Candice Bergen’s BergenBags

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Remember the good old days when Murphy Brown was on TV? Candice Bergen’s wit and perfect delivery was such a treat to watch, before reality TV took over. Luckily for us, she’s having fun doing something new and her wit is still as sharp as ever. Just take her tagline for her project BergenBags: “From One Old Bag to Another”. Let me explain.

By happy accident, Candice Bergen has started painting on people’s luxe handbags. On a whim she painted something on her daughter Chloe Malle’s Louis Vuitton duffle bag and it was posted on Instagram. Now everyone who’s anyone wants her to paint something on their bag. As Dana Schuster from NY Post put it “The hottest purse right now isn’t a Birkin. It’s a Bergen.” Of course what caught my eye were the dogs so I’m going to go out on a limb and say Ms. Bergen loves dogs, because not only is her Instagram full of dog photos but she seems to paint quite a few also…

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But she paints all sorts of things, whatever the customer wants. Tacos, bunnies, camels, horses, caterpillars, skunks, cryptic messages…it seems pretty wide open…

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You can see that these bags are some pretty posh canvases: Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Prada, Goyard… and Candice Bergen is a megawatt star after all, so the cost for a custom paint job is $1000 a pop but she donates it all to charity. Today she’s painting bags onsite by appointment at Laura Vinroot Poole’s gorgeous Capitol boutique in Charlotte, North Carolina. I thought about making the 2-hour trip just for entertainment’s sake, what a hoot!

It’s nice to know that stars we’ve adored are real people, out there doing neat things and having fun. Candice Bergen, don’t worry…there’s nothing “old bag” about you!

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You can visit the BergenBags website here. Also follow BergenBags on Instagram here, her photo captions are really very funny and very Candice Bergen.

All photos via Instagram.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Weekend Dog Watching in Italy

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After a pretty long hiatus from blog posts, I’m back! When I first started this blog I posted every day, then gradually started tapering off. I was busy launching Pantofola, my brand of dog accessories that are made in Italy, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I really need to resume my blog posts. There were some blogs I followed and when those posts started dwindling I always felt sad, and wondered what happened?! So if anyone has wondered that about me and/or felt sad, I promise to get back to some regular posting.

A few weeks ago I spent a week in Italy meeting with my factory for some new items and collections, and also to attend the semi-annual mega leather fair in Milan. I always try and attend the fair because it’s easier than traveling all over to visit tanneries and other suppliers. Anyway, the first part of my trip was getting over jet lag and becoming reacquainted with life in Italy. It seems I’ve made the city of Varese my home away from home, and since I prefer smaller cities it’s become quite comfy. My first post about Varese can be found here.

One of my favorite things to do is stroll around the center of the city and since I was there over a weekend I was able to do a lot of people watching, and dog watching of course. It seemed as though everyone was out, meeting and greeting. This sweet Golden Retriever was more than happy to get neck and belly rubs from passersby…

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And these two guys were happy to check each other out, although one seems not quite as thrilled as the other…

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Of course there was no shortage of kids, and kids and dogs just seem to go together…

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This one I especially liked because he looked a lot like my dog Chappie, who I was missing already…

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Big ones, small ones, no one can escape the crazy American dog lady with her iPhone camera in hand…

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Of course there were other things going on during the weekend. There were markets both days, with everything to eat that you could possibly imagine. From the point of view of the dogs that were strolling around, I suppose this seller would have been a popular hangout…

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…and wouldn’t it be so easy just to quickly help yourself to some wild boar sausage or a slice of prosciutto on a Saturday afternoon? Why not? It’s la dolce vita after all.

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For me, I prefer something more along the lines of this seller…

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Actually, the best thing of all was already on my radar: the famous gelato chain Grom has opened a Varese location which was very close by. So, like a moth to a flame I went…

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That was Salted Caramel and Coffee together. It was so tasty, the next day I went back for a cup of Salted Caramel and Nougat because, when in Rome…or Varese…

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Not a bad way to spend the first few days in Italy, enjoying a weekend in a lovely city and strolling along with the locals. I’m sure that I blended right in, apart from that pesky iPhone camera.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Phoebe. And Hadley.

Phoebe and Hadley

A few months ago we decided to try and find a friend for our dog Stella. If you recall from the post about adopting her, I said she’s a star. And she’s still a star, but she’s become quite a pudgy star and our other dogs just aren’t interested in hours of playtime with her. You know, that nonstop young dog play that’s often ridiculous but necessary. George, after all, is about fifteen now. Sally only wants to stare at rabbits. And Chappie would still rather close himself in the bathroom for his quiet time. In fact, recently my husband quipped that Chappie is the dog equivalent of Walter Matthau and I would agree.

It’s always nerve wracking and gut-wrenching when trying to choose a new dog, hoping to get the “right” one. And there are other things, like telling people that you’ve gotten another dog. Or, in this case two new dogs, which puts us at six. And the only people with six dogs are crazy people or celebrities or crazy celebrities. I haven’t even told my mom yet, because when she learned I’d adopted Stella she whacked me with her cane in front of everyone on Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. And while she’s no longer using a cane, there’s always a wooden spoon nearby.

I began by looking at Facebook posts of dogs in shelters that were running out of time. There are so many high kill shelters so that’s where I target. Eventually I settled on a litter of 6-month-old puppies that were kind of German Shepherd/Husky-ish and I was having a difficult time choosing between a brother and sister. I drove the three hours to the place, warning my husband in advance that I probably will come back with both of them. When I arrived and met them I thought they were very sweet but also very subdued, even in the outdoor play area. But also we just didn’t connect. The shelter director informed me that a local rescue group had just committed to pulling the whole litter so if I didn’t take them they would still be okay. When I told her that I was really looking for a playmate for Stella she offered to show me a 7-month-old female smooth-coat Collie mix who had been dumped the week before because she had “too much energy”. A minute later her assistant burst through the door with this crazy thing that was more thoroughbred than dog.

At first I thought no way, she’ll knock poor old George off his feet. But then I watched her jolly up the timid female I’d been considering, she seemed to be saying “you WILL play with me!” and it worked. Her enthusiasm was infectious, her spirit couldn’t be contained, even after being abandoned by her owners and spending time in a chaotic shelter. Right then I just had a very strong feeling come over me that yes, this was the one.

And we were off.

Phoebe leaves the high kill shelter

Since then, we’ve found out that Phoebe is a very smart girl and she loves to talk. She also loves playing the squirt game with the hose. Yes she has lots of energy, and that’s just fine with us. And with Stella.

Phoebe and the water hose

So remember I only wanted one dog but figured I’d end up with two? A few days after adopting Phoebe, my husband was on his way home when he spotted a scrawny tick-infested puppy that had been dumped and was desperately chasing cars. Meet Hadley.

Hadley the pup in the catbed

Life has a funny way of working out, that’s for sure. And it doesn’t take long to reach the point of not being able to imagine life without the new additions, I guess that’s when you know they’re really part of the family.

Phoebe, Hadley, Stella

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

The Name is Bug…Ladybug

Photographer Amanda Jones' dogs Ladybug and Benny

No matter what your parents do for a living, you benefit from it. Not just because they bought you socks (in my day) or bought you an iPhone (these days), but because their career experience directly benefits you. For example, my dad was an aircraft engineer so whenever flying gives me the willies, I call upon the knowledge and reassurance he provided over the years (turbulence is really nothing, flying is safer than driving, etc.). Of course back then, a candy maker or baker dad might have made me happier. As it turns out, a dentist parent also would have been handy.

Now if either parent happens to be a professional photographer, you’re going to grow up with every moment of your life beautifully documented. This benefit, of course, extends to our four-legged friends. In the case of rescue Ladybug, at left in the photo above, you hit the jackpot: a loving home AND professional photographer Amanda Jones as your mom.

A few posts back, I announced the launch of my own brand of Italian-made luxe dog accessories, Pantofola. I was very fortunate to have crossed paths with Amanda thirteen years ago and I’ve been a huge fan ever since: Amanda’s beautiful work is featured on my website, dogs of all shapes and sizes modeling Pantofola collars. I hit the jackpot, too.

Photographer Amanda Jones' dogs Benny and Ladybug

Recently Amanda started sniffing around for a new addition to her family, a sibling for Benny. Thanks to Instagram, she spotted Ladybug who was being fostered by a rescue group in the New York area. She had actually come from Oklahoma, a long journey for a little dog who was looking for her perfect home. Thanks to the network of rescues and fosters, she definitely found it. She’s all settled in, these photos were taken just 3 days after being adopted last weekend. Benny is performing his due diligence and checking her over to be sure she’s not a spy or anything like that.

We think she’s perfect—definitely not a spy—and wears our Pantofola collar well. You’ve come a long way, Bug. Welcome to the big time!

If you’d like to see more of Amanda’s work, or schedule your own session with her please visit her website here. She will be in these cities over the next few months:

Houston, TX | April 8
Tucson, AZ | April 11
San Francisco, CA | April 25 – 26
New York, NY | May 9 – 10
Chicago, IL | June 9 – 10
Nantucket, MA | June 20 – 21
Portland, OR | July 25 – 26
Bend, OR | July 29 – 30
Seattle, WA | August 1 – 2
Denver, CO | August 22
Vail, CO | August 23

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Photos courtesy and copyright Amanda Jones Photography.

Hachikō and the Professor Together Again

New Hachiko and Professor Ueno Sculpture

There’s a brand new statue of Hachikō, but this one is even better because in it he is reunited once again with his master Professor Ueno. It captures such a happy moment, the one that was repeated each day at the train platform when the professor returned from his day at the university…until the very sad day when he suddenly passed away. That day marked the beginning of nine years that Hachikō continued to wait without fail.

Detail shots of the new Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

I think this new statue is super, because this is what we all wanted to see…the two together. Even as an artist’s interpretation, it’s exactly as it should be: bright smiles, kind eyes upon each other, a briefcase set down while Professor Ueno’s complete attention is given to faithful Hachikō before beginning the walk home from the station. Captured in bronze, it crystallizes the moment and triumphs the sad solo Hachikō.

Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

If you’d like to visit the new Hachikō statue, you can find it at The University of Tokyo campus for the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences/Faculty of Agriculture, website here.

Photos courtesy and original story from Rocket News 24 can be found here.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

What I Did Last Summer

Pantofola luxury dog collars, Collezione Caramelle

Okay, the subject of this post is a little misleading…it was more than just last summer. And more than the summer before, actually it’s been lots of summers. Because it takes a long time to get something perfect, and that was my mission. But I chose to name this post “What I Did Last Summer” because it’s my first post since June of last year. Good grief!

If you’ve ever read my About page, you know that I’ve been working on launching my own line of luxury dog accessories called Pantofola that are made in Italy. So I travel there a few times each year, attending leather trade fairs, meeting with factories, flying around in a Fiat 500 (or enduring rail strikes), having good coffee, and taking pictures of dogs that I come across. For some time now I’ve been “that crazy American lady making dog collars” everywhere I go. Last summer I made three separate trips to London and one to Milan, and just a few days ago my website launched…hooray!!

Handsome doxie wearing Pantofola Mezzanotte collar in Luna

We have handsome collars for the little guys, and of course the not-so-little guys.

Black Lab wearing Pantofola Caramelle collar in Cielo

A very important aspect of Pantofola is to donate a minimum of 10% of our profits to dog rescue organizations around the world. Here in the US, we’ll choose an organization each quarter and make their day with a surprise gift. For sales outside of the United States, we’re donating to London-based Dogs Trust. They are a wonderful charity organization with a long track record going back to 1891, and their promise is never to destroy a healthy dog. In addition to rehoming dogs through their 20 centers in the UK (almost 15,000 just last year!), they go beyond their borders to train veterinarians in remote parts of the world where none exist, and they work to eradicate rabies in developing countries. I’m working on a separate post about our partnership, but in the meantime you can find more information about them here on their website.

Until next time…

Lhasa in Pantofola Caramelle collar in Liquirizia

 

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

All images copyright Pantofola, Inc. / Dog photos also protected under separate copyright Amanda Jones Photography.

 

A Good Day, Profiles in Virtue #1

I don’t usually reblog a post, but this one is so wonderful I just have to…I’ve read it 4 times in the last 10 minutes, and I’ll keep reading it. Happy Sunday, everyone!

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I never thought I’d see Dean again, or at least for quite a while.  I’d diagnosed osteosarcoma bone cancer in his beloved bloodhound’s leg about a month ago, and after we said goodbye to her, he floated off in a sea of tears.  I’m always touched by a man who feels comfortable sharing emotion while dealing with life’s difficult decisions.  Dean had carried some of his own medical issues, and had lost an eye on that journey.  So I was so very happy to see his face when I entered the exam room last Tuesday, embracing a new dog.  He shared his story.

“Doc, you know I was pretty tore up about ol’ Dolly.  I swore I could never get another dog again.  It just hurts so  much when you have to say goodbye.”

I nodded because I know that feeling well.  Clearly I didn’t need to share my wisdom…

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