A Dog Has But One Request Of Mankind…

…Love Me.

It seems as if every day is dog day around here. We get up thinking about the needs of our dogs. And because our dogs come to work with us, their wants and desires always seem to be our number one priority. It’s a wonder we’re able to accomplish anything at all, except where our dogs are concerned.

Nevertheless, there is quite a bit happening here at The New Barker Dog Magazine, and more things are being added weekly. We have been named the Official Dog Magazine for Florida’s Largest Home Show and Spring Fling Adopt-A-Pet at the Florida State Fairgrounds, March 15-17. We’ll have a staging area with programs, demonstrations and short seminars going on throughout the weekend. Rescue groups who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Rick Medina at Animal Based Charities. Pet-related vendors should contact The New Barker at info@thenewbarker.com.

The New Barker is once again the official dog magazine for this year’s International Combined Driving Event at Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. While this is an amazing Equestrian event, dog lovers will get a kick out of the Jack Russell Terrier Races being held on Saturday, February 23. We will have some tickets to give away, so be sure to sign up for Weekend Pup-Dates and The New Barker Facebook page for upcoming details, and your chance to win.

The New Barker is also a co-sponsor of the Jacksonville Humane Society’s Mutt March (March 2 at The Jacksonville Landing) and the Humane Society of Manatee County’s Paws in Motion (March 9, Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk). We’ll be busy in March with our duties as the official dog magazine for events like the 6th Annual Doggie Derby in Orlando, the Annual Dog’s Day in Dade City, and the 4th Annual Florida Wiener Dog Derby in North Fort Myers. Hint: Bookmark The New Barker calendar to check for updates.

And the fun doesn’t slow down in April. We’ll be at the 7th Annual PawFest on Saturday, April 6 in Largo, as their official dog magazine and co-sponsor. This has always been a fun event for the entire family. We’re also looking forward to the 2nd Annual Chasco Fiesta Pet Adoption Fair on Saturday, April 13 in New Port Richey. Interested in participating as a vendor or rescue group? Call Linda at 727.501.1444 for PawFest and Kristen at 727.842.7651 for the Chasco Fiesta Pet Adoption Fair.

April 28th kicks off the season’s Bark in the Park series at the newly renovated McKechnie Field, home of the Bradenton Marauders. The New Barker has been asked back as the season’s Official Dog Magazine for each of the five Bark in the Parks. There will be games, raffle prizes and plenty of giveaways. And, be sure to stay Pup-To-Date for details on the upcoming Ray’s Bark at the Ballpark, scheduled during baseball season at the Trop. We’ll also be doing the annual Bark in the Park with the Tampa Yankees.

We are especially fortunate (okay, and excited) to be working on a fundraising project for Olive’s Way, featured in the winter edition of The New Barker. Partnering with the Columbia Restaurants to bring a very special Wine Tasting Dinner, the April 30th event will raise money to benefit the Oncology Department at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital. Our special guest will be Jeremy Foley, Athletic Director for the University of Florida. His chocolate Labrador, Gracie, who was featured in the very first issue of The New Barker in 2006, was a recent patient at the UF Small Animal Hospital. Tickets will be available soon, so stay close to The New Barker social media tools for details.

News You Can Sink Your Teeth Into: February is Responsible Pet Owners Month as well as National Pet Dental Health Month. The New Barker veterinary partners all agree that a clean mouth is like having clean heart valves. And to motivate you even more, our veterinary partners are all offering specials on dental exams and teeth cleaning this month. Contact any one of these doctors and they will be happy to consult with you about your dog’s teeth:

  • Dr. Steven Lewis, Davis Island Animal Clinic – 813.251.4384
  • Dr. Shauna Green, Medicine River Animal Hospital – 727.299.9029
  • Dr. Douglas Metzler, Metzler Veterinary Hospital – 727.669.7221
  • Dr. Mark Brown, Central Animal Hospital – 727.521.3518
  • Dr. Eddie Garcia, Veterinary Medical Clinic – 813.289.4086
  • Dr. Thomas Tallon, Jr., Gulfport Veterinarian – 727.384.4413
Sam, available for adoption.
Sam, available for adoption.

Dog of the Week: Meet Sam, a five-year-old Cavalier King Charles. He is current on everything, gets along well with humans and other dogs and cats. If you adopt Sam, he will want to be with you everywhere you go. A real champ of a lap dog. A Very Important Pet daycare, boarding and grooming, is fostering Sam. Call them at 727.446.6700 for details.

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Because of You.

The staff at the veterinary hospital braced themselves behind the desk. Across the lobby they watched as a couple scrutinized the invoice’s contents for their dog’s medical treatment. Their dog, who had been diagnosed with renal cancer, had just undergone a successful yet grueling surgical procedure to remove her cancerous kidney, and part of her adrenal gland. She was still in recovery, under close watch. The office manager was prepared to explain the bill, but Dr. Nick Bacon, the surgical oncologist, walked towards Lisa and Harry Posin instead. As Harry pointed to the bill, he remarked, “Dr. Bacon, I think there must be some mistake with the bill.” So Dr. Bacon graciously began the task of going over each item on the bill, line by line. Afterwards, Harry pressed on, “But doctor, the bill is too low. Is your fee in here? Dr. Bacon exhaled. Suddenly, the weariness from the surgery washed away, as he assured Harry that indeed his fee was part of the bill. Thus began a warm and mutually rewarding relationship between Dr. Bacon, the Posins, Olive, their beloved Maltese, and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Olive, during her promotional photo shoot for Olive's Way.
Olive, during her promotional photo shoot for Olive’s Way.

Olive’s Way. A Love Story. Olive was three when Lisa and Harry noticed something was not right. Their always alert and energetic dog had been lethargic for several days, and her eyes appeared puffy. They took her to their family veterinary clinic in Boca Raton where she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, and subsequently treated with steroids. But Olive’s condition wasn’t improving. In fact, while Lisa’s mom, Marie McCarron was babysitting Olive, she observed that Olive seemed to be getting worse. Marie drove Olive to the veterinary clinic, stormed the office and firmly requested, “I want to see the records for my granddaughter.”

It turns out, no blood work had ever been done on Olive to confirm, or pinpoint the origin of her illness. Lisa flew back from New York immediately, and took Olive to her mother’s veterinarian in Boynton Beach. “When the doctor came out of the exam room, holding Olive in his arms, I knew right away by the look on his face that something was terribly wrong,”said Lisa. “I called Harry and asked him to please come over, right away. And then, for some reason, when I hung up the phone, I just walked out of the clinic’s lobby, holding tightly onto Olive’s little sweater. I just walked and walked for, I don’t know how many miles. When a car pulled up alongside me, I turned to see it was Harry. He was holding Olive, and I could tell he had been crying.”

“Olive has cancer,” Harry told Lisa. “We’ll get her the best treatment available,” he assured her.

The Posins immediately took Olive to a specialty hospital in Coral Springs to see Dr. Morales. From what she had been told by Marie’s veterinarian, Dr. Morales initially thought to herself that there was little hope for Olive. She would make sure Olive was comfortable until the Posins were ready to let her go.

But the tests that Dr. Morales ran revealed a glimmer of hope. The cancer was encapsulated, and if removed immediately, Olive might stand a good chance of living. When the Posins asked Dr. Morales where they should go for the surgery, she immediately recommended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Lisa looked at Harry, and then at Dr. Morales and said, “I don’t think you understand, Dr. Morales. We’ll take Olive anywhere in the world to ensure that she receives the best possible treatment and care.” Without a blink of an eye, Dr. Morales gently answered, “Well, then, you’ll be taking Olive to the University of Florida, of course.”

While Lisa, her mom and Olive traveled to Gainesville by plane that same afternoon, Dr. Morales was already on the phone with Dr. Nick Bacon, head of the Oncology Unit at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Harry would fly up later that evening.

What makes the UF College of Veterinary Medicine so special is the team approach taken with each patient to reach a diagnosis and recommend the subsequent care. For one consultation fee, the patient is seen by an entire team of specialists in one location. It is often a profound savings in cost, and certainly a savings in time, as all tests, procedures and specialists are contained on one campus. Once in the system, a family is gently guided throughout the various processes by the team, while being provided thorough explanations and assurances along the way.

Dr. Bacon explained the bell curve of Olive’s diagnosis and prognosis to Lisa and Marie. She could live another 16 months if the surgery was successful, he told them. As reassuring as the entire team in the room was being, Lisa was still consumed with fear and utter sadness at the realization that Olive could actually die. A young woman on Olive’s team, sitting next to Lisa, took her hand and said, “We’re here to help you, any way we can.” Suddenly, Lisa looked around and became acutely aware of her surroundings. “I felt as if I was in the most amazing place, with the most amazing people,” said Lisa. “The positive energy within that whole environment made me feel hopeful, and I realized at that moment, anything was possible.”

Several times during the nearly six hour surgery the following morning, the Posin’s were given updates on Olive’s condition. Afterwards, Dr. Bacon, who had performed the surgery, sat with the Posins for about an hour to further discuss Olive’s condition with them. 24 hours after the surgery, the Posins were able to peek in on Olive. “It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life,” said Lisa, “She was swaddled up, and with her pretty bright eyes looking at me, I just knew she was going to be okay.”

Convinced that the bill was correct, but not completely satisfied, Harry asked Dr. Bacon, “How much money is raised each year for the oncology unit?” Surprisingly, on average, only $10,000 in donations came in sporadically each year by humans whose animals’ lives had been touched by the College of Veterinary Medicine. “They were making due with what they had,” said Lisa.

The Posins, who had together already decided they would make a donation to the oncology unit for their efforts in having saved Olive’s life, decided that they also wanted to create a vehicle to raise even more money specifically for the Oncology Unit. Through this foundation, all of the money raised would go to help develop more research programs, purchase state-of-the-art equipment and fund in whole or part, an internship, a residency in medical oncology, and a fellowship in surgical oncology.

“Harry named the foundation Olive’s Way to show that this would be the way, a beacon of hope for those pets suffering with cancer. Because with hope, as I already know, anything is possible,” said Lisa. In 2008, a year after Olive’s surgery, the first fundraiser was held at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, raising an astounding $320,000. Olive attended, as did Dr. Bacon. “Once people knew of the wonderful work taking place at the University, they immediately wanted to help by making donations to the foundation. They had just never realized that their help was needed to keep the College of Veterinary Medicine viable and growing,” said Lisa. “Due to the severity of Olive’s illness and the complex nature of the surgery,” Harry strongly believes, “had it not been for the skilled oncology team at the University of Florida, we would likely have lost Olive on the operating table.”

The oncology service at the College of Veterinary Medicine has grown from a single clinician in 2002 to the largest training center for veterinary oncologists in the Southeastern United States. In 2010, the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida opened a new hospital with 100,000 square feet dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of veterinary patients. Today, the University of Florida is one of only two centers in the world to train veterinarians in cancer surgery in a post-residency program. Olive’s Way has helped to make all of this possible. Olive defied the odds and lived another four years after her surgery. “They were four good years too,” said Lisa, who can still vividly recall the day it was time to let Olive go. “I was lying in bed with her face on my face. Harry was looking at us with tears in his eyes, waiting to take her. That precise moment in time always comes back to me whenever I see anyone else in pain. I still miss her dearly, and telling her story allows me to get back in touch with her. I never want to lose sight of her, and I can be completely re-charged just by seeing a picture of her.” Dr. Bacon changed the Posin’s lives, and they changed his. As a result, he has changed the whole landscape of the oncology department at the University. “Even though cancer is such a horrible subject, we are on the hopeful side of it, thanks to Olive’s Way, and the Oncology Department at the University of Florida,” said Lisa.

Her Name is Lucca, the Military Working Dog.

'Canines With Courage'
Retired U.S. Marine Rober Harr, 86 (center) with U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham (right) and U.S. Marine Cpl. Juan Rodriguez (left) with Lucca on the Natural Balance 2013 Rose Parade Float, Canines with Courage. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times).

A decade ago, Military Working Dogs like Lucca would have most likely been euthanized after her service. The dogs were considered government equipment and too dangerous to return to domestic life. Thousands of dogs working for the military have been sent overseas since 1942. Over the years, many have been left behind as excess equipment. During the Vietnam War, about 4,000 American war dogs were employed in various capacities. About 300 dogs were killed in action or were victims of either tropical diseases or infections. The rest of the dogs were reportedly put down by military veterinarians or given to the South Vietnamese Army.

In 2000, President Clinton signed a law allowing retired soldiers and civilians to adopt the Military Working Dogs after their deployments.

John Burnam, who served in Vietnam and wrote a first-person account of working with a front-line scout dog named Clipper, will also be riding on the float today. Clipper never made it back to the United States. Burnam is president of the foundation that established the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which is scheduled to be completed in October, 2013. Burnam’s story about Clipper inspired Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC), who introduced legislation for a national monument. In 2008, President Bush signed the bill into law, and President Obama authorized Burnam’s foundation to build and maintain the San Antonio, Texas monument.

The bronze statue features a Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and a Belgian Malinois leading a dog handler on patrol. The $1.2 million dollar price tag was funded solely by grants and donations led by sponsors Natural Balance, Petco and Maddie’s Fund.

Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, 23, credits Lucca with saving his life. The dog sniffed out a booby trap, setting off the bomb that took her leg. Cpl. Rodriguez later escorted Lucca to her first handler, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham, 33. Lucca is living the life of spoiled retirement, and enjoying every minute of it.

The New Barker dog magazine is honored to be a longtime supporter and sponsor of Military Working Dog Team Support Association (MWDTSA). Over the years, through the support of our retail advertisers and their own generous customers, supplies have been collected for the dogs and their handlers currently deployed overseas. We have collected the donations and transported them to the SPCA Florida in Lakeland. There, they are either shipped to Atlanta, or Dixie Whitman, the executive director of MWDTSA drives to Lakeland from Atlanta to pick up the supplies. Dixie then packages and ships the supplies directly to the deployed handlers and their dogs.

You can learn more about this fine organization by reading Lucca’s story. Supplies continue to be collected at Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater; Gone to the Dogs, St. Pete Beach; Groovy Cats & Dogs, Tampa; One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg; Paw Paws Pet Boutique, Madeira Beach; Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg; Pet Food Warehouse, St. Petersburg; Pet Supplies Plus, Clearwater & Pinellas Park; and Wet Noses Boutique, Sarasota.