Another Year Older.

We have been creating The New Barker dog magazine for 10 years. It’s been an amazing journey.

To All The Dogs We’ve Loved & Lost. And Those We’ve Never Met. A Journey Of Hope, Happiness, Heartbreak & Healing.

The 10-year anniversary edition of The New Barker is in distribution and being mailed to subscribers. It is hard to believe that ten years ago, December 2006, we produced the first edition of the print magazine during a time when 155 new magazine titles were created; a time when the demise of print was being predicted.

While the decline of print continues to be argued (ironically in newspapers and business publications), a total of 862 new magazines were launched in 2013 “with a courageous repudiation to their critics,” said Samir Husni, Ph.D., also known as Mr. Magazine. Husni featured The New Barker in one of his 2016 weekly interviews.

“There is a tangible connection between myself and magazines. I don’t choose them, they choose me, so the living and breathing passion that I have felt for magazines over the last 30 years has instilled within me an innate ability to meld with ink on paper,” said Husni. He looks for a magazine’s ability to engage an audience through photography, undeniable style and noteworthy content. As the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, School of Journalism, he is widely considered to be the country’s expert on magazines.

Our editorial philosophy, here at The New Barker has always been to focus on feel-good lifestyle stories about people and their dogs. Unfortunately, one of the first harsh realities we faced while developing feature stories was discovering the number of shelters in Florida. The open intakes (many of which are high kill shelters), the limited intakes, the privately-run and/or county-run shelters. Look further, and there is a huge contingent of breed-specific rescue groups, SPCA and Humane Society organizations that are all independently-operated. There is no connection, other than name association, between the national organizations and the local shelters in our communities.

Someone once told me that a new shelter could open down the street from another, and within a week, it would also be full of abandoned, unwanted dogs and cats. Why? Why do more shelters keep opening and filling up? Why are so many adoptable dogs and cats euthanized? Where are the people who supposedly want to adopt them? With all of this presented before us, some people actually believe that the pet overpopulation problem is a myth, taking the No Kill movement’s information out of context. Pose any of these questions to a shelter employee and you’re likely to receive a cold shoulder. It’s a tough business, running a shelter, and understandably, some become defensive. Yet, the public shouldn’t be bullied into not asking important questions.

There are plenty of opinions on how to fix the problem, some extreme. While we’re arguing which solution is right, 10,000 healthy, adoptable dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are euthanized every day in this country. Extreme solutions or not, no matter how we get there, we all want the same things: to stop the needless killing of adoptable dogs and cats — and increase the number of adoptions.

Over the last 10 years, The New Barker has donated close to $200,000 in money, in-kind advertising, goods and services to Florida shelters, rescue groups and animal advocacy programs. This, and the magazine’s very existence, are made possible because of three very important elements: First, and foremost, our advertising partners. The New Barker is 100 percent advertiser-supported. Second, our wonderful team of independent photographers, graphic designers, and rover reporters who have been with us almost since our first year. And last, but certainly not least — you, our gentle readers. We love hearing from you — your opinions, your story ideas, your passion. Thank you to each and everyone of you, without whom this would not be possible. It has been an incredible journey.

The photo on the left, taken by professional photographer Laura Allen in 2006, was for the very first issue’s Editor Unleashed column. It ran for several years until we adopted Dougie, the Scottish Terrier, from Dunedin Dog Rescue. Laura, again, took the photo. We set up at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin. In the past year, we have lost Zoe (the blond Cockapoo) and Chloe (the black and tan Cockapoo). They each lived with us for 18 years.


10-year Anniversary edition of The New Barker dog magazine. Cover title: The Dog in Pink, by Myakka City artist Evelyn McCorristin Peters. Every cover of The New Barker has featured an original work of art by a different artist.

We’re In Love With A Jersey Girl (In Florida).

Doric Stancher of New Jersey with Wheaten Terriers Charlie (left) and Krista (right).
Dorice Stancher of New Jersey with Wheaten Terriers Charlie (left) and Krista (right).

The AKC National Championship competition is in Orlando this weekend. The New Barker has a couple of our lucky dog rover reporters covering Conformation, Agility, Obedience, Meet the Breeds and Dock Diving. A family from New Jersey is in town competing in the dock-diving trials and it appears the trip will have been well worth it. Dorice Stancher traveled with her two Wheaten Terriers, Charlie and Krista for the Nationals.

Krista has been up against some stiff competition this week involving around 30 dogs – Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and an Old English Sheepdog. There seems to be a large concentration of Wheaten Terrier fans in Orlando and they all showed up to cheer on Krista. “No other dog of her breed has ever competed in diving events before,” said Dorice. “She’s something of a trailblazer.”

It’s actually a miracle that Krista is even in Florida competing at all. She pulled a tendon in her right rear leg – the leg she pushes off with in diving. She spent four days in a cast to immobilize the injured leg in November. Treatment included massages and physical therapy. On Wednesday, Krista, our Jersey girl, won a first-place ribbon during warm-up trials. Stay tuned.

Florida Dog Changes A Life In Alaska.

Erik Babb and his service dog Matai. Photo by John Budnik.
Erik Babb and his service dog Matai. Photo by John Budnik.

After serving two lengthy deployments in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Erik Babb medically retired in 2010. He lost a lot of friends during the war, and now struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.  When he began working at the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Babb acknowledged he was broken. However, he did not seek help right away. Instead, he self-medicated with alcohol and energy drinks.

When the WTU shut down because of budget constraints, Babb accepted a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Alaska District’s Contracting Division. His concerned colleagues urged Babb to seek help through the VA. “The VA in Alaska has never failed me,” Babb said. “Even working with a guy like me. I chewed up their interns.”

Babb continued to harbor thoughts of suicide even after going through a 40-day inpatient program in Tacoma, Washington.  A former supervisor, Robin Norby, suggested Babb look into adopting a dog to help him deal with people, crowds and life. Stubborn, Babb refused to embrace the idea, until a defining moment. One day, on his way to an appointment, Babb was noticeably depressed. A coworker from the Corps stopped him, hugged him and reminded him that someone always cared.

Babb began researching service dogs through many resources and organizations. He was looking and hoping to find a dog that was hypoallergenic since his wife suffered from allergies. When he found out the cost of obtaining a service dog, he was discouraged, but refused to give up.

From Florida, Duke Snodgrass reached out to Babb via a telephone call after receiving his email. Snodgrass is the executive director and founder of 832 K9’s Deputy Dogs in Inverness. He and his wife Angela founded the organization 10 years ago in honor of their son Kody, a police officer and K9 handler with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Kody’s badge number was 832.  In 2001, Kody died in a motorcycle accident.

“Kody loved Bloodhounds. Ever since he was a kid he wanted to raise them. We founded the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation and began raising, training and placing Bloodhounds with sheriff departments in his honor,” said Snodgrass.  “Kody always used to say that there is no excuse for a child to go missing, not when there was a Bloodhound around,” said Snodgrass. 832 K9’s Deputy Dogs has placed more than 200 dogs with law enforcement agencies across the country. They provide the dogs at little to no cost to the agencies. It costs anywhere between $10,000 to $15,000 to raise and train the dogs, which includes working with the K9 officers.

Deputy Snodgrass and K9 Jimmy.


Listening to Babb on the phone, Snodgrass knew he wanted to help him. “I could tell that he was genuine, and could relate to some of the things he was going through. On some of the work we do with the Bloodhounds, looking for missing or abducted children, I’ve had some nightmares too. Not as deep as Erik’s, but stuff that I do not want to remember,” said Snodgrass.

832 K9’s Deputy Dogs was able to donate a Portuguese Water Dog to fulfill Babb’s needs.

Babb flew to Tampa to meet Snodgrass and the dog, who instantly jumped to greet him. “I felt like it was Christmas,” said Babb. “I almost cried. What had I done to really deserve this? I know there are others who are in worse shape.”

Inspired by his wife’s ancestry, Babb named his dog Matai, which means “chief” in Samoan.  Matai is being trained to recognize symptoms of anxiety and tension in Babb, reminding him to be calm by tapping his foot or rubbing up against him. The dog will also wake Babb from nightmares. The pair is going through basic and specialized training.

“One thing Duke asked me to do was to pay it forward in life,” said Babb. “To take any opportunity to stop and listen to a young man or woman in need.”

Snodgrass has admitted that he had “a real problem with God” after his son’s death. He now realizes there was a bigger purpose in the tragedy. “It’s Kody’s living legacy. I come up to the cemetery to see him every day. He’s looking down at us and smiling,” said Snodgrass.

Duke Snodgrass with James Bond 007. Photograph by Stephen Coddington.
Duke Snodgrass with James Bond 007. Photograph by Stephen Coddington.


Proof Positive: Florida Has Indeed Gone To The Dogs.

For the picky eater, dogs now have their own grocery store in Miami.

dfd_platesMichael O’Rourke first started cooking for Ripley as soon as his girlfriend brought the dog home. “Ripley was an extremely picky eater, which made me start to cook her food,” said O’Rourke.

Miami is ranked among the most pet friendly cities in the U.S. Armed with that knowledge and his desire to start his own business, O’Rourke moved to Miami  from Los Angeles, and has just opened a retail store called Dishes For Dogs on North Miami Avenue. Not only can customers come in to order their dog’s food, which is prepared in full view, the canine kitchen has also formed partnerships with dog-friendly  Shooters Waterfront, Glass & Vine and Mister Block Cafe to provide dog meals for patrons dining with their dogs. They are also negotiating a deal with Kimpton Hotels in Miami.


The company’s website describes the dog food as being prepared fresh using whole food to create the nutritionally balanced meals. O’Rourke partnered with Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who specializes in home prepared diets for pets, to help develop the recipes for Dogs For Dishes.

That’s Some Serious Cooking For Dogs.

While a storefront that sells only homemade dog cuisine is pretty unique, including dog dishes on restaurant and hotel menus is actually not a new concept. TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach provides a doggie room service menu from the PAW Court Bistro as part of their Pet Friendly Package. Sweet Sage Cafe on North Redington Beach offers up items like the French Poodle, Three Dog Night and Wake Up Little Shih Tzu on their Canine Cuisine menu. In Dunedin (aka DogEdin), it’s no surprise to dog lovers that many restaurants include a dog dining menu, including The Honu Cafe and The Living Room on Main.

So many choices at Dishes For Dogs.