My normal "MO" on my website is to talk about animal welfare advocacy issues. I'm taking a break from that today to talk about a lighter topic, but one which may benefit some people. It's my Top Six list of must-have products for dog lovers. Some of the products are of more help with older dogs and some products are also great for cat lovers (I mean no offense to my "cat people" out there.) I'm sharing these items in no particular order.
Champion K-9 Seat Belt System. We have all seen it. People driving with dogs in their laps, in the beds of pick-up trucks or laying on the rear deck of a car behind the passenger seats. When you travel with your dog, even for short distances, you owe it to your dog to have him or her restrained. You would not travel in your vehicle without having your human child restrained. For me, dogs are no different in terms of safety concerns. You can be the best driver on the planet and that does not protect your dog if some other driver hits you, making your dog a projectile. There are a variety of vehicle safety restraint systems for dogs available on the market. I prefer the Champion System because it is comfortable for the dog and because it is incredibly sturdy. It looks like something made for NASCAR but I take comfort in that. This system is intended for medium and large sized dogs. If your dog is smaller, you will still be able to find something appropriate for his or her size in a different design. Do not let your failure to properly restrain your dog result in tragedy which will not only change your life forever, but will have been preventable.
Foster and Smith Quilted Super Deluxe Dog Bed. We've had a lot of dog beds over the years and there are multiple beds in our house at any given time. Probably the best money we ever spent on a bed was on an orthopedic bed we got for Snake years ago after our vet told us Snake's days were numbered due to degenerative issues with her spine. After looking around at a variety of orthopedic beds, I chose one made by Foster and Smith. Rich joked that it was large enough for a small child and he was right. But it lasted not only through Snakey's lifetime but also through Aspy's lifetime. We have had this particular dog bed for about 13 years and it is still going strong. Because the covers are washed in the dryer, they do tend to fade over time. The bed itself is still in wonderful shape and in spite of faded covers, the zippers never failed and we would be able to use the bed with another dog today. While this bed has retained its quality, some other beds we bought along the way did not. It is really worth the money for a dog of any age and most definitely for a senior dog who may have issues with arthritis.
Woodrow Wear Dog Socks. When we moved to a new house a few years back, I was worried about the hardwood floors. Aspy was getting older and I knew he would have traction issues. He did. We ended up with a host of skid-resistant rugs in different rooms to help him navigate more easily. It was just this year that I did research on skid-resistant socks to help him with mobility. We tried a number of brands. Some did not fit. Some did not allow his feet to "breathe." It was only when we got some test pairs of Power Paws Socks from Woodrow Wear that we found a really good product. The socks come in a variety of sizes and designs and they have a non-skid pawprint pattern on the bottom of each sock. Socks come in sets of four. We ended up only putting socks on our dog's rear feet since those were his pushing feet. It took him a few minutes to get used to the idea but he adapted quickly. He did fairly well on his own during the day due to rug placement, but we put his socks on each night as part of our bedtime rituals. The socks fit much like a human tube sock - they are designed to be snug so they don't rotate or fall off - and you toss them in the wash with the rest of your laundry.
Joint Max Triple Strength Soft Chews. All dogs develop issues with mobility in their later years. When we saw that our dog was slowing down a bit, we talked to our vet about using supplements to help him feel better and without having to rely on a prescription. She recommended a supplement with both glucosaimine and chondrotin. After comparing labels on a number of brands and reading reviews, we tried a soft chew made by Joint Max and never regretted it. Our dog got two chews a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. He loved those things. They look and smell like a treat but with a wonderful list of ingredients to help his joints and connective tissue. You can get this brand through a variety of retailers. We tended to use Entirely Pets because of good service, low shipping costs and coupons.
Shelter Pups (and cats). I first learned about Shelter Pets thanks to my ties to the families of Harley Taylor (the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog) and his faithful sidekick, Teddy Burchfield. Shelter Pups sells handmade dog and cat stuffed animals, both ready-made (so you can choose the animal to "rescue") or made for you using images of your beloved pet. I admit that I first looked into this company to have stuffed animals made from images of our own dogs, thinking it was just a specialty company. When I learned that the mission of this company is to raise awareness and help real shelter animals, well, I was hooked. I invite you to visit the Shelter Pups website to learn how this all started with a little girl named Theodora who wanted a stuffed toy which looked like the shelter dogs she loved and while working to help dogs at her local animal shelter. The images here of our dogs simply do not do justice to these creations. They look so much like our dogs that seeing them for the first time took my breath away. And it's nice to have them at home to see every day.
Perpetua DNA Life Jewels. I am not a big jewelry person. I wear one of a host of necklaces I own which have sentimental value to me. One carries a locket which holds images on my parents and our dogs. Another carries charms engraved with the names of our dogs. A few months ago, I heard about a special product you can have made using DNA, either human or animal and I was intrigued. I thought it might just be a rip-off or a scam. I mean, really, how can a company take DNA and use it to make jewelry or other items? I did some homework and you can now call me a believer. Perpetua Life Jewels was the inspired idea of a veterinarian who wanted to memorialize her lost dog using DNA. There are a host of products available on the website and there is a video which shows how the process works. Rich gifted me a Duet Life Jewel necklace which includes the DNA of both of our dogs. Aspy was still alive when he had it made. Now that he is gone, the necklace is all the more precious to me. I cannot touch our dogs or see them, but I can feel closer to them every time I wear my DNA necklace, as I am today.
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson