Wednesday, August 17, 2016


He's your baby, so cute and fluffy, and totally harmless, but we have to remember that when BABY grows up, he or she will have sharp teeth, very strong jaws, a mind of his/her own and quite often a prey drive - sometimes a strong one.

           If we have more than one Baby, they become a pack, and at times, pack mentality will come to the fore.    This isn't too bad if our dogs are small, gentle, and most of all, under our control, but if they are unsupervised, untrained and unsocialized, it's a recipe for disaster.                                                 This means we have to take the responsibility of  training our dogs,  of socializing them,  and knowing something about their inherent character types.      A couple of herding dogs can make walking from point A to B, an adventure, and some inherently herd  by nipping, something that is not pleasant at the best of times, but becomes something serious when children  are involved.                  If we are talking about a dog whose job it was to guard and protect, a dog of this nature, if not raised with wisdom and care, might become overly protective of the person they see as being in their charge.                                                                                        I don't believe in Breed Profiling,   but I think there are some of the larger dogs who once were used for military or dog fighting, that do not always make suitable family pets.  These dogs, many of whom are wonderful canine citizens, need educated training to bring out the best in them.  Human education.    I believe all dogs need to be trained, from tiny Fluffy to humongous Hugo.  I believe some dogs need specialized training, always incoporating consistency with gentle discipline.   I've spent my life, since I was child, with dogs, and have spent countless hours learning about the Shelties and Collies that I love, finding out what best suits them as to training, and how best to live with them day to day.  This doesn't meant I could take on a large, dominant breed and do well by it.  It would be a whole new learning curve for me, and one that I would have to take on with professional guidance.                                                                             There have been a series of dog attacks in our city recently, the last one involving 2 large dogs on the loose attacking someone from behind  for no known reason.   The person was badly injured, obviously terrified, and the dogs were shot.  It's easy to blame the dogs or the breed, but who left those dogs unattended?  Who did not teach them that a human or another dog or cat was not prey?     Were they really a suitable choice as a house pet in the first place?   I enjoy all the breeds and their histories and the beautiful examples of those breeds and types we see today.  But I also see, what to me, is a worrisome trend of people wanting the big, tough dogs to show how  tough they are, or how compassionate the person is to rescue the dog.  But if they don't understand the potential stick of dynamite on the end of their leash and don't put in the time to properly train and relate to that type of dog, how can they hope to do right by the dog and to all around them?       Any dog, no matter what the breed or type, can explode or become a bully, and any dog can be wonderful.  But if people want the edgy dogs, maybe they need to take a course or two and be able to prove that they understand what they are taking on and can properly train and care for these dogs.                                                                                                     The other side of this trend to adopt or buy the edgy breeds (as I think of them - to me, there are NO bad breeds or types) is that there are a lot of sweet, gentle breeds and little souls in shelters  who are being passed over, just because they are quiet unassuming, and not a "misunderstood" dog.  There are lots of shy, nervous, less than perfect dogs out there  who need loving homes and whom people can feel good about taking into their lives.  Trust me, at some point, they will all provide a challenge for you!    Even they need training and  gentle rules to live by.  When all is said and done, your baby and mine are dogs, sweet, wonderful,  and loving, but DOGS all the same who need to feel comfortable and secure in their pack/family.

Til next time, 
Cheers,   Heather Anderson

The Dog Art Gallery on ETSY

Saturday, July 23, 2016

DOGS, The Real Thing

Wow, it's been a while since I did a blog post, but you know how it can be . . . Life just happens sometimes.   I had been thinking about starting in again with my blog, but what pushed me to begin NOW are the multitude of stories lately about dogs and cats being abandoned or turned over to Shelters.  
I understand about a tight economy . . .  trust me, an Artist knows all about a tight economy!  But I'm hearing about people handing over their pets because   ' We don't have time for it' or 'It's old and can't keep up with us anymore' . . .  that sort of thing.  And worse, MUCH worse, are the people who simply move and leave their pet alone without care, who tie them up outside a store and walk away, or dump them on the side of a road.  What, I wonder,  do they have in place of a heart?  
I have to wonder if fashion, in a small way, contributes to this wave of callousness.  So many of the lovely dogs I'm seeing these days are wearing a 'Fashion Clip' of some sort.   What started out as easy maintenance clips for long haired dogs has morphed into making the dog look like a stuffed toy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against clipping a dog because it's a breed/mix that requires ongoing special grooming such as a poodle, or to make it easier to care for, although I have to wonder why anyone would get a long haired dog in the first place if they don't want to do the grooming.  There are, after all,  a  great many beautiful short haired dogs out there.  
We have Shelties, and that means Mega-fur.  We never, absolutely never clip or shave them unless it's for medical reasons and then they lose the least amount of hair possible.  Their coat helps keep them from the cold obviously, but in it's own way, it helps keep them cooler in the summer too by acting as an insulator, keeping the sun off their skin. Aside from that health reason, dogs like Shelties, Collies, and so many more were meant to have the huge or long coat.  It's part of what makes them  the wonderful breed or mix that they are.

I wonder if making a dog look like an anonymous fluffy stuffed toy isn't nudging people to see them as a non sentient stuffed animal, something to be played with until it becomes inconvenient, outgrown, or  worn out.  This is NOT a crack at the Pet Grooming Industry. They are an important part of the Pet loving world.  It's a comment on the clip fashions people are asking for.  Sure, the dog  looks cute, adorable, cuddly, with its little button eyes, black bead nose, and sculpted outline.  But there is a real animal in there that feels, needs food, exercise, affection, training, care and loyalty from the person who took on the responsibility for them in the first place.
If you just want something cute to carry around, go for it . . . get a stuffed toy.   This is a toy dog.


This is a real one.        

We need to keep remembering the difference.  We need to be able to commit to responsibly caring for and loving a dog (or a cat) for their whole lives before we decide to become a pet person.

Until next time, 
Heather Anderson          The Dog  Art Gallery on Etsy

Wednesday, January 20, 2016



Yes, January is cold here, often bitterly cold, but I don't mind it.  On a good day, the snow sparkles and the frigid air is filled with the sounds of winter birds as they come to the feeders for a bite to eat.  The long shadows are gorgeous blues and violets against the sun splashed snow and ice crystals glitter diamond-like in the sun.  The garden takes on mysterious shapes that the dogs bark at while they are out running along the paths my husband shovels for them, and memories of summer poke up out of the snow.  Was that where the big blue hosta was?  Is that the remains of the pink cone flower? The large grasses stay recognizable, but even they are wearing a winter cloak.

And when it's cloudy dark and bitter and the wind howls, it's wonderful to curl up by the fire, a cup of hot tea or cocoa, or maybe a glass of sherry, and go through the seed catalogues, choosing the seeds and plants for next spring, and dreaming of summer.
til next time,
Heather  Anderson              The Dog Art Gallery  on Etsy

Sunday, December 20, 2015


It's nearly here, that joyous, tiring, tension-fraught, hopeful, WONDERFUL time of year . . .  CHRISTMAS!  Part of the special magic to me, is that most people are celebrating a special holiday within the boundaries of this time frame, so all people can unite in celebration, even if they are celebrating different things.
Here at Sheltie Hollow, preparations are well under way.  I have the ice candle made and waiting in the freezer for Solstice night when it will go out in the garden to be lit and shine through the longest darkest night.

With the weather this year, it's a toss up as to whether it will burn out or melt first, but out it will go anyway, to mark the shortest day/longest night of the year.  This is the day that Winter officially arrives, and I hope he hears our welcome and wanders our way soon.
In the kitchen,  the animals are helping me bake cookies and make the Tourtiere for Christmas Eve, except the one I make is my Irish Grandmother's recipe, more of a meat pastie than a French Canadian Tourtiere.  It's all about Tradition.
I really am the world's worst pastry maker, but every year I feel compelled to actually make the pastry, not just open a box.  It's about not letting my Grandmother and my Aunt down.  So every year I say a little prayer before I begin, asking for their help in this monumentally difficult task.  Every year they look down on me and help me get the pastry rolled out and in the pie plate without too much trouble.  But this year, I have a feeling they were sitting together on a cloud, sipping angelic Sherry and laughing together, because this time, a series of mini disasters overcame my pastry, culminating in the top layer suddenly going limp in my hands just before it collapsed in a ball on top of the filling!   As they say, try, try again, and finally a new circle of pastry landed where it should, smooth and white and ready for the oven.  I was left happy, but  a nervous wreck.
The animals are a great help with the baking, keeping me company as they sniff the good scents coming from the oven and offering to taste just about everything.  But it wouldn't be half as much fun, baking without them there.

So now the cookies casseroles and the tourtiere are in the freezer, the tree is up (miraculously Still up despite a kitten in the house) and the coloured lights shine through the darkness.  All that is left is for me to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and PEACE TO ALL ON EARTH.

Til next time,
Heather Anderson

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


It's three am  in the Emergency Vet Hospital, and the people around us are sitting with strained faces and  the dogs and cats sitting on their laps or close beside them are all too quiet.  As awful as it is when we are ill, it is somehow worse when it's one of our beloved pets because they can't tell us exactly what's wrong, or where the pain is, or how badly they actually feel.  It is SUCH a helpless feeling.
We have been in this position too many times and we will be again.  Where we often tend to adopt a wait and see attitude when it's us feeling poorly, when we notice something is amiss with the dogs or cats, we rush to see the vet, never mind what time of the night or day.  Sometimes we leave the hospital feeling wonderful because it has been a false alarm, but its always better to have had the "something" checked out, and sometimes we leave worried to the core of our being.
Thank goodness for the wonderful vets and techs we have now, and thank goodness for the new detection methods and medications that allow our dogs and cats to come home to recover their normally good health.  Yes of course it costs - sometimes a LOT, but if we have taken on the responsibility for an animal, we also have to honour the responsibility to care for it, and for many people, ourselves included, it's an act of love more than a responsibility.

Although it can be tricky giving the required meds, it's good to see them recovering at home, where the other pets take turns sitting with the invalid.

And when a recovery is complete, the joy for everyone is immeasurable! Energy and joy return to the house and everyone is wearing a smile.

The little dog in the photos spent many hours at the emergency vet.  He had a knack for becoming ill around 3 am, and recovered from way too many illnesses.  His indomitable spirit carried him through until he was 13 years old, when the struggle became too much.  But we remember his joy in every day and strive to make sure that all our other dogs and cats share in that joy by giving them the best care possible.  That's what we signed up for, to give them the best possible love and care in sickness and in health. 
Til next time,
Cheers,   Heather .

Monday, November 2, 2015


November creeps in softly here in the country, with a cool breath and silence.  It doesn't matter whether the day is dark or sunny, November has an air of waiting that stills the senses.  It's a between time . . . .  between the pumpkin and night-dark fun of Halloween and the red and green, silver and gold utter joy and energy of the Thanksgiving/Christmas Seasons.
The fields are bare, the trees make spare, elegant lines in the sky, and the road side grasses spear up in Chanel shades of bleached ivory and ochre, and black.  The evenings are filled with fog and mornings glitter with frost.  How can one not love this take-a-breath month of classic colours, moody skies and silent fog .

People are out with their dogs, enjoying the bright days and crisp but not yet biting air.  It's a great time for Dog Sports like tracking and the Retriever Trials. Late Autumn and the Sporting Dogs just go together.

And the Shelties?  They keep busy telling the crows what they think of them - from a safe distance of course.  Wishing all of you a peaceful November.

Until next time,
Cheers,   Heather Anderson
The Dog Art Shop on Etsy

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


        October is one of my  favourite months of the whole year.  The weather varies from gently warm to crisp, and the colours are  enough to make you stop and stare. I used to love to go riding in the early evening during October, up through the back fields where the corn was being cut and the big iridescent bowl of the sky glowed with dusky pastels and goose music was all around us.  Equally enchanting are the walks in the garden with the Shelties in the October gloaming when everything takes on an amber glow.

October is filled with gifts to enjoy and celebrate.  In Canada, we have Thanksgiving, there is a rich sweetness in the air that only comes at this time of the year, and at the end of the month of course, is Halloween, filled with fun and chocolate treats.  Leaves drift down lazily with the Autumn breezes, silently, one at a time like slim golden jewels or in a torrent when the wind shows its temper.  They lie thick on the ground, tempting me to shuffle through them, or blow just out of reach of the jaws of a young pup, determined to catch one.

There are enchanting surprises too, the frosts of early morning and dew sparkling on the pumpkins, the return of the winter birds like the Cardinals with their flash of scarlet and distinctively beautiful song, an unexpected autumn rose blooming, and a tiny mouse dashing across the front step in his hurry to put his house (and pantry) in order before winter.
I hope all of you can find the time to pause in your busy lives and take a moment to close your eyes and listen to the October sounds, to inhale the special woodsy sweetness of this month, then open your eyes and take a few moments to drink in the splendour of Autumn.
                                                                                                                                                              Cheers, til next time,
Heather Anderson                                                                    The Dog Art Gallery on Etsy

    Please note, all images are in the copyright of the artist.