Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '05 Trends: Gear for pooches

The pet industry is a booming one, with sales exceeding $34 billion in 2004. And, likely while product offerings for pets from companies in the outdoor industry will likely barely even register in the accounting of overall pet sales, it is clear that more companies in the outdoor industry are seeking to cash in on American's love affair with their animals.
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The pet industry is a booming one, with sales exceeding $34 billion in 2004. And, likely while product offerings for pets from companies in the outdoor industry will likely barely even register in the accounting of overall pet sales, it is clear that more companies in the outdoor industry are seeking to cash in on American's love affair with their animals.

At Winter Market, over 25 exhibitors had something to offer for the pooch we love to share the outdoors with. Everything from better designs for collapsible bowls, feeding stations with refrigeration, and leashes with style were finding their way into booths and onto retail shelves.

What follows then are just a few of the many products being offered. No, it is not a comprehensive report. We're just offering up those companies and products that really made us sit up a howl at the moon -- sorry. If we don't mention you, please don't bark at us. Instead, chalk up the absence of your mention to the fact we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently, we were taking a nap, or we were clearly chasing our own tails too much to see what was good -- you pick one.

With that in mind, here are our picks for cool products for pooches:

Premier Pet Products -- Premier gives us a safety item that will come in handy to prevent accidental strangulation due to a dog's collar becoming tangled. The Keepsafe Break-away Collar features a quick release mechanism that allows the collar to pull free from a dog's neck when a certain amount of pressure is applied. Collar accidents occur when you least expect it. www.premier.com

Ruffwear -- Leave it to this outdoor industry pet veteran to create just the thing for those of us who prefer to flout the law and walk our dogs without a leash. The Quick Draw Leash wraps flat around a dog's collar secured with a Velcro fastener. Should you need to get quick control of your dog or put on a good show for the animal control cops, the Quick Draw Leash pulls away from the collar and presto, instant leash-control. www.ruffwear.com

Olly Dog -- Unlike your average nylon webbing collar, the Olly Dog folks have turned to waterproof materials that are non-absorptive and are easily cleaned to offer up Tilden, Presidio and Marin collars and control leads that are extremely light, strong, resist odor retention, and come in cool colors -- our headquarters' head hound, Bingo, is strutting with even more attitude in his glow-in-the-dark collar. And because your dog just can't help himself, the company offers up Olly's Odor Out, which washes away smells they roll in or get sprayed with using an all natural enzyme/microbe formal that's pet and environment safe. You can use it on car upholstery and furniture. www.ollydog.com

The Good Dog Company -- The Good Dog Company has a collection of "Lab-Tested" (couldn't resist) products build with 100-percent hemp canvas. These products are worth mentioning for those customers who have difficulty finding items for their dogs that conform to the vegan lifestyle they've chosen for themselves. The Bungee-Bone is a tough springy hemp fabric tug toy with a squeaker inside for enthusiastic playtime fun. Soft yet durable, the rugged design keeps the hemp stuffing in place and resists even the sharpest teeth. www.thegooddogcompany.com

OurPet's -- Be it known that the staff at SNEWS® are dog people who admit freely that since canines rule our lives, they often go on road trips with us…which means packing food, bowls, water, chew toys, etc. At last someone has created an easy solution for carrying our dog's gear (who owns whom?!). The Store-N-Feed To Go is essentially a cooler that can hold up to 20 pounds of dog food. The upper tray is an elevated platform for the included water and food bowl (all large dogs should eat with their food up off the floor to prevent medical mayhem). The cooler is enclosed in a nylon carrying sack with handles, pockets and a shoulder strap. This a "what took so long?" product for pet guardians. www.ourpets.com

Zukes -- Heck, Zuke's Peanut Butter Mini Naturals looked so good, we almost nabbed one or two treats ourselves -- of course, we'd been eating nothing but convention center food for two days. All natural, loaded with good-for-the-dog ingredients, and designed to be used as a training tool or a reward for staying close when on the trail, the Mini Naturals also come in chicken and salmon flavor (and no, we weren't so tempted by those). www.zukes.com

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