The best dog accessories for new parents of puppies

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Editor’s Note: Each week in Staff Favorites, we feature our opinions on the best Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, the outdoors and more. (We’ll also reveal some hidden gems to you).

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates one in five households brought home a dog or cat since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Count me among the parents of newly initiated puppies whose lives are now filled with heartwarming cuddles and endless mess, and whose film stock is chock-full of ‘baby’ photos.

In April, my husband and I adopted Ambassador Woodford Longfellow, aka Woody, so named because he is a mix of Basset Hound and Labrador. The extra long body and the large legs give it a unique look. (Shout at Second Chance Humanitarian Society at Ridgway, where we found it.)

This is my first time raising a puppy and damn it if not hard work. Here are four items that make my life a little easier, from fashion to function, plus my favorite local place to shop for food and more.

Tiney Ricciardi, The Denver Post

Woody wearing his trendy bow tie at local manufacturer Rocky Mountain Hound’s Sunday Brunch.

Colorado style

Let’s start with fashion. Rocky Mountain Dog is a Western Slope based dog supplies business that I discovered at Ridgway Farmers Market. One look at their bandanas, which slip over a dog collar instead of being tied around the animal’s neck, and I was sold. Best of all, they’re reversible with designs on both sides. I couldn’t help but buy Woody a similarly designed bow tie ($ 8), which he wears on special occasions.

Rocky Mountain Hound sells other accessories such as collars, leashes, treats and paw balm, as well as a selection of holiday themes, so you can decorate the dogs this season.

Elastic leash and soft leader

Woody is 52 pounds of pure muscle and endlessly energetic – a combination that has led to more than my fair share of bruising. One of the worst happened when he was on a retractable leash and tried to chase something, painfully twisting my legs in the process.

That’s when we invested in Ruffwear Roamer Bungee Leash ($ 39.95), a soft elastic leash that allows Woody to venture into the spirit of a retractable leash but without the sturdiness that caused my 6 inch bruise. Unlike a traditional leash, the handle can be wide enough to accommodate size, so humans can walk their puppies with their hands free.

Woody is still a good boy in training, so he shoots quite a bit when he’s on a leash. But recently we bought the PetSafe Gentle Leader, a cloth collar that wraps around her head and attaches to the leash to prevent her from using her body weight to pull, and that was a game-changer. He can no longer shoot when he sees rabbits pass by or when he gets angry. Walks are now fun for everyone involved (read: me), and in fact, he behaves exceptionally when wearing the Sweet Leader because he knows he has no other choice.

Hybrid Water Bottle-Bowl

I sympathize with parents who have human children whenever I have to pack the dog diaper bag for a road trip or other adventure. One way to cut down on the number of supplies is to buy a dog water bottle that is also a bowl. More precisely, the Lesotc Pet Water Bottle ($ 16.97), which has a soft polyethylene lid that folds into a bowl and fills up when you turn its latch to “open” and squeeze the bottle. It also reduces waste because when Woody isn’t drinking the whole bowl, the remaining water is sucked into the bottle.

Pet Supplies

I always feel good supporting a local store, especially when it turns out that this is the best in town in their specialty. Pet Supplies boasts five locations in Colorado, each with their own unique personality but the same commitment to selling quality pet food and products. I buy from the one in Montrose where the friendly staff are always ready to help me size new equipment for Woody (like the nice leader) and send me home with samples of new products. When I first moved to Western Slope and changed my cats’ food, they provided me with mini bags of several options eligible for discounts through the store’s loyalty program. The fact that the store also has resident cats soliciting scratches from customers is an added bonus.

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