Soft or firm dog beds?

People, who have owned dogs for many, many years have probably developed a sense of what sort of bed is nicest for dogs and there is also an element of habit and tradition involved in the choice of dog beds. Obviously economics also come in to play with this, even though cheap dog beds are often false economy.

 Dog that cannot get comfortable in cheap, thin bed

The main concerns for dog owners are :

1)      Will my dog be comfortable?

2)      Will the bed be easy to keep clean?

3)      Will it be durable and lasting?

When it comes to the question of what is the most comfortable dog bed, we should really think about what we sleep on our selves. You often see bean bags for dogs, but would you sleep on/in a bean bag? I can’t imagine it would be comfortable to sink deep in to polystyrene beads in a bag. They must be too hot and sweaty. If I was sleeping in a bean bag I would go mad thinking of the unease of turning. You would be constrained in the claustrophobic depth of the bed.

 Dog getting really annoyed with bad, cheap dog bed

Think of your own mattress and how firm it is. Even the softest make of mattresses are far firmer than a bean bag. You almost float on top of it. The conclusion has to be that firm dog beds have to be the best thing for supporting your dog in his sleep. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have one with a soft top surface for a bit of comfort and warmth, but to get totally buried can not be good.

 Firm dog bed with soft, springy cover

The next question is how easy the bed is to keep clean. Lots of commercial dog beds on the market are light enough to be advertised as “Quick and easy to chuck in the washing machine”. This clearly means that it is a very unsubstantial dog bed if you can put the whole thing in the wash. The waterproof  dog beds that we produce are never to go in the washing machine, they can simply be hosed down from the outside. No matter HOW large a washing machine you may have, it will never be able to take Labrador size bed, but the cover that you can get to put on the waterproof beds can be taken off and washed very easily in any domestic washing machine. Hence the fantastic combination of a THICK dog bed that can be hosed down and a simple, little light cover that you can wash frequently to keep everything nice and clean at all times.

 Yellow Labrador in nest with nest cover. Easy washing.

Then there is the question of durability and here Tuffies Dog Beds also come in extremely strong. We test all our fabrics before committing to buy and we can confidently say that we sell the strongest and most durable dog beds you can possibly produce. The base product is a super tough cordura or acrylic coated fabric and our covers are the best and toughest you can get. All fantastic quality.

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Raffling Dog Beds in the Rain

Today I entered an All Age Stake field trial. We had all watched the weather forecast and were prepared for a little bit of rain, which would only amount to drizzle. As often, at these events, I am asked to bring a selection of dog beds as there are a few people coming from a long way away and they can save the delivery costs if I bring them along. So loaded with several dog beds in my truck I set off at 7.30 this morning. I was picking up one of the guns, who lives not too far away, so he got a lift. I had tied dog beds up against the back of the load so that Gaia didn’t get knocked over by them nor were able to punch holes in the wrapping plastic when sitting on them. My back seat was filled with guns and dog beds. So off we went on the 40 minutes journey to the grounds, but soon the drips started to appear on the wind screen and we dismissed it as just the edge of the rain cloud that was possible according to the forecast. However, we then hit massive puddles on the road indicating that there had already been a lot of rain in the area.

The Tuffie truck with rain on its windscreen

The Tuffie Truck with rain on its windscreen

The problem is that if you go out on the moor to shoot even after the rain has stopped, you are very unfair to the birds because they are wet and heavy (many will quite rightly say that as long as none of the birds are also equipped with shotguns, it is always unfair). Dry birds and windy conditions makes it very difficult to shoot the birds, so by far the most get away.

Gaia flushes a bird on a dry, sunny day.

Gaia flushes a bird on a dry, sunny day.

 Today there was a further complication because of course this was not just a day’s shooting, it was a competition among the dogs. There are 12 dogs running in a trial and my Gaia was going to run as number 12. If we were to go out on the moor in the rain, she would be walking to heel getting soaked to the skin without getting warm from running. She would become more and more miserable, only wishing she was back on one of her warm kennel dog beds back home. It would be unfair on her to get to number 12 after a couple of hours slow walking and then suddenly take the lead off her and ask her perform at her best, right out of the blue. The first dogs would have a clear advantage over the last dog.

Gollum on point in the heather on a wet day

Gollum on point in the heather on a wet day

So every one was at the hut at 9am looking at the grim weather. It was so misty that it would have been dangerous to go out and shoot. You would also easily lose a dog if it went on point in the mist. We spent a jolly morning, a bit like a cocktail party, waiting. In the end we got as far as lunch time, so we ate all the food that was meant to be for after the trial and decided to draw the raffle. I always provide dog beds for the raffles and they do make people cough up with some money that is well needed for the club’s coffers. Today I donated a waterproof dog bed with a lovely Luxury fleece cover on it.

Leila on Autumn Check Apr 14 copy

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Dirt on your Dog Beds

When it comes to keeping dog beds clean, there are many kinds of dirt to consider before you decide what to buy or how to get it clean. You can have the wet, dirty paws, that, if you have a lovely cream coloured cover on your bed, will go all dirty in no time. It is a matter of being sensible with the colour when you choose your dog beds. If you know that, in the winter you will be letting your dogs straight in from the garden, where they have churned just small areas up into mud (or been digging holes, hahaha…. grrrrr…..), then you know that you will have those nice, clean dog beds transformed into rather unsightly ones very quickly. Let’s face it, there is no magic here and there are no SELF CLEANING DOG BEDS in this world. We all simply have to manage dirt and make sure we can clean stuff when it gets dirty. So although we sell waterproof dog beds and very practical and easy to wash covers, I always put a towel inside the door so that all three dogs walk across it when they come in, which nicely absorbs 90% of the mud. When they proceed to their sleeping places, they are now not making the floor dirty, but of course there is a little bit of mud in-between their toes. When they settle down and scratch and go round and round, more of this dirt comes off and goes on the beds. With practical covers this is ok because every two to four weeks I take the covers off and each time I am astonished how much dust there is on the bed. Looking at the dust I am effectively looking at dried up muddy paw-prints. I simply put the covers in the washing machine and take the waterproof dog beds out side for a good soaping down and a rinse. Once everything is dry, there is a lovely smell in the house, back to dog free house. It is so easy because the thick dog beds don’t have to go in the washing machine in their entirety, they simply hose down.

 Lady hosing the soapy water off a dog bed

Dog hairs on the beds?  Yes, well that is another thing that you can’t prevent, but you can manage. Some dogs never shed hairs while others are constantly shedding piles of it. You will see the hairs on the floor where you easily vacuum them up and if you choose the right brand, you will also easily vacuum them off the dog bedsBrown dog sleeping in a brown bed. So on a day to day basis it is easy to keep the beds looking nice if you go over them with the hoover when you do the floor anyway. Again, be sensible and get a colour or a pattern so that the colour of your dogs’ hairs don’t stand out too much from the bed.

Greasy treats on the dog beds? If you give your dogs greasy treats to enjoy on their beds, you will see the marks there. We sell a light grey waterproof Durasoft bed and it has to be said that if you give a lot of greasy treats to the dogs, you will find the covers looking tatty. Best colour for that would be black or navy. Really messy treats are best kept outside!!!!!

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You need the best dog beds in the season

It is now very close to the working season for the working dogs. If you have not experienced pointers working on the moor, you may not be aware of just how much they run.

Gaia lying in the heather, panting.

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Not just over short heather, but up and down hills in sometimes thick heather. In places there are deep holes followed by hills that the dogs have to get up. Although they have great dog beds to sleep on, they still need to be comfortable in the vehicles because we tend to travel a bit to get from one moor to another. All that way they travel in comfort on a perfect travel dog bed in the back of my truck. It is bouncy without being too thick (it has been made exactly 3” thick instead of the standard 6”) and it insulates perfectly from the cold base of the truck. Here is a picture from the other day when we were counting grouse high up in the Scottish hills. My truck made it all the way up and we are up in nearly 3,000 feet where the ptarmigan live. Although it was an August day, it was still cold up there. When the dogs have finished their day’s work, they certainly need an insulating dog bed in the back of the car to keep warm all the way home.

The cold truck and Anne at the top of Drummochter

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The dog bed I have in my car also has a soft Luxury Fleece cover on it for keeping everyone really cosy. IF the weather gets warmer this August I might change the cover to a Wicking Cover so that the dogs can feel a little cooler.

 The dogs sometimes work several days on the trot and a perfect sleeping arrangement is absolutely essential along with perfect nutrition.

Gaia running up the hill on the moor

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Gaia runs on the moor

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I normally feed the dogs a mixture of tripe, carrots, eggs, cod liver oil and a bit of kibble. The tripe is simply too stinky to take along in the cab and if I put it in with the dogs, the plastic container doesn’t get a chance. Tippex normally opens most food packages skilfully. She once took care of the entire package of Lindor inside Anne’s van. She had taken all the wrappers off and eaten all the chocolates. Recently (the day I learned about not leaving food in the cab with them under their waterproof dog bed) I was travelling South and put the tripe box in the with the dogs. I stopped after 45 minutes  and found Tippex in the back looking like a barrel. She had eaten three dogs’ dinners.

 The constant running is also putting big demand on the joints, so superb dog beds are very important in order to stem off the clinical onset of arthritis.

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Many kinds of dog beds

I went up to Torrish with my friend, Anne, to have a look at the grouse population there. They used to shoot lots of grouse over pointer dogs, but heather beetle killed all the heather and hence the grouse that live off the heater, which stopped all shooting. Slowly, slowly the heather is recovering now helped greatly by burning and management. This is helping the grouse population coming back too.

 Nigel’s Vizsla dog was very stylish and he reminded me of Alice.

Vizsla male on point

Vizsla male on point

Gaia did well and I was really pleased with all the dogs.

Gaia on point at Torrish estate in Helmsdale

Gaia on point at Torrish estate in Helmsdale

So we were asked to take our pointers out to see if they could find the birds. This was a wonderful two day visit, where we got to know the ‘keeper and his grand dad, Jimmy, who was ‘keeper on the estate many year ago when the grouse was plentiful. Jimmy lives in one of the really old cottages on the estate and knows everything about dogs. In the old days they used to have 20 pointers and setters in kennels and I wish I had seen them. What dog beds did they use? I am sure it would not have been thick, waterproof dog beds like we tend to have today, in fact I strongly suspect it would be wooden boards. In the old days people did not “humanise” dogs to the extent that we do today. In the old days the dog beds would be luxury if they were straw. But I really should have asked and I will next time we go and visit. We had five dogs with us, so we split them up over night: mine slept on their waterproof bespoke dog bed in the back of my truck and Anne had brought nice dog beds for her dogs as they were sleeping in the kennels. The kennels were nice with a large run outside, but it is definitely more like an animal stable than a house. However, the dogs were happy.

Walking in to Jimmy’s house, a little Jack Russell puppy had a dog bed in the kitchen. Well, it was a plastic dog bed, but it might as well have been a washing up bowl. It was tiny. But the wee dog looked ever so happy and had the freedom of the kitchen porch and all 10,000 acres outside. He did not take advantage of the latter.

The other dog bed we saw was the straw in the trailer. As we went on the moor, we had all the dogs (and me) in the back of a trailer towed by the Argo cat. I preferred to be standing in there to make sure I could interfere if there should be a scrabble. We ended up with about 10 dogs in a very small space, all coming from four different homes. You have to be careful, but there was no problem at all.

A fascinating place all together. In the evenings the red stags came down, across the river to help themselves to the green grass. They are still “in velvet”, which means that their antlers are still covered in skin. This means it has blood supply and nerves. It would hurt too much if they were fighting in a real staggy manner so they keep to boxing instead. It’s fun to watch.

Stags in velvet, two of them "boxing".

Stags in velvet, two of them “boxing”.

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Dog Beds at the Scottish Game Fair

We had a lovely Scone game fair hosted by the Scottish Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust held at Scone Palace in Perth.

We drove down the road (this is the closest one we do, so it’s almost local) and made it in three hours on Thursday afternoon. With a big box van and a massive trailer for the dog beds you have to make sure not to get into the many speed cameras that seem to be well placed, especially between Aberdeen and Dundee. The limit is lower for a van with a trailer than for a car.

We just cook at the fair as we bring some simple food and an Ozpig, which is a form of barbecue. We had forgotten the plates, so we used some of the fire wood as a plate.

 Picture of sausages and bread on wood plate

We brought well over a hundred dog beds, but as you will all know, our repertoire is now so big that no matter what we bring, there are still some styles of dog beds that the customers want and which we didn’t bring. So we have now decided to give free delivery on everything sold at the game fairs. This also means that when our customers see these big, heavy and sturdy dog beds, they don’t have to give up on buying due to the thought of dragging it all the way to the furthest away part of the car park, they just have to give their name and address (and their money) and then the bed arrives at their house shortly after the fair.

 Picture from the front of the stand with all the dog beds

We brought Gaia as she is a nice little dog to take along to the show. She just walks about and takes little outings, only very close by. When you go to the showers, she sits nicely outside.

It got really hot Friday evening when we went out to collect Toves car in the car park, but Gaia kept running. She was puffing and panting a lot on the way back, so I had to take a close up photo of her brilliant teeth…..

 Close up photo of Gaia's mouth whilst panting

We did have bad weather on Saturday and despite the fact that we sell waterproof dog beds, it is not conductive to good sales when everyone is totally miserable and wet. We also get mud smeared from everyone’s wellie boots on to the dog beds in the stand. It is of course just part of the territory and customers understand the problem. Luckily half our stock is wipe able dog beds, so we simply take some baby wipes and clean them off. In a way this makes it easier to show case how good dog beds we sell.

Gaia didn’t like the rain too much (shhhh, she is a German Wirehaired Pointer, supposed to be very tough), so at one point she jumped in to the back of the trailer sitting in all the plastic wrapped dog beds, hiding out of the rain. Nigel Deer from the Kennel Club thought this was hilarious and took a picture, which ended up on our Tuffies Facebook.

We had a great show with many good sales and orders and even more lovely comments about how great our products are. We came away on a high.

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Selling Dog Beds at Scone Game Fair

The year has come round again and the work shop is busy preparing for the next game fair, which is the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Scottish Fair at Scone Palace in Perth-shire. We take our dog beds there every single year and it is the most fantastic fair. It is a real Goldilocks fair: not too big and not too small. To be honest we don’t sell a huge amount of dog beds because it is almost as if the market is saturated in that place where the same people re-visit the fair. Sooo many people walk past our stand and shout “Hey Tuffies!! I have several of your beds, they are the best dog beds in the world!” and then walk on. We don’t mind, it’s a fantastic accolade for our brand and just because we don’t get all the waterproof dog beds off the van over the three days, we are happy to be there and to see our customers/friends. Obviously it is worthwhile to be there and we can pay off the stand.

Luise talking to customers in game fair stand

We always have exactly the same stand under a humongous Sycamore tree quite close to the scurry ring. We have the same neighbours each year and they always get the barbecue going as they sell outdoor camping and bush-living gear. They have all the latest and best for the camping. They might have the latest and best in camping outfits, but at the end of the day, we sleep on our waterproof dog beds in the stand and we have a great night. In fact, there have been occasions where other stand holders have forgotten to bring their own mattresses and have asked us for a loan and they have come back delighted the next morning saying the they had the “best sleep ever”. Well, how do you think the dogs feel? They have our luxury dog beds every single night and many a snoozy afternoon too.

Light my fire campers in the wood

The scurry is a great entertainment for the show and it rakes in money for the GWCT charity. We can see it from our stand and there is always a long queue of people waiting to have a go with their dogs. We sponsor the Scurry every day with our best dog beds as prizes and although it costs £3 to enter your dog for just one run, the Tuffies dog bed prize is clearly part of the incentive for trying. You can see how people get close to winning in the end and try to enter their dog several times in order to be the final winner. It all helps the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust with funds, so that is a good result.

Spaniel retrieving dummy at scurry.

See you there, we will be on Pheasant Roe.

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Dogs gazing at you from their dog beds?

Do you have good eye contact with your dog? Does he lounge around on his various dog beds, gazing at you and do you gaze back at him? An exciting piece of research has been done by Japanese scientists where they have looked in to Oxytocin, a hormone normally associated with child birth, but which is increasingly associated with social interactions too. They found that humans who gaze at their dogs and have a gaze back from their dogs produce oxytocin in their blood during the gaze and the dog also produces oxytocin in its blood.

 Gaia sitting on the lawn gazing at me.

The question was very much about what makes a dog a dog and not a wolf? In other words, when did the wolf become domesticated from being a wild wolf? It is fascinating to think that at SOME stage the humans got so familiar with wolf individuals that they eventually invited them inside their dwellings and gave them dog beds and food leftovers and cared for them the way that we care for our dogs today. When human mothers gaze their babies, both mother and the offspring develop oxytocin in their blood stream reinforcing the loving bond. When wolves became dogs they also developed the ability to express oxytocin in response to the gazing eye contact. We “mother” our dogs to smaller or larger extent and only when the wolf also liked to be a sort of “child” did we develop the strong, loving bond as we see today between dogs and humans. Just look how SOME dog beds are actually looking like little cots!!!!

 

The interesting control used in the experiment was that no matter how much you cuddle a pet-wolf or how many luxury dog beds you give it, no matter how early you take care of the wolf puppy, it will never develop oxytocin and it is not interested in eye contact. This is purely reserved for the domesticated dog.

 Gaia up close looking me in the eyes.

As all good research, the scientists conducted a reverse experiment. They gave dogs oxytocin through a nasal spray. This worked best in female dogs and the researchers found that the dogs with added oxytocin started to gaze more at their humans. When this happened, the humans also started to produce oxytocin in their blood in response to the “loving” dog gaze. In other words, the rise in oxytocin is mutual and interlinked. So when you climb into one of your dog’s dog beds and “talk” to him, you are probably both bursting with loving oxytocin.

 

We all experience our dogs gazing at us, but sometimes they also want to kiss. Here Gaia is simply desperate to nibble my nose. It’s hard to tell them off and send them to their dog beds just because you don’t want dog slobber, for they will surely sulk and feel rejected as they only wanted to show their love. Aren’t they just simply man’s best friend. We love them.

Gaia now KISSING lovingly, full of oxytocin.

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When did the First Dog Beds Appear?

There has been much said and written about how and when the wolf evolved from wild animal to domestic dog. The experts are still not sure, but it seems to be between 10 and 30 thousand years ago. The wolves became more friendly as both man and wolf could “see the benefit” of each others company. Often people say that man began to understand that having the wolf/dog around provided him with protection and hunting became better. While I think this is undoubtedly true, there is also just the simple fact that man is fascinated when he comes close to friendly and half tame animals in the wild. We love feeding badgers and foxes (well, some people do when they don’t quite understand the damage this does) in their garden and it becomes a great pleasure to a lot of people to see these wild animals coming in close for their food. We love feeding the little birds and even the pigeons in town. I am convinced that early man simply liked to get close and friendly with the wild wolves whilst at the same time he surely would be weary of the wolves as they did pose a threat to early man.

 

So although the wolves didn’t yet come in to sleep on man’s simple and primitive dog beds that they might have been wanting to prepare for their new canine friends, the wolves would still be hanging around for some food scraps etc. I can just imagine how early man would want to get closer and closer to this inquisitive wild wolf in an attempt to eventually feed it by hand and perhaps stroke it. I don’t know a lot about wolves, but apparently they have nursing “aunties” as in other female wolves that will help out at the time of another wolf’s whelping time. You could imagine how perhaps the early man was able to take that role and almost prepare the “early dog beds” for whelping purposes and hence be a great benefit to the wolf.

 

Getting enough food home to the pups is always a problem for a mother, so if man was actually turning out to be providing whelping dog beds AND plenty of food for the growing pups, the relationship would have got off to a very good start!

 

So I wonder how these primitive and simple dog beds would look like. Would they be animal skins or dried grass and straw? Let’s be sure they were not waterproof dog beds as this is almost a very modern invention making use of the best and latest and strongest synthetic materials.

 

And I also wonder where the dog beds would be for the wolf. At what point did the first wolf/dog spend its first day or night inside the human’s dwelling? I guess that people thousands of years ago would have exactly the same empathy and emotions sprung out of love as we have today, so that first night where a wolf slept inside with the humans would have been on a cold and nasty night where the humans could not bear the thought of their wild canine friend having to huddle outside in the cold. He or she would have opened the door and begged the wolfy dog in on the world’s first dog bed!!

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Raised Dog Beds

We are still working on producing a fantastic new raised dog bed, it’s just difficult to get the manufacturing price down enough to make it a reasonable purchase for our customers. However, it is very funny to see how dogs like their dog beds in the height. It must have something to do with being able to see what is going on a bit better for they all prefer to be up higher rather than close to the floor. Obviously, as most dog beds are placed low on the floor, most dogs are used to this position and they simply accept it as normal, especially if they have been given one of our really good, warm dog beds. As described earlier, I showed a photo of a dog making his dog bed at the top of a snow covered roof in the Alps. He obviously had a thick coat, so he was cosy enough and first and foremost, these kind of roofy, icy dog beds gave him superb view of what was happening in his neighbourhood.

Hairy dog using a snow clad roof as dog bed

At the other end of the spectrum, here is a picture of an English Pointer in Turkey. It belonged to a shop and was the friendliest creature you could ever meet. She was beautiful and although I don’t know what kind of dog beds they have in Turkey, it was now warm enough for her to spend the day on the roof top. Here she is with the mosque tower behind her, as if it was all set up for the photo opportunity.

English Pointer on a roof in Turkey with mosque

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There seem to be a surprising lot of pointers in Turkey, I have spoken to many people, who have been there and it seems to be a popular breed. Turkey welcomes 40 million tourists every year, so it’s not difficult to find someone who has been.

Turkey is a vast country with the warm climate around the Mediterranean and a continental climate in the North Eastern part, where it gets down to minus 40 degrees in the winter. I think the dogs up there will be needing really warm dog beds where as the dogs by the Med will be pleased to sleep on a little mat on the roof.

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