Happy Days

The "Awww'' issue.

Roberto Gonzalez

Once a year, you can count on us having an “Awww’’ cover. And of course it’s always the September pet issue.

Just look at the beautiful Sheltie on the front. Pizza Pie is her name and she’s everything you could want in a pet—and means everything to her owner, Rebecca Green of Orlando. You can read about the winner and the worthy finalists in our pet guide. The names alone will bring a smile to your face. I mean, how could you do any better than having best friends named Rocco, Bosco, Ghandi, Pepper, Chester and Hudson? They all patiently sat for photos, although Pepper—a pig— seemed rather obsessed with the yogurt his owner had brought as a treat. You might say he was—wait for it—a ravenous pig.

Each year, we ask all of the finalists’ owners to fill out a questionnaire about their pets and one of the queries is always “Why is the world a better place because of your pet?’’ The responses illustrate why we are crazy about our four-legged friends. “The happiness and excitement he shows every time I come home, or wake up in the morning, always puts a smile on my face,’’ Ashley Shaughnessy said of her German Shepherd, Ghandi. Nicki Underwood adopted Chester the cat just after her family’s home had been destroyed by fire. “He helped us through a very tough time, and has made us feel whole again, as a family and a household,’’ Underwood wrote. But perhaps Emily King, owner of Rocco Kitty, summed it up best: “It’s quite simple. Pets make people happy. And happy people beget more happiness in the world, which is something there will never be enough of.’’ 

So dig into some happiness in our pet section, which includes a huge resource guide listing everything from groomers to dog parks. Elsewhere, Michael McLeod gives us a comprehensive overview of an incredible season ahead locally in the world of arts and entertainment. Peter Kerasotis tells the story of local athlete Nick Goody, who went from Union Park Little League to relief pitcher for the New York Yankees. And dining critic Joseph Hayes gives a rundown of upcoming food festivals and raves over the food at Tiffins, the new Animal Kingdom restaurant. 

Finally, on a sad note, we bid farewell to Greg Dawson, who has been our Extra Pulp columnist for the past 3½ years. Family matters have dictated a move to Lakeland, and we will miss him. My work with Greg goes back to 1992, when he was the television critic for the Orlando Sentinel and I was his editor. He returned home to Indiana after a few years, then came back to the Sentinel, and became the consumer columnist. Once again, I was his editor. And our third round together began in February 2013 at this magazine after he retired from the newspaper. 

Whether writing in Extra Pulp about the life of an overnight attendant at a vehicle-towing yard, or about how he was lured to a financial seminar by the promise of a fat, juicy steak, Greg made me laugh. A couple of his columns won the Best Humor award in the annual Florida Magazine Association competition. My favorite of those is one on men’s fashion in which he delivered this line: “You can no more teach the average man to care—really care—about what he wears than you can train a dog not to bark at the UPS truck.’’

Alas, one can never get too much pet humor.

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