Dogs of The Straz

In honor of National Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 22, we’re introducing you to some of the pups of The Straz.

Pet Sitters International launched National Take Your Dog to Work Day in 1999, right as American culture reached its tipping point about pooch pets, launching us precipitously over the edge of dog ownership to being owned by dogs, buying them clothes, shoes, strollers, insurance and even animal companions of their own. Eighteen years later, NTYDTWD is going strong. Part of the point of this day of observance is to raise money for local animal shelters and some companies have raised tens of thousands of dollars over the years of bringing their four-legged loved ones to the office.

Even though we’re a humans-only workplace, most of us believe dogs are people, too. Shadows, soulmates, BFFs, fur babies–whatever you want to call them, dogs play a huge part in the lives of The Straz’s many dog people. Here are a few of our “Straz Dogs” and the heartwarming stories of how they ended up with their humans.



Meet puggle Miley and hound-mix Whisky, boos of Marisol Rocha, our catering sales administrative assistant. Miley loves car rides and treats. Whisky, rescued from a shelter, also loves treats and enjoys watching television. Marisol and her husband bought Miley as their wedding present to themselves for an insta-fur-fam, and the three words they use to describe her are “loving, very hyper and demanding.” Whisky, a fine specimen of hound-dog style, is “loving, over-protective … and clumsy.”



This ridiculously adorable lil dude is Jackson Browne, a Chiweenie (chihuahua-dachshund). He owns our collaborative piano specialist Sarah Tellier and starred as Toto in the Patel Conservatory’s production of The Wizard of Oz last week. A true performing arts dog, Jackson is “loving, dramatic, and super social,” says Sarah. “I found Jackson after a day at the beach, and after finding out he had no chip over the following weekend, decided to adopt him! We instantly bonded, and he’s been a sweetheart ever since he came home.” Jackson loves his doggie blanket and cheddar cheese more than anything in the world. (Other than Sarah, of course.)



Senior writer Marlowe Moore Fairbanks got a friend request from this dude on Facebook in 2015, which she naturally accepted (actually, it was his foster mom who had set up a page for him). Marlowe had been stalking him for six years online, watching him never get adopted from a no-kill shelter in North Carolina. When her dog died, she needed a new bro, and so she drove to North Carolina and came back to Florida with Guster Hambone Moore Fairbanks. The three words that describe his personality are sweet, sweet and sweet. He loves running in the woods and is prone to dancing when excited enough. His two favorite things in the world are cat food and getting towel-dried.



Love bug of the year goes to Michael “Mike” DiPietra, compadre of Maggie DiPietra, the Straz Center grant writer. Mike is a special breed of Golden Retriever/Unknown/Possible Moose Involved (“he’s all legs,” Maggie says). Recognizable for his chill, patient personality and his expressive eyebrows, Mike was all but guaranteed a home with Maggie after her husband brought home a pic of him as a puppy with a little cast on his hurt leg. He was the last un-adopted kid in his litter—well, until Maggie saw him.



Here is our resident Ears McGee, production manager Shannon Darby’s squeal-inducing buddy Haggie. Shannon saved Haggie from a kill shelter ten years ago, giving this “five kinds of hound dog” a pampered life of working hard to be spoiled rotten. “He thinks he is human, of course,” says Shannon, “and that we are the suckers.” Shannon reports Haggie’s greatest loves in life are rolling the ball down the driveway so Shannon can toss it (like a reverse-fetch) and sniffing diverse and inclusive amounts of poop. Haggie has a cat. His name is The Blot.



Miss Bedroom Eyes here is Harper, the dog-child of our senior marketing manager Caitlin Potter. Caitlin, who admittedly was not enthusiastic about adopting a dog, took all of about forty seconds to turn into a hard-core dog person whose life was drastically re-organized around the needs of this loyal, energetic and gentle girl. Caitlin and her husband adopted Harper from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay last year. Harper’s two favorite things in life are catching a frisbee and eating, which now happen to be Caitlin’s favorite things, too.



The winner of our Most Magnificent Ears award goes to this booger, Zobi Thaddeus Siegler, the pup of our theater managing director of education Audrey Siegler and her husband, Gerard, who is our director of production services. When asked for three words to describe Zobi, Audrey said “hyperactive, disgruntled, emo.” Also sounds like a dog made for a life in the performing arts. The Sieglers fostered Zobi then adopted him from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and this adorbs terrier mix now has all the treats he can handle and a fine set of human siblings.



Goofus here goes with LeeAnn Douglas, our marketing director of digital and experience marketing. This is Moose, and this is the face of a certified mama’s boy. LeeAnn adopted Moose, a regal chow-coonhound blend, from Humane Society of Tampa Bay. His two favorite things in the world are his green ball and LeeAnn. Three words that describe this pretty boy? “Smart, shy and loud,” says LeeAnn.



It’s hard to believe this t-shirt wearing snookums passed out in a bag of Christmas presents was found abandoned on a hiking trail in California. But, that’s where Brent Denison, our ticket office customer service manager, found him. Eden Topaz is a piebald dachshund making the most of his loving new home. Brent says Eden is comical and friendly, with his two fave things in the world being eating and rides in the car. Totally legit.



This yin-yang super duo of Jack and Star keep plenty of drama in the life of our VP of Education Suzanne Livesay. Jack, a Golden Retriever, is a pedigreed boy and Star the Australian Shepherd was part of a BOGO deal at the breeder. “After having her in our lives for more than two years, we now know why she was ‘free to a good home,’” laughs Suzanne. Star’s favorite pastime is licking everything and Jack is completely unsurprising as a Golden: he loves people and the attention of people. The pair balance each other out—Jack’s friendly to Star’s awkward, his loving to her neurotic, his goof to her quirk. It’s like a very furry PB&J.



Mookie “The Puppy Boy” Piazza has the full-time job of keeping tabs on our rap-loving, wrestling aficionado Jeanne Piazza, our program manager. “I gotta little of this and a little of that,” says Mookie about his heritage. “I think I am part Lab and part Staffordshire Terrier, which is a fancy name for a pit bull … don’t judge, we’re very misunderstood.” Jeanne and her family rolled up to the free adoption weekend at the humane society, adopted Mookie, then promptly spent three hundred bucks buying this #luckydog one of everything. “The two things I enjoy most,” Mookie says, “are pretending I am a lap dog and jumping in the water … sometimes when I’m supposed to be just strolling along the river.” Mookie’s big secret is that he is a huge fan of show tunes—which surprises no one at The Straz.




This is a big week for Maggie Gecan, who celebrates her two-year adoptiversary with our senior marketing manager of events Sarah Gecan. Sarah, who can now count herself among the proud survivors of a Lab/Catahoula puppyhood, adopted Mags from New Horizons dog rescue. “Maggie is cuddly, goofy and energetic,” says Sarah. Maggie’s two favorite things in the world are taking hikes and playing with her neighbor dog friends.


National Take Your Dog to Work Day is fun but also a good reason to check with your local animal shelter about what they have on their “wish list,” or ongoing greatest needs. This year, the Straz Center’s staff donated food, toys, towels, treats and bedding during a Wish List drive for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. You can usually find a shelter’s wish list on their website.

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