Ice Cream Is The Answer. (Who Cares What The Question Is).

A scoop of Toasted Coconut and a scoop of Valrhona Chocolate.

A scoop of Toasted Coconut and a scoop of Valrhona Chocolate.

Have you ever been to an ice cream tasting? Ulele presented a delicious experience for the palate as well as the eyes to a lucky few of us last week in Tampa. An official opening date for this fabulous new restaurant has not yet been announced. When it does open, look out, foodies. All details point to success for this newest Gonzmart family project.

Located in the heart of Tampa Heights with a wonderful view of the Hillsborough River, the restaurant (and brewery) will focus on all things local, including fresh fruits, veggies, seafood and “other proteins” from Florida. Richard Gonzmart and his head brewmaster Tim Shackton are even developing a specially-crafted beer to be named after Richard’s German Shepherd Dog, Rusty. And, in keeping with all things sustainable, they are contemplating the creation of dog treats from the spent brewing grains. Is there a Ulele dog treat tasting event in the very near future? Be sure to stay connected to THE NEW BARKER for details.

But, let’s get back to the important subject at hand – the ice cream tasting. American author Ernestine Ulmer is best known for her quote, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” And that’s just exactly what we did last Wednesday at Ulele. Imagine the smooth, creamy, cold and refreshing scoops of six (yes, six) different flavors of ice cream, served up in a half coconut shell. Turns out Mr. Shackton’s other passion is making homemade ice cream. Lucky for all of the taste testers, he did not disappoint. Valrhona Chocolate. Naviera Espresso Swirl. Ugandan Vanilla Bean. Florida Mango. Florida Wildflower Honey. And my personal favorite – Toasted Coconut – transported me to another time.

Savoring each spoonful, with my eyes closed, I saw a little girl visiting grandparents in Puerto Rico with her mother. Details and presentation are just as important as the food itself to fulfill a unique experience. So, the delicious memory of a street vendor handing me a half coconut shell filled with creamy coconut ice cream on that sunny day so many years ago, was perfectly recreated last Wednesday evening at Ulele. It is no coincidence that Richard Gonzmart’s philosophy for his new venture is to honor past generations while creating memories for the next generation.

We were each given a form to rate the ice cream. And, oh my goodness, that was tough. But, hey that’s the price a hardworking ice cream taster must pay in order to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s creativity in the kitchen. Understandably, I did not require dinner that evening. Which now reminds me of an Erma Bombeck quote, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Looking out onto the Hillsborough River from inside Ulele.

Looking out onto the Hillsborough River from inside Ulele.

Arrowheads that Richard Gonzmart has been collecting over the years, have been infused into the bar tops.

Arrowheads that Richard Gonzmart has been collecting over the years, have been infused into the bar tops.

Richard Gonzmart giving the taste testers a little background on the inspiration of Ulele.

Richard Gonzmart giving the taste testers a little background on the inspiration of Ulele.

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 www.thenewbarker.com 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 www.thenewbarker.com 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.

A Case for the Power of Love.

INTRO: One of the recipients of the 14th annual AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) was featured in the spring issue of The New Barker dog magazine. His just-announced award is well-deserved. Only four months after his front leg was amputated and three weeks after completing chemotherapy, Bart earned his Senior Hunter title and continued to the Master Hunter level. Bart and Darcy, his human, were invited to visit with soldiers from the Wounded Warrior program. Bart, who ran fast and hard during a guided hunt, was an inspiration to the soldiers without limbs, and overcoming their own battle scars. Our story, A Case for the Power of Love, was written by Pam Stuart, a member of the Tampa Bay Vizsla Club. It may look like a long read, but if you’re in need of a smile and some inspiration, it’s well worth your time.

Bart with Darcy, getting ready for a run to guide Wounded Warriors.

Bart with Darcy, getting ready for a run to guide Wounded Warriors.

STORY: Life. It’s been said that life is what happens to you while you’re making plans. If you’re familiar with the sport of agility, life is like running an agility course: you have a start line at the beginning and a finish line at the end, with lots of obstacles in between. Sometimes there are challenges—wrong courses and dropped bars—but you and your dog run the course together and there is always praise and joy because you tried. You may not have a perfect run, you may not have earned a “Q”, but you and your best friend ran together, did as well as you could, and lived and loved in that moment.

Life. In times of strife, those challenges—those wrong courses and dropped bars—become the defining moments in which we find our strengths and our capabilities. Those moments test our mettle, our courage, our fortitude and our resolve. It is a great test for us when our beloved dog, our best friend and our heart on four legs, is diagnosed with a serious illness. Shock. Sadness. Denial. Reality. How did this happen and why? If we had the answers, oh, if we had the answers. It’s always been Darcy and Bart. For years. I can’t remember how or when we met, but it has always been Darcy and Bart. Darcy is a friend of immeasurable love, kindness, and strength. Strength that was tested when she and her Vizsla Bart, started on their journey.

It began with a limp early in 2008, during hunt and field season. It was just a sports-related injury. Bart was only three years old; a strong, young dog from a well-planned breeding who had already finished his show championship. He ran marathons with Darcy, his longest at 16 miles. He was on his way to great success in the field as nothing was slowing him down. Not even this limp. Dogs have their way of communicating with us. We know. We know our dogs and we just know. Is it a look? Is it intuition? Whatever It is—it is.

One June morning, Bart came out of his crate, looked up at Darcy and they went to the vet. The doctor found a lump on the top of the left shoulder and x-rays were ordered. They revealed that 80% of the scapula had been eaten away by cancer. Thankfully, Bart was young and in peak physical condition, which may have prevented further injury. After a biopsy confirmed osteosarcoma, Darcy, without hesitation, looked at the vet and asked how quickly Bart’s leg could be removed. Bart underwent a full scapulectomy. The surgery was a success as the doctor was able to get clean margins.

How could this happen to such a sweet, young dog? And why? Everything about Bart was not about cancer. Everything about osteosarcoma was bleak: the statistics, the poor prognoses, the dismal outcomes. Again, why? When word went out through the Vizsla grapevine of Darcy and Bart’s plight, I remember the sinking feeling of knowing osteosarcoma, and all that this diagnosis meant. I asked Darcy how she found the strength. She said: “Love. When he was first diagnosed, I kept asking myself why we were going through this and twice I saw the word LOVE, in bright, luminescent letters, inside my mind’s eye. When I saw it the second time, I gave in and took a leap of faith that this was going to be a journey of LOVE. Love of Bart, love from friends, love from strangers, love of this journey—and that has been my strength. It has been the best worst thing that has ever happened to me. Thankfully, there is an endless supply of love, so I feel we are prepared to keep on keepin’ on for as long as we need to.”

Friends came together in the name of love, as true friends do. Bart’s breeder became the Research and Development Department, attending vet appointments, taking notes, supporting her friend through this maze of science, medicine and spirituality. A TeamBarty Yahoo group sprang up so everyone could be kept up to date on the latest developments through photos and shared stories. Darcy put it best: “Friends became family, and strangers became friends.” TeamBarty gained traction and folks began to send items for the fund-raising yard sales, financial support, emotional support, prayers, toys and treats. Cards and letters from across the country started appearing in the mail box, often from strangers offering their sympathy, love and support.

When Bart came home from surgery, Darcy’s first priority was to try to get back to a sense of normalcy and Bart was all for that. They would take their morning walks, at first only to the end of the driveway. Then to the neighbor’s yard, then further down the street. Walks became runs. A milestone was reached when a run included an easy jump over a low retaining wall. Barty was back. A Vizsla is a hunting dog and hunting was deep in Bart’s genes. In October 2008, as a tri-paw, four months after an amputation and three weeks after completing his chemotherapy, Bart earned the fourth and final leg towards his Senior Hunter title for pointing breeds. For those not familiar with pointing breed hunt and field titles, to qualify for the SH title, the dog must run and hunt birds for 30 minutes, find, point and retrieve to the AKC’s exacting standards. Many dogs don’t get that far on four legs. Bart did it in grand style on three.

Bart continues to amaze and inspire those around him.

Bart continues to amaze and inspire those around him.

Darcy and Bart went even further and began competing for the Master Hunter title. There were times during their hunt tests when judges would have a sympathetic look for that poor girl and her three legged dog. Sympathy changed to awe as many grown men and women, often with tears in their eyes, were so moved by the courage and determination of the beautiful spirit in that beautiful dog. And Bart did earn that Master Hunter title, ten months after his amputation. Bart is the first Vizsla in history to have completed the Master Hunter title, start to finish—on three legs. Darcy and Bart have soldiered on, continuing their journey together in living life and performing in the field. They have also participated in the Vizsla Club of America All-Star review which honors Vizslas that have earned both their conformation championship along with one of the highest hunt or field titles.

Darcy with Bart, who gets some attention from one of the Wounded Warriors members.

Darcy with Bart, who gets some attention from one of the Wounded Warriors members.

The ribbons, the titles, the accolades—that’s all a bonus. Darcy and Bart have already won the real prize. They have lived, loved and grown through this journey that continues still. In the summer of 2010, Darcy and Bart were invited to visit with the military personnel in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who are part of the Wounded Warrior Project. Later that fall, the Wounded Warriors came to Atlanta over Thanksgiving weekend and watched Bart compete in a field trial. Most recently, in January 2013, Bart, who will soon turn eight, ran fast and hard during a guided hunt with the Wounded Warriors, inspiring soldiers returning home who are overcoming their own battle scars.

Bart, on point. Love, in bright luminescent letters.

Bart, on point. Love, in bright luminescent letters.

Bart leads by example—thriving; never giving up and living life to the fullest thanks to love—in bright, luminescent letters.

We look forward to meeting Bart and the other ACE recipients this December in Orlando during a ceremony at the AKC Eukanuba Nationals.

Good News for Moms: It’s Puppy Week for Kids on PBS.

Starting Monday, June 24 on PBS KIDS, the all-new Martha Speaks will be filled with puppies. The popular show returns for a fifth season of new episodes, new adventures and a puppy theme all week.

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Martha, of course is America’s favorite talking dog. Martha Speaks is a production of WGBH Boston and Oasis Animation Inc. The show works to help increase children’s oral vocabulary, teaching children (between the ages of four and seven) words like famous, admire, understudy and more.

“We think puppies are the perfect vehicle to teach kids new vocabulary. Words like destroy, mess, ruin, exhausted, and anticipation,” said senior executive producer Carol Greenwald.

The New Barker has listed the Florida schedule for the PBS show below. And in celebration of the fifth season, kids can visit www.PBSKIDS.org/martha to interact with Martha Speaks. Kids will be able to decorate photos of their puppies using props and descriptive words in the popular Dog Tags game. Kids will also be able to print out Puppy Printables. Parents will find recommended books about dogs for their children to read. There are also tips for kids on puppy safety and puppy adoption.

PBS KIDS is the number one educational media brand for kids, offering all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds. Watch Martha Speaks in Florida at the following stations throughout the week:

Tampa (WEDU)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am and 4:00pm
 
Miami (WPBT)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 3:30pm
 
Miami (WLRN)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 3:00pm
 
Orlando (WUCF)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am
 
West Palm Beach (WXEL)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am
 
Jacksonville (WJCT)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am and 5:00pm
 
Pensacola (WSRE)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 6:30am and 4:30pm
 
Fort Myers (WGCU)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am and 3:30pm
 
Tallahassee (WFSU)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am and 6:00pm
 
Panama City (WFSG)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 6:30am and 5:00pm
 
Gainesville (WUFT)
New episodes Mon 6/24 – Thu 6/27 at 7:30am

 

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.

All You Need Is The Love Of A Dog For Valentine’s Day.

While doing some window shopping over the last couple of weeks, we discovered some fun finds for Valentine’s Day gift ideas at local Tampa Bay Area dog boutiques. The proprietors are constantly searching the country for unique dog-themed items. So, if you’re in the mood to shop with and for your dog, stop in at any one of the local area shops, and say hello. It pays to shop with The New Barker Valentine’s Gift Guide. Simply mention The New Barker dog magazine when you make a purchase, email us your receipt (info@thenewbarker.com) and you will automatically receive one of the following, while supplies last:

1) A gift certificate from a Bay Area dog-friendly restaurant.

2) A gift certificate from Florida Jean Company or from Bella By the Sea Boutique.

3) A DVD of the Disney/Tim Burton film, Frankenweenie (a 4-disc combo pack).

4) A DVD of the family-friendly movie I Heart Shakey.

5) A perpetual dog-themed calendar, with beautiful black and white photos, and touching dog-themed quotes. Perfect for annual recurring dates like birthdays and anniversaries.

6) Tickets to upcoming dog-friendly events, such as Florida’s Largest Home & Garden Show or the Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event & Jack Terrier Races.

7) Then, you will automatically be registered (just by sending us your emailed receipt) for A Getaway Package from one of our dog-friendly Florida resort partners, like the TradeWinds Island Grand, Steinhatchee Landing Resort, Changing Tides, Hotel Indigo, Siesta Key Bungalows, The Chart House Suites, Heron Cay Lakeview Bed & Breakfast.

So, how much do we love our dogs? Let us count the ways.

1) Accentuate Your Love - We found these pillows (shown below) at Fluffy Puppies in Clearwater. Vamp up a couch or chair, and show the world you love to adopt dogs.

Fluffy Puppies, 727.446.7999

These pillows are the perfect Valentine’s gift for anyone who volunteers in animal rescue.

 

2) One of our most spectacular finds were these Bada Bling Bada Bloom collars at Fluffy Puppies (shown below). Exquisitely adorned with Swarovski crystal beads, you might think they would be ridiculously expensive. But, think again. They’re beautiful and reasonably priced. Perfect for a night on the town.

Gorgeous collars, adorned with Swarovski beads. Available at Fluffy Puppies.

Gorgeous collars, adorned with Swarovski beads. Available at Fluffy Puppies.

3) Be My Valentine. Now, if it’s your dog you’re shopping for, this sweet little I Heart You tee, worn by our model, Chloe, says it all. Available at One Lucky Dog in multiple sizes, while supplies last. Be sure to check out their line of  tee shirts for humans, including the “I Kissed A Dog and I Liked It.”

Nothing says "Be Mine" than the I Heart You tee shirt from One Lucky Dog, St. Pete.

Nothing says “Be Mine” than the I Heart You tee shirt from One Lucky Dog, St. Pete.

Soft, nicely cut tee shirts from One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg.

Soft, nicely cut tee shirts from One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg.

4 & 5)  Call Me, Maybe? Oh yea these numbers are one-of-a-kind finds, and available exclusively at Pawsitively Posh Pooch. Hand-sewn with delicate appliqués and jewels, the couture lines carried at Pawsitively Posh Pooch are from fashion-first cities like Milan, Paris, and Spain. Plan on spending some time here, as you uncover treasure after treasure, like the gorgeous harness, worn by store dog, Zoe. Available in various sizes.

This couture doggie design, exclusively at Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg.

This couture doggie design, exclusively at Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg.

Zoe, our Pawsitively Posh Pooch model, wearing a one-of-a-kind halter.

Zoe, our Pawsitively Posh Pooch model, wearing a one-of-a-kind halter.

6) Dental Health Month. In conjunction with National Pet Dental Health Month, February is also Responsible Pet Owners Month. Now is a good time to stock up on some in-home preventive measures like the Fresh Breath Liquid Floss spray and Triflossball, available at Pet Food Warehouse. The dynamic duo treatment doubles as a great way to clean your dog’s teeth during playtime. Throughout February, Pet Food Warehouse is offering 20% off on all dental products. Stop in to see their huge display, and have your questions answered by a knowledgeable staff. Be sure to check out their I Heart Dogs T-shirts. Another sweet Valentine’s gift for dog lovers.

Floss and Fun with your dog for healthier teeth. Available at Pet Food Warehouse, St. Pete.

Floss and Fun with your dog for healthier teeth. Available at Pet Food Warehouse, St. Pete.

Novelty tee-shirts, like this one, available at Pet Food Warehouse, St. Petersburg.

Novelty tee-shirts, like this one, available at Pet Food Warehouse, St. Petersburg.

7) Environmentally dog-friendly. Who can resist the charming handmade and hand-painted Adirondack chairs, complete with a motif that includes your dog’s likeness? Wet Noses, the shabby-chic cottage boutique in Sarasota’s Downtown, carries some wonderful finds, created by local artists.

Handmade and hand-painted Adirondack chairs, available at Wet Noses Boutique, Sarasota.

Handmade and hand-painted Adirondack chairs, available at Wet Noses Boutique, Sarasota.

For the love of dog, come along and have some fun with Florida’s top dog lifestyle magazine. Be sure to stay connected to all things Florida Dog via The New Barker blog, Facebook page and Weekend PupDates. We’ll be offering fun specials and more giveaways throughout the year.

Because of You.

The staff at the veterinary hospital braced themselves behind the desk. Across the lobby they watched as a couple scrutinized the invoice’s contents for their dog’s medical treatment. Their dog, who had been diagnosed with renal cancer, had just undergone a successful yet grueling surgical procedure to remove her cancerous kidney, and part of her adrenal gland. She was still in recovery, under close watch. The office manager was prepared to explain the bill, but Dr. Nick Bacon, the surgical oncologist, walked towards Lisa and Harry Posin instead. As Harry pointed to the bill, he remarked, “Dr. Bacon, I think there must be some mistake with the bill.” So Dr. Bacon graciously began the task of going over each item on the bill, line by line. Afterwards, Harry pressed on, “But doctor, the bill is too low. Is your fee in here? Dr. Bacon exhaled. Suddenly, the weariness from the surgery washed away, as he assured Harry that indeed his fee was part of the bill. Thus began a warm and mutually rewarding relationship between Dr. Bacon, the Posins, Olive, their beloved Maltese, and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Olive, during her promotional photo shoot for Olive's Way.

Olive, during her promotional photo shoot for Olive’s Way.

Olive’s Way. A Love Story. Olive was three when Lisa and Harry noticed something was not right. Their always alert and energetic dog had been lethargic for several days, and her eyes appeared puffy. They took her to their family veterinary clinic in Boca Raton where she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, and subsequently treated with steroids. But Olive’s condition wasn’t improving. In fact, while Lisa’s mom, Marie McCarron was babysitting Olive, she observed that Olive seemed to be getting worse. Marie drove Olive to the veterinary clinic, stormed the office and firmly requested, “I want to see the records for my granddaughter.”

It turns out, no blood work had ever been done on Olive to confirm, or pinpoint the origin of her illness. Lisa flew back from New York immediately, and took Olive to her mother’s veterinarian in Boynton Beach. “When the doctor came out of the exam room, holding Olive in his arms, I knew right away by the look on his face that something was terribly wrong,”said Lisa. “I called Harry and asked him to please come over, right away. And then, for some reason, when I hung up the phone, I just walked out of the clinic’s lobby, holding tightly onto Olive’s little sweater. I just walked and walked for, I don’t know how many miles. When a car pulled up alongside me, I turned to see it was Harry. He was holding Olive, and I could tell he had been crying.”

“Olive has cancer,” Harry told Lisa. “We’ll get her the best treatment available,” he assured her.

The Posins immediately took Olive to a specialty hospital in Coral Springs to see Dr. Morales. From what she had been told by Marie’s veterinarian, Dr. Morales initially thought to herself that there was little hope for Olive. She would make sure Olive was comfortable until the Posins were ready to let her go.

But the tests that Dr. Morales ran revealed a glimmer of hope. The cancer was encapsulated, and if removed immediately, Olive might stand a good chance of living. When the Posins asked Dr. Morales where they should go for the surgery, she immediately recommended the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Lisa looked at Harry, and then at Dr. Morales and said, “I don’t think you understand, Dr. Morales. We’ll take Olive anywhere in the world to ensure that she receives the best possible treatment and care.” Without a blink of an eye, Dr. Morales gently answered, “Well, then, you’ll be taking Olive to the University of Florida, of course.”

While Lisa, her mom and Olive traveled to Gainesville by plane that same afternoon, Dr. Morales was already on the phone with Dr. Nick Bacon, head of the Oncology Unit at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Harry would fly up later that evening.

What makes the UF College of Veterinary Medicine so special is the team approach taken with each patient to reach a diagnosis and recommend the subsequent care. For one consultation fee, the patient is seen by an entire team of specialists in one location. It is often a profound savings in cost, and certainly a savings in time, as all tests, procedures and specialists are contained on one campus. Once in the system, a family is gently guided throughout the various processes by the team, while being provided thorough explanations and assurances along the way.

Dr. Bacon explained the bell curve of Olive’s diagnosis and prognosis to Lisa and Marie. She could live another 16 months if the surgery was successful, he told them. As reassuring as the entire team in the room was being, Lisa was still consumed with fear and utter sadness at the realization that Olive could actually die. A young woman on Olive’s team, sitting next to Lisa, took her hand and said, “We’re here to help you, any way we can.” Suddenly, Lisa looked around and became acutely aware of her surroundings. “I felt as if I was in the most amazing place, with the most amazing people,” said Lisa. “The positive energy within that whole environment made me feel hopeful, and I realized at that moment, anything was possible.”

Several times during the nearly six hour surgery the following morning, the Posin’s were given updates on Olive’s condition. Afterwards, Dr. Bacon, who had performed the surgery, sat with the Posins for about an hour to further discuss Olive’s condition with them. 24 hours after the surgery, the Posins were able to peek in on Olive. “It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life,” said Lisa, “She was swaddled up, and with her pretty bright eyes looking at me, I just knew she was going to be okay.”

Convinced that the bill was correct, but not completely satisfied, Harry asked Dr. Bacon, “How much money is raised each year for the oncology unit?” Surprisingly, on average, only $10,000 in donations came in sporadically each year by humans whose animals’ lives had been touched by the College of Veterinary Medicine. “They were making due with what they had,” said Lisa.

The Posins, who had together already decided they would make a donation to the oncology unit for their efforts in having saved Olive’s life, decided that they also wanted to create a vehicle to raise even more money specifically for the Oncology Unit. Through this foundation, all of the money raised would go to help develop more research programs, purchase state-of-the-art equipment and fund in whole or part, an internship, a residency in medical oncology, and a fellowship in surgical oncology.

“Harry named the foundation Olive’s Way to show that this would be the way, a beacon of hope for those pets suffering with cancer. Because with hope, as I already know, anything is possible,” said Lisa. In 2008, a year after Olive’s surgery, the first fundraiser was held at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, raising an astounding $320,000. Olive attended, as did Dr. Bacon. “Once people knew of the wonderful work taking place at the University, they immediately wanted to help by making donations to the foundation. They had just never realized that their help was needed to keep the College of Veterinary Medicine viable and growing,” said Lisa. “Due to the severity of Olive’s illness and the complex nature of the surgery,” Harry strongly believes, “had it not been for the skilled oncology team at the University of Florida, we would likely have lost Olive on the operating table.”

The oncology service at the College of Veterinary Medicine has grown from a single clinician in 2002 to the largest training center for veterinary oncologists in the Southeastern United States. In 2010, the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida opened a new hospital with 100,000 square feet dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of veterinary patients. Today, the University of Florida is one of only two centers in the world to train veterinarians in cancer surgery in a post-residency program. Olive’s Way has helped to make all of this possible. Olive defied the odds and lived another four years after her surgery. “They were four good years too,” said Lisa, who can still vividly recall the day it was time to let Olive go. “I was lying in bed with her face on my face. Harry was looking at us with tears in his eyes, waiting to take her. That precise moment in time always comes back to me whenever I see anyone else in pain. I still miss her dearly, and telling her story allows me to get back in touch with her. I never want to lose sight of her, and I can be completely re-charged just by seeing a picture of her.” Dr. Bacon changed the Posin’s lives, and they changed his. As a result, he has changed the whole landscape of the oncology department at the University. “Even though cancer is such a horrible subject, we are on the hopeful side of it, thanks to Olive’s Way, and the Oncology Department at the University of Florida,” said Lisa.

Her Name is Lucca, the Military Working Dog.

'Canines With Courage'

Retired U.S. Marine Rober Harr, 86 (center) with U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham (right) and U.S. Marine Cpl. Juan Rodriguez (left) with Lucca on the Natural Balance 2013 Rose Parade Float, Canines with Courage. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times).

A decade ago, Military Working Dogs like Lucca would have most likely been euthanized after her service. The dogs were considered government equipment and too dangerous to return to domestic life. Thousands of dogs working for the military have been sent overseas since 1942. Over the years, many have been left behind as excess equipment. During the Vietnam War, about 4,000 American war dogs were employed in various capacities. About 300 dogs were killed in action or were victims of either tropical diseases or infections. The rest of the dogs were reportedly put down by military veterinarians or given to the South Vietnamese Army.

In 2000, President Clinton signed a law allowing retired soldiers and civilians to adopt the Military Working Dogs after their deployments.

John Burnam, who served in Vietnam and wrote a first-person account of working with a front-line scout dog named Clipper, will also be riding on the float today. Clipper never made it back to the United States. Burnam is president of the foundation that established the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which is scheduled to be completed in October, 2013. Burnam’s story about Clipper inspired Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC), who introduced legislation for a national monument. In 2008, President Bush signed the bill into law, and President Obama authorized Burnam’s foundation to build and maintain the San Antonio, Texas monument.

The bronze statue features a Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and a Belgian Malinois leading a dog handler on patrol. The $1.2 million dollar price tag was funded solely by grants and donations led by sponsors Natural Balance, Petco and Maddie’s Fund.

Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, 23, credits Lucca with saving his life. The dog sniffed out a booby trap, setting off the bomb that took her leg. Cpl. Rodriguez later escorted Lucca to her first handler, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham, 33. Lucca is living the life of spoiled retirement, and enjoying every minute of it.

The New Barker dog magazine is honored to be a longtime supporter and sponsor of Military Working Dog Team Support Association (MWDTSA). Over the years, through the support of our retail advertisers and their own generous customers, supplies have been collected for the dogs and their handlers currently deployed overseas. We have collected the donations and transported them to the SPCA Florida in Lakeland. There, they are either shipped to Atlanta, or Dixie Whitman, the executive director of MWDTSA drives to Lakeland from Atlanta to pick up the supplies. Dixie then packages and ships the supplies directly to the deployed handlers and their dogs.

You can learn more about this fine organization by reading Lucca’s story. Supplies continue to be collected at Fluffy Puppies, Clearwater; Gone to the Dogs, St. Pete Beach; Groovy Cats & Dogs, Tampa; One Lucky Dog, St. Petersburg; Paw Paws Pet Boutique, Madeira Beach; Pawsitively Posh Pooch, St. Petersburg; Pet Food Warehouse, St. Petersburg; Pet Supplies Plus, Clearwater & Pinellas Park; and Wet Noses Boutique, Sarasota.

We wanted to share a story that was first reported by the New York Daily News on Monday, December 17. The comfort dogs are able to bring is no surprise to dog lovers. The New Barker joins the nation in sending our thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones as a result of this tragedy.

Comfort dogs help ease pain of mourning Newtown Community. By Jennifer H. Cunningham and Adam Edelman for the New York Daily News. Photography is by Allison Joyce for the New York Daily News.

A pack of sympathetic groups bearing supportive canines spent much of Monday with bereaved Connecticut residents affected by last week’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, providing children and adults alike with the cuddly comfort that only a four-legged friend can give.

The therapy dogs were brought in by at least three groups late Sunday to help kids and adults alike cope with last week’s horrific shooting in Newtown that left 20 first graders and six school officials dead.

Among the groups was the Hudson Valley Golden Retrievers Club, whose members spent the afternoon at a makeshift memorial near the town center, where both kids and adults in need of compassion stopped to pet and cuddle the dogs.

Mourning or otherwise devastated children and parents said that petting the dogs gave them relief from their sadness.

“I just love dogs, so whenever I’m around them, they make me feel better,” said 12-year-old Ryan Williams. “When they come over and you pet them you kind of forget about what’s happening for a little bit.”

Jenna Stuart, a school bus driver from Newtown, said the dogs were an enormous help to her four-year-old daughter, Kylie, who attends preschool at the Children’s Adventure Center in front of Sandy Hook Elementary and lost friends in the tragedy.

“I like the dogs because they made me happy,” said Kylie, after petting one on the head. “The dogs love me.”

Some residents, who weren’t directly affected by the bloodshed, found peace in simply bringing their own dogs to help others.

Sandy Hook resident Ann Mari Cioffi, a member of the Hudson Valley Golden Retrievers Club, brought her dog, Libby, 5, to comfort victims, at a memorial in the center of town.

“They’re just gentle, caring, kind and sweet. Cioffi said of the dogs. “They just seem to sense it. They just sense when somebody’s sad.”

Massachusetts- based K-9′s For Kids Pediatric Therapy Dogs was also among the groups sharing their tail-wagging buddies.

Crystal Wright, 52, of Becket, Mass., a dog handler with the group for Rhiku, a 5 year old Sheltie, said the canine had been easing frowns all day.

“Everyone likes to pet a dog,” she said. “It changes the mood. It kind of takes them away from what they’re going through for a moment. I think it’s helping. I think they needed it.”

Some canines even traveled across the country to help out.

Trainers from the Chicago-based Lutheran Church Charities, which has deployed its comfort dogs to other communities hit by tragedy in the past, brought in 10 to 15 Golden Retrievers and their handlers to Connecticut to help with the consolation efforts, Tim Hetzner, the president of the organization, said.

For information on becoming a therapy dog team with your dog, contact the following organizations: Therapy Dogs International: http://www.TDI-Dog.org; Delta Society: http://www.DeltaSociety.org; Therapy Dogs Inc.: http://www.TherapyDogs.com

Florida’s New Tourism Slogan: The Good Dog State.

This month, the Governor’s Office of  Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development might want to consider re-branding the Sunshine State to the Good Dog State. From Jacksonville to West Palm Beach, Tampa Bay to Orlando and everywhere in between, Florida is chockfull of dog friendly events.

What’s more, if you’ve been thinking about bringing another dog into the family, October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Many of the events this weekend and next will have rescue groups and their adoptables on hand.

This is Petey, available for adoption through All Dog Rescue of Florida.

Over the last couple of weeks we have met some pretty amazing people who donate whatever time they have to volunteer for various rescue groups. Of course, we’ve met some pretty incredible dogs too. Like Petey, who was abandoned as a puppy along with his mom, both found wandering the streets. All Dog Rescue of Florida is fostering Petey, and has already put $800 into him for his medical treatment. And still, his adoption fee is only $300. So, in your travels over the weekend, should you happen to attend one of the following events and come upon a rescue group, please drop a dollar or two in the donation jar. Petey (and many more like him) will thank you with puppy love and sweet kisses.

While you’re out and about on Saturday, October 20, you will definitely work up an appetite. And that’s a good thing, because our best event pick of the day is happening at the Clearwater Quaker Steak & Lube.  Don’t miss the Red Hot Rescue Chili Cook Off from 1p until 6p, hosted by the Florida Great Pyrenees Club. There will be some delicious samplings from some pretty competitive cooks, along with live entertainment, rescue groups, raffle items, giveaways, auctions and demonstrations. Not only will you satisfy your appetite, but your heart and soul will be filled up as well. All proceeds will benefit the participating rescue groups.

If you happen to be traveling through Lutz on Saturday, you might think you’re seeing spots. You would be right, since Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay will be hosting their annual fundraiser, Dal-loween at Lake Park just off North Dale Mabry Highway. This is another one of those rescue groups whose volunteers have worked tirelessly over the years, and this is the one event that helps them sustain as a 501c3 all year long. Go, Spots. Go.

About 2000 people and hundreds of their dogs are expected to be at the Shell Factory’s Doggy Heaven this Saturday, October 20 for Goldenfest, hosted by Golden Retriever Rescue of Southwest Florida. If you know Golden Retrievers, you’ll love that one of the offerings throughout the day will be Pet Brushing and Furminating. The Shell Factory (located in Fort Myers) is also home to SunCoast DockDogs, so demonstrations and competitions will be held. Other organizations on hand with adoptables: SW Florida Wiener Dog Club, Healing Paws-Ability Agility, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Grey Muzzle, Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, and the Pitbull Crew of Florida.If you happen to stick around through Sunday, check out the Doggie Church, a half hour non-denominational service held at 12:30 pm. By the way, our choice for dog friendly hotel accommodations would be Hotel Indigo, just minutes from the Shell Factory.

Maybe you’re a fan of the low-riding wiener dog. You’re in luck. The annual Dachstoberfest takes place on Sunday, October 21 between 10a and 2p at Centennial Square in West Palm Beach. There will be a Dachshund Parade, Doxie Dash Race, and a Costume Contest Competition conducted by The New Barker rover reporter and award-winning photographer, Tina Valant. Proceeds from this event benefit Dachshund Rescue of South Florida. Tina will also be handing out complimentary copies of The New Barker while supplies last. Travel tip: You’ll receive a delicious brunch during your stay at Hibiscus House B&B in West Palm Beach. Your dogs get to wander around the lushly landscaped, fenced-in yard, while you dine poolside.

We’re betting that the biggest gathering of dogs and people in Florida will take place this Sunday, October 21, at the 12th Annual Stride for Strays 3k Walk and Fundraiser for Animal Coalition of Tampa. Curtis Hixon Park on the Riverfront is one of the coolest venues in Florida. Stride for Strays has proven time and again, to be one of the most entertaining, fun-filled afternoons for the entire family. The Doggie Fun Zone will be set up for Agility demonstrations, and there will be plenty of food available (including vegan-friendly menus). Be sure to check out Groovy Cats & Dogs and Lucky Dog Daycare for specials and treats.

Also this Sunday, The Jacksonville Landing is hosting their 4th Annual Howl-O-Ween Bash and Yappy Hour between 2p and 5p. This has become known as the Largest Dog Costume Contest in Jacksonville. Complimentary copies of The New Barker will be available. Travel tip: Hotel Indigo does have a Jacksonville location as well.

Pitbull advocate and singer/songwriter John Shipe will be coming to Florida next weekend, courtesy of Pitbull Happenings. He will be at the 4th Annual Dogtoberfest at The Shops of Wiregrass, a daylong adoptathon on Saturday, October 27 with multiple rescue groups from all over Florida on hand. The event is hosted by Animal Based Charities.

For more howling good times, be sure to check out The New Barker calendar. Spooktacular picks, including the 6th Annual Barkoween, hosted by Fluffy Puppies, and A Pawsitively Posh Halloween Party, hosted by Pawsitively Posh Pooch are always good bets for a whole lotta fun. One Lucky Dog in St. Petersburg and Wet Noses Boutique in Sarasota are each hosting their own dog-friendly Halloween Parties, as are Pet Food Warehouse, Gone to the Dogs Boutique, What A Dog Play Center and The Doggie Door.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, be safe. Florida dogs are counting on you to look out for them (and to not leave them behind). For now, we’ll leave you with a funny (yet, sadly true) PSA from The Shelter Pet Project.