Thursday, January 27, 2011

Too Much?

Dear Universe, 

This week sucked.  Ok, yesterday and today sucked.  Tomorrow had better be an improvement because otherwise I might punch someone in the teeth.  

Yes, I got rear-ended last night, but no, no one was hurt and my car isn't totaled.  

If it were totaled, would it have been so wrong to get one of these?

 
Dog bone floor mats?


Built-in ramp?



Cute little paw print decal?


And did I mention the dog-print seat covers, the electric doggie fan, the built-in car kennel, and the doggie bed? 

Whaddya think?

Too much? 

I'll be in bed if you need me.  But I wouldn't push your luck.   

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quack?

Tonight's Treat review is going to be minimal.  Think doggie donut, but with an actual review.  I'm in a teensy bit of a funk tonight and that might have something to do with this minimalistic approach.  Let me know what you think, though.  Sometimes just the facts, m'am, is better than gobs of information.  

Plato Pet Treats (Duck Strips)


I'll admit, it took me a while to get over the fact that these treats are made with duck.  I like ducks.  They're cute and they eat slugs (I hate slugs) and they paddle around in lakes and rivers minding their own business and quacking at their ducklings and it's a little sad to think about feeding them to TLB.  So, for the sake of Her Dog Blog, I'll try to ignore my mushy feelings toward them.  



I think I ate duck once at the Melting Pot.

It was pretty good.  Then again, if you drench anything in that much cheese its got a fighting chance. 

I will be a vegetarian someday, I will be a vegetarian someday, I will be a vegetarian someday... 

1.  Price - $9.99 for a 6 oz. bag is just ok.  I guess these are unique enough to spend a little more...and the bag is pretty full.  Am I justifying? 

2.  Quality - Made in the U.S. (Indiana, to be exact) in Plato's own factory!  Music to my ears.

3.  Benefits - Hmmm...what are the benefits of a duck meat treat?  Plato points out the interesting fact that up to 20% of dogs have food allergies and duck is a great alternative for those who can't consume chicken, beef, etc.  Good point, Plato.  Duck is also a good source of protein and amino acids. 

4.  Ingredients/Features - It's safe to say that this is one of the few treats out there that lists duck as a main ingredients.  As I said earlier, duck is a great source of protein and amino acids.  The other ingredients in this treat include such winners as brown rice (B vitamins and fiber!) and rosemary extract (prevents against cancer!). 

5.  T-Factor - TLB has liked these treats from the minute I opened the bag.  They must smell wonderful.  While he does chew this treat well, he doesn't quite savor it.  I haven't tried it myself (hey, don't put it past me), but this treat seems like it would dissolve if you held it in your mouth for a while.  For that reason, I think he likes to gobble it up pretty quickly.   

6.  Uniqueness/Fun - Nothing really stands out here!   

Plato's Duck Strips earn a score of six out of ten.  While we like that they are comprised of good ingredients and that Plato has addressed the important issue of food allergies with this flavor, we would like a lower price point.

Also, this is a bit of a strange treat in terms of feeding guidelines.  It's not small enough to be a training treat, nor can it be easily broken to become such.  Thus, we use Plato's Duck Strips as a once-a-day type of goodie.  That's great, but you can only have so many just 'cause treats, whereas training treats are much more versatile. 

Check out Plato's website for more information.  They've got quite the range of treats!  I think we'll have to try some more...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rave Light!

Howdy!


Cute doesn't even do this photo justice.  TLB was stylin' even at a young age.  Check out that Ruff Wear collar and Red Dingo tag.  I won't mention the obvious.  Puppy tent! 

I was MIA on Tuesday because I had a gnarly headache and went to bed at 8:30 PM.  Granny!  So, sorry 'bout that.  

I'm back with an Essentials review! 

Pet Blinkers from Flipo (in blue/white)  

I picked this safety light up about a year and a half ago at a local pet store.  Teton is completely black so it's almost impossible to see him when we're outside in the dark.  This is especially (potentially) dangerous during evening and/or early morning walks or when we're camping or hiking and he is off-leash.  

There are lots of pet safety lights on the market.  Not sure why I chose this one...maybe I was stupefied by the alternating, flashing colors?

 
This little contraption was $9.99!  I WAS ROBBED.  Keep in mind that this purchase was made:  1) in a rush (we had a camping trip that weekend and I didn't have time to order a safety light online) and 2) when I was a new Dog Mom and didn't blink an eye at ridiculous purchases/prices on pet items because, well, they were for my little dude.   

Yes, ladies and gents, Google Shop for this very item and you will see it for not $9.99, not $7.99, but $4.00 

Yeouch. 

So, I learned my lesson.  

The Flipo Pet Blinker is fairly easy to use.  It comes with a replacement battery but since we use it only on evening/early morning walks or when we're camping, I haven't had to bust it out yet.  

To turn the Pet Blinker on, simply press the black, squishy dot on the side. 


video


Mesmerizing, isn't it?

I like that the Pet Blinker has a clip that makes it easy to remove and attach.  And I think that the alternating blue and white colors are great.  

We call TLB's Pet Blinker his rave light.  Once he's old enough to stay out past nine he's planning on hitting up some sweet raves.  

I always feel a little more at ease when TLB wears his rave light  on early morning and evening walks.  It's definitely a must-pack-item on camping trips, too.  Honestly, though...I'm looking into upgrading to a bigger, brighter safety light.  TLB just has too much fur for this little Pet Blinker to be effective. 

So, on to the rating!  

1.  Price - $9.99 is way too high for this item.  It's tiny and the quality is not worthy of that kind of price tag.  

2.  Quality - It feels a little on the cheap side (sorry, Flipo!).  Sometimes the on/off button sticks and other times you have to push it just right for the light to come on.  

3.  Benefits - Obviously, the benefits of this item are huge.  Safety is so, so important (especially when you have a dog that is difficult to see in the dark!). 

4.  Ingredients/Features - I think that the Pet Blinker's main feature is that it blinks in alternating colors.  This is awesome in my opinion because it draws more attention to the area surrounding your pet.  

5.  T-Factor - The Pet Blinker doesn't bother TLB.  That, to me, is a win.  A lot of pet safety items are big and bulky or uncomfortable and this item is none of those.  

6.  Uniqueness/Fun - If you thrive on compliments surrounding your pet and enjoy discussing pet products with other dog owners (oh, not everyone likes talking about the latest trends in pet products?), this is a good product for you!  This safety light is different from others on the market because it blinks in two different colors.  I've been stopped a few times and asked about it or been complimented on my using it for TLB.  

Taking all elements into account, TLB and I give Flipo's Pet Blinker a score of five out of 10.  Shocked?  I am, too.  But price and quality aren't everything, people.  In this situation, the benefits of the Pet Blinker outweigh the hefty price tag.  And, the reality is that if you are interested in this particular type of safety light, you can find it for much cheaper online.  

Like I said, I'm in the market for a new safety light for Teton.  My criteria?  Under $15, blinks in either alternating colors or a bright white, can be easily removed/attached to his leash, collar, or harness, and is not bulky, heavy, or cumbersome.  Any suggestions, pet product junkies?

Until next time...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Walkies and Blue Vanilla

Every weekend should be a three-day one.  Does anyone ever really feel completely rejuvenated after just two days?  I know I don't.  It's only mid-afternoon on the final day of my weekend so I have plenty of time to get lots more done and relax before the work week starts.  

This morning my mom and I took the dogs (TLB and his Uncle Kasey) for a nice, long walk.  It was freezing.  I guess I got a little cocky this weekend just wearing light jackets.  We both froze our heinies off and totally regretted not wearing gloves.  The walk was entertaining, though, because we put the dogs on one of those dual-leash-attachment things and they looked like they were mushing in the Iditarod.  


Pretty cool invention, though.  We'll see how it goes with the boys and let you know in a review later down the road. 

I guess this post is all about Mom 'cause she introduced me to the treats on the docket for today.  Thanks for lookin' out, Ma!

Blue Vanilla Bakery's Peanut Butter Sammys!    


This TREAT is made locally at the Blue Vanilla Bakery in Des Moines, WA.  That's Washington, people.  Not Iowa.  


One bag of eight treats was  $4.00.  

Curious as to how Peanut Butter Sammys got their name?  This is probably my favorite naming story ever.

There's a story behind how we named each of the treats: In our neighborhood, we have lots of dogs and every evening several of us go walking together. It's a chance for the people as well as the dogs to socialize. The dogs in the walking group are Samson (Sammy), Brady, Allie, Cody, Bear, Blossom, Roslyn (Ros) and, of course, Henry. There is a treat named for each of them. The last treat – Olive O’s – was named for Henry’s cousin, a little black cocker spaniel who we loved dearly. She left us on September 4, 2010.

Henry's Honey Biscuits
Peanut Butter Sammys
Brady Bones
Allie Cats
Cody Crackers
Brown Bears
Blossom Bits
Ros Straws
Olive O's 


Awesome, right?  It makes me want to not only buy all of the different treats, but meet all of the dogs behind them!  

Mom knows TLB well.  He loves him some peanut butter!


Ingredients? 


We're lookin' at whole wheat flour, cornmeal, oats, water, canola oil, peanut butter, and eggs.

Ok, so not a huge fan of the flour and cornmeal since many dogs have allergies, but I'm down with all the other ingredients!  Canola oil, egss, peanut butter, and oats all have great benefits.  

Both Kasey and Teton like these treats a lot.  Mom is keeping them in the fridge since they don't have any preservatives (yes!) which makes them nice 'n crunchy.   

Let's do this thing! 

1.  Price - $4.00 for a bag of eight fairly large treats is a pretty darn good deal if you ask me!

2.  Quality  - These treats are made locally in a family-owned bakery.  All you have to do is read the story of how each flavor was named and you'll know that these treats are made with love! 

3.  Benefits -  This treat has ingredients that are beneficial to your dog's daily health.  However, it is a basic, crunchy treat so I wouldn't say that the overall benefits are outstanding.  This is a for fun treat. 

4.  Ingredients/Features -  Blue Vanilla is pretty much spot-on.  Peanut butter, eggs, and oats?!  I think those are some of TLB's favorite things!  Teton hasn't demonstrated an allergy to whole wheat flour or cornmeal, but many dogs out there have.  Lose those two ingredients (but keep the rest!) and I'd be one happy blogger. 

5.  T-Factor -  He's not doing cartwheels (must YouTube cartwheeling dog), but he liked 'em.  

6.  Uniqueness/Fun - With a naming story like theirs, how can my heart not get all squishy when I think about these treats?  What a fun concept.

Taking into account all six rating elements, we give Blue Vanilla Bakery's Peanut Butter Sammys a seven out of 10.  They scored high on Price, Quality, Ingredients, and Uniqueness/Fun.  Like I said earlier, I would classify this as a for fun treat, so the Benefits piece isn't necessarily going to be there. 

Thanks for sharing your story, Blue Vanilla!  

And, yes, I did YouTube cartwheeling dog

    

Have a great evening!    

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Bit-O-Luv

Tomorrow is Friday!  Thank goodness.  And, for those of us who have Monday off next week, that means a three-day weekend is in sight!  

Today's review is on Bit-O-Luv's Bistro Beef Recipe treats!  

Keeping in line with my new reviewing guidelines, this product falls under the TREAT category and will be reviewed on the following elements:  price, quality, benefits, ingredients/features, T-Factor, and uniqueness/fun. 


Ignore the random "H2102" sticker on the bag.  Not sure why that's there, but it might have something to do with the fact that the FedEx guy at my old company got these treats for free somewhere and gave them to Teton.  We miss the FedEx guy.  



Let's check out the ingredients...


We like that the first two ingredients are beef and chicken.  Also, Bit-O-Luv doesn't use any by-products, artificial colors or flavors, or wheat.  We're not too jazzed about the sodium nitrate and potassium sorbate, though. 


Someone's being downright tortured!  (Bet you can't guess where the treats in the close-up above were laying...) 


Since TLB got the hook up with these treats, we obviously didn't buy them.  My research indicates that one 4-oz bag of Bit-O-Luv Bistro Beef Recipe treats is about $4.99.  


In that last photo, TLB is giving me the look.  It says, "Ok, lady.  I'm not messing around here.  Drop the treat and no one gets hurt." 

So, let's rate these bad boys! 

1. Price - $4.99 for a 4-oz bag is a decent price.  These treats are easily broken to become training nibbles and/or can be given in full form as a little extra somethin' somethin'.

2.  Quality  - Ok, so I'm still figuring out this new rating system, but I would say that, going off of what is on the Bit-O-Luv packaging, the fact that this product is made in Oregon (AKA - is made in the United States) with some good ingredients means that the quality, at least on the surface, is decent. 

3.  Benefits -  I don't see any real benefits in this product.  It doesn't clean TLB's teeth, it doesn't mentally stimulate him, etc.  

4.  Ingredients/Features -  I can see that this element is much like Quality, so I may have to re-evaluate.   I'm on the fence with Bit-O-Luv's Bistro Beef Recipe ingredients.  It's about 50/50 in my opinion.  

5.  T-Factor -  TLB likes these treats.  They remind me of human beef jerky and they have a pretty distinct aroma, so I think that may contribute to the fact that I haven't opened the bag in 45 minutes but he is still laying at my feet gazing up at me longingly.  

6.  Uniqueness/Fun - I'm not going to take this element into consideration because I don't feel like Bit-O-Luv has it.

Drumroll, please...

Taking the new elements into consideration, we give Bit-O-Luv's Bistro Beef Recipe treats a five out of 10.  Of the six different elements, this treat hit Price, Quality, and T-Factor.

As I said earlier, I'm not so sure that the Quality element is going to work with some products, but I'll stick with it for a while and see where it takes us. 

Thanks for sticking with me while I perfect this rating system! 

A side note before I jet:  One of my awesome readers asked where dog clothing will fit into product categories.  Props for thinking of something that I didn't give enough thought to!  For now, we'll put dog clothing into the Essential category with the caveat that I will (probably) never review actual dog clothing such as sweaters or tiaras.  Rather, a clothing item in the Essential category will likely be something like snow boots or a raincoat.  We'll see how it goes! 

Have a good night, y'all!     

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some Tweaking...

Evenin'! 

It's us.  The Little Blogger and Her Dog Blogger. 


We've been doing some housekeeping on the blog. 

First, a super cool header is in the works.  No ETA yet.  But it's a-comin'.

And second, I've come up with a new way to rate products that I think will be more effective, efficient, and fun.  

Products will be divided into eight categories.

1.  Food - This will include food that is considered a daily diet item such as Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural dog food.

2.  Treat - This will include supplemental treats intended as periodic goodies for your furry friend or for use in training. 

3.  Chew - This category will encompass longer lasting treats that are intended for chewing purposes.

4.  Dental - This will include supplemental treats whose main purpose is to provide oral hygiene  such as Blue Buffalo's Blue Bones.

5.  Toy - This will include any toy meant for entertainment or physical/mental stimulation purposes.

6.  Essential - This category will include any item that is considered an essential for a dog owner such as a leash or shampoo.

7.  For The Home -  This will include any item that is related to your dog but that directly influences the home atmosphere such as a feeding station or kennel.

8.  Dog Moms and Dads -  This category will include any item that is specifically for you Dog Moms and Dads such as a t-shirt or piece of jewelry.

Whaddya' think?  Did I miss anything?

Once an item has been identified as belonging to one of these categories, it will be rated on the following five elements.

1.  Price - Whether an item scores well in this area will depend on the category of item we're dealing with.  That is, an essential item such as a collar will likely cost more than a supplemental training treat.

2.  Quality  - This will have to do with how well a product is made and what sort of longevity it has.

3.  Benefits - For example, a dental chew will likely have all sorts of hygiene benefits whereas a toy may have mental stimulation benefits.

4.  Ingredients/Features - If it's a food or treat item, ingredients will be considered.  If it's a toy, essential, or other item, it's features and materials will be under the microscope.  

5.  T-Factor - This element will encompass what TLB's reaction is to the item that is being reviewed.

And for extra points...

6.  Uniqueness/Fun - This element will exist for those special items that really knock our socks off.  For example, if an item is made from completely recycled materials, it'll get extra points in this category.  

I know it's  a lot to take it right now, but I think that categorizing a product and rating it based on the five (sometimes six) elements that I've listed above will make the reviews more fun to read and help you better select items for your pet(s).  

Look for the new layout in Thursday's review!  

Have a great night!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dog Nip!

Yo!  My Saturday has gone by way too fast.  I still have a million things to do this weekend!  

One of the things on my to-do list is to work on the blog.  It needs some pizazz.  I've been working on both design and content changes...but I'm still undecided on some things.  Stay tuned! 

Today's review is on Dog Nip's Catch of the Day Alaska Salmon Oil.  Whew.  That's a mouthful.


Dog Nip's Catch of the Day has a lot of cool products.  Check them all out at Free Range Dog Chews.  In fact, one of TLB's all-time favorite treats is their Stuffed Salmon Skin Knotted Bones with Sweet Potato.  And yes, they do smell quite fishy.  

There are a few different companies that sell salmon oil.  In general, for a 16 oz bottle like this one, they are going to cost somewhere between $13 and $20.

Salmon oil is good for dogs because it is high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  This translates to a healthier coat and better skin.  It doesn't hurt that most dogs (and cats!) love the taste of salmon.   

COTD's Alaskan Salmon Oil has just two ingredients - salmon oil and rosemary extract, which is known to prevent cancer. 


Because COTD's Alaskan Salmon Oil is on the expensive side, TLB only gets it every other day.  As you know, I mix lots of other yummies into his dry food on non-salmon oil days, so that way every different product is a special treat!


I start with TLB's bowl of dry food.  It's best to keep salmon oil in the fridge, and I find that this is true of a lot of dog treats (especially sweet potato chews).  If your dog gets a variety of treats, why not pop them in the fridge?  They'll keep longer and the cold will make them nice and crunchy.  Of course, if you have a dog with sensitive teeth, this may not be the best idea.


COTD recommends the following number of pumps of salmon oil (based on your dog's weight):

Up to 12.5 lbs:  1/2 - 1 pump
12.5 - 25 lbs:  1 - 2 pumps  
25 - 50 lbs:  3 - 4 pumps
50 - 75 lbs:  5 - 6 pumps
Over 75 lbs:  7 - 9 pumps

Since TLB is about 32 lbs, he gets three pumps of salmon oil.  

    
While he patiently waits (please note drool), I swirl his bowl around to mix that delicious oil all up! 



Mmmm....


TLB is down with the salmon oil.  

We give Dog Nip's Catch of the Day Alaskan Salmon Oil a seven out of 10.  It has minimal ingredients that provide great benefits, it tastes yummy to TLB (and, I'm willing to bet, to most dogs), and it lasts a long time (especially if you use it intermittently with other dry food mix-ins).  

The one and only downside to this (and any other) salmon oil is the price tag.  It's up to you to decide if it's worth it.  Since we use it sparingly and only three to four times a week, it's definitely on our must-have list! 

Have a great evening! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Merrick Turkey Patties

Hello, 2011!  Can you believe it's already January 4th?!  

This year is off to a great start.  New job, new resolutions, new adventures...

We started our morning walks again today.  Yep.  5:30 AM in 27 degree weather.  Mom said, "Well, it's warmer today." 

Um...yeah. 

I had to drag TLB out of bed and, as per usual, he went straight back to bed once we got back from our walk.  

Maybe he was extra sleepy because he was full from last night's treat. 


You may remember these treats from TLB's Christmas stocking.  This "short stack" (love that they call it that) is a pack of five turkey steak patties with, you guessed it, one ingredient.  Turkey!  

Can't get much better than that.  

This five-pack was $4.49 at a locally-owned pet store.  That's about right because when I buy Merrick Turkey Patties as singles, they are $0.99.  


We may have opened these immediately after Christmas...

One ingredient at its finest! 


This is an extra special treat for TLB because it doesn't last long or boast any amazing benefits.  MTPs are very hard and crunchy and they crumble when bitten into.  For that reason, I usually only give him half at a time.  You can break 'em into smaller pieces, too.  


MTPs are definitely a supplemental treat.  As much as TLB loves them, I only buy them three or four times a year.  

We give Merrick Turkey Patties a six out of 10.  They're extra tasty (I know this because of how nutso TLB gets when I take them out of the treat cupboard), they have just one ingredient (and a healthy one at that), and they are not insanely expensive.  Because they don't boast any jaw dropping benefits, it's hard to give them a score of seven.  


See you Thursday for another treat review! 

On a non-treat related note, to my follow bloggers:  I had a panic moment earlier this evening when Blogger told me that I was out of space for uploading photos.  It gave me the option of buying more space, but I'm a cheapskate so I just deleted some of my albums from Picasa.  What's up with that?  Do sites like WordPress do that?  Help!