Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Groups help pets in need
Making a serious problem worse, record housing foreclosures are escalating the nation’s already sizable numbers of homeless and abandoned pets. Thankfully, some enterprising organizations and individuals are stepping up to lessen the burden on individuals as well as shelters.
For example, the not-for-profit No Paws Left Behind was created specifically to be the “voice” of pets affected by foreclosure; the website has a database of no-kill shelters and foster groups, searchable by zip code. Long-established sites such as Petfinder.com also help people locate shelters in their geographic area. Finally, at least two websites—Homewithpets.com and Peoplewithpets.com—provide free searchable databases for pet-friendly rentals.
Not surprisingly, the housing crisis has also put an additional burden on animal shelters. To help them cope, national entities such as HSUS and American Humane have created grant programs that offer financial assistance to shelters and rescue organizations that are helping families keep and care for their pets.
On the other side of the equation, people who are in a position to help are stepping up too. Perhaps the most inspiring is Mimi Ausland, a 12-year-old from Bend, Ore., who created Free Kibble, a sponsor-supported online trivia game in which each answer scores 20 pieces of kibble for shelter animals. To date, she has donated well over 10 million pieces of kibble to the Humane Society of Central Oregon, and plans are in the works to add more shelters.
Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Wise choices make your home healthier for you and your dog
Try this: Select a spot in your home and lie down on the floor. Is it the kitchen? Give the floor a little lick. Or the living room? Put your nose on the carpet and take a really deep breath. Then, wander into the bathroom and check out the porcelain “drinking fountain.” Okay, stop the experiment. You get the idea: this is your home from your dog’s point of view. You generally experience your surroundings from a five- or six-foot elevation, but your dog is much closer—and much more inclined to sample her surroundings.
While there isn’t one set definition for “green” or “eco” buildings, there are important general concepts to bear in mind: Energy efficiency, size (it matters), sustainability, use of recycled materials and low impact. Considering that the average US household is responsible for twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car, energy efficiency tops the list—aim for good insulation throughout your home, well-sealed heating and cooling ducts, windows and doors weather-stripped, and energy-efficient appliances and lighting. (More tips can be found at epa.gov.)
If you are remodeling or redecorating, use resource-smart building materials, which are safer for you and your dog as well as for the environment. And, before you purchase flooring material, or even paint for your walls, give some thought to the environmental consequences of your choices. Even small changes can have a big impact. Consider using traditional materials—beeswax polish and vinegar and lemon juice for cleaning, for example—zero to low-VOC paint (latex), finishes and adhesives; and non-aerosol products.
Follow suggestions laid out by green-building expert Jennifer Roberts in her book, Good Green Homes. When you are selecting home furnishings or building materials, ask yourself (or the retailer or product manufacturer) the following questions:
• Is it safe and healthy to use in my home?
• Will it introduce irritants or off-gas potentially harmful chemicals?
• Will I need to use harsh chemicals to clean or maintain it?
• Is the harvesting or manufacturing process safe and healthy for workers?
• Is there a safe way to reuse, recycle or dispose of it when I’m done with it?
Green Flooring Materials
Other good flooring materials to consider are concrete, brick, tile (ceramic, porcelain and glass), terrazzo and stone.
Does Green Building Cost More?
Here are two places to start your investigation. If you’re thinking of remodeling or other large-scale projects, visit greenbuilder.com. For tips on home care, see care2.com/healthyliving.
LEED Green Building Rating System
Rapidly Renewable Resources
News: Guest Posts
Keep track of your doggy dollars
Your pup may not beg you for an allowance each week, but his needs are just as costly as your own. Dog food, grooming appointments, toys, veterinary visits and treats tend to add up over time. The basic expenses for a dog in the U.S. average more than $1,500 per year, according to a 2011–2012 pet owner survey by the American Pet Products Association. And that’s just the absolute basics with no organized activities or training, special care or other unexpected costs.
That's real money, as the say, and worth budgeting. The Dog Budget app helps dog owners keep track of spending and stick to a budget.
For 99 cents, this simple-to-use app enables you to document every item you purchase for your dog by date and a set of pre-determined categories Dog budget “alerts” warn you when you’re teetering over a monthly spending limit. There’s also a pie chart feature that illustrates where you’re spending.
While there are a plethora of general budgeting apps available in the iTunes App Store that do virtually the same thing, they don't feature special categories for dog owners. Dog Budget is a fairly barebones app, but the peace of mind that you’re staying within budget when it comes to your pup is probably worth a dollar.
The app is developed by Andrew Winn, an independent developer based out of the United Kingdom, and is currently only available for the iPhone/iPad.
We are always on the lookout for cool new gear for our active and oh-so-stylish pups, so our ears perked up when Cycle Dog's Metal Latch-Lock Bottle Opener Collar arrived in the mail.
Handmade in Portland, OR, Cycle Dog collects flat bike inner tubes from local bike shops, then repurposes this otherwise unrecyclable material into collars, leashes, belts and more. The inner tube construction obviously means Cycle Dog collars are earth-friendly, but it also means they are soft, durable, and completely funk-resistant - perfect for the active dog who can't help but jump into the stagnant end of the pond.
One of the very cool features of the collar is the Metal Latch-Lock Buckle. The solid, quick release metal buckle is strength tested at over 500lbs, so zero worries about the pup busting free. Then there's the Pup-Top Bottle Opener / Leash Attachment - a clever and useful reinterpretation of the leash ring. The folks at Cycle Dog obviously know that there's not much nicer than sharing a cold one with your best pal.
Also, for the cyclists amongst us, be sure to check out Cycle Dog's Tube Drop program and help keep your old inner tubes out of landfills.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Lifesaving information available 24/7
Imagine coming home and finding a chewed up bottle of your medication with no pills left in it or a houseplant that has clearly been used as a chew toy, or a bottle of cleaning solution that spilled when it was knocked off the counter. How do you determine if this is just a small inconvenience for you, a life-threatening emergency for your dog, or something in between? The new Pet Poison Help app by Pet Poison Helpline can be a great first step. You can use it to reference the specific substance and find out how toxic it is, the symptoms your dog is likely to experience, and what to do. It may suggest that you induce vomiting, encourage eating or drinking, or that you take your dog to an emergency clinic immediately.
Though there are other apps that provide information about pets and poisons, this one is the most comprehensive. It covers over 250 toxins and spans a wide variety of potentially poisonous substances including pesticides, plants, foods and cleaners. You can search by toxin, within categories, or check substances based on whether they are toxic to dogs, cats or both.
Pet Poison Help is a reliable resource from which people can get accurate information and it has a direct dial feature to the Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center that is available 24/7. According to Ahna Brutlag, a veterinarian with an M.S. in toxicology, and the co-creator of the Pet Poison Help app, the consumption of human medications accounts for the largest number of calls to their helpline, but many other toxic substances are consumed by dogs and other pets each year. If you place a call to the Pet Poison Helpline, you can share vital information with a veterinarian about your dog’s age, breed, size and what was eaten, and find out what your next step needs to be to provide the best care for your dog.
The new app is easy to use, full of pictures, and loaded with live-saving information. Pet Poison Help has been available for just a few weeks, and already nearly 2000 people have downloaded it. Have you had a chance to check it out yet?
Bark Likes This
Sometimes the most impactful innovations are those made to simple, every day acts — like picking up your dog’s waste. We were introduced to Eco Dog Planet’s Doggie Waste Bags at last month’s Global Pet Expo where they debuted their eco-friendly poop bags made from tapioca. The light but sturdy bags are manufactured from the starch of tapioca plants, a sustainable non-GMO crop that helps support small farmers in Indonesia. The material easily decomposes in soil or landfills when exposed to micro-organisms. Renewable resources, community farming — a great back story for sure, but how does the product … perform? Very well we’ve found. The bags have a slightly thicker feel to them than other starch bags we’ve tested, and a toothy surface that helps buffer the tactile experience. Plus, they don’t fall apart in your pocket after a few weeks as some other starch bags do. Bark loves Eco Dog Planet’s Doggie Waste Bags! A pack of 60 bags sells for $9.99 at ecodogplanet.com
Click here for a chance to win a box of bags.
News: Guest Posts
Developed with the Humane Society to raise awareness
Teach kids the importance of caring for, and adopting, a shelter pet with this free iPhone game, developed in association with the Humane Society of the United States. In Fluff Friends Rescue, players retrieve lost pets in the woods, bring them back for a veterinary checkup and a bath, and then place them in a pen to be adopted. It's a time management game that requires players to multitask in order to complete goals and find permanent homes for the animals, but it’s also a great way to open a discussion about the essential role of animal shelters and, more generally, the problems of pet overpopulation with your children.
To make it challenging, Fluff Friends Rescue doesn't start you off with all of the elements you need to run a functioning shelter. As you rescue each pet, you earn money and unlock other features of the game, such as stations to add to your rescue facility and toys to give the animals, and that helps the vitality of your rescue center, as well as the adoptability of your animals.
The game plays a lot like the popular Facebook game, Farmville, and is free to play, which means you'll have to dole out some cash for certain in-app content. You can disable this feature so your child doesn’t accidentally charge your credit card for in-game items, but this will make it difficult to advance further in the game without “grinding”—a mechanism utilized by games in this genre that requires players to do repetitive tasks to rack up points before they can move on to the next task.
As an added bonus, players can purchase special items endorsed by the Humane Society and the net proceeds will be given directly to the organization. The app was developed in conjunction with MindJolt’s Social Gaming Network, a game company that specializes in Facebook and mobile games. You can download Fluff Friends Rescue for free in the iTunes App Store, or play it on Facebook.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Home Works: Smart Solutions
Ringware Dog Bowls
People Towels for Pet Lovers
Bark Likes This
Who said you have to sacrifice style for functionality? Definitely not Kurgo. Kurgo’s sturdy Newport Seat Covers are everything you and your pooch need to travel in clean, comfortable style.
The easy-to-install covers keep your original car seats in perfect condition, while extra storage pockets help to organize all those other travel must-haves. Did we mention that the covers are waterproof and machine washable? Coastside romps here we come! Available for bucket or bench seats, price $40-$50.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Play by the numbers
The popularity of Dog Perignon Champagne plush toys, Hairy Winston squeak toys, and the chewable Dolce and Grrrbana designer shoes is a sign that the market for dog toys has exploded in recent years. Choosing toys can be daunting—the good ones need to be safe, fun and last a reasonable amount of time, but they shouldn’t be outrageously priced or so painful when stepped on in the middle of the night by bare feet that we lose our PG rating. Here are a few that I feel meet all of the above requirements.
1. Intellitoys. Dogs learn when they play, and some toys, such as the Intellicube and the Intellibone, are designed specifically with canine education in mind. Dogs can spend hours happily playing with the removable parts, learning to use mouths, paws and noses to manipulate objects.
2. Jackpot Chipmunk. Another educational favorite, this toy has a Velcro® closure pocket containing a plush-covered squeaker. Dogs can learn to open the pocket to get the squeaker, or the pocket can be used to store treats. My dog Bugsy, whom I lovingly describe as a couple of ants short of a picnic, finally learned to fetch with this method. He dutifully brought the toy, which he probably thought was a dog-proof cookie jar, back to me so that he could be paid in liver biscotti for his hard work.
3. Kong. If a household has only a single dog toy, it’s likely to be from the Kong line. These almost indestructible hollow toys can be filled with almost any kind of food, including treats such as cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese or biscuits, which the dog will then spend enormous amounts of time removing.Many dogs who are not toy-motivated learn to love them after experiencing the Kong.
4. Ball. A lot of dogs get over-the-top excited about fetching tennis balls, and anybody whose dog loves them to the point of distraction (literally!) should pause to be grateful, because never was there a less expensive, versatile, goodfor- us, good-for-them toy. If you’re inhibited by the prospect of handling a slimy ball, get a Chuckit, a plastic tool that you can use to scoop up and toss the ball without ever touching it.
5. Flying Disc. Fetch games with flying discs are even more fun and exciting to many dogs than fetching balls. The Flying Squirrel and the Hurl-a-Squirrel are both popular with the canine set. The Soft Bite Floppy Disc floats in water and has hot pink edges, which make it easy to locate after an errant throw (note the voice of experience here).Regular flying discs can injure dogs’ teeth, which is why I recommend these kinder, gentler types.
6. Donkey Tail Tug Toy. Though a knotted rope will suffice, the Donkey Tail— a long, stretchy braid of fleece—is even better for tug games. Plus, it’s made of material that doesn’t get as slimy as most tug toys or become as strongly redolent of eau de dog breath.
7. Egg Babies. These plush toys, which come in forms such as dinosaur, duck, hedgehog or platypus, have three removable squeaky “eggs” hidden inside a pouch. Dogs can pull the eggs out through the elasticized opening, which is fun for those who love to search for and find treasures. The eggs are just a little bit bigger than tennis balls, and as a huge bonus, replacement three-packs are available.
8. Booda Rip ’Ems. These are “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” toys.Dogs love to rip things apart, and Booda Rip ’Ems are actually designed for it. Their pieces are attached with Velcro® and can be reattached in a variety of ways. Many dogs love the ripping sound the Velcro® makes as much as the feeling of pulling the toy apart. The shapes include tigers, beach balls and watermelons.
9. The Critter. Lest we forget that our furry friends are predators, and superb ones at that, their toy choices remind us. Plush toys to rip apart and squeaky toys to pounce on are prized by most dogs. For the more discriminating predator, consider The Critter, which is essentially a faux fur–covered tennis ball with a faux fur tail attached. It is rare to make the acquaintance of a dog who does not go wild over it.
The main purpose of dog toys is not to give us a peaceful moment in which to read the paper and have a cup of coffee (although if you’ve used them this way, join the club). Rather, their function is to enhance play, which is a critical and often ignored part of canine behavior. And just as the best children’s books can be enjoyed by adults and children reading together, the best dog toys can be enjoyed by people and dogs playing together.
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