I used to think my dog, Penny, was a pretty lucky pooch. She gets two outings a day (one is usually a visit to the dog park), she spends her days snoozing on the floor in my office, and she dines on protein-packed, grain-free dog food.
Then I met Shaker.
Shaker is my friend Kyle’s dog. Shaker joins Kyle on overnight hikes to alpine lakes. Shaker has several daycare providers who expose him to a variety of dog parks and neighborhoods throughout the city. And Shaker has a palate that’s probably more refined than yours and mine combined.
“Apples, carrots, pears, bananas,” was Kyle’s response when I texted him for a list of Shaker’s favorite snacks. “He loves watermelon and pineapple.”
It became suddenly clear that if Penny and I had any chance of hanging with the big dogs, I’d better create an itinerary that could measure up to Shaker’s recent kayaking trip in the San Juans.
Game on, Shaker.
Heard about herding school?
One of the biggest reveals I’ve ever experienced was my old dog Gus’ reaction when we took him to Ewe-topia, a herding school for dogs in Roy, Washington. Our cattle dog mix came alive when he entered the pen with a few sheep, effectively corralling the animals like he’d done it all his life. Google “dog herding near me” to find a farm where your dog can spend some time getting back to his roots.
Not all dogs like bananas like Shaker does, but it’s a good bet they enjoy meat. Make your own jerky-like treats at home, and skip the fillers and artificial ingredients found in most commercial dog snacks. Cut a pound of frozen raw meat into small pieces about the size of a quarter. Spread them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 160 degrees for one hour. Lower the heat to 140 degrees and heat for another eight hours. (The process is even easier if you have a dehydrator.) Your dog will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Seems unfair that we humans are the only ones who get to enjoy a sip at Starbucks. Let your canine friend partake with a Puppuccino – a dollop of whipped cream in an espresso-sized paper cup. It’s free, but you have to ask for it – the Puppuccino isn’t on Starbucks’ menu. Sustainability points if your dog brings his own reusable cup.
“Alexa, tell Furbo to give Rex a treat every hour”
All good dogs should get treats – even when their owners aren’t around. The Furbo dog camera takes the baby monitor concept a step further: it not only lets you watch your dog remotely, but it allows you to talk to him and dispenses treats on command. It even lets you set a treat dispensing schedule using Amazon Alexa.
Snooze in style
After a hard day herding sheep, there’s nothing like a refreshing nap. Dog beds come in all sorts of styles and colors, but few offer a soothing base for sore muscles. The PupRug Orthopedic Dog Bed is made with memory foam and guaranteed to keep its shape for 10 years. The bed comes in two styles (curvy or rectangle) and three sizes (small, medium and giant), and all include a washable fuzzy cover. You can pick the one you like based on the size of your pet; a small one for a teacup Pekingese or similar pocket dog, while a larger one should suffice for bigger breeds like a Great Dane.