Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Fresh Shops Interview!!

My Fresh Shop interview with Jared was published today! I am so excited about it that my little bunny butt has been shaking in a frenzy for awhile now. I reprinted the whole article below, but feel free to check out the article and all the nice comments people have been leaving me about my shop on Etsy's Web site.


Fresh Shops: Merlin's Bark Products
Story by jared

Published on July 31, 2008 in Spotlight

Recently, I was clicking through Pounce Undiscovered with my right hand while rubbing my dog’s head with my left. I saw this great (well-crafted and simply designed) elevated dog feeder (in red-stained chestnut) by Merlin's Bark Products, and I ah-ha’ed aloud.

I love finding good woodwork on Etsy. This shop couples creative carpentry with a design sensibility that’s driven by deep compassion for animals.

So far, merlinsbarkproducts features an assortment of feeders and little wooden homes for an array of animals, such as bluebirds, bats, butterflies, flying squirrels…and of course, dogs.

I put a few questions to the creators behind merlinsbarkproducts, Sherry and Jerry:

There is a great beauty and variety of wood in your items. What are some of the benefits to using sustainably harvested or recycled wood?

It is very important to me that we use wood that comes from trees that are managed and farmed in ways that ensure the protection of the environment and other natural resources. Also, I would hate to think that I was contributing to the removal of old growth trees. I know that a lot of different animals depend on those trees for housing. Also, you can find a lot of beauty in old recycled wood. We get a lot of our recycled wood from a local building material recycling center. I am hoping to use some of their old barn wood for owl house I have in mind.

The designs of your animal homes seem strangely inviting...

I love to lay outside in my yard and watch all the different animals run around. When I’m watching them, I start to think about what type of houses and feeding station they would need.

One of my favorite products is our condominium for flying squirrels. It is just amazing! It is over 3-feet tall and has four floors. I came up with the design after watching our own flying squirrels and wondering what type of house they would need if our old pine tree didn’t exist anymore. I did a little research and came up with a house that any flying squirrel would be proud to call home.

I also realized the need for Purple Martin houses when a whole colony of them decided to move into our gutters this spring. I did a little research trying to figure out why they moved in and found out that Purple Martins are the only birds that totally depend on humans for housing. So now we will be adding Purple Martin houses to our product line.

Your blog details a very interesting story about how you turned an idea into a real company. Can you talk about some of the challenges you faced and how you resolved them?

One of the biggest challenges was figuring out what type of products I wanted to concentrate on. At first I was thinking about making products for animals and humans, but I have found myself concentrating more on products geared toward animals.

Though, humans benefit from our products too. Whether it is from installing a bat house and having Mother Nature’s little pest control experts take the place of using poisonous insecticide, or being entertained by song birds eating out of a feeder, the enjoyment our of products can be shared by animals and humans.

Our product line continues to evolve. I love receiving feedback and suggestions from customers. Recently we had people ask us about elevated cat bowl feeders. I had never thought making those before, but now we will be adding elevated cat bowl feeders to our product line. I also continue to do research on animal husbandry to see what other types of products we should be offering.

You are a member of the Abandoned Wild Babies Animal Resuce (AWBAR), who also keeps an Etsy shop. How does being a member of such a compassionate organization affect your role as a shop owner?

Since I’ve joined, I’ve been helping to spread the word about AWBAR through my blog and also on forums. I recently donated one of our dual feeders (a feeder that can be used by both birds and squirrels) to the AWBAR Etsy store. I can’t wait for it to sell. All of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to support the care of the baby animals at AWBAR.


I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Gift Guide

After stumbling across one of our items in Etsy's Pet & Pet Lovers Gift Guide the other day, I figured that I should check out the other gift guides to see if we were included in any of those too. Well, this morning I was checking out Etsy's Environmentally Friendly Gift Guide and low-and-behold there was one of our Trexed-Out Duel Feeders listed in the gift guide. Check it out, it is the first item in the very first row.

I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pittsburgh Zoo Baby Elephant #2!

Say "Hello" to African elephant baby #2! Early Friday morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium announced that their long awaited second baby African elephant finally decided to make her grand appearance in the world. After a record setting 688 day pregnancy, I bet mommy Moja was estatic about the arrival too! And just like her half-sister, she's become the center of attention and another media darling. Soon after her birth the zoo issued the following news release:

"The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's elephant staff is seeing double these days!  Moja, the Zoo's second pregnant elephant has given birth. After just 20 minutes of labor, Moja delivered her baby at 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 25. This is the second baby elephant birth for the Zoo this month. On July 9, Savanna gave birth to a baby girl, Angelina. Moja set a record for the longest pregnancy on record for an African elephant, being pregnant 688 days. The new elephant calf weighs 247 pounds. The first 30 days are the most critical for the new baby, but she is nursing and bonding very well with her mother. The baby will not be on exhibit for several days but visitors can see first baby Angelina and the rest of the elephant"

Check out this Post-Gazette article detailing her birth early Friday morning. On Saturday, the Post-Gazette ran another story detailing the 1-day old pachyderm's progress.

And the sweetest thing ever about of this latest birth is this video that the Pittsburgh Zoo posted on YouTube soon after her birth. I am sure you will enjoy watching the video! And while you are at it, you might enjoy watching the zoo's other videos too. I know I did!

I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pet & Pet Lovers Gift Guide!

Merlin's Bark Products made Etsy's Pet & Pet Lovers Gift Guide! One of our newly listed elevated/raised cat bowl feeders is right there in the 5th row, 2nd column.

I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Elevated Cat Bowls!

My tailless bunny butt is just shaking with pride over the latest addition to our product line ... the elevated cat bowl feeder! Sure, I'm not a huge fan of cats, but I think that should have cool products just like us pups. I love the color of this elevated feeder too. It reminds me of that old nursery rhyme about the owl and the pussy-cat going to sea in the little pea green boat. Ahyhow, there are a lot more elevated cat feeders heading on their way to our Etsy store. There are also a couple more elevated dog bowl feeders headed that way too. Make sure you check out the shop every so often to see the latest and greatest additions to our products line.

I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Annual Vet Check-up!

I got my annual wellness checkup with the vet yesterday. Even though going to see the vet is probably one of my least favorite things to do, it is very important that pups get to see their doctors at least once a year for their booster shots and for a physical. I am happy to report that my doctor said that I was in top physical condition and "looking good." Not only that, but the doctor gave me extra coodles for losing those pesky five extra pounds I had gained last year. It was hard work losing those extra five pounds, but if I can do it so can other food loving hounds like myself. I replaced a lot of my high calorie treats with low fat options and stepped up my exercise routine. Plus, it also helps that since I have been appointed the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products, I haven't had a lot of extra time to sit around and obsess about food. I'm always busy running from one important corporate meeting to another and coming up with new and exciting products to add to my Etsy store.

Speaking of new products, I have a new and exciting product that I need to add to my store. I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interview with Pigatopia Studio's!

Since I have become the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products I've had to pleasure of meeting a lot of other corporate types. Through my work with Etsy for Animals and AWBAR, I've gotten to know other CEO animals and the people who love them. I thought it would be a great idea if I started showcasing some of these other entrepreneurial animals and help spread the word about their products and what they do.

For my first interview, I chose Pigatopia Studio's since they have such an interesting shop and story. Their Etsy shop is full of a large variety of handcrafted items that range from soaps and clay polymer to airbrushed t-shirts and watercolors and oil paintings. Pigatopia is also a fellow member of EFA and even operates their very own animal sanctuary. Here's their story:

So Pig, tell me a little bit about yourself and your Etsy store Pigatopia Studio's.

I make artwork to help rescued animals ranging from Pot Bellied Pigs to cat and dogs even chickens. I have 13 pigs, 8 dogs, and one cat - all of which are rescues. Some their families no longer wanted, a couple were abandon after years of abuse, and others had no choice but to find another home due to health issues. The money generated from the sales of my items pay vet bills, shelter and food for those animals that have been abused and rescued. I have made crafts and art as far back as I can remember. Over the years I have been told that I am an artist. I decided to use that talent to help those who cannot help themselves. I work in gardening and I use my art to relieve the stresses of everyday life. I got started on Etsy when a friend told me about it. I have not looked back since.

I love your custom oil Pigtures of pets and animals. I think I need to get one of me to put up in our corporate headquarters. How do you create your Pigtures? How long do they usually take you to do?

I take pictures or ideas people have in their heads and I make them into portraits on just about anything you can think of: watercolor, wood burn, etched and/or painted glass. The list is endless. I draw them freehand and it usually takes me from a couple days to a week to complete the art. The more art I do the better I get.

Rumor has it that you are a multi-talented Pig and that you are actually writing your own book. I'm thinking about writing my own book about being a CEO and how to run a company. What is your book going to be about?

Thank you for asking. I am almost finished with my book. The book is about Henry a pot bellied pig who starts life off in a very bad place. He gets rescued and gets to spend the rest of his life in a wonderful place (an animal rescue). Henry gets to meet many wonderful pigs and humans and learns some great life lessons about love and friendship. The book allows you to see things from the animal's point of view. The stories used in my book about the animals lives are true stores taken from rescued pigs. I am in final edit as we speak and hope to have the book in print in a couple weeks or so.

I hear that you live with a bunch of other animals. I live in a one dog house, what is that like living with a pack of other animals? Do you guys have to share all of your toys and food?

It can be a handful at times with so many animals running around. Thank goodness I have a big house. The cat who weighs 9 lbs soaking wet runs the house. All eight dogs and seven of the pigs sleep inside. They each have there own blanket piles (there are about 10 blankets in each pile). Some of the pigs will sleep together, but they still argue over who's butt is in who's face from time to time. We do go through a lot of dog toys, but the food bill is not that bad - $60.00 a week on average.

Thanks for being my first interview Pig. I really enjoyed talking to you. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes, I love your blog and your store. Really awesome and thank you for allowing me to be your first interview.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toy Boxes for Pups!

Check out my latest product. An awesome toy box for pups! Granted it is much smaller than my personal toy box (my toy box is about the size of a UHaul truck), but I think it will be perfect for size for other pups who don't have quite the toy collection that I have. Anyhow, I just listed it in my Etsy store last night so make sure you check it out and let me know what you think.

Speaking of our Etsy store , I am currently working on our elevated cat bowl feeders. Hopefully we will have some listed in the store by next week. I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Newest arrival at the Zoo!

Did you hear the exciting news? A new baby girl African elephant was born at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium last week! She's just about the sweetest (and biggest) baby I have ever seen. Check out this Post-Gazette article detailing her birth last Wednesday. On Friday, the Post-Gazette ran another story detailing the 2-day old pachyderm's progress. She's become quite the media darling as you can tell. And just this morning the zoo issued the following news release:

"The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's new baby girl elephant has a new name and she is going out into the elephant yard. "The baby's name is Angelina, chosen by a special donor," says Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Angelina will be out on exhibit everyday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. "We are excited for our visitors to have the opportunity to see her," says Dr.Baker. "But she is still young and we do have to be protective of her especially because she has very sensitive skin and we don't want her to get sunburned." Angelina's schedule will be dependent upon weather or if she is acting unusual for some reason. Her schedule will also be affected when the Zoo's second female elephant, Moja, has her baby. Moja is due any day now. Visitors can call the Zoo to check on Angelina's schedule. Visitors also can see Angelina through the large viewing windows at the Elephant Family Room where she is spending time with her family. "The family bonding is going very well," says Dr. Baker. "We are extremely proud of Angelina's older brother, Callee. At first he wasn't sure he liked having a little sister, but he likes her now. He gently touches her and he stands beside her to make sure she is ok." Angelina is 37 inches tall, but keepers have not had a chance to weigh her yet. That will be done within the next couple of days."

Little Angelina is one lucky elephant. Not only is she the center of attention, but the zoo is expecting another little pachyderm playmate for her any day now. I will keep you posted on the 2nd baby's arrival. In the meantime, check out all the different videos that the Zoo has up on their Web site. I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Elevated Dog & Cat Bowl Feeder!

Take a gander at our newest elevated feeder! Isn't it just about the cutest thing you have ever seen - well, besides me of course. Now even the tiniest pup will feel larger than life eating out of our beautifully stained elevated feeder. Measuring just 4 1/2" in height, and weighing in at just 2 1/2 pounds, it will be perfect fit for the littlest of critters. Constructed in a Shaker table style, and stained a beautiful dark walnut, the look is completed with two 1-pint stainless steel bowls. I know that the feeder will be great for the tiny pups, but I also think that it would work for kitties too. I tried to ask my neighbor cats (Max and Jacks) if they thought it was a good height for them, but they just ran away from me when I tried to chase after them and ask them what they thought. I guess something must have gotten lost in the dog-to-cat translation. Or maybe I shouldn't have been running at them full-tilt and snarling at the same time.

Anyhow, what do you think? Do you think that a 4 1/2" high feeder is the right size for cats? I am really interested to know what you think. I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New for July!

So far July is off to a rip-roaring start for Merlin's Bark Products. July 1st we finally celebrated our first Etsy sale. Our country style 2-quart elevated dog bowl feeder (that's a picture of it over on the side) was bought for a lucky pup living in California. I sure hope the pup loves it! I also just finished up a custom order for one of our pet toy box. Not only have I been busy filling orders, but I have also been busy giving interviews. Yep, that's right, me, Merlin the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products, was interview! Not only was I interviewed, but I was interviewed by one of Etsy's co-founders! He thought that a feature store on me would be great for an upcoming issue of Etsy's online newspaper, the Storque. I can't wait until it is published!

I've also busy creating new and exciting products to list in our Etsy store and getting ready for some upcoming craft shows that we will be exhibiting at. As you can tell, I have been a pretty busy pup!

Speaking of being busy, I need to be getting back to work. I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Etsy for Animals

A couple weeks ago I told you about one of the Etsy street teams that I had recently joined (Team AWBAR). Well, I am also a proud member of Etsy for Animals. EFA is a group of artists and craftspeople on Etsy who love and help animals. Many of the members (there are currently over 500 members) donate a portion of their sales to animal rescues/charities and some donated some of their handcrafted items to EFA's Etsy store. Just today, Etsy featured a great article about the organization. Make sure you check it out.

I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Firework Safety Tips 4 Pets!

Since the 4th of July is in a couple of days, I thought that I should share some helpful tips with everyone so we can keep pups and kitties sage during this very frightening and dangerous time for many animals. Since animals have very sensitive hearing, they can find the noise from fireworks very scary. I know I sure do. My large corgi ears can detect even the smallest firecracker going off miles away. July 5th is usually the busiest day of the year at animal shelters. Pups have been known to escape from homes, dig under fences, break collars, and even chew through their leashes. Some have been found miles from their homes, confused, scared, and exhausted. Their worried owners flood the local animal shelters with calls and visits hoping to find their beloved missing pet.

So let's keep everyone safe this year with these helpful tips that I found on the Web.

* Make certain your pet has a good strong collar with current license tags, in the event it escapes. Consider having a microchip implanted into your pet for accurate identification.
* Never let off fireworks near animals.
* Keep your pets at home when you go to watch a fireworks display.
* Make sure all pets are comfortable indoors, in a secure area with the curtains closed.
* Leave the television or radio on to camouflage the noise of the fireworks.
* If your pet has displayed extreme sensitivity to fireworks in the past, consider talking with your veterinarian about the availability of a mild sedative to help keep your pet calm.
* If you remain home with your animal don’t reinforce its behavior by offering sympathy, instead divert its attention by playing a game or stroking the animal.
* Leave a scared cat alone. Don’t try to force a cat from its hiding place. The cat will come out when it feels safe.
* Be your pet’s best friend; help them with their fears.

I hope these tips help keep pups and kitties safe and happy during the upcoming noisy holiday.

I'll be barking to you later!