ThunderLeash: the simpler "no pull" solution has become our "no choke" solution

My dog, N.A.S.H.A., totally looks like the anxious type, but she's cool as a cucumber. Unless a butterfly tries to invade our home, and, then, she goes ballistic. So though I've worked with ThunderShirt and done several product reviews, I've always given the shirts they send me to clients who can really use them. It's awesome to be able to that, and I highly recommend the ThunderShirt as a natural remedy for many types of canine anxiety. So when ThunderShirt asked if I'd like to try out their newest product, the ThunderLeash, I was intrigued. After checking it out online, I knew that N.A.S.H.A. and I would be trying this one, ourselves. The ThunderLeash is described as "the simpler 'no pull'" solution.

Though only eleven or so pounds and eight years old, when it's time to go for a walk, N.A.S.H.A. thinks she's part of the Iditarod. She has other weird habits on a leash, too. Like she won't go potty on one. So after our walks, she rushes in the house and to the backyard so she can relieve herself. I don't think ThunderLeash can help with that issue, but I was hopeful it might finally be a solution for N.A.S.H.A.'s constant pulling on a traditional leash.

We'd tried other "no pull" products with little or no success. Our family loves to hike, and we love to take N.A.S.H.A. with us, but sometimes we leave her behind, just because we don't want to deal with her. She's too light to pull us along, and even the kids can hold the leash when she's pulling. Her problem is different. She chokes. Over and over. And over. And over. It's quite irritating to listen to, and it can't be healthy for her. Ah...the intelligence of dogs, ever in question.

So here she is, choking and walking in all her glory with her regular leash:

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I was pretty excited when our ThunderLeash arrived.

Nicely done!

I loved how the instructions were right on the front. So simple!

The ThunderLeash is a full leash, just like it says. It can be used as a regular leash when your dog isn't pulling, and can quickly be converted while it's on your dog, should your dog start pulling. The patent-pending "harness slot" allows you to simply wrap the leash around your dog's torso, just under his "arm pits."

ThunderShirt describes it best:

ThunderLeash is the simpler "no pull" solution. The innovative hardware turns a leash into a "no pull" harness instantly. The safe pressure greatly reduces pulling with no need for a harness. Professional dog trainer recommended. 100% satisfaction guarantee.

ThunderLeash will help make walking your dog a hassle free, positive experience for both you and your dog. Dog harnesses can be great tools for many dogs, but not everyone wants to make the effort to get one onto their dog or to have extra stuff to carry around. ThunderLeash is the perfect combination of simplicity and functionality. For those times you just need a standard leash for a quick walk or for times when your dog is well behaved, simply connect the ThunderLeash to your dog's collar just like any other leash. But for times when pulling might be a problem, simply wrap ThunderLeash around your dog's torso and slide it into the harness slot. Now whenever your dog pulls, a mild pressure is applied to his torso, and the pulling will quickly cease. Which the ThunderLeash, you will finally be able to walk your dog, instead of being walked by your dog.


Since we already experienced what N.A.S.H.A. does on a regular leash, we jumped right ahead to the harness slot.

If N.A.S.H.A.'s fur wasn't so stylishly wild, you could see the harness slot in action.

Physics has never been my strong point, but I could tell that the configuration would not encourage pulling, as a traditional harness often does. It is also equipped with a safety stopper (which is hidden by fur) so the harness won't squeeze too tight.

Here is a photo of an equally-stylish, yet less fuzzy dog so you can actually see what's happening. Photo source: ThunderShirt.

Before we headed out the door, I hooked the clip to N.A.S.H.A.'s collar, then wrapped the leash around her as the directions showed, then easily slipped the leash into the harness slot. Just as easily, N.A.S.H.A. bucked and twisted and–voilá–we were back to the regular leash configuration. Sigh. It was a new sensation for her, so we tried again, and this time she wasn't so wiggly. So we set off...

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Do you hear anything? Me neither! She still pulled, but not as hard, and the best part is that she stopped choking completely. That's a win for her and a win for our whole family!

The ThunderSeash Web site offers free shipping  and a full refund within forty-five days, if the ThunderLeash doesn't work out for you, so there's really no risk.

As the weather cools in Arizona and we're able to venture out on more hikes, I think N.A.S.H.A. will be able to join us more often! I'm really excited about that.

Disclaimer: ThunderShirt provided me with a ThunderLeash in exchange for my honest opinion. 

the luxury of a pet room

Perhaps your kid has grown and moved and left you with an empty nest. Maybe you no longer need a home office since that laptop keeps you mobile. Or maybe you just have the extra space. Would you consider a pet room? Sounds like something for nutty animal freaks, right? Well, most of the people who read my blog are nutty animal freaks, so we're safe.

My clients of nearly two years, Matt and Connie,* have just such a room for their two pooches, Sneakers and Lanie.** When I came for the initial consult, Matt and Connie showed me around the house and presented the pet room. I couldn't initially determine if it was odd or fantastic, but as they explained the room's features and I got to know how down-to-earth they are, I settled on fantastic. And now that I've been working in that pet room on a regular basis for so long, I give it a five-woof rating, and not just because it's a cool luxury.

But it is a cool luxury. Let's go over the features of this particular room:

• laminate wood floor: looks great, wears well, and is super easy to clean

• large crate: the door is always open, but it's a small comforting space that the girls mostly use for toy storage

• toys, and lots of them: naturally

• ample food and water in attractive dishes: a must, as food always tastes better on pretty plates

• two custom potty pads: potty pads are held in place by frames and Matt cut a plastic "netted barrier" to place over the pads so that the girls would stop tearing up the pads. Genius.

• nightlight: to scare away monsters

• protective gate secured with bungee cords: to keep the girls from trying on clothes in the closet

• shelves to support small ammenities: help keep cords and things up and away from the girls' reach for safety reasons. Adds convenience for their caretakers.

• treat jar: because the girls are so good

• disinfecting wipes: for those surfaces that need disinfecting

• hand-vac: conveniently located for light vacuuming needs

• boom-box: so the girls can rock out when they get bored. I've caught them a few times.

• blinds and fan: to keep the girls cool in summer and well ventelated

• two video cameras: so Matt and Connie can see me stroll in like a zombie at 5:00 a.m. in my PJs (that uniform is a perk of being a professional pet sitter). And so they can have fun peeking in on their girls when they aren't home.

• doorway baby gate: Matt removed the door to the room and replaced it with a tall baby gate so the girls can see out

Whether you think it's awesome or you're rolling your eyes, you must know how happy these dogs are while their owners are away. They absolutely love that room! Though they are excited to see me when I arrive and we have a lot of fun together, they are happy as clams to go back in their room when it's time for me to leave, and sometimes, if they are really tired, they'll even spend time in the room while I'm there! The pet room provides them with a sense of security. They have plenty of room and more amenities than most animals I know. Lucky, lucky dogs.

Do you have the luxury of a pet room? I'd love to hear about it. I've one-upped the pet room. I have a multi-room pet house. My pets even allow me to share it with them.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent from tomato-throwing non-animal-freaks.

**Names have been changed so their canine friends don't make fun of them for being spoiled.

all in the name of a pet name

With the royal baby-naming on so many minds, I started to evaluate the names we've given our family members, and how we hardly ever use them. I never call my kids or my pets by their given names. I spent all this time carefully considering the perfect monikers, and, yet, those names are only used on formal occasions. You know, in times of punishment. Here are a list of my kids' and dogs' names and what they have morphed into: Porter (my son, currently age 6): Po-po, Po-diz, Diz, Po-dizzy-diz, Po-dizzily-diz, Dizzy (um...perhaps the kid was lacking in balance as a toddler?), P (only used by close family friends...we never call him this, but it's totally cool), Shiz, Fo-shiz, and, most commonly, "Po."

Fluffy (our Sulcata tortoise): Fluff, and most commonly, "Fluffers."

Campbell (my daughter, currently age 4): Campbellina, Tam-bo (coined by Porter when she was born because he couldn't say Campbell), Tambelina (you can see where I'm going with this, right?), Tam-tam, Tam-tam-a-roonie, Tam-a-lamma-ding-dong, ding dong, Sissy-moo, Sissy-moo-too-head, Tap-tap (coined by the same family who calls Po "P," because their youngest can't say "Camptell," Tu-tu head (what we called her for the first four days of her life when we couldn't decide on a name) and, most commonly "Sissy," "Sis," "Tam," and "Cam," used in equal proportion.

N.A.S.H.A. (our dog. Hubby named her as an ackronym for "Not A Siberian Husky Again." He wants one of those, and I tend to bring home squirrely-looking mutts). Nashie, Nashie-ree Nasie-ree-made-out-of-pee, Nash-a-rino, Nash-Nash, Nash-Nash b'gosh, and, most commonly, "Nash."

Brennen Jr. (my step-son, currently 16): Brennenino, Dude-seriously, and, most commonly, "B," which is why I have this tattoo, along with the fact that the queen bee protects her worker bees to the death, even if they aren't biologically hers...


Brennen, Sr. (my hubby): Babe, Honey, and, most commonly "have you mowed the lawn, yet, bleeper?" Yes, he counts as a kid or a pet, or something like that.

Kermit (our first dog as a married couple, preceded our children, no longer with us, but deserves a mention): Kermie, Kermalicious, Kermalicious and nutritious, Kermalicious and nutritious–we eat you on our very best dishes (for real), Ker-meister, Pookie-peanut, Pook, Pookie-peanut with sugar on top and a cherry, OPP (original pookie-peanut), Kermit the dog, and, most commonly, "Kerm."

Kristen (that's me): I'm mostly called Mommy or Mama (even my hubby and friends call me Mama). B calls me "Kristen," which is not really a nickname. I've encouraged him to call me "evil-stepmother-extraordinaire," but it never took. My favorite is what Po will occasionally call out: "Mamacita, salty senorita."

Aren't nicknames the BEST? I think we sometimes don't even realize we are giving them, they become so second-nature. They make us feel bonded and closer to each other, and I just can't argue with that.

What are the nicknames in your family? Mamacita-salty-senorita is dying to know!

future vet camp at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children's Museum of Phoenix is one of our favorite places to go, especially to escape the summer heat in the desert. We last visited during companion animal month, when we participated in all sorts of animal-related activities. ImageThis past Saturday, the littles participated in the Banfield Future Vet® program at CMoP. The interactive program is designed for school-aged children as an introduction to the field of veterinary medicine, and was a great activity for our animal-loving family.

Dr. Molander, a veterinarialn from Banfield Pet Hospital, led the class of about a dozen with assistance from Dr. Duncan, also from Banfield, and Dharti Patel, a student in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M participating in the student job program at Banfield. Service dog Benson and his person, Justine, from Pet Partners® were also on hand to participate in a sample examination. Dr. Molander interacted with the kids right from the start, giving them the opportunity to talk about their own pets. Molander, Duncan, and Patel shared with the class the reasons why they wanted to become veterinarians. Dr. Molander related a childhood story about watching a vet stitch up her injured horse, saying "I want to do that!" Dr. Duncan told the kids how veterinary medicine was the perfect combination for her two passions, animals and science, and Patel told us that she loves animals, but was never around them growing up, so she wanted to learn about them and work with them. They made it clear to the kids that people arrive at the career choice from different backgrounds and for a variety of reasons. The kids also learned that becoming a veterinarian is a lot of work and requires four years of school.

Dr. Molander talked to the kids about what vets do, and aside from taking care of injured and sick animals, the students learned that vets sometimes travel to large animals who won't fit in the office, such as farm animals and zoo animals. Veterinarians also spend time teaching, researching, and performing tests to further the field of veterinary medicine. Veterinarians also do meat inspections–something I learned–to help keep people who eat meat healthy.

Dr. Molander displayed posters on various topics and allowed the kids to come up and mark correct answers. They drew pictures of what a pet would need to stay healthy and discussed individual symptoms and whether they meant that the animal was feeling well or not well.

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Things really got fun when Dr. Molander called Benson, a gorgeous English Golden Retriever, up for a mock examination. She described what she does and why as she looked Benson over. "I start the examination before I even touch the animal," she explained. Whether or not the animal greets her when she walks in the room is important. She notices the animal's balance and gait and looks at the eyes, all before she makes contact with her hands. The kids learned that veterinarians do a nose-to-tail examination, and Dr. Molander showed them how she feels different parts of the animals' bodies and what she looks for. Benson was quite cooperative and seemed to enjoy the attention.

Dr. Molander examines Benson.

Dr. Molander further illustrated her examination with models, showing the kids what goes on inside a dog.

The models allowed the kids to see what goes on inside a dog.

After Benson's exam, Dr. Molander talked to the kids about what they can do as a pet owner to make sure their pets stay healthy and happy, including making sure they have twice-yearly exams, helping control the pet population with spaying and neutering, the importance of vaccinations, nutrition, regular teeth cleaning, exercise, parasite control, and identification such as microchipping. I'm glad that Dr. Molander talked to the kids about the importance of identification for our animals, as I just wrote about a revolutionary app that hit mobile devices for the first time last week.

Dr. Molander also talked about how to handle pets in the heat of our Arizona summers, telling the kids that although exercise is important, we need to be careful that we don't push our pets too much when it's hot and we need to be careful of their paws on hot outdoor surfaces, another subject I touched upon recently. She also explained that just as we increase our water intake during the summer months, so do animals, so, as pet owners, we need to make sure that we are providing our animals with plenty of fresh water.

The kids had great fun learning all about veterinary medicine, and were awarded for their efforts with a graduation ceremony.

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They received working stethoscopes, graduation certificates, and a bag of goodies that included bookmarks, stickers, and an activity book. My kids love "stuff," so they were thrilled.


After the ceremony, the kids got to get their feet wet by examining ever-patient Benson.

Good boy!

When the kids were done being vets, we enjoyed exploring the rest of the museum, as there is always something new going on. In fact, on October 19, the museum is hosting 5K and Play, which will include a 5K, 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, and Toddler Trot. Registration includes admission to the museum on the 18th, 19th or 20th, healthy post-race food and drinks, and a t-shirt. All race finishers will receive a unique handmade piece of museum artwork, and the top three finishers in each five year age group will receive prizes. Sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds will benefit the Children's Museum of Phoenix. It sounds like an awesome, healthy family activity!

The Banfield Future Vet Program was an amazing experience for my kids, who are true animal lovers, and all of the kids in the room seemed to really enjoy themselves and get a lot out of it. The program is designed for children aged 4 and up. Though very interactive, it is a true classroom-style affair and may not be suited for younger kids without classroom experience. My four-year-old daughter, Campbell, enjoyed most of it, but did get antsy every once in a while. Porter, my six-year-old son, soaked in every minute and described the experience as "totally awesome!" The Children's Museum of Phoenix offers the Future Vet program periodically. Reservations are required, but the program is free with paid museum admission.

Disclaimer: We received admission to the museum in exchange for my honest opinion about the Future Vet Program.

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 3 (making it through the 4th)

Fireworks. Spectacular celebratory tools of our nation's independence, or an annual source of terror? Fireworks can be so stressful for some dogs that their owners are house-bound during one of the best get-out-and-enjoy-summer events of the year, the 4th of July. And the fireworks don't even have to be nearby. Some dogs completely freak out over fireworks miles and miles away that we humans can't even hear. Remember that their hearing is more sensitive than ours.

I've posted first-hand accounts about the success the ThunderShirt had for Jack and Rex. Rex donned his ThunderShirt on the 4th of July last year and slept through a massive fireworks show less than a mile from his home. Jack will try his for the first time this year, but I believe his owner is so thrilled with the results they've achieved so far, that she might just dress Jack in his 4th of July party suit and head out for a night on the delta (so we may have to ask the neighbors how he did).

shop-shirtThe ThunderShirt calms pet fears by "hugging." It seems silly and too simple, but it works. Why can't you just hug your pet and save yourself some money? Because you are anxious when your pet is anxious, and your own anxiety is transferred to your pet. So you'd just be compounding the problem.

Check out this compilation of before & after results...amazing!


Again and again, the steady pressure of the ThunderShirt seems to work for so many. What a wonderful natural alternative to "doggie downers," which so many pet owners have had to resort to. Considering that the shirt comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, it seems silly not to give it a try this 4th of July.

You can order ThunderShirt online, or you can purchase it in most pet stores in time for the fireworks.

I started my inquiry about the ThunderShirt because I'd simply heard so many positive things about it, and I wanted to see for myself. The more I experience the Thundershirt, the better I feel about it. Have you used ThunderShirt? I'd love to hear about it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ThunderShirt in exchange for my honest opinion.