Thursday, August 30, 2012

On New Family Members and Equal Attention

Adding a new member to your family can cause a lot of turmoil to those lest intended, your existing family members. Unlike children, who for the most part we can explain a new arrival to, pets can easily feel replaced or unloved. I covered this a little in our guide on Introducing a New Pet Member. Having just brought a new puppy, Nora, into our family I am constantly reminding myself that, while a puppy does require more care and maintenance than an adult animal, it's easy for existing family members to feel replaced or left out. The new pet has no expectations for attention, or even belonging and territory; it will not feel left out, or replaced, or even intruded upon- but your other pets just may.

Of course, it's hard to be discerning when it comes to Mom's (my) attention, and affection; but I try to ensure I give everyone a fair amount of time each day. Sure, the puppy is just plain adorable, but Truffles and I have been through thick and thin, and Frankie is a part of this family too. Neglecting them for Nora would be like tossing aside an old 'toy'- only pets aren't toys, they're family members! The last thing I want while house training a new puppy is to have either of our cats become ill or distant due to animosity or depression. Introducing Nora has gone much smoother since the lessons I learned the firs time around, with Frankie. I've made sure each family member has a designated 'safe' and personal place to retreat to. The dog has the least 'ground' to roam (which also makes sense on the front of house training), and nobody shares food or treats. In fact, when it is play time, or food time, for one, they have my undivided attention.

Another great tool are long term toys- consider these chewies and even bones, for dogs. Believe it or not, Kong has a complete line of long term toys for cats. Toys designed to keep your animal engaged for hours (and longer if they are treat motivated). Recently I bought a Kitty Kong, which turned out to be one of their 'old' models, made from a thin plastic much different than the rubber base we often associate with the brand. I was happy to see Truffles take to it, but she had it broken and cracked after one afternoon! Of course I promptly waltzed back into our local pet store and exchanged the broken one for a kitty Kong that was made of similar 'classic' Kong rubber. This came with a salmon flavored paste Truffles instantly went crazy for. Needless to say, this has helped her feel spoiled, and kept her busy many afternoons when I am grooming or training the puppy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wild Wednesdays: Nora

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

John Paul Pet: Salon Quality Grooming For Your Pet Giveaway and Review~ 9/15

My pets are my children. I proudly display this sentiment with a "My kids have 4 paws" magnetic bumper sticker. The simple fact is, I love animals. I may have inherited this from my late Grandmother (who's home was never short of a baker's dozen of wayward pooches, felines, and even an assortment of colorful birds). But there is something about my four-legged companions that endures the toughest days and the most challenging of times. They love unconditionally (okay, they might demand a biscuit now and then), they have no expectations of me (except to love them back), and they remain 'kids' their entire life- needing me just as much the day they were born, as their very last. Yes, I have gone through shoes, friends, blenders, cars, and even men- but those wet little noses never seem to do me wrong. So why shouldn't they get the very best?

Now, being responsible for a dog, especially a puppy, is like caring for a kid. Some of the most horrendous odors have come out of the cutest little furballs- and how they seem to get so stinky, so fast, is a mystery to me! When we adopted our newest furball, Nora, I knew I would quickly become OCD with her grooming. Being hypoallergenic, with hair rather than fur, her soft and long coat requires constant maintenance- yet a gentle approach to ensure there is no irritation. There are so many things to consider when adding a puppy to your family. We had an enormous checklist weeks before Nora came home; puppy proofing cords, picking out a safe crate, investing in a playpen, age (and weight) appropriate flea care, puppy pads....the list went on. And, whether it's my 'kid' or not, I am a huge advocate of companies that never test on animals. Companies, such as John Paul Pet, that promote a 'We test on humans, first' attitude. At just 2.3lbs, Nora is quite tiny and fragile, I had to insist on the highest quality, gentle, cleaning aids to keep her looking and smelling her best.

If the name 'John Paul' sounds familiar, it's likely you've been in a salon over the past 30 years. You see, Paul Mitchell, one of the most prestigious salon haircare names, also championed an industry revolution, when he banned animal testing on his line of products. That's right, all of those 'cruelty free' brands out there owe homage to Paul Mitchell, the high class, style savvy, man- who also loved his four legged friends. Now, when I think of a 'salon quality' haircare brand for pets, I can think of no better name than his. Not only does this individual know what it means to have beautiful, healthy, locks (of hair), but that a pet parent feels their animal should have the very best- without the unnecessary risks of testing on animals. What's good for the goose certainly applies here- as all the John Paul Pet products are thoroughly tested on human subjects before ever meeting a distinguished coat.

Now, while I have to admit, the John Paul Pet line is incredibly 'smooth' in presentation, concept, and advertising (many of the promotional images feature the founder with perfectly groomed pups in baths)- it's the unique range of individual formulas and products that truly captivates me. What a unique approach to pet grooming- different formulas for different coats, and supplementary products to 'refresh' throughout the day! All pet owners know that the time, in between baths, can be the worst. I just love cuddling with Nora right after bath time, but we rely on an indoor 'pee patch' for potty training, and sometimes her little paws can smell less than inviting. Then there's the notorious puppy tear stains dogs of her breed tend to get, from hair and lashes interfering with eye ducts. But you wouldnt use the same products on your pup's feet, as their eyes and nose, would you?

I don't normally 'skip to the good stuff' with product features, but I'd like to now note that we recieved a generous sampling of the John Paul Pet line to try here on Time Out For Truffles. That being said, I have now replaced nearly all of our 'usual' grooming products and aids with this brand. There is a particular brand of coat refresher made by Pet Head that I still use (for the sake of honesty), but JPP's Coat Detangler, Rinse Free Shampoo, and collection of Wipes are now used religiously. I have recommended the brand to ever pet owner I know, offline, and even purchased supplemental units, since our initial shipment. Just why have I fallen in love with this brand? Outside of their noble product development practices, I feel that JPP understands the complexities of pet fur (and hair) can be just as demanding as that found on a human. Different breeds and pets, as well as various climates and seasons can affect an animal's coat; requiring a different approach to grooming.

I groom Nora every morning, when she first stumbles out of her crate- after potty runs, and about every 4-5 days in general (for rinse free washes), with baths every 3-4 weeks. While us humans wash our hair every day, on average, dogs and cats have much more sensitive skin (after all, their entire body is covered in hair/fur), and coats tend to lose their natural oils, and sheen, when over-groomed. Keeping your pup 'fresh' without compromising the quality of it's coat, or health, can be a challenge. John Paul Pets offers 15 specially formulated Dog and Cat safe grooming aids for the discerning pet parent. In addition, their newest formula, the Awapoochi Conditioning Rinse and Shine Shampoo are Paraben and EDTA free. Made with Hawaiian Awapuhi extract, this duo has a slightly sweet floral fragrance that is in step with the mild odors of the line. I love that John Paul Pet makes Nora smell clean, rather than masking the odors with strong and harsh perfumes.

My personal favorite collection, the JPP Wipes, covers Tooth & Gum, Ear & Eye, and Full Body & Paw. Each unique, the Ear & Eye wipes are odor free to be extra gentle on pup's most sensitive features, while tough enough to aid in the cleaning of ducts and 'tears'. The Tooth & Gum wipes utilize a baking soda formula to gently clean plaque from your pup's teeth. Nora is in a teething phase, and naturally wanted to chew on these. I can't say for a fact how enticing they may be to older dogs, but cleaning her teeth was much easier with the wipes than a brush system. My only hesitation with them was the potential to foster a dog's belief that picking up tissues and paper without mouth is a good thing- so I have tried my best to break her of the 'chewing' on my finger in her mouth habit (as cute as it is). The Body & Paw wipes are very lightly scented (a cross between Lavender and Johnson's Baby Shampoo) and are used daily in our home. Primarily, I use them to clean little paws, and cute tushes, but also for a morning refresher for Ms. Bedhead. I get the impression this is Nora's 'pampering' time, as she simply lays there and basks in the attention.

Of the 5 standard JPP Shampoo and Conditioner formulations, my favorite is the Calming Moisturizing pair, which pays extra attention to the texture and sheen of Nora's coat. On Frankie, our eldest cat with severe self soothing (grooming) issues, I've used the Oatmeal formula for it's gentle approach to dry and irritated skin. Frankie is always forgetting with a particular spot, to the point he molts fur, and the Oatmeal formula seemed to have an instantly soothing impact. He was much more mellow, and exhibited less grooming for several days after bath-time. For Truffles, I have taken to the unique Super Bright Shampoo, that claims to help get white coats looking their brightest. I have no complaints about the tint of her fur, being an indoor cat, but I can imagine this unique technology would work wonders for light coat pups that tend to pick up the strangest tints and stains outside. What I did notice, after bathing with this, is the consistent shine of her coat, and soft texture. Shedding seemed to diminish slightly as well.

Truffles and Frankie are both relatively short haired animals, but Nora is primarily hair. Bathtime does not end with a conditioning rinse, it finishes on our kitchen counter. First I am sure to dry her off 75%, with some impromptu towel time, Nora considers playtime. Then I reach for my JPP Instant Detangling Spray. I always seem to have to use a few priming pumps to get the product dispensing, a minor inconvenience, but the mist is so fine that it covers her coat quite well in just 2-3 spritzes. Next, I work the light formula into her hair with some tussles and comb throughs (with my fingers), then gently with a fine tooth brush. This works like magic to de-tangle mats and add additional luster to the overall coat texture. When we miss a few days without a brushing, and Nora's looking a little wild, I like to follow the Waterless Foam Shampoo with the Detangler for a fuss free refresher that has her looking (and smelling) as good as bath day.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mr. Herzher's Deluxe Wicker Pet Residence Review and Giveaway~ 9/2

It's no secret Time Out For Truffles endorses crate training pets. I openly admit that both of our cats are crate trained, and we own a large kennel they frequently share when our space doesn't allow for loose animals. A prime example would be during our cleaning days, or when moving; both Truffles and Frankie are indoor (spoiled) cats. We live in a 2 bedroom condo that provides ample room for our family, but can pose unique challenges when it comes to the front door. I'm constantly afraid someone will leave the door open, or I will forget to close it in the hustle and bustle of busy days. Of course this does not mean our animals are caged during the day, it is simply a safety precaution. However, when younger, crate/kennel training your pets can greatly speed along potty training and curb undesired behavioral issues. Properly trained pets will automatically retreat to the crate when instructed. Regardless of whether there's a door on the front or not, each animal needs a sanctuary they deem safe and all their own.

When we recently adopted our pup, Nora, I was glad to find her breeder had already begun the footwork for crate training. She was a mellow puppy who had already learned to be separate rest of the pack, and even her humans (which made for zero social anxiety). At 11 weeks, and 2.5lbs, with an expected weight not much more than 4, Nora requires constant supervision and a defined environment when left alone. Puppies, in general, can be naturally destructive with their incline to chew, and energy spurts, but teacups also face the risk of unexpected injuries. Leaving her in the bathroom at night is simply out of the question, and introducing her to her very own crate offered her an immediate sense of home, and defined boundaries at night. As an animal is less inclined to soil where they sleep, the puppy naturally learns to hold their bladder, or wake the owner. Of course, accidents do happen, and that is where choosing an appropriate crate is especially important.

When I set out to find the perfect indoor home for Nora I browsed many traditional wire based crated and plastic kennels. I have always avoided wire hatch containers since an old pup of mine found a way to leverage her paws through the many slots and wiggle the crate within range of an electrical wire (scary!) They also give me the horrible impression of being a prison, or even shelter cell, which is not very comfy for rescues at all! Plastic containers are not much better, they are most often used by owners for transport to the vet, and other unwanted trips, which may elicit unwanted connections and avoidance on the pet's part. They are also, often, incredibly difficult to remove the pet from in an emergency. (Try removing a hissing Truffles curled up in the back of a long plastic tunnel!) Yes, I wanted a 'crate' that we could call 'bed'; something that would resemble furniture for me, and something non-threatening for Nora.

This is how I came across Solvit Pet Products, a company defined by it's commitment to exceeding customer needs, through innovative and functional pet product designs. They specialize in a broad range of pet products, from cat loungers and litter covers to travel aids and furniture protectors. Product after product seems to tackle a very basic pet owner need, while adding a unique refreshing twist. If you lead an active lifestyle and love to take day journeys by bike, you'll find the Houndabout Bicycle Trailer the perfect solution for elderly or injured pets. Don't leave your pup behind because they can't make the entire trip, relive the adventures of their youth with an easy attach bike trailer. Remember those twists? This trailer can also convert to a stroller- for year round use by the entire family, and also doubles as a lightweight containment for your pet during stops and at the destination.

Yes, there are plenty of thoughtfully designed products made by Solvit, but none fit my immediate needs more than Herzher's Deluxe Wicker Pet Residence. This stable pet home is as posh as it sounds with versatile styling that helps it fit into any style home as a piece of decor. While the original Wicker Residence offers all of the same functional design, the Deluxe boasts a real wood frame that truly transforms this pet accessory into a work of art. Featuring Rhino Wicker walls that won't absorb fluids or odors, and a 2 way door for easy access, the Deluxe Wicker Residence comes in 4 size ranges. While Small would, clearly, have housed tiny Nora, I wanted to go with a size up to accommodate potty training and function as a plausible piece of furniture/decor in our bedroom. The Medium footprint is 30" deep and 21" wide and easily accommodates Nora's bedding and a potty pad tray.

Unless you are buying this product direct from a pet vendor, where it is already assembled, you will likely begin with a very heavy square box. I was a bit perplexed to find no paperwork inside, and spent several minutes hunting for instructions online, to no avail. I am sure this review will be of great help to man new buyers, though we did mange to figure everything out on our own with some intelligence. Included in the box are 2 side Rhino Wicker panels, 1 front 'gate' door, 1 back frame, 1 bottom metal grate base, to top Rhino Wicker panel, 4 wooden moldings, and a small bag of wooden pegs, wood glue, and screw pairs. Now, we decided to forego the wood glue, as we may intend on tearing it down to move or store someday, though the glue would be used with the wooden pegs at time of assembly for extra stabilization.

We first began by placing the back panel, inside facing us, on a soft (non scratch surface). We then placed all of the wooden pegs in the pre-drilled holes along the wood frame and molding. Next, paying attention to the alignment of the holes on both ends of the molding, match up the wooden pegs and connect the 4 pieces. Then, gently turn the residence on it's side and insert the (very long) screws into the drilled holes on the front of the (back) residence. Use the included L wrench to tighten the screws and secure the frame. Turn the residence back onto it's back. Next, slide the 2 side wicker panels into the guided slots on either side. Slide the top and bottom panel into the guided slots. Insert the wooden pegs into the remaining holes on the front panel and careful align and lower it onto the completed frame. Use the remaining screws to secure the front panel. Place the included (sticky) felt feet on the bottom of each raised leg. Some of the Rhino Wicker may have bubbled or expanded in shipping and storing, be gentle to wiggle panels into the guides when assembling.

When you are done, you can insert the provided plastic basing tray and open the gate via either of the (left or right) pinch triggered latches. Because this residence comes with a removable basin tray, it is incredibly easy to clean. I cannot stress enough how wonderful this it! Whereas I had to haul the entire crate out to the yard and hose it down before, I can simply remove the tray and clean it in the tub or sink now. The plastic surface is also great for cleaning with antibacterial wipes or sprays, though your pet will likely need soft bedding to buffer it from the hard surface. The double latch door is fairly easy to open, and can be a little touchy from time to time. There are small guide holes for the door latches to dig into, when closed, and I frequently miss them when closing the door. It's important to double check that both the top and bottom are securely within the guided chambers, when securing your pet.

Assembled, Mr. Herzher's Deluxe wicker Pet Residence is truly a wonderful piece of pet craftsmanship. It fits in with my bedroom furniture as a gorgeous bedside accent, and could even double as a table for lightweight plants, frames, nick-knacks, next to a couch or in the living room. Because of the Rhino Wicker, it does see to have an almost 'patio' feel, but the ark wood frame really helps tie everything together. Another one of my bragging points is the semi-private design that enables me to see a clear view of my pet from the front, or peek in from the sides, without giving the pet an impression of being exposure. (No more blankets thrown over crates to calm restless animals.) We currently house Nora in the Pet Residence when we have to run out for a quick errand, and to sleep at night. She took to it immediately, and loves all of the space. Surprisingly, there has been no chewing on the woven wicker, which is a very wide weave that detracts from snares or fidgeting. It's also incredibly sturdy, without the typical rocking you'll find in wire based kennels; making it much safer for energetic pups.

***Please note: Time Out For Truffles understands that each puppy's need is different. While this pet residence is most suitable for adult and non-teething young dogs, many puppies will be encouraged to chew and should be supervised until you know how they will behave with the wicker accents. The Wicker siding on this crate is tightly woven, tough, and around a metal frame. My unit does not have any snags or loose ends- though larger breed puppies may be able to tear apart the sides with their claws, to aid in chewing. Nora is a teacup puppy with good chewing manners, your puppy may not be the same. Always supervise crated animals when training, teething, and in new surroundings. We do not suggest leaving your animal unattended in the Pet Residence for long periods of time, after all you wouldn't leave your baby in a playpen unattended for hours- be safe!

One very lucky follower will win a Mr. Herzher's Deluxe wicker Pet Residence of their own!
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wild Wednesdays: Introducing Nora

Introducing our newest addition, Nora!

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