Here on the review page you will find our views on various dog gear, dog related books I've read, also our thoughts on toys we've tried.

When it comes to the toys remember we are dealing with a very large, very aggressive chewer. His mission is to destroy, he is very successful.

You will see the names of certain company's over and over, we are not subsidized by any companies - these are the products we have chosen for their quality and reputation. And in some cases because they are the only ones that fit or were suitable for 'the beast'.


Dog Gear

Bamboo Quick Control Harness I picked this up on sale because I am always looking for well-made, sturdy dog gear and this looked great. I strongly recommend this harness as I love the way it fits and it has wonderful features. This is a highly adjustable harness that in the right size will fit most dogs. One loop goes around the neck like a collar and the other loop goes around the chest. There are no straps under the front legs (big cheer from Bugsy)! He finds that most harnesses rub the sparsely haired areas under his front legs and he gets rug burn type irritation. One of my favorite features is that the length (from neck loop to chest loop) is adjustable. This is great if like Bugsy your dog has a very large chest but isn't very long in body. The neck loop is too big for Bugsy but not so big that the function is compromised. There is a 'handle' in that neck loop that you can grab if you need to - a nice feature. We love the strong D loop at the top of the chest loop for when we hike on trails with a long lead this positioning keeps the lead from getting underfoot. This harness is one of our favorite items and I would especially recommend this for big, strong dogs.

Ruffwear Cloudchaser Jacket is a superb lightweight, waterproof jacket. It is essentially what humans call a softshell jacket. The fabric is stretchy with a light fleece on the underside, a full length zipper allows full access, making it fairly easy to put on (as long as your dog stands still) and very easy to take off. I have read some reports that the arm bands can cause chafing but we haven't had that problem. Bugsy is hard to fit and this jacket is not a perfect fit but acceptable. Measure your dog carefully and if your dog's chest is on the cusp of two sizes I wouldrecommend the larger size.

Ruffwear Flat Out Leash - what a great leash for people that like to go out and about with their dogs. It's a very nice quality basic leash with one extra special feature.......the loop for your hand is adjustable and also has a clip/buckle (similar to those on adjustable nylon collars) which means this leash can be used in a standard manner or looped around your waist or latched to a post or tree when you stop for lunch on your hike. It is not to be used as a tie out!! Many of you have dogs that are a dream to walk - Bugsy is not like that despite years of work. I cannot tell you how joyous it makes me to clip this leash around my waist and have a hands free walk. My shoulders, hands, wrists all thank you Ruffwear. If I run with Bugs he is right at my side and on brisk walks too. In fact this clipped to my Quick Control Harness is a dream! It also has what it calls a Traffic handle which is a loop down by where it clips to your dog so you can grab them and hold them close. Great, well thought out multi-function leash!

Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash another great product by Ruffwear. My husband's favorite leash. We, of course, have the large version which is made of 10mm climbing rope has a cushy handle for the human and has a locking carabineer to clip to your dog. Has a great rugged feel to it. The leash material has reflective trim so we use this one for those early morning and evening walks!

Ruffwear Webmaster Harness this harness was developed for use by search and rescue teams and the features that are built in offer some great safety aspects and increase its versatility. The fitting system is good in that it gives plenty of clearance for your dog's legs to be active and has good adjustability for fit. Some harnesses we tried wound up cutting him under his 'arms', likely only an issue for very short haired dogs but one that eliminates a lot of gear for us. It is lightweight so not too hot, not cumbersome, and has this great handle on the top which is a superb feature. Although I never thought we'd need to use it, we did last summer when Bugs decided to follow me as I tried to find a safe place to cross a river. He wound up slipping on the mossy rocks and got stuck between some. We had to lift him up and out of the spot. Without the harness it would have been an awful struggle to get him up and out. One downside is that the jump from size to size is quite big. We have the large in this and it is slightly too long in the body and the cinch around his waist cannot be tight enough so we do get some sliding with it. His chest is huge so using the medium wouldn't work for the harness. Our most frequent use of this harness is for biking. It is awesome as it allows full range of motion, isn't hot, and is very comfortable for him.

Ruffwear Approach Pack This pack is based on the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness and adds panniers to allow space for carrying provisions. Our provisions tend to be the toys we need for training, water and treats. Sometimes we use it to make deliveries around the neighborhood especially at the holidays when we deliver all the cards to our friends in the neighborhood. Having a working soul Bugsy loves his pack, no matter what we put in it. From the first day he wore it he walked with a mission. Getting the right size for this is essential as you don't want your dog to carry a load too far down their back. You want the weight nearer to their shoulders and over their upper chest. Because of this we had to get a Medium because the Large would have been too far down his back. Unfortunately the Medium had no chance of getting around his chest so I took an old leash and cut out and 8 inch section and had a tailor insert that length into the front strap. Wala a pack that fits properly. My advice is to err on the small size. The panniers are plenty large enough for carrying 'provisions'. Remember to work at getting your dog accustomed to carrying a pack (stuff it with light things so they get used to the extra width) and slowly add weight. I believe no dog should carry more than 25% of their weight for any length of time. 10% is more reasonable for most pooches.

Toys

Original Kong Most everyone with a dog knows what a Kong is, if you don't Google it and then buy one! Kong now makes them in a variety of 'toughness' from Puppy and Senior to the Extreme black. I believe they come in 5 or more sizes - one for every dog! These toys are made of varied types of rubber and you put food inside them and your dog works to get the food out. We tend to put hard things in that are larger than the opening, some people will put their dog's complete meal in it and freeze it, and others put something like peanut butter in it that the dog then licks out. Kong makes specific treats both crunchy and soft that you can use too. Please remember to count the calories of what you put in there as part of your dog's food for the day. Keep your dog healthy and lean please!

Booda Quirkie Bone this is an all-time favorite. Not entirely sure why it is the rubber bone of choice but it is by a long shot. It is a heavy red rubber with a noisemaker embedded in the center. The noisemaker slides up and down emitting a very weird, pseudo duck noise. Bugsy breaks the noisemaker as soon as he has possession of the bone, this is no easy task so I would not think that more than 5% of dogs would be able to do this, but if they do, in time some of the plastic pieces could come out of the bone. They only do for us when he takes off large sections of one of the ends of the bone. These bones last us a long time (for him), we just replaced one that he had for about 6 months and that is under normal circumstances the average duration. He chews when he is anxious so sometimes if it succumbs more quickly. Bottom line is this is a favorite and one that we NEED to have, as it is a security blanket for him. It is quite heavy so definitely for larger dogs and great for chewers.

Orbee Bone didn't have a fair fight - it states it is not their toughest toy and it sure isn't. It was very much liked, perhaps too much liked. It was in pieces within about 10 minutes and completely destroyed within 30 minutes. The material is quite soft, bouncy and slightly minty. He really loved it and it might be a great chew toy for your dog if they aren't determined to destroy it or aren't a ridiculously powerful chewer. Because of the bounciness it would be a fun fetch toy too.

Orbee Ball I will admit that I was skeptical about this ball and felt it was kind of expensive for a rubber ball. But it really is a hit. Bugsy is not terribly interested in fetch but we have had some rousing games of fetch outside with it and had some very silly inside games with it. He did chew some sections of landmass off but otherwise he hasn't really damaged it. We use this ball as a treat ball which started one day when he was driving me crazy and I decided to jam a freeze dried beef liver cube in the hole. I was convinced this would be impossible to get out. Well it isn't but it does take a little doing. Sometimes I put some of his kibble in the hole and then stick the liver cube in, now that is fun! It has lasted well and makes a great treat ball, which makes it worth the $$.

Cuz toys are rubber squeak toys that your dog will love. You however may not. You may ask me why - well they are very, very loud and extremely durable. We have had Good Cuz and Bad Cuz,they are basically a rubber ball with a squeaker, both have feet, well until they spend one minute with Bugs, and the Bad Cuz has ears (also quickly removed). Amazingly though, he doesn't kill this toy. We do limit his access due to the noise but after MUCH play all of his Cuz's remain 'alive'. This is no small feat. We play fetch with them, he plays on his own with them, we can roll them around the house for him. Fun toy. Dogs love them. Great value for money - very, VERY loud!

Westpaw Hurley This is a bone-like toy made of something called Zogoflex which to me is a type of rubber. Bugsy can be a bit obsessive at times and one of his obsessions is to never greet anyone empty-mouthed. So when he hears a car approach or someome arrives he frantically looks around and grabs a toy/shoe/kitchen towel/magazine (anything at hand) 99% of the time one of the things (usually he brings you two) in his mouth is his Hurley. This bone is great for playing tug with as well as just settling in to a nice chew. I believe it floats but we haven't tried that feature.

ABO Wool Bone stuffed toy I got a deal on a few ABO toys and thought we'd give them a try, first up was the wool stuffed bone. It felt kind of nice and like all soft toys he took an immediate liking to it. Unfortunately this also led to a near immediate destruction. He got a piece of the wool off quickly and then the real fun began. These toys are stuffed with the fiber of coconut, you know the shredded stuff on the outside. This sounded good as a theory but in practice this was very messy. Quite funny to watch him try to pull each strand out and taste it to make sure it wasn't something he wanted to eat. But it became less funny when he pull it out in huge chunks. This would be a great toy for a dog that loves soft toys but doesn't have an urgent need to destuff them. The wool is quite substantial and the coconut fiber isn't easy to remove. I have said this before but Bugsy is harder on toys than any other dog I know. He needs to kill them and he does. For him this toy was a brief diversion from looking for trouble in other ways so it did do its job.

ABO Jute Shaker Also part of the ABO haul. Now this thing is tough. I would think it would last forever with a normal dog as it took some pretty serious determined chewing to get a chunk of the jute off. When he did it kind of looked like a small mouse, beware! Basically it is a long thin toy sort of bumper shaped. Inside the 8 layers of jute is a bamboo stick that is filled with beans. You can hear the beans rattle when your dog shakes it although it really isn't a very exciting noise maker. Nevermind Bugsy was quite content to use it as a chew toy. And even in this capacity it is good as the jute is smelly which pleased him and difficult to open up. Once he destroys the jute enough I am confident he will pull the bamboo stick out as that was definitely what he was attempting right from the start. I am curious to see how the beans are contained so I will report on that when it happens. Overall probably a decent retrieving toy for a large dog and also a potential chew toy for 'normal' chewers. I ahve heard reports that some dogs don't like the smell or taste of the jute - that was not our experience.

Treats, chews, and food

Lucky Buck Antlers I was skeptical of how interesting an antler could be as a chew, more so after I bought one and it had no discernable smell (to humans anyway) and was rock hard, literally. But no worries as soon as I gave it to him he started chewing on it. It became his go to chew, very useful for calming his anxiety and keeping him occupied when we have company. Even more amazing despite his ability to power chew and obsessive chewing it last for months. They come in various sizes (we use jumbo) and are not particularly cheap. There is also major variances in the shape and size even within a size category so IMHO it is important to select one yourself. The last one I bought I was amazed at how small some of the 'jumbo' pieces were and also the variance in densities of the specimens. Because Bugsy is such a strong chewer and has such a large mouth he needs a long, thick, high density piece for maximum safety. You may actually prefer a softer piece for your dog dependent on their chew strength and intensity. I have not tried other brands of antler chews so I cannot speak for their sizing methods or samples. As a natural product I feel it is expected to have the variances and personally I would only buy an antler that I could see in person prior to purchasing. If you have an obsessive chewer I recommend antlers. No large pieces have come off he just gnaws at it, it lasts a long time and is not messy or smelly. That means the humans and the dogs are happy!

Smokehouse Beef Munchies Bugsy doesn't get many treats and the ones he does need to be capable of being put into a treat dispenser (Kong, Orbee, Everlasting Fun Ball, or any other rubber type toy we own). Add his allergies to my aversion to junk food and we came up with these and they are a house favorite. They are made in the US and are dried beef lungs which look like waffles. They vary in size and thickness but generally they are 3/4-1" thick and a large enough size that I cut them into chunks to wedge into a 'treat dispenser'. It is a high protein natural treat. What more can I say?

Orjen Fresh Fish Bugsy has terrible allergies to chicken, turkey and egg which has made our quest for food very difficult. I have also discovered that he does better on a high protein food and having tried this food sometime in 2008 we really haven't looked back. It will be easiest to read about it on their website, it is made from human grade ingredients, protein is 40%, 460 kcal/cup and he is doing super on it. His coat gleams, he eats less of this than anything else we have tried and apparently it is yummy! Without the presence of allergies I would happily feed any of their formulas. It isn't cheap but he has been so very healthy on it and eats less it feels like money well spent.

Books

The Other End of the Leash - Patricia McConnell

Gear
Quick Control Harness Ruffwear Cloudchaser Jacket
Ruffwear Flatout Leash

Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash

Ruffwear Webmaster Harness Ruffwear Approach Pack
Toys
Original Kong Toy Booda Quirkie Bone
Orbee Bone Orbee Ball
Cuz toyWestpaw Hurley
ABO Jute Shaker ABO Wool Bone stuffed toy
Treats/Food
Lucky Buck AntlersSmokehouseBeef Munchies
Orjen Fresh Fish
Books
The Other End of the Leash