The Quest for the Perfect Toy (after this FAILURE!)

I  – along with most dog owners – am always on a quest.  I’m always searching for “it”.  “The one.” The one that will be perfect – safe and fun, indestructible and entertaining….I am (of course!) referring to my quest for THE perfect dog toy.

Buffy with her new toy (Big Mouth Rings)...notice the graveyard of old, destroyed toys in the background

Today, pet super stores, dog boutiques, and online suppliers have made finding “the one” quite a daunting task.  I’m very concerned with durability – my pooch tends to rip into things pretty easily, and I’ve struggled more than once to pull one of those little plastic squeakies out of the back of her mouth.  While I would love to be able to say money isn’t a factor when buying a toy, let’s get real!  I’m not about to throw down $15-$20 for something that will be in the trash by the end of the week (or day!)  Most important, though, is the toy getting Buffy’s stamp of approval.

Buffy’s all time FAVORITE toy is her “Buffy Ball”  (also known as the Hol-ee Roller)  I really cannot say enough wonderful things about this toy.  I love it, Buffy loves it….it can be used inside or out….and best of all, after months of use it still isn’t broken (snagged, ripped, or been chewed through.)  The Hol-ee Roller is made by the pet supply company, JW.  Since I had such great success with their brand, I decided to try out their Big Mouth Rings.

Big Mouth Rings

The Big Mouth Rings (according to their packaging and the JW website) are for “champion chewers” and are for when “you need a toy that can stand up and act tough in the long run.”  I hate to say this, but I was extremely disappointed.  Within less than 30 minutes, Buffy had shredded the center ring.  Black rubber was EVERYWHERE; she had easily torn it to bits.  While I don’t worry too much about Buffy herself ingesting small pieces (she is more of a destroy it and leave it gal), I cannot imagine what these not-so-tiny pieces of rubber would do to a pup if swallowed.  (Not to mention what they would do when my vacuum tried to swallow them!)

Now, let me just say – Buffy LOVED this toy (in its original state, or now in its three separate pieces.)  Though I am annoyed to find bits of black and pink plastic all over my living room, she is still thoroughly entertained by toy.  I just find it frustrating to spend money on something that is specifically marketed to “power chewers” that does not last an hour.

So my quest for a toy as beloved as the Buffy Ball continues….

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Diabetes & Your Pet – Drop the Pounds, Fight the Disease

So, you know the basics about diabetes in your pets and how serious it is here in this country.  You also know that obesity plays a HUGE ugly role in the disease.  What is the best way to fight obesity??  EXERCISE!

Now, as a dog walker, I am obviously going to tell you the best, easiest, cheapest, fun-est way to exercise your dog is by simply taking him or her for a walk.  Not only are you going to see the pounds drop off your pooch, you are going to see the bond between the two of your strengthen.  (Oh, and it’s healthy for you too!)  But maybe you don’t like to do things the easy way!  Maybe you have money burning a hole in your pocket, and dog exercise equipment is what you really love to spend your hard-earned cash on.  No worries!  We’ve got some great suggestions for you:

Go Pet Treadwheelswww.gopetusa.com

Living in New York City, the only pets I had time (or money!) for were two mice.  Those two gals LOVED their wheel and had different, intricate games they would play together using it.  (It was really something to watch…and video of them on their wheel was used as a backdrop for a modern dance piece performed on Broadway…making their NYC performance career more successful than my own!)  Go Pet has taken this mouse-running-on-a-wheel-for-exercise concept and made it dog sized.  While this seems like a clever idea, I just can’t imagine dogs really using this.  (There is even video of a cat running in one of these things on their website! )  The site advertises this as a great way for dogs to exercise when their parents are away (would a pup or cat really do that??) or when the weather is bad, but $475-$1125 seems a lot to pay so that you can sit on your booty while your pet works up a sweat.  On the other hand, I bet it is adorably entertaining to see your dog running on a big hamster wheel!

Canine Fitness Camp – Morris Animal Innwww.morrisanimalinn.com

Reading about Morris Animal Inn’s Weight Loss and Fitness Camp made me wonder if I could go too!  For about $50/day, Fido enjoy swimming, nature hikes, healthy fruit smoothies….along with “pampering massages“, “Doga“, and “Pawlates“.  (Ok, seriously…I REALLY want to go!)  I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know how hard it can be to start a diet/exercise plan – and this seems like the perfect way to kickstart your pooch’s regime.  This camp is sure to get your dog excited about getting out and being active…and the excitement is sure to carry over once you take your pup back home.

Chase It Pet Productswww.chaseit.com

This is another familiar pet toy, super sized!  Cats love these string toys, but for some reason the dog sized version of this just seems ridiculous.  I just can’t see myself lugging this fishing-pole-like contraption to the park…when an old-fashioned ball seems like it would get my pup going just as well.  They retail for about $25 – which isn’t a crazy amount to spend on something for my pet – but seems a bit over priced for something that looks like a fifth grader made it for Invention Convention.  (Does anyone know what I’m talking about?)

So get your dog running on that wheel, send them to boot camp, or get them jumping for joy over a toy!  Go to the park, around the block, or just out in the backyard.  Exercising with a buddy is always more fun – and it will be good for you AND man’s best friend to get some daily cardio in.  By taking such a simple step, you will make a giant leap in preventing diabetes in your pup.

For more information on obesity in pets and how to prevent it – visit The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website.  It’s a great resource!

PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY – Ruff Wear Performance Dog Gear

If there is one thing I’ve learned from working with dogs, it’s that all leashes and collars are not created equal.  I’ve seen collar clasps snap, chains come loose, leashes chewed through.  I’ve heard more than my fair share of “We thought he was going to get that cat when he escaped!” or “How did she destroy ANOTHER leash?!”  So they plunk more money into another poorly made pet store product…and worse, they continue to stress.

Enter Ruff Wear to save the day!  From the moment I held one of their leashes in my hand, I could feel the difference.  (And not to brag, but I’ve held my fair share of leashes….one might even say I’m somewhat of an expert.)  Ruff Wear products are made  “For Dogs on the Go”, and they aren’t kidding!  Sure, they have extra durable, long-lasting leashes, beds, toys, collars, and bowls…but they also have cool things like dog life jackets, boots, packs, and harnesses.  If these products can stand up to hiking, swimming, camping, and mountain climbing, think of how long they are going to last you and your pup on those daily walks around the neighborhood.

Square Ball - $17.95

I found countless amazing products on this site.  One of my favorites was the SquareBall rubber dog toy.  The square shape is ingenious (and unique)  and sure to keep your dog guessing where the next bounce will take it.  It’s also durable and made for high energy dogs.  It’s also ADORABLE! (Yes, that is an important factor when I buy toys for Buffy.)

Otis - on one of his many adventures!

As most of you regular readers already understand, I need to know a company’s background before I give it my 100% support (by recommending it to you or putting it up on this blog.)  I want to make sure the people who are making the products and running the business are just as passionate (a.k.a. crazy) about dogs as I am.  Patrick Kruse, Ruff Wear’s Owner and Founder, definitely passes the test.  His Australian Cattle Dog, Otis, was the inspiration for many of Ruff Wear’s products and helped test gear items out in the field.  I have to admit, reading about Otis made me a bit jealous of his life….this dog went everywhere and did so many cool things (much more exciting than my own life!) Patrick’s focus is making products that will help you share adventures and experiences with your pooch….that’s a mission statement I can get behind!

PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY!

Flat Out Leash - $29.95 Or FREE if you win our PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY

The folks over at Ruff Wear were kind enough to send us one of their SUPER awesome Flat Out Dog Leashes to give out to a lucky blog reader.  I’ve tried this leash, and it is amazing.  It’s like three leashes in one: (1) Use it like a normal leash (2) This one is my favorite – clip it around you like a belt and you can walk HANDS FREE!  (3) Clip it around something fixed if you need to leave your pup for a minute or two.  GENIUS!

So you want a FREE Flat Out Leash???  Here are the super easy ways to enter our contest:

(1) Comment on this post. (Do you already have a Ruff Wear product?  Have you heard of them?  TELL US!)

(2) Tweet about us!  (Tweet about this blog or a link to this post…make sure to #PAWLIDAY or tweet @WandWHouston)

(3) “Like” us on Facebook

We will be accepting entries December 10- December 20, 2011.  Entries will be assigned a number in the order they are received and a  number will be chosen at random (by my trusty computer.) We will announce the winner on the blog and reach out to the winner however they submitted their entry.  Enter as many times as you like.

Good luck!  Happy PAW-LIDAYS!

PAW-LIDAY DEAL – Fido’s Laundry

There are many words I would use to describe the dog apparel I have seen in the past – cute, fun, adorable.  Not until I discovered Fido’s Laundry did I ever think I would be using the word “hip” to describe doggy duds.

Living in Brooklyn for many years, I think I know a thing or two about hipsters.  Yes, they are discussing some band you’ve never heard of.  Yes, they spent an insane amount of time making their hair look like that.  And yes….you secretly want that awesome t-shirt they are sporting.

Rolling Bones Tee - $20 ($17 with your PAW-LIDAY discount!)

Now, you can can score some clothing for your dog that has that same vibe.  Fido’s Laundry has managed to recreate some of the most recognizable band t-shirts while putting a poochie spin on them.  Rolling Stones?  Try Rolling Bones!  Foo Fighters?  No, no no – Poo Fighters!  If comic books are more your thing, check out the Batman Vintage Tee….guaranteed to make all those nerdy-in-a-cool-way friends jealous.

Champagne anyone? Dog Perignon Toy - $11.95 ($10.15 with the PAW-LIDAY discount!)

What I love about Fido’s Laundry is that they have sizes for large dogs.  I find it challenging to find fun outfits for my Buffy (who weighs 55 pounds…not exactly huge!) I was so excited to see that most of these adorable tees come in sizes XXS to XXL.  (P.S. I am definitely using the Pawliday coupon code to get Buffy their Brooklyn Tee Shirt!)

PAW-LIDAY DEAL!  Use coupon code wags at checkout and get 15% off.  That’s 15% off YOUR ENTIRE ORDER!  Fido’s Laundry has been kind enough to extend this amazing deal to everything on their site.  That means you can get t-shirts, bowls, collars, leashes, toys, cashmere leg warmers (yes!  they seriously have those!) all for 15% off! Visit www.fidoslaundry.com and get shopping….but I warn you, you will spend WAY too much time browsing their apparel section and you WILL have to buy something.

Just don’t blame us if your dog starts watching independent films and insists you buy him a copy of On The Road.  (We warned you these were hip!)

Fresh in the City Collar - $22 ($18.70 with your PAW-LIDAY discount!)

PAW-LIDAY DEAL – Dog Tuff Durable Dog Toys & Accessories

Our very first PAW-LIDAY deal comes to you from Dog Tuff.  Let me tell you why I LOVE this site.  First of all…I love family run businesses.  When a company is family owned and operated, you can be guaranteed that you are going to get great products and great service.  These people aren’t just minimum wage employees working to collect a paycheck (not that all retail chain employees are!), but they are in the biz because they love it.  In this case, we know they adore dogs, and dog lovers are just the kind of entrepeneurs we want to support!

Better than that – they guarantee all of their products are 100% safe.  They offer products that they are familiar with, and they research the product before they even think about putting it on their site.  That is not something many companies can brag about.  Plus than can brag about their BIG savings…we are talking in the neighborhood of 60% off!

Glob Zombie Monsters - $12.75 ($10.85 with our PAW-LIDAY deal!)

So I bet you’re thinking that these “big savings” are on brands that you haven’t heard of.  Think again!  How about Nylabone – for $4.75?  How about Kong Extreme toys starting at $4.75??  I bet I have your attention now!

My favorite part of the site, though, is that “Tuff Tested” tab.  (Say that three times fast!)  These guys have made your hunt for the durable toy that much easier and separated toys that are “perfect for the aggressive chewer.”  In other words – your dog won’t rip these to shreds in the first five minutes of play.  You’ll find oldies (but goodies) here, along with some toys I’d never seen on here:  Bevo the Bull, Glob Zombie Monsters, Orbee Tuff Snowball.  Don’t even get me started on their Plush Toy section.  Over 130 plushes?!?  I got lost in that section.

Bevo the Bull - $21.75 ($18.50 with our PAW-LIDAY deal!)

PAW-LIDAY DEAL!  Use coupon code wagsandwhiskers at checkout….and get 15% off all toys, collars, leashes, and pet IDs!  (Sorry, you can’t combined with any of their other awesome discounts or promotions.)  Let me also tell you, they charge $3.99 for shipping.  (I always get annoyed when I add something to my cart and the shipping is ridiculous!  I already have my heart set on that item, but sometimes I just can’t buy it because I simply refuse to pay insane shipping charges!)  The only bad news is this coupon code is only valid through Thanksgiving (11/24/11) so you have to get shopping right away.

Who doesn’t buy their pup Christmas gifts?  Shop http://www.DogTuff.com and get your dog crossed off your holiday list!!

Hol-ee Cow!

As a wee little pup, my dog LOVED to play with just about anything:  rope toys, plush, shoes that you would leave lying around.  Once she began to mature, she started to lose some of her playfulness.  When outside, tennis balls were still a sure way to get her going, but nothing seemed to get her moving like the good ol’ days.  Nothing until I discovered the Hol-ee Roller.

I had seen this toy at several friends’ and clients’ houses and didn’t give it a second thought.  A ball with holes….nothing special.  On a recent trip to Petsmart to buy Buffy a birthday present, though, this toy caught my eye.  Made from 100% natural rubber, this bounce-able toy’s holes make it easy for any size pup to grab onto.  Something new and for only around $6…I decided to give it a try. 

To say that Buffy loves this toy is a complete understatement.  She ADORES it.  It gets her moving like no other toy I have ever seen.  It’s light weight and soft enough I don’t have to worry about throwing it in the house.  It’s durable enough that she can chew on it.  It is one of the few toys I have seen her play with on her own.  (As I am writing this she is running around the house with it in her mouth….dropping it on occasion and then chasing after it!)  She never likes to be too far away from it – even in sleep.  We quickly renamed this toy the “Buffy Ball.”  Buffy will retrieve the “Buffy Ball” for anyone who comes over and utters those magic words.  Just be warned….you are not likely to get rid of her or her favorite toy anytime soon.

I would highly recommend this toy for pups and dogs alike.  Hours (and hours and hours!) of fun for just a few bucks.  Now Buffy is passed out with it in between her front paws….any toy that can wear my dog out and keep her happy is worth every penny!