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Oh, the clean part isn’t so easy. Floyd is determined to spend every waking moment in the swamp/pond, and funnily, it’s become one of the main ways we tell the two pups apart. But, Bentley loves being groomed. I spend 10-15 minutes with him every day, usually just before taking photos. I find that it’s far easier to do a little every day, instead of one huge session once a week, where both of us are bored and frustrated and struggling to untangle mats. I’ve trained him to stand and sit in various positions, give me paw to brush those flanks down his legs, and then I make an enormous fuss out of how lovely he looks, while he trots around like a proud pony.

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As for getting them to sit still, I use our photography time as training sessions, so everything you see them doing (obviously with the exceptions of playing or wrestling or shredding toys) is all tricks that they learn ‘on the job’. Bentley’s favourite trick, by far, is sleep, where he get rewarded for plonking his big fat chops down on the ground, or on a cushion, or on someone’s tummy. Floyd is a bit of a natural show off, and often sits right where I’m taking photos, whether I’ve asked him to or not. That boy is a natural :]

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It’s not exactly cheap. Obviously, you know how much Aske eats, so multiply by three. And then there are vet bills (though my bears all have medical insurance) and microchipping and vaccinations, collars, leads, toys, treats and then their ever growing wardrobe of silly props. We didn’t intend on taking Isabelle, who came to us as a bit of a surprise, but having three is wonderful. Though, the hardest part of having three bears is getting in and out of the house. So many lion rubs.

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We do sometimes walk all three at the same time, though it takes a bit of an army to do it. Bentley’s not really a fan of being on a lead as it is, and Belle is a complete handful. I’m sure she’ll grow out of it though. Generally, because Bentley’s a lot fitter, he goes on his own walks, and those babies go separately while they learn to be good outside. That way they all get the focus they need. The same goes for training. Each of them gets separate attention.

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As for grooming, I spend a few minutes every day. I’m very lucky that all three of them love being brushed, though I’m sure that starting them very young and making grooming as fun as possible has helped alot. Just to get Isabelle and Floyd to love the hair dryer as much as Bentley does.

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When we kids, my mom would cover us in all sorts of homemade skincare products, recipes passed down from my Gran, and probably hers too. We’re originally Greek, and if you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll know that windex cures everything (well no, not really) and you’ll have an idea of how loud and close my family are.  My sister (who makes the most delicious desserts – our skincare is pretty much food) and I (the resident designer) decided to start Hey Gorgeous (named by my mom, who’s very much in charge now, and incredibly talented at marketing). Our only real goal was to make enough pocket money to go away for a weekend. What’s wonderful and funny about it is that none of us could have expected we’d find our passion with this. It’s really taken off this last year, so much so that we’ve all given up our ‘real’ jobs now, because there’s just so much to do. And long may that continue :]

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Business tips… I can only tell you that there’ll be days where you work for 18 hours, that there’ll be lots of hurdles, that you’ll fail a lot, you’ll probably get lots of grey hair and cry sometimes, but so long as you stay true to what you believe in, you keep following your heart, you keep things simple and pure, you’ll discover that one day, everything you’ve done, will all come together. Don’t forget to invest in good branding, have a lot of social presence, and talk passionately about what you love. People will feel your enthusiasm and fall in love too.

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Usually wrapped around my office chair while I’m working :] They sleep outside at night in the summer (all together in a heap of newfies), because it’s so hot, but I always leave the door open for them, and usually, because I work late into the night, and Phoebe gets up so early, there’s always someone awake and checking up on them. During the day, they like the bathrooms (Bee likes to hug the toilet like a drunk), the spot right by the front door with the dapples under the bougainvillea, or under the wagon.

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To be honest, I do most of their training during our photo shoots. All that repetition really helps! Bentley’s obviously a complete show off and his training involves advanced things, like that turning video I posted, very impressive balancing (I could never get Rollie to do that) and even some of his posing, looking this way, sitting like that, lying down with his head on his paw, etc, etc. He can sit, stay, come, lie down, wait (where he stays perfectly still), roll over (both ways and even in succession), both paws, both paws for high fives, touching on both sides, leopard crawling, sleeping, spinning, walking around objects, hopping, acting ashamed, balances standing, sitting and lying down and various poses and positions to make grooming easier.

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As far as the babies go, Floyd has mastered high fives, sitting, lying down, sleeping, rolling and occasionally staying put. Bella is a bit of a free spirit and doesn’t really like to be told what to do, but she can sit, and she gives kisses when asked to. They don’t have very big attention spans, so I do two little 10 minute sessions with each of them once a day. Both the babies will do what they’re asked just for the loves and cuddles (they get the biggest squeezes when they do full tricks, or even multiple tricks in a row) but Bentley likes to have a cookie incentive after a training session. Some of his tricks are actually five or six tricks long, and require plenty of patience, so I think the reward is more than worth it for all the hard work he does :]

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The babies come from Tablebay Newfoundlands in Johannesburg, South Africa. Adrian is such a lovely breeder, and I couldn’t be happier with the whole experience. I do believe that the puppies parents are English bears from Chateau Newfoundlands, which I realize is a bit far from home. You could try asking on the Newfoundland Dog Owners Forum for any breeders closer to where you are.

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Urm, what dog hair and slobber? To be honest, I don’t really notice. The newfies are groomed every day, which means even when it’s seasonal malting time, it’s not that terrible. I find staying on top of their coats really helps keep the fur in the house down. And of course, the vacuum cleaner runs every day. Yep, they slobber, but you sort of become a slobber ninja. Without even realizing it, I do matrix moves to avoid it. I very rarely end up getting ‘got’. But a drool rag is pretty helpful, particularly when eating treats, or when it’s very hot.

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Oh, Bentley pretty much sleeps ALL day! That’s why he’s so beautiful. Newfies are pretty lazy. He wanders around for a bit, plays with some of his toys and/or us, eats, has a nap, watches butterflies, has a nap, goes for a walk, has a nap. You get the idea. Floyd and Isabelle eat 3 times a day at the moment, a medium dog bowl each of Hills Puppy Large Breed dog pellets and vitamin C supplements, but eventually, they’ll eat once a day, like Bee does.

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1. Hehe, yep, Taylor is in fact, single. He’s far too busy for a girlfriend, though I’m pretty sure he has his eye on a rather special lady. He’s ever so mysterious.

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2.  I groom pretty much every day, though in Floyd’s case, this is obviously completely pointless :] I find it much easier to do 10 minutes every day, than an hour once a week. I’m far too neurotic about them to let them go to a groomer (I’m ridiculous) so I deal with mats on a daily basis, I trim feet and toes twice a week, and live by three very inexpensive tools. A steel wide-toothed comb, a cheap plastic tipped human hair brush (to keep them shiny) and a standard pair of scissors. I like my bears to be natural, because they’re perfect already, so I don’t trim their coats really, except when they’re out of control.

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:] Nope, Taylor is my brother. We all work together, live together and raise these bears as a family. It’s lovely because we all have our own ‘wings’, but it’s like living with best friends, so whenever we fancy hanging out, there’s always someone here.

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Hehe, nope. But we do send you virtual puppy cuddles.

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They all sleep together, wherever that may be. None of them are particularly interested in sleeping in dog beds, probably because it’s quite warm. Mostly, they sleep together by the front door, or in one of the bathrooms. Only Floydie is rather partial to napping on the couch.

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I’d love an assistant (with thumbs) to help with the photo shoots, but quite honestly, the majority of the time, it’s just me. Every now and then Taylor will come over to help out, like he did for Belle’s Christmas shoot. But, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about negotiating puppies and the camera and all the props. It’s a juggling act, for sure. Grooming wise, I do that too, but I love it. I find it super relaxing, and the cuddles I get with them melt my heart :]

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Oh yes, all three of them are super chatty. Bentley loves to yell at the neighbours to be quiet whenever they have parties, and that sets the babies off. Floyd does a lot of huffing and puffing too.

They always, always sleep together. Even Bentley seeks them out for snuggles, which is lovely to see. The puppies adored him the minute they met him, of course! What’s not to love. He’s still not quite convinced by them, but he does check on them during the day, and every now and then I see him giving them kisses when he thinks no one is watching.

Bee does eat quite a bit. You can just imagine. He used to eat a lot of chicken with his diet, but he’s developed a bit of an allergy, so now he eats special pellets, tuna and veggies once a day. He weighs in at around 165lbs (75kg), which is really quite large, even for a newfie. My big boy.