It’s that time of year again…

Published on 20. Sep, 2012 by in News

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Probably one of my favorite things is hearing the “humble beginnings” stories from other small businesses. If you’re a small business owner that looks up to the achievements of other more accomplished companies, it’s always great to be reminded that, they too, had to start somewhere. Muffinhead is a young company, having only been in business for 2 years. We started with a chunk of my own savings, and the generous donations of a few friends and family members that were kind enough to “invest” in my dream. Muffinhead’s first workshop was essentially the living room of my very small Portland apartment. It has since graduated to a dedicated workshop, but it’s still not a warehouse space and I still don’t have a big fancy corner office in a high-rise (not that I see Muffinhead heading in that particular direction, but you get the idea). I would come home from my day job after an 8-10 hour workday, and cut dog jackets into the wee hours of the morning, before going to bed and waking up the next day to start the process all over again. This, of course, was before I had a business partner or helpers. I did it all, and it was exhausting and exciting. Everyone I worked with got to go home at night and kick their feet up and watch TV, and I got to go home and see my dreams materialize in my teeny apartment. I barely told people in the office that I had a dog jacket company. I remember how amazing I felt when, one day I brought a few jackets into the office and my coworkers went nuts (in a good way) when they saw them. I don’t know what they had pictured, but the jackets that we make certainly exceeded their expectations.

So, yes, I love heart-warming stories of “the little companies who could.” It makes one think of all of the possibilities their own company has for greatness. It’s inspiring! In a lot of ways, I think that most small businesses have their own “underdog” stories to tell- -and who doesn’t love an underdog!?

As it’s now the end of September, we’re at the very beginning of “Dog Jacket Season.” Some people are buying school clothes for their kids, and some people are buying dog jackets for their pups. To each their own, but either way, I know what this time of year means for me. Dog jacket season typically looks like this for Amy and I: 2-4 days a week, depending on need, Amy and I congregate at the Muffinhead workshop and start buzzing through the Muffinhead Fabric closet to make thoughtful pairings for the optimum warm, water-resistant, cool-looking jacket. Usually we drink a bit of red wine and listen to music (or watch old movies), and our mostly-quiet focus is only sporadically broken when one exclaims to the other, “Oh my GOD, look how cute this jacket is!!!!” Then we both gush and get excited and continue on as we were before. Once we have a full order, we drop it off to the manufacturer and we’ve established a pact of sorts that neither of us is allowed to look at the completed jackets until we can do it together….essentially it’s Christmas morning, and we really look forward to it.

When I look at a Muffinhead dog jacket, this is part of what I see and it makes me really happy. My hope is that regardless of how Muffinhead grows and evolves, that this is always true- -but I really can’t imagine it any other way.

If you need Amy and I from now through March, here’s where we’ll be:

The back corner of the workshop. Note tha the walls are "muffinhead green." Also, FYI, our lamps, tables, etc. are all secondhand.

The sewing machine/table

Amy and I like to hang random and inspiring things on the walls. I love this monster blanket and I'd love to turn it into a jacket.

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Fall 2012 Muffinhead Vintage Fabric Preview

Published on 06. Sep, 2012 by in News

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The end of the August would be a little sadder for me, as I bid the summer farewell, if not for the promise of all of the girthy fashion-tastic “September Issues” of all of my favorite fashion magazines. Who doesn’t love Fall Fashion?! This month, as I was thumbing through Vogue and Elle, I rekindled the inspiration that I derive from the fabrics themselves. With regards to Muffinhead, I realize that for the past two years I’ve sort of cautiously shied away from using some of the more daring (daring for dog jackets) vintage fabrics that I’ve been finding, in lieu of using sturdier solid-color or lightly-patterned shells and linings. I knew the vintage fabrics were special when I saw them, but I was reticent that they may not resonate with the ‘dog crowd,’ but I saved them anyhow. I love their textures, their colors, the great vintage patterns, and all of the invented notions of the life that some of these vintage pieces may have had in their previous incarnation. Well, shy-no-more! They’re coming out in full-force this Fall at Muffinhead!

Also, so as not to offend our vintage enthusiasts (of which I count myself) please allow me to clarify that we aren’t destroying vintage pieces to make dog jackets- -we only consider repurposing vintage pieces that have some unmendable flaws. (If they are flawless, they have a way of finding their way into my own closet.) I’m really excited to see how our customers react to some of the florals that Amy and I will be introducing this upcoming Fall/Winter/Spring.

Here’s a mini preview of some of our favorite fabrics:

Vintage Floral Sheets, and aforementioned floral velour jacket. You can see the reflection of one of our fabric closets in the mirror.

One of the pictured bedsheets has such a GREAT vintage print that it reminds me of wallpaper from the 1960's, like this great retro mural (wallpaper?) on the wall above.

I mourn the loss of this as a jacket, but I'm SO excited to see it as a Muffinhead jacket. It will literally be the only one in the world like it, and there's something to be said for being that unique.

I used this vintage suit tweed in last year's Boutique's Unleashed event in Portland, OR but there is still some left that I'm dying to use.

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10 Reasons to Spay/Neuter your Pet

Published on 06. Mar, 2012 by in News

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This was adapted from the Winter 2011 Healthy Pet Magazine article with the same title written by Andrew Kaplan, DVM who is also the founder of The Toby Project. The message is important and worth sharing.

1.) Overpopulation: Between 6-8 million animals enter shelter facilities each year, and half of those never find homes. Adoption alone will not solve the problem (nor will the less favorable alternative, euthanasia).

2.) Reduced Risk For Breast Cancer: If you spay your female dog or cat before her first heat cycle, the incidence of malignant breast cancer is reduced to virtually zero.

3.) Reduced Risk For Uterine Infections: Spayed dogs and cats rarely develop uterine infections, because they are generally progesterone mediated. Uterine infections are life threatening and are resolved by spaying. Typically, they occur in older dogs, which makes the procedure higher risk.

4.) Female Heats Are Annoying (I’m paraphrasing): Female cats will cry out all night for a mate, at the detriment of your own restful sleep schedule. I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve been privy to this from neighborhood cats, or possibly your own cat. I like sleep, so this would be a big problem for me. Additionally, female dogs bleed for 3 weeks every 6-8 months, which is messy and to add to that, during those 3 weeks you’re trying to fend off neighborhood male dogs who will go to great lengths to get to your female dog in heat….and Fido can be kind of a jerk if you’re coming between he and his lady dog friend.

5.) NO Testicular Cancer Or Prostatic Cysts: Simply put, “a neutered dog can’t develop testicular cancer.” The instance of Prostatic Cysts decreases dramatically in the absence of testosterone (from neutering). Also, like Uterine Infections, Prostatic Cysts typically occur in older males- -making the procedure to remedy the situation riskier.

6.) Fido Is Less Of A Flight Risk (paraphrasing again): Male dogs and cats are far less likely to wander in the absence of the drive to search for a mate. If the thought of your dog running around busy streets and either getting hurt, stolen, or picked up by Animal Control is sobering or scary….consider neutering.

7.) Less Territory Marking: Intact males like to mark their territory and sometimes that extends to your sofa, your curtains, your pant leg (this has actually happened to me) or your bed. Fun! I could tell you stories about when I first acquired my dog, Xavier who liked to pee on everything in the house before he was neutered, but I’ll save that tale (tail? :)) for another time.

8.) Less Aggressive Behavior/Fights: Neutered male dogs are less likely to exhibit dominant, testosterone-based aggressive behaviors that lead to human bites, dog fights, etc…..and summarily, vet and doctor bills, potential litigation, etc.

9.) Puppies/Kittens Cost Money: No one will refute that puppies and kittens are cute, I mean, of course they are! BUT, in addition to contributing to pet overpopulation, you will need to feed them, take them to the vet, your female (depending on the breed) may need vet car to assist with the delivery or may need vet care following- -and you’re on the hook for caring for the little things until they are ready to find new homes (8-10 weeks), that is….if you’re able to find a home……

10.) Not Enough Homes: If your litter of puppies/kittens aren’t all able to find homes, then what? Do you bring them to the local shelter (p.s. the surrender fee will also cost money)? What if they don’t find homes at the shelter? Can you picture your beloved family pet’s progeny being euthanized because the shelter is full? Eek! I can’t! Also, bringing puppies or kittens to a shelter means that you’re likely contributing to an older dog or cat not getting adopted.

I apologize for the graphic images below, but this is essentially what the result of overcrowded shelters begets:


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People and Pups with Guest Blogger Josie!

Published on 06. Mar, 2012 by in News

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My good friend, Josie works very closely with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society– -a local no-kill shelter that we are very big fans of here at Muffinhead. Josie has such amazing talents at capturing the human/dog bond that rather than try to compete with her by attempting to capture similar photos- -we just asked her if she would capture some of these moments for our blog, and she was kind enough to agree (thanks again, Josie).

The human/dog bond is one of the things we celebrate most in this world, and it was our hope with jackets to keep our pups dry and warm that we would have more opportunities and less hurdles to sharing time with our favorite canine companions.

Thanks to Josie for taking these amazing photos- -and we look forward to see what she’s able to capture in the future.

In the meantime, we’re at a complete loss for what to call Josie’s blog segment/contribution- -can you help us?!

Beach stroll

Secrets DO make friends! Tee Hee!

"Heyyyy....Where did everyone go?!"

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Muffinhead Photo Shoot, Fall 2011

Published on 09. Feb, 2012 by in News

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Last Fall, we decided that it was time for some updated photos of Muffinhead jackets in action, so we enlisted the help of our very talented friend Lenny Gotter to shoot some photos of our friends’ dogs sporting some very cool Muffinhead jackets. Even though I’ve lived in Portland for five years, I had only just recently visited Laurelhurst Park and immediately fell in love, so it seemed like the perfect place (and appropriate weather) to photograph the jackets. Big thanks to Rhoda, Kink and Xavier (and also the humans: Jesse, Holly, Ruby- -and of course, Lenny)! Take a look!

Emily's dog, Xavier

  

"All the leaves are brown...."

Wardrobe change for Rhoda- -now she's sporty!

 

 

It's hard being a model

Who doesn't love plaid!?

Rhoda meets Kink. Kink doesn't know he's small.

There were no treats involved in the making of this pose ;)

Rhoda was pretty excited by a new friend she met
Rhoda doing her sassy stroll

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When we say “recycled” and “local”…

Published on 08. Feb, 2012 by in News

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Sometimes I think that there are so many “green” terms that, at some point, they all blend together and lose a bit of their meaning in the process (frankly, I’d like to start making some up and see if they catch on). One of these words is the word “recycled” and I’m talking specifically about how Muffinhead uses it on this website and in our marketing.

There is a very real “green” movement in this country and, well, it’s trendy. Everyone loves this new environmental bandwagon- -even people who weren’t necessarily fans before have joined the crusade, because it’s something that’s gained enough momentum to be sort of “cool” and mainstream. Be that as it may, we’ll take it! Any vehicle to get people jazzed about the environment and trying to preserve it is fine by us!

BUT, for the reasons cited above, I forgot/forget that the word “recycling” might invoke the wrong idea or visual about how we “recycle” human textiles and make them in to dog jackets. It isn’t a process like melting glass down or reducing paper back to a pulpy state- -we are simply taking an existing article of clothing (or blanket, or sleeping bag, etc.), washing it with something that won’t irritate your pup’s skin or be destructive to our environment (there’s that word again), and then cutting it up and turning it into a dog jacket. So, technically, and to be clear….we are not recycling textiles in a traditional sense, we are upcycling (which is such a new word that my spellcheck has identified it as non-existent), re-using, or re-purposing the textiles. We are taking one thing, cleaning it, altering it only via scissors and thread and then VOILA(!)- -not only is something that was discarded given new life, but it will hopefully improve your dog’s life when it’s raining or cold (or when your dog wants to look AWESOME).

Now for the “local” bit. From time to time, people from outside of Muffinhead’s home base (i.e. Portland, Oregon) will question the “local” bit of our slogan/mantra. Is Muffinhead local to Portland, OR? Yes. Is Muffinhead local to the Pacific Northwest? Yes. Is Muffinhead local to Old Orchard Beach, Maine? No. Similarly, it’s not local to every town and city in the world.

I promise that we weren’t trying to trick you. As one might have it, “local” is also sort of a buzzword right now also. People are loving LOCAL- -but why wouldn’t they? Don’t we all want to support our neighbors and neighborhood shops/farmers/businesses, etc.? It’s rhetorical- -of course we want that! So, that being said, we aren’t trying to capitalize on the popularity of “local”- -when we started we thought it would stay very small and local to where we live in the Pacific Northwest. But, now that we’re growing and we’ve entered into markets outside of Oregon and Washington, we realize how much we want to continue to feel like a small company- -with products that are individually handmade with love, and all related products and services that are made by other small businesses. Like many people, we like the idea of something being made by your neighbors and friends, and then sold in small shops that are run by individual people who contribute to the richness of your particular town or city.  (To be redundant with our above bit on “recycled” and the processes referenced there…) Our products, for instance, are sourced by Amy and I, then washed by one of us, then cut, then sewn by an amazing business in Portland, OR that is also run by two awesome, inspiring female business owners, then gushed over by Amy and I in a way that could only be described as “Christmas Morning-esque,” and then delivered to the local businesses of Portland, OR and beyond. We are a small business, and we love small businesses. So, to make a very long story short- -we are local to Portland, OR and the Pacific NW – -but regardless of our growing size, we’d like to keep the feel of a small, local company. Local to some, local-feeling to everyone (hopefully), and while we may not be local to you, we encourage you to support your own local businesses.  -Emily

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Helpful Tips for an Itchy Dog!

Published on 08. Dec, 2011 by in News

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Having worked in a veterinary clinic for the past 3 years, you could say that I’ve seen a variety of ailments and conditions, ranging from diabetes, to cancer, to the strange and unkown. The one thing I never thought I would see so much of are skin issues. Understandably, animals have fur, and that in itself can cause itching- -however, alleriges are something our furry friends can be predisposed to based on breed, or they can aquire them with age. Most of the time, our clients come to us and report their pet has been constantly scratching itself. At that time, we discuss the three main allergies: FLEAS, ENVIRONMENT, and FOOD.
 
FLEAS:
Most people are quick to respond with, “There’s no way my dog/cat has fleas!” Unfortunately, we find that 40% of the time, their pets are suffering from a flea infestation. However, there is a difference between HAVING fleas and being ALLERGIC to fleas. Many animals carry fleas, and while they are an extreme nuisance to the pet (as they do cause itching), they do not cause fur loss, scabbing on skin, or extreme distress. An animal who is allergic to fleas has what is called flea allergy dermatitis. Every time a flea feeds, it excretes saliva. A dog that has flea allergy dermatitis is actually allergic to the flea’s saliva, and it will cause extreme irritation of the skin, causing the pet to scratch uncontrollably. Generally, treatment consists of a topical or oral flea medication (such as Advantage or Comfortis), possible cortisone injection to aide with itching (and to afford the animal some comfort), and a treatment of the home and yard with premise sprays. Many people believe that flea baths are all that are necessary to treat fleas, but it only kills the fleas that are ON the animal, not the eggs that have dropped off the pet and into the environment (aka your house, yard and/or vehicle, etc.), only to hatch out and jump right back on the pet. Sometimes treatment for fleas can take several months. I generally tell clients it is best to treat year-round because once you have fleas, it can be an aggrivating process to get rid of them.

ENVIRONMENT:
In most cases, once flea allergies are ruled out (with a handy flea comb!), we will discuss possible outdoor/environmental allergies. We often see these pets during the warmer months when pollens from trees and other plants run rampant. These can be hard to treat because it is certainly difficult to avoid mother nature, especially when our companions use the outdoors to eliminate and get exercise! We encourage clients to use a warm washcloth to “wipe” their pet’s fur after coming in from the outdoors. Most people think that outdoor allergies occur because we breathe in the pollens, which is true, but many are surprised to find that pollens are also absorbed through the skin. Using the washcloth to wipe fur and paws clean helps reduce the chance of pollens being absorbed. Some pets are severe enough that we may use cortisone to reduce itching and provide comfort. We also encourage owners to bathe pets regularly with aloe/oatmeal rinse if they have allergies. This helps moisturize and soothe irritated skin.

Some environmental allergies occur IN the home as well. Dogs can be allergic to dust mites just like humans. We like to advise owners to vaccuum/clean areas where dust accumulates the most on a regular basis. Another irritant can be laundry detergent or fabric softener. When you clean bedding or toys, use a hypoallergenic/mild, perfume free detergent. Many dogs aquire contact rashes from laying on bedding washed with harsh soaps.
For environmental allergies, there is an option for finding out exactly what your dog is allergic to called Intradermal Skin Testing. Intradermal testing can only be performed if the suspected allergen is not food-related. The allergy skin test is similar to human allergen testing, where substances are injected under the skin, and reactions are monitored. Your veterinarian/animal dermatologist would shave a patch of fur and inject a variety of allergen substances. During this period of testing the dog should not be on other treatments for weeks or months. When a positive reaction is noted a treatment is developed, where periodically the dog is injected with a low level of the allergen in an attempt to reduce slowly the pet’s sensitivity to the allergen.
 
 
FOOD:
This is the most difficult allergy to diagnose right away, and can take weeks to months for succesful treatment. Dogs are not born with food allergies, but can develop sensitivity to ingredients in dog food such as beef, pork, chicken, milk, whey, eggs, fish, corn, soy, wheat and preservatives. A dog can aquire a food allergy even if he has been fed the same food his/her ENTIRE life! A food/diet trial works by removing food that the dog was eating when the reaction occurred, and feeding foods that the dog has not tasted before. Generally, the food should contain only 1 protein and 1 carbohydrate. For instance, if your dog has eaten chicken and rice for his whole life, foods like duck and potato or salmon and green pea would be good options for a food trial. The process can take several weeks of feeding different foods and watching for reactions. However, foods should not be changed drastically. Instead, foods should be switched over a period of 3-5 days to avoid gastrointestinal upset. Eventually, if there is a positive found for a food allergy, the pet owner would need to purchase a dog food without this ingredient for future feeding. Sometimes, store-bought diets with limited protein/carbohydrates still don’t work well, and a hypoallergenic or prescription diet is necessary.
If the climate permits, the best time to perform a food trial is during cold weather months (for instance, November-March.) The reason for this being that in colder months fleas and outdoor pollens can be eliminated as a likely cause for skin allergies. The number one thing to remember when doing food trials is that a change will not happen overnight. It takes patience to see results, but it will pay off in the end to have a happy, itch-free dog!

Again, these are just three main reasons your dog may itch. As with all concerns regarding your dog’s health- consult your veterinarian before trying any treatments/methods to aide skin irritations.

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Preview of Muffinhead’s Fall Order

Published on 09. Nov, 2011 by in News

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Well, we picked up our Fall order from our local Portland, OR manufacturer yesterday and we were just so thrilled with how the jackets turned out! I know this probably sounds silly, but I think our jackets get cuter with each production run. Have a look at some of our favorites!

Also, if you’re interested in where you can purchase your Muffinhead jacket, click here for our retailers!

Made from a fleece blanket

Made from a sleeping bag and a fleece blanket

Made from a fall/winter jacket and an insulated flannel shirt/jacket

Made from a jacket and an insulated flannel shirt

Made from a sleeping bag and a duvet cover

Made from a children's jacket

Made from two different spring/fall jackets

Made from an insulated flannel shirt and a canvas-like jacket

Made from a fleece baby blanket and a windbreaker

Made from jeans and a fleece coat

Made from a sleeping bag and faux fur

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Hiking with your Pup in the Pacific NW

Published on 25. Oct, 2011 by in News

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I think we can all agree that the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place, and it also has some of the best hiking trails a person could ask for. For those of you that are lucky enough to call Oregon home, we’ve put together a list of great hikes to go on with none other than man (and woman’s) best friend- your dog!

Like Emily’s dad always said, “be alert, don’t get hurt.” Before going out on any hike it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. Here’s how:

 1. Wear the proper gear! For rugged hikes, make sure your four-legged friend has proper paw protection. There are many great options for “boots” your dog can wear to keep him/her comfortable on rugged terrain. We suggest RuffWear’s BarknBoots. Also, ensure your pet is protected from the elements, such as rain (c’mon, it’s the Pacific Northwest, remember?), sun and heat. For rain- keep your dog protected with a rain jacket, perhaps one made by Muffinhead?! For sun/heat- try to stick to amply shaded trails and consider purchasing ice pack collars or vests. For DIY cooling, try soaking a T-shirt or bandana in cool water and placing on your dog.

2. Keep hydrated! Plan on bringing enough water to get you AND your dog through your hike. Again, vests or doggie hiking packs can be used to carry water, as well as poop bags and treats! Just be sure to remember that dogs should carry no more than 30% of their body weight.

3. Map it out! It is important to make sure you know the trail before starting a hike. Carry a map, or check the trailhead for information regarding the length of the trail, possible detours/construction, etc. Also, get an idea of how long it will take you to hike a given area. Consider the time of day you embark on a hike and how much daylight you will have. Allow yourself extra time and never attempt to complete a trail knowing you will not have ample light to do so.

4. Leash ‘em! Most of us have dogs that are obedient and do great off-leash. However, dogs that usually come when called may not if tempted by a running squirrel, rabbit, or other wild animal. Depending on where you are, there could be other larger animals that would consider your pet a viable option for dinner. There are always possible dangers lurking on any trail and no one wants to endanger the lives of their dog companions, so remember to leash your dog when hiking.

So, now that we’ve covered the essentials, it’s time to have fun! Here’s some of our favorite places near Portland to bring our canine companions:

1. Forest Park– This one is an obvious choice for any Portlander, if only because of its location. It’s a forest IN the city! It has several easily accessible trails that range from easy to moderate in difficulty. We especially enjoy the Wildwood Trail, which spans 42 miles and enables you to explore various parts of the trail throughout the year.

2. Angel’s Rest– This is a great trail located in the Columbia River Gorge. The hike takes about 3 hours to complete and has an elevation of 1,590 feet with minimal elevation gain and moderate difficulty. However, there is limited shade, so be sure to take the neccesary precautions to keep your muffinhead cool!

3. Dog Mountain– Also located in the Gorge, this trail is best hiked April-June due to the gorgeous display of wildflowers that can be found during those months. The trail is a 7.5 mile loop with an elevation of 2,948 feet and can be considered strenuous at times. Be sure you and your dog are in good physical condition before embarking on this hike. If both of you are, this trail is well-worth the difficulty just to see the flowers!

4. Cape Lookout (North Trail)– This is a great trail located in Tillamook which offers beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean along the way. It is a 5.2 mile hike with moderate difficulty and usually takes about 2-3 hours. Approximately 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail begins dropping and edges briefly along the top of cliffs—the drop-offs are screened and cushioned by salal and shore pine. Occasional gaps in the salal fringe permit glimpses of the beach below.

Again, these are just a few of the trails that the team here at Muffinhead enjoy. You can check out more dog-friendly hikes at www.localhikes.com

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Photos from the Halloween Bully Parade

Published on 22. Oct, 2011 by in News

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We are always so thrilled to be a part of the Portland Pit Bull Project’s Monthly Bully Walk around Portand, Oregon’s Southwest Waterfront. This past Sunday, it was the perfect autumn day with crisp air, multi-colored leaves on the ground and even the sun made a special appearance (which is no small thing for us in the Pacific Northwest).

I don’t know what the official tally was, but I beleive there were about 60 dogs (of all breeds) walking in the PDX Pitbull Project’s Halloween Parade- -even the local news showed up (thanks again to KOIN 6 for such a nice little segment).

Anyone is welcome to join the Monthly Bully Walk which is the first Sunday of each month at 11 am in Portland’s SW Waterfront (under the Morrison Bridge). It’s a great socializing event, it’s a good mixer for local dog lovers, and it’s a great way to introduce adoptable dogs to potential adopters. I know that many local rescues and shelters typically bring a dog or two each Sunday.

We hope to see you at the next Bully Walk!

Emily & Amy

She's a dainty flower

There were 3 of these adorable little pitties. We thought they looked a bit like manatees.

"I just really love you, Mom!"

The WINNER of the costume contest

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