Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from the crazy dog!

I'm a little late for many of you (my cousin in the Land of Oz welcomed in the New Year like 11 hours ago), but we just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your friendship and support in 2012 and wish you all the best in the New Year!

Bella's ready:

I wish I could take credit for setting this shot up but it's all Bella...

Crazy, lazy, spoiled dog.

Just waiting for that ball to drop so we can go to bed.

Happy New Year, friends! 
You made 2012 wonderful for us.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pet Blogger Gift Exchange - Rescued Insanity

About a month ago, Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes did what she does best and came up with a wonderful, giving and creative idea for the holidays: the Pet Blogger Gift Exchange.

Knowing that what we bloggers really need and appreciate is a little bit of social media love and cheer, Pamela offered folks the opportunity to be paired with another blogger on whom we would shower attention for the holidays.

The pairings were random but I seriously questioned that when I learned of my own pairing: Kristine and Shiva from Rescued Insanity!

I know many people wish they'd gotten matched with Kristine and Shiva for this event and I'm sure they'd have lots of funny, thoughtful and wonderful things to say. I hope I don't disappoint.

Because, while Kristine writes an awesome blog and I have a lot of things to say about that, the biggest reason I was so excited to be matched with her is to tell the world what she has done for the health and life of my dog.

You see, long before I had a blog, I had a Twitter account. And I started following a few people - dog people. I didn't even know what blogs were but the people I followed followed other people and they said those people wrote lots of good stuff about dogs so I started following them, too.

Soon, I was following lots of people and reading their "blogs".

I read a lot but I wasn't quite bold enough to comment on any of these "blogs". But I listened. I learned. And one of the folks I learned a lot from was @shivathedog (aka Rescued Insanity.)

Twitter actually helped me through a difficult time when I felt kind of adrift with Bella, unsure of what to do to help her. We were afraid to tell our 'real life' friends and no one we knew was really familiar with actually implementing fearful/anxious dog protocols.

And then I saw this:

"I asked the advice of friends and family. No one understood. No one was able to offer anything I hadn’t already thought of by myself." -- Supporting Insanity

Talk about finally finding someone who understood!

Kristine and Shiva were a living, breathing, tangible model of what could be. And while Shiva's never had the aggression issues that Bella had, the underlying issues were the same: too much anxiety, too much energy and much too smart for her own good. The treatment would also be similar: exercise, expectations, patience, persistence and perseverance.

Reading Kristine's account of working with Shiva gave me hope. And often made me laugh. Her honesty in speaking of Shiva's issues and both the success and failure they've faced together along the way made me feel much less alone and so much more confident that maybe we could actually do this, too.

And most importantly, as you will all soon learn in Bella's story, it was via Rescued Insanity that I first learned how agility can be used to help a fearful dog.

But what about the blog? Oh, the blog, the blog!

If there are one or two of you left who aren't already following Kristine and Shiva, let me give you a quick primer as to why you should:

  • Kristine is totally honest and will make you will laugh and think, get mad and inspired with every post. (Sometimes in the SAME post.)
  • You will learn about clicker training. And not just with Shiva, Kristine is even training her cat!
  • Kristine participates in just about every event and challenge that gets thrown at bloggers - there is no one more devoted.
  • Of course, there's Shiva - the prettiest little dog in Nova Scotia.
  • There are also the Shivie awards - Last year, Kristine switched up the honors and gave the award to bloggers who have gone above and beyond to help their crazy dogs. It is a great way to give a little encouragement to someone who has been trying so hard when rewards are often slow to come.
  • Supporting Insanity - Kristine also offers a means for folks with crazy dogs to ask for and receive advice, information, instruction, encouragement and guidance from folks in the community who have been there before. Every time I hear Kristine wonder whether or not she's giving enough back to this blogging community, I have to laugh and think of this. How could she even question it?

And on top of all that, Kristine works a full-time job, spends oodles of time training her dog (and her cat!), participates in agility, and is a staff writer for Be the Change for Animals.

So, about that social media love?

Kristine and I are already connected on Triberr so tweeting her posts wasn't going to be much of an example of "sharing the social media love". One of the things I did instead was set up a Pinterest board of some of my favorite posts.

I've included a few more links here for those of you who aren't already familiar with Rescued Insanity. Have a quick look at some of what you've been missing.

My favorite five:
  1. A mostly likely inappropriate rant -- Hardly inappropriate, Kristine takes a look at how breed and size play with our perceptions of 'dangerous' dogs.
  2. Stop. Just stop. -- A reminder that a little kindness goes much further than judgement.
  3. Shiva: 1, Human: 0 -- Even Kristine's "practically husband" is not immune to Shiva's antics. (This one had me crying with laughter and commiseration.)
  4. It seemed like a good idea at the time -- Of separation anxiety, crates and caves.
  5. Stray dog syndrome -- "Food, glorious food!"
And because I just couldn't stop at five, here are a few more faves:
  1. Shiva Handling 101 -- The "art" and science of handling a crazy dog.
  2. What would Patricia McConnell Do? -- Dog training super heroes.
  3. Dog agility blues -- Some of the ups and downs of canine agility.

But, while there are many reasons I admire Kristine - from her writing style, her humor and wit to her constant self-deprecation while the very definition of over-achiever - it really all pales in comparison when you realize that her efforts helped to heal the life of a dog (both hers and mine).

You can find Kristine and Shiva on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, too. I hope if Rescued Insanity isn't already on your reading list, you'll swing by and give a look. Once you do, I'm sure you'll be hooked.

I mean, really, how could you not fall in love with this dog and her awesome family?

Photos used by permission from Rescued Insanity.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WW 71 - I got a duck

What'd you get?

Hey friends, also, if you happened to miss it, my sister had to help her beautiful boy, Thor, cross the bridge this weekend. We are all very sad but I'm collecting comments to make a keepsake for her if you want to drop over and offer a word of condolence. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bella gets a video message from Santa....

PS - If the video doesn't work for you here, you can watch it on YouTube.

PPS - You can get a video from Santa customized for your child at Portable North Pole. They're free! (Although you have to pay if you want to have an HD-quality copy to keep.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Good night, sweet prince

It is with heavy heart I share the news that my sister and her family had to help their beloved Thor cross over the bridge last night.

Thor was 8 years old and his illness came on suddenly and dramatically. They discovered last night that he had a tumor near his heart and it had ruptured filling him with blood.

He died peacefully in the arms of his family and surrounded by their love.

Thor was the biggest, dopiest, sweetest goofball I have ever had the pleasure to know. He was a leaner and a cuddler who wanted nothing more than a pat on the head and a pillow to snuggle on.

Thor made an appearance or two here on the blog. I thought for sure he would make many more in time...

From my sister, Donna: "He is already deeply missed."

He is indeed.

He was so little once...

And such a good boy.

Taking on the big dogs...

And then he was the big dog.

"Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

My sister is a regular visitor here so she will see any messages of condolence you care to leave. But I will also gather them up into a card to give to her as a keepsake. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordy-ish Wednesday 70 - The Christmas card edition

First, Bella is still slamming us on the Christmas card count thanks to the Blogville card exchange:

(Click for a better view of the cards.)

But for our friends out in the blogosphere who didn't participate in the exchange, we thought you'd get a chuckle out of the cards we sent to the folks who did:

(We sent one in red as well but I thought the black showed up best online.)

And finally, this is the "formal" card that went out to family and friends this year:

Good girl, Bella, good girl.

Bella was a real trooper posing for the cards this year. We're going to continue to work with her and see how far we can take it.

We had a blast participating in the exchange. We met a bunch of new friends and looked forward every day to see what would come in the mail for Bella next. Thanks for welcoming us into this community.

We're going to be pretty 'content-light' for the next week but we've got pictures and some video planned. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday surrounded by beauty and wrapped in the loving arms of family and friends, both two-footed and four-.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeing beautiful...

We really wanted and planned to participate in today's "{This Moment} See Beautiful" blog hop sponsored by our beautiful friend Sugar, the Golden Retriever.

This event happens every month but is particularly special this month because Sugar and her Mom are generously donating $1 for every post entered in the hop (up to $100) to St Anne’s Center The Lantern House: Pet Area.

But in light of today's tragic events in our neighbor state of Connecticut, I wasn't sure I was going to have anything to offer. My heart is heavy and sadness threatens to overwhelm.

And yet, while it is hard to see beauty on as dark a day as today, there are always glimpses of hope:

From the courageous hearts of the teachers who sheltered the children to the outpouring of condolences and solidarity from people around the world who grieve with the families of a small New England town, there is beauty in the human spirit.

Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the shooting in Newtown, CT, tonight.

Here's a beautiful hope:

"Peace on earth... can it be?"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas photo-shoot outtakes #2

Bella LOVED dressing up for her Christmas photo-shoot. Just look...

I was going to caption these but really, I think she speaks for herself. ;)

PeeS - In case you missed it, be sure to enter our Pawalla goody box giveaway that started yesterday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pawalla Holiday Giveaway!

Following on the heels of our first ever giveaway here on Bringing up Bella, we sure are in the holiday giveaway spirit. And our friends over at Pawalla are helping us make that happen here again.

See, they wrote me last week asking if I'd like three (3!!) Pawalla boxes to give away to 3 lucky winners? And all I have to do is host the giveaway? Well tie me up and call me Shirley! (Translation: Heck, yeah, I'm in!)

So here's the deal:

Back in July, we did a review of Pawalla, a new company offering pet 'goody boxes' that come monthly to your door stuffed with a fair amount of high quality treats, food and toys your dog or cat is sure to love. (Except my crazy dog who turns her nose up consistently at Moose antlers, but I digress.)

We were impressed with the service and even signed up to get a box monthly for a while. Partly because Bella is ridiculously spoiled and partly so I could monitor the quality of the box over time since I wrote a review endorsing the product. (Yes, I know, I'm a little obsessive.)

As is to be expected, the first box is chock full of goodies it would cost you 3 times as much to purchase at retail. And yes, over time, the quantity of product sent in each package has decreased - just a little bit.

Photo from Pawalla's web site.

But the quality of the product is always excellent. I have checked out the dog treats and food every month to make sure I'm not giving Bella cheap products from China and Pawalla has passed the test every time. So kudos.

They've also added a feature on their site now where you can purchase some of the products you get in the box. That's a nice touch because a lot of these products are from smaller, boutique-like companies that you can't find widely available elsewhere.

Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a review. It's supposed to be a Holiday Giveaway! So, let's get on with it, shall we?

All the rep at Pawalla asked was that folks who wanted to participate in the giveaway "Like" their page on Facebook. So that's the only piece of the Rafflecopter you must complete to enter. All the other stuff is gravy but gets you extra entries in the contest. You can tweet about the contest every day to earn even more points.

The giveaway is only scheduled for a week so don't delay.

Good luck. Hope it's fun. And if you win, your dog or cat (whichever box you choose) will not be disappointed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Pawalla originally gave me a free box to review their services. I have received nothing in compensation for this giveaway - I'm just thrilled to be able to host it for you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Follow up Friday

As we take our first foray into Heart Like a Dog's "Follow-up Friday" Blog Hop, we want to thank Miss Jodi for inviting us to join in the fun.

The idea is that sometimes you just want to 'follow-up' on something you posted earlier in the week or maybe forgot to mention or think needs clarification based on some of the comments you've received. I think I'm working with all of that here today.

'Tis the season - Author's note

I feel terrible that I forgot to include Haopee from My Dogs Love Me for their gracious gift to us this season. See, they won a contest over at Dogs N Paws but because the prize could only be shipped to the US, they gave us their prize instead! I offered to have it mailed to them in the Philippines but they wouldn't hear of it.

So Bella has a nice new reflective collar. It arrived yesterday and I haven't gotten a picture of it yet but it looks great. And I promise, Haopee, I'll send a picture right over as soon as I get it. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. And thank you Dogs N Paws for running the contest! What a fabulous bunch this community is.

'Tis the season - Update
More cards! Bella is just embarrassing us with her plethora of Christmas card goodness. Her total (including online greetings): 34!

The humans in the household DOUBLED our stash and now are at a whopping total of (wait for it...): 2

Review Tuesday: Printcopia Printcopia - Update
While the post was written last week, our first giveaway contest ended this week and we have a winner: Congratulations to Hilary from Feng Shui Canines! We hope you enjoy your new 8x10 Canvas Print. And thanks to everyone who participated.
Christmas photo-shoot outtakes #1 - Author's note
Thanks for all the kind words about the pictures. Bella was such a trooper for our first real prop-filled photo-shoot. It's her mom who has so much to learn. But at least I finally figured out how to get the lighting in this room of the house to work.

Czizo from Life with Beagle noted that her Lulu would have no interest in participating. So allow me let you in on my very secret secret: Treats. Lots and lots of high-value treats.

Thanks everyone for dropping by. Hope you're having a lovely Friday and have lots of wonderful fun planned for the weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas photo-shoot outtakes #1

She was trying so hard to be good...

Uh, Bella, the Santa hat is supposed to go on your head...

This had so much potential if only she'd kept the costume on.


I admire her determination in trying to keep the hat from slipping off.

But she's just such a goof.

Monday, December 3, 2012

'Tis the season

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post for this important announcement:

I need to take to a moment to share my appreciation for the truly good hearts and gentle souls of our blogging community. I am ever in awe of how much you people do and how quick you are to reach out to offer a kind word, a helping hand or simple gesture to brighten another's day.

  1. First, I've been participating in the 2012 Blogville Christmas card exchange and have been so enjoying all the lovely cards and creativity from blog friends old and new.

    If I were the type to actually keep track of these things, I might have noticed that Bella has received 21 holiday greetings whereas Bella's mom and dad have received, as of this posting, exactly 1.


  2. Next, we have joined in the fun of Something Wagging This Way Comes' Pet Blogger Gift Exchange. The 'gift' is simply to offer some social media love to the blogger with whom you've been randomly paired. A word of encouragement, a tweet of appreciation, a share on StumbleUpon or Facebook.

    Can I even tell you how lovely an idea I think this is?

    And then, on top of it just being a fabulous idea in theory, I got paired with a blogger who has left a real and tangible mark on Bella's life, not just the life of the blog - Kristine and Shiva from Rescued Insanity.

    I'll be writing a post specifically about how awesome I think they are but the long story short is that it was Kristine's blog and her efforts to reign in Shiva and all her anxiety that set us on the path of pursuing agility with Bella.

    Just knowing it was attainable is a gift they gave us which I will never be able to repay.

  3. Finally, a little over a week ago, I received an email noting that our friends over at Roo's Doins had sent us a gift. Since I was part of the Christmas card exchange noted above and some of those cards were coming to us electronically, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't fully appreciate this gift right away.

    See, I thought Roo had sent us a Christmas card because they were on the Exchange list with us. It wasn't until I had time to stop and explore this weekend, after having finally signed and addressed all our Exchange envelopes, that I realized Roo wasn't participating in the Exchange.

    They had just sent us this gift out of the kindness of their hearts.

    And what they sent us was a Jacquie Lawson Alpine Advent Calendar.

    I admit it, I am a sucker for the holidays - I adore the music, the lights, the greenery and decorations, the holiday spirit and the hope for peace on earth.

    This advent calendar offers a new little activity every day from visiting the post office to see what new gifts and goodies have arrived to building a snowman and decorating your very own Christmas tree. It was such a sweet treat and so unexpected and every day I look forward to seeing what's next to come and think fondly of our friends at Roo's Doins who so graciously sent it to us.

    Your friendship is a gift beyond measure.

And on top of all of that there are the daily efforts everyone in this community puts in to getting around to each other's blog to tweet posts and share content on StumbleUpon and Facebook, leaving comments and helping bring fans and attention. Every day. (Even when some of us haven't been able to get out to your blogs in far too long.)

What a lovely community I stumbled into when I stepped into this role of 'pet blogger'. I really had no idea but I am ever so grateful.

I know that not all my readers celebrate Christmas so I wish you happiness in the season of holidays you do celebrate. Be it Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or Winter Solstice, I hope you are surrounded by love, family and peace this holiday season. And if perhaps you aren't, know that if you're here, you are within our circle of care.

Thank you for sharing your time and your holidays with us.

One last thing: There is something about Blogville I am reminded of whenever I hear this:

"If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask."

Thank you for welcoming us into your cyber-family.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Black & White Sunday: Elvis impersonator

Love the lip, Bella.

Oh and if you're grooving on that funky lighting and soft-focus effect we're sporting today, thank Bella for it. She nose-smeared my camera lens half-way through the shoot and my eyes are so bad, I didn't even notice until I loaded the pictures to my computer. Thanks, Boo. Grr. Arg.

PS - Have you entered the giveaway for the 8x10 canvas print by PRINTCOPIA? Contest ends Monday at midnight so what are you waiting for?!