Category Archives: Family

Peace, Love and Paws

peace, love and paws

I finally delivered the last element of my mom’s Mother’s Day gift yesterday.

Although she probably wishes her daughter was more together and punctual about such things, I think she loves her present as much as I do.

The handmade mosaic stepping stone is an original piece by my friend Lezlie Ferguson, co-owner of The Canine Scrub and the artist behind Doors, Windows, Walls and More.

I saw some of Lezlie’s stones when Scooby the elderpin and I visited the Scrub. They are pretty and perfect for people who love dogs and gardening.

My mom is absolutely one of those people, and I hope she decides to keep her mosaic stone in the rock garden near the entrance of her house, where everyone who visits will get to see it.

mosaic stepping stone in garden

My aunt, whose birthday was a little earlier in May, got a mosaic stepping stone from me, too. I hope she likes it enough to forgive my tardiness!

I heart paws mosaic stepping stone

I picked up the custom stones on Saturday during the Tails ‘N Trails dog walk and fundraiser for the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln. For a taste of what happened at that event, check out the video below. Sadly, the elderpin was not caught by the news team’s camera!

News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Happy Mother’s Day

The greatest love is a mother's. Then a dog's. Then a sweetheart's. Polish proverb.

Happy Mother’s Day, ya’ll. :)

Why We Woke Up at 4 a.m. Last Saturday

Scooby toof

Exactly one week ago, I was collapsing into the bed in my old teenage lair.

After an incredibly long Saturday, the bedroom where I feel safer and sleep more soundly than anywhere else in the world (aka my dad’s house) was exactly where I wanted to be.

Scooby the elderpin and I had risen that day at 4 a.m., hitting the road well before sunrise so that we could represent Beer Paws three hours away at Hefflinger Dog Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

In the week leading up to the event, I kept going back and forth with myself trying to decide what I should do with Scooby while I was out of town. After exhausting all options, including boarding him at the vet in case he had some kind of health attack, I had finally just taken my mother’s advice and loaded him up in the car with me.

The event was Beer Paws’ first in Omaha. We were invited by someone who had visited our booth in February at the I Love My Dog Expo in Lincoln.

She promised that her event, a fundraiser for the Omaha Dog Park Advocates, would be just as much fun.

She was right!

Although the wind viciously whipped our hair and merchandise around all day, Bark in the Park at Hefflinger Park was a fantastic experience.

From a vendor’s perspective, I can honestly say I have never participated in an event with such a well-organized and legitimately helpful crew of volunteers. That really made the beginning and end of the day go much more smoothly.

The crowd was pretty wonderful, too.

We met some really cool people and dogs, including Giovanni the Great Dane and Buck the labradoodle, who left the event wearing leather collars that my dad customized for them while they waited.

Giovanni

Buck

Lots of pups, like handsome Hugo,  also got their first taste of Beer Paws Beer Biscuits during the event.

Hugo

When their parents asked where to get more of my products locally in Omaha, I said:

“Tell your favorite pet businesses you want them to start carrying Beer Paws.”

I hope they do.

While it was super fun, between the wind and the crowd, the experience of working the booth was a bit chaotic at times. At one point, I even fell flat on the ground because I tripped over a corgi!

dad and scooby

Although we tried to keep Scooby toward the back of the space, I didn’t see him relax much at all through the day.

I did see him squat several times for a pee, though. Those moments made me glad the event was on grass.

What we did the next day didn’t happen on grass. Find out about it in my next post!

 

Wordless Wednesday: My Favorite Guys

I spent last Saturday with these two characters. It was a great day.
dad and scooby

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”
–Sydney Jeanne Seward

Good Times at the I Love My Dog Expo

I wish I could spend every weekend doing what I did last Saturday and Sunday.

That is: petting dogs, talking to dog lovers, introducing people and pups to my brand and hanging out with my dad.

Dad in booth

A few weeks back, my old man and my dear friend Shawn encouraged me to plan a trip to my college town for the I Love My Dog Expo. The annual event is presented by Domesti-PUPS, a group that provides service dogs to people who need them around Lincoln, Nebraska, and beyond.

Dog lovers from all around the region attend to see obedience and agility trials, interact with pet-based businesses and, in some cases, adopt new dogs.

The Beer Paws booth was located right next to Paws Up Nebraska. We got to be there for the adoption of Odie, a dog who might not have made his love connection if not for the expo.

Odie

Because I have strong ties to Nebraska but don’t live there, the event gave me a chance to meet the people behind some local brands I’ve heard a lot about.

The Canine Scrub is a wildly popular self-serve dog wash that many of my Nebraska dog friends frequent. One of the owners is also a painter. (She did the doberman silhouette in the photo below that now lives in my house!)

Canine Scrub

The Green Spot is an Omaha boutique with a focus on natural, healthy and local products for pets.

Beyond the Dish Bakery is a purveyor of wholesome treats for dogs. Although my pups had been gifted Beyond the Dish biscuits in the past, this was the first time I got to meet the baker herself.

Beyond the Dish

Of course, it was great fun for me to be able to engage directly with people interested in the products I make and sell. I love answering customer questions, learning about their dogs and seeing to which items they are most drawn.

Buttells

The bottle cap-studded collars my dad has been making got a lot of people’s attention. He even customized a few for people right on the spot. It made me so happy to see the pride he took in his work – and people’s excitement at being able to deck out their drinking buddy in a totally unique collar.

golden retriever

Boo the mastiff

The expo marked the introduction of beer for dogs to the Beer Paws offering.

That concept alone got a lot of tongues (and tails) wagging. Not really beer at all, our brew is a mixture of wholesome broth and glucosamine and other minerals to support joint health, with a subtle malt flavoring.

Nebraska and Beer Paws

We didn’t offer samples of the beer at the event – too messy – but we did have a yappy hour, with free samples of Beer Paws Beer Biscuits and a special deal on bottle openers for collars and leashes.

People seemed to get a kick out of “yappy hour,” and pictures posted on Facebook tell me some have been repeating it at home this week.

At the end of two days of constant standing during the expo, I have to say my dogs were barking.

But I left Lincoln floating on a cloud and feeling closer than ever to my dad, thrilled to have made some new friends and profoundly grateful to all of the people who are with me on this little endeavor called Beer Paws.

I can’t wait for the next big show.

Every Beer Paws purchase supports my small business and animal rescue. A portion of all proceeds are donated to rescue groups and shelters. This month’s featured rescue partner is Paws Up Nebraska. Click here to shop now.

Reflecting on a Really Weird Year

Looking back is what people do at the end of a year.

We review in our minds the awesome, awful and weird things (because that’s the kind of stuff that sticks out in our memories) we’ve done or that have happened to us over the past 12 months.

wpid-IMG_20130609_111536.jpg

Maybe we try to make sense of it all, or maybe we just catalog the incidents as individual souvenirs from a moment in time. Maybe we even let Facebook or Instagram do this all for us through an automatically generated montage of “significant” posts.

I’m no different than any of you.

The biggest moments of my 2013 have been on a constant loop in my head lately. And I don’t know about you, but for me 2013 was intense.

I really can’t remember another year in my life that has been so extreme.

Because this blog is about a little more than just dogs, if you’ve been following, you know 2013 brought death and disappearance to my human family. The dynamics of my canine pack also changed in an unhappy way.

I am not special for having experienced these things. Everyone on the earth experiences loss.

I can only imagine that they, too, experience it as a series of permanent holes in the heart, dark tunnels you ought to be mindful of exploring too late in the night or even too often during the day.

the lost playmate

And yet, you can’t just forget these loved ones even though you can’t hug them anymore. You have to figure out how to carry them with you, to feel their influence but not their weight.

Because your life, your responsibilities – none of that stops.

In fact, if you are like me, you probably forge ahead while creating more responsibilities for yourself. That’s the other half of the reason my year was so intense.

In 2013, I accomplished things I never expected to do.

I started a business.

I co-founded a non-profit organization that helps save dogs.

And through it all, most miraculously, I got to celebrate another round of holidays with my impossibly ancient and beloved elderpin Scooby.

miniature pinscher with Beer Paws koozie

Cheers to 2014. I don’t know what’s in store, but I’m ready for the new year. Are you?

Thanks for reading this blog, and being part of my life in 2013. The community of kind souls who follow this blog and related social media channels make every day better.

My Holiday Wish List + Two Huge Giveaways {Sponsored Post}

Christmas is almost here, and I have virtually no holiday shopping accomplished.

This is not unusual for me.

golden retriever in reindeer antlersTo be honest, I have barely begun thinking about what I want for myself this holiday season, either, even though Scooby and Luke my Mom and Zach keep asking.

So, to satisfy them as well as Coupons.com, sponsor of today’s post, here are some things I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree this year. (Shocker – most everything relates to the dogs!)

Crystal’s Holiday Wish List

  1. A new winter coat for me and Scooby! Mine got torn last year on a visit to the farm where my dad takes care of elk and bison. Scooby’s ended up in the mouth of some other dog at some point, and now looks all ratty and tattered.
  2. Ceramic food and water dishes for the dogs! We currently use stainless steel bowls, and I hate them. They are noisy, and food sticks to them. Also, I hate drinking water out of stainless steel, and I wonder if the dogs do, too.
  3. A great bit electric mixer. I make a lot of beer biscuits – for my dogs, shelter dogs and my friends’ dogs. Mixing by hand is fun and all, but a electric mixer sure would be swell. (Props to my dad who hooked me up with a rolling pin a few months back when my substitution of an empty beer bottle for one horrified him.)
  4. A deep freeze. I can think of a lot of things, including beer biscuit batter, that I could put in a deep freeze. Currently, our standard freezer is often so full that things, like big bags of biscuit batter, are apt to fall on my foot when I open the door.
  5. Framed and canvas prints of the dogs to put on our walls. Scooby and Luke have each had their photos taken a lot this year, and I haven’t yet gotten any of the pictures printed, much less hung.

p15

 

Now, if only I could get my family members and doggies to publish their holiday wish lists, too, I would be starting this week off under a lot less stress.

Luckily, Coupons.com has some inspiration for us all in the form of holiday gift guides for almost everyone on your list:

Family Gift Guidea

When you check out the guides, be sure to also enter the Coupons.com Holiday Sweepstakes. You could win $500 in e-Gift Cards!

You can also win a $200 Amazon.com gift card by entering the Holiday Blogger Giveaway below.

Just follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget (or follow the link) to enter. You’ll be asked to like pages for a bunch of other great bloggers. Please take a moment to check them out if you can!

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Disclosure: I received compensation from Coupons.com in exchange for writing this post.

Walking a Timberwolf and Other Things I Did at the Farm

Yesterday, I introduced you to my aunt’s new friend, a lost redbone coonhound.

During his stay on her property, he is sure to be very far from lonely.

quarter horses in a barn

Lots of animals live there permanently. And because she runs a pet boarding and grooming service, lots of animals come and go, staying for a short period of time.

For most of the canine residents, life is very different than what my city dogs experience. The outdoor dogs don’t get to lounge in front of the TV, but they are comfortable in runs that are heated in winter. They get out for walks and playtime, and they get plenty of food.

One of my favorite residents of the farm is big Mike.

He looks like a timberwolf, but he is actually supposed to be a Belgian malinois.

Belgian malinois

Mike has been around for quite a few years.

He ended up with my aunt because he went after the calves on the property of his original owner.

He loves to go for a ride in the back of a truck, and he likes people. In fact, I couldn’t believe how patient he was when I helped her clip his toenails.

However, Mike is still not so great with other animals.

He thinks cats make great snacks, and if given the run of the property, he would really upset the horses.

Mike walks with a bit of a limp because one time he did go after the horses, got kicked and needed to a hip replacement.

Even so, I find that I need to hold on tight whenever I walk him. Mike may be slowing down, but he sure is strong.

For the most part, the cats who proliferate on the farm stay away from Mike.

kittens

A litter was born not too long ago, and my aunt has been trying to keep the fluffballs corralled until they get a little bigger.

I won’t lie, I sort of wanted to tuck a dirty, little kitten in my pocket and bring him home, but I didn’t think Luke and Scooby would appreciate that.

However, while I toured the property and walked all of the outdoor dogs, Luke and Scooby did seem to enjoy spying on the cats. Maybe someday…

If you live near Plymouth, Nebraska, and would like a farm kitten, contact me via the form below. 

Help Solve the Mystery of the Wayward Redbone Coonhound

redbone coonhound

What would you do if a handsome young coonhound wandered up to your property and made himself at home amongst your other dogs, cats, chickens, guineas and pot-bellied pig?

If you were my Aunt Sandy, you’d let him stay awhile – in the hopes he can be reunited with his family or get a new home of his own soon.

On a trip to Nebraska over the weekend, her farm was my first stop.

cats on a propane tank

Together, we herded the horde of tiny kittens currently inhabiting her property, clipped the toenails of six different outdoor dogs, tossed hay to the horses and talked to the pig.

A highlight for me was getting to meet the coonhound I had heard so much about.

redbone coonhound howls

If you are familiar with the book Where the Red Fern Grows, this is the kind of dog it’s about.

Redbone Coonhounds were bred for hunting bears, raccoons and mountain lions. They are brave but affectionate and said to make wonderful companions for families, comparable to labrador retrievers but less needy.

My aunt’s coonhound guest fits this description perfectly.

He arrived on her property with a collar but no tags a couple of weeks ago.

So far, in spite of her spreading the news via radio and word-of-mouth, his owners have not surfaced. He is not microchipped, but he is in amazing shape. No fleas, sparkling white teeth and he’s not too skinny.

redbone coonhound

He’s also a real sweetheart.

My aunt mostly keeps him in a large outdoor kennel on her property, but until he started chasing the horses, she said he was content to roam free – but never too far from the house. Unlike some of her other dogs, she says he is gentle with the cats and kittens and also gets along with the other dogs.

You can see him playing a bit with a corgi named Cowgirl in this Instagram video:

Although he sings pretty loud in the video, while I was there, he didn’t make a lot of racket – not a peep through the night. He mostly bayed at me when I went out to play with him. At one point, I sat down on the ground and he sat right in my lap and tilted his head back to give me kisses.

Please help me get the word out about this beautiful dog by sharing his story.

Although he showed up in Plymouth, Nebraska, it is possible the coonhound followed his nose from somewhere far away. If you know anything about this dog, contact me via the form below. If his owner is not found soon, he will be made available for adoption.

A Different Kind of Chew: SmartFillets Review (and a Giveaway)

english bulldog eating smartfillets

Om nom nom.

Rawhide is a great way to give your dog a jaw workout, but it’s not so great for their stomachs.

The traditional, widely available and cheap chew treat is extremely hard for a dog to digest. I’ve heard horror stories of dogs dying from rawhide that got lodged in their intestines. And I’ve personally noticed increased digestion issues around dogs I had in the past who consumed rawhide.

Apparently, rawhide that is dyed and flavored may also contain harmful chemicals.

All signs point to the need for an alternative.

That’s the concept behind the PetMatrix SmartBones® brand.

After finding success with its signature product – affordable chews that look just like rawhide but are a far more digestible, patented alternative – SmartBones now presents SmartFillets.

SmartFillets are vegetable and jerky chews, formulated to last longer than traditional chicken jerky.

I was sent a bag of SmartFillets to review.

SmartFillets jerky chews

I actually offered these treats to my cousin to test on her power chewers – a pair of English bulldogs.

Hells Bells is the bulldog featured at the top of this page. As you can see, she enjoyed her SmartFillets.

My cousin said Hells Bells wasn’t sure about the treats at first, but then she began to chew and worked on each one until it was gone.

Unfortunately, the more finicky Weezer, mother of Hells Bells, reportedly turned her snub nose up at the treats and wasn’t interested in them at all. (Maybe she wanted her jerky to be in the shape of a beer bottle.)

In spite of the rejection by Weezer, my cousin seemed to be in favor of these treats.

smartfillets ingredients

I’m glad my cousin had a mostly positive experience with SmartFillets.

I am certain my golden retriever Luke would have enjoyed them. Because my dogs are older and not power chewers, I do appreciate the fact that SmartFillets are meant to last a little longer than regular chicken jerky but not as long as rawhide. At this point, both of our dogs are old enough that they need treats they can consume in one sitting (unless the treat is a real marrow bone).

Yet, there are a couple of reasons I would be unlikely to purchase SmartFillets on my own.

  1. The ingredients list – although sweet potatoes and chicken come first, most of the other words on the list are rather unpronounceable.
  2. Although produced in a “food grade” facility, these treats appear to be made in China. With all of the controversy around Chinese chicken in recent years, as a general rule we try to avoid it for our pets.

However, the choice of what to feed a pet is up to an individual. My cousin, for example, avoids recalled items but generally doesn’t go all crazy picking out dog treats and food like I do.

There are a lot of reasons to like SmartFillets, including that they are affordable (about $10 for a 10-pack at most online retailers I checked) and contain real meat, rather than a by-product.

What do you think? Would you feed your pets SmartFillets?

If the answer to the second question is yes and you have a U.S. address, then you are invited to enter for a chance to win a bag of SmartFillets for your dog.

Giveaway

Click below for your chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a free bag of treats in exchange for my honest review of SmartFillets. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

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