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.

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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.

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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.

 

Treats at the Dog Park?

Last week I discussed whether or not bringing toys to the dog park was a good idea, given the chance of conflict (both human and canine).

In the comments, Jessica from You Did What With Your Wiener mentioned the related topic of bringing treats/food to the dog park, which shouldn’t be left out.

But before I dive into discussion, I’d like to start with a true story.

– * – * – * – * – * –

Until Moses was fixed, he was not at all food motivated.

There would be the odd time he’d show some interest, and pockets were certainly lined with cheese and dried liver when in the show ring (aka: How to Ruin a Pair of Pants in One Easy Step!), but if we could’ve somehow harnessed the scent of in-heat female dog, then maybe we’d have left with more than default participatory ribbons.

Once Big Mo’ went in for the ol’ snip-snip, however, the quickest way to his heart soon became food.

Fast-forward a few years to a sunny weekend when I decides to take Moses for a nice afternoon walk at Nose Hill Park, a large multi-use park here in Calgary that has a huge off-leash area.

Moses at Nose Hill Park

Moses at Nose Hill Park

We were walking in the off-leash area when three women approach, orbited by their off-leash dog.

Moses and the dog had a great greeting, but as a lab or lab-type, the play style was too quick for Moses and he declined the game of chase with the dog, instead lumbering over to greet the women who were oohhh-ing and ahh-ing over him.

“He’s so big!” “He looks like a bear!”

The usual conversation about Moses and his size ensued between me and the women, and the women pet and greeted Moses while their dog bounded around in the distance.

Then one of the women wanted the other dog’s attention and called his name and reached into her jacket pocket for some treats.

And Moses noticed.

He plunked himself right in front of her, gave her his best puppy eyes, and began to drool (as Moses does).

How can you say no?

Treat? For me? Please?

“These aren’t for you, buddy,” she replied, tucking the treats back in her pocket and petting him on the head.

So Moses craned his neck and sniffed at her pocket.

That’s when the tone of the interaction drastically and instantly changed.

“No!” She exclaimed. Then she grabbed Moses’ ear, pinched, and pushed downward.

Moses yelped, hit the deck, and looked at me like “Why did she do that?”. The yelping was out of surprise more than pain, I’m sure – both of us were extremely startled.

As someone who struggles with Resting Bitch Face on a regular day, I’m not sure if the look on my face communicated actual murder or just attempted, but she took notice and went on the (very weak) defensive.

Her friends were already extracting themselves from the situation, following after their dog down the path.

homebush

“I have to go out after this!” she tried to explain, following her friends. “I don’t want to get these pants dirty.”

I’d like to say I was the bigger person, taking the high road, offering forgiveness on behalf of Moses and I, and wishing her peace on the rest of her journey.

I’d like to say that, but I can’t, because that was not the case.

Instead I shouted after her as she retreated “Maybe you shouldn’t wear good clothes to the dog park! Maybe you shouldn’t pet dogs if you don’t want them to pay attention to you! Maybe if you wanted him away from you, you should’ve backed up or walked away or asked me – his owner – to do something! Maybe leave the treats in your pocket next time!”

Moses and I then headed in the opposite direction to continue our walk, during which I muttered to myself and thought of hundreds of more clever – and crude – things I could’ve said in the moment.

Moses – in the great way that dogs do – shrugged off the situation as quickly as it happened and had a wonderful time exploring the park and meeting other dogs.

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That’s my most memorial experience of treats at the dog park, so as you can image, I’m on the fence.

And as someone who probably doesn’t go to the off-leash more than once per month mostly because of potential interactions like this, I was soured by the experience for a couple of months.

I do understand that a lot of people use treats for training and can still be in the stage of relying on them for certain behaviours, so maybe keep them on hand just in case.

And unlike toys, treats don’t necessarily illicit the same resource-guarding concerns in dogs if doled out discretely and sparingly.

But problems can still arise when other dogs happen to notice the treats and want in on the action. Do you hold back the treats and deal with some canine persistence until something else catches their attention? Or do you share?

And if you’re tempted to share, then you open up several other concerns. Does the other dog’s owner even want you to share with them? Does the other dog have a food sensitivity or is on a special or restricted diet? Maybe the other owner doesn’t want you to reinforce their dog’s behaviour.

Coming back to the toy subject, I’ve seen owners with treats try to coerce dogs (theirs or not) to drop stolen toys in exchange for food. Frequently works – the dog will drop the toy, but will have gained a new focus.

Cute print from Etsy shop MarkJAsher.

Cute print from Etsy shop MarkJAsher.

I’m actually hearing that some dog parks have no-toy and no-treat rules, which is not something I’ve seen locally.

As with most dog laws (off-leash designation and leash lengths, for example) these regulations are only as good as compliance and enforcement, but I’d be curious to know statistically how well they do to achieve their intended results of fewer altercations.

As for me, I don’t bring treats to the park and it wasn’t anything I’ve ever truly considered, but I can see why some might. For the most part, it doesn’t bother me as long as those with the treats expect food flaunting to get some canine attention.

Then again, I also don’t dress in my expensive jeans to go to places where dogs of all kinds are free to run loose… but that’s just me.

I think Kristine from Rescued Insanity said it best: “This is a dog park. A dog park for dogs who do dog-like things.”