Monday, June 25, 2012

World's Best Dog Toy

West Paw Design: Dog Toy Product Review

Hannah and Titan playing with their Hurley toys.
  Almost three months ago, Hannah impaled herself in the mouth while playing outside with a large stick.  The stick stuck in the ground while she was running with it and it caught her mouth, creating a laceration under her tongue a few inches long.  Multiple stitches later she was recovering, but we realized that we needed to step up our game when it came to dog toys.  Clearly we live in the mountains and keeping our dogs away from sticks is impossible, but we thought that if we had a great toy it would be easier to distract her from the sticks of death.  I didnt have much hope as we have bought every kind of dog toy and NONE of them have lasted more than a week.  Literally...whether it is stuffed, or rubber, or rope or whatever, Hannah finds a way to mutilate and destroy each one within days. 

Foster puppy Sitka trying to figure out the Hurley.

Once my mom had heard what happened to Hannah she immediately knew what to do, and sent us three Hurley toys from West Paw Design.  They didnt look much different from other toys that have since passed through our house and on to doggie toy heaven, but my skepticism was soon squelched!   Hannah and Titan LOVE the Hurley from West Paw Design, and two months later there isn't so much as one tooth mark in it.  I don't understand how they work, but these toys are amazing.  They have lived through one foster dog, two foster puppies, and most importantly Hannah the toy destroyer!  I love that they are also extremely affordable and considering they have lasted this long, I would be willing to pay twice as much!  As if I hadn't given you enough reasons already, everything from West Paw Design is made in the USA, eco-friendly and they fully guarantee their products.  

Check out the full selection of toy and pet products, including the Hurley, from West Paw Design.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Venice Beach Dog Drama

I told myself when I started this blog that I would include both good experiences and bad. While it can be easy to gloss over the negative, this would not be an accurate account of my life with animals if I did not include everything...both good and bad.

We spent this past weekend with Fritz's family in a modern condo nestled between Venice and Marina Del Rey, California.  Fritz's sister (Amy) lives a little east of there and we were fortunate enough to spend a long weekend enjoying the beach and all the crazy people on Venice Boardwalk (I think I will post later in the week about the homeless population and their dogs).  Amy has an adorable 25-ish pound Cavapoo (poodle and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix), named Gibson who is a total sweetheart.

We were walking along the Venice Canals Sunday morning.  It is an amazing place and very dog-friendly.  We must have walked by 20 dogs within our hour-long stroll.  We turned off of the canal sidewalks and onto a side street.  I was walking towards the front when I heard snarling, barking, growling - it is hard to describe the noises a dog makes when it goes after something, but my stomach dropped as I instantly recognized the sounds of a dog fight.  A boxer had run out from some shadowy bushes and latched onto Gibson.  The ensuing noises that came from the little dog made his terror and pain pretty clear.

I have been around quite a few stressful and chaotic situations involving animals before, and for whatever reason something clicks in my brain.  I realize what needs to be done and try to do it.  The boxer had a pretty firm grip on Gibson, and what was probably seconds seemed like minutes as I looked for a break to separate the two.  I barely noticed a woman in the background screaming and crying for help.  Luckily Fritz and his Dad were able to muscle the boxer off as I grabbed one of Gibson's tiny legs and hauled him away.  

This was when I realized that the lady who was screaming was really a small girl, with tears streaming down her face and a haunted look on her face.    We soon realized that Gibson was OK, at least at first glance and that this little girl did not live at the house she was playing next to.  She was so upset that she couldn't even remember where she was or how to get home.  We tried calling her house phone but no one answered, and resorted to putting her address into one of our IPhones and following the directions until she recognized where she was and how to get home.  We split up our group, a few of us going a separate direction with Gibson, and Fritz, his Dad and I walking the girl back to her house to speak with her parents.  They paced ahead, and I walked behind with the girl, and walked the boxer.  I tried to calm her down telling her it wasn't her fault, and that her dog isn't a mean dog but that it was scared.  It soon surfaced that they had only rescued it two weeks earlier and they had a pretty good idea that it wasn't friendly toward other dogs.  She was clearly the most upset over the fact that "her" dog had been mean.  I told her that sometimes we don't know what happened to dogs before we bring them home, and that you have to be careful, but not to think of her dog as a mean dog.  

The parents were shocked, and sorry to say the least.  They had already begun classes with her to work on her reactions to other dogs.  The boxer turned out to be a very sweet dog, and put its head in my lap when we were inside.  As I looked into her eyes I saw sadness and realized that she too could have been spared from this situation if her owners had used a little more common sense.

Gibson will be ok, but had to have several stitches and draining tubes from a puncture wound on the top of his neck.  We are all thankful that it did not turn out much worse.  The saddest part is that the situation could have been so easily avoided. No 10 year old girl should be walking a big dog on her own, much less one that is known to have adverse reactions to other dogs.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lazy Saturday

The Perfect Saturday

I had a totally lazy weekend and I feel great about it!  Fritz had to work two 14 hour days because of an event at Beaver Creek and the dogs and I had the house and backyard all to ourselves.  We were dog-sitting a wonderful Lab named Zuma, who was recently adopted through Mountain Dog Rescue and needed a place to hang while her family went on vacation.  She was a breeze to take care of, and got along with Hannah and Titan famously. 

After a decently long run, we all retreated to the sun-drenched backyard and decidedly fell asleep for a few hours.  There is nothing quite as content as a tired dog sun-bathing!  The fact that it is now Monday, has me day-dreaming of my lazy Saturday.  Only 4 more days to the weekend, everybody :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dock Dogs

Hannah Does Dock Dogs

This past weekend was the Summer Teva Mountain Games, at Vail Mountain.  Hands down Teva Games is always my favorite weekend of the year.  The town is buzzing after the quiet off-season, the weather is gorgeous and the multitude of sporting events make for an exciting array of spectating choices.

Ever since we got Hannah (going on two year's ago) I have wanted to try Dock Dogs with her.  She pretty much flies off of any available platform into the water, and I thought it would be fun to see how she compared to the pros.  We signed up on Friday, got two practice jumps in, and were slotted for the 11:00am Wave in the Big Air competition on Sunday.  I ended up making Fritz take her up there and do it.  For one, if she was going to choke I wanted it to be him and not me.  Second, I hate attention and being in front of lots of people makes me nervous.  Third, I wanted to take some pictures and take some notes for a work assignment, which would easier as a spectator.  Fritz probably would have rather I done it, but he was a saint and put up with it none-the-less.  

After posting a video on Facebook of her practice round, the news spread and several friends planned on coming to watch.  It turned out to be a "hurry up and wait" kind of a day, with delays and lots of sitting around.  You are put into groups (amateur, semi-pro, and pro) based on how far the dog jumps, and the jump is measured by where the base of the tail enters the water.

Her first round went well, but she jumped kind of sideways and was recorded at around 15 feet (cant remember how many inches).  Her second jump was better, and recorded at 16 feet 1 inch.  We were pretty impressed with how far she ended up going, and a couple different people came up to ask if it was really our first time.  Turns out Hannah was only a few inches away from making it to the finals.  While we were guiltily relieved that we didn't have to wait around any longer, we were pretty impressed with her skills!  

There is another Dock Dogs competition scheduled for early August at the Mountain Dog Canine Carnival in Eagle, CO.  I think with a little strategy and some more practice, we just might be in the running for the finals!

Hannah's first jump in Dock Dogs.