Monday, December 30, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Finally the Final Day!


EverythingDogBlog #112: The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas - Final Day: Stuffables are Fun!
These are a few of my favorite things!
Stuffables
This is the last dog day of Christmas, the one I ‘forgot.’ (Actually I got carried away on a Wednesday with surfing and commitments.) You could call this the Eleventh Dog Day of Christmas but it is the December 18th post that I didn’t get around to posting. Here it is.
Stuffables! The best stuff for dogs.
Stuffables are hollow dog items, usually made of hard rubber, that you stuff with kibble mixed with peanut butter, mashed potatoes, squeeze cheese or cream cheese (low fat), or even chicken broth, then freeze. Voila! A long-lasting treat for Fido to have fun working on. For recipes, seeKONG. The KONG website also has helpful hints about size selection and more.
You can stuff a classic KONG
 a Premier Squirrel Dude or Chuckle or Waggle
 or Twist ‘n Treat (my favorite) or Football, many other dog stuffables made by other companies and, the poor man’s version – a marrow bone!

Stuffables usually don’t hold an entire meal. In addition, with applesauce, yogurt, cream cheese, canned pumpkin or dog food, they may hold a few more calories than plain kibble.
Be sure you get a sturdy stuffable or your dog will continue to chew it up once the goodies are gone, especially if you have frozen the stuffable.
Timesaver
I will stuff perhaps four stuffables at a time and put them in the freezer for the following four days’ of fun.
What’s the Difference – Stuffable, Treat Dispenser, Chew-up Toy, Food Puzzle?
What’s the difference between a stuffable (above), a treat dispenser, a chew-up toy and a food puzzle? I covered a couple of my favorite food puzzles in The Third Dog Day of Christmas. Basically there are compartments for kibble that the dog has to open to find the kibble or lick the kibble up.
The Premier Kibble Nibble, Magic Mushroom, and Tug A Jug fall into the whole-meal categories of food puzzles. The Kibble Nibble is good for hardwood floors because it is quieter than hard plastic. (See PremierPet.com and PetSafe.net.)
Nina Ottoson makes the original line of food puzzles in either wood or plastic and now, many other companies have followed suit so that food puzzles abound.
Chew-Ups
chew-up toy is not as common in the dog world but Premier/PetSafe created them and has easy and difficult ones. And easy one would be the Bouncy Bone, the Bristle Bone, the Teeter Treater, the Nobbly Nubbly, the Jack, the Funny Bone, and others while the newer ones like the Ultra’s by PetSafe whose rawhide rings last perhaps a half hour or more.
 Quite a challenge for the family pupster and one that he won’t give up on til he’s full and tuckered out.
Chew-up toys like the ones mentioned above must be refilled with only refills from the company rather than any food lying around the house. They may not be inexpensive so should be considered a real treat. In addition I have found the chew-ups to be able to be chewed by hard chewer dogs so that the parts no longer screw together. Wish they were made even harder!
To complete the Premier/PetSafe line, I have not found dogs to be able to get the biscuit out of the Biscuit Basket or GnawBrush, though they love the ‘biscuit-treat’ when I take it out and give it to them.
Treat Dispensers
The Biscuit Bouncer can hold a large Milk Bone type treat like Milk Bones, Ziggies or some rawhide sticks. Think of them as single-large-treat holders which can be quite the challenge. Others include Rip ‘n Tugs by Premier/PetSafe.
More KONGs
On the KONG side of the house you can see the wonderfulWobbler here in action and the Satellite, both food puzzles; the Genius and Quest, stuffables or treat dispensers (not everything fits into a neat category).
Happy New Year!
Now your dog, too, can have a stuffable new year!
(Credits: KONG and Premier's website [Premier is part of PetSafe]) This first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 29 December 2013.
CORRECTION: This is a Squirrel Dude by Premier, similar to a KONG.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Twelve


EverythingDogBlog #111 - The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas
Day Twelve: My Wish for You 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I wish you all a fresh white* and peaceful day with family, friends, and, most of all, with your furfriends. Give yourself and your best friend a very special gift today – the gift of time.
Today, take a walk away from the hustle and bustle and excitement (that’s what spouses are for!), and go for a nice long walk – just the two of you. Or maybe take along your teenager, but, no pressure. Take your cell phone as always, for safety, but put it on vibrate. Enjoy the company and the peaceful quiet. Carry on a conversation with Fido, or, in my case, with Pirate.
And, even better, do it again tomorrow and the day after and the day after that and the next day and . . . .
*and, if you have no snow, make a snowflake!
Tomorrow: (Maybe) The Day I Left Out - Stuffables
(This first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 25 December 2013.)

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Ten


EverythingDogBlog #110: The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas - Day Ten
A Kid's Book For Grown-ups That We All Need to Read
A Home for Dakota, by Jan Grover (Gryphon, 2008, 24 pages, $15.95, ages 5 and up, in the Sit! Stay! Read! series) 

A Story of Hope, Fulfilled
How I wish A Home for Dakota were written in 2013 so I could claim it as my book of the year!
Warm. Second chances. Delightful illustrations.
Dakota was honored with the ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Award, Fiction, Companion Animals, Children’s Book Honor and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Youth KIND Children’s Book Award (best children’s picture book of the year)
A Kid’s Book for Grown-Ups, That We All Need to Read
Before Dakota was Dakota, she was simply dog #241, a breeder-dog in a puppy mill whose puppies were taken away, time and again. Dog #241 lived in a crate all day, every day.
Until Emma
Emma took her and comforted her, gave her a name, bathed her, gave her medicine and her first-ever hug. Slowly Dakota’s fur started to grow back but in patches. And then a little girl came to meet her - but didn’t want her because Dakota wasn’t yet perfect.
How could such sadness happen twice to one little dog? What will become of her?
Gryphon Press, A Voice for the Voiceless
The Sit! Stay! Read! series of books for children by The Gryphon Press have garnered many awards since they began in 2006 - and deservedly so. The illustrations are water-color warm and touchable, the stories are sad yet hopeful, and they impart a powerful lesson for children and grown-ups alike. Lessons we may not want to hear but need to help with. Puppy-mill puppies, abandoned dogs, . . . .
Other titles in The Gryphon Press series include Buddy Unchained (2006), At the Dog Park with Sam and Lucy (2006), Max Talks to Me (2007) and Are You Ready For Me? (2007), as well as It’s Raining Pups and Dogs (2013). These books were recently named to the recommended reading list of the National Humane Education Society.
Each book also includes a fact page in the back for adults.
The Value of Dakota
I believe these books should be required reading for all first-graders.  They are difficult subjects, handled gently and with hope for change in the future – for all animals and people alike. For the dogs in the book, hope is turned into love and a future.
Maybe we can change the world after all!
Read more about it: http://www.thegryphonpress.com/
Tomorrow: The Best Darn Dog Day of Christmas
Disclaimer: I checked this book out of my public library. I wish they would get the other titles in the series: I think I will request them! This review first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 24 December 2013.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas: Day Nine - Toys, toys, toys (for dogs)

EverythingDogBlog #109: These are a few of my favorite things!

On the ninth day of Christmas, I recalled how amazed I am this past year over three specific dog toys, not all of which are new for 2013.


First is the new Bounzer from KONG. See the photo of Scooter inviting you to play with him and his big new Bounzer. The Bounzer is easy to toss, bounces erratically which dogs love, and is incredibly durable.
Although it comes in three sizes (small, medium and large – actually, medium, large and extra large), I really don’t think it matters which size you get.
The large Bounzer is loved by even little dogs because they can squeeze it and carry it by the ‘handle’ at the top. I wrote about the Bounzer in EverythingDogBlog in September. 

Another surprise to me is also from KONG – the Safestix.
Again available in three sizes (small, medium and large) and at least three colors (pink, blue and green), the Safestix is several toys in one. You can toss it a humungous distance for Fido to fetch. You can grab both ends (it’s bendable) and play tug with Rover and have a better chance of winning. And, it floats! Plus, if you have a dog who picks up sticks on a walk, the Safestix is safer. I purchased the medium which I thought would be too small for a lab, but it was the perfect size! Since Mia’s is green, I call it her greenstick.

And, finally, at less than $10 is the classic Hurley by West Paw Design, an eco-friendly company based in Bozeman, Montana.
West Paw has been around for so long and is so ubiquitous that people tend to gloss over its products and pass by. Don’t! They are a real bargain and dogs love the Hurley, especially. The Hurley is rather bone-shaped and fits a dog’s mouth just right. It is also dishwasher safe!

Does your dog play or chew? Here is a good webpage outlining the difference, along with the best ZogoFlex© toys for chewers and for players. Mia the Lab is both a player and a chewer and that’s OK, too! She has a Hurley to chew and a Bumi for playing.
Tomorrow: A Kid’s Book for Grown-ups - that we all need to read
Disclaimer: I have purchased many KONG products in the past, some at dog rescue auctions, and some from KONG booths at dog trainer conferences. I have also been sent products when I write for KONG. I received a West Paws product for writing a specific blog and have several West Paws items as well. (Photo credits: Lazyriver Photos, KONG, West Paw Design website) (This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 23 December 2013.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Eight


These are a few of my favorite things!

EverythingDogBlog #108: Day Eight - Don't forget to Gift Yourself.

On the eighth day of Christmas, I want to remind you to not forget to gift yourself this Christmas! Or give a lasting memory to a favorite friend or family member.  Give a work of whimsical dog art by Sara England, Sherry Kendall and/or Jenny McMurtrie. You may know them better as Sara England Designs, Wagging Tail Portraits and Wet Nose Greeting Cards, and My Dog Art. 


My friend Sara started out with whimsical black lab T-shirts which can still be seen all up and down the Eastern seaboard. After a few years, she branched off onto her own with a resort clothing store (now closed) and her own delightful dog prints. She does custom art of your dog and of all the breeds she can think of in each of her every-growing repertoire of artwork. Sandstone coasters, jewelry boxes, message boards (‘memo tiles’), magnets, suncatchers, necklaces, and more. Sara is devoted to a boxer and supports dog rescue from her home in Maryland. In addition, she has designed many conformation awards for different breeds across the country.

Wagging Tail Portraits are not only some of my favorite things but also some of Oprah Winfrey’s favorites of 2012 and 2011 as seen in her magazine, O. That’s two years in a row! Ornaments, prints, custom art work of your pet, glasses and mugs and much more, including Wet Nose Greeting Cards by Sherry Kendall’s daughter, Natalie, still in college. My friend Sherry, a golden retriever person, also supports dog rescue and lives in Maryland’s horse country. And it’s not too late – Wagging Tail Portraits has gift certificates for that last-minute gift.

Jenny McMurtrie’s My Dog Art business. . .
 . . . creates trophies for breed specialty shows, logos for clubs and designs for dog rescues, among others. Originally a golden retriever person who designed the logo for the Golden Retriever National for several years, Jenny, a full-time artist, has branched out into all breeds. Jenny’s work is on Etsy (JennysDogArt), Pinterest, Facebook, and more. You can even find a Jenny McMurtrie T-shirt. My Dog Art also provides gift certificates until Monday night.

Tomorrow: Toys, toys, toys

Disclaimer: I have purchased artwork by all three artists over the years. This article first appeared in ColumbiaPatch.com, 22 December 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas - Day Seven: Don't Grip It. Clip It!

EverythingDogBlog #107: Day Seven - The Bag Clipper is Not a Gadget. 

 
On the seventh day of Christmas, I recalled the many canine gadgets I have received for review. Some are like gadget-belts that store everything from baggies to keys to phones to treats and more, but you tend to forget them when you set out to walk Rover and there are many pockets to remember to refill. Or they just get in the way. Some are gadgets that clip on to the leash, temporarily or permanently, and just get in the way. Some clip on to your arm and just get in the way.

On the First Dog Day of Christmas, I wrote about a very small pouch that Velcro’s on to your dog’s collar and holds empty poop bags. The Bag Clipper hooks on to the leash with a small Velcro loop and though it can hold empty bags, it is perfect for full bags. I hook it onto the hand-loop end of the leash.

I love, love, love the Bag Clipper. It is simple, small, light and doesn’t get in the way.

The Bag Clipper is a small, plastic bone-shaped flat "thing" that holds a bag of poop. It is easily transferrable from leash to leash but inexpensive enough to purchase several.

The Bag Clipper attaches to any dog leash (but please don't use retractible leashes) and carries the waste for you, leaving your hands free to treat Fido (because he is such a good boy!) and to carry the leash.

Check it out! And remember: Don’t Grip It – Clip It!

Tomorrow: Don't forget to gift yourself. . . .

Disclaimer: I purchased the Bag Clipper years ago. The only Web address I found currently is on Amazon here – please be cautious in opening other Websites for this product. (This first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com earlier today.)

You may also like the stylish Port-A-Poo.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas - Day Six

These are a few of my favorite things!

EverythingDogBlog #106: Do you have a Soggy Doggy?


On the sixth day of Christmas, I contemplated what I might select for the Dog Product of the Year, 2013. It may very well be the same as the Dog Product of the Year, 2012 – the Soggy Doggy line of towels and mats which absorb five times the moisture that regular cotton towels and mats do. 
But I think it may very well be the new Soggy Doggy dog bed! You can even purchase the ‘cover’ for the 'nest' and fill it yourself with soft old towels and socks and sweats and . . . (that would keep me from sleeping on it, however).

Even the Soggy Doggy logo is so delightful that  I featured in a (Nearly) Wordless Wednesday - De-Lightful Dog Logo blog.
Maybe the Super Snoozer?
I think the Product of the Year, 2013, may very well be the new Soggy Doggy dog bed!
Now your dog can have his own soft-soft dog bed, a Super Snoozer, which may just be a slight but fantastic improvement over sleeping on the Soggy Doggy doormat, soft as that is! (I have been known to curl up on the doormat myself!)
There are also Soggy Doggy doormats for dogs to wipe off their wet, muddy and dirty paws.
There are Soggy Doggy slop mats (placemats) to place dog water bowls on, absorbing any spillage caused by your perfect pooch.
There are Soggy Doggy towels (shammies) with pockets for human hands that are simply miraculous water picker-uppers.
All Soggy Doggy products are made of microfiber chenille and come in various sizes and colors (blue, caramel, dark chocolate, beige with a contrasting bone design in oatmeal, red or brown - or, go boneless - for cat people, I suspect).
Now my dog sleeps all the time!

Tomorrow: The Bag Clipper, Not a Gadget
Disclaimer: I purchased my Soggy Doggy items for review and as gifts. Photos from the Soggy Doggy website.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Five

EverythingDogBlog #105: Day Five - Lovely Leashes

"These are a few of my favorite things!"


On the fifth dog day of Christmas, I came to the conclusion that every good dog needs a good collar to hang dog tags on and look spiffy in, a good leash for loose-leash walking safety, and maybe even a good collar-leash combination for everyday ease or emergencies! Here are my favorite leashes (I covered collars in two previous Dog Days).
Favorite Collars
See the Second and Fourth Dog Days of Christmas. . . .
The Leash I Love, by Planet Dog of Maine (Think Globally, Act Doggedly)
My favorite leash is very very comfortable. For me and I guess also for the dog I am walking at the time – at least she doesn’t complain on walks! 
From Planet Dog, this favorite leash of mine is a 5-foot red Eco-Friendly hemp leash with a fleece-lined handle. It has lasted so long that Planet Dog changed colors on me and no longer offers red! I love the current orange, though.
Planet Dog also offers the matching collar which was featured in the Day Four blog on The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas (“yesterday”). Both are quite durable since hemp is so strong – and eco-friendly to boot!
I love the fact that collar and leash are machine washable!
Best Collar-Leash Combo, by Rocket Dog of Vermont
My favorite combination collar-leash (convertible leash) is by Rocket Dog of Vermont. I first heard about this small New England company from a fellow dog trainer in a different state who swears by her Rocket leash, purchased many years ago. And since she is a dog trainer and owns a dog day camp, the leash really gets a workout!

The convertible slip/clip lead (leash) is unique in that it has a bolt snap as well as an O-ring, so it can be used either as a standard clip lead or clipped to the O-ring for use as a slip lead. In other words, it can be a regular, traditional leash or a slip-lead (it converts from one to the other) and is often used in shelters. It is also a good idea to keep one in your car for emergency purposes in case you come across a stray dog without a collar.
I am so impressed with the Rocket leashes that I spoke about them at a shelter discussion during the annual educational conference of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in October.
Braided polypropylene, Rocket Dog leashes are hand-made and hand-sewn (double-stitched) with leather bindings and solid brass clips. So many colors and color combinations, all striking and lovely, that you will want two, or three! I love the red/orange and orange/yellow but the black/tan would be a good choice if you have a Black and Tan (coonhound)! Made to last!
And, don’t forget, any color looks good on a black dog. (Just in case you are thinking of adopting a black dog from a shelter or rescue. Just do it!)
Rocket Dog offers woolly balls, bonker balls, couplers and different leash lengths as well as the flat and round Martingale and traditional combo leashes.
Not shown on the website but also available are the Martingale-type combo’s which I use.
Tomorrow: “Is Your Dog a Soggy Doggy?”
Disclaimer: I purchased these items for review. (Actually, I was sent the Rocket Dog leash for review and love it so much that I bought another!) (Photos courtesy of Planet Dog and Rocket Dog.) (This post first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 19 December 2013.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Four


NOTE: The Good Dog Company is offering a 20% discount through January with free shipping in December - see The Good Dog Company hemp collar in item #4 below. Just use the code: SKYEDOG. What a deal!
"These are a few of my favorite things!"
EverythingDogBlog #104: Day Four - Stylish and Comfy Canine Collars
On the fourth day of Christmas, I put new stylish and comfy collars (each for less than $20) on my favorite dogs.
1. For active dogs like Mia the Yellow Lab, a Comfort Flex collar (see lab photo which just happens to be a Yellow Lab, too, and the green collar) is marvelously stylish, as well as functional with reflective striping to easily be seen at night. I simply love ‘my’ ComfortFlex: it is lightweight, slightly padded, and quick-drying for swimmer dogs and snow dogs alike - so light you may not even have to take it off at night. Mia the Yelllow Lab wears a red limited-slip (Martingale) collar. 
2. SpiffyDog of Colorado (970-870-6164) has a similar lightweight collar. The award-winning Air Collar (see photo below in orange) sells for about 15$ (Spiffy Dog – “Different for a Reason”). Dog owners are thrilled that it is so soft and gets only more comfortable after a year of constant use - and does not retain odors (a great feature for winterdogs, waterdogs, muddogs – in other words, any lab, golden, border collie or your dog). 
Basically Spiffies are made of the same squishy-soft yet strong, porous (breathable), lightweight material as running shoes (looks like a polypropylene water-ski tow rope but much much softer). Touted as the world’s most comfortable collar, I heartedly agree. With matching leashes – natch! The spongy ‘cloth’ is oh, so comfortably strong and designed to be quick-drying, so your water-loving dog’s skin won’t chafe, get irritated, or remain stinky after a swim. A wide variety of colors and prints gives this comfy collar a stylish side, too.
It's "the cure for the common collar"!
Hemp is New
Fairly new to the canine collar world are hemp collars. Hemp comes in corduroy and canvas and is very durable since it is the world’s longest natural fiber.
3. Very comfy are the cozy hemp collars by Planet Dog of Maine (see the Eco-friendly collars photo). These eco-friendly collars for less than $20 are machine washable and naturally dyed as well as super strong. I like the durable quick-release buckle. As Planet Dog says, “It’s what you would wear if you were a dog.” A fleece lining ensures optimal comfort for Fido if he engages in rigorous salt-water swims, mud puddle baths, snowy romps or the occasional roll in the sand. (800-381-1516) 
4. We also tried the corduroy (from the French for ‘corde du roi’ – the king’s cord) collar from The Good Dog Company (“Earth-Friendly Goods for Your Best Friend!”) in Colorado.
The rust-colored collar (see the log of hemp collars) looks great on black labs and is soft, muted, washable and, of course, all natural. (Did you realize that corduroy is ridged velvet? Doesn’t your dog deserve velvet?) 
I wish I had picked up a matching soft corduroy leash while I was at it. Soft on the dogside of the collar, too, so it doesn‘t rub and create hotspots. Hemp corduroy is naturally hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial and odor-absorbent!
Hannah the lab loves to smell this collar and knew it was for her right away – she is one smart doggie, no?  Get yours atwww.thegooddogcompany or 866.433.6426.
Finally Preppy
5. For your preppy pupster, preppy ‘ribbon’ styles by Preston are available in 190 different patterns in 11 categories such as boating, dog breeds, and plaids (perhaps for a Scottie?) through New England’s Agatha and Louise. My Golden Retriever has the classy Golden Retriever classic (see photo). (800-775-9429). 

Just Do It!
PS - I have decided to photograph Hannah the black lab with each of her collars including these new ones – probably a dozen or more in all. That would make a pretty good calendar, don’t you think? I think I’ll call it ‘Hannah’s Year of Collars.’ She is a real fashion plate and, as you know, black dogs look good in any color. 
(Just in case you may be considering adopting a black dog from a shelter or rescue.) 
Just do it!
Tomorrow: Lovely Leashes
Disclaimer: I purchased these items for review. Photos courtesy of the companies mentioned.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Three

These are a few of my favorite things!
EverythingDogBlog #103: Day Three - Foraging for Food is Fun

On the third dog day of Christmas I decided to throw away my dog's dog food bowl and feed him creatively. I made dinner last longer so he will eat slower and not ‘wolf’ down his food. Foraging for food is fun for dogs (and funny to the folks watching).
I often wax poetic about the value of ‘alternatives to the dog food bowl,’ and I have over the years written about them, from handfeeding to treasure hunts to food puzzles. Dog trainers call this, enrichment.

The Buster Cube (above) is probably the original food puzzle – a hard plastic cube that holds kibble and dispenses it at various times when the cube is pushed around and over. It can be made more difficult for smart dogs.
Nina Ottoson (http://www.nina-ottosson.com/) then flew with the idea and came up with incredible puzzles of varying difficulties, first made of pressed board, then plastic. Dogs have to push little covers (or other things) to reveal pieces of kibble. The tornado, the casino, the brick, . . . .
2013 brought two new innovative food puzzles that I love – the Green and the Maze.
The Green, by Northmate – A Slow Feeder for the Puppy Within 

(Boxes of Greens for the Holidays!)
Believe it or not, the Green (photos courtesy of Northmate) is actually green (teal, green or dark green) and resembles hard, fat ‘blades’ of grass. Dog tongues reach down between the blades to scarf up pieces of kibble. It takes about 15 times longer to eat from a Green than from a dog food bowl! I even timed it! See illustration below for "How To Go Green."
Go Green!
Larger than a dinner plate, the Green also comes in a mini version for little dogs and a purple version called Catch for cats.
“Eat slow. Be healthy. Have fun.”
The Maze, a Food Puzzle 

(Above: The Buster Dog Maze) 
Also from Denmark, available in black, tan, or light gray, and larger than a dinner plate, the Maze is also one piece and looks like a maze (see third photo). Like the Green, dog tongues reach down to scarf up pieces of kibble, but, in addition, can push kibble in two directions off the maze to fall off onto the floor. I have found that most dogs love the Maze, as opposed to the Green which dogs either love or don't.
Click on some of the links above to watch videos of dogs in action.
Tomorrow: Comfy and Stylish Collars for Canines
Disclaimer: I purchased both of these interactive feeders at local independent dog stores: the Green at Clipper’s Canine CafĂ© in Savage Mill, MD, and the Maze at My Pet Store and More in Ellicott City, MD, near the "Enchanted Forest."
(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com, 16 December 2013.)

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day Two


These are a few of my favorite things!
EverythingDogBlog #102: Day Two - Safety Collars
A collar is a collar is a collar. Or is it?
On the second day of Christmas, I wondered why every collar is not a safety collar. They should come in all sizes, in all colors and designs, and in all materials, but especially in pink for Pit Bull Princesses!
When Collars Get Caught
The two safety collars that should be on all dogs (one at a time) are the KeepSafe©  and the PlaySafe. Let’s take the PlaySafe collar first.
Does your dog ever play with another dog?
Made by PremierPet.com, the PlaySafe DayCare collar (photo courtesy of Premier: Play Safe with a Playsafe Collar.)
is a totally new concept, designed to both be an instant control or restraint for your dog, as well as an emergency release.

The safety feature is intended for the typical dog daycare facility or dog park situation where dog collars can become tangled. Unlike quick-release buckles which can jam with increased tension, Velcro® closures allow instant release, even if a collar has twisted tightly around the dog’s neck during play. Plus, the PlaySafe collar features two release points (safety tabs), so it can be opened from either side, in case of an emergency.
It is intended for supervised play, however, since the Velcro© is easily released by a person but does not break away on its own.
Of course, you can always take off your dog’s collar when he plays with another dog in an enclosed area like a dog park or someone’s backyard. Just remember to put it back on!
This trainer highly recommends PlaySafe collars for dogs who play and want to stay safe.
Is your dog ever alone, unsupervised?
(I wrote about the KeepSafe Break-Away collar in EverythingDogBlog #61 on July 25, 2013, in a blog called “Does Your Dog Play Naked? Sleep Naked?”)
The most frequently reported accidents occur while two dogs are at play (for which a PlaySafe is the collar of choice – see above), or when a dog is near a fence, on a deck, inside a crate or kennel, inside or underneath a car, around heating or cooling vents, picnic tables, and branches or shrubs, twigs, sticks and briars. Lots of places!
If your dog has only one collar, let this be it!
Most dog owners are completely unaware of the risks and frequency of collar strangulation accidents until it’s too late. You can prevent needless strangulation injuries and deaths with the KeepSafe Break-Away Collar (photo courtesy of TMudge: Keep Safe with a KeepSafe Collar.), the only collar that has a patented safety buckle designed to release automatically when caught on something and, thus, protect dogs from strangulation or injury when alone. 
This is the collar that protects your dog when you can’t be there, by releasing when necessary. Originally called the Chinook Collar, it can also be securely attached to a leash at other times.
Get it at www.premierpet.com or directly from Tenney Mudge, the designer, on www.BreakAwayCollar.com. You’ll be glad you did!
Tomorrow: Foraging for Food is Fun!
Disclaimer: I was originally sent these collars for review a while back but have since purchased several for my clients.
(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 15 December 2013.)


The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas, Day One

These are a few of my favorite things!

EverythingDogBlog #101: Day One - Bags for Baggies

(Keep a stash of poop bags on your dog's collar!)

On the first day of Christmas, I thought of the many times I have walked my dog and all of a sudden realized that I didn’t have a plastic baggie with me. I was an accident not prepared for an accident! We either hightailed it back home or I had to ‘mark’ the spot where the deposit was made and return with a baggie.
No more!
Montana Precious Gold (Golden Retriever Rescue) has a great solution and for a great cause – dog rescue.
Montana Gold volunteers sew little 'bags for baggies' with Velcro© fasteners that attach to your dog’s collar (see first photo). They are big enough to hold five baggies but small enough that Fido won’t even know one is there.
The poop-bag holders come in many different colors and canine prints to coordinate with your dog's collars and at a price of less than five dollars, you can afford several. They make great little presents for all your best friends or, if you are a dog trainer, for end-of-course graduation gifts.
Check out their website for other great hand-sewn dog ideas, like the adorable dog scarves for family Christmas photos or handyshoulder bags with an easy-to-access outside compartment that dispenses dog bags so you don’t have to reach into the main compartment and search! Or hand and golf towels with fastastic designs. Montana Gold sews a huge inventory during the Montana winters, being homebound often in snowstorms. Make their day a little bit warmer!
Read more about it: http://www.mtgrr.com/index.html  
Montana Precious Gold Golden Retriever Rescue
Tomorrow: Day Two - Safety Collars!
Disclaimer: I purchased the Bag of Baggies for review. Photos courtesy of Montana Precious Gold.
Note: I plan to post a different 'day' each day for 12 days but some blogs take hours of writing and communicating with companies. In case I run out of time, I will continue with The Twelve Dog Days AFTER Christmas.
(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 14 December 2013.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: What the Dog Knows (dog, search dog)


What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs by Cat Warren (Simon & Schuster, 2013, 334 pages, $26.99) 

Good books. . . .

I have grown to generally love books either written by English professors or with a study guide. What the Dog Knows was written by an English professor. Therefore, doesn’t it follow that I would love this book, especially since the list of references is fantastic and I like reading the original peer-reviewed papers cited?

Riveting (in places)

I read with a highlighter and pen in hand, to highlight and to jot down notes in the margins. I also turn down page corners. One word I wrote early in the reading of What the Dog Knows is the word, riveting.

However, I changed my mind, but only slightly. Cat Warren (love that name for a dog book author!) does employ a riveting way of gaining the reader’s attention in each chapter by beginning with an anecdote about her own dog, Solo, a cadaver dog for whom “death is a tug toy.” Then the chapter usually goes on to educate the reader about the history of working dogs or details about their seemingly miraculous (to us) sense of smell.

Finally towards the end of the book, we read an entire chapter or two about Cat and Solo: those words are well worth waiting for. I only wish more of the book had this flavor of enticing writing.

Part non-fiction, part informational educational, part memoir (the best part), part history, . . . .

Did you know. . . . ? Dogs have been man’s helpers for centuries – for decades in war and police work. Other species have been tried and surpass the canine species in many aspects. Even machines have their advantages. But none is better overall than man’s best friend, even with his food needs and the fun they bring. Dogs think, sniff, raise an alarm (‘alert’), deter, and bite only when necessary. They are far and above, simply the best bomb detectors, for one. The can guard and serve as early-warning systems.

“Four-footed community police officers,” dogs are well-trained to intimidate more than injure. As a matter of fact there is only one case on record of a police K9 killing a suspect while pet dogs and strays killed 31 people in 2011 and tasers kill about 50 people a year.

If you are interested in forensic anthropology or criminal evidence, some of Warren’s prose will be a fascinating review on the decay of the human body under various conditions.

These details and much more will be revealed to you in only 334 pages! But, Warren also skillfully relates her story of leaning how to train a cadaver dog. However, I think a shorter, more organized book would get the ideas across succinctly.

I was particularly fascinated with the chapter on water recovery dogs but even after reading an entire chapter on the subject and being a dog trainer myself, I am not sure of the training necessary for the dog to be successful – or how long it might take. I feel the book spoke about working search dogs but never really got to the heart of the matter – sort of like taking a foreign language class in which the instructor talks about the foreign language but never really teaches it.

Overall, it took me too long to read this substantial tome: What the Dog Knows will satisfy many readers if they only read sections and never finish it (but the final chapter may be worth reading).

Reminiscent of Susannah Charleson’s Scent of the Missing, Cat’s book about dogs is a dichotomy of dry rambling facts and lively human-canine interactions.

What the Dog Knows may even change some lives. However, I hope Warren has more dog memoirs in her future for that is where her real talent lies.

See Catwarren.com for more, including photos of the author-dog team. 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher for possible review purposes via the GoodReads’ First Reads program.

PS – do you get the play on words in the title? It took me a long time, so don’t worry if it takes you a while.

PPS – lately I have been donating my review books to shelters and rescues but What the Dog Knows is one I will keep – to look up more of the references cited!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Stay, The True Story of Ten Dogs (dogs, circus, shelter dogs)


Stay, The True Story of Ten Dogs, by Michaela Muntean (Scholastic, 2012, 40 pages, $16.99, grades 3-5) 

Second Chances

"Sometimes a dog will show up when you need one the most. Sometimes a person will show up when a dog needs one most. Sometimes they will find each other at just the right moment. . . .

Luciano, like many of his ancestors before him, was a circus acrobat until one day he had an accident. . . .

But he loved the circus so much he stayed on and, finally, an idea came to him! Luciano needed a second chance and ten dogs needed a second chance. Stay is the photographic story of how their lives and futures intersected.

Ten Dogs?

Luciano found dog after dog – each, unwanted. Each had a behavior that didn’t fit in with their family and so they wound up at the pound. Luciano found a way to channel that behavior into a circus act.

He became a dog trainer over a span of two years by letting the dogs be dogs and observing those problem behaviors which could be turned into circus skills. “Perhaps everything depended on how you looked at it. Where others had seen headaches and problems, Luciano saw hope and possibilities, 'because inside each of us' . . .there awaits an endless parade of clowns.”

Each Dog is Special

Luciano uses only positive reinforcement in training his dogs, along with plenty of praise and treats. He observes his dogs and discovers what they love to do, then channels that into a circus act. With new dogs, Luciano is finding that dogs can learn by imitating other dogs.

If only more dog owners would do the same for their dogs, rather than ‘making’ their dogs do agility or freestyle or obedience.

But life can’t always be a circus either: on their days off, Luciano and the dogs spend time together, just chillin’. They are also bathed and groomed and spend one-on-one time with their best friend! After all, each dog is special.

Told in bright circus colors and real circus photographs, Stay will stay with you and your child.

For a 5-minute clip of Luciano and his pound puppies, click here.

Disclaimer: I checked this book out of my public library.