Animal Communication on Midday Makeover WENY TV

Hounds Horses and Hearts: Working Animals Tell Their Stories

UPDATE: Shari Koval has recently published a new book titled Hounds, Horses and Hearts: Working Animals Tell Their Stories. This book is a series of true stories about animals with jobs from the animal’s point of view, communicating through Shari. There are stories from service animals, therapy animals, police dogs, healer animals, and athletes. Shari came up with a list of questions asking what the animals think about being in the working world. The owners/handlers provided Shari with the background of the animals and she put their stories together. Each animal has very interesting advice for the world to live better lives.

What has been your process?

Lots of time sitting in my treatment room talking to animals from photos. I attempt to meet as many animals as I can. I received the names of the animals from a friend of a friend of a friend. A lot of the animals in the book are my clients. They have a therapy job or have made themselves a self-proclaimed protector. A friend would say “Oh, I know this type of animal”. That is how the big list began. For the police dogs, we went to the local police departments that my husband retired from. I was able to talk to those animals.

How many animals are there?

There are 21 chapters in the book and there are 18 different animals or groups of animals. There is a chapter about Tammy Marsh’s work that she does with Equine Assisted Learning. I interviewed each animal in that program and this group is one chapter in the book.

Your long list becomes you short list. You decide who you are going to use and you begin talking to them in person and through pictures?


How many did you actually meet in person?

I met about three quarter of the animals in person. A service dog and 2 therapy horses near Albany I have not met. There is one dog in Texas I have not met and then a service PTSD dog in the south I have not met.

Now that you have your interview, what is next?

I did all the interviews first and then I tackled writing each one of those chapters. Being from a scientific background, I had to decide whether to just give the facts. The more I talked to these animals, I realized they are more than just facts. They are scentient beings. I tried to do my best to tell their stories, represent the work they do, how they affect their people and what advice they have for the world.

As a former co-publisher, did you go back to that publisher and tell them you had something new?

I self-published this book and Tammy self-published the last book. I had my sister do my editing for me. She did a great job and it went pretty quickly once they had the manuscript. I work with Balboa Press, a division of Hay House.

If you self-publish, why do you need them?

Balboa does all the ‘real’ work. In reality, I have paid for my publishing. Once I make my money back that I have paid to publish, I will begin to receive royalties. I do the writing and Balboa distributes. When you publish through them, the book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Balboa Press, etc.. I can also sell them myself. You can opt for Balboa to set up book signings, and you can do that yourself. You can also buy marketing services from them too. They will do a video for you to use on YouTube and elsewhere. Each stage of the process, this company provides you with a different expert to help you. They offer a variety of packages. They are very versatile.

To see all this promotional material must be very exciting!


Shari Koval has been part of the Wellness Arts Network for many years and is the owner of SKEnergy Healing LLC in Beaver Dams, NY. She can be reached at (607) 279-5749 and by email at Her website is

(Previous Interview)

Natural Healthcare for Pets

Shari Koval has been part of the Wellness Arts Network for many years and is the owner of SK Energy Healing LLC in Beaver Dams, NY. She can be reached at (607) 279-5749 and by email at Her website is

How long have you been in business?

Since 2009, so 7 years.

How do you describe your business and what you do?

I do a lot of different modalities. I started out using Reiki. From there I became a Reiki Tibetan Usui Master (the basic Reiki) in 2009. I joined IARP (International Association of Reiki Professionals) and have been a member since then. In 2011, I became a Karuna™ Reiki Master. This is a bit higher vibration and includes adding 8 more symbols. In 2011, I became certified from Level One to Level 6 in Tuning Fork Therapy. In 2012, I became certified in Color and Crystal Therapy using the tuning forks. In 2014, I became certified in Natural Healthcare for Pets.

Where do you get all these certifications?

My Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master is in England. The Tuning Fork Therapy™ training was distance learning. It was an intense training program that involved many exams and practicums to be sent in and graded. Francine Milford from Florida developed Tuning Fork Therapy™ along with the color and crystal therapy that I work with. My Karuna™ Reiki Master is in the Ithaca area. The Natural Healthcare for Pets was distance learning as well through Penn Foster.  It was in intense program with many home work assignments and exams. I did all this while I was working full time.

What inspired you to begin all that?

I have always liked anything medical. If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have become a veterinarian. However, I wanted to go out and make money so I obtained an AAS degree in hatcheries Biology. I have had many surgeries and I never wanted to rely on Western Medicine. The Reiki interested me as a support system. The western and the eastern medicines work very well together.

Once you begin something, the other things usually come in. I have always been very musical so the tuning forks were a good fit for me. They are a more scientific approach to energy healing. Each of the body organs and each of our systems has its perfect vibration. If you get out of sync, you can use the forks to get it back in. From there I began playing with singing bowls.

I originally began the Reiki to work on animals, but then the people came. I continued to build up the animal work skills with the Natural Healthcare for Pets.

What have been your greatest stumbling blocks?

I believe it has been a matter of finding the time to focus on it. I worked full time, I have a household, I was building a business, I have a parent to care for. Now that I have retired, I have more time to dedicate to this.

Do people have any misconceptions about you or your business?

I think people wonder about what this Reiki thing is. (Is it a religion? Is it from the ‘devil’?). I tell people this is a gift from God. It is something everyone can do because we are just the conduits – it is not our energy. I teach my students that way too. If they are not comfortable with me saying this is a gift from God, they probably won’t be one of my students.

People will think I have certain mindsets because I do this work. Lots of people had a hard time believing I spent most of my time as a scientist. I got to use both halves of my brain.

What did you do for your work?

I worked at Corning Inc. for 31+ years. I retired as a Senior Scientist in Research, doing glass surface research.

If you could have a Do-Over, is there anything you would do differently?

I may have looked into this work sooner, because I really believe doing this kind of work is my calling. However, I believe everything is going to progress the way it is supposed to.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see this business continuing to grow. It has been a steady growth for 7 years. I have about half and half human to animal clients. I love that mix. I would like to do more distance work because I can do that wherever I go. I plan to have a book published.

I co-wrote a book called Talk To Me: Round Pen Work from the Horse’s Point of View. I was the Animal Communicator on the book and Tammy Marsh authored it. (Available online at, Barnes & Nobles, etc.). The next book will be Animals With Jobs From Their Point of View. I work with Therapy Animals, Police dogs and horses, Service Animals, and Athletes (and some animals who have given themselves jobs). I think this book will write itself. The animal owner will fill out a questionnaire and I have a list of questions I ask the animal – Why do you do the work? What makes you do this work every day? Do you LIKE to do this work?

I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but how do you know what the animal is telling you?

It’s just like dealing with a person. It is not an exact science. You can only pick up what you can pick up. You make a heart to heart connection with them. You telepathically ask them a question and then the answer will come in. When I first started, I’d get single words. I have been doing this long enough now that I can get full sentences, they can show me things through their eyes, they can let me join up with them to feel how they feel in their bodies. I do a lot of that for the diagnostic part of my work to see where their pain is. Then you have to trust it.

How do you verify what you are doing?

I will send the answers to the owner and ask if this makes sense to them. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. you can only pick up what the animal is willing to share. Like people, animals may not want to share with you and that is their prerogative. However, I always check with the animal first to see if they are willing to talk with me

SHRUB on Midday Makeover WENY TV

Dorothy Poppleton and Andri Goncarovs are the owners of Finger Lakes Harvest in Ithaca, NY. Their product is SHRUB, a process of fermenting fruit that dates back to colonial days. It includes 3 ingredients: whole fruit, organic apple cider vinegar and organic cane sugar. They can be reached at (607) 346-3849 and SHRUB can be purchased at a variety of Farm Markets and online at www.etsy.comshop/FingerLakesHarvest.

The whole umbrella picture of Finger Lakes Harvest originally was to bring products that were made in the Finger Lakes under one site and sell them. We veered off from that when we discovered this one product, SHRUB that we could produce. We have taken that Finger Lakes Harvest and turned it a little bit. The Harvest part is the fruit is harvested from farmers in the Finger Lakes region. The brand represents what we intended on doing originally. We found that there were very few direct ‘farmer to producer’ connections especially for the small farmers who cannot participate in the large wholesale markets. We can source out markets (even by knocking on doors) from small producers who might have half an acre of rhubarb. We will harvest that and put it in freezers that we rent. We produce SHRUB from that.

The nice thing about what we do is this: we can use ‘ugly’ fruit. The farmer might not be able to sell this at the market because it is not ‘pretty’. We don’t need pretty fruit. We are going to transform the fruit into a wonderful liquid.

How is this different from fruit that has been dropped to the ground and considered unusable?

 There are 2 things going on there. NY State passed some legislation about 10-12 years ago based on several incidents, but one in particular. Tainted fruit ended up in a product that caused some health problems in individuals and then on top of that, there was a contaminated water source that was used to wash fruit. The legislation was a reaction to clamp down on potential contaminated sources of fruit. Farmers in particular when you are trying to process apples, and other foods (in particular ‘drops’), which they may have done in the past, they may not have been cleaned well enough.

Our approach is if it’s really dirty or moldy, we cannot use that fruit. However, we go through a cleaning process just like any food processor. The FDA and USDA have certain rules about how much other contaminates can be in there. Even a small percentage is not good but in the big food processing world up to 5% is allowed.  What we do is establish a DIRECT connection with the farmer. We know them intimately. Farm to Table is a movement that is happening right now. What it’s doing is bringing the farmer and the consumer closer together. What we are doing is basically the same thing – making a product where we know that the product that we are getting is clean, not damaged, we know who it comes from and the conditions under which it was grown. If it’s organic and certified as such, we can label it organic. If it’s not certified organic we can’t label it organic. However, we can certainly let our consumers know under what conditions it was grown.

How long have you been doing this?

We were FDA Certified back in November, 2016. How we started the process is an interesting story. Andri closed a business. I had just left a job. We needed a vacation so we went up to New England. On the trip we ran into some friends and talked about our concept of Finger Lakes Harvest. The conversation brought us around to talking about shrub. They knew someone who made it. We had never heard of it. We went to a colonial village and in their refrigerator was a bottle of shrub! We decided to buy this and see what it was all about. We bought it, tasted it, put it on everything and on the way home we began talking about it. We researched it when we got home. I started working with it in the kitchen with small amounts of fruits and vinegar. I tried different kinds of vinegar. We discovered Apple Cider Vinegar was the way to go. Over time we developed this really great product.

I am curious about the sugar. Why do you have to put sugar in it?

It is part of the process. When you put sugar on berries and all that wonderful juice comes out, it’s the same type of thing.

There is this idea that all sugar has negative effects. Unfortunately, that’s a great generalization that is not necessarily true. For certain people with certain medical issues even a little bit of sugar can be a problem. For the most part in the shrubbing process it has extreme value.

  1. It acts as an extractor. It helps pull the fluids and helps loosen up the flavor esthers which are the things where the colors and flavors are.
  2. It also acts as a preservative and so does the vinegar. The vinegar is also an extractor. It’s called a vector. Vectoring is how you extract and do it at a LOWER temperature than most of your juices that are extracted.

Most of the juices in this country that are bottled by FDA law are extracted by a heating process which, unfortunately, destroys most of the A’s, a lot of the B’s, and all of the C’s or ascorbics. This process is different and the extraction process is at a much lower temperature over time. Sugar is part of that. Sugar helps create a stability. Sugar is the food for the lactobacters to continue to do their work in the conversion of fibers and esthers that live in the fruit to the liquid. You could do this with just the fruit but there would probably not be enough to pull out all the nutrients.

You are using organic cane sugar? Is that different than the white, processed cane sugar you buy at the store?

Organic Cane sugar is unbleached. It is coarser and has more of the micronutrients in it. It is a certified organic sugar which feels different, has more flavor and works differently. It is hard to explain but the lactobacters like it too. It is also twice the cost of bleached, processed cane sugar.

What has been your evolution as a business owner?

Dorothy Poppleton: Throughout my entire life I have always loved to cook –specifically BAKE! As a kid coming out of High School I thought about going to culinary school but loved to cook so much that I was afraid that if I did it for a living, I would hate it. I was very pragmatic and I got a degree in Radiology and X-ray. I did that for the first 15 years of my young adult life. I was in healthcare and specialized in mammography; I did family practice, urgent care etc. I did most of that in Boston and the Adirondac region.

I am from this area and when I had my first child, I wanted to come back to Elmira. One night I was working the 3-11 shift and I had a patient that I wasn’t sure what they had.  I was holding them for a procedure and thought, “What am I bringing home to my kids”. I reevaluated after that what I wanted to do with my life. My husband was in landscaping and I opened a retail garden center. We did that for awhile and relocated to a place where I could have a kitchen. It was called Westside Marketplace (café) at the Point. I closed the shop in West Elmira and worked for a caterer for a time and then Cornell for a time. I had an opportunity to open Sophie’s Cafe in Big Flats.

My business partner and I had an opportunity to open a bakery/café with food on Market St. in Corning. I did that for awhile and as life happens it was not a good fit for 2 single women raising families so we sold it. I began working for Corning, Inc.. I discovered that working in a corporate setting was not my ideal place. Around that time, Andre and I met. I left Corning and began helping Andri at his Antique Center for about a year. He closed that and we went on our New England vacation.

Andre Goncarovs: I was in the wholesale sourdough bread business for 20+ years. We were self-taught. We created our own cultures, we grew them and inoculated our doughs. We sold bread throughout New York State. We learned how to create great natural sourdoughs. Some were sweeter than others and some were more sour than others. We learned branding and shaping packaging.

Somewhere in the middle of there I also ended up in the consulting world. I did a lot of re-engineering consulting work with manufacturers in the US. We also did things like competitive intelligence, product positioning, new product development and due diligence acquisition. It was a one stop shop consulting firm.

There was the wholesale, family bakery business partnership and the consulting work. They coexisted for awhile. Then there were some life changes and it was time for me to make some changes on the baking side. Portions of it were sold.

I also earned a couple degrees from Cornell and was President of Ithaca Farmer’s Market for years. This laid the foundation for a lot of what we are doing now. At Ithaca Farmer’s Market we did a lot of local development. I wrote papers on marketscape development and presented at different educational groups and institutions. We were very involved in Cooperative Extension. There were a few other stops along the way. I worked overseas with an NGO doing agri-tourism and small business development. I taught courses in the Wisconsin Dells to former Soviet Union regional economic development ministers about the basics of starting an economy from the ground zero for several summers.

About 10-12 years ago I got into the antiques business. I ended up buying out the partners in the Antique Center north of Ithaca and ran that. It was the old Babcock Industries building. It was a big footprint retail business so I learned about customer acquisition, antiques and the history that goes along with it. Dorothy and I would have liked to purchase the building, but the negotiations did not go well. We decided to leave that and go find something else to do but enjoy life for awhile. That lasted about 2 weeks and we bumped into shrub. We are serial entrepreneurs.

I appreciate you are able to pick something up, play with it for awhile and put it down. Some people can’t do that. They ‘beat it to death’. They don’t ever want to put it down.

You have to be listening – to what your body is saying, the things that are around you (the conversations of people and the). It’s not easy when you are neck deep in all the crisis that a small business can create. In taking on something completely new, I had some background in helping manufacturers; I am comfortable around machinery. We have designed some of our own equipment that we use specifically for SHRUB.

We did the research on the shrub market and felt the timing was right. We were seeing all the right things that you would want. As a consultant to myself, I would be saying if you have the time, energy and money to do it, jump in now. We convinced ourselves this was the right time to do this. Dorothy worked diligently every night working up different processes on a small scale. In the meantime, I am figuring out how we are going to go from making a 2 gallon batch to a 200 gallon batch while keeping it all financially moving. This is not something a bank is going to throw money at unless you have lots of collateral. We didn’t. I had some retirement assets and other monies. I was Antique Rich at the time and sold that off. We made some good decisions along the way – it was a challenge. We made some not so good decisions, but not ones that would sink the ship.

With our baking experience, food is in our blood. Bottling is a whole different thing. Bottling, labeling, figuring out the size of the bottle, the shape of the bottle. But we love learning and figuring out another way to go about it.

Are there any misconceptions about you or your business?

I think we are moving fast enough that people can’t catch up to it. Some people have one career in 30 years where we have done 3 careers in 30 years and that’s pretty normal now.

The other thing is that when people say what are you doing? Why are you doing that? Why CAN you do that? Why should you be doing that? It didn’t cross us as a stumbling block. We went for it. We have regular business meetings. We plan our strategy just like a big business but we are a small business. (You have wonderful backgrounds for this. Lots of people don’t).

I think there was one minute when we talked about it and we thought maybe we should go out and get traditional jobs. And then it was like “No. That’s not us”.

Are there misconceptions about your Product?

Some people will walk up to our booth and ask, “Is this a skin product”? We tell them it’s not SCRUB, it’s SHRUB. Other people will know what this is when they come up to the booth and say, “Oh. This is juice”. No, it’s not juice and we have to educate.

The learning curve on knowing what this product is, is HUGE and very steep. We accept that as part of our mission to be the industry leader in this country. We recognize that people are just learning about what shrub is but also this whole concept of making a simple wholesome ingredient from a few ingredients that is stable and can be used in so many different ways like they did 250 years ago. They were smart back then. They didn’t have commercial refrigeration. They didn’t even have bottling really. They learned that through simple processing you could end up with a product that is stable and nutritious and last for a little bit longer than a day or two.

What have been your greatest achievements?

(Dorothy) I think the fact that we could take something from nothing and make it into a successful business in a very short period of time. We have a ways to go but we look at this as very much a success.

I feel that in my life – having the courage to do things on my own. Many people have looked at me as if I am crazy thinking I could have stayed in medicine and be retired by now. I would not have been happy. As much angst as being in a small business can cause you wouldn’t want it any other way. I think that in and of itself is an achievement.

(Andri) In reality, the best is yet to come. We have something here that is uniquely different and interesting. We are bringing a lot of people along with us. It’s not just a few customers. Farmers are starting to see there may be something interesting here and maybe they could make a value added product. (Of course, that will be on them to make it happen for them). But once we are in this for another 2-3 years, there is going to be a pathway that we will have cleared to make a difference for many other people that want to get started.

We have intentionally gone to Farmer’s Markets and Wine and Food Shows. Some things are under development but we have met a lot of people in the process. In doing so we learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes to make a product that everyone is comfortable with in general. In doing so, we gain a confidence in ourselves. Smaller businesses are beginning to notice it and asking us questions. They see how far we have come in a short amount of time.

Of course, we are very dedicated. We work well together too. I have a partner that I can fully trust. When something has to happen, it happens. Every Monday morning we have a business meeting and we talk through every issue that is related. We clear the table a lot. In a family business that can be hard to do because it becomes personal. Then you become stuck and goals are not being reached. We have gone from zero to some great numbers in year one. We are profitable NOW!

I keep thinking Shark Tank.

We talked about this the other day. Someone did bring shrub to Shark Tank about 2 – 3 years ago. The woman had a great idea but she was very unclear about her market segments and where to go and how to present her products. We learned from that. We are humble enough to know that we don’t know everything. As smart as we are and with the backgrounds we have, we still don’t know everything. We are willing to ask anyone for help.

We learn a lot from our customers – how they are using the product, how they are perceiving what we are telling them. We had this whole thing in the beginning about all the wonderful ways you can use this but it became as simple as saying it is 3 basic ingredients. We had a 3 minute elevator speech and now we are 30 seconds. We didn’t think that was important. We thought people would listen to us forever. They would walk away. The market is relentless in that way.

We re-watch some of the Shark Tank segments, but the one about the shrub teaches us something new every single time. The shark’s language is finely honed. The first time we heard a question it may have gone over our heads. The next time we heard it we understood what they wanted.

Do you have any stumbling blocks?

Lack of capital to start. We grew faster than we had finances for. It’ been a balancing act getting into things slowly. We realized that if you put everything on the shelf and you’re not getting immediate money back that is money you can’t reinvest in the company. We have also begun to grow out of our present space. Finding a new one is a challenge.

However, some of these challenges have been valuable lessons for us. They have taught us to look for efficiencies in our processes. There are times when we ask experts for ideas and may look around for common household items to build things. Stumbling Blocks are great lessons.

Would you take a Do-Over in anything?

No. I am a believer in lessons learned.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

We know where we want to be in 2 years. We will be a million dollar business. We have an opportunity to grow.

Are you developing this business to sell it?

I don’t believe any of our 6 children are interested in what we do. Our children have their own directions they are going in.

We are in this for the long haul. This business requires a lot of intention. It’s not just money and hardware. It requires a lot of attention to details that could come back to bite you. We are pretty aware of that. We want to build a clientele that is happy with a great product that are willing to pay a little extra for it while keeping our margins happy. We know our business will remain here. We will not be moving to Michigan or Ohio or Florida.

We plan to expand a SHRUB based product line. We have some of those developed for now (Bloody Mary Mix). We have brand extension product plans as well. If someone made a significant offer for a business that we have built, yes we would sell it. I don’t plan to be working in my 80’s. I am doing this as a way to retire eventually.