L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Products

Furniture company launches pet photo contest

Midcentury Conventional wisdom would suggest that it's a good idea to keep pets off your pricey midcentury modern furniture, but furniture company Modernica is giving design buffs a reason to encourage their animals to hop on up.

Modernica is holding a "Pets on Furniture" photo contest and encouraging its fans to submit their shots of their pets on midcentury modern furniture, The Times' home and garden blog L.A. at Home reports.

A winner will be named every week through the end of January and a grand prize winner will be announced Feb. 14. The grand prize winner will have the chance to choose from four prize options offered by Modernica: an Isamu Noguchi coffee table valued at $695, a Noguchi dining table ($795), a Pierre Paulin easy chair ($1,170) and a George Nelson bubble lamp ($269).

Modernica says photo entries should be clear and the furniture shown should be recognizable. The pet's name and a description of the furniture or the name of its designer should be included, and the photo must be original. You can see more shots of pets on stylish furniture, vote on your favorites and learn how to submit your own at Modernica's blog.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Modernica

What recession? High-end pet boutiques stock over-the-top pet gifts

Crystal Dog Collar

BEVERLY HILLS — Sanderella has 150 collars and leashes, 200 couture dresses, 300 bows, a designer bed in every room and standing appointments with a groomer and an acupuncturist.

The 17-year-old Bichon-poodle mix rides in a carriage, eats macaroni and cheese from a bowl that has her name etched in gold, and has a pink mink made by Saks Fifth Avenue.

So what do you get for Christmas for the dog who has everything?

"Definitely bling. We love bling," said Margaret Souders, 68, who owns Sanderella and Samantha, a 19-month-old Bichon frise. "I'm addicted to my dogs. I love them to pieces. My whole life revolves around them."

Sounders is a regular customer at the Beverly Hills Mutt Club, one of many high-end pet boutiques where the sky is the limit, from Rodeo Drive stalwarts like Neiman Marcus, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Coach and Saks to online marketplaces where pet gifts can run in the thousands of dollars.

The Mutt Club is small but bursting with things made of Swarovski crystal, pearls, cashmere, wool and Italian leather. Jewels and canine couture are bestsellers, said Celina Bojorquez, who owns the shop with her mom, Sandy Siegler. Other customers include Sandra Bullock, Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Sarandon, Billy Joel and Vince Neil, Siegler said.

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What to get for the animal lover who has everything: A silver- or gold-plated Milk Bone

MilkBone

Say you're an animal lover with a burning desire to spend your money on something, and you've already got your own reindeer-dung necklace. What new purchasing frontiers are left to conquer?

Don't fret, dear shopper. Now you can add a silver- or gold-plated Milk Bone to your collection of animal-related oddities. As our colleague David A. Keeps explains at The Times' home and garden blog, L.A. at Home, California design company Still Life Gifts has licensed the famous dog biscuit and turned it into a festive ornament.

The decorative treats, with prices starting around $20, are made from real Milk Bones, which are preserved and electroplated before being hung on a satin ribbon.

Because the ornaments are plated, they don't smell like a treat, so your dog's unlikely to try to make a meal of one. "I offered it to three family dogs and none of them bit," Michale Dancer, co-owner of Still Life Gifts, told The Times.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Vivaterra

It's Betty White fever: The animal-loving star's camp announces new clothing line, book and calendar

BettyHoodieWe love animals, and we love Betty White. So we're thrilled by the actress and animal advocate's recent publicity surge, and we're especially pleased to learn that some of her latest projects involve animals.

White has officially signed off on a line of hoodies and T-shirts bearing her image, including the one at left, described by The Times' All the Rage blog as "our favorite -- a black and white riff on Shepard Fairey's famous Obey Giant image, with White's sweet countenance subbing in for Andre the Giant's."

A portion of proceeds from the Betty-themed clothing benefits the Morris Animal Foundation, an animal health charity for which White is a trustee. You can see more styles and order online at HoodieBuddie.com.

The Times' celebrity news blog, Ministry of Gossip, recently clued us in on another of White's projects, a book she's penning called "The Zoo and I: Betty and Her Friends." The book, to be published in 2012, will feature photos and stories about White's favorite animal residents of the L.A. Zoo, where she's a board member. (She was honored by the zoo for her years of support in a gala event, the Beastly Ball, earlier this summer.)

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Hungry hounds, rejoice: Ice cream truck for dogs to debut at London pet party

Dogloves ice cream

The world's first ice cream van for dogs will open for business at a "pet party" in London's Regent's Park on Saturday.

The van will serve canine-friendly flavors such as "Dog Eat Hog World" -- a chicken and gammon sorbet -- and "Canine Cookie Crunch," a more traditional vanilla ice cream, albeit sprinkled with dog biscuits.

"The weather has been so hot, we thought dogs deserved a cooling treat as much as anyone else," said Sally Bezant of event organizer Boomerang Pets Party.

She said a team of pet nutritionists had been through a complicated scientific process to determine the tastiest and safest flavors for the dogs' dessert.

And although the unusual flavors were tested on a panel of dogs, they can be eaten by humans.

"It's safe for humans ... I've tried it myself," she told Reuters, adding, perhaps diplomatically, that doggie ice-cream tasted "different."

RELATED PET NUTRITION NEWS:
Ask a Vet: Are fruits and nuts safe treats for dogs?
Pet obesity an expanding problem, say veterinarians, nutrition experts

-- Alessandra Prentice, Reuters

Photo: A basset hound tries to get a lick of her owner's ice cream. She'd be happy to know that dog-friendly ice cream is hitting the streets! Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Animal-related things we're excited about: Betty White calendar, postage stamps help animals; Found Animals' new 'ModPawd'; 'Mr. Ed' comes to DVD

Betty We can hardly contain our delight about these new products and services, which are making our animal-loving hearts soar. Best of all, proceeds from several of them benefit homeless or sick animals. Those are causes we can get behind!

-- Betty White, all year 'round: The animal-loving Golden Girl -- who was recently honored by the L.A. Zoo for her service and has been called "Ambassador to the Animals of the City of Los Angeles" by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- now has one more title to add to her resume: calendar girl. A 2011 calendar filled with shots of the 88-year-old actress goes on sale for $12.99 in September. Best of all, proceeds from the calendar benefit the Morris Animal Foundation, an organization for which White is a trustee. (We're not sure which calendar we like best: White's or last year's Hot Guys and Baby Animals. And, yes, that last one is exactly what the title implies.)

-- Introducing a TSFW (Totally Safe For Work) webcam: Local animal charity the Found Animals Foundation, which works to combat pet overpopulation and support adoption agencies, recently launched The ModPawd, a great resource for animal lovers who are in the market for a new pet or simply want some expert advice on keeping their existing pet happy and healthy. The ModPawd is a state-of-the-art facility at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority shelter in Downey that allows guests to watch adoptable cats and dogs on a 24-hour webcam. But it gets better: Every weekday from 4 to 4:30 p.m., online visitors from around the globe can tune in for a "pawdcast," where they'll be treated to pet-centric tips from animal experts, updates on animal news and live Q&A sessions about pet care, training and more.

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Chalet-themed cat house, easy-wipe pet placemats are stylish and functional (a rare combination)

Kitty house

Pet products, as a general rule, are manufactured with function, rather than an aesthetically pleasing form, in mind. (As evidence, may we present the most absurdly large cat climbing tree we've ever seen? No? How about the environmentally friendly underground doghouse that's cooled with geothermal energy, then? We're all for green living, of course, but even we must note that this product is strange-looking.)

Then there are those occasions when they miss the mark completely, violating all rules of form and function. (We're looking at you, unknown person who filed the patent for the wearable dog house. And you, makers of the dog bed that looks like a giant Croc shoe. And especially you, company behind the garish 22.5-karat gold-plated crate that retails for $11,000.)

Fortunately for dogs and cats with a sense of style -- and owners who don't feel inclined to spend thousands of dollars on things like crystal-encrusted Hello Kitty-themed dog beds -- there are stylish and reasonably-priced pet products out there as well. Our colleagues at The Times' home and garden blog, L.A. at Home, recently spotlighted a few such items.

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Dogs no longer left out of the Twitter craze

If it seems like everyone and their dog is using Twitter, that's not actually too far from the truth: Toy company Mattel Inc. has announced its plan to release a new product called Puppy Tweets, which purports to allow dogs to "tweet" their daily activities for their owners' entertainment. Of course, dogs can't actually type, so the product -- which will retail for $29.99 -- uses a sound and motion sensor to determine what pets might be up to. Our colleague Andrea Chang has the details on this new toy that we feel confident in saying we won't be purchasing for our own dogs anytime soon:

Puppy Tweets Attached to a dog's collar, the plastic tag randomly generates one of 500 canned tweets when it detects barking or movement and automatically posts an update to Fido's own Twitter page.

A round of woofing could lead to a tweet of "I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home." A frenzied run through the backyard might garner "I finally caught that tail I've been chasing, and ... OOUUUCHH!"

But before you begin to drool over the prospect of having your own Dug, the animated dog from Disney-Pixar's "Up" whose translator collar allowed him to talk, Mattel executives caution that the toy is just a toy.

Unlike advanced pet gadgets such as GPS tracking collars that keep tabs on roaming cats, the technology behind Puppy Tweets is simply sending out random messages triggered by movement or sound.

So even though Fido's device may be tweeting about tracking a squirrel, he could actually be digging a hole or scratching himself. And that might be a letdown for people hoping for the real thing.

"I mean, really what is it telling you?" said Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, a pet shop with locations in downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach. "It's like a Magic 8 Ball toy."

THERE'S MORE; READ THE REST.

Photo: A Puppy Tweets tag and receiver. Credit: Mattel

What to get for the dog who has everything: A combination mustache-ball

MuttstachePublic service announcement: This product exists.

Brought to you by the comic geniuses at Moody Pet (a company whose product line also includes the Humunga Tongue and a battery-operated cat toy it describes as a "lean, mean string-flinging machine"), the Humunga Stache is pretty much just what it looks like: A dog toy with a giant mustache attached.

A "muttstache," if you will.  (Sorry, we had to.)

While the image of a cartoonishly mustachioed canine is likely to haunt our personal dreams for some time to come, apparently some pet owners actually like the idea enough to shell out $12 for a Humunga Stache (or $10 apiece, if they buy two or more).

Paw Nation blogger CJ Arabia, who just had to try this bizarre item for herself, offers a word of warning to would-be purchasers, though.  "In theory, your dog will hold the ball in his mouth, giving off the appearance of a handlebar [mustache]," she wrote in her recent product review. "In actuality, my dog never picked it up in her mouth like the dog in the advertisement. Note: The toy is very heavy and best-suited for larger dogs -- my smaller dog couldn't fit it in her mouth!"

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Remote-control pet door keeps intruders out

Dog-door

Doggy doors are a convenient solution for pet owners who are away for hours at a time or are too lazy to tend to their animals when they need to go outside.

But the problem with cutting a hole in your door and covering it with a rubber flap is that any petite burglar or curious animal could crawl their way into your home.

The Plexidor Pet Door is an interesting alternative. After installing the mini door, only pets with the compatible RFID chips attached to their collars can enter. The door opens when it detects a nearby chip, which the company assures is waterproof and shockproof.

We wonder how a dog with prior experience testing invisible shocker fences might react to someone attempting to outfit him or her with this collar device. (Yelp!)

But the product seems like a smart solution to a common flaw with doggy doors. Maybe the best part about it, though, is this line from the press release: "It is like having a personalized garage door and electronic opener specifically for your dogs."

There's just something hilarious about picturing a golden retriever waiting patiently while the door creaks its way open.

-- Mark Milian

Photo: Pet Doors USA Inc.

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