Curl up with your dog and a good book

Curl up with your dog and a good book

With Blue Monday having just passed and the short, cold days of January ahead of us, it's the perfect time of year to curl up with your snugglebuddy (that's your dog) and catch up on some reading.

There are some great dog-themed books out at the moment. Here are my top three picks:

1. Dog Days by Andrew Cotter

Do you remember during lockdown (don't ask me which one!) there were all those hilarious YouTube videos of labradors Olive and Mabel? You don't? Seriously? Check them out here if not!  

Right. Are you sitting nicely? Good. Let's discover exactly what happened after two superstar Labradors chewed up the lockdown internet and found it really quite tasty.

He's not kept a diary for decades but here, in DOG DAYS, Andrew Cotter draws inspiration from the great Samuel Pepys; like him, he bears witness to the extraordinary everyday as the world tilts on its axis in our own unsettling era.

And so, with Olive and Mabel at his side - actually, dawdling in the long grass or sleeping upside down - Andrew takes a clear-eyed, often hilarious walk through a year that encompasses all of life from the crushingly mundane to the decidedly odd.

Followed by whispers of 'Is that really Olive and Mabel?' – not to mention the occasional Hollywood approach – the three of them pad around literary festivals, breakfast TV, live radio and even an appearance on Good Morning America. Slightly bemused by their fame, Andrew not only pitches up in the iconic Mastermind chair, but makes a return to sports broadcasting to find that it has become rather strange as well.

But, always, his pair of utterly endearing, endlessly optimistic and eternally hungry canine companions show just how precious our time is. Especially our time spent in the devoted company of dogs. For fans new and old, this witty, insightful account of a year like no other is an unmissable treat.

Dog Days is available on Amazon for £10 (hardcover) or £6.54 (Kindle). It is definitely next on my to-read list.

 

2. Test Your Dog by Rachel Federman

How clever is your canine companion? Are they a Bark Twain or an Aldous Husky, a Winston Furchill or just barking mad?

Keep ahead of the pack with Test Your Dog, the perfect book for dog lovers everywhere showing how to measure your dog's intelligence in a series of easy and fun tests.

Does your dog respond to hand gestures? How about facial signals? Can he perform tricks both inside and outside? Now you can find out just how smart your dog really is by giving them the Dog IQ Test.

With three fun quizzes designed to measure your dog's communication skills, social behaviour, motor skills and memory, you'll finally discover if your dog is really a canine Einstein.

Test Your Dog also comes complete with guidelines on analysing your dog's score, tips for improving your dog's IQ and amusing illustrations throughout.

3. Doggie Language - A Dog Lover's Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend - Lili Chin

If you're relatively new to owning a dog, you might wonder how they communicate. This is a subject that is really close to my heart - honestly, if you don't know about dog language, learn it! It really will revolutionise the way you see your dog. If you can understand when he is a bit worried, by noticing some of the more subtle signals, then you can really help to make his life a bit easier and gain immense trust in the process.

Misreading doggie body language makes life challenging for dogs and their humans. This small but mighty book is your perfect illustrated guide to seeing and understanding the subtle visual cues and interpreting the behaviours used by your beloved pup to express how they’re feeling. The more we notice and listen to what our dogs are trying to tell us, the more we can improve our relationship with our best friends, helping them to feel safe and happy.

  • Original illustrations help you compare similar facial expressions, body language and gestures
  • Interpret your dog's cues and learn how your dog uses his ears, eyes, mouth, tail and posture to communicate with you
  • Spot the signals your dog is trying to give you to tell you they're stressed or conflicted

That's my top three! Have you got any great dog-related books that you can recommend?

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Cold Weather Walkies

Cold Weather Walkies

Temperatures are dropping at the moment and with sub-zero temperatures overnight, those morning walks are going to be chilly!  Most dogs don't mind walking in the cold (with the exception of certain sighthounds, such as Sox, our elderly lurcher, who would much rather stay on the sofa in front of the fire, thank you very much!). But it's worth bearing in mind that dogs do feel the cold, so here are a few tips to help keep them toasty and safe:

1. Invest in a warm coat or fleece. There are plenty of options out there and your choice should partly be guided by your dog. If for example you have a spaniel or cockapoo, who is quite low to the ground and quite fluffy, snow can be a real problem as it tends to stick to their coats:

spaniel in the snow

Left unguarded you might soon find that your dog is almost immobilised once the snow starts to build up, and although it's quite a funny sight, it's not much fun for your dog. Our own little Bella had a fantastic Equafleece with full leg coverage. It wasn't cheap, but it was absolutely brilliant at stopping her feathering from becoming clogged up with snow as well as keeping her nice and warm. It was also bright orange making her very easy to spot if she decided to make a break for it!

If you have a taller dog with less fur, then there are some lovely, snug, windproof and waterproof coats such as this Ireenuo one:

large dog coat

 

2. Keep an eye on puppies and older dogs in the cold. Puppies especially can get very excited in frost and snow but will quickly get cold, so only let them play for very short spurts and be prepared to pick them up and cuddle them to warm them up if necessary. You may be better off, space allowing, having frequent, short play sessions in your garden in the snow so that you can quickly bring them indoors to warm up, rather than setting off for a longer walk where you're not near a warm spot for them (don't forget your car will be cold when you return to it as well). Older dogs are usually quite good at letting you know that they've had enough but it is better to err on the side of caution and keep walks short, as their circulation is likely to be less efficient and they also won't be running around keeping warm like the youngsters.

3. Use paw wax such as Musher's Secret to help protect their paws from becoming cracked and sore during very cold weather. If the roads and/or pavements have been gritted, then your dog will be putting her naked little pads onto salt as well as very cold ground, so protecting her pads with a wax balm can help to make them more comfortable.

paw wax

4. Also be aware that products such as anti-freeze and rock salt can be poisonous to pets, so be sure to wash or wipe your dog's feet when you come back from your walk so that she doesn't lick any off.

5. Keep your dog away from frozen ponds and lakes - they can get into serious trouble if the ice breaks and they can't get out (and you can get into serious danger trying to rescue them, too!).

6. Don't leave your dog in a parked car on really cold days. The car will very quickly cool down once the heating is off, and if you're on the way back from a walk with a damp or wet dog, she will quickly get very, very cold. If you do need to run an errand, you're better off either dropping your dog at home in the warm, or taking her with you if you're able to.

7. Don't forget your camera! You can get some fantastic photos of your dog having fun in the snow or rolling in the frost!

Finally, you may have noticed that your dog gets extra excited on frosty mornings - scent molecules clump together in the cold which makes all those smells much stronger and even more exciting - fun fact!

If you have any tips for cold weather walking, do please share in the comments :-)

 

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Revealed: The top ten boy and girl dog names 2021!

Revealed: The top ten boy and girl dog names 2021!

Chow Bella has compiled a list of the top ten boy and girl dog names for this year. Taken from nearly 1500 orders for handmade, personalised dog bowls this is THE list to watch. Can you spot your dog's name?

The top ten boys’ dog names are:

 1. Milo

2. Barney

3. Bailey

4. Bertie

5. Buddy

6. Alfie

7. Archie

8. Oscar

9. Reggie

10. Teddy/Ted

For female dogs, the names are:

1. Luna

2. Bella

3. Willow

4. Mabel

5. Millie

6. Rosie

7. Ruby

8. Poppy

9. Tilly

10. Lilly/Lily

 

As we approach October Chow Bella is expecting another bumper crop of Christmas orders so don't forget to order your bowl by 31st October!

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Finalists in the Pet Industry Federation Awards!

Finalists in the Pet Industry Federation Awards!

I am thrilled to announce that Chow Bella has been nominated as one of five finalists in the Pet Industry Federation Awards for Manufacturer of the Year 2021!

The PIF Awards are the premier awards for the UK's pet industry. Celebrating success across a wide range of products, services, companies and individuals, the awards provide the perfect platform to recognise excellence and innovation in the industry. 

This year there were a record number of entrants so to have been selected as a finalist is a great achievement in itself. The panel looked at our commercial success, customer service and business innovations and we are hugely proud to have been selected.

The winners will be announced on 21st October at a glittering black-tie dinner which I am very much looking forward to as I don't get out of the studio very often!

 

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National Adopt a Cat Month

National Adopt a Cat Month

Battersea cat

June is National Adopt a Shelter Cat month. I'm a big fan of this as both my cats were rescued. One from a work colleague, and Taj, shown here, who came from Battersea Dogs and Cats home when he was 6 months old. 

I was immediately drawn to this sleek, gorgeous little boy, then named Foggy. He was renamed Taj after the very cool blues singer, Taj Mahal, because, well, he was a very cool cat. He was half Burmese, and would chat away endlessly. He'd sleep with his paw curled around my thumb (so sweet!).

When Bella arrived on the scene, about 2 years later, Taj found her a bit much, all that bouncing and full body wagging and shouting. Always a very calm character, Taj never ever swiped at her. Instead he'd just raise one paw as if to say, "Look, enough!". Bella was so desperate to be buddies with him, and must have watched his body language closely, because one morning, she jumped on the bed as usual, and Taj raised his paw. Well Bella had obviously decided this was some kind of greeting, and so she mirrored him and raised her paw as well - the pair of them sat there as if waving at each other across the street - I couldn't believe it!

Taj would spend many hours in my studio, where his favourite place to sit was, as shown, on the workbench next to my wheel, on top of all the letter stamps. Being a cat, he liked to knock the stamps onto the floor, which wasn't the most helpful thing in the world but that's cats for you!

The first ever cat bowl that I made was for Taj, in green and ivory with his name and even some Swarovski crystals on it just for poshness :-)

Adopting a cat can be so rewarding and a good rescue centre will make sure they match you with a suitable cat for where you live. Why not think about it? 

https://www.battersea.org.uk/cats/cat-rehoming-gallery

https://www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

 

 

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Reducing our carbon footprint

Reducing our carbon footprint

I have always strived to make Chow Bella as harmless to the environment as possible. Since 2019 we have been using fully biodegradable packaging, and the electricity that fires the kilns is from 100% renewable sources. I recycle the plastic bottles that my glaze colours come in, and my large glaze buckets are turned into grow buckets for my Kratky hydroponic tomatoes in the greenhouse!

However there is always more that can be done. So I am very pleased to have partnered up with Ecologi.com, who are tackling the climate crisis by planting trees and supporting projects and reduce carbon emissions. 

Every month, I will be making a donation to ecologi.com to plant 88 trees (including a portion specifically for the UK). On top of that, for the first 100 orders placed each month, 1 tree will be planted (so 100 orders = 100 trees).

What I love about ecologi.com is that they are very transparent in their goals and in what happens with funding. You can download reports of the trees that have been purchased and they have up to date reports on all of the projects that are being supported, from peatland restoration in Indonesia to fuel efficient cookstoves in Honduras. They are also supporting reforestation with UK landowners - something I am particularly passionate about, living in an area where swathes of woodland has been decimated recently to make way for new housing.

You can find out more about ecologi.com and view Chow Bella's ecologi profile here.

 

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Mother's Day ideas

Mother's Day ideas

Sunday 21st March is Mothering Sunday in the UK, and if you're a family where your dogs ARE your kids, then you'll probably be looking for a gift for the best dog mum in your life. We've had a look and picked our top 5 ideas for you:

Up first, this stylish Dog Mum T-shirt from Hugoandme.co.uk - £18.00

 

Have a dog bed hog? We love these pillowcases! £30 from Not On The High Street.

 

Personalised keyrings from The Little Picture Company from £5.95

 

Gorgeous cards from Heather Alstead Design at £3.45

 

Of course at Chow Bella we will also have our highly popular Best Dog Mum mugs priced at £12.99 including UK delivery - these will be on sale from the end of February.

And if you're looking for other gorgeous gifts that aren't necessarily dog related but are definitely perfect for Mother's Day, check out modernguy.co.uk who has compiled a list of his top 34 small businesses to support this Mother's Day, with some absolutely fantastic ideas! 

 

 

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Chow Bella is 15 years old!

Chow Bella is 15 years old!

It seems impossible to believe, but it's a whole 15 years since Chow Bella was born. The business started almost by accident, when I made the very first spaniel bowl for my little blue roan cocker, Bella, waaaaay back in 2006.
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Revealed: The Top Ten Dog Names 2020

Revealed: The Top Ten Dog Names 2020

Has your dog's name made the grade?
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Chow Bella's Covid-19 NHS appeal

Chow Bella's Covid-19 NHS appeal

There is now an option for you to request Chow Bella to donate £1 of your order to the NHS Covid-19 charity appeal. In the first two days Chow Bella has raised £15, keep it coming!
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Coronavirus and Chow Bella

Chow Bella will be operating as usual, unless I become ill, which may mean that your order will be late - if this is going to be the case I will do my best to update you.
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Mother's Day Gifts - coming soon!

Mother's Day Gifts - coming soon!

New in next week will be these gorgeous "World's Best Dog Mum" mugs. The mugs are beautiful bone china and are also dishwasher proof...
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