Monthly Archives: January 2014

Store Review – The Pet Beastro

It’s no secret I’m a huge geek when it comes to canine nutrition.  In fact, if I could find a great school for it, I’d look into becoming a certified canine nutritionist; I really love it that much!

I almost never purchase my dog food from a ‘big box’ retail store (think PetSmart, Petco, etc.).  Grocery stores (and stores like Target and Walmart) should be avoided like the plague for dog food (it’s questionable whether people food should be purchased at certain grocery chains as well).  That leaves the question on exactly where should you purchase your dog food?

I’m a huge proponent of smaller, independent owned stores or feed stores.  The reason is that these stores are going to carry better brands, offer a good variety of highly nutritious food and depending on store will offer staff who are extremely knowledgeable and can help you pick the right food for your dog.  I live in the metro Detroit area and places like K9 Specialty (although K9 does sell some of those ‘grocery’ brands) or Val’s have been good places to go).  However, neither of these really fed my need for a true specialty/alternative pet food store that focuses on nutrition.

At the Michigan Winter Classic dog show there was a vendor there selling dried salmon treats and it immediately caught my attention.  You see, Blizzard loves salmon.  He would do anything for a salmon treat and being able to purchase small freeze dried salmon bites for training was a great find!  When we started looking through the other various things they were selling I was blown away.  All natural, organically grown, no crazy preservatives products in treats and food.  It was like Christmas when I found out all these products could be found in a specialty pet food store within walking distance of my house.   Even if you don’t live in the metro-Detroit area it’s worth checking to see if you have a store like this near you.  If you don’t you can also order product online from them.  Since finding this store, I can’t stop raving about it.  I took my husband the next day and have since been bugging my mom to go (you hear that mom…you need to go!).  I love this place!

Introducing:  The Pet Beastro

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Now, before you run over there to start buying all your dog (or cat) food, you want to be aware of a few things.

  1. This is not your typical pet food store.
  2. This is an alternative pet food store.
  3. They carry fantastic products but most of them are things you’ve probably never seen at your normal pet store.
  4. This is a higher end store designed for those pet owners who are truly into their pet’s nutrition.
  5. Purchasing from here may not be cheap.

So, with that said,  you may be asking yourself why in the world would I recommend this place?  I actually have a number of good reasons:

  1. Buying higher quality dog food often means feeding less which could mean saving money in the long run.  (See my earlier post from 2011 about Dog Nutrition).
  2. You can purchase things here that you absolutely cannot purchase anywhere else.  They sell treats, dry food, canned food, milk, meat, supplements, oils and other natural remedies.
  3. The staff that works there are passionate and knowledgeable, ready to help with all your pets nutritional needs.  When I say knowledgeable I mean not only do they know about what you should feed for a wide variety of situations with your pets but they also know about the company you are purchasing from.
  4. You can purchase a wide variety of raw including fresh, frozen and dehydrated.
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No joke! You can talk with really knowledgeable people about feeding your pet.

You don’t have to think of The Pet Beastro as a place where you are going to go in, completely change your dog’s diet and start paying hundreds of bucks a month in dog food.  You could.  Don’t get me wrong.  They sell some amazing items and if I had a small dog I would completely change my diet to 100% raw.  The options they have for raw feeding blew me away.  I fed my dogs raw years ago and that meant going to the butcher and purchasing a ton of raw chicken, beef, goat, rabbit and fish (it also included going out and getting a stand alone freezer).  Today though, raw isn’t anywhere near as intimidating as it was back then.  You can now purchase pre-ground foods including mixes of various fish and meats as well as veggie and fruit mixes.  If you want to feed raw but don’t want to worry about getting the right nutritional content you can buy dehydrated raw mixes that contain the main vitamins, minerals and other good things for your dogs.  The only thing you need to do is re-hydrate and add your own meat and oil.   If that’s still too intimidating you can also buy bags of dehydrated all in one raw meals that just require you add water.

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All-in-one raw mixes. Just add water.

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Another all-in-one mix.

You might have noticed that the Oracle bag of dog food clearly says that it will last a little under 2 weeks for a 12-15lb dog.  The price of this type of food is around $61.  If you have a small dog you could do this.  However, Blizzard is close to 80lbs.  Let me do the math for you:

For around 2 weeks of food, I would roughly need to purchase 5 bags of this food.  That is $305 for a little under two weeks of food.  Feeding this for a month would set me back $610…and that’s each and every month.  Let me let that set in.  $610 each and every month to feed my dog.  That’s over $7,000 per year ($7,320 to be exact).

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love my dog.  I really do.  However, I just can’t justify spending that much money each month.  I’d gladly spend between $100 – $200 per month but $600?  Sorry… I love you Blizzard, but when you start eating better than me I am going to have problems.

Like I said, unless you own a small dog or are a self made millionaire don’t go into this type of store expecting to completely overhaul your dog to a raw diet.  However, they do sell a good variety of dry dog food that serves as an all-in-one as well.  The ingredients are all high end, the companies are not big box and the quality control is out of this world.  I would hazard to say that none of the dry dog food sold here has ever experienced a recall; yes, it’s that top notch.

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Dry dog food section. There’s another rack behind me. The cat dry food is on the other side.

In fact, I found a food that blows the Core Wellness I’ve fed in the past out of the water.  Acana dog food is made in Canada using locally sourced farmers and ingredients.  It is considered a biologically appropriate food for your dog.  From their site:

Biologically Appropriate™ ACANA represents a new class of foods that mirror the high and various inclusions of fresh, whole meats that dogs and cats would encounter in their natural environment – meats they are naturally evolved to eat.

Worlds away from conventional pet foods, Biologically Appropriate™ ACANA is rich in protein and low in carbohydrates and features an unmatched variety of poultry, meat and fish that are fresh, preservative-free and bursting with goodness that nourishes completely.

You just need to look at the ingredients to know it’s a great food, even without trademarked names.  This brand has a variety of dry dog foods that feature ingredients like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, lamb, duck, beef or bison.  They sell ‘trial’ or ‘tester’ sizes and I ended up purchasing two to try for Blizzard; Pacifica (salmon, flounder, herring with fruit and veggies)  and another sister brand (Orijen) called Six Fish (salmon, flounder, walleye, pike, whitefish, herring and fruit plus veggies).  I will review this food once Blizzard is transitioned over so expect more in the future.

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Testers/Trials of Acana and Orijen foods as well as a number of other brands.

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If you’re not ready to take the plunge into purchasing a different dry dog food The Pet Beastro is fantastic for you to supplement your current food of choice.  As I mentioned earlier they sell a ton of frozen meats including single ground, meat with bones, patties and mixed types of meat.  You could easily start adding in a bit to just boost up the protein they are getting daily.

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Wide variety of frozen meat ready to go. Just thaw and mix in with your dog’s food.

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Mixed and balanced meat patties.

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Mixed formulas.

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If raw frozen foods aren’t your thing you can always do a veggies supplement mix as well.  I started using one with Blizzard and he goes absolutely nutty over it.  The minute I put it in his bowl to re-hydrate he starts twirling circles in the kitchen.  The product is meant to be the base of a raw food diet (you would need to add meat and oil) but I find it a great addition to the food he already eats (This won’t be the case when I switch him to Acana fully as that is an all-in-one that won’t require additional supplement).

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Re-hydrated Veg Bowl.  I re-hydrate it first for 10 minutes with hot water.  Then I add his dry food, goat's milk and a few tablespoons of canned.

Re-hydrated Veg Bowl. I re-hydrate it first for 10 minutes with hot water. Then I add his dry food, goat’s milk and a few tablespoons of canned.

They also carry a very large variety of canned foods as well.  I’ve always used a little bit of canned in his food but love the variety they have here.  I can give Salmon, various types of tripe, coconut mixes and other things I haven’t even explored yet.

Canned food variety.

Canned food variety.

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Salmon Pate I purchased.  Blizzard loves just a very tablespoons mixed with his dry food.

Salmon Pate I purchased. Blizzard loves just a very tablespoons mixed with his dry food.

Mixed tripe.  Up next to try for Blizzard.

Mixed tripe. Up next to try for Blizzard.

One of the other things they sell that I absolutely love is goat’s milk.  You can buy it by the pint and give to your dog and cat with their dry food.  You don’t need a ton, just a bit and it’s a great supplement for them.  You can also purchase goat’s milk in dry packets so if you’re traveling you can take it with you.

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You can also purchase peanut butter made especially for your dog.  And let’s face it, what dog doesn’t like peanut butter?

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If you’re not ready to change your dog’s diet, this is still a store for you to pick up a great variety of treats for your dog!  With all the recalls lately, purchasing from a high caliber store like this would be worth the few extra bucks for the treats.

Salmon chewy training treats.  Small and soft.

Salmon chewy training treats. Small and soft.

Treats and More treats!

Treats and More treats!

Just an example of the type of treats you can purchase.  in addition to 'calming' treats you can buy treats formulated for working dogs, agility and performance and your couch potato!

Just an example of the type of treats you can purchase. In addition to ‘calming’ treats you can buy treats formulated for working dogs, agility and performance as well as your couch potato!

Overall, this place is fantastic.  You can walk in and talk with a pet specialist about any supplements or food changes you would like to make and they won’t steer you wrong.  As I pointed out there is a wide variety of ways for you to get great food, nutritionally packed and balance for your pet (they sell both dog and cat foods).  You can get everything from an all-in-one dehydrated raw food to an all-in-one dry dog food.  If you don’t want to take the plunge into raw you could use any of the raw mixes intended for a full food to supplement your dog’s diet by mixing it in with their current food.

I honestly can’t recommend this place enough.  I felt like a kid in a candy store the first time I went in.

Even the kids enjoy going there!

Even the kids enjoy going there!

The Pet Beastro is located on John R. Road between 12 and 11 mile roads in Madison Heights, MI.  If you aren’t close or want to learn more about them before going in, check out their website here:  The Pet Beastro.

If you go after reading this I’d love to hear what you thought!

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Filed under Nutrition

Michigan Winter Classic – Photos

As promised here are some of the photos I took at the Michigan Winter Classic held in Novi, MI last weekend.  No major reading today, just some eye candy!  Have an amazing weekend and keep your pets warm and cozy!

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Master’s Agility

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Male Berger Picards in the Misc. Class

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Female Berger Picards in Misc. class – Genevieve

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Borzoi waiting to head into the ring

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Borzois

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Antler treats from one of the vendors

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Dobbie’s first time on the treadmill. None of the dogs seemed to enjoy it much; probably has a fairly steep learning curve for them.

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Not only is crack safe to sell to dogs but it’s a great thing to advertise for!

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If you don’t want the real thing, here’s a super cute one that breathes!

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Border Collie duck herding

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Look at that intense Border Collie stare!

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The Border Collies herd the ducks up a ramp which has them go down a slide into a pool.

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The grand splendor of the show ring.

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Irish Setters

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English Setters

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The ‘Detroit Lion Dog’ a Golden Retriever. His tail was even shaved to look like a lion.

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My friend pointing out James Moses (aka Jimmy Moses) in the show catalog. She was REALLY excited to see him there!

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Oh… poor ‘Blue’. We only saw him once. Many of the dogs barked at this big blue furry thing. We have a theory as to why we only saw Blue once and it doesn’t end well.

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Colorful beaded show leads.

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Awesome hoodie! (front)

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Hoodie (back)

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Young Shepard

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This lady was rocking the moose purse.

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It’s a long day! I feel you buddy.

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AKC shows now allow what?

I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan Winter Classic this weekend in Novi, MI.  It’s been awhile since I’ve attended an AKC show but a little shocked at the direction the AKC is headed in.  It’s no big secret that they’ve been struggling the past few years as revenue has dropped significantly from less registrations and a drop in those who are showing and even attending.  I don’t want to focus on those reasons here; perhaps it’s a topic for another post.

As an example, The Detroit Kennel Club will not have their annual dog show at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI this year for the first time.  This benched show, in it’s heyday was an amazing collection of dogs, vendors, dog sports, educational presentations and a place to go and spend the day shopping, looking at dogs and watching everything from competitive sports such as agility, obedience, flyball and confirmation to demonstrations from K9 police dogs, search and rescue, to herding.  It was the dog show you attended every March in the area.   It was a long day for those of us showing (and I experienced it quite a few times) but ultimately was a fantastic event.  Unfortunately, entry prices started going up which led to a drop in entries; if you don’t have enough dogs for a major why bother?  Ticket sales inside the event also skyrocketed which led to less attendance.  More and more sponsoring and major vendors started pulling out.  I can remember when I was much younger, going to Cobo Hall and starting at one end and working your way to the other end just looking at the vendors and collecting free samples.  You’d get to the end and have multiple bags of things to take home for your dog.  Now, there are no brands and vendors who give out free samples.  Want a small ‘show special’ bag?  That’ll be five bucks for what we used to give out as a free sample.  It also took you 1/2 the day to get through all the vendors.  Recently, vendor quality went down and you started seeing less and less more niche vendors and a lot less vendors; I mean a lot less.  The reason for this was most likely due in part to the extremely high fees that they were charging for a vendor table.  Space ranged anywhere from 1k to 1.5k for a small area.  I know as I looked into potentially getting a table when I was baking treats for Thurston’s.  Then, the final stake through the heart came when agility was no longer showcased at the event.  The crowd loves watching agility and without it a non-repairable hole was created for the DKC at Cobo Hall.

Last year Cobo Hall was bleak.  Vast areas of empty space served as a reminder of what the show used to be.  It’s a vast combination of things that led to this point.  The DKC decided to not run the show this year.  Sad really; it was the one event you saved your money for and marked on your calendar each year.  DKC’s site (http://www.detroitkennelclub.com/) says that they are currently looking for another venue to potentially hold a show but they need to find sponsor’s.  Purina, which was one of their biggest sponsor’s 3 years ago and when they pulled out things went downhill.   I hope they do find a space and if they do I hope they have learned from their past mistakes.

That brings me back to the Midwest Winter Classic.  It had a decent amount of vendors for the size show it was.  It had agility, confirmation, obedience, and rally.  There were demonstrations such as herding, meet the dog, spend time with a handler and junior showmanship clinics.  The floor was bustling with dogs and people, both spectator and show attendee alike and that’s where my issue with what they did comes in.  Typically, at AKC shows only those showing or demonstrating are allowed to bring their dogs.  As a person who shows their dogs they tend to know the ‘rules’ of how you and your dog behave at these types of events.  This even however saw a change; spectators could also bring in their dogs.  Let me let that sink in a moment…  anyone, so long as they paid the $10 entry fee could bring their dog in.  AKC and the show sponsors encouraged this by providing open clinics, and an area called “My Dog Can Do That” where you could come in and try out some agility with the help of professional trainers.

According to their website:

Can I bring my dog to the show without an AKC registration?
Yes, if you would like to participate in the “My Dog Can Do That!” event. You may register at the AKC booth at the show. Participating dogs must be at least 6 months old and have proof of rabies vaccination. Please bring your dog on a buckle collar and 4 to 6 foot leash. No retractable leashes, prong collars, chain choke collars or head halters allowed.

However, no one was stopping them at the door.  You had to register at the table which meant you could easily come in, not register and simply walk around with your dog.  I saw a ton of dogs with prongs, chokers, retractable leashes and a few head halters.  You would think a show chairman would have seen this and questioned it.

I get why they are doing it.  If you can bring your dog you might be more likely to come.  More people coming means more people paying and that’s good for the pocket books.  Also, bringing more people in also means that they are getting exposure to what the AKC is and what they could potentially do by being a part of it.  All good things for them.  However, for those showing this provides a bit of an issue.  While some people have manners and common sense on how their dogs should behave in public with other people and dogs, many do not. As I mentioned,  I saw people come in with long retractable leads (can we banish those sometime soon?).  They often were not keeping a close eye on what their dogs were doing and they had a tendency to just go where they pleased.  Even those who had their dogs on a shorter leash still let them just go up to strange dogs to sniff.  Not all dogs wants to say ‘hi’ nor are all dogs going to take kindly to yours jumping in their face.

If AKC wants to allow spectators to bring in their dogs to these events there are better ways to do it.  For starters, they should require proof of vaccinations at the door, it’s small thing but it should just be done.  A great idea for additional revenue and keeping behavior under control is to only allow dogs with a CGC certificate to come in (I know…I know… we can discuss CGCs another time).  This not only encourages people to make sure they have dogs that behave but it opens up revenue for AKC and testing facilities.   Even better would be for AKC to or whichever kennel club is hosting the show to charge an additional fee for each pet being brought in.  Included with this fee is a small class that they MUST attend directly by the entrance.  In this class an instructor would go over behavioral rules, how to handle their dogs around other people and dogs, and just discuss common courtesy about the event and having your own dog there.  They would then check vaccine records and equipment.  Perhaps a quick ‘aggression’ check could be done as well to ensure the dogs belong out in public.  It doesn’t have to be a long session either; just enough to make sure everyone starts on the same page.  It would also give the Kennel Club and AKC a change to again talk about the merits of joining the club.

I doubt this will happen as at the end of the day AKC is a business and like any other business it needs to make money to stay alive.  I think however, there are better ways to go about it and still stay true to their mission.

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This sign was placed at the front entrance. A great start but they needed signs throughout. They also need to have signs at the back entrances about proper dog handling at these events.

On Thursday I’ll be posting some images from the show.  Make sure to check back then!

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Filed under Events, Rants

Using the Right Equipment – Walking

We all know that choosing the right equipment for any job, regardless of the job, is integral to getting that job not only done but done right.  You wouldn’t walk into a gym to work out if they only had boulders on sticks to work with (unless you were desperate…or maybe if it was the new fad but one would hope and recommend you do research before doing anything related to fads).  You want to use what’s going to work for the job at hand.  You can’t make a cake if all you have is a cookie sheet.  Well, you might be able to but it probably wouldn’t be what you had in mind.  Oddly enough out of pure curiosity I looked up ‘cookie sheet cake’ on Google and there are recipes.  You learn something everyday!    Likewise, when choosing the type of equipment for your dog you want to choose the right thing for the specific job.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about certain types of equipment for walking at night and walking in cold weather.  You can expect more posts on equipment since it’s so essential to owning a happy, healthy, well-trained dog.

This time, I wanted to focus on walking.  Nothing fancy, just walking with your dog.

Blizzard is 80lbs of almost pure muscle.  He loves walking.  He’s very… well…he’s exuberant about his walks to say the least.  It’s not enjoyable though for him or I when he’s constantly being told to take it ‘easy’ and being corrected for it.  It’s frustrating for me because it just feels like one endless exercise in trying to get him to stop pulling.  So I tried a few things before I found something I think will work:

First up was a choker.  Needless to say, he didn’t respond to that at all and just ended up endlessly choking himself in an effort to forge ahead.  I quickly scrapped that idea as it was doing more harm than good.

Second up, a pinch collar.  Good, fast reaction especially when combined with tons of treats and praise.  However, it turned our walks into more of an exercise in precision and while precision is great for other types of training I didn’t need to have a ‘precision walker’.

So…what was I going to do?!  I couldn’t stop walking and I wanted it to be enjoyable for both him and I.  After doing some research I decided to give a Head Halter a try.  The behavioral theory behind it seemed sound and it makes sense that if you can control the head you’ll control the rest of the dog.  Growing up I trained horses and the idea was extremely similar the way a halter and lead worked on horses.

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I purchased the Head Halter two weeks ago.  I have high hopes for it.  I am able to get Blizzard to wear it for short periods and very brief walks and he’s a different dog completely.  He’s happy, no pulling and we can do what we set out to do; just walk.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why just short walks?

The answer:  He absolutely hates the halter and will only wear it for short periods.  After having it on for a bit he fights tooth and nail to get it off.  He will get on both back feet and simultaneously pull at it with both front paws in a fight to get it off his nose.

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Dogs need to get used to wearing the halter. It’s different.  It’s new.  It’s not something they are going to wear or accept easily.  You have to train your dog to wear it.

My Advice:  Tons of mini sessions that are no more than 5 minutes at a time.  Tons of treat.  You want to make wearing the halter a pleasant experience and you can do so by association.  Put the halter on.  Be prepared to give tons of reassurance and praise.  Give treats.  Take it off.  Play ball or a special game for a reward.  Put the halter on.  Tons of praise and reassurance.  Take it off and feed them.  Put the halter on.  Tons of praise and reassurance.  Take it off and go for a walk.  Do this multiple times per day increasing the time you make them wear it once their tolerance starts to grow.  It’s going to take time so be patient.  Don’t expect to pick this piece of training equipment and have a newly reformed walker.  Like all training with dogs it is going to take training, time, patience and perseverance.  Even though Blizzard is still getting used to it this little piece of equipment will make a ton of difference when we go walking once he’s trained to wear it.  I can see it even with our short walks it makes a ton of difference.  He slows down (but not at heel position), keeps his nose off the ground and focuses on the task at hand.

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Crappy picture. Happy dog (for short periods of time at least)!

As we continue to train, I’ll keep you updated on the progress and provide video with some more tips and tricks!

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We’ve all been there…

Nothing serious today, just a fun chuckle!

Today was a fairly warm day (40s).  Since we got hit with the polar vortex we’ve been under a ton of snow and I haven’t had a chance to clean up the yard.  Between the rain and warm weather though all of that snow has had a chance to start melting.  So, today was the day… I went out and cleaned.  And omg…

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And that was only what I could get to where the snow was gone!  It’s going to be the ‘poop-pocalypse’ when it all melts!  Ha.  You dog folks out there know it’s true.

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Winter Walking

The cold weather doesn’t mean you have to stop walking your furry friend, but you do have to be cautious; not only for them but for you!

Below are some tips to keep you and your dog safe during these chilly times.  I’ve also include a few products you might find helpful!

1.  Bundle up with layers!  You need to stay warm but if you plan on doing vigorous walking you want to try to keep your sweating to a minimum while keeping warm.  I don’t normally post people products but I have a few absolutely fantastic products that I can’t do without for my winter walking!

  • My absolute favorite piece of winter head gear is a product made by a company called “Buff”.  They have quite a number of different products but I’m partial to the Wool and Polar Buffs.  They are extremely versatile and you can change how you wear it depending on what you’re doing and the conditions outside.  You can wear it as a scarf, a hat (in different variations), a headband, a mask, or a full coverage balaclava.  It’s soft on the skin, washable, and extremely warm.  It comes in a wide variety of colors and ranges in price between $20 – $30 depending on which Buff you buy (I have the Wool which ran around $29).  My favorite feature though has to be how versatile and lightweight it is!  I often wear mine with another hat for layering.
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It doesn’t look like much but it’s a warm, versatile amazing piece of head wear!

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Tons of ways to wear the Buff.

  • Buff also makes the same product for dogs with the added visibility of a 3M Scotchlite strip.  The material is breathable, quick drying, has moisture wicking, and technology for active odor control.  Again, it’s extremely versatile and can be worn and used on your dog in a number of different ways.  At $11.00 it’s an great investment for your dog.
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Keep your furry friend warm and safe in the Buff for dogs.

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Also offers a few ways for your dog to wear.

2.  Keep dry.  This goes both for you AND your pet.  If you get wet you’re more likely to get sick and develop hypothermia.  This will be a bigger issue when the weather starts to warm and the snow starts to melt.  Keep your dog out of the puddles!

  • Ruffwear sells a fantastic line of dog coats for all seasons.  Their Quinzee is a lightweight jacket to protect even in extreme weather.  It’s probably their heaviest winter piece but they also offer lighter options and even sell summer cooling jackets.
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The Quinzee, Ruffwear’s heaviest winter coat.

3.  Wipe their paws!  While you might not use any salt or de-icer (or use a pet friendly one) most people do not worry about what they’re putting down or how the chemicals will affect animals.  These melting agents can irritate paws well after your walk has concluded.  Be sure to wipe their paws immediately upon entering the house.  Even better is to be prepared and wipe the paws off before entering the house to ensure you leave the chemicals behind.

  • Another option is to purchase a set of ‘paw wear’.  I would recommend Ruffwear’s Polar Trex which has winter traction and insulation.  Your dog’s paws will stay warm and provides them a little extra help in moving on ice and snow.  At $89.95 for a set of 4, it’s an investment you’ll want to make only if you do a ton of outside walking or hiking in the winter.
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Polar Trex for warmth and traction.

4.  Do not… I repeat… do not under any circumstance allow your dog to drink water from sidewalks, roadways or puddles while you’re out no matter how clear they look.  Leaks from cars that contain anti-freeze is highly toxic and deadly to your pet.  You may not be able to see it’s there so best to wait for water until you’re home safe or carry your own water with you.

You can purchase the Buff, Polar Trex or Quinzee directly from the manufacturer’s site.  Buff is also available for purchase at REI (and potentially other outdoor stores).

Buff:  http://www.buffusa.com/sports/

Ruffwear:  http://www.ruffwear.com/

Happy Walking!!!

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All dressed up and ready to walk!

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Filed under Product Reviews

Night Time Walking

Walking Blizzard is something that’s really important and due to my schedule I need to do it either before work or after work.  Either way, it’s dark by the time I have an opportunity to walk him.  Like, really dark.  I have a black hat, black scarf, black coat and often wear black pants.  Not exactly the safest color to wear while walking.  

I could get reflective clothing and will eventually but with the holidays just walking up don’t have the money to outfit.  

I was at my most recent ‘hang out store’ awhile back (REI for those curious minds) and found a little product that has shed some light on the issue of night time walking (yes, yes, I just made a terrible pun).

Let me introduce you to ‘Spotlit” by Nite Ize.  It’s a powerful little LED light that attaches via a small carabiner to your dogs color or leash.  Easy on, easy off.  

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The light has two modes; steady and flashing.  It is water proof, light weight and has a battery life of roughly 20 hours with replaceable batteries.  I have the white LED but you can purchase it in a variety of different colors including a ‘disco’ color if you want to have a little fun on your night walks.  

At around 7 dollars, it’s extremely economical.  

Pros:

  1. The light is very bright.  I had considered purchasing a reflective collar for Blizzard but as my husband pointed out, any collar I’d put on him is lost in his fur.  If you have a short haired breed then a reflective collar might work well, but I needed something more.  
  2. It’s lightweight so even a small dog could comfortable handle this on their collar.
  3. The carabiner is easy to use so you can quickly take it on and off your dog.
  4. Inexpensive.
  5. Replaceable batteries.

Cons

  1. If you do a ton of walking at night each day you’ll be replacing batteries fairly often.
  2. To operate, you just push the light.  However, it is tough to push.  I can see how some folks might have a hard time operating it and certainly young children would struggle.
  3. Works better if you have a doubled ring color.  If I put it on a single ring collar it flips back with the leash and lights the back of the neck.  I want it to light the front so I recommend using a double ringed collar to keep it on the chest.

This is a mighty little light.  If you do night walking, hiking, camping or anything in which you want to add some visibility to your dog I highly recommend this device.  Plus, it turned Blizzard into “Iron Dog” so it gets extra cool points!

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As I said, you can get this at REI in store or online:  http://www.rei.com/product/811706/nite-ize-spotlit-led-carabiner-light

You can also go directly to the Nite Ize site:  http://www.niteize.com/product/SpotLit.asp

Happy Walking!

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2014 is a go!

Holy cow!  This blog has been dormant for over a year.  I enjoyed writing, researching and bringing news and opinions from the dog world to you but life as it so often does, got in the way!  We make time for what’s important though and dogs are important to me!  Time for me to make time for the important things in life.  I’m back though and plan to make at least two blog posts per week but in reality you can expect more!  

I also want to wish my fuzzy four footed friend a very happy 3rd birthday!  That’s right, my Blizzard is a New Year’s pup!  

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 Things to look forward to in the coming year:

  • Dog show reports and pictures!  
  • Tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your dog photography.
  • More treat recipes (although not as many as last time but they’ll be sprinkled in here and there).
  • Product reviews; I’ll be doing a ton with backpacking with your dog and hiking so look for those reviews coming up.
  • Take a training journey with Blizzard and I.  I am going to start obedience training him and plan to document the progress here.  
  • 4-H fun.  I am going to try and get back in and help out.  I love training dogs and education and what a better way to combine the two then giving back to an organization that helped turn me into the person I am today!
  • And so much more!!!

As always dear reader, I’m totally open to any suggestions or anything you’d like to see!  Let’s make 2014 a great year together!!!

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So, a warning.  It’s kinda sappy below… read if you wanna hear personal laments that aren’t at all dog related…I find starting off by clearing the air to be cathartic for me and you’re in no way required to read.

If you don’t want to read (and really, I wouldn’t blame you at all) I look forward to taking a journey through the year with our four legged, fuzzy friends!

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So, you’re still reading.  You brave soul.  This means you are either a close personal friend or just want to hear me wax poetic about some past misstep.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  It’s really more for me anyways so you can come back later for dog stuff and I won’t be hurt… I promise!

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I have a very demanding job; I travel a ton, work long hours and for awhile there let it absolutely consumer my life.  I was work, and work was my ‘everything’.  Without getting into too much detail, something happened early in December which was personally devastating (not health related and no one died) and I’m still trying to cope with it after a month. It haunts my dreams.  It haunts my sense of who I am.  It haunts my self-confidence.  I find myself fighting back tears most times.  It has seriously had a profound affect on my self personhood and identity and I think of myself as an utter and complete failure.  I don’t know that I’m ever really going to be a complete person after it but I can move on; I have to move on, not like I have much of a choice.  I think it was a combination of a lot of things but at the end of the day I have to own up to whose fault it was; it was mine and no one else and I have to take responsibility.

One very painful lesson that came out of what happened is that I let things that aren’t that important get in the way of things that are important.  I let work consume me and define me.  I literally worked 24-7 because it was something I felt needed to be done.  Don’t get me wrong, work is  important as it provides the means by which my family can survive but it doesn’t need to be every thing.  I think I lost site of who I was and what made me happy.  Work can sometimes make me happy…but on the whole it’s work.  I work for those rare moments when I get projects I truly am passionate about and really love.  They are few and far in-between but it keeps me going.  I had thought it was the job but after changing companies (twice) I realize it’s the industry, not the job.  My job right now at least affords me the ability to work at home and I love it.  I know now that the grass isn’t greener on the other side even if it seems to have more flowers.

So where does that leave me now?

Well, I consider myself a recovering workaholic.  My itch to check work email, even while on vacation is lessening.  I’m starting to win over fighting the urge to sneak away to do work stuff when I don’t need to.  Most importantly I’m learning to say ‘no’ and set boundaries.  It’s not going to be easy as I’m a bit of a perfectionist and strive full force into everything I do.  I managed, at some point, to transfer all my energy to my job, at the expense of a dream.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I gave up one for the other.  

I need to feel self-fulfilled.  My job gives me no real sense of that so I’ll find it in other ways!  My kids, dogs, photography and education are those things I love most and I’m going to make those a priority in my life!  I know this seems like your typical ‘New Year’s” resolution post and while it is New Year’s I can promise these thoughts have been months, if not years in the making.

So, if you’ve read this far, join me in taking time for what’s important in life.  There are things we must do and there are things we need to do but they aren’t always the same.  Take time for who you are.  Don’t get caught up in waiting for the perfect moment in life to start doing what you really want.  If you have a large goal, break it down and never lose sight of where you’re going.  Enjoy the moments you have.  Live in the now, not for tomorrow. 

Okay…that’s it.  Dog posts coming up.  Check back twice a week for new posts!  I plan on posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a steady.  I might sneak in a few things in between here and there depending on what’s going on but there will always be a new post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Happy New Year Friends!

 

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