Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just in time for summer

Now that we are about a week or so into summer...I've decided to announce the launch of my newest project - Seagrass & Sunsets - the blog of Summer Day Designs. I've been brainstorming about this new blog for a while and have been working to get it set up for a few weeks. As some of you may know, Brown Dog Boutique is a division of my stationery company - Summer Day Designs - that I started last summer.

I absolutely love summer. I was born in August, and summer has always been my favorite season. I love everything about it - the heat, the long days, spending time outside, grilling, the beach, watersports, I could go on and on...My husband shares my love of summer, so we decided to create what we call "a one-stop shop for all things summer". We love to travel and entertain, and we are excited to share our ideas and favorite things on the new blog. When you get a free moment, please stop by Seagrass & Sunsets to check it out and feel free to leave us a comment and to share the link with friends. We'd love to hear what you think & any suggestions that you have for story ideas or how to improve the blog would be greatly appreciated!

I also have many new stationery designs in the works for Summer Day Designs (and Brown Dog Boutique), so watch for an upcoming announcement about additions to both shops!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Perfect Sporting Collar

Ok, so I would not necessarily call our dogs "sporting dogs". They are great retrievers, but they don't go hunting. I'm not a big fan of hunting, but that's another topic. We're talking about collars today. About a year ago, my husband and I made a random stop by PetSmart and picked up a pair of collars made by Remington that have become our "go-to" collars. {Side note - I may have mentioned this collar before, but I can't remember. If I have, it's worth mentioning twice - we just bought two more of these collars for the boys because they're that great}

Let me introduce the 1" Remington Reflexite Collar. This collar is made from double-ply reflective nylon in safety orange that makes dogs more visible both in the day and at night (especially because the reflexite strip reflects oncoming light). Because our boys are dark brown, they have a habit of disappearing when it gets dark outside. The safety orange and the reflective strip on this collar have helped us locate them in the dark on many occasions (and we have found this to be particularly helpful when camping). They also love to roll around in dirt, wet grass and anything smelly (rolling in smelly things may be Cooper's favorite outdoor activity), so finding a collar that is both durable and easy to wash was a necessity for us. The Remington Reflexite Collar meets both of these requirements. I'll admit, while safety orange is not my favorite color and certainly wouldn't be my first choice at picture time, when it comes to everyday wear, I think this collar is a great find.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Take Your Dog to Work Day!

Do you ever wish that you could take your dog(s) to work with you?  I thought so.  Well this Friday might be your lucky day!  This Friday, June 26 is Take Your Dog to Work Day.  First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog to Work Day was created as a way to celebrate the great companions that dogs make and to encourage pet adoptions.  Since then, thousands of businesses have opened up their offices to employees' pets in celebration of this day.  How cool is that?!  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my office wouldn't be so keen on this idea.

Do any of you have offices that support this day?  If so, I'd love to hear where you work!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog-Friendly Travels

How can you say no to this face? I know way too well how difficult it is to leave your dogs when you travel and how it is equally difficult sometimes to figure out how to take them with you. Fortunately, the folks at DogFriendly.com have made it a little easier on us by compiling a number of different guides that help us locate hotels, restaurants and parks where our furry friends are welcome. When you visit DogFriendly.com, you'll see that you can search for dog-friendly vendors by location or you can check out one of their more specific guides, such as the Beach Guide for Dogs. While the DogFriendly website isn't the most well-designed website I've ever been too (it's a little difficult to navigate at times), it does contain a lot of good information and is always a good place to go when coordinating your travel plans. I'll definitely be spending some time on DogFriendly.com in the coming weeks as we search for our next dog-friendly travel destination.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is how they do it...

On land, Cooper is definitely our retriever. His football is by far his favorite toy, and he is constantly dropping it at our feet in the hopes that we'll take him outside to play. Brady is like the little kid that you find wandering around the soccer field in the middle of a game picking clovers. When it comes to fetching a ball or chasing down the football, Brady could care less and his attention span is very short. In the water, on the other hand, Brady is the star athlete. As soon as you throw his buoy, Brady is jumping into the water, swimming as fast as he can to get to it. In our first few trips to the lake, Cooper tried to race with Brady, but he quickly devised a better plan - one you can see in action in the pictures below. When we get ready to throw the buoy, Cooper lines up with Brady like he's going to race him for it, but when we throw the buoy, Cooper hangs back and watches as Brady races towards it. Usually, Cooper even sits down to wait for Brady - no need to waste precious energy, right? As Brady gets closer to land, Cooper races towards Brady and pounces on the buoy, helping him bring it back to us. I have to admit, it's pretty funny to watch.

Brady & Cooper clearly love the water. We can't wait to take them to the beach and see how they react to the waves. Hopefully we'll be able to fit in a beach trip towards the end of the summer.

What about you all? Do you have water dogs too?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lovin' the Lake

Brady & Cooper had a big weekend at the lake with three of their friends! As you can see, this picture was taken post-swimming. I've been wanting more pictures of the two of them side-by-side, but we normally have trouble getting them to sit still. I think I've found the magic trick - wear them out first and then have them pose. More pictures to come tomorrow after I upload them to my computer. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blog Layout Tips and a New Award!

This post won't be directly dog related, however many of my readers are bloggers themselves, so I thought I'd pass along a great guide for adding a 3rd column to a traditional Blogger template. This how-to guide made the conversion pretty simple, which is great because I am certainly no HTML expert (yet...one can hope, right?). I would definitely recommend backing up your current template first in case the conversion doesn't work on the first try & you need to get back to where you started - or creating a test blog to try it out before messing with your current blog. If you have any questions about what I did, let me know!

Now on to more fun things...my good friend over at Happiness Is... received the One Lovely Blog Award and passed it on to me! Thank you!! If you haven't read her blog yet, I'd highly recommend checking it out. Now for my picks...here's how the award works:

The Rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have newly discovered.

So here are my picks in random order (P.S. I read a lot of blogs, but 15 is a lot so I might repeat a few that I've passed awards to in the past. You'll also notice that the blogs I read tend to be on random subjects. Some related to dogs, some that are informative, some are just plain funny. If you have a blog that I don't mention that you think I'd like to read, please leave a link in the comments section of this post, and I'll check it out!):


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What do you think?

If you're not reading this blog in a reader, you've probably noticed the new layout. So that the page wouldn't be too long, I decided to try a 3 column look - what do you think? Better? I've been toying around with the idea of a whole new look altogether, but haven't decided if it's worth changing things up completely. I'd love to hear from my readers - should I keep the new 3 column layout? Change to a whole new look? Or stick with the old version?

The Pet Boutique Blog

Happy Hump Day! My last few weeks of work have been shorter than usual with holidays and Fridays off here and there, so this week seems like it's going last forever - luckily we've already made it to Wednesday, so maybe it won't be that bad...

I did log on to my computer to find some good news for Brown Dog Boutique this morning - we've been featured on a great new blog - The Pet Boutique Blog! If you haven't stumbled upon this great resource yet, venture on over right now. The Pet Boutique Blog features links and stories about a ton of great sellers of products for both pets and pet lovers. Now rather than spending hours searching and sifting through the listings on Etsy or the web, you can head over to The Pet Boutique Blog and browse through many different items in one place. To read the feature on Brown Dog Boutique, click here. Many thanks to The Pet Boutique Blog!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And the winners are...

I want to thank you all for so many great entries to the Brown Dog Boutique Pet Sitter's Guide Giveaway. I received a lot of great responses, and my husband selected the winners at random last night (with Brady & Cooper observing to make sure he did it properly).

Congratulations to the following 3 readers for winning the Brown Dog Boutique Pet Sitter's Guide Giveaway!

Aroo Studio

Please contact me at thebrowndogboutique@gmail.com to claim your prize.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On the road again...

This may be my last post for the week...if it ends up that way, I apologize ahead of time and promise to have many fun posts to make up for it next week. My husband and I are headed out bright and early tomorrow morning to drive up to Charlottesville, Virginia for the weekend. This year marks my 5 year college reunion, and we are headed back to UVa to celebrate with many of my college friends. If you've never been to Charlottesville, you're missing out - beautiful horse farms and the Blue Ridge mountains, amazing restaurants, fun events and, of course, The University. Yes, I'll admit that like many UVa grads I am biased, but I do think that the University of Virginia is the best there is. Anyway, where was I going with this...oh yes, traveling...

[Source: Kristjan Pom, Sydney Morning Herald]

We will not be taking the boys with us this weekend - they'll be staying with their uncle who is sure to give them plenty of exercise, love and attention while we're gone, so we don't need to worry about finding pet-friendly accomodations on this trip. We will, however, be on the lookout for pet-friendly destinations in the future, and on that note, I wanted to pass along another great online resource - DogFriendly.com. If you get a minute while I'm gone, go check out the site, and when I return, I'll point out some of the great features it has to offer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pet Fest in Pictures (and a giveaway!)

We had a great time at the Humane Society of Jackson County's Pet Fest this past Saturday. The weather was beautiful, the crowds and other vendors were friendly, and we enjoyed great food, music and pet-friendly activities. The event was called Pet Fest, but I think it would have been more appropriate to have called it Dog Fest - I don't think I've ever seen more dogs in one place before. Sure, there were a few kittens at the adoption site, but other than that, it was dogs everywhere! Dogs of all breeds, colors and sizes. Brady & Cooper love socializing with other dogs & I think they had a blast. They slept for hours after we got home.

The weather was beautiful, but it was hot out in the sun - luckily, we came prepared with our tent. We set up the Brown Dog Boutique booth in the tent, and it's amazing what a difference that made. It was SO much cooler sitting under the tent. Throughout the day Brady & Cooper alternated between sitting in front of the tent greeting everyone that walked by and relaxing under the tables - popping out every now & then to say hi.

I've found that craft shows are difficult to prepare for, especially ones that I've never been to before. It's hard to anticipate (1) what people will be interested in on a given day, (2) what price points people will be looking for and (3) whether people will be in the mood to spend money at all. In the case of Pet Fest, it seems that most people loved to come around and look, but I got the impression that no one came to the event planning to make many purchases. Unfortunately, I don't think that many of the vendors sold much, if anything. The good news was that booth prices were very reasonable, and all of the money generated at the event went directly to the Humane Society of Jackson County.

I only sold one set of note cards (to my good friend over at Vintage Victuals - thanks Ellie!), but didn't leave the event disappointed. I was glad to support the HSJC, and I did end up handing out a number of business cards which will hopefully lead to new readers of this blog & more visitors to my shop. Fortunately, I didn't prepare too much inventory for the event. Because the majority of my sales are custom designs (where customers select the dog silhouette, colors and personalization of their choice), it's difficult to create a reasonable inventory that includes all of the combinations that I offer. I did introduce a new product at the event that got a good response from the crowd - a Pet Sitter's Guide. I developed the Pet Sitter's Guide out of personal necessity - I found that whenever my husband and I went out of town, I had to re-write a list of instructions for the person watching the boys - what they eat, when they eat, the vet's contact info, special instructions, etc. Every time I wrote down new instructions, I worried that I was forgetting something important. Hence, The Pet Sitter's Guide - a colorful, fill-in instruction sheet that features a cute dog silhouette at the top. I will be adding The Pet Sitter's Guide to my shop soon. In the meantime, I have 3 (yes, 3!) sets to give away to my readers! In honor of one of my alma matters, the University of Georgia, the sets that I will be giving away feature a white bulldog silhouette surrounded by a red & black circle. To enter the giveaway, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post:
What is your favorite summer vacation spot and why?

The rules:

One entry per person - no entries after 5pm EST on Monday, June 8. The winners will be chosen at random and announced next Tuesday morning. Good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

They passed!

The Humane Society of Jackson County's Pet Fest held this past Saturday was a great success! We were lucky to have beautiful weather, and the last I heard, we estimated at least 650 people in attendance throughout the day. I don't think the vendors (including me) had many sales, but if nothing else, the event was a great weekend outing for many cute dogs & their families and the event raised some much-needed funds and awareness for the HSJC. I took a few pictures (which I have yet to upload to my computer - hopefully they'll be up by tomorrow), and I'll be sure to post them soon!

In the meantime, I have to brag a little bit - Brady & Cooper both passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test! We hadn't planned on having the boys tested yet (I figured we still had a little ways to go in our training before we would be prepared) but we decided to go ahead at the last minute, and both of the boys were great!

The Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC) is a certification program designed by the AKC to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community. The CGC test includes the following 10 items:

(1) Accepting a friendly stranger

(2) Sitting politely for petting

(3) Appearance and grooming

(4) Walking on a loose lead

(5) Walking through a crowd

(6) Sit and down on command and staying in place

(7) Coming when called

(8) Reaction to another dog

(9) Reaction to distraction

(10) Supervised separation

To learn more about the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, click here, and stay tuned for more from Pet Fest coming soon!

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