Episode Rewind: The Scoop On Poop

Interview With Dr. Marci Koski, Interview With Tom Arnold, Interview With Julie Holmes, Jesse Newson’s Roomba Disaster Story Shared by Lorien, The Scoop On Poop

Interview With Dr. Marci Koski

Lorien Clemens: Happy Caturday, Pet Lovers! We have quite the show planned for you today, and if you’ll excuse me, we are gonna get pretty dirty around here with potty talk.  Yup, you heard me right! Today is all about new products that can help us manage the pee and the poo that our fur kids produce; and depending on the size and number of fur kids that you might have in your house, that could be a lot of pee and a lot of poo! In fact, in our house, we have four fur kids – two dogs and two cats, and we’re gonna cover products for both species today. First up though, we’re gonna talk about the cats. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s the kitty issues that are the most troublesome. I hate going into our house and smelling a litter box, I really don’t like it in my home. I mean, the cat’s bathroom is in your house and so, controlling that smell, that’s in the litter box, is a big big deal and there’s a lot of things that are “scented litter” and that type of thing. But frankly, until just a few years ago, our cat’s litter box was in the corner of the utility room, as far away from the living space as possible.  But now, we’ve been able to move our box into a warmer, more central place, that’s easier for the cats to access and that’s one of the products we’re gonna be talking about today with Marci Koski. Marci, you might remember from a previous episode about geeky gifts — she’s from Feline Behavior Solutions, she’s a cat expert, we just adore her.  So happy to have you back on the show, Marci!

Marci Koski: Hi Lorien. Thanks for having me.

Lorien Clemens: And I know, you told me that you could talk about litter boxes for days.

Marci Koski: For days!

Lorien Clemens: For days! [both smile]. So, we’re gonna get you talking just about — just for a couple of minutes about them. So, I want you to jump on into this list, and I was excited because the litter box that I just mentioned, that has moved to a central place in our home, is the first one on your list, the Litter Robot. Tell everybody about it.

Marci Koski: Okay, so the Litter Robot is an automated litter box and you’re — I know you’re thinking like, “Whaaat? Automated litter box? That’s amazing!” Well, these — I actually have a couple of automatic litter boxes on my list. Um, the Litter Robot has been out for a few years, like Lorien said, and basically it looks very kind of space-agie, there’s like a large…

Lorien Clemens: It’s one of the reasons we love it. [both smile]

Marci Koski: Yeah, there’s like kind of a large globe on the top of the little box that it sits on and your cat goes into the globe and does her little kitty thing and then comes out. And what happens is, um…alright so you just put clumping cat litter into the globe or the litter tray, but when the cat comes out, what happens is the globe kind of rotates and the clumps get retained in little tray and the rest of the litter sifts out and then the globe rotates back and the solid waste, so all the poops and the clumps of cat pee, get put into a litter, litter, like, receptacle type of thing. And then you just empty that out, you put a cat like, a liner, in it or a little trash bag and all you do is just take out that bag, like, once a week more or less, depending on how many cats you have.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah. We love ours, by the way. It’s made a huge difference in our lives.

Marci Koski: Yeah. So there are several models, there’s the open-air bubble and kind of a classic, which I think is a little bit smaller, what do you have?

Lorien Clemens: We actually started with the classic, we actually did some testing with Litter Robot, with the classic, and then we moved over to the open air one, uh and, uh, so, and it’s been cool because we’ve been able to give feedback from the company, the company’s really responsive about feedback, which is another thing that we really love. And our cats, at least, love it. I could imagine though that this might be a little scary for some cats.

Marci Koski: Yeah.

Lorien Clemens: Ours love it, but some cats I think might be a little spooked by this thing.

Marci Koski: Yeah, and what they did was they put a timer on it, so, um, any cat, I think, over 5 pounds it’s safe for cats to use. So, if your cat weighs 5 pounds or more, the Litter Robot detects when your cat has left the box and it waits for 7 minutes. So, your cat’s not gonna be sitting there, doing her business and then all of a sudden the globe starts spinning [smiles] that would be terrifying…

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, that would be tragic! [both smile]

Marci Koski: Your cat is not going back into that box.

Lorien Clemens: No. So we love it, I would highly recommend it, but it’s pricey, I mean, it’s 300 dollars or more to get it, but I — for us at least it’s worth it. We don’t have a smell issue anymore. Let’s jump, we’ve got a lot to cover here, so let’s jump on to the next one, the new sifting litter box out of the UK that you mentioned here.

Marci Koski: Okay, so there’s something called a Smart Kitty and this is out of the UK, and there’s not a whole lot of information available on it right now, but let me tell you, it looks cute. Um, [smiles], when automatic litter boxes first started coming out, they were these sifting litter boxes, so they would have like kind of a rake that goes over the litter box and I think that this is gonna be very similar. But this one has like a little fabric tent covering it and you can get the tent in all kinds of cute fabrics.

Smarty Kitty Litter Box

Lorien Clemens: So sassy. Some of these designs are adorable!

Marci Koski: I know. So, I don’t know how well it’s gonna work and I don’t know when it is coming out, you can sign up for their newsletter, um, if you go to the Smart Kitty website. Um, so that’s something to keep an eye on. Um so, but, I don’t really know too much about it other than that it’s cute.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, it is really cute. So I — we’ll keep our eye on this and as we learn more about it, maybe at the upcoming tech shows, we’ll be able to talk more about it. Talk to me about the CatGenie, you know, this got great reviews on Amazon and I’ve never heard of it before. Tell me about that.

cat inside cat genie next to toilet

Marci Koski: Okay, now this is something that I have seen in several of my clients’ homes and they love it. So, the CatGenie is actually — it looks like a toilet for your cat, I mean. Okay, so, let me just say right up front, do not train your cat to use the human toilet, that is bad. And that’s an entirely different topic, but…

Lorien Clemens: [smiles]

Marci Koski: the CatGenie — you actually set up right next to the toilet, because you hook the CatGenie up to your plumbing and it’s super easy — the plumbing just comes with like a — it’s like a little T valve and you just hook it up on to your water where the toilet comes out, the toilet water for fresh toilet water.

Lorien Clemens: M-hm.

Marci Koski: And then the effluent from the CatGenie just goes — you take it –there’s a tube that comes out of the CatGenie and you just hook it over your toilet bowl and so it basically hooks up to your toilet. Or you can do it in your laundry room, which I’ve also seen. But what happens is your cat sits in this litter box, it’s got like a round bowl and the bowl has these, um, these — they call them granules, they are washable granules, so they don’t disappear, they’re permanent. And the liquid, the urine, filters through the washable granules and cat poop sits on top and then your cat leaves the box — and it comes with or without a hood, but I recommend no hood. And then after a few minutes, what happens is the — there’s a little scoop, and the scoop, the bowl kind of rotates and the scoop takes out the solids, so the poop, because the urine has filtered down through the washable granules and the poop gets put into [smiles] this tub and it gets liquefied, all the solids get liquefied. Um, and then there’s a SaniSolution cartridge that uses water, remember we hooked it up to the water, um, and it mixes with the SaniSolution and all the granules get washed. And then there’s a blow-dryer and it dries the crystals or the — I’m sorry, the granules and you have, at the very end, a totally clean litter box that has been washed and dried.

Lorien Clemens: Wow! Um, how long does that take, I mean, how long does that cycle take?

Marci Koski: I’m not sure, I know that you can program the box to do, like, automatic cleanings 4 times a day…

Lorien Clemens: M-hm.

Marci Koski: Or you can program it to, um, clean like a few minutes after your cat has left the box, but I’m not sure how long the actual cycle takes. What I would recommend is that, obviously, if you were gonna get one of these, program it to clean after your cat leaves the — the box, because if you’re — if you just have set programmed times throughout the day, if your cat’s on the box and then it starts cleaning, your cat’s gonna freak out.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, that would be bad, that would be bad. Okay, um, so let’s — that’s a really cool — I’m actually gonna check that out a little bit more. It’s also a 300+ product, but it looks really awesome.

Marci Koski: Yeah.

Lorien Clemens: Um, this is actually the one that was on your list that I am most curious about.

Marci Koski: Yeah.

Lorien Clemens: Tell me about Pretty Litter, it’s this color — this litter that changes color, tell me why that’s cool?

Marci Koski: Okay, so, let me just say, the one thing that I really, um, don’t like about automatic litter boxes is that you are missing out on detecting health problems with your cat. So, you don’t see the litter or touch it, you know, so you don’t know if your cat is having diarrhea or, um, maybe they are going to the — they are urinating more or less frequency — with more or less frequency. The Pretty Litter, actually changes color depending on the alkalinity or acidity of your cat’s urine or if there’s blood in it. Um, so it can actually detect potential health problems, way before your cat starts exhibiting symptoms, um, which can be literally a life-saver. So, your cat’s liter changes color, normally it’s yellow, ‘cause the litter itself is white…

Pretty Litter

Lorien Clemens: M-hm.

Marci Koski: …normal urine will be yellow, but it will change either green or blue or orange or red, depending on different issues that are happening with your cat.

Lorien Clemens: Hm, could you use that with it, could you use that with one of the automatic litter boxes? So, you’d still be seeing…

Marci Koski: I was thinking about that, I was thinking that you might be, you might be able to use it with the Litter Robot, it’s very fine grained, so I don’t know if that would maybe be a problem with it. But I was actually thinking about that, you could not use it with the CatGenie, because the CatGenie uses this, you know, the distinct granules, the washable granules…

Lorien Clemens: Right, they get washed, yeah.

Marci Koski: Right.

Lorien Clemens: that’s a — I — that fascinates me. I saw it at a couple I like, this last year, I guess, at Global Pet Expo and I was like, “What is that?!” But that’s really, that’s really cool. I actually, I wonder if like something along in the lines is also coming down the pike about the poo, you know, that can maybe detect issues there too, that would be really interesting too.

Marci Koski: Yeah.

Lorien Clemens: ‘Cause sometimes when you get back to the poo, it’s already been dried or whatever and you’re not really seeing the core issue. We have time for one quick — one more. Tell me about — is it Loo-Op, is that what it’s called?

Luup Litter Box

Marci Koski: I think, I’ve always pronounced it the Luup litter box.

Lorien Clemens: Luup, okay, okay. Tell me about it, it’s pretty low tech, but it’s really clever.

Marci Koski: [smiles] I’m actually more of a traditionalist when it comes to litter boxes, so this works for me, because it seems like it’s really easy. So what it is, is a strain — it’s a litter box strainer essentially. Um, so, it’s a system of 3 liter box trays and each one has, um, like, they’re like a grill on the bottom. So what you do is, the litter boxes are stacked, there’s 3, and when you want to clean out the litter tray, you just pick up the top tray and sift, sift, sift, sift, sift. Your clumps stay in the tray, all of the clean litter has fallen through to the next 2 trays, right, um, and then you turn the –well you throw out the waste first, but then you take that top tray that you just emptied out, turn it 180o, so the grids no longer match up and then you put it on the bottom of the stack and you’re done.

Lorien Clemens: Mm?

Marci Koski: That’s it.

Lorien Clemens: So you’re not having to like re-pour and everything like that, it’s just a continual process of scoop…

Marci Koski: Exactly, you don’t need a litter box scooper, you don’t need, yeah, it just…

Lorien Clemens: That is pretty clever and it’s pretty affordable too. So that’s all we have time for today. Thank you so much, Marci.

Marci Koski: You are welcome.

Lorien Clemens: Great, great stuff. I’m gonna have you back to talk about more stuff later. Hopefully not as potty talk, but you know, it’s still fun, nonetheless. Next up folks, we are going to dig into doggie doo-doo and we are gonna chat with Tom Arnold, one of our favorite geeks about some really geeky products that are out there for scooping poop. Hang tight and we’ll be right back.

Interview With Dr. Marci Koski, Interview With Julie Holmes, Jesse Newson’s Roomba Disaster Story Shared by Lorien, The Scoop On Poop

Interview With Tom Arnold

Lorien Clemens: Hi, we are back and we are deep in the doo-doo here at Pet Lover Geek.  For those of us that have a dog, or more than one dog, a great deal of our time is spent bending over and scooping poop. Now, supposedly, according to some stuff I found on the internet, an average dog produces about ¾ of a pound a day of fecal matter, depending on size and that’s more than 250 pounds of poo every year. Oh my goodness! So, not only is that really unpleasant to pick up, if you’ve ever had to do that, you understand what I’m talking about, but the other thing is that it’s full of pathogens – things like giardia, salmonella, e-coli, even gross things like roundworms. And clearly, picking it up can be a delicate situation, there’s a lot of tools out there for helping us pick it up, you know, baggies and things like that. And we’re always looking for new technology that helps us have less direct contact, keeps us as far away from that yuckiness as possible! So, I’ve asked Tom Arnold, the Chief Technology Officer from PetHub.com and our show’s sponsor, to help me with this segment and I sent him a list of some of the hottest new products that are out there for managing dog poop and I’ve asked him to discuss them with us. Tom, welcome back to the show!

Tom Arnold: [smilingly] Hey, Lorien, thank you and thanks for allowing me to be a participant in this topic.

Lorien Clemens: [smiles] You’re welcome! I know that when I sent you the email and said, “Hey, you wanna talk about poop?” you were like, “Yeeeah, please”. Okay, so I sent you a list of a half-dozen or so dog bathroom products to check out and I wanna ask you which one’s your favorite?

Tom Arnold: Well, the Pooch Shovel actually was at the top of my list, it’s the one where — it actually has a plastic bag around everything, including the opening and then it’s got this vacuum thing that’s going on, that’s pulling everything in. But I specifically appreciated that they pointed out that the plastic bag is covering the opening and everything, so that it never gets on the device at all. So, I found that — I found that very helpful, because every time I’ve seen those, kind of, pick-up things like the little, like, reachy ones that — like a shovel that picks it up and you know, clamps it in. I always think about having to clean that thing later and so that’s one thing that caught my attention about that one.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, I thought that one was interesting too. As I’m — I’m you know, I obviously haven’t had the chance to test it yet, although it’s on my list of things to get in here to test. Um, it’s got a pretty decent motor on it and it says that it can quickly suction dog waste from grass, concrete, and even snow-covered ground, which, I know where you live, up in the mountains, would be really important. My concern is that there are some pretty harsh reviews on it. It seems like if you don’t load the baggie in exactly, it’s gonna give you trouble, which I could see how that could be an issue. It’s kind of like a ‘hit or miss’ type of thing, it’s a power issue for some people and a bag fitting issue for other people. But, it does look really, um, of all the scoopers that are out there that are power scoopers, it does look like the most promising, doesn’t it?

Tom Arnold: Yeah, and it’s not, it’s — I was thinking about it and I was like okay, it always comes down for me, “Is this something that I would use?”, and I heard in your intro that you were saying that dogs produce around ¾ of a pound per day and I was thinking, “Ullr can do that in one sitting” [smiles] and so…

Lorien Clemens: At least… [smiles]

Tom Arnold: And I was thinking to myself, “Okay”, but the other problem with these, or my concern about things like this, not just Pooch Shovel, but anyone in this area, is that I’m assuming that they’re thinking that you have a really nice kickable stool and all that and — as they put it, quote-unquote kickable, and this is certainly not kickable, not all the time. And so — but where I see that there’s huge value for this kind of thing is for people who can’t easily bend over to pick stuff like that up, or if you don’t want to deal with the ickiness of you know, feeling warm poop in your hand or even worse, cold poop in your hand… [smiles]

Lorien Clemens: Yeah.

Tom Arnold: I can see how they’d love something like this.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, and there’s a couple of others that were on the list. What did you think about some of the other, uh, like the do — Doody Digger Pooper Scooper. It doesn’t look very tack, but it’s more about design.

Doody Digger Pooper Scooper

Tom Arnold: Well I appreciate the techy of the design, but, um, my reaction to it was — so this is one where it has no moving parts, this one actually has, on the upper part of it, near the handle where you’re holding it, it actually has the bag that attaches to the end of the tube and then down at the bottom of the tube, the working end that you’re using to dig around and, you know, kinda get the droppings into the end of the nozzle or the opening. Then you have to basically tilt it up, raising that end up, so that the poop slides down the shaft until it gets to the other end where the bag is. And of course, you know, I’m thinking about that, again, good for somebody who can’t bend over and things like that but it seems like it can get really gross really fast and I’d rather just use a shovel and a bucket in that case, um, otherwise — ‘cause like, with the shovel I could wipe that on the grass or something and this one, I kept thinking [smiles] it’s gonna leave little poopie skid marks going down the inside.

Lorien Clemens: [smiles] Yeah.

Tom Arnold: …and it’s just like, “Nasty, I have to deal with the cleaning of that thing later”, and for me, it’s all about having to deal with cleaning messes later, I’d rather deal with something right up front than to have to dread thinking about dealing with something later.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, well let’s talk about the dealing with it later, ‘cause no matter where you — what you use to pick up for the poop, there’s the getting rid of it and, you know, I’ve — we’ve — I don’t know if you’ve read some things in your local paper, but we’ve certainly seen some things about, you know, how not good it is to put it in the yard waste system or in the compost bins or anything like that that they pick up around Seattle. And so, you end up with a lot of poop in your garbage and so there were a couple of things here that I thought were really interesting – that the pet waste disposal systems we looked at, there’s the PetGenie and then there was also the Doggie Dooley, what did you think of those two?


Tom Arnold: Well I assumed that the PetGenie was similar to like a Diaper Genie, they’re kinda making a play off of that and the way I read it as I was understooding it — understanding it was that, um, it — one of the problems I always hate is that when I’m throwing a bag of dog poop into my trash can is that, as the week goes on, as I get closer to collection day, it gets progressively disgusting, [smiles] more and more disgusting, that smell coming out of the trash can outside, especially if it’s, you know, during warm weather. And so the PetGenie seemed like something where you can actually maybe have it — if you’re in a situation where you have closer quarters and you’re not able to keep your trash outside as much, it seemed like that was the, the perfect place to be able to have a contained, um, contain that smell. And so that was my take on — it — did I understand that correctly?

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, I think so and I actually — this one — I actually kinda think it’s cool.

Tom Arnold: Then I’d have to have one of those, I would have to have one, if I was in a closed space.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, I think so. I think this is perfect for, like, apartment dwellers, like you mentioned and if you don’t have a way to get rid of the waste anything other than putting it into the garbage, actually this is, I think, a really good one for it. I’m really impressed by it and it seems like it’s a fairly new product though, I don’t see many reviews out there for it, there’s something called the CatGenie that Marci just talked about and it’s the same company and that gets terrific reviews, so I would imagine that the tech is pretty solid, since it’s the same company as the cat toilet product that they mentioned, it’s really cool. I am particularly interested though, since, uh, I live a little bit more out of the city and I have a little bit of land, I‘m really interested in this Doggy Dooley Septic Tank System, because then I’m not having to put it in the garbage. What you’d think of that?

Doggie Dooley

Tom Arnold: Well, I definitely love that, I love how it keeps the plastic bags from going into the trash can and I like how my garbage won’t stink to high heaven later in the week, ‘cause I mentioned, and how you just add water and this digester — digester mix, that kind of thing. So I thought that was pretty cool, better for the environment and all that and I thought it would be especially useful where you have a business or a family with a lot of dogs, but a doggy daycare things like that, that seems like that would make a lot of sense. For me personally, I’m in the same situation, I have a wooded area of 1 acres, so my dogs are, you know, going into the woods where the humans don’t tread, so I don’t have to worry about it, but — and when I’m out and about I’m using plastic bags. So, I’m not the audience for that one, but I could see, especially for businesses or large dog families and you have a yard to bury it in, then I’d love the concept of a septic tank for dogs, I thought that was pretty, pretty creative.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, and I too, most of the time I’m just putting it in a poo bag and I usually, because of where I live, I don’t have to go out, as you say, into the woods and look for those, just trying to take it off and stuff, well humans are, however, when I take the dog — when I take Penny on a walk or anything downtown and I always have the poo bags with me and what I was most interested in was, and frankly it’s the easiest of all the tech or the simplest of all the tech, it was this waste light bag holder. Did you see that I sent over to you?

Tom Arnold: I did. I like it because I’m always taking Ullr out at night with a flashlight and I even put an LED collar on him, so the way I look at it is usually I’m sitting there, I’m a late night guy, so it’s like midnight, 1 a.m. and I’m finally exhausted, ready to fall asleep and just about then is when I’m realizing, “Uhh, I have to take Ullr out for one last time, so he’s comfortable through the night or don’t wake me up at 3 o’clock in the morning”. And so it’s one less thing to worry about, I grab the flashlight and it’s already part of the flashlight and it’s one less thing to look for. Now, especially in an apartment setting and things like that and I don’t know if we’re gonna get time, I don’t mean to throw you off a little bit, but I wanna make sure you talk about the dog rocks, ‘cause I had a thought about those too, but I like the flashlight.

Lorien Clemens: Oh yeah, definitely, yeah I think that this flashlight — I like it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it’s super-duper small, it’s inexpensive, it fits onto your keychain or onto your pet’s leash, so I love it. But you mentioned the Dog Rocks. Now, this is switching gears a little bit, because it’s about pee issues, not poo issues. Tell me about these dog rocks.

Tom Arnold: Well I’ve seen these guys around SuperZoo, I’ve seen them in a lot of shows and the whole idea is that these rocks are to help the dog urine from killing the grass and, I mean, I hate how in the past, past yards that I’ve had, again, right now I’ve got a wooded area, but when I’ve been in a condo setting or a nice yard, I hate how it looks like a patchwork quilt of grassy death and so, you know, it’s really sad to see all these pee spots all over the place, so, I think that this would especially be helpful in apartments and condos and the like, because people are always trying to look one for the right place to pee in, and some people ignore those, those signs of where to pee. So, I’m not really sure how it works, I don’t know if it neutralizes the acidity or whatever it is that is killing the grass, or is it just giving them a target that they’re shooting at.

Lorien Clemens: No, I think it’s actually…

Tom Arnold: you know and if it is a target thing, I’ve got a garden gnome that I’d like to donate to the guys. [both laugh]

Lorien Clemens: No, it’s not a target thing. When I was reading into it and I know I just kinda threw this on you at the last minute to look at these things, but they’re actually, the rocks are something you put in your dog’s bowl and it — the ingredients that are in these rocks help, like you said, neutralize that acid that’s there. So, when they’re actually peeing out, they’re actually helping to fertilize the grass rather than kill it.

Tom Arnold: Oh my God. I was so way off on that, I thought it was something that they had to aim for and I thought I read it completely, so [both laugh] sorry about that.

Lorien Clemens: That’s hilarious.

Tom Arnold: Well that’s interesting.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, I actually have a couple of garden gnomes that could go there too. Awesome! Well thank you so much Tom for coming in and pinch-hitting for us with the doggy doo-doo stuff, I really appreciate it. Hang tight…

Tom Arnold: It was a pleasure, always happy to talk about poop. [both laugh] I love the Litter Robot, by the way. Anyway, sorry to interrupt.

Lorien Clemens: Yeah, you were the one that introduced us to the Litter Robot in the first place, so awesome. Hang tight everybody, next up, we’ve got a unique product that helps you tackle the tinkle to get urine and other things out of your carpet and I promise you, it really, really works, I’ve used it myself.  Hang tight, we’re gonna tell you all about it.

Interview With Dr. Marci Koski, Interview With Tom Arnold, Jesse Newson’s Roomba Disaster Story Shared by Lorien, The Scoop On Poop

Interview With Julie Holmes

Lorien Clemens: Welcome back, pet lovers! I hope you are having as much “fun” as I am today with all the “potty” talk.  We spent the first half of the show focusing on products that are gonna help us manage our cat’s bathroom issues, because, well, frankly, they do all of their business IN OUR HOME and it’s really important that we’ve spent adequate time talking about those tools that will help them keep that business IN the litter box and off of our floors. However, as every pet parent unfortunately knows, even though our do — we know that our dogs are supposed to be doing all of their doo deeds outside and cats generally do use the litter box as we hope they do, accidents happen (or in the case of a really snarky cat I know, sometimes it’s on purpose). And that is when it’s really important to have a product that gets the stain and odor out. And I mean really gets it out, because, you know, I’ve had fur kids for decades, and I’ve tried tons of products, and everybody even has like things that they’ve made up at home that they think work perfectly, but frankly, I’ve never really found anything that works really well on everything. That is until I met our next guest and I tried the product that she has from Unique Natural Pet Products. So, I’ve asked Julie Holmes from Unique Naturals to come in today. I’m really excited for her to tell everybody about the science behind why her products work. Julie, good morning and welcome to the show!

Julie Holmes: Good morning! Thank you for having me.

Lorien Clemens: I’m really excited, because, I’m serious, we have had some cat issues that I’ve never been able to get out of the carpets until now and I want you to tell us about how Unique Natural Pet Products actually came into being, ‘cause it’s kind of a funny story about a road trip in an RV?

Unique Natural’s cat stain and odor remover

Julie Holmes: Actually, no, it’s more of the apartment sit — the apartments, because years ago, when people were — you’d move out of your apartment, you had pets, they would — say you only lived there 6 months, they would come in and roll up every bit of carpet and throw it in the trash.

Lorien Clemens: Oh, yeah…

Julie Holmes: …and ours is a family-owned business and so it — my father at the time owned a janitorial supply business and he said, “This is absolutely ridiculous. You cannot be throwing away carpet that is practically new, so let’s come up with something.” And at that time they were working on using bacteria for oil spills, that was around the Valdez oil spill. Actually no, I’m sorry, it was the one that was on the, um, the west coast and so they were seeing just how good these bacterias could do in breaking down organic waste. So, we started working with Kimes and came up with our formula and the rest is history. It’s just, you know, gone from there.

Lorien Clemens: Got it. And on the show, you know, we’re all about science, so I wanna hear more about this bacteria, what — tell me the science about why they work, why does this bacteria work? What is it doing?

Julie Holmes: Okay, well, it is literally biodegrading that stain and odor. Say you take a hike out in the woods, you don’t smell a lot of urine. So what happens is this, our bacteria literally comes from the soil; so it is taken from the soil and put in some processes that make it — grow faster — but it literally comes from the dirt. There’s many other things they can do with bacterias now, they’re, you know, you can grow ‘em from shrimp, it’s — bacteria is in our world and it’s a good thing. So, all of our bacteria is non-pathogenic. And what that means isnon-pathogenicc organisms are harmless to their host and may actually be beneficial. And so, one thing that happens with bacteria, it — there aren’t science — there’s not the science yet to prove it, but the good bacteria out eats bad bacteria. So in many situations where you might even have some pretty toxic organic waste, the good bacteria gets in there and they eat it so fast, that they out eat the bad guys, so then they run out of food and they die off. So, there are so many benefits to bacteria and what it’s doing.

Lorien Clemens: Right.

Julie Holmes: Um………so, one thing, in the past, people always say, “Bacteria. Bad. Scary”, you know, we think of disease.

Lorien Clemens: M-hm.

Julie Holmes: Well, our bacteria is more like the bacteria that’s in your yogurt, or even your kombucha. And I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at a bottle of kombucha, but for years we actually put our product in a clear bottle and people would call and they said, “Oh, there’s this gross looking thing in here. What is this? Dough?”

Lorien Clemens: [laughs]

Julie Holmes:  Okay, now we’ll go to an opaque bottle because obviously, this is grossing people out.

Lorien Clemens: Right.

Julie Holmes: Now that there’s kombucha, everybody gets it. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, that’s just like what’s — that’s like the strains of things that are in my beverage that I’m drinking in my body.”

Lorien Clemens: So these are good germs, these aren’t the kind of germs that people are gonna be like, “Oh, I don’t want that around my house or my pets, or my family.” This is good germs stuff.

Julie Holmes: Good stuff. And it, it’s benefiting all of us. And, so how it’s working is – bacteria, they’re a living organism, so they’re hungry. So what they do is they start out by, they shed enzymes, and we hear the term enzymes, but we think, “What does that mean?” Enzymes break down organic waste. What bacteria does is it goes to the next step. The enzymes break it down to make it it’s food and it literally eats that — I always picture Pacman, that’s right where my mind goes, ‘cause it’s something we can picture. So, picture that little Pacman going waka-waka-waka and he’s eating that stain and odor that is on — in your carpet or on a piece of furniture or anything like that that your pet has done. On cats it might even be they might have got mad at you and sprayed on the wall.

Lorien Clemens: Yes. [laughs]

Julie Holmes: …and those Pacman go in there and start eating. Now, another thing that’s great about bacteria is – it grows, because it’s a living organism. That organic waste, which is potty, poop, somebody throws up, say you — somebody you know cuts a paw or something and there’s a little bit of blood, that’s the food source for our bacteria. So it goes into that spot, you pour that on there and it starts reproducing itself, makes those enzymes. Enzymes start breaking it down and then those little bacteria just go in and start eating and eating and eating until there’s nothing left. They turn into water and carbon dioxide and go away.

Lorien Clemens: And so it basically, depending on how big the stain is, it might take them more or less time to get it removed.

Julie Holmes: Exactly. It’s not, it’s not like a chemical where you put it down and wipe it off, you put it down and you let it do its thing, you let it go to work and eat all that…

Lorien Clemens: Stuff

Julie Holmes: …you know, stain and odor of your…so, it’s, it’s not an instantaneous process, it may take a day or two and if you’ve got a really bad situation which — we have heard of many, um, it could take a few days, or you may have to use it a couple of different times.

Lorien Clemens: And it’s important to keep it moist, that was something that for me, when I was reading the directions, I was like, “Oh, of course, it’s bacteria, it has to stay moist”, right?

Julie Holmes: Right, it needs — what it needs to survive is a food source and moisture and then they just go and they will continue — bacteria can move. Now, they can’t move — they’re not like Olympic swimmers, but they can move. So, where there’s moisture, they will move out into that area. So that’s why, when you put it down, you want to totally wet the whole area where that stain is, because then it will get out into all of that and it will also go down, it will go down into your pad and from the pad down to the subfloor.

Lorien Clemens: And, and, and, I wanna make sure that people understand that this product is safe. You know, a lot of companies claim to be safe, but sometimes it’s just a marketing claim, but tell me about what safe means to Unique Natural?

Julie Holmes: Okay, and it is very important to us. So, when we make our products, we really vet where they come from, how they work and one thing we’ve been using is the European Union, because they seem to be a little more on the forefront of what is safe and what is natural. So, we use their standards, rather than standards we have here in the United States. We always, you know, on our MSDS sheets, which are the sheets that tell exactly how safe a product is and I had a situation where somebody’s dog actually licked this and they were panicked and they called the vet and the vet called me and he said, “Can you send me a MSDS?” and I said, “Oh, absolutely’” and I sent it over and he was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so” — he said, “I will assure my customer that there’s no problem with this. This is a great safe product.”

Lorien Clemens: Awesome. That’s a …

Julie Holmes: But it is a problem, because what you think is safe may be different from what I think is safe and what a particular mom blog thinks is safe. [both laugh] We do have surfactants in our products and they — we gravitate towards the ones that are a proof of the cosmetic world, so if you can put it on your skin,

Lorien Clemens: then you can…you can put it on your carpet.

Julie Holmes: it’s gonna be fine for you to put it on your carpet.

Lorien Clemens: Now I want you to tell me real quick, ‘cause I know you had some really funny stories, but tell me what is he funniest thing that you’ve ever heard about used with your product to get out of the carpets?

Julie Holmes: Well, luggage is a popular one.

Lorien Clemens: Oh!

Julie Holmes: And animals get so mad when their pet parents are going away, that they will urinate on their luggage. And then, all of a sudden, you’re gonna go somewhere and your piece of luggage smells horrible. So that’s one of the most popular places. [both laugh]

Lorien Clemens: I never even thought about that, that is so true though. I’ve actually had that happen and I’ve actually like thrown bags away…

Julie Holmes: Exactly. So you don’t have to now, but yeah, that’s and angry, that’s an angry pet. They do not like you to travel.

Lorien Clemens: I think we’ve all had that. Well Julie, thank you so much for coming in today. Tell us where we can get the product, real quick.

Julie Holmes: We are on, um, — you can find us online at uniquemm.com, that’s our website. It will also show stores in your area. We love our independent pet stores, also Ace Hardware, Fred Myers and mini independent hardware and pet stores around the US.

Lorien Clemens: Great, and we’ll make sure that we put the link to your stuff online as well on our website. And hang tight everyone for our last segment. We’re gonna share some news about a new gadget that brings a dog bathroom indoors! Hand tight pet lovers, we will be right back!

Interview With Dr. Marci Koski, Interview With Tom Arnold, Interview With Julie Holmes, The Scoop On Poop

Jesse Newton’s Roomba Disaster Story Shared by Lorien

Thanks for joining us today, pet lovers. It’s been a lot of fun talking about all these doo-doo things and I wanna share a couple of more things with you. Before I talk about doggie toilets, I want to share a story and this story was actually the topic — the story that inspired today’s topic and it’s cautionary tale. [smiles] It’s a cautionary tale of how tech can go horribly, horribly wrong. I saw this on Facebook a few months ago and I’ve been thinking about doing a show on this ever since. So, I wanna share this story. It’s a post that was shared over 180,000 times and it’s a tale of poo woe. A man from Arkansas, his name is Jesse Newson — Newton shared this on his Facebook page. Here’s his post:

Jesse’s illustration of the mess.

“So, last week, something pretty tragic happened in our household. It’s taken me until now to wrap my head around it and find the words to describe the horror. It started off simple enough – something that’s probably happened to most of you. Sometime between midnight and 1:30am, our puppy Evie pooped on our rug in the living room. This is the only time she’s ever done this, so it’s probably because we forgot to let her out before we went to bed that night. Now, if you have a detective’s mind, you may be wondering how do we know if the poop occurred between midnight and 1am? We were asleep, how could I possibly know the time frame? Why, friends, that’s because our Roomba starts at 1:30am every night, while we sleep. And it found the poop. And so begins Pooptastrophe. The poopocalypse. The pooppening. If you have a Roomba, please rid yourself of all distractions and absorb everything I’m about to tell you. Do not, under any circumstance, let your Roomba run over dog poop. If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately.  Do not let it continue the cleaning cycle, because if that happens, it will spread dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.”

By the way, Pet Lover Geek listeners, there a paint — there’s a drawing that Jessie did, that goes along with this, that I’ll share on my Facebook page. Back to the story.

“It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, the ones that have checkered surface for better traction, left a 25-foot poop trail all over our house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning for us every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding – like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road, only this time in poop. Then, when your four-year-old gets up at 3am to crawl into your bed, you’ll wonder why he smells like dog poop. And you’ll walk into the living room. And you’ll wonder why the floor feels slightly gritty. And you’ll see a brown-encrusted, vaguely Roomba-looking shaped thing sitting in the middle of the floor with a glowing green light, like everything’s okay. It’s proud of itself. It cleaned while you were asleep. Now, you were still half-asleep at this point, but now you wake up pretty darn quickly. And then the horror. Oh the horror. So, first you clean the child. You scrub the poop off his feet and put him back into bed. But you don’t bother cleaning your own feet, because you know what’s coming. It’s inevitable, it’s coming at you like a freight train. Some folks would shrug their shoulders and get back into bed and deal with it in the morning. But you, you are not one of those people – you cannot go to sleep with a war zone of poop in the living room. So you clean the Roomba. You toss it in the bathtub to let it soak. You pull it apart, piece-by-piece, wondering at what point you became an adult and assumed responsibility for 3:30am-Roomba-disassembly-poop-cleanups. But at this point, it isn’t just poop that’s on your hands – it’s smeared up to your elbows. You had already heard that the Roomba could make a “whirlllllllllllllllll-hisssssssss-pop” sound and it sounded like electronics dying, and then you realize something. You forgot to pull out the battery before throwing it in the tub. But more on that later. Oh, and you’re probably using profanity – you’re inventing new types of profanity. You’re saying things that would make Satan shudder in revulsion. You hope your kid has stayed in bed, because if he hears you talking like this, there’s no way he’s not ending up in prison. But then you get out the carpet shampooer and you push it up to the rug – the rug that started it all, and that shampooer – it just laughs at you. Because that rug, oh that rug is going in the trash, folks. But you shampoo it anyway, because your wife loves that darn rug, and you know that she will ask if you at least tried to clean it first. Then you get out the paper towel rolls, idly wondering if you should invest in paper towel stock now, and then you blow through three, four rolls wiping up poop. You get out spray bottles with bleach water and hose down the floor boards to let them soak, because the poop has already dried and sunk in. Then out comes the steam mop, and you take care of those 25-ft poop trails. And then, because hey, it’s already 6am, you decide to go to bed. Let’s finish this tomorrow, right?

The next day, you finish taking that Roomba apart, scraping out all the tiny flecks of poop, and after watching a few Youtube instructional videos, you remove the motherboard to wash it with a toothbrush. Then you bake it in the oven to dry and you put it all back together, and of course it doesn’t work. Because remember at 3-something am you heard that “whirlllllllllllllll-boop-hissssssss” noise when it died its poopy death in the bathtub. But you really hoped that maybe the Roomba gods would have mercy on you. But no. WELL there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, because after spending a week researching how to fix this darn $400 Roomba without having to spend $400 again – including refurb units and new motherboards and new batteries – you finally decide to call the place where you bought it. That place called Hammacher and Schlemmer. Yeah, they have a funny name, but guess what? They have an awesome warranty. They claim that it’s for life, and well, here’s a reason. So I called them and I told them the truth. My Roomba found dog poop and it precipitated World War III. And you know what they did? They replaced it. Yes, folks. They replaced the Roomba that ran over dog poop and then died a poopy, watery death in the bathtub – by no fault of their own, of course. So, mad props to them. If you’re buying something expensive and they sell it, I recommend buying it from them. And remember – don’t ever let your Roomba run over dog poop.”

Well, when I first read that story and I saw the picture that accompanies it, which really — you have to see the picture because it’s just hilarious. It does look like a Jackson Pollock picture of poop. It reminds me that we do things all the time to bring technology into our lives and the best-laid plans don’t always go right. So whenever you are bringing any one of these pieces of tech into your home that we’ve talked about, know that nothing’s gonna be perfect and things like a Roomba running over a poop at 1:30 in the morning can certainly make your life not easy like you were hoping it would be with the technology. And of course, this actually — this particular story could have been avoided if we just had indoor dog toilets, you know what I mean? So, I was looking at some indoor dog toilet products, because a friend of mine actually has been developing one and imma talk to you about that in a minute, but I thought well are there are other things that are already out there that are ready to be purchased. A flushable dog purchase type of thing. So, what I found is that there is a product out there called the Powerloo and it’s a flushable toilet for pet waste, but you know what? It’s outdoor only. So back what Tom and I were talking about getting rid of all the poo bags and stuff like that, it’ something that will definitely help you keep the poo out of the garbage, because, like I mentioned, it should never go into yard waste or compost bin, because it’s full of a lot of nasty pathogens. But this product, the Powerloo, is something that can hook up to your septic system and it can send poo right out through the septic system. But it is an outdoor thing. It’s basically a flushable garbage can for the outdoors. But, the product that I’m most excited about, and it’s a friend of mine named Jeni Halliday who has invented it and she’s been working on it for years now and finally has it patented, it’s in the testing mode. It is a toilet that goes indoors, my friends, it is flushable, it connects to your sewer system and imagine, it could be a lifesaver for so many people.  If you live in a high-rise apartment, if you have a disability that makes it difficult to go outdoors, all the time to let your dog do his business, or maybe there’s a weather issue — not to mention just incredible applications at airports and hotels. It’s a really exciting product. You should go on to their website and look at it. It is super duper cool, it’s halli-loo.com and look at the product, the pictures that they’ve got there are really awesome. Now, like I mentioned, it’s still in the beta testing phase, so it is not available yet for sale, but as soon as it is out on the market and available for sale, I’m gonna have Jeni Halliday come on the show and chat about her process to get this thing invented. As far as I’m concerned, if the dog toilet was able to come inside, that would make my – everything! I would love that.

So, um, we’re running out of time for today, pet lovers! I hope that you have enjoyed us talking about dog poo and pee and cats and all these things today. I know that it was a funny topic. Thanks so much to Marci Koski, again, she’s from felinebehaviorsolutions.com, Tom Arnold – the CTO of PetHub, our sponsor at pethub.com and Julie Holmes from Unique Natural Pet Products at uniqueproductsmm.com. All those will be up on our website later today. Thanks for — so much to them for helping me with all this great potty talk.  Please tune in next week because we are gonna talk about some really great tech products for traveling pet parents. Things that will help you see them and talk to them while you’re gone, things that will help you keep track of them should they get lost, all sorts of things that are important to have when you are on your road, either with or without your pets. But until then pet lovers, snuggle with those fur kids, have a pawsome weekend and we’ll see you back next week!

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Tune into the episode The Scoop on Poop: Helping Your Manage Your Fur Kids’ Bathroom Dooty