Notes From the Janery Studio
What a sweet, stubborn, rescued street dog taught me about being a pet parent, a business owner, and a good human.
For those of you who may not know the story, Janery began as a labor of love for a sweet, occasionally incontinent, rescued dog named Charlie. I could never have known that the day I took her home from the veterinary hospital would change the course of my life, and several lives since.
Here’s what I learned from knowing and loving Charlie, and now what you can learn from me.
1. Aggression is sometimes a misplaced stubbornness for survival.
While Charlie was eager to please those she trusted, her body showed the abuse of the streets. A bullet in one leg. A poorly healed bullet path fracture in her other leg’s bone. An eyeball we had to remove, thanks to an injury the vet said could only be caused by a blow to the head.
Charlie’s life had clearly been a fight for survival, so I wasn’t surprised when she showed aggression to strangers, especially men. When my parents first met Charlie, they said, “You need to put that dog down, she’s going to get you sued!” But everyone underestimated the stubborn determination that Charlie and I both shared.
I worked incredibly hard, devouring training books, firmly asserting myself as the leader, and making it clear that aggressive behavior was unacceptable. Within months Charlie’s behavior was transformed, and my parents never stopped commenting on how amazed they were by the transformation.
We humans could take a few notes from Charlie, who had to open her world to a new (and no doubt vulnerable) way of trusting, living, and connecting with those around her. This training doesn’t always work (*see safety note below), but it helped open Charlie up to more people who couldn’t wait to love her.
2. Stubbornness is an immensely useful (albeit frustrating) trait.
Growing up, I struggled with ADHD and focus, and I would never have thought myself capable of consistently training a dog, let alone starting and growing a business. Charlie taught me that I am capable of more than I gave myself credit for—I just needed a really good reason. This determined confidence started with Charlie and then seeped into other areas of my life. I witnessed the transformation of a dog. I launched Janery. And, most importantly, I now know that nothing can stop me when I believe I can do it.
3. There is immense value in a proper introduction.
As I worked with Charlie to refine her behavior, I quickly realized that many people—adults and kids—lacked proper knowledge of the best way to approach a strange dog. Even after we resolved her aggressive behavior, I had to be alert when walking Charlie.
Having lost one eye, Charlie was easily startled when surprised from her “blind” side. I quickly learned to head off advances from children, adults in hats, and dogs on extendable leashes, and almost all could use a lesson on how to approach strange dogs for the first time.
- Slow down or stop.
- Ask the pet parent if it’s okay if you pet their dog.
- If ok, gradually extend a hand, palm-side down, so that the dog can sniff without fear of being touched.
- Pet accordingly.
This is the best way to ensure the dog isn’t threatened and therefore has a chance to act on its best behavior. I’m sure we could all name a human or two who would benefit from this sort of warning!
4. Never underestimate the power of loyalty.
If I had to choose one word to describe Charlie, it would be “devoted”. Two words? “Stubbornly devoted.” I hadn’t understood the depth of a dog’s devotion until I brought her home. She loved many people she got to know, but I was her person. She would have followed me to the end of the earth, and I’m convinced it was her desire to please me that helped her overcome her aggressive behavior.
For us humans, loyalty takes a few different forms. It’s what keeps us happily married. It’s what holds us fast to our personal beliefs. When I set out to create a dog bed company founded on ethical manufacturing, unparalleled materials, uncompromising function, and generous philanthropy, I channeled my inner Charlie—and I’m as loyal to those founding principles now as much as ever.
5. The easiest hellos can make the hardest goodbyes.
Before Charlie, I stood with hundreds of pet owners in the veterinary hospital as they said goodbye. I awkwardly witnessed their pain firsthand time and time again. But nothing prepared me for the difficulty of ending the life of my companion of over 10 years. I knew it was the kindest, most ethical choice, but that didn’t make it easier for me to rest my forehead against hers as she took her last breath.
Maybe you have been there, feeling the palpable hole that’s left behind, as if your house and heart both feel emptier and quieter. That feeling of loss is a sign of a relationship that matters. And the emptiness you feel shows you just how much love you are capable of giving--and how much they taught you to stretch. And I always find that comforting.
It just goes to show that life presents you with many opportunities to learn and grow along our little journeys. I, for one, am glad Charlie walked with me for a while on mine. Robert Frost would call it “the road less traveled.” I called it a dank corner in downtown Richmond. Either way, it has made all the difference.
*Safety disclaimer: It’s best to consult a behaviorist at the first sign of aggression in a dog. Sadly, not every aggressive dog can be safely rehabilitated, and a professional can help you make the best decisions that respect the lives of your dog, your family, and the people around you.
PS: Charlie also taught me the importance of a really good, waterproof dog bed. We learned together that not all dog beds are made well where it counts—and that stinks (sometimes literally!). Learn more about the dog bed Charlie inspired!.
Wondering why you should avoid online veterinary pharmacies? Your quest to save money could cost your pet’s health a whole lot more.
Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for?” When we talked about safe flea and tick prevention for your pets, we mentioned the dangers of grocery store flea products. But there’s another danger - the appealing cost savings offered by popular online pharmacies.
Again I’ll cite my years in the veterinary industry, and be blunt: You should always get your pet medications from your vet’s office or a pharmacy that they specifically recommend. Here’s why:
1. Questionable sources may provide counterfeit medications
Most major pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell directly to online pharmacies and encourage customers to obtain the drugs only from their local veterinarian.
How, then, do the online pharmacies get their product?
They hide behind the phrase “trade secrets”, refusing to divulge the sources of the medications they stock. That’s a cause for concern. They may get some from vets who sell in bulk to them. But there are numerous reports of counterfeit, expired, and even overseas product (Chinese labels covered by stick-on English labels) being received when customers order from online pharmacies.
2. Unethical business practices can endanger your pet’s health
Some of the most well-known, widely-advertised, and “certified” online pharmacies have been known to fill prescriptions after the vet’s office says not to. This is unethical and can be dangerous for your pet.
Consider heartworm disease. Your vet requires an annual heartworm test before refilling prescriptions. That’s because, if your dog has contracted heartworms, a preventative medication like Heartgard could actually kill your dog. If your vet refuses to approve an online prescription refill because your dog needs the test, that’s for the safety of your dog. Would a truly ethical pharmacy ignore their request and refill it?
3. Online pharmacies void the manufacturer’s guarantee
When you purchase heart worm, flea, and tick medications directly from your vet, they are guaranteed by the pharmaceutical company if something goes wrong. They will cover the cost of treatment. If you buy it from an online pharmaceutical company, the pharmaceutical company does not honor the guarantee. Again, this is because the pharmaceutical company cannot guarantee the efficacy of the medication.
4. Local vets are not in it for the profits
A locally owned veterinary hospital is a small business, just like mine. Vets have extensive medical training, just like human doctors, yet they receive significantly lower salaries. The cost of veterinary medicine is not subsidized by grants or widely-held insurance. Have you ever compared the cost of pet surgery to that of human surgery?
I often heard my vets worry out loud whenever a client said they couldn’t pay for a surgery or medication. But the vet’s worries were always for the health of the pet, not for the health of our profit margin.
Note: If your pet is on long-term medication, speak with your vet about possibly getting it at a lower price from a reputable pharmacy like Costco. Most vets are happy to accommodate this request.
And finally: learn to identify counterfeit pet medications
Counterfeit pet medications are a dime a dozen, especially on sites like Amazon. I know some people who use the veterinary-recommended Seresto flea collar but have received counterfeit products when ordering online at a discount.
The EPA compiled this comprehensive guide on how to spot counterfeit pet medications. Signs include:
- Lacks directions in English (or comes with no directions at all!)
- Doesn’t come in child-proof packaging
- Weight of package doesn’t match printed weight
- Stickers covering the packaging - especially the brand name
- Foreign language on the packaging or labeling instead of English
We know that being an educated pet parent makes you the best kind of pet parent. You’ve done a lot for your dog in the name of comfort, from getting her human-grade food to lining her crate with a Merlin Mat. You want only the best for your four-legged friends and so do we!
Flea and tick season has returned to much of the United States, which means many pet owners are looking for the best flea, tick, and parasite preventative medications for their cats and dogs.
We're paying closer attention to our dog Amber, checking her for ticks after hikes in the woods. We’re also using a carefully-chosen, veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventative for Amber and our cat, Aretha. We want to keep them - and our house - safe from the pests.
But with the warm weather comes the danger of inexpensive flea, tick, and parasite preventatives.
A cat video went viral last summer, and not because it was cute. The cat was suffering from burns and seizures most likely caused by an inexpensive topical flea treatment such as Hartz or Sergeant.
Here’s how you can safely find the best flea and tick solution for your pets:
1. Use veterinarian-approved flea & tick prevention
Your veterinary office should offer a wide variety of flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventatives. But you may wonder about the cheaper options you see on the shelves of your grocery or pet store.
They’re cheaper for a reason.
In a previous life, I worked in veterinary medicine - as a surgical tech and a hospital manager. During my time in emergency medicine, I saw first hand how many pets suffered devastating effects from “cheap” flea and tick preventatives. Burns. Seizures. And yes - sometimes death.
The worst part? The suffering. And the second worst: emergency treatment always ended up costing the pet parent far more than a 6-pack of veterinarian-approved flea and tick medicine.
2. Stick to your dosing schedule, especially for heart worm prevention
Fleas are a pain. Ticks carry the risk of Lyme disease. Heartworms can be the scariest parasite to treat.
While I choose to treat my pets for fleas in spring through fall, I am vigilant about the monthly, year-round dosing schedule for heartworm & intestinal parasite preventative. I accidentally missed 2 doses of Amber's heartworm meds this summer and she ended up with two types of intestinal parasites. Medical treatment of the worms cost over $300.
I won’t make that mistake again. The price is just too high, and I’m not just talking about the vet bill.
3. Work with your vet to find the best solution for your family
This spring I switched Amber to NexGuard chewable for fleas and ticks, leaving the old Frontline topical liquid behind. Fleas seem to be evolving to be more immune to the old Frontline, and my vet explained that clinical trials are showing much better protection with the newer NexGuard. There have been very few side effects reported, as well.
It was the right choice for Amber, but it may not be the right choice for your pets.
Flea and tick prevention isn’t one size fits all. Every pet is different and their needs vary - you wouldn’t buy the same size of dog bed for a Great Dane and a Chihuahua - why would you buy them the same medicine?
It’s imperative that you talk with your vet before making a change. If you don’t know how to start the conversation, the American Veterinary Medical Association has some great questions for you to ask.
4. “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe
“Natural” remedies have become popular, and while there are some fantastic natural remedies for different issues, you can't assume that “natural” means safe.
Take essential oils, for example. They’re wildly popular and often touted as a “healthy” alternative to traditional science-based medicine. But they are often unsafe for pets - especially when it comes to flea and tick prevention. I've seen natural flea remedies that include Tea Tree Oil, but it is not safe for pets.
Another "natural" flea remedy that many vets caution against? Garlic capsules for dogs. They are in the Allium family with onions. Even chronic consumption of small amounts can poison a dog.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ve seen too many sad cases in the emergency room. Always talk with your trusted veterinarian before trying any new “natural” treatment. Many great vets are now trained to blend the best of both traditional and alternative / herbal therapies, and they have your pet’s best interest at heart.
How to Choose Flea Prevention:
- Always work with your vet to determine the best preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, heart worms, and intestinal parasites.
- Avoid Hartz brand and any other “low cost” over the counter flea product. Hartz is actually being sued because their products are suspected of killing pets.
- Exercise caution with “natural” remedies. Remember: Grapes and onions are natural, but they are poisonous to dogs! Not all essential oils are safe for pets, even in diffusers.
- Never use a dog product on a cat or a cat product on a dog. Both inactive and active ingredients may vary and may pose risks to your pet.
- Avoid online pharmacies that promise steep discounts. They have been found to be counterfeit, expired, or otherwise ineffective or dangerous. It’s not worth the risk.
Remember, a dangerously cheap solution can end up costing a lot of money, not to mention the life of your pet, in the long run.
In a nutshell, you can buy your [fabulously cute] underwear and your [organic, gluten-free] bread at Target, but you should never buy your pet’s flea, tick, and deworming meds there!
You could say it takes a certain kind of person to adopt a malnourished, incontinent, mistreated street dog. I would say it takes a certain kind of dog to inspire a human to create a washable, waterproof dog bed that lives up to real life.
That dog was Charlie.
I found Charlie on the streets of Richmond, a Rottweiler-Bully-Heinz57 mix full of tender sweetness and almost no hair. At the time, I was working as a vet tech a local hospital, and I marveled at how this emaciated, survival-savvy dog obediently stood for a shower she obviously hated. That was the remarkable thing about Charlie. She came to the table with so much healing to do from bullet wounds, an eye removal, incontinence, and more (it’s actually pretty heartbreaking to list them all). Where it counted, though--her happy, stoic, affectionate heart--she was a picture of health.
It was that combination of her incontinence and love that drove me to test just about every kind of dog bed I could find. Cheap ones. Fancy ones. Ugly ones. Pretty ones. No matter how much money or time I spent or how careful I was, the result was frustratingly the same: once Charlie had an accident on them, the beds were toast. Each time I was appalled--surely there was someone out there who made a washable, waterproof, odor-resistant, and sophisticated dog bed.
Turns out there was. I just hadn’t designed it yet.
I created the Charlie Cushion out of everything that I felt was missing from all of the “best dog beds” on the market. Every feature has been thoughtfully researched and tested, so you know exactly what you are getting (and how much you’ll love it).
The best dog beds are washable.
You could throw away cheap dog beds every time they are ruined by accidents and odors, or...you could save time and energy by investing in a Charlie Cushion that is easy to wash, dry, and put back together. And the benefits of washable dog beds go beyond cost savings. Pets keep their favorite perch. Humans live fabulously funk-free. Landfills get more breathing room. The rest comes out in the rinse cycle.
The best dog beds have waterproof liners.
My stylish dog bed covers may be what catch your eye, but I’ll tell you the interior waterproof liner is what’s truly beautiful. Anyone who has ever tried to cram a dog bed cushion in their washer knows how frustrating it is--even if the rare cushion manages to avoid lumps and bare spots, it still holds on to that residual funk. Our easy-to-wash liners make sure accidents, mud, and odors never make it to the insert, so it never has a chance to harbor all of those odors that “smell like dog.” Plus, our premium waterproof dog bed liners can withstand up to 300 washes--that’s 25 years if you wash them once a month--and never miss a beat.
The best dog beds hold up to real life.
My Charlie had a soft spot for soft spots, and my thick, cozy cushion inserts are channel-sewn to keep the filling from separating and bunching. No bare spots. No lumps. Just clean, crisp lines and happy, happy dogs. When the waterproof liners do all the hard work, all the cushion has to do is provide the soft place to land.
The best dog beds are made with love (and ethical, American manufacturing).
At Janery, we believe that the best products for the home are made here at home. Yes, ethical, American manufacturing is more expensive, but you can’t put a price on humane working conditions. To us, it’s worth it to know that every person who touches our products is paid a fair wage and works in clean, safe working conditions. When you order a Charlie Cushion, you aren’t just investing in one of the best dog beds on the market. You’re investing in people, families, and futures. And that means your dog isn’t the only one sleeping better at night.
The best dog beds give great support.
When I set out to make the best dog beds on the planet, I knew I had an opportunity--and a corporate responsibility--to directly support the animal rescue organizations that help amazing animals find loving homes. Enter Cozy for a Cause, Janery’s simple way to connect 10% of your purchase with your favorite rescue organization.
The best dog beds fit right in.
Anyone who says fabulous fabrics in the hottest hues can’t pull a family together hasn’t had a Charlie Cushion in their living room. Great style feels like it belongs, which is why I work so hard to create dog beds and pet accessories that fit right into the mix. Your dog may not be able to appreciate the vibrant colors or the upholstery-grade, washable canvas, but I know you will.
Find out which fabrics feel most at home: order your free fabric swatches here.
The Charlie Cushion: Everything you ever wanted in a dog bed, inspired by everything I ever wanted in a dog.
Charlie Cushions pass the test of real life and are a testament to real love. I eventually lost my sweet girl to cancer, but I’m proud to say her spirit lives on in the products that bear her name. So, here’s to the best dogs and the best dog beds. May they always find each other and a way home.
We’ve officially welcomed Richmond Animal League as our newest Cozy for a Cause member.
I created Cozy for a Cause as a way to do more for homeless pets and the organizations who support them. You might remember Cozy for a Cause from our campaign to give back following Hurricane Harvey last fall. Thanks to you, we were able to donate to local rescues following the hurricane, but we didn’t stop there. Homeless pets deserve a comfortable place to land and we can help provide that as a company. So, how do you help?
It’s as simple as using the organization’s Cozy Code when you shop: your pets get the Janery products you love, and we give the organization you love 10% of your purchase value. You can learn more about Cozy for a Cause here.
A big woof of welcome to the Richmond Animal League
Current adoptable cat, Cloudberry. Photo courtesy RAL.
I’m very familiar with the Richmond Animal League, and even I was surprised to know just how much of a resource they have been to the capital city for almost 40 years.
- In 2015 alone, they found homes for more than 2,000 rescued animals.
- They coordinate the efforts of 15 staff members and over 300 weekly volunteers to care for the animals.
- Their Loving Spay & Neuter Clinic provides free and low-cost services to municipal shelters, rescue groups, and private pet owners, performing 7,000 such surgeries each year.
Current adoptable dog, Fiadh (Photo credit: Becky Huddleston Photography)
On top of hosting “Woofstock” and the Sugar and Spice Ball every year, RAL is proud to offer weekly and monthly events to help Richmonders and their pets find each other. I found the dogs who inspired Janery on the streets of Richmond, and I know how lucky I am. I’m thankful for all the ways RAL keeps that love going.
Want to show your support?
Enter code COZYRAL in the discount box at checkout and 10% of your purchase will go directly to this worthy cause. It’s that simple!
Want to see your favorite rescue organization supported by Cozy for a Cause? We do, too! Pop over to Instagram or Facebook and leave us their contact information or Email Us and we’ll reach out. It’s as easy as a walk in the park with a well-behaved pup. ;)
Need extra seating or a softer place to land?
Have you seen Janery’s collection of Floor Pillows? Inspired by our style-savvy, pet-loving friends at Yellow Brick Home, we wanted our Floor Pillows to be family-friendly, for the whole family. Pets included.
After sewing some covers for their denim floor pillows (which their pups, Jack and CC, love to drag around to sunny spots in the house), we realized that Kim was on to something. While floor pillows provide extra seating for guests, they’re also chic pet beds in disguise!
Enter the Janery floor pillow - in three fabulous hues that blend seamlessly with the Gemstone collection of pet beds and throw pillows. But with a slightly tougher canvas cover.
Sure enough, when we added a few to our living room at the holidays, Amber and Aretha (our nearly-invisible scaredy-cat) claimed them the second our out-of-town guests hit the road. It turns out they were just as big fans as Jack and CC.
Fabulous decor that can be shared by all members of the family, with a wash in-between as needed? Yes, please!
Floor pillows stacked nonchalantly in the corner of a room look polished but still livable. And because real life can get a little too real sometimes with kids and pets, you want something that’s effortlessly chic - meaning durable and washable.
Are our Floor Pillows a good fit for your home (or your pet)?
We think so, but every home is different. Are you:
- Wanting to get down on your kids’ (human or pet) level for more quality snuggle time, without having to worry about spills, paw prints, or sore bottoms?
- Totally loving the modern bohemian trend? Signs may include an obsession with hanging plants, luscious ethnic textiles, and a hankering for floor cushions.
- Looking for inviting decor that can bounce back in an hour when (messy) life happens? (Tip: Protect the inserts with waterproof Eurosham liners - there are many options online.)
- Searching for something a bit more versatile and low profile than our Charlie Cushions to fit seamlessly into your home?
- Hoping to provide a soft spot to land for pets under 50 pounds?
If you’re nodding your head “yes, yes” to any points above, we invite you to pull up a cushion. It can be such a relief to find style that holds up to whatever life throws, smears, or lays on it.
PS: If you're loving the look of the Yellow Brick Home denim floor pillows, and would like something custom made for your pets - drop us a line! We offer a limited number of custom pet bed orders.