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Category Archives for Dog Product Review

Good Dog Company Stuff I Dig

I’m continuing my good karma promotional week here at Champion of My Heart with links to The Good Dog Company, which is based here in Colorado. They make really neat collars, leashes and dog toys from hemp materials. The company founder has been a generous donor to our local fire department fund raisers, and people go nuts bidding on these items.

In addition to their original hemp canvas pieces, they now offer strong, soft collars, leashes and even harnesses from hemp corduroy.

They sell wholesale mostly to boutique dog stores, so you’ll have to look around to find them. But, you can check out the main site (link above) to get an idea of what’s out there.

The founder’s two black labs — Ruby and Howard — test all the products.

 

One-Pot Meal Dinner Solutions

I had the opportunity recently to interview a fellow writer (Elizabeth Yarnell) here in Colorado about her new cookbook: “Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking.” If you think of Dutch oven cooking as taking all day, think again. These nutritionally balanced, whole food meals take very little prep time and only 30-45 minutes to cook.

gpm_cover-08

I cannot scoop myself by sharing details of the article I wrote, but I CAN recommend you check out her website, blog, etc. where you can find free cooking demo videos and all kinds of nifty details about her patented cooking method (seriously … she holds an inventor’s patent).

Glorious One-Pot Meals

Effortless Eating Blog

You can pre-order the new edition of Elizabeth’s cookbook and save money. It’s slated for release on January 6, 2009 … just in time for New Year’s resolutions!

This idea of finding healthy meals ready quickly after a long day of trialing is another idea I wanted to do for Clean Run that they didn’t go for. So, I’ll continue my quest for meal ideas you might like and share them now and again.

FYI – I found my Dutch oven at a garage sale for WAY cheaper than you can buy the new fancy ones in a store or even online. It’s not terribly pretty, but it works just fine for these easy recipes.

Healthy Omega Treats in Action

The PR folks over at Cardinal Laboratories in California sent me some Healthy Omega Treats for Dogs last week so that I could try them and write a product review. What better test of a dog snack’s viability than an emergency situation. Right? Right. Here is our adventure.

Last Thursday, I hunkered down to work without much fanfare. No workout, no shower. Just wake up and work. (It’s a little secret of the freelance community. Sometimes, being clean isn’t a prerequisite.)

Then, 5 1/2 hours into my marathon workday, Ginko started barking inside because Lilly was barking outside. I popped up to see what was what. And, the roadside scene scared me.

Two of my neighbor’s 4 dogs were loping up the road. Now, typically our mild-mannered rural road isn’t freeway scary, but as we learned recently, the road is still dangerous. And, that particular day, there were huge dump trucks and even-bigger 18-wheel trailer trucks hauling a lot of something up the road. In a near-constant parade of large-vehicle traffic, they’d been blasting up and down all day.

I convinced Lilly to come inside, which she did happily after Belle (a great dane) and Clyde (a chocolate lab) passed by. Then, desite my pajama’d state, I mounted a rescue.

belle

[Yes, she is wearing an invisible fence shock collar … :o(] Belle, who longtime readers might recognize as a parallel walking game friend of Lilly’s

** Photo of Clyde not available.

I got both my dogs into the basement, threw on some shoes, grabbed my gate opener, tore open the bag of Healthy Omega Treats for Dogs and ran like a wild woman for the road.

Belle, who isn’t famous for coming to strangers, began running toward me until she thought better of it and stopped right in the middle of the road.

All my non-threatening posturing — like crouching down, not looking her in the eye — did not help. Even when I tried to bridge the gap between us by tossing these treats on the ground, she didn’t budge.

So, I turned my attention to Clyde, who clearly thought the treats were a GREAT idea.

It took some serious strength and leverage to hold onto him once he got close enough because Clyde is ONE STRONG boy. (My back muscles hurt for days.)

Belle, on the other hand, was still having none of it and ran back toward her home. Generally, a good sign, but there were two big trucks coming up the road.

Using the universal slow-the-@#$@#-down arm signals, I got the drivers to realize she was on/near the road. (I’m sure waving wildly while wearing pajamas in the middle of the afternoon made me quite a sight … sorry … photo of that also not available.)

While I held onto Clyde, the trucks crept by us.

Once the coast was clear, I figured it was safe to let Clyde loose since he now was WELL AWARE I had food. He stayed right with me and ate while we walked back up the road.

Belle realized thanks to Clyde’s happy response that I must be an OK person, so she came trotting up to snack and walk too.

I got both of them safely onto our fenced property and then later home. I can only hope if my dogs ever get out someone will have as much luck as I did.

So, if the true test of a dog treat is luring a dog who does NOT know you well to safety, then I’d say they pass the test.

Since the treats are far too big for use in high-volume reward training, I’m cutting the remaining ones into smaller pieces to feed Lilly during our various training sessions. They are soft enough to cut with scissors, but hard enough not to be messy.

 

The hair a-flying

It’s finally starting to warm up around here. Summer, it seems, may have finally arrived. And, that means … Lilly is losing her winter undercoat. I knew the winter was rough (cold, windy, long), but the extent of hair she’s losing, tells me that her little body knew it too.

I’m pulling brushful, after brushful, after brushful out of her. Most of it comes from her back and butt. But, day after day, I brush and brush, and the hair still keeps coming. I considered taking a photo of all the hair, but really … it’s pretty icky and would be weird.

I could convince myself this is related to possible thyroid problems, but I’m pretty confident it’s just summer.

So, the flowers are blooming, the pastures are drying out, and Lilly is throwing off hair like Mardi Gras beads on Bourbon Street. It’s all over everything, including me. It’s quite a look I’ve got going.

If it wouldn’t completely freak her out, I’d take her for that de-shedding kind of grooming. The one I’ve heard about most is called Furminator. Many of the boarding kennels I write about for a trade magazine use it. But, I checked, and you can buy the special brush at Petsmart and Petco.

SO, on my way home from Karen Quinn’s Holly Would Dream book launch party in Colorado, I stopped and bought one.

Tangent alert!
There I was dressed like Audrey Hepburn (black dress, pearl earrings, heels) in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday shopping for dog grooming tools. I also hit the Home Depot for a few more seeds and plants for my vegetable garden in the greenhouse. I was quite a sight standing in line next to a bunch of landscaping contractor guys, dressed like a 1950s movie icon. If none of this makes sense, read this post.

Anyway, the excursion resulted in 2 surprises. First of all, they practically have to keep the Furminator brushes under lock and key because so many get stolen. Secondly, the small one is just over $40 with tax. Not kidding.

If the hair situation wasn’t so dire, and if I wasn’t taking one for the team, I probably would have said, “Forget it,” but in the spirit of furthering our collective knowledge … I bought one.

It gets crazy amounts of hair off. Makes me wonder if it cuts or razors the hair in some way because what comes off Lilly is so fine, but the promo text says that’s not the case.

My user recommendation is to clean off the brush/comb after every pass through the dog’s coat. Otherwise, all the loose/removed hair sits on top of the coat or flies around. If you pull the hair off after each pass, you can make a somewhat tidy pile. I recommend doing this outside.

If you dig around, documents explain that it’s an easier form of “carding,” a dog’s coat, which pulls undercoat without damaging the top coat. Care to comment on what that might mean?

Here’s a link to the patent summary. What throws me is the mention of a “blade,” which sounds like a cutting tool to the word girl inside, but I’ll take their word for it, I guess. As long as it gets the hair off outside, rather than all over my house.

If you like corporate intrigue … it looks like Furminator is suing someone for patent infringement.

Product Review: ezleash

I’m starting to get some product review requests. I think it has more to do with my connections to the dog magazine and other media community than the blog, but I’m happy to play with dog products and share my thoughts with all of you.

Because I’m a working journalist, I’ll mention that for ethical reasons I cannot accept free products for personal use. So, should I decide to keep any of the products for Lilly, I will either pay for the product or make a donation to a local humane society or shelter for an equal amount. Everything I try but do not keep, I will donate to an appropriate local rescue group or rescued dog.

Background on EZ Products
EZLeashes are padded martingale-style collars (limited slip) and leashes in one. You can also get just an EZCollar, if you prefer to use your own leash. The company also makes EZHarnesses, but since I do not use harnesses I loaned the demo one to our trainer Gigi to use on her Jack Russell and report back. I’ve not heard if she likes it yet or not.

Puppy and Pet Products International (PAPPI) recently lost its shelf space for EZ products at Petco, when 2,000-3,000 item sales per month did not meet the store’s criteria. So, the EZ products are sold at some regional, smaller retailers. You can also buy them directly online at www.ezleash.com. On the site, you can learn a bunch more, read their FAQ, and even watch videos of the products in use. So, check it out.

Conceptually Speaking
These padded products are designed to protect tender areas of a dog’s body from injury during walks. Love that.

For agility and other uses, I also LOVE the idea of an easy-to-use leash and collar in one. For years, I’ve used a regular rope-style slip lead with Lilly when we’re on and off leash during training. Still … I’ve always felt bad that to the uninitiated it looks like a regular “choke” set-up. And, I hate to give anyone the idea choke training is OK (especially for a fearful dog).

These EZ products are perfect for dogs who do not wear a collar round-the-clock. Personally, I’m not one of those people. Blame it on the years watching “lost” animals be put down in the shelter, but I cannot stand to see my dogs without a collar and tags on. They are microchipped, but I’d rather they have my name and number on their person too. Dogs get loose a lot where we live, and unless I happen to know the dog, it really helps to have an ID to use so that I can either bring him home or call his parents.

I know there are arguments about collar dangers, tags getting caught, etc. I’m just saying that’s not my gig … particularly with a dog like Lilly who has such a strong flee instinct.

I also liked that some of the products come with built-in swivels. If you have a dog like Lilly who spins a lot, the idea of a leash not getting looped up is a good one. (Then, I realized that some of the nicer leashes I have at home already swivel. I’ve been using the wrong one. Doh!)

So, all in all, I totally get the concepts behind these EZ products. I’m 100% on board.

In Practice
In daily use, however, I had trouble. It’s entirely possible that user error is involved, but here’s what I struggled with or worried about in the 5 or more outings each that Lilly and I made with an ezleash (with built in swivel) and with the ezcollar used with one of our leashes from home.

First, I’m not a fan of nylon on the hand. Yes, it’s soft and smooth, but if your dog bolts (as Lilly is likely to do if something scares her), it’s Leash Burn City. And, that’s a pain you never forget.

Longtime readers may recall that our first agility instructor insisted that dogs be off-leash but that they drag slender nylon ropes. After that first night, my hands were so cut up and burned that I cried all the way home. Not an auspicious start to our agility career. In fact, I sometimes wonder if that one night of me being so upset isn’t what set Lilly on this awful path.

Second, for the life of me, I could not keep the collar from spinning around. The black sliding thing that sizes the collar slipped a fair amount. BUT, even when it didn’t, the padded part ended up on the side or back of Lilly’s neck, which defeats the purpose of the padding.

If I really clamped down on the slider, then Lilly spent the entire walk trying to shake the darn thing off. You can tell by her ear position and tight mouth that she isn’t happy with the collar cinched up.

leash shots 002

Keep in mind that Lilly looks at me almost the entire time we’re walking, so it’s possible all that looking up is what made the collar shift around. So, maybe if you have a dog that looks ahead most of the time, it’d be a better match for you.

And, finally, the swivel attachment and/or spot where you hook your own leash puts a heavy, metal thing in a weird place. I not only didn’t like feeling that weight swinging around on the light nylon leash, but I worried sick that it would pop up and either conk Lilly on the head or break a tooth. See how it’s right there?

leash shots 001

All of the promo photos of the products show dogs with the leashes fully taunt, which puts the swivel and/or leash connection well behind the dog. And, that makes sense, if you have a dog who pulls or is out front all the time. You’d want to protect his neck or his chest with the lovely padding.

So, maybe Lilly and I just aren’t the right size. If she was smaller and I was taller, the weighted point would fall elsewhere. OR, if she was really tall, like our friend Katie the Borzoi, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. But, for us, the geometry of it was all wrong.

Lilly and I also may not have the right walking style for this product. She’s pretty much right there next to me (on either side). So, the swivel and/or leash attachment weighs the leash down so much that both of us tripped on occasion, and I sometimes popped up the heavy spot with my shins.

All that said, I do like the product, but it’s just NOT a good match for me and Lilly. As my writer friends are fond of saying about working with various editors or magazines, “Your mileage may vary.”

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