Tag Archives: Review

Update: What does it mean exactly to be Tropiclean?

I know that it’s taken quite a bit longer to produce this update on the Tropiclean bathing system. Originally, I intended to do a week-by-week review for four weeks and share my thoughts on how things were going. However, after the second week of using the Tropiclean shampoo and treatment system I was convinced that I did something wrong.


In my initial review I was cautiously optimistic about the Tropiclean system. After the first time using it to bathe Simon and Rosee it really seemed to help their hotspots on their stomachs, they smelled great, and felt super soft. I did notice a bit of extra shedding, but I wasn’t really concerned…at first.

The second week of using the shampoo and treatment did not go well at all. We (meaning me and Monica) used both products the exact same way, yet afterwards the pups didn’t look nearly as nice. In fact, their coats looked very dingy and dull and they felt kind of grimy. They were gross.  The whole ordeal was terrible. So, naturally I assumed that we didn’t do something correctly. I was assured that we messed up some way, shape, or form in the bathing process. Maybe we didn’t let the shampoo and treatment set for long enough? Perhaps instead of waiting for five minutes we only waited for three? Did we not rinse them thoroughly? Seriously, I must have done something wrong!

Unfortunately, as the week went on Simon and Rosee just looked worse and worse. They were shedding like crazy. You couldn’t even touch them without your hand coming away with a handful of dog hair. Moreover, their skin was extremely flaky. I thought they were going through a purging phase, mainly due to the salicylic acid in both the shampoo and the treatment. (I know I’m comparing dog’s skin to human’s skin in this instance, but I’m grasping at straws for an explanation.) By the end of the week I was ready to bathe the pups again to see if I could stop the madness!

Sadly, baths for week 3 passed and week 4 came and went and there was no improvement in Rosee and Simon’s skin. In fact, their shedding problem and flaky skin just seemed to get worse. Pretty much immediately after they were done with their baths and completely dried they were covered in flakes and anytime they even moved it was just hair everywhere. I mean, they were just washed, but I didn’t even want to touch them because their skin was so gross.


It didn’t seem to matter how well we rinsed them to ensure all the soap was gone or how long we left the shampoo and treatment on them to ensure penetration, nothing made a difference. We gave their backs an extra scrub with the grooming mitt and spent a whole extra minute rinsing them, but it was mostly all for nothing. I’m pretty disappointed because I wanted the Tropiclean bathing system to work so much! I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Now, before I give my final opinions, I do have to be honest about another issue that popped up while using these products. Of course, I can’t say specifically that the Tropiclean products caused this particular issue. At the same time, this issue didn’t start until we started using these products. So what is the issue you ask? The issue (I know, seriously, how many times can I write that word?) is that Simon has started to react badly anytime we go to put either of the products on him. He sort of gives off a warning growl and curls his lips a little, which is sooo not how Simon acts. Luckily, in these moments he can be easily distracted with treats, but I don’t like that he has this reaction in the first place. It is almost as though he’s telling us that he doesn’t like the way the products feel on his skin. Again, I can’t prove that the Tropiclean products are 100% to blame for this bad reaction of Simon’s, yet it didn’t start until we began using this bathing system. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…

In my honest opinion I wish I had never used the Tropiclean shampoo and treatment system on Rosee and Simon. Before using these two products the pups had never had problems with shedding or flakes, yet after using them their skin has been nothing but flakes and major shedding issues. Plus, both pups are still pretty itchy and are constantly scratching and licking their sides and necks (two major itchy spots for them).  Then, there is Simon’s obvious dislike of the products and I just can’t justify buying this again. I actually don’t even want to continue using it, but I also hate the idea of wasting a something that was paid for. The only pro of using the Tropiclean system has been that it did get rid of their red hotspots on their stomachs. However, it seems that we traded one problem for at least four more!

I guess to be Tropiclean means to be anything but clean.

More than Fetch

Recently, I made sort of a whim of a purchase. I was walking around Petco and saw the Outward Hound Zip and Zoom Outdoor Agility Kit, and immediately thought it was pretty cool. I mean, the agility course comes with three obstacles and in a handy carrying case.


Really, how could I pass it up? I must admit though that I almost did pass up buying it due to the price. It was $50, which (to me at least) seems awfully expensive for something that comes in such a small bag and was not very heavy. Yet, I wanted it. I wanted it because it’s not something I’ve ever seen before. Of course, I have looked into dog agility courses previously, but besides books that cover building one’s own course or simply assume that the course pieces are easy accessible, I haven’t found an actual kit with pieces. Unfortunately, I am neither crafty nor handy enough with tools and such to build my own course obstacle pieces. DIY-er I am not. Still, I’ve wanted to try doing agility with Simon and Rosee for a while. Along with being a good form of physical exercise, agility training can also be mentally challenging for dogs, which is very good for dogs like Simon. I do know that actual training classes for agility are out there, but there’s really no class available close to us and these classes typically require your dog to listen to you well off leash. Regrettably, Simon does not listen so well off leash because he finds everything and everyone else he encounters more interesting, which is why he is only allowed off leash when we go to a dog park. Rosee is pretty similar, and, well, she is very lazy. If left to her own devices she’ll mostly choose to lay down and take a nap. She doesn’t like to exert herself if she doesn’t have to, and I can imagine she would decide to lay down instead of listen to me. Also, training classes can be expensive, and I wanted something that we could all do at home on our own time. As a result, I broke down my initial misgivings and decided to buy the Outward Hound Agility Kit to try.

The kit comes with three obstacles: a tunnel, weave poles, and a high jump.


It seemed like a pretty good deal at first, and very good for a beginner like me who doesn’t know too much about agility. I know the basics from watching the annual dog agility competitions, but, really, that’s not a whole lot. Luckily, this kit comes with a handy-dandy instruction manual along with a tunnel, eight poles (six for weaving and two for the jump), and several curved pieces that create a circle in which your dog is supposed to jump through. There are also metal spokes included to hold the tunnel down, stakes to attach to the poles to stick them in the ground, and clips that attach the circle-hoop jump to the poles that hold it up.


It’s all fairly easy to set up, and can easily be taken down and packed away when you’re down. I like the fact that it comes in a case because it makes storage easy and all the pieces can stay together so as to avoid losing any of them.

Now, I have to brutally honest here. While I may have initially liked the idea of this product, the actual product is kind of a letdown. The tunnel is awfully short, maybe three feet long.


The poles are made of very thin plastic and tend to fall down when a gust of wind hits them, let alone a 75 lb. dog. In fact, after setting up the weave poles Rosee decided she wanted in on the action and stole one. The plastic was so thin that just by her carrying the pole around in her mouth left it dented. She didn’t bite down, but rather simply held the plastic piece in her mouth, and when she dropped it it had two pretty serious dents—pretty disappoint.

IMG_2092 IMG_2091

Lastly, the circle-hoop is barely big enough for either Simon or Rosee to jump through, and some creative problem-solving was needed to create a jump that was actually usable. I actually had to take one of the weave poles and attached curved pieces to each of the ends to make a high jump that could accommodate Rosee and Simon.


Plus one of the tails from the tunnel that is used along with a metal spoke to attach the tunnel to the ground ripped way too easily. Seriously, all that happened was Rosee went through the tunnel and when she came out she hit the end and the tail ripped.

Tunnel tail with metal stake to hold it down.
The metal grommet ripped right off of the tunnel tail.

Despite all of these issues with the agility course I do have to say that Simon and Rosee along with us humans have had an awful lot of fun with it so far.


The course is not very big, but for the size of my backyard that’s okay. It fits on our small patch of grass, and is long enough to be good exercise. However, it’s not too long and overly complicated so as to have either Simon or Rosee become bored and run away to do something else– which Simon totally does by the way. Overall, I would recommend this product, but only if you happened to find it on sale or maybe you have a coupon. Frankly, I don’t think that it’s worth $50, especially considering the quality of the course pieces and the fact that it’s not really made for large dogs. There should be a recommendation on the tag that says for small to medium sized dogs (just my opinion, of course). Nevertheless, it is easy to use, to store, and has been fun to use so far.

She just loves it so much she can’t wait!

Knot Knot Good: A Review of a Flossy Chew

Like most good stories start: I was at the pet store with my mother. We were only supposed to be picking up a bag of dog food for the month, but the course of certain plans never does run smoothly. We quite easily found ourselves perusing the toy aisle, readily agreeing that Simon and Rosee haven’t been subjected to new bones in a while, and shouldn’t we get them two extra Kong toys just in case they rip the ones they already have, and oh, they also could use some extra bags of treats too since we’re here anyway. So, after getting a cart (because we just didn’t have enough hands between the two of us) and picking out a few new Nylabones and filling up two big bags with dog biscuits we started to make our way towards the checkout. Of course, this path meant we passed by a rather lively display of rope toys.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Rope toys? I thought tug-of-war wasn’t a good game to play with dogs? Doesn’t it teach them not to let go? Won’t rope toys shred too easily? Or maybe this is just what I was thinking as I debated with my mother whether or not a new rope toy was a necessary addition to our toy arsenal at home. It’s not that I don’t like rope toys. In fact Simon and Rosee have had a few over the past few years, one of which actually making it in time for this blog (see Super 8 Dog Toy). However, others have not been so lucky. The truth is between two strong dogs that like to pull on and shred rope, rope toys simply have not lasted very long within our household. So, I was reluctant to bring another one home, only to have to throw it out after a few weeks, especially after spending a pretty penny on it. Rope toys may not be the most expensive toys there are, most Nylabones costing more than the largest rope toys I’ve found available, but they still cost enough to make them an investment, unfortunately a bad one based on past experience. I decided to remain optimistic though, and willingly placed a large blue and silver rope toy in our basket.

IMG_1831Rope toys are not all created equal, so the rope toy that I purchased is made by Mammoth, who calls the toy a Flossy Chew. It cost about $18, so not too expensive (Nylabones cost more at about $22 for the largest ones). This is one of the strongest and thickest rope toys I have come across in my three years of owning dogs, and I’ve looked through a lot of rope toys. This particular Flossy Chew is approximately 48 inches long with five knots. The color of chew my family bought was made up of blue and silver threads. There were other colors available, including a white and purple one that almost grabbed my attention. Initially, the Flossy Chew looked beautiful, pristine, and totally wreck-able.

Patience has never been one of her virtues.
Patience has never been one of her virtues.

By now, it’s been a few weeks and I have to say the toy is holding up quite nicely. Of course, the two only get to play with it for about fifteen minutes once or twice a day, and are heavily supervised the whole time. If not, then Rosee takes one end, Simon the other and both of them simply use their teeth to pull on the strings, shredding them to the best of their abilities. The front room becomes littered with string and looks more like a blue and silver explosion instead of a friendly game of tug-of-war. This mess isn’t such a big deal, but Simon likes to try and eat the leftover strings and that isn’t good for him, so it’s important to quickly scoop up any remnants right after a play session.

As he steals my pile of shredded threads.

Also, without supervision Rosee just goes to town, making it her personal mission to pull apart the glued together knots. You can just hear the ripping and she wages war on the tiny threads. Obviously, she is not left alone with the toy or allowed to really just sit with it. When Simon decides he doesn’t feel like running after her or tugging on the other end of the rope, it ends up falling on mine and Theresa’s shoulders to keep her running around the house so she doesn’t have a chance to rest and shred. The truth of the matter is as long as the two are using the rope to actually play tug-of-war (or just tease each other), then everything is good.

Her first five minutes with the toy.
Her first five minutes with the toy.

Simon and Rosee are very adept at playing and knowing when to stop when things start to become too rough, usually when Simon’s starts barking too much and Rosee growls a little too loudly. When this happens the treats come out and the Flossy Chew is taken away. The two of them take a moment to realize that even though they only ran around for fifteen minutes or so they are exhausted, and I get another hour of downtime as they fall back asleep. So, I would say the toy was a good buy, as long as it comes in moderation and with adequate supervision.

As the evidence shows a Flossy Chew, or any other rope toy, can be a fun and effective toy as long as certain practices are in place. Supervision is a must if your pooch likes to shred and swallow like Rosee and Simon do. Moderation is also crucial if your dog likes to shred, otherwise the toy wouldn’t last a week. It is prudent to make sure your canine doesn’t get too caught up in the game of tug-of-war as well, because that could lead to other problems (like not letting go of things stolen off of the table after a crazy rampage around the front room—I’m looking at you Rosee!). The only claim I cannot judge is that as a Flossy Chew it is easily assumed the toy is supposed to floss a dog’s teeth. I don’t see a difference in either Simon or Rosee’s teeth, but since the toy was not bought for this reason I still find it a good buy.

His version of the death roll.
His version of the death roll.

The fact is this particular rope toy or Flossy Chew can be a good investment because it does have a sturdy build, made to last through strong chewers and its longer length allows for more places to pull from (and for human hands to avoid pointy canine teeth). I look forward to getting a few more months out of this Flossy Chew, allowing Simon and Rosee an exciting way to play inside and avoid the overwhelming heat of the oven that can be California during summer.

The Squeak of Life

Toys. What can I say about toys? Other than the fact that one of the hardest things to talk myself into buying for Simon and Rosee is toys. Not because I don’t want them to have toys, but more so because they go through toys so fast and toys aren’t exactly cheap. (I guess that’s three things, huh?) Combine all that with the fact that both dogs love to chew and what you get left with is a garbage can full of broken, ripped and shredded toys. Even when we specifically buy toys that are labeled “for powerful chewers” they never seem to last long. Otherwise they get bones, which are good options, but they don’t quite hold the same appeal as toys when Simon and Rosee want to play.

On the lookout for a good (because perfect is impossible right?) toy Simon and Rosee have developed quite a cache of them. You see, it was fun at first when Simon was a puppy to go to a pet store and buy him various types of toys. Especially with his energy levels I would always look for toys that challenged him and could keep him interested for an extended period of time. As he got older though, the toys needed to be more indestructible. Then Rosee came along, and when it comes to play these days a good toy needs to be difficult to tear apart (Rosee’s favorite pastime) and big enough for tug-of-war.  Am I expecting the impossible? Yes, because most toys are not completely indestructible, but I at least wanted some dog toys that would take longer for Simon to tear apart than a few minutes. Now, what I mean when I say “toy” here is something that Simon and Rosee could play with. Something either of them could play fetch or catch with (although not so much Rosee who prefers being chased), chew on safely for a little while (but not too long since the function would be for play), and something that wouldn’t break it they both tugged on it together.
Recently, I came across these Kong Squeezz toys. To be honest, I mostly noticed these toys because they were on sale (can we say 2 for 1!). I thought, since these toys were rather inexpensive, it wouldn’t matter much if Simon and Rosee destroyed them quickly.


At first, I wasn’t sure which type of toy to get as there are several different shapes including a regular stick shape, a dumbbell, a bone, a ball, and a ring. I stuck with shapes that would be big enough for both dogs to grab a hold of at the same time, and that I could easily get out of their mouths (this was before they really learned “drop it”).


Right from the beginning Simon was in love with his Kong Squeezz toy, and wouldn’t really play with anything else. Every morning he would sit at the laundry room door, since that’s where I keep their toys, and wait for someone, anyone to give him his toy. Once he got his toy, it was like nothing else existed. The rings are his favorite because he can put his mouth through it, and maintain a strong grip. However, the dumbbells tend to have better squeakers, which he loves to squeak endlessly. Rosee, on the other hand, enjoys her Kong Squeezz, but mostly likes to try and take Simon’s toy.


Now, there is one important thing I learned about these toys that I should probably share (even though it’s kind of gross). While I don’t recommend letting your dog ingest anything that isn’t edible, I would like to say that (based on my own experience with Simon and Rosee) Kong Squeezz toys can be passed (I assume you understand what I’m trying to say here). One of the reasons Rosee and Simon like these toys so much was because they could pull on them. You know, hold it down with their paws while they pull at a spot with their teeth. If they’re left alone a little too long with one of these toys (which we don’t do anymore) it pretty much ends up in pieces. Unfortunately, Simon has developed a fondness for eating the soft rubber pieces he pulls off, hence how I know it can be passed. Rosee, thankfully, just spits the pieces out and continues to destroy. As of now, they only get to play with these toys if they’re supervised, but since we mostly use these toys for play and not to chew it’s okay.


Generally, I like these Kong Squeezz toys because they come in a variety of shapes, are fairly indestructible (unless it’s used exclusively for chewing then it won’t last too long), are really great for playing fetch, and they almost always seem to be on sale (at least at the pet stores I shop at and I always stock up). Now, I have to admit that I don’t really like (read: absolutely loathe) squeaky toys, but Simon does and luckily the squeakers in these toys never last very long. This might be a downside to some, however I don’t mind the squeaker only lasting a week or so (that’s with regular, everyday use). Also, I probably wouldn’t recommend leaving your dog unsupervised with a Kong Squeezz toy just because it’s not really a chew toy, and if your dog is anything like Simon and Rosee it will only end in a ruined toy. Still, I really like using this toy to play fetch with Simon, and Rosee and Simon enjoy using it to play tug-of-war. For these main reasons, I would definitely recommend the Kong Squeezz toys to any dog owner.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

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!


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.


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.


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!

Review: “Don’t Dump the Dog” by Randy Grim with Melinda Roth

Reading is a favorite activity here at Play Hard, Bark Often. In fact, for Rosee it ranks right after napping and going on walks. Whenever I have my e-reader or a paperback book out she tries to steal it from me to read it for herself.

Sometimes she enjoys a book so much that she can’t help but take a bite out of it.

I sort of happened upon Don’t Dump the Dog when I was surfing the internet and came across an article on something dog related and a commenter on the article recommended this book. Initially, the title was enough to peak my interest which led me to Amazon and after perusing the sample and finding the first chapter named “ADD Dog”, I knew I had to read it. In case you didn’t know, my mother has always called Simon an ADD dog. Mostly, he earned this nickname from her because he can never seem to focus on one thing. He is always getting distracted, running off to do something else, and can never seem to just sit down and relax. One of the hardest things to teach him has been to relax, and while most days it’s still difficult, if we all remain calm and stay consistent in how we act and what we expect of him, he eventually does settle down. Of course, it also helps if he gets his daily walk and play session. So, when I read “ADD Dog” as the first chapter title I knew that this was a book I needed to read, like yesterday.

What I enjoyed about reading this book was that it was not necessarily a book about training your dog, although Grim did impart pieces of dog training wisdom at the end of each chapter. Rather, it was more focused on why your dog may engage in a certain unwanted behavior. It was a book to help pet parents understand their dogs better. Each chapter focuses on a particular issue, and he opens the chapters with a letter he has received from a dog owner who complain about said issue with their dog. Most of the issues are common ones including, but not limited to, energetic and/or excitable dogs, separation anxiety, dogs that don’t get along with other dogs, excessive barking, dogs that go in the house (you get my drift here), and fearful dogs. Grim does his best to explain the reasons behind why a dog may exhibit various behaviors, and offers advice on how to deal with them. It’s pretty straight forward, and Grim is extremely blunt in his own remarks in answer to the letters he presents. Although, I have to say, it wasn’t easy reading about people wanting to give up their dogs so easily. I know rescue dogs often have some issues, some great and some small, but the idea that dogs could be so easily disposed of was sort of disheartening. I know some dogs’ have issues that require a lot of attention and patience, but that wasn’t necessarily the case in this book. Grim focused on the more everyday problems dogs and their owners may experience. In the end, reading this book was interesting because it really made me look at my dogs and try and understand the reasoning behind some of their actions.

My favorite chapters were “Chapter Two: Escape Artists,” “Chapter Six: Cujo in the Dog Park,” and “Chapter Nine: Bullies with an Attitude.” Chapter Two was a much loved chapter because it taught me to reject the “rejection of the herd”  if it means giving up such a significant friend (aka: the dog). Chapter Six was a favorite chapter of mine because it reminded me to acknowledge the small victories I have with my dogs. Instead of only seeing what my dogs are not really good at yet, I need to start seeing what they are accomplishing and realize that we’re getting there. Lastly, Chapter Nine was an interesting chapter because Grim explained this whole “dominance theory” and basically how the pervading popular theory is really not correct. Showing dominance over your dog is not about overpowering them and proving who’s tougher and stronger, but it relies more on one’s ability to command respect from them.

The main reason I really loved this book was that it got me. It really, really got me, and more importantly, it got my dogs. All the feelings I’ve had while dealing with Simon’s endless bounds of energy or with Rosee’s anxiety and fear issues, which pretty much left me feeling like a complete failure as a dog owner, were understood. The fear I’ve had of my dogs never being considered “normal”, the utter despair I’ve felt over Rosee being thought of as aggressive (and all the negative stereotypes that follow) due to her anxiety and fear of other dogs, and my own anxiety over not doing enough to let my dogs know that they could trust me to protect and take care of them (this is mostly coming from learning to deal with Rosee’s issues) were understood. I felt validated, and more importantly I realized that my dogs are pretty awesome. Instead of fretting over my dogs not being considered what others may deem as “normal” (rejecting the herd here) I should strive for them to be good dogs. Maybe Simon has a jumping problem that we’re still working on, but when I can tell him from across a room to lie down and he obeys I feel pretty darn proud of him. The point I’m trying to make is just because your dog may not be great at one thing doesn’t mean he/she won’t be amazing at others. Training is a continuous process that takes time and effort. Reading this book simply reminded me not to give up on my dogs because as long as I don’t they’ll learn what they need to.

And what is “normal” anyway? (Not exactly a new question I know, but humor me.) It’s a notion we strive for, and yet it’s hardly definable. However, after reading Grim’s book I decided that I would never want my dogs defined as normal because then they would lose the things that make them distinctly Simon and distinctly Rosee. Simon’s 23-hour energy and all around exuberance for life encourages me to stay active, to live in the moment, and to find joy in the little things (i.e. a squeaky toy being thrown around in the backyard over and over). This doesn’t mean that Simon can’t be a well-trained and behaved dog; it just means that he needs a few extra play sessions a day to deplete his over-abundance of energy. Whereas Rosee’s journey to overcome her anxiety and fear encourages me to overcome my own fears in life, be more patient with others, and understand that anything is possible as long as I have the support of the people who love me. So, I’ll take Grim’s advice and mark it as a victory when I walk with Rosee through a park where other dogs are running around and she doesn’t freak out, but walks beside me.

In conclusion, if you’re a pet parent and need some encouragement when it comes to dealing with your unruly dog or if you just want an interesting read about dogs I would absolutely recommend this book, and so would Rosee. Even if your dog is well-behaved 99.9% of the time I would say read this book because it helps us all appreciate the small things that dogs do for us. It’s not just the licks or other obvious gestures of affection that we should appreciate from our dogs, but it’s the little, unnoticeable things, like how they follow you from room to room just so they can stay close, that we should appreciate as well.

Review: Illusion Collar

Recently we decided to invest in the Illusion Collar developed by Cesar Millan for Rosee. While this collar may look a little complicated it is actually pretty easy to use. As can be seen in the picture, the collar has a black rope that slips over your dog’s head and the two buckles wrap around your dog’s neck in order to keep the rope in place at the top of the neck.

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The point of this collar is to keep the rope part of the collar in place so that when your dog pulls it cinches and she/he stops pulling. It works similar to a chain collar or even prong collar, which are often used when training a dog to walk without pulling. However, the nice part about this collar, and the main reason I decided to try it, was because it’s designed to keep the collar in place on the neck where it is most effective. In the past, Monica and I had tried using a regular chain collar because, frankly, it was easier to put on than a head harness (also known as a gentle lead), and we were hoping the dogs wouldn’t rub their faces so much. You see, while a head harness was a pretty nice option because it went around Rosee’s nose and she couldn’t choke herself, both Rosee and Simon could not stop rolling around on the ground and rubbing their faces. At first, I thought they were doing this because they weren’t used to having something on their faces, but after using these harnesses for some time it was clear that these leads made them uncomfortable. Also, it seemed everywhere we went people assumed that Rosee had a muzzle on just because she was wearing a head harness, and would make not so nice comments about how mean she must be, which is ridiculous since with a head harness she was still able to open her mouth fully, but I’m getting away from the point. In general, the regular chain collar worked out okay, though we were still having issues with the chain falling out of place, and Simon had trouble with the chain collar anyways. Therefore, we eventually settled on using a head harness. After a few months of using this lead I found that Rosee wasn’t necessarily learning to walk on her leash loosely, but rather she was just more easily controlled. Mostly, I feel as though I hit a wall with Rosee. She was doing better out on walks in the sense that she wasn’t pulling a whole lot, however she wasn’t getting any better at the skill of loose leash walking. When she saw something that scared or excited her she would start to pull and not pay attention to me at all. The biggest issue though was that in these instances she would become very anxious due to the straps that wrapped around her nose and mouth. Another big issue was that while this harness was supposed to be inescapable, Rosee and Simon could always manage to get the straps off of their faces. Overall, a more reliable collar that wouldn’t cause Simon and Rosee so much anxiety was needed.

Enter, the Illusion Collar. When Monica first showed me this collar I thought it would be a great alternative and that there was no way either of the dogs could get it off of them. Initially, we only purchased one for Rosee because they are a little pricey (about $45) and we didn’t want to buy two if it turned out not to work for either dog. When you order this collar it comes with both a collar and a matching leash. Depending on the size of the collar you purchase that determines the length of the leash. For instance, the collar we purchased for Rosee was a size large and so the matching leash was a shorter leash to help aid in keeping your dog close to you.


This collar definitely took some getting used to. It was not one of those magical fixes that made Rosee instantly perfect the first time we put it on her and went on a walk. In fact, the first few times I walked her with it all I did was walk around a nearby park and treat her every time she walked next to me. As a human, it took some understanding of knowing when it’s the right time to tug, gently of course, on the leash. To be frank, it took me and Rosee and good week to get the hang of this collar and it was a good three weeks of using it every day before Rosee learned to walk next to me. Of course, that’s not to say that she doesn’t still have her moments where she pulls because she certainly does. For the most part though, Rosee is doing really well with the Illusion Collar and I couldn’t be happier.

For Rosee this collar was a great buy for many reasons. First of all, it is much more secure and there is no way she can escape from it. Secondly, not having any sort of restraints on Rosee’s face has lessened her anxiety pretty significantly. Not only did she stop rubbing her face on the ground whenever we pass a large grass area, but she has stopped getting as anxious in situations that usually cause her anxiety. Lastly, or should I say thirdly (or is it third of all?), having Rosee on a short leash has made a huge difference. Rosee is forced to be right next to me, which has made it easier for me to recognize when she starts to become anxious or fearful of something and I can redirect her attention or distract her right away. Her behavior isn’t allowed to escalate, and so she has been able to make positive associations with typically stressful situations. Furthermore, she pays much more attention to me instead of worrying so much about what another dog in the park or person on the street is doing, which is extremely important because it means she trusts me to protect her and be what she needs. Honestly, for Rosee the Illusion Collar turned out to be a great buy.

Before I end this review I do want to make a few things clear. This collar is not for every dog. It is for dogs with, let’s say, sturdier necks and definitely not for smaller dogs either. Particularly, if you have a dog that’s an extreme puller who doesn’t respond to the cinching I would be wary to recommend this collar because then all you would be doing is choking your dog and that can lead to some very serious consequences. In fact, despite the success I had with Rosee and this collar, I was hesitant to buy this collar for Simon because he’s never done well with collars that cinched to get him to stop pulling. In the past when I’ve used a chain collar on him it has never bothered him that he couldn’t breathe when he pulled, and I didn’t want to use a collar that could potentially hurt him. However, after much thought Monica and I decided to go ahead and buy an Illusion Collar for Simon because his anxiousness in a head harness had gotten out of hand, and he needed a collar that did not sit on his face. I certainly do not regret buying him an Illusion Collar, but learning to use it with him has been quite a different experience than it was with Rosee. One of Simon’s biggest issues has always been his impulse control, and so learning to walk on a leash that is loose much less beside me has been difficult for him. As a result, my approach to using the collar with him has been quite different in that I use a longer leash, employ the “turn around” method when he pulls, and make sure to treat him when he’s walking next to me and especially if he looks at me. (These are all methods I’ll explain in more detail in an upcoming post about loose leash walking.) It has taken him a bit longer to get the hang of the Illusion Collar, but the hard work on both our parts has paid off. This collar has bee much better for Simon than any other collar I’ve used in the past, and almost immediately he stopped rubbing his face on everything. Finding the right collar has definitely made a big difference for Simon and Rosee, but I do want to remind everyone that this is only half the battle. Teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash is a skill that takes training and time. For most dogs it doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right tools and some perseverance it can happen.

Skid Bowl: Not so Not

What started out as an off-handed comment to my mother about needing more poop bags turned into an afternoon of browsing through the local pet store with her this weekend as we debated what type of yard odor eliminator would be best for our backyard and what rubber toys would last the longest between our two trouble-makers. As we walked around the store, filling our basket with even more toys (because the sign said buy three, get the fourth free so how could we not?), we ended up passing an entire aisle with nothing but food and water bowls. They had every shape, size, and color imaginable. Designs ranged from fish and mice (for cats), to bones, crowns, fire hydrants, and even some with amusing phrases like “Bad to the bone.” There were also much simpler silver bowls, much like the ones these two have at home.

Plain bowls are fun. They are nice and plain. They are easily washed in the dishwasher every week and do their job of holding food and water admirably. However, there is one problem with these plain silver bowls that has arisen since we adopted Rosee almost a year ago. These bowls slide. They slide a lot. Especially when in the midst of eating, and I guess Rosee just uses her nose more to push around the food than Simon does, the bowl moves across our linoleum floor and not even putting it on the kitchen carpet makes a difference.

Now, this sliding wouldn’t be a huge problem (so what if the bowl moves a few inches during the minute it takes Rosee to inhale her food?), except she would push her bowl all the way around the kitchen, thereby making it even more difficult to eat and bumping into Simon a few times in her quest to get to all of her food. Simon never minded Rosee’s sliding much, too intent on slurping up his own food at break-neck speed. However, to the human who took it upon herself to block Rosee’s bowl with her feet while she ate (i.e. me) so the girl could eat more comfortably, the whole sliding act became an annoying problem.

What’s a girl to do?

Find a non-skid bowl that’s what!

And that is exactly what I did. While at the pet store with my mom I came across this plastic, blue bowl that proudly proclaimed it did not skid. How excited was I to see the rubber lining the bottom of the bowl? Super! So I added the bowl to our growing basket and walked out of the pet store confident that Rosee’s sliding act had seen its final curtain.

This blue bowl comes from JW Pet Company, whose tagline proudly states “Intelligent ideas. Happy pets.” Now, I’d have to agree with JW, as I have never seen a bowl quite like this one. Pleasantly named the Skid Stop Slow Feed bowl (large), this particular bowl seemed to be a dream come true.

Not only does it promise not to skid, but it was also advertised to help slow a dog down while eating, as it has four dividers that stick out into the center of the bowl to make getting to the food a little harder for the dog. I found this design incredibly helpful because Rosee, and Simon too, both gobble down their food as if they haven’t seen food before. Having just that little something like the dividers make Rosee slow down and actually chew her food seemed like a great addition to an already great bowl. And the best part? The bowl only cost seven dollars. With all of this greatness coming to rest in the make-up of a single blue plastic bowl I got home, washed it, and put it down on the floor ready to put it to good use.

Unfortunately, with all of the promise it showed at the store, it delivered little at home. I’ll have you know, the skidding has not been put to pasture, only slowed down. The bowl still moves over our linoleum floor quite easily. However, it moves a lot less when placed on the kitchen carpet, so for now Rosee’s eating spot has been moved to the carpet permanently. This move is not a big deal, it’s not like she spills or makes a mess. I was just really looking forward to no skidding at all, especially on the linoleum floor. I do have to say, the bowl’s promise of slowing down eating up to five times seems to be true. Now, instead of scarfing down her food, Rosee takes her time eating her food out of the individual sections and navigating her way around the dividers.

Overall, I would call this JW Skid Stop Slow Feed bowl a good buy. It may not have completely stop the skidding, but it did temper it, and it really delivered on its promise to slow down eating. Also, for the price this bowl was a worthy investment, so much so that my mom is looking forward to going and buying one for Simon who is not a “skidder, “but a “scarfer” and could benefit from eating slower as well. For anyone looking at this bowl or others similar, I could only tell you from my own experience to not expect miracles, or big changes. Rather this bowl provided Rosee’s eating game with minor tweaks that over time will add up to positives such as not tripping over the food bowl underneath the kitchen island and no doggie bloat which can come with eating too quickly. In the end, I’d still call that a win.