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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