Las Vegas is a strange and scary place. I didn’t realize this until yesterday afternoon, when I discovered that it’s easier to make your way through three hotels (conveniently connected at the hip) than it is to find the exit at the first one. These behemoths are structured so you never, ever have to leave. And why would you, when everything you could ever ask for — and a good number of things you didn’t ask for; hello, hulking sphinx statues — is in such close proximity?
It’s my first time at the SuperZoo Conference, one of the best-attended annual expos for pet retailers in the country. And like everything else in Vegas, it’s massive, full of shiny, pretty things, and extremely easy to get lost in. I’ve been instagramming my head off since I arrived (follow along over here, or follow Dogster on instagram for updates) but wanted to share the best and worst of what I’ve encountered on the floor with those of you who aren’t attached to your mobiles at the fingertips. Let’s get the worst out of the way first.
The 5 Worst Things From Day 1 of SuperZoo:
1. The Comfy n’ Easy Pet Dryer
When I first saw these, I thought “How clever! They’re taking a jab at the fur industry with this parody product.” But then I talked to the folks at the booth and discovered they were using real fur. On dog coats. The company is based in Canada, so I suppose it makes sense with the intense cold, but the hippy-dippy Californian in me was instantly horrified.
3. Dog Toys Shaped Like Dogs from Mighty
Because we don’t really want to encourage cannibalism this way, do we? I’m guessing not. And before you say “that’s a wolf, not a Husky,” see how this company also has a Golden Retriever version.
Please explain iBalls to me, somebody. Please? Because if I wanted to buy my dog a merkin, I would go out and just do that.
5. Ball Gowns and Bling for Dogs
My dog has more clothes than most, but there is a line — and I believe this collection crosses it. These things just look scratchy, and the neck pieces uncomfortable. I’ll feel sorry for the pup who will inevitably be tripping over that train.
The 8 Best Things From Day 1 of SuperZoo:
1. This Epic Treat-Making Machine from Reiser
2. The K-9 Kannon by Hyper Pet
If my dog liked to chase balls, I would invest in one of these. Heck, I might invest in a few just so I can start a war with my co-workers at HQ. If the Chuck-It is no longer doing it for you, it might be time for an upgrade.
3. Greg Gordon’s Talk: “How I Went From Selling Puppies for 38 Years to 100 Percent Adoption”
If I had to pick one single best thing from SuperZoo, it’d be this seminar. In fact, I plan to write a separate post for it once I escape Vegas. In his talk, pet store owner Greg Gordon covers how he went from decades of selling puppies from breeders to switching over to the adoption model. And how it wasn’t easy, but completely worth it. “We are adamant that we be the end of the problem and not a continuing source [of that problem],” he told a room full of pet store owners, rescuers, and journalists. “We need to tell people this can work. I don’t know why this isn’t happening everywhere.”
4. Cheerleading Outfits for Blind Dogs
Dogster Community Manager Lori Malm is big on blind dogs (her former Basset, Lucy, was blind) and when I saw these little cheerleading outfits I knew she’d get a kick out of them. Even better is the little fact that these are produced by Muffin’s Halo Guide for Blind Dogs, who are best known for their creative bumpers for blind dogs (pictured above).
5. Shared H-DuO Water Bottle for Hounds and Humans by Popware for Pets
Maybe I’m paranoid, but I think someone from Popware must have seen me sharing my glass of water with Mr. Moxie. They were probably icked out enough to want to come up with a less-disgusting solution to quenching hound and human thirst simultaneously. This clever tumbler has separate chambers for pet and person drinking, and then there’s the collapsible water bowl.
6. Gift Wrap for Dogs by Pet Party Printz
Have you ever wrapped a gift for your dog and then worried that the paper might contain toxic ink? The ladies behind Pet Party Printz did, and they came up with a nontoxic, soy-based material. Clever, and more proof that pets are the new kids.
7. Collapsible Rain Gear for Dogs by Canada Pooch
The Pacific Poncho (pictured in collapsible form and on two models above) is the canine equivalent of the collapsible ballet flat. I’m going to keep one of these in my car for a literal rainy day.
8. Squirrels in a Log by Pouncy Pets
Is this the most innovative, mind-blowing item on the floor? Maybe not, but if my dog had to vote, I’m sure this would be the one thing he’d want me to bring home. (In fact, when I return to the floor today, I’m contemplating purchasing a set if they’ll let me.) These are simple rubber balls stuffed inside plush squirrels, but those are two of Mr. Moxie’s favorite things TOGETHER AT LAST.
Dogster Readers: What products would you like small or big manufacturers to come up with for next year?