Editor’s note: Each week at Staff Favorites, we give our opinions on the best Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities, and more. (We’ll also let you in to some hidden gems.)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that one in five households has brought a dog or cat home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Count me among the newly bred puppy parents whose lives are now filled with heart-warming love and endless chaos, and whose camera is filled with pictures of “babies”.
In April, my husband and I adopted Ambassador Woodford Longfellow, aka Woody, because he is a Basset and Labrador mix. It is the very long body and large paws that give it a unique look. (Shout out to the Second Chance Humane Society in Ridgway, where we found him.)
This is my first time raising a puppy and damn it if that wasn’t hard work. Here are four items that make my life a little easier, from fashion to job, plus my favorite local place to shop for food and more.
Colorado style made
Let’s start with fashion. The Rocky Mountain Hound is a dog accessory company based on the Western Slope that I discovered at the Ridgway Farmers Market. One look at their handkerchief, which slips onto a dog’s collar instead of tying it around the animal’s neck, and I’m sold. Even better, it’s reversible with patterns on both sides. I also couldn’t resist buying a similarly designed bow tie ($8), which Woody wears on special occasions.
The Rocky Mountain Hound sells other accessories like collars, leashes, candy, and foot balm, as well as a selection of holiday themes, so you can decorate your dogs this season.
Bungee leash and cute leader
Woody is 52 pounds of pure muscle and consistently energetic – a combination that has resulted in more than my fair share of bruising. One of the worst things came when he was a retractable leash and tried to chase something, twisting my leg painfully in the process.
That’s when we invested in Ruffwear’s Roamer Bungee Leash ($39.95), a soft leash that allows Woody to venture in the spirit of a retractable leash but without the durability that caused a 6-inch bruise. Unlike a traditional leash, the handle can be expanded large enough to fit around the waist, so humans can walk their pups hands-free.
Woody is still a pretty good boy in training, so he pulls a bit when on leash. But we recently bought a PetSafe Gentle Leader, a fabric collar that wraps around his head and clings to the handlebar to keep him from using his own body weight to pull, and it changed the rules of the game. He is no longer able to pull when he sees rabbits running next to him or when he is excited. The walk is now fun for everyone involved (read: me), and in fact, he acts exceptionally well when dressed as the cute leader because he knows he has no other choice.
hybrid water bottle pot
I sympathize with parents of human children every time I need to pack a dog diaper bag on a road trip or other adventure. One way I have reduced the number of supplies is to buy a dog water bottle that is also a bowl. Specifically, the Lesotc Pet Water Bottle ($16.97), which has a smooth polyethylene top that folds into a bowl and fills when you twist its latch to “open” and squeeze the bottle. It also reduces waste because when Woody doesn’t drink the entire bowl, the remaining water is sucked back into the bottle.
Chow Down Pet Supplies
I always feel good about supporting a local shop, especially when they are the best in town in their specialty. Chow Down Pet Supplies boasts five locations in Colorado, each with their own personality but the same commitment to selling quality pet food and products. I shop at one in Montrose where the friendly staff is always on hand to help me sizing Woody’s new gear (like the cute leader) and send home samples of new products. When I first moved to the Western Slope and was changing out my cat’s food, they provided me with small bags of several options eligible for discounts under the store’s loyalty program. Having some resident cats in the store ordering scratches from customers is an added bonus.
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