Dog’s Best Friend

What’s better than coming home to four furry paws and a wagging tail? Not much, if you ask most dog owners, although playing fetch in the back yard or just curling up with their canine pals ranks pretty high up on the list, too. With its year-round sunshine and miles of open running space, our area is doggie heaven. In honor of the special bond between owner and man and woman’s best friend, Lake & Sumter Style invited ten local residents to tell us all about their favorite four-legged family members—quirks, tricks, and all.


JACKIE HOLMES


DOGS’ NAME: EBONY/SANDY
DOGS’ BREED: LABRADOODLE
DOGS’ AGE: 6 YEARS/2 YEARS


Where did you buy/adopt/find your dogs? Retriever Rescue.


What’s the funniest thing your dogs do? Ebony, after a trip to the groomers, wants to be wrapped in a blanket like a baby (a 70-pound baby). With Sandy, it’s how excited she gets when our pet sitter comes to the house.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dogs. A long ride in our Class-A motorhome with one stretched out on the sofa and the other in the recliner, or a long, lazy day on our pontoon boat.


If we could ask your dogs to describe you as an owner, what do you think they would say? “Mommy is a push-over for a cute face.”


If you were a dog, which breed would you be and why? A labradoodle or a goldendoodle. They have the best of both worlds—the intelligence, non-shedding coat, and non-allergy of poodles and the obedience, friendliness, and stamina of retrievers. Although I have to say, I love them all and have rescued other breeds for years.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Book: Cesar’s Way. It gives great advice for those of us dealing with troubled dogs. Movie: Beethoven as I am a lover of larger breed dogs and who wouldn’t love that slobbering, lovable, big mug?


JOE & LINDA MUCHA


DOG’S NAME: PATCH
DOG’S BREED: ENGLISH SETTER
DOG’S AGE: 12+ YEARS


How long have you had your dog? We rescued Patch, named Rosie at the time, from the Humane Society in Rockville, Md., when she was 2 years old. We had just put down our last Irish setter and wanted a second dog to be a companion with our first English setter, Callaway.


Describe your dog’s best trick. Catching geckos.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dog. A long walk with me on Rollerblades.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Book: Love Heels—Tales from Canine Companions for Independence by Patricia Dibsie. It tells 24 stories of all the phases in this volunteer effort. The stories are based on breeder caretakers, puppy raisers, released dogs, facility teams, skilled companion teams, service teams, hearing teams, and volunteers.




SEAN M. PARKS


DOG’S NAME: ABBY
DOG’S BREED: AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG MIX
DOG’S AGE: 7 YEARS


Where did you buy/adopt/find your dog? We adopted her from the South Lake Animal League about seven years ago. Her foster mom had named her Bonzai, but we changed it to Abby. She had been terribly mistreated and also had a very serious case of mange that took about a year to recover. She was a very grateful puppy though!


 Describe your dog’s best trick. She can climb our fence and balance on the top rail like a tightrope walker. I think she just likes the challenge.


What’s the funniest thing your dog does? It’s really funny to watch her chase lizards. She bounces like a kangaroo through the ferns, stalks them through the kids’ sandbox, and pounces!


If we could ask your dog to describe you as an owner, what do you think she would say? “Too busy but very loyal. And thanks for bringing me all those barbecue rib bones.”


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Eight Below because it was based on a true story and showed the trust and devotion between a man and his dogs.



PATRICIA BURGOS-BENSKO


DOG’S NAME: SOPHIA PETUNIA
DOG’S BREED: STANDARD POODLE
DOG’S AGE: 9+ YEARS


How long have you had your dog? All of her life.


What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why? After spending money on a variety of toys over nine years, consistently her favorite toy is a cut-up garden hose. I suppose that the hose looks like a snake and she can grab it and take it around the yard. She just loves it and nothing grabs her attention more… other than a squirrel.


If we could ask your dog to describe you as an owner, what do you think she would say? “She’s a big softie who lets me do what I want, and even though she cares very much about nature and her human family, she loves me the best!”


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? I’ve always had a soft spot for Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck’s book about his travels across the country with his black standard poodle, Charley.


BRUCE GREER


DOG’S NAME: ASTRO
DOG’S BREED: CAIRN TERRIER
DOG’S AGE: 5 YEARS


How long have you had your dog? He came to live with us on Dec. 18, 2005.


Where did you buy/adopt/find your dog? Cairn Rescue. Liz, my daughter, and I drove over to New Port Richie and came home with Astro.


Describe your dog’s best trick. He can run in circles faster than any dog I’ve seen. He is so low to the ground, he buzzes around our yard. It’s almost as if he’s floating.


What’s the most valuable/important item your dog has destroyed? He has been a great dog. He has not destroyed anything. When he first came to our home he was scared of everything. We think someone may have been mean to him. He hid under the bed, especially when he heard a lawn mower.


If we could ask your dog to describe you as an owner, what do you think he would say? “He just does not understand I need to get outside and run—all day! He thinks I’m a dog and I’m not. I’m a person just like him!”


AMY COX


DOG’S NAME: LUCCA
DOG’S BREED: NEWFOUNDLAND
DOG’S AGE: 5 1/2 YEARS


How long have you had your dog? 5 1/4 years.


Describe your dog’s worst habit. Some would say his slobber. I, of course, do not think he has any bad habits.


What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why? Any stuffed toy or stuffed animal. He loves to disembowel those guys!


What’s the funniest thing your dog does? His day-to-day activity is so humorous that one of his nicknames is Mr. Funny. Specifically, he is scared of small dogs, much like an elephant with a mouse.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dog. Going to the beach, swimming in the waves, chasing birds, and laying in the sand people-watching.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Book: The Da Vinci Dog: The Passion, Paintings & Slobber of Brinks the Dog—A hilarious retrospective of a dog’s slobber viewed as artwork on glass doors. Obviously, I can relate. Movie: Turner & Hooch. No matter how many times I see it, I laugh out loud.


NANCY BAUMANN


DOG’S NAME: ADDIE
DOG’S BREED: LABRADOR
DOG’S AGE: 10 1/2 YEARS


Where did you buy/adopt/find your dog? I raised Addie to be a service dog for Canine Companions For Independence in Orlando. She was released due to high energy and now instead of a CCI dog, she is a COC (change of career) dog.


What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why? Any toy her sister, Tobie, has. Tobie (a 3-year-old Lab) could be resting on a toy and Addie will snatch it right out from under her.


What’s the funniest thing your dog does? Addie thinks that she is a sea animal. She makes the same grunting noise as a baby seal. She loves to watch the movie Andre because she thinks Andre is her brother. This would also explain her frequent attempts to jump in the pool for a quick dip.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dog. Everything we do together is perfect. Addie is a certified therapy dog and you can find her with me almost anywhere. Hiking the Rocky Mountains together in Aspen, Colo., and then a stroll in town is one of our very favorite outings, always followed by a snuggle together at home. Another favorite outing is visiting children in hospitals or the aging in nursing homes. Addie-girl is friends with all ages.


If we could ask your dog to describe you as an owner, what do you think she would say? “I can’t imagine having a more wonderful, devoted, fun-loving Mom. We are soul mates… and I have my mom wrapped tightly around my paw!”


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Marley & Me. This is my favorite book because it is about the unconditional love between a Lab and his owner.


NANCI SCHOWARTZ


DOG’S NAME: MOCHA
DOG’S BREED: CHOCOLATE LABRADOR
DOG’S AGE: 4 YEARS


What’s the funniest thing your dog does? The “cookie dance.” She gets a large Milk-Bone every morning. Before chowing down though, she does a bizarre, jumping cha-cha around it.


Describe your dog’s worst habit. Mocha and I just became a certified therapy dog team. When we go to hospitals and nursing homes to visit patients, she will present her rump to be scratched instead of her pretty face. Fortunately, no one seems to mind.


What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why? She has a fuzzy “dreidel” (like a toy spinning top) that sings “The Dreidel Song” when she squeezes it. When she first started playing with it, she’d get scared when the song played and run away. Then she’d come back a few minutes later and play and run and play and run. Now, I think she tries to make it play the song.


What’s the most valuable/important item your dog has destroyed? She has chewed the lower slats of almost all the window blinds in the house. She apparently likes to look out the window unobstructed.


If you could ask your dog one question, what would it be and what do you think his/her answer would be? Q: “What are you going to do with that squirrel if you ever catch it?” A: “Teach it to sing “The Dreidel Song.” Just kidding, I don’t think she has a single clue about what she’d do if she caught a squirrel.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Book: The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is an amazing look at the society of dogs and how they relate to each other and humans. It is fascinating, funny, and heart-breaking, and it gave me a greater respect and appreciation for my canine companions. Movie: Turner & Hooch because it’s a great example of how important it is for everyone (man and animal) to learn to understand and adapt to each other. Plus, there are a lot of laughs!


Where’s the best local place to take your dog to play? The dog park at Lake Idamere is really nice, but Mocha prefers our yard.


ROSEMARY HOUGH


DOG’S NAME: ANNIE
DOG’S BREED: SHORKTESE
(SHIH TZU/YORKIE AND MALTESE)
DOG’S AGE: 9 1/2 MONTHS


Where did you buy/adopt/find your dog? Mississippi.


Describe your dog’s worst habit. She cries if she thinks she’s not getting enough attention while I am talking with other people.


Describe your dog’s best trick. Dancing with her tutu on while I sing to her.


What’s the funniest thing your dog does? Gives kisses on command.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dog. Riding my bike with Annie in the front basket.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? My Dog Skip. There’s nothing quite like having a best buddy who gives you unconditional love and at the same time teaches you life lessons without saying, “I told you so.”


If you were a dog, which breed would you be and why? A bearded collie because they love to play with children and just seem to bounce through life.


BLAIR BARRETT


DOG’S NAMES: TONKA/SAILOR
DOG’S BREED: BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG/GREAT PYRENEES
DOG’S AGE: 4 YEARS/10 MONTHS


How long have you had your dogs? Four years/six months.


What’s your dog’s favorite toy and why? Pull toys because they are playing with me.


What’s the funniest thing your dogs do? Sleep upside-down.


Describe the perfect outing with just you and your dog. Anytime I can go somewhere with my dogs knowing they will behave.


If you could ask your dogs one question, what would it be and what do you think their answer would be? Q: How do you feel about my time with the other dogs? A: I don’t like it.


What’s your favorite dog-related book or movie and why? Lassie. I grew up with the real Lassie shows and movies and books, and I was always in awe of the amazing training.

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