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!