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Welcome to my Blog, a place where the dog-human bond is promoted and I share my knowledge and enthusiasm for National Dog Week. To learn more about my work, please see About…If you like what you see, please share and subscribe!

Is your dog headed for “Howlly-wood” stardom, is your cat camera-ready for commercials?  Animal Casting Director Dawn Wolfe may be able to give you the answer. Dawn is the owner of Pawsitively Famous Animal Actors, based in Delran, New Jersey. 

At age ten, Dawn watched the movie Benji, and fell in love with its star. By age twelve, she began “putting on animal acts” for the entertainment of friends and family, quickly earning her the reputation as the “neighborhood pet sitter, dog trainer and wildlife rehabilitator.” A career was born.

In the late 1980s, Dawn and her family moved from Alaska to New Jersey where she could apprentice under the late U.S. Army Major Fred Fink who had served as the principal handler for the United States Army’s Canine Corps. Here, Dawn became a Certified Dog Behaviorist and Master Trainer. These days, Dawn is busy developing the Movie and Acting aspect of her dog-business and the training involved there-in. Dawn’s motto is, “A tired dog is a good dog,” and loves to share her holistic approach to dog care with her clients.  To read Dawn’s full biography go to http://www.pawsitivelyfamousanimalactors.com.

And that side of the animal industry seems to be growing. No matter what product or service is being pitched, advertising pros and those in the entertainment industry know that an adorable animal can help launch a highly successful advertising campaign. Just turn on your television and wait. Last night, I counted several commercials in which a cat or a dog had the starring role, and they weren’t all for pet-related products – whether selling financial services, beer, or chips, at some point, a well-trained animal has been “hired” to sway a consumer. And how many movies feature a four-legged heart-breaking hound or charismatic kitty?

And well-trained is the key word, because as Dawn will point out, no matter how cute or beautiful an animal may be, if it can’t follow commands and behave on the set, it cannot make it as an animal actor or model. A lot of work goes on before and during a taping or a photo shoot, and to create an animal star. Dawn also offers her services as an obedience trainer to help animals reach their goals as pitch-pets and actors. 

These days, most people see some incredible footage of animals doing some clever and entertaining things on television and the internet, including those popular “Stupid Pet Tricks” segments on Late Night with David Letterman. Those pets really aren’t so stupid, and not many know that a man by the name of Captain Arthur Haggerty, who also trained military dogs, was the inspiration behind this enduring feature. Captain Haggerty, who passed in 2006, is often referred to as the “Grandfather of American Obedience Training” in America and was instrumental in promoting the National Dog Week Movement with his enthusiasm and love for dogs. Through his work, the talents of our pets, especially dogs, were given a showcase on a national level, and helped to educate the public as to what a well-trained pet is capable of.

Below, Dawn shares a little about her work and this intriguing aspect of the pet-industry…

Please tell us about your business? Our company is called Pawsitively Famous Animal Actors. (http://www.pawsitivelyfamousanimalactors.com) We offer pet owners the opportunity to pursue an acting and modeling career for their pet. We have an online database for them to register and create a profile for each of their pets. The database is then utilized by me and the client to search, view and book the animal talent.  We also hold casting calls to locate talent and conduct open auditions regularly. We are also animal trainers and therefore also spend time preparing animals for their upcoming roles. We also are on set making sure everything goes smoothly. 

How long have you been in the animal casting biz? About 5 years now.

Do you only work with cats and dogs? No, we cast birds, farm animals, horses, reptiles and rodents. We have also worked with donkeys, skunks, a pot belly pig and a Capybara.

What has been one of your memorable moments in the business? Working on a shoot with Rufus, the all-time world champion Bull terrier.

What are common misconceptions that humans have when trying to get their pets into showbiz? That because their dog is cute or unusual looking it should be in show business. The ONLY thing that matters in this industry is the TRAINING that the pet has had. 

Can you tell us about a recent commercial, movie, or television spot your pets can be seen in? Our clients include Target products, Aflac, and Treasure Islands Resorts and Casinos. You can also check out a recent project at https://www.petloungee.com/?gclid=CKS1ncTGqacCFcfe4AodQBWADA We also hold Casting Calls for CATS 101 and DOGS 101 (for specific breeds) for Animal Planet.

As you know, the legendary Dog Trainer, Captain Arthur Haggerty played an important role in popularizing dog obedience training in America. Are you aware of National Dog Week and the Captain’s enthusiasm for the event and its founder, Captain Will Judy?

Yes of course I know of National Dog Week.  I would love to be more involved in promoting it. I miss Cap and love his daughter Babette to death. (To learn more about Babette’s business and services go to http://www.haggertydog.com).

Thanks for talking with me Dawn. Her work exemplifies the positive relationship that is inherent between humans and animals. When we make the effort to bring out the best in our pets, we bring out the best in ourselves. I hope we can work on something together to educate the public about the potential of the National Dog Week Movement and its significance in America’s past, and present.

Welcome to my Blog, established to share the message of Captain Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement in 1928.  Events like Woofstock capture the mission of that movement, bringing dogs and humans together in a positive way, not only during the last week of September, but year-round. To learn more about National Dog Week please see ABOUT.

I could say it was a beautiful sunny day in Islamorada, in the Upper Keys, but that would be redundant.  Except maybe during the Hurricane season, this place has the most-perfect weather around.  The Florida Keys offer the best of Mexico, California, the Virgin Islands, and Hawaii in many ways (I am very fortunate to personally attest to this).  In the Keys, you know you are still in the United States, and yet…that is what makes them so special.  There’s the bustle of places like Key Largo and Marathon, the sheer beauty of Islamorada and the Upper Keys, the rustic, stark attraction of Big Pine Key and the electrified tropical beauty of Key West.  And here’s the best part, mile for mile, the Keys are one of the most dog-friendly places I’ve encountered, as apparent in festivals like the second observation of Woofstock held last Saturday in Islamorada at Founder’s Park. 

At Woofstock, I met so many vendors “barking” about their products and services for dogs, watched dogs race about chasing Lures and jumping of platforms into a pool, and met some adorable adoptable dogs.

Upon leaving Woofstock, I literally ran into Sandy Tuttle who was just arriving with her dog.  Sandy is on the board of the Big Pine Bark Park and she had the exciting, long-awaited news that this week might bring the permits needed to continue work on their off-leash Bark Park.  As so many come to this site looking for news of the park, I promise to post news as I get it. 

For more information please go to http://www.keyswoofstock.com and http://www.marrvelouspetrescues.org. Here are some scenes from Woofstock, enjoy: I apologize with some technical difficulties with the captions…

A Chinese Crested goes for it on the Lure Course.

Two young volunteers "paws" to watch an event.A black lab snags some air-time before splash-down.Short one leg, but not on love!Could you be the one?

Made in the shade at the Marr-velous Pet Rescue Booth

This dog's got the Woofstock Spirit written all over him!A local band performs up on the amphi-theater...

This must be the waggin’ wagon.

Rich and Hooper search for shade and food.Could you be the one?

Welcome to my Blog, a great place for dog-lovers from all dog-walks of life.  To learn more about my work and National Dog Week, please see ABOUT!

With thoughts on Japan, National Dog Day has encouraged those who wish to help the animals of that nation to go to http://www.animalmiraclenetwork.com.

As a blogger of all things dog, I am always on the alert for local Rover-related topics for positive pet-related posts.  This year, I am lucky again to be in the Florida Keys for the Second Annual Woofstock Festival to be held at Founders Park in Islamorada (mm 87) on Saturday, March 19 from 11:00am-7:00pm.

Woofstock is billed as a “Far Out Festival Filled with Music, Food, Beer…” and of course scads of scalliwags, masses of mixed-breeds and parades of pedigrees. Last year’s event was a great success with over 500 dogs accompanied by over 1,000 humans. (See my coverage in Blog Archives of March 9, 2010-By the Time we got to Woofstock). This year, Woodfstock proves to be even more special with lots of local entertainment performing up on the acoustic stage and over 85 booths of pet-related vendors, businesses and organizations.

At the heart of Woofstock is the desire to help shelter pets in a fun and rewarding way. Founders of the event, Michele Beach and Joy Martin have had significant success in rehoming hundreds of cats and dogs through the Marr-Velous Pet Rescue organization in the Upper Keys (http://www.marrvelouspetrescue.org). This shelter thrives through the use of the “inter-pet” and “social petworking” sites like Facebook which helps them create a virtual shelter with pets being cared for by foster homes rather than actual brick-and-mortar shelters. These fosters, in several states, are also supported by substitute foster families who fill in the gaps by caring for pets when foster families need weekend or vacation back-up (a great way for families to care for a dog without commitment).  Events like Woofstock raise funds for the care and feeding of these animals.

Like last year’s event, Woofstock will feature adoptable dogs and pups (some breed-specific) and for those cat lovers, kitties needing “purr-manent” homes will be made available through organizations like Forgotten Felines and Caring for Cats.

This year’s event will again offer interesting and educational demonstrations like Lure Coursing, K-9 CPR Training, K-9 Search and Rescue as well as a Blessing of the Pets.  New this time around is Dog Dock Diving with Ultimate Air Dogs (something I think my water dog, Hooper might like).

As you may recall, last September (on the first day of National Dog Week) my community of Brick Township held their first-ever DogFest on the banks of the Metedoconk River at Windward Park.  Like Woofstock, this event was so successful, that plans are in progress for their 2nd Annual event on September 18 of this year.  You can read more about last year’s event in the Blog Archives of September 28, 2010.

Sponsored again by the Brick Rotarians, Bark Fest 2011 plans to be bigger and better this Fall.  For details, or to participate, please go to their Blog at http://brickdogfest.wordpress.com.

These events are more than just a walk in the dog park. Both these dog-friendly days offer an opportunity for dog owners to meet and share experiences, learning about products and services that strengthen the bond between them and the dogs they love.  This is what Will Judy had in mind when in 1928, he set aside the last week in September and declared it National Dog Week.  Events like Woofstock, Bark Fest, and others make sure that every dog gets its day, and hopefully come September – a week!

If you have a dog event, or are planning a dog week event in September, please let me know about it! Contact me at pst39crd@aol.com.

To read more about Woofstock, please see their site at http://www.keyswoofstock.com.

In my next post, meet Animal Casting Director, Dawn Wolfe of New Jersey as she shares the secrets of getting your dog Spot in the Spot light, or your Kitty camera ready…This Saturday, March 19th, marks the return of WoofStock, a “Day of Peace, Paws and Music,” up at Founders Park, (mm 87) in Islamorada.  I had the pleasure of attending last year’s event (see post of 3/9/10) and meeting its organizer, Joy Martin and Michele Beach of Marr-Velous Pet Rescues.  I hope to attend this year’s event as well.  To learn more, please go to http://www.keyswoofstock.com, and http://www.marrvelouspetrescues.org or follow them on Facebook.  In the weeks ahead, I will also update you on Miami-based Nikki Moustaki’s efforts on behalf of Nitro’s Law, an update from Michele Adams on the Big Pine Bark Park and some other “tails” of the Keys and South Florida…

Sometimes things come full circle. I met author Lisa Pliscou during the submission process for my book, Every Dog has its Week, a year ago, and out of this experience came some great advice and encouragement and a chance to make the acquaintance of a fellow author. The status of Every Dog has changed since then, but a few weeks ago, Lisa, also a dog lover who recalled my work, contacted me and asked me if I would like to be featured on a new blog she had started called “STOKED.”  

Lisa, the author of the Young Adult Novel, Higher Education, (to be reissued September) excitedly awaits the debut of her children’s book titled Dude, Fun with Dude and Betty (HarperCollins due out this May).  This surfing-inspired book features a fun-loving Airedale terrier, making it bloggable subject matter (did I just make up a word) and I will share more about this when the book becomes available.

But this is not just a story about some fun in the surf.  In talking about her book, Lisa explains, “I think the thing about Dude is that you can totally appreciate it as a funny little story, enjoying the zany mashup of the old Dick & Jane sensibility and a hip, modern vibe. If you want to go a little deeper, you can look at Dude an expression of the archetypal surfer’s story featuring a plucky protagonist who overcomes challenges (wiping out) and obstacles (parents insisting he perform pointless tasks) to achieve a triumphant conclusion (he’s back at the beach, ready to surf, and he’s stoked). And if you want to go even deeper than that, the story is straight out of Joseph Campbell: very simply, Dude is following his bliss.”

Growing up on the beaches of Southern California and Mexico, the author who now calls New Jersey home, is no stranger to the world of surfing. By combining her love of surf-culture and writing, Lisa is definitely in the Stoked Zone. By definition, stoked means to be happy, excited, brimming with enthusiasm and satisfaction–fuel that stokes the fires of mind, body and soul. This “stoked” philosophy is evident in her latest projects, as she states, “Personally I’ve always been interested in the idea of following one’s bliss, and Dude — warrior of the waves, ruler of radness, and sultan of stoke — has inspired me to curate my new blog on that very topic. It’s been fascinating and, again, inspiring, finding out what gets other people stoked. They just sort of light up talking about it, and I for one am all for more light in a sometimes murky world!”     

As a writer, working in a world that can be dismissive, and rejecting, having Lisa think of me when she needed a “STOKED” feature was very rewarding and well, it got me kind of stoked while I follow my own bliss, dogs and writing.  As a blogger always reaching out to potential “interviewees” it is nice to be on the other side of the asking. To read my personal “STOKED” quote, and learn more about Lisa Pliscou’s writing and background, please visit her website http://www.lisapliscou.com. (The STOKED testimonials can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of her HOME page).  There is also a form you can fill out and submit for upcoming STOKED features, for readers of all ages.

Thanks for the “STOKE” Lisa. We offer you a “high-tide” for your success and hope your latest book rides in on a wave of good fortune! Next, while vacationing in the Keys, my dog has also asked if she can interview me…it’s very dog-friendly down here and she is feeling almost human-like…I’ll have to take a look at those questions, though, sometimes she’s awfully nosey.