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24 August 2012 Open for inspection, please

Product/Service: PetsLoveToys.com monthly subscription service
Quantity: One box of two to four items (combinations of toys, treats, and chews), plus many samples
Price: $14.95 / month for small or medium dogs, $19.95 / month for large or X-large dogs
Ingredients/materials: varies
Company Information: established by Brian and Stephanie Barlow; Fountain Valley, CA; Ph: 1-855-4PETTOY (473-8869)
Web Presence: At PetsLoveToys.com, on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

If you’re looking for another way to mark the passing of time (something I’m all too keenly aware of lately), consider signing up for a pet subscription box. No, not gerbils and kittens delivered via USPS, but rather, a monthly batch of goodies for your pet(s) delivered straight to your doorstep. We’ve only recently heard about this crazy concept to maximize our potential to live amongst the MOST SPOILED PETS in the world. At the very least, this should change the stereotypical relationship between dogs and mailmen for the better, right?

Spreadin’ the love is what PetsLoveToys.com seems to be about. We were very excited that they wanted to send the House of Two Bows a big ol’ box of goodies for review.

Their regular ordering cycle works as follows: On the 25th of every month, a new showroom, or gallery of available choices, is revealed to subscribers. You’re presented with three rows of options for your two main units (seems to be 2 – 4 items total), depending on if your pet enjoys toys, treats and chews, or toys and treats. Members have until the first of the month to make a selection, or skip the month and see what else comes up next time. When choices are made, boxes go out, starting from the first of the month.

Our box of selections for August included the following (featured items in bold):

Petslovetoys.com ToysPetslovetoys.com treats and chews

  • Chewbies dog toy by PetProject – squeaky neon orange squirrel
  • ZOGOflex Jive Ball by West Paw designs – small, aqua
  • Cloud Star Buddy Biscuits, roasted chicken flavor, one 6 oz. pack
  • Smokehouse Piggy Slivers, one 3.2 oz pack (10 pieces)
  • Cloud Star Tricky Trainers treats, two sample pouches
  • Cloudstar Wag More, Bark Less chewy treats, two sample pouches
  • Cloud Star Buddy Wash sample shampoo, two sample vials
  • Pup Chips dog snacks, two sample pouches

Petslovetoys.com sample sizes

Note that this is how much you would get in two boxes for small-medium dogs. Of course, Bowdu thought it was all for him, so I let him take command of the inspections.

Don't look him in the eyes

I don’t blame him for not wanting to look the garish neon orange squirrel in the eyes. That thing looks like it’s just asking for its face to be gnawed off.

As expected, he showed much more interest in the ZOGOflex ball. Whenever he gets a new action toy (like a ball or tug rope/stick), he’s always torn between guarding it or letting the humans in on the game. After spending a few private moments dirtying up HIS toy, he finally decided to share and let me play with it too.

West Paw Jive BallHe feels pretty cool when he does this. Showoff.

It’s a very nice ball. Toys in this line feature unusual shapes and durable material, and they’re manufactured in Montana — a state that is thoroughly familiar with dogs and all kinds of exciting wild critters, as I hear. Good to see they know how to make a sweet dog toy, too!

What really got both dogs’ attentions were the edibles. Bowpi, who had been ignoring the whole unpacking process, scampered right over with round, eager eyes when I busted out the Piggy Slivers…

Petslovetoys.com Piggy eyes!

… and both dogs proceeded to make a glorious, crunchy mess in their respective spots as they chomped up their pig ear parts. No worries — they took care of the crumbs, too.

Petslovetoys.com crunchy mess

Value wise, you will come out a little on top with savings by ordering through PetsLoveToys. Under normal circumstances, we would have paid $28.40, shipping included, for these two portions. A single Shibasenji-sized subscription would be $14.95, and each additional box comes at another 10% discount, up to three pets total (so 10% off for the second pet, 20% off for the third). A quick tabulation of Amazon and/or local retail prices on these items puts me at approximately $36 or $37 dollars for the whole lot, if I were to buy them separately.

However, I probably would not have chosen to purchase a couple of these items. Upon closer inspection, the scary neon orange squirrel toy was made in China. If it goes in my dogs’ mouths or can be ingested, I don’t want it coming from Chinese manufacturing plants (and I say this as someone with relatives that once owned and operated a pet toy manufacturing plant in China).

Brian, the company owner, acknowledged my concern and said that this is something that the company will work to address as they continue to discover more domestic companies that offer good products at fair prices. This shouldn’t be an issue with edible items, but apparently it’s trickier with pet toys. An ultimate goal is for the company to manufacture its own US-made toys. It sounds ambitious, but I hope they can meet their goal!

Whole, Whole, Half Step

We know Cloud Star soft and chewy Buddy Biscuits have quality ingredients, but since we do not usually feed processed beef or chicken flavors, this product was a borderline case for us… though I’ve been letting up on this household rule lately. Anyway, I have purchased this brand in stores when I found them in alternate flavors, and both Bows found this month’s selection quite gobbleable. They especially liked the pumpkin-flavored samples. That’s something we would anticipate in future showrooms. Meanwhile, Brian assured me that the company is looking into novel protein options for dogs who display sensitivities to common meats found in typical pet foods and treats.

Normal subscribers can return unsatisfactory items for exchange or credit (they cover shipping) — otherwise, returns are charged a $5.95 restocking fee.

Really, I can’t complain much, since I chose the items myself. That’s the most important thing about this subscription service — you’re always given a choice in what you get (or you can skip a month and wait until the next showcase), and it shouldn’t be be a box full of unwanted surprises. Of course, the freebies and extras are nice too, but here, your preferences matter.

Overall, PetsLoveToys.com appears to offer the most inexpensive subscription box of several similar services that have popped up in recent months. Others that we have surveyed typically cost over $20 per month, so PetsLoveToys undercuts them all, specifically for smaller dogs. The quantity of items included are fairly conservative, and might be insufficient for more active, destructive, gluttonous, or picky members, but that is counterbalanced by the slight deal you get.

Bottom line: The Bows were happy with what they got! And the company seem quite open to receiving feedback, constructive criticism, and suggestions for improvement, so it’s worth keeping an eye on Pets Love Toys, especially as they roll out more variety, more options, and hopefully other species-specific deals… like something for cats?

Well… they can party with the packaging paper and box. Dogs get dibs on the good stuff.

Petslovetoys.com box