DOGPerfect has locations in Lakewood Ranch, University Town Center and The Landings; you can buy Ringling College students' designs at each one.

DOGPerfect has locations in Lakewood Ranch, University Town Center and The Landings; you can buy Ringling College students' designs at each one.

One of the top issues for recent college graduates is finding a job without having prior work experience. Ringling College of Art and Design has a solution: as part of the college's Collaboratory, a partnership with the Patterson Foundation, students were given the opportunity to design dog toys for local pet store, DOGPerfect, and the top three designers received a scholarship. Plus, the winning toys will be sold in all DOGPerfect locations through the end of October.  

The top three designs were created by Ringling students Tu Cam Malaspina, Bea Patarata and DeAnna Boyer. Malaspina's and Patarata's designs, which were developed from concept to production with dog toy manufacturer SmartPetLove, were cactus and platypus plush and tug toys, respectively. Boyer's concept, a line called "Cozi Cosmonauts," will be considered for future production.

"I wanted to create a design that was functional and appealing to the customer's eye," says Malaspina. "I sketched my platypus design and the manufacturers helped make it come to life." Her toy, the tender-tuffs "Platypup," is a 24-inch multifunctional toy with a squeaker in the tail and head.  

Malaspina majored in visual studies at Ringling, focusing on 3D modeling and sculpting. She says the experience of creating the dog toy was almost like an internship, and was a great addition to her resume. The scholarship money she  won from the contest helped with tuition and other student expenses.

"When SmartPetLove came to Ringling and asked for students' work, I was excited because I remembered how much fun I used to have playing with my dog," says Malaspina. "I visited the University Parkway DOGPerfect, and it was so nice seeing my design sold there." 

For each toy bought, DOGPerfect will donate $5 to Ringling College. Malaspina and Patarata's toys will be sold exclusively at DOGPerfect until Oct. 31, and at other retailers after. 

DOGPerfect has locations at 11605 S.R. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch; 5419 University Parkway, University Park; and 4820 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.  

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