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Tag: gifts

What Ace got for Christmas: A BarkBox

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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.

What to get the beagle who has everything

For his Christmas gift, the owners of a beagle named Maymo stacked 210 empty plastic water bottles in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Then they let Maymo have at it.

The result? Hours of entertainment for the dog. Hours of entertainment for them. And, in the year since the video was posted, nearly 2 million views on YouTube.

Warmed by the holiday joy of regifting

 

Christmas, as we all know, isn’t about receiving. It’s about regifting.

At least it is for me this year.

Having spent the last seven months on the road with Ace, and being temporarily shacked up in a trailer park in the desert, I decided that all the gifts I give my family members in Arizona will be items that I have tested and gently broken in.

Because “used” is such a harsh word.

I don’t feel guilty about this at all — for several reasons. For one, my father announced he and his wife are not giving, and don’t want to receive, presents this year. They live on a fixed income. I live on a broken one. So it works out just fine. 

Then, too, as you regular readers know, part of Travels with Ace is seeing how cheaply we can pull off our time on the road — an attempt to spend no more money than we were while living in a rented house in Baltimore. We’ve managed, mostly, to do that, and I don’t want to allow the crass commercial side of Christmas to set back all we have achieved in that regard.

As far as the receiving side, facing the long journey back east in my already overstuffed car, any new items for me, at least those that aren’t cash, or are bigger than a breadbox, would be problematic — except for maybe a nice warm sweater, or perhaps some gloves.

In my view, though gifts aren’t what Christmas is all about, a totally giftless Christmas would be wrong. So I don’t intend to comply fully with my father’s no-gifts edict. Instead, I will put my own spin on it.

He and his wife, and my brother and his partner, who all live in the Phoenix area, will be receiving items from me that — while they have made my weeks in Petite Acres, a trailer park in Cave Creek, more comfortable – were purchased with them, at least partially, in mind.

True, they are items that I can’t or don’t want to haul back to Baltimore; and, yes, they are items that, for a brief period, served my purposes. But far more important than that is the spirit of giving in which I will bestow them, once I’m done with them.

To wit:

One red chiminea.

(Not to be confused with a chimichanga, this is a big clay pot with a smokestack — available at most local Western-Mexican-Indian gift shops in the area — in which you can build an outdoor fire.  I am not merely “using” the chiminea to keep myself from being cold at night, and add a warm glow to my dirt yard. I am lovingly breaking it in — seasoning it and tempering it, if you will — before I deliver it to my brother on Christmas day. Though Ace has been tempted to pee on it, because it resembles a fire hydrant, I am pretty sure he hasn’t.)

Two big coffee mugs — one red, one blue.

(What better symbolizes the warmth of the season than a brightly-colored coffee mug, filled with the steaming hot beverage of your choice? The fact that only one coffee mug came with my trailer, and was usually dirty, was not the main reason I bought these for my father and his wife. Rather, it was a well-thought out gift purchase, based on their desire not to have things that take up much space, and a mental note I made during a visit to their house that, while they had coffee mugs, they had no sizeable, gayly colored ones.)

One Indian blanket.

(Even more gayly colored and festive, this gift purchase, I reasoned, would help keep my father and his wife warm at night, and would be ideal for snuggling under while watching a little TV, and they do have a little TV. That Ace and I tested it out — that it may have a few dog hairs on it and smell like cigarette smoke by the time I give it to them — are but small concerns when one looks at the bigger picture and true meaning of Christmas.)

Two bags of Cave Creek Coffee holiday blend.

(The Cave Creek Coffee Company was having a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale on their holiday blend. So I bought two and got two for half price. I would like to make it clear that the ones I’m giving as gifts to my father and brother are those for which I paid fully, while I’m hanging on to the half-price ones — allowing me to test it, making sure the blend is both savory and festive.)

So, you see, while they may have briefly fulfilled my modest needs, these gifts, I’m sure you understand, are not really “used,” or even “pre-owned” — for I don’t look at my relationship with them as that of owner-and-item.

Rather, my time with them has been fleeting – just enough to allow me to share in their joy before passing that joy on to others, at once “paying it forward” and  ensuring that said items are indeed quality merchandise that will go on to bring my family members countless years of happiness.

So when I sit outside as the sun sets, under a festive Indian blanket, drinking Cave Creek holiday blend from a brightly colored coffee mug and keeping my feet toasty in the warm glow of a chiminea, I am thinking not of myself, but of how much pleasure my purchases will, eventually, bring my family members.

Yes, I’m quite a guy.

Properly treated: Thanks to K-9 Kraving

Here in the plush offices of ohmidog! — aka my car — we make every effort to keep a distinct boundary between advertising and editorial content.

Unlike many a website, we don’t accept money — however much we might need it — for sneaking advertising links into our editorial matter. We don’t assault you with pop-ups. We don’t run advertising in disguise. All our ads are on our leftside rail (<—— ) over there. Blame it on my journalism background. I’m ethical, darn it.

That doesn’t mean we won’t write about or mention our advertisers, or other companies, when circumstances merit it — either as a news item or, as in this case, when thanks are due.

For every stop we’ve made as part of our continuing “Dog’s Country” tour, K-9 Kraving, Baltimore-based maker of  raw diet dog food, has shipped a package of treats to our hosts — to those individuals who offered us lodging and to the shelters, sanctuaries and rescues we’ve reported on.

It’s my way of saying thank you, without actually paying for it.

Treat room at K-9 Kraving

What makes it even cooler, is that it was K-9 Kraving’s idea. I did offer to, in exchange, run their advertisement for free for the duration of my trip, but, as it turns out, they’re spending far more than that shipping a collection of treats to those place I’ve stopped.

So, from St. Bernard’s Parish in Louisiana, where the oil spill has led to an influx of shelter dogs, to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where I spent two days as a volunteer, to Utopia Animal Rescue, Kinky Friedman’s Texas-based sanctuary (home of the dog shown above), shipments  of K-9 Kraving treats have arrived.

Those individuals with dogs who have taken me in — including Judith Pannebaker in Bandera, Texas, Jen Walker in Albuquerque, and my brother in Phoenix — have also received treat packages, in thanks for their hospitality to ohmidog!

So now it’s my turn to thank K-9 Kraving, whose raw diet dog food was Ace’s food of choice — back when we had a freezer.

Now, as many of you know, we’re on the road, and have been for 50 days. Likely, as we’ve found we can travel for about the same amount of money we survived on back in Baltimore, while still doing our blog and seeking jobs, we’ll continue for a few months more – taking the pulse of America, its dogs, and its dog-friendliness in a journey made possible by my 401K, unemployment insurance and K-9 Kraving and all my other advertisers.

So thanks to them all. Now get back over there to the leftside rail, where you belong.

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.

Family hopes for return of stolen puppy

max2The Alioto family is still hoping for the safe return of Max, a four-month-old puppy that was apparently taken during a burglary of their Baltimore home.

The house, in the city’s Gardenville neighborhood, was broken into two days before Christmas, and thieves took electronic equipment, video games, several Christmas presents and the family’s new mixed breed puppy, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Keith Alioto, 41, of the 5700 block of Belle Vista Ave., said he, his wife and six children left the house about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and returned about 11 p.m. to find the house had been broken into through a rear window.

The dog is mostly black with brown and white chest and paws. He wasn’t wearing a collar. Alioto said fliers with a photo of the missing dog have been distributed throughout the area.

Update: For this story’s happy ending, view the comments.

Company for Christmas: Then there were four

DSC07691My very doggie Christmas continues, with the arrival of my final holiday guest — Lucas, an old yellow Lab and my most vocal visitor yet.

Perhaps its just his Christmas spirit, but he has broken into song several times since his owner dropped him off this morning. They generally last three to four minutes, then he plops down on the floor, exhausted from all the caroling.

His barking sprees get Darcy started (Lucas is an alto, Darcy a soprano). Ace, after trying to figure out what Lucas is barking about,  goes upstairs. Cheyenne, the blind dog, sits calm and trance-like in a corner, seemingly realizing that the other dogs aren’t barking at anything in particular — but just for the sake of barking.

Lucas brought a stuffed toy with him, but Darcy immediately sexually assaulted the unsuspecting Gingerbread Man, then began pulling out his cotton stuffing. He has been removed from circulation, and is listed in critical condition, pending treatment from a seamstress.

DSC07703We opened stockings — Cheyenne seemed to enjoy sporting the antlers that were in hers — and chowed down on a smorgasbord of treats, maybe too many treats, as someone (and I’m not pointing any fingers) pooped on the floor.

Lucas is just a day guest, and will be picked up tonight. Darcy and Cheyenne will both be staying a few more days — so expect a few more updates on my canine Christmas.

Until then, allow me to thank my guests for making my Christmas a lot more lively; my dog for so graciously sharing his couch and home with visitors; and Febreeze for helping me mist away the lingering odors left by whoever it is that’s farting.

Thanks also to all the readers of ohmidog! Happy holidays, and best wishes to you and your dogs  for a happy new year, from me and my Christmastime crew — from left to right, Darcy, Cheyenne, Ace and Lucas.

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(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)


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