Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Wet Spring

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Helping me up the muddy hill


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Four wheel drive helps in the Oregon spring mud


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An Oregon slug


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tongue Out Tasty Tuesday

Ptera and Theodore Trex had some fun while sampling a recent review product.

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I know some people are super grossed out by tongue pictures, because they have told me so, but I honestly don't get it. I think dog tongues are adorable.

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And so are cat tongues.

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The texture of cat tongues, especially, fascinates me in pictures. I found it adorable that Theodore Trex was so into this food that he chose to keep participating in the photos, even sitting pretty the whole time to get his share.

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Adorable whiskers and tongue!


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Nose, dog whiskers, and teeny tiny bit of tongue.


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This post brought to you by Chewy.com and a review of Nutro limited ingredient canned food. I think it is safe to say that this food was a hit. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves in terms of that. (We were given this food in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way.)


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For the human side of the equation, I quite like this food. The smell isn't that nasty cheap canned dog food smell (where the meat is just called meat, you know what I mean). The ingredients are good, with the first ingredient being lamb, followed by potatoes, water, lamb liver, and potatoes. So I know a good deal of the food is actually the two ingredients advertised on the label. The texture of "premium loaf" is basically a pate, scoopable, no chunks, no gravy. Perfect for making little "meatballs" to hide a pill in if your dog needs pills, or great for putting on a spatula to lick off for cute tongue pictures.

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The feeding guidelines say that Ptera, at 10 lbs, would need 1/3-1/2 of a can per day. Since I know from experience that Ptera eats roughly double the recommended amount for her body weight for most foods, I would start her at one can per day if we fed this as her main food, and adjust from there depending on her weight. Fed as a meal, I gave her half a can.

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Good food. Good dog. Good cat.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Caturday: Cat Litter Review

Cats mean litter boxes. We love our cats, and hate their litter boxes. For years I've been using natural compressed wood pellets in the litter box rather than more conventional litters, but when I was given the chance to review a new scent of Fresh Step from Chewy.com, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would give me a chance to see if I switching back to conventional litter is a good idea, or if I should stick with what we've been doing.

We were sent this cat litter in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way.

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Theodore Trex is open to modeling gigs in the future

The litter we tried out is Fresh Step extreme odor control with Febreze freshness in the Hawaiian Aloha scent. When I first opened our Chewy box I could actually smell the litter. The scent is light and flowery without being heavy or overwhelming. The scent is a little too much when first pouring the litter into the box, and for the first hour or two. After that it starts to dissipate a bit. My cat explored the new litter pretty much immediately and ended up smelling like Hawaiian Aloha for a few hours, but that only happens with new litter. Each time I add a little more to his box, again, the scent is strong for a few hours, but mellows out after that.

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This litter clumps really well and is super easy to clean the litter box. Something that I don't like about the pellets we've been using for years is that while you can scoop out solids, the liquids stay in the box until you clean it out (liquids cause the pellets to come apart into shavings, so you can scoop it out a little, but not much), making you need to dump the entire box more regularly. I have not smelled a single gross smell from this litter box the entire time we've been using the Fresh Step, even when cleaning. This litter is more dusty than the compressed pellets, but not as dusty as I remember from other classic cat litters.

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The big downside for me of the Fresh Step is that it must be thrown in the trash. We recently moved and don't have traditional trash pick up at our new place. Things like dog poop and the cat litter box (when using the pellets made out of compressed wood shavings) can go into a large barrel for a specific kind of compost such as used when making humanure (look it up, it is fascinating and gross all at once, and probably the way of the future). Clumping litters can't be used with this kind of set up, though, so while we have been testing out this litter for review I have been needing to throw away the scoopings and the litter and bring it into town for disposal. Because of this, I think we'll be sticking with the pellets we have been using long term. However, I am absolutely saving the rest of the box of this litter to use while traveling, because I think it is a better choice for when in smaller spaces together or in hotel rooms.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WW: Jelly Belly Head

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My favorite picture from the fundraiser on Easter, of Steem getting treats out of a Jelly Belly box.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tylee's Dog Food: Part 2 #chewyinfluencer

At the beginning of this month, my dogs started eating Tylee's, a human grade cooked food exclusive to Chewy.com. This food is not dried like a kibble, so is delivered with dry ice and stored in the freezer or fridge, then thawed to feed. We were sent this food at no cost in exchange for our honest review, but we are not being compensated in any other way, and all opinions shared are completely our own. Read Part One from the beginning of the month.

Ptera and Theodore wait eagerly for their breakfast every morning.

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I used to feed just in the evening, but we moved this month (long story), and feeding morning and evening both kind of worked itself into our new routine in the new place.

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Well thawed Tylee's toward the bottom of the bag- still recognizable as food, but a bit mushier than thawing one serving at a time.


Ptera does a little happy dance when I head toward the fridge with her food. I'll try to get video before the end of the month, because her flips and jumps are super cute.

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The Tylee's is super high value in terms of foods for dogs. Ptera loves it SO much it is a little crazy. Koira has been getting some Tylee's as well, but more as a topper and mix in than full meals, and she absolutely loves it as well and gets super excited when she sees the bag come out of the fridge.

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Theodore Trex always wants to steal some of Ptera's food. Since it isn't formulated for cats, he can't have it as his meal, but I do sometimes let him steal a bit from Ptera or give him a small amount as a treat.

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Ptera has been doing great on this food. She normally gets weepy eyes when we switch food regardless of how good the food is, but she had none of that at all this time. She did lose some weight at first until I figured out exactly how much she needed to be eating, and I think switching to feeding twice a day helped as well. Now, she is looking sleek and happy.

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We'll have one more update at the end of the month to let you  know our final thoughts about the food, and how everything went all month! There are tons of things I want to talk about, from weight and measuring the food to coat quality and eye weepiness. But I'll have the best possible information on all of that at the end of a full month of eating this food.

For now, I'll close by saying that Ptera is looking forward to continuing to eat Tylee's, and Theodore Trex is just disappointed they don't have a cat formula.

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His expression when I told him this is dog food, not cat food.


Monday, April 17, 2017

An Awesome Easter Fundraiser

My flyball club put on an Easter fundraiser for our club yesterday, and it was pretty awesome. Of course I had to get a quick shot of each of my dogs with our photo backdrop.

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No green "grass" with Ptera's picture because I forgot to get it until we were pretty much done cleaning up.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

WW: Hiking in Abbotsford

I will admit that I have never gone to Canada without playing flyball, and have never done anything in Canada except play flyball (unless you count eating dinner with my flyball team or sleeping in a Canadian hotel, or stopping at a Canadian Costco to pick up tylenol). This time, I wanted to do something more. So I talked the two friends I was carpooling with to leave at the crack of dawn on Friday morning in order to arrive in Abbotsford early enough to go for a decent hike.

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All of these dogs rode in a minivan with three humans on the way to Canada. An additional JRT rode with us on the way home.

The Discovery Trail started at the fairgrounds where our tournament was being held, and it led through some nice open fields down into gorgeous wooded paths.

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The terriers, and the only two girls

British Columbia is very similar to Oregon and Washington, at least in the southern mainland area. I recognized most of the plants, and the forests felt familiar and much like the forests of home. We only went for a moderate hike of about an hour and a half since we needed to get the car unloaded and check into the hotel, and didn't want to tire out the dogs too much right before the tournament, but I am really glad we made the effort to get up there early.

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The "littles"


Monday, April 10, 2017

Run Free Flyball Tournament in Abbotsford, BC

I spent the first weekend in April in lower mainland BC at a flyball tournament.

Ptera ran full time on a team for the first time, and ran like an experienced pro. She earned over 900 points over the course of the weekend. I only realized on the drive home that she had also earned her next title, Flyball Dog Champion Gold (FDCh-G).

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This trip was pretty interesting because I packed into my van with two friends and 8 dogs between us for the trip. The amazing thing is that we all fit, and with all of our luggage that we needed, and extra crates for at the tournament venue. We also all shared a (really amazing) hotel room where the staff kindly turned a blind eye to the number of dogs we had. The hotel room had a living room, full kitchen (complete with stove, fridge, freezer, sink, microwave, and dishwasher), large bathroom, and a bedroom with two twin sized beds. Two of us took the beds, and the third crashed on the sofa cushions in the living room.

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One of the friends I carpooled with debuted her dog, Flynn (who has appeared on the blog before) in flyball, earning his FD and FDX. Flynn's little fluffy butt and adorable pointed toes make me smile when I look at this picture. And none of these pictures is taken by me. I set my camera up, and then the third person in our carpool took the pictures for Flynn's mom so she could have pictures of his debut- and got a few pictures of the other dogs on the team as well, including Ptera and Remi.

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The weekend was amazing in many ways, with flyball successes, some really fun close racing, a great hike on Friday, and the carpooling vanload of crazy. But it was hard in one huge, tragic way when one of our flyball friends lost her dog suddenly. While we don't know exactly what happened, we do know that it was not flyball related, and likely could have happened at any time, anywhere. So all of Region 7 spent the entire weekend seesawing madly between horrible grief and fighting back tears and the enjoyment we get from this awesome sport. Ollie was an amazing flyball dog, and was deeply loved by his person. We will all seriously miss him.

But, hard as it can be at times, I know that the best way to honor his memory is to continue in the sport, continue to celebrate the milestones and incredible moments, and to continue building relationships and enjoying the tight community that comes with running flyball in our amazing region.

At the end of the weekend, there was grief. There will be grief for a long time coming. But there was also joy, and a deep sense of camaraderie.

Hug your dog tonight. Do something fun with them. Enjoy the moments you have. Not because you never know if it might be your last together, but because every moment is deeply worth enjoying, even if you have thousands of moments more.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Easter Treat Hunt for Dogs

My flyball team (Apupalyptic) is hosting a fundraiser next weekend in Eugene, OR. We will be having a super fun treat hunt for dogs.

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Our super awesome flyer


My goal in how we set up this event was to make it friendly even to dogs who are not particularly dog friendly or who are shy around crowds, groups of people, or other dogs. We will have only one dog (or one family of dogs, if the owner chooses) in the room at a time, so that they can hunt in a safe environment without being surrounded by strange dogs or people. I've always wanted to go to dog Easter egg hunts, but was never comfortable with the way they were set up, with lots of leashed dogs all searching at the same time. That isn't something that would work for my dogs. So while we are doing this awesome fundraiser, I wanted something that would make me feel safe to attend with my dog.

Anyway, I just wanted to share it in case any of my more local blog readers were looking for something super fun to do with their dogs next Sunday.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tylee's Human Grade Dog Food Review, Part 1 #chewyinfluencer

For the month of April, I was given the opportunity to try out Tylee's dog food from Chewy.com for my dogs. Tylee's is a human grade food that comes in Pork, Chicken, Beef, or Turkey. This isn't a raw dog food, but it also isn't a kibble. Instead, it is most like a home cooked food without having to home cook it yourself.

We were given this food in exchange for our honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we were not compensated in any other way. 

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I chose the Pork flavor to try out this month. I like feeding pork when it is an option because it isn't a super common protein for dog food and my dogs seem to do well on it.

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This food is required to be frozen or refrigerated. It should be thawed for feeding, or stored in the freezer if not being used. Like any meat product, it shouldn't be kept for more than 10 days in the fridge, and if it reaches room temperature, it should be discarded after 2 hours. Because of all this, Tylee's arrives at the house in an insulated box with dry ice to keep it cold. I happened to be home when our box was delivered, but I put the dry ice back in the box to see how long it would last (in roughly 60 degree weather) and there was still dry ice over 24 hours later. So I have no worries about this food being delivered while I am at work, though in the summer, I would leave instructions to place it in a shaded spot as direct sun would likely make it all thaw faster.

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One of the great things about Tylee's that makes me excited to try it out is the list of ingredients. Pork heart and ground pork are the first two ingredients on the list, followed by water for processing, and then beef liver. After that are the vegetables included in this recipe, broccoli, kale, carrots, butternut squash, and pineapple. Each of those are things that Ptera will happily eat by themselves if offered (though she can be picky about the size of offered vegetables, too big of chunks and she'll spit it out). This is a single protein diet, so when they put pork in it, there is ONLY pork in it. Each of the flavors is the same- completely single protein recipes. That makes it perfect for dogs with protein allergies or specialized diets. While that isn't currently an issue for me with my dogs, it is great for all the people who do have to deal with that.

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I opened the bag while it was still frozen. You are supposed to defrost the food before feeding, but since I have a very small refridgerator (I actually just have a mini fridge), I am keeping the bag in the freezer and using it from there. I didn't realize at first, until I reread the information about the food, that I should be measuring from the thawed amount, not the frozen amount, as the product will get somewhat smaller when thawed than when frozen. So when it says a dog should get 1 cup on the bag, it means 1 cup thawed. Since I am scooping from frozen, I just make sure to get a heaping cup instead of a flat cup, and it seems to be about perfect to compensate.

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Chewy even included a one cup measuring cup for me with my Tylee's, which I have been using to scoop. You can see in these two open bag pictures that the meat and vegetables are immediately obvious. You can pick out the pieces of broccoli, squash, and carrots if you want to. I like how obvious it is that this is whole, real food. However, super picky dogs would be able to leave behind veggies if they picked through the food.

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We're just getting started feeding this food, and I'm looking forward to using it for the month and sharing the experience. If you are interested in Tylee's, right now, Chewy.com is having a buy one, get one deal if you enter the code TYLEES after adding two Tylee's products to your cart. Or, just check back in with us in a few weeks to see how the dogs are doing with the new food.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Hiking Goals

One thing is immediately obvious to me while putting together this post. And that is, I have an entirely excessive number of pictures to share. I think I'll take that as a good thing- it means I have made it out to a number of different hikes and beaches this month. 

First, the local Bald Hill trail system got our visit. March is the beginning of the nesting season for some local birds, so it becomes pretty important in the off leash stretches to keep your dog either on leash or under close voice control, because letting them off into the fields can cause some serious damage to the nesting birds. 

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This counts as being on the trail, right?
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Most of our trails in Benton County have these brown markers




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Showing the way the trail goes

A trip up to visit a friend in Portland gave us the chance to visit a totally new park. I've heard about the Sandy River Delta park (also called Thousand Acres) for years from the Portland area people, but I've never had a good chance to go until now. We went for about a two hour hike with five dogs, and there were plenty of trails we never even saw let alone hiked. Some areas were a little flooded, but not nearly as bad as I hear it is now.

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A carved wood trail marker at the Sandy River Delta


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One of the many trails to walk on at the Sandy River Delta


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Sandy River Delta trail map and information

Early this month, the lower Willamette Valley got hit with some surprise snow. They originally told us it would snow but not stick because the ground was too wet. When the snow was obviously sticking first thing in the morning, and I knew I didn't have to work until later that afternoon, I just had to go out for a hike. I actually managed to be the first person on top of Bald Hill in the snow.

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Bald Hill's main sign in the snow early this month


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A less than completely useful trail marker


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I don't think newts are generally out in the snow.


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We walked far enough to get to the other parking lot and grabbed a picture of the sign there

A trip to the coast with a friend was a spur of the moment decision. The weather wasn't great to begin with, and just got windier and wetter the longer we stayed there. We had a goal in mind, but ended up not being able to find the beach we were looking for. Instead, we took the scenic route along the Three Capes and stumbled onto a small collection of trails. We turned around when the sheer cliff drops combined with the wind gusts freaked me out too much to keep going. I might try that trail again in the future on a calm day.

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I'm honestly not sure of the official name here- we were kind of lost and found some hiking trails
We stopped at Cape Kiwanda (in Pacific City) on our way south) to grab a picture of some of the rock formations out in the surf. My friend had been there the previous weekend and forgotten to grab a picture. We walked on the beach for maybe five minutes before deciding the wind and rain was just too miserable to be worth it and heading back to the car to continue south. I'm including it because we technically hit the beach there, even if it was a short visit.

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This was a rainy, windy, overall terrible weather day at the coast, but we stopped at Cape Kiwanda anyway

On that same day, we stopped for lunch in Neskowin, at a really nice little restaurant that has a fireplace in the corner (very welcome after our short beach walk at Cape Kiwanda) and great local food. The weather had dried up a bit once we were done with lunch, so we headed down to the beach for a little while. The tide was high but headed out.

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Neskowin Beach, which happens to have a really good place to stop for lunch


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Sometimes the beach isn't accessible this way due to high water
Back in Salem at the end of our very wet and windy coast trip, the sun was out and the sky was blue, so we decided to take a bit of a walk at the two connecting parks along the Willamette River. We started in West Salem and then went across the foot bridge to the downtown riverfront area, and then back. These are some nice trails, and the footbridge is fun, but large and stable enough to not be scary.

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The waterfront in Salem has some nice casual walking trails and a foot bridge over the river



I shared some pictures of kayaks earlier this month. Well, we went out to Sunnyside Park in Linn County to do a little bit of kayaking on a gorgeous day- the last day of winter, in fact. We had enough time to either do a little hiking or get some lunch before heading to flyball practice, so we chose lunch and decided to leave hiking for another day.


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Sunnyside Park in Linn County is on Foster Reservoir, and has boat ramps and camping, but not much in the way of hiking. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park is in Corvallis, and has some off leash trail options. The off leash areas aren't very long, so I often end up doing a few laps, or combining with some of the on leash areas. This time of year, the off leash areas were basically sucking mud swamps. Ptera had fun though, and it held off on raining until right after we left.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park is a local Corvallis City park.


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This is a fun painted sign at MLK park


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MLK park has some off leash trail sections which can be fun, though they are mud pits this time of year

Another trip to Bald Hill just a few days ago, and I noticed I hadn't gotten a picture with this sign yet. We probably went to Bald Hill 2-3 times this month without taking any pictures, as well as the times where the camera came along. It really is my favorite local trail system, being accessible, allowing dogs off leash, and having a variety of trail options.

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Duster joined me and Ptera for a Bald Hill hike


Overall, I think I did pretty good for hiking, beaches, and lakes in March. An early kayaking trip landed me at Foster Lake, we hit two different beaches, a new park in Portland, a new hike on the coast, a new park in Salem, and a number of trips to Bald Hill and other local city parks.

Having this goal in mind really does help motivate me to get out and do stuff. Instead of sitting at home watching Netflix, I decide to get in a quick hike at Bald Hill. Instead of enjoying a full day off at home, I ask friends if they want to go to the coast for the day. I'm enjoying it a lot.