"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is.
Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"--Tasha Tudor

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Corgi Grooming 101: The Bath

It is a good idea to get your Corgi used to taking baths from the time she is little, whether or not you will show your Corgi in conformation dog shows. You can surely send her to the groomer, but why not try and do it yourself? Do it yourself and in no time you can buy your own grooming table and maybe even a forced air dryer with the money you will save. If you don't have them already, you may want to start designating some towels as 'dog towels.' It is handy to have a bunch of towels you can use not only for bathing and grooming but to put by the door when they come in from the rain or perhaps to put inside a crate or to clean up accidents. Find a shelf or a basket or Rubbermaid container that you can keep the dog towels in. When you need them you won't have to go searching and try and decide whether or not you should use your good towels from the bathroom. Keep an eye on how 'ratty' they get. When they become too dingy or ripped, I take a scissor to them and have instant cleaning rags. Do keep a couple of nice special fluffy ones just for when they get out of the tub and to put on the grooming table while drying. You don't need to wrap your wet dog in a holey towel. Save those for dirty paws and clean up.

When evaluating your Corgi (see previous post) did you notice anything unusual about their skin? If there is any type of persistent itching, there can be many causes. It can simply be that they are blowing coat and the dead fur is annoying. It can be dry skin. It can be an allergy or rash. It can be a tick or fleas (you will probably see flea 'dirt' rather than fleas. Look for tiny reddish-brown flecks in the fur close to the skin. ) I currently use Frontline Plus on my Corgis. I hate the idea of putting this on them, but I hate the idea of them getting a tick or flea borne disease even more. Does your dog have a 'waxy' dirty feel anywhere deep near his skin? You may want to use a drop of diluted dawn or palmolive dishwashing liquid to break this down before shampooing on that area. If there is any type of rash or suspicious skin condition, call your vet. They can usually recommend a medicated or oatmeal shampoo to put the skin right again and help you find the source of the condition.

Pre-bath: Gather your supplies. Put the towels near the tub. Put the zoom groom scrubber, baby shampoo, dog shampoo(s) and conditioner (if you are using it) near the tub. Dilute your shampoo with a little water into a little plastic bowl or something easy to use and non-breakable. Plug in your rinse ace hose or get a plastic pitcher for rinsing if you don't have a rinse ace yet. Will you be on your knees for the bath? Those foam gardener's pads work wonders to cushion your knees while you are washing your Corgi. What are you wearing? You are about to get wet and hairy. Dress appropriately. You can buy grooming smocks or vinyl coated waterproof aprons if you like. Usually for this part, I'm in a tee shirt and jeans. Since I have long hair, I put it in a pony tail or bandanna to get it out of the way :) Put a few cookies in your pockets.

Before the bath, you will want to get as much dead coat out as possible. This is meant to be done fairly quickly. Obviously if you are starting to or in the middle of a full blown coat, it will take a bit more combing before you get into the tub. Start with the undercoat rake (as shown in the photo, previous post) and working from the neck, use the rake to pull up as much dead undercoat as possible by using long strokes from the neck to the rear. You may have to stop every few strokes to remove the fur from your rake. Please don't buy those metal 'loop' rakes with the sharp points to perform this task. I can't believe that they don't scratch the skin and damage the coat. Keep going around the withers/shoulders/fairy saddle area and down each side. Go through the pants. Lift the tail if you have a Cardigan. Go back around the neck and down the chest. When you feel like your rake is pulling up less and less fur, go back and do the same thing with your greyhound comb and finally quickly with one of your brushes. Again, this is not line-combing, we are just trying to get as much loose fur off before the bath as quickly as possible here. If you have a fluffy, it is especially important to try and comb out any tangles now as well. If there are any you can't get out, take a comb with you into the tub and after shampooing you can use conditioner to help you comb them out before rinsing.

Put your dog down and give her a treat. We want grooming to be a happy time. Once she's on the floor, sweep up all of the loose fur you have on the table and on the floor. You don't want to start blowing this around when it is time to start drying. Put a nice fresh towel on the table with your combs and brushes. Put an extra towel on the table. Have a bunch of q-tips and your alcohol within reach. We will use that on the ears after the bath. Plug in your dryer. Use a safe UL listed extension cord if you need to. Go over to the tub and turn the water on to a nice warm temperature. There are many people who will tell you to bathe your dog in only cool water. I personally think the dogs are much more comfortable being bathed in warm water. If they are about to blow coat, a few very warm baths work wonders to get it all out and start new growth coming in. Make sure the drain is open. We are not trying to fill up the tub. Turn off the water, take your Corgi out to pee and then bring her into the tub.

Give her a cookie before you turn on the water. Start at the back and work your way up to the head to wet him thoroughly. Remember, as soon as you wet his head he will shake it. Brace yourself :) Really wet him down. Run your hands in the opposite direction of the fur to make sure the undercoat is getting wet. If you have a fluffy, they sometimes have longer top coat but less undercoat than a normal coated dog and will get completely wet faster. Sometimes. Once they are wet, I like to do the head first and get it over with. Apply baby shampoo to the head between the ears and work it all the way down around the entire head and muzzle. Try not to get any soap in the eyes or water in the ears. Really use your fingertips to massage the shampoo in here. Go under the chin, up around the jaw, the backs of the ears. Rinse well with warm water, rubbing with your hand to get all of the soap out. Wet your washcloth and ring it out tightly. Use it to gently wipe the corners of the eyes. Rinse it. Rinse it and ring it out again. Wrap it around your finger and use it to clean inside the ears. Do not push anything (dirt) further into the ear. Only pull the cloth from the inside out. Remove any dirt you can easily remove from the folds. We will get the rest when he is out of the tub. For now, let the rung out washcloth help you to 'dry' the inside of the ear to make sure there is no water inside. Let him shake his head before you proceed to the rest of the body.

Pour your diluted dog shampoo over her back. Use your fingertips to start massaging the shampoo into the fur. Hold each paw in your hand as you wash it, rubbing it top to bottom with your fingertips. Go all the way up each leg, under the chest and belly, around the withers and stifle. Take special care around her pants and private parts. Make sure you wash off any poop residue that may be clinging to that area. Use your washcloth if you need to. A word of caution here: While you want to get this area clean, you do not want to over-do it with the soap and cause a urinary tract infection. Whether they are boys or girls, be sensible, use very diluted shampoo and rinse carefully. For the intact show boys, you never want to use too hot water on the family jewels as it can affect his sperm count. Remember to keep the water temperature the same as you would use on a baby and you will be just fine.

Rinse the shampoo off with nice warm water. Don't go too crazy here because we are going to repeat. You don't have to do the head again. This time, if you are using purple shampoo for the whites, now is the time to apply it. I do not dilute this shampoo. Pour it directly on to whatever whites you need to brighten up (paws, chest, pants?) Massage it in well until it is nice and soapy and let it sit there according to directions on the bottle. It may take a couple of baths to see a difference if you are dealing with pink or yellow staining on the fur. Now, using your diluted regular shampoo, get your zoom groom and start massaging from the neck to the pants and all around and underneath your dog. If it accumulates fur, just remove it and keep going. Now rinse. Rinsing is the most important part of the bath. Start at the head and rubbing and rinsing, work your way back to the tail. Put the hose right on to the skin and really rinse well. Go under the ears again, under the chin, get the chest and the under-belly. Lift each leg and rinse and rub well under the armpits. Go gently around the private parts and get the pants and tail if you have one. Go around the thigh muscles, down to the hocks, lift and rinse each paw. All rinsed? Soap all out? Good. Now go back and rinse again. Check those 'armpits' again. It is where most people miss getting the shampoo out. If you are trying to bathe without the benefit of a spray hose, you are going to have to be extra diligent in soap removal. If you are using a conditioner or cream rinse, now is the time. Follow the directions on the bottle. I would probably opt for not putting it under the dog, just on the top and sides. If you have a fluffy, always use conditioning rinse after shampooing. If I am bathing a Corgi for the show ring, I skip the conditioner because a correct Corgi coat should not be extremely soft. Rinse well, again. When everything is out of the coat, I give a very very quick (like 10 second) rinse with cold water just to close the hair cuticle on the top coat which leaves it less susceptible to damage. ( I do that with my own hair as well.) Shut off the water, take your towel and draping it over her back and head, wrap up your baby, lift her out of the tub and give her a cookie.

Using that towel, start rubbing her dry. Start with her ears and head and work your way down and all around. Rub and dry each paw and under her belly and chest. Put that towel down and get your other dry one and keep going. If you have someone who can help you, let them stay with the dog and continue towel drying while you go and rinse off and dry your shampoo bottles, rinse the walls and tub and tidy everything back up in there so you will only have the drying area to clean up when you are done.

I will share my blow-drying procedure in the next post, but before that I want to tell you how I clean their ears. Take a q-tip and dip it into the alcohol. Carefully clean out inside the folds of each ear, taking care to only pull the dirt (if there is any) up and out rather than pushing it in. We want our ears to always be nice and clean and dry, always. The alcohol is drying and I find it good for this task. If your Corgi's ears have an unusual amount of dirt in them and after you remove it the ear looks particularly raw and red, I would use hydrogen peroxide rather than alcohol right now just because the alcohol might sting. Use the alcohol tomorrow instead. Clean and dry ears are healthy ears and makes them less susceptible to infections and ear mites.

Upcoming grooming posts: Drying, line combing, nails.

Still with me? :) -CS ^..^

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Corgi Grooming 101

Hi there! Well here we are as promised. Welcome to Cathy's Corgi Grooming 101. In the photo you can see some of my well-used (notice the fur and chalk all over these!) grooming tools.

Most people don't have the luxury of a 'dog room' or a 'grooming room' complete with a special sink used for bathing their dogs, a grooming table and a forced air dryer. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I will share with you things that have been shared with me or I've discovered through the years regarding getting our Corgis clean and in good shape. I will tell you what I use (most of which has been accumulated over time) and some alternatives you can try if you don't have these items and getting them is not an option right now or you have them on your wish list for the future. Don't be afraid to adapt my suggestions for your own situation or to come up with creative uses for items you already have at home that can help make grooming time pleasurable and rewarding for you and your Corgi.

Let's take a good look at your Corgi:
So let's start with the basics, shall we? First, take a good look at your Corgi. What does her coat look like? Is it shiny and clean? Run your fingers deep into her coat, especially back toward her nub (or tail if you have a Cardi.) Does her coat feel dry and brittle? Does it feel luxurious and thick? Sad and skimpy? Does it have a dirty 'waxy' feel deep down toward the back? Take a good look down through the undercoat. How does his skin look? Pink? Flaky? Flecks of 'dirt'? Start at the back and working your way up inch by inch, really feel and look down at the skin. Check for any weird lumps, bumps, ticks, bites, anything. You should be very familiar with how your dog feels so when something is amiss you will find it right away. He will think he is getting a great massage and love it. Don't forget to turn him on his side or back and get the belly and chest, too. Lets look inside those glorious ears. What color are they inside? Are they a nice healthy pink? Is there dirt stuck here and there in the folds? Is there so much crud that the ear has a firey raw red-pink color? How about those nails? Is the fur under the paw (and ONLY under the paw) trimmed to show off the nice oval shape? Are the nails nice and short? Are they so long that her nails look more like talons on a big bird? :) Let's look inside her mouth next. Are the teeth nice and white with no plaque or tartar up toward the gumline? Is the gumline a nice healthy pink or red and raw? How does her size look? Is she overweight? Underweight? Do you know her weight? Stand up and look down at her. She should have a little waist. Does she? You should be able to feel her ribs but not see them. Really give a good evaluation. We are not being critical to beat ourselves up here, but in order to keep doing what has been working and work on areas that could use a little help. You may want to jot down a few notes for yourself as you go over your dog.
Assemble your grooming tools:
After you have evaluated your Corgi, assemble whatever grooming tools you may already own. If I could have only one grooming tool, it would be a good medium-coarse 'Greyhound comb.' There are a wide variety of combs out there, but I would choose one that is coated steel (as in the fur coated one in the photo above) or a traditional 'flat edged' similar greyhound comb, typically in a silver finish. In my opinion, learning how to properly "line-comb" your Corgi is the most important grooming skill you can add to your routine. More about that later. :)
Second on my list would be my trusty Mason-Pearson bristle and nylon combination brush, the black handled/red cushioned one in the photo. I have had the one above for years, as you can probably tell by the worn writing on the handle. It is an oh-so-spendy brush. We're talking the Manolo Blahniks of brushes here. If you have one for yourself, you know how wonderful they are. The Mister had originally bought one for me for a birthday gift for myself, many years ago. He just rolled his eyes when he saw that I decided to use that one for the Corgis (but it is also the brush he picks up when he feels like brushing one!) I've seen other natural bristle and nylon combination brushes that probably work very well and are 1/4 of the price, so do shop around if you decide to buy one.
Third on my must-have list is a good undercoat rake. This is not something you need to use every time you groom. When your Corgi starts to blow their coat (typically once or twice a year) you will be amazed at how well this removes the dead undercoat. You can find these pretty inexpensively in any pet supply store or catalog. I've added a few of the products I mentioned here to my Amazon widget to the left of this blog as that is where I purchased some of them, but do shop around.
Last but definitely not least is a good pin brush. The one in the photo is a Chris Christensen #27 brush. Mary Elizabeth gave it to me for Christmas. Carolann Van Wyen decorated it with her burning technique artwork. Mine has a likeness of Bridget and my name and it is one of my favorite gifts ever. This is not a 'slicker' brush, or one of those brushes with sharp pinchy bristles. This brush has a nice soft feel as it goes through the coat, but is firm enough to really get down and do it's job. Again, this brush is a bit spendy as well, but you can certainly find other brands or types that will do a fine job. But if you want something special, check out Carolann's work. You won't be disappointed.
One more thing to have on hand: a spray bottle for water. Make sure you can regulate the tip for a mist rather than only a stream. You can pick one up in the drug store.
The Bath:
If you do not have a special sink with a spray hose that you can use to bath your dogs, then I will share with you a life-changing secret. OK, OK, maybe not life-changing, but certainly a secret that can make bathing your dog so much easier. It is a product called a 'Rinse Ace.' This is not one of those rubber hoses that you push on to a faucet (that never fit) and as soon as you turn on the water they blow off. With this one, you simply follow the directions to remove your shower head, attach a little piece of hardware and screw your shower head back on. The hose and sprayer attach directly to the little piece you added on. You can take the hose on and off when you need to use it! And bonus? You can attach it when you want to clean the bathtub or shower walls or wash a child's hair in the tub. The one I have has a 6 foot hose and a sprayer with a trigger you squeeze like a kitchen sink sprayer. It is called the Rinse Ace Power Sprayer. It is awesome. However, I do see that they now have one with an 8 foot hose which they are calling the Rinse Ace Pet Shower Deluxe. I have not tried it, and I don't know if the sprayer is as powerful as the one I have, but I am tempted because it has two extra feet of hose which can help get under those short Corgi legs. I put both of them in my Amazon link to the bottom left of this blog (says Good Reads and Inspiration) so you can see them. Check out the Rinse Ace website for more info and their other products.
Next after the Rinse Ace, the second bath product I love is called a Zoom Groom. It is an inexpensive rubbery scrubbing thingy that really helps you to massage all the way down to their skin and aids in removing dead fur. I was skeptical until I tried it. Even though you will be combing your Corgi thoroughly before bathing, the fact is that there will still be quite a bit of fur that comes off in the tub. You do not want this fur going down the drain. Depending on what kind of drain you have, there are drain screens to fit over it to catch the fur. I highly recommend using them whenever you bath your dog. You may have to scoop the fur out as you go so the water can go down the drain, but it is better than having to deal with a clog down the road. You can find these online and in hardware stores.
Of course we will need a good dog shampoo. I always use a (human) baby shampoo on my Corgis heads and faces so if soap gets in their eyes it won't sting. On the rest of their body, there are so many choices that your head can spin when you try and choose one. One shampoo that I've been using for everyday was Mrs. Meyers pet shampoo. I am so sad that they have recently discontinued it and have been buying it up in the store whenever I see it. Whatever shampoo you use, I recommend that you dilute it before putting it on your dog. Even just a little. If their white parts (paws, chest, pants) look like they could use a little brightening, I use Chris Christensen White On White shampoo on those parts. It is dark purple and may look a little scary to put on their whites, but trust me, it rinses out completely and you are left with whiter whites. A little secret: while I don't recommend using products made for humans on dogs, in a pinch I have used a shampoo from Clairol called, 'Shimmer Lights.' It is intended for use on silver, grey or white human hair to remove any yellow cast. I've used it on my dog's paws. My grandmother who was a hair colorist told me about it years ago, not for the dogs but to remove any brassiness from highlights you may add to your hair! I'm brunette and depending on my mood when I go to the salon I tend to get caramel color highlights and occasionally use the Shimmer Lights shampoo in the Summer if the sun turns them a little brassy. Oh yes, back to the dogs...... Right now under my sink I have lots of different shampoos. Besides the Mrs. Meyers (sigh) the ones I keep reaching for are: a shampoo from an Australian company called Plush Puppy. It smells really good, almost like a men's cologne. I also have #1 All Systems shampoo and a shampoo and conditioner from a company called Sweet Petula I found on Etsy which I like very much.
Drying your Corgi:
Towels. You will need 2 or three towels, a face washcloth and some q-tips, and rubbing alcohol.
Where are you going to dry your Corgi and what will you use to dry her with? A grooming table with an arm and a 'noose' make grooming your dog so much easier. If you do use a grooming arm and noose, you will want to make sure you NEVER ever leave your dog unattended for even one second. This is why gathering all of your tools before you begin is important. Before you attach the noose to the grooming arm, make sure you attach a safety release that would allow her to break free should (God forbid) she fall from the table. If she jumps from the table without it, she could hang herself and die. Please remember, safety first in all things. Safety first. What about a dryer? A forced air dryer which does not have a heating element (such as a Metro) is the ideal. It blows the water right off of your dog and once you have used one you will want one of your own. But what if you don't have a grooming table and a forced air dryer? Here is where you want to get a little creative. If the weather is nice and you are outside, do you have a sturdy picnic table that you can put a thick towel on and groom your dog there? How about a rubber mat or towel on top of a hard topped dog crate? Did you know you can also buy a grooming arm and clamp without a grooming table? If you already have a table you think you can use, then this may be a good alternative for you. Just remember that the clamp will be tight on the table and can scratch it up. You can try putting a thin cloth in between, but you are still tightening a clamp to the surface, so be aware of that before you potentially damage a favorite table. Unless your dog has been trained to stand or lie down without moving, I highly recommend enlisting the help of a friend to hold your dog while you are drying and grooming. What about the dryer? If you don't have a forced air dryer, you can certainly use your regular blow dryer. Just be aware of how hot it is. Hot air is really not great for coats. You also don't want to burn your furry friend. Always keep a finger between your dog and the dryer so you are constantly aware of the temperature.
Oh God, those nails! :
What will you need to start working on those nails? Try a nail grinder or a dremel rather than a traditional nail clipper. You still need to be mindful of the 'quick' of the nail with a grinder, but even though your dog may not be used to the sound and feel of it at first, it is a much better way to get those nails looking spiffy in no time. You will need a scissor to trim the fur on the pads of their paws as well. Some people use a little hair shaver to buzz it off. I prefer a scissor but that is entirely up to you. Have some Groomax powder or other styptic powder on hand in case you do come too close to the quick. This will quickly stop any bleeding. The more frequently you do his nails, the more you will train the quick to go back and the shorter you will be able to get them and the more used to having them done he will be.
What about those choppers?
You want to brush your Corgis teeth on a regular basis. There are many good soft toothbrushes and toothpaste on the market. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog! For one thing, it will foam up and your dog won't know to spit it out. Instead of dog toothpaste, sometimes I will pour a little hydrogen peroxide (the kind for first aid, not for hair coloring!!) into a little saucer and have another small container with water and another saucer with a bit of baking soda in it. I dip the brush into the water, then the peroxide and then the baking soda (not much) and use that to brush their teeth. I also will use a dentist's tooth scaler if I need to. Mary Elizabeth and I are very used to doing this with one person holding open the mouth and the other doing the scaling. I do not recommend that you try this at home. It takes practice, and you can damage the gums and the tooth enamel if not done properly. Stick to the toothbrushing. Tartar is something that is not only unsightly, but did you know that it can introduce certain bacteria and viruses that damage your dog's heart? If you have tartar that you can't remove, let your veterinary dental hygienist handle it.

Wow! You're still with me? I'm impressed. That's pretty much it as far as the basic grooming tools and supplies you will want to gather together. In the posts ahead, I will go through the techniques we use for bathing, drying, combing, brushing and grooming coat and doing nails and teeth. I can just see Corgis everywhere running and hiding. -CS ^..^

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our first egg! Oh happy day!

I can't believe my eyes. Finally! FINALLY! Our first egg! There it was, just laying there in the nesting box. Oh joy! Oh happy day! I don't know which of the girls laid it, but thank you Abigail or Josephine, two of the most spoiled Silver Laced Wyandottes on the planet. Hopefully the start of more eggs to come. -CS ^..^

Pretty as a picture.

Oh, hello there! Thanks for stopping in. I was just answering a few emails. I get quite a bit of Corgi related email questions. Two subjects that seem to come up quite often are photographing and grooming. I will tell you that I am not a professional photographer and I am not a professional groomer. I do take loads of photos and a do groom my Corgis a lot. Most of the photos shared on my blog are taken by me unless stated otherwise. I am always asked, "How do you get the dogs to stay like that?" The answer is patience and luck. Especially with puppies. Patience and Luck. Now Mary Elizabeth Simpson (my dear friend and Reinwood Corgis partner) is an amazing dog trainer which helps tremendously when trying to set up a shot. She also is a fantastic photographer. One of my favorite photos she took, which I have in a little frame in my studio is the one above. It is a bittersweet photo because only two of those precious Corgis are still with us. When you see a nice photo or two here, what you don't see are the fifty others that didn't work out. What ever did we do before digital cameras?

Here I was lying down on the grass trying to photograph a puppy when this other little puppy decided to climb on my back. Mary Elizabeth (who was next to me also trying to get a shot) quickly snapped this one. It looks like he is looking over my shoulder supervising the shot! One tip I can give you when photographing your dog is to try and get down on their level so you are not pointing the camera down at the dog, unless that is what you are going for. Try and make sure that the sun is behind you, not your subject. Get as close as possible and have pockets filled with treats for your dog. Try and keep the setting calm and fun. If you are not enjoying it, stop and try another day. You will not get a good photo if you are aggravated and your dog will only sense your frustration. You want to keep it a good experience so he is happy to oblige the next time, knowing you've got the jackpot of treats in your pockets.

As for the pretty part, I know it sounds crazy, but I really love grooming my Corgis. I find it relaxing (except when bathing one who has always been a maniac in the tub) and I know it makes them feel good when they are clean and bright. Regular grooming is a good way to be vigilant about looking for ticks or any lumps or bumps or weird things that need attention or that you may want your veterinarian to see. Mary Elizabeth and I groom all of our dogs regularly. Whether they are show dogs or retired Champions or do agility or obedience or have never stepped a paw in any kind of ring their whole lives, we groom them all the same. Over the next few days I will share with you some home grooming tips for your own dogs. With a few basic skills and tools, it is really quite easy to keep them looking spiffy.
I will share a few of my favorite products as well as how I use them. And don't worry, I haven't forgotten to show you the studio as it is coming along. Stay tuned! xo -CS ^..^

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Friday!

It is supposed to be a record hot and sunny day tomorrow here in New York.
Have a lovely weekend my friends! xo xo -CS ^..^

Thursday, April 23, 2009

At The Aquarium

Yesterday (Wednesday, "Earth Day,") my daughter Laura and I decided to visit the Maritime Aquarium in nearby Norwalk, Connecticut. The Maritime Aquarium is devoted to protecting and teaching about our wonderful Long Island Sound. One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that you get to act on spontaneous and delightful whims. The local advertisements for the African penguins that arrived a few weeks ago proved too much for us to resist. Here are a few photos of some of the exhibits we saw.

Up close and personal. (yikes!)

(Who needs TV? It's always "shark week" here...)

Gigantic tanks behind the aquarium

A very 'New Englandy' type quotation on the wall heading toward the Imax theater.

We saw The Wild Ocean film. It was great.

There were quite a few of these rays, stingers removed, in a hands-on exhibit. I really didn't want to, but the docent insisted that I roll up my sleeves and 'pet' the slimy creature and I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I did. They were eerily friendly in a slimy fishy sort of way.

Lots and lots of jellyfish.

A gecko.
I tried to ask him about insurance, but he was a little snobby and stand-off-ish.

Here are three little videos I took with my camera. Before you play them you may want to pause my 'blog music' by scrolling down to the music sidebar on the left and hitting the pause button. (It is the one that looks like a sideways = sign.) Don't you just love the old song "Calypso?" It was written by John Denver as a tribute to his friend Jacques Cousteau and his marine research vessel by that name.

Back to the videos. The first one is the big aquarium with the sharks. I swear one was staring at me like it wanted to have me for lunch. You can hear a very nervously excited little boy in the background. He was clinging to his father for dear life and saying something about "kicking the shark's butt" should the glass wall disappear.

This is seal feeding time. It is a little hard to hear because there are lots of excited children surrounding the little area that the seals swim into when it is feeding time. At the very end of the clip you can see one seal jump on the rock near the woman and if you watch till the end of the clip you will see the seal put her 'flipper' on the woman's knee the way one of my Corgis puts her paw on my foot when she is waiting for a cookie to drop. Very cute.

This one is only a couple of seconds long but shows their cuteness.

Here is Laura headed toward the outdoor penguin exhibit.

We decided that this mug in the giftshop gets
"The Unfortunate Mug Of The Day Award."
The coastlines disappear when you put a hot beverage into it.

(Note to self: not a gift for friends on anti-depressants.)

Much better!

Have a happy day my lovelies! -CS ^..^

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something Extraordinary

There are special moments in life that just stay with me. You know, those 'Kodak moments,' those times or favorite images that we know are coming during special events or even just the miracle of the 'everyday' or dailiness of our lives. For example, my favorite wedding photo is usually when the rice (or bird seed these days) is thrown at the newlyweds. I love when small babies make that sucking motion with their sweet baby lips when they are fast asleep. I love generational photos of little wise old great great grandmas with a knowing twinkle in their eyes holding the hands of their young granddaughters.

I'm just back from the Potomac Corgi Specialty Show. The very handsome CH. Happiharbor Saddlelane Ty went Best of Breed. The show was wonderful, as always. The Potomac club always does a great show. The judges all did a fantastic job. The Best of Breed ring was breathtaking. The moment when the judge says to the entire class, 'take them all around please' is one of those moments that sticks with me. To me, one of the prettiest sights is watching a lovely ring at a Specialty filled with Champion Corgis all go around together. It is in this moment that one can see the love and devotion to the breed shine through. The very best 'on the day' goes home with the coveted Best of Breed, but we all share in this win, really. For it is not the brilliant ruffled piece of taffeta ribbon part of the win that we share, but something much, much more. It is everything that we know goes into achieving this prize. It is all about love. And with that love comes a promise to protect and improve the breed for future generations. It is why we spend our days taking care of the insides and outsides of these wee beasties. Showering them with love and care. That's why we make the trek to these shows I think. Packing way too much 'stuff' into our vans and cars to attend these shows. It is a ton of work, but so very worth it.

So, we make the trek. Of course we all want to win, too! Specialty shows are a wonderful place to have breeder judges who have spent their lives devoted to the breed give us all a chance to perhaps make a little pawprint in our history for future generations to study and learn from.

I have yet to unpack my car. I have way more email in my inbox than when I left home on Wednesday for Gettysburg, PA. I still don't know who was voted off American Idol (don't tell me...I've got it on my DVR!) And speaking of 'Idols,' do yourself and your spirit a favor and watch this very short video clip of Britain's Got Talent. Even Simon Cowell was truly impressed by this Scottish 47 year old singer who just wanted a chance. Singing "I dreamed a dream" from Les Miserables, is Susan Boyle. Susan, I wouldn't change even one hair on your head. You are lovely. Turn up your speakers and be inspired, my friends. xo xo xo -CS ^..^

photo copyright ITV

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Original ACEO Art Cards

ACEOs are a great way to own and collect original art. These little cards are enchanting and pack a wallop when it comes to versatility. They can be framed as is or matted and framed or placed in an album for a fantastic collection of miniature Original paintings from your favorite artists. They are about the size of a standard playing card. Click the Ebay logo to see these new 5 and 7 day auctions! -CS ^..^

My items on eBay

Monday, April 13, 2009

Green Squinty Glowing Corgi Eyes, or A Tale Of 10 CERF Exams

About a week ago, Mary Elizabeth and I took advantage of a hip and eye 'clinic' sponsored by the Nutmeg Portuguese Water Dog Club in Connecticut. We were honorary PWD's for the day. It is good to be able to bring your dog to one of these sponsored exams because the normal vet fee is usually discounted a bit and when you have a few dogs to check, the savings can quickly add up, leaving you money to buy more dog biscuits and toys or go to Starbucks :)

Eye drops which cause dilation are needed for part of the exam. They need about 15 minutes to work and then the doctor will bring your furry friend in for the examination. As you may be able to tell from the photos, the drops cause their eyes to glow green and get squinty when the light hits them.

Mary Elizabeth had her camera so I just had to snap these photos. Having parents and babies together was just too blog-worthy for me to pass by. The top photo are Halo & Darby babies, the bottom are Bridget & Darby/Gabe babies. Thanks to Jeanne (to Mary Elizabeth's left) and Jo Ellen (to Mary Elizabeth's right) for helping with the photos!Left to right: Romeo (Jeanne) Emma, Halo (Mary Elizabeth) Darby, Kaizey (Jo Ellen) and Willow (giving Jo Ellen a kiss!)

Here we have Bridget and her babies. Left to right: Cash, Bridget, Amy and Stella (who surprised Jo Ellen by jumping up when she heard a noise!)

Getting a CERF exam is easy and pretty quick. You need to have your dog's permanent ID# (microchip), AKC registration number and date of birth when you go. The board certified veterinary opthalmologist will fill out a form that looks like this one below (Bridget's) which then can be mailed to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation in Illinois. Any dog used for breeding should have their eyes examined and be found within normal limits. Annual re-examination is recommended for any animal that is directly or indirectly involved in a breeding program.

Happy Monday! xo xo -CS ^..^

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

"He is not here, for He is risen as He said." -Matthew 28:6

Wishing you all a Joyous Easter.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Meet Lola

This is what happens when you have an extra crate in your car. You go to the vet and come home with a bunny who needs a home. She is a rather large rabbit. Very friendly. She loves to hop around while I'm painting. Isn't she a cutie pie? She's a good girl and very sweet. Except when she tries to nibble the hem of my jeans....

Here she is munching on some goodies in her bowl. She is standing in front of those drawers I painted (still looking for key tassels for them!) I did go with the red rick-rack design with the knobs painted red with white polka dots. The underside of them are painted white. I love love love the way they turned out. They look like magical little toadstools. More photos of the room in progress will be coming soon.
Here is a little Corgi with bunnies and carrots painting (the frame is about 3") I did for a "Colonel Bunn Exchange" with my kindred spirit Tasha Tudor friends in our Take Peace group. You can read about it at this post on Suzanne's blog. It is destined for Alaska, scheduled to be delivered today.
I hope she likes it! I'm working on a few other small paintings that I hope to put on Ebay or Etsy later on. I'll post here as soon as I finish them. Have a lovely day everyone!
Warmly, Cathy ^..^

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Artist Confidential: Billy Ray Cyrus at Sirius Satellite XM Radio

If watching a studio recording of one of your favorite artists behind sound proof studio glass with about 38 people sounds like a party, then pinch me and pass me a party hat because that's where I was today. My daughter and I got to attend the recording of a wonderful performance by Billy Ray Cyrus at Sirius Satellite XM Radio in New York City. If all you know of Billy Ray is the handsome guy singing Achy Breaky Heart or only know him from Hannah Montana, then you have a lot of catching up to do. Stop by his website and have yourself a listen to some of his newest music and see all of the fantastic and creative things he has been up to. He is not only a song writer and musician, but an actor and tirelessly gives of himself to support our troops and many charities that are close to his heart. His new album Back To Tennessee is out today. Billy Ray did a few songs from it for us, along with some old favorites. It is wonderful. The song Back To Tennessee is in Hannah Montana The Movie which comes out this Friday, April 10th. Just go on and see it. ( You know you wanna.) The movie and soundtrack also feature Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift and Steve Rushton. Not too shabby, eh?
Oh yes, back to today. I've never been to a recording studio or radio station before so it was fun just to be there. A few years ago The Mister and I had tickets and backstage 'meet and greet' passes to see Billy Ray at one of the Casino theaters in Connecticut. My dear Grandma died that day so of course we had to give them up. Today more than made up for it though. It felt like he was performing just for us and at certain points during the interview conversations I almost forgot where I was because Billy Ray is so down to earth and puts such heart, honesty and thought into his answers that it was like listening to an inspiring friend over an iced tea on the front porch. One thing that always amazes me about him is that he has such a diverse audience of all ages. I'm not sure when the performance will air, but did you know that you can subscribe to listen to Sirius Satellite XM Radio over the internet as well as the radio? They have tons of channels and something for everyone. They will surely announce Billy Ray's show on their site. Bravo and many thanks to the Artist Confidential crew over at Sirius as well. I appreciated the invitation very much.
Now for a few photos. It is nearly impossible to take a photo (even without a flash) with glass in between, so I apologize for the blurry and the glare. Still, I think you'll get the idea of the set up for the performance. The band is Miley Cyrus's band. Billy's band 'Sly Dog' wasn't there today. You can click on the photos to enlarge them a bit if you like.

Brandi Cyrus, Billy Ray's lovely eldest daughter.

Here's an autograph wall near the recording booth. For all of you Hannah Montana
fans, note Miley in the corner.

And since the Sirius Satellite studio was practically across the street from Magnolia Bakery...

I'm happy to put last week's computer woes behind me.
There's nothing like Billy Ray Cyrus, a day with my daughter and pretty cupcakes to put you right again! -CS ^..^