Saturday, November 30, 2013

FitDog Friday - Swimming at Alpha Dog Club

With less daylight and colder temperatures, mom and I decided I should try a new fitness activity for the winter months.  We had wanted to check out Alpha Dog Club since they opened a year or two ago, and mom recently got a deal on Groupon to give it a try.  So a few weeks ago, I had my first swim at Alpha -- an Intro Swim, Assessment, & Ramp training.  First I learned to use the ramps to get in and out of the pool.

This is my "What crazy thing do you want me to do now, momma?" look

So this is how it works

I quickly got the hang of things and was able to swim without a leash.  

This ramp is pretty cool

I was doing so well, I got to take off the PFD (puppy flotation device) and swim NAKED.

Mom says I'm kinda' timid when it comes to pools. (In my defense, pools can be scary because they're deep and have steep sides.)  So she wasn't sure how much I'd like swimming at Alpha.  I used to swim in a pool at daycare every week, but the daycare pool closed a long time ago, so it's been a really long time since I've been in a pool.  

I was a little bit hesitant at first, but once I learned to use the ramps and I saw how easy it was to get in and out, I thought it was really FUN!  The nice lady kept throwing a Kong Wubba for me to retrieve and I was all happy and excited to be swimming and retrieving.  It made momma happy to see how much fun I was having while getting great exercise.

When we went back the following week, I was very happy to be there and eager to get started.

I'm ready for you to throw the ball
(note waggy tail)

I'm waiting

I remembered how to use the ramps.

And I once again had a great time.

I LIKE this place

We went back again the following week, and we've decided to make visits to Alpha Dog Club a weekly thing.  Swimming is an excellent way to get a full-body workout, and it's also FUN.  Since we do so much hiking, swimming is great for me because it exercises different muscles and helps loosen me up if I'm stiff or sore from hiking.  

If you live in or near Richmond, you should check out Alpha Dog Club.  The pool is heated and is saline (instead of chlorine) so it doesn't irritate my skin.  Once you graduate to unassisted swimming, you can join the pool buddies program for $10 swims, or you can save money by buying a package of swims.  Alpha Dog Club also offers Dog MassageTreadmill Training, and Pet First Aid Classes.

A wet paw-print on momma's shirt
(I have NO idea how that happened)

Check out the other posts in the FitDog Friday Blog Hop (see links below) for more great ideas about fun ways to get and keep your pup fit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Garth's Gift Guide 2013

to all of our friends, near and far.

Since Black Friday is tomorrow, and frantic holiday shopping will soon commence, I thought I should go ahead and publish my gift guide today.

Looking for a gift for the dog or dog person in your life?  Need some ideas?  Look no further -- the 2013 edition of Garth's Gift Guide is here just in time for holiday shopping.  (Disclosure: We don't get anything from listing these products.  These are simply things we like that we think our readers might like.)

Custom Vinyl Decals of YOUR Pet by

We think is one of the coolest ideas ever and the perfect gift for the pet parent who has everything.  We have a Dig My Dog decal (of me, of course) on the Garth-Mobile and mom plans to order one for the Daddy-Dog-Mobile as well.  It's not quite life-size, but it's big.  Not only do we love the decal, which is high quality and has held up well, we love that 100% of the profits from the purchase of Dig My Dog decals support Indigo Rescue and help them help more animals.  Buy this one-of-a-kind gift and help homeless animals at the same time.  What could be cooler?

Monthly Poop Bag Delivery Subscription from PoopBuddy
If you've never thought of poop bags as a gift, these fashionable bags will change your mind.  Everybody needs poop bags, right?  How about poop bags in cool colors and snazzy designs, delivered monthly with a gift?  They even donate 10% to dog rescue.  Each month we look forward to our Poop Buddy shipment.  (Well, mom does.  I can only get so excited about poop bags.) 

Dogbag Duffel
Doggie Walk Bags 

Another poop-related item that would make a thoughtful gift is a Dogbag Duffel from Doggie Walk Bags.  Mom uses one attached to my leash and she thinks it's very cute and super handy.  She also loves's refill bags tie handle bags on a roll because they come in bright colors and are made of sturdy material and are easy to open.

Lighted collar and/or leash from Keep Doggie Safe
I have both a rechargeable lighted LED collar and a battery-operated lighted LED leash and I use both when walking in the dark to make sure I'm clearly visible.  We've tried the lights that clip on a collar but haven't had much luck with those.  The clip-on lights haven't worked well and generally weren't very visible.  But the collar and leash have lots of lights and make me very visible when we're walking at night.  Nothing says you care like a safety accessory for your best friend.

A Guide to Braveries for Small Dogs
by my pal Reuben (available on Amazon)
Contrary to its title, A Guide to Braveries for Small Dogs provides sage advice for dogs of all sizes.  My mom also enjoyed the book immensely.  If you enjoy Reuben's blog Floppy Tongue Joy, you'll love his book.  And Reuben donates 10% of the proceeds from the sale of his book to Almost Home Dachshund Rescue so they can help more doggies just like they helped Reuben.

Stocking Stuffer ideas:

For yummy treats made of healthy ingredients, I  recommend Zuke's (Mini Naturals are my favorite), Honest Kitchen Quickies, and Honest Kitchen Smooches

I love The Honest Kitchen smooches

For something extra special, give a subscription to Be Pawsitive for monthly deliveries of healthy yummy treats.  (And for each box of treats you buy, they send a box of treats to a shelter.)

I'll do anything for a Be Pawsitive treat

Want more ideas? Check out my mom's post in the Healthy Paws BlogDog Accessories Worth Fetching, and also check out Last Year's Gift Guide.

Remember, you only have a few days left to enter my Zuke's Mini Naturals treats giveaway.

Monday, November 18, 2013

#ScoopThatPoop Blog Hop - Poop Patrol & Another Poop Bag Giveaway!!!

Every month, some of my blogging pals and I host a #ScoopThatPoop blog hop to bring awareness of the importance of picking up after your dog.  If you don't think it's important, be sure to read Dog Poop and Drinking Water.

This month's topic is Poop Patrol.

When mom and I lead a hike, dad comes along too.  He hikes at the back to make sure we don't lose anyone, and he also carries a plastic bag for everyone to put their poop bags in.  Everybody jokes and calls him the "poop guy" but he's playing a very important role.  Sometimes he has to pick up poop that someone else has left on the trail.  We don't want any of the doggies on our hikes leaving poop on the trail for someone else to pick up, or step in -- or worse, for it to get washed into the river and pollute the water.

Daddy as "the poop guy"

And now for the super-exciting news:
#ScoopThatPoop is having another giveaway of EarthRated poop bags and stuff.  To enter, just use the Rafflecopter thing below.

   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Zuke's Mini Naturals Product Review and GIVEAWAY! #FuelTheLove

Zuke's Mini Naturals Product Review
by Garth Riley,
featuring guest reviewer Franklin Bear

As part of the #FueltheLove blog hop that I posted about on Friday (see my earlier #FuelTheLove post), Zuke's sent me a PACKAGE.

This is what boxes are for, right?

Next we try to open it

I'm waiting

Something smells yummy

Oh boy oh boy oh boy

Zuke's sent me a whole bunch of treats to review -- they sent SIX bags of Zuke's Mini Naturals:
Fresh Peanut Butter Formula
Savory Salmon Recipe
Delicious Duck Recipe
Wild Rabbit Recipe
Roasted Pork Recipe
Roasted Chicken Recipe

I get to try ALL OF THESE?

I can't decide what I want to try first


I had tried Wild Rabbit flavor Zuke's Mini Naturals before, but this was the first time I got to try some of the other flavors.  We even did a taste test where mom put me in a stay and put different flavors on the floor and then said "okay" to see which flavor I went to first.  I am pleased to announce that I LOVE THEM ALL.  In fact, I don't seem to have a preference for any one flavor.  All of the Zuke's Mini Naturals I tried were SUPER-yummy.


I was curious if other doggies would like the Mini Naturals as much as I did, so I asked my friend Frankie if he wanted to try some and tell me what he thought about them.  He enthusiastically responded . . .

(Photo by Frankie's momma)

So Frankie tried the Delicious Duck Recipe, Fresh Peanut Butter Formula, and Savory Salmon Recipe, and unlike me, he had a preference for the duck.

I found all three flavors quite to my liking, however after careful consideration, I believe I prefer the Delicious Duck Recipe.
But I think I need to try some more just to make sure.
(Photo by Frankie's momma)

Frankie and I both wholeheartedly agreed that Zuke's Mini Naturals are SUPER-yummy. 

Healthy Ingredients
While yumminess is important, it isn't the only thing we look for in treats.  Mom is super careful these days about what I eat, both in terms of the ingredients and the calories.  Each Zuke's Mini is less than 3 1/2 calories per treat, so she can give me a lot when we're training.  All Mini Naturals are wheat, corn, and soy free and are made of nutritious whole food ingredients.  So you're not getting empty calories or some unspecified meat product.  In fact, the first ingredient on the list is the protein giving the treat its name.  For example, Delicious Duck Recipe lists duck first, Wild Rabbit Recipe lists rabbit first, etc.

Made in the U.S.A.
Zuke's Mini Naturals are made in the U.S.A.  That's important to us because it means we can be more confident about product safety, we're supporting U.S. workers, and fewer resources are being expended to get the product to the market.

Speaking of resources, we were happy to learn that Zuke's is very earth-friendly:  

Beliefs That We Support
We were also very impressed when we looked at the Zuke's website under Our Beliefs.  Zuke's beliefs include staying healthy, being active, healing others and getting involved.  As I've mentioned in previous reviews, we prefer to give our business to companies that give back to the community, take steps to lessen their environmental pawprint, and support things we believe in such as staying healthy and active.

Being active is VERY important to us
(Look closely at what's in momma's pack)

Photo by Frankie's momma

Based on all of these factors, I give Zuke's Mini Naturals my highest rating of FOUR PAWS.  We highly recommend all six flavors of Zuke's Mini Naturals treats.  (Mom wants to mention that they are the perfect size and consistency for training treats because they are small, soft, yummy, and low-calorie.)

I get Zuke's for doing my core workout

A special thank you to my pal Frankie for helping me out with this review.  If you'd like to see more of Frankie, his facebook page is Frankie Bear.

Photo by Frankie's momma

Zuke's gave me some free treats for me to review, but I received no other compensation for this post. 

So now that you're dying to have some Zuke's Mini Naturals treats, here's a giveaway to win some:

My Zuke's Treats Giveaway

Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter thing below to enter my own individual giveaway.  I have six bags of Zuke's Mini Naturals to give away, so I'll select two winners to receive three bags each.  Be sure to also enter the group giveaway here and check out the other bloggers in the blog hop (links below) and enter their giveaways too.  The more you enter, the greater your chances of winning some yummilicious Zuke's treats!  (Sorry but this is only open to residents of the U.S.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 15, 2013

Zuke's #FueltheLove Blog Hop and Zuke's GROUP Giveaway

I have an important announcement

Announcing the Zuke's #FueltheLove Blog Hop and an easy way to support 
the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund

Today is the beginning of the Zuke's #FueltheLove Blog Hop.  My pals and I will be reviewing various Zuke's treats, blogging about some of the cool things Zuke's is doing, and hosting a bunch of giveaways of Zuke's treats.  Be sure to visit my pals in the blog hop (see the links at the bottom of this post) to learn more about Zuke's and enter some fantastic giveaways.

One of the absolute coolest things that Zuke's is doing is called "Fuel the Love to Fuel the Cure."  For every person who follows @ZukesPets on Instagram or Twitter and tags their action-packed pet photo or video with ‪#‎FuelTheLove‬ and @ZukesPets, Zuke’s will donate $5 to The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund up to $10,000!  Zuke's already donates a portion of sales to the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund, but this is a way they can help even more while promoting awareness of dog and cat cancer.  

It's easy -- just follow @ZukesPets and tag your action pet photos #FuelTheLove and @ZukesPets.      

Zuke's Minis Product Review and My Zuke's Minis Giveaway coming up in the next few days

As part of the #FueltheLove event, Zuke's sent me SIX bags of Zuke's Mini Naturals to review and I have SIX bags to give away.  I'm still performing taste testing for my review (nom nom nom), and I've enlisted one of my buddies to assist me.  I will be posting my review and my very own Zuke's Minis giveaway in the next couple of days.   

I get to try ALL OF THESE?

I think I'm gonna' need some help with these

Zuke's Treats GROUP Giveaway

As part of the #FueltheLove Blog Hop sponsored by Zuke's and hosted by EventBarkers, there will be LOTS of giveaways of super-yummy Zuke's treats!  Be sure to visit all of our pals in the blog hop and enter their individual giveaways to increase your chance of winning.  

Zuke's and EventBarkers are also hosting a fabulous GROUP giveaway.  In the group giveaway, four winners (sorry, U.S. residents only) will receive FIFTEEN bags each.  The giveaway begins November 15 and ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on December 1.

To enter the GROUP Zuke's Giveaway, just follow the directions below. 

Don't forget to check back in a few days for my own Zuke's Minis review and giveaway.  Enter all the giveaways to increase your chances of winning.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Keys Stories, Part 5 - Farewell Key Largo, HELLLLOOOOO Key West!!

We're always sad to leave Key Largo.

Our favorite Key Largo view

Our favorite Key Largo restaurant

Our favorite Key Largo cautionary sign

Our favorite Key Largo side-of-building art

Close-up view of our favorite Key Largo side-of- building art
(After all, what's a shark sculpture without a severed limb?)

We had breakfast at Mrs. Mac's and said farewell to our new friends, packed up the car, and headed southwest along the Overseas Highway -- our favorite drive.  

We stopped in Islamorada for photos with the Big Mermaid.

You've heard of the Little Mermaid, right?
Well, this is her opposite

Family portrait with the Big Mermaid

By the time we got to Robbie's, it was already lunch time, so we stopped at the Hungry Tarpon for a bite.  

Is she really making me pose for another photo?

The Hungry Tarpon is dog-friendly, and it was nice and shady there, and mom & dad said lunch was yummy.  After lunch, mom fed the tarpon (I first wrote about mom's tarpon-feeding addiction in Tarpon Feeding 101), and we met a very nice lady artist in the parking lot. She said she spoke Labrador and I found her to be quite fluent.

This is what I think about posing for another photo

It always takes us a long time to get from Key Largo to Key West because there are so many places we want to stop along the way, and we always meet nice people and stop to talk with them.  We never want to hurry along this route because the drive along the Overseas Highway is amazing -- it includes about eleventy-seven bridges and dad's favorite bridge, Seven Mile Bridge. The views from the bridges are breathtaking!  The ocean is different shades of aqua and blue, speckled with green mangrove hammocks. Even the roadside is interesting.  If you look closely, you see iguanas munching on the grass next to the road and an occasional Key Deer.

When we got to Key West (our absolute favorite place in the world), we checked into our hotel, then headed to dinner at the Island Dogs Bar for yummy food and fun people-watching.  It was Friday night and Duval Street was really hopping, but we were so tired after dinner, we went back to the hotel and went to bed. (I guess we're just not the party animals we once were.) But early bedtime means early morning exploring, so I had no objections.