Dante the Dizzy Dog

Dante the German Shepherd

Dante – October 18, 2017

The title of this post might be more amusing than the circumstances that led to writing of this post.  You may know from my blog, Facebook, or Instagram that my German Shepherd just turned 13 at the end of August.  This was quite a momentous occasion for me because our last German Shepherd, Boomer, didn’t quite make it to his 10th birthday before degenerative myelopathy made his life miserable and we had to put him down.  Dante is now a very slow walker and naps frequently but still seems content to be with us.  I’m definitely in the icing-on-the-cake phase with him.

I recently went for a two week trip with my mother to Portugal.  It was hard leaving Dante but the rest of my family was here, and my dad flew up from San Diego just to be there for his grand-dog, who he loves.  I was gone a week when I got a text from my husband to call him.  When I did, I got the news that Dante couldn’t get up.  He was able to get up and walk Sunday morning but by early Sunday afternoon, he couldn’t. By the time I called my husband around 1pm Monday, it had been 24 hours since he’d gotten up.  It appeared he had a stroke because of the way he was acting (heavy breathing, and glancing strangely at everything, head tilted) and the fact he couldn’t get up.  This was huge shock to me because I had texted on Sunday morning (California time) and all was well.  Now, all was not well.  None of us wanted Dante to suffer, so the horrible decision was made to have a vet friend come at 5 pm that evening (1am in Portugal) to put him down.

You can only imagine how I felt being so far away from my best boy.  I just couldn’t believe it. I had planned to be there for him in the end, just like I was for Boomer.  Luckily my 14 year old daughter was home from school that day and I was able to face-time all afternoon and into the evening and be a part of what was happening there, even if Dante may not have known it.

My dad was able to get Dante outside during the afternoon by holding up Dante’s back end.  It was a beautiful sunny day and Dante rested on the grass smelling the breeze and taking in all the love from my three kids, dad, and husband.  It was very teary, sweet, strange, and horrible.   At one point Dante actually got up, and I wondered what that was all about.  Then, at 5 pm, the vet arrived and we all felt sick.  Upon seeing strangers walk into the yard, Dante got up to check them out.  Almost immediately the vet said, “this looks like vestibular disease“.  “V” what?  He explained it was a condition affecting balance, like vertigo, the effects of which would lessen over the coming days.  We were all so shocked.  Here we were prepared to say goodbye to him and now it seemed we didn’t have to.  It honestly took me an hour to process this.  I went to bed at 2am feeling a whole lot better.  The rest of my trip was a mixed bag because I was in beautiful Portugal with my mother and all I wanted to do was go home.

You’ll be happy to know that 2 weeks after his episode, Dante is walking like he was before – slowly, but still walking.  I know our time together has to come to an end eventually, and I wait for that sign from him that he’s ready to go.  But for now, I am treasuring his lovely presence and his big brown eyes.  And he’s back out in the studio helping me make my dog breed pottery – by which I mean that he’s supervising my progress from his studio bed….in between naps.

Since Dante’s episode with vestibular disease, I’ve learned of two people I know well who’s pets have had this same condition, and one them had it around the same time as Dante.  So it must not be that uncommon but it was sure a new one on me.

Wishing you and your pets much health and love.

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Shepherds Grove Studio Goes Solar

sky-sunny-clouds-cloudy

My ceramic studio is attached to our family’s home and I love the convenience of being able to wander out to the studio anytime I want to work on my dog pottery.  The combination of our household and studio energy costs/consumption was a bit excessive so my husband and I began to think about solar.

If you’d asked me years ago if one could generate enough solar in our often foggy and overcast coastal town, I would have said no.  But after friends and neighbors started putting up solar, and reporting that the solar production was really good, we looked into it.  Our solar panels went up in July and, now that they’ve run for more than a month, we’re seeing really good output such that our electric consumption is negative.  Pretty darn cool.

I love the idea of my pottery being fired from the sun that hits our roof.  Plus, solar fits with my goals of wanting to run my studio as cleanly and efficiently as possible.  I already recycle most of my scrap clay, keep my water usage to a minimum, and use non-toxic materials to make my dog breed pottery.  The big test will come over the next couple months when holiday shopping drives my firing frequency to its peak.  It will be really interesting to compare last years bill with this years.

Until next time,

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My German Shepherd Turned 13 Today!


Dante, my very sweet and handsome boy, turned 13 today. This is quite an accomplishment for big breeds such as German Shepherds . Our last German Shepherd, Boomer (another great friend) was with us for just about 10 years. So I feel very blessed that Dante is still gracing our lives with his presence.

Dante’s in pretty good health, for the most part.  His backend is on the weak side and he’s a little stiff. There are times when his back legs seem to be out of his control and he finds himself doing the splits. But we’re still walking twice a day, very slowly, but still walking. And even at that very slow pace, it’s nice to be out with my dear friend early in the morning and in the evening. 

Dante’s  such a good guy and still gets excited about car rides, going to the lake (which we will be doing this weekend for Labor Day), his food, going for walks – watch out if he sees a cat because then he’s like a two-year-old.  Let me just clarify, I love kitties but Dante’s has never warmed to them. 

We will be celebrating tonight with a doggy birthday cake and some gifts for my very special boy. I love you Dante ❤️

Shepherds Grove Featured on “Barking Backward” Blog

Ok, so I’m not proud to admit this, but 2 months have passed since my last blog post, though I had written a couple drafts.   I’m especially ashamed that I didn’t publish the one I’m about to tell you about because it was such an honor for me, and the fact that I didn’t share this experience when it happened might suggest otherwise.  But that’s really not the case.  The truth is, sometimes my creative business has me going in multiple directions that I don’t always navigate well.  And BAM, before I know it, two months have passed.  But now I would like to share what happened.

A customer, Mr. Jameson Parker, who ordered one of my dog breed mugs during the 2016 holiday season, followed up by email and confirmed a suspicion I had about selling my work online.  He indicated that when he purchased the mug for Christmas, he wasn’t sure what it would really be like.  Ok, I thought, that’s only natural.  When you buy something online, how can you really know if it’s going to meet your expectations?  This is a challenge for all folks selling their handmade items online and something I need to address to help my customers.  If any of you have any thoughts on this, I’d love some comments.

Any how, after receiving the one item and liking it, Jameson ordered a few more pieces of my dog breed pottery and then surprised me with a request to interview me for his blog.  I rushed over to his blog, Barking Backward, to read it and spent a long time there.  His writing style is a pleasure to read and the content is interesting, varying from nature to politics, book reviews, guns, artisan made, Hollywood, and pretty much any darn thing he wants to discuss (as he told me himself, though he might have used a different word for darn).

Jameson is an avid writer.  He writes novels, magazine articles, and his blog posts (his blog posts, unlike mine, are consistent and reliable).  And what was really fun to find out was that he is the Jameson Parker that starred in one of my favorite TV shows, Simon and Simon.  I’ll admit I got a little giddy when I found that out – I’m allowed to be a little star-struck, right?

During the phone interview, Jameson asked questions about my craft, how I got into it, where I live, and other things that you can read in his “The Artisans: Shepherd’s Grove” blog post.  We also discussed his dogs – two Australian Shepherds named Bear and Daisy Mae and a Cardigan Corgi named Lola.  It’s very clear from talking with him, and reading his blog, that he adores them very much.  I guess that’s pretty much what you’d expect from customer’s who buy pottery made for dog lovers, but I love when I get to hear  stories about my customer’s dogs.  Anyway, the interview was really like having a conversation with an old friend, talking about our lives and our dogs.  It was pretty darn cool.

I send my heartfelt (and somewhat belated) thank you to Jameson for featuring my studio on his blog and helping spread my reach.  His thoughtfulness and beautiful words are much appreciated and I will remember the experience very fondly.

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Bernese Mountain Dog – Dog of the Month

I’ve been wanting to add the Bernese Mountain Dog to my list of dog breeds for quite a while.  I’m always struck by how beautiful these dogs are – their coloring is rich and coat so luscious. I had the privilege, years ago, to make friends with a Bernese Mountain Dog.  He was friendly and sweet, probably the most relaxed dog I’ve ever met.

The Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the mountains of Switzerland, mainly around the city of Berne.  It was kept mostly as a farm dog – a companion animal and watchdog for the farmer and his family.  It was also used to pull carts to deliver the products of farmers who could not afford  a draft horse, or whose farms were too small to require one.   Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs are still companion animals and farm dogs, are used as therapy dogs, and they compete in draft competitions,  tracking, obedience, and even agility.

I will post a picture of my Bernese Mountain Dog design when I get it finished.  I must admit that I’ve fallen slightly behind with my dog breed art and have not yet completed last month’s artwork for the Shiba Inu, though I’m very close.  There are just so many fun things to work on in my business…it’s wonderful to have this type of problem 🙂

 

 

 

May’s Contest Winner

Last month I began a monthly drawing from my list of newsletter subscribers.    This month’s lucky winner is Stan H.  Stan will get to choose between a dog breed wine stopper and dipping dish, decorated with his choice of breed from my list of available dog breeds.  Congratulations Stan!

If you would like to take part in my contest, all you need to do is be a newsletter subscriber and you can sign up by going to shepherds-grove.com and filling in the information in the pop-up window.  See here for complete contest details.

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Preview of Dog Breed Salt and Pepper Shakers

I made a little video of one of my new salt and pepper shakers – this one features a blue merle Australian Shepherd.  I am just beginning to make these so do not have many blanks on hand, but I do have a couple sets for anyone interested in having their favorite breed on a pair.   The price for a pair is $42.   Contact me if you’re interested.

April’s Contest Winner

I began a monthly drawing from my list of newsletter subscribers in April, and I’m very happy to announce that Sharon P. was last month’s winner!  Sharon will receive her choice of either a dog breed wine stopper or ring dish/dipping bowl decorated in the dog of her choice.  Congratulations Sharon!!

If you would like to take part in my contest, all you need to do is be a newsletter subscriber and you can sign up here.  The contest details are on shepherds-grove.com

10 Adorable Pictures of Dogs and Bunnies

Easter is on its way and that got me thinking about bunnies, and how if my German Shepherd, Dante, and the Easter Bunny ever met up in our backyard, the Easter Bunny might never come back.   But here are some dogs that get along beautifully with bunnies, as I suspect Dante would if properly introduced.

1.  Corgi and Bunny

Corgi and Bunny

Source: Nadya Kulagina Photography 500px.com

2. Pomeranian and Bunny

Pomeranian and Bunny

Souce: Instagram @chiara.nalon

3.  Golden Retriever and Bunny

Source:  Dailybunny.org

4.  Shiba Inu and Bunny Instagram

Shiba Inu and Rabbit

Source: Instagram @microcoffeesafari

5. Sheltie and Bunny

Sheltie-and-Rabbit

Source: Daan Franken, Flickr

6. German Shepherd with Bunnies

German Shepherd and Bunnies

Source: forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk

7.  Australian Shepherd and Bunny

Australian Shepherd and Rabbit

Source: Instagram @happy_aussie

8.  Boston Terrier and Bunny Litter

9.  Saint Bernard and Bunny

Saint Bernard and Bunny

Source: Warren Photographic

10. Bull Dog and Bunny

Bulldong and Bunny

Source: Instagram @francis_langlais

I hope you’ve enjoyed the cuteness.  Have a great day!

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p.s.  If you’d like to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, I invite you to head over to shepherds-grove.com and enter your information in the pop-up window.  My newsletter will inform you about new designs, products, and promotions, and you’ll automatically be entered into my monthly Newsletter Contest For Dog Lovers, just by being on my email list!

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Shiba Inu – Dog Of The Month

Shiba Inu - Dog of the Month at Shepherds Grove

I chose the Shiba Inu for my Dog of the Month because it’s just so “foxy” and adorable.  I have a friend who has a Shiba, and I am taken with just how intelligent and dignified her dog is – she’s not one to really frolic or roll over for a belly rub, but she is inquisitive and kind.    As always, when I choose a dog to work on, I get to learn a little more about the breed.

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Spitz dog breeds in Japan and is considered the oldest breed, according to the AKC.  They’re agile and compact and have very keen senses, which made them excellent hunting dogs that could easily navigate the steep hills in the mountainous regions of Japan from whence the originated.  The Shiba ancestors that were brought down from the mountains to more populated areas in Japan were courser looking and larger boned than today’s very elegant Shibas.  WWII brought near extinction of the breed and there were three bloodlines remaining.  It is from these bloodlines that the modern Shiba has evolved.

Well, I can’t wait to have Shiba Inu gifts among my dog lover pottery.  I’ll post my finished design when I get it done.

Warmest regards,

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p.s.  Join my email list and you’ll receive a 20% off coupon on your first purchase of handmade dog lover gifts from my website!

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