Weekend Laughs, Part II

It’s nearly the end of the week, and I think we could all need a little laughter. Here are some comics that made me chuckle. I think all dog owners can relate!

From theycanttalk.com

Dog Breed Gift Guide: Gifts for the Boston Terrier Lover

As most of you know (or if you read my about page), I have a Boston Terrier named Gant, who is the inspiration behind Sacco Studios.

You’re probably wondering, “why haven’t you done a feature on them?!” well, lately, Boston Terriers seem to be everywhere, from cute handbags, to shoes and more! It’s really easy to find something when their adorable faces.

But, I can’t resist and must do a Boston Terrier guide. I’m going to show you some products that I’m obsessed with, and even currently own! So now you can proudly proclaim your love of the “The American Gentleman”!

Boston Terrier pajama set – $68.00 from Kate Spade. Whether you’re headed to bed or lounging watching your favorite show, you’ll always be stylish. I bet you could even get away with wearing the shirt while running errands! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Boxers, $8 from Banana Republic. I got my husband a pair of these! Maybe I should buy some for myself… Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Print, $5. From Sacco Studios (yes, that’s me!). Inspired by my own dog, Gant, I used an image of him when he was a puppy, and made it into a stylish, pop styled print. Perfect for any home! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier earrings, $13, from Doodleworm on Etsy. I have the necklace version of this, but these earrings sure are adorable! The perfect handmade gift for your favorite Boston terrier dog mom! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier baby shoes, $12.00, from Fawn Hollow Designs on Etsy. The cutest shoes your baby will ever wear. Now only if they had them in my size… Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier tote bag, $21.50 from The Plaid Apple Shop on Etsy. Look stylish carrying your farmer’s market finds. Obsessed with the pop of red in the glasses! Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier salt box, $46.00 from Hideminy on Etsy. A perfect addition to any Boston lover’s kitchen. Click here to shop.

Boston Terrier Notepad (set of 50 sheets per set), $14.00 from Hourglass Design Co on Etsy. Making to do lists will never be boring again. Click here to shop.

That’s it for today’s gift guide! Do you have an awesome Boston Terrier finds that need to be shared? Sound off in the comments below!

Small Business Feature: A Big Friendly Ginger

Brenner posing with one of my art prints! Posted with permission by @bigfriendlyginger
Purchase here.

Hello! Happy Thursday! I am sorry there wasn’t a blog last week. Family was in town, and of course, time got away from me. But, I’ve had some great projects in the works, including this awesome interview with “A Big Friendly Ginger” (@bigfriendlyginger), an adorable instagram account featuring Brenner, an adorable golden retriever, If you haven’t seen their account, please check it out!

I asked Mariah, Brenner’s dog mom, a bunch of questions, including how she came up with the name “A Big Friendly Ginger”, how she gets Brenner to pose for all those adorable photos, and so much more! I hope you enjoy!

Tell us about yourself.
I’m Mariah, Brenner’s mom, and the “bfg” is Brenner. We are currently residing in Gainesville, Florida. I moonlight as Becky on the gram (I don’t know how that started). Aside from full time dog momming, I’m also a scientist. I work with agricultural and entomological viruses to improve food security. Photography has been a hobby of mine for a few years, but it wasn’t until Brenner that I started shooting dogs.

Mariah, Brenner’s dog mom! Photo posted with permission from @bigfriendlyginger

I started Brenner’s account January 2017. He was a year and a half at the time. I actually wasn’t planning to ever be one of “those people” with a gram for their dog…but well, here we are. Foot meet mouth.

I enjoy it so much it’s my main focus now. As I had said before, I didn’t want to start up an instagram for Brenner, but it got to the point that I had all these cute shots, but nowhere to show them off. I had already over saturated Facebook with his face. A dog friend of Brenner’s had an account, and convinced me to give it a try. Even though I’m now a hypocrite,  it’s been a lot of fun! Especially meeting new people and dogs that we would have never known otherwise. It’s also great to be involved with Brands, and working with small businesses. I had never imagined Brenner’s account getting to this point. Shout out to my lovely followers!

How did you come up with your name, “A Big Friendly Ginger?”
Originally, I set up Brenner’s account under @Only_ingold. Right away I realized I hated it! It just didn’t fit Brenner and it wasn’t catchy. But I struggled coming up with a new name, so I kept it for a while. Inspiration for abigfriendlyginger actually came from our followers who ragged on Brenner for being a redhead. It was all in good fun, and it just kind of stuck with me. So, I decided to embrace his ginger-ism and go with it. He’s also a hefty chonker by nature. BFG just suits him.

Tell us about Brenner. He’s so cute!
Brenner is going to be 4 this June (June 22nd). I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old. Brenner came into my life at a time when I really needed companionship and someone to go places with. I had moved out to Iowa to start graduate school, it was the first time I was truly on my own.

Everyone I knew was back on the east coast and I had a difficult time making new connections. Brenner just kind of fell into my lap. A family in a small town had a litter of goldens and I went to just look and see. I’d say about twenty minutes after going to “just look” I was riding home with a puppy that I didn’t have the money to pay for, hadn’t let my landlord know about, and my boyfriend hadn’t known I was getting. Fast forward a few years and Brenner has been the best companion a girl could ask for.

Brenner is a big, friendly dope. He doesn’t know the word “stranger.” Everyone is friend. He smiles all the time and loves to go hiking. Swimming is probably his favorite thing in the world. He’s been swimming since he was 8 weeks old, and it’s never too cold for a swim. He, however, is the slowest runner in the world.  

I also see a cute cat that shows up in the photos. Tell us about the cat!
So there are actually 3 cats. Elsie was a shelter cat, and is the oldest at 11. She’s the big sassy fluff monster who loves photography paper. Lucy, is a tortoise shell and 9 months old. She was a feral kitten I rescued from a busy roadway back in August. Gus is 6 months, and friends of mine found him after he was thrown onto a highway. This sadly is not an uncommon occurrence here in Florida. Gus is the one seen most in photos with Brenner. He’s just such an easygoing cat, it’s not hard to get him to pose.

I post the cats’ videos on our instagram stories, and our highlights have a section dedicated to just them. I especially post a lot of stories with Lucy and Brenner. They’ve been best friends since Lucy first came into our lives. He has taught her how to roughhouse and she’s still trying to teach him how to cuddle.     

How did you develop your photography skills? Tell us about the camera you use.
Everything I’ve learned has been through free online resources (BH Event Space, Creative Live, TWiP, Youtube) and general trial and error. I really like studio photography, but there isn’t a lot of content out there about dogs and studio (at least not when I was first learning). So, I spent a lot of time studying wedding and portrait photographers, such as Sue Bryce, Lindsay Adler, Rick Sammon, Scott Kelby, etc. I figured that while the subject might be different, light behaves in the same way.

I highly recommend that even if you have no interest in photographing people, that you still take the time to learn from portrait masters. They have a wealth of knowledge. If anyone is interested in learning flash photography for the first time, I cannot recommend enough Scott Kelby’s courses.

I started with a Nikon D3000. I bought it used for $200, and then I bought the nikkor 50 mm 1.8. I still use this lens. My all time favorite photo of Brenner was taken with this camera and the kit lens. The D3000 was limited (I couldn’t go past ISO 400!), but I think that actually helped a lot with my photography. It really forced me to learn how to use light and exposure to get a decent image. This is also the camera I was using when I got my first few paid clients. I upgraded about a year ago to the Nikon D750.            

Do you have a studio set up?
It is more of a bedroom setup! Half of my bedroom is dedicated to a slapdash photography studio

How long does it take to do one photo?
This depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. A simple portrait can take about 5-10 minutes for set up and setting adjustments. I usually use a cat to test my settings with first. Brenner is a true professional model and cannot be asked to wait while I fiddle with the camera. (Kidding, the cats like to help set up, so it’s easy to just use them). Brenner does know his job though and as long as there is food, will do most of what I ask. A simple shoot is pretty quick and can be done in 30 minutes, with about 50 photos.

I try to keep my photoshoots spaced out during the month, so that Brenner doesn’t get burn out. If he’s not happy doing it, then a shoot doesn’t happen – or I cut it short. Usually a shoot will be about an hour long, with a few prop or costume changes. This way I have a variety of photos to work with and all done at once.  

Do you plan out your photos for the week? Month? Do you wait for inspiration? Tell us about your process.
For posting photos, yes. I plan out my posts using UNUM for at least a week in advanced. I find this helps me keep a theme and consistent look going. For photo inspiration I keep a little notebook. Any time I have an idea I’ll write it down or draw it in this notebook. Sometimes ideas will come randomly throughout the day, or I’ll see a photo/post that inspires me. My inspiration comes from all different sources. My favorite challenge is to take something I see being done with people and making it work with Brenner.   

How do you get Brenner to pose/sit/give great expressions?
This is all Brenner. He’s not just a good boy, he is the best boy. Brenner has always been a very patient dog, and I’ve been photographing him since he was a puppy. I think he just sees this as his job. And because of photography he knows a lot of weird commands. Like “scootch over.”

When I’m working with dogs that haven’t been in front of a camera before, food, a toy, or a noise maker will help get their attention. For excited dogs you need to work with their energy. Let them run around and get it all out before trying to make them pose. Small dogs are easier to work with if you put them on a platform of some sort. This will help keep them in one place. Working with cats can be hell, good luck.

Getting good expressions can be tricky, but can usually be accomplished with food or noise makers. Brenner has this “I’m bored” face. His eyes will be half closed, his shoulders hunched, and he will have his mouth hanging open – not very attractive.

To get him out of this I’ll try tossing a few treats to him which will force him to pay attention to catch them. If this doesn’t work I’ll try noise makers, or we will take a break and play with one of his toys. Anything to get him back in the game and more active. If all else fails I’ll try changing his position, outfit, or location.  

Show us your favorite photo you’ve taken and why.

Photo reposted with permission by @abigfriendlyginger

I have a lot of photos I love of Brenner, but this is my absolute favorite. This photo was taken in the middle of winter in Iowa. Brenner is a snow dog, he loves it. That day we were out at a local park, it was freaking cold and he was off running through the dead prairie grasses. This photo was taken as he was leaping out of the field and back onto the trail. I think my favorite part about this photo is his ears and his happy face. It is easy to see he was having a blast.

Is there anything you cannot get Brenner to pose or wear for a photo?
I had to really think about this one. So far there hasn’t been anything Brenner the golden retriever hasn’t let me try. He let me put a freaking pumpkin on his head for Halloween.  

I love the videos you do of your pets. How many do you do a day?
Not as many as I would like. I’m trying to get more into video, but it’s just not something I’m very interested in.

What types of businesses do you look for when considering a collaboration?
I’m willing to consider work with many types of brand, as long as they have a good (safe) product that is relevant to my follower base, they’ve been respectful in communications and if I feel comfortable working with them. I try to always do my research on a business before accepting anything from them.

It’s also important to know what a business is looking for when they contact me. I have turned down collaborations because I didn’t think I was the right fit for them. Also, when working with brands know your worth as a content creator. I don’t necessarily mean monetary value, but the value of your time and energy.       

What’s one of your favorite products you’ve collaborated with?
Thats a tough one! Probably our collaborations with Pop Your Pup. Our first collaboration was a tank top with Brenner’s face on it. I wear it all the time.

Can you provide some tips on how to photograph your dog effectively?
There are a few great online resources I can recommend if someone is looking to improve their dog photography in general. Hair of the Dog and Kim Hartz are two good places to start.

My first tip is, if you are first getting into studio photography, start small. You really only need one cheap speedlight and a wireless transmitter. My first flash was a $50 cheapy from Amazon. It came with an equally cheap transmitter. With one flash you can bounce the light off a light-colored wall or ceiling. You can use a white sheet to make your own softbox, or buy a cheap piece of white foam board (Lowe’s or Home Depot) to bounce the flash on.

White foam board (insulation board, polyboard, foam core, etc) can make really handy photography tools. They can be used as backdrops, reflectors or a floor drop. I have two that I use depending on my needs. Backdrops can be as simple as a plain wall, or made out of sheets, swathes of cotton from Joanne’s, or poster board. You don’t need to invest in photography paper off the bat.   

Tip two: This one you might have heard before and that is: shoot from the dog’s perspective. Meaning get at their eye level with your camera. By being on eye level with your dog you will have more connection between the viewer and the photo. But also don’t be pigeon holed by this – shoot at different angles and heights to change it up a bit.

Tip three: Use food to direct your dog’s eyes. If you want them looking into the camera hold the treat against the end of the lens. It can help to have a different person controlling the treats.  

Use treats to get them to look in the direction you’d like them to pose. Photo by @saccostudios

Tip four: If you are having trouble with blurry images, you can try bumping up your shutter speed to 1/1000 sec or faster. If that doesn’t help, or this isn’t possible try holding down the shutter and rapidly taking 3-4 photos. One photo in the sequence will be clear. This is something I learned from a National Geographic photographer who would have to take photos in very low light situations without a tripod. I’m a shaky person, so this method has really helped me a number of times.

Use a shutter speed to reduce blurriness. Photo from @bigfriendlyginger

Tip Five: If your camera can do it, learn to use Kelvin as your white balance. Learning to use Kelvin has greatly reduced my editing time, because all my photos will have the same color temperature. I can just adjust one and then apply that adjustment to the whole sequence.

Tip Six: This is the tip everyone is probably sick of hearing, but it’s the most important thing a photographer can do. Practice! However, that doesn’t mean go out and take the types of photos you are comfortable with.

Practice is only effective when you are pushing your comfort zone and trying things that you know you’ll probably fail at. Do it anyway! Then afterwards really look at the photos and see what went wrong. It can help a lot to go back to old photos and try and pinpoint why you don’t like them. By knowing what you didn’t like, you can start learning to avoid doing that.

Lastly, what are your business goals for 2019?
For 2019, I’d like to work on scene building and incorporating more complex props. I’d like to push to limits of what I can do in my small studio space. Another of my major goals for this year is to get outside my safety net and take my flash outdoors, Kaylee Geer style.

Best Questions To Ask A Rescue Before Adopting

It’s finally time. You’re ready to bring a furry family member into your home. Discussions about the responsibility of taking care of a dog were talked through at length.  You’ve looked on Petfinder, Adoptapet.com, or followed your favorite local rescue. Maybe you’ve already found a couple of dogs that caught your eye, or you know what you’re looking for but want to see options.

But before you take the plunge, here are a few questions you need to ask, not only when you attend the adoption event, but while you’re inquiring about the dog. Working with a few rescues, I have noticed the organizations can ask a lot of information about you, but you deserve to know about the rescue! So here are my go-to questions that will help you make the right decision for your family.

What to ask a rescue….

When researching online:

  • Get the right contact info. If you’re on adoption websites like Petfinder or Adoptapet, a lot of times rescues will post under each of their dogs where and who to contact specifically in the section where you learn about the dog’s background. While there may be a “contact the organization” button to click on, be sure to read and make sure there’s not a separate website or email. A lot of times, organizers like having one source of contact since they have so many inquiries and they will not check those sites, so you may never hear back.
  • Find out the dog’s background and story BEFORE meeting! This happened to me recently. I saw a couple of adorable Boston Terriers, clicked on them, and realized they had the same story on each one! This couldn’t be accurate, as they completely different ages. Also, they will usually say if they’re good with kids, dogs, cats, or housetrained. Contact the organization and get as much information about their background as possible. That dog could not be what you were looking for after all.
A typical profile on Adoptapet.com
  • Look at the reviews! Check google, their Facebook page, Yelp, or any other site where you can get trusted feedback. Did past adopters find the organization helpful? Did they feel the dogs were treated well during their time in the rescue? Also look for responses from them when negative comments are posted. That shows they care and are willing to help.
  • Where does the rescue get their dogs? Do they get them from no-kill shelters? People who surrender them? A mix of both? It’s always good to know where these dogs come from.
  • Is there an adoption application? This is SUPER important! Good rescues will have thorough application process, where they ask questions such as what type of residence to you have (apartment, house, etc.), your vet information, are you able to care for this dog on a daily basis (and not leave it alone for 8 hours a day), references, and other pertinent questions. This shows they want to find the right dog for the right family. Additionally, some rescues take up to a week to process their application, so apply early to get the dog you’ve been eyeing! If the rescue doesn’t have an application process, or it’s not clear how they vet applicants, please make sure you contact them first to see their process. DO NOT work with a rescue you feel isn’t thorough!
  • Do you have another dog? Can you bring your dog to the adoption event? If not,  perhaps at another place by appointment? You want to make sure they get along!
  • What is their vaccination process? Do they do the spay/neuter process? Most rescues do. Some also provide the first months of heartworm and any other medications for the first month the dogs may need. Be sure you are aware of the cost of these important medications and vaccinations they may need.
  • And of course, what is the cost?! Most adoption fees cover the above care. You may think $500 is “a lot”, but if you think that’s costly, then you shouldn’t get a dog. Ask what that fee covers.

What to ask (and do!)

At the adoption event:

So you asked all the right questions, including above, and are ready to attend the adoption event, or meet at the rescue by appointment only.

  • Get to the event early. Speaking from experience, people don’t get to there until the late afternoon, and all the puppies are gone, or the dog they wanted was adopted. If you have your heart set on a dog that you know is going to be there, make sure you arrive right when the event starts, so you’re not disappointed.
  • Be clear on the contract! Some rescues will have a contract upon adoption, where it states their refund policies, what happens if the dog is sick within the first two weeks of being in your care, etc. Be sure you understand everything.
  • What are the medicines they are giving? Some dogs in a rescue’s care can get sick, which is common, as may not have been treated before or get kennel cough, a frequent occurrence in closed spaces. Be clear on the dosage, what it’s for, and how long the dog needs it to be treated.
  • Talk to the foster mom’s (if they’re there!). If you have an idea of what you want but are looking at options, the best way to find out if a dog is right for you is to talk a foster mom! They obviously know the dog best, and they will give you an honest opinion. As much as they want the dog adopted, it’s more important to find the right family. So ask away!

What some questions you recommend potential adopters asking? Comment below!

My Favorite Dog Walking Podcasts, Part II

I swear, all I talk about are how much I love podcasts. I get so excited when a new episode appears; it’s like Christmas, but everyday!

If you haven’t read My Favorite Dog Walking Podcasts, Part I, I suggest you head over there first!

For the listener who STILL can’t get enough of anything Bachelor/Bachelorette related...

OFF THE VINE, with Kaitlyn Bristowe
I don’t know what’s in past contestant’s wine glasses (or cocktails), but it seems every bachelor/bachelorette/adjacent show’s alum has a podcast. Why?! To talk about how much you cried on Bachelor in Paradise and now you can cry some more now that you found your love and can put Crate and Barrel on your wedding registry? I especially don’t need this guy on my feed.

But, I can’t resist one alum’s endless chatter – Kaitlyn Bristowe. I loved her on Chris Soules’ season and as The Bachelorette, and for some reason, I can’t resist listening to every episode. Maybe it’s because she’s so open (sometimes way more than needed), and has amazing guests, like Chris Harrison, a hard to come by guest. I love hearing her talk about behind the scenes gossip. Check her out on PodCast One.

For the listener who uses laughter as therapy…

MY DAD WROTE A PORNO, with Jamie Morton, James Cooper, and Alice Levine
I know, you’re thinking…”Uh…yeah…the title alone makes me cringe”. Well, it should. But in a funny way. Jamie’s dad wrote an actual porno, so he decided to read it out loud, with two of his friends. You will not believe the “plot” of the book – a woman named Belinda Blinked works at a high tech company called “Pots and Pans”…yes, you read that right. Listen to the first episode and you’ll won’t be able to breathe from laughing so hard. Their witty comments and attempt to understand the completely ridiculous plot line will have you peeing in your pants. Check it out here.

For the listener who is fascinated by the world of celebrities…and reads every interview…

The only movies I can name with her in them are House Bunny and Scary Movie, but Anna is ok with that. She wants you to know her as a genuine, candid, and funny interviewer who brings on interesting guests. And, she is all those things and more. She doesn’t ask her celebrity friends the usual questions. Instead, she plays games like “Deal breakers”, and has them help her give advice to callers, who ask all sorts of questions about relationships, family drama, and career moves. Her caring and thoughtful responses make you want to call her up yourself. Listen here

For the listener who wants to know ALL the political scandals…

SLOW BURN, with Leon Neyfakh
This new SLATE podcast revisits major political scandals, starting with Watergate and Clinton’s Affair with Monica Lewinsky. He explains how each scandal started, explaining in a clear, concise and interesting way that even the least politically aware person can understand. It goes to show just how easily we can be manipulated. Click here to listen

Hope you start listening (if you haven’t already!), and tell me what you think! Also, what are your favorite podcasts?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Forget the stupid cards, the boxes of chocolate, the overpriced flowers, and any other dumb marketing that makes you feel less than because you may not have a significant other.

Instead of thinking about this day only honoring those who have a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/whatever, think about it has a day to realize all the people that love you unconditionally, everyday of your life. Your best friend, your grandmother, your favorite aunt. Maybe your sister. How about your coworkers who make work bearable everyday?

Or even better, your DOG! The one who licks your face any chance they get, who keeps bothering you every 15 minutes to throw the ball. Who takes up half your bed even though they’re only 20 pounds. Don’t have a dog? Maybe you have a cat, or a frog, or a lizard. Doesn’t matter. These animals love you unconditionally, no matter your relationship status.

So today, here are some cute photos of Gant, to remind you that our dogs (and other pets), will love you everyday, especially on Valentine’s Day.

Featured image by ShopMoxieMaven on Etsy. Heart print available via my shop link.

Monthly Feature: Gifts for the Boxer Lover

Happy Thursday, dog lovers!

Today, we’re going to feature gifts for one of my favorite breeds: The Boxer. From their short snouts, pointy ears, and to small tails and extremely short fur, they look like the Boston Terrier’s cousin, only much taller and 60 pounds heavier!

According to AKC Kennel Club, they are great dogs for children, and take their role as a guard dog very seriously. It’s important they are exposed to a lot of people and other animals in their puppy stage, so they are properly socialized.

Boxer T-Shirt, $19.99. Buy here.
The neutral color and pop art style drawing make this shirt a stylish way to show off your love for the breed.

Boxer Makeup Bag, $18.40, Buy here.
Store all the essentials in this adorable pouch. The different expressions and poses of these boxers will make you smile every time you open your purse.

Boxer Art Print, Available in various sizes starting at $24.50. Buy here.
A great piece of art for your living room, wine room (if you have wine room, I want to come over), just for any room!

Boxer Dish Towel. $18.00. Buy here.
You’ll (almost) want to do dishes with this hilarious dish towel.

Boxer Baby Pants and Hat Set, $46.00. Buy here.
Start your child early with an adorable clothing set. They’ll look so cute you’ll be taking 54378 photos of them wearing it (before they poop themselves…).

Boxer Glasses Case, $33.39. Buy here.
Protect your precious eye glasses with this stylish case. The hand stitching makes look special and homemade.

Do you have any adorable gifts for this breed? Comment below!
Want to see my other gift guides for different breeds? Click here for French Lovers, Click here for German Shepherds, and here for any dog lover! More breeds to come soon!

10 Ways Your Dog Can Help You Relax

7:00 am. Alarm blaring. Time to get up. Make some breakfast. 7:30. Time to shower, get dressed and get out the door by 8:30. Come home at 5:00, have dinner, watch your favorite shows, and go to bed at 10:00. Then start all over again.

Sound familiar? Whether you’re constantly running around at the office, work at home, or just need a 15-minute mental break, here are 10 ways your dog can help you relax, clear your mind, and notice your surroundings. Even if it’s just for five minutes, dogs can refresh our minds and re-energize us to get through the day.

1.Make a separate album in your phone for just photos of your dog. When you’re having a bad day, head to your photo album. These photos will remind you that no matter what happens, your dog will love you unconditionally.

2. Spend a few minutes rubbing your dog’s ears, belly, or wherever their favorite “spot” is. My dog loves having his ears rubbed. I let my mind focus on the velvety texture of his ears, and his purring sound when he’s content. Let this be your focus for a few minutes.

3. Take your dog on a car ride. Does your dog love being in the car? Press on the gas, blast some music and hang out with your best bud. Notice your surroundings. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

4. Sit at your favorite spot. Do you love heading the local park? Lake? Maybe your back porch? Go there with your dog. Relax, close your eyes, and just focus on the sounds around you. We live near a few lakes, so I like to take my dog, sit on the bench, and watch the ducks wade in the clear water.

5. Look forward to them greeting you at the door. Whenever I come home, my dog enthusiastically waits at the door, jumping up and down with excitement. Knowing that there’s always someone excited to see me makes my long days that much better.

6. Make plans just for you and your dog. Had a really long week? Maybe you just want to relax instead of going out on Saturday night. Consider taking the evening off. Cook a homemade meal or get takeout (Five Guys, here I come), a nice bottle of wine, and put on your sweats for a night of binge watching. Make sure you have plenty of blankets for snuggling.

7. Walking always helps. Your dog has to go on walks, at the very least. Put your phone away, and just enjoy your neighborhood surroundings.

8. Let the dog sleep in your bed. Studies show our furry family members actually help us sleep better. This proves it.

9. Teach your dog a new trick. Help your dog improve his “playing dead” pose, or sit on command. Maybe you had one of those days where it felt like nothing got done. Helping your dog master a task can help you feel more confident.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

10. Take a selfie with your dog. Then follow step 1.

Great non-romantic gifts for Valentine’s Day

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Even though I am married now, I still don’t like it. My husband and I treat it like a regular Tuesday.

It’s a day where single people are supposed to feel bad because they don’t have someone to give them a bunch of roses or chocolates. Or take them out to restaurant where the menu prices are exponentially higher because it’s February 14th.

So today, I’m going to make a list of great gifts to give to anyone BUT your partner. How about a great card for your sister? BFF? Grandmother? Because everyone deserves to be loved, not just your romantic partner. And these will last longer than a heart shaped candy box.

Because dogs really are the best Valentine. Get this card along with a great bottle of wine. To buy, click here.

I mean, duh! Rock this anytime of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day. To buy, click here.

An adorable tote bag to remind you that your dog unconditionally loves you. To buy, click here.

The perfect gift for your plant-loving friend or family member. To buy, click here.

A beautiful, personalized necklace with your favorite pooch’s name. The perfect way to honor them. To buy, click here.

What are some of your favorite non-romantic gifts to give/receive? Sound off in the comments below!

My favorite dog-walking podcasts: Part I

Lately, it seems I listen to a lot more podcasts. I couldn’t tell you the top 10 hits on Spotify, but if you have an hour, I’ll talk your ear off about my favorite shows.

I love listening them when walking my dog. The stress of the day fades away as I listen to topics ranging from self-help to witty pop culture commentary to crazy murder stories and so much more!

Today, I’m going to list some great podcasts for just about every dog walker. No matter your interest, there is something out there for you! I will have many more podcasts to list, so this is PART I of my favorite dog-walking podcasts!

For the…
One who is always trying improve themselves:

BY THE BOOK PODCAST, with Jolenta Greenberg and Kristin Meinzer
Each week, these good friends try a different self-help book, follow it to the letter for 2 weeks straight, and decide at the end whether or not it changed their lives. They’re incredibly funny, real, and honest. They also have an epilogue after each episode, where they read fan mail and discuss if they have continued to use those book’s principles. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the…
Bachelor/Bachelorette Fan with Sarcasm

HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS, with Emma Gray and Claire Fallon
These hilarious writers lovingly snark on all Bachelor, Bachelorette and adjacent shows, recapping meticulously every episode of this famed reality show. They bring in amazing guests, from past Bachelor contestants to hilarious EW writer Kristen Baldwin. My favorites are when they bring “Girls” actress Allison Williams. Her insight and humor align with theirs perfectly. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the…
Pop Culture Aficionado

with Ira Madison, Kara Brown and Louis Virtel

These witty, funny, and knowledgeable writers comment on everything from Omarosa to Kanye’s ridiculous tweets to politics and more. You’ll be laughing out loud more times than you realize. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the…
Listener whose already heard all the “My Favorite Murder” Episodes

UNSOLVED MURDERS: TRUE CRIME STORIES, with Wendy MacKenzie and Carter Roy 
Every week, these hosts delve into an unsolved murder, past and present, using professional voice actors to tell the story. The voices may be a bit hokey at first, but you’ll soon forget that as you dive in and decide for yourself who really did it. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the…
Music obsessed listener to wants to know how songs are made

with Hrishikesh Hirway 

Ever wanted to know how “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac came about? What Lorde was thinking on her latest hit single? Hrishikesh interviews each artist, letting them take over and discuss how the process of making a song takes incredible time, discipline and lot of fine tuning. You’ll never listen to music the same way again. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the…
One who loves old movies and the Old Hollywood movie stars

with Karina Longworth

Ever wanted to know how Frank Sinatra got his start? The story of Joan Crawford and “Mommy Dearest”? Then this podcast is for you! Karina does extensive research, talking about the fascinating lives of some of Hollywood’s timeless stars. My favorites are the Blacklist Series, where stars were accused of being members of the Communist Party. Available here and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Those are my favorites for now! I’ll be making another list of awesome podcasts in the not so distant future! What are your favorite podcasts to listen to?

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