by Marin Sardy | on January 4th, 2012 | in Features, Swag the Dog, Things Dogs Wear
Working hypothesis: All pets are superheroes in disguise. Evidence I’ve gathered includes watching a friend’s cat successfully run sideways up a cement wall (like Spidey) and discovering a black dog’s technique of disappearing into the shadows to eat another dog’s food (invisibility!). The primary power of my dog, Biscuit—a mix of indeterminate origin, perhaps Chihuahua/rat terrier—is a preternatural cuteness that saps her enemies of all strength. Grown men wither before her, reduced to babbling about doggy kisses in a singsong voice as she gets spit all over them. It’s heartbreaking to witness.
I’m more inspired by her other superpower: She weighs just under ten pounds but can sprint like a greyhound and jump four feet high from a dead standstill—and she thrives on five-mile runs. Alas, she’s not invincible. Her kryptonite? Winter.
Don’t get me wrong. B loves snow. She’ll go bounding through massive dumps (of up to four inches) until she’s nearly catatonic from cold, and it’s entirely up to me to rescue her before she’s on the brink of death. But I couldn’t bear to deny her the pleasure, especially since winter heavily overlaps with what we call squirrel season—when the squirrels spend a lot of time on the ground, gathering nuts. B’s main mission in life is to seek and destroy rodents. (No success yet, but not for lack of obsessive-compulsive effort.) Given the extended time this requires outside even in icy wind and weather, it was incumbent on me to find some winter gear that’s sturdy, warm, and flexible enough to see her through her dangerous addiction. Here are some of the best options out there.
For Snow Days
Land’s End Quilted Dog Coat
B’s first coat ever was a Land’s End model—the Pet Squall Jacket—and after five years it’s not even close to collapse. It’s water-resistant and fleece-lined but suffers from the major design flaw of having a Velcro collar closure that doesn’t hold up to constant use. I loved everything else about the jacket so much that I actually hand-stitched extra-large snaps to the collar to keep it closed. But even better, the company’s newer model, the Quilted Pet Coat, is an entirely different and equally warm design that not only solves the collar problem but also provides better under-body protection from the elements—especially in the vulnerable rib-cage area. And at $29.50, it’s the only quality dog coat I’ve found that fits a tight budget too. landsend.com
All-Natural Base Layer
D-Fa Ice Barker
Made from soft merino wool, D-Fa’s light jacket stays warm when wet and dries quickly using your dog’s body heat. While it might be a bit much for cold-weather dogs like labs and huskies, pointers and other short-hair breeds will love the added comfort—especially on days when you’re far from the living room hearth. One thing to note is that because dog’s don’t sweat, breathability isn’t so much an issue of transporting perspiration as its drying when it gets wet. $119, d-fa.com
When Speed Counts
Ruffwear Cloud Chaser
Besides making you feel like your dog is a protagonist in an eighties movie that involves a lot of aerobics (see: Jamie Lee Curtis, Olivia Newton-John), this flexible soft-shell jacket (see: spandex) envelops a pooch’s core in microfiber fleece and moves with her. This is canine activewear at its best—lightweight, breathable. Replete with racing-stripe-like reflective strips and a full side zipper, the Cloud Chaser may as well be called the Squirrel Chaser. $74.95, ruffwear.com
Foggy Mountain Snuggler
Besides fighting those evil-natured rodents, B’s other primary aim in life is to cuddle. Foggy Mountain makes that possible even when she’s out and about. The Snuggler is not unlike the beloved Snuggie: It’s sort of a blanket that’s been cinched and folded in just the right places, providing a self-cuddling environment, so Biscuit can feel swaddled in love even when she’s lunging at pant legs out on the sidewalk. This coat is seriously warm, and on those supercold days when it takes B approximately 1.2 minutes to decide that for the sake of her extremities she’d better go back inside, this is the one I’m reaching for. $38.95, truefitdogcoats.com
For Après Chase
West Paw Design Reknitz Sweater
I just realized that for weeks I’ve been pronouncing this REK-nitz, when all along it was REE-nitz. As in reduce, reuse, recycle, re-knit. Made from reclaimed cotton—which is greenspeak for scraps salvaged from the cutting table—the Reknitz is B’s go-to in the great indoors. It comes with a pre-cut hole through which a leash can be attached to a harness for walking, but we prefer to rely on it to guard against drafts, since I’m not always around to lift the blanket draped over the couch so she can climb under. $34, westpawdesign.com
Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat
When it comes down to it, the jacket I reach for most often isn’t one that serves any highly specialized purpose. Because when it comes down to it, my dog isn’t Lara Croft. For the most part she just goes on walks, every day, no matter what. And for that ongoing, essential activity, the K-9 Overcoat is, well, just right. Sturdy and warm, it offers good coverage but doesn’t smother her either, and it’s built to last. Plus, the expandable waist strap and thick plastic buckles that click into place make it the easiest one to pull on and off. Plus, it looks like a cape. $64.95, ruffwear.com
by Ryan Krogh | on December 20th, 2011 | in Features, Pampering, Swag the Dog
The problem with most dog beds is that they look like, well, dog beds. They’re basically round (or square) pillows that squash down into wafers after a few month’s use—or, worse, get chewed to pieces in the course of a few days. And their style choices: if you’re not a fan herringbone, tweed, or tartan, you’re out of luck. Enter San Francisco pet company P.L.A.Y (Pet Lifestyle And You). Started in 2010, their beds are functional, durable, and, dare we say it, stylish—more than two-dozen beds come in a plethora of colors and patterns, including denim, bamboo, and the company’s artists collection. They’re also eco-friendly, because the filling is constructed from a high-loft (and soft) polyfiber that is made from recycled plastic water bottles.
And dogs love them, if my one-year-old yellow lab is any indication. Before getting P.L.A.Y’s bed, she’d been subverting me at night by crawling into bed after I’d fallen asleep. She was sneaky about it, too, quickly retreating to the floor when I woke up in the morning. Not exactly the Wildrose way. Now, after getting the bed (and a little extra cajoling from me) she sleeps the entire night on her new bed. (From $95, petplay.com)
by Walker Parks | on December 1st, 2011 | in Features, Swag the Dog
OK, here’s the conundrum. You want to bike to work, but you also work at one of those exceptionally cool companies that lets you bring your dog to work. You can either teach your dog to heel perfectly beside you, even in heavy traffic (extremely dangerous), or … you can get one of these new Croozer Designs dog chariots. It’s essentially a crate on wheels and provides a safe harbor for your pup at sporting events like Ultimate™ frisbee tournaments and Critical Mass rides.
by Walker Parks | on October 17th, 2011 | in Features, Swag the Dog, Things Dogs Wear
If you’ve ever experienced that problem of a wet or muddy dog messing up your furniture or car upholstery, here’s a solution from same folks who make the FURminator fur remover. The new FUR Dry wearable dog towel simultaneously dries your dog’s fur and keeps it from making contact with, well, anything you don’t want to smell like a wet dog. Works great for post-grooming, too.
by Dave Cox | on August 11th, 2011 | in Features, Swag the Dog
The Ruffwear isn’t the first ski joring system I’ve used. My first setup (no need to drop names here) used inch-wide webbing bonded together with stitches and glue, and although like the Ruffwear, it had a shock cord between me and my dog, it shredded apart before the snow melted. What makes the Ruffwear a superior system, I believe, is that it employs fabric stitched together like a backpack that lies across the top of Daisy’s back, the webbing is then stitched onto the pack’s body. I haven’t skied with it yet, but I’ve been trail running, which is far more jolting because I’m not sliding, and it’s holding up well, even when a random squirrel forces us to take the path less traveled. My only gripe is the front of the harness doesn’t have a quick release, making it a bit of a hassle to put on an excited dog at trailhead, but it is otherwise a great system, the belt has an emergency quick release should you take a tumble, or hit a snag, and it has pouches and a slot for a water bottle.
by Ryan Krogh | on July 27th, 2011 | in Features, Swag the Dog
1. Food and Water Bowl: The bread and butter of owning a dog. Invest in a stainless steel version like PETCO’s Stainless Steel Non-Tip Bowl (from $6; petco.com) for a every-day use. To keep it clean, all you’ll need to do is rinse it out and let it air dry. And you won’t have to worry about breaking it, which is an all-too-common problem with trendier ceramic bowls. For hiking, rafting, and road trips, invest in a collapsible one like Ruffwear’s Bivy Bowl ($20; ruffwear.com), which is wide enough at the top to allow even large breeds to scarf from it, but is light enough (less than two ounces) to fit unnoticeably in the corner your backpack. [Quick tip: For dogs that spill water on the floor while drinking—i.e. every dog out there—Orvis offers a highly-absorbent mat ($39; orvis.com) to keep the kitchen tiles dry and our friends at Wildrose Trading Company offer a spill-proof Buddy Bowl.]
2. Collars: They’re as important as food bowls. Two things that you’ll want to consider: 1. They’re like clothes for your dog. After a while, Fido will look naked without one. 2. As such, using the same collar for more than a few months gets boring. Change it up. Every pet company out there makes a collar, which is perfect. Here are three of the best: 1.) Dublin Dog: The best part about them? They’re stench-free, thanks to the a blend of nonporous polymers. They also come in a variety of colors and sizes. (From $22; dublindog.com) 2.) Filson Leather Dog Collar: Classic. Classy. Durable. The only downside is they’re not waterproof, which means they’re perfect for a German Shorthaired Pointer, but less than ideal for a water-loving Lab. ($36; filson.com) 3.) TufFlex Center Ring Dog Collar: It has the look and feel of leather but it’s made from a special type of plastic that is mildew and bacteria resistant, meaning the collar is maintenance free. Plus, it’s practically indestructible. (From $10)
3. Lead: You can’t walk your dog, or train her to heel, without a good lead. Filson’s Leather Dog Leash ($46; filson.com) is both stylish and effective. For leash work, though, you can’t beat the horse-reign dot tread used in the Wildrose Kennels Combination Training Lead Set ($40; uklabs.com), which, because it’s made from plastic, won’t absorb water, and is damn near chew-proof—not that you should be letting your dog chew on her leash. [Note: retractable leashes are good only if you like teasing your dog—“I’m free! … or not. I’m free! … ow, my neck …”—and instilling bad behaviors like running away at all times.
4. Beds: Some dogs will ignore them and sleep on the carpet. (Grayson’s dog Danger only sleeps on the sofa.) But most dogs end up loving them. Ruffwear’s Mt. Bachelor Pad ($60; ruffwear.com) is easy to clean (i.e. machine-washable), rolls into a beach-towel-sized bedroll for easy transport, and has its velcro straps that are smartly hidden underneath the mat to keep chew-prone dogs from going after them. And REI’s inflatable Dog Dream Bed is so comfortable that if it were two feet longer it would make a perfect camping mat—for humans. ($55; rei.com).
5. Crate: Yes, crate training can be traumatizing (mostly for you and your hippie roommate’s Dr. Doolittle friends, not the dog), but consider it a necessary evil, like your kids’ percussion lessons. The more comfortable a dog is in her crate, the easier it is for you to travel with her—and the more settled they’ll be around the house. Also, they’re great house-training tools. Every time you take her out of the crate, usher her to the same spot in the yard. Just make sure you get the appropriate sized crate: it’s better to be too small at first than too big. For larger breeds that grow quickly, you’re better off investing in a starter crate that’s smaller in size and then getting a full-sized one later on. For the house, Grrreat Choice’s Dog Carrier is a cheap, easy option (from $20; PetSmart.com), and is airline safe. For road trips, get Orvis’s Collapsible Dog Travel Crate (from $179; orvis.com), which can be broken down to fit easily into the trunk or backseat of a car. It’s a little finicky, but durable enough. For young pups or smaller dogs, the SleepyPod Air is perfect for traveling ($160; sleepypod.com). At six weeks old, I drove back from Mississippi (to Santa Fe) with Nolie and she slept nearly the entire way.
6. Poop Scoop: What else can we say: It happens. And you’re going to have to clean it up. Every local pet store will carries a scoop. Bog-box-store PetSmart sells a basic spade and scoop pan for $24 (petsmart.com)—a no-brainer bargain.
7. Indoor Cleaner: As much as we’d all like to think our pup is perfect (or will be), accidents are bound to happen. Be prepared with a pet-specific cleaner like Nature Miracle’s Stain and Odor Remover ($7; ilovenaturesmiracle.com).
8. Grooming Tools/Health-care items: This category could fill it’s own list because of how important it is to keep your pup healthy. But three things you should always have on hand: Brush. Nail trimmer. Saline solution. 1. Brush: It’s a basic self-explanatory item, but different coats will require different types of brushes. A pin brush, which has rounded mental “pins,” is a standard go-to for most breeds but is best for dogs with long-haired, thin coats, because it will easily comb the hair without pulling it out. JW Pet GripSoft Pin Dog Brush is good choice ($10). Curry brushes are better for dogs with smooth coats, like Labs. Top Paw’s Rubber Curry Brush is a great, cheap option. ($8). Slicker brushes, with their narrow, stainless steel pins on a flexible rubber base are the go-to choice for removing knots and tangles. Four Paws Ultimate Touch Slicker Wire Brush is a standard choice ($12). 2. Nail Clipper: Your dog’s nails will grow, and if they grow too long it will increase the chance that they’ll break off while your dog is running on pavement or rocks. As a general rule, the nails should be trimmed when they reach the ground in a standing position. ConairPro Yellow Dog Soft Grip Nail Clippers will do the trick ($10). 3. Saline Solution: This one is often overlooked, but eye issues are an extremely common problem with dogs—especially ones running through tall grass or on dirt trails. They can easily develop an infection from a seed or piece of dirt in their eye. The easiest preventative measure is to wash a dog’ eyes out with a saline solution like Vetericyn Animal Ophthalmic Gel ($30).
9. Toys: Some people let their dogs chew; some don’t. It depends both on the trainer and dog whether chew toys instill bad habits or give the dog a healthy outlet. Without toys, most pups will just make their own—out of your shoes, socks, and table legs. Just keep the “toys” separate from the “training tools”. For retriever-training, Avery’s HexaBumper is cheap and comes in different colors and sizes ($5; averysportingdog.com) while Real Duck’s firehose bumpers are more expensive but have a more natural feel ($20; realduck.com). Around the house, I let my Lab pup chew on a Dublin Dog Roxxter toy ($14; dublindog.com) to keep her from hiding (i.e. losing) all of my socks in the backyard.
10. Food: Last here, but it’s probably the most important item to consider when getting a new pup. The main things to think about are getting your new pup quality protein and fat (the carbs are mostly filler) in the right proportion. Many kibbles these days are too high in protein content. You’ll want food that has about 30-percent protein and 20-percent fat. Some dogs, based on their eventual adult size and how active they are, will require a slightly different ratio of carbs and protein, but this is a good starting point. And make sure the carbs and proteins are coming from quality sources: chicken, lamb, and beef are all fine as long as they’re coming from actual scraps of meat and not just rendered bone, blood, and ligaments. Adding human table scraps—or, if you can, whole chicken backs or low-grade meat from your local meat counter—is a good way to supplement what’s obviously lacking in, well, all dry pellet kibble. Check the labels on all foods and follow their feeding portion guidelines based on how much your dog weighs. As a pup, I fed my Lab Eukanuba’s Puppy Natural Lamb and Rice formula, which has high-quality ingredients, but isn’t ungodly expensive ($27 for a 15-pound bag; eukanuba.com). And one more quick note about food: for young pups—15 weeks or younger—try not to switch foods on them. If they’re started on Eukanuba and you want to switch, gradually mix the other food into the original food. New foods can create problems, both for the pup and your carpet.
by Grayson Schaffer | on November 1st, 2010 | in Features, Things Dogs Wear
Just in time for the first snows and ski-resort openings comes the redesigned Ruffwear Cloud Chaser soft shell. This iteration of the classic canine warm-up retains the reflective piping and fleece-lined water-resistant upper. The critical improvements are in the bottom portion of the jacket, which is more ergonomic and made from a lightweight stretch material that will move with your mutt better than ever. And the snug-fitting collar and arm(leg) holes will keep snow from building up inside. $75
by Grayson Schaffer | on October 20th, 2010 | in Features, good eats
Keep an eye out for a new high-end dog food brand. Nulo (nutrition + love) uses whole meats like lamb, beef, salmon, and chicken bulked with brown rice. Danger and Cooper tell me it’s good food and their coats have definitely been shinier lately. Just don’t go to the store expecting to find Nulo on shelves. The Austin, Texas-based company is taking another shot at the online-only model that made the ill-fated sock puppet of Pets.com the poster child of the Internet bust. It’s actually a great concept. Unlike a lot of pet food that can spend up to a year on shelves, this stuff comes fresh to your door every month. Shipping is free on the first bag, and a 32-pound sack will run you about $60. Definitely worth a try.
by Walker Parks | on June 1st, 2010 | in Features, Swag the Dog
Ruby and Angus have been on the road a lot this winter, traveling back and forth between Santa Fe and Taos. But when you’re covered in mud and shedding enough to knit a new dog, it’s good manners to bring your own bed. Which one to pack depends—camping? staying at the dogsitter’s? sleeping in the car? Banished outside for scarfing up three bags of blue corn chips (never mind…).
So we had them test the best travel dog beds out there. Their methods don’t lie: Like a bed? Curl up on it. No like? Ignore it. Once they were done trashing them, we tested them to see which cleaned up best and came up with a few clear winners. —Elizabeth Hightower
Ruby, packed and ready with her Mud River suitcase and Mud River Cache Cushion. Think of them as her checked and her carry-on luggage.
Ruby ready to bivvy with the Harry Barker Hemp Bedroll and the Ruffwear Mt. Bachelor Pad
1) The Frisco, $80.00
Mud River Dog Products, mudriverdogproducts.com
Folded 30”L x 6”W x 22”H; Unfolded 44”L x 30”W x 3”H
Here’s how cool they are at Arkansas-based Mud River: They bring other people’s dogs to work. When we talked with Morgan at this gentlemen’s hunting outfitter (Motto: “Dirty Trucks, Lonely Wives, Happy Dogs”), she’d brought a former employee’s pup to the office. She sent the monster Frisco, which has inspired Mud River’s hunters to proclaim: “If I’da wanted to bring a suitcase, I’da brought my wife!” Nonetheless, this seemed like the best option for geriatric Angus: three inches of thick EVA foam, heavy waxed canvas cover, and the size of a climbing crash pad. He was not interested. In fact, no dog set foot on the Frisco in three months of exposure. Our 8-year-old friend, Finn, however, made quick use of the pad. Motto: You’ve got to have smarter dogs to use this one.
2) The Cache Cushion, $30
Mud River Dog Products, mudriverdogproducts.com
29″ L x 37″W
A really handsome portable number, backed in waxed canvas. Pros: With velcro straps, it rolls up tight, with quality construction and a snappy color scheme of loden fleece trimmed in safety orange. Cons: Not for a 90-pound lab. If Angus thought the Frisco was “tooooo hard,” this one was “tooo small and toooo thin.” We passed it on to Danger and Cooper, our K9 rescue friends, for their travel crates. Also, keep this in mind for all travel dog beds: Hair really likes fleece. The Cache Cushion cleans up nicely in the wash, but until then, it’s a hair party waiting to happen.
3) Mount Bachelor Pad, $59.95 medium, $74.95 large
Medium (38” l x 29” w, 1” loft); Large (48” x 36”, 1” loft)
Faced in recycled fleece, filled with thermal padding, and backed in PVC-free, waterproof recycled polycloth, the Bachelor Pad is the only one of these to block ground moisture. Throw it in the mud, hose it off, drip it dry, and then roll it up tight with its velcro straps. By far the best for camping and any wet pursuits, and the dogs seemed to dig it. Downside? Check out the hair.
2) Hemp Stripe Bedroll, $48.00-84.00
Harry Barker, harrybarker.com
Extra Small (25″ l x 19″ w); Small (31″ x 21″); Medium (37″ x 24″); Large (43″ x 29″)
Ruby Likes! Major style points for this one—it comes in five different colors of haute-hippie stripes—plus it’s got the most loft. Everything is eco, from the azo-free dyes to the recycled fiberfill padding; the hemp is plenty rugged, and dog hair brushes right off. It’s also the easiest to roll up, with an attached hemp strap and Fastco buckle, as opposed to Velcro straps. We were dubious that this one would dry well, since it’s a bit thicker than the rest. But it was wash and wear. The bedroll also comes in five colors of recycled fleece, from $14.99 to $29.99. Match the color to your dog hair, or go with our recommendation and spring for the durable hemp.
For camping, wet work, river trips or active use, the Mount Bachelor Pad is the bed to beat, and a doggie fave. Visiting friends, road-tripping, heading to the ski house? Pack the Hemp Stripe Bedroll, the comfiest of the bunch. Hunting? You’ll need Mud River, if only for the bomber quality and safety orange chic.
by Grayson Schaffer | on December 15th, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog, Things Dog People Wear
Can’t really beat Patagonia’s quilted Again Jacket ($125) as all-purpose undergarment and outerwear. The nylon/wool/poly blend is eminantly soft while the trim styling makes either a nice midlayer for skiing or duck hunting or outer layer for around town.
by Grayson Schaffer | on November 18th, 2009 | in Swag the Dog, Things Dog People Wear
Gotta hang your whistle on something. Here’s a handsome two-clip braided leather whistle lanyard from Avery. Keeps me from losing whistles so fast. $28
by Grayson Schaffer | on November 12th, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog
Kennel covers are great for keeping the icy wind off your dog in the back of your truck in winter and keeping disease-causing mosquitos out of your pup’s crate in the summer. One other reason I like ‘em: When you zip the screens shut, they make it just dark—like stop barking and go to sleep dark. $90.
by Alicia Carr | on November 9th, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog
The wait was long. Four to six weeks for lab results drags on until you nearly forget about them. Then, one day, they arrive in your mailbox and everything you’ve been waiting for, like the results of the Canine Heritage Breed Test, is right there in your hand, sealed. Will the word “saluki” grace Rio’s Certificate of DNA Breed Analysis? And American staffordshire terrier (aka pit bull) be printed on Odin’s?
Well, as it turns out, no. No, no, and more no. Apparently, we were only right about one thing. But before I let you in on that, here are a couple more pictures so you can gather your final guesses.
Odin, the “pit bull”
Rio, the “saluki”
Within the results of a Canine Heritage Breed Test there are three groups in their analysis–primary breed, secondary, and “in the mix.” Dogs like Rio and Odin, who are mixed breed, will only have something listed under primary if one of their parents is purebred. Primary also indicates that a dog is mainly made up of a specific breed. Unfortunately, “primary” was left blank for both of my dogs, meaning neither hailed from a purebred. Had there been something listed, I would have been able to attribute my dogs’ characteristics more significantly to that certain breed.
Secondary breeds are those that “might be easily recognizable within your dog.” Here’s where I would guess rhodesian ridgeback for Rio because of her golden coloring, floppy ears, and large chest. The last category, “in the mix,” is made up of breeds that affect a dog’s composition in very small amounts, but are recognizable as markers in a dog’s DNA.
I present Rio:
Primary Breed: Nada
Secondary Breed: German Shorthaired Pointer
In the Mix: Australian Shepherd (thus, the furry tail and petite stature)
Rhodesian Ridgeback (ding, ding, ding!)
And now, Odin:
Primary Breed: Nope.
Secondary Breed: Sorry, my friend.
In the Mix: Boxer (the source of his brindled coat, white chest, and cat-like boxing moves)
Collie (also possibly the culprit behind the white chest)
Shetland Sheepdog (why he rounds up cattle)
Pembroke Welsh Corgi (wtf?)
According to the breakdown of the analysis, when a dog only has breeds listed “in the mix,” it is likely that only small traces of these breeds will be noticeable in the animal. Perhaps that’s why Odin isn’t “10 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder” like a corgi and doesn’t hold down a Tina Turner-like mane like his ancestors, the collie and Shetland sheepdog, but why he does have high-perched ears, a high-pitched bark, and a high-velocity ability to wrangle cattle.
Was I surprised about Rio? Nah. She might not have the brown-and-white spots of a German shorthaired pointer, but she’s got the moves to prove it; She chases down rabbits like it’s nobody’s business.
In the end, it’s nice to know Odin is not a pit bull (for home owners’ insurance purposes) and to be able to attribute his boxing habits (I swear, they exist) to something and not the idea that he was raised by a cat before coming into our home. Besides that, we didn’t learn much about our dogs that we didn’t already know. They won’t change because we know sort of who their grandparents were. But, it does fill that little thing inside called curiosity.
Are you surprised by my dogs’ results? Would you test your dog based on my experience?
by Chance Googling | on November 4th, 2009 | in Swag the Dog, Things Dogs Wear
In case you’re wondering whether dog fashion has gone over the top: Yes, dog fashion has gone over the top. Here are a few of the prime innovators (or offenders) of late:
Add any others as comments. . .
by Grayson Schaffer | on November 3rd, 2009 | in Features, Pampering, Swag the Dog
Here’s simple yet stylish slip lead from Avery. It’s braided leather and of the style and short length that’s perfect for quick walks where you don’t want your dog straying too far. Note, if your dog doesn’t have a good heel or is prone to pulling out, you’ll know it as soon as you slap this lead on. $30.
by Alicia Carr | on November 2nd, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog
I’ve never been sure about what breed my two, raucous dogs are. I’ve been close to sure. I’ve had vets make suggestions and the dog-obsessed hint at a trace of this or that breed, but every time I almost have it nailed down, someone tells me otherwise or the dog pulls a stunt I’ve never seen. For instance, my mostly-black brindle dog, Odin, is quite possibly 90% pit bull. The shelter “sold” him to us as a lab mix, of course, but there’s no questioning his box-shaped melon and the marble-like coloring of his fur. Until, that is, we were out hiking and came across a scattered group of cattle. Never before have I seen him round up cattle. All it took was some high-pitched barking and nipping at their heels and he had them all in a small herd in the corner of the field. Um, border collie? Australian shepherd? General nuisance?
I don’t know why I’m so eager to find out what breeds actually inhabit their floppy ears and droopy eyes. It won’t change anything. They’ll still be the same pooches that they’ve always been. But knowing that there is a test out there that can reveal this piece of information makes me curious. When I first came across the Canine Heritage Breed Test, the process that is able to break down a dogs DNA to find its primary, secondary, and tertiary breeds, the company was only able to define roughly 68 breeds. That may sound like a lot but, when it comes to the hundreds of dog breed that exist, that’s just a pinprick in what should be a gaping hole. I was further deterred because someone had suggested my red dog, Rio, is part saluki—the oldest domesticated dog known to man—and that breed (which I’d never even heard of) did not grace the Canine Heritage Breed Test’s list.
Today, however, the test is able to detect over 100 breeds including said saluki as well as other rarities like wirehaired pointing griffon, a hunting dog that resembles an even longer-haired version of a wirehaired German pointer, or keeshonden, what looks like a mix between a chow chow and an Alaskan malamute. One hundred breeds is definitely not the gamut but saluki now exists on their list, so I figured that was my cue.
At first, I questioned the validity of it, but then I came across this:
“The Canine Heritage Breed Test began with the search for a set of unique DNA markers, known as SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), which could identify the breed of a purebred dog. We started by testing over 400 different DNA markers on over 100 [AKC-recognized] purebred breeds to identify the unique combination of markers that describe each breed. After testing thousands of purebred dogs, a unique breed DNA profile was developed using over 400 DNA markers per breed. From these initial markers we identified a smaller subset of markers used for the Canine Heritage Breed Test. This final marker set, based on a blind study using thousands of dogs that have been verified to be purebred by AKC certification, was able to successfully assign the correct breed over 99% of the time when testing purebred dogs that are among our identifiable breeds. These markers were then applied and validated on mixed breed dog populations.”
How it works: You order a test kit from canineheritage.com ($120) which includes a cheek swab brush which you’ll use to collect cells from the inside of your dog’s cheek. You stick the swab into the data collection envelope they send, stamp it, mail it, and sit back for four- to six-weeks twiddling your thumbs. Collecting the cells is easier than you think. It’s simply like brushing the inside of the dog’s cheek for 30 seconds with what looks like a mascara brush.
When submitting the test, they ask for a voluntary photograph of your dog. I opted not to send one. While I’m sure the labs at the testing facility aren’t cooing at dog photos and going, “I don’t know, he looks more cocker spaniel than miniature pinscher,” I didn’t want to sway them one way or the other.
Give it your best shot. What breed do you think my dogs are?
What’s your best guess?
by Walker Parks | on October 29th, 2009 | in Swag the Dog, Training Equipment
Can’t really have too many training dummies around when you’re always chucking them in the river. Inevitably one or two never return. The Avery models are hollow rubber, more like an artfully decorated version of the classic boating bumpers. $25
by Grayson Schaffer | on October 27th, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog, Training Equipment
I’ve recommended having your dog sit on a chair for some of the basic training drills, but here’s a piece of equipment well known to retriever trainers that’s even better. This one is the Avery Ruff Stand and runs $180. Dog stands are typically used to give your pup a lift out of the fridged waters of duck marshes, but they’re also a great way to get him up to eye level for hold conditioning, eye contact, place training, and anything else you’d normally have to crouch down to accomplish. For a young pup, the stand also builds confidence for higher places (make sure there’s no hard landing around the stand if you’ve got a very young dog) and provides a stable surface to teach loading (jump on or into something) and under, which is great if you’re in a public place and you want to keep your dog out of the way.
by Grayson Schaffer | on October 10th, 2009 | in Features, Things Dog People Wear
- Camo is not a style
- Camo shall be worn only during and en route to hunting. No exceptions—even in the name of irony.
- Places camo should never be found: Seat covers, coolers, ladies undergarments, auto paint jobs, beer coozies
- Face paint is acceptable
- Camo matters. So does warmth, even more so in duck hunting than in athletic endeavors where the body can generate heat. To that end, I’ve lately been favoring Columbia’s Super Wader Widgeon Parka, which pairs a zip-off reversable down jacket that’s black on one side and camo on the other (see #2, above) with a seam-sealed storm shell that comes complete with ammo-disppensing tube, wrist gaskets, and a cinching hood. $720 (Yeah, it’s a lot but it’s, like, five jackets in one.)
by Walker Parks | on September 18th, 2009 | in Things Dogs Wear
Planet Dog announced last week that they’re adding new sizes and colors—pink, blue, and natural—to their fleece-lined Cozy Hemp Collar and Natural Hemp Leash. The combo is straightforward and simple—perfect for around-town use.
by Grayson Schaffer | on September 17th, 2009 | in Things Dogs Wear
Nothing will spin your dog up or teach him to pull out on his leash like a stranger diving in on him with baby talk and aggressive petting. This is a dangerous combination that can lead your dog to view every stranger out ahead of you as a reward worth sprinting toward. We’ve talked about a few ways to prevent this kind of thing; here’s another: signage.
by Walker Parks | on September 15th, 2009 | in Features, Pampering, Swag the Dog
Dogs don’t need much help when it comes to sleeping. They’re amazingly proficient at it. If there’s a couple square feet of soft turf somewhere out there, they’re probably already snoozing on it. But I’ve noticed something about the Big Shrimpy Original dog bed my two dogs have been snoozing on for the past year or so. They’re addicted to it. I’ve had a few other beds floating around the house, and there’s no shortage of space on the carpet and backyard. Yet every time I pull the three-inch thick Big Shrimpy bed out from under mine, both dogs practically jump over me to stake out their spot on it. (more…)
by Walker Parks | on September 14th, 2009 | in Toys
Here’s a new chew-ball out from Ruff. The Square ball features heavy construction and thick rounded corners that make it look enviting enough to gnaw on, yourself, just to see what you’re missing. The hollow center is perfect for hiding jerkey-style strip treats.
by Grayson Schaffer | on September 4th, 2009 | in Features, Swag the Dog
I still can’t figure out why those molded plastic dog igloos cost $125, or more if you’re adding a pad and a door. Here’s an easy alternative that’s free. Just go down to your local car wash and ask for a soap barrel. Use a jigsaw or Sawsall to cut a hatch in the front. Drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and prop it up on some 2×4s or a piece of steel if you have one handy. Mine took me ten minutes to make and didn’t cost a thing. Just be sure you wash the soap out completely.