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Posts from the ‘toys and enrichment’ Category

I’m Busy, You Win! [A Special Offer From Fit For A Pit]

Hiya! It’s been a while, huh?

Here’s the scoop: I’m juggling 2 bazillion projects this year (some of which you’ll be hearing about soon) and I’m so overwhelmed this summer that it’s a tiny miracle that I’m able to wrangle enough brain cells to write this at all.

Quick story: I donated blood the other week and during the rigorous interview to make sure I was safe to give up a pint of blood, I got so confused that the tech and I started joking that I was going to be turned away from donating because I was just too dumb. Really, my brain is that compromised from multitasking related-stress. Don’t worry. In the end they took me and my befuddled blood. And I enjoyed getting to lie down for a few minutes. Plus, free cookies! I highly recommend donating blood if you need a break from work.

Here’s the thing, stuff is only getting busier for the next two months, so despite the fact that I’m dying to write stuff here, I just CAN’T. Grad school, presentations for work, dog #2 in physical rehab (yep, it’s Boogie this time – more on that later), and a sorta secret project will do that to a gal.

These days I’m working at finding the positive – noticing the pear, if you will-  so I want to tell you what I CAN do:

Give you stuff!

 

That’s right. To celebrate my inability to write a substantial blog post, I’ve got a deal just for you! I’ve been feeling bad about not hanging out here with you guys, so I asked my friend Heather who own Fit For A Pit if she could hook y’all up with a deal. Heather, Champion of Generosity that she is, said “Hells Yeah I can do that!” and thus the DINOS discount was born.

 

fit for pit

This dog is super psyched that you’re getting a sweet deal.

 

Shop for anything your heart desires over at Fit For A Pit and:

Take $10 off any purchase of $20+ now through July 31st!*

All you have to do is use the coupon code: DINOS  

*Limit one per customer (because we don’t want to put Heather out of business)

 

Despite the name of her store, Fit For a Pit carries stuff that ALL dogs love. But if you do happen to have a blocky-headed, chesty, bull of a dog, they carry products that fit. My dog Birdie – not a pit bull – can’t fit into anything because she’s really busty (she got that from me), but that’s no problemo here!

Let’s do some window shopping together, before you head over to grab your discounted loot, ok? Here are just a few of my favorite products that Fit For a Pit carries:

 

The Flirt Pole (read my blog on them here):

 

flirt_pole_4__82304.1394318267.1280.1280

Dog Tees – that really fit:

fit for a pit tees

Goughnuts and other durable toys (read my blog on them here):

GoughNuts_01

 

Books from Patricia McConnell and Ken Foster (I like him):

good dog

And everyone’s favorite dog walking accessory Spray Shield! (I mention that one all the time):

spray-shield

 

There’s tons more cool, high quality stuff, like Doggles, backpacks, Chilly Dog sweaters, sunscreen, and even the Freedom No-Pull Harness. You can take $10 off on all of this stuff! Frankly the chance to get a flirt pole on the cheap or restock your Spray Shield at a discount is enough to head on over there and get clickin’, ammirite?

Heather carries just about everything I’ve been sharing with you all these years, so I’m genuinely happy to be connecting all of you to her store. You may be wondering, savvy consumers that you all are, is this an affiliate partnership? Why yes it is smarty! If you’re counting, I now have two affiliate partnerships: this one and Your End of the Lead.

When Heather started accepting affiliates, I asked to join her program. I want to shop from a small family business like Heather’s (instead of big anonymous drone-loving Amazon) when I can and I’m happier when I can link to small businesses here too. Heather has been involved in dog rescue for years and goes out of her way to support animal welfare groups, so I’m super proud to be working with her and supporting her business.

If you use the links in this blog to visit the store, I make a buck or two. But guess what, if you’re not into that, you can visit the store without using my links and you still get the $10 off with the DINOS code. Wheee!

Wait, a sec….now what was I talking about?  I believe that we will win! Where are my pants?

Oh yeah, you guys get $10 off this month. Say what?! That’s really generous of you Heather. Thanks pal!

 

But hold on, that’s not all. Next week come on back to look for a secret giveaway here on the blog. One of you is going to win one of my favorite new products…

Okay okay, you beat the secret giveaway right out of me: it’s a hands-free belt from Squishy Face. Next week I’ll share my experience testing the belt out on my dog walks and you can enter to win one!

See, life is good for you guys when I feel guilty about not writing anything new. My loss (of sanity) is your gain. Hip hip hooray!

 

DIY Wobble Board For Your Dog

Birdie is doing well these days (knock on all the wood) and she’s been fully mobile for a while, so our new goal is to rebuild muscle in her leg. In order to do that, she has to learn that’s it’s ok to use it again, since she’s been avoiding putting weight on it for so long. (Need to catch up? You can read about Birdie’s ACL tear and rehab here and here)

One way to do that is to use a Wobble Board. At physical therapy, our therapist had Birdie stand on one as we gently moved the board around. This forced Birdie to shift her weight to the atrophied leg and activated those weaker muscles as she balanced herself.

I don’t have any photos of Birdie on the board because my hands are always full – I’m holding her in place so she’s secure, but you can see a Wobble Board in action here.

We wanted to keep this up at home, but money is tight, so I couldn’t buy a new Wobble Board. Birdie’s therapist suggested I make my own.

I found a piece of kitchen counter top from the 1950’s (check out that mid-century metallic flecking) sitting around the house and it practically screamed “I wanna rock your dog’s world!”. Who am I to deny an old kitchen counter a new life as physical therapy equipment for my dog?

And so it was born: The Kitchen Counter Weeble Wobble. Also known as the DIY project for people who don’t want to measure much or cut anything.

This is how you can make something similar at your house:

1. Find a piece of counter top, a table top, or get some plywood. It should be big enough that your dog can stand on it with all four legs.

wobble board

2. Next you’ll need a softball, an approx. 4 inch screw, and a couple of washers. Find the center of the ball and with a drill, screw that, uh, screw through the ball and into the center of the board. We stuck a washer between the board and the ball for good measure.

board back

3. Now you’ll need something to act as tread for your dogs. I used rubbery shelf liners. You can also use adhesive stair treads/strips or any variety of gripping, non-skid tape. To get my drawer liners to stick, I used Gorilla Glue (with rubber gloves because I prefer my fingertips with the skin on them).

board supplies

4. After I laid down the tread, I smushed it down real good. If you’re wondering, that’s exactly how Bob Villa describes this step in “This Old Wobble Board.”  And then I let it dry overnight.

board front

5. Done! Wobble it Baby.

board pinterest

Note: this is a pretty steeply angled board. I hold Birdie while she’s on it so she doesn’t hurt herself launching off of it. You can learn how to make a real deal, cut your own pieces of wood, lower wobble board here so you can do more rehab exercises like these.

Don’t want to make one? You can buy a Wobble Board. Check out this one from Fit Paws.

Not sure if you need one of these bad boys in your life? Here’s a few ways your dogs might benefit from the Wobble Board:

1. They improve balance, mobility, and joint strength.

2. If your dog wants to impress all the other dogs at Pilates, they’ll need one of these to work their core.

3. They can help boost your dog’s confidence. Shy dogs can benefit from from tackling weird stuff like this. Start slow and reward generously. Next thing you know, your shy dog will be boldly asking the head cheerleader to Prom.

4. They can help get your dog ready for the Teeter Totter in agility. This is a good intro to all moving thingamajigs.

5. They increase body awareness which can be helpful for just about any dog. Working with the board helps them to become more aware of all four of their limbs. Or two limbs.

 

In other Birdie-Busts-a-Move news, her physical therapist got a brand new, state of the art space ship  hydrotherapy treadmill which we got to try out for the first time last month.

birdie treadmill 2

Birdie, who is as excited about swimming as I am about doing my taxes, did much better on the treadmill than in the pool. I think she liked that she could keep her head above water. She walked at a good pace for 10 minutes. The point? To rebuild that skinny leg!

birdie treadmill

Wobble On!



7 Wishes For Families With Dogs In Need Of Space

Ah, 2014. Here she comes! A new year always gets me thinking about what I want for myself in the coming months, but this year I thought: What do I want for all of YOU? For the most part, I’m wishing that you guys are happy, healthy, and discover a river of gold nugget speckled peanut butter running under your property.

But, if I ever do manage to trap a real life Genie, here’s a few other things I’d wish for DINOS families (and all the other dogs too):

1. A veterinarian that uses low-stress handling techniques and treats you and your dog with compassion. I wish this for all of us. Having a skilled, empathetic vet and vet tech that you trust to handle your dog is a huge. HUGE. Here are some leads on vets that might fit that bill.

Also, while we’re wishing, let’s ask for a vet practice with an amazing front desk staff that will make you feel like a movie star (instead of gargoyle with a troll dog) when you use the back door to get into the clinic.

2. That no one gives your dog Henrietta the Chicken. I wish that no one has to hear the sound this toy makes. It’s hysterical, but listening to Henrietta squawk for more than 45 seconds is considered a legal form of torture in at least a dozen countries. A couple of years ago, I worked in a pet store that sold these by the tub full and listened to children squeezing them. All. Day. Long. I sincerely apologize to everyone I ever gave this to as a gift (which is most of my dog walking clients).

henrietta

One squeeze of Henrietta can bring even the toughest man to his knees.


3. A vacation from your dogs. If you have a dog with behavior or medical issues then you’re probably working harder than you even realize to take care of them each day. I wish that all of you are able to take a day or seven off from caring for your dogs. Getting a little time away from your dogs (and allowing yourselves to enjoy it) can be restorative and help you hang in with them for the long haul.

Which leads to…

4. Someone you trust to pitch in. I wish that all of you are able to find a pet sitter, a boarding facility, or a friend that you can trust to help you care for your dog. Whether it’s a friend that can watch your dogs while you go away for a week or a dog walker that can provide some mid-day relief, my wish is that all of you eventually find someone you can lean on, so that you aren’t the only one who can care for your dogs.

5. At least one route to walk your dogs that is predictably safe. I wish that all of you find at least one dog walking route that you can enjoy without fear of being chased by loose dogs.  If you do find one, don’t worry about variety. Find and walk the safe route. You can spice up your dog’s life in other ways, like going Cosmic Bowling or taking a Zumba class together (or playing training games, going for group walks, and doing Noseworks).

Which leads to…

6. A magic belt to defend against rogue people and dogs. I wish all of you a set of gadgets, like the ones Data from Goonies had, that will keep loose dogs at a distance, block invasive people from petting your dogs, help you escape from a tight spot, and let you outwit Mama and her thieving sons so you get to One-Eyed Willy’s treasure first. Maybe this one is a stretch. But it’s my wish for you. You can’t stop me.

data

Respect my boundaries or you’ll get booty trapped.

7. Enough good times to counterbalance the challenges. Before January is over I want you to do this: List ten things you really love about your dog.

They can be big things:

He’s an award winning polka dance champion.

He’s totally house trained.

He never chases the cats.

He used to “debate” every dog he saw, but now he only starts rowdy philosophical discussions on Wednesdays.


Or small things:

He smells like cotton candy even when I forget to give him a bath for a year.

He sleeps in on the weekends.

He takes treats gently.

He does not have a Henrietta.

Or whatever it is that you love about your dog.

Now put this list in your drawer. The next time you have a terrible dog walk and you’re secretly thinking that it might be time to  “donate” your dog to charity: Read your list.


Ok, that’s my seven wishes, but I do have others, like: the ability to freeze time, a coat pocket that generates a never ending supply of stinky treats, and a magical dog park that only you know about. But until I find that Genie, I’ll just wish all of you happiness, health, and peanut butter gold riches in 2014!

I Was a Teenage Gap Girl

UPDATE: As of October 2013, Amazon has banned all residents of the state of Maine from their affiliate program. It’s a gigantic pissing match between a giant corporation and our state government over the “unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and Governor LePage…” (quote from Amazon). So the store still exists, but I no longer earn any commission on the products you purchase there. Fun times, right? Stay tuned for updates!

I want to warn you: This blog post is going to result in a shameless self promotion that may make me wealthy one day. And by wealthy, I mean not rich at all, but more like the kind of woman who owns multiple pairs of flip flops simultaneously, including a pair of “dress” flops. You should stop reading now if that makes you uncomfortable. No hard feelings. Promise.

Before we go any further: I have to tell you about working at the Gap when I was in high school. This was weird, because it was the 90’s and I didn’t look like I worked at the Gap. I dressed like a boy. A boy who alternated between farming (overalls and flannel shirts) and skating (huge jeans and ringer tees) and apprenticing at a funeral home (black, black, black, and Docs), while rapping on the side (puffy vests and Africa medallions – just kidding! I never wore a puffy vest).

But I was a teenager in New Jersey and that means the majority of the jobs available to me were at The Mall. When the Gap offered me five dollars an hour, how could I refuse?

So I worked at the Gap and I was a really, really good salesperson. I sold a lot of clothes because I told people not to buy stuff.

I always gave people my honest opinion about how they looked, which if you’ve ever worked a dressing room, you’ll know means I had to tell people they looked terrible a lot. For those of you who have never worked a dressing room, I’ll just say this: it’s never a bad idea to wear clothes in your actual size, not the size you wish you were or the size you were when you were three.

You might think that I got slapped a lot. Nope! People were tired of corny salesgirls telling them to “just cinch it!” and they appreciated my honesty. When I suggested different clothes, ones that looked good on them, people trusted my opinion.

I genuinely wanted everyone to look nice. Especially all the middle-aged ladies that were going on dates. I really wanted to help them because I thought they were super brave to be out there dating when they were so clearly vulnerable to breaking a hip. Looking back, these women were probably 26. But still. I wanted them to feel fierce (I can say “fierce” because it was the 90’s and RuPaul taught me everything I knew about being a woman).

 

All of my teenage fashion influences, in one photo. (source)

Almost all of my teenage fashion influences are in this photo. (source)


This radical honesty, combined with my drag queen-like dedication to empowering women to look their best, led to loyal customers and many sales. Occasionally, it also led to people not buying anything. This annoyed my managers.

Shockingly, I never got fired. Not even when I showed up to work dressed like Columbo (brown wool pants, crumpled white button down shirt, cigar in my pocket). I’d like to think that was because the corporate offices at the Gap were monitoring my new approach to sales: honesty, empathy, and relationship building. But it was probably because I left for college a few months later, before my managers could come up with a plan to fire me without triggering a law suit (discriminating against an employee for being a Peter Falk impersonator is serious business).

So all of this is to say: I’m not comfortable selling stuff just for the sake of the sale. I have to believe that it’s really looking good on you/making your life a little easier/getting you laid on your date tonight.

And the point of saying that is because: I wanted to tell you that I started an Amazon affiliate store filled with some of the stuff I mention here on my blog, as well as some of the stuff that you’ve told me is awesome, and I hope you’ll check it out some time. I thought it would be helpful to have some of the products I write about all in one place for easy browsing and linking.

 

Notes from a Dog Walker Store


Full (Monty) Disclosure: I earn a little advertising fee when you buy stuff in the store – it’s not so much that I can buy an Airstream, but it’s a little pocket change to go towards paying the bills. The less time I spend rolling pennies, the more time I have to write. Which, after reading this, you may or may not want me to do. (10/7/13: Not anymore. See update at the beginning of the blog).

I feel like I should say, just for the record: affiliates doesn’t change what I write about. I share stuff here that I think will be helpful and that I really like, whether or not it’s for sale in the store. Some of what I mention here is for sale in the store, some of it is for sale in other people’s stores, and some of it is being sold out of the back of a truck by that cousin of yours that no one mentions by name anymore. I like to spread the business around. 

No pressure to visit the store. I just felt like it was self-sabotaging to not even announce that I’d made one. So there:  I made a store

Phew!

p.s. It’s not your hips. No one looks good in a treat pouch. But, wear it anyway, because Supermodel, You Better Work.

Also, I know you want to watch this right now. I just did:





Nose Works: Where Every Dog Is a Winner (Even the Naughty Ones)

Boogie and I just wrapped up a four week Nose Works class. For those of you that are new to Nose Works, here’s what it is, straight from the founders themselves:

“Inspired by working detection dogs, K9 Nose Work is the fun search and scenting activity for virtually all dogs and people. This easy to learn activity and sport builds confidence and focus in many dogs, and provides a safe way to keep dogs fit and healthy through mental and physical exercise.

K9 Nose Work starts with getting your dog excited about using his nose to seek out a favorite toy or treat reward hidden in one of several boxes, expanding the game to entire rooms, exterior areas, and vehicles. As your dog grows more confident with his nose, target odors are introduced, and competition skills are taught.”

Now you know. You can also check out this Bark video to see dogs in action.

Unlike the Nose Works class I took with Birdie, where there were other dogs present in the room, this session was set up for reactive dogs. Each dog had the room all to themselves while they worked.

My camera’s died mid-class, so I only managed to grab a few not-so-great photos (none of Boogie – wah!)

truffle coached

That’s my gal pal Truffle. Her dad is helping her get to the treats she discovered in this closed box.


Now that I’ve taken two basic level Nose Works classes with two very different dogs (one senior, one reactive) and with two very different groups of dogs, I would like to share the following with all of you:

You should do Nose Works with your dogs.

Here’s why:

1. Just about any dog can do it.

2. Just about any human can do it.


Allow me to expand.

Your dog can do Nose Works, even if they are:

  • Ancient
  • Lacking manners
  • Oblivious to recall
  • Reactive
  • Dog aggressive
  • Scared of people
  • Afraid of novel objects or places
  • Recovering from an injury
  • Not that into food
  • Really into food
  • Terrible on leash
  • Bursting with energy
  • Overweight
  • Blind
  • Deaf
  • Missing a limb
  • Missing an eye
  • Missing teeth
  • Missing their favorite episode of New Girl

You can do Nose Works even if you are:

  • A terrible trainer
  • Out of shape
  • Out of cash
  • Uncoordinated
  • Kind of quiet
  • Working with dogs in a shelter
  • Not that into leaving the house
  • Not sure if you even like doing dog stuff

That’s because Nose Works is all about having fun, no skills necessary. 

 

birdie cone

Birdie hits the wrong end of the cone. No biggie. She’ll figure out that the food is hidden on the other side.


If you have a dog that you’re not able to do too much with – because of any of the reasons listed above – you can do Nose Works.

If you want to build a better bond with your dog, learn more about observing your dog’s body language, and enjoy watching dogs flex their natural abilities, you should check out Nose Works.

Here’s more about why this is the activity anyone can do:


For Nervous Nellie Dogs: Nose Works in a wonderful confidence builder for dogs that are afraid of novel objects and environments. Each week they’re slowly exposed to new things, can investigate at their own pace, and are rewarded for their bravery. Week one Boogie was afraid to put his head in the boxes. By week four Boogie was putting his head in cones, tunnels, bags, and anything else he could sniff around in. Like one of the normals!

For Reactive Dogs: This is an awesome way to let them cut loose in a safe, controlled environment. Those of us with reactive dogs are intimately familiar with feeling like failures. We show up for a class or a walk or a training session and our dogs lose their marbles and we go home stressed and sad. Not at Nose Works. Your dog will succeed at this. And honestly, I just can’t stress how important it is for reactive dog families to have successful, stress-free fun some times. It will bring some joy back into your relationship with your dog and give you a boost so you can face the tougher stuff together.

For Golden Oldies and Disabled Dogs: Nose Works is a way to try something new with your dogs that is physically low impact. They may be a little slower than the young whippersnappers in class, but it doesn’t matter because there’s no losing here. Birdie said it was almost as much fun as falling asleep in her recliner while listening to This American Life. She loved having a Girl’s Night Out with me and eating a lot of treats. Old and disabled dogs deserve to party too. YOLO, right?

For High Energy Dogs: This a great way to burn off that energy without exhausting yourself! It takes a lot of focus for the dogs to do Nose Works and they are tired at the end of class.  Also good if you have trouble finding safe places to exercise your dogs – try adding Nose Works to your toolbox to help tire your dogs out.

For Shelter Dogs: Because shelter dogs are bored and stressed and need to have mental stimulation in order to stay sane while they wait to be discovered by an adopter. Because even if you have very few resources, you can find a volunteer who will hide treats (in the Shelter Director’s office if need be) and cheer on a homeless dog for a minute. Because you don’t need any skills to help the dogs do this, so just go do it. 

For Broke Folks and Hermits:  Even if cash is tight, you hate leaving the house, and/or there’s no place to take a class in your area, you can still do Nose Works. All you need are treats and boxes. Here are some tips for playing at home and some more help. And here are some other ideas for different scent games. 

For People Who are Allergic to Dog Training: Here’s a little secret (just between you and me): I don’t like dog training. I’ll do it because I have to, but I don’t really enjoy it. I’d rather be at the library reading past issues of the New York Times Magazine. What can I say? I love dogs, I love playing with and walking them, but training makes me want to poke my eyes out. But I like Nose Works. Why? Because it’s an “obedience free zone” and your role, as the human part of the team, is to stand back and enjoy watching your dogs work. If they get stuck, you coach them using a happy voice and body movements. When the dogs discover the hide, you have a party to celebrate.  I like coaching. I like cheering on dogs. I like Nose Works.

I bet most of you will too.

So go on and have a little fun with your dogs now, even if you’re struggling with training or behavior issues. Do something you can’t fail at for once. Everyone gets a gold star in Nose Works!


Will you tell me about your experiences with Nose Works in the comments section? Plus, check out these stinky Nose-Work-worthy Tuna Fudge treats you can make at home.

And stay tuned for more on the professional version of Nose Works… In June I’ll introduce you to some Arson Dogs who use their noses to catch the bad guys!

Our Love Smells Like A Hot Tuna Melt

This past weekend we celebrated Birdie Day at our house. Five years ago we brought Birdie home to live with us (her full adoption story is coming…stay tuned!) and she’s been making our home a much funnier place ever since. Mostly because she farts really loud while watching us eat dinner. It never fails to make us laugh. We are a simple people.

Birdie is the world’s easiest dog to live with and has been since the day she arrived. Because she lived the first six years (that’s right YEARS) of her life at a shelter, Birdie gets to do whatever she wants. That’s the deal. If she had any issues, we’d certainly work with her on them, but she doesn’t, so we don’t. Birdie is polite, sweet, likes naps, and doesn’t poop in the house. My dream dog.

And now she’s 11 years old. So what do you give a silver fox(y) lady like Birdie on her 5th Gotcha Day and approximately 11th Bird-day?

Hot Tuna.

Thanks to our friend Teri who runs Canine Kinship here in Portland Maine, we happened to have the world’s stinkiest dog treat recipe on hand. It took just minutes to whip up these uber-smelly tuna treats.

Here are the deets:

Tuna Fudge

(2) 6 oz cans undrained tuna (or salmon or mackerel)

(2) eggs

1 and1/2 cups of flour

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Tuna Treats

Mix all that greatness together, then press it into a greased 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

tuna fudge

Let cool. Cut into strips, then dice. Makes approximately one ton of treats.  Give or take. Refrigerate or freeze treats.

tuna treats

Super easy, super cheap, super stinky. Birdie thought it was an excellent Birdie Day gift.

Especially because I let her lick the bowl.

birdie licks the bowl

These treats came in handy for the Nose Works class Birdie and I have been taking recently at Canine Kinship. It’s our Girl’s Night Out and Birdie thinks it’s thebestthingever since all she has to do is wander around smelling stuff and eating treats. Stinky treats like Tuna Fudge. What more could a Birdie Dog want?

birdie finds the treat tube

Our pal Nola is also in the class (read her blog here) and was gracious enough to sample our treats this week. Nola gave them a snarf of appreciation.

So there you go: two out two dogs in our class give these treats their drool of approval.

p.s. more on how awesome Nose Works is later. If you’re not doing it with your dogs yet – sign up. It’s a hoot.

Birdie w/the treats in Box

Well, that’s all for now kids. It’s just this one thing: I love this dog.

And our love smells like a hot tuna melt.

Thanks to Teri for the treat idea and to Nola’s mom Danielle for snapping some photos of Birdie working hard in class!

One Weekend in Maine…

We had a blizzard this weekend. How about you?

Three feet of snow in 24 hours + hurricane-force winds = six foot high snow drifts.

It was awesome. The dogs can tell it better than I can, so here’s Boogie and Birdie (and one snow ninja):

Day One: We dig out. Note: for perspective, the snow ninja is almost  6 and half feet tall.

Day One: We dig out. Note: for perspective, the snow ninja is almost 6 and half feet tall.

Boogie's first bathroom run during the blizzard

Boogie’s first bathroom run during the blizzard

Because of the winds, there were huge snow drifts and bare spots where the grass was showing.

Because of the winds, there were huge snow drifts and bare spots where the grass was showing. Boogie headed towards the nearest patch of grass.

Snow Face.

Snow Face.

Slow Motion Shake Down

Slow Motion Shake Down

Day Two: The sun comes out. Birdie smells the air.

Day Two: The sun comes out. Birdie smells the air. She is sad to report that it does not smell like peanut butter or pepperoni. She heads back to the house.

Boogie channels his inner bunny rabbit to hop through the snow drifts.

Boogie channels his inner bunny rabbit to hop through the snow drifts.

Where's Boogie?

Boogie?

Spotted!

Spotted!

Birdie returns for a quick flight around the yard. Flap those ears Bird!

Super Bird Dog!

Did someone call for a Super Bird?

That's my girl!

That’s my girl.

Boogie digs digging

Boogie digs…digging

Boogie dives in!

Boogie gets ready to go in face first.

But what he really wants is to play catch. Here's Boogie waiting for me to throw some snow.

The only thing he loves more than digging is playing catch. Here’s Boogie waiting for me to throw some snow.

Eye on the prize.

Eye on the prize.

boogie jumping

Going for it.

YES!

YES!

And then it was time to go inside and warm up...

…and then it was time to go inside for a nap.

For me, playing with the dogs is the best part of snow days.  I hope that those of you who got stuck in the blizzard were  safe and able to have some fun too.

Wishing all of you a warm, play-filled week! 

That’s Cool Dog.

It’s really hot in Maine today, which means it’s scorching in the rest of the country. I’m worried that everyone south of New Hampshire is bursting into flames as I write this.

So for all of you with hot dogs out there, here’s a few ideas to keep them cool today (if you can’t smuggle them into a movie theater for an afternoon of popcorn and ice-cold air conditioning):

 

Kool Collar

Fill this collar with ice and keep your dog’s body temp down while you’re out in the sun or stuck  inside a stuffy apartment. Yes, you can wear one too.

KoolCollars_001

Hurtta Cooling Coat 

Soak this  coat in cold water, wring it out, then put it on your dog. Keeps them cool as the water evaporates and it protects them from the sun. RuffWear also makes a similar coat.

Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker

Keep your dog busy and cool for hours with this hunk o’ ice and toys.  Perfect for shelter dogs in outdoor kennels. You can also make one with stuff around the house. Learn how from Animal Farm Foundation here.

Kiddie Pool

Boogie learned how to swim in a lake last summer, but we can’t get to a lake most days. For M-F swims, I’m all about the kiddie pool. Low tech. High fun.

Other low-tech ideas:

Freeze chicken or beef broth in ice cube trays for a tasty, cold treat. Put a cold, wet bandanna around your dog’s neck. Put some green beans or sweet potato slices in the freezer for a frozen snack. Feed them dinner from a frozen Kong.  Read the Polar Express out loud to them.

What are some of your favorite ways to keep your dogs cool on hot summer days? Do tell!



Stuff Your Dogs Should Wear If…

I like to put stuff on dogs. I try to find real, legit reasons to put stuff on them, but sometimes, I just like to wrap dogs in towels and put their paws in my husband’s Doc Martins. So sue me. One of my favorite stuff-on-a-dog site is Trotterpup. Please enjoy it here.

All silliness aside, there are some really helpful things to put on your dogs.

So, in no particular order, here’s a list of  Stuff Your Dog Should Wear If…

They have a lot of energy: Backpack

If your dog is high energy and healthy enough to carry some weight, consider a backpack. Wearing a properly fitted backpack, loaded with a couple of soup cans (and by soup, I might mean beer), will help your uber energetic dog work twice as hard on the same stretch of terrain. That means you don’t have to work any harder, but your dog does. Nifty, eh? If you have one of those never, ever tired pups, the added weight will help them burn more steam and tire them out faster during your regular walks. Make sure to start off slow – introduce the backpack first, then add the weight gradually and top out at 25-30% of their body weight. Backpacks are also helpful: if your dog is calmer when they’re wearing their “working” gear, for turning your dog into a sherpa on hikes, and for carrying around litters of hitchhiking kittens.


They need a confidence boost: Thundershirt

thundershirt

If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms then a Thundershirt makes a lot of sense, no? But these slim-cut tops are also good for helping dogs feel more secure, which makes them helpful for some reactive, anxious, and fearful dogs. So don’t keep the shirt on hold for storms and fireworks, go on and bust it out for daily dog walks too. Thundershirts are also helpful: if your dog needs some help during vet visits, for dogs that need barf bags during car trips, and for creating a svelte silhouette for dogs who are self-conscious about their pooch.


They need skin protection: T-shirt

If your dog sunburns easily, try covering them with a t-shirt (in addition to dog sunscreen) to give them some extra skin protection. Or if your dog has environmental allergies, consider putting them in a t-shirt for their trips outside. When you go back inside, take off their t-shirt and you’re taking off the pollen or whatever else they’re allergic to with the shirt (wipe them down with a damp cloth too). If your dog is really itchy or has a skin infection, try putting them in a t-shirt to protect their skin from their teeth or nails. Healing skin needs air too, so be sure to take it off and let them be nudists on the regular. T-shirts are also helpful for: telling people to back off, covering up big nips on mama dogs, and hiding a bad hair day.


They are your co-pilot: Doggles

If your dog likes to hang their head out of your car window, Doggles will protect their eyes from flying debris. That pretty much sums it up. Doggles are also helpful for: dogs that ride in side cars, dogs that are blind and walk into things (it protect their eyeballs), and for any dog that likes attracting a lot of attention at stop lights.


They are scratching themselves raw: Baby Socks

If your dog has bad allergies and they’re scratching themselves to pieces, try covering their paws with baby socks. Allergies can take a really long time to sort out (both the cause and the solution) and dogs who are itchy will sometimes scratch their skin into ribbons, causing secondary skin infections. Try covering their paws with baby socks (size 0-3 months with sticky tread on the bottom usually works), then secure the socks to their ankles with no-stick vet tape. They’ll still scratch, but their covered nails won’t cause so much damage. Baby Socks are also helpful for: dogs that chew their paws, broken toe nails that are healing, and for dogs that can’t stop reenacting that scene from Risky Business.


They just had surgery: Pro Collars

pro collar

If you have a dog that is recovering from surgery, the vet may send you home with the plastic e-cone of shame, but most dogs can’t stand them. It messes with their peripheral vision, scrapes against things, and freaks them out in general. Plus, it’s cheap plastic that probably smells and feels yucky. If your dog will need to wear a cone for a bit, like after ACL surgery, buy a Pro Collar. It looks like a hemorrhoid cushion or a neck rest for travelling (are those the same things?) but it works. The best part is that your dogs can still see in every direction, they can pick up toys and food, and it’s comfy for them to rest their heads on while they sleep. For dogs that are afraid of a regular cone, this is much less scary. Pro Collars are also helpful for: dogs that have rashes they shouldn’t be licking, little dogs that squeeze through fences, and dogs with hemorrhoids who need a soft cushion to sit on.


They need to get adopted:  Tutu

Peaches the Pit Bull Photo Credit: Keith Kendrick

If  you have a foster dog or a shelter dog that isn’t getting a lot of interest from adopters, put a tutu on them and take them out on the town. Ridiculous though it may be, that dog is about to get more attention in one walk than it has in a month of “adopt me” vest outings. Be sure to bring business cards with your dog’s photo and info to hand out to anyone who stops to swoon over your pup. Yes, this is for boy dogs too (who cares about gender? this is about getting attention!). Tutus are also helpful for: dogs in parades, dogs doing humane education work with kids, and dogs that dream of starring in the Black Swan remake.

 

And that’s not all! There are muzzles, wigs, boots, sweaters, and plenty of other stuff dogs can wear.  I already feel a Stuff Dogs Should Wear If (Part 2) coming on…

What stuff does your dog wear? I want to see photos of them wearing their favorite stuff, so post photos over on the DINOS Facebook page for me to squeal at. Please?!

 

Meet the Kuzzle

Boogie isn’t a huge fan of going to the vet (we’ll save that story for another day). In order to make vet visits a little less stressful for everyone, I’ve been working on getting Boogie more comfortable wearing a muzzle, just in case he needs it. And while he already tolerates wearing his basket muzzle, I’d like for him to have a more positive association with it.

A few months ago I read about “muzzle-cicles” in Grisha Stewart’s BAT book (she has all kinds of great muzzle related advice – check it out) where she describes filling a basket muzzle with food, freezing it, and using it like a Kong.

I figured Boogie would enjoy sticking his snout into the basket to enjoy some crazy-good snacks and doing so just might help him fall in lust with his muzzle, bearer of frozen delights.

I thought I’d give that a try. Here’s how:

First, wrap the outside of the muzzle in plastic wrap to form a barrier, so the food doesn’t fall out of the sides. I was out of plastic wrap, so I used a piece of wax paper, then covered that in tin foil so I could smush it on there real good (highly technical, no?):

 

Then I filled it with apple slices at the bottom and a mixture of kibble and wet food. To guild the lily, I spread some peanut butter at the opening. And freeze!

Behold the Kuzzle. 

Or maybe it’s a Mong?  Either way, you’ve got yourself a frozen Muzzle/Kong type treat:

 

 

Boogie was wary of it at first, as he is with all novel objects. He licked the outside of the Kuzzle for a while, keeping his tush in the air, just in case he needed to make a quick escape from this odd duck.

 

Eventually, he settled down on his bed and enjoyed the Kuzzle in all its glory. After lying down and licking away, he stood back up to get some traction so he could score the last bits of food.

 

He ate it all, then tried to eat the Kuzzle itself.  So my advice is to carefully watch your dogs if you do give this a try. It’s a quick jump from frozen treat to new rubber chew toy.

I’m not sure if this will pay off in the long run, but I’m going to give it a try a few more times in the hopes that Boogie will get all wiggly at the sight of his new favorite treat dispenser.

By the way, Boogie is camera shy, so taking photos of him didn’t exactly help him feel comfortable. Next time, he’ll get to romance the Kuz in private – no paparazzi.

Update: Boogie loves his basket muzzle and wears it happily these days. Huzzah for the Kuzzle!



What about you guys? Anyone do some creative Kuzzling or muzzle tricks at their house?

Looking for muzzles, the BAT book, and more? Check out the Resources on the Dogs In Need of Space website!

 

kuzzle (1)

 

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