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Tag: doggie

What Ace got for Christmas: A BarkBox

barkbox 022

Not since a cooler full of Omaha steaks showed up on our doorstep last Christmas has Ace been so excited about a box.

He gets highly curious about any package that to the house — be it a suitcase or paper bag — but when I brought a BarkBox inside with the rest of the mail, just before Christmas, he went bonkers, and he seemed to know it was intended for him.

It was a gift from his dachshund friends, Frank and Bogey, and their owner Faren, and while I fully intended to enforce the do-not-open-until-Christmas rule … well, it didn’t work out that way.

Given how much most of us spoil our dogs, BarkBox was a pretty smart idea — intended to get us, and our dogs, hooked on receiving a monthly box of treats, toys and goodies.

barkbox 052It’s similar in concept to those wine-of-the-month, cheese-of-the-month, you-name-it-of-the-month clubs you can subscribe to online.

Then you start receiving a monthly sampling of items you might or might not like.

Dogs being far less picky, BarkBox might be an even smarter idea.

It was started by three New Yorkers — Henrik Werdelin, Matt Meeker and Carly Strife, who were trying to come up with a way dog owners (or dog parents, to use the term they prefer) could delight their dogs on a regular basis.

“There’s a difference between a dog owner and a dog parent,” Werdelin told New York magazine. “Dog parents are people who really love their dogs. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places they can go to find new ways to delight their dog. BarkBox is full of those things.”

The items change monthly, and subscribers can choose one-month ($29), three-month ($24  per month), or six-month ($19 a month) plans. The company donates a portion of profits to animal shelters.

According to the BarkBox website, plans automatically renew, unless you cancel.

(I’ve never liked that kind of marketing — not since, as a teenager, I ended up in debt and with a bunch of albums I didn’t want thanks to a record-of-the-month club that refused to stop sending them until I informed them in writing that I had died.)

The genius of BarkBox is that — unlike humans who get an unrequested Perry Como album — dogs aren’t likely to turn their noses up at anything included in their packages.

Ace loved everything his contained — four types of treats and a floppy turkey toy made of cotton, jute and rope.

Once he got hold of a beef bladder chew from Barkworthies, there was no letting go — though I did put the rest of the treats aside for later.

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It was a lovely and thoughtful gift, and hopefully a one-time one. I’d hate to think the gift giver might, through automatic renewal, be sending Ace a monthly box of treats for the rest of her life, or worse yet, that I might be held accountable for covering that expense.

If that happens, they can expect to be paid off with lightly-used Olivia Newton-John albums.

A $73,000 doggie vacation

holiday

Calling all rich fools: Two British companies have partnered up to offer your dog a spectacular luxury dog holiday.

The cost is $73,000, which we assume covers a week’s worth of boarding along with all the other perks — surfing lessons, reiki sessions, grooming, a new wardrobe, a personal chef and much more.

These, mind you, are services the dog will receive, presumably while his or her owners are on vacation somewhere else, assuming they have any money left to take one.

Behind the ridiculous gimmick are Paw Seasons, a luxury dog hotel in Bristol, England, and VeryFirstTo.com, a company specializing in luxury experiences.

It will be made available to only one dog, said VeryFirstTo.com founder Marcel Knobil.

“It’ll definitely be an individual or couple who enjoy an extravagant lifestyle. While they go off to the Caribbean they want their pet to have an equally enjoyable, extravagant stay where they are,” Knobil said. “It’s for those who enjoy the finer things in life and have a sense of humor. They have a soft spot for their dog and want them to have the best time possible.”

Highlights of the “Spectacular Luxury Dog Holiday” include chauffeured rides by the Paw Season’s hotel driver, a private suite showing dog movies on a screen, a doghouse built to replicate the one the dog has at home, local beach and countryside walks, a running session with hurdles World Champion Dai Greene, a day with author and dog behavior expert Stan Rawlinson, and a grooming at the Pet Spa at Harrods that includes aromatherapy bath and body massage.

No one has signed up yet, but Knobil told ABC News. “We’re pretty hopeful. We know it’s extravagant, but it’s a fabulous time for the dog and benefits two very good causes.”

The companies say $10,000 from the sale of the package will be split between two charities — Cancer Research U.K. and Battersea Dogs Home.

(Photo: Veryfirstto.com)

Woof on the wharf: A doggie menu

Ace and I were strolling down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey – a place where one can make a meal out of the free samples of clam chowder offered by hawkers trying to lure you into their establishments.

Rather than mooch samples all afternoon, though, and in need of more copious amounts of chowder, I started eyeing the restaurants, looking for an affordable one with outdoor seating — one that might permit Ace to sit with me and watch me while I ate.

That’s when the hostess at Cafe Fina called out. Well, she didn’t really call out — the city has cracked down on that practice. Instead she quietly and casually mentioned:

“We have a doggie menu.”

When I approached, she went on to explain that Cafe Fina had some pretty good human food, too, and how the restaurant grew many of its own vegetables and how they were organic.

But she had us at doggie menu.

It offered “Chicken a la pooch,” “Hungry pup’s half pounder,” “Hound dog heaven,” and a 14-ounce steak that went for $15.95

We were offered our choice of patio seats and got situated, and I ordered the half-pound burger for Ace, clam chowder in a bread bowl for myself.

The hostess came out with a treat, which of course made Ace get unsituated, so that he might paw her arm in a gesture of affection, which really translated into “I’ll have that dog treat. NOW.”

With some work, I got him back down, but he was nearly trembling with excitement — if not in anticipation of the burger, at least by the noises and scents that emanated from the kitchen, which was on the other side of an open window just a few feet away.

It was chilly, with intermittent rain showers, but the canopy protected us and it was a perfect spot for people watching.

Ace had other ideas.

He took a seat right in front of the window, watching intently as the chef ladled my clam chowder into the bread bowl, its severed lid covered with melted cheese and garlic.

Yes, we were luxuriating a bit — forgetting for the moment about our budgetary limits, and straying from our near steady diet of fast food “Value Meals.”

I saw no reason we couldn’t live it up — at least for one meal.

I think maybe we were both drooling a bit when it finally arrived.

His burger, cut into bite-sized chunks, was steaming, so I kept it on the tabletop for a minute. He waited impatiently — somehow seemingly knowing it was for him. Rather than just sit still and hope I’d toss him a piece, he was up and down, up and down, wriggling this way and that.

Finally, I set it down before him, and it was gone in less than five seconds — inhaled almost as opposed to chewed.

The check came to $17 — more than we’ve been spending on dinner, much less lunch.

How much was it worth?

Every penny of it.

Waldorf offers room service — for dogs

The Waldorf-Astoria has kicked dog-friendliness up a notch, offering, for a limited time, room service to dogs as part of a new “Fido-Friendly” package at the Waldorf Towers.

“Recognizing the growing trend of canine traveling companions,” the New York hotel has debuted a “Canine Culinary” room service menu and “Fido-Friendly” package to welcome dogs to The Waldorf Towers.

“We have seen an increasing number of distinguished guests checking in with canine companions at their side,” stated Matt Zolbe, director of sales and marketing. “Recognizing that travel with pets is essential for many pet owners, we were inspired to launch a program catering to these guests’ unique needs.”

The Waldorf cited figures from the Travel Industry Association of America that show half of “adult leisure travelers” consider their pet to be part of the family, and nearly one in five take their pets with them when they travel.

Three cheers for the Waldorf — or maybe just two, because of that “distinguished guest” part. Shouldn’t every guest be distinguished? And shouldn’t every dog? And what — given the ongoing need they are boasting about filling — is with making the offer available only for a limited time? Is it a commitment or a gimmick? 

The Waldorf’s doggie room service menu features: “German shepherd’s pie,” “Dachshund’s delights,” which it describes as “miniature hot dogs with Fifi’s choice of sauces,” and ”Great Dane’s danish.”

Also available: ”Mastiff’s munchies” (toasted peanut butter sandwiches) “Pekingese’s duck,” and “Pomeranian’s pasta.”

How cute is that? A little too, in my opinion. 

The hotel’s “Fido-Friendly” package includes a luxury pet bed, two silver bowls, a special pet “amenity” a large bottle of water, and one complimentary dog walking during the stay. Dog Concierge services are also available to assist with travelers’ pet needs — from suggesting groomers to recommending Manhattan dog parks.

Nightly rates start at $569. Let’s repeat that: $569.

This offer is valid now through Dec. 31, 2010. For reservations or additional information,visit www.waldorfnewyork.com or call 800-925-3673.

(Photo: Provided by Waldorf-Astoria)

BARCS party Saturday benefits animals

The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) is having a party Saturday — and it’s a chance to get your pet a gift and support hundreds more who need homes.

A Pet Junkie Party will take place in the Conference Room at BARCS, starting at 4 .m. tomorrow (Saturday). BARCS is located at 301 Stockholm Street in Batimore, near M&T Bank Stadium.

Pet Junkie representative Denise Smallman-Chilcoat will be selling dog and cat toys, pet-themed home decor items, jewelry, T-shirts and more, with 35 percent of sales going to BARCS.

For those unable to make it to the party, Pet Junkie will donate 35 percent of online sales to BARCS.

DOGust 1st: The universal birthday

dogust1If your dog is like mine — adopted from a shelter or rescue — you most likely don’t know his or her true birthday.

I got around that by having a estimated birth month — April — and holding Ace’s gala birthday celebration on the day of that month that was most convenient to ME. He seemed cool with that.

The North Shore Animal League America now offers another option, aimed at all those dogs with mystery birth dates — “DOGust the 1st.”

The Animal League has officially proclaimed, or at least declared in a press release, that the first day of the eighth month (aka August 1) is DOGust the 1st, a universal birthday for shelter and rescued dogs everywhere.

To engage all dog lovers nationwide in the celebration, North Shore Animal League America is offering DOGust the 1st online greeting cards at www.AnimalLeague.org featuring an original song, “Happy Birthday, Doggie Dear,” created exclusively for DOGust the 1st by Academy and Tony Awards-nominated composer Henry Krieger and lyricist Willie Reale.

Krieger, who recently adopted his dog Freddie from the Animal League, has written the music for several Broadway shows, including Dreamgirls, and won a 2007 Grammy Award.

The Animal League, the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization,will celebrate Dogust 1st with a family fun day at its headquarters in Port Washington, N.Y. with a Pet Health Fair, kids’ activities, adoptable animals and a special DOGust the 1st birthday cake.

To learn more about DOGust the 1st and the Animal League, visit www.AnimalLeague.org.

In India, online doggie dating thrives

Wealthy dog owners in India are turning to online canine dating services to find dogs for their dogs to romp with.

And we’re using “romp” in all meanings of the word.

“A lot of dog owners want their dogs to have doggy friends with whom they can play and have their own fun time,” says Geetika Nigam, who launched the 6,500-user-strong Puppy Love  community two years ago.

Just like human dating sites, dog owners can upload photos, blog, search for the perfect match and set up dates, according to a Reuters article.

Many of the dogs are pedigreed — and some owners are looking for a dog to breed their dog with — but others are simply trying to set up play dates.

“People are very happy that finally someone has taken up this cause,” says Mumbai-based Mekhala Lobo, who spotted a business opportunity in her newly launched Date Your Pet  website.

“Believe me, in the dog world, finding a mate is next to impossible,” the MBA student said. And harder yet for the males. “Families generally prefer keeping male dogs so females are always in demand,” Nigam, who also owns a dog-grooming business, said.

Ishita Sukhadwala set up DogMateOnline in 2008 to help her cousin’s 6-year-old Doberman Rocky find a mate. “It was more out of necessity than anything else,” she said.

Rocky had a profile set up on the website, but he died before a potential match was found.

Pet ownership has boomed in India, thanks to its growing ranks of wealthy, middle and upper class professionals who are also driving sales of luxury goods. But for the vast majority of the country, which lives on between $1 and $2 a day, pets are not an option. Stray dogs are also often beaten, herded into trucks, poisoned and dumped into pits by government workers.