kinds of drugs and its side effects

How to Make a Dog Toy Out of a Cat Toy

Frankie is a picky dog.

He is picky about food, both what he eats and where he eats it; he won’t touch anything outside the house. Since he is diabetic and he needs a full stomach in order to get his insulin, this can require some special planning.

He is also picky about his companions. He will tolerate dogs on the trail who do not attempt to interact with him, but doesn’t permit them in “his” backyard or house without a great deal of vocalizing. It’s the same with humans. He has chosen the one he wants — me — and the rest are pretty much filler.

And he is very, very picky about his toys.

Frankie’s first favorite squeaky toy

Early on in my relationship with Frankie, I discovered Dr. Noyes plush squeaky toys, wondrous playthings with Velcro openings and replaceable squeakers.  Frankie selected one toy in particular on which to lavish his affections: A squeaky chile.

As I discovered after several months of intensive use, the squeakers could be replaced but the plush material could not. To my dismay, when I went to buy a new chile, I discovered that the toy had been taken off the market!

I tried to tempt Frankie with a variety of small Dr. Noyes dog toys:

No go. He scoffed at them all.

I am not known for my skill with needle and thread, but my friend Rebecca — a.k.a. Frankie’s rescuer — is not similarly sewing challenged. Knowing my desperate plight, she repaired Frankie’s chile for Christmas:

She did a wonderful job but, as with the original chile, time took its toll. A small plush toy can only be mended so many times.

A wonderful discovery

You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. Frankie needed a squeaky toy. He needed it bad.

One day, while I was browsing the aisles of my favorite feed/pet supply store, I realized that Dr. Noyes — by then a division of Kong — made a toy of a similar size and shape to the squeaky chile: The catnip carrot, pictured at the top of the post. It just happened to be designed for a different species.

I thought that, since it featured the same Velcro seal and interchangeable innards, I could adapt the toy for his Frankieness.

The experiment was such a huge success, I thought I would share the process with you. You never know when you’ll have a squeaky toy emergency.

How to Make a Dog Toy Out of a Cat Toy

Step 1

Set aside the container of catnip, pictured to the right of the carrot; reserve for a deserving cat.

Step 2

Pluck the feathers from the carrot:

This process is so easy it makes me wonder how many feathers decorate the couches of cat owners who purchase this toy. It also occurred to me that this situation was  begging for a practical joke involving a canary, but I decided to grow up and just discard the feathers.

Step 3

Insert squeaker.

Step 3a

Curse when you realize you don’t have a squeaker.

Crap. I thought I had several small squeakers available. Each Kong dog toy comes with an extra. Read More »

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Pet Insurance: What’s Right For You?

Dog poised to eat his own pet insurance policy

As nutty as I can get when it comes to berating myself for the things I should have done with Frankie, there’s only one thing I regret with any rationality: Not getting pet insurance for him.

So every now and then, as a public service announcement — usually after I come back from my vet — I dedicate a post to the topic.

Why Pet Insurance?

It’s against the law not to have car insurance and I wouldn’t dream of not having health insurance for myself, though I scream and curse at the insurers and their rising premiums and restrictions.

I also have homeowner’s insurance, which I’m sorry to report I’ve had to use because of break ins.

And yet…the idea of insuring my most precious possession, Frankie, was not on my radar. In my defense, it wasn’t really part of the conversation about dogs seven years ago when I adopted him. By the time I became aware that pet insurance existed and was a good thing,  Frankie was too old to get the most useful kind, and he was already diabetic. Talk about preexisting conditions. Read More »

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Hooray for HollyWOOF! A Contest

BlogPaws, the big deal annual pet blogger’s conference, starts this afternoon. I’m not going this year, though I wish I could for many reasons:

  • The camaraderie
  • The professional development
  • The networking
  • The cute pets
  • The swag

That’s right. I’ll admit it. I love the swag.

Toys, T-shirts, pet food samples, cleaning products… if it’s fun and/or functional and pet related, you’ll find it there.

Even when the goodies I got at the last two conferences weren’t Frankie appropriate, I could give them to my local shelter and know that I was providing quality products.

Hollywoof to the Rescue!

So for all of you who can’t make it to BlogPaws this year — and to all who never heard of the conference but now feel bad since I told you just how cool it is — I have a giveaway that I saved up just for this occasion.

And it’s a good one.

Squeeki Tiki

The nice folks over at Distinctive Assets put together and delivered HollyWOOF: the A-List Doggie Gift Bag, described as “an eclectic and fabulous gift assortment for those stars who love to shop with, tweet about, Facebook and fawn all over their pups.” These stars include Tori Spelling, Alicia Silverstone, Miley Cyrus, Kristen Bell, Betty White, Charlize Theron, Paris Hilton, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Rachael Ray, Oprah Winfrey, Kathy Griffin, Katherine Heigl, Blake Lively, Denise Richards, Mario Lopez, Fergie, Kelly Osbourne, Olivia Wilde, Justin Timberlake and Chelsea Handler.

But, you may be saying to yourself, these people can afford to buy their own dog goodies, can’t they?

Exactly! So if you’re not movie star rich, I imagine you’ll appreciate them even more.

The Goodies

Here’s what I’ve got for you:

  • The Cocojor carrier pictured above. It’s pink and it’s in a small size — I’d wager for less than 10 pounds, and probably best for a toy breed.

Two Squeeki Tikis, one large blue one and one small pink one, and a red Dogbon, all among the new Petprojekt dog toys that will be featured in Dimension’s upcoming Piranha 3DD movie in November. I have to admit I wanted the small Squeeki Tiki for Frankie but he was totally uninterested in it (which means he didn’t slobber on it, though I would wager a toy kissed by Frankie would be worth a lot).

  • An assortment of Pet Head products: The Oatmeal & Honey Conditioning Crème Rinse, Furball Strawberry Yoghurt Detangling Spray, and Pretty Kitty Orange Burst Shed Control Cat Wipes (hooray for HollyMEOW!). Gratuitous aside: Oddly, the dog product instructions and ingredients are all listed in French as well as English, while the cat product is English. I would have thought that cats would be more pretentious than dogs, wouldn’t you?.

I kept the oatmeal shampoo, even though it was “deodorisant” and Frankie doesn’t smell.

The Rules

Just tell me in the comments section, below, why your pet is a star and deserves to get all this pet swag. That’s it. I’ll choose the winner by

I’m paying to mail the prizes and those Pet Head products are heavy so, sorry my Canadian friends, I can only afford to send them to U.S. residents.

But if it makes you feel better, this year’s BlogPaws attendees are not eligible to enter either. They’ve got plenty of swag already. Sure they can try and I may not find out, but it’s bad pet karma.

This contest will run from midnight August 25th to midnight August 28th EST — by coincidence, the days of a certain conference.

May the pet star of your heart win!

UPDATE: And the winner, chosen by, is…. #3, Kim McMunn, whose mom has a double-skunked rescued Yorkie!  Congrats, Kim!

I am so glad that chose for me… there were so many worthy entries! And if I were awarding on literary references, I’d have to go for Denise Herman’s dog Pi, who “is like Ms Havisham and wants to sit at home, slightly bitter thinking about when she was younger and free wheeling.” I don’t know what Charles Dickens would think, but I love me a literary chihuahua.

Erin, I don’t think “bladder stoner” is a medical term, but I love it — I have an image of your dog with a bladder-shaped water pipe, getting high… I’ll be blogging about Frankie’s new insulin regimen soon but basically he’s doing fine.

And Chris, I love the description of your doxies’ “little fat frito feet.”  Your blog is a hoot.

It was a joy to read all the comments. Thank you all for participating — your dogs ARE superstars!

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It’s a Throw! It’s for Dogs! It’s Crypton Super Fabric!

Pee on, Frankie!

I’ve been a little down lately, what with my book going into a coma and my renewed need to keep an eye on Frankie’s diabetes medication. And — occupational hazard — I don’t have any extra money to spend on cheering self-indulgences.

It’s true that, as a food writer, I often get free food, but every diet book in the universe cautions you against using food as a mood elevator.  It’s also true that, as a pet blogger, I get a lot of offers to review pet products, but they’re usually items geared towards making Frankie happy, like food or toys, or they are deodorant shampoos  and cleaning supplies designed to make it easier to co-exist with a stinky dog. Even if Frankie were malodorous and dirty — he’s not! — these products wouldn’t bring me joy.

But my self-pity party was interrupted by an email last week asking if I was interested in checking out the Throver by Crypton — a super stylish pet throw that “looks like a blanket and acts like a tarp.”

Oh, joy!

Coveting Crypton

Ever since I wrote the “Better Dog Homes and Gardens” chapter of AM I BORING MY DOG and discovered there was an ultra dirt- — and bodily function- — resistant fabric that was also great looking, I began coveting it. Also, the company that created it was ahead of the curve, gearing their products to pet people back in 2004 when Crypton commissioned William Wegman, pet photographer and artist extraordinaire — he’s known especially for his soulful Weimeraner images — to create some fabric designs for them.

Sadly, the Crypton line was a bit beyond my budget.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got an offer of a freebie. Being pushy, I not only said I’d love a Throver but that one with a William Wegman design would make me very happy.

No problem.

Where will I put it?

I considered giving the Throver a home in my car but, when it arrived, it was not only as great looking as I’d hoped, but it was also a turquoise, brown, and beige pattern that matched my living room perfectly.

It kind of matched Frankie, too.

Frankie doesn’t generally pee inside the house, but there was one rug that seemed to invite him to lift his leg on it. I finally just got rid of it and got a cheap washable shag rug as a substitute. Frankie peed on that too — just once, but it made me think it was the location in front of the fireplace that inspired him to express himself, putting out an imaginary conflagration with real pee.

Anyway, I substituted the Throver for the ugly shag rug and, as you can see from the picture. Frankie is as snug as a bug on it.

Okay Mr. Innocent, go ahead and do your worst. I dare you!

Disclosure, disclaimers

As you will have surmised, but in case there’s any doubt, I got this product for free. No one paid me to say nice things about it, however, or to take cute pictures of Frankie on it.

I’m not giving it away in a contest. It’s mine. You can’t have it. If you want one, you’ll have to buy your own, for $99.

It’s worth every penny. It’s reversible. Machine washable. And you can use it as a yoga mat. Your dog won’t mind if you borrow it.

Check out the other Crypton products too, while you’re at the site. If you dare. Now I think I need the matching Gameboard Messmat...



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Wordless Wednesday: Thundershirt Edition

We should all buy stock in the Thundershirt company, if it ever goes public. My friends Rod and Amy Burkert at just finished a Thundershirt giveaway contest — sorry, they have a winner — that elicited raves about the product.  Caleb, pictured here, and his person, Jillian, swear by it too as a cure for separation anxiety.

Caleb and Frankie live opposite lives. Whenever we see them on the trail, Caleb is outgoing and lively, Frankie timid and retiring.  But Caleb gets stressed when he’s left behind at home, to the point that he needs a calming shirt, while Frankie is perfectly fine with my comings and goings, though he clearly prefers the former.

This is where I know I’m supposed to say something sage about books and their covers or animal behavior… but I’m not sure what this signifies. I’ll leave you instead with one of my favorite Brooklynisms: Go figure.


Have you voted for me for Funniest Blogger on DogTimes Petties site yet — or yet today? Why not? The dogs and cats of the Southern Arizona Humane Society, to whom I will donate the $1000 if I win, are depending on you. (Yes, you’ve stepped outside the boundaries of the guilt-free zone here.)

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Dog Food a Restaurant Critic Can Love

You’ve heard the mantra: Don’t feed your dog table scraps. It’s been drummed into our heads so incessantly — gee, I wonder if the commercial dog food industry could have anything to do with that? — that I often come across people who apologize for feeding their dogs perfectly healthy food just because it doesn’t come in pellet form or out of a can.

It’s true that leftovers of fast food and sweets are not good for your dog. But they’re not good for you, either.

Which brings me to Craig Zeleznik, who has raised people food for dogs to an art form with his Chef K9’s Doggy Bistro & Bakery. Zeleznik is featured on this week’s Animal Cafe podcast interview with Mary Haight.

I know food

In my other life — the one where I’m not writing about dogs — I write about food and drink. I’m the Contributing Dining Editor for Tucson Guide, the Tucson editor for the Zagat survey, and have written food stories for Sunset magazine and National Geographic Traveler, among other publications.

So when I say that Zeleznik’s creations sound yummy (that’s a technical term), I speak as a professional.

Taste testing and aesthetics

Zeleznik, a chef with a background in nutrition and fitness, uses ingredients like hormone-free baked chicken breast, pearl barley, and steamed broccoli in his creations, so it’s no surprise that he samples the food that he and his staff make for their canine clients.

The gorgeous presentations are for the owners of course. Dogs couldn’t care less about aesthetics, although I have known Frankie to toss items of food he doesn’t like over the side of his bowl onto the floor, so I suppose he wouldn’t mind the separation of ingredients into distinct sections for pitching convenience.

The philosophy

There’s nothing to argue with Zeleznik about when it comes to the evils of the commercial dog food industry, which is one of the many topics he discusses with Mary Haight. I’m interested to learn more about the rationale behind the breed-specific diets he creates. What about mixed breeds? Yes, every dog is an individual, just as every human is, but it would seem to me that weight and activity level would be far greater factors in determining what a dog should eat than genes.

So that’s what I plan to ask Zeleznik about at this week’s chat. Check out the podcast here and then come to the Chat Cafe on Wednesday, May 25th, at 9PM EST to ask the chef your own questions. Or just tell to him that his food looks awesome.


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Dog Poop Disposal: The Contest

Eating dog poop is not good for you.

Sure, dogs dine on their own doo  without ill effect — if you don’t count the screwed up faces and loud EEEEWs of their owners — but we humans don’t have the same feces-digesting ability.

Or inclination. I would never eat poop, you protest.

Not deliberately. But as I wrote in The Dog Poop Chronicles: A Tale of Personal Growth and Waste Disposal, our careless habits cause a great deal of dog detritus to end up in our water — and thus our food supply.


What to do? The more I researched the issue, the more I realized that plastic bags of dog crap that end up in landfills only create more problems. Water soluble — not just slowly biodegradable — bags that can be flushed down a toilet or other conduit* to the sewer system are the only real solution. Read More »

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The Best Dog To Give As a Holiday Gift

It might end up in the trash; I can see where it would get annoying after a while. It will never end up in a shelter.

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And the winner of the World’s Cutest Pet Carrier is…

Min Pin and Kitty (and kind of scary curtains); image from Wikimedia Commons

First off, it’s been lovely to have so much interspecies interaction. I don’t usually get many cat owners coming by and they were surprisingly nice.

Just kidding. Some of my best friends are cat people.

But a cat didn’t win. decided that the winner of the Mommy Bus contest was #24, Phyllis, who wanted the carrier for a Biewer named Gio. I have to admit I’d never heard of Biewers before, but now I know they’re related to Yorkshire terriers.  And awfully darned cute. I’m very glad Gio will be out of your lap from now on, Phyllis, and safe in the back seat.

So congratulations! I hope you’ll send a picture of Gio in her Mommy Bus.  And tell us where the name Gio comes from and tell us whether we’re talking about a he or a she.

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Ooh, soothing – free! – dog music

‘Tis the season to be…frazzled. And if your dog is anything like Frankie, he will follow you around the house as you bustle about, getting underfoot, raising the frazzle factor fourfold.

What you both need is something to help you chill. And alcohol isn’t a good idea for either of you (well, you can drink later, but no tippling during the day if you’re trying to get stuff done.)

A far better bet: This week’s free Through A Dog’s Ear 7-day music download: A different classical music performance designed to soothe your dog — and you — every day. Think about it: Spending a few minutes at your computer downloading classical music will force you to take a breather, and not having to spend money on it is a de-stresser in itself.

The site also details a contest that will help provide CDs to your favorite shelter. Doing good is notoriously soothing too. In fact, I feel better  just sharing this gift that’s available to everyone (and that means you, Georgia Little Pea, down under).

As for the effect on your pup when you put it on your preferred music player…well, I’ll let this personal testimonial from Wrigley the blogging dog speak for me.

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