What a Dog Wants
It’s been almost a year since our little Schooner came home with us, and it’s been interesting to say the least. As someone who has never had a dog before, I’m not sure I knew what to expect. It’s definitely not easy raising a very energetic little puppy, but he’s also brought us a lot of laughs (and has only mildly ruined two pairs of shoes) and he continues to surprise us everyday.
It takes a village, as they say, and since we’re approaching one year of pet ownership, I thought I would put together a little list of some of Schooner’s (and our) favorite things.
Like Steve, Schooner’s signature color is orange. I know, you assumed it would be red, white and blue right? So did I. You figure a nautically-named dog would have coordinating accessories. But since the day we got him, the orange thing kind of just stuck.
We do try to do some local shopping at Geronimo’s or Cold Noses on Nantucket, we’ve also scored a lot of supplies on Amazon (because you literally can’t live on an island without having a Prime account) or on random Home Goods trips when we’re back in America.
Chuckit! Indoor Ball: Schooner LOVES this ball. One of my favorite things about him is that he clearly has Little Dog Syndrome, where you can tell he thinks he is much bigger than twelve pounds. This ball is a substantial size (almost as big as his head) but it’s made of foam or something, so it’s super lightweight. He just looks so proud of himself when he’s trotting around with it.
Packable Rain Poncho: I know this seems silly, but Schooner has very fluffy hair instead of fur, so when it’s raining (as it often is on Nantucket) he gets soaked. The hood is a bit silly since it doesn’t really stay on his head, but the coat conveniently covers most of his body and it has a hole for the leash to attach to to his harness. It also folds up nicely for travel.
Chuckit! Whistler Balls: Man, what is it about these Chuckit! products? Talk about knowing your audience. These are the perfect size for Schooner’s little mouth, they bounce, and you can get quite a bit of air behind them (and we don’t even have the additional arm throwing thing).
Remote Trainer: I was kind of against using one of these at first (especially when they’re referred to as “shock collars”), but by the nine month mark, I was at my wit’s end. We had been doing really well with training until about his seventh or eighth month, and then all of a sudden, Schooner’s concentration skills went out the window. The final straw for me was when he chased a deer and got lost in the cranberry bog at dusk, resulting in Steve and I running around screaming his name for the scariest half an hour of my life. I thought I was being a horrible dog owner giving in and getting once of these, until I realize how many people that I know that used it themselves. He’s not in it 24/7, mainly when we’re walking off-leash on the trails or going to busy public places. We keep it on a very low level, mostly using the vibration button to break his concentration when he’s about to chase a rabbit or something.
Cesar Millan Book: We have gotten multiple books about raising a puppy, and this one I’ve found to be the most helpful and easy to follow. By no means is our dog perfectly trained, in fact, I’m not even sure you could say he’s decently trained… but the positive things I have learned came from this book. It also introduced us to the lifesaver that is bully sticks, i.e., the only thing that occupies him when we’re eating dinner.
Chewbacca Toy: The day we took Schooner home, Steve ran into Petco to get a few “necessities,” and came out with this. It was his first toy, and he sleeps with it in his crate every night. We’ve had to buy a few of them now, since someone keeps chewing open the foot, but I know it’s his favorite. We actually have a plethora of the Star Wars collection plush toys, including the Death Star (complete with a mini-Vader and Storm Troopers), C3P0 and Han Solo. Unfortunately, all of them have lost a leg or a hand (which is ironic, since there’s no Luke Skywalker) and Chewy is all that remains.
Travel Set: This is probably the thing we’ve used the most, since we travel on and off the island to visit our families whenever we can. I guess it’s technically a dog “hiking” set, but we all know that isn’t happening any time soon. The water bottle is spill proof – the dog can only get the water to come out by licking the spout – and I like traveling with our own bowls. It’s nice not to have to ask your host if you can use one of their dinner bowls to put kibble in.
Leash: We had a plain black $5 leash until very recently (actually, we had two, but Steve lost one on the trail), and it was so thin that Schooner actually chewed through it once in a fit of rage when I made him wait two minutes while I put my shoes on. We just upgraded to this Red Dingo version, which I like because it’s reflective (we live on a dirt road with NO lights) and sturdy.
Natural Treats: We bought the blueberry flavor of these treats at Homegoods and Schooner LOVES them so much, we bought the pumpkin the next time we went back. They’re a little big, so I like to break them up and use them for training, since they take him a while to eat.
Harness: As you can imagine, Schooner’s harness is orange, but for some reason it’s the only color not shown on the Petco website (and it comes in many). This is our second harness, as his original one basically got destroyed in the first six months from his very active lifestyle. I like this one because it has two different spots you can hook the leash on, either closer to the neck (good for when he has a coat on in chilly weather) or at the end of the harness, which is good for us because Schooner is, as you would say, a puller.
Food Dish: We have two of these, one for food and one for water. Ours are a bit different (found at Home Goods, surprise), but these are super similar. I couldn’t believe how boring most of the dog bowls out there are – I mean, they are on display in your kitchen all the time. I like these because they’re funky, but the silver dish comes out easy for cleaning.
I know I’ve already left a few other things off this list, so I’m sure there will be another installment in the future. Am I missing any life-changing products? Has anyone invented some sort of toy that magically makes them quiet for all six hours of award show coverage? Let me know!