Doggone Orlando

News, views and reviews for Orlando pet parents from the mom of a menagerie of cats, dogs, birds, horses, fish, and guinea pigs who stays just one step ahead of the "Animal Hoarders" TV crew

Wisdom Panel DNA test takes the mystery out of mixed-breed mutts

b4When I adopted my dog, Bolt, the shelter’s best guess was Chiweenie, which makes him either a designer dog if you follow outcross trends or a plain old-fashioned mutt. It’s easy to see why he got that label, as he has Chihuahua satellite dish ears, but a longer face and body and T-rex front legs that give him a distinctive Dachshund flair.

I’ll admit, I’ve been very curious about his true heritage. Now I don’t have to wonder anymore, thanks to the Wisdom Panel. Just as DNA does everything these days, from finger criminals to let home owners associations ID dogs that do the dirty on neighbors’ lawns, it also reveals the mystery of your hound’s heritage.

Giving your dog a Wisdom Panel DNA test is as easy as swabbing a sample from his mouth, sending it off to the lab, and awaiting the results. I was able to experience this ease for myself, as the kind folks at Wisdom Panel sent me a kit to use on Bolt.

He was very tolerant of the swabbing process, and I left the swabs out to dry as I registered our kit online. Then I popped it into the mail and received an email confirmation of its arrival a couple of days later. Within the next two or three weeks I’ll know whether he’s the illicit love child of a fling between Taco Bell dog and a wiener hound or if there’s a wild card in the mix.

b5Wisdom Panel is actually in the middle of a cross-country Swab-A-Thon. They’ve already been to Florida, but you can track the progress and other locations on their website. As a big proponent of shelter dogs and mixed breeds, I love what they’re doing to allow adoptive pet parents to know a little more about their new pup’s background.

If you adopt a puppy, you’ll have some idea of just how large it might grow. For a dog of any age, you’ll know what personality traits your dog might be prone to display and use that knowledge to your advantage when training him. You’ll also be warned about possible breed-related health problems that could crop up.

I’ll be sure to share Bolt’s Wisdom Panel results as soon as they’re ready. (Update: find out the results here.) He definitely has the smart but stubborn personality of a Dachshund, and his size seems about right when that’s melded with a Chihuahua (not to mention the giveaway ears), but you never know. I might just be in for a surprise when the final result is in. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can learn more about the Wisdom Panel in the video below:

You can order your own Wisdom Panel kit via Amazon:

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Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I also do pet tweets from that account. Email comments and story ideas to

My spoiled mutt has a Lazy Bonezz stroller and NYNE Cruiser speakers

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Bolt’s a very spoiled little mutt who’s forgotten his humble beginnings at Polk County Animal Control, where you’ll always find wonderful dogs for adoption. Not only does Bolt enjoy his walks on the leash, but he also loves having me do all the work as I push him around in a stroller.

I have a LazyBonezz Lazy Jogger, which lets him ride around in comfort if his little T-rex legs get too tired on long journeys. He watches the world through the mesh as he hands out on the comfy seat.

I like the stroller myself because it has room to carry leashes and other gear, as well as a nice, cold beverage. I can walk Bolt to the local Starbucks, which wears him out in the summer heat, get a nice iced latte, and use the cup holder as I push him home. It’s a lot better than carrying around 13 pounds of exhausted doggy, which I had to do a couple of times when I first adopted him last year and took him on walks that were just a bit too lengthy.

The stroller is also great for days when it’s so hot that a dog’s paw pads can only stand limited exposure, and that’s all too common here in Florida. I’m so glad the kind folks at LazyBonezz let me try out their product because it’s one of those review items that’s handy and practical enough to use regularly.

b8I didn’t know something was missing on our jaunts until I had another recent review opportunity, this time for the NYNE Cruiser Bluetooth Speaker. Its black and blue color scheme, while attractive, clashed against the pink of the stroller, but I was going to let a lack of color coordination get in the way of a full-scale test.

Although you can carry it around, the NYNE Cruiser Bluetooth Speaker easily mounts to bicycle handlebars or, in this case, the stroller handle. It pairs with devices via Bluetooth so you can blast your music from your iPod or other device while you’re out on your walk. It also has a built-in microphone, which lets you use it to make phone calls, but I didn’t try out that functionality. I was mainly interested in good quality speakers for my outdoor time, and the Cruiser delivered.

The speaker stayed mounted to my Lazy Jogger stroller, even on the bumpy boardwalk where I head to town and my Starbucks fix. It has an excellent battery life, so thus far I’ve never run out of juice on any of my journeys. I plan to bring it with me next time I go to the beach or any outdoor event where a portable speaker would come in handy. Since you can pair it to virtually any device, it’s also great for streaming services like Pandora (or Sirius XM if you subscribe) if you’re in a spot where you get WiFi.

b7For now, I mainly use it for my iPod play list, whether around the house, outside, or when we’re on a Mom and doggy jaunt around the neighborhood. Between his LazyBonezz stroller and his NYNE Cruiser speakers, Bolt is one of the best tricked-out doggies in town.

Lazy Bonezz has a variety of fashionable dog products. I love their throws like this one on Amazon:

Bolt also recently reviewed Pawstruck Bully Sticks. To see what he thought about these bull pizzle chews (yep, that’s what bully sticks are), check out his review here.

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Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I also do pet tweets from that account. Email comments and story ideas to

Bully for you! Bolt shows his approval of Pawstruck bully sticks

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As I’ve shared previously, my dog Bolt loves bully sticks, bull pizzles, hooves, and all manner of other gross-sounding natural dog treats. It’s hard to find chew treats that stand up to his strong little teeth and jaws for any length of time, but it takes him a while to work his way through bully sticks. Thus I was thrilled when the kind folks at Pawstruck offered to send him some of their sticks to review.

1Previously, I picked up the standard long bully sticks at the store. Bolt loved them, and they held up reasonably well to his chewing. When I opened the package from Pawstruck, I found several fun varieties.Bolt’s nimble nose got wind of something dog-friendly in the package, and he was underfoot immediately and ready to start the review.

Pawstruck bully sticks are all natural, and they’re nice and thick to ensure longer doggy enjoyment time. I decided to start Bolt off with a linked bully stick “chain,” since it appeared to be very durable. I like to give him a chew snack in the late morning or early afternoon to keep him occupied while I work, and the longer it holds his attention, the better.

Happily, he danced for the bully chain and was thrilled when I finally gave it to him. He carried it off to his favorite spot on the couch (which is normally the one area that’s not covered by a dog-mess resistant throw) and promptly set to work on it. He finally fell asleep without managing to finish it, so it turned into a multi-day project, although he finally did manage to whittle it away to nothingness with his determined little fangs.

3I don’t give Bolt bully sticks every day because they’re a rather rich snack that I like to feed in moderation. I doled out the Pawstruck bully sticks at the rate of one per week, and he was just as enthusiastic each time as he was with the first “chain” treat. I really don’t know if dogs notice or care about the shape of their goodies, but I personally like a variety, so I got a kick out of all the options.

For Bolt, I know he likes something when it keeps his full attention, and also when he uses it to taunt and guard against the cats. Being regal felines, they have no interest in his lowbrow doggie treats, but he’s firmly convinced that they conspire to steal his favorites. He gave an annoyed growl and moved his Pawstruck bully sticks away whenever a cat was in the vicinity. Later, when he was trying to entice them to play, he waved the remnants of one of the chewed up raggedly bully sticks at them while desperately play bowing and trying to understand why cats never seem to understand the appeal of a bull’s private parts or the nuances of dog play.

Pawstruck actually has a number of dog chews, like filled bones and antlers, which you can find on their website. I know it’s a little early to think about Christmas, but really, it will be here before you can blink an eye, and the Pawstruck goodies would make great doggy stocking stuffers. Just don’t put them out too far ahead of time or you pup might raid his sock.

If you want to give your dog a more ironic goody, check out these alligator chews that Bolt reviewed previously. All too often, small dogs in Florida become gator snacks if they venture too close to a body of water, so the Whimzees chews are a great way for them to get a bit of symbolic vengeance.

You can buy Pawstruck bully sticks for your own dog on Amazon:

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Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I also do pet tweets from that account. Email comments and story ideas to

Don’t let summer pet emergencies catch you by surprise

Fourth of July is over, but summer’s still got a while to go. We’re not even into the Dog Days yet. And speaking of dogs (and cats), pets face many hot weather emergencies that can cost their lives if you don’t know what to do.

Dr. Heather Loenser is a busy E.R. veterinarian who sees certain types of emergencies repeatedly every summer. Here are the top problems she sees, along with ways to prevent them or handle them if they happen to your pet:


Like humans, pets can suffer with allergies in the summer. Often, this comes out as itchy skin. If you see your dog scratching wildly, try a soothing pet shampoo like Splash Plus, which contains salicylic acid for added benefits . Leave it on for at least five minutes, as it won’t be effective if you lather it up, then immediately rinse it off. Dr. Loenser uses the shampoo in the Today Show segment below, where she also chats about other emergencies discussed later in this article:

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is all too common, and so is the one big mistake that people make when trying to give first aid. DO NOT douse your pet with cold water! It might seem logical to aim for a fast cool-down, but that can actually be deadly. Instead, cool down your dog gradually with warm water and a fan. Resist the urge to turn on your car’s air conditioning if you need to take him to the vet.

In addition to limiting your pet’s exposure to the heat, you can use a cooling vest like Kumfy Tailz to help him stay safe and comfortable on the hottest days. Bolt appreciates it when the Florida sun is beating down on him. The video below tells more about the harness:

Bee Stings

Bee stings are particularly insidious because many pet owners don’t realize their animal has been stung. Suddenly your dog has hives, and you have no idea why. If it turns out she was stung, an antihistamine like Benadryl will offer relief.


When you’re barbequing outside, you might leave hazards around without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, bones, corn cobs, and even peach puts can be deadly to dogs. The number one surgery that Dr. Loenser does every summer is removing corn cobs from dogs’ intestines. Prevent these issues by disposing of edible trash securely so animals can’t break into it. If your dog is poisoned and you need to induce vomiting, you can use hydrogen peroxide.


Nasty critters like ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes love to attack pets in the summer. Use medications to protect your them, and be especially diligent about heart worm protection for dogs. Whatever you do, do not use a lit match to remove a tick. Removal with pointy tweezers is the proper method. I use Adams products on my pets because they have an easy applicator for their spot treatments and also make an excellent yard spray.

The video below shows proper tick removal:

The Red Cross has a helpful app for iPhones and Android devices. It costs 99 cents, but it’s a good investment to keep emergency information close at hand.

All too soon it will be back to school time, then Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Those holidays bring their own pet protection challenges, so I’ll have some tips when they get closer. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the summer and keep your furry family safe!

Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I also do pet tweets from that account. Email comments and story ideas to

Photo credit for image appearing on Facebook: Gatorgoon via photopin cc