Monday, March 22, 2010

Chuck It

I love playing fetch with Milly, but I've never been talented when it comes to throwing balls. If Milly could talk she'd let you know that there is no rhyme or reason to where the ball goes when I throw it, sometimes it goes far, sometimes it gets stuck in the Azalea bushes, sometimes it goes sideways, and sometimes it practically lands at my feet. Milly is a good sport about my terrible hand-eye-coordination, but it gets annoying that I'm just that bad at throwing balls and frisbies! I have terrible joints, and I'm sure that contributes to my terrible throwing abilities.

I picked up a Chuck-It at Petsmart a few months ago, and have to say this plastic ball launcher has turned me into a great fetch partner! I can now throw a ball more than 15 feet, and it actually goes in the direction I throw it! I can throw the ball with a Chuck-It about the distance of a small field, but I've seen people with much better hand-eye-coordination throw it much, much, much further than I can. Milly is able to get more excercise playing fetch, because the ball goes much further than it did before. I'm able to throw the ball for much longer with the Chuck-It, because my shoulder does not start throbbing. For anyone with bad shoulders, like me, the Chuck-It will help you out tremendously.

The Chuck-It is a simply, but brilliant design. It is made from plastic, and in a long sloping stick with a handle, the shaft of the Chuck-It flows into a tennis ball sized cup. The cup holds a ball while you are going through the throwing motion, but gravity is able to pull the ball out at the end of the throw. Much like throwing a ball with a lacrosse stick would catapult it threw the air, the Chuck-It does the same.

I give this product 4 Paws!!! It's great. At under $14 it is not too expensive, either. They now make them in a variety of sizes. With all toys and balls, make sure to use it with an appropriate sized ball for your particular dog.

Tossed and Found

Many of you know I am in my new member year with the Junior League of Washington, and love it! I have met so many amazing women, and had incredible opportunities to volunteer in the community and really make a difference in people’s lives.

For the past few months, a large portion of my time has been consumed with volunteering for the Junior League of Washington’s largest spring fundraiser, Tossed and Found, a three-day sale offering bargain shoppers quality pre-owned housewares, fashions, books, sporting goods, electronics, and furniture. All items are available at amazing discounts. All goods sold at Tossed and Found are donated by the generous members, friends, and community partners of the Junior League of Washington, and all proceeds benefit the Junior League of Washington’s targeted grants and community programs.

With tens of thousands of items for sale, it has taken months of preparation, but the sale week is finally upon us!

Last night, after volunteering for the final preparations for the event, I had the opportunity to do a little bit of pre-sale shopping, and a chance to scope out the great items up for sale! I spent $11 and picked up two books and a neat paw-print tile making kit. You all know I love to incorporate my love of animals into my life wherever I can, and thought this would be a fun project for my garden. In the same style as children’s handprint making kits, this kit will enable me to make a large tile of Milly’s paw prints in a stylish way. I plan on not only stamping her paws into the tile, but also creating a glass or tile mosaic around the outside, and stenciling her name and possibly “Gotcha Day” date into the tile as well. I think it will look very nice in the garden, and at $4 it was a steal!

The pet section of Tossed and Found has some amazing items at absolute bargain prices. A pair of pet steps (appropriate for a small or medium dog), a Sherpa style bag for a small breed for only $5, numerous dog bags, all toys are only $1, leashes and collars, and dog clothes at only $3 an item! I’m sure I’m leaving out tons of stuff like dog beds, bowls, and leash hooks!

If you are in the Washington, DC area I highly recommend stopping by. The sale is located within the Crystal City Shops at 2100 Crystal City Drive, Arlington, VA. On Friday, March 26th, from 7:00pm-9:00pm, you can attend Preview Night where there will be both live and silent auctions, games, and wine and beer. Tickets are $40 if you purchase them online, and $45 at the door. This is a great way to give to a wonderful charity, and also a fun way to shop before the sale opens to the public. The sale will run on Saturday, March 27th from 9:00am – 5:00pm, and on Sunday, March 28th from 9:00am-3:00pm. Click here for directions to Tossed and Found.

Tossed and Found is a GREEN sale. In 2009, the sale recycled 65 bins of paper, 14 bags of bottles, 7 bins of plastic bags, and 7 of old electronics, and donated 55 bags of clothing and other items to Goodwill. This year, Tossed and Found is staying green. Tossed and Found also donates unsold items to other charities. It's a fitting effort for a sale that recycles quality goods into the community by collecting donated items and selling them at deep discounts.

If you are not in the Washington, DC area, but want to help a wonderful cause you can purchase a $40 Community Cash Card online. Your tax deductible donation will provide an opportunity for a JLW Community Partner, Neighbor In Need, or a Community Organization of your choice to purchase $40 worth of items at our 2010 sale. The actual cards will be distributed by a member of the Tossed and Found Committee. The cards are redeemable for merchandise only, have no cash value and are only valid on the weekend of the 2010 Tossed & Found sale (26-28 March 2010). In this recession local charities truly depend on these cards for items, and your donation will go directly to helping the community. Click here to purchase your Community Cash Card and give back to the community!

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Possible Future Puppy

Last week I had a brief online chat with the breeder I hope to buy my first show puppy from, assuming all goes as planned. She let me know the bitch is showing signs that she will soon be in heat, and in the next few weeks the breeding should take place.

I've been searching for so long for the right breeder that I'm ready to prepare for my puppy! I can't do any shopping yet, as no breeding has taken place, and a lot can go wrong between now and the puppies being born. But I can learn as much as I can and prepare in other ways. I want to make sure I do everything right with this puppy, but I'm pretty sure that will be in possible and I'll make plenty of novice mistakes. Right now I'm trying to prepare for this puppy, and map out a course of action.

When I get the puppy, at around 8 weeks of age, I will want to immediately enroll in puppy kindergarten. I'm looking for a class with an emphasis on obedience, but nothing too intense, as these are babies. I want something with a puppy play session after class, and also educational aspects. I've found six dog schools offering these classes in my area. A big part of my decision on which school to use will be the class schedule. I want to enroll as soon as I get my puppy, and these courses tend to be run on 6-8 week cycles.

After puppy kindergarten I want to continue with obedience work, and I've found a good school for this in my area. The only problem, is the puppies need to be 6 months or older before enrolling. I might end up taking some other class at a different school after puppy kindergarten, but before my first "big dog" obedience class.

I will most certainly need to take conformation classes, also called handling classes, so both the puppy and I will be prepared for the show ring. I've found four schools with-in a reasonable distance of me (these are all much longer drives than the puppy kindergarten and obedience classes) that I will look into. I'm thinking I will call each dog school/kennel club that offers these classes and ask if I can audit a few classes before I get my pup. That way I will have a feel of teaching styles, and will know what will be expected of me and my pup. One of the kennel clubs that offers these classes also offers a weekly "mock show" where you pay $7 and can practice everything you would do in a real show ring, complete with someone putting their hands on your dog just like a judge would. This is very appealing to me, and I think I'd enjoy taking advantage of this after a month or two of handling classes. These classes start between 6-10 months of age, and are geared towards the adult dog.

I joined the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) and have already learned a lot, but I will also be joining my local Golden Retriever club. Through contacts I plan to make with my local club, I should be able to get some recommendations about good instructors to use.

I have been hesitant to post much on my potential future puppy, and the breeding, because I just don't want to jinx myself, but I can't hold it in any longer! I won't reveal the dam and sire's names until after the breeding has at the very least been confirmed, and possibly not until the litter is born, but I'll share pictures of the parents! All of my possibly future puppy's grand parents are at least AKC Champions, some are also Canadian Champions. All great grand parent's of my hopefully future puppy are either American or Canadian Champions, and in some cases both. In fact, in both the pedigrees of the sire and dam it's hard to find a dog that is not either a Canadian or American Champion for many, many generations. Note: I am using the terms AKC Champion and American Champion interchangably in this post, all American Championships are with the AKC.

This is the dam. I love how she is not at all overdone, and has beautiful correct structure. I also love her head. The dam has pointed in AKC, and both of her parents are Champions.

And here are some pictures of the sire of this planned litter. The sire is an American and Canadian CH, as are both of his parents. Isn't he simply breath taking? The combined pedigree of the sire and dam is sure to produce amazing puppies! I am so excited, and pray every night everything works out with me getting a puppy.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures! I'll share the pedigree when the time moves closer, and of course, I'm going to need my reader's help picking a name at some point down the road. The litter will have a theme, for example, a fire theme might have puppies named Kennel Name Fire and Ice or Kennel Name Can't Stop the Fire. An animal theme litter might have names like, Kennel Name Otterly Crazy or Kennely Name Making Ewe Laugh. A lot of times the registered name will be reflected in the call name, for example,
Kennel Name Can't Stop the Fire might have a call name of "Ember", but you don't have to follow that rule with the call name. A call name can be whatever I'd like it to be.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Preppy Dog Beds on a Budget

As many of you know, I love home décor and accessories, and I love bargains! So it’s no surprise I’m a huge fan of One Kings Lane, an invitation only website filled with top designer home goods at sample sale prices. While they usually feature beautiful normal home décor, every few weeks they have some dog themed items that are great ways to add more pooch to your pad, or more canine to your crib. In the last few months One Kings Lane dog items have included needlepoint pillows featuring various breeds, collars, beds, and artwork.

Isn't this pillow the cutest? Hand stitched from the finest needlepoint. When they had this sale they had a variety of breeds.

As a dog lover, I am always excited when I find cute ways to incorporate my beloved Golden Retriever and her accoutrement into my home decorating, while maintaining function, and not breaking the bank.

There are some beautiful, classic and preppy dog beds by Harry Barker on One Kings Lane right now. Act fast, the sale ends on March 12th at 11:00am.

Harry Barker was started on a kitchen table in a New York City loft by Carol Perkins. Perkins, an ex-model, made her Broadway debut as a fire-eater with Penn & Teller. She began creating dog beds, toys and robes for friends while recovering from a rare type of brain tumor. Harry Barker, named after her Super-Sheltie, came to be. These cozy, eco-friendly canine beds are as warm and unique as the woman who created them.

My personal style is very preppy, and the toile bed is my favorite! It comes in red, blue, green, brown, and black toile so there's an option for every style!

The beds are eco-friendly, durable, mildew-resistant, antibacterial, anti fungal and grown-pesticide free. Made from hemp, with the padded insert made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, these are very sustainable. Though the beds come in various shades, they’re “green” in every hue. They come in solids, stripes, toile, and even silhouettes in a variety of colors and sizes ranging from 25 inches to 45 inches. The beds range from $59-79, and are marked up to 45% off.

If you are not already a member of One Kings Lane and would like and invitation leave a comment with your email address, and I will send a personal invitation your way right away!

Restrain Your Dog When Riding in the Car:

Whenever I visit my hometown of Camden, South Carolina one thing I don’t look forward to seeing are dogs loose in the beds of pick up trucks (I see it all the time there). I cringe every time I see this, because it is extremely risky and dangerous for the dog. Over 100,000 dogs are killed each year because they jumped out of a moving pickup truck bed or were thrown from an open vehicle as it was driving down the road or highway. Many states have tried to pass bills to regulate transportation of dogs in pick up trucks, but the legislation rarely passes. California has a law stating a dog must be in a crate or cross tied while riding in the bed of a pick up truck, and violators can be fined $50 to $250. For more information about states with tethered dog laws visit:

Photo by: Ferlinka Borzoi

If you must put your dog in the bed of your truck put a sturdy crate that has plenty of air vents in the center of the truck, secured down ropes or tethers. The next safest way for a dog to ride in a truck bed is tethered on a short leash, with the leash attached to a harness, not a collar. I frequently see people with seeming good intentions tying their dogs with long ropes or leashes attached to the dog’s collar in the truck bed – in the event of an accident this could cause your dog to hang to death, literally strangling your dog.

Photo by: BC SPCA

The safest method of transporting a dog in a truck is in a crate centered in the truck bed, and securely tied down.

Photo by: Super Cool Pets

At the bare minimum, a dog riding in a truck bed needs to be tethered with a secure and short leash attached to a harness to prevent strangulation and death in the event of an accident.

If you decide the bed of the truck is not the place for your dog, just putting a dog in the cab of a truck, or letting a dog ride loose in the car is still dangerous. I recently asked a vet how many patients she sees that are victims of car accidents, and she said too many to count, and then noted none had been properly restrained. Each year over 100,000 of dogs are injured, killed or become unnecessarily lost in car accidents – these injuries are completely avoidable.

You might be the safest driver, but there are some things on the road you cannot prevent. A dog in a pick up bed could jump out, you might have to swerve to miss something and the dog could fall out, you could have a blow out and the dog could go flying, or what happens if you are hit by another car? Not to mention there is a huge risk of flying debris, dust, dirt or pollen hitting the soft tissue of your dog’s eye -- resulting in infection, injury and painful trauma. If your dog rides in the car with you, no matter how tempting, please do not allow it to hang its head out the window, trust me, eye injuries are not fun. If after reading this you are still tempted to roll down the window and let your dog see the sights, please invest in a pair of Doggles for eye protection.

Photo by: Travel Pets

While this dog is wearing proper eye protection, it appears to not be restrained with a harness or seat belt.

A dog loose in a car, though a bit safer than one unrestrained in a truck bed, is still not safe. If you were to have an accident your dog most likely would fly through the windshield, and if it did survive, it might be terrified and run into on coming traffic. Also, always remember to keep your pet out of the front seat to protect him or her from airbags. An airbag deploying could very easily kill your beloved pet.

In the event of a crash, pets go from furry friends to flying objects and can cause serious injury or death to themselves and others. In fact, the British Columbia SPCA reports, a 50-pound pet, when traveling at speeds of 50km/hour (approximately 31 mph), has the weight of approximately one ton!

Types of dog restraints for automobiles:

Selecting the right restraint for your dog is enough to make your head spin – there are so many options on the market. In the end, it all boils down to personal preference based on many individual factors. Below I will explain various ways to help you make the most educated decision possible when selecting the restraint for your dog and your vehicle.

The safest way to travel with your dog is to have him crated, and this is far and away the safest if you are traveling with any equipment or tools in your car that could shift during impact. Equipment or tools can be deadly in an accident, not only to the driver, but to the dog too. The crate method, though safest, is only an option if you have the space available. The crate does not need to be tied down (though that will increase safety), but it does need to be a sturdy crate that is latched shut. The vet I spoke with said dogs that are crated in accidents frequently can survive even when the humans do not, and it makes sense. In essence, you are creating a protective barrier, much like rollover bars on a race car, for your dog. Less safe than a hard sided crate, but still a safety option, is a soft sided crate. If you go this route, I highly recommend securing the soft crate.

Photo by: UK Dog Guards

Photo by: Sterling and Omega Flat Coated Retrievers

A soft crate that could be used in a car.

Another way to restrain your dog is using a dog seat belt. These are a convenient alternative to crating, because they are small in size (about the size of a regular dog harness) and you can keep it in your car at all times. There are many different types, but they all incorporate the car’s seat belt with the special harness to restrain your dog. The only draw back with these types of harnesses is your dog has to be on the seats for them to work, and if you have nice leather seats this might not be your favorite solution. Dog seat belts are a great way to travel if you are transporting dogs that get along, but if the dogs in your car do not get along you will need to have them crated.

Photo by: Cargo Gear

For small dogs, a dog car seat is an option. Available in numerous styles, they are secured with your seat belt or with an included restraint attachment that connects to your seat or seat belt. Dog car seats elevate small dogs so they can look out the window, and are padded for added canine comfort.

Photo by: Pet Squared

The last way, though safer than riding loose in the car, but not nearly as safe as being crated or restrained with a seat belt, is for SUV and station wagon owners – the dog barrier. These barriers, the safest are the types that are physically bolted into the car’s ceiling; prevent your dog from coming over the back seat. However, in an accident, the rear door/hatch of an SUV or station wagon may open, and the dog would not be restrained if this occurred.

Photo by: Tuffy Products

If you own a sedan or similar car your dog most likely rides on the seats anyways. To protect your seats you can purchase seat covers, and to protect your pooch for under $40 you can purchase a dog seat belt harness or similar restraint.

So before you ask your pooch, “want to go for a ride?” think about what would happen in an accident, and properly restrain your best friend. A properly restrained dog, even if an accident does not occur, will also keep the driver safe, because the dog cannot come to the front of the car, and distractions are kept to a minimum.

Why Restrain Your Dog?

  • Dogs can distract the driver by moving around in the vehicle, trying to jump into the front seat, or barking excessively. Driver distractions are a leading cause of accidents..
  • Heaven forbid you were involved in an accident; your pup might escape from the car and become lost. Accidents are scary, especially for dogs, and their instinct to flee the situation goes into over drive during traumatic experiences.
  • In the event of an accident, your dog could be seriously injured, maimed or killed if loose in your vehicle.
  • Other equipment or items in your car can injure your dog in even the smallest fender bender.

It doesn’t have to be this way! These injuries are completely avoidable. By being safe, aware, cautious and educated you can prevent this from happening to you and your pet. You can help others by taking the time to educate them and raise awareness of safe pet travel.

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