Restaurant Review: The Village Corner

The Village Corner is also pet friendly. They have a lovely back patio, with a fire pit that keeps everyone warm. We sat in the back, so that Shelby's lead wouldn't trip any of the servers.

The food here is fantastic. We ordered the paella. Shelby got none. I presume that means she likes the The Forge in the Forest restaurant better.

November 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Restaurant Review: The Forge in the Forest

With the unusually nice weather lately, Steven and I decided that we should take another trip down to Carmel. It was easily one of the most beautiful days we had ever seen down there. Shelby whined most of the way down, but brightened up when we got there. Our first stop was Diggity Dog to pick up their list of pet friendly restaurants and lodging. One of the restaurants, The Forge in the Forest, actually has a menu for dogs.

The restaurant is very quaint, with a lovely outdoor eating area in the front. We were told that the wait would be about 15mins, and it was more like 30mins. We were thirsty while we were waiting, so Steven bought a glass of wine and an iced tea. We sat in the front patio waiting for a table to open up when we were told that dogs were not allowed in the front. So here's Shelby sitting with us on the sidewalk. Guests with dogs eat in the private back patio, which is also nice, but that wasn't our expectation and Steven felt like a second class citizen. Despite being disappointed that we weren't going to be eating in the lovely front patio, the reason for such a policy became apparent when the Pomeranian in the corner started barking at another dog, leaving Steven and I to ponder why everytime we see a barking dog, it seems to be a Pom.

Service was friendly, but slow. It might have been that they didn't expect such a large crowd for a late lunch. This was our first time at this restaurant, so I'm not sure what's the norm. We ordered an artichoke for $8. Steven was appalled. Surely, he didn't just wait 30mins to pay 8 bucks for an artichoke that was grown 10 miles away from the restaurant. This was the equivalent of the 5 dollar milkshake in Pulp Fiction. It became obvious why the artichoke was so expensive after we bit into it. This is a good artichoke. It's soaked for 3 days in balsalmic vinegar, then grilled. Steven ordered a burger. I ordered a grilled eggplant sandwich. Portions were huge. We ordered Shelby an all beef Hot Diggity Dog for $3.95 which I'm sure made this Shelby's favorite restaurant of all time.

Other items on the doggy menu include:
Plain Ol' Kibble — $2.50
The Quarter Hounder — $4.95
Hen House Chicken Strips — $4.95
Good Dog, 8oz of grilled steak — $12.95
and milkbone Bonies — Free, though we passed since Shelby was already eating her weight in hot dogs.

With some many other dog friendly restaurants in Carmel, it's hard to say if we'll definitely be back. There's a lot to explore. But it was certainly worth a first try (if only for the artichoke), and Shelby loved it.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Earthquakes and Pet ID

We've had some earthquake activity. There was a tsunami alert for a little while due to a big earthquake off the coast of Oregon. Luckily nothing happened, but Steven had the good idea to keep Shelby's tags on her during this time in case she gets separated from us in an emergency. This particular tag we ordered from Boomerang Tags. Shelby has two. A metal collar tag, and a plastic one. They are both very nice. The collar tag sits flush with the collar, and the plastic one can have information on both sides, which is enough to contain all her identification information. This means no jingling!

June 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Roomba gets a flat

Let me start by saying that I believe Shelby to be an innocent bystander in this incident. I set Roomba loose in the kitchen, and left to tidy up other areas in the house. Shelby followed me around for the most part and then disappeared. Shortly after, I found her in the kitchen watching Roomba burnish crop circles in the wood floor. What went wrong?

As it turns out, Roomba blew a tire, but the other tire was still going strong and sending the robot in circles. And wouldn't you know it. The warranty was up. I visited irobot.com to see if I could order replacement wheels.

Not only were they already aware of the problem, but they would ship the replacement tire free of charge, including shipping. Everything was available online. All I had to do was provide shipping information. Perfect!

March 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sense-ible Harness Review

About a month ago, Steven and I bought Shelby a collar in the hopes that it would help train her to be more tolerable on lead. Having grown up with a harness, Shelby learned to pull, because she could. We've tried several harnesses on her: the traditional adjustable harness, the step-in harness, and the Holt no-tug harness. The first two, were not meant to prevent pulling, and of course, Shelby pulled. So I bought the no-tug harness, but Shelby still pulled. So then we tried the big big collar, but Shelby still pulled.

And so my last options were to either live with the embarassment of having my dog walk me, or try the Sense-ible harness.

I ordered a small Sense-ible harness from www.softouchconcepts.com. The harness is unusual in that it attaches to the lead from the front.

Fit is very important for this harness. It has to be snug but not so tight that it rubs. I spent about 10 minutes as Shelby patiently waited for me to adjust the harness, before I realized I had put it on her upside down (Ugh) and had to start over. Again, Shelby waited while I adjusted the straps. (This time, successfully.)

We've only gone on a few walks with the harness, but thus far, I am pleased with the result. Shelby's pulling has dropped dramatically, starting with the first use. This is because if she pulls very hard, the harness forces her to turn, which doesn't get her to where she wants. And it's extremely easy to pull Shelby forward if she is lagging behind, usually to smell something stinky. I must admit that it is sometimes a bit awkward having the lead attach to the front of harness. When Shelby steps over the lead, we have to stop to fix it before continuing our walk. For this reason, I prefer using it with a reatractable lead. (No slack means Shelby doesn't step over the lead.) The upside is that I don't have to exert much force to get Shelby to behave or to steer her on lead. I figure that it's a worthwhile trade off. And since there's little stress on Shelby's collar, I don't need to be as concerned about her injuring herself. She's still not very good on lead, but she's getting better, and at least I won't accidentally hurt her while she's learning to walk on a leash. I  short, more control with less exertion.

I took a little video of me walking Shelby with the new harness. It shows her being “reasonable” on lead, as well as what it looks like when I pull her away from something. View the video.

Some notes about the harness. It costs about $22.00 after taxes, shipping and handling. It's not meant for anything except for walking and training. Not running, not for tie-outs, not for restraining in the car. It can be used for training. Fit is very important, so measure carefully. Shelby was a small, bordering on medium. To minimize the possibility of chafing in her armpits, I'll probably sew a little piece of fleece to the bottom strap.

March 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (12)

She's freaking out: An Outward Hound Car Seat and Pet Food Express Review

I've grown increasingly unhappy with my car.

It's a perfectly good car, but it's ill suited to handle Shelby and her fur. I've already purchased a mat to cover the back seats, which helps, but somehow this little dog manages to coat everything that is not covered by this mat in fur. I was desparate. I tried putting her in a crate, and she cried the entire trip. I tried putting her in a Sherpa bag, and she not only cried, but also tried to claw her way out. I thought maybe she was a bit claustophobic, so when I saw this elevated dog car seat at Pet Food Express, I thought I'd give it a try.


As you can see from the photo, things did not work out well. Shelby managed to tangle herself in the safety latch in the back. I had trouble attaching her to it, since her harness has 2 rings, and the safety latch only comfortably fits 1 ring. Shelby also managed to get one leg out of her harness. This is not a good thing at freeway speeds. If you want to see Shelby freaking out over the dog car seat, then continue reading...

So unfortunately, I am still on the lookout for a product that will turn my (fabric interior) passenger car into a Shelby-mobile. I've been pretty pleased with Outward Hound's affordable pet products in the past, but this one just didn't work out. I returned the car seat to Pet Food Express, and they took it back, no questions, and credited my card.

Summary:
Outward Hound Car Seat: Not so great fo Shelby, but it might work for your pet
Pet Food Express: Really great. I would shop there again.

January 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (15)

The gravy wars

Gravy_review

Shelby has turned out to be quite a finicky dog. This is partially our fault, but that being said, sometimes I will add gravy for dogs into her dry food so that she will eat it. Here's a little comparison I made between two brands of gravy I found at the store. VitaGravy chicken flavor and Healthy Essentials cheese flavor. Not an exact comparison, since the flavors are different, but Vita Gravy doesn't have a cheese flavor, and Healthy Essentials doesn't have a chicken flavor...so I test only what I can get.

First up: Vita Gravy
This stuff looks pretty good to me. It looks like a blended chicken stew. I gave this to Shelby for a few meals in the evening when she is usually most hungry. The first few times, the gravy worked, and Shelby lapped it up. But now, she's lost interest, and walks away from the bowl just as if there were no gravy at all. It took about half a bottle for Shelby to get bored.

Second contender: Healthy Essentials
Shelby has had Healthy Essentials before, but a different flavor. This one claims to be good for skin and coat, and Shelby has never turned down cheese in her whole life, so I gave this a try. She's only had this flavor a few times, but she seems to like it. She usually skips breakfast, but when I added this gravy, she ate at least half. Not ideal, but not bad. Shelby has tried the Hip and Joint gravy as well, and she likes it.

Gerber
Third contender: Gerber Beef Baby Food
Someone at puppy class recommended using baby food as a reward. So I bought a little jar at the store. It's probably a bit high calorie, butI figure it would be interesting to try. I mixed a generous teaspoon into Shelby's food. She scarfed it! She loves this stuff. In fact, she sees nothing else when the jar is out of the fridge. If I make a hand motion to "sit" she doesn't see it, because she's only looking at the jar. It was fun to watch, but I hope I haven't caused any behavioral problems because of this. I'm mentally picturing Shelby obsessively licking the food off a newborn's face. :P

November 29, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Taste Test

taste_test

Shelby likes her current food when it's mixed with wet, but doesn't have the time of day for it when it's dry. And we'd like to get her completely on dry, now that her adult teeth are mostly in. I got some samples of dog food from a local pet shop. We tested Wellness, Innova, Canidae, and Karma.

We gave Shelby her standard kibble with wet for dinner. She normally scarfs down dinner, so that's not a good test of food tastiness. Breakfast however, she has left sitting until 2pm before touching it. So we conducted our test in the morning.

Day 1: Wellness by Old Mother Hubbard.
I put about 2/3 Wellness, and 1/3 current kibble in the bowl. This stuff smells. Shelby should love it. At first Shelby wasn't interested. I set out one Wellness kibble for her. She played with it and smelled it for a bit. After eating it, she ate breakfast, working around the current kibble, and fishing out the Wellness. She finished the entire bowl in about 5 mins. Not bad at all. She did have a bit of trouble with the size of the kibble.

Day 2: Canidae
With the same setup as the previous day, Shelby showed less interest in this food than in the Wellness brand food. She left some in the bowl, and finished it later in the day.

Day 2 Continued: Rotisserie Chicken
Uh oh. Shelby managed to steal a taste of Steven's rotisserie chicken dinner while we were not looking. A lot of yelling ensued. The question is...now that she's tasted rotisserie chicken, is this pup still going to eat kibble?

Day 3: Innova and Karma
I set out 2/3 Innova and 1/3 standard kibble. Shelby showed no interest at all. She ate one and would have nothing to do with the bowl. So I switched Innova for Karma, which is organic. I was secretly hoping she wouldn't like it because it was expensive, but she did. She finished the Karma in about 10 minutes, however she was incredibly messy in doing so. I'm not sure why. The kibble size and shape is similar to other brands.

Conclusion: Looks like I get to decide if I want tp buy a slightly cheaper but stinkier food (Wellness) or a non-stinky organic food (Karma).

Your results may vary, especially since our test subject stole 2 bites of a rotisserie chicken midway through the test. Naughty puppy.

July 12, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4)

There's a new vacuum in town— Dyson Product Review

old_vac

This is Steven's old vacuum. It's a bit worse for wear. It's missing a wheel. The suction is OK, but the brush attachment broke.

Enter Dyson.

shelby_dyson

Cons:
1. Price.
It's hefty for a vacuum. I found this model for $430 at Costco, but it retails for more.

2. Looks.
It's the ugliest thing I own, and that includes my blue suede platform shoes. This thing looks like a made-up 80s teenager. Aqua Blue and purple?! And worse yet, the purple has glitter in it.

3. On board tools are difficult to use.
While this Dyson comes fully equipped, the tools were clumsy to handle. I had to attach the hose in a certain way to use the tools, and at times, I had Transformer flashbacks. Except it was less fun since the Dyson transforms from a vacuum to a vacuum. And when I'm done, I have to vacuum.

4. Cord.
What's up with no retractable cord?

5. Manuverability.
Maybe Roomba has made me soft, but I think the Dyson is a bit heavy and bulky to move around. I use to use a Dirt Devil swivel. Very easy to manuever by comparison. And the Dirt Devil had a lower profile, making it easier to get under things.

Pros:
This thing sucks. No seriously. It really sucks. Check out how mush dust I pulled out of the carpet.

dyson_dust

I can't believe we were living in that much dust! And this was just upstairs. There's a canister full of dust from downstairs sitting in the trash bin. Some of the rooms I vacuumed, had a been vacuumed just the previous day by either Roomba, or Steven's vacuum.

Also, we bought the model with the animal hair attachment. I was frustrated with most of the attachments I used, except for this one. It works great.

Overall, I'm impressed by Dyson's suction power. I must admit that the increased spending on vacuums recently was mostly due to Shelby's shedding. We've had her for 5 months. Long enough for everything to be covered in hair, but short enough for us to remember how nice things were when they weren't furry. The Dyson made me more aware of the general dust that needs to be dealt with.

July 11, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Roomba vs. Shelby — A Roomba Product Review

We've had Roomba for about 2 weeks now. We've used just about every other day to help deal with Shelby's fur. Here are some first impressions.

The first time
Roomba's instructions are easy enough to understand. Unfortunately it takes 12 hours to charge. There is a quick charger, but it's a separate purchase. (And we didn't buy it.) 12 hours later, we gave Roomba its first run. It needs to be watched the first time so that we can evaluate any trouble spots where Roomba might get stuck. After that, it doesn't need supervision. In general I was impressed. It doesn't fall off stairs, and I saw it lift itself off if a wire tube furniture leg when it high-centered. We moved chairs out of the room so that it could get around everything. We did find that Roomba's power swtich was the exact same height as one of our door stops, and as a result Roomba would turn itself off accidentally. Luckily, Roomba comes with a little "virtual wall" module that let's you seal off a room. So we seal off that door stop when Roomba is at work. The module takes batteries, which are not included.

How well does it vacuum?
We set Roomba loose on the dining room, which has not been vacuumed well in about 6 months. (Some of this dirt and dust has been here so long that it should be paying rent.) It came back with a dirt bin full of hair, dust, and other crap. I then set it loose again on the same room immediately after. It pulled in less, but there was more dirt and hair. I set it loose a third time. This time it pulled in significantly less hair and dust. About 1/3 the amount of the first session. I haven't had time to compare this to other vacuums. I mean, why doesn't it get everything the first time around? We're willing to forgive this, since
Roomba's low profile means it gets under things that haven't been vacuumed in years. This is great! We saw it go under the curio, and it almost made it under the couch. We shimmied up the couch so it would go underneath.

Maintaining Roomba. Roomba needs to be emptied after each room. It's dirt/dust container is small. Ths air filter is also pretty small. There are 3 areas that need to be emptied. The dirt container is separated into two compartments, and occasionally, stuff gets sucked into the lower tray. It sound like a pain, but it's not hard. The directions recommend that we remove foreign items from the brushes as well, but we haven't found any yet. For as much hair that Roomba is picking up, I find this remarkable.

Battery Life. The battery life is OK. Not great, not lousy. Just OK. Roomba has done up to 3 large rooms before running out of batteries, so for us, it cannot do the whole house on one charge, but it can do one floor. That means it will take 12 hours before we can vacuum the second story.
We have low-pile berber carpet and wood floors. Roomba's instructions say that it works best on low-pile carpet, and not at all on a high shag carpet. The higher the pile, the fewer rooms it can clean on one charge.

Durability. I can't say much about this yet, since we've only had it two weeks. So far so good. Nothing's broken. Parts of it do feel cheaper that on a standard vacuum, but that might be due to its small size.

Noise. Roomba is not as noisy as a standard vacuum, thouth I wouldn't try to watch TV or listen to the radio with it running. It's about as loud as my dishwasher.

What is Roomba good for?
You'll have to decide if Roomba is right for you. The ideal situation for Roomba would be a low-pile carpet or smooth floor (wood, laminate etc.). Do a good cleaning with your vacuum, or even better, a carpet cleaning. Then use Roomba for maintenance cleaning. For example, set Roomba loose on the first floor on Mondays, and the second floor on Tuesdays, letting Roomba charge for 12 hours inbetween. Keep a small vacuum around for times when Roomba is charging, or for emergency spills. Since Shelby sheds constantly, Roomba has worked out very well for us. It takes care of all the vacuum maintenance with no supervision required. Shelby has stopped barking at it, and doesn't appear alarmed when Roomba is doing its thing.

By the way, no one paid me to review Roomba. I paid $200 at Target, but found it cheaper online.

May 24, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (12)