Victory, Victoria.

Come meet Victoria in Orlando's Lake Eola Park, February 8 during the 20th Annual Paws in the Park for the SPCA of Central Florida. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker.

Come meet Victoria in Orlando’s Lake Eola Park, February 8 during the 20th Annual Paws in the Park for the SPCA of Central Florida. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker.

The variety of dog training options available to humans is about as vast as the abundance of tea varietals. And just like tea, the different training methodologies range from subtle to strong with varying results. A polarizing subject, each training method has its detractors and supporters.

Victoria Stilwell has been described as America’s no-nonsense trainer in press releases. An author and television personality best known as the star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog, Victoria is, in fact one of the most approachable and forthcoming humans we have encountered in the dog business. She has always made herself available to speak with us, including last year, when she took time out of her busy schedule to meet with us in Orlando.

She is a petite woman with a large, endearing presence. Her megawatt smile engages those around her in easy conversation. As she is listening, she looks directly at the person talking to her, even though a dog is usually competing for her attention. When asked about various dog training methods, Victoria responded, “As a scientist friend of mine is fond of saying, ‘the great thing about scientific fact is that you are free to disagree with it, but you’ll be wrong.’ Well, the argument may be raging on, but the debate is over. The world’s top scientists and behaviorists as well as the most respected veterinary institutions are now warning the public against using compulsion training. They are encouraging dog owners and trainers to use positive reinforcement methods instead.”

Victoria and a colleague, retired police lieutenant Jim Crosby, are often brought in by police departments to help investigate severe maulings or human fatalities by a dog. “I help Jim physically evaluate dogs that have killed people as well as working through crime scene pictures or going to crime scenes to determine what happened. The work can be very distressing but it is needed in order to find out the truth of what happened and why. It also provides data that can be used to educate dog owners everywhere so these preventable tragedies never happen again.”

We put a lot of pressure on our dogs to be friendly and well-mannered with everyone they meet, in and out of the home, even if socializing makes them feel uncomfortable. “Although we have the freedom to choose who we want to greet and who to avoid, our dogs almost never have that luxury,” said Victoria. “Some people just do not understand how threatening and uncomfortable it is for some dogs when their personal space is invaded by a stranger. Of course, because we desire and expect our dogs to be adaptable and emotionally stable at all times (high expectations that even we humans can’t live up to), when dogs react negatively to ‘friendly’ human interaction, they are punished for antisocial behavior,” Victoria added.

Meet Victoria Stilwell on Saturday, February 8 in Orlando’s Lake Eola Park during the 20th Annual Paws in the Park. The event is a benefit for the SPCA of Central Florida and will include vendors, food, entertainment and the Disney Kids & Family Fun Zone. Dock Diving by Splash Dogs will also be featured.

Admiring the Beauty and Personality of the Dog.

“Her name is Harley Pretty Pretty Please. But when she’s bad, we call her Harley Davidson,” overheard in the West Highland Terrier show tent.

Everyone has a funny opening line about their dogs, and it’s no different at the 2014 Florida Gulf Coast Cluster Dog Show. That’s the thing about this two-week dog show, now back in Brooksville, Florida after last year’s Ocala venue. The largest dog show in Florida is a casual and fun experience for the observer as well as for the competitors. Bring a lawn chair, settle in and admire the bevy of canine beauties. The goal is to have fun. Oh sure, participants are here to add points in a major show to achieve the ultimate goal, a championship. But, conversations are easy to strike up with the handlers, groomers, trainers and owners. In fact, one can wander into one of the two huge grooming tents to watch some of the world’s expert groomers prepping dogs for the show. And, everyone loves to talk about dogs, especially their own.

We met Bob Busby, who has been handling show dogs for more than 30 years. “I used to show Rottweilers, and then I fell in love with the Norwich Terrier,” he told us, while holding onto the leashes of puppies Solo and Moon. Incidentally, how do you tell the difference between a Norwich Terrier and a Norfolk Terrier? “Norwich Terriers, ears up. Norfolk Terriers, ears down,” Bob reminded us. He and his dogs travelled from North Carolina to compete in the Florida Gulf Coast Cluster Dog Show.


Puppies, Solo and Moon are Norwich Terriers. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

Suddenly, our attention was diverted to a noisy ruckus taking place under one of the show tents, as the sweet-looking West Highland Terriers were preparing to compete. It turns out the argument was between two sisters, who were having some territorial issues. Ginger Snap and Harley Pretty Pretty Please, both Westies,  just couldn’t agree on who should win that gold ribbon. “Now, why did you do that?” the groomer asked her husband, the handler. “I didn’t do anything,” as he walked with Harley past Ginger Snap, “the dogs did it.”

Most terrier breeds are remarkably similar in personality. They are quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive and intense. The New Barker staff can attest to all of those characteristics, found in our office dog, Dougie, a Scottish Terrier mix, adopted from Dunedin Doggie Rescue.

The Border Terrier, however, is a bit different, we are told. We met Jagger, whose owner/handler said that the Border Terrier is the “most un-terrier of terriers.” He said the dogs “get along with everyone.” They are very relaxed, even though they can be tough as nails on the field when working events such as Earthdog trials. Their faces look similar to that of an otter. “The judges really look for the otter-like face. And their fur is very wiry. The more wiry, the better,” said Jagger’s owner/handler, both residents of Odessa, Florida.


The Border Terrier originates from the borders of England and Scotland. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

Show Dog Decorum: It’s always proper etiquette (and smart) to ask permission to touch or pet the dog before you do, and especially so at a dog show. Remember, if the dog is about to get into the show ring, they have been perfectly-groomed. Touching or petting them may affect the look and feel of the dog’s fur. And that will certainly rile the handler.

Yesterday, Monday, January 7 was the opening day of the Cluster, an AKC-sanctioned show, now in its 16th year. The temperatures began to drop as the competition among the Dachshunds and Terrier groups heated up. The first day’s Specialty shows were hosted by two Kennel Clubs: the Tampa Bay Terrier Club and the Florida Gulf Coast Dachshund Club. Those two clubs are also hosting today’s Specialty shows along with the Florida Suncoast Boston Terrier Club, Tampa Bay Poodle Club and the Orlando Poodle Club. A Specialty show is restricted to dogs of a specific breed, such as the Dachshunds and Boston Terriers, or a variety of one breed, such as the Poodles, which includes Standard, Miniature and Toy.

The All-breed shows of the Florida Gulf Coast Cluster will kick in to full gear on Thursday, January 9, hosted by the Manatee Kennel Club. There are no events on Wednesday, January 8. In addition to the Cluster of Dog Shows, which include Conformation, Obedience and Rally, there are about 40 dog-centric vendors on the 50-acre Florida Classic Park property. Admission is free. Parking is $5.00. Florida Classic Park is located at 5360 Lockhart Road in Brooksville.


The best way to see champion dogs, up-close-and-personal: the Florida Gulf Coast Cluster Dog Show in Brooksville, Florida. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

The New Barker Dog Magazine Is Thinking Big.

Here is our offer: Shop with any one of the businesses listed below, through February 1, 2014. Keep your receipts, then mail (snail or email) copies of your receipts to The New Barker by February 10, 2014. The individual who visited the highest number of these businesses to either shop, dine and/or utilize their services between November 30, 2013 through February 1, 2014 will win a Free Weekend Getaway at one of our Florida Dog Friendly resorts. Be sure to let each business you visit, call or email that The New Barker sent you, and watch what happens.

Snail mail copies of receipts to The New Barker, Post Office Box 258, Dunedin, FL 34697. Email copies of receipts to Business websites are listed at and

Did you know that non-profit organizations such as our shelters and rescue groups receive an average of 250% more support from small, locally-owned business owners than from the large, national businesses? It’s true – we’ve witnessed it firsthand from the following businesses:


  • Animal House Pet Center – St. Petersburg – 727.328.0503
  • Doggie Door (The) – Winter Park – 407.644.2969
  • Dog Mania & Cats – Dade City – 866.315.8744
  • Fluffy Puppies Dog Boutique & Grooming – Clearwater – 727.446.7999
  • Green K9 (The) – Mount Dora – Boutique, Boarding, Daycare, Grooming – 352.729.6172
  • Groovy Cats & Dogs – Tampa – A health food store for dogs and cats – 813.265.1333
  • One Lucky Dog Boutique & Grooming – St. Petersburg – 727.527.5825
  • Paw Paws Pet Boutique – Madeira Beach – 727.329.8789
  • Pawsitively Posh Pooch Classy Cats Too – St. Petersburg – Boutique, Grooming, Yappy Hour – 727.892.9303
  • Pet Food Warehouse – St. Petersburg – 727.521.6191
  • Pet Supplies Plus – Pinellas Park – 727.541.1199 & Clearwater – 727.726.5544
  • Royal Pets Market & Resort – Tampa – 813.448.6744
  • Wet Noses Boutique & Grooming – Sarasota – 941.388.DOGS


  • Animal Hospital of Dunedin – 727.733.9351
  • Care Animal Hospital of Seminole – 727.954.3994
  • Country Oaks Animal Hospital & Boarding – Palm Harbor – 727.785.6524
  •  Central Animal Hospital, St. Petersburg – 727.521.3518
  • Davis Island Animal Clinic – 813.251.4384
  • Gulfport Veterinarian – 727.384.4413
  •  Medicine River Animal Hospital – Madeira Beach – 727.299.9029
  • Metzler Veterinary Hospital – Clearwater – 727.669.7221
  •  Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation – Restoring injured, post-surgical & debilitated dogs to healthier, more active lifestyles. 727.521.3518.
  •  Urgent Pet Care of South Tampa – After hours emergency vet care – 813.289.4086


  • A Very Important Pet – Boarding, Daycare, Grooming, Training – 727.446.6700
  • Canine Co. Dog Training – Obedience training, Pet Sitting – 813.200.4202
  • Celestial Custom Dog Service – Obedience training, Pet Sitting – 813.389.4760
  • Lucky Dog Daycare – Tampa – Boarding, Daycare, Grooming, Training – 813.258.DOGS (3647)
  • Pasadena Pet Motel – South Pasadena – Boarding, Daycare, Grooming, Training – 727.345.2852
  • Petstyles by Jennifer – Dunedin – Grooming – 727.736.2468
  • Pilar’s Pet Resort – Tampa/Ybor City – 813.857.6768
  • St. Pete K9 – Personal protection, Behavior Modification, Professional Obedience Training – 727.744.5914 Serving all of Florida.
  • Tampa Bay Area Pet Grooming Academy – Looking for a new career? Grooming is one of the fastest growing professions, and the demand is high for good groomers. Call Shan at 813.805.0030


  • Laura Allen Studios – Professional pet photography – 727.584.5040
  • Photography by Danette – Professional pet photographer – 727.386.9738
  •  Tina VaLant – Professional photographer –


  • Advantage Pest Control – eco-and-pet-friendly pest control for home and lawn. 727.322.3202
  • Air Animal – the safer way to transport your pets across the country or around the world. 813.879.3210
  • APSCO Appliances – 727.797.4434
  • Curlew Hills Pet Cemetery – Palm Harbor – 727.789.2000
  • F.I.D.O. Dog Liability Ins. – Orlando – Florida dog bite insurance for homeowners – serving all of Florida –
  • Mastro Subaru – Tampa and Orlando –
  • Pet Friendly Pinellas Apartments – No breed or size restrictions – 727.785.1028
  • Pinch Penny Press – Get all of your printing needs done here – 727.327.7468
  • Your Dog’s Diner – Ingredients for homemade treats and gravy – 813.949.1345



  • Cafe Americano – Sarasota – 941.365.1026
  • Cappuccino’s Cafe & Wine Bar – Dunedin – 727.738.8009
  • Columbia Restaurants – Ybor City, Riverwalk Tampa, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Celebration, Clearwater Beach
  • Ferg’s Sports Bar& Grill – St. Petersburg – 727.822.4562
  • Flying Dog Cafe – Sarasota – 941.359.9788
  • Gaspar’s Grotto – Ybor City – 813.248.5900
  • Sea Sea Riders – Dunedin – 727.734.1445
  • Tangelo’s – Gulfport – 727.894.1695
  • The Brown Boxer – Madeira Beach – 727.391.1704; Clearwater Beach – 727.441.6000; Clearwater – 727.799.3000
  • Wildflower Cafe – Clearwater – 727.447.4497

Why are we advocating shopping local? When we shop local, more of that money spent stays within our own communities. A business transaction with an independent, locally-owned business guarantees that significantly more of our money will be used to make purchases from other local businesses. The New Barker dog magazine is a local, family-owned and operated business. We are supported by our advertisers, many of whom are also local, family-owned businesses.

Dunedin’s 50th Annual Art Harvest.

Yesterday was a little dicey, weather-wise, for all of the Florida dog-friendly events. We woke up to the sound of pounding rain on the roof and immediately thought of Dox-A-Palooza that was to take place in Lakeland. No worries, though, as loyal friends and lovers of Dachshund Adoption Rescue & Education ( came from all over to support the 8th annual event. Representing The New Barker, Puck the Wonderful Wiener Dog, gave it his all during the Wiener Dog Races.

In Cocoa Beach, thunder and lightning kept our rover reporter Tina Valant out of the sky. As the official photDOGrapher for the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship, Tina was scheduled to go up in a helicopter to catch an eagle eye’s view. After the stormy weather subsided, dogs hit the surf with their boards, hanging 20 and breaking records. Stay connected to The New Barker dog magazine blog and Facebook page for a preview of photos.

We took a small break from working on the winter edition of The New Barker dog magazine to visit Dunedin’s 50th Annual Art Harvest. It was just supposed to be a little R&R stroll to clear the head, so we weren’t equipped with a notebook or camera. And what happens every time we travel without a camera? Thank goodness for the ole iPhone.

Dog and art lovers, if you are out and about today (Sunday) check out this show. The art, jewelry, photography, pottery, sculpture and more are really all just beautiful work. Our picks of the day were, of course, dog-themed. First, we visited with Tampa artist Michael Vistia, whose background is in Realism. He combines his talent with the Contemporary style of artist Alexander Dimou. Their Art Harvest gallery is just an explosion of color, with dogs as the main subject.


Our next oooh-ahh moment was with John Whipple. The former Nickelodeon artist works in oils, acrylics, charcoal on paper, wood and sheet metal. The exhibit includes his popular hand painted sculptures, many of them known as Misfits, consisting of cast resin and found objects. Stop in and say hello. We loved this piece, titled Dinner Guest. Any dog lover will relate to the subject matter.


By artist John Whipple

Pug, Yorkie and Georgia Bulldog fans will enjoy the black and white photography of Phyllis Frankenfield. Her “Unique Letter” series, showcases her photographic eye and creative sense of humor. Another photographer, Lee-Margaret Borland from Jacksonville, featured some fun dog images, including Teasing Terriers and Dog Tired.

New Smyrna Beach artist, Kim Kaiser was wowing dog lovers with her acrylic portraits of dogs. Her canvas? Antique truck doors. Really a fun exhibit.

Image ImageImage

We were happy to run into Palm Harbor artist, Joyce Curvin whose paper mache dog sculptures will just make anyone happy.



We met Dubhan, a Shetland Sheepdog at Pam Fox’s display of precious jewelry and boxes. She travels the art show circuit with the sweet dog, who is an old hat at meeting and greeting people. Pam told us that Dubhan means “black and white’ in Celtic.


One more artist, whose work was just fascinating, is from Lakeland. Do not miss Stephen Koury’s display of contemporary wildlife art. You will think you are looking at big game photography. His attention to detail is beautiful.

It’s going to be a beautiful day here in Florida for dogs and their humans. Enjoy it, with one extra hour to spare. If you do happen to visit Art Harvest, there is plenty of food and beverage on site at Highlander Park, site of the Dunedin Fine Art Center at 1143 Michigan Boulevard. Need another fix of dogs? While in Dunedin, visit the Pinehurst Pub today between 2p and 5p for the Dunedin Doggie Rescue monthly dog wash. It’s how this group raises money to help pay for vet bills, while caring for their foster dogs. This will probably be the last dog wash of the season until 2014. The pub is at 1270 San Christopher Drive, not far from Art Harvest. Remember to dog responsibly.

The Amazing Power of DOG.

To say that Richard Gonzmart is a passionate human being is almost an understatement. As President of Columbia Restaurant Group and a 4th generation family member, he has helped the restaurants garner many prestigious awards.

Richard Gonzmart with Rex and Rusty in front of the Columbia Restaurant, Ybor City. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

Richard Gonzmart with Rex and Rusty in front of the Columbia Restaurant, Ybor City. Photograph by Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

But Richard’s most notable accomplishments are rooted in giving back to the community. And despite whatever obstacle encountered – he continues to move forward, never looking back. Admittedly, this has been no easy task.

Richard is motivated to find a cure for cancer as a result of having friends and family affected by the disease, who are surviving and even thriving after treatment.

After experiencing their dedication and commitment firsthand, Richard continues to donate to and raise money and awareness for the University of Florida’s Veterinary School of Medicine, Oncology Department.

Richard Gonzmart with his wife Melanie and Rusty in front of the University of Florida Veterinary School of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida.

Richard Gonzmart with his wife Melanie and their German Shepherd Dog, Rusty in front of the University of Florida Veterinary School of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida.

He hosts several events throughout the year to help raise funds for H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute for Adolescent Young Adult Sarcoma research. One of those events, RICHARD’S RUN FOR LIFE, is coming up on November 1st in Ybor City.

In 2011, eight-year-old Josalyn Kaldenberg was just a few days away from having her right arm amputated due to a malignant tumor inside the humerus. Shriners Hospital for Children and Moffitt Cancer Center teamed up on an unprecedented surgery to save her arm.

In 2011, eight-year-old Josalyn Kaldenberg was just a few days away from having her right arm amputated due to a malignant tumor inside the humerus. Shriners Hospital for Children and Moffitt Cancer Center teamed up to perform unprecedented surgery to save her arm.

We are inviting you, fellow dog lovers, to join THE NEW BARKER in support of the 2013 RICHARD’S RUN FOR LIFE 5K Run. THE NEW BARKER has pledged to raise another $1,000, as we did in 2012, thanks to our fellow dog lovers, subscribers and supporters.

The 2012 Richard's Run for Life race honored Josalyn, who is once again playing the piano and playing with her four younger siblings and the family's two dogs.

The 2012 Richard’s Run for Life race honored Josalyn, who is once again playing the piano and playing with her four younger siblings and the family’s two dogs.

We’re asking just 1,000 of our subscribers and supporters to each donate $1. In return, a photo of your dog will appear in the next issue of THE NEW BARKER. Then we will create a limited edition poster commemorating the run and the accomplishment of 1,000 dogs and their humans. THE AMAZING POWER OF DOG poster, featuring your participating dog, will go on sale in 2014 to help continue to raise money for Mr. Gonzmart’s cause.

The New Barker Dog Magazine has pledged $1,000 to the 2013 Richard's Run for Life 5k Run. Will your dog be one of the 1,000 to participate in this milestone event for children? Why, yes…because your dog is amazing. $1 dollar. 1,000 dogs. 1,000 steps closer to the cure.

The New Barker Dog Magazine has pledged $1,000 to the 2013 Richard’s Run for Life 5k Run. Will your dog be one of the 1,000 to participate in this milestone event for children? Why, yes…because your dog is amazing.

By the way, 100% of the money raised through RICHARD’S RUN FOR LIFE goes to  H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute for Adolescent Young Adult Sarcoma research.  After the run, registered runners and walkers are treated to the Best Post Race Party Ever in Centennial Park featuring music, food and drink provided by Columbia Restaurant.

If you are inspired to give more, for a $5 donation, you will receive the next edition of The New Barker Dog Magazine, mailed to you, as our gift + a picture of your dog in the magazine and on THE AMAZING POWER OF DOG poster.

Visit and click onto the link to donate. Your $1 dollar pledge will get your dog's photo in the next issue of The New Barker dog magazine. Your dog will also be honored on the commemorative poster, The Amazing Power of DOG. Hurry. We only have five days to go.

Visit and click on the DONATE link. Your $1 pledge will get your dog’s photo in the next issue of The New Barker dog magazine. Your dog will also be honored on the commemorative poster, The Amazing Power of DOG. Hurry. We only have five days to go.

Every Home Should Have a Dog. And Every Dog Should Have a Home.

Yes, we do love dogs. Leanne came perfectly dressed to work The New Barker dog magazine booth during Florida's Largest Home Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Yes, we do love dogs. Leanne came perfectly dressed to work The New Barker dog magazine booth during Florida’s Largest Home Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Florida’s Largest Home Show and The New Barker dog magazine have teamed up to bring something warm and fuzzy to the Florida State Fairgrounds this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (October 18, 19 and 20). The Fall Fling Adopt-A-Pet will provide a free venue for Florida rescue groups to showcase their adoptables, hand out information and even collect donations for their cause: saving dogs from euthanasia.

For 29 years Turner Expo has produced Florida’s Largest Home Show in the Tampa Bay Area. With more than 900 exhibits, the shows have been selected as one of the top 30 premiere home shows in the country and featured in the National Home & Garden Show Series. The success of the shows inspired Turner Expositions co-owner Paige Kolm, to give back to her community, which has been so supportive of the Home Shows. The avid dog lover is concerned about the high rate of euthanasia and the number of homeless dogs. It is a fact that an astounding 9,000 dogs and cats are killed every day in shelters across the country. “I just wanted to stop being an observer and become a doer. We, as a community, have to help change this situation, and we cannot rely on one entity to shoulder the entire burden,” said Paige.

Of particular benefit to the rescue groups’ adoption efforts is that visitors coming to The Home Show are prepared to shop for the home. In other words, people come with the mindset to spend money. “It’s an entirely different demographic and vibe for the shelters and rescue groups participating,” said Anna Cooke, editor of The New Barker dog magazine. While browsing aisle after aisle of appliances, the latest in home entertainment technology, bedroom decor and comfort options, landscaping, high tech cookware and more, the visitor is pleasantly surprised by the appearance of puppies and dogs. “It’s a nice break for the shopper to interact with the dogs. And, it gives the volunteers fostering the adoptables an opportunity to reach out to a new group of people,” added Cooke. “Maybe some dogs will be adopted. Maybe some shoppers will be inclined to make a donation. In either case, we’re informing more people, outside of the world of rescue, about the work these volunteers are doing.”

Volunteer Pat Hose accepts a donation from The New Barker dog magazine.

Pat Hose, a volunteer for Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay, accepts a donation from The New Barker dog magazine. The New Barker donated five dollars of each magazine subscription purchased via the Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay website.

The Spring Show in March, 2013 was the first time Florida’s Largest Home Show invited the rescue groups. Animal Based Charities helped coordinate the rescue groups. “We had more than 25 groups participate over the three-day event,” said Kolm. “We were so pleased with the response from our guests, that we decided to do it again for our Fall Home Show.”

Home Sweet Dog Home. The New Barker booth during the Spring Home Show and Adoption Fling featured products by Bowsers Pet Products.

Home Sweet Dog Home. The New Barker booth during the Spring Home Show and Adoption Fling featured products by Bowsers Pet Products.

In conjunction with the Fall Fling Adopt-A-Pet, on Saturday, Bay Area Kennel Clubs are participating in an AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. There will be Canine Good Citizen evaluations, demonstrations in Freestyle, Agility and Rally/Obedience. One-on-one sessions with a trainer, a Meet the Breed Parade and more. At The New Barker booth, homeowners will be able to speak with experts about liability insurance for their dogs, a different kind of home security and personal protection option, hospice care/end-of-life planning for the family pet and more. IN DOG WE TRUST will be selling their official NFL sanctioned line of dog bandanas.

Show hours are Friday, October 18, 11a-6p; Saturday, October 19, 11a-7p; Sunday, October 20, 11a-5p. The event is free on Friday during the ABC Action News FREE Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, adult tickets are $8; senior tickets are $7; children under 12 get in free. The Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4800 US Highway 301 North, Tampa. Attendees will want to use the 301 entrance gate.

Yes, Florida's Largest Home Show is Dog Friendly.

Yes, Florida’s Largest Home Show is Dog Friendly.


Paige Kolm/Turner Expositions/813.677.6925

Anna Cooke/The New Barker Dog Magazine/727.214.7453


Taking the Mystery Out of Raw Feeding: Part 2 in a Series.

Focus on the fact that food is food. Whether you’re human, dog, cat, horse or parrot, we all eat food.  What matters is how much protein, fats and carbohydrates you put together, and the vitamins and minerals added depending on the species, i.e. dog vs. cat.

In the modern world, with its many carcinogens, one in three dogs will contract cancer. Just as with people, the addition of highly colored fruits and vegetables to a diet can cut the rate of cancer in dogs by 30%.

Is it safe to feed my pet a raw diet? Safety issues are probably the biggest concern for pet parents when considering a raw diet for their pets. This is not a surprise considering how much contradictory and flat out misinformation exists on the subject. You’ll find an equal amount of information that supports raw feeding as well as discourages raw feeding.


Meet Kato and Drake, two Cane Corsos both on a raw diet with products found at Groovy Cats & Dogs.

The risk involved in feeding a raw diet to your pet is minimal provided you understand what they are and how to manage them. Many veterinarians are not advocates of the raw diet. Their concern, understandably, is that pet parents may not be fully informed about just what a raw diet consists of, and how to properly prepare a raw diet. Throwing down a chunk of raw chicken or beef with some rice in a dog’s bowl is not a raw diet. Veterinarians are also rightfully concerned with the fact that if not properly prepared, a raw diet will lack in certain nutrients, and those deficiencies may eventually make the dog ill.

You’ll want to be aware of the following risks when feeding your dog a raw diet:

Concern #1: Potential for contamination by various bacteria (same risks to humans as when cooking your family a chicken or meatloaf dinner); when feeding a commercially prepared raw diet, your risk is likely lower than when handling meat from your grocer or butcher.

Solution: Any safety concerns regarding bacteria such as salmonella, E-coli or other types of bacteria when handling raw meat are mostly aimed at the humans handling the raw meat, not the family pets. As far as the risks to humans, take the same precautions as handling raw meat to prepare a chicken dinner for the family. Avoid cross-contamination, wash all surfaces and hands thoroughly, for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm soapy water. When it comes to pork, there are additional safety precautions due to potential of trichinosis, so it requires extra care by either freezing it for a longer period of time, or cooking it thoroughly. To read more on safety issues when handling raw meats, visit this link, Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know.  

Concern #2: Your pet and the type of chewer he is will dictate the types of raw meaty bones, if any, you give to your pet.

Solution: Most do-it-yourself raw diets call for a certain percentage of raw meaty bones to be fed as part of  the diet. Bones and cartilage contain good nutrients for pets such as fats, calcium and phosphorous. Bones also provide a wonderful recreational exercise for pets that is hard to beat. Additionally, bones help keep a dog’s teeth sparkly clean. Dogs were designed to chew, tear and shred. So when buying bones, it is essential to make the right choices based on what kind of chewer the dog is in order to minimize any risks. Is the dog a chomper or a gulper when eating food? Has the dog displayed tendencies to swallow large objects whole? Dogs displaying these tendencies are not good candidates for bones.

Dogs can be trained to chew properly, but plan on committing enough time to train the dog and gain the confidence to add bones to the dog’s diet. Another area of concern: some dogs become very food aggressive over bones. They become fixated on them. Many a dog fight has broken out over a bone. The best way to deal with this issue is to separate the dogs in a multiple dog family and/or place them in their own crate. Never leave a dog and a child alone together while the dog is eating. An alterative to feeding bones is to add bone meal (bones ground up into a fine powder) as a supplement. There are several options on the market today which have the meat, bone and cartilage all ground up together.

Concern #3: Does your pet have a compromised immune system? Take that into consideration and monitor carefully when starting out on a raw diet; consider raw diet alternatives such as dehydrated raw and freeze dried raw.

Solution: The current health of the dog must be taken into consideration before going on a raw diet. If the dog has a compromised immune system (meaning the body does not have the ability to defend against illness or medical challenges such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer) precautions should be taken. This doesn’t mean that a raw diet is totally out of the question. It may require a little longer time to transition the dog onto a raw diet. Another consideration may be to utilize one of the raw alternatives available at holistic pet stores to make it easier for the dog to handle and digest. Another option may be to cook the dog’s food to help him transition off commercial kibble and then ease into raw. Consider easy-to-prepare meals by Dr. Harvey’s, The Honest Kitchen, Grandma Lucy’s, Stella & Chewy’s or SOJOS.

It’s always a good idea to seek guidance from a holistic veterinarian, homeopathic veterinarian or a holistic nutritionist experienced in nutrition for companion animals. Adjustments may be required throughout the process, and a supportive professional will assist to achieve the desired goals.

Cats and dogs have different digestive systems than humans.

Things that we eat safely can make our pets sick and vice versa. Generally speaking, dogs and cats have a much shorter digestive tract than humans. A pet’s digestive system is able to handle raw meat better and food is processed in their digestive systems much more quickly than humans. Also, cats and dogs have a higher level of acidity in their systems, making it harder for the bacteria to grow and multiply.

Many commercially prepared raw food diets available today pose even less risk for bacteria because more care is taken to remove potential pathogens. Follow the same safety precautions as suggested by the Food & Drug Administration for handling raw meat in the kitchen when preparing a family meal.

Is a raw diet balanced and complete? Most commercially prepared raw diets are already completely balanced with the right levels of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals. Certain brands or formulas  are called “prey model.” These typically only include meat, ground bone and offal, or organ meats. When starting out, stick to the complete diets that include fruits, vegetables and vitamins. (We’ll revisit prey model and some different approaches to raw feeding, as well as preparing home cooked meals for pets in Part 3 of this series).

Proteins and fats will vary based on the different formulas. Different meats have different protein and fat levels, so based on what kind of meat is in the formula, these levels will vary. Most people start out with chicken, turkey or beef. If the pet has a known food allergy he may need a unique or novel protein like rabbit, goat or pheasant. Novel proteins are becoming increasingly more available in commercial raw pet foods for pet parents whose pets have severe allergies.

Some popular commercial raw frozen diets include: BARF World (stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), BRAVO, Northwest Naturals, O.C. Raw, Oma’s Pride, Primal Pet Foods, Stella & Chewy’s and Vital Essentials. Another consideration would be to start off with a dehydrated or freeze-dried formulation. I recommend Dr. Harvey’s, Grandma Lucy’s, The Honest Kitchen, Stella & Chewy’s, Primal Pet Foods and SOJOS. The main difference between raw frozen and dehydrated or freeze-dried foods is the packaging process. Raw frozen has never been cooked. The foods are chopped, mixed and frozen. Just thaw and feed. Freeze-dried foods have never been cooked. The foods are chopped, mixed, and then forced into a hard freeze. Simply rehydrate by adding water and allowing the mixture to soak for about 30 minutes (for easier digestion) before feeding. Dehydrated has been “gently” cooked with a very low temperature, which removes the moisture and leaves many of the natural enzymes intact. Any of these options are easy to handle. The dehydrated/freeze-dried formulas are great for traveling with the family pet as they are lightweight and can be prepared easily with minimal space and utensils.

How do I transition my pet to a raw diet? Many people make the mistake of switching their pet to a new diet too fast, resulting in gastrointestinal (GI) upset and/or diarrhea. Whether you are switching your pet to a raw food diet, or just a new brand of dry food kibble, you should always ease them into their new food to minimize GI upset. Raw food is processed differently than kibble, so avoid feeding raw and kibble together. It will confuse the body and likely result in excess gas. The best way to transition your pet to any new diet, is to feed the new food as a treat at first. On day one, try giving the new food as a treat a few times throughout the day. Watch the poop. If the poop remains normal, then continue using the new food as a treat throughout the day for the next several days. After a few days with the poop remaining normal, replace one meal with the new raw frozen diet. I recommend feeding the raw meal in the morning, and a kibble meal in the evening. If your pet handles the one raw meal per day for several days, then it is safe to switch completely to the new raw diet. Now, if your pet has only eaten one kind of food for their entire life, or for a number of years, you will need to slow the process down and transition over a longer period of time. Allow your pet’s gut to learn to manage this new food type. It may need some additional support, such as probiotics and/or digestive enzymes. We’ll talk more about these and other supplements in Part 4 of our series Taking the Mystery Out of Raw Feeding.

So, what is the difference between commercially prepared raw diet and do-it-yourself raw diets? Most commercially prepared raw diets are already balanced with the proper ratio of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. When you do-it-yourself at home, you buy the meat, add the proper ratio of fats, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. In the beginning it can be overwhelming for some people. It is not a question of what is better for your pet — it is a question of what are you most comfortable feeding. Most pet parents just starting out feeding raw, start with a commercially prepared raw diet. Be sure to select a “complete and balanced” diet. There are some products available that do not include anything but meat and bone, so that is not considered a complete diet. If you buy a complete diet, there is no guesswork involved. You just determine how much your pet needs to eat on a daily basis and you feed the proper portions. I encourage my customers to start by feeding just one meal of raw per day, feeding the raw meal in the morning and the kibble in the evening. When you become a little more comfortable feeding raw and see your pet thriving on their new diet, you will probably feel more comfortable putting it together yourself. Most of my customers come back eager to learn more after a few short weeks of observing their pet on a raw diet. They see their pet(s) more eager to eat, with shinier coats, brighter eyes and generally renewed healthy, vibrant demeanor.

When should a raw diet be avoided? If your pet has cancer, a suppressed immune system, advanced liver or kidney failure, pancreatitis or serious digestive issues, then it is probably best to avoid a raw diet. Start with home-cooked or a dehydrated or freeze-dried alternative raw option that will be easier for your pet’s digestive system to handle. If your pet has any of the conditions mentioned, I strongly suggest you seek the advice of a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian.

In Part 3 of our series, we’ll discuss how to prepare meals from scratch for your pet. In other words we’ll cover how to make do-it-yourself meals in your own kitchen. We’ll cover raw and home-cooked meals. The series, Taking the Mystery Out of Raw Feeding is a contribution by Yvonne Guibert, written exclusively for The New Barker dog magazine. Yvonne is the owner ofGroovy Cats & Dogs, an all-natural pet boutique located in Tampa, Florida. Their focus has always been on all natural food and treats for cats and dogs.

To find the products listed within this article, call or visit your local, independent pet retailer: Animal House Pet Center, St. Petersburg/727.328.0503; Dog Mania & Cats, Dade City/352.457.9616; Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater/727.446.7999; Groovy Cats & Dogs, Tampa/813.265.1333; One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg/727.527.5825; Paw Paws Pet Boutique, Madeira Beach/727.329.8789; Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg/727.892.9303; Pet Food Warehouse, St. Petersburg/727.521.6191; Pet Supplies Plus, Pinellas Park/727.541.1199; Pet Supplies Plus, Clearwater/727.726.5544; Royal Pets, Tampa/813.448.6744; The Doggie Door, Winter Park/407.644.2969; The Green K9, Mount Dora/352.729.6172; Wet Noses Boutique, Sarasota/941.388.3647.