Holiday Pet Photo Contest names three lucky winners |

Holiday Pet Photo Contest names three lucky winners

First place winner is Tuwa Purity with 99 likes.
Courtesy Gena Buschmann |

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Sierra Sun Holiday Pet Photo Contest was a howling success again this year.

The first place winner is Gena Buschmann’s English cream golden retreiver Tuwa, not only the most well “Liked” entry, but a saving grace and, perhaps, divine intervention.

The Buschmann family suffered the loss of Tyler Paul Buschmann, born on Dec. 10, 1981, who passed away on Thursday, May 17, 2012.

Gena, Tyler’s mother, desperately needed a beach escape. She traveled to Carmel, Calif., “a true dog beach,” and surrounded herself with a wreath she wove of seaweed.

As Gena meditated, lit candles, and prayed — centered in her wreath of ocean’s bounty — “all these dogs kept coming and going.” The Buschmann family had not had a dog in 15 years, said Gena. One dog went to her, an English cream golden retriever, and the love that passed through Gena “floored her.”

“All of the other dogs were just dogs,” she said. But this dog, this wonderful, white dog, was “pure love.”

Upon her return to Truckee, Gena received a heartfelt email from a friend, who wanted to do something for the family in their time of loss.

They purchased an English cream puppy for the Buschmanns. “I wasn’t even considering a dog,” said Gena. “I was thinking about leaving this whole dimension.”

The gift of Tuwa Purity, named to match Tyler Paul’s initials, brought Gena back to terra firma. Tuwa means “earth” in the Hopi language, and the puppy, with its baby-like needs, lent purpose and a heartfelt connection to Gena.

Tuwa is now in therapy dog training. Gena said Tuwa is a balm for their grief, and hopes to share that same solace with others. “This breed really just wants to give love,” said Gena.


Tuwa / Gena Buschmann: Likes: 99. Gena and Tuwa will receive a one-hour animal communication session with HeartSoul Natural Animal Communication. Cindy Hartzell is the voice for the voiceless, allowing people and pets to bridge the gap in communication, visit or call 530-386-3639 for more information.

Granite / Christine Kozanda: Likes: 88. This is Granite my sweet 13-year-old GSD, wrote Kozanda. He recently lost the use of his back legs and partial left side from a brain tumor but that will never stop him from loving life! Thanks to his good friends he now has a cart so he can let the good times roll during the holidays. If he wins he wants to give his gift basket to Greater California German Shepherd Rescue so his homeless furfriends have something special too. Granite will donate his gift basket from Hot Diggity Dog and Cat in Kings Beach. Owner Michelle Okashima is an animal lover and activist, pet parent to Mike the Dog (actor, philanthropist, and all around good guy) and George, who will travel to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. Visit her at Hot Diggity, 8675 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach, or call 530-546-2725.

Luna Bear / Lesley Marcacci: Likes: 79. Luna Bear’s paws are crossed we get some snow soon! Luna Bear will receive three days of Doggy DayCare at Truckee-Tahoe Pet Lodge, offering luxury overnight lodging and spa services for pets, with a warm, caring atmosphere where dogs and cats love to go and play. Visit or call 530-582-7268.

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