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Earth Day and Green Manufacturing

As I took the used corrugate and paper to the recycling bin today, I was reminded that it was Earth Day.  Back in 1970 when Earth Day started, recycling was almost unheard of.  It is hard for me to remember that since recycling is now a norm for me.  I thought it would be worth letting you know what WAG Products does as a standard part of the manufacture of WaterDog Adventure Gear™ dog ladders.  I share this not to toot our own horn, but to lead by example.  This is our planet and we need to protect it so that generations to come can enjoy it with their dogs.

Let me say more about paper.  We recycle all of the corrugates we receive parts in.  Where practical, we occasionally reuse them.  All paper gets recycled.  We even recycle the cores from our packaging tape.  We recycle all of our scrap aluminum; even the mandrels from the aluminum pop rivets that hold our step assemblies together.  We recycle all aluminum beverage cans as well as plastic bottles.  We don’t have container deposits incenting us to do it; we do it because it is the right thing to do.  We regrind any scrap plastic parts so the material can be reused in other plastic component manufacturing.  We actually purchase recycled HDPE plastic to use for some components.  A local pallet manufacturer picks up our old pallets to reuse or recycle.  I’m probably missing something, but you get the idea.  We have little to no waste that goes to a landfill.  Some call it “green manufacturing.”  We just think it is common sense.

So the next time you and your dog are outdoors using one of our dog boat ladder or other great products, remember what we are doing and what you are (or could be) doing to save our planet.  Happy Earth Day, every day! 

Customer Pictures and Videos

Those of you who have followed our growth over the first two years of business have undoubtedly noticed more and more dogs other than me in our dog ladder pictures and videos.  When we notify customers that their order has shipped and communicate the tracking information, we tell them we welcome pictures or videos of their dog using our product.  Many of our customers are thrilled to share pictures and videos of their dogs using our products.  They also like the idea of making their dog “world famous” by being featured on our website or YouTube channel.

Since my humans have a bowrider, the submissions of our dog boat ladder products on pontoon boats, deck boats, ski boats, cruisers, etc. are much appreciated.  They help potential customers visualize how the product will work for their application.  As we tell everyone, the videos aren’t the slickest productions, but the unedited approach is reality.  And trust me, the boss is a good engineer, but he is no Steven Spielberg.  Our videos show the entire sequence, not brief segments like others use. 

Our waterfowl hunters have submitted great videos.  Those looking for a dog ladder for boat or blind applications have seen firsthand that they will no longer have to lift their retrieving dog back in the boat.  You also get to see other parts of the country.  The video on our website was from a customer using our product in the Florida Everglades.  The only hand the customer lifted was to pat the dog on the back after the retrieve.

Our newest submission comes from Australia where Simba, a four-month old Labrador Retriever, is learning to use his new dog pool ladder.  Since it is summer in that part of the world, it is getting put to good use.  As a reminder, our global customers can purchase our products using eBay’s Global Shipping Program and selecting the “EXPORT OFFERING” listing for the model you wish to purchase.  Simba’s human did and provided us with positive feedback stating that the unit arrived in Sydney within eight days of purchase.  We ship fast and it appears eBay does, also.

So I welcome the dogs that have joined me on the web, in our boat show videos, on our Facebook page and Pinterest.  Now, if any of you guys want to come be test engineers, have at it.  Most movie stars have stunt doubles, but the boss didn’t get that memo.

Dog Ladder Selection

Probably the one comment we hear most when showing customers one of our dog boat ladder products is, “I don’t need one THAT long!”  We understand why people respond that way initially.  For example, when you stand WAG Boarding Steps™ Model SLM-12 on end, it is almost 6′ in length.  However, what is important is the vertical rise.  When mounted on the boat swim ladder at a 45 degree angle, the vertical rise from the bottom step to the top step is only 44″ (3′-8″).  If this product is mounted on the bow ladder of a deck boat or even some pontoons, it may be 24″ to the water.  This leaves 20″ of steps in the water.  If you have a tall dog, you will need all of that to prevent your dog from having to pull themselves up.  If you have a swimming dachshund and your boat is closer to the water, you might not need all 12 steps.  Since we don’t do breed and boat specific models, we need to ensure there are enough steps for the majority of applications.  Too many steps is not a problem; too few is.  If your swim platform is real close to the water, WAG Boarding Steps™ Model PM-6 may work, but remember, it has only 24″ of rise from the bottom step to the mounting surface.  Fishing and hunting boats using WAG Boarding Steps™ Models LM-6 or HSM-6 have the same considerations from the transom/gunwale lip to the water.

Similarly, when selecting a dog dock ladder, vertical rise is the key parameter.  We have four models that are applicable for docks (five if you mount a swim ladder on your dock and use the SLM-12).  The distance from the top of the dock (or seawall) to the water is the starting point.  Unless you have a floating dock, this distance can vary and the maximum should be used.  With 6, 10 and 12-step models, vertical rise can range from 24″ to 48″.  Make sure you have enough steps in the water at all times for your size dog.  All of our dog dock ladder models can be mounted to be easily removed except for WAG Boarding Steps™ Model DM-12, which rests on the lake/river bed.  For this model, the distance from the dock surface to the bed needs to be no more than 6′-0″.  On the DM-12, you may be able to mount the top step 4″ below the dock surface to yield 48″ of vertical rise.

Our dog pool ladder and vehicle/home use models are also vertical rise dependent.  Most pool decks are within a few inches of the water level, so the 24″ rise of WAG Boarding Steps™ Model PM-6 is plenty.  Since most vehicles and beds are no more than 30″ above the ground, our WAG Boarding Steps™ Model FS-6 should work when allowing for up to a 6″ final step up from the top step to the desired access surface.

So when selecting a dog ladder, our bet is , “Yes, you do need one THAT long.”  As always, if you are still not sure, call our toll-free customer support line.  We won’t sell you more steps than you need, but we will make sure you get enough steps for your need.

Boat Show Season

I can always recognize this time of year.  The boss spends a lot of time on the phone talking with convention centers, hotels and U-Haul.  Yes, it is boat show season.  This is the time of year when my dog boat ladder ends up on a display stand instead of the boat and I get left behind to look out the window and watch it snow.

It seems even more chaotic this year because there are now seven models to display in a 10′ x 10′ booth.  Definitely more WAG for you and your dog!  It appears he is working on building a dock or shelf to be able to use the vertical space.  (Leave it to an engineer.)  The showroom gets emptied and there are boxes everywhere.  I think my rawhide got packed by accident.    

The first boat show WaterDog Adventure Gear™ will be at is the Minneapolis Boat Show on January 30 – February 2.  This will be our third year for this show.  The first year, we had one dog ladder for boat model and the boss took what would fit in our SUV.  He sold out.  Last year, we had five models and the boss took a 5′ x 8′ cargo trailer.  He sold out of three of the models.  This year, with seven models (twelve SKUs), he’s going to need something bigger.  Maybe he can rent a Winnebago and I can go with him.

Oh wait, a 10′ x 10′ booth.  Sounds like a dog kennel.  I think I’ll stay home and watch it snow.

Dog Frostbite

The boss always takes me for a walk or hike at lunch time, usually at a local park.  I always look forward to it.  But today in Wisconsin, it was not fun.  The ambient temperature was -15°F and the wind chill was -45°F.  I didn’t put up any resistance to making it a quick “business only” trip.  Neither one of us wanted frostbite.  As a public service to my fellow K-9s living in the north and for the imagination of those living in the south, I would like to share what frostbite is, what to look for, and how to have your human treat it. 

Frostbite is a condition that can occur as a result of exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures.  On dogs, it most commonly affects the tips of the ears, the tail, the scrotum, and the feet (especially the toes).  Blood flowing through the vessels not only supplies oxygen nutrients to tissues, it also provides heat.  If a portion of the body, such as an ear, becomes very cold, the blood vessels in that area constrict (become smaller) to help the body conserve heat.  The tissues of the ear then have even less blood supply and can eventually become as cold as the surrounding temperatures.  If the tissue actually freezes, it will die. 

Initially frostbitten tissue may appear pale or gray in color.  The area will be cold to the touch and hard.  As the area thaws it may become red.  In severe frostbite, within several days the tissue will start to appear black in color and will eventually slough over the course of several weeks.  The tissue at this point will generally not be painful.  However, as the tissue warms, frostbite becomes very painful. 

To treat, tell your human to do the following: 

Warm the affected area rapidly with warm (NEVER HOT) water.  The recommended water temperature is 104 -108° F.  Use warm compresses or soak the affected area in a bowl of warm water.  Do NOT use direct dry heat such as a heating pad or hair dryer.  After warming the area, dry it gently and thoroughly.  Do NOT rub or massage the affected area.  Contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic and have your pet examined immediately.  Keep your pet warm during the travel to the veterinarian.  For instance, wrap your pet in a dry towel or blanket that has been cycled in a warm clothes dryer for several minutes.  Do NOT warm a frostbitten area if it cannot be kept warm.  Refreezing will greatly injure the tissues.  Do NOT give any medication for pain unless instructed to do so by the veterinarian.  Many human pain relievers can be toxic to dogs.

Hopefully, this advice will prevent you from getting frostbite and educate your human on preventing and treating it.  I may discuss heat stroke in a future blog, but right now, I can’t even imagine what that is like.

Happy Holidays

As we wind down our second year of sales, the boss and I want to pause and thank all of our customers for their business and wish everyone a joyous holiday season.

Here in Wisconsin, it becomes a challenge to think of those warm days on the water.  My set of WAG Boarding Steps™ Model SLM-12 are gathering dust and our boat is somewhere in a warehouse.  The lakes are already freezing over and there are bunny prints in the snow all over the backyard.  The boss is busy getting ready for this winter’s boat shows.

It won’t be long before we head over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house in Upstate New York.  I like Grandma’s house because it usually takes her a couple of days to remember I eat her cat’s food.  I’m just glad the cat is declawed.  Unfortunately, there’s no swimming in New York either at this time of year, but the sledding is great!

So it is a great time to reflect, enjoy family and make those resolutions for the new year.  We have accomplished a lot this year, but won’t be satisfied until we have provided more WAG for every dog and their humans.  Our resolution is to continue to offer the best products available, create U.S. jobs and have fun doing it.

Well, time to get the boss working on those dog ice skates.  It’s going to be a long winter.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

Website Changes

Welcome to our new WaterDog Adventure Gear™ website!  If this is your first visit, you won’t notice the change.  If you are a returning visitor, you will notice a lot of change.

First of all, visitors to the home page are directed to products by application (versus model).  When we started almost two years ago, we only had one WAG Boarding Steps™ model; now we have seven.  Some WAG Boarding Steps™ models have multiple applications.  To make it easier for you, we made this navigation change.  While we have tried to address most applications, there are always exceptions (e.g., fishing boats with swim ladders, docks with swim ladders).  If you have an application where you are not sure what WAG Boarding Steps model is right for you, call us on our toll-free customer support line.

Second, our website has been structured for search engine optimization.  Even though Katie thinks SEO means “Swim Every Opportunity”, we have learned SEO really refers to what Google, Bing and other popular search engines are looking for.  So while WAG Boarding Steps remains our product name and most accurately describes the dog-friendly design, you will see the new content refers to them as dog ladders, doggie ladders, dog ramps, dog stairs and many other search terms people use.

Finally, we have included social media buttons on the top of each page to make it easier for you to access additional information and share with others.  We appreciate all of the “likes” and referrals we can get.

Several things have not changed.  We still use the same safe, proven PayPal shopping cart that accepts all major credit cards.  We still offer flat-rate shipping in the continental U.S.  We still manufacture all of our products in the U.S.A.  And most importantly, we still strive to offer the highest quality, best performing products on the market.

We expect to enhance the website and our social media content over time with more videos, customer photo galleries, etc.  We welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Please explore our new website and consider getting your WAG on!

Stunt Double

Meet my new friend, Sadie. We were doing a photo shoot for WAG Boarding Steps™ Model DM-12 today and Sadie was there swimming with her human.

The boss gets asked a lot about how quickly dogs learn to use our products. Of course, the standard answer is, “It depends.” Some dogs are timid, some are hyper and some just get it. Well, Sadie is one of those dogs that just got it.

As a matter of fact, Sadie was going up the steps before the boss even had them secured. I didn’t even get a chance to demonstrate. She was a natural. We both swam and retrieved and tried to wear the steps out. It sure is great when you can get out of the water at the point you are jumping in! No more swimming all the way back to shore.

The only bad thing is now that the boss knows that it doesn’t take any super powers or special skills, I will have a tough time negotiating my next raise.

You can see Sadie as the feature dog on the WAG Boarding Steps™ Model DM-12 product page. Thanks, Sadie!!!


The boss said we will be launching a new website over the next few weeks to be better structured for SEO.  When I asked him what that meant, he said Search Engine Optimization.  He said SEO will allow more people to find our website and learn about our great line of products.

He assured me that the new website will still have pictures of me and several of my friends.  He also told me I would still have the opportunity to blog.  When I asked him if this meant I would be getting a raise, he laughed.  I guess that means no.

Well, I am committed to my own SEO program…Swim Every Opportunity.  Trust me, I have been working overtime on that.  When not on a lake, I swim at several of the local parks.  I even found a swamp near a local dog park that I got into (and got into trouble with my humans since a bath for me was not in their plans).  Nothing feels better on a hot summer day than a little SEO activity.

Happy “Surfing”!

Memorial Day

Well, I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  Memorial Day weekend is only a couple days away!  Here in Wisconsin, that means the official start of boating season.  I didn’t think the ice would ever melt this year!

Fortunately, I have been swimming from shore for a few weeks and working on my stroke.  But there is nothing like jumping off the boat and showing off my WAG Boarding Steps™.  Everyone wants to call it a dog boat ladder or dog boat ramp, but there is a reason the boss calls it dog boat steps.  It is easy and natural to climb.  This will be my third year using Serial Number 1.  Some people would call this durability testing; I call it fun.

Memorial Day

Most importantly, this weekend we honor our veterans and those that gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom we have.  We really think about them every day and thank them for their service.

I want to share one of my favorite pictures.  I think it says it all…