Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Wishes from Our Family To Yours

This is pretty much what our Christmas card looks like, with some candy cane dividers. Happy Holidays from our family to yours, we'll return on December 1st with fresh content!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hepper: Hepper Pod Bed- Design friendly Pet Furniture Giveaway/Review~ 11/20

When I was about 8 we had a gorgeous Long Hair White Cornish Rex (breed) cat we had saved from abandonment in a nearby alley. We'd taken him home to our humble little condo and could immediately tell he had been domesticated prior. A quick vet check found that Kimba (named after the childhood cartoon character Kimba the White Lion) has very serious growths along his collar, and would require expensive medical treatments. This is no doubt the reason this loving animal had been abandoned in the first place; a tragedy, yes, but he quickly became a beloved family member with us. Momma had a knack for taking in ill animals, and her compassion for them is something I've carried on into my own adulthood. But where is this tale going? Well, you see, that was the first time our family became a 'pet home'.

Living in a small 2 bedroom condominium, with boxed in 'porch' and a center dining/living room meant design was limited. One could always see the dining area from the couch, and vice versa. So discrete pet furniture was out of the option. Shortly after Kimba moved in so did a towering skyscraper of plywood and carpeting, known as a 'cat tree'. Looking back I can imagine this was one of Momma's nightmares, a precocious young girl, quite the tomboy herself, and a rambunctious cat transitioning back from living wild. And oh how she despised that piece of furniture. Really, who honestly wants to stare at a myriad of barrels and poles covered in torn up carpeting? But she loved her daughter, and her cat, so she endured through the makeshift cat tree 'forts' I'd devise, and the endless hissing that would follow me sticking my entire head in the various compartments. Even my father began treating the cat tree as more of a fixture; it would collect strewn coats, and even hide prized gifts from my childhood. (You may recall tales of a 4' long stuffed lamb I'd received for Valentines from my dad- this was 'presented' hanging out of said cat tree).
Yes, having cats means having cat furniture. deny them designated safe spots to lounge and hide, and they will inevitably claim what you deem as 'yours' as their own. When I first adopted Truffles I didn't have the luxury of contemplating these issues; we were in a fairly cramped space and she had free reign over whatever she could get her paws on. I tried to provide makeshift shelters, in the form of eco-friendly cat towers, but these things only seemed to add to the clutter and disarray. Now that we are all a happy family in our own space, the challenge, with 2 cats and a dog, is to find modern pet furniture that is functional and stylish. Like most kids, I'm sure they don't care about the print of their pet beds, but, like most parents, I try to impress my tastes upon them. And it is exceedingly difficult to find tasteful pet furniture that is as equally functional as it is design friendly. Believe it or not I spend a great deal of time browsing websites and blogs specifically engineered for the design savvy pet owner. And that is precisely how I stumbled across Hepper and it's breathtakingly executed, Hepper Pod Bed.
Hepper embodies pet furniture elegance; specially designed by an actual cat owner (he owns quite a few felines, I hear), these pet beds, loungers, and scratchers are intended to delight both the user and the buyer. With a very simplistic color palette, mesmerizing curves, and void of needless frills, the Hepper line is quite accurate to the cat's namesake, whom the line was intended for. Intrigued? Read up on the Hepper story here, and discover what Hepper is really short for. In the mean time I'd like to gush a little over what has quickly become the hot spot of our household; the Hepper Pod. Out of the box the Pod's materials are very lightweight and incredibly easy to assemble. While possible solo, the process will speed up dramatically if you have an extra pair of hands to stabilize the steel frame. Once screwed together the Hepper Pod has 3 more elements, the bed basin and optional hood top (made of flexible and soft fabric laminated foam), and the provided reversible sherpa lined bedding pad. All 3 elements have guided notched that pop onto the small bulbs at the top of the frame. The foam 'shell' exterior will give  when gently forced, do not be afraid of tearing.
Assembled I was amazed how light the Pod was and feared it might not handle the weight of Frankie, our heavier (10lb) cat jumping in and out. Since assembly I can say that this is a very durable, and stable, piece of pet furniture. I hardly see it budge on our laminate floors, yet benefit from the ease of relocating it from one room to the next. We had initially assembled the entire Pod for the cats to inspect, but neither seemed too interested in hanging out there for too long. The overall hollow/cove is about 1/2 the size of our smallest cat tree cove and even the smallest, Truffles (6lbs), seemed to want more space. So the hood easily popped off, and the Hepper pod converted into a lounger/bed. I would be doing a disservice to downplay the territory wars that have broken out over this 'prime' piece of pet furniture real estate. We have 2 cat trees, for just 2 cats, in our home, and the Pod is without fail constantly occupied.
Frankie seems to get the Pod more than Truffles, even going to lengths of swatting her off, when he wishes to sunbathe in the window. I allow this only because Truffles has an entire tree just 2' behind the Pod's usual home. However, when Truffles finds the Pod unoccupied (perhaps Frankie is out for a restroom break, or checking the perimeter, she loves nothing more than to curl up in the pod. Sometimes we'll even catch a few paws, or a tail lazily twitching over the side. Thank goodness the dog hasn't discovered it yet (I think it's just high enough off the ground she won't bother), because I don't need another jealous pet! The Hepper Pod has been surprisingly successful in my home, and I cannot praise it enough for it's ease of transport or cleanliness. When the Pad gathers too much pet fur I simply toss it in with the wash, it doesn't get any simpler than that!

(A common sight around here....someone's always coveting out Hepper Pod!)

One of our readers is going to win a Hepper Pod Bed, thanks to the amazing folks at Hepper!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Very Frankie Christmas- Help Us Pick The Photo

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It's time to pick Frankie's photo for our family Christmas Card- Let us know which you like best!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nora's Christmas Shoot: Help Us Pick The Shot!

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It's that time of the year again; Christmas Photo time! Which of the 4 shots above do you think should go on our family's 2012 Christmas Card?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Big D Post: How To Care for Your Pets When They're Irregular

Today's not the most glamorous of  topics, I know. But if you have a baby, you have poop; and pets are nothing more than babies that poop (for you to clean up) their entire lives. And while they gain more control over these internal systems, and schedules, as they grow up, only to degenerate again with old age; pet owners will forever be tossing waste as an act of love.

So, it is quite understandable how one of the most frustrating circumstances, for a pet parent, involves an uncontrollable lack of precisely that; control. Even worse if you are trying to potty train a puppy, removing their control can cause increased frustration for owner and pet. When your pet exhibits diarrhea, the frequent passing of runny or loose stool resulting in bowl movements up to every 30 minutes, for over 6 hours, there can be many causes. Unfortunately, only the most patient of us have the talent to overlook the initial, inevitable, accident, and identify the circumstances as out of the animal's control. Many times pet owners will mistake the beginning stages as traditional 'accidents' or misbehavior. While loose or liquid stool is the most common sign of bowl disruption, the first signs can still be fairly solid; simply more frequent, discolored, or especially foul in smell.

As nauseating as the topic may be for many, it is an occurrence that every dog will face at least once within their lifetime. This can be brought on by a sudden change of diet (or likewise ingesting a foreign object or substance), parasitic infection and intestinal illness, or other health related issue. Note that not all cases of diarrhea involve worms or parasites; in our most recent encounter it was triggered by extreme overeating on Nora's part (and boy did she pay). If you are concerned about parasitic infection, or contracted disease, monitor your pet's stool closely for rapid changes in color, black stool, or blood. If you see any of the above, seek help immediately. One thing that is always sure to go hand in hand with this event is dehydration. Contrary to popular belief, giving your pet plenty of water will not increase the cause, but replace the drastic amount of water/fluid being lost. Denying your pet water during these occasions can be life threatening!

So what can you do to help your pet in this frustrating, and embarrassing time? Realize that the pet will likely not be able to make it 'out' or to the potty, despite trying, and having close access. They will have accidents, so it is best to limit their area and line floor/bedding appropriately with pee pads or towels. You should also be prepared for many 'half' baths, as I call them, and forgo grooming until the episodes have ceased. It's not going to be glamorous so be sure to properly clean your pet, but forgo the frills of brushing and styling. It's likely that your pet will feel shame, or regret, for accidents and their lack of control (even messes left behind on themselves). Be sure to give your pet extra affection, but keep them calm and minimize playtime (over exertion will add to dehydration rapidly).

When it comes to food cease food immediately for a minimum of 12 hours (some veterinarians suggest 24, it will vary on the size of your dog, and how long it takes for them to flush their systems). Remember, lots of water! After the pet has fasted you should be sure to introduce only bland, flavorless food. A natural mixture of steamed rice and plain chicken is best to replenish nutrients. If you have a small breed, like Nora, and are concerned about forgoing calories for any period of time, you can supplement with some probiotics, or yogurt, in minimal quantities. This, and freshly cooked (or canned, but NOT pie filling) pumpkin will do wonders to improve the stool conditions within hours. If your pet's symptoms don't begin to improve within 32 hours or if you notice lethargy, lack of returned appetite, or abdominal pain, consult a vet immediately. Best wishes!

***Note: I am not a licensed physician or veterinarian. All advice contained inside is from the knowledge and experiences as a pet owner, with other pet owners and professional guidance. It is always suggested you seek a professional's advice if concerned for the health of your pet.