Friends Forever


How much do we love pets? Well, our 10 finalists for Cover Pet drew more than 3,000 votes online, with Sir Kingston Scotch prevailing. Check out profiles of the lovable Goldendoodle and the other finalists, plus our annual Top Vets list, a dog getaway destination and much more—all part of our third annual pet issue.



Sir Kingston Scotch
10 months old

Owners: Jacob and Heather Kuzman, Winter Park
Answers to: Scotch
Occupation: Professional heart-melter.
Origins: The Kuzmans saw a Goldendoodle during a trip to Savannah and were drawn to the teddy bear look. A year later, Jacob surprised Heather with baby Scotch for Christmas.
The perfect name: Color of butterscotch and sweet like the candy. Also bears the name of Dad’s favorite after-hours drink.
Favorite things: Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, chewing on bones, cuddling, lying on top of 12-year-old big sister, Kahlua, a Staffordshire. Also, mesmerizing owners and others with his big brown button eyes.
Favorite vices: Ears. Likes to chew on Kahlua’s ears all day. Licks the inside of owners’ ears when they are sleeping.
Competitive streak: Enjoys staring contests with Salem, the family’s 12-year-old cat.
Social media: Follow Scotch on Instagram at @scotchthegoldendoodle.


Treeing Walker Coonhound Mix
2 years old

Owners: Bill Stevens and Bob Brings, Orlando
Slim chance: Found emaciated wandering in a field and taken to a local shelter. Nobody would adopt him because of a deformed back foot (he had likely been hit by a car at some point).
Beating the odds: Stevens and Brings found out about Nemo the day before he was to be euthanized and arranged to adopt him.
Best personality trait: Despite his dismal past, he has no fear and loves everyone he comes across.
Favorite pastime: Chewing up anything on the floor that shouldn’t be there—like a chip clip.
Roommates: Chocolate Lab Kahlua (his idol) and Zena the cat.
Best foot forward: Exaggerates his limp when he wants to get on your good side or has done something wrong. But when speed is called for, Nemo pulls up his leg and runs like a deer.


Border Collie
3 years old
Becky Nicholas, Sanford
Bright spots: Followed in the path of Nicholas’ previous Border Collie, who was named Flame.
Character traits: Strength and courage.
Beginnings: Torch was born into a hoarding situation in rural Texas: More than 40 Border Collies were running loose, their only human contact being with the owner who showed up with the basics of food and water.
Turning point: A rescue group befriended the owner and persuaded him to give up most of the dogs. Torch was in that group, and he went to a foster family before ending up with Nicholas in Florida.
The great communicator: Will lay his head on your leg and stare at you.
Favorite pastime: Roughhousing with Golden Retriever brother Declan.
Website: Family photos at


American Guinea Pig
1 year old
Bella Bert, Orlando
Occupation: Roommate, conversationalist (talk to him, and he squeaks back).
Origins: A gift for his owner’s 11th birthday. “We name pets after foods, and I thought the name Waffles fit him,’’ Bella says.
Best qualities: Laid back; has a cute orange stomach.
Favorite pastime: Eating
Roommates: Noodles, a Terrier mix who sniffs Waffles, then runs away; Bo, a 3-year-old Retriever, who wants to eat him.
Greatest adventure: Riding a paddleboard at Sanibel Island.
How to get him out from under the bed: Dangle a carrot.
Critical role: “He helps me take school off my mind,’’ Bella says.


Senegal parrot
5 years old
Patricia and Tony Koile, Orlando
Rescue operation: Responding to a Craigslist ad for bird cages, Patricia found Cheech and a dozen other birds living in squalor in a backyard shed and persuaded the owner to give them up.
Special talents: Makes a zipper sound and loves to call Tony’s name.
Identity crisis: Thinks he’s a dog and loves interaction with the family’s two small rescue dogs, Scout and Peanut.
A weakness for: Toes. Beware if you’re walking by and he’s on the floor.
Favorite pastime: Swinging. Grabs the bars of his cage and pushes off so he can go faster—all while holding a seed ball.
Roommates: 42 other birds (he lives at Patty’s Parrot Palace Sanctuary), along with three dogs and a cat.


Italian Greyhound
3 years old
Ted Maines and Jeffrey Miller, Orlando
Origins: A gift from a friend who said it was just meant to be.
Character traits: Walks like a gazelle, runs like a thoroughbred, has the poise of a ballerina, possesses a heart of gold.
Mothering instinct: Dotes over her big brother, Mr. Atticus Big, a 13-year-old Pug, bringing him toys and treats and never leaving his side.
Hello, Gorgeous!: Greeted by name as she takes her several-times-a-day walks through Thornton Park.
Favorite things: Cuddling, playing with her red ball, raiding the bathroom wastebasket, running around the house with a mouthwash cup on her nose.
Favorite vices: Adores expensive designer shoes, purses, belts, wallets, books and much more. Unfortunately, after she is done admiring them, the objects are of little value to her human friends.


Catahoula Leopard Hound
6 years old
Pam Keim, Orlando
Making a name for himself: Chance stands for “second chance.’’ He was rescued from a breeder who was about to euthanize him because the dog was born deaf.
Endearing qualities: A curious blue-eyed goofball. Loves people, but not in an overwhelming way (doesn’t jump on them). Likes to be scratched and petted.
Favorite toy: Owner’s flip flops, which he likes to chew up.
Worldwide influence: A friend of Keim’s in Ireland swore she would never have a pet, but changed her mind after seeing Chance’s doggie daycare pictures on Facebook.
Greatest adventure: When painters left a gate unlatched, Chance wandered off, walked three doors down, looked in the front door of a neighbor’s house, and then returned home.
In demand: Has four girlfriends at doggie daycare.


1½ years old
Laurel Norman, Orlando
Occupation: Roommate, buddy, smile ambassador.
A what? Vizslas are sporting dogs whose ancestors hail from Hungary.
Sixth sense: A special affection for the sick/elderly. Norman says a blind 92-year-old neighbor of her mother is a special friend. “Brinkley will just sit in perfect stance and let the man pet him for hours on end without leaving his side.’’
You lucky dog: On a visit to Norman’s mom in Lakeland a month ago, Brinkley got loose and chased some birds into a lake. An alligator attacked. After a bit of wrestling, along with a few choice punches to the gator from his grandma, Brinkley escaped with just a few minor dings.
Favorite vice: When he doesn’t get enough exercise, Brinkley chews throw rugs. After he went through 20, his owner opted for tile-only in their abode. Also, he’s been known to make quick work of a feather pillow.


Siamese Mix
3 years old
Robin Graham, Winter Garden
Previous life: Sick with a respiratory infection, Cubby was abandoned by his feral cat mom and showed up crying at the door of Graham’s mother-in-law’s house.
Occupation: Survivor who doesn’t hold a grudge. Practice partner for Graham’s cheerleader daughter.
A different voice: Sounds like a squawking bird when he meows.
Favorite things: Riding atop shoulders, chewing on wood, head-butting everyone and everything.
5-star helpmate: When the family’s elderly, blind Chihuahua roommate needs to go outside to potty, Cubby walks along, pointing him in the right direction by gently nudging him. The cat then waits for the dog to finish and guides him back into the house.


8 years old
Bill and Carol Ehlers, Casselberry
Origins: Abandoned at an animal hospital several years ago—along with a Golden Retriever/Chow mix by owners who brought them in for boarding, then never returned. The Ehlers (Bill is a veterinarian) adopted them both.
Favorite pastime: Making friends during walks.
Favorite vices: Tossing decorative pillows from the sofa when owners are gone.
Driving force: Jumps into owner’s lap and honks the horn when their car reaches its destination.
Name game: Original name was Sonny. The Ehlers family chose a new one for the abandoned Pug by calling out names at random and watching his response. His face brightened at the sound of “Junior.’’
Viewing habits: Tries to jump into the TV when a dog appears onscreen. Has shown a particular fondness for Cesar Millan, TV’s “Dog Whisperer.’’

Starting Over

Shelter dogs get lessons that change their lives at Camp Doglando.
By Mia Glatter

Lemon, a  four-year-old hound mix, needed a second chance. After nipping a careless owner who had never properly trained him, Lemon was deemed dangerous and given up to a shelter. But after an assessment by the University of Doglando, he’s been granted a fresh start for potential placement in a forever home.

The University of Doglando is a 3.5-acre enrichment center for canines, offering training for dogs in need of social and behavioral skills. Its weekly classes vary from obedience training and sports skills to scent understanding and basic tricks. It also provides boarding and daycare, but one of the things that really sets Doglando apart is a summer camp where local children get to work with animals in need of a home.

“One of the biggest conflicts between mankind and dogs is children,” says Teena Patel, dean of the school. “Many dogs are given up to shelters because the family has a newborn baby, and they don’t have time or didn’t correctly train the dog and think it might be dangerous around kids.”

Adam and Lemon (Roberto Gonzalez)

Patel has a background in psychology and merged her two passions of helping children and animals into the summer program, Camp Doglando. 

The camp runs in three 2-week sessions between June and August for kids ages 10 to 15. In each session rescue dogs are paired with their young trainers who—with the help of professional UOD trainers—teach the dogs skills that prepare them for a good chance at adoption.  The objective is not solely to find the dogs a new home; it’s also to teach the campers responsibility with pets.

“We want the kids to feel responsible and confident,” says Patel. “We are teaching these children to be kind, to be compassionate, to relate, to slow down, to pay attention.’”

At the end of the program, the young trainers show what their canine companions learned at a graduation ceremony. To graduate, the dogs must walk properly on a leash; demonstrate social aptitude in an off-leash setting; understand commands like “sit,” “down,”  “stay” and “go to bed,”; and ride calmly in the camp school bus. In the three years of the program, all of the dogs have earned passing grades, Patel says.

Camper and trainer Adam Chebali, 13, was given the opportunity to train Lemon.

“It’s pretty cool that we get to train the dogs and help them get adopted,” he says. “My favorite part was when we got to watch them all play together well. It was nice to see them acting like a big family.”

Lemon graduated from Camp Doglando with no signs of aggression and is now ready for a good home where he can put everything he has learned at Camp Doglando to good use.

“We typically have a 100 percent successful adoption rate at the end of the summer,” says Patel, who discourages the families of participating kids from adopting the dogs. “The kids have to learn attachment and detachment. It’s an invaluable lesson. But that’s what keeps these kids coming back—they want to help another dog.”

Pet Celebrations

SPCA Benefit
SPCA of Central Florida will present “Unleashed. Uncorked. Unframed,’’ an inaugural soiree to benefit the organization’s pets and programs, on Sept. 28 at the Quantum Leap Winery at 1312 Wilfred Drive, Orlando. The event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m., will feature an entertaining evening of wine, art and pets. Tickets are $100 per person and available at

Bird Showcases
Exotic Bird Events stages five shows a year at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, featuring breeders with birds for sale, plus cages, food, toys and more. The next show is scheduled for Oct. 20.

AKC/Eukanuba National Championship
Thousands of dogs will compete in the annual show Dec. 14-15 at the Orange County Convention Center. Last year’s overall winner was Sky, a wire fox terrier from California whose favorite pastime is kissing people.

Other Events
The Doggie Derby in Baldwin Park happens in early March and features pooches racing one another for trophies and prizes ( Also watch for the second annual Winter Park Canine Memorial in July, in which pet parents light floating candles at Lake Baldwin to honor their departed best friends.


Poodle and Pooch Rescue of Florida
The dogs rescued by Poodle and Pooch are elderly or have a medical condition that require special attention. poodle

Pet Rescue by Judy
Cats and dogs of all ages. PRBJ is a no-kill, safe environment for animals in transition to reside while they wait to find their forever home.

Parrots as Pets Rescue
A nonprofit that strives to rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for exotic

CARE Feline TNR (trap-neuter-return)
A charitable organization that fights to improve the lives of feral, abandoned cats.

Save a Life Pet Rescue
Fosters out dogs of all breeds and ages.

The Healing Ark Animal Rescue
Saving dogs, cats and horses for 10 years. They are a forever home to 17 dogs, eight cats and two horses. They are on an endeavor to provide a safe and loving home to animals that have been abused or have serious medical conditions.

Fallin’ Pines Critter Rescue
A local nonprofit that rescues exotic and unusual pets. They have a variety of animals ranging from chinchillas and hampsters to chickens and pigs. They want to give each rescued animal a loving home but the ones that are handicapped or unadoptable will be provided a permanent, no-kill residence with them.

DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue Center
Founded in 2010 to prevent cruel treatment and neglect to horses. They offer adoption to one of their adoptable horses currently but they take in new horses every year and strive to find them a home.

Florida Little Dog Rescue
Focuses on saving abandoned and abused small dogs. They are actively involved throughout the whole state of Florida but their main focus is here in Central Florida. FLDR is a charitable donation and pay the medical and grooming expenses of all foster families.

Pet Products

Pamper your furry or feathery friends with these inventive pet products.

Water Walker
The Refined Canine’s Water Walker takes care of multiple needs. This retractable leash includes a portable dog water bottle, water dish and a waste bag dispenser. $39.99,
Cape Cod Birdcage 
Stray from the standard metal hutch with Prevue Pet Products’ Featherstone Heights Cape Cod Birdcage for your feathery friend. The cage features two access doors, cups, perches and a removable bottom drawer for easy cleaning. $84.99,
K-9 Kannon
Play fetch using Hyper-Pet’s tennis ball launcher featuring hands-free ball pick up. It’s easy to use, has built-in ball storage and includes one pet-safe tennis ball. $36.99,
This inflatable dog collar functions like a recovery cone but is significantly more comfortable. Its design makes it easy for pets to eat, drink and sleep while wearing it. $18.99-$35.99,
Bivy Bota Bowl 
This collapsible water bowl by Ruffwear has a one-way fill and dispense valve, which keeps water clean from contaminants. Ideal for long walks, it has a loop that makes it easy to hang dry. $29.95,
Bivy Cinch Bowl 
Ruffwear’s food bowl is waterproof and closable, so your pet’s food stays fresh inside the bowl. Its stable shape allows for easy eating. $29.95,
K-9 Float Coat
Ruffwear’s buoyant and reflective float coat has a low-profile handle that’s beneficial when helping your pup out of the water, and the neck closure adjusts for a range of sizes. $79.95,
Pet Beds
Classic Paws’ miniature replica bedroom sets are pet-friendly and stylish and can even fit the brand’s memory foam mattress, so your feline or canine can sleep comfortably. $159,
Play-N-Squeak Cat Toy 
The “Thrill of the Chase” cat game allows indoor cats to play with “prey” as they would outdoors. A plush mouse with realistic sound spins as your cat has the time of its life pawing through the openings. $19.99,
Tuxedo Dog Collar
A novelty satin tuxedo collar will have Fido looking fresh for any event—plus, he’s sure to enjoy the attention he’ll get in this soft, comfortable attire.  $4.99,
These animal-shaped aquariums from Refined Fin will add a touch of whimsy to any room. Choose from elephant, whale, cat, frog and fish shapes in a variety of colors. $24.99,


Ask the Vet

Q: What should I do if my dog or cat has a seizure?

A: Seizures are serious events, but death during one is rare. Stay calm, and don’t try to put anything in your pet’s mouth: He or she cannot “swallow its tongue.”  Put something soft under the head, like a towel or blanket, to avoid injury, and take measures to keep your pet from falling (for example, off the bed or down stairs). Also, take care not to get hurt yourself when tending to your pet. Note the length of the seizure; most last less than 2 minutes. Once it is over, take your pet to your veterinarian or emergency clinic. If the seizure lasts over 5 minutes, get to a vet right away.   
Dr. Mary O. Smith
Affiliated Veterinary Specialists

Q: How common is heatstroke among dogs?

A: Heatstroke can be very common if dogs are exercised during hot, humid parts of the day, causing their body temperature to elevate to levels they cannot self-regulate.  Some dogs are lucky to survive; many do not.  The warning signs—including excessive panting, elevated heart rate, weakness and vomiting—often come after your dog has developed life-threatening changes. Obese dogs, breeds with flat faces and short muzzles, and older dogs may be more susceptible. Avoid exercising your dog on sweltering days, and even in moderately warm weather, make sure you carry plenty of water.
Dr. Jim Martin
Loch Haven Veterinary Hospital

Q: My cat is relieving herself outside the litter box. What could be the cause?

A: Inappropriate elimination can be for many reasons, including attempts at normal feline communication either with you or another animal; a dislike of the  litter box arrangement such as material, location and size or type of box; or inflammation of the bladder, urinary stones and medical conditions that cause increased urine production. Your veterinarian will need to know about your cat’s environment and will perform an examination and tests to rule out disease. Once the reason is determined, appropriate steps can be taken, and the cat can be retrained to use the litter box.
Dr. Kari Mundschenk
Bay Hill Cat Hospital

Q: Are vitamins or supplements necessary for pets?

A: Most research reveals that if your pet is on a high-quality commercial diet there is no need for additional supplementation. Trust your veterinarian to recommend such a diet. However, there are certain instances such as kidney or cardiac disease, or orthopedic conditions that require specific dietary restrictions. Your vet can discuss these and make recommendations for your pet’s specific needs.   
Dr. Taj O’Sullivan
Animal Medical Clinic of Orlando

Q: What should I do now that my pet has been diagnosed with cancer?

A: While many animal cancers are not curable, they are treatable and a good quality of life can be achieved in many patients. Once your veterinarian has made a diagnosis, a consultation with a veterinary oncologist can help you clarify how treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are applied in animal cancer therapy. Veterinary oncology, like its human counterpart, is a rapidly evolving field with many exciting new diagnostic and therapeutic tools coming to the fore, including tumor-specific vaccine therapy, targeted antibody therapy and bone marrow transplants. Even if therapy is not pursued the knowledge that you have explored the options will help bring closure in knowing the best decision has been made with the best information available.
Dr. David Lurie
Affiliated Veterinary Specialists

Q: Is too much catnip dangerous for my cat?

A: Only about half of cats are sensitive to catnip, and researchers aren’t sure of the neurological explanation for their reaction. Cats affected by it can be silly, extra active or rub against everything. Some cats that get aggressive around catnip can bite or scratch if an owner gets too close. It should be avoided for these felines as well as cats prone to seizures. Catnip can cross the placental barrier and although it has not been proven to harm the fetus, it may be wise to avoid in pregnant cats. Catnip should be used in moderation: Ingesting too much may cause gastrointestinal upset.
Dr. Anne Scholl Mealey
Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital

Rover R&R

Make it a weekend in St. Augustine without leaving your best friend behind.

By Nancy Moreland

Your first clue that St. Augustine has gone to the dogs? It’s not watching them frolic on the wide white sand beaches. It’s not the plentiful pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. The tipping point is the Tour de Chocolate. On this tasting tour through time, you learn that the first ship bearing chocolate to the New World docked in St. Augustine. You also discover that—contrary to popular opinion—dogs and chocolate aren’t mutually exclusive. While dogs don’t sample the sweets, “Travelers can bring their four-legged family members on any of our tours,” says Isabelle Miranda, coordinator for City Walks Tour St. Augustine.

In its 448-year history, St. Augustine has embraced many cultural trends; pet-friendly tourism is the latest. “America is becoming more like Europe in accepting dogs in public places, says retired tour guide and dog-lover Alice Sutherland. “St. Augustine is on the forefront of that trend. It’s a walking city, and dogs and walking go hand in hand.”

With numerous hotels and outdoor cafés accepting dogs and a historic downtown that is best explored on foot, the Oldest City is a dog lover’s dream destination. Here, museum employees dole out dog biscuits. A scenic boat tour welcomes pets aboard. The Fountain of Youth invites human and canine visitors to sample its legendary waters. As long as your dog is leashed and well-behaved, he basically has the keys to the city.

Here’s a glimpse into St. Augustine’s pet-friendly scene.

History on the Go

One of the best ways to understand St. Augustine history is to walk through it. Upon arrival, you and Fido can stretch your legs and your knowledge on Tour St. Augustine’s Plaza Stroll, a compact, yet comprehensive overview of city history.  To cover more ground, hop on an iconic Country Carriage horse and buggy ride.  Next, stroll along colonial-era St. George Street to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. After learning about 18th-century education, enjoy recess in the garden while your pet munches on complimentary dog biscuits. Travelers with dogs can also explore all of the exhibits and enjoy both of the restaurants in the recently revamped Colonial Quarter. The living history museum is a two-acre time machine traveling through three centuries of settlement.

Chow Time

Stacy Sather

Dogs have a reputation for always thinking about their next meal, but tourists are likewise tempted when contemplating St. Augustine’s savory restaurants.  The city’s plentiful alfresco eateries expand your pet-friendly dining options.  Even upscale establishments like Old City House Inn and Restaurant accommodate diners and lodgers with dogs. Just call ahead to reserve a courtyard table or pet-friendly room. While you swoon over the ahi tuna, your dog relishes his own side dish and water bowl, courtesy of owner Juan Solano.  Another option is the pet-friendly patio at The Floridian, a local favorite for farm-to-table fare.

After dinner, relax on the spacious grounds surrounding Castillo de San Marcos. Dogs are not permitted inside the fort, but the lawn overlooking Matanzas Bay is a pleasant place to watch sailboats drift by.

Dog Day Afternoon

Speaking of boats, St. Augustine’s beauty is best appreciated from the water. The St. Augustine Scenic Cruise offers excellent views of the city, fort and lighthouse. If you’re lucky, dolphins might swim alongside. 

Got a terrier to tire out before heading to the hotel? Run, swim and play on the beach (all beaches in St. Johns County are dog-friendly as long as your pet is on a leash). If sand and sun aren’t your thing, visit the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. Its shady environs feature 16th-century boatworks, a Timucuan Indian Village and other historical exhibits. You’ll get the most from your visit with the guided tour, but take time to walk along the pier for beautiful views.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

There’s no shortage of pet-friendly places to stay around town. St. Augustine Beach House, in nearby Vilano Beach, is among the friendliest. Innkeeper Dylan Cadwalader furnishes water bowls, treats, pet waste-bag stations and pet beds. His $15 pet fee, regardless of how many pets you bring along, is one of the town’s most reasonable. Like a concierge for canines, Cadwalader can recommend dog-friendly restaurants and attractions, too.

Other Pet-Friendly Cities

Flagler Beach
When a beach town promotes surfing and paddle boarding with your dog, it’s begging to be explored. Flagler Beach has dog-friendly beaches, parks, restaurants and hotels like Si Como No Inn. From October 10-13, the beachy Bohemian inn offers a people and pets retreat, with yoga and massage for you and your pooch.

Mount Dora
The Lake County city is loyal to dog lovers, with pet-friendly inns, shops, dog parks and two monthly events celebrating canines: Yappy Hour and Paws for Mount Dora.

Indian Harbour Beach
Indian Harbour Beach offers the only dog-friendly beach in Brevard County. Canova Beach Park includes a pavilion, grill, picnic shelter, restrooms and outside showers. With close proximity to Indialantic, Satellite Beach and Cocoa you will find a variety of pet-friendly dining and lodging options. and search “dog friendly.”

Pet Blessing
Visit St. Augustine in early October, and you can participate in Cathedral Basilica’s annual pet blessing. Confirm this year’s date by emailing


Categories: Features