Test Drive

Up, pup!Taking steps to help your pet

By Lori Hutzler Eckert 

As author Roger Caras said, “Dog’s are not are whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” And it is for this very reason that dog owners across the nation are increasingly seeking new ways to better the lives of their canine companions.

Pearl-studded collars and couture carriers aside, many recently introduced products have a practical purpose that works for both pets and their owners, like Puppy Stairs.

This lightweight modular invention is one of those items that makes you smack your forehead in wonderment that you didn’t think of it yourself. Made of durable high-density industrial foam with a washable carpet-like cover, Puppy Stairs products are designed for small pets or dogs with age or health issues.

Our official Emerald Coast Magazine test dog, Stella, proved to be an excellent evaluator, having undergone knee surgery in the past. Stella has spent three years being lifted on and off her favorite chair. And at nearly 40 pounds, her owners were looking for a solution that would spare stress on Stella’s knees as well as their backs.

Puppy Stairs has a leg up on other products because of its unique ability to conform to your dog and your home. With a variety of cubes and ramps and a choice of four cover colors, Puppy Stairs can be customized to your specific needs.

Stella tested the Wedge 4 ramp, which is

14 inches at its highest point and 29 inches long. At this size, it certainly can distract from a carefully decorated room; however, the proportions allowed for the perfect incline for Stella to get on and off her chair without owner assistance.

In keeping with the teaching-an-old-dog-new-tricks rule, it initially took a lot of coaxing to train Stella to use her new ramp. After a few days of using it as her own Evel Kenivel-like device, as well as a pillow, she adapted to its true purpose, and her owners proclaimed the product a best in show winner.

Price range: $43.90 for a single cube to $440 for the three-piece wide/tall ramp systemReturns: Full refund within 30 days To purchase: www.puppystairs.com or (866) 767-4551 


If The Shoe Fits …

As if four days and five nights in Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas weren’t enough, you can take a piece of your vacation home with you in the form of custom-made sandals from Zora the Sandal-Maker. Prospective guests can book the “If The Shoe Fits . . .” Resort Shopping Package, and in a few days upon returning home, will receive their specially handcrafted, premium leather sandals. In addition to two pairs of handmade, leather Zora sandals, the package includes daily buffet breakfast, two pedicures to soothe those weary shopping feet, welcome drinks upon arrival and more. Rates begin at $363 per night. 800-524-2000, frenchmansreefmarriott.com.


Pro Putter

A putter is the one club that is used on every single hole and often contributes to half a golfer’s score. And yet many golfers will skimp on buying a quality putter and instead put their money into drivers that are used much less frequently. The new L2 Lateral Line Putter is unique because it allows a golfer to face the hole while putting, giving increased directional control, better distance control, minimal body movement, and more natural hand-to-eye coordination. Because the golfer is looking at the green with his/her head up, the L2 Putter allows a person to read breaks in the green much easier. $250 (plus S&H), 800-833-2495, www.L2putter.com.


Bearing All

In “The Bear Necessities of Business,” Build-A-Bear founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Bear Maxine Clark reveals the secrets to her success and how she built her global company from the ground up. One of her highly successful stores is located in Destin Commons. Other “make your own” stuffed animal stores existed prior to Clark’s starting Build-A-Bear Workshop, but her years of experience in retail allowed Clark to create her own successful concept for mall-based shopping. “The Bear Necessities of Business” is divided into seven sections, each based upon an essential element necessary to start, run, and market a thriving company. Available online at amazon.com or bn.com or in local Barnes & Noble stores. $24.95, buildabear.com.