26 November 2015

Review: Pawsome - November

Kyra was rather excited to review November Pawsome box, although she did have to share it in the end.

Pawsome boxes are monthly boxes delivered to your door, each containing 5-6 products (toys, treats, accessories or hygiene products). Plans range from one month at £19.90 to 12 months for £15.90 per month.

This months box contained:
  • A dog shaped dog toy
  • A ball
  • A pet blanket
  • Chicken Meatball treats
  • Wagg treats
  • Trixie Grooming wipe 
For previous boxes, have a look at their site.

Kyras first choice was the toy - she loved this

Next up was the blanket. Apparently this is a toy too and she spent quite a while fetching this and running up and down the lounge with this in her mouth. A multipurpose blanket is the best kind of blanket.
The chicken meatballs, whilst not big chews, took some getting through. These proved popular with everyone.

24 November 2015

Portsmouth CaniX

This past weekend we were down at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Portsmouth for a rather cold and blustery CaniX event. I have a rather love-hate relationship with this venue. I love the narrow downhill sections, its rather kamikaze especially with the mix of mud, wet leaves and hidden tree roots. The first section of the course, however, feels almost vertical! Thankfully we tackle this hill when we are fresh and the dogs are most keen but be lying if I didnt say I always feel like I've used up all my energy reserves before I'm anywhere near the top!

We had a fantastic run on Saturday despite the gale force conditions and managed to finish in 27:20, a PB for us on this course and winning a good couple minutes ahead of the next person in our category. Unfortunately my legs, used to the flats of the fens, hadn't quite recovered for Sunday and I seriously struggled up that first hill. I made the mistake of walking and couldn't quite get back into rhythm after that as I seriously felt every uphill, no matter how small. We finished with a much slower time 28:46 in second place and just 2 seconds ahead of the lady who had been in second place the previous day. But that did mean we took home first place overall.


Review: Serene-UM

Over the Halloween & fireworks period we were kindly given some Serene-UM products to try for Inca, Diesel, Pippa and Woody. Inca, D and Pip are the 3 most likely to worry about fireworks, and Woody had yet to experience them.

Serene-UM is a natural dietary supplement containing a specially formulated blend of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and has been recommended by veterinarians to combat tension and stress in pets, without having a sedative effect. It works by increasing the mood stabilizing substance serotonin which is already present in the body. Serene-UM assists by alleviating the underlying emotional state, driving the problem behavior, so that the learned behavior can be corrected through retraining, behavior aids or by a behavior modification program. It is important to stress that Serene-UM does not "cure" the animal of its behavior; the cause of the issue must be identified and addressed accordingly in addition to the supplements. Other examples of use would be for separation related disorders, car journeys, vet trips or unsettling periods such as Christmas, moving house.

The main issue is fireworks do not just occur on Guy Fawkes night, but several weeks surrounding it and randomly outside that time too. The instructions state it starts working in 6-8 hours but for maximum effect allow 24-36. For severe reactions start 3-4 weeks before, and increase the daily amount as required during heavy fireworks periods.

We were supplied with Serene-UM tablets (for cats and dogs 1-20kg), Serene-UM Xtra tablets (for dogs 20-40kg) and Serene-UM drops (for cats and dogs 1-10kg). Supposedly you can feed them as-is but the only one who would take them without anything was Diesel so we ended up hiding them in a small bit of sausage. Woody, despite being a Labrador cat who usually eats anything, wasn't convinced by the drops on her food at first but soon came around.

It is important to know your dog and what works for them. In our case, during the main fireworks period, we have discovered that if we can stop Inca and Diesel (our two collies) barking at them, then generally everyone else stays relaxed. So they are confined to the utility room, where they usually sleep, with "absolute 80s" on loud and the lights on and windows covered. Woody seemed completely unphased by her first experience of fireworks but then she is generally not phased by much. I cant say I noticed a big difference this year compared to other years,  but then there are so many other contributing factors so I wouldn't expect to. However, I will be using the remaining tablets over the new year period; if theres a chance they might feel even just a little bit happier then its certainly worth a try.

Woody, Blaze ad Pip during one episode of fireworks

2 November 2015

Trailscape North Half Marathon

On Saturday we took part in our first Trailscape event, part of the Rail to Trail series, this one being the North event held in Newport Essex. These trail events are designed to be accessible by train, and all within an hour of London. Each event has 3 distances; 10k(ish), Half Marathon(ish) and Marathon(ish). This was the most local one to us, just an hour and 20 minutes drive away.

We signed up for the Half Marathon, and it was Kyras first half. I had thought that a run on Halloween would guarantee cooler weather but the forecast was unseasonably warm, so much so that I spent all week debating if Kyra would run or not. However, they posted photos of the course on facebook and I was reassured she wouldnt be getting too warm. They had water bowls at the checkpoints and half marathoners had mandatory kit to carry (basic first aid, water, energy bars etc) so I took extra just in case.
The course was 13.4 miles of mostly trail with just a few short sections of road and a couple marshalled road crossings. The check points had drinks, sweets and cakes as well as water bowls for the dogs. Each of the 3 distances had a separate start time with the canicross runners setting off 5 minutes after the main field. The timing chips had to be "dibbed in" at the start, checkpoints and finish. Easier said than done when holding on to two dogs raring to go! The other 'interesting' thing was the start/finish included going over a railway bridge complete with steps (and thankfully secure railings which I clung too), and the last few miles had 5 styles to negotiate. The bottoms of which were wired so I ended up picking them up to get them over, and then having to negotiate the style myself with 2 impatient dogs raring to get on and go. We lost a fair amount of time on these, not only getting over each one but also stopping to let people past as I was worried about holding up the regular runners.

We set off a little too fast for my liking and ended up at the first checkpoint, 6 mile, in 53:24. We settled down a bit after that; Kyra enjoyed pouncing from puddle to puddle and I felt like I was mudjoring rather than canicrossing in places. By some miracle I managed to stay on my feet in the mud but I was evidently a bit blazé on the one of the few dry parts as managed to catch my foot on a tree root and ended up saying hello to the floor. We finished the whole thing in 2:12:32 and got a medal, technical t-shirt and a doggy bag for each dog containing their own medal (and a jigsaw piece that fits together with the other medals from the series), some Lilys kitchen treats and food. I absolutely loved this run, though it was hard work. And the muddy, swampy slippy trails were right up Blazes street too.

Review: The Hound Haus’s treat box

We recently received a treat box from The Hound Haus to review.

These can be bought as one off boxes, or subscribed to on a monthly basis. There are several different types of box ranging from Puppy to Gourmet with Lite versions of the adult boxes available too. Your first box includes a poo bag dispenser, and all subsequent boxes contain biodegradable poo bags. If you lose or break the dispenser you just let them know and they'll send another.

In addition, and what makes their boxes unique from other boxes on the market, you can buy/donate "Support Packs" for the homeless/struggling dog owner either as a one off or added to your monthly subscription for £7 a box. They can also be given as a gift too. These packs contain essential items including food, bowls, blankets, leads, worming\flea products as well as goodies like toys & treats. These are distributed by the company on a weekly basis throughout Bristol, the idea being that by supporting people to provide for their dogs it helps the owners and the dogs and therefore reduces the demands on animal shelters. You can read more about this on their site.

In our October box we received a poo bag dispenser, chewy chicken sticks, Pet Munchies Salmon Skin Chews, a ball rope toy, Pooch & Mutt Health and Digestion treats. The box comes packed with Wood Wool which they suggest using as a forage box by hiding some treats inside. And the whole lot is recyclable afterwards too.

According to their website this is their gourmet box which would cost £22.99-£24.99 (including free delivery) depending on your dogs size. I think ours was a large box but I may be mistaken. You can find out what has been in previous boxes on their site.

Our box was intended for Kyra, but Pippa was first to sample its contents and she certainly approved of the Pooch & Mutt treats; they were a perfect size for my 3 year old son to do some tricks with her. All of the dogs had a chewy chicken stick each too, although there was certainly less chewing and more inhaling from most of them. I think its safe to say they approved!

27 October 2015

CaniX Sence Valley

I'm Sence Valley is one of the more local CaniX events to us, and one of my favorite courses as the hill is at the start when the dogs are keen and raring to go, and the only tricky bit is negotiating down the steep gravely switchbacks. Its certainly fast and furious.

This season has seen a few more faces in the 2 dog female class. A couple we have no chance of catching, but there are a couple where it could go either way depending on the race. This means I'm having to put in a little bit more effort in the running part, but its paying off as this weekend saw our 2 fastest times over this course; 20:41 on Saturday and 21:10 on Sunday. The conditions Saturday in particular were suited to Blaze as it was raining, which also meant there were much less public around the lake.

We came home with 2nd place both days, and 2nd place overall.

12 October 2015

Cirencester CaniX

Located at the Cotswold Water Park this CaniX course is flat, fast and furious, especially as its only 3km. It starts by the watersports centre and heads around the outskirts of the two lakes before turning into the finish at the camping field. We had to fight to grab ourselves 2nd place, especially as I had a rather annoying cough. Thankfully it didn't seem to bother me once running. 13:06 was a PB for us on that course.