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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from:

Our Pirate Tristan

Tristan the husky as a pirate for Halloween 2009

Tristan is a pirate for Halloween 2009.

Our Potato Grandbury (with butter pats)

Grandbury is a potato for Halloween 2009

Somewhere along the way Grandbury started being called potato. Sweet potato, my potato, my lovely potato. What can I say? I love a potato and I love Grandbury.

and Our Fairy Winni

Winni is a fairy for Halloween.

Do you dress up your pack?

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Blog Action Day: Global Warming – Toxic Chemical Contribution

Pet parents are concerned about the environment and responsible pet product manufacturers are sitting up and listening. From the natural resources and energy it takes to create a either a toy, treat, or accessory, to the raw materials used, manufacturers are wise to consider the final impact their product has on the environment, the pets who use them, and the buyers who are becoming increasingly selective with their purchasing dollars. Most alarming, the very same toxic chemicals that are damaging our planet and contributing to global warming are finding their way into our homes and into our pets and children.

Thankfully, there are organizations that are leading the way when it comes to discovering the hidden dangers that await our beloved companion animals. The Ecology Center, a nonprofit research organization, has released the first-ever guide to toxic chemicals in pet products ( Researchers tested over 400 pet products, including pet beds, chew toys, stuffed toys, collars, leashes and tennis balls.

Photo of a Coleman Pet Bed

Here is a snapshot of their frightening results:

45% of pet products tested by had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemicals, including:

  • One-quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead.
  • 7% of all pet products had lead levels greater than 300 ppm — the current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for lead in children’s products.
  • Nearly half of pet collars had detectable levels of lead; with 27% exceeding 300 ppm — the CPSC limit for lead in children’s products.
  • One half (48%) of tennis balls tested had detectable levels of lead. Tennis balls intended for pets were much more likely to contain lead. Sports tennis balls contained no lead.

These findings are part of a larger effort to test toxic chemicals in everyday products. In addition to pet products the Ecology Center tested cars, children’s carseats, back-to-school supplies, women’s handbags and more.  All of the results can be found at

“These chemical hazards are as real for pets as they are for humans,” said Gearhart.  “While there are some protections in place for children, there is no regulatory system in place to protect our pets from these hazards.”

To sample the pet products, experts at the Ecology Center used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, which identifies the elemental composition of any material in less than 60 seconds.

Bromine: Associated with the use of brominated flame retardants, BFRs are added to plastics in order to impart fire resistance.  Levels of some BFRs in cats are up to 23-times higher than humans. Some BFRs have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes, and other health problems.

Lead: Lead is sometimes used as an additive in plastics.  Exposure can lead to a number of potential health effects including brain damage, and problems with the kidneys, blood, nerves, and reproductive system.  It can also cause learning and behavioral problems.  Lead exposure and poisoning in pets is common and can be an indicator of lead hazards in homes and products.

Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act

In response to increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bobby Rush are expected to introduce a new bill this Congressional session to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals.   These reforms would phase out the most dangerous chemicals from the manufacturing process; require industry to take responsibility for the safety of their products; and use the best science to protect vulnerable groups.  To date the EPA has only required testing on about 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals that have been on the market since the law was passed 33 years ago.

“A Made in the USA label should be a guarantee, not a warning,” said Charlotte Brody, National Field Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition working toward toxic chemical policy reform.  “This database of products is further proof that our system of testing and regulating toxic chemicals is broken. We have an opportunity to reform federal law this year and start putting common sense limits on harmful chemicals to protect the health of Americans.”

Photo credit: / The Ecology Center

We’ll be following the additions to the site and encourage you to do the same.

Take the next step and join the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign. Send your representatives a letter encouraging them to support a reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

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2010 Dog Friendly Honda Element

HondaElement emblem

We told you about the new 2010 Dog FriendlyTM Honda  Element back in April, and now we can report that you’ll be seeing it at your local dealership on November 16, 2009.


More information from the American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The Dog Friendly equipment group is designed exclusively for the Element EX trim level and can be adapted to the Element LX trim level with the addition of a dealer-installed rear accessory power outlet for the rear ventilation fan. Engineered to integrate with factory precision into the Element EX, the Dog Friendly equipment is intended to accommodate the secure transportation of a dog in the cargo area within a nylon-webbed car kennel. In daily operation the car kennel helps prevent a dog from interfering with the driver in traffic by keeping the pet properly restrained and out of reach of the driver. In the event of a frontal collision, the kennel is intended to help restrain the dog behind the rear seats, reducing the chance for the pet to be injured – or to injure human occupants during a crash.

The Dog Friendly equipment enhances pet comfort by providing a soft floor surface for the dog’s legs and paws along with a dedicated fan and a spill resistant water source. Convenience is improved for owners with an integrated ramp, easy to clean surfaces and a full suite of matching Dog Friendly accoutrements.

Major components include:

  • a soft-sided cargo area car kennel made from seat belt-grade netting
  • a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area with an elevated platform
  • a 12V DC rear ventilation fan
  • second-row seat covers with a dog pattern design (matches the bed fabric)
  • an extendable ramp (stores under the pet bed platform)
  • all-season rubber floor mats with a toy bone pattern
  • a spill-resistant water bowl
  • Dog Friendly exterior emblems (driver’s side and rear)

The ramp stores underneath the bed platform and can be conveniently accessed when the rear tailgate is down. The car kennel was designed and is being constructed by Takata Corporation, one of the world’s leading automotive safety systems suppliers. The Dog Friendly equipment group has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $995

We love the color of the car in the photo (it is orange, after all)! We look forward to checking it out locally to get the feel of it ourselves. What do you think? Does it offer enough safety features? Is there something you would like to see in the canine car of your dreams? What suggestions do you have?


Photo credits: American Honda Motor Corp., Inc.