Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Pet Crafts

Misfit Manor Diary – getting ready for cyber week!

This is one part of my studio…the aftermath of making almost 2,000 ornaments.

While for most people the build up to the holidays is about decorations, party planning, shopping, baking…and all sorts of other fun things…for me it’s about getting ready for cyber week and the flood of sales that come the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I have four vacation rentals properties that wrap around my house…that business keeps a roof over my head.  But my online shops are how I support all of my Misfits.  Last year my holiday season sales raised enough to cover nearly a years worth of vet bills (which is no small thing when you have senior and/or special needs cases).

I am so blessed to be able to work from home.  It is rare that I ever have to leave my dogs

Buster resting at the foot my easel while I paint.

for more than a few hours.  When I do head in to my home studio…all the babies come with me.   I can take breaks during the day to get all the dog walking/play breaks done. I can always run out for vet appointments if I need to…it is really the best of both worlds.  I couldn’t have scripted a better situation for all of us and I wake up every day excited to do my work and grateful for all the opportunities we have been able to take advantage of.   I work hard; running multiple businesses, managing a very large property and caring for my rescues is like working 3 full-time jobs; I rarely rest.  I also love it and couldn’t imagine my life any other way…

This is one of four stacks of boxes I have ready to go…I still have hundreds to put together.

Learning to sell (well) online has taken years of hard work.  I have had to learn product photography, online marketing, sourcing, branding, trademarking  and more.  I use professional business coaches that coach specifically online sellers; I never could have figured all of this out on my own.   I have a fabulous group of cyber colleagues that I can

this is why I don’t leave the house…the wait at the door for me to come back…

lean on for advice and moral support.  Working alone from home can be…well lonely…(even when you have pets!).

I have two shops; Etsy and Amazon.  The last two years my businesses have really transformed; in part due to starting a shop on Amazon…which has been a game changer for me.  I never dreamed I would do the kind of volume I have done the last two years (especially for art).  It has also connected me with a lot of really cool customers for my art.  My anti-dog fighting art now hangs in several police stations around the country.  I have also had several really neat features of my products done by bloggers and also HGTV (for my Pawty supplies).

My girls napping in the studio with me.

I don’t even mind that my holiday season gets over taken by the busyness of my shops.  There are a lot of fun things that I have to pass on this time of year because my shops often require 12+ hour days.  But I still plan breaks to go see lights and to several of the outdoor holiday festivals in the area.  I also find a lot of joy in wrapping up my holiday sales.  Most of my sales this time of year are personalized pet ornaments or ornaments for dog moms.  I enjoy making and sending little packages of joy to dogs and their moms.

If your looking for a gift ornament for a pet or pet lover in your life; check out my shops!  You can use coupon code “PAWSOME” for 10% off your order.

Here is a gallery of some of my holiday ornaments they are all available for $14.99 (free shipping) at my shops:

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Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Pet Parent Resources

Misfit Manor Diary..and then there was Rosie…

There is no such thing as a dull moment at Misfit Manor.  While so many of my days seem filled with routine…routine is pretty crucial to juggling a large family of dogs…nothing about life here is ever dull. 

Several weeks ago I took in a new Misfit. Her name is Rosie.  She has some issues that are yet medically unidentified.  Perhaps they will never be identified.

She cannot bark.  She struggles with swallowing her food.  When she first arrived she was walking very little.  The vets believe she has some sort of neuro-muscular disorder…but no hard diagnosis as of yet.    We recently had a muscle biopsy done…no results yet.  Initially I had to carry her everywhere in the house…she had no strength to get up and walk (despite being on steroids).

.., if I left the room without her she would pant and whine and I would go running back for her. She was making little to no effort to get and up walk on her own.

Feeding Rosie is a daily battle.  I quickly figured out that she needs to eat sitting up or she gags and chokes on her food.  I feed her in a little doggie booster seat I have…one small bit of food at a time. She also gets bored with eating…or perhaps just tired…and we have have to take a lot of breaks.   She is also incredibly fussy.  There are days where I  have to cook her 3 different breakfasts just to find something she wants to eat.  I will not give up finding the best solutions for her.

But things are also changing a lot in the last few weeks.  She has morphed from rarely getting up and walking on her own at all to walking on her own most of the day.  She still has moments where her legs just give out and she plops on her belly.  But she gets right back up and tries again.  She has gained quite a bit of weight as well.  The last two days I have taken her on very short walks.

She loves wagon riding!  Initially she would just lay down in the wagon the whole time.  Now she is stronger and she sits up or stands while she is in the stroller.  I’m guessing she has covered more ground in the last few weeks than she has in her whole life.

Rosie has blended perfectly in to our broader family of Misfits.  Her initial introductions went very smoothly and she continues to play nicely with her housemates.  I am always grateful (and frankly fairly amazed) at how well all my Misfits do together…there is an energy level in this house that I do not understand…but am eternally grateful for.   All of my Misfits come from difficult backgrounds…yet once they are here they are very gracious about welcoming new family and helping each other grow.

Rosie has been a lovely addition….Betty adores her (and so does Buster).  Betty continues to amaze me…she remains so strong and determined yet she is the gentlest creature I have ever met.   She shadows Rosie…wherever Rosie goes Betty follows.

Betty continues to do fabulously.  We have pulled out all the stops for her…acupuncture, laser treatment, plasma injections…it is working…she loves going to the park…she would wander in a field all day if I let her.  She struggles sometimes with getting up…but that is what mommy is for.   Once I lift her up…she is off!

The Manor is a busy place…I run two businesses to keep my fur family going and thank the gods both of my business are thriving.  We are currently working hard to save money to buy our own laser machine…old dogs with sore joints is the norm here and it would be so much more economical to have our own laser machine…hopefully soon!

While there are days it seems like a live in a very narrow tunnel…I don’t leave the Manor unless I absolutely have too…I’m not oblivious to the world either….I watched the elections…the coverage of the fires in CA…my heart aches for our broken world…there are always rays of hope though…I find solace in doing my part right here…taking care of my band of Misfits that had no where else to go…I wish for everyone that you may find your hearts calling…because when you do…nothing can jar you from your path.

The holiday selling season is a critical time for my online stores.  If you need a gift item for a dog mom/dog dad in your life please browse my Etsy shop.  I have a lot of really cute affordable items for dog lovers.

Rescue on!

Nancy

 

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: A New Pawffiti Artist is born…

Pet Rescue Art…important messages from the pets we love…

Halacey finalnds down… the sassiest dog I have ever met is our Lhasa mix; Lacey Mae.  They say that the dogs that challenge us the most are the dogs we love the most…I can say from experience that this is true.  Lacey was a challenge literally from the moment I met her…and we love every bit of her.  Now that my shop is up and running steady I (in theory) have time to expand this year and Lacey Mae is going to step up to the plate and become my newest Pawffiti Artist.  Through her I 232323232-fp6326;-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=34-488828832;nu0mrjplan to do some Pawffiti Art that is considerably more snarky than I have done in the past.

Lacey’s persona evolved over a series sketches that occurred on Saturday nights. My husband’s favorite thing to do on Saturday nights is watch UFC matches.  He likes me to watch with him. So just like he does, when I drag him to the opera, I sit and enjoy UFC with him.  I usually bring either a sketch pad or some yarn and a crochet hook.  It was on a few of these Saturday fight nights that Lacey’s character evolved.232323232-fp633;3-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=3477-864-732;nu0mrjsketch 1

Lacey came to live with us shortly after Bret and I got married in 2008.  For some odd reason…we decided we wanted to open our home to a small breed dog…because two labs and rottweiler weren’t enough for us I guess.  We met Lacey through a friend who thought that perhaps we could give this “troubled little dog” a chance.232323232-fp63254-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=33427-5;-632;nu0mrj

We drove about an hour to meet her. We loaded up our three big dogs to do a meet and greet with Lacey.  She did great with our dogs…particularly since she is just a fraction of their size.  However, she pretty much just ran in circles around my husband and I and growled at us.  When I tried to greet her…at what I thought was a safe distance…she charged, jumped up and bit my nose….HARD.  Oddly enough…we took her home anyway.  Not because we bonded with her, obviously, but sketch 2because she clicked so well with our big dogs and frankly…she was out of options.

Lacey had been surrendered by her owners for “chronic biting”.  She seemed to have no use for humans other than to charge, growl and chomp on them.

When we first brought her home…she spent a good portion of the day following me around the house charging me, growling and biting and my legs and hands.  If the door was open…she was gone…it was like Chariots of Fire running down the street to get away.  My poor husband chased her one morning in nothing but his PJ bottoms (no shoes)…into the woods…over fences..through our neighbors backyards…he caught her eventually…he wasn’t very happy with her that day.doo rags and leashes 035

Lacey is smart…and despite her growly ways…all she wanted was some attention.  She very quickly figured out that she would get plenty of attention when she was calm and gentle…when she wasn’t calm and gentle…she was ignored.  It didn’t take her long at all to win us over and show us her charming and affectionate side.lacey shops

Lacey will always be a sassy dog with boundaries that need to be respected.  She has personal space issues (so does mommy)…and she will snap at someone if they push her too far.  But we know her limits and she knows our rules…she has become an irreplaceable member of our family.232323232-fp539;--nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=36633886-932;nu0mrj

I am not a dog trainer that believes that every dog with problematic behavior can (or should) be saved.  There are unfortunately some dogs who are just simply a danger to humans and other dogs anfinal sketchd it is in everyone’s best interest for them to either live life out in a sanctuary (there are very few that can do this) or be humanely euthanized…it sucks (believe me it sucks) but it is sometimes the most humane outcome.  Lacey however, despite being labeled a “chronic biter”, was not one of those dogs.

She has become the princess of the household…sleeping in the middle each night…riding the Harley with mom and dad…and she has become the dog we take everywhere.  She runs errands with mom…she goes on vacation with both of us.  She doesn’t mind dressing up (really…she doesn’t) and has a large wardrobe so she can gussy up for every occasion.  She also doesn’t take any crap and has a growly opinion about just about everything…hence she is going to be my newest artist.  She has always had a lot to say.  I am so excited to see what happens as Lacey unfolds on canvas…I hope you will follow her progress!232323232-fp63238-vq=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=33427;923932;vq0mrj

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Rescue Moms Should Rule The World

Pet Rescue Art…Pawffiti

Pet Rescue Art, Pit bull painting, Pit bull art, pit bull rescue art, dog mom gift
Pawffiti…Rescue Moms Should Rule the World

Hippie Pittie was at it again…what do you think?  She is 11×14 and available at my ETSY shop.

Rescue On!
Nancy

 

Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Some of the greatest love stories begin at the shelter…

Pet Rescue Art:  Pawffiti

Pet Rescue Art, Pit Bull Art, Pit Bull Painting, Dog Rescue Art, Dog mom gift
Pawffiti…Some of the greatest love stories began at the shelter.

I have been having some fun with this character…I call her hippie pittie…She has a lot to say and will be sharing her thoughts over the next couple of weeks…

I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who agree with her…and have also found their great love stories at a shelter…I have …many, many times.

Hippie Pittie is available for sale at my ETSY shop. She is acrylic on canvas (11×14)…I used a very glossy paint and finish for her.  I am undecided if I am going to make prints of her yet.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti

Pet Rescue Art:  “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti

Pawffiti...a reflection of our lifestyle.
Pawffiti…a reflection of our lifestyle.

I have spent the last few months learning the process of getting giclee prints made of some of my paintings…maybe I am just getting older…but navigating new things (especially technology) gets ever more complicated and frustrating.  One of things I have learned the hard way with my budding art store is that it is a constant time battle to try to manage on an online store and have enough time to create.  Running an online shop has required me to learn Search Engine Optimization, advertising and networking on social media and photography (which I still really stink at still).  I have learned online payment systems…photo editing…the list goes on.  My little art store has now shipped products to 29 different states in the U.S.!   I am hoping to hit all 50 in the next year or so and at some point I would like to ship internationally.

ETYS main
Image of the first print run!

I believe I have finally put together a cost effective yet very high quality team to get my art prints made.  I am really excited that I can use my prints to generate even more funds for rescuing animals.  So far in just the first quarter of 2015 The Rescue Mama Shop has generated $820 in donations of cash and merchandise to rescue groups.  I am hoping to grow this number significantly throughout the year.  I am hoping that my “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti will be a big part of that.  When I first posted the original painting on Facebook last month it was well received and I had a lot of requests for prints (and tshirts and bumper stickers, etc).

Getting prints made requires professional photographs of the originals…I have found a wonderful photographer in Lexington (Mary Rezny) who does an amazing job creating my electronic art files for me and has been generous with her time answering my endless questions about the process.  It also required finding a high quality printer that can provide archival quality prints that don’t break the bank…after test running a few shops I have been thrilled with the product I am getting from http://www.iprintfromhome.com.

I sell all of my originals and prints at my ETSY shop.  25% of the sales price of my originals go to rescue donations (the buyer can choose which rescue group gets the donation if the desire).  For all of my print sales I donate 10% of the sale.  I accumulate the total all quarter for my print sales and then write one check at the end of each quarter to a rescue group that I choose (which is usually a group in Kentucky as the needs for animals is so great here but there are other groups that I send to as well).

20150311_194843I have also been making cards with each of my new prints.  They make great cards for new pet adoptions or simply as “thinking of you” cards for pet rescue friends, dog walkers, veterinarians.   I am selling them for $3.99 at my shop.

Likeness of Hercules
Likeness of Hercules

This “Live to Rescue” painting was inspired by my Sparky…who as you know passed away last week.  I can’t put in to words how deeply I miss him.  Sparky spent his days either laying next to my easel or laying next to my desk…the house seems decidedly empty without him.  I am so grateful that I have painted so many pictures of him…I bet he gets a kick out of knowing that his sweet face is hanging in so many homes around the country.

Years ago…the reason I started painting in the first place was the loss of my Rottie, Hercules.  It was only a few months after he had passed that I realized I was losing my mental image of him…so I started doodling pictures of him and eventually I painted him…it was then that I realized…hey maybe I can do something productive with my painting.  Here I am several years later with my own little shop.  I am having fun…keeping the spirit of my dogs alive, giving voice to homeless and abused animals and raising some extra money for other dogs.

If you are interested in following my work more closely please follow my blog where I post weekly about my art, crafts and life with a house full of rescued pets and like my Facebook Page where I post daily.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

 

Family Posts, Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Hippie Kitty is back…

Pawffiti…important messages from the pets we love.

main brighterThis is my latest Pawffiti…it marks the return of Hippie Kitty…I have painted her in the past with a different setting and with a different message.  For reasons yet unknown to me it was time for her to return to canvas.  My art is my way of doing more…it allows me to be present at home for my house full of pets yet still do a little something to help the some of the pets still waiting for a family.  Hippie Kitty is going to be my first painting of which I have prints made.  I have never made prints of my artwork before.  I am not sure if that is because I didn’t have the time and energy to figure out how to do it or because I just wasn’t ready…but I suppose the more paintings and now prints I sell the more I can donate to help more animals.  I found a fabulous photographer in Lexington, Mary Resney, who specializes in photographing artwork…she has been so helpful and patient with an amateur such as myself.  She is making digital files of my artwork so not only can I do prints but at some point perhaps even some T-shirts and other merchandise.  The prints will be available in a few different sizes and will be printed on canvas.  The original is already listed for sale at my ETSY shop.

Like most of the country…Kentucky is having a wicked cold snap this week.  Here that means that too many dogs and cats are scratching out a living outside on their own.  There are a few counties in Kentucky that are really proactive…the animal control teams run non-stop responding to calls from concerned citizens who see dogs and cats left out in the cold.  But in most counties here…these animals get little to no help.  10404860_380184835476840_5050119956143225513_nThe laws protecting animals here are weak (the worst in the country in fact) and the appetite to change these laws even weaker.  The flagrant social acceptance of things like cock fighting and dog fighting are hard to stomach.   While I struggle with knowing what is going on around the state…I know I was meant to be here…time will tell what my own little role will be in the narrative of creating better lives for animals in Kentucky perhaps it will just be more painting.  I will be going to Humane Lobby Day next month in Frankfort and hope to hear some positive news about what can be done to make Kentucky a better place for animals.  It is going to take an army of advocates to change things here.  If you are a Kentuckian…please join me in Frankfort on Feb. 24th…email me if you need details (therescuemama@gmail.com).  If you want to follow more things going in KY to help animals follow my Facebook Page...I post any events, petitions, etc. there.

good coverWith all of our critters running around our house there really is no such thing as quiet time at the Halverson home…but we love our chaos and as the years pass Bret and I learn to appreciate life with animals more and more.   I have come to the conclusion that the animals choose us…each one coming in to our lives when they are suppose to and leaving when they are suppose to.   selfie 2We have three very senior dogs and a senior cat…they began slowing down a lot in the last year or so and each has some sort of chronic health issue now.  All of them manage to maintain their normal patterns albeit at a slower pace and they remain steadfast in their affection for us.  I am always amazed at their graceful acceptance of their aging and limiting bodies…as I get older I hope I age as gracefully as they do.  I consider it an honor to walk through their senior years with them and appreciate this time in their lives when they really do need their mama.

Its hard to believe that we have lived in Kentucky for six months now.  Despite some of the heartbreaking scenes we see for animals here Bret and I really do love it.  Kentucky is a beautiful state, the weather beats the pants off of Minnesota weather and we have made wonderful new friends here.  We have decided we didn’t really buy a house here…we bought a great big project…more work than either of us realized.  But this is our first home that we chose together as a married couple and despite the drafts, creaks in the floors, crooked doorways and questionable plumbing (eeek)…we love this house and for the first time in a long time…we feel like we are home.  We have decided we want to name our home…so far we have a few potential ideas….but want to stew on it a bit longer…if you have any suggestions feel free to offer them up!

Blessings from all of us and Rescue On!

Nancy

Family Posts

Merry Christmas from the Halverson Pack!

When you really do have the perfect Christmas…

kingles goodI don’t know about you but I usually have mixed emotions about the holiday season.   The zealous commercialization of Christmas seems to have stolen its real meaning…the expectations of others seems to add too much stress.  It has been a long time since I have enjoyed the holiday season but this year instead of feeling emotionally zapped by it I was fully energized by it. The commercialization is obnoxious….still, there are some fun but silly activities that captured our amusement….like pictures with Santa. This year Bret and I really had the chance to focus on what means the most to us…each other and the current cadre of critters running around our house.  Our gift to each other this year…vet bills (they are so high right now with three seniors)…our gift to our critters has been and will always be our time and focus.

One of our holiday adventures this year was pictures wreally good bothith Santa at the Scott County Humane Society.  We took Lacey and Kringles…both made a lot of people smile with their cute little outfits and cooperative natures.  Kringles picks up chicks everywhere he goes.  After pictures we took them for puppy lattes at Starbucks.  Lacey knows what it means when we pull up to a Starbucks drive through and bounces around with excitement…if she wasn’t in a car seat I am sure she would leap right into the Starbucks window.

lacey lattepuppy latte kringlesChristmas Eve was bittersweet this year….sweet because the weather was fabulous most of the day and I spent most of the day walking dogs at the park.  For a Minnesotan…a 60 degree Christmas Eve is a wonderful treat! selfie 2With six dogs in the house right now I spend a good portion of each day excercising them…the biggest gift we can give our dogs is keeping them mentally, physically and socially stimulated…while that is not easy with six I do enjoy every minute of it.  walk in the parkI am lucky to have several parks within a few minutes of my house.  Sparky and Kringles are good walking companions…Sparky still loves his walks but moves very slow now.  Kringles has an enlarged heart and can no longer go on walks…he enjoys tooling along in his wagon…he is so content to ride along and enjoy the view.  The bitter part of Christmas Eve…the night before Christmas Eve I made a late night run to Walmart…to pick up some treats for a friend who just broke her leg.  It was getting cold and it was pouring rain…this picture was all I could think about….10868035_10153893293772588_6867434912571990884_nthis picture was taken by a local rescue group in the county I live in (it is one of several pictures of dogs living chained that day).  In the cold and pouring rain this dog had nothing but a plastic tote to keep it warm and dry….assuming its chain wasn’t tangled that night keeping it from the tote.  There was also a puppy at the site who was sharing the tote with this dog.  This is such a common picture of dogs in Kentucky.  When I look at this I do not wonder “how could anyone do this to a dog”…I know how…they are spiritually sick.  What I wonder is “how can an entire community look the other way?”   The problem in Kentucky is not simply the spiritually sick individuals who chain up and neglect their dogs…its the lack of will by the community to stand up say “NOT IN MY BACKYARD…WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS”.  Kindness to animals is simple and easy…and is one of many important benchmarks by which a  community’s conscience and spiritual health can be evaluated.

Also on my mind was this dog…Lola.  Lola was rescued in the nick of time…she was tied to a chain and left to starve.  Her brother was found dead at the scene…he slowly starved to death. lola This incident was also in Kentucky…just north of here.  Lola’s abuser has been arrested…which is great…but the maximum sentence for what he has done is 90 days.  This is a travesty of justice…yet there is no outrage.  Lola is healing (she had wounds all over her skin) and has gained considerable weight since she was found…but it appears her suffering is in vain…as despite the coverage of this incident in the press here…there are no laws to adequately deter this type of crime in the future.

The state of the dogs in Kentucky is such a frustrating situation…in most communities in Kentucky the laws are such that there is absolutely nothing you can do to help these dogs…if there are laws they are rarely enforced.  As I thought about that poor dog living in the tote that night I did the only thing I was able to do for it…pray. Pray for comfort and rescue for this dog and pray for grace to enter the heart of this dogs human….pray for this community to have a change of heart.  You can analyze societal problems like this any way you want I suppose…but I see this as a spiritual epidemic…perhaps it is time to start a prayer chain focused on the dogs of Kentucky because frankly I am not sure anything else will work.

Every time I see dogs in distress I want to run home and snuggle my own pets…lucky for me our two foster dogs are the world’s best snugglers.  If I asnuggling momm sitting down anywhere in our home….they are vying for my lap.  I really couldn’t be more blessed…I have learned so much from both of these dogs.  Our Christmas carried on…depsite my pre-occupation with all the dogs living in distress.
We stuffed the tree with presents Christmas morning….the dogs watched with great anticipation.20141225_080329 20141225_080128  Buster and Lacey attacked the present pile with great enthusiasm.  Kringles just wanted to snuggle.  Turnip just wanted his stuffed lambs.  Sparky just relaxed and watched the festivities in his usual dignified manner.  It was a delightful morning.  I leave you with a few of our family pictures from Christmas morning….a morning that I felt very blessed to have a husband who doesn’t just tolerate all the critters I bring home…he loves them…and blessed to play a small role in the lives of all these sweet creatures.  I believe the entire reason we are born on this planet is to grow spiritually…for each of us there will be different paths and roles that rub the rough edges off of us and aids in our spiritual maturity…for me…my path is pet rescue.  What we do in this world follows us into the next…

Merry Christmas and Rescue On! Nancy20141225_140711

20141225_130220 20141225_085636 20141225_083256 20141225_082214 20141225_082023 20141225_082004 20141225_080426

 

 

 

Pet Crafts, Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: A rescue dog stole my heart!

My heart has been stolen by a rescue pet exactly seven times …how about you?

really close upI just posted this new painting to my shop…what do you think of this one?

 

Rescue On!

Nancy