It’s the beginning of March, and spring is just around the corner.  For most people, this means a new beginning. But for my business, spring of 2012 is most likely the end of the line. When I launched my small business, Tiny Growl, in January of 2008, I had what I believed was a good idea, but I had no idea where it was going to take me.

Riley looking like a crazy wild dog, from an early video shoot on Vashon Island for Tiny Growl.

Four years later, I can look back and give myself credit for having taken an idea from thought to fruition. Unfortunately, my invention –  The ScooPup Pocket – did not become the next big thing in the dog product world, but that’s OK. I learned a remarkable number of things about business, the internet, marketing, the dog world, and about myself.  It was a good stretch and any dog will tell you, stretches are always worth taking. I also met an amazing assortment of dogs and dog people along the way.

So, was it all worth it? Yes, absolutely. Do I wish things were different? Of course. I wanted my business to be successful, not just to generate income, but to have the means to help all those dogs out there that weren’t as lucky as my boy Riley. Since I’m a dog lover and animal advocate, this was the driving force that sent a creative, artistic type like me into the business world, albeit with some trepidation.

Word to the wise: if you are a creative, artistic type, be careful where your heart leads you. In my case, jumping into the world of dogs and dog lovers with my heart on my sleeve opened me up to things that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s a cruel world out there for a lot of dogs, and the deeper you involve yourself as an advocate, the deeper the heartbreak and the feelings of helplessness. For someone like me who wants to be able to protect, help and heal every dog in need, it nearly sent me over the deep end.

It took a couple of years, but eventually I realized that even if I had all the resources in the world, it’s just not possible to save every dog. It’s a sad fact, but one that I have to learn to live with. But this is not why I’m giving up. My business was never was able to grow beyond modest sales and I just don’t have the resources or the energy to keep up with the all of the networking that’s essential for a one-woman, small business owner like myself to make my business get noticed in a big way.

Big thanks to all who helped and supported me along the way, and if I can ask one more thing of you, I’m having a going out of business sale at tinygrowl.com through the end of March, 2012. Please pass it on and get ’em while you can. I still think it’s a useful product and I’m still walking Riley with one of my prototype ScooPup Pockets every day. And even though things didn’t work out the way that I’d hoped, I will always be able to say that I tried and I will never have to wonder “what if..?”.

Lost Dog: Found!

Last week I received a distressing email from a friend of mine who wrote to tell me that her friend’s dog was missing. “Lucy”, a 10 year-old American Husky mix, had disappeared from a boarding facility. Her “Mom” Ann was in Texas, when she received the call that no pet guardian ever wants to receive.

I immediately posted the alert on Tiny Growl’s Facebook page and hoped that the power of social networking would help spread the word.  Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.  Ann recounts the traumatic sequence of events on her beautifully written blog with such detail and includes such of a wealth of information, that I encourage everyone to read Lucy and Ann’s story.

An Emotional Reunion

I also encourage everyone to support The Missing Pet Partnership, an organization that I have blogged about a couple of times before. They do amazing work, have a wonderful website with specific and effective information on how to find lost pets (which Ann used in creating her plan to find Lucy) and are always struggling financially.

One piece of proactive information that I would like to add here is to remind everyone to follow the Missing Pet Partnership’s advice about keeping a sample of your dog’s scent and DNA on hand, just in case you ever need to hire one of their tracker teams to search for your dog. Here’s what they recommend:

Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, wipe your pet’s body with a sterile gauze pad – wipe its back, tummy, and mouth. Place in a ziplock bag. Write the date and your pet’s name on the bag. Along with the scent, you should collect a sample of DNA, in case it is needed for making a positive ID. Collect a whisker, some toenail clippings, and a few hairs that you have pulled from your pet, including the root. Shed hairs alone are no good, as you need the root, which contains the DNA. Add these to the ziplock bag and put it in your freezer. (If you have multiple pets, you will need separate bags for each.)  Recollect scent and DNA samples once a year.

And finally, make sure you have a really good picture of your buddy ready for copying, in case you ever need to post “Lost” posters, you don’t want to spend time searching for pictures, when you need to be searching for your dog. Let’s hope that you never have to go through what Lucy and Ann experienced.  But if you do, having learned what to do in advance will save time, help you to focus on putting together an action plan and help bring your Lucy home as quickly as possible.

Really, it’s rather hard to believe, but apparently dogs with black coats are the least likely to be adopted from a shelter. I only just found this out myself today. A neighbor of mine had been fostering a beautiful Black Lab/Dane mix, and recently had to return him to the shelter, since they were going to be traveling for six weeks.

Waiting To Go Home

“Stallone” had been rescued at the end of 2010 ago from a deplorable hoarding situation. Despite suffering neglect and possible abuse, this dog has a very sweet nature, loves people and other dogs. I was lucky to have met him, before he returned to his rescuers at Valhalla Canine Shelter. His foster mom told me that in the six weeks she’d had him, she had heard him only quietly “woof” twice. He was also very well-behaved, had loved going on off-leash adventures with her, and would always come promptly running back when called.


Stallone has a gorgeous shiny black coat, and a very handsome face to add to the package. I began posting his info to my Facebook page immediately upon learning of his situation. This dog is a gem, I thought. I’m sure someone will see his pictures and read about him and bring him to a good home very quickly.


What A Handsome Boy

That was last week. Today I called the shelter to learn if anyone had called to inquire about Stallone. Not one call. That’s when I learned that black-coated dogs are hard to place. For whatever reason, people tend to adopt the fluffy white ones first. Ok, maybe. But what’s so unappealing about a black dog? One of the first dog friends I ever had as a child was a beautiful black lab named Penny, whose coat was so shiny, I swear I could see my reflection in her fur. From the time I met Penny, I bugged my parents for a black lab. (They eventually got me a Beagle, but that’s another story.)


I don’t get it, but I don’t get lots of things, like hoarding animals, mistreating animals, not adopting a pet from a shelter, I could go on and on. Look at that face and tell me how anyone could overlook him? I wish I could take him myself, but I will continue to champion his cause and try to find him the good home that he deserves. If you’d like to help, please pass this on. There are many more photos of Stallone on his blog. That’s right, maybe black-coated dogs aren’t very adoptable, but who says that they can’t blog?  (PS. Here’s a link to his info page on Petfinder.com.)


Dreaming Of His Forever Home








There has been an up-tick in the number of reported cases of leptospirosis in the Seattle area lately. However, this disease is found all across the country and since it usually on the rise in the spring, I thought it might be worth talking about.

Don't let your dog do this.

Lepto, which is carried by rats, mice, raccoons and other vermin, is a bacterial disease that can cause acute kidney shut down, liver failure, and death in dogs and cats. It is transmitted through contact with infected urine, so our pets are susceptible by exposure to contaminated water sources, food, or even bedding. Disease outbreaks often increase during periods of flooding. This disease can also be passed from animals to humans.

Early diagnosis is essential, so you need to know what to be on the lookout for.

Infection may present itself with fever, shivering, muscle tenderness and vomiting and increased thirst. Dogs may be reluctant to move due to muscle or kidney pain. While your dog may appear to have recovered from a simple, 24-hour ‘doggie flu,’ the disease may still be present. If the dog becomes ill a second time, in most cases about a week later, it may be too late.

A positive diagnosis is made through a blood test, but test results may show up as negative in the first 10 days after infection, so additional blood tests may be necessary for a positive diagnosis. If you suspect that your pet may have come in contact with possible contaminated sources, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Lepto is treated with antibiotics, which should be given right away. There are vaccines available, but there are many strains of Lepto and vaccinating against one strain does not protect against the other strains. Vaccinating your dog is also likely to cause a negative reaction itself.  If you are considering vaccination, talk with your vet to learn if the strain of Lepto in your area has a vaccine to match, and is worth the risk.

Remember, it is important to provide your pets with fresh water. If you keep a water dish outside, dump it out and refill it with fresh water daily, before you let your dog take a drink. It’s a good idea in general to not let your dog drink out of any source of water that you have not provided. Keep them out of areas of standing water or anywhere that you suspect where rats, mice or raccoons may have nested or urinated.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are key to keeping your pet healthy.


Honestly now, do you pick up after your dog while out on your daily walks?

I’m sure that for every responsible pet guardian out there, there are plenty of others who still refuse to take this seriously. Some are just lazy, but others truly find it extremely unpleasant. One of the reasons that I invented the ScooPup Pocket was to create a better way to deal with this task.

Here’s 5 reasons why you should be picking up your dog’s poop – whether you use a ScooPup Pocket or not.

1.   Keep Your Neighbors Happy

How many times have you seen signs posted on neighbor’s lawns asking people to pick up after their dogs? Those who don’t certainly aren’t making any friends, but they are also giving their dogs a bad rap.  It’s not the dog’s fault. As far as I know, most homes don’t contain indoor toilets for dogs (not yet anyway) so what choice does your pooch have? If you’ve got a ScooPup Pocket hanging from your leash, it’s easy for that perturbed neighbor to see that you are not the one who is leaving the little “gifts” on his lawn.


2.   Be Greener

Dog poop is more than just a nuisance. It poses a health risk to other dogs and people, especially children. It can be full of bacteria that can make people sick.

It’s also a contributing factor to water pollution.

We all know that there are worse things getting into our rivers, lakes and oceans, but dog poop certainly doesn’t help. According to The Puget Sound Partnership, more than 60% of water pollution comes from things like cars leaking oil, fertilizers and pesticides from farms and gardens, failing septic tanks, pet waste, and fuel spills from recreational boaters. Leave it on the ground, and it will eventually find it’s way downstream. A ScooPup Pocket gives you a place to stash the nasty poop bag until you can dispose of it properly.  BTW, most municipalities advocate putting poop bags in with your trash. Landfills are designed to handle it.

3.   Teach Your Kids Good Habits

You know the old story of the kid that begs to get a dog, promises to take care of it and walk it daily, but somehow that’s never the reality? Maybe part of the problem is that most kids find dog poop really gross. A ScooPup Pocket makes the task a little less nasty by putting a second moisture-resistant layer between their hand and the poop, if they use the water-resistant lining feature.  And what kid wants to run into one of their friends while carrying a bag of dog poop? Putting it in the ScooPup Pocket keeps the stinky bag out of sight.



4. Make Walking The Dog A More Pleasant Experience

Wouldn’t you rather run into a neighbor with a bag of poop hidden discreetly away inside a ScooPup Pocket?  (It cuts down on the smell too.) If you re-use supermarket bags for dog poop pickup, how many times has your one-and-only bag turned out to have a hole in the bottom? Using the moisture-resistant lining as a “double bag” gives you a second layer of protection.

5. Make It Habit-Forming

As long as you remember to keeping a few new poop bags in the side pocket, keeping a ScooPup Pocket attached to your dog’s leash means that when it’s time to walk, just grab your leash and go. They easily clip on to any type of leash (or stroller, or backpack.) The zippered side pocket is a handy place to stash your keys and if you’re like me, I use it to store treats for the neighborhood dogs.

So, now you know some of the reasons why you should be picking up after your dog, and if you’d like to make the task cleaner, greener and smarter, get yourself a ScooPup Pocket today.

New Year, New Growl

Happy New Year to all of my readers. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while. Quite frankly, 2010 was a hard year for most businesses and unfortunately, Tiny Growl was no exception.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might know that I decided to take my invention The ScooPup Pocket from an idea to a saleable product, because aside from never wanting to wonder “what if…?”, I had really hoped to create a successful business that would make enough money to enable me to help dogs. Good product, good intentions = great idea, right?

While I have had great feedback on my product, my website, my blog, the cold hard truth of the matter is that ScooPup Pockets just aren’t hanging off of too many leashes. Oh sure, I’ve sold a few and they continue to sell, but hardly at numbers enough to do any good for either my business bank account or the animal causes that I was hoping to be able to support. I’ve tried very hard to make it work, including lowering the price, contests, giving them away and of course, blogging. And speaking of blogging, that brings me to SEO.

For those of you with web-based businesses of your own, you know all about SEO (search engine optimization, for the rest of you) and how important it is in this age of doing business on-line. You also know the importance of networking with everyone in your line of business and in my case, all of the animal advocacy groups. Unfortunately, that opens you up to a flood of information that someone like me just doesn’t have the psychology to deal with. For some reason, I am unable to process the sad stories and move on, the way that most people can. I even refuse to see (almost) totally “vanilla” movies like Marley and Me because I know Marley comes to a bad end.

Another part of my problem, or what makes up my particular pathology, is that I worry about every dog on the planet and feel somehow that I have the power (or have been charged with the responsibility) to make their pain and suffering disappear, heal them, save them, feed and them and give them all loving and happy homes. Obviously, that isn’t possible for anyone, not even Bill and Melinda Gates. But I thought that by going into business with a usable product, I could at least take comfort in the knowledge that I was making a difference, quietly or otherwise, via donations.

While I was hoping to sell sell sell! and donate donate donate!!! to help as many dogs (and other animals) that I could, what actually happened was that my work days turned into too much time spent reading sad story after sad story, trying my best to flash past the truly horrific ones and finally coming to the realization that I really am quite literally unable to do any good at all for most of these poor creatures.

I know that I have to come to terms with the fact that the world is good and bad and bad things happen all of the time to good dogs and good people. I know that I’m not giving up on my idea or the idea that Tiny Growl still has the potential to grow into the business that I’d hoped it could be, but I also know that I have to back away a bit from that level of involvement.  Both the reading and the writing have taken a toll on me.

In the coming weeks, I will be re-evaluating things, including the point of this blog. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on my wonderful rescue dog Riley and try to get through another dreary Seattle winter.  Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!

Bette & Riley

There are so many worthy animal charities in need of donations, it’s always a difficult decision to try to figure out who is truly struggling and who might be able to make a dollar work the hardest for their particular organization. Certainly our local shelters are a good place to start, but I tend to think about those even smaller non-profits that struggle on a day-to-day basis. Many of these little organizations exist completely through donations from people like you and me.  They can’t afford to advertise, or would rather put whatever funds they receive directly into helping those animals in their care.

One such place that you may not have heard about is The Animal House of JamaicaA non-profit, non-government organization that operates a shelter in Lydford, St. Ann, just outside of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, The Animal House of Jamaica was opened in the 1990s by British-born Maureen Sheridan. The shelter provides food, shelter and medical care and more for Jamaica’s stray, injured abandoned and feral animals.

Sheridan’s is working hard to overcome generations of accepted behavior that can include mistreatment of animals, and is focusing on Humane Education as well as being a proponent of spay and neuter, and immunization programs. Here’s a bit of video with a voice-over by Sheridan, introducing you to some of the shelter’s dogs, as well as telling some of her success stories.

The Animal House is one of only two shelters in Jamaica and is the only no-kill shelter on the island. For more information, including an interview with executive director Maureen Sheridan, please click on this link.

100% of donations made to The Animal House of Jamaica go directly to their animals. Sounds like a pretty good return on your dollar, if you ask me. So, when you are making your year-end contributions, I hope you will consider donating whatever you can to this amazing non-profit.  You can become a fan of their Facebook page as well, and help spread the word about the important work that they are doing.

Some final words from Sheridan herself: “If you love animals, and if you love Jamaica, please help us. Donations can be made via our website through Paypal or mailed to us. If you can’t donate, but can send supplies we also are always in need of almost everything. And if you can’t do either of the above, please just spread the word of our work. Our animals are worth it!”