You may have heard of Bark-Andre Furry, the little Jack Russell Terrier that’s doing big things for the Las Vegas Community. Whether it’s supporting the team on his social media accounts with fun posts, interacting with hockey fans from all over the world, or being a therapy dog at local Hospitals. Bark seems to do it all to inspire the Vegas Golden Knights and their fans.
If you noticed I have a bit of a fondness for animals. I wanted to reach out and find out more about this Vegas Knights Super-Pup. I had some questions for Bark-Andre Furry himself and his owner. This soon led me to a musician and some of the staff at Summerlin Hospital about all the amazing work he has been doing. I was also able to ask about a couple of great causes that Bark and his owner are currently working with. “Bark For A Cause“, the Tyler Robinson Foundation, and “Paw You Need Is Love” Concert series are just a few of the things they have been doing.
With the Vegas Golden Knights in the final 4 to win the Stanley Cup, we also had some hockey to talk about. First, I needed to know the story behind how Bark and his owner Rick started their fandom.
The Start Of Bark-Andre Furry The Super Fan
For anyone who doesn’t know the curious story of how Rick and Bark got involved in sports would be curious to know his real name is “Fenway”. Rick and “Fenway” started as Red Sox fans before heading west to Las Vegas. I wanted to know about the rebrand to Bark-Andre Furry?
“It was never a rebrand, he still goes by Fenway. It started as a joke at work, I was looking to start a new Twitter account to engage with VGK fans and made Fenway the focal point of the account. I started messing with the name Marc-André Fleury and through several iterations settled on Bark-André Furry. I did a handle and hashtag search and found that name to be available on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (I reserved all three). I started the Twitter account in September/October of 2017 and the other two in December/January?”
That didn’t stop Bark-Andre Furry from taking on the city and the team as their own. “Like most of Las Vegas I was excited about the Golden Knights being our first professional team from the four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA), and they allowed me to attend their practices at City National Arena.” The first season run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs helped things for Bark-Andre Furry.
“Unbelievable. Based upon all the preseason “expert” predictions, I was hoping we wouldn’t come in last place. Making the playoffs was amazing! By mid-March, you had to have a wristband just to attend practice! The Statue of Liberty at New York New York had a giant Knights sweater, VGK banners and flags lined The Strip, and every hotel’s marque were adorned with Golden Knights well wishes. Hundreds, if not thousands of people would line the streets near City National to send off the Knights as they headed to road games during the playoffs.”
He would continue, “On game days Toshiba Plaza, adjacent to T-Mobile arena, would often have the same number of people watching the games on a big screen as there were inside the arena. I met Marc-André Fleury following our series with the Sharks, and I appeared on the NHL Network with Jackie Redmond, E.J. Hradek, and Mike Johnson during the Stanley Cup Final…really cool!”
A new year, and a new run for the Cup. Vegas is doing well this season, how is your cholesterol doing with all those Sausage Cigars? “Yeah, I have been eating quite a few of the Victory Sausages this year! With any luck, I’ll enjoy 8 more, plus one for the parade!”
I know it is a big thing for you, being a dog. What is your favorite mascot to chew on? “Paws down, it has to be Sharkie!” Sharkie may be his favorite! But Youppi will need to watch out in the NHL Final Four.
Bark The Therapy Dog: Sunrise And Summerlin Hospitals
Not only is Bark-Andre Furry a huge Vegas Golden Knights fan. He and Rick also do a lot of great work at Summerlin Hospital and the surrounding Vegas area as a therapy dog. I got two amazing stories about Bark being a natural at his job and it going from there.
“In May of 2018, myself and several VGK fans were invited to visit a 10-year-old biped following his open heart surgery at Sunrise Children’s Hospital. [Jen’s] mother [Margerat] was hoping our visit would lift his spirits since his surgery prevented him from attending the Conference Final. That visit was followed up by a request from a mother whose daughter was facing the same surgery in August 2018. [Sam] reached out to me and asked if I would visit her daughter [Victoria] following her surgery and would I bring some of my friends.”
“Following those two visits I decided I wanted to visit hospitalized children on a regular basis. I found out that in order to do so I would have to attend therapy dog classes and pass a few tests in order to become certified. Following graduation and certification in late 2018 I joined Win-Win Entertainment and began visiting children at UMC Children’s Hospital, Sunrise Children’s Hospital, and the Children’s Medical Center at Summerlin Hospital as well as serving as an ambassador, along with my buddy Sir Winston da Doodle, for the Shriner’s Open golf tournament in Las Vegas.”
“In February of 2019, I applied to become a member of the therapy dog team at Summerlin Hospital (I live close by) and established a schedule that allows me to visit the oncology and pediatric units and pediatric ER every Friday.
The best thing about being a therapy dog is I get to work alongside the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and staff to help children heal.” Bark and Rick would continue on about his duties as a Therapy Dog.
“I’ve got a really cool badge with my picture on it, and everywhere I go at Summerlin Hospital everyone knows my name! I pass out stuffies (they look like me!), coloring books, and several times a year I pass out Pawliday Boxes…I think it makes the little bipeds happy, and that’s the best part of being a therapy dog.”
“The first-ever patient that we visited as an official therapy dog is named [Sandra]. [Sandra] was a patient in the oncology unit of Summerlin Hospital, they had met a few months earlier at a VGK practice (I did not know this at the time). They took to each other right away, he seemed to know just what to do? He laid down on the bed with her, looked her right in the eye, and smiled his Bark smile…he stayed with her for 10-15 minutes (I didn’t know anything at the time, it was my first visit too).”
“[Sandra] has recovered…we saw her again in October of 2019 when Bark was serving as an ambassador at the Shriners Open. [Sandra] recognized him, called his name, and soon he was going for a ride in her wheelchair.”
“We continue to visit her and her family to this day, in fact, less than a month ago to drop off a Paw You Need Is Love shirt. Why? Because I’ve seen firsthand the healing power that a therapy dog provides. Why children? I suppose you just need to look at the faces of the children when Bark is sitting on their beds…that was enough for me.”
The Tyler Robinson Foundation, Bark For A Cause, Paw You Need Is Love, And More
As I continued to research about all the great work Bark was doing. I found more and more things. I mentioned Bark For A Cause which Rick got involved with several years back. This led to work with other nonprofit organizations.
“Bark For A Cause is a 501(c)3 that I and my buddy Winston set up to support our efforts to supply stuffies to children during our visits to local hospitals. Due to COVID, we were unable to conduct any fundraisers for the past 14-months so we’ve relied upon the generous support of our followers who “Buy One, Give One” or “Sponsor a Stuffy” for hospitalized children. We work in conjunction with St. Jude’s Las Vegas and the Tyler Robinson Foundation to not only supply stuffies but also to raise money for children’s causes.”
This led me to the “Paw You Need Is Love” Concert series and the Tyler Robinson Foundation. Bark-Andre Furry and Rick got involved back in 2018 with a Christmas Hamper Program. They started delivering holiday boxes to children diagnosed with cancer in the area. This has led to T-shirts, bobbleheads, and even a concert series with award-winning Cellist Sarah “Cellobat” Chaffee. Sarah is currently playing alongside Aerosmith during their Las Vegas residency but had time to talk about Bark-Andre Furry.
“I am really excited to continue the Paw You Need Is Love series with Bark in the future! Our recent volunteer concert at the hospital together was so much fun — I put together a setlist of Disney tunes and a few pop songs, and the music was very well received by the children, parents, and hospital staff… and of course Bark puts a smile on everyone’s face wherever he goes!”
“Right now our plan is to do quarterly concerts and possibly recruit some of my lovely musician friends to play with me for future events. It felt amazing to bring joy to people with the first show and I can’t wait for the next one!”
For anyone not familiar, “The mission of the Tyler Robinson Foundation is to strengthen families financially and emotionally as they cope with the tragedy of a pediatric cancer diagnosis by offsetting out-of-pocket expenses.” The foundation was started in 2013 when Imagine Dragons teamed up with the Robinson Family. To find out how you can get involved, click on the link.
When you started did you think Bark would get this kind of following? “No. The intention was to interact with Knights fans and have fun. In January of 2018 Bark met Aly Lozoff (VGK rinkside announcer year one) at practice, she asked what’s his name, I told her Bark-André Furry and she nearly spits out her water. She posted pictures to her Twitter/Instagram and I believe that was the first the Knights knew of our accounts. From there more and more people kept telling me, you need to get him his own sweater, which if you know anything about pet jerseys they are not customized and the manufacturers don’t offer one-ops.”
Did you think you would be making this kind of impact when you started this 4 years ago, I asked Rick? “No, I really didn’t. My goal was to use Bark’s platform to give back, but I had no idea how?” What the end goal could be one day? To be able to deliver something like this to every child in North America who has been affected by cancer, he said. Hopefully one day Bark-Andre Furry and his team of furry companions will accomplish their goal!
Sports Talk Line Network And The Stanley Cup Finals
One of the main reasons I joined on with Sports Talk Line was the flexibility to write about what I wanted. This time I wanted to write about Bark-Andre Furry and everything he does for the Las Vegas Community. Make sure you follow this amazing dog on Twitter @BarkAndreFurry as Vegas continues its run towards a Stanley Cup. You may not be a fan of Vegas, but it is hard not to be a fan of Bark-Andre Furry.
Check out the Sports Talk Line website for the latest sports news and updates. The NHL playoffs are getting down to the final 4. Will the Vegas Golden Knights make it past the Montreal Canadiens and into their second Stanley Cup in 4 years? The NBA Playoffs are also getting down to the wire, so check out all the highlights on our YouTube Channel. Names have been changed for privacy purposes for this article.
Finally Bark-Andre Furry, what would you say to Vegas Golden Knights fans? “GO KNIGHTS GO!”