Reviews

Live from Vegas: Pet Products You’ve Got To See

FTC Disclosure: featured products provided review product and/or compensation for inclusion in the Product Spotlight.

If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed. A pet show like SuperZoo is an utter cacophony of sounds, sights, and row after row of many things that all look the same after an hour: treats and collars, treats and collars, rinse, repeat.

szIt’s hard for products to stand out in a crowd like that, but when Dr. Andy Roark and I hit the convention floor the last couple of days that is exactly what we were looking for. Fortunately for us, we found it.

Like two wandering corporate souls in sensible shoes and dark suits, we crisscrossed the vast plains of the Mandalay Bay convention floor searching, talking to people, and petting booth dogs until we wound up with three fantastic standouts for the Inaugural Roark and Vogelsang SuperZoo Product Spotlight. Here they are:

1. Tech of the Year: Voyce collar

Remember that moment in Up when Carl says to Dug, “I wish he could talk” and Dug’s collar says, “Hi there”? The idea of our dogs being able to speak has transfixed us humans for years with the possibilities of what they could tell us: Are you hurt? Are you hungry? Are you tired?

While the Voyce collar can’t actually make your dog talk, it is a huge leap forward in the ever growing market of wearable tech for dogs and so far, the closest thing we have to speaking their language. The Voyce collar’s technology and interface tracks and trends over time not only activity level and calories burned but heart rate and respiratory rate.

Great Dane Taz-2216-2_noStethoscope

As someone vastly invested in the concept of providing better care for senior pets, one of the messages I keep trying to get across to pet owners is this: ‘he’s getting old and tired’ is only the tip of the iceberg. If your tired old man has a resting heart rate through the roof and pants 24/7, guess what- he may be in pain. This data, which up to now were only accessible by a person with a stethoscope, can be collected at home over time and accessible to both the owners and the vet.

To add value to the experience, Voyce teamed with education resource provider LifeLearn to ensure owners have access to a wide variety of educational resources to help understand the data and make all of us better pet owners through improved knowledge. The dashboard features not only your individual pet’s collected data but advice and articles from a large panel of  animal experts.

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There’s a reason it won the PC World/Tech Hive and Yahoo! Tech “Best of CES 2014″ at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. It’s nice to see the tech world finally going to the dogs.

The Voyce collar will be launching before the holidays- interested owners can sign up on the Voyce website to be notified when it is available for sale online. In the meantime you can join the ever growing community on Facebook of techie dogs waiting for their chance to have a Voyce. -JV

2. Toy of the Year: Tuggo Dog Toy

It always makes me feel good to watch a big man dance. That’s the same feeling I get when I watch a big, strong dog play wildly with a toy. I think that’s why I am such a fan of the Tuggo Dog Toy.

The toy is wonderfully simple in its design. It’s a large plastic ball with a rope through it. The ball can be filled with water to add weight and cause a “tugging” motion. Dogs grab the rope, pull the ball around, and toss the entire contraption into the air.

To appreciate what Tuggo is, you’ve just got to see dogs at play with it. Tuggo’s Facebook page  is covered with videos of dogs enjoying the toy. Here’s the video that originally caught my attention:

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I love large dogs, and one of the greatest struggles I see pet owners having with them is getting them enough exercise. While small dogs can often work out inside the house or in the back yard, large dogs may not have the space to adequately stretch their legs. If a product like Tuggo can get these big dogs out and moving and burning calories, then I’m all for it. And who doesn’t like watching big dogs frolic like puppies?

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The ball is available in red, blue, and green colors, and in 10-inch diameter and 7-inch diameter sizes. Tuggo Toys can be purchased through their website  and shipping is free.   -AR

I asked founder Adam Harrington what inspired the Tuggo, and he told me “watching my dog play with a bowling ball.” All of you people asking me for a TOUGH toy? Here it is. -JV

 3. Lifestyle Product of the Year: Kinn Kleanbowl

As a busy mom, I have to tell you: things that make my life easier make me very happy. We eat on paper plates a lot around here. While I am tempted by the ease of doing the same for my pets, if you’ve ever watched a dog try to eat out of a paper bowl you know that just ends in upended bowls wedged under a chair and food embedded in the kitchen floor, so stainless steel it is.

Here’s the bad news: according to NSF International, pet bowls are the 4th germiest place in the house, teeming with E. coli, Salmonella, yeast, and mold. This is exactly what you would expect when you leave a bowl of meat products sitting around. People? We’re lazy and don’t wash the bowls nearly enough, and that is just how it is.

Here, in an elegant form, is the solution: the Kinn Kleanbowl, a stainless steel rim that sits on top of a sturdy, compostable bowl made from recyclable yet sturdy and waterproof (yes!!) sugar cane fiber. Yup, you can use it for water too, so you eliminate that algae-goo that builds up if your bowl doesn’t go in the dishwasher every day.

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My cat eats a lot of wet food and Brody get rehydrated raw, so we know all too well how dirty and crusty bowls get. That being said, oily kibble residue isn’t much better. In addition for being a boon to time starved people like me, the Kleanbowl is a great solution for busy vet clinics who need their staff to spend less time scraping uneaten leftovers off in the trash and more time replacing the catheter the dog in cage 4 chewed out, yet again.

Klean Bowl top view

There is a small but persistent voice in my head that wants to know how this would also work with toddlers and spaghetti.

Clean. Convenient. Compostable. This is a bowl for  the people. The Kleanbowl retails for $19.95 and 50 count refills are available for $14.95 at the Kleanbowl website. To keep up on all the innovative products from Kinn including what I believe to be the world’s finest pill splitter, check out the Kinn Facebook page. -JV

 

Any of these jump out to you as must-haves? Stay tuned. Andy and I are going to be running a giveaway very soon!

Filed: Blog, Features, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

My husband and Her: A neato love story

herI have no one to blame but myself, of course, for the events that have transpired since Christmas.

I was the one who brought her in, invited her to come into our home and get to know the place. My husband said it was the only thing he wanted this year, so I went with it, albeit with some trepidation.

You should have seen his face when he realized what I had done. “Wow!” he said. “Finally!” The children looked on in confusion. Brody ran away. Only Penelope, the newest addition to the fold, approached her with anything resembling curiosity.

Her name was Rosie, and she was here to stay.

I don’t consider myself a jealous person under normal circumstances, but it’s hard to compete with someone who plays their role with such aplomb. I even took out my Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery cookbook and made what may be the most amazing chocolate chip cookies in existence in an attempt to regain my rightful place in his affections: “See!” I say, holding one out. “Aren’t they wonderful?” He takes a bite, nods in assent, and before I can say another word in she comes, swerving around me to clear the floors. She’s loud in her approach. You can’t miss her. Immediately his attention is gone, focused now on something newer, shinier. He smiles in admiration as she saunters away, the crumbs vanished.

Rosie is, if you haven’t figured it out yet, our new Neato robotic vacuum. I thought I was buying a household appliance. What I was getting was an obsession.

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Every day, my husband greets us after work: me, the kids, Rosie. “What did you get done today?” he asks, then turns to Rosie. “And how did she do?” He surveys the house. “Wow. Wow. This is, like, the best thing ever. Is the dustbin full? Is your brush stuck?” He turns to me. “Did you check if she was OK and if she needed anything? Did you check the dustbin?”

She is thorough, I’ll give you that. She follows Brody around and grabs more off the floor in one afternoon than I seem to manage in several gos around the house. She doesn’t get annoyed at and ignore the space under the coffee table where furballs go to retire. She flushes them out like an angry beagle.

Living with her is sometimes a drag. She drones on and on, vRRRrrrRRRRRR. She always seems to be underfoot right where I need to be. Brody is petrified of her. My husband won’t stop talking about her. One day, when I lost all patience for her and her distracting antics, I hissed “Choke on a carrot, you dumb robot.”

Later than day, I came home from the grocery store, expecting the usual roar but instead being greeted with a disquieting sense of silence. The floor in the entryway, sparkling clean since her arrival, had the thin sprinkling of daily dust we were accustomed to in our pre-Rosie days. Brody looked at me with an expression I couldn’t read. I heard her, finally, a quiet, desperate chirping. I followed her cries for help to the kitchen.

She had choked on a squirrel.

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Immediately chagrined, I disentangled the two battling toys and dispatched Rosie to the entryway, while I spent the time I would normally be dragging my Dyson around working on the book. When my husband got home, he didn’t even need to ask. “I emptied the dustbin. Twice.”

My husband posted about her on Facebook a few days ago, and one by one, the men all came out of lurking. “I have one too.” “Me too.” “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.” Our friend J just bought posted that he bought two. One for each floor of the house, or one for each dog, not sure.

I’d be more insulted at the apparent poor vacuuming skills this implies were it not, if I must tell the truth, an entirely correct assessment. We have come to an agreement, Rosie and I. My husband can gloat and lavish praise all he wants, as long as she keeps those hairballs away.

*No, I have no affiliation with Neato. This post is all me.

Filed: Blog, Lifestyle, Musings, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , ,

Summer Reading List, Vet Version

It says right there on my FAQ that I don’t do book reviews. Not because I don’t like doing it, but because approximately two seconds after the review book arrives I start to get emails: “didyougetitdidyoulikeitwhensthereview” from the publishing house interns whose job it is to do things like that. Which is completely fine, except for the fact that I don’t read very quickly and I just couldn’t handle the pressure.

I will do book reviews, just as long as no one cares when I get around to it. Which brings me to this rare moment: telling you about two books I like enough to have read and now share.  (Neither author, by the by, requested a review, so take heart that I really just actually wanted to share these with you.)

Both books revolve around dog safety, which with the Fourth of July coming around is very apropos.

 

1. 101 Essential Tips You Need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed

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http://www.thepreventivevet.com/index.html

Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas is better known round these parts as “The Preventive Vet“, because as a vet with a strong background in emergency medicine he strongly believes in- wait for it- preventive care. For all those people who continue to be convinced vets are all about the buck, I present to you an ER vet who is now spending his days trying to keep your pet out of the ER.

What I love: Dr. Nicholas distills a world of information into 101 easily digestible bite sized paragraphs (ha), organized by topic: digestive, toxic, traumatic, etc. The tips are written in a way that emphasizes not only what the problem is, but how to prevent it. Also: Dr. Nicholas is donating 5% of book proceeds to charity.

Who else loves it: Andrea Arden, Dr Ann Hoenhaus, Dr. Karl Jandrey.

Bottom line: If this book makes it into every new puppy pack and gift basket, I’ll be a happy camper. A perfect ‘how to’ manual to keeping your pets safe.

Where to buy: $9.95 directly from the Preventive Vet website.

 

2. The Safe Dog Handbook: A complete Guide to Protecting your Pooch Indoors and Out by Melanie Monteiro

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Author: I met pet safety expert Melanie Monteiro last week when we were working on a piece for Sleepypod about car harness safety (and boy, talk about scary stuff there!) I asked her how she ended up in that line of work, and she told me after trip after trip to the ER while working as a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, she was inspired to learn more on the topic. Now that she’s mastered the field she teaches pet first aid and disaster response to pet owners.

What I love: Melanie talked to some of the best veterinarians in the field to research this book, and it shows. There’s not a page that doesn’t provide excellent, accurate information on how to recognize an emergency, and easy to follow first aid instructions. Also: easy to use index, beautiful color photographs, and spiral binding so it can lie flat while you’re looking up the well diagrammed safe restraint techniques. Oh, and the Boston on the cover doesn’t hurt either.

Who else loves it: VPI, Ellen Degeneres, Dean Koontz.

Bottom line: A thorough, easy to use, and beautiful book that provides life saving information as well as very helpful graphs, diagrams, and photos. I’ve never seen a reference book this usable.

Where to buy: Currently on sale at Amazon for $8.00.

Though the topics are the same, the approaches are very different and complement each other well. I debated offering them as a giveaway but after reading them I decided you will have to pry them out of my cold dead hands. Better yet, come to my house where they live side by side in harmony on my bookshelf, flip through them, and go buy your own. :)

 

If you have other must read summer books, please do let me know in the comments.

Filed: Blog, Cats, Dogs, Health, Lifestyle, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

Next Step Baby Monitors: Exonerating pets since 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve needed a baby monitor. Not that long, mind you, but long enough that technology has apparently been soaring by me in leaps and bounds since the year I slept with static-y radio by my side.

When I was asked by Next Step Baby monitors if I wanted to review their cameras to see what my dogs were up to while I was gone, I agreed, because oddly enough- and this never ever happens- my husband had JUST SAID “We really need a baby monitor or something to figure out once and for all which dog is being bad here”. I had just discovered that all the treat-stealing, all the counter surfacing and bread ingesting and pantry raiding I had pegged on Brody, was in fact the fault of one Kekoa. It was a mind blowing moment for me, realizing she had been tricking me all along, but the proof was in the chocolately vomit.

It was her all along.

I was also pretty sure that when the dogs got left home alone and started howling, that Koa was the one who started it, because it was a bad habit she has indulged in her whole life, and Brody- well, he’s until recently always been the quiet one. This was about to become really, super important, since we were taking Brody into an apartment where implacable howling was likely to be frowned upon (though now that I know how flipping loud our upstairs neighbors are, I wouldn’t mind subjecting them to a little BAROOOOO ing now and then. But I digress.)

So here we are, in an apartment with a dog, and very nervous about whether or not his inherited howling behavior would continue without his enabler. And as luck would have it, we just received the NextStepIP Pro, and I tasked my husband with keeping an eye on Brody while we were gone.

The camera uses wifi and is easy to move wherever it needs to be. With wide range of motion, you can tilt the camera to find your pet if you suspect they are engaging in problem behaviors. And- to me this is the best part- you can not only watch the camera from your phone or PC, you can control it remotely too.


We had the NextStep sitting by our front door, waiting to see if Brody would start howling. My husband had the audio running at work so he could listen for errant howls. Generally with separation anxiety, the most pronounced behavior happens soon after departure, but it’s helpful to know the exact triggers so you can address them through behavior modification.

In our case, apparently, the trigger was Koa.

This is how Brody spends his time when we are gone:

Screen resolution has come a long way since 2004.

Busted, on multimedia platforms. But it’s QUIET couch crashing, and that peace of mind is very, very valuable.

At $150, it’s a great price for the amount of versatility you get. The Next Step IP, which also allows you the ability to observe and control with a mobile device, starts at $119. We were also very happy with the customer service who helped us walk through the setup. If you are struggling with a dog on the potential naughty list, this may be just the ticket for you.

Speaking of that, I will definitely be using this in the new house with Koa. Do you have any idea how much of her bad behavior I’ve blamed on poor Brody over the years? Talk about dogshaming.

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Reviews Tagged: , , ,

I’ve dreamed of this geeky day ever since I was twelve…

I knew we were in for a long morning when I saw Elvis’s name on the schedule. A fearsome and mighty miniature pinscher who thought he was a Great White, Elvis held the reigning title of ‘most challenging dog to vaccinate’ I had ever seen. He had the unique ability to turn himself into a Tasmanian Devil on demand, a whirling, 360 degree  tornado of teeth, claws, and anal gland secretions. And today he was coming in for a cough- one of the first signs of heart disease in dogs.

The ECG is one of the most useful tools in medicine, a device that measures the electrical activity of the heart to help you determine whether or not it is in good health. While the ECG is technically a noninvasive procedure, it’s one of the less well tolerated procedures in awake dogs and cats because it requires holding still, chilly alcohol, and some rather uncomfortable alligator clips on the skin. Needless to say, as much as I dearly wanted an ECG on my friend Elvis, the procedure was as likely to kill him- or us- as his potential underlying cardiac condition. Which is why although it is regularly used on anesthetized pets, its usefulness on awake animals is often limited to those who will actually tolerate it; it is sometimes limited as well by the need to get the pet close to the machine itself, which doesn’t always work in the confines of an ICU.

When I was at AVMA last month, AliveCor Vet was in a booth promoting a new veterinary ECG that works with your iphone. I walked by the booth, not expecting much- maybe an app that sends the results to your phone or something, I thought, but I’ll check it out. And then, my mind was blown.

An ECG on the floor at the AVMA convention

The AliveCor actually turns your iphone into a portable ECG machine. It consists of a case that snaps on over an iphone, turning it into a single lead ECG that is placed on the side of the animal, or, in the case of those animals who don’t want to deal with that, you can hold one paw on each contact. And that, my friends, is awesome. While it’s not an exact replacement for a three lead machine, it’s a pretty fantastic way to get a quick assessment on animals like Elvis, whose alternative is no ECG at all. It’s portable, and can send results via email so a printed copy can be saved to a medical record.

Taking an ECG on a dog on an iphone with the AliveCor Vet at the World Vets Latin American Training Center in Granada, Nicaragua.

The next day, I flew to Granada, where AliveCor had sent two devices to Dr. King to use at the World Vets Latin American Training Center. Now here is another application- out there, there’s no ECG machine at all. Surgeries are performed without the benefit of an ECG, which can be really helpful when one is working with older, malnourished animals with no history of veterinary care. We were even able to take it into the field to use on horses. An horse getting ECG out in the middle of a field in Nicaragua. Who would have thunk it. ECG devices of any kind are not used in places like Granada, but the veterinarians there do have iphones, so thanks to AliveCor the pet population now has access to a very valuable too.

AliveCor was selling the units at AVMA and they were flying out of the booth faster than I could keep track. My colleagues were all as impressed as I was. The device is inexpensive- $199- and the app is free. Veterinary interpretation, of course, not included. But next time you bring your pet in for a wellness check, you very well may get a quick in-room ECG!

Anyone else watch Star Trek back in the day? Remember those little handheld tricorders, that magical device that could with the wave of a hand give you invaluable health information? I’M NERDING OUT HERE.

 

 

 

Filed: Blog, Health, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

Giveaway Tuesday: Designer dog beds from PetDreams.com!

Brody’s dog bed was turning into a sad and sorry thing, a tattered vestige that much like Linus’s blanket, he didn’t want to part with despite its obvious state of despair. I’d try to hide it, and he would go drag it out of the closet and back to the bedroom. Every time I thought about throwing it out, he’d follow me with such a concerned look that I couldn’t bring myself to toss it, despite it being a bed only in the most academic of senses by this point.

So when PetDreams.com, a manufacturer of really nice dog beds, offered me a bed to review in conjunction with a giveaway, I said, “Great!” As much as I like doing giveaways for you all, I have been backing off on product reviews because we just don’t need much at this point. But dog beds, well, there is something we could use.

I was so excited when the bed arrived: a sage green plush Ortho-Bliss memory foam bed. When he was younger and still sleeping in his crate, Brody got a small hygroma from lying on a crate pad that wasn’t quite plush enough; it was shortly after that we switched to fluffier beds. Compared to his current bed, this is a Cadillac.

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I actually sat on it for a few minutes myself to see if it was really as dense and springy as it felt. It actually feels just like a Tempur-Pedic and is much heavier than the usual egg shell pads I’ve felt in the past. Considering how much time Brody’s spent sprawled out on my memory foam mattress, I figured, this might finally be the ticket to getting him away from that old bed.

He certainly seemed enthused. He immediately came over to investigate as I spread it out in the living room.

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Koa, whose bed is still in working order due to her propensity to just flop on the carpet next to the kids’ beds, seemed disinterested. That is, until she got a closer look. Did someone say memory foam?

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Poor Brody never had a chance. Old labs win every time. Guess this means I have to buy another.

But you, lucky readers, have not one but TWO chances to win your very own awesome bed that will inspire envy from the household. Pet Dreams is offering two winners the choice of the following best sellers from the site:

S, L or XL  PURPLE BUMPER BED
S SAGE BUMPER BED
S SEA FOAM CRATEWEAR SET
S DENIM SLEEPEEZ
S or M or XXL KHAKI CRATEWEAR
S DENIM SLEEPEEZ
L PLUSH BLUE CRATEWEAR
XS HUNTER GREEN SLEEPEEZ
XL HUNTER GREEN CRATEWEAR

Lots of ways to enter, starting by leaving a comment as to who in your house would like to win the bed. For the most chances, like Pet Dreams on Facebook and follow them on Twitter! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Filed: Blog, Giveaways, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , ,

Product Review: Kurgo Wander Pack

As you may recall, I spent a good portion of last week curled up in a ball in my bedroom, drowning my sorrows with cough syrup and muddling through a bizarre sequence of subsequent side effects that gave my malarone experience a run for the money. Note to self: I am, apparently, highly sensitive to all medications. That is what I get for trying the Tim Taylor “MOAR POWER” approach to pharmaceuticals and gulping down an extra strength extended release tablet of guafensin and dextromethorphan without thinking, perhaps I should try the regular strength first. My bad.

Well here we are, a week later experiencing what I can only describe as the world’s most perfect weather. It really is. And as much as I would love to be out running and hiking and drinking it all in, my still-sensitized alveoli can muster no more than a quick cruise around the block before starting to protest, so we make do with what we have.

And it’s a real shame, because I’ve had a review item I’ve been super excited about, the Kurgo Wander Pack, sitting on the table for several weeks, just begging to be used. So I relented, and put it on Brody for a test run, even though our adventure for the day was limited to a 100 foot perimeter around the house.

 

Brody is a big fan of my push to get us outside and moving as much as possible. I am a big fan of a product that allows him to share some of the burden of lugging along some of the things a dog might require on such an adventure.  (more…)

Filed: Blog, Fit Life, Health, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

Global Pet Expo: A few of my favorite things, part 1

I stayed at Global for two out of its three day run, figuring hey, that would be plenty of time to plumb its depths. Yes, well, not so much. It took at least ten minutes just to walk from one side to the other; we’re talking 2,452 booths here. And me (yet again) without a good pair of flats. But at least I did bring a fairly decent pair of heels; the stilettos never made it out of the suitcase, sadly.

With that many products to check out, I know for a fact I missed more than a few, which of course means now I just have to make sure to go again next year- and bring my kid’s Razor scooter. In the meantime, here’s just a few of my favorite products I saw while I was there:

1. Old Soul Line from Planet Dog. Planet Dog has built a company around the concept of providing well designed dog toys with a social conscience. I was especially taken with the “Old Souls” line, thinking of Koa at home with her sad, decrepit mouth from years of prior neglect. It’s hard to find gentle toys for old souls like her.

2. Jellyfish Art. I’m the first to admit, I had no intention of visiting the portion of the expo hall reserved for aquarium items- until I actually saw it and said, Wow. This is the one item I stopped, took a picture of and sent to my husband with the word, “WANT.” A home jellyfish aquarium. Trust me, watching the little jellyfish serenely float about is an automatic blood pressure reducer. Still want, by the way.

3. Kane and Couture collars and harnesses.  I spent several wonderful minutes chatting with Kane and Couture owner Amber Forrester, taken with her clever designs that were on-trend and inspired by current trends in the fashion industry. As an added bonus, she makes sizes for large fashionistas too- and you all know how often I complain that it’s hard to find items like that for big dogs. But I chose to feature this harness because it’s a truly unique item- made of comfortable and stretchy swimsuit material, this comfy harness is a great choice for dogs who need a harness but tend to chafe with the traditional strap construction.

4. Waglet Works Adventure Dog Gear. Founders Barbara and Artie brought their background in the movie industry to the canine world with this clever utility belt that allows you to customize your own system that gives you immediate access to whatever dog items you might need without having to wrestle with a big backpack. Bowls, treats, water bottle, poop bags, flashlight, all within easy reach and balanced on your hips instead of hanging off your shoulders. Count me in.

A second round is coming up, but in the meantime, I present to you the most perfect example I have ever seen of a puppy pile, spied at the Purina booth:

Understandably, passersby were asked not to pick up the puppies, but really, it’s times like these I am soooooo, so tempted to say, “I’m a veterinarian and I just really, really need to do a quick exam. Thanks,” and then run off for a couple minutes. (Bev will tell you from the BlogHer experience that I am good at that.)

Filed: Blog, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , , , ,

We Love Pet Products: Caroline and the Barnacle

You all know Caroline Golon, right? She runs the amazing rescue site Romeo the Cat and the wonderful cat resource site The Happy Litterbox and the pet PR site HighPaw and she was one of the co-founder of BlogPaws and she’s a great mom to her adorable kiddos and a bunch of other things that, taken in total, make me realize how inadequate my contributions to society have been.

Anyway, I make it a goal to surround myself with incredible people like her because I always learn a ton from them- some may call it ‘parasitism’, but I prefer to think of it as ‘commensalism’. See, that biology degree comes in handy on occasion. And Caroline was kind enough to allow me to be her commensal organism while we were at Global Pet Expo.

Now, when you look at the technical definition of commensalism, it is this: commensalism is a class of relationship between two organisms where one organism benefits but the other is neutral (there is no harm or benefit). I am sure this is what she had in mind when we were making our plans- sure, I’ll let the vet chick hang out with me, what harm could come of it?

Then I started talking to her about a video. A simple concept, really. It would be the two of us, checking out some of the newest pet products at Global. She works in PR, this is right up her alley, I said.

Then we started tossing around ideas about how to make it, how shall I put it, “unique”…. and I waited for her to scrape me off her agenda like a dolphin might scrape off a wayward barnacle. But God bless her, she rolled with it and made it even better. I’m not sure if that counts as commensalism, humoring me, or just hoping maybe it dies a quick death on the blog, but I put it on YouTube, so now it will live in perpetuity.

What choice did I have? I do, after all, dearly love pet products. And you all know how far I’m willing to go to ensure a product lives up to my expectations.

So thank you, dear Caroline, for doing this bit with me. If nothing else, we gave a good number of vendors at Global a welcome respite from the boredom of their late afternoon with our camera and our slapstick. And say what you will, that bed was awfully comfy.

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Reviews, Videos Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Fashion Xanax

If I seem a little stressed in the next couple of months, I have a good excuse: we are going to try and sell our house. I say “try”, because this is one of those housing markets when upon saying “I’m going to put my house on the market” the universal response is, “Well, good luck with that.”

We’re staying in the area- after seeing all those pictures from Colorado this weekend I think it’s safe to say I am actually quite content here in San Diego, thanks- and the decision is one that has more to do with commutes and schools than anything else. Now, the last time we sold a house was in 2004, and as you probably know, the market was a little different back then. You could put a ramshackle log cabin on the market in 2004 and it would be sold for a ridiculous bucket of money back then. Our place sold in 10 days, to the second person who saw it. Ah, to be back in 2004 again.

Now, buyers are a little pickier. And the prospect of trying to keep a house in showable condition for possibly months, with two messy kids and a really rowdy Golden who would love nothing more than to go nuts each and every time someone comes by, has me in apoplectic fits. Worse than when I was taking the boards, worse than when I was pregnant. I have NO idea how I’m going to do it.

But I have a point here, and my point is: this is how we found ourselves at the mall on Saturday looking at little knick knacks, because my husband decided potential buyers would be impressed by more candles in the house. Now, I am ambivalent about that kind of stuff to begin with, and all I could think while we were wandering through the store was “It won’t matter, there’s no way the house is going to sell and then we’re going to be stuck in this house forever WITH A BUNCH OF EXTRA CANDLES TO HAVE TO STORE” and then I got even more stressed out and couldn’t concentrate.  (more…)

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Giveaway Tuesday: Moda Pet Sunflower bowl!

You know by now how I feel about cutesy pet stuff, right? I mean, it has its place, but as far as my own tastes go I’m constantly on the lookout for something that falls on the sleeker end of things. (This from the person who bought a dinosaur barrette from Anthropologie, so take it with a grain of salt.)

But I digress. When it comes to pets, function still has to have a place over form, or you end up like me with a nice wooden bowl holder that is chomped to bits within a few weeks. So when I see a product that has both form and function, I get admittedly disproportionately excited. I can’t help it.

I recently received a bowl from ModaPet (“Moda” means fashion in Italian, for those keeping track) and I’m hooked. So hooked that I want you to have one too. I’m giving away one ModaPet bowl in the happy Sunflower color.

Form: This particular bowl is a 4 cup version, enough for even the big pooches like Brody and Koa, and comes in a variety of jewel tones like orange, teal, and red. They have the weight of a heavy ceramic bowl, but with the look of glass. They’re pretty enough that my daughter put a handful of flowers in them before realizing they were actually a dog dish. And somehow despite this fragile appearance, this is a bulldog of a bowl.

Function: ModaPet bowls are made of BPA free plastic that is dishwasher safe. The sturdy soft plastic bottom makes it skidproof, and because it is molded on as opposed to being glued on, it will hold up through multiple go rounds in the washer. This puppy is heavy. Even Koa leaves it in place, and I’ve seen her push steel bowls clear to the dining room when she’s in an eating frenzy.

I really like these bowls an awful lot, and I’m not one to wax poetic about eating implements, usually. So here is your chance to have a lovely bowl all for yourself, and you can impress your guests with your Italian designed dog ware to distract them from the Italian shoes they just trashed. Well, at least that’s what I did.

To enter, you know the drill! Comment on who you would like this bowl for, and make sure you enter on the Rafflecopter widget. US/Canada only, please.

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Rug Doctor Saves the Day (and a mini giveaway)

Welcome back! Hope everyone here in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving. And in celebration of that and all the work it took the rest of the weekend to put the place back together, a post about cleaning products, something with which all pet owners are all too familiar.

I bought my car six years ago. Six years ago, I was obsessed with the idea of a black car with a beige interior. Sleek. Contemporary. Gorgeous. Six years ago, I was also very naive, with a nine month old who had yet to start throwing stuff on the floor and leaving red crayons on the seat.

So now, two kids and two dogs later, my beautiful beige car interior can best be described as “house of horrors”, a visual timeline of every insult that has been heaped upon it in the last half decade. No matter how much we try to stay on top of it, it’s a lost cause. It’s quite sad. I’ll come back to this in a minute.

A couple of weeks ago, Rug Doctor invited me to St. Louis to tour the factory and learn some more about their products. I figured hey, why not? I have an incontinent dog and two little kids and a spraying cat, so we definitely are familiar with carpet cleaning.

OK, so I’ll never be one of those Price is Right spokesmodels. But you’ve seen these displays in your grocery store, right? They’re everywhere.

I’ve rented the machines before, though not as often as the every 3-6 months (gulp) it’s recommended that you clean the carpets. I suppose I haven’t put much thought into the mechanics of getting a carpet clean, but Rug Doctor has.

Each Rug Doctor machine has three components: the spray hose, which shoots the cleaning product into your rug; the vibrating brush, which vibrates at 1700 vibrations a minute, and the vacuum hose, which pulls everything back out. Compared to what I usually do when there’s a spot on the rug, this is the mega-nuclear cleaning approach. Seek and destroy.

There are two main keys to getting the rug clean: The machine and the cleaning product you use in it. Here’s a nice tan rug, right? Remember this.

We got a demonstration from engineer Jason Hill, who told us about lift- the industry standard for suction. It’s near impossible to describe suction in a positive way that does not have some sort of inappropriate connotations, so let’s just leave it at “they demonstrated convincingly the superiority of this product’s ability to lift all sorts of garbage from your carpeting.” They run those motors to failure in the lab, just so they know before sending them out to stores how many hours of use they can expect (it’s about 1400, if you’re wondering.)

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