Product Review: Outward Hound Fun Feeder

Anyone know of any pet speed-eating contests? One of my fourteen year old cats would be a shoe-in. Josie Junebug has learned from the best. In an open bowl, she can finish her meal in under thirty seconds.

Being a big-chested broad, I’m mindful to watch for bloat. Some dogs regurgitate after eating too fast. I’m hoping that slowing her feeding might decrease her silent-but-wicked gas. When she settles down for the night, she looks like someone sold us a basket of deer legs for a pet; yet her adorableness is interrupted by her un-lady-like flatulence.

The first slow feeder I bought was OK, but there were two main problems. First of all, despite the rubber no-skid feet, it slid all over the room during the eating process. Secondly, the dimensions given apparently described the footprint of the bowl and not the interior feeding capacity. It barely held two cups, though the product description stated that it held five. 

The Outward Hound Fun Feeder is working much better. Presumably because of the flatter design, it stays put during use. Also, it easily contains her three cup meal portions. The puzzle walls deflect food back out of the bowl if you haphazardly dump kibble in as you would a traditional bowl; more careful and slower pouring is required to avoid spillage. An obvious side benefit is the colorful cute design. At $10, I consider it a solid investment in her health and a successful enrichment device.

Thankfully, she has not yet learned to dump it like the dog in this review. I attribute it to her youthful naivety since she’s generally a pretty bright girl.

This feeder has slowed feeding time from around thirty seconds to closer to seven minutes.  video here

When you eat, know that you are eating.
When you eat, know that you are eating.

Maybe I should buy something similar for myself to encourage slower and more mindful eating.

Leave a comment: do you eat like a ravenous wild dog, or have you mastered the trick of civilized self-feeding?

 

The Gift of a Renewed Habit

Reclaiming a healthy routine seemed impossible to do for myself, but when a beautiful brown-eyed girl entered our lives, it became effortless.

Before my daughter was born, I woke up 45 minutes earlier than I needed to every morning for the sake of self-development. I would be sure each day started with a positive thought of intention, read something spiritual or personally progressive, and end with a set of simple calisthenics. Every self-improvement guru will advise you to do this. So will this anal-retentive blog author.

Unfortunately, once the sleepless nights of motherdom hit seven and a half years ago, I fell out of this habit and never managed to restart it. As a matter of fact, the stresses of long-term joblessness in my household and the addition of a scrappy son have, for years, dunked me continuously under the waters of chaos. I can honestly say that the loss of this one clarifying habit has, for me, been the main contributor to a chronic sense of “not having a handle on things.”

predawn
Stepping into the predawn, starting the day with a breath of fresh air. (Thankfully, she doesn’t poop until later.)

This habit gently resurfaced in my life a couple of months ago, and it should be no surprise to the reader that I owe it to the adoption of Josie Junebug (Greatest dog in the world). You see, I felt guilty that, after spending all night in her crate (to insure she didn’t chew up the entire downstairs whilst we slept), she got only a short reprieve before returning to her crate while we were at work and school.

The Monday after Thanksgiving break, my alarm rang half an hour earlier than usual. What had seemed insurmountable for years suddenly just happened. Since that day, and every work day since, after showering and dressing, I liberate her from the evil crate (her sentiments, not mine) and am rewarded with grateful adoration displayed via entire rear-body wags.

Friedrich Nietzsche picture quotes - He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. - Inspirational quotes
Reclaiming a healthy routine seemed impossible to do for myself, but when a beautiful brown-eyed girl entered our lives, it became effortless.

I drink my coffee while it’s hot, not having to set it aside to pour chocolate milk, or cut up an apple. In 15 minutes, I am able to read more of C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity than I could accomplish in hours while wearing the Mommy Hat. I put away the clean dishes, accomplishing something before I even leave the house.

In the stillness of predawn, my dog and I peacefully step into the day together.

 

Leave a comment: What good habit has your pet (or loved one) inspired?

 

 

Bedtime Routine

Bedtime for Junebug

This dog has her routine, and she thrives on it. Like Peter Pan’s Nana, our girl makes sure the kids are tucked into bed with love. Of course, the lights don’t go out until each young one has his or her favorite toy and a cuddly blanket. My son is the most trouble, getting out of bed to fetch a truck, or talking to his sister. However, Josie is also known to stir up some mischief, the usual conflict being that she considers her half of the bed to be the middle half.

nana
Disney’s Peter Pan, 1953

Please tell me we’re not the only ones whose bedtime resembles cat herding. If you’ve just successfully tucked away your progeny and pets, pour a tall glass of wine and enjoy this awesome oldie but goodie:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8

 

Haiku on Our Street

My friend called during our New Year’s Eve revelries to let me know I was the winner of the haiku contest at our local Hippie Hot Spot. If you don’t have such a place, you need to go find one, right after you finish this post. The Irvington Wellness Center quickly became one of our favorite places to visit when we moved to the East side.

The truly funny thing is that, when my husband and I were looking to buy our first house, we told our realtor, “We don’t have a strong preference for any particular part of town–as long as it’s not on the East side!” Lucky for us, my awesome friend (same who called above) was born and bred on the East side and changed my tune. Turns out, our perceptions of “the East side” really referred to a few rough neighborhoods smattered around. One problem I’ve made my peace with: when you choose big city living, “good” and “sketchy” neighborhoods can be pretty closely interspersed until you get waay out into some named City Suburbs. But don’t get me started on urban sprawl–that’s another day’s rant.

Back to topic: this is the first time in my life, including growing up in a smaller town (pop 60K) that I’ve really enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a neighborhood. We don’t technically live in Irvington, but since we’re a five minute drive to the main drag (counting the ridiculously long traffic light at the end of our street), I claim it.

What’s so great about it? Well, aside from living the childhood dream of that Sesame Street experience, here’s a few reasons: ironically, as part of a community, you become more of an individual. People recognize you, even if they don’t know you. Also, maybe this is just me, but there’s a sense of responsibility for your community. You see trash on your street? You pick it up.

The kids feel like celebrities when we walk down the street on a nice day and run into people we know. Seriously, I’m not really a chatter, but we stopped for forty minutes one day to talk with a lady from our church. The day the kids and I went to drop off my haiku, we ran into my friend (same friend, but I swear I do have more than one) in the parking lot. Library story time means that now we wave to Mr. Joe every time we visit. We have a communal sense of “our” pizza place,  “our” brewery, “our” gift shop, “our” wellness center.

Simply said, it’s awesome.

Anyway, what the heck does any of this have to do with Josie Junebug, world’s best dog? Well, thanks for hanging in there with me. My winning haiku was about her. Enjoy.

irv tree
Holiday tree with handmade ornaments at Irvington Wellness Center. Kids made bird feeder pine cones after Kid Yoga last week.

 

New Puppy

Babe with four foot reach

and wood chipper for a mouth

Dear Lord, help us all!

 

 

Do you write haiku?

Please leave one in the comments.

Are people out there?

Jedi and Junebugs

Josie Junebug has yet to be exposed to any Star Wars. Still, she’s not going to be a natural fan. “Why,” you ask? “Blasphemy” you declare! “But she’s otherwise the world’s best dog,” you lament. Let me explain; if Miss JJ knew about the impending Episode Seven release, she would not be amused because it means her family will abandon her for several hours in order to go sit in the dark and remark about how wonderful something else is. Though it gives her no reprieve from kennel time, I dedicate this Star Wars themed post, in which I analyze what characters our family would be, to her.

Starting in no particular order, my son would be R2D2, and not just because he’s the smallest. He has a good heart but is notoriously spunky and stubborn. For a long while, what he said could only be interpreted by his sister. As with most toddlers, communications relied heavily on gestures, using Force empathy, and attempting random solutions.

Master of human/cyborg (toddler) relations, my daughter probably wouldn’t be flattered by the comparison but she would be C-3PO. She constantly has to corral her brother, who antagonizes her endlessly but comes off adorable to the audience. 3PO’s physical build reflects her figurative heart of gold. Being a first born protocol droid, she is always anxious to do the right thing.

My husband is Obi-Wan. He is the oldest of us all (though not white-headed yet), a good negotiator, and the most emotionally stable one of the bunch. His serene wisdom guides us through the chaotic energies the rest of us unleash as we slide the warp drive accelerator into uncharted systems, expressing our zeal for life.

I was surprised to discover that my Star Wars alter-ego is Han Solo. We’re both cocky wisecrackers with adventurous spirits  who aren’t afraid to shoot first. Also, both of us think the best place to do business is a trendy local pub

Josie Junebug would be Chewbacca. Obviously,  they’re both covered in fur and roughly the same color. Their big size intimidates people, though they’re just teddy bears. Communicating with humans can be a challenge, but they’re loyal and always seem able to intuit what we need.

The cats are jawas. They have glowing eyes, no one understands them, and when they grace us with their presence, its for no apparent reason other than to be mysteriously adorable.

Knock knock

Who’s There?

Art

Art who?

R2D2, May the Force be With you

* Fun fact, one of the names we considered for our new dog was Jedi!

Leave a comment about what Star Wars character you would be and why.

Dear Santa, From Josie

When we said the new dog bounds through the backyard like a deer, Grandma couldn't resist buying Josie her own festive antlers.
When we said the new dog bounds through the backyard like a deer, Grandma couldn’t resist buying Josie her own festive antlers.

This article was originally written as a professional article for my LinkedIn profile:

As part of our family, many of us include our pets in our Holiday Gift-Giving. I had to run to Pet Smart on Black Friday to exchange a collar for our new dog, and the long lines at every checkout seem to confirm that getting Rover a giant rawhide is as important as Grandma’s new crockpot. Depending on what poll you cite, up to 95% of pet owners say they buy presents for their dog or cat.

Getting a gift for your pet may mean a special trip to the pet store, or a toss-in item to your cart at Target or Amazon. If you’re looking for something that’s just right, here are some suggestions from the Environmental Enrichment Coordinator:

K9 Ballistics Crate & Kennel Bed: Saying anything is “chew proof” is just begging to be disproved. However, these beds have excellent customer ratings. For those with dogs determined to be epic chewers, the company seems to stand strong behind its 90 day guarantee. They’re a bit pricey, but surely worth it if you’ve finally found the bed your dog won’t chew through; also, shipping is free.

http://k9ballistics.com/index.php/crate-kennel-beds.html

Freedom Tails Handmade Collars and Leashes: For those seeking to give gifts with a higher purpose, this may be the solution for you. Inmates at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Washington State create leather collars and leashes that can be custom-embossed with a pet’s name.

Thanks to The Bark for sniffing out this terrific opportunity in their article found at http://thebark.com/content/gifts-give-back : “Proceeds support Freedom Tails, a program where offenders train shelter dogs to make them more viable for adoption. The dogs get a second chance at a life in a loving home, and the offenders receive a renewed sense of purpose. Contact dennis.cherry@doc.wa.gov or baushaus@coastaccess.com for pricing and information. Collars start at $15, leashes start at $20.”

Bark Box: If you’re searching to spoil your dog with a gift that gives year-round, go no further than the Bark Box. This delivered-to-your-door subscription service will surprise you and your canine companion with “4-5 healthy treats and pawsome playthings, plus one extra bow-wow worthy premium toy.” Savvy Google searchers may be able to score a promo code to save a little dough.

https://barkbox.com/

My personal favorites: In my role at the University, I’ve discovered Otto Environmental as a great source for every species, from mice to elephants. (No, I don’t shop for elephants; I’m just saying—they got it.) I send in an order through work, and when I find things I like, I order for my own pets. I can personally attest to the fun and durability of the Crackle Ball and Fire Hose Squeak N Fetch. The Tunnel-O-Fun was both adorable and loved by our pet mice. Finally Kookamunga Catnip Bubbles are an awesome way to bond with your cat.

https://www.ottoenvironmental.com/wishlist/70eb2950-943c-4f74-a999-00967fd4ad60

Introducing Josie Junebug, World’s Best Dog

Plans for adding a dog to our family tentatively began when we bought our first home about a year ago. We’d always talked about having a dog eventually, and of course the kids wanted one. That big fenced in back yard almost should have come with a dog.

I figured it was only a matter of time, though I still dragged my feet. I already work full time, have two small children, my husband works weekends, and whatever “free” time I can seize is spent trying to accomplish anything that will allow me to legitimately stamp “author” on my tombstone. I had no illusions that anyone other than me would order dog food, put heart worm prevention reminders on the calendar, give baths, trim nails, scoop poop out of the yard, and so on.

I think what really fueled our timing was that my daughter had to switch schools this year, and it was incredibly tough on her. Her old school was too far for us to commute now, and though she qualified to attend their school for the gifted, it turns out, they were not that gifted at helping a struggling pre-reader with dyslexia. Leaving the only non-kin social group you have ever known is not easy; it was less so that her new school was a bit…rough around the edges. I thought that it might be curative for her to have a dog to come home to every day.

I spent a few months investigating various local breed rescues. There are certain breeds I am quite fond of (Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, Shiba Inu, Doodles), and yet, I knew there was no way I was going to pay a breeder for a purebred puppy. I ran into some surprising dead ends.

“Will not place a dog in a home with a child under the age of 6.”

“We cannot adopt…where there is a child under the age of 5 in the house.”

Ok then…So, I took an online personality quiz at PawsLikeMe.com and matched with two local dogs. I emailed them to my husband, and he took the same quiz. We shared a match! We drove across town in the season’s first snow to meet her at Misty Eyes Rescue, and our application was approved.

On one hand, as a veterinary technician, I have been thinking of all the things that can go wrong: separation anxiety, aggression, expensive medical conditions. My reservations have kept us from having a dog for years.

Though still a tiny bit nervous, I’m now excited to bring her home. I have always pictured a dog in my “ideal life,” and part of me can’t believe I’ve waited so long. Time to follow this year’s intention and “Be brave enough to be the woman Good created me to be.”

Next, I need to really commit to finishing my first novel. So close to done, but an incomplete draft is useless. Rejections for other projects and stories continue to roll in.

tomorrow

 

Leave a comment about one of your “someday” brain pictures. Are you ready to take a step towards that life you always wanted for yourself?