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Monday, September 30, 2019

Ontario SPCA FurFest Fundraiser

This past Friday we attended a fundraiser for the Ontario SPCA called, "FurFest – a 'Paws-itive' Evening".

Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

It was held at The Bradford Barn - a local farm estate that has been turned into a wedding and event venue. The barn itself is a two-storey reception room with a gorgeous outdoor deck and a separate gazebo area. All of the OSPCA staff, venue staff, and entertainers volunteered their time to make the event a success.

Bradford Barn Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

Jason McCoy, CCMA and Juno award winning country singer - and a huge animal lover - was the headlining act. We've been fans of Jason for years, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Roadhammers. He kept us entertained for almost three hours, singing his own songs along with nearly every song requested by the crowd. In fact, he sang until his voice started to give out. That's dedication to a cause!

Jason McCoy Ontario SPCA Fur Fest
Jason McCoy Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

The house band, Stable Polarity, took over after Jason McCoy and kept things rocking until after midnight.

Along with the entertainment, there were BBQ ribs and chicken fresh out of the smoker, plus a craft beer tasting tent. I'm not a beer drinker at all, but I did try the citrus radler from Big Rig Brewery and it wasn't bad. I tried to sell them on that tagline - "It's not bad" - for their next commercial but they wouldn't go for it.

Bradford Barn Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

Inside the barn there were multiple raffles for gift baskets, autographed sports photos, gift cards, even a customized firefighter chair - all donated by local businesses. Later in the night was a "toonie toss" for a huge bottle of Grey Goose vodka. The object of the game is to throw or slide a toonie ($2 Canadian coin) across the floor, getting it as close as possible to the bottle. Closest coin wins the bottle. All of the money tossed went to the OSPCA of course.

Ontario SPCA Fur Fest
Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

The only downside of the night was that there were no puppies to play with!

We spent some time talking with Cam Lund, manager of community development for the Ontario SPCA, on the work that they've been doing recently.

Ontario SPCA Fur Fest
Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

The OSPCA provides services and advice to help pet owners ensure the best possible life for their pets. They take in rescues, animals without homes, and strays. They also provide these animals with medicine, day-to-day care, and any required surgery needed to help them find their new forever homes.

Ontario SPCA Fur Fest

This past summer they began operating a mobile animal wellness clinic on a 38 foot trailer. It enables them to reach under-served communities, providing spay/neuter surgeries, wellness exams, micro-chipping and vaccinations. They have the capacity to perform 20 to 30 spay/neuter procedures a day. Pet Valu has been a generous sponsor but they still need more help stocking it and covering operating costs.

Ontario SPCA Animal Wellness Services Mobile Unit

If you are interested in donating to the Ontario SPCA please click on this link to go to their donation page.

We had such a good time and I hope that they raised buckets of money for the OSPCA. The animals aren't to blame for the situation they're in and they deserve everything we can do to help them.


Friday, September 27, 2019

GPS Pet Collar Review

We live on a large, forested property with no fences between most neighbours. Our older dogs have been taught their property limits, but the younger dogs are still learning. For now they are on long leads or tie-outs when outside. However, we do want to eventually allow them to roam around free, and so I have been looking at GPS collars lately. All of the dogs are microchipped of course, but that only helps if someone finds them and takes them to a veterinarian or shelter to be scanned. If they do wander off into the forest we want to be able to locate them as quickly as possible.

A GPS locator works by sending a signal from your dog's collar to a GPS satellite. The satellite then sends the dog's coordinates to your tracker - be it your cell phone or a radio transceiver. There are also trackers that work without a GPS chip that send a radio signal from the collar to the transceiver, but the dog must be within a certain range, and you only receive the direction and distance, not the exact coordinates of your dog. Both systems are useful - if you're in an area without cellular coverage you're better off with the radio tracker.

These are my top six GPS collars so far. They range from the simplest "tell me which direction my dog has taken off in" to more gadgety "also tell me my dog's heart rate and how many calories they've burned today". I think we'll probably end up choosing something in between.


Whistle Go Explore  - from $129.95
Whistle Go Explore GPS pet tracker

The Whistle Go Explore is a tracker that clips on to your pet's existing collar. It works through an app on your cell phone and a monthly subscription to the network is required. You can set up safe zones for your dog, and if they go outside of a zone you will get a notification on your phone. You can also add other phone users so that alerts and notifications are shared among family/friends. This tracker has extensive health stat monitoring as well - calories burned, distance traveled, and active minutes. It even tracks licking and scratching patterns! The battery lasts up to 20 days, depending on use.

Pros Cons
 - can set up safety zones  - clip-on - could come loose
 - can add multiple users  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring



Link AKC Collar - from $90.73
Link AKC GPS pet collar

The Link AKC Collar is a good-looking collar. Made from Italian leather (there is also a sport version with a fabric sleeve), this collar is slightly heavier than the usual collar made of nylon webbing. You can set safety zones and will be alerted if your dog goes outside the designated boundary, but the GPS tracking app requires a monthly service plan. The collar tracks daily stats such as activity levels, walking routes, and ambient temperature. It also has a sound feature that can be turned on remotely for training activities.

Pros Cons
 - stylish leather  - heavier than other collars
 - can set safety zones  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring
 - sound feature for training


Black+Decker Smart GPS pet collar

The Black+Decker Smart Dog Collar is made of silicon rubber and is waterproof to 3 feet. Customized safety zones can be set up to alert when the dog goes out of bounds. The GPS information is updated to your smart phone app constantly (monthly subscription is required). The collar also has a two-way radio feature so that you can relay commands to the dog or information to the person who finds them. There is also a virtual dog tag that displays the dog's name and your contact information.

Pros Cons
 - can set safety zones  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring
 - two-way radio feature
 - virtual ID tag



Sport Dog Tek 2.0 GPS pet collar

The SportDOG Brand Tek Series 2.0 GPS Collar is the Cadillac of  GPS collars. Along with GPS satellite tracking this collar tells you what path your dog took and whether or not they're still moving or standing still. It uses a handheld remote rather than your cell phone (no subscription fee). You can add up to 22 dogs on the same system. It is waterproof to 25 feet and has a 10 mile range.

Pros Cons
 - no subscription fee  - expensive
 - can add up to 22 dogs on one system
 - waterproof to 25 feet
 - 10 mile radio range



Gibi Pet Tracker - from $129.99
Gibi GPS pet collar

The Gibi Pet Tracker uses an online browser-based app to locate your pet. You can share the information with friends and family via Google Maps. If your dog leaves your preset safety zone you will receive an email or text. There is a monthly subscription fee for the service. The device slides on to an existing collar so it is more secure than a clip-on monitor. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 5 days and the device is waterproof up to 3 feet. One downside is that the app might not be compatible with newer phones.

Pros Cons
 - lightweight  - subscription fee
 - secure attachment to existing collar  - not compatible with all phones
 - can set up safety zones



Duo+ Tracker Clip - from $199.99
Duo+ Tracker GPS pet tracker

This GPS tracker clips on to your dog's existing collar. The Duo+ Tracker Clip works via an app on your phone with no subscription fee. It also doesn't require cellular coverage to function but uses radio frequencies to establish contact between modules. The system operates by connecting two remotes. When you click your remote the app will show both your location and your dog's location. You can set safety zones and will receive an alert if your dog leaves the area. It has a range of up to 3 miles. You can also add a second pet to the system.

Pros Cons
- no subscription fee  - clip-on - could come loose
- can set up safety zones  - both remotes must be turned on to work
- can add second pet to system   (cannot be turned on remotely
So far I'm leaning towards the Link AKC Collar or the Black+Decker Smart Dog Collar because they both are complete collars rather than clip-ons. The Sport Dog Tek 2.0 GPS Collar is pretty expensive and probably does more than we need. Though you do need to factor in the cost of the subscription serivce when you're calculating the price.



Do you have a favourite pet GPS collar not mentioned above that we should consider? Have you tried any of these GPS trackers and what was your opinion?




Monday, September 23, 2019

New'bark'et Dog Festival


A festival is held each year in our town to celebrate the furry members of the family. It's called "New'bark'et" - which is a play on the town's name (Newmarket) - and we went to check it out last weekend. This is our 4th or 5th year attending and we never get bored.

Newbarket Dog Festival

There were dozens of vendors selling every possible type of dog product - clothing, food, treats, beds, toys, leashes and collars - you name it, someone was offering it.

Newbarket Dog Festival

Newbarket Dog Festival

There were also activities like the Aqua Dogs dock diving competition (deserving a post of its own), a lure course - where the dog chases a mechanical lure in a pattern around a field, an off leash area, and the community pool was closed to humans so that the dogs could splash and play and chase balls.

This year we took Scarlett on her own. Usually we take Chloe as well, but her hind end is getting weak and anything more than a 10 minute walk is too much for her. Scarlett is very timid, and though the crowds sometimes made her hesitant, she still had a great time. Just look at the smile!

Newbarket Dog Festival

Global Pet Foods was the main sponsor and they, as always, handed out goodie bags full of toys, treats, and coupons. And so many of the vendors handed out samples as well. Scarlett took a liking to the real cheese treats, so we had to buy a bag of those. We made the mistake of going to the Farmers Market first and using too much of our cash, but I did manage to have enough left to buy this awesome "Rescue Mom" t-shirt from the OSPCA. I think it makes me official.


We encouraged Scarlett to run around in the off leash area, to see how she'd react to other dogs that she wasn't used to. Most of the dogs were much bigger than she is, but she still had a great time wandering around and doing some "meet 'n' sniff".

Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival

The DogLoversDays lure course was hilarious. These dogs weren't trained, so they didn't always know what they were supposed to do and would get distracted easily. Or they would cheat and take shortcuts to intercept the lure. I loved it. I think Scarlett might like this once she builds some confidence as she loves to chase rabbits on our property.

DogLoversDays Lure Course
DogLoversDays Lure Course
DogLoversDays Lure Course

Are you familiar with dock diving? The dogs run down a large portable dock and jump into a pool of water to get the toy that their owner tosses out. They compete for distance, height, or accuracy, depending on the event. The Aqua Dogs crew puts on shows all over our area (and as far as Quebec and BC!) and we go to see them as often as we can. The great thing is that any dog can join - any age, any size, any ability - and they'll teach them how to dive. I'm planning on putting up another post later dedicated to just the Aqua Dogs and the shows we've seen this year.

Aqua Dogs Canada dock diving
Aqua Dogs Canada dock diving
Aqua Dogs Canada dock diving

The "Pooch Plunge" swimming pool is also a crowd favourite. We didn't go in this year as Scarlett doesn't like to swim, but we've taken Chloe a few times in the past. Global Pet Foods supplies hundreds of floating balls, and the dogs go crazy jumping in and out of the pool, chasing them and each other.

Here is a video of Chloe the first year we tried it. Even then she was pretty old (10 maybe?), but she was still game to dive in for a ball.



Newbarket Dog Festival

All of the dogs we met were having a super-fun time. It's always over too soon, but you go home with a very tired puppy.


I'll end this with photos of some of the adorable dogs we met this year. Can't wait for the next one!

Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival
Newbarket Dog Festival

Friday, September 20, 2019

Sheppards Bush Walking Trails (Aurora, Ontario)


I work in an industrial part of town - in fact, the next street over is called "Industrial Parkway". But in behind my building is a hidden gem of a forest with multiple walking trails. It's called Sheppards Bush Conservation Area, and it is my lunchtime getaway from the constant buzz of the office.

Sheppards Bush Conservation Area

Sheppards Bush Conservation Area

Sheppards Bush is 65 acres of forested land, and along with the aforementioned trails, there are picnic pavilions, soccer fields, and historic buildings, including the original Sheppard family home.

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

There is an offshoot of Sheppards Bush called the Nokiidaa Trail that I usually choose to walk on. It follows the East Holland River, with one main loop plus multiple links to other trails that join the three nearby towns. All together there are 20km of trails. This trail is the perfect place to walk your dog. Just look at these wide, groomed pathways:


Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

Or if you're like me and are escaping from work, it's the perfect place to see and pet other people's dogs. I can't help but toss off a "Hi, Pupper!" to every dog I see. And sneak a couple of photos if I'm fast enough. It's a very friendly place, but walkers tend to keep to themselves rather than stop and chat. Maybe it would be different if I had my own dogs with me.

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

Right now the leaves are just starting to turn, but in a month or so the colours will be spectacular. I'll sometimes run here at lunch time once it's cooled down, and there is nothing better than dashing along paths of crisp, colourful leaves. Here is a photo I took during a run last October:

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

Amazing, isn't it?

There are also benches placed at intervals to take a break, eat your lunch, or just sit and watch the world go by.

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

I'm always looking for new trails, and having this one so close to my workplace is a dream come true. Next weekend we're hoping to take the dogs hiking in Gravenhurst and I can't wait to share that one with you, too!

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush

Nokiidaa Trail Sheppards Bush