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Giving my dogs a Christmas gift really want

December 10, 2013 17 comments

Daisy and her Woobie

Daisy and her Woobie

If you celebrate Christmas then I am guessing many of  you will be buying a gift or two for your dogs in the coming weeks. I’ve been debating whether or not I will be doing the same.

Two years ago I chose not to buy my dogs any gifts because they already had SO many toys in their toy basket. Then last year, I broke down and purchased a new Woobie for Daisy (that Jasper destroyed fairly quickly), some stuff-less squeaky toys for Cupcake (that she still has and loves) and new Kong Squeaky balls for Jasper (one of which still survives) for Christmas.

This year I am leaning towards not buying them any more toys. Don’t get me wrong, my dogs would be happy to have a new toy to play with, but they also wouldn’t mind not getting toys either. The things that make my dogs most happy are not “things.” They love what cannot be bought. So this year I am thinking I will give them more of what they really want:

  1. Longer walks in the park.
  2. Longer walks in new parks.
  3. More time learning new tricks and commands.
  4. More time playing outside in the snow.
  5. More time cuddling and playing inside (when it’s cold).

What are you getting your dogs (and cats) this year?

 

There may not be any of this going on this year, but maybe that’s okay.

A Pet Sitter’s Review: Dynamo Dog Treats

November 5, 2013 11 comments

IMG_9468Back when I was a pet sitter, I was known for carrying a treat pouch with me everywhere I went. The dogs knew it, their humans knew it, even the neighborhood dogs knew it.

There were several reason I did this:

  1. To mark a desired behavior (like loose-leash walking) in one of my doggie clients while out on our walks.
  2. To train new dog tricks to some of my doggie clients (like the adorable Teddy) as a way to add a little variety to our walks.
  3. To toss to an oncoming dog who may be a threat to my client. (I even threw the whole pouch at a dog just to slow her down!)

I always felt like I was prepared when I had my treat pouch with me.

One of the treats I used to use most often (and still use) was Cloud Star Soft and Chewy Buddy Biscuits. I originally hose them because they are a high quality treat that is made in the U.S.A. by a family owned business and because they are grain-free (no corn!) and do not include artificial preservatives, but I soon realized that they were also a high-value treat for almost all my doggie clients. Dogs love them, including my own dogs.Dynamo dog hip and joint

So when I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing the latest Cloud Star dog treats, I (of course) said yes.  I don’t often do product reviews, but this one I was happy to do because they are a company I trust and one I have purchased from many times before.

Our dog park friend. He loved them so much he tried to get some from me a week later.

Our dog park friend. He loved them so much he tried to get some from me a week later.

Our box of treats arrived on the same day I purchased a new bag of Soft and Chewy Buddy Biscuits at the pet food store. It made me laugh. What are the chances?

I opened the box to see a new line Cloud Star dog treats called Dynamo Dog. All the bags were clearly labeled and indicated they were grain free on the package. They also clearly identified a specific dog need they were designed to meet. The four bags in the box were:

  • Hip and Jointmade with Bacon and Cheese, contains Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin Sulfate.
  • Hip and Jointmade with Chicken, contains Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin Sulfate.
  • Tummy treats, made with Pumpkin and Ginger (both of which are great for dogs), contain several types of probiotics to help create good bacteria in a dog’s tummy.
  • Skin and Coatmade with Salmon, contains Vitamin E to help with the skin and coat.

I started my dogs off with the Tummy treats the first night. They were an absolute hit!  I laughed as my dogs offered me all sorts of behaviors (downs, sit, watch me, turn, etc.) just so they could get a treat. They loved them.

Dynamo Dog Body and coatWe tried them again at the dog park the next day. They were a hit there as well. I was starting to feel like the Pied Piper after a while because I had so many dogs coming back to me for more! One dog actually came back to me today (several times) looking for more treats! Clearly, the dogs loved them.

We have since tried the Hip and Joint and the Skin and Coat. All have been popular with my dogs and the dogs at the dog park. I even used them in the dog’s chess game to see if they could find them quicker. They did.

We’ll be buying these treats again.

Update: I came home yesterday to torn up packages of Dynamo Dog Treats. The bags were already empty, but clearly the dogs love them. :)

IMG_9469

The demise of Daylight Saving Time and the Dawn of Dog Game Nights

October 28, 2013 14 comments

IMG_8929It’s getting to be that time of year again. The time when darkness pervades our mornings and our nights and Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends. it’s my least favorite time of year because it means the dogs and I will be relegated to walking in the dark or just on weekends.

Cupcake is a pro at Chess

Cupcake is a pro at Chess

If I lived in Arizona or Hawaii or Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, I wouldn’t have to set my clock back at all and the dogs and I could walk in the morning. But since we live in Minnesota, and no one has seen fit to get rid of this archaic and outdated policy, we will be making the best of it by playing dog puzzles and other silly games.

Truthfully, the dogs actually love our dog game nights. They look forward to taking their turn at finding treats in the dog chess game or digging a Kong out of a box and taking it out of a sock. It’s a challenge and something different and interesting for them to do.

Cupcake has gotten especially good at playing dog chess, so I am thinking it may be time to try some new games. Here are just a few I am looking at. Have any of you tried these? I would love your opinion on which ones might be a challenge for my little dog prodigy.

Nina Ottosson Brick Game

Nina Ottosson Brick Interactive Toy

Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado  Interactive Toy

Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Interactive Toy

Nina Ottosson Dog Turbo Interactive Toy

Nina Ottosson Dog Turbo Interactive Toy

Hagen Dogit Mind Games

Hagen Dogit Mind Games 3-in-1 Interactive Smart Toy for Dogs

Operation Thundershirt gets underway

July 1, 2013 35 comments

IMG_4514Operation Thundershirt has officially begun at Casa del Mel. On Saturday evening the first real barrage of fireworks mayhem began. Unlike many of the ones I usually hear at this time of year, these were pretty mild, but it didn’t matter because Daisy was already in full fear overload. It was time to bring out the Thundershirt.

This time of year can be very frustrating for me and very stressful for Daisy. As a fourth of July baby, you would think I would be a lover of all things fireworks. Um no. Not so much really.Even as a baby my mother said I would cry when fireworks began. Like Daisy, the noise hurt my ears.

I am not opposed to people having fun with fireworks, but the constant barrage over the days and weeks before and after the 4th of July can be a bit much. On top of that is the randomness in which they occur. Day or night, I never know when someone will set off the odd bottle rocket or the humongously loud firework that booms with such intensity one has to wonder if they wouldn’t be better suited for a city’s firework’s display than a small cozy little neighborhood.

I feel fortunate that I only have one dog who is inconsolable this time of year (instead of three), but it doesn’t lessen the stress we all feel as Daisy deals with her fears. The Thundershirt helps, but  it isn’t a cure-all. Unlike thunderstorms, where the Thundershirt will calm Daisy so much she will go back to her kennel and fall asleep, fireworks are much more nerve-wracking for her. At best, I can hope it will take the edge off and make her less jumpy and less unsettled. Often, I just have to settle for cuddling with her and soothing her with my touch or voice. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Last night was one of little success. Even with her Thundershirt on, Daisy was displaying all of the signs of a dog with a sound phobia:

  • Excessively panting
  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Curling up into a tiny little ball
  • Getting as close to me as possible and hiding her head in my lap
  • Refusing to go outside as soon as the sun started to go down
  • Unable to leave my side when she does get outside
  • Jumped at the slightest noise or movement (often unrelated to fireworks)
  • Inability to sleep or relax

It was only when the noises stopped that she fell asleep. Thank goodness they stopped fairly early. I cannot not hope that this will be the case as we get closer to the 4th.

Operation Thundershirt is underway, but Operation Melatonin may have to be implemented as a supplementary action. How are you and your dogs faring out there? Are you having much success calming your dogs this time of year?

My Summer Book Pick – A Stolen Dog (A True Story)

June 17, 2013 9 comments

51NtI68FMELShortly after Cupcake returned home from her 12 day hiatus a friend suggested that maybe I should write a book about our experience. I took it as a very kind suggestion, but shrugged it off. I didn’t think I could ever encompass our experience in mere words. To some degree, I still don’t. It truly was one of the most emotionally charged, inspiring, scary, disturbing and frustrating experience of my life. You just can’t know what a dog owner goes through when they lose their dog unless you have been through it yourself.

That’s why I was surprised when Tricia O’Malley contacted me to offer me the chance to read and review her book The Stolen Dog. Why? Because it was a true story. HER true story about how her Boston Terrier, Briggs, was stolen and how she got him back.

How was she able to write about something that must have been so difficult to go through?

I sat down to read it on Sunday afternoon and didn’t put it down until I was finished. It reads like a suspense novel. When Briggs first goes missing, Tricia and her husband are at a loss of what to do. They run through the streets calling Brigg’s name – thinking maybe he just got out of their yard somehow. But when a neighbor informs them that a man took their dog right off their deck, they are forced to face the new reality – their dog was stolen and he could be anywhere AND he could be in serious danger.

Tricia and her husband comb their city, Milwaukee, looking for Briggs. At every turn in their story, you wonder if the next person is the dognapper or if they will be harmed as they navigate through some of the darkest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Milwaukee. It’s intense and scary. It also captures every emotion, every experience, every frustration and every bit of hope I felt when Cupcake was missing.

I laughed. I cried. I expressed outrage on her behalf. But mostly, I nodded my head as she shared stories about all of the kind people who entered her life to help her find Briggs. Complete strangers. People just motivated to help because they too, loved dogs. Sometimes from the most unexpected corners too.

I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out if Briggs was found. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it was well worth waiting for.

If you are looking for a good summer read while on the beach this summer, I highly recommend Tricia’s book. Trust me. You won’t be able to put it down either. Plus, she shares a lot of great info along the way on how they got Briggs back. There’s also a little surprise that happens along the way. Let’s just say that if he had a long tail he would be wagging it wildly. :)

I’m going to be reading it again. Slowly. It is worthy of a second go-around.

I’ll leave you with Tricia’s own words from the last page of her book…

“What I do know is that from now on, I’ll pay more attention to people who ask for help. Why? Because I know what it’s like to feel helpless. Because ultimately, that is what saved Briggs, a community of people who decided to care about a small dog, stolen from a porch, on a sunny day in May.”

I can completely relate.

Extolling the Virtues of a Martingale Collar

March 28, 2013 47 comments
Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

The first time I ever saw a Martingale collar was at the dog park. It was worn by a Greyhound that was new to the park.

I probably never even would have noticed the mechanics of the collar if I hadn’t noticed the beautiful coloring of it first. The collar was made of a bright and colorful fabric mixed with a swirl of blues and green and purple. It stood out.

I remember asking the dog’s mom where she had gotten it and her telling me all about the collar, where she had purchased it and why she had it. I was fascinated. Having a dog who regularly slipped her collar (Daisy), I loved the idea that I could purchase a collar that she couldn’t slip out of.

If you have never seen one before, a Martingale collar has two loops instead of one. Most dog collars you see these days are the simple ones that go around the dog’s neck (and hopefully, stay on them) and clip into a buckle. The Martingale collar is different. It is designed to prevent dogs from easily slipping out of their collars.  The beauty of the design is that it does this without cutting off dog’s airflow, as those old choker chains did when I was a kid.

The Martingale is often seen on Greyhounds because a regular collar does not work on them. Why? Because, like Shelties, a Greyhound’s head is smaller than their neck, which means a regular collar can easily slip off their neck, over their head, and they can be off and running before you can catch them. A Martingale allows the collar to tighten around the dogs’ neck without hurting them. The idea here is to keep your dog safe and in your control.

So why am I extolling the virtues of a Martingale collar today? Because I want dog owners to be aware of what is available to them, especially if they have a fearful or skittish dog (or just a dog who regularly slips their collar). Is your dog frightened by loud noises and looks for a place to run and hide? Get a Martingale collar. Does your dog like to chase runners like Jasper does? Get a Martingale collar.

Over the past few months, I have seen WAY too many Lost Sheltie signs and I have seen WAY too many dogs lost because they slipped their collar or weren’t properly leashed. I know it’s selfish, but I am tired of crying over someone’s dog who died because they slipped their collar and got hit by a car. If you have a dog that slips their collar, please consider getting a Martingale (and a harness wouldn’t be a bad idea either). Let’s keep them safe and in our control. I don’t want to read about another dead dog. I’m sure you don’t either.

If you are looking for some great Martingale collars, check out Pink Puppy Designs. They are colorful and fun and safe.

Also check out Classic Hound! They have some really stylish and cool collars for your hound, like the one pictured below. Seriously cool stuff!

Martingale collar

Do you have one-on-one time with your dog?

February 20, 2013 21 comments
Daisy playing Chess

Daisy playing Chess

This past weekend my friend Emily posted a picture of her and her dog, Lilly, on a special outing together. It was their girls day out.

It brought back a lot of happy memories of my outings with Daisy. Back when I was a pet sitter, she used to ride with me on some of my pet visits. I would also take her on special outings to get some ice cream (that’s probably how she got to be 75 lbs back then!). I would buy one ice cream cone for me and one for her. Then, we would go sit in a park and watch the world go by as we enjoyed our cones and each others company.

Seeing Emily’s picture reminded me how long it has been since we’ve done something like that. Now that I have three dogs, it can be hard to get that one-on-one time with any one of them. But last night I had the opportunity to enjoy some one-on-one time with each of my dogs and it felt really good, especially with Daisy.

Since it was so cold out, I decided to switch things up a bit and bring out our doggie puzzle from Trixie and let each of the dogs have their own chance to play with it. The game is called Chess and it comes with 4 yellow cups and a board with sliding squares. Under the squares are little holes in which you can place treats. The squares also have holes in them so you can place treats in them and cover them with the cups. It requires a dog to really use their brain to figure out how to get to the treats.

I decided Daisy would be first. I set up a baby gate so Jasper and Cupcake were on one side and Daisy and I on the other. Then, I placed the game (loaded with tiny pieces of pork) on the floor. Daisy was very nervous at first, not having really played with the puzzle much before, but she was also very intrigued by the smells coming from it.  Since she was nervous about what to do, I sat down on the floor near her. I placed the game in front of her, but she still seemed unsure, so I showed her some of the hidden pieces of pork and then covered them up again.

She tentatively reached out with her nose to smell one yellow cup. Then she nudged it a little. The cup started to topple over. She jumped. She went back again and nudged the cup aside and grabbed the piece of meat. It took time, but eventually, with my encouragement and revealing the treats to her from time to time, she eventually started to figure it out. And with each successive find, she became more confident.

It was so rewarding to sit next to her and work the puzzle together. We worked as a team and had so much fun in doing so.

Cupcake is a pro at Chess

Cupcake is a pro at Chess

After each round, we would just sit there and hang out, I would give her belly rubs and kisses, and she would give me nose bumps and pleading looks for more of the same. It was a very special evening. I can’t remember how many times we did this, but I think it was at least five. I think she loved our time together as much as she loved getting the treats

Afterwards, Jasper and Cupcake got their special time alone with me and we did the same thing. They seemed to enjoy it just as much as Daisy.

Having this special time together with each of my dogs makes me think that I need to do this kind of thing more often. Maybe each dog should have their special day.

What do you think? Do you have special days with your dog? If you have more than one dog, do you take time out to spend it with just one dog at a time? I would love to hear what you have to say.

Jasper loves Chess

Jasper loves Chess

An Open Letter to Petsmart

December 12, 2012 32 comments

PugDear Petsmart

I am writing to you to express my deep disappointment in your company and, in my opinion, it’s clear lack of responsibility and concern for its customers and their pets.

On November 18th, I entered one of your stores with the sole purpose of purchasing some cat food and cat litter for my cat.

As I entered the store, I immediately noticed a colorful display featuring Christmas colors and decorations featuring chicken jerky treats made by Nestle-Purina. The bin containing the treats was huge (approximately 4′ x 4′ x4′) and had large signs posted all over it announcing a sale on the large bags of treats.  It was conveniently located right behind the cash registers where people were bound to see it.

I am guessing that many an unsuspecting dog owner has been waiting in line and seen that conveniently placed large bin of treats and made a last-minute purchase for their pet, thinking it would be a nice “special’ treat to give them. Little did they know that in doing so they could be placing their pet’s life in danger. But, you did know, didn’t you?

I am embarrassed to say that I went ahead and got my cat supplies, instead of leaving immediately, and stood in line at the cash register, continuously looking at that bin of chicken jerky treats with disgust and disappointment.

I was so upset I even mentioned it to the cashier, telling her how disappointed I was that Petsmart was promoting a product that had been linked to so many dog illnesses and deaths. What she told me next was either a bald-faced lie or something she made up on her own. She said that the dogs who had gotten sick had only gotten sick because people were feeding them to their pets as meals and not treats. Seriously? Are you kidding me?

I was furious. I told her that she was wrong and that what she said wasn’t true. She didn’t respond any further, but I left your store absolutely fuming. What the hell???

I was so mad that I then posted this on my Facebook page:

“Wow Petsmart. Is that what you’re telling people now? The dogs that died from Chicken Jerky treats died because the owners were feeding them as meals. Really? Nice that you have them in a big sales display by the registers too. On sale. Ugh!!!!!”

I expected to have some of my dog blogging friends to comment on my post, but imagine my surprise when one of my friends mentioned she had been told the very same thing about a month before by another Petsmart employee in another state!

Kind of a strange coincidence don’t you think Petsmart? It makes me wonder… Are you purposely lying to your customers so they will spend money in your store regardless of the danger these treats pose to their pets? Or, are you selling these treats because you have some sort of contract with their maker that you must fulfill? Neither answer is a very good one for your customers is it?  If they lose their pet, you still make money. If they lose their pet, the company making the treats still makes money too. But, is it worth losing a customer and their money?

Because you just lost me. You may choose to sell these products for the almighty dollar, but you will never see my dollars gracing your store again. You can choose to be honest with your customers and tell them the truth AND stop selling these treats, OR you can choose to put money before the pets you so actively claim to care about, but you can’t do both. I won’t support a company that tells its customers that the only dogs impacted by these treats were the ones who were fed it as “a meal.” You know it’s not true and so do I.

By the way…

That same day, another friend who also happens to be a pet sitter told me about a dog client who almost died after her client fed them to her dog. Luckily, my friend was aware of the dangers of these treats and alerted her client immediately. The dog spent a week in the care of university veterinarians and almost didn’t make it.

A week later, a friend contacted me because both her dogs were ill. They were throwing up, had diarrhea and were lethargic. My first thought was to ask her if she had given them any of these treats. She had. Imagine her horror at discovering the treats could have killed her cherished companions? Fortunately for her, her dogs recovered, but so many have not.

Signed,

Your former customer

For Pet Owners:

Canadian Video Exposes the Dangers of Chinese Chicken Jerky Treats (Dog Food Advisor)

Documents Related to Jerky Treats Investigation Released by FDA (PetSitUSA)

Nestle Purina: Recall Chicken Jerky Treats Made in China (Change.org)

FDA Reports 360 Dogs, 1 Cat Dead After Eating Chicken Jerky Treats (NBCBayArea.com)

Dogs Still Dying of Chinese Made Jerky Treats, Enough is Enough (Steve Dale, ChicagoNow)

FDA warns about US-made chicken jerky pet treats (NBCNews.com)

Two ways to win a Hartz® Angry Birds® dog toy for your dog

November 26, 2012 21 comments

And here are the winners of the Hartz Angry Birds Contest!
Maya Zaido
Samantha or Sam
Amber D
AmyOrvin

Congrats everyone! Just send an email to nodogaboutitblog@gmail.com with your address and I will send your pup an Angry Bird for the holidays!

Today, at No Dog About It blog we are introducing a contest to celebrate the announcement of the holiday-themed Hartz® Angry Birds® dog toys just in time for the holidays.

Hartz® has created 4 new holiday-themed dog toys (see pictures below) that they will be giving away on their Facebook page in the next few weeks. To kick things off, they have also given me four of the same birds to giveaway on my blog!

Doesn’t your dog want an Angry Birds® dog toy for the holidays?

There are two ways to win:

1.  Go to the Hartz Pets Facebook page and “Like” them so you can guess the location of each of the four Angry Birds®.

  • There are four unique holiday Angry Birds toys that will be shown in four different holiday locations. Throughout the next four weeks, the location of the birds will slowly be revealed.  How?
  • Each week (Monday-Sunday) a photo of one of the toys will be featured on Hartz’s Facebook page with only a small amount of the photo visible. As the week progresses, more and more of the photo will become visible and be fully revealed each Sunday.
  • You can submit your guesses on each toy’s location as many times as you want on the Facebook page and have the chance to win your own limited edition set of all four characters.

2.  Leave a comment below stating why you think your dog would like to receive a Hartz® Angry Birds® dog toy for the holidays.

  • The contest will run from now until midnight (12:00 AM Central Time), December 8, 2012.
  • One Angry Bird will be awarded to each of the four winners.
  • Winners will be selected at random using Random.org and will be notified via email.
  • Winners will have three days to claim their prize, or another winner will be drawn from the entry pool.
  • I will post the winner’s names on my blog on December 9, 2012.

Good luck everyone!

Don’t forget to check out the Hartz Holiday Gift Guide for more gift ideas for your pet!

Dogs – Cool Finds on Pinterest

November 11, 2012 25 comments

I don’t know about you, but I find Pinterest is very addictive. Once I start, I can’t stop. Suddenly, it’s hours later and I wonder what I did with my time!

I you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, you may want to, especially if you are a DIY type of person. You can get some great ideas from others. You can also find some pretty amazing dog stuff on Pinterest, including art, clothing, collars, tags, etc.

People even have their future dogs pinned on their pages!

I thought I it would be fun to share some of my more strange, interesting and cool finds with you. You can click on the picture to learn more about the product or to go purchase it.

So what have been your favorite finds on Pinterest?

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I love these dog bowls. They are removable and don’t take up a lot of space.

Pet Eatery Dog Food Bowls

Dog Sign

Okay, I admit it. I probably wouldn’t buy one myself, but it’s just quirky enough to be appealing.

Dog Lamp

I fell in love with this line of t-shirts some time ago. They carry quite a lot of breeds and the images are amazing. I’ve seen one in person, and they are just as beautiful as the images. Definitely getting one of these – well, two of these. One Lab and one Sheltie. :)

Dog T-Shirt

I think this is supposed to be a new concept in dog food packaging. It’s supposed to take up less space and more eco-conscious. Doesn’t fill up the landfills as fast.

Sausage Dog Food

A little out of my price range, but if I had the money you can bet I would buy one. I absolutely love this as an art piece.

Dog Blue Print Pictures

I’m not quite sure what to say about this product (having never tested it myself), but I have to wonder – is the hole big enough for Great Dane poop?

Dog Dung Vacuum

This one is for all my doggie friends who have dogs that won’t go out in the rain. Might be worth a try!

The Dogbrella

Oh yes, I absolutely HAD to include this one. It features Shelties!

Outdoor Dog Chaise Lounger

This is some luxury dog bed, but the story is a pretty cool one. It was designed by Swank Lighting as part of a fundraiser for the Dallas SPCA. Someone got a pretty cool dog bed!

Swank Lighting Dog Bed for SPCA

I just loved the look of this ring. it’s adorable. The best part? It’s only $10!

MINIATURE PUPPY DOG ANIMAL WRAP RING from DOTOLY

This isn’t something you can buy. I have no link to a page. But, it’s one of those things worth sharing.

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