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I’ll never forget the day we became parents.

I was away on a weekend trip with the girls when my husband Brad, texted me the words “I found him.” I knew exactly what those words meant.

He had found the puppy he’d been wanting.

My first reaction was shock, followed by slight panic. Were we ready for this commitment? We had been talking about getting a puppy someday. But I never imagined that, that July weekend, we’d adopt a real puppy.

When I arrived home that afternoon, Brad had the 7-week old puppy in his arms. He looked like a little furry black ball with tan paws and a white streak on his chest. Brad decided to call his new best friend, “Scout.” It didn’t take long before Scout became part of our family.

On his first night in our home, Scout woke up whimpering every 3 hours. It was like having a newborn baby—but thankfully we didn’t have to change any dirty diapers. Brad, just like a patient father, carried Scout outside to go to the bathroom every night. We wondered if we’d ever get sleep again. Then we read that puppies have small bladders, so this routine would be temporary. Luckily, it was true and those trips dwindled down from 4 times per night, then two. Now, at 4 months—Scout sleeps throughout the entire night (well, most of the time).

But every day we are faced with new challenges. Scout still hasn’t figured out that he can’t go to the bathroom on our carpet whenever he wants. Brad spends his weekends cleaning up doggie doo from the yard. Perhaps I should consider getting him the handy Doggie Dooley Kit? Anybody out there tried it yet?

Like any young, energetic puppy, Scout wants to bite everything and anything: leaves, rocks, socks, dishcloths, clothes, shoes—even our hands and legs. We try yelping when he bites us, then we ignore him and walk away. Sometimes he runs after us—biting at our ankles instead. Anybody have any recommends to remedy this situation?

I’m sure I’ll be back asking more questions, as we face new puppy challenges…

When you bring home a new puppy or kitten, a mess is almost always guaranteed to follow. We’ve discovered some great products to make taking care of your pet easier, no matter what comes up.

Pet Trainer
Pet Trainer

Problem: Your new pet won’t stay off your couch or counter tops.
The Pet Trainer has a small vibration and alarm that keeps your animals from going where you don’t want them.


Problem: You found a small tick on your pet, but you don’t like using chemicals.
Solution: Arctick™
freezes and kills ticks instantly. It’s safe, effective, pesticide free and easy to use.

Snoozer™ Pet Safety Harness

Problem: Your pup gets excited when you’re driving and wants to sit on your lap.
The Snoozer™ Pet Safety Harness lets him enjoy the trip without letting him dash from one window to the next.

Spot Gone
Spot Gone

Problem: Muddy footprints and accidents, your pet likes to take it out on your nice rugs.
:  Spot Gone helps to remove stubborn stains. Apply it directly to the stain, brush lightly and blot.

Puppy tip: When you bring a new puppy home for the first time, he may miss his mom and siblings. Place a ticking clock or a warm water bottle next to his bed to give him comfort.

See more clever pet products >

pet travel

  • Get your dog used to the car by letting him sit in it with you without leaving the driveway, and then going for short rides.
  • Avoid carsickness by letting your dog travel on an empty stomach. However, make sure he has plenty of water at all times.
  • Keep the car well ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
  • Don’t let your dog ride with his head sticking out of an open window (this can lead to eye injuries).
  • Never let your dog ride in the back of an open truck. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injuries or death.
  • Stop frequently for exercise and potty breaks. Be sure to clean up after your dog.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, particularly in the summer.

Mud and slush are guaranteed to get your pooch dirty, but bathing him or her during the winter months can be difficult – particularly for larger breeds best bathed outside! If your dog just needs a touch-up, sprinkle a handful of baking soda over his or her coat and massage it in with your hands, rubbing against the direction of hair growth to be sure it’s well worked-in. Once all odors and grease have been absorbed, brush the baking soda out. Your dog can help by shaking off, too, so make sure you do this outside on a dry day!

If excessive shedding is an issue, try a specialty hair brush to help remove the thick loose undercoat that causes it. FURminator® deShedding Tool

Solutions is staffed with big-time pet lovers, so it gave us special pleasure to donate part of the proceeds from our last sample sale to PAWS, a no-kill animal shelter located in nearby West Linn, Oregon.

In 1999, interior designer Sharon Murphy got a call from a client cancelling her appointment. The client explained that she needed to seek treatment for a bite received while taking two stray cats to a local animal clinic to be euthanized.

“I just couldn’t get those cats out of my mind,” Sharon recalls, “so I called the clinic and said I’d take them.”

Sharon took the strays back to her shop. The next day, she arrived to find that, instead of two cats, she now had eight – one of the strays had given birth during the night! When the mother cat refused to accept the kittens, Sharon recruited some friends and began bottle-feeding them.

“I hadn’t planned on starting a shelter, but when my landlord told me the cats would have to go, I closed the shop and opened PAWS down the street,” she says. “Since then, we’ve placed over a thousand cats in loving, permanent homes.”

Until PAWS opened its doors, Sharon had no idea that so many cats were routinely abandoned.

“We currently have 150 cats in our care,” she says, “and we typically get 500-600 calls a month from people who want to place unwanted cats with us.”

With only 640 square feet of space, the shelter has been forced to limit the number of animals they accept, and the need for larger quarters has become urgent.

“Our lease is up next year, and I have my eye on a house across the street that would be perfect for us if we can raise the money,” Sharon says. “I’d love it if we never had to turn any animals away.”

Unlike other animal shelters, PAWS allows their cats to roam freely through the premises.

“It makes for a more stress-free, ‘homey’ atmosphere for both the cats and prospective owners,” Sharon says. “No sad faces peering at you from behind the bars of a cage…the cats romp and play as they like. And sleep, of course – there are beds for them everywhere!”

In addition, PAWS is one of the few shelters in Oregon that takes in orphaned newborn kittens, bottle-feeding them until they can eat on their own.

“Our Bottle Brigade is made up of a group of wonderful volunteers who give around-the-clock care to these ‘babies,’” Sharon says. “It’s an intensive but very rewarding experience.”

Cats above the age of ten become part of PAWS’s Elder Care Program. Instead of being adopted, these senior cats are placed in permanent foster homes where they become a part of their new family, but legally belong to PAWS, who pays the medical bills for these elderly animals.

Sharon smiles as she explains that the cats at PAWS are all named after famous people.

“People who’ve visited our shelter can honestly say they met ‘Oprah Winfrey’ – in fact, she sat on their laps! And we named one very opinionated little guy ‘Simon Cowell’ after the American Idol judge. Simon the cat appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and was featured in the Oregonian newspaper.”

When talk show host Ellen deGeneres learned she had a cat named for her at a shelter in Oregon, she called PAWS in order to pass along a message to her namesake’s new owners.

“She wanted them to know that she likes to have cocktails promptly at five, and that lobster is her fish of choice!” Sharon says, laughing.

PAWS not only strives to place pets in a good home; they also work to inform people (particularly children) about properly caring for a pet.

“We want to educate the public on the responsibility that goes with adding a pet to their families,” Sharon explains.

With that end in mind, PAWS invites schoolchildren and extracurricular groups to visit the shelter. In turn, volunteers from PAWS visit schools, introducing cats to the kids and talking about the responsibilities of pet ownership.

While cats are currently their primary focus, PAWS also found homes for 56 dogs, 2 turtles, a rabbit, a pigeon and a miniature horse. Only cats spend nights at the shelter – the other animals are on-site during the day so they can “meet” potential adopters, then go home with foster families at night.

If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, PAWS invites you to stop by and meet the animals available for adoption. You can also visit their web site at No matter where you live, PAWS encourages you to consider adopting a rescue pet over a pet store or breeder – you may just save a life!

Shop Pet Products at Solutions.