April 27, 2010

And The KONG Giveaway Winner Is...

Congratulations Blogger Amanda from Snips And Snails: A Puppy Dog Tale! Hope you and your dogs have as much fun with the KONG toys as we did filming this drawing!

April 26, 2010

Spice Girl

Lesser-known member, the unfortunate Slobber Spice.

April 24, 2010

Crop Circles Explained

Cute, but we're well into Spring, so why am I not posting photos of Ruby among the crocuses? Well, it's our second day of pretty heavy snow here in Colorado, and my dogs insisted that I share the wealth with our friends! I can't say I really share their excitement about this unexpected windfall...snowfall...but it makes them happy, so I'm happy!

By the way, there's still time to enter our Kong Wobbler giveaway! We have the best readers, check out their cute and funny stories!

Update: For our friends in climes where Spring means Spring (we remember!) and who cannot believe we are basking in the white stuff, Ruby sends some postcards...wish you and the doggies were here...

April 22, 2010

Well, She Is A Retriever

Someday, it will be very useful things like credit cards, keys, a wallet, or a phone for her future partner. But right now, we are gifted daily with organic (mostly) detritus that she gleefully discovers and dutifully (mostly) forks over when we tell her to "drop." She's quite the retriever inside the house, too, but since this is a family blog, we'll keep the photographic evidence of her partiality to various and sundry unmentionables to ourselves.

April 19, 2010

Cool Kong Toy Giveaway

When Ruby and I visited the Kong Factory a few weeks ago, we were given a very special gift for a Raising Ruby reader: A GIANT KONG. Pretty cool, right? I defy even the chompiest of dogs to chew through this big boy!

(Ruby and Raiser not included. Unless you really want us, cause we'd LOVE a vacation!)

Ha, just kidding. Actually, Mark at Kong very generously contributed something even cooler, the new Kong Wobbler!

From the Kong website:

The KONG Wobbler is a KONG-shaped food dispensing toy and feeder that provides a new way to entertain and challenge your dog. The Wobbler sits upright until pushed with a dog's paw or nose, then wobbles, spins and rolls, dispensing treats through a KONG-shaped hole near the top. Dogs quickly learn that motion causes treats to fall out, but the unpredictable movement keeps the toy challenging, even for seasoned Wobbler users.

Fun! My dogs could keep themselves entertained for hours with this.

In addition to the Kong Wobbler, I'm including a fresh Kong toy straight from the factory, a tray to hold your Kong upright if you like to fill and freeze them (we do!), and a cute little Kong key chain, so you can have your very own Kong, too!

(Nosy little yellow puppy on the left not included. Probably. Depends on the day.)

To enter, just submit a comment or email letting me know what your dog (or you!) thinks is cool. Maybe it's unstuffing her favorite stuffed toy (Ruby)...or leaping into a stream for a swim (Kiva)...or when you scratch that special spot under her right ear (ahh, that would be me)!

Every entry will be printed out and the winner will be chosen by a scientific method involving pieces of paper, a wet snoot, and what sticks first.

We'll announce the winner next week. Good luck!

April 16, 2010

Welcome, Maya!

Hey, we have a new little niece pup! The Colorado crew welcomes puppy Maya to the family!

Maya is a rescue from Ohio, and when the photos arrived in my inbox, I immediately fell in love – check out those teeny white toes! Here she is with our precious and beloved niece pup, 16-year-old Pepsi. Right up there with my Kiva, Pepsi is the most wonderful, tolerant, and patient dog that ever lived.

Last month when my nephews visited, they learned about clicker training and practiced on Ruby. Now they have their own puppy to train! Maya already knows sit, down, and touch, all clicker trained.

Puppy Friday, everyone. Have a great weekend!

April 11, 2010

Ruby Visits The KONG Factory

Last fall, I attended the Assistance Dogs Int'l Training Conference in Estes Park, CO. During a break, I started talking with the fellow sitting next to me. He was very knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects related to dog training, and when we finally got around to introducing ourselves, I found that he was Mark Hines, Canine Behavior and Training Specialist for the KONG Company. I was completely embarrassed to admit to him that even after all these years of using KONG products, I had not realized that KONG is located in Colorado, practically in my backyard!

As we chatted, I mentioned that I was raising and training my first service puppy (Ruby was still very young and I hadn't brought her to the conference). Mark kindly extended an offer for my service dog in training and me to visit the KONG factory as his guests. I was thrilled at the privilege (KONG is not open for public tours), and after many months of scheduling correspondence, we finally were able to visit. I know Ruby enjoyed it, but not half as much as I did!

It's an impressive facility with all manufacturing done on site.

I was quite curious about the materials and manufacturing process, and Mark gave me a great tour. KONG toys are made of 80% natural rubber, the remainder being strengtheners and fillers, all non-toxic.

When it comes to safety, KONG holds its toys to the same lead standards as children's toys in America. So, if your kid starts chewing on the puppy's KONG, no worries, it's safe! Well, except for the swapping dog spit part. I don't think Ruby's sharing, though.

Bands of rubber are fed into the machine,

then heated at 350° where the rubber melts into liquid and is poured into the mold.

The amount of curing time will vary per toy size, but they're ready in a matter of minutes.

You wouldn't want to touch them, though, they're hot! If you click on the photo below to enlarge, and look very closely, you'll get a hint of the steam rising off the toys like a tray of freshly-baked muffins!

Once cooled, the toys are assembled, trimmed, cleaned, evaluated for quality, and packed, all by hand.

Toys that have simple defects (such as safe, small blemishes) are deemed "seconds" and donated to shelters, zoos, etc. Plus, any rejected toys evaluated to be a possible safety hazard will not be wasted. That product is crumbled into small bits and donated for use as ground cover in children's playgrounds.

The KONG toys we purchase are all first quality. As I passed by the bins, I thought they were really quite beautiful.

Ruby behaved admirably throughout the visit. As you can imagine, there was lots of puppy jubilation; after all, it's like taking Augustus Gloop (or me) to the Wonka Factory! But even amid the noise of a warehouse and processing facility, all the booms, bangs, whizzes, and pops, she remained calm and took it all in stride. Although she did get a little dirty.

Ha, just kidding, that's KONG's mascot, Chomps!

After our tour, Mark gave me a little history on the company. KONG was founded in 1976 by Joe Markham...and by Joe's German Shepherd, a retired police dog named Fritz. One day, at a Volkswagen repair shop, Fritz took great interest in a part from a 1967 Volkswagen van.

Joe saw the gratification his dog derived from the feel of the rubber car part, and as an inventor, he understood the genius in the simplicity. When he brought the part back to his shop, his partner said, "This looks like King Kong's ear plug!" And so a name, and company, were born.

With my interest in dog training, Mark also took the time to share some insight obtained from his amazing background. He works with veterinarians, shelters, trainers of every discipline, certified animal behaviorists, service dog organizations, and explosives and narcotics detection. He speaks at seminars, serves on military and police panels, and trains in explosive detection. He's also a sport dog trainer and handler (Schutzhund) and works in decoy, which he says, has taught him a tremendous amount about the body language between humans and dogs.

With the kind of opportunities he's had, he said he feels like "the luckiest dog trainer in the world" to be involved in such varied efforts to better the bond and relationships we have with our animals. Listening to him speak about his passion for dogs was inspiring.

What a great educational experience for Ruby and me. A million thanks to the friendly KONG family and to Mark Hines, for the invitation and for his kindness, hospitality, and generosity.

P.S. Stay tuned, folks. Mark gave me a special gift for a lucky Raising Ruby reader...details coming up soon!

April 9, 2010

Half Empty Or Half Full?

I'm just a human, so I might see it as half empty. But my dogs show me, time and time again, that with even the tiniest crumb, the bag is overflowing.

It's a good lesson for me; worry less about what isn't and enjoy what is. I'm lucky to have such patient teachers.

Have a great weekend!

April 7, 2010

Guest Post: Raven Helps With A Fundraiser

Dear Sister Ruby-

I just want to share with you my recent adventures training for a potential service dog career. The person that I have on the other end of my leash brings me to a bunch of fundraising events, they are usually pretty interesting and I certainly get a lot of attention (being the handsome boy that I am). I have to say that the most recent one was a bit much. The Boulder County AIDS Project (BCAP) had an event and a local nail salon, 10-20 Salon, donated a portion of their proceeds.

I thought it was going to be a nice quiet time for a nap, eat some bon bons, you get the idea. But no such luck...there were M&Ms dropping on the floor, Diet Coke, and a lot of silliness that challenged my listening skills. I was good with my "DOWN," practiced "LEAVE" a lot, and once I grew accustomed to the smells I stopped sneezing, but I have to tell you...

Glamour can be so tiring.

Here they are, looking pretty good but you notice I have my paws covered...

Keeping myself out of the way...ignore the dog behind the curtain.

See you in class...

Signing off for now,
Raven, The Fashion King

All photos and copy courtesy of Barb...and Raven!

(For our new readers, Raven is Ruby's handsome brother and you can check out some more of his adventures here, here, here, and here.)

April 5, 2010

Chick To Chick

We spent the day with friends on Sunday, and after a great day enjoying the outdoors, they took us to a ranch supply store. It was a cool place all around, but when we turned the corner and Ruby spied these baby chicks (and they spied her), it became the perfect Easter outing!

April 1, 2010

Raising Ruby's Raisers

Psst. Ruby here.

It's time everyone knew. This blog is a hoax.

They want you to BELIEVE they're raising and training me, but trust me, it's the other way around.

You think it's easy? I'm at my leash's end with these two. There isn't enough kibble in Colorado to train them. Want proof? Here are the photos they DON'T show you:

"Here!" I say. Yet, "there" she goes. She totally doesn't get it.

He keeps trying to demonstrate and I keep telling him, "I'M A GIRL."

And by the way, she has the nerve to make fun of my horns? Dude, I have to be SEEN with her. I wish this leash was longer.

I tried to tell her this was the wrong train. We wound up in Wyoming.

If it weren't for me, he'd still be waiting for that Zephyr Express to Chicago.

For the last time. Dostoevsky. I am begging you.

Oh, high-five yourself. And for pete's sake, get off the coffee table.

(Happy April Fools' Day! And for the record, if she'd trade the kibble for Peanut M&Ms, we'd totally behave better! -RR)