Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week's Official Friend of Fiona is... Pip!

We want everybody to know we did not choose Pip as the Official Friend of Fiona because he has spots and is an English Setter. We picked Pip because of his lovely poses seen here in The Ted (customized as a martingale) and the fact the email from his Dogmom said "Maybe Fiona will stop making eyes at that husky mix long enough to pick Pip as her friend this week!" Well Pip, Fiona is making sexy setter eyes at you this week and you are our big winner! Tell your Dogmom to contact us with your pick of a free collar from our shop for being our Official F.O.F. ! Congrats handsome boy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stormy Weather

Poor Fiona. She is a scaredy dog for storms and thunder and things that go bump in the night. She is not the first dog that I've shared my life with that fear the rumbles in the sky. Years ago my first Irish Setter Seamus also feared storms and we had a whole routine and special storm blanket we set up for him in the only room in our house without windows. So when we adopted Fiona and a few weeks thereafter had a thunderstorm pass through I was quick to notice her velcro-dog behavior and quivering snout.
Like everything else dog I have well researched and attempted every method known to dog-loving man on how to soothe the fearful shaking beast during a storm. Drugs create zombie-dogs and typically kick in an hour and a half after the storm has passed - then create a coma-like dog for the next 15 hours. Natural herbal treatments and flower essences are helpful but usually don't knock out all the fears effectively. My favorite is the expensive Storm Wrap - Body Wrap products that some have found useful but unfortunately don't work for us. The Wrap is made of bright colored neoprene and results in my still shaking dog not only still afraid but also looking like he or she is ready to snorkel. Ironically the cost of the wrap is also equivalent to an hour of snorkeling in the Bahamas.
The behavioral experts say ignore the behavior or you'll be reinforcing the fear. To which I say "Phooey-pooey you big meanie experts!" When my shaking spotty dogs curls into my lap during a storm and stops shaking I know she just needs the comfort of her Dogmom. No expert will convince me this is wrong, she needs me and this is why I share my life with her! I didn't bring a dog into my life to ignore it when it is feeling scared. Would these experts turn away a crying child who had a nightmare in the middle of the night and needs a hug? (probably...they are meanies after all) I know am I not alone out there either. I personally know a dog guardian who sleeps in the bath tub with her lab when thunder rumbles and another who camps out in a walk-in closet with a body pillow and a quivering toy breed.
So when the last set of rumbles hit our region I set up one of the dog beds in Seamus' old spot in the bathroom upstairs with no windows. I turned on some soft classical music and Fiona instinctively went and laid down till the weather passed. I plopped down next to her and I stroked her head assuring her all would be okay and watched as her breathing slowed and her eyes fluttered asleep. Didn't cost a thing and you know what? I kind of liked the way it made me feel. Loved. Needed. Humbled by the simplicity of making my dog feel secure. No behaviorist in the world can convince me otherwise. I'm no meanie.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Creatures of Habit

The animals are all in a tizzy in our home. You never realize how much your companions are creatures of habit until you do something that conflicts with the norm. We have put our furred children in a state of discombobulation (is that even a word?) by remodeling our laundry room. Keeping in mind we need to renovate because of our pets. I looked at many flooring options and gone are the days I seek style and texture over ease of care. My main question to the flooring salesperson "Will it be easy to clean muddy paw prints, vomit and kitty litter off of?"
You could feel the panic rising Friday as I cleared everything out of the room in prep for reconstruction. The cats started pacing and meowing. Sully the most vocal. "Lady! Meow! Meow! Where the hell are you taking my cat bed that sits on top of the dryer!" Henri our geriatric feline who sleeps most the day became more awake than ever when the dry food dish was relocated temporarily. I showed her 4 times where the bowl was but she still went back to the old location and gave me her scratchy old cat yowl to voice her displeasure with the earth shattering change. Dugan our naughty older setter immediately went about devising a plan to steal the cat food in it's new location of coarse.
The dogs also felt the need to follow my every move as I emptied the room. "What? We're temporarily moving the laundry bin into the living room? This is anarchy! I'm going to drag all the laundry out of it!" When painting began it was soon realized that both dogs and cats wanted nothing more than to assist, no matter how many times we kicked them out of the room. We all know how happy and cheery our husbands are when they are working on a home project...add three annoying cats underfoot, wet paint and dogs that keep knocking the baby gate down to get to the painter. Good times.
Flooring efforts were just as fun as cats continued to enter the work area as apparently some type of rumor was circulating that the food bowl was put back in it's former location, even though the shelf it was housed on is no longer mounted on a wall. Quizzical and accusing looks from animal companions ensue.
I guess I did not fully calculate the anxiety a 2 day home remodel project would add up to with my pups and kits and I feel a little bad. In general they all wandered around like they were lost lambs - not settling down in their usual spots like they were just really confused. As I write my hubby just pounded in the last piece of Traffic Master Allure flooring...we can start putting everything back in and get the animal's world back in order. Now how do I break it to them we're doing the master bedroom next?

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Week's Official Friend of Fiona is... Shadow!

We had to pick this handsome gentleman as this week's Official Friend of Fiona! It was those two different colored eyes that had Fiona going ga-ga, not to mention that cute snout. Shadow is a husky-shepherd mix that is one lucky dog indeed. His Dogmom adopted him about a month ago when he was pulled from a high kill shelter. When Shadow was taken from the shelter it was noted he had scarring on his neck from a former negligent guardian that didn't remove a too small collar off of him. We want Shadow to know that is all in his past and he gets his pick of a free brand spankin' new comfy Lucky Fiona Collar! Tell your Dogmom to email us Shadow and we'll get you all taken care of, and just in case you still have some growing to do sweet boy our collars are all adjustable so no worries, you'll never have a too tight collar again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whiny Dog

My setter Dugan is a whiner. I've shared my life with 4 setters over the years and they all whine a little bit, but Dugan has taken doggie whining to a new level. An art form really. He whines when he wants to eat (which is all day every day). He whines when he wants a treat (ditto). He whines when Caelan is sitting in front of the doggie door, the stairway or any path he wants to take (which is quite pathetic to see as he is twice her size and could plow past her if he wanted). He whines when it's too windy, too rainy, when a jogger wearing neon passes behind our house or when he feels he's not getting enough ear scratches. He's whiny.
We've gotten used to his whine, so much so that last night I was out on the deck grilling dinner and I heard the whine I didn't even turn around. "Simmer down Dugan" I responded to the oft heard sound of unsubstantiated despair. I flipped the kabobs and looked behind me to see Fiona laying quietly on the deck. "Hmmmm, I thought, that was odd. I thought I heard Dugan's whine." I went inside and set the table and went back out for another grill turn when again I clearly heard the whine. This time I was alone in the backyard. Thinking I was crazy I went inside and found Dugan sleeping soundly on the living room couch. I went back outside. A few minutes later I heard it again...coming from the pine tree in the back yard. It was then I realized Dugan's whine was being recreated by a bird. A grackle to be exact. I knew a little bit about grackles but had no idea they could mimic things. A quick check of the internet (while dinner preperation was completely ignored for this life altering information) confirmed this fact. Grackles can mimic human voices and animal sounds.
I've noticed the return of the grackles the past 2 weeks, kind of like the evil cousin of the innocent robin they are a sign of spring returning. They nest in our pine tree yearly and bully all the birds out of our feeder while carelessly throwing seed everywhere as they gobble. I've never really liked the yellow eyed devils. A few years ago I once witnessed them attack a mourning dove with the intention of eating it. "Cannibals!" I screamed as I rescued the dove from their pecks and drove it 45 minutes to the wildlife rehab, who assured me the injury was not life threatening and the dove would be re-released after healing. Since then I kind of looked at the grackles as the Scott Farkus of the bird neighborhood - he had yellow eyes too remember.
Yesterday though I looked at those big meanies with a new founded respect. They are mimicking my Dugan! How brilliant! You see any villain can be redeemed if I view it as a compliment to my dogs. So now as if Dugan's whine is not annoying enough we can look forward to the "previously recorded and recreated" sound of his whine courtesy of the grackles. Now if I could just teach the grackles to say something useful. I see more internet research on the horizon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More pictures

Peloquin Family Ready to March
A very big thank you to Tanya Peloquin for sending me these awesome pictures from the parade yesterday. Her camera thankfully was functioning just dandy and she got some gorgeous shots. We have decided to name her the Official Parade Archivist of Lucky Fiona. Like most of our employees she will be paid in collars not actual currency. So Tanya tell Lawrence to pick out a free custom collar from the shop for your 1st paycheck!

Lucky Fiona is a Hit at local St. Patrick's Day Parade

Alex and the Head Bitch (left) Gracie & Marcy (right)
*Excuse quality of pictures, sadly my little click-and-go Canon officially bit the dust yesterday and all the photos I took are overexposed beyond help.
Thank you to all who joined us yesterday for the Naperville St. Patrick's Day Parade. It was a grand old time and we are especially proud that almost every dog (sans one) that marched with us was a rescue! Just a great example that gorgeous and loving purebred dogs are out there waiting for the right homes. (mixed breeds too) Fiona says a big woof of thanks to Moxon, Lawrence, Caelan, Allie, Briggs, Riley, Gracie, Bailey and Oliver for being the best supermodel dogs ever showing off our collars and leashes to the parade watchers. A warm thanks to their humans as well for being such great ambassadors of Lucky Fiona and sharing the day with us.

Peggy Official Driver and Allergic to Dogs (left) Dimitri Family (right)

Donna and Riley w/ Green Mohawk (left) Oliver w/ Green Eyebrows (right)

Moxon was a hit w/ Green Paws (left) Our youngest marcher Baby Lyla (right)

Gaskin Family (left) Briggs (right)

Lucky Fiona Truck (left) Peloquins & Barkemas (right)

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Week's Official Friend of Fiona is... Chloe!

There is nothing cuter than a snoozin' spaniel wearing Lucky Fiona! Henceforth we have decided to name the lovely Chloe as this week's Official Friend of Fiona! Do you think she is dreaming of more collar styles? Snoozy Chloe is a recent rescue and her Dogmom reports she is a big old sweetie. We think her pretty spots look as adorable as can be with her custom Lucky Fiona "Lotus" collar. We hope Chloe wakes up soon and tells her Dogmom to contact us so she can pick out her FREE custom collar for being this week's winner! Congrats on your new home and for being this week's winner.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wackadoodle Dog Guardians Unite!

The problem when you work with animals professionally is that people assume that your own animal companions are perfectly trained, fed, groomed and are the Emily Post's of the canine world when it comes to manners. I'm outing myself to the world right now that my dog's are far from model citizens. I rescue and share my life with setters, it takes a special (some may say crazy) type of animal guardian to live with this breed. But those who know them love them, not in spite of, but because of the fact they are a little wackadoodle. Okay... a lot wackadoodle.
I've worn many hats in the animal world, vet technician, professional pet sitter, animal therapist, head bitch of a collar company. I know dogs and I know mine are nutso. This is one of the great ironies in my life that I can quote you tried and true positive reinforcement training techniques with much detail and bravado but my own dogs ignore our recall command at the dog park. I stand there in dark sunglasses and a floppy hat hoping not to get recognized by a client as I fruitlessly try to get my setters who have picked up 850 individual scents of critters to return to me. I uselessly call out our specially trained recall phrase which works fantastically when practiced from our kitchen to our living room at home. Fiona and Caelan respond by running deeper into the tall brush and acting like they've never seen that crazy lady with the big sunglasses before in their lives.
But I keep the illusion going strong that I actually know something about dogs and have control over my own. Friends, family, clients...they all call and email me for advice on all things dog and I keep shoveling out the knowledge. I can teach your dog how to perfectly sit stay and walk on the leash without pulling. I am magical and you are all so thankful for my insight and experience on what works with dogs! But deep in the underbelly of my life I have a dirty little secret. My own Dugan is a twirling dervish the first 5 minutes you put a leash on him. Has been for 8 years of me reinforcing training techniques with him. I've read the books, I've taken the classes, I've logged the time. I've been to trainers, vet behaviorists and holistic flower essence healers. I've spent more money on no-pull harness, leashes and head halters than I care to admit (plus my husband reads this) The dog still spins the first 5 minutes. It's the wackadoodle factor.
Today I took the girls to the groomer and hooked them in their seat belts in the backseat of my car. Somehow in the 15 minute drive they managed to tangle themselves in such a mess that it took me 20 minutes to unhook them to bring them inside the groom shop. The seatbelts were all wound around one another like one of those Amish rope puzzles, except this was not fun or quaint in any way. Caelan had a piece of Hubba Bubba in her mouth found under a seat (note I do not chew gum but my husband does) and Fiona's collar was off and jammed into one of the seat belt clasps so tightly I considered cutting it with a Swiss Army knife to free it. It was 14 degrees this morning in Chicago and I was sweating like a whore in church just getting my dogs out of the car. So I did what any respected animal professional would do...I walked into the groom shop calmly with my dogs like I was the revered alpha of my pack and alluded to my groomer that the sweat was due to an early morning work out.
Life is too short for perfect dogs. I'll take mine like the rest of my life...silly and a mess. Perhaps someday my dogs will be as perfect as I preach, but until then I'll just love my wackadoodles.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We love a rave...

One of the most professional and generous, and just all around fabulous sellers on Etsy! My girl looks smashing in her new collar! Thank you so much for the lucky 7's also! It's just as smashing! :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Eydie!

Lucky Fiona,
Here's our little dogster wearing her new collar. Today is Eydie's birthday! So I thought what a perfect day to send you her picture, she is now a 2 year old pup! (She's a little camera shy so we went with the "I'm-too-cool-to-look-at-you" look.
Thanks again for the great collar,
Josh, Donna, and Eydie

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time to Play

Thanks to Lucky Fiona Pal and Customer Molly for sending in these adorable pictures of Emma and pup Rowan enjoying their Whiparound toy. They were too adorable not to share of these sweet sisters playing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This Week's Official Friend of Fiona is... Zoe!

We're a sucker for a Great Dane around here and especially one with one ear flapping in the wind. Hence we have named the adorable Dane Zoe as this week's Official Friend of Fiona. Zoe may be a big dog but no reason to wear those dorky tough dog collars the chain stores sell for giant breeds. Do they really think all big dogs are meanies that wear spikes, studs and giant leather buckles? Ms. Zoe looks lovely in her custom Lucky Fiona "Poppy" collar and not a stud in sight. We invite her Dogmom to email us and let us know what lovely collar Zoe picks as being this week's winner. Congrats!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Love a Parade...

When I was a little girl I loved parades. I actually still love a parade truth be told. I take Fiona, Caelan and Dugan to every little parade known to man. If there was a magazine called "Parade Watchers Unlimited" I would subscribe. My friend Jill in Connecticut I'm sure is cringing as she reads this and unplugging her phone. She kindly visits me wherever I live in this beautiful country and I somehow always manage to drag her to a parade during her vacations with me. There was the 4 hour long Savannah Georgia St. Pat's parade when I lived down South. Oh yes and then there was the little neighborhood Fourth of July parade when I lived in the Seattle region that included kids on decorated bicycles and one fire truck. I forced Jill to walk in that one with me and our dogs Seamus and Fergus. Last March Jill innocently came to visit me in Chicagoland to help prepare for her wedding and before she could put her suitcase down I dragged her to the local St. Patrick's day processional and her dodging Tootsie rolls from enthusiastic parade float throwers. Poor gal.
Parades just harken back to something simple and pure and joyful. I still get that flutter of excitement when I hear the bagpipes play, I can't help it. Perhaps in this worrisome world we live in we all need to take a day and gather and point and cheer with our communities. We all need a parade.
This year I am excited to announce Lucky Fiona will be a featured participant in the West Suburban Irish Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade being held in Naperville, Illinois on March 14th. We are looking for Lucky Fiona fans to march with us! If you are in the Naperville area please email me at and RSVP, we'd love to have you on Team Lucky Fiona. All dogs walking with our team will receive a free Lucky Fiona leash and collar to show off their L.F. pride. We want to win "Best 4 Legged Entry" and need some fabulous dogs to do so!

*The picture to the left is me with Dugan (note the green mohawk) and my husband Alex as we participated in the 2007 Naperville St. Pat's parade. Notice my husband is in lounge pants as he just recovered from a surgery and was released from the hospital a few days prior to the parade. I still made him go to the parade. This is testimony to how serious of a parade-goer I really am.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is it Over Yet?

I realized I reached the end of my "I want winter to be over" rope the other day when I was watching a television commercial for an allergy medication and I was jealous of the woman in it because she was outdoors wearing a short sleeved shirt. That's not rational. I mean the poor woman was suffering from seasonal allergies and dry eye and all I could fixate on was hating her for bare arms in the sunshine.
I fear that even Fiona has been affected by seasonal sadness. This is no small feat. I mean she's an English Setter for God' sake, she is exuberant over almost everything. "You're going to the other room! Yippeee! I'll go too and wag my tail the whole way!" "What? We're taking laundry upstairs! Whoo-hoo! I'll race up the stairway ahead of you!" "Life is super-de-duper!" For her to be bummed out is pretty major and I've caught her quite a few times this past week looking out the window and letting out a deep setter sigh. She too longs for the sun to shine and green to return to the landscape.
I don't know where it all went wrong. You know it started off fine and well. The beauty of the first snowfall and the joy of cuddling under the down comforter, it was all so poetic. All the fun winter fashions and darling wool hats and colorful scarves. Then somewhere in mid-January winter lost it's romance. It might of been when I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror before stepping out the door and saw that my puffy coat with 4 layers of shirts under it made me look like the Michelin man's lost twin. My hat covered hair was far beyond styling and smooshed to my head like a playdough mold and my colorful jaunty scarf was replaced by the 12 foot one my Mom knit that can be wrapped around my head multiple times. The saddest part of this picture was I was not heading out to sled with a team of dogs across the tundra but was merely getting dressed to go to the mailbox.
And that was January. Time and cold and snow have slowly trickled by since and here we are in March and still I'm freezing my ass off. I attempted to fool Mother Nature last week by ordering seeds from the gardening catalogs that keep rolling in to taunt me. I thought by thinking of warm soil it would start to happen, right? I even went outside and looked at the brittle frozen garden beds and announced loudly (because I wanted Mother Nature to hear me) "Soon it will be time to start turning soil! Better start warming up soon, hint, hint!" Her response was to dump a "late season snow storm" on much of the country. Apparently Mother Nature doesn't give a rat's ass how my hair looks under a winter hat and is going to stretch this out to spite me.
So Fiona and I keep on spring dreaming. Soon there will be green grass to romp on and a day when I'm outside with the dogs when I'll say "Gosh this sweatshirt is too warm!" It will happen, it has to... because I will hunt that bitch Mother Nature down if it doesn't, so help me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

We love a rave...

Just beware you will never be able to order just one! I think this makes our sixth one. They are so well made and seem to be really comfortable for my dogs to wear. Molly loves hers she will bring them to me and cry until I change hers to the one she wants to wear.

= ) Thanks again -Stacey