pawprint on the beach

The Intrepid Pup and Team Tavish aren’t out to launch an epic debate. Let’s just say that over the course of his intrepidness, Tavish has tried a bunch of different dog food, treats, toys, gear, etc.  While he continues to experiment from time to time (after all, part of being intrepid is being open to new ideas, right?), these are the long-time favs that work for him.  No goods or services were received in exchange for featuring these products here.

One note about the photos here: if some of the items shown look a little worn, it’s because they’ve been Tavish-tested, Tavish-approved!


Avoderm, Blue Buffalo, Castor & Pollux, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Since puppy-hood, Tavish’s dry kibble has been Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul*. Mixed with this, he also eats some wet/canned food. Team Tavish looks for American manufacturers who provide a healthy diet and quality ingredients. Tavish relishes the following in all their flavors and has a particular hankering for the “stew” blends:

*Update 5/30/12: Unfortunately, Tavish’s dry kibble was among the brands included in the voluntary recall earlier this month. He’s currently testing out some grain-free alternatives; we’ll keep you posted.


Greenies, Milo's Kitchen, Sam's Yams, Milk-Bones, Dentley's Rawhide Curls

The Intrepid Pup is exceedingly “food-driven,” so the treats are important!

  • Greenies® are a favorite, and it’s a rare day that Tavish doesn’t start his morning with one. If Team Tavish forgets, Tavish is quick to remind!
  • Dentley’s Rawhide Curls tend to be evening pastimes that keep the Intrepid Pup busy for awhile. He used to get the version with the knots on the ends, but he’d instantly chew those off and leave them, so the “knotless” variety seems a better bet.
  • Milo’s Kitchen™ treats are used as training treats and when Tavish has done something especially well.
  • Sam’s Yams are dehydrated sweet potatoes with the toughness of rawhide. They’re healthy, make for a fairly long chewing session, and don’t stain fabric/carpet. Tavish loves ’em!
  • Milk-Bone® dog biscuits are the staple when Tavish is on his therapy dog visits. BONUS: On command, the Intrepid Pup can reliably flip a Milk-Bone off his nose and catch it in mid-air. Never fails to impress.


Tuffy lobster

Honestly, Tavish seems to get his biggest thrills out of sticks, leaves, shadows, and the occasional ball. Moreover, he’s an “enthusiastic” chewer and tends to destroy even the loveliest of toys—and especially those with squeakers—in under 10 minutes. So if a chew toy isn’t built to last…well, it just won’t. Tavish’s “lobster” from Tuffy® is a nice nod to Tavish’s Maine heritage, takes lots of (ab)use, and hands down has outlasted—by years!—any other chew toy. ‘Nuff said.


Life vest from Paws Aboard
When the Intrepid Pup’s adventures extend offshore, this life vest from Paws Aboard goes with him. With a breathable mesh underside and adjustable Velcro and snap-buckle closures, it’s comfortable for him to wear on deck yet is functional and allows for full range of motion when he’s in the water.


Essential gearOkay, this is the gear you’ll see with the Intrepid Pup on short journeys, road trips, and therapy dog visits. First off, Planet Dog makes a collapsible, packable bowl that’s hard to beat.

Then there’s the Pet²O water bottle adapter. It is, without a doubt, the piece of gear that draws the most attention. It’s brilliant for its simplicity. Re-purpose and recycle any standard plastic water bottle by slipping the plastic Pet²O over the bottle’s neck. The “tray” detaches and, when re-inserted in the slot at a 90° angle, allows you to squirt water into it to be lapped up by your thirsty pup. A metal ring and plastic waist clip make for easy transport.

Petsport USA‘s Biscuit Buddy is a handy drawstring pouch that holds enough  treats to last a mini-adventure. It also boasts a slim pocket with a Velcro closure for keys or extra poly bags, as well as a plastic waist clip.

Last, but not least, there are the poly bags. We look for ones that won’t rip and are bio-degradable.


Gear for Walks

Tavish’s stylish, durable Ruffwear collar and matching 6-foot leash are nearly as old as Tavish. And when circumstances don’t dictate the 6-foot flat leash, the German-made Flexi Comfort 3 retractable lead is our go-to leash. It’s a well-engineered brute. When, after 6½ years of hard-charging daily use, the internal mechanism in Tavish’s first Flexi lead gave out during an Intrepid Pup photo shoot at the Iwo Jima Memorial, it was replaced post haste with the Flexi lead pictured above.

Forays under the cover of darkness bring out the Oval weatherproof NightWalker LED flashlight (for Team Tavish) and the Nite Ize® SpotLit blinking LED collar light for Tavish himself.


Trail gear

  • Cabela’s Ripstop chest protector was added to Tavish’s line-up in 2010, in anticipation of some backwoods hiking (during hunting season) in Maine’s Rangeley Lakes region. Not only does it make Tavish highly visible but it also keeps the underbrush from tearing up his belly where he doesn’t have much fur.
  • The Ruffwear Palisades Pack™ II is highly versatile. Ruffwear no longer manufactures this exact product but does carry similar ones. Tavish uses the pack’s black internal harness frame (pictured above middle, size S) when he’s traveling light, like scrambling over rocks on Mount Major’s Boulder Loop Trail in Alton Bay, New Hampshire. The assistance handle routinely comes in handy for helping the Intrepid Pup over obstacles…we recall a particularly hairy spot on the Appalachian Trail a few years back. When Tavish is out for an afternoon hike like on Mount Battie in Camden, Maine, we clip the red saddlebags (pictured above right) onto the frame. It took him a little bit to get used to his added width, but otherwise these are built for maintaining a comfortable, stable load. In addition to containing two bladders for carrying his own water, the saddlebags have accessory pockets in which we keep basic first aid items and some high-energy treats.
  • Spot My Dog reflective collar is great for evening walks and when you live, as we used, on the edge of hunting grounds. This company was only around for about five years, but boy, did they make a nice, heavy-duty reflective collar. Thankfully, you can still find them through some online retailers. Fun piece of trivia: Tavish was in a training class with the dog belonging to Spot My Dog’s CEO!


HarnessesAs a vizsla, Tavish is a mid-size breed with a slight build and narrow profile but a deep chest. It makes for a conundrum. If Team Tavish goes by the typical “recommended fit” measurements on many products, we’re steered toward stuff clearly intended for much smaller breeds. If we go by weight or girth, we wind up with “big dog” sizes. So when Team Tavish finds something that fits the Intrepid Pup appropriately, it’s pretty exciting. Two harnesses that make the grade are Puppia‘s mesh Soft Harness® AC30 (size XL) and Premier‘s nylon Sure-Fit Harness®. An exuberant Tavish can really pull, and with the harness style, the leash attaches to a ring that rests between his shoulder blades and causes less strain than if it were on his collar.


L. L. Bean dog pad

L. L. Bean has been making quality gear for more than a century, and Tavish’s dog pad is no exception. L. L. Bean no longer carries this exact product, so it’s good this one has withstood the test of time. It’s dual-sided and quilted with enough padding to be comfortable for a nap in the sun but not so much that you can’t roll it up and pack it with you. As such, this machine-washable pad has been everywhere: in the car, outdoors, dragged around the house, on therapy dog visits, etc.


Crypton Throver and cryptonite fabricOn his down time, Tavish is a couch potato, so protecting the leather sofa is a Crypton Throver (Tavish’s is in “Wiltshire Concrete”). This blanket is reversible with the trademark Crypton “performance fabric” on one side and a chic, solid suede on the other. Most spills will bead up or come out easily with soap and water, but when that isn’t enough, the Throver is also completely machine-washable. Team Tavish has been so happy with the Throver over the years that when it came to purchasing an ottoman recently, it was a no-brainer to choose the stylish Crypton fabric option as the upholstery (that’s the coppery orange fabric pictured above).