GAME OF BONES - Kari, her son Porter, Eleanor and Abigail dressed as characters from their favorite show, Game Of Thrones. Photograph by Crawford Long.

And They Call It Puppy Love.

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 at midnight. New Year’s Eve 2012, precisely at midnight, Crawford sent Kari his regular greeting, with one new question: Will this be the year we see each other?

Plans were made to finally see each other, face-to-face, after 20 years.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” said Crawford.

“Worse case of stage fright in my life,” added Kari.

Their reunion began with a hug, then a kiss, immediately followed by a year of constant travel between her home in Seminole Heights (Florida) and his in Atlanta. By now, Kari was director of marketing at Tampa International Airport, and getting ready for the 2012 Stageworks production of Sylvia, the A.R. Gurney play. Kari would be playing the lead part of Sylvia, a talking dog. It was the very first time that Crawford had seen Kari perform on stage.

Once Crawford saw Kari’s Sylvia, he was smitten – enamored, in fact. So much so that his friends started calling him Bowser, one of the imaginary dogs that Sylvia “lusts” after in the dog park.

In real life, the two would marry and eventually have a baby, Porter, their son. Fast forward to today, three years later, and Kari will be back on stage, once again playing Sylvia, as Tampa’s Stageworks presents an encore production, August 6 through 30.

Kari has been acting since she was eight years old. She hasn’t been on stage since the last production of Sylvia ran in 2012. “It’s the longest run of me not being on stage ever,” she said. As the cast prepared for the grueling tech rehearsal, or what actors refer to as the 10 out of 12, Kari took a few moments out of her busy schedule to talk with us about theatre, family, work and dogs.

TNB: How does it feel to be back on stage after a three year break?

Kari: I did a lot of wagging on stage as Sylvia three years ago. I am able to wag my butt without any movement going on above my butt. At the time, Crawford noticed that whenever I was happy, offstage, I would start wagging. This is highly inappropriate in many circumstances, of course. We’ve been back in rehearsals, and the other day at work someone brought me some good news while I was standing by my desk. Suddenly, I realized I was wagging my butt. ‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘it’s back. Sylvia has taken over my body again.”

TNB: How do you find time to juggle an intense career as Director of Marketing for Tampa International Airport, wife, mom and actress?

Kari: I have always had a day job while working as an actress, auditioning for parts, so I’m used to juggling. It takes a lot of balancing. TIA has been super supportive. Also, when I agreed to do Sylvia again this time around, I insisted on an understudy being completely present. Roxxi Jaxx is a University of Tampa student and an amazing actress, so good in the part. And, yes, that’s her real name.

As a first-time parent, I’m always in rehearsal. I’ve always thought that being a wife was the best role ever. Of course, being a mom’s not so bad either. (In the Stageworks program for Sylvia, Kari includes in her bio that, “I married a Bowzer and we now have a puppy.”)

TNB: You have dogs. Do you incorporate any of their personalities or mannerisms into your Sylvia character?

Kari: When I did Sylvia last, I had geriatric dogs. Sadly, they are no longer with us. Now I have two younger dogs and have brought some of their traits into Sylvia’s character, as well as two dogs my family had while I was growing up. Luke was my childhood dog, an Irish Wolfhound. He had very interesting ways of getting your attention. I put a lot of Luke into Sylvia. Jethro, another family dog, was very loyal. I bring that aspect of him into Sylvia’s character.

The two dogs we have now, Abigail and Eleanor, are terrier mixes and they’re both nuts. When Sylvia acts up on stage, it is definitely Abigail and Eleanor. Abigail has a habit of bringing things to you that you don’t need, like snooping around inside my purse and bringing me my wallet. You cannot walk Eleanor without her wrapping her leash around your entire body. In the play, Greg uses a retractable leash with Sylvia. As a dog owner, I hate retractable leashes, so we really dork it up on stage, how awful those things are, and I completely wrap Greg up in the leash.

I found Eleanor under a truck outside the Straz Theatre a few years ago. She looks like a Chinese Crested with some Rat Terrier and Chihuahua. We adopted Abigail from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. We had just lost our oldest dog whom I’d had for 15 years. I went through a short mourning period, but quickly realized, someone else needs a home, so we immediately set out to adopt another dog. She looks like a Corgi with some Pit Bull in her. She is a low rider with wirehair and gold eyes. Her behavior is all terrier, but the way she is with my kid, I absolutely know she has Pit in her. She is my nanny dog, such a good girl with Porter.

GAME OF BONES - Kari, her son Porter, Eleanor and Abigail dressed as characters from their favorite show, Game Of Thrones. Photograph by Crawford Long.

GAME OF BONES – Kari, her son Porter, Eleanor and Abigail dressed as characters from their favorite show, Game Of Thrones. Photograph by Crawford Long.

TNB:What are you bringing to the character in this production that is new from the last time you played Sylvia?

Kari: It’s the exact same cast from three years ago. We’re all very comfortable with each other and the play this time around, so we’ve discovered some subtle ways to bring new things into the play. I’ve always been a really physical comedian. I messed my body up in Sylvia last go around, so this time, I’m more aware of what my body should and shouldn’t do from an injury standpoint. I advocated for a harness this time, versus a regular collar. It was a happy day when my new harness arrived in wardrobe. Realizing the damage that can be done with a collar from my own personal experience as Sylvia, both of my dogs now wear harnesses.

I had Porter, my son, after the last production of Sylvia. He was a C section, so now I can completely and physically relate to Sylvia in the scene just after she has been spayed. When she says, “Oh my aching gut,” I get it.

As a responsible, committed artist, you do not do anything on stage to upstage your fellow actors. That is especially important to realize as the actress playing Sylvia. The audience watches and reacts to every move Sylvia makes. The last time I had to tone her down so as not to pull the focus away from the other actors, especially when that moment on stage is about their characters. I try to blend into the set during those scenes.

TNB: What is your favorite line you deliver in the play?

Kari: It’s a two part line. Three years ago, while doing the play, it was the only line that I had to be very careful delivering because it would give me the giggles. Greg is telling Sylvia that she is going to live with another family, and she is not happy. When he tells her that one of the three children is a baby, Sylvia responds:

‘I hate babies. Their mouths taste good, but they’re always stepping on your tail.’

I also have a lot of fun with the audience participation. There is a scene where Sylvia walks into the audience and sits on someone’s lap. It’s never planned. Honestly, I don’t know on whose lap I’m going to end up when I walk out there. During the last production of Sylvia, word got out and audience members started bringing treats to lure me to their laps. Cookies mostly. One guy brought me a glass of wine which I brought back on stage and worked into the play.

TNB: Did you hear that Matthew Broderick will play Greg in the upcoming Broadway premiere of Sylvia? Annaleigh Ashford will play Sylvia. The show officially opens on October 27.

Kari: Yes, and I am definitely going to see it. It’s kind of a weird family reunion of sorts since Sarah Jessica Parker played the original Sylvia in the very first production of the play. It never made it to Broadway. It makes me wonder if Sarah Jessica will growl at Matthew Broderick, her husband, with his Broadway opportunity and a chance to win another Tony, which she has never won. It makes me wonder, why, after all of these years, is there such an interest in the play, Sylvia?

For years, Sylvia was my worst kept secret. The script by A.R. Gurney is fantastic. My friends and family knew how much I always wanted to play the part and lobbied for it for years, to anyone who listened. Everyone just shook their heads no. ‘C’mon, it’s a play about a talking dog. No, we’re going to do something with a more profound subject, like war.’

I remember walking around in Publix when I received word that Stageworks was going to do the play. I was over the moon when I learned I would play the part of Sylvia. My dream had finally come true three years ago. And I’m so lucky to be able to play her again with such a great cast and crew.

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Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney – Synopsis:

The play originally made its Off-Broadway debut in 1995 with Sarah Jessica Parker as Sylvia, and Blythe Danner and Charles Kimbrough as wife and husband, Kate and Greg. The middle-aged, upper-middle class couple are empty nesters in New York City. Kate is in a happy place with her life, but Greg is having a bit of a mid-life crisis. When Greg finds Sylvia, a stray in the park, he likes her and decides to bring her home. Kate reacts very negatively towards Sylvia and wants her gone. They agree to keep the dog for just a few days until they can decide whether or not she can stay longer. Over the next few days, Greg spends more and more time with Sylvia and less time at his job. They go on long walks together; discuss life and things like astronomy. The tension increases between the couple, with Greg becoming completely obsessed with Sylvia. Kate fears their marriage is falling apart. She and Sylvia are now at odds with one another, each committed to seeing the other defeated.

Greg and Kate visit a therapist, Leslie, who is ambiguously male and female depending on her patients’ state of mind. Eventually, Kate is asked to teach abroad, in London and tells Greg that there is a six-month quarantine for dogs coming into the country. Reluctantly he succumbs and gives the news to Sylvia that he must give her away, to a family who live on a farm. They have a heated and tender moment. Then, Kate and Sylvia say goodbye. Something happens, however, and Kate has a change of heart.

Reviews of the Off-Broadway show included this from Vincent Canby of The New York Times: “Dramatic literature is stuffed with memorable love scenes. But none is as immediately delicious and dizzy as the one that begins the redeeming love affair in A.R. Gurney’s new comedy, Sylvia. A delightful fantasy, but also a psychologically persuasive look at one man’s mid-life crisis.”

Adult content, language.

Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney

August 6 through 30, 2015

Stageworks Theatre, 1120 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa

813.374.2416

Sylvia with an Air Animal bag, ready to go.

Sylvia with an Air Animal bag,ready to go.

Special thanks to Air Animal, major sponsor for Stageworks, making this production of Sylvia possible. Beneficiaries of the production include Humane Society of Tampa Bay, SPCA Florida and Frankie’s Friends. 

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Hair Of The Dog?

One thing we know for sure, dog lovers are a hearty lot, ready to share in their camaraderie and love of dogs. Whether it’s hosting dog-themed parties for friends or fundraising for an animal advocacy cause, it’s a given – the festivities almost always involve food and drink. Many adult beverages are named after a dog breed or are dog-inspired. We thought it would be fun to feature some of them alongside their recipes in our spring issue.

Our staging area was the award-winning ulele, located in historic Tampa Heights. It’s the newest restaurant from the Gonzmart family’s Columbia Restaurant Group and features native-inspired foods and spirits. The backdrop, vibe and colors made for some gorgeous photography.

While working with ulele Mixologist Chuck Cooper and ulele Head Brewmaster Timothy A. Shackton, we discovered their profound love of dogs. Both men were eager to share stories of how, when and why they adopted their dogs. It became obvious that this was too good to be true, and that we would be returning for a second, more dog-centric photo shoot.

But first – the drink recipes for your summer imbibing.

Colorado Bulldog 11/2 ounces Tito’s Vodka 11/2 ounces Kahlua 1 ounce cream or condensed milk Dark cola soda Combine vodka, Kahlua and cream in tin. Shake. Strain over fresh ice into a collins or pilsner glass. Top with fresh cola. Garnish with three chocolate chips and serve with a tall straw. Serves one. Shown with a shot of ulele espresso.

Colorado Bulldog. Photograph by Laura Allen Studios for The New Barker.

Colorado Bulldog. Photograph by Laura Allen Studios for The New Barker.

Pomeranian 11/2 ounces white rum (Don Q) 1/2 ounce pomegranate liqueur (Pama) 1/2 ounce triple sec 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/4 ounce fresh squeezed grapefruit juice Combine rum, liqueur, triple sec and juices in tin. Shake. Strain over fresh ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon wheel and cocktail straw. Serves one.

Salty Chihuahua Wet the rim of an old fashioned glass with lime juice, then dip in crushed pink peppercorn and salt. 11/2 tequila (Patron Anejo) 1/2 ounce grapefruit liqueur (Pamplemousse) 5 to 6 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice Combine tequila, liqueur and juice in tin. Shake. Strain over fresh ice into the peppercorn and salt rimmed old fashioned glass. Garnish with grapefruit wheel. Serves one.

Mixologist Chuck Cooper pours a Pomeranian (left) and a Salty Chihuahua.

Mixologist Chuck Cooper pours a Pomeranian (left) and a Salty Chihuahua.

Hair of the Dog 2 ounces vodka (Cane Fireant) 1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 ounce sangrita 1 ounce fresh egg white 1 slice of jalapeño or Thai chili pepper Combine all ingredients in tin. Shake. Strain over fresh ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon and chili. Serve with a tall straw. Serves one.

"Learning about spirits enhances my need to know. It Intrigues me and made me realize I'm a history buff. After work, I go home and read books about booze, then create new drinks." Mixologist, Chuck Cooper, pouring a Hair Of The Dog.

“Learning about spirits enhances my need to know. It intrigues me and made me realize I’m a history buff. After work, I go home and read books about booze, then create new drinks.” Mixologist, Chuck Cooper, pouring a Hair Of The Dog.

Bloodhound 1 ounce Gin (Nolet’s) 1/3 ounce dry vermouth 1/3 ounce sweet vermouth 1/4 strawberry puree Combine all ingredients in tin with crushed ice. Shake. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with a slice of strawberry. Serves one.

The beautiful Bloodhound.

The beautiful Bloodhound.

Dog’s Nose 11/2 ounce Absolut Vanilla Vodka 14 ounces Buckhorn Black Nutmeg or cinnamon Add vodka to a 16 ounce chilled pilsner glass. Pour beer over vodka to fill glass. Dust with the freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon. Serves one.

Inside the Ulele Spring Brewery (left to right): Rusty Red, Pirate's Barrel Lager, Buckhorn Black Lager for Dog's Nose.

Inside the Ulele Spring Brewery (left to right): Rusty Red, Pirate’s Barrel Lager, Buckhorn Black Lager for Dog’s Nose.

The colloquialism, hair of the dog originally referred to a method of treatment after being bitten by a rabid dog. In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898), Ebenezer Cobham Brewer wrote, “In Scotland, it was a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound would prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves.”

The Money Shot, in one take, at the front entry of ulele. Wow. From left to right: Guinevere, Hope, Abby, Bella, Levi, Miss Roux, Peter. Photograph by award-winning photographer, Laura Allen.

The Money Shot, in one take, at the front entry of ulele. Wow. From left to right: Guinevere, Hope, Abby, Bella, Levi, Miss Roux, Peter. Photograph by award-winning photographer, Laura Allen.

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.