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New Barker magazine, for Tampa Bay area dog lovers, is a hit

Anna Cooke, 52, just finished the eighth edition of the New Barker, a quarterly magazine for Tampa Bay area dog lovers, which she created with her husband. The Times sat down with her — and dogs Rita, Chloe and Zoe — to talk about the magazine and the local dog community.

So did you start out in magazines?

I started out in advertising. My husband and I have an advertising and design firm, Cooke Creative. We mostly do business-to-business publications, like newsletters, Web sites and brochures.

Where did you go to school?

There was a school in St. Petersburg, called Tomlinson Art School, a commercial art program. It was right around where the shuffleboard is.

Were you always a dog lover?

No! My husband and I traveled a lot and never really thought about a dog. We started with a Siberian husky early in our relationship, and that was by accident.

An accidental dog?

One year around the holidays, the house was quiet, and we went to the mall. That's when pet stores were in the malls. Steve went into a pet store, and he came running out and said, "You've got to see this dog. We've got to save her. We've got to get her out of here!" And I thought, "Who is this man?"

What have you learned about dogs since you got your first one?

Humans, we're not as patient as dogs. Dogs always wait. They wait all day for you, and they're still happy to see you even when you left them behind.

What would you tell new dog owners about getting a dog?

I really want to get the message out that the rescue groups, SPCA and the humane society have purebred dogs that you can adopt for very little money. Sometimes people think they won't know what they're getting from a rescue dog. The reality is you'll probably know more about a shelter dog than you would about a puppy. The shelter tests for diseases, knows if the dog is aggressive and will tell you about injuries and chronic issues.

That's an interesting charm bracelet, with a dog house, dog bone and other dog-themed charms. Where did you get it?

These are charms by Jennifer Fernandez, a local silversmith. The company is called A Tail of Two, and she's been advertising with us since day one.

So what gave you the idea, three years ago, to start a magazine for dog lovers?

We did a campaign for a client with a dog boutique, and there really wasn't a dog-focused magazine out there that targeted dog lovers.

Did you know right away that it would be successful?

I got checks for the ads, but I didn't cash them at first. I just taped them to the bulletin board. Just pragmatic thinking — not negative, just pragmatic. I believed in it, but I wanted to make sure, before cashing the checks, this would come to fruition.

A lot of publications have seen their advertising drop. How about you?

Every issue since the first issue an advertiser might drop out, but we always get an advertiser to replace them. This time has been no different.

Sounds like a pretty resilient corner of publishing.

It's amazing. It's a community. People want and like to be a part of a local community.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3117.

New Barker magazine, for Tampa Bay area dog lovers, is a hit 05/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 8:13am]
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