Category Archives: Family

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.


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.


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.


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, 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.



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, 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 Holiday Sweepstakes. You could win $500 in e-Gift Cards!

You can also win a $200 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!

Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received compensation from 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.


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.


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.

This Poodle Feels the Same Way I Do

poodle looking in mirror

Who’s the prettiest pup of them all?

It’s Monday, but I’m feeling good today.

The weekend was busy but both productive and fun.

My dad came to town. I helped a couple of dogs get into a rescue program. I attended a rock show while supporting MOSH Pit KC and homeless pit bulls.

Most of Sunday I got to spend with my mom, as we celebrated her birthday. The festivities included her and I taking a nice, long drive on a beautiful day in her classic Mustang convertible.

All of these reasons are enough to make me smile as big as that poodle in the dogtique picture.

But there’s also a more direct parallel.

I’m feeling pretty – thanks to some fancy magic performed by my good friend Rusty at Belle Epoque. Take a look, and let me know what you think!

purple hair

Bonus: While the color set, I got to hang out a bit with Rusty’s adorable Chihuahua Tippy, who had come by to say hi to her dad at the end of the day.

long-haired chihuahua

 How was your weekend?


Caption Contest with Weezer the English Beerdog

Remember my cousin’s hard partying bulldog Weezer?

She’s baaaack!

drunk english bulldog

I never get tired of seeing pictures of Weezer and her favorite chew toy that’s shaped like a beer bottle.

Who needs a bottle opener when you have a Bulldog jaw?

Who needs a bottle opener when you have a Bulldog jaw?

Weezer the English Bulldog drinking a beer.

Lap up that brew!

Drunk English Bulldog

Pass out!

A Chance to Win

If you get a kick out of Weezer the English Beerdog, head over to the Beer Paws Facebook page and suggest a caption for the latest shot of her passed out with her bottle – it’s the pinned post.

Around happy hour today (6 p.m. CST), I will randomly select one winner to receive a free Beer Paws button style bottle opener in the color of your choice. (Must be US resident – sorry, international friends!)

Beer Paws 6 pack

What’s your favorite color?

Click here to enter the giveaway.

Winner will be announced on the Beer Paws Facebook page. Good luck!

*This giveaway is not sponsored by or in any way endorsed by Facebook.

Non-Stop Awesome Weekend

Burning the candle at both ends and overstuffing my calendar is just how I roll.

Between a full-time job, running my own business, doting on my dogs, blogging and an active social calendar, I don’t allow myself much down time.

But even by my standards, this past weekend was insane – in a good way.

5 Things I Did Last Weekend

minus the bear

1. Saw one of my all-time favorite bands play – because of my dog.

It helps to know people with power – and pooches with influence. My common-law sister-in-law Bethany scored us free entry to a Minus the Bear concert in Lawrence, Kansas, after name-dropping Scooby the elderpin.


That’s right. My dog is a rock star.

How this happened: Throughout his career of being awesome, Scooby has reported for regular duty at a variety of businesses. As luck would have it, the lord of the tickets at the Granada Theater once worked with the elderpin at a screen printing shop.

Speaking of business, my weekend also included…

2. Launching my Beer Paws products into a new retail location.

Christine Gregory Queen of Paws

Queen of Paws Boutique & Spa, an adorable little business operated by my friend Christine Gregory in Prairie Village, Kansas, now carries Beer Paws. A portion of every Beer Paws sale made at Queen of Paws will be donated to Bark N Blues, one of Christine’s favorite local animal welfare organizations.

I got the Beer Paws to Christine’s shop just in time for her 1st anniversary celebration. I am so proud of this lady for following her dream and working so hard to make it a success!


Unfortunately, I could not attend the party because my weekend was so chock full with other activities like:

3. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. for Strutt with Your Mutt.

strutt with mutt

Last year, I actually ran the 5K at this benefit for Wayside Waifs. This year, I chugged coffee in the vendors’ area (aka the “flealess market”).

Of course, I was there repping Beer Paws. Like at several local pet events recently, I was able to set up shop with Kennel Creek Pet Resort.

reilly and willow

As usual, owner Chris Sailors’ sweet dogs Reilly and Willow attracted a crowd, and together we introduced a lot of new people to our businesses.

As soon as Strutt ended, I had to skedaddle for another very important event…

4. The wedding of former foster dog Minnie‘s forever family.

Minnie wedding

The nuptials were held at the home of the bride’s mom and stepdad, in a small town outside of Jefferson City, Missouri. The setting was as beautiful as the bride and the drive so pleasant I didn’t mind that it took 2.5 hours.

I was ecstatic to be on the very short guestlist for this intimate gathering. I even had a special role to play – helping Minnie perform her role! The pretty little husky mix was the ringbearer!

I should have booked a hotel that night and saved myself some driving. The next day was also spent in this general part of Missouri…

5. Touring the ranch where the Budweiser clydesdales live.

hope clydesdale

On Sunday I got up super early again to hit the road with my family for a special daytrip celebrating my aunt getting through her radiation treatments for breast cancer and also my mom’s upcoming birthday.

Did you know that those big, beautiful horses synonymous with Budweiser beer are bred right here in Missouri? That’s right – they are raised at Warm Springs Ranch outside Boonville. My mom has been crowing about this place for a couple years now, and I have to say she was right. There’s just nothing like getting nuzzled by a 2,000-pound gentle giant.

clydesdale with sandy

How was your weekend?


Playing with Puppies and Kitties at my Hometown Shelter

Counting money is fun.

Especially when you know the greenbacks will be used for positive things – like feeding, sheltering and nurturing homeless pets.

Of course, collecting that kind of money was what my big hometown event – the Duke Days of Summer Beer & Wine Tasting – was all about.

At the end of the night, I tallied up all of the raffle proceeds, straight-up cash donations and the portion of my Beer Paws sales designated for animal welfare. The next morning, I grabbed my grandma, and we headed to the Beatrice Humane Society.

The setting of the animal shelter in my hometown is modest. But it is clean and cheery, with colorful paintings on the walls.

dog wall mural

When we arrived, a volunteer named Brenda – and an adoptable dachshund named Razzy – greeted us.


Razzy also insisted on sitting in my lap the whole time that I was filling out the donation paperwork. It was super hard for me not to take that guy home.

But there were many other pleading faces at the shelter.

Fido has beautiful, heterogenous eyes – one brown and one blue.

blue brown eye

Axel is a sweetie with just three legs.

coon dog

Tex is a just a really big puppy – of the treeing walker coonhound variety.

hound dog

The largest population at the Beatrice Humane Society, however is feline.


I tried to get my grandmother to adopt Cletus.


He was being held in a special area for kitties with sniffles.

There is another room that is just for kittens.

kitten room

One of the kittens, outside of this room, was so tiny he needed to be bottle-fed. That was pretty cool to see.

bottle feeding baby kitten

As always, spending any time at an animal shelter is bittersweet.

I wished I could take them all home – especially Razzy and this Siamese-ish little kitten.

siamese kitten

Fortunately, Brenda assured me that for the animals without serious health or behavior issues, they are safe at the shelter until they find a new home. I am hoping the funds raised from the Duke’s event will help make all of their stays a little more comfortable for a while.

Thanks again to all who supported or participated in my Beatrice event.

If you would like to learn more about the adoptables at the Beatrice Humane Society, click here.






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