Crufts 2017

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Crufts brings back so many amazing memories, but by far my favourite has to be in 2009 when I showed my first Dalmatian in the puppy class. Although I’d shown horses in-hand for years – dogs are a whole different kettle of fish. I must confess that this is the most nerve wrecking thing I’ve ever done. We didn’t do a particularly good job in the ring – half way through the run up my treats came flying out of my pocket – much to Oakley’s delight, he started leaping around like a leprechaun trying to catch them! He then decided to give the judge an ear nibble when she went over him, to which I quipped ‘he’s a sucker for blonde’s – fortunately the judge had a sense of humour and despite all these cringey Bridget Jones moments she still placed him 5th and there were 15 in the class. I was stunned, elated, relieved all at once! At that moment I retired from showing! I’d just launched my wedding photography business so I couldn’t commit to the shows anymore. We had a blast, I learnt a lot about dogs and met some wonderful people.

My other great memory of crufts is when I returned a few years later in a professional capacity. I was granted permission to photograph the entire show – 4 days, 9am to 9pm. It was a massive learning curve – I was completely out of my comfort zone as a weddings photographer. I spent the first 30 minutes on the first night of the groups – trying to work out the correct settings. Luckily for me, I was taken under the wing of Dave and Alan, these seasoned pros showed me the ropes and offered advice. Something I’m so thankful for to this day.


By the time the groups entered the ring on the second night I had my settings nailed – I was now feeling confident and loving every moment.

The best part about being behind the scenes – aside from cuddling all the dogs – was seeing how everyone, humans and dogs came together in their masses but they all got on. It seems the shared love of our furry friends brings the best out in people. Even the ringside competitive rivalry is at worst friendly banter.


This year I’m heading back to Crufts, but this time as a visitor with a shopping list. I’m also taking my friend Andrea as she’s never been – she’s in for such a treat! Our first stop will Discover Dogs, which for me is the best bit of Crufts. When I was there as a photographer I would wander around this section for hours, mainly having a love with all the dogs on the stands and chatting with their owners learning about the different breeds. Next up we’ll be hitting the shopping Roxy has a long wish list so this may take some time. The show is spread over quite a few halls, so if you’re attending the show make sure you wear comfy shoes.  If you get hungry or need to hydrate there’s a few different options available at the NEC. There’s also a shop and cash point.


It’s also worth checking out what’s on in the main arena during the day, you can pick up a show guide at the entrance. There’s lots of competitions which are great to watch, I particularly like flyball and agility.


Come evening the main arena will fill up with those eager to ‘groups’.  During the day all the breeds within each group – toy, utility, gundog, working, pastoral, hound and terrier – compete for the for title Best in Breed. Each of the Breed winners will then compete against the other breed winners within their group to win the title Best in Group. Then on Sunday evening each of the Best in Group winners compete for the Crufts Best in Show title. It’s all very exciting and the atmosphere in the arena is electric. Obviously Roxy and I are cheering on the Dallies, but with that said, although everyone competing wants to take the trophy home, they all know that whatever happens win or loose they’re taking the best dog home!


Andrea and I are attending Crufts on Friday (Dalmatian day) are you going to Crufts? What are you most looking forward to seeing?

Spots of love

October and Roxy

Dapper cat


Although this blog is mainly about Roxy, occasionally Siren gets in the act. Siren literally appeared out of nowhere – a 10 day old kitten abandoned by his mother, screaming at the top of his lungs. If I hadn’t of heard his cries from beneath a pile of wood in one of my stables, well I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. Needless to say I hand-reared this little ball of fluff and he’s settled into the family, pretty confident he owns the place. He has huge character and in honesty this cat is unlike any other I’ve ever met. Maybe it’s because he’s hand-reared and lives with a dog, maybe it’s just him! One thing I can say is everyday he makes me laugh.
Siren is quite a big boy, he’s not even a year yet. At seven months he’d grown out of his kitten collar, so to replace it I wanted to get something a bit different to reflect his personality. I’d seen lots of dogs recently donning some very cool bow ties, which instantly I knew I had to get for Sir Siren. I follow The January Rose on Twitter and Instagram and fell in love with the red tartan collar with matching bow tie. I was so excited when it arrived a few days later, so beautifully made and the bow tie was the perfect size too.

The bow tie slips onto the collar through an elastic loop and stays securely in place. I loved the little bell and ‘mad with love’ charm, adding to the high end finish.


Siren loves wearing his new collar, sitting majestically on the stable gate surveying all that is his.


Everyone that meets Siren comments on his dapper collar, he really is the coolest cat on the street.


For details on Sirens tartan collar or indeed to browse the gorgeous designs available log on to thejanuaryrose.co.uk

Do you have a cat that you spoil rotten?

Spots of love

October, Roxy and Siren xx

How to photograph your dog

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If I had a pound for everytime I heard the words ” I wish I could take pics of my dog like you” I wouldn’t need to play the lottery anymore! I’m always very flattered and humbled by these compliments as it means I’m in the right job! – which I love!

I’m very passionate about photography and sometimes I feel we don’t appreciate the importance of an image, until sadly the subject in it is no longer with us – at which point it becomes the most precious thing on earth.

The aim of this post is not to turn you into a pro photographer, but instead to get you thinking like one! I’ve put together 10 top tips to get you snapping pics of your furbabies you’ll treasure forever.

I hope you find this info helpful and if you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to answer them. I’d also love it if you share your pics with me, please follow us on instagram, Twitter, or Facebook  and tag Roxy in your image

  1. Get down low! As humans we are all about eye contact and the best way to connect eye-to-eye is on the same level. So wear an old pair of jeans and get on your knees (I also wear an extra long pair of socks that cover my knees for added protection) You’ll be amazed how this tip alone will transform your pictures! 
  2. Shoot fast! This is easier to adjust on a DSLR than on a phone, but I’m hoping as you want to get better pictures, you are using something with a little more control than your phone. So take your camera out of the auto setting – scary I know, but trust me – and set it to shutter priority (TV on Canon). You need to be shooting over 1000th of second to be able to isolate the movement, obviously if they’re sitting still you can reduce it, but if your dog is anything like Roxy ‘still’ isn’t something that happens often on a walk. In the shutter priority mode, you will also need to set your ISO, remember the higher the ISO the more light it lets in, the camera will automatically set the aperture.
  3. Location, location, location! This is an obivous one, but go somewhere that’s pleasing on the eye, and as quiet as possible – you don’t want to be airbrushing stuff out of the background! 
  4. It’s all about the light! If it’s an overcast grey day and light levels are poor avoid the forest. As much as I love woodland walk, trying to photograph under the dark canopy of trees is tough – even for pro! Instead go to the beach or anywhere with open spaces. However, if it’s a really sunny day, definitely go to the woods – the light will dance off the leaves and create beautiful dappled shade. Start watching the skies at all times of the day, learn about the golden hour and then see how if affects your favourite walks.        
  5. Be preapred! If you going out with the sole intention to get great pics, you need to plan ahead. prep your kit, make sure batteries are charged and lenses and cameras are clean and free from dust. Pack extra memory cards, just in case. Put a lens cloth in your pocket – my lenses are always getting slobbered on! If you’re carrying a camera bag, make sure it comfortable and light weight and that it’s easy to access quickly.
  6. Treats and toys! I always pack both. At home Roxy is driven by her stomach but out on walk not so much. Something squeaky is the best at getting their attention and giving animation to their eyes. 
  7. Train your pup! Even if it’s just the basics. You wouldn’t believe how many dogs I work with that aren’t even taught sit! You can teach sit, stay, come and down pretty quickly, Roxy is nearly 7 and she’s still learning new tricks. The saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is a total myth!
  8. A second pair of hands. Most of my images of Roxy are shot with just me, generally trying to balance a treat or toy on my lens while making strange noises to grab her attantion. You can make life easier for yourself, if you can rope a friend or family member in to help you. Then you can focus (pardon the pun) on taking the shot.
  9. Be paitent. As with learning any new skill, it takes time. Time to learn how use your camera, time to learn about ISO, aperture, shutter speed…, but also be paitent with your dog, if you get frustrated she will sense this and if that happens, you need to put the camera down, walk away for a bit and come back to it when you’re feeling calmer. I have had my fair share of these moments, but if you persevere they become less and less.
  10. Practise makes perfect! Keep your camera charged with a memory card in it at all times. Take it on every walk, learn from every picture you take. Even now I critique every image I shoot, with a view to how I would improve it next time. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get an amazing image first time, understand why isn’t as amazing as you want it to be and try again! You’ll get there!

So there you have it! What you waiting for? Get out there and start shooting!

Spots of Love

October and Roxy xx

Travel sickness

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It’s the bane of my life and stops me traveling too far afield with Roxy. I’ll admit that over time she has improved slightly, to only vomiting after 30 minutes – as  a pup it came from both ends within 15 minutes! Over the years I’ve tried various suggestions and although sometimes the remedy seemed to work, sadly it wasn’t for long. I feel for Roxy, as a kid I couldn’t travel more than 20 mins before projectile vomiting once down my Mum’s neck! Even now on long journeys I wear travel bands and sit in the front.

I believe to treat Roxy successfully I need to know what really causes the sickness, the general consensus on the matter is that it’s stress related. To which I whole heartedly agree, but what I need to know is it stress because she’s panicking about being feeling and being sick, because she has travel sickness, or is she stressed because she’s a bundle of nerves and is outside of her confront zone? Personally I think it’s a little of both.
Recently I’ve been searching the internet for any new inventions or ideas to try in an attempt to make going on holiday a much nicer experience for both of us. I’ve already invested in few products and I’m still searching more. I’ll be sharing our reviews on this blog, so pop back regualrly to see how Roxy is getting on.

Please share your travel experiences too. Do you have travel sick dog? Have you tried anything that works? Please do tell…

Spots of Love

October and Roxy xx

Crystal healing for travel sickness

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Crystal therapy is a subject that’s interested me for years. I remember at school when I was about to start my exams my aunt gave me a rose quartz to wear close to my heart to help me relax. I did as I told and  it seemed to work. At moments of great stress I would sit quietly holding my stone and take deep breaths. Now as child of a couple of hippies (and suddenly my first name makes sense) I’ve been raised to have an open mind and I’m more than willing to give anything a go once – well as long it’s legal.

A few weeks back I saw a post on twitter advertising crystal healing for dogs. I’d had a couple of bad journeys with Roxy, which was really getting me down and I’m desperate to find something that will ease her problem with travel sickness. So with that in mind I contacted Sam at Salamander Therapies, explained my problem and asked if she could create a charm combination that could possibly help. Sam was great, she came straight back with some suggestions and the cost, which is really reasonable at £7.50.

Within a few days the charm arrived, it clips on the D ring of the collar easily and looks really pretty too! What happened next astounded me! Within 10 mins of wearing it Roxy could hardly keep her eyes open, and this was before her walk! Even my mum couldn’t believe the difference in her.

Encouraged by this reaction I couldn’t wait to take her in the car. to make sure I gave the crystals a fair test, I decided to take Roxy to the beach – a journey distance that always resulted in her being sick. As I said previously I have an open mind, but wasn’t convinced the crystals alone would be enough, but I was proven wrong. We made it all the way without so much as a gag! Although you could still see she was stressed, just not as bad.

I  have continue to use the crystals on every journey  and Roxy seems a little more relaxed, slightly excited even, every time we hit road for an adventure.

I hope to get her to Cornwall later this year. Do you have a staycation planned with your dog?

Spots of love

October and Roxy xxx

No more wet dog!

Living not far from the Norfolk coast means we spend a lot of our time there. Roxy has grown up with the sea and is complete water baby. Regardless of the time of year, if the tide is in, she’s going in! Now the only problem we have with this is how cold she feels from getting wet. Of course I always pack a towel to rub her down when we get back to the car, but she’ll still shiver all the way home. I hate keeping her out of the water because she loves it so much, so finally I have found a solution – The Ruff and Tumble drying coat. It’s a towelling dog coat that has been designed to cover the body from the ears to the base of tail with a nice wide belly strap too. It has two layers of the cotton towelling which feel the same as my Egyptian cotton towels. The coat is edged in tan leather and for that little bit extra luxury you can have your pets name embroidered too. The coat arrived in a matching towelling bag, perfect for keeping it stored away and for travelling. With its Velcro straps, the coat is easy and fast to put on, which is important on an excited Dalmatian that’s very wiggley. I found the coat dried her off quickly and kept her nice and warm. I put the coat on her at the waters edge once she’d finished swimming and by the time we got back to the car, 20 mins later, she was dry! I left the coat on her until we got home, at which point I popped it straight into the washer machine on 30 degrees, then air dried it – I’m pleased to report no shrinkage!

I’m really impressed with this coat, it does everything you need it to and it looks stylish! It now comes on every walk with us and I never have to worry about Roxy being cold again! this coat definitely gets a paws up from us!

Does your dog like going swimming? I’d love to hear your seaside stories.

Spots of Love

October and Roxy

 

 

Dog Friendly Magazine

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Five years ago a fellow dog loving friend, placed a copy of Dog Friendly Magazine under my nose. I’d been searching the internet for dog friendly places to stay and I was quite specific in what I was looking for – a self catering cottage with all the amities plus a fabulous location with a multitude of walks on the doorstep. I found that Dog Friendly Magazine provided me with in-depth articles about such places. To me it’s very important that the places I take Roxy to really are dog-friendly and don’t just allow dogs. That’s why I find Dog Friendly my first port of call whenever I’m looking for somewhere new to have an adventure with the spotty one. The magazine relies heavily on people like us, people who treat their dog as family, who care about the location and venue. When ever I take Roxy away I always pack the camera and write a little review – it’s my way of saying thank you and giving a little bit back. So maybe the next time you go away with your fur baby, you too could send a submission to the magazine.

The latest issue is out now, click here to grab your copy!  Oh and guess who’s on the cover with a 6 page feature inside!!

Roxy’s World

  1. Her first love is food, she will eat anything – even lettuce!
  2. She’s an accomplished theif and together with Siren (the cat) nothing is safe!
  3. She loves to run, all day, everyday!
  4. She can’t catch, if you throw a ball or even a treat at her it will hit her in the face!
  5. She’s the most clumbsy dog I’ve ever met! She looks graceful and elegant but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
  6. MUD! She loves it! Rolls in it, rubs her face in it, rubs her face on you…
  7. All Dallies love cuddles, especially on your lap and face-to-face – There’s no such thing as too close if you’re a Dalmatian.
  8. She’s sings to the Casualty theme tune.
  9. She’ll spoon with you in bed.
  10. She will always greet you with a big teethy smile!2017-01-30_0004

Hello and Woof!

Welcome to Roxy’s blog! Now I must confess that writing doesn’t really come naturally to me, I’m much more a visual creative and would rather describe something with an image than words! But, as a pet owner, I often find myself scouring the web looking for products and reviews on all things pet friendly and I really value these detailed descriptions. So I feel it’s only fair, that I too, should share our experiences and travels with you all.

I have lots already lined up to share with you, and I can’t wait to get blogging!

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