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Dog Poop Pickup, Automated?

No matter how you scoop it, scrape it or rake it, dog poop pickup is a messy, smelly business. Or, a necessary household chore for those who choose to do it themselves. Regardless of how you decide to handle your pet waste removal needs, one thing’s for sure: have dog will poop. And, poop they do. Often. Most dogs poop at least 2-3 times per day on average. If pickup isn’t done properly and consistently, you’ll soon be looking at a backyard full of trouble (not to mention insects, rodents and disease). All fun stuff.

Over the years, there have been several attempts by businesses and inventors alike to put forth a product to the huge (and loyal) dog-owner market that solves the pain of picking up where your dog leaves off. There’s just one thing. These products, most of them at least, didn’t or don’t make cleaning up after our dogs much if any easier. The products, while still manually operated, cleaned and maintained like the PooTrap – Magic Poop Collector or the Super Scooper don’t make the lives of dog owners much easier, nor do they save time. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite with many of these types of products.

From the YouTube product videos above, notice how much setup for both products is required. Also notice that once the poop is collected, you still must manually remove, tie off and discard the dog waste bag. Why pay for a product that demands more time than just simply picking up the poop with a standard disposable dog waste bag yourself? Gimmicky? Yes. Did they sell? Probably. However, if you go to the PooTrap website URL, you’ll notice it’s no more. You can buy the Super Scooper on Amazon.

These days, we’re all about automation. If you’re living in Silicon Valley (where we’re located) you see it all day long. Another venture-backed startup pops up claiming to disrupt or change (usually automate) the current status quo. That’s innovation, right? Sometimes they knock it out of the park. Most times they don’t—and fail.

And, while we’re all for automating and simplifying, usually on the business side of things, there have been some “tech startups” set out to automate the cleanup side of things. A couple “startups” have received a significant amount of publicity due to the claims they were making to solve the problem of dog waste pickup we’re discussing. Continue reading and you’ll soon learn why tech startups are in quotes above.

Last summer, in July of 2016, an on-demand pooper scooper app was getting a lot of publicity among many of the popular tech/media sites like the Washington PostThe Next Web and others. The app, appropriately called, Pooper, was positioned as the Uber for dog poop pickup. So, you have the “Pooper”, the one who’s out for a walk with his/her dog. And there’s the “Scooper”, the one who arrives at the scene to bag the poop and take it away. How does it work you ask? Simple. The Pooper’s dog does his business, the Pooper then opens the app, snaps a pic of the poop and submits it. A Scooper is then notified via the app and arrives to scoop the poop. Genius idea, right? Well, news of the new app went viral and gained attention from investors, as well as people who were interested in making some extra money driving to your location and picking up a pile of your dog’s poop.

It turned out that this “app” was actually a huge pile of crap. Pun intended. The creators of Pooper are two web designers living in Los Angeles, CA. They never had any intentions of actually building or launching the app. Their intentions were to make fun of the ever-growing demand economy, and how there’s an app for just about anything these days from on-demand rides, food delivery, and shopping services.

“Pooper is, in fact, a piece of art that is satirizing our app-obsessed world. Specifically, the increasing reliance on the gig-based economy to do stuff for us that we could easily do for ourselves,” says Becker, a Pooper “co-founder”.

The next and most recent company to automate dog poop pickup is a Dutch “startup” called Dogdrones. What does Dogdrones do you ask? Two Dogdrones – Watchdog 1 (WD1) and Patroldog 1 (PD1) combine drone technology in the air and on the ground to work together to combat the huge problem of undisposed dog poop plaguing the Netherlands.

With a camera and thermal imaging, WD1 is scanning its environment. The drone is able to detect dog poop while it still has the same body temperature of the dog. WD1 produces a heat map which shows the location of the dog poop. The drone translates the position into GPS coordinates and sends them directly to the ground drone PD1. By receiving GPS coordinates, PD1 gets the command to immediately dispose of the dog poop.

The idea behind the Dogdrones was not necessarily to market to residences or homeowners themselves, but to the municipalities. One of the co-founders states dog poop is not only annoying but also a serious problem. “In the Netherlands, every year 100 million kilos of dog poo are not disposed of.”

What a great idea. Now we can all walk our dogs, let them do their business in public and the Dogdrones will swoop in to pick it up and save the day. Sounds great in theory. But, as I do, I’m sure you see a plethora of problems and legalities this will run into.

Even if you’re in love with the idea, don’t get your hopes up too soon. It turns out this “startup” was an April Fool’s prank. However, the concept was intended to shed light on a huge problem and relay a message to dog owners and non-dog owners alike. The problem being the excessive amount of poop not being properly disposed of and the adverse consequences and health risks associated.

It’s interesting the amount of attention things involving dogs and poop garner—together or on their own. And while both of these “products” may induce humor, they both set out to make a point and send a message.

At Bombs Away, it’s exciting to think that we do have future plans to add a layer of technology to a low-tech service—be it streamlining communication, introducing new products and services, or enhancing the customer experience. The great thing about being located in Silicon Valley is you’re close to innovation and the people pushing it. We look forward to opportunities to work with others to further each other’s chances of success.

While we do know of (and welcome) some companies building widgets and other technology to solve the dog poop pickup conundrum, it looks like good old-fashioned human ability, manual labor and a good sense of social consciousness win for now.

So, folks, until we have robots like Rosie from the Jetsons (which is not far off) please remember to either pick up after your pets, always. Or, hire a company or someone to do it for you!

 

Get Hard, Stay Hard!

dogs wet stool

If you read the title of this post, you might think it’s about treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). Nope, it’s definitely not. We’re sure your spam folder is already full of that. This post is about hardening or firming up your dog’s wet stool.

That said, we’ve all seen it — and, unfortunately, smelled it — the unformed, semi-liquid, ultra stinky, almost-impossible-to-pickup dog bomb. Yuck! No one ever looks forward to the chore of picking up where their pet left off. No one except us, that is. And, it’s all the more reason to put it off when it can’t just quickly be bagged or scooped up. Dealing with this is just down-right disgusting! However, it must be done… all bombs away!

Let’s take a second and discuss why this problem occurs in the first place. Logic and basic science tell us, once we understand a problem or issue, we can usually find a solution or remedy. For this particular problem, put in it’s simplest form — what goes in must come out. Simple, right? If you feed your dog wet — usually canned dog food — you will see the same consistency on the receiving end. Let’s just hope it happens to be on your grass and not the concrete patio area, deck or special landscaping you may have in your yard. However, there are other issues that contribute to this problem, and, it’s not just wet food.

The quality of your dog’s stool is an excellent indicator of gastrointestinal health, so when stools turn runny and funky, it’s time to give Rover something to tame his upset stomach.

Whatever it is that’s ailing your dog’s digestion – whether it’s an unidentified edible object (UEO) he/she picked up off the street on a walk or found in the yard, the unfortunate side effect of a prescription medication, or just the food he’s being fed daily – things can usually be corrected with slight dietary adjustments. The best part is, what works for dogs also works for humans, too!

OK, so, let’s help you get your dog’s $#it together! Pun definitely intended.

STOP feeding your dog wet, canned/pouched dog food — or anything not introduced in a solid state. Remember that wet diets (canned or pouched) contain around 75% water, whereas dry diets are around 10% moisture. This higher moisture content translates into wetter, more bulky stools. This will make a big impact on the volume (reduces it) and moisture content (much harder and firmer) of the stool. Most of the time, incorporating just this small change will solve the issue, or at least firm it up to a point where it can actually be picked up and discarded.

Here’s what to do instead: take your time to switch your dog over to a new diet — usually a minimum of 4 – 5 days — gradually introducing the new diet into your dog’s existing food and cutting back on the original diet. This gives the bowel flora and fauna that aid digestion a chance to adapt.

dogs wet stool

If switching from wet to dry food doesn’t work, try canned pumpkin. Yes, the same stuff you eat in pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. You can find it at any supermarket or Target stores. Organic options are available as well, but will cost slightly more and possibly harder to find. There’s also brands (like the one shown in image above) that are manufactured/distributed specifically for pets. They will cost a bit more as well.

A few tablespoons of this creamy, orange stuff, added to your dog’s food, will help soothe digestive upset and firm up his/her stool wonderfully. There’s no need to heat it up or do anything else to it – it’s already pre-cooked and ready to serve. Most dogs love the taste, but if you want to make pumpkin extra-palatable, add a dash of ground cinnamon as this will not interfere with the pumpkin’s stool-hardening abilities, and it adds a nice flavor.

Of course, choosing a well-balanced diet has its benefits. Do this, by looking for a food(s) that lists meat as the main ingredient, but actual “meat” and not “meat derivatives”, “meat offal” or “meat by-products”. (OFFAL are the parts of an animal which are used as food but which are not skeletal muscle. The term literally means “off fall”, or the pieces which fall from a carcass when it’s butchered. Originally the word applied only to the entrails. It now covers insides including the HEART, LIVER, and LUNGS [collectively known as the pluck], all abdominal organs and extremities: TAILS, FEET, and HEAD including BRAINS and TONGUE. In the USA the expressions “organ meats” or “variety meats” are used instead.)

What to do instead: choose white meats (low fat) such as chicken, turkey or white fish. Look for a low number of ingredients, since the food is likely to contain less processed ingredients and preservatives, and contain ingredients closer to the actual food. Combine with carbohydrates such as rice, wheat, or oats, rather than soy or soy products.

Lastly, avoid giving your dog fatty foods. Do not give fried, fast foods to your dog. Usually fried commercial fast foods are fried using palm oil; this oil is hard to digest and can easily turn rancid. Bad fats can form a layer in the intestine, causing your dog to have watery stools.

And, as always, with any issues or problems that continue to persist or even get worse, immediately consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to check out your dog and diagnose his/her’s individual issues and set a plan in place to address your dog’s specifically.

Doing It Differently

New Years resolutions

Tis’ the season! It’s that time of year when everyone starts thinking about the New Year ahead. And, more specifically, all the new year’s resolutions that go hand in hand. We always dive into these resolutions with the best of intentions. But, can you actually say you’ve been successful at reaching your goals year-after-year? No? I thought so. I’m no better.

If we look at a few typical new year’s resolutions—the ones we’re all guilty of attempting halfheartedly one year or another: workout/get in shape; eat healthier/eat less junk or fast food; and try to save/not spend too much money.

 

I’d say those are the big 3. Feel free to add any you’d like to in the comments section of this post. The point I’m trying to make is that we spend so much energy, time and feeling into cutting back or cutting out. What if instead we spent that energy on resolutions that gave more. No, I’m not saying eat more or spend more money. I’m talking about the intangible things like time, love, effort, friendship. Things that can’t be bought. I guess that could be debatable. But, you see my point. The statistics don’t support common new year’s resolutions’ goals thinking. Check out these stats on the most popular resolutions, to the percentage of Americans who attempt them, to those who are actually successful. You may be surprised what you read.

Now, what if instead of the typical big 3 new year’s resolutions above, we did something like this: open your home/heart to another human and/or pet; volunteer more—maybe at a local food bank/shelter or a local animal rescue; make it a point to go out of your way to help someone who could never return the favor. And, repeat.

Things look a bit different when put into this perspective. I know these concepts are nothing new. But it’s more about selflessness rather than selfishness, and changing the way we think about what a resolution really is, or can be. Why not continue into the new year with the already-present spirit of giving? Too quickly the holidays come and go and so does our spirit of selflessness and good will towards others. It’s very temporary. Let’s change that.

So, here are a few ideas of new, New Year’s resolutions that you may want to consider coming into the new year ahead. I personally have volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank. It’s a great local cause, and actually a lot of fun if you get your friends involved. If I remember correctly we had a group of about 10-15 people. We did it the week before Christmas. It was basically sorting and boxing different kinds of fruits and food items that were to be distributed to local shelters and families in need. The time spent volunteering was about 3 hours. It was a great bonding experience as we got to socialize and meet other groups doing the same.

Maybe you’d rather spend your free time around some furry four-legged creatures. If that’s the case, you’re in luck! Pet adoption rates peak during the holidays, and local centers can really use your help. Check out this list of Bay Area animal rescues that would love to have you.

Or, it could simply be just taking an extra moment to do something nice for another human being. Preferably one you don’t know. Maybe you pay the car behind you’s bridge toll. Maybe you buy lunch for someone who’s hungry. It doesn’t have to involve money at all. Get creative. Even something as simple as holding the door open for someone tends to illicit a smile. 🙂

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  -John Bunyan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays, Travel and the Jet-Setting Pet

pet travel
This pooch gets the full treatment at one of many top-rated pet hotels/resorts.

The holiday season is officially here folks (all humans, canines and felines). I don’t ever want to offend a reader by not acknowledging their presence. Seriously, you’d be surprised at how many dogs read these posts. Still haven’t got the data back on the cats however. Oh well.

So, Thanksgiving’s less than a week away, what’s everybody’s plan for the holidays? Are you traveling? Maybe internationally? Do other countries even celebrate Thanksgiving? Hold on, I need Google. BRB…. Ok, I’m back. And, it seems we’re not the only ones who celebrate Thanksgiving (or a variation of it). In seven other countries: Germany, Japan, Canada, Grenada, Liberia, the Netherlands and Norfolk Island celebrate some form of this holiday. Never stop learning, right? Maybe you already knew that. I’m not going to get into the specifics on how and when they celebrate—because I don’t want to get off topic any more than I already have. But, if you’d like to read more on that click here.

That said, I’m going to place a safe bet and say many, if not all of you reading this are pet owners. Surprised yet? So, when you travel out of town for the holidays, what do you do with your pets? Do you take them with you? Do you hire a pet sitter to stay at or stop by your home regularly? How about pet hotels? Kennels? (I hope not. But I don’t judge!) Or, do you take your furry family members with you? I’d love to know what other people do in this particular situation.

I recently stumbled upon this website called The Jet Set Pets. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s a blog that’s updated daily and offers an abundance of information pertaining to pet-friendly hotels and airlines worldwide, the latest pet products, advice on traveling with a pet, discussions on pet travel, and other resources for pet parents to share experiences and photos of their furry friends with the rest of the community there. Check it out!

Let’s take it a step further since finances will/do often play a factor in the decision of where Rover and Garfield stay for the holidays. I say Garfield because I think he’s one of the more well-known felines. (From my generation.) Am I dating myself? Maybe. Yes, probably. Anyway, I know pet hotels are not cheap, especially if you buy the penthouse suite with the Animal Planet network! Add some extras like two  or three walks per day instead of the default one, and a treat after dinner not just breakfast. Or maybe you prefer your pooch get escorted around in a limo, have access to a full-service salon as well as surf lessons. If that’s the case, this place is for you (and your pet)!

Funny thing is, I know a few folks who earn only a modest income but spare absolutely no expense when it comes to pampering and splurging on their pets. Seriously, their own children get jealous by the amount of indulgence bestowed upon those pets. True animal lovers I guess.

Personally, I’ve never left my pet at a pet hotel. Not that I wouldn’t, I just haven’t yet. Usually it’s not too hard for me to find a friend that’s willing too board my little girl for a few days or more. Once, and only once, I left my dog at a Petsmart® boarding facility. I think most Petsmart® retail stores have them. It was only for a few days and my dog was still kind of a puppy at the time. She didn’t like it. Yes, she did tell me after the fact when I came to pick her up. Not in so many words, but now when we go in the vicinity of that place she freaks out and starts shaking like a nervous Chihuahua! She is part Chihuahua but that’s not my point.

A few years ago I took a trip to Miami, Florida with a girl friend of mine. No, not girlfriend. Girl friend. Now that that’s clarified…. She took her cat with us on the plane (in the cabin with everyone else). It was a Sphynx. A very odd looking hairless cat with huge balls that hung to it’s knees. Friendly nonetheless.

Ok, so the problem I had with this is that the cat stayed with us in the hotel room. For one week! That’s not the kicker. The hotel strictly forbade pets on the property. Little did they know. She kept the cat in the hotel room (with us) for a week. Mind you we were out and about most of the time. But when we were in the hotel room it stunk! Badly! The litter box was made out of something not intended for litter (and cat poop).

On top of that, the front desk was getting complaints of an animal, specifically a cat constantly meowing close by. I can go on about this and other incidents that happened on this trip—but I won’t for your sake—because I know we all have things to do other than read my rants. However, what I will do is give you some resources to check out and what Delta Airlines requires if traveling their airline with your pet(s).

Back to my intention with this post… I want to hear about what other pet owners do around the holidays when it comes to traveling—with or without your fur babies. Where do you leave them? Who do you leave them with? Do your pets travel? Do they travel well? I’ve told you mine. Now you tell me yours. Please leave your comments on this page.

Oh, and, of course, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I’m saying it now because I won’t be blogging that day. I’m sure you’re all very disappointed. #TurkeyComa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Dog’s HOWL-O-WEEN Survival Guide

Halloween dog

Yes, Halloween can be lots of fun for humans. But, make no bones about it, it can be paws-itively horrifying for your furry, four-legged friends. Starting with the random costumed visitors dropping by throughout the night—to you and/or your kids playing dress-up making him/her look like a ridiculously silly stuffed animal—these can all induce fear, anxiety and even agitation. Our dogs are creatures of habit, so our goal as responsible (and loving) pet owners is to limit the number of variables which will cause upset to our pets. Listed below are a few tips and resources to help your dog (and you) survive HOWL-O-WEEN!

1. Don’t Be Mean!

I’m gonna start with this one because it’s the easiest thing to just NOT do. Yet for some reason many folks think it’s funny to scare their dog while dressed in costume. Doing this causes the fight or flight instinct. While you may think you know your dog’s temperament, you may be unpleasantly surprised at his/her reaction when they’re introduced to something they’ve never seen before, possibly resulting in aggressive behavior. SO, DON’T DO THIS AT HOME!

2. Use a Crate or Leash

I have 3 dogs. And when that doorbell rings, well, let’s just say I’m not the only one it drives crazy. The entire neighborhood hears it. They’ve said so. Aside from the chaos of dog’s barking, howling and running to the door, you have a responsibility to keep those trick-or-treaters safe. All foreseeable problems solved by crating or leashing your dog in another part of the home such as a spare bedroom. Better yet, if you’re not going to be the one at home handing out candy, take your buddy out for the evening to one of these Bay Area Halloween 2016 pet events.

3. Do Not Leave Halloween Candy Out

Candy and sweets in general are not healthy for dogs and can cause digestive problems—while chocolate contains methylxanthines—which can be toxic to dogs. If you know or feel your dog ingested chocolate, you can calculate potential toxicity levels here. Or, for more serious situations contact the Pet Poison Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have some of your buddy’s favorite treats close by so he/she doesn’t feel left out of the pack when all the kids are enjoying theirs. If you feel your dog ingested something they weren’t supposed to, keep an eye out for signs of distress such as: vomiting, diarrhea, refusing food, unable to keep food down, straining during defecation, blood in the stool, unable to get comfortable when resting, pacing and overall lethargy.

4. Don’t Leave Pets Outside on Halloween

As pet lovers and owners, we could not possibly think about harming any animal, let alone our own. Unfortunately, there are sadistic, evil “pranksters” (more like criminals), that seek out and harm animals—especially on Halloween. Black cats are at the highest risk of harm on the days leading up to, and proceeding Halloween. So, please keep all pets—even outdoor pets—inside or in the garage this Halloween season.

5. Mandatory ID Tags

If your dog is not averse to playing dress up on Halloween, be sure to keep their tags fastened on their collar at all times. It’s also important that you keep your pets tags updated with current information: pet’s name, address (this is optional as you may not want this info displayed, but highly recommended) and owner’s phone number. There’s even an app called Finding Rover that utilizes facial recognition software to help find lost dogs. Microchipping can also be helpful and may even be required in some states. However, this practice has been deemed inhumane by some pet owners and organizations.

Well folks, I hope I’ve put down some valuable resources for you to pick up this Halloween. Much of which is common sense. Treat your furry friends the way you’d like to be treated, and have a very fun, safe HOWL-O-WEEN!!