Saturday, December 22, 2018

Three Cheers for the Tri-Flyer

Last month, our friends at Chewy.com gave us a chance to try out a no-squeak tug toy that we were hoping would be a good reward at agility trials. Rye loved the toy, but was too nervous to play with it at trials and I didn't love that she kept going for the little handle that I was holding. This month, we had a chance to try another no-squeak toy with the All Kind Tug & Fetch No Squeak Tri-Flyer.

I chose this style of toy because all of the sides are identical and I thought it might save my fingers from those excited Rye teeth during intense games of tug.  


For the most part, Rye was content to tug on one of the other two sides instead of going for the one I was holding, but there were a few times when she still got me. I think because the middle of the toy is skinnier than the ends, we were both trying to get a better grip. 


Rye loves this toy! The surface is a rubbery material that's easy to hold onto (for dogs and humans who are battling slobbery surfaces!). The material is also nice and soft and the sides are all thin enough that it's easy to get her mouth around.


It's also perfect to tossing and fetching. It's soft enough that I can toss it in the house without worrying about hurting anything. With the rubbery body, it looks heavy and sturdy, but it's surprisingly lightweight.


The shape also makes it easy for Rye to hold onto while chewing on it. As usual, when she started gnawing on the edges, that was my cue to take the toy away and start another game of tug or fetch before she had a chance to destroy it. It stood up well to a little light chewing, but the description on Chewy says it's not for heavy chewers, so I don't think it would stand up to Rye's jaws of steel for long.


Right now, I think Rye will probably be too nervous for this to be a good reward at agility trials, either, but it's going to be perfect for playing in the yard in the snow! With the bright colors, it's going to stand out easily. We haven't had any snow since it arrived, so we haven't had a chance to test that element out, but it's going to be the first toy we grab on our next snow day.

We'll also continue to take the tri-flyer and last month's toy with us to agility trials--just in case. It's exactly the right toy to use for a reward at a trial--I'm just not sure that Rye is exactly the right dog to use a toy reward with!

Disclaimer: We were given one All Kind Tug & Fetch No Squeak Tri-Flyer toy from Chewy.com as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program in exchange for our honest review.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Mixing Up a Holiday Feast

When it comes to meal time, we're a kibble family. I hardly have time to cook for myself, much less for the pets, so we've spent a lot of time looking at different types of food and talking to our vet about the girls' needs and we've found food that we're all comfortable with. But back when I had foster dog Sal, he needed something a little extra while he worked on gaining back weight and strength and that process introduced me to dehydrated dog food. Ever since then, we've supplemented kibble with the occasional dehydrated dog food topper. 

This month, we got the opportunity from our friends at Chewy.com to try out a new brand of dehydrated dog food: I and Love and You's Stir & Boom dehydrated dog food in lamb. We've been a huge fan of I and Love and You's treats and regularly take them to agility trials and Soth ate their cat food for a while when we were trying to find something he'd eat consistently, so we were excited to try this product out.

Barley saw "homemade dog food' on the bag and got ready to get to work preparing a meal to share with her sister.


She couldn't believe that she didn't need the Kitchen Aid or her Pioneer Woman cookware to make a complete meal.


But the only thing you need to make this meal complete is a bowl, something to stir with, and water.


This Raw-Raw Lamb Boom Ba Dinner looks pretty typical of the other dehydrated foods we've tried. It looks like a bag of dirty with chunks of stuff in it. 


The back of the package has the recommended amounts based on your dog's size, but notes that ratio is 1:2 of dry food to water (or 1:1.5 if your dog likes things to be a bit thicker). You can also make extra and store it in the fridge for up to four days. Since we were just making it for a special "Mom Finished Grading Final Papers and We're Officially On Vacation" treat, we just went with the smallest serving size. 


You add water to the mixture, stir, and then wait for 15 minutes. As the water soaked in, I could make out the chunks of lamb and a few other ingredients like the carrots, but for the most part it looked like brown sludge (something that I've found with all dehydrated food--and something that only bothers me and not the dogs).

About halfway through the rehydrating process, I was surprised to see how soupy the mixture still was.


I was also surprised by how stinky this mixture was. Rye had been sleeping in the living room when Barley and I started mixing things up, but it didn't take her long to come check things out.


Fifteen minutes later, the mixture was still liquidy. All other dehydrated food that w'eve tried has been the consistency of grits by the time it's done rehydrating, so I was surprised to see how runny this was.


The girls did not care, though. They were ready to dive in regardless of the consistency. 


Often, I'll use dehydrated food to stuff Kongs, so the girls are occupied for a little while, but that was not a possibility with this mixture. I poured half into each dog's bowl and they were not amused that I made them wait to try it until I'd had a chance to take a picture.


Both dogs think this I and Love and You Stir & Boom food was good to the last drop. They licked their bowls clean and then swapped places to make sure the other one hadn't left anything behind in her bowl.


The ingredients in this are all things I'm happy to feed the dogs. In addition to the lamb, there's sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, bananas, and a variety of vitamins and other tasty ingredients. The fat content is also only 11%, which is right about where I want food for Rye. Our 1.5-pound bag makes up to 10 pounds of food, so as a special treat, it will last us a long time! The consistency was really my only problem with it, so next time, we'll try the 1:1.5 ratio and see if that makes it thick enough that it could be a Kong filler. 

Stir & Boom from I and Love and You was a huge hit with both dogs, so we'll definitely be adding it to our dehydrated food rotation. With an easily resealable bag and the ease of mixing everything up, it's the perfect addition to Barley and Rye's diet.

Disclaimer: We were provided one bag of I and Love and You Stir & Boom food in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program through Chewy.com.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sniffing Success

This weekend, the girls and I participated in our first AKC Scent Trial. One of our agility classmates was the trial secretary and it was the club's first trial, so I think I felt a little more nervous than usual because I knew how nervous our friend was and we wanted everything to go smoothly for her.

I was also nervous because both dogs were entered and I wasn't sure what to expect. The last time they were both entered in a trial, Barley and I had been in several C-WAGS trials and we'd been to the trial site several times, so I had an idea how it would go. This time, I had no idea how things would go.

Surprisingly, things went beautifully.

Since they weren't resetting any of the courses, I could only run one dog per class. For the morning trial, Rye was entered in containers and Barley was entered in interiors. 

Rye found the hide in just over 9 seconds, so we qualified, but we ended up in 6th place, so we only got the qualifying ribbon. For interiors, they had a space set up like a laundry room with an ironing board, a few benches, a couple baskets with blankets. Barley loves to stick her head in laundry baskets and rub her face on clean towels, so we spent quite a lot of time sniffing the basket. Eventually, she worked her way over to a bench and found it. She wasn't speedy--finishing just under a minute--and we finished in 12th place.

The next trial would start at noon, so we had about two hours between getting our ribbons and our next courses. The week before, Barley and I had checked out a park with a memorial to Smoky, the first certified therapy dog, and it was only 15 minutes away, so we took Rye to see the statue and take a quick walk.



The afternoon was equally successful. The dogs swapped classes, so Barley ran containers and Rye ran interiors. Barley doesn't love containers. She doesn't find sniffing boxes all that interesting. The afternoon courses were a little slower than the morning courses, so Barley and I had a long wait before our turn was up. There were a lot of other dogs around and Barley was working really hard to stay focused on me. By the time we got into the containers course, Barley was exhausted. We crossed the start line and she had no interest in the boxes. The novice container's course is set up in two equal lines of boxes that are equally spaced, so I walked Barley down one side and up the other. She didn't even look at them. She just trotted along beside me and grinned at me. Occasionally, she'd sniff a box, but she was not into it at all. We got our 30 second warning and I pointed at a few boxes and asked her to search again. With 15 seconds left, she finally alerted on the correct box. 

Rye was up next in interiors. For this trial, the interiors course was set up in the Club's office. I had no idea how Rye would do. The only time she's ever searched outside of our house was our C-WAGS trial in October--and she was a little nutty then! I worried for nothing, though. She got in the office and went right to work. The hide was on a rolling desk chair with a trashcan right next to it. Rye spent a long time sniffing the trash can, but her alert is to lay down near the hide, so I waited her out. After several seconds, she moved on to the chair and quickly laid down. The judge praised me for my patience--which is something I have always struggled with when Barley and I are working. Our time was just over a minute, which was fast enough to come in 4th place.

On Sunday, we were up bright and early to head back to Cleveland for our second day of trials. In the first trial, Barley was up first in containers and Rye was in interiors. For the containers course, the start line was almost immediately after crossing the threshold into the room. Barley did start sniffing almost immediately, but she stopped in front of a box and wouldn't budge. She hadn't given it much attention, so I didn't really think that was the correct box, but she wouldn't move. I tried to get her to keep searching, but she planted her feet and grinned at me. She made it very clear that we were not going to look at any other boxes, so I called alert and she was one box away from the hide.

Rye's interiors search was set up similar to a garage. There were some chairs, a ladder, a bucket, a fan, and a few other random items. The hide was on the fan, and Rye went right to it and did a lot of sniffing, but she didn't lay down. After the trashcan the day before, I waited her out. She did a quick lap around the room, came back to the fan, and flopped down. We ended up in 6th place.

We finished even earlier with Trial 1 than we had the day before, so we went back to the park. We had a lovely 3+ mile walk on a section of the trail near a golf course and along the Rocky River. 



There was an overlook of a wetland area and the overlook had some incredible metal railings.



We got back for the afternoon trial with Rye searching containers and Barley searching interiors. Rye went in for her containers search and she got right to work again. She sniffed the row that the hide was on and she started to alert, bowing at one of the boxes. Then she went along the line and sniffed a couple more boxes, stepped on one and started to alert again. Then she did a wide arc back to the correct box and did her alert. All of that took about 18 seconds, and we ended up with 4th place again.

Interiors didn't go quite as well for Barley. This search was in the office Rye had searched on Saturday and there was a trashcan with some plastic wrappers of some sort right across the start line. Barley stuck her head in the trash can and did some serious sniffing. Her tail wasn't wagging, though, so I was pretty sure that wasn't the hide. I called her off the trash can and she sniffed a few other things, including the chair that Rye's hide had been on, but then she went back to the trash can. She still wasn't wagging her tail, but she was so into the trash can that I called an alert again. The hide was actually under a cabinet about a foot away from the trash can. 

Sunday just wasn't Barley's day. But she still walked away from the trial with two qualifying runs, ending up with one leg in containers and one leg in interiors. 


Rye got two legs in containers, two legs in interiors, and two fourth place placements.


Both dogs had a lot of fun and we're looking forward to trying another AKC trial soon. This was our last event of the year, so we're also looking forward to a few weekends of not setting an alarm.