Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Shopping Guide

 Copley and his nearly 4 year old lupine collar

I know a lot of people post holiday shopping guides, but I have a lot of good ideas this year so I am going to post my list with the hopes it might help others with their shopping too!

Recommended Shopping (Stuff we have and love)-
  • Barkbox!  Barkbox is a really great gift for a new dog owner or anyone looking to learn about new products.  I have several reviews on my blog (here, here and here) and have been receiving it for a long time now myself.  Some months are better than others- but every month is worth it.   I always get my money's worth in a box.  For me though the real enjoying thing is discovering new products, there are some treats and toys that we have bough more of and many have become staples in our house.  Also if you use this link you will get $5 off your first box.
  • Buddy Belt- as I mentioned above we walk the chihuahuas on Buddy Belts all the time.  They are the best made, most comfortable and hardest to back out of harnesses I have encountered.  They have a non leather version called BB2 out now for the vegan folks among us or others looking to spend a little less.
  • Max & Ruffy's treats-  These are great, organic treats and the Mini size is perfect for training treats and for small dogs like mine.  I also like them because if you are someone who shows or does obedience and puts treats in your mouth they are perfect for that.  They are all vegetarian and made with human grade ingredients that smell good and don't taste half bad.  My dogs who don't usually like meat-less treats love these.  I used them as the primary treats for the run of Legally Blonde with Kerrigan.  The only issue I have with their company is that they advocate a vegan diet for dogs and I don't ever believe healthy dogs should be fed a vegan diet.  So just ignore that part of the website- their treats are great.
  • Star Wars!  Petco has started carrying a Star Wars collection.  Some of the items are a little overpriced and not the best quality stuff (although the t-shirts are good quality and we have two of them that have been getting a lot of use).  But come on- Star Wars!!  I got Kerri one of the cat toys that is a tie fighter on a stick and she loves crushing the empire in the living room.  I would say they are a must have for any Star Wars loving pet owner.
  • Lupine Pet collars and leads-  I LOVE lupine.  They are an American company who manufactures in New Hampshire and their stiff is all guaranteed for life even if chewed.  Copley's everyday collar is the same lupine collar he has been wearing since two months after we got him in 2010.  The chis don't wear Lupine collars but they are walked on Lupine leashes and Kerri has their small step in harness for wearing over clothing.  I have bough other leashes but I don't use ant of them.  99% of the time my dogs leave the house is on Lupine.
  • Planet Dog Toys-  These are some of the few dogs toys I have found that are actually manufactured in the USA (the other exceptions would be Kong and Nylabone).  Even with that said- watch out- there are a few Planet dog products (and Kong and Nylabone for that matter) that are made in China. so if that is something you care about read the fine print.  No matter where they are made I like them though.  The Orbee globe that Kerrigan has is one of her favorite toys and she has had it for quite a while.  Our blind foster dog Luke went crazy for their raspberry because it- along with a lot of their other toys- has a natural mint scent added when they make the toy- and it helped him find the toy when he couldn't use his eyes to see it.  This would be first on my list for any blind dogs out there.

I think that is most of the stuff I am loving right now.  Have fun holiday shopping!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rally For Change

Hello Las Vegas folks (and other folks too)!  As many of you know Kerrigan was adopted from a county shelter called The Animal Foundation (formerly LIED Animal Shelter).  Sadly only 61% of the animals that go into The Animal Foundation make it out alive.  Also sadly the administration at the shelter is very resistant to change and perhaps worse than that is spreading a lot of misinformation to the public.  The Executive Director, Christine Robinson claims that the shelter has not killed a dog for space in over a year.  If that is true why was healthy, happy Lala (seen in the picture above) killed?  Why are so many dogs killed for minor medical issues, why are so many dogs euthanized for behavior when volunteers witness those very same dogs as happy and healthy.  The numbers just don't add up.  Then there are the stories like this-

So what can you do about it?  There are a few things.  First watch and share this video.



Social networking.  Share the video and the poster with all your friends.  Also follow Go Vegas Dog and Animal Help Alliance on facebook for more information.  If you are looking to adopt soon check out Go Vegas dog on Facebook for information about sponsored adoption fees the day of the rally.  We may disagree with how they are run, but it is not the animals fault, so if you are ready to adopt consider adopting from The Animal Foundation the day of the rally (or any other day for that matter)!


If you have a little extra to spare please also consider donating.  Permits, insurance and printing flyers is not cheap and the organizers can use anything you can give!  Here is the link for that.


Most importantly attend the rally and RSVP here!

P.S- Arbor (Go Vegas Dog) is a really cool pup!  You should follow her on facebook.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tis The Season To- Judge Other People Without Knowing All the Facts

It is that time of year.  The weather is getting colder.  You are all frantically starting to deep clean your houses in anticipation of the family visits at Thanksgiving.  The leaves are falling off the trees, the crisp air is making your morning coffee taste that much better, and your chihuahua is sitting in the corner shaking.  Take a minute to go look- I bet if you have a dog under 10 lbs in the house right now it is shaking in the corner.  Are they upset at your insane cleaning spree?  Do the leaves on the ground rub on their tummy uncomfortably?  Did they eat part of your Halloween pumpkin?  No,  no and no.  I was asking these same questions a few years ago.  The answer is simple, your chihuahua is freezing its ass off.  Tiny dogs with thin hair have been selectively bred by people for hundreds of years to be as tiny and as useless in the cold as possible.  Luckily, dear humans, over the last several hundred years we have also refined another thing.  The mass production of textiles.  And heating pads.  And polar fleece pet beds.  Now go put a sweater on that freezing dog, cause you know what?  A room temperature of 68 is cold if you only weigh 5lbs.

This jersey says "Wide Retriever"

I am always the first person to shout from the top of the roof that SMALL DOGS ARE DOGS TOO and to TREAT A CHIHUAHUA AS YOU WOULD A ROTTWEILER as far as rules go.  There are some areas though where tiny dogs are different.  As I mentioned before we humans feel a need to breed dogs to the extremes (no judgement there- really- I mean I own two super tiny dogs- I don't judge on that one) and some of those extremes have made it so our dogs can't regulate their own body functions.  In the case of tiny dogs that would be blood sugar (in some cases) and temperature.  The human race is responsible for the dogs being tiny so we are also responsible for putting a sweater on them if they are cold.

There comes my next point.  If you see a person walking their dog with a sweater on it.  DON'T JUDGE that person.  They are not (necessarily) treating their dog like a child, or playing dress up with it as if it is a doll, or anthropomorphizing it.  The dog is probably cold and the responsible owner is just keeping it warm.  Even if the dog does not seem to like the clothes- stop judging!  Just like anything some dogs take faster to stuff than others.  While one dog may love a sweater from the first day it wears it, it may take another dog a little while to be trained to ignore the clothes.

I am tired of people saying "I would never put clothes on my dog" or calling it "cruel" to put a sweater on a dog.  If you think it is cruel then you also must think it is cruel to simply own a small breed with short hair in a place where it gets cold.  Maybe that is what you think.  If so say that.

For a long time I was ashamed of putting clothes on my chihuahuas.  I thought it reinforced a stereotype and frankly the clothes are often really ugly.  If you are a person like me who tends to scoff at socially imposed gender norms then don't shop for chihuahua clothes.  It is a sea of pink tutus and camo pants, as I have blogged about before.  So for a long time I bought the cheapest, most generic clothes I could find and moved on.  Recently though I have realized that there is nothing wrong with spending money on clothes I like.  Kerri and Nova don't care what their clothes look like, but just like with collars and crate pads and other dog stuff it is ok to spend your money on what the human thinks looks good.  After all I am the one looking at it and parading it around town on our walks.

So moral of the story-
  • Your dog might be cold
  • If it is put a sweater on
  • Don't judge others for putting clothes on their dog
  • Even if they are designer clothes and cost a lot of money don't judge
  • Don't judge other people
  • Chihuahuas are dogs too
  • Don't Judge other people

P.S- Kerri outgrew most of her clothes from last winter, and Nova is her size too, so I am in need of clothes if anyone has any suggestions.  I like quirky stuff FYI.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Funny Story

"I'm a dog, not a genius"

Today I was re-arranging some stuff and moved the dogs water bowl.  Usually when I move it I give them a little something fun in there- just to make sure everyone is attracted to the new place and no one is out looking for it later.  I used Ice Pups by Honest Kitchen and make it into a warm broth.  I made it pretty light and put it in the bowl.  Copley drank first (being chief food lover around here he always goes first) and it turns out I didn't put in enough liquid.  When I saw he was going to finish it I knew I didn't want to go through making a bunch more so I got water out of the tap and poured it in the bowl so there would be some left for the chihuahuas.

I guess using Copley logic I had "covered up" the tasty stuff so he stuck his entire head down in the bowl and licked the bottom of it.  A few times.  He was covered in water from snout to eyes- all because he didn't understand that the tasty stuff was being diluted, not covered.  I love how dogs brains work sometimes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Iams Shakeables Review- Or Anti-Review

I have noticed that a lot of bloggers have been reviewing IAMS Shakeables these past few days.  Well I don't ever accept ANYTHING from the major pet food companies, so I am not reviewing them for Iams.  In fact I wasn't going to review them at all.  But then I was reading all over blogville about how "amazing" "tasty" and "fun" they are and I decided I needed to throw my hat in the ring on this one.  I went to the store and purchased a can of the treats (they were less than $3 so it didn't break the bank) and now I am going to review them.  My basic review is this-

They are fattening, cheap, contain very little meat and I would never in a million years buy them for my dogs.  Iams is contributing to pet obesity with the size of these treats and with poor labeling practices, but at least they are not full of sugar like other treats on the market.  You could buy worse, but why buy crap at all?


Before I get into manufacturing practices that I find suspect lets take a go at the ingredients.  The first one is Wheat Flour followed by Glycerin.  That's right- the two ingredients that make up the primary composition of the treat is wheat flower and glycerin.  I don't have anything particularly against wheat, but it is a grain, and a lot of dogs are sensitive to grains.  Also I can't imagine that any dogs particularly love the taste of these two, cheap as shit ingredients.  Next on the ingredients list is lamb.  To that I say bravo!  Lamb is a named protein source, and a lot of dogs like it.  But it is also the reason I bought the lamb flavor.  You see a lot of people whose dogs have allergy problems buy lamb as a way to avoid chicken and other common allergens.  But you see the thing here is that the next ingredient on the list is... wait for it... POULTRY fat.  Not chicken, duck or turkey fat, but poultry fat.  That means it can be any kind of poultry fat at all.  So if your dog is allergic to chicken, these treats would be a bad idea, even though the word chicken does not appear anywhere on the label.  On top of that poultry fat is a by-product of the rendering process so who knows what really is in it.  I see people right now saying- "but I trust Iams to make sure their product is safe and they wouldn't put iffy poultry fat in treats."

Well a little research on my part finds that Iams Shakeables were actually already recalled once this year.  By recalled I mean that Iams silently pulled them from store shelves without even notifying consumers.  Here is their iffy "press release" that can only be found if you know the product was recalled and google as such-

Here is a blog post about the whole situation.  I agree with their assessment that P&G was hoping no one would notice they were withdrawing the product.  Thanks for putting dogs first P&G!

Still trust Iams?

Maybe you do.  Lets forgive them for a minute the "poultry fat."  It is just there after all to make the treat taste good, because glycerin and wheat flour with a little drop of lamb actually tastes like cardboard, so you need the fat for flavor.  Lets move on to a few little tidbits form the Iams website FAQ-

" Are all ingredients in Iams Shakeables from USA?
The majority of our ingredients come from the United States; there are some ingredients that are sourced from other countries."

What countries you may ask?  This FAQ might give you a clue.

"Why do you purchase ingredients from China for Iams Shakeables?

The realities of global trade means that some countries or regions specialize in certain ingredients, which can limit the buying options. We do not source meat- or vegetable-based proteins from China"

Good luck finding it in the FAQ though- they are about as easy to navigate as a corn maize.  I did learn some more information from them though.  Such as the fact that one shakeable treat is about 10 calories.  That is one thing I must thank Iams about- I was planning on trying to calculate that somehow and they saved me a lot of math. 

There too comes the other problem with Iams Shakeables.  10 calories is a lot for a dog treat.  I do use a lot of training treats, and I my dogs are not obese, but these are just HUGE.  I see so many of the dogs reviewing them online struggling with obesity.  There is simply no reason to give your dog a 10 (useless, empty) calorie treat like this.  Pictured below you will see the Iams Shakeable with equal calorie amounts of other treats I had laying around.  You will notice that one shakeable is actually more calories than a snack pack of fruitables (flower shaped treats).  The high values zukes treats I use are more calorie dense than the Shakeables, but you will see that they are small, encouraging people to actually feed less of them (those are the z's on the right).  The zukes treats easily tear in half, giving me 8 treats for every one of the Iams ones.  I tried tearing the Iams treats into 8 pieces and it didn't go great.  All I got was a crumbly mess and a broken nail.  Plus the Zukes are full of good stuff like chicken as the first ingredient and fish oil.  Dogs don't eat a lot of calories in a day, do you really want to waste 10 of them on wheat flour and glycerin?  Overall I just can't get behind these Iams treats, they don't even say on the can how many calories are in a treat!  The Kcals are there but it takes a math major to translate that into something real.  If Iams really was putting dogs health as their first responsibility they would list the calorie content per treat on the can.  It's not like they didn't know it, cause it is listed in the back of a difficult to navigate FAQ section on their website.

Also notice there was no taste test here?  Of course the dogs loved them (I broke one up for all three dogs) but the dogs love a lot of stuff, it does not mean it is good for them.  The rest of the can is going where it belongs- in the trash.


P.S- From the Iams FAQ "Are Iams Shakeables Made in the USA?" says "Yes, the Shakeables are manufactures and packaged in the USA. All of our products distributed in the United States are manufactured in the United States."

I was wondering around the store curious where Iams products are made and the first thing I picked up was this tub-

"Made in Thailand" is printed on the label.  Still trust Iams?