Accessories | Accessories Accessories en-us Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:10:00 -0700 Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:10:00 -0700 Orion <![CDATA[Look at These Stylish Dogs on Menswear Site Mr. Porter ]]> While many clothing outfits have started featuring dogs modeling their clothes, men's retail site Mr. Porter has done everybody one better: It's put Instagram's most famous fashion-forward dogs in its menswear. That means we have stylish dogs like Geordi La Corgi, Logan’s Look, Otis Barkington, Chango Leon, and Remix the Dog dolled up in a new round of bow ties, checkered shirts, scarfs, beanies, and sunglasses. 

We can't believe how cool these dogs look. These dogs are way out of our league. Can you imagine the treats that went into getting these dogs to behave so model-y before the camera? Or are they just that put together? 

Take a look: 

Share this image

Share this image

Share this image

Share this image

Share this image

Photos via Mr. Porter.

See more Pix We Love on Dogster:

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:10:00 -0700 /the-scoop/stylish-dogs-mr-porter-menswear-geordi-la-corgi-otis-barkington-chango-leon-remix-the-dog
<![CDATA[Monkey the Saint Bernard and His Friend Try Out the Puller ]]> It's no secret that I chose a Saint Bernard as my best friend because the breed is notoriously lazy. Just like me. Still, even the laziest of dogs needs exercise, so I was curious to try out the Puller, a dog-training device claiming that 20 minutes of its three simple exercises is comparable to 5km of intensive running. Now, Monkey has never run that far in his entire life, so I was super-stoked to try this out. After all, he sleeps for three hours after 30 minutes of play at the dog park; if I could get him to actually do the exercises, the Puller would likely tucker him out for the entire day. And let's be real: As much as we love our dogs, we REALLY love them when they're sleepy.

Share this image

The Puller, which consists of two rings, also promises to develop all muscle groups, provide physical development for puppies, and keep their attention on one thing rather than every single -- ooooh! Pine cone!

Unfortunately, when I received the Puller and watched some of the amazing training videos of dogs using the system effectively, I realized there was no way Monkey was going to be able to do those things. Yeah, my dog is amazing, but jumping through the air and off of walls just isn't really his jam.

The people behind the Puller recommend three exercises:

1. Running

You basically roll one Puller, and your dog fetches it and brings it back to you, at which point you immediately switch and throw the second one. The problem for Monkey? He doesn't fetch. Or bring things back. 

2. Jumping

Same idea, but you let your dog catch the Puller in the air while jumping, and then you make him jump for the second one while you're still holding onto the first one. The problem for Monkey? He's not allowed to jump. Also, he can't really jump. But that's fine because I promise no one wants a 140-pound Saint Bernard leaping through the air. 

3. Pulling

This is basically a game of tug, but you want your dog to bite with his back teeth. Tug? Monkey can totally do that. And he did. And we had fun.

Share this image

Still, I didn't feel like it was fair to fully test the Puller out on Monkey when clearly it wasn't really his thing from the start. So I called in reinforcements in the form of Monkey's good friend, Cassius, a German Wirehaired Pointer-black Lab. Unlike Monkey, Cassius loves to fetch AND has endless amounts of energy.

Share this image

When it came to the running exercise, Cassius was definitely down to chase the rolling Puller. Getting him to bring it back presented a slight problem, but he got plenty of exercise in the form of keeping the Puller away from Monkey, who will never chase a toy, but will always chase another dog chasing a toy.

Share this image

Cash was also great with the jumping, as there is possibly nothing more in life that the little guy likes to do than jump. It would take some training, but I think eventually he would really like the way quickly switching between the two Pullers would keep him engaged.

Share this image
It also makes a great necklace for dogs who enjoy accessorizing on the fly.

As far as pulling goes ... I mean, what dog doesn't like to pull? Unfortunately, I didn't really get to try out switching between the two Pullers for this exercise because Cash and Monkey were much more entertained trying to yank just the one Puller out of each other's mouths. Note: This is NOT how the Puller is supposed to be used. Like, the website specifically says not to do this. Oops?

Share this image

Frankly, the Puller isn't for me and Monkey, but I would say a lot of that is because Monkey just isn't interested in running and fetching, but more of that is because I don't have dedication it would require to actually work with Monkey five days a week so that he would get the most out of the training device. And hey, that's on me. Luckily, between our walks and the fact that I bring him pretty much everywhere I go, he sleeps just fine at night. And in the morning. And most of the afternoon.

Share this image

Dogster scorecard for the Puller

  • Quality: The Puller is made of high-purity polymer, which is very light, so even kids can easily throw it. It didn't lose its shape or have too many teeth marks in it after a ton of play.
  • Style: Well, you're supposed to hide it when it's not in use so that your dog gets excited to train with it, but if it did happen to be laying around my house, I would be fine with that. I do wish it came in other colors besides purple though.
  • Function: The Puller floats and is odorless, so it doesn't leave an odor on your hands, which is apparently important when it comes to training. It's also specially developed not to hurt your dog's teeth
  • Creativity: This concept is totally unique, and if you have a super active dog who loves to run and fetch, he would love this training device 100 percent.
  • Value: The Standard Puller (pictured) comes with two rings and sells for $25 on Amazon. There are also mini and maxi Pullers, so there's one for dogs of all sizes.

Bottom line

If you have an energetic dog, plenty of space (I'm lucky I spend time in Tahoe because I don't know where I would have tried this out in San Francisco), and are the type of person who is willing to commit to really teaching your dog how to use the Puller, then this is a super affordable option you and your pup will appreciate.

Read more Dogster Reviews:

About the author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/puller-dog-training-toy-review-saint-bernard
<![CDATA[12 of the Hottest New Dog Products From the Global Pet Trade Expo]]> I love my dogs, Justice and Tampa, and I admit they have a small closet and two toy boxes filled with dog products just for them. So it wasn’t a hardship for me to attend the 2015 Global Pet Trade Expo, which covered about 13 football fields with more than 900 pet product exhibitors, with the majority selling dog products.

Share this image
Me with my beloved Justice and Tampa.

One of the big trends was, “If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my dog.” I picked 12 very human, very new dog products for you to peruse -- so new that most of these aren’t even available in stores yet.

1. Buster Activity Map

Share this image
Kruuse’s Buster Activity Map keeps dogs engaged in a whole new way.

We probably all played with some type of activity center as a young child. This is one just for our dogs. It features a simple mat and has various tasks attached to it. Each task has a different degree of difficulty. Just put a treat inside each envelope or pocket, and let your dog do the rest. It’s perfect for keeping your dog engaged at home or on the go. Buster Activity Map starter kit costs $69.99, and more tasks are $10 to $15;

2. Doggy Don Ear Muffs

Share this image
Doggy Don Ear Muffs let you keep your dog’s ears warm just like you do yours.

We don’t have to keep our dogs’ ears out in the cold, because now they’ve got earmuffs, too! The Doggy Don Ear Muffs have an adjustable chinstrap, fit dogs 10 pounds and up, and keeps dogs’ ears warm with faux fur. They cost $17.99 at

3. Sensa Snoozer 

Share this image
The Sensa Snoozer dog bed by TrustyPup conforms to your dog’s body with its memory foam cushion.

Our dogs no longer have to sleep in our beds to enjoy the comfort cushioning of memory foam. TrustyPup’s new dog bed is made of memory foam cushion from shredded foam remnants left over from human products. The memory foam conforms to our dogs’ body contours, and high-loft fiber fills the dog bed’s thick, supportive sides. Good for us -- the Sensa Snoozer is machine washable;

4. Tea for Spot 

Share this image
Check out the new brew in town — Tea for Spot teas and teacups for dogs.

If you are like me and love tea, you’re going to love having tea parties with your dogs with these new teas. Oh yes, there’s a new brew in town. There are five dog teas to choose from: Daily Brew provides essential daily nutrients; No Worries, Mutt promotes relaxation and anxiety relief; Kissably Canine controls dog breath by tackling odor-causing bacteria; Leaps & Bounds supports joint health; and Tea Party contains five bags each of the previous teas. Each tea tin has 20 individually wrapped tea bags. And that’s not all -- we also get three stylish teacups for dogs: plaid, zebra, and paw print. These eight-ounce porcelain cups are fused to the saucer to avoid spills and have a skid-resistant silicone rubber base. A tin costs $9.95 and a dog teacup $19.99 at

5. Skipping Stones

Share this image
Playing fetch for you and your dog around the pool, pond, or lake will never be the same with Kurgo’s play-and-chew Skipping Stones.

Remember those idyllic days when you hung out at the lake and skipped stones? Now your dog can make those memories, too. Just toss the new play-and-chew skipping stone into the pool, pond, or lake, and your dog can bring it back. So long, soggy dog balls! Skipping Stones come in three shapes: Fat Bob, Easy Rider, and Tiny. The stones cost $13 at

6. Dental Chew Bristle Brushes

Share this image
Nylabone combines dog tooth brushing and playtime with its new Dental Chew Bristle Brushes.

One thing we all want: Dogs who brush their own teeth! Well, we’re getting closer. This chew toy looks like a toothbrush and chew toy in one. It has cleaning bristles, action nubs, and ridges to help keep dogs’ teeth clean. They cost 11.99 to $18.99 at

7. My Dog Nose It

Share this image
My Dog Nose It’s dog-safe sunscreen is a natural, safe and water resistant sun protector.

Unfortunately, skin cancer isn’t only for humans -- our dogs are at risk, too. Dog lover Jill Stephens developed basal cell carcinoma on her nose and later noticed her dog, Cody Joe, was showing effects of the sun on his nose, too. After her veterinarian recommended using sunscreen, Jill decided to hire a chemist and create a dog-safe sunscreen specifically for the dog nose, but which can be used on ears and other unprotected areas, too. I love Jill’s story and how she went above and beyond to protect not only her dog, but our dogs as well. The sunscreen costs $12.99, but Jill wants to share a 25-percent off discount code with the Dogster community. Just use discount code PET25 at

8. Healthy Water Enhancers

Share this image
Get your dog to drink more by adding some flavor — along with Vitamin C and antioxidants — to his water with FouFou Brand’s Vegalicious Healthy Water Enhancers.

We humans love our water enhancers, and now our dogs can, too. Want your dog to drink more water? Just squeeze in some Vegalicious Super Berry Blast, Mango Coconut Chiller, or Fresh Breath Vanilla Mint into your dog’s water bowl. Not only are they flavoricious, but they’ve also got Vitamin C and antioxidants. The dog water enhancers contain 24 servings and cost $4.99 at

9. Can Toy

Share this image
SodaPup’s fun-and-brains Can Toy for dogs comes in Orange Squeeze, Lemon Line, and Orange Crush.

I say “soda” and my husband says “pop,” but no matter how we say it, soda pop is downright American. And now dogs can enjoy it, too, but in a much healthier and fun way. Meet the Can Toy. It’s a dog toy puzzle made of natural rubber, tooth tested, and certified to meet Europe’s rigorous standards for children’s toys. The Can Toy has openings at each end for you to put in treats. It comes in medium, large, and extra large, and in three styles: Orange Squeeze, Lemon Lime, and Orange Crush. The toys cost $19.99. 

10. Puffsters

Share this image
Puffsters is an all-natural, air-puffed snack chip for dogs that comes in four yummy flavors.

There’s nothing like opening a fresh bag of Cheetos and then seeing your dog giving you that pleading, oh-please-share look. No more! My dogs can finally have their own puffy goodness with Puffsters. Dogs will see these all-natural, air-puffed snack chips and think they’ve gone to human treat heaven. Puffsters come in four flavors: Apple and Chicken, Banana and Chicken, Sweet Potato and Chicken, and Cranberry and Chicken. Retails from $4.99 to $5.99 at

11. Woof Poof

Share this image
Wash your dog with ease using Absorbine’s Woof Poof, great for bath time on the go or in the home.

Admit it, we’ve all got a bath pouf somewhere. Let’s not leave our dogs out of this bath-time cleansing ritual -- get them their own bath poufs! Check out the ShowSheen Deodorizing Bath Pouf and the Ultrashield Green Flea & Tick Bath Pouf. These soft pouf scrubs are filled with ShowSheen soap buttons, which last more than 15 washes. The Ultrashield Woof Pouf’s eco-friendly formula repels flies, fleas, and ticks. The ShowSheen Woof Pouf is great for on-the-go shampooing and helps with skunk smell. They cost from $7.99 to $9.99 at

12. Bark B-Q

Share this image
Dog bored with his food? Put some Bark B-Q pork flavored condiment on his kibble and watch him gobble it up.

First there was Petchup, Muttstard, and Mutt-n-aise, and now there’s a Bark B-Q pork-flavored condiment. Created for picky pets, these flavored condiments mimic human’s love of condiments to make food taste better. They’re made of natural food-grade nutritional ingredients. A two-pack costs for $17.90 at

All photos by Melissa L. Kauffman. 

Read more about dog accessories:

About the author: Melissa L. Kauffman often goes by Mel to friends and canines alike. She lives in North Carolina with her two forever puppies, Tampa Bay and Justice; two feisty parrots, Deacon and Carlisle; a betta fish named Edgar Allan; and her husband, Scott. Mel is the senior editorial director for Catster and Dogster print magazines.

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/new-dog-products-toys-treats-beds-global-pet-trade-expo
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Sleep in the Human Bed? Win a Therapedic Waterproof Mattress Pad]]> My dogs sleep in the human bed. While I would love to tell you that they never snore and always stay on their side, I can't. Spot and Dolly are snorty bed hogs.

They are also the reason why I now sleep under a machine-washable quilt instead of one filled with dry-clean-only down. On more than one occasion, Dolly has tossed her cookies on the bedding -- literally, as she gets 10 p.m. treats in a not-always-successful attempt to manage her acid reflux.

So why am I oversharing this information about my dogs? Because if you can relate to such a mishap, you will want to win this Friday Freebie: a Therapedic Waterproof Mattress Pad.

Share this image
Spot Thought Bubble: Why am I posing on this pad? Are you talking about how stinky we are again? No wonder Dolly refused to take part in this photo shoot.

In addition to the waterproofing, Therapedic points out three other ways its pad protects a mattress from canine co-sleepers: AlwaysFresh Odor Eliminators, Puresleep Advanced Technology, and an antimicrobial fill, all of which the company says work together to break down, release, and even repel pet odors and stains. The 100-percent cotton, 250-thread-count pad also is hypoallergenic.

I've had this pad on the human bed for more than a month now and can report that not only is it comfy, I also haven't felt the need to wash it along with the rest of the bedding each week, as I have done with previous pads. Thankfully, the waterproofing hasn't been tested yet.

If you want to try the Therapedic Waterproof Mattress Pad, it costs $39.99 to $79.99, depending the size, at Bed Bath & Beyond, or you can enter to win one of four we have to give away by following the directions below.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us why you need this mattress pad and what size you want. Our favorite comment wins. You must be a resident of the U.S. to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, March 4. We'll give the winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Read more about dog products with Dogster:

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/therapedic-waterproof-mattress-pad-freebies-giveaways
<![CDATA[Monkey the Saint Bernard Tries Out the RuffGrip Dog Leash]]> It's no secret that my 140-pound, 18-month-old Saint Bernard is a huge fan of pulling on the leash. Obviously this is a behavior we're working to fix, but in the meantime, my hands literally have peeling callouses that no amount of hand lotion can fix. Which is why when I was given the opportunity to try the RuffGrip leash that promises "no more rope burns," I was waving my tired hands in the air yelling, "Yes, please."

The folks at RuffGrip were kind enough to also send a matching, rolled 1-inch leather collar, which at $18.95 is an amazing deal for the classic, sophisticated look. Monkey was previously sporting a nylon collar that tended to slip and stretch when he pulled, so this was a welcome treat. Plus, a rolled leather collar doesn't mat his hair hair down like a flat collar does. Sure, you can't even really see it thanks to how furry Monkey is, but whatever, I know he's sporting a stylish collar, and that's all that matters.

Share this image

But back to the leash ...

The RuffGrip Leash combines rubber, nylon, and leather and promises to be practically indestructible. The woven design and leather "stops" every six inches prevent slipping so you have more control; the leather bands give your fingers something to grab onto when you need to shorten the leash. This means you never have to wrap the leash around your hand, which, thanks to Monkey's insane strength, would be a really stupid and dangerous thing for me to do, at least if I wanted to keep my fingers. To put the leash to a true test, I used it to walk Monkey around the Village at Squaw Valley, a Tahoe ski resort, but also doggy paradise.

Share this image

Squaw has every single thing that would make a dog want to pull: tons of outdoor food, throngs of people, snow that's just begging to be peed on, but mostly lots and lots of dogs, many off-leash. Did Monkey pull on our adventure? Sure. But was it much easier to control him since the leash wasn't burning my hands and fingers? Absolutely, thanks to the fact that it was easy to keep a firm grip without any of the slipping that happens with most leashes. Plus, now that I've used a leash with a padded leather handle, it would be impossible to go back to nylon. Does that make me sound a little spoiled? Sure. Do my hands deserve to be a little spoiled after a year and a half of being torn up by "regular" leashes? They definitely think so. 

The other good thing about the leash, especially considering Monkey is a part-time Tahoe dog, is that the grip works in any kind of weather. Sadly, we're in a major drought in California so I haven't been able to test the leash in the rain or snow yet, but RuffGrip promises that wet or dry, hot or cold, the leash won't slip. So far we've only tested it out in mild weather, but it's obvious that this leash is more durable than any others we've used, so I feel confident that it's going to last long enough for us to test it during snowy blizzards and sticky summer days. I mean, if South African security teams in Iraq use the leash in 135 degree F heat and if Alaskan rescue teams use it in freezing cold temps (both according to the makers), I have a feeling it's going to be perfect for me and Monkey and our California lifestyle.

Share this image

Dogster scorecard for the RuffGripp Leash

  • Quality: A++. Supple leather, rust-resistant brass hardware, reinforced stitching, and a rubber-ized woven nylon design that prevents leash burn and slippage make this leash the best one Monkey and I have tried yet.
  • Style: Simple and classic, this leash doesn't sacrifice any style for function.
  • Function: While this leash has been praised by the Arthritis Foundation for helping people with gripping or dexterity problems due to arthritis in their hand joints, it also works for anyone who has a dog who pulls or chews on leashes.
  • Creativity: It looks like a simple leash, but it's a lot more than that.
  • Value: I'm actually shocked at how affordable the leash and collar are. Monkey is obviously enormous, so he got the Premium 4-foot leash with a padded leather handle, which still only cost $35.49. 

Bottom line

The RuffGrip leash keeps my hands from hurting when Monkey pulls AND promises not to get tacky in hot weather or crack in cold weather. It's 100 percent my go-to leash from now on, and if you're my friend and you own a dog, you should probably expect to get one the next time I give you a gift. Which, I think, says it all. 

Share this image

Update: While the RuffGrip proved to be sturdy enough for Monkey, unfortunately this weekend, my friend's dog chewed through the leash in under 30 seconds. To be fair, this particular pup LOVES to chew leashes and I can only imagine that the leather felt just as satisfying as a chew toy as he made his way through it. Still, I felt like it was only fair to add in an update for anyone out there with a dog with a propensity for chewing on leashes. Good news though, if that's the case, RuffGrip does have a ChewGuard Leash Protector available for $10.95.

Read more dog product reviews by Daisy Barringer and Monkey:

About the author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.  

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-product-reviews-ruffgrip-leather-leash-saint-bernard
<![CDATA[Dogster Reviews the Latch'NVent]]> A couple of months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a host of cool pet products. Scanning them, I stopped cold when I saw the Latch'NVent. Excitement building, I went directly to the company's website to check it out further. It was the product I had been in search of for the past decade!

I liked what I read about Latch'NVent online. It is made from high-impact plastic and appeared sturdy. The product comes with three different extensions (2 inches, 3 inches, and 4 inches), which I realized would solve many common problems in homes with pets.

Share this image
Maggie eyeing the litterbox. (All photos by Marci Kladnik)

The door to any cat's powder room needs to be secured so dogs cannot use the litter box as a snack bar. (Yes, my dog eats poop!) I thought, a 4-inch extension would work there.

Then the bedroom door must be locked into a semi-open position at night so the cats can come and go, but so my Scottish Terrier would be blocked from leaving the room. Another 4-inch extension.

Share this image
My improvised solution.

I would use a 2-inch extension on my closet door in order to let the small room breathe but keep the fur kids at bay. Although I wear pet fur proudly, I prefer to gather it in person while interacting with my dog and cats.

Over the years, I've improvised temporary fixes while searching hardware stores for a solution. Most recently, I'd been using a rubber bumper at the top and a cute Scottie doorstop at the bottom, requiring me to bend over each time I wanted to enter the rooms and again upon exiting. While this helped add some much needed exercise to my day, it was an absolute bother. Now perhaps the answer was finally at hand.

Sad to say, the item was out of stock! Either it was immensely popular or just the opposite and off the market. I fired off an email to the company immediately asking when it would be available and received a response within a couple of hours.

Share this image

"One to two months," was the answer, but they could spare one now if I was interested. I jumped at the offer and sent them my mailing address.

Six days after my initial email, the package arrived!

The contents and directions looked easy enough, so I ran for my tools and got started. Here's how the install went.

12:15 p.m.: Read directions.

Share this image

12:20 p.m.: Removed the existing striker plate with a Philips screwdriver.

Share this image

12:22 p.m.: Trimmed the tabs on the new Latch'NVent striker plate to fit and screwed it into position using existing holes.

Share this image

12:27 p.m.: Drilled hole to secure outer section to doorframe and screwed into place.

Share this image

12:29 p.m.: Installed 2-inch extension by simply sliding it into the channel until it snapped into place.

Share this image

12:30 p.m.: Shut door. It latched in place just as advertised and is exactly what I wanted!

Whooohooo, and it only took 15 minutes to install (plus another five for photos)!

With a simple push of a button, I can easily switch extensions to adjust the opening size or to remove it to shut and latch the door normally. I did find that I needed to tighten the screws in the striker plate a bit more so the door would shut completely and not hang up. (The instructions cautioned, "Do not over tighten," so I didn’t.) I will probably never shut the closet door all the way, but it's nice to have that option.

I'd happily been using the closet Latch'NVent for about a month before I was able to get my hands on another one.

This one I installed on the bedroom door jam using the 4-inch extension.

I pop the extension out during the day and back in each night so as not to snap it off accidentally when walking by. (One of my nicknames in college was Klutz, so you get the picture.) It takes but a second and is much easier than dealing with the similar temporary wedge-and-doorstop I'd been using.

Share this image
Maggie can't get out of the room, but Barney comes and goes easily.

Kerry Swink, inventor and company owner, shared a story with me. A satisfied customer wrote to him about her senior cat who wasn't getting her blood pressure and liver meds because the dog kept eating the dosed food. Latch'NVent solved the problem and likely saved both the cat and the dog.

I'm already wondering what other doors in my house need one of these. I love the room ventilation aspect of the product. Even though I live in California, I do not have air conditioning. When it gets hot for an extended period of time, I try to capture as much cool night air as possible, after the sun goes down and before retiring for bed. Simply propping an outside door open is not an option as my Scottie is a runner given the chance, and my cats are indoor-only. A Latch'NVent on my kitchen/garage door in the summer would create a nice draft, which would really help with evening airflow yet keep my fur kids inside.

I just love sharing cool products with the pet world when they work for me. Oh! And the Latch'NVent price is an affordable $19.99. I hope you find your own uses for this award-winning gadget.

Could you use a Latch'NVent in your home? We have three to give away! Follow the directions below for a chance to win.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us how this product would help in your home. Our favorite comment wins. You must be a resident of the U.S. to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Feb. 19. We'll give the winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Read more Dogster Reviews:

About the author: Marci Kladnik, her four rescue cats, and one Scottish Terrier live in a small town with no stoplights or mail delivery. A retired graphic designer and technical writer, she designed and wrote for two publishers and two medical device manufacturers. She was also on the masthead of the monthly National Model Railroad Association Bulletin. Her award-winning, bi-weekly cat column ran for seven years in three newspapers, and she is a contributing writer for, an award-winning photographer, and president of the Cat Writers’ Association. Involved in TNR and feral rescue, she sat on the board of directors of Catalyst for Cats from 2007 to 2013 and in her spare time, trapped and fostered local feral cats and kittens. Past columns appear on and her dog blogs at

Fri, 13 Feb 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/latchnvent-dog-cat-product-review-door-prop-lock-latch
<![CDATA[How Safe Are Some of Today's Car Harnesses for Dogs?]]> Last year, I was in a car accident. Hit and run. My car was totaled. I was VERY lucky to have walked away with nothing more than a concussion. I'm a dog sitter and transport pups, including my own, in a vehicle every day. Post-crash, while I was on the shoulder waiting for the police, all I could think was, "Thank goodness the dogs weren't with me."

Share this image
Peanut, Face, and me (with Nugget, Riggins, and Shadow in the background). We were parked when I took this picture, but that's no excuse for the lack of restraints! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I have always been an advocate for doggie car restraints, but even I was getting a bit lax about using them. I was piling pups on top of pups into my car and just assuming that all would be okay. It would have been a much different outcome had the dogs been with me when my car (going about 70 mph) was rear-ended (by a car going about 90 mph) and put into a spin on the freeway. I could have been hurt very badly, even killed, by the force of a flying pup, and the pups could have suffered substantial or even fatal injuries.

Share this image
My dog, Riggins, in his Sleepypod Clickit Sport car restraint. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The scary facts

  • An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force.*
  • An unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of force.*
  • The front airbag system in a vehicle can be deadly during a crash to a dog sitting in the front seat, even if restrained, just as it can be to children.
  • An unrestrained dog can easily jump out of a vehicle. After an accident, when everything is chaotic and the driver is agitated or hurt, a normally well-behaved dog could panic and run.
  • An unrestrained dog can make it harder for first responders to do their job, which may include helping you and your dog.
  • Although it may not be illegal to drive with an unrestrained dog where you live, a pet in your lap or one taking away your focus can result in a citation for "driving distracted."

Safe ride for our babies

Cars were not built to offer a safe ride for dogs. They weren't even built as a safe ride for babies and young children, which is why we strap them into car seats, which limits their mobility, has been extensively tested per government standards, and is required before you drive away from the hospital with a newborn. Our furry babies, on the other hand, often roam around our vehicles or sit, unrestrained, sometimes with their head out the window. We don't put our children's life at risk while in a vehicle. Why do we do it to our other babies, our dogs?

Share this image
My nephew and Riggins both buckled up in 2009. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

In 2013, Subaru of America partnered with the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety, to test the crashworthiness of current dog car restraints available to consumers. Their results should be shocking to people like me who had been buckling up their dog for years. The tests uncovered serious flaws in most marketed pet restraint systems at the time. Only one restraint, Sleepypod's Clikit Utility, earned the title of a Top Performing Harness because it:

  • Prevented the launch of the dog off of the seat for all three harness sizes tested
  • Substantially reduced rotation of the test dog during testing
  • Offers a three-point connection, improving the overall functional behavior of the harness

Share this image
A moment captured from the 2013 dog car restraint testing done by the CPS and Subaru. (Photo courtesy of CPS)

Share this image
The CPS and Subaru's 2013 crash testing of dog car restraints available on the market. (Photo courtesy of CPS)

Be an educated and responsible consumer

"It's all about money,"  Lindsey Wolko, founder of CPS, explains when discussing the current state of the dog car-restraint industry. "We see on every level, whether it's a well-known brand or whether it's a private label, we see manufacturers lying to consumers, misrepresenting the safety of the product."

Wolko is very passionate about this topic due to a personal experience. A short stop with her pup, Maggie, "buckled in" using what was called a "dog-restrained harness," left Maggie with very serious and costly injuries. "I don't know why pet owners aren't screaming. It's frustrating to me and other advocates that are out there, who are working very hard to make pet owners aware."

Share this image
A failed dynamic test from the CPS 2013 testing and an example of why the group suggests against the car restraints that have an extension tether used as the only point where the harness is "buckled" in. (Photo courtesy of CPS)

A few companies have taken notice and aim to provide a new generation of car restraints. To build the Clickit Utility, Michael Leung, owner of Sleepypod, and his team did extensive research. About taking that first step to bring a safe car restraint for dogs to the market, Leung explains, "It is a big challenge to design something that will protect your dog. It is an unknown expense. You can be working for years and years, and you might not have anything. That's the risk we took."

During testing, it became clear to the people at Sleepypod that a dog required a three-point restraint system to stay seated with his bottom in the chair and his upper body restrained, all while using metal clasps strong enough to stand the stress and pressure of a crash. With traditional restraints, the dog would become unseated or even completely torn from the attachment to the seat. The traditional restraint may keep the dog from becoming a deadly projectile and help prevent driver distraction, but there is a very good chance the dog would be injured. 

Share this image
Sleepypod's Michael Leung observing a crash test of the Clickit car restraint. (Photo courtesy of Sleepypod)

For Clickit Utility to have a three-point restraint, the Sleepypod team designed a harness that didn't just utilize the car's seat belt but also used the child seat LATCH anchors to hold the dog in place from each side. Although effective in testing, the harness requires the dog's owner to latch in those three places each time the dog gets in the car.

Leung and his team wanted the next generation of their Clickit harness to be easier for the consumer to use. The team went back to the drawing board and worked hard to find a way to keep a three-point restraint system but to allow for the seatbelt to be the only connection to the car and not put any stress on the metal/plastic clasps and rings. Relaying on an innovative webbing design which they named the Infinity Loop, the Clickit Sport was born!

Sleepypod gave my dog, Riggins, a Clickit Sport to try. Riggins now wears it every time he gets into the car. I appreciate its ease of use and that it has Center for Pet Safety certification. 

After the 2013 testing with Subaru, the center rolled out a voluntary certification program for dog car restraint manufacturers. Currently the only product that has been tested and achieved certification is the Clickit Sport. Since the company's Utility model had already passed the 2013 crash testing, the company did not have it certified.

Share this image
Solvit's Deluxe Car Safety Harness. (Photo courtesy of Solvit Products)

Sleepypod isn't the only company that has recently redesigned its product, though. After seeing how its dog harnesses performed in the 2013 crash testing, Solvit Products started extensive testing to strengthen its restraint.

Patrick Hoffman, owner and president of Solvit Products, explains, "There is quite a bit of engineering that goes into it [designing a harness]. We might have spent $50,000 on testing. We went through many many iterations of redesign on this product to get the strength higher."

Hoffman points out that the safest way for your dog to travel in the vehicle is in a travel crate tethered to the floorboard. If that isn't possible, then the harness-style restraint is the next best thing. Solvit's Deluxe Car Seat Harness allows for different levels of safety based on an owner's overall goal. If the consumer wants to go beyond restraining for driver distraction, they can add a three point attachment accessory for a safer ride for their pup. A crash test video of a 75-pound dummy dog using the Deluxe Car Seat Harness with the LATCH attachments, which are sold separately, on each side of the dog can be found on the company's website. 

No more excuses

Share this image
Riggins in his Clickit Sport proving you don't have to sit up to enjoy car safety. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Both Solvit and Sleepypod have stories of customers who have called to tell them about an accident they have been in and to thank them for their products keeping their dogs safe. Leung tells a story of a client who was in a collision, resulting in the driver spending weeks in the hospital recovering from her injuries. The dog in the car, wearing a Clickit Utility, had no injuries from the crash and got an all clear from the vet after the incident.

When asked why the adoption of pet car restraints isn't more widespread, Hoffman suggests that consumers can be slow in adapting safety measures in the car. He equates it to the restraining of children while driving. "It took quite a long time for that [child restraint] mentality to change. Now I wouldn't get out of the driveway without the kids buckled in."

He continues, "It's just a mentality that has changed with people and their children in the last generation. The whole concept of pets as people is a growing trend and that [car safety] aspect of it has just lagged for some reason, but it [a change in consumer thought] is coming." 

Share this image
Riggins wearing a car restraint in 2010. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Wolko of CPS points out that the cost of a harness is far less than that of a hurt dog's vet bill. "When you evaluate the cost of injury, if your dog is even in a short stop -- I mean, I just slammed on the breaks to avoid an accident, and I saw what I paid for Maggie's bills. It far exceeded the cost of a Sleepypod harness."

She continues, "You are talking hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars if your dog is injured. Your dog could be killed. Someone in your family can be hurt."

When looking for the best product for the safety of your pet, remember to do your research. Check out resources like the Center for Pet Safety's website and follow manufacturer's guidelines on what type of restraint (harness or carrier) will work best based on your dog's size and weight.

 * AAA and Krugo's 2011 survey

Read more by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poop, sacrificing her bed, and with other furry filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Thu, 12 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-seatbelts-car-restraints-safety-harness-sleepypod-solvit
<![CDATA[10 Valentine's Day Gifts for Dogs and Dog Lovers]]> February 14th is a day to celebrate love, and if you have a dog in your life you'll never be short of it. That's why we’ve rounded up 10 great gifts for the dogs and dog lovers close to you.

1. Hip Doggie Heart Dog Leash

Share this image
A heart-themed leash for the beloved dog in your life.

Who doesn't need a festive heart-themed leash? Plenty of petite pups would bark with joy to unwrap this stylish accessory on the big day. It also usually ships in one to two days, so you can enjoy a pink promenade with your pooch as soon as possible.

$35.99 at PetSmart 

2. Rosie's Hearts N' Homes Dog Treats

Share this image
They're like little bites of love!

Order up some lovely snacks for your pup and make Valentine's Day delicious. These treats from Rosie's Barkery, which we profiled as a Dogster Hero recently, are good for your furry bestie, and 10 percent of the proceeds go to helping rescue dogs find forever homes. It's a win-win for everyone (especially your treat-loving pooch).

$8.95 and up at Rosie's Barkery

3. Hearts and Paw Bandana

Share this image
The perfect accessory for a perfect pet!

What’s better than a handmade bandana for the beloved pup in your life? A bandana that's on sale right now, that's what. This beauty ships in one to two days from PawsClawsCorner in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It's reversible and comes in a variety of sizes, from Chihuahua to Husky.

$4 at Etsy

4. Clay Sculpture Valentine

Share this image
The cutest little keepsake.

Another awesome Etsy find that ships within three business days of purchase, this one of a kind Wheaten Terrier sculpture might be the perfect personalized find for the dog lover in your life. Don’t fret if Wheatens aren't your thing -- this seller's got plenty of breeds statues to convey your love.

$25 at Etsy

5. Will You Be My Valentine Doggy Tank

Share this image
For the pup who has your heart.

Dress your dog up for the big day in this soft cotton tank that was made with love in the U.S.A. Shipping from this online retailer usually takes about seven to 10 business days, so ordering for this year might be a little risky -- but at this price, why not roll the dice? Even if it's late, you'll be ready for next year.

$15 from Bloomingtales

6. Pink Paw Print Blanket

Share this image
Cute, festive, and inexpensive.

This adorable pink number is perfect for all the small doggies in your life, and one-day shipping is an option, so a beloved pooch could be snuggling on this soft fleecy number very soon. The seller notes that it's for smaller breeds, which makes sense at 27 inches by 26 inches, and it's also got a very small price tag. Amazon can even gift wrap the cozy blanket for you!

$5.58 on Amazon

7. Don't Shop, Adopt T-Shirt

Share this image
Let them wear their rescue pride.

Give the dog-adoption advocates in your life a way to wear their love on Valentine's Day with this T-shirt from The site lets you know the ordering deadline to have your gift by Valentine’s Day, and if you don't like this design there are a ton of others to choose available. You can even make your own design, or you can just pick a different color. 

$24.95 at Zazzle

8. Heart Print Bowl

Share this image
A beautiful bowl for a beautiful best friend.

Let your dog lap up some love on V-day with this adorable ceramic bowl. The tasteful neutral tones will fit into most kitchen decor styles while still incorporating a playful element. It cleans up quickly, won't harbor bacteria like some plastic bowls, and usually ships the next business day.

$6.99 at Petco

9. A loving donation to an animal rescue

Share this image
Send a Valentine showing off this adoptable dog! (Image via Fayetteville Animal Protection Society)

If chocolates and roses don't seem like the right gift for the dog lover you're romancing, why not make a donation in your beloved's honor this Valentine's Day? START Rescue in California will send a Valentine’s Day card for you when you donate in someone's honor, as will the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society, which used its own adoptable pets as Valentine card models (order by February 10). Check if your local rescues have a similar program, and if they don't you can always donate anyway and make your own Valentine.

10. A night of dog sitting

This Valentine's Day, why not give the gift of time? If you know a couple who've recently brought home a puppy, then you know a couple who probably won't be going out for a romantic dinner (unless they want to come home to pee on the floor). Give the gift of love on February 14 and let someone you know take a break from puppy parenting. It won't cost you a thing, and you get to play with an adorable pup -- it's a win-win for everyone. 

Read related stories on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/valentines-day-gifts-products-dogs-dog-lovers
<![CDATA[9 Things to Pack for a Road Trip With Your Dog]]> Does the low price of gas these days have you planning a road trip with your dogs? Just last month, I drove from northern Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, with my two pups, Autumn and Rocket. It was our first road trip together, and I was both excited and scared. To prevent any problems along the way, I put together a packing to-do list with help from AAA director of public relations and fellow pet parent, Heather Hunter. Use it for your next trip!

Share this image
My travel companions, Autumn and Rocket.

1. Identification

Before you leave, consider getting your dogs microchipped. I recently had my two long-haired Chihuahuas chipped, and it was an affordable $45 per pet, at least at my vet's office, and done during a single visit. I then registered the chips. If your pups are chipped but you have since moved or changed your contact information, be sure to update it with both the microchip registration service and your vet. Update their tags, too, and make sure the collar fits well and has no tears or other damage.

2. Crate

"Even if you're on the most pet-friendly vacation, there may be times when you have to leave your pet in the hotel room," Hunter says.

To prevent your dogs from dashing out if a maid or other member of the hotel staff opens the door, place them in a crate when you leave the room. Some hotels even have policies that require you to do so. Be sure to check with your hotel about this before you go. If you need help finding a pet-friendly hotel, check out:,, or AAA's mobile app also lists hotels where pets are welcome. Also, check out Dogster's lists of pet-friendly hotels, including hotel chains

3. Harness or car seat

According to a AAA survey, about 52 percent of drivers admit to being distracted by petting their dogs, and the risk of an accident increases when you take your eyes off the road for two seconds or more. Ask your vet about which pet carriers would be best for your furry friends, suggests Hunter. 

The options are plentiful, but essentially can be boiled down to a harness, secured crate, or car seat. Which you choose will depend on your personal and safety preferences. Hunter uses harnesses for her larger dogs because she likes that they are strapped in when she opens the car door. Be sure to look for harnesses that have been crash-tested, such as Sleepypod and Solvit, and to carefully examine test results to ensure they are appropriate for your dog's size.

Solvit sent me two booster seats to review, and I was very happy with them. The company's seats are sized based on weight, which gave each of my fur babies plenty of room to move around. I loved how they could lay down, a nice perk during long hours in the car. 

Share this image
Autumn and Rocket, ready to road trip!

I also liked the soft, fleecy cover and how the seat includes an interior strap I can attach to my dogs' harnesses. One of the booster seat's straps hangs around the headrest, and another is secured around the seat for extra security.

Bonus tip: Hunter also suggests dogs new to road trips take a few test runs. "Make sure your pet is acclimated to car travel," she says, recommending a few quick trips around town to see how your pet does. When driving Autumn and Rocket in short bursts before our trip, I was pleasantly surprised how they did. They both initially shook, but eventually quieted down. Rocket seemed to even sleep during our last jaunt. Autumn started to whine a little, but she remained calm overall. This gave me an excellent preview as to what they would be like on our longer trip.

4. Vaccination records and extra meds

Book a pre-trip appointment with the vet if your dogs are due for any vaccinations. Be sure to stock up on medications, too. You'll want to ask for extras just in case you lose their meds or run out. Fortunately, my pets don't take any medication, and I had just taken them to get chipped and examined to make sure they were in good health. My vet's office emailed me my pets' shot records to keep handy.

5. A first-aid kit

For minor cuts and scrapes, consider putting together a first aid kit. Pack it with essentials such as scissors, bandages, a thermometer, and hydrogen peroxide. For a more detailed look at this, check out How to Make a DIY First Aid Kit for Dog Travel. I have a small first aid kit that has bandages and other basics for my fur babies that I brought along.

6. Extra food

You don't want to run out of food when you're on the road. "Have plenty of what they're used to. Bring more than what you're used to,” says Hunter. 

To avoid carsickness, don't feed your furry friend right before you leave, suggests Hunter. Instead, give your dog plenty of time to digest a meal before you take off. If your dog is prone to carsickness, you'll probably want to feed him when you arrive at your destination and not during travel breaks. Medicines and natural products also may be able to help. Talk to your vet about what might be best for your pet. Thankfully, my pets don't get sick in the car. They just get a little nervous.

7. Toys

"Favorite toys are always great [to pack], too," says Hunter. Little comforts of home can make your pet feel more comfortable. I brought my dogs' favorite blanket.

Share this image
I brought their favorite blanket on the road.

8. Bowls

Hunter uses a collapsible bowl for her trips, but feel free to bring your regular bowls if that's more convenient. Since my dogs have small metal bowls and were in sensory overload during our trip, I stuck with their own to keep it consistent.

9. List of animal hospitals along your route 

If you're not sure exactly where you'll be stopping each day, research animal hospitals along the way. "Planning is key," says Hunter.

Are you planning your first road trip with your dog? Tell us where you're off to! If you're an experienced road traveler with your pups, share tips in the comments, please. 

Read more tips about traveling with dogs:

About the author: Teresa Tobat is a writer, editor, and pet parent. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter and check out her dogs on Instagram. She's hopelessly devoted to her long-haired Chihuahuas and always daydreaming about her next destination.

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/road-trip-checklist-traveling-with-dogs-by-car
<![CDATA[Can the Scorpion Scooper Handle Saint Bernard Poop? Monkey's Person Finds Out!]]> First things first. There's simply no way to review a product that picks up dog poop without first discussing, well, my dog's poop. To be specific, my 140-pound Saint Bernard's poop. There's no cute way to say it; the truth is: Monkey's poop is a real situation.

No, it does not require me to carry around a shovel, as stranger after stranger loves to suggest, but picking it up does require my tiny hand to use a stacking technique (which I've perfected unless he starts pulling and then ... oh goodness), and I do use a bag that's slightly thicker than your average poop bag. AND OKAY, FINE. SOMETIMES I HAVE TO USE TWO BAGS. I don't really want to talk about those times, though. Some things in life are best dealt with in therapy, don't you agree?

Share this image

The other truth about Monkey's enormous poop is that I don't mind picking it up. Don't get me wrong, I don't look forward to the four million times it seems to happen every day. And I get really annoyed when he pulls his signature move of watching me only bring one poop bag and then spreading his poop out into three sessions. But for the most part, bending over, stacking his poop up so that it fits in the bag, and then tying the bag into a knot, is not the worst part of my day.

Could I do without the stares I get from passersby as I navigate his poop? Sure. Do I wish I didn't have to hear little girls scream, "EWWWWWWWWWWW!" as they stare at the poop drop from his butt onto the small patch of dirt he's found next to a San Francisco sidewalk tree? Absolutely. And does it bug the crap (pun intended, sorry) out of me when someone comes over to say hi right as he's about to go? Yes, yes it does. Seriously, people. Stop doing that.

Still, when I was offered the chance to try out the Scorpion Scooper (whose tagline, "Picking Up Is Just a Simple Squeeze Away," is rather unfortunate), I obviously had to say yes. Mostly because I was convinced that there was no way all of Monkey's poop would fit into a pooper scooper, but also because hey, why not? There may come a day when I can't bend over (she says, remembering the time she fractured her spine snowboarding), and also it promised "multiple pickups per bag," which seemed like an attractive option for when Monkey and I spend time in Tahoe and I (don't judge) let him go in the yard and I don't always pick it up immediately. Oh, like you've never done that ...

Share this image

Probably if Monkey and I didn't spend a lot of time in Tahoe, I would never have agreed to even give the Scorpion Scooper a chance. I mean, I have very little shame, but I just couldn't picture me walking around my San Francisco neighborhood with a pooper scooper. Monkey already attracts enough attention; we can do without any more. Still, it seemed like it could be good for people who live in the suburbs or have yards, so I felt like it was my doodie, I mean duty, to try it out. (I CANNOT HELP THE PUNS. I'm sorry.)

Share this image

Here's what the Scorpion Scooper promised:

  • Easy to carry and use
  • No bending over
  • No touching of the poop 
  • Multiple pickups per bag 
  • No smell 
  • Single-handed operation
  • Scooper stays clean

And here's how that went for me:

Easy to carry and use

I fancy myself an intelligent girl who can follow directions pretty well. Case in point: I have built more IKEA furniture by myself in this lifetime than I care to admit. But for some reason, I found the Scorpion Scooper kind of hard to figure out. Basically, you have to find the holes on the bag (it uses special bags) and then stick those onto the scooper. And then you pull the bag through and voila -- ish. I thought I did it properly, but my first (and fine, second) attempts to actually pick up poop did not go well. I mean, I even watched the YouTube video, and it STILL didn't help.

And while I don't really want to talk about or admit this, the "no touching of the poop" promise was broken. Which never happens when I just use a good old-fashioned bag and my handy-dandy stacking technique. Also, I feel the need to point out that the poop pictured below is old poop and has therefore shriveled a bit, and it was also one of Monkey's smaller poops. I didn't want to totally terrify the entire world out of ever owning a Saint Bernard. You're welcome.

Share this image

No bending over

I suppose I did not bend over. And frankly, to me, this is the biggest benefit of the Scorpion Scooper. I think elderly people or people with back problems would really benefit from this tool (if they're smarter than I am and can figure out how to use it).

No touching of the poop

I already said I didn't want to talk about this. Sheesh!

Multiple pickups per bag

Okay, so I have NO clue how this would work, but I tried several techniques, one of which included me trying to sort of flip the first pile of poop deeper into the bag and then carrying it held high in the air, and let's just say it's a really good thing I was testing this product while alone in the woods. So, no: It did NOT pick up multiple Monkey poops. Not even close.

No smell

This promise makes no sense to me. Poop smells. Especially when it weighs close to a pound and comes out of an adorable Saint Bernard puppy. Even if I am standing five feet and seven inches above it.

Single-handed operation

I used two hands to set the whole thing up. One hand to carry it around and try to pick up the poop. And then two hands to get the bag off, so ... kinda?

Scooper stays clean

Cleaner than my hands, that's for sure! (No, in all seriousness, it does stay clean because it uses a bag, which seems like a good thing.) There wasn't an easy way to tie the bag when I was finished, though, which seems like a problem. Do people just dump untied poop bags into their garbage? #yucky

Share this image

I don't like to, ahem, dump on products; frankly, I'd rather just not review them. However, in this particular case, I suspect the Scorpion Scooper just isn't something that Monkey and I really need in our lives, so the fact that I also found it a little difficult to use (I'm sure it gets way easier the more you do it) and that it didn't pick up multiple poops (again, likely because Monkey's poops are huge), means it just wasn't a good fit for us. However, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be good for other people. Let me break it down:

Dogster scorecard for the Scorpion Scooper

  • Quality: It's made of a stainless steel wire, an aluminum allow shaft, and fiber-reinforced nylon parts. And it's super light at just eight ounces. I feel like it would last a long time.
  • Style: It's a pooper scooper, so let's not get carried away here. It's about function, not style.
  • Function: I found it harder to use than I thought I would, but now seems like a great time to mention that it has a FLASHLIGHT attached to it so you can pick up poop at night. I think that was my favorite part. Also, I am sure it would get easier to use with time.
  • Creativity: 100 points for creativity.
  • Value: Based on which length you choose, the Scorpion Scooper ranges from $19.95 to $24.95 and comes with 16 rolls of poop bags. If you were going to really use the Scorpion Scooper, I think it's an excellent value.

Bottom line

The Scorpion Scooper isn't for me, but I have a dog who poops BIG and am able to bend over and easily pick it up using my (patent-pending) stacking technique and a poop bag. I think for most people, this is an unnecessary tool, BUT if you can't bend over easily to pick up your dog's poop or if you just really hate picking up poop, then it could be a great option for you. No crap.

Share this image

Read more dog product reviews by Daisy Barringer and Monkey:

About the author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em. 

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/scorpion-poop-scooper-review-saint-bernard
<![CDATA[We Talk to the Creator of Philpottery Dog-Themed Fridge Magnets]]> Seven years ago, British retirees Derek Philpott and Wilf Turnbull began writing letters to pop stars that asked questions about the intricacies of their lyrics. Surprisingly, they began to receive earnest replies from artists such as Rick Wakeman (Yes), Nik Kershaw, and Chris Difford (Squeeze).

While Derek hunkered away penning the letters, his wife, Jean, decided to complement the hobby by making her own pun-based, pop-star clay animals such as Lorrissey, Mick Ducknall, and Piggy Pop. As word about Jean's creations caught on and offers were made to buy them, she decided to set up Philpottery, a bespoke handicrafts company in England, which now also specializes in turning photographs of pets into fridge magnets.

Off the back of a hectic holiday season bustling with orders, I spoke to Jean about the dog-model side of her business, her pop-star pun creations, and why she decided to donate part of the proceeds from the venture to the Dogs Trust organization.

Share this image

Dogster: How do you go about translating the personality of a dog from a photograph into a sculpted magnet?

Jean Philpott: I think that a dog's personality shines through the face, just as it does with a human. I always ask the person for whom I am making the magnet to send me the picture they would like me to make the model from and also a few more. From this, I can see the dog in different lights and situations, and I can try to translate it into a 3D model.

For instance, I have just finished making a model of a lovely Ridgeback cross called Toffee -- in the main photo she looks like a very noble beast, but from some of the other pictures I could see how much she loves her family and how much they love her, so I tried to inject a little of that sweet nature into it, too. I also take great care to model the eyes. Doggy eyes are so soulful, and you can show so much through them.

Share this image

What do you think appeals to people about the idea of paying tribute to their dog via a fridge magnet?

Anyone with a dog will be able to tell you that they are so much a part of the family that it's hard to imagine life without them being there. Photos are lovely, but what I am trying to do is to make something really tangible and tactile and three dimensional. I like to think that my magnets and plaques are a talking point, and because they are all handmade there's a story behind it too.

Over Christmas, I was commissioned to make a present for a lady whose dear dog Arthur had passed away many years ago. I was given photos of him, and the gentleman who commissioned it told me a little bit about him and how he was adorable, loyal, and cheeky -- although also a little smelly and dribbly at times! He contacted me shortly after Christmas to tell me that the recipient was so touched by seeing her Arthur immortalized that she was teary and emotional. That meant so much to me.

Share this image

You also have a line based around animal puns on pop star names. Which ones are you most proud of?

Mostly my husband and I come up with the puns, and it's a lot of fun! Sometimes a fan will request something, and I will make it for them -- I'm about to start work on Tori A. Moose this week. My personal favorites are The Snoutorious P.I.G., Lady Budgeri-Ga-Ga, Michael Stipe from RRRRRR.E.M.

My absolute favorite is Nine Inch Snails, which was coincidentally the very first one we came up with when we started. It has proved to be such a hit with our Facebook friends that I have made a whole army of them for people, and they now adorn fridges and mantelpieces all over the world!

Share this image

So, which pop star dogs would you pick to make up the ultimate pop group?

Bruce Springer-stein would definitely have to be there, then Jarvis Cocker-Spaniel (Pulp), Pomeran-Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Mark King Charles Spaniel (Level 42), and on drums we'd have Ginger Barker (Cream)!

Are there any famous people who own dogs who you'd love to create a magnet for?

My husband is a big fan of Mickey Rourke, so I would love to make him one or both of his beloved Chihuahuas, Loki and Jaws, whom he sadly lost. They were such beautiful little doggies, and he absolutely worshipped them.

Share this image

You donate part of the proceeds from your sales to the Dogs Trust. Why did you make that decision?

Derek and I are animal lovers, and the plasticine pop star animals got such a positive reaction from Derek's Facebook friends that we could see that a lot of them are, too. Then when Philpottery came along and I started to do pet portraits, it became obvious how big a part of what Philpottery does is based around animals.
We have friends who have adopted animals from Dogs Trust, and so my husband and I are very aware of the wonderful work it does. It's very upsetting to think of the thousands of abandoned and abused animals out there; it's horrific to think that anyone can have such a callous attitude toward a defenseless creature.

Dogs Trust is there to care and rehabilitate those poor souls who have had terrible lives and have been subjected to unbelievable cruelty. Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog down and will do its best to rehome as many as it can, and look after the ones who cannot be placed. People can donate as little as a pound a week to sponsor dogs who have had a bad start in life. We applied to be a corporate friend of the trust, so those who order one of our pet portraits can be assured that they are giving something to animals who have not been so lucky as their own pets.

Share this image

Finally, do you and Derek have any dogs?

Not presently, because we have a tortoiseshell cat named Gladys. We took her in when her previous owner's little one became allergic and they couldn't keep her any more, and they regretfully had to find a new home for her. We are really dog people -- please don't tell Gladys, she'd be furious! -- but she was such a cute bundle of fluff that when we saw her we couldn't resist. We fell in love with her instantly, and we adore her. Unfortunately, Gladys is a bit of a diva, and I think she might not get along with a puppy if we got one.

Before Gladys, we did have a dog, named Cilla, who was a beautiful jet-black crossbreed. She had wonderful expressive brown eyes, and she was so very clever. I have so many warm, funny, beautiful memories of her -- we were inseparable. She lived a very long and contented life and passed away at the grand old age of 19. When people say that dogs become another family member, it's no lie -- they read your emotions and are wonderful friends and comfort through good times and bad.

Mosey on over to the Philpottery Facebook page to check out the full range of Jean's pun-tastic handicrafts -- and tell them Dogster sent you! 

Read more about dogs in art on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/philpottery-custom-dog-magnets-pop-stars
<![CDATA[Monkey the Saint Bernard Tries Out a Subscription PawPack Box]]> One thing I've noticed since getting a dog is that I no longer get excited when a package arrives. That's because, inevitably, the package contains something for Monkey, and I am a selfish, selfish girl.

Although maybe not that selfish, since I do get pretty happy when a package arrives and Monkey sniffs sniffs sniffs and then looks at me like, "Open it! Open it! Open it!" Because he knows it's for him. Which is pretty much exactly what happens any time we get a new subscription box to try out, PawPack being no exception.

Share this image
No really. He's excited. I swear.

PawPack is much like the other doggie subscription boxes you've heard about: Every month, you get a box full of surprise products for your dog (or cat). The notable difference is that with PawPak, the products are always either organic, all-natural, or eco-friendly. Call me a hippy (or just, you know, a San Franciscan), but that aspect of it really appeals to me. Monkey can't tell the difference, but what are you gonna do? He is a dog, after all.

The other thing I love about PawPack is that 10 percent of its proceeds go directly to the care of rescue animals. The company also donates PawPacks to rescues as a "welcome home" gift for new adoptions. Pretty great.

Of course, what I was really curious about was if Monkey would like the stuff in his first-ever PawPack.

Share this image

Monkey's PawPack arrived over the holidays and was brimming with goodies.

Share this image

Obviously, Monkey wanted to get right to the good stuff: the Clear Conscience Pet Beef Trachey Chewz and Lamb Airy Bites. The good news is that these were both an appropriate size for my giant beast, and I am always on the hunt for new treats. Monkey's kind of a weirdo in that he isn't super food motivated, but he loved both of these. (I will say, though, that my friend's dog was not as into them.)

Even better, Clear Conscience Pet uses unadulterated and minimally processed whole-food ingredients, and all of its treats are all natural. Monkey gets Jif peanut butter in his Kong once in a while, so it feels good to give him treats that he likes and are good for him as well.

Share this image

This Gingerbread Man Kyjen Bottle Buddy was the hit of the box -- for Monkey anyway. It's a stuffie with an empty recycled plastic bottle inside that creates an addictive crackling and crunching sound, and it has a cap that squeaks. Let's just say I now understand why some parents don't give their children toys that make noise.

Share this image

Still, I can't deny that Monkey was pretty fascinated by his new friend and the amazing noises he made. 

Share this image

So he did what he always does when he finds a new toy he loves: He took a nap with it.

Share this image

This Wag More Bark Less hollow bone was another huge hit. Monkey doesn't always chew, but when he does, I prefer it to be on a toy like this versus, oh, let's say my armchair. (RIP, my armchair.) This chew bone is made of all-natural rubber, is biodegradable and non-toxic, and (so far) seems pretty indestructible. It will definitely be in heavy rotation.

Share this image

Also inside the box were Stewart Freeze Dried Chicken Liver Treats, an all-natural chew that Monkey devoured in three minutes flat, some training tools, and a tin of Snout Soother from Natural Dog Company, which actually did wonders for Monkey's dry nose. I'd been dying for a product like this but had just been too lazy to find one, so it was a very welcome surprise. I just had to use a lot of it because Monkey's nose is, well, huge. You should hear the snores that come out of it. Actually, never mind -- be glad you can't.

So is PawPack worth it? That depends. Like any subscription box, it's a bit of a gamble that your pup may not love everything inside of it. I personally don't mind that, though, because I am always happy to give Monkey's rejects to friends. 

PawPack has two subscription options:

  • The Premium Pack is $28 per month and comes with four to five full-size items, plus samples.
  • The Deluxe Pack is $43 per month and comes with six to seven full-size items, plus samples.

Both options get less expensive if you commit to six months or a year instead of doing it month-to-month. Personally, I feel like the Deluxe Pack is too much for Monkey (he already has too much clutter!), but it could be a good option if you have more than one dog.

Dogster scorecard for PawPack

  • Quality: I was extremely pleased with the high quality of every single item in the box and that everything was all-natural, organic, or eco-friendly.
  • Style: Both toys were super cute, which is a plus considering I will have to look at and step over them on my floor.
  • Function: Monkey put everything in the box to good use. No complaints here.
  • Creativity: The variety was perfect. A stuffie that squeaks, a toy he can chew on, a nose balm for grooming, and lots of treats to eat.
  • Value: It's well worth the $28.

Bottom line

PawPack is a monthly box of fun treats and toys that are good for your dog and easy on the environment. You can't beat that.

Read more product reviews by Daisy Barringer and Monkey:

About the author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/monkey-saint-bernard-paw-pack-subscription-box-review
<![CDATA[Win a CritterZone Air Naturalizer and Banish Doggie Smells!]]> I love my dogs and their adorable smushy faces. That being said, I could do without the stinky farts caused by the amount of air they swallow while eating, which humans to all brachycephalic breeds must learn to live with because no special bowl or food will eliminate them entirely.

So I was more than happy to test the CritterZone, a plug-in air naturalizer, before approving it as this week's Friday Freebie. The maker of the device explains that it creates a natural, charged flow that fills a room and continually cleans the air, eliminating odors, allergens, dust, and bacteria, just as the sun and wind work to do outdoors.

Share this image
Spot Thought Bubble: Stop calling me a stinky farter. It's not very nice.

I placed the CritterZone in the bedroom, which has carpet that no matter how often I get cleaned always retains a slight eau de dog. Spot and Dolly love to use it as a back scratcher, and in their opinion it makes a much better spot for "accidents" than any tile or wood surface in our home.

After just a day of it running, I noticed less of a smell when entering the bedroom. (FYI, I have a very sensitive nose.) After a few weeks, my nose couldn't tell the difference at all between the air in the room and the hallway leading to it. I also haven't been awoken from a deep sleep by a stinky fart since turning on the device. Job well done, CritterZone.

Could you use a CritterZone in your home? It retails for $99.99, but we have one to give away! Follow the directions below for a chance to win.

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us about your stinky dog and/or home. Our favorite comment wins. You must be a resident of the U.S. to score this prize.
  3. Check your email for a "You've Won!" message from us after noon PST on Thursday, Jan. 15. We'll give the winner two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.

Good luck!

Read more about dog products with Dogster:

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/win-critter-zone-air-naturalizer-purifier-pet-products-freebies-giveaways
<![CDATA[Liberty Wristband Claims Hands-Free Walks -- Monkey Puts It to the Test]]> Some days I just want to take my 140-pound Saint Bernard on a leisurely walk that's focused purely on his happiness. But, um, let's be real. Those days are few and far between because I'm a busy city girl who juggles a bazillion things and never ever doesn't have some type of errand that needs to be run. Which means that more often than not, Monkey's walks happen around whatever it is I need to accomplish, whether it's picking up the dry cleaning, grabbing a coffee, or sending a text message.

Share this image

The only problem with this plan is that, uh, Monkey weighs ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY POUNDS. And, fine, maybe sometimes likes to pull a little bit depending on if he sees a squirrel. Or a dog. Or a person. Or a tree. Or, fine, a tree branch. Which makes walking him while holding piping hot coffee slightly precarious to say the least. And don't even get me started on how he always needs to poop right AFTER I get the coffee, which means I'm usually resting it on the top of some stranger's car (thanks, strangers!), and then, my favorite part: walking with the leash in one hand (and the Saint Bernard at the end of it) and a coffee and a ginormous bag of poop in the other.

Basically, I should join a circus.

All of this is a long way of saying that when I was told about the Liberty Wristband, a device that would allow me to walk Monkey hands-free, I was like, "Um, there's no way this will ever work, but let me pretty please try it anyway, because ohmygod, what if it did?"

A girl can dream, can't she?

Share this image

The Liberty Wristband is made of soft neoprene and has a super-strong fastening device (and a manual quick-release just in case) that attaches to any size leash for hands-free dog walking. In theory, it also helps relieve a stressed hand or wrist (from gripping a leash) and transitions that shock absorption to your stronger, bendable arm. Cost? $29.99.

Share this image

Unfortunately, it wasn't a great fit for Monkey and me for several reasons:

  1. Though we work on it every day, Monkey still pulls. This was the biggest issue, as having his leash attached to my wrist didn't allow me to use my entire body to stop the pulling.
  2. When Monkey was walking nicely next to me (which he does a lot of the time -- good boy!), the leash dragged on the ground.
  3. I didn't feel like I could control where Monkey was going, which is a problem in the city, where I often need to move him out of the way of passing pedestrians. It felt like the Liberty Wristband put the control in Monkey's paws, although I do think perhaps that could be corrected with practice. (It doesn't feel natural to use one's wrist instead of just grabbing the leash.)

Share this image
That's my wrist getting pulled pretty hard. Luckily, the neoprene is very soft.

That being said, I'm definitely not saying that the Liberty Wristband wouldn't be an awesome buy for someone with a smaller dog who doesn't pull, because I think it could be. In that case, though, I would suggest using a shorter leash to keep your dog close to your side (as I personally believe he should be) on walks. 

I can also see using the Liberty Wristband when I take Monkey to the beach or the park and there's nowhere to tether him. It seems like a much better option than the weird "I'll loop his leash around my ankle and try not to let my foot come off the ground" technique I'm still trying to perfect.

Ultimately, even though the Liberty Wristband is made for dogs of all sizes, I do think Monkey is just too big (and too young -- he's only 16 months, so we've still got some puppy pulling/training time ahead of us) for me to feel comfortable walking him without having my hands firmly on his leash. Looks like these callouses I'm building up aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Share this image
Monkey says, "Meh..."

Dogster scorecard for the Liberty Wristband

  • Quality: It's sturdy with waterproof neoprene and water-resistant nylon materials. It also has waterproof-grade aluminum with all stainless steel springs and components. Clearly very well made. Keeping all of that in mind, $29.99 seems like a very fair price.
  • Style: I mean, it's a neoprene wristband, so let's not get crazy here. Still, considering that, it's pretty subtle. More so than I thought. Let's put it this way: I didn't feel like a huge dork wearing it outside. Which is the only place you'd be wearing it, so ... that's a plus.
  • Function: The wristband adjusts with Velcro to fit any size wrist. I have bizarrely tiny wrists, and it was snug and comfy. The fastening device was very secure. I didn't worry about Monkey "escaping" even for a second. That being said, it was just a little too hard to walk a big, strong dog with a tendency to pull. 
  • Creativity: Love the idea. It's definitely a product I think every dog owner has dreamed about on many a walk.

Bottom line

I would definitely give this as a gift to a friend with a smaller dog who's good on a leash. Sadly, it was not a great fit for my 140-pound Saint Bernard.

Read more reviews:

About the Author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/liberty-wristband-hands-free-dog-walking-device-review
<![CDATA[Holiday Gifts That Work Well Into the New Year]]> The greatest trick Martha Stewart ever pulled was convincing us to buy tacky Christmas sweaters for our pets.

Though I understand on a rational level that neither my dogs nor my cat need holiday-appropriate gear, I cannot resist adorable, pet-sized Christmas scarves. No matter how many times I tell myself that it just doesn't make sense to buy a dog bed in the shape of Rudolph's head -- my dogs sleep on my bed anyway -- every year, I break down and buy Christmas-y items such as that for one or all of my pets.

Share this image
Angie with one of her non-holiday-themed Christmas presents, a stuffed Direwolf.

Share this image
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, says Kira.

This year wasn't so different, but at least I took a more savvy approach.

In an effort to keep from accumulating a bunch of December-specific dog items, I decided not to deprive my pups of holiday cheer but to only purchase items that could be used well into the new year. There were more options than I had anticipated. Of course, I didn't get them all (my husband is a Grinch), but here are my top finds if you would like to do the same in the clearance aisle.

Going green

Nothing screams "Christmas!" like the classic red-and-green combo, but separate the hues from each other, and they're just colors. Kelly green is especially cheerful, no matter what the season.

Share this image
From left to right: Martha Stewart Holiday Doughnut Bed, Hello Kitty Plush Dog Bone Toy, and Nylabone Dinosaur Holiday Dog Toy.

This Hello Kitty toy barely looks related to Christmas. Sure, put it next to a couple of red balls, and you have a festive canine gift set, but alone it's just green (and very cute). The Martha Stewart dog bed might radiate holiday cheer with a few red accent pillows, but by itself it looks positively mod. And though nothing brings tidings of comfort and joy quite like dinosaurs, I'm pretty sure you could pass these off as non-holiday toys after the tree comes down.

Choosing Less tacky Christmas Sweaters

Tacky Christmas sweater parties are fun and all, but I doubt your dog attended one this year. Instead of dressing Fido up as a tree, these more understated options are stylish until spring (this applies to socks as well).

Share this image
From left to right: Martha Stewart Pets Cable Sweater, Petco Holiday Socks for Dogs, and Martha Stewart Pets Houndstooth Barn Sweater.

Both sweaters by Martha are chic and subtle enough for your pet to wear all winter long. The cable sweater looks super cozy, and who can resist a hound in houndstooth? (No one, that's who.) Socks on a dog may seem ridiculous, but moving to a colder climate (from Florida to Oregon) has taught me that my pups need to bundle up almost as much as I do. The socks may be a little on the Christmas-y side, but they're plaid; plaid knows no season in Oregon.

Embracing teal

It seems like Disney's Frozen is everywhere and resistance is futile. I'm not suggesting you dress up your pup as Olaf, but I am suggesting you lean into the less-than-traditional teal color family. Somehow, teal manages to look appropriate in both winter and spring.

Share this image
From upper-left, clockwise: Martha Stewart Pets Fur Cape, Harry Barker Penguin Dog Toy, Harry Barker Retro Sock Canvas Dog Toy, and Harry Barker Canvas Log Fetch Toy.

First of all, can we talk about this cape? Somewhere between Elsa and Anna Karenina, this dramatic yet cozy piece is almost enough to make your dog exclaim "The cold never bothered me anyway!" (I say "almost" because even a fabulous cape can't grant your dog the power of speech.)

The yule log, vintage socks, and penguins are all from Harry Barker, and somehow manage to walk the fine line between "charmingly refined" and "too precious for a dog's mouth." I almost want those penglings for myself.

Trying a different holiday

Kira, who is technically my husband's dog, was raised in a Jewish home, and thus prefers a menorah to a Christmas tree. If you have a pooch in you life like Kira, you can avoid red and green entirely and go straight for the blue stuff.

Share this image
Left to right: Petco Holiday Hanukkah Kosher Bone Dog Toy, Multipet Look Who's Talking Gefilte Fish -- Oy Vey!

I love both of these toys so much. Their bold blue colors look properly celebratory, but they aren't technically seasonal. Neither gefilte fish nor keeping kosher are Hanukkah-specific.

If you love a pun (and I do) may I also suggest these?

Share this image
"Chewish" Hanukkah Dog Toys.

"Chewish," guys. "Chewish."

So these are my finds. None of these items need to be chucked out with the tree or stored with the wreath.

What did your pup get for Christmas? Did you dress him or her in a tacky sweaters? Post photos in the comments!

Hitting the post-holiday sales? Use these as your guide:

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/holiday-gifts-christmas-hanukkah-dog-toys-beds-sweaters
<![CDATA[Interior Designer Kari Whitman Makes Custom Dog Beds to Fund Her Rescue ]]> When it come to humans, Los Angeles-based interior designer Kari Whitman's client list can certainly be described as A-list. She's created spaces for Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Emilio Estevez, and other stars, but the dogs she's creating new futures for are far from famous. As the founder of Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue, Whitman saves unwanted pups from death row.
Share this image

"I just pulled four dogs today, a Pointer and her puppy, and a couple little Terriers," she explains during an interview she managed to squeeze into an already jam-packed schedule. "They were all going to die today."

Those dogs now join the thousands who have been saved through Ace of Hearts over the years. Whitman's rescue has given many animals the gift of a future, and her skills as a designer are helping to fund the rescue of even more pets thorough her eco-friendly dog bed line, Greener Pup.

Share this image
This lucky pup is Maddie, one of the Terriers saved by Whitman's organization.

Whitman says using dogs beds to fund dog rescue was an idea that evolved from a request she received frequently during her interior design work.

"A lot of my clients were asking me to make custom beds for their house that match the rooms," she says.

After realizing the appetite for quality dog beds amongst her clients, Whitman launched the non-profit Greener Pup five years ago while working with a similarly eco-minded celebrity.

Share this image
The custom bed Whitman designed for Jessica Alba's adorable dogs. (Photo courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors)

"I started Greener Pup when I was doing Jessica Alba's house," she explains. "I wanted to make her some really cool dog beds."

After incorporating the eco-friendly bed design into the star's home, Whitman quickly expanded on the project, sourcing recycled materials to make her Greener Pup beds as green as possible.

"The inside of the bed is filled with recycled plastic bottles," says the designer, who uses a technique similar to a cotton candy machine to turn the plastic into fluffy bedding. "We use anywhere from 100 to 150 plastic bottles that would have been dumped in the landfills."

Using plastic as a stuffing material is not only good for the environment, it's also good for the dogs. The plastic is hypoallergenic, so dogs don't get itchy. Whitman says dust mites and fleas can't live on it either.

While the inside of the beds are stuffed with plastic, the outside of the beds feature high-end fabric seconds, which also would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

Share this image
A beautiful Bulldog relaxes on a Greener Pup bed finished in the signature earth fabric. (Photo courtesy of Greener Pup's Facebook Page)

"The earth fabric is our signature fabric, and all the other fabrics are unique fabrics donated by fabric companies. You can choose your own cover," says Whitman. "We just get whatever we get, and it sells out."

The production of the beds extends the life of the the recyclable materials, while the purchase of them extends the life of shelter dogs. Every cent of Greener Pup's profits funds Ace of Hearts. The rescue organization -- created in the memory of Whitman's own rescue dog, Ace -- focuses on rescuing shelter dogs scheduled for euthanasia.

"L.A. has the highest kill rate in the country: 500 dogs a day," says Whitman.

The profits from the Greener Pup dog beds are helping Ace of Hearts save dogs slated for euthanasia by moving them out of shelters and into loving foster homes until their forever homes are found.

"When you purchase a bed, you get a letter saying where the money goes," Whitman explains. "Usually it's about one particular dog."

The organization typically has about 70 dogs in foster care. Some of the dogs need a lot of care, including special medical needs.

Whitman's own dog, Hank the Tank, is one of the ones with special needs. The 165-pound Mastiff moves with the help of a cart. He requires a great deal of care and attention, which is why he is her only dog.

Share this image
Hank relaxes while surrounded by an artfully designed interior. (Photo courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors)

Hank is certainly a big boy, but Whitman and the rest of the team at Ace of Hearts are used to dealing with larger-breed dogs. "We specialize in American Bulldogs because Ace was American Bulldog-Staffordshire mix," she explains.

Whitman obviously has a soft spot in her heart for larger bully breeds, but her beds are giving breeds of all sizes a soft place to rest. According to the Greener Pup website, her company wants all dogs to get a good night sleep, regardless of their family’s financial status. That's why Greener Pup offers a 20-percent discount to dog owners receiving government assistance. Greener Pup's website also offers 25 percent off to dog owners purchasing a bed for a rescue dog.

Through Greener Pup, Whitman is helping plenty of dogs get the best sleep of their lives, and through Ace of Hearts, she's helping rescue dogs find new lives. Her stylish efforts to save the environment while saving dogs make Whitman a hero to people and pups alike.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/kari-whitman-greener-pup-dog-rescue-eco-friendly-dog-beds
<![CDATA[Check Out Lilikoi and Rella, Doggy Supermodels ]]> Lilikoi and Rella are two fluff-ball Pomeranians who like to bill themselves as "doggy supermodels." It's a lofty claim, but one quick glance through their online lookbook confirms their assertion, as these Hawaiian-born pups dress up in some of the most vivid and fantastical outfits around.

Here's a radiant run-through of Lilikoi and Rella's most eye-catching pics.

Share this image
(All photos courtesy of Lilikoi and Rella's Facebook page)

Sometimes the Facebook photo caption says it all: "What can we get you to drink? Pomtinis and Mutt-Tais are our favorite drink! Pomalicious!"

Share this image

When the mood strikes, Lilikoi and Rella like to dress up as world famous Spameranians. They even have an acronym for the foodstuff that breaks down as Super, Pomtastic, Amazing, and Musubis!

Share this image

The weather outside might be frightful, but these pups are sure delightful.

Share this image

Christmas in Hawaii involves sand Santas!

Share this image

Two Poms in a bag that also features pictures of another six Pom pups is truly pomtastic, as Lilikoi and Rella would say.

Share this image

All blinged and bedazzled up but with nowhere to go!

Check out more pix we love:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pomeraniams-lilikoi-rella-cute-dog-pictures
<![CDATA[11 Great Dog Calendars for 2015]]> We are rapidly coming to the end of 2014. I know this because of the three calendars surrounding my desk, every single one of them dog-themed! I bet you have at least one calendar that you or someone on your holiday shopping list needs to replace for the new year. That makes this the perfect time to share my favorite dog-themed calendars for 2015.

1. McCartney's Dogs

Share this image
Soda Jerk (Photo courtesy of Mike McCartney)

Canine artist Mike McCartney has been creating calendars since 2002, and he tells us that each one takes about 20 weeks, with him working eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week to put it together. He shared the above image with us, which can be found in his 2015 calendar. Look at the detail. No wonder it takes so long!

2. Pawprints on Your Soul

Share this image
BZTAT Calendar Art (Photo courtesy of BZTAT Studios)

This calendar features works by contemporary artist BZTAT. Each beautifully unique portrait is digitally manipulated by using a variety of mobile-app filters.

3. The Amazing Dog Show

Share this image
Calendar cover (Photo courtesy of

Featuring fantastical images by photographer Lisa Jane, this calendar takes you inside the wonderful world of an all-dog three-ring circus. The strongman -- I mean strongpup -- acrobats, clowns, and ringmaster all make an appearance.

4. Harlow and Indiana

Share this image
Calendar cover photo (Photo courtesy of the Harlow and Sage Facebook page)

This adorably expressive duo has won the hearts of followers on Facebook and Instagram. Now they have a calendar, too. For their most dedicated fans, there is even an appearance by Sage, who has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and their newest addition to the pack, Reese Lightening.

5. Monika Melnychuk

Share this image
January's artwork (Photo courtesy of Monika Melnychuk's Facebook page)

Illustrator Monika Melnychuk brings out the personality of our favorite breeds. At her Etsy shop, she lists one of her hobbies as "dog herding," and her love of animals shows in her work.

6. Bick's Pits

Share this image
Bick's Pits (Photo courtesy of Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation Facebook page)

Earlier this month, we highlighted Dogster Heroes the Boston Bruins and the team's 2015 calendar to raise money for shelter dogs. They aren't the only hockey players looking out for pups. Chicago Blackhawk Bryan Bickell and his wife, Amanda, run a foundation that helps increase awareness about the positive nature of Pit Bulls, including the work they do with the foundation to help abused children. Bick's Pits 2015 Calendar pairs up his teammates with adoptable Pit Bulls to support the foundation's efforts.

7. Flower Power

Share this image
Cali (Photo courtesy of Sophie Gamand Photography's Facebook page)

When photographer Sophie Gamand put flowered headbands on Pit Bulls looking for their forever homes and posted her pictures on social media, we all melted. Gamand's series of photos were meant to present these dogs in a different light and to fight the prejudices that the breed often endures. A collection of these beautiful photographs can be found in a calendar that raises money to benefit the three rescue groups whose dogs are featured in the series: Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Second Chance Rescue, and Animal Haven.

8. Who Rescued Whom?

Share this image
2015 calendar (Photo courtesy of

"Who rescued whom?" It's a question asked by anyone who has given a forever home to a rescue animal. This calendar features the touching stories and pictures of 12 former shelter dogs and their humans. Proceeds benefit the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.

9. Tiny Dog

Share this image
The Tiny Calendar (Photo courtesy of Teresa Berg Photography Facebook page)

The dogs in this tiny calendar, 5x10 inches, would make even the Grinch's heart grow bigger! Teresa Berg, a Dallas-based artist, designs this stocking-stuffer-size calendar each year to support local animal rescues.

10. A Dog's Life

Share this image
A Dog's Life (Photo courtesy of Papryus)

Illustrator Gemma Correll highlights the parts of our dog's personality that make us giggle, moan, and then giggle again. From the ongoing cycle of eating, throwing up, and eating again, to those accidents on the rug that your pup sees as "just a misunderstanding," Correll shows us the funnier side of pup antics that sometimes make us crazy.

11. I Could Chew on This

Share this image
Calendar cover (courtesy of

Author Francesco Marciuliano's book of the same name inspired this humorous calendar. Inside, you will find portraits of mischievous pups along with poems that, in their own words, help you to better understand their behavior or, better yet, misbehavior.

Let us know what your favorite dog calendar is and why in the comments!

Read more gift guides on Dogster:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/2015-dog-calendars-rescue-dogs-adoption
<![CDATA[14 Super-Deluxe Holiday Gifts for Dogs and Their Owners]]> They say money can't buy you love, and while that's certainly true in the case of your dog -- who, let's be real, just wants you to give her kisses, treats, long walks, and lots and lots of scratches -- that doesn't mean you don't want to pamper your pup once in a while. And what better excuse than the holidays to go all out with a totally indulgent gift she'll either love forever... or totally ignore. (Oh, dogs.)

We found 14 luxurious gifts (and one or two for the dog lovers in your life) that range from practical to indulgent to completely over the top. And if these don't fit into your budget, no worries: Your dog is bound to love that old tennis ball you found under the couch just as much as she would any of these things. Well, except maybe the diamond collar.

1. Luxe Upholstered Dog Bed from Restoration Hardware

Share this image

Whether it's an industrial-style bed with swiveling casters or a bed fit for a king (Louis XVI, to be exact), Restoration Hardware's pet beds will make pups (and owners) feel very pampered indeed.

$379 to $649 at Restoration Hardware

2. PetziConnect from Petzilla

Share this image

Now you never have to be apart from your pup again. Well ... kinda. PetziConnect is a magical device that allows owners to remotely "see" (video), "speak to" (audio), "snap" (take pictures and videos of), and, wait for it ... "treat" (dispense treats). Yup, you can tell Spot to "sit" and then give him a treat for doing it, all from the comfort of your cubicle 25 miles away. All you need is Wi-Fi in your house and a smart device. The future is here. It's not available until January 2015, but this one is so cool that we're sure whoever you gift it to will be more than happy to wait.

$169 at Petzilla (in January)

3. Diamond Scotty Dog Pendant from Tiny Treasures  

Share this image

If you know a Scotty lover (or fine, probably ANY dog lover), this 18K white-gold and diamond Scotty Dog pendant made by Venetian jewelry designer Roberto Coin will make the perfect gift for her. You also can choose from an owl, frog, or butterfly, so there's likely something for all the animal lovers in your life. Or at least the ones you love a lot -- A LOT a lot.

$1,160 at Roberto Coin

4. Bulldog Cuff Links from Tateossian

Share this image

And for the dude dog lover in your life -- Bulldog cuff links crafted from precisely textured metal and fiberglass with faceted Swarovski crystal eyes, of course. These might actually make him look forward to putting on a suit. Maybe.

$185 at Neiman Marcus

5. My Pet Speaker from Pet Acoustics

Share this image

Sure, YOU love to bounce around the bedroom to Taylor Swift, but did you ever think about the fact that your dog hears frequencies that are way out of our range and therefore might actually experience pain when listening to your music? My Pet Speaker is designed to eliminate those unsettling frequencies. Though, unfortunately, there is nothing it can do about your singing.

$249 at Trixie + Peanut

6. Cashmere Pet Pillow from the Elegant Hare

Share this image

Is it a little indulgent? Sure. But just think about how much you love the feel of a great cashmere sweater. Are you really going to keep that amazingness from your dog? Plus, this particular pillow is argyle on one side and light blue on the other, so it's like two pillows for the price of, well ... a lot more than that. Still: cashmere!

$199 at Elegant Hare

7. Maggie Ottoman from Soft Surroundings

Share this image

It's a dog house. It's an ottoman. It's an end table. It's a dog house that's an ottoman that's an end table? Now your tired dogs and your tired dog can all take a load off in the same place. Chic.

$199 to $299 at Soft Surroundings

8. Custom Pet Painting from Design by Matea

Share this image

Just send in your favorite photo, and this artist will turn it into a 30-by-30-inch piece of original art using fun patterns and colors. You know you want to!

$1,500 at Design by Matea on Etsy

9. Large Dog Blueprints from Uncommon Goods

Share this image

Created in the style of mid-century blueprints (designed by architect "I. M. Paws"), this detailed illustration of your chosen breed is accompanied by "design specs" and documentation about breed origins and temperament, comes framed at 24-by-33 inches, and it has a definite sophisticated vibe.

$265 at Uncommon Goods

10. Dog Carrier from Louis Vuitton

Share this image

Sure, $2,690 is an inordinate amount to spend on a pet carrier. Unless you have to carry your dog every single day? Maybe? The good news: The carrier comes in LV's monogrammed canvas, so at least everyone will know you spent a ton of money on it. Oh, and it's resistant to water and scratches and has a washable lining, all good things since your pooch will have no idea he's in one of the most expensive dog carriers known to man.

$2,690 at Louis Vuitton

11. Outdoor Dog Chaise Lounger from Sharper Image

Share this image

Sure, it's chilly outside now (in most parts of the country), but the warm weather will be here soon enough and doesn't Miss Muffinhead deserve a comfy spot in the shade while lounging next to you poolside? Now fetch her a glass of water. Please.

$299.99 at Sharper Image

12. Burley Tail Wagon Pet Stroller/Bike Trailer

Share this image

Sure your dog loves to run around, but probably he also really likes to be carried. Now you can take him everywhere you go -- even on those long walks and bike rides -- because this pet stroller converts into a bike trailer. It even has a weatherproof cover to protect against rain and snow. No more excuses about how you can't go on a long hike because Buster will be too tired. #sorry

$399 at REI

13. Dog Leash from Gucci

Share this image

This 47-inch leash comes in Gucci's signature green/red/green pattern with black leather trim, and while Tiger won't have a clue he's on the end of such a fancy leash, all the dog moms at the park are sure to notice. Hopefully?

$530 from Gucci

14. Diamond Dog Collar from La Jeune Tulipe 

Share this image

This La Jeune Tulipe dog collar features a 1.52-carat marquise-cut diamond along with an intricate arrangement of a bunch of other diamonds because, like the saying goes, "Diamonds are a dog's best friend." Or something like that.

$150,000 at the Posh Puppy Boutique

Share your gift suggestions! 

Found any great gifts for dogs and their owners? Share the bounty in the comments!

Read more holiday gift guides on Dogster:

About the Author: Daisy Barringer grew up in San Francisco and didn't let the fact that she's a city girl keep her from getting her dream dog: a Saint Bernard. She and Monkey love to romp in the snow in Tahoe, visit dog-friendly bars, watch 49ers football, and drool. Yup, both of 'em.

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/luxury-gifts-dogs-owners-christmas-hanukkah-shopping
<![CDATA[With Slobber Dog Toys, Teen Entrepreneur Gives Back to Homeless Pets]]> While most eight-year-old boys might spend their free time playing video games, hanging out with friends, riding bikes, or playing sports, animal lover Cole Amyx decided to start his own dog toy company. Like most entrepreneurs, the idea for his business came from seeing a need and trying to fill it -- in this case, finding inexpensive and long-lasting toys for his beloved dogs, Jack and Dixie.

Share this image

"I wanted to buy some toys for my dogs, but they were expensive and didn't last," says Cole, now 16. "My mom worked part-time at a tennis club, so she would bring home tennis balls, and our dogs really liked playing with them. We thought we could make a better toy than the ones at the store, so we decided to makes our own by running fabric through holes punched in the tennis balls. We used fleece because we found out it’s good for dogs' teeth and helps keep them clean."

Like any strategic businessperson, Cole made sure to test his products on prospective customers -- in this case, Jack and Dixie, who went crazy chewing and playing tug of war with the toys. In fact, Jack loved the toys so much he'd slobber profusely whenever he played with them. And thus, Slobber Dog Toys was born.

Many good businesses start out small, so Cole decided to first sell his toys at the local dog park in his hometown of Houston, testing out the waters and seeing how much interest he'd generate. It wasn't until he saw a TV program about homeless animals that Cole was inspired to take his venture to another, more meaningful level.

Share this image
Cole at age 9 with his late dog Jack, the inspiration for Slobber Dog toys. (All photos courtesy of Cole Amyx)

"Not long after I started selling the toys, I was watching a show on Animal Planet where these starving dogs were eating leaves and twigs to survive," says Cole. "It really unsettled me, because I don't think any living thing should be hungry and thirsty. So I thought I should donate part of my proceeds to help animals with food and shelter, and hopefully I would make a difference."

Determined to help any way he could, Cole promptly reached out to the Houston SPCA, Citizens for Animal Protection, and BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions, and he offered to donate one dollar from the sale of every toy to help the animals in their care.

"I thought it would be a good option to help organizations in my local community because Houston is my home and I want to make it a better place," says Cole. "[The organizations] have been very grateful and happy for all the help. Sometimes I donate the money to help a particular dog that needs heartworm treatments or surgery, so they can get healthy and get adopted."

Share this image
Jack enjoyed his role as product tester for Slobber Dog Toys.

Eight years later, he says he's sold about 4,000 toys, with $4,000 funneled into Houston's animal welfare community.

So what do his friends and family think about Cole's business and philanthropic efforts? Soft-spoken and humble, Cole says he doesn't like to tell his friends about Slobber Dog because he doesn't want to appear as if he's bragging. But according to Kathleen Amyx, her son's good works haven't gone unnoticed with his family or at his school.

"Cole's aunt and godmother teaches accounting at his high school, and she often uses him as an example in her class," says Kathleen. "She'll pull up his website for her students to look at and say, 'this eight-year-old created this dog toy business, and [now] he goes to school here.' That way, the students can make a connection [with what they're learning] and see that it's real."

Share this image
Cole, now 16, and his dog Eddie.

But when the local news media got wind of Cole's charitable activities and featured him in a news story that aired nationally, that's when Slobber Dog orders began really taking off.

"Our orders were crazy after that, and it was a lot of work," says Cole. "We even got some orders from Canada!"

While sales have since tapered down as Cole's attention has turned to the demands of schoolwork and college applications, he hopes to continue running Slobber Dog and helping homeless animals well into the foreseeable future. But whatever may come of his toy venture, Cole says that the learning experience has been invaluable to him at such a young age.

"Aside from learning how to help the community and being generous, I've learned a lot about how business works, about handling money and managing stuff," he says. "Right now, I can't really say for sure where Slobber Dog is going to go in the future, but I'd like to keep it around as long as I can."

You can help him do that, as well as help homeless dogs in Houston, by shopping at Slobber Dog Toys. The small toy costs just $4, and the large $5.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:45:00 -0800 /lifestyle/slobber-dog-toys-cole-amyx-dog-rescue-adoption