Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Favorite Post of 2008

It sure has been a busy year for Merlin's Bark Products. Things sure have been moving fast for the company and I don't want to brag, but I think Merlin's Bark Products may become one of those Fortune 500 companies you read about in the papers within a couple of years.

Anyhow, while I was reflecting on the past year, I realized that my company wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for Etsy providing us (and a couple hundred thousand others) with a great place to setup shop and sell all of our wonderful handmade (and vintage) items online.

Also, you would say that we also got our "big break" from Etsy too. Back before Merlin's Bark Products even had our first Etsy sale one of the co-founders (Jared) interviewed me for a feature story on Etsy.

So in celebration of the end of 2008, I decided to rerun my blog post on my Etsy Spotlight interview.



My Fresh Shop interview with Jared was published today! I am so excited about it that my little bunny butt has been shaking in a frenzy for awhile now. I reprinted the whole article below, but feel free to check out the article and all the nice comments people have been leaving me about my shop on Etsy's Web site.

*******

Fresh Shops: Merlin's Bark Products
Story by jared

Published on July 31, 2008 in Spotlight


Recently, I was clicking through Pounce Undiscovered with my right hand while rubbing my dog’s head with my left. I saw this great (well-crafted and simply designed) elevated dog feeder (in red-stained chestnut) by Merlin's Bark Products, and I ah-ha’ed aloud.

I love finding good woodwork on Etsy. This shop couples creative carpentry with a design sensibility that’s driven by deep compassion for animals.

So far, merlinsbarkproducts features an assortment of feeders and little wooden homes for an array of animals, such as bluebirds, bats, butterflies, flying squirrels…and of course, dogs.

I put a few questions to the creators behind merlinsbarkproducts, Sherry and Jerry:

There is a great beauty and variety of wood in your items. What are some of the benefits to using sustainably harvested or recycled wood?

It is very important to me that we use wood that comes from trees that are managed and farmed in ways that ensure the protection of the environment and other natural resources. Also, I would hate to think that I was contributing to the removal of old growth trees. I know that a lot of different animals depend on those trees for housing. Also, you can find a lot of beauty in old recycled wood. We get a lot of our recycled wood from a local building material recycling center. I am hoping to use some of their old barn wood for owl house I have in mind.

The designs of your animal homes seem strangely inviting...

I love to lay outside in my yard and watch all the different animals run around. When I’m watching them, I start to think about what type of houses and feeding station they would need.

One of my favorite products is our condominium for flying squirrels. It is just amazing! It is over 3-feet tall and has four floors. I came up with the design after watching our own flying squirrels and wondering what type of house they would need if our old pine tree didn’t exist anymore. I did a little research and came up with a house that any flying squirrel would be proud to call home.

I also realized the need for Purple Martin houses when a whole colony of them decided to move into our gutters this spring. I did a little research trying to figure out why they moved in and found out that Purple Martins are the only birds that totally depend on humans for housing. So now we will be adding Purple Martin houses to our product line.

Your blog details a very interesting story about how you turned an idea into a real company. Can you talk about some of the challenges you faced and how you resolved them?

One of the biggest challenges was figuring out what type of products I wanted to concentrate on. At first I was thinking about making products for animals and humans, but I have found myself concentrating more on products geared toward animals.

Though, humans benefit from our products too. Whether it is from installing a bat house and having Mother Nature’s little pest control experts take the place of using poisonous insecticide, or being entertained by song birds eating out of a feeder, the enjoyment our of products can be shared by animals and humans.

Our product line continues to evolve. I love receiving feedback and suggestions from customers. Recently we had people ask us about elevated cat bowl feeders. I had never thought making those before, but now we will be adding elevated cat bowl feeders to our product line. I also continue to do research on animal husbandry to see what other types of products we should be offering.

You are a member of the Abandoned Wild Babies Animal Resuce (AWBAR), who also keeps an Etsy shop. How does being a member of such a compassionate organization affect your role as a shop owner?

Since I’ve joined, I’ve been helping to spread the word about AWBAR through my blog and also on forums. I recently donated one of our dual feeders (a feeder that can be used by both birds and squirrels) to the AWBAR Etsy store. I can’t wait for it to sell. All of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to support the care of the baby animals at AWBAR.

******

I'll be barking to you later!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Animal Shelters Need Help!

You don't have to be the CEO of a company to know that the economy hasn't been doing that well lately. Every time you turn on the news you see another report of massive layoffs and the rising foreclosure and unemployment rates. One of the innocent (and sometimes forgotten) victims of the current crises are family pets. Animal shelters all over the country have seen a huge increase of once beloved pets being dropped off because their owners can no longer afford to care for them properly or they have lost their home to foreclosure. When I read this story in the local paper this morning I decided that as the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products I need to be doing more to help out my fellow canine (and feline) in this time of need.

Maybe you will decide to help out too....


Animal shelters feeling pinch, too
Monday, December 22, 2008
By Kathy Samudovsky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Animal Friends in Ohio Township is among local shelters in need of donations of anything from food to toys.
It's a pretty safe bet that animals in most local shelters won't find a permanent home for the holidays.

Not because Christmas is just three days away.

Rather, the economic recession has led to a rising number of pet surrenders and, at the same time, dwindling donations.

People who have lost their jobs or homes due to foreclosures are unable to afford food and medical care for the family pet, said Gretchen Fieser, director of public relations for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Many are having to surrender their pet to a shelter or, worse, abandon it, she said.

Charitable contributions are difficult for them, too.

"When people are stressed financially, they're not as giving because they're worried -- understandably so -- about their own existence. So it's kind of a double whammy for us: You have more animals coming into the shelter and less [donations] from the public to help support it."

To increase awareness of their needs, shelters have been promoting "Wish Lists" of in-kind gifts they'd like to receive, such as supplies, resources, time and equipment. These lists are typically available on their Web sites or via phone contact.

Animal rescue, rehabilitation and fostering organizations have wish lists, too. Their all-volunteer staff members often must pay for expenses out-of-pocket.

Shelters rely on donations from compassionate individuals and corporations to help maintain operations and keep the animals safe, healthy and happy.

There are no government funds available for animal shelters; only for animal control.

The Washington Area Humane Society reported a 25 percent increase in surrendered or abandoned pets since the same time last year. "We're even getting a lot of animals that were adopted through us, returned to us or dropped off. People can't afford them anymore," said manager Lorie Schooley.

Jolene Miklas, director of communications for Animal Friends, the no-kill shelter in Ohio Township, said the agency's Chow Wagon, which provides pet food to local food banks and pantries, has seen a 60 percent increase in demand since December 2007. Pet food donations are urgently needed.

If you're an animal lover but strapped for cash, you can still help.

Many wish list items are inexpensive -- as in less than $5. Buying one toy will cure boredom and stress for multiple cats or dogs. And if 20 people send a $10 gift card, that's $200 of store credit.

Do you knit? Consider knitting cage pads or large-dog sweaters. Like to organize? Coordinate a pet food drive. You can also foster animals in your home; volunteer as a handyman, dog walker or cat cuddler. Or, if you live in or near Washington, Pa., donate use of a heated barn. (The Washington Area Humane Society has a few unhappy, "cage-crazed" cats that need more space. To help, call 724-222-PETS.)

Finally, consider a tax-deductible donation to a shelter, or rescue or fostering group, or a specialized fund such as the Animal Care & Assistance Fund. The nonprofit fund, an extension of the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Ohio Township, was started in October. It was designed as a one-time benefit for referred pet owners whose financial situation makes them unable to provide veterinary care for treatable yet life-threatening conditions. For details, visit www.animalcarefund.org

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Doctor Recommended: Elevated Dog Bowls

How would you like to have to eat hunched over a bowl? Or how about trying to get a drink of water all hunched over? If your pet doesn't eat out of an elevated bowl, that is what your pup (or cat) is doing everyday. Not only is it uncomfortable to do, but it is also harder on the digestive system. By using a raised/elevated feeder, which is designed to provide food and water at the correct height, you can help prevent and alleviate any problems. That is why Merlin's Bark Products has its own line of elevated dog bowl feeders and also elevated cat bowl feeders.


Veterinarians actually recommend raised bowl feeders for dogs and cats since they help alleviate problems the pets might have with arthritis, neck and back problems, and also with digestion problems like megaesophagus and other conditions that make swallowing painful and difficult. Since elevated feeders are sit up higher, everything goes down the throat a little easier.

Elevated bowls also help keep pets eating areas cleaner. They help keep the food and water in the bowls and not dribbling all over the floor. Have you ever noticed pups "dripping" water all over the floor whenever they lift up their head up after taking a drink? Using an elevated bowl can helped stop the "lake" from forming around a pup's water bowl when they are getting a drink. A lot of pets like to play with their food and water dishes too and having raised bowls stop pets from doing that.

Elevated dishes don't just benefit members of the animal kingdom, they also benefit pet owners since they no longer have to bend over as far to pick up their pet's food and water dishes. Sounds like a win/win situation to me!

I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Biden Puppy!

Did you hear the exciting news? Vice President-elect Joe Biden will be moving to Washington D.C. with a German Shepherd puppy! Check out this CNN news story about the lucky little puppy:


Biden beats Obama in puppy race

(CNN) – While the country is fixated on what kind of dog President-elect Barack Obama’s family will get when they move into the White House, his Vice President-elect Joe Biden quietly picked out a puppy of his own last week.

Biden’s wife, Jill, promised the future VP a dog if he and Obama got elected. Biden found the as-yet-unnamed pup, a three-month old male German Shepherd, in a breeder’s kennel in southeastern Pennsylvania, the area’s Daily Local News reports.

Biden revealed his wife’s pledge on Election Day, telling reporters flying with him to Chicago that she had first promised him a dog if he was elected president, and when his primary bid failed, if he was elected vice president. Mrs. Biden even taped pictures of dogs on the seatback in front of Biden on the plane, according to the report.

“I’ve always had a big dog my whole life, even the time I was a kid. I’ve had German Shepherds and Great Danes and Labs and Golden Retrievers,” Biden said on November 4. “So with Barack inquiring about would I be willing to get vetted, Jill said, ‘I’ll make you a deal: if you get the vice presidency and get elected, you can get a dog.’

“I know what kind I want, I don’t know what kind I’m going to get yet,” he added before reiterating that the ticket hadn’t won yet.

Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said the vice president-elect had owned three German shepherds in his life, “so he’s familiar with the breed and its personality.”

“He’s excited to bring it home when it gets a little older and has promised that his grandchildren can name it after the New Year,” Alexander said.

Biden was reportedly accompanied to breeder Linda Brown’s kennel by New Castle County Police K-9 coordinator Mark Tobin, who will train the puppy for the next six weeks before delivering it to the Bidens when they move into the vice presidential residence in January.
Brown told Delaware’s News Journal that the puppy is “the pick of the litter.”

Tobin added, “He’s well-tempered, people-friendly and social…It’s just a happy-go-lucky puppy.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Elevated Bowls for X-mas!

It is time to get your orders in for Merlin's Bark Products' elevated dog bowls, cat bowls, or any of our other great handmade pet products if you wish to have them under your tree in time for Christmas. If you are interested in doing a custom order make sure you get your order in by this Friday (December 12th) so we can start production and ship it out to you in time for the holidays.


3-Inch High Elevated Cat Bowl


6" High Elevated Dog Bowl

Items are going fast, so make sure you get your orders in soon. I'll be barking to you later!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Magic Sleigh!

I am so excited about my Christmas tree this year! Thanks to The Magic Sleigh the tree is full of beautiful corgis! The Magic Sleigh sells the most wonderful handmade porcelain dogs, cat, angels, unicorns, and other fantasy figurine ornaments and sculptures.

Here are a couple of the awesome corgi ornaments that are proudly hanging on my tree this year:





Not only does The Magic Sleigh make the most wonderful corgis in the world. But her store is also full of other wonderful pet ornaments too - but for obvious reasons I find that the corgi ornaments are my favorites.

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So check out The Magic Sleigh and find the perfect ornament for your tree too.

I'll be barking to you later!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gingerbread Dog Treats Recipe!

Recently, one of Merlin's Bark Products workers whipped up a couple batches of doggy cookies for a charity event. The cookies are totally irresistible and I felt that it was my doggy duty to share this delicious recipe with everyone so other pups can enjoy the cookies too.

Gingerbread Dog Treats
Ingredients:
1 cup molasses
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
6 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger or one tsp. of dried powder ginger

Directions:
Combine the molasses, honey, water, and oil in a medium bowl. In another large bowl mix the flour, the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Combine well. Divide this dough in four sections and roll each piece into a ball, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 – 5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough out into 1/4 “ thickness. Cut dough with a cookie cutter into gingerbread men or other fun shapes. Bake 10 – 15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges and firm.


Carob Frosting
Ingredients:
Carob chips
Vegetable/Canola oil.

Put about 1/4 (or less) of a cup of carob chips in a small cup/bowl. Drizzle a little of the oil on top (just a tad) and mix it to make sure all of the chips are lightly coated with the oil. Microwave for around 30-45 seconds. Stir the chips and it should form a frosting like paste. If the chips are not melted enough you might want to microwave it again for a couple of seconds. Carob chips will burn if you overcook them. After the chips are in a frosting like state you can just frost the cookies.

I'll be barking to you later!

Friday, November 28, 2008

MBP's 4-Day Gobble Gobble Sale!

As the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products I am pleased to announce that I have taken an additional 10% off the original purchase price of all of my in stock items from November 28th thru December 1st! That means all of our:



elevated dog bowls,


elevated cat bowls,

pet toy boxes,


and birdhouses, bird feeders, and squirrel feeders can now be purchased for 10% less. Sounds like a great deal to me!

I'll be barking to you later!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yappy Happy Pups for the Holidays!

Recently, I blogged that I would be barking about some of my top Etsy gift recommendations for pets, pet lovers, and pet owners for this holiday season. The first item I would like to bark about is this custom made indoor doghouse from YappyHappy


Made for the smaller pup (up to 15lbs), this doghouse can even be ordered with a battery operated chandelier ready to switch on and off. Talk about living the pampered life!

Don't think you have time to get a custom order done and under the tree by the holidays? Never fear, YappyHappy has a mini Starbarks house for your small yapper ready to go out the door upon order!



While I might be a tad over the weight limit for either one of these houses, I think they would make the perfect gift for some lucky pup this holiday season. YappyHappy also has custom dog tags, pet mats, and other cool items available too - so take a couple minutes and check out their shop. You might just find that "must have" gift item for this holiday season.

Well, I need to get back to planning Merlin's Bark Products 1st after Thanksgiving Day sale. I'll be barking to you later!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Dog Reunion Story!

I just had to share with everyone this wonderful story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about a pup lost for 5 long years finding his way home. You can also check out the video of the heartwarming family reunion. It sure is going to be a great Thanksgiving this year for Tootsie!


Toot-toot Tootsie, don't cry: Dog found after 5 years
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- Tootsie, the adventuresome dachshund who went missing more than five years ago, is back home in Pleasantville, N.J.

Tootsie was found two weeks ago wandering around Wilkinsburg, 350 miles away from where he went missing in 2003. He was taken to the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania and was traced back to his owners using information on a microchip implanted under the skin on the back of his neck.

"Donde estaba?" -- Where have you been? -- his owner Elda Arguello said yesterday as she wrapped Tootsie in her scarf outside a television studio in Harrisburg -- the halfway point between Pleasantville and Wilkinsburg. Tifanie Tibero of the rescue league delivered Tootsie to her there. The dog was shivering from the cold but appeared content in Mrs. Arguello's arms.

"He was my baby. Now he's coming home," she said, grinning.

The family believes the dog had been taken from their gated yard.

"I looked for him for many, many days," said Mrs. Arguello, 53, who brought two of her five children -- Edna Colon, 18, and Daniel Colon Jr., 16 -- with her to pick up Tootsie yesterday.

So much time had passed that when the rescue league sent her a letter several days ago she hadn't remembered losing a dog.

Daniel did, though.

"I said, 'What about Tootsie?,' " Daniel remembered. "I just put that out there, but I didn't really think they could have really found her 5 1/2 years later."

Edna remembered he had an extra toe on one of his back paws. When the shelter said the dog found in Wilkinsburg did, too, she knew it was the same 6-month-old puppy she had when she was 13.

"He got longer," Edna said.

"He's got [some] gray hair now," her brother remarked.

The shelter used a scanner on Tootsie to find a similar microchip that the family had a veterinarian place in the dachshund's neck when he was a puppy. Information gleaned from the chip was run through a national database.

"Without a microchip, the reunion would have been completely, unequivocally and undeniably impossible," said Janice Barnard, the rescue league's director of special programs.

The family is keenly aware of that.

"Now we're going to put another one in the other dog we have back home, just in case," Daniel said.

The microchips have been in use since 1989 and cost between $20 and $100, depending on whether they are inserted at shelters or veterinary clinics. They are useful in reuniting owners of dogs and cats, such as George, a brown short-haired feline who was returned earlier this month to his owner in California after 13 years.

Tootsie's whereabouts for the last five years remain a mystery, although it is clear he has been well-fed and cared for, Ms. Tibero said.

"We have no idea where Tootsie has been or what he's been up to ... but he obviously needed to get back to the right place," she said. "I'm just glad to be able to carry out the rescue league's mission of reuniting lost pets and their owners ... It's something that very rarely, if ever, happens. It's a one-in-a-million kind of thing."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkey Day Sale!

I'm so excited that my little bunny butt can't stop shaking! Merlin's Bark Products is preparing for their very first after Thanksgiving sale extravaganza! I haven't worked out all the final details yet, but Merlin's Bark Products will be offering a discount on all our in stock items! That is very exciting news if you ask me. Make sure you check back in a couple of days for more details. Also, I will be blogging during the next couple of weeks on some totally awesome holiday gifts (like the elevated dog bowl pictured below) that you should be buying on Etsy.


I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Networking!

Being the CEO of a major corporation isn't that much different than being the CEO of an up and coming company like Merlin's Bark Products. No matter what the size of the business it is very important that the CEO gets out there and spends some serious time networking. One of the ways a CEO can do some networking is by particapating in charity orgazinations - like Etsy for Animals which I am a member of - and by joining other social organizations. Recently I joined MyCorgi.com and Dogster hoping to meet some like minded CEO pups and also spread the word about MBP's awesome elevated dog bowls, pet toy boxes and elevated cat bowls. Sure networking is a tough job, but I'm just the CEO pup to do the job. Well, I guess I better get busy networking - I got a lot of butt sniffing to do.

I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Corgi Creek Crossing

Check out this cool video my employees took of me at Merlin's Bark Products 1st company retreat last weekend:



I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Elevated Cat Bowl Feeders!

Sure, I'm not a huge fan of cats, but I think that they should have cool products just like us pups - which is why Merlin's Bark Products also offers a full line of elevated cat bowls in a number of paint colors and stains. Now the littlest pup (or kitty) in the world will be able to feel larger than life eating out of their own elevated feeder made especially for them. Measuring 3 inches in height, these extra small elevated bowls are the perfect height for kitties and also those teeny tiny pups like chihuahuas, malteses, pekingeses, and dachshunds.

3-Inch Tall 1-Pint Elevated Cat Bowl Feeder (Painted - Antique Green)

3-Inch Tall 1-Pint Raised Cat Bowl Feeder (Stained - Dark Walnut)

3-Inch Tall 3-Bowl 1-Pint Elevated Cat Bowl Feeder (Painted - Creamy White)

3-Inch Tall 1-Pint Raised Cat Bowl Feeder (Painted - Granite)

I am very happy that Merlin's Bark Products is able to offer elevated feeders to cats and pups of all sizes. I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Custom Made 3-Bowl Elevated Dog Feeders!

Got multiple pups? Why not let them eat in style out of a beautiful elevated dog bowl feeder stained the color of your choice. Merlin's Bark Products is now offering 12" high custom multiple bowl feeders for purchase! Measuring 12 inches high it will be perfect fit for the large sized pups. Constructed in a Shaker table style, and stained whatever color you choose to go with your kitchen, the look will be completed with three 2 quart stainless steel dog bowls (with your choice of either plain bowls or bowls with an embossed puppy paw motif).


This elevated dog bowl feeder pictured was a custom order created for a customer and stained in traditional cherry. Check out a Merlin's Bark Products selection of available stain colors to find the perfect match for your home.


Did you know that elevated feeders are a great thing for a pup to have. Not only do they look nicer than just a plain old bowl setting on the floor, but elevated feeders are very beneficial for pets too. Veterinarians recommend elevated feeders because they help ease digestion problems, and are easier for pets that have problems with arthritis, neck or back problems to eat out of. Also, using raised feeding bowls help provide pet owners with a more hygienic and cleaner house. How great is that?!

I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Trip to Ohiopyle!!

Since my employees have been working extra hard lately on finishing a custom order for a 12" 3-bowl elevated dog feeder (which they finished early this morning) I thought it would be a great idea if Merlin's Bark Products went on a "company retreat" at Ohioplye. I had read a lot about CEO's taking their employees out on fun adventure trips to thank their employees for a job well done and I thought my employees deserved that kind of recognition too.

Anyhow, check out these awesome pictures from Merlin's Bark Products first ever company retreat:

Me and Merln's Bark Products' CFO/Business Manager/Product Finisher (i.e. my mom)

Me and Merlin's Bark Products' Carpenter Union (i.e. my dad)

Me enjoying the nice cool river water

Me on Ferncliff Natural Trail getting ready to look at the falls


Cucumber Falls


My employees thought it would be funny if I got my picture taken with the trail sign


I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Size Does Matter!

If you have stopped by Merlin's Bark Products Etsy shop lately you would have noticed that I have updated and changed around our shop sections. Now instead of having all of our elevated dog (and cat) bowls jumbled up all together in one section - all of the raised feeders have been separated into their own shop sections according to height size. So now if you are looking for a particular size for your pup, you will easily be able to see all our current selections by a click on a link.

Here's what our new shop sections look like and an example of the type of products you will find

* Extra Small Elevated Cat (and Dog) Bowl Feeders (feeders under 3" high)

* Small Elevated Dog (and Cat) Bowl Feeders (feeders under 6" high)

* Medium Elevated Dog Bowl Feeders (feeders 6" high)

* Large Elevated Dog Bowl Feeders (feeders 12" high)

* Extra Large Elevated Dog Bowl Feeders (feeders 18" high)


I hope these changes make shopping at Merlin's Bark Products Etsy store a little easier. I am constantly adding new products so make sure you "shop on by" every once-in-awhile and check out all the latest additions to our product line.

I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Etsy Pets and Pet Lovers Gift Guide (Part 3)

Merlin's Bark Products has made Etsy's Pets & Pet Lovers Gift Guide for a third time! A couple of our items have been listed in the gift guide previously, and the last item to be selected for the guide was purchased a couple weeks ago so we haven't had an item in the guide for a little while. Anyhow, another one of our items has been chosen for the gift guide. This time it is one of our elevated/raised dog bowl feeders! This is the first time that one of our elevated dog bowls has made the guide. Check it out right there in the 3rd row, 4th column.


I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008 Dad's Pittsburgh Pet Expo!

This weekend is Dad's Pittsburgh Pet Expo and it is the place for pups and their owners to go for a little fun and excitement!

Dates: October 11 & 12
Times: Saturday 10am – 6pm & Sunday 11am – 5pm
Location: David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Activities: Frisbee dogs, Hot Dog Pig Races, Puppy Playground/Noah's Bark, Ultimate Air Dogs, Ask the Vet, and lots more!

There will be over 90 exhibitors of all kinds there too. Vendors like Lucky Paws Resort (which I hear is a fabulous pet resort), United Against Puppy Mills (which is a very important organization working to stop puppy mills), Wags n' Wiggles Barkery (who by the way sells some of the most delicious treats I have ever munched on - I highly recommend their Tail Waggin Twists), and everything else that you can think of in between. It is one of my business goals to be able to add Merlin's Bark Products to that list of vendors next year.

So check out the show this weekend and make sure that you take your pup with you. Pet participation is encouraged as long as the pup is one a leash.

I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Measuring for an Elevated Feeder!

Since so many pups (and their parents) have been asking me about Merlin's Bark Products line of elevated dog (and cat) bowl feeders and how to figure out what size would be perfect for them - I figured it would be helpful if I included that info in my blog.

So here's some guidelines to help inquiring pups that want to know:

#1 The feeder's height. The usual guideline to find the perfect feeder height is six inches below the pup's withers (i.e. front shoulders). Another broader guideline is that the feeder's height be between 4 to 10 inches below the withers. For example, if you got a tiny pup and six inches seem like a lot, four inches or less should do.

#2 The bowl capacity. My general thought is that the bigger the bowl the better! I know that a lot of pups would agree with me on that, but I also realize that a lot of owners would disagree. So I have included some bowl size measurements below so you can get a good idea of what size the bowls are that we use:

1-pint bowl: inside measures - 4 1/2" wide x 2" deep (holds 2 cups)
1-quart bowl: inside measures - 5 1/2” wide x 2 1/2” deep (holds 4 cups)
2-quart bowl: inside measures - 7 1/4” wide x 3” deep (holds 8 cups)
3-quart bowl: inside measures - 8 3/4" wide x 3 1/2" deep (holds 12 cups)

Once you have figured out what size feeder and bowl would be perfect for your pup - all that is left for you to do is stop by my Etsy store, and pick our which color you like best. So measure your pup and stop by Merlin's Bark Products to find that perfect feeder for your pup (or kitty).

I'll be barking to you later!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Upcoming Animal Friends Events!

Blessing of the Animals
Sunday, October 5 at Noon | Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center | 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Come help us celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, birds and the environment. Bring your four-footed angel and join us for cookies and coffee in the gazebo as we honor all of our pets with a special blessing. There is no cost to attend the blessing. For everyone’s safety, dogs must be on a leash and cats, rabbits and exotics must be in carriers!

Cookies and Coffee with Our Friends from the Aviary
Monday, October 6 at 2:00 pm | Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center | 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Pittsburgh is the home of the National Aviary and an astounding menagerie of our feathered friends. Enjoy cookies and coffee as we welcome Erin Estell, Manager of Interactive Experiences and Animal Promotion and learn about our feathered guests. Tuition is $5. Call 412.847.7035 to register.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Itchy and Scratchy!

Well, I don't need a calendar to tell me that fall has arrived. I have my allergies to tell me that. I get so itchy and scratchy this time of year and it sure can make me one miserable pup! Being a "low ridder" pup makes it even extra hard on me since my belly brushes against a lot of the weeds and grasses.

Anyhow, I came across this great article from Doctors Foster and Smith and thought that it would be a good idea to share it with other pups who might be suffering from allergy problems too. So check out the article below and see if maybe all of your itching and scratching being caused by allergies.

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Types of Allergies That Affect Pets
There are four types of allergies that can affect your pet. Allergies caused by things your pet inhales are termed airborne allergies. Common sources are pollens, molds, and dust mites. Allergies that result from flea-bites are referred to as flea allergies or flea-bite dermatitis. Certain allergies occur from items your pet ingests, and are typically called food allergies. Contact allergies are caused by something your pet comes in direct contact with, such as carpet fibers, plastics, and other things. Contact allergies (plastics, carpet fibers, detergents) are far less common than inhalant allergy and flea allergy dermatitis in pets.

Contact Dermatitis
Less common allergies include contact dermatitis, which include allergy to carpets, cleaners, or plastic. These allergies may cause:

* Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
* Intense scratching
* Hair loss (in chronic conditions)

Food Allergies
Food allergies account for about 10% of all allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies may show up concurrently with allergies to pollen, dust, etc. Symptoms include:

* Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
* Ear problems, often yeast-related
* Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases

Occasionally, dogs with true food allergies may have increased bowel movements and soft stool. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerances, which are not true allergies, and generally cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Watching your pet go through the misery of allergy symptoms can be miserable in itself. If you suspect your pet has allergies, visit your veterinarian. The type of allergy and severity of the symptoms will determine how your veterinarian decides to treat them.


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Well, I am off to get a bath in oatmeal and tea leaf shampoo - I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Hundred Acres Manor!

In the mood for some fright? Want to be part of a fundraiser to help homeless animals AND children at the same time? Well, have I got the event for you. Hundred Acres Manor opens up this weekend in South Park and you can get a good fright and support a great cause all at the same time! Check out this press release from Animal Friends' event calendar.

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Hundred Acres Manor: The Site for Fright
September 26 - November 1 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays), 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm (open till 11:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays) Hundred Acres Drive on the site of what used to be Sully's Pool and Phantoms in the Park in South Park, PA 15129

Since 2003, Hundred Acres Manor in South Park been scaring people as part of a fundraiser to support Animal Friends and Homeless Children’s Education Fund. For the fifth year of this reign of terror, the region’s largest haunted attraction has many surprises in store for you:

* Massacre Mansion, the main home on the Hundred Acres Manor estate. (Check in is anytime, check out is never!)
Valleyview Hospital: A serene center of healing, hope, and torture. Dont bother with the call button, someone will be along shortly to finish you off.

* Fearscapes Factory: Is your mind prepared to handle the worst possible things you can imagine? Hold on to your soul, and embrace the darkness...

* The MAZE: The lost souls of Hundred Acres Manor roam this endless labyrinth. Dont bother asking for directions.
Click here to purchase tickets.


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I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Puppy Mills Awareness Day!

Did you know that this Saturday is a day of protest against puppy mills across the county? Check out the news story below for more information.

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Activists to fight puppy mills with awareness day protests
USA Today

Puppy mill opponents are taking it to the streets this weekend.

Grassroots puppy mill protests and events are planned Saturday across the country, from Northville, Mich., where about 50 people are expected to parade through town to raise awareness and distribute information about puppy mills, to Fresno County, Calif., where volunteers will gather at Sierra Vista Mall "to publicize the atrocities of puppy mills," says organizer Joyce Brandon.

"It's a topic that needs a lot of public-awareness-building," says Natalie Femino, a mental health counselor who is organizing a food, music and puppy mill information-sharing event at Salem (Mass.) Common, her first-ever venture into activism.

Puppy mills — large, inhumanely run breeding operations that sell puppies to some pet stores and online — have for years been in the crosshairs of animal welfare groups. Breeding stock, they say, are kept in tiny cages, fed subsistence diets and given no medical care, exercise or socialization; then the animals are killed when they no longer produce large litters. The puppies, they say, are often sick when sold, or genetic issues soon emerge.

Now the efforts of the large animal welfare groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Society and others that have pushed for legislation and rescued thousands of puppy mill animals in the last year, are being joined by individuals initiating local events.

South Bend, Ind.'s annual Mutt March in St. Patrick's County Park to benefit a no-kill shelter will have a significant anti-puppy-mill component this year, says event chairwoman Linda Candler.

In Medfield, Mass., Medfield Animal Shelter volunteers are planning several hours of events, including a visit by "puppy mill survivors who have been adopted" and a dog talent show, says organizer Judy Ambrose.

The biggest event — with 600 to 1,000 participants expected — will be held in tiny Dutch Village in the middle of Lancaster County, Pa., which experts say is ground zero for puppy millers. Organizer Carol Araneo-Mayer says people are flying in from all over the country to bring awareness — for the fifth straight year — to the matter of the number of farms in the pastoral surroundings where "dogs are being treated like a commodity."

Although many in the trenches are distressed with what they see as the slow pace of real results against puppy mills, there are hopeful signs, says Stephanie Shain, director of the HSUS puppy mill campaign. "We saw two states, Virginia and Louisiana, pass landmark legislation this year by putting a cap on the number of dogs who can be kept for breeding, and saw critical federal laws enacted barring the import of puppies from foreign puppy mills."

And the hope, says ASPCA's Cori Menkin, is that through organized and grassroots events, "the desire to push for stronger laws to protect these animals will become contagious."

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Check with your local ASPCA to see if there will be a protest event in your area. I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Etsy Pets and Pet Lovers Gift Guide (Part 2)

Merlin's Bark Products has made Etsy's Pets & Pet Lovers Gift Guide for a second time! One of our items had been listed in the gift guide previously, and that item was purchased last month so we haven't had an item in the guide for awhile. Anyhow, another one of our elevated/raised cat bowl feeders has made the gift guide! This time it is one of our 3-bowl feeders. Check it out right there in the 1st row, 2nd column.



I'll be barking to you later!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pet Food Recall!

I really hope that every pup has already heard about this very important pet food recall, but I thought since it is such a very important topic that I would post this article from WebMD Health News. Make sure you check out the FDA's web site to see if your pup's food has been recalled.


"Salmonella Risk Prompts Pet Food Recall: Possible Contamination of Mars Petcare Products Could Pose Risk to People and Pets

Sept. 15, 2008 -- Mars Petcare is recalling pet food products manufactured at its Everson, Pa., facility because of a potential salmonella contamination. In addition to being dangerous for pets, the pet food could sicken people who handle the food.

Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. If you think you may have been exposed, look for symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever.

On rare occasions, salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. The FDA urges people with these symptoms who have come into contact with the pet products to contact a health care provider.

Some animals may have similar symptoms, but others may have minimal or no symptoms. Whether or not they have signs, they could infect other animals and humans.

Many pet food brands are produced at the plant, including several varieties of Pedigree and a number of flavors of Special Kitty Gourmet. A complete list of brands is posted on the FDA web site.

Mars Petcare stopped production at the Everson facility July 29 after learning of a possible link between dry pet food produced at the plant and two isolated cases of people infected with salmonella. The company is now implementing a voluntary recall of all products produced at the facility between Feb. 18 and July 29; only the U.S. is affected."



Please make sure you pass long this recall info to other pups and their owners. I'll be barking to you later!