“My Dog Loves Me” Contest Update

The winner of the “My Dog Loves Me”  contest in June was Amanda. A big CONGRATULATIONS to her and her Boxers!!  She submitted some very compelling photos and one went on to the final round and received the most public votes. Here is the winning picture.

As you can see, her dogs (only one seen here) are very supportive and have been giving their love abundantly through a challenging situation.  Our dogs are so encouraging – we’re so lucky to have them in our lives.

The prize for the winner was a mug with the picture of their choice. The mug was just completed this week and here it is.

Here you can see Amanda’s three Boxers – aren’t they sweet? I love how nicely their sitting there while the picture was taken.  The contest was a very fun experience and I will be repeating it again and I’ll give plenty of notice when I do.

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July’s Dog of the Month


July’s Dog of the Month is the Saint Bernard, and was chosen because a customer requested it.  So if you’re looking for a breed that isn’t yet on my list, then request it!🙂

The history of the Saint Bernard is surrounded in mystery and legend and makes an excellent read.  Here are some highlights.  Passing Romans brought dogs into Switzerland; dogs mated with local dogs and created the stock from which St. Bernards stem.  Monks used these dogs at their Hospice in the St. Bernard Pass (between Italy and Switzerland) during the 16th and 17th centuries. The breed eventually got its name from the hospice from which it originated (1880 was when it was officially designated as St. Bernard)  however it was referred to as the “Hospice Dog”and “Sacred Dog” prior to that.  Many tales of rescue ensued from the Hospice; fires happened that obscure the record of these dogs at the Hospice.  Severe weather from 1816- 1818 killed many of the Hospice strains.  A similar situation occurred in 1830, and inbreeding and disease exacerbated the weakening of their breed.  Monks outcrossed the Hospice Dogs with Newfoundlands and this revitalized the breed, while keeping the Hospice Dog type and characteristics.  This also produced the first long hair variety, as prior to 1830 they were all short haired.  That’s the breed history in a very hasty nutshell.  There is much more information about the dedicated breeders involved along the way that I don’t have room for here.  It really is amazing how these very old dog breeds come about.

I will be making a couple of coat varieties.  And there is always the option to have the artwork customized to reflect your dog’s markings, if my coat variations aren’t quite right for your dog.  Just select the “custom coat” option on the item page (there is a small art fee for this option).  I will post my finished design soon, do some color testing, and then you’ll be able to purchase Saint Bernard gifts here!

Enjoy the rest of your July!






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June’s Dog of the Month – Alaskan Klee Kai


I will be changing the “Dog of the week” to “Dog of the Month”.  I was very ambitious to take on a new dog design every week, though I am happy about my efforts and the drawings they produced.  The design work is, for me, the most time consuming part of what I do, and I feel that a new drawing every month allows me to give the time I need to the artwork.

June’s Dog of the Month is the Alaskan Klee Kai.  What?  Never heard of it?  I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with it until a customer asked if I did custom work because her dog breed was not on my website list and it is hard to find items with her dog breed on them.  I told her that I happily add new breeds at the request of customers.  She sent me a picture of her cute pup and told me that it was an Alaskan Klee Kai.   I immediately took the internet to find out all about it.

Klee Kai is the Eskimo term for “little dog.”  The breed was developed beginning in the early 1970’s as a miniature version of the Alaskan Husky, a popular breed for racing and sledding in Alaska, though not recognize by the AKC.  The Klee Kai is not recognized by the AKC either, but spayed and neutered dogs can be entered in AKC Partners programs and Companion events.

So what is the Klee Kai like? The miniature version is from 13-15″ and the standard from 15″-17″. They have a distinct facial mask and can come in any color except all white.  They are quick learners and very active – like Huskies, they love to run.  Here are some of the activities I found the Alaskan Klee Kai involved in: agility, freestyle, dock diving, weight pull, therapy and service dogs, carting, rally obedience, nose work.  From my understanding, the Alaskan Klee Kai is one-family oriented and are very reserved around strangers, which is a challenge because they are so cute and people are drawn to them.  However, like any population, there are some very social members among the Alaskan Klee Kai too, as must be the case if they are used as therapy and service dogs.

I was very happy to be introduced to this breed and to get to learn more about it.  I will post my finished Alaskan Klee Kai artwork when I finish it.  And soon after that, you’ll be able to find it among the other dog pottery on the Shepherds Grove website.




P.S.  I am currently running a contest on Instagram – #mydoglovesmecontest  Look at any of my most recent pictures to see how to enter.  Good luck!!

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Enter My Instagram Dog Contest!!


Enter My Instagram Dog Contest!

I’m running a contest on Instagram to celebrate the love between dogs and their favorite people/person, and I invite you to enter!

Here’s how:

  • Post a picture to your Instagram account of your dog loving you!
  • Caption why you think your dog loves you the most.
  • Tag @shepherds_grove in the caption.
  • Use #mydoglovesmecontest in the caption.

The top 10 finalists will be chosen for the final round on June 10.  Public voting on the final 10 will run from June 10 – June 20.

The winner will receive a custom mug with the winning photo on it.

Good luck!!


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Dog of The Week – Shetland Sheepdog

Ok, so this post is two weeks late and a little misleading.   The lateness stems from a big pottery project I’m working on and a recent vacation.  The misleading part is that my title suggests that I am adding Shetland Sheepdogs to my list of dog breeds, but really I completed an update to my current design.  For years I have had Shelties in my line-up and have been making Sheltie Gifts.  I love this breed as it was the dog of my childhood – there were three in my parents home over the years.  The artwork I did of this breed years ago has been popular, and I get many orders for it.  But a request came in to capture the breed standard a little bit better.  This brings up a point that comes up over an over again.  There are dogs within a breed that are just lovely, but that aren’t the breed standard.  Our Shelties were a little too large compared with the standard but they were awesome.  My art tries to reflect the breed standard, especially my more current additions.  In the past,  I would find a reference picture that looked good to me and go from there, and this was the case with my original Sheltie design.  I saw a picture that looked like the dogs I grew up with and drew my design based on it.  My new design has less height in the body and the legs and a slightly larger head.  I also added a bi-black version and bi-blue (no tan).   I will be changing the options on my website to include the new design and will remove the old design, though I will keep it in my files for customers who request it.


Original Sheltie Design

New Sable Sheltie Design - Shepherds Grove

New Sable Sheltie Design – Shepherds Grove

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English Cocker Spaniel – Dog of the Week


Blue Roan English Cocker Spaniel Design

I have added the English Cocker Spaniel at a customer’s request. I love adding new breeds because it gives me the opportunity to learn more about them. The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest types of land spaniels known, descending from the original spaniels of Spain (The Complete Dog Book, 19th Ed.). Once the breed was recognized as simply a variety of Cocker Spaniel, but not its own breed. In 1935, the English Cocker Spaniel Club or America was formed to promote the breed, and to stop the interbreeding between American and English varieties, in order to maintain distinct types. In 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a distinct breed.

The breed was developed for and is still used for hunting woodcock or pheasant and for flushing partridge. It will also retrieve duck or goose.  Being a bird dog at heart, the English Cocker Spaniel does well in field events and working tests. The breed is also adept at agility (check out this video of Eileen winning the Agility Winter Cup 2014/2015), flyball, rally and tracking. The breed is also a popular companion animal, being described as merry and alert.

The English Cocker Spaniel has a luscious coat that beckons to be touched. It requires regular grooming to keep it manageable. Like with American Cocker Spaniels, there are a variety of colors that fall into parti colors (multi) or solid colors. The solid colors include black, liver and red. The red can be a light sandy gold to a deep red, almost the color of an Irish Setter. And the solid black and liver can have tan points (tan areas on the eyebrows, muzzle, front of the legs, feet and beneath the tail). These would then be called black and tan, or liver and tan.

The parti colors include any of the solid colors just mentioned but can either be open marked (solid white with solid patches of other colors), roaned (where white is mixed with another color, like salt and pepper), or ticked (where the white areas are ticked with another color – small spots). There are different names for the roaned varieties, such as blue roan (if it’s salt and pepper), orange roan (a lighter red and white), lemon roan (if the coat’s is a blend of lighter red and white).

The coat color I chose was the blue roan (salt and pepper), though I will add more varieties as they are requested, or as I have time.  I will be test firing this design this week, and possibly adjusting the colors.  I’m excited (just as I am any time I add a new design) to see some finished English Cocker Spaniel mugs🙂

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Belgian Tervuren – Dog of the Week



Belgian Tervuren Design

My Dog of the Week (actually for last week) is the Belgian Tervuren. I was not able to get this design done last week – the lush coat took a while.  Some designs just take longer than others.  Anyhow, the request for this breed came from a customer who has ordered some pottery to be used as prizes for a Weimaraner show.  This Weimaraner club has been a customer for years and I love that every year there is at least one new breed that they add.  You may wonder why a Weimaraner group would need a Tervuren design.  It is a gift for one of the judges.  I think it’s really cool that they make a good effort to make show their judges appreciation.

The Belgian Tervuren is one type of Belgian Shepherd – the Malinois, and Belgian Sheepdog (which the AKC calls the Groenendael) are the others recognized by the AKC.  The Tervuren descends from the stock that created the Belgian Sheepdog.  For ages it was used for guarding and herding sheep.  But in the late 19th Century,  more modern farming techniques, roads, fences, railways and automobiles put them out of work.  The Tervuren, and other similar herding breeds were on the verge of extinction.  A group of breeders got together and decided on the varieties to keep – the Tervuren was one of these.   The breed was recognized in America in 1918, and at that time, their numbers were low here and abroad.  The numbers continued to drop during The Great Depression and World War II.  After the war, efforts were made to revive the breed, and it received greater acceptance.  Today (2016) it is 98th on the AKC’s list of registered dog breeds.

The Belgian Tervuren is very trainable and has good concentration, making it a natural at agility, guarding, competitive obedience, retrieving, herding, police work, search and rescue, Schutzhund, and tracking.  It does require a lot of exercise and a job to do to remain happy, so it is not  the perfect dog for busy families on the go.  But a great working dog it is, and I have a lot of respect for that, having competed in Schutzhund many years ago.

I am very happy to add the Belgian Tervuren to my list.  I recall a woman who visited my booth at a local artisans fair years ago.  At that point I was hand painting all of my dog designs on my pottery, and she saw my German Shepherd items.  She told me it was hard to find things with Tervurens on them, so she bought a Shepherd sugar bowl because it was somewhat close to a Tervuren.  For the next year’s fair, knowing I’d see her there, I made sure I painted her a Tervuren mug.  She was thrilled to see her breed on it, and it made me so glad to see her surprised and happy.  There is still some test firing to do, but it wont be long before the Tervuren is available on the Shepherds Grove website.

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