Shepherds Grove without a Shepherd

File Dec 05, 2 40 20 PM

Dante and his favorite hedgehog toy. Photo by Adri

I haven’t written this post until now because I found it too difficult to write at the time.  At the beginning of November I sent out my newsletter and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, gave thanks for Dante still being with us after 13 years and 2 months.  I didn’t know at the time that I would be saying goodbye to him 2 weeks later.

Dante was very stoic, never complained even though he was stiff.  He would get up, shake it off and go for a walk, or come out to the studio with me.  He was always eager to just be a part of whatever we were doing.  We gave him medication to help with joint pain and he had a good quality of life but, bit by bit, his dignity was being robbed from him.

The weekend before Dante was put down, he fell and skinned his chin (because his back legs couldn’t support him), he had an accident in the house (this had been happening intermittently for the last 6-8 months), and when I gave him a bath, he couldn’t stand for more than 2-3 seconds.  As he sat there slumped and lathered in shampoo, he had a look on his face like he’d had it.  It was in that brief moment (and after months of deteriorating stability) that I felt the time had come, and I looked at my husband and said the words out loud.  It was excruciating to admit, and wasn’t the first time we’ve gone through this.  Things happened very similarly with our first Shepherd, Boomer.  It’s a horrible decision to have to make, and yet I know it’s the biggest act of mercy a pet owner can bestow.

Dante left us on November 15.  The vet came to our home with his wife and Dante was surrounded by my husband, three kids and myself.  I placed my head on his side and treasured every last heartbeat and breath, silently chanting “I love you”.  And then, he was gone.  It was horribly sad and yet such a beautiful thing to be there all together in his last moment.

We’re all ok.  Not to say there haven’t been rivers of tears cried – that’s all part of the process of letting go.   I know he’s in a good place and in excellent company, and I will be happy to see him again, when it’s time…a long, long time from now.  I sure miss that old gentle friend and will always be thankful for the years we had together, and his unconditional love.

It helps to think that Dante and Boomer are sending me emotional support from afar.  I asked both of them to scout out our next dog for us.  I have no doubt they will find the perfect friend, just as Boomer did with Dante.  Things are already happening in that direction and I’ll post when I know for sure.  For now, I’d like to share a poem that my dear customer Terri sent me.  You may have heard it, but I hadn’t, and it really speaks to the doubt and conflict a pet owner faces when they have to make a the hardest decision.

DogPoem

Hug your dogs for me,

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November Contest

pug sugar bowl and creamer from shepherds-grove.com

You could win a sugar and creamer set!

 

Hello.  I meant to write this post much earlier but was derailed by some emergency kiln repairs which ate up the mid-afternoon.  I believe the problem is fixed and will find out when I fire my glazed pottery load tomorrow.  On to the contest…

The November prize will be a dog breed sugar bowl and dog breed creamer (similar to those pictured above) and the winner will choose from over 40 of my current dog designs.  The sugar bowl and creamer are some of my most popular items and would be a great gift for Christmas for the dog lover in your life – assuming you would want to part with them should you win 🙂

The contest works as follows: click the link below and enter your name and email.  You’ll then be given opportunities to increase your chances of winning by sharing the contest with your friends, i.e., you get more entries when you share on social media and again if your friend (or friends) enter the contest.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Best of luck!

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October Prize Draw Winner

MugsFBPost

The winner of my October prize drawing was Jennifer P.  Congratulations Jennifer!!  She will be receiving two of my handmade dog breed mugs with her choice of breed(s).

I will be announcing the details of my November drawing tomorrow, so check back to see what you could win.

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Happy Halloween

German Shepherd and pumpkin

Photo by Audrey Albertini

Halloween greetings from me and Dante!  It’s a beautiful day here on the North Coast of California – perfect for all of the trick-or-treaters that we’ll be getting tonight.  Hope your Halloween is filled with good fun 🙂

Just a reminder that my contest is ending tonight at 11:00 pm.  There’s still time to enter, so if you would like a chance to win a pair of my dog mugs, click this link and fill out the form http://upvir.al/39453/SGOctoberDraw

Best witches (ha ha),

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October Prize Drawing

Handmade Corgi and Cavalier Spaniel mugs

Win a pair of dog mugs!

Win a Pair of Dog Mugs!

You could win two of my handmade dog breed mugs!  I am running a contest through Halloween and all you have to do to enter is click the link below and enter your name and email. The winner will win two of my dog breed mugs, and can choose from over 40 different breeds.

I encourage you to share this contest with your friends because the more you share, the more entries you receive, and the greater your chances of winning.

Click on this link to enter!! http://upvir.al/39453/SGOctoberDraw

Good luck,

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 🙂