Running with the Dogs.

Did you know that each cover of The New Barker dog magazine is an original piece of artwork by a different Florida artist? The summer issue, out this week, features artist Jason Sipple, out of Orlando. He has two distinct styles, and as always, it was a difficult process for us, deciding which piece would grace the cover of The New Barker. The only hint we’ll give you about the subject matter is that Jason lives with two adorable Pugs.

In our PlayDogs section, we feature a flyball match in Bradenton, hosted by the Barkaholics Team. The gorgeous photography featured is the work of Kim Longstreet. Then, we’re introduced to lure coursing in Altoona by Paulette Keller. And, thanks to our Jacksonville rover reporter and photographer, we bring you some beautiful photography of the 16th Florida State Canine Frisbee Disc Championships. Who knew dogs could have so much fun “working”?

We take a walk through a Masaryktown sunflower maze with a couple of Boxers in our FloriDogs section. We also bring you a fun story from Anna Maria Island about Martha Stewart (we hear she was a real Bulldog).

Tina Valant, our South Florida rover reporter and photographer extraordinaire interviewed Dr. Marty Becker, known as America’s Veterinarian. You may have seen him on Good Morning America. His Big Bus Tour made a stop in Boca Raton and Jacksonville to promote his book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual.

Dr. Marty Becker with traveling companion McKenzie. Photo by Kirk Chamberlain.

McKenzie with her favorite dog magazine. Photo by Tina Valant.

In Sarasota, we caught up with Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. He was traveling through Florida to promote his book, The Bond, Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them. Yes, we did talk about Michael Vick. And, while that certainly is not the essence of his book, it was a pretty insightful conversation.

Our dog dining section continues to expand and with this issue, we bring back our restaurant review with a twist. Special thanks to Bailey’s family and Danette Morse, whose beautiful photography and sense of humor captured the essence of Dunedin’s The Living Room. Our restaurant advertisers are not only dog friendly, they all serve up some of the best food this state has to offer. Catch the entire list in the summer issue. Or stay tuned to this blog as we list specials and giveaways later this week. Yum.

Florida has much to offer in terms of dog friendly destinations and venues. In this issue, we step just outside of Florida with a trip to Tybee Island, Georgia, thanks to Yvonne Guibert of Tampa’s Groovy Cats & Dogs. Then we hit the opposite end of the state with a glamorous visit to Miami. We also visit Mount Dora for some antiqueing, dining, and art. In Tavares, we were treated to Mutts & Martini’s at Al’s Landing.

Wayne Pacelle in Sarasota with Fox-TV's Cynthia Smoot. Photo by Anna Cooke
Floridians know that August and September can be the hottest months of the year. And if August 1 was any indication, the dog days of summer are upon us. Pick up the summer issue of The New Barker to stay Pup-to-Date on dog events including: Happy Tails, a benefit for the Humane Society of Pinellas at Ozona Blue Grill this Thursday, August 4. Saturday is a busy day with The Art of Rescue in Lakeland, a fundraiser for Florida Boxer Rescue; an ice-cream social for dogs at Sarasota’s Wet Noses Boutique; the 4th Annual Spay-ghetti and No Balls hosted by Animal Coalition of Tampa; Pups on the Patio hosted by the Green K9 in Tavares. Also, Bok Towers will be dog friendly for one day, this Saturday from 9a until noon. On Sunday, The New Barker and Pawsitively Posh Pooch will be at Cassis Brasserie on Beach Drive in St. Pete. Come see a show-stopping fashion runway with doggie couture by Chic-A-Bow-Wow. Your dog will be treated to special menu items created by the chef especially for the evening’s event. All event details can be found online

Subscribe to The New Barker dog magazine, Florida’s Top Dog Lifestyle Magazine. If you’d like to contact The New Barker, email or call 727.214.7453.

Xena Helps Rescue A Gulf Island in Florida.

The following story, by Stephanie Somerset, appeared in the Spring, 2011 issue of The New Barker dog magazine.

The big ATV roared towards us, scattering birds and shells along the way. On it was an angry park ranger, who dismounted and began his tirade against our dog. We were shocked. Sweet Xena looked up at him with her big brown eyes and cocked her head as he stabbed a finger at her, while calling her a “predator” of the island birds. This was preposterous, of course. We became outraged when he began yelling out a long list of potential crimes that he wanted to ticket us for, most of them any number of innocent activities we’ve all enjoyed at Shell Island in Panama City Beach, Florida.

During the course of four weeks, 14 people received criminal citations for having their family dogs with them or drinking the wrong beverage while at the island. They had to hire attorneys. They had to check in with probation officers. They had to wait alongside drug dealers, thieves and batterers for their turn before a judge. Some were even forced to write a letter of apology to the park service.

The year was 2006, and it all started on a gloriously sun-drenched day as my husband and I walked across Shell Island with our dog, Xena. It was a treasured ritual we enjoyed every summer weekend. Xena was an abandoned puppy on the island of Grenada when we rescued her, healed her and made her our crew while on a sailing sabbatical in 1997. We became inseparable after navigating thousands of miles and exploring each island along the way. When we returned to “real life” in Panama City, our weekend trips to Shell Island with Xena kept our family close. Xena loved the island. She made us laugh when she frolicked and romped in the shallow waters of the bay, and warmed our hearts while sleeping close to us in the boat cockpit at night.

But Memorial Day 2006 changed our lives. Allowing government to ban us from Shell Island – which was purchased with our tax dollars for our recreational use – was unacceptable. Overzealous bureaucrats planned to snatch away one of life’s little joys from boaters visiting a small area – less than ten percent – of Shell Island. We had to act.

And so, Bay Families with Dogs was formed, and the rest is history. Thanks to a huge outpouring of support from the community, today we have dog-friendly access to our anchorage at Shell Island. The state of Florida removed the criminal-level charge from park violations. Police and rangers no longer harass the citizens. And we have a positive relationship with the park system so that we can work together to avoid the events of that summer.

Bay Families with Dogs has branched out to advocate for dog parks, dog beaches and pet-friendly places. The mission lives on. However, the little rescued dog from Grenada does not. Last summer, our faithful Xena, the inspiration for Bay Families with Dogs, passed away at the age of 13.

SIDEBAR: Non-profit Bay Families with Dogs uses tax-deductible donations for maintaining and/or adding dog friendly outdoor spaces, and for expenses including website maintenance, advertising, fliers, and maintenance of pet waste stations at Shell Island and at the Panama City Beach Dog Beach. Fundraising events include monthly Yappy Hours at dog-friendly Salty Sues, 17501 Back Beach Road, Panama City Beach. Call 850.234.8485.

All gifts will be used to maintain Xena’s legacy and the chance for an old dog to roll in the sand, splash in the water, and smile up gratefully at the family members she loves.