Watering the Dogs: A Water Trough Review

Simon hates bathes. Simon loves water. Simon loves to spill his water bowls and get himself soaking wet. But Simon hates bathes. Go figure.

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About two summers ago when Rosee became a new and permanent fixture in my family’s life one thing became painstakingly clear. Two medium silver bowls (otherwise made for feeding) filled with water and left in the backyard for Simon and Rosee were not going to cut it. Even before the family adopted Rosee, Simon had started to make a habit of knocking over his water bowls because he much rather liked to play with his water than drink it. At the time we would often leave Simon safely secured in our backyard if we were only going to be gone for an hour or so, and every single time we returned we found him dripping wet and his two water bowls clear across the yard. The silly boy was always super thirsty and would lap up a bowl of water once we refilled them, but every time we left him alone he would dump them nonetheless. Clearly, a solution was needed. It was summer and he couldn’t be without access to water, not to mention the amount of water we were wasting because of his escapades. A solution became even more paramount once we got Rosee and realized that the water bowls tipped over even faster than before. While Simon liked to play with the water, Rosee was more enamored with the bowls themselves (see Pawndered Thought March 9, 2015). So, off to the pet store we went.

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Unfortunately, the local pet stores offered few options besides slightly bigger water bowls. At one point my mother bought the dogs a stand (similar to this one), thinking that Simon and Rosee would leave the bowls be if they couldn’t get to them. Yeah. . . . it worked for about a day until the two decided ripping apart the plastic stand was more fun than running around after their water bowls. Water ended up all over them and the bowls were still used as playthings, along with that poor, poor stand. On with the search.

It wasn’t until my mother had dragged my sister Theresa and me to our local hardware and gardening store that I discovered gold, or at least the canine-water-bowl version of it. While perusing the planter aisle I came upon a simple oval grey planter that was about two feet long, one foot wide, and one foot deep.

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Now, I know what you all are thinking: It’s a planter! But it was also the perfect size for a dog’s water trough. More specifically, this particular planter was the perfect size for two headstrong mutts to fit their heads in at the same time, and heavy enough when filled so that those same headstrong mutts could not flip it over or drag it around the backyard as a toy. The instant I discovered the trough I had a Goldilocks moment, ready to shout to the world “This one’s just right!” The trough was perfect, especially with its reasonable price of about $25, and has continued to be a great buy for Simon and Rosee and their rambunctious ways.

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Anytime Simon decides to make a mad dash for the trough, with or without his toy, he always manages to make it with his two front feet in the water and yet the thing never moves. Both square heads fit in the trough at the same time, making drinking water easy and comfortable. The trough also holds a large amount of water, important when you have dogs that like to drink their weight in water (seriously, Simon has to be told to stop sometimes). Though it gets heavy when full, the trough is still movable (by a human), easily contending with the roving sun throughout the day. All in all, the trough was an awesome buy that certainly gets a lot of use, making its introductory price totally worth it.

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The only problem (if you could even call if that) with the trough is that it has to be washed about once a month. Because the trough does holding standing water it occasionally gets little green spots along the bottom, but these spots are easily taken care of with a little dish soap and a paper towel. About once a month, otherwise as necessary, I’ll empty out the trough, give it a good scrub with aforementioned soap and towel, and rinse it out leaving it good as new. Simon and Rosee particularly enjoy the filling it up part, loving to drink straight from the nozzle.

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I guess they like their water best when aerated, such posh dogs!

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Point: get creative when it comes to finding necessities for your dog. Don’t just go to pet stores, but look around you at hardware stores, gardening stores, and anything else there is in order to find whatever it is that you need for your dog. If my mother hadn’t of dragged me with her to buy even more replacement flowers (because Rosee had already pulled up the ones originally planted with Simon as her willing accomplice) I never would have wandered down the planter aisle and found the trough that has faithfully served the dogs for the past two years. I would have had to continue dealing with wet dogs and scattered bowls, instead of knowing the peace I now have. Simon and Rosee would not have the comfort of always available water, even though they are no longer left outside alone (entirely different reasons apply). And above all, Simon would not have his own little pool in which to cool his feet and toy.

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His nose is currently stuck in the middle of his toy. Perhaps the water tastes better when lapped up through blue rubber.

 

To Chip or Not to Chip…There Really Should be No Question

As always let’s start with a tale.

Late last night we spotted a dog wandering up and down our street. He wasn’t very big, nor was he very old. In fact, he looked to be about 6 months old. At the time it was strange to find him just wandering around outside because it was about 10pm, no one was out, and because we walk Simon and Rosee every day we pretty much know all the dogs in the neighborhood, but neither Monica or I recognized this dog. Yet, here was this puppy looking for his home. It soon became obvious that he had no idea where home was and to top it all off he wasn’t wearing a collar. We figured that he hadn’t been out long because he was dry and it had been raining, and we found that he must have had his dinner because he wasn’t hungry when we offered him food. He was a really sweet dog and extremely well behaved, but already having two dogs (one of which is not exactly easily accepting of other dogs) it was hard to decide what to do with him. It’s not to say that we were going to leave him outside to wander the streets, especially because he was heading towards a busier road on the outskirts of town and would most likely be hit by a car. Nonetheless, bringing in an extra dog to our home was not exactly a scenario we were prepared for. We didn’t know if he had all of his shots, was socialized with other dogs, was house trained, etc. Yet, we couldn’t just leave him, and there was really no one to call since it was so late. Even if we could have called our local animal services I was hesitant because if he didn’t have a microchip he would become a ward of the shelter, and I didn’t want him to become another statistic. We tried looking for his owner by walking him up and down the surrounding streets for about 45 minutes, but ultimately came up empty. It seemed that this dog had appeared out of thin air, or (much worse) was dumped by his owners. Still, we tried to remain optimistic, and due to his amicable personality believed that he must have had caring owners that were missing him terribly. Unfortunately, being that it was so late at night there wasn’t much more we could do, and decided that first thing in the morning we were going to take him to our vet clinic and see if he was microchipped.

Come the next morning we took our new friend to the vet and he was scanned for a microchip. Fortunately, he had one and his owner was quickly contacted. It turned out his owner lived only a few blocks over from us and came to get him soon after he was called. After the puppy was returned to his owner it was a big relief. When we first found him outside walking around we didn’t hesitate to help, but we were afraid of what we would do with him if his owners couldn’t be found. There was no way to keep him for an extended period of time, but if it turned out he didn’t have an owner, I didn’t just want to abandon him to a shelter where he probably wouldn’t be adopted. He was just too nice of a dog and too young to end up at a shelter hoping to be adopted. Thankfully, all these worries were for naught.

This story could have turned out very differently. A family could have lost their pet, and a very sweet dog could have never been able to find his home again. Or worse, a dog could have been left to fend for himself. Now, I am extremely glad that this wasn’t the case with the puppy we found, but for many pets that somehow get out of their house or away from their owners this is what happens. I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if my either Simon or Rosee went missing. In fact, when I was younger my family had a cat, Princess, who was an indoor/outdoor cat and I had a hard time not knowing where she went during the day. Thankfully, she mostly stayed in our front and backyard during the day and came inside at night. Still, I’m sure we all want to do what we can to ensure our pet’s remain with us, and while training your dog is a big part of it, so is microchipping. I really cannot express just how strongly I feel about microchips. Every dog should be microchipped. (Many people also microchip their cats, but I’m only talking about dogs here.) Microchips are relatively inexpensive, simple, and are a way to attach owner information to a dog in case something happens to their collar. Of course, microchips aren’t tracking systems, although I don’t understand how this hasn’t been worked out yet given that you can wear a watch with a phone, but they do a lot to help lost dogs return home. So, in case I didn’t say it enough: microchip, microchip, microchip!

Microchipping is only the beginning however. There are multiple manufacturers of microchips, and it usually depends on which type of chip your veterinarian prefers to determine which your pet receives. For instance, Simon has an AVID chip, while Rosee has a 24 PET WATCH chip. Once your dog is chipped the most important thing to remember is to register the chip. Just because your dog is microchipped doesn’t mean that the chip is activated. In order to activate the microchip it needs to be registered and there are a few options to consider. Most people probably register their dog’s microchip with the respective company. Personally, I decided not do this for Simon and Rosee because I wanted to research all my options before deciding. Unfortunately, there is no one universal database where all microchip numbers and information is stored. Rather, after a microchip is scanned the number can be looked up in the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. Despite its name this tool is not exactly universal since it only contains information on microchips that are registered with companies that elect to participate in its program. Still, it is the main database that shelters, rescues, humane organizations, veterinarians, and pet owners use to look up microchip numbers. After a bunch of researching various registries I ultimately decided to register Simon and Rosee with Petkey. I chose Petkey because it offered the most at a reasonable price. Not only was this registry part of the AAHA program, but as part of their services if your dog goes missing you can immediately go into your profile and report them as missing. Doing so will trigger what Petkey calls an “Alert” and it will be sent to vet offices, shelters, pet businesses, and other Petkey members in your community. Plus, their customer service people have always been helpful, and, most importantly, very nice whenever I’ve called.

I know microchipping your pet may seem over the top to some. Especially is your dog is well trained to stay by your side on or off a leash, and not to run out your front door. However, sometimes accidents happen or something spooks your dog and they may run off and not remember how to get back home. I’d like to believe that if anything ever happened to my dogs they would do as the animals in Homeward Bound did and find me no matter where I was. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple or always that easy. That’s why I think there really should be no question when it comes to microchipping your dog.

Where’s the Beef?: Hill’s Science Diet Training Treats Review

It was a cold day in November. Early too. Really early. Earlier than I had been up in a good, long while. Early enough so that the sun wasn’t even out yet. Earlier. . . well you get the idea. It was early and I was awake, anticipating one of the greatest moments of my life. What was that magical moment you ask? It was Black Friday at PetSmart.

Now, Black Friday is well known as that short day after Thanksgiving where most major retail stores have deep discounts on big ticket items. Usually a day where people are up and out at all times of night and day, Black Friday is very much its own national holiday at this point in American society. So, with little sleep yet a renewed sense of vigor my family and I set out to be some of the firsts in line when PetSmart finally opened its doors Friday morning. Why work so hard to be one of the first to enter the store? Because you get free stuff, obviously! Employees where handing out free stockings for your pet to the first fifty or so people (I don’t remember the exact number) to come into the store. Christmas had come early, and we hadn’t even gotten to the savings further inside the store! As you can tell (read), I was excited.

After grabbing my free stocking, along with the other members of my family, I headed out to grab a whole list of items. First on the list was dog food. My family loaded up two carts with four thirty-five pounds bags of deeply discounted dog food. Um. . . score! Next came snatching up a new litter box system for our cat (he’s gotten tired of regular litter in his old age). Somehow, picking out a new litterbox turned into also needing to grab a new cat tree, and since the cat trees were right next to the dog treat aisle it only made sense that two boxes of MILK-BONE made their way into our carts as well. After successfully stuffing our two carts and having to carefully maneuver around the store and the hundreds of people currently inhabiting it, my group made our way to the cash registers and finally left the store.

When we finally arrived home I had time to investigate our score and low and behold the stockings were full of treat bags. The dog treats that were included were beef-flavored treats from Hill’s Science Diet. Now, I have heard of this brand of dog food before, seen it mostly filling out veterinarians’ offices, but it always seemed a little pricey and not a good fit for my dogs’ needs. However, who can argue with free treats? So, I decided to try them out and see if Simon or Rosee liked them. Boy did they ever!

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Named Hill’s Science Diet Soft and Chewy Training Treats with Real Beef , these nuggets are small, brown, and heart-shaped. They are slightly hard, so a little difficult to break in half, but they are small enough that they don’t need to be.

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The one downside is that these particular treats have a really strong smell. The minute you open the package you get this robust beef-flavored whiff stuck in your nose, surely strong enough to entice any dog with a nose. While Simon and Rosee certainly loved the smell, I did not. It reminded me of the way hot dogs smell (not exactly my favorite food), so needless to say I haven’t eaten many hot dogs since.

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Beyond the shape and smell though, these treats are quite good dog treats, though I don’t know if I would use them specifically for training purposes. They are smelly enough to get my dogs’ attention and cajole them into listening to me when nothing else works. However, these treats are a little rich, so best given in moderation and therefore not useful for training when treats need to be doled out in abundance. I can tell when my two have had a few too many because Simon starts to let out high-pitched squeals of air from his you-know-what and Rosee’s poo gets just a little too runny. So, while these treats are good and enticing I would caution anyone against handing out too many without expecting a different kind of smell to leak out of your dog. Though my two dogs do have rather sensitive stomachs, courtesy of their Boxer genes apparently, but even if your canine companion doesn’t I would still caution against too many of these Science Diet delicacies. Everything in moderation.

Now, I don’t know how much these Science Diet treats would cost normally, or what size bags they come in. A quick search on the PetSmart website shows a similar kind of treat from Science Diet, in this case chicken, coming in a 3oz bag and costing about $4. Given the fact that the chicken treat bag looks exactly like the beef one I have, I am left to assume the size and price for the beef treats correspond accordingly. So, if you find yourself looking for a new beef-flavored treat to add to your dog’s repertoire these Science Diet Training Treats with Real Beef might just be something worth trying. Or, because my cursory search on PetSmart’s website for these treats comes up empty, you might try the chicken flavored treats instead. Hopefully, chicken treats will be easier on the stomach, even if not on the nose. Happy treating!