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Former fire house goes to the dogs, and owners

Published May 22, 2005

CLEARWATER - Original art work, clothing from Hawaii, jewelry, gourmet baked goods, furniture, all natural foods and hand-painted T-shirts.

These are just a few of the items offered at "Fluffy Puppies - a Place For Dogs" retail shop in the old restored fire station at 1447 S Fort Harrison Ave. in Clearwater.

The shop is a canine-shopper's heaven with tables, aisles and display cabinets filled with everything to outfit pampered pets, feed them, keep them cool and travel with them.

It also has tempered glass cutting boards, aprons and pot holders for the kitchen, coasters and note cards, all with various breeds painted on them. There's even a pup tent for the outdoor camper. Oh, and there's Bella Pucci grooming salon where dogs of every size and shape are bathed, clipped and dried.

With three dogs at home - an Australian cattle dog, a yellow Labrador retriever and a Chesapeake Bay retriever - Kris Walker decided it might be worthwhile to start a business specializing in dogs. "When I saw how many products were out there that I'd never seen in this area," Walker said, "my husband Bob and I decided to invest in a business and hire my friend Bette Burton-James to manage it."

With an investment of close to $60,000, Fluffy Puppies opened in February with its large picture window decorated in red and white toys, gifts and clothing for Valentines. Since then, the window's colors have changed with the holidays and seasons.

Local artist Harry Zimmerman created original art work for the store and came up with the store's name, said Walker, a retired chiropractor.

Walking through the store, two tables with some 18 varieties of baked cookies filling bowls look tempting. But naturally, they're for the small, medium and large dog, at $9.95 a pound. There are rawhide cards for all occasions and even birthday cakes and candles in the shape of doggie bones. People can sample some cookies from a little bowl at the counter.

Fluffy Puppies is open Monday through Saturday. The Web site is

The Blitz, fitness for men, is new to area

The Blitz, an exercise program for men that combines strength training, boxing and martial arts into a 20-minute circuit called the Blitz ring, has opened at Washington Square Plaza, 3970 Tampa Rd., in Oldsmar.

"The ladies have their Curves for women and now the men have The Blitz," said owner Ron Brightwell of Palm Harbor.

After more than 30 years in the health care industry, Brightwell retired as a vice president of sales for a health care company and decided to strike out on his own.

Brightwell said he got the idea for the business from his wife and daughter, who were going to Curves. "I'm in my late 50s," he said, "and I didn't want to go to a regular gym." So he did a little research, he said, and found a growing franchise based in Gardner, Kan. "There was nothing like it in this area," he said.

He bought a franchise and with an investment of $60,000, opened the business earlier this year.

The center is set up like a mock boxing ring, with participants moving between machines and punching bags at the sound of a bell that rings every 30 seconds, Brightwell said. The intensity of the workout can be regulated to suit the participant, he said.

"We recommend a workout three times a week," Brightwell said, "but members can come as often as they like." The Blitz is open Monday through Saturday.

Participants can join for a year with a $62 one-time enrollment fee and $30 a month, Brightwell said. Those who want to join on a month-to-month basis pay $40 a month. The Web site is

Prudential Tropical Realty adds to Countryside staff

Nancy Spiegel has joined Prudential Tropical Realty residential sales team at its 2539 Countryside Blvd. office in Clearwater. She is a graduate of Queens College, Flushing, N.Y., and most recently was a sales associate for Century 21.

Dunedin Animal Hospital adds veterinarian

Dr. Bonnie Tucker has joined the medical team at the Animal Hospital of Dunedin, 1355 Pinehurst Rd. She is a graduate of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Grafton, Mass., with a specialty in small animals.

She has been practicing veterinary medicine for five years, three of them in the Tampa Bay area. She is a member of the Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Society and American Veterinary Medical Association and serves on the board of No More Homeless Pets of Hillsborough County.

The practice includes Dr. Patrick Hafner, who has owned the hospital for more than 20 years and is the author of a book on pet loss and bereavement by elderly owners; Dr. Wade Matthews, who is the visiting "pet professor" at Kings Highway and San Jose elementary schools; Dr. Gregory Todd, an instructor and lecturer on veterinary acupuncture and lecturer on herbology case studies and complementary medicine, and Dr. Michelle Danna-Christian, who worked at animal hospitals in Staunton and Woodbridge, Va., before joining the Dunedin practice.

News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119, e-mailed to or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.

[Last modified May 22, 2005, 01:07:21]

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