Monday Mischief 23: The Porcupine Strikes Back

It may be tempting to cry ‘mischief’ on behalf of mother nature, since the past two weekends we’ve had significant snowfalls, but the truth is, April is the second-snowiest month for Calgary, after March.

Alma enjoying the snow

Alma enjoying the snow

But in true Calgary form, it’s gone as quickly as it arrives, and we’ve also had some nice weather for spending time outside.

Moses and Joshua (my parents' dog, who were visiting)

Moses and Joshua (my parents’ dog, who were visiting for Easter)

Moses

Moses

Photo shoot crashers!

Photo shoot crashers!

Now, regular readers might remember that Moses had his first ever porcupine encounter in January at this very same off-leash park (click here for the story). No real meeting occurred thanks to my frantic interception quick and graceful thinking, but it was close.

What I did not think of since was now Moses knows the scent for porcupine.

So, as we’re heading back to the car, that wasn’t my first thought when Moses scampered down an embankment. I figured maybe he’d spotted a squirrel or chipmunk – which he’ll go after, despite having no hope in hell at catching one. We’d already walked past that exact spot once without incident, and it was the middle of the afternoon, so I wasn’t initially concerned.

When I heard him breaking through thick brush, it hit me – what else have we seen in the park? A porcupine!

This time Moses had a head start. And a lower clearance to make it through the brush quicker.

By the time I caught up, the porcupine had wedged itself in the centre of a dense bush, back to Moses, and head down, hoping we’ll just leave him alone.

Porcupine defence strategy

Porcupine defence strategy

Since I wasn’t as quick as I was last time, Moses had a few seconds to do whatever he was going to do to the porcupine without interruption.

And it was just as I had expected.

He sniffed it.

That’s it.

I got there and Moses looked at me, looked at the porcupine, wagged his tail, and looked back at me.

He was so thrilled he made a new friend. (The porcupine felt otherwise.)

So thrilled, he didn’t even notice he got these:

Still oblivious.

Still oblivious.

So I leashed him back up and we took our walk of shame back up the hill to the path.

Then I inspected the damage. Four quills. That’s it. LUCKY.

They weren’t in deep – barely hanging on – so I dealt with them then and there and pulled them out. Moses didn’t even wince.

Back in the parking lot, I did a full face and mouth inspection looking for more and found none.

Hardy a trace of mischief left

Hardy a trace of mischief left

Since weekends are when I try to walk the dogs separately, Alma wasn’t there. And I’m glad. I really have no idea how she’d react to a porcupine – or to receiving a couple of quills – but I do know she’s not as easy going as Moses. I’m not keen to find out what she’d do.

A dog-porcupine interaction is rarely fatal for dogs, but frequently results in harm to the porcupine. I'd hate for one of my dogs to be the cause of that. Look at this baby porcupine - look how adorable!

Look at this adorable baby porcupine. A dog-porcupine interaction is rarely fatal for dogs, but frequently results in harm to the porcupine. I’d hate for one of my dogs to be the cause of that. Make sure if you have a dog/porcupine incident you make sure the porcupine is okay, too! There’s more than likely a local wildlife rehabilitation centre to call if not.

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, visit Snoopy’s Dog Blog here, My Brown Newfies here, or Alfie’s Blog here.

monday-mischief

When NOT to Get a Dog

I am always happy to help people look at the cute dog and puppy photos in adoption listings when they want to add a new or another canine to the family. The thought that another dog will be able to leave the rescue system and find a happy new home is always a positive one.

This adorable pup, Mara, is currently adoptable through ARF - Alberta Rescue Foundation

This adorable pup, Mara, is currently adoptable through ARF – Alberta Rescue Foundation

So when a coworker recently asked for assistance on this very issue, my gut reaction was enthusiasm. Sure! There are lots of great rescues in the Calgary area to look at!

But that positivity immediately waned.

Upon further consideration of the specific circumstances surrounding this adoption enthusiasm, it immediately occurred to me that helping look at dog profiles possibly wasn’t sending the right message in this case.

Now, people are going to do what they’re going to do. And maybe definitely it’s none of my business. But when I get asked for advice, I want to give good, appropriate advice. And my former stint as a dog trainer means I still get asked for advice frequently enough. So, despite my better judgment, I often give it (in my experience, few people actually act upon it, and then complain to me further later, so really this is just an exercise in self-disappointment).

So this has me thinking: adopting a dog is great, BUT it’s not always the right thing to do.

This is Emily. She is currently adoptable through AARCS. I find her canine version of RBF hilarious.

This is Emily. She is currently adoptable through AARCS. I find her canine version of RBF hilarious.

Here’s when you shouldn’t get another dog:

1. When you don’t have positive things to say about your current dog. If you frequently complain about your current dog’s habits – or lack of habits – you should probably work with the dog you have before you add another to the mix. Don’t like how your current dog doesn’t play fetch with the kids or go on walks? Those are all “problems” you fostered as an owner and can be worked on with the current dog – it doesn’t warrant replacing them.

2. When you’re getting the second dog to keep the first one company. Think the new dog will keep the old one entertained? Maybe. But the new dog will also pick up on the habits of the old dog – the ones you like, AND the ones you don’t like. The result? Two dogs to complain about. Example? Alma learned to lift her leg to pee – and marking behaviours – from Moses when we adopted her. No, not a huge deal. But still. Weird. Get your first dog where you’d like behaviour-wise before adding another canine to the mix.

3. When you’re promising extravagant changes. Don’t get out much? Don’t walk the current dog but you’ll definitely walk the new one every day? Sure, that’s possible. But, like failed January resolutions, it’s also (more) likely you’ll continue the well-ingrained habit of no dog walking at all. Get the routine changed first before you make the big commitment to another living being.

4. When not everyone is on the same page. Some want a puppy. Some want to adopt an adult. Some want a big dog. Some want a medium-sized dog. Some want a dog that’s super active. Some want one that will be calm in the house. Some don’t know what they want. You really need to figure out what works best for your family before impulsively adopting a dog that won’t fit. The whole family needs to be on the same page about everything both before the adoption and after – going to puppy classes, reinforcing training rules, reinforcing house rules, etc.

5. When the dog is for someone in particular. First, living things don’t make great gifts. Second, you think he’s going to be your child’s dog, but you’re wrong. He might be the family dog, but he’s also going to be adults’ responsibility. A young child can’t be in charge of long daily walks when the dog is bigger or stronger than them and when they’re not allowed past the end of the street unsupervised. You – the parents – will primarily be the ones walking, training, feeding, grooming, cleaning up after… all of that. Your kid might make bold promises, but, even if well-intentioned, they will likely be short lived. Trust me, I know. This is how I conned my parents into a second cat when I was 14. Maybe they should’ve taken me up on my threat to “never speak to them AGAIN!” (Aren’t teenage girls just the worst.)

6. When there’s change afoot. Stressed? Busy schedules? Changing jobs? Moving? Kids changing school schedules and extracurricular activities? Introducing a new dog to chaos isn’t exactly fair to them or you. Wait till life settles down and if you still want to adopt, do it then.

7. When your current dog isn’t well socialized. Like point 1, you need to make sure your current dog has good manners before expecting her to share her house, her toys, her space, her family with another dog. A second dog is going to be a big adjustment for your first one, and you can’t ignore how they respond to the transition.

8. When you don’t have time. A second dog isn’t 50% more work; it’s at least 100% more work. Definitely more if you’re getting a puppy. Now you have two mouths to feed. Two vet bills to pay. Two poops to scoop. Sure, you can walk them both together… most of the time. But now you have two dogs, they each deserve one-on-one time on a regular basis, even if that just means individual walks on weekends. And if you get dogs with different exercise and training needs – definitely more work.

9. When you haven’t fully thought it out. Sure, you saw a cute pup at a local adoptathon and the kids fell in love. As hard as they may try with their screening processes, rescues can’t weed out all impulse adopters. Even if the process goes for a week or more, the decision itself to adopt can still be impulsive. You need to more than sleep on it. You need to be realistic about what a second dog entails. And you need to pay more than lip service to the responsibilities.

10. When you (and your family) have some things to learn about dogs, interacting with dogs, and dog behaviour. Don’t tell me how “adorable” it was when your toddler walked up and hugged a strange dog in a pet store and expect me not to dust off the soapbox and launch into a lecture about kids and dogs and strange dogs and greeting dogs… I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

Somtimes I feel like I could share this graphic by Dr. Sophia Yin every day and it wouldn’t be enough.

11. When you’re getting said dog from a pet store or an online marketplace like Kijiji or Craigslist. If you need an explanation here, I have nothing more to say to you.

So, in the case of my coworker, I’ve changed my tune, specifically highlighting several of the points I made above. Will she take the advice? We’ll see. It’s hard to pull people back to logical thinking when they’ve got adorable puppies in their crosshairs.

A quote I think of frequently when I resolve to be bluntly honest.

A quote I think of frequently when I resolve to be bluntly honest.

Will at Marking Your Territory made a good, relevant point on this very subject earlier this week, when he wrote “Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ to get a pet“. The point isn’t to get a dog in spite of all the problematic circumstances I’ve listed above; it’s to change your circumstances. Or, in Will’s words: “Don’t wait for the right time, make it the right time!”

This is great advice. For example, is your current dog somehow an obstacle to you wisely adding a second dog to your house? That’s completely within your power to change as you work towards training and socializing your first dog in preparation for the next one.

These things are almost always in our own hands – and it’s only fair to you, your current dog, and any potential new dog that you make the smartest decision, not the impulsive emotional one (sometimes those can be the same thing).

This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.

Barks&Bytes

Product Review: Bugsy’s Box

Yep, you saw that right. Someone out there sent the Soapbox free stuff in exchange for my candid opinion.

Sure, I’ve waxed poetic about my Dyson and Musher’s Secret before, but those were unsolicited. This is different.

So I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to an inaugural ‘official’ product review when this arrived in the mail.

IMG_7221

Who is Bugsy, you may be asking?

That’s real-life Bugsy, there on the right. He’s the pug BFF of the founder of the company.

Bugsy’s Box? It’s a subscription that gets you a different selection of toys and treats for your dog every month.

How does it work?

Easy. Go to bugsysbox.com and follow the ridiculously easy instructions. You can pick a plan based on the size of your dog and the length of subscription that you want: 1 month, 3 months, or 6 months. Then you wait.

And before you ask – yes, those of us above the 49th parallel are included! Canadians are often excluded from these kind of programs, and Canadian bloggers are often not eligible for many product reviews or giveaways, but Bugsy’s Box has free shipping to Canada AND the U.S.!

We just like to be included...

We just like to be included…

On communication: overall I’m very impressed with the communications I’ve had with Bugsy’s staff – mostly same-day email replies, and they seem very engaged on social media. Definitely important factors when shopping online!

The feel-good element: aside from including only US-made treats, Bugsy’s Box is also a supporter of dog rescue.

Bugsy Twitter

So now that we’ve reviewed the ‘who’, let’s get to what’s in the box.

IMG_7227

In addition to what you see here, you also get a one-page insert detailing the items you’ve received and any current Bugsy promotions/contests. Thumbs up for simple, recyclable packaging.

You typically get 5-7 items in a Bugsy’s Box. We got the following 6 things:

Total estimated value of contents of box: ~$65 CAD. Not bad when a one-month subscription is $29!

The best part? The timing worked out perfectly and Alma’s home and able to participate with testing out the loot!

First up – the water toy. An excellent choice for a couple of Newfoundlands, and I can’t wait for things to thaw so we can really test it out in water. It’s made of a neoprene-like fabric, and it’s been around the house for over a week now and Alma has yet to tear it open.

Moses and the new toy

Moses and the new toy

Moses and Alma could even be goaded into a game of tug with the new toy, which is rare.

tug

Unexpected downside: neoprene toy + drooly dogs… you do the math. The thing holds some moisture and you’re going to want to rinse it out. Overall, home run, though.

Next up is the treats.

The bully stick is an easy win for sure – they’re always a huge hit in our house.

ingredients labels

For the bagged treats, as you can see, oatmeal and rice are main ingredients in both kinds – so even though the one is “grilled bison flavour”, actual bison is pretty far down the ingredients list.

Though, the good news is I don’t see any of the real red flags for dog food: corn, corn meal, corn gluten meal, wheat, or soy.

Sure, there’s not a lot of actual meat there, but when it comes to dog treats – something given sparingly – I don’t really care. That’s the thing about treats – they’re treats! I don’t pretend Nutella is good for me, but I still like it from time to time… with a spoon… straight out of the jar… perhaps I’ve said too much….

Alma and Moses - very willing product testing participants. The big treat is the , and the smaller one is the

Alma and Moses – very willing product testing participants. The big treat is the cheddar and bacon one, and the smaller one is the bison-flavoured one.

Now, to be honest, Moses and Alma like everything. They’re dogs. Their approach to life is “oh, we’re doing [x]?! That’s great! [X] is my favourite!”

So needless to say, both treats went over very well.

Moses & Alma taste-testing

Moses & Alma taste-testing

The smaller treats, the Fruitables skinny minis – Grilled Bison, reminded me of Swedish berries for dogs in texture. Only gross bison-scented berries. While I did not think they smelled delicious (I was alone in that opinion), I did think they’d be a great size for those who treat train. Despite only really smelling like the meat you’d expect them to contain, the dogs dug them.

And they weren’t the only ones.

"What's going on here?" - Isaac

“I’ll just help myself, thank you.” – Isaac

The cats were also huge fans of those treats.

The bigger treats, the Lucky Pet Brands Cheesy Cheddar and Smokehouse Bacon Dog Treats, were great for Moses and Alma, because, well, they’re big dogs. They’re a bit crumbly and therefore messy, but we have enough animals in our house that the mess disappeared quickly.

Out of curiosity, I put out one of each treat to see which one the dogs picked first, and they both went for the bigger one first. Though, I think that might just be because it was bigger.

Interestingly, the cats wanted nothing to do with the bigger cheese and bacon treats. I suspect the size and harder texture worked against them there, because they gnawed at one for a bit before giving up.

Both kinds of treats came in resealable packaging, which is basically essential.

Alma post treat-tasting. A photo for anyone who thinks she's 'not very drooly.'

Alma post treat-tasting. A photo for anyone who thinks she’s ‘not very drooly.’

Last up: the paw butter.

Moses unaware the taste-testing portion of the review is over

Moses unaware the taste-testing portion of the review is over

Now, I’m already a fan of Pet Head grooming products for dogs. Both the deodorizing spray and spray shampoo are essential products in our house.

The paw butter, like the packaging promises, smells great (to me – Moses and Alma didn’t seem overly impressed). It’s used for dry and cracked pads, which should prove useful as we go through our spring melt and have just endured a winter of snow, ice, gravel, and road salt. Moses didn’t even lick it all off after application! The all-natural product will go easy on your carpets or furniture or whatever else the paws may come in contact with.

Moses' paw before and after paw butter application

Moses’ paw before and after paw butter application

Overall: definitely impressed with the Bugsy’s Box delivery!

We don’t have to deal with pet food allergies or sensitivities in our house, so we can roll the dice on receiving random treats. And I don’t have any strict loyalties to brands or types of treats and toys, so this is a great way to try out new products and get some selection outside of what local stores might be able to offer.

Would I recommend it? Sure, if you like to spoil your pets – and who doesn’t?! I mean, look at the value of the contents vs. the price you pay – who doesn’t love a good deal!?

I would definitely buy it for myself, but I think I like it even better as a gift for dog-owner friends and family members, which you can arrange through the site.

And now for the best part: 

Just for being a Soapbox reader, you can save $10 on your next Bugsy’s Box subscription! Just enter the code SOAPBOX at the checkout. That saves you 15% off a three-month subscription!

And once you’ve exhausted that discount, like Bugsy’s Box on Facebook or follow on Twitter for more occasional savings opportunities.

Bugsy's Box comes with a box?! Isaac approves.

Bugsy’s Box comes with a box?! Isaac approves.

The fine print: Bugsy’s Box sent me the products you just read about free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. I admit a little bit of pre-bias in that I love free stuff and was pretty excited for the first Soapbox product review. Bugsy’s Box is in no way responsible for the content of this post and I have not been otherwise financially compensated for it.