Author Archives: Sue Thomson, C.I.D.

About Sue Thomson, C.I.D.

I am a native Brit and have lived in the U.S. for over twenty years. Now resident in Florida, I work on websites belonging to small business owners who don’t have the time or knowledge to successfully build and manage their own.

How eco-friendly are your furnishings?

How green are your furnishings?

Whether you’re reading, watching TV or on social media you cannot get away from hearing about being “green or eco-friendly.” So, what’s your take on being green?

According to a study released by the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) in August last year consumers remain concerned about their spending on home furnishings and while quality, style and price are their main consideration, about half are just as concerned with being eco-friendly. Consumers are significantly interested in purchasing green home furnishings with two important qualifiers: if they like the style and if it costs roughly the same.

The main reasons consumers gave for not purchasing green home furnishings is lack of awareness and availability, suggesting a supply and awareness problem but the SFC study also reported that 25% of respondents don’t trust advertising claiming that products are green. 56% thought that green products would probably cost more.

As an accredited green designer, I would start by asking prospective clients how interested they are in purchasing green products for their homes. Many are not but for those who are interested we are able to lead them through the minefield of available information. Others are perhaps ripe to learn more about it.


Many large chains import furniture from the Far East to keep costs down but the ramifications are many: child labor, inferior quality, harsh chemicals and deforestation, to name a few. During the recent Winter Olympics, it was gratifying to watch a TV special on logging in British Columbia that followed a man employed solely to plant a new tree for each one cut down. That’s the way it should be.

Ask questions. Find out where your furniture is being made. Look out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label on furniture you’re interested in purchasing as this is the most widely recognized international wood standard with national initiatives in 46 countries and with 81 countries receiving certification. The FSC’s mission is to prohibit land use conversion, the use of hazardous pesticides, prevent genetically modified trees, and to respect the rights of indigenous people. You can find out more at

See the source imageYou can guarantee that most custom American bench-made furniture will be made using wood from sustainable forests, and many of the larger chains such as Crate & Barrel do too.

Paint & Wallcoverings

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about 23 million people, including 6.8 million children, have asthma which accounts for nearly 17 million physician office and hospital visits, and nearly 2 million emergency department visits each year. Indoor air quality is another hot topic right now and the figures above show why.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that vaporize into the atmosphere and can be harmful and toxic especially to children. They can be found in paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, building materials and furnishings. Paint stores offer a variety of sustainable paint options and for very little extra you can use low or no V.O.C. products.

York Wallcoverings ( in York, PA are the oldest and largest manufacturer of wallcoverings and have a huge selection of low VOC vinyl wallpapers used in hotels and nursing homes due to their long life and easy-to-clean surfaces. Ask your decorator to show you what’s available.

Although this blog has only covered two key elements of the green debate there is much more to discover. The green market is more established in hospitality and many consumers have already stayed in a green hotel yet 75% of consumers polled have never heard of a green designer.

Sue Thomson, C.I.D. is an accredited GREENleader Accredited Professional and Member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council .                      

Traveling with your German Shepherd

Bringing your German Shepherd Puppy Home
it’s an exciting day and you’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Today is the big day when you will be bringing your puppy home. It is also going to be the first time your German Shepherd has been away from her mother and litter-mates; a day of excitement for you may be traumatic for your puppy so be prepared and make the first car trip a happy one for you both.

  • Travel with a crate. Although your German Shepherd puppy is going to be a large dog one day, today you will need a travel crate that fits now so that the pup will feel safe. You may be able to borrow one from a friend instead of purchasing a new one that will be outgrown fast, but clean it thoroughly as you don’t want to pass on germs to your vulnerable pup. Prepare the crate with cardboard or newspaper on the bottom to absorb any accidents with an old towel on top for comfort. Place the crate on a flat, stable surface and stabilize it with a seat belt or other device.
  • Take a companion. You will want to keep an eye on your new German Shepherd puppy while you travel so have a family member or friend drive instead.
  • Health Documents. If you are collecting your puppy across state lines you may need a health certificate or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) as it is called in many states. The requirements for each state are different and you can find the information you need at the Department of Agriculture website. Your puppy’s breeder should also be able to advise you.
  • Travel problems. If your German Shepherd puppy seems uncomfortable; cries continually, doesn’t settle down and sleep, drools or vomits, stop and offer water and a short walk. Do not feel sorry for your pup and take the pup out of the crate. Remember that although this is the first day with you, it is also the first training session, and safety is a priority.

Traveling by Car with your German Shepherd

We have discussed some specific pointers about bringing your puppy home by car and the following information outlines additional tips for safe and enjoyable travel.

When your dog dislikes traveling by car

Everybody imagines that dogs automatically enjoy traveling by car but this is not always the case. Some dogs may never enjoy the car but most can be trained to ultimately enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, many of your pup’s first car trips are to the veterinarian for vaccinations, getting an identity chip implanted, and having a wellness check, which usually includes taking your German Shepherd’s temperature. None of this is pleasant.

If your puppy does not travel well, you will have to acclimate them to the car. This takes time and patience but it will be well worth the effort once you have a happy traveling companion. Here are some tips to get your dog used to the car:

  1. Start by letting your puppy sit in the crate in a stationary car for 10 minutes until they are calm and settled. Take your pup out, give lots of praise and perhaps a treat. Find out more about crate training too.

  2. Once the puppy starts to see the car as a friend go for very short drives – even down a driveway is enough to begin with. Do this for a few times then, if all is well, gradually increase the length of the journey. Don’t forget to praise and give a treat.

  3. Put safe toys in the crate to take your pup’s mind off the journey.

Continue to make each trip enjoyable and soon your German Shepherd puppy will be thrilled to accompany you.

If your German Shepherd gets car sick

Your puppy may get car sick, something common with human children too. Here are some ways to combat motion sickness:

  • Feed your puppy at least four hours before going in the car. Do not feed immediately before driving.
  • Travel with water and a bowl  so that the puppy doesn’t get dehydrated if they get sick.
  • Open the windows about two inches to let in fresh air – the smells from outside may be a distraction. Don’t open the window altogether as the wind may carry debris that will damage eyes, nose or ears. 
  • Make sure the crate faces forward and that your puppy can see where you are going.

If these suggestions don’t work, talk to your veterinarian about an over-the-counter medication that can reduce your dog’s nausea associated with travel. 1-800-PetMeds suggest ‘Dramamine and Benadryl. Also, Acepromazine (Rx) is a longtime favorite of many veterinarians that not only helps calm anxious dogs, but also helps reduce nausea and vomiting.’

Safety while traveling with your German Shepherd
As your puppy grows (which won’t take long) you should think about how you are going to restrain your dog in the vehicle long-term.

Traveling with a Crate
If you have a vehicle that will take a large crate you may prefer to keep crating your dog. Ensure that the crate is the right size so your dog is comfortable. The recommended size for a travel crate to meet international airline requirements is:

  • 3-inches head clearance when the dog is either standing or sitting and includes the ears.
  • The length is measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. As a German Shepherd has a very bushy tail, add on several inches, and make sure your dog can lie down comfortably.
  • Your dog must be able to turn around.

The most popular dog crate for large dogs is the Petmate Giant Sky Kennel which is secure and adaptable for travel but there are many brands suitable for the car and you can even find plans to build it yourself.


Seat belts for dogs
Although I wouldn’t recommend this type of restraint for a long journey because your dog has little to no freedom, for short trips you may want to train your German Shepherd to use a seatbelt just like yours!

The Center for Pet Safety recommends the SleepyPod Clickit Utility Harness for its overall function and safety features.

According to many of the harnesses on the market say they have been crash-tested when in fact they have failed the test.

K9 Car FenceThe Car Fence
The Car Fence is another option. The K9 CarFence TLC-3XL was invented by a devoted dog lover. It is easily installed and can be adjusted for the height of your dog. It has been crash-tested to withstand a severe frontal crash and if that isn’t enough, it provides seat protection and lets your dog see through the strong mesh. A smaller version is available for puppies and small dogs.


Planning your drive
Once your German Shepherd is crate trained and has basic training it may be time for your puppy’s first trip. If you have children, you’ll already know how much baggage you have to take in the car with you! Your puppy is no different and you should take:

  • Crate
  • Collar and leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • Bottled water
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Safe toys
  • Paper towels for accidents
  • Health certificates if you are traveling out-of-state.

Window shades to protect your German Shepherd from harsh sun while travelingTraveling in Wild Weather
All over America the climate and temperatures differ greatly. If you are planning a long trip make sure the car is not too hot or too cold. As humans, you have the luxury of stripping down or bundling up – your dog doesn’t. If you have cracked your windows to let in fresh air, make sure your German Shepherd is not in a draft.

If the outside temperatures are hot and the sun is beating in on your dog, cover the windows with towels by sliding them through the window and then closing it to hold the towel in place. Another option is to purchase car sunshades such as these shown here on sale from Amazon.

If you live in a state with hot summer temperatures have your car windows tinted which will reduce UV rays and heat. Many tints are reflective which also keep heat out. This is in fact good for you as well as your German Shepherd as it will reduce the chance of sunburn.

Travel Together
If you’re planning a trip where you will have to stop for potty breaks, try to travel with a companion driver to share driving and allow you to care for your dog. You can stop at interstate rest stops so that your dog can relieve itself and stretch its legs. If there are two drivers it is easier to use the restrooms yourself and have someone to look after your dog.

It is important that you never leave your dog, or any other pet, alone in the vehicle for two reasons:

  • Your car can heat up very quickly, even if you crack open the windows. In fact, with the windows cracked, your car can heat to a temperature of 102 degrees in 10 minutes if the outside temperature is 85 degrees. Your German Shepherd also has a thick double coat and will feel the heat sooner than a short-hair dog.

    How to help other pets. According to the Michigan State University College of Law, 28 states have laws that either prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle under dangerous conditions or provide civil immunity (protection from being sued) for a person who rescues a distressed animal from a vehicle.

Pet FBI, an organization that keeps track of lost or stolen dogs, estimates that nearly two million pets are stolen each year. The American Kennel Club say that they have seen an increase of over 31% in stolen registered dogs in the last few years.

Unfortunately, dogs are stolen for horrible reasons; to sell to puppy mills, for resale (just think what you paid for your puppy), and especially for dogs like the German Shepherd, to dog fighting rings.

There are many places that your German Shepherd can be vulnerable, especially when it is young. Pet FBI says:

  • Never leave your dog alone in a car
  • Remember that your dog is still vulnerable in its own yard
  • Do not tie your dog up outside a store or restaurant
  • Always walk your dog on a leash
  • Have your dog neutered or spayed
  • Microchip your dog

Moving cross-state with your German Shepherd
A vacation trip is very different to moving permanently to another city and introduces many more stressors. Not only do you have to think of your dog but you may have to think about children too. You will be concerned about your possessions traveling safely to your new home and will be worrying about moving to a new environment. Moving can be stressful with a new home, new job and new circumstances.

If your move is within an easy driving range then packing up your German Shepherd into the car will be the same as a daily trip or vacation. On the other hand, if you are moving much further away then you may have to think more carefully.

If your family (including your dog) will fit in your vehicle comfortably for the trip then traveling by car may be the least stressful way to permanently move your pet. You will not want to lose your dog on the journey so make sure your German Shepherd has a collar and leash with tags for identification. Your dog should have been micro-chipped as a puppy but if this is not the case then have it done by your veterinarian before you leave. Keep your dog leashed at all times when not in the vehicle.

Your driver may want to keep going as long as possible but Nationwide Insurance recommends stopping every two hours for at least fifteen minutes. Prepare in advance and stop where there are restrooms and food available, and possibly somewhere scenic.

If you don’t want to make the trip by car yourself then there are others who will drive your dog to its new destination. Companies such as Royal Paws Pet Transportation travel to the 49 contiguous states and Canada. This is a family owned company and have been transporting pets for over fifteen years. There are always two drivers per vehicle and they will use their vehicle or yours.

The other way to transport your German Shepherd is by air.

Air Travel for German Shepherds
Airline travel with dogs is somewhat controversial. Unfortunately, unless you have a service dog who will be able to travel in the cabin with you, your dog will have to fly as cargo in the hold.

If you are transporting a puppy it may be able to travel in the cabin if it will stay in a container small enough to fit under a seat. That also means it must be contained at the airport too and many airports do not have dog facilities past security checks. The following airports offer pet relief areas once you’ve cleared security and are recommended by the American Kennel Club (AKC):

  • Detroit Metro
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Philadelphia International
  • New York JFK

As of August 2016 federal regulations mandated that all airports that service more than 10,000 passengers a year had to establish at least one service animal relief area (SARA) inside each terminal. Please check this list from Pet Friendly Travel for more information.

Special crate for transporting dogs long distance or by air

Travel for an adult German Shepherd on a plane will be in the cargo hold. Your dog will have to be crate trained and you will need to purchase an approved crate as specified by the airline. If you use a plastic crate such as the Petmate Sky Kennel, you will have to substitute the plastic wing nuts holding it together for metal nuts and bolts. Approved crates have ventilation on all sides, must not be collapsible and should preferably have carry handles.

Petmate supply a complete airline kit that includes:

  • a spill-resistant food & water cup
  • an absorbent kennel pad
  • two Live Animals stickers
  • a temporary Pet ID tag
  • a shipping identification sticker
  • 12 zip ties
  • metal nuts/bolts to modify your kennel

Exercise your dog vigorously before crating and ensure they have an opportunity to relieve themselves.

DO NOT feed your dog directly before a flight or place toys and loose item in the crate. You will have supplied two fixed bowls in your dog’s crate and it may be better to give your dog two bowls for water on a shorter flight. Your German shepherd will survive without food but not water. To stop water from spilling before your dog is boarded, you can fill each bowl with water and freeze, or fill the bowls with ice-cubes at the airport.

DO NOT tranquilize your dog prior to flying. One relocation service says, “Sedatives can interfere with regular breathing and other bodily responses, and pets may react differently and unexpectedly to medications when they are in the air.”

The major airlines ship dogs throughout the country and maintain that your dog will receive care and attention at all times but the Humane Society of the United States recommend that you only send your dog by air unless it is unavoidable. In addition, not all secondary airlines flying to smaller airports can carry live animals as their holds may not be fully pressurized or have a heating/cooling system.

Most airlines will not transport animals in extreme temperatures and have rules about summer travel. It is also better if you don’t fly your German Shepherd during holiday periods as the chance of them being mislaid or left on the tarmac is much greater.

Sending your German Shepherd through a third party, pet shipping company may be your best solution as they will have considerable knowledge of the rules and regulations, and will be able to answer all your questions. Research thoroughly and ask friends for recommendations. If your company regularly transfers staff around the country or overseas, they may use a relocation expert who can help.

Dogs with snub noses
We are giving advice on sending your German Shepherd by air but you may have other breeds of dog that need to travel too. The majority of brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs have now been banned from flying cargo as their snub noses cause breathing issues. Some cat breeds are banned for the same reason too.

Airlines that transport dogs internationally
Pet travel on international flights is more heavily regulated than air travel in the United States.  Service dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin but no other country accepts emotional support dogs and they will have to fly in the hold.

International flights will not accept your dog unless you book through a specialized pet travel or relocation expert that follows IATA rules and regulations. IATA’s Live Animals Regulations (LAR) is the worldwide standard for transporting live animals by commercial airlines.

Find a reputable pet shipper through IPATA, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. They will help you with local regulations, connecting flights, permits, health certificates, vaccinations and everything your dog needs for an organized journey.

The three best airlines for your dog to fly, judged by IPATA members worldwide are:

  • Lufthansa Cargo
  • Emirates Sky Cargo

Custom crates
For any airline, whether your dog is traveling internally or internationally, a custom-made crate may be the best option so you can be assured it is the best fit. Pet shippers will arrange this for you or you can find someone locally, or even build it yourself as long as it is to the airline’s specifications.

Dog friendly hotels
Good planning is vital when you are traveling with a dog. There are many hotel chains that allow pets. Websites such as and will let you browse for the right place to stay with your German Shepherd. Some hotels say they accept pets but do not accept larger breeds, and those that they perceive are aggressive. This can be upsetting when your dog is well trained and well behaved.

The websites above also have trip planners that allow you to input your starting point and destination and will give you a list of the pet friendly hotels in between. Information is available on:

  • Size or weight of dog allowed
  • Additional pet fees
  • If cats are allowed

Find pet friendly hotels along your route

An example is the Best Western Plus in Bradenton, FL who indicate on the trip planner that they take dogs up to 40 pounds and cats, and that the pet fee is $20. On the website they state their pet policy as:

Pets allowed based on the availability of pet friendly rooms. Up to 2 dogs per room with a 40 pound weight limit. Additional pet types (cats, birds, etc) may be accepted at the hotel’s discretion. Pet rate is $20 per day per pet with a $100 per week

This raises the question:

  • How many pet friendly rooms are there? Will a room be available?
  • What type of dog are they restricting at 40 pounds?
  • Can I take my cat too?

Don’t rely totally on the information given on these web sites. Use them as a guide to plan your trip but call the hotel ahead of time to make sure the rules still apply. You don’t want to be stranded at night with your dog.

Hotels within the same chain may have different policies. For instance, the Best Western in Florence, South Carolina accepts dogs up to 80 pounds.

Even if a hotel accepts dogs of 80 pounds, call and make sure they are hotels that allow German Shepherds. allows you to refine your search by clicking on ‘big dogs’ or ‘cats’, and the distance around your destination point.

Search for hotels that will accomodate your German Shepherd

Testing out New York, it seems a very friendly city and hotels taking big dogs (and every other kind of pet) included:

  • The Renaissance New York Hotel 57
  • The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel
  • The Hudson Hotel
  • The Empire Hotel
  • The Four Points Sheraton in Times Square

Some of these are upscale hotels in the center of Manhattan with no limitations.

Downtown Atlanta is not dog friendly. Downtown Atlanta hotels only opened the door to pets during Hurricane Irma when it was mandated by the Governor. All this shows that you may use a website to get good general information but you will have to check the information for yourself.

Some hotels do not allow you to leave your dog unattended and some allow you to leave the dog in the room if it is crated. If your dog is left unattended and free it may feel anxious and rip the bedding or urinate – returning to puppy behavior. Always travel with your German Shepherd’s crate as you probably won’t be allowed to take your dog to a restaurant or bar within the hotel. If you have crate trained your dog it will feel secure being left in a space it considers to be relaxing and safe.

Before planning to stay in a hotel think about whether your dog is ready to stay in strange surroundings. Will they whine or bark when left alone in the hotel room? If the answer is yes, your dog may need more training or a chance to mature. Or if the weather is comfortable you can eat at outdoor restaurants that allow dogs. Get recommendations at

Traveling with your German Shepherd should be a pleasant experience for you both. Ongoing training from when your puppy comes home will help adjustment to different situations. Your dog’s confidence to adapt in all situations will make travelling a joy.

An Adventure for Naples Food Lovers

The Warehouse
Cuisine & Cocktails

Hidden away in the Northern suburbs of Naples you might miss The Warehouse Cuisine & Cocktails amongst the growing number of stores at Cameron Place on the corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. Recommended by Jenny Provost, a lady who recognizes good food, my culinary adventure started on a Saturday evening when a friend and I ventured out to try this year-old family owned and operated restaurant.

The Warehouse Cuisine and Cocktails

Executive Chef Bobby Forgét and Sous-Chef Pablo Esteva

The back story to The Warehouse is impressive. Executive Chef Bobby Forgét has been seriously involved in the food industry since he was ten years old. At college his friends paid him to cook for them so it was no surprise to his family when he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, the Culinary Arts Institute in Canada. Bobby first thought to open a food truck specializing in his incredible ravioli but his father and uncle encouraged him to start the restaurant instead. The family’s involvement includes his brother and cousin who work front of house, and during extra busy times you can expect the whole family to chip in. Bobby prefers to work alongside Sous-Chef Pablo Esteva creating dishes “using the freshest, most local ingredients all prepared from scratch!” In the kitchen is where Bobby is happiest, “I love to cook and most of the time you will find me working the line.”

The Warehouse invites you to be seated in the clean, contemporary interior with comfortable seating and a spacious layout. You may not notice the attention to detail but when it was discovered that the combination of concrete floors and high ceilings created a noise problem, a noise abatement team was brought in – problem solved! There is a choice of seating; regular tables, high-top or at the large bar.  The staff are respectful and friendly, trained to answer the many questions you may have about food that is sometimes unusual.

I had browsed the menu online to get an idea of what to expect as I have food allergies and eating out can be difficult. I was pleasantly surprised that there were only two items I couldn’t eat, and later Bobby explained that his sister also has food allergies so he has been sensitive with his menu choices. It is certainly a restaurant where the owners are sympathetic to their clientele.

You can start your epicurean voyage with one of the exciting signature martinis or cocktails. Try the Old Man’s Margarita, a mix of Jose Cuervo Gold, Amaretto, Sour Mix and Orange Juice, a tasty nod to Bobby’s Grandfather. Taste a wine from the famous Robertson winery in the Western Cape of South Africa, birthplace of Bobby’s wife. Wherever you look, the family has been incorporated into this young, vibrant restaurant.

When you’re reading the inventive menu, look out for the ravioli. Who would think of a Philly Cheese Steak ravioli? I had the Lobster Thermador ravioli filled with Maine lobster, whole milk ricotta (made in-house), wild mushrooms, and cognac served with a toasted baguette. This dish is a meal in itself, full of flavor with a taste you cannot forget. My companion would have preferred to try all six ravioli and suggests an additional dish be added to the menu called “Ravioli Flight.”

A favorite on the menu is the House Made Linguine, a creamy dish of Tiger shrimp, pancetta, exotic mushrooms, butternut and white wine. But read the entire menu because everyone will find something to love. For the more traditional palate there are steaks, duck, chicken and salmon, each lovingly cooked in a kitchen where the philosophy is to “use known ingredients in a different way.”

As a starter try Tim’s Brocolli Toast, another family creation on the Snack Menu;  for dessert try the Chocolate Cream Pie, a decadent end to the meal courtesy of Bobby’s  Grandmother.

I asked Executive Chef Bobby Forgét how he would describe his restaurant. He hesitated, and said “it’s not fine dining, but it’s not casual either. For me it’s about the flavors, the combination of acidity and fat, using traditional methods in new ways. I want people to come with an open mind and get out of their comfort zone.”

This is a restaurant for all occasions – a special birthday or anniversary, a meal for two, or a family dinner. Everyone is welcome. The Warehouse is open for lunch, Sunday brunch, Happy Hour and dinner.  You too can join the growing number of Rewards Members at this popular venue. Find out more at

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. — Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own