Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Extreme Sheep LED Art

One of my favorite dog videos!  For people who think herding sheep is obsolete.  LOL

July 28, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Dogswell helps dogs and people

I saw some economic figures a few days ago and, to my layman’s eye, it looked like the first quarter of 2009 was about the same as the end of 2008.  That’s bad news for pet owners and for pet product retailers.


The pet product industry was once thought to be “recession-proof” but the recent hits to the economy have suggested otherwise:


Bo Nelson, owner of, has been selling to upscale branded pet products pet stores for 15 years. “Over the past several months we have noticed more conservative buying patterns. Pet Boutiques are still purchasing clothing, jewelry and frivolous items but in smaller quantities,” Nelson said.


“We have seen less of a drop-off in the sales of treats, toys, collars, beds, bowls and spa products. Overall it seems that sales for items people and their pets use on a regular basis are faring better than items people and pets only use on special occasions.”


…For years as the pet industry was growing in double digits, business owners claimed that the pet industry was recession proof. According to recent articles in Pet Product News this may not exactly be true. Very expensive high end items sit on the shelves longer while quality well-priced items continue to sell well.


The Baltimore Sun’s blog, Unleashed, has a news item about a pet food company that is trying to help out owners who are hurting in these tough financial times.


dry-food-groupDogswell, a California-based pet food company, is offering free pet food to owners who have lost their jobs.


As you may have heard, many owners have been unable to keep their dogs after losing their jobs.  They don’t have the money to buy dog food.  Dogswell decided to do something to help.  Now through May 15 Dogswell is giving away one free bag of dry dog food to the first 10,000 unemployed American pet owners to contact them.  They have set a goal of giving away 10,000 bags of dog food — $200,000 worth of food.


To take advantage of this Dogswell offer eligible pet owners must submit a “Bow Wow Bailout” redemption form available at this site


Thank you Dogswell!


May 4, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Tips

Winter is really beginning to hit hard in many places. It’s been cold here where I live (22 degrees this morning — brrrr!) and there was a big power outage in parts of New England this week. It’s a good idea to think about your dog’s needs when it gets this cold, whether he lives indoors or outdoors.

Make sure you keep fresh water available for your dog at all times. You can’t depend on snow or ice as a water source, and you really don’t want to encourage your dog to drink too much from these sources. Your dog needs as much water in winter as in summer to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Your dog may need extra calories in the winter, so consider increasing his food amounts. This is especially true if your dog lives outdoors or works or plays outdoors a lot. it takes a lot of energy to keep the body warm in winter so those calories will be used.

Take care of your dog’s paws. Snow and ice both present hazards to your dog’s paws. They can accumulate between the toes and ball up on the fur causing cuts and cracks. So, dry your dog’s feet off after he’s been in snow or ice. You can protect your dog’s pads with either petroleum jelly (vaseline to most of us), or with products made for paws.

Keep your dog groomed in the winter. Grooming helps keep the dead hair removed so the body can insulate itself. Towel dry your dog or even blow dry him if he gets wet outdoors this time of year.

Keep your dog warm and out of drafts. Use blankets or pads on the floors in areas that may be tiled or uncarpeted. If your dog sleeps outdoors make sure he has good shelter, such as a doghouse with layers of warm, dry bedding.

Dogs are susceptible to the same winter problems as people. They can suffer from cold and get frostbitten, and snow and ice can do a number on them. Many dogs love to play in the snow but they can slip and slide in it and on ice and injure themselves, so try to supervise them when they’re outside. Watch out for antifreeze poisoning, too. People use a lot of it this time of year and the taste is very enticing to dogs.

There are fun things to do with your dog this time of year. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog has to hibernate until spring. I know a lot of people who find ways to let their dogs be part of the holiday festivities. One friend likes to get her dog’s picture made with Santa. She also takes her dogs out, wearing their reindeer ears and other Christmas things, to visit people in nursing homes and kids in school. I know someone else who belongs to a caroling group and who takes her dog with her (in costume) when they go singing through the neighborhood. Her dog is always a big hit. Other people have dogs that play a role in their Christmas plans at home, playing with guests, entertaining everyone.

Your dog can even motivate you to get out and get some exercise this time of year. A couple of years ago one woman used her dog as a way to lose weight. She even wrote a book about this weight loss method. On her diet she said she couldn’t eat anything that smelled good or made noises — if she did, it would make her dog come running to get some, too. You can put your dog to work this winter to start your own diet, if that’s one of your goals. (It’s always one of mine.) All the exercise is good for your dog, too.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much to Feed?

I belong to way too many dog e-mail lists. If I’m not careful I can spend all day long just ready e-mail about dogs: puppy antics, dog legislation, dog cartoons, dog breeding, Setters, gossip about dog people, etc. But But there are a lot of people who obsess about dog food and who can’t wait to try every new food that comes out. Well, that’s their choice. But then they write e-mails to the chat lists talking about how their dogs have gastro upsets and diarrhea and they don’t understand why. They blame it on the food and they decide to try something else. It kind of drives me useful discussion recently was about whether or not people fed their dogs the amounts of food recommended on the labels of the dog food bags.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am a stick in the mud when it comes to dog food. I hate to change foods. I am firmly convinced that changing foods all the time messes dogs up. This is just my opinion, and I’m sorry if it offends anyone, but it seems to me that when people talk about having finicky dogs it seems like the dogs are finicky because the owners are always offering them different things to eat. I think you find a good food that your dogs like and you stay with it. Why would you change if your dogs are doing well on a food?

But there are a lot of people who obsess about dog food and who can’t wait to try every new food that comes out. Well, that’s their choice. But then they write e-mails to the chat lists talking about how their dogs have gastro upsets and diarrhea and they don’t understand why. They blame it on the food and they decide to try something else. It kind of drives me nuts.

Anyway, that’s my theory about dog foods. You can ignore it. It’s just my personal opinion. But as for how much to feed, have you really looked at the amounts recommended on the dog food labels? For most foods, if people feed their dogs the recommended amounts, they will turn into porkers. There will always be some dogs that you have to try to make gain weight, but by far the bigger problem in this country is overweight-obese dogs. Maybe that’s because people are feeding their dogs what the packages say!

If you Google diet and dogs, or overweight dogs you will get more hits than you can possibly look at. It’s estimated that about 40 percent of the dogs in this country are overweight. It’s true that some of that is from people who feed their dogs too many treats and tablescraps, and from people who think their dogs are picky and try to tempt them with special foods, but I think a lot of it is simply from people who are feeding their dogs portions that are too large.

It’s a good idea to look at your dog and evaluate his overall condition. Scales alone don’t tell the whole story. If your dog is well-muscled and in good condition you must be feeding him the right amount of food, regardless of what the scales say. But if he’s round where he should be lean, if he’s a butterball, think about cutting back a little on his food amounts. If your dog tells you he’s still hungry you can add veggies, like green beans to his diet. They are healthy and filling but don’t add a lot of extra calories. (Don’t cook them in bacon grease, either.)

I have no idea how much I feed my dogs or what the label on my dog food says. Years ago I bought a big scoop from a pet catalog. I put one big scoop in each of five pans and it’s up to the dogs to sort out who eats how much. All of my dogs are in good weight and condition except one — Beau is a little overweight. But even he has lost weight in the last couple of years since I switched to free feeding the dogs. I leave their food down all the time and they can eat all they want when they want it. Nobody rushes, nobody fights. They tend to nibble throughout the day when they get hungry. I just let them outside this a.m. and there is still dry food sitting out from yesterday afternoon. Of course, this really only works with dry kibble. I have to do things a little differently when I give them canned food or something homemade.

Anyway, after that rant, look at your dog and see if you think he or she could lose a little weight. Consider if there are some adjustments you can make. Obesity will shorten your dog’s life so it’s really a good idea to cut back on portion size if your dog is overweight.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , | Leave a comment

Vet Visits

All of my dogs are now up-to-date on their shots. Blue already had his and I took the other four to the vet this week. Yes, it was expensive, but it had to be done. I am happy to say that they all passed with flying colors. No worms, no heartworms, no bad things. Except Taylor has a bad tooth. He has to go back soon and have it removed. That’s going to be something to worry about. Taylor is 12 years old and I worry about a 12-year-old dog having surgery and getting anesthesia. But the tooth is abscessed and probably causing him pain, so it needs to come out.

I like my vets. They’re a husband and wife team and they have a little boy, probably 3-4 years old with white-blond hair, who is usually running around in back. He’s very cute. Sometimes he comes in to pet the dogs.

I’ve only been going to these vets for about a year. I was using another vet before that when, right in the middle of treating one of my dogs for a tumor (she has since died), he up and left. Between appointments. One week he was there, the next he was gone. It was strange. So, I’m still getting to know these vets. I feel like they’re getting to know me, too. I think they like me, but they seem suspicious of me because I breed dogs. I think it’s odd that they ask me about every female dog whether or not she’s been bred. I have a three-year-old girl and a 19-month-old girl. Nope, not bred either one. But they act like they suspect me of having a litter a month. In fact, I went nine years between litters. I breed dogs for ME. I can only keep so many dogs so I can’t breed very often.

I have always loved dogs, horses, all animals. I wish I had the land and the money to be able to breed horses. But I have settled for dogs instead. I’ve always thought it was exciting to not just breed a litter of puppies, but to do all the planning for it — to study pedigrees, to carefully choose the parents and try to improve the next generation. And, even though there is so much work involved, I love nurturing and raising a litter of puppies. Until you have raised a litter of 9, 10 or 12 big puppies in your house, you don’t know what work is! They’re like a herd galloping around. With teeth. LOL It’s so sad when they start leaving to go to their new homes. But I have always kept one or two for myself. That’s why I can’t breed very often. It doesn’t take long to have a house full of dogs when you do that.

I know many people prefer to adopt dogs now or go to rescue. That’s great. I used to help rescue. I did it for years until I took in a rescue dog who attacked my own dogs and tried to bite a child. I decided I couldn’t risk it anymore after that. Adoption and rescue help many dogs and they’re a great pet solution for many people. I just wish there weren’t so many people who seem to want to stop all dog breeding. People have been purposely breeding dogs for thousands of years. We wouldn’t have most of the breeds we have today without people who dedicated themselves to developing and breeding dogs. There are thousands of wonderful dog breeders in this country who live and die for their dogs. No one should be forced to adopt a dog when they want to go to a breeder, or vice versa. We should certainly have choices about something as personal as choosing what kind of dog we want.

I’ve had Setters since 1974. As much as I love dogs in general, there’s really no other dog for me. There never has been. When I was five years old I saw a picture of a Setter in a coloring book and that was it. It was love on the spot. I’ve been hooked ever since. Isn’t it funny how something so unexpected can change our lives? How could I know I would grow up to devote my life to them?

December 15, 2008 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

Blue comes home


I finally got my little Boo Boo home from California.  Only he’s not so little any more!  He was 15 ounces when he was born and now, 12 months later, he’s 62 pounds and taller than my tallest dog.  He must be about 27 inches tall at the top of his shoulders.  His dad’s a big dog but the last time I saw his dad he was outdoors so he didn’t seem so big.  When you have a dog this size in your house, along with four others, you really notice!


100_0625It’s great to have him home.  He left here when he was four months old to go to my friend in California for field training.  She showed him a few times, too.  I wasn’t sure if he would remember me and the other dogs but when I picked him up at the airport I saw him staring at me from his crate like he was trying to remember me.  When I put him in the car he buried his nose in my hair and took a huge sniff, then slept all the way home.  And when I brought him in the house the other dogs greeted him like he was one of them.  It was like, “Hey!  Where you been?  What took you so long?”


Little Pearl has been beside herself, she’s so happy he’s home.  From the moment he was born she decided he was her personal toy.  She’s only six months older than he is so she was a combination mom-big sister-tormentor to him.  She is NOT his mother, but she would get in the whelping area every chance she could to try to take care of him.  Then as soon as he started walking and was able to see, she must have figured out that he was another puppy because she wanted to play with him.  She started picking him up and trying to carry him with her around the house like a stuffie, with him protesting the whole way.  His real mother never did anything to stop her.  She was glad to have another dog taking care of him, except for the nursing.  A little later Pearl decided he should go outside with her so I’d have to try to catch her before she dragged him outside by his hind leg, with him screaming.  I don’t know why she wanted to take him outside with her in January, but she was very determined.


At least by then little Boo Boo (or Blue, or Colin — his proper name) was big enough to walk and get around by himself.  Pearl would drag him out by his back leg and he would come puppy-running back inside the house if I missed catching Pearl.  But he was crazy about Pearl, too, because she was like a mom to him, so he played with her a lot in the whelping area and everywhere else.  He finally got too big for Pearl to try to haul around but they still played all the time.  Right up until I sent him to California.  Pearl was heartbroken.


Blue was a singleton — an only puppy — so Pearl was sort of like a littermate to him, I guess.  She kept him from being a lonely puppy.  I never knew puppies could bond with each other like this but they had a very special relationship.


As soon as he came home the other night he and Pearl picked up right where they left off.  They haven’t stopped playing since I brought him home.  Beau tries to play with him and sometimes he is friendly with his big sister, Billie, but it’s really only Blue and Pearl who play together.  They sleep next to each other.  They do everything together.  Pearl is usually devoted to me but with Blue here she has forgotten all about me for now.  That’s okay.  I’m just happy they’re happy.  The only thing that’s changed is that Blue is about twice as big as Pearl now!  It’s so funny because sometimes he has to almost lie down in the floor to play with her.  He towers over her.  But they still race and chase around the backyard and they wrestle and play for hours.  It’s wonderful to watch them.  I think Pearl is even happier he’s home than I am.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

Dogs and Significant Others

For anyone who is wondering about me beyond my life with dogs, I’m just past calling myself “young.”  In other words, I’m old enough that I don’t tell people how old I am.  Let’s just say that the ‘80s and ‘90s rocked, okay?  LOL


I am home with my dogs most of the time and I do consider them my family.  If you’re dog lovers I’m sure you know what that feels like.  I have a semi-significant other who’s in Iraq.  It’s one of those things where we were engaged, then we weren’t.  Now I say we’re friends and he says we’re still dating.  So, who knows?  He will be home for good in December.  I guess we’ll see what happens.  Provided he doesn’t get weird again.  He came home from Iraq a couple of years ago and it took him months to get back to normal.  He’s very hardheaded and he wouldn’t get help when he needed it.  He promises that he will this time if he has any problems.


I work at home and I’m able to be with my dogs all day which I really love.  Since I write anyway I use them as examples in lots of things I write about.  They give me plenty of material.  I experiment on them with products, foods, taking them to places for dogs.  I think they get to do some things that they wouldn’t get to do if I didn’t write about their adventures.  Plus, any disaster here at home is likely to turn up in a story.  It helps us find the humor in things.


For example, when the dogs first met the significant other that could have been traumatic.  He grew up without pets and was wary of dogs.  I had eight dogs at the time and they were boisterously friendly, to the point of nearly knocking him down trying to meet him.  But we got through it and laugh about it now.  We’re still trying to laugh about all the times the dogs have eaten his belongings.  They seem to ignore my things and only eat his stuff for some reason, like his expensive sunglasses or his digital camera.  I tell him all the time that he has to put his stuff up, keep things up high where they can’t reach them, but he never listens to me.  So his things get eaten.  You’d think he’d learn after nearly six years.


I think there are a lot of couples like us, where one person is a real dog lover and the other person is always trying to adjust.  There’s no question that it puts strains on a relationship.  We’ve definitely had fights about the dogs.  But the dogs aren’t going anywhere.  Maybe with some couples they will get rid of a dog, but with people who are really attached to their pets they just try to work it out.  I know of many more couples where the person who started out as a non-dog lover ended up being devoted to the dogs.  Even my significant other has become very knowledgeable about dogs.  He has helped me bathe and groom them.  He can carry on a conversation about dog food or dog breeds.  He listens to me talk about puppies for hours.  He’s gone to the vet with us and paid ER vet bills.  He has come a long way from the guy who was intimidated when he met the dogs in my kitchen on our second date.  Besides, I figure if he wasn’t frightened off by meeting eight big dogs that night he must have some redeeming qualities.  And the dogs really like him.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , | 2 Comments

Products for Paws

Have you seen these dog nail grinders on TV?  The kind that they advertise dogs tolerate so well?  I’ve been seeing them in my local drugstore and I’ve been tempted to get one.  I’m usually pretty good about keeping up with my dogs’ nail trimming but I use a Dremel — a nail grinder that is just what it sounds like.  It’s a drill-type hand-held device that came from the hardware aisle at Walmart.  It buzzes and whirls at a pretty high speed and I use little sanding drums on it for the dogs’ nails.  But it would be possible to slip on other attachments, like drill bits, and do other jobs.  No, the dogs don’t particularly like it but they are all used to it and I give them treats as I do each paw so they’ve learned to live with it.  Still, doing nails is kind of a stressful time here.  I don’t usually nick anybody but I have, on occasion, caught someone’s long hair in the rotator, which is a very bad thing to do.  Instant crisis.


There are two brands of these new nail grinders being advertised — the PediPaws and the Peticure.  Luckily I know people who have tried both of them.  They really like them.  I think either one would be good for small dogs.  Both kinds also come in more powerful versions for big dogs with stronger, harder nails.  They actually work just like my Dremel, with a rotator and sanding drum inside, though they don’t seem to rotate as fast (unless you buy the professional versions).  They only take off small flakes of the nail at a time that way.  This means that you may have to use them more often to keep your dog’s nails short but you are much less likely to cause your dog any pain.


Another good thing about these products is that they come with a safeguard — the rounded portion that fits outside the actual sanding drum.  This keeps any hair from getting inside near the rotator.  You can also buy these safeguards separately — something I may do since they will fit on Dremel products.  You can also buy extra sanding drums from the manufacturers which you will need eventually, or you can just buy them in any hardware aisle.


So far everyone I know who has tried PediPaws and Peticure has really liked them for their dogs, whether they are pets or showdogs.  If you get one for yourself you might think about getting an extra one for a dog lover friend — I think they would make a great Christmas present and the prices are not bad.  The basic PediPaws model is $19.99 and Peticure is being advertised for $14.99.  Prices go up as they get more powerful and add attachments.

November 14, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , | 1 Comment

Dog Food Woes

Dogfood Woes

I know from talking to other dog lovers that so many of them have issues with the food they buy their dogs. You can include me in that number. Ever since the pet food recalls last year I’ve paid more attention to what I feed my horde. Not only that, but when fuel costs began rising and farmers began growing more corn for ethanol and less for feed it seriously affected the price of all kinds of dog food. Whether it was the corn used in foods or the corn used to feed beef and other meat sources, many ingredients in dog foods shot up in cost. The result has been that dog food has gone up over 6 percent in cost this year. You’re definitely paying more for your dog’s food than you were a year ago. And chances are that the size of the bag has also been made smaller to try to help hide the fact. If you paid $14 for a 20 pound bag of food last year you’re probably paying $20 for the same food in a 17 pound bag right now. (That’s a real example I’ve seen with one well-known grocery store brand.)

Photo courtesy flickr
Since I have four big dogs these price increases have hit me hard. We go through a 37.5 pound bag of food every two weeks. I had been feeding the same food for ten years, with good results, but recently the company made changes in the formula (something else that’s been happening a lot lately as dog food manufacturers try to find cheaper ingredients). They decided to add soy products as one source of protein, something that I, and a lot of other people, felt was a bad idea. If you have Setters, or other breeds prone to bloat, you know that soy products can be a problematic ingredient. Anything that can lead to a dog producing more gas in his gut can be a real problem since it can potentially cause his stomach to torsion. Therefore, I decided it was time to start considering some of the more natural dog foods.

We’ve been trying various kibbles recommended by the Whole Dog Journal which rates the best foods annually. I think my dogs have been enjoying this process but I can’t say that I have been entirely happy with any single food we’ve tried. We’ve tried organic foods, “natural” dog foods, baked foods, and grainless foods. My pocketbook is hurting. These foods are sometimes $20 more for 30 pound bags than I was paying before for the 37.5 pound bags, and I wasn’t buying cheap food then. To make matters worse, the local store where I buy the foods charges around $7 per bag more than the store an hour away. I’m always asking myself if it’s worth driving an hour and spending the gas to save the money. I could buy these foods online and save money on the price of the food, but the shipping costs would make them cost the same as buying locally.

If I felt that I had found a food that was clearly superior to what I used to feed and that the dogs did a lot better on it, then I would pay the price and not complain so much. But so far I haven’t found a food that fits that description. Right now my oldest dog is itching and scratching on a dog food that costs me $56 for a 30 pound bag, and he’s never had an allergy or other skin problem in his life. He sure is getting fat though!

There may be hope for us. I read this week that my old food has been overwhelmed by e-mails and calls from customers and they’re bringing back one of the foods they had stopped making. Starting in January we’ll be able to buy it again in the same old formula. I guess we’ll continue to try different foods for a while longer to see if we find one that’s better for us. If we don’t find one that fits my dogs and helps them do well then we’ll be going back to the old food at the start of the year.

November 11, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , | 1 Comment

And we’re back

Hello to all of the regular blog readers here at Greyt Inspirations and to everyone just dropping in. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Carlotta and I love dogs. I’ve had Setters since I was a little girl and I’ve been showing them for the last 21 years.

I currently have four dogs

  • Pearl, who’s 1-year-old and gets into everything
  • Billie, who’s 3 and starting to try to act a little grown up
  • Beau who’s a very silly 9-year-old
  • and Taylor who’s 12 and starting to slow down a bit.

With four dogs of all ages in the house I am constantly checking out different things to keep them happy and healthy. I plan to bring you some reports about products and trends in things for dogs. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, owner spending on pets is at an all-time high and some $43.4 billion is expected to be spent on pets this year. It’s estimated that 44.8 million households own a dog, so it’s no wonder there is such a tremendous interest in their lifestyle.


Photo courtesy of flickr (Keith Rocka)

Speaking of lifestyles, there’s an idea that I like a lot. Assuming you can afford the gas (a little easier now with falling gas prices), I know a few folks who have retired and hit the roads in an RV, with their dogs, of course. People swear by the freedom of the roads, the adventure of seeing something different everyday, and they love having their four-legged best friends with them for the whole journey.

The site has some good information about taking your dogs RVing with you.

If you do go RVing with your dogs, or take any cross-country trip with them, make sure that they are up-to-date on vaccinations and that you carry proof of their health records with you. Not only do you not know what your dogs may encounter when they travel, but it’s actually the law that you can be required to produce a health certificate when traveling from state to state with your dogs, though it’s seldom enforced unless there’s an emergency. Better safe than sorry, so have your pet’s health documents with you, along with plenty of identification on him or her.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , | Leave a comment