Dog Friendly Halifax – Best Buy, Dartmouth Crossing

Have you ever wandered into Best Buy and thought, “gee, I wish I could find a sales associate to help me with a thing ,” but couldn’t for the life of you actually find anyone to help you? I have the solution.

Bring a dog. I suspect any dog will do, but a cuddly Golden Retriever works nicely.

Dartmouth Crossing touts itself as a dog-friendly shopping destination, and it does a pretty good job living up to that title (you can find a list of their dog friendly stores here – it’s fairly impressive). Since we lost Guinness we’re doing more and more of our shopping in dog friendly stores so we don’t have to leave Kaylee in the car alone, and Best Buy is one of her favourites.

Hasn't quite figured out where we're going yet...
Hasn’t quite figured out where we’re going yet…

The sales associates genuinely love dogs … at least the way they flock to Kaylee, they seem to! She always manages to become the centre of attention int his store… but the sales associates always ask if it’s cool to pet her, which I appreciate more than you know. See, everyone assumes the wiggly Golden Retriever is friendly (and she is) but people petting my dog without asking is one of my pet peeves. Not everybody’s dog is quite as good natured. Good training for your staff, Best Buy!

They have a section for dogs, too!
They have a section for dog-related gadgets too! Fun!

I don’t know if all Best Buy locations welcome dogs so enthusiastically, so check your local site for specifics before you start parading Fido around, but kudos to the Dartmouth Crossing location for not just welcoming dogs, but embracing them… well at last my dog, but how could you help it with that smile?

Tripods, harnesses, ... wait, AM I GETTING A GOPRO?!
Tripods, harnesses, … wait, AM I GETTING A GOPRO?!

(For the record, we were at Best Buy scoping out GoPro accessories…  more on our new piece of kit in a future post!)

 

Dog Friendly Halifax – The Cape and Cowl

We’ve been trying to take Kaylee with us to more places lately, and so finding out which parts of Halifax (and surrounding areas) are truly dog friendly has become a bit of a mission. When we can find a place close to home, it’s always a bonus.

Some places say they’re dog friendly, but you can tell they don’t really want to be. It’s just not something they want to deal with – the dog fur, the chance for accidents, the weird looks from people as dogs roam their stores.

The Cape and Cowl in Sackville is NOT one of those places.

Jay, the owner, LOVES dogs. You can tell from the moment you walk in the store that he’s happy to have you there. And you know what? Kaylee freaking adores Jay.

I think the feeling is mutual <3

Every time we go in the door she loses her mind. The wiggle-butt kicks in, and she starts wagging so hard I worry she’s going to put her eye out with her own tail. And the noises… well let’s just say everyone in a two block radius knows that Kaylee loves Jay!

IMG_8861
Tucked away in a strip mall on Sackville Drive… keep your eyes peeled or you might miss it!

This really is an awesome spot. In addition to being a terrific comics and collectables store – with some really cool locally-made stuff, too – they’re also a safe space for youth. Does it get any better?

The Cape and Cowl  is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – go check them out, and tell them Kaylee says rawr rawr rawr!

 

Review: BarkBox (March 2017)

If you have a dog, you probably have at least heard of BarkBox.

I’ve always wanted to try BarkBox. They have a great reputation, and I’ve never heard of anyone being disappointed with them, but they’re American so the not-so-favourable exchange rate has always kept me from biting the bullet before now. We enjoyed our Canadian-made Bowzer Box’s in September and October, but Kaylee’s on a diet because she’s um… a little… er… fluffy right now… and BarkBox has more toys and fewer treats in it, so it seemed like a good fit.

The last few months have been rough in our house, and Kaylee has been pretty sad. She misses her brother, and I really hoped a BarkBox would be just the thing to cheer her up.

BarkBox is the original monthly subscription box for dogs – each box “has at least 2 innovative toys, 2 all-natural bags of treats, and a chew, curated from each month’s unique themed collection.”

Costs for BarkBox vary depending on how long a term you sign up for, from $21/month for a year’s subscription, to $29/month for a one-off. They also have the option to “pugrade” to an extra toy each month for $9. Small, medium and large dog boxes are available, and they also have options for dogs with allergies, and special toys for power chewers.  (Keep in mind, these prices are in American dollars. Ouch). I did manage to score a groupon that added the extra toy for free, so that certainly helped.

This review is for the March 2017 BarkBox, with it’s “Bento & Blossoms” theme.

BarkBox does a GREAT job on their themes. So much fun!
BarkBox does a GREAT job on their themes. So much fun!

Here’s what we got!
(All descriptions taken from the BarkBox shop, BarkShop.com. Most of the products in this box are exclusive to BarkBox, or made specifically for them… that’s buying power for you!)

Adorable!
Adorable!

Etta Says 10″ Liver Chew – $4 USD – Treat Planet
Determined dogs love this Beef Liver Super Chew because it’s delicious, nutritious, and a whole heckuva lot of fun to chew. Nutrient-dense beef liver is blended with super-tough beef ligament to make a flavor-packed chew that doesn’t give up easy. Made in the USA by Treat Planet, it’s tough and crunchy for dogs who love to work for their reward.

Clearly not going to last long, but looks like fun.
Clearly not going to last long, but looks like fun.

Mr. Sakay Salmon and Rice Treat – $6.00 USD – Mountain Country Foods
Just like the best Teishoku House in Japan, we’ve curated a complete treat made from delicious fresh salmon and hearty brown rice. These soft and chewy morsels were made in the USA with no weird dyes, fillers, or preservatives. With wholesome ingredients and a delectably delicate flavor, these treats are sure to make your dog say “Arigatou.”

I'm digging how themed this box is!
I’m digging how themed this box is!

Snickity Snacks Wheat-Free Shareables Granola Clusters – $8 USD – Treat Planet
Open a bag of Coconut and Cranberry Shareables dog treats, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is who gets the last bite. Made in the USA by the the folks at Snicky Snaks, this crunchy treat is for your dog AND you. Baked with USDA organic-certified ingredients, the 100% human-grade recipe features sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat flakes, and dried cranberries, blended together in rich coconut oil. With these tasty, crunchy treats, you and your pup will have all the fuel you need for your next nature walk, camping trip, or couchsurfing marathon.

NomNomNom... can I have some? Wait... "not for human consumption" right on the back. Damn.
NomNomNom… can I have some? Wait… “not for human consumption” right on the back. Damn.

Murphy’s Mochi – $12 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
This dessert-inspired mochi toy is sure to tickle your dog’s squeak tooth. Three kawaii mochi, with squeakers inside, slide up and down a t-shirt rope, making a games of tug sweeter than ever. Easily whipped and flipped, your pup will be entertained for ages by thrashing around this string of smilin’ gems.

Bahahaha
Bahahaha

Sydney’s Salmon Nigiri – $10 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
othin’ but raw fun here. This palm-sized toy is ideal for a game of fetch with your favorite fine diner. The picture-perfect piece of sushi houses a high-pitched squeaker to enhance the experience of play. It’s a delicate noise for the delicate simplicity of Nigiri. Mmm, chewmami flavor.

Has sushi ever been so adorable?
Has sushi ever been so adorable?

If it holds treats, it’ll be a hit.

Bella’s Bloomin’ Lotus Blossom – $12 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
Traditionally, the lotus flower represents elegance, purity, perfection, and grace. If that doesn’t also describe dogs… well at least the perfection part does. This toy is a multi-layered playtime staple befitting its beautifully complex namesake. Crinkle-lined petals create the soundtrack for finding treats that can be tucked into the pockets inside the toy. Made with durable canvas and reinforced seams, this is not a delicate flower.

It holds treats... she'll like it!
It holds treats… she’ll like it!

 

All in all, this was a really awesome box. I actually ordered in early April, but BarkBox sends out your first box right away, which meant we didn’t have to wait till mid-month to receive it.  The extra toy was definitely a great addition for Kaylee. I don’t know why, but having more toys makes the box feel more… worth it, I guess? I do feel like this was a good value for what we paid. But the most important question is… what did Kaylee think?

Well…

Kaylee devoured the liver chew. It didn't last long, but she thoroughly enjoyed it for the three minutes she had it. I was hoping for a longer chew, but if it's soft, it's gone in this house. 7/10.
Kaylee devoured the liver chew. It didn’t last long, but she thoroughly enjoyed it for the three minutes she had it. I was hoping for a longer chew, but if it’s soft, it’s gone in this house. 7/10.
The Mr Sakay Salmon and Rice treats are a hit! They're big, but soft and easy to break. I also appreciate the nutritional info - including the all-important calories - on the back of the package!
The Mr Sakay Salmon and Rice treats are a hit! They’re big, but soft and easy to break. I also appreciate the nutritional info – including the all-important calories – on the back of the package! 9/10
I really honestly almost ate one of the Granola Clusters myself. These smell unbelievably good... they say in a couple different places on the package "not for human consumption" and now I understand why. These are pretty hard, and kind of calorie-dense, but they'll be nice "special" treats. I think I loved these more than Kaylee, but they still get a 8/10.
I really honestly almost ate one of the Granola Clusters myself. These smell unbelievably good… they say in a couple different places on the package “not for human consumption” and now I understand why. These are pretty hard, and kind of calorie-dense, but they’ll be nice “special” treats. I think I loved these more than Kaylee, but they still get a 8/10.
A tug toy with soft squeaky bits?! That makes for a happy girl in this house. She's gone back to this one multiple times, and I think it's a new favourite. 10/10.
A tug toy with soft squeaky bits?! That makes for a happy girl in this house. She’s gone back to the Mochi multiple times, and I think it’s a new favourite. 10/10.

This is a fun one.. pretty adorable, but I suspect I'll come out one day to find it de-fluffed before long. Still, a solid 8/10
This is a fun one.. pretty adorable, but I suspect I’ll come out one day to find the Nigiri de-fluffed before long. Still, a solid 8/10
I had reservations about the Lotus Blossom. Kaylee ... uh.. struggles a little bit with puzzles at times... heh... but this one was fun for her! She really enjoys digging and chewing. It'll be gross before long, but it's easy to stuff with low-cal treats and will keep her busy for a few minutes. It also seems really durable...even after some serious tugging and pulling it's in great shape! 10/10
When we pulled it out of the box, I had reservations about the Lotus Blossom. Kaylee … uh.. struggles a little bit with puzzles at times… heh… but this one was fun for her! She really enjoys digging and chewing. It’ll be gross before long, but it’s easy to stuff with low-cal treats and will keep her busy for a few minutes. It also seems really durable…even after some serious tugging and pulling it’s in great shape! 10/10

Anything to make my girl happy.
Anything to make my girl happy.

Overall verdict?

BARKBOX!
BARKBOX!

I only ordered the one month – with exchange and shipping, this bad boy ended up costing $46.55 CAD ( and that’s with the groupon for the free toy…which would normally be another $9 USD). That isn’t a bad value for what we got in our box – in fact it’s pretty good – but is a little rich for every month. We’ll definitely be ordered again in the future though! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend BarkBox – it’s just what we all needed as a pick me up.

If you feel so inclined, use our referral link to get a free box with every 3, 6 or 12 month subscription, and be sure to check out  Barkbox.com or find them on facebook, twitter and instagram!

Goodnight, sweet Guinness

It has been a devastating four weeks in our house.

About five and a half weeks ago, Guinness and Kaylee went in for their annual checkups. Clean bills of health, and Kaylee had a small cyst removed which meant returning the next week for staple removal. Easy. Routine. Same old, same old.

A few days later, Guinness developed a small cough. So small, it was barely noticeable. We thought – oh – a little kennel cough, I guess. He’s fine.

And until the following Wednesday, Guinness was fine. His cough improved. He and Kaylee played throughout the day, he mooched for treats as usual, he ate a hearty dinner with his usual appetite. The dogs enjoyed pig’s ears in the evening. I read a book upstairs with Kaylee, and Guinness cuddled with Jason, sharing a few potato chips while watching a movie.

By bedtime, there was a slight wheeze in his breathing. We knew we had a vet appointment for Kaylee the next day, so we thought “we’ll ask them to squeeze him in and just take a quick look. I’m sure it’s nothing.”

The next morning “it’s nothing” had turned into “can you fit us in ASAP please?” – the wheezing had gotten significantly worse. We drove straight to the vet, assuming that that mild case of kennel cough had flared up – at worst, poor Guinness had picked up a case of pneumonia.

We were so wrong.

Guinness’s chest and abdomen were riddled with tumours. On the x-ray, his whole chest cavity looked like a snowstorm. His liver, spleen and lungs were all involved. The cancer was aggressive, and it was everywhere.

The vet said he probably had a few good days. He didn’t.

That afternoon, we took Guinness home to let him recover from the anesthetic. We wanted to see our boy again, and all doped up he was anxious, uncomfortable and very much not-himself.

We sat up all night with him, in turns, just being there by his side while he struggled to breathe. Around two in the morning the anesthetic finally wore off and you could see he was back – the soul-searching eyes, the loving kisses, the head in your lap. But he couldn’t get comfortable. He couldn’t get enough air. He wheezed, and his chest heaved with the effort of every breath.

By morning, we knew we could never ask him to go through another night like that.

We took Guinness and Kaylee on a long car ride that Friday morning. We drove down all the back roads and took the longest way home we could manage, with the wind ruffling the fur on his ears as he stuck his head out the window. We walked him up and down our street… slowly, slowly… knowing he could breathe better when he stood up, and knowing he loved to be outdoors with us. His grandparents and Jason’s brother joined us, petting him and telling him how much he was loved. How much he would be missed.

Our vet arrived at 1:00, on her day off, to help us say goodbye.

Today would have been Guinness’s ninth birthday, but instead we’re marking a month without him.

I can’t describe what it feels like to lose an animal that you love so much. I won’t try. There aren’t words. But I do know that in the moment when his heart stopped and he slipped away, the person that I was slipped away too, and someone new took her place. This new person isn’t quite sure who she is. She hurts, though, in a place in her heart that she didn’t know existed. She loves her husband and her family and her dog Kaylee, but she doesn’t quite know how to live, yet. But she – I – am grateful to have the people I love with me, so that we can figure it out together.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with this blog. I may continue, but right now my heart hurts a little too much. I hope you’ll enjoy the memories we created here as much as we will – in time.

Hug your furbabies tight. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Goodbye, Guinness. We love you.
Goodbye, Guinness. We love you.

 

Kaylee’s Birthday Cake

I wanted to make something a little special for Kaylee’s birthday this year, so I searched the interwebz until I found just the right recipe from Sweet Beet and Green Bean. The dogs both really liked it!

Rarin' to go!
Rarin’ to go!

The only change I made to this recipe was adding a tablespoon of cinnamon (I got the idea somewhere from another recipe in my search) – this certainly made them smell good! I doubled the recipe so I could make both a small cake for her actual birthday, and some mini cupcakes for later. These are fairly dense and not exactly low-cal (although I’ve seen much worse) but they are relatively healthy so I just put it down as a special treat (and adjusted their daily food accordingly).

Of course I had my taste testers along the way!

Nauch.
Nauch.

This was a really easy recipe – basically dump everything into one bowl and mix. The best part was measuring out the peanut butter because it resulted in this:

It looked a little… questionable… going into the muffin tins and ramekins…

Um... delicious?...
Um… delicious?…

… but the end result was pretty good!

Nommmz!
Nommmz!

 

The birthday cake itself took a little longer to cook (as expected),but also turned out really well! Two small ramekins was just the right size for a Kaylee-sized cake (with lots left over, and with plenty to share with her brother, of course).

I carved off the top of each so they would stack, and rather than making frosting I just used a  low-fat yogurt (which they love). Unfortunately the top cake was heavier than I realised so it created a bit of a… smushing effect…

This is not going as planned! Abort! Abort!
This is not going as planned! Abort! Abort!

By this time I’m trying to photograph the steps and Kaylee is losing her everlovin’ mind. I thought she was going to jump up on the island and eat the cake out of my hands – she knew it was for her and she had no patience for my poor, slow photography skills. I wish I’d captured it on video… she was SO excited it was pretty hilarious.

The end product turned out ok!

IMG_7508
Happy Birthday to you… Happy Birthday to you… I better give you cake now… before I slip in your drool…
IMG_7526
Devoured!

The birthday slices were devoured in seconds, but this actually held up pretty well for the next two days (even with the yogurt). I’d make this again, but probably only for special occasions because it’s pretty calorie-dense. But hey, if it makes them happy…

pupcake: the cupcake for dogs!

pupcake: the cupcake for dogs!

pupcakes
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/2 c shredded carrot

toppings
plain greek yogurt
carrot shreds
dog treats

preheat the oven to 350F

shred your carrot first.  one medium-sized carrot should give you a bit more than the 1/2 cup you need for the recipe so you have some left over for decorating.

mix together the flour and baking powder, then add in the peanut butter, apple sauce, vanilla, honey, egg and water, and mix in evenly.  add the carrot shreds last and loosely fold in, the texture should be slightly liquidy but still fairly thick.

 

fill 5-6 cupcake liners about 2/3rds full of batter and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean.)  let cool thoroughly before serving to any pups, you can even make them ahead of time since, let’s face it, dogs don’t really care if food is stale.  and make sure to remove the paper liner before they really dig in.

Happy Birthday, Kaylee-girl

Today is Kaylee’s 8th birthday… well, based on the arbitrary date we decided was her birthday, anyway. Our girl is getting older, and a little slower, but she’s still got lots of puppy in her yet.

We had a fun-but-low-key day… some scrambled eggs for breakfast, a romp in the yard while we cleared the driveway, and a nice snugly nap.

Nom Nom Ball
Nom Nom Ball

In the afternoon, we headed over to a park in Burnside so the dogs could get a good run in.

GO GO GO!
GO GO GO!

Kaylee loves to play catch, but in the semi-deep snow the chuck-it ball disappears pretty quickly so we had to keep our throws short(er)… ok honestly, Kaylee can’t track the ball too far at the best of times so we also keep the throws a little shorter for that reason. She’s sweet, but her paw-eye/mouth-eye/ everything/eye coordination is terrible.

Thankfully for Kaylee, being bad at something has no impacts her enjoyment of said activity.

Snow Kaylees... I mean angels...
Snow Kaylees… I mean angels…

Guinness also enjoyed a chance to play in the snow and stretch his legs.

Handsome devil!
Handsome devil!

It was nice to get out and enjoy some family time.

<3
<3

By the time we left, everybody was ready for the warm, dry car!

Tonight we had doggy-friendly peanut butter and carrot birthday cake (more on that in a later post) and perhaps a new toy will turn up later this evening… although lord know she doesn’t need any more toys!

Is that... for me? OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!
Is that… for me? OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!

Happy Birthday Kaylee-girl… may there be many, many more.