Tuesday, January 31, 2012

$499.99 [iPad]

I've blogged about the iPad ($499.99) before, but some new uses for the device have come to light in recent days.

It turns out that not only can my dog Betelgeuse use the iPad to FaceTime with cat cousin Future Cat [post here], she can also use it to FaceTime with Future Cat's new puppy brother, Rigel.  It shrinks the 700+ miles between Brooklyn, New York and Columbia, South Carolina to almost nothing.  Human and environmental costs aside, the results couldn't be cuter.

Betelgeuse:  Seriously, Rigel, you gotta try the cat food.

What else is the iPad good for?  Well, it makes a great puppy length and width measuring device.

Yes, he's smaller than an iPad.

For measuring puppy weight, however, the iPad won't help you.  You'll still have to use a traditional scale.  I would recommend using the biggest scale you can find.

2.9 lbs. of cute.

$9.99 [World's Biggest Bully Stick]

This past weekend was a busy one for the clan.  We had a rotating cast of house guests [when don't we?], and Sunday was a day full of fun homebrew events [have I told you that my S.O. is both an animal lover AND an award-winning brewer?].

But I digress.  After all, this isn't a blog about humans, it's a blog about the money this human spends on animals.  And although I almost made it to the end of the month, I officially exceeded January's pet budget by buying a gift for our canine house guest, Icarus.  What did I buy that broke the threshold?  A Full Bully Stick Cane, 36" ($9.99).

The Full Bully Stick Cane is so much bigger than your average bully stick -- in fact, a full 30" bigger than your average bully stick.  And for just under $10.00, it's a pretty good deal on a cost-per-inch basis.  Oh man, it's the best joke.  After I bought the Bully Stick Cane at Pets On the Run, I carried it home like it was my royal staff -- yes, I'm the kind of royalty that proudly parades large intimate parts of bull carcasses around the five boroughs.

The Bully Stick Cane was (literally) a big hit with Icarus.  The first thing he did was grab one end of the stick with his mouth and jump up on the recliner, almost knocking over the lamp with the other end of the stick.  I was delighted.  Then he got down to business, really stinking up the living room.

A boy and his magic pipe.  Lulu wanted in on the action, too.  She eventually had the Bully Stick Cane all to herself -- it was nearly three times her body length.  Her radiant happiness (and filthy mane, featuring bits of the bully stick) was captured by Justin in the photo below.

Lulu was also featured chewing on the Bully Stick Cane in a raw, uncut horror movie filmed by Justin at our apartment.  Release date T.B.A.  Leave your kids at home.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Introducing the newest member of my extended animal family!

Name: Rigel
Alias: Little Piggy, Piggy, Markus, Pomegranat, Wau Wau, Puppy Boy
DOB: 11/18/2011
Genus/species: Canis lupus familiaris
Breed: Small Spitz or Pomeranian
Color: Black and white parti
Sex: Male
Weight: Close to 13 lbs.
Likes: Little pink tennis ball, sleeping in the bed, collecting and carrying more than one stick, his bunny toy (he really likes the bunny toy), the park in his Columbia, South Carolina neighborhood, Mum and Dad and Future Cat
Dislikes: Medicine (heart-worm or ear drops), wearing a seat belt in the car, honking noises, loud noises, getting his paws touched, the grooming place
Special Facts: He fell asleep while eating.

Rigel is my puppy nephew. This little spitz was adopted by my brother, Wayne, and his wife, Eva, on January 28, 2012, when Rigel was just a little over two months old and weighed barely two pounds. He had been surrendered by a backyard breeder and taken in by a rescue organization in Ocala, Florida. I found him on Petfinder and sent the link for Rigel to my brother with text "Baby Betel." Wayne and Eva couldn't say no to this face.

And now he's a part of our (growing) animal family. He is currently living with Wayne, Eva, and Future Cat in Columbia, South Carolina.

Rigel was named after the brightest star in the Orion constellation -- Orion's left foot. For the non-astrologic among you, my dog Betelgeuse was named after the second brightest star in Orion -- the Hunter's right shoulder (or armpit, depending on who you ask). The two pups clearly share a common ancestor, so it is natural that they would be named for stars on opposite sides of Orion's Belt.

I'm officially a puppy aunt and couldn't be more excited. Expect TOO MANY posts about Rigel in the coming years as he grows up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

$7.99 [Lamb Chop]

I nailed it again.

Lamb Chop ($7.99), purchased at Unleash Brooklyn.  Think she's just another sheep toy?  Think again.  Betelgeuse went completely nuts for her.  Squeaking her, carrying her around the apartment.  It's unclear whether it was love or love to hate, but either way, Betel was really into her.

Icarus, who visited while Lamb Chop was in rotation, also went nuts for the little puppet. Icky even took her out in the backyard to toss her around. Unfortunately, Icky also ate some cat poop while he was in the backyard tossing her around, so poop-stricken Lamb Chop ended up in plastic bag quarantine pending a trip to the laundromat.

After Lamb Chop was washed and dried, she went back into the dog toy box.  Betel dug through the box, scattering other plush toys and chew toys to the side, to retrieve Lamb Chop.

Some more squeaking.  Some more carrying her around.  And then the most amazing thing that can happen to a dog . . . Betel punctured Lamb Chop's exterior and out came some stuffing.  Her eyes lit up.  I wish you all could have been there.  Betel was just totally manic -- squeaking and pulling out stuffing and throwing Lamb Chop around.  The more stuffing that came out of the toy, the happier Betel became.  She made the same little Joker face that she makes when she sees a Frisbee.

And then even Lulu, who only plays with toys secretly and rarely squeaks them, got in on the action once the stuffing was out -- pouncing on Lamb Chop and biting and squeaking her.

Kyler aptly observed, "I hope they never actually get a hold of something dead."

So true.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

$43.00 [Paw Pads v. NYC Sidewalk Slush]

Below freezing temperatures and snow this weekend -- a brief interlude from our otherwise unseasonably warm winter weather.  As circumstances would have it, we were also dog sitting the rescued Peruvian Hairless puppy, Cheska, during the weekend's winter storm.

My understanding is that it gets quite cold in at least certain regions in Peru, but maybe the hairless dogs weather the inclement weather (pun intended) in a warm cave deep in the Andes.  Cheska was NOT made for the snow.  Even a full-body onesie + coat is not enough to stop her from shivering and protesting any outdoor activities.  Ever watched a puppy stage a full-on poop strike?  Poor Cheska.

Poor poor Cheska.

My dogs, Betel and Lulu, come with their own fur coats...

Just not their own boots.  They do fine walking through snow, but if it's slush (or even better, special NYC sidewalk slush, which is mixed with salt and chemicals to become SUPER cold), the pups spend our "walk" hopping on three legs while trying to defrost a frozen paw in their mouth.  And even after all the slush has melted, the lingering salt and de-icing chemicals on the sidewalk can irritate their paw pads and cause dryness and painful cracking.  There are two products in my arsenal that help protect the bubs' paws in winter:

[1] Mushers Secret ($14 for 60 grams), which is a wax that forms a semi-permeable shield on the pups' paws to protect them from snow (including ice build-up between paws), salt, chemicals, grit, rough terrain, and other paw pad irritants.  Apply once a week or more often.  All three pups had their paws waxed this weekend.

[2] Pawz Natural Rubber Dog Boots ($14 for X-Small, i.e., Lu, $15 for Small, i.e., Betel), which are disposable (but reusable!), biodegradable waterproof dog boots.  They're thick rubber balloons that slide right on the pups' feet.  They come in seven sizes (from "Tiny" to "X-Large") and there are twelve boots to a package.

The dogs walk funny when you first put them on (videos of Betelgeuse from last winter in our old apartment below) but then they forget they're even wearing them.  They don't need Pawz on every snowy or icy walk -- these boots are made for those terrible slushy days or if you're going to be out for a long time in the cold.  As a bonus:  these boots protect their paws from even coming into contact with salt, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea when licked.  Yuck.

After our one frozen weekend, we're back to sunny skies and mild temps in New York.  So I've stored these winter goods again.  If you don't already own Mushers Secret wax or Pawz boots, you may want to hold off on buying -- they may be rendered obsolete by global warming.

I'm sure Lulu won't mind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

$99.00 [Found My Animal Rope Leashes]

Leash upgrade!

Blew the remainder of my January pet budget on new leashes for Betelgeuse and Lulu.  Their old leashes were frayed and nasty because we like to "drop the leash" and let the dogs run free at parks and on back streets and the India Street pier at night.  So for 2012 (and thereafter), I invested in two seriously awesome durable leashes made right here in Brooklyn.

The Found My Animal leashes are made out of all-weather, UV-resistant marine-grade rope (the rope is handmade by professional New England rope-makers).  The ropes are hand-spliced to withstand thousands of pounds of pull -- in case I need to walk a GIANT Pomeranain -- and, for added durability, the ends are "whipped" (an old nautical term) -- i.e., NO MORE FRAYING!  The metal hardware is all marine-grade as well, and the leashes are hand- and machine-washable.

Found My Animal makes both a standard and adjustable version of its rope leash.  I like the adjustable leash, which has two solid brass o-rings and two solid bronze clips.  The adjustable leash is more expensive than the standard one but offers a lot of versatility.  You can change the length of it when using it as a hand-held leash, meaning one leash does the job of two:  make it short for walks on narrow NYC sidewalks or long for strolls through the woods.  You can also hook it around your waist, over your shoulder, or across your chest, so on cold nights, you can keep your hands in your pockets or around your hot cocoa.  Running into a coffee shop?  Quickly clip your pup to a fence, tree or post, and don't worry about the security of your knot or untying the knot with a coffee cup in your hand.  You can even clip your dogs to each other (a great joke).

The leashes come in a variety of thicknesses from S (1/4") to XL (1/2"), which you select from based on the weight of your pooch.  I like the look of the thick rope leashes, but that would be too much leash for Betel and Lu.

For Betel, the Adjustable, Hand-Spliced Rope Leash (solid brass + natural rope), 7 ft., size S (1/4" rope diameter), $56, purchased from Unleash Brooklyn during an all-day Saturday stroll around Greenpoint and Williamsburg -- it's been so unseasonably warm this winter, and we've been taking advantage of it.

For Lulu, the Adjustable, Hand-Spliced, 100% Recycled P.E.T. Rope Leash (solid blass + black rope), 7 ft., size S (1/4" rope diameter), $43, purchased from PS9 Pet Supplies on the same stroll.  The recycled P.E.T. rope is lighter than the natural rope for the smaller pup, although the brass hardware is still a bit heavy for such a petite creature.

These leashes seem a bit pricey, but they also seem like they will last.  We've gone through quite a few cheaper standard nylon leashes -- they end up frayed, knotted, and filthy.  My 2012 philosophy: pay more, but buy it just once.  These leashes are beautiful, high-quality, and locally made and purchased.  If that's not enough:  Found My Animal does so much for rescued animals.  And lest you forget who was rescued...

Oh man.  Lulu.

Monday, January 16, 2012

$39.00 [In almost every picture #9]

A book that is not in my library but that should be: In almost every picture #9 ($39).  I have a thing for all-black-everything dogs and cats and photographs of animals (other people's and my own), so a collection of found family photographs of a black dog who never quite finds his light is sort of my dream book.

In almost every picture #9
Collected & Edited by Erik Kessels.  Text by Christian Bunyan.
Color / back & white, 122 pages, soft cover.
A review and slideshow here.

The description:
In almost every picture #9 is the latest addition to the long running series of found photography.  This time around, we are presented with the peculiar story of one family's attempts to photograph its black dog.  "Attempts" being the operative word. 
Unfortunately, their camera's limitations mean that the canine appears, time after time, as only a vague black blob.  The all black dog shape is seen posed in all kinds of domestic situations, usually with his owners as part of a tableaux of homely contentment.  But while these contexts make it clear that the silhouetted pooch is an integral part of this family's life, it's equally clear that there's no situation capable of providing the requisite amount of light.
I should have put this on my wishlist before Christmas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

$30.00 [Doggie Daycare]

I dropped the pups off this morning at doggie daycare at Unleash Brooklyn.  Doggie daycare is such a New York thing -- if you don't live in New York and you're reading this, you are correct in thinking that New York dog owners are crazy.  Our dogs wear clothes and have birthday parties and parades; they ride the subway, get their photos taken with Santa, go out to bars with us, and attend doggie daycare.  Welcome to New York.

Betelgeuse used to attend doggie daycare twice a week as a puppy, but she has less energy now and she also lives with her favorite playmate in the world (who she can play with for free), Lulu.  Lulu lived at Unleash for awhile when she was first rescued and pregnant.  (Dog Habitat Rescue operates out of Unleash Brooklyn, so many of the rescues spend their first few days or weeks there before they are fostered or adopted.)  Lulu doesn't really enjoy daycare -- she seems to think of Unleash as a homeless shelter -- we're not dropping her off for daycare, we're leaving and never coming back.  She was particularly dramatic about being dropped off this morning.

In any event, whatever their feelings, I like for Betel and Lulu to attend doggie daycare at least once a month -- usually during a super busy week when we have less time to exercise them.  This week is one of those weeks.  Kyler left the apartment even earlier than me this morning -- today is the first day of his life as a celebrity brewer (more on that at another time).

Daycare is great!  The socialization with new dogs and people is good for our pups, and after a day at Unleash, they sleep for the next two days.  In addition, we sometimes board them overnight at Unleash, so I want them to feel comfortable with the environment and employees.  I like to support the owners of Unleash Brooklyn, Rob and Bea, who also own District Dog -- they do so much for the Greenpoint dog community (including the McGolrick Park dog run) and the rescued pups of Dog Habitat (e.g., Lulu!).  And finally, perhaps most importantly, Unleash keeps a blog with photos of the dogs at daycare.  You already know that I like to spy on my pets while at work, so I really enjoy the blog.  The photos are hilarious.

I've collected some of my favorite daycare photos to share with you.  Betelgeuse always looks completely insane, and Lulu is always lurking in the shadows and blending in with the floor.  In the photos below, the red arrow identifies Betel, and the blue arrow Lu.

You think this photo is about Betelgeuse but it's about Lulu not having any fun in the background. 

 Great photo bomb, Betel.

Again, Lulu, lurking. 

Betelgeuse is bigger than Lulu, so I sometimes forget that she's still smaller than almost every other dog.  And then I see a photo like this and can't believe that she's real.

Two peensies on a bench.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

$0.02 [Dogs Inside]

I love this tumblr: http://dogsinside.tumblr.com/

Abby would be my contribution:

$0.02 [My Stats]

I finally got around to looking at this blog's stats today.  Thought I should get a better handle on my audience.  Much to my surprise, people come from all over the world to read about -- wait for it -- litter boxes.  Yes, litter boxes.  It will be my legacy.

I'd also like to share with you some other keyword searches that direct people to this blog: 
"worlds most expensive persian cats" 
"bag with holes in for a dog head" 
"dog bag hole for dog head" 
"dog carrying bags with head hole" 
"slippery stuff on floor could it be cat anal gland release"
My job here is done.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

$13.99 [Ware Scratch-N-Television]

Have you ever bought a gift for someone and knew that you nailed it?

It happened to me twice this past holiday season:  first, with my boyfriend's mom, who I bought a Temp-tations Old World Figural Chicken 5-piece Measuring Set (nailed it), and second, with my nine-year-old cat Lola, who I bought a Ware Scratch-N-Television ($13.99).

The Ware Scratch-N-Television is a corrugated cardboard scratch pad inside of a cardboard box "television."  The "television" has an open square on the front (the screen) and a hole on the side (which I assume is another entry point for the cat).  It also comes with catnip to sprinkle onto the scratch pad.  And, as if all that wasn't enough fun for $13.99, the antenna features a dangling poof.

Below is the promotional image for the Ware Scratch-N-Television -- you can see the hole on the side and the antenna in this image.  I like that Ware used a bigger cat instead of a tiny kitten for advertising.  I'd love to know his back story.  He has a face made for TV.

Lola just loves the Ware Scratch-N-Television -- she scratches it, sleeps in it (with part of her head hanging out of the hole on the side), rubs her face and body all over it.  And of course I'm getting a kick out of seeing her on TV.  We've previously discussed Lola's love of cardboard boxes, but who knew I could love them too if they were just made to look like something cute.  This isn't trash that needs to be taken out to the recycling bin -- this is a toy television, and my cat is inside of it!

There is a whole range of products in this cardboard-boxes-made-to-look-like-something-cute category.  For example, the Suck UK Cardboard Classics Cat Playhouses in Firetruck, Airplane, Tank or Cadillac (approx. $34.95 each).  These do not come with a scratch pad inside, but you can buy a scratch pad for less than $10.00 to use as a base inside the box for added cat appeal.

Also, the Loyal Luxe Native American Cat Teepee ($24.00).  All this cat needs is a feather headdress, and this image would be perfect.  Same note as above that there is no scratch pad inside.

Not a box, but, whatever, this is a cardboard scratch pad that turns your cat into a DJ(!!!):  the Suck UK Cat Scratch Cat Playhouse ($23.00).

There's also the Cat Above SnoozePal Cat Hammock ($34.95).  This is a twist on the cardboard cat furniture -- rather than being a cardboard box masquerading as something cute, it's a hammock masquerading as a cardboard bankers box.  Kyler saw the SnoozePal Cat Hammock in PS9 Pet Supplies and really liked it for Lola.  He even pushed hard on the hammock to make sure it could support her (it supports up to 20 lbs., so it's actually sort of close).  I like it in "calm camel."  I'm a broken record, but I would definitely put a scratch pad on the bottom and make it do double duty -- we have precious little floor space in our apartment.

Alternatively, if you're crafty and/or really really bored and/or insane, Martha Stewart shows you how to make your cat playhouse out of cardboard boxes ($0.00).  [If your cat is a chewer, I would recommend against using a hot glue gun to construct your cat house.]

Of all of these products, I think the most bang for your buck is the Ware Scratch-N-Television.  You can buy it for your cat at Wag.com for $13.99 and tune into the kitty channel 24-7.  Yep.  Nailed it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

$141.25 [Kong Squeaker Ball to the Eyeball]

You know those 2" Kong Squeaker Balls that Betelgeuse is so fond of [previous post here]?  Well, it turns out that she's not so fond of them being kicked at her eyeball.

On Tuesday night, she took a Kong Squeaker Ball to the eyeball, yelped in pain, ran to me for comfort, and spent the rest of the evening being pathetic and refusing to open her left eye.  Yesterday morning, she was opening her eye, but still squinting, and the vet recommended that I bring her in to check for any scratches on her cornea.  Even though I could have waited to see if the eye improved on its own, I kept thinking about the beagle I met in South Carolina who lost his eye after being hit by a golf ball (oh geez, can you imagine?), so I just went ahead and made the vet appointment.

I was home sick yesterday with a gnarly cold, and my boyfriend had taken the car to his work, so I just packed some tissues, threw Betel in a bag, and hopped on the subway to our vet's office in DUMBO ($2.25).  The veterinarian wet Betel's eye with a stain that glowed yellow in the black light ($35.00) and examined her eye for scratches ($65.00).  Her eye looked just fine in the black light.  No corneal scratches for my little raver.

Betel also got her overdue Bordetella Injection Booster ($35.00).  (I'm helping my veterinarian pay off her student loans.)

For our trip home, I remembered that we could take the East River Ferry ($4.00) back to Greenpoint.  I wish I had thought of it for the initial leg of the trip -- it's faster than the subway and way more fun.  It was Betel's first time on a boat, and she did great.  She is so calm and patient when commuting in a bag (doesn't matter if it's a train, plane, or whatever).  Everyone riding the ferry wanted to talk about Betelgeuse riding the ferry.  She needs business cards.

When we got back to the apartment three hours and 141.25 dollars later, Lulu was so unbelievably happy to see us.  The two pups are rarely apart these days, and I'm pretty sure Lulu thought we were never coming back.

Even though it turned out that nothing was wrong with Betelgeuse's eye, I don't regret taking her to the veterinarian.  It's kind of why I work at a law firm -- so I don't have to make difficult decisions like whether I will take my dog to the vet for a busted eyeball or pay my electricity bill.  (Although that past isn't very far behind me.)  I'm just glad she's okay.

And FYI -- she's still into the Kong Squeaker Balls, even the pink one that hit her in the eye.  She's awesome.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

$16.62 [FroliCat BOLT]

My brother's feline companion Future Cat spent his holidays at my apartment in Brooklyn.  I love me some Future Cat.  He's just one of those cats.

As an aside, did you know that Kyler and I rescued Future Cat in 2003 from a grocery store parking lot in Norfolk, Virginia, right after Hurricane Isabel passed through?  He and Lola lived together as young cats in Virginia Beach (although during his stay in Brooklyn, Lola was terrible to him, but she's terrible to everyone except for me).

Oh, Future.  He was so tiny.

Not anymore.

You wouldn't know it by looking at his 22 lb. throw pillow-esc frame, but Future Cat is quite playful.  He loves catnip toys, scratch pads, feather toys, and, most of all, laser pointers.  

So I knew exactly what to get him for Christmas:  The FroliCat BOLT ($19.95).  The FroliCat Bolt is an interactive laser toy -- you can either use it manually or put it on a flat surface, in which case the BOLT generates a fifteen-minute perfect-for-cats bolting laser pointer sequence.  You should have seen the joy on Future Cat's face as he unwrapped this gift under the tree (although he would have been happier if he also unwrapped 4 AA batteries, which don't come with the BOLT).  You can currently buy the FroliCat BOLT on sale at Amazon for $16.62.

Note:  I thought Future Cat would be fine with the BOLT, but if you're in the market for an automated laser pointer toy (and who isn't?), you should also know about the FroliCat DART ($34.95).  The DART is marketed for cats and dogs.  It generates 360 degree laser patterns, has variable speed settings, and features an adjustable timer (so, unlike the BOLT, it's not limited to fifteen minutes).  The DART, however, has no manual setting.  The FroliCat DART is currently on sale at Amazon for $27.99.  [I love how stressed out the kitten looks in the promotional image.]

My own pets don't have any interest in laser pointers, but if your pets do, these FroliCat products keep 'em occupied while you take a break.  $16.62 to keep this little devil happy and busy -- well worth it!