Santa Claus Uses A Shopping Guide.

Yes, it’s true. Even the greatest gift giver in the world does the research to make a list. For dogs and dog lovers on his list, he’s been known to refer to The New Barker dog magazine for ideas. So take heart, gentle human gift giver – for the dog and dog lover on your list, who seem to have everything they need (each other), here are some unique ideas from The New Barker, of course.

Dog lovers with a sense of humor. Clothing, like this t-shirt that plays into the Star Wars craze right now, with just the right touch of dog. Available at The Doggie Door in Winter Park (407.644.2969). Or maybe the dog lover on your list is into craft beer. How about this hoodie, available at Pet Food Warehouse in St. Pete (727.521.6191) and Earth Pets Organic in Gainesville (352.377.1100).

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Dog lovers with a sense of style. Nothing says ‘put together’ like the accessory of a scarf. The fashionista on your list will appreciate this cosmo-PAW-litan scarf with dog silhouettes. Available in assorted color combos of grey/blue, grey/peach or grey/light green. One Lucky Dog in St. Pete (727.527.5825).

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Dog lovers who are tea connoisseurs. Add a little whimsy to their tea and crumpets ritual with these whimsical hand-painted ceramics. Cats In Bloom Tea For One tea pot and mug designed by artist Sharon Bloom. Catzilla Covered Butter Dish designed by artist Candace Reiter. Both are available at Pawsitively Posh Pooch in St. Pete (727.892.9303).

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Dog lovers who insist on at least one cup of java before heading out for their power dog walk. How about a breed-specific coffee mug? Beautifully hand-painted, the details bring out each breed’s characteristic. Available at Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater (727.446.7999).

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For the homebody dog lover. How about dog art, underfoot with a machine washable accent rug? They’re so reasonably priced, you’ll want to buy one (or two) for yourself. Each rug is artist-inspired. The bright colors won’t fade through many washes and will stand up to heat, cold and sunlight. Available at Pet Food Warehouse, St. Pete (727.521.6191).

Dog lovers who sleep with dogs. Nothing shows off someone’s sense of humor, style and love of home than a well-made bed, accessorized with dog-themed pillowcases. 300 thread count for extra softness. Made in the USA. Available at One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg (727.527.5825) and Sweet Sage Cafe & Boutique, North Redington Beach (727.391.0453).

Dog lovers who love to dress their dogs (big and small). EZ Reflective Royal Elegance Harness Vest. No choke design – pulls on chest, not the neck. Designed for easy on/easy off (not over the head). High quality quick release buckle with reinforced D-ring and reflective safety striping. Available at Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater (727.446.7999). For big dogs, visit Dade City’s Dog Mania & Cats to see their line of unique, hand-crafted clothing and accessories. Dressing up is not just for the little ones, anymore. Dog Mania & Cats (352.467.9622). Visit their beautiful new store on Meridian Avenue.

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For the dog lover who is also a romantic. You must see and touch this beautiful collection of vintage hinged trinket boxes to appreciate them. Made of sculpted resin, decorated with enamel and 24 karat accents; bejeweled with Swarovski crystal. Each one is worthy of holding precious keepsakes. Available at Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg (727.892.9303).

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For the practical dog lover. There’s no shame in being practical, and practical doesn’t have to be boring, right? Anyone who has ever owned a Dog Gone Smart Dirty Dog Rug has gone back to purchase more. We love using them just outside the shower area for a spa-like feel underfoot. Millions of microfiber strands create an extra large super-sponge for use just about anywhere in your home. Place them in crates; under food and water bowls to keep water and kibble in place. Plush, velvety soft and easy to wash. Non-slid backing helps it stay in place. Available at all the shops listed above as well as: Animal House, St. Pete (727.328.0503), Fuzzy & Furries, St. Pete (727.954.3952), Pet Supplies Plus, Pinellas Park (727.415.8016) & Clearwater (727.453.9131).

DogGonsSmartRunnerGo forth and shop, fellow dog lovers. You have now been properly advised, and Santa can’t hold a cookie to your super shopping powers.

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Stellar Canine Athleticism in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Downtown St. Petersburg had its wow factor turned on to high voltage for a spectacular dog day afternoon on Saturday, May 4. The 2013 Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge brought in dogs and their humans from all over the country to compete in dog diving, agility, Jack Russell Terrier races, 30-weave up-and-back and freestyle flying disc. Incredible is the right word for this dog-filled event.

As a venue, Spa Beach Park is perfect. Its proximity to the St. Petersburg Pier and a boat-filled waterfront gave out-of-towners a visual treat. And while the cloud-filled sky threatened to burst at any minute, it rained only briefly, towards the end of the day. The downpour arrived during a beautiful freestyle flying disc performance. The team continued its performance, undaunted, as most of the crowd ran for cover.

The overall event set-up was pretty near perfect, with bleacher seating on two sides and VIP seating on another. There were several big screen TVs displayed throughout, including the main one just above the dog diving staging area. Spectators were able to see every competition from any vantage point within the event’s parameters, thanks to an incredible video production crew from F&F Productions. The show’s production, including sound, music and announcing were all spot-on, adding complete entertainment value to the competition. Speaking of value, the event was free to the public and their dogs.

Complimentary copies of The New Barker Dog Magazine were handed out in the main merchandise tent as well as in the VIP tent. The New Barker Dog Magazine team, including Heather Schulman and Leanne Sandbach, photographed and interviewed competitors and spectators for our summer issue. The event itself will be broadcast in Tampa Bay on May 11 on the CBS affiliate, WTSP at 1:00pm. To find out where the event broadcasts in your Florida city, visit BarkNetWork.

In the meantime, here is just a teaser of what we saw during the 2013 Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge. No question about it, these dogs rocked & ruled.

Baxter, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois broke records during the dog diving competition. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.
Baxter, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois broke records during the dog diving competition. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.
Baxter shakes it off after one of his jumps. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.
Baxter shakes it off after one of his jumps.
Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.
Energy and high-flying athleticism were in full swing during this team's freestyle flying disc performance.  Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine
Energy and high-flying athleticism were in full swing during this team’s freestyle flying disc performance. Photograph by Anna Cooke for
The New Barker Dog Magazine
Freestyle Flying Disc Competition during the 2013 Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge in St. Petersburg, FL. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.
Freestyle Flying Disc Competition during the 2013 Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge in St. Petersburg, FL. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine.

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.

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.