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free entertainment for you and your pet

photo source: animaldiscovery.com

photo source: animaldiscovery.com

When I was growing up, our little dog, Chipper, loved lights and reflections. I don’t even think the pet laser pointer for pets had been thought up, yet. Instead, he had a collection of flashlights in a designated drawer, and he was so obsessed, he would bark in anticipation if we even approached the drawer. Eating dinner was an issue because we had track lighting that bounced light off the silverware. We’d have to take a bite and then quickly bury the silverware under the plate or napkin or food. Nevermind the large serving utensils. Pizza night, with that spatula, was an event.

I still haven’t figured out why some animals “see the light” and some don’t. Or maybe they do and don’t care.

I’ve always been entertained by animals who do border on obsession with this entity that can’t be caught, and this week, I accidentally found one in a client. We were enjoying the cooling weather outside, and my watch shot a beam of light into the grass. Piper pounced. The game was on. Her big sister, Ava, couldn’t be bothered. What a great form of exercise for this pup! And what a great way for a little sister to pester her big sis–just part of the job.

So grab that flashlight you have lying around, or just use the sun and something reflective. Free entertainment for the whole family!


cat bearding…making me crack up, and you have to enter this contest!

I honestly only heard of cat bearding recently, and I guess that goes to show how uncool I am, because it’s apparently all the rage. I’ve been missing out. Never mind the fact that I don’t have a cat. I need to get in on the act.

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photo source: gawker.com

These crazy cat people seem to be calling it “that thing where your cat is also your beard.” Hilarious. I love it. I don’t know how, exactly, they get their cats to pose like this. So great! I see a few dogs in the mix, too, so maybe there is hope for me to have my very own genuine bearding photo.

My good friend, Heather, of Brie Brie Blooms is working with Fresh Step on a Cat Bearding Photo Contest. I can’t even believe how great the contest is. You totally have to enter. Yes, you. Aside from all the fun and gorgeous scratched-up face you’ll have, the winner receives a professional photo shoot with their cat (this is where me having an actual cat of my own would be handy) and a year’s supply of Fresh Step Litter, which is redeemable in the form of a $700 Sam’s Club gift card (okay…I’m running out do adopt a cat, now).

So have you been cat bearding? If not, can you whip out a prize-winning photo real quick (hurry up…contest ends on September 30th)? Meow. Come back and tell me how it goes…I can’t wait to see those photos.


ThunderLeash: the simpler “no pull” solution has become our “no choke” solution

My dog, N.A.S.H.A., totally looks like the anxious type, but she’s cool as a cucumber. Unless a butterfly tries to invade our home, and, then, she goes ballistic. So though I’ve worked with ThunderShirt and done several product reviews, I’ve always given the shirts they send me to clients who can really use them. It’s awesome to be able to that, and I highly recommend the ThunderShirt as a natural remedy for many types of canine anxiety. So when ThunderShirt asked if I’d like to try out their newest product, the ThunderLeash, I was intrigued.

After checking it out online, I knew that N.A.S.H.A. and I would be trying this one, ourselves. The ThunderLeash is described as “the simpler ‘no pull'” solution.

Though only eleven or so pounds and eight years old, when it’s time to go for a walk, N.A.S.H.A. thinks she’s part of the Iditarod. She has other weird habits on a leash, too. Like she won’t go potty on one. So after our walks, she rushes in the house and to the backyard so she can relieve herself. I don’t think ThunderLeash can help with that issue, but I was hopeful it might finally be a solution for N.A.S.H.A.’s constant pulling on a traditional leash.

We’d tried other “no pull” products with little or no success. Our family loves to hike, and we love to take N.A.S.H.A. with us, but sometimes we leave her behind, just because we don’t want to deal with her. She’s too light to pull us along, and even the kids can hold the leash when she’s pulling. Her problem is different. She chokes. Over and over. And over. And over. It’s quite irritating to listen to, and it can’t be healthy for her. Ah…the intelligence of dogs, ever in question.

So here she is, choking and walking in all her glory with her regular leash:

I was pretty excited when our ThunderLeash arrived.

Nicely done!

Goodie! It’s here!

I loved how the instructions were right on the front. So simple!

The ThunderLeash is a full leash, just like it says. It can be used as a regular leash when your dog isn’t pulling, and can quickly be converted while it’s on your dog, should your dog start pulling. The patent-pending “harness slot” allows you to simply wrap the leash around your dog’s torso, just under his “arm pits.”

ThunderShirt describes it best:

ThunderLeash is the simpler “no pull” solution. The innovative hardware turns a leash into a “no pull” harness instantly. The safe pressure greatly reduces pulling with no need for a harness. Professional dog trainer recommended. 100% satisfaction guarantee.

ThunderLeash will help make walking your dog a hassle free, positive experience for both you and your dog. Dog harnesses can be great tools for many dogs, but not everyone wants to make the effort to get one onto their dog or to have extra stuff to carry around. ThunderLeash is the perfect combination of simplicity and functionality. For those times you just need a standard leash for a quick walk or for times when your dog is well behaved, simply connect the ThunderLeash to your dog’s collar just like any other leash. But for times when pulling might be a problem, simply wrap ThunderLeash around your dog’s torso and slide it into the harness slot. Now whenever your dog pulls, a mild pressure is applied to his torso, and the pulling will quickly cease. Which the ThunderLeash, you will finally be able to walk your dog, instead of being walked by your dog.

ThunderLeashHarnessSlot

Since we already experienced what N.A.S.H.A. does on a regular leash, we jumped right ahead to the harness slot.

If N.A.S.H.A.'s fur wasn't so stylishly wild, you could see the harness slot in action.

If N.A.S.H.A.’s fur wasn’t so stylishly wild, you could see the harness slot in action.

Physics has never been my strong point, but I could tell that the configuration would not encourage pulling, as a traditional harness often does. It is also equipped with a safety stopper (which is hidden by fur) so the harness won’t squeeze too tight.

Here is a photo of an equally-stylish, yet less fuzzy dog so you can actually see what's happening. Photo source: ThunderShirt.

Here is a photo of an equally-stylish, yet less fuzzy dog so you can actually see what’s happening. Photo source: ThunderShirt.

Before we headed out the door, I hooked the clip to N.A.S.H.A.’s collar, then wrapped the leash around her as the directions showed, then easily slipped the leash into the harness slot. Just as easily, N.A.S.H.A. bucked and twisted and–voilá–we were back to the regular leash configuration. Sigh. It was a new sensation for her, so we tried again, and this time she wasn’t so wiggly. So we set off…

Do you hear anything? Me neither! She still pulled, but not as hard, and the best part is that she stopped choking completely. That’s a win for her and a win for our whole family!

The ThunderSeash Web site offers free shipping  and a full refund within forty-five days, if the ThunderLeash doesn’t work out for you, so there’s really no risk.

As the weather cools in Arizona and we’re able to venture out on more hikes, I think N.A.S.H.A. will be able to join us more often! I’m really excited about that.

Disclaimer: ThunderShirt provided me with a ThunderLeash in exchange for my honest opinion. 


reptile adventures at the library

When you think “library,” do giant reptiles and squealing children come to mind? If not, then you have not been fortunate enough to witness Rich Ihle’s Reptile Adventures this summer. The Phoenix Public Library hosts a fantastic kids summer program, where nearly every weekday there is someone cool presenting something awesome at various libraries across the city–and it’s free to attend! We go to our local Ironwood branch every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. to catch the fun. Yesterday’s presentation was our favorite!

Rich Ihle, the creator of Reptile Adventures brought his friends, small and large, for families to oooh and ahhh at. The kids were all pumped, and Rich delivered. His funny, friendly attitude, coupled with the confidence and sternness to keep the kids’ energy from getting out of control made for an incredible experience.

Rich began his presentation by telling everyone a bit about himself and how he came to be the “reptile guy.” It seems he had a deep love for these creatures from an early age and would spend all of his money on reptiles. He encouraged the kids to find their passion and open books to learn all they can about it, as he did, which I thought was a wonderful message. He also expressed the importance of caring for pets properly, and how much work they can be. The guy kept it real.

Like all good entertainers, Rich brought out the little guys first. We met Sunset the Bearded Dragon, Slim the Blue-tongued Skink, and Freckles, the Leopard Gecko, among other friends.

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I was totally impressed with them, but had no idea that the big guns were waiting in the wings.

Enter T-Bo the Rhinoceros Iguana.

He was incredible! And incredibly huge! Rich’s interactions with him were nothing short of a headliner at The Comedy Spot. The kids (and adults) were squealing and shaking with excitement. Rich took him for a ride on his cooler, a giant-iguana RV, of sorts.

T-Bo

Just when we thought we’d seen the grand finale, out came Sunshine, who we got to touch.

SnakeCollage

 

What an experience! You can still catch Rich and “The Ultimate Reptile Experience” at libraries around the valley during this week and next, the last week of the program. I would highly recommend it, even if you don’t have kids! Rich and his friends are also available for birthday parties, school presentations, and special events.


debating the hunt with Greg (part 1): a different world

I pride myself on loving and accepting my family and friends, even if I don’t agree with what they do. They extend me the same courtesy, and the result is that we can have educated respectful conversations about nearly anything, and we both come out smarter for it. I don’t make public statements on social media about my leanings. I prefer to save those conversations for people (or blog followers) I can speak to “live,” and not throw punches in the dark.

Let me introduce you to my brother-in-law, Greg, who is an avid hunter and fisherman. Let me introduce you to Greg, whom I love and respect despite this fact. He is one of those people whom I have been able to have these intimate conversations with. You see, as a person heading toward a completely vegan lifestyle, and as a person who has never shot a gun and who has no desire to even catch-and-release, for fear I poked a bloody hole in the mouth of a sea-creature, and may have done psychological damage to said fish, I can’t quite relate to Greg on this matter. With part a tone of conviction, and part solid facts and foundations, he has somehow presented to me on several occasions that hunting is okay–for him.

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Photo courtesy of Greg Carr.

I was a little girl who would order ciopinnio in a restaurant and bring most of it home in a doggie bag, only to attempt resuscitation and give freedom to the in-tact animals in a bowl of water once I got home. They received names. And then were promptly eaten by the cat as soon as I went to bed. Or perhaps they were fed to the cat…hmmm…

Greg and I are one and not the same.

I met my husband’s brother when he was sixteen, early on in his hunting and fishing endeavors. He first became interested in waterfowl and upland game bird hunting during his sophomore year in high school. He did not come from this background (so hopefully genes have been spared), but was introduced to it by a schoolmate, Lorenzo. Having completed a hunter education class at the age of fifteen, Greg purchased his first State of California Hunting License. He continued to gain more knowledge and interest, then went on his first waterfowl hunt with Lorenzo and Lorenzo’s father.

“After going on just one hunt, I knew this was something I wanted to do every season and would need the appropriate gear to do so (waders, decoys, gun, and dog),” Greg said. His parents allowed him to purchase his first shotgun at age seventeen, with money he saved from working. At the same time, Greg purchased (another point of contention that I understand but don’t agree with) his first hunting dog, Ruger, a male black lab. As a high school graduation gift from his parents, Greg received a season-long duck blind lease.

Greg completed his first duck season with Ruger and “found a new appreciation for the sport after watching the dog (I had) trained perform in the field.” Greg and Ruger continued to hunt successfully together until 2011, when Ruger developed a brain tumor, declined quickly, and had to be euthanized.

First hand, I know Ruger was not just a hunting dog, but an amazing companion for the whole family. We were all heartbroken when he succumbed to his tumor. My favorite memory of Ruger is when Greg left him in my care and I dressed him in a pink shirt and hair bow, took pictures, and gave one to Greg. It was my silent protest to their manly ways. Although Greg would dispute the fact, Ruger loved the temporary makeover.

I have to admit that although I may not agree with the actual hunting, what I’ve witnessed from Greg in terms of dog training is quite impressive. I can understand how training a dog to have restraint in the moment so as not to alert prey, then follow commands and retrieve and preserve the kill is something to be commended in terms of skill.

I asked Greg why he initially loved hunting:

“What sparked my interest about duck hunting, in particular, was that it was very challenging. First, you have to sound like a duck…some might think blowing a duck call is easy, (but) it takes years to master. A duck call is essentially a woodwind instrument that reacts to air pressure, the aperture of your mouth, and the movement of your tongue to create notes and tones that sound like a real duck. There is verbal communication between the hunter and the ducks. Being proficient at duck calling is a real talent.

I also fell in love with the fact that most duck hunting takes place early in the morning. Most hunters are in the duck blind well before the sun is up. You really get to experience nature wake up as the sun rises and everything begins to move about. I have always loved anything that involves being outdoors.

Once I acquired and trained my first hunting dog, Ruger, I was able to experience a whole new appreciation and passion for hunting. Watching your dog perform in the field is the equivalent of watching your children compete at sports. When they perform well, it makes you proud. It is amazing how much natural instinct and drive hunting dogs have. They LOVE to be out in the field hunting. Literally, they were bred for it. I can remember times when Ruger would see me loading up the truck the night before we were going hunting, and he would jump in the truck and refuse to get out. He did not want to get left behind.”

It sounds so romantic when Greg describes it, I almost forget he’s shooting down magnificent creatures. But then I snap back into my own reality and ask why. Why shoot animals? Why not skeet shooting? He explains,

“Skeet shooting is challenging in the aspect that it does take skill to hit a moving target, but it could never provide all of the tangible and intangible aspects hunting can provide. You could never learn to master the art of calling skeet, and I am not sure what dog would want to retrieve broken shards of clay skeet targets. Skeet shooting is a fun and enjoyable sport, but, in my opinion, it does not compare to hunting.”

Point taken, but I, personally, still don’t get it. Killing animals for sport? Yes, they clean and eat their own haul, so it doesn’t go to “waste,” per se. It’s hard for me to swallow (no pun intended) the loss of life.

So, I respectfully have more questions for Greg. Do you?


keeping the pups hydrated

Temps are on the rise, especially here in Phoenix. Everyone in our family carries a water bottle everywhere, and it’s just as important to keep our pooches from becoming dehydrated. I use a foldable bowl by Outward Hound.

I love the convenience of the foldable bowl because it weighs next to nothing and folds down so small that I can easily fit it in my pocket or purse, and, of course, my hiking backpack for our family or Tails on Trails hikes. Though lightweight, the bowl can withstand a beating because it’s made of heavy-duty canvas. Though the pups prefer it when I hold the water for them, catering to their every whim, our bowl has been in dirt and on rocks and the like countless times and doesn’t look at all worse for the wear.

The bowls come in different sizes, but I got a fairly small one so that it would be most portable. It just means that sometimes the lager dogs ask for seconds, which I’m happy to provide.

The bowl was particularly helpful when we went to the Phoenix Pet Expo and our canine companion refused to drink out of the community dog bowls that were placed around the event. Who could blame her? I think the ratio of drool to water was off the charts.

I also love the collapsable, reusable bowls because they help us keep things green. Instead of using store-bought water bottles, we fill our reusable bottles and, in turn, refill the dog bowl. Again and again!

Cheers!

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a shameful interview with Pascale Lemire

If you haven’t heard of it, which is shameful in itself, dogshaming.com is a photo blog featuring real dogs doing real deeds. The owners hang signs around the dogs’ necks explaining the scenario, snap a picture, and submit it. Totally simple, and completely genius.

I set out to do a simple “check this out” post about Dog Shaming. I looked over the site’s legal mumbo jumbo to make sure I wouldn’t be sued if I said I liked it, which seems to be the current trend in society. All I had to do was get permission in writing to use any anything, so I sent a simple email stating that I’d love to “spread the word about your awesome site,” expecting to receive a form letter back listing the endless things I wouldn’t be allowed to do.

Instead, I got a personal response back from who I now know to be the site’s creator, Vancouver-based Pascale Lemire. She didn’t give me any rules, but, instead, invited me to inquire further with her personally, if I wished to do so. No restrictions. Every exchange with this creative, witty woman was delightful. Considering the notoriety she’s received about her viral creation, I was, quite frankly, shocked and thrilled to be chatting with her. I told her I thought she’d have “people” to field my type of inquiries. Not so. But I’m predicting that might soon be the case, so I feel like I was pretty damn lucky to get in when I did.

After lamenting about our mutual troublesome experience with wiener dogs, we got down to it.

WM: How did you get the idea to start Dog Shaming?

PL: Dog Shaming started one night when my boyfriend, Mike, and I were in bed reading on our tablets when we heard chewing coming from under the bed. Mike (my now husband) reached out and pulled Beau (our rescue wiener dog) out from under the bed. We realized he’d been chewing on Mike’s underwear. We burst out laughing and snapped a picture with a sign beside him, and I posted it to my personal tumblr blog. Within 24 hours, people had blogged and reblogged the picture over and over. So Mike urged me to start a Web site. The rest is history!

WM: What is it with rescue wiener dogs and underwear? Mine redesigned me some risqué underwear, that’s for sure!

PL: I have no idea! They do seem to be the most troublesome breed I’ve found. That and pitbulls…the biggest troublemakers!

WM: So you do see trends with certain breeds. What is the most common submission you receive?

PL: I’ve gotten weary of the “I have no shame” and the “sorry, not sorry” types of submissions. I never get tired of the dogs, but sometimes the signs are lacking in creativity. The eating poop, socks, and underwear has been done to death.

WM: Since you’ve been doing this for several months, now, do the submissions still make you laugh?

PL: Every once in a while a REALLY good one comes around.

WM: Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?

PL: Hmmmm…I love the double trouble posts. Like these:

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WM: Hilarious! This is my go-to site when I need a laugh. It always delivers. Can you tell me about your pets? Do they ever appear on Dog Shaming?

PL: Of course! Beau and Dasha are my rescue wiener dogs. They’re both black and tan, so people often mistake them for siblings. They often make appearances when I’m reaching out to our readers. Our logo is also Beau’s face. Here’s a recent post with their photograph:

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WM: Congratulations on your upcoming book release!

PL: We just released the book cover. The book comes out in September.

WM: What an exciting time for you! Please tell me about your book.

PL: The Dog Shaming book is set to come out in late September and will be a collection of never-before seen material! It will be a coffee table book that amalgamates all the best Dog Shaming submissions I’ve received over the past months.

WM: That is fantastic. When did you start the site?

PL: August 2012.

WM: When you started the site, what were your expecations?

PL: I really had no expectations. I thought it was a cute idea, and then people kept sending more and more submissions!

WM: What percentage make the cut.

PL: About 5-10% only.

WM: Wow. So how much time do you spend working on the site? Do you have another job?

PL: I spend about five ours a day working on submissions. It’s my full-time gig.  I used to work as an administrative assistant for a credit union.

WM: You help with dog adoptions through the site. Can you tell me more about that?

PL: Adoptable Fridays is a weekly event where people can submit dogs they’re fostering or from their shelters for adoption. Of course, the same rules apply: They need to have a sign and be funny. I have been able to match over forty readers with adoptable dogs over the span of this endeavor. It’s really satisfying to know that my efforts pay off and I’m doing something to help the community out.

WM: Absolutely. Great job! What do you like to do when you’re not busy shaming dogs?

PL: I love walking with my dogs and reading. I spend a decent amount of time on the internet, so Dog Shaming seemed like the perfect fit.

WM: Aside from a good belly laugh, what do you think your site brings to people? Why do you think it has gone viral?

PL: I think people can relate to Dog Shaming. People see things and behaviors that their dogs have done, and it makes them glad to know they’re not alone. When I started this Web site, I thought I was the only one who had dogs that liked to lick my legs fresh out of the shower.

WM: I agree. The posts are so relatable! What is your vision for the future of Dog Shaming?

PL: I hope our loyal readers will keep making this site great. It’s really a group effort to keep the site fresh and entertaining.

WM: Thank you so much for speaking with me.

PL: Absolutely! I’m always available.

Pascale’s generosity of time candid nature ensure that she’ll be around for a long time to come. I’m betting that her being “always available” might be a more difficult feat to achieve.