Friday, May 31, 2013

Desmond Goes Hiking in Queens

Oh you read that right. I said hiking in Queens. As in the borough of NYC. I don't know exactly what it is I was doing for the 29 years or so I lived in this borough--or the nearly 10 years I lived in the same zip code as this park--but I had no clue there were hiking trails and a pond within walking distance. 

Forest Park is a fairly large place that cuts through a couple of neighborhoods, but I had really only ever gone past it or gone into just the outer edges of it, half the time in a car and almost never paying attention. I once went to a party at the golf house, Oak Ridge. Oh, and I've been to concerts at the bandshell. OK, OK, maybe one keg party near Victory Field. But that's about it. 

There are hiking trails in the woods and walking paths or running paths or whatever you want to call them that are paved and travel alongside roadways for the most part. 

This is common knowledge to most people from my area. I am a clueless buffoon. And Desmond? He's his usual exuberant self.




Actually, hey, he looks happy here!




Narnia?
In the middle of Queens. Who knew? Oh, right. Everyone but me.
I'm just gonna assume that's a Sandy victim.


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Pet Product Review: Dynamo Dog Functional Treats from Cloud Star

You may or may not be aware that we here at Life With Desmond are huge fans of treats-maker Cloud Star. Their products are all-natural and made in the USA--I always feel good about giving them to Desmond and never worry about scary ingredients.

We're not too concerned with allergies, gluten, or wheat, but many of the Cloud Star lines do cater to those needs. And they're still delicious, as far as Desmond is concerned. 

We've probably tried every single flavor of the Soft & Chewy Buddy Biscuits (in both grain-free and regular). I don't think we've found one that Desmond scoffs at. The Soft & Chewy Wag More Bark Less line is another house favorite. We take those treats and crumble them over Desmond's food. Finally, the Chewy Tricky Trainers are, as you might guess, great for training treats. I actually break them in half and use them on walks. 

Our current open bags
So, yeah, we love Cloud Star. I was more than willing to try out their newest line, Dynamo Dog Functional Treats.

There are three varieties: Skin & Coat, Hip & Joint, and Tummy. We tried both the Tummy and the Skin & Coat

The review package
The goods
Desmond absolutely loves getting packages in the mail, so he was all about finding out what was inside this one, and he seemed pretty interested in the treats. 


(Sorry for the blurry pix. He moves a lot.)
I like the look of the treats, too, as well as the heft. Because these are functional treats, I'm all for their size. It makes me feel good to be able to give Desmond these huge (for us) treats without that guilt or concern about how fat I'm making my dog. 

Here they are. The Tummy treat is on the left; Skin & Coat on the right.
Some size perspective for ya
The Tummy treats are pumpkin and ginger flavored, and there doesn't appear to be any meat in them at all. The #1 ingredient is chickpea flour. There's also some maple syrup in there, which you can smell. Not bad! The Skin & Coat treats are, as you might expect, salmon flavored. Le sigh. 

Y'all know I hate the stench of seafood-flavored dog treats, food, and supplements. I wasn't expecting this one to be good, and of course it wasn't. But I will say that it's not the worst doggie seafood thing I've smelled. To this day, I will never forget the odor of that damn white fish dog food. Egad. So bad. But in the salmon treats, you can't smell the maple syrup (yes, it's in there, too) due to the salmon. I think that the other ingredients--which look super yummy--help keep the fish smell to a minimum though:

Salmon, chickpea flour, potato flour, tapioca starch, maple syrup, vegetable glycerine, carrots, apples, spinach, cherries, sweet potatoes, cranberries, natural flavor, salt, flaxseed, avocados, eggs, salmon oil, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (as preservative), vitamin E supplement, citric acid, mixed tocopherols (as preservative), rosemary.

[sidebar] Before you guys start freaking out about the avocado in these treats, let me say three things: 1) unless you have a teeny tiny dog, most "dangerous" things will not kill your dog in low doses--and it's pretty far down the list of ingredients; I doubt there's all that much in each treat to begin with. 2) I am not a vet or a dog nutritionist, so don't take my word for it. I'm certainly not going to be liable if you get these treats and, heaven forbid, something should happen. Don't come knocking on my door, saying I told you it was cool to give your dog treats with avocados in them. 3) All that being said, there's some debate about whether or not avocados are toxic to dogs and which parts of avocados that would include. Here are just two articles that address it:
Ask a vet: If avocados are dangerous for dogs, what's up with avocado dog food? and Avocados: Poisonous to Companion Animals or Not? [end sidebar]


As for Desmond and the treats, well, let's just say he was really really Desmond about it. His finicky habits have been pretty bad in the last couple of months--and many folks are suggesting that is due to the medication he's now on and this will turn itself around at some point--and we can hardly get him to eat his favorite treats (both dog and human).

He used to basically eat anything we would allow him to eat, and the way I gauged his rating of a treat was by how excited he got or how much he drooled on the floor. Now he is indifferent, poor guy.

So, I don't really know what to say about the treats. The day I first offered them to him, he turned them both down. Both of them! He sniffed them and walked away. But I can't say that it's because he really didn't want the treats.

A couple of weeks ago, he started eating both flavors of treats with no problem. That's great, but it's frustrating from a product review standpoint. Plus, these are functional treats. They're supposed to do something. But because he wouldn't take them regularly, he wasn't getting the correct dosage of probiotics or fish oil. It's impossible to report on the results. I'm really very sad. He did, eventually, go through the entire bag of salmon treats, and now we have about a quarter of the bag of Tummy treats left. I guess it could be worse.

I hope that Desmond's ridiculousness doesn't deter you from trying the Dynamo Dog line, but if it does, I implore you to take our word for it that all of their other chewy treats are great--especially the Buddy Biscuits. Desmond will eat those anytime!

Just for kicks, here's a pic of Desmond remembering the joy that is his camping chair (which luckily didn't get destroyed in the hurricane). Joey took him to the house on Friday to meet a man from the County who was representing a landscaping recovery crew that's helping homeowners remove the sewage-affected soil/grass from their properties. As you can see from the background, the weeds are having a field day and the shrubs pretty much came back (I keep saying it's all the fertilizer!). The tree in the back may be a goner, though.



Disclaimer: Cloud Star sent us two bags of their new Dynamo Dog treats in exchange for our honest opinion of the products.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Custom Dog Art from Chin Chilla by Tim Schatz

The other day, I posted photos of a custom T-shirt, onto which I put a pic of Desmond. But that pic of Desmond was not just any standard dog photo. Nope. It was a photograph of a canvas painting of Desmond that friend & artist Tim Schatz made. 

If you follow us on FB, Twitter, or Instagram, you may have even seen it before, but here it is again, in all its glory:



Crappy iPhone pictures do not do this painting justice (the in-real-life colors more closely match the image that was printed on the tee, actually). It's well done, it's pretty big (about 24" x 18"), and it's fully freaking awesome. It's not every day that someone just hands you a painted portrait of your dog. I cannot wait to get back home and find the perfect spot for this. If we were the type of family to make use of a dining room table, I'd hang it above that so Des could watch and judge us while we eat too many tacos. 

Hold on just one second while I make this painting cooler...

Here we go:

The inspiration for the painting

Come on--that's good stuff, is it not??

Tim--whose girls are Luca & Jackie--has painted a wide variety of subjects, real and imaginary, and some of his pieces would be right at home on the sides of buildings. There's something for everyone, really, but there can be something for you specifically if you'd like to commission your very own custom dog painting.

Sizes start at what I think is an adorable 4" x 4" tile-like canvas and go all the way up to 4' x 3' (that would be one really big dog painting; great if you have, say, a Newf or a Tori), with prices ranging from $50 up to around $500. 

If you'd like to commission an original painting, you can do so by contacting Tim via either the Chin Chilla by Tim Schatz Facebook page or the accompanying online art gallery. Not only that, but if you mention Life With Desmond while setting up your order, you'll receive 10% off.

Take a look at some of Tim's other animal pieces, a couple of which are available for sale in the online gallery:

A quick sketch Tim did of Jackie
This is one of my favorites, as the flamingo is my very favorite animal (what? you thought it was dogs?).  Pink Flamingo is available for sale in the online gallery.



This is Hoot, a 4" x 4" available in the online gallery
As I mentioned, there's more going on at Chin Chilla than just animals. There are also pieces like this:

I totally have a thing for T-rex, so I love this one on the right

And a series of paintings like this:

Graffiti is art, too! (As long as it's not on the side of my fence.)

In addition, there are a bunch of paintings that are NSFBFFCDLB. That's "Not Safe For a Basically Family-Friendly Crazy Dog Lady Blog." Personally, I love a lot of them, but they're a bit edgy for this space, so I will suggest that you go discover them on your own here and here. The Cookie Monster one is great (but not for the kiddies).

Maybe you'll find something you like more than a custom portrait of your pup (hard to imagine, I know) and want to grab it. Just remember to like the Chin Chilla Facebook page and tell Tim we sent you if you'd like to make a purchase!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Acting a Fool at Work





Don't forget: our next "real" post will feature custom dog art--and a special discount for LWD readers who'd like to commission a painting of their furkid!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Custom Doggie Tees from Dress United

Do you guys want to see something cool?

Look:



Oh, yes. That is a custom T-shirt with Desmond's likeness on it. Check it out:

Desmond models the shirt as a blanket
I model the shirt as a shirt
Desmond models the shirt as a shirt; wishes he was anywhere else in the world but here
"If I could move in this thing, I'd be halfway to Key West by now."
And that's what we got on the back of the shirt

Pretty freakin cool, right? 

When the folks at Dress United contacted us to review their custom shirts, I was very excited. Who wouldn't want to wear their dog's face on their chest? Oh ... normal people? Hmm ... well, that ship has sailed. I'm OK with it. 

And I'm more than OK with this shirt. The quality of the printing is really good: it doesn't look cheap, and the colors are perfectly matched to the image I provided (more on that momentarily). The process of making the shirt was easy and fun.  

My two complaints are actually based on my own choices--choices I assumed were poor at the time. 

I went with a white shirt, because none of the available colors (of which there are many) really worked well with the image I wanted to use. But white shirts tend to be a little transparent, as is the case with this one. So you can see where your jeans end through the shirt. I don't love that, but I basically expected it. The thickness of the shirt tells me that wouldn't have happened with the other options.

Other than that, I'm wishing I had gone either with a different style of shirt or with one size up. Partially, this was my fault. Partially, this is the fault of the site. 

Look at the options they give you:


Truthfully, I didn't even look at the shirt options on the left, because I assumed they would be too boxy and big for my liking. I went with the middle option, and from there was given two other choices:

I chose the Fashion version, the American Apparel shirt. Even though I was already well aware from previous experience with this brand that the shirts run small--and Dress United even warns you of that fact--I chose this particular shirt because I thought it would look like the example they use on the site:

This is the exact kind of tee I wanted: fitted and somewhat feminine, but still like a T-shirt--with a flat collar and flat arm hems. (all images are screen shots from dressunited.com)
What I got in the mail was a shirt with rounded shoulders/sleeves with that thicker/banded hem at the neck and sleeves. The sleeve hems kind of come in on your arms, and the whole shoulder/arm area looks a little puffy or something. It's just not the kind of cut and look that I'm into. It almost feels like a little kid's shirt or something. 



And I don't know who I was kidding, thinking the large would be big enough. It is not. But it's all good. I should have been smarter about my choices and not even messed around with anything in that middle section anyway.

This shirt will still be perfect for wearing around the house, on early-morning dog walks, to bed, and that kind of thing. I don't think I have the guts to wear it in public for real. I'm not even sure if I could muster up the courage to wear it to the gym. I think that I need to keep my Crazy Dog Lady status just between me and you. People on the streets of NY don't really need to know.

Now, before I hook you up with a coupon/promo code for Dress United so that you can order your very own custom shirt--whether it be for rockin' your dog's face all over town or some other purpose--I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

This shirt is a custom custom shirt.


That pic right there was made possible by our good friend Tim--Luca & Jackie's pops--who surprised us with a custom painting of Mr. Desmond. I took a photo of the painting and used it for the site to make the shirt. Really, really freakin cool, right??

Tim does all kinds of paintings, has an online art gallery/store, and will do commissioned paintings as well. More on all of that in our next blog post!!

And now, here's your coupon code for 30% off and free shipping in the U.S. at Dress United:

BLOG30OFF4U

Be sure to use this link if you'd like to order a custom item. If that's not working for you, copy and paste this into your browser's address bar: http://www.dressunited.com/redeem



[disclaimer] We received a coupon code for a free custom shirt from Dress United in exchange for our honest opinion of the product. 
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