5 Cool Toys for Your Dog This Summer

29 Jun

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Feeling the heat this summer? Us too. We’ve gone from one long, awesome walk, to multiple shorter walks at optimal times during the day (er, that is… in the morning and later in the evening) to beat the heat. We also spend a fair bit of time enjoying the sunshine from the backyard, where Archer has lots of shade to retreat to, and the house is always an option if it gets too hot for her.

As we get set to celebrate Canada Day on Wednesday (and Lucy and Topher await Independence Day on Saturday), we decided to have a look at some awesome summer toys for dogs to enjoy. Why not keep cool with an awesome new toy?

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  1. Wet Wubba, KONG ($9.99)
    We recommend KONG toys for any dog—but especially for heavy chewers. If you tend to go through dog toys fast, you need to start investing in some quality, heavy-duty toys. The Wet Wubba by KONG is just that—typical KONG toughness, but built for enjoyment in the water. It’s easy-to-spot colours and size makes it perfect for retrieving in a pool or on the lake, and the extra neoprene fabric is tough enough for a game of tug-o-war afterward. However, we’d like to take note that this is a retrieval toy and not designed as a chew toy. It’ll stand up to some inevitable chewing, but not as a dedicated chew toy.
  2. Chilly Bone, Multi Pet ($8.99)
    Soak and freeze, and let your pup enjoy this while outside in the yard. The more it melts, the messier it gets! Easy to clean (toss it in the washing machine!) and great for a hot day. It won’t stand up to heavy chewing, but for the price makes a great option for staying cool in the summer.
  3. Tugga Wubba, KONG ($10.49)
    Another awesome toy by Kong, but this one with a little more oomph! Especially great for multiple dogs to play tug-o-war with, dunk this toy in some water and toss. It doesn’t have a squeaker which, depending on your dog, may be a deal breaker. But for a pup-parent who seeks a great toy without the noise, this is for you! Comes in 3 sizes.
  4. Arctic Freeze, Hugs Pet Products ($12)
    A cool option for teething puppies and adult dogs alike! Can be frozen for summer fun, or used as an everyday treat ball (or dare I say both? Freeze some treats inside?). Not for heavy chewers, but great as a treat and even better for teething puppies!
  5. Romp-n-Roll Ball, Jolly Pets ($18.99)
    A big toy and lots of fun! Use it as a floaty in the water or kick it around in the yard, the Romp-n-Roll Ball is large and in charge with a rope attached for even more play options. It’s great any time of year, but we especially like it for it’s easy visibility (and big splash!) in the water.

Reminder: Do Not Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car This Summer!

It has to be said, and we’ll keep saying it over and over and over again until everyone understands the horror of leaving a dog in a hot car. We wrote about it last year, and think it’s worthwhile to come back to each summer. Cars can get really hot really fast. Be a responsible pup-parent and plan ahead! And as always, never ever ever leave your dog in the car unattended.

Review: Poochie Mama Hawaii Collar & Leash

28 Jun

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When you live with a pup who just can’t seem to avoid getting dirty, having a leash and collar that are easily washable becomes key. With Archer—my water-seeking missile on the trails around our neighbourhood—I can understand this wholeheartedly. Sharing in my woes was Joanne (aka Poochie Mama!) in Hawaii with her Golden Doodle, Hana Lei. Hana was a magnet for anything wet, smelly, and especially anything particularly dirty.

So, instead of fighting against the constant washing of Hana Lei’s gear, Joanne decided to be proactive about it and just make her own. Joanne made sure her collars and leashes did three things: they had to be waterproof; they had to be dirt-proof; and most of all, they had to be stink-proof. Poochie Mama Hawaii was born after much trial and error, and started churning out beautiful, waterproof collars to the masses.

Joanne was gracious enough to send a beautiful collar and leash to both Topher and Archer so we could give it a proper testing. With bulldozer Topher and water-maniac Archer, we were sure the collars and leashes would be put through their paces.

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Materials

Leather leashes are strong and beautiful, but for dogs that frequent water, leather simply will not do. Fabric leashes are great, but require a run through the washing machine to really get all the dirt and grime out. Beyond that, there isn’t much else material-wise to use for leashes. Poochie Mama Hawaii’s collars are made of a vinyl or urethane coated webbing, but promise to be better than leather, buttery soft, and super flexible.

Offered in glossy or matte finishes, Poochie Mama Hawaii’s collars and leashes are offered in a plethora of beautiful colours and offer two options of hardware, and decorative “bling” options that can really make each order special. Hardware is offered in either nickel-plated zinc die cast (default) or black thermoplastic.

Both the collars and leashes are handmade and manufactured in the USA.

Colours

Both Lucy and I really loved the look of the matte finish—it almost looks like leather, but in really cool, funky colours! Lucy chose a handsome blue for Topher, and it looks great on him. For Archer, the white collar was a great choice. I’m always looking for collars that stand out against her black fur because she’s always running through the trees around the off-leash trails we frequent, and being able to pick her out quickly is an absolute must.

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Between the glossy and matte colour choices, Poochie Mama Hawaii offers over 20 colours for their collar lines. Customers are free to really personalize their order with the different colour combinations between the collars and leashes, as well as the addition of decorative pieces.

Waterproof, Dirt-Proof, and Stink-Proof

For Joanne and Hana Lei, who live in beautiful Hawaii, where not only are they dealing with sand and dirt, but also saltwater, having a collar and leash that’s easily cleaned was of the utmost importance. The plastic material used makes these collars and leashes an absolute breeze to rinse off after any outing, no matter what mess your pup got into. Because the material is impermeable, there is no lingering smell.

Unfortunately, these collars and leashes won’t solve the problem of a smelly dog—you’ll still have to rinse them down or give them a bath if they get particularly dirty! But this leaves one less thing to worry about.

Durable For Everyday Activities

These collars and leashes are made for the rough-and-tumble dog that can’t help but come home dripping with sand, mud, and whoknowswhat. A quick wipe or a dip in some warm water, and the gear is right as rain again. Overall, we recommend the Poochie Mama Hawaii collars and leashes as a great everyday leash option, especially for any dog routinely romping around in water, sand, or mud! Which, let’s be honest, is a lot of what dogs really want to do on their daily outings.

Take Your Dog To Work Day! 6 Reasons Your Dog Is A Great Co-Worker

25 Jun

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It’s Take Your Dog To Work Day! Around here, take your dog to work day happens…everyday! Working from home gives us a unique appreciation for our canine coworkers. These days, more and more companies are allowing pets into the office on a regular basis. Bringing pets to work is proving to be a positive influence on the workplace. So, here are a few more reasons why your dog just might be your new favorite coworker.

1. Pets Decrease Your Stress Levels

Both dogs and cats are frequently cited as amazing stress-relievers. Simply looking into the eyes of your dog can melt your worries and deadlines away—for better or worse! A 2012 Virginia Commonwealth University study showed that people who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of cortisol than those who did not.

As the workday went on, those who brought dogs to work experienced a decline in stress levels of 11% while those who didn’t have a furry friend saw their stress levels rise up to 70% by the end of the day. There’s a reason for this phenomenon: many studies show that simply petting a dog can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin, and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Plus, our dogs can provide a healthy dose of humor while in the office. It’s hard to have a bad day at work when you’ve got an adorable squishy face next to you, ready to cheer you up with a round of puppy kisses.

2. Dogs Make Great Team Builders

Anyone who’s taken their dog for a walk down the street knows, dogs are a social catalyst. Bringing your pup into the office will inevitably lead to striking up more conversations with coworkers who simply want to come by and give your dog some love. A 2010 study from Central Michigan University showed dogs in the workplace can lead to more trust between coworkers, how cool is that?

Personally, I’d take mandatory dog-social hours for strengthening work relationships over any cheesy team-building exercise!

3. They’re Great At Networking

If you routinely bring your pet to work, you may have to start thanking him for your next sale! Dogs not only boost internal morale at companies, they can also help companies bond with outside vendors and clients coming in to visit the office. It makes for a memorable experience, for any outsider!

4. Your Dog Will Increase Your Work Ethic

There are very few of us who would willingly work overtime when we know our pets are waiting anxiously for us at home at the end of the day. But let pets into the office, and suddenly you’re less stressed about making your deadlines and making time for your dog.

5. A Quick Dog Walk For Lunch Can Boost Creativity

We all know that regular exercise improves physical health, and taking a break from the computer for a walk has been proven to deliver mental health benefits. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found going for a walk can boost creative thinking by as much as 60% compared to sitting! You may not take that walk when on your own at the office, but what if your dog was sitting next to you, with those big puppy eyes? It’s walking time, sucker.

6. They’ll Make You Look Great

Even with all the benefits, there are a few downsides to having your dog at work. Their cuteness can be distracting, and bad for productivity. Plus, as far as coworkers go, they’re the least likely to pull their weight around the office—talk about not being a team player, when they’re sleeping all the time!

But hey, when all your coworker does is sleep and beg for treats, that makes you look pretty great, right? Just make sure he doesn’t eat those TPS reports.

Dog Flu: What You Need To Know To Keep Your Dog Happy & Healthy

24 Jun

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching our local news for updates about dog flu. If you live in Atlanta, you probably have seen the updates on the current outbreak in the Decatur area—which happens to be where we are! As additional cases pop up, we’re trying to make sure we follow the vet recommendations to reduce the risk of coming into contact with the virus.

Outbreaks of canine influenza can sound scary, but there are lots of things we can do to keep our pets safe. First, you need to understand canine influenza itself.

What Is Dog Flu?

The name “dog flu” refers to the canine influenza virus (CIV), one of the viral causes of kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects thousands of dogs. Because CIV is a relatively new virus, many dogs have not been exposed to it before. Any dog can be susceptible to this infection.

Is There A Vaccine For Canine Influenza?

There are actually two different strains of canine flu currently in the U.S. The first, known as the H3N8 flu, surfaced in 2004 in greyhounds and has occasionally popped up since then. This is the strain that currently has a vaccine.

But there is no vaccine for a new strain of flu, the H3N2 flu, currently sickening thousands of dogs in the Midwest. This new strain seems to be hitting dogs harder than the earlier strain, and it’s the strain that has been identified in Atlanta in recent weeks.

While canine influenza is linked to kennel cough, be aware that it does not appear that the Bordatella vaccine (one dogs usually get annually to protect against kennel cough) protects against these strains.

How Does Canine Influenza Spread?

Canine Influenza is easily transmitted between dogs through a combination of direct and indirect contact with respiratory secretions. The virus does not survive for very long in the environment itself, so dogs usually get the influenza virus when they are in close proximity to other infectious dogs.

What Dogs Are Most At Risk?

Any dog who interacts with large numbers of other dogs—at daycare or boarding, at the dog park, or in training classes, etc.—is at increased risk for exposure to canine influenza.

What Are The Symptoms?

Most dogs will show typical symptoms of kennel cough, but a small number of dogs may also develop a more severe illness. The symptoms of canine influenza virus include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Variable fever
  • Clear nasal discharge that progresses to thick, yellowish-green mucus
  • Rapid/difficult breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Is Canine Influenza Fatal?

If the virus is quickly diagnosed and treated, the fatality rate is very low. Deaths from the virus are usually caused by secondary complications, like pneumonia. This is why it’s very important that dogs with canine influenza receive the proper veterinary care.

How Is Canine Influenza Treated?

Because it is a virus, there is no specific antiviral medication currently available. However, supportive care and appropriate treatment of secondary infections are important. Your veterinarian may advise some of these treatments to soothe your dog while the virus runs its course:

  • Good nutrition and supplements to raise immunity
  • A warm, quiet, and comfortable spot to rest
  • Medications to treat secondary bacterial infections
  • Intravenous fluids to maintain hydration
  • Workup and treatment for pneumonia

While most dogs will fight the infection within ten to thirty days, any secondary infections may require antibiotics and, in the case of pneumonia, hospitalization.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Canine Influenza?

If you think your dog has canine influenza virus, the responsible and correct thing to do is immediately isolate them from all other dogs, and call your veterinarian.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Spreading the Disease?

Any dog infected with canine influenza should be kept isolated from other for at least ten to fourteen days from the onset of symptoms. Dogs are most infectious before symptoms are apparent, and can continue shedding the virus for up to ten days. This means that by the time symptoms are seen, other dogs may have already been exposed to the virus.

While this information can seem scary, remember that approximately 95% of dogs recover from this virus. It is rarely fatal, and similar to human flu in that milder cases will not require medical support and symptoms should pass within one or two weeks. However, you should always take any concerns you have about your pet to your veterinarian, so don’t hesitate to call if your dog seems to be falling ill.

If you’re a volunteer at a shelter, or work closely with dogs on a regular basis, here are more frequently asked questions about how to keep you and the dogs in your care safe and healthy.

Adoption Story: Natalie, Christian, & Boulder

23 Jun

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Story submitted by Natalie

Christian and I both grew up with dogs, and we’ve wanted one for many years, but never felt like we had the time or were in the right place in our lives to commit to a pup. We were poor and busy graduate students, often working late and traveling internationally for research. As we finished our PhDs, we finally decided we were ready, and planned to begin looking for a puppy to adopt after our wedding.

We wanted a rescue dog. Our active lifestyle, love of long hikes, and desire to be outside constantly made us think that an active herding breed would be a nice fit. We wanted a smart dog who would have no problem keeping up with us on 10-mile hikes in the wilderness. We thought a mutt with significant herding breed in its mix would be ideal for us, and planned to search shelters for such a dog.

Boulder came into my life unexpectedly on a gorgeous fall day in New Mexico. Three friends and I spent the day rock climbing at our favorite winter climbing spot, many miles from civilization. After watching the sun set across the open desert from the top of our cliff, we hiked down to the small dirt lot where our cars were parked. As we got camping gear and dinner out of our cars, a small white and black puppy with patches of dried blood on his face ran up to us. He seemed fearless and incredibly friendly. We were bathed in puppy kisses.

He followed us as we hiked with our tents, cooler, and firewood to a nearby campsite. We offered him water, which he drank eagerly. There was no water source for miles, so his extreme thirst was unsurprising. He accepted bits of our dinner, and cuddled with us as we sat around the campfire talking. The puppy was a mutt, but he appeared to be part (50%?) Australian cattle dog, a common breed favored by ranchers in New Mexico. This little lost puppy just happened to be exactly what we planned choose when we got around to adopting a dog.

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At bedtime, he tried to join me in my tent. I didn’t want a puppy peeing in or chewing on my tent, so I kept him outside. After a few failed attempts to enter, the puppy curled up on top of my backpack in the vestibule between my tent and its rainfly. We both drifted off to sleep. In the wee hours of the morning I woke up to the sound of a pack of coyotes howling. I realized the puppy had burrowed his way under my tent to curl up next to me, and was shaking in fear. He knew enough to fear the coyotes, which would make a quick snack of a tender little puppy if they could get to him. My heart melted. I was his.

The next morning our little puppy was still with us. We fed him bits of our breakfast of granola bars and bananas as he wormed his way into our laps. We assume someone abandoned him on the side of the nearby highway, a common occurrence with unwanted pups, as there was no one and nothing else around. Given the open landscape, it seemed unlikely that he had gotten lost or separated from his owner accidentally. He came with us to the day’s climbing site, where he never let me far from his sight. When it was time to go home, there was no question of us leaving him in the desert. If we couldn’t keep him, we would find a rescue organization that could. It was clear he couldn’t last much longer alone in the desert. My friend and I drove the hour and a half home with him content and well behaved in the backseat.

My husband of less than a month happened to be out of town for work that week. I texted him about this adorable puppy, ending with “and he loves me and wants to come home with me.” Christian’s response was, “was that a question?” Then, “if you want him, I trust you. Take him home.” That was that. We stopped at Petsmart on our way home to buy puppy food, a collar, leash, and a couple toys. I didn’t want to invest too much in this puppy, either emotionally or monetarily, until I had taken him to a vet and ensured he had neither a microchip nor an incurable disease. A friend loaned me a crate. A half-dozen friends came over that night to adore the puppy.

We decided on a rock climbing-themed name, Boulder, for the little puppy, in honor of how I found him. We gave him a bath and pulled many cactus spines out of his shoulder, events he tolerated stoically. Boulder was not thrilled about his crate that first night, and had diarrhea twice in it, likely due to unfamiliar foods over the previous 24 hours after being somewhat starved. We survived that first night together, snuggling on the couch for a nap at dawn after his second bath in 12 hours (necessitated by the aforementioned diarrhea-in-crate issue).

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A trip to the vet the next day confirmed that Boulder was not microchipped, about 16 weeks old, 16 pounds, and healthy other than being underweight. We started his puppy vaccinations, and I stocked up on puppy supplies and toys, relieved that he was really and truly mine. I bought a dog training book for my Kindle and read it in about 24 hours. Boulder and I bonded through basic training and play his first week in our home while Christian was away. I texted Christian photos of Boulder several times a day, and when he returned home Boulder accepted him as family instantly.

We took Boulder on weekend hikes from the start. He chased tumbleweeds into the Rio Grande in the fall and bounded through several feet of snow for miles during Christmas break in the mountains. He loves morning jogs and long hikes, and we look forward to taking him on his first backpacking trip this summer. He’s pretty much the perfect dog for us. We feel like a complete family now, the three of us snuggling on the couch together in the evenings after work. Having Boulder made us feel more like a married couple than our wedding did.

Boulder was shockingly easy to train. Like many herding breeds, he is smart and eager to please us, so he picks up new commands and tricks quickly. He wants to be taught new tricks. He loves other dogs and people. Most training issues came from overexcitement. For example, it’s been a struggle to train him not to jump on people, because he desperately wants their attention more than he wants anything else, and he’s so cute that most people reward him with pets when he jumps on them.

Boulder was terrified of cars, and as a result hated going on walks around our neighborhood (but not hikes. From the start he loved hikes, as there are no scary cars on hiking trails. And not car rides; those he loved). We tapped into his herding instinct to distract him from his fear of cars. We’d recruit a friend or two to jog in front of him while Christian or I held his leash. Boulder would temporarily forget the cars as he chased the group of friends jogging just out of his reach. This technique combined with lots of patience, treats, and gradually increasing walk distance helped him to begin enjoying walks, which are now one of his favorite things.

First Look: Collar Keepsake

22 Jun

It’s difficult to imagine dealing with the loss of a pet. Their lives can be so short, especially in comparison to our own. We typically get little over a decade with these amazing, dedicated, wonderful animals before we have to say goodbye. It can be cruel and unfair, but it’s the price we pay—and would gladly pay again—to enjoy a life enriched by the companionship of dogs and cats.

Launching on Kickstarter today is Collar Keepsake, a beautiful and thoughtful means of remembering that beloved pet you loved and lost.

What is Collar Keepsake?

Collar Keepsake is a simple yet beautiful way of taking one of the few things we have left of our pet—their collar—and turning it into a memorial piece. All too often, we want to do something meaningful with their collar, only to have it get lost in the clutter when creativity doesn’t strike.

Collar Keepsake aims to remedy that. The minimal, low profile frame structure is available in three sizes. The backplate with integrated hanging slot is a rigid structure, which friction fits (presses) into the collar frame. It is light weight and made from injection molded plastic with a clear polycarbonate lens.

Collar Keepsake is designed as a structure that accepts your dog’s collar—essentially making the collar itself become the frame. The frames are molded in black plastic to further make your dog’s collar the focus and the frame to “disappear.”

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Origins of Collar Keepsake

Collar Keepsake is the creative solution of painter and printmaker, Kent Ambler. In 2003, a very special rescue dog of his, Batty Suz, suddenly died. Kent wasn’t ready for her departure and wanted to keep her presence in the house. He made a wooden structure to display her collar and tags and glued her photo onto the front. Since that time, Kent has made two more collar frames for two of his dogs that have passed away: Bucko (2006), and Chumley (2010).

Guests in Kent’s home always noted the beauty of his memorial frames, leading him to tweak the design for a larger audience. Quite simply, there is nothing like Collar Keepsake available on the market today and we think it’s an absolutely lovely way to remember our beloved pets.

Why Kickstarter?

Kent has a few major hurdles to overcome to make Collar Keepsake a reality for a broader audience. The needed injection moulding is expensive, not to mention all the other details of product manufacturing and marketing.

Backing this project on Kickstarter means there’s some serious perks to being an early adopter of the memorial piece. If you have recently lost a pet, and have found yourself at a loss with how to remember and celebrate your dog’s life, you need to consider backing Kent’s project. One Collar Keepsake can be yours for a pledge of $8 (get 2 for $15, or 3 for $23).

Unfamiliar with the Kickstarter process? It’s simple. If Collar Keepsake reaches it’s funding goal, then the project moves forward—pledges are processed, and rewards will be sent out according to the production timeline. If it fails to reach its funding goal—nothing happens. Your credit card doesn’t get charged, and Kent goes back to the drawing board.

But honestly, we really hope to see this project be successful. Lucy and I think it’s a beautiful, simple way to remember the cats and dogs who have enriched our lives and have been such big parts of our families.

6 Ways to Include Your Dog in Your Wedding (Outside of the Ceremony)

21 Jun

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When planning a wedding, most couples will contemplate whether or not it’s a practical idea to include your dog in your wedding. I mean, your pup is a part of your family, right? He has every right to be a part of the celebration! But not all dogs perform well with crowds, and certainly a wedding can be a little bit hectic at times. Sometimes, it isn’t feasible to include your pup in the wedding ceremony. So what can you do if you still want your dog a part of the big day? We’ve put together six awesome ways to include them!

We rounded up some great wedding gear for dogs last year that you should absolutely check out too! However you decide to include your pup, be sure to dress them up for the occasion! And don’t worry, that doesn’t mean wrestling him into a tux—be playful about it!

The Proposal

Including your dog in the proposal is awesome, and an increasing trend among dog lovers. It’s always been popular, of course—and with good reason! Guy, take note: it’s almost impossible to say no to those sweet puppy eyes. Whether you ask with a sign attached to your pup’s collar, or have the ring there (Be careful! You don’t want to lose that precious ring!), including your dog in a beautiful setting is a wonderful way to propose.

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(Photo via HowHeAsked.com)

Engagement Photos

It’s nice to include some of your engagement photos at the reception during your wedding, and including your pup in those photos. Engagement photos tend to be more relaxed and personal, and it’s an easier environment for most dogs to be included. The laid back atmosphere with just you, your groom-to-be, and the photographer is great for dogs that are more excitable or anxious. Just be sure to mention that you’d like your dog (or cat!) included in your photos and ask if there’s anything you need to do or bring to make the shoot go smoothly.


(Photo by Jason + Gina)

Save the Date

Similar to engagement photos—and probably done on the same day—a photo specifically for your “Save the Date” reminder is a great time to include your pup!


(Photo by Hillyard Photography)

Wedding Photos

If you want to include your dog in your wedding, but not the ceremony, having a designated pup-sitter around for the photography is a great idea. After the ceremony is finished and you have the next few hours before the reception to take photos, have your designated pup sitter come along with your dog so you can include him in a few photos.


(Photo by Luis Corona)

Cake Topper

Love your pup but don’t trust him enough to be around your beautiful dress or well-dressed guests? Why not include him in your big day with a representation on your cake! It’s a great way to not only include one dog, but multiple pets. It’s your family, after all! A cake topper of the bride and groom with their beloved pets (cats, dogs, birds, whatever!) is a perfect way to subtly add that punch of pooch into your special day.

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(Cake Topper by TheRosemarryToppers)

Trash the Dress

Your dog was made for this job. Since we domesticated dogs from their wolf ancestors, your dog was made to trash your wedding dress! Or, at least help. Thinking of doing one of those fun trash-the-dress photoshoots? Conspire with your fun photographer to get some truly awesome shots with your pup involved. Muddy paws, playing at the beach, you name it! Your dog would be happy to help you ruin that egregiously priced piece of fabric.


(Photo by Roxana Albusel)

Got any other ideas to include your dog in your wedding (ahem, but not the ceremony)? Let us know in the comments!

An Ode To West Paw Design’s Zogoflex Toys

18 Jun

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When you own a dog who’s a heavy chewer, you come to realize a few key things. One, the cuter the toy, the more likely it’s going to be destroyed in under a minute. Two, there is simply no stuffed toy on the planet built to withstand their jaws. And three, chewable toys that actually live up to their “indestructible” name are worth their weight in gold, and should be cherished.

Which is why I just continue to be amazed and impressed by West Paw Design’s Zogoflex line of dog toys. We recently received their Tizzi dog toy in our June BarkBox, and it’s holding up wonderfully! So here’s my ode to West Paw Design’s Zogoflex dog toys, one of the best lines of dog toys for heavy chewers we’ve ever encountered.

The Tux & Tizzi Treat Toys

Now seven months after we bought it, the Tux treat toy still has no more than a few treat marks. We stuff the Tux toy with treats whenever anyone comes over to visit, and Topher chews it for hours at a time. It’s the only toy aside from our Kong that’s withstood the true test of time and chewing.

The Tizzi looks to be the same way. I love that you can twist the “legs” of the toy together to make getting to the treats more difficult. Both Topher and Archer are really enjoying it! At our house, we’ll be watching this toy to make sure it can handle Topher’s chewing—the legs make it more vulnerable to being ripped than the Tux—but we’re pretty confident, considering our current track record.

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The Hurley Dog Bone

We bought the Hurley bone to be Topher’s Christmas present last year, because we like to invest in our holiday toys, in hopes we’ll get more out of them. We were not disappointed. Topher chews his Hurley bone as much or more than the Nylabones we usually give him for chewing. It’s a little unbelievable, but the Hurley bone has lasted just as long as the Nylabones. The Hurley definitely shows its share of teeth marks compared to his Tux toy, but it hasn’t shown enough significant wear for us to be worried about it falling apart. How amazing is that?!

West Paw Design’s entire line of Zogoflex toys are also BPA-free, phthalate-free, and non-toxic. This makes them FDA compliant—important when these toys spend so much time in your pet’s mouth. Zogoflex toys are also infinitely recyclable—meaning if you send your worn-out Zogoflex toys back, West Paw recycles them into new Zogoflex toys. The more Zogoflex toys they get back, the greener Zogoflex gets!

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Satisfaction, Guaranteed!

If your Zogoflex product isn’t up to par, West Paw Design also offers a one time guaranteed replacement or refund. I was sure we’d be sending a toy back when I made my first purchase. Now, I’m gleefully ticking off the months that pass until we eventually send back these toys…to be recycled into new toys! I bet they’ll last over a year—quite a feat when most of Topher’s toys get destroyed in less than an hour.

When we first reviewed the Zogoflex toys, I said we’d probably be buying more of the Zogoflex line of toys very soon, and I’m so glad they proved to be such a great toy for Topher. At this rate, we may own the whole Zogoflex line by this time next year.

Dog Training Using Hand Signals

17 Jun

Dogs are very visually oriented creatures by nature. Ever notice how your dog always seem to find the squirrels, dogs, and people in your neighborhood before you even see them? And because dogs are visually oriented, they can more easily understand our body language than our spoken cues to them.

When we started out training Topher, we found he responded to hand signals more consistently than spoken commands. Don’t worry, Topher’s not hard of hearing! However, we decided to build hand signals into our dog training repertoire to strengthen our ability to communicate with our dog. Training your dog using hand signals is also an important tool to use when training deaf dogs, or if working on training for obedience competitions where verbal commands are not allowed.

Although there are no “official” commonly recognized dog training hand signals, here are some we use for our basic commands, that you can easily modify to suit you and your dog.

How To Train With Hand Signals

To teach your dog a coordinating hand signal with a command, first, you make the hand signal. Immediately after, you’ll give the verbal command (that your dog already knows). Mark and reward your dog’s response, and repeat! After you’ve done this several time, try the hand signal without the verbal cue. If your dog responds, reward them! If not, be patient, and repeat the first exercise with the verbal command before trying again.

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Sit

Our hand signal for sit morphed out of how we lured Topher into a sitting position. Start with your palm up facing you, and then bring your fingers up for the “sit” command. If your dog needs more of a visual, try bringing your entire hand up, as if to touch your shoulder.

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Down

We point at the floor for our down command. Another recognized cue is to position your open palm facing the floor, then push straight down.

Stay

Probably the easiest hand signal command to recognize—it’s the universal sign for stop!

Wait / Heel

This is a great signal for any dog to know on walks. The wait command is similar to stay, but your open palm should be in front of your dog as he’s moving forward. If your dog already knows the command to heel, you can use this to bring him into a heel without a spoken command.

Watch Me

The watch me command is a great tool for keeping your dog’s focus in more active situations. We use this a lot in class to get Topher’s attention back on us and off of the other lovely dogs around us.

Inspiring Watercolour Tattoo Ideas for Dog Lovers

16 Jun

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Often, it’s hard to put into words just how much our pets can mean to us. When a beloved pet—a member of your family—passes away, it seems unjust to simply move on with your life without much consideration for all the love, loyalty, and companionship they gave to you. Some people choose to immortalize their special pups—often referred to as a heart dog, a once-in-a-lifetime kindred spirit—with tattoos.

And some people are doing it beautifully, with a colourful, lively watercolour style that has recently become more and more popular.

Thinking of immortalizing your best friend with a memorial tattoo? Consider the watercolour style with these inspiring watercolour tattoos.

(Tattoos: @espacoalvorada, Javi Wolf, @aleksmothra, @fede_gas_tattoo, @danleicester, and @papercranestudio)

So, what do you think? What’s your style preference? Have you gotten a memorial tattoo?

Photograph courtesy of Javi Wolf.