Meeting Fellow Dog Lovers

Waiting (not patiently) for the newest edition of The New Barker dog magazine to come off the presses, it seemed like a good idea to attend a couple of dog events. Listening to what other people are dealing with, especially in the world of animal advocacy and dog rescue, puts things back into proper perspective.

First stop of the day: Heritage Park in Land O’Lakes, Florida for Woofstock, an event co-hosted by Friends of Animal Services. 

Koda_TheNewBarkerKoda’s Story (above), as told by his humans: As a puppy, he was left outside with his litter mates to fend for themselves. “Our dad found him on the side of a busy road. He was the only puppy alive. The others died while trying to get across the road,” said one of the two sisters with Koda. They nursed the pup, a Lhasa Apso mix, back to health. “And, 13 years later, here he is,” they said.

K9KnoxK9 Knox and Deputy Wilkins (above): Tracking is tough, as evidenced by the swamp track work done last month by K9 Knox and Deputy Wilkins. A vehicle, traveling southbound on US 41 at a high rate of speed, was the subject of a case in Hernando County. When the vehicle slowed, the driver jumped out and fled on foot into a densely wooded, swampy area. Pasco Sheriff’s K9 Knox and Deputy Wilkins, along with Corporal Andrew Denbo, tracked the subject through the swamp and located the suspect, who was almost entirely submerged in mud.

K9 Knox has been working on the department’s K9 team since November. “He’s an incredible tracker,” said Deputy Wilkins. “So, tracking with him is really fun.” At home, Knox is the family pet, receiving lots of love and attention from everyone. “But, as soon as his harness goes on, he knows he’s going to work. And he’s ready,” said Deputy Wilkins.

Here is a link to a video of K9 Knox during some down time Deputy Wilkins. We love the hop, hop, hop…and that tongue!

We met Scarlett, below, an adoptable with Skyway Dachshund Rescue…

PCAS_TheNewBarker_CPartner Rescue Groups: The rescue groups are vital to any shelter, as they help to reduce crowding, by pulling dogs.  We said hello to the volunteers at several of the rescue groups participating at Woofstock: Florida Cocker Spaniel Rescue, English Springer Spaniel Rescue Southeast and Skyway Dachshund Rescue, who had the most adoptables on-site, with one wanna-be Doxie, Ms. Scarlett.

Volunteer Stephanie was picking up a Dachshund at Hillsborough County Animal Services (HCAS) when she saw a very pregnant black dog named Scarlett. She was also heart worm positive. “We rescue Doxies, but I’ll take pregnant dogs and any dogs in a desperate situation, if I’m able to,” said Stephanie. So, Scarlett went home with her. Only one of the two puppies Scarlett delivered lived, and eventually adopted. Then, HCAS helped with Scarlett’s heart worm treatment and she’s now ready for her forever home. She is a very sweet, well-mannered dog, greeting people, who came to the booth, with a wide grin and a happy tail.

PCAS_TheNewBarker_BSweet Reese (above): She is also available for adoption through Skyway Dachshund Rescue. The group pulled her from Pasco County Animal Service when she was also very pregnant. All of Reese’s puppies were healthy and have since been adopted. Now, it’s Reese’s turn to find her forever home.

Before leaving the event, we met with Abby Cox, president of Friends of Animal Services; Michael Shumate, director of Pasco County Animal Services and Spencer Conover, the newly-hired Assistant Director of Animal Services at the shelter. They’re excited to be participants, once again, during this year’s Just One Day event on June 11 with The New Barker and Morgan Auto Group. We’re doing something a little different. Stay tuned for the announcement, this week.

Our next stop: Asturia for Dog Day Afternoon: Co-hosted by David Weekley Homes with proceeds benefiting Vets4Pets Charitable Clinic. Residents came out to support and learn more about what the clinic is doing.

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Travis and Buddy the Beagle take a break with their human during Dog Day Afternoon at Asturia in Odessa.

The Tampa non-profit is providing medical care and food for the pets of those citizens on limited income. This is not a service provided to people who want to pay less for veterinary care. This is a service for those who have little to no means of treating their pets.

Earlier this week the clinic assisted a man and his dog who are homeless. Standing on a corner in downtown Tampa, the man was asking for money to pay for veterinary care for Karma, his dog. Tampa Police Department’s MPO Bart Wester watched the man panhandling and instead of arresting him, he put the man and his dog in his police car and drove them to Vets4Pets. Then, he paid the entire veterinary bill. Wester, who has been with the department for 10+ years, responded to the outpouring of kind words in response to the Vet4Pets social media post:   “I would like to thank the staff at Vets4Pets for their service to the community and for taking care of Karma. I would also like to say “thank you” for all the kind words said in this post. When I chose a career in law enforcement I never expected recognition for doing what is right. With sincere appreciation, I thank you.” – MPO Wester

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Karma at Vets4Pets Charitable Clinic, brought in with his human by MPO Bart Wester of the Tampa Police Department.

Suds On Sunday, a benefit for Vets4Pets, will be on June 3rd at Ferg’s Live Tampa. The fundraising event, co-hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and The New Barker, will be for Tampa Bay area first responders, in honor of Karma and MPO Wester. We’ll see you there.

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Chloe, a happy dog, with her human during Woofstock for Pasco County Animal Services.

 

A Beautiful Dog, Each & Every One.

by Anna Cooke, Editor In Chief, The New Barker dog magazine.

After the winter 2017/18 edition of The New Barker was released in December, Aimee Sadler, founder of Dogs Playing For Life, gave us a call. We had interviewed her as part of our feature story on the Ontario 21, the dogs confiscated in a dog fighting ring in Ontario. (click here to see digital article on page 30). 

#SaveThe21 campaign supporters from around the world included actress Maggie Q, Sir Richard Branson and our own Angel.

The dogs, Aimee told me, were ready to be adopted. She asked if we would like to meet and help photograph them as part of their adoption process. Within days, arrangements were confirmed, and I was heading to Wellborn, Florida for the assignment. Later that day, I would continue my travels to Tallahassee to attend Humane Lobby Day, which was the following day. It was a life-changing 48 hours.

Here is my album of the Ontario 21. What a transformation, thanks to Dogs Playing for Life. Special thanks to all of those who rallied for their lives, around the world, including Rob Scheinberg, co-founder of Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary in Ontario.

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Let’s Go Global.

by Anna Cooke and Heather Schulman

Even with a concise list of manufacturers to visit, we managed to get sidetracked at Global Pet Expo, last week in Orlando. The industry trade show for pet retailers is sensory overload with miles and miles of displays and products. Thank DOG for the various canines walking the floor, who helped bring us back down to earth on several occasions. There was Indie, catching the show from a backpack. And a sweet Pup In Pink Polka Dot whose name we did not catch. Then, there was Seamus. Oh Seamus, you stole our hearts. The Pyrenean Mastiff was part of the booth display at All Four Paws, makers of The Comfy Cone, The Chill Collar and The Wipe It Drool Towel (which Seamus was wearing).

 

Beds – There were lots of fun novelty items, like these Disney-themed beds and pillows (below). We loved the look and feel of the faux fur dog beds from Baylee Nasco, designed and manufactured out of Hialeah, Florida. That’s Chai Latte sitting on a pile of their beds at the show. One Lucky Dog in St. Petersburg carries the Baylee Nasco line. Feeling is believing.

 

Our favorite beds, paws down, are the ones made by Bowsers Beds. We have some throughout our home, and they still look brand new, after years of machine washing and drying. Now, it’s time to make an investment on some new ones. The dogs love them. The new, soft neutral colors are fabulous and will look good with any home’s color scheme or decor style. Fluffy Puppies Dog Store & Salon will be our go-to for our next round of Bowsers Beds.

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Travel – Luggage can be a fashion statement. For those of us who love taking trips with our dogs, The Pet Collection from Chariot Travelware is the hound’s bow WOW! The hard side cases are fully lined inside and feature a high quality telescopic handle with push button locking system. They are gorgeous. If you order online, tell them THE NEW BARKER dog magazine sent you.

 

Unleashing The Power Of Play – We enjoyed meeting the new team at Planet Dog. This Maine company continues to impress us with their innovative creations of tougher toys. They don’t forget to include puppies and seniors in their plans when thinking up new product designs. And, the toys are all 100% guaranteed. You can’t beat that. We’ll be heading to Pet Food Warehouse in St. Petersburg, BarkLife Market & More in Seminole and Dog Mania+Cats in Dade City for our next toy supply. Our dogs can’t have too many, right?

Planet_Dog_TheNewBarker.jpgNeat Stuff – It’s always nice to put a face to the months of email correspondence. We met Jane with foufouBrands, creators of foufoudog designer wear. They also make Vegalicious, a 100% natural vegan treats for dogs, made in the USA. We also met the exuberant Kevin Roberge, who was passionate about the new product lines being created by ThunderWorks, inventors of ThunderShirt. #ThunderShirtYourself Although we missed seeing our contact Andrea Friedland with PAWZ, stay connected to THE NEW BARKER, as we’re planning something fun with them, later this year.

 

Friends and Associates – We ran into a longtime friend of THE NEW BARKER, Tom Brennan at the American Pet Nutrition booth. We said hello to Dr. Marty Becker at the Media Roundup Luncheon and ran into his daughter, Mikkel Becker, on the showroom floor. We saw Kris Logan, then said hello to the Pasadena Pet Motel and STK9 Training teams. David Fine of Bark N Bag regaled us with a Bernadette Peters birthday story. We said Aloha to Kelly Ison who was introducing a new line of treats at Einstein Pets. The Luau Time dog treats are handcrafted from natural and nutritious, premium raw ingredients in the USA. The treats are produced in small batches with only seven ingredients: Oat Flour, Coconut, Pineapple, Honey, Pork, Ginger, Chia Seed. BarkLife Market & More in Seminole and St. Pete carries the Einstein Pets line of treats. By the way, Abbey the Westie takes her job as taste tester serious. She remained at the Sarasota headquarters, working her little wiggle butt off. Way to take one for the Einstein Pets team, Abbey.

Curious Puck, our canine traveling companion, was a trooper. He allowed exhibitors to treat him, pet him and try some things on him. He didn’t turn his nose up to anything, even bravely pulling a bone out of a basket at one of the booths. Special thanks to Puck’s human, Heather Schulman, for bringing him along.

 

We loved hearing about companies donating a portion of their sales to various animal advocacy programs – especially the smaller businesses. Found My Animal is one such company out of Brooklyn, New York who, over the years, has supported Austin Pets Alive, Best Friends Animal Society and Bully Breed Rescue, to name a few. We were first introduced to their gorgeous line of collars and leashes by Rene of Hyde Park’s Downtown Dogs, many years ago.

Cool Find – PillStashios is a company that makes an edible pill stasher for dogs. You’ll find it at Pets Life Naturally in Palmetto and The Doggie Bag in Lakeland. The product, inspired by nature, looks like a pistachio. You insert the pill inside the edible stasher, snap it shut and serve it to your dog. We were given some samples for Dougie, our Scottish Terrier, who is on medication for skin allergies. It’s a dream to use and he loves the taste. The PillStashios product is 100% natural, free of gluten, wheat, corn and soy. This was a fun product and great group of people at the booth.

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Raising the Woof – Food and treats were a big part of Global Pet Expo. It was good to see so many new products offering a variety of options for the consumer and their pets. We LOVE Pawsitively Pure Dog Food, a Central Florida company offering a line of products that include dog food, dog treats and bone broth. They use only the finest, freshest and purest human-grade ingredients. “We are committed to replacing conventional ingredients with certified organic alternatives whenever possible,” said Carole Brooks, the Founder and CEO. Carole started her company in 2007, after that year’s major pet food recall. The company’s mascot and taste tester is Ryley Jones, a Weimaraner. Carole gave us a sample of the fresh-made bone broth after we told her about Rita, our MinPin who has arthritis. She is digging the broth on top of her kibble.

Paws_Pure_DogFoodIt’s A Wrap – The work that all of these companies put into their products, then the time they take to travel, display and talk about them is impressive. Equally impressive: the number of pet retailers walking the floor looking for the most innovative products to bring to their customers. Check in with your local independent retailer and find out what new goodies are in store for you and your dog. Until next year, #GlobalPetExpo. We were doggone tired and our feet were definitely barking by day’s end.

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Stop Stereotyping Dogs

In 2014, Orange County Animal Services in Florida took all breed information off their kennels. Not only did adoptions of dogs that would have been labeled pit bulls go up, but adoptions for all breeds improved.

By Clive D.L. Lynne and Lisa M. Gunter

This reprinted article (from June 2017) is part of Future Tense, a partnership between Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.

Boris and Brendan could be twins. Both are on the short side, with brown hair and small gleaming eyes set into broad heads. Both wagged their tails excitedly when someone came to their kennel and yapped sadly when that person walked away.

Yet the fates of these two dogs, both up for adoption at an open-admission shelter in Florida, were very different.

Boris found a new home in just a week. Brendan stayed two months before someone took him in. He would almost certainly have been euthanized—as nearly a million dogs are each year in the United States—had the shelter not adopted a “no-kill” policy shortly before his arrival.

So what was it about Boris and Brendan that led to such different outcomes?

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At the shelter, Boris (left) was labeled a Labrador/German short-haired pointer cross. Brendan (right) was labeled a pit bull.

It was all in the labeling. Boris had been marked as a “Labrador/German short-haired pointer cross,” Brendan a “pit bull.”

The distinctions between dog breeds might sound as solid as car marques and model numbers, but the latest behavioral research indicates they don’t tell us much that’s useful about dogs. With man’s best friend, just as for his master and mistress, stereotypes based on perceived heritage are often misguided or just plain wrong.

For one thing, “pit bull” isn’t even a recognized breed—it’s just a grab bag of small, squat, wide-faced canines that got a bad reputation in the 1980s when they became the young male urban underclass’s preferred projection of strength. A study that thoroughly investigated all fatal dog attacks in the United States over the 2000s showed that many other factors were more important than breed in determining when things went bad. Factors such as whether the dog was male or female, sterilized or not, and evidence dogs had been abused or neglected all played a bigger role than the dog’s (often inaccurately reported) breed identity.

For another, character, in dogs as in people, is a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences. Just as jumping to conclusions about people because of their ethnic background has many negative consequences for all concerned, breed stereotypes have led to pit bulls being overrepresented in many American animal shelters. In fact, some shelters won’t even put a dog up for adoption if it is believed to be a pit bull.

People looking for new canine companions often ask, “What kind of dog is that?” This question makes shelters feel compelled to answer with the name of a breed—even when the vast majority of their dogs don’t come with papers or printouts from genetic testing. The breed labels that potential adopters see on the cards hanging on a dog’s kennel, and on which so much of a dog’s fate depends, are just guesses based on the dog’s appearance. Since there are more than 200 known breeds, which can be combined in up to 55 trillion different ways, we shouldn’t be surprised that these guesses are usually wrong. Shelter dogs have far more complex breed heritages than we could have ever imagined.

Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory tested the reliability of shelters’ breed assignments using DNA analysis to uncover the heritage of nearly 1,000 dogs at two shelters in the western United States. Of the dogs tested, only 12 percent were purebreds or a straight mix of two breeds. Small wonder, then, that staff only correctly identified all the breeds in a dog’s makeup in just a 10th of their animals. Most of those were the handful of purebreds in their care.

Presumably people ask for breed information because they think it will tell them something about the character of the dog they plan to adopt. However, the evidence for personality differences between breeds of dogs is surprisingly weak. Two studies, each involving over 13,000 dogs, found that the personality differences within each breed were as large or even larger than the character differences between breeds. And the available data don’t back up long-held expectations of the behavior of different dog breeds. English springer spaniels, for example, which the American Kennel Club describes as “friendly” and “eager to please” consistently show up in studies as at an elevated risk of owner-directed aggression.

And if the dog isn’t a purebred, all bets are off. Mixing genes isn’t like mixing paints. A dash of border collie with a helping of Labrador doesn’t automatically produce a dog that likes to swim and herd sheep.

Yet despite all that is misguided about jumping to conclusions based on (usually inaccurate) breed identification, we found that these labels influence people more strongly than the behavior of the dog in front of them. It’s not just Boris and Brendan. We set up a study in which we showed 51 people visiting a shelter brief videos of dogs reacting to a stranger walking up to their kennels. One set of recordings showed dogs that the shelter had designated as pit bulls. The other showed dogs we thought looked very similar that had been given other breed designations by shelter staff. We called these dogs “look-alikes.” All our participants had to do was sit at a computer and watch the videos one after the other, answering a range of questions to gauge their interest in adopting each dog.

When we hid the breed labels from viewers, people actually told us they thought the dogs that had been originally identified as pit bulls were more attractive than the look-alikes. However, if we put the labels back on, the pit bulls’ popularity plummeted. This backs up the findings from a study carried out by researchers at the University of Louisville. They tracked nearly 10,000 dogs entering a large municipal shelter in Kentucky over a two-year period and found that fully three-quarters of all pit bulls were euthanized.

So how do we prevent these unhelpful biases from affecting the dogs that don’t deserve them? In 2014, Orange County Animal Services in Florida tried a brave experiment. It took all breed information off their kennels. Not only did adoptions of dogs that would have been labeled pit bulls go up a massive 75 percent, but adoptions for all breeds improved. Overall, the county found homes for 30 percent more of their dogs. This isn’t a little bijou shelter either—it’s a major animal control operation that takes in every unwanted animal in the greater Orlando area, to the tune of 8,000 dogs per year. And it’s sustained that improvement in adoption rates for over two years now.

Orange County offers a model for other shelters for getting rid of unhelpful identifiers. Just like their owners, most shelter dogs are rich mixtures of genetic influences, and just like us, their personalities are not dictated by the race of their ancestors. So it makes more sense to treat finding a canine life partner more like finding a human companion. See past labels and seek real compatibility, go out on a couple of dates, try a weekend sleepover. Let’s not fret over finding “golden retrievers” or “pit bulls.” Let’s talk about “beer buddies,” “fitness fanatics,” and “canines to curl up on the couch with.” Dogs that fit these job descriptions can be found in just about any breed or mix.

Behavioral science cannot solve pet overpopulation or save every mutt that ends up at a shelter, but we believe it can guide people toward smarter choices. Like the members of the species that cares for them, dogs deserve to be known as individuals. Get out to your local shelter, see past the labels, and start a beautiful friendship.

Clive D. L. Wynne is director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, where he is also a professor of psychology. Lisa M. Gunter is a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University in the department of psychology and conducts her research under the mentoring of Clive Wynne.

A Bed For Every Shelter Dog.

Cold weather in Florida, with recent record-breaking temperatures hitting freezing or below in some areas, has a strange way of motivating Floridians. What began with a simple post on a personal Facebook page has blossomed into a full-blown movement, proving once again, that there is good in this world.

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Puppy at SPCA Tampa Bay, photographed by Anna Cooke for The New Barker.

While visiting a couple of shelters in the Tampa Bay area to donate some dog toys, Cindi Hughes learned that many of the shelters don’t accept toys with stuffing – or beds, for that matter. “The dogs may choke on the stuffing if they rip them up,” said Cindi. As she stood in the shelter, she noticed a steady stream of people coming in to donate towels and blankets. It was going to be a particularly cold night for the dogs at the shelter. The towels and blankets would be used to keep them warm.

Later, that evening, Cindi thought, “Throwing a towel in a crate is rarely warm or comfortable for these dogs. Why can’t I take two to four towels, sew them together for more comfort and warmth and donate a few to the shelter?” She posted her thoughts on her Nextdoor app on January 6, asking if anyone would be willing to help her with donations and sewing. It was just a thought; a small way to help the shelters with their immediate need for beds.

The response was overwhelming and continues, a little more than a month since Cindi’s initial post. At the end of almost every day, she comes home to find her front porch stacked with donations of towels, blankets, pillows and bolts of fabric from her friends and neighbors. Realizing she was going to need help, Cindi created a Facebook page, Beds For All Paws, and posted another request to “ladies who sew.”

The first sewing session, a few women showed up to sew beds. The group, meeting every Wednesday, has grown and in less than a month’s time, they have produced 310 handmade beds.

Last night, we attended the sewing session in Safety Harbor and some 30 people showed up to cut, sew and stuff beds. They completed another 200+ beds in a couple of hours.

The group is mostly comprised of women, many of whom are retired, from all walks of life.  All of them came together through the Nextdoor app and/or Facebook. The common thread was their love of companion animals, especially those in need of forever homes.

Catharine said she was looking for a dentist when she came across Cindi’s post on Palm Harbor Happenings. “You could say a toothache brought me here,” said Catherine, whose sister Christine, a retired teacher, was the primary donor to build the much-needed pet kennels at CASA St. Petersburg. Of course, CASA will be receiving a donation of beds.

Lisa works for Suncoast Credit Union. The company gives each employee eight hours a year of paid leave to donate their time to a charity of their choice. “This was an approved cause,” said Lisa, as she sat sewing at her machine. Dan, her husband, was volunteering his time for whatever was needed. “He always comes with me to support my causes,” added Lisa, smiling at him as he cut fabric and stuffed beds.

Hannah told me about Boom Boom her Yorkie. She was in her veterinarian’s office when she saw someone come in with the tiniest of creatures. “He was just an hour old. You couldn’t even tell what kind of animal he was,” said Hannah. The breeder, she told me, brought the Yorkie puppy in to be euthanized. “He said the puppy wasn’t sellable because he was missing a toe. And for that, he was going to die,” recalled Hannah. She simply asked if she could take the puppy home with her. That was a year ago. “Boom Boom is my pride and joy and has everything he wants or needs. He is the reason I’m here, tonight, to sew beds for those dogs who don’t have a warm home, like Boom Boom does,” said Hannah.

Marcia, who moved to Florida from Pennsylvania a year ago, uses Facebook to stay connected to family and friends. She just happened upon Cindi’s post and was immediately intrigued. “I worked with a cat rescue in Pennsylvania for many years. We did a lot of TNR (trap, neuter, release of feral cats). I thought this would be a great way to meet new people who love animals like I do,” said Marcia.

Ed is a part time Floridian who splits his time between Minnesota.  As the owner of the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery at 2626 Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater, he has been donating some delicious sweets and coffee for the sewing group. “I’m an attorney in Minnesota and I’ve had the restaurant for 20 years. I’ve been blessed with a great team there,” said Ed. “I told Cindi to let me know whatever she needed. I am happy to support this effort.” Not coincidentally, Ed’s wife, Jeanne Lechner, volunteers for the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota.

Desanya, whose dog-friendly SeaDog Cottages is an advertising partner of The New Barker, also read about Beds For All Paws on social media. “I contacted Cindi and asked her what could we do to help.” Cindi had been looking for space to store the growing donations of supplies, including sewing machines. She was running out of room in her home. Desanya offered to donate the use of her storage space until Cindi could find something permanent. The two women met last week, for the first time, and quickly filled the space.

Local area shelters benefiting, so far, from Beds For All Paws include Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, Humane Society of Pinellas and soon, Pet Pal Animal Shelter. Volunteers load their cars to the brim with the beds and make the deliveries, wherever needed. As word gets out, more shelters are putting in their requests for beds. Cindi was also contacted by some folks in California who asked for her help with setting up a local Beds For All Paws there.

“The outpouring of support has taken me by complete surprise,” said Cindi, who is easily overcome with emotion and tears. “If you give people a chance to be good, they will,” she added, as the whirring sound of sewing machines filled the room.

Visit the Beds For All Paws website for more information and how to help.

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It Feels Sew Right.

 

Happiness Is Running With A Friend.

Have you ever considered running a marathon with your dog?

by Anna Cooke – Have you signed up for the 2017 Goody Goody Turkey Gobble? It is dog-friendly with giveaways, awards and a delicious post-race meal. Information below.

Jeff Odell has been running with his dog Kuma since she was old enough to start training.  “I did enough reading to know that it is not healthy to run a dog before they are at least a year old,” said Jeff, who ran a fair amount when he was younger.

Eventually, raising a family and other things would take precedence, placing Jeff’s running on hold for many years. He picked it up again about 18 years ago when he was 42, focusing on long distance running and marathon training. He has completed 27 marathons and led a local chapter of the Jeff Galloway Marathon Training group in Tampa for five years. It was with that group in Temple Terrace where we first met Jeff, Kuma and some of the other runners early one Saturday morning. They had just completed their morning run of between 10 to 15 miles. Kuma, a Golden Retriever/Black Labrador Retriever mix, had done about five miles with Jeff. “Ten miles is her cool weather run,” said Jeff. “She let’s me know, but we usually keep it to between three and five miles in hot weather.”

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Jeff Odell, racing buddies Sandi Lake and Kuma. Temple Terrace, 2017.

Kuma has the coat of a Golden Retriever that is the color of a black Labrador. She is almost seven and sports a little white around her muzzle now. It would be three years after the death of Lightning, the family’s beloved Golden Retriever, before Jeff’s wife Therese considered another dog. “It took Therese a long time to get over losing Lightning, who had grown up with our kids. She thought she could never have another dog, until we met Kuma,” said Jeff. The couple’s middle child Joseph, who lives in Japan, took one look at the puppy, and said she looked like a fuzzy little bear cub or Kuma – the Japanese word for bear. “We liked it and the name stuck,” said Jeff.

IMG_KumaJeff and Kuma bonded right away and he knew he wanted to eventually run her for exercise, if she took to it. “When I was a kid in upstate New York, I had a mixed breed dog that followed me everywhere around town. The idea of generally doing things with a dog in tow is pretty ingrained in me. When you have a dog the size of Kuma, at 65 pounds, you need to give her plenty of exercise, so I thought, why not both of us?”

Jeff began working with the puppy by taking her on walks with a six foot leash, training her to stay on his left side. When she was around a year old, Jeff began taking her for shorter runs, gradually increasing their length. As part of her training, he also mixed in running and walking to help ease Kuma into it.

“She took to running right away,” said Jeff. “She was so in tune with walking that running just seemed the next natural step.”

Jeff said that Kuma has never run on the wrong side of a mailbox or sign. “She knows to stay on the same side as me. We never end up wrapped around anything – except on the rare occasion when a squirrel gets her attention,” laughed Jeff.

One of the most important tips Jeff stresses for running with a dog is learning to recognize the signs of fatigue. “As long as Kuma’s tail and ears are up, she’s good. When they start to droop, it’s time to take her home.”

Early in their training, Jeff noticed something else about Kuma. “In hot weather, she would want to stop and spread out in heavy dewy grass. She was cooling herself by getting herself damp. Now, I find that if I give her 10 to 15 seconds, she rolls over one side, then the other, gets up, shakes if off and is ready to go again. She does this every couple of miles. Sometimes, dogs are smarter than we are.”

A RUNNING TIP FROM JEFF:  There’s lots of gimmicky running  gear for dogs. I don’t use any of it. Save your money. You need a leash and a light.  Don’t use an adjustable leash. I use a six foot leash that also has a handle-like loop near the dog in case I need to grab it and pull her in tight. I do not use one of those ‘hands free’ leashes that attaches around your waist. I don’t want my 65 pound dog, upon seeing a squirrel or a duck, to pull me over. I’m more comfortable holding the leash in my hand.

Jeff blames the Labrador half of Kuma for her wanting to pick up and swallow all manner of junk along the road. “I have to keep a good eye on her, and my running group does too. They have heard me say ‘drop it’ so many times that they will tease me whenever I say it – which is often.”

At a race, Kuma is a great icebreaker. “Runners are, for the most part, pretty social. Having Kuma around attracts all kinds of people and sparks conversations on how she was trained and what is her longest run (13 miles). Many people tell me of their successes or failures at getting their dogs to run with them,” said Jeff.

For Jeff, having Kuma in his life has been very rewarding. “Finding activities that your dog can participate in with you makes the dog part of your family and everyday life. In that sense, I’m like any dog owner that likes their dog around in varying circumstances.”

Knowing he has to walk or run Kuma continues to motivate Jeff. “When a personal or family issue arises and you don’t feel like getting out there, knowing Kuma will enjoy it gets me going when I otherwise might not want to.”

The New Barker dog magazine is a co-sponsor of the 2017 Goody Goody Turkey Gobble, 5K, 8K and 1 mile run on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Reeves Volkswagen will provide the official Pace Car. The start/finish is near Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa.

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Here are some FAQ’s – good information for run day. Registered runners and their dogs will receive a Doggie Swag Bag from THE NEW BARKER. Post race will include a delicious meal provided by Goody Goody Famous Burgers. Sign up today for the best prices. We are limiting the number of dogs to 150. The best part of the race is that the proceeds will go to support LIVESTRONG at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA for cancer survivors and their families. We’ll see you on race day, bright and early.

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Last year, Rita was ready for some post-race chow.

Every Dog Has His Lucky Day.

As the Jacksonville Humane Society celebrates the grand opening of its new facilities, we revisit our story about the devastating fire in 2007.

Excerpted and edited from a story in the Holiday/Winter 2008/2009 edition of The New Barker.

It was late night/early morning on April 7, 2007, when Leona Sheddan, former Executive Director of the Jacksonville Humane Society received a startling phone call: The Humane Society had burned to the ground and all the animals were dead. With thoughts of death and destruction fresh in her mind, she rushed there not knowing what she would find.

To her disbelief as she approached the shelter, fire trucks had blocked off the roadways and dogs were running in the streets. At that moment, Sheddan said, “I felt things would be okay, because we could rebuild buildings, but we couldn’t bring back life.” Unfortunately, this would turn out not to be the case.

Animals were still trapped inside the burning structure. Firefighters began to open crates and toss animals out of the burning building, hoping they would run to safety. Dogs quickly exited, but cats burrowed themselves in corners and underneath crates making them more difficult to rescue. Dogs also proved to have their own difficulties as the very same ones brought out by firefighters were following them right back into the fire, forcing firefighters to put the dogs inside their trucks. Firefighters helped saved 80 animals that night, but another 86 lost their lives to a fire of unknown origin.

After the fire was extinguished, firefighters began to search what was left of the once lively building. They made a startling discovery: Belly deep in a pool of standing water, was a 10-month-old puppy. Luck struck this young pup twice that night as not only did he survive the fire, he found a home with the loving firefighters of Ladder 28. Fittingly, they dubbed him Lucky.

Lucky, a Labrador mix, was not the only miracle to come from the fire. A couple of days later, Sheddan and a few members of the staff were making another pass over the rubble, when a board member heard a noise. Silence quickly fell over the area, as everyone was intent on discovering the source of the sound, when a cat poked its head out of the debris. Sheddan remembered the face well, saying, “this cat gave us a look that said, where the heck have you people been? I’ve been here for two days. I’m hungry, tired, and dirty.” Like his canine counterpart, the pretentious feline was dubbed Lucky as well. Later that day T.J., Lucky the Cat’s brother, was also found alive. Of all the animals in that area, Lucky and his brother were the only survivors.

Lucky the Cat, painted by Ron Burns.

After the fire, the Jacksonville Humane Society was closed for five days. More than a year later, the shelter was still working out of close quarters. Two temporary modulars were moved onto the property, one housing adoptions and admissions, the second serving as a vet tech center for examinations of animals entering and leaving the shelter. Despite the cramped conditions, donations poured in from 27 states and two foreign countries. The community of Jacksonville was also quick to come to the aid of its Humane Society. The Boyd Family, long-time Jacksonville philanthropists, donated six acres of land worth $3.5 million. Artist Ron Burns, The U.S. Humane Society’s Artist-In-Residence, donated a percentage of his earnings from artwork sold at a local gallery. His donated paintings of Lucky the Dog and Lucky the Cat were on display at the temporary Humane Society offices as a constant reminder of hope. Donations were earmarked for a planned 45,000 square foot structure.

Priced at $12 million, construction of the new facility was estimated to take at least two years. The goal was to turn the Humane Society into more than just an animal shelter, by making it a destination point for families in the community, with expanded programs to benefit people as well as dogs and cats. One proposed program would allow senior citizens to leave assisted living homes for visits to the Humane Society, where they could interact with shelter animals. Another proposed program would allow for children’s parties and sleep overs.

Built along a creek, the Jacksonville Humane Society’s plans at the time, also called for construction of a promenade along the waterfront, where people could sip coffee and relax with their dog. Additional plans called for a Pooch Park, where people would bring their own dogs for interaction with the shelter’s dogs.

All surviving animals from the fire were adopted, many into the homes of emergency personnel who helped fight the fire that night. Lucky Dog spent most of his time at home, while his owner, Rod Zinick, continued to work at the fire department. For awhile, Zinick would take Lucky to the fire station with him during every shift. Lucky would play at a neighboring park or hang out at the station, but he never wandered far. “We would go out on a call,” Zinick says, “and when we came back, he was waiting in the bay.”

Lucky and his rescuers, the crew of Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department’s Ladder 28. Photographed in 2007.

On November 10 and 11, 2017 the Jacksonville Humane Society will be hosting Grand Opening celebrations of their new Adoption, Education and Community Resource Center. Bacon Group Architects, out of Clearwater, Florida, was the Architect of Record and Project Manager. The shelter, led by current Executive Director Denise Deisler, is located at 8464 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida. JaxHumane.org