I have two dogs. Mason is the older and smarter of this oddball pair. And, though he is ill-suited to leadership, he has become the default pack leader because Hoover, while easy on the eyes and agreeable, is a bit too â€œuncomplicatedâ€ to be a leader of dogs. He is just smart enough to do whatever Mason tells him.
If these two were characters in a Hollywood film, it wouldnâ€™t be Lassie, The Call of the Wild, or even Lady and the Tramp. It would be the TV show Monk if that show were on the Canine Network. Mason would play Monk and Hoover would play his frustrated but enamored assistant. Like Monk, Mason is what the English would call an odd duck. He’s too smart to get along easily with other dogs and plagued by a host of obsessive compulsive tendencies.
For example, he is an obsessive cat groomer. He lays the cat (ours is willing, disturbingly willing) down and starts at the tail, cleaning the fur with his teeth till he gets to the head. Then he turns the cat over and cleans the belly. Itâ€™s an intimate act. And one that the cat enjoys so much that an offended mailman once rang my doorbell to tell me â€“ as he stood frozen in horrified fascination â€“ that I needed to make them â€œdo thatâ€ in private.
Okay, Iâ€™m a geek and those are my dogs. So we thought we should share some of the products and services we like — or intend to try. I asked Mason and Hoover to help me put together this geeky guide for dog lovers. It will help you survive the holidays, find something nice for the dog owners on your Christmas list, and — best of all! — it includes an awesome giveaway of that first item on my list.
Hoover has a thing for rabbits. So sometimes â€“ at night when the rabbits are frolicking — he forgets the world is dangerous and that heÂ doesn’tÂ do well in it without Mason. He sees a rabbit. And he runs. But once he is alone in the dark and the rabbit has escaped â€“ they usually do — he panics. Unfortunately his response to panic is to lie down and refuse to speak or move until one of his people comes for him. If he is deep in the woods, this requires a full-on dog hunt. But the TAGGÂ Pet Tracker is a GPS unit that clips to his collar. If heâ€™s wearing it, I can log on from any computer, Android device, or iPhone to locate him. Then I just go get him. It is also an activity tracker. SoÂ I can check up on the dogs when Iâ€™m at work and they are home. Are they sleeping all day? Running around the yard and staying fit? It helps me decide if I need to take a long walk after work. And if Hoover makes a rabbit run when no one is home, I get a text telling me he has left the perimeter.
I have two of these units to give away!Â So tell me a little about your dog in the comments. Iâ€™ll pick a winner before Christmas so a lucky two of you can put one of these under the tree for your pup.
There is very little that either Mason or Hoover like more than a good meal. Kibble? Meh. They like it about as much as my daughter likes a Vegan hot dog. I’m the sort of indulgent parent that likes to feed my pets well. So I was intrigued to try thisÂ re hydratedÂ food from The Honest Kitchen. It’s just real, human-grade food with the water removed. You soak it to put the water back in and serve. It smelled good to me. And my dogs prefer it to kibble. I knew they would, of course. They only eat kibble if they are very hungry and I’m not offering anything better. At least this isn’t my teenagers’ leftover Halloween candy.
Mason is the kind of dog who would wear a jacket well. And it gets cold here in the winter. I have talked for years about getting him a security guard jacket â€“ like the ones FBI agents always wear in TV shows â€“ because he leads my security team. But I think I will make him wear an ugly Christmas sweater this year. Â I picked out a few cute ones â€“ along with many other awesome Holiday items â€“ and organized it all in my Springpad notebook Nesting Wish List. Check it out. (And check back here for another giveaway related to that this week. Do you get my newsletter?)
Mason is obsessed with the dog section at Fab.com. Every day there is some new temptation. Fleece boots? Hoover would be so sexy in those. And I know these toys would instantly start a fight. Why do they always package dog toys in threes? Don’t they know I have to be fair?
One thing about having two dogs? Without an indigent relative who is always willing to house sit (I have one of those) going away would be expensiveâ€¦or impossible. Traveling with my dogs is impossible in most cases. In fact, according to the APPA’sÂ 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 75% of dog ownersÂ donâ€™t takeÂ their pet with them when they travel.Â And a survey from TripAdvisor shows that over 6 million dog owners don’t travel because of their pet and 21% of those who do travel with their pet admit to having smuggled their pet into a hotel room.
Thatâ€™s why the folks behind DogVacay got in the game. This site is like FlipKey for dog sitters. You log on and locate someone nearby who is willing to take care of your pet â€“ in their home â€“ while you are away. (If you love dogs, this might also be a fun way to make a little extra money.) The folks at DogVacay.com have already vetted the pet sitters who are listed. So you have only to determine if your dog would get along in that home and if you are willing to pay that price. Your dog stays with a family, not in a kennel. And you probably save money.
Here’s a video that explains how it works:
Barkbox.com is like a wine club for dogs. I know Iâ€™m thrilled when my box of wine shows up every few months, Iâ€™m sure Mason and Hoover would love to get a surprise box of treats, leashes, gadgets, or toys every month, too. And IÂ wouldn’tÂ have to go to the pet store with my daughter, which often leads to new pets. At BarkBox.com you sign up for a monthly surprise box â€“ choosing how much you want to spend on this sort of indulgence â€“ and the box turns up automatically until you cancel. Mason is lobbying for this. But I’m still thinking about it.
Don’t forget to tell me about your dogs in the comments to throw your name in for the Tagg giveaway!