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

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 🙂

Whippet – Dog of the Week

Whippet Design from
Whippets –  gentle, friendly, lively, intelligent, affectionate and quiet.

I had a request for Whippet mug and am very happy to add them to my list of dog breed designs.  Whippets are lithe graceful dogs with a motor that seems at odds with their fragile looks – they are the fastest dogs for their size and can reach speeds of 35 mpg.  I like this quote about Whippets in “Narrow Dog to Carcassonne” by Terry Darlington: “They are very thin.  On top they are velvet and underneath they are bald.  They are warm and smell of buttered toast.  They love every living creature to a rapture unless you are small and furry.”

The Whippet looks similar to the greyhound but is smaller and has different proportioned body and head.  The breed was originally used for catching rabbits and ratting in the mining areas of Northern England, and was not much seen outside that area prior to the Industrial Revolution. Hare coursing was a pastime enjoyed by peasants who owned Whippets.  The breed was also a trusty sidekick for poachers, being adept as they are at catching small furry game.  The Industrial Revolution brought people and their dogs into industrialized areas and thus into the awareness of other people.

In the 1800’s, Exhibiting dogs became popular among the upper classes in the Western world, so new dog breeds were sought after and registered.  Whippets were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1871 and then three years later by the Kennel Club in England.  By the early 1900’s, showing and racing Whippets was being enjoyed by members of high society in Western Europe and America.  Today Whippets are still raced but they are also very popular companion animals.   They are also at home on the agility course, fly ball course, and the show ring.

Completely unrelated to the dog breed is the song that pops into my head whenever I say the word “Whippet” – Remember the song “Whip it” by Devo, from the 80’s?  Well, I’ve been singing that song to myself all week as I’ve been working on this design.  It was a fun time in my life, so I’ve wholly enjoyed having the song stuck in my head.  And I’m very happy to include this lively breed in my line-up.

Collie – Dog of the Week



My Dog of the Week is the Collie (Rough Collie).  I recently had a customer ask if I had a Collie design, but I sadly had to say “no”.  I have made Collie items in the past, when I was hand painting all of my designs, so I do have a place to start.  And I’m surprised I have not added them yet, since I am already making gifts with the Collie’s cousin, the Sheltie, and my Sheltie gifts have been very popular. Further, as you’ll read below, I have a very personal reason for loving this breed. So I’m very happy to be adding the Collie to my line-up.

The Collie is known for its elegant good looks.  They were a favorite breed of Queen Victoria. Then later, Hollywood discovered the breed and produced Lassie, resulting in the breed’s international recognition and popularity. Most Collies today come from lines that have not been required to work for generations, but many still display ability and inclination for herding.  Collies often compete in AKC sanctioned herding trials with Shetland Sheepdogs, Welsh Corgis, German Shepherds and the other herding breeds that are not often used in farm fields today.  And, the American Working Collie Association promotes the use of Collies for herding, carting, and a multitude of other uses. Collies of today perform other types of work stemming from their gentleness and sweet temperament – they make excellent therapy dogs, companions for the handicapped, and search and rescue dogs.  Collies are easy to train, safe with, and extremely protective of, children, and make good watchdogs.

My own childhood experience with them was one of acceptance and kindness.  During a visit to my Grandparent’s house, my brother, who was 1 year older and, during the middle school years, not always nice to me, was picking on me for some reason that I don’t remember (thankfully we’re very close now).  What I do remember is that I was angry at him.  On that particular day, I couldn’t find anywhere to go in my grandparent’s house or yard that offered enough escape from my brother.  So I hurled myself over the wall into the neighbor’s yard, where I knew two Collies lived.  I didn’t give any thought to the fact I was entering their yard uninvited, or whether the people were home.  I landed and was greeted by two gentle giants that soothed my frazzled mind.  I just sat with them, stroking their long fur, and absorbing all of the understanding that they offered.  I stayed as long as I could and regained enough peace of mind to go back to my grandparents house. “Cuddled up with the Collies” is a good place to go in my mind, even now if things get tough.  I look forward to sharing my Collie design later this week.

Just a reminder, if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive a coupon for 10% of your next purchase from the Shepherds Grove website.



Dog of the Week – West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terrier
Photo by Claire Zimmerman

I am keeping true to my word that I’ll be adding a new dog breed every week, though sometimes it’s challenging.  I like having this goal and intend to keep with it, though I will make exceptions for vacations, like next week when I go to Tahoe with my family.  So no “Dog of the Week” next week.

I chose West Highland Terriers for this week because, well,  they’re adorable.  Also, my  neighbor down the street has one, so there’s inspiration close by if I need it.

I’ll post a picture of my Westie artwork at the end of the week.  I’m running test tiles this week of my Border Collie design, and the Miniature Schnauzer design (from last week) to check that the fired colors look good.  Then I’ll be able to add the artwork to mugs and make dog mugs – the funnest part 🙂  And by the way, if any of you see my finished designs and have some constructive criticism, I readily welcome it.  Thanks!

Just a reminder, new subscribers to the Shepherds Grove Monthly Newsletter receive a 10% off coupon.

Have a wonderful week!

New Miniature Schnauzer Design

I have been at work on my Miniature Schnauzer design and I think I’m close.  This version is one type of puppy cut with the hair on the legs short and short facial furnishings (we just call it a beard in people-speak).  I will likely make a second version that is more of the traditional Schnauzer clip, with short hair on the back and sides and longer hair on the legs.  It think this pup will look excellent on my dog breed sugar bowls and creamers!
Miniature Schnauzer design by Shepherds Grove.

Tomorrow I will announce the next “Dog of the Week”.  But now that I’ve done my artwork for the day, I’m off to wash Mr. Dante, and ohhhhh…is he gonna love that!

Miniature Schnauzer – The Dog of the Week!

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 9.47.40 AM
Photo from

This week’s “Dog of the Week” is the Miniature Schnauzer.  I’m excited to see its cute little face staring back at me from one of my dog mugs.  Are you a Miniature Schnauzer owner?  If so, tell me about your dog on Facebook – go to where this blog post is on the Shepherds Grove Facebook Page and reply about your pup.  The first person to reply about their Miniature Schnauzer will receive a 50% off coupon from my website.

For those of you who don’t win the above coupon, and would like to save a little your next purchase from Shepherds Grove, sign up for my Monthly Newsletter.  Once you do, you’ll be sent a coupon for 10% off. My newsletter only comes out once per month, so you won’t be bombarded.  Of course, when you place an order, there will be correspondence pertaining to the order, but that’s only good business 🙂  Feel free to share this email with everyone who you think might be interested in signing up and saving!

I’ll post my Miniature Schnauzer artwork later this week.  Have a great Monday!


New Border Collie Design

I have finished my Border Collie Design, at least the black and white version.  I’ll be adding a red and white and a blue merle Border Collie eventually.  I will probably do some minor changes before I make my Border Collie Gifts, though I might not be able to wait.BorderjpgRGB

I completed a Dutch Shepherd mug from the design I drew last week, though I made some modifications to the snout from the first draft of my artwork and Dutch Shepherd Gifts are now available on my website.   I also completed designs for a red merle Australian Shepherd and a black and rust Doberman Pinscher and made mugs for these as well.  It was a very productive week!  Now you can find these in my Australian Shepherd Gifts and Doberman Pinscher Gifts on my website.

Image 2

Image 1Image

I will announce this weeks “dog of the week” tomorrow.  It is one that I’ve received more than a couple requests for.  Stay tuned.



Dog of the Week – Border Collie

Photo from

The dog breed design that I’ve selected to work on this week is the Border Collie.  Actually, I can’t believe I don’t have one among my designs yet.  I have hand-painted them in the past for customers, and have received several requests for them.

Border Collies are beautiful dogs with loads of character.  My friend Karen has a tricolor, and one of her favorite things to do is guard her kitty (a live cat, not a toy).  She’ll spend hours in the the cat room just lounging around and making sure her cat is ok.  Such devotion.  That’s the thing I’ve noticed about his breed is that it is very focused.  That’s what makes them such great herding dogs.  My in-laws got raised sheep for a time and got an older working Border Collie – Tyson was his name – and man, was he intense.  He’d go in and round up those sheep in no time….until he found out that my in-laws were softies, then he figured out, even faster, how to round up the throw pillows and blankets and have a nap by the wood stove.  We couldn’t blame him, he’d been working for 8 years under a very “firm” owner (to say it kindly) and was treated nicely by my in-laws.  He naturally figured his work was done, and so it was.

I will spend some time on the drawing and get the finished, or almost finished, version up by the weekend.  Sometimes I get them done and then find I need to revise them, after I’ve had some time away from them.    I cant wait to have my artwork done so I can make some Border Collie mugs!

Have a great week!