Downtown Eureka with Zeus

I haven’t given a pup-date in a while, so I thought I would do so and give you a little insight into my life with our pup.  Zeus, our German Shepherd,  is now one year and a few months old.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned his reactivity – if I haven’t, it’s partly because of the shame/embarrassment (or whatever you want to call it) that I’ve felt around it.  I’ve come to realize, through a lot of reading and studying on the issue, that owners of reactive dogs tend to feel this way.  Let’s face it, it is embarrassing (to say the least) when your dog is lunging, barking and looking incredibly menacing as another dog walks by, or sometimes just a person.

You think about the judgements that people might be making about you and your dog, like “why would you have such a dog?” ” can’t you contol your own dog” “what a monster”.  It can be very self-deflating and make me want to hide away.  But that is no good for me, and especially bad for Zues.  It’s made me a braver person because I have to go into situations that might be scary and cause Zeus to react.   But, my goal is that Zues’s fun sweet nature is what people come to see in him, rather than his fire, so we’ve been working really hard and often.

We work at parks, in the neighborhood, outside of busy grocery stores, schools,  downtown, etc.  His explosions are getting less and less, though they do happen, and sometimes it still gets me down.  But I keep up the work anyway.   After all of my experience with his outbursts, I now find it easier to see them as behavior that needs some work, rather than the behavior defining who he is forever.  I’ve also gotten better and just focusing on him rather than the people around me – it’s me and him in a sort of training bubble moving along with people passing by outside.

This morning was beautiful here so we went to Old Town Eureka to walk the boardwalk and sidewalks.  Our town is very pretty and my appreciation grows the more time I spend downtown.  There are beautiful old buildings and lots of activity as business owners and fishermen bustle to get things ready for the day.  It was sunny and cool with no wind, so the glassy water was reflecting the boats docked at Woodly Island Marina, across from the boardwalk.

As we walked, I had Zeus working on his heeling, sitting, recalls, leave-it (when he wants to chase birds, sniff things, looks too long at something), look (where he turns to look into my eyes regardless of what’s around or walking by), place (where I point to someplace like a picnic table or ledge and he gets on it and stays until he’s released).

The photo above is him practicing “place” on the bow end of a boat sculpture on the boardwalk, and across the water is the Woodly Island Marina.  Then he practiced “place” on the wall of a high cement planter on the boardwalk.   I’m just so darn proud of him for how hard he tries and for his successes.  It took him a couple days to get “place” down, but now he just gets on whatever I tell him to.  That’s not to say he’d be calm and stay there if a dog walked by, but that a the goal we are working toward.  Zeus deserves good belly rub and extra cookie for his solid work this morning 🙂

Have a great day,



Pupdate – Zeus 6 Months Old


Zeus, our German Shepherd puppy, is growing soooo fast.  He’s just about 6 months and lost the last of his needle sharp baby teeth yesterday – we’re all thrilled about that as he is so much calmer now that the pain of cutting teeth is over.

Zeus was pretty fiery as a little guy but is becoming such a sweetie – look at that face!  I am enjoying the heck out of him.  We take lots of long walks to burn off energy and do many training bouts throughout the day.  He’s a super fast learner and so fun to work with.

It’s not all fun and games – he’s not a huge fan of other dogs and wants to chase anything that moves.  He has pretty strong prey drive.  So I go out everyday and look for situations that might set him off (not hard to find) and work at a distance to desensitize him.  He has great focus and it goes pretty well most of the time.  But when he does erupt, I collect him up, shake it off, and try again.  We always end on a good note and I come away feeling so grateful for my training buddy.

That’s my pupdate.  All the best to you and yours,


Pupdate – Zeus 4 1/2 Months


Zeus, our German Shepherd puppy, is now 4 and a half months old and in two puppy classes.  He needs a lot of socialization around other dogs.  So besides the puppy classes, I get him out a couple times a day where he can see dogs.  Our favorite place is Sequoia Park, where they filmed a portion of the upcoming movie “A Wrinkle in Time”.  I’m excited to see how they used the park in the movie.  Anyway, we walk and jog under the giant trees, though today and yesterday we had a jump a couple smaller ones blown down in a wind storm.  We always run into dogs and people taking their morning stroll.  Great way to start the day.



Lightning Strikes at Shepherds Grove

Our new German Shepherd Puppy Zeus

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the holidays were filled with the things you love and that your year ahead is filled with promise.  I’m grateful to say that both things are true for me.  In November I had to say goodbye to Dante and it was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever had to do.  As sad as it was, myself and family knew that we would want another German Shepherd in our lives.  And, as Dante and Boomer have connections in high places, I had them to go to work finding us a puppy.

I did not expect to have a puppy in our home three weeks later.  His name is Zeus and he came into our lives like lightning and captured our hearts just as fast.  He’s now just about 12 weeks old, sweet and feisty with sharp baby needle teeth.  He’s also incredibly smart and already loves to work.  And boy does he have an amazing food drive!  The best part is that when he looks at you with his soul-piercing eyes, any troubles melt away.   Our home feels happy once again.

In other news, the winner of my December contest was Melody – Congratulations!  She will soon be receiving a set of dog breed salt and pepper shakers.  I’ll be releasing the details of my January contest soon so check back!

All the best to you!


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.


Hug your dogs for me,



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

Best witches (ha ha),





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.




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 🙂




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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Spring Cleaning Your Dog’s Belongings

German Shepherd Spring Cleaning
Dante’s Thoughts on Spring Cleaning – “Is this really necessary, Mom?”
I’m feeling that urge to clean so it must be Spring Cleaning time.  Funny how the urge only comes around once a year.  Anyhow, we’ve had such a rainy winter and spring (so far) here in Eureka, and Dante’s carried a lot of the yard inside on his paws and legs, even though I wipe him down after every outing.  Time to deep clean some things, and, as I found out by doing a little research, I should be doing some of these things more often.
  1. Dog Bowl.  I do wash Dante’s bowl, but perhaps not as often or as thoroughly as is recommended.  The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) found dog bowls to be one of the top 10 germiest locations in a house, according to their 2011 study.  I guess I can understand why the a dog’s bowl might be so germ hotbed, but maybe it aids in our overall germ resistance and so isn’t as bad as they make it out to be?  Or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better for not washing Dante’s bowl as well as I should.  Their suggestion is daily sanitizing in the dishwasher or washing by hand using soapy water.  If hand washing the bowls,  you should do a weekly soaking of the bowl in 1:50 mixture of bleach and water for 10 minutes and rinse well.  Hmmm…who knew?
  2. Bedding.  Luckily this is fairly easy, especially if you pick a sunny day.  Bedding can be vacuumed to remove excess hair, or shaken outside.  Thankfully most beds have zip off covers that can be removed and washed – just unzip and toss in your machine.  If you’re really into deep cleaning, use the disinfect cycle on your washing machine.   I put my covers in the dryer on low and remove when they feel just a little damp and then air dry them the rest of the way so there’s no shrinking.  But if it’s a nice sunny day, and you can wait, hang them up and dry them outside.  While the covers are washing and drying (and if it’s sunny) put the pad inserts outside to bathe in the fresh air.  Once everything is completely dry, reassemble and go take a nap on your dog’s bed before he messes it up again.  How often to wash?  Once a month would be ideal to keep them nice and is not too frequent as to make you crazy.
  3. Toys.  Dante’s favorite toys are the soft ones with squeakers – these last 1-3 days before they’ve been disemboweled of stuffing and squeaker so that all that remains are floppy lifeless rags that he likes even more.  There’s not much to wash here, so I eventually just discard them after a few weeks.  But for those of you whose dog’s cherish their stuffies such that they remain intact, these can be washed in your machine in cool water and dried on low heat. You can put them inside a pillow case for washing and drying if you’re worried about the fabric pilling or decorative features falling off.  However, since the toy has probably spent a lot of time in your dog’s mouth, I doubt you have this level of concern, but hey, I thought I’d mention it.  I would suggest using unscented, or at least less soap than you would for your clothing, and no fabric softener, so that your dog doesn’t grab his freshly cleaned toy in his mouth, spit it out, and then give you that “what the heck is this?” look.  As for hard toys, wash in a small amount of dish washing liquid and water, or put through the dishwasher like I always did with my kids chewy toys.  You can also use half water half vinegar and rinse well.  How often?  I suppose you could go nuts and wash weekly,  but really it’s up to you and your tolerance.  It’s just fine if you wash them only they look dirty or when you’re expecting small children in your home who may handle them.  Maybe for you (and me for sure), just every Spring!

In closing, I hope that Spring inspires you, whether or not there’s any cleaning involved!



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