Sylvia – Good for the Soul.

The Wednesday evening Sylvia Stories VIP Reception and Special performance was a resounding (make that a howling) success. As the rain poured outside, the atmosphere inside was upbeat with conversations revolving around – what else? Dogs. It seemed everyone had their own Sylvia story.

Catering by Mattison’s – complete with a full bar, was fabulous. Chef Paul Mattison even stopped by to check on things and talked a bit about his own dog Gemini. Deborah Millman, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County and the shelter’s events coordinator, Ginny Armington were in attendance with two adoptables, Duncan and Bandit.

DJ Alan of Beach Breeze Weddings set the tone with some great jazz music. People streamed happily into the two lobbies of the beautiful Florida Studio Theatre bringing their donations of dog food for HSSC’s Food Pantry. Gift baskets provided by Wet Noses Dog Boutique, HSSC and The New Barker dog magazine were raffled off just before curtain call. Christine Baer, owner of Wet Noses Dog Boutique said, “This is one of the most exciting events I have ever participated in. From beginning to end, it was a success for everyone involved, especially with the food donation of 900 pounds that The New Barker arranged for the Humane Society of Sarasota.”

The evening’s performance of the play Sylvia, A.R. Gurney’s romantic comedy starring man’s best friend, was at once hilarious and poignant. The actress who played the part of Sylvia (the dog), Katharine Abbruzzese was adorable. Every dog owner in the audience laughed knowingly at her dog antics and personality. Kris Logan-Walker, owner of Fluffy Puppies in Clearwater and photographer Laura Allen were in attendance. “It was a great story. I had a good healthy laugh, which I really needed. The story was good for the soul,” said Laura.

Danae DeShazer of Florida Studio Theatre said the audience from Wednesday evening’s performance was one of the best during the play’s five-week run so far. “The actors were energized by the enthusiasm and response from the audience,” said Danae.

Sylvia runs through this Sunday, August 29. There are still tickets available. Remember to bring an unopened bag or can of dog food and enjoy the show. Hey. Hey. Hey.

The New Barker Arranges Shipment of Dog Food.

We are pleased to announce that The New Barker has arranged a donation of between 800 and 900 pounds of dog food to be shipped to the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) on Wednesday, August 25. WellPet, the maker of Wellness, Holistic Select, Old Mother Hubbard and Eagle Pack agreed to donate and ship the food after receiving a phone call from Anna Cooke, editor of The New Barker. The donation is in conjunction with the fundraising promotion The New Barker is coordinating with the Florida Studio Theatre and Wet Noses Dog Boutique during the Theatre’s production of Sylvia. The play, written by A. R. Gurney, is a romantic comedy about how much one stray dog influences the lives of a married couple.

In addition to providing shelter and care for abandoned animals, the Humane Society of Sarasota County has a program that provides pet food to disadvantaged pet owners in the community. The Food Pantry at HSSC collects pet food through donations, enabling them to provide food to those in our community who find themselves undergoing financial hardship and are unable to feed their pets. The service is actually helping keep the number of owner-surrenders down and most importantly the Food Pantry is keeping families and their pets together.

Right now, the number of people in our community who have pets and are suffering from a financial crisis is astonishingly high, putting a severe strain on the Food Pantry’s supply. The Florida Studio Theatre along with The New Barker dog magazine, Wet Noses Dog Boutique and Mattison’s City Grille have partnered to help re-stock the Shelter’s Food Pantry.

Now through August 29, we have asked those purchasing a ticket for the play Sylvia, to please bring an unopened bag or can of dog or cat food. The public has resoundingly responded. And we are so excited that one of The New Barker’s esteemed advertisers, WellPet has answered the call to assist with some really wonderful food.

Plan on attending the August 25 performance of Sylvia at the Florida Studio Theatre. There will be a Sylvia Stories Pre-Show Cocktail Party, co-hosted by The New Barker dog magazine and Wet Noses Dog Boutique with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails provided by Chef Paul of Mattison’s City Grille. Meet and mingle with the actors prior to a special VIP performance of Sylvia. Three selections from the Sylvia Stories submissions will be chosen and featured in an upcoming issue of The New Barker. Submit your own Sylvia love story to info@floridastudiotheatre.org. Prizes will be awarded. Adorable Adoptables from HSSC will be on hand. And hopefully, through the generous donations of our caring animal community, the Food Pantry will be filled to the brim once again.

Feed your mind, body and soul through the arts by donating to the Humane Society of Sarasota County’s Food Pantry. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arts, and our best friends. Call the Theatre box office to purchase tickets at 941.366.9000.

Another added treat: Hotel Indigo Sarasota is offering a special room rate the evening of August 25. The Hotel is dog-friendly and near the Theatre’s Downtown Sarasota location. For reservations, call 941.487.3800.

CONTACT:
Anna Cooke
Editor, The New Barker
727.214.7453; anna@thenewbarker.com

Dog Food for Thought.

Everyday, People Are Needlessly Giving Up Their Pets.
If You Could Help, Would You?

Did you know that in addition to providing shelter and care for abandoned animals, the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) has a program that provides pet food to the community in need? The Food Pantry at HSSC collects pet food through donations and provides the food to those in our community who are struggling financially and unable to feed their pets. The service is keeping families and their pets together, bringing the number of owner-surrenders down.

Right now, the number of people in our community who have pets and are suffering from a financial crisis is astonishingly high, putting a severe strain on HSSC’s Food Pantry supply. The Florida Studio Theatre along with The New Barker dog magazine, Wet Noses Boutique and Mattison’s City Grille want to help re-stock the Food Pantry.

Now through August 29, we are asking those purchasing a ticket for the play Sylvia, to please bring a donation of dog or cat food. We are looking for unopened bags or cans of any brand. We felt that Sylvia, the romantic comedy about man’s best friend, by A.R. Gurney, was the perfect show to raise awareness about the Food Pantry’s service and its current needs.

Additionally, in honor of all the dogs that have come and gone through our lives, we are collecting your stories to share. Called, Sylvia Stories, each of them will be posted on the Florida Studio Theatre website and displayed in the lobby of the Keating Main Stage, where Sylvia will be performed. Post your Sylvia Story here:

Plan on joining us August 25 at the Florida Studio Theatre for a Sylvia Stories Pre-Show Cocktail Party, co-hosted by The New Barker dog magazine and Wet Noses Boutique and catered by Mattison’s. Meet the actors prior to a special VIP performance of Sylvia. Adorable Adoptables from the Humane Society of Sarasota will also be on hand. Three selections from the Sylvia Stories submissions will be chosen and featured in an upcoming issue of The New Barker. Prizes will be awarded, including a package stay at Hotel Indigo in Sarasota. Hopefully, through the generous donations of our caring animal community, the Food Pantry will be filled to the brim once again.

Call the Box Office at Florida Studio Theatre to purchase your VIP Ticket: 941.366.9000.
Feed your mind, body and soul through the arts by donating to the Humane Society of Sarasota County’s Food Pantry. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arts, and our best friends.

Sylvia Overview: After 22 years of marriage, Upper East Side empty-nesters Kate and Greg finally have time to work on their strained relationship. But when Greg brings home a flirtatious stray mutt, an unlikely love triangle develops as wife and dog vie for Greg’s attention. Played by an actress, this precocious, street-smart poodle/lab mix not only talks back when spoken to, but also quotes Homer and sings Cole Porter — making her a formidable “other woman” in one of the most unusual romantic triangles in the history of theater.

CONTACT:
Anna Cooke
Editor, The New Barker
727.214.7453; anna@thenewbarker.com

Danae DeShazer
PR/Marketing Associate, Florida Studio Theatre
941.366.9017; ddeshazer@floridastudiotheatre.org

The Case of the Missing Mitts

We have a new addition to our family – Doogie McDougal, a black Scottish Terrier, also known as the Aberdeen Terrier, popularly called the Scottie (beam me up). He is a big dog in a little dog’s body and is full of vim and vigor. He stole our hearts one evening at a Dunedin Bluejays Bark in the Ballpark where the Dunedin Dog Rescue volunteers were socializing their foster dogs.

The description of the Scottie’s temperament on the AKC website says they are a determined and thoughtful dog. “They should exude ruggedness and power, living up to the nickname, the “Diehard.” Indeed, that would be Doogie, chaser of squirrels, lizards and beetle bugs. He loves his crate and will often thoughtfully go in on his own to nap throughout the day.

Yesterday, walking into the kitchen, I noticed an apron and dish cloth on the floor. I turned to look at the four dogs. Three were in their beds in the breezeway. Doogie was staring up at me just beyond the kitchen with a soulful “I-don’t-know-what-got-into-me” look in his eyes. Do you think the gentle scolding I gave him with a smile on my face sends a confusing message? That’s like asking “do I look fat in these jeans?” Don’t touch that question with a ten foot leash.

This morning, while making coffee, with all four dogs readying themselves to go outside, I noticed Doogie rustling around inside his crate. When I turned around, there he sat just outside his crate. Placed at his front paws were the two missing mitts or pot holders from the pantry. One had been partially devoured (no evidence of fuzz anywhere). His look was again soulful, but now he was the one with the smile on his face.

I cannot figure out what he was possibly thinking or doing. And since I am one of the biggest anthropomorphisers in the world, I began deducing his antics using human attributes (and a Sean Connery accent, of course): Let’s see. Was he guiltily presenting them to me (“oops, furrrgot ta tell ya about theeshh lash night”)? Or was it his good morning joke (“heh, heh, heh – werrre ya missin somethin from the pantrrree)?

Either way, it made for a funny scene and a great laugh. I know, I know…reinforcing bad behavior. I sense we’ll have more incidents like these.

It’s so hot, we saw two trees fighting over a dog.

Four dogs, one accident – pretty decent odds. Still, I wonder why we were the ones uncomfortable with walking down the street and asking the neighbors for a reprieve from the constant barrage of explosions.

It’s the day after the 4th of July and members of our household (dogs and humans) came out of it pretty much unscathed. We won’t count the one pile of poop, dropped in-house (by one of the dogs) as a result of the rain and constant setting off of fireworks by the neighbors. Four dogs, one accident – pretty decent odds. Still, I wonder why we were the ones uncomfortable with walking down the street and asking the neighbors for a reprieve from the constant barrage of explosions. We decided it would be better to just hunker down with the pups and wait it out. Better that, than being classified as cranky neighbors, or worse, unpatriotic.

We ventured outdoors with the dogs around midnight to the distant sound of fireworks. There were spent casings on the back deck. A cloud of smoke hung in the air from the aftermath of the neighbor’s grand finale. A little unsettling. As someone wrote us on Facebook: all is quiet for now. Until New Year’s Eve.

Tonight at 7p on CNN’s Headline News Network, Jane Velez Mitchell will devote an hour on another explosive subject: that of animal rights. Among other things, she will be speaking with Bob Barker and Pierce Brosnan. Should be a heated hour of discussions and footage.

Tampa Bay Rays (and dog lover) James Shields pitched a sizzlin’ game last night against the Twins, giving him his 50th career victory. Now that’s hot. The Rays are playing at home tonight against Boston. It’ll be the start of a seven-game series at home.

Hot ticket item of the week for dog lovers: This coming Saturday, The New Barker is co-hosting Bark at the Ballpark with the Tampa Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Party with your dogs on the promenade and then catch some smokin’ minor league ball as the Tampa Yankees take on the Brevard Manatees. Dogs and humans must have a ticket to get in. And there are some free ones floating around town: Downtown Dogs in Tampa’s Hyde Park; Groovy Cats & Dogs in Carrollwood; Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater location; Paw Paws Boutique in Countryside Mall; One Lucky Dog and Pawsitively Posh Pooch, each on 4th Street NE, St. Pete; Gone to the Dogs on St. Pete Beach. See you at the ballpark.

And, be on the lookout for the summer edition of The New Barker, coming out soon. It’s going to be hotter than (ahem) a fire cracker lit on both ends. Bada BANG.

Now That’s the Way to Beautify a Town.

Since early May, we’ve been taking progress photos of Dunedin artist Anna Hamilton’s dog mural. Anna is painting the mural on the east face wall of Skip’s Bar & Grill, a well-known dog-friendly neighborhood bar. Her goal is two-fold: to beautify the exterior wall of a business and to help raise money for Dunedin Dog Rescue. Every dog on the wall belongs to someone.

Anna put a simple call out to some folks in town to see if there would be an interest in having their dogs forever immortalized as a piece of art on the wall. “That mural will be there as long as Skip owns the bar,” said Anna.

People have come out in droves. While Anna paints, people have stopped to ask her if their dogs can be added. Some people yell out of their car windows, telling her they’re coming right back with a photo of their dog to be added to the wall. Some people bring photos of several of their dogs. Some of the dogs featured are beloved family pets either recently deceased, or they have been gone a long time.

“The best dog I’ve ever had has been gone for five years, and I think of him every day,” said one passerby, adding, “What better way to honor him than to have his likeness on a wall to help Dunedin Dog Rescue?”

The price to have one’s dog included on the wall depends on the size and placement. The more prominent the dog, the higher the price. Anna can be found painting almost every day and will being do so through June 20. That is when phase one of the wall will be officially completed and a celebration will take place at Skip’s with Dunedin Dog Rescue and The New Barker.

Anna is not only talented but efficient and imaginative. It is amazing to see how quickly she is able to transform a large portion of the wall in just hours. And the design of the wall comes to her as she is painting.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of watching her work on another project in Downtown Dunedin at Cappuccino’s Cafe and Wine Bar. Over lunch one afternoon, I watched as she transformed a plain brown wall into an Italian vineyard within the span of about an hour and a half. The perspective of the completed mural is amazing. And she created it all from her imagination. She did not have a photograph as a guideline. “I can just see it in my head,” said Anna.

She is so pleased with the response for the mural at Skip’s and she wants to do more of the same around the Bay Area, perhaps even the whole state. Right now, The New Barker is helping coordinate a similar project at Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City to help raise funds for Tampa Pets, the organization that has been putting on the Adoption Expos at the Fairgrounds for the last three years.

Take a look at some of the photos of Anna’s progress. We are especially pleased with the park bench.