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.

How Adopting a Dog Saved My Life

Wes Siler's Dog Wiley

If I meet someone that doesn’t already have a dog, of course I immediately tell them to get one. Run, don’t walk! Now I understand that some people can’t have one for a few good reasons: they travel too much, their lease doesn’t allow it, stuff like that. But if I get a whiff that someone is on the fence about it, I try to point out how adopting a dog can make their life so much better. Because I know the day will come when that person won’t be able to imagine a life without their dog.

The pup in the photo above is Wiley and he was adopted by a guy named Wes Siler. I happened to come across his story recently and it’s absolutely worth sharing, so I am. The title is “How Adopting a Dog Saved My Life”, and it’s a safe bet that Mr. Siler agrees with me. It’s a great story with sweet photos, especially at the end. He breaks down his story into the different ways adopting Wiley helped to get his life on track. One example:

“Adopting A Dog Gave Me A Reason To Come Home: That crash was the third time I’d broken a bone on motorcycles. Not exactly a good track record and not one that I could keep repeating. Having a living, breathing thing that required attention and care and exercise waiting at home changed my priorities. I still ride every day obviously, but have dialed-back the risk taking. No longer is it my priority to come back with the most epic photo or craziest story, it’s to make it home in one-piece, on time, so Wiley gets dinner.”

So take a look and add it to your own arsenal of reasoning for the next time you encounter someone that’s on the fence about getting a dog. Direct them to the nearest shelter. They’ll never want to look back.

You can find the story here.

Photo courtesy and copyright Wes Siler.

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.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

Tito's Dogs

Thanks to the title of this post you probably now have that annoying 1980’s Loverboy song swirling around in your head. Apologies. But as the saying goes, it’s 5:00 somewhere so it’s time to mix up a nice cocktail and relax. There’s a vodka brand that you may or may not be familiar with that I happen to love: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from right here in the good old USA. Texas, in fact. And guess what? They are some serious dog folks! The image above is from their most recent photo shoot and it features just half (HALF?) of the dogs owned by the staff. Little ones, big ones, woolly ones, shaggy ones, you name it (I’m talking about the dogs). I was also informed that there are packs of wild dogs near their facility just outside of Austin, so there’s always something new showing up. And these folks step up every time, believe me!

Here’s a photo of Tito himself (whose last name just happens to be Beveridge), with the trusty boy Roscoe. What a pair! They sure look content, and I don’t see a shaker anywhere near them!

Tito and Roscoe

So in honor of Tito, his staff, the wonderful dogs they love and the ones that are about to show up any minute now, and of course St. Patrick’s Day last Sunday, I decided to compose a little limerick. If you’re thinking “but Vodka’s not Irish!”, I would say that there’s probably not an Irishman anywhere that would deny someone their wee drink of choice! So, ahem…

Tito Limerick

Ah well, I tried. Anyway, my drink of choice — surprise — is a Salty Dog! Here is a simple recipe and photo from The Daily Noff:

Salty Dog from The Daily Noff

Salty Dog

2 oz Vodka
4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Salt for the rim
Salt your rim. Pour vodka into rocks glass with ice, pour grapefruit juice over that. Slurp.

If you’d like to learn more about Tito’s Vodka (which I think they should rename “dogka”), check out the official Tito’s Handmade Vodka website here. And cheers!

Typographic Tuesday: EB White

EB White Quote

Boy that’s the truth! But I will add that time and nurturing given to any dog will work miracles. Every single one of them deserves that.

Here’s E.B. White and his dog Minnie, a dog he saved from a research facility. Looks like she might have became an editor.

EB White and Minnie

Operation Animal Airlift

Plane, puppy and palms

This past weekend in California, a major undertaking took place: the airlift of hundreds of dogs from overcrowded shelters in Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest where there’s apparently a shortage of adoptable dogs (nice to hear that’s the case in a few places). The group that’s in the pilot’s seat, so to speak, is Wings of Rescue, a volunteer network of kind-hearted folks that are dedicated to flying adoptable dogs from point A to point B. According to the spokeswoman in the interview, they’ve saved 5000 dogs in the last 18 months alone!

“Dogs going to Olympia, Washington!” “All of those going to Hillsborough!” The video from NBC Nightly News is a flurry of activity: shouted destinations, happy goodbyes, crates being loaded, happy volunteers working like Santa’s elves, and also a lot of twinkling doggy eyes as they get ready to take off.

This story appeals to me for a few reasons: saving dogs of course, but also the southern California connection (because that’s where I’m from) and aviation’s role (my family tree is full of aircraft-related careers). It’s definitely one of those feel-good stories that just makes you applaud humanity. For me, it’s a well-rounded gush of love, pride and gratitude.

Volunteers, dogs and planes

The story mentions specifically the case of Sedona, shown below, who was saved on the day she was scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter. Instead, she’s greeted by her new owner in Oregon who says the perfect thing: “This is like Christmas morning!” I’ve watched the video about 10 times now and that’s where the lump-in-the-throat hits.

Sedona closeup and boarding flight

Sedona arrives in Oregon

If you’d like to watch the video, please do so! You can find it here. It’s really worth it, and they have a nice segue to the piece by showing the Obama’s 2012 Christmas card featuring their dog Bo at the White House in the snow. The idyllic image serves as a great reminder that the only thing that separates dogs languishing in shelters from dogs in loving homes is action. Happy holidays, Wings of Rescue!

If you’d like to volunteer or donate to Wings of Rescue, you can find the information here.

All images from NBC Nightly News segment

In Sickness and In Health

Fiona Apple and Janet

I wanted to share this story because it’s important. And it’s sad, but also beautiful and inspiring. It’s about the loss of our beloved dogs, which is something we all eventually face, but it’s especially relevant because it addresses the choice to honor your friend by putting their care and final days ahead of everything else. No matter who you are, no matter what.

I lost two of my best friends this year, Henry and Nicholas. Lots of things were put on hold, set aside, canceled. The days and nights of bawling and praying and bargaining and pleading “please eat just a little!”. And the precious moments that you can give them that have always been special, but are now even more delicate. It’s something you have to go through for them. And with them. It’s part of the deal, part of the package. And it’s an honor.

Quote from Fiona's letter

Well said, Fiona. Janet is a 14-year-old pit bull rescued by Fiona Apple as a puppy from a dogfighting situation in LA, and she is her best friend. She’s also dying, so Fiona decided to postpone the South American portion of her tour, and wrote the most eloquent letter (she’s Fiona Apple, after all) to explain her decision. It’s a beautiful and honest tribute, and it gives me added strength when I remember the crummy individuals and situations I’ve encountered during those trying but necessary times. So, you go, Fiona.

fiona_letter

The transcript:

It’s 6pm on Friday,and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet.
I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here’s the thing.
I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then, an adult officially–and she was my child.

She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face. She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders. She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.

Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.
We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few makeshift families, but it’s always really been the two of us.
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.
She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me all the time we recorded the last album.
The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she’s used to me being gone for a few weeks every 6 or 7 years.
She has Addison’s Disease, which makes it dangerous for her to travel since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and to excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.
Despite all of this, she’s effortlessly joyful and playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago.
She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.
I can’t come to South America. Not now.
When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.
She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore.
I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people.
But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.
I just can’t leave her now, please understand.
If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed.
But this decision is instant.
These are the choices we make, which define us.
I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship.
I am the woman who stays home and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend.
And helps her be comfortable, and comforted, and safe, and important.
Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life, that keeps us feeling terrified and alone.
I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time.
I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments.
I need to do my damnedest to be there for that.
Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known.
When she dies.
So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel.
And I am asking for your blessing. I’ll be seeing you.
Love, Fiona