Dogs are devoted. Their jobs range from serving as police or military K9s, providing therapy and comfort, or acting as the eyes, ears and/or barometer of their human’s physical condition. We all know of special stories where a rescued dog laid their life on the line—-never looking back—-to alert their family of an intruder or fire, or even move a nest of tiny kittens to safety. Often, these hero dogs are the greatly misunderstood pit bulls and pit mixes. Regardless of their DNA or physical appearance, dogs give unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship. Every so often a dog makes its mark, indelibly touching humans in ways we never forget. Ollie is such a dog.
October 10, 2017, Hollywood, FL —- A passer-by heard whimpering coming from a suitcase on Lee Street. Police were dispatched to an abandoned house where they found a dog inside, mutilated and clinging to life. The young male pit mix was taken to VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital. Grateful Paws rescue agreed to be his sponsor. He was named Oliver.
Volunteers took to social media to help with the mounting medical bills. In 36 hours, his story went viral, circling the globe, and igniting strong reactions. With over 4000 shares, donations and requests to adopt him came from as far away as Denmark and Germany. The account surpassed $40,000. It was always stated that additional funds raised after Ollie’s medical expenses were settled would assist other abandoned, abused, and/or neglected dogs coming into the rescue’s care. “We never imagined this kind of amazing, loving response”, stated Grateful Paws’ founder, Jan Milbyer. Dog lovers around the world rallied for Ollie, sending their prayers, best wishes, and gifts to him at VCA. His prognosis was guarded, yet hopeful.
The Crime Stoppers’ and PETA rewards, combined with private donations swelled to almost $70,000, for information leading to the arrest. Due to the dogged, restless efforts of the Hollywood Police Department, on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 the prime suspect was arrested. He remains in custody, without bond, facing seventeen counts of animal cruelty, and the scorn of every person who rallied for Ollie.
Even though he endured a horrific experience, when Ollie arrived to VCA Hollywood, he was nothing but wiggles, wags and kisses, despite his incredible physical pain. He wasn’t out for revenge. He was in the moment, feeling the kindness and energy surrounding him. He accepted their care, and responded well. Surely, he had to have been aware of the tens of thousands of prayers, well wishes and kind people rooting for his recovery. And then, two days later, his heart gave out. The VCA staff, vets and a cardiologist worked on him, for over an hour. But he was gone. Jan tearfully added, “The only redeeming thing is that Ollie did not die alone. His life could have ended in that suitcase, but Ollie stayed to serve as an ambassador to his misunderstood breed and brought thousands of dog-lovers together”. A loving memorial service was held for Ollie December 10, 2017. Over 200 attended and honored this brave, sweet dog.
Moving forward, what can WE do, to honor Ollie? Let’s make him proud. We can lobby to change laws, increase punishment and fines for those who abandon, abuse and neglect animals. We can assist more animals. We can be grateful that the person responsible is in custody—-unable to hurt another innocent animal. Ollie was not his only victim. There were cats, rats and other animals. May each victim know we are truly sorry for what they endured. Mostly likely, this person’s brutal behavior would have escalated. His potential victims are safe, now.
Ollie’s story affected all of us, in many ways. It’s not always easy, but we can control our thoughts, words and actions. I do not refer to the perpetrator, by name. He does not deserve that respect. Let us not risk jeopardizing a fair trial. While operating from anger or rage, we may feel justified—for a moment, but it doesn’t last or contribute toward the highest benefit. Write a letter to the state attorney, hold the firm intention that justice be served and punishment will be the maximum sentence.
We can emulate dogs, by being more mindful. Release judgment, bad feelings, the past, and things we have no control over, like Ollie. Be truly present. Cuddle our own pets a little longer. Leave our phones at home and prolong our own dogs’ walks. We can extend our hands, hearts and hugs to increase the level of love around us, for ourselves and our animal friends. Ollie, you left your paw print in our hearts.
About the writer: Over the past twelve years, Tina VaLant has volunteered, photographed, handled surrenders, transported, completed home visits and fostered for Grateful Paws rescue. She has also been the South Florida rover reporter and photographer for The New Barker dog magazine.
by Christine Dorchak for The New Barker dog magazine.
History awaits the Greyhounds this fall. On Election Day, Florida voters will have the opportunity to turn back the hands of time and end dog racing in its most established state. As many as 8,000 lucky greyhounds stand to receive the second chance they deserve, closing out nearly 100 years of exploitation and cruelty.
The first recognized commercial greyhound racetrack in the world was opened in 1919 in California. By 1930, sixty-seven dog tracks had opened all across the United States – none legal. No state would authorize this new business, even during the height of the Great Depression.
But Florida was different. It became the first jurisdiction to allow dog tracks to operate legally – as long as it received a piece of the action. In 1931, Sunshine State lawmakers passed a racing bill over Governor Doyle E. Carlton’s veto. By 1935, there were ten licensed tracks in operation in the state, some controlled by known criminals such as Meyer Lansky.
Dog racing sought to promote itself as elite and glamourous, but the truth about this so-called “sport” has now been revealed in state documents, financial reports and testimony from track workers themselves. Kept in warehouse style kennels, in rows of stacked metal cages for 20-23 hours a day, the dogs are fed a diet based on raw, diseased meat. When let out of their cages to race several times a month, they face the risk of serious injury. Broken legs, crushed skulls, snapped necks, paralysis and heat strokes are common. Some dogs have even been electrocuted while racing. According to information gathered by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, a greyhound dies every three days at Florida’s eleven racetracks.
Cheating is another hallmark of this industry. Over the past decade, there have been more than 400 greyhound drug positives, including 70 cocaine positives. Greyhounds have also been found with pain killers like novocaine and oxymorphone in their systems. Females are routinely given anabolic steroids to build muscle and prevent loss of race days during their heat cycles, a practice which prompts both animal welfare and race fixing concerns.
Thankfully, dog racing is now illegal in 40 states, and since 1990, the amount of money wagered on dog racing in the Sunshine State has plummeted by 74%. Tax revenue has declined by 98% and the tracks themselves now lose a combined $34 million. If it were not for a state mandate requiring racetracks to offer a minimum number of races as the platform for other, more popular forms of gambling, this antiquated activity would have ended long ago. Until it does, the state will continue to waste as much as $3.3 million per year regulating this dying industry.
Statewide polling shows that Florida voters will vote yes to end dog racing if they are fully informed about its humane and economic problems. You can help the greyhounds by learning more about Amendment 13 and by spreading the word that it’s time to set the greyhounds free.
About the author Christine Dorchak is one of the drafters of Florida’s Amendment 13. As president and general counsel of GREY2K USA Worldwide, she works to pass laws to protect greyhounds and promote the adoption of ex-racers across the globe. Since its formation in 2001, GREY2K has helped to close down dozens of American dog tracks and prevented the expansion of commercial dog racing to countries such as South Africa and the Philippines. For more information, go to grey2kusa.org/greyhoundhistory Visit GREY2K USA on Facebook or Twitter.
About Amendment 13 If approved, Amendment 13 will phase out commercial dog racing in Florida, prohibiting the activity by December 2020. The measure has no effect on other forms of gambling. Greyhound adoption groups across the country are standing by to bring the greyhounds into loving homes. Learn more about the campaign at protectdogs.org.
About The New Barker Heading into its 13th year of publishing, The New Barker dog magazine is reaching upwards of 30,000 dog lovers in print each quarter. A full size lifestyle print magazine, The New Barker features original stories, award-winning photography and always a charming cover of an original work of art by a different artist. The New Barker is all about dogs and the people who love them. Find out where to stay, play, dine, shop and just have fun with your dogs by subscribing to The New Barker, today.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“Having a dog in my life completes me,” said Pam Stuart. The human+dog bond is one of the most beautiful things to stand back and observe. That’s just what we did while attending several dog agility events, recently, in Florida.
by Anna Cooke
Of all the things we’ve experienced over the last 12 years of publishing The New Barker, the bond between a dog and human is one of the most beautiful things to stand back and observe.
A few weeks ago, we checked out DACOF, the dog agility competition held at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. The dogs competing were happy to be running, jumping and barking alongside their humans. People cheered each other on and there were a lot of atta boy and good girl praises, no matter the outcome of the agility run. Everyone was smiling, especially the dogs. Could it have been the bacon jerky treats?
Sunday, July 29, 2018, we attended the annual Summer Games for members of the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club (USDTC) in Clearwater. In addition to the fun and camaraderie, the event raised funds for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), surpassing the club’s goal of $1,000. We had an opportunity to speak with some of the members and interact with their dogs.
Big MacGyver was heading outdoors for a potty break, toy securely in mouth, when we first saw him. The French Bulldog+Boston Terrier mix will be two in October. His human, a nurse, has been training with him at USDTC for about a year. Dressed in her uniform, she would be heading to the hospital to work the night shift after attending the Games. “I always take time out for my pup,” she told us.
Tiny Tim has titled in dog tricks, Beginner Novice obedience and Rally Novice. His human Janie has been a member of USDTC since 1981, when the club was located in Dunedin. She loves Afghan Hounds, but after her last Afghan passed three years ago, Janie realized her days running with a bigger dog were limited. But living without a dog was never a consideration. Tiny Tim, a Chinese Crested Powder Puff, came into her life almost three years ago. The career hairdresser told us, “I knew I had to have another dog with hair.” She said that Cresteds and Afghans have similar personalities. “They’re both very independent breeds.” she said. “I’m very proud of Timmy and his accomplishments. Besides, he’s going to keep me young for another 10 years.”
Sid is a 15-year-old Schnauzer. The retired service dog has earned the right to be a quiet observer, lounging in his chair while his human competed with another dog. A cyst in his left eye required surgery to remove the whole eye. He now has bladder cancer, and is actually doing remarkably well. “He’s had a wonderful life,” said his human, who adopted him from the SPCA Tampa Bay. “He was just a puppy when I found him at the shelter, about to be put down because he had kennel cough.”
Lately, we’re hearing from quite a few of our readers, informing us of their dog’s passing. That’s the sad reality of having been publishing The New Barker since 2006. Sometimes, the deadlines and workload make the time seem like it’s been never-ending. But, for life with dogs, it’s never long enough.
Bruce and his Newfoundland Ransom are regulars at a lot of dog-friendly events around the Tampa Bay area. The family’s Newfoundlands have been featured in The New Barker several times, over the years. We first met Ransom as a puppy, during a Clearwater Threshers Baseball Bark at the Park. During Sunday’s event, Bruce said, “Thankfully, for many of us, our dogs have been forever immortalized on the pages of The New Barker. I am happy to have saved the magazines over the years and enjoy revisiting them. Always good memories.”
Callum is Pam Stuart’s puppy. The club’s current president, Pam has been a contributor to The New Barker, writing about her favorite breed, the Vizla. Her contribution about gun dog broke dogs, was one of our most highly-commented-on pieces. She has since lost two of her own Vizslas, Monty, who passed a few years ago, and Pete, just within the last couple of months. She says of Callum, who is four months old. “I had to have another dog. I’ll always have a dog in my life. Dogs complete me.”
Excerpt from Broken Down Angel. Fixing The Spirit of a Broken Dog by Pam Stuart
“That dog is not gun dog broke,” observed George Hickox, a top dog trainer and handler. “That dog is just broken.” Someone yelled to Lonnie Spell, another dog trainer on-site: “Hey, Lonnie, you want that piece of crap?”
“I had to say yes,” Lonnie remembered. “It would have been easier to say no, but sometimes the easy thing is not always the right thing. And saying 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 this guy’s dump at the shelter easier, but taking that dog would be the right thing. It would save a life. And, I knew that dog.” ###
So, about those treats we mentioned before, whether they’re bacon jerky or another secret weapon handlers may use to gain a dog’s full attention. My conclusion, after observing so many dogs over the years, is that they will do anything – anything – for their humans in exchange for warm praise, a gentle touch and especially the simple gesture of companionship. Time spent with dogs is never wasted.
A few other dogs we met during the July 29 Summer Games in Clearwater.
Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club (USDTC) is an all-breed training facility in Clearwater, Florida. For 50 years has empowered people to become better dog owners through positive training and education. The classes are for every dog, from puppies to seniors; manners to competition. Classes offered include obedience, rally, agility, conformation, tricks and canine freestyle. They also offer therapy dog training for those who want to give back with their dogs to the community.
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.
Day trips are perks in our line of work. We meet new dogs and enjoy listening to humans tell their favorite dog stories. Talking about dogs instantly puts a smile on everyone’s face and the room at ease. Here are some of our favorite stops over the last couple of weeks.
We recently met Charlie at Waterside Furnishings in Dunedin where “Dogs Are Allowed But Husbands Must Be On A Leash.” Charlie was born in Scotland and moved to Dunedin with his humans a couple of years ago. He has the sweetest face and the biggest Westie ears we’ve ever seen.
Our House a very fine house on Main Street in Dunedin has some beautiful treasures for the dog lover’s home and garden. Proprietor and fellow dog lover René Johnson has a special creative touch for retail. We fell in love with the outdoor accent sculptures, like this one. Cat Lovers, check out the Frida Cathlo art.
We’ve been traveling to and from Dade City for years, and enjoy our shopping visits at the always-evolving Dog Mania & Cats. On a recent visit, instead of heading straight out of town, we made a left at the light towards San Antonio. An old red brick building caught our eye, as did the sign of one of the businesses: Tangerine Hill – Red Dog Designer Home. The shop’s proprietor, Rose, is a dog lover and full of colorful stories, so naturally, her store has some surprising dog-themed finds. Afterwards, she insisted we visit with Uncle Johnny, next door, at San Antonio Antiques for some more surprises.
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.
Koda’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.
K9 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.
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.
Sweet 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.
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
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.
#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.
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.
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?
Neat 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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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?
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.
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.
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.