Smokin' Event for K9 Handlers

By Malcolm Mayhew

Virbac Copywriter


Usually when the firemen of Rockwall Fire Station Number 2 see smoke, there’s trouble.  But on a recent cool September night, plumes of smoke drifting around Rockwall were from a welcome source: barbecue.

A group of barbecue-loving Virbac employees continued a long-running tradition last month, cooking ‘cue for North Texas firemen, police officers and other first responders who use K9s - dogs trained to assist law enforcement officers - in their jobs. The K9 handlers and their families enjoyed smoked meats and freshly made sides while Virbac employees chatted with them about MOVOFLEX® Advanced Soft Chews, a new Virbac product designed to offer joint support for dogs. 

K9s that work in the fields of search and rescue, explosive devices and other police and fire-related areas are constantly on the move and, sooner or later, they’ll need joint support, Doug Tackett, Virbac Sales Senior Manager, explained to event attendees. 

Now in its 13th year, the event - part of a week-long North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) convention - drew nearly 50 K9 handlers to Rockwall Fire Station Number 2, where Virbac employees Smokey Johnson, Randy Gunter and Charles Ganzzino cooked and served delicious brisket, ribs and pulled pork, and sides such as baked beans and potatoes. Randy’s wife Paula helped set up the cooking stations and also assisted with many of the sides (she sported a VETERINARY HPM® Pet Nutrition T-shirt, too!). 

“It’s such a great opportunity for us to give back to these guys,” says Smokey. “We’ve been doing this for years now and it’s still one of my favorite events. To shake hands with these guys, these people who help keep our communities safe, would be good enough, but to cook for them is nothing less than an honor.” 

As the firefighters ate, Doug Tackett and Douglas Monnin, South Central Regional Sales Manager, introduced the new MOVOFLEX® Advanced Soft Chews. Many in attendance were already familiar with the original MOVOFLEX® Soft Chews and after the presentation, crowded around “the Dougs” to receive complimentary samples of the new product. 

Later, an adorable Dutch Shepherd named Vigil played with some of the kids in attendance, demonstrating her agility, strength and speed. 

“These dogs are absolutely amazing creatures,” Smokey says. “They’re the reason we at Virbac all do what we do.”