Friday, January 30, 2015

Dog anal gland woes: When everything goes wrong with your dog's backside

Sinead the Boston terrier sitting in my lap

Sinead is quite particular about the back end of her body. She doesn't like to be examined back there, and she certainly doesn't like to have her hind end manipulated in any way. But, she had to deal with both things a week or so ago, because one of her anal glands grew to a gigantic size.

From what I understand, anal glands work a little like scent markers. They're designed to transmit information about the dog's health when that dog has a bowel movement. In healthy dogs, those glands get expressed with every bowel movement. But sometimes, the glands get blocked or backed up in some way. And when they do, the results are pretty damn hard to miss.

I noticed that Sinead had a problem when she was sitting on my lap, facing out toward my feet. Her backside was absolutely crimson in color, and one side of her body was swollen, too.

I've read up on anal glands, so I knew a little about how to express them. So I got out the towels, put her in position and pressed on the swollen spot. This wee dog whipped around so fast that I couldn't even keep hold of her, and she was ready to fight me to keep me from touching her again.

Then, off she ran to the corner to sit down, so I couldn't even look at her bum.

Sinead the Boston terrier sitting down

While Sinead is more than willing to fight me when she doesn't want me to deal with her body in some way, she's often docile at the veterinarian's office. I think she knows that they can call in reinforcements, if she gets out of line. So, off to the office we went.

Within a few minutes, they had Sinead's glands pressed out and flushed, and they gave her a shot of antibiotics, too, in case she had an infection along with the blockage. She also got some painkiller medications, as she felt pretty miserable at the end of this poking and prodding.

I did a little research on this issue, hoping all the while that I wouldn't have to change Sinead's diet. Liam has a super sensitive stomach (which I've written about in this blog post), so my options for dog food are a little limited. Any food she eats he has to tolerate, too, or I'll have a queasy dog on my hands.

As it turns out, Sinead might not need a new food, but she does need a little more fiber in her diet. The idea is to bulk things up back there, so the glands will be under a little more pressure when she heads out in the morning for her poo sessions. So I'm adding pumpkin to her meals.

Since I also take Sinead to the groomer for nail trims (since she just will not let me do it, as I wrote about in this blog post), I may need to ask that team to check on her glands, too. They might be able to express them routinely, so they won't have a chance to get blocked.

Sinead the Boston terrier plays with her keys

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that Sinead has recovered from this episode quite nicely. She's back to chewing on her keys, running around and sitting on my lap. But I will be watching her carefully, just to make sure her healing stays on track!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In the news: Antifreeze poisoning in West Salem kills 9 cats

Jasper the cat sitting outside

Cats who hop around outside (like Jasper) can be a neighbor nuisance. They might poop in another person's garden, mark another person's house or spark conflict with cats or dogs who are trapped inside. In general, it's better to keep cats inside.

But sometimes, we cat rescuers don't have the luxury of keeping our wee ones inside. That's the dilemma my husband and I face, and we do our part to make sure our old cats don't push our neighbors to the limit. We've also signed an informal in-house agreement, promising that we won't have any more outdoor cats in the future.

And early this month, that agreement began to seem downright necessary.

In one west Salem neighborhood, many families had cats who roamed freely. They did the traditional cat things I've described up top (I presume), and one neighbor was more than a little upset about that. He wanted to keep the kitties out of his yard, so he allegedly mixed some cat food with antifreeze and put those bowls of food out for the cats.

At the end of this episode, at least nine dead cats were connected to this case. And the man was charged with one count of first-degree aggregated animal abuse. (Here's a link to an article about his arrest.)

Antifreeze poisoning is a truly terrible sentence to impose on a cat. The list of symptoms associated with even a half of a tablespoon includes wobbling, vomiting and seizures. Early reports of this particular poisoning case suggested that children found their cats behaving like this, and some of those children had their beloved pets die in their arms.

That same early report suggests that the man who allegedly poisoned these cats didn't realize that the creatures would suffer so or that they'd take so long to die. Apparently, he thought the whole thing would be over in minutes.

But whether the death is painless and fast or long and agonizing, it's still a crime. And it also seems really unnecessary. People who dislike cats roaming free should talk with their neighbors before they bust out the weaponry. If the neighbors won't change, cat-proofing steps can include:
  • Putting up a fence
  • Using chicken wire to cover bare ground
  • Strewing shavings of soap around areas in which the cats are banned
  • Installing motion-activated sprinklers
  • Getting a dog 

Seriously, there are scads of steps to take that don't involve poisoning an animal. I'm just horrified that this person (allegedly) didn't think of them or try them first. The loss of life sickens me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday blog hop: Liam the pug snuggled up for winter

Liam the pug snuggled up

This week, I'm trying something new: A wordless blog hop! So here's Liam, hoping winter will be over soon.

While it's true that pugs have a great deal of fur, and they have been known to do very well in cold climates, they also dislike chilled rooms. Liam has been spending much of his time huddled under blankets or pressed up to people. He's cold, and he's looking for relief. Who can blame him?

I could help by turning up the heat in the rooms we're sitting in. But, Liam is just as happy with heated beds and cuddly blankets. They're easy to provide, and they're easy on my pocketbook, too.

So that's what we're doing. What about you? Love to hear your winter plans. 

Check out the other blogs in this hop for more animal cuteness!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Liam's pug book club: Reviewing Margo Kaufman's story of Clara

Liam the pug posing next to a book

Full disclosure: Liam the pug can't read. But, he can weigh in on specific aspects of a book, especially if I read things to him. And we'll put that skill to the test this week, as he helps me to review Margo Kaufman's book "Clara: The Story of the Pug That Ruled My Life."

The book's jacket suggested that this would be a great little read for people who love pugs. Liam and I would agree, up to a point. You see, the last fourth of the book has to do with the author's interest in adopting a child from another country. It's an important subject to the author and to her husband, but really, the paperwork and legal wrangling that comes with an adoption has nothing to do with pugs.

So Liam and I skipped the final fourth of the book. If you're hoping to read exclusively about pugs, I'd suggest that you do the same. Or, if you'd like to read about international adoption and skip the whole pug thing, jump on back to the last 100+ pages of the book and start there. Hardly any pug mentions appear there.

When Kaufman does talk about one of her pugs, Clara, she's remarkably accurate. For example, she spends a significant amount of time discussing how much Clara likes to have her photograph taken, and how willing she is to pose for the camera. Clearly, this is a description that resonates with Liam. Look how well he's posing next to the book! And I didn't even have treats!

But the trouble is that Kaufman had two pugs, and the mentions of the other (Sophie) don't seem either loving nor flattering. Kaufman suggests that Sophie is slightly demented, more than a little annoying and hard to live with. She says Sophie "...exasperates me more than any living creature..." and those are sentences I just don't enjoy reading. I kept wondering why she didn't invest in better training, better treats, more exercise or better solutions. And if that failed, I wondered why she didn't work to find Sophie a home in which she was loved. Endless descriptions of Sophie's faults hit me wrong, and reading the sentences aloud caused Liam to do a lot of head tipping (I think he was wondering what I was mad about). For us, these were hard passages to ignore.

In the end, this isn't a book Liam or I would recommend for people who are trying to learn about the pug breed. Kaufman was a gifted writer, and she knew how to turn some serious sentences, but her hateful descriptions and long tangents made this a less-than-ideal read for people hoping to get a glimpse of life with a pug.

Liam hopes I'll pick a better book for his next review. I'll certainly try! Any suggestions?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Maggie's cat mouth ulcer update: Break out the confetti! It's good news!

Maggie the cat in her bed

A week or so ago, I wrote up a blog post about a "suspicious" spot I'd found deep in Maggie's mouth. At the time, her veterinarian didn't want to do a biopsy on that spot, as it looked like she had an infection going on. Poking a needle into that pocket didn't seem like a good idea. So she got a shot of antibiotics, and I was told to watch her carefully.

This is what the spot looked like then.

Maggie the cat and her rodent ulcer

This is what the spot looks like now.
Maggie the cat and her ulcer

You'll notice that she's much more willing to open her mouth up, and a lot of the redness and inflammation has gone away. In addition, the top of her mouth has completely healed up. Now she just has a little bit of pinkness going on at the corners of her mouth.

So what's going on here?

It's hard to tell without doing a full biopsy, and that's something we may end up doing if the mouth doesn't fully heal up. But there are some theories.

Firstly, she could be dealing with something super simple, like an abscess. Maggie sometimes eats snacks she finds on the floor, like bits of corn chips and edges of carrots. She also likes to play with plants, including a fern that has some spiky leaves. It could be that she was poked in the mouth, and that poke turned into an abscess that has healed due to antibiotics.

Second, she could be dealing with a more serious form of a cat ulcer. I've written about this before, but Maggie has a form of autoimmune disorder that allows her body to attack the tissues of her mouth. It isn't at all unusual for her to get very painful sores on her lip that don't want to heal up, and after a few weeks, they seem to go away like magic. It could be that she's now getting these ulcers inside of her mouth instead of on her lip. That means I'll need to go on the hunt for a new type of food that she won't react to. I'm working on that now.

And, of course, she could still be dealing with cancer. That seems unlikely at this point, since the spot is getting so much smaller with antibiotics, but I'm watching closely.

At this point, though, I have reason to be optimistic that Maggie will be here for many more years to come. And that's great!

Maggie the cat resting

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Friday, January 23, 2015

January 2015 BarkBox Review: Dog toys and dog treats are great fun for all!

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toys

Our BarkBox for January of 2015 has some pretty awesome selections. We haven't tried them all yet, but here's what I know about the things Liam and Sinead have tried.

BarkMade Wooly Mammoth 

This super-cute toy is Sinead's new favorite thing. Ever since it came out of the box, she's been trying and trying to get me to throw this toy. And when she brings it back, she likes to play a little mini game of tug. I was a little worried about that at first, as these big tusks look like they'd be super easy to rip off, but so far, this toy has held up to some pretty rough play. I'm impressed!

Aussie Naturals Salmon Skin Treat

These treats contain skin of some pretty darn stinky fish. Not surprisingly, these treats aren't wonderful to sniff. But the dogs really don't agree with me. In fact, I think the smell of these treats is what drove them wild when I opened this box.

Check out Liam's puckered mouth here. He's ready to howl for treats!

Liam the pug is caught mid-howl

I solved the smell problem by storing these treats in a glass container with a screw-down lid. I can't smell them, and they're easy to get to. And since the dogs love them so much, I can see us ordering more of these fishies in the future.

Delca Corp Adorable Snowman

Yay for BarkBoxes with two toys! It makes things so much easier.

This second toy looks like the snowman from the 1970s stop-motion Rudolph cartoon, complete with a blue face and hands. But I didn't get a chance to get a good look at this thing, because Liam was really interested in trying to kill it.

Notice Lucy and Sinead fleeing from the action in the background here. Liam takes his play very seriously!

Complete Natural Nutrition Off-Leash Twigs 

I love dental treats like this. They take a long time for the dogs to eat, which means they're ideal for those days when guests are coming and peace and quiet is required. These treats look really interesting, too, as they're made of turkey *and* pumpkin. I'll bet the dogs will love them, although we haven't tried them out quite yet.

Heartland Premium Rib

I'll review this treat in a later blog post. In fact, I'll probably write this little treat up after the Super Bowl. While I'll be snacking on chips and treats, I'll let the dogs snack on this bone. Watch for updates!

Don't have your own BarkBox yet? Use my code! You and I will both get a discount.

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Maggie's "suspicious" cat mouth tumor

Maggie the cat sitting on the table

Trust me: The word "suspicious" isn't a word you want used in relation to any kind of lump or bump you find on a cat. But that's the term that's being tossed around about a spot deep inside my Maggie's mouth, and at this point, I'm not quite sure what we'll do about it.

The whole saga started on Saturday morning, when Maggie threw up her breakfast (all over the wall, by the way). Projectile vomiting isn't something I take lightly, so I prized open Maggie's mouth to pop in some hairball medications.

Now, these photos are blurry, but here's a peek at what I found.

Maggie and her ucler inside of her mouth

There's a great, big, red, angry spot on the back of her mouth, right by her teeth. Off to the vet we went.

To say I was shocked is probably an understatement. Maggie is a very good-natured and cheerful cat. She always tries to put a good spin on things, and she rarely makes a fuss. So I didn't see many signs of illness prior to finding this spot. She's been playful, affectionate and cheerful. She's been eating a little less and sleeping a little more, but that's about it.

She was a peach during her exam, too, letting the doctor hold her mouth wide open while we looked.

Performing an oral check on a cat's mouth

But unfortunately, what we saw looked a little like a tumor. It's big, fleshy and open. That's when the word "suspicious" came into play. Speckles and spots like this look a lot like cancer.

But, the spot also looked a little green and infected. That means it wasn't a great time to take a biopsy. Doing so could allow the infection to spread, and it might make healing hard for her.

So I was sent home with antibiotics and strict instructions to watch my girl. A best-case (but unlikely) scenario would be that the spot I saw was some kind of ruptured abscess, and if it was, she'd heal up with the help of the meds. But instead, I'm seeing a worst-case scenario.

That bump is a little less green, but it's still very much in place. And Miss Maggie doesn't want me to look in her mouth anymore. She's not eating very well. And she is struggling with her voice, it seems. I'm wondering if this is cancer, and if so, if it's spreading.

So we're headed back to the office on Friday, Miss Maggie and I, and I'll see what the next steps are for her. Squamous cell carcinomas in cats are staggeringly difficult to treat, from what I understand, and Maggie hid hers (if that's what it is) for so long that the treatment options are limited.

I'm not sure what will happen.

Update: It was not cancer. Yay! See more here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Liam demonstrates the pug temperament with photos

Liam the pug sitting in his chair

Last week, I wrote up a post about the Boston terrier temperament, using Sinead as a model. This week, it's Liam's turn to demonstrate what's awesome about his breed. For those of you who just adore the pug temperament, this should be a fun one.

It's worth repeating that dogs are individuals, and that dogs of the same breed can be radically different from one another. As a result, the behaviors Liam demonstrates might not be the same as the kooky bits other pugs throw around. But, Liam is a pretty typical pug, and I'd like to think he's a good ambassador for the breed.

And these are the traits he displays most often.

Extreme loyalty 

Liam the pug sitting at my feet

Liam is a true Velcro pug. He feels most comfortable when he's about 6 inches away from my feet. If I move farther away, he'll move too. If I go somewhere, he wants to go, too. And if I leave to go somewhere, my husband tells me that Liam will wait by the door until I come back.

The American Kennel Club says pugs live to be close to their people, and that's a trait that's been bred into them. These guys have never been given a job, like chasing down prey or guarding the home. They've been shaped to please people, and that's a job in which they excel.

That's why I think it's vital for people who want to adopt pugs to plan on having small shadows, 100 percent of the time. These guys lurk.

Persistent laziness 

Liam the pug yawning

Liam goes on two walks per day, and it's not at all unusual for him to get a case of the pug zoomies at night. He can be surprisingly agile and athletic, when he chooses to be.

But unless there's something interesting happening, Liam would prefer to be either sitting or lying down. Where Sinead will run after a ball for hours, explore the yard on her own for hours and otherwise stay on her feet for the majority of the day, Liam expends his energy in little bursts and rests between bouts.

It's possible that this inherent laziness stands behind the high rates of obesity in these cobby little dogs. Other blogs suggest that this is the top health concern among pugs, and from what I've seen, I believe it. If left alone, the average pug simply won't expend any energy on blowing calories. They'd rather sleep. 

Fondness for food 

Liam the pug lives to eat

Which leads me to my next point: Pugs love to eat.

I have yet to find a treat that Liam won't eat. The same goes for dog chow, dead things in the yard, crumbs dropped on the floor.... If it seems like something that could be eaten, he's all too happy to eat it. And when he spots food, he's very hard to redirect. He will keep pointing at that food and trying to get that food, no matter what I might say.

Working on the "drop it" command is a vital part of having a pug, and that's work I continue with to this day. But it also means that no animals Liam live with can be free-range feeders, and neither can he. It also means that serving food on low coffee tables, even at parties, is forbidden. If given the option, Liam will eat it. Every time.

Fondness for others 

Liam the pug meeting a friendly pug

Liam is, by far, the friendliest dog I've ever come across. He loves other dogs (even if those dogs are angry and are barking at him with fury), he loves all cats, he adores kids and he'll do anything to meet strange people. He is certain that everyone will love him, and he is desperate to prove it.

That should mean taking him anywhere would be a pleasure. After all, everyone loves a friendly dog. But, it's the depth of that love that gets Liam in trouble. He can simply overwhelm others with his need for love and affection, and some of the people he meets aren't really excited about being covered in pug hair.

Taking Liam to pug meetups is an ideal solution, as most of the other pugs there feel the same way he does. And most of the humans there love him, too. But sometimes, he simply must stay home for other outings, because it's hard to keep his enthusiasm under control.

The bottom line

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier

Pugs and Boston terriers are very different, in terms of their temperament and habits. But I have a hard time picking a favorite. I think they both have so much to offer, and their gifts are just really different.

Do you agree? Write me a comment, or visit my Facebook fan page and tell me more!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thinking of getting another cat? Answer these 5 questions first

Blind cat senior cat
When I brought Lucy home, all those years ago, it brought my total cat household tally to three. (And isn't she cute here? This was before her surgery, when she still had lovely little mascara marks. I miss those a little.)

When I got married, I added several more cats to the total. (It was sort of a package thing.)

Right now, I have a total of five cats under my care. And to me, that seems like a lot. I know I'm at my own personal capacity.

But I'll admit to pangs when I volunteer at the local cat shelter. There are so many cats that need homes and help, and sometimes, I'm tempted to provide that assistance myself.

So I thought it might be useful to pull together some thoughts on responsible cat ownership, and how one could determine if the current cat quota was too big or just right. Here are the questions I ask myself.

1. Can I afford to give another cat premium cat food?

I'm a firm believer that the quality of food you put into a cat is directly related to the health and longevity of said cat in the future. That's why I don't shop the bargain bin for cat food. I research a brand, ensure that it has an ingredient list that will work for my cats, and I buy it. If, by adding in another cat, I can't follow those steps, that's a sign that I have too many.

2. Can I afford to cover veterinarian costs for all of the cats?

Routine care for multiple cats can add up, especially when you consider flea control and periodic vaccinations. But cats also sometimes need emergency care, and it's not unusual for aging cats to need very expensive treatments (which is something I'm dealing with right now). If I can't provide that to all cats, I really shouldn't add in any more.

3. Can I provide playtime and affection to all the cats? 

Felines can seem solitary and isolated, as though they don't need anything from their human counterparts. But all of my cats seem to need their private time with me. They need to play, they need to be groomed and they need a little love and lap time, too. Having too many cats means someone get shorted from the love and affection that's required, and that can lead to all sorts of problems, including fighting and litterbox woes. If I don't have time to kill right now, I shouldn't get more cats.

4. Is there room in my home for all of my cats? 

In general, cats seem to like to claim a space and protect it against intruders. That means many cats simply don't like to share too much space with other animals. If my home is really small, I may not be able to carve out a space for a new pet, and that could (again) lead to cat fighting. Without a ton of added room, I may not be able to add a cat.

5. Are my current cats getting along?

Since overcrowding leads to behavior problems, it's worthwhile to really assess how well the current crop is interacting. If everyone is playing nicely, cuddling periodically and avoiding fighting, I might have a good number of cats. If I'm already seeing some crankiness, I certainly shouldn't get more.

I know this isn't an exhaustive list. I haven't discussed local laws regarding pet density, for example. But it could help you to understand just when you're not quite ready to add a new kitty to the mix.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Boston terrier temperament: Sinead demonstrates in 4 photos

Sinead the Boston terrier on her couch

Boston terriers aren't all that common in Oregon. As a result, whenever I take Sinead out and about, people ask me a lot about her breed. Specifically, they often ask me about the Boston terrier temperament. They'd like to know what it's like to live with a little dog like this, and if I have Liam with me, they want to know how Bostons are different from pugs.

It's a tricky question, as each Boston is different. But, Sinead has a few little quirks that seem endemic to the breed (from what I understand), and I've got a bunch of these behaviors on film.

So here's what I know.

They're quirky, funny dogs

Sinead the Boston terrier in her red sweater

Bostons like Sinead are so great to live with, in part, because they're hilarious. Here's just one example.

Sinead has some definite ideas about what she likes and what she dislikes. And her little face is wonderfully expressive. If I'm doing something she's not too fond of, she shoots me a face like this. If I ignore the look of displeasure, she lets out a very theatrical sigh. If I keep ignoring it, she'll stamp her little feet.

She has a huge personality, as do most Bostons, and that's really why most of us love them.

They're deep thinkers

Sinead the Boston terrier is deep in thought

Sinead always seems to be one step ahead of the action, thinking about what will happen next, and what she should do to prepare. It's one of her best qualities, really, as this kind of deep intelligence makes her easy to train. She loves to put her little mind to work.

Most Bostons seem to fall into this super-bright category. They like to think, and they like to work, and that makes them wonderful for things like agility. They're easy to train, and they love to put that training to work. 

They play as hard as they work 

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toys

Sinead takes her toys very seriously. She's a huge fan of playing fetch (she'll run after a ball for hours without tiring), and she often takes her toys off to sleep with her when the play session is done.

Unlike some breeds that don't seem to have an "off" switch, and that will keep on working from dawn to dusk, Bostons have a very mirthful, playful side. 

They dislike cold weather 

Sinead the Boston terrier shivers outside

Here's that stink eye again. This time, she's upset because she's standing outside in 45 degree weather without a jacket.

These Bostons don't have a whole lot of fur, especially on their legs, and they really don't like to be cold. As a result, Sinead can be a total slug in the wintertime. She'll fight against the idea of going for a walk, and she'll shiver like crazy unless she has a sweater on inside the house.

This has an impact on her temperament, as she's neither willing to work nor willing to play when she's too cold. I tell people it's an important point to consider, as I've met a few people who don't believe in "coddling" a dog with clothing or heated beds. Those who don't want to coddle really shouldn't get a Boston, IMHO. 

Basically, they're not much like pugs

Liam the pug sitting outside

I'll go into this more next week, when Liam will take the spotlight in a photo essay about the pug temperament. But the short answer is that behaviors that seem common in pugs just aren't all that common in Boston terriers. They're very different, and hey, that's why you should have both!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How hard is it to live with a blind cat?

Lucy the blind cat in her bed
"Just how hard is it to live with a blind cat?" It's a question I get asked a lot. In fact, almost everyone who finds out that I have a blind cat asks me how much time I have to devote to her care and well-being on a daily basis.

Before I had Lucy, I would have asked many of those questions myself. After all, it just seems reasonable to expect that cats who can't see would need a lot of extra things that sighted cats just don't. And since I'm the caregiver, it would make sense that I should provide those things.

But in reality, it's just not that hard to make life good for a blind cat. In fact, independent blind cats like Lucy really don't want you to do anything at all for them.

Lucy will submit to a weekly grooming session, in which her ears are cleaned, her nails are clipped and her fur is brushed. That's great, as her long hair gets tangled so quickly. I just brushed her on Sunday, for example, and she looked raggedy for this Tuesday photo shoot. It's hard to keep her tidy.

But if I tried to brush her every day, I don't think she'd tolerate it. She barely hangs on for the 10 minutes I mess with her once a week right now.

And she absolutely will not let me pick her up and carry her around. She wants to do things herself, thank you very much, and she isn't much interested in allowing me to help her get up the stairs, onto her favorite bed or down from my bed. She wants to use her own muscles.

Playing with her is also a bit of a challenge, as she doesn't like the idea of being manipulated. She won't chase after jingly balls I throw, and she won't attack rattling bits of paper that I am toying with. She will sometimes bat at paper if I'm trying to wrap a package, but that's about it.

And as for her health, she needs very little. Her eye issues were resolved with a surgery she had done as a kitten, and she needs no followup care at all. 

So basically, I don't need to spend time on moving her, grooming her daily or engaging her in interactive play sessions. She's independent. She enjoys hanging out with me while I go about my day, and should she need something, she gets it herself.

Lucy the blind cat resting

So if the idea of an intense time commitment is keeping you from taking home a blind cat, I encourage you to think again. In most cases, these little guys don't take up any more time than does an average cat. And you'll get so much in return. At least I have.

Friday, January 2, 2015

December 2014 BarkBox review: Dog toys and dog treats just in time for Christmas

Sinead the Boston terrier with her elf toy

I took a week or so away from blogging in order to give the dogs what they really wanted for Christmas (time with me when I wasn't wasting time working online). So this means our December BarkBox review is a little late. But that doesn't mean the box wasn't good. In fact, there was some wonderful stuff in this holiday edition.

Quaker Pet Group Elf

Sinead is posing nicely up top with one of her favorite toys from this box. It's a small little elf that has a soft body and rope-like arms and legs. Sinead loves pull and tug toys like this, so this particular toy has been a big hit with her.

Butcher's Block Bones Trachea

Okay, this treat looks really gross. It's so gross looking, in fact, that I didn't manage to take a photo of it. I can't quite bear to see it up close and personal. But, the dogs don't really care what this thing looks like. They just want to eat it. And who can blame them?

It's a slow-roasted piece of cattle trachea. Yummy, right? On the Liam Smackability Scale (I just made that up) I give this an 8 out of 10. He loved to eat it, but he wasn't able to gobble it quickly. I can see these treats being really useful if I need him to stay busy for an extended period of time. He'll be happy, and I'll get things done!

Simply Fido Penguin

Liam the pug with his BarkBox toy

Liam has claimed this toy for his own (note the possessive paw). I understand why he's drawn to it. Liam has always been in love with paper and plastic. He likes the way these things sound. I'm not sure what's involved in the stuffing of this penguin, but it crinkles wonderfully when it's touched. And, it's floppy, so it makes for good head-shaking fun. Liam has been playing with this pretty much non-stop since we got it.

Polka Dog Sfizis

These are the tiniest little duck treats I've ever seen, and I love them. They're great for quick treats for training sessions, and the meat is 100% sourced from the United States, so I can feed this without worry. The price is reasonable, too, so we may have to get more of these.

Safemade Tartan Bandana 

Neither Liam nor Sinead are terribly interested in bandanas, so I haven't made them wear the cute piece we got in this month's BarkBox. But, I am thinking this little scrap of color could be useful for Sinead and I when we travel to Nashville later this year for the 2015 BlogPaws conference. We'll be able to spot our suitcase without a problem!

So, that wraps up our review for this month. If you got your own box and have some comments to share, hit me up in the comments section! And if you don't have your own, use my code. You'll get a discount, as will I.

And, please hit "like" on the new Facebook fan page to see more frequent updates on Liam, Sinead and their many cats. We'd love to see you.

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”