Zoe, My Heart Dog.

Zoe, a 17-year-old Cockapoo, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this past week. She was the Perfect Pup, never wanting for anything. Her goal in life, every day, was to just be by my side.

Thank you to DocB and her tech, Wren, both with Helping Hands Pet Hospice for your assistance and reassurance. Thank you to Joyce with Natures Pet Loss, who kindly took Zoe’s body for aquamation. Also, thank you to the staff at Medicine River Animal Hospital who always took such good care of Zoe as a senior dog. And, a special thanks to Jennifer at Pet Styles By Jennifer in Dunedin for your kind words.

Zoe was my shadow, and there is an emptiness, for sure. But, she was the happiest dog I’d ever had the pleasure of loving, so it will be easy to remember what a joy she was.


I Want A Purebred Dog.

Did you know that in Florida alone, almost every breed of dog has a rescue group? Volunteers donate their time and money to pull dogs from shelters, vet and foster them with the ultimate goal being to find someone that will want to adopt them. The volunteers also help with fundraising – soliciting for supplies, food and money. They attend community events with the adoptables to help socialize the dogs, give them exposure to the public and potential adopters.

Over the next couple of weekends, several Florida rescue groups are hosting their biggest fundraising events of the year. The money raised for each of these groups will help them care for the dogs currently in their care and to help save more dogs. If you’re thinking of adopting soon, consider visiting one of these events. Talk to some of the volunteers about the work they’re doing. You may find an opportunity to become a foster yourself – kind of a way to “test drive” a dog before actually adopting.

For the Seniors: Friday, November 13 – Wild West Casino Night. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater will be the site of this fun-filled benefit for Canine Estates. Live entertainment, gambling, silent auction, cash bar and hors d’oeuvres. This is a group that pulls smaller senior dogs from high kill shelters and nurses them back to health. To read more about what they do, visit www.CanineEstates.com

For the Corgis: Saturday, November 14 – Florida Corgi Picnic. Paradise Luxury Pet Resort in Palm Bay. Proceeds will benefit Corgi Aid. Visit http://www.CorgiAid.org for more information.

For the Dalmatians: Saturday, November 14 – Fall FestiDAL (formerly known as Dal-loween). Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, 1320 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg hosts the rescue group, Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay. Silent auctions, drawings, games and doggie costume contest. Classic firetrucks. Live music. Nail clipping booth for the dogs. Oh, and Dal-licious treats. For more information, email DalDogEvents@msn.com or visit http://daretorescue.com

For the Boxers: Saturday, November 14 – Chili Cook-off. Second Chance Boxer Rescue Ranch, 6106 W. Knight’s Griffin Rd., Plant City. www.SaveABoxer.org

For the Poodles: Wednesday, November 18 – 2nd Annual Puttin’ On The Poodle. Michael’s On East, 1212 S. East Avenue in Sarasota will host Florida Poodle Rescue during this luncheon benefit. There will be an auction, shopping and lots of fun. Visit www.FloridaPoodleRescue.org

For the Dachshunds: Saturday, November 21 – 10th Annual Dox-A-Palooza. Sun-N-Fun Event Pavilion, 4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland. Billed as a “wienerful opportunity” to make a difference in the lives of fostered, adoptable Dachshunds. This festival-like event gets bigger every year and includes the ever-fantastic Wiener Races. Put on by the volunteers of D.A.R.E. – Dachshund Adoption Rescue And Education. Visit their website at www.DareToRescue.com

For the Boxers: Sunday, December 13 – 15th Annual Boxer Bash, hosted by Florida Boxer Rescue. The theme is Winter Wonderland and it all takes place at Wishing Well Barn, 4302 Pippin Road, Plant City. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, call 888.612.5782. This group has rescued and re-homed more than 4500 Boxers. For more information visit www.FLBR.org

The reasons people want to bring a dog into their homes are plentiful and varied – from teaching our children responsibility to wanting a companion. As the holidays approach, our wishes sometimes overtake common sense. The thought of watching a loved one unwrap a puppy or kitten might seem romantic or adorable. Sometimes, we succumb to the pressure of wanting to make someone so happy that we’ll seek out a solution that is not always the best choice. Please, don’t be tempted to buy a puppy from a store, when there are so many good dogs, puppies, cats and kittens available for adoption at shelters and rescue groups. Just visit the RESCUE page at The New Barker website to see a list of some of the shelters and rescue groups in Florida.

Lepto Who?

Photograph, courtesy of Paulette Keller.

Photograph, courtesy of Paulette Keller.

By Paulette Keller. First published in The New Barker dog magazine, December, 2007.

On Sunday, he didn’t finish his dinner. Monday, we were at the vet. Tuesday, his urine turned dark and the blood work showed liver problems. Wednesday, he was admitted to the vet hospital. The search began – why were his liver and kidneys failing? Was he poisoned? Did he eat a toxic plant? Did he contract an infectious disease and in all cases, from where or what?

He was our senior dog, one of three, living a coddled life in urban Tampa Bay. He took neighborhood walks, visits to local parks and out of town vacations. He was never outside alone. He wasn’t a grazer, scarfing up garbage.

When our veterinarian mentioned Leptospirosis as a possible diagnosis, I was stunned. Wait, we immunized them for that, right? Well, not exactly…and so my Leptospirosis learning started.

FROM A FORGOTTEN DISEASE TO AN EMERGING CONCERN. A Leptosprirosis (Lepto) internet search will give you over 1 million sites. It has been around for a long time and is found in many species: in the wild, in livestock and in our cats and dogs. Lepto is also a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. A pet vaccine has long been available (1970’s), but with side effects. Not just painful, but some dogs were hypersensitive with severe allergic reactions. Since the disease threat seemed remote, the vaccine was recommended less often. Lepto was not on the radar screen.

In fact, until recently, Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists of Largo received zero referrals for Leptospirosis -affected pets. TBVS Internal Medicine veterinarian Dr. Gary Oswald indicated that now see 10 to 15 cases a year, coming from urban and unincorporated areas. This is a significant increase. The total Lepto caseload is actually unknown, as many pets, like our dog, are treated by their primary vet.

SO WHAT HAPPENED? The Lepto bacteria includes over 200 strains or serovars – but most don’t cause illness. The original vaccine targeted the two, then most common, disease-causing strains. Now other strains are showing up in infected animals and previously immunized dogs were not protected. Dr. Oswald stated that Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists see few cats with Lepto, but the new canine cases present with both liver and kidney problems, a double hit. Lepto can be cured by antibiotics, a good thing, although the damage to liver and kidneys can cause long-term complications.

On the good side: more recent vaccines are now multi-valent and reflect the most common, disease causing strains. Those vaccines to date, have few side effects. The down side is that it probably needs to be given at least annually.

IS MY DOG AT RISK? Lepto is spread many ways: when your pet is in contact with contaminated water or soil or when infected animals shed the leptospires in their urine. Maybe you don’t go to fairgrounds for dog shows (think exposure to cattle, livestock) or on hikes in forests (deer). But we do meet up with wildlife, even in our counties’ most densely populated sections. Our homes merge up to our treasured parks and preserves and new developments spring up out of once rural or farmland areas. Lepto likes fresh water, preferably stagnant, so the good news/bad news with our current drought is that there is less standing water, but the Lepto concentration may be higher in those shrinking pools. How often have we seen our dogs step in water and later at home lick their paws? And a break in the skin is all it takes.

Lepto is not in salt water and not in anything chlorinated such as your pool or drinking fountain. So if you and your canine companion live in a beach condo or offshore in a boat, frolic only in the Gulf and are not around other animals, your dog might not need the vaccine. The rest of us need to evaluate our lifestyle, do some research and as always, talk with our veterinarian.

A HAPPY ENDING. Not every Lepto infected dog presents as dramatically as ours did; a flu-like illness is more commonly seen, with fever, lethargy and reduced appetite. New testing methods help with the diagnosis of this potentially fatal disease. The key to this and any illness is knowing your pet’s normal behavior. Since Lepto is infectious, we quarantined our canine family to our property for a month. No parks, no dog club classes, no walks. Every trip outside, I carried a Clorox-water spray bottle and disinfected each dog’s urine deposits. We were quite a sight. Our senior dog recovered at home with antibiotics and supportive care. Two years later, he remains on once daily nutritional liver supplements and continues to enjoy life.

We don’t have a leptospirosis vaccine for humans, but we can help protect our cherished companions. Think about that.

UPDATE: There has been a recent outbreak of Leptospirosis in South Florida. Check out this television report from WPLG Local 10, Miami News.

Web link information provided by Dr. Oswald of Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists:



A Breed Apart.

Kamerion Wimbley Tackles Life Head-On…On His Own Terms.

Kamerion and Yogi take a break after a light workout in Tampa.

Kamerion and Yogi take a break after a light workout in Tampa, recently, to sit down and talk with Anna Cooke, editor of The New Barker dog magazine.

The average starting pay for a professional football player in the NFL is $1.9 million per year. 70% of NFL players are between the ages of 22 and 27. Players in that age bracket earn less than the NFL average overall. Most NFL players don’t make it to the age range when they can start making serious money. According to Business Insider, that age bracket, 28 to 35, earns an average of $4 million a year and up.

After nine years with the NFL, 31-year-old Kamerion Wimbley was ready to walk away from it all to spend more quality time with his family. He’d had a successful college career at Florida State University as one of the nation’s top defensive ends. He was drafted 13th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and led the team in sacks during his outstanding 2006-2007 rookie debut. In 2010, Kamerion was traded to the Oakland Raiders where he proceeded to take the Bay Area by storm, both on the field and off with his community involvement.

When he made the decision to retire earlier this year, he was an outside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, where he’d played since 2012. He posted on Twitter, “Although my wife and two young daughters have always been incredibly supportive of my career, I am looking forward to spending more meaningful time with them and never missing another big moment in their lives.”

In a team-issued statement, Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said, “We want to congratulate Kamerion on his NFL career. He is a true pro and a fantastic person. Not everyone gets to walk away from the game on their own terms, but he is doing that today, and with my utmost respect. I know he has a number of business ventures already and we wish him and his family the best in what lies ahead.”

Wimbley left a two-year contract worth more than $4 million in salary on the table. It turns out that Kamerion Wimbley’s business acumen off the field is just as precise and hard-hitting as his athleticism was on the field. Of the 10 successful business ventures he owns and/or is involved with, his favorite is Gold Label Kennels in Crawfordville, Florida. There, The American Bully breed he has always loved, is safely and responsibly bred. Gold Label Kennels also focuses on training, showing, rescuing and adopting The American Bully.

Wimbley’s love for The American Bully began as a youngster during years of watching the #WestminsterKennelClubDogShow on television. He was attracted to the look of the breed, no doubt: majestic, muscular and tough. “Love at first sight,” he recalls; then adds, “But, the real charm of the breed is their inner beauty. That’s what really made me fall in love with them. They may look tough on the outside, but inside, they are sweet and gentle dogs.”

He was already educating friends, family, colleagues and whoever would listen on the importance of responsible dog ownership when the news of Michael Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring hit the media in 2007. Wimbley’s Cleveland Browns teammates, many of whom already had preconceived notions about the Bully breed even prior to the Vick incident, looked to him for answers. He took the opportunity to step up his efforts to inform the public and help dispel the stereotypical discrimination against bull breeds. As the media chose to focus on the negativity of the moment, Wimbley remained stealthily-focused on the positive. The survival of The American Bully breed depended upon it.

Any dog can be conditioned by its handler to become vicious – whether it’s through training and neglect – or abuse, such as chaining and isolating the dog outdoors, with little to no human contact. Any breed of dog is a product of his or her own unique situation. Their birth, upbringing, and training will play a crucial role in determining the dog’s behavior.

“Some people jump to conclusions without having all of the relevant facts about The Bully breed. The media plays a huge part in sensationalizing incidents with irresponsible dog owners and attempt to paint the entire breed with broad strokes instead of looking at individual dog owners,” said Wimbley.

He is committed to continue educating the public about responsible dog ownership, with his primary focus naturally being on The American Bully breed. A “pet project” of his is the Bull Breed Coalition Registry (BBCR), where he is one of the founding members and a hands-on director. The registry will offer more innovative options for a broader population of people, including through the use of social media.

“Social media is just now becoming big in the dog world. I am seeing a lot of information posted on Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest. Through these new platforms, you can reach a whole bunch of people that have never even gone to a dog show, or owned a particular dog breed, but if they see a post on social media, it might pique their interest or they might become more inclined to attend a dog show. The messaging circulates a lot faster and you’re able to get a lot more viewers. It is one of our goals to use and maximize those channels that maybe the other registries aren’t using. We’re trying to be more innovative, getting more information out there about the breed that we serve,” said Wimbley.

Initially, the focus of the BBCR was historical documentation of the Shortybull, a new line of Bulldogs being bred to be smaller in size. Unlike a lot of other Bully breeds bred down in size, the Shortybull does not contain Boston Terrier or Pug in its bloodlines. The Shortybull is bred for its working ability and physical traits, and not solely on looks. The BBCR recently expanded its focus to provide accurate documentation and show experiences for five additional Bull Breeds: The American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, American Bulldog and the Olde English Bulldogge. Bully Breed enthusiasts have begun to focus more on conformation shows, considered crucial to the development and wider acceptance of the breed.

The BBCR focuses on breed standards as set forth by the founders of these breeds. It records pedigrees, issues policies for conformation dog shows and works to train judges who will uphold the honor of properly evaluating Bullys as show dogs.

On Dogs And Yogi. Dogs depend on us for, at minimum, food and shelter. They deserve much more. “Before taking a dog into your life or adding another one, think seriously about the commitment that dog ownership entails and consider if you will be able to fulfill your obligations as a dog owner,” said Wimbley.

Does your activity level align with that of the breed you are thinking about? Study the breeds to know which ones are the best for you and your lifestyle. Some dogs require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy. If you’re not helping them burn that energy, they’re going to find ways to fulfill those needs and that may not be the most desirable option.

“When I played football, the tempo was not always the same. Some plays last four seconds, and others extend to 15,” said Wimbley. His workouts with Yogi were anything but routine. “One minute Yogi was trotting alongside me at a steady pace; the next minute he took off and I’m running after him, bolting up a trail or doing laps around a clearing.”

Yogi sprints ahead of Kamerion.

Yogi sprints ahead of Kamerion.

Wimbley considers Yogi an athlete, and as such, he is built for working. “He and I feed off each other’s energy. He’d motivate me during our workouts. If he was going hard, I wanted to go hard as well. Day in and day out, committing to and sticking with a regular workout is half the battle. Dogs are into routines.”

Wimbley learned the benefits of each type of food as an athlete at Florida State University. “Why am I eating this and what does it do for my body? It’s fascinating to find out how the quality of the energy you put into your body translates into your performance, whether you’re on the field or in an office.”

He has applied that nutritional knowledge to Yogi’s diet, carefully reading dog food labels to make sure the food has quality ingredients. He has always served Yogi portions that correspond to the dog’s weight and muscle mass. “I try to buy us both natural, organic food. No artificial flavors or fillers. No by-products for the meat source. I shop around the edges of the store and avoid the stuff in the middle – the food that has been tampered with.”

At 10 years of age, Yogi is an elder statesman now, but still just as physically fit as his human. “He continues to be an inspiration for me, both physically and mentally. He has an unwillingness to yield when it comes to competition, and he has fun the whole time he’s competing.”

Kamerion, a Florida resident, hopes to be attending the annual fundraising event for the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation in Hollywood, Florida on Sunday, November 8. “Regardless of where you live, BSL is a concern for all dog owners. We should take every measure to prevent it. Or in the case of Miami-Dade, where any Pit Bull-like dog has been banned for 26 years, have BSL overturned, once and for all. We should also hold owners accountable for their dog’s actions,” Kamerion told Anna Cooke, editor of The New Barker dog magazine.

Are you a #FloridaDogLover? Please visit the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation Facebook page, like them and let them know The New Barker, Florida’s top dog lifestyle magazine, sent you.

Catch A Wave & You’re Sitting On Top Of The World.

Pig shows his cool form. Photography by Tina VaLant.

Pig shows his cool form. Photography by Tina VaLant.

Attention beach-loving dogs and their humans, the Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic will be Saturday, August 29, 8am-noon, at Carlin Park in Jupiter, Florida. Imagine four legged bikini-clad Bettys and plenty of canine surf action with tasty waves and cool rides.

Well-known canine surfers who are planning to compete will include: Mr. Barkley, a Golden Retriever, who is also a therapy dog. Surf Pig, a rescued Terrier-tripod (shown above) Yes, you read that correctly, he surfs 15. Waldo, a rescued Terrier mix who splits his time between Sebastian, Florida and Eleuthera, Bahamas. Our South Florida rover reporter/photographer Tina VaLant will be on-site to cover the event for The New Barker. The weather, as of now, calls for partly cloudy skies. Surf should be good.

Safety First for our Surf Dog Champs.

Safety First for our Surf Dog Champs.

Interesting In Teaching Your Dog To Surf: Advice to prep from the surfdogs: Get a surfboard and practice in a pool. Get comfortable. Sit, lay and stand on the board. Have your human gently push the board away, and slowly pull it back. This teaches balance and to use your back legs to steady the board, without the distraction of waves. When this all becomes easy, venture to the ocean on a calm day. Take it slow and work up to standing on the board and riding the waves.

Keep training sessions short and sweet. Always end on a good note. When it stops being fun that day––STOP. When you insist on doing something that your dog doesn’t enjoy you will break the feeling of trust between you and your dog. That can be irreparable. Safety first. Make sure your dog has a properly-fitted life vest, for ocean rides. Proceed slowly and pay attention that your dog isn’t becoming stressed. Bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl from home.

Hang Dog Surf Dog Classic will benefit Furry Friends Adoption & Clinic, a 501c3 not for profit organization located in Jupiter. Operations consist of a veterinary clinic, thrift store, adoption center, and ranch. Furry Friends provides an invaluable service to homeless animals to the northern Palm Beach/Martin county community. FurryFriendsAdoption.org 401 Maplewood Drive, Suite 10, Jupiter, FL 33548 561.747.5311.

Mr. Barkley

Passing Through The Eye Of The Storm Together.

Foreword: Yesterday, August 23, was the 10-year anniversary of #HurricaneKatrina. There have been many stories written about the devastation, survival and hope. We featured one of those stories, about Nikki Moon and her little Scottie, Madeline in The New Barker #dogmagazine. Written by Luellen Hoffman, it appeared, as written below, in the winter, 2010 issue of the magazine, five years after the storm. It is still one of our favorites. Special thanks to Luellen for bringing us this story. Special thanks to Nikki for sharing your story of strength. You help us remember to count our blessings.


It was one of those rare moments, captured by CNN. Millions of people saw it playing out dramatically on television, watching live coverage of Hurricane Katrina as it smashed into the Gulf Coast and countless victims fought to survive the flood waters. Many of the locals (as we saw on television) had decided to wait it out. One of those waiting for the storm to pass was Nikki Nicholson, her dog Madeline, and several of her friends and neighbors.

In 2005, Nikki, an attractive fun-loving woman, left the convention industry in New Orleans and moved to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi with her eight-year-old Scottish Terrier Madeline. She had always dreamed of buying a large Southern home to run as a bed and breakfast and The Bay Town Inn, a historic home built in 1899, was the perfect fit. A grand home converted to an Inn during 1993, it had weathered many storms over the years, from 1965’s category four Hurricane Betsy, to Camille, the infamous category five hurricane whose 190 mph winds wreaked havoc on Aug 17, 1969. The Bay Town Inn stood strong throughout, suffering no damage. With this history on her side, Nikki felt certain she could safely ride out any storm nature threw at her.

People from all over the country frequented the popular Bay Town Inn, and Madeline (Maddy to her friends) was always the first to greet guests at the front door. “The guests loved her, many claiming they returned just to see Maddy,” Nikki explained. Life was good for Nikki and her little black dog. But all that was about to change. Even though Nikki felt her B&B could withstand almost any storm, she says it became very clear, very quickly, that Katrina was more powerful than anything anyone had ever seen before. When it hit at 9:15 a.m., a rush of water…a huge 40-foot storm surge, tore her house apart. Nikki, Maddy and her friends, Doug Niolet and Kevin Guillory, ended up outside on the street. To find refuge from the violent wind and raging waters, Nikki and her two friends grabbed onto the only stable thing available—a tree. She watched helplessly as her home was completely destroyed, the roof ripped off and blown down the street. Unbeknownst to Nikki, she was live on CNN, the whole world watching her dangling in the air from a skinny oak tree, grasping her dog in one arm and two friends hanging onto the same tree, as the flood waters rushed below them. At first Nikki had tried to put Maddy in a plastic carry-all bag, but her pooch would have nothing of that. So she climbed the tree and one of her friends handed Maddy up to her. And there they hung, like human Christmas ornaments watching, along with the rest of the world, as the storm raged all around them. With little Maddy tucked up under one arm and pressed up against Nikki’s body, they dangled in the oak tree for four long, frightening hours.

Each huge wave that smashed into the tree threatened to rip Nikki and Maddy apart. But one thing was certain, they weren’t going to let go. They were either going to make it together or not at all, because Nikki and her friends were not going to give up and she was never going to let her Maddy go. Nikki said, “When I needed Maddy to stay still, she did. She knew enough to stay still and she had a sense that she couldn’t wiggle or I would have lost her.”

The Angel Tree. Nikki and her friends commissioned an artist to carve an angel into the tree that saved their lives.

The Angel Tree. Nikki and her friends commissioned an artist to carve an angel into the tree that saved their lives.

At 1:30 that Monday afternoon, the waters started to recede and one of the friends jumped into the three-foot deep murky water. One by one, they all jumped down from the tree and sloshed their way through the water and mud to reach a house across the street. The first floor was gone, but a still-intact stairway took them to what was left of the second floor, where they collapsed onto two beds. A nice older couple had lived there, wisely leaving before the storm. After a short rest, the three friends borrowed some of the couples’ dry clothes and walked three blocks to a friend’s empty, but mostly undamaged house. Finding the spare key, they let themselves in and finally felt dry and safe. Exhausted, but sheltered from the storm. Though it has been five years since Katrina, it is still difficult for Nikki to speak about her traumatic experience without tearing up. She said her brother was in London during the storm and saw her on CNN, as did her father who lives in St. Louis. They were both relieved to know she was alive because at that time, and for many days thereafter, there were no means of communication available to let her family know she was okay. CNN cameras had captured Nikki and her dog clinging to life on that tree.

CNN reporter Gary Tuckman wanted a follow-up interview. Tuckman had been raised with Scotties and wanted to see how Maddy was doing. When CNN ran the clip about Maddy, it caught the attention of Scottie lovers everywhere. Much to her surprise, that following Christmas Season, Nikki received many personal notes from Scottie owners all across the country. Maddy’s notoriety on television lead to an invitation from The Scottish Terrier Club of Greater Atlanta to visit Warm Springs, Georgia (home of Franklin D. Roosevelt) as special guests of the 2006 Scottish Terrier Convention. President Roosevelt’s fondness for his Scottish Terriers was renowned.

Nikki started to work full time again in April 2006 and it was around this time she began dating local business owner, John Moon. John had never seen Nikki before the storm, or on television during it. He had evacuated the city before Katrina hit, moved to St. Pete Beach, and was working with the American Red Cross in Tampa Bay to help others who were fleeing the carnage. One day while walking the white sand beach, he happened upon The Don CeSar Beach Resort and its Mediterranean beauty captivated him. Later, after he met Nikki, he took her there during Easter break in 2007 to share it with her. Nikki thought the beach and hotel were wonderful, and it was during this time that she fell in love with John. They decided to get married there, doing just that on November 20, 2010. As Nikki states with a romantic tone of happiness, “it just made sense to get married where we fell in love.” Today I guess you could say that after the storm, life presented them with a silver lining. “I found love and Maddy did too”. Nikki says with a smile, referring to John’s dog, a sandy colored cocker spaniel named Duke, who is 14 years old and a close companion to the now 13 year-old Maddy. Both dogs were in the wedding party and walked down the aisle with the bride and groom. Over the past five years, we have witnessed the courage and resolve of those who came through Katrina and rebuilt a new life. Nikki is one of those people and so is her dog Maddy. Nikki, and the puppy she loved more than life itself – passed through the eye of the storm together.

Over the Moon. Wedding at the Don Cesar with their dogs in attendance.

Over the Moon. Wedding at the Don Cesar with their dogs in attendance.

Afterword: Nikki and John moved forward to rebuild Bay Town Inn Bed and Breakfast with sweat equity, grant money, love, and determination. Sadly, John passed away in June, 2012. The completely renovated Inn re-opened in September, 2013.

Today: Nikki and Miley, her Cairn Terrier and Stella. Both greet guests at the Inn.

Today: Nikki and Miley, her Cairn Terrier and Stella. Both dogs greet guests at the Inn.

Bay Town Inn is dog friendly. We look forward to visiting you soon, Nikki, Miley and Stella.

Stella enjoying her beach.

Stella enjoying her beach.

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And They Call It Puppy Love.

Anna Cooke:

Thank you, Rachel. Have you ever seen the play, Sylvia?

Originally posted on THE NEW BARKER:

An interview with Kari Goetz, who is preparing to play a talking dog – the lead character in the A.R. Gurney play, Sylvia. By Anna Cooke for The New Barker dog magazine.

Actress, Kari Goetz. Photograph by Crawford Long. Actress, Kari Goetz. Photograph by Crawford Long.

Kari Goetz and her husband Crawford Long may just have one of the best love stories ever. It’s kind of a Harry Meets Sally/You’ve Got Mail scenario. After their first meeting at a YMCA Youth Camp in North Carolina as teenagers, the two would spend the next 20 years staying in touch via letters, then email, instant messages, texts and the occasional phone call.

“We grew up with each other,” said Kari, “just not together.”

She pursued an acting career in Los Angeles for five years, going to nerve-wracking auditions. He went on to law school at the University of South Carolina.

Every year, Crawford always sent Kari a New Year’s Eve greeting…

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