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News: Guest Posts
More Food Trucks for Pups
Chicago and Atlanta take a bite out of the moveable feast

When we learned about Phydough, a dog-centric food truck in Los Angeles, we thought it was a pretty great idea. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Bringing dog food and treats, especially canine ice cream, to the curbs of America appears to be an innovation whose time has come.

In the meantime, we’ve learned about a couple other roving treat vans we wanted to tell you about. (And we’d love to know about any more—tell us if there’s one in your city.)

This spring, Fido to Go launched a “gourmutt food truck” in Chicago, proffering natural, healthy dog treats, including hand-crafted canine cookies and doggy ice cream. Fido to Go is the brainchild of owner/founders Tracy Werner and Donna Santucci. Werner has owned and operated Natural Pet Market, a health food store for cats and dogs, in Wheaton, Ill., for nearly a decade, and Santucci has been a groomer for several years. Both women are also Red Cross certified in animal CPR and First Aid.

Fido to Go’s menu includes grain- and gluten-free baked cookies, whole-wheat biscuits and a variety of frozen treats. Plus, Fido to Go merchandise bags can be repurposed as (biodegradable) pet waste bags.

Werner and Santucci are passionate about helping homeless pets and often foster animals themselves. Their business cards double as trading cards, and feature adoptable dogs from local shelters, as well as customers’ four-legged family members. Follow Fido to Go’s daily routes and events on Facebook and Twitter @fidotogo. and look for the big yellow truck at Chicago’s Gay Pride Fest, June 24-25.

Meanwhile, Kim Bohstedt is in the process of getting her Poochsicles (and Bark Bites) truck ready for the streets of Atlanta. Although she’s a dog-lover, assisted by canine taste-testers at home, this is Bohstedt’s first foray into an animal-centered business.

Possibly as soon as next week, Poochsicles will be serving doggie ice cream, all natural, organic, corn-free, soy-free and dairy-free baked goods, as well selling retail items such as poop bags and fetch toys. The truck is schedule to debut next Saturday, June 25 at PAWS Atlanta.

Follow Bohstedt on Facebook and Twitter @poochsicles.

News: Guest Posts
Does Your Dog Have the Best Roommate in You?
Tell it to a camera for the chance to win a year rent-free

The folks at Apartments.com are back with their third annual Roommate of the Year Contest. It’s not our contest but how can I pass up a chance to see a loyal Bark reader and his or her faithful co-pilot(s) reaping the benefits of a full rent-free year—or $10,000 in cash?! That’s a lot of kibble. And so far, there aren’t that many entries, especially in the pet category.

So think of all of the ways that you are your dog’s dream roommate—long walks (even in the pouring  rain), agility camp, home-baked treats, canine massage, off-leash play dates, etc. Then, tell it to the video camera. (Check out Kathryn M. and Charlie's story, a finalist from last year.) Even if you don’t clinch the title, your story of outstanding dog care might inspire others to raise their game.

Submit your video to Apartments.com’s Roommate of the Year Contest by noon, June 13, 2011 in “The Purr-fect Pet Owner” category. We’d love a preview, if you want to share your entry with us, send it to webeditor@thebark.com. Maybe we’ll post it here. Good luck.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Recycled Canine Couture
High fashion for dogs

Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Chanel and Burberry are all sources of material for Anastasia Torres-Gil’s creations. She designs high fashion for dogs using items from her own closet or from thrift stores, sticking to the motto, “If I wouldn’t wear it myself, I wouldn’t put it on a dog.” Her company is called My Favorite Couture.

Torres-Gil is amused by seeing dogs wearing fancy items, such as a Louis Vuitton handbag that has been redesigned into a pillbox hat. Her creativity involves designing, painting, and accessorizing clothing for dogs. Twenty-five percent of her sales are donated to a local SPCA.

What’s your reaction to dogs dressed in this way?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Did Your Dog Eat Your Tax Check?
What about your homework?

Teaching at a university, I hear a veritable potpourri of excuses about unfinished and late homework. It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s pure fiction. Honestly, I suspect that even some of the most outlandish stories are not made up because I accept that life is full of the strange and the unexpected.

  One student told me that the dog ate her homework. She even presented me with three printed pages of her work with a ragged-edged piece missing. I smelled the paper, detecting dog breath. I told her that she was very lucky that I was her instructor for the class, because I was probably the only one who would bother to observe the evidence. I kept the damaged copy, and when she brought me a new copy at the next class, I was able to compare the documents enough to tell that they were the same. So, I really do believe that the dog can eat your homework.   I’m not the only one who considers “ingestion by dog” to be enough of an explanation. The state of Michigan will accept the excuse “The dog ate my tax check” along with all other excuses during their amnesty program. From May 15 through June 30, people can pay taxes they owe without penalties, though they will still have to pay interest on late taxes. The goal is to collect $88 million in unpaid taxes. The amnesty program will be advertised with the theme “All excuses accepted,” and includes such possibilities as not being able to find a black or blue pen, developing a paper allergy and all the forms being eaten by a big caterpillar. Besides these fantastic ideas, the simple, “My dog ate my check,” seems pretty plausible.   Has anyone’s dog actually eaten the tax forms or the check?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Crumple Zones and Car Safety
Keeping dogs safe in the car can be problematic

Like many others, my dogs ride in the back of my SUV, secure in their crates. I've always been under the impression that my pups were safe in their plastic kennels, although after being rear ended, I wondered if the cargo area of my car wasn't the best place for the dogs. I've since moved one crate to the back seat, but unless I buy a bigger car, I don't have the option of moving all my dogs out of the cargo area.

 


Recently, I discovered that the cargo area may be even more dangerous that I previously thought. A safety feature called the crumple zone, introduced to cars in the 50s, is designed to absorb the impact in a crash and protect passengers. The crumple zones are often likened to crushing a soda can, sacrificing everything in its path.

The most popular crumple zone locations are in the front and the rear of the car. For anyone who puts their dogs in the back, this is absolutely terrifying.

Next time I buy a car, I will certainly ask the dealer where the crumple zones are in prospective models. In the meantime, I looked online to find out where the crumple zones are in my Honda CR-V, and they are indeed at the front and back of the car.

I know that the hard, plastic kennels are very strong, but in a serious accident they're unlikely to stand up to the crumple zone. It's possible I could put my dogs in seat belts in the back seat, but that industry isn't regulated and most seat belts do not undergo any crash testing. So it's still a dilemma for me.

How do you protect your dogs in the car?

 

 

News: Guest Posts
True Lives of the Pampered Pooches
Rich, fancy dogs might not have it better

Is the life of the high-flying, super-indulged pooch really all it’s cracked up to be? Well, according to today’s story in the New York Times, about celebrity’s dogs behaving very badly, there are some real downsides.

 

Among the trials: dog parents tend to throw money rather than time and effort at a dog’s problems, large staffs can be confusing, multiple homes can be disorienting, and attending glitzy events with anxious parents can make the dogs anxious as well. Even being carried too much can make a dog neurotic.

 

Oh, and apparently when power brokers come home from a day of mastering the universe they just want to abdicate control—allowing dogs too much free rein, which leads to behavioral issues for which the dog will ultimately pay the price.

 

Suddenly, my simple, staff-free home is looking like a well-planned strategy for raising healthy dogs.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A Doggy Cake Masterpiece
NYC bakery creates edible dog portraits

As BARK readers know, I throw my dogs a birthday party every year. It’s a great excuse to gather my friends and their pups for canine games and yummy treats.

 
Usually, I bake my own cakes (one for the humans and one for the pups), but in my years of party planning, I’ve seen lots of awe inspiring professional dog-themed cakes. However, this latest human version from NYC baking extraordinaire Patti Paige really takes the cake!

Patti Paige teamed up with local artist, Dena Paige-Fischer, to create custom dog portrait cakes unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Each features a detailed masterpiece painted with food coloring, based off of a photograph. I don’t see how anyone could possibly eat these cakes!

The dog portrait cakes start at $150 and a portion of the proceeds goes to Animal Haven, a local shelter.

 

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Would You Choose a Dog to a Human Partner?
Shirley MacLaine would take the dog

The Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine writes, “I’d rather have a good, funny, loyal dog than a man” in her new book, I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions. Her life is very different now than in years past, when she was followed by the paparazzi constantly as they sought to photograph her with a new man.

  Now, living in Santa Fe, she takes her Rat Terrier, Terry, with her to lunch in town and on daily long hikes up and down the canyons near her home. She is enthusiastic about her life now and sharing it with Terry.   I’m curious to hear from single people. Do you prefer your dog to a human partner at this time in your life? If so, has it always been that way or is this new? And is loving your dog essential in a potential partner, or just preferable?
News: Guest Posts
What’s In a (Middle) Name?
We've come a long way from Fido and Spike

Does your dog have a middle name? All of my animals—even the cats—have one. It’s not something my husband or I planned. The middle names just came to be, easily rolling off of our tongues when faced with yet another destuffed animal or consumed counter treasure.

  “Arrrgh, Darby Lynn! How could you chew a hole in my favorite fleece pullover?”   “Cricket Alexis! Oh, that naughty kitty. She TP’d the bathroom again!”   But the middle names are not exclusive to disaster zones. When our late Catahoula would lean into me, I’d gleefully sing, “De-SO-to Le-O-pold!” while scratching between his ears and at the base of his tail. It was one of my favorite, mushiest moments with the big guy.   Do you say your dog’s full name when he’s in trouble or being a love?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Carrying Bags of Poop Makes People Friendly
It identifies those who follow the rules

Recently, I noticed that the people I see when I am running or walking with a dog are paying attention to something unexpected. They REALLY notice whether I am carrying a bag of poop or not. When the dog has yet to make a deposit, my bags are tucked out of sight in a pocket or elsewhere, but once I’ve had the joy of cleaning up after a dog, I have my bright blue newspaper bag in hand. Without the bag, people smile a little or nod, or say a brief “Hello.”

  Yet once I have a full bag in hand, the friendliness of people reaches a new level. I am greeted heartily with cries of “Good morning!” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” and “What a lovely dog!” It seems that carrying a bag of poop tells people what a good person I am, or at least a solid citizen and a good neighbor. It’s very interesting that I can see such a big difference in the behavior of strangers based on whether or not they can verify that I’m a picker-upper or a leaver-behinder.   This suggests to me that as a community, people with dogs are not perceived as being reliable about cleaning up after their dogs. And it’s little wonder. I know that in my neighborhood, almost everybody cleans up after their own dogs, but there is still a lot of poop left lying around. A few slackers really do ruin it for the rest of us, which is perhaps why when you have proof that you’re one of the good guys, people respond so positively.   Have you noticed an increase in friendliness when you are carrying a full poop bag?

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