Non-dog folks turn pale at the thought. But responsible dog owners, knowing how important it is to clean up after our dogs, think nothing of reaching down and picking up a fresh, fragrant pile of Fido's feces with our hands. Oh, not our bare hands, of course, but often with nothing more than a couple of millimeters of flimsy plastic between epidermis and excrement. No big deal. Until, that is, one of those handy plastic bags breaks. Intrepid as committed poop-pickers may be, even we will blanche at the thought of . . . well, you can imagine.
My husband and I acquired two (temporary) canine foundlings last week. Julie is a five-month-old purebred Akita puppy that we rescued from our local shelter, where her cage card identified her as a Shepherd/Husky mix. Her prospects for adoption were dismal, given that the shelter euthanizes 85-90 percent of incoming animals. Our second castaway, Princess, is a three-year-old Beagle mix. My husband and I were driving down a busy highway when we spotted her, hunched in the middle of the road, defecating while cars swerved around her on both sides. Princess was wearing a collar and tag, but her owners had moved, and she ended up staying at our house for several days while we tracked down their new phone number and location.
Each year as the holidays approach, we review the long list of products we’ve evaluated during the year in order to highlight the best and the brightest for you. You might find some that would make perfect gifts for your hard-to-shop-for dog friends, a few to add to your own list for Santa, and several that you can stuff into your favorite canine companions’ stockings. Just remember that the best gift you can give your dog, after all the shopping and wrapping is done, is a lifelong loving home.
We’ll admit it: We’ve been sleeping on the job. Our test dogs – and their test families – have been trying out dozens of beds, seeking to discover the qualities that contribute to a pooch’s good night’s sleep . . . and which construction details help us keep the beds clean and in one piece. We’ve identified a list of features that a good bed’s gotta have, and a few things that make some beds hard to live with.
The first time I ever noticed booties for dogs advertised in my pet supply catalogs, I laughed out loud. How frou-frou can you get? I have since realized that there are some very legitimate purposes for dog boots, and have revised my opinion of their usefulness. In fact, the dog boot industry is a highly specialized one, with different styles of boots produced for different purposes.
Dogs in the wild don’t need baths. Why do our dogs? Well, they don’t need baths, but if they want to live in our homes, and sometimes even sleep in our beds, they have to look and smell cleaner than dogs normally do. Shampoos can be formulated for general cleaning, or for specific purposes, such as killing fleas or soothing irritated skin. Since there are more effective methods of accomplishing both of these tasks, we’ll focus only on the sudsy substances that do the best job of cleaning your dog’s hair, without irritating his skin, or making him sick.