Saturday, 14 January 2017

2016 Recap

What a strange, eventful year. I feel like 2016 was the year that everyone complained about, and was happy to see the back of. I didn't have the best year, but it certainly wasn't the worst year of my life.
As of the 31st of December 2015, I broke up with my long term boyfriend that I lived with, and on top of that my mother moved to Whanganui, a three hour drive from Wellington. So heading into 2016, I was under completely new circumstances. Thankfully both my older siblings were in New Zealand at that stage so we packed up the car and travelled a bit around the North Island. I got to make some amazing memories up in Rotorua where my dad lives, and then spent several weeks exploring Whanganui with mum.

In February I got a new flat in Wellington, so for the first time in my life, I moved into a house with a stranger and started to patch back together my life. This was a huge learning curve, and I am so grateful for this time. Having only lived in the outer cities of Wellington, I had never truly got to live the 'Wellington' life so it was wicked to be able to do that. Diego and I explored so many new walks, and had many adventures over this time.
During this time we also met Richie McPaw and his lovely owner at an organised dog walk, and quickly became friends. Both Diego and Richie get on so well, and I always love when we get to meet up with him for a walk.

Unfortunately it didn't work out in Wellington for us, so once again I packed up Diego, and all my stuff and moved up to Whanganui. This was an experience, that's for sure. Diego became great friends with Chico, and we started to see Chico slowly come out of his shell and show more personality. We adventured around so many walks in Whanganui, and I really came to love the beauty of the city and its surrounding areas. 

We hit June off with a challenge of walking 150 kilometres within the month, this being a challenge as the weather had started to show its Winter colours. We conquered that challenge, only just, and I found lots of new areas to explore as Diego and I hit the pavement. June is also Diego's birthday month, so along with a cake and gifts we took a weekend trip to Wellington and met up with some doggy friends. I even had my first rabbit photoshoot, where I met the lovely Piper. 

In July, I moved back to Upper Hutt (a city north of Wellington) as I couldn't find a decent job in Whanganui and had finally run out of funds. I managed to score a job in Upper Hutt at a place where I had previously worked, and they hired me within the week. This meant it was a quick change, so I moved in with my Aunty for a week... surprise, that week turned into four months. Diego wasn't allowed to live with me there, so my wonderful mother kept him on for that time and I visited every weekend. July also saw the craze over the large colourful caterpillars from the Warehouse for Greyhounds, and Chico could not miss out on that! 

One of my school friends got his first puppy, a beautiful red husky boy named Mowgli! I learnt early on that I was lucky with Diego's ability to pose for a photoshoot, because it was hard to get Mowgli to sit still. 

Speaking of sitting still, Chico learnt some new tricks towards the end of the year after going to dog obedience classes! He is very proud of his ability to sit, and will do it immediately when treats come out. 

 October came around, and I started the month with a bang with this guinea pig photoshoot. However, that is as exciting as Halloween got for us this year. I ran out of time, and ideas, and was super hectic that from here the blog posts lessened as well.

November brought terrible times, with Chico destroying himself trying to chase a rabbit. With all four bandages he was quite the sight! He ripped the skin, and some flesh from all four feet's pads and broke a toe. That toe had to have three surgeries to successfully amputate. Thankfully, that third surgery was a charm and it has now healed perfectly. This gave me the opportunity to learn how to make Russian Fudge as I tried to fundraise for all the vet bills. Over the next two months I managed to raise $700 profit to go towards his vet bills from selling fudge and dog biscuits.

At the end of November, I also managed to score Diego and I a house of our own (rent not owned). I moved in first, got settled and then moved Diego in a few weeks after. It is so amazing to end the year back together with Diego, and be able to set up our lives properly. December didn't hold up too much excitement, just a lot of getting settled and planning ahead for a new year. At the very end of December my friend got another puppy, this time a little Shiba Inu girl named Frankie. So of course I had to go round there with my camera for photoshoots (Which I will upload in a blog post shortly). 

As you can tell, this past year has been incredibly unsettled, a lot of moving and changes but I am so happy to say that going into this new year I have managed to start a routine. I have learnt that Diego thrives on routine so I want to make sure there are minimal changes this year as we work over some issues he has gained over the past year. I also have lots of exciting projects through DaisyPets coming up that is going to keep me very busy. I slacked quite a bit on the blog towards the end of last year so I want to make sure the blog becomes a priority again. Thanks for sticking with us for another year, and hope 2017 is amazing for you all <3

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017 Pet Blogger Challenge

I can't believe another year has been and gone already. I know everyone has been saying this, but this year has literally whizzed by, I felt like I didn't get to settle into 2016 as much as I thought I would. A lot has changed throughout 2016 for me, which will all be shared in a 2016 recap post, but for now I will be doing the annual Pet Blogger Challenge. I have done this for the past two years, and it is a great way to recap on how the blog has gone over the last year, and get some fresh inspiration from other bloggers for the New Year. If you want, go have a read of my 2016, and 2015 challenges as well to see how DaisyPets has grown.

When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for the first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience?
I started DaisyPets in March of 2014 as a way to express my love of animals, through a creative means while I was working in a very bland, corporate job. DaisyPets is a mixture of reviews for everything pet related, to stories about our own experiences through owning pets. In 2017 I hope to make it a lot more review based, with our social media sharing more of our personal lives.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016?
A huge highlight of 2016 was being hired as a freelance writer for an up and coming pet magazine in New Zealand, Pet Life. This was a role that was offered to me after Amy, the magazine owner, came across my blog and loved my work. The first issue has just come out and I am super excited for this to continue into 2017.

Which of your blog posts was your favourite this year and why?
My favourite would have to be the Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treat Recipe I posted. This has turned out to be one of our most favourite recipes, and I am now frequently whipping up batches of them. I even sold some of these as part of my fundraiser for Chico's vet bills. The post itself also contains a video I made for the recipe, which was a lot of fun to shoot.
You can find that post here.

Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog?
This past year, I started discussing my blog to people I met a lot more frequently. I used to be shy, and a bit embarrassed that I was writing a blog about my dog, but this past year I have embraced this as something I really love doing and have started sharing it with people I know and meet. I have been giving out more business cards to people who I meet when out with Diego, or people that I have had discussions with. I find this is a great way to get real people following your blog, and also to get a close community with some locals. I am not sure of the actual conversion on how many readers I get from this, but I think it is a great way to get the DaisyPets name out there.

Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts?
Funnily enough, my most popular post of 2016 was my 2016 Pet Blogger Challenge. This one had a lot of views coming in from other bloggers, and it was an awesome way to see the community get together.
Following that, my next popular was my review on the Planet Dog Diamond Plate Ball. This was part of our Tough Dog Toy Hunt series where I review toys in hopes of finding toys that are tough enough to stand up to Diego's crazy chewing. I am happy that this post was so well received as the Plate Ball is by far one of Diego's favourite toys, and it has lasted amazingly well considering he plays with it daily.
Themes across my popular posts are they are generally reviews of products that get more views, and I think this will be from other searches where people are looking for more information on a product before they buy it.

What blog do you find the most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog?
I have actually been terrible this year, and not supported the blogging community as much as I should have been! I haven't kept up to date with any blogs, and I feel terrible about it. I do have a couple of amazing Instagram accounts that I follow though, that keep me inspired to produce amazing photographs and go on wicked adventures.

What is one thing your readers don't know about you or your pets that would surprise them?
I love this question, and gosh I have had to think it over for a while to come up with a decent answer. People may be surprised that Diego sleeps in my bed, under the covers and in the early hours of the morning will crawl his way up and sleep with his head on a pillow with the rest of his body under the covers.

What is something you've learned this year that could help other bloggers?
Don't give up. 2016 has been one of the hardest, but most inspiring and life changing years of my life, and through it all I remained positive in my passion for continuing this blog. I did slow down towards the end of the year, which could have put a stop to the whole thing, but instead I treated it as a break I truly needed. This has all paid off in the long run as more opportunities are coming up for DaisyPets and I through the hard work and dedication.

What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017?
I would love to continue the growth that I started in the first half of 2016, and continue building an amazing community. I want to start getting involved in more projects with other bloggers, companies and brands and develop some amazing content on a range of platforms and mediums.

Now it's your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community - is there a question you'd like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you'd like input on?
This is isn't technically blog related, but it is a current question that I have been wanting opinions on. I have recently moved into my own house, and now have Diego back in my care, but after such a crazy year in 2016 Diego seems to gained a lot of fear. He is super nervous around bigger dogs,  and will nip and growl at them which does start fights. This is worse when I am walking him compared to if a family member walks him. He also gets super worked up if I leave him alone, and will pine for me until I get home. I know this will all be problems occurring from me leaving him with my mother last year, and he has gained some separation anxiety, but what would be some steps to get this sorted out for the future? How would you suggest I work on these issues?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Amazing Martingale Collars

Hey! If you have followed us for a while, you would know that I absolutely love Bow Wow Boutique products, both their collars and the ID tags that they import in. They offer an amazing range of different patterns on their collars and leashes, and everything is of such a high quality. I didn't really know how good quality they were until I compared a collar I purchased from Bow Wow Boutique when mum first adopted to Chico, to the one my mum bought from another brand at the same time.

Both collars are of a similar Martingale design, with a thicker fabric backing with a colourful and more appealing ribbon on the outside. On Martingales there are no buckles, but all hardware is metal. Funnily enough, I purchased the Bow Wow Boutique collar as a surprise, and we both chose quite similar collars in blue shades without consulting each other.

Originally, Chico wore the other brands collar full time until he got it dirty at a beach on one walk and we changed him over to the BWB collar. For the next few months we changed over the collars every so often so they both got worn, and when one was dirty, the other would be worn. These collars were worn constantly by Chico, including on trips to the beach, park and lake.

Both collars were bought when Chico was first adopted in October of last year, and as of roughly February the other brands collar started to show signs of wear, tear and rust. The hardware was originally a 'vintage' colour, but it quickly turned rusty looking. Mum then started to use the BWB collar on Chico more, and once his council tag was placed on that one, the other brands collar got lost in the pile of dog stuff I collect.

I found the collar recently and was shocked in how poor it looked. The hardware was definitely rusted through, and had stained the ribbon of the collar so it's not even fixable with new hardware. Let me mention, that this collar hasn't been used since February, but was kept in plastic container with the rest of my animal stuff so was not exposed to the elements. It did go on a few trips to the beach while worn by Chico, but in comparison so has the BWB collar.

Bow Wow Boutiques collar has been worn almost constantly all year, and everything is still in pristine condition. Of course, the ribbon has some wear to it, but this is completely expected and to be honest, and with the crazy activities that Chico gets up to, I am surprised how great it looks. The colour on the ribbon is still vibrant, and there are no signs of rust on any of the hardware. The stitching is also in fantastic condition and there isn't any loose pieces.

All in all, I always have been a huge fan of Bow Wow Boutique, but since comparing these I am even more impressed with them. I 100% recommend these to anyone who is on the market for a fashionable, quirky collar that is going to stand the test of a dogs wear and tear. Alex, the owner, is such a lovely woman to communicate with, and super helpful to make sure you get exactly what you want. She is also dedicated to her brand and the products she is making, and you can truly see it in the quality of her products. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

October Craziness

What a crazy last week I have had! October has not only flown by, it also has been so jammed packed with events and activities that I couldn't even fully get into the Halloween spirit. I apologise that I never got around to posting any Halloween themed posts but I can happily say that regular posts will pick back up shortly (big things are looming).

This past weekend I helped my mother shift house, which is a terrible task within itself, add to that she has two children (not including me), two dogs, two guinea pigs, a bird, three chickens and three cats to move, you can imagine how hectic that weekend was! This new house is adorable, and reminds me so much of a cottage. As I am writing this it already feels like home, in the way that my mother can only seem to make a house, and all the animals and children are happily settled in. She has a massive yard here, which Chico runs around at full speed whenever he gets super excited, and has enough room for a great game of fetch with Diego.

I stayed up here for a few days longer to help mum get settled in and sort out all the boxes. It felt like we were constantly busy, and its crazy how many errands need to be done when shifting house. This meant that the dog walks were pushed out to the end of the day and we ended up going around the corner from mums house to a large field every day. Diego and Chico are both happy with this walk, especially when you take a ball for Diego, but we were really craving the beach! All the times we went I also didn't bring my camera which means I have been lacking in new photos of the dogs recently.

On Wednesday, Diego and I took a road trip back down to Wellington in time for the HUHA Charity day on Thursday. It was great to have my road trip buddy back again, although most of the way down the weather was less than desirable. We took a stop off at the Levin Dog Park where Diego found a stick for us to play fetch with (sense a theme with him yet?) and we had a bit of a break in the rain. I have been staying at my aunties house in Wellington while I find a place to live, and my aunty owns Diego's real brother, Jagger. We stayed with them for the two nights we were in Wellington and Diego got to play with his brother again. It was awesome to see them playing together again, and going crazy around the yard after over a year of being separated. They look so similar, but so different at the same time and it's cool to see them next to each other to compare these. Once again, camera was somewhere else so no photos were taken! I now wish I got some of them together for you to see the resemblance.

Thursday was the Wellington Collection Day for HUHA so Diego and I were up bright and early to get into town by 8am. We were stationed at New World Thorndon which is where we have been the last two years of collecting as well. The first shift went well, and was only an hour and a half, although Diego did start to get a bit tired of it after a little while. During the break we went for a dog walk up in Karori, where the sun started to shine for us. We weren't needed back at New World until 1pm so I made the most of it and read my book on a bench while Diego ran around the park. For the last shift you could tell Diego was super tired and just wanted to sleep, but we trucked through it to collect a lot of money for the well deserving HUHA.

Thursday night we went and viewed a potential home in Upper Hutt and Diego met their dog. Although that meeting didn't go as well as planned, the house was super cute and would be perfect for Diego and I. It just means I have to find somewhere for Diego to go during the day while I am at work as he isn't good with being left alone for long periods of time without another dog. This does mean though, that in the near future, Diego and I will be back together in Wellington. You have no idea how excited I am for this possibility. If anyone has any ideas on what to do with Diego while I am at work, definitely get in contact with me!

Before we left for Whanganui on Friday morning we met up with Mowgli, and my friend for an early morning dog walk. It was Diego's and Mowgli's first time meeting each other and it went quite well, although Mowgli has a bit too much puppy energy for Diego's liking. We spent an hour and a half walking through the park with the dogs chasing sticks and balls, and us humans discussing all things dogs and puppies. Mowgli has gotten so big now and made Diego look like a tiny dog! It's going to be awesome having some adventures with Mowgli and Diego over the coming Summer months!

Now Diego and I are back in Whanganui, and Diego is snoring on the couch with his favourite Diamond Plate Ball pressed up to him in case someone might want to have a game of fetch. I still have the Wellington Pet Expo to attend on Sunday and then it is back to the grind of work for another week. So much has happened, and so much will be happening over the next few weeks so make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with our adventures.

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Book Review: Show Dog by Josh Dean

Hey, I haven't read a dog related book for a couple months now (I was getting into Stephen King) and am quite happy that I took that break so I could really appreciate this book. Show Dog follows the highs and lows of one Australian Shepherd's showing career over the span of a couple of years. This book delves deep into the American dog showing circuit, and as the writer Josh Dean is not a dog owner, or shower, it explains everything so that the most inexperienced person would understand. It gives you a rare look into the lives of people who base their whole existence around dog showing and breeding.

Josh Dean was on the lookout for a single dog to be the star of his book, and wanted to make sure he found the perfect dog that would show the many ups and downs of dog showing. In the end, he chose Jack, an Australian Shepherd owned by single mother, and until Jack, not a dog show attendee, Kimberley. He follows Jacks story, from the start of his showing days, until he semi-retires in 2011 and includes stories from all the people in Jacks life. Surprisingly, there is quite a team behind any good show dog, and this story features Jack's breeder, his handler, his owner, and a handful of other people that help bring out the best in him.

I found that the way Josh Dean's wrote was very captivating and kept my attention, this was definitely a book I had trouble putting down. I loved how he explained everything in detail, and added a variety of facts and history into the pages of this book. I learnt heaps on the history of the American Kennel Club, as well as the origins of the Australian Shepherd, which spoiler alert, does not come from Australia. This book was super insightful, but also humorously written, with little added jokes thrown amongst the stories. He explained everything in a clear manner, and didn't make any of the people in this book sound overly crazy (Which is easy to do with us animal lovers).

Before this book, I had been to one confirmation dog show, and didn't really understand why people felt the need to pursue this sport. Especially when there is a lot more active, and in my opinion more fun sports you can do with your dog. But after reading this book, I have felt the compelling need to attend a dog show, and to over-analyse every dog that is entered. This book has really made me understand how people can so easily love this activity, and made me want to get included in it. Although, frankly, I would never do dog showing myself. More of a spectator sport for me.

This book is definitely a great read, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I love the feeling of reading a book that not only tells a great story, but gives you knowledge on the chosen topic and this book was just that. I feel like I can now spit out a bunch of dog showing facts and figures and pretend I know what I am talking about when a dog gets awarded 'Best of Opposite'. I don't think you have to be on the dog showing scene to enjoy this, you can be just an average Joe and really gain a lot from this book. I do think that dog showers and breeders would also appreciate this book though.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Goodbye Daisy, three years on

Grief is a strange feeling, and one that is not easily explained to the outsider. I don't think it matters who, or what has left from your life, the experience of grief is different to each person experiencing it. The loss of a dog leaves a big hole in your life and people who have not had the love of a dog may not understand why you are mourning for so long or so deep. It is even harder to explain that after three years, and having a new dog, that I still feel down around this time of year.

Daisy was my first dog that I truly owned, and wasn't just the family mutt. She was there through a lot of my growth years from 10 - 19 years old, where my life appeared to always be in utter turmoil. Looking back now, it most definitely wasn't, but young minds always believe that everything is a big deal. She was the one constant in my life as my parents split up, I went to intermediate, then college, had my first boyfriend, lost my first boyfriend, moved house plenty of times, left school, became an adult doing full time work. Throughout these times she was always there when I got home, and seemed to know what mood I was in. She would cuddle me when I was upset, or grab a toy and go crazy when I was in a better mood.

In Daisy's last month, she went down hill quite drastically. She went from her usual crazy boisterous self to a depleted soul. She lay around the house a lot, and didn't do any running or barking which was strange for her. In my mind I knew that her time was near, but I didn't want to believe it as I had always been told we would be 'stuck' with her til she was at least 15. Her disappearing at nine seemed cruel and completely wrong. I was lucky enough to be on temporary work at the time, meaning that I was only working one or two days a week and spending the rest of the time with Daisy. We went on a lot of road trips together, more so than usual, and shared many a McDonalds Ice Creams. It was nice to be able to spend that last month enjoying each others company and celebrating the amazing life we shared together. The weekend before she passed we even took a road trip across the country to pick up my sisters from our dads and she seemed to get a new lease on life. We stopped off at a fenced dog park where she ran around, and even completed the agility equipment. I believe this was her final farewell to us as the next day was her last day with us.

The worst part is, that even though I had a month of acceptance, I never got to say good bye to her. She went into a seizure that she never really came out of, and I had to make the tough decision to put her down. I never got that final goodbye and that effected me for a long time after her death. I wish I had that last connection with her before she left this world, but I think that if that had happened it would have been harder to let her go. Least now I know that she is in a happier, more pain-free place.

Three years on, I still think about Daisy a lot. She taught me a lot during her nine years of life and it still effects what I do to this day. The things I learnt from Daisy have changed what I have done with Diego, including socialising him early and making sure he had a solid recall, both of which Daisy did not do. She is the reason this blog exists, and helps me push through some of my writers block moments knowing that these posts could be helping at least one person out there. I think that you can never replace a dog, which seems to not be the general publics opinion, and that there will always be a soft place in your heart for all the canines you own over the years.

It's hard to explain the feeling that they are just going to one day come back. I have never lost a family member or close friend, which I am insanely grateful for. For a year or so after Daisy's death I still imagined that she was just away from me and would come back soon. Then it would dawn on me that she was never to return and it hurt a lot. That feeling hasn't really left, it has just dulled. I don't think about it as often and when I do, the realisation hits me sooner. Diego has helped me deal with the pain, but has definitely not replaced her.

If you have lost a dog, don't worry if people think you are crazy for mourning their loss. They are a huge part of your life for the time they are with you, and each has a different personality that infects your life. Dogs are mans best friend, and therefore you are allowed to feel sad at their passing.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Out of the Conventional: Tailor Skincare Oil Cleanse

I can't say I am a regular full face make up wearer, I am more of the 'I need to put on mascara and eyebrows just to be presentable' group of people. However, because I do wear this on a daily basis, I do want a product that will remove my makeup effectively, without too much wear and tear on my eyes. I also want something that is not harming the animals in any way, and reducing its risk to the environment as much as possible. Add to that I also have extremely sensitive skin that will rash at the drop of a hat, and I really have trouble finding a decent product. So when that product comes into my life I must share it with everyone I know. That product is 'Oil Cleanse' from Tailor Skincare!

Tailor Skincare is a Wellington based grassroots company that is dedicated to making natural skincare that isn't harming to the environment or animals in its manufacturing process. The Founder Sara Quilter was working in California, USA when she learnt about what products were currently going into the skincare products she was using, and from there decided that she didn't want to be putting all these harmful chemicals onto her face and body. Once back in New Zealand, she started making her products, one by one, and experimenting with different ingredients and mixtures until the perfect result was found. Now, Tailor Skincare has eight different products, for all different skin types, which can be used in conjunction with each other to give a great skincare regime. All Tailor Skincare products are not tested on animals, and are made from vegan ingredients with the exception of locally sourced bees wax. Their packaging is recyclable or reusable, and all their shipping packaging is either recycled packaging or boxes.

The Oil Cleanse is, as the name suggests, an oil based cleanser containing hazelnut oil and organic coconut oil. This can be used as a full-face makeup remover, including eyes, or as a general cleanse when your skin is feeling dirty, or overly greasy. It is quick and easy to apply, just massage some oil into dry skin and after 30 seconds, remove with a damp cloth. I use this product stand alone for just my eye make up removal, but if you are cleansing your full face, it is good to follow up the Oil Cleanse with the Dry Cleanse product that Tailor Skincare also produces. A great thing to mention is that on Tailor Skincare's website you can see a full list of ingredients for all their products showing that they are 100% natural, and with ingredients that you will know and understand.

I originally found this company at the GoGreen Expo in Wellington at the end of last year, where I picked up a sample of their Face Masque. I loved that product so much that I purchased their Mini Pack which contains five of their products in miniature form. I didn't really use them at all after I purchased them, until recently when I ran out of my usual cleanser and I dug into my stash for something to use. Since then, I have not gone back and am addicted to the Oil Cleanse especially.

I use waterproof mascara and I find that the oil cleanse is by far the best product that I have come across to take this off. Following the instructions of massaging the product in for 30 seconds, and then wiping clean, I am left with no makeup no matter how much I am wearing. Other products take off most of the mascara, but will leave a tiny amount that overnight will give me panda eyes. Also, it doesn't hurt or sting my eyes as a lot of makeup removers can do. My eyelids are especially prone to being dry, irritated and rashing but I have not had any of these problems since using the Oil Cleanse.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic product, that has great morals and ethics behind it, and still does the job it was created to do. I haven't found any other product on the market currently that is any where close to how effective but gentle that this one is on removing makeup from the eye area. I love the idea I am also supporting a small, local company when using this product, and helping someone who has an absolute passion for what she makes. I would definitely recommend that you give this a go if you are after a great cleanser and are keen on environmentally friendly, and natural products. You can purchase Tailor Skincare online from their website, or check out their Stockists to see if there is a store near you.