Good Dog! Product Test Report: Fido’s Fun Ball

Once in a while a new product comes out that is so terrific, yet so simple, that we think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Well Fido’s Fun Ball™ falls into that category!

When they arrived at the Good Dog! office, it was like a doggy holiday. Chops carried hers around in her mouth for at least a week. If she went outside to take care of business, so did her ball; if she took a nap, so did her ball. She’d stand by our desks squeezing it (it doesn’t squeak, it just makes air noise), bugging us so much to play with her, that we finally hid it for a while just to get some relief. That didn’t last too long though; she was so sad that we gave it back. Ross, our publisher, even went so far as to say that she seems to like it more than her Frisbee®. Let me tell you, that’s saying a lot!

Katie likes the ball too. Sometimes she’ll get it and lay her head on it (she’s such a slugdog that she never really plays with anything!), but Chops always lets us know by barking non-stop until Katie gives it up. Never mind that there were several of these balls available for her to play with. If she sees Kate with something – especially the Fun Ball – she has to have that exact toy!

Fido’s Fun Ball was also a big hit at my house. Harley loves it so much that he hides it from Mandy and Fisher when he’s not playing with it. And we all agreed that not having a squeaker makes it even more wonderful!

The idea comes from the company that makes the Eclipse Ball™, which is a team racquet and ball sport. The owners found that their dogs loved to play with the rejects, and the idea was born. The ball is completely non-toxic, including the ink used for the logo. (In fact, the dogs’ slobbery-stuff washes the logo right off.) The balls are really soft and squishy, and I think that’s one reason why all the dogs love them so much.

You can choose pink for girl dogs and – what else – blue for boy dogs! There are two sizes: one is the same size as a racquet ball, and the other is about the size of a softball. We found that the large ball was too big for Katie’s mouth, but it was just fine for Chops.

The only thing we didn’t like about the ball was that it gets really slimy and picks up a lot of dog hair (and other stuff that may be on your floor). But that’s a very minor complaint compared to the amount of joy it brings the dogs.

There’s also a ball for puppies called Fido’s First Ball™. The only difference is that it’s a little softer. All the balls are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and they’re so durable that no damage has been done to them, even with all the abuse they’ve gone through. I could go on all day about how wonderful this product is, but I think you get the idea. This is one ball that no doggy house should be without.

The company is in the process of talking to retail outlets, so if you want to get them now, order directly from the company. I suggest you do yourself and your dog a favor and give them a call at 1-800-998-2260, or write Eclipse Ball, PO Box 333, Grant, MI 49327.

Wendy Houtz

Product Test Report: The Dog Hoop

When the Dog Hoop™ arrived at the Good Dog! office, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to try it out. But, before I opened the package, I thought it was a basketball goal for dogs. I thought, “How am I going to get the dogs to put the ball in the hoop?” Much to my surprise, it was a hoop for humans! The object is to throw a tennis ball at the hoop and train your dog to bring the ball back.

The hoop did require some assembly, but I was able to put it together in just a few minutes – without tools. Basically, it’s a small basketball goal with a narrow hoop. The stand is made from PVC pipe and has a metal stake which sticks in the ground (and makes it easy to move around); the hoop is a normal basketball hoop with a PVC elbow on the bottom that’s just big enough for a tennis ball. Attached to that is a bell that rings when you make a basket.

I tried it with Chops, Good Dog!’s Chief Test Dog. Since she’s part Golden Retriever, I thought she’d be really good at this game. I was wrong! Not enough Retriever in her, I guess. She stayed interested for about one minute, and then took the ball and wanted me to chase her. I was very disappointed, because I was having a great time.

Next, I took it home to my dogs for a game of 3-on-1. I thought with my wide variety of dogs – Jack Russell Terrier, Keeshond mix, and Alaskan Malamute – at least one of them would think this was as great as I did. I was wrong again. All three played for a total of three shots, and then Fisher (the Malamute) went and stretched on the deck while Mandy (our Keeshond mix) returned to the house for her hedgehog toy. Harley (the energetic Jack Russell Terrier) did stick with me a little longer, but he then joined Mandy in a game of “kill the hedgehog.”

I think the Dog Hoop is both a great idea and a lot of fun, even if the test dogs didn’t. My dogs have never really played anything like this before, and they get distracted easily, but I think it would be great for the right dog. Now your job is to figure out if you have the right dog or not!

Gary Hansen, the inventor, told us, “As an owner of a retriever-holic dog, I realized the need for a game in which both parties can get enjoyment from playing. Hence the Dog Hoop. Instead of throwing the ball aimlessly for your dog, you now have something to shoot for.”

If your dog likes to retrieve, then this is a natural for him and for you – if you like to shoot baskets!

The Dog Hoop comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. To order, send a check or money order for $39.95 plus $5.00 shipping to G.B. Hansen Co. Inc., PO Box 39697, Minneapolis, MN 55439. If you have questions, call 612-844-0760.

Wendy Houtz

Good Dog! Product Test Report: The Original Fetchball Scoop

The Fetchball™ Scoop from Cestaball Enterprises, Inc. is something to see! Basically, it’s a 15” long, yellow, lightweight, plastic scoop – like the ones used in the game of Jai-Alai.

It’s wide enough to hold many of the standard dog balls or the ever-favorite tennis ball. The wide tip makes it easy to pick up the ball without touching it. The high side walls keep the ball from falling out of the Scoop, and also help control your throw.

Each Scoop is handcut and assembled in a 40-step process. It has a soft leather glove attached to it by a small bolt. You put the glove on and then strap it closed with Velcro®. The Velcro strap will also fasten the Scoop to your belt for easy carrying.

The object of the Fetchball Scoop, according to creator Neal Scheyer, is to “Never touch a slobbery ball again!” (In a perfect dog world, this may be true, but unfortunately my world doesn’t include perfect dogs.) And it takes the game of fetch a step farther since it allows you to throw the ball up to 150 feet – without throwing your arm out!

Scheyer says the benefits to your dog include increased agility and sharpened motor skills; strengthening the musculoskeletal system; relieving stress and reducing shedding; improving mental alertness, digestion and coat; strengthening the immune system; enhancing the cardiorespiratory system; and giving the dog a deeper, longer sleep.

Scheyer recommends starting slowly after a warm-up of short throws, and ending with a cool-down period. And, of course, always provide plenty of water before, during and after a romp with the Fetchball Scoop. The Scoop can be used to serve your dog water, too.

The first thing you do is slip your hand into the glove and then strap the Velcro around your wrist. Make sure the Velcro is tightly fastened so the Scoop won’t fly off your arm when you throw the ball.

The glove fits rather snugly, so expect that it’ll take a bit of effort to get it on your hand. But this is a good thing. It means that between the tightly fastened Velcro and the snugly-fitting glove, the Scoop won’t come loose in the heat of the game!

It took me about 10 minutes to get the hang of throwing the ball with the Scoop, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty simple. The hard part comes when you try to get your dog to do what you want! The main objective is to get your dog to drop the ball directly in the Scoop after he has retrieved it. I played with Chops first. While she’s a brilliant and reliable retriever, she likes to tease some of us by playing “keep away” on the return trip. When she was in that mood, the Scoop was kind of pointless – I had to use my hand to get the ball out of her mouth. Chops is not the ideal candidate for the Fetchball Scoop, but she’s a heck of a catch partner!

Harley, my Jack Russell Extra-ordinaire, did really well with this one. He’s a good fetch dog, so he always brought the ball back to me. After only a couple of times, he put the ball back in the Scoop. I didn’t have to touch the tennis ball at all once he started to cooperate!

It’s a really fun game if you have a big area to play in, because you can make the ball go far once you master the technique of throwing with the Scoop. But, as the instructions say, throw the ball only as far as the dog can see, or you’ll have to fetch the ball yourself!

I also tested the Scoop with my other dogs. Mandy is like Chops – she just took the ball and ran away with it, so it wasn’t as much fun with her. Fisher looked at me like I was crazy if I thought she was going to get up from her comfortable place on the deck (she was still there from the Dog Hoop test).

My husband, Steve, tried it out in the house, and we decided we would definitely not recommend this. The ball gets going pretty fast! But, men will be boys, now, won’t they?

When the Scoop arrived, Good Dog! editor Judi Sklar tried it on first. She thought the glove was too difficult to get on and said the Velcro “bit” her! She phoned Neal Scheyer who explained that a tight glove is a good glove since that means it’ll stay on. But he went to work on the Velcro and they’ve improved the strap by smoothing the edges. The glove was a little uncomfortable to me, but it was bearable. It comes in three sizes: Medium, Large and Extra Large for either right- or left-handed humans (make sure you specify which one you need).

Harley and I think this is a great invention! You’ll find the Fetchball Scoop at Pet Supply Warehouse, or call the manufacturer, Cestaball Enterprises, Inc., Carlsbad, CA 92009 at 619-944-9403. The company is working on developing Fetchball Competitions, so you might want to check into that, as well

Wendy Houtz

Bone Voyage! travel bag

If you travel with your dog, then the Bone Voyage!™ Travel Bag from M&M Productions is for you. It’s one of the more creative ideas we’ve seen – in a very attractive package. We received the small-sized Bone Voyage for our test. A medium size is available, as well as a large (which would suit my 85-pound Malamute perfectly).

The bag looks like a black soft-side weekender in an oval design. The outside of the bed is durable canvas – the kind of material that backpacks are made of – so it’s very sturdy. And the whole shootin’ match is machine washable.

There’s the always-important removable carrying strap and luggage tag. But zip this bag open (the zipper top can completely detach) and surprises abound – there are clever pockets and elastic holders in the lid to hold necessary items for Rover! The case itself is lined in a soft Dalmatian-print faux fur to create a comfortable bed for your pup. (A cheetah print is also available.)

Tucked inside are things that you might need while traveling with your dog: two small Rubbermaid® containers for food and water; one empty plastic shampoo bottle; one empty plastic flea-spray bottle; a small flea comb; the luggage tag; and the carrying strap. As a limited offer, the company is including the following as an accessory pack (basically, until they run out): a package of ten odor-neutralizing Doggy Walk Bags; a small container of Top and Tail Sanitary Wipes; and Rio Vista™ Conditioner and Shampoo. Even with all that, there’s still room for plenty more.

Care instructions are also included, as well as an informative demonstration video. This video shows how to take the bed apart for washing, and how to reassemble it. (I wish more companies would be that considerate!)

Harley, my 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier, immediately curled up inside the bed. But the pillow comes out easily for dogs that would rather not sleep inside the bed.

This is a wonderful idea your dog will love! (And our cats loved to snooze on it, when it was stored, zipped up under a desk. For more information, or to order, contact M&M Productions, 2781 W. MacArthur Blvd, Suite B-307, Santa Ana, CA 92704, or call toll-free 888-645-1613. For those of you on-line, their e-mail address is [email protected]

Wendy Houtz and Judi Sklar

ASK DR. WHADDOWEDO

 

We’re frantic! Our neighbor’s dog choked on a toy. So now we’re very much aware that dog toys shouldn’t be too small or have detachable parts. That leaves us with the question: which toys are okay for Bobbin?

This is a good question. Keep Bobbin away from plastic or soft rubber toys. They can be chewed into chokable pieces. Nylon chews can crack a tooth (as can any crunchy object the dog can get all the way in his mouth). Rawhide is a big culprit in choking, too. What’s left? Rubber toys like those from Kong® and rope pull toys and bones like those from Booda. Also, to avoid behavior problems, don’t let Bobbin play with old shoes or socks. Dogs can’t tell the difference between old and new, so all your clothing will become fair game!

I can’t feel Merry’s rib cage. Is she out of shape? How can we tell – through exercise? And just how would exercising tell us?

 

Try to instigate a vigorous game with Merry for several minutes. Get her to run for 30 feet. Does she huff and puff or refuse to participate? If so, tell your veterinarian who can recommend a sensible diet and  exercise program suitable to Merry’s needs.

Nick is our senior citizen dog. His skin is dry and flaking. Is this normal for an dog his age? Should we stop bathing him?

Have your veterinarian examine Nick’s coat and skin in order to rule out health problems. The vet may then suggest adding bath oil in Nick’s final rinse. The oil acts as a skin conditioner. Reduced activity of oil-producing glands often causes dry skin and coat matting in elderly dogs.

I’ve heard that breed rescue and adoption groups have dogs to place. How can I find out more about them? I want to adopt a dog.

 

What a wonderful thing that would be! There are far too many unwanted and homeless dogs out there. First, check the Second-Hand Dogs column in the back of Good Dog! We list several groups that recycle different breeds. You can also e-mail or write the Good Dog! office and we’ll check our rescue group directories for you. Other leads: local veterinarians, breed and kennel clubs. They tend to know about dogs in your area who need a new home. They’ll also have some history on the dog. The American Kennel Club (AKC) can provide a list of national breed clubs for each breed you’re interested in. They’ll point you to a nearby breed rescue group. And don’t forget to try your local shelter. Sometimes great purebreds end up there.

Dr. Whaddowedo is our column for information from the American Veterinary Medical Association.