Category Archives: Pets/Animal Life

But First Rumi Book Tour

I’m really excited to be able to interview author Chitra Ramaswami as part of her “But First Rumi Book Tour”. “But First Rumi” is a delightful memoir by Chitra Ramaswami. Rumi is a beautiful stray Omani street cat who took a liking to Chitra and trusted Chitra to help him and in return Rumi helped Chitra. This book is more than a tale of a cat being rescued – the memoir explores how love and trust between cats and people can develop, how attitudes towards street cats develop, and how love develops. The book is written in such a refreshingly honest way and I loved reading the escapades of Rumi & co. I really enjoyed chatting to Chitra about all things cats …. But, before that, here is the official resumé of the book:

When Chitra discovered a stray cat in need of help, she never thought they’d wind up saving each other. Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, Chitra returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. But First, Rumi is the story of how, day by day, Rumi and Chitra got to know one another, and as she learned to love the little stray, she began to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country and her place in the world. 

What unfolds when girl and cat meet? What happens when you follow your heart? What if the world is not as it seems? Is it worth taking a chance? 

Print Length: 158 Pages

Genre: Memoir

THE INTERVIEW

Hi! I’m Chitra – author of the memoir  “But First, Rumi” . I was born and brought up in the Middle East to Indian parents and now live in New Jersey. I’ve worked in healthcare as a physician and a health educator and now I’ve turned author. This is my first time publishing and excited to see what this experience brings my way. 

Who or what inspired you to write your memoir, “But First, Rumi!”?

I believe the answer lies in my book title 🙂 My cat Rumi inspired me to share our journey with the world. As someone who’s written most of her life, I believe every story has its own predestined time – from when it gets penned down to when it is on its way to its readers where it finally comes to fruition. 

Your book highlighted the life of an Omani Mau/street cat, and your growing love of Rumi.  I found the book interesting as well as entertaining.  I thought how different were the attitudes towards cats, stray cats in particular, in Oman compared with the UK/ USA. Why do you think the Omani street cats are regarded with such suspicion?

Firstly, thank you for reading our story and am glad you enjoyed it. Yes, attitudes towards stray cats are different in Oman as compared to say a Western country. But what makes it interesting is that Oman is  home to people from all over the world added to its own descendants and  this varied demographic may hold the reasons that have led to the current state of the Omani stray cats. We have collectively failed our felines. I believe suspicion towards anything generally arises from a certain lack of awareness or unfamiliarity or a previous negative experience. And yes, this is only a part of the problem as I explain in the book. Another common issue is abandonment either due to misjudgment of what caring for a cat entails or when people leave for their home countries and haven’t planned well for the transition. Ofcourse, COVID-19  has added additional financial strains to the process as well.

Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

The process of writing the book was enjoyable. I also had a great editor and we worked well together. What amused me the most was the amount of work that went into publishing a book outside of actually writing the book! The time and effort needed to get your book in front of your readers has been eye opening. I’ve learnt a lot over the past few months. Maybe I should write about it haha!

What do you enjoy most about having a cat? What did you find most daunting at first?

I’ve come to realize over time that my energy is quite similar to a cat’s. I remember watching a documentary that talked about how cats and humans are actually more alike evolutionarily as compared to say dogs and humans. So it’s not surprising to me that I’m able to just be myself around them rather effortlessly. However, before my experience with Rumi, I  was rather wary of cats and didn’t really know what to make of them. I maintain that I didn’t give them a fair chance and went with the popular notion that dogs were more expressive and loving as companion animals. 

Have you always wanted to have a career in writing  or did you have other aspirations?

Funnily, I never thought of writing as a career even though I always wrote. But moving forward, I’ve decided to share my works with the world. I’m curious by nature – always have been, which in turn has led me to pursue many paths. So be it working with people with various ailments, or teaching or riding horses or ice climbing…. the list is diverse. I’m not really a one aspiration person and am eager to see where my life takes me next. 

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Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

Yes, I’ve loved to read since forever. Favorite genres – Biographies, memoirs, short stories. I’m not into fiction much but am on board with Haruki Murakami’s magical realism. It’s bewitching almost. Love Khaled Hosseini’s works. In poetry – Works of Rumi, Tabrizi, Gibran to name a few. There’s always more than one story that‘s being told in a book and one of them is about the author themselves, their roots,  convictions, motivations – it all comes through. So I tend to consciously seek out authors from various backgrounds for this experience. I find it as good or even better than travel. 

Nothing beats the feel of an actual book but I’m a recent Kindle convert – saves space, easy to bookmark, or look up anything I need to, can even read on my Kindle app on my phone etc 

Is “But First Rumi” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes worldwide – Both ebook and paperback. It’s also available in a bookstore in Oman and managed to sell out and has just been restocked! 

Will there be more tales about Rumi in the future?

Definitely 🙂 There may be a second book in the works as we speak!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Hmmm. Depends on the season. I’m a sucker for knee length boots in the winter – I never grew out of my Michael Korrs Preston boots with the golden buckle – love those tiny touches! I also love my riding boots from Dover’s. If I’m going out for dinner or tea I love getting dressed up – A-line skirt and top or a Pakistani embroidered suit( we call it shalwar Kameez), and peep toed heels but overtime I find myself settling for pointed flats – Zara and Rothys always have a lovely line of those. These days, I’m always in my adidas and pumas – thanks to COVID! Not complaining though – I always manage to find something to fall in love with! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Zara, Kate Spade, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Image…the list goes on also love custom shirts I design myself. Etsy’s also a very interesting place – be it for custom clothes, accessories etc 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’ve been looking into vegan fashion lately. It’s a fascinating world and I’m still exploring it. Love the Dharma Store – fun tees and they have vegan phone grips too! I also have my eye on the Catalina tote from lo and sons – super functional and love the shoe compartment at the bottom. So yes, I won’t be surprised if my fashion choices will be completely different five years down the line. I’m learning and growing every day. 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Website: https://cramaswami.com/Instagram: @rumionamission2017


My thanks goes to Chitra for agreeing to be interviewed, for inviting me to join in her book tour and for a copy of her delightful memoir.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Chitra Ramaswami

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10 Best Pampered Pooch Cities (UK & USA)

One of the UK’s leading price comparison website, comparethemarket.com, recently conducted an interesting survey on cities and towns in both the UK & USA to find out where the most pampered pooches resided! They based their findings on the number of dog salons, dog training facilities, kennels, vets, and parks each city had; and then they ranked each location by the number of amenities per capita. They also discovered some great doggy training programmes available nationwide in both countries.

Flynn & Reed

🇬🇧 UK

Here are the top 5 locations in the UK:

LocationDog Salons TrainingKennelsVetsParks
1.Nottingham 147127311216
2.Liverpool1159261168107
3.Hull8261162746
4.Birmingham2684278205156
5.Edinburgh11262125155

Out of 25 cities/towns surveyed, London came out at number 16 with a total of 30 dog salons, 173 dog training facilities, 341 kennels, 500 vets and 683 parks.

Flynn, Percy & Reed

Other doggy services found in the UK include sheepdog training in Somerset; Cani-Fit – jogging trails for you & your dog; in Newcastle, dogs are offered Hydrotherapy; in Kent, there is CSI Training – searching for suspects, helping with rescue missions etc. The survey found a large number of restaurants around the UK and London who pride themselves on being dog friendly.

Percy with his owner

🇺🇸 USA

Location Dog SalonTrainingKennelsVetsParks
1. Long Beach, CA25998544975471
2. Mesa, Arizona18654633761941
3. Atlanta,Georgia13947330366165
4. Sacramento,CA11447127243988
5.Seattle, WA15266339867396
Reed

Other doggy services found in the USA include Nose Workshops – teaching your dog how to sniff out different smells; Doga or Dog Yoga – extremely popular in the New York City area.

American dogs are very sporty. Dog Diving Championships are held in Florida; Flyball – where 2 teams of dogs race against each other in a relay and are judged on how quickly tennis balls can be retrieved – Tournaments are held all over the USA with the league HQ based in Las Vegas ; and finally, Disc – a sport similar to frisbee that tests the agility, speed & accuracy of both dogs and owners – apparently this sport is highly competitive!

Flynn

So, now you know! Is your dog a pampered pooch living in one of the Pooch privileged places?

Linda x

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Photo Credits: Pinterest photo has been published with kind permission of comparethemarket.com. The other photos are by Margaret Hobden. Dogs featured: Flynn, Reed & Percy.

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An Interview With Aurora Pets

Husband and wife team, Jonathan & Ashton Rose, along with their dogs Yianni and Yoko are my guests this week. They are the founders and owners of Aurora Pets, a UK luxury retail pet site celebrating only the most luxurious and premium brands available – the ultimate Designer Dog Shop. I caught up with them to find out more about their delightful shop….. Hi Ashton, Hi Jonathan…

Hi! We are husband and wife team Ashton and Jonathan plus our two little Frenchies Yianni and Yoko. Jonathan comes from a background of international distribution for luxury products and Ashton is an expert in customer experience. We wanted to create a place where you could not only find the best quality products for your dog but also enjoy the best experience at the same time. We are head over heels in love with our dogs and they are part of our journey no matter what we are doing. Aside from the weekly walks, we travel to different places every weekend to adventure and explore with the dogs. 

What was the inspiration behind your designer dog shop, Aurora Pets?

Yianni and Yoko were our entire inspiration for Aurora Pets. When we first got Yianni we had a lot of difficulties finding quality products that were not made with cheap materials or looked tacky. We ended up shipping products from all over the world which is when the inspiration for our business occurred, with both of our experiences combined we launched Aurora Pets. Yianni and Yoko of course are our chief testers for all products which we road test fully to ensure our customers get the best.

Only the most luxury and premium dog brands are featured on your site from dog fashions to luxury dog treats. I really love the unique Modern Beast vintage t-shirts for dogs! Which brands and/or dog products are proving most popular with dog owners so far? 

Thank you, Modern Beast are awesome and we love their ethical values, one of the many reasons we stock them at Aurora Pets. Generally, our customers love our entire collection of brands and products, each brand has its own unique quality and values which makes them loved by many and us. From Cloud7 and their extremely clean and stylish approach to design, or Max-Bone and Mister Woof with their playful designs with prints and fabrics. Most important to us and our customers we think is the product being functional, that it will survive 100 washes in the washing machine or that they work out on walks or at home. This is always at the forefront of our mind before anything else.

As a company, you strive to ensure that all your packaging does not contain plastic & is 100 % recyclable.Your company also strive to collaborate with brands who are contributing to improving lives of unfortunate dogs.  Such a worthwhile cause – have you got a particular animal charity that you support?

We work with many different charities selecting different companies to receive donations of beautiful joes and products from our collections. We worked quite closely with the Last Chance Animal Rescue Shelter to document their charity and meet the dogs at their rescue, it was incredibly sad to see all the dogs in the rescue but also reassuring to know they at least have somewhere they are being cared for and loved whilst they wait for their forever home.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes we ship internationally and many of our customers are based in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe

Being passionate dog owners yourself, you also write blogposts on your website which are of interest to other dog owners. What themed posts create the most interest?

We see a lot of interest in our dog walk blogs, we try to make it a little different using a drone to document the landscape whilst walking, currently, we are documenting the UK, we hope to cover other parts of the world to find the absolute best places to adventure with your dogs. Yianni and Yoko’s second love is being outside exploring, their first love is and always will be food. 

Going on long dog walks is one of your favourite things to do…. where are your favourite places to go dog walking? 

Jonathan: The Devil’s Punch Bowl in Hindhead was absolutely incredible for me, it had so many different aspects for a good dog walk, great vista’s, forest, marsh areas and a little stream for the dogs to play in. We were exploring there for more than 4 hours and loved every minute of it.

 Ashton: Epping Forest because it’s such a vast area to explore, you can visit 10 times and each time walk can be different, it is also extremely quiet and peaceful with dog-friendly restaurants to visit once the walk is done to relax in.

Obviously your products have been tested by your adorable dogs, Yianni and Yoko.  Have you ever come across a product that for some reason they took an instant dislike to it?

We have to say balls, Yianni and Yoko are not huge fans of chasing or returning a ball, unless it has treats in it, Yianni is a heavy chewer and destroys most toys we give him within minutes, the rope toys are great for him to sit and chew on as they also clean his teeth while he is chewing. Yoko wants anything Yianni has got despite her always having one for herself she will ignore it and wait for Yianni to finish with his.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Both of our looks can vary day to day, classy street style would be a good way to describe our daily looks as we have to fit in working plus the chance of getting muddy whilst out walking the dogs. when we are going out for events or a night out, we both like to look smart.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Ashton: Zara, Ted Baker, and Gucci are my favourites

Jonathan: I love Zara and Farfetch 

Boots or Shoes?

Ashton: Boots – comfortable, versatile and they look great with most outfits.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Aurora Pets

Website: https://www.aurorapets.co.uk

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/aurorapets/

Thank you Ashton and Jonathan. I’m so glad that Epping Forest is one of your favourite places to visit when dog walking. I grew up in East London and I had Epping Forest on my doorstep. I spent many happy summer holidays climbing trees, getting lost, nature spotting, having picnics in Epping Forest. It certainly is a special place.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Ashton & Jonathan Rose (Aurora Pets)

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An Interview With Canine Chic

In the past I have interviewed and been wowed by many jewellery designers – from pearls to silicone; silver to diamonds – we’ve read them all!  This week though we are talking about our lovable pooches and their jewellery needs  – yes, that’s right – jewellery for dogs!  My guest, Sarah Eyton is a designer and creative director of “Canine Chic of London”  specialising in pug pendants – luxurious and stylish identity pendants for dogs (and their owners).  I caught up with Sarah to find out more…. hi Sarah!

Hi! My name is Sarah Eyton (pronounced Eye Ton). I am a jewellery and fashion accessories designer from London.

What was the inspiration behind your choice to make pug pendants?

The idea came to me about a year ago, due to clients requests and realising a gap in the market. Within my profession as a jewellery designer, I had often been asked if I could work to varying types of commission. Several customers were asking if I could design and make personalised identity discs for their dogs’ collars. They were asking because they had searched everywhere for beautiful and stylish ID discs to adorn their loved ones’ necks but the search for them had not been fruitful. They’d looked and they couldn’t find anything that came close to what they were searching for – unique designer pendants that complimented or expressed their sartorial aspirations for their four legged friends. Equally important, they often wanted matching ones to wear themselves. They are called PugPendants because my first client was a Pug owner – the name just seemed sweet and appropriate.

Your pug pendants have been promoted by UK based celebrity dogs, including Marcel LeCorgi, Miss Marple, Monty the Frenchie & Coco the Frenchie. I’m fascinated by the Zodiac discs! To date, what has been your most popular pug pendant style?

Yes, I’m very fortunate to have attracted the support from some of the most famous dogs in the U.K! So far the most popular PugPendants are the individual star sign discs – most people know their Dog’s birthday and many owners are getting their own specific zodiac pendant to match. They make a lovely gift, as they come with a little printed scroll depicting the Personality traits of that particular Star sign.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – available in 24K yellow or rose gold plate with a crystal colour choice – where do you find inspiration from for the range of dog tag designs?

I am inspired by sacred geometry. The ‘Oracle’ and ‘Starburst’ PugPendant designs are both derived from this. Then I have fun with the colours of the crystals. Swarovski have such an amazing colour range.

As you are based in London, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

All PugPendants are shipped worldwide which is included in the purchase price.

Do you own a dog (or any other pet)?

I have a lovely cat called Eden! It may seem strange to design for dogs when I don’t have one but the truth is if I had my own – he would have been my model and my Muse, so I would never have met all these wonderful dogs and their Humans. They guide me a lot in the creative process by identifying what (in an ideal world) they would want for their furry friends and I can remain (slightly) objective.

You are also a “human” jewellery designer. Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I was a Professional Actress from the age of 14 till 26.
I thought that I would always do that, however in my mid twenties, my circumstances changed. I decided to do a Art foundation, which led to a BA Hons in 3 dimensional design and silversmithing at Brighton University. I consider myself fortunate to have been very involved in many aspects of design, from interiors to furniture and homewares. However, the last 8 years have been focussed on designing jewellery and fashion accessories, including handbags – and now dog apparel!

Your jewellery collection features a lot of Perspex bangles as well as other materials such as aluminium, precious metals, silver & gold. Why do you enjoy using Perspex, over other materials?

I love Perspex! The colours and its versatility. When I first started there wasn’t many fashion people designing with it and laser engraving was in its infancy. I felt like a pioneer and wanted to explore this arena. I wanted to change the impression people had of plastics being seen as landfill – obviously some is and that is a real problem! However, branded Perspex is about 3 x the price of glass, so I consider it a luxury material and treat it as such. As they are handmade, none of my pieces are mass produced.

Are there other canine chic pieces in the pipeline for the future?

So many ideas, so little time! I have a whole new range of products for dogs (and occasionally their humans) in production, mainly to be released in time for Christmas and next year.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love heels but they have to be comfortable. I’m better with quite tailored clothes and have to look fairly smart for meetings etc but am more casual at home.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I pick up most pieces in the High Street stores like TopShop and Zara etc but occasionally get a versatile designer piece to dress things up.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I really need some smart winter day boots to walk around town in.

Boots or Shoes?

I’m afraid it has to be both. It’s a London weather thing…boots in winter and shoes during our short and unpredictable summer…
I like ankle boots to wear with jeans etc and higher boots with skirts.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Canine Chic and your own jewellery collection.

Canine Chic of London is on www.caninechicoflondon.co.uk also please follow on Instagram, as that’s where the day to day stuff happens @caninechicoflondon 

My Perspex jewellery and handbags is at www.saraheytondesigns.co.uk and on Instagram I am @saraheyton

Thank you Sarah! I’m fascinated by the zodiac pendants for dogs! I wonder if pets exhibit the same characteristics as humans born under the same star sign?! I don’t have dogs but I do have 2 cats who were both born at the end of July, making them Leos. You certainly know they are there, they enjoy being made a fuss of and they love being brushed …. hmm.. just like my Leo born husband and son! What star sign are your pets? Do they show any characteristics usually linked with that star sign? Do share your opinions, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Sarah Eyton/ Canine Chic of London.

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