•     Chewie, a 9-year-old mixed breed from Puerto Rico, may not know how good she has it, but her owner, Ursula Cary sure does.
        “We met online,” says Cary. (So trendy.) And, much like the reported 35% of new marriages that begin online, this was a fairy tale beginning.
        According to Cary, she agreed to foster a puppy through an organization that rescues stray street dogs (locally nicknamed “satos”) from Puerto Rico. “The first time I met Chewie was in the cargo terminal at JFK Airport. I picked her up out of the crate, and she immediately ‘hugged’ me with her head against my neck. Our foster agreement quickly turned into permanent adoption.”
        Fast forward nine years and Chewie (who was not actually named after the Star Wars character) is still living the dream – having gone from slum dog to pampered pooch with a few fortuitous key strokes. Now she spends her mornings eating scrambled eggs (only on special occasions, Cary insists) and taking advantage of the off-leash hours at Central Park. She’s also Cary’s constant companion and a regular subject on Twitter (@ursulacary).
        Many satos in Puerto Rico are not so lucky. Typically, these dogs can be found ‘living’ on the streets, on beaches and under cars. People view the large population of satos (estimated to be around 250K on an island the size of Connecticut) as a public menace. Because of this they are often the victims of horrific abuse. According to The Sato Project, a majority of satos do not make it past their second birthday.
        For Cary, an editor at Rodale Books, it makes perfect sense that she would have such an inspired and happy ending to her story with Chewie. Because, of course, Chewie rescued her right back.
        “I probably should have named her Yoda,” Cary says. “She's all-knowing, and brings such positive energy into my life."

        Interested in adopting a sato of your own? Find more information at The Sato Project or Save A Sato.

     


    Photos by John Ha

    | | 1 Comment

  •     Extra special shout out to Beryl Shereshewsky and her crew at ABC.com for this super delicious story on Rare Breed -- "Haute Couture for Dogs."

        Click here for the full video and article.

    | | 0 Comments

  • Rare Breed Gourmet Dog Treats from John Ha on Vimeo.

     

       Ashley Beck’s food philosophy is simple: “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” In fact, in her role as contributing food blogger for Chef Marcus Samuelson (perhaps best known in New York for his Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster), she often writes about going back to basics. So, it’s no surprise that Beck’s foodie tendencies are also reflected in the way she cares for her 3-year-old Morkie (Maltese-Yorkshire Terrier mix), Coco.

       “The ingredients in Coco’s food are recognizable and healthy,” says Beck. She then shows me a bag of freeze-dried chicken chunks that she blends with Coco’s dry food, occasionally. The only ingredient listed on the package: “Chicken.”

       Mirroring American culinary trends, the pet food industry is also undergoing a major product overhaul. The new marketing terms of the moment for kibble include “locally sourced,” “raw,” “organic,” and “custom prepared / delivered.” And, why not? As I find myself juicing organic, local vegetables on a daily basis and selecting restaurants known for their farm-to-table sourcing practices, it was only a matter of time before my self-examination turned outward toward my pups.

       So, I did some research. Are the trendy ingredients I am prioritizing for myself at home and in my restaurant choices also a good choice for my dogs? Survey says: it depends, but there are definitely a few trendy ingredients that do seem to be more aligned with improved pet health. Duck eggs, for instance, now give many a celebrity chef a welcome break from the hen house. (Mario Batali serves duck egg with mojama and black truffles at his Spanish restaurant, Casa Mono – yum!) Duck eggs also happen to be quite healthy. They have twice the nutritional value of a chicken egg and stay fresher longer due to their thicker shell.

       Beets, also a popular addition to both haute cuisine and more mainstream fare, pack a powerful punch for cleansing a dog’s liver, according to holistic veterinarians.

       Kale, replacing spinach in foodie salads all over the country, is known to help prevent at least 5 types of cancer in humans and research suggests it does the same in animals. It also serves as both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant.

       With this new found knowledge, Ms. Beck, Coco and I decided to put our gastronomic skills to the test. We set out to make a healthy and delicious (of course) gourmet dog biscuit, featuring some of these hot ingredients of the moment. Not only that, but the biscuit would be just as good for our dogs as it would be for us.

       Impossible, you say? Think again. We not only made a seriously bad-ass biscuit, but had an amazing afternoon in the process. Check back next week for a Q&A with Beck and Coco (our dynamic culinary duo) and the gourmet biscuit recipe (all of which are words you can pronounce). In the meantime, catch us in action in the video above.  

       Did those on two legs or four legs enjoy these biscuits more? Stay tuned.

     

    | | 0 Comments

  •   Just a few days after Independence Day, it’s already about 3 degrees beyond brutally hot here in New York. These are not good times for the owners of short-nosed dogs. It’s the time of year when my once prized morning walk with Lola and Lucy now tends to end with me either:   a) apologetically peeling them from the clammy floor tile of an obscure storefront they bombarded, or b) not-so-apologetically yanking them away from an accumulated puddle of air-conditioning condensation they are attempting to imbibe. Shedding fur flies from their bodies like dandelion seed on the wind (make a wish!). And, due to the increased temperatures and humidity, the typically muted and adorable snorting and snoring sounds they make, have now reached the decibel required to set off car alarms.

       For pet owners like me, with sensitive companions, there is an ever-present search for respite from the city’s amped-up heat index. Sure, we hit the road to the beach during the summer like everyone else in town. But, we like to have a few options for the days strung together between weekends as well.

       When I’m trying to beat the heat on my own, I look for one of three refrigerated recreational options: 1) movie theaters, 2) restaurants or 3) museums/galleries. None of these are going to fly when you have a pet riding shotgun, unless of course they are wearing a yellow service dog vest.

       Ah, but wait! That is not entirely true. There is exactly one art gallery in New York City that purports to be dog-friendly, and indeed, when I strolled in the other day with Frenchie in tow, they welcomed us with open arms. The William Secord Gallery (http://www.dogpainting.com) on 76th and Park Avenue, is not only dog-friendly (read: water and biscuits, at the ready) but it’s completely dog-centric.

    (Photo courtesy of William Secord Gallery website)

       Artfully lined from floor to ceiling, every painting and sculpture in the place contains a sublimely depicted four-legged sitter. While most of the art represents work from the 19th century, there are a few contemporary pieces on display as well. The gallery also represents artists including Pamela Hall, Christine Merrill and Bruce Padgett (“modern masters,” according to the museum website), for those who’d like to commission a puppy portrait of their own.

       Between scenes of regal English Setters hunting on a reedy field, to pampered King Charles Spaniels lounging on tufted pillows, we were in the midst of cool, cultured, pet-lovers heaven! Though it was a subdued afternoon when we dropped in, apparently the gallery sees its share of crowds (...the week of Westminster, hello!?).

       After an enriching afternoon basking in the cool chill of conditioned air with my pup, I left feeling slightly more learned, refined and dignified than when I arrived. That is until dragging Lucy out of a pile of garbage bags about three blocks down Madison Avenue.

       Nice while it lasted.

    (Lucy gets foxy)

    | | 0 Comments

  •    Bubbles. Loved blowing 'em as a kid. Love drinking 'em now (in a slightly more adult fashion). And, since summer is finally in full swelter here in New York City, relief comes with the fact that "sparkling" is a consistent theme on many a summer bar menu. That said, my obsession with carbonation doesn't stop at the bar (anyone with an at-home soda machine knows what I'm talking about). While technically designed to carbonate water, one may be tempted to use aforementioned at-home soda machine to experiment with a few other choice beverages from time to time. (Like I'm the first one to think of it.) Got a summer BBQ coming up? Try giving a few old standards a bubbly new twist.

       With that, I'll give you a few of my favorite puppy-themed cocktails, ready for their carbonated refresh!

     

    Bichon Frisé (this is a Greyhound with a bit of French attitude)
    1 ounce vodka
    1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
    2 ounces freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice (um...carbonated)
    Ice
    1 lemon wedge

     

    1. Combine the vodka, St-Germain and ice in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lemon wedge into the shaker and then add the wedge to the mixture.
    2. Shake vigorously and pour over fresh ice into a chilled cocktail glass.
    3. Pour in carbonated grapefruit juice. Serve.

     

     

    Salty Chihuahua
    1 shot tequila (try something blanco)
    Grapefruit juice (carbonated!!!!)
    1 dash salt

    1. Pour tequila over ice. Fill glass with sparkling grapefruit juice and add a dash of salt.

     

    Colorado Bulldog (no refresh required)
    1 ounce vodka
    1 ounce Kahlua
    Splash of cream
    Splash of cola or root beer (already bubbly!)

     

    1. Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur in a tall glass, filled with ice.
    2. Fill with equal amounts of milk or cream and cola.
    3. Stir well. Serve.

    | | 0 Comments

  •   As many of you can probably attest, mornings follow a pretty standard routine when you have dogs. I'm one of those insanely annoying people who LOVES mornings, especially because of that routine. Feel free to punch me in the face. Seriously, do it.

       My mornings start around 5:45 AM when Lola and Lucy begin to stir, typically waking me by stepping on my neck. Somehow, the dogs started out on the floor the previous evening but are now cracking dawn with fresh drool on my pillow. I get up, feed them and get them all geared up in collars and leashes for our morning walk. I gear myself up too and make sure to remember my favorite python coffee sleeve, which is an essential. (Putting on a bra is optional for me in the mornings. Coffee sleeve is not.)

       During our walk, we stop by one of a few neighborhood coffee shops to grab some java. 71 Irving is a personal favorite. Juggling two headstrong dogs and a steaming hot coffee is no small feat, but I make it happen daily with only a few third-degree scaldings on record.

       Walking the quiet, tree-lined streets around Gramercy Park is a morning experience not to be missed. The girls greet other dogs and sniff the flower beds framing the park, and I chat with grumpy neighbors also out at this ungodly hour. Oh yes, the caffeine has already begun to set in.

       After the walk, it's time for yoga. Probably weird to others that I practice yoga with the coffee still in my kung foo grip. Judge if you must, but at least I am working out (sort of). I break out the mat in my living room while Lola and Lucy take turns demonstrating downward dog. They have envious form, though I am sure they are equally impressed by my continued coffee-balancing skills.

       Post-warrior pose, I look at the clock: 7:30 AM. I'm highly caffeinated, stretched and ready to roll into work. Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow.

    | | 0 Comments

  •     No one really wants to know how the sausage gets made. I sure don't. For one thing, it ain't pretty. It's also the opposite of interesting. But, despite all that, here we are with a few real life shots of me in all my DIY glory that will not go unpublished. (No harm done because this blog has like three readers, including my mom. Thanks, Google Analytics.)

       Yes, I do spend my summer weekends holed-up inside making leather goods. The fact that I have little to no social life is fairly clear. From time to time I manage to open a window in order to to see other people outside having an amazing time (also because the fumes get quite aggressive if I keep them closed). Fortunately, with two dogs I have to venture into direct daylight every four to six hours, so summer will not be a complete stranger to me. There's always next year.

     

     


                 

    | | 0 Comments

  •    June is in full swing, meaning wedding season is upon us. Whether you are the betrothed or if you will simply be among those forever holding your peace, it's important to upstage everyone else...err...look your best. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how great the Rare Breed python belts look cinching the waist of a swanky summer dress. But, what you might not know is that Rare Breed provides custom wedding collars for your little four-legged flower girl or ring-bearer.

       At my wedding last year, Lola looked like such an angel with her silk flowered collar (pictured). That said, she quickly destroyed the angel image when she jumped onto the name card table and broke free into a full sprint around the ballroom during our first dance. My wedding planner was not pleased, but at least Lola looked good.

       So, if you are interested in a custom collar for your wedding, please contact us at customerservice@rarebreedofstyle.com. We can work with you to design and produce something that will look amazing and go with your theme. Training your pooch on acceptable wedding etiquette--that's up to you.

     

    | | 0 Comments

  •    This morning, I saw an article headlined "Proud To Be Pale" published by The Daily Mail Online. Celebrities are actually trying to be pale now, apparently. This is amazing news for me given that I am naturally the color of skim milk and have spent my whole life trying to figure out when the corpse look would be in fashion. Slather on that sunscreen, people, because that day has finally arrived! (Thank you, Downton Abbey.)

       And, by the way, feel free to slather the sunscreen on your pooch as well. Dogs can get sunburned, especially on areas of their body where their fur is thin (tops of ears and nose). You shouldn't use sunscreen for humans on your pet, however, because it may be toxic when licked. One pet-specific sunscreen product is made by Doggles (yes, the same company that makes the protective eyewear for dogs), and there are a few others as well.

       By being careful about sun exposure, both you and your pup can be fashionably pasty together (and healthy, of course).

     

    | | 0 Comments