Our First Q&A Episode

WEARING: AGNES B GREY FRONT BUTTON SHIRT | PERSOL GLASSES

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Hey guys! Welcome back to my blog! And to new visitors... welcome and stick around because you're in for a treat today! Since I've started my blog which was roughly two years ago, I get asked a lot of questions about my dog and what life is like in a big city with him. Whether it's in person or on social media, everyone adores my German shepherd, McQueen... or, what most of you guys know him as: MaQ! There were so many questions to narrow it down to due to time constraint and the desire for wanting to keep a few precious moments private such as when and where we met him, why and how. And even though I like to keep that sort of balance within my personal life, I still wanted to share a few fun facts about my partner in crime. So let's take a look, shall we? 

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HOW DID HE GET HIS NAME? 

McQueen was named after the devastatingly handsome actor, Steve McQueen. Both carry such a look and are equally charismatic, Steve and I even share the same birthday, so it was only natural to give him such a unique name. We call him 'MaQ' for short because of coined phrases like, "Big Mac" and "Mack Daddy". He is quite big and a total ladies man. :)

HOW OLD IS MAQ?

5. In human years, he's technically 35 but still acts like a kid. Young at heart, I suppose. ❤️

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FAVORITES?

He just loves to play. If he could have it his way, he'd run me around all day! He's a total ball hog like many GSDs I know, but his favorite game is the toy game, or "identification" game where he can search and find whatever stuffed animal I ask him to go get, and he's got a lot of 'em. I am thinking about doing a video on this because it's just too cute and you'd be impressed with how smart he is on top of how many toys he's spoiled with! 

He also love to eat and share food with us. Yes, I'm guilty as charged and am totally that paw-rent who indulges in feeding her pooch table scraps. I can't help it! I don't want him to feel left out, ha ha! I of course only share with him what's healthy and reasonable. But every once in a while you just gotta go for the carbs. We love to share french fries together and his favorite is pizza crust. I love it too but since having MaQ, I give all my crust to him as if it's some kind of ritual between us.  

He is never without his "security blanket", or rather, his "Natty" girl. It's a plush stuffed animal monkey and I named her after Natalie Wood, who was one of Steve McQueen's ladies back in the day and they were quite the couple! You should see her in the video from this post, Natty was the size of MaQ when I first got him! 

DISLIKES?

Cats. Baths. And the rain. 

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DOES MAQ HAVE A GIRLFRIEND?

If you looked this good, would you be with only only person? Ha ha ha! He is a total player! You should see him picking up chicks on our walks... both human and canine! He's got a thing for blonds and leggy women. Hey, can ya blame him? 

DOES MAQ SLEEP WITH YOU IN BED AT NIGHT?

Honestly? No, he and I like to have our own space. I'm the type that likes to cuddle for about 3 minutes and then I'm good. He's the same, ha ha! What he tends to do most at night is keep watch. He's a good ole' boy and protects the house. 

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That's it for now! Be sure to come back and see more upcoming Q&A's! Don't forget to watch our episode on YouTube down below and if you have a question you'd like answered about us, leave it in the comment box or find me on social media! Follow me and MaQ on Instagram! Have a great weekend, everyone. We'll see ya back here on Monday! 

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OUR FIRST Q&A EPISODE!

Happy Friday, guys! Today's video is our very first Q&A with my partner in crime, my German shepherd dog, McQueen (AKA: MaQ)! After receiving a lot of questions about us from our readers, I thought it was finally time to do a sit down and answer some of them! Click to watch!

LOVE & XX'S, 

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Pup-Peroni with MaQ-eroni

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The J.M. Smucker
Company. The opinions and text are all mine.

With my crazy hectic schedule as a full-time writer, photographer, and blogger/digital content creator, I don't get that much time with my German Shepherd dog, McQueen, or also known as MaQ to most of you, as much as I'd like to. So I definitely make room for some heavy duty quality time with my fur baby every chance I can get. It's not only for his well being but for mine as well. We are each other's best friend and if I could take him everywhere with me, I would in a heartbeat. Which is why when I was recently asked by Pup-Peroni to share some of MaQ's most recent favorite treats we, of course, wanted to share with you a couple of his choices! Here's a small clue to what he always goes for... and they are made with real meaty goodness!

When MaQ sees these Pup-Peroni Original Beef Flavor Dog Treats, he immediately starts to drool and gives you the 'I want it NOW' eyes. He'll do anything for these treats, one of his favorite go-to maneuvers is the paw shake or high-five, which is always rewarded with a treat or affection. We do everything together and I love being able to count on a brand that provides real meat like beef, steak, bacon, etc. as the #1 ingredient in their treats. Even made with real Angus steak, (MaQ also is in love with the Prime Rib flavor as well) I am reassured that I'm giving something authentic and tasty to my beloved pooch. With less time to worry about what I'm giving my dog, I can spend the time I have with him playing and enjoying our time together, showing other people his tricks and 'tricks of the trade.' 

One of his favorite games he's loved playing since he was a puppy is what we like to call the "Idenitification" game. MaQ has an assortment of plush toys, ranging from a dragon, fox, pig, monkey, practically a whole farm, that he absolutely adores, so much in fact, that he doesn't rip them up to shreds like other dogs sometimes do. We'll put all the toys in the toy bin and then ask MaQ to individually bring us a certain one, one by one until he is mentally exhausted. He can bring nearly twenty toys in one sitting! I'm not kidding! I'm even thinking about doing a live video on Instagram or Facebook one of these days, what do you guys think of that idea? We, of course, reward him each time for his efforts with his favorite mouth-watering beef treats. 

MaQ aims to please and is one playful pup while doing so! Some other activities we love doing together are taking long walks throughout the city, rollerblading and playing catch with one of his favorite balls. He also loves going to the store with me, even hearing the word gets him super excited! But no matter where we go, I always keep a few Pup-Peroni treats within reach. When people ask how MaQ is so well-behaved, it's not just his demeanor, it's the hundreds of treats given through training and positive reinforcement. When you can make training fun and full of engagement, it can do wonders for you and your pup. And with the best meaty treats, your dog will do anything for one! You can find Pup-Peroni Original Beef Flavor Dog Treats (38 oz.) at your local Walmart in the pet aisle. Woof, YEAH!!! 

LOVE & XX'S,

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How to Take the Best Pictures of Your Dog

WEARING: LASSO DOGS LEASH & CAMERA STRAP | UNIQLO DOWN VEST | 
BDG JEANS | CHIC ALLOY MATTED SUNGLASSES |
NIKE REVOLUTION 3 RUNNING SHOES IN BLACK | LULULEMON RUN WITH ME NECK WARMER

Happy Monday! I've been working hard on creating the best content I can for you guys! I'm booked up solid until the end of the first week of November with new upcoming stories, as overwhelming and crazy as it's ever been, I cannot wait to share everything we have in store for you! From more fall looks to even a special feature interview, today we're covering how to take the best pictures of your dog! Here are 8 tips on making this somewhat challenging task more enjoyable for everyone involved. :)

1. CARRY HIGH-QUALITY EQUIPMENT

This goes without saying. And I'm not talking technical equipment such as the camera or lens, but other factors that need to be considered when doing dog photography. Like a 100+ pound wolflike dog that will need a good steady leash in between takes, which is why I use Lasso's rudder leash and matching camera strap. What's great is the customization options Lasso has - you can choose length, size and colors for each. I went with a 36 inch camera strap because of my small petite frame, but you can choose from a selection of lengths. Same with the leash. And I can't forgot about footwear and eyewear. When photographing MaQ, I will always be in sneakers. My go-to pair for the past year are the Nike 3 Revolution running shoes. And recently, I've been obsessed with the Chic Alloy matted sunglasses. If I can't see and/or move for photo shoots, we might have a problem. :) 

2. PERFECT TIMING

I'm not talking about f-stops or shutter speed, but more about being in tune with your dog's energy and vibe. Looking for a regal portrait? Draining your dog's energy with exercise before the shoot can help you and your dog be in a more calm, relaxed state. If you're opting for more action shots, the photo shoot itself will provide the exercise! Save that energy for this kind of shoot. This also goes with trust and training. It has taken a lot of time and work to get MaQ to pose the way he does. Our bond is undeniable and it shows in our pictures, but when people ask me how I get my dog to be so still and focused in photos, it's all on training, timing and dedication. 

3. DECIDE ON YOUR LOCATION/BACKGROUND

Will you two be in a park? Or on the streets of a bustling city such as ours in this post? Being prepared comes in handy when shooting with your furry baby. Know what to bring for certain settings and environments, such as warmer months of the year, carry water to stay hydrated. Extra batteries never hurt either. The more aware you are of your surroundings for a shoot will only better your comfortability and chances of getting the shot(s) you really want. That's where the magic really starts to happen!

4. KEEP SETTING/ENVIRONMENT NATURAL & RELAXED

It's important to get your dog used to the sights and sounds of his surroundings as well. And it's even more crucial for you yourself to try and stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I try to stay away from squeaky baby-talk or shouting uncontrollable things to my boy during a shoot. Calling his name once or twice is usually enough, though sometimes like a teenaged kid, his attention span lessens and I have to get a bit more firm with a 'watch me' command. When he hears this, he knows it's time to stay focused. And he is ready to please. All in all, the goal is to always make any experience a positive one. One that is fun & engaging for both of you!

5. TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES

I've always believed in out of the ten times you're trying at something, doesn't matter what it is, you may get one good bite/hit/whatever word you would like to insert here to describe it. This also applies in taking pictures. The more you take, the better chance you'll have in getting those amazing shots. Candid ones are the best in this type of scenario. And the more time you spend with a camera, the more you will learn and grow in the process. 

6. TURN OFF FLASH

In my opinion the best form of light is natural sunlight. It is perfect for pet photography too. However, if you really need to use a flash, especially indoors, try to use an off-camera flash and turn it upwards so the light's bouncing off the ceiling and not your dog giving them demon eyes. Ha ha ha! 

7. GET YOUR DOG'S ATTENTION

Stock up on dog treats and toys! Positive reinforcement also brings an overall positive experience. Each time you reward your pooch after getting the shot(s) you want, makes the time spent together an awesome one. How can you get your dog to look straight into the lens of the camera? Bring their favorite toy or treat and hover it over the camera to entice them. For example, MaQ, like many German Shepherds, has an extreme high level of ball drive, so we use his all-time favorite Chuck-It ball for photo shoots. He could focus on that ball all day long. This is a great way to get their undivided attention. :)

8. GET ON YOUR DOG'S LEVEL

Literally meeting eye-to-eye with your dog will help them see you as an equal, that it's not an alpha moment but an experience to share together. And a good one at that! By also doing this, you can think outside the box in terms of angles and composition as most think to photograph their pet from above first. So get ready to get on the ground and perhaps get a little dirty... trust me it'll be worth it! ;)


Sponsored post in collaboration with LASSO & DRESS LILY.

photos + videography by Gilles Decamps & Suzanne Spiegoski

Our latest pet lifestyle video, 'How to Take the Best Pictures of Your Dog!' 8 Tips + Full story on the blog at www.suzannespiegoski.com and to get more info on the featured leash & camera strap go to itslasso.com photos + videography by Suzanne Spiegoski & Gilles Decamps Be sure to Subscribe for new videos every week http://bit.ly/21XFK0K 

LOVE & XX'S,

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5 Tips on Dog Walking Etiquette in a Big City

WEARING: ANIMAL HEARTED 'I ❤️ MY GERMAN SHEPHERD TANK TOP | 
FOREVER 21 CUFFED DENIM SHORTS | LASSO RUDDER LEASH 

Happy Thursday, everyone! I'm delighted about the short work week! We are looking forward to the weekend, where we spend most of our time outside walking MaQ and having fun. But, having a massive German Shepherd in a city such as New York, does have its setbacks and challenges. But I'm all for being resourceful, so with that, today I'm sharing with you my 5 tips on dog walking etiquette in a big city, like the New York metropolitan area!  

1. KNOW YOUR DOG

Knowing your dog's strengths and flaws along with what and who your dog's likes and dislikes are, will bring more awareness when you're out and about. They also say dogs are mirror images to their owners, so be mindful of who you are. If you're an anxious person, you're pet will more than likely be as well. This is also the time to put away the phones! Stop scrolling and pay attention to your surroundings and your dog. But don't forget to enjoy your time together and the little moments that really matter the most. 

2. LEAD THE WAY

When it comes to leadership, you want to do this as soon as possible with your dog. As the Alpha pack leader, you must always be the first to enter or exit out of any passageway, may that be a door, elevator, etc. Not only does this demonstrate who is the leader, but this is also demonstrates self-control. Having your dog sprint outside can cause many behavioral issues such as over-excitement, anxiety and other bad manners. Not everyone, dogs included, like to see a ginormous wolf-like hound bursting out of a door first. When it comes to your daily walks, which is approximately 1.5 - 2 hours a day with MaQ in the city, you also lead the way. Remember, you're walking the dog not the other way around. Training your dog to hell is very important and an essential tool for you on your walks. Forging isn't as bad - this is when your dog is walking slightly past your feet. It's actually a great preventative for dogs who ten to go looking for scraps on the streets of a bigger city. This way, you have a better chance of catching them before they consume it. Overall, leading on walks puts you, in your dog's mind, as the pack leader. This makes them much more trainable because they will be aiming to please you non-stop, and they will also be more obedient - making walks a pleasure rather than a nightmare.  

3. ALWAYS ASK FIRST

Regardless how much you love dogs, and trust me on this, as I'm a total dog lover myself, you should always ask permission if you'd like to approach someone's pet. The same should go with your dog meeting other dogs. You can never know, at first glance, if a dog is friendly, aggressive or even a service dog of some kind, especially on some of those harnesses that clearly label, 'DO NOT PET', some still may miss it while overdosing on cuteness overload. :)

4. KEEP YOUR DOG ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES

Walking the streets of New York, I can tell you I've had my fair share of experiences when it comes to seeing many owners walk their dogs unleashed! This frightens people, especially with certain larger breeds that people are opted to be more scared of. In a city like ours, it is best to keep your dog on a leash as a protector from all the street and people traffic. Of course, dog parks and other places like this are an exception. But being out in public with hundreds of people walking around all the time, it's just better for everybody. 

5. PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG

Lastly... ever see that Sex & the City episode when Carrie steps in a knee-deep pile of poo-poo while in Paris? Yeah, no one wants that! I too have had my fair share with these encounters and if it's not too much to ask (literally takes 30 seconds of your life), please pick up after your dog!  

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check out the full video for this post on our YouTube channel! Got some questions after reading this article? Leave them down below in the comment box! Hope you all have a great rest of the week! 


Sponsored post in collaboration with LASSO & Animal Hearted

photos + videography by Gilles Decamps | director, editing, & styling by Suzanne Spiegoski

Greetings from the Big Apple! A {NEW VIDEO} is now up on our channel! We're sharing 5 Tips on Dog Walking Etiquette in a big city, such as the New York metropolitan area! 

LOVE & XX'S, 

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Best Snow Day Ever!

WEARING: UNIQLO DOWN COAT WOMEN IN BROWN,
 LULULEMON RUN WITH ME NECK WARMER & FROSTY RUN GLOVES,
 FOREVER 21 POM BEANIE HAT, WOMEN'S SOREL CARIBOU WINTER BOOTS.
MaQ & I enjoying Blizzard Jonas . New York City, January 23, 2016. ©  Gilles Decamps

MaQ & I enjoying Blizzard Jonas. New York City, January 23, 2016. © Gilles Decamps

Hey there! Just another manic Monday! This weekend, New York City almost broke the record for the biggest blizzard here to date. We made it to the second most largest snowstorm, piling up with over two feet of snow. (26.8 inches of it to be exact!) We had a blast, to say at the very least, especially my boy, MaQ, who LOVES the cold and even more so, the pow pow!

Start of Winter Storm Jonas, New York City, 14th Street, January 2016.

Start of Winter Storm Jonas, New York City, 14th Street, January 2016.

I think a lot of New Yorkers like myself kind of scoffed at the idea of a big bad snowstorm because in recent years, the meteorologists have been far from being accurate. What can you do, you can't predict Mother Nature! We even got more snow than D.C. had initially planned on getting! But the city is back up and running today, except in some boroughs like Queens who basically got the short end of the stick when it came to snow maintenance on the residential streets. So how did we enjoy the weekend?

"Let's play all day, every day, always and forever." -MaQ's mantra

"Let's play all day, every day, always and forever." -MaQ's mantra

By playing like children, of course! :) MaQ had way too much fun frolicking in the snow. I love watching him roam around in the deep snow banks because he prances around like Bambi. He just can't get enough of it! We played for hours on Saturday morning before it really started to come down hard. We went to the Stuyvesant dog run where we relished in a snowball fight and ran around with other doggy pals full of light-hearted laughter and youthful grins. ♥

Want to see some real-live action of my fur baby? Check out the slow-motion video of MaQ running through the snow! I love how he always checks on me, even when I'm videotaping him! Show off. ;) To see more videos of MaQ and I in our daily adventures, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Who's ready for a snowball fight?!

Who's ready for a snowball fight?!

On Sunday, we went out first thing in the morning for round 2. We trudged through deep snow taking in the aftermath of Jonas before stopping to run and romp around in blankets and blankets of the unpaved snowfall. As an original Michigander, I'm quite used to the massive amounts of the white stuff but there's something so magical and peaceful about the city after a huge blizzard. This was my fourth or fifth big snowstorm since being in New York.

The happiest boy!

The happiest boy!

But being from the Midwest, I'm pretty prepared when it comes to the winter season. Especially when it comes to attire. MaQ may have a double-layered coat, but as for myself, I need a few extra layers to keep me warm! ;)

How I feel about going back indoors.

How I feel about going back indoors.

I always wear my trusty Uniqlo down coat to stay extra bundled. It's got a wonderful zipped hood that you can detach should you not want to wear it. When it comes to keeping my hands and neck warm, I never leave the house without my Lululemon gloves and scarf. And I adore pom beanie hats! They are too cute. And the best winter boots during this season in NYC? Sorel boots all the way. With all the mushy and slushy puddles at every crosswalk, you got to have some serious waterproof footwear!

The best of friends.

The best of friends.

What are some of your everyday winter wear? Like to layer up or keep it simple? What are some of your favorite brands for this season? I really love and have always loved the heat-tech from Uniqlo. It keeps you very warm without weighing you down and is the perfect addition with other forms of layering.

You want to go back inside?! Quick! Hide!

You want to go back inside?! Quick! Hide!

We hope you and your pooch had a marvelous weekend! What are some of your favorite activities to do with your best furry friend in this kind of weather? Whatever it may be, we hope you stay cozy and safe out there. Have a great week.

The most beautiful, magnificent creature I have ever known. I love you dearly. x. ♥

The most beautiful, magnificent creature I have ever known. I love you dearly. x. ♥

Love & xx's,