”

Ferkel also does the deed of poop scooping. He dons boots, gloves and a bright green vest, grabs a trash bag and gets to work.

“It’s one of those businesses that you’ve never heard of it but once you hear of it, people tend to say: ‘That’s something I need! I didn’t know I needed that!,” he said after spending about 20 minutes on a client’s yard.

He and his six employees charge about $20 a week to come by and walk your backyard “lawn-mower style,” clearing any unwanted animal debris from the week.

“I had a customer who says she thinks she can do it herself and just got an email saying, ‘I’m throwing in the towel, I need you back,'” Ferkel said.

Phil Wade does the same thing for Poopy Puppies.

“Some people just really don’t like picking up after their dog. And that’s what we’re for,” said Wade. “I like being outdoors. I like dogs, so I gave it a shot and 15 years later I’m still doing it.”

Wade explained he’s even worked with non-canine clients, like cleaning up after pot-bellied pigs.

A set of siblings in Brownsburg represent the industry’s next generation, starting their own business: Hometown Critter Care.

“It was the beginning of the COVID quarantines and we were sick of being at home and so we need something to get out and do so we decided to start a business,” said Ellie Robison, age 14.

“I thought, ‘Ew, why would we do that, that’s so gross. I don’t want to touch poop,”‘ said 12-year-old Charlotte Robison, remembering the first conversation she had about it.

“It’s kinda gross but it’s a way to make money and have money to go do something with my friends,” reasoned Ellie Robison.

However, there’s something touching about these businesses all about somebody’s business, Ferkel, with Little Stinkers, explained helping help one person who is blind and can’t clean up after her seeing-eye dog. He says other clients are elderly and don’t want to surrender their pets but can’t bend down like they used to. Another client threw out her back and pet waste services helped her do her kitty litter, too.

“It’s a crappy job but we’re glad to do it,” Ferkel said and then smiled.


Some PE teachers are athletes. Some art teachers are artists. But what does a history teacher do outside of class? This man blew our Golden Apple team away with how much history he digs up and shares with everyone in Monrovia, Indiana. He’s this month’s Golden Apple Award winner: Congratulations Steve Reeder from Monrovia High School! Watch his full surprise at


MONROVIA, Ind. (WISH) — If you take a tour of Monrovia High School, you’ll see Mr. Steve Reeder’s history handiwork down every major hallway.

He’s filled display cases with real artifacts and powerful stories featuring war heroes, sports legends and educational pioneers.

“No one knows more about Monrovia history. At all. Easily,” said Faith Nagel, a senior at Monrovia High School.

Reeder has worked in Monroe-Gregg Schools for 21 years, estimates principal Mike Springer. Reeder has made changes to the halls of Monrovia High, but also the people inside.

“I first met him when he was a 10-year-old baseball player across the street,” laughs Mark Jaynes, media teacher at Monrovia HS but known to many as the voice of the Indy 500. “With his passion, talent and ability, Steve Reeder could go a lot of places but he’s chosen to stay home all these years and we’ve all benefited from that.”

Reeder works with senior student Harley Mobley to create the display cases and file for county and state historical markers. He’s gotten several markers up in recent years, honoring places like the Hubbard Mill and the West Union Friends Meeting (thought to be an underground railroad stop), as well as markers for the childhood homes of college basketball coaching greats John Wooden and Branch McCracken.

Senior Faith Nagel helps Reeder create documentaries compiling local history.

“It definitely helps show me that there’s more to just this random little farm town hidden in Indiana. There’s so much that has gone through this town that nobody knows,” Nagel said.

“He’s kind of a human archive,” adds English teacher Julie Dimmick. “Everybody delivers things to him because everyone in the community knows he will find the place for history.”

That is, if the school can find an actual place for the pieces of history.

“We cannot find enough display cases for him,” laughs principal Springer. “I know that sounds crazy but if you go out and about, I think a lot of us are trying to find more display cases.”

Monrovia High School librarian Jennifer Armour sent in Reeder’s Golden Apple nomination.

“You think it’s nerdy but it’s not,” she said. “To know we have somebody here who cares to archive it and preserve it for [students], It’s unbelievable to have it at our fingertips.”

So we gathered our facts, double-checked our data and prepared for a surprise that could be worthy of the history books.

Reeder was teaching a psychology class when two of our videographers with camera lenses walked through the door, trained on his face.

“Pretty shocked and overwhelmed,” said Reeder after he received the golden trophy and $500 check from Golden Apple sponsor partner Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lender. “When the light was coming down the hallway I had no idea what was going to happen.”

We played his custom nomination video for the class.

“He is not an ‘I’ and ‘me’ guy he’s an ‘us’ and ‘we’ guy and we are lucky to have him,” said Janes in the video.

“Steve, I know this is your nightmare. Cameras coming in your room,” said Dimmick. “But you deserve it.”

WISH-TV’s Brenna Donnelly asked Reeder how he was feeling after watching the video.

“Sill very, very overwhelmed but very appreciative for everyone who recognized what we have done,” said Reeder. “The successes I’ve had have been largely because of what the kids have achieved.”

“I think success is a combination of time and effort,” he added,” and if I look back at what I first did when I was teaching, people would not have thought I’d get here. If I were to write a book about teaching, it would be don’t do what I did. It’s really hard to teach.”

But teaching is something Reeder does so thoroughly. Several of his students and coworkers shared nuggets of information about Monrovia during the course of this Golden Apple surprise, including stories about Monrovia natives in the Civil War. Watch the full Golden Apple surprise video at the top of this page to learn more.

To watch other Golden Apple Award recipients, click this link.

To nominate a deserving teacher for next month’s Golden Apple Award, submit a detailed nomination here.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Linda McLean is a proud cat owner. Five years ago, she became a proud duck owner.

“One day, I was getting ready to go see my granddaughter and there was this duck on my driveway and got up and there was an egg there,” she remembers. “I put a flashlight up to the egg and there was red lines everywhere and I realized she was alive and I thought, ‘I can’t kill her now!”‘

McLean took the duck egg inside and decided to care for it.

“To be honest, I stuffed the egg in my bra to keep it warm,” she laughed. “Then she hatched on my birthday and it was crazy. It was just crazy.”

The birthday girls became fast friends. She named the duck Gail and started sharing videos of her online, to an eager crowd. She shares the pros of having a duck and a few of the cons. Bathroom habits being number one. And number two.

“It’s a little harness thing, goes around their back end and I put a baby’s diaper in there and it keeps her from getting all messy,” said McLean, holding Gail up to the camera to show off her purple harness and white baby diaper.

McLean says she goes through four diapers a day and does not go outside. She said Gail learned to play with children’s toys in every room of the house.

“She’s made up a lot of games and she loves to play with baby games,” she said, referencing video of Gail activating a step-pad piano. “She stands on it and plays music and she’s learned she can do that and she does that a lot. “

Gail also plays with some of McLean’s cats, although McLean says even though they play like siblings, Gail acts like the boss. Regular photos and videos of the adventures of Gail the Duck are making a splash online.

“Every one of them say, ‘I just love seeing Gail. I just love watching her videos’ and it makes them smile and that’s an awful darn good thing to see to know that she’s making someone happy, too,” said McLean.

But it’s McLean who says she’s the lucky duck.

“I think she was meant to be to help me with my life. She makes me happy, she makes me smile,” she said. “I’m just really happy to have her in my life.”

McLean says Gail could live around 10 years in a private home. If you ask her about adopting a duck of your own, McLean says don’t unless you’re ready for full-time, messy, but rewarding care.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A local animal rescue is seeing an increase in kittens with a unique disability known as “wobbly cats.”

The disorder is cerebellar hypoplasia. It’s a problem with the cat’s brain stem that causes a sometimes significant lack of balance and coordination.

Cats Haven is the oldest no-kill cat sanctuary in central Indiana, with a history spanning almost 30 years. It’s inside an old Victorian home off 25th and College Avenue. Founder and manager Barbara Wills says she cares for around 300 disabled or senior citizen cats, but word has gotten out that her team is skilled with so-called wobbly cats. Of the 97 cats residing at Cats Haven, 12 are “wobblers,” according to Wills.

In 2018, News 8’s Brenna Donnelly visited Cats Haven to meet wobbly cats for the first time. Back then, the shelter was known in small circles for taking care of cats with cerebellar hypoplasia but the staff wasn’t fielding many requests to care for them.

“We’re the wobbler place,” Wills said, smiling at cats Precious and Troy trying to walk across the room and tipping over occasionally. “I know somebody’s going to look at her and say, ‘Poor kitty.’ And we look at her and say, ‘Way to go.”‘

She says when people see wobbly cats, they have one of three reactions: horror, pity or adoration.

She says the horrified people say they need to be put down since they have no quality of life. Wills disagrees, pointing to happy behavior and even balance improvement over time.

Wills says she’s with the third group, believing they’re cute, lovable and funny.

“Abe tried to climb up a cat tree, he has fallen down and they’ve hurt themselves. Troy goes for flies and has caught one. I think because they zig with the fly zigs,” she laughed. “They’re happy. They deserve a life. Don’t they? And they’re fun to watch.”

Cats Haven only adopts wobblers out to people who have experience caring for them. Wobbly cats struggle to use the litter box and eat, so Wills says they need near-constant care. Learn more about Cats Haven here.