Sunday, December 19, 2010

We Visited Your Mom Today!

Astrid and I are a therapy pet team. We visit three living facilities and Alzheimer's centers each month. If the thought of this makes you shudder a little, you must not have visited your mom...or your grandma or grandpa or your sister that has had a stroke lately. Depressing, dreary and waiting to die? No way.....did you know that these residents form the same kind of cliques that you remember from junior high? Well, maybe that isn't the most encouraging news you've heard lately, but our point is that the same human needs and desires don't diminish the day one enters a living center, whether it be assisted or intensive care. Here's an example......at the Alzheimer's center there is one very pleasant lady that is always delighted to see Astrid arrive for her scheduled visit. She is, EXCEPT for the days she is sitting with her best friend. On that day, like her friend, she doesn't like dogs either. This is perfectly okay with us because we understand that the friendship of this woman is daily, Astrid's visit is once a month. 


People in nursing, living and rehab centers aren't waiting to die. They wake up each day to live one more day of their life. Each day, each moment of one's life is important, whether it is enjoyed in the 22nd year of life or the 92nd year of life. If you wish there was something you could do to 'give back' in life, your opportunity may be as close as your dog. Your dog doesn't need to know a million tricks or even obey your every command. Every organization has pretty much the same standards but the requirements for registration vary greatly. Our organization...Therapy Dogs, Inc....requires a simple physical test and then three visits that are observed by a qualified tester/observer.  You might enjoy visiting someones mom, grandma or grandpa or sister who has had a stroke and recuperating.  Save some time to listen to their stories, too, you love 'em! And don't forget to add that 'awwww' factor to your dog...a super cute bandana from Astrid's Etsy shop or ArtFire studio!



Friday, November 19, 2010

Astrid Plays Dice

There are so many things to do with your dog once they have learned the simple behavior 'touch'. Simple things become quick and rewarding bonding times throughout the day. Here Astrid plays a game of dice.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Game Of Touch

When Astrid learned to play 'touch', it was really the launching pad to all kinds of fun stuff to learn and do. We learned to play the game using a clicker which makes learning so much faster and more fun. She, actually I should say 'we', never tire of the game especially on a nice Autumn morning!





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Monday, November 1, 2010

Better Pictures

With Autumn in full swing, Halloween just gone by, Thanksgiving around the bend and Christmas coming up shortly thereafter, Astrid and I are in 'full picture mode'.  Who can ever have too many pictures of their dog, anyway? Two problems, though. Astrid is a big black dog and she's a great little poser. Action pictures are few and far between and her sweet face always looks like a blur of black. Those beautiful eyes of hers always blend right into her face in the pictures! So, I decided to turn to the internet this morning for some answers. I got really specific on this one....into the search box, I typed "how to take better pictures of my big, black dog". Can't get more specific than that. Can't get more specific than the #1 site that came up, either....How To Photograph Your Big Black Dog. Full of beautiful pictures and lots of good ideas, we've decided to give it a go. We are going to try all of the suggestions in this blog that we are able to accomplish with our iPhone camera applications and/or our still shot feature on our video camera. 


First, he recommends that we don't worry about expensive equipment so much. That part is easy as we don't have a real camera, only our iPhone camera and a video camera that will do still shots. That out of the way, we moved on to the suggestion of turning on the flash, even out of doors on a sunny day. Here, we have for you the results.


Picture #1 and #2 were taken with our iPhone and the application called Camera Plus as are the other pictures shown. While I am a morning person, maybe pointing the camera east at 9am is not a good idea. These pictures were very washed out. Too bad because Astrid automatically sits and poses for pictures, so getting ones of her standing would have been a very good thing.



















Picture #3 is still washed out, but I'm discovering that if I am going to take pictures at 9am facing east, getting closer is better. 


Picture #4 is of Astrid having gone into 'pose' mode finally. The lesson learned in this last picture is that facing east at 9am with the flash on will defintely produce a washed out picture, but still, closer is always better. The one real improvement is that Astrid's beautiful eyes can be seen in all of these pictures. 


Later this week, I'm going to continue to follow the suggestions in this blog. We will still be a morning human/dog team but we think that turning on the flash will continue to produce better results. What we will work on is our positioning. Maybe we will face west next time. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Halloween Give Away!



It's that time of year. The time when we wish it would cool down a little! Maybe if we just think cool thoughts it will help. It can't still be hot on Halloween, can it? Let's think Halloween coolness and win a cool Halloween bandana from the Astrid Nicole Etcetera bandana boutique at the same time. It's simple...guess the number of beads in the little glass dish and post your answer here as a comment. Be sure to put a name that would identify you as the winner in your answer! The winner will receive their choice of a Halloween bandana or collar from Astrid's Etsy or ArtFire shop. Winner will be announced in this blog and on My Dog Space in the 'Autumn Dogs, Halloween Fun' group on Wednesday, September 29th.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hoof'n and Woof'n Fall Festival

Today my mom and dad took me to this Fall festival. Boy oh boy, I'll bark ya, when I first got there, I didn't where to look!

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We started to walk around and there were tents, dogs, horses and even swimming pools everywhere.

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There were even ponies...

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There were dogs selling stuff...

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and dogs that needed homes.

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I just had so much fun! We even got this goodie bag full of dog stuff that my dad is carrying. Before we left to come home, I barked goodbye to the horses.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Times They Are A Changin'


Not quite as dire as the message in the Bob Dylan song of 1964, the message of change is already in the air. Even here in North Carolina, the morning air...much to Astrid's and my delight during our 6am walk...is much cooler. The shadows from the trees are in different locations then at the height of summer. That noise we hear at the slightest breeze is the sound of leaves already beginning to dry out in preparation for their Autumn show of color. Much to the delight of Moms everywhere, the kids are slowly trickling back to school across the country and much to the ire of morning commuters, the school buses have hit the road again.


There is also a change happening at Astrid Nicole Etcetera, Astrid's Etsy shop that benefits her shelter. In addition to the bandanas and the occasional 'people' items that we've offered, we are adding pretty handcrafted collars and collar charms. Beginning with the upcoming Halloween offerings, you will find seasonal fabric collars and matching collar charms, plus pretty and stylish colors with matching charms for your dog to wear throughout the entire year.


Pictured here are the very first of these collars and charms and to introduce them in our shop, we are offering them as prizes in our end of Summer giveaway. We've been enjoying the Groovy Summer Fun Club all summer on My Dog Space, so in honor of the fun, we've got a dotted collar with peace charm that your dog will go ape over as the first prize. The second place winner will receive the pictured 'peace out' collar charm and third place will receive the really cool dog paw charm. To enter to win, leave a comment on this blog telling us the change that you and your dog are most looking forward to in the changing seasons.


Thanks for playing our end of Summer giveaway, which in this case is really a new beginning for an added line of fun neckware for your dog to get all 'decked out' in. Everyone who leaves a comment will have their name entered in a drawing which Astrid will preside over and be presented in video right here. We will announce the winner of our end of Summer giveaway in this same blog the day after the unofficial end of Summer, Labor Day, Tuesday, September 7.


****and the winners are...***


Friday, July 16, 2010

Christmas In July Giveaway Giveaway Giveaway!


Simply guess the number of red, green and white beads in this cup (hint: the cup is a large one), leave your answer as a comment in this blog, and win! 1st prize is this adorable 'My Dog Is An Angel' bracelet. 2nd prize is the angel charm and 3rd prize is the paw print charm. 


The bracelet is strung on elastic and fits an average size adult wrist. The charms can be clipped off the key ring and used on a purse, clipped on your dog's collar or anywhere!


Contest starts today, Friday (7/16/2010) and ends Sunday evening (7/18/2010) and Astrid and I will announce the winner here in this blog on Monday (7/19/2010).


We appreciate your continued support of our Astrid Nicole Etcetera Etsy store which benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ with 100% net of each sale. 


We have our winners of our FIRST EVER Christmas in July giveaway! The "My Dog Is An Angel" bracelet goes to....Holly and Herbie! Congratulations, you were only 2 beads away at guessing 231. Angel Girl, Jessie Lou and Sasha Louise, you win the Angel Charm Key Ring...you were only off by 17 beads. Rosie...you get the Paw Print Charm Key Ring...you were off by just 23 beads. Thanks for playing everyone! We enjoy these games soooo much and hope you do too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Playing Indoor Games

As we in Charlotte, North Carolina experience the 18th day of temperatures in the 90s, Astrid and I turn more and more to indoor games. We try to divide them up between what we call 'active' games like hiding treats and letting Astrid use her sniffer to find them, to the more passive, 'thinking' games like the one shown here, colors and shapes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last Sunday's Visit

Following each visitation, we follow up with a blog on the Pet Therapy in the Carolina's  website. This was today's (6/23/10) entry.


Astrid was really on her game last Sunday (6/20) at Pineville Living and Rehabilitation center. The reason for this was, if there is one thing Astrid likes better than visiting, it's visiting when there are other dogs there too. Pineville never disappoints! Karen and her greyhounds along with Ellie Mae made for a really fun visit.


Each venue has it's plus side, and we think the plus side to the Pineville center is that there are always so many people in the hallway to visit with as we make our way from room to room. It's hard to find places in the summer's heat to take Astrid out to for a little socialization. Roaming the cool hallways this past Sunday at Pineville was a good break for all three of us from just staying home.


This picture is from a previous week, when was taking a break outside a residents room at the Alzheimer's center, the Laurels. This particular building is home to individuals in various stages of the disease known as Alzheimer's. Each resident personalizes the entrance to their own room.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Therapy Dog Visit


Astrid has been a registered Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc. for about a year and a half. Today, we had a wonderful visit at the Pineville Living and Rehabilitation Center. Astrid was joined by three Greyhounds, all former racers that were rescued upon their retirement, plus a wonderful hound named Ellie Mae. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Play Your Way Through!



Whether we've adopted an older dog or selected a puppy, the daily neighborhood walk can either be a much looked forward to event or a real hassle if your dog is reactive to other dogs or humans. Astrid can be reactive (le gasp! who knew?) to a certain, very few dogs in the neighborhood, so I've tried just about every solution I could find on the 'net. Nothing works as well as the idea of 'playing our way through' difficult situations.




Playing our way through means that Astrid is focused on me and only me no matter what the distraction. Of course, we never could attempt this play if I wasn't able to get her undivided attention, so when beginning to train, the first step was to get her to focus on me when asked. The best way I found to teach this was, while holding a treat straight out to the side, calling her name and clicking and treating everytime she focused on me, looking away from the treat. If I hadn't decided on clicker training, I could have just used a "good girl" each time we had success with her focusing on me.


Getting Astrid's attention was half the battle. To apply the 'play my way' through difficult circumstances principle, I had to have some fun activities for Astrid to do after getting her attention. One of our favorites turned out to be the step game. Astrid loves the step game and we do it often and use it when passing a dog Astrid may be reactive to or simply as a way to make our walks more interesting. Basically, from a stop/sit position, I'll say 'let's take three steps'. Walking our three steps, Astrid is told to sit. In an upbeat voice, I'll say 'let's take two steps'....we do, and again Astrid will sit. Then we'll do just one giant step followed by another sit. This is great fun for Astrid, is interactive for both of us and further cements my bond with her. You'll notice in the accompanying video, that Astrid returns her focus to me after each 'segment' of the game.


Playing our way through things is a lot more fun then the tougher, stress filled ways I formerly dealt with difficult problems that arose.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ready For the Patriotic Holidays

As we get deeper into the summer's patriotic holiday season, please remember that this can be a stressful time for dogs. Fireworks and flashing lights can be very scary. Please keep your pet safely indoors and away from the sounds of celebration!

These three, all ready for the holidays ahead, are enjoying a summer's day in their 'Peace' bandanas from the Etsy shop Astrid Nicole Etcetera where 100% of the net sale benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Walking On The Wild Side


The usually mild mannered Etsy shop Astrid Nicole Etcetera decided to take a trip down the wild side recently! Pictured here is the famous Justice the Dalmatian, modeling his bandana so aptly named 'On The Wild Side'. Thanks Justice, you are a fabulous model and we wouldn't be suprised if we didn't see your name coming up soon in Doggie Wear Daily!

100% of the net sale from every item in our Etsy shop benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society, Nogales, AZ.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

We aren't new to our Etsy shop giveaways, but we are new to giveaways involving our blogs. All fans of AstridNicoleEtcetera on Facebook and all members of the group "Lucky Pups" My Dog Space are invited to play...and WIN this weeks (3/2 - 3/6/10) contest! Contest ends at midnight Friday 3/5, and the winner will be announced Saturday, 3/6/10.

First, the good stuff, the prize. This weeks prize is this 'what knot' bag that will have a few surprise goodies in it. What's a 'what knot' bag? It makes a great gift bag or a cool way to store all those loose 'what knots' we don't know what to do with.

So how do you win this cool prize, you ask? It's a word jumble and it's easy and you can get up to three chances to win while you are right on this page. Here's the instructions:

WAY TO WIN #1: Look through this blog and find the green letters. See, you just got three! Told you it was easy. There will be 8 letters in all, so you only have 5 more to find now. When you figure the word out, don't give it away by posting it here...email me astridnicoleetcetera@mac.com .

WAY TO WIN #2: While you are here anyway, make a comment on this blogs.

WAY TO WIN #3: Take one more second, and become a follower of this blog. Then, you will be updated when we have more of these way cool giveaways coming up!

Your name will be written on a piece of paper each time you do one of the above, so that will be up to three papers = three chances to win that will be put into a bowl. On Saturday, I will have a short video of Astrid and I selecting the lucky winner from the bowl and that lucky winner will be announced via the video that will be posted right here in this blog.

Easy, huh? Thank you so much for playing our game.

March 6th update: WE HAVE A WINNER! Watch the video to find out who it isl

Friday, February 26, 2010

Subtle Changes


It's still very cold out these mornings, but Astrid and I have noticed sure signs of Spring being on it's way. Even though for many parts of the country, it seems as if Old Man Winter refuses to loosen his icy grip, nothing is stopping the axis of the earth from leaning our hemisphere closer and closer to the sun, inevitably returning us to warmer days. Today, we stopped for just a moment, noticing how the shadows from our fence are changing position and getting longer as the sun changes position. We know they are there, but seldom do we give much thought to the physical changes that are going on in the universe, every moment of every day, taking us through the natural cycle of the seasons.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kitties In Their Valentine Pretties

At the Astrid Nicole Etcetera bandana boutique, kitties are never left out. Here you see Miss Kitty...







and Mr Kitty modeling their Valentine finery.



Many of the designs at our Etsy shop are available in sizes small enough for the littlest kitty. As always, 100% of the net sale benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ where Astrid made her home before coming to live with us in her forever home on December 28, 2006.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wishing Everyone a Very Fun Valentine's Day!






This picture of Astrid was taken last week at our therapy pet visit to the Alzheimer's Centers. Therapy pets isn't just about dogs. Any well behaved pet can have a beneficial influence on those confined to hospitals, Alzheimer's centers, living centers, schools....the possibilities are endless. Maybe therapy pet work is right for you and your pet? There are many organizations to get involved with. We have been tested and registered by Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Astrid's bandana is from our online Etsy bandana boutique, Astrid Nicole Etcetera. 100% of all net sales benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ. Astrid made her home at this shelter until joining us in her 'forever home' on December 28, 2006.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Rare Snowfall In North Carolina

videoAstrid isn't quite sure she likes this as she explores with only the
sound of the birds keeping her company.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Astrid Demonstrates Recall and Focus Abilities

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This video has a three second delay between frames. Catch the funny face towards the end!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Love Is All Around You




Feel the love! These three can. Tucker, Sasha and Sugar, our three favorite models at our Astrid Nicole Etcetera Etsy shop are celebrating Valentine's this year 'retro' style. Love, love, love...dogs can never get enough. That's why 100% of the net sale from each and every item sold in our Etsy shop benefits the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ.

Last year, Tucker, Sasha and Sugar chose a more 'traditional' look.

Your true love may be as near as your local shelter! Visit a shelter this Valentine's and spread a little love with a donation. If you are looking for a companion dog, check and see if maybe your new best friend is there waiting for you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our Virtual Arts and Crafts Portfolio

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Please visit our Etsy shop, Astrid Nicole Etcetera, where 100% of the net sale benefits the animals at Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ. You can learn more about the shelter and see the pets they have available for adoption by visiting www.santacruzhumanesociety.org .