Thursday, 15 June 2017

Finding Miss Nelly Bear Jones...

Our beloved Holly died this year aged 15.  I am still too raw to speak of her for too long.  But after several months of just Gus and I I felt the time had come for a new PupStar to join our pack.
I did not completely plan this but I found i had started looking at many rescue centres and their wonderful dogs looking for new homes.
At first I was automatically drawn to dogs that looked just like my Holl Doll.  But I managed to stop myself and realise what I was doing in time.  To get a replica of Holly would, in my opinion have been a disaster.  Holly was my dream dog, as a character and her physical beauty and soul.
She may have left me but she will be with me forever.  Now was time to discover a new character and give all the love I can to the new baby.
When Gus came to live with us 5 years ago, I picked him as the direct opposite of Holly so they could complement each other but never compete.

Holly loved her ball and walking by my side when we were out, whilst Gus is our look out scout, ranging far and wide. Holly tolerated other dogs, she found them a bit silly really.... Gus adores most dogs, bless him.   Indoors Holly's work was never done, checking the front and back door, tidying up her balls, keeping an eye on passers by, making sure I was safe whichever room I went to.  She was not one for cuddles and kisses and lounging about.
Gus? You guessed it - a total couch potato and snuggle bunny. The two were a perfect balance.  Gus worshipped Holly, Holly ... ummm ... she thought him a fool.  But they were great companions and the three of us had a wonderful loving life.
When Holly passed our lives became so quiet and Gus and I both became so old and grown up.  She may have been the older dog but she was the life and soul of our home.  The peace that swept over us was as ominous as our grief.  It felt like the life was sucked out of us.

But I could not find or quite gel with any other dog I saw.  I wanted a rescue, that was a no brainer.  I decided to take a slightly older pup, just as I had with Gus, as they possibly are not so easily snapped up.  I knew I would work hard and have the time to work through a dog that had certain issues BUT there was no point me taking on a dog that hated other dogs for example or could not come round to the constant stream of people who come into our lives at Holly&Lil.
So the casual search continued.
Then a few things fell into place and also a few reality checks.
Peter Egan, an actor and animal rights defender had mentioned Wild at Heart.  But I had not really thought about looking at a dog from overseas when there were so many in UK needing homes.
I had also read Robert Alleynes fascinating piece on the issues that can arise with taking on a dog that has lived on the streets for years.  He only cared about the welfare of the dog but was concerned of, for want of better words, the culture shock a street dog faces entering the UK.  Problems that need huge amounts of work to overcome, if they ever can be.  It was such a food for thought piece. I respect and admire Robert hugely so took his words on board.  Remember these are the hard facts you need to face when taking on a dog.  As my dog will spend its life meeting new people and dogs I did not want it to be unhappy.  I believe dogs do live in the day and with love and care they can come to a place of happiness BUT if a dog was too stressed by he bustle of life they would be better, possibly with a more peaceful NORMAL home. Roberts words should not put you off but he simply is posing questions that all of us need to ponder before taking on a dog.  When I took on Gus he had been straved and treated poorly.  He was even terrified of my Mum with an umberella... that was more than I had expected.  BUT we got through it.  Just ensure you are ready to meet the demands and socialisation your dog may need.

I'm going to try something new, and be a little controversial now. While I totally get the concept that a rescue dog is a dog in need of rescue - wherever it lives, I am concerned about some of the dogs being brought in from abroad. Some of them have lived in appalling conditions, and been horribly mistreated, and are in desperate need of help. But is shipping them to a pet home in the U.K. the right answer? Some of the dogs I see are totally shut down, and completely unable to cope with living in a house, never mind a house with children, and visitors, and traffic just outside the door. So I see a lot of broken dogs who hide, quaking whenever a visitor arrives, or who are too terrified to go out the door for walks. I saw one last week who after two years of living here still won't even go out into the garden unless the owner goes out there with it, never mind go for a walk. And I visited a client for four hours, but never saw the dog, as it was too terrified to come out from under the bed. Should these dogs really have been given to a pet owner with no experience of how to deal with such a dog? In my humble opinion, if they must be brought here (as we have a huge shortage of dogs needing homes in this country), they shouldn't be put into a pet home until they have spent enough time in foster to be manageable for a new owner.
However a little after that I was reading an article about rescue dogs and it mentioned Many Tears, of course but also gave information about the great work the Wild at Heart foundation do.

''Our mission end to the constant killing of dogs around the world. We aim to do this by managing dog populations humanely. By getting to the root of the issue which includes reducing uncontrolled breeding and supporting rehoming and education projects.We find that these are the most effective ways to protect animals in communities and humanely reduce the stray dog population. We fund and support animal welfare projects all over the world. ''

I had a quick look at their lovely site.  But still I did not quite see the one that tugged at my heart.  But then I clicked through to their individual instagram page and there was baby Ara.
I just could see something in her eye and ears that harked back to my Holly but she was cute and quirky and funny and I loved her.  I emailed the Wild at Heart people immediately but was told she and her sister had just found a home together.  I was sad but I accepted it and felt relieved to go back to my quiet life.  But I did like her enough to send her pic to a couple of pals.  I was saying to my friend Jo that I feared I was withdrawing from 'life' a teeny bit.  Since my 'divorce' I have kind of accepted that I will not be involved that way again.  And now with the passing of Holly I felt I might just plod on with Gus and then call it a day.  BUT Jo said she and my pack would not allow that.  She believed I had a lot of love to give a new dog and a lot of life to live.
But for now it was out of my hands .... however a week later the lady had not followed through so both dogs were available.  And they were happy to reserve her for me.  I was so happy but also super nervous.  I turned to some amazing friends who are experienced and trained in this field and they gave me a set of questions to ask to ease their worries.  They have seen dogs come in with such ingrained issues that they have then had to work hard with owners to turn around.  They felt in my grief stricken state I need joy, a few challenges but NOT real struggles.
Louise of The Darling Dog Company, who has been a friend for many, many years, got me to ask a few wise questions regarding Aras upbringing, her Mum, her health etc.  They were invaluable; She will happily help you every step of the way to do whats right for you to come to a sensible decision. 

Contact Louise for help and advice

Once I/we felt satisfied with the answers and they sent me some videos

These reassured me even more.  So all I had to do was pass the home check.  This was done by SKYPE and lasted about an hour, it was amazingly thorough and informative.  They did not sugar coat it, they explained she has not even lived in a home so will take some time to house train.  They told me in their opinion do not use puppy pads, just take her out regularly and reward her for doing her business.  And of a night have a house kennel/cage that is not too big.  Just enough room for her bed.  No dog likes to defecate in their bed and she should be able to hold herself for 6-7 hrs. She can be timid of people but loves dogs.  I checked with my pack and neighbours and mum that they felt they could work with me to make her happy and whole.   Chelsea, Concha, Connor and Jo will all come borrow her for a short bursts at a time, so she begins to learn the World loves her.  My neighbours will do the same.  The pack have given me a few weeks at home with her to get to know her before she faces them and Mums spotless house.  I will also get her into training classes probably in Stamford first then possibly a course in London too.

I have  a few weeks to work through my anxiety and begin to feel excited.  She arrives on 2nd or 3rd of July. Her name will now be Nelly Bear Jones....
I will let you know more about her when she gets here.

Sadly now her sister ASTI has not been homed and will be remaining behind in Romania until a home is found.
She is a sweet charming little dog and has less issues than her sister as she likes people and is less timid.  If any of you feel you could love and adore this little lady then please contact Wild at Heart or email me at Holly&Lil.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

What we can all do to help this Christmas...

Friends at this time of year we are all feeling happy and looking forward to a break.  We also 'quite' love all our fellow men and certainly all the animals.  And would probably love to do something to make the world a better place?  Well yesterday I learnt an easy peasey lesson that may make us all feel we can help out and bring a little joy?

Do any of you know or are friends with someone who perhaps is not 100% well or possibly getting on in years?  Do you see this person everyday and nod and smile and say 'Good Morning' when they are out walking theirs dog(s)? 
A person you know loves and lives for their animals so you have no worries for either of them.

Just occasionally bend down and stroke that dog and feel in between its back legs and down its belly.  Is all lovely and smooth and clear and clean?
Or is it just a complete knotted mess and horror?????

One of my friends at home is looking after an old dog (17) whilst her owner is in hospital.  The chappie lives for his dog and she is a huge support to him. It is vital they stay together.
The dog is content and well (if not over) fed.  But she was a bit stinky.  So I went in armed with my new amateur Grooming knowledge and shampoo and towels.
What we found nearly bought us both to tears.
In between the poor dogs legs were huge, fist size balls, of excrement matted over with hair. 
Dreadlocks of solid filth.
We were both terrified and felt unable to cope in case we hurt her. 
But all the Groomers in our town were not even answering the phones.

So we got down to it.  2 hours later we had done our best and felt the old dog had had enough.
Still a ways to go but we cut out what we could - using my fingers as a guide - better to cut me that her.
Then we shampooed her and dried her etc.
I hope she is much happier.
PLUS now we know my Friend will keep an eye on the dog and the owner and ensure it is groomed - it needs its belly shaved and if the dog was closer to London my girls would have done it yesterday - but 4 -5 hour travelling not good for us or dog.
It is crucial the dog stays with its owner and sure is the same for many dogs etc out there.  But it cannot be left like this....

So my friends get cuddling all the dogs of slightly vulnerable people out there. 
Feel those bellies and in between the legs. 
Be gentle and kind to the owners who simply may not realise what is going on.  Older people need their dogs.  How we go on from there I am not sure - money may be an issue for professional grooming.  I know we get people suggesting all the ways our groomers can do things for charity - and that is marvellous but who will pay the £700 a day we need to clear to pay girls and the rent etc? 
So you cannot always expect and volunteer other people to do the charitable work.
Time to roll up our own sleeves and get in there - we all can offer to bath a dog and brush it out best we can. 
I do not have all the answers here - but until yesterday I had not even considered the problem. 
I thought I would point it out to us all and hope together we can do something for animals and people who's lives would be happier if we did?
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Allow me to introduce you to some of the stars of our new Holly&Lil Cards

Holly&Lil 'old' card version 2014/2015

Every year or so we decide the time has come to 'freshen up' the images on our cards.   Usually i take your wonderful pictures and cut the dogs out and place on a white background.
The picture above shows the last version of our cards 2014-15. 
This year I decided to break with tradition and use real dogs, in real locations wearing our collars.  So many people think the collars too beautiful for anything but Special Occaisions; a shame.  I hope these glorious dogs will show how Holly&Lil fits in to your daily lives and enhances it!  I asked each owner to give us a bit of information on each dog so you can get to know the new stars of our cards. 

Here is the delicious gorgoeous Amoortje.
Everyday dog collars
Amoortje looking on in Red Brightside everyday dog collar quite majestically.

H&L "Tell us a bit about Amoortje your Chihuahua please Catherine"
Amoortje - officially Amortentia from Appleville" must be the best behaved chihuahua on this planet. She is always such a good girl, always in a good mood and is quiet even when her housemates are being noisy. She is sweet and loving, and never demanding. No surprise she always gets picked to come on holiday to the mountains with us. She is born in the Netherlands (Purmerend, near Amsterdam) out of two lovely UK chihuahuas; her breeder is a dear friend of mine. She was named after a potion in one of the Harry Potter books, a potion that makes one fall hopelessly in love with someone. And yes, the name suits her perfectly
''How did you first discover Holly&Lil?''
Years ago, I went to Crufts and among the variety of shops I was amazed to see the Holly&Lil stand with the most gorgeous collars and leads I had ever seen. I bought several sets of collar&lead also in the following years. What is so great is that you can adapt the style of collar to the personality of the dog. I bought a pretty gold one with chili peppers on it - I guess you can understand that is not meant for the best behaved chihuahua in our house ;-) Hmmm, that would be Tweety Pie: very pretty but hot to handle. Being a professional photographer, I like to take pictures of my own dogs as well as the many dogs I photograph for the belgian dog magazine I work for: "Woef". Beside dogs, I take pictures of human models as well. Beauty is a passion of mine, and to help models start their portfolio is fun.
If you want to take a look (and like the page if you like) you can find some work at 


I hope you enjoy meeting darling Dylan, she is a go anywhere, try anything, bundle of Joy dog! Carl her owner takes wonderful pictures - I hope you agree...
Dylan a gal who always walks 'in' the Brightside dog collars

H&L "Tell us a bit about Dylan your Chocolate Labrador please Carl" 
Dylan is 7½ years old. She likes biscuits, sleeping, biscuits, ear tickles and biscuits. Children love how calm and cuddly she is; we always tell them she's half dog and half bear.
H&L "How did you first discover Holly&Lil?"
We have friends who used to live in Bermondsey St, so found Holly&Lil by happy accident. Hardly a walk goes by without someone asking us where we got her collar.

do also check out Dylan 'in action' here
Holly&Lil just for lap dogs? . . .I dont think so...


Here is the delicious Theobald - his owner Beatrice takes such wonderful snaps of him.  I adored this snap of him looking at leaves in his Orange Brightside collar.

Holly&Lil Brightside dog collar
The lovely Theo looking on in his Holly&Lil Brightside collar

H&L "Tell us a bit about Theo your Dachshund please Beatrice?" 
Theobald is a miniature wired dachshund, born in 2009. He was born as a single puppy, therefore he is a little bit afraid of big, black dogs. As he is a real male, he does not like other males. But he likes female little dogs very much. He has a very good nose and he loves to play with intelligence toys, squeals and to dig for mice. He loves to be together with his owners, to walk in woods and fields. He is an esthete and he is very picky with food.

H&L "How did you first discover Holly&Lil?" 
I found the wonderful Holly & Lil collar, when I have been on a business trip to Berlin, in a wonderful dog store, called "Feinspitz“. Since this time, I watched for this extraordinaire collars and in the meantime I have about 7 different ones.

This is the wonderful Gordon and Josephine.  This picture is just divine and sums up how a Holly&Lil collar can add that final touch of glamour to your dog everyday.
Gordon is wearing a UK Dog harness
Josehpine is delicious in her Red Bow Dog Collar.

Gordon and Josephine
Gordon and Josephine - now Poster Dogs at Holly&Lil 2015
H&L "Tell us a bit about Gordon and Josephine please Thomas" 
Gordon is a 2 year old english bulldog, blue, that my son Vincent bought during his stay in UK in Stamford. Josephine is a 3 year old giant Schnauzer that I bought during my stay during 2013 in UK. Both live in perfect harmony with another bitch also english bulldog, ( chocolate ), purchased from the same breeder in UK. We live in Geneva and this is why the picture you have received was having the famous mountain Mont Blanc as background. All our dogs are wearing with pride beautiful collars and harnesses from Holly&Lil.
'How did you first discover Holly&Lil?' 
 It is thanks to the Burghley Horse Trials event (2014) that we discovered your nice shop.


This is the wonderful Marvin - wearing his Holly&Lil Pirate Dog Collar (12mm to 38mm).  He is local to our shop and an absolute TREASURE!

Pirate Dog Collars

H&L "Tell us a bit about Marvin your Italian Greyhound please Claire" 
After nagging my husband for over 10 years I finally got my dog! Marvin is a teeny tiny 17 month old Italian Greyhound who I think is dog perfection. He has a character that I can safely say is uniquely his own. When you throw a ball or stick in the park he just looks at you as if to say "do you think I'm that stupid? You fetch it"! He has 2 settings, completely mental, running and chasing birds, squirrels or as big a dog he can find, or lying on me or a sofa fast asleep. He loves to eat roast chicken, and will patrol the front of the oven whilst I'm cooking and if I'm not careful, counter surf to make sure he gets his share. He's a very gentle soul and likes nothing more than cuddling up under a blanket, especially on dark winter days as he absolutely hates the cold and rain! He really is a most devilishly handsome chap, and my proudest moment was when he won best pedigree dog at the Bermondsey festival dog show last year! I cried!
'How did you first discover Holly&Lil?'
I first discovered Holly and Lil almost 5 years ago when I was looking to move to the area, I swore there and then that the day I got my dog he'd be wearing Holly and Lil, and true to form, the minute I got him off we went to shop. I adore his pirate collar and matching lead, the irony of teeny tiny Marv being the pirate does make people laugh. Marvin loves going to the shop as he can tear around, although he does tend to always have a pee in the shop!!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Crufts 2015 - Happy Pack Members!

It is our 10th Birthday this year so we wanted to  make sure we had a ball at Crufts.  The stall was super extra glittered up.  I had never been to Card Factory before and went crazy on their sparkly explosions!  My idea of heaven and a bit unexpected at Crufts.  Think people needed sunglasses to take us all in.

Crufts this year was a mad mix of hard work and fun. It is a joy to meet so many of you that we have got to know over the years.  And I like to think we made a lot of new friends too.
It is so wonderful when new people are standing there questioning our claims that the collars are made for everyday and an existing customer comes along and joins in to vouch for the quality of our work.
I so appreciate it.  Wish we could have an 'existing customers guest speaker chair' so newbies can ask them questions.  Sometimes it is so hard for people to understand that our beautiful things are not fashion items.  They look at us like we are story tellers.  Some people  want a lifetime guarantee, which it is impossible to give - we simply cannot know your dog, its habits and your own, in how you treat the dog.  You can see them thinking 'See....' then along comes Mrs XXXXX with her crazy hound and shows a collar it has been wearing for 2 or 3 years looking perfect. 'Just came to say Hello, sadly do not need a new collar this one still looks lovely.'  Oooh perfect timing.
Not 100% sure some of them do not think we have planted you though.

We changed it up this year with staff too.  Chelsea, our Supergirl, did 3 days not her usual 5 and managed to get home and enjoy Birthday Outing fun with her friends and family.  Her first in 7 years.  Sitting with us at the Beefeater had lost its charm. 

This gave you all a chance to meet other Pack members Jo, Mary and Connor.  It was a bit of a shock to them all at first how crazy busy it is  but once that passed they took a deep breath and jumped in.

We launched a two new lines at Crufts Leopard Rose and the Flower Garden; our Spring collection 2015...This year to celebrate our birthday we have taken our inspiration from our favourite pick of our clients bespoke choices. Leopard Rose was inspired by the wonderful Rubie and Flower Garden by the lovely Maisie Moo.
See Leopard Rose here Rubie who inspired the Leopard Rose

The Flower Garden - inpired by Maisie Moo

So thank you all again for your support and loyalty and love of our brand
Rather than waffling any more I thought I would simply let the wonderful pictures tell the story.

Her name is Purdey and she is a Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer - what a stunner!

  Everyday Brightside Collars 
Easy for Annes dog to to look on the Brightside in that location in Ireland!

Bessie & Sterlin
Bessie looking on the Brightside
Sterlin Flying the Flag - what a star!

Everyday Dog Collars
The Fabulous three Cupcake, Guinness and the Mighty Rolo!

Holly&Lil Safari
Ruby Slippers and Diceman 
Chelseys delicious Ruby and Diceman!

Crystal Palace
Rosie Precious in Crystal Palace
Pirate Dog CollarSarah came and bought a Pirate collar for Mia and told me her story... 'This is Mia our boxer we rescued her in June we got her from Cornwall South Devon boxer rescue. She was a bag of bones with ear infections broken infected tail, eye ulcers and bald patches of sore skin all over.She weighed just 17 kilos now she weighs 28 kilos and is a picture of health with no more health problems.I thought she deserved only the best and a Holly&Lil designer collar and lead set. It was when I saw the pirate collar I knew it was the one my two year old Amelia is pirate obsessed

Diceman on Black
Please meet Mr Percy and Elvis.  Gemma had bought the Diceman for Percy and thought she wanted Elvis in red Diceman - but when she saw the Red Brightside Wide she knew it was the one!!! Heaven Diceman Diceman

Darcey is a dream in her Chocolate Orange Bow

Violet and Edina came and we tried on loads of styles and colours before Jane settled on Safari for the whole bunch and WIDES as well. Such a fab unexpected 'statement' on a puglet.  Winston the Scottie at home got Cowspot and Red too so he is completely part of the pack!

Winston in Safari

Helen sums up what we try to achieve for your shopping experience with Holly&Lil be it at Crufts or our shop or any show. The new Leopard Rose seemed hugely popular with you all and caused some excitement!  Helen bought collars for her Chihuahuas and this wee beauty below.

  And Lorna got a set for the super Glamorous Darcey.

But you all came knowing what you had been 'dreaming of'.... Kriss got his cute little lady a black and white bow.    Though he would not be told the size was wrong but luckily his pal Nikki came next day for the smaller size.

Jay underestimated too but we are always happy to exchange.  Great tip though is bring a spare collar with you to every show.Safari

Hannah did the same with Louis - he is growing!

Woody is a dream as a Pirate - Yo Ho Ho!

 Rainbow collar
We spent a long time trying on new collars for Zeus.  The Hill Family had never considered the Rainbow on their Puli but once on him it just looked a dream.  It had to be the one.  Imagine Victorias surprise when she found a Puli toy with the same collar!?!?!?  SPOOKY!

Cassie and Essi had to wait till after Crufts as their owner came, got Essis size spot on then rang to buy on the Tuesday.... We sent it as quick as we could.Then the gorgeous twosome could carry on working in style! They are disability assist dogs. ''Hello, here's the photos you asked for and here's a bit about Cassie & Essi. We brought Cassie's fabulous Wide pink collar from Crufts about 4yrs ago Cassie was with me because she was then my disability asst dog. She was the dog about town so it was important that she looked good! :0). We would be stopped in Asda & asked where we brought that beautiful collar! When Cassie had to retire due to ill health it only seemed fair that now Essi my new disability asst dog & now dog about town needed a Holly & Lil too! Thanks again. Xx'' Holly&Lil are proud to help...  Blue Brightside
 The Brightside Dog Collar

Another dog we were super proud to dress was Michelles Maverick.  She had been dreaming of him in an Emerald City and I made it specially for him in time for his big day! He took part in the Obedience championship and came 11th. WOWEE!!!!!!!! He is 8 years old. His pet name is Maverick. His Posh name Forever Magic Xrated. He is a star!
 Emerald City

 Emerald City
Next year he will return and do even better.  Maverick in his gorgeous Collar and Michelle in her lovely jacket looked like STARS!!!!!

There were of course so many other pack members but these are the ones who sent us pictures - if we get anymore I will add.  Thank you so much to everyone who came and bought and left so happy!