We are proud to announce Andy Biggs as our third and final judge!
“My childhood dog was 18 when he passed away, and I vowed I would never go through the pain of losing another animal. I waited 20 years before allowing another dog to steal my heart, and she did it big.”
The Bryan family found the furry black sweetheart at a local shelter in 2010 and knew she was the missing piece to their family.
Jill says, “The first joke I ever wrote was called, ‘Dog Freak’ about a woman I worked with who was an absolute lunatic about her dogs. Now I am that woman, and you know what? I’m okay with that.”
You can catch Jill doing her stand-up comedy at the Tempe Improv and Stand-Up Live, as well as many other respected venues across the country.
Go to www.jillbryancomedy.com for dates and information.
HOWLAND STUDIOS is so grateful to Kristy Siefkin for becoming one of our celebrity judges for the Cats Drool & Dogs Rule Photo Contest! Kristy is an anchor and reporter for Fox 10 and shares her passion for dogs in her weekly segment “Kristy’s Creature Feature” which we were lucky to be on last year! She has raised guide dog puppies for the blind, trained wilderness search and rescue dogs, competed in local and national dog shows including the Westminster Kennel Club, and qualified dogs for animal therapy work. Kristy is the proud owner of an 8 lb, spit-fire Pomeranian named “Gunner”. We love you and thank you again Kristy!
They will be picking our finalists in a few weeks!
Thank you to Barking Beast San Diego for this wonderful article!
ENTER the Howland Studios ” Most Fabulous Pet Photo Caption Contest” for your chance to win a custom portriat of your pet painted by April Howland! Click here to enter. Deadline is Thursday October 23rd!
As an art enthusiast and a huge dog lover I’ve come across hundreds of dog portrait artists in my time working in the pet industry. However, this summer I think I may have discovered the ultimate “Painter of the Pets” who might just take the cake as the Picaso of puppy portraits: April Howland of Howland Studios. Howland, a full-time painter has 20 plus years experience doing animal portraits. She specializes in original pieces of painted artwork commissioned from photographs of our loving pets. What makes her paintings so unique is that she offers styles ranging from modern Warhol inspired looks to traditional portraits which convey intricate detail, texture, depth and above all the personality…
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I hope this post finds you all enjoying your summer and time with friends and family. While my Uncle Gus and I were in Alaska this July, I was planning on posting about our journeys as we went. Well, Verizon had other plans as there was little to no service up there. Sometimes these unexpected gifts are a blessing and we made sure to spend as much time as possible enjoying the 22 hours of daylight out in nature. The beauty in Alaska is almost indescribable and I never got over the feeling of how small we are compared to the greatness of the land. Alaska is bigger than Texas and most of the land is unmolested which I found to be so wonderful and spiritual. Often I thought of what our country must have looked like at one time long ago without all the buildings and pollution and sometimes felt great sadness that open spaces like this are so rare. How lucky we were to get to experience this place! Nature is such a gift and so many take it for granted or don’t even see it. If you aren’t familiar with the nature around you, I urge you to go look and discover the beauty we have even in Arizona. Take your friends, teach your children. Enjoy the gifts that the universe has given us. Here are the highlights and photos of our adventures, make sure to read the last bear story! Enjoy ♥
4,690,680 acres or 7,329.2 sq. miles makes up Denali and to put it into perspective how big that is, Yellowstone National Park is only 2,221,766 acres or 3,472 sq. miles. Denali is famous for its views of Mt. McKinley (the highest point in North America) although you are lucky to see it! We eventually saw the top peak out but just barely.
Denali also has some great wildlife and we were able to spot reindeer, moose, goats, and a red fox who was hunting along side of us. Very cool sighting indeed!
Most of you know how much we love our dogs so while in Denali we made a stop to see Jeff King’s Iditarod Sled Team. We were a bit apprehensive to go as we weren’t very familiar with the race and how the husky dogs who race it are generally treated. After meeting the team and Jeff King himself we were relieved to learn that these dogs are taken very well care of and are really doing what they love to do, RUN! It was apparent that these dogs love him and all the care takers who work with them day and night.
Gus and I were very excited to head to Seward to see some sea life and glaciers. It was raining almost the whole two days we spent there but we made the best of it. We hiked in to see Exit Glacier which was so interesting. They had markers on the 1 mile trail with years on them that marked what year the glacier was at during that time. It is believed that the glacier once extended all the way to the town of Seward, almost 8 miles away.
The color of the ice inside the glacier is the coolest blue I have ever seen. It is so blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue–so blue is what we see. Interesting fact, glaciers store about 75% of the world’s fresh water.
We took a Captain’s Sea Cruise the second day in Seward and even though it rained on us most the day, the sea life was out and about. We were lucky enough to see whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, seals, puffin, and bald eagles. We also visited two different glaciers that were calving into the water which sounds a bit like cracks of lighting with thunder following. Powerful and eerie all at the same time.
On the way out of Seward we stopped to stretch our legs and spotted some big horned sheep hanging on the side of a mountain. One came down and said hello to us!
Our last stop on our 10 day whirlwind adventure was to Brooks Lodge to see grizzly bears. If you don’t already know I am a bit of a nervous flyer and the only way to get to Brooks was by float plane. Funny how I was more scared of the plane than walking with bears! Silly me… Anyway, I conquered my fear head on by sitting in the co-pilot seat (not by choice) and watching the pilot fly his 1953 De Havilland Beaver with great precision and skill. It was a very cool experience when it was all said and done!
Once we landed at Brooks Lodge we were sent to “bear orientation” to learn about what to do WHEN we encounter bears and the rules of camp. Brooks is very careful about how they run their camp in that all food is kept in one cabin where we had every meal. No guest is allowed to carry food or drinks with them besides water and there are no trash cans anywhere but inside the eating area. When at all possible we were to keep 50 yards between us and any bear we see except with a sow and her cubs which they recommended at least 100 yards. And when we walked the trails to the bear viewing areas we were to talk loud, clap, sing, or whatever we had to do to make noise so that we wouldn’t surprise any bears along the way. When we encountered bears on the trail they explained to us that we DO NOT run, do not look directly at them and we walk calmly the other direction all while speaking very sternly to the bears. YEAH ok! We were about to find out how this works.
On one of our walks, my Uncle Gus and I were alone in the woods headed back to camp. The trail to go see the falls where the males fish is about a mile long and is truly a “bear trail”. As we are walking and making noise we were startled to find a big grizzly boy walking straight towards us about 30 yards away. Time to exercise our bear coping skills! We began to walk off the trail as we made stern remarks to Mr. Grizzly. He went off the trail as to avoid us and after our circle dance we were back on the trail going our direction as was he. WOW! I think my Uncle and I were both shaking a bit because we went straight to the lodge to enjoy a cocktail and calm down.
We experienced so many grizzly bears during our two days at camp, too many to count. We watched them fish, fight for fishing spots and fight for fish that were caught. Did you know that grizzlies can run up to 35 mph and that you can tell how mature a bear is by the length of his claws?
On our last morning in Brooks, we were stuck in a bear jam on the viewing platform because of two mating bears. They were about 75 yards from us so we couldn’t leave the platform. As the day progressed, we saw her running from him and him running after her very upset and crying out when she was out of sight. Once two bears begin to mate, they do this for up to two weeks. My Uncle and I nicknamed them Romeo and Juliet. About an hour before we were to check in to our pilot to leave, we were hanging out on the side of the river with a park ranger just chatting about the bears and taking our last photos when his walkie-talkie went off. Another ranger was letting us know that we should move back 50 yards to “bear trail” because of a bear who was fishing and headed our way. Once we were there, his walkie-talkie went off again and this time the ranger told us that two bears were in full sprint headed straight for us. I looked up and saw Juliet running straight towards us with a salmon she just caught. She was being chased by Romeo and we were in their way! Did I mention they sprint up to 35 mph? Of course we were told not to run, but I am here to tell you that my instinct was to RUN LIKE THE WIND! If my Uncle hadn’t held onto my arm and the park ranger wasn’t yelling at me not to run, I am afraid that I would have. They both ran past us only feet away as we watched them go by. The thing here to remember is they didn’t want us and we were just in their way, however, I don’t think I have ever been so frightened in my life. We only had a minute to calm down when Romeo decided he lost the chase and began to walk back towards us. I wish I could describe the upset huffing sound he was making. He was one of the biggest bears we saw at Brooks.
Our time at Brooks Lodge was amazing and I highly recommend a visit if you are so inclined. They are only open 3 months every year during the summer and only 10,000 visitors can come through per year. If you would like to watch the bears in real-time, they have a live BearCam at http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls.
Thank you for subscribing and following our journey through Alaska. Spending time in Alaska with my Uncle Gus, who is one of my favorite people, was such a gift. I am so very inspired and excited to begin painting this new series and to share them with you. Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see more frequent updates and stories!
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