March 21, 2012
Tough day for Juno, the inspiration for Juno's Kitchen & Deli


Juno, a beloved dog known to many in East Sacramento and foodie circles well beyond, might be getting a new notation on her canine report card: Doesn't play well with snakes.


Juno is the dog that inspired the name of Mark Helms' highly regarded Juno's Kitchen and Delicatessen. Her face is resplendent on the restaurant's logo. She sleeps in the couple's bed. For a treat, she wolfs down Helms' incredible burgers.

Tuesday, however, was a tough one for Juno, Juno's, Helms and his wife, Sue.

Sue and Juno were out on a romp along a quiet stretch of the American River. Juno went for a swim, darted into a bush or two, then came hobbling back to Sue. There were two fang marks on Juno's leg and it was badly swollen.

That's when things got scary. Sue called Mark at the restaurant. Mark took stock and left the restaurant in the hands of a lone employee -- taking the orders and cooking the food while the owner/chef was racing to the emergency veterinarian on Bradshaw Road.

"When I got in the car, Juno was panting. Then her head dropped," Mark said. "I drove as fast as I could."

Juno is going to make it. She got the antivenin and had to spend the night at the clinic.

"Juno sleeps with us. I couldn't sleep all night because something was missing," Mark said. What's more, Juno and Mark have on occasion swum together from River Park all the way to Discovery Park about six miles away.

The pooch and her owners are expected to be reunited later today. I asked about the bill for the antivenin: $2,500, according to the chef. That's a lot of sandwiches, burgers, pasta and soup.

So if you like dogs and love really good cooking, you might want to stop in and give this excellent eatery some extra business.

As for the pooch, I wondered if the chef had a special treat in mind once she's back at full strength.

"Juno loves burgers," he said. "She loves them rare. She makes this very interesting noise right before she eats them. It sounds like a vacuum."

Given the quality of those burgers, can anyone blame her?

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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