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Dog Backpack or Life Jacket: Which Would You Choose?

Jake the dog reviews must-have summer products for pooches. And he's giving two away!

 |  Jun 11th 2012  |   147 Contributions


Hey, Jake here! You can enter to win a spiffy new dog backpack or life jacket by following the directions at the bottom of this post. But first you should read my article, because it's pretty awesome.

I love getting packages in the mail. Even when boxes that arrive aren't for me, it's fun to tear through the cardboard and get to the contents. Then Maria eventually comes back downstairs to retrieve the packages, and wow! The way she reacts, you'd think I'd done a leg lift on the Queen Mother. 

So imagine my excitement when three packages arrived in the last couple of weeks with my name on them. It was like it was Christmas, only without the "Jake! Did you eat the gingerbread house?!" kinds of comments I hear all season.

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Using my handy, built-in box cutters, I made quick work of the cardboard. Maria realized that the items these companies sent me as a perk of my work for Dogster formed a theme: summertime fun. So she decided I would review them (a dog backpack, life jacket and flying saucer) to earn my keep. It's the least I can do to repay her for all the flip-flops I'll shred this summer.

We'll start with an item that looked pretty great from the get-go: An Outward Hound Pet Saver Life Jacket. This model is a nice chartreuse, and it's really well constructed, with a secure, wide body strap on the bottom, which closes with Velcro tabs. It's made extra secure by buckle straps. This puppy ain't falling off.

I can swim super well, but I do go on boats occasionally, since we have a sea captain in the family. Sometimes I get a little too excited, and people have to do everything they can to keep me from jumping into the drink. Maria said this would be a really handy item.

It looks so good on the Outward Hound catalog model. Check it out.

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So Maria, my girl Laura, and I went to a nearby pond for my own model shots. They put it on me and then started laughing. I bet no one laughed at that gorgeous creature above. Check out the picture of Laura laughing so hard she was almost drooling.

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Very funny, Laura. Yeah, verrry funny!

Wow, not exactly star treatment! I was a bit confused as to the source of their merriment. This life jacket is super comfortable. I walked around and didn't even notice it was on. Didn't seem funny to me at all. I was beginning to get vaguely annoyed at being the pond clown, as you can see.

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What?? Whaaaat?

As I was standing there perplexed, Maria brought the camera close to my bulging chest and took a photo. Ha ha, very funny.

It seems I'm just so well-built that the giant black tummy/chest strap was not coming close to Velcro-ing shut. It's supposed to have significant overlap, but the two sides weren't even shaking hands. I'm just "special," Maria says. She had thrown out the packaging, so we don't know if it's a large or extra-large. I am hoping it isn't the latter, because I would feel a little portly if i can't even fit into an XL.

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OK, embarrassing.

This little issue didn't stop me from trying it out in the pond. I can swim without a life vest just fine, so I knew it wasn't going to be a problem. Plus the dual buckle straps, when adjusted to their largest setting, fit around me and held it on super securely. I felt pretty great swimming in it, and I look pretty great, too, don't you think?

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I give the Outward Hound life vest four paws up for its comfort, style, and quality construction. I think any dog who isn't a strong swimmer and is around pools or docks or on boats this summer should talk their people into getting one. Just make sure you measure his or her girth correctly when ordering. It's fine when June is busting out all over, but not so good when your chest and belly are ....

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The next present I opened was another Outward Hound product. This time, it was an Excursion Dog Backpack (product page here). The first thing I noticed is that it was powder pink. A lot of people think I'm colorblind. I'm not. And a lot of people think I'm a girl. I'm not. The company must have seen one of my prettier pictures and sent this my way.

Initially I was embarrassed. I took a bite from a big yogurt container and tried to hide my face from the paparazzi.

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Then I realized: Hey, I am a manly dog! I regularly wear a pastel floral collar, and it doesn't bother me at all. It just sort of makes my manliness shine out extra strong all around it. A pink dog backpack wasn't going to be a problem, either. Real men can wear pink backpacks! 

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And I'm happy to tell you that it's another really comfortable, secure product. The torso straps are padded, so the thing didn't bug me at all. The pockets are roomy, and there's even a poop-bag dispenser. How many humans can say that about their backpacks?

The last product I tried out was a Kong Saucer flying disk. It's the usual Kong red rubber, and that alone gets me pretty excited. Maria threw it for me once, and the flight was perfect. When I caught it, it was delightfully gentle on my mouth.

I loved it. To death. Maria got distracted by a visitor, and I absconded with it. When she came looking 15 minutes later, the Kong Saucer was in 138 separate bits. Laura counted. Maria gave me the "OMG you did a leg lift on the Queen Mother" face again. (I warn her that her face is going to stick like that, but she pays no attention.)

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Most normal dogs will really enjoy the Kong Saucer for its intended purpose. If your dog is normal and not "special" like me, go get one.

Enter to Win a Summer Essential!

And now for how to enter the contest. It's easy, 'cause I'm a simple guy. Just leave a comment below saying if you'd like to win a doggy backpack or life jacket. We'll do a random drawing for a winner for each. Please leave your comment by Friday, June 15, at noon Pacific time. You must have a valid e-mail address attached to your Disqus account for commenting. If we draw your name, PetSmart, which is supplying the winners with their fun prizes, will contact you to find out your dog's size and your shipping info.

Good luck -- and have a great summer!

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