Thursday, December 31, 2009

Toby’s Strangest Search Keywords of 2009

Toby Time is slowly but surely gaining popularity (Go Toby!) and probably the best part is seeing all the strange ways visitors make their way to this site. Here are some of the strangest things people searched for in 2009 that led them to Toby Time:

can cavalier king charles wear a harness

Toby’s response: Yes, they can. In fact, they should!

cavalier king charles pumpkin

It is strange how many times people found Toby through variations of this search, including: cavalier dog pupkin, cavalier king charles spaniel pumpkin carving, cavalier king charles spaniel pumpkin carving template, cavalier king charles dogs in pumpkins, and can dogs eat pumpkin stem. Toby’s response to that last one: Yes, and apparently to no ill effect – see my Halloween blog post for proof!

how much is it to get king charles sprayed

I’m not sure what this person is trying to do, but I know this particular cavalier does not particularly like to be sprayed! On a related note, the person searching for Toby spray should know that Toby smells rather bad most of the time and any spray derived from or inspired by him would most likely be less than desirable.

1st birthday king

I hope this person was able to find what they were looking for on Toby Time.

bison and king cavalier spaniels dogs

I like to imagine Toby romping through a grassy prairie with a friendly herd of bison.

cavalier king charles spaniel heart problems how old can they vomite with this

Oh dear.

cavalier king charles spaniel puppies named toby

Well, this person is very specific about what they want. At least they came to the right place! Similar, but stranger, was the person who searched for: dog that looks like toby. What were they hoping to find?

holistic organic king charles cavalier spaniels

Mmm, that makes Toby sound tasty.

my cavalier king charles spaniel eats socks


psychedelic spaniel

Surprising. Understandable, but surprising.

when did king charles the first have ice cream

This person obviously got terribly lost on the Internets. In case anyone else is similarly lost: “Ice Cream, as a dairy delight, first came into popularity in the 1600’s. The story goes that Charles I of England's cook had acquired a Chinese recipe for ice cream and presented it as an after dinner desert [sic.] at a state banquet. Charles I was so impressed that he wanted this delicacy to be served only in his palace, and offered the cook 500 pounds a year to keep the recipe secret. However, this didn’t happen. Charles I was soon beheaded after coming under some serious unpopularity, and the “secret” recipe of ice cream was out.” See here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Three Training Books for Dog Owners

How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days (Revised)

This is the book we used when housebreaking Toby. It’s a quick read and it seemed helpful for us because we had never housetrained a dog before. Now I hear about other dogs who still have accidents in the house even though they are over a year old and it seems hard to believe because Toby is so perfectly housetrained.

Good Owners, Great Dogs

I got this book to help with having a dog because I am a cat person by nature and wanted to make sure I didn’t wind up with a really badly behaved dog due to my own ignorance of how a dog should be treated. Growing up we always had pekingese dogs that were allowed to do whatever they wanted and they would always bite us and make messes all over the house. If I was spending so much money on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel primarily to get the well-mannered, friendly personality, I certainly didn’t want to ruin it by not knowing how to take proper care of him! I think this book was really helpful because now numerous people have commented that Toby is the friendliest dog in the world. He has proven himself around cats, random children on the street, strangers, and even pet rabbits. This book teaches you to be a confident owner without resorting to over-the-top Caesar Milan “pack leader” dominance tactics.

101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog

This book should probably be the next one purchased for Toby. He does know a few tricks: sit, lie down, stand up (on his hind legs), wait, and jump. However, he only does them when he wants to do them, and he is overly food-motivated. His attitude is definitely “What’s in it for me?”! I think he is smart enough to learn tricks, and he definitely wants to please people, but being so full of energy it is hard for him to concentrate if there isn’t a treat involved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful

With the holidays, work, job searching (ugh!), etc., etc., Toby has not had an update in awhile! The weather here in Chicago predictably turned miserable, but unlike last year, this year Toby was fully prepared with new winter coat and dog boots.
Toby's winter boots and coat
Tell me again why I have to dress in this ridiculous outfit?!
Oh, right. Blizzard.
Toby’s new winter coat fit perfectly in length and strap size. However, the back strap was placed a little too far back and had to be adjusted. Before it was adjusted, I took Toby for a test run outside in the coat. He went to his usual spot and just looked up at me like “You really want me to go with this thing on? Well, ok, but you are REALLY not going to like the result!”
For Christmas one of Toby’s owners got a remote controlled helicopter. It has been terrorizing all the animals ever since.
Seriously, do not fly that thing over here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiny Cushion

This cushion is actually part of a larger dog bed, but of course Toby removed it. He has been trying for an embarrassingly long time to balance himself on this tiny cushion, and finally, success! He does seem a little annoyed. It's not like you don't have five other beds and blankets, Toby!

For example: the Sinister Cat Bed from Ikea:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Annual Vet Visit for the Whole Menagerie

A cavalcade of animals went for their annual vet visit the other day. Toby, being the young one, was unexpectedly the healthy one of the bunch. Of the cats, Sedgwick's weight seems to be spiraling out of control, even with its diet. She must be doing some secret eating on the side. Her main problem was an ingrown claw that she never lets us clip. Fortunately it was not infected. Gamera still weighs more than Sedgwick but is a bigger cat, and she has made some progress and lost a little weight. Her surprising new health problem is the development of a grade 2 heart murmur. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner always expects the DOG to develop the heart murmur, not the CAT! Gamera is getting pretty old though, so it may be related to that. The plan of action right now is to wait three weeks and get a new examination when Toby gets his booster shot.

Toby's Health Update

Toby's heart sounded excellent, which is a good sign for a Cavalier. His hips and weight are also fine. He did have a small ear infection in one ear, which of course required a $43 tiny bottle of ear medication. Toby, being a sensitive type, of course hates getting shots, so we were going to go with a 3 year rabies vaccine. He ended up not getting it that day because he needed another vaccine that required a booster shot in 3 weeks. So he'll get the rabies vaccine then.

Importantly, the vet said that they are seeing increasingly high occurrences of Leptospirosis in dogs in the Chicago area. Surprisingly, these outbreaks have not been confined to large dogs or dogs in rural areas; they are affected all breeds and sizes of dogs from all over metro Chicago. Leptospirosis is a disease that dogs usually get from coming into contact with infected wildlife, so it is strange that urban dogs and smaller breeds that don't go hunting, etc., would be exposed to it. Unfortunately the disease can also be transmitted to humans. It affects the liver and kidneys and can be quite serious, even fatal in 10% of canine cases.

So, if you are in the Chicago area, definitely consider adding the lepto vaccine to your dog's annual regimen, even if you think he is never around wildlife or in situations where he might be infected. The vaccine requires one shot up front and then a booster shot three weeks later.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Toby Joins Dogster

Today Toby got on the social networking bandwagon and created a Dogster profile! Visit Toby's profile here! If your pup has a profile, send us a pup pals request. Otherwise just leave Toby a bone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Toby's Puppia: Finding the Right Size for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Because of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's unique potential health problems, it is very important that they wear a harness instead of a collar on walks to relieve pressure around their necks and backs. Toby has personally gone through every single variety of harness sold at Petsmart as well as a large variety of harnesses ordered online. His problem? He eats them. The minute a harness goes on Toby he becomes a world class contortionist, able to twist himself into whatever position is necessary in order to chew off the plastic snap closure, destroying the harness. It isn't even that he doesn't like having the harness on -- he couldn't care less! No, this escaping talent is more of a leisurely activity. He lounges around, contemplatively chewing that bit of plastic, probably thinking about dog parks or riding in the car, without a care in the world. Finally, tired of buying Toby a new $20 harness each week, I modified the latest one he had broken with a metal closure. This solved the problem but I have never had much faith in my sewing abilities so always feared he would escape the harness while outside. Also the modified harness was a little unintuitive and tricky to get on and off. Once he even came back from Pooch Hotel wearing the harness completely backwards!

So it was obvious that Toby needed one last harness, the Ultimate Harness. The ultimate harness being Puppia brand. I had heard good things about this brand online, how it was well-crafted, durable, and perfect for Cavaliers. The only problem was the sizing was really strange. Some reviews said their Cavalier fit into a size medium, some said large. I couldn't imagine Toby wearing a size large anything, so I measured him. Multiple times. And looked at the little chart Puppia has on their website. And measured again. To no avail: the numbers just made no sense. We would have to take Toby to a brick and mortar pet store to try on the harnesses.

Having searched through most of Chicago's boutique pet stores (Puppia not being sold at Petsmart), we were unsuccessful at even finding Puppia at most places, and the one place we found the brand only had sizes large and extra small. At least I was able to ascertain that Toby is NOT, in fact, a "Large".

Finally I decided to just buy a medium online to try it out. Fortunately, it fit perfectly! And the plastic clip seems to be in a spot even Toby can't reach. The benefits of Puppia so far: the harness doesn't pull his fur out (other harnesses were giving him a bald spot on his front and behind his front legs), he can't chew it, it is very well-made, it is easy to take on and off (way easier than any other harness we have tried), he doesn't pull so hard in it that it makes him cough, and he looks so fancy wearing it!

I would suggest that most Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should try a size "Medium" first. Toby is not fat but the "Medium" on him is fairly loose and has a lot of room for expansion. The main issue is the size of the neck hole, which is not adjustable. However, Toby has plenty of room to spare so unless your Cavalier has an abnormally huge head, the Medium should be fine even if he or she is a little pudgy. If you are still wondering whether your Cavalier and Toby are approximately the same size, or close enough to wear the same size harness, I have provided this hopefully helpful reference shot of Toby sitting next to a common cinder block.

Not counting his head or tail, Toby is about as long as a cinder block, as you can see. And from above, I'd say he is about 2-3 inches shy of cinder block width.

Now that you know what size Puppia harness to buy, I would strongly recommend buying from Amazon instead of in a traditional store. Why? Because every place we found Puppia harnesses in person, they were at least $26.00. Price at Amazon? $15.25! And, unlike any store I have visited so far, IN STOCK!

Puppia Soft Dog Harness (Mesh) Black Medium
Price: $15.25

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Main Disadvantage of Floor to Ceiling Windows

Toby's favorite window for growling at the dogs walking by outside...

...and at squirrels, and the garbage truck, and joggers, and trees, and airplanes, and plastic bags blowing in the wind, and...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Product Review: Isle of Dogs Coature No. 63 Detangle Conditioning Mist for Matted Dog Hair

After Toby's bath yesterday we tried out a new conditioning spray from Isle of Dogs. Lately Toby has been getting sticks and burrs stuck in his fur when we go for walks, especially in the long fur on his ears. This has been causing him to get gigantic mats (think golfball-sized!). I trimmed the largest of the mats but it's obvious Toby is going to have to get used to being brushed on a regular basis. I thought this spray would help because it is supposed to untangle the mats in a dog's coat and make the fur smooth so that new mats don't form as easily.

This spray is a little expensive, but wow, what a difference! Toby has never been so smooth and silky, and I can brush his ears out without having him think he is being severely punished for some unknown indiscretion. The spray nozzle is nice because it emits a very fine spray that Toby barely notices, instead of large water drops which all animals seem to hate. Also good is that the spray is not the kind that makes you (or your dog) cough when you inhale it, which is always annoying and doesn't seem to be very healthy. In other words, if it is possible for being sprayed to be a pleasant experience, I think Isle of Dogs detangling mist comes pretty close. Toby may disagree, but overall he doesn't seem bothered by it.

I sprayed him a little last week to test it out before his bath, and I even think it kept him smelling good for days afterward, which is quite a feat when it comes to Toby! After just using this spray 2 times I can highly, highly recommend it. When this bottle is gone I think I will get the 1 liter size to save money.

Isle of Dogs Coature No. 63 Detangle Conditioning Mist for Matted Dog Hair, 8.4 oz.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bath Time for Toby

The nice thing about a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is they are small enough to give them a bath in the sink. Toby does not think this is a particularly nice thing.

Toby, are you ready for your bath???

Oh great, I know what's coming when they put me in the sink...



 I seriously don't know why I put up with you guys sometimes...

  But after his bath, Toby goes CRAZY:

Shaking around...

Slamming his head on the floor...

 All the while with a crazed look on his face

Check out his huge smile because he looooves shaking the water off.

And the best part? The only reason Toby puts up with baths at all? When he's done, he gets to play:



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Avoid Toxic Winter Sidewalk Salt: Dog Bootie Roundup

While we have had unseasonably warm weather in Chicago this weekend, before we know it the snow and ice will be here and the sidewalks will be covered with salt. Unfortunately for Toby, his paws are very sensitive to ice and salt. Last winter, when Toby was just a baby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, we tried to go for walks when the sidewalks had been salted and he would quickly start whining and limping around, trying not to touch the ground with ANY of his paws. He was so confused! "Hey, usually I can walk around without any trouble, but suddenly my paws are being bitten by invisible adversaries!"

Now, arguably Toby needs to toughen up a little, but not only is sidewalk salt (or rock salt) painful to walk on, but it is also poisonous to dogs. According to Drs. Foster and Smith, "Sidewalk ice melters like salt, magnesium, or calcium chloride can cause irritation to paws and are toxic when ingested causing stomach upsets, and if enough is ingested, nerve damage." So it is a good idea to keep this stuff away from dogs. That is why we bought Toby some winter booties to wear outside. However, after a year of wear and tear he is ready for a new set. Here are a few that we have been thinking about getting:

Pawz Dog Boots (Small)
Pawz Dog Boots (Small)
Price: was $18.99, on sale for $13.99

These Pawz Dog Boots are like little balloons. They come in packs of 16 or so (so 4 sets), making them somewhat disposable so it doesn't matter if your dog loses one or two while on your walk (this was a big problem for us last year, Toby would get back inside wearing only 3 booties and I'd have to go hunt down the missing one). The reviews suggest they stay on the feet really well, too, since they are stretchy. And because they are rubber, they are waterproof and salt-proof. $14 seems like a really good price for them too. For these reasons they are at the top of our list. However, I'm not sure I like the way Toby would look walking around with balloons on his feet. He is such a vain dog.

Watson's MyPaws All-terrain Dog Shoes

Watson's MyPaws All-terrain Dog Shoes

Price: was $29.99, on sale for $24.99

These look like some serious boots! They have solid rubber soles that would again provide excellent protection against mud and salt. Further, because they are rigid in the soles, a dog's paw is protected against sharp shards of ice or glass (you seriously never know what you are going to find on the ground around here and Toby is guaranteed to find it by stepping on it, eating it, or getting it stuck in his ears). These are touted as being easy to take on and off, with two velcro straps to adjust the size to fit your dog. They also have reflective tape on the tops so a dog would be easier to see at night. They also say: "Will not retain odors." If only we could say the same for Toby!

Small Fleece Lined Muttluks in Red

Small Fleece Lined Muttluks in Red

Price: was $39.99, on sale for $33.99

These are really cute because they come in rain slicker yellow as well as red. Muttluks are the gold standard for dog booties. These feature a leather toe cover for larger sizes and a Cordura Nylon toe cover for smaller dogs. They also have the reflective tape to increase visibility at night. The sock-like stretchy cuff looks super comfy and would work for dogs having short or long legs. 

Hott Doggers, Red, Itty Bitty

Hott Doggers, Red, Itty Bitty

Price: $12.95

These simple booties are the most similar to what Toby currently has. They worked pretty well for us last year, though I would prefer the nonstick surface to go all the way around because the booties keep twisting around on Toby and he ends up with the fleece part down. For some reason, Toby doesn't mind wearing booties at all and has never tried to tear them off. I guess that is one of the benefits to having an easy going Cavalier!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dog Food Sale of the Day: 10% Off at Wysong!

By now you know what a fan Toby is of natural, holistic food (well, and garbage he finds on the ground) and what a fan his owners are of ordering dog food online. The only problem is it tends to be a little more expensive online than in the store. Here is a coupon I found to help defray the costs on one of the most respected brands for natural dog and cat foods, Wysong:

Save 10% off your first order of Wysong all-natural pet food today!

There doesn't seem to be an expiration date on this coupon, and no code is required!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Organic and Natural Dog Treats - Toby's Picks

Let's be clear: Toby is not a picky eater. He is constantly trying to eat whatever garbage he sees lying on the ground on our walks, including sticks, rocks, wood chips, pieces of food, glass, get the idea. To distract him from all these "treasures" requires a good treat. You know, the kind that is actually edible. Here are Toby's Top 3 Picks of the day for dog treats (with an emphasis on organic or natural treats that are actually healthy).

Wysong DentaTreat: Toby loves the kind of supplements that are flavored like liver or chicken to be extra tasty and can be sprinkled right on his regular food. It's like a special seasoning! This DentaTreat supplement provides the added benefit of helping to maintain a dog's teeth and oral hygiene. Toby is always jumping around so much it would be pretty much impossible to brush his teeth, even though I know you are supposed to brush your dog's teeth to keep them healthy. This seems like a good alternative for in between vet dentals. (Hint: use coupon code CJ10 at checkout to save 10% on your order).

Greenies® - PETITE 20 BONES
Greenies® - Petite Bones: What is it about Greenies that dogs love so much? They don't smell like anything, they don't really look like much, and they don't have the satisfying crunch of dog biscuits. Yet I've never met a dog that didn't love Greenies more than any other treat. As an added bonus, Greenies are also supposed to be good for a dog's teeth. Greenies used to be a little hard and seemed like they might be a choking hazard, but they now have a new formula that makes them much more flexible with the same mysterious allure for dogs they have always had.

NEW! Merrick Delicous Lamb Filet Squares (10 oz)
Merrick Delicous Lamb Filet Squares: Dog treats are often made of weird ingredients. These are made of lamb lungs, apparently. Toby thinks they are made of delicious slices of heaven. Whatever you say, Toby. The lamb ingredient seems like they would make these treats ideal for pets with allergies to chicken or beef.