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