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Is This Really My Dog?

Your Dog’s Got a Personality. Get Used to It!

You know how some parents want their kids to grow up to be doctors and they end up with musicians? The same kind of thing can happen with dog owners and their beloved pets. We sometimes hold our puppies to expectations that they can’t fulfill, nor should they. They, like children, manage best with acceptance. So do we.


Ringo is my first dog. I adopted him a year and a half ago, and he gives me tremendous joy. Through him, I’ve been given sense of loving purpose with which I’m sure many of you other packpeople out there have long been familiar, but to me, it’s still something new.

Once in a while, so is his behavior.

I can’t lie: when I adopted him, with his sweet little face and quiet disposition, I imagined he would change the world, one melted heart at a time. He seemed a perfect candidate for therapy dog training, and after he aced his first obedience course, he earned his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification at the local dog club. He was on his way, I thought, to a career of healing, visiting local hospitals to spread his warm, magical fuzziness wherever it was needed.

Then he started growling.

About six months into our relationship, Ringo got comfortable enough to reveal his true self. He’s not that “into” people. He trusts only a few, shows affection to even fewer, ignores many and downright dislikes the rest (“grrrrr…”)

Sure, I was disappointed, but I’ve come to accept that he’s a living, thinking being, full of his own opinions and tastes. His behaviors I can train (treats have proved helpful in meeting new people), but his personality is his own. He’s “aloof.”

“That’s okay,” said one of his trainers. “He doesn’t have to like everybody; he’s just not that kind of dog.”

When he likes someone, however, he really shows it. That’s the kind of dog he is. He’s also the kind of dog who sits on command, leaves my things alone and never makes messes in the house. He may not be therapy dog material but in other ways, he’s a dream.

Nobody’s perfect, and the same goes for dogs. The best that we can do is encourage their best assets, despite the expectations we place on them.

If you’re new to dog ownership, take it from me. More likely than not, your dog’s behavior will change in some way during your first year together. That’s not necessarily bad, but character-building, for both of you. You’ll need to practice acceptance, discipline and the diligence to research the most effective ways to deal with negative behaviors. In doing so, you’ll see that your pet’s brightest traits and talents will truly shine.

Ringo may never be a therapy dog, but that’s okay. He may never be a doctor, either, but if he decides to take up a musical instrument, I’ll pay for lessons. What matters is that I encourage him to be the best Ringo he can be.

Good, Ringo! Good boy!

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Collar vs. Harness

The Competition Runs Neck-and-Neck.

So I’m talking with fellow packpeople David and Yurda about pertinent blog topics and the age-old issue of leashing dogs with collars vs. harnesses comes up. Naturally, there is no easy way to answer this – there are arguments for both and I’ll get into that in just a bit – but the funny thing is that no sooner had we discussed the topic than I discovered that Ringo (my 15 lb. mix of corgi, dachshund and possibly seal) needed a new harness. My neighbor Connie, who takes care of Ringo when I work late, had noticed redness on his chest, and the subsequent discovery of frayed, protruding stitching on his harness’ chest strap sent Ringo and I straight to the pet store.

Why does Ringo wear a harness? It’s this simple: when I adopted him, he was wearing one. He always wears a collar for ID as well as decorative purposes, but for leashing he and I are accustomed to the harness. I like the security of its hold over his torso, and as he’s a smallish dog, I’m more at ease knowing I won’t inadvertently hurt his somewhat delicate neck. Looking over the vast selection of collars and harnesses at our neighborhood pet supply store, however, it’s clear to see that there are countless options available, in styles ranging from eco-friendly hemp fiber to breathable nylon mesh to bright, bold and bejeweled.

Collars vs. harnesses. Everyone’s got an opinion, and you’re best to form one of your own, with expert guidance from your veterinarian. Here are some thoughts, though, that seem to recur in many dog care forums on the subject:

Basic collars, when fitted properly, are a comfortable choice for dogs without “pulling” tendencies. Some collars can be useful for training, with choke chains and prong collars providing methods of correction (and in these cases, it’s highly important that humans are trained for their safe and sensible use). Collars are also easy: easy on, easy off, and even if you opt for leashing your dog with a harness, the addition of a collar is more likely to accommodate pet ID tags with a characteristic metal D ring.

Leashing on a harness minimizes the risk of injury to a dog’s neck and back, particularly in smaller breeds. Simple nylon harnesses can be purchased, as well as specialty harnesses designed to provide the same corrective effectiveness as traditional training collars. Harnesses are also available which provide transportation safety, with designs that are compatible with automobile safety belts.

After about 30 minutes of walking back and forth and trying things on in the collar and harness aisle, Ringo and I settled on something new (for us, that is). Typically, he’s been wearing a simple nylon-strap harness, but this time we opted for a breathable mesh harness that covers more of his chest than his previous gear, allowing pressure to be more evenly distributed across his chest. It’s a Comfort Control Harness made by Four Paws Products, and we chose a fetching shade of royal blue because that’s all the store had left in the appropriate size, and also, we’re fancy. We walked around a bit in the store parking lot to “test drive” the item, and the change in attire suited us both. I felt no loss of control in guiding Ringo at my side and he seemed perfectly comfortable.

So I urge you to consider all your needs when choosing not only between a collar or harness but also which collar or harness. There are thousands of them out there. You might even choose more than one, for different applications. Take a look at fit, finish, materials and construction involved as well – Ringo’s reddened, irritated chest taught us both, the hard way, to examine details like stitching and seams for durability and comfort.

Then, adequately equipped, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and greater control over a safe and secure dog.

This way, Ringo. RINGO. THIS WAY. Good boy!

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De La Doggies – Dog walking and photography in Downtown Los Angeles

meandlilly-1I met Marissa at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter on a Sunday morning, while she was holding a big heavy camera and waiting for the shelter staff and volunteers to guide her. At the time, I was volunteering at another animal shelter and had come with a dog trainer to show new adopters basic dog training skills, with the help of the shelter dogs. While we were waiting for the first potential adopters and spending some time with the shelter dogs in the play yard, I asked Marissa to join us. We talked about dogs and the shelter system in Los Angeles and discovered that we had a lot in common — like our passion and love for dogs.

Today, after nearly 2 years, I’m very excited to voice our support for Marissa, who has just started her new business offering pet photography and pet sitting services in Downtown Los Angeles.

Allow me to introduce this very talented photographer and passionate animal lover to the Packpeople audience with her own words and bio:


I am Marissa de la Torre and Dog is my God.

When I moved to Los Angeles from Oakland, California this time, three years ago, I didn’t have much. I didn’t have a job, not many friends, and not too many hobbies or passions.

Growing up I always enjoyed photography, thanks to my dad, and I was lucky to grow up with dogs in our household. As a matter of fact, I had no siblings growing up, so the doggies were often my play mates throughout the years.

When I first arrived in L.A. I moved into a condo right behind a Petco. The very first day I moved in I decided to visit. I always loved going inside Petco and visiting the rats, mice and guinea pigs — watching them and taking photos always made me happy.

While there I noticed an adoption event going on, that was adopting out dogs and cats, Save a Life Rescue. I was immediately drawn to the furry mammals. After visiting them for awhile, I then talked to the founder of the rescue and soon found out they were in need of a photographer. I was ecstatic. It all seemed perfect — I can use and learn my new digital camera my dad recently bought for me, I could hang out with dogs and cats and help find them forever homes and I can literally do this in my backyard, every Saturday! Tula-1

I then began my romance with doggies and photography, and most importantly it was for a good cause, and I had found a new hobby!

I helped Save a Life for a year and then moved to Downtown L.A. and then began volunteering my time in local high kill animal shelters. It was then I quickly learned about the big problem L.A. had with homeless pets and how packed shelters were with dogs being surrendered or found on the streets, with not enough people adopting or knowing where to find a new pet at.

I soon discovered and starting volunteering my time for non-profit organizations and groups like; United Hope for Animals, L.A. Love & Leashes, and The Lu Parker Project, that were helping a lot of these dogs and cats in the shelters get the proper exposure they deserved through photography and networking. To take a picture of a homeless dog, post it online and see the dog get pulled from the shelter into a loving home, made it all worth it and reassured me time and time again I had picked the right hobby 🙂

Batman-7Fast forward three years, I am still living in Downtown L.A. and have had a string of 9-5 jobs that were not particularly interesting to me, but they paid the bills and I feel I was doing what I was supposed to do, whatever that means. Similar to when I had first moved here, I did not have any clear goals on what I wanted to do for work and had no real passions I thought I could potentially make into a career. It took some time, a lot of jobs I did not like, a lot of support from friends and family and most importantly my continuous time with doggies to finally realize that I could make spending time with the furry mammals into my career. It really just boiled down to me taking that jump and being confident and prepared!

So now I am proud and happy to officially launch my own dog service business, De La Doggies, offering dog sitting, dog walking and most importantly dog photography in the Los Angeles area.

walker-1I think I can finally say I love my job and most importantly I feel rewarded and fulfilled as a human to be helping take care and provide for human’s best friend, dog.

For more info, rates and examples of my photography work with dogs, please visit my website at: follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook Fan page. You can also find me on and

All you need is Woof!

~ Marissa

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L.A. Love & Leashes Benefit Event – The first non-profit pet store

Hey PackPeople,

We need your support: my friend Marissa is volunteering for a great organization in Los Angeles called L.A. Love & Leashes and she has asked me to help get them some exposure. Please read what they do and how you can help support their awesome work.

This Thursday night, June 28th, there is a special benefit for L.A. Love & Leashes – the first non-profit run “pet store” that adopts out only animals from L.A.’s city animal shelters. Milo Greene, an LA-based band getting some big buzz recently (on Letterman Tuesday, profiled in the LA Times over the weekend and sold out the Troubador last week) is playing. There will be an open bar, food (passed appetizers) by celebrity chef Sepi Kashanian and there is plenty of onsite parking.

If 100 tickets are sold, L.A. Love & Leashes can renew its lease after the summer. In their first six months, they’ve adopted out 224 dogs and cats (and one hamster) from LA’s city shelters. It’s a new, humane model for pet stores and the first and only store of its kind supporting our city shelters in L.A.

You can learn more and buy tickets on their website: – Make a donation here.

Where and when?: Thursday, June 28th, 7:30 – 10 p.m., 2750 Casitas St., Los Angeles, CA 90039

Please support this creative new model to increase shelter adoptions! Thank you for sharing and supporting.

L.A.’s first pet adoption store for rescued shelter pets.
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Has your dog gone Postal? Will no treat satisfy her/him?

We’ve just been let into a little secret from the people over at Postal Puppy. They are about to start shipping shiny new dog stuff to doorsteps every month. We’ve convinced them to share the contents of their first boxes with us: Natural dog treats, along with some organic dog treats (made with locally sourced ingredients), an organic flea and tick control, a professional pet shampoo AND something magic. It’s so magic that it’s guaranteed to stop unwanted barking, console whimpering puppies, reduce hyperactivity, minimize fear of thunderstorms, calm your dog in the car, and more!

So, you can head over to to guarantee yourself a box full of goodness or you can enter this contest to win a box. (Or, both!)

Please note, the first Postal Puppy boxes don’t go out until July. But, yours will be shipped mid-June, wahooo!”

Boozer already received his box full of premium pet products.

Do you think your dog would appreciate this box? Qualify for a give-away right here and receive this exclusive box with treats that are USDA organic, and locally sourced.  A professional, high-performing pet shampoo.  All-natural deliciously healthy treats.  And, an Organic Flea repellent.  And, the last insert is a digital download of music that is sure to calm almost any dog (seriously). Sorry, we can only ship to US addresses.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Every purchase supports small rescues – PackPeople’s new online shop

How can we sustain and keep our important work going? How can we make money with this website? These are questions we asked ourselves last year… and we came up with several ideas. Nothing really new or surprising, just the random things every blog owner starts considering one day. Advertising on PackPeople and earning money with google ads, sponsored links and affiliates; everyone who has a pet-related blog knows what I’m talking about. We want to keep the website clean, informative and not overloaded with ads.

An online shop with unique stuff. That’s the idea!

Our newly-launched online shop has been created to support our work at PackPeople, as well as the work of small, struggling rescues. We will donate 20% of all proceeds to rescues and animal welfare organizations – we keep the rest to buy treats for our dogs :). Prices are fair and the shop looks great! Visit our shop here or use the navigation on top.

From a pool of high quality manufacturers and wholesalers we have picked the most unique and special items (to us:). Ideas we like, products we love and companies we want to work with. Most of the products we sell are produced and manufactured in the U.S. with love by small- to medium-sized companies. Independent artists and pet lovers who make a living in selling their passionate products. For the beginning you can expect the following brands and products in our online shop, and we’ll continue to add more every month…

Get your funny Bandana today for $7.95

For now, we proudly present:

Ruff Ruff and Meow (Pet Apparel)

Arm the Animals (T-Shirts for humans)

Paco Collars (Leather Collars and Leashes)

Threads by Stevie (Bracelets with paw charms)

Felt Monsters by Michiko (Creative needle felted animals)

Please visit and explore our shop and consider buying and contributing – We at PackPeople and the small rescues appreciate your support!

If you think your products would be a great addition to our shop, we would love to hear from you (just know that we’re picky). Please shoot us an email ( and we’ll talk about it.

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A new rescue program launched by Ruff Ruff & Meow

What would your pet say if they could talk? Ruff Ruff & Meow? Let your pets express themselves through their apparel and allow them to make a statement and be heard!

Caroline Leedom, founder and president of Ruf Ruff & Meow explains to us her new rescue program to support animal rescues & non-profit groups. Not only does her program offer support but it also brings a creative and fun approach to doggie apparel.

Listen to the short 7 minute chat with Caroline and learn how you can save money and support a cause.

Get your favorite pic on canvas

You can learn how to support your favorite rescue group, get a discount on Ruff Ruff’s humorous doggie apparel or sign up your organization to receive a donation. Caroline also shares with us her new products like the canvas prints and the baby line.

Furthermore, we are happy to announce that Ruff Ruff & Meow partnered with PackPeople, YAY! We are going to list the top 25 items from Ruff Ruff & Meow in our upcoming PackPeople shop and donate 20% of our profits to small, struggling rescue organizations. For more information about this innovative company, you can listen to our audio interview with Caroline here.

Enjoy the chat and spread the word to help animals and rescues in need!
RUFF RUFF and MEOW Update – New Rescue Program launched by PackPeople

Sample coupon for potential rescues
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Owls Everywhere – What’s Happening?

Photo credit goes to the digital artist: "africa"

I don’t know if I’m mistaken, but I see OWLS everywhere I go, including the internet. Is there an OWLmania or something? Everything is owl-inspired. The fashion industry started  years ago to work with animal prints on clothes and I guess it was a success. I’m not talking about out-of-fashion leopard and zebra designs… I’m talking about the last 6 months, during which I’ve realized that OWLS have become very trendy.

So last week I got a pair of owl earrings and I really like them!

Owls were a huge trend in the 1970s, and some people have the theory that the Marc Jacobs Fall collection is the reason that owl motifs have re-appeared. Since then, they have been popping up everywhere. I bought my first shirt with 4 owls wearing glasses sitting on a tree at H&M eight months ago and I really like it… makes me look kinda intellectual. And in one of LA’s leading home decor shops I found a wide range of owl items. An owl as a home accessory? Why not?

I use Hootsuite to organize my social media tools and schedule my tweets and facebook posts – and they have an Owl as their mascot/logo. They recognized the upcoming trend 🙂

Owls are known as very wise and smart animals, but I don’t actually know why they have this reputation. I have never seen an owl doing anything smart, besides sitting on a branch and observing their food. To me, an owl looks like an aged, bored and angry woman with a bewitching stare. Cute, also a little evil… but what makes them so amazing?

Let’s see what Wikipedia says, then check in on some of the owl designs and prints I have seen in the past few weeks.

Wikipedia: Owls have large forward-facing eyes and ear-holes; a hawk-like beak; a flat face; and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye. The feathers making up this disc can be adjusted in order to sharply focus sounds that come from varying distances onto the owls’ asymmetrically placed ear cavities.  Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees in either direction. As owls are farsighted, they are unable to see clearly anything within a few centimeters of their eyes. Caught prey can be felt by owls with the use of filoplumes — like feathers on the beak and feet that act as “feelers”. Their far vision, particularly in low light, is exceptionally good.

Clockwise from top left: White Owl Book Ends by Z-Gallerie, Girls T-Shirt by, Logo Owl, My new Owl Earrings, Owl bag by Mary Frances at, Children’s Vinyl Wall Nursery with Owls at and the Owl Plush for Kids at Pottery Barn for Kids.

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Amazingly realistic animals by Japanese felt artist Midori Nakayama

My dear friend Michiko sent me a link last year and for the first 5 minutes I thought I was looking at real animals. Then I realized they were all little handmade felt creatures – made by Midori Nakayama and her dedicated team in Japan. Midori has been around since 2008 producing miniature animals. I was so thrilled by the idea that my friend sent me a great little book with pictures of Midori’s artistic team a few month later.

I’m still amazed at how precise and cute these dogs and cats look, sewn of wool felt – but after all, the Japanese people are celebrated for their accuracy, fine arts and patience. I tried to figure out Midori’s website – all in Japanese – there was no way I could read that and even Google translator had its problems. I asked Michiko to contact them to do an interview, but due to the fact that they are overwhelmed by orders, and tremendous media attention, we received no response.

Michiko's first felt French Bulldog - The first steps

Midori gives classes and workshops and they are booked for the next 2 years; I think that’s an indicator of their popularity, right? It’s cute that they say: “Please fill out the order form and then wait for awhile”, haha. I found some other similar artists, but none is like the real Midori. Fortunately, Michiko started her own series of felt animals and was kind enough to share her pictures and working process with me. As I mentioned, we tried to contact them to get their permission to publish some photos of the dogs and cats, but we couldn’t get any response. I just took pictures of my book’s pages and I hope you can see the beauties well. Check out what you can do with felt and a needle – and be amazed!

PackPeople shop: We sell felt monsters here.

[nggallery id=80]

Check out Etsy and do it yourself

Check out Midori’s website for better pictures:)

– Check out for black/white and grey felted animals

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Blogging our way to BarkWorld

Lilly and Red are blogging their way to BarkWorld 2012

Are you a pet blogger, vlogger, pet community contributor or pet-friendy social media addict? Coming up in October 2012 is the 3rd annual BarkWorld Expo, the national social Petworking conference, and Eukanuba Paws in Motion to BarkWorld is promoting a contest to win a FREE trip to this year’s BarkWorld Expo conference in Atlanta. It’s easy to enter the contest: write a blog post or post a YouTube video on your pet blog and let them know why you want to go to BarkWorld 2012… add your link in the comment section here, and/or tweet using hashtag: #EukanubaPawsInMotion. We heard about the expo in 2011, unfortunately we weren’t able to attend last year, but we did follow BarkWorld on Twitter. Check the website, and you’ll see that the testimonials are very positive and encouraging.

Still not sure what BarkWorld is? BarkWorld is the only Social Media Conference for pet-related online influencers. Founded by Denise Quashie, Social Media Strategist for Socially Planned in 2009, BarkWorld Expo educates pet lovers within social media. If you are interested to learn about tools and online strategies to improve your social media skills, attend a workshop and network with business professionals, you should definitely attend BarkWorld Expo. I checked the keynote speaker list for this year and these experts are confirmed:

  1. Brent Hard, the Southeast Director – Twitter Inc.
  2. Matt Maeker, Co-Founder of
  3. Andy Nibley, Writer/Dir of HBO Documentary – Madonna of the Mills

If you don’t care about winning and want to go anyway you should register and buy your pre-sale ticket here for $89.00 (pre-sale ends April 30). Regular prices range from $129.00 to $169.00. Do you have something to sell or to offer? You can also exhibit at BarkWorld.

With writing this post we hope to qualify and win the Free Trip to Atlanta. Lilly “The Social French Bulldog” and I would love the opportunity to meet and mingle with industry professionals and learn. Let’s keep our fingers and paws crossed!

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