Category Archives: Jambo Recommends

Jambo Recommends – Fit For A Pit!

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Heather with Dio and Olive, wearing their Hurtta Slush Combat Suits!

Jambo: Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself?
Fit For A Pit:  Sure! I’m a native Philadelphian with a background in visual art, I spent many years as a picture framer and had my own framing business from 2004-11. But that’s boring so I’ll skip to my DOG background! I had Rottweilers in the early 90s, which I wanted because I thought they looked like snuggly little bears. Back then I had no idea that breed bans even existed, let alone that I’d spend the next decade struggling to find places to live and working so hard to convince people that my dogs weren’t vicious monsters!
Fast forward to 2008, through lots of moves due to my husband’s job…we’d lost our last Rottie to cancer and were ready for a new buddy. While searching petfinder, I noticed that so many of the photos looked like mug shots! I wondered how any of the dogs could get adopted, having such awful photos. I also noted that pit bulls seemed to have the worst photos of them all…some even had catch poles still attached to their necks. I immediately called our local kill shelter to ask if I could come over and take pictures of the dogs. I guess my experiences there, along with the Michael Vick case, was what set me on a mission to help these dogs in as many ways as I could.

Olive in the colorful coat The Teca Tu Vestido Coat
Olive, looking gorgeous in her stunning Teca Tu Vestido Dog Coat.

Jambo: Where did the idea of Fit For A Pit come from?
Fit For A Pit:  Well, I’ve got 2 high-energy athletes on my hands here, so from the get go, I was constantly looking for new ways to burn some of their excess energy. I bought a lot of toys and equipment, puzzles, games, but only found a few things that worked and lasted.

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Olive and Dio on Roan Mountain, NC. “Two high-energy athletes who always feel cold!”

These guys are always cold, too, so I looked everywhere for dog clothes. Everything was tight or too long, or the leg holes were too close together. Or all three of the above! A lot of cheap clothes from big box stores would only last through a couple of washings and then they’d fall apart.
Did I mention that the dogs are also “blessed” with a host of bizarre allergies that manifest via skin issues? That brought about a quest for natural foods and products that wouldn’t make them break out in scary hives. I wanted to find things that could potentially prevent disease ,too, since we’d lost our Rotties to cancer and complications from Addison’s. So, from 2009 to 2013, I wasted money on a bunch of, for lack of a better word, crap! Some things were so bad that I couldn’t bear to donate them and they went straight into the waste basket. When I did find something good, I’d buy several, keeping a few for our dogs and donating the rest, so I could share my discoveries. Everyone was always so thrilled to find out about the new stuff! That’s when it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one having this problem. I figured maybe I could help keep other people from having to waste hard-earned money on garbage like I did.

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Jambo wearing his Chilly Dog Monkey Hoodie. Chilly Dog employs Inca Artisans in South American to create their hand knit wool dog sweaters.

Jambo: You donate a portion of every sale, plus all your manufacturers’ samples and overstock items to pit bull rescues across America as well as spending much of your free time participating in Pit Bull rescue, education, training and spay/neuter efforts. Can you tell us why this is important to you?
Fit For A Pit:  Obviously, my time at the kill shelter in Vegas was pivotal. I was there almost every day, not just taking photos and walking dogs, but also talking to people in the intake line. I wanted to know what drove people to this decision. I thought if I knew the main reason, that maybe there was something we could do to help them keep their dogs. What I found was pretty interesting: while there were some who just couldn’t afford to feed and vet a dog, most people I talked to were turning dogs in because of behavioural issues. Things like house soiling, separation anxiety, fence jumping/digging/escaping, fighting with their other dogs and even a simple lack of basic obedience skills. All pretty fixable stuff. I realized that people weren’t exercising their dogs and they weren’t training them. Not because they were lazy or stupid, but because they had no idea what to do or how to do it.
Of course I also saw a ton of pregnant dogs coming in to the shelter, so I knew that spay & neuter was really important. I watched so many of my little friends being walked over to the veterinary building to be euthanized all because they weren’t adopted fast enough. I knew then that rescue was only one piece of the puzzle, and that we needed to get to the root of the problem in order to make any real impact.

FitOlive in her Hurtta Slush Combat Suit and Muttluks boots
Olive in her Hurtta Slush Combat Suit and Muttluks boots.

Jambo: Tell me about the DFW Pit Crew.

Fit For A Pit:  When I was in Vegas, I co-founded a group for pit owners and we’d meet once a week to walk dogs out in public, hang out on patios, etc…let people interact with our dogs. Eventually we had a trainer join the group, so we added classes on anything from basic obedience to agility. Members asked questions about training, health, feeding, socializing, what products to use etc. so I was always researching things and referring people to professionals when needed.
After moving to Dallas in 2012, I noticed we didn’t have a group here yet, so I contacted North Texas Pit Bull Alliance and asked them to co-found one with me. We opened it in 2013 and now have 333 members.

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A gathering of the DFW Pit Crew.

The group has weekly walks and we hold classes, go to rescue events, etc.  All members have access to a database of links and pdfs about everything from training to health to info. on BSL. We also have a lot of rescues in the crew and because so many of our members are fosters, I sometimes network dogs to the group and find homes for them. We’re currently working on planning this year’s North Texas Pit Bull Pride event in October. It’s a great group of people and a great group of dogs. We love hanging out together!

Honor the Staffordshire in your bull terrier with the Chilly Dog Union Jack Sweater!
“Honor the Staffordshire in your bull terrier with the Chilly Dog Union Jack Sweater!”

Jambo:  Do you think Fit For A Pit is helping to break the negative stereotype of Pit Bull type dogs?
Fit For A Pit:  I think we’re doing our small part, yes. I mean, who can be afraid of a dog wearing a sweater with bunny ears? All kidding aside, I know how much positive attention a dog wearing clothes can attract… this often prompts interaction with strangers, giving us a chance to educate. I make sure to strongly encourage exercise and force-free training for all dogs, because well-behaved, happy dogs speak for themselves, don’t they? Our dogs’ behaviour has the potential to change a lot of minds.

Dio in sweater: Chilly Dog Bunny Hoodie
Dio wearing his Chilly Dog Bunny Hoodie. “Who can be afraid of a dog wearing a sweater with bunny ears?”

Jambo: Who is your target market?
Fit For A Pit:  Pit bull types are our main focus, just because there’s so little out there that’s specifically geared towards them. But really everything we carry is all-breed, even the clothes. I might only list a few sizes on the site (those that fit bully breed dogs the best) but I have access to both smaller and larger sizes. Many of our customers have mixed-breed dogs at home, so I do a lot of custom orders for pit bulls’ roommates who can be teacup Chihuahuas, Great Pyrenees, you name it!

a Aztec sweater
Jambo staying warm and looking stylish in his Chilly Dog Navajo Shawl Collar Sweater! Chilly Dog “follow fair trade guidelines, providing jobs in healthy workplaces that pay a fair living wage so their knitters can enjoy a better lifestyle.”

Jambo: How do you choose which products to stock?
Fit For A Pit:  I read about or hear of new things all the time and if something looks or sounds like it could work well, I order a sample or two. I test things with our dogs first and then I’ll pass it around to friends, family, meetup members and often to a rescue. I’ll give it a few weeks and collect feedback from everyone, see if the product is still holding up. With apparel, I wash things several times. Then I decide if it’s made the cut or not. I’ll tell you something you’ve probably already figured out: most things don’t make the cut. I’m pretty tough! There are even quite a few very well-known items or brands that are beloved by pit bull owners but I won’t carry them because they failed my testing! (These shall remain nameless but go to the website and you can figure it out by process of elimination. If you don’t see it, it FAILED!)

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We love the Hurtta Winter Jacket It’s “perfect for pit bull-type dogs!”

Jambo:  Do you have a favorite product that is available on your website?
Fit For A Pit:  I love everything on the website and I really mean it! The Finnish dog outfitter Hurtta is a stand-out, though, I think I’m their #1 fan haha!! Their sizing is perfection and since the clothes were created for dogs working in extreme conditions, they’re well-made and will really take a beating. Acadia Antlers moose antlers—we order a specific weight and cut of moose antler that I found the dogs seemed to prefer over others and this size and cut also lasts the longest. Oh and anything from Squishy Face Studios. Everyone needs a flirt pole!

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Fit For A Pit love Squishy Faced Studio’s products. It looks like Tessa and Jambo agree! They are pulling on a Squishy Face Studio Super Tug that is attached to a tree in our garden.

Jambo: Does Fit For A Pit ship internationally?
Fit For A Pit:  Absolutely! We have customers all over the world!

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Jambo looks very cool in his purple t-shirt! All of the products sold by Fit For A Pit are rigorously tested to make sure they meet their exacting standards!

Jambo: What plans do you have for Fit For A Pit?
Fit For A Pit:  Actually, there is something really big on the horizon! For the past couple of years, I’ve been working gathering intel for a line of dog tees and hoodies that will be 100% made in the USA, right here in Dallas, TX. America’s Dog is our brand name and we’ve created a few styles, had patterns made, ordered a few of each and have just completed testing on those samples. The style is really sporty and the fit is super comfy for broad-chested, short-bodied dogs. We were set to produce these a few months ago but our fabric supplier shut down and iiquidated their inventory. That was a huge setback! Sourcing American-made fabrics is really time-consuming and difficult, so it’s taken me a few months to get back to where we were before in the process. The launch date is now scheduled for sometime in the spring of this year. I’ll be posting updates via social media and those subscribed to our newsletter will get the news first!

Jambo:  A very big thank you to Fit For A Pit for taking the time to answer all of my questions and for being largely responsible for my ever expanding wardrobe of clothes that feel great, look great and fit great!

You can find Fit For A Pit at : www.fit4apit.com.

Make sure to “like” their Facebook Page!:  www.facebook.com/fit4apit

They are also on Twitter, Google+  and Instagram!:

www.twitter.com/fit4apit

www.google.com/+Fit4apit

www.instagram.com/fit4apit

If you would like to get involved with the DFW Pit Crew, you can find out more here:  www.meetup.com/dfw-pit-crew

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Jambo is wearing muttluks boots and a “super comfy and sporty” America’s Dog hoodie!

Jambo will only recommend companies whose products he has used (and loves) and who share the same commitment we have to training dogs in a humane manner, using up-to-date, science based, force-free methods;  who support breed neutral laws and help to shine a positive light on the “Bully” breeds.

You can find Jambo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

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Jambo Recommends – The Pit Bull Princess!

This week Jambo interviews The Pit Bull Princess!

The Pit Bull Princess says that the best way to improve the lives of Pit Bulls is primarily through education at all levels, from kindergarten to senior citizens.   She has a wonderful male Pit Bull named Bruno, a certified Therapy Dog.  Together they visit schools to teach children about responsible pet ownership, dog safety and the misconceptions about Pit Bull type dogs.

A beautiful family photo.  Left to right: LEXI, DOYLE, BRUNO, ABI AND FREDDIE.
A beautiful family photo. Left to right: LEXI, DOYLE, BRUNO, ABI AND FREDDIE.

Jambo: Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself?
The Pit Bull Princess: I live in upstate New York with my husband, three Pit Bulls and a cat. Until I was about 30 years old I considered myself a “cat person” and never owned a dog, but that all changed the day I saw Lexi in a local shelter. She changed my life in so many ways and motivated me to volunteer to help Pit Bulls, educate the public about Pit Bull type dogs and inspired me to start my business, The Pit Bull Princess. I had Lexi for ten wonderful years, and sadly lost her to cancer in 2014.

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This is a picture of Lexi when she was only a year old.  “My sweet, precious one in a million dog. Miss her every day.”

Jambo: Where did the idea of The Pit Bull Princess come from?
The Pit Bull Princess: I was a frustrated consumer – when shopping for dog breed merchandise, I found that stores either did not carry Pit Bull products, or if they did, the items they sold portrayed ferocious looking dogs in spiked collars. That was not the type of Pit Bull I knew and loved. I wanted to open a store that promoted an image of Pit Bulls as happy, loving, family pets. Lexi was a bit of a Diva and so she was the inspiration for the name, The Pit Bull Princess.

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This is a photo of Bruno taken on “one of our Therapy Dog visits to the Woestina Elementary School.”

Jambo:  You donate a percentage of the proceeds from all sales to Pit Bull Rescue Organisations as well as spending much of your free time participating in Pit Bull rescue, education and spay/neuter efforts.    Can you tell us why this is important to you?

The Pit Bull Princess:  I do this because Pit Bulls desperately need help to undo the damage that has been done to them by humans, and I try to help in any way I can. They get the short end of the stick in so many ways: dog fighting, over breeding, cruelty and neglect, misrepresentation by the media, and legislative breed bans. It is my belief that the best way to improve their lives is primarily through education at all levels, from kindergarten to senior citizens. I have a wonderful male Pit Bull named Bruno who is a certified Therapy Dog. We visit schools to teach children about responsible pet ownership, dog safety and misconceptions about Pit Bull type dogs. I also started and manage the Out Of The Pits low cost Pit Bull Spay-Neuter (Fix-a-Bull) program in our local community. The Pit Bull Princess also supports the efforts of other organizations by donating 10% of net profits to groups across the United States.
This is a picture of Bruno being loved on by the students at the Bennington VT Middle School - one of his first therapy dog visits
This is a picture of Bruno being shown lots of love by the students at the Bennington VT Middle School – one of his first therapy dog visits
Jambo:  Do you think The Pit Bull Princess is helping to break the negative stereotype of Pit Bull type dogs?

The Pit Bull Princess: Yes, absolutely. All of our merchandise promotes a positive image of Pit Bull type dogs.

Bruno at Woestina Elementary School. The children "interviewed" Bruno and me, and then each one wrote an article about us.  The teacher said the kids really enjoyed it and were more motivated than usual to do their assignment! They hung each essay on the wall in the hallway of the school.
Bruno at Woestina Elementary School. “The children “interviewed” Bruno and me, and then each one wrote an article about us.”

Jambo:  Who is your target market?
The Pit Bull Princess:  Our target market is Pit Bull lovers. Some people, such as shelter workers, love Pit Bulls, but for various reasons cannot own one, but still love and support the breed.

ppprincess bruno
They hung each essay on the wall in the hallway of the school.

Jambo:  How do you choose which products to stock?
The Pit Bull Princess:  I look for products that are useful, beautiful, creative, can help dogs get adopted or in some way help organizations raise money, products that are well made and items that are not readily available elsewhere. Many of our items did not exist – I would look for a particular product in the Pit Bull breed, and if it was not available I had it made as our own exclusive item – such as our Pit Bull cookie cutters and chocolate molds. Some of our products I make by hand, such as custom jewelry, ornaments, and handpainted signs to name just a few.

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The Smiling Pit Bull, The Cropped Ear Pit Bull and The Peaceful Pit Bull charms available from The Pit Bull Princess.

Jambo: Do you have a favorite product that is available on your website?
The Pit Bull Princess: This is a hard question! I love them all, but right now my favorite is our sterling silver pit bull charms. We currently have four charms: the smiling pit bull, the peaceful pit bull, the pit bull with cropped ears, and the END BSL charm. This again is an example of a product that was not available when we looked for it and we had made for our store. The detail and likeness of the charms are incredible – our jewelry designer Margie Mersky did an amazing job.

pbprincesspeae love pitbulls
Peace. Love. Smiling Pit Bull. End BSL. Just some of the stunning charms available from The Pit Bull Princess!

Jambo: Does The Pit Bull Princess ship internationally?
The Pit Bull Princess: Yes, almost all of our items can be shipped internationally.

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One of the concrete Pit Bull garden statues that will soon be available!

Jambo: What plans do you have for The Pit Bull Princess?
The Pit Bull Princess: Every year we attend events to support our local rescues and shelters. Most notably are Pitmas in July and National Pit Bull Awareness Day. As for new products, we are getting ready to launch new concrete Pit Bull garden statues – two of which were modeled after you Jambo! There will be four styles of statues: Pit Bull Angels (available with natural or cropped ears) and Pit Bulls (available with natural or cropped ears). I simply adore Jambo and I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting him and Louise one day!

Jambo:  Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions!  I can’t wait to see the new Pit Bull garden statues and I would love to meet The Pit Bull Princess in person!

pbprincess bruno essay
“I really like Bruno. He is a good dog.” One of the articles written by the children of Woestina Elementary School.

Please click on the following link to go to The Pit Bull Princess website and have a look at all the amazing products they have for sale!  www.thepitbullprincess.com

Make sure to “like” The Pit Bull Princess on Facebook.

The Pit Bull Princess is also on pinterest!:  https://www.pinterest.com/tpbprincess/

Jambo proudly wears his "Punish The Deed, Not The Breed" necklace from The Pit Bull Princess.
Jambo proudly wears his “Punish The Deed, Not The Breed” necklace from The Pit Bull Princess.

Jambo will only recommend companies whose products he has used (and loves) and who share the same commitment we have to training dogs in a humane manner, using up-to-date, science based, force-free methods;  who support breed neutral laws and help to shine a positive light on the “Bully” breeds.

You can find Jambo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

Jambo Recommends – Painted Paws Studio!

This week Jambo interviews Lillian Aguinaga, talented artist and owner of Painted Paws Studio.

On helping to break negative stereotypes, Lillian says: “I have painted more pitties and pit mixes than any other breed. I think that says something about pit bull owners – they love their dogs!”

Lillian and Bauer in the Painted Paws Studio.
Lillian and her “painting apprentice”, Bauer, in the Painted Paws Studio.

Jambo: Lillian, can you please give us a little bit of background information about yourself?
Lillian:  I grew up in Memphis, TN, and discovered my love of art and animals at a pretty young age. I grew up with my mom and we had multiple family pets, all rescued or inherited. My father is from Lima, Peru. When I was a kid, I would visit Lima once a year and I always remember family dogs. My grandmother lived in Boston and when I visited her, I would hang with her cat, Baby, and her dog, Cobol. The list goes on, but you can see that my love of animals is in the genes!
As far as my passion for art, this came from my genetics as well as my environment. My grandmother is an artist and my mom worked in an industry with many creative types. Thanks to support from my family and a fantastic high school art teacher, I was able to land a full-tuition, art scholarship to the University of Memphis. This is where I began my pursuit of a career in painting. I relocated to Lafayette, LA, and received a B.F.A. from the University of Louisiana – Lafayette in 2010. I currently live in New Orleans, LA, with my boyfriend, Adam, and my goofy dog, Bauer.

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Lillian “stalked” Bauer’s photos for two months and then drove all the way to Memphis to adopt him!

Jambo:  Where did the idea of Painted Paws Studio come from?

Lillian:  I credit my painting apprentice, Bauer, for the concept of Painted Paws. In 2011, I adopted Bauer from the Memphis Animal Services. He was picked up as a stray and brought to the Memphis Animal Services (a very high kill shelter) in July 2011. After being there for a couple of weeks without being adopted, he became sick. One of the volunteers knew this meant he would be euthanized, so she saved his life by deciding to foster him. I saw his photos on Facebook and just fell in love. After 2 months of “stalking” Bauer’s photos, I drove to Memphis , fell in love some more, and made it official.

To thank his foster parents, I painted a portrait of their dogs. After that, I began painting more pet portrait commissions and finally the concept of Painted Paws was born in July 2012. The decision to donate 10% of proceeds was crucial because it’s something close to my heart. After all, if it wasn’t for Bauer’s foster parents, he wouldn’t be here today.

One of Lillian's beautiful portraits:  Piper in her Hello Kitty collar.
One of Lillian’s beautiful portraits: Piper in her Hello Kitty collar.

Jambo: You donate a percentage of the proceeds from all commissions to Rescue Organisations. Can you tell us why this is important to you?
Lillian:  Yes, 10% of proceeds from every custom portrait benefit the nonprofit animal group of the customer’s choice. If the M.A.S. volunteer hadn’t fostered Bauer, he wouldn’t be alive today, and life would be so lame without him. Before adopting Bauer, I was already aware of the U.S.’s high euthanasia problem. Since adopting Bauer, he’s opened my eyes to even more: the importance of rescue, breaking negative stereotypes about shelter pets and specific breeds, and the treatment of pets in general. By donating to animal welfare and rescue organizations, more animals can be helped. I also can’t imagine painting all these pets without giving back to those in need. It wouldn’t feel right. In fact, it’s so important that giving 10% isn’t completely satisfying to me. Therefore, Painted Paws also makes many in-kind donations to auctions raising money for nonprofits, and we’ve also done some fundraising for different animal groups.
One of my favorite fundraisers was with StubbyDog’s spay and neuter campaign. During the span of two months, I doubled the usual donation to 20% of proceeds from commissioned portraits to benefit StubbyDog. Stubby also held a photo contest that raised funds for the campaign. The winners received custom portraits, which turned out to be great additions to my portfolio. I was very happy with the outcome of the fundraiser. It helped spay and neuter many pit bull type dogs, it gave me the opportunity to paint some pretty awesome pups, and I made a great friend out of it (Mitzi the Director of SD)!

Bauer in his "crochets for spays" bowtie from Stubbydog.org
Bauer in his “crochets for spays” bowtie from Stubbydog.org

Jambo: Do you think Painted Paws Studio is helping to break the negative stereotype of pitbull type dogs?
Lillian:  I think so and in more ways than one! I’ve painted more pitties and pit mixes than any other breed. I think that says something about pit bull owners – they love their dogs! Some of the pitties I paint look sweet, some look goofy, some look soulful. Most importantly, the paintings show off each dog’s individual personality. I think some people with a negative or indifferent view of pit bulls look at my paintings and see past the breed. They begin to view pitties in their true light, which is individual dogs and something to be adored and loved.
Another way we’re breaking stereotypes is with my canine painting apprentice. Although we’re not sure of Bauer’s breed, his features identify with a pit bull type dog and he’s often labeled a pit mix (which he’s very proud of). People that follow our Facebook page or Instagram account (@paintedpawsstudio) get to see Bauer in the studio with me. It shows a smart dog full of personality with an incredibly goofy side. They also see that he’s most dangerous when snuggling, because there is no way you could possibly say no to his snuggles!

handsome Bauer
Handsome Bauer striking a pose! Lillian says Bauer is “goofy, expressive, intelligent, perfectly imperfect, adorably disproportionate, and he is my whole heart.”

Jambo:  Who is your target market?
Lillian:  My target market is people who love their pets and people seeking unique gifts for animal lovers. If you love your pet, you’ll have it painted! Every dog, cat, horse, ferret, and guinea pig deserves to have its portrait painted and more than once.

Bauer Gentle Max Tyer on Red WM
Another beautiful portrait: “Gentle Max”. 10% of proceeds from every custom portrait benefit the nonprofit animal group of the customer’s choice!

Jambo:  I happen to know that your beautiful canine companion, Bauer, has his own Facebook page.  Can you tell me a little bit about him?

Lillian:  Ha! Yes, Bauer, my painting apprentice/canine companion has his own facebook page, called Bauer the Greystar. He is goofy, expressive, intelligent, perfectly imperfect, adorably disproportionate, and he is my whole heart. He has inspired me to begin Painted Paws, but he also inspires me everyday in little ways – to get out of bed, to go for walks, and to be more compassionate and empathetic in general.
When Adam and I first adopted Bauer, we knew training was important. My mom would refer me to Jean Donaldson and Sophia Yin articles all the time, but we also attended obedience classes. Bauer excelled in class, which is where we began to teach him tricks. He’s very food motivated and a quick learner, so his tricks became a way we bonded. Once Bauer learned to roll over, Adam and I said to each other, “What else can we teach him?” Bauer knows many tricks – he sneeze on cue, moonwalks, he plays dead, he knows how to “relax”, kisses on cue, etc. When we introduce people to Bauer, we show off his tricks, and he quickly wins those people over. Adam and I joke that if it weren’t for Bauer, we wouldn’t have friends. He’s just a lovable dog.

Mardi Gras painting: "Bauer, Damn It Feels Good to Be King !"
We absolutely love this Mardi Gras painting:  “Bauer, Damn It Feels Good to Be King !”

When we relocated to New Orleans, we moved to a much more urban setting – more people, more barking dogs behind fences, and lots of feral cats. On walks, Bauer’s reactivity increased to the point where managing it wasn’t enough. It was important to us that Bauer be with a force-free trainer. Therefore, with little money (artist’s budget and recent moving costs) we sought the help of LASPCA’s Training Supervisor, Kelly Cottrell, who also happens to be the co-founder of Your Pit Bull and You. I’ve followed YPBY since their beginning and Bauer was even Mr. March in their 2013 calendar. It was perfect timing, as YPBY was just about to launch a fundraiser to help fund training lessons for a dog in need of financial support. We were lucky enough to be the recipient of a Reactive Rover class and a private training session with Kelly!
Since the training sessions, Bauer’s reactivity has improved and I’m not just a “management ninja,” as Kelly puts it. We’ve made so much progress that we begin a group odedience class at the end of February. This way Bauer can have more exposure to strange dogs and get used to distractions. I made some pretty cool friends out of YPBY’s fundraiser, too – Kelly Cottrell and Lori Nanan are my girls! Oh, and that’s also where I discovered my love for you, Jambo.

"Ammo and Mookie".
“Ammo and Mookie” by Painted Paws Studio. Lillian says: ” Every dog, cat, horse, ferret, and guinea pig deserves to have its portrait painted!”

Jambo: What plans do you have for Painted Paws Studio?
Lillian:  Painted Paws is not even 3 years old, so I have many goals for the future. I’ve added some really cool products that feature different portraits to our online store, For instance, I have pit bull playing cards (one of my favorite products), cat coasters, portrait necklaces, and fine art prints all available for purchase.
I also frequent pet-related vending events around the Louisiana area. It’s a great way to increase exposure and meet animal-loving friends. My next vending event is at LASPCA’s Dog Day Afternoon at City Park in New Orleans on March 22nd.
A portion of my business comes from Facebook and other social media outlets, so I like to hold contests on the Painted Paws’ Facebook page. Those are super fun. I recently painted a Mardi Gras themed portrait of Bauer and it’s made me want to do more themed work in the future. I’m brainstorming now on specifics for a new photo contest involving themes.
Lastly, my goal is to have quarterly fundraisers to benefit different animal groups. The next fundraiser will be coming up in March/April and will benefit Natchitoches Hope For Paws (based in Natchitoches, LA).

Jambo:  I would like to say a very big thank you to you Lillian and to my “soul bro”, Bauer, for taking the time to answer my questions and telling us so much about yourselves!
If you would like to commission a portrait by Painted Paws Studio you can get in touch with them through their website.  Please click on this link:  Painted Paws Studio

Please don’t forget to give their Facebook page a big like!  You can find it here:  Painted Paws Studio on Facebook. and you can find Bauer’s page here:  Bauer the GreyStar

Bauer Jambo and Tessa WM
“Jambo and Tessa” by Painted Paws Studio!

Jambo will only recommend companies/people whose products he has used (and loves) and who share the same commitment we have to training dogs in a humane manner, using up-to-date, science based, force-free methods;  who support breed neutral laws and help to shine a positive light on the “Bully” breeds.

You can find Jambo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

Jambo Recommends – The Blue Book Series by Petra Lloyd!

This week Jambo interviews Petra LLoyd, talented artist and author of the Blue Books Series!

Petra has “always believed that education is a good way to make changes”.  I couldn’t agree with her more!  Through her writing she is helping to “make youngsters aware of the horrors that lie within the dog fighting world”.

Teacher, musician, artist and author,  Petra Lloyd,
Teacher, musician, artist and author, Petra Lloyd,

Jambo:  Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself, Petra?
Petra:  Yes, Jambo. I was born in the small market town of Abergavenny in South Wales. My parents both worked in the field of medicine but my interests were based on arts rather than sciences and I always enjoyed writing, making music and drawing and painting as a child. I decided to make a career of music making and teaching and went to music college in Cardiff for three years and then continued part-time study after starting to build my first music teaching practice. I have written articles on musical subjects over the years for various publications but my main occupation has been teaching music and directing workshops for singers as well as directing choirs and singing groups.
I moved to the lovely Isle of Anglesey about thirty years ago and have lived and worked here ever since. At the moment I am the musical director of a large mixed choir, The Isle of Anglesey Choral Society, as well as continuing to give music lessons.
When I am not making music, writing or doing art work I enjoy gardening, although I don’t find enough time to do it well.  I also keep a small flock of chickens, recently adding three ex-battery rescue hens to the little group. I have a wonderful dog, a Staffie of course, called Jacob and he has a small black cat as his best pal.

Jacob, Petra's beautiful Staffie and his best friend!
Jacob, Petra’s beautiful Staffie and his best friend!  This photo was part of the “We Are Lennox” Campaign.

Jambo:  What inspired you to write your first book “Blue”?
Petra:  Well, Jambo, I have owned two Staffordshire Bull Terriers in recent years and had become more interested in the breed and everything to do with it. I had it in mind to write a children’s book some years ago but, like so many other would-be authors, did not put pen to paper. One day I decided that it was no use just thinking about it and sat down, then and there, and started to write “Blue”, based on a subject that had both interested and disturbed me for some time.

I agree with Petra that education is the key to making changes.  I would like to see the "Blue" series of books in every school library so that young people realise how unacceptable dog fighting is.
I agree with Petra that education is the key to making changes.  She (and I) would like to see copies of the Blue Book Series in every school library so that young people realise how unacceptable dog fighting is.

Jambo:  Your second book, “Linus A Pup’s Tail”, is the story of one of Blue’s pups. Both books help to raise awareness in youngsters of the cruelty of the underground dog-fighting world. Why did you aim the books at young adults and what made you focus on the world of dog-fighting?
Petra:  I went on a riding holiday a few years ago with a friend to the Lake District and we visited the famous Appleby Horse fair whilst we were there. We chatted to many of the locals who advised us against going onto the travellers’ fields after dark as it wasn’t safe. I am not sure that this would have been so, but we were also told that dog fights were staged there and I certainly didn’t want to witness these. We did see DVDs on sale of dog fights though. It was a so-called sport that I thought had died out in Victorian times along with cock-fighting and bear-baiting.
Some research online revealed just how prevalent dog fighting is still. Naively, I had not understood how the world of dog fighting was run. I had assumed that fights were held between rival dog owners for their own amusement but this wasn’t so. It is far more organised. The gangs can be large and might include some very educated people with huge sums of money changing hands. The money launderers and drug dealers are no strangers to this underground world.
I have always believed that education is a good way to make changes, although it can take time, of course. If, through my writing, I could make youngsters aware of the horrors that lie within the dog fighting world, it might do something to prevent them becoming involved in it and eventually make it unacceptable to them and to future generations. Obviously I could not include much graphic detail in a novel written for young people but I hope that there is enough to give a sense of the evil that goes on.

Petra writes in an easy to read style and tells a good tale to share an important message.   Whether you are 15 or 50 you won't put her books down until you have read the very last page!   About Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Petra says:  "These dogs are brilliant with children and so intelligent too, and all of the ones that I have met seem to have a slightly naughty sense of humour."
Petra writes in an easy to read style and tells a good tale to share an important message.  You won’t put her books down until you have read the very last page!

Jambo:  Do you plan to continue the series?
Petra:  Yes, Jambo, my series will continue for at least another two books. I am writing the third book at the moment and in it Blue is becoming older and Linus, being a wise lad like yourself, is the first to realise that she needs help from time to time. Although he has escaped the dog fighters, things do not always run smoothly for poor Linus either but I cannot say more without revealing too much of the plot!

Jambo:  You donate a percentage of the proceeds from all sales of your book, “Blue” to Staffie Rescue. Can you tell us why this is important to you?
Petra:  Yes, Jambo, I really wanted to do something to help staffies after reading more about how misunderstood and abused a breed they are. I am not well off by any means; few musicians are, but I wanted to find a way to help, and making donations to http://www.staffierescue.co.uk, as and when the royalties arrived, seemed a good way to donate funds that I would not have otherwise.

Jambo:  Do you think your books are helping to break the negative stereotype of pit bull type dogs?
Petra:  I hope that this is so. It was a part of the reason for using staffies in my book series. I wish that we had not lost the old name of “nanny dog”. These dogs are brilliant with children and so intelligent too, and all of the ones that I have met seem to have a slightly naughty sense of humour.

Jambo:   Who is your target audience?
Petra:  My books are aimed at children of around ten years old and upwards who enjoy a good and easy to read story with a happy outcome. They have been enjoyed by readers of all ages though and so, although I suggest a lower age limit because of the subject matter, I have written and will continue to write them for readers of all ages, be they dog lovers or not.
Ideally I would like to get my books into every school in the UK and elsewhere too, in order to spread the word about what might be taking place in almost every town and city.

Petra Lloyd often helps DDA Watch by donating pet portraits to their online auctions.
I absolutely love this beautiful sketch which we commissioned from Petra. She donated all of the proceeds to DDA Watch to help dogs and their owners affected by Breed Specific Legislation!

Jambo:  Petra, as well as being a very talented author, you are an amazing artist and you often donate commissions of your pet portraits to help DDA Watch in the UK. Can you tell us why you support this organisation?
Petra:  Jambo, you are far too kind about my art work. I can make a very good likeness and usually manage to capture the character of the subject but I am not really a talented artist. I love sketching though and was very lucky to have had a wonderful art teacher at school, the artist Hugh Davies, who managed to teach us all to see things through an artist’s eye and to create decent images. I love working in charcoal, sketching pencils and pen and ink and sometimes will add some colour to a picture with a pale wash of water-colour or chalks. As well as dogs I like drawing interesting buildings and some still life as well as portraits. I have sketched other animals too but have a special love for dog pictures.
I have offered pet portraits to DDA Watch when they hold online auctions and like to help by raising funds in this way, that I couldn’t afford to give otherwise. I really dislike breed specific laws and feel that they are targeting the wrong people. I would rather see far tougher sentences passed on those involved in dog fighting and other forms of animal abuse. It seems to me that a lot of innocent dogs and their owners are being hurt by BSL rulings when the problem lies in another direction.

If you would like to commission a beautiful sketch of your "best friend" make sure to visit Petra Lloyd's website:  petraspictures.weebly.com!
If you would like to commission a beautiful sketch of your “best friend” make sure to visit Petra Lloyd’s website: Petra’s Pictures!

Jambo:  Do you ship internationally?
Petra:  I haven’t yet but would be happy to do so.

Jambo:  What plans do you have for the future?
Petra:  Well, I hope to be able to buy myself a small shepherd’s hut this summer to keep solely as a den for working on my sketches. My cottage is small and I have one room devoted to music making here and it would be wonderful to have my own space for nothing but art rather than using the kitchen table.
I am going to enter a national drawing competition this year too for the first time ever and will be delighted if any of my works make the shortlist.
I am aiming to complete and publish the third book in the series soon and then the fourth and probably final one at the end of 2015.
My music takes up a lot of my time of course but I am planning to get out and about on the island again as soon as the weather improves to do some more sketching, maybe of some of the interesting old farm buildings and small churches in the area.

Jambo:  I would like to say a very big thank you to Petra, for taking the time to answer all my questions.  I can’t wait to see what book 3 in the Blue Series has in store for Blue and Linus and I look forward to seeing many more beautiful sketches!

Please click on the image below to be directed to Petra’s website, Petra’s Pictures!:

As you can see, Petra doesn't just sketch dogs!  She recently completed this beautiful portrait of two young men!  Please click on the image to go to petraspictures.weebly.com
As you can see, Petra doesn’t just sketch dogs! She recently completed this beautiful portrait of two young men, proudly displayed on her website, Petra’s Pictures!

If you have a young teenager in your family please buy them a copy of Petra’s books (and make sure to read them yourself too!)  Let’s educate our youngsters about the reality of dog fighting and make sure it doesn’t continue into the next generation!  You could also buy a copy to donate to your local school and help Petra’s wish become a reality:  a copy of the Blue Book Series in every school!

A brief description of the Blue Books Series:

“Blue” is the story of a young boy and his dog Blue, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.   “Ben had always wanted a dog of his own. When his stepfather said that he was allowed one Ben couldn’t believe his luck. Was everything quite as it seemed for Ben and his wonderful dog, Blue, or was there something far more sinister taking place behind the scenes?”  You can purchase your copy from Amazon by clicking on the following link:  Purchase “Blue”.

“Linus – A Pup’s Tale” (Blue Books Book 2) is the beautifully written follow-up to Petra’s first book “Blue”.   “Blue and Linus are enjoying life in the small village of Pentrebach and Ben has settled into his new school too. All is well until Linus goes missing one day.  Will Linus be lucky a second time?”   You can purchase your copy of “Linus – A Pup’s Tale” by clicking on the following link:  Purchase “Linus – A Pup’s Tale”.

Admiring my portrait and reading "Blue"!
Admiring my portrait and reading “Blue”!

Jambo will only recommend companies/people whose products he has used (and loves) and who share the same commitment we have to training dogs in a humane manner, using up-to-date, science based, force-free methods;  who support breed neutral laws and help to shine a positive light on the “Bully” breeds.

You can find Jambo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

Jambo Recommends – Pajamas For PitBulls.

This week Jambo interviews Stephanie Karr, the creator and owner of “Pajamas For PitBulls”.

Stephanie works hard to dispel the negative image of pitbull type dogs as well as supporting her local rescue.  We love her company slogan:  “keeping pibbles warm “onesie” at a time!”

Stephanie with Thor and Zeus.  The "Pajamas For PitBulls" team!
Stephanie with Thor and Zeus. The “Pajamas For PitBulls” team!

Jambo:  Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself, Stephanie?

Stephanie:  I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with my hubby Art Collins and our two canine buddies, Thor (Amer. Staffordshire) and Zeus (Amer. PB Terrier) who is a rescue from California. Other members of the household include Mister Mookie, our feline friend; a Veiled Chameleon (Tattoo); a Brazilian Bird-eater, tarantula like spider, (Grizilda) and a King Snake (Phoenix).
I work full time and when Im not creating “onesies” or hanging out in my “zoo” I like to enjoy the outdoors, hiking and camping, and spending time with my family. I have two adult children and I am a soon to be first time Grandma!

Jambo:  Where did the idea of “Pajamas For PitBulls” come from?

Stephanie:  I have always owned “Pitties” and made them warm coats but, more recently, our boy Thor, who is very thin coated (almost naked in some areas) wasn’t loving the cold Canadian winters, with temperatures that can drop to -30C (-22F)! He was refusing to go outside to do his “business”, never mind dog park day and walks!  Having sewn my whole life, I designed a four legged whole body suit, “onesie”, open belly and bum, that allowed both boys and girls to do their outside business with no worry or mess – so the “jammies” can be worn inside and outside! That first prototype was in November 2013.

Thor, the "CED" (Chief Executive Dog), in the first pair of pajamas!
Thor, the “CED” (Chief Executive Dog), in the first pair of pajamas!

Jambo:  Did it take you long to come up with the perfect design?

Stephanie:  By the second pair I had the basic design I wanted. Sizing was my next big challenge, as all dogs come in different shapes and sizes.  At first I made Large ( 40-65 lbs) and XL (65-90 lbs) as I was catering to one particular rescue shelter and breed, the group we adopted Zeus from. I shared photos with the group and the response was overwhelming. Everyone wanted one….and Pajamas for PitBulls was born!
My design is always under review for improvements regarding size and fit. I listen to the feedback from my customers.

Jambo:  Who is your target market?

Stephanie:  In the beginning my main market was pitbull type dogs but I soon realized that everyone wanted them! 5lbs or 150 lbs! The design isn’t specific to “pitbulls”. It just started that way…  because my boy was so wimpy here in Canada!  I cater for all shapes, sizes and breeds as the standard design is easily adapted to fit all! I also do custom modifications for those special breeds with odd body shapes or “tripawds”.

Jambo:  Do you think “Pajamas For PitBulls” is helping to break the negative stereotype of pit bull type dogs?

Stephanie:  Yes, our “pajamas” assist in demystifying that “bad dog” image. They make them look softer and more approachable. Pitbulls are commonly misunderstood and not the vicious dogs that the media portrays them to be. They are very affectionate companions. They know when you are happy or sad. They are more than happy to snuggle or play. They are very loyal and smart.
People are definitely less judgemental, for example when we go to the dog park, people no longer see a “pitbull” they just see a cute dog in “jammies”! They bring out more character. They look so cute! People see the pajamas and before you know it they are saying hello and receiving lots of kisses, butt wiggles and tail wags! By the time they ask what breed of dog it is they have already seen that inside all that muscle is really a big slobbery dog full of love, who just wants to snuggle. Who could resist the way their cute little “pittie butts” look in the “jammies”?

Pajamas For PitBulls,  "keeping pibbles warm "onesie" at a time!"
Pajamas For PitBulls, “keeping pibbles warm “onesie” at a time!”

Jambo:  What plans do you have for “Pajamas For PitBulls”?
Stephanie:  I have plans for expanding my fabric choice to include cotton prints to better serve my customers who are in more southern climates where they don’t require warm fleece but want pajamas for cooler nights or for sun protection
I also plan to increase exposure in order to increase sales through new marketing and promotional opportunities. We make a donation from each pair sold to Prairie Pit Bull Rescue and other local shelters.  Increased marketing should lead to increased sales, allowing for more donations to rescues and shelters.
If I had my way there would be a pair of my pajamas on every dog on the planet! Being more realistic, I would like to provide pajamas for some of the millions of dogs in shelters or rescues in North America. I think that would be a step in the right direction.

“Pajamas For Pitbulls” have recently launched a Kickstarter Project. There are lots of “rewards” for anyone that wants to get involved.  Please click on the image below to be directed to their Kickstarter page.

Pajamas For PitBulls Kickstarter.
There are great rewards on offer for supporting the project!

You can find Pajamas For Pitbulls on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Pajamas4Pitbulls

Jambo loves his "jammies"!
Jambo loves his “jammies”!

 

Jambo will only recommend companies whose products he has used (and loves) and who share the same commitment we have to training dogs in a humane manner, using up-to-date, science based, force-free methods;  who support breed neutral laws and help to shine a positive light on the “Bully” breeds.

You can find Jambo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.