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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.

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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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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!


poop disposal: let’s get it right

Picking up your dog’s poop is part of being a responsible pet owner. People who don’t are simply disgusting and self-centered (yes, I’m judging).

It’s very common for us to save our plastic grocery bags for just that purpose. We feel like we’re putting them to good use, right? Recycling? And it’s easy to just grab one or two on our way out the door. What we are really doing is putting the most biodegradable, natural (though bacteria-filled) material in the world into one of the most permanent, environmentally-damaging receptacles in existence. Oops. Don’t feel too guilty. I’ve done it a time or two, myself.

Since just leaving the excrement where it’s deposited isn’t an option (no, really), what can we do? Enter the biodegradable poop bag. Some degrade faster than others, and there are more features (extra long for extra protection, scented, etc….hmmm, this is getting interesting) than you can imagine. We like Earth Rated Poop Bags. If they aren’t carried in a store near you, you can purchase them online.

Though the grocery bags are convenient, you and the environment are much better off investing a few dollars in reusable grocery bags and ditching the hole-filled freebies. Purchasing biodegradable poop bags is quite economical–usually only a few dollars for more than a hundred bags! And you’ll feel so much better.

Well Minded uses biodegradable bags for dog walks and litter scooping whenever possible, and, as always, if you provide the biodegradable bags for us to use, you get a dollar-a-day credit on your invoice, which would most likely pay for your bags, anyway.


tails on trails today: who’s guiding whom?

When I began Well Minded, I envisioned it primarily as a pet sitting business, but I didn’t want to close myself off. I’m an entrepreneur and an adventurer at heart, so I didn’t want to discount the possibility of going into training or grooming, both of which I have come to learn are not my strengths. Although I like to try lots of things, I recognize my weaknesses and try to focus elsewhere. I’m good at caring for animals.

I love to hike. It’s an activity I took up only after moving to AZ. There are countless trails in Phoenix, and my favorite local spot is South Mountain. I recently decided to combine my love of hiking and my love of animals. I started “Tails on Trails,” small-group hikes for dogs. Once a week, I pick up dogs, drive them to the trails, provide secure leashes, water, poop bags, and post-hike pictures to my clients so they can see our adventures.

Though we’ve had other dogs sometimes join the ranks, today it was just me and my two really regular regulars. They have been to every hike since the start, and we definitely have a multifaceted bond. When I arrive for pick-up, the brown one goes ape-shit. The black one is calm, yet welcoming. Both are SO excited that I’m there, and they know why I’m there. They enjoy the car ride to the trails. When we first hit the dirt, they go, then sniff. Mark. Walk. Trot. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Mark. And then I tell them “that’s enough,” and they seem to understand that though there will be countless animal smells, excrement aromas, and tiny fast-moving reptiles, birds, and small mammals to grasp their attentions and snap their necks in this direction and that, we’re there to hike. And hiking means moving. So then about five minutes in, we get into our groove. And then they go poop. And then we get going, for reals.

Enjoying the spring wildflowers.

Enjoying the spring wildflowers.

Trotters.

Trotters.

While they get over all of that, I’m making sure the leash isn’t cutting my wrist in the wrong place, my phone (for camera access) is in the most strategic pocket, and that my underwear isn’t riding in the wrong spot since we’re in it for the long haul. When we hit our stride, and we’re all in sync, I feel like something was meant to be. The dogs start to pick up the pace, and so do I. They navigate the trail beautifully, and I pick my footing as if I had instinct for the thing. We do this jog/walk/hike thing that feels good. Just as I notice a nice view, they slow down, as if they recognize something to be seen beyond the dusty trail their noses run along. And they show me details in the path.

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Beautiful faces.