Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lladro Porcelain Has Gone to The Dogs (and cats)!

Bulldog with Lollipop, The Third Piece in a New Series

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Lladro is Spain's pre-eminent porcelain collectibles creator. I remember falling in love with their pieces when I was a little girl. It was distinctive and it seemed as if I could spot it a mile away. Each design originates with the sculptor. whose original sketch is then molded into clay or plasticine, using his hands, tools, and imagination. Now they have turned their talents to dog collectables (and some cats!) The world of pets is, frankly, one of its favorite themes. The sizes are proportionately accurate and there is a certain playfulness to this new collection. Additionally, each dog sits on a hand-knitted mat, made just for the occasion.

Interestingly, once the model is finished, it's broken down into various fragments which are then reproduced in plaster. The next step is to etch on each surface of the plaster all the ornamental patterns and motifs which the sculptor conceived in the initial sketch. This phase is when the expression of the face, motifs, the relief work on clothing and floral compositions all come to life. These fragments will be reproduced in porcelains in molds in a fascinating process. The living material of white liquid porcelain then sets and gives life to the pieces in a magical puzzle that the brand's artists will put back together.
Chihuahua with Marshmallows

Once the piece has been reconstructed, expert hands take over the process and begin the decoration. The first step in this phase is the choice of decorative technique best suited to each element. Dissolved colors, paint paste, luster.  Can you begin to imagine a palette with 4000 different tonalities?!  It exits at Lladro. In close collaboration with the laboratory, the artists experiment with the variety of color tones called for in the particular model, their densities, saturation, textures, nuances and, if required, they often create specific colors expressly for the pieces.  As Rosé Lladro clarifies, "..for us creativity, experimentation and research are everyday challenges." Later the artists paint the pieces with a steady hand, bringing to life the expression of facial features and delicately outlining the tiniest detail.  It has also to be decided whether the pieces will be matte or glazed, because glazed pieces require a layer of varnish before being fired in the kiln.

And, finally, the moment of truth: the test of fire.  Back in the 1960's Lladro pioneered a system of single firing, leaving behind the second and even third firing still being used by other companies. In the kiln, the piece is subjected to a temperature of around 1300 degrees Celsius (2599 degrees Fahrenheit) for a whole day and the chemical reactions that take place define the final colors of the piece. On the other hand, because it loses water, the size of the piece is reduced around 15% during the firing. Ensuring that this reduction in size is uniform, and that the piece does not suffer in any way is one of the biggest miracles that takes place at Lladro. Porcelain is alive and it is in the kiln when each piece is put to the test.
Jack Russell with Licorice

Lladro's reputation is based on quality, in never disappointing, in never lowering they goals. As Rosé Lladro explains, "we could not conceive of working any other way than to the maximum quality, because it is part of our DNA." The highest standards of quality are also applied in the packaging, adapting to the individual features of each piece in order to ensure that it reaches its final destination in perfect condition.


List of dogs (and cats) in this collection:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Lindy & Co. Gourmet Dog Treats

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Fuzzy the Taste Tester 

Lindy & Co. Gourmet Dog Treats was created by Daybreak which is a non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, outreach programs, traditional housing and other vital services to Dayton, Ohio's homeless, transient youth population. This means that you are not only treating your dog but you are helping kids in need of assistance. Dogs and cats aren't the only ones who end up in the streets; so do kids who have been kicked out of their home. 100% of the profits go directly to Daybreak, funding emergency shelter, housing and for over 500 homeless teens and young adults each year.

The wide assortment of flavors come in everything from Vegetarian to Gluten-Free to combos like Peanut Butter Bacon. 

One of my product testers, Gary Rhode, agreed to put the treats to the test with his shelter rescue dog, Fuzzy.  An assortment of cookie flavors were duly sent to Fuzzy for his "opinion."  Here is Gary's report.

"Fuzzy was trying to peel one of the treat bags open. So far, he's tried three of the flavors: Honey and Oats, Peanut Butter Cookie and the Carrot Cake Cookie. He's looking forward to trying all of the flavors!

"I like the fact that they are made from healthy ingredients and the packaging is people-friendly." I must interject and say that Gary has a problem with his hands so this is a huge advantage for him.  "It would grab my attention in a store. I like the name. Lindy's Bakery sounds like a very nice place! It sounds like a specialty company for dogs.

"Fuzzy is an equal-opportunity lover but regarding these treats, he loved the three we sampled. If he could have had a knife and fork, he would have had it for dinner! He loved the three. The pictures and the video speak for themselves. He loved the packaging, the ingredients and could not wait for the next training session!"

Gary had his hands full trying to juggle the camera and take each picture before Fuzzy devoured the treats!

"This is like the Rolls Royce, Mazarati or Tessler of dog treats!," he added.

Below is a video of Fuzzy and Lindy & Co. Gourmet Dog Treats:


Don't forget to check the Lindy & Company Gourmet Dog Treats' website: 

All photos of Fuzzy taste testing Lindy & Company Gourmet Dog Treats were taken by his owner and our reviewer, Gary Rhode, who owns the copyright to them, and may not be used without his written permission.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Wellness Aid for Cat Owners: Pretty Litter

Alana by Claire Clayton

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I'm a huge proponent of Wellness for pets. It's a medical concept that moved from human medicine to veterinary medicine. If you keep your pet healthy with regular check-ups, plenty of fresh water, good food and exercise as well as knowing the signals to look for to tell if your pet isn't feeling well, you can find problems sooner, before they become progressed, and take you pet to the veterinarian.  Cats, unlike most dogs, are incredibly stoic and masterful at hiding illness. 

There is a new litter on the market that will help you keep even better tabs on your feline companion.

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Ross

Pretty Litter changes color when your cat urinates if there is a possible illness brewing. This product came about out of a terrible loss of a beloved companion.

Daniel Rotman, the CEO of Pretty Litter lost his little orange tabby to an illness.  "It was one of the toughest thing to go through. She was my family member and she was healthy until she began to show aggressive signs of illness," Rotman told me.  "Many cat owners relate to this; cats hide illness until the symptoms begin to show through odd behavior." 

"I wanted to create a tool to empower cat owners, to have another tool to monitor their cat's health before the illness spirals out of control."

From this came a litter that is made using a safe silica microgels that turns color if there is a sign of illness. The litter itself is yellow, so it matches the color of urine. Once the cat urinates in the box, if the urine turns color (and one of four, indicating possibly illnesses), watch your cat for 24 to 48 hours. If the urine continues to turn color, take your cat to your veterinarian. The reason for the wait and monitoring your cat during that time is that a new food, a change in the environment, or if the cat is stressed, can cause the urine to change color. You want to be sure that this is a consistent change. If you have more than one cat and see a color change, isolate them and give each a separate litterbox so you can tell which one might be having the problem.
Photo of Tribble Courtesy of Frank Incremona

Scoop the feces out of the box as soon as you can each day, allowing the litter to drop back into the box. Cat's often urinate in the same section of the box. There is no need to scoop out the pretty litter whether or not it has turned color. Just mix the litter through the box so there will be different litter in each part of the box. Pretty Litter does not have to be scooped because it doesn't clump and isn't meant to. The urine is captured by the little pieces of silica that may, or may not, turn color. The color does not escape so even if your cat tracks a piece of litter out of the box and it lands on your carpet, it won't stain. It's safe to use and eco-friendly. Here's look at the colors and what they can mean:

Pretty Litter color changes may indicate a host of potential health issues.
Orange or Brown: detection of bilirubin which may indicate liver issues such as bile duct obstruction (cholestasis), gallstones, liver inflammation or pancreatitis.
Red: detection of blood which may indicate Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder (FLUTD), Crystals (Crystalluria) or Interstitial Cystitis. In rarer cases it can also mean bladder cancer, an internal injury, poison ingestion, and/or if it's a female cat over four months old who hasn't been spayed, she may be in heat.
Blue: high alkaline which may indicate either FLUTD, Struvite Crystal formations or kidney issues.
Green: abnormal acidity which may indicate either FLUTD, calcium oxalate crystals, urinary blockage in males or kidney issues.
Any color other than a golden yellow or olive green may mean you need to take your cat to your Veterinarian. 
Clearly this can be a game changer for cat owners. A three-pound bag will last for a month How? You're not throwing out clumped urine. Nor does this litter smell. It doesn't require artificial additives to keep it odor-free all month. While it can be purchased in stores, it can also be purchased online, either by the single bag to try it (you'll need to buy 2 bags and use a bag-and-a-half for a large litterbox) or order autoship which can be cancelled at any time. Information is on the website under FAQ's.
Pretty litter is growing by double-digit percentages every month and is now expanding to Asia, Canada and Australia.
Want to know more?  Here's a video to show you more. And check out both the video introduction and the FAQ's on the website


NOTE: I was sent a bag of Pretty Litter to test.  I received no monetary compensation for this post. I share it for information only.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chronic Kidney Disease

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Dr. Roberta Relford

One thing both dog and cat owners need to be aware of is chronic kidney disease. It occurs in both species. Catching it early is optimum, of course. To that end, IDEXX, one of the most trustworthy laboratories in the county, has created a new test specifically designed to discover the disesase.

Roberta Relford, DVM, Ph.D, DACVIM, DAVCP, Division President and Chief Researcher was the main researcher for the development of the test. Dr. Relford is the Division Vice President of Pathology, Internal Medicine, and Strategic Operations IDEXX Reference Laboratories. She graduated from Auburn University in 1982 and was a small-animal practitioner for 4 years. She obtained an MS in pathology at Mississippi State University and a PhD in pathology from Texas A&M University, where she also pursued a residency in small-animal internal medicine. Dr. Relford is board-certified in internal medicine by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and in clinical pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. She lectures on topics including clinical pathology, internal medicine, infectious diseases, cytology, and platelet disorders.

Dr. Relford was the main researcher who helped develop the SDMA test and she is the CMO at IDEXX Laboratories.

Chronic kidney disease is a leading cause of suffering and death in cats and dogs. In fact, one in three cats and one in ten dogs will develop some form of kidney disease over their lifetime. Unfortunately, by the time veterinarians typically diagnose it, at least 75% of kidney function has already been permanently lost.

Thanks to a breakthrough kidney function test, veterinarians have detected the disease earlier in thousands of cats and dogs since the test was made commercially available in July. SDMA is identifying over two times the number of pets with early CKD than traditional methods. In other words, without the SDMA test, one out of every two cats and dogs with early stage CKD would have been missed by traditional testing methods.

The SDMA test can potentially add years to pets’ lives, and Roberta Relford, DVM, MS, PhD,  speaks to the impact of the test as well as the technology behind it and the importance of screening your pets earlier than veterinarians were able to do before.

Dr. Relford agreed to be interviewed in order to share this discovery with PerPETuallySpeaking’s readers:

1.    Briefly, what is chronic kidney disease? I know that it kills far too many companions.

Chronic kidney disease is the leading cause of suffering and death in cats. In their lifetime, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will develop the disease. As pets get older, the likelihood they will develop kidney disease increases. In fact, more than half of cats over age 15 are afflicted. Until recently, veterinarians could not detect kidney disease until very late stages, when the kidneys have lost most of their function permanently. At this point, effective treatment options are limited.

The sooner the disease is caught, however, the better – early identification and proper adjustments in diet and treatment may help your pet to live longer and have a better quality of life.

Chronic kidney disease compromises the kidneys’ ability to maintain fluid balance in the body; produce certain hormones; regulate many electrolytes in the body; and excrete waste products via urine. Signs of chronic kidney disease can include weight loss, increased urination and thirst, vomiting and decreased appetite. However, dogs and cats may show no signs of illness until the disease is advanced.

2.    IDEXX SDMA™ is the gold standard. How long has this new test been in development?

The test arrived on the market following an extensive pilot launch involving over 600 veterinary practices and after eight years of research and clinical studies that culminated in the publication of 27 peer-reviewed scientific and clinical publications to date.

3.    Are all veterinarians using it now or are some still using the old test?

The IDEXX SDMA test is available to all veterinarians in the U.S., Canada and Europe. This is fantastic news because the test can detect kidney disease when much of a pet’s kidney function is still intact. This gives you and your veterinarian the chance to take action and give your pet the best shot for a healthy, happy, long life even with kidney disease.

4.    Can owners ask for this test to be run?

Pet owners should feel empowered to ask for the IDEXX SDMA test to be run at your pet’s regular checkup. Today, 2 in 5 veterinarians in the U.S. are already including IDEXX SDMA in their routine testing, at no added cost. If your veterinarian is not offering the test, you may ask him or her to send your pet’s samples to IDEXX’s Reference Laboratories.

5.    Is there anything you would like to say?

What heart disease is to humans, kidney disease is to pets – a leading cause of suffering and death. Now, the IDEXX SDMA kidney screening test gives pet parents and their veterinarians the chance to take action and give their pet the best shot at the happiest, longest life possible – even with kidney disease.

This is why keeping up with your pet’s regular checkups and asking your vet for the IDEXX SDMA screening is so vital.

For more information on IDEXX SDMA and kidney disease in pets, visit