Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Holly has Cancer

Cancer. It felt like a punch when our Veterinarian confirmed the diagnosis we feared. Looking down at Holly's nervous eyes as we sat in the exam room at the clinic, I fought back tears as Dr. B went over our options and shared her knowledge about this terrible disease. Expectations. Signs of pain. A timeline for survival. It all seemed so surreal. 

It was only a few weeks earlier, after playing fetch in the yard, as we do on a daily basis, I noticed a small scrape on Holly's chin. Believing that she had caught herself on the deck or scratched herself on a stick, it wasn't much of a worry until the bump persisted for a week or so. Knowing that she may need some antibiotics to kick an infection if that were the case, we stopped in for a visit with Dr. B. She worried that it could be something more, so we biopsied this annoyance. The biopsy showed nothing, so antibiotics were given and we went about our day. Fast forward to a week into the antibiotic treatment, the small lump began to noticeably grow, so we stopped by for a recheck. Fearing that the previous biopsy had missed something, we ran a second test and had it sent out for a more in depth culture. This culture confirmed the worst. Cancer. 

Holly - 1 month after her diagnosis. The tumor on her chin
has grown to about 1/2 a ping pong ball size.
Mast Cell tumors are not uncommon in dogs, particularly in breeds like Staffordshire Terriers, which Holly is a mix of. After speaking about our options, we decided surgery was the best option to remove this tumor, so we scheduled our surgery for 5 days later. On day 4, Holly woke up with a tennis ball sized lump in her throat and swelling up and down her chest. We immediately contacted Dr. B and Dr. T, who opened up their schedules to get us in immediately. At this point, we realized how aggressive this tumor had become. Her lymph nodes were highly inflamed and it was confirmed that the disease had already spread further than the surgery could cure.  We spoke about our options and treatment plans, and left with more information than we knew how to handle. 

After speaking with several veterinarians, friends who have experienced a similar diagnosis and searching our own souls to decide what was right for Holly, we were left with two options. Chemotherapy, which has a low chance of helping to extend her life by more than a few months or a treatment plan that focuses on her quality of life and ensuring that she is pain-free for whatever time she has left. We chose the latter and are committed to ensuring that or here out, every day is the best day for our Holly-girl. 

So now, as I sit outside, with Holly happily kicking the cushions off of our patio furniture (one of her favorite things to do - she is an odd one), I am reflecting on the amazing 10 years we have had together. The only hard part of owning a dog is saying goodbye. Holly had a rough start to life before we adopted her, so now, as our promise to her, she will have the best last few months any dog could ever dream of.

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Artist

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March inspires artwork!

Love,  not hate. 
I recognize that there are many people out there that don't get the Women's March. It didn't directly impact their lives and they found the interruption in their social media news feeds more of an annoyance than a touching movement. To those that weren't there, you may never understand the true impact this march had on me personally and that's fine. As an American, each one of us is entitled to our own views and opinions. As an artist, I believe that the right to express ourselves peacefully is incredibly important and that right is one of the many reasons that I chose to join the Women's March.

Agree with it or not, this post isn't about opinions. This post is about me, an artist and a person who wants to bring more positive energy into this world. I spent a lot of time unhappy and angry in my past but over the last decade, I have discovered who I am and what I believe in.

On Saturday, I decided to take myself to the Texas State Capital building in Austin, TX because I wanted to be part of this march. I thought I would take a few photos, say hello to a few friends who I knew were attending and take myself out for a solo lunch date. My partner and best friend, Chris was away on business, so I didn't have him by my side, as he would usually be for events such as this. After arriving at the Capital, I was amazing at the growing crowd. Not only was the lawn filled with women, but men and children, every ethnicity and people of all shapes and sizes were mingling together. The energy was electric.
The Pussy Cat tote bag. $15 each.
50% of each sale will be donated to Hope Alliance.
As it happened, the crowd grew and I was never able to actually connect with the friends I expected to see, but happily ran into an unexpected friend who also attended solo. We both decided it was meant to be and went with our fate, spending the day together, walking among strangers to show solidarity.

After the event was over, I felt like I was flying, the energy and confidence that this crowd had created was pulsing through me. I immediately came home and started painting and focusing on what I wanted to do next. Of course, I wrote my representatives (you can do it as well) and took the actions that I feel every citizen who wants their voice heard should, but I was left with a need to do more.

It was then that I realized I needed to create something special. Inspired by the hundreds of 'Pussy Hats' at the march, I created my 'Pussy Cat in a Pussyhat' tote bag and reached out to a local non-profit that I know and love, Hope Alliance Crisis Center. I will be donating 50% from the sale of each Pussy Cat tote bag to Hope Alliance Crisis Center in an effort to raise awareness and donations for their incredible services.

Hope Alliance offers support to family and sexual abuse victims and is one that personally helped me through some of the toughest years in my own life. After my assault, I was able to seek counseling and find compassion in a support group, which in turn changed my life.

The Women's March in Austin, TX.
While I felt the Women's March was empowering and motivating, I have seen some rather negative comments and have even been asked why I felt it was so important to get involved. To me, this March felt natural, I felt a calling to attend and looking back, I would not change a thing. As a person who has been marginalized and is viewed as a statistic to some, I felt the need to show my support for programs like Planned Parenthood that work to provide care to women. I felt the need to show my support to the LGBT community, who may be at risk of losing their rights under our new administration. I felt the need to show my love to our minority community, who fight every day to be viewed as equal. I felt the need to speak up because, due to my first amendment rights, I can. I deserve to be heard as much as every other citizen.  I didn't march to protest the new president, I marched so that he and every leader of our country will hear my voice. I deserve an administration that works to protect my beliefs, so I took action and marched with millions of others who felt the same. I marched peacefully, happily and proudly and I will continue to make sure my voice is heard.

If you didn't like the March, that's okay too. It's your right. Have an opinion, that's cool, but keep the hate to yourself. I am all about Peace and Love and the real focus here is that I am working to raise donations to better the lives of my fellow citizens!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art |  Owner | Artist

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Learn more about Hope Alliance Crisis Center here.

A few of my favorite photos from the Women's March on Austin.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This sweet mother dog had how many puppies??

Akasha will soon be available for adoption.
As many of you who follow my business and my blog know, I volunteer for the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter just north of Austin, TX. I have been volunteering with this shelter since 2010 (Wow, it's really amazing to think I have been with them for 7 years) and during that time, I have watched it grow into a true No Kill facility. That means, every animal that comes through their doors is given a chance to thrive (not just survive) in the shelter system. 

So, of course, when a super sweet mother dog and her nine (yes, 9!!) puppies arrived at the shelter, the staff kicked into gear to ensure every one of these little babies has the best opportunity to be given a wonderful life. 

As it happened, I stopped into the shelter shortly after this little family arrived and to my delight, was able to photograph each of these puppies along with spending time with their beautiful mother, Akasha.

Akasha is just one of those dogs that you instantly fall in love with. She has a tail that a Tesla would envy, 0 - 60 in 1.0 seconds. She has been a wonderful mother to her puppies, but she is happy to let her caregivers handle them and even more excited when she can sneak in a pet of her own. She was full of kisses and when I took her out, away from her babies for a walk together, she was delighted to spend time romping around the shelter conference room and enjoy some treats and quality time for herself. It's hard to  believe that this little 40lb dog had such a large litter, but without being spayed, there is never a guarantee on how many puppies a dog will or will not bring into the world. 

SOOOO cute! 
True to the No Kill mission and vision of the shelter, the staff reached out to see if we could find foster homes for Akasha's 9 puppies who will need a few weeks of TLC as they grow old and strong enough for adoption. The puppies are currently around 6 weeks old and looking for fosters in the Austin, TX metro area. If you or your family are interested in fostering, stop by the shelter to fill  out a foster application and start saving lives! Of course, if you are not in the Austin area, you can make a donation for their care to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter or even better, sign up as a foster for a local rescue in your area! 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art

Pupdate: As of 1-18-2016, 3 of the 9 puppies have found a foster home.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mutt Monday: Meet Bunny

It's hard to believe this sweet lady is still in a foster home.  I photographed Bunny nearly a year and a half ago, in July of 2015. This charming girl has been in her current foster home for nearly 2 years. Bunny has one challenge ahead, finding a home that would love a fun, active dog, but she does need to be the only pet in the household. 

When it comes to fun, Bunny is definitely your girl. She LOVES her toys and spent the majority of our photo session playing with my own dog's toys and balls that were laying around my studio. She was a wonderful 'model' during her photo shoot and listened well. Bunny has been through a lot of training with her foster family, so she is already an excellent roommate. Bunny knows her basic commands, she walks great on a leash and is house-trained. Now, all this charming girl just needs the perfect forever family to find her and fill out an adoption application! 

If you are interested in meeting Bunny, contact the Pflugerville Animal Shelter for more information!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

10 Critter-Themed Gifts for the Holidays!

My booth at Blue Genie

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of chatting with a small group of attendees at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, a lovely month-long holiday show where over 200 local Austin artists showcase their crafts. This show is pretty much the mecca of holiday shopping and even better, every sale supports a small local business like my own! In addition to myself, three other artists chatted about their works and shared their creative story with the crowd. Listening to these other artists, it helped me to remember how much passion goes into creating these handmade goods. Of course, I create every day, but after 5 years of photographing rescue pets and making tote bags, I sometimes forget how lucky I am to be able to run a successful small business and still enjoy the work I do every single day. 

The theme last night was 'critters', decided upon by Dana Younger, one of the founders of Blue Genie Art Industries. Each artist that spoke had a different reason for choosing critters. From feeling more connected to animals than humans (I bet we have all felt that way at some point) to finding inspirations through dreams and wanting to connect to the universe, each artist spoke of their works from  the heart and I felt honored to be part of that experience. 

After the chat-portion of the evening, I spent some time walking around the show, it almost felt as though I were seeing some of the works for the first time. Animals are a common theme throughout so many artist's pieces. I felt compelled to share some of my favorite 'critter' themed gifts at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar below (if you are not in the Austin area, I also included links so you can shop online, please support small businesses this holiday season!).

Blue Whale Tote Bag by Pet Studio Art 
This is currently one of my favorite totes in the Pet Studio Art line. I am fascinated by the ocean and I feel that whales represent everything majestic and mysterious about the water. 

Wolf print by Flip Solomon
Flip was one of the fabulous artists that spoke at our event last night. Her works are incredible pen and ink drawing and reach up to 8 feet in size! Her work is stunning and you could have a print of your own!

The Wagging Dead Print
Fans of The Walking Dead rejoice!
I ordered this print on a T-Shirt for my husband last year and it was a huge hit! 
Adorable felted woodland creatures by Gypsyharte
Another speaker at last night's events, I was in awe of the time, love and intensity that goes into hand-felting. It is a process that I knew absolutely nothing about and  now have a new appreciation for. You can also find videos of her work on YouTube

Happy Pandas Utility Apron by Crescent City Couture
Could this get any more adorable? I personally have a pac-man themed apron by CCC, which I use to hold treats and squeaky toys during photo sessions at my local shelter. 
Dino Succulent Planters by The Plaid Pigeon
I got one of these as a gift last year and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! 

The Jumping Fox woodblock print
Elizabeth Stettler spoke yesterday about her works as well. Each print is hand-carved into a wooden block then pressed onto paper, giving each print a little something unique to love. She has everything from his fox to squirrels down to a cockroach (which as she lovingly put it, "might not be for everyone"). Gorgeous works with a personal touch!

The Lazy Lion Crochet Taxidermy by The Plaid Pigeon
I hate hunting, I think it's cruel and terrible, so naturally, I have fallen in love with these humane and incredibly cute crochet taxidermy animals by The Plaid Pigeon. These make adorable gifts for nurseries or just to hang on your own wall to enjoy!

The Crazy Cat Lady Candle
While I firmly believe there is nothing crazy about loving cats, this candle is too much to pass up! It smells ahhmazing, very fresh and clean and is made right here in Austin! 

The Jungle Hook Elephant Wall Hook
These are perfect gifts for your kid's rooms. Adorable jungle themed wooden hooks! 

Go shop, support your local artists!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Mutt Monday: Meet Tristan

Hey You! Yes you….are you looking for a lifelong pal? Someone who will be loyal, obedient and your best friend? No need to look any further as I’m your dog. My name is Tristan and I am waiting and willing to become your BFF.

Did you know I’m a good luck charm too? Yes that’s right I must be because I was lucky enough to be rescued by Lone Star. They literally saved my life and have given me the opportunity to have the kind of life every dog deserves. I am more than willing to share this wonderful new life with you. I am so excited about getting to have a forever family that will love me and take care of me and who are willing to finish the life transformation Lone Star has begun for me.

If you think that I may be my forever family and I’m the missing pup from your life please fill out an application and someone will get to you let you know out more about me and how to begin the process of adoption. You can also contact my foster mom at for more information.

You can apply to adopt this adorable little fluff at This adorable little fluff is altered, up to date on all shots and heartworm negative.

(above written by Lone Star Lhaso Apso Rescue)

Pet Studio Art

Friday, November 25, 2016

Blue Genie has arrived!

It's my favorite time of year. The holidays have arrived, which means we are now prepping for our biggest month, full of holiday shoppers on our website, sending out orders to our fabulous retailers (see our list here!) and we just finished setting up for our favorite holiday show, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar

This show is in it's 16th year and has become a staple in Austin, TX for holiday shopping. I actually find myself stocking up on gifts for birthdays and rarely find myself leaving the show without a little something special (which gets expensive because I stop by almost daily to check my own booth stock! 

As a member of the Austin Art Community, I feel like this show truly embodies the spirit of the Austin art scene. Over 200 local crafters and artists who have turned their hobbies into a true way of life join together to showcase our works. Literally thousands of unique items line the shelves and original artwork covers every inch of the walls. Each time I turn a corner, I find something new to fall in love with. 

If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend taking some time this month to visit the show and offer some support to your local small business owners! 

The show runs 10am - 10pm through December 23rd, then from 10am - 10pm on Dec 24th. 
6100 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Mutt Monday: Meet Zeus

I was lucky enough to meet this handsome gentleman a few months ago at Puppy Mill Awareness Day Austin. Zeus is a 5 - 6 year old male pitbull mix rescued through the awesome organization, Don't Bully Me Rescue in Austin, TX. This handsome gentleman has been with the rescue since 2012, yes that's right, 4 years of living in a foster home. Of course, we love knowing that Zeus is safe, but we would love to hear that he has finally found his forever family!

Zeus was once a stray in San Antonio, TX, but luckily was found and brought into Don't Bully Me Rescue's program. He has blossomed in his foster home, he is house trained, eager to learn and knows sit, down and heels during walks. He walks beautifully on a leash and enjoys the company of other female dogs. Don't Bully Me Rescue would love to see Zeus join a family where he can have another dog buddy, but Zeus would prefer medium to large dogs and no cats. 

If you are interested in meeting Zeus or learning more about Don't Bully Me Rescue's program, visit their website here!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art |  Owner | Artist

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Mutt Monday: Meet Ellie

Oh Ellie! How this sweet girl has not yet found her happy ending, I will never understand. I first met Ellie in April, when she was first brought into the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. This charming lady was a dream to photograph, not only gracing me with her happy smile, but stopping in the middle of our photo shoot for a pretty epic blooper (see below).

Ellie has an infectious smile, loves attention and ADORES belly rubs. Ellie plopped right over between photos for a quick rub and even fell asleep in the grass enjoying the sunshine while she was being lavished with attention. 

Ellie is  currently in a foster home with another WCRAS pup, Noah. She gets along with other dogs, I believe she enjoys the company of cats and of course people of all sizes are immediately her BFFs. 

At just under 2 years old, Ellie still has a lot of love to give and would love to find a wonderful home to share her sweet spirit with. Ellie is spayed and up to date on all of her vaccinations. If you are looking for a stunning Unicorn-Spirited pup to add to your faimly, Ellie is definitely worth meeting!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Ellie and Noah, both available for adoption through

Ellie's amazing blooper, well, pooper.