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.

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.”

The Captain And His Queen Of The World

By Anna Cooke. This story first appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of The New Barker.

Gliding through marshes and wetlands and leaning into the airboat’s every turn felt like a bird skimming the water in mid-flight. We sat up high in one of the two seats and sped across the water. It was both exhilarating and a little scary.

Remember the scene from the movie Titanic, when Jack and Rose are at the bow of the boat? Jack shouted, “I’m king of the world,” and convinced Rose to let go of the rail as the ship clipped through the ocean. But this was not the movies and there were no icebergs on our horizon. Fortunately, the very capable Captain Kevin Roderiques was at the helm, and he knew this was a first-time experience for his passenger. Still, I did not believe I would be letting go of the airboat’s rails anytime soon.

Handing over a set of dual-purpose headphones (sound-dampening and
microphone-equipped for conversation), Roderiques could see his passenger’s trepidation. His sixth sense as a law enforcement professional was spot-on.

“You’re not going to do some kind of 360 rollover like the Blue Angels do to a newbie in mid-flight are you?” I asked. His answer, a simple ‘no’ without an ounce of sarcasm in his voice, was reassuring through the headphones. It was also reassuring to know that we would be able to converse without yelling.

Another calming bonus was that Shey, a black Labrador Retriever, was accompanying us. This beautiful, shiny dog was not along just for the ride, however. In addition to showing off her prowess at remaining upright on all fours as the airboat angled every which way, Shey would be demonstrating her skills as a certified search and rescue K9. She works with the Florida-3 Airboat Search and Rescue Team (FL3ASAR), and has been cross-trained for cadaver and live search and rescue.

The FL3ASAR team is a group made up of law enforcement, fire, rescue and EMS professionals, many of whom have had prior military experience. While the ride with Shey was in and of itself breathtaking, it was amazing to find out that this team is an all-volunteer group relying on donations to keep operating. Oftentimes, however, the dedicated group will use their own money to continue their mission of saving the lives of people and animals stranded as a result of a man-made or natural disaster.

FL3ASAR was created soon after the flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Working under the direction of FEMA, many members of FL3ASAR witnessed firsthand the airboat’s capabilities as they were being used to evacuate thousands of people stranded due to urban area flooding. The airboat, it turns out, is the most efficient means of mass rescue during floods, capable of delivering thousands of pounds of feed to stranded livestock. Unlike other rescue devices, an airboat has no moving parts below the waterline, allowing it to maneuver through fields of debris. Moving almost effortlessly in extreme conditions, airboats can navigate turbulent and shallow water, and even over dry land if necessary.

Since Katrina, FL3ASAR has responded to calls for service beyond the scope of flood evacuation, having evolved into a full service search and rescue operation. The FL3ASAR airboats are especially equipped with 3D side scan sonar, underwater video equipment, GPS and special communications equipment. All of the airboat operators are licensed United States Coast Guard captains. They have also completed a U.S. Department of Interior-approved airboat operations course.

People often fail to prepare for a natural or man-made disaster, resulting in animals being left behind during an evacuation. Since Hurricane Katrina, lessons have been learned and more shelters are allowing people to bring their pets. However, domestic livestock are also at risk during natural disasters, swept away by strong currents as they naturally seek higher ground. If they do reach what are known as island farms, they become stranded, succumbing to disease or starvation.

Through a private grant in 2010, FL3ASAR was able to take delivery of a 20-foot airboat, manufactured by Diamondback Airboats and customized for animal rescue efforts in flooded areas. It’s the only one of its kind in the United States. The new Animal Rescue Team airboat has a three-rudder system instead of the normal two, with only one row of seats instead of the normal two. The three-rudder system allows for better steerage and the removal of the front seat provides added deck space for a larger working area and more animal cage storage. The drop-down “Grass Rake” facilitates the transportation, delivery and retrieval of necessary supplies and/or equipment for animal rescue.

“I can carry up to 4,000 pounds of feed in this boat,” said Captain Roderiques. “We can even rescue a manatee if need be,” he added.

The Animal Rescue Team is available to state and federal agricultural and wildlife agencies; national, state and local humane societies; and veterinary organizations. Captain Roderiques, who is also the Team Commander, said that FL3ASAR can be deployed within 24 hours.

Working on land or water, Shey is capable of performing live finds — tracking a live person’s trail for miles. She is also trained in human remains detection (HRD). When on water-based missions, she is equipped with a floatation device, performing her duties directly from the bow of the airboat. She has also been trained to perform as a rescue swimmer, capable of towing people back to the boat or shore.

During our trip, Captain Roderiques continued to point out what Shey was doing at any given moment, while describing the intricacies of search and rescue. She leaned into the wind, discerning the different smells. She scanned the banks for clues, working hard, and ready to alert at any given moment.

As we pulled up to the banks to disembark, I realized I had not taken one note for my story. During the trip, Shey would occasionally turn her big, beautiful head to look back at me, giving me that mischievous Labrador smile. She was probably laughing at me. The only time I let go of the rails was to grab my camera with one hand to snap a few quick photos of her. Otherwise, it was pretty much a white-knuckle excursion for me, while Shey effortlessly did a job she clearly loved doing.

Editor’s Note: Shey passed away several years ago. Captain Kevin Roderiques, K-9 Sergeant for the Tampa Airport Police Department, is now retired.

Part 1 Of Our 2-Part Complete List Of Favorite Dog Movies

PART 1 You’ve been channel surfing, and nothing seems to pique your interest. We’ve compiled a list of 37 movies total, in two separate blogs, that have been previously reviewed and featured in The New Barker dog magazine, over the years. The list does not include every dog-themed movie ever made, just some of our favorites. So please feel free to add your own favorite movie in the comments section below.

We’ve included a brief description, the movie poster and a link to the trailer for each movie. We’ve also thrown in a couple of short films for you to watch as well.

We figure if you watch two films a day, you’ll be doggone occupied for around 20 days. #StayHomeStayHealthy

ROMANCE.

1. As Good As It Gets was released in 1997. Directed by James L. Brooks, the film stars Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear. Nicholson and Hunt each won an Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Actress for the film. Jill the Dog plays Verdell, the Brussels Griffon.

As Good As It Gets movie trailer

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2. Darling Companion was released in 2012. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan and his wife Meg, the film stars Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline. Beth (Keaton) forms a strong friendship with a dog she rescues along the highway. She becomes upset when her husband, Joseph (Kline), loses the dog. They end up engaging the service of a psychic gypsy to find Freedom, the dog, played by two dogs, Kasey and Kuma. The cast includes Dianne Wiest, Elisabeth Moss, Richard Jenkins, Mark Duplass, and Sam Shepard.

Darling Companion movie trailer

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3. Must Love Dogs was released in 2005 and is based on Claire Cook’s 2002 novel of the same name. Directed by Gary David Goldberg, the film stars Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, and Christopher Plummer. At 40-something Sarah Nolan (Lane) dreads the thought of re-entering the dating scene. Her family has other ideas and creates an online personal ad that describes Sarah as, among other things, voluptuous. They include that any man of hers must love dogs. Two six-month-old Newfoundland puppies, Molly and Mabel, alternated for the role of Mother Theresa, the dog character in the film.

Must Love Dogs movie trailer

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4. Beginners. When it comes to relationships, we’re all beginners. Directed by Mike Mills, the film shows us how deeply funny and transformative life can be, even at its most serious moments. Released in 2011, Beginners stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, and Goran Visnjic.

After the death of his mother, Oliver (McGregor) finds out his father (Plummer) has cancer. His father also announces that he’s gay, after being married to Oliver’s late mother for 38 years. Beginners is a story about how both father and son each find love. And Arthur, the Jack Russell Terrier, seems to be the only one holding everything in perspective by communicating in subtitles.

Beginners, the movie trailer

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5. The Truth About Cats and Dogs was released in 1996. Directed by Michael Lehmann, the cast includes Uma Thurman, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Chaplin, and Jamie Foxx. Abby Barnes, (Garofalo) is a veterinarian who has a successful radio talk show. Her best friend, Noelle Slusarsky (Thurman), is mistaken for Abby when Brian (a listener) comes to the studio to meet Abby. As the real Abby woos Brian over the phone and radio, Noelle, the pseudo-Abby, takes her place in person. Thank goodness for Hank, the big ole goofy dog in the film.


The Truth About Cats and Dogs movie trailer

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6. The Art of Racing in the Rain. Based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein and directed by Simon Curtis, the film’s cast includes Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Gary Cole, and Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo, the witty and philosophical dog.

Denny (Ventimiglia) is an aspiring Formula One race car driver. Enzo, his dog, has gained tremendous insight into the human condition through his bond with Denny. Enzo understands that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.

Parker is the Golden Retriever who played Enzo in the film, which was released in 2019. The bond between Ventimiglia and Parker was so close during the filming, that Parker’s trainer worried about the dog’s stress level during a particularly emotional scene. Besides Parker, it took several canines to cover the span of Enzo’s life during filming: Butler, Solar, Orbit and 8 to 12 puppies.

“In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers in the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then, his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul for its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like. I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready. I am ready.” –Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain.


The Art of Racing In The Rain movie trailer

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7. Boundaries. Released in 2018, the film is directed by writer Shana Feste with a cast that includes Vera Farming and Christopher Plummer (starting to see a pattern here?). Yes, we love Christopher Plummer, and he loves dogs. Also in the cast: Lewis McDougall, Christoper Lloyd, and Peter Fonda.

Laura (Farming) is a single mom raising her 14 year-old son Henry (McDougall). When she finally agrees to meet with her estranged father Jack (Plummer), she is forced to drive him across country after he’s kicked out of yet another nursing home. Along the way, Laura cannot resist the urge to rescue stray dogs.

Boundaries movie trailer

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LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER WITH DOGS

8. A Dog’s Life starring Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp. Billed as his first million dollar movie, the silent film was released in April 1918.

In the movie, Charlie Chaplin plays a jobless man with few prospects for employment. He tries to steal food from a lunch cart and is nearly caught by a police officer. Later, Charlie saves a stray dog, Scraps, from other dogs and they become friends. In addition to Charlie Chaplin, the film’s cast includes Edna Purviance, Syd Chaplin, Henry Bergman, Charlie Reisner, and Albert Austin. Scraps is played by dog actor Mut, described as “a thoroughbred mongrel” in the film credits. The link for the full movie, about 35 minutes, is below. It’s a true classic.

A Dog’s Life, the full movie.

(if the link jumps a few seconds forward, roll back the film to the opening credits).

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9. A Dog’s Purpose. Based on the best-selling book by W. Bruce Cameron, the cast of the 2017 film includes Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad (who voices the devoted dogs Toby, Bailey, Ellie, Tino, Waffles, Buddy) and Peggy Lipton. Lasses Hallstrom directed the film.

The story is about a dog who hopes to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

Prior to the film’s debut, the movie’s PR team invited The New Barker team to be part of its Florida promotion. As we were gearing up, promoting the film and giving away opening night passes, controversy hit when a video showing alleged animal abuse on the set was released by TMZ. PETA further sensationalized the scandal to serve its own cause. The film’s Los Angeles premiere was cancelled. The film went on to make $140.5 million worldwide, off a $22 million production budget.

Side notes: Bradley Cooper was originally slated to provide the voice of the dogs in A Dog’s Purpose. Director Hallstrom also directed Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog), a 1985 Swedish film about a young boy who is sent to live with relatives. High tissue alert and strong adult content for My Life as a Dog (trailer). Hallstrom also directed Chocolat and The Hundred-Foot Journey. I mention these two films in this blog because they are two of my favorites (and they’re about food). Check them out if you need a break from watching dog movies.

A Dog’s Purpose movie trailer

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10. A Dog’s Way Home. The 2019 film, directed by Charles Martin Smith, is the second in the 3-part A Dog’s Purpose series by W. Bruce Cameron. Cameron shares the screenplay writing credits with his wife, Cathryn Michon.

The story chronicles the adventures of Bella, (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) a dog who embarks on a 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her human. The cast includes Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, and Alexandra Shipp. Several dog stars are in the film, including Shelby (who plays Bella), Gusto, Murphy, Jaime, Harlan, and Sarge.

A Dog’s Way Home movie trailer

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11. A Dog’s Journey. Released in 2019, the film is the third in the 3-part A Dog’s Purpose series. It’s based on the 2012 novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron and stars Josh Gad (again as the dog’s voice), Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, and Henry Lau. This film is directed by Gail Mancuso.

Bailey, an elderly St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix, is living his best life with his owner Ethan and wife Hannah. Their perfect world starts to unravel when their daughter-in-law decides to move away with their granddaughter. Soon, Ethan discovers a big lump in Bailey’s stomach. As Ethan holds Bailey in his arms, he whispers his final words, asking the dog to take care of their granddaughter, C.J. Then, the story of Bailey’s new life, taking on another purpose, unfolds.

A Dog’s Journey movie trailer

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COMING OF AGE AND A TOUCH OF SPORTS

12. My Dog Skip. One of my favorite stories, based on the autobiographical novel of the same name, authored by Willie Morris.

Against his father’s wishes, Willie’s mother gives him a Jack Russell Terrier for his ninth birthday. Growing up in the early 1940s with Skip by his side fundamentally changes several aspects of Willie’s life. Released in March 2000, directed by Jay Russell, the cast includes Frankie Muniz as Willie, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, and Kevin Bacon. The film is narrated by Harry Connick Jr.

My Dog Skip won the Broadcast Film Critics Award for “Best Family Film” for the year 2000. It grossed $35,512,760 worldwide on a $4.5 million budget. Three dog actors played the part of Skip: Sweetie is Skip as a puppy. Enzo as Skip throughout most of the film, and Moose as a senior Skip.

My Dog Skip movie trailer

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13. The Sandlot. This 1993 classic takes place in the summer of 1963. Scotty, the new kid in town, is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his rowdy team. When the team’s catcher hits a home run into a backyard, Scotty attempts to retrieve the ball but is stopped by one of the other boys. The Beast, a junkyard dog, is on the other side. Neighborhood legend has the dog so big and savage, that many baseballs have been hit and lost into the yard over the years.

“Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking.”

Directed by David Mickey Evans, the cast includes Art Lafleur (as The Babe), Tom Guiry, Mike Vita, Patrick Renna, Marty York, Denis Leary, Karen Allen, and James Earl Jones. The Beast – a.k.a. Hercules, is an English Mastiff. Two dog actors played The Beast in the film (with a bit of puppetry thrown in for good measure).

The Sandlot movie trailer

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14. Because of Winn Dixie. This is a good family film based on the children’s novel written by Kate DiCamillio in 2000. The film, directed by Wayne Wang, was released in 2005, with a cast that includes Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie Saint, and introduces AnnaSophia Robb as Opal. Dave Matthews, with guitar in hand, appears as Otis.

After moving to a town in Florida with her father, lonely Opal is soon adopted by a dog she names Winn Dixie. As film critic Roger Ebert wrote of the film, “It’s similar to the movie My Dog Skip. The difference between the two films is that My Dog Skip is made with a complexity that appeals to adults as much as children, while Because of Winn Dixie seems pretty firmly aimed at middle school children and younger.”

Lyco and Scott, Picardy Shepherds, were hired to portray Winn Dixie in the film.

Because of Winn Dixie movie trailer

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COMEDY

15. Best In Show. Whether you’ve never seen this movie, or haven’t seen it in some time, now is as good a time as any, since laughter is the best medicine. Billed as a mockumentary comedy, the film was co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. Released in 2000, it features a cast of characters – humans and dogs – competing at a national dog show. The cast includes Levy and Guest alongside Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Michael Hitchcock, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, and so many more.

Christopher Guest, who portrayed Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap(1984) and Count Tyrone Rugen in The Princess Bride(1987)—and his wife, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, had two dogs, leading the writer/director to make frequent trips to the local dog park. “There were people with purebred dogs, with mutts and so on, and as I mingled with them I started thinking that this might be an interesting idea to explore in a movie,” Guest said in the film’s official production notes. Guest called fellow writer/actor Eugene Levy with his idea and the two collaborated on what was a mostly improvisational film (the script was only 16 pages long) that would become a cult classic.

While doing research for the film, Levy attended many dog shows and said of them, “It’s a very unusual world. I was surprised at the intensity involved. This is a full-time thing for these people; they live and breathe dog shows and every weekend, they’re out there traveling hundreds of miles to spend several hours sitting with the dog before going in the ring for sixty seconds of fame. What is it that drives people to do this?”

By the way, no dog club would allow the crew to film on-site, so the filmmakers had to create their own imaginary dog show, The Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.

Best In Show movie trailer

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ANIMATION

16. The Secret Life Of Pets. The quiet life of a Terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray dog. Released in 2016 and co-directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, the animated adventure comedy features a who’s who of actors voicing the characters. Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, and Dana Carvey, to name a few.

Side note: Universal’s corporate synergy is high in this film. Billboards for NBC Universal properties The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live can be seen on buildings outside the apartment building. Another sign has the YouTube logo and says, “Most Viewed Video Of The Day.”

The Secret Life Of Pets movie trailer

AND

The Secret Life Of Pets II movie trailer

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17. Frankenweenie. The Tim Burton film is a stop-motion, black and white animated comedy inspired by The Bride of Frankenstein. Burton employed about 33 animators to produce five seconds of film per week.

The story involves young Victor Frankenstein and his dog Sparky, who runs into the street and is blindsided by a car. Victor is heartbroken, burying the dog under a tombstone. Victor is also a science-crazy kid with a weird laboratory set up in his attic. The frogs in his lab inspire him to dig up Sparky and smuggle him into the attic. You can probably guess the rest. Sparky has much the same manic personality as before, “although like your cellphone, he sometimes needs to be recharged,” wrote movie critic Roger Ebert. And, his tail or an ear will fly off when he becomes too eager.

Released in 2012, the cast of actors voicing the characters include Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan (as Victor), and Winona Ryder.

Side Note: Burton originally made a short film for Disney, Frankenweenie, in 1984 starring Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern, Sophia Coppola, and Barret Oliver. The link to that movie trailer is just below the 2012 Frankenweenie movie trailer.

Frankenweenie (2012) movie trailer

Frankenweenie (1984) movie trailer

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18. Cats and Dogs. Directed by Lawrence Guterman, the film was released in 2001. There’s a high-tech espionage war going on between cats and dogs, of which humans are blissfully unaware. The movie combines live action with animation and stars Jeff Goldblum and Elizabeth Perkins. A cast of actors voice the dogs and cats, including Toby Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes, Susan Sarandon, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Lovitz, and Charlton Heston.

Cats and Dogs movie trailer

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19. My Dog Tulip. There is just not a more beautiful description of this lovely film than the one by film critic Roger Ebert. “My Dog Tulip is the story of a man who finds love only once in his life, for 15 perfect years. It is the love of a dog. It may be the only love he is capable of experiencing. As other men write books about a woman in their life, J.R. Ackerley wrote a book about a German Shepherd he rescued from a cruel home. My Dog Tulip has been a private discovery by many readers for years, and now it becomes an animated film that combines elating visuals with a virtuoso voice performance by Christopher Plummer.” Lynn Redgrave and Isabella Rossellini also lend their voices to the film.

While animated, the film is not intended for children. It is told from and by an adult in a tone that understands loneliness, gratitude and the intense curiosity we feel for other lives, man and dog.

Released in 2011, the film was directed and animated by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger. It’s Fierlinger’s beautiful watercolors that come to life with animation.

Ebert adds, “My Dog Tulip has no stupid plot, no contrived suspense. Tulip grows old and dies, as must we all. J.R. Ackerley misses her and writes a book about his loss. Through this dog, he knew love. And through J.R., so did Tulip.”

Side Note: In 1946 (the year his mother died) Ackerley acquired an Alsatian Shepherd named Queenie, the dog who became his primary companion for the next 15 years of his life. Those were the most productive years of the writer’s life. In 1961, Queenie died. Ackerley, who had lost a brother and both parents, described it as “the saddest day of my life.”

My Dog Tulip movie trailer

Sometimes love really is a bitch.

I See Dog People

by Anna Cooke, editor, The New Barker Dog Magazine

Every dog has a story, as told by its human. Often heard is, “the more I meet people, the more I like dogs.” But, to me, the more dogs I meet with their people, the more people I end up really liking.

People tend to show a vulnerable side when they’re talking about their dogs. We met three people and their dogs during Gulfport’s Get Rescued event on Saturday, February 22, 2020, and listened to their stories.

Robin and Jezebel, Gulfport, FL

Robin was riding around in her custom golf cart with her Silky Terrier when I met her during Gulfport’s Get Rescued. She named the cart Jezebel’s Ride, after her dog.

Robin’s computer was set up to alert her of small dogs awaiting their fate at kill shelters around Florida. She would make arrangements to have them pulled, transported and adopted. One morning, nine years ago, the window popped up on the computer screen with a picture of Jezebel. She was scheduled to be euthanized in two days for no apparent reason other than for space issues. Traveling a couple of hours from her home, Robin was determined she would adopt the dog. Sensing there could be trouble, she had cash in one pocket, and an extra bit of insurance in the other pocket.

When she showed the shelter employee the photo of the Silky, he simply replied the dog was not available for adoption. This was a high-kill shelter, he explained, and once a dog was scheduled to be euthanized, the file was closed. There was only one way out if a dog was owner-surrendered or found as a stray, and it was by way of the incinerator out back. Robin pulled out the wad of cash and placed it on the counter. The employee looked at the money, then back at Robin and said, “No, this dog is scheduled to be euthanized.”

Robin continued telling me her story from her golf cart, while Jezebel calmly took in the sites on Gulf Boulevard. “I was not leaving without the dog, and took my .38 out of my other pocket, gently placed it next to the cash on the counter and said to the man, ‘We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. It’s your call.’ I left with Jezebel shortly thereafter. She’s been my constant companion ever since.” ###

Tippy Finegan, Gulfport, FL

Gulfport, Florida artist Eagle Finegan said she had always had bigger dogs, as she handed me Tippy to hold. The tiny Yorkie looked up at me, licked my nose, then placed her head under my chin to snuggle. “She’s taken a liking to you. That’s the first time she’s stopped shaking all morning,” Eagle said.

While Tippy and I were bonding, Eagle continued to set up her art for the day’s event. “Tippy was a meth dog when she was confiscated,” Eagle said.

How does one not want to know more about a dog’s back story with a lead-in like that? It turns out, Tippy was part of a drug bust, somewhere in Mississippi. “The occupants were cooking meth all day and night. Tippy was the only dog the officers found alive in the house. Well, barely alive from inhaling meth. That, and she was full of worms,” said Eagle.

“I’ve always had two dogs – a younger dog and a senior dog,” Eagle went on. “When the older dog passed, I’d always adopt a younger dog.” This arrangement ensured Eagle always had at least one dog in her home at any given time. About eight years ago, when she was down to one dog, she let her veterinarian know that she was looking for a Belgian Malinois, should one become available. A few weeks later, Eagle’s veterinarian called and asked her to come to the clinic.

“He came around the corner and handed me this little dog. ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ I asked him. Then, Tippy kissed me and that was it. I was in love.” ###

Apollo, Gulfport, FL

Cheryl Thacker is the volunteer secretary for the rescue group Florida Giant Dog Rescue. She was at Gulfport’s Get Rescued event with several big dogs, including Apollo, a beautiful 18-month-old Cane Corso. Apollo was recently surrendered to the rescue when his owner found out that his dog had a blockage, requiring expensive surgery the family could not afford. The surgery, depending on the complexity of the blockage, could cost anywhere from $900 to $3,000. Heartbroken, the owner reached out to Florida Giant Dog Rescue.

“We have the funds to take care of the surgery,” Cheryl told me. She also said that, somehow, they would eventually reunite Apollo with his family. That’s not something a rescue group normally does.

“Karma. How could we not? It’s just the right thing to do,” said Cheryl, while stroking Apollo. ###

What Kind Of Dog Will You Find Through Rescue?

“You have no idea what a best friend is until you’ve worked together.” A girl and her rescue dog.

by Anna Cooke

Well yes, sometimes a rescue dog truly does need rescuing. Maggie had spent the first seven months of her life inside an Alabama animal shelter. When volunteers from Ewenity Farm Herding Dog Haven offered to take her, life was looking up for her. Understandably, Maggie would need someone with patience to help bring out the best dog she had inside of her.

Stephanie Cox knew she had her work cut out for her when she adopted Maggie. As with most challenges, we never know the level of difficulty we’re facing until we’re deep into it. 

Maggie was afraid of life; of everything around her. “She was afraid of cars, even parked cars,” said Stephanie. “And she definitely didn’t like car rides.” This was just one of many challenges the two faced, early in their relationship. Maggie did not want to let Stephanie out of her site, and a car ride was necessary for their weekly obedience classes. They managed, and after completing basic obedience, Stephanie decided to work with Maggie in agility.

“She is not a couch potato kind of dog. I felt she would do well with an activity like agility,” said Stephanie, whose other dog, Diamond, excels in the sport. She set up a course in her backyard, and Maggie loved it. However, classes at the dog training club proved to be another challenge. Maggie panicked in the agility ring, and then froze every time.

“I cried many times during agility class,” said Stephanie. “There were moments, driving home together, when I wondered if I was doing the right thing for Maggie. I was worried that she might feel I was punishing her.” 

Support from other members of the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club continued to gently encourage Stephanie and Maggie. “We just worked on her confidence. And my confidence as well,” Stephanie said. “I had to learn not to stress over anything Maggie was doing; to understand the process and the journey we were both on.”

When we met with Maggie and Stephanie last year, Maggie had already won her Novice title in four trials. “I knew she always had it in her,” said Stephanie.

In an agility trial, a dog demonstrates her agile nature and versatility by following cues from her handler through a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects. “The bonding experience is incredible,” said Stephanie. “You have no idea what a best friend is until you’ve worked together.” 

Stephanie reiterates that there are no lost causes. Whenever her two young children are faced with a challenge, Stephanie reminds them, “Remember Maggie?”

Every dog requires a certain amount of time to find her way in life and fit into the dynamics of her new environment. 

“Maggie always had grit. I just had to help her find it.” 

The Silent Language of Communication.

by Jo Maldonado for The New Barker Dog Magazine.

Shelter Silence
How was it that 100 hundred shelter dogs at Seminole County Animal Shelter stopped barking, and laid down calmly as I slowly walked down the aisle between the kennels? My body language was non-threatening and neutral. My energy, using my training in QiGong and Reiki, was directed toward a calm and favorable outcome to them, and lastly, my mental thoughts were those of calmness. The dogs read all this. Watch as Jo Maldonado, using body language and thoughts, calms stressed shelter dogs in a few minutes at Seminole County Animal Shelter.

Time and Time Again
My theory of using body language, energy control and mental imagery was again proven recently, with a group of animal communicators and dog trainers at the Pet Rescue by Judy Shelter. I worked with a group of people and instructed them on how to communicate with the dogs using the aforementioned techniques. The results were the same: outstanding. Here is the video of the group of animal communicators and dog trainers.

Body Language
Body language is the most primitive and significant form of human communication. It came into existence even before our ancestors developed speech and language. The study of body language is called kinesics and has been studied since the early Greeks.
Research studies suggest that your body is the reflection of your mind, and the way you control your body will have an impact on your mental processes. It is a mutual process. Your body posture adapts to your thoughts, so if for example, you are depressed your shoulders may slump, your head may drop, you may shift weight onto one leg vs. standing equal weight on both legs If you’re nervous, your gestures may be more jerky, not smooth and controlled; you may pace.

Power Poses
My studies with body language originated with studying Professor Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, known world-wide for her Power Pose study. Her studies showed that we send messages of leadership to people through “Power Poses.”
Each posture or pose, gives off a certain and very different energy signal. Each body position carries with it an emotion which is triggered by our thoughts and the memories our cells have stored within our body. There are power poses and submissive poses, each respectively affecting the people and animals around us in a different manner.

Power Poses and Animals
I went one step further after following Prof. Cuddy’s poses with humans, and applied it to animals, specifically horses and dogs. Dogs are predators, and responded in a subservient manner, recognizing the human as pack leader; horses the prey, responded in a threatened manner, in flight mode.
My conclusion supports what we should already realize: use caution when approaching unfamiliar dogs. Communicate clearly what it is you want the dog to know or do. Some dogs are leaders, and others are pack followers. If we are to apply strong forceful body language upon a follower type dog, it may create adverse reactions in a now fearful dog. On the other hand, if we apply a power pose to a dog who clearly wants to be in charge, we would get a response more in our favor, and you win the pack leader role.

Body Language & Energy
Animals measure their trust in you, their communication with you, and their understanding of you by the energy that you send when you are in their presence. It’s not complicated. The fascinating thing is, that we ALL send messages to other species, all the time. All beings share their energy with others. The thoughts that you have, create a vibration, a specific frequency which is then perceived by others around you.
This is also why you are able to detect if someone is being genuine and authentic in the words they speak, you instinctually pick up on the thoughts and vibrations which the other person is giving off. When a person’s words and their thoughts do not match, you can perceive this through their body language. This intricate process of translation is all done subconsciously.
Dogs’ proficiency in reading body language should come as no surprise since, as pack members, dogs have to communicate with each other without the benefit of a verbal language. Instead they communicate through conscious and subliminal signing or gesturing, and watch for the actions and reactions of the other individual.

Body Posture
Your body posture: head carriage position, shoulders, hip stance, position of arms, behind you vs. in front of you, send the same messages to animals as they do to people, just more intensified. Each posture or pose gives off a certain and very different energy signal. Each body position carries with it an emotion which is triggered by our thoughts and the memories our cells have stored within our body.

So, how did we get all those dogs to stop barking, and relax?
1) Posture: Shoulders Back
Did you know that more testosterone is emitted when your shoulders are back, vs. when they are in a slumped-over position? Dogs’ senses are keen. When you emit more testosterone in dog language you are saying that you are in charge; in a dog pack, the dog with the highest level of testosterone is in charge; shoulders slumped to the front is submissive, signaling that you don’t want to be in charge.
Higher testosterone is associated with confidence, power, and higher risk tolerance. This combination is linked with effective leadership. Contracted body language (closed) is linked to feelings of lower status and worth, and is exemplified by hunched shoulders, head lowered, crossed arms and legs, and not smiling, says social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

2) Knees Locked vs. Knees Relaxed
Knees should be unlocked, or in a relaxed position if standing, legs equally apart at a stance, and grounded “like a tree” is most optimal. When you lock your knees, your muscles tighten. Tight muscles are typically a response to either severe cold temperatures, excitability, heightened emotions, or unbalanced energy, and can deliver an unfavorable response to dogs. They may also be viewed as threatening. Example: a fearful person tends to tense up and stare. Dogs may tend to misread a fearful person’s behavior as a “challenge” posture, like that of a dominant dog squaring up to an opponent. This immediately puts a dog on the defensive.

3) Legs Apart Stance: A neutral pose to be assumed with equal weight distributed on each leg as you stand, as opposed to shifting your weight to one or other leg which sends a message of uncertainty. When you are standing equally, you are more in control of your dog and are sending messages of strength and confidence to your animal.

4) Head Position: Very significant in body language. A person’s head, due to a very flexible neck structure, can turn, thrust forward, withdraw, tilt sideways, forwards and backwards. All of these movements have meanings, which given some thought about other signals can be understood.
The best position to work with animals is a high head position which signifies attentive listening, usually with an open or undecided mind, or lack of bias.

5) Gait: All participants were instructed to stand sideways, in front of one or two dog kennels. No gait was incorporated.

6) Facial Expressions: Neutral. No eye contact. Each participant stool parallel, sideways, not facing the dogs. Relaxed facial muscle.

7) Tone: No words were used.

8) Thoughts: All were instructed to think of the dogs in a neutral, relaxed position. Begin with slow relaxed breathing, deep sigh, then seeing the dogs in your mind’s eye sitting, then laying down. The goal was to think relaxing thoughts about the dog.

Our Emotions Are Showing
Did someone ever tell you that you “wear your emotions on your sleeve?” Take that a step further. Animals are keen observers of our intentions and emotions, and can read us with an objective eye – even those movements and positions that you may not be aware of.
Practice your body language as though the whole world were watching. Animals (and your dogs) will let you know if you have it right.

About the author: Jo Maldonado is an animal communicator, and has been an advisor and contributor to The New Barker since 2010. She is the founder and owner of Gryphons’ Claw The School of Practical Magic, and is department head of the Animal Communication Division. Jo is available as a lecturer, instructor and consultant for private clients and animal shelters. She may be reached via email at Jo@AnimalReader.com

Our History With Dogs.

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends and family. By 18th century poet Alexander Pope.

The relationship humans have had with “man’s best friend” is timeless. Our love of dogs is not a recent phenomenon. We just discovered a book in our home library that we inherited years ago. Pet Book was written by A. Barton, DVM in 1958, with illustrations by Lillian Obligado. It has everything from “Choosing Your Dog” to “Hairdo for Fido.” Below is an excerpt from the chapter titled, “A Permanent Bed for your Dog.”

“The bed doesn’t have to be fancy. All you need is a carton box that is big enough for your dog to move around in. Tear off one side of the box so that your dog can go in and out of as he pleases. If your dog likes the bed, he will not sit on the furniture.”

Among our many dog books is a gift from a friend, simply titled Dogs. It features hundreds of vintage photographs of dogs collected by photographer Catherine Johnson. In the book’s Afterword, William Wegman writes, “What is it about dogs and the camera? For amateurs and professionals alike, picture-taking begins with a special occasion. Dogs in the car, on top of a table or on the front porch with the family. Dogs like to perform.”

The legendary British photographer Norman Parkinson once said, “If you’re shooting a difficult family portrait, pray the family has a dog and feature that animal front and center.” He is absolutely right. Dogs do infuse photographs with energy and humor. So, we asked our readers to send in photographs of their own family dogs through the years. Here is just a sampling of the photographs we received.

Here are some photos of humans growing up with their dogs, sent to The New Barker from our readers. These photos were included as part of a feature in a 2013 edition of The New Barker, alongside some iconic images from the State Library & Archives of Florida.

From reader Karen Ekonomou of Vero Beach on the above photos: “Lucky, a white English Bulldog was my dad’s dog. This photo was taken in 1947. The other Bulldog is Spike, who was my babysitter up until I was seven. Finally, my best pal ever was Suzie Q. She shared everything with me including our favorite ice cream cones. She would sit with me all the way through the television shows I watched. This photo was taken in 1967.”

Melinda_Rose+UnclDog_Emmie_97
Reader Melinda Rose and her uncle’s dog Emmie – 1997.

Sammy_Carlene
From reader Carlene St John: “This is a picture of me with Sammy, our family dog, October 1971. I was 19 months old and insisted that Sammy could double as a horse. Although patient with my attempts, he never budged!”

The Cooke Family Dog.
Tippy and Sonny Cooke. 1947.

Below are some historical photos from the State Library & Archives of Florida.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Cats and dogs were an important part of life at Cross Creek, the Florida home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Here, she is seated with Moe, a faithful companion.

Heise's Pet Shop, Tampa.
Heise’s Pet Shop in Tampa, early 1900s. Quite possibly the first pet store in Florida.

HHSM Brownie, The Town Dog 8x10
Brownie could be Florida’s most historic and beloved dog. He has a dog park named after him in Daytona Beach, complete with a statue honoring him, which we visited in August 2018. His grave is one of the most visited dog memorials in the world. Brownie was a stray dog who lived in downtown Daytona Beach from 1939 until his death in 1954. He lived in a custom dog house, dined on steak and ice cream and even had his own bank account in the Florida Bank & Trust.  Read more about Brownie, the town dog of Daytona Beach.
By the way, the Dade City Heritage & Cultural Museum will convert to The Dade City Dog Museum on one Saturday of every month. Stay tuned. As a sponsor of the event The New Barker is looking for artisans to display their dog-themed artwork. The museum will include a historical look with displays of some of Dade City’s pioneers and the important role their dogs played. Interested artists, please send an email to anna@thenewbarker.com and include Dade City Dog Museum in the subject line, please.

Here are some more Florida dog photos from the State Library & Archives of Florida. 

Broken Down Angel

A true story as told by Lonnie Spell, dog trainer, to The New Barker contributor Pam Stuart.

A gun dog is trained to find game for the handler/hunter, point the game, and retrieve the game when sent to retrieve by the handler/hunter. These scent hunters locate and point birds (quail, pheasant, chucker, and other game birds). The term “gun dog broke” can be defined as: “the performance standard of perfect manners in the field: standing steady and pointing upon finding a bird, staying while the bird flies off, and going out on the retrieve only when sent by the hunter.”

It was Spring 2010. George, myself and some others were having a pleasant conversation in the shade of the hay barn on a Sunday afternoon. George Hickox, a top dog trainer and handler, had come down to Sunset, Louisiana to lead a seminar on training bird dogs. We had been talking about what we’ve seen as professional trainers in the dogs that come our way; the good and the not so good. George remarked that sometimes a dog is so badly affected by misguided attempts at training that it is of no use in the field.
“That dog is not gun dog broke, that dog is just broken.”

One of the seminar students was waiting for him, so George politely excused himself. That’s when someone I knew, particularly by his reputation, stepped up and asked me a question.
“Hey, Lonnie, you want that piece of crap?”

George’s observation about broken dogs might have been what tipped this other man’s hand. He had more than a few dogs he was cutting from his string. They hadn’t gotten with his program so they had to go. And there was that one dog in particular.

I had to say yes. It would have been easier to say no, but sometimes the easy thing is not always the right thing. And ‘no’ would mean that pup was destined to be dumped in an after-hours outdoor run at a kill shelter with all the other dogs. It wasn’t my job to make his dump at the shelter easier, but taking that dog would be the right thing. It would save a life. And I knew that dog.

That ‘piece of crap’ was once my girl Belle’s puppy. I knew the field blood running through his veins. That’s why I bred that litter. By a twist of fate, Belle’s pup ended up with this man, who was now ready to throw him away. He deserved better than the dump. They all did. They always do.

I had to work on Monday, so I made arrangements for my friend, Bobby, to go and fetch him up. The next day I went over to Bobby’s. He warned me, “It’s been about a year since you’ve seen this pup. A lot can happen in a year.”

As we walked out back, I saw him. He stood there in the middle of the kennel run, scared and confused. Everything about his body language shouted fear. His tail was tucked tight between his legs and his ears were tense and set back, as if he was waiting for the next bomb to explode. I stood there, staring in disbelief at the dog before me. This was not Belle’s bold pup. This dog was terrified; snakebit by life and barely holding on. Belle and I had him for only eight weeks. After that, he had been living what I would not want to imagine during so many important stages in his young life. He had been named Justin. I never wanted him to hear that name again.

On the ride back to my place, I remembered why I bred this litter and the hopes I had for the pups. This dog was born with the gift of extraordinary genetics, going back to a top field Pointer named Honky Tonk Attitude. One year later, I wondered how and if I could find, under all that fear, that confident, happy puppy. Would we, he and I, be able to find his Attitude?

I left him alone and kept interaction to a minimum for the first week. He needed to settle in to a new place. I needed to give him time to feel safe and secure. His run was cleaned. He got fresh water and good food. No explosions here, buddy. You can relax.

Relax. Easier said than done. My other dogs would see a squirrel running to the tree line and start barking. He would run and hide. Before, barking meant trouble. Trouble meant punishment. Punishment. Just for being a dog. His fear grew out of knowing punishment. Overcoming fear meant overcoming the hardship of bad experiences.

Punishment is different from correction. Punishment springs from a well of anger. Correction is not from that well of anger. Correction is right for the situation and right for what the dog knows. You cannot correct a dog for something you have not trained.

In training, a dog will learn what to do, and what not to do. Just like in life, mistakes are good. Only by making mistakes do you have the opportunity to learn and truly grow. If I was to comfort him while he was in this fearful attitude, I would only reinforce fearful behavior with what he would interpret as praise. I certainly couldn’t bully him into an attitude of boldness. That would not be boldness but him aggressively defending himself from bullying. He’d had enough of that.

Little things would set him on edge. If I simply held him by the collar, he would squint his eyes as if something bad were going to happen. But he didn’t fight. He never growled or protested. He had given up. What was he afraid of? Might this be reversed or, as George had said could happen, was this dog really broken? If life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived, would I be able to solve this mystery?

Dogs have their truth: tasks they were bred to perform and aptitudes by virtue of their temperament and personality. Dogs also have an honesty by living closer to their truth, without all the complications that we people layer on top of our own lives. Sometimes we can pile on so much of the stuff of life that we lose sight of our own truth; it’s buried so deep we can’t find it. Not for a dog. A dog’s going let you know. You just have to pay attention.

Because this dog was not ready for any formal training, I decided to just be with him without any demands or expectations, and try to establish a relationship without fear. If he showed any sign of relaxation or acceptance, it was my goal to reward that behavior. But I could not correct any unwanted behavior as that might cause him to shut down even further. He needed only encouragement for those little signs of hope, and no corrections for any missteps.

We spent our time together just walking. No talking. No sounds. He was still scared enough just being on a loose lead by my side. I clipped one end of the lead to his collar and the other to my belt. I did not want to chance an accidental correction or any kind of action on my part that would cause him to retreat back into himself. I would not risk losing the trust I was working so hard to gain.

Not talking to him may have seemed unkind by some folks. But this was not so. We speak through our body language and our disposition. Actions do speak louder than words. And attitudes speak louder than words. This was our time to listen to each other. His time to show me what and who he was, and mine to find out his truth.

One day, while putting water in his dish, he came up to the fence of his run and licked my fingers. This was a sign of hope I had been waiting for. Not only did he offer a behavior unasked, it was a behavior of submission, respect, and acceptance. A truce was being made.

He started showing more behaviors that gave me hope – licking, playing, wagging his tail, and even looking up during our walks. I would touch him softly, or scratch him on the head. On a walk one day, he started jumping and playing, if only a for few moments. He found joy in being a dog. And joy in being.

Later that fall, I went over to his run, and when he saw me he stood up, wagged his tail and made eye contact. The patch of color on his left eye had always reminded me of the dog in the Our Gang series. That dog’s name was Petie. This dog was now ready for his name. Hey, Petie. Nice to finally meet you.

In the early winter, the first real cold front had come through and there were good scenting conditions. Petie was running at about half speed down a tree line with a strong north wind blowing across his path, when he hit the scent of birds and slammed onto point. I stood back and didn’t say a word. Petie’s head and tail lifted and he stood as tall as his legs let him. At that moment, he didn’t need me. That moment was between him, his instincts, and the scent. He found more birds that day, and with each find he ran stronger, pointed, and stood taller and more confident. He found his passion. That day, running in that field, he had run into his truth. Petie had found his Attitude.

My friend, Bobby had been there from the beginning. He was a regular visitor at the training sessions, and together we enjoyed watching Petie run in the field. So it was a natural fit that I should give Petie to Bobby and his family.

In the Fall of 2012, Petie, at three years old, was at an age more right to expect mature, gun dog behavior. Petie was now gun dog broke, not broken. And he was a winner, placing in the ribbons at field events, and qualifying to run at the Regionals. Bobby got a call from a professional field trialer who wanted to buy Petie and take him to Nationals.

Bobby said no. Sure, the money would’ve been nice. But money comes and money goes. Petie stayed put in his now and forever home. In the mornings, he sits with Bobby’s wife as she drinks coffee on the porch. He takes naps in the afternoon with Bobby out back. And he goes hunting with Bobby and his son.

Petie was finally at home. And he was loved.

Confident Petie The styles of a hunting dog are a beautiful sight to see. The dog that points his chest high, tail immobile; the dog that bends over itself, pretzel-like as it catches scent behind itself in mid-stride; the dog that looks like a perfect right angle, with head lowered, caught at the bottom of its stride, frozen in place by the scent of its prey.


An Underdog Becomes Leader of the Pack.

The dogs at Tito’s Handmade Vodka offices and distillery are a constant reminder of the company’s mission to “unite with our friends, fans and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.”

by Anna Cooke

One of the very first employees of Tito’s Handmade Vodka was a dog named Dogjo. She was right by Tito Beveridge’s side when he started his distillery in 1997. It was the first legal distillery in Texas and the only crafts spirits distillery in the country, at the time.

During those early years, Tito’s Handmade Vodka was a one-man operation – from crafting and packaging to selling, delivering and dealing with paperwork. Beveridge and Jo often ate and slept at the warehouse. The 50-pound bags of dog food that Beveridge stored for Jo eventually attracted a revolving door of homeless pups, fondly called “distillery dogs.”

Beveridge has always said that he makes the vodka he likes to drink. “Since I was the guy making it, bottling it and selling it, I realized I couldn’t make something for somebody else. It was just fortunate for me that my palate falls into the bell curve of what vodka drinkers like.”

Taki
This is Taki, the current official distillery dog.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka grew and so did the number of dogs who hung around the distillery, as Beveridge continued to feed and take care of them. Today, the distillery is home to a handful of rescued dogs, including Taki, the current resident distillery dog who eats, plays and lives there. The dogs are a constant reminder of the company’s mission to “unite with our friends, fans and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.” Following the devastating destruction that resulted from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, it is no surprise that this dog-loving team came together to brainstorm the most effective and immediate ways to help those affected.

“When a natural disaster strikes, one of the largest groups affected is always stray and abandoned animals,” said Amy Lukken, Chief Joyologist of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. “We knew we would have to act quickly, even before the storm made landfall, in order to save as many animals’ lives as possible,” she added. The Tito’s team has an ongoing relationship with local animal shelter Austin Pets Alive! When they reached out for help, the Tito’s team provided as much support as possible, even as some of their own family members in Houston and surrounding areas would be displaced because of the hurricane.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka animal advocacy program, Vodka For Dog People, donated money to Austin Pets Alive! to help with the purchase of food, supplies and shelter for displaced animals after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. More than 5,000 animals who were in Harvey’s direct path have been saved. Vodka For Dog People also gave locally to Wags Hope and Healing and Bailing Out Benji. On the people front, the company partnered with the American Red Cross with a dollar-for-dollar match of up.

Although Austin Pets Alive! and other Texas shelters have done a fantastic job at providing aid to these animals, disaster aid is still needed beyond the Texas border. The Tito’s team continues to help fund transportation methods for pets out of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

harveytruck
Tito’s employees and volunteers collecting donations after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Through the Vodka For Dog People (VFDP) initiative, more than 1,000 animal welfare nonprofits in over seven countries have been helped since its inception, six years ago. VFDP, which partners in more than 700 fundraising events each year, has been a permanent company-wide cause program for three years.

In Florida, VFDP has provided support to more than 50 different events and charities, including Vets For Pets Charitable Clinic in Tampa and Pet Pal Animal Shelter in St. Petersburg. “We expect those numbers will continue to grow as our Vodka For Dog People program gains more recognition and visibility, thanks to partners such as The New Barker,” said Beth Bellanti, Vodka For Dog People Program Manager at Tito’s Handmade Vodka. “The easiest way to get involved with Florida animal advocacy programs is by donating to local shelters and charities. We host VFDP events all over Florida,” Beth added. By the way, we saw a beautiful raffle basket of Tito’s Handmade Vodka with fun goodies at Manatee County Animal Services 4th Annual Adopt-A-Palooza  this past Saturday.

Vodka For Dog People is the perfect legacy to honor Jo, Tito’s first companion dog, almost 21 years ago. “Everyone has an incredible rescue story, including those of us who have adopted dogs from the distillery,” said Beveridge.

Reflecting on those earlier days, Tito thinks about failure in terms of energy. Harkening back to his geophysics days (he graduated from The University of Texas with degrees in geology and geophysics in 1984), Beveridge said, “Energy isn’t destroyed. It simply changes forms.” He uses this knowledge to his advantage whenever he is struggling with a project. “Your first instinct is to blame everyone else,” said Beveridge. “But, don’t blame it on anyone. Wrap your arms around [the failure] and take the blame, so all the energy becomes yours. You can’t destroy energy. You can, however, change the phase.”

We’ll toast to that.

Ulele_Group_Tito
The marketing team for Columbia Restaurant Group invited Tito Beveridge to Ulele. The Tampa restaurant serves Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

The New Barker is a Florida-based lifestyle magazine all about dogs and the humans who love them. Featuring original stories with award-winning photography in each quarterly publication since 2006 – each cover of The New Barker features an original work of art by a different artist. Subscribe today.