Product Review: Benebone Chews

There are probably 20 Nylabones of all varieties scattered around my house and my three dogs love them.   Plastic chew-bones are my personal favorite for my pups (simply my preference!)  Not an evening goes by without their recreational chewing – sometimes in stereo!  When I saw a new type of long duration chewbone, I had to give it a try.

IMG_0038

Benebone sells a wishbone-style plastic chewbone in three different sizes: Jumbo, Regular or Mini.   You have your choice of flavors: Rotisserie Chicken, Bacon or Peanut Butter.  One thing was different straight off, the wishbone was curved rather than straight.   There are also little channels at each of the three ends.  Watching my dogs chew on the bones, they seem to be able to use both of these features to grip the bone more comfortably than other chewbones.   We approve of the design!

IMG_0026

For flavor we went with the bacon and peanut butter flavored wishbones.  I can’t comment on the taste, and my dogs aren’t saying anything!   I don’t smell the flavors but the dog have been committing a lot of time to our two wishbones…they seem to absolutely love them!

Durability gets a high rating from us after about three weeks of use.  This bone does not look like plastic, and at first glance I thought that it was edible and nearly passed it by.  Not the case!  I chose two Regular size Wishbones.  This was not too large for my corgi to enjoy, and is holding up nicely to my pitbull – who is a 60lb heavy chewer.  So, a good size range of dogs for the Regular.   For power chewers and larger dogs, the Jumbo size would probably be best both for durability and for size matching.  No chunks have broken off of the bones, not even any too-large plastic shavings or chips.  I still don’t recommend stepping on one in your bare feet, or rolling over on one in the bed in the middle of the night!

Benebone makes another shape of chewbone, the Rocking Dental Chew.   This comes in one size only, but is newly available in all three flavors.  The bone is curved and has ridges on either size for dental cleaning.  My dogs seem to prefer the Wishbone style chew to the Dental Chew however.  The Dental Chew definitely gets some attention, but not nearly the amount that the Wishbones get.

IMG_0028

Interested?  You can visit the Benebone website to learn more.  If you would like to buy some Benebones for your pup, you can order them on Amazon or Chewy – and the Benebone website states that they are available at some pet stores. (I have seen them at Pet Valu.)

(Benebone did not ask me to write this review.   My dogs simply enjoyed their product and wanted to share!)

Loot Pets Mystery Box Review

If you’re at all interested in comic books, video games, fantasy/sci-fi genres, and other, similar things, you’ve probably heard of Loot Crate. It’s a subscription master crate filled with random ‘nerdy’ items, delivered to your mailbox once a month. Crates each have a theme each month, and contents usually include a t-shirt, and a handful of other goodies, such as vinyl figurines, a pin, posters, trinkets, and baubles.

Not very long ago, the Loot Crate company announced another addition to their line up of mystery cates: A Loot Pets crate. Filled with nerdy things for your pet, this was something I had to try. I eagerly signed up, and waited for our first crate to arrive (incidentally, we decided to subscribe to the regular loot crate the same month, just to see what the fuss was about). The first month’s theme was “Galaxy” and I must admit, I was not disappointed.

IMG_3815

Included in the box was a dog t-shirt (which matched the Loot Crate shirt for that month- quite pleased that we decided to get the human crate, too, as my husband and Deirdre have matching shirts now, LOL). The shirt was an 8-bit ‘ugly christmas sweater’ design on it, being that this crate came out in December. A collar, which was a nice neoprene, was a Weyland-Yutani Corp motif (from the Alien franchise). The firefly food dish was a nice, heavy ceramic with a rubber non-skid bottom. Unfortunately, this was far too small for either of my dogs, but I’m quite happy with it as a place to put my watch, necklace, ring, etc. on the bathroom counter while getting ready for bed at night. Completing the crate was a bag of treats, and a nice golden collar tag that was shaped like a rocket ship and emblazoned with “Founding Pet” on it. The cute rocket tag matched the pin from the human Loot Crate for that month. The box itself has a pretty neat graphic printed all along the inside, and the box could be turned inside out to store things and display the artwork. All in all, I was quite impressed with it all, and instantly in love with the box. I decided to keep the subscription for the next month, which had a theme of “Invasion.”

The shirt collar was a little large for Deirdre, but the rest fit well.

The shirt collar was a little large for Deirdre, but the rest fit well.

 

A few months later, Tiki wore the shirt to protect her staples from bloat surgery!

A few months later, Tiki wore the shirt to protect her staples from bloat surgery!

The following month I eagerly opened the Pet Crate. Inside I found another dog t-shirt (which, again, matched the human crate shirt for that month), along with a space invader’s leash, a rubber battlestar galactica frisbee, some treats, and a silver bone tag. Again, the box had graphics on the inside that were displayed when the box was turned inside out.

Search and Rescue helmet not included

(Search and Rescue helmet not included)

The frisbee lasted about 3 minutes total, but Deirdre had quite fun ripping it into chunks while wearing her x-files shirt.

IMG_3962

RIP Frisbee

RIP Frisbee

 

The following month’s theme was “Dead” and that crate included a Deadpool shirt (which, you guessed it, matched the human crate’s shirt. It also said ‘Tacos,’ which is my husband’s favorite food, so the crate was quite well received around here). A squeaky, plush, Zombie head toy, two bags of treats, and a zombie collar tag charm rounded out this crate.

IMG_4224

The next month was “Versus” and I wasn’t disappointed. Included was another matching doggie shirt, along with a batman toy that, sadly, didn’t squeak, despite Tiki’s best efforts to MAKE it squeak. Deirdre was more than happy to rip it to shreds though, squeak or not.  Some plastic, collapsable ‘Captain America Civil War’ bowls, two bags of treats, and an Alien vs Predator dog tag charm rounded out the box.

20160328_203846

The next month was where the crates started to deviate from their usual format. The theme for the human crate that month was “Quest” and the pet crate was “Quest for Bacon.” Instead of a matching shirt, the pet’s shirt was entirely different, but that crate included a matching human shirt in it instead. From this crate forward, the shirts wouldn’t match the human crate shirts, but instead would also include a human shirt in the dog crate. Also included was a bag of treats, a “Battle Pug” comic book, a D20 dog tag charm, and- Tiki’s favorite thing ever- a stuffed bacon that was both crinkly AND squeaky. The bacon I’d seen for sale in a chain pet store before, but had never purchased it (thinking Tiki wouldn’t like the crinkly-ness. I was wrong).

fullFrom here I started to notice a dip in the quality of the crates. The following months’ crate included a dog and human matching t-shirt, a plain silver dog tag charm, a bag of treats, and a kong air dog dumbbell. The kong birddog was, again, something I could easily get in a petstore, and had before. Nothing about this particular crate felt really unique, instead the crate didn’t seem to fit to a theme so much as just a couple things thrown together. The inside of the box wasn’t unique or designed to go with the theme as the others were. But, I figured any company can have an off-month.

IMG_0791-e1464654017283-765x1024

The June crate was “Dystopia” (actually, dogtopia) and I noticed it wasn’t much different from the previous month. The same generic box interior instead of the uniquely decorated interior of most of the previous boxes greeted me when I opened it. Inside there was a bag of treats, a squeaky hamburger, a fire hydrant dog tag charm, and two t-shirts, one dog, one human.

Our stinker of a foster dog stole the bag of treats and ripped it open before I could get a picture, so instead you get a small pile of treats in the picture instead of the treat bag.

Our stinker of a foster dog stole the bag of treats and ripped it open before I could get a picture, so instead you get a small pile of treats in the picture instead of the treat bag.

For a second month in a row, I was a little disappointed. Instead of unique, fun boxes, it seemed I could expect a t-shirt, treats, and a cheap toy I could now generally find in a petstore in each box. The uniqueness and variety of the earlier months was gone. With a sad click, I cancelled my subscription, deciding to wait out a few months, see what happened with future crates, and if they seemed to turn around, I could resubscribe at a later date.

All in all, I enjoyed the crate until the last two months, and I liked the idea of a mystery crate in general. I know there a few other crate companies out there and have had thoughts of checking them out. If you subscribe to a different one, let me know which one and how you like it!

Online Class Review – “Foundation Weaves, Love Them and Flaunt Them”

My dog Molly hated weave poles in the game of dog agility.   Hated.  Whenever we saw them in training or competition, she blew by them as though they were invisible.   When I recalled her to me and helped her enter them, she would stress down, sniff, sneeze and shake her head – oozing stress.   And if she weaved any slower, she would be moving backwards.

I knew when I saw Julie Daniels’ “Foundation Weaves - Love Them and Flaunt Them” class on Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, that we needed to enroll.  Straight away, I liked that the class material was available for dogs at all levels.   Beginners, in-progress or retraining.  As the class progressed, this was very much true.  The teams enrolled in a working (Gold Level) spot with Julie were from all walks of their agility life and she guided every single one of them with skill.

I also liked how versatile Julie is with the equipment required.   A set of weaves is very spendy, even if you make your own.  The downside of an online classroom is that you need to have more equipment at home, or wherever you will be training.  However, Julie has a wide variety of inexpensive equipment options that teams working in this class can use.   That is a big plus for those on a tight budget!

Molly and I enrolled in a working spot and I was very upfront about our major “weave baggage”.  Not only did Molly have a dramatic stress reaction to the weave poles, so did I.  But the course material made weaves…fun!  Yes, fun!  If I haven’t made it clear yet, this class is very versatile and so are the course materials.  There are many different ways of training weave poles and Julie brings them together, blends them, adds things of her own and then helps teams choose which path will make them most successful.   I love that!   There is nothing I love more than seeing an instructor that can rise to the challenge of acknowledging that different dogs learn in different ways.

Julie brings a lot of enthusiasm and great energy to the class, she wants her students to be successful.   She loves the subject (weave poles!) and it shows in her interaction with her students!  You can’t help but feel happy about weave poles during this class!  The course was 6 weeks long and by the end of it, Molly and I had made significant progress in our attitude about weave poles as well as Molly’s general knowledge of what her job was.   I had a dog who was really loving the obstacle, for the first time in her career.  So if you want to teach weave poles, are struggling to teach weave poles, if you need to re-train weave poles, or if you are like me and hate weave poles with every ounce of your being – check out Julie’s class.  You are going to have a wonderful experience!  (Class information as well as session scheduling can be found here.)

Happy Weaver! credit - Rich Knecht Photography

Happy Weaver! credit – Rich Knecht Photography

Product Review: Vetri-Bladder Chews

Some time last year, Herbie started having accidents in the house. Considering that I can count on one hand the number of times that she had accidents in the house during house training, this was cause for alarm.

I immediately collected a urine sample and brought it in to work with me, assuming that we would find evidence of a UTI. As a white pit bull with a history of allergies, it wouldn’t have surprised me. 99% of the time, when Herbie experiences a problem (itchiness, hot spots, rashes) it can be remedied with Benadryl. With a UTI, antibiotics would have been the appropriate course of action, and I wasn’t about to start her on them without confirming the diagnosis first.

To my dismay, the results came back negative for bacteria. Whatever was going on was not a simple infection.

Herbie was spayed at a very young age before I got her. For a shelter puppy, it made sense, but having the procedure done early came with certain risks. When reducing her water intake before bed and taking her out more frequently didn’t work, I started to fear that she had developed spay incontinence. Herbie was four years old, and it was the most likely culprit.

I started to search for a daily supplement that would help with spay incontinence and that would potentially reduce the risk of UTI’s at the same time. I didn’t want Herbie on heavy duty medication, but I couldn’t have her peeing in the bed, in her crate, and on our carpets!

I wound up settling on the VetriSciene Vetri-Bladder bite sized dog chews, which were conveniently available through my favorite pet-supply website of all time, chewy.com.

 

The ingredients included Red Clover and Soy Protein, both of which are a good source of isofavones, compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen. Since estrogen is lacking in a spayed dog, I was hoping these ingredients would in fact help our problem.

At $22.50 for a 60 count bag, the chews came to about $0.38 per dose for Herbie. The label instructions call for one chew per day per 50 pounds, which is exactly what Herbie needs.

I was admittedly skeptical of the effects of an over the counter product that seemed to have plant-based ingredients, but the difference was immediate. I just give Herbie one chew with breakfast every day. She wags her tail when she hears the zipper open, and definitely thinks it’s a special treat I give her and not Julio.

The accidents stopped right away, and paying $20 every two months to save our upholstery has definitely been worth it. Of course, it means Herbie is a happier girl too. I felt terrible for her when she would pee in the house. Her eyes would get really big and she’d try to run in a panic away from her urine, which would only make things messier.

I do think Herbie has gained some weight since starting the chews, but she’s also almost five years old and isn’t getting as much exercise as she used to, so I’m not sure the two are related.

Disclaimer:
Of course, I am not a veterinarian and I cannot give you advice on what supplements or medications to give your dog for any medical condition, but if you are experiencing what may be spay incontinence in your female dog, and you are looking for a place to start, I do highly recommend the Vetri-Bladder chews.

Team Unruly is not being in any way sponsored or encouraged by chewy.com, VetriScience, or affiliate companies. This is a product I found on my own and paid for. This is an honest review arising from a need I had with my own dog!

Confessions of a Dog Gear Hoarder: Outfox Field Guards

10376853_782290925138023_2839286383840611876_n

In TU member Zak’s last post, she talked about how harmful foxtails can be for your dogs and the costly consquences of getting them embedded. Since I live in the Bay Area of California and we are going through an awful drought right now, foxtail season came early and they are everywhere. Most people here and in similar areas who regularly go out with their dogs in late spring and summer can tell you exactly how many hundreds of dollars they have spent at the vet for foxtail removal; it is not fun! Typically I don’t hike that much during the summer anyway, but foxtails can show up literally anywhere I take my dogs outside. We have encountered these horrible weed monsters in many areas of our daily lives including training fields, trial grounds, and public parks.

If foxtails get into the mouth, eyes, nose, or ears they can wreck a special kind of chaos resulting in pain, injury, and a possible vet trip. Last summer I purchased a pair of Outfox Field Guards for River and Owen. Essentially they are dog-head-shaped mesh covers to catch foxtails before they can make their way to the face. While they do only cover the head, that is also one of the most typical body areas that foxtails embed into without you noticing. Always make sure you do a full body check after walking in a foxtail area; paws are another “popular” body part for trouble.

First time wearing the guards. Not a big deal!

First time wearing the guards. Not a big deal!

Outfox Guards are super simple to put on: just slip the appropriately sized Outfox over the dog’s head, adjust the pull cord snug enough so it cannot slip off, and then velcro both loops to your dog’s collar. Most dogs (most!) don’t care at all that they are wearing one and go about their business as usual; they are able to freely pant, play with toys, and drink while wearing the Outfox. My best advice is to only put them on when you are already at the trailhead or park then go have fun immediately. When first using an Outfox with a new dog, I slip a small handful of treats into the guard every time it’s put on so there is an instant positive association with the equipment.

The pros for this product should be extremely obvious:

  • No more foxtails in your dog’s face! No more late nights freaking out that your dog started sneezing a few hours after your daily walk in the park and could have a foxtail traveling up their nasal cavity.
  • Easy to use and clean. Put on, go have a blast, remove, rinse with the hose and some soap after your dog rolls in the dirt/cow poop/random dead things, done!
  • Most dogs adjust to wearing the Outfox almost immediately. They can do almost all of their normal activities without any changes.
  • The guards are relatively inexpensive to purchase ($38-42) and are quality made to last.
Image from outfoxfordogs.com

Image from outfoxfordogs.com

Some potential cons:17

  • Some dogs, especially little Cattle Dogs that a certain someone lives with, will not like wearing the Outfox because it interferes with her cow poop eating adventures and will try to remove it a few times during a hike. That’s my girl! However, I have tried these on many dogs over the last couple years and it hasn’t been an issue with any of them. Owen doesn’t mind it one bit, and it’s typically only the first couple hikes that River tries to take it off then she is fine.

    Another potential con: if beekeepers scare you... well...

    Another potential con: if beekeepers scare you… well…

  • Outfox Guards make it difficult to quickly and easily deliver treats to your dog. What I typically do is mark the behavior then just shove food under the end so my dogs can lean down and eat it from the guard. Not incredibly speedy, but it works ok. Friends of mine have also cut a very small hole to push treats through and report that that works out fine too.
  • Smaller water bowls won’t work well while wearing the Outfox. Since the dog will need to push their mouth a little further to reach the water due to the guard, tiny bowls for hiking aren’t very useful. This solution is pretty simple; just bring along a larger one!

Overall, I highly recommend the Outfox Field Guards to help keep your dog (and wallet!) safe and pain-free during foxtail season. Visit their website to order one or look for local California stores who carry them.

Product Review: The Hurtta Jacket

Before moving to Germany in the middle of winter from sunny, always balmy South Florida, Deirdre was outfitted in a whole new wardrobe of cold weather gear. Being from Southeastern Guide Dogs, who breeds and trains guide dogs specifically for the warm southern climate (their puppy kennel is even un-air conditioned, to start the puppies acclimatization to the heat early) Deirdre has very short hair for a labrador, and no undercoat to speak of. Her hair is short and tight, like you would expect of a traditionally short coated breed, not like the thick double coated Labradors who routinely swim in the cold north Atlantic. She’d never been out of the state of Florida before moving to Germany, so ‘cold’ wasn’t in her puppy vocabulary, as winters in South Florida pretty much stay above the 70 degree mark.

One of our first purchases for Deirdre’s “winter collection” was made after the recommendation from fellow TU writer, Sarah. The Hurtta winter jacket. Hurtta is a company from Finland, and they definitely know how to make a warm winter doggy coat. This isn’t even their warmest one- they make some puffy down-alternative coats and body suits for dogs). I had seriously considered (and almost purchased) the Hurtta life jacket for Deirdre before ultimately buying the Ruffwear one she has in her collection for our beach and kayaking adventures, so I was familiar with the brand.

(stock photo from hurtta-collection.de)

The red color I wanted (stock photo from hurtta-collection.de)

I found they can be a bit difficult to find in the US if you’re on a short time schedule- I had 4 weeks notice to move and I was never able to find the jacket in the color I wanted (red)in the size I needed, so we settled for the grey/black (which was sold out in a good many places. I finally found it from the Sierra Trading Post). I carefully took Deirdre’s measurements, but she was on the cusp, so I ordered up. They are a bit on the pricey side, but well worth the ‘investment’ as this is by far the warmest dog coat I’ve seen. I hadn’t seen many dog jackets in this style (ruffwear being the only other jacket that comes close- with their belly flaps) but I discovered if you go to a petstore here in Gemrany- all the dog jackets are a variation on this style, instead of the ‘horse blanket’ style of dog jacket I see mostly in the U.S.

Hurtta is definitely the quality jacket brand compared to the pet store brands sold at Fressnapf (the German pet store chain). I found mine on sale, but prices seem to hover anywhere between $50 and $75 depending on where you find them at. In the US you can find them in red, black and blue; In Europe I’ve noticed they also come in Cranberry and an Olive Drab green/brown color.

The color I ended up ordering for Deirdre

The color I ended up ordering for Deirdre (stock photo from hurtta-collection.de)

A waterproof exterior and a thick fleece interior make up the body of the jacket. The belly flap buckles up over the back, making sure it stays put. The collar is high, and lined with a bit of faux fur, with a cord pull to keep it cinched tight. The sides of the jacket come down low, especially over the haunches, to keep body heat in. There are also two thin elastic straps on the back that are supposed to go underneath each back leg to keep the back of the jacket secure, but these seemed to annoy Deirdre more than anything, and tended to slide up into her nether regions, causing even more discomfort, so we ended up forgoing their use. The jacket stays put pretty well except when an errant German Shepherd grabs the tail end in her mouth and tries to yank it off Deirdre (Tiki doesn’t exactly play fair!).

Deirdre is wearing a ruffwear coat under the hurtta jacket, which is why more of her front legs are covered

Deirdre is wearing a ruffwear coat under the hurtta jacket, which is why more of her front legs are covered.

When I first received it, the neck cord was not cinched up, and at first I was afraid I’d ordered the jacket too large. I had to cinch up the neck cord as tightly as it would go, which made for a nice secure fit around Dierdre’s neck, and prevented cold air from getting down into the jacket. Once I had the neck good and tight, it fit her perfectly, although I do occasionally have to tighten the neck cord as it loosens after a vigorous running in the field. In addition to keeping her warm, the wide belly flap also keeps some of the dirt and mud off as the snow began to melt.

You can see the two elastic straps that go underneath in this picture. Deirdre wasn't a fan of those, and they were too loose to stop the jacket from really shifting anyway. When I tried making a small knot in them to tighten them up, they just creeped into Deirdre's nether regions, so we stopped using them.

You can see the two elastic straps that go underneath in this picture. Deirdre wasn’t a fan of those, and they were too loose to stop the jacket from really shifting anyway. When I tried making a small knot in them to tighten them up, they just creeped into Deirdre’s nether regions, so we stopped using them.

The neck cord had the added bonus of having a nice way to hang the jacket on a radiator to dry after coming back inside. All in all, it is a great jacket, well worth the price, and Deirdre was always warm while wearing it.

It even stays put when Deirdre accidentally face plants into the snow

It even stays put when Deirdre accidentally face plants into the snow

Product Review: The Harness Lead

In my non-professional opinion, the single hardest thing about having a three-legged dog is finding a workable harness.  My sweet girl Nellie has some trachea damage from the same crummy early life that rendered her a tripod, which means that if she puts even a little pressure on her neck, she starts to huff.  However, she is also a pretty impressive puller and and, bless her crazy little heart, is rarely dissuaded by the fact that if she pulls, she can’t, you know, breathe. I am not proud of this, but I am as lazy as hell about teaching loose leash walking (or, I should say, about being consistent with it), and as such, I’ve been looking for a good harness solution for Nellie pretty much since I got her.

And oh, have we tried a lot of harnesses. Note that Nellie absolutely doesn’t tolerate head halters (Gentle Leader/Halti style: I promise, I have tried), so we’ve been investigating body harnesses exclusively. My favorite of all of the ones we’ve tried has been the ComfortFlex, a harness that a lot of flyball people use. The front strap on the ComfortFlex is set a little lower than most harnesses, which means it tends to sit on Nellie’s chest instead of sliding up to the neck or down to the legs.

nellie in nantucket #2

However, because the design really relies on the dog having two front legs to keep it in place, the Comfortflex tended to slide around and get all cattywhampus when she ran. See how it’s kind of drifting down the side of her body in this picture?

she's such a swimmer now!

We also tried a mesh Puppia harness, which was comfortable for her and dried quickly when she got it wet, but slid around way worse than the Comfortflex, sometimes to the point where it would slip up around her neck and made her get chokey when she pulled.  Again, this is nothing against the product itself; I think it’s a good one, but it’s just not made for tripod dogs.  I included this picture primarily because it’s adorable, but see how it’s starting to drift up her back and over the place where her front leg is supposed to be?

Nellie in the flowersI love Easy Walk and Sense-ation harnesses for most dogs–we use them with a lot of my dogs at work–but they are even less appropriate than the other harnesses on this list for tripods, because they really rely on the front clip staying positioned between the dog’s front legs on the chest. If there’s no leg to hold the front clip in place, the harness completely ceases to function. In this picture, Lucy’s wearing an Easy Walk that has shifted around a little bit but still works; Nellie’s….does not.

DSC05911

And finally, there’s Ruffwear’s WebMaster harness, which is designed to be adaptable for tripods. I like this harness a lot, but it hasn’t been perfect for us; Nellie kind of falls between Ruffwear’s sizes, so ours is a touch big, and I also feel like it kind of restricts the natural movement in her one remaining shoulder (in fairness, this may be because we have an older version: it looks like the newer ones have been slimmed up a bit).

DSC02546

 

However, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think it’s possible I have solved our harness woes!  Behold, the Harness Lead!  This is not actually meant specifically for three legged dogs, but the amazing thing about it is that it works the same, regardless of how many front legs your dog has.
SONY DSC

Continue reading

The almighty Tuggo Ball!

Not too long ago at a Pet Expo, I came across a vendor selling a ball I’d never seen or heard of. The Tuggo Ball. The concept seemed simple, it was a hard plastic ball, hollow, with a plug, and a rope running through the center of it. They come in two sizes, a 7ion mini, and a 10 inch regular. The ball was constructed in such a way as to allow you to fill it with water or gravel to add weight to it. After a brief discussion with the two owners about Raiden, my 110 pound destructo-shepherd, I decided to purchase one of the 10 inch ones. The $25 expo price seemed reasonable, and Raiden is a ball loving dog, if nothing else. I was excited to get it home and see what he thought of it.

Tuggo-blue

Because of his size, I decided to fill it with water straight off, and after I capped the plug I pitched the sloshing ball out on the driveway for him. he immediately ran after it, barking his head off. He loves to play soccer with balls, and kicked them around, batting at them with his front paws and kicking it behind him. He immediately grabbed the rope and drug the ball around, and it offered a tiny bit of resistance to him filled with water. It bounced along the driveway and into the grass as he towed it along behind him, stopping to bark at it every so often.

Raiden decided playing with a bee was more fun.. for 1.3 seconds:

He had quite a bit of fun with it, until he tried to grab it. While this probably wouldn’t have been such a problem for most other dogs, at 110 pounds, Raiden has quite a large mouth. He likes to try and chew on things, and after many attempts at the ball, he was finally able to get purchase on it and chomped down hard… and popped it! He pierced it with two of his teeth, and instantly it sprouted two streams of water.

Slightly dejected it at the 30 minute lifespan, we hopped back into the car and drove back to the pet expo, where I showed them the punctured ball. They were quite surprised, and while they offered to refund my money, I didn’t want them to have to do that simply because my dog has an unusually large mouth. So instead they gave me a fresh one, and let me take the damaged one home as well. The damaged one I later turned into a tether ball for the same dog, and the fresh one I let Dierdre the yellow lab play with instead. She was unable to pop it, and loved the ball, dragging it all over the yard. After weeks of play time she finally managed to chew the rope off, but I was happy to see they sell replacement ropes on their website. With her small mouth, she’s been unable to inflict any serious damage upon the ball.

Tuggo Tetehrball. You can see the holes where Raiden punctured it.

Tuggo Tetherball. You can see the holes where Raiden punctured it.

Unfortunately one day we left it in the front yard when we let Raiden out of the back yard, and he instantly charge it, and chased it into the pond, where it floated 20 feet out into the middle of the pond. That was about 6 weeks ago, and we’ve so far been unable to retrieve the ball, so it currently floats around the center of the pond, where the lily pads prevent it from floating close enough to the edge for us to gab. We made an attempt at rescue with a 15 foot pool pole and net, but we were still at least 5-6 feet short, so until we can borrow a canoe… we have a pond ornament. The ball is holding up quite well floating in the pond and being exposed to the elements, however, so another plus for it!

All in all, it was a great toy, and I recommend it for all but the very largest of dogs. Extra large mouths and dogs 90+ pounds probably would be able to damage it too quickly to make it worth the money, but for small dogs, the mini works great, and for medium to largish dogs, the 10 inch ball is a great toy that can bring lot of fun and even some exercise if filled with sand, gravel, or water.

If you’d like to order one for yourself, the website is: http://www.tuggodogtoy.com

Confessions of a Dog Gear Hoarder: Ruffwear’s Front Range harness

OK, I admit it. I am a dog gear hoarder. It’s true. If anyone looked in my garage they would see enough canine related supplies to stock an entire boutique. And I don’t mean the cheap big box store stuff, either. I shop for quality made gear that will put up with all the hiking, swimming, off leash running, sports, and general madness that we participate in every week. I am also a sucker for good looking equipment; yes, all my dogs have color coordinating stuff! Every time a new and potentially interesting product comes out from one of my favorite companies, I will probably buy it for at least one of the dogs.

I’ve been a fan of dog gear company, Ruffwear, for years now due in large part to their outdoorsy gear that is also stylish. Since I always walk my dogs in harnesses for their well being, I’ve always been a little bummed that Ruffwear hasn’t made a lightweight everyday harness that I could quickly throw on my guys for neighborhood walks and park outings. I also like having a front clip option for River, who is a strong dog reactive dog that sometimes forgets how to walk politely. However, I will not use any products that restrict proper shoulder movement, which unfortunately happen to be most front clip brands on the market. My three dogs have had several harnesses each but none of them are even close to perfect.

photo
Enter the brand new Front Range harness from none other than Ruffwear! This thing seriously has it all: back AND front clip options, comfortable but lightweight padding, non-restrictive design, fully adjustable, and even two places for identification. (Also, it looks damn good on my dogs.)

Ruffwear_id

 

 

 

 

I love the ID pocket on top of the harness. It’s just a little velcro pouch to keep a tag in, but it’s a feature I’ve never seen before and I think it is brilliant! Now I don’t have to worry about my dog’s more expensive “tagline” tags getting lost on hikes, and they also don’t need to wear collars. On the inside of the chest plate padding, there is also a spot to write their name and phone number. Do note though that my 32-36lb dogs are both a size small; Ruffwear caters to typical outdoorsy medium-large dogs for the most part, unlike so many other companies. Just make sure you measure your dog before ordering!

Riv_harnessIf your dog is going to wear a harness while doing any actual exercise, it is most commonly recommended by sports vets to fit them in a product that will not restrict their natural strides. The Front Range has a large shoulder opening and fits high enough up on the neck that wearing the harness while running should not restrict any of their movements. Since my dogs often go off leash running and hiking while wearing their gear, this is extremely important to me!

Owen_harnessWhile the front hook attachment isn’t metal like most harnesses, it is still quite sturdy and works well. I have had the best results with using a double clip leash when I want the “no-pull” effects, rather than just attaching to the front. This makes the chest piece slide back and forth a bit less while offering excellent control when needed.

I also love that Ruffwear made it a point not to have the nylon straps touching any potentially sensitive areas on the dog. The neckline and arm pit areas are both covered so there shouldn’t be any rubbing even on short coated dogs. I also really like that it’s easy to take on and off due to the double clips on the top of the harness. The buckles are also stationary, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the harness to fit your dog then having one of the buckles awkwardly sitting underneath a leg or something.

Owen_harness2All in all, I adore the new Front Range harnesses and have been using them almost daily since I received my order. The product hits all the right notes of functional yet still stylish and I’m sure will hold up well to all of River and Owen’s adventures. This dog gear hoarder is very happy – at least until the next cool product comes along!

 

 

 

 

The typical disclaimer: Ruffwear didn’t pay me to write this, I just really like their stuff! I did receive a discount on these harnesses as a professional dog trainer, but the opinions above are completely my own.

 

 

My Favorite Things: Four Black Paws

I have a problem. A big problem.

I am addicted to collars.

I was recently able to purge my collar collection, and I donated some to a local rescue, and I donated some to my dog club’s raffle in December. Of course, this means that I had to replenish my collection.

I have leather collars from Ella’s Lead (which has been mentioned on our blog several times, but our review of the collars is here), I have PetCo collars and collars from Target. If I like, I buy it and add it to my dogs’ collection. One of my favorites, though, and where I tend to dump a lot of my hard-earned money, are small businesses like Four Black Paws.

Four Black Paws is a Michigan-based small business run by Sarah, whose day job is as an elementary school teacher. She is a dog-mom to German Shorthaired Pointers, and just about one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. She truly is one of the small business types you want to support.

The first collar I got from her was your basic quick-release tag collar. I won it in a raffle and got it in anticipation of my new girly puppy, since all my dog collars were boy stuff. It was of good quality, and adorable, and the fabric was thick and durable – which is needed when you have pit bulls!

 

For the sake of this review, I ordered two martingale collars and 4BP’s signature items: a collar bow for girly dogs and a bow tie for boy dogs. Jax is a 4BP size large, and I got a large bowtie to go with his collar; Poppy is a 4PB size medium, and I got a medium flower to go with her collar. I placed the order the evening of Jan 23rd, and was thrilled to receive a shipped notice on Jan 29th. I received my package a few days later. It was that quick!

As with the first collar I purchased, these martingales are of great quality. The collars are thick and sturdy – and machine washable! – and the stitching is strong. 4BP uses quality hardware, and the whole collar is made to last. Which is a must for me and my rowdy pit bulls.

And the fabrics are just darn cute!

Handsome with his bow tie.

Jax’s collar is from the 4BP Celebrity Collection, in the color of “Grassy Meadow.” I upgraded to a martingale, because I prefer that style for my dogs, and added a large bow tie to make it fashionable. The bow itself is a easy take-off with velcro, and the collar is equally as handsome without the bow tie.

 

Very pretty with her bow!

Poppy’s was also a martingale, and in 4BP’s Sweet Summertime pattern – which is both girly and my longing t be done with this horrible Michigan winter we are having this year. I ordered a matching bow, which is super cute. Like the bow tie, it is also easily attached to the collar with velcro for simple dress-up-to-casual collar modes.

If you’re in the market for well-made, super cute collars, please go check out Four Black Paws. Owner Sarah has been kind enough to offer our readers a special 10% discount if you order by February 28th! Just use discount code TEAMUNRULY at check out!