In Celebration of International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day: Digging up History

February 21st, 2013 by Robin Reynolds

Saturday, February 23rd, is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day and that made me want to go digging for the origins of this obscure and wacky holiday.

Digging up history

Digging for the roots of International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

Though I did not find the exact genesis of this holiday, I did find that the dog biscuit itself has a long, storied history. There is some evidence that the dog biscuit has been around since Roman times when dogs were given hard, stale bread as treats. Stale bread became known as “dog’s bread” and according to one source, if people were caught giving good bread to their dogs, they were forced to sleep in doghouses. (I wonder how they enforced that!)

In any case, the creator of the modern-day dog biscuit appears to have two possible claimants. According to one source, dog biscuits were invented by accident during the late 1800s by a butcher in London. In this account, the shop’s owner was trying to generate more business by creating a new biscuit recipe for his customers. However, after baking and tasting the first batch, it tasted so horrible that the man threw one to his dog, who immediately gobbled it up. Knowing a great idea when he saw one, the butcher used the recipe to make biscuits especially for dogs. When he shaped them to look like bones, the new dog treat was soon flying off the shelves.

It’s reported that in the early 1900s, the dog biscuit recipe was bought by an American businessman who took it back to the United States and founded the F.H. Bennett Biscuit Company. Selling the dog biscuits under the name “Malatoid” the dog biscuits recipe was granted a patent in 1911. In 1915, the name was changed to “Milkbone” to pay homage to one of the main ingredients, cow’s milk.

However, most credit contemporary dog biscuit invention to an electrician from Ohio named James Spratt, who got the idea during a visit to London in the mid-1800s. Spratt noticed stray dogs at a London ship yard, gnawing on discarded hardtack, the cheap, rock-hard biscuits known as “molar breakers” that sailors ate while out to sea. Already a successful entrepreneur with a patent on lightning rods for buildings and luxury dog homes, Spratt felt he could dominate the market if he used fresher ingredients, like meat, vegetables and wheat and in 1860, he patented Spratt’s Patented Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes.

From a marketing perspective, Spratt was very innovative for his time. He identified his most lucrative target markets and positioned his products accordingly. His primary target was to appeal to hunters who wanted to give their dogs extra energy while out in the open and secondarily, he pursued wealthy dog owners who wanted to give their dogs convenient treats. The company employed endorsement by royals and other leading public figures and relied on a wide range of advertising and marketing collateral to promote its products, from full page advertising in the specialized press to cigarette cards and billboards. In fact, he is believed to be the first business person to use colored billboards to advertise his products.

Spratt’s company dominated the American market until 1907 when Bennett’s bone-shaped dog biscuits usurped his position. Today, of course, there are many companies offering a plethora of dog treats in a wide range of shapes, sizes and ingredients, and I really don’t think dogs care much on who invented them or even why. They’re just glad they did!

To celebrate International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, we are offering Max’s AH-mmm Morsels Recipe Card and Dog Bone Cookie Cutter which is regularly $2.50, for only $1 this weekend in Max’s store!

So celebrate the day with a little treat for you and your dog and remember the sanguine observation of author Phil Pastoret, “If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving your dog only two of them.”


Flash Sale: To Celebrate Life to the MAX!

February 13th, 2013 by Robin Reynolds

For those of you who have read our book and been following our blog, you know that when we rescued our Airedale Terrier, Max, the paperwork said he was born in February, but it did not indicate a specific day. As each day went by and we learned what a loving, special guy he was, it seemed only appropriate to designate Valentine’s Day as his “official” birthday.

Today we are celebrating Max’s birthday with a flash sale of our hardcover book for more than 60% off for one day only in Max’s store. Whether you know the story or are just discovering it for the first time, this is a great day to share the love with another dog lover and especially Airedale parents and families! Today celebrate someone you love to the MAX!

Max and Bernie celebrating Max's birthday

Photo of Max and Bernie from page 28 of “Life to the Max: Maxims for a Great Life by a Dog named Max”

Why Keeping Amber in Stitches Was No Laughing Matter

February 9th, 2012 by Robin Reynolds

The way in which Amber greeted us upon her release from the hospital did not prepare us for the rocky road we have traveled over the last three weeks. Just the day after bringing her home, her stomach turned bright red.

Yikes! Is she bleeding internally??!!

Not wanting her to have to endure the long trip back to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, I emailed a picture of her stomach to the surgeon. He told us that some bruising was to be expected from the surgery, but the picture showed more than he anticipated. He suggested that we mark the area with a marker and if the redness spread, we would have to bring her back in. We did as we were told and the next day the redness subsided. We breathed a short sigh of relief.

But as soon as it came time to remove the Fentanyl pain patch, Amber just couldn’t seem to get comfortable –despite the fact that she was receiving other pain medications. We tried everything to try to make her more comfortable—upping the pain-reliever, Tramadol, which only seemed to make her more anxious; lowering the amount of Tramadol, but giving it more often; treating her with acupuncture, which had no real effect…

I feel like a pin cushion!

…and adding in Gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication that is supposed to help with phantom pain, which made her sleepy, but did not stop the constant twitching. Every day, she just seemed to get a little worse—she didn’t want to eat; she didn’t wag her tail when she saw us; and she pretty much stayed in one spot, except to shift restlessly. Direct palpitation of the surgical site, however, did not seem to register pain with her. We are sure that we drove our vet crazy with our daily calls, trying to figure out what to do for her.

Finally, one night as my husband remarked how enlarged her one hip looked in comparison to the other. I had noticed it, but just thought it was typical swelling from the surgery. Nonetheless, the next day we took her back to our vet, who figured out that Amber was allergic to her sutures and had developed a couple of seromas. Unfortunately, the stitches were not ready to come out yet, but Dr. Wight was able to drain some of the fluid and gave Amber a laser treatment.

Ohhh! That feels good!!

The laser treatment was like a miracle. By the next day, the swelling had reduced substantially and she seemed much more comfortable. Dr. Wight also discovered that Amber’s liver enzymes were elevated, so we started her on a liver cleanse and started to cut back off on the pain medications. Since that time, Amber has had a series of laser treatments and we weaned her off all pain medications long enough for her liver enzymes to be back in the normal range. Amber continues to have issues with twitching and muscle spasms and we have put her back on a low dose of the Tramadol and are going to give Amantadine a try to help the spasms. She has turned a corner for the better, but she has taken the road less traveled.

What alternative pain relief methods have you tried and what’s worked for you?


Amber Teaches Us about our own Resiliency and Adaptability

January 20th, 2012 by Robin Reynolds

As reported Amber’s surgery went very well, but we didn’t realize the full extent of its success until we went to pick her up last night from the animal hospital. Charging through the doors, Amber came sprinting towards us on all 3’s, grinning broadly with her tail wagging furiously.

YAY!!! I’m outta here!

The hospital technician ran along beside her, trying to support her with a towel, but she quickly showed us that she didn’t need it.

What are we hanging around here for, Dad? I’m ready to boogie!!

She hadn’t eaten much at the hospital, but the moment she got home, she headed straight for the cupboard that houses her treats and demanded her Greenie. Then she ate, not one, but TWO portions of chicken and brown rice and went outside and pooped. I know this may be more information that you wanted to know, but if you knew the amount of anxiety that existed in my household about how she would be able to handle this, you would know why this was something to celebrate!

Today marks the first anniversary of my mother’s passing and it was just the beginning of many losses that we endured during the past year. When Amber’s cancer was first diagnosed, I wondered: What lesson are we supposed to learn from this? Now I am thinking that perhaps, Amber’s strength of spirit is meant to remind us of our own resilience and adaptability. In the face of change that is compounded by grief, hurt, and disappointment, we humans may wonder how we will get through it all. But Amber shows us that with love and faith, all things are possible. Thanks, Amber, for reminding us who we are with your amazing attitude and incredible courage. As Max and I wrote in Life to the Max, “…be grateful for every teacher who leads you—even if it’s the one at the end of the leash!”

Speaking of gratitude, I want to shout out to our vet, Dr. Tracy Wight and the amazing staff of McClintock Animal Care Center for their continued caring concern, faithful follow up and patient hand- holding. Also we want to thank Dr. Christopher Monarski, Dr. Miller, Donna, Jordan and all the other technicians and staff of VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona who calmly answered all our questions and soothed our fears during this anxious time. If you are in the East Valley in Phoenix, Arizona, you will not find better veterinary professionals.

Stay tuned for more news next week after we meet the oncologist!

In the Face of Challenges, Be a Dog

January 18th, 2012 by Robin Reynolds

I had been annoyed with her. I had come back from our Thanksgiving trip with a sinus infection and I had gotten behind. I wasn’t feeling much in the holiday spirit anyway, but Amber was in it from the moment I entered the house with shopping bags. She would greet me at the door and thrust her whole head in the bag to make sure I wasn’t trying to slip something good past her.

But the night I was wrapping presents was the worst. Even though I had locked our bedroom door, she knew how to thrust her nose against the door just right, so she could pop the lock. In she rushed, running through my wrapping papers…

Amber gets into the holiday spirit!

…pulling ribbons out of my container…

What a sneaky little devil!

…and standing on her back legs to strain to see what toys I had hid for her high in my closet.

Then on Christmas morning, she had been the first one up, trying to push through the barricades we were forced to erect each year to keep her from sneaking her stocking too early.


You just had to enjoy the holidays with Amber around.

Those of us who have Airedales in our families know how stalwart these dogs can be and with so much zest for life, how could we have been prepared–just one week after getting a clean bill health from her routine health check-up–that we would receive devastating news?

I had been noticing that Amber was getting up a little slower, but she had knee surgery when she was a puppy and we all thought maybe she was getting a little arthritis. After all, she is almost 11. Then came the day when she and Krissy were doing their usual rough-housing when she came up lame. I took her back to our vet who checked for Valley Fever, but then referred us to us a specialty hospital. Still, I thought it was an orthopedic issue, so I was shocked when the specialist there told me he suspected cancer. A few days later, the bone biopsy revealed chrondrosarcoma—a small piece of good news in the face of the more aggressive osteosarcoma that was originally suspected.

It is hard to step away from your emotions when challenges like these involve your family members. But instead of reproaching yourself for things you might have done differently, you have to be a dog and stay in the moment. You can’t look back and you can’t look too far forward. You have to deal with what’s in front of you right now and only this, nothing more. When we did this, it is very clear to us that Amber is not ready to leave us. Her heart is strong and her lungs are clear. She is always looking forward and her resilience inspires us. The time that we’ve had to deal with this has been short and given her age on paper, decisions have not been easy. But considering her spirit, that bone and cartilage cancer is very painful, and that her bone is at high risk to fracture, we chose to have Amber’s leg amputated today. We ask our friends and fans to send healing thoughts to Amber and to watch our blog for updates. I will be posting about Amber’s journey as a tripod and cancer survivor–because I believe she won’t just survive, she will thrive. I know this because today I am not just a dog; I’m an Airedale!

P.S. Amber is out of surgery and doing very well.

An Aire-Head’s Guide to Last Minute Halloween Costumes

October 31st, 2011 by Amber

Everyone here at NICE Creative and Life to the Max seemed to procrastinate over creating a Halloween costume this year.

But after being forced to wear the Cone of Shame following a minor medical procedure, I inspired the staff to use the cone to create some last-minute Halloween costumes.

With just a few basic pieces, you can turn the cone into your very own tutu. Here’s Kim doing her very best Black Swan imitation.

Or you can use it to make a bonnet. Terry is such a cute baby. Kitchee-coo!

You can also use the cone as a barber’s cape and recreate a scene from Sweeney Todd. Kim & Robin team up for some hair-raising fun!

Of course, the cone makes a perfect lamp shade. Here’s Kim doing her best impression of a table lamp. What a shining example of employee loyalty!

The cone is also useful if you want to strike a pose as Queen Nefertiti. Note the flashy golden necklace that Robin wears of Hershey’s chocolate wrappers and her daring snake handling ability.

Do you have any ideas of how to turn your cone of shame into a last-minute costume? Send us your pictures and we’ll post them on our blog! Hope your Halloween is filled with a cone-voluted sense of humor!

Life to the Max: A Rockin’ Mother’s Day Tribute

May 8th, 2011 by Robin Reynolds

Many of you who have been following my blog and Facebook page know that my mom passed in January. Today is Mother’s Day and tomorrow is my birthday and traditionally, this was always a time of great fun and celebration with my mom.


I keenly feel her absence, but also clearly feel the part of her that she left behind. It began in her rocking chair.

When I was little girl whenever I was sad, scared or hurt, my mom would take me on her rocker and we would rock back and forth, back and forth until my feelings were soothed. Many disappointments and much loneliness subsided after rocking with mom in her rocker. When I ran across a picture of our Airedale, Bernie, fast asleep on my already napping husband, it reminded me of how powerful this simple act was.

Bernie was a very cute, smart, and sweet puppy, but one day, she just seemed to decide she was a lap dog. Even when she became 70 lb., it didn’t deter her. My husband had fallen asleep on the couch when Bernie discovered him; she crawled up, and fell asleep on his chest. When I found them, the image was so funny that I took the following picture.

When my husband woke up suddenly and realized Bernie was on top of him, he said, “No wonder I was having a dream that I was suffocating!” Hmm…70 lb. of pressure on your chest can give you ideas!

We never quite understood where this lap dog behavior came from until the day I shared the photo with my mom. She looked a little sheepish. “Well, that might have come from me,” she said. “Remember that time you left her with me for the weekend when she was a puppy? I took her on my lap and we’d sit in the rocker and we would just rock and rock for hours.”

Kids, dogs, and grandchildren all took a ride on my mom’s magical rocker and no doubt they felt the same love and reassurance that I had as a child. The legacy continued when I became a mom and my son and I would share hours of stories, soothing conversations, and quiet reflection in our own rocker.

Though today I can’t physically be with my mom, I feel her presence in my life still. Now I see her sitting in her rocker, holding the 70 lb. Bernie on her lap (70 lbs. doesn’t feel very heavy in heaven) and rocking back and forth, back and forth. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom and to all moms who rock our worlds in so many ways!