“Heartography” Creates the first PhoDOGrapher

Have you guys seen this amazing new invention from Nikon?  They invented a camera that takes pictures when it detects an increased heart rate in a dog.  In other words – every time a pup gets exited to see something…it snaps a pic.  What an awesome way to get a little insight into what makes our canine companions happy (or at least what grabs their attention.)

After watching the video I was curious to see more of Grizzler’s photos.  Not too many posted (I was disappointed) but I did manage to find a few here.  I’m hoping Nikon will keep up this experiment and share some more pictures with us.  What do you think?  What would your pup snap a pic of??

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Traveling with your Pet – Online Directory

A handy online directory of all the info you’ll need when traveling with your pet – either by car or plane!  Everything from articles full of advice to direct links to pet policies at major hotels and airlines.

 

Pet Travel Policies

American Airline

British Airways

Delta 

Southwest

United

US Airways

 

Airlines JUST for dogs

Animalcouriers  (Check out their blog here!)

Pet Airways

 

Pet Friendly Hotels

Doubletree (by Hilton)

InterContinental Hotels Group 

Marriott 

Trump Hotels 

W New York P.A.W.

 

Articles on Pet Travel 

Top Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with your Pets – ASPCA

Traveling with your Dog – American Kennel Club

Cesars’s Best Dog Travel Tips – Cesar Millan

My Advice for Traveling with your Dog – WAGS & WHISKERS BLOG!

Traveling with your Pet in the Trucking Industry – Express Freight Finance

“It’s a Miracle” – The K9 Bridle

As you know – I am a dog walker.

My confession – my own dog is not a good walker.

For the first two years of her life, Buffy resided with us on the second floor of an apartment complex.  Somewhere in there, she began to see getting leashed up as the precursor to being forced outside to face a series of scary unknowns (other dogs, other people, passing cars).  To her, Leash = Bad.  I know she could enjoy walks…but I don’t even really know how to take the first step.K9 Bridle

As most of you know…I’m kinda a Twitter addict.  I LOVE it, and often spend time looking at the websites/blogs/FB Pages of my new followers.  That’s how I found K9 Bridle.  I have had some success walking “pullers” with Gentle Leaders…but it seems to irritate some of them a bit (and some of them ALOT.) I want to find the perfect tool for Buffy, and with claims like “Stops pulling- Guaranteed” and “Totally effortless control“…it seems like it was worth a shot.

Buffy waiting patiently while I read the instructions

Buffy waiting patiently while I read the instructions

At first glance, the instructions on the packaging seemed complicated…but once I had the K9 Bridle opened and a pup waiting to be leashed up, it was surprisingly easy to get it on.  Buffy looked slightly confused as to what was happening (or what was going to happen), but didn’t seem to mind and soon we were hitting the streets.

I figured that the first time I took Buffy out with it on – not only would she be her usual crazy self (pulling, running, attempting to slip her harness/collar) she would also obsessively paw at the bridle.  While she did dip her head and scratch at the bridle twice…it didn’t seem to bother her much at all.

To say the K9 Bridle is a miracle product would be an understatement.  The effect was instantaneous.  (I would like to state right here: every dog – just as every human – is different.  These are my opinions and relate to my crazy pup…BUT I do walk dogs for a living!)  She was completely and totally relaxed.  She wasn’t pulling.  She wasn’t worked up.  She wasn’t obsessing about trying to get away from every little thing.  She was just walking.  She was just sniffing in the grass.  She was just enjoying herself.

My husband (aka the photographer for this blog post) could not believe his eyes.  “It’s a miracle!” he exclaimed over and over.  He wanted to take turn walking her.  He simply did not believe it.  The K9 Bridle literally got our whole family excited about walking again. 

After our walk, I did a little more reading about the K9 Bridle and discovered exactly why it is so awesome.  I should have noticed it before – but it’s because it allows you to control your dog from the back of the neck NOT the side of the muzzle or under the chin.  (For those of you who do not have experience – this is  what a Gentle Leader does.  Don’t get me wrong – they can help with some pullers as it whips the dog back around on itself – but they are not good for simple control.)

So…if you couldn’t tell from above – I HIGHLY recommend the K9 Bridle and will continue to recommend it to all of my clients and faithful blog readers.  Feel free to post questions (or email them to me blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com) if you would like more details about my experience with what is now known in my household as “the miracle”.

k9b Close Up 2

Modeling the K9 Bridle

Check out the K9 Bridle website here their Facebook page here and their Twitter feed here.

 

Holiday Gift Idea – For the Kiddos (and Dachshund Lovers!)

I cannot believe the holidays are right around the corner!

I personally am not a big shopper.  I’ve always been one of those go-into-one-store-for-ONE-thing shoppers.  Christmas can be a bit overwhelming for me…and this year with a 6 month old I decided to get things done early.  (I always say I’m going to shop early…but this year I actually did!) 

While I do enjoy buying (and looking for great deals) online, there is just something fun about flipping through the pages of a catalog.  I love it!  So, as I find great pet themed gifts, I’m going to post them here.  I would LOVE for you to post things you come across that I (along with all those fabulous Wags & Whiskers Blog readers!) might be interested in.  Just cut and paste those links in the comment section (or if it’s something too good to not get it’s own post, email me – blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com.)

Not only fun….but maybe we can help each other find unique gifts for our pet-loving loved ones.  

3596-Silly-Sausage-Dog-and-Book-L

Look at this that I found at Olivia and Cocoa!  The “Silly Sausage Dog & Book” (item #3596 – $58.)  I love the way this gift comes packaged.  How perfect would this be for a dachshund mama or papa (or any of us dog lovers with a human kiddo to buy for!)

New FDA Regulations Will (Finally!) Protect Our Pets

Pet_Food_Aisle

While many might not find it a big deal, I think it is surprising (crazy?  scary??) that there are currently no laws that hold pet food manufacturers to any kind of safety or quality standard.   The FDA is currently trying to change all that.  A new rule (proposed just last Friday) would require manufacturing facilities to uphold proper sanitation when producing pet food.

FDA

Click Logo for Official FDA Pet Food Policy

The regulations would work at keeping harmful bacteria and “other contaminants” (not exactly sure what those contaminants are…but it’s safe to say that currently there are a whole lot of them!) out of pet food and animal feed.  They also would outline requirements to prevent food-borne illness and ensure basic overall cleanliness.

Of course, this seems to be the result of the incredible outbreak of illness due to tainted jerky treats.  (For those of you who haven’t heard, read about it here.  For the official FDA Fact Sheet click here.)  With close to 4,000 dogs sickened – and 600 dead – it seems the government can no longer ignore the issue of who exactly is to be held responsible for what we feed our animals, To me, the most insane part of this story is the fact that NO ONE KNOWS why these pets are becoming so ill and what specifically is to blame.  Really?  How is it even possible that we can’t figure it out FOR SIX YEARS.  I must assume that  literally no one even knows what the heck is going on inside these facilities.  Wow.

Not only are our pets affected when we serve them bacteria laden edibles, things like Salmonella and dioxin (which have both been tied to massive pet food recalls) can make us humans sick as well.  I honestly don’t even want to think about this in terms of animal feed…what the heck has what we eat been eating.

Considering to what degree Americans consider their dogs and cats part of the family…I’m surprised this is just becoming an issue now.  I’m embarrassed to say that just assumed (and you know what they say about assuming!) that someone was checking in on these pet food companies from time to time.  (Although when the FDA estimates it will cost the industry $130 million to get this going…I understand why.)

A final formal ruling on the issue is still four months away.

recall

The Devil’s Own Creation (Or How I Feel About Retractable Leashes)

I would like to state for the record – this post is full of my own personal opinion.  I am not a dog trainer or a veterinarian –  I am simply a woman who spends most of her time in the company of many different dogs.

Retractable leashes….how many of you use them?  If I had to guess…I would say it’s almost an even split between those of us who use a good old-fashioned leash to those of you who go for the retractable variety.

In doing a bit of research for this post (ok…I should say “in looking for articles to reinforce my own viewpoint”), I was surprised to find that even Consumer Reports had taken the time to weigh in on this issue.  While their reporting told of a retractable leash severing a dog owner’s finger (seriously….read about it here), I was actually looking for something far less dramatic to discuss with you guys.  The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan states “You should never use such a lead [retractable] for just walking your dog” on his website.   (In fact…check out that link for lots of good dog walking and retractable leash tips.)

Retractable Leash

Picture from a great post on the Dogster site

I honestly do not see the allure of retractable leashes.  When I lived in an apartment, I did use one for Buffy.  She was having trouble walking on a leash…and I tried EVERYTHING.  The retractable leash did work: she walked better with it on and it did come in handy when I couldn’t keep up with her running up and down the stairs.  (We lived on the second floor.)  We did not really use it on long walks, though.   Scarily enough, we stopped using it only after it SNAPPED.  (Thankfully, Buffy is well behaved and did not run off.)

Using clients retractable leashes is – most of the time – just plain annoying.  (Try walking 5 dogs on all on retractable leashes and you will know the definition of annoying.)  The dogs seem to use it as an excuse to run out of control and not listen to me. I have received numerous injuries from the darn things…and while most of them were minor, I did receive a bad burn on the back of both of my legs due to a crazy dog running around me and then taking off.  (And when I say burn….I mean BURN.  It was very severe.  And I am not a wimp!)

So, I have my own experiences, Cesar Millan, and about a hundred other articles backing me up in my statement “Retractable leashes are the devil’s own creation.” 

But, we all know that there are two sides to every coin.  Or, as my mom would say “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla!”

There are 2 instances I can see (and have seen from my own dog walking) where retractable leashes are not as horrible as I have lead you to believe:

Leashes

I got the retractable leash SKILLZ!

***Long walks in wide open spaces.  Not all of us live in tight, cramped cities with traffic whizzing by and 15 other people out walking their dogs at the same time on the same narrow strip of sidewalk.  Maybe you are taking your dog for a hike. Maybe you live in the middle of nowhere and it is nice to let your dog explore without having total freedom.  That kind of activity gets this dog walkers retractable leash approval.

***With calm, relaxed dogs.  Now, I don’t just mean you have a good, well behaved dog.  I mean, you have a good, well behaved, won’t-chase-after-a-squirrel, not-gonna-get-excited-by-a-loud-noise, chilled out, could-probably-be-walked-without-a-leash dog.  They exist.  If you have one…well, stop reading this right now and go over and give her a big kiss because you are LUCKY…but yes, if you have one of these dogs, retractable leash it UP.

So…maybe retractable leashes aren’t REALLY the devil’s creation.  Maybe they do have their own place and time.  I guess what this (self-proclaimed!) dog expert is wondering is, how did they become such a staple in our dog society?  Why do dog lovers feel the need to buy and use them?  These questions, dear readers, are ones that only you can answer.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

Online Dating – Gone to the Dog Lovers

Being home all day, every day, to take care of Sebastian means lots of horrible daytime TV.  Lots of horrible daytime TV means…horrible daytime TV commercials.  Seriously!  I think I’ll go insane if I see another commercial for how to turn my structured settlement or annuity into “cash now” or how to sue a pharmaceutical company for a drug that may or may not have actually caused me any physical pain.

But a few days ago I saw a commercial that not only had I never seen, it actually caught my attention.

mustlovedogsYou Must Love Dogs Dating!  (www.youmustlovedogsdating.com) “In order to find someone who is perfect for you, the key is to find someone who is passionate about similar things,” reads their website.  Must Love Dogs promises that by joining their dating site, you are guaranteed at least one thing in common with your prospective honey – a love of man’s best friend.  For just $9.95 a month (of course, you get a month trial for free!), you can set up a profile describing  you AND your dog(s), along with a photo gallery of pictures of you AND your dog(s). “Other dating sites try to sell you the opportunity to connect with the woman or man of your dreams”…but at Must Love Dogs “a connection for you and your dog is what we have to offer.”

To my surprise, in looking into details about You Must Love Dogs Dating…I found another website that caters to dog-loving singles.  Meet Dog Lovers (www.meetdoglovers.com) states “generic online dating services will have you browsing through tons of personal ads in search of that special person who shares your interest and your love of dogs”…so “stop wasting time going on dates with people who simply don’t understand the bond between you and Fido.”

To my even BIGGER surprise – a little more Googling, digging, and clicking reveled more than a few online dating sites that focus on the pet loving population, including PetPeopleMeet.com, LoveMeLoveMyPets.com, DateMyPet.com, DogLover.biz, DogGoneSingles.com, and MustLovePets.com.  Consider my mind blown.  While I knew that eHarmony and Match.com were becoming ever more socially acceptable and growing in membership by the day, I never knew there were so many pet specific ways to search for a mate.

My opinions about these dog lovin’ dating sites is conflicted.  In the infinite world of the internet and the seemingly unending number of websites we are bombarded with on the daily, I suppose the only way to get noticed is with a gimmick.  Can these sites really promise better results?  Or are they just using “dog” as a way to sucker consumers into dishing out more cash??

On the other hand, for those of us serious dog lovers…could we (or would we want to) ever be in a “til death do you part” relationship with someone who wasn’t going to understand the connection we have with our canines?  By joining a community of people who feel the same way about their pets, is that just one less thing to discuss when discussing your future?  Would it make opening up and beginning a relationship with a stranger that much easier – I mean, who can’t go on and on about their dog?  Great conversation starter!

What do you think?

(P.S. My mom met her husband on eHarmony.  She is a dog lover – he wasn’t…but now he is!  My dad met his current girlfriend on Match.com.  She is a dog lover – he isn’t…will it work out?  My husband and I met the old-fashioned way –  I am a dog lover…he just didn’t know he was!  Maybe dog lovers should mingle with the general population to create more dog loving families!) 

Gifts for Dogs, Cats, and the People Who Love Them

This holiday season,  I was determined to shop early and be organized.  (P.S. I say this EVERY year.)  For me, I found doing a little Googling and putting in a little laptop “window” shopping were the ways to get some personal and unique gifts (…and yes, I did a LOT of browsing!)  Here are a few gifts that caught my eye in the never-ending sea of gifts for pets and the humans who love them.  While I did start my shopping early…I somehow still find myself in need of present or two.  (Warning – when you get married, your “to buy for” list doubles!)

Luckily in the world of online shopping, we still have time to ship!

DJ Cat Scratching PadDJ Cat Scratching Pad – $35 – Uncommon Goods – www.uncommongoods.com

How hilarious is this?  I am a big fan of Uncommon Goods for one-of-a-kind gifts, but this has to be one of the best ones I’ve seen.  According to the site, this product “enables your furry homeslice to spin some phat, chillout beatz with hella catitute.”  I somehow think this entertains cat parents as much as their feline friends.

Lab Lovers Flannel Sheet Sets – $75-$90 -Plow & Hearth – www.plowhearth.com

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A client of mine gave me a Plow & Hearth catalog…and my eye went right to these sheets.  How cute are they?  You don’t see too many dog themed sheets that aren’t overly juvenile.  While the pictures makes them seem overly “doggy”…just the neutral sheets (without the red comforter on top) would be the perfect way to show your lab love in a mature way.  Plus, that special dog (or maybe dogS) who are lucky enough to snuggle with you will appreciate the extra soft flannel!

ASPCA TeeI Heart ASPCA Dog Tee – $6.99 – ASPCA Store – www.aspcaonlinestore.com

All readers of this blog know how much I love and believe in adoptions from shelters.  Seeing as we found our newest addition, Amigo (for those of you who don’t know who Amigo is…click here) at the ASPCA, we love to shop in the their store.  On a recent visit to their site, I saw this shirt for ONLY $6.99.  They even have it in large (which as you big dog owners know, can be hard to find.)  What a great way to show your support and give support to such a great organization.

 

Dachshund Propaganda Coffee Mug – $15 – Cafe Press – www.cafepress.com   Cafe Press Mug

I gave my mom this mugs a few Christmas ago…and she loved it!  I thought it was quirky and fun; it still makes me chuckle every time I see her drinking from it.  What can I say, we have always been dachshund lovers.  (P.S. If you haven’t shopped at Cafe Press, you should definitely check it out.  I can browse on there for hours.)

Small Santa Gift Tote - Harry BarkerSmall Santa Gift Tote – $45 – Harry Barker – www.harrybarker.com

Full disclosure – I LOVE Harry Barker.  I discovered this brand while a buyer for a specialty gift store in Chelsea, NYC…and I think they have such a clean, unique look.  (As a buyer, I was drawn to their packaging.  It is gorgeous.)  This gift tote is a great way to send love to a pet lover – especially if they are far away.  Not only does it include everything a pup could ever want from Santa (treats, toys, balls), it also comes backed in this awesome eco-tote.  (I wish I could recommend everything on their site! )

Harry Barker

Classic Silver Food Storage Canisters ($52-$60) – Harry Barker

Hemp Bone Toy - HB

Classic Hemp Bone Toy ($8-$10) – Harry Barker

Style Sniffer – Classic Hound

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It takes a lot to wow me when it comes to dog products…but Classic Hound wowed me after only a few seconds on their site.  Everything from the website layout to the collars was, well, classic.  But classic in a fresh, new way.  Does that make sense?  The designs are clean and timeless, and they even have some fun products I’ve never seen before.  Their mission statement says it succinctly – At Classic Hound, we are passionate about dogs and feel strongly that they deserve high quality gear that is as fashionable as it is durable.

You know me, I’m a sucker for the small business.  These women know their stuff (Be sure to check out their FAQ page as well – they have some great info on collars in general) and use their own dogs to test (and model!) their products.  They understand what we (the dog loving consumer) are looking for.  We want products that don’t cost an arm and leg, that will last, and that will make our pooches stand out from the pack.

Here are a few of my favs from their line:

Red Riding Hood-Blue – $34

So this is just one example of the adorably unique collars you can find at Classic Hound.  Kitschy and fun…but somehow chic at the same time.  This particular collar only comes in 1” width, but you can order it in sizes XS-XL.

Collar Roses – $10

I think this is my favorite thing on the site.  (I mean…that has got to be THE cutest dog model I’ve ever seen!)  Available in 17 different colors to fit 4 sizes of collar widths, you are guaranteed to find one that will fit your dogs style and size.

Holiday Collar Club – $150

Collar Clubs?!?  This has got to be the best gift idea ever.  The Holiday Collar Club was my favorite.  Here’s how it works – you choose 6 holidays and Classic Hound will send you a gender neutral collar to get your pup looking festive and fun.   They offer many different clubs from the Collar Sampler Club ($75 – 3 months – a new collar each month) to the Connoissuer Club ($295 – 1 year membership – each month a new, exclusive, not-for-general-sale collar will be shipped to you. They are so serious about making sure your pooch is the only one rockin’ the hip new design, no two members within 30 miles of each other will be accepted!)  This is definitely going on my Christmas wish list!

Classic Hound also offers products for humans…some of them made to match our four-legged counterparts.  Make sure to hit up the Classic Hound website and let us know what you think.  If you are already a customer, I would love your feedback on their products and customer service.

Conquering Nail Trimming – Phase 1

Everyone has (at least!) one irrational fear.  It might be heights, or spiders, or clowns.  For my dog (and now for me), it’s getting her nails trimmed.

I feel like I have a pretty firm grasp on what goes on inside a canine cranium…as firm of a grasp as any two-legged creature can, anyway.  So why-oh-why can I not comprehend why my sweet dog detest getting her nails cut the way she does?  She doesn’t mind going to the vet, getting a shot, taking a bath, etc.  I know this isn’t an uncommon problem – it’s just one that I cannot understand.

After a few attempts at an at-home mani/pedi, I decided to let the vet have a go at it.  The second time we went in, Buffy became so irrationally frantic, I decided I could not put her through this trauma again.  It was time to do my research, get the right tools and techniques, and become a master dog-nail-trimmer-er!

Phase 1 – The Tools

Ok, so borrowing my mom’s old, dull nail clippers (in retrospect) probably was not the wisest move when I did my first nail trim.  Now, I’m on the quest to find the perfect clippers.

My options are:

Guillotine Style 

These are the kind I’ve always used and always seen people use.  The nail slips into a little hoop at the end of the trimmer.  When the handles are pressed together, a blade passes across the hoop and (like a guillotine) cuts the nail.

It seems that these are easy to use, and work on most dogs regardless of size.  The downside seems to be that the blade dulls easily.  Also, it does not always cut cleanly and can split or break the nail.

“Miller’s Forge” Style

These trimmers look like scissors….except the blades are short and have semi-circular indentations.  Supposedly stronger than the guillotine style, these are better for larger dogs.

These are a good option for larger dogs, but some people have trouble using them.  You never have to replace the blade which is good (although I imagine it would eventually dull.)  General feedback on these is good!  Large Dog” Nail Trimmers are the same as Miller’s Forge trimmers, but for large dogs.  (Duh!)

Nail Grinders (PediPaws) 

Motorized tool that rounds and smooths the nail (grinds) rather than cuts.  PediPaws made this a popular do-it-yourself method of trimming nails.

From personal experience and everyone I have talked too – this is a great idea in theory but just doesn’t work.  It all boils down to the motor being too loud.  Trying to put a noisy, motorized, foreign object so near to your dog is just no good….not to mention the unfamiliar sensation of the nail actually being ground.

Please help me in choosing the right grooming tool!  While I want to make sure Buffy’s nails look fabulous, I’m more concerned about her having a positive experience.  I would love to hear exactly which style and brand you use…and be sure to take the poll below!