Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Gifts for Dogs and Pet Parents

Do you give your furry best friend a Christmas gift? If so, you're in good company. Surveys report that as many as 95% of pet parents buy their dog a gift for the holidays. My grandfather used to wrap dog biscuits and put them in the branches of the Christmas tree for his black lab, Duke. To this day I don't know how Duke didn't knock the whole tree over to get to them, but waited patiently as they were offered throughout the days surrounding Christmas.

We always get Kelly and Ike a toy. You might wonder why they would need a new toy when they already have this basket full of toys?

 I don't know! But they love a new toy and the smell, feel and stimulation of something new and different to play with.

Kong Jumbler

When sent us this toy to review, it was a new one for my dogs. But I learned that it's already been my granddog Zeke's favorite. Be aware that strong chewers like Zeke may get through the softer exterior in order to get to the tennis ball inside. Zeke has gone through several, but will play with this toy for hours on end.

The Jumbler has handles for easy carrying, tugging and shaking, which is just what Zeke enjoys! It's definitely a winner!


Hero also sent us some toys to review. Do you have a strong chewer? These toys are tough, tough, tough! Our favorite is the retriever series tug toy.
Ike and Zeke have tugged at the durable, rip-resistant fabric and haven't made a single tear in the fabric, or a hole in the soft rubber ball! If it holds up to these two, it should hold up to your dogs!

And now, for pet parents I received a REALLY cool surprise. Something I'm really excited about, and something I think pet parents will find unique, fascinating and potentially very helpful.

Petzi Treat Cam

The Petzi treat cam allows you to check in with and interact with your pet from your smartphone or tablet. I'll be doing a thorough review of this after Christmas, and I can't wait to try it out! With this petcam, you can not only see your pet, you can also speak to him, snap pictures of him, and offer him small treats with the Petzi Treat Launcher. I've often wondered if hearing my voice while I'm away would cause my dog to feel more secure or more anxious, and I think combining the treat with my voice would help create a positive association for the dog.

Keep looking! I'll be posting my review soon!

How about you? What are you giving your pets, and pet-lovers, for Christmas this year?

Full Disclosure: I was provided with 1 Kong Jumbler, 2 Hero toys (pictures) and the Petzi Treat Cam in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I only review products I'm interested in, and that I think my readers will enjoy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We Did It! Ike's a Therapy Dog!

How do you become a therapy dog?
Well, just ask Ike. Because he's proud to announce.....
We did it!

Last Saturday was Ike's big test. Oh, and one point to make is you are testing as a team. It's not only the dog's behavior that is being tested, but both dog and handler must be of good character.  It's good to remember that we are both representing Therapy Dog International when we work.

So, for the test, Ike had to demonstrate he could do everything he learned in class. Here are some of the things he had to do to pass the test:

1. Demonstrate he was calm and even around people, other dogs, a wheelchair and a walker, sudden noises, and a child playing with a ball.

2. Demonstrate he was calm when being touched, patted, groomed, his feet touched, etc.

3. Demonstrate he was calm when left alone with a stranger, and when meeting a strange dog.

4. Demonstrate he was obedient. This included sit, stay, down, down-stay, recall. Here's Ike on his  down-stay during a practice time before the test. He is looking quite relaxed! I had butterflies.

5. Heal nicely on lead, including about turns, right turns and left turns.

6.  Be able to "Leave it" when walking by food on the floor, or offered in hand. While this sounds difficult, it isn't that hard because they are on leash when you do this, and you just keep walking past the food on the floor real fast! lol. Most dogs look at it but they shouldn't lunge or grab.

Although Ike already passed basic obedience classes, it was helpful to have attended classes specifically for therapy dog testing. The other dogs, people, noises and especially smells were distractions all the dogs had to get used to working around.

During the test, outside Santa rode by behind a firetruck.

And then the mailman came and peeked in the windows.

I thought all the dogs would lose it right then and there! But they all did great.

Ike did great and we were so excited when the judge gave him his certificate.

Here is Ike and his best buddy and fellow graduate Moses.

If your dog is calm and enjoys being around other people, gets along well with other dogs, and enjoys obedience work, you might want to consider becoming a therapy dog too. We;re looking forward to going out and getting to work and hopefully putting some smiles on people's faces.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Treat dispensing toys help reduce boredom

My son's puppy (he's 18 months old, but still a puppy!) Zeke gets bored when he's home alone.
So what does a bored puppy do?

Zeke ate a shoe.

and this:
Zeke ate an electric shaver.

So I've been recommending to my son that he leave Zeke with some challenging, treat dispensing toys. What are the advantages?

1. Provides mental stimulation
2. Provides physical activity
3. Reduces boredom
4. May reduce boredom-related behaviors such as barking and ripping apart the furniture.

Recently sent us a PetSafe Busy Buddy Twist 'n Treat treat dispensing toy to try out.

The Twist 'n Treat looks like a flying saucer, and consists of two halves that are adjustable and able to be filled with small treats.

 Twist the halves far apart to give your dog a quick reward, or twist the halves closer together for more of a challenge.

Add small treats or smear with cheese or peanut butter for even more playtime options.
The toy is durable, but not intended for vigorous chewers.

 Ike is not a strong chewer, but we tried this out on Kelly.

She was quickly able to figure out how to access the treats, so I twisted the opening smaller. She enjoyed the challenge of working out the treats until every last one was gone. She didn't become bored nor frustrated, and enjoyed playing with the toy.

This toy was a big hit with Kelly. This fun and unique treat dispenser might just make your dog happy too!

*Full disclosure- provided us with one twist 'n treat toy in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Friday, November 13, 2015

How to be a therapy Dog by Ike- part 2

Hi. Ike here.

If you read my post last week, you know that I'm going to school. Mom says that I'm going to be a therapy dog. I am so excited, because I know Mom and Dad were both helped by therapy dogs, and I want to help others too.

Last week there were only three dogs--me, a Bernese Mt. Dog, and a pit bull.
This week school was much more crowded--4 golden retrievers, 3 labradoodles, 1 Bernese Mt. Dog, 1 pit bull, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Just kidding about the partridge.

Here's me and my pal Moses.

And a new friend, Dixie. She came from Tennessee.

Things got a little crowded with the whole gang. But everyone is so focused on trying to learn, we all got along together fine. Her we are practicing our sit-stays.

Hi Dad! (He's taking the pictures!)

Moses is learning his recall. At first he got so excited, he bounded up to his handler, bouncing like a (HUGE!) bunny! The trainer helped him learn to calm down a bit.

I'm supposed to SIT in front of Mom when I do my recall. I forgot.

Here I am with the trainer. She's using me to demonstrate something. I'm more interested in looking at Mom.

What do you think? Do you think I'll ever make it as a therapy dog? It's a lot of hard work. We only have 4 more classes to learn everything we're supposed to know. Then we have a TEST. Yikes! I hope I pass.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

MUTTS is a hero for animal advocacy #MUTTS

You're never too old for comics!
Have you checked out MUTTS yet?
The comic strip MUTTS appears in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries.  I love the Mutts Comics because of the way creator Patrick McDonnell champions animal and rescue causes. Some of my favorite comics are those that make a statement about animal treatment. Here is a sample from the new book, The MUTTS Winter Diaries, making a subtle statement about the plight of chained dogs.

 Awww sweet Earl was concerned about the poor chained dog who was left outside in the cold.

MUTTS even won awards for its environmental and animal advocacy: two Genesis Awards from The Ark Trust, The HSUS Hollywood Genesis Award for Ongoing Commitment, the PETA Humanitarian Award, and a Sierra Club award. McDonnell’s website promotes his animal-and earth-friendly philosophy.

I was excited to receive a copy of the new book, The MUTTS Winter Diaries, and an adorable pink MUTTS sleep shirt. Aren't they cute?

McDonnell and his wife reside with Amelie, their rescue Jack Russell terrier, and Not Ootie, their formerly feral cat.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of The Mutts Winter Diaries, and a MUTTS sleep shirt. I had no obligation to blog about this, but chose to because I am already a fan of MUTTS. I only share products I think my readers would find interesting.

Friday, November 6, 2015

How to be a Therapy Dog, by Ike- part 1

Ike wanted to step in today to tell you all about his new venture, therapy dog classes. So, here he is!


Last week a funny thing happened. Mom and Dad brought me to a new place--a big building with lots of doggy smells. That's okay, I like new places. Especially if I'm going to get treats when I'm there. And I'm pretty sure I was going to get treats, because I could smell them in Mom's pocket.

Mom said I was going to school. Even though I'm 9, I guess I'm not too old to learn new tricks. The teacher's name is Sylvia. She looks nice. Several other dogs came into the building.

 One was a Bernese Mountain Dog named Moses. He was huge, even though his mom said he was only a year old. And there was a pit bull named Lola. I barked at her and she barked at me and Moses. Moses didn't bark at anyone. I guess we're all just trying to get to know each other. Right now, the teacher said, we're here to learn and we'll have time to meet and greet later after we get used to each other.

We practiced our sits, downs, stays and healing. Mom isn't very good at it yet, I guess she'll need to do some homework. I did my best, but sometimes all those smells, and little dropped training treats on the floor, distracted me. What's a golden to do?

Overall, I think I like school. Mom said when we're done, I have to take a test. If I pass the test, I'll get to be a certified therapy dog. I'm going to try my best to pass. I really want to help others, the way I know therapy dogs have helped my dad when he was in the hospital.

See you next week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

8 Fun Facts about Bocker the Labradoodle

Meet my pal Bocker. He is one really inspiring dog. Here's Bocker reading Faithfully Yours!

 Zeke, Ike and Kelly enjoyed reading his book, Chasing Bocker's Tale.

I thought you'd like to learn some more about him.
Eight Fun Facts about Bocker

1. He's a model. His first ad was for Tommy Hilfiger.

2. He's famous for his adorable head tilt.

3. His name came from his mom's favorite basketball team, the New York Knickerbockers.

4. He played a role on the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

5. He's a certified therapy dog.

6. He listens to children read as a "Tail Wagging Tutor."

7.  He's active in causes helping people and animal advocacy.

8. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and is now three months post-chemo and is kicking cancer's butt!

Visit Bocker's website.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Boo! Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! 
Are you scared?!

Ike and Kelly say all treats and no tricks for everyone! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Behind the Scenes book signing- wordless wednesday

Here's a behind the scenes peek at my recent book signings for Faithfully Yours, the amazing bond between us and the animals we love. One book signing was even pet friendly!

Zeke came to say hi Grandma!
We had a fun photo op we had at one of the signings. We tried to set up dogs to look like the book cover.





 How do you think we did?!

* KATE VOLZ is the winner of a signed copy of the book on the Faithfully Yours blog tour book giveaway.

Join the Blog Paws Wordless Wednesday blog hop!