It was 2001 when Susan Marie and her husband rescued a petite little Italian Greyhound and named her Sophia. Little did they know that their new fur-baby would inspire Susan’s life passion to become her life’s work? Nor did they know that Sophia would become the “voice of the voiceless” on her own radio show, urging people to adopt rescue dogs, volunteer, and promote spaying and neutering of pets.
Sophia’s sunny outlook and love for all things pink would make her famous along Florida’s Suncoast and beyond as she and Susan took to the airwaves weekly with “The Doggy Diva Show,” Saturdays at 9 am on petliferadio.com.
Bil-Jac recently interviewed Susan regarding the show, Sophia, and the other dogs who have been rescued and participate in The Doggy Diva Show.
Bil-Jac: How did your passion for animals become your “occupassion?”
Susan: I had been a longtime advocate of rescuing abused or neglected dogs, as well as spaying/neutering and promoting the health and welfare of animals. I had always encouraged others to adopt and foster a family of “furkids.” When we adopted Sophia in 2001, she was our first “petite” dog and, because she was so small we started traveling everywhere together. She had such a gentle and happy personality, despite her numerous health issues. We began attending animal events together and promoting animal adoptions. We were invited to be guests on a local radio show and the audience fell in love with Sophia! Shortly after that, we were presented with the opportunity to host a show of our own. I felt strongly that the show should be done from Sophia’s point of view and that she should be the “host.” My husband and I had already nicknamed her “Sophia the Doggy Diva,” so it was a natural to name the show The Doggy Diva Show.
Bil-Jac: What are the main ideas you want people to take away from the show?
Susan: We are committed to sharing the best information with pet lovers who desire the best for their pets—from nutrition to health and lifestyle. Each week, we bring in animal experts to share tips about those topics.
Bil-Jac: Tell us a bit more about Sophia and her life.
Susan: It seems like Sophia’s tragic life circumstances uniquely prepared her for what I believe was her destiny —to become a tireless advocate for the humane treatment of animals everywhere. Her life wasn’t always filled with beautiful pink collars and dresses. She spent the early part of her life chained to a tree day in and day out. When we rescued her, the bond was instant, as was her bond with her rescued brothers and sisters.
Bil-Jac: Who are those brothers and sisters?
Susan: We have Miss Olive, Coco and Franscesca, The Canine Contessa. Mr. Niko was part of our extended family until he passed on—he was the special companion of Miss Olive’s foster mom, Anne Marie, and a frequent guest on the radio show. Miss Olive loved him.
Bil-Jac: How did Sophia end up writing an editorial column?
Susan: Sophia and I were approached in 2007 by Suncoast Pet Magazine and asked to contribute a bi-monthly column. We named it “Diva Delights.” In it, Sophia covered a wide variety of pet-related topics and became a multi-media star! The column lives on today but is handled by Miss Olive, who pens an additional column in Suncoast Pet called “Miss Olive’s Favorite Things.” Miss Olive also is in the process of writing her very first children’s book!
Bil-Jac: Tell us how you found Miss Olive and how she came to be the current host of The Doggy Diva Show.
Susan: Miss Olive made her debut as co-host the day after we adopted her in 2015. I was a bit hesitant having her on for fear she may be overwhelmed at the studio, but she loved the experience and has been with me for every show and every interview since then. Miss Olive lost a leg to cancer and all of her teeth are gone due to a lack of medical care. We rescued her from a neglectful, abusive situation. She is a sweet and gentle spirit who loves people and animals alike and continues to channel her inner “Sophia the Doggy Diva” as both a fashionista and advocate, continuing Sophia’s role as the voice of the voiceless. Soon after Sophia crossed the Rainbow Bridge Miss Olive took over the spot at the microphone as the host of The Doggy Diva show.
Bil-Jac: We noticed that you and Miss Olive attract a variety of high profile guests. Who have been some of your more noteworthy guests?
Susan: I would say best-selling author and fellow dog lover, Dean Koontz, as well as animal advocates Alison Eastword and Julia Cameron, and “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker. But one of my favorites has to be celebrity animal champion Bob Barker.
Bil-Jac: We know your audience has grown over the years. How large is it currently?
Susan: We have an international audience of listeners as far away as Australia. Thousands of people listen to us weekly and “on demand” via iTunes, Stitcher, ACAST, Googleplay and Pet Life Radio.
Bil-Jac: We’ve been thrilled to support your work with Sophia, Miss Olive, and the other dogs who participate in the show. We are 100% behind your message of adopting rescue dogs, spaying/neutering and “always loving animals because they love us unconditionally.” What is it about Bil-Jac that made you want to partner with us?
Susan: We have proudly worked alongside Bil-Jac since our early days with Sophia! We value the nutritional benefits of Bil-Jac dog food and look forward to their participation in the show with valuable tips on nutrition, training, lifestyle and pet safety.
Bil-Jac is proud to partner with “The Doggy Diva Show.” Tune in on Saturday mornings at 9 am at petliferadio.com and let us know what you think!