Archive for the ‘The Scoop on Poop’ Category

Honestly now, do you pick up after your dog while out on your daily walks?

I’m sure that for every responsible pet guardian out there, there are plenty of others who still refuse to take this seriously. Some are just lazy, but others truly find it extremely unpleasant. One of the reasons that I invented the ScooPup Pocket was to create a better way to deal with this task.

Here’s 5 reasons why you should be picking up your dog’s poop – whether you use a ScooPup Pocket or not.

1.   Keep Your Neighbors Happy

How many times have you seen signs posted on neighbor’s lawns asking people to pick up after their dogs? Those who don’t certainly aren’t making any friends, but they are also giving their dogs a bad rap.  It’s not the dog’s fault. As far as I know, most homes don’t contain indoor toilets for dogs (not yet anyway) so what choice does your pooch have? If you’ve got a ScooPup Pocket hanging from your leash, it’s easy for that perturbed neighbor to see that you are not the one who is leaving the little “gifts” on his lawn.


2.   Be Greener

Dog poop is more than just a nuisance. It poses a health risk to other dogs and people, especially children. It can be full of bacteria that can make people sick.

It’s also a contributing factor to water pollution.

We all know that there are worse things getting into our rivers, lakes and oceans, but dog poop certainly doesn’t help. According to The Puget Sound Partnership, more than 60% of water pollution comes from things like cars leaking oil, fertilizers and pesticides from farms and gardens, failing septic tanks, pet waste, and fuel spills from recreational boaters. Leave it on the ground, and it will eventually find it’s way downstream. A ScooPup Pocket gives you a place to stash the nasty poop bag until you can dispose of it properly.  BTW, most municipalities advocate putting poop bags in with your trash. Landfills are designed to handle it.

3.   Teach Your Kids Good Habits

You know the old story of the kid that begs to get a dog, promises to take care of it and walk it daily, but somehow that’s never the reality? Maybe part of the problem is that most kids find dog poop really gross. A ScooPup Pocket makes the task a little less nasty by putting a second moisture-resistant layer between their hand and the poop, if they use the water-resistant lining feature.  And what kid wants to run into one of their friends while carrying a bag of dog poop? Putting it in the ScooPup Pocket keeps the stinky bag out of sight.



4. Make Walking The Dog A More Pleasant Experience

Wouldn’t you rather run into a neighbor with a bag of poop hidden discreetly away inside a ScooPup Pocket?  (It cuts down on the smell too.) If you re-use supermarket bags for dog poop pickup, how many times has your one-and-only bag turned out to have a hole in the bottom? Using the moisture-resistant lining as a “double bag” gives you a second layer of protection.

5. Make It Habit-Forming

As long as you remember to keeping a few new poop bags in the side pocket, keeping a ScooPup Pocket attached to your dog’s leash means that when it’s time to walk, just grab your leash and go. They easily clip on to any type of leash (or stroller, or backpack.) The zippered side pocket is a handy place to stash your keys and if you’re like me, I use it to store treats for the neighborhood dogs.

So, now you know some of the reasons why you should be picking up after your dog, and if you’d like to make the task cleaner, greener and smarter, get yourself a ScooPup Pocket today.

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This afternoon, while taking a work break to toss a ball with Riley and his sister-in-law Bailey (who, by the way, took second place at COLA’s Dog-O-Ween this past Saturday!), I realized that I hadn’t been down to the lower yard in a few days. This is the part of our property that became known as “New Poolandia” when we decided to fence it in, and give Riley and his pals a little more room to run around (and poop) in. There were so many gifts left in the yard that hadn’t been picked up, it had gone way beyond ScooPup Pocket time. I’m talking backhoe here. Don’t want to get too graphic, but maybe you’ll remember this blog while tossing a 10 lb sack of rice into your cart, the next time you are at Costco.

Why so busy you might ask? I’ve been spending the better part of the past few weeks organizing Seattle’s 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk. It’s hard work, and while there are 10 ten days to go until November 7th, I’m proud to say that as of this minute, greater Seattle has managed to raise close to $9,500.

I promise the blogs will be a bit longer and back to my old frequency, after November 7th. (I might even have a surprise or two.) At the moment, I’ve got to get back to work. (Don’t even want to think about reality of picking up after 2 million dogs!) In the meantime, please help me spread the word about Luke Robinson’s mission to find a cure for canine cancer, by funding cutting-edge research in comparative oncology studies – which, by the way, benefit people as well as dogs. Please visit 2 MillionDogs.org to learn how you can get involved. Thanks, and Puppy Up!

in Dragon Slayer Sydney sneaks up on Bailey the Dragon

Normally, I'm a flying cow. Today I'm a dragon.

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When your dog is young – full of boundless energy, no sign of grey in the muzzle – you probably don’t spend too much time worrying about the inevitable. I clearly remember the day a few years back, when Riley was snoozing on the couch as I scratched him behind the ears. I was wondering how it could be possible to love that sweet creature any more than I already did, when it suddenly struck me that even if he lived to a ripe old age, our time together was limited and precious. It was then that I began to think that living with a dog that you loved so much was comparable to having a child with a terminal illness, especially for those of us with no children of our own.

But what if your dog really did have a terminal illness? Luke Robinson is one of among the thousands of dog guardians who has had the misfortune of knowing what that feels like.

Luke with Hudson and Murphy

In 2006, his boy Malcolm, a beautiful big Great Pyrenees, was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer, a horribly aggressive disease which generally involves amputation as a treatment, but not a cure.

Larger breeds seem to be most susceptible, and since Great Pyrenees are one of the breeds effected, Malcolm was at risk from the day he was born. After losing Malcolm, Luke set out on a quest to raise awareness about canine cancer and walked from Austin, Texas to Boston Massachusetts with his two dogs Hudson and Murphy. It took him 2 years and over 2000 miles, but they arrived in June to much fanfare and certainly brought a lot of attention to his cause. In an incredibly cruel twist of fate, after reaching Boston, Murphy was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, and he is currently showing the outward signs of the radiation treatments he finished in August.

My Boy Riley

The motto here at Tiny Growl is “Quietly Making A Difference”. My muse and the originator of the tiny growl is my dog Riley. His face is the face on my logo and his funny little trick, his incredibly quiet “tiny growl”, became the name of my company, and the inspiration behind my slogan “Quietly Making a Difference”.

When I launched my business, I wanted to make a positive difference – quietly or otherwise – and since I’m a very small company, I felt that I could make a tiny bit of difference to the lives of dogs in need by donating a portion from every sale of my ScooPup Pockets to  charities that I support.*

For the next few weeks, I’m going to put my day-to-day activities here in the tinyTiny Growl office on the back burner, but not my mission. From now until November 7th, I’m putting all of my energy behind Luke’s cause, 2 Million Dogs, and will be spending most of my time organizing the Seattle 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk. Walks will be taking place in cities all across the country and funds raised by the walkers will be used for canine comparative oncology research. This important work will not only benefits dogs, but people as well.

Luke, Hudson and Murphy on the road to Boston

We are asking people to pledge to walk 2 miles with their dogs on November 7th. Visit www.2milliondogs.org to see if your city will be participating. (If not this year, think about joining us by organizing a walk in your town next year.)

So please spread the word and help us to make a difference, quietly or otherwise, all across the country.

*From now through the end of our 1-Year Anniversary Sale, Tiny Growl will donate $1 from every ScooPup Pocket sold to 2  Million Dogs.

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Let me begin by saying that Riley is not a big fan of boating. When we first got our boat a couple of years ago, we thought he might be a natural. Every time we worked on it in our driveway, Riley would bark and try to climb up and join us. But, after his first trip on the water, he never really wanted to get into the boat again.

On that first trip to Lake Washington, we were well prepared. We had purchased a great life jacket for Riley, brought along plenty of fresh water, his bowl and some treats But, Riley spent the entire trip in the berth in the little cuddy cabin, looking out at us as if to say “what am I doing here and when are we going home?”

The life of Riley on Puget Sound

On our next trip, we tried bringing some pillows for him to nest on in the cuddy, but they didn’t make him as happy as they usually do. Next out, we tried flattening the seats on the port side of the boat and having him lie down next to me. But, it wasn’t very comfortable for either of us.

Just last week, I finally figured out how to make his boating experience work for us all. I grabbed one of our lounge cushions before we set out and tossed it on board. Once underway, I again flattened the seats on the port side, but this time I put the lounge cushion on top and added another couple of pillows along the side to act as bumpers. He stretched out comfortably and I must admit, I was pretty comfortable as well. Riley had found his “sea legs”. He just needed to feel safely nested.

Checking out the Harbor Seals in Elliot Bay

Ok, so maybe he’s not really a sea dog. Maybe you think we’re crazy and should have just left him home for the duration of the trip? But, we would always rather have him with us than not and once you go through all of the trouble to get the boat ready and launched, it can be hours before you return.

So, here are some things to think about before setting sail with your own “sea dog”, to make your trip safe and fun for everyone.

1)  Make sure your dog is wearing a life jacket that fits correctly. (That goes for people too, by the way). No one ever expects they will need their life jacket, but accidents happen. Not all dogs are good swimmers and even those that are could face exhaustion or hypothermia, in extreme cases. A good life jacket should be well constructed, have a bit of insulation (if you are boating in waters as cold as The Puget Sound) and have a handle along the top that allows easy retrieval of you dog, if necessary. Be sure to get them used to wearing it before setting out.

2)  Bring plenty of fresh water. Remember, unless it is one specially designed for boating, a bowl might not be the best solution. You may need to get your dog used to drinking directly from a sports bottle.

3)  Make sure to provide a shady place for your dog to get out of the sun.

4)  Make sure there is an easy way for them to get back into the boat BEFORE you set off, if they like to swim.

5)  Always turn the engine off before you or your dog gets into the water.

6)  Be sure that whatever surface they may be standing or walking on while under weigh gives them some traction. Even if your dog is a fearless boater, he is not Spiderman. And while we’re on the subject of surfaces, some boat surfaces can get very hot. Be aware that dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet.

7) Never tie your dog to the boat, unless it is docked. You may feel the need to keep your dog on a leash, but keep it in your hand. If there is an accident, a dog tied to the boat would most certainly be doomed.

8) Stop for potty breaks. Be sure to pick up after your dog and properly dispose of his poop. Do not toss it in the water. (Boating is another place where a ScooPup Pocket can come in handy, especially if you are exploring new beaches and hidden harbors.) If stopping is not possible, make sure you have a designated area on board where you dog knows it’s ok to go.

9)  Make sure you get your dog used to your boat while it’s still on land (or at the dock). Don’t forget to get them used to the sound of the engine, if they are skittish about loud noises.

10)  Make your first trip out a short one. Remember, most dogs prefer stable surfaces and pets can get seasick too!

For more information on boating safety, contact your local Power Squadron or The United States Coast Guard.

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I still struggle with the idea that now that my business centers around dog poop, it feels as though my life does as well. Not the most glamorous life, really. Certainly not the life I had imagined at this stage of the game. Since inventing the ScooPup Pocket, I have researched and written more on the subject of dog poop than I really ever wanted to.

Cartoon by Les Campbell, Bellingham, WA

However, it is always fascinating to take Riley for his walk and wait for the big event to take place. Lately he seems taken with the idea that pooping in the ivy, on the side of a hill or even on top of a large rock on our beach is as good a spot as any, the latter making it a bit easier for me to ScooPup. What is it that makes a dog want to “give back” on any particular spot? Imagine if we all had multiple bathrooms in our homes and roamed from room to room deciding which one was just right on any particular day? While there doesn’t seem to be a lot written on the subject, I suppose where a dog poops has a lot to do with scent and territory marking.

What I’d like to know is why Riley tends to scratch the ground at least half a dozen times after finishing his business?  He does it with such vigor and seems so happy about his accomplishment that I have to pay attention and stand out of his way, or I can get showered with dirt, grass, sand, rocks…or worse.

My walks with Riley are more like ‘stop and marks’, as he is less interested in the exercise as he is in sniffing every tree, plant, post and what have you, leaving a couple of drops behind on each, letting the dog world know that he was there. He often kicks back and scratches the ground after marking this way as well.

So, what’s up with this behavior? Wildlife biologists study wolves in an attempt to understand canine behavior. Wolves use urine to mark their territory, which is something that dogs do as well. Both male and female dogs produce a pretty potent “calling card” when the anal glands are expressed as a dog defecates. But did you know that a dog also has sweat glands between his toes? I’ve noticed that Riley doesn’t exactly scratch the exact spot where he’s left his deposits, he will even scratch the ground a few feet away from the spot he marked. Perhaps the scent produced in the sweat glands adds a second odor to the area, making him seem even larger to whoever sniffs there next. The message remains long after the sender has left, so why not make it as big as he can? Makes sense to me, I’m just glad that humans have evolved to the stage where we don’t feel the need to exhibit this sort of behavior to claim our space. Although, unfortunately, our “mark” on the earth is a lot more destructive these days.

For more info on scent marking and some links for some helpful products (if you dog isn’t limiting his territorial marking behavior to the great outdoors), click here to check out an article on HubPages.

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We all know what goes in must come out and I’m sure we’ve all seen an assortment of odd things at both ends of our dogs from time to time, especially if we’re being socially and environmentally conscious and picking up their poop. But, how much do you really know about what should never be given to your dog?

I have seen people who claim to know all about dogs give their four-legged kids everything from chocolate to raisins claiming that ‘just a little won’t hurt’.  I say, why give your dog a taste for something that could hurt him?

So, here’s a little refresher on what needs to be kept away from your dog.

Alcohol, avocados, chocolate, coffee, fatty foods, macadamia nuts, moldy foods, raison and grapes, onions and garlic, yeast dough and anything containing the sugar substitute xylitol.

Chocolate and coffee contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds. Depending on the size of your dog and the amounts ingested, eating chocolate can cause severe stomach upsets and can even be fatal to some dogs. By the way, the cacao husk is commonly used in some brands of garden mulch. This stuff has also been shown to be toxic to dogs, although according to webcanine.com, isn’t always noted on the label.  Buyer beware!

All of the foods listed above can cause any number of symptoms, some as mundane as diarrhea and poop that’s not so nice to pick up, to very serious illness and even death. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of all the above, as well as their symptoms.

If you have the kind of dog who likes to chew on all sorts of things, do you know if the plants in your house and yard are safe? There are quite a few plants that are toxic and even fatal to both dogs and cats.  The ASPCA also has great information regarding plants that you need to watch out for.  Apple has just come out with a new iphone Pet Safe app that lists toxic plants, as well as the symptoms related to each one.

One other item of note since summer is almost here: corn cobs can cause serious intestinal blockages and worse.

And finally, don’t forget to keep your medications and cleaning supplies out of reach of your dog, especially if you have a new pup in the house.  A good rule to live by is if you wouldn’t want a child to get into something, then you probably wouldn’t want your dog to either. (Do I need to remind you about anti-freeze?)

Accidents do happen and depending on the size of your dog and the amounts ingested, what they eat can have any number of consequences. And just in case you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to have the telephone numbers of your vet, your emergency vet and the National Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) somewhere prominently displayed in your home. Ours is on our fridge.

So, let’s make sure that the only thing that goes into our dogs is healthy food and that the only thing that comes out is poop.  (And while we’re on the subject, be sure to pick it up with your ScooPup Pocket!)

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My invention, The ScooPup Pocket, is a cleaner dog poop pick up and hand’s free poop carrier bag. Since I’ve talked about a cleaner way to pick up dog poop as much as I ever thought anyone could talk about a cleaner way to pick up dog poop, I often think about the possibility of manufacturing something else.

People always tell me that while they may hate picking up their dogs, they do it. They also seem elated when I tell them that I’ve invented a cleaner way to pick up dog poop.  Unfortunately, the amount of positive feedback that I get about my ScooPup Pocket is not matched in sales. I invented a cleaner dog poop pick up and and hand’s free carrier bag because I needed it.  I thought it was a great idea. I’d buy one, wouldn’t everyone want one?

Maybe a clever new dog toy would sell better than a product for picking up dog poop?

Everyone buys toys for their dogs, right? Maybe not. Riley has a huge basket full of toys, but most of them were gifts from friends, re-gifted toys from the poodle down the street, or toys that I made for him myself.

Here’s the thing: dog toys are expensive! I tend to buy those pricey toys only at Christmas.  It’s silly I know, Riley doesn’t know the difference.  As long has he has packages to open on Christmas with the rest of us, he’s happy. He doesn’t really care what they contain.

Who needs to buy a paper shredder?

Riley loves to tear paper. Since he was little, he has loved to lay at my feet in the office shredding paper. He tears paper into little strips and spits them out. (I wouldn’t let him near the wastepaper basket if he was the type of dog who ate paper.) And he knows that the paper in the wastebasket under my desk is OK for him to dip into.

Unfortunately, it took a little bit of him getting it wrong first. When he was young, one of the very first times I left him alone and uncrated he chose to rip through two chapters of fitness guru Kathy Smith’s book “Moving Through Menopause.” Frankly, at the time I had read just about all I had wanted to read on the subject, so I probably rewarded him for his editorial work.

Since Riley is also a curious dog, one of the things that I do to keep him from getting bored is to hide treats inside some kind of paper product. I save things like paper tubes from the kitchen and empty cardboard boxes of various sizes that can become puzzles for him to solve. I also use envelopes and let him figure out how to get to the treat sealed inside.

Old socks make teriffic pull toys. Socks with tennis balls knotted inside them are even better. If you’ve got two old socks and two tennis balls, try this: stuff a tennis ball down into the toe of each sock, then twist and pull the sock back over the ball again.  Knot the sock at the base of the tennis ball and tie both socks together. This makes a great tug-of-war toy for two dogs, or a really good calf-smacker, if your dog is the type who likes to shake his “prey” back and forth and you weren’t quick enough to get out of the way.

Cousin Mookie, girlfriend Sydney and Riley take a break from Tug-of-War.

By the way, have you heard that tennis balls might not be the best thing for your dog to play with? You can find a lot written on the subject on the web, but here’s what I’ve found in a nutshell: Tennis balls are abrasive enough to wear down teeth, but unless you have a 24/7 tennis ball chewer, veterinary dentists say don’t worry about it. It’s also true that they may contain a certain amount of lead, but again unless your dog is addicted to them, I wouldn’t stress about it.

There are other things that dogs may chew that can be more worrisome. Anything that you can’t bend can risk a fractured tooth. Until Riley cracked a tooth chewing raw bones, I was a big believer in raw bones for as the best tartar removing tool.  You could have eaten off of those teeth. Oh well. I guess it’s time to invent a combination tarter-cleaning-pull toy that can also be used as a better way to pick up dog poop? You’d buy one of those, right?

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