Post image for Square Wheels (Product Reviews)

There was a time when I could keep eight plates spinning at the end of eight poles all at once while balancing a checkbook.

Okay. I lie. I’ve never been able to balance a checkbook.

As for the spinning plates thing, admittedly that’s a metaphor for being able to juggle a lot of things at the same time. It took an energy level I no longer choose to expend in so many different directions, but while I’ve cut down on the number of things I have going, the projects themselves require more time and greater concentration: Staying current with my writing, maintaining a small business, showing my dogs, and cycling to stave off decrepitude.

Most people don’t have to think very hard while riding a bike, but I do.  I’ll never completely shake off the nasty accident my husband and I had a couple of years ago. I got my first “shiner” in that wreck, and two weeks later took it to Westminster where I learned that men don’t like to walk alongside a woman with a black eye. I guess it’s a “guy thing.”

Eukanuba, Westminster, the flu, and six weeks of lousy weather kept me off a road bike until yesterday – and while it felt great to be “back in the saddle again,” I often felt like this kid as I slugged my way through twenty one gears and unforgiving hills.

It wasn’t pretty, but I like to think I’m on the road to a trimmer and fitter me. Do I look like I’ve lost weight to you in the picture below?

Created, and shared here, with permission of the artist, Eric Tryon

Created by Eric Tryon, reprinted with permission

In addition to my cycling, something else I’ve neglected are Product Reviews for DogKnobit.  Luckily, the timing of my Puli’s biological clock afforded me a good opportunity to test something I’d been reading about: Pheromone based calming sprays, but first, meet the real product testers:

“Katie” is on the left, and at the right is “Maci.” A few weeks ago, they had a love that “dared not speak its name.” Plainly put, Katie was in season and Maci lost his mind.

Because I work from home, I was able to keep a vigilant eye on the pair, but if you’ve ever had to share a house with a hormonal dog, you know there’s a week when you don’t sleep. I became desperate for a remedy. The old stand-by’s – Vicks Vapor Rub, vanilla, chlorophyll – these have never worked for me.  I remembered reading about dog appeasing pheromones said to calm dogs with anxiety-related problems ranging from a fear of thunderstorms to visiting the vet.  Secreted by the sebaceous glands found in nursing bitches, these pheromones induce feelings of well-being and comfort to nursing puppies. French veterinarian, Patrick Pageat, wondered if the same pheromones could ease anxiety and stress in adult dogs based on the theory that dogs remember smells through adulthood. A study done in 2005 showed that puppies in a training class fitted with pheromone collars were later found to have less behavioral problems and were more sociable than puppies who didn’t get the collar. But in a 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a review of DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) concluded that while researchers couldn’t definitively declare that pheromone therapy didn’t work, neither could they say that it had any benefits based on their best evidence (Frank,D. Beauchamp,G. Palestrini,C. Systematic review of the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs. J.Am.Vet.Med.Assoc., 2010, 236, 12, 1308-1316).

I didn’t care. I wanted to sleep and was ready to try anything.  I staggered into my nearest pet supply store, leaned on the counter, and weakly said, “help me.” Thinking back on it, I suspect now I must have sounded like the tiny-voiced, human-headed insect in the 1958 movie, The Fly. 

“Help me?”

I bought an 8 ounce bottle of Nature Vet’s “Quiet Moments” spray because, to be honest with you, that’s what the store carried. Like any good dog person, I inspected the ingredient panel:  Special Proprietary Blend of Fragrance Extracts (Simulated Canine Pheromones) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (0.5%)Rosemary Oil (0.2%) Clove Oil (0.1%). Inert Ingredients:  Purified Water. It wasn’t lost on me that rosemary and clove oils carry a hefty punch in the fragrance department making me wonder about the pheromone’s actual contribution to the product. I didn’t care. Blubbering from a lack of sleep, I would’ve used the spray had the ingredient panel read: putrified fish (48%) Stench of Wench (0.13%) and dirty socks (.07%).

"Quiet Moments"

“Quiet Moments”

As per directions, I sprayed the area my dogs would be occupying ten minutes before lights out, and then we went to bed.

It was the first full night of sleep I’d had in a week. During the day, the dogs resumed their howling and whining, but at night, we all rested comfortably.

As a rule, I’m skeptical of quick fixes and products that claim to distract dogs from anxiety, let alone hormonal urges, but I have no other explanation other than that the product worked even in the face of inconclusive scientific studies. At under $7.00, the spray might be worth trying out if your dog could use “chilling.” If you have used this spray or a similar product, I’d like to hear from you.

I hadn’t been able to find the right time to test “Calming Collars” on my dogs, in large part because my dogs aren’t afraid of thunderstorms, trips to the vet or being groomed.  I didn’t think herb-filled collars alone would pack enough “punch” to deal with the challenges of dogs gripped by hormones, but after Katie went out of season, I tried one of the collars on “Maci.” I wanted to see if it would take the edge off a dog who thought that any minute, she might come back into season and he didn’t want to miss a minute.  The Calming Collars concept is based on aromatherapy, each collar filled with a special blend of dried herbs that smells wonderful. After wearing the collar for an hour, the dog smelled wonderful.   “Maci” did seem to rest a bit better with it on.

Raggedy and "rank" from a week of lust, here Maci is wearing his Calming Collar. Wait, let me help you find it.

Raggedy and “rank” from a week of lust, here Maci is wearing his Calming Collar. Wait, let me help you find it.

 

Here's the collar!

Here’s the collar!

Each fabric collar is handmade, filled with a precise amount of dried herbs, and fitted with a plastic buckle to allow for adjustments. The inventor, Deborah Mendez, offers a refund of the purchase price if the patented collar fails to perform for you, but I’m offering another way for you to score a collar for your own anxious dog at home.

The red collar can be yours!

The brand new red collar can be yours!

Simply submit your name and contact e-mail address to KnobNots@KnobNots.com for a drawing to be held May 5th. Your contact information will not be shared (in fact, I’m going to shred all the names when the drawing is over and compost my garden with them). The collar will be shipped to the winner the next day.

Simple, right?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti Thorp April 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Ok, I don’t really expect to win. But I wanted you to know I really read it!

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

And bless you for reading it! That makes you and my sister!! And I’m entering you in the contest. So there.

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Dawn mcnamara April 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Thanks for trying this out. I’m going to get one for the Zig to see if he can behave better at our training sessions.

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Let me know what your opinion is when you’ve tried it out?

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Deanna Vick April 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Can’t wait to try both products! Thanks for letting your dogs be the guinea pigs.

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for writing, Deanna – I can’t wait to hear from other people who’ve tried either of these products – it’s always nice to know if what I experienced was a fluke or the real deal!

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Tom Mahoney April 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Did the spray work for more than one night, with a respray of course, or was it a novelty thing? Same question for the collar!

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I used the spray every night for a week, Tom. It’s hard to know if it was a coincidence, a novelty or whattever, and honestly, I didn’t care at the time – but I AM keen to hear from other people who used it to hear their own results. As for the collar, I’m less sure. A fearful dog would have been a better test case, but I’m just as glad I don’t have one. Still, I’m hoping someone who DOES have a nervous dog enters the drawing and wins!

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Carri April 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

It would be easy to test, for the spray. It’s very easy to find both clove oil and rosemary oil in any health food store. Just add them to some water and presto! I just had the exact same problem as you with my dogs and I will try it next time. Clove oil is used to euthanize fish. I would first read if it had any known health issue for canines.

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm

A wonderful idea for a personal “control” group study, Carri! If you do it, let me know what you decided?

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pam cleary April 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

this is amazing, thanks for sharing. i would love to try it on my dogs

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Susi April 30, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Of course, Pam! I’m still a little skeptical and would feel better to have more research behind both the spray and the collars – but anecdotal evidence works for me, as well. If you ever try it, let me know how things went?

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Heather May 1, 2013 at 1:39 am

Ahhh … I remember those days well. That one week every five months when I would threaten to neuter my dog with my bare hands. The days when his brain was so completely migrated south – I seriously doubted it would ever find its way back to between his ears. The days when the only reason I wasn’t worried about him not eating was because I wasn’t eating either – I was too busy yelling at him to shut up.

I always knew when his daughter was on her way out. The old man would sleep and eat for the first time in three days.

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Susi May 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

It’s hard to FORGET those days, Heather (lol). It’s more like a scar than a memory, right?

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Jacki May 1, 2013 at 9:00 am

Katie’s travelling crate was sprayed with D.A.P (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) spray, before she was sent on her way across the big pond to you. You judge. We also always spray the inside of new owners cars, and the blankets they use to wrap a puppy in befor they take a baby pup home from here, get a lot of good feed back.

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Susi May 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

It was??? She arrived happy, content and ready to face a new world (you saw her tail wagging in the crate even before we freed her, right?) I always thought it was due to excellent breeding – and now I know it was excellent breeding AND the D.A.P!

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Suzanne Orban-Stagle May 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Love reading your blogs!
Going to get some spray..the Frenchies have been wyld as Spring has sprung!

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Susi May 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Hey, I appreciate that, Suzanne! And as an added incentive, “Katie’s” breeder wrote (see above) to say that she always sprays D.A.P. in the puppy crates before they leave to go to new homes. Katie arrived from England happy, content and rearing to go!

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Linda January 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

ok, I just sent a reg. email ! hope that was ok too!

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