Archive for the ‘just for fun’ Category

Dog Names — The Sublime and the Ridiculous

Every year, lists of popular dog names appear in print and online, just as popular human baby names do. Truth, be told, the puppy names are more traditional; people may be naming their kids Jayden and Shaliqa-with-a-silent-Q, but their dogs are still Max and Bella. Go figure. There are a bazillion references out there about name rankings, but I decided to go with Stanley Coren’s compilation for the Psychology Today website.

I love Celtic names, being part Scots and Irish, and have always wanted to bestow one of those marvelous names from Irish mythology on one of my dogs. The thing is, I do performance events. For example, if I entered a dog named Siobhan (pronounced “she-VON”) at an agility trial, the poor beleaguered gate steward would probably wonder why no one named “SLOB-HAND” ever showed up for a run. Best not to confuse everyone unless I want to go through 15 years of gloriously misspelled certificates and personalized typos.

What are the top dog names? It honestly depends on which web page you bring up in your web browser, as well as where you live. In the UK, the most popular names for male dogs are Charlie, Jack, Max, and Alfie. For the girls, it’s Bella, Molly, Lily, and Daisy. Here in the States, the boys are most likely to be Max, Buddy, Rocky, and Bailey. The girls are Bella, Molly, Lucy, and Maggie.

Our friends at Pet365 have a charming new infographic available on the subject of dog names. Enjoy!

Dog names graphic produced by Matt Beswick for Pet365. Click on the sample below to see the full-sized version.
Dog Names Infographic

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Review and Giveaway: LeLePets.com

I admit it. I’m hopelessly addicted to Fab.com, my favorite online yard sale-boutique-art gallery. If you’re not familiar with Fab, it’s basically a collection of week-long sales of stuff you don’t find just any old place. It combines fine art with found art with handcrafts with shined-up finds from someone’s grandma’s attic. If you’re a Pinterest user, you don’t have to look very far to find a Fab item on someone’s pinboard.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Infographic: Choosing the Right Dog Food

Let’s face it: choosing the right dog food is a complex issue. There are many factors to consider, from your dog’s needs and your abilities and budget to the ingredients in all of the various formulas. It doesn’t help that there’s an expert on every corner, and every one of them stridently disagrees with all of the other ones. At the end of the day, the best you can do is to become well-informed and to make the best choice you can for your dog.

Our friends at Pet365 have done their best to distill a complex subject into one graphic. There’s so much more information out there, but it never hurts to start thinking about the best way to feed your dog. I don’t exactly agree with the part about “dogs should never eat raw meat or raw fish”, but this graphic does contain plenty of interesting and useful information. (As a side note, Procter & Gamble also now owns Natura Pet Products, makers of Innova and California Natural pet foods.) Anyway, enjoy!

Dog Food Information
Created by Matt Beswick for Pet365. Click here to view the full post.

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Review: Freshpet Ready-To-Bake Dog Cookies

Remember the fun you had as a kid, making Pillsbury cookies by slicing the roll of dough and then decorating the sugar cookies with stencils and colored sugar? Even if you’ve long since graduated to making cookies from scratch, with boutique-class decorations straight from Martha Stewart Living (or straight from the local bakery) — you have to admit, that was pretty fun.

That memory came bouncing right back to me when Freshpet® sent me two packages of their new ready-to-bake dog cookies. The cookies contain only natural ingredients such as oatmeal, eggs, crunchy peanut butter, and cranberries. Like Freshpet’s lines of fresh dog foods, they contain no preservatives and need to be stored in the fridge until you bake them.

Nobody does an evaluation package quite like Freshpet. The packages of cookies arrived, amid a number of ice packs, in this fabulous little cooler-cum-lunchbox…

Really, how cool is this?!

…along with a folder of information on the new product and a coordinating emerald-green apron embroidered with the Freshpet logo. If I hadn’t been at home alone while I was baking, I’d have put my hair up and had my picture taken while sporting the apron and my pair of emerald-green oven mitts… Just Because. You’ll just have to imagine it.

We received samples of the Dog Joy™ Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Recipe cookies and the Dog Nation™ Oatmeal & Cranberry Recipe cookies. Each package contains 18 cookies. The beauty of this approach is that you can remove just one cookie (or a few) at a time and return the package to the fridge. (Just make sure you cook them all within a week after opening.) If you only have a toaster oven, or if you have only one small dog, you won’t have to bake up the entire lot at once, clean up all the mess, and then try to keep the cookies fresh. The cookies do keep for 14 days in an airtight container, if you can keep them that long at all. Unopened packages will keep in the fridge for several months — just check the expiration date on the box.

Here’s the Before picture of what the Dog Nation Oatmeal & Cranberry cookies looked like on the cookie sheet (yes, I took them outside for better light).

The instructions say to place them about 2" apart, but they really don't expand that much in cooking. You can get them all onto one cookie sheet.

And here’s the After picture 14 minutes and 350° F later…

While they were baking, the cookies filled the kitchen with a wonderful aroma that both humans and dogs appreciated. Old Charlie even came in from his important excavation project outdoors to drink in the smell. — or maybe to witness the spectacle of me actually cooking something in the kitchen for a change.

Here’s what we ended up with once both batches were done…

The lighter ones are the Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. The darker ones are the Oatmeal and Cranberry.

As expected, the Gang of Four approved heartily of both formulas, and would be delighted to approve any additional samples at any time. Greg tried one of the cookies and pronounced them a bit bland for human taste buds. “All the more for us, sucker!” thought the dogs. It’s a safe bet that we won’t have to worry about keeping these treats past 2 weeks.

You can find Freshpet Ready-to-Bake cookies wherever you find Freshpet fresh dog foods. The Dog Joy Peanut Butter & Oatmeal cookies are available in grocery and mass-market stores. The DogNation Oatmeal & Cranberry cookies can be found in pet specialty stores. MSRP is $4.99 – $6.99.

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Just Sayin’…

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The 12 Dogs of Christmas

Our friends at Pet365 have done it again! They’ve released another in their charming series of infographics, and this one’s called The 12 Dogs of Christmas. Although we would have held out for Four Beardies Bouncing, we think it’s pretty neat. Have a look!

(Little bit of trivia for you: The movie The 12 Dogs of Christmas was filmed here in Maine and used some local canine talent — including some Old English Sheepdogs!)

The 12 dogs of Christmas graphic was created by Pet365 – a UK stockist of brands like Hamish McBeth who make leather dog collars. Click below to see the full size version.
12 Dogs of Christmas

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Another Historical Shaggy Dog Story

Today’s shaggy dog story comes from Science Daily, by way of the University of York (England) and the Smithsonian. The research attempted to confirm or deny the possibility that Salish weavers (from the Pacific Northwest and western British Columbia) wove blankets and other textiles from dog hair. Another story, recorded by 18th-century Eurpoean explorers, mentions that the Salish raised shaggy dogs for their hair, and kept them apart from the short-haired village dogs to prevent interbreeding. (The findings are published in their entirety in Antiquity.)

Although the tests proved inconclusive — none of the specimens tested were made solely from dog hair, but they all had a lot of dog hair on and in them. This should come as no surprise to anyone who lives with dogs, shaggy or no. If you share your life with a dog, having fur trim on everything just comes with the territory.

It’s just like the song says: There’s dog hair in everything I do!

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Review and Giveaway: Awkward Family Pet Photos Book


You have them. I have them. Everybody we know has them. Maybe they’re hidden in a shoebox someplace. Maybe a family member is just waiting to post one to Facebook and tag you in it on your next birthday — just when you thought you’d successfully lived down the hairstyle you had in 1982! (Actually, this photo was taken in 1991 or 92. That’s Duncan, my second Beardie.)

Awkward Family Photos, and its equally successful and hilarious sister website Awkward Family Pet Photos, are THE go-to websites for whenever you’re having a bad day. No matter how tough things are where you are, you can’t help but burst out laughing when you view some of the classic photos on each site! (Don’t try this at work. I’m warning you now.) Part of the laughter is schadenfreude; no matter how bad your old awkward photos might be, they have to go pretty far to match some of these beauties!

Special holiday season bonus: All of the awkward pet photos with Santa. This is Dinah, circa 2006. This one was scanned from the original Polaroid for extra vintage glory.

Based on the extreme popularity of the Awkward sites, authors Mike Bender and Doug Chernack have recently released the Awkward Family Pet Photos book. The book contains some of the finest examples of glorious awkwardness from the AFPP site — plus never-before-seen photos, essays, and graphics.

Does the cover make you laugh? Wait till you see what's inside!

Awkward Family Pet Photos contains family portraits with dogs, cats, rats, ferrets, pigs, horses, chickens, reptiles… you name it. There are birthday party photos, Christmas card photos, candid kid photos, and not a few wedding photos of varying vintages. Each one is even cackle-out-loud funnier than the last.

Of course, the one thing all these photos have in common is that they show how attached we are to our pets. They’re members of the family, so of course they should be included in the family portraits! Even if we dress them in ridiculous outfits and make them do silly things in front of the camera, they still love us. They might even love us more for all our goofiness.

This book is practically irresistible — just leave it someplace, and people will pick it up, open it, and start to laugh. Even before I had the chance to open my review copy, Greg picked it up and started cracking up at the photos inside. He never messes with the dog stuff, but he just couldn’t resist the pull of Awkward Family Pet Photos.

Just for the fun of it, I decided to test the irresistible nature of Awkward Family Pet Photos in the least funny place I know: the office. I took my review copy to work, left it on a corner of my cubicle, and waited.

The first person to pick up the book was a co-worker who is also a devoted cat lover. Her reactions to the photos ran the gamut from “Oh, that is SO wrong!” to helpless giggles to “Really? A capybara?!”. The other folks to pick up the book experienced a similar spectrum of reactions, heavy on the giggle end. Everyone found something that was just too funny for words. Invariably, they’d just point to the photo and dissolve into still more laughter.

I am absolutely taking my copy along when I visit my family this week. I guarantee you that everyone will get a Mastiff-sized charge out of it.

You can find the book in all of the usual outlets, such as Amazon (they have a Kindle edition!) and Barnes & Noble, or you can order it directly from the store on the website.

You Know You Want a Copy!

Yes, that’s right. I can’t possibly keep all this awkwardness to myself, so I’m giving away a copy of Awkward Family Pet Photos right here on the blog! You probably know the drill by now, but here are the Wicked Simple Rules for the giveaway…

Wicked Simple Rules

  1. Leave a comment on the blog. Describe the most awkward photo you’ve ever had taken with a pet. Facebook comments, while welcome, don’t count toward the prize.
  2. Like the Awkward Family Pet Photos page on Facebook. If you do this, come on back to the blog and leave another comment for an additional entry.
  3. Entries close on Friday, December 2.

Charlie (circa 1998) says, Good Luck!

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A(n) Historic Shaggy Dog Story

Bailie of Bothkennar, whose call name was David, was one of the foundation sires for the Bearded Collie in Britain. Along with Jeannie of Bothkennar (an unrelated bitch whom the kennel owner, Mrs. Willison, received from Scotland when she thought she was getting a Sheltie), Bailie of Bothkennar produced the first Bearded Collie litter to be registered with The Kennel Club.

This little Flash video from the British Pathé film archive, shows sculptor Lavender Dower crafting a rubber model of David as well as the molds for the sculpture. The original newsreel is dated April 6, 1953.

To watch the video, click on the image below. Enjoy!

Another Old Shaggy Dog Story!

This British Pathé newsreel is in color and dates from November of 1956.

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Lots of Winnahs Today!

Thanks and congrats to everyone who participated in the THREE DOGZ LLC giveaway! Our neutral party drew four numbers completely at random, and here’s what happened:

  • Giveaway #1, the “Wild About Beardies” T-shirt, matching doggie bandana, and rhinestone necklace, goes to…(drum roll)… Tish Pollock!
  • Giveaway #2, the “Greatest American Dog” towel and magnetic clip, the window decal, and a rhinestone necklace, will soon be headed for the mailbox of… Kathy Kiley!
  • Giveaway #3, the carabiner water bottle carrier, the window decal, and a rhinestone necklace, will be winging their way to… Mary Witter!
  • …and Giveaway #4, the rhinestone necklace, is going to… Quentin Lewis!

Congrats to all of our lucky winners! If you didn’t win, don’t feel bad… you should see some of the stuff I get to give away in future posts! I’ll have dog toys, grooming products… and you’ll have to come back and visit the blog to find out what else!

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