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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. 


too hot for tootsies

As we Phoenicians brave today’s high temps–threatening 119°–I am inspired to plead the masses not to walk a dog in the middle of the day. I mean, please. I can’t believe how many dogs I saw out for a walk when driving home from my mid-day visits today. Really? Would you want to walk on the scorching asphalt with your bare feet? Try it.

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The damage hot surfaces can do to paws. (Photo source: latheofdreams)

Dogs’ paws can burn, and burn bad. They are a bit more tolerant of the immediate sensation when walking on a hot surface because their paws are pretty tough, but damage is done. The dog may limp, lick their paws, or show other signs of distress several hours after the burn occurs.

My rule of thumb is to never walk a dog when the temperature is over 100°. I let my clients know that I’ll be happy to do some rigorous indoor play, or a nice game of fetch in the grass if it’s not too hot out.

Instead of walking your dog at noon, consider a early-morning or late-evening stroll. Be aware that concrete and asphalt can hold heat well past sundown, so test it with your own bare foot before proceeding. If you can comfortably stand, you’re good to go.

You can also try dog booties for protection.

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Booties are functional AND cute! (Photo source: animalersspecialty)

Simple solutions.

So if you don’t want the insanely angry gal in the pooch wagon screaming at you to get your mutt off the street during your lunch break, please consider the benefits of the siesta, instead.

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(Photo source: blog.bhres.com)


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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i believe in leashes: my story

At one time, I believed that off-leash freedom was a basic right of dogs and something an owner should provide on a regular basis. I don’t mean just in his own backyard. I believed that well-behaved dogs should be allowed to roam free every now and then.

I advocated heavily for a dog park in Maricopa, the growing city we originally established ourselves in when we moved to Arizona. In fact, I was a founding member and chairperson of a group that raised a considerable amount of money toward that cause.

Over the years, I have changed my mind about public off-leash places, and, especially, about people allowing their dogs to roam free in their open garages or driveways. My current opinion is based on a solid combination of education, experience, and fear.

In April of 2007, I was walking a client’s dog when my life was altered forever. Ralphie, a big, sweet, mixed-breed pooch, had been in my care numerous times, and we’d been on countless walks together. I knew her well. She was a calm, well-behaved girl who knew how to walk on a leash.

I had my boys with me that evening. B was going on eleven years old, and Porter was an infant, not even three months old. B pushed Porter in his stroller while I walked Ralphie. We took a typical route around the neighborhood on the sidewalk on the right side of the road. As we neared the end of the street where the road turned only one way, I heard a sudden commotion at a bank of mailboxes across the street.

It’s true when they say time slows down when your adrenaline kicks in, but, still, it all happened so fast.

Three large dogs charged us. Their owner, a graying man standing at his open mailbox with an armful of letters, was left in the dust. I came to learn later that he was only just across the street from his home. He didn’t feel he needed to leash his dogs.

I had time only to scream “GET YOUR BROTHER ACROSS THE STREET” to B, which he did in an instant. The dogs were not after me or my boys. They were after Ralphie. And she was such a sweetheart (maybe without much brains), that she didn’t fight back. My instincts took over, and they were to protect her. It was three against one, and I was her back-up. She was in my charge, and I was responsible. Don’t question my thought process, because there was no thought process.

I screamed. I kicked the other dogs. I flailed. But one thing I didn’t do was let go of Ralphie’s leash. If I did, I would completely lose control of her, and, as a professional pet sitter, that was unacceptable to me. She was my responsibility, and I had to protect her. The noise of the three dogs was frightening. They were wolves in that moment. There were teeth and there was strength in this unfairly balanced fight that I can’t describe. I held on to the leash.

As the battle migrated, I was pulled down and drug over the asphalt. My stomach had road rash. I got up, and then I was pulled down and drug a second time, this time on my knees. Still, somehow, only by instinct (certainly not using whatever brains had), I still held on to the leash. I held on as the owner of the dogs drug each one by the collar back to his house as the remaining dog(s) continued their attack. Once the final dog was off, I ran Ralphie back to my boys. All I had left in me was adrenaline. The man tried to talk to me, and I just wanted to get away. I just wanted my boys and Ralphie as far away from that as we could get. The man hollered after me, but I don’t know what he said. I just walked fast. It didn’t matter my condition or Ralphie’s in that moment. We just had to get far, far away.

We rounded the next corner, and B started talking to me. I told him to just be quiet and walk fast. He insisted. “Kristen, you’re bleeding. You’re bleeding really bad.” I didn’t feel pain, but when I looked down, I saw that my knees no longer had skin. Just then, a bit of pain registered in my hand. When I looked, I had to look away. Yes, there was blood, but the worst of it was the fact that my pinkie finger was bent at a 90-degree angle, and not in the natural way.

With all of my mothering and pet-protecting instincts in overdrive, and, admittedly, a ridiculously idiotic low-level of self-protective drive running through my veins, I told B not to worry…I’d be just fine. Let’s just get home.

Miraculously, and unbelievably, Ralphie didn’t have a scratch on her. I checked every. single. inch. She was perfect.

I don’t remember how I got Ralphie home, but I remember needing B’s help to feed her, because I only had one hand to work with. Feed her? As if an animal couldn’t miss one meal under the circumstances. I went into auto-pilot, and, with help, I got the job done. In my mind, there was no other way. I wiped the blood off of my client’s floor and took the bloody paper towels with me, not wanting to leave something so alarming behind. Porter was awake, but kept quiet. B listened and followed my every direction, which was also miraculous.

We got into my stick-shift Jeep Wrangler. Before we left the driveway, I dialed Ralphie’s mom. I told her voice mail first that Ralphie was fine, and then I apologized for having to cut the visit a bit short, but that I needed some medical attention.

“Where are we going?” B asked.

“I don’t know, yet.” I remember telling myself, for the first time, to think. Think. Think. How was I going to drive the Jeep with one hand?

Somehow, we arrived at the local urgent care, which was the largest medical facility our small town had. They looked at me and immediately told me they couldn’t help and that I needed to go to the hospital.

I drove home (how they allowed me to do that with two children is still a mystery), and I called my husband at work. “Please, please come home and help me. There’s been an accident with some dogs, and I’m pretty sure I have a broken finger.” That’s when I looked down at my hand for the second time, and realized I’d best not look again. My husband was on his way. Porter started to cry because he was hungry. I pulled him to my breast, but I couldn’t hold him. I needed my hand to work. B held his baby brother while I heated a bottle of pumped breast milk and defrosted a few more, predicting that I might not be able to feed him for a while. My husband came home and went into action, letting me believe he wasn’t any more concerned than I was. He drove us all to the hospital. X-rays were taken. The nurses cleaned me up and put my hand in large cast-like bandage. They instructed me not to remove it, gave me a prescription for painkillers, and made me an appointment with the valley’s top orthopedist for first thing the next morning.

I don’t remember much else from that night, but I do remember wondering what the big deal was. My dad had had countless football injuries and stories of his coaches popping his fingers back in to place. He went right back into the game, and that was all I could think of. Why couldn’t the hospital staff do just that and send me on my way? Why wasn’t I simply back in the game?

I learned from the orthopedist the next morning that three fingers on my left hand were broken clean through, but not cleanly. There were jagged edges and fun things like that. I dreaded being in a cast for who knew how long, and then the doctor casually told me that my surgery was scheduled. SURGERY? For silly little fingers? Yes, there would be permanent screws and lots of physical therapy. I was in denial and disbelief.

The reality of the situation came to be that I had two surgeries, six months of physical therapy, and I still have very limited mobility in those three fingers to this day. I’m fine. I mean, considering the recent events that have left so many without limbs at all, what am I complaining about?

Where am I now? I have pain or discomfort every day, but natural joint supplements help. I can’t bend my fingers properly, which makes some tasks difficult. I have a hard time holding small items, and it’s tough to tie a pretty bow on a birthday package. Braiding my daughter’s hair is a challenge, but I manage to get it done. It’s difficult for me to cut with a knife ad fork, because holding the fork in my left hand isn’t easy. There are a bunch of things I can’t do properly, but, still, I can do everything in my way, and I am a whole, fine person. Even so, it still sucks.

My life was forever changed simply because that man thought in that particular moment that he didn’t need to leash his dogs. He was just going across the street. He was just checking his mailbox. His dogs were nice. His dogs knew commands. His dogs were in his control. He didn’t account for variables.

I’m very cautious, now, when it comes to off-leash dogs. If an untethered canine comes down a driveway at me while I’m walking a dog, I am not shy about letting the owner know that the situation is unacceptable. The owner might say “don’t worry…he’s friendly.” But how does he know my dog is friendly? How does he know that their combination won’t be volatile? Although any public off-leash situation now makes me leery, appropriate and allowable off-leash situations exist. Save it for the dog park, when everyone in attendance understands that it is an off-leash situation and is choosing to put themselves and their animals in that position. Invite some doggie pals over for a party, and let them run around, free, in your own backyard.

People and other animals should not be placed in jeopardy because someone feels their dog has a right to “freedom.” Dog owners need to take every precaution.

I believe in leashes.


the green side of well minded

Happy Earth Day!

As a family and as a business (yes, lines get blurred), we’ve been “going green” for many years. It’s a never-ending, evolving process that we love to educate ourselves about and improve upon.

Why do we consider ourselves a green company?

• We are nearly paperless. We do jot things down and ask for a few old-fashioned signatures with brand-new clients, but once our initial consultation is over, all confirmations and invoicing is done online. We take booking requests online and are able to send confirmations and invoices online, as well.

• We use biodegradable bags for waste cleanups on walks, in yards, and when scooping litter. If our clients leave us biodegradable bags, we credit their account $1 per day. So, if you’re traveling for seven days, and we pick up your doggy droppings and kitty litter every day you’re gone (which we do), when you leave us biodegradable bags to use, you’ll automatically see a $7 credit on your invoice. That probably covers the whole month’s supply of bags, right? Easy!

• We walk a lot. And we hike. Traveling by foot is super eco-friendly. And since we live in the desert, we drink a lot of water when we’re exercising. So we use reusable water bottles for both humans and animals, and we use reusable, collapsable pet bowls when we’re on the go.

• In our home/office, we haven’t purchased paper towels for over three years. HUH? It’s TRUE! We use cloth rags for everything, even pet messes! Yes, it CAN be done. We first tried it as a challenge, and it became second nature–part of our lifestyle. What do we do if an animal barfs on the rug? Well, we get out a few rags, then throw them in the washer. It works!

• We use non-toxic, ecofriendly cleaners. Not only do our animals breathe easier, our whole family does. And no one has to worry about the scary stuff in bleach, disinfectants, and the like. Feel free to lick your paws!

• We’re making more vegan choices, which impacts our earth every single day. We’re learning and striving as a family business to get there 100%.

• When we go on our lunch break, we use reusable containers to hold our grub.

• Porter, our six-year-old junior pet sitter, is in the Save the Earth Club at his school. He comes home with ideas for us to discuss and helps our family business stay on an earth-friendly path.

• We recycle everything we can. And we use reusable bags when we shop. That’s not very impressive, hopefully. Shouldn’t we all be doing this by now?

What will we do next?

• We’re researching taking online payments, so you won’t have to send a paper check anymore. Just blame my slight fear of figuring it all out for the delay.

• We’ve been doing lots of research on composting, but haven’t taken the plunge, yet. We’re excited to start!

Being “green” is not black or white. It’s a process, and it’s about making gradual changes that fit into your family’s life. It’s about being the best you can be, and being better than you were yesterday. It’s a family affair, including your pets. Think about how you and your pet can be just a little bit friendlier to the earth tomorrow. Maybe you use biodegradable waste bags, or clean up that pet mess with natural cleaners. Or maybe you walk instead of drive, and dispose of a piece of trash someone else left along the way.


the coupler: my favorite tool of the trade

You know those professional dog walkers you see strolling down some posh and pleasantly-busy street of New York or Beverly Hills, fifteen leashes as organized as a bunch of balloons? Me neither. Except in the movies. I’m certain they exist, somewhere, it’s just that I haven’t seen one in real life. Seeing is believing.

I want to be that dog walker.

Until then, I use leash couplers. When walking multiple dogs, they cut your leashes in half. Even if you are only walking two dogs, it will make your life so much easier.

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One of my couplers, in action. The Golden Retriever is perfectly behaved on a leash (not my dog), and the terrier pulls and runs frantically all over the place for the majority of the walk (my dog). The golden isn’t bothered by it because the coupler allows for it.

A coupler is purchased as an accessory to your leash. They come in different sizes. I prefer a medium size since I walk different sized dogs all the time. It seems to work both for larger and smaller dogs. You hook your leash to the coupler as you would your dog’s collar. The coupler splits and makes two leashes from one. Hook one dog up to each end. One leash to hold. Two dogs. Ahhhh.

You can walk two big dogs, two little dogs, or one big dog and one little dog…they work with any combo. You can adjust the length of each split to accommodate your needs. If one dog pulls and the other doesn’t, it really won’t affect the well-behaved pooch because the force of the pull is dispersed. They can walk around each other and switch sides with ease because the bottom of your leash swivels and spins. Tangles just don’t happen.

You can even get couplers with more than two splits. Whoa.

The only issue with couplers? If one dog stops and the other doesn’t, the dog in motion might get an abrupt stop, or the stopped dog might get dragged (depending on which dog is stronger). This might happen if one stops to “do his business” or if one wants to sniff something. It’s really not that big of a deal, and is a much preferable problem than the dreaded tangled leash dance done by multiple leashes, in my opinion.

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Adjustable coupler.

You can purchase a coupler at most pet stores, but you’ll find a wider selection of sizes and styles online.

Give it a try and let us know what you think. You’ll even be able to take a photo with your free hand!