About Erica Preo

Erica Preo is President & CEO of Pantofola, Inc., a luxury brand of dog accessories made in Italy with 20% of every sale donated to dog rescue.

Typographic Tuesday : Mary Oliver #2

mary oliver and chappie

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and today’s post is from Mary Oliver’s popular new book Dog Songs. This would be another fantastic gift for someone, it’s here on Amazon. My copy just arrived, so here’s the sweet cover:

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

 

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

Holiday Gifts for the Doggy Set

Nukkles massage tool

It’s holiday gift-giving time, so I thought I would offer a few ideas for the doggy folks on your list in case you’re stuck. But first, I want to make sure it’s understood that these are my genuine recommendations and not sponsored by anyone. This is more like if you asked me what gift would make a dog person happy, these are some things I would tell you about. And three of them don’t require any gift wrapping!

Okay. The first one is that odd blue thing above. It’s a massage tool called Nukkles that I randomly picked up years ago at a Walgreen’s drug store. It was one of those occasions when you spend just a little too much time in a drug store and begin looking at things you normally would never notice. Well, it turns out that dogs love this thing…and I mean L-O-V-E love it. Despite all of the cute toys, treats and outfits that are out there for your dog, it turns out what they really want is your attention and a good rub. Just put this thing into the palm of your hand and apply gentle pressure, moving slowly around muscles and soft tissue. Your dog will slip into an immediate trance, especially if your pup is older with some aches and pains. You can position it so that the downward cones straddle his spine, that really works wonders. It’s hard but flexible plastic, so it glides easily along fur. There are lots of great specialists offering therapies for dogs these days, but if you’d like something non-medicating that’s always available to you without an appointment and a car trip, this really does the trick. I think I paid about $5 so it’s not an expensive gift, but I promise to a dog it’s priceless. These Nukkles folks do have a website here, and I did see they offer a doggy version but I don’t think it’s different than the people version I bought. They are available in two-packs on Amazon also.

Bark Magazine

My next recommendation is a subscription to the magazine that I believe does the best job in the dog category: The Bark. I’ve mentioned this publication a few times before, and I really do love it. Self-described as “the dog culture magazine”, The Bark is full of all aspects of dog: literature, art, photography, poetry, health info, legal initiatives, rescue news, nutrition info, new products, book and film reviews. And it’s quarterly so there’s plenty of time to get through an issue before the next one shows up. I’ve been a reader since it was given out free in a newspaper format in San Francisco area veterinarians’ offices, and it’s always stayed true to its mission. Recently I saw they have a gift offer of $10 per subscription, here’s the link.

Whole Dog Journal

What to Look for in Wet Food. No-Pull Harnesses Reviewed. Diets for Dogs with Diabetes. Fat, Lazy, and/or Grumpy? Training Tiny Dogs. Choosing an Animal Charity. These are just a few of the article titles from past issues of the stellar publication Whole Dog Journal. This monthly publication is probably the best thing you could ever give to a dog owner, because it offers the broad spectrum of knowledge they need all the time. It covers health issues, medicine (traditional, herbal, holistic, etc.), behavior and training, nutrition (homemade diets, raw feeding, commercial foods both wet and dry), it’s endless. If you’ve ever needed more information about anything, and I mean anything, this is the place to turn. If a veterinarian tells you that your dog has a certain condition or illness and says the only route is to prescribe medication XYZ…guess what? Most likely there are some other options available to you, and Whole Dog Journal will tell you what they are. There are NO advertisements, no tricks, they don’t try to sell you some snake oil concoction, it’s simply an honest resource you can trust. Subscriptions are only $20 and in addition to the monthly issues, subscribers have access to their online archives to search by topic. A link to their website is here.

Last but not least, it’s always a wonderful gift to donate to a charity or rescue organization, and nothing would make a dog owner happier than to know their holiday gift was to help a homeless dog. And that’s a gift for you as well.

I hope these ideas were helpful to you, and that perhaps you can cross a few things off your list, get yourself something to drink that’s either hot or effervescent, and enjoy the holiday season!

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

Vafa Animal Shelter

The gates at Vafa Animal Shelter in Iran

Governments get in the way. Rhetoric makes us bypass people we might otherwise admire. That’s a lousy thing because if we can push that aside and look closer, we’d be very surprised at what we’d find. Which leads me to the question: can dogs serve as ambassadors of goodwill between nations? Yes, I think they definitely can.

On my trip to New York last June, I met a very talented artist from Iran named Mahmoud Hamadani. For a brief moment I’m going to bring one of his pieces into this post, for a few reasons. First, he’s the one who told me about the Vafa Animal Shelter (because the topic of dogs seems to always come up with me) so it sets the context. Second, because abstract art is open to interpretation I’m going to use this piece as a visual for the point I’m trying to make about cultures. And third, because I love it so much.

Endless Roads by Mahmoud Hamadani

This piece is from Mr. Hamadani’s Endless Roads series which is based on a stanza from a poem called The Untimely Traveler by Azadeh Farahmand. It’s Untitled XV, ink on paper, and it’s a lovely 60″ x 44″. When I look at this piece in the context of different cultures, I imagine the vertical and horizontal lines represent “us” and “them”, which is easy enough because it illustrates a difference and distance between people and nations. But everywhere that these lines intersect, that’s a commonality: food, water, shelter, love, pursuit of happiness, security, the list goes on. And apparently that list includes dogs.

It’s never good to make generalizations, but I’ve always thought middle eastern cultures didn’t care much for dogs. But, judging by the photos below, this is clearly not the rule.

Photos from the Vafa Animal Shelter in Iran

Welcome to the Vafa Animal Shelter, just outside of Tehran in an area called Hashtgerd. Founded by Mrs. Fatemeh Motamedi when her husband donated the land, the shelter was built to provide a place for all of the stray dogs to live. And not only live, they seem to thrive here! These have to be the happiest shelter photos I’ve ever seen! I realize that it must be a huge struggle to maintain this facility with a lot of heartache on a daily basis but the dogs, staff, and visitors seem to be genuinely happy in every picture I find. There’s a true sense of love for these dogs that is captured no matter what’s going on: spa day, getting the place ready for the cold winter months, doing vaccinations, and odd repairs.

One huge difference with this shelter I noticed is that these dogs are able to move about freely, rather than being confined to cages. Since they are social animals these dogs seem much more at ease with this arrangement, making this place feel more like a dog village. They appear to interact so well with the staff, it’s as though they are helping with those repairs. I would assume that if you were to adopt a dog from the Vafa Animal Shelter (and people do!) you’d pretty much be guaranteed a fine dog that could get along well with other dogs. Even on days when a local restaurant delivers fresh raw bones, these guys just find their own spot and munch away. Amazing.

Vafa Animal Shelter in Iran

The word “vafa” means “loyal” and judging by these photos and the dedication of Mrs. Motamedi and her staff, I’d say that loyalty goes both ways. I’m giving these folks at Vafa Animal Shelter my highest respect and admiration, and I wish I could meet them someday for coffee and a nice how-do-you-do in the international language of Dog. No matter what our governments have to say.

Vafa dog now in Chicago

The photo above is one lucky pup from Vafa, now living half a world away in Chicago.

If you’d like to learn more or donate to the Vafa Animal Shelter, you can find all of the information in the About section of their Facebook page, which is here. If you are interested in adopting a Vafa shelter dog, please contact Farah Ravon (based in California): by email kfravon@yahoo.com, or by phone +1 (408) 431-6954 (mobile/cell).

For information on the artist Mahmoud Hamadani, you can visit his website here.

All shelter photos from the Vafa Animal Shelter Facebook page. Mahmoud Hamadani painting, copyright and courtesy of the artist.

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

Stella is a Star

Our Girl Stella

World, meet Stella. Lei è una stella, she’s a star. And if you read my last post, she might seem a little bit familiar to you. They called her Fern, this little one. They couldn’t understand how she’d been overlooked, why no one came to rescue her. But there are too many, they keep coming, the clock keeps ticking. Her time was running out and before I knew it, I’d dialed the shelter to say she will have a home. Our home.

It’s nerve-wracking when deciding to adopt a new dog. Especially when you haven’t even met the dog in person, you’re flying completely by instinct. But one thing I did know: I wouldn’t let her die, no way would that happen. Yes, the risk would be taken. She hadn’t been given the chance to live yet, and that’s just not acceptable. Not enough days in the sunshine, maybe none snoozing in front of a toasty fire, and I’m pretty sure no time at all spent frolicking on any beaches. And what about nicknames—which all dogs must acquire, in addition to the requisite sing-songs and ditties that are made up one day at a time. Those things hadn’t happened yet for her. So, no. No dying, only living.

Stella's Freedom Snooze

On the long drive home, she insisted on snoozing on my lap and I could tell she was really thankful. But I was also thankful that I’d been given the chance to save her. And thankful to this shelter, and all of the shelters, and all of the foster homes that provide safe haven for these guys that society has neglected and discarded. These people do an incredible job, the elaborate networks they’ve built on Facebook and everywhere else, giving their time and resources and love. It’s 24 hours a day, and it never slows down. This Thanksgiving I’m thinking of these people and hope they know how much their difficult and often heartbreaking work makes the world a better place. One adoption at a time.

Stella Snoozes with George and Chappie

Stella says she agrees, but for now she’s getting some rest with her new dog family. After all, she knows she’s got a lot of nicknames to learn and some serious catching up to do. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And here is a super list of 10 dog-related things to be thankful for by The Bark Magazine. Enjoy, and no calories!

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

Typographic Tuesday : Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony quote

Once again it’s Typographic Tuesday and in honor of Election Day here in the United States, today’s quote is by Susan B. Anthony. Love this comparison of stray dogs describing the most important moments in life. Of course I completely agree!

And if you’re curious about the sweet pup at the top, I chose her because she’s such a sweetheart with those sparkly eyes and yes, she’s a stray. Her name is Fern and she is currently at the animal shelter in Rutherfordton, North Carolina (between Charlotte and Asheville). Fern is a female Redbone Coonhound, around 7 months old, ID#A027478. Unfortunately, although she only arrived at the shelter on Halloween, her time is very short. If you or someone you know is interested in adopting her, please contact the shelter right away:

Rutherford County Animal Shelter
Community Pet Center
828 287 7738
578 Laurel Hill Drive, Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Typographic Tuesday : Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton dog quote

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and today it’s words with an opposite image of sorts. Edith Wharton’s quote about her little dog is certainly sweet, but to honor dogs of all sizes I’m putting it with this photo of dear George the world record holding 7-foot-tall Great Dane from Tucson that passed away this week just one day shy of his 8th birthday. What a beautiful and special boy. I suppose he could say “My little old owner: a heart-beat at my feet.” Rest in peace, sweetheart.

George and Dave Nasser, owner

Photo: copyright Dave Nasser and Hachett Book Group

Il Cucciolo

Agriturismo Il Cucciolo

This post is about a lovely 25-acre agriturismo in Italy called Il Cucciolo, which translates to “The Puppy”, but first I have to own up to the path that brought this place to my attention: the credit goes to my cat Ponyo. Yes, I said it, a cat. In the way that cats climb on bookshelves (and everything else), Ponyo knocked a book down that I had forgotten about. Crafty girl, it was a good suggestion. And that’s where I’ll begin.

I bought Philosophy Dog, The Art of Living with Man’s Best Friend by Breon O’Farrell many years ago in San Francisco at the now defunct Stacey’s Books on Market Street. It caught my eye because it’s beautiful and the topic is dogs. It’s loaded with great photography and typography, oh and it’s about dog training but clearly that facet was lost on me and mine. Maybe Ponyo was giving us a suggestion.

Philosophy Dog by Breon O'Farrell

 

Pages from Philosophy Dog by Breon O'Farrell

While becoming reacquainted with this book, I discovered that Breon O’Farrell had been a successful dog trainer in New York with talented dog-loving clients and friends like photographer Bruce Weber (which comes in handy when you’re putting a book together). Then I found that Mr. O’Farrell along with his Italian-born wife and kids now operates a great little gem of an agriturismo in the heart of Perugia called Il Cucciolo. You can take your dogs on holiday there for fun and training, with classes taught by Breon O’Farrell himself.

Breon O'Farrell and dogs at Il Cucciolo

I haven’t visited Il Cucciolo yet, but I sure plan to get there one day. I’m smitten by the whole idea of this place. Most of my trips to Italy (okay, pretty much all of them) are for business and I’m primarily up in the north, but I would love to venture down to Il Cucciolo, and why not? Cooking classes, mushroom and truffle hunting, yoga, hikes in the hills, hanging out with dogs! I’m there. Beautiful.

Il Cucciolo Agriturismo

I think Mr. O’Farrell had the right idea to leave the crowded city for a gorgeous place like this. I’m willing to bet there are quite a few people daydreaming of a life like this right about now. If that’s true and this post inspires someone somewhere to make a big life change, it can all be traced back to Ponyo’s bookshelf climb that day. Crafty girl.

If you’d like to contact Il Cucciolo, you can visit their website here. You can also check out their Facebook page with more photos and info here.

Other contact information:
Agriturismo Il Cucciolo, Vocabolo Figlino n. 31, Petrelle, 06010 Città di Castello (PG)
Tel/Fax: (From USA 011-39)-0758504138, (From Europe 0039)-0758504138
Cell.: (From USA 011-39)-3331877849, (From Europe 0039)-3331877849

Email: info@agriturismoilcucciolo.com

Agriturismo photos: courtesy and property of Il Cucciolo

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