We were passing through the small downtown of New Smyrna beach, Florida when we spotted a pet boutique. We also like to stop in and support mom&pop stores like this and we were pleasantly surprised by how many things this boutique got right. We understand that the appeal of a store is purely subjective, so we'll define how we're looking at it to give you some context. We tend to look at looks filtered through thirty plus years of working in the animal industry and our understanding of shoppers who have companion animals. Not lets take a look at what Silly Willie's is up to.
The products they carried were high quality, higher end, better made and sourced USA. For example, Lola can blow through toys like a highly-caffeinated Jack Russell Terrier, ripping them apart and removing the squeaky within minutes. However, if you look at the picture of Lola with her toy that we bought at Silly Willie's, two days later it's still intact! Amazing!
Food - We're not familiar with Life's Abundance animal products, but we've used their human products and they're solid and have a good reputation. Silly Willie's also carries Fromm - an excellent food, family owned and very high standards, good ingredients and they don't sell to everyone. They support the smaller business owners and don't sell to corporate owned businesses. They also carried a quality skin, coat and ear product line as well. In addition, they sold CBD oil from Pet Releaf, which supplies highly regarded CDB products.
The layout of the store is smart - U shaped, products in the middle and on the side. Busy, not cluttered. Nice assortment of products, treats, toys, leashes and collars. Where they really stand out from other pet Boutiques is that they sell stuff for humans that love animals.
Many boutiques drop the ball on this front and are leaving money on the table, so to speak. Silly Willie's had Tee shirts, magnets, mugs, and more. Companion animal lovers and people shopping for them don't always want to just buy gifts for the dog - they want to include the humans in the fun as well.
If you are a pet lover and are passing through New Syrna Beach, stop in at Silly-Willies (Silly-Willies.com) and do some shopping! You'll be glad you did.
My wife and I were a bit clueless about the dangers of heat when we moved to Florida. We knew that it was hot, but we did not realize how quickly an average summer day can become life-threatening for a pet.
Due to the extreme heat in Florida, there are precautions you must take to prevent jeopardizing the life of your pet. Hot sand, heat buildup in the interior of a car, tossing a dog in the back of a pickup and even an innocent walk all present dangerous risks to your pet.
Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to heat issues. Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs – in short, any squishy faced dog – will have problems in the heat. The smooshie faced breeds are known as “brachycephalic” dogs. Their short noses can’t move in air fast enough nor can they shed heat quickly which means they overheat more quickly than other breeds.
That being said, all breeds are susceptible to heat stroke and related illnesses. Use caution when considering what type of activity you want your dog to participate in and what the potential risks are. The must have check list is to always have cool, not cold, water available. Shade should be readily accessible. And always be aware of the effects of the heat on your dogs and monitor them - it's easy to assume they are feeling just like we do - but they are very different. Wearing a fur coat doesn't help either. Be safe and enjoy the outdoors with your companion animals!
Lola is a very high energy bulldog, and her activity level is even more striking when you factor in that she is on the North side of 9 years old. For those who have never had an English bully, they're wonderful family members that generally have their mind made up on what they're going to do. And they also break your heart because they do not live long, mostly from all the crappy genetic legacy that keeps being bred into them (breathing problems, skin issues, bad knees, hips, etc). We were lucky that Mr. Bishi lived to 12.5, which is an awesome run. Maggie and Big Tuna both passed at 8.5 and 8, respectively.
Lol would play around 6 to 7 hours a day if one were so inclined ton engage with her. And along with playing come the vocals that only a bully can make. Those of you who share your lives with a bully breed will understand this. Bulldogs sometimes make sounds that would never be mistaken for a dog. The sound is similar to what we imagine an alien or alien - human hybrid might utter. I believe that is the sound they're going for.
I've posted a short clip so you get an idea of the demanding nature of Lola's rants. Wouldn't trade her for the world, though.
Joie at the Humane Society's Mutt March
At the Humane Society's Mutt March, we had the pleasure of having our booth right beside The Stuart Fence company. We had a chance to chat with Chet Richmond, president of Stuart Fence and later, we had a chance to chat with Julie and meet Joie, their rescue dog.
Stuart Fence has been in business since 2003 and they install all types of fences and gates for both residential and commercial properties. But their is another layer to what they do and who they are. Turns out both Chet and Julie are passionate about dogs - and when people are really passionate about animals, it tells you a lot about their character and what kind of people they are. As Julie stated, "Not having animals in our lives would mean we'd be missing out of love without the animals to share it with."
Julie's favorite breed is "rescued Cocker Spaniel" and, as it turns out, she is also involved in rescue work. "After we adopted Jypsie from a rescue in 2016, I got involved with transporting furbabies for rescues. Transports take the animals from shelters or owner surrenders and bring them to rescue or fosters...or even sometimes approved adopters."
Now, we all know how fostering typically works. You foster an rescue with the intention of finding it a home, and before you know it, you have another family member. Julie also ended up fostering as well. "We also foster to help get them reay for "furever" homes, as some have no idea what it is like to be safe, loved, and in a home."
Dogs have also been in Julie and Chet's lives. In fact, when Julie showed up later, she had with her Joie, a rescue they adopted from Palm Beach County Animal Control in June of 2009. Joie couldn't have looked happier and I suspect, so are Chet and Julie. Chet and Julie can be reached at 772-288-1151 or you can visit stuartfence.com.
We participated in the Humane Society's of the Treasure Coast's annual Mutt March and had an awesome time! Not only was this the first exposure of our designs to a whole new crowd, but we also met a lot of very nice and good hearted people. Needless to say, we will be back next year.
As far as the reception we received, people really appreciated that our designs weren't anything like they've ever seen. They admired the messages, and equally as important, we had a number of people who excitedly told us that they loved the artwork because it was so unique. As an artist, I can't tell you how much it means to see someone walk up, scan a design and a smile washes over their face. Even if they don't buy the product, it put a smile on their face because they found some meaning to it. We appreciate the comments, the patronage and support!
We'll let you know which show we will be vendors at next.
Laura Pierpont, an artist and photographer who hails from Tennessee, shot some awesome product shots for Keep Wagging and we are thrilled with the results! She has a knack for capturing a moment that is so much more than just the moment. Hayley, the model and writer, was just as awesome! While playing with Lola, our spirited bully (click here to see the ultimate Lola I want to play now" picture ) even took a piece of her thumb, accident of course, and Hayley still soldiered on through the shoot. I suspect we'll hear about it from her agent though. And here's the icing on the cake - In addition to both of them being a serious artists, they are genuinely super nice. I don't know if that's a special category of niceness, but it should be for them. We'd adopt them if we could. You can check out Laura's work here:
A special thank you to all the wonderful people who stopped by our booth and supported us, shared a story about their companion animals, and laughed with us. Thanks to your support, we were able to make donations to the ASPCA and Joyful Heart Foundation.
Random observations - I loved hearing someone discuss how a rescue pot-belly pig helped them through some hard times and bonded with her; Meeting a dog with my never favorite dog name: Mayhem. And of course the girl with the tail. We're looking forward to next years show, seeing some old friends, and rolling out some new designs.
If you spend any time around us at shows or read our blogs, you'll quickly come to the realization that a companion animals health is critically important and a responsibility that some owners may not realize how daunting a task it is to maintain. Case in point, the bully breeds, i.e. English Bulldogs, Pugs, Bull Mastiffs, French Bulldogs and any other smoosh faced dogs. The first step, way before you even consider buying a dog from a breeder, is to understand what you are getting into. Once you realize the full breadth of problems and issues associated with pure bred dogs and that most likely you'll be shelling out some serious cash each month to maintain their health, you might think twice about getting a dog because you like the look of it. If there is one thing you'll learn from these tremendously informative articles, it's that mutts make the healthiest family members.
We highly recommend reading this article on Bulldog health. It's quite an eye-opener and really underscores the issues this breed faces and offers an idea of what we need to do to prevent these problems in the future. Another powerful article on dog health issues is one that appeared in the Guardian. It's a wonderful article that helps to illustrate issues that many breeds face when bad breeders get involved. You can read the article here.
Medicating your dog's eyes doesn't have to be torture for either of you. After watching my husband waltzing across the kitchen trying to pry Lola's open only to coat the side of her face with her eye drops, I decided it was time to pass along some knowledge. And after thirty years of working with dogs, I've seen all sorts of techniques. I'm going to show you how to do this quickly and easy.
"What I love is that they aren't really pretty...they're disheveled...you're not emphasizing their looks or their size."
I really didn't have that high-minded criticism of current advertising's long running obsession with thin people and what is perceived as beautiful. But beauty comes in all shapes and forms and it is indeed in the eye of the beholder. That is what continues to impress with our best selling design - everyone see's something a bit differently in it. I had never considered drawing something ugly or pretty - I just draw and it comes out. So I was impressed by this observation and happy that it resonated with someone and made a statement to them. Others immediately see the parallels on a bigger level - that humans are one big family, brown, black, Asian, Latino ad infinitum. And that many of us have four-leggeds companions that we also consider family. But there is also something else that bonds us together, other than our love of companion animals, and having families that are as diverse as the next. It's that we're all after the same things - we want to work, be productive, be loved and love, be happy, and have a frickin' awesome time until we leave the face of this earth.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.