“Shopping at the Pet Expo” Article from The Sun Staff Writer Diana Sholley

Posted On: 05-02-2011

Diana Sholley, Staff Writer

Posted: 04/23/2011 06:20:01 PM PDT

Some of my favorite work assignments center around animals.

I like nothing better than to take notes with a purring kitty in my arms or a dog’s soft head resting on my lap.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend America’s Family Pet Expo at the Orange County Fair Grounds.

My husband Dan went with me, which I thought was strange since he hates shopping – especially when there’s a lot of walking involved.

Dan said he had that afternoon off and just wanted to spend some time together, but our son Scott clued me in, “Dad wants to make sure you don’t bring home another dog.”

Now that sounds like the husband I know, and who – darn it – knows me.

It was a beautiful day in the OC and we saw tons of cute collars, leashes, beds, carriers, bows, handkerchiefs, fashion “pet” clothing and accessories and, though those were fun to see, there were a couple of unique products I just have to share:

Petometer,www.petometers.com; $15.99 plus tax: When we first passed this bone-shaped charm with the LED read-out, I thought it was a fancy-schmancy ID tag, but no. It’s a pedometer for your dog. I was intrigued.

The salesman was touting it as a great way to see how much exercise your pet gets when you’re not at home.

He also said it tracks the pets steps and length of time when out for a walk.

“Studies show it motivates pet owners to exercise,” the young man said.

I thought, what a great idea – to have my dog wear the petometer/pedometer instead of me. Now, if I could just get him to carry my water bottle and pick up after himself.

For fear of discovering how few steps I and my dogs were actually taking, I wasn’t buying. However, the woman next to me was.

I asked her if she walked her dog regularly.

“I don’t walk my dog at all,” she answered, with a bite in her voice. “I have a dog walker and I have a feeling my dog’s not getting the hour I’m paying for. But I’ll know soon.”

Yikes!

PupLighttm,www.puplight.com; $19.95: In silver, blue, red or black, this small, bright LED-lit flashlight – about 1-inch-by-1-inch – hangs from a collar (included) around the dog’s neck. It’s separate from the collar used for the dog’s leash and has a “furguard” to keep long-haired dog’s fur away from the beam.

The tough, water-resistant unit runs on three AAA batteries and shines several yards ahead of the dog. Seems like with a little tweaking it could be good for kids and teens – who should never be left alone in the dark.

Swheat Scoop,www.swheatscoop.com; around $11 for a 14-pound bag: This was hands-down my favorite find – I only hope it stays that way after I use it.

In original or multi-cat form, this is a green-clean, clumping, flushable cat litter made from wheat.

Anyone who has cats knows the unpleasantness of litter – and that’s before the cats add their personal DNA to it.

Then when they’re done, the clay trapped between their paws is tracked all over the floor.

Even though we use one of those automated cat-box systems, when Dan pours litter into the main container – whoosh, clay dust in his face.

The Swheat Scoop’s display was a litter box filled with the natural substance. Dan scrunched his face when I dug my hands into it – though it was clean. At least I hope it was.

The sales pitch included such facts as that this is a faster, firmer-clumping litter with outstanding deodorizing power and it’s free of clay, chemicals, fragrance and dust.

I try and be green when I can so it was a plus that Swheat Scoop is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable – made from wheat grown right here in the U.S.

Stop! Quiet! Off!,villagedogwalkers.squarespace.com; $9.99: Being “one of those” pet parents who thinks everything my dog does is cute, I wasn’t really in the market for anything behavior modification-wise.

However, when I saw this spray bottle with the words, STOP! QUIET! OFF!, I stopped to see what it was about.

The inventor was there to explain that the non-toxic formula is made from all natural ingredients to stop a dog’s unwanted behavior such as barking, jumping and stealing food off the counter.

“Dogs hate the smell,” she said. “And they immediately stop the behavior.”

Of course, being non-toxic and with a name like STOP! QUIET! OFF!, I was wondering if it could also work on husbands?

For $10 I was taking a chance. I paid the lady and threw it in my tote bag.

After three hours of exploring the show we were done. Halfway home the car started to reek as if something died. I looked under my seat, in the center console, and over my shoulder into the back. Nothing. As I went to grab for my notebook my hand came up gooey. The spray had leaked. She was right – the smell was almost unbearable. We rode home with the windows down.

Once home I ran into the kitchen, dropped my bag on our tiled entryway floor and went to the sink to wash my hands.

Once properly washed, dried and sanitized I went after my bag to sort out what was salvageable.

One problem. My dog’s butt was sticking out of the bag as he examined the contents, apparently attracted by the smell.

On the other hand, Dan wouldn’t come in the house.

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