Monday, September 30, 2013

Social Media Tips for Shelters & Rescues

I've been working with dog rescues for several years now, mostly helping with adoptions and fostering some fantastic puppies and dogs throughout the years.  I've seen rescues struggle with everything from fundraising to getting their information out to the public.  Most of the rescues I've worked with are in the Southern states and adopt the majority of the pets out to New England states.  This makes it near impossible to promote the rescue and pets in person.

Enter social media.  A blessing for rescues and shelters everywhere, but especially for the type of rescues I've been working with. 


In honor of International Pet Blogger Month presented by BlogPaws, I wanted to share a few tips on how rescues and shelters can maximize the use of social media.

1. Take Great Photos.  "A picture is worth a thousand words" really rings true when it comes to showcasing homeless pets who are seeking a forever home.  First impressions are so very important. 


When someone is looking to adopt, chances are they are sifting through thousands of profiles online.  More often than not, a single line list of pets pops up with a name, short description and thumbnail photo.  That teeny-tiny little thumbnail photo needs to pop and catch their attention!  So many times I've seen shelters post fuzzy, dark, unattractive photos.  Sure, we all know how busy a rescuer is, but this is one aspect where you must make the time to get good photos!  They need to be clear and bright... get outside and use natural light whenever possible!  The subjects should be looking at the camera, happy and alert.   The photos also need to be up to date.  So often, especially with older pets who may take longer to adopt out, photos are old and "tired."  Updating them will give the pet a fresh face in the adoption world!

Whenever possible, enlist the help of local photographers who may be willing to volunteer their time.  Whether they're professionals or hobbyist, chances are they'll have great ideas for capturing photos that will help your pets stand out in a crowd.

I've retaken photos of many of the dogs we've fostered and had the rescues up date their pictures online.  Remember, the cuter and more eye catching the photo, the more looks the pet is going to receive and the more chances she's going to have to find her perfect forever home!

2. Share Those Photos & Profiles.  Seems simple enough, but so many shelters don't take advantage of this.  Post them to Facebook, Tweet them, Pin them to a board on Pinterest, Blog them, Instagram them with a link to the pet's profile!  

I'm known to share many pets on Facebook, as well as Tweet and Pin profiles often.  I love my "Adopt Don't Shop" board on Pinterest!  "Monkey see, monkey do" really comes into effect... once one person shares something, you know the ball keeps rolling as your friends and family start "liking" and reposting.  Everyone loves a cute animal picture.... share, share, share!

3. You Tube is Your Friend.  What's better than uber cute photos?  Videos!  Get out the cell phones or camera and take some short clips.  Post them to the pets' profile pages, as well as on You Tube.  You can even post short 15 second clips on Instagram. 

Some pets just come across better in video than still pictures.  Their personalities show through so much more in video.  Take advantage of this powerful - and free! - tool that we all should get into the habit of using more.  I started taking short clips of our foster dogs and having the rescues link them to their profiles... we instantly saw more hits on the profiles with videos attached! 

Here's a clip I had uploaded in 2011 of then foster baby Kelly, now Harper.

Remember, there are thousands of pets sitting in shelters right now, just waiting for their loving forever home.  Adopt, Don't Shop.  And share, tweet, pin and blog away about those babies who are longing for a home of their home!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Black & White Sunday: I Haz Dat?

"You iz done?  I haz dat? puh-leeze?" ~ Lola


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Will You Remember Me? #LightForPets

Today is Remember Me Thursday... This global awareness campaign is designed to shine a light on orphaned pets everywhere by lighting candles (both real and virtual) across the world in honor of shelter pets who have lost their lives, as well as those waiting - and hoping - for their forever homes.


Did you know?
  •  Only 30% of pets in US households come from rescue facilities. (Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013)
  • Each year, over 3.4 million orphan shelter pets lose their lives without finding their forever home. (Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013)
Animal-lovers and animal welfare organizations across the globe will unite on Thursday, September 26, 2013 (the fourth Thursday of September, annually) with a Remember Me Thursday pet candle-lighting ceremony. The candles, which will be lit on the exact same day across the world, will honor the millions of pets who lost their lives without the benefit of a loving home and shine a light on the millions of healthy pets who are still awaiting adoption. The Remember Me Thursday global awareness campaign encourages individuals to light a candle this day (literally or virtually) and to opt to adopt, reducing the millions of orphan pets euthanized each year.

Please join me in spreading the word and helping to lend a voice to those who can't speak for themselves.  You can light a virtual candle, and spread the word through social media.  #LightForPets 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile

Wednesday again already?  It doesn't seem possible...


Surprise #fall #flowers #GerberDaisy #rose #love

Say Cheese! #smile #sheep #love #farmanimals #toocute

My #seasideyarns bag just arrived! Wishing we were back in #alaska #knitstagram

Just hanging out with this beautiful #dragonfly at the track last night...

Day 14 #yarnpadc Need - lots and lots of #coffee :) and #knitting time

Getting #honeycrisp #apples #cider #cornonthecob and #ciderdonuts #love #fall

Waiting to race #8 #uslegends #nhms #racecar

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Knit Christmas Stockings

Knit Christmas Stockings

19 Patterns for Stockings & Ornaments

by Gwen W. Steege

Paperback: 136 Pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC ~ 2nd Edition (August 27, 2013)


Who doesn't love handmade items for the holidays?  Better yet, who doesn't love hand knit items?  Perhaps a new hat, pair of fingerless mitts or cabled sweater?  Those are all lovely, wrapped up under the tree.... but what about a gorgeous hand knit stocking stuffed full of treats and notions?

Knit Christmas Stockings: 19 Patterns for Stockings & Ornaments is a sweet little book... literally.  I love that this book is just 6" x 9" in size - utterly perfect to toss in a knitting bag and take on the go.  After all, we know sock knitting makes perfect travel knitting, so why not Christmas stockings?

This is the second edition of Knit Christmas Stockings, showcasing 19 stockings and ornaments - any of which can easily become treasured family heirlooms.  All of the patterns have been reinvented in updated color palettes that are sure to appeal to today's knitters.  And, no, you don't have to be an expert to knit a beautiful stocking - the toe up designs range from novice to accomplished knitter levels.  

Whether you like traditional Aran-influenced designs or more whimsical styles, there's a pattern to match everyone's tastes.  Are you more classic country Rustic Lodge or delicate, feminine Victoria Flowers? 

The ornament patterns are all relatively easy, quick knits that would make fabulous decorations, package toppers, or small gifts.  Mini socks are great stuffed with candy canes, mini felted mitts and socks look cute hanging from anywhere and mini sweaters can be knit in your favorite team colors.  You can also get fancy by adding some beads to small heart, star or tree ornaments.  

The photographs throughout the book are eye-catching and colorful.  Each project has been photographed in a shabby-chic meets cottage-chic way that will have you oohing and aahing as you flip from one pattern to another.  Each time I open the book, I think of more possibilities and projects!

The nostalgia of a hand knit Christmas stocking is timeless.  These heirloom pieces are meant to last a life time, and are often passed down through generations.  Why stuff another plain-Jane red and white felted stocking when you can be stuffing colorful, elegant creations?

The holidays are a special time... so grab a copy of Knit Christmas Stockings, add needles and yarn, then take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.  Find a comfy spot, add a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and slow down and enjoy the time that leads up to Christmas morning.   

GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the great folks at Storey Publishing, Christmas comes early to one lucky reader.  Follow these steps to be entered to win a copy of Knit Christmas Stockings:

1) LIKE the Lapdog Creations page on Facebook*.  

2) Leave a comment below telling us about your Christmas knitting habits.  What items do you typically knit, and who do you knit for?  Have you ever knit a Christmas stocking before?   

3) Follow Lapdog Creations publicly through Google+ Followers or Google Friend Connect (see "Followers" on the side bar)  .  

To be eligible to win, you must be a resident of the USA and you must complete all 3 steps above (*if you are not on Facebook, please leave a comment indicating so*). Please be sure your entry includes a way to contact you (i.e. link to your blog or include your email address).

Winner will be selected by random number generator. Deadline for entries is Monday, September 30th at 11:59pm EST (midnight) 

Disclaimer: Storey Publishing, LLC sent a complimentary copy of Knit Christmas Stockings to Lapdog Creations for review purposes. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in the review are my own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Mischief: Mega What?

Happy Monday!  First of all, thank you to everyone who has asked about Zeus' trip to the vet on Thursday.  He was quite the happy little big camper when he found out we were going for and R-I-D-E...

dog in car

My big guy's "old man hack" had been getting worse and more frequent, so it was time to go in for chest x-rays.  We had one done last year that didn't show much.  Since then we had been trying to treat it with Pepcid once a day, plus we had also gone back to feeding twice a day, started adding some water to his food, and purchased an elevated dish.

Zeus' turn for a R-I-D-E #bigdog #dogstagram #love #smile

We arrived a little early and spent some time people watching in the waiting room.  When the tech came out to get Zeus for his x-rays, he did something he's never done before at the vet's office... he put all 4 brakes on... hard.  He just wasn't interested in going back there, but with a little persuasion from Mommy, off he went.


After the x-rays were complete (btw, our vet's office has a nifty new digital x-ray machine that produces some stellar images), it was off to the exam room where we waited for Dr. C...


I knew something was up as soon as she came into the room (never mind I had noticed they took blood while he was back there for the x-rays, which isn't typical). I'll admit, my heart sank and I knew for sure she was going to tell me she saw a tumor somewhere inside my big guy.  While the the x-rays did indeed show something, it was not a tumor.... it was his esophagus.  It's supposed to look like a thin pencil line, but Zeus' is very enlarged.  She said my boy has megaesophagus. Mega-what, you ask?  If you are interested in learning more, check out this article which is one of the ones Dr. C printed out for us before we left the office.

There are various tests we can do to figure out the underlying cause, however the majority of megaesophagus caes are idiopathic - meaning there is no underlying cause (which seems to be our trend for both Zeus and Lola's issues).  Patients are usually 5 to 12 years old (check) and a large breed dog (check).  Some causes include Cushing's Disease (which we tested for in March, 2012 when his liver levels were elevated - it came back negative), Thyroid Disease (which is why she took his blood on Thursday... the test came back normal) and Myasthenia Gravis.  The test for Myasthenia Gravis is pricey and our vet indicated she's never had one come back positive.  We skipped it on Thursday while we waited for the other blood work to come back, but now we will need to make a decision about going forward with this test.  Not having funds in your back pocket really stinks...  

The blood test also ruled out aspiration pneumonia at this time, however apparently this is common with megaesophagus cases.  Great...

So.. we have upped the Pepcid to twice a day and added Metoclopramide 2 - 3 times a day. Additionally, we now have to keep Zeus sitting upright for 10 - 15 minutes after eating, which for a 119 pound dog with arthritis is quite the task.  We had a fight the first time... a little the second... now we're getting much better at it, however my big guy really just wants to lay down after he eats.     

Oy... if it's not one thing, it's another. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You CAN Have Your Pie... and Eat it Too!

Happy Thursday... or as I'm going to call it this week, "Wordless Wednesday, Part 2."  It's a busy day here, including taking Zeus for chest x-rays.  I'm hoping we can figure out what's causing his "old man hack," which seems to have gotten far more frequent.  So, please excuse the drive-by posting and enjoy the pics...

Watching for his Daddy to get home #bigdog #smile #happydog

Yum! #flatpeaches #peach #newhampshire #MannOrchards #sodelicious #yumo

Things spotted at the #racetrack that make me smile #pitstall #shamrock #raceday

This mini #carnation #plant survived all winter, outside and unattended...and it's blooming again! #love #pretty #flowers #minicarnations

Day 5 #yarnpadc Door just hung up the Welcome #fall sign on this crisp morning in #newengland #apples #pumpkin

My cup is empty again #psl #icedcoffee #mycupisempty #racedayproblems #racecar

What, you've never had #pie for #breakfast #dontjudge #peach #blueberry #icedcoffee
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Signs of Fall

Wednesday again, already?  Let's get wordless...

She's hunting something! #houndmix #dogstagram #PositivelyDog

Holy #tomatoes #MannOrchards #tomato #heirloom

Onto #coffee number 2 of the day...but wishing #Maine rest stops ran on #dunkins instead of overpriced $bucks  #pumpkinspicedlatte #psl


#crabapples #newhampshire #fall #apple #trees in the backyard

Here comes the #sun #trees #newhampshire

#raceday #uslegends #8 #nhms #racetrack @nhms

Why yes, #fall does come to my #yard first, of course! #love #trees #clouds #sky #leaves

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

REVIEW: The American Craft Beer Cookbook

The American Craft Beer Cookbook

155 Recipes From Your Favorite Brewpubs & Breweries

by John Holl

Paperback: 352 Pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (August 27, 2013)


Who doesn't love a good meal at a brewpub?  Whether it's your favorite local spot or someplace you visit while on vacation, chances are the atmosphere reminds you of the comforts of home - good food, great beer and fantastic company.  With The American Craft Beer Cookbook, you can now recreate the meals at home!

With more than 2,500 breweries in the United States, times are changing!  Gone are the days of bland bar food served with an even blander light beer.  Local breweries and brewpubs are popping up all over the country, revolutionizing both our beer culture and the food we enjoy alongside a refreshing, cold pint.  Chefs are taking "pub food" to a whole new level by using different varieties of craft brews to flavor their dishes.

Beer journalist (yes, apparently there is such a thing - who knew?) John Holl traveled the country, collecting more than 150 recipes from breweries, brewpubs, chefs and beer-centric restaurants.  The result is the 155 recipes which make up The American Craft  Beer Cookbook.

My beer tastes have evolved over the years, as have my cooking skills... and I'm anxious to see those worlds collide to make delicious meals, especially with prime comfort food season on the way.  Sure, I've cooked with beer before... after all, no New England Boiled Dinner recipe is complete without a bottle added to the water ... but not on this level. 

The American Craft  Beer Cookbook is divided into 10 chapters.  Some of the recipes include beer, while others are to be paired with certain varieties to best enhance the flavors on the plate.  I've listed them below, along with some of the recipes that have caught my eye.
  1. Beer and Brunch
    • Beer-mosa - sure we've all had a Mimosa, but what happens when you use beer instead of champagne?
  2. Appetizers
    • Slow-Cooked Doppelbock BBQ Meatballs - beer and root beer bbq sauce = yum!
  3. Sauces and Spreads
    • Shiner Beer Barbecue Sauce - see above... and no, these recipes are not related
  4. Salads
    • Northern Michigan Salad with Fruit Beer Vinaigrette - never mind the greens, I like this vinaigrette for just about anything
  5. Sandwiches and Burgers
    • Pistachio-Crusted Salmon Sandwich with Meyer Lemon Butter - I've never thought to pair pistachios with salmon before... and boy does that combination sound good!
  6. Soups, Stews and Chilis
    • Planet Porter Bison Stew - I'm a huge bison lover and this sounds delish on a crisp early Fall-ish day like today
    • Cauliflower Lavender Soup - this just sounds so different, I must try it
  7. Entrees
    • Roasted Venison Saddle with Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock Mole - venison + a shout out to a New England favorite, Sam Adams
    • Sage Veal Medallions - this one comes from another New England establishment, The Willimantic Brewing Company in Connecticut, which is housed inside a decommissioned post office... that alone makes me want to take a road trip.  The recipe does not have beer in it, but is recommended to enjoy with a saison
    • Chicken-Fried Steak Tips with ESB gravy - this sounds like amazing comfort food
  8. From the Sea
    • Black Cod Brulee - this recipes comes from The Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau and I've been trying to hunt down some of their Summer Ale ever since we got back from our cruise... now I have another reason to beg for a special delivery from Santa (although the recipe uses their Amber)
  9. Side Dishes
    • Wild Mushroom and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Stuffing - back to the comfort food theme, this one sounds quite versatile
  10. Desserts
    • Winter Warmer Pumpkin Pie - 1 word: yum-o!  And not just because this one comes from another Boston hot spot, Harpoon Brewery and uses their Winter Warmer brew
    • Pale Ale Pineapple Brown Sugar Cupcakes - cupcakes made with beer? OK!
As you can see, The American Craft Beer Cookbook encompasses quite a range of recipes!  Yes, there are recipes for some more standard pup fare as well, including burgers, chilies, tacos and chowders.  If you enjoy creative pup food, grab a copy today!  It also makes the perfect gift for the beer lovers and foodies on your holiday list! 

About the Author: Author John Holl has visited more than 900 breweries around the world, conducting research for his beer-and-travel books as well as articles for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Beer Connoisseur, Beverage World, and many other publications.  He has judge beer competitions, regularly lectures on craft beer, and appears often on NBC's Weekend Today in New York.  He is the editor of All About Beer magazine and is the host of the Beer Briefing on iHeartRadio.  John lives in New Jersey.

Disclaimer: Storey Publishing, LLC sent a complimentary copy of The American Craft Beer Cookbook to Lapdog Creations for review purposes. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in the review are my own.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Mischief: Lola Update

Happy crazy-busy-Monday!  There's all sorts of mischief busy going on around here today.  But I wanted to update you on the important thing... especially for those who caught Friday's post about Lola and her bumps.

Trip to the vet #dogstagram #dobermanmix

We went to visit the vet on Friday afternoon and she agreed, there were definitely new lumps.  She did a needle aspiration on a couple of them and confirmed they looked like what we were dealing with from before.  So...


Back on prednisone Lola goes.  Thankfully, it's a low dose of just 10mg, once a day... and hopefully, this is enough to zap those stupid lumps!


Please keep your paws crossed for us...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Black & White Sunday: Boys Will Be Boys

Happy Sunday!  Is everyone enjoying their pre-fall? 

Here are my boys, doing what the do best.  Tut cuddling with Mommy last Sunday morning and Zeus cuddling with Daddy's pile of clothes (yes, we do have a hamper) while he was at work earlier this week........ at least they love their humans.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday, Friday, Friday...

Happy Friday... the 13th.  I'm counting on it being a good and productive day.  It's been a crazy week and I really need that.  I also need some as good as possible news about Lola's lumps today, but more about that later...

It's been awhile since I've gotten a Fiber Arts Friday post in, so we'll start with some fibery goodness.  I've been participating in the September Yarn PAD (pic-a-day) over on Instragram which was resulted in some (what I think are) pretty cool shots.

Lapdog Creations

Lapdog Creations

Day 8 Texture #yarnpadc Stitches of The Amelia #scarf in #DebbieBliss Winter Garden and my #sheep #knittingneedles

I'm also actually working on some WIP's and not just taking photos for Instragram.  The first 2 items are for my favorite racing baby girl, Quinn.  When I was searching for a "special" hat pattern for her, I rediscovered my copy of Itty-Bitty Hats and remembered how awesome this book was.  For now, you only get the very beginning of the pattern I picked (and no, it's not the cover photo)...

Forgot how great this book was until I went searching for a #babyhat #pattern that was NOT your ordinary hat... for a special baby girl #knitting #knitstagram

Lazy Sunday #knitting with Sophie snoozing next to me and #football on TV #lifeisgood #knitstagram #dogstagram

#yarnpadc #september Day 1... 2 UFOs at the racetrack today #crafty #knitting

I'm really trying to make a good push at getting some of these WIP's off the needles!  Some are gifts, some are for me... but they all need to be completed! 

Speaking of for me items, check out my Alaska Socks and Just Enough Ruffles Scarf...

Think I like these colors? #MadColorFiberArts Canyon on left #malabrigo Piedras on right #knitstagram #knitting

So, do you think I like these colors (I actually love them)?  That's Mad Color Fiber Arts in Canyon on the left and Malabrigo in Piedras on the right.  I hadn't actually noticed just how similar the colorways were until Instagraming photos of both projects as I was working on them.  Guess I'll have matchy-match socks and scarf, huh?

I hope to get some great weekend knitting time in - what's on your agenda?


Lola Update: First of all, yes that's my shameless girl above, in her new favorite sleeping position.  If you've been following along with our autoimmune saga, you know that she stopped the prednisone almost 4 weeks ago.  Unfortunately, I've found more lumps on my baby girl and while I've been trying to ignore make myself believe they are just the few that were there last month and no big deal, I truly believe we've got a bunch of new little bumps.  We are heading to see Dr C later this afternoon... please keep the paws crossed.
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