Friday, December 30, 2011

Graying With Grace

Tomorrow is the last day of 2011. One of the things that means is before all of us see the last day of 2012, we will be a year older. If we are in the second half of our lives, we may be discovering some gray hair, stiff joints or other age related characteristic. Here's Astrid, peering out of her big brown eyes through rings of gray. Astrid just turned approximately age 7 a couple of days ago. She's aging gracefully, aging well. And how is Astrid's mom doing? I'm aging with gratitude that I have Astrid.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fashion Paws...Yule Is Cool

It's official! What we have known for a long time has recently been confirmed by a reliable fashion source. This holiday season, Christmas fashion is 'in'. So pet moms and pet dads, pet sisters and brothers...get out your Christmas and other holiday fashions. Dogs have always known when it comes to fashion, Yule Is Cool! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fashion Paws...Oh, The Parties!


Even being homeless didn't stop this little reveler from enjoying the party! A Christmas open house at Carolina's Veterinary Hospital last weekend gave him a chance to strut his holiday finery. He is being fostered by the facility while he awaits his forever home.


A perfect host, big or small he greeted them all.







The gala event featured the big man in red with Miss Astrid not missing the opportunity to pose.





Rounding out the day with a stop at her fave cookie bar, we found even the plastic dogs in glittering attire!





After relaxing outside of Caribou Coffee with her mom and dad enjoying an espresso while she ate her cookie, she took one more opportunity for a photo in her Christmas finery.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stand Up For Senior Pets...Take The Pledge

Today may be the last day of November which is Adopt A Senior Pet month, but it should not be the last day that we stand up for senior pets. For various reasons ranging from the economy to the death of the pet parent, senior dogs sit in shelters across the country. They wait for their second chance to be loved and to give love. Let's not forget them. Take the pledge today, but in your heart make it a pledge to keep the promise of a home for senior pets alive every month and to mention them often in your Facebook and Twitter posts and other opportunities. 


Pictured here is Fred. He is an adult dog waiting at the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fashion Paws...Go Big, Go Bold

As has become tradition on Thanksgiving Day after her mom and dad have had their dinner, Astrid visits the local Starbucks. To be more accurate, she enjoys a few moments outside the coffeehouse near the bench while her mom and dad enjoy one of their Christmas coffees. Then she enjoys a fun stroll around the shopping plaza, looking at the decorations and people watching at the few shops that have opened their doors for business. Striking a pose in front of the plaza's Christmas tree, Astrid drew several comments such as "oh my, what a cute dog" and "I love your scarf!" Her fashion advice for this season is go big, go bold. Dressing up might be work, but it's worth it when the 'AWWWwwwww'(s) come your way.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dogs Can Get Diabetes Too

November is the month to join in the campaign to raise awareness for and help stop diabetes. Whether you know someone who has the disease or you are interested in helping you and your family avoid getting it, the American Diabetes Association website is a valuable resource. A member of our family that we don't often associate with diabetes but is as vulnerable is our dogs. The website A Dog Owner's Guide lists the causes, symptoms and lots of ideas to help keep your dog from developing diabetes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Suddenly Senior

Look who has turned all 'senior' on us! Or maybe not. Astrid should be in the neighborhood of being 7 years old. She came to live with us in 2006 at the approximate age of two. Being a large mixed up breed, some put her into her senior years around 7 to 9 years. This is 'Adopt A Senior Pet' month. Astrid...she's mine but the shelters are full of senior dogs that would make perfect pets. There's lots of good reasons to pick a senior dog....here's 10

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fashion Paws...BIG is Beautiful

When it comes to dogs, big is beautiful. Sure, all the cute clothes only come in tiny sizes but being big has it's advantages too. Go to any fabric store and you will see why. The most eye catching and colorful fabrics have large patterns! In this picture, Astrid makes it obvious. The bigger you are the more you can show off dazzling patterns and colors. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

5 Fun Things You Can Do For FREE To Help Shelter Dogs

1) Play 'Pet Trivia'. Purina will donate 25c to adopt-a-pet.com for each right answer.

2) Play ' let's pretend' with 'Twitter A Critter'. Pretend you are picking out a new dog. Pick size, color, etc. Click on fetch. Up will come a multitude of dogs to choose from. First, reassure the three dogs sitting next to you that this has nothing to do with them. Next, pick your favorite dog on the screen. Don't fret over your choice because you can come back and do this over and over again all day. Twittering a critter will bring to the attention of thousands dogs that are waiting for their forever homes. A Twitter account is required, but you've been meaning to start one for your own dogs anyway, right?

3) Answer the daily trivia question (right or wrong!) at Free Kibble's 'Bow Wow Trivia' and 10 pieces of kibble will go to feed a hungry pet in a shelter. 10 pieces won't go far, you say? Over 64 million pieces of kibble have been donated so far…that's a lot of kibble.

4) Put a free downloadable widget on your website from Petfinder. The picture of a needy pet will change constantly and bring the clickee directly to the Petfinder page.

5) Help kids find ways they can promote kindness to animals.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fashion Paws...Focus on Color

This week's fashion paws has us celebrating the colors of the season and seasons to come. It all starts with the bright oranges of Halloween and whoosh...the flood of colors starts with the reds, greens, browns and all the others associated with Thanksgiving and the holidays to come. Like no other time of the year, the photographer in all of us comes out, preserving our joy and memories awash with color. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Senior Pets Are Special

November is 'Adopt A Senior Pet' month! There are so many good reasons to adopt a senior pet...here are ten that relate to senior dogs. My favorite is number 7....what you see is what you get. On this site, you will also find several resources for locating a senior companion plus information about those participating in a 'seniors for seniors' program. What could be more perfect than a senior individual providing a home for a senior canine? 


No matter the age of the dog you choose from a shelter, you'll want the best 'rehoming' situation possible. There are articles on all aspects of introducing that new dog into your household on Petfinder.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Nice To Be Handpicked


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dogs of Summer

Earlier this Summer, Astrid and I began playing the 'Dogs of Summer' game. For every dog she passed while out on our 6am walk without making 'much ado' over them, she got 10 points. In part, this was done in training for a Rally Obedience class that I knew we would be starting this Fall, and part of it was just for fun. This is a serious class meant for people and their dogs that are considering entering into Rally Obedience trials. A dog in a Rally O trial or even in a class really shouldn't be showing extreme interest in other dogs...they should be concentrating on themselves and their own tasks. So...the Dogs of Summer game was born and with it high stakes. Upon reaching 500 points, Astrid and me along with her dad will go out for dinner. A little while ago, North Carolina passed the law that well behaved dogs would be allowed on outdoor patios to dine providing they were welcome by the restaurant owners. Today, we passed our 50th dog of our Summer game without making 'much ado'. Now our next decision is where to go to dinner. The top picture shows what Miss Astrid has in mind...the bottom picture is more what Astrid's mom has in mind. Games like this give us both incentive to make life a game and to always play to win.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Dog For All Ages

Many older people think they can't have a dog because they can't take them for the five mile walks they've heard that they need. Or from younger days, they remember all the time and energy that their puppy and adult dog took. They'd like a canine companion, but they think they are eliminated because of their age. This just isn't true. There are many dogs sitting in shelters all across the country that need just the type of home an older adult can provide. Just like dogs, no two older individuals experience life exactly the same. The key is to find the dog that fits one's personal lifestyle.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back To School

Astrid just signed up for a Rally Obedience class. She doesn't know it yet. We are going to take her out of 'school' every Tuesday beginning in the middle of September and attend the Rally O class on Monday nights at a local dog training club. She will go back to Doggie Day Camp when the classes end in November. Change is good. Learning old things with a new teacher is good. If Astrid were human, she'd probably have her MBA by now with all the classes and 'homework' she has done. This picture is from 2006. We had adopted her just two months prior. Maybe Astrid is an overachiever. Or maybe it's Astrid's mom who is the overachiever...Astrid just goes along for the fun of it all. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keeping Them Home


We love Ian Dunbar's dog training philosophy. It differs from the clicker training that we love so much, but the premise of positive reinforcement is still there. While teaching loose leash walking, he does advocate a sharp voice that let's the dog know that a particular behavior isn't acceptable, but the second the desirable behavior returns, so does the praise and softer, even human voice. Combining training methods never confused Astrid...I feel it only reinforced what I was teaching. Take the word sit. Look at your dog and say sit. Chances are, he/she will. Sit in a chair and say sit. What happened? Body language wasn't there, hand signals weren't there...all the little nuances might be gone. Using lots of different methods, combining methods, alternating between spoken commands and hand signals and sometimes using just body language  not only has expanded Astrid's abilities but the fun of training, too. Did I say we loved Ian Dunbar? Bet we aren't the only ones. There's lots and lots of free videos demonstrating his method of training at Dog Star Daily.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Easy Peasy

Often times I think that if I would make the time, Astrid would stay engaged in learning new things most of the hours of every day. I tend to get caught up in trying to encourage more difficult and complicated behaviors and tricks. When I see the fun and satisfaction she gets from a simple game of 'touch', it reminds me to sometimes scale things back and let her enjoy the gratification she gets from the easier games in life. One of her favorites is 'which hand is the treat in'. She's right 50% of the time...and even when she is wrong, she is right with her second guess.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Helpful Facilitation

"Helpful facilitation is much more powerful and helpful than domination" (from Simple Taoism...A guide to living in balance). When trying to teach Astrid new things, I would often talk loud and slow. Did I really think the louder I said 'sit' the better she would understand it? How many times when out and about do you see someone with their dog  keep repeating the same command over and over, getting louder and louder while the dog stands there with that bewildered look in their eyes? That's why I love clicker training and shaping behavior so much. It's easier on me...I don't get exhausted trying to exert my will over hers...and with this gentle facilitation, once she's 'got it', she's got it for life. 
video

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Kind Of Dog Is That?

If you have a dog, I'm sure you have been asked the perennial question 'what kind of dog is that'. Because of media backed bias against some breeds of dogs plus the fact that lots of people really don't know one breed of dog from another, I've become quite creative when asked that question. I've replied that Astrid is an all American dog, a carpenter dog...as in does all odd jobs (herding, pointing, retrieving, etc.) and my current favorite, a mixed up dog. I feel like a traitor to the Rottweiler breed, which Astrid may or may not be part of, much akin to someone asking me my heritage and my hesitating to tell them mostly Swedish with a sprinkling of Irish. I've also played the guessing game with people. I'll take a step back, look at Astrid thoughtfully and say 'what do you think she might be?' My all time favorite reply is 'she looks like a Beagle'.  My replay to that? You might be right! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

4th of July Parade




Every year, we take Astrid to the 4th of July parade in a neighboring tiny town. Always standing in the same spot, Astrid becomes a 'kid magnet'. These are the pictures from the parade this year and we appreciate the people in them allowing us to take them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

High Value Treats

Sometimes when training intensifies or Astrid and I are just playing lots more games than usual, I might notice just a wee bit of thickening around the waist. Stopping by Petsmart or even the vet's office for a quick weight check more often than not confirms that her weight may have ticked up to just over 61#. I try to keep her at 60# always and anything over a 1# weight game is noticeable to me. Without any reason to drop that extra pound quickly, we set a six month goal. Being a strong believer in clicker training and treating for perfect behavior, I turn to a high value treat that has fewer calories....roast light meat chicken (bottom) vs. that from thighs (top). It has fewer calories and fat and has Miss Astrid back to her svelte 60# without missing a goodie. 
video

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dog Days Of Summer

Dog Days...they roll around every year and every year we are surprised at how hot and humid they are. The place for everyone, including our dogs, is inside where it is cool. It's kind of hard to just watch our usually active pup just sleep away the days until the hot streak is over, though. One idea that is easy and cool in more ways than one is a time in the afternoon that we designate as story time. 


Astrid and I just happen to have a wonderful book that is filled lots of dog pictures and ideas to talk about with your dog.  Sounds kind of silly on the surface but when we think about it, what better thing to do on a hot lazy afternoon then giving your dog your undivided attention as you read aloud. Our dogs love to hear the sound of our voices...and reading a book together gives us both a reason to have a conversation.


Give it a try! You might feel silly the first couple of times, but soon both you and your dog will look forward to story time..


Dog Sense by Carla Geneder was our choice today. We read about Juliette, Maggie, and Benjie the silkie terrier. We may have enough dog stories and pictures to last us until Fall...or at least until the Dog Days Of Summer are over.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waiting Patiently

Hey...I'm a size large and made for a big dog. Astrid, the dog that owns this place (our ArtFire studio), is a big dog, but she says she has some patriotic stuff of her own already and would rather someone bought me so she could send the money to her former shelter. She says they don't have all that much down in Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, AZ where she orginally came from.

Astrid agreed to slip me on for a few minutes to show you what I look like. It felt so good to be around a warm and fuzzy canine neck! Guess I'm relegated, though, to sitting on the shelf until some dog notices me and barks 'oh yeah....I want those words FREEDOM, LIBERTY and JUSTICE around my neck as the patriotic holiday season approaches. 

Yes...I'm red, white and blue and will be waiting on the shelf if you want me. Not to be pushy or anything but there is only one of me left.  Oh, and if your dog isn't quite as big as I am? My little sibling...same collar, was  made for a smaller dog with a 12 to 14 inch neck... would be great.

Know what else would be great? If you 'liked' our page on Facebook. While Astrid's mom sells bandanas and collars raising money for Astrid's shelter shelter, that's not all we bark over there. We love training, and helping rescues get the world out about the kinds of things they are doing to help animals, as we share what is new in our Etsy shop and ArtFire Studio...and lots more.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fido's Manners Matter

That expression says it all! Miss Sugar Cookie has just read in the book Miss Fido Manners that she isn't supposed to bark out the window all the time. Your dog doesn't have to be a graduate of Miss Fido Manners school of charm to become a welcome member of the community.




Astrid is about to study her own copy of the book. She (and we!) know that learning a few 'meet and greet' skills for when she is out in public makes a big difference. Learning is a never ending fun experience.












Here, Astrid enjoys music on the patio of a very dog friendly Earth Fare store. We are lucky here in North Carolina. Restaurants with patios allow pets to dine along with their people, at the discretion of the restaurant owner of course. If the issue of dogs on patios ever comes up in your community, let your local officials know that a 'yes' vote is important to you and that you plan to vote in the next election.