Review: Bowzer Box (October 2016)

After feeling kind of lackluster about last month, I decided that I wanted to give Bowzer Box another try.

For those who aren’t familar, Bowzer Box is a monthly subscription service for dog treats/toys/fun stuff, delivered to your door and carefully selected with your pup in mind (think Bark Box, only Canadian)! It features at least one all-Canadian treat or toy each month, and they also donate 10% of profits to Canadian canine charities.

Costs for the Bowzer Box vary based on how many month’s you sign up for, with longer terms costing less per month. I opted for a one-month only, which was $29, plus $6 shipping and tax for a total of $39.35. This is not a paid review – I

This review is for the October 2016 Large Dog box.

I have to admit… things got off to a bit of a rocky start when they forgot about us.

To be fair to the company, I cancelled our automatic renewal on the same day the October box billed so I think that caused some confusion. Anyway, by the time the 19th rolled around I realized there was no box coming this month. Whoops. I reached out on Twitter, where they asked me to touch base by email, and in no time our box was in the mail, with “a little something extra” thrown in as an apology. No big deal – everybody makes mistakes – but great job on the customer service, Bowzer Box!

The pups were pretty happy when it arrived just a few days later.

This month’s theme was Halloween (obviously!) and here’s what we got:

Darford Grain Free Pumpkin Treats – $7.69 – Vernon, BC – www.darford.com
Darford’s Grain Free Pumpkin treats are easy to digest yet they’re packed full of yummy pumpkin flavor. With pumpkin as the first ingredient, these treats also contain a special blend of fruits and vegetables, they’re right in antioxidants and vitamins, have no artificial colors or flavors, and they’re gluten free. They also contain super foods like blueberries and cranberries, as well as organic carrots and organic apples.

Pumpkin-y!
Pumpkin-y!

Northern Biscuits Wheat Free Biscuits – $1.99 – Concord, ON –  www.northernbiscuit.ca
Big Biscuit – Excellent for Sensitive stomachs and overall digestive health. Local Ontario pumpkin is baked right into these hard, crunchy treats. Slowly baked with whole barley and rolled oats grown and milled locally.

Erm... except... as you can see... that's not what we got. What actually came was a bag of Norther Biscuits Pumpkin Pie Minis. Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining! The Big Biscuit is smaller and the Mini's have a higher value ($5.99). I'd rather have a lot of small treats than one big one anyawy - and the Mini's are certainly easier to split between two dogs! I don't know if this was an intentional upgrade, or if they were out of the Big Biscuits by the time they got around to putting our box together, but I'll take it!
Erm… except… as you can see… that’s not what we got. What actually came was a bag of Norther Biscuits Pumpkin Pie Minis. Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining! The Big Biscuit is smaller and the Mini’s have a higher value ($5.99). I’d rather have a lot of small treats than one big one anyway – and the Mini’s are certainly easier to split between two dogs! I don’t know if this was an intentional upgrade, or if they were out of the Big Biscuits by the time they got around to putting our box together, but I’ll take it.

Amelia Biscuit Pumpkin Cookies – $6-8? – Paris, ON – www.ameliabiscuit.com
Amelia Biscuits are made from hand selected, all natural, human grade ingredients, and fresh from the farm Canadian fruit and vegetables.

These make my cookies look pretty lame...
These make my cookies look pretty lame… they remind me of now-defunct Three Dog Bakery here in Halifax.

Bandanas Republic Halloween Bandana – approx. $2.00 – Milton, ON – www.bandanasrepublic.com
The Bandanas Republic Dog Bandana will give your pet a splash of colour to show off! These bandanas are ideal for wearing for for decoration. Decorative, colorful, and fun, add these fashionable fabric bandanas to your pets accessories line up!

For the stylish dog.
For the stylish dog.

Outward Hound Invisible Snake – $16.99 – Centennial, CO – www.outwardhound.com
Tough chewers have met their match with Outward Hound Invincibles! Featuring 2 layers of super-tough fabric, and special squeakers that continue to squeak after being punctured, these loveable, cuddly and durable toys are made to keep your pup playing longer!

Nothing good can come of this.
Nothing good can come of this.

On top of the regular box-stuff, we also got an extra (x2):

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Chewy goodness!

Northern Bark Lamb Berry Recipe Dental Chew – $1.99 x 2 – Concord, ON –  www.northernbiscuit.car
An irresistible all natural dental chew rich in brown rice and oats to promote proper oral health and clean teeth. The rugged exterior and chewy interior helps to fight plaque, tartar and gum disease for an all-mouth clean. Our Lamb Berry Bark! flavor features an exotic lamb recipe blended with easily digestible ingredients, perfect for those with sensitivity to beef. While high in protein and low in fat, they act as a healthy alternative to jerky and rawhide.

As far as I’m aware Bowzer Box doesn’t know I have two dogs, but throwing in two of the “extra” was awesome for that. No splitting! I was also impressed with the value of this month’s box – even without the extras it was worth what we paid.

Pretty good, Bowzer Box!
Pretty good, Bowzer Box!

Now for the testing phase…

The Lamb Berry dental chews were a hit. Decent size, dogs liked them, and definitely chewy! I’d say they were probably an 7.5/10 – if they’d lasted a little longer I might have rated them higher but I have to get used to the fact that I have power chewers and nothing ever lasts!

Can I just say that it's a treat to get a large bandana that actually fits a large dog? Usually we're trying to tie a knot with tiny ends of fabric, or I resort to using a safety pin (which hate, because of the popping-open-and-stabbing-my-dog factor) but this banana was actually the right size! It fit both Guinness and Kaylee. Bandanas are really the only "clothes" my dogs ever wear so this was a good choice for us. 9/10.
Can I just say that it’s a treat to get a large bandana that actually fits a large dog? Usually we’re trying to tie a knot with tiny ends of fabric, or I resort to using a safety pin (which hate, because of the popping-open-and-stabbing-my-dog factor) but this banana was actually the right size! It fit both Guinness and Kaylee. Bandanas are really the only “clothes” my dogs ever wear so this was a good choice for us. 9/10.
Northern Biscuit Pumpkin Pie Minis? 7/10 - I really like the size of these (more than last month's peanut butter biscuits). I know they're meant for smaller dogs, but I like to treat my two often and at three calories apiece, these are a great option. The dogs really like them! Normally Guinness is more of a soft treat kinda guy, but he seems to enjoy these.
Northern Biscuit Pumpkin Pie Minis? 7/10 – I really like the size of these (more than last month’s peanut butter biscuits). I know they’re meant for smaller dogs, but I like to treat my two often and at three calories apiece, these are a great option. The dogs also like them! Normally Guinness is more of a soft treat kinda guy, but he seems to enjoy these.
The Darford cookies... 6/10. The dogs definitely enjoy them - I guess they really love pumpkin, who knew? - but they're pretty big and so hard that I can't break them in half. They're big enough that the dogs take them back to their beds (to avoid having to share crumbs) so I'd prefer something smaller, but these will be good as a once-a-day kind of treat.
The Darford cookies… 7/10. The dogs are definitely fans – I guess they really love pumpkin, who knew? – but they’re pretty big and so hard that I can’t break them in half. They’re big enough that the dogs take them back to their beds (to avoid having to share crumbs) so I’d prefer something smaller, but these will be good as a once-a-day kind of treat.

Now the Outward Hound invisible snake…

My inlaws just returned from Newfounland and brought Kaylee a new toy. It has three squeakers in it, and my sadist dog loves nothing more than to make that thing squeal over and over and over and over and over and over and that toy is staying at Grandma and Grandpas! So imagine my delight when I handed Kaylee her new snake toy and discovered it’s the same squeaker! Horray, torture for everyone!

Don’t get me wrong. This is a great toy for Kaylee. She loves it. She’s been squeaking that thing like a motherf$%^&* ever since she got it. So I’m giving the snake a 8/10 because it makes Kaylee happy, but I’m looking forward to the day she decides the insides should be on the outside. Unfortunately it’s made of a pretty tough material, and has those nifty squeakers that still squeak even after they’re punctured because of course it does. Damn you, quality item!

We’re saving Amelia’s cookies for Halloween, but I’m sure they’ll be much loved, since everything else pumpkin-flavoured has been a hit! This would be a terrible month if your dog doesn’t like pumpkin, though…

Verdict: I’m much more impressed with this month’s box, but I got extras and at least one substitution that was in my favour, so that’s probably colouring my opinion a little. It’s been good exposure to a few things I might never had tried, and we found a couple of new brands we like. I can’t complain about the value, and I give Bowzer Box a 10/10 for great customer service,  so if you’re thinking about trying a box here in Canada, I highly recommend them.

Summer Vacation – Mystery Beach Edition

Have you ever had a day that,  in spite of itself, turned out to be perfect?

In late September (I know, I know… so long ago!) we were just wrapping up the tail end of our vacation and decided to make good on our promise to head back to Cleveland Beach. We’d first discovered this spot back in August while we were out on a South Shore road trip (you can read more about that here) and had decided it would be an ideal spot on a weekday, especially in the early morning, to let the dogs run along the beach.

Well, morning came and…. six degrees. SIX. No freaking way was I traipsing off to let my dogs get in the Atlantic freaking Ocean at six degrees. Brrrrrrrrr. Stupid September with its stupid fall-ness! So we did the only logical thing.

Nope. Not getting up. No. Just... no.
Nope. Not getting up. No. Just… no.

Hours later, we all rolled out of bed and decided we better do something to salvage the day. Cleveland Beach would still probably be pretty deserted at like, noon… right?

Well….. no. For one thing, it had warmed up considerably and there were a few families around with their kids (who we didn’t want to disturb). But more importantly, we had neglected to check the oh-so-important tide schedule, and at one in the afternoon the long, expansive sand of Cleveland Beach was basically just a sliver fully populated by the aforementioned families. Nuts.

We talked about going home and finding a lake, but we decided to just head down the road a little bit and check out Queensland Beach. Queensland is beautiful, but extremely popular (for good reason) so we weren’t holding out much hope… and then…

Too good to be true!
Too good to be true!

We’ve driven past this “beach” dozens of times but it’s usually packed. As far as I know it has no name – I can’t find a map that even recognizes it. (It’s near a Whynaughts Beach Lane so that could be it, but Mystery Beach is way cooler so that’s what I’m calling it because I can).

It was warm. It was deserted. And it was beautiful.

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BEACH!
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How can you not love a happy dog?
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Surf’s up!
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Play time with Dad!
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I don’t think she could be happier if she tried. Maybe if we figured out how to rub her belly while she swam.

Kaylee and Guinness had an amazing time. The surf was stronger than they’ve seen before but they loved it, darting in and out of the waves and riding them in to shore. We didn’t really let them swim very far – the ocean is an unpredictable mistress – but there was plenty to do closer to shore. We played hard, and at the end Kaylee came to me and laid down… a first at the beach.

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Handsome devil
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Best day ever!

We had the beach entirely to ourselves for more than an hour. A few cars pulled into the parking lot, looked at us, and pulled out – I’m not sure if they were put off by the unleashed German Shepherd (a reality you get used to when you own one) or were just there for the view, but we relished the opportunity to enjoy this near-perfect beach all by ourselves.

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Just kissable!
Kaylee… at a beach… lying down… of her own free will. THAT’S a tired dog!

Eventually a family staying at a nearby cottage joined us, and their kids played with the dogs while we chatted, but that seemed to open the floodgates and within twenty minutes the beach was filling up fast. We decided it was time to head out – and probably a good thing, as we were all getting tired! – and head for home… with two happy dogs sound asleep in the back seat.

What a perfect way to end vacation.

Summer Vacation – Caribou Island Edition

Before heading home from our cottage week in Malagash, we made the quick trek over the Caribou Island where our friend Andrew has a family cottage. The dogs love it here, and why not cap off a great week with some more beach time?

We rolled up and the dogs immediately decided a little roughhousing was in order.

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YOUR NECK IS DELICIOUS!

Unfortunately, the weather had taken a seriously fall-like turn, and the nip in the air was decidedly chilly. Kaylee could smell the beach, though, and if there’s water around she’s never satisfied unless she’s in it, so she and I headed to the beach. Normally the beach here is pristine, but a huge wave of seaweed had rolled in just a few days before so we had to basically wade through it to get to the water – I’ve never seen that here before, but it didn’t slow Kaylee down one bit.

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Yay!
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It’s slimy, it’s stinky, it’s AWESOME!
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Shake it off, baby!
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Kaylee in her element
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But I don’t want to leave… just five more minutes, mom?

We had a great evening just relaxing with friends and chatting until the wee hours (ok, so mostly Jason staying awake and the dogs and I falling asleep early!).

Zzzzzzzz
Zzzzzzzz

A little more morning roughhousing, and Guinness and Kaylee were officially worn out..

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I eat your face… nom nom nom.. now you eat my face… nom nom nom
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Dreaming of chasing squirrels and eating pot roasts…
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I sleep now. Beach later.

We headed back home for another week of rest and relaxation and recovery time… with two very tired and very satisfied puppies. Aaaah, vacation!

Summer Vacation – Malagash Edition

Now that the weather has turned distinctly cold and the leaves are falling from the trees at an alarming rate, it’s probably time to recap our summer vacation.

Jason and I took the last two weeks of September off as vacation, and decided a week away at a cottage with a beach would be just what the dogs (and we!) needed to relax. We packed up the car and off the Malagash we went, where our cottage promised a nice, quiet ocean beach right on the Northumberland Strait.

We made a quick stop for food and other liquid provisions in Tatamagouche, then meandered into the wilderness to find our cottage.

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Forget the beer, we want the beach!

It was early evening when we arrived, so we unpacked and ate (ahem… don’t bother with the local Greco, by the way), and then the only logical thing to do was the head straight for the beach!

Lemmie go lemmie go lemmie go LEMMIE GO ALREADY!!!!
Lemmie go lemmie go lemmie go LEMMIE GO ALREADY!!!!

It was everything we had hoped for. Beautiful sand, warm water (for the Atlantic Ocean, anyway) and extremely private – only three cottages on the beach, and we didn’t see a single other soul all week.

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After a few hours in the car, they were happy to stretch their legs!
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Ewwwww. And you know he rolled in it.
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Kaylee in her happy place!

We quickly figured out the tide schedule and decided mid-tide was the best time for swimming. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to cooperate and it decided to rain for the next couple days. Guinness joined us off an on, but mostly decided to chill at the cottage with Jason – but a little rain never stops Kaylee from wanting to beach-it!

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Rain-schmain, I’m gonna be wet anyway… hey, why do you look like a drown rat, Mom?

The whole week was mostly a routine of sleep-eat-chill-beach-nap-eat-sleep-repeat. Just what we all needed! The weather mid-week was prefect – warm enough to swim! – and the few rainy days aftewards were just enough time for everyone to rest and recover from all the fresh air and swimming.

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Me and G just chillin’
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My happy family <3
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Kaylee: Flying Nun Edition
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Come at me bro!
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What’s the point of going to the beach if you don’t get dirty?
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Let’s cuddle!
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Ready for action!
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I’m so tired…
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Playful pups!
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This photo is here for no other reason than that it just genuinely cracks me up.

Kaylee basically spent the week rotating between this:

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EEEEEEE!!!!!!!

and this:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.......
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…….

Guinness, however, had a terrible time relaxing.

Work is for suckers, mom. You should chill.
Work is for suckers, mom. You should chill.

We had a few wildlife encounters while we were there. We were awoken one morning by a scratching sound… I thought a squirrel might be in the walls but it was a little closer than that…

Poorly planned, squirrel.
Poorly planned, squirrel.

I didn’t think squirrels could have facial expressions, but when this one turned and saw Guinness looking at it, I swear it made a “oh s$@% I’ve made a terrible mistake” face.

Guinness started a low warning growl one night around midnight, and we thought he was being silly… until Jason detected the distinct smell of skunk. Pepe apparently decided to spend the night under the screened-in porch so we hightailed it away from the area and prayed he’d be gone by morning! De-skunking your dog on vacation is no fun… thankfully he moved on quickly!

All in all it was a relaxing week of sun, sand, and surf… and beer, which never hurts now does it? And at the end of the week we were ready to move on to our next adventure…off to Pictou for another great weekend at Caribou Island!

*I took over 1000 photos during our vacation (because I am insane). I won’t bore you with all of them here, but if you’d like to see some of the best you can head over to our Instagram page.*