Monday, August 24, 2009

The Huck has Hounds Howling with Happiness!!!

How many tennis balls have you bought over the lifetime of your retriever? I, for one, was buying my tennis balls in bulk at Costco. I have no idea over the last 11 years how much money I have spent on the yellow furry balls, but its probably enough to purchase a sporting goods store of my own. Unfortunately, tennis balls are not the most durable dog toy ever invented. And as I learned from my veterinarian, chewing on tennis balls is not good for a dog's teeth as the yellow furry stuff actually acts like sand paper causing grooves in the dog's teeth that can trap bacteria and actually wear down the tooth enamel and the tooth itself.

So I set out on a quest and searched high and low for the perfect ball for a retriever. One that would last a long time, resist destruction and float. I discovered the Huck ball designed by West Paw products in a local pet store. We have had the Huck ball for over three years and as long as we don't lose it, I don't think we'll ever need another ball. Its made from an extremely durable one of a kind eco friendly material and comes with a one time replacement guarantee against doggy destruction.

Other unique features of the ball include grooves in its design causing it to bounce unpredictably. The grooves also allow the dog with a smaller mouth to grab it in just the right spot. The other cool feature of the Huck ball is that although its made of heavy duty material, the ball totally floats. It makes a great water retrieving toy as well. Our dog Rio knows its "her" ball and has no desire to touch a tennis ball.

It also comes in two sizes, large which I purchased for my Lab, and small. The smaller size is nearly the same size as a tennis ball and according to the company "is compatible with toys that throw tennis balls". Although the Huck costs about $8.50 for the small ball and $12.50 for the larger version, the money I am saving by not buying tennis balls has paid for the Huck over and over.

Reviews of the ball on the company's website while mostly favorable, did occasionally contain a negative comment that the ball was not suitable for super aggressive chewers. However, I've not experienced any problems with the ball even when it was given to a nine month old Lab puppy. Of course, it is always recommended to not leave your pet unattended with any toy, and the Huck is no different.

Should you decide to transition your dog from tennis balls to the Huck, I recommend picking up all tennis balls and allowing your dog no choice but to play with the Huck. Shortly, he should begin chasing the Huck like its the only ball he's ever known. And you will never have to buy another tennis ball again.

West Paw design also carries other toys for dogs and cats as well as dog beds and blankets. They use only high quality non-toxic environmentally friendly materials and manufacture their products right in the USA in Bozeman, Montana. Their mission is to provide high quality durable products for your pet while making as little environmental impact as possible. To check out their other cool stuff and learn more about the company, visit their website:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot Dogs Keep Cool in Canine Cool Vests

So, here we are again... Another summer day, another 100 degrees. Will it ever end? And what about your dogs? Are they wondering if there will ever be another opportunity to go for a walk or chase a ball? I've tried explaining the dangers of heat stroke to my pups. I've told them that they cannot sweat except through their footpads and nose. And that the only other way they can cool themselves is through panting. Sometimes (like during current weather conditions) this is not enough to keep their bodies cool. If their internal body temperature reaches 106 degrees, they will experience damage to the body's cellular structure and damage to their organs that is IRREVERSIBLE. According to About.Com:Dog, signs of heat stroke are extreme heavy panting, dark red gums, tacky or sticky mucous membranes specific to the gums, heavy thick saliva, rectal body temperature exceeding 104 degrees (106 degrees is a dire emergency), lying down with refusal to get up, disorientation, dizziness and collapse and loss of consciousness. This is a serious medical condition that can lead to death and requires the immediate attention of your veterinarian. For more information go to:

But the pleading look in the eyes of my dogs doesn't change. They don't understand what I am telling them or why. They really, really want some exercise. One solution may be for them to wear a canine cooling vest. Invented for military dogs working in Iraq and Afghanistan, the vests are also available for purchase for companion animals. How do they work? The vest sold by uses packs of non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, environmentally friendly cooling gel that hold a constant temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours in 100 degree heat. These packs are placed in the vest that the dog wears. The packs are also easy to "recharge" simply by submerging the cooling packs in ice water for 20 minutes or placing the packs in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The vests cost from around $99 to $129 depending on the size you need. You can also purchase additional cooling packs, so you always have one set in the refrigerator. Here is the website that carries canine cooling vests and where you can get more information: This is a rescue friendly site where 10-50% of the proceeds of their sales go to rescue groups (unfortunately HOTLR is not one of them).
Another seller of the dog vests uses slightly different technology. They utilize a cool pad that slips into the vest and stays at a constant temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps dogs cool in warm temperatures and warm in cold temperatures. While 80 degrees seems warm, keep in mind that a dog's average body temperature is around 100 degrees and the 20 degree difference that the cool pad provides is enough to keep the dog's core body temperature at a safe level. Recharging the cooling pad works the same as for the packs described above. You can find these vests at They are slightly more expensive running anywhere from $129 to $149 depending on the size ordered.
So, get back outside and give the canine cooling vest a try. (You can even buy a cooling vest for yourself) . Remember to limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings when the intensity of the temperature and sun is less. And of course, keep plenty of water available.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Evening of Giving, Texas Style

Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue
is thrilled to present

An Evening of Giving, Texas Style

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue is proud to invite you to a special event called An Evening of Giving, Texas Style on November 7th from 5pm-9pm at the historic Fairmount Hotel in San Antonio.

Sample Exotic Wines, wild Root Beer, Delightful Beer, wonderful Iced Tea and snack on amazing delectables. Tickets are $25 at the door. Amazing room rates at The Fairmount are available for those who want to spend the night. Details on all this and more can be found by reading on.

Oh and did we mention that each ticket gets you a wonderful Wine Glass emblazoned with the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue logo?

The Fairmount:

If you have never heard of The Fairmount, built in 1906, it is the world's largest brick building ever moved from one location to another. Its architectural style is reminiscent of the Victorian era and all 37 rooms in the hotel have been recently redecorated, each unique in their design.

Equally unique is the hotel's official greeter Labrador Luke. A rescue dog himself, Luke now boasts his own business card, email address, and comfy bed in the middle of the hotel lobby and is actually a permanent resident of the hotel. The timing of the event is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cooler weather and the early evening hours make it convenient for attendees from Austin, Houston, San Antonio and other central Texas areas to attend. If you'd like to extend your stay at The Fairmount after the event, they have graciously provided a special room rate package (see details at the bottom of the page).

The Fairmount offers a wonderful courtyard in which to mingle and meet new friends, as well as lots of inside areas with cozy nooks and comfy chairs to simply relax and chat with your friends.

HOTLR will offer a wonderful Apple iPhone as a raffle prizes and you won't want to miss great silent auction items from some of the best artists around, including Sheila Wedegis, Stephen Hamrick, Russel Crewe, and Stephen Huneck. But that's not all. Silent auction items will be offered from a number of Austin and San Antonio businesses, including Austin City Limits and others.

Silent Auction items will need to be paid for with Check, Cash or PayPal (will have computer setup at event)

Sheila Wedegis will also be attending so you can meet one of the premier artists of our time. She is a wonderful person as well as a great painter, and a generous supporter of Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue. Visit her website at to get a taste of her beautiful and moving work.

Sample some great beverages available from companies in Texas, including wineries, breweries, root beer and other products. Tasty cheese and other wonderful snacks will also be available for nibbling. We also want to feature and introduce you to other wonderful items that are available right here in Texas that we hope will become favorites in your own home.

Great sponsors:
Cape Classics Wines -- Wine
Free Tail Brewing -- Beer
Blue Sky Brewery -- Root Beer
Sweet Leaf Tea -- Iced Tea
Cowgirl Granola -- Granola to make you wonder what you have been eating all these year ;)
Whole Foods -- Snacks
Trulucks -- Fine Dining
Scenic Loop Cafe -- Fine Dining

Limited Tickets Available:

This will be an evening that you won't want to miss. But we are only offering a limited number of tickets, so reserve today. Tickets are $25 when purchased ahead of time and $35 at the door. And if you purchase a Fairmount room package it will include two tickets to the event. Each ticket will get you a custom wine glass with the Heart of Texas Lab logo emblazoned on it. So take advantage of the lower ticket price, and sign up today!!!!

For your convenience you can utilize the handy PayPal button on home page, just put in Fairmount in the description so we know.

If you would like to send a check please send it to:
Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, Inc.
P.O. Box 81821
Austin, TX 78708-1821
(also send an email if possible letting us know that you are sending a check so we can have added confirmation)

Special Room Rates:
The Fairmount will have special room packages that include the room (of course), 2 tickets to An Evening of Giving, Texas Style and 2 complimentary breakfasts in the morning. You must contact Lani Fulgencio directly at 877-229-8808 to reserve your room. (The Fairmount is donating a portion of the room rate to Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue, so its important that you contact Lani Fulgencio directly.)

If you have any questions please feel free to send an email to this will go right to Ray Hebert our event coordinator.

So reserve November 7 on your calendar and join us for a wonderful evening of friendship and fun while enjoying wonderful Texas products and donating to a worthwhile cause. Hope to see you there!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pet Pawsengers are Top Dawgs at Pet Airways

How 'bout this heat??? Ready to travel somewhere for relief but don't know what to do with your Lab? Well, now you can take him with you. You may have heard that there is now an airline dedicated to pet "pawsengers". Dan and Alysa Binder found it difficult to travel with their Jack Russell Terrier, Zoe. Too big to fit under the seat in front of them, Zoe would be relegated to the cargo hold in the belly of the plane. Dan and Alysa did not consider their pet "cargo" and decided to do something about their dilemma. That was how Pet Airways was born.

Flying your pet on Pet Airways works much the same way as flying works for humans. First, pets are dropped off at the Pet Lounge. Less than two hours before flight time, your pet is given a potty break. Then your pet boards the plane. The pets transported by Pet Airways always ride in the climate controlled main cabin of the plane and are never stuck in the cargo area. While you cannot travel with your pets on the Pet Airways planes, a pet attendent travels with your pet ensuring his or her safety, security and comfort. All pets travel in carriers which Pet Airways provides and upon arrival, your pet is given another potty break and then waits for you to pick him up in the Pet Lounge. If flights are delayed for any reason, a pet attendent stays with your pet until the flight is ready for take off. Pet Airways maintains that pets are never left alone.

Prices can be as low as $149 and are dependent on the size of crate your pet comfortably fits in as well as the distance your pet will travel. This price compares very favorably with other human airlines. (Check out the price comparison list on the Pet Airways website for more details: Currently, pets can fly to and from the following inaugural cities: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Washington DC/Baltimore area, and New York.

Pet Airways has also partnered with two hotel chains - Kimpton Hotels & LaQuinta- that offer discounts for members of the Pet Airways MyPAWs club. Other benefits of MyPAWs club include discounts at the Pet Airways online store that features products from well known pet companies such as Kong and Nylabone. Sign up for the MyPAWs Club at the Pet Airways website and check out other benefits such as discounted pet insurance and receive the Pet Airways newsletter.

So fret no more about leaving your Lab behind to swelter while you flee the heat. Log on or call Pet Airways and book your travel plans now for a nice relaxing break for the whole family!!! For more information, log on to the Pet Airways website:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Internet Pharmacies - For Better or Worse

Many of us have seen Ms Betty White, long time television actress, discuss the ease of ordering pet medications online. But what are online pet pharmacies, where do they get their medications and the authority to sell the drugs? Are they really cheaper than buying medication at your own veterinarian?

If you choose to begin using an online pharmacy, make sure you research the pharmacy to determine its legitimacy. Also, be prepared to do some paperwork to get your pet's medications. Online pharmacies cannot fill prescriptions without the consent of your pet's veterinarian. In all cases, the veterinarian will have had to seen the pet within at least the last year (and sometimes more frequently depending on the medication) to approve the prescription refill. So, the online pharmacy will have to first contact your veterinarian (or you will have to fax a prescription written by your veterinarian) to fill your prescription. The online pharmacy will then get approval for the prescription, "process" the prescription and then mail it to you. This process could take up to 5 - 7 days or longer. Also, many medications are sensitive to heat. During this time of record breaking heat, having your pet's medication sit around in a mail truck or in your mailbox waiting for you to get home is probably not the best storage option. Obviously, the turnaround time is much quicker if you use your local vet's pharmacy.

If you do receive a medication from an online pharmacy, it is important that you check the packaging of the medication carefully. Some of the medication may not be exactly what you would receive from your vet. Medication purchased online may have been purchased outside of the United States. Make sure to check the expiration date and check the label carefully to ensure that the medication you received is the actual medication and strength prescribed by your vet. Medications ordered from your veterinarian will have a sticker from the FDA that states "Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to be used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian." Make sure that this sticker also appears on the medication received from the online pharmacy.

Many medications that are prescribed by and purchased from your pet's veterinarian are guaranteed by the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. For instance, there have been a small number of cases reported in which dogs that have consistently taken heartworm preventative have come up positive for heartworms when tested. Often in these cases, the company whose heartworm preventative the dog was on at the time will pay for heartworm treatment when the client can provide proof that the dog consistently took the monthly preventative. When your medication is purchased through an online pharmacy this is not the case as many pharmaceutical companies are unable to trace from where the products that the online pharmacy carries are coming and therefore cannot guarantee the authenticity of the product.

Last, a report done by Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB Channel 5 News compared several medications ordered online versus from a veterinarian and found, "in all but one case, the medication purchased from the veterinarian was less expensive." Furthermore, your veterinarian will often pass along incentives and coupons for medications purchased frequently that may not be offered by the online pharmacy. It may be that the use of an online pharmacy can be more expensive than using your local vet pharmacy.

So, before deciding to order medication from an online pharmacy, be sure to investigate the online pharmacy that you wish to use to ensure it is an ethical business, research the medication you will be ordering and make sure it is exactly the same medication prescribed by your veterinarian and make sure that the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the medication will guarantee the medication if it does not perform the way its supposed to for your pet, and finally be sure to do a price comparison to determine if indeed the medication you order after shipping fees, etc. is cheaper than getting it from your local veterinarian pharmacy.

This information was obtained from the brochure entitled Pet Internet Pharmacies - What You Need to Know by Phil Winters Marketing Communications. To view the entire brochure please go to the following link: