Pardon Me, Madam…Is That Your Dogue?

Whilst the rest of us hound dogs gear up for the DVD release of Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3, and the advance screening of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Haute Dogs in New York will enjoy a night at the opera. The world premiere of Dog Days opens at the Alexander Kasser Theater on September 29th.

The ad for Dog Days, the opera as it appeared in The New York Times, Sunday edition.

Based on the short story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, the production by Peak Performances is being billed in the New York Times as Opera Unleashed. Featuring world class vocal talent, Dog Days is a dark comedy brought to life through David T. Little’s inventive compositions of classical and contemporary music elements.

The setting of the story is an apocalyptic near-future that focuses on a suburban family as they cope with the domestic complications of the United States involvement in the next world war. As hunger begins to take over, in the midst of the war-induced chaos, the family makes the acquaintance of an unusual furry friend: a man dressed as a dog, whining and begging for food.

Here is an excerpt from chapter one of the book, Dog Days: The man in the dog suit whines outside the door. “Again?” sighs my mother. “Where’s my gun?” says my dad. “We’ll take care of it this time,” my older brothers say. They all go outside. We hear the shouts and the scuffle, and whimpers as he crawls away up the street.

My brothers come back in. “That takes care of that,” they say, rubbing their hands together. “Damn nutcase,” my dad growls. But the next day he is back. His dog suit is shabby. The zipper’s gone; the front is held together with safety pins. He looks like a mutt. His tongue is flat and pink like a slice of bologna. He pants at me. “Mom,” I call, “he’s back.” My mother sighs, then comes to the door and looks at him. He cocks his head at her. “Oh, look at him, he looks hungry,” my mother says. “He looks sad.” I say, “He smells.” My mother says, “No collar. He must be a stray.”

“Mother,” I say, “He’s a man in a dog suit.” He sits up and begs. My mother doesn’t look at me. She reaches out and strokes the man’s head. He blinks at her longingly. “Go get a plate,” she tells me. “See what you can dig out of the garbage.”

It should make for some pretty interesting opera, and leaves one wondering who will make the full length feature film? (Ellie Lee produced a short film in 2000).  Maybe the actor Jason Gann will play the man in the dog suit (a la his role in FX’s Wilfred). Anyway, we’d love to hear from anyone who will be going to the opera, Dog Days which runs through October 7.

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Simply Irresistible.

This will get your week off to an inspirational start. If it wasn’t for Vickie Dryer, a veterinary technician in St. Cloud, a Chihuahua mix puppy born without functioning front legs would have been euthanized. The vet tech at Osceola County Animal Control stopped the request to put down the then-2-week-old puppy and decided to help rehab him.

While this little guy will never walk, stand or run like other pups, he doesn’t let his let his lack of front limbs stop him from enjoying life.

“His personality is wonderfully sweet, very outgoing. He’s brave, just playful. He’s a normal puppy,” Dryer told the station.

Staff at the Osceola County Animal Control was so inspired by the Chihuahua that they named him after Olympian Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee track star who competed in the London Olympics.

Best of all, Oscar now has a forever home. A staff member who can take care of all of Oscar’s special needs fell in love with the pup and adopted him. Who could resist this little angel? Watch the video from  Fox 35 out of Orlando.

Source: Vetstreet and Fox 35/Orlando.

Is That Any Way to Support Our Troops?

A preliminary report by the Department of Veterans Affairs states that benefits for service dogs will be provided to the vision, hearing and mobility impaired. But benefits will not be provided for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disease (note…it is a disease, not a disorder). This ruling will become final in 30 days.

In the spring issue of The New Barker dog magazine, we featured a story by Heidi Joy Howard on K9s for Warriors out of Ponte Vedra Beach. Today, we asked Shari Duval, president of K9s for Warriors for her thoughts on the Department of Veterans Affairs report. “The new ruling is extremely disappointing and a setback for our Veterans suffering from PTSD.  Since 9/11 there are more than 500,000 disabled veterans. One in five suffers from PTSD. One in six will attempt or commit suicide. Service Dogs are medical equipment for PTSD, and should be regarded as such, the same as a wheelchair, or walker. Service canines are proven recovery aids for PTSD, often reducing the need for massive medications.  Until the VA recognizes the enormity and severity of PTSD we are moving backwards, certainly not towards recovery for our veterans.  The VA will pay for equine therapy, but not service dogs?  This ruling will not effect K9s For Warriors efforts as we are a non-profit organization and our resource is free to our warriors.  We are also in compliance with the ADI (Assistance Dogs International) .”

Also, this week in Jacksonville, veterans who were enrolled in the K9s for Warriors program were asked to leave a business in Jacksonville Beach while out on a training session. The owner of Surf and Skate Shop asked the veterans and their dogs to leave his business, claiming disruption of the business. Again, we asked Shari for her thoughts.

“The situation at the Surf and Skate Shop involving three of our warriors, and our Trainer was a very upsetting and disappointing day.  My warriors felt humiliated and demeaned when asked to leave.  A huge problem with those who suffer from PTSD is isolation.  Service canines offer the warrior the freedom to return to civilian life with dignity and independence.  Service canines give the warriors the security and confidence to step out of their comfort zone, isolation.  When the Shop owner told them to leave, the warriors felt humiliated , singled out; all the symptoms they struggle with.  Afterwards, we talked long and hard about what happened, and we went back as a group, together to accept the owner’s apology.  We are about second chances at K9s; our shelter dogs, our broken warriors, even those who have wronged us.  Giving the owner a chance to say “I’m sorry”, gave our Warriors respect.  They deserve that.”

Who in their right mind, has the guts or the heart to mess with these guys? Photograph by Heidi Joy Howard for The New Barker dog magazine.

Please visit K9s for Warriors and Canine Companions for Independence Wounded Veteran Initiative (a national organization with an Orlando center). We have witnessed firsthand the good these two exemplary organizations are doing for our veterans. Again, these organizations are privately funded. They rely on donations in order to provide their services and the dogs at no charge to the veterans. Now that’s the way to support our troops.

Keep this conversation alive by sharing this blog with others. Visit the social media sites of each of these two organizations. Many of the graduates stay in touch via these networks. Send them words of encouragement.

 

In Support of the Local Independent Retailer.

The Downtown Sarasota Farmer’s Market was packed with shoppers and their dogs this past Saturday morning. Locally grown colorful produce, plants and plenty of food options. As usual, the big red double decker bus that is Java Dawg Coffee was packed with folks wanting a good cup of Joe Dawg. Foot traffic on Main Street was up, as people and their dogs shopped the boutiques, and dined at the cafes, including our favorite,  Cafe Americano.

On-Of-A-Kind Beach Chair.

This Labor Day has us thinking about, and appreciating those hardworking independent business owners across Florida. The one constant that we are witnessing now more than ever is how these businesses are supporting their communities by bringing in items that are created and produced by local artisans.

At Wet Noses Dog Boutique on Main Street, we discovered one-of-a-kind, beautifully-painted adirondack chairs. For an unbelievably reasonable price (which includes the chair), your dog’s portrait is painted with the theme of your choice.

At Bella by the Sea on Anna Maria Island’s Pine Avenue, fresh cut flowers in containers (for the picking) greet shoppers outside. Guys and dogs can take a load off, grab a refreshing cold beverage, and enjoy the scenery on the breezy front porch, while the ladies take in the delights of what’s inside. (Gentlemen, this is not a bad way to spend an afternoon). Take a stroll down to Emerson’s, and check out the world-renowned artist’s brand of quirky humor on tee-shirts, martini glasses and notecards. Emerson could have chosen any place in the world to settle down and set up shop. He chose Anna Maria Island with good reason. Quaint and vibrant Pine Avenue has been named the Greenest Little Main Street in America by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

Available at Gone to the Dogs, St. Pete Beach.

On St. Pete Beach’s historic Corey Avenue, Gone to the Dogs has an artistic array of locally created and produced items, including colorful bags by Clara. New designs are always coming in. The proprietors of Groovy Cats & Dogs in Tampa have worked hard to stock their store with items that are not only locally produced but sustainable too, like dog-themed artwork and decorative accessories for the home.

In Dog We Trust is a cool new line of locally-designed bandanas and tee-shirts. Right now, they are exclusively available at Fluffy Puppies in Clearwater, a big supporter of local artists. The Doggie Door on Park Avenue in Winter Park is another big supporter of local artists, and carries the PawPalettes line of notecards, a Florida company. Pawsitively Posh Pooch has become a destination for dog lovers looking for couture doggie clothes. One line (created by a Florida-based artist) has become internationally-known for its unique designs and use of vintage material and accessories. Think: Coco Chanel. “Dress shabbily and they’ll remember the dress. Dress impeccably and they’ll remember the dog.”  (With apologies to Ms. Chanel and Bella by the Sea).

Another constant that each of these retailers has in common is their support of local shelters and rescue groups. Like the beautiful Cat Room at Pet Food Warehouse, built out specifically to showcase adoptables from Pet Pal Animal Shelter. Or the fundraising events held regularly at Dog-Mania & Cats in Dade City and The Green K9 in Mount Dora. Time and again, these independent business owners have graciously donated their product, services and money to benefit local animal advocacy programs.

Stats to Ponder: Did you know that for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community? That same dollar amount spent in a national big box chain store returns only $43 to the community. Spend that same amount ($100) online, and nothing is returned to the community.

The New Barker dog magazine would like to tip our hats to the dedicated Local Independent Business Owner. From the retailer to the restaurateur; the groomer to the trainer; the hotelier to the owners of dog day care centers; the veterinarians, artists and photographers: thank you for your own dedication and support of the local economy.

Shopping local benefits each of our communities in more ways than one.

Tropical Storm Isaac and Florida’s Soggy Dogs.

Now is the time when one of those indoor portable pet potty mechanisms might come in handy. It’s been raining on and off for the past 24 hours, and getting the dogs outside for a potty break is nearly impossible. Who can blame a dog for not wanting to be exposed to the elements while taking care of business? Positioning an umbrella over the dog is an option. Although, the prospect of following the dog around with an umbrella while she determines the perfect spot is laughable.

All kidding aside, it looks as if Florida escaped a direct hit from Isaac. We’re in for more rain and wind with possible flooding, so precautions are still necessary. Count your blessings, and consider putting together a hurricane plan now. NOAA predicts up to 17 named storms during the 2012 hurricane season, which does not end until November 30.  As Susie Kupfer, co-owner of St. Petersburg’s Pet Food Warehouse advises, “This storm season, be prepared, not scared.”

The website for The New Barker dog magazine has a list of Florida pet-related retailers that can recommend and help fulfill your hurricane preparation list for pet families.  On the same website, there is a list of pet-friendly hurricane evacuation centers in Florida. Now is a good time to review this list, as some evacuation centers have pre-requisites.

Readers of The New Barker may recall the story a couple of years ago, featuring the Florida Keys SPCA. The shelter is just one storm away from being completely destroyed. This past weekend, while preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac’s arrival, volunteers and staff evacuated 154 animals to foster homes. Tammy Fox emailed us on Sunday, “This community is absolutely amazing. The animals are all safe and sound. The shelter is boarded up and our ACO has the emergency phone. Right now it is very windy and raining. Sounds pretty loud outside. I am so thankful to the community.”

Eerily, Tropical Storm Isaac is following the track of Hurricane Katrina. At this point, Isaac is much weaker than Katrina, but thousands of folks in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been told to evacuate their Gulf Coast homes. The storm is expected to make landfall late Tuesday or Wednesday, which will coincide with the seventh anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in harm’s way. And to Isaac we say, go away.

Somehow, getting a little wet while taking the dogs outside, doesn’t seem like such a big deal, right now.

The Dog Days of Summer.

You Might Be My Shining Star: Sirius, the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. And Twinkle, appropriately named, is Mary’s shining star. Photographed by Anna Cooke at Weaver Park.

The dog days are also identified with Dog Star days. Sirius, the Dog Star rises and sets with the sun during what are commonly the hottest days in summer. Often referred to as the dog days of summer, the period runs between early July and early September. Is there any relief in sight? Except for some afternoon thundershowers here in Florida, probably not. But Florida dog lovers make due with plenty of Dog Days of Summer fun.

Today (Saturday, August 18) the FiOS Dog Days of Summer will be a speed-themed family fun day at Dunedin’s Highlander Park. Between 11a and 3p there will be Agility demonstrations, dog costume contests, vendors and some surprises.

Tomorrow (Sunday, August 19) the Dog Days of Summer continue with an all-day celebration at Cassis American Brasserie in Downtown St. Petersburg. The highlight of the day’s events will be a doggie fashion show at 7pm. Cool Alert: The addition of the annual Pin Up with Pooches and Vintage Cars by Buffalo Gal Vintage, complete with professional stylists and some very jazzy cars. Benefits the Humane Society of Pinellas.

Planning ahead for some more dog fun – mark your doggie social calendar with these events: On August 22, check out Barkaritaville in Englewood at LaStanza Ristorante to benefit the Suncoast Humane Society. On Friday, August 24, we’re looking forward to the 6th Annual Dogs Days of Summer Beer & Wine Tasting event hosted by The Doggie Door in Winter Park to benefit Sebastian Haul Fund. The New Barker will also be at the annual Toast to the Animals at the Omni Hotel in Jacksonville to benefit the Jacksonville Humane Society. Then we’ll get to cool off during the Annual Dog Swim Day at St. Petersburg’s Fossil Park Pool. Anyone traveling the state of Florida and looking for dog-friendly accommodations – look no further than Hotel Indigo with six Florida locations. Of course, if you’re heading to St. Pete Beach, look no further than the TradeWinds Island Resorts.

Be sure to check in from time to time to The New Barker online event calendar for updates and rain dates. And if you are going out and about with your dogs, please remember to bring enough water to keep you and the pups hydrated. Also, be aware of walking conditions underpaw, like hot asphalt and concrete. And, getting back inside your car, it’s always a good idea to cool it down for a few minutes first. Those seats (and metal parts of the seat belts) are going to be really hot for your dog’s paws and other body parts.

One more thing: please check out The New Barker project. We have three days to go.

You Better Slow Down, Dog If You Want Our Love to Last.

The year has certainly flown by. I suspect publishing a quarterly magazine makes the year go by even faster, with deadlines looming, people eagerly awaiting their subscription, and advertisers to satisfy. It’s a pressure that’s exhilarating, and one that I wouldn’t give up for the world. A long time publisher and a mentor to me, Aaron Fodiman, recently celebrated Tampa Bay Magazine’s 25th anniversary. He told me, “I sat back and realized, that’s around 150 magazines we’ve published, which means that’s around 150 deadlines we thought we’d never live through.” Amen, Aaron. And congratulations to you, Margaret and staff on a job well done. Here’s to another 150 deadlines.

The dogs in our home also seem to be reminding us how quickly time moves along year after year. Is it possible that more than six years have gone by since The New Barker dog magazine was just an idea? The years have grayed Rita the MinPin’s muzzle. We notice flecks of gray on Dougie’s coat. Chloe remains our perpetual puppy, never seeming to age even though she is around 12. In fact, she seems to have become livelier lately as she and Dougie, our Scottie, spar and play together. A special thanks to Dunedin Dog Rescue for finding Dougie, an unplanned adoption for this household, but a wonderful addition, nonetheless.

The biggest reminder of time adding years to our lives is my Zoe, my shadow, my one special lifetime dog. I remember bringing her home almost 14 years ago. She was so small, so soft and oh, so sweet. She is still all that, and more to us. Her presence brought a spring in the step of our old Golden Retriever, Elmo all those years ago. He hung on another four years and we credit Zoe for that.

Now, Zoe is the old dog in our home. She moves slower, is hard of hearing and has trouble with her vision. Other than that, she is in good health. She loves to eat (she’s not fat, she’s fluffy, you know), and enjoys being around people and other dogs. She’s always been very sociable. Lately though, I’ve noticed, as she sleeps in her bed under my desk, how she doesn’t stir when things are going on around her. While the other dogs are vocal about going outside or wanting to eat, there is Zoe, still sound asleep with hardly any movement and no sound emanating from her. Sometimes, I walk up softly to lean over her, just to make sure she’s still breathing. A couple of times I’ve had to put my hand on her body or my ear close to her mouth just to make sure. My heart skips a beat at those moments.

Zoe always has to be by my side. If she wakes up and I’m not in the room, she’ll come looking for me, using her strong sense of smell, nose to the ground, to search me out. As soon as she spots me, I swear her eyes light up, she opens her mouth as if she’s smiling, and she comes running towards me. I love to hear the patter of her paws on the floor running after me to keep up.

We will always have more than one dog in our home. The transition of bringing a new dog in to learn from the other dogs is such a wonderful experience. You don’t realize it’s happening. One day, you notice how the dynamics have suddenly changed and everyone is living in harmony. Of course, it wasn’t all of a sudden. Dogs, who are said to love us unconditionally, come in and out of our lives in what seems to be a short life span, compared to our own lives. It’s been said the reason is, they’re trying to teach us to get it right. That is, to finally love unconditionally, to stop and smell the breeze, to enjoy the moment.