Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Wander: New York Mets Bark In The Park 2014

We want to start off by saying thank you to SITS for making Little Holly's Big World one of this week's featured blogs! Whether you are an old fan or stopping by for the first time, we are so happy to have you here!

Holly and I were so excited to attend this month's Bark In the Park event, hosted by the New York Mets. The major league baseball team hosts three Bark In the Park games each year, where fans can bring their four legged friends to root, root, root for the home team--and take a stroll on the Amazin's very own Citi Field!

Though we are not what one would call "followers" of any kind of sporting event, we are fans of decking ourselves out to attend live games, and this one was no different. In addition to her custom orange Ralph Lauren polo (similar style on sale here), we had a special orange and blue tutu made by Ellie Grace Crafts on Etsy. As usual, Holly was the belle of the ball, and the second she stepped on to the field, she was stopped for an interview on the Jumbotron!
Holly's tutu was a show stopper, so of course she was selected for an interview. As usual, she did most of the talking. 
15 minutes of fame on the Citi Field Jumbotron!
After our moment in the spotlight, we followed the other pooches to our seats. Pups and their parents were seated on the Pepsi Porch, which was equipped with booths from Petco, AvoDerm, Petland Discounts, and Nylabone handing out treats, swag, and coupons to eager passersby. Professional photographers were on the scene snapping pics of stylish pups, and the area was equipped with "Hydration stations" as well as sod covered "relief stations" to attend to the needs of four-legged fans. We were only three rows from the field, and had a great view of the action!
Posing in our seats
Our pawsome view of the field
With the famous Mets "Cowbell Man," a fan and team favorite
(Holly was too concerned about the bell to look excited)
Though Pepsi Porch had a great supply of Nathan's Hot Dogs and of course peanuts and Cracker Jack, we decided to opt for the delicious taco stand on the other side of the stadium. I sat with Holly and snapped a few selfies while my friend ran over to stock up on food and water, since it was very warm for Holly in the direct sun at our seats.
But first...let me take a selfie!
As the game wound down we decided to leave a little early to avoid the heavy crowds for the train and get Holly out of the sun (we did not leave in time for me to avoid getting a gorgeous farmer's tan, though!). As we were on our way out, we spotted a fellow tutu'd pooch, and the two lovely ladies of course had to stop for an Insta-perfect moment!
What's better than one tutu? Two tutus, naturally!
We had a terrific day at Bark in the Park and will definitely be attending future events. I'm so glad we selected the Fall game instead of the ones in the Summer season, since not only were there fewer crowds, but despite the direct sun on our seats, a crisp Fall breeze kept us (and, more importantly, Holly) comfortable and cool.
Jumping for joy. Let's go Mets!
Does your local team host a Bark in the Park? Have you attended? Share your stories below!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Paw-sitively Fabulous: Home Cooking for Newbies with Emma of Queeniechi!

Hello Darlings,

I am so excited to share this post today. As you might know from reading the blog, I have been home cooking for Holly in recent months under the suggestion and supervision of our vet. Since the diet offers more wiggle room than a standard kibble-in-bowl routine, I am always on the lookout for new recipes or foods I might try for Holly. That's why I was so thrilled to meet Emma of Queeniechi through Facebook; as a Chihuahua mama herself, she home cooks for her own animals and also is a professional Canine Chef/Nutritionist who creates bespoke menus for clients based on dietary needs. Knowing that I had a lot of questions when I made the transition to home cooking (and still do), I asked Emma if I could pick her brain for some of her professional expertise. She very kindly agreed, and I hope her answers help those of you thinking about consulting your vet about home cooking consider taking the plunge!

Emma cooking in her fabulous kitchen--check out that wallpaper! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Little Holly's Big World: As I have started my home cooking journey, I have read a lot about supplementing home cooked meals with things such as bone meal in order to make sure they are getting enough calcium and vitamins. Have you found such supplements to be necessary, or are you able to achieve this balance through ingredients alone? 

Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Queeniechi: No, it's not at all necessary to add bone meal or vitamins to a home cooked diet, here's why: I have Home Cooked for my 18 dogs for 10 years, I have never needed to supplement their diet with commercially produced vitamins etc. I practice 'Balance Over Time' much in the same way that we feed ourselves. The practice consists of feeding a wide and varied fresh diet, therefore over time you will eat all the required nutrients. Commercially produced dog food is looking at everything needed in that one meal, even though the dog may not need it in their diet on that particular day. It's a bit like buying a months worth of shopping, and trying to make one meal out of it.

Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: If you do use a supplement, do you have a particular one that you recommend, or one that can be made at home? Since some bone meal can be sourced from China I try to steer clear!!

QC: I don't use commercially produced supplements, however you can make calcium from egg shells, if you have your own organically fed chickens even better. The egg shells must be no older than 5/7 days old and must be organic otherwise they are full of far too many impurities to be of any nutritional value. Here's how: dry the discarded shells in the open air or in low oven, once they seem brittle crush them with a pestle and mortar into a fine powder. This can be added to your dogs main meal 1/8th TSP per 4lbs of body weight. This can be sprinkled on the food directly, however fine the powder is it will still add a grittiness to the food. Fresh Kale is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins and B vitamins. We can add lots of lovely things to our doggies diet, fresh root turmeric, Spirulina, chia, wheatgrass, flax, coconut oil the list is fabulously endless! 

Yummy & sparkles? Even better! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Some food is staged better than I do for myself! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Yum-this looks like a meal I would want to try too! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: Your website includes recipes with green beans, apples, carrots, broccoli, and even parsley! What unconventional ingredients are people most often surprised can be a part of their dog's diet, and what should people avoid?

QC: I think most people are surprised that dogs really like to eat salad, I feed mine hot peppery rocket salad, watercress, baby spinach leaves as a snack.... Just scatter the leaves onto a clean floor and let your dogs forage! Dogs love to forage, my garden has vegetables, herbs and salad leaves so that the dogs can help themselves to. They love to munch on little new shoots and tasty roots, so don't be too hasty to have the perfect lawn or stop your dog foraging when they are at the park, it's their absolute right of passage. I personally believe that we as a society believe that feeding a commercially produced dog food is the best thing to feed your dog, words like BALANCED, COMPLETE & SPECIES APPROPRIATE are the buzz words to make you doubt that anything else can be fed. Commercially produced dog food didn't used to exist and nor did Canine Obesity! I have a comprehensive list of foods,it's best to avoid the amounts and reasons why on my website. Here is a short list of foods to avoid: 

Xylitol (editor's note: this is fake sugar, often found in sugar free products like jam or gum)
Apple pips
Cooked bones
Macadamia nuts
Rhubarb leaves
Yeast dough

Delish and dog-friendly dessert! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: With a full time job and a long commute, it can be daunting to come home and face cooking for yourself, let alone your pup. Do you have a favorite recipe that you can make ahead and freeze for these situations?

QC: My recipes come with bulk cooking guides, it's your choice to cook daily as my mum does, she is retired and has one chihuahua and it's part of her daily routine. I myself have 18 chihuahuas, a family and a busy home so I cook in advance. The recipes will give you, daily, weekly,fortnightly or monthly cooking guides. All of the recipes can be cooked in advance and frozen.

LHBW: Piggybacking off that last question, are there meals that you make for your pups that humans can share as well?

QC: Yes, everything can be shared with your pup, you may want to add some seasoning to your plate, or a dollop of Mayo ..... Hmmm yum!

I certainly wouldn't mind sharing a meal like this! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: A common concern with home cooking is that it will be much more costly than commercial dog food. I say you can't put a price on your pet's health, but I understand budgetary issues can always be a concern. What are some money saving tips to keep costs low and still give your pet the benefit of a home cooked diet?

QC: I feed my dogs a healthy fresh, balanced, complete, species appropriate diet everyday for (16pence) 27cents per meal per dog per day. If your going to use chicken in your dogs diet, it's always best & more cost effective to buy a whole chicken, using all the different meats,breast, leg, thigh, belly etc mixed together will give your dog different nutrients from the meat from different parts of the body. Be thrifty, find the pattern in your local supermarket when they reduce meat. My local supermarket is a high end store they reduce the meat every Tuesday at 8.15am like clockwork! Guess what... I'm there! I purchase the very best highest quality meat for a fraction of the cost. Buy reduced vegetables, ask your friends to freeze their table scraps, never, ever throw any food away even if it's a wilted lettuce, cook it with some bulgar wheat... Delicious! When you have stripped all the meat off the chicken, put the bones into a heavy bottomed cooking pan, crush up the bones as best you can using a pestle or end of a rolling pin, the idea is to release the bone marrow in the  brittle cooked bones, pour over fresh cold water add a few herbs if you have them, bring to the boil and and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours. Drain off the liquid and let it cool down, you can either cook in some carrots, celery, and tiny pasta shapes for a soup to share or let the mixture set into ice cube trays store some fresh it will become like jelly when cold or freeze, this makes a wonderful tasty addition when added to rice or used as an ice pop or a warming stock on a cold day.

LHBW: There was a huge issue in the past couple years with non-FDA regulated jerky treats causing severe health issues for pups. What's your favorite home cooked treat recipe so we can ditch the commercial concerns all together?

QC: I don't feed treats as I feel my dogs eat so well that it's not necessary, they aren't salivating when I'm eating as they are satisfied with their own food, however snacks do have a place in the canine diet. A super duper easy to make snack is Popcorn! With goats butter... Here's how: 

LHBW: Some readers might not be ready to take the fully home cooked plunge, but I know many people will cook the standard chicken and rice recipe for when their pups get an upset tummy. Do you have any secret recipes for settling an upset stomach that you can share?

QC: It would really depend on what the symptoms are, if it was vomiting every hour, if it was vomiting and diarrhea or just diarrhea. If your dog had a temperature, if you felt your dog had eaten something bad or had picked up a bug? As a general rule of thumb, I would feed plain boiled white rice, with an egg yolk stirred through and a little plain chicken or ham mixed through. Cottage cheese & live goats yoghurt are good tummy settlers too.

LHBW: Finally, your YouTube and website mention Vet Approved, Bespoke meals for pups with all kinds of issues (or who just want to be healthier)! Where can I send my readers for more information or access to more of your fabulous recipes? 

QC: My website look under the RECIPE pull down menu or the YOUTUBE menu. I'm in the process of finishing my cookery book, but in the meantime I am more than happy to answer dietary questions or tweak existing recipes until it suits your dogs needs. Other areas of interest to me are dogs with cancer, epilepsy and obesity. Obesity often arises as a secondary problem due to the medications the dog has been put on or due to being unable to exercise due to a complication like a collapsed trachea due to obesity, that was initially due to the first illness. My BLUBBER BUSTER diet is great at shifting those pounds whilst maintaining a balanced healthy and most importantly satisfying diet. This diet is not readily available as I would need to have a little information about your pup first, your readers are welcome to contact me for more details:

I also run a CANINE DIETRY CLINIC where you can ask any dietary advice on my community page: (wherever you are in the world) everyone is welcome (NOTE: the next clinic will begin September 19th at 12pm and close September 20th at 6pm, so definitely check it out!).

Beginning in October, Emma will also be launching the Canine Cookery Club, a private members login for a subscription fee that allows a more in depth, holistic look at your pet's whole health. Also be sure to keep checking back to her website for her fabulous Celebration Cake recipe, and some holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) meals for your pup as well! Yum!

Thank you so much to Emma from Queeniechi for all the amazing advice! Even if you think Home Cooking is too big of a stretch for you to do full time, I definitely recommend checking out her website & YouTube for ways to bring a little home cooked flair to your own pup's diet. Though your vet can help you decide whether switching to completely home cooked is the right move for you (it was for us!), having a resource like Emma in your back pocket will make any amount of home cooking you decide to incorporate that much easier and more delicious!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Paw-sitively Fabulous: Liebster Award

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Victoria Secret Window AND Southern Fried Mouth, two fellow pawsome bloggers, earlier this Summer. It's a super fun way for smaller bloggers to recognize one another, spread some love to fellow bloggers, and pay it forward. Basically it has me all warm and fuzzy inside.

As a condition of accepting this paw-some honor, there are a few rules I have to follow:

  • link back to the person who nominated me
  • answer all the questions that blogger gives me
  • choose 5-11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers and come up with new questions for them
  • let the nominees know they have been nominated

So, without further adieu, here are the questions presented to us for our Liebster! In the spirit of Little Holly's Big World, I decided to ask half of them them to Holly. I'll be typing her answers for her, since she lacks thumbs. Enjoy!

Questions from Victoria Secret Window as answered by Holly:

1. How is your week going so far?
Chased some squirrels, ate some treats, took some naps...I'd say pretty great!

2. How has your summer been?
Paw-sitively fabulous! I won't think it's complete until I catch a squirrel, though. 

3. What is your favorite color and why?
Purple, because Mommy and I match in it so perfectly!

4. What is your favorite quote or saying?
"Though she be but little, she is fierce." We tweaked this classic Shakespeare line a bit for my blog to say "Though she be but little, she is FABULOUS!"

5. Can you tell me a good JOKE?
What dog will laugh at any joke? A Chi-ha-ha!!

6. Who is your favorite actor or actress and why?
Definitely Gidget the Chihuahua from the Yo Quiero Taco Bell commercials. Not only has she been famous for more than 15 minutes, but she rocked some pretty fabulous ears (just like I do!)!

(PS--Check out our interview with Gidget's trainer, Sue Chipperton, here). 

7. What is your favorite most comfortable pair of shoes?
I hate when my mommy makes me wear shoes in the winter but I love my Christian Lewbarkin chew toy! Does that count?

8. What is your favorite food you love to eat?
Anything my mommy is eating. If she has it on her plate, you better bet I'm eyeing it. I also enjoy the meals she home cooks for me, and occasionally a throw pillow or something gross off the street, though I try not to overindulge. 

9. What’s your favorite song and why?
My mommy sings me "Hey, Ho" the Lumineers but changes the words so they have my name! Also, I like "Moon River," because it was sung by my namesake, Holly Golightly, in the movie Barkfest at Sniffany's. 

10. What kind of hobbies or DYI projects do you like to do?
I don't do things for myself, I am a princess. I do enjoy handmade and custom items, however, particularly my customized Ralph Lauren puppy polos and my custom collar from J&B Custom Leather (shameless plug: use code LITTLEHOLLYBIGWORLD for 10% off your J&B Custom Leather order)! 

11. What is your latest post on your blog?
Well would you look at that, it's our interview with our pawsome friend, and the B in J&B Custom Leather herself, Bridget (or at least it was at the time of my answering these questions)!! Check it out--she is definitely a top dog CEO in the making!

Questions from Southern Fried Mouth answered by Holly's Mom:

1. What's your favorite Disney movie quote?
"True love is putting someone else before yourself." ~Olaf

2. What social media platform do you like the best?
Instagram!! Come follow us!

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years? (& not just with your blog!)
I try not to give myself a deadline in life because we make plans and God laughs. In 5 years I hope to be happy, hanging out with Holly, and spending my days doing what I love!

4. What's your favorite meal of the day?
Breakfast. Cereal is the greatest food of all time.

5. If you could only listen to one song a day, what would today's be?
I am literally obsessed with Becky G's "Shower." I have pretty much only been listening to that song every day! It's the new "Call Me Maybe!"

6. If you could go on one all expense paid trip, where would it be and why?
Monaco, because I hear they have the best Hermes store in the world, and with all expenses paid, you know I'm going crazy there!

7. What are your other hobbies?
There are other hobbies that don't include dogs? I'd rather not.

Just kidding (partially). I like to cook, read, watch Netflix (that's a hobby, right?), visit museums, and explore dog-friendly parts of New York!

8. Have you tried even half the pins on your Pinterest?
That's a funny joke.

9. What's the first thing you do every morning?
Kiss my dog on the lips.

8. What's the last thing you do every night?
See above. :)

Now it's my turn to get some nominations going!

We nominate:
Michelle's Pa(i)ge
Absolutely Alpert
Dearie Lovie
The Uppity Puppity
Valley Girl Gone Country

Here are our questions:

1. What inspired the name of your blog?

2. If you won a million dollars in the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

3. What's your favorite cause to give back to?

4. If you could invite any 5 people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would be at your table?

5. Which city in the world do would you most want to live in for a year?

Thanks so much for the nomination, ladies!! I can't wait to see everyone's answers!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Little Holly's Big Book Club: Book 2 Wrap Up and Book 3

Hello, Darlings!

Can you believe it's September already? The Summer definitely flew by at LHBW headquarters, but was full of pawsome events and paw-sitively fabulous memories! We're sad to see Summer go but ready to get our Pumpkin Spice Lattes and big sweaters on!! And with the beginning of Fall comes the last installment in Little Holly's Big Book Club, but first, of course, a wrap up of last month's book.

Julie Klam's You Had Me At Woof was poignent, heartbreaking, and hilarious. I have to admit, there was a point when I had to step away from it for a bit when she was discussing animal loss, as it is a feeling any animal lover has been through and Julie's depiction of her own loss is quick to bring those memories and fear back. Still, her subsequent chapter on loss felt especially needed as a reminder that all the indescribable pain that one goes through when losing a pet is more than made up for by that animal's time with us, no matter how short. Since Holly had lost a dear friend too soon earlier in the month (a friend's rescue Chihuahua crossed the rainbow bridge unexpectedly), this was a particularly fitting lesson for the month.

That said, the book is not for the faint of heart (or those with a shortage of tissues). Julie delves into the more graphic parts of pet ownership with detailed honesty, and some of the scenes can be difficult to bear. Still, those moments were so outweighed by the joyous, laugh out loud funny, and completely relatable tales of her life as a foster and rescue mom, much like those moments in our own pet's lives ultimately outweigh the pain of their loss. I would definitely recommend the book for an adult dog loving friend, particularly one dealing with the recent loss of a beloved pet.

Up next is a classic tale of a man's journey to discover America, pooch at his side, John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. Largely regarded (at least in my circle) as one of the most iconic pup related books in modern literature.

The story goes that Steinbeck, feeling out of sorts in his later years, felt that the root of his issues came from losing touch with America. With that in mind, he packed his beloved standard poodle, Charley up with him and set off on a cross-country journey to reconnect with this nation. Though the legitimacy of some of the meetings have come into question, the book is still much beloved, and I am looking forward to reading it with all of you.

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekend Wander: The Amazing New York Dog-Friendly Scavenger Hunt

Last weekend, some friends and I got together to participate in The Amazing New York Dog-Friendly Scavenger Hunt, which was put on by Pogo Events. We met with about 50 fellow dog owners at Central Park's bandshell early Sunday afternoon, prepared for a fun (and competitive) afternoon with our pups!

Our team was comprised of myself & Holly, my friend Katie and her rescue pooch Henry, and my friend Matt, his girlfriend Lauren, and their new rescue Penny. Since we were a team of rescue pups, we named our team "Turn Down For Mutt," and the pooches donned matching camo bandanas so the other teams could see we meant business!
Holly and Henry are in it to win it!
The Pogo Events team divided any pups and humans without teams into groups, and then one member from each team was prompted to scan a QR code (we had been instructed via e-mail to download the app ScanQuest prior to our arrival), which unlocked all of the tasks that we needed to complete on our journey. The app was set up checklist style but you could elect to do the tasks in any order you liked. We decided to start with the images (saving a few of the trickier ones for in between other tasks), then the places, and do drawings and trivia questions in between as we walked. The handy thing about having Matt and Lauren there was Lauren could snap our photo since every pup owner and pup needed to be in every picture.
"Running" by the Carousal. Henry didn't commit to this...I think someone had a pretzel in his eye line!
The tasks were silly and some required a lot of improvisation on our part! We were instructed to take photos sniffing trash cans, waltzing in front of the Central Park Children's Zoo, jogging near the Carousal, and with a pretzel vendor, just to name a few. We had to get super creative with the task that required we all go down a slide--Central Park has a rule that prohibits adults from entering playgrounds unless they are accompanying a child, so we got creative on a slope of hill and just pretended to slide instead.
Having a great time on the slide. Penny is not amused. 
Surprisingly, one of the most difficult items to find was someone wearing something that said "Brooklyn." For all the people whose shirts we creepily read as we ran through the park, know it was for the greater good. And for this very kind French tourist, who didn't even KNOW his shirt said "Brooklyn," I hope we sent you back with a great story about wacky New Yorkers!

The Brooklyn shirt was a real find!
As the day wound down, we still had two locations left to find and a bonus point video to complete (contestants have the option of making a video for an additional 25 points, and participating in a "roadblock" activity, which we had successfully completed, for an additional 50). Since we were feeling pretty good about how much we had completed, we initially planned to visit one of the sites and create the video so we wouldn't be docked points for coming back late. However, our last two locations were super close to each other, so we were actually able to complete everything with time to spare for video making! I'm glad we made both stops, because those pictures are some of my favorite from the afternoon (despite our obvious exhaustion!).
Every pup and person (except Penny) is worn out from our adventure!
We were instructed to "jump" in front of this bridge...something Henry took VERY seriously!
For the video challenge, we had to make ONE dog sit, give paw, and play dead. Our only problem was our pooches were not well versed in the play dead category. Lauren came up with a genius improv where she had Matt hold Penny and gave HIM the instructions! The resulting video was hilarious (though he would probably kill me if I posted it on the internet, so I will refrain), and earned us the full 25 point bonus.

Despite completing all the tasks for the day, we came in second place. We were bummed, but still got to walk away with treats and toys for the pooches, as well as some great coupons and gifts from BarkBox, Bitch New York, and the Mayor's Alliance, among other sponsors.
The puppy prize pack--Holly was all about the treats, and the pink tennis ball!
For our second place win, we were also gifted with vouchers for a free Pogo Events scavenger hunt in the future, so you'd better bet team "Turn Down For Mutt" will be back next year with our eye on the prize!
Thanks to my awesome teammates--we'll clinch it next year!
What do you think about a dog scavenger hunt? Is it something you would try with your pup?

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Paw-sitively Fabulous: National Dog Day At Loews Regency Hotel

After a busy weekend of pup-friendly events (more on that later), we were super excited to hear about one right around the corner from our apartment. Insta-famous pooch Chloe the Mini Frenchie posted about a dog friendly "Yappy Hour" at the swanky Loews Hotel on Park Avenue. As soon as we saw that proceeds from the #fabuluxe event were benefiting the Humane Society of New York (where I adopted Holly), we knew we absolutely had to make an appearance.

We arrived at the patio of the 61st street entrance of the hotel to see the sidewalk packed with pups and pup lovers, as well as local news media. (Thank goodness we thought to don matching polka dots and pearls for the occasion.) We said our hellos to the Humane Society representatives and then made a beeline for the table offering free treats and "Puppychinos," pup-friendly foamed milk drinks with bones garnishing the side.
The treat area was a pup-ular stop throughout the evening.
Not to leave the human attendees out, waiters were on hand serving "Snooptinis," a specialty cocktail with an adorable gummy pooch garnish. Proceeds from the beverage benefited the Humane Society of New York, so you didn't feel the least bit guilty for indulging! I elected to skip the cocktail in favor of the pawsome gelato cart since it was so warm out. Holly thought my pear selection looked so good she tried to sneak a lick when I wasn't looking!
Specialty cocktails benefited HSNY. 
The pear gelato was too good for me to pass up!
In addition to Chloe the Mini Frenchie, the event was attended by several other Insta-famous pups, including Wally the Welsh Corgi and Taco the City Dog. A question that I got a few times throughout the evening was, “How do these pooches manage to gain their impressive followings?” I can tell you one thing, it’s through a lot of hard work! Wally's dad came prepared with a professional level camera and a squeaky toy to get the famous Corgi's ears just so. We were impressed by their commitment!
Wally the Welsh Corgi shows adoptable pooch Bruce how to work the camera.
Loews is very well known for being pup ruvers, and it shows!
Speaking of impressed, we were blown away by the dog-friendly setup provided by Loews. A special relaxation area in the shade housed toys, water bowls, and fluffy Loews branded beds where the pups could take a breather away from the action. Holly appreciated the gesture, but was more interested in keeping an eye on the treat table than lounging in the shade!

The beds are part of the pawsome amenities that Loews Resorts offer their four-legged guests. They aren't kidding when they say they love your pets--a pet package includes gourmet room service menus specifically for pets (dogs or cats!), dog-walking and pet sitting services, information on local pet-friendly restaurants and great walks in the area, and a complimentary name tag, bowl, and special treats upon arrival. It's enough to make Holly and me want to take a staycation in our own backyard!

"Enough with the pictures, mom. Where are the TREATS?"
As the afternoon wound down, we decided to pay a visit to the "Dog Psychologist," Blake Rodriguez of Dream Come True K9, who was offering consultations for a $5 fee. (Proceeds went to the Humane Society of New York.) We discussed Holly's nerves around children, and he gave us some great pointers to try out in the future!
An homage to the Peanuts, though probably with better Psychiatric help!
Thank you to Loews Regency for the paw-sitively fabulous time at this year's National Dog Day! We can't wait to head to Loews for more pup-friendly fun soon!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Store Spotlight: I'd Rather Be With My Dog + A Discount!

Today's Store Spotlight focuses on another small business with a big heart, I'd Rather Be With My Dog.

I've been a fan of I'd Rather Be With My Dog on Instagram for some time, so I was super excited to have the chance to speak to Doug Ratner, the company's founder, about everything from animal advocacy to the decidedly Swift-ian origin of the brand.

In case you aren't familiar, I'd Rather Be With My Dog makes tanks, t-shirts, mugs, and stickers with that exact sentiment. Buyers can choose to rep a specific breed or just share their love of dogs with a straightforward "I'd Rather Be With My Dog" message (I love the I'd Rather Be With My Rescue Dog top, of course!).

Doug was inspired to create the line after a song he wrote about his troubled love life, 'Dogs,' started to get a lot of attention for it's chorus ("I'd rather be with my dog, than be with you"). T-Swift, take note: Doug's little ditty has now turned into a way to raise money and awareness for pups in need across the nation! Check out the original song below, then read on for more on this pawsome brand and the rocker behind it!

Little Holly's Big World: Ok, first off, let's talk about the song: How did you go from a fun rock and roll tune inspired by girl troubles to a full fledged clothing (and mug!) company? Taylor Swift ain't got nothing on you!

Doug Ratner: It all was a very organic process. As the song began to spread, I was getting heart warming emails from people saying how much they related to the song. How it described their life to a T (And to this day some of those original people I connected with are some of my biggest customers and fans).  So it only seemed like the next step was to make a t-shirt with that phrase on it! I just shortened it up, and started getting them printed up! It was that simple.

The paw print tank is one of the store's most pup-ular items. Buy it here.

LHBW: Several of your own pooches are featured in the "I'd Rather Be With My Dog" music video. Besides helping with break ups and inspiring clothing lines, what would you say is the best thing about having a dog in your life?

DR: Oh man, where do I begin? I've always had a very strong connection with dogs, even as a baby my mom told me I loved our German Shepherd, Nina, so much. I certainly wouldn't call myself a dog whisperer, but I'm the guy who gets on the ground with the German Shepherd police dogs at my own risk to snuggle with them...I'm ridiculous.

Did I just ramble? Sorry! Dogs can teach us more about how to be an amazing human being more than people can. Think about it: Dogs love unconditionally, they never judge you, they just exist to be your companion. That kind of compassion and dedication takes a person a lifetime to understand. And I can really be myself around my dogs. I have a special language with them that nobody but them, or my mom, has ever heard. :)

LHBW: I'd Rather Be With My Dog is a big supporter of animal advocacy and rescue. How, specifically, does the company give back to these organizations?

DR: We make both public and private donations to different shelters and rescues throughout the country. I like to say that every time you buy something, you're improving the life of an animal somewhere around the world. My goal is that one day the company will get so big that I can create an I'd Rather Be With My Dog Foundation that will only be geared towards helping shelters.

LHBW: Do you find that a specific breed or style is a best seller on the site? Do you have a personal favorite item? 

DR: The tank tops have by far been the most popular item yet. I sold out of them so fast! I think it's because they're not breed specific so any dog owner can rock one with pride. And of course I'm biased towards the Shepherd shirt! 

The Pit Bull t-shirt is also one of the most popular, and that's because pittie owners have an enormous amount of pride towards their breed. They have to stand together in this world because the media unjustly bashes that poor breed, so when someone buys that shirt, they wear it with some serious pride. 

Pit bull (brindle) tee. In men's and women's styles. Buy it here.

LHBW: The line gets a lot of great feedback and social sharing across Instagram and Twitter. Do you have a favorite story or image a customer has shared?

DR: The image (below) is of a little girl with her pittie, Ava. This little girl wears her I'd Rather Be With My Dog Pit shirt to school because she educates her classmates on the beauty of Pit Bulls. And she's 8 years old! Never in my life did I imagine I'd start a company that could somehow change the world's incorrect view on a dog. It's really heart warming.

There are a lot, but I'd just get teary-eyed writing about them all!

This tiny animal crusader is doing her part to change the negative public opinion on pit bulls! 
LHBW: Through your work within the animal world, is there anything you have learned about animal welfare that you wish more people knew?

DR: I suppose one of the most terrible things I learned about is Beagle testing....the FDA allows pharmaceutical companies to test their products on Beagles, regardless of the outcome. I just can't stand knowing that this happens...we work with the Atlanta Beagle rescue, I like to think that the donations help.

And I just wish that people weren't so ignorant about Pit Bulls. I know I keep mentioning them, but they need so much help.

Holly with two of her "scary" pit bull friends, Dexter (above) and Jake (below).

LHBW: Anything else we should know?

DR: I guess I love for people to know that I'm a human being and a dog lover just like you, so any questions they have they can directly contact me whenever they'd like!

They might as well have made this mug with my name on it! Available in multiple breeds, Chihuahua here.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the most amazing things about having this blog is all the incredible people I have met and brands I have discovered that care so deeply about animal rescue and advocacy. People like Doug are making sure that every pup has a happy, safe, and healthy life, and that is paw-sitively fabulous. 

If you want to show your support of your fave dog breed (or just show your non-dog friendly office your peaceful protest in shirt or mug form), be sure to check out I'd Rather Be With My Dog's website. Fans of LHBW get 20% off with promo code BIGWORLD. They even ship internationally, so get shopping!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

Images by Freepik