Giving the discerning dog owner the "upper paw" on the best products, nutrition and training tips.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Gift Issue 2013: Top 5 Gifts for Dog Lovers

We can't forget the dog lovers during this holiday season.  So, if you are looking for some last minute gift ideas...these are a few we love!

1.  Private Photography Session - What better way to capture that hilarious expression or "I'm so innocent and cute" look than with a private photography session of your pup?  A picture lasts a lifetime and so do the memories you have with your dog.

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Prices can vary from $150 - $600 for private photo sessions.  Check out Happy Dog Sessions from Rialee Photography!

2.  Custom Portrait - Similar to a private photography session, custom artwork, is a great way to celebrate and proudly show off your furry friend.

Photo Credit:  Etsy - AnnaMarieRochelle by Annie Nelson
Artwork ranging from $140-$250

Photo Credit:  Etsy - baybeari designs
Artwork raning from $35 - $90

3.  Coffee Table Book - This kind of gift is always so chic and thoughtful.  Who wouldn't love curling up with a glass of wine and flipping through adorable pages of Man's (and Woman's) Best Friend?!

We recommend:

  • DOGS by Tim Flach
  • Dogs in Vogue by Judith Watt
  • Hollywood Book of Dogs  by Robert Dance
  • The Big New Yorker book of Dogs by Malcolm Gladwell

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Price:  $50

Photo Credit:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bookstore
Price:  $45

4.  PJ Salvage Dog Pajamas - Who couldn't use some cozy pajamas during this time of year, especially ones with adorable pups all over!

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Price:  $67

5.  K Kane Jewelry Designs - This beautiful 18K gold cuff is a stunning addition to your jewelry repertoire and a great statement piece.  Celebrate how fabulous your bond is with one of these beautiful pieces!

Photo Credit:  Neiman Marcus
Price:  $272

We truly hope you have a wonderful holiday!


A & A

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Gift Issue 2013: Top 5 Gifts for your Dog

December is upon us in full swing and we are back with our list of top gift picks for your dog!  We hope you and your pup enjoy these amazing selections!

1.  BarkBox Subscription - The BarkBox concept may not be new to many of you, but I'm still surprised when I meet people who haven't heard of this exciting company.  BarkBox is a monthly subscription that compiles a unique box of goodies designed to treat, entertain, and delight your pup.  You first select your dog size, plan of choice, and receive!  Each box contains 4 or more products; ranging from treats, toys, and innovative gadgets.  This is a great gift for the pup who has everything and is always looking for new forms of entertainment to keep them engaged.  Every month has new products, so your pup will never be bored.

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BarkBox plans start at $19/month

2.  Canine Massage - Up until now, you may have only considered massage a human luxury enjoyed at  those rare times you have the time to go to the spa.  Enjoying a massage is not only part of a balanced and restorative human wellness regimen, but is beneficial for your dog as well.  Massage can help your dog in a variety of ways by reducing anxiety, alleviating muscle and joint pain, and enhancing their overall quality of life.  Check out a local canine massage studio near you!

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Rates for canine massage usually start at $40

3.  The Dog Casino Interactive Game - The DogCasino game is a truly innovative toy designed by canine extraordinaire, Nina Ottosson.  She has designed a number of games and toys designed to mentally and physically stimulate your dog, and DogCasino is one of the top products in her line.  DogCasino consists of 8 compartments and flaps designed to hide treats.  The object of the game is for the dog to locate and extract the treats by opening the compartments and flaps.  This activity not only mentally stimulates your pup, but allows you to spend quality time engaging and connecting with your dog.

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DogCasino Interactive Game by Nina Ottosson - $53.99

4.  PetMate Self-Warming Bed - This product was voted one of the top 10 best pet products at the 2013 Global Pet Expo.  This product works by incorporating Mylar "space blanket" technology, which reflects heat to keep your pup warm and cozy.  This is the perfect gift for those chilly holiday nights!

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Pricing ranges from $24.99 - $165.99 depending on size

5.  Custom Pet Pillows - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so why not create a toy in the likeness of yourself and pet?!  A custom gift is always more meaningful to give and receive.  We love these pillows by In The Seam designer Rhonda J. Smith.  I can't help but smile when I look at her creations.  All you need to do is submit your photo and Rhonda does the rest!  Check out more In The Seam creations at, her Etsy shop, and UncommonGoods.

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All pillows are custom and start at $145

Happy Gifting!


A & A

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Good or Bad??

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With the Thanksgiving holiday just a few short days away, many of us are prepping our homes, refrigerators, and mental states in anticipation for the big day.  Whether you are the person making the meal or not, chances are you will end up with some type of leftover.  So, as you sit down post-holiday dinner to enjoy your leftovers, do you also share the love with Fido?

This is not a simple yes or no answer.  Some Thanksgiving menu options are a surprisingly nutritious treat, while others are considered definite no-no's.

So, what holiday favorites are both delicious and nutritious?  Many of the healthiest options for your dog are the vegetable side items.  This includes green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.  Be sure to not feed them vegetables that are too starchy, such as corn and white potatoes. Additionally, make sure the vegetable dishes are not coated with mass quantities of cheese, butter, and sugar.  For example, my mother's brown sugar sweet potato casserole and french onion green bean casserole would not be recommended options for my boys...rule of thumb:  steer clear from any dish ending in "casserole".

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Carrots are a great source of Vitamin A and Fiber!
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Yes, this looks delicious, but this sugary, salty, fatty delight is not the right choice for your pup
In addition to vegetables, many fruits are great options to feed your pup.  Apples, oranges, and bananas are great sources of potassium and fiber.  Just remember!  No grapes, raisins, or blackberries.  These are dangerous for dogs.

Finally, what about the main act on the menu?  Turkey is considered a very healthy, lean, protein-packed food.  Just remember to remove the skin, excess fat, and of course any bones before serving.

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Enjoy those leftovers!  Oh, and of course your big Thanksgiving dinner!!


A & A

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Check This Out! DOG TV

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What will they think of next?!  Not to make us sound too dated, but that was literally our response when we first heard about DogTV.  Created by leading pet experts, such as Victoria Stilwell from Animal Planet and Dr. Nicholas Dodman from Tuft's University; this channel is the first to offer programming exclusively FOR dogs.

The impetus for creating DogTV was to cater to dogs who are "home alone" throughout the day.  Dogs are pack animals and extremely social creatures who are not accustomed to spending large amounts of time alone.  Being left alone all day can lead to behavioral and emotional issues, such as boredom, stress, and separation anxiety.  This is where DogTV comes in!  The programming offered is intended to alleviate "home alone" symptoms by stimulating and entertaining your pooch while you are away at work or out of the house for extended periods of time.

How does it work?

DogTV consists of 3 different types of programming:  relaxation, stimulation, and exposure.  Each of these categories runs on a 3-6 minute schedule and is designed to compliment your dog's natural daily behavioral patterns.  Relaxation programming provides, just that, calming, soothing scenes and sounds designed to reduce stress.  Stimulation programming is meant to excite and engage your dog through visual and auditory stimuli, such as watching dogs in play or seeing a ball being thrown in their direction.  The third and final programming category is Exposure.  This channel is designed to reinforce positive behaviors and training commands, paired with everyday environmental situations, such as a guest ringing the doorbell.

Aside from programming content, the channel is designed to be compatible with your dog's biology.  For example, dogs view images at a flicker rate higher than humans.  Your dog's eye views images at a flickering movement rate of 70-80hz, compared to the 50-60Hz of the human eye.  Today's digital and flat screen television sets have a flicker rate of 100Hz, making it much easier for dog's to view.  In addition, much of the programming has enhanced the color level and contrast to ensure vibrancy of the picture in order to be more compatible with your dog's sense of sight.

Where can I get DogTV?

Currently, DogTV is only available through local cable and satellite vendors in San Diego, CA as part of its pilot phase.  As of August 1st, any DirectTV customer can also subscribe to DogTV, along with streaming online or via Roku.  Monthly costs range from $4.99-$9.99 per month.

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So, if you believe your dog is experiencing "home alone blues", then give DogTV a try!  I can say from personal experience that we are those pet parents who often leave our television on for additional entertainment and to make our dogs feel they are not alone.  We hope you try this innovative approach to pet entertainment.

Happy watching!!


A & A

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Products We LOVE! GEORGE San Francisco

As any dog owner is aware, there are a plethora of brands selling "designer" products ranging from Swarovski-encrusted collars to leopard-printed puffer jackets...and these are only for our furry friends.  Now, we love animal-print and sparkle just as much as the next gal, however, when it comes to our boy's style we desire something a little more masculine.  This is exactly what GEORGE delivers!  All of the products in GEORGE's line are a delightful departure from the usual "style" flair currently taking over the dog world.

The GEORGE line carries amazing products ranging from beds, toys, dog bowls, collars, harnesses and coats.  Not only are the products stylish, but they are extremely durable.

Look at this adorable "stick" chew toy, which is GEORGE's logo manifested...

Latex stick chew toy also comes in yellow, blue, pink, and green for $8
Also, among our favorites are the collars, harnesses and leashes!  Check out our Japanese Chin, Jack, sporting his green gingham harness and leash.

So Handsome!

Gingham lead $36 and matching harness $46

We are also eyeing the new red and blue tartan fabrics for Fall.  You can see these and other new products under the "new stuff" button on GEORGE's homepage!

Finally, in gearing up for Fall and those blustery Chicago winters, we are especially loving GEORGE's chic winter coats, which are sure to keep our pup warm.

Red Quilted Nylon Jacket ranging from $60-$100

Khaki Waterproof Sport Coat ranging from $60-$100

So be sure to check out GEORGE SF at a boutique near you or their online store.  We know you and your dog will love their products as much as we do!


A & A

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cool DIY Treats Just In Time for Labor Day Weekend!!

TGIF!!  The holiday weekend is upon us and we have just the treat for your pooch!  I have to give credit where credit is due and this is a recipe straight from The Humane Society, but an amazing recipe it is!

Peanut Butter Banana Popsicle Treats!

1.  1 cup Natural Organic Peanut Butter
2.  1 Banana
3.  1/2 cup Water
4.  Ice Tray

First, assemble your ice tray and ingredients!

Love these silicone ice trays from Crate and Barrel!  

Natural Organic Peanut Butter is best because it has less salt

Next, mash up and combine the peanut butter and banana together.

Scoop the peanut butter-banana mixture into the ice tray and combine with water.

Place mixture in the freezer for at least 4 hours...

Then Enjoy!!  That's IT!!

We hope your pooch loves these cool treats.  Have a Happy Holiday Weekend!!  Stay Cool!


A & A

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Protecting Your Pup from Extreme Heat

We're Back!  It's been quite awhile since our last post.  These past few weeks have been immensely busy with travel, bustling work schedules, our little guy Joey being under the weather (thank you for all your thoughts and prayers!), and the exciting engagement of my sister, Amanda!

Did I mention she moved to California and The Upper Paw is now Chicago and LA based?!?! Very Exciting!!

With that said, we are back this week with important information and tips on protecting your dog from extreme heat.  August is in full swing and with Labor Day around the corner, sweltering temps are still in effect for many parts of the country.  Our goal this week is to educate you on risky conditions and provide you with information on how to prevent putting your pup in harm's way.

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What defines dangerous conditions?  

Surprisingly, the danger zone is considered to be 70 degrees or above.  The level of risk depends also on what type of breed and the level of humidity.  If your dog is flat-faced (i.e. Pugs, Bulldogs) or designed for cold weather climates (i.e. Bernese Mountain Dog), they have a lower tolerance for heat and humidity compared to a Greyhound or Saluki who are built to withstand desert conditions.

Scenarios to Avoid:

High Humidity:  It is not enough to monitor the temperature, you must also be aware of the humidity.  Dogs are only able to sweat through their foot pads and cool themselves by panting.  Panting helps remove moisture from their lungs and helps to reduce the temperature of their body.  If there is too much moisture in the air, your dog may be unable to effectively cool himself.

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FYI:  Monitor your dog's temperature and do not let it go above 104 degrees, this could result in heat stroke.

Minimize Exercise on Hot Days:  It is important not to over exercise your dog on extremely hot days.  The stress of the heat on your dog's system produces a stress response that can be negatively compounded when coupled with rigorous exercise.  This may mean less exercise than a normal day, but can also inspire you to create fun ways to entertain and play indoors.  Our parents have a Standard Poodle, Boomer, who requires A LOT of exercise!  However, with summer temperatures in Texas reaching 110 degrees and up, they are careful to exercise him in the early morning hours and evening.

Stick to the Grass:  Your tootsies aren't the only ones to be sensitive walking around barefoot.  Your dog's paw pads can also be burned.  When out walking on extremely hot days, avoid asphalt, concrete, or any other potentially hot surface.  Try to walk your pet on the grass as much as possible.

Never Leave in a Parked Car:  This may seem so harmless to many, however, hundreds of pets die every year because of this mistake.  Even with the air conditioning turned on, it's not safe.  According to the The Humane Society of The United States, "on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows open slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.  After 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees.  This can cause your dog to suffer irreversible organ damage or even die."

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FYI:  If you see a dog in a parked car, call the nearest animal shelter or police.  The Humane Society even has a "Hot Car Flyer" you can print out and distribute around your community.

We hope you found this post helpful.  Next time you consider partaking in the summer heat, ask yourself if it is appropriate to take your dog along or leave at home in the AC.  If you do decide to bring your pup, make sure to always be prepared with plenty of water and available shade.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook for great products and tips for beating the heat!

Also, tune in next week when we share an exciting DIY treat to help with those hot days!


A & A

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Picking a Puppy: How to Choose the Best Breed for You

As you are out and about enjoying your summer, you are probably noticing people spending time with their dogs.  From jogging, to frisbee in the park, to hanging out at the beach, the range of activities is endless...and who can forget all of those cute little puppies!

It's no doubt, dogs bring incredible joy to our lives and you may be asking yourself if you are ready for a dog to join your family.  If you are considering getting a dog of your own, but not quite sure where to start, read this!

Before you start searching for the right dog, you should ask yourself if you are ready to welcome a dog into your family.  It's important to consider your lifestyle and the time you have available to properly care for a dog.  If you work 16hr days or spend lengthy times away from home, this may not be the right time for a dog.  Additionally, it's important to consider the financial commitment of owning a dog.  You must be prepared for not only purchasing the appropriate equipment, such as a crate, collar, leash, food, and brushes; but also for the required medical care.  New puppies require a series of shots, and you never know when your dog may get sick or injured.

With that said, let's take a look at beginning the search for your new dog!  What is the best breed for you?

What is your lifestyle like?  

Are you active, enjoying running or hiking?  Or do you prefer to relax and chill in front of the television?  It's important to choose breeds that can easily assimilate to your lifestyle.  If you are looking for a dog to go for a 10-mile run with English Bulldog is not your best option.  Choose a dog that can be an active participate in your hobbies.

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Border Collies are great for active lifestyles!
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What is your environment like?

Do you live in a climate with extreme heat or cold?  Are you in an urban environment or rural area?  If you live in an extreme climate, be extra careful when selecting a breed that will be comfortable and happy in extreme temperatures.  The majority of breeds are fairly adaptable with our modern conveniences of heating and air conditioning, however, the outside environment can be deadly if you are not careful.  In addition, to your climate, you should also consider your physical environment.  If you are restricted in space, then a larger breed could be a challenge.  This is especially true for highly active breeds, such as labradors and retrievers.  These breeds will require a lot of exercise outside the home.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are great breeds for large or small spaces.
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Bichon Frise are great for urban apartment dwellers!  They are a perfect size and don't shed!  This is our friend's Bichon Frise, Honor, who won the group this year at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!
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Are you or any members of your family allergic?

This is such an important piece to consider, because if you or a family member is allergic their experience with your new pup could be uncomfortable and disastrous.  When choosing a dog for family members suffering with allergies, look for breeds that produce less dander and/or have little to no hair.  Examples of ideal breeds would be: Bichon Frise, Poodle, Chinese Crested, Portuguese Water Dog or any breed mixed with one of these breeds.

Banks, Goldendoodle and recent Pup of the Month!

Boomer, Standard Poodle and recent Pup of the Month!
Do you want your dog to travel with you?

If you live a jet set lifestyle and want your dog to as well, then you need to consider smaller breeds able to travel in a carrier under your seat.  Suggested breeds would be:  Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua, and any dog under 15 lbs.

Atom by Sleepypod.  Check out our product review of Sleepypod on our previous posts.
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Once you have narrowed down your search, there are just a few more important things to consider.  Don't forget to consider the grooming requirements associated with your desired breed, as well as, common health problems associated with the breed.

Well, we hope you found this post extremely helpful.  It's a lot of information, but bringing a dog into your life is a huge decision and the better equipped you are the happier you and your new dog will be!

Happy Puppy Searching!


A & A

Friday, June 28, 2013

Training Tips: How do I stop leash pulling?

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We've all been there...your dog is full of energy, pulling you down the street, perhaps wheezing and hacking the entire way, while your neighbors stare at you silently judging.  This experience is frustrating and does not allow your walk to be an enjoyable experience.

Leash pulling is common among many dog owners.  The most common reason a dog pulls and forges ahead on his leash is because it gets him to where he wants to go...plain and simple.  Leash pulling is actually a learned behavior and not an attempt by your dog to assert dominance in your relationship (contrary to popular belief).  If you performed an action that resulted in you achieving your desired result, you would logically keep performing the same behavior.  Your dog is no different.  True, it may be slightly uncomfortable for your dog, but if he wants to sniff that incredibly interesting pee spot a few feet ahead and he achieves success by pulling ahead...then he is going to repeat the same action.

A few other reasons why your dog pulls may be due to lack of exercise and lack of stimulating environment.  If your dog has been cooped up all day without exercise, he is going to be a bundle of energy and have trouble concentrating on you.  His attention is going to focus on more interesting distractions on the walk (i.e. other dogs, exciting smells, bushes to pee on).

Training Tip:  Outlined below is our recommend 5 Step Process for correcting leash pulling

Step 1:  Do you have the correct walking gear? - Before training commences, make sure you have the appropriate leash, collar, or harness for your dog.  The appropriate equipment will not train your dog for you, but will make the experience a little easier and enjoyable.  See our post on "Collars vs. Harnesses:  Which is Best?"  do determine which equipment is best for your dog. Some trainers believe that harnesses encourage pulling.  However, in our experience, if your dog can't breathe using a collar (too much pressure on the windpipe) they won't be able to concentrate on the training.

Step 2:  Be prepared...with treats and patience - When approaching ANY training situation you must be prepared with treats.  We recommend selecting a treat that is soft so that you can easily break the treat into small bites and quickly reward your dog.  Second, use a treat that is new and exciting for your dog to hold his attention.  Have your treats readily accessible so you can reward your dog in the first 3 seconds of him completing the behaviors correctly.  If you wait longer than 3 seconds, you risk losing your dog's connection with understanding the desired behavior.

Step 3:  STOP. - Before going outside for your walk, create a calm and focused environment.  If your dog starts to get overly excited when preparing for the walk, put down the leash and wait for him to calm down.  This is often counter to the way we approach walks when training our dogs as puppies.  Most of us...ourselves included...have approached walks as the most exciting event to ever occur when training our puppies.  This is to make leashes and walks sound fun.  However, when your dog grows up, this overly excited state can create more challenges when it comes to maintaining your dog's focus.

picture and caption  So, remember before you place the leash on your dog make sure he comes to you and is sitting calmly.

Jack ready for his morning walk!

Once the leash is on, walk towards the door.  If your dog pulls before reaching the door, STOP.  You don't need to verbalize any commands, simply stop moving.  Do not pull back on the leash, just be frozen.  This will probably surprise your dog at first, however, this is desired so we can capture his attention.  

Once your dog moves back and allows slack in the leash, proceed to move forward.  Once your dog begins pulling again, STOP, wait for slack in the leash again, and then move forward.  Your dog will quickly learn he only gets to move forward when there is a neutral leash and no pressure on the lead.

Step 4:  Praise - When your dog comes back to you or walks close to you with a neutral leash, actively reward with treats and praise.  

Step 5:  Be Consistent - As long as you are consistent with any training, leash pulling included, you will achieve success.  It is key to stop moving EVERY time your dog pulls.  Allowing your dog to pull even once out of ten times, will send a conflicting message.  If you have a dog walker or family member who regularly walks your dog, share the same message and ensure they are also practicing a consistent method. 

Be prepared that this will likely take several days to a couple of weeks for your dog to completely stop pulling on the leash.  He will continue to test the limits to see whether pulling will still result in getting him what he desires.  Be positive and stick with it!

Happy walking!!


A & A

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Giving Back: PAWS Run For Their Lives Event

Last Sunday, we participated in the PAWS Chicago Run For Their Lives Event.  We love this event for so many reasons.  For starters, you get to hang out with your pup, meet new friends and fellow animal lovers, experience amazing vendors, and savor a frosty brew...ALL while enjoying a beautiful day along Lake Michigan.

Enjoying the day with our boys!!
This year Run For Their Lives experienced a record turn out, raising more funds towards achieving the ultimate goal of making Chicago a No Kill City for homeless animals.

As a participant you could sign up for the 8K run or the dog-friendly 4K walk.  The walk was a bit more our speed and allowed for plenty of doggie socializing!

A Beautiful Day

Our good friend Stacy with her pup, Chloe

We feel it is important to highlight events, such as PAWS Chicago Run For Their Lives.  With the challenges of today's economy, many pet owners are experiencing financial hardships resulting in a negative impact on our pets.  For many pet owners this means forgoing basic healthcare needs, spay/neuter procedures, and even abandonment.  However, thanks to organizations like PAWS Chicago, there is help and support.  In 2012, PAWS Chicago performed over 18,000 free and low-cost spay/neuter procedures for pets all over Chicago.  They also successfully placed over 5,000 pets in loving homes.  In addition, recent natural disasters have left many beloved pets lost and homeless.  After the Oklahoma tornado disaster on May 20th, 16 volunteers from PAWS Chicago made multiple trips to the Oklahoma City Animal Care & Control Center to rescue a total of 76 pets.  A truly amazing feat.

Rescued from the rubble in Oklahoma

It is important to help these animals in need and to help place them in loving homes.  This is why organizations, such as PAWS Chicago, are so essential to the mission of saving pet lives.

Excited to join a new family!
We urge you to volunteer at your local shelter or become involved in any way possible to help educate your community and save lives!


A & A

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Healthy Tips: Pet Grass from your Local Farmer's Market

Spring is in full swing here in Chicago.  Hopefully, it is where you live too!

During the spring and summer months, we love going to local farmer's markets in and around Chicago.  They are full of local delights ranging from organic produce, fresh flowers, and bespoke treats.  Going to the market can also be enjoyable for your canine pal.  Our dogs love the socialization, the excitement of new and interesting scents in the air, as well as, the likely chance they will receive a special treat.

One of our favorite local markets is the Green City Market located in Chicago's historic Lincoln Park neighborhood.  During the summer, we do a great deal of our weekly grocery shopping here and always enjoy experiencing new vendors.  One vendor we always visit is the wheat grass station.  We order a wheat grass shot for ourselves and then purchase some pet grass for our pups.  The pet grass comes in a little tray, approximately 6x6 square inches, and contains grass from root to tip.

Green City Market in Chicago

From our local wheat grass vendor

We love this treat because it serves both a nutritional and entertainment purpose.  Our first impetus for purchasing the pet grass was to deter our French Bulldog, Franklin, from getting into the flower pots.  We had planted herbs and flowers outside on our deck and this seemed to always be an area of interest for Franklin.  Once we introduced him to the pet grass we were able to provide him with a nutritious and entertaining snack, which made both of us happy!

You may still be asking...what is pet grass?  Pet grass is wheat grass, which is free from chemicals and pesticides present in many of our lovely manicured lawns and houseplants.  This particular grass is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can promote development of blood and muscle tissue, as well as, healthy digestion.

So next time you are at your local farmer's market, be sure to try out some pet grass.  We know Franklin would agree!

Mmm!!  Franklin Loves his Pet Grass!!


A & A