A Fur-Giving Gift Guide

Have you hit a roadblock on your holiday shopping gift list? Maybe you’re stuck on what to give a friend for Christmas. Well, if your friend has a dog, you’re in luck with suggestions from our Fur-giving Gift List. We’d also like to remind you that every one of the following businesses supports animal causes by donating food, money, time, and/or their services to various charities. Now, more than ever, they need our support and continued business.

Our friends at Cartoon Collections have a unique gift idea from their Customizable Cartoon collection, like this classic by Harry Bliss. Black gloss framed and matted 12×12 starting at $150. Click here to view the available prints and to order.

Customizable cartoon prints from Cartoon Collections.

FROM GIFT CERTIFICATES TO FUN STOCKING STUFFERS

Dog Lovers Tarpon Springs is celebrating with their 25 Days of Christmas sale. From treats to toys; accessories to supplements, they have everything for the discerning dog lover. Free curbside and delivery service available. Call for assistance and suggestions: 727.934.8756.

Stocking stuffer dog treats for your dogs? Find them at Dog Lovers Tarpon.

Dade City’s Dog-Mania & Cats store greeters Cole and Lilly will be happy to help you shop for your favorite fur-friend. The store also has gift items that can be personalized with engraving. Give them a call at 352.467.9622.

Be sure to say hello to Cole and Lilly, Dog-Mania & Cats store greeters.

Emerson’s Studio Store is tucked away in a cool cottage on Anna Maria Island’s Pine Avenue. Just walking through the doors of this place will put a smile on your face. Fun art pieces from aprons to cocktail napkins; t-shirts, hats and notecards; even hand-painted customized furniture. All for the fun at heart.

At Emerson’s Studio Store be prepared to laugh. Emerson will most likely start laughing with you.

A fun place for people-wear is South Tampa’s Imagine That Boutique. Owner Cheri Hudson and her staff will offer expert assistance, service and gift-wrapping. They have a fun selection of tees and tanks just for the dog lover on your list. Be sure to treat yourself to one as well.

The tees and tanks at Imagine That Boutique are oh-so-soft.

One Lucky Dog Boutique & Grooming continues to stock up on some of the most unique items for dogs and dog lovers. Their eye for quality and trendsetting design is exceptional. You have to check out their lines of collars, harnesses and leashes. We always say, a dog cannot have too many collars.

One Lucky Dog Boutique in St. Pete offers a wide array of beautiful collars.

You could give the gift of health for the dog of the dog-lover on your gift list. Take bone broth from Pawsitively Pure Dog Food. Perfectly packaged and shipped right to the recipient’s door, bone broth is one of the most healing foods we can feed our pets. We also love their Pure Paw Balm, by the way. This Florida-based company knows what they’re doing when it comes to the health and well-being of our dogs.

The paw balm is very soothing on human hands and feet as well (we know).

Pet Food Warehouse carries the fun shirt and accessory line, Teddy the Dog Apparel. Hoodies, classic long-sleeve and short-sleeve tees with funny quotes and illustrations. Pet Food Warehouse is also having a 20% off sale on Christmas toys, collars, harnesses and leashes. Shopping options include online, curbside or free delivery. Give them a call at 727.521.6191.

Make somebody’s day with a tee from Teddy, available at Pet Food Warehouse.

Shop Nature’s Food Patch in Clearwater and Dunedin for specials on pet food, treats, supplements, and supplies. Gift certificates are available too. A fun stocking stuffer idea: sign a friend up for a free Patch Perks membership card.

Sign somebody up for a free Patch Perks membership card. Cool stocking stuffer idea.

Another healthy gift-giving idea comes from Nature’s Pet Herbals. If you’re confused by all of the different CBD products for pets on the market, check them out, and even give them a call with your questions at 406.578.HEMP (4367). We’ve successfully used this product for our dogs’ anxiety during short or long car rides.

Nature’s Pet Herbals CBD line of products.

The Doggie Bag Boutique in Lakeland is an all-round fun store for every dog lover. No matter where you live, a trip here should be part of your shopping bucket list. They even have a section of brand new dog-themed children’s books. This store recently helped The New Barker secure a year’s worth of dog food for a gentleman in Polk County struggling, economically, to take care of his three small dogs. His dogs are his life. A special thank you to NutriSource Pet Foods.

What more can we say? We have the best advertising partners in the world.

Have you shopped at The Doggie Bag Boutique in Lakeland?

Dog Star, Be The Light

In this new year, let us all find ways to be the bright spot for someone else.

by Kerry Kriseman, for The New Barker

The tiny 10-week-old black Labrador puppy nuzzled my ear with knife-like baby teeth while her sweet puppy breath erased the scent of my Coco Chanel Mademoiselle perfume. Her mission the day we met Christie was to snuggle and be held, like any baby. Her life’s mission was to lead. It’s what she was born to do.

As I held her like a baby, with her pointy head resting over my left shoulder and her arms folded into my chest, I thought about her destiny. We didn’t name her. In their grief, our friends donated money to name her Christie to honor their 16-year-old niece who died from injuries sustained in a car accident. She had been an elite swimmer, and beloved daughter, sister, and friend. She was a leader among her peers, the kind of friend who responded to texts in the middle of the night when her friends were sad. She was compassionate and kind. 

Our Christie had big shoes to fill. For the next year, we loved her and trained her, hoping she would join the elite corps of Southeastern Guide Dogs that are matched with visually impaired individuals. She was to be ours for just a year before she returned to Southeastern Guide Dogs’ 23-acre campus in Palmetto, Fla., for her next phase of training. 

Christie was the seventh pup our family raised for Southeastern. She made us feel like we were the best raisers. As Mary Poppins said about herself: “She was practically perfect in every way.” Stay off the furniture? Check. Sit politely at the door before entering or exiting? Check. Stay when told? Check. Training Christie was effortless.

Every one of the roughly 60 commands she learned was for one purpose: to be someone’s eyes in a world that had gone dark. 

Sometimes, we are lucky enough to hear from the people who receive our dogs. They are resilience personified in an unkind world that robbed them of their vision. They describe their lives before blindness, how they lost their sight, what led them to get a guide dog. These dogs change lives even before they leave campus with their new forever friend. 

After Christie came home with us, I read about Christie the swimmer and how she impacted others’ lives through her altruism. Our Christie would someday to be the light in someone’s dark world. We were sure of it. 

Everyone says that returning the pup to Southeastern for advanced training is like taking your firstborn to college. What it really feels like is ripping a Band-Aid off the hairiest part of your arm. We wince, cry, and mourn. That was tough, but the news that Christie had torn her ACL and would need surgery, was worse. Her destiny was forever changed. She had to find a new purpose, just like the people whose vision is stolen from them. 

When I learned that Christie would not become a guidebecause of her injury, we jumped at the chance to adopt her. We loved having her as a forever family member, but we knew she needed a mission. While Southeastern designated her an Ambassador, which meant she might be called upon to appear at events to promote the organization’s mission,I wanted to do more with this pup who was still eager to learn and serve. I completed an easy course through Alliance of Therapy Dogs so that Christie could become a certified therapy dog. An application, background screening and interview at a park was all it took for Christie to become certified. 

To heal from her injuries, Christie had to be resilient.  And because of Covid-19, we too have had to be resilient. It has challenged all of us to adapt, adjust, learn, and heal. Itderailed our plans to visit hospitals and nursing homes this year, but it elevated the vital work of our frontline workers. They care for the sickest patients, many of whom suffer alone in hospitals because of the deadly virus. They put themselves first in dangerous situations.They are resilient. Day after day.

Christie and Kerry Kriseman

As a community, we must do what we can to honor these workers. The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg hosts Frontline Workers First Friday each month, in gratitude for the selfless work first responders perform. Christie and I will be at the Museum this Friday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., to greet and thank frontline workers. 

Animals, especially dogs, teach us more about resilience than any self-help book or Google search. Like the people Christie was born to serve, her destiny was changed the moment she took a wrong step while playing with her kennel mates. My dream for her was quashed. But we can always find a job to do, a way to be of service that helps others. 

In this new year, let us all find ways to be the bright spot for someone else, to shine the light when days are dark, and remain resilient in a world that never stops surprising us.

About Kerry: She is a communications professional in the non-profit arts industry. The Florida native lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband, City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, their two children, Jordan and Samuel, their two dogs, Christie and Jake, and their current puppy from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Hannah.

Stand Up and Cheer for the Underdog

How does a television show about animal rescue go from concept to completion? We interviewed two-time Academy Award-winning documentarian Bill Guttentag on the making of THAT ANIMAL RESCUE SHOW.

by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine

The entertainment industry has always been aware of the positive effect animals have on people. Some iconic movie examples include classics like Old YellerBambi and My Dog Skip, and remakes of The Call Of The Wild and Black Beauty.

The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship, positively influencing the health and well-being of both. In the docuseries, That Animal Rescue Show, the healing power of animals is the common thread in every species of animal showcased across all 10 episodes.

From Richard Linklater—the five-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Boyhood and School of Rock—and two-time Academy Award–winning documentarian Bill Guttentag, this heart-tugging series tracks the animal rescue community in and around Linklater’s hometown of Austin, Texas. 

The subject matter and gentle tone of That Animal Rescue Show are a bit of a departure for Guttentag’s body of work, which includes Twin Towers, Nanking, and The Last Days of Kennedy and King. He told the Hollywood Reporter, “I think when you see people rescuing animals and animals rescuing people, it’s still meaningful. It’s part of our relationship with the natural world. And in this time, when people are encroaching on animals more than ever, I think we should be focusing on our relationship with them. Animals are extremely therapeutic. They’re important and they literally change people’s lives.”

Bill Guttentag and his dog Pingo. Photo credit: Marina Brodskaya.

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Guttentag via a video conference meeting. The beauty of this technology is that it allows us to see one another; to capture emotions as we speak to people across the country. Bill always had a subtle, gentle smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes as he spoke about the animals in his latest project.

Anna: How does a concept go from light-bulb-over-the-head to a 10-part series about animal rescue?

Bill: A mutual friend introduced me to Rick Linklater. Rick has a pet pig named Dood, whom he adopted from Central Texas Pig Rescue. I thought, this is a real interesting world here, this world of pig adoption. Among other things, I learned about the whole issue around micro pigs, which is a myth. People think pigs stay small. Over a number of weeks, as Rick and I continued to talk, it became clear what an interesting place Central Texas Pig Rescue is, which we cover in episodes two and three in our series. 

But, there is a bigger world out there beyond pig rescue.  The series is more about how animals are rescuing people and people are rescuing animals. That’s where the human-animal bound is most profound.

Take Austin Pets Alive. The woman who runs it, Ellen Jefferson, came up through the ranks working at traditional animal shelters, where animals came into the shelter for a couple of days and then were euthanized for space. Ellen looked at the situation and wondered, why should it be this way? She became instrumental in creating Austin Pets Alive, now one of the largest no kill shelters in the country. Through their efforts, Austin Pets Alive has managed to save between 80,000 and 90,000 dogs and cats since 2008. And, their message is spreading across the country.

Anna: There is an obvious inspirational component to the series, which will hopefully motivate more people to become involved with rescue.

Bill: I think that stories like these really do inspire people, and give us hope. Another episode, Paws In Prison, is about women inmates who take in dogs from shelters. Most of the dogs have likely been scheduled to be euthanized. The inmates train and care for the dogs to make them adoptable. Right before your eyes, you see how the dogs are saving these women while the women work to save the dogs. It’s a really wonderful reciprocal relationship.

Pictured: Inmates and Catherine Laria of The Paws in Prison Program at the Lockhart Texas Correctional Facility on the CBS All Access docuseries THAT ANIMAL RESCUE SHOW. Photo Cr: CBS 2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Anna: Referring to that old W.C. Fields quote, “Never work with children or animals in film” did you have any doubts about creating a show around animals?

Bill: The beauty of working with animals is that they don’t take direction. Animals are very spontaneous and are going to do what they’re going to do. We were always surprised in good ways. We tried to capture them in the way that kept it all very authentic. You know, in filmmaking, you don’t really want people looking direct into the camera lens. But with animals, the whole idea is to see them at their level. So, we put the camera very low to the ground where you’re seeing the animal eye-to-eye. It was a little challenging for the camera person, especially when we were working with a small to medium size dog. But, it really looked good. It helped that everyone who worked on the series really loves animals.

Incidentally, most of the people who worked on the show are women and the main characters in the show are women. It’s a legitimate issue that people say there aren’t enough women in television. Well, here is a show that features women both in front of and behind the camera.

Anna: As you started researching stories, I’m sure you quickly realized the proliferation of inspirational stories about animals. How did you manage to narrow the subjects down for the series?

Bill: Yes, there are so many more stories. Rick said something to us which I thought was just great. He wanted to come up with 10 little documentaries that could all make it into Sundance Film Festival on their own. So, we narrowed the list down to the most compelling stories; the ones that really touched us – like more heart than head in a lot of ways. We were looking for a diversity of animals as well. We have a couple of episodes on pigs, a few on dogs. Cats factor into the show. We have a coyote episode and a goat episode. We have a couple of episodes on horses. We were looking for variety, in the same way that we didn’t want to do the entire series on pig rescue, we didn’t want to do an entire series on dog rescue. Although, my dog would have happily watched each episode on dogs. 

Rick and I just thought it would be interesting that every episode the audience tuned into would feature a different animal. And, hopefully for the viewer, they’re all compelling stories.

Anna: What’s the take away you hope to have conveyed to the audience? 

Bill: I hope people will connect with the show. There are a lot of pet owners in this country. But, that’s not reason enough to convince people to watch the show. We still, as filmmakers, have to deliver an emotional story in order to connect with our audience. One of the gratifying things about doing this series, is what I’m hearing from from people who are crazy about their dogs and people who don’t currently have pets. They have all told me that, while watching the series, they were able to really connect with our storytelling. So, I think there is something very profound about our relationships with dogs and cats and all animals, really. 

Anna: To get the idea off the ground and find support, how was it presented?

Bill: The entertainment industry is a combination of art and commerce. And, the art of it all is, ‘hey, this would be a pretty good series.’ Then, the question is, who’s going to do it? It turned out CBS All Access wanted to do it, which is a great home for the series. That connection came through our friend Julia Eisenman, who had a deal with CBS All Access and her production company. 

Once you say you’re going to do it, it’s like a startup in a way. You have this idea and you have someone backing you, but, you still have to deliver the product, in this case, the shows.

Anna: The entire series takes place in Central Texas, primarily Austin, completed in large part before the pandemic hit.

Bill: That’s right. We also used a lot of folks from Austin. There is a lot of Austin music in the show. I think around a hundred songs performed by Austin musicians. Again, we wanted to keep it authentic. I think too often a lot of people focus on the coasts for stories, as if the coasts are only places where things are happening. Austin is an enormously popular destination city and it’s not from coincidence. There’s a really rich culture, including Austin’s big music scene. There’s fantastic food. And, there are a lot of people who love and rescue animals. It was nice to be in a city like Austin to be filming. It’s a first rate city, and a first rate city to film in.

Anna: The show has an educational component as well.

Bill: Yes, and it’s presented in a warm, genuine way for a great experience. You’ll learn about the world of no kill shelters. You’ll learn about programs that help physically disabled children learn how to walk with the help of horses. You’ll learn that wildlife rescue is a growing phenomenon. You know, there was a time when people would swerve while driving to hit an animal on the road. Now, they pull over to rescue an injured animal. There are places like Austin Wildlife Rescue that rescue all manner of wildlife – whether it’s a hawk or a turtle or a coyote.

Anna: We’re finding our empathy in rescuing all manner of animals. There are more people who want to help rescue animals, but they aren’t aware of the resources available to help guide them.

Bill: We developed a website that correlates with the show that has more information. Where to take sick or injured wildlife for instance, and how to become a volunteer. (www.ThatAnimalRescueShow.com). The site has links to all of the rescue organizations featured in the series. It also has a way for people to look up local organizations by typing in their zip codes. 

Anna: Was there one thing that really struck you as moving, while filming the series or in editing?

Bill: In our first show, we feature a puppy without paws. We filmed the dog being fitted for prosthetics at the veterinary hospital. It was tough for this dog to adjust. The dog’s human companions were the most caring people, doing everything they could for the dog. With the prosthetics on, she was being encouraged to walk by a group of little girls. When the dog starts running and the girls start cheering, it’s just a beautiful moment.  Completely real. Completely authentic. It’s touching to see kids and animals interact. And, let me tell you, once you see the dog running with the prosthetics, it’s pretty clear that this dog is going to be okay.

Anna: In other episodes in the series, physically challenged children are encouraged by an animal’s resolve to overcome its own challenges.

Bill: Yes, that’s absolutely right. In our first episode, we meet Jamie Wallace. She and her family have a farm called Safe In Austin. There is a scene of a little boy who uses a walker with wheels. He encounters a dog in a wheelchair. There is something that really connects the two of them. Here’s a dog relying on wheels to get around, and here’s a little boy that gets around with the help of wheels. It’s quite touching, and very real. 

Ace and Francis meet for the first time in an episode of THAT ANIMAL RESCUE SHOW on CBS All Access.

Bill: You know, there are a lot of television shows presenting fake reality. Our show is real reality. Nayeema Raza, who is an executive producer on the show, has said that this show is so different in terms of tone from a lot of what we’re reading and consuming now. 

“So much of the content we’re consuming right now is about differences. I think this is really a show about the universal elements of humanity. There’s something equalizing when you know a story is real, and for us, there’s something equalizing when you see a human and animal rescue each other.”

Nayeema Raza

Anna: Everybody has a dog story. How about yours?

Bill: I have a three-year-old Labradoodle named Pingo. His name is derived from the Portuguese word for macchiato, which I’ve been known to enjoy, every now and then.

You know, like a lot of people in the world of COVID, I’m spending a lot more time in my home office. My life is definitely richer for having a dog sleeping at my feet while I work. Or, going out on walks with him on a regular schedule. I’m hearing similar stories from friends and associates. One of Pingo’s most endearing traits (I don’t know if all Labradoodles do this) is the way he sort of flops his paw over my arm when he’s sitting down.

All of this time at home has been great for the dogs, but I wonder if they’re going to be disappointed when we all head back to work, away from home. On the other hand, I’ll have had the experience all these months of spending extra time with him. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having to spend more time with their dog. 

These are unusual times, and this goes back to the show. None of us has ever lived through something like this. As a result, there is stress everywhere – in the political world, in the medical world, and just stress in general. I’d like to think we’ve created a show that is a bit of a balm for people; an escape from the stress and all of the anger. I hope the audience will be able to take a step back and see that this is a show about people and animals, and the profound relationships we have with each other. ###

Note: Guttentag directed the Paws In Prison episode, which was accepted by Sundance Film Festival. That episode was bound for the festival in Telluride when it was canceled due to COVID-19. 

Watch the trailer for That Animal Rescue Show here. 

Hear what Dr. Phil McGraw has to say about That Animal Rescue Show here.

Access That Animal Rescue Show at CBS.com/all-access

OUT OF DIFFICULTIES GROW MIRACLES*

by Anna Cooke

His name was Sam, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a savior of women’s spirits. Perhaps his backstory, whatever it was, only prepared him for what was right in front of him. Sam was adopted from the Humane Society of Pinellas County by a woman looking for a gentle, loving and loyal companion. Soon after, the woman and her dog moved into an assisted living facility. There were two levels of care for residents. Sam and his human, Sally, lived in one of the individual independent-living apartments on the peaceful property situated near the Bay.

In the apartment next door to them lived a woman from Puerto Rico who loved animals, especially cats and dogs. Her name was Milagros, and Sam and Sally became good friends with their good luck charm. Together they took long walks around the waterfront, especially enjoying the sunrises. They laughed at things only older women understand with years of life experiences tucked under their straw hats. Sometimes when Sally had to go to the hospital for several days, Milagros would take care of Sam.

One evening, while sitting on their adjoining front porches, Sally told Milagros that she would no longer be able to care for him. The details of why were left unspoken. Sally gave Sam to Milagros and asked them to take care of each other.

A few days later, Sam and Milagros watched from their front porch as their friend was taken away by ambulance. Attendants later cleaned out her apartment.

Sam and Milagros became inseparable. Walking around the grounds, they were a lovely sight for the other residents, greeting everyone with a human’s smile and a dog’s tail wag. They frequently visited the facility’s main lobby, meeting for coffee with the other dog lovers.

Sam was a lap dog, always right next to Milagros. They slept together and ate together. They watched television together, and she sang to him. Occasionally, he was her dance partner when an old favorite played on the radio. They thrived on their togetherness.

Sam whined incessantly when Milagros shut the door to her bathroom for even a few moments. Sometimes the whining escalated to screams while she was taking a shower, and he couldn’t see her from behind the shower curtain.

Once, a neighbor left an anonymous note on the windshield of the daughter’s car during a visit with her mother. The note accused Milagros of hurting Sam, and passed judgment on how she was caring for the dog, pointing out how long his nails were. “If you don’t do something, we will report you and your mother to animal services for animal abuse,” was the last line in the note.

Concerned for Sam’s health and her mother’s well-being, the daughter took them all for a visit with the family veterinarian. Maybe Sam was in pain from an undetected infection or perhaps a broken bone from a fall. Her mother would never intentionally harm Sam.

“Sam is fine,” assured the veterinarian. “We’ll just trim his nails. They’re really not that bad at all. I’m sorry you are having to deal with something like this, right now.”

As Alzheimer’s began to chip away the pieces of Mother’s brain, and subsequently her memory, the decision to find a memory care facility became priority. During one of her ever-increasing number of hospital stays, her doctor advised us that the facility should be secure, set up especially for residents living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other diseases of the brain. Mother had a tendency to wander, and she had become very good at figuring out locks on doors and windows.

Finally facing the truth of Mother’s health, one of the decisions that had to be made was what to do with Sam. He was staying with us – a family of two adults and four dogs, and he missed my Mother terribly. His mournful cries often rose to blood curdling screams if he was not in the same room with one of us. I understood, then, how a neighbor could think Mother was hurting Sam. The only time he was consolable was when one of us was sitting next to him. He could go without food, water and exercise, but not the feel of a human’s touch.

We moved Mom 10 times over an eight-year period as her illness progressed. When she was highly medicated, she often became combative with staff who did not understand the disease, or Mom. These outbursts would prompt another phone call, asking us to find another facility for her.

Every facility we moved her to did not allow pets, except the last one, where a lovable fat cat named Buddy resided. He was adopted from the Humane Society as well. Buddy would make his rounds every day, visiting with each of the residents who sometimes dispensed treats and always had a gentle hand. Buddy ended each of his days in bed with Mom, curled up inside the crook of her legs, softly purring.

After some experimentation, we figured out that taking Mom off most of her meds calmed her, bringing her back to her more recognizable self. I also believe Buddy was of great comfort to her, especially after her memory had almost completely faded away. There was always something familiar to Buddy’s soft fur and the rumbling of his purr.

Almost to the end, Mom would ask about a dog who managed to remain in her memory. Was he her dog? Where was he, and was he okay? She could not recall his name, but it didn’t matter. She would smile and laugh when I described Sam to her, sometimes stroking her lap as if he was sitting on it. Sometimes, it would be Buddy on her lap she was stroking, but I imagined she may have been remembering Sam.

Sam’s third human spirit he would take care of was a woman who was bed-ridden. He gladly took his place next to her so she could feel his soft, silky fur under her hand. Her family was grateful for Sam’s gentle demeanor and his ability to calm her.

Sam had enough unconditional love to share with three special ladies, arriving at just the right moment in each of their lives. Such is the purpose of dog.

*Quote used in headline by Jean de La Bruyere, a French philosopher (1645-1696).

I am forever grateful to Curlew Care of Clearwater for the kindness and love they showed to Mom and all their residents. I’m also grateful for shelters like the Humane Society of Pinellas who work with longterm care facilities. –Anna Cooke

Non-Anesthetic Dental Treatments: More Harm Than Good?

by Timothy Hodge, DVM

Dental disease in dogs is one of, if not the most, common disorders affecting our canine friends. By the age of three, 80% of all dogs have sufficient dental disease that warrants professional dental cleaning.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur with enough regularity to maintain good oral health. Many dogs suffer in silence as a result dental disease. Dental disorders, including plaque, tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease, infections, cavities, and tooth trauma, all affect the oral cavity. Dental disease also has significant implications for the rest of the body. The heart, kidney, respiratory system and brain are all impacted by diseases of the teeth and oral cavity. Professional dental treatments not only provide for a healthy oral cavity, but also the health of the body as a whole. So, the benefits of proper dental care far outweigh the risks.

All major veterinary organizations that provide treatment guidelines and recommendations have established that professional anesthetic dental cleanings are considered standards of care. To not use anesthesia with dental treatments is considered to be below the minimum appropriate level of care. Anesthesia is the only way a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment can be performed.

Many dog owners are aware of the importance of proper oral health and the need for dental treatments, but acceptance and compliance is low. Why is this?
In my experience, the fear of anesthesia is the number one reason why dogs, especially older ones, do not have proper dental treatments performed. While it does affect all dogs and all breeds, dental disease is prevalent primarily in older toy breeds. Costs and fees are generally less of a concern as most pet parents know how important this treatment is and plan accordingly. The key to preventing tooth loss is assessment and treatment. This is greatly limited with non-anesthetic dental treatments.

Non-anesthetic dental cleanings give pet owners a false sense of security into believing that they are doing what is best for their pet. However, in many cases, disease is left undetected and untreated. The pet suffers in silence until they can no longer tolerate the pain. By this point, the disease has progressed to where extraction of teeth is the only alternative. Other organs may now also be affected.

If disease is found early enough, treatments other than extractions are among available options. Tooth loss can be avoided with early, proper assessment and treatment, only achieveable if the pet is under anesthesia.

For non-anesthetic dental procedures, pets have to be restrained. This increases the risks that the pet may be injured by the restraint. Dental instruments can also cause mouth, head trauma or injury. It is most important to realize that the majority of dental disease lies below the gum line. This cannot be addressed effectively with non-anesthetic cleanings.

Cleaning only the surface of the tooth crown is a cosmetic procedure that offers no health benefits for the pet. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are not in the best interest of your pet’s health and well-being.

Age Is Not A Disease
Many pet parents become more concerned with anesthesia in their older dogs. This is especially true of small breed dogs. The time under anesthesia can be longer for older pets due to the level of disease and the necessity for more dental work. Treatment, early and often, is the key. Repeated anesthesia over the life of the pet does not impact longevity as was once the case with older anesthetic medications. Dental disease is not curable with a one-time
treatment. The disease is recurrent and progressive. Regular anesthetic dental treatments and cleanings can manage and stall dental disease.

Ensuring a safe and effective anesthetic dental cleaning and reducing the fear of pet parents, requires screening pets and providing individualized care. This allows us to ensure the safety of the pet and limit the time under anesthesia. We start with pre-anesthesia testing. At a minimum, a physical exam and lab testing to assess organ function are required. Pets with possible or known heart/lung disease may also need an EKG, chest radiographs and echocardiogram.

The anesthetic protocol is tailored to meet the needs of the individual pet. This will mean choosing the pre-anesthesia medications, drugs to induce anesthesia and maintenance gas that meet the needs of the pet. Each pet is an individual and needs to be treated as such.

Light Plane Of Anesthesia
The depth or level of anesthesia is kept to a minimum. The pet should be in a shallow plane of anesthesia as opposed to a deep plane of anesthesia. Local nerve blocs, just like with humans, can allow for better pain control, but still allow the pet to be as minimally sedated as possible. Light planes of anesthesia improve heart and lung function and blood pressure. Effective pain management, nerve blocks, injectable and oral pain medication allow for a lighter plane of anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications and speeding the recovery period. These are major factors in minimizing anesthesia concerns.

The concerns with anesthesia are greatly reduced with today’s modern ability to monitor the pet. Monitoring by an experienced and attentive technician or veterinary nurse is paramount. Monitoring machines are also very helpful. All pets will have pulse oximetry (oxygen levels in the blood), EKG, respiratory monitor, temperature monitor and blood pressure assessed during their entire time of anesthesia.

An IV catheter is always in place for fluid administration, helping maintain proper blood pressure, but also to flush drugs, medications and toxins via the kidneys, which also supports proper kidney function. As previously mentioned, anesthesia, by nature, can lower blood pressure. It can also lower body temperature. To address this, the pet must be warmed while under anesthesia. This requires external warmers such as blankets and warmed IV fluids. When the body temperature is kept as close to normal as possible, the rest of the body functions better, and recovery is quicker. An endotracheal tube with cuff is used on every patient to maintain an open airway and prevent water and debris from entering the trachea and lungs.

Recovery from anesthesia is one of the most important times of the entire procedure and is critical to a successful outcome. The pet is to be monitored until able to sit upright and breathe without the need for the endotracheal tube and swallow appropriately. Body temperature is monitored and the pet is warmed to maintain normalcy. While the pet is being monitored, any additional support is provided, if needed, such as additional pain medication, warming support, and nausea control.

The Big Take Home Message
First, talk to your veterinarian and veterinary team about their protocol for pre-anesthesia evaluation, lab testing, and treatment. Ask them how your pet will be monitored, what steps will be taken to adequately monitor your pet, and control pain and discomfort. Ask how your pet will be supported to limit
anesthetic complications and allow for safe, effective and proper dental care.

Timothy Hodge, DVM is the owner/practioner of Harbourside Animal Hospital and Cross Creek Animal Medical Center. Having completed his training at the Chi Institute, he provides acupuncture and herbal therapies in addition to traditional medical care.

Save Yourself Some Heartache

by Carol A. Marusak, VMD

You’ve promised the kids your family could get a Golden Retriever puppy. You’ve been looking for weeks and have finally found one at a pet store close to home. The kids and you go to pick up your new pup and excitedly bring him home. The next day, the new furbaby seems lethargic and has diarrhea. When he doesn’t improve, you take him to the veterinarian for a check up.

It turns out your new puppy has several types of intestinal parasites, and one called Giardia, is transmissible to humans. Wait! What? How can that happen? Well, according to Florida state law, it shouldn’t.

Florida has a law (FL Statutes 828.29 at leg.state.fl.us/statutes) known as the Pet Lemon Law to protect your rights. Whether you buy your puppy or kitten from a pet dealer or private breeder, the dog or cat must be at least eight weeks old, and you must receive an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. It must be signed by a veterinarian within 30 days of sale and will certify the pet has been vaccinated, dewormed and has had certain tests like a stool parasite exam and a feline leukemia/FIV test in cats.

If you purchase from a pet dealer (anyone selling more than two litters or 20 dogs or cats per year) they must provide you with a written notice advising you of your rights under the law. If you do not receive a Health Certificate, or the seller will not honor the statute, options include filing a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You may also contact your local law enforcement agency and request they file a complaint on your behalf for violation of Fl. Chapter 828.29. Your filed complaint will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s office.

If your vet finds that your pet was unfit for sale, you have the right to receive a refund for the purchase price, and reimbursement for reasonable medical costs. Alternatively, you may return the pet and receive an exchange animal plus reimbursement for reasonable medical costs. You may also decide to keep the pet and receive medical cost reimbursement.

Within two weeks of purchase, if your veterinarian examines your new pup and finds a disease or internal parasites, or within a year finds a hereditary or congenital disorder, you may be compensated. Reputable purebred dog breeders test for health issues in the parents before producing a litter.

The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a centralized canine health database. It maintains information on the health issues prevalent in specific breeds like hip dysplasia, cardia disease, and thyroid disease among many others. Anyone can look up health-tested dogs in their database. You will need the registered AKC name of the puppy’s parents.

Many pet stores obtain their puppies for sale from puppy mills. Do your homework and investigate before making such an important and long term decision. Reputable breeders do not sell their puppies to pet retail stores.

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding operations that place profit over the health and well-being of the breeder dogs and litters of puppies. The two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in puppy mills: 1) pet retail stores that sell puppies; 2) the internet. In 2018, an investigation by the Florida Department of Health identified pet store puppies as the source of an outbreak of Campylobactor infections which was passed by puppies to 118 people across 18 states.

Veterinarians are advocates for the animals. We take an oath to protect animal health and welfare, and to prevent or relieve animal suffering. The Certificate of Veterinary Inspection gives us a tangible way to ensure pups are physically healthy before starting their life with a new owner.

It’s so easy to fall in love with a new puppy. By the time the puppy has had it first vet visit, the new owners have already bonded with the puppy.
As a veterinarian, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to diagnose genetic or
congenital problems during a new puppy exam, which requires the owner to have to make difficult and painful decisions. Please do your research before buying a puppy from a responsible breeder, and know your rights. Make sure you receive that Certificate of Veterinary Inspection health certificate.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may be reached at 1.800.435.7352 or visit their website: 800HelpFLA.com

Carol A. Marusak, VMD owns and operates All County Animal Hospital in Brooksville. She became certified in veterinary acupuncture in 2001 and has training in herbal medicine. In 2015, Dr. Marusak completed her training in Veterinary Chiropractic and offers this service to her patients.
All County Animal Hospital
645 Ponce De Leon Blvd. Brooksville
352.796.6788 AllCountyAH.com

Photograph of a litter of healthy Corgi puppies by Kim Longstreet, DogStreet Pet Photography.

This Is Life

by Anna Cooke

It’s an imposing structure looking down on patrons and staff of The Dog Bar. Everyone’s curiosity had been piqued by the large blank concrete wall over the last month or so. The City of St. Petersburg is known for a lot of things, not the least of which the murals on buildings across town. So, up until a couple of weeks ago, questions remained unanswered. Would a mural be painted on the Grand Central Brewhouse wall, after all? And if so, what would it be and who would paint it?

Then Kevin Milkey, the owner of Grand Central Brewhouse, walked over to talk with his neighbor Fred Metzler, the owner of The Dog Bar. “We’re going to have an artist paint a mural on the wall, and, we’re thinking it should be a dog. What do you think?”

Fred didn’t have to verbalize his answer. The smile on his face said it all.

Grand Central Brewhouse broke ground late last year. It was an ambitious concept which will, no doubt, have to adapt to the current times when it opens. The craft beer taproom and second-story, outdoor roof terrace was designed to hold 250 people inside and out. The microbrewery and open-air beer garden will be able to hold another 375 guests.

The Dog Bar opened in 2016. They have a loyal following of customers who bring their dogs to socialize at the membership-only 5,000 square foot dog park and bar. Making adjustments to keep the successful business running safe and smooth has always been an important part of Fred’s Plan A.

Still, the effects of the pandemic, which resulted in the temporary closing of the business earlier this year, has taken an emotional toll on the gregarious owner. “My main concern has always been our employees. We’re family and my job, right now, is to make sure they’re all taken care of, to the best of my ability,” Fred said.

Hindsight is 2020 and boy, the irony of that statement does not go unnoticed by Fred. When he applied for his business license years ago to open The Dog Bar, the city insisted he obtain a restaurant license as well. “I didn’t want it. Having a restaurant was not ever part of my original concept,” said Fred. “But, I reluctantly went ahead and got the restaurant license too.”

Recently, the state of Florida updated their ever-changing regulations that oversee the opening and closing of businesses during the pandemic. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations said that those bars with food licenses would be allowed to re-open over the 4th of July weekend. Slowly but surely, The Dog Bar has  been able to reopen, thanks to that restaurant license, and customers are returning.

It’s been a welcome diversion for everyone at The Dog Bar to watch local fine artist Carrie Jadus paint the mural of a dog on the wall of Grand Central Brewhouse. Carrie was part of the original SHINE Mural Project, a project that “transformed the city streets into a curated, open-air museum showcasing large scale murals painted by world-renowned artists in downtown (St. Petersburg) and surrounding art districts”  (St. Pete Art Alliance). She was also commissioned to paint a cover of The New Barker dog magazine in 2016 as part of a fundraising campaign for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The cover opportunity raised $12,000 for HSTB in 2015. Carrie donated her work, a portrait of Karma the Greyhound, to the family who placed the winning bid.

Karma, by Carrie Jadus

Having previously worked with Kevin Milkey on another project, Carrie jumped at the chance to work with him again on the Grand Central Brewhouse wall. Her design, concept and proposal won Kevin over, and Carrie was awarded the project.

As with all of her paintings, Carrie put a lot of thought into the meaning behind her concept for the Grand Central Brewhouse mural. She knew she wanted to incorporate a local dog, and asked her friend and fellow artist Marianne Wysocki if her dog Bodhi could be the subject. “Bodhi is somewhat of a local celebrity,” said Carrie, smiling.

The title of her mural is “Awakening Bodhisattva.” It’s a double entendre, explained Carrie. In the artist’s rendering, Bodhi is waking up. The definition of Bodhisattva is, “A Being who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings.”

“Bodhi is a very Zen being,” said Carrie, who used a photograph of Bodhi to paint the original small version which she uses as a guide to paint the mural. She estimates it will take a total of two weeks to complete the mural.

Homer, Carrie’s own dog, has been coming along with her while she works on the project, which she began on Wednesday, August 12. Homer watches in the shade, a bowl of water by his side, as Carrie commandeers the motorized scaffolding 30 feet up to begin painting. He whimpers as he watches her go up and away from him.

“It’s always kind of scary going up the first day. I’m wobbling around in it a bit. But, I get used to it. In the evenings, though, my legs are still a bit wobbly, much like the feeling of rocking and swaying after being on a boat.”

Carrie will remain up in the scaffold, painting for three hours at a time, coming down only occasionally to check on her work’s  perspective. It’s very abstract painting on such a large canvas that happens to be the wall on the side of a building.

“I have to focus on one spot of the painting at a time and trust the small scale painting I’m working from to transpose the image on the wall,” she said. Still, there is doubt sometimes, especially working so close to the painting. In her studio, Carrie explained, she is able to step back to look at a painting. Working from a scaffold so high up, it’s not productive to keep going up and down to check her work. When she does come down to see the progress, she’s always surprised by what she sees.

Life has always been unpredictable. The pandemic has made us all more acutely aware of this. “All we have is right now; this moment,” reiterated Fred Metzler.

To be able to do something that continues to positively surprise us every single day is the one gift we should give ourselves. “Painting is my favorite thing to do in the world,” Carrie told me. “I can’t even think of a better life.”

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Below are photos of Carrie working on the mural at Grand Central Brewhouse. Also check out St. Petersburg, Florida’s 90+ SHINE Murals from your phone or computer by clicking this link to St. Pete Arts Alliance Shine Mural Festival

Awakening Bodhisattva, in progress. By fine artist Carrie Jadus.

 

In High Tide Or Low Tide, I’ll Be By Your Side

By Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine

Robert E. Vierck was a Vietnam Veteran, having served in the United States Navy from 1964 to 1968. During the last few years of his life, he lived on a sailboat behind the C. W. (Bill) Young VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Life on the water brought him some joy. The proximity of his floating home to the VA Medical Center provided easy access for his medical needs. His only family was Arrow, a dog, who lived on the boat with him.

Ron Bittaker, co-owner of Paws Inn Paradise, a dog daycare and boarding facility in Pinellas Park, Florida is known for his big heart, especially when it comes to dogs and veterans. It’s not unusual for the folks who work at the VA Medical Center to call on Ron when they have a special situation that involves a dog. Sometimes it’s to provide temporary boarding for the dog while the veteran undergoes surgery or some other medical treatment that requires a brief stay in the hospital. Other times, it may be long term, for when a veteran is in the care of hospice.

Ron graciously and unceremoniously provides this as a service to the men and women who have served in the military. More often than not, many of the veterans who need this  type of assistance are not in a financial position to pay for boarding. Keeping families together and dogs out of shelters are two priorities for Ron and his staff. Many people who work or volunteer in dog rescue already know this about Ron.

When Mr. Vierck was unexpectedly admitted to the VA hospital, he left Arrow behind on his boat. After being called by the VA, Ron took his dinghy out to the sailboat to assess the situation. Arrow was the boat’s protector and did not take kindly to a stranger floating around the perimeter.

Every day for three weeks, Ron returned to the sailboat to feed Arrow. “I just put the food up on the boat, never actually boarding the boat.” 

The day after a line of storms moved off the Gulf across the Tampa Bay area, Ron anxiously visited the sailboat, only to find it capsized. Arrow was still on the boat, unharmed. Ron put in a call to Boat US, then determined that Arrow would need to be sedated in order to safely remove her from the boat.  She was still guarding her home. 

Arrow willingly took the hotdogs. Then Ron and his nephew Andy waited for the drugs to take effect. “Once Arrow was out, we lifted her off the boat and immediately took her to Medicine River Animal Hospital, where she was seen by Dr. Shauna Green,” said Ron. 

In the meantime, Boat US was on its way to the scene of the capsized boat with not one, but two boats to assist. It took a total of six hours to bail out the water and finally right the boat. Sadly, the weathered old boat had seen better days. Boat US refused to take any money for their work when they found out about the its owner.

Ron received word that Mr. Vierck was in hospice. Arrow was being well cared for by the Paws Inn Paradise staff, an obvious relief to Mr. Vierck.

The hospital does not allow dogs to visit patients, unless they are certified therapy or service dogs. An exception was made for Arrow after Ron made a few phone calls. Mr. Vierck was happy to see his dog and Arrow made it clear to everyone that the feeling was mutual. She smiled and wagged her tail the whole time.

The following day, Ron received word that Mr. Vierck had passed away. He listed Ron as his family. “He actually had a son with whom he was estranged, and we sent a certified letter to the son’s last known address in Washington state. We never received a response,” said Ron. “I made a promise to Bob that we would take care of Arrow and find her a good home.”

Eventually, Arrow was adopted by a Clearwater family. Soon after, as a companion for Arrow, they adopted Jesse, another sort-of celebrity in her own right. At only eight weeks old, Jesse was discovered injured and abandoned in an Orlando Home Depot shopping cart. Racing 4 Rescues fostered and nursed her back to health.

Recently, Ron recalled his memory of that experience with Mr. Vierck. “We went from being complete strangers to becoming good friends, brought together by a need to help his dog.”

The Faith Of Dogs

by Anna Cooke

When his beloved dog Chalky became old and frail, Andrew Heyes and the dog’s veterinarian both knew it was time. Chalky and Andrew had lived together in England for nearly 20 years. “We, the doctor and I, both cried about it. As far as I was concerned, Chalky was to be my last-ever dog. Ever!” said Andrew. “I just didn’t ever want to feel that wretched emptiness again.”

A couple of months later, Andrew received a phone call from the same veterinarian. A stray dog was brought in by police after being hit by a car. “He’s in very bad shape—starved and weak. Normally I’d pass him on to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), but he’ll take up too many resources and more than likely be put to sleep,” Dr. Duncan told Andrew.

“Okay, I’ll come over and take a look, but as I’ve said, I’m not thinking about having a dog right now,” replied Andrew, who had gotten quite comfortable with a dog-free regimen. “I needn’t be worrying about getting home to walk the dog.” Still, he collected his car keys, along with Chalky’s old collar and leash. Though his mind was not quite  committed, in his heart, the dog had already found a home.

At the veterinarian’s office, the dog, part Doberman with the markings of a Lurcher, was encouraged to walk to Andrew, doing so in fear. “When he came to me and lifted his head, I found myself looking into the most trusting, beautiful eyes I had ever seen,” said Andrew, who announced the dog’s name would be Toby. “I had no idea where the name Toby came from. It just popped into my head.”

Soon after adopting Toby, Father Andrew found himself up against a deadline as editor of his Church’s parish magazine. He had not yet written his column “From the Vicar’s Keyboard.” Drawing a complete blank about what to write, he looked down at his new canine partner and said, “Toby, I’m really stuck here. I’ve no idea what to write about. Have you any ideas?”

Father Andrew soon discovered that Toby “voice” had a different slant on the world. Toby could say things (and get away with them) that Father Andrew couldn’t. Toby and Father Andrew were together in three parishes across two continents, including the United States. Toby continued writing his column From the Dog’s Paw for the various parish publications Andrew oversaw, including The Anchor for Tampa’s St. Clement’s Episcopal Church. Toby would be the first of Father Andrew’s three dogs to receive writing credits in the parish magazines.

After Toby died in September 2008, Father Andrew adopted another Doberman. Barney was six years old and had no clue as to the legacy he was expected to follow. He was a completely untrained dog, whose favorite bad habit was counter surfing.

Where Toby was a gentleman, well-versed in the Bible, theology and world events, what could Father Andrew possibly expect of a younger, non-church-schooled dog? Well, it turns out Barney was quite prolific during the three years he and Andrew were together.

Barney’s Bytes appeared in The Anchor until his death on August 5, 2012. “He just dropped dead after our morning walk,” Andrew recalled, still affected by the memory. Barney suffered from Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart disease known to be common in Dobermans. “Barney was a wonderful companion, and with his friendly disposition and playfulness, the best possible ambassador for the Doberman breed,” said Father Andrew.

Heartbroken again, Father Andrew vowed, “Never, ever will I have another dog. Ever!” Father Andrew’s heart was much stronger than his mind allowed him to believe. “Deep down, I knew it would eventually happen, but I thought it would be later than sooner.”

The red Doberman was only around a year old when he was found wandering in Miami, and picked up by the police. He was placed with Doberman Rescue of Lake Placid, where he lived for several months. The rescue group named him Toby. 

“When I met him, it was clear he had been traumatized. He was afraid of everything and had scars from cigarette burns on his body. His tail had been badly docked, causing him discomfort as well,” Andrew said. They drove home together that same day.

In a December 2012 column for The Anchor, Father Andrew wrote, “He will not be a Toby or a Barney. He will be Winston, a dog whose character will be as unique as each of ours. What his voice will be I do not yet know. We can be sure that, having just come from Doby-puppyhood and now being in the Doby-adolescent phase, Winston might have an attitude many parents of teenagers might recognize. At least he won’t ask to borrow the car.” Winston’s column was named Words of Winston.

What Father Andrew loves about the Doberman is their independence. “They just don’t seem to care. And, they’re really goofy as well as loyal,” he said. “Dogs are a conduit, especially in instances where people are troubled by something and want to talk, but are uncomfortable doing so,” added Father Andrew. “I noticed, early on, people would talk to the dog. If I responded, they would shut down. So, I kept quiet, and let them continue talking to the dog.”

Father Andrew added, “Having a dog in one’s life teaches many things, but perhaps the greatest lessons are to do with how to live one’s life, and also how to die. Even now, when I remember my faithful companions, I still feel the ache of loss. Reason tells me that this is natural, because they have shorter lives. Reason also tells me that the easy way to avoid such heartache is by simply not having the cause of it in my life. Oh, I have tried, but my ‘success’ has always been short-term. My love of the four-legged fur ball who makes demands on me, ultimately trumps the loss I know I shall one day feel.”

Father Andrew Heyes was born near Manchester, England in a town called Hyde. Growing up, he was lead singer and guitarist in a local rock band. Eventually he attended college to earn an honors degree in Theology and Religious Studies, then undertook post-graduate studies in theology which led to his ordination in the Church of England. He arrived at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Tampa in November 2006, became an American citizen in 2013 and continues to play guitar. Winston continues to assist with the Church’s magazine. He and Father Andrew take multiple breaks throughout the day just to enjoy nature across St. Clement’s campus. Father Andrew can often be heard saying, “There are no such things as coincidences. Only God-incidences.”

One Good Thing Leads To Another

by Anna Cooke – This feature first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of The New Barker Dog Magazine.

One year, out of the blue, 15-year-old John Patrick asked his parents for an English Bulldog as a Christmas present. With his sister Sarah looking on, their parents, Jo-Ann and John Lefner said no, citing the family’s current dog, a rambunctious Yellow Lab named Jake, as exhibit number one in support of their argument. The young man quietly left the room. His parents looked at one another, wondering about their son’s curious request. This, from a most giving child who himself had never really asked for anything. How could they deny him?

And so it was that a little brindle English Bulldog puppy entered the lives of the Lefner family, instantly finding a place in each of their hearts (except maybe Jake’s). They named him Dauber after coach Dauber Dybinski, a character in Coach, a popular television series at the time.

Dauber was not long for this world, passing away just a few months later at the age of one. The whole family was so devastated they could not even process the thought of bringing another dog into their fold. Even Jake, the Yellow Lab, seemed out of sorts. But, we don’t find dogs. It seems, when the time is right, they find us.

One afternoon, Jo-Ann was watching domestic diva Martha Stewart on television. Martha has a signature closing at the end of every show. “It’s a good thing.” Those words never rang more true for Jo-Ann than right at that moment.

“This family,” she thought to herself, “needs a good thing, right now.”

Just then, Jo-Ann’s telephone rang. It was Dauber’s breeder. “I have a litter of Bulldog puppies, and there is one that I think would be perfect for you and your family,” she told Jo-Ann.

And so it was that a second little English Bulldog entered the Lefner’s lives and, once again, stole their hearts. Jake took one look at his new housemate and glared up at Jo-Ann with a wrinkled brow as if to say, “What have you done to me now?” They named the English Bulldog puppy Martha Stewart, and she would lovingly torment Jake the rest of his days.

Over the years, the Lefners and their dogs would travel from their home in New York to spend their winters in Charleston, North Carolina. Jo-Ann and Martha Stewart would take walks, visiting the many beautiful parks. While most of the parks allowed leashed dogs, Jo-Ann found that they weren’t really very dog-friendly. There were no water stations or designated places to dispose of dog waste. Soon Jo-Ann and Martha Stewart became crusaders for improving Charleston’s dog parks, successfully campaigning for these and other amenities.

Fast forward a few years. Martha Stewart (the domestic diva) was being released from prison after having served a five-month term for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Ever the marketing maven, she had a quirky idea for her first television show following her incarceration. Why not have a program featuring everyone they could find named Martha Stewart?

The staff Googled “Martha Stewart” and found 167 women, and one English Bulldog, all named Martha Stewart. The internet’s search engine found Martha Stewart, the 10-year-old English Bulldog, via stories about the Charleston dog park campaign.

“Having a dog named Martha Stewart, well, you can imagine the crank calls we had endured from friends and family over the years,” Jo-Ann explained. “Questions like ‘what is Martha Stewart cooking up for dinner tonight?’”

Jo-Ann recalled the evening she received the phone call from someone claiming to be a producer with the Martha Stewart Show. She and John were having friends over for dinner.

“We were in the kitchen, and I picked up the phone to hear someone tell me they were from the Martha Stewart Show. They asked me if I had an English Bulldog by the name of Martha Stewart.”

Jo-Ann immediately thought it was one of her friends joking around, and responded accordingly with a sarcastic answer. Suddenly, she realized that the person on the other end of the phone was serious.

“No, really. I am a producer for the show, and we want your dog to be on Martha Stewart’s first show of her new season,” the woman told Jo-Ann.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They wanted our Martha Stewart to be on the Martha Stewart Show?”

They were flown, all-expenses paid to New York to be on the show in 2006.

“My dog, Martha Stewart went to hair and make-up and Martha Stewart, the star of the show, baked dog cookies for her,” smiled Jo-Ann.

The fame never went to Martha Stewart’s head (the dog, that is).

In December 2010, Jo-Ann Lefner opened a boutique on Anna Maria Island and named it after the family’s fourth English Bulldog, Bella. Regulars loved seeing Bella at the store. Over the years, The New Barker co-hosted a couple of fundraising events at the store in support of animal advocacy, including Florida English Bulldog Rescue.

After 10 successful years, Jo-Ann has decided to close Bella by the Sea Home Boutique. She made her decision just after the first of the year and long before the pandemic crisis. After years of sitting on various Boards, supporting community activities and going to market for her store, Jo-Ann is looking forward to visits with her children and grandchildren.

“It’s time to sit back, enjoy life, and think about my next new adventure,” said Jo-Ann.