Monday, October 16, 2017

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

UK illustrator and fellow dog-obsessed human Helen Penny makes some of the best custom pet pillows around! Each pillow portrait is hand-drawn using a graphics tablet, then digitally printed onto an ultra soft velvet fabric before it’s sewn and stuffed, creating a perfectly huggable, squishy likeness of your pup! You can order one for yourself or a friend (or your favorite dog blogger *ahem*) through Helen’s shop:

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

See more examples and a little video of how these adorable pillows are made below!

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by capree in For Humans | Permalink | No comments

9 Reasons to Meet the Happy-Go-Lucky Havanese

Few breeds have become as popular as quickly as the charming Havanese. He makes a wonderful city dog, always ready for the next adventure, whether by foot or carried in a fashionable shoulder bag. Here are nine fun facts about this high-energy breed.

1. The rich history behind the Havanese

A Havanese puppy.

A Havanese puppy. Photography ©Dorottya_Mathe | Thinkstock.

The Havanese is the Cuban member of the international Bichon family, a group of mostly white, small, coated breeds that includes the Maltese, the Bolognese and the Bichon Frise. Although relatively new to the United States, the Havanese has a long and colorful history.

Spain exerted much influence over Cuba since the days of Christopher Columbus, and as colonization of the island began, the Havanese found its way into the homes and laps of Spanish aristocrats. The city of Havana, with its glorious weather, operas and theaters, became a favorite vacation spot for the European nobility, and when they returned home, they brought back the “little dog of Havannah” with them.

By the mid-18th century, the dogs became all the rage in the courts of Spain, France and England. Queen Victoria owned two Havanese, and author Charles Dickens’ Havanese, Tim, kept his seven children entertained.

Meanwhile, back on the island, the Cuban revolution of the 1950s, spearheaded by Fidel Castro, forced many to flee, some Cubans escaping with their families and dogs to the U.S. By the end of the 1970s, a Havanese gene pool was being rebuilt.

2. The breed has a heat-tolerant coat

The correct Havanese coat should be the texture of raw silk, full but soft and light. In its homeland, it insulated the dogs perfectly from the city’s strong, tropical rays.

The unique coat gave rise to alternate breed names like the Havana Silk Dog and the Spanish Silk Poodle. Because of the coat’s heat-resistant properties, it was never clipped, nor was the hair on the head tied up in a topknot, as the Cubans believed it protected the dogs’ eyes from the sun. Today, most owners favor a shorter pet trim for their Havanese and use a professional groomer to keep their beloved companions clean and free of mats.

3. Corded Havanese

Sometimes you’ll see an adult Havanese completely covered in long, tassel-like cords that resemble dreadlocks. Corded coats will separate on their own into wavy sections in young dogs and, in time, will develop into cords. Owners of corded Havanese love this dramatic look, and the breed standard allows for both corded and brushed coats.

4. Havanese dogs come in a variety of colors

A black Havanese dog.

A black Havanese dog. Photography ©GlobalP | Thinkstock.

While the Bichon Frise and the Maltese come in basic white, their Cuban relation enjoys a carousel of color. You’ll find a range of shades from black, dark blue, gray and chocolate to rich gold, pale cream and white. Parti-color or two-tone Havanese — black and white, gold and white — are especially popular.

5. The breed has a unique backline

While most dogs have a level back, the back of the Havanese rises slightly from the top of his shoulders to the tail.  You may not be able to see the rise on a full-coated dog, but if you get your hands under the coat, you will feel it.

6. Expect a springy gait

Also unique to the breed is its springy style of movement, which is the result of a short upper arm and the push or drive from the back end of the body. You will see the black pads of the feet when a Havanese moves away from you. The Havanese spring gives the dogs a particularly proud and jaunty air.

7. The Havana Silk Dog

As the Havanese became established in this country, some breeders felt the dog was straying too far from its Cuban roots. They wanted to recreate older depictions of the breed based on paintings, sculptures and written descriptions.

They refer to their dogs as Havana Silk Dogs and breed for longer, straighter forelegs; a flatter, silkier coat; a longer muzzle; and smaller ears. Although they have created a national breed club, the Havana Silk Dog Association of America, they are not at this time actively seeking recognition from the American Kennel Club as a separate breed.

8. The Havanese temperament

The Havanese Club of America describes temperament in the breed standard this way: “The Havanese is friendly, playful, alert and intelligent with a sweet, non-quarrelsome disposition.” They are a wonderful apartment dog and a joy to live with. However, it is a breed that thrives on human companionship and wants to be nearby.

9. Celebrity Havanese owners

Venus Williams with her Havanese dog.

Venus Williams with her Havanese dog. Photography © WENN | Alamy.

The Havanese is an elegant, portable, jet-setting little dog that has won the hearts of many celebrity A-listers. Tennis player Venus Williams owns a Havanese named Harold Reginald Williams. Media mogul Barbara Walters dotes on her Havanese. Others who have fallen for the charms of the Havanese include
Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Naomi Judd.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Dorottya_Mathe | Thinkstock. 

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Allan Reznik is a journalist, editor and broadcaster who specializes in dog-related subjects. He is the former editor-in-chief of Dogs in Review and former editor of Dog Fancy magazine. A city dweller all his life, on both coasts, he now enjoys the rural South with his Afghan Hounds, Tibetan Spaniels and assorted rescues.

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Dogs With Blue Eyes? Meet These 6 Dog Breeds

Most dogs have brown eyes but there are some dogs with blue eyes out there. Let’s hear from six dog breeds that occasionally get the blue-eyed gene:

Siberian Husky

Blue-eyed husky dog.

A blue-eyed Siberian Husky. Photography courtesy Eileen M. Gacke,

We’re one of few breeds carrying a gene that can give rise to exquisite blue eyes. Attractive eyes aside, let’s first talk about arctic adventures. I was developed thousands of years ago in northeastern Siberia by the Chukchi people. Bred for endurance, my forefathers provided transportation over expansive areas. We were also bred for adaptability, enthusiasm and gentleness. We socialized easily, sleeping with families on especially cold “three-dog nights.” Our breed standard calls for almond-shaped eyes of brown or blue. We can have two brown eyes of any shade, two blue eyes, one eye of each color or two colors in one eye! Our coat, by the way, varies in color too, ranging from black to pure white. Our beauty is only surpassed by our sense of adventure: bring it on!

Border Collie

A blue-eyed Border Collie.

A blue-eyed Border Collie. Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie,

We’re an exceptional herding dog, bred in the British Isles to control stock with an intense gaze. People say I’m the most intelligent dog breed. Who am I to argue? For good reason, I’ve been asked to explain the complicated merle (as it relates to blue eyes) topic. We Border Collies may have merle coats. Merle simply means our coats have an overall dilution of colors with streaks or splotches of darker colors. The more pigment dilution, the more likely we’ll have blue eyes. Now here’s an important health consideration: The merle gene is essentially a dominant gene. A dog carrying a merle gene will be a merle. A problem arises when both parents are merle, for double-merle offspring are at risk for serious medical problems, such as deafness and blindness. But in general, we merle (occasionally blue-eyed) beauties are healthy, eager to work and devoted companions.

Australian Shepherd

A blue-eyed Australian Shepherd. Photography courtesy Moira Cornell, Photography by Bethany Howell, Dogs in Motion Photography.

We’re a dog of action, developed in the States to herd and help ranchers all day long. We herd with a loose style, using all of our skills (including throwing an elbow or hip!) to effectively control livestock. Some of us have beautiful merle coats, and the occasional blue eyes may be an extension of the merle pattering.  Some may inherit a blue-eyed gene. Our expressive almond-shaped eyes, by the way, can be brown, blue, amber or any combination. I think we look especially exquisite when we have one blue eye!


A blue-eyed Dachshund.

A blue-eyed Dachshund. Photography courtesy Vicki Antonio,

Tough and determined, we were bred long ago in Germany to hunt badgers and vermin. To work underground, we needed a unique body shape. Our elongated rib-cage lets us efficiently process air. Our short legs fold readily, making for easy movement in tunnels. Some of us have a dapple (merle) pattern, expressed as lighter-colored areas up against the darker base color. And some dapples will have partial or wholly blue eyes. Regardless of color, our eyes possess an energetic, agreeable appearance.


A blue-eyed Weimaraner.

A blue-eyed Weimaraner. Photography courtesy

Some call us the “gray ghost,” referencing our elegant silver-gray coat. Some of us also have distinctive grayish-blue (but not pure blue) eyes. Colors aside, we were developed in Germany to hunt big game, and in time to hunt smaller animals. We’re celebrated for endurance in the field and courage. We’re also lauded for our exceptionally high energy. We can hike, jog, retrieve and excel in field trials. Primarily when you look into my eyes, you won’t be thinking about color. You’ll be noticing that my animated eyes have an expectant, “what shall we do now?” spark!

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

A blue-eyed Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

A blue-eyed Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie,

Alert and dependable, we were bred to handle livestock and for overall farm duty. These days, we continue to exhibit a strong work drive, and can garner accolades in any dog sport. We’re star pupils of obedience and herding in particular. Now, instead of talking (yet again!) about how my short legs helped me avoid cattle kicks, let’s focus on color. Our coat comes in many shades, including red, sable, brindle, black and blue merle. Some of us blue merles have partially blue eyes, or even one dark and one blue eye. What surprises most people is not my eyes, but how agile and quick I am!

Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie,

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Friday, October 13, 2017

‘Canines of New York’ Tells the Stories of 500 NYC Dogs Through Photos

New York City is a vibrant, cutting-edge metropolis that’s home to millions of people — and about 425,000 dogs. To get some insight into the city’s canine residents, Brooklyn-based photographer Heather Weston got on their level (literally) and captured them in the pages of her book, Canines of New York. The end result is a whopping 500 photos of adorable pups across all five boroughs, plus info on each dog’s name, breed and some commentary from their two-legged companions.

Meet a few dogs from the book right here and pick up a copy of Canines of New York on Amazon.comCanines of New York is published by BlueStreak Books.

Gizmo, Bronx

Gizmo, Bronx.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Jaxx, Staten Island.

Jax, Staten Island.

Photography by Heather Weston.

North, Brooklyn Heights.

North, Brooklyn Heights.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Pretzel, Manhattan, Wall Street.

Pretzel, Manhattan, Wall Street.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Sawyer, Queens.

Sawyer, Queens.

Sawyer, Queens. Photography by Heather Weston.

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Your Questions About Kennel Cough — Answered

Many dog parents have heard about kennel cough — but a lot of us wonder exactly what it is and if the term “kennel” truly has anything to do with it. To get some insight, we turned to an expert, Dr. Richard Ford, who is a Professor of Medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, to get the scoop on everything from what kennel cough is to how to prevent it.

What exactly is kennel cough?

A dog looking sick and sleeping under a blanket.

Concerned about kennel cough — aka CIRD? We’ve got your answers. Photography ©fotoedu | Thinkstock.

Dr. Ford explains that kennel cough is the annoying and sometimes dangerous contagious respiratory infection that characteristically develops shortly after a dog has had contact with other affected dogs — especially following time spent in a kenneled environment, boarding facility, animal shelter and training facility. Other places that tend to be breeding grounds for kennel cough include doggie daycares, dog parks and grooming facilities. Kennel cough is a relatively complex contagious respiratory syndrome. And because it implicates multiple organisms, the proper term for this clinical illness is actually canine infectious respiratory disease, or CIRD, Dr. Ford explains.

What are kennel cough symptoms?

Symptoms of CIRD most commonly include: coughing, sneezing, and nose and eye discharge. Untreated, Dr. Ford says that kennel cough may turn into pneumonia and — in rare instances — could even be fatal to dogs.

Most pet parents can manage kennel cough treatments at home with veterinary monitoring. However, Dr. Ford cautions that, “rarely, an infected dog will become so ill — usually with pneumonia — that hospitalization and intravenous treatment is required.”

How is kennel cough spread?

Like the dog flu, CIRD spreads very easily from dog to dog. Social dogs who engage with other dogs at, for example, dog parks, training centers and daycares, are most at risk of contracting kennel cough.

“Typically, the infectious organism, whether bacteria or virus, is transmitted from dog-to-dog following direct contact,” says Dr. Ford. “That’s why kennels are considered to be high-risk environments. Not uncommonly, an infected dog can carry and transmit the infectious bacteria or virus without showing clinical signs of respiratory disease.”

Dogs don’t even have to have direct contact with an infected dog to be at risk, either, Dr. Ford explains. “It is also possible for respiratory secretions from an infected dog to be left behind on a water bowl or food dish or a toy,” he says. “The next dog to take a drink, eat or play with a toy previously used by an infected dog is at considerable risk of becoming infected.”

Dr. Ford offers this important suggestion: “think about those ‘public’ water bowls displayed on sidewalks outside retail stores [as] something your dog should avoid!”

How to treat kennel cough

Dogs of any age can contract CIRD. Dr. Ford has found that, “puppies seem to suffer the most and may be at increased risk for lower respiratory infection (pneumonia).” Some healthy adult dogs are able to recover with at-home kennel cough treatments, but if your dog has a cough that lasts more than 2-3 days, Dr. Ford suggests heading to your vet for an examination and to determine the most appropriate treatment for your dog. “Do not use over-the-counter cough suppressants intended for use in humans,” cautions Dr. Ford.

“Because CIRD is caused by a virus or a bacteria, and sometimes viruses and bacteria in the same dog at the same time, treatment choices will vary,” Dr. Ford explains. There is not one treatment for kennel cough, but “antibiotics are typically prescribed in the event bacteria (which may be serious complicating factors) is present,” he says. “Since there are no drugs capable of eliminating viruses, the infected dog is managed symptomatically with prescription cough suppressants.”

It may seem surprising that your veterinarian likely won’t take diagnostics to determine exactly what’s causing the infection. “Results take too long and any treatment prescribed is typically empirical — based on managing the clinical signs,” says Dr. Ford.

Is there a kennel cough vaccine? How can you prevent kennel cough?  

A white dog getting a shot or vaccine.

Is there a kennel cough vaccine? Photography ©EJ_Zet | Thinkstock.

The only way to truly prevent kennel cough is to keep your dog inside and away from any other dogs at all times, which isn’t a very enriching life for your dog or very much fun for you! The next best way to protect your dog from CIRD is to vaccinate your dog.

I’d always thought Bordetella vaccines protected my dogs against kennel cough, but Dr. Ford explains that kennel cough is more complicated than that. “Vaccines are available for many, although not all, of the organisms that cause CIRD. Vaccines used to prevent infection caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus are among the most important,” Dr. Ford advises.

Your veterinarian will advise on which vaccines and at what frequencies are best for your dog. Where I live in New York City, dogs must have Bordetella vaccines every six months, and it’s against the law for boarding kennels, training centers or groomers to have dogs on site without written proof of Bordetella (amongst other) vaccines from a veterinarian.

Thumbnail: Photography ©dimarik | Thinkstock.

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Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author. Her novels have been honored by organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Trainer, and assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

LURVIG Pet Collection from IKEA

LURVIG Pet Collection from IKEA

Just when I was starting to think I was going to have to learn how to pray in Swedish, just like that my prayers have been answered: IKEA has finally released a new pet collection! And, boy, did they ever deliver with the comprehensive LURVIG line, which includes beds, bowls, leashes, toys, travel gear, and everything in between. What makes the LURVIG line extra cool? Aside from embodying the minimal, modern aesthetic you’d expect from IKEA, the items in the collection were designed with durability, safety, and animal behavior in mind, with input from a trained veterinarian. The result? A slow-feed bowl with anti-slip footing, reflective leashes and collars, a soft fold-out bed, and much, much more. Check out the full collection over at IKEA – and then get thee to the big blue box, as the line is available only in stores.

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by Katherine in Beds + Furniture, Collars + Leads, Dining, Toys | Permalink | No comments

Meet the Dog Who Helps Country Star RaeLynn Manage Her Diabetes

When country singer RaeLynn climbs aboard her tour bus, the Type 1 diabetic knows she can count on her German Shepherd Dog to protect her from low blood sugar — and lonely nights. “Jazz has been a lifesaver in so many ways,” the 23-year-old Texas native tells Dogster.

RaeLynn and Jazz: Love at First Sight

RaeLynn and Jazz the dog.

RaeLynn and Jazz the dog. Photography courtesy RaeLynn.

His musical name isn’t what you’d expect to see on the tag of a dog whose human opened for Blake Shelton, but according to RaeLynn, 5-year-old Jazz welcomes a little improvisation and lives up to his moniker. “Jazz is pretty laid-back; he kind of goes with the flow,” she explains. The “WildHorse” singer — who shot to fame as a contestant on The Voice in 2012 — brought Jazz home one year ago, just as her husband, Joshua Davis, embarked on a military career that would see the couple separated for months at a time.

Already a pet parent to a Chihuahua named after country legend Dolly Parton, RaeLynn was looking for a bigger dog who could alert her if her blood sugar dropped and help her feel safe no matter where her tour bus is stopped. After connecting with a German Shepherd Dog trainer, RaeLynn was introduced to her future BFF, Jazz. According to the singer, the well-trained dog was looking for a new home, as his first family was moving and couldn’t keep him. “I was just gonna get a new dog, a puppy — maybe a year old. But Jazz was 4 years old when we got him,” she says. “It was definitely a win-win.”

It was also love at first sight. RaeLynn recalls feeling an immediate connection with Jazz, which was thankfully reciprocated. The trainer wanted to make sure Jazz wanted RaeLynn as much as she wanted him, and not only did Jazz fall for RaeLynn but for Joshua and Dolly as well.

“He probably loves my husband more than he loves me,” says the singer, who adds that she didn’t expect Jazz to click with his new Chihuahua sibling quite as much as he does. She recalls an enthusiastic reunion between the two dogs after a particularly busy month of touring saw Dolly take a break from the road at RaeLynn’s mom’s house.

“When I brought Dolly back, Jazz licked her face for 10 minutes,” she says. “He’d missed her so bad!”

Jazz on Tour

Jazz accompanies RaeLynn on tour.

Jazz accompanies RaeLynn on tour. Photography courtesy RaeLynn.

Dolly shares a bunk with Jazz on the tour bus, but she’s not the only one who likes sleeping with him. RaeLynn describes Jazz as a comforting, nearly human-sized teddy bear whose one fault is following and (accidentally) tripping her if she gets up for a late-night bathroom break. It’s no accident that he’s also trained to get up if the singer’s blood sugar drops. The first time that happened, Jazz alerted her so early RaeLynn didn’t realize what was happening.

“Jazz woke up and was licking my hand, and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I didn’t know if he needed to go potty or what — but then I checked my blood sugar, and it was low.”

While Jazz does accompany RaeLynn to songwriting sessions, he takes a break when she performs for crowds. The singer says Jazz gets nervous when she’s onstage, so he chills out in the bus or the green room while she’s singing. RaeLynn takes extra care to monitor her blood sugar before leaving Jazz to take the stage and feels better knowing he’s with her when the bus pulls out after a performance.

“He makes me so much more confident in the areas that I’m at,” she says. “It’s just like having a piece of home when I’m traveling, and I love that.”

Behind RaeLynn’s songs

RaeLynn and her family.

RaeLynn and her family. Photography courtesy RaeLynn.

After finding fame as a teen on the second season of The Voice, RaeLynn spent years working on her first studio album, WildHorse, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in 2017.

The singer co-wrote all but one of the songs on the record, including the LP’s first single, “Love Triangle.” The emotional lyrics tell a story of divorce from a child’s perspective and were inspired by the singer’s own childhood.

Fan favorite “Lonely Call” is the second single from the record, released in the summer of 2017. Autobiographical like its predecessor,”Lonely Call” was prompted by the end of a romance in the age of smartphones. The breakup ballad has a real-life happy ending, as the man who inspired it is now RaeLynn’s husband.

Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer and country music fan. Her dogs, GhostBuster and Marshmallow, are on Instagram as @ghostpets. Heather is on Twitter at @HeatherMarcoux.

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Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you

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