Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nostalgic Snacks from Chewy.com

Even though it's been cold and we've already had our first snow of the season, we haven't been quite ready to let go of fall yet. Chewy.com helped us hold on a bit longer with some Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats.


The first thing I noticed is that I didn't love the packaging. I've mentioned in other reviews that I like packaging where I can see the treats before I open the bag. There are a couple pictures of the treats on the packaging--if you look by the word organic, there's a little bear beside it--but since we'd never had these treats before, at first it wasn't clear why that bear was there. 

Once I opened the bag, though, the treats looked almost identical to Teddy Grahams cookies which were some of my favorite snacks growing up (and if I'm honest, I can't turn down a good Teddy Graham now!), so they made me happy to look at them. It felt like I was getting to share one of my favorite snacks with the girls--and made me want to run out to the store to get some little bear treats for myself! 


One thing I was a little surprised by was that pumpkin was the fifth ingredient on the list of ingredients. I assumed it would be a little bit higher up on the list, but there were ingredients like flour, cane sugar, palm oil, and cane sugar syrup before pumpkin showed up. This list was a little different than the ingredients on the packaging in the picture on Chewy.com, which had pumpkin as the seventh ingredient. (I'm not sure if they changed recipes or not, but there were definitely some differences between the packaging we received and the packaging in the images on the website.) I was also surprised by the fat content, which was 16%. After Rye's pancreatitis episode a couple months ago, we've been trying to keep everything below 10% fat content. Usually, it's high value meaty treats with ingredients like duck that are higher than we'd like, so I was surprised that a treat with no meat in it would have 16% fat content.

The packaging also states that the treats are kosher and vegetarian, which aren't really things I look for in teats, but if that's important for your pets, these treats meet those requirements.


Regardless of what the ingredients were, Barley was ready to try them immediately.


Both girls really liked these treats. Barley especially likes them because I'm really limiting how many Rye gets because of the fat, which means Barley got to have a few extras while we took pictures. 

What I like best about these treats is that there are a ton of them inside the package. We use cookie treats for crate treats when I put the girls in their crates before I leave. There are some days when I come home between classes, so the girls get crate treats twice on those days, and usually they get two treats every time they go in. This package has lasted us all month and we still have plenty left. They're also easy to break up, which is what I usually do for Rye so she still thinks she's getting two treats but she's getting less fat. 

The treats are a big hit with the dogs, but because of the fat content, they probably won't become a regular part of our treat rotation. We'll definitely be looking into some of the other Grandma Lucy's flavors, though, in case there are other varieties that have less fat in them. 

Disclaimer: We were given a package of Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Treats in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program from Chewy.com.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fun and Games from Chewy.com

Since we started going to agility trials, I've wanted a silent tug toy for Rye to use as a reward after our runs. They've had a few at the vendors at some of the trials, but they either have balls that Rye could crush with one bite or rabbit fur that she'd just want to shred. When we had to opportunity to test out the Frisco Plush with Rubber Tug & Fetch No Squeak Dumbbell from Chewy.com, I was thrilled--it was exactly the toy we were looking for. 

Our trainer recently told us that for toy rewards, it's a good idea to choose a toy that isn't self-rewarding. If a dog has a toy that squeaks, they don't need a human to help make the toy fun--they can just squeak away and entertain themselves. With silent toys, the excitement comes from interacting with their human. In trials, you also don't want a toy that makes noise right by the ring because it's not fair to the other dogs that are working. 


We took it to Rye's adoption day trial in the middle of the month. First, I took her outside and tried to get her revved up with the toy. She didn't want anything to do with it. I tossed it in her crate so we didn't lose it. Then we tried again after one of her runs. Still no cigar. No matter what I did to try to engage her, she wanted nothing to do with it. As confident as Rye is on the course, she tends to get spooked easily off of the course and she usually wants to go right back to her crate as soon as she's done. I had hoped that play might help her feel a little braver, but she was just too nervous to be interested in a game of tug.

That doesn't mean that the dumbbell toy was a flop, though. Rye does enjoy a good game of tug at home. Rye has her own ideas of how tug toys should be used, though. She thinks she should get the handle.


I tried to convince her that she should tug on the actual dumbbell part, but she was not buying that at all and I had to be the one to tug on the dumbbell or risk losing a finger when she grabbed at the handle.


Even when we played fetch with the dumbbell, she still thought she should retrieve it by the handle rather than the actual toy part. Part of me thought that the dumbbell part might be a bit big for her to grab with her mouth--it's soft, but it's stuffed full and doesn't have much give. Really, though, I think Rye just likes to tug on the parts I'm holding onto because she usually goes for the handles on tug toys.

 

I was impressed by how durable this toy is. Even when Rye and I were both tugging on the handle, it stayed attached to the dumbbell. We've had other tug toys where the handle has broken off when we've played this way. That wasn't the case with this toy. 

Rye also likes to gnaw on things and she gave the handle a good gnaw in between games. I didn't let that go on for long because I've seen what happens when she starts sawing her teeth over a thin handle like this. For the few seconds that she was chewing on the handle while I took a picture, though, there were no ill effects. Not even a bit of fraying. 


Rye also likes to gnaw on thick seams like this toy has around the edges. Again, I didn't let that behavior go on for long, but they held up to a brief chewing session. Several of the reviews on Chewy.com said that this toy didn't last long with dogs ripping the handle and pulling out the stuffing, but I found as long as I stayed involved in playing with this toy with Rye, it held up well to a little bit of chewing between tosses and tugs. The toy was also big enough that Rye could get a good grip on it when she wanted to chew on it. 


So far, this toy hasn't quite served it's purpose at our house, but I'm not giving up hope. It's exactly what I wanted out of a silent tug toy, but Rye plays by her own rules. Rye definitely likes it at home where she's comfortable, so we're going to keep playing with it in hopes that one day she'll be comfortable enough to play with it at a trial, too. 

Disclaimer: We were provided one Frisco Plush with Rubber Tug & Fetch No Squeak Dumbbell toy in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program through Chewy.com. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Letter To My Dog's First Family

To My Dog's First Family:

I think of you often. When I fell in love with your puppy, the shelter told me you'd had to surrender her for personal reasons, either financial or health problems. I often wonder if you're ok and if things are better now. I wonder if you miss your puppy or regret your decision. I know that you loved her. That was obvious from the amount of training she'd had. It was clear you'd spent a lot of time working with her and nobody can spend even a tiny amount of time with her without falling in love with her.

I hadn't gone to the shelter to get her, but as soon as I saw her, I switched my application to her. It was love at first sight.


I've often wished I could ask you if she's always loved cats or always been scared of nature.


I've wished I could ask you where her original name came from. (It's now her middle name and gets used when she's her cutest, naughtiest puppy self.)

I've wished I could tell you how much she loves agility.


And scent work.


And barn hunt. (She keeps my calendar full.)


I've often wished I could tell you that she's happy and so very loved--by me and her dog sister and cat brother.


I've wished that I could tell you that she gave me a reason to smile when I was worried the world was falling apart.


I've wished I could tell you thank you.

Two years ago, I went to the shelter to add to my little family and I came home with your puppy. She's changed my world for the better and I'm so very thankful that you made the difficult decision that let her become a part of my life.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Sniffin' Sisters

Last weekend, the girls and I did C-WAGS scent trial. When we did our summer scent league, our friend who owns the training center told us that they were going to have halloween ribbons at the October trial and being a sucker for all things seasonal, I wanted those ribbons!

It was a two-day trial with two runs each day. Barley needed two more qualifying scores after our summer league to earn her Level 2 title, so we entered in all four runs in hopes that we'd qualify in at least two.

This summer, we struggled with communication. Three minutes seems like such a long time when you're out there--but in real life, it seems like a really short amount of time, so I was rushing us many nights and not giving Barley as much time to explore all of the containers. I tried really hard not to rush us this time. On our first run, it seemed like Barley had found it pretty quickly, but we'd only passed two boxes, so I walked her around the whole room before coming back to that side. Eventually, we did find both hides although we had one fault (thankfully, in C-WAGS, you're allowed one fault) and we did qualify. 3 down, 1 to go. 


Our second run wasn't as successful. We found one, but had two false alerts, so we didn't qualify. For some reason, Barley didn't even want to go near the second hide--we walked by it several times and she didn't even sniff at it, so I was convinced it wasn't the hide. We had two more shots on Sunday, though. 

Rye also got to come along on Sunday for her very first scent trial. In C-WAGS, you can start in Level 1 or Level 2, but since this was Rye's first time ever sniffing outside of our house, I wanted to start with the most basic level. Since they don't reset the courses between dogs, you can only run one dog in one level anyway, so I couldn't have Rye and Barley in Level 2, which was another good reason to start with Level 1. We practice with Level 2 set ups at home--boxes and other containers, two hides, and birch and cypress hides--so I wasn't worried about Rye having only boxes and only one hide. Barley was not thrilled about having to share the spotlight with Rye, but I was excited to see how things would go for Rye.


I was a little worried that Rye wouldn't know what we were searching for because the trial was at the training center where she does barn hunt. She did want to look for the rats at first--they had the corner of the building with the stairs up to the room where the rats live blocked off, but Rye did run over to the barrier and sniff around it. Then she realized what she was looking for and she took off for the box. She was higher than a kite, so she was zooming around the room. She started to alert on several boxes--her alert is a down at the hide--by bowing in front of them, but since she didn't get her belly down on the ground, I waited for her to give me a clear alert. Eventually, it came and she ran to a box and pounced on the ground in front of it. I called alert and we qualified with no faults--and all of that took place in 12 seconds!


Our second attempt wasn't quite as successful. Rye was so pumped up after her first run that she bounced all over the room. She knew how happy I'd been when she finally laid down at a box in the first run, so she alerted on two boxes that were not the hide and we didn't qualify. She had every laughing with her enthusiasm, though. 

Barley was up next with her third Level 2 search of the weekend. We took our time and had a clean run (something that's only happened twice now) and earned our title. I'd told Barley that I just wanted her to do as well as she did on Saturday and get one qualifying run so we could earn the really fun Halloween ribbon--and she listened to me! 


The training center where the trial was held is a little small, so there isn't really good indoor crating space and dogs are crated in their cars. I had both dogs harnessed in and buckled into the backseat. Barley had been so good about tolerating that on Saturday, but by Sunday, I guess she had had enough. She stayed where she was supposed to during both of Rye's runs and while I did the briefing for her first run, but when I went in to the awards ceremony to get her ribbon, she unbuckled herself and climbed into the front seat. I had 5 bags of different types of treats--and when I got back to the car, I had one handful of treats left in our treat pouch. I'd really hoped that the front seat of our new car would remain dog-hair free for a few weeks, but now I have dog hair, treat crumbs, and I keep finding tiny pieces of treat bags all over the place. Maybe one day Mother Nature will give us a dry day so I can break out the shop vac and make the front of the car look pretty again.


Since that was our first run of the day, we were able to move up to Level 3 for our second run. That meant we had about an hour to kill while they took a break for lunch. I took the girls out for a quick walk at a nearby park. 

We got matching glow-in-the-dark bandanas when we checked into the trial!

We did our first Level 3 run when we got back. Level 3 is even more challenging than Level 2 because all four odors (birch, cypress, clove, and anise) can be used, there are 3 hides, and the hides can be in containers or on objects. We were the last Level 3 dog to go and all of the dogs before us came out saying how difficult the course had been. We found one of the three hides, but had two false alerts and didn't qualify. 


Overall, I was really proud of both of my girls. Barley and I communicated a little better than we did this summer--although we still have plenty of room to grow!--and Rye was her typical spitfire self and threw herself into working from the second we walked through the door onto the course. 

Our training center is going to have another trial in January or February, but before that, we'll be trying our hand paws at AKC scentwork in December. I have both dogs entered in the trial, so they'll alternate classes with one dog doing containers and the other doing interior so they'll each get 4 runs with 2 attempts in each class. Both dogs will be in Level 1--or novice--since we've never tried AKC scentwork before, so we can simplify our practice at home for the next few weeks and just focus on the birch odor. We're so looking forward to another weekend of fun--and since Barley will still have to be crated in the car (she had a bit of a meltdown and broke out of her crate at a scent seminar at this location in September), I'll be creating a treat fortress to make sure that we don't have the same sneaky behavior this time around!