Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Dog or Lazy Pooch? Your Pet's Activity Level and GIVEAWAY

Do you wear a FitBit or other activity tracker? You know they're helpful in managing your activity goals. But have you ever wondered if your pet is getting enough exercise?

Petey, photo by Roy Gumpell

Are your walks together long enough? Is he running around in the yard or just laying in the sun? When you leave the house, is she actively playing or is she sleeping on your bed? If only you could have a FitBit for your dog!

Now you can, with the Poof activity tracker. AND, we're Giving Away Two Poof Activity Trackers at the end of the blog!!

Poof sent us two activity trackers to sample and review, and two to give away. We tried out the blue Bean for Petey, and the green Pea for Ernest.

Setting Up
At first I was a little intimidated because there seemed like a lot of parts. But the instructions are really clear and simple, and the parts are very straightforward.

THE BEAN- uses a USB cable to charge.
THE PEA- uses a battery

So the first step would be to determine which you would prefer, to charge or change the battery. Also, the Pea is a little bigger than the bean. The pea battery lasts up to 6 months and then you need to purchase a new battery. The bean charge lasts  6-8 weeks, then you need to recharge, which takes 4 hours to get a full charge--but you don't need to purchase anything additional. So, Question #1- would you rather have the convenience of a battery that lasts longer? Or, the cost-efficiency of recharging, but you have to remember to do it more frequently?

Getting Started
Once I put the pieces into the holders and attached them to the collar, it was time to download the app. You simply sign into the app, then hold the phone near the Poof on your dog's collar, and it connects! Easy peasy!


Reading the Data
Checking the data is quick and easy. I was able to enter multiple dogs on the same app, and could easily toggle back and forth between Ernest and Petey.  At the top was the activity level for that day, broken into hours, and a graph to show light, moderate and high activity levels. Below that was a graph to show light and deep sleep.  Then there as a bar graph showing calories. You can even enter feeding information to determine calories consumed and calories burned.

Uses for Poof
Poof is a great tool for
*helping manage your pet's weight.
*monitoring sleep patterns
*determining if they're active or sleeping when you're out of the house
*discerning if the pet sitter/walker exercised your pet for the appropriate time
* realizing if your pet is active at day care
*understanding changing activity/sleep patterns that can indicate health concerns
 *In addition, Poof has a cool feature that maps your pet's location. Plus, Poof can send out alerts for your lost pet.
 Question #2- Which way would you find Poof most helpful with your pet?

The Results
I've been having fun observing the difference in my senior dog Ernest's activity, vs. my puppy Petey's activity level! As you can imagine, Ernest has many periods of deep sleep, and mostly light activity. Petey, on the other hand, has fewer periods of sleep and a majority of high intensity activity! So far I have enjoyed seeing that my dogs basically sleep the whole time I'm out of the house, and sometimes they are awake and active in the middle of the night when I think they're sleeping. lol. It's a lot of fun to check the Poof app at the end of the day and see how they're doing!


 Would you like a Poof  activity tracker for your pet? I'm giving away one Poof bean and one Poof pea! Just enter the Rafflecoptor below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FULL DISCLOSURE: Poof sent me two Poof trackers to review and two to give away. This in no way influenced my review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Oh, the Mistakes we Make

To err is human, to forgive canine
In raising and training our dogs, we are likely to make some mistakes. I feel like I still have so much to learn in training especially. (Perhaps Petey and Ernest are training me!)

Ernest thinking, "How can I make her understand what I want?" I look clueless.

Recently, Pet Wellness Advisor asked two dozen pet bloggers "What is the biggest mistake dog owners make, and how can they fix/help this issue?"
The responses are well thought-out and reflect the experiences and expertise of a wise and diverse group. I was honored to be included in the panel. Of course, after I read each response I thought, "I wish I'd said that!"

You may be surprised by some of the answers. Here is a link to the article Pet Wellness Advisor Ask the Experts Round Up.

What are your thoughts? What do you think the biggest mistake pet parents make, and how can we help the issue?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Remembering Kelly

Recently I found myself thinking more about my dogs Ernest and Petey, and less about the ones I'd lost six months ago, and it shocked me.

Maybe it's only natural to focus on the ones who are here day in and day out. Maybe it's because Ernest has cancer and we spend a great deal of time making sure we're caring for his health and comfort. Or because Petey is a puppy and so very consuming of time and energy. Maybe it's just the way it should be. But it feels wrong.

Especially with Kelly. I don't feel this same melancholy about Ike, the 10-year old golden retriever we lost in March. Ike is still with me in many ways. I think of Ike every time I look at Ernest and Petey, and feel a deep appreciation for this wonderful breed. Ever since Brooks, the dog we adopted when he was 11-years-old, we fell in love with golden retrievers. Especially the seniors. Maybe it's still having golden retrievers that helps me keep Ike's spirit alive.

But Kelly. Sometimes Kelly feels...gone. It seems like years, decades ago that we had Kelly. Yet we lost her in March, just after losing Ike. And we'd had her longest of any dog...15 years.

The last year with Kelly had been bad. Pacing. Loss of continence. Loss of mental faculties. She didn't like to be held anymore. She fell. Panted. She stared with eyes that barely recognized me anymore. That's not the Kelly I'm remembering today.

Kelly was a good dog. She used to be joyful. She ran, wagging her tail like a helicopter, springing from bush to bush in the yard. She loved to swim. She loved to jump. She jumped up on the back of my big green chair and curled around my neck like a scarf. She cuddled. She was smart. She could solve any puzzle or problem. She was in charge, that was for sure.

 With any other dogs in the house, she was the boss. She controlled them with just a look. All our golden retrievers were respectful of her, and deferred to her leadership. But what I remember most is her empathy. She was always there beside me if ever I was down or not feeling well. There were many times when I was going through some challenge, and she just intuitively crept up and tucked herself in by my side. She was almost human, I thought. She understood me, and sometimes it seemed as though she read my thoughts.

It makes me happy to think of Kelly and how special she was, but it also makes me sad because I miss her all the more.

There once was a dog named Kelly, and we adopted her, and she was a part of the family and she loved us with everything she had. We played with her when she was young and we cared for her when she was suffering from dementia. And in March we said goodbye to her. And I love her. And I miss her.

Kelly was a good dog.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pet Parent's Guide to a Clean and Odor Free Ride and #Meguiar's Giveaway!

To be a pet parent is to have a car with:
Smudgy nose prints all over the windows.
Muddy footprints on the upholstery.
Drool down the back of the seats.
Dog hair flying everywhere.
And that ewwwww stinky dog odor.

Does this describe your vehicle? It does mine! Ernest and Petey have lent a paw or two to make sure our car has that lived-in look and smell!

It's time for a total car clean-up. Luckily, I was sent a set of high performance car care products to review....and because I think they're so fantastic, I'm giving you a chance (below) to win  a set of five  Meguiar's car care products!

We take Ernest and Petey in the car to go to the vet's, the park, training classes, visiting Grandma, and we recently took them with us on vacation. So they've certainly left their mark on (and all over!) our CRV. The trouble is, actual human beings have to ride in that car too. Most of them prefer not to sit in a rolling dog bed. It would be nice, just once, not to exit the car with dog hair all over the seat of my pants too. So we sampled and tested five items to shape up our car inside and out, and I can tell you that it's never been cleaner or fresher, except for the day it rolled off the lot. Best of all---usually you need a lot of elbow grease to make a dent in the gross dog muck, but I was pleasently suprised at how easy these prodcuts were to use, and how effective they were with very little effort from me.

Here's what we got:

Ultimate Interior Detailer -- Helped clean up mats and interior surfaces such as dashboard, vinyl handles, and seats. It really only took a swipe of the cloth to see a noticeable improvement.

Meguiar’s ®Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner--  What do you know, I can see out the windows again! Quite helpful when driving! No streaks and smudges, either. This is my favorite of all the products.

Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax --  For touch-ups and a quick cleaning on the exterior, no need to get out the hose and bucket. Simply mist on this product and wipe away with a microfiber towel to remove drool and road grime. It also adds a layer of protection to your finish. What's not to love?

Meguiar’s ® Whole Car Air Re-Freshers-- I notice that Ernest and Petey's doggy smell lingers, even after my pups have left the car. This great air freshener's "odor-eliminating technology" took care of that. Scents include sparkling berry, spiced wood, spring blossom citrus grove, summer breeze, and new car.  
Meguiar’s ® supreme shine microfiber towels--  These are the softest, car clean-up towels ever! Why use quality cleaners if you don't use a quality towel too?

Now for the fun part. You can win a set of Meguiars products too-  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!
Prize consists of:
1 3-pk microfiber towels
15.2 oz Ultimate Interior Detailer
24 oz Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner
26 oz  Waterless Wash and Wax
1 whole car air re-fresher

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Full Disclosure: Meguiar's sent me these five car care products in exchange for my  honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Special Prayer at the Western Wall

This month my dear friend Lori took a birthday vacation to the Holy Land. One day while she was there, I received a Facebook message from her. "I went to the Western Wall today."

I thought of pictures I'd seen of the Western Wall, also known by some as the Wailing Wall, a 1601-foot long limestone wall in Old City of Jerusalem.

"It's a custom to stick notes in the cracks between the stones to ask God to grant requests," she continued. "I wrote a special one for Ernest."

So tiny!
 Ernest was just diagnosed with cancer.

"There is very little space in that wall, and it's difficult to stuff the notes in the cracks, so that's why the paper is so small!" Over a million notes are placed in the Western Wall each year!

I was so touched that my friend brought such a special request across so many miles to a place so far away.

Here is the note tucked in the stones:

Ernest's note.

Thank you Lori for praying for Ernest, and for bringing this request to God in such a special way.

My friend Lori at the Western Wall.
Thank you God for hearing this prayer. We pray Ernest will be healed of his cancer. Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Petting your Dog may Save His Life

Petting your dog may save his life.

Ernest is a good boy.
 A few weeks ago Ernest was at his therapy dog prep class. In between exercises my husband was petting him, stroking his fur like we both do numerous times a day. I'm sure you do with your dog, too. But this time he felt something different. A small bump near Ernest's shoulder.

Later that night he showed me. It looked like a mosquito bite. I didn't think anything of it at all.

Mike shows me the lump.

It's barely the size of a mosquito bite.
 A few days later we were at a vet appointment for our puppy. Ernest was with us. Mike happened to mention the bump to the vet. She looked, taking more interest in it than I thought, which surprised me. "I'll aspirate it and take a look," she said, inserting a small needle into the area. To be honest, my only thought at the time was, here goes our bill up, up, up!

The next night we received a phone call about 9pm. The vet.  "It's not benign," she said. I listened, barely believing her words. I thought Ernest was fine. He had no symptoms. And the bump was so small. But now the bump had a name: mast cell tumor.

Monday Ernest had surgery to remove the tumor.

Ernest's scar on his right shoulder.
 Tissue was sent for a biopsy. Stage 1 is a pretty good prognosis. Stage 2 could go either way. Stage 3 means it has already spread. The biopsy shows it is a stage 2 tumor.

None of us know how long we have. It's no different for Ernest. We're just going to give Ernest the best, happiest, most loving life we can, and the best health care within our means. We have a wonderful veterinarian we trust and we know that she'll take good care of us. We plan to continue with therapy dog classes (only one left and then he'll take his test!) and if he passes, Ernest will fulfill his destiny (we believe) to be a therapy dog.

Paw Power!

He's recovering from surgery well. The tumor has been removed. And all because my husband was petting him one night.

So petting your dog can save his life.

And you can bet, we'll be petting Ernest a lot.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to School Treats #ChewyInfluencer

Hi there, Petey here. Wednesday I told you that I was going to school. Well, every good dog who goes to school knows that means one thing:  TREATS!!  And where does Mom get my treats? Can you guess? I spelled it out for you on Mom's refrigerator.

Mom and I and Ernest are Chewy Influencers. Chewy sent us this awesome bag of Natural Balance mini rewards treats. Whenever I do something good, Mom gives me one. They're mini size, so I don't have to worry about my figure--less than 5 calories each.

They're made with high quality proteins. The first ingredient is duck, and they also contain sweet potatoes. Other flavors available are chicken and lamb. Can I just say that learning is delicious?!

Check out these and other yummy treats on Chewy.

What flavor treats do you like when you are learning new things? Hot dogs? Cheese? Bacon?

Full Disclosure: Chewy sent us one 4oz bag mini rewards in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Petey's First Day of School

The first day of school is here for Petey. He's ready to start his training to eventually become a therapy dog.

Here he is  at 12 weeks old and ready to learn. He's enrolled in puppy kindergarten with trainer Teri. I like Teri because she emphasizes a positive learning environment. No pushing and tugging and jerking. She has lots of lessons for little puppies. Here Pete's learning "sit."

There is even recess! The pups get to zoom around and play together. If one gets to be a bit bossy or possessive with a toy, Teri intervenes, scoops the puppy up and gently holds him for a little time out. This way Petey will learn about positive interactions with other dogs. Here he's playing with Luna. And yes, Petey got a time out too.

We had a fun obstacle course too. Pete went through a tunnel and hula hoop.

Pete loves school! I hope he graduates!
 What tips do you have for Pete as he goes through puppy kindergarten?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Personalized Books About YOUR Pet

I love books about dogs--partly because I write books about dogs and the human-animal bond. But I also love reading books about dogs, and I read a lot of them. In addition, I love reading books about dogs to my granddaughters. And personalized books about my own dogs? What's not to love?!

 Look! Here are some adorable books about Ernest and Petey.

I See Me! Books released a series of illustrated, personalized rhyming storybooks narrated from YOUR dog's perspective. If My Dog Could Talk. They offered me a chance to review the books, and sent me one for Petey, Ernest, and even one as a memorial for our spaniel Kelly.

My name, other family members' names and my dog's names were incorporated into the artwork. We enjoyed seeing Petey's name on his dog bed, Ernest's name on a dog bowl, and my name on a picture on the wall. The cute little rhyme expressed our dogs' devotion to their family and the book ended with a loving message.

The books are bright and fun, well-made, with great attention to detail and personalization in multiple places, not just once or twice. 

You simply submit information such as your dog's name, and choose from 12 dog "styles" and several color options that make it easy to select a dog that looks like yours--big dogs, little furry dogs, poodley dogs, long-eared dogs, terriers, dachshunds, shepherds, hounds, etc. You can also send photographs of your dog which are printed in the front and back of the book.

You can also get the book with a gift set which includes these adorable bandanas and a dog food place mat. The bandana is happily a nice quality with the name embroidered on, not a flimsy iron-on.

I See Me! If My Dog Could Talk would be an adorable gift for a child with a new dog, to celebrate your own dog's adoption, to memorialize the loss of a pet, for a veterinarian or pet sitter, or just for yourself to enjoy. Read it to someone you love...or maybe even a dog you love!

Check out the dog illustrations on this page. Which dog looks closest to your dog? Which color would you choose?

Your purchase will help an animal organization. This month, I See Me! will donate proceeds to Minnesota's Secondhand Hounds. If you order this month, use the code HOUND and you'll get 10% off your purchase, good through the month of August.

I See Me! also makes books for children to celebrate birthdays, baptisms, and other occasions, and other personalized products such as puzzles, lunchboxes and stickers.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was sent 2 gift sets and one additional book in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Tale of Socializing Petey

One of the most important things we can do with a new puppy, I learned, is to socialize him. And I nearly broke into a cold sweat when I read that the age a pup needs to be socialized is from about 3 weeks until 16 weeks, and after that the window is shut, permanently. Oh my gosh!  What if I blow it. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right?

I'm cute, right? Why do I need anything else?
If we expose our puppies during this time to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, people and other dogs, we can help them learn not to be fearful or anxious when faced with something new.
Well-socialized dogs are less likely to react with fear or aggression. I must admit I think often about what Petey's temperament will be like when he's older. Sure, he's adorable now, and funny and sweet and playful. But what about when he is a puppy adolescent? And adult? I feel a huge responsibility to do everything I can to help ensure Petey is a friendly and happy and well behaved dog, and one who gets along with Ernest too. We've been adopting senior dogs, who come to us pretty much as they are (and as a side note, I've been amazed that after all they've gone through, they're almost always well behaved and loving,). A puppy is different. We play a significant role in his developmental process. Oh Petey, the pressure!

So we've enrolled him in puppy manners class, a kind of puppy Kindergarten. (More about that in future posts.) There are also puppy playgroups where the pups can learn to interact in a safe, supervised environment. And then there's the socializing. We walk Ernest and Petey in our urban neighborhood a couple times a day. Because of this, Petey is exposed to cats, squirrels, dogs, people, children, buses, birds, cars whizzing by, sirens, fallen crab apples, puddles, sewer grates, trash cans, motorcycles, blowing leaves, garbage trucks and more. With Ernest's gentle lead, Petey trots along confidently.

Side by side. Ernest is a good calming presence.
We also take him out almost every day. To Great-grandma's. To friend's houses. To parks. And sometimes he gets to help me do the shopping. Wheeling him around in a cart at the pet food store, we attract many other shoppers who squeal at his puppiness and can't resist patting him. I welcome their attention, because they're helping me socialize him. Petey enjoys the outing because I usually can't resist letting him pick out a toy.

I like shopping with Mom.

Socialize-schmocialize. Let me at these toys!
Pretty soon Petey will be entering the next stage of puppyhood.
We'll get through it together.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Great photos with your dog? Try the Pooch Selfie.

Have you ever wanted to take better pictures with your dog? But your dog gets distracted and is looking everywhere but the camera? Have you ever thought you could get a good picture, if only you could stick your dog's favorite toy on top of the phone? Well, that's the theory behind the Pooch Selfie!

Smile! sent us a Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment so we could try for ourselves. Basically, it's a clip that snaps onto your smartphone or phone case, and easily holds a tennis ball. (retail $12.99).

You can insert your own tennis ball if this one gets demolished!

I don't know what they did to this tennis ball, but Ernest went crazy! All he wanted to do was to EAT TENNIS BALL NOW! He is generally a mellow dog, so his excitement surprised me.

Tastes good to me, Mom.

You wanted a picture of my canines, didn't you?

Petey didn't even seem to notice the ball at first, but when he did, he took a nibble. With his miniscule puppy attention span, nothing keeps his interest for more than a split second. He can't stay still either, so a posed picture is still hit or miss.

I'm teething, you can't blame me.

Here are our selfies we managed to get:

Close up with Ernest.

Close up with Petey. Very close up!

Petey noticed the tennis ball.

I love you Mom. (Tennis Ball!)
PROS: The product is sturdy and easy to use. Dogs in my experience were excited by the presence of the tennis ball.
CONS: If your dog loves tennis balls, he might become too excited and do anything BUT sit still and pose for a picture.

CONCLUSION: Pooch Selfie is a great idea for any dog who would be interested enough to look at the tennis ball, but not so excited by it that he has to play with it. The dogs definitely did look at it. With training, I think they would learn to stay calm. It's definitely worth trying!

P.S. I found it amusing that the package states: "Not liable for damage to phones or actions of dogs while device is being used."

FULL DISCLOSURE: provided us with one Pooch Selfie in exchange for our honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.