Tag Archive: dogs

This is our recommendations for gifts for your best friends–your dogs–whether for the holidays or whenever–each of these toys was tried and tested by hounds who, as a breed, are pretty stubborn as playtime goes.  Each toy below passed their scrutiny with flying colors.  Ultimately your dog wants you, your time, and a warm home.  But some of these items will help you connect with your dog.

We bought more than one of some of these over the years, usually so individual dogs didn’t have to share, like the Twist’n’Treats.  Only one of these on the below list ever broke–the Tug-a-Jug–because a human dropped it onto a hard floor and the base cracked, and we replaced it, but over the years we bought at least three and the dogs loved them.

Always monitor your dogs when playing with toys.  Pieces can be chewed off quicker than you might think, and you don’t want an emergency room visit to have something removed if swallowed.  We suggest avoiding toys with “squeakers”–these get removed by dogs easier than anything else and can also be swallowed, choke a dog, or otherwise block her system.

This PetSafe brand Twist’n’Treat rated #1 with our dogs.  It unscrews so you can put small treats, kibbles, or biscuits inside.  It’s easy for a dog to chew, and it takes some time and effort for your dog to unscrew it to get the prize inside.  It’s also easy to tighten it over time after it gets easier for the dog to figure out.

This PetSafe brand Tug-a-Jug rope toy and treat dispenser is a big hit.   Two dogs will play tug-o’-war with it, and if a person holds it, as many as three dogs can take turns pulling the rope down to release a kibble treat.  The holes at the bottom allow the scent of the treats inside outward to attract your furry friend.  It unscrews simply to add more treats or to clean it.

Do you have a dog who loves to work his brain? Then this one is for him/her.  It’s a casino with slots and removable toys for dispensing treats.  Your dog will figure it out, component by component.  Drawers open only after the dog figures out how to remove the bone pegs on top.  It’s from Outward Hound, and you can’t go wrong with any of their educational pet toys.  Make sure you monitor use on this, especially with a bigger dog who might be inclined to chew the plastic bone parts.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In that niche area of dystopian dog movies (that’s the adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and his Dog and… ?), Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs not only soars to the top of the list, it’s a great film in all sorts of categories: it’s new, yet a classic children’s story, it’s a timely political allegory, and it’s a solid movie about dogs.  We knew Anderson had a grasp on animals in his surprisingly good Fantastic Mr. Fox, but audiences will soon learn he also understands dogs and dog behavior.  The trailers don’t really prepare moviegoers for what lies ahead.  Sure, it’s about an island of exiled dogs so of course audiences are in for a bleak ride, complete with at least one dead canine, lots of dogs in peril as well as many mutilated and diseased.  Yet Isle of Dogs is surprisingly grand in scope, thought-provoking, and even heartwarming.  And epic–don’t be surprised if you start thinking about the closest Martin Scorsese or Stanley Kubrick movie while you’re glued to the screen.  Despite some witty dialogue in places from Anderson’s smart script, this is less comedy and more drama than his past efforts.

The dystopian world is better realized, bigger in scope, and yet more personal than typical futurist visions, beyond that dismal hopeless doom of Mad Max, The Postman, Escape From New York, Twelve Monkeys, Snowpiercer, Looper, Logan’s Run, and District 9.  Isle of Dogs is probably closer to WALL-E and Planet of the Apes in feel.  Isle of Dogs is gloomy and dark and bleak, but it offers a ray of hope for the future from a 12-year-old Japanese boy named Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) and a freckle-faced, high school exchange student named Tracy from Ohio (Greta Gerwig), both out to defy an autocratic government’s ban on dogs.  That’s thanks in major part to the vivid, eye-popping world of future Japan filmed by celebrated Aardman Animations stop-motion cinematographer Tristan Oliver (A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers, Chicken Run), and the encompassing sounds from this year’s Oscar-winning composer for The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat (Harry Potter series, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Golden Compass).  As to the stop-motion, audiences can marvel at how far Hollywood has come since the Ray Harryhausen era.  The film follows Anderson’s design choices first seen in his Fantastic Mr. Fox and only continues to add to the unbelievable magical movements carried forward by Aardman’s achievements.  And instead of a typical Romantic, programmatic score, Desplat’s best choices can be found in his use of loud, almost frightening Japanese taiko drums, Fumio Hayasaka’s haunting theme from Seven Samurai, the more celebratory bits from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije, and a simple recurring dog whistle.

Anderson offers up admirable tributes to Japanese culture and film, everywhere from costume design to modern TV reporting stylings, to Hayao Miyazaki themes and Akira Kurosawa landscapes, to traditional imagery like beautiful ukiyo-e on walls and cherry blossoms floating by at the right time.  Isle of Dogs finds a firm footing on the children’s classics shelf of your film library, alongside Roald Dahl’s Mr. Fox but also his Willy Wonka.  It also has much in common in tone with Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.  The political allegory is thick and layered, a mix of the nuanced and the obvious, a mirror reflection of society that you’d have found years ago in a Frank Capra movie.  Science is mocked, scorned, and worse.  Experts are traitorous and immigrants are exiled.  It’s also graphic in parts at a baser level, showing an animated meal from a dumpster with creepy crawlies that may make your stomach turn, plus an open chest surgery, bloody, torn body parts, and dogs with missing eyes and open wounds.

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In Memoriam

If you’ve read borg.com very long you’ve probably noticed several memorials posted for dogs that have passed away this summer.  That’s because I raised a greyhound and then found a coonhound along the interstate in 2001 and brought her home to find she was pregnant.  I (I, meaning my wife and I) then raised her nine puppies to adulthood.  The last of these passed away this summer, Jade–who died a few weeks after her 16th birthday and Jasmine about two months ago.  I challenge anyone to find anything more fulfilling and rewarding than raising dogs or cats as family members (and no, I am not recommending eleven at once, but I had the space and time and could afford it).  Like every worthwhile pursuit, good things come with trade-offs.  If you raise your dogs or cats well they grow old.  With old age comes loss and grief since animals don’t live as long as humans.  But you do it anyway.

My wife and I were incredibly lucky that a little stray kitten walked up my driveway a little more than two years ago on a stormy rain-soaked evening.   The prospect of bringing a stray kitten into a house where we had five dogs at the time was not really in the cards.  But she kept coming back and became a wonderful friend.  I found her sleeping in my irises every day and she’d greet me when I came home from work, audibly, cheerily.  We’d sit on the porch together.  It wasn’t until this neighborhood cat was sleeping out in a neighbor’s driveway, behind a car on a 103 degree humid summer day in 2016 that I decided I had to bring her in to get her into some air conditioning, at least for the daytime hours.  Someone had her front claws removed (never do this) and I saw her one night being bullied by another stray cat.  One too many nights outside and after getting used to her inside with the dogs more and more, we just kept her inside, for good, got her check-ups, vaccines, etc.  Surprisingly she helped our old dogs Flint, Jade, and Jasmine in their final months, providing an immense presence of youth, vitality, and sheer joy to what had become a hospice home for elder dogs.  Our new cat–Sophie–became Jadie’s kitty, and Jade showed her the ropes.  And Sophie did more, helping my wife and me move forward when our last dog passed away.  Sophie completely saved us.  And the last two months were extraordinary.


As the emergency room doctor said last night, “Sometimes you’re dealt a bad deck of cards medical science doesn’t even understand.”  After a routine procedure Saturday morning turned into complications, Sophie passed away last night.  She will be missed by this house that has seen far too much despair in the past several years.  Sophie was social and talked cheerily like no other cat I have ever seen.  She became our best friend, someone who chatted us awake every day, and was a great playmate, and partner in everything.  Growing up primarily with dogs, I never figured I’d ever have my own cat–I just never considered it–and she made me a believer, sitting on my lap as I watched TV, being the bright point of every day.  But she only got 70 days of exclusive focus and attention after Jasmine left us.  She was only about four years old.  I find myself down twelve kids and scratching my head asking, “how is it I am supposed to stay positive?”  So in an effort to turn the worst day I ever had into something positive: please use this moment as a reminder to go love on your cat and/or dog or other kid or friend or spouse.  Don’t squander time.  I thought I’d have at least another 10-15 years with Sophie.  And if you don’t have a cat or dog, several thousand were abandoned in the floods and fires across America this year and need homes.  If you can afford it and you’re willing to provide the attention and time every day that any other family member would need–and deserves–then please check out hurricane and flood rescues and Western fire rescues–and remember any other animals in your local animal rescues that you save will clear rooms for more waiting to be placed into a good home.  The world around us is often bleak and dreary.  So consider making your life brighter and make their lives brighter at the same time by bringing someone new into your home.

Several charities are out there in need of your help, too.   Like these:


Alley Cat Allies

Animal Rescue League

Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary

Frankie’s Friends

Great Plains SPCA

Humane Society

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary


Wayside Waifs

Thanks, as always for reading.

C.J. Bunce

End of an era

We’re flying our borg.com flag at half mast today for our support team member Jasmine, who passed away last evening,  who celebrated her 16th birthday two months ago, and was the last of nine sibling hound kids we’ve raised.  We’d rescued her mama from the middle of the interstate 16 years and 3 months ago on my birthday, and were immersed in a big family ever since.  (Fred Flintstone had nothing on my greeting when I arrived home each day).  If you ever are lucky enough to live among a family of dogs, you’ll know how each has as defined and as individual a personality as any two-legged family member, and Jasmine was the self-designated communicator of the group.  Something’s happening?  Jasmine reported on it.  She was also a night owl like me, and was often my reason for being up and around, writing or not, into the wee hours of the morning.  Sometimes that’s just when she thought play time should be.  And that was just fine.

She was a sweetheart to everyone she met, loved crowds of people as much as crowds of dogs, and was fascinated with other animals, dog variety or not.  One of the best experiences I personally have ever witnessed was when I took her out after midnight in the backyard one night as she calmly and cordially encountered an opossum, nose to nose, approaching each other from opposite parts of the yard.  Each were taken aback only briefly, as if to say, “oh, excuse me, good evening to ya” and then they both continued along as if they met someone on the street, as friendly as can be.

Jasmine was also a snow bird, but she didn’t like snow fences, and whether she could make it or not, you couldn’t hold her back from hurdling one if she saw something on the other side.  We always knew Jasmine was a coonhound, but her border collie genetics were always out front, too–she was always ready for the next activity and always sporting her smile.  And, of course, she was a big cosplayer, spending Renaissance Faire weekends for the better part of the past decade in fairy, or Viking, or other garb.

At a week shy of 114 dog years, the girl who thought her name was “Hi, Sweetheart!” passed away simply from old age.  She wore out (and didn’t rust out) every system one by one (the way all of us should if we’re lucky), but was riding her bike just the day before she passed and was out looking at the garden flowers only five minutes before she left us.  We were lucky to be able to help our old girl squeeze the pulp out of every day.  We’ll miss her.

As always, thanks for reading, and for your support.

C.J. Bunce

Captain Flint

Capt Flint in command

The borg flag is flying at half-mast today in honor of our support staff member Flint, who passed away Saturday at 15 years old (or 107 depending on if you follow that dog years thing).

Flint was an avid cosplayerhound who was always happy to pose for our photo needs here at borg.com.  He was also our pack’s alpha and a great leader and friend to his siblings.

Super Flint and Grandma

And Flint made for a perfect Krypto.

You may remember we celebrated his 15th birthday this past May here at borg.com.  Not bad for a breed with a 12-year life expectancy (coonhounds, not cosplayerhounds).

Day 2 Flint D cleaned

Flint was a regular for nearly a decade at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

Flint ren fest

He’ll be missed by his sisters Jade and Jasmine and all his family and friends.

Back to normal programming tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.

C.J. Bunce

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