Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review Day

     Hey, y'all! It's review day again! But before that, a random picture of this weird thing I do with my ears sometimes:
Pic's dark and grainy, but I put my ear on the top of my head. Mom's never seen me do it, and has no idea why I do that! Any of y'all do the same?


     First up we have Arja's Art, a company that makes beautifully crafted, incredibly soft nappa (reindeer, to be specific) leather dog, cat and rabbit harnesses, as well as collars (quick release buckle and martingale), leashes and adorable change purses for peeps, too. Here's a bit about Arja's company:


n the past I was Computer professional, but because of an accident with a horse, I partly paralyzed in 1992. I'm not paralyzed anymore, but recovering was long, it took almost two years, and I couldn't continue in my profession anymore. While recovering, I got a dog which was became "the dog of my life". Precious female German Shepherd, who didn't trust people anymore. Her previous owner had beaten her badly, so she had several injuries in her back and hips. Her breeder taken her back from this cruel owner and searched her a new home and that's how she became my dog. I also had two other dogs then in the same time. I have had dogs nearly all my life: German Shepherds since 1971 and Rough Collies since 1985.
She hated people but we have special bond from the very beginning and we were inseparable until she died of liver cancer. I had the honor to keep her 6,5 years. I have lived with GSDs since 1971, but that one dog really was "only once in the lifetime" –dog. We loved each other at the first sight. When I picked her and opened car door, she go immediately in. For some reason, she trusted me. And although she didn't trust other people, she wasn't dangerous to anyone when she was with me, because she trusted me - she never questioned my decisions.
Anyway, vet said that she can't use any type of collars because her back was so badly injured that any extra muscle tension could cause more damages, so I had no choice than design harness for her.
And this is how I made my first harness to that special GSD girl in 1994. I made few different types and we tested them, but this basic harness turned out to be the best to her neck, back and hips. And I also got hands-on guidance from that vet and few other vetenarians. They taught me all I need to know about dogs and differencies between breeds and their muscles and joints, when I make harness.
My beloved GSD and I were quite well-known here in Finland the in 90's, all the TV channels and newspapers told our story then. Because of that, even today almost all the "old" dog owners know me here. But all the younger's don't even have thought that once there was a time when dog harness didn't even exist. Except of course, police or guide dogs harness.

I designed those harness for my dear dog, and without her, I would never have begun to make harnesses. So, with her, I got a new profession and new life.
Nowadays many companies all over the world have more or less copied my harness. Big companies can make them to mass market but I can't. So I concentrate on making them for individual measures. Also my cat harness has won all the test here in Finland and are quite popular even in USA. But because I make them all by my hand and myself, huge mass-selling isn't possible - although I have some dealers here in Finland. Fortunately many American cat and dog owners know, that they can order them direct from me so I have sent several harnesses to US in these years. And of all the US states, I have sent most to Florida, because there live a lot of Finnish people. :)
I mostly use Finnish reindeer leather. Reindeers are pasturing among the fells in Lapland, in the North of Finland. They are bred essentially because of the value of their meat. So reindeer leather is genuine bi-products of the Lappish slaughterhouses. This leather is luxurious soft and don't cause skin problems for dogs or doesn't harm even a long coat. That's why our "dog-show dogs" like to use them. Sometimes I use also sheepskin, if reindeer leather isn't available. I've learned making things from leather even as a child, because my parents made leather products as an entrepreneur.

I have not recovered completely from the loss of that dog ("Malla" was her name and she is on my facebook cover photo) - even it happened 12 years ago. She was really dog of my life. She died next to my bed early in the morning. She woke me up and said goodbye to me… It was very touching farewell. I'll never forget it. The vet's plan was to operate her on the next day. But as we know now, it would not have helped. We knew that she had a liver cancer, but we didn't know then, that all her liver was already destroyed. 
Cancer is hazardous.Fortunately I had also two other dogs and two cats then, so they helped me surviving my grief. 


    Arja, who's a such a sweetheart, sent me a harness, quick release collar, chain martingale and leash to review. She even sent a change purse for Mom! DM: I was so happy to get that! I've never gotten something specifically for me before for review. All of them in a beautiful shade of pink called "Cerise Pink".
The harnesses come in lots of colors, as you can see here:



     I really like everything Arja made me. The leather is literally the softest, most supple leather I've ever felt. Everything was very well made, fit well, and looked great on. Arja tailors each harness to your dog's specific measurements, and is great to work with.

     Really the only draw back of these harnesses is that the strap that goes across the front of the chest isn't adjustable, so it gaped a little bit on me even though the girth strap was tightened correctly. Consequently, it slide around a little.
I'm a little on the chunky side here.


I have this really loose flap of skin (typical of Dachshunds and totally normal so long as it doesn't hang, which it doesn't) that harnesses always push forward, BOL.













PROS:
Beautiful
So soft
Lots of choices
Awesome customer service
Durable
Fair prices
Custom made
Easy on/easy off

CONS:
Chest doesn't adjust
Slips around some

     I give Arja's Art 4/5 stars.


     Next we have Spoiled Dog Leather, makers of pretty leather collars, leashes and ID tags. They offer many designs, so there's a style for everyone! They offer 4 standard sizes, but if your dog doesn't fit into them they make custom orders. Here's a little about them:

Between working with pets and promoting the art of leather work, I could not be happier to make these hand crafted collars for you.  At Spoiled Dog Leather we give you the ability to completely customize your collar so it matches you and your dog's style.  Our collars are made to order using the best leather and hardware available to make these last a lifetime.


     I was sent their "Star Burst" collar to review. It's black latigo leather, 3/4" wide, silver hardware with dark blue, light blue and clear crystals. I liked the bling, that's for sure! It seems very well made, but sadly I couldn't wear it much because it's just too big! It's for a 11-14" neck, and since my neck is a hair under 11" I had 4" of extra collar sticking out and covering part of the collar.



Too long.






PROS:
Lots of choices
Good customer service
Prices are inline with similar products
Custom options available
Pretty

CONS:
Only two widths (3/4" and 1")
Only 4 standard sizes

     4/5 stars.



     Now we have Petflow's Spoiled Rotten monthly subscription boxes. They offer both a dog option and a cat option, and the boxes are $24.99 a month.

     I've gotten three or four subscription boxes, and the Spoiled Rotten was by far my favorite! It included 5 things: 2 bags of treats, 1 smoked pork bone (HUGE drawback for us, since these types of bones aren't safe), a bone shaped lint roller, and one of my favorite types of toys ever, Skineez!



OMD MY FAVORITE TOYS!!!!!






DM: These are the best tug toys.


Not sure if you can tell, but I have it in my mouth. I slept with it and even carried it out to potty!


PROS:
Every edible thing included is always USA made
Awesome toy
Great treats
Cute thing for the peeps
Cute wrapping paper
Super fun!
One of the cheaper boxes available
Free shipping

CONS:
Cooked bones. BIG con for us. I'd like to see the bone replaced with a toy
No customizing available (that I saw)

     4/5 stars.


    Next is another subscription box called Happy Dog Box. You can customize this box a bit by entering your dog's size and age, which is nice. My box came with 3 bags of treats, all natural and USA made, a bully stick, poop bags and a neat toy.
If you go to their site (link above), they're offering free boxes! All you have to do is pay S&H (there's always a catch, isn't there?).









How freaking cute are these?!


PROS:
USA treats
A good amount of stuff
Cute package filling stuff
Fairly durable (and very fun) toy
Fun

CONS:
Bit pricey if you do it monthly
I'd like to see one of the treats replaced with a toy

     4/5 stars.


     And lastly we have Miss Flo, an Etsy shop that makes easy on/easy off harnesses and leashes. I was sent a harness in turquoise with sea green velvet padding.
The harness is, like I said, an easy on/off design. It goes over the head and buckles around the chest. All the straps are padding in a very soft velvety material so it doesn't rub. It has a handle and a floating D ring at the back.





Gapes.

PROS:
Comfortable
Easy on/off
Padded
Cool colors
Good customer service
Doesn't sit right behind the elbows unlike a lot of similar styles
Easy to adjust

CONS:
Strap across the chest doesn't adjust, so it gaped on me
Really, really expensive
 
     3.5/5 stars.

Kisses and Tail Wags,
Dachshund Nola

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful stuff there. I especially love the first company
    Dina

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  2. ♥♥LOVE ♥ your new header!!! Very artsy pharrrrtsy.
    Nice reviews... We have that lack of CHEST thingy too... BOL

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  3. Wow, what great stuff. We are looking for a better harness, have to check those out.

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  4. The harnesses are pretty and the treats looked great! Lee and Phod

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  5. We like the starburst collar (although you don't need anymore collars, BOL) and of course the box full of treats - woo-hoo!
    Dip Bridge and Elliot x

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  6. I'm like you, pretty picky about what I give Blueberry too. I guess you could say I buy her her own treat box monthly anyway when I hit at least 2 different stores for her treats and Nylabones! :)

    Nice harnesses though! Love the story behind the first harness you reviewed!

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  7. Nice stuff, Nola! So, tell us, how many collars do you have? :)

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  8. Oh wow!! Thanks for the info on that box! We may try it!!

    Mason

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  9. Franny does this thing with her ears where they flop over twice, so she looks like Princess Leigha on Star Wars. I have to get a pic of that.

    Do u know of a treat that is about 6 to 8 inches long and looks like a nest of skinny rawhide strips? I only found it once and have never seen it again, but it lasts forever with Daxhshunds. I didn't remember what store I found it in. Would love to get it again!

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  10. Holy woof, Nola! When you and mom do reviews, you DO REVIEWS! I don't even know where to start with all these!
    But I do have a question! Can you tell me what material the collar in the 6th and 9th pictures is made of? Austin is sensitive to nylon, so we're always looking for collars that are made of different materials. We don't go through a lot of collars around here... no collar addiction like your mom ;), but we do like to have options. Also, I loved Arja's touching story of how she got started in her work.
    We still haven't tried any subscription boxes. I don't mind being spendy for the wiens, but for whatever money I spend, I want to be able to choose exactly what I'm getting. No surprises. With the subscription boxes, you're (almost) always going to get something that you can't/won't use.

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  11. Ooooh, we love the Monster Mouth toys! Mom just bought us another one she found on clearance! $10 for the large one! We were all excited about that!

    Also, Mom just saw those Earth poo bags at the pet store today and thought about buying them. Do you use "normal" waste bags or "green" ones usually? (We've used both but don't use a ton of either.)

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  12. What a coincidence! I've been in the Woofables store... they're Iowan!

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Thank you for commenting!