june 2013 barkbox review

Guess what?! My dogs and I won a BarkBox from Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps (thanks again, Linda!) earlier this month. I was excited! I quickly entered the code on 6/10 to make the cut-off for this month’s box. In case you’re not familiar with BarkBox, it’s a dog treat/supplement/toy subscription that sends a surprise box to your doorstep each month that’s filled with various products for your dog(s). According to their web site, this is usually expected to be four or more products or presents.

June 2013’s theme was appropriately targeted as a 4th of July picnic — I thought this was quite cute, since it has everything you need prior to the holiday.

Our box was shipped out on the 17th and arrived on the 22nd. It’s shipped out via DHL and then tendered by the USPS. It comes neatly packaged with little gift wrap and a card with everything you need to know about the products in your box along with a welcome message and a little “tip” sheet.

Included in this month’s box:

Heartland Premium bone (8 inches, retail value: $5.39)

Sourced from cows born and bred in Omaha, Nebraska. I like that this product is fairly local to me and that it provides a warning to certainly not use this on your carpet. This is definitely an outside bone, which fits well with an outside picnic theme. I’d likely give this to Quinn and Riggs on a day that’s a bit cooler where they can spend a considerable amount of time outside since they’re definitely not going to want to come back indoors anytime soon if this is hanging around! I’m a bit concerned about the hardiness of the bone, though, as marrow bones are known to chip teeth. I’ll have to think on this — it may be donated to the local shelter.

Bowser Beer by Busy Dogs, Inc (12 fl oz, retail value: $3.30 per bottle)

4th of July is all about celebrating and there’s definitely beer involved — so why can’t your dogs have beer, too? Wow! I’d never heard of this product before. I love that it’s 100% natural, bottled in the USA, and made from recycled material (a huge plus for me). This can be used as a topper to dry kibble or as an addition to water — the web site suggests serving over crushed ice which sounds like a great summer treat. No carbonation or alcohol, obviously. Definitely something I’d never even thought was manufactured for dogs. Kudos to the BarkBox team for this find.

Puptato Chips by Puppy Cake (2 oz, retail value: $4.99)

These look like they’re just made out of sweet potatoes (they look similar to apple chips), but they also have a bit of chicken liver added (which is important to note with any dogs with chicken allergies). Made in North Carolina with all USA ingredients and they’re great for sensitive stomachs because they’re a limited ingredient treat. However, I don’t really like that they don’t have a resealable bag, but that could also be because this isn’t a full-size product. Quinn was particularly pleased with this treat.

Grilled Sirloin Burgers Tail Mix by Whole Life Pet (1.2 oz, retail value: $3.15)

Made from 100% beef sirloin — I love that there’s only one ingredient. They’re also made and sourced in the USA, which is important these days given how many recalls with beef/chicken-based treats not made in the US. They’re freeze-dried and would work well as a training treat because they don’t leave that disgusting residue on your hands. I can’t stand beef-flavored treats that make your hand smell horrid! Definitely a high-quality treat, though, and my dogs went wild for them.

Calm K9 Nutri-Wafer by Dale Edgar Brand (retail value: $7.50)

What a cute idea to calm a dog’s nerves from fireworks! These chunky wafers are supposed to calm nerves and take about 30 minutes to kick in. Quinn is a very nervous dog outside of her element, so I can see a lot of potential with these. They smell decent, too. However, 14 wafers are $15 — so that seems a bit expensive, but not if you look at it from a situational point of view (vet visits, nail trims, etc). I love that these wafers have human-grade ingredients (chia seeds, hello!) and promote a sense of well-being. Really quite a great edition in a holiday-themed package and, thirty minutes after eating one, my dogs are calm and snoozing like babies.

Approximate value of this month’s box: $24.33

This appears to be a bit under the value of what you would pay for a box at full price. All prices were taken from retail sites or their official sites. BarkBox’s options for the large breed is $29/month, $24/3 months, and $19/6 months. Given the somewhat lower value of the box, I’d likely suggest going with the 3 or 6 month plan to get more of a value out of what you’re buying. It’s quite possible that higher-grade products or different quantities are included in future boxes and I will say that I’m a bit disappointed that there was no toy included. Overall, the surprise element and added fun make up for the few dollars off that this month’s box may have amounted to. Besides, when would you ever expect to try this variety of treats? The unique options alone make this subscription service a fabulous value. I’ll have to see what next month’s box brings.

Want to give BarkBox a try for yourself? Click here to get $5 off your first box. Keep in mind that if you’re just looking to try one box out, you will need to cancel your subscription before the next month to avoid being charged.


a bit of feedback re: pet beds

I’ve been on the search for a decent dog bed to throw outdoors in the summer. Now that we have two dogs rather than one, it has become more important as they enjoy spending hours upon hours in the backyard even on the edge of winter.

Last summer, I customized a bed from Kuranda for Quinn due to its orthopedic structure. Anyone who has researched raised beds has surely stumbled across Kuranda. Aside from the photograph below in which I tricked her with a bit of apple to look pleased, she wouldn’t touch it aside from licking the water that collected on the top after a storm (read: my own fault — I chose a fabric that was not breathable). Since the bed itself was $82 with shipping, I kept hoping she would start to enjoy it. Months later, I sold it on Craigslist to a lady with an elderly dog whose Kuranda bed finally gave out after several years of use. It’s clear that Kuranda is a trustworthy brand that makes a durable dog bed — an added plus is that they even offer a donation program for local animal shelters. However, something about the bed my dog was unfortunately not comfortable with.

On a whim, I decided to purchase a Coolaroo dog bed (in size large) to test out whether or not it would be a decent alternative. It had favorable reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, it was only $30! Definitely a plus for a budget-necessary household. But, really, come on — can a company that makes window shades and patio umbrellas really have a quality pet product? I was pleasantly surprised and, honestly, I think the design looks much more streamlined and pleasing to the eye. It has been durable with the two of them pouncing on top together (a combined weight of 100 pounds). It comes in several different colors, as well, but I decided on green so it would “match” our yard and blend in a bit more. You can read some very helpful reviews on Amazon regarding its quality.

A little photograph comparison:

Quinn | Kuranda bed
Riggs | Coolaroo bed

Needless to say, I’ll definitely be purchasing a second in the future so both dogs do not have to fight over who gets to sit on top of it. I hope I’ve provided some food for thought for anyone searching for a similar product!

(This post is purely my opinion and not sponsored by either brand in any way.)

a formal introduction

I’ve always been a dog person. I’m not one of those people who have dog-print pillows lining their couches or custom-fit, personalized jackets for their dog. No disrespect to anyone who does, of course. I don’t necessarily want this to become a place where I ramble on about how perfect my dogs are (because they’re not — just today, they decided to chomp at our bedposts like beavers… naughty, naughty), but I do think it’s important to introduce them as mention of them will be sprinkled in every now and again.

I would talk about them all day, every day if people would tolerate me. I’m trying to learn how to stop bragging about them.

Oh, I do love them — and their feet smell lovely.

Quinn Riggs

I have had a dog or two all my life, but for the first year I spent in Iowa, my boyfriend and I were in transition without anything furry running about our living space. Of course, my main motivation for getting my own dog was to have a dog, but it was also to force me to become more active outdoors. My dog was to become my gym membership and it worked, up until the blizzard season of the Midwest hit us. Since then, I need motivation to even leap onto my treadmill. Luckily, warmer weather is right around the corner!

Quinn (4.17.2011) is a vizsla/lab mix that we adopted from a local animal shelter at 3 months old. Her legs are a mile long and she’s skinny, skinny, skinny — and, yes, I do feed her.

Riggs (10.16.2012) is a mastiff/lab mix that we also found at the same shelter we adopted Quinn from year and a half prior. Clearly, he’s going to be quite large. He’s much more confident than she is and makes noises like a lawnmower.

This is how they spend most of their time:

I thought I’d write up a little hodge-podge of questions and answers because, hey, I find that sort of thing interesting and perhaps there’s someone out there who does, as well.

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things i found while looking around

I waste too much money on my dogs:

  • Island Mutt: I find their idea of using creating dog leashes/collars/toys with the nylon rope that’s used on docks really economical. I’d think keeping their Monkey Fist Dog Toy as an outside dog toy would be nice for the summer and dog park adventures.
  • Parapup and RuggedByDesignME: Etsy shops that offer leashes/collars made out of parachute cord. I’ll likely try this out for my next round of collar buying. It seems they would be far more durable than what I currently use which isn’t holding up to a rambunctious puppy.
  • Bergan EZ Steps Big Dog Dual Leash: I normally try to buy items such as this on Etsy or from a Farmer’s Market vendor since they always have such great patterns that stores do not (and they’re often cheaper or very similar in price — chain stores are such a ripoff for collars!), but I haven’t found anything similar in my searches. I need something that’s durable and tangle-free for both Quinn and Riggs and, while I’ve never, ever tried a dual leash, this one looks to be one the best I’ve found in terms of reviews.
  • ID4Pet: Unique, durable dog tags. I’ve purchased two already (one for Quinn and one for Riggs) and will definitely be returning to this shop in the future. They ship quickly and come with a really shiny gloss on them that doesn’t peel off.

Since we’re approaching spring, I definitely have “spring cleaning” on my mind. This includes getting rid of all the cans that have been in my pantry for weeks (just kidding — months!).

Deeeelicious recipes that have helped me do so:

  • Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole: I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and a can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies for the salsa and diced green chilies. I also threw remaining bits of the packages of shredded cheese we had in our fridge. No corn, either. This was fast, easy, and definitely ohmygod-I-have-so-much-crap-in-my-fridge friendly.
  • Lemon Yogurt Sugar Muffins: Minimal ingredients that I normally have on hand. This has been my go-to recipe if I feel the urge to bake.
  • Spicy Sausage Pasta: Um. This tastes like a dish I’d get at a restaurant and my “I swear I followed the recipe!” meals never come out to anything resembling that. I usually steer clear of any type of sausage, but this is really quite tasty.
  • Mexican Chickpea Salad: Why did I have three cans of garbanzo beans in my pantry? For this recipe, of course! I used red onion and RealLemon lemon juice from my fridge. I also didn’t include the avocado that’s suggested — that wouldn’t keep well. Divided into one cup containers and I had lunch made for work for three days. Warning: it’s really that good.

Random handmade goodies:


I often forget to take the time to make my own adventures — to explore seemingly-insignificant places and find the good in them. For the past week, our local dog park has been closed due to construction. During this time, I’ve taken my dog on the same walks throughout our neighborhood that we’re both used to. While it certainly hasn’t been boring, I did need a change of scenery. After living in our house for just over a year, I’ve been riding past the same bike trail day after day, always thinking to myself “this weekend, I’ll go there,” but then it never happens. There’s something or other to do that seems more significant. But, to be truthful: there’s no excuse. Take the time to explore the places around you and you just might be surprised like we were!