By Dr. Marty Becker
March 18, 2011
I know the rest of the PetConnection team has already written their blog posts, but this is honestly the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down with my laptop. As usual, I’ve been on the move non-stop since Teresa and I got off the plane. I walk every inch of the trade-show floor, several times, and usually have a handful of commitments to sign books, act as a master of ceremony for one presentation or another … and of course, I know just about everyone here so I can’t make it 20 feet without stopping to say hello. I never used to “cover” Global Pet Expo, but since Gina and I became writing partners we’ve really had a blast building a reporting team and coming up with a list of our PetConnection crew’s favorite products from among the tens of thousands on display.
Before I get to the winners, though, I want to tell you how we went about choosing them.
The first day of the show, we break up and spread out, each of us with no expectations except to cover the 12 football fields worth of booth space in a few hours and look at every single booth at least once. This year, we sent four reporters out: Ericka Basile, who’s our product-review coordinator; David Greene, our associate editor and “field commander” for the show; and of course me and my wife, Teresa. Gina was supposed to be one of the reporters Wednesday, but she got stranded back at the hotel launching the website for our 30-city book tour next month.
Each of us ended the day with a list of about 20 or so products we wanted in consideration, and then David put all those in a spreadsheet for review Thursday morning. We winnowed down the list to about 30 or so, and we all went out to review the products again while Gina went out to see the semi-finalists for the first time. We met again at lunch and hashed out the finalists, then the winner. Ericka and the PR team from Global Pet then pulled the products for the announcement, which I just made.
Now, finally, it’s time to reveal “Becker’s Best” consensus winners.
Here’s our picks starting with my Best in Show:
Hagen CatitÂ Senses Line Food Maze ($24): Enrichment! As more and more of our cats live in the house for their own protection and the protection of potential prey (and to avoid conflicts with neighbors) too many of them are just plain bored. And overweight, besides. The need for environmental enrichment is very strong for cats, and we saw a lot of new products in this area, a few of which will be the topic of reviews in the future. Our team loved the Food Maze from Hagen, though, making it an almost unanimous choice for my Best in Show from all our final selections. It just stood out on so many levels, from design to price. There are several different modules to the Food Maze to add as you want, and cats will love having to hunt a little harder for their food. The team also thought watching the cats enjoy themselves would be entertaining for the kids in the family.
DogTekÂ Eyenimal video camera ($129): OK, I admit it, I love high-tech stuff. The Eyenimal is a small video camera, small enough to fit on even a cat’s collar. With 8 MB of storage and a couple hours of battery life, you can really get a lot of fun video from your pet’s point of view. Gina already nabbed a review product for the book tour, intended to record video from the collar of her dog McKenzie, who’ll be our official tour dog. So yes, we like this product so much we’ll be using it next month!
SmartyKat – Brush-Up $15. Keeping cats happy and entertained is always a challenge, right? The Brush-Up impressed all of us with its reasonable price and its tower ofÂ “grabby” fingers for the cat to rub her body against. Creative, simple and inexpensive. Great combination!
Doggone Smart Pet Products – , , , etcÂ Â $12-300. Products that make you say “Wow, I want that in my home!” is how our team described Doggone Smart Pet Products. Dog collars, pet beds and a whole variety of items that are all impregnated with nanotechnology that not only repels liquids, dirt and oils, but it’s bariostatic. That’s a fancy word for saying it keeps the bacteria that makes a dog bed stink from sticking to the bed. Again, I love technology!
Premier – Rip n Tug $12.99. I always admire Premier’s dedication to making toys that are durable as well as good looking. The Rip n Tug is coming to the market soon, and when it does, your dog will line up to play with it. It combines a rope with a tough toy that has a treat compartment buried inside. It combines the best of the rope pull toys with a treat dispenser. Best of all, if you have two dogs, they can both play with it!
Petmate – Clean Response Swivel Bin & Rake - $23.99. Everybody liked how easy this doggie waste cleanup tool was to use. In fact, Teresa wants to try this at Almost Heaven Ranch! It works like a dustpan and rake, with a tall handle (three feet in height). There is a large capacity waste container, and you use your own plastic grocery bags you might otherwise be throwing away. Â Best of all, there’s an ingenious swivel design built in, so the waste stays in the bin while you’re transporting it to the trash can (picture at right showing me demonstrating. I think I might be doing this a lot at home).
Pet Projekt Bloat Blocker $10-15. We all liked the simplicity and elegant design of the Bloat Blocker. It’s an effective tool to keep dogs from gulping down their food and water too fast. Â A dishwasher-safe obstacle suction cups to the food or water bowl, and slows down your dog’s intake speed. More gradual eating and drinking, less chance of air intake, less bloat! This can be removed from a bowl easily, and inserted into another one in seconds. Why didn’t I think of that?
Jordan Animal Solutions – Sunny Cat Seat Bed $19.99 (reviewed by our own Ingrid King on her consciouscat blog). Another simple, creative idea – give your cat a bed that lets her be not just near the window, but right next to it! It’s very simple – a perch that attaches with suction cups to a clean window surface. The beds are very strong, and won’t collapse, even when two cats are trying to wrestle on the bed! We all thought the price was right, too. For less than twenty dollars, your cat can have her favorite spot in the whole house.
P.L.A.Y – Pet beds $95-105. These are just flat out beautifully made pet beds that are all made from recycled materials. David Collins’ playful, attractive designs will fit seamlessly in any house or back yard, and with any decor. The quality and attention to detail in their fabrics blew us all away.
Zoo MedÂ Aquatic Turtle Banquet Block ($5): Ericka is always the advocate for items aimed at species I just don’t see much of, like turtles. Last year she found a turtle dock, and this year she liked this inexpensive product, which helps these pets get the nutrients they need.
Before the “Becker’s Best” choices were revealed, I was honored to announce the winners of Global Pet Expo’s New Product Showcase Awards. They’re under the jump, below!
Global Pet Expo’s New Product Showcase Awards were:
Jellyfish Art, LLC – Desktop Jellyfish Tank
Fetch-It Pets, Inc – Polly Wanna Pinata The New Generation
Doggles – Plush Bottle Toys
Ware Manufacturing – Earthly Elements II
JW Pet Company, Inc. – Pet Dog Toys
Head of the Pack - Freezy Pups
United Pet Group Blacksburg - TetraFauna Viquarium
Ware ManufacturingÂ – Bamboo Bio Bowls and Eco-friendly Feeders
Point of Purchase
Planet Dog – The Orbee-Tuff Counter Top Display
Photo credit: Hagen Cat Maze, hagen.com. Dr. Marty Becker with the Petmate Clean Response Swivel Bin, Ericka Basile.