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.

Toby Has the Hiccups

Do dogs get the hiccups? Yes! Toby has them right now. He is sleeping curled up in his little bed (which he always flips upside down and inside out for some reason) making little hicc! sounds every few seconds. It is totally normal for dogs to get hiccups sometimes. Toby's never last very long. It is only when the hiccups last a long time that you should consider taking your dog to the vet to get him checked out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Much Should a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Weigh?

This morning I got curious and decided to weigh Toby. According to our scale, he is 14.8 pounds. This was a little surprising to me for a couple reasons. Although Cavaliers are known to gain weight easily, Toby is far from a fattie. In fact, he is probably the skinniest Cavalier I have seen on our walks in Chicago. Second, Toby is also the shortest Cavalier in the neighborhood. Most are at least 3-4 inches taller than he is. Maybe we just live in a neighborhood with really tall Cavaliers? I guess it isn't so surprising that Toby weighs that much. He is pure muscle, always jumping and running around and taking a long walk every day to the park.

After weighing Toby, I went online to see how much a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is SUPPOSED to weigh. We have an agreement with the breeder that Toby should not get more than 25% overweight, so I wanted to make sure we are still on the right track. It turns out the standard weight for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 10-18 pounds. So Toby is right in the middle! Fortunately, he doesn't gobble his food down quite as fast as he did when he was a puppy, so hopefully we won't have much trouble keeping him at his ideal weight!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Toby Eats the Halloween Pumpkin! (Or at Least the Stem)

Here is our Halloween pumpkin, about to be carved. It looks like something's missing...

The stem is gone!

Guess who is responsible?

You guessed it, Toby!

Dogs are well known to love pumpkin. But pumpkin stem? I guess so!

Who knew pumpkin stems could be so delicious...

Ok, Toby, you can stop chewing on our pumpkin now. It's getting weird.

Here he is, proud of his handiwork.

I don't think that is how you're supposed to carve a pumpkin, Toby!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chicago Boutique Pet Stores: Toby's Search for a Winter Coat Continues

This weekend, Toby discovered a new favorite pastime: shopping! We previously spent some time online searching for a new winter dog coat, but I just don't trust myself to get his measurements correct and oftentimes, even when the coat should fit, his long legs make actually getting him into the coat impossible. And Toby is rather small for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, so going by breed recommendations doesn't work very well. So we decided the only thing to do was to go to some brick and mortar Chicago pet boutiques and get properly fitted for a winter coat and a new harness (more on the Puppia harness later).

Toby quickly decided that he LOVES going to pet boutiques. He gets to ride in the car and explore a new Chicago neighborhood. This weekend we visited pet shops in the South Loop, Ukrainian Village, and Wicker Park. Toby pretty much knows everyone in our little section of the West Loop, but in these neighborhoods everyone was new and eager to compliment Toby and generally shower him with attention. He is probably embarrassed of his rather awkward owners who don't know how to respond to everyone rushing up to pet him!

From Toby's perspective, the nice thing about boutique pet shops, as opposed to say, Petsmart, is that the toys and treats are often at a dog's eye level, so he gets to check everything out. Also, the owners of these shops give him tons of attention and free treats (well, maybe not quite free, he DOES have to do a trick or two to earn the treat!). Toby gets so excited in these shops he whines and whines. He is also very good about trying on dog clothes--what a little fashionista he is turning out to be! Anyhow, here is where we went on our quest to find a new winter coat at a Chicago pet boutique:

Doggy Style Pet Shop: 2023 West Division Street, Chicago, IL
A word of caution: every boutique pet store in Chicago has to have a clever pun for a name. This is all well and good except for when one is writing up a review of the place for one's blog and naively googles for "Doggy Style" to find the street address. Owww, my eyes!!! Lesson: always remember to include "Pet Shop" in your search phrase, folks.

The people at this shop were very friendly and Toby found a number of high quality coats that fit him perfectly. However, Toby is not allowed to buy a coat that costs more than his owner's coat, so we unfortunately had to pass on a couple of the nicer coats in this shop. They have a lot of other nice things, too. Their selection of collars, harnesses, and leads seemed to be particularly expansive. They were out of Toby's size in the Puppia brand harness, but said they were expecting a new shipment shortly, so we may be back later.


Spotland Yard: 907 N. Damen, Chicago, IL

We didn't actually get to go into this shop because they don't open until noon on Sundays, but it looked nice from the outside and Toby really liked walking around in this neighborhood (Ukrainian Village). If you want to check it out, be sure to print out the coupon above to receive a free dog treat!


Kriser's: 1103 S. State, Chicago, IL
Everyone in this pet boutique was really friendly and helpful as well. They offered to order any coats we liked if they didn't have Toby's size, and they gave Toby plenty of free sample treats. They were having a Halloween costume party for pets this afternoon, but after all this shopping, Toby is too tired to go. This shop seemed to have the best selection of unique, high quality dog treats. After checking them all out, Toby decided on some peanut butter banana treats, Northern Biscuit Little Prints Copacabana Mini Bites (the name is quite a mouthful!).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Should I Get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?" Some Helpful Advice

So you have heard that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and good natured. You may have heard that the Cavalier is a large dog in a small dog's body - that it doesn't bark a lot like many other small breeds. It's true! That the Cavalier is great with both kids and cats and is not by nature aggressive? Also true! And they have the beautiful, soft face of a spaniel, with large, round, dark eyes full of soulful emotion. So what is stopping you from running out and adopting one today? Here are a few things to consider about the breed before you take the plunge:

Separation Anxiety: Yes, cavaliers are affectionate and want nothing more than to be close to their human companions. However, this could actually be a bad thing if you work long hours. For example, Toby hates it when we go to a different room if he can't follow. He would especially hate being left alone all day without us. To remedy this, we make sure to give him lots of attention and trips to doggie daycare if we won't be around for long hours.

Health Problems: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known to have many health problems, including syringomyelia, heart mitral valve disease, and hip dysplasia, to name a few. Almost all cavaliers exhibit some or even all of these health problems unless you buy from a very reputable breeder, and they result in expensive vet bills and short lifespans - definitely NOT something you want to be thinking about when you are getting your new puppy! To avoid these pitfalls later on, research BEFORE buying a cavalier:

Finding a Reputable Breeder: When we were looking for Toby, finding a reputable breeder who was alert and responsive to the breed's health issues was probably the hardest part! Most ads we saw in the newspaper ended up being from puppy farms, and even breeders who seemed to be health conscious would often get defensive when asked questions about the steps they were taking to ensure their dogs were healthy. Tip: if the breeders response to your questions about SM and MVD is "I do NOT breed GARBAGE!" look for a different breeder. You will eventually find one that is proud of the steps they have taken to breed healthy dogs and will be happy to discuss the health issues with you. 

Expensive: Sure, you can find ads for Cavalier puppies for as little as $300. You may think you can save some money up front-- after all, why buy a super expensive Cavalier when you can get one that looks just as cute for much cheaper? The answer is there is much more to a Cavalier than cuteness, and you especially have to keep this in mind when you are looking at pictures of cute little puppies. These cheap puppies will end up costing you much more in the long run if you choose to properly diagnose and treat their inevitable problems. And if you choose not to treat them, chances are your Cavalier will not live a very long life!

Obesity: Cavaliers are known to gain weight very easily. You have to watch what your Cavalier is eating very carefully or he will become obese. Obesity often causes the health problems mentioned above to show up earlier and to get much worse than they would be if your Cavalier were in good shape. You have to decide whether you are prepared to keep your new puppy on his diet!

Keeping these things in mind will help you know whether this breed is right for you. In the end, is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel still a good choice as a family pet? You bet!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jealous but Patient

This is an excellent illustration of why the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is famous for having the best personality! How many dogs do you know that would sit patiently while a lowly cat eats their dog food?! A cavalier should never be aggressive, even in the face of such glaring insults! Perhaps Toby just recognizes that their roles are usually reversed: it is usually Toby sneaking bites of Gamera's cat food.

Speaking of pet food, our little menagerie happens to have a host of dietary restrictions. For example, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is notoriously prone to being overweight or obese, so to keep Toby's weight in check he needs a very high quality food. Gamera, being officially labeled "obese" by the vet and a victim of frequent urinary tract infections, needs a grain free food and lots of water. Sedgwick is sensitive to many kinds of food and will vomit if she is fed something that doesn't agree with her stomach. All three are fairly finicky eaters, too, so their food has to taste good. And of course we don't want to go broke feeding the animals.

With this whole list of requirements it has been quite an ordeal to find the perfect foods for each of them. Ideally, Gamera and Sedgwick should be able to eat the same kind of food, otherwise they steal each other's food and the whole point of their special diet is lost. Finally, after extensive searching and research, I have found a brand that they ALL like and that meets ALL their requirements: Taste of the Wild. rates Taste of the Wild dog food 6 stars - the highest possible rating. It is grain free, contains no meat byproducts, and has only fruits and vegetables that are appropriate and digestible (some of the healthy or tasty sounding ingredients in other foods actually don't serve any purpose because the animal can't digest them!). Most importantly, all the animals love it! Finally, it is cheaper than pretty much any premium dog or cat food I have found, especially ones advertised as grain free and containing premium meats.

The only downside is that Taste of the Wild is hard to find in stores unless you happen to live by a gourmet pet food boutique (which we do, but even that store doesn't carry Taste of the Wild). The solution I have found is to order from Amazon. It's actually a lot more convenient because the UPS guy carries the 50 pounds of food directly to my door, though I'm sure Toby would rather make a trip to a pet store and sample some gourmet dog treats. However, ordering this food online doesn't mean Toby has to go without treats. In fact, the first time I ordered Taste of the Wild online it arrived with a free sample of some star-shaped minty dog treat that was supposed to freshen Toby's bad dog breath. I'm not sure it worked at that (hey, let's not expect miracles!) but he enjoyed it. Since then there have always been free sample bags of cat treats included in our order, which Gamera and Sedgwick appreciate.

There are a few different flavors of dog food, but so far Toby has most enjoyed the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison.

As for the cats, there is only one flavor available, but they both really like it: Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Formula with Roasted Venison and Smoked Salmon.

Give it a try if your pet has dietary restrictions or is just plain picky when it comes to food.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall in Chicago

The leaves are starting to change color here in Chicago. Here I am, enjoying the view from my favorite window. It's my favorite because it is the perfect height to look right out and bark at cars, delivery trucks, dogs, joggers....

How many pictures are you going to take of me in front of this window?!

Here is the view of the runners in the Chicago marathon from our balcony. Looks like there's even a dog down there watching the race!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Free "I Love My Dog" Mug

...and on the topic of buying pet supplies online, Gamera told Toby that if you spend $50 at and use promo code "MUGSHOT" you get a free "I Love My Dog" coffee mug! Use Promotion Code "MUGSHOT" and get a free I Love My Dog mug. Order must be over $50.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winter Dog Accessories: Coat and Jacket Roundup

Casual Canine Base Camp Parkas - Green & Orange

Casual Canine Base Camp Parkas - Green & Orange

Price: was $17.99, on sale for $9.99

This dog coat seems like it would be perfect for Chicago winters: some days we get snow, some days wind, sleet, rain, well, you get the picture. This one looks warm, has a cute hood, and you can't beat the sale price! Comes in orange and green or blue and white. Lots of sizes, too.

Fido Fleece, Argyle, Size 8
Price: $15.35 - $34.85

Look at the colors on this one! And fleece would provide a lot of extra warmth for Toby and other Cavaliers who have silkier rather than more cottony coats.

Lil' Stinker Dog Costume

Lil' Stinker Dog Costume

Price: was $19.99, now on sale for $14.99

A Halloween costume! Ok, so this probably wouldn't keep Toby very warm, but it would be useful at warning people that he becomes a very smelly dog when he hasn't had a bath in awhile!

Casual Canine Pawprint Corduroy Coat

Casual Canine Pawprint Corduroy Coat
Price: $25.99

Toby is usually a pretty laid back guy, but this would be great for a designer pooch! The nice thing about this coat is the velcro belt, which makes it much easier to get the coat on at 6:30 in the morning before you've had your coffee!

Heartgard day!

Today is Heartgard Day! Once a month I get to eat the most delicious treat, and it is very good for me too. How could medicine be so delicious? Every dog knows that Heartgard "treats" are the most delicious treats of all. I only wish I could eat more than one!

The only problem with Heartgard is they are so gosh darn expensive! We got ours from our vets office, but looking online it seems that you can buy them MUCH more cheaply from stores like - we've used this store before for toys and harnesses, so we know they are legit! They require a prescription but it seems easy enough to enter the vet contact information so they can take care of all that. Best treats/meds ever, for the best price, and saving a trip to the vets office? I think we will try this next time!

12 MONTH Heartgard PLUS Blue for Dogs up to 25 lbs

12 MONTH Heartgard PLUS Blue for Dogs up to 25 lbs

Price: $42.99