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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Horror, or something like it

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love this time of year. I am currently taking a break from a horror-movie marathon, and can't help but feel somewhat gleeful (and okay, giddy) that they are so prevalent right now. My favorite movies involve the supernatural and actually have a plot and a budget. While I do believe there is a place for B horror films, I don't really dig them. I'm a thinky person with a need for mental stimulation, and I don't feel the least bit challenged by movies that were created with the 'Soft-core porn+demented serial-killer+increasingly-bloody deaths = gross' formula, whether it be at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, a beach, a mansion of some kind, etc. B-O-R-I-N-G. And let's face it, unbelievably unimaginative. I would like to comment here that we have sadly low standards in terms of what we consider entertainment, but I think in this era of "Jersey Shore" and "Honey Boo Boo", that would be entirely redundant. No, I don't personally watch any of that nonsense, either. But I digress.

My point is that I have a fortuitously-timed, scheduled lazy day. The sky is heavy and grey, I can hear the hissing of leaves being tossed around, the smell of falling leave and rotting vegetation is delicious, pumpkin everything is for sale and my daughter just went crazy baking 'nanner' breads. All is right in the world today, and it deserves to be acknowledged.

One would think, because of past experience, that ghosts and dark shadows in every storefront would scare the crap out of me. Not so much. When you've lived through the real thing, paper cutouts and whimsical imagery is even more fun. Okay, I'll admit to taking exception to the fake spiders. They've ALWAYS scared the crap out of me, and my fear of them always has been and remains borderline-clinical. But if you really want to scare me, make the phone ring. If you want to terrify me beyond reason, trap me in a dark room with a stone wall. The things that really scare me, though my fear may be utterly justified, would seem silly to anyone else. The things that scare most other people fill me with mild amusement. It's a quirk.

In honor of this beloved month of October, I have started to write a short story for this blog. I say 'short', but my inability to be truly succinct means that it's probably going to run over three or four days. I'm having a blast writing it, and I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you are enjoying this spooky month (of course the beautiful leaves and the cool nights too;-) as much as I am.

Until next time:-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Product Review: Cozy Horse Dog Coats

Dober-model Desi in a polar fleece snood
This review has been a long time coming. I actually discovered this awesome company a couple of years ago, quite by accident. I was walking my dog down the street one cold winter day, when a couple in an SUV pulled over to talk to me. They had an adorable dober-girl in their back seat, and they just wanted to say "hello" to a fellow dobe-enthusiast. It wasn't the first time this sort of thing has happened, nor would it be the last. Dobes are not common in my area, and the folks who are owned by them love to meet others. This chance meeting brought with it a bonus: My dog was wearing a coat that didn't really fit and wasn't exactly warm enough for our Vermont winters, so these folks gave me their recommendation; a company called Cozy Horse

They took the time to show me their Cozy Horse Dober-coat and I was instantly sold. It was warm and well-made, and even had a hole for the D-ring on their dog's harness. A new coat wasn't exactly in the budget, but these folks assured me that Cozy Horse was reasonably priced and well worth it. I decided to check it out.

As my friends know, I am fussy about exactly two things: dog stuff and horse stuff. When I looked at the site(s) (Cozy Horse has an Angelfire Site too) I was blown away by all the options and choices; even more so by the affordability of Cozy Horse products: not cheap, but certainly reasonable and actually rather exceptional for what you're getting. As the name implies, Cozy Horse makes horse blankets. I am used to purchasing dog coats from horse blanket companies so I wasn't surprised that they also offered dog coats. My usual experience has been fairly mixed; the dog coats are usually made out of the same durable materials as the horse blankets, but the fit has often ranged from adequate to unbelievably wrong. One company made a coat in size extra large that looked as though it MIGHT fit a 40 pound dog, another made a size medium that my 98 pound dog could swim in. Needless to say, I have often been a bit disappointed in dog coats made by horse blanket companies. But here is where Cozy Horse is far beyond superior: they are a CUSTOM company.
Custom made for a Saluki!

After some easy, prompt and pleasant correspondence with the company's owner, Claudia Jones, I was ready to place my first order. I measured Murphy carefully and picked out all the specs in my usual compulsive manner. I like to dress Murphy in purple, but because he's a boy I thought two-tone (with black) might be more manly; horseblanket-style straps meant I wouldn't have to worry about Murph peeing on a strap, and just a bit of reflective piping made us a bit more visible on a dark winter evening. This coat featured a medium-weight fill and a smooth taffeta lining. I also ordered a black polar fleece snood for those really cold days when Dober-ears are especially vulnerable, and a fleece-lined, reflective martingale collar, also in purple and black. We were good to go.

I expected a longer wait than the three weeks it actually took for my custom order. I was already very impressed with both the service and the turn around time, and I hadn't even opened the box yet. When I did, I found my beautiful new items wrapped in purple tissue paper with some business cards and dog treats. It was like an early Christmas:-) I was so impressed by how well made everything was; the materials were great quality, the stitching was careful and even. Everything was exactly what I wanted and fit perfectly. It was a unique and wonderful retail experience:-)

These folks make everything "dog": Great collars, service dog vests, donation dog vests, tug toys, coats of all types and configurations and much more. The possibilities for customizing these items are almost endless too, no bulk order required. After my initial purchase, I realized the need for both a rain coat (bright yellow, of course, with reflective piping) and a fall-weight fleece (in soft grey). I was equally pleased with both of these purchases, so of course when it was time to buy a fundraising vest, I went back to Cozy Horse. Once again, I found myself impressed by the quality and attention to detail, apparent even in something as simple as a donation dog vest.
Murphy, happy and warm in his custom coat

I have long been in search of a good dog coat company. My doggy-life began with greyhounds. Their lean bodies and sparse coats mean that buying a coat for them is not optional, but necessary. Their unique shape also presented a fitting challenge. Back then (almost 20 years ago) people simply didn't 'dress' their dogs for any real purpose and after searching high and low and only finding fru fru clothing (?!) for small dogs, I ultimately ended up making my own, notably NOT fru fru, dog coats. And they were...okay. As the popularity of greyhounds as pets (and the internet) soared, so did the number of dog coat companies that catered to this unique breed. But of course the coats were crazy-expensive. Even so, I succumbed and bought my hounds nice coats. Then I became involved with Dobermans and the search began all over again. I spent a lot of money on "adequate" and "not-quite-right", unfortunately.

There is a misconception that "tough dogs don't need coats", but it IS a misconception. A single-coated dog simply does not have the ability to keep itself warm in cold temperatures, no matter how tough they may be. Add wind and/or wet and the problem is compounded. I know that my dog couldn't tolerate the cold long enough to get the exercise he needs without his warm coat. It DOES make a real difference, and fortunately more people are realizing this and fulfilling this need for their dogs.

And now, there's no excuse and there are real options, even for service dogs. Cozy Horse is now working with Bold Lead Designs (see my reviews here: Part 1 and Part 2 ) to provide custom coats that work with BLD's service dog harnesses. What a great idea! Now your dog can dress for the weather without it interfering with your dog's job, AND he/she can look great too!
Cozy Horse and Bold Lead Designs...perfect!

When I saw these two companies working together it almost made me was like canine-retail-perfection overload! So much excellent quality and awesome service all in one place- it was almost too much:-) Now I have to buy another stunning Cozy Horse coat to fit over Murphy's harness. Bummer;-) Of course it won't replace the purple one he wears for play; this will be the third winter with the purple coat but it still looks brand new. Even after washing, Murphy's coats haven't  faded, become lumpy, shrunk or lost their shape. The soft fleece hasn't pilled.  Cozy Horse items are as durable as they are attractive. I could write a book about all the great options, but instead I encourage you to visit the sites and experience for yourself the excitement of 'designing' exactly what you want, knowing the fit will be perfect and it will last.

I am so glad I found Cozy Horse, and I have nothing negative to say. The service is the best, the choices are infinite and the products hold their value. This is the last coat company I'll ever need to find to keep my dogs warm and dry. Why settle for 'adequate' and 'not-quite-right' when you can have exactly what you want, and probably for less?