The holidays are a special time for me every year; I reach a level of giddiness that's usually reserved for five-year-olds on their birthday. With everything going on in the world right now, my heart has been doing more hurting than celebrating, and I've lost some of the joy that usually surrounds Thanksgiving and Christmas for me. My mother and I were discussing this pain on the phone one day and she offered a suggestion: Go ahead and put up the Christmas tree.
"Mom, Thanksgiving isn't even here yet. I don't put up the tree before Thanksgiving. One holiday at a time."
"Just trust me. Put up the Christmas tree."
"Okay, okay, I'll try it."
Feeling a bit like a crazy person, I closed all of the blinds and windows so that my neighbors couldn't see the crazy lady getting her tree down a full week before Thanksgiving. I hauled the massive tree out of the attic, made space for it in the living room, put it up, and plugged it in. As per usual, mom was right.
There's something about the glow of twinkle lights that assures you that everything is going to be okay. There are very few things that have the same effect on me as the lights of Christmas tree, all of them touching on nostalgia or areas of comfort, like the smell of my grandmother's famous chocolate pie in the oven, or the sound of my dad singing in the kitchen in the morning when I visit for the holidays, the same song he's been singing since I was in diapers. While most of these are tied to my childhood memories, some are new comforts I've built in my adult life with Zack and our pets. As I unpacked the ornaments we have for our tree, I realized how many of them are tied to these comforting ideas for me. Each loved one has an ornament that symbolizes them, and special memories are immortalized there as well. Rather than have a picture-perfect coordinated tree, our tree is a hodgepodge of us, and that's something I love about it.
We adopted Fulton, our American English Coonhound, in April, and haven't gotten an ornament for him yet. Naturally, I went to Etsy to find one; he's a huge part of our life and our daily joy, so he needs a spot on the tree. I found so many amazing pet ornaments in the process that I had to share at least a few:
BrooksPeople felted dog ornament
BrooksPeople makes amazing hand-crafted felted dog ornaments that are made to order. I love the texture of these, and that you can find the breed that matches your pup, or just get an adorable dog for your tree (Trust us - We're the last people to judge if you just want a tree of adorable pet ornaments.)
You can find this Boston Terrier ornament, as well as BrooksPeople's other creations, on Etsy. Most ship in 3-5 days, arriving just in time for everyone putting their tree up at the socially accepted time. ;)
craftsbyAdrienne mixed media custom pet ornaments
When I saw the playful design of craftsbyAdrienne's custom pet ornaments, I couldn't help but giggle. These hand-made pet mini-me's are formed with "paper mache, acrylic paint, recycled cardboard, fishing line, [and] love." They usually take about a week to craft, still making it well in time to adorn your tree.
To get started, check out the ornament listing.
Kaz Foxsen pet ornaments
This is the perfect Etsy stop if you have pets other than cats and dogs, as the shop features designs for birds, ferrets, horses, and more. These wooden ornaments are perfect if you have cats or other creatures who may knock ornaments off the tree.
You can find this German Shepherd as well as countless other breeds and animal ornaments in the Kaz Foxsen Etsy shop or get a custom design of your pets.
SilhouettesbyLena breed-specific ornaments
If your tree is more glitz and glam than red and green, Silhouettes by Lena may have the perfect ornament for you.
These breed-specific (cat ornament available as well!) silhouettes with gold flecks add a nice touch of sparkle.
Lena offers 166 AKC dog breed designs, 3 cats and a horse option, so you're sure to find designs that fits your pet family.
Mooseberry Paper Co. ceramic ornaments
If your Christmas tree is about clean lines and design, these simple and elegant personalized pet ornaments from Mooseberry Paper Co. may be just what you need.
Find the ornament that fits your pet and customize with their name and information; be sure to hang these ceramic ornaments where your pets won't easily knock them down.
WeirdWeiland cross-stitched ornaments
We try to support small and local businesses as much as possible, especially with all of the amazing creations coming out of Atlanta. WeirdWeiland is no exception.
Cross-stitched accents in the home have been on trend lately, but these adorable ornaments can be enjoyed for years to come.
Keri, the artist behind WeirdWeiland, will custom-make and stitch your ornament to fit your cat, dog, or exotic pet based on pictures you send with your order.
While a Christmas tree decorated with adorable animals won't solve the world's problems, it can still be a small beacon of hope and joy in your home, and you can help make the season for an individual artist or craftsman when you add hand-crafted ornaments to your tree. We're still deciding which design to go with for Fulton's addition, but the idea of having our sweet boy have his own ornament is an excellent happy thought that helps me get me through the day.
Do twinkle lights have the same effect on you? Are your pets on your tree? Tell me about your holiday plans in the comments.
All photos are copyright and sourced from to the original artists.
I am all about my dog--I think that's pretty clear from the site you're currently on. While I love Arie, I don't own a lot of "German Shepherd Dog Enthusiast" gear--The t-shirts, the magnets, etc. While there are plenty of dog lovers who can pull off these accents, to be blunt, they seem out-dated and a little crazy cat lady to me, so I haven't purchased any.
That being said, I take total pride in my pup, and I do want to show it off. I love Etsy and their amazing handmade finds from around the country. Recently I scoured them for White German Shepherd themed items. Here are a few of the chic handmade items for pet parents that I've found and would love for my own home (hint hint...Christmas...cough cough...birthday...nudge nudge):
One of Todd Young's paintings. Image via Todd Young Art on Etsy.
Todd Young. This artist stole my heart when I found his works on Etsy. Hailing from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Young is a fantastic painter that puts favorite breeds in various landscapes, all from varying distances and I believe from viewing the dog from the back. I LOVE his paintings and prints--They range in price from $12 to in the hundreds. Check out the variety in his shop to see if your dog is in there somewhere. PS: He paints cats, too. Black ones included. (swoon)
German Shepherd Dog watercolor by Helen Pavlac. Photo via Helen on Etsy
Helen Pavlac is the animal lover behind Whiskered Paintings, an Etsy shop producing custom pet portraits and wildlife paintings. I love the appeal of watercolor as it offers a freedom to lines and shading, and Pavlac does an amazing job capturing the spirit of a German Shepherd Dog in this gorgeous painting. I love this style as it lends a modernity to dog portraits, and it's a little bold--It almost reminds me of the artistic touches in The Dark Knight batman movies.
White German Shepherd Magnets from Silly Dog Magnets by Brianna Brunsell
Quirky fridge magnets are a thing for me. A major thing. They remind me of my childhood and of my grandparents, as they always had a fun assortment on the fridge, as did my mom; these White German Shepherd Dog magnets may have to be my first set, and truly capture the oddities of Arie. Brianna Brunsell is the artist behind Silly Dog Magnets, an Etsy shop showing off her hand-drawn art in the form of magnet sets for a variety of breeds. Brianna works with her business partner on the artwork--her dachshund! Sets of six magnets are only $8.99.
German Shepherd Shirt by Michelle Frank/Wicked Moxie photo via Etsy
T-shirt? Check. Modern design? Check. White German Shepherd silhouette? AWESOME. I love this modern t-shirt showing love for White German Shepherds everywhere. I'm a t-shirt person on the weekends--They're my go-to item for cleaning, the gym, running, or when I wake up a few minutes too late to slap an outfit together. Michelle Frank from the Etsy shop Wicked Moxie is selling these babies for only $17.95. New wardrobe addition, here I come.
These are just a select few of the awesome items I found celebrating Arie's breed to the fullest, with a modern, chic touch. What are your favorite items celebrating your pets? Do you have any crazy-dog-lady gear? Show it off with a photo on our Facebook page or tell me about in a comment.
Arie is a big girl. We've been over this before, yes, but Arie's size is something that is always at the forefront of mind. As a larger White German Shepherd, Arie weighs in at 95 lbs (Note: Arie is not overweight, she's just a large shepherd--Her parents were 127 lbs and 97 lbs, so I knew what I was getting into.). To support her 95 lb frame and her big German Shepherd personality and exercise needs, she needs a lot of fuel. That translates into a lot of heavy bags of dog food.
Mr. Chewy, an amazing web-based pet food and pet product supplier, has recently been offering a fantastic deal to pet bloggers across the nation, including several friends of ours, and now us! Mr. Chewy offered me a no-strings attached $50 credit to use their site to order a few supplies for Arie and the dynamic duo, my cats. I was excited to try the service out as a few friends have used it and raved about it, so I took them up on their offer and ordered a few things. I strategically picked items to test aspects of shipping:
In this order I picked items for both cats and dogs. I picked a hefty bag of food and of litter, as well as fragile treats in the Zuke's, which are moist and easy to crush. This way, I could really put shipping care to the test. Placing my order was an extremely easy task; the only part that caused me difficulty was choosing the right items from amongst the amazing Mr. Chewy selection. My one issue here is that they do not carry any of the Nutro Grain Free line, the one that Arie eats, but they do carry the majority of the other products that we use, so it's not a huge deal--luckily we're close to several large pet supply stores for that, so no big deal. I completed my order on April 4, I believe later in the evening (As you can tell, this review is LONG overdue). My order was shipped the very next day on April 5 and arrived on my doorstep on April 7.
Everything in my package was perfect. There were no damaged items, everything had been packed with care, and everthing that I ordered was in the box with no mistakes. I was amazed at the fantastic service that was provided.
To sum everything up, let's go down the checklist, shall we?
I'm so glad that I tried Mr. Chewy, and I definitely can't wait to use them again. Right now, as regular readers now, my cats are having to live in South Carolina with family while search for house and live in an apartment. Mr. Chewy is an amazing way for me to be able to mail my parents the cat's supplies without a worry, so a major asset for me, especially in this current situation. If you'd like to use Mr. Chewy, head to their site today and order something for your pets. When you check out, enter the Life with Arie personal code, KATH144, to get 10% off of your first order. When you use this code, Mr. Chewy will also donate $10 to be split between Best Friends Animal Society, Bidawee, and the North Shore Animal League of America.
I know that some of you might be feeling a little anxious..."Who won the giveaway?! Just tell me already!"
I hate when giveaway hosts take forever to announce a winner, or don't do so at all...and then of course, after swearing I wouldn't be that guy, I became, well that guy-er-person.
Without further ado, I am pleased to announce that Amy Orvin is the winner of the Life with Arie giveaway pack! She has two pups that are looking forward to their prizes, which will be mailed this week.
Congratulations Amy, and a huge thank you to everyone who participated! I'm so glad to have had you stop by the blog and offer up your comments--your commentary here, on Facebook, and through Twitter is always amazing and I'm so glad to have such a wonderful community! There were 267 entries, so a huge thanks to those of you who told friends and passed along information on the giveaway.
We've been telling you about our giveaway throughout the A to Z Challenge and Ultimate Blog Challenge. Since you stuck with us throughout the madness, we're giving you some swag. I'm ready to announce the complete giveaway basket, and ready for you to win!
The basket is a treasure trove of goodies for health-conscious pet parents and their beloved pups. We have $80 worth of items, including:
While we do love all of our international blog friends, we do have to keep the giveaway stateside--Only continental US entries will be included. The giveaway is open for two weeks. After that, we'll notify the winners. A blog comment is mandatory so that we can email the winners at the address they provide. A valid email is required--don't worry though, you're email isn't publicized. Winners who do not respond within 48 hours will be replaced with another winner. After winners have been confirmed, I'll email the winners to get their address so that the prize can be mailed. **If you have any problems with the giveaway, email me at canismajortreats (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!
So I have to cop-out a little on the letter y, and I'm going with yesterday. No judgement!
My family has a green thumb...sort of. My grandparents on my mother's side have an AMAZING backyard. There are various nooks of blooms and greenery, two bonds (dug and devised by my Grandfather himself), several seating areas, and more. A little girl scout said it well when stopping by the house to sell cookies, in a hushed voice: "ooooohhhhh....is that a fairy garden?"
My mother tried with indoor plants for years, and would get angry when I forgot to water my African Violet for a week and it bloomed amazingly, but the one she had taken such care over wouldn't produce a single flower. My mom definitely has her strengths though--I've never seen anyone grow a fern quite as well my mom; she's also amazing with coleus, roses, and elephant ears.
My dad's parents were dairy farmers, but they boasted a nice veggie and fruit garden every year. I remember the cantaloupe from their garden always being amazing, along with hoards of tomatoes every year, accompanied by peppers, squash, eggplants, and beyond. Shelling beans and preparing green beans was an afternoon affair out on the porch, on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Everyone would pile onto the swing, a chair, or the steps and get to work, mulling over conversation and the weather.
Apartment life has siphoned my green thumb from me, but with the amazingly helpful patio garden articles from Apartment Therapy, I'm ready to take it back. Yesterday I decided I would plant a patio garden again. Last years died when we went on vacation, but with no extended absences planned, this years should thrive just fine. Today, we went and got the plants, and I got to work. Here's what we ended up with:
So gardens are great and all, but what in heck do they have to do with pets? Well, we discuss plants are pet safe in our 50 items that are dangerous for your pets post, but I have another fun twist. From growing up in the country, I saw tons of various "critters" around the garden and our yard. As part of our super-amazingly-awesome gift basket, I'm giving you two little garden critters of your own!
Joining our gift basket are a stuffing-less raccoon, a favorite of Arie and our puppy roommate's, as well as frog (saw those all the time in the garden!) Kong Knot, just like Arie's beloved moose. The best part about these toys is that they're okay for little guys or monster dogs like Arie, so that whomever wins can truly make the most of them. Stay tuned to our blog in the wait for May when we will showcase the full giveaway basket and give you and friends a chance to win it. Go ahead and start spreading the word by sharing this post or others mentioning the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. We'd appreciate it. ;-)
After planting all of my beloved veggies, I'm settling down with a cider to continue to browse for houses. I can't wait until I have a backyard for a real garden.
At the beginning of the month, I raved about our love of Nutro Natural Choice's Grain Free dog food, and told you about how wonderful their lamb and venison formulas have been for Arie's allergies, and for my roommate's dog's allergies. In the post I gave a disclaimer:
"Just as a FYI for this post, Nutro does not pay me in free product or monetarily to tell you how awesome their food has been. I do that all on my own."
I stick to my guns when it comes to disclaimers, so I would now like to offer a new one. Since writing that post, I won a contest with Nutro and WebVet, and did receive some swag. The blog post was written before the contest was decided and scheduled to post; reps of Nutro did not know that I planned to write the post about their product, and so could not have used that to sway their decision. The blog post was actually posted after the contest's final entries could be entered to also keep things on the up and up.
Whew. Now that we've gotten past all of the disclaimers, I can tell you about the contest. Nutro and WebVet got together to let pet parents celebrate their babies with the following comment assignment:
***Tell us one thing you love about your dog in the comment section below and you will be automatically entered to win a Nutro gift basket!***
The entries are very sweet, so be sure to read them! I really enjoyed them while the contest was underway. My entry read as follows:
"A companion during a big life step: I adopted Arie shortly after moving to a new state and away from my family; most of them love our hometown, so I'm only the second person in my family to move away! Arie, my White German Shepherd, was the perfect companion for me as I had to get to know new people without my usual friends and connections there. She's my best friend and an amazing pet--She's a true blessing in my life."
The winners, I believe there were five, were to receive gift baskets containing "the variety of NATURAL CHOICE Grain Free dog food of the winner's choice, as well as bags of NUTRO Crunchy Treats." This being stated, I expected to receive a smaller bag of food, maybe even a sample size, and a small bag or two of treats. Boy, was I surprised. Several weeks later, we got this in the mail:
That is an Arie sized bag of food, the giant one that we buy every two weeks for the two dogs. We were happily surprised! That, in addition to treats we'd been thinking about trying anyways, and a rope toy was a wonderful gift to have received. Along with it was a hand written note from a Nutro rep.
Since we're happy to have a bit of swag in the house, I can officially announce the next couple of items in the giveaway basket we'll be doing in May, after the A-to-Z Challenge is over. Arie and her doggie roomy have LOVED the apple treats from the prize pack, as well as their tried and true Zuke's mini naturals in salmon:
So we're giving away a bag of each! These, plus the pet baggies and carrier from last time are just a small portion of our giveaway, so stay tuned to the last few letters of the alphabet to learn more about the giveaway before all items are revealed.
While this isn't tied to my giveaway, and the Nutro/WebVet giveaway has passed, what's one thing you love about your pet? Post a comment or, if you'd like, tell me about on Facebook!
I've mentioned before that I work in Social Media and online content... which means that I'm a bit of an internet snob when new technology hits the public and people don't take time to learn about it. Have you seen those boxes of random design around town that say scan me? They're called QR Codes. You are supposed to scan them using a program on your smart phone with your phone's camera--the code functions like a link to get you a website easily. This means that they need to be stationary, well placed, and accessible. They can be both the most helpful things when they're well placed, and dumbest things when they're not. I've been pretty video happy, so let's continue that streak with this from Scott Stratten, one of the big names in Social:
Stratten does a great job of pointing out the awful choices people make regarding QR codes and their placement--there's even an entire website devoted to this failure called WTF QR Codes, showcasing various images of the abuse and misuse of these marketing tools. With these codes becoming the bane of marketing and one of the industry's chief facepalm moments, you can imagine my dismay when I started seeing QR Codes pop up everywhere in the pet industry, including on dog tags. Really, how can you truly get a good scan of a QR Code while it's on a dog? Then, a series of events brought me to appreciate these tags for the help that they could do.
While walking my roommate's dog, a little stray dog happened upon us a few months ago; I relayed the story here. The little guy was lost, and it took us over a day to find that a phone number had been scribbled on the inside of his collar (it was in dark blue ink on a blue collar...I found him in the rain, and the ink didn't show up against its similar background until the collar was dry). A little while later, Groupon ran a special with PetHub, an online company that helps you relocate lost pets, and Red Dingo, who makes adorable pet tags--on these QR Code pet tags.
If the little stray pup had had a QR Code on his collar, I could have taken the collar off (solves the movement issue) to scan it. Their databases not only contain the usual name and contact information for you, but also any emergency medical needs or concerns your pet may have. They also provide a picture and physical description for someone in case your pet were to lose their collar and the person only found the tag attached to the collar, with no dog. The system proved to be extremely intriguing, so we took the plunge and bought the Groupon.
The coolest thing about the special was that it came with a Gold Membership, which includes:
I must say that this awesome system has completely won me over the pet QR code side--though I still don't like seeing a QR Code on a banana (yes that has happened). Have you guys signed up for PetHub? What do you think about the system? What are your thoughts on QR Codes?
The letter P brings us several amazingly fun topics...and it makes me happy.
Let's kick things off with......Pinterest, the web obsession. I will not only eventually have to go to rehab for caffeine, but probably Pinterest as well. I know most of you are probably already pinning wonders, but trust me--Pinterest isn't for everyone, so I totally get it if you're not. Pin obsessed or pin resistant, I think you'll still like my two pet-centric boards. I have one for Life with Arie and one I started with Examiner, about heroic dogs! The first one should make you smile, the second should make you tear up with happiness. I hope you enjoy both--feel free to repin and comment like a madwoman, dog, or man. :) If you're on Pinterest and care to share, put a link to yourself in the comments!
Now onto Pet First Aid Awareness Month.
Have you noticed a few trends with pet safety in my posts lately? I've talked about icy concerns, what household items could be poisonous for your pets, and in my last post about medications and pets. From ears and nails to car harnesses and beyond, many of my April posts have tried to focus on health and medical care for your pets to Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Pet first aid is so important, because you never really know when you're going to need it. When Arie was a pup she burned her paws on hot pavement (BAD mom for walking her in the late afternoon during a hot Georgia Summer) and we had to clean her paws with iodine, then coat them in Neosporin, then wrap them loosely with gauze, and put baby socks on them....oh yes. I bought baby socks to keep my dog from pulling on the gauze.
Socks and all, the knowledge was good to know in case I ever need to pass it on to someone who had a similar situation. I want to continue to learn more about Pet First Aid, and I especially want to take a Pet CPR class. What kind of first aid advice do you have to offer? Have you taken a CPR class? Let's pool our knowledge, pet fans!
Next on our P list is the Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. This topic breaks my heart. I've seen so many stories lately about horrible things done to animals...there was even a puppy in my hometown that someone poured acid on...on purpose. Freddy, as he has been called, survived the incident and has been described as your typical loving puppy, though he has and still is living through some terrible pain. He was only six weeks old and three and half lbs when a good Samaritan found him with his burns and rushed him to a friend at Animal Control to see if someone could save him. He is expected, however, to make a full recovery. I found a link to the story with very tiny images for those of you, who, like me, can't stand to look at such pain. If you want to help the rescue that is helping Freddy, and other severely abused animals in South Carolina, you can find them here. One thing we can do to help stop the abuse of animals is to ensure that people who abuse animals, like sex offenders, are registered for their crimes and prevented from adopting animals in the future just to cause them harm. You can learn more about that from Pet-Abuse.com.
Now, I don't want to leave anyone in the dumps after such a serious moment...so instead we're going to talk about other dumps. (you chuckled...you know you did.) That's right. Poop. And prizes.
...I hinted that I would reveal one of the prizes for the giveaway basket in May on one of my social channels in my post yesterday or the day before. I failed. Instead, I'm revealing one today, and it's just the tip of the iceberg for the basket of awesomeness that awaits one lucky winner. It's...
Poopie bags!!! While not the most exciting or most enticing element of the epic giveaway basket, these little items are amazingly handy when you need them. The bone shaped holder can latch onto your leash, keys, purse, book bag, belt loop, etc. making baggies super convenient, and the rainbow of bags offers up 48 plastic baggies for you. Besides, let's face it--If you're going to be picking up poop, using a blue/yellow/green/or pink bag just makes it a little less nasty. Keep your eyes peeled for more giveaway surprises, and don't forget to share your first aid tips!
Over the counter medications are convenient for people, as they relieve symptoms without a prescription when you need something in a pinch. I don't like to take medications, but I do frequently get migraines and have an OTC migraine medicine that is a lifesaver...but I digress.
When I was younger, I remember my mom being told to give our little mixed breed, Daisy, half of a Benadryl when she had an allergic reaction to ant bites. Her at home medicine cabinet remedy isn't the only one I've heard of either. Louis C.K., the hilariously subversive comic, was on Conan recently. He talked about an incident where he saved his dog's life with hydrogen peroxide...in the hilarious manner that you can only get from Louis C.K. (NOTE: He is going to call the dog dumb. He is going to talk about the measures he has to go to get her to drink the hydrogen peroxide. Take it with a grain of salt and humor, people).
Mom's home remedy and Louis C.K.'s life-saver aren't alone. Some sites, like Yahoo or WebMD say that giving your pet certain over the counter medications like Aspirin is okay, while others, like one vet's website, say that aspirin is lethal in any dose. There is so much conflicting information out there that I doubt I would ever give Arie anything without being directly told to by a vet in the moment of need, just to be on the safe side.
Have you ever given your pet OTC medications usually meant for people? Were you told to by a vet, friend, or your intuition? Tell me about it in a comment here, or on Life with Arie's Facebook page.
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