Every year we head out to a pumpkin patch and take photos! Here are a few of the Dog Moms that came out to join us this year! If you’re in Houston, Texas, DM me on Instagram for the deets. Our next social is in the works for December. 🐶
This Saturday, May 12, 2018 is the first official Dog Moms Day!
And we can’t be more excited! No more piggy backing off Mother’s Day. We have our own day. Thanks to Dig Dates for pushing that initiative.
Though the years with Akasha, we’ve met the most beautiful Dog Moms and their pups. And we have way more love and friendship in our lives because of that. If I have my camera with me I live to capture these moments. The love between us and our dogs is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Akasha has taught me not to be so isolated. I’m an introvert and love to chill by myself and hang with my pup. But human connection is like important lol, so she helped me meet friends IRL, she taught me how to let love in. When I look into her eyes, my heart melts.
That’s why I’m so passionate about treating dogs with the compassion and respect they deserve. We need more love in this world, and dogs are our gateway. The more we express our love with the world, the more others will get it, and think twice when it comes to letting a dog fully into their life, on their sofa, and into their family.
Cheers to dogs, friends, love, connection, and that Dog Mom life!
And with that, I want to share a few of my favorite photos with you and celebrate this bond and our brand new day.
Happy Dog Moms Day!
Instagram Dog Moms: @uptown_diego, @hudsontxnyshorkie, @kimcheethemaltipoo, @shannonkatecypress, @stewie._.boo, @theofficialbarkley, @sageylilbear, @bommaritobabies, @dexterdoggy_
Notes and Photos from the April Social. Thanks to Iman of Lola & Baxter for being our guest expert! We had a great time!
The first three photos in the slide show are by Houston photographer, byryanb.com.
Watch Pet Fooled. It’s a short hour long documentary on Netflix that will give you a ton of info about making better choices for your pup when it comes to what you are feeding them
Add real food to your current pet food to make it instantly healthier. You can add a raw egg to the food, steamed veggies, fish oil, fruits like blueberries, cranberries, and apples. Carrots help their eyes, and green veggies instantly gives their meal an upgrade.
Is your pet food from the USA or Canada? Canadian pet food standards are way higher than the USA. If you want to know more about the food you are feeding, check online. I use dogfoodadvisor.com and petsumerreport.com. You can sign up to get pet food recall alerts on Dog Food Advisor. I get them and unfortunately I get them way too often. It’s good to stay on top of these things.
Find out what is the main protein source in your pet food. What is the difference between Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chicken by-product? Stay away from anything that has by-product after it. And if they don’t name the meat. For example, some say Meat, or Bone Meal. No one knows what that really is. If they knew they would prob tell us. Amiright? You can bet it is low quality.
If it says, Chicken Meal that’s a good sign, it means that it has more condensed protein. It was weighed after it was dehydrated. AND if it just says ‘Chicken’, they are weighing it before its dehydrated and added to dry food. So that is a little misleading. Not to be confused with Fish Meal, which is suspect and poor quality.
Look to see what ingredients are on the package of your pet food. What ingredients should I watch out for? When looking at the label, I look at the first 5 ingredients. This is what the food is mostly made up of. But some of the ingredients that are bad and cause food allergies are wheat, corn gluten meal, canola oil, sugar, soy, there are more but these are the ones that I def stay away from.
Be aware when buying pet food. When they say Natural, Artisan, Holsitic it can sometimes mean the opposite. Brand marketing is confusing. Hallo Marketing! Because the standards are loosy goosy, you really have to be mindful and not just pick up a new food because the packaging looks healthy.
AAFCO standards can be suspect too. They have the basic standards in place. But just because they say it’s balanced, they don’t know what is making up those percentages. What type of protein is in there? Is it real chicken, or is it from corn gluten?
Have you considered home cooking or trying some of the real food companies that deliver? Real food can help keep pets healthier longer and help them heal. Lots of pet foods have chemical and toxic ingredients. 50% of dogs get cancer. If real food helps us hoomans feel better and heal, then it makes sense that it can do the same for our pets.
In my last blog post I talk about what foods Akasha has recently tried and how we deal with her being a picky eater.
This checklist and info is based on my research, Iman of Lola and Baxter, and my opinion. Do your own research too, ok? I follow Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Becker on Facebook. They are excellent advocates.
We are proud to be the first to join Lola & Baxter’s Health Ambassador Program for Pet Info and Education. I’m a HAPPIE Ambassador! Stay tuned for more from Lola & Baxter!
Hello, my name is Akasha, and I’m a picky eater!
Mom goes crazy trying to get me to be motivated to eat. The only thing I eat without a doubt is organic turkey breast, dry-roasted duck treats and Ark Naturals dental treats. Mom tells me I must live to reach at least 20 years old in hooman years. So we take this very seriously.
We have been through so MANY brands. The few listed below are just our most recent ones. We were doing Petcurean Now Fresh Small Breed. According to the PetsumerReport.com and DogFoodAdvisor.com this Petcurean kibble has 4 paws out of 5. Though there are a couple of questionable ingredients. So we have moved away from serving this.
Visit one of those websites I linked to and see how your current food rates. I also signed up to the Dog Food Advisor Recall alerts. It’s the easiest way to stay on top of the latest pet food recalls.
Until mom starts cooking for me (hint hint), we are trying some of the real food and delivered dog food services.
What pet food as a picky eater have I recently tried and how did that go?
All of these foods listed below are Love Akasha Approved. Because the ingredients and nutrients in them are legit. I may be the pickiest eater out there but mom does her research and only chooses the very best for me to try.
THE FARMER’S DOG:
The first one I tried was The Farmer’s Dog turkey recipe. We love the personalization that comes on their packaging. (Akasha’s Turkey Recipe) I did good on it for a while. Then I stopped eating it. So mom sprinkled in some organic turkey breast. That got me motivated again to eat it. So if you are picky like me, we suggest adding in another kind of food to get interest. But just make sure it’s not something that has a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Minimal ingredients. My friend Kimchee has a 50% discount code off your first order for you to try if you’re curious. (Delivery nation-wide.)
Next I tried Grocery Pup’s, Turkey Pawella recipe. We like this one because it has big chunks of turkey and is Texas-based. As it goes I needed a little motivation, so mom sprinkled it with my organic turkey and then I ate it. Why am I so particular? Halp! For some reason that turkey that mom buys at Whole Foods gets me going. Use code GP713 to get 25% off your first month of Grocery Pup. (Delivery in Texas only for now.)
LOLA & BAXTER:
The latest taste test has been with Lola + Baxter. (Delivery only in Houston, Texas for now.) The turkey recipe one I REALLY liked. Mom hand-fed me the first 4 bites to get me going, and then I ate the rest on my own. The good thing is that I didn’t need to sprinkle in any additional organic turkey breast. I’m trying the beef recipe right now (and I actually did request for the organic turkey to be added to this recipe). My next test will be their egg recipe. Stay tuned. We love supporting local so if you’re in Houston, follow their insta and visit them at one of their farmers market appearances.
THE SIMPLE FOOD PROJECT:
The Simple Food Project makes real food for dogs. No soy, wheat or corn which we def approve of. Their ingredients all look legit. You can feed dry or add water. If you like the texture of freeze-dried and dry-roasted, this is for you. Their process seals in all the nutrients and we are still trying different ways of serving it. I’ve eaten some of it with my organic turkey sprinkled on top. (Do you see a pattern?)
If sprinkling in some organic turkey breast gets me to eat then that’s what mom will do for now. As long as the main course is any one of these she is ok with it.
I eat real food pet treats by Herbsmith. The Smiling dog Dry Roasted Duck and the Dry Roasted Turkey treats are my faves. Minimal ingredients. The duck treat has duck and lemon juice. That’s it. The package says “Picky Eater Approved” and I have to say this is 100% correct. So if you’re looking for a healthy dog treat, this one is definitely “Love Akasha Approved”.
If you are a picky eater…tell me what you do. Have you tried any of those toppers? Do those work?
If you are not motivated to eat maybe you need a change, or ask your mom to try adding something that will get you interested. Try adding some veggies! That automatically bumps up the nutrients. I’ve also heard adding chicken or beef broth helps. It’s become an experiment. Mom is grateful that I don’t eat everything because then she would have to watch me even more closely.
And if you haven’t already, watch Pet Fooled on Netflix, mmkay? It will give you some ideas on different foods to try that will benefit their health.
We love our pups, let’s do them a favor and watch this one-hour long documentary that can make their lives even better. People are amazed when they see this. I was too. Plus it took me two years to see it. It came out in 2016.
If you’re in Houston, Texas, this Sunday we are having a social with Iman of Lola & Baxter as our guest speaker. He will be teaching us how to read a pet food label. (So we can get past the marketing part of the packaging where they use words like natural, artisan, and healthy. Even though they are probably not any of those.)
Being able to understand the difference between chicken vs. chicken meal vs. chicken byproduct makes it easier to make better choices. Iman will also share with us easy ways we can upgrade the current food that we are feeding.
The event is listed in the Houston Shih Tzu Lovers Playgroup and the Facebook Event. You can RSVP on either. For those of you not able to attend, I’ll be sharing the highlights with you.
from Akasha’s Mom, MARLA:
Akasha is a big huge gigantic deal for me. So naturally my friends and family would ask me to text them photos. How’s Akasha?! That is the first thing out of their mouth. Texting got old fast. So, I set up an Instagram account for her. And sent them a final text and just said follow @loveakasha! BOOM! Puppy pics all day long yo!
It’s no surprise that right now I have 86GB of photos and video on my phone with 99.9% of that being of Akasha. I have most of the best ones on Instagram. With my background in the digital world I know that whatever I post on Instagram can one day go bye-bye. I mean, I don’t own Instagram, and the platform itself can get sold. Disappear. Anything really. Then what?
Ok already so what’s the one thing you MUST do?
Get the photos off your phone, and Instagram or Facebook, or wherever you upload them. And easily print your favorite photos!
Download the Chatbooks app to your phone.
This is one of the easiest ways to create a photo book. With their Chatbook Series you can put this baby on automatic and know that your photos are printed and off your phone.
I connected my Instagram account to Chatbooks, and they automatically send me a photo book after every 60 photos I post. Plus, I’ve made like a couple of special hardcover books for friends and family. This is the best service ever!
You can also start your own Chatbooks series using Facebook or your Camera Roll. You’re able to rearrange pics, add captions. Each 6×6 softcover book is $10 bucks.
Seriously get your pics off your phone and have fun creating these books!
Get the hook up!
Follow this link and you’ll get your first book FREE! (I get a few bucks credit if you use my referral link.) But I’m more excited for you to try this too! If you’re obsessed with pics like me it’ll be the best treat yo self you can do.
I haven’t looked back. My first Chatbook was printed in 2014, and right now I have 11 volumes. I love Akasha more than life itself. I’m excited to take photos of her and get out and explore the city with my friends and their pups. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
If you’re here reading this, you are my people! And I just want to say thank you love you!
Got Chatbooks? What do ya think?
March is National Sleep Awareness Month
This is the perfect time to share with you a night time ritual to help you and your Shih Tzu get a good nights sleep. I sleep in the bed. And I bet if you’re here reading this you do too. We tend to be fancy like that. It took us a while to get our sleep ritual right, so I hope one of these tips is the answer you were looking for.
Best tip ever, right here, #1…
- Marpac Dohm-DS All-Natural Sound Machine: If you live in an apartment especially, then when hoomans walk by you know how excited we get. Even in a house if you have lots of people walking around. With this kickin’ I don’t feel the urge to bark and wake everyone up. It cancels all that foot traffic out and mom likes me a lot more. On the rare occasion I do bark in the middle of the night, it’s because we forgot to turn it on. Seriously, get it! Life changing.
- Black out curtains FTW! Make sure there is no light peeking through the windows. When it’s totes black I tend to settle down because I can’t see anyways so I’m quiet. (I’ve noticed even on an airplane, mom blacks out my carrier, and I stop barking. Which is so great because people on the plane get mad at us.)
- Diffuse lavender essential oil. We keep a diffuser on the night stand and the lavender helps to get us in sleep mode. It’s also been known to help with anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. So set the tone in your bedroom and breathe it in. I feel like I’m in a spa, it helps to add to the ambiance.
- No digital devices! We don’t have a tv in the bedroom, but there’s still an iPhone and iPad to distract us. Give Instagram a break. Turn off Netflix (although if you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek, you may want to peep it. But not at bedtime. So funny!) There have been times when I’m falling asleep, then check my phone and that wakes me up again and the next thing I know it’s 2am. Don’t do that. And if you must, def read #5.
- Heard of blue light blocking glasses? If you must check your phone and keep your light on for a little while longer, try some blue light blocking glasses. They look funny, but mom notices the difference when she wears them. She gets sleepy really fast even while lights are still on.
- Activity and walks during the day! Make sure us pups get some activity so we are a bit more calm at night. Long walk, or a good indoor play sesh will do.
- Take all the toys out of the bedroom. If you’re anything like me, toys are my jam. Very toy motivated. I’ll squeak all night. And I’m very protective of my toys and growl when anyone gets close to me and my toys. So basically I’ve been grounded for life and toys are no longer allowed in the bed. Wah!
This is me in bed looking all cute and innocent. Do you sleep through the night or do you keep the hoomans up?
Photo credit @eevee.the.ewok
MEET EEVEE, @eevee.the.ewok on Instagram! A cute AF Shih Tzu I met recently on the ‘gram. Pictured above modeling her umbrella leash. Eevee has the best captions so if you’re looking for cute and hilarious, she’s your tzu! Her Insta bio sets the stage: Professional panty stealer and cheese eater.
When my friend Eevee shared that Bella Balu was looking for a few models for their umbrella, she spread the word. Thanks for sharing Eevee and I hope you are having a blast today leaving lots of prezzies for mom! 😉
BIG THANKS to @bellabaluofficial for sending me and my furiends this cute umbrella to review. We’ve been getting lots of rain so this helps make it all better! Mom digs that it’s very light and easy to open. She smiled so much because I looked so cute she couldn’t stand it! ☺💓 I clipped it to my harness and was camera-ready in 2 secs flat.
I’m not a big fan of going potty in the rain so any help I can get I’ll take! Are you like me? Does rainy weather make you want to stay inside?
Want one?! Use the code UMBRLA10 for 10% off. Get this amazy umbrella leash on Amazon! ☔
Side Note: And while you’re at it, mom says to treat yo self to a badass pair of rain boots too! She just did, and they are fab. Brighten up all our days! Now, check out some of my friends umbrelly photos!
MEET CHARLIE, @charlietheshihtzubear on Instagram! A Shih Poo and therapy dog in training. He loves to model and strike a pose so hit a brotha up, he’s ready.
MEET LULU, @lulutheshihtzuu on Instagram! She loves belly rubs and squeaky toys. We were meant to be BFF’s. She loves the color pink so pop on over and leave her some pink heart emojis! 💓💓💓
MEET ALICE, @alice_cooper_in_wonderland on Instagram! My Canadian bestie who loves to play in the snow! She invites you to join her in Wonderland. I do every single day!
And MEEEE, Akasha, @loveakasha on Instagram! Just in case you didn’t know. 😉 I’m the hostess of the Houston Shih Tzu Socials, and an official bow model! Hair Bow Tzuper Model at your service.
Hey heads up, Feb is National Pet Dental Month.
Want lots of kisses? Keep your teeth clean! That’s what I do. I’ll give you the exact products I use. I’m 4 going on 5 years old and my vet says my teeth are excellent. So I must be doing something right.
I don’t think all hoomans understand that if our breath smells then we need a teeth cleaning. Teeth are important to our entire health and wellness. Got it. So don’t skimp or get lazy. 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have periodontal disease. That’s what leads to bad breath, painful inflammation, and can easily cause major life threatening diseases. Don’t take this lightly. There are toys and treats that can help with this too. I choose to use the most natural products.
I try dental toys every now and then. I found this one on iheartdogs.com.
Here are the products I use:
TrueBlue Fast and Fresh Dental Swipes: No lie, these swipes are fast. I keep them in my beauty space and do this during my morning beauty routine.
Ark Naturals Breathless Plaque Zapper Pouch: When I’m feeling like I need a little extra care, this little packet goes in my water. It took a few times for me to be cool with this. I only drink fresh water. If it’s been sitting there all day, I won’t drink it. Fresh water, and I’m all over it. So I can tell when there’s something off about my water. But I’m all good now. I got use to this.
ARK Naturals Breath-Less Chewable Brushless Toothpaste: OBSESSED WITH THESE! I eat like two of these a day. And if I could get my paws on more I would. I can live off these. Doggie crack! Sometimes I get one that has been frozen because they try to slow me down. I eat them fast and then want more.
How do you keep your teeth clean? Tell me because I’m open to adding more to my beauty routine!
Wait! If you’re due for a dental cleaning, keep reading!
When I get my teeth professionally cleaned, you bet your fluffy butt I’ll be getting a non-anesthetic dental cleaning. Yes this is an option! Before I knew about this, the thought of going under for a teeth cleaning would cause major anxiety. But now, I have a plan and it’s to get my teeth cleaned by Healthy Smile Pet Dental. Costs way less! And doesn’t stress my mom out. I thought this was a California thing and was thinking I’d have to fly out there to do it. But then heard about this being available in my city, Houston. Score!
Peace + Love + Shih Tzus
If you like to travel and have a shih tzu, then you probably want to bring them along. They love being with us, and let’s face it….we love and miss them so much when we are gone. I travel for work, so any chance I get I take her with me.
Here are a few tips that have been helpful when traveling with my shih tzu, Akasha:
- Get an awesome travel carrier. We have one with wheels. My shih tzu is 12.5 lbs. (That adds up when walking through an airport.) This one is super easy to roll around. It also converts into a dog backpack carrier, dog car seat, and pet bed. They also have it on Amazon too in case you have Prime.
- Get your shih tzu comfortable with their travel carrier. Leave it out in your home, and make it comfortable. Put one of your shirts in there so your shih tzu can lay in some familiar scents. Give them treats when they are in there, so that they know it’s a safe space. (Akasha is actually in hers right now. We are preparing for our next trip.)
- Test and take afternoon flights. I first flew with Akasha on a short hour flight to test her on a plane. I like to take afternoon flights when I travel with her. That way she’s eaten and gone potty and we don’t have to rush around in the morning.
- Let the airline know and find out what their requirements are. Call the airline and let them know you’ll be traveling with your pup. Southwest is pretty easy. You just let them know and pay the fee. Other airlines have different requirements. And sit by a window or in the middle. Sometimes under the seat in the aisle the carrier may not fit. It’s a smaller space.
- Pack a well stocked puppy bag. Pee pads, treats, water bowl, wipes, and chew toys are on the must-have list. A cozy blanket. When the carrier is on the floor, it is loud and can get really cold down there, so make sure they have something to lay on.
- Potty breaks in the bathroom. If the flight is delayed and your shih tzu needs to potty, lay a pee pad in the bathroom stall. I’ve only had to do this once. But the more I take her with me, the easier it gets!
- Do not feed your shih tzu anything new the day before you travel. The last thing you want to do is test out a new treat that may upset their belly. Keep it on the reg and you’ll be good.
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I’m going to tell you a few fun places to visit with your shih tzu. Creativity is life. We must play. And now we want to bring our shih tzus to more and more places and fully integrate them into our life. Not just leave them at home all day.
I’ve been hosting Shih Tzu Socials since 2015. Anywhere from meeting at the Park, brunches, in gardens, a pumpkin patch, or a members big backyard. And one thing is for sure shih tzus don’t like the heat or dirty dog parks. And the moms don’t either.
(The exception being Levy Park. It has an area for small dogs, and there is no mud. so its a clean dog park.)
Our mission is to find cool things to do that are not the usual dirty dog park and dog-friendly hot patio. We are fancy pups. We like air-conditioning and strollers.
First things first, make sure your phone is fully charged or you have a backup charger. That helps me feel better, knowing that I will be able to share the photos with our shih tzu playgroup members and not run out of juice.
Creative Shih Tzu Playdates:
The Mad Potter Social
Paint pottery with your fluffy BFF and your dog-loving humans. Bring a bottle of vino and play some music. Get their paw print in on the design of your pottery. I think this is an all time fave for me and others in the group. Especially now in Summer. Its hot hot hot. We will be there on July 15. So if you are interested, messaged me on Instagram from @loveakasha‘s account.
If you’re not in Houston, look around your city and see what crafty things there are to do with your shih tzu. Whether it’s painting pottery, canvas, or setting up a fun painting sesh with a few of your friends. If you do this, it may help to ask a friend to help with the onsite logistics.
Graffiti Walls + Brunch Social
We ate brunch at Empire Cafe, and then walked down Westheimer to find all the colorful walls to snap. We left this social feeling inspired and ready for more. The combo of being outside, taking photos, and seeing all this beautiful art filled us up. As soon as the weather cools off a little bit, this one is back on! Stay tuned for a featured outing this fall.
I’m sure your city has walls around that you can visit. Make it a date. Drive around and take pics in front of them and post them on your Instagram. This is really fun with a group. You can help each other get all the kinds of creative shots. Got to love those jump shots.
Get Techy Social
We invited our Instagram friends to our social. They did not have to have shih tzus. It was a fun community and we got people on IG who were not on Instagram yet. The purpose here is to meet new people, reconnect with the regulars, and learn a new skill. We want everyone to share their furbaby with the world. Instagram can help you when it comes to your dogs memories and being able to share that with your extended family and friends. Plus it’s so easy to print them out now.
If you are on Instagram and haven’t already set up a service like Chatbooks to print your pics, nows the time. I have it set up to automattically print my IG photos and put them in a book. Every 60 photos they will print a book. Now they are printed and not stuck in the digital world. I love looking through them and showing them to friends.
Dog Master Trainer Social
In collaboration with Kriser’s and Kirk Cushing, we had a social that focused on training our lil shih tzus. It was such a great turnout, and everyone was able to ask specific Q’s regarding their pup and get some resolution on the spot.
Check your local dog boutiques, they usually have cool stuff going on. Anything from training, to nutritional food workshops, to yappy hours. If you want to do something more unique, call your favorite shop and ask them if they would be interested. More than likely they will say yes. They are always looking for fun days to plan and bring more people into their shop.
Halloween Pumpkin Patch Social
Shih tzus runnning around in costumes posing by giant pumpkins. And some hopping in the wagon and posing with hay and giant pumpkins. This one was really cute. We brought our cameras and started the phootshoot. They had props there like wagons with hay. Made our pics that much cuter. Thanks to St Lukes United Methodist Church for their beautiful pumpkin patch!
During the holidays, these patches pop up all over town. The key is to get there while there are still lots and lots of pumpkins. We went a little late in the month and luckily we were still able to get a good shot even with less pumpkins. By the time we left, there were not many left!
Dog Birthday Parties
There have been two parties and they came with cake that their moms made special so all the pups could eat. Decorations. Presents. Photos. We love being there for a doggies birthday. Akasha’s is Aug 2, so I’m starting to think about what we would like to do. There are so many other kinds of socials we have done, and I have a couple of tzupertastic ones I’m planning for Aug and Sept.
To plan a good party, scout a few restaurants. A few things to keep in mind is a large dog-friendly patio. Are there walls picture worthy? Nice decor? For example, if you want to take pics with a lot of greenery around, or maybe in a garden, be mindful of that when you are scouting for a place. Will they let you bring some party decor? One more thing, have it early in the day or late in the afternoon, early evening. You don’t want harsh lighting while trying to take birthday photos.
If you have any ideas you’d like to share, please do in the comments.
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