Arie and I are back home visiting my family in the land of the South. My parents live in a rural area on a fair amount of acreage that used to be my grandfather's dairy farm; it's perfect for Arie, as the White German Shepherd in her desperately needs a good free range run, and there is nothing like an open field to let her go. She loves running her heart out, playing catch and fetch, and sniffing all of the nature-smells that she gets here and not-so-much when we're home in our much more urban setting of Atlanta.
After running out some of that pent up energy from the car ride, she was kind enough to pose for a few photos. Here she is getting in touch with her inner famous German Shepherd, and giving me her best Rin-Tin-Tin:
Coming home is always a great experience for me. If you've spent any of your childhood on a farm, dairy, ranch, etc, you may be having a few of the same sentiments that I do: You can build a new life wherever you move to, but if you're from an agricultural family, you'll probably always feel a little tug at your heartstrings when you revisit the family land or just the country in general. My love of animals and nature started at my parents home, and when I go back there I can't help but feel like I'm back in touch with my roots. I love how happy Arie gets as well--Once again: New smells + lots of space = ecstatic white shepherd.
As much as she would like to be, however, our beloved Arie is not the star of the holidays. This little diva, Vanna, is my grandparents' Pomeranian. She is spoiled rotten, and an epic attention hog when family visits:
These are the dogs of my Thanksgiving break, minus my parent's little dachsund, who happens to be quite camera shy. It's great to have the family together, from those on two legs to those on four. Today, I'm thankful for every single one of them, as without them, I wouldn't be the person I am today, and vice versa. After a day full of turkey, family, memories, and fun, I know this is a bit more of a personal post, without much pet-loving-information for you, but it just seems right.
How was your Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for this year?
I want to start this post off by saying that the holidays are not all about gifts. Holidays are about spending time with the people you care about, whether their family, friends, or the voices in your head, and about taking some time to sit back and reflect on life, appreciating all of the little things (like Caramel Brulée Lattes at Starbucks and Arie's big brown eyes as they stand out against her white fur). Still, part of celebrating the holidays is by showing the people we love how much we care about them by giving them something they value: a gift.
This year brings an interesting light on holiday giving: Arie and I are moving into a new apartment in January (more on that pursuit later), but the cost of moving basically absorbs our holiday gift budget--and then some. To celebrate our frugal holiday season, we're going to go over two gift lists for pet owners and the pets they love: The oh-my-goodness-I-can't-believe-you're-this-AWESOME list, and the holy-moses-who-knew-something-this-affordable-could-be-so-AWESOME list.
What items would be on your holiday lists this year? (For a few ideas, check out the post that inspired this one on our friend's blog, Life With Claire) On one, share your absolute dream gifts, whether they're just a special chew toy or a house with great pet capabilities. On the other, share the little things in life that are free or VERY affordable and why they're such great gifts for your pet or pet-loving people.
We'll be covering each list this week, so stay tuned to the blog to see what they contain. For those of you who met us at the Dog Dash 5K or the Atlanta Pet Expo, we'll be sharing our coverage of those events this week as well.
If you follow Life with Arie on Twitter (@masdemoore) or on Facebook, chances are you saw our exciting announcement that we would be telling you about our giveaway on the blog...yesterday. We're finally able to tell you about the giveaway today!
Yesterday's delay was the result of a very awkward turn of events. After heading to her crate for some nightly shut eye, Arie decided she wanted to get my attention by scratching at her crate door. Somehow, she managed to get two of her paw pads through one slot in the door of her crate and was stuck. After a few minutes of both of us screaming, I got her paw loose and she was fine--besides having peed herself from fear, poor thing.
Needless to say, we all have awkward situations that arise in our life, like your dog somehow managing to get her paw stuck in a door. Sometimes, these awkward situations are captured by a camera--and in still other situations, we've actually posed for them.
Enter the awkward family photo. My parents' hallway is lined with fine examples of these, from a photo of my sister, mother, and I wearing matching dresses and huge 80's bows to family photos where one member of the family isn't ready, either starring daggers at someone else or still fixing their hair. The hilarious and well known book, Awkward Family Photos, became an over-night Internet sensation for compiling these awkward moments. Now, the authors are back with a sequel: Awkward Family Pet Photos.
I've had the privilege of reading this book, and I must say, it now stays in my cubicle at work for occasional relief from the mundane and as an escape into the hilarious misfortune of other people's awkward memories. Pet lovers and owners will have a special love for this book as they can relate and understand the situations these pets and the people who love get into in front of a camera.
Want to read this great book for yourself? I'll be giving it away to one lucky reader. Here's how to win:
When I first started learning about the White German Shepherd Dog breed, a friend of mine who had two told me that they're funny dogs to have because very superstitious people shy away from them. When asked why, she told me "White dogs are how hellhounds are described in legends, so people associate them with hell and death."
It's good knowing that your dog is associated with the warm and fuzzies, right?
With Halloween tomorrow (do we have photos in costumes? Why yes, we do), this idea and superstition came back to mind. I've scoured the internet looking for such a tale, but have yet to find that specific one. Still, I have found a lot of superstitions surrounding dogs in general. Here are a few for you to enjoy:
Yes, you read that correctly. Dogs and Zombies. Feel free to abort reading this blog now, but I promise you your imagination will be plaguing you with questions all day long, so it would be much easier to just read this.
Halloween, or "Howloween" for those of you who enjoy altering spelling to fit our subject matter, has been on my brain lately. I love this holiday, but particularly the fun, non scary parts of it, like candy and Hocus Pocus. My boyfriend, however, is a HUGE fan of scary movies. We eventually found a series we can both enjoy, Resident Evil, one that I can, for some reason, watch without nightmares. These movie have spawned numerous conversations about a possibly zombie apocalypse, between Randy and I and my coworkers and I at work. My question now is, what happens to our canine companions when the world devolves into a bunch of flesh eating brain dead beings?
Several theories have been given to us by movies:
What do you think would happen to dogs in a Zombie apocalypse? Diana Sherman contemplates this and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of dogs, seeing eye dogs in particular, in such an event. What do you think would happen?
Weigh in with your ideas on dogs and zombies, and stay tuned for more Halloween centered posts this week. They'll be just the thing to get in the spirit for Halloween.
On Life with Arie, I'm going to start featuring guest bloggers to talk about their pets. I am proud to feature one of my friends from college, Sarah Gray, as my first guest blogger in her post entitled "Trying Green Eggs and Ham".
Enter my husband, Steve, and his near obsession with the Komondor breed. After I introduced him to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, things were never quite the same in my house. Steve began to research Komondorok (the correct plural form) almost compulsively. Though I had seen the white, dreadlock-sporting monsters many times on the TV, I’d never been particularly interested in the breed. Steve, however, was quick to broaden my understanding of the giant dogs beyond the quippy description given on the televised dog shows.
This Hungarian dog was bred to guard sheep. Great hon, are we going to be starting a flock in our ½ acre suburban backyard? The hair mats naturally, and the mats are then ripped into cords by the owner. That doesn’t sound time consuming at all. The males weigh anywhere from 115 to 135 pounds. Are we getting a bigger house? They are wary of strangers but faithful to and gentle with even the smallest members of their families. We’re never having company again, are we?
Despite my skepticism, we started attending local dog shows and talking to breeders. By some colossal coincidence, there was actually a Komondor breeder nearby, something that was about as likely as being struck by lightning, twice. We even made a pilgrimage to a breeder’s home to meet several of her dogs in their home environment. She warned that they needed to time to accept visitors, so they may not be overly friendly. Of course, every one we met was an absolute charmer. By the time we left, even I was feeling less ambivalent toward those mountains of white with their friendly, twitching noses. Higgins, in particular, felt that as ambassador for the breed, he must lie across my feet and go to sleep. I’m not made of stone, people.
Fast-forward to today and meet Sam (registered name: Ibis Green Eggs and Ham), our Komondor puppy. Do not be fooled by the term “puppy,” however. Sam is an 80+ pound, nine-month-old with energy (and love) to spare. He’s big, and he’s clumsy, and he drags in every bit of dirt and debris he can from outside. He drinks his water with all the grace of a pig at trough and then proceeds to put his wet, hairy mug directly into your lap. We love him.
Training Sam has been challenging to say the least. We attended puppy kindergarten with him and have worked with him daily on obedience. Komondorok are bred to guard sheep without the constant presence of humans, so they are independent thinkers (read: stubborn and hard to train.) His behavior remains a work in progress, though we are blessed with a naturally affectionate and mostly submissive dog. Of course, he has his moments, as he did the other night when he sat on my best friend’s head.
He has his shining moments, though. In July, he participated in his very first dog show. While we do not plan to show him ourselves, because of our arrangement with the breeder, she has the option to show him if she chooses. Because a minimum number of a specific breed must be entered into a dog show for the wins to “count,” Sam was entered into the Greenville Dog Show as a sort of “filler” dog. He behaved beautifully and acted as if he knew what he was doing. He even won two ribbons – don’t get too excited, they don’t count toward any points or anything – and overall, it was a fun experience.
Now that his moment of celebrity has passed, he’s back to lounging about and destroying things in turn. Our remaining cat, Abby (we lost Hobbes to cancer and congestive heart failure) hates Sam with a flaming heat, and he thinks she is a striped, furry playtoy. We have a daughter, Lucy Addison, who at 20 months old has become completely oblivious to the size and power of our oversized dog. When he trespasses into her space, she merely waves a hand and says, “Oh, Puppy.”
As for me, I’m still not sure you could call me a dog person. Sometimes Sam’s affection is just a little too available for my taste. Nevertheless, I can’t resist his black, wet nose or his man-sized, huggable head. Taking him out in public remains a feat, as we are constantly stopped and asked to explain the monster on the end of the leash. I really don’t mind the questions, and I answer them patiently, for the most part. Just don’t ask if we have a saddle for him. We’ve heard that joke already. A lot.
Leave your comments here for me or Sarah, and visit Sarah's blog, "Wife, Student, Crazy Person," for more of her fabulous writing.
Remember this post? It has been almost a month since I started my series on pet food. With all of the blog changes, from getting our own URL to working on a new blog design (Don't worry, we're not done yet!) I bet you thought I'd forgotten about talking to you about pet food. I'm still here, and I'm still ready to tell you more about your food selection.
So far, we've talked about what to think about when selecting your food. After you've narrowed down your selection to your food choice, it's time to start your dog on their new food.
Do not pour that bag of dog food goodness into your pet's bowl just yet. Your puppy's sensitive tummy needs a few TLC precautions as you switch their diet.There are a few steps to the process:
To complete my series on choosing your dog food, look for my final post in this three part plan to read about why I chose Nutro Natural Choice as my dog food, and how it's working out. What is your dog eating?
Advertisement is all about reaching your target audience. You use images, personas, celebrities, sounds, even colors to reach the target demographic that you think will buy your product, or that hasn't been buying your product already.
Nestlé has started targeting a new audience with some of their commercials...a demographic others haven't tried to target through commercials before: Dogs.
Nestlé is "the world’s largest food and drink producer, [and] a no-nonsense selling machine when it comes to pet food, owning the world’s biggest franchise with annual sales of nearly CHF10 billion." It's only natural that they would begin to push the boundaries of advertising and start targeting their four legged audience.
So how does one target a canine through a commercial? Background sounds, like the sound of a squeaky toy, get your dog's attention. There are even some sounds that are not within the human range of hearing, and target canines alone.That, along with visual interest, like ingredients falling across the screen, will target two of their most sensitive of senses.
Each of these cues should help prompt your pet to show signs of excitement and happiness, getting them to perk up their ears and wag their tails. Some say that this is crossing the line, while others enjoy the fact that TV is now made somewhat specifically for their dog.
To see the provocative commercial, hit play below:
What do you think about advertisers targeting your pet? Do you think that it crosses a line in the sand, or that it's just the new horizon?
Fall is my favorite season (you got a whiff of this love in this post). Beyond being completely pumpkin obsessed, I love the activities of fall. There are festivals galore, and so much to be enjoyed. One such festival that we were able to attend this year was Chattapoochie, a festival for pets and their parents in Duluth, GA, not far from where we live.
The Chattapoochie Pet Fest, presented by the Duluth Historical Society, featured many vendors from around the area, and of course, many dogs. The day started out with a blessing. Each pet parent present said a blessing over their dog and then tied a ribbon around their collar to commemorate it. We were only able to take Shady to the fair, so we blessed him.
After that, there was a costume contest. We had taken Shady in his costume gear (We usually only put on this hat and collar long enough for a picture), but his pumpkin cuteness couldn't stand up to the more elaborate costumes.
Shady looked adorable as a pumpkin. I mean, who could resist that face? Other dogs, however, went all out on their costumes, like this mastiff:
While walking around to see all of the vendors, we ran across several groups that were wonderful to meet. Donna from Deceased Pet Care was an absolute pleasure and offered up interesting and helpful ideas on how to deal with the trying time of losing a beloved pet. The German Shepherd Dog Rescue Group of Georgia was also present. I've been keeping up with their updates on Max, a standard black and tan shepherd that was on death's door when they got him. I'm proud to say that he is doing much better.
While walking around the festival we ran into two White German Shepherd Dogs. TWO! I hardly ever get to run into one, let alone two in the same place. Meet Taj, a male White German Shepherd that was over 100 lbs. He and his owner were kind enough to pose in front of the Chattapoochie poster:
The other White Shepherd, I hate to say that we didn't catch her name, was slightly smaller and had a little more blond to her color.
After a few hours out with the pup, Shady was ready to head back home. We really enjoyed Chattapoochie and hope to return again next year.
What was the last great pet festival you went to? Tell me about it in a comment!
10. The promise of the next day after the first day of the conference, and the promise of a new network of colleagues, friends, and next year to look forward to after the second. There's nothing like leaving a conference excited to come back for the next day, or the next year.
For those of you, who like me, are all about juicy blogs teaming with information, you might be saying "All of those sessions, and NO details? Are you kidding me?" I could have written you a novel, but I would have had to write a few to tell you about what all I learned. Instead, look for references to Bark World sessions and speakers in my future blogs. I guess you'll just have to keep reading. :)
For those of you who attended Bark World, what's your top ten? Share your top five in a comment, and then continue on your blog! For those of you who didn't get to go, do you think you're interested in next year's conference?