Raising the Woof: Speak Your Dog’s Language, Sort Of

87739557It appears there really is a business idea waiting to happen for just about everything.

When I first got a Shih Tzu puppy, the thought of leaving him alone while I was at work bummed me out – and probably him, too. I turned the radio on in the mornings so he wouldn’t be lonely and even left a message on our answering machine once or twice that first week (something along the lines of “mommy will be home soon!”) Ridiculous or endearing? You decide.

If only there had been a way for him to give me a verbal “paws up” that he was OK.

Now there is.

WÜF, touted as “the world’s smartest dog collar,” offers two-way audio with man’s best friend. The collar sounds pretty cool – it’s waterproof, shockproof and bite-proof. Other features include activity tracking, GPS, feeding recommendations, games and more.

I heard about this device in an Entrepreneur.com story. Here’s an excerpt:

The mutual communication magic happens using a companion app and a microphone-speaker combo embedded in the rugged collar. You’ll receive alerts on a companion app from WÜF whenever your dog is, uh-oh, “barking a lot, crying, whining, growling or whimpering unexpectedly.” And, because it would be torture to listen to all that drooly doggy talk from far away without being able to respond, the app also lets you squawk back.

… the collar monitors your dog’s overall health and activity levels, lets you remotely play with and train your dog using customizable programs and even helps you keep your dog within an invisible “geofence” perimeter around your yard.

Now I don’t have to wonder what my beloved dog does all day – I’ll simply ask him.

Canines and Cubicles

When I was two years old, I met one of the most influential friends I would ever have: a schnauzer-poodle mix named Bogart (a nod to legendary icon Humphrey Bogart). We played, chatted (I did most of the talking) and spent day after day together for the next 14 years.

Dogs have held a special place in my heart ever since. As I arrive home from work in the evenings, my Shih Tzu (bless his furry little face) greets me with a happy howl. I’ve never heard anything like it; I think he’s part wolf. Then he wags his tail and dances on his tiptoes until I pick him up for a hug.

But what if I didn’t have to leave him at home during the day – what if he could join me at work?

According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, dog-friendly workplaces may boost job satisfaction and reduce stress. Now that’s something to howl about!

Check out the story.

Pet Food Company Offering Different Kind of ‘BOGO’

We hear often that humans aren’t the only ones suffering in a recession.

Typically, when families can hardly afford to feed themselves, their furry canine friends are often abandoned or given to rescue organizations or shelters. But the animals still need to eat – and the cost of dog food is one of the biggest expenses for these organizations.

California-based FreeHand™ is trying to fill the gap with a new “buy-one-give-one” food donation program called Pound for pound, scoop for scoop, meal for meal™. For every pound of dog food sold, the company will give an equal amount of food to an Indianapolis rescue organization or shelter. Though the company is out of Los Angeles, animals in Indianapolis will benefit from the donations.

The more products it sells, the more dogs’ lives FreeHand and its partners can save. 

FreeHand Managing Director Tom Bagamane stresses that the donated food stays in the local communities where it is purchased. Affiliated resellers designate recipients from a list of local rescue groups and shelters screened and approved by FreeHand.  Online purchasers may select recipient organizations from a pre-approved list provided at checkout.  Importantly, all recipient organizations must adhere to strict criteria established by FreeHand to ensure the respectful treatment of the animals under their care.

To date, Indianapolis area rescue organizations and shelters that have qualified for FreeHand food donations include: Beagle Buddies, Greyhound Pets, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control and Indy Pit Crew.

“We are proud to announce the introduction of FreeHand dog foods in our clinic,” said Dr. Bill Neumann, DVM and medical director at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness in Indianapolis. “FreeHand has a noble mission that we support wholeheartedly – to provide dog food donations to local rescue groups and shelters. The FreeHand buy-one-give-one concept is great and unique in that donations are given to local organizations as opposed to programs that send donations someplace around the world.”

Find a list of retailers offering FreeHand products by visiting www.LendaFreeHand.com/store-finder, or call (855) GIVEBAK. You can also learn more about the movement on Facebook and Twitter.

These Pets are Living the High Life

I found out something today about pet pampering that has my tongue wagging (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

It seems that the tokens of affection I present to my pets – extra comfy beds, entertaining toys, trips to the groomer and tasty treats – pale in comparison to the way others dote on their animals.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), U.S. pet owners will spend an estimated $50.84 billion in 2011. What in the world are people spending so much money on?

Food expenses top the list at $19.53 billion. Medical care also ranks high. But, pet owners also are dishing out dollars for luxuries such as massages, manicures, designer duds, travel gear and spa days. Hey, I’ve never had a spa day! Not unless you count the time I had my eyebrows arched and for one terrifying moment thought half of one was missing.

Don’t fret, my pet (just bear with me), it’s not all give and take. The APPA cites several health benefits of pet ownership. Among them:

  • Pets help to lower blood pressure. A recent study at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that people with hypertension who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than those who did not own a pet.
  • Pets help to prevent heart disease. Because pets provide people with faithful companionship, research shows they may also provide their owners with greater psychological stability, thus a measure of protection from heart disease.
  • Pets help to fight depression. Pets help fight depression and loneliness, promoting an interest in life. When seniors face adversity or trauma, affection from pets takes on great meaning. Their bonding behavior can foster a sense of security.

Learn more