Top quality. German engineered. Extensively crash tested. There are many dog travel cages on the market, but there is only one that meets the highest safety standards—
The Variocage dog travel cage has had a perfect safety in Europe for over ten years. It is now available here in the US. It is a very high quality cage designed for use in the cargo area of SUVs and some hatchback cars. Because it comes in 4 styles with 14 different sizes, you can find the perfect size. And best of all, no vehicle modification is required.
The safety features of the Variocage include a built-in crumple zone. This will absorb an impact and prevent the cage from being pushed forward into front passengers. This pet safety product also has an “escape” hatch in the back so that if the front door is damaged in a crash, there is another way for your pal to get out. It is made of durable powder coated steel that will hold up in a variety of crash scenarios.
More information on the crash testing can be found on this video:
Wow! It’s no wonder the manufacturer claims the Variocage to be the best crash tested pet safety product in the world. I think my dogs will be safer than me!
Before buying the Variocage, be sure to read all the information regarding how to get the right style and size. You will want to measure your vehicle. And you will want to consider the angle of the closed hatch into account, along with wheel wells that might interfere with how the cage fits, and if the back hatch as a raised sill. You can read all the information about the Variocage dog travel cage at Pet Auto Safety.com.
Welcome to Barks & Bytes where we share recent activities at Pet Auto Safety.com. Barks & Bytes is hosted by our favorite dog bloggers, Jodi with Heart Like a Dog and Linda with 2 Brown Dawgs. Be sure to check them out, but not before you see what’s been going on with us!
NEW PET TRAVEL VIDEO
I’ve finally finished the dog video I started several months ago of Maya and Pierson in the car. This is the 3rd video (episode 2) of a series of videos. I’ve only had a little practice editing videos so I’m not sure this one is very good, but we are our own worst critics. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll really like it. And if you do, please hit the like button on YouTube and leave a comment.
NEW PET TRAVEL PRODUCTS
As you saw from our June Barks & Bytes, we’ve been in the process of adding several new products to our Pet Auto Safety site. One that we mentioned but didn’t have available yet is our dog backpacks. Check out our Outdoor Dog Gear page and see what we have.
The Rein Coat
I also mentioned the Rein Coat. I’m sorry to say that we don’t have it available on our site yet. I’ve asked if I could sell them and the company said yes, but they haven’t gotten back with me with more information yet. I think they forgot about me.
One of my greatest fans for PetAutoSafety saw our FaceBook post about the Rein Coat and asked if her dog Lily could wear it along with her dog car harness. Lily has terrible anxiety in the car and her mom, whose name is Lee, was hoping the Rein Coat could help. Unfortunately, the folks at Rein Coat said that although their product has been known to help dogs with anxiety in the car, it was not designed to be used with a dog seat belt.
The Pet Dek
We wrote a more detailed post about Maya and Pierson’s experience with the Pet Dek, so be sure to check out the July 10th post. As always, we share both the pros and cons of the products we sell so that you have as much information as possible, should you decide to purchase.
We did not talk about the Car-Go in our previous Barks & Bytes post because we didn’t know about it then. But I saw a great review from Oz the Terrier and so called the company that makes the Car-Go to see if they would let me sell it on Pet Auto Safety. I’m happy to say that they said yes! And so the Car-Go Single and the Car-Go Double is now available.
Pet First Aid Kits
This is another new product we didn’t mention on our last post but have added. This pet first aid kit is the most comprehensive first aid kit for dogs that I’ve ever seen. It has been put together by an entrepreneur named Denise. Denise is an amazing woman who teaches pet first aid and CPR and is also an author of a number of books, including Pet First Aid for Kids!
Dog Travel Bowls & Bottles
Yesterday we added two new travel products related to water. The cuee blue paw print water bottle with rollerball tip and the Bottle ‘n Bowl bag with collapsible dog bowl. These two items can be found on our pet travel bowls page.
BELLA & THE KURGO GO-TECH DOG CAR HARNESS
Bella’s mom purchased the Kurgo Go-Tech dog seat belt last year and had some concerns about the looped tether. She said Bella was awfully uncomfortable with the way the looped tether worked so I sent her a Bergan tether. To be honest, I am not a fan of Kurgo’s looped tethers either. In fact, when Maya wore her Kurgo Go-Tech harness, I immediately replaced the looped tether with the Bergan one. It is believed that the more restrictive a dog car harness is, the safer it is for the dog. This may be so, because if you stop suddenly or swerve, you don’t want your dog to get tossed around. But this sort of restriction can be very uncomfortable for dogs. Safety is important, but we need to consider the comfort of our best friend as well.
NEW PET TRAVEL ARTICLES
Last month I mentioned Patrice, our new writer for Pet Auto Safety. She has created another new great article for us that we posted on July 8th. I also have another great article written by Lindsay with That Mutt, which posted on July 15th. Be sure to check out these great pet safety articles and leave us a comment.
That’s all the Barks & Bytes I have for you this week. Thank you so much for stopping by!
From a business perspective, 2013 has been a pretty good year for us. There have been some ups and downs, but overall it has been great.
* 2013 started off with the Subaru campaign. It was great fun seeing those cute Subaru dog commercials. The one below is my alltime favorite. And there were some cool prizes given out. This was the first time we had ever done such a campaign. We wouldn’t mind doing more in the future, so long as it is for a dog product we feel is noteworthy.
* We updated the look on our retail site. Pet Auto Safety.com. Our web host did an upgrade forcing us to change our theme, but it really needed a new look anyway. Many aspects of our retail site became much easier when the upgrade took place.
* In July, I was in a minor car accident with my dog Maya. Fortunately, she was wearing her Go-Tech dog car harness and was not hurt at all.
* In August, I had an interview with the Radio Pet Lady. It went well, although I was pretty nervous. Be sure to go take a listen by clicking the red text.
* We only did a few pet events this year, all small and local. There were two Mutt Mixer events held at the Lawrence Humane Society. We also attended Responsible Pet Owner’s Day held at Crystal K9 in Lawrence. And we attended the Dogtoberfest event held at South Park in Lawrence. My dog Maya was attended all events to demonstrate her dog car harness. Pierson couldn’t go because he doesn’t like other dogs.
* I started a pet travel destination series on this blog that didn’t work out. I also did a pet safety Saturday theme. I haven’t done this lately, but I do plan on doing more posts about pet safety in general – not just car safety.
* I’ve made quite a few funny dog memes in 2013. Making captions for the cute looks Maya and Pierson give is great fun.
* We discontinued a few products in 2013. Sadly, the T-Flex pet auto barrier was discontinued by the manufacturer. We’re not sure why because we loved the T-Flex. We also discontinued the Pet Buckle canine seat belt. It was an innovative product when it first came out because it was the only one we knew of that used metal buckles. But other brands have since come out that have been determined to be much safer.
* With that being said, we added several new products in 2013. For seat belts, we added the Ruff Rider Roadie and the ClickIt Utility. Both of these were the top rated in safety during a recent independent study (more on that below). We also added some new Kurgo products, such as the Go-Tech harnesses, the Kurgo towels, and the Kurgo direct connect tether for seat belts. And two new products were added to help dogs who have anxiety when they ride in the car – the Thundershirt for dogs and cats and pet calming tablets from Total Pet Health. And let’s not forget the K9 Car Fence!
* The long awaited report on the crashworthiness of various canine seat belt brands came out in October 2013. The results of this study were a lot more promising than their previous report. The ClickIt Utility was number one, followed by the Ruff Rider Roadie and AllSafe. Bergan did pretty good, too.
* We finally finished our first funny dog video of Maya and Pierson riding in the car. It was quite a learning curve trying to figure out how to use movie editing software. But I had fun doing it and am happy with the resulting videos.
* We had several people share photos of their dogs with us. These guys and gals are all pretty adorable, aren’t they?
Thanks for taking the time to review our 2013 year! Stop by tomorrow to see what our 2014 plans are for Pet Auto Safety.com.
Some of you may have heard of this already, but if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on their leash, it means the dog needs his space and you should not approach him. A dog can need extra space for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he is shy, is frightened of certain people or young children, just had surgery, has a tendency to snap, is working on obedience, or has leash reactive issues.
I only just recently heard of using a yellow ribbon for such dogs and can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before. Most people who read my personal blog know that my dog Pierson has leash reactive issues. He does not do well when he sees other dogs. A yellow ribbon might be a useful tool if more people knew what it meant.
If I am walking Pierson and we come across someone else walking their dog, I cross the street and I divert his attention with the “look” command and a treat in hopes that he will learn to associate seeing the other dog with good stuff.
I also take Pierson on group walks where everyone in the group has a dog with a similar problem and we have all agreed to certain rules regarding our dogs’ interactions. While we walk together as a group, we walk spaced apart to whatever our own dog’s threshold level is. In Pierson’s case, he has to be at the end of the line. At first he had to be several yards behind but over time he has been able to get within a few feet of the dog in front.
But what about cases where another person still let’s their dog approach Pierson? This has happened to me a few times. In two of the situations, the other dogs were not on leashes. In one situation, the person did not understand why I was crossing the street away from her and her dog and she really wanted to meet Pierson.
If more people knew about the yellow ribbons, perhaps the yellow ribbon could have given them advance notice. Some people are concerned about the negative view a yellow caution ribbon might mean. But if we help people understand it could be for a variety of reasons, not just aggression, I think it is a good idea. What do you think?
Keep in mind, however, that the yellow ribbon should not be used as an excuse to not do proper training. Pierson’s issue is being worked with and it will be much easier for me to alleviate his leash reactive behavior if I have complete control over who does and who doesn’t approach him. Another thing the yellow ribbon should not be used for is as a waiver of liability. If Pierson has a yellow ribbon on his leash and he still ends up hurting another dog, I am still liable.
The top infographic was found on http://gulahund.se/. Incidentally, gulahund means yellow dog in Swedish.
Time for another Follow Up Friday hosted by HeartLikeADog and Flea with DogTreatWeb! We had a lot of great comments this week.
Jodi with HeartLikeADog pointed me in the direction of a review of a dog seat belt approved for pet car safety in Germany. The seat belt brand is AllSafe. A friend of mine in the UK actually pointed it out to me a couple months ago. I like the v-neck design and they appear to be very comfortable. The website claims to have tested them and they even show a crash test video.
The video and their testing claims looks a lot like the videos and testing claims as our US brands, so I have put aside any final decisions until the Center for Pet Safety releases an updated report on their testing of various dog seat belt brands.
CENTER FOR PET SAFETY
The Center for Pet Safety is a nonprofit organization, so I will be more inclined to trust their test results rather than I will the test results claimed by individual manufacturers. The report is supposed to be released this fall. Hopefully, this time they will be able to disclose the brands (they did not disclose the four brands tested in the 2011 report).
I will keep you posted. I am confident of the brands we have. But if a brand I sell does not do as well as others, I still contend that something is better than nothing. However, we will notate the results on our retail website and phase in the best brands possible.
Donna with DonnaAndTheDogs commented on the hiking with your dog post last Saturday. She agreed that knowing your dog was important, especially concerning their recall. She also reminded me of safety protection against two-legged predators. Good point! I forget about the unsavory folk because I’ve always had big dogs and they always seem to be a good deterrent. However, I have to remember that Maya loves everybody. She’d probably greet Jason and Freddie like a BFF.
OTHER PET CAR SAFETY METHODS
Kimberly with KeepTheTailWagging.com mentioned she is getting something to keep her dogs in the back seat, to keep them off the floor, and to keep them from putting their heads out the window. This is great! A dog seat belt is not for every dog. And if you have a large dog or more than one dog, putting them in a pet travel crate in a small car is not always feasible. So whatever you can do to help your best friend is simply pawsome! I think this Saturday’s theme for Pet Safety Saturday will be about alternatives to dog car harnesses.
BREEZE GUARD WINDOW SCREENS
I replied to Kimberly’s comment about how the products she mentioned resembles the Backseat Bridge and the Breeze Guard window screens that we have. Jodi with HeartLikeADog remembered my recent post about the Backseat Bridge but wanted to know more about the Breeze Guard window screens. The Breeze Guard window screens are a great product made right here in the USA by an entrepreneur like me. Well, not quite like me. I sell what others have made while Sue actually invented and patented her window screens! Click the image below of Maya looking out of her Breeze Guard window screens and find out more information.
OzTheTerrier, Flea with DogTreatWeb, and Snoopy all liked the Wordless Wednesday post about Maya’s birthday. Oz loved the video of Maya playing. Snoopy clearly agrees with Maya’s philosophy about work. And Flea’s comment made me smile:
“Maya is just ADORABLE. Well. Since it’s Maya’s birthday, we won’t talk about Pierson. ;)”
As you may know, Flea has two adorable Aussie mixes, Flash and Patches. She has an extra fondness for the breed which makes Pierson her favorite (shhh, don’t tell Maya).
SAFEST PLACE IN THE CAR?
Snoopy also asked a good question:
“What do you think is safer, being in the trunk or where I currently sit? Which is on the floor behind the driver seat (I didn’t like it on the seat), I’m strapped in with my harness and attached to the seatbelt. I used to sit in the trunk but Dad thought it isn’t safe if someone rear ends us.”
By trunk, do you mean the area in the back of a hatchback or SUV? I don’t think there have been any studies about whether the floor of the car or the cargo area can be a safe place to ride. It probably depends on the kind of car accident you are in. You’re right about the cargo area possibly not being safe in a rear end collision. But what if you’re on the floor and in a front impact collision? Will the front passenger seats get pushed back and squish you? There are so many factors that I honestly can’t tell you which place is the safest. But I do believe that the fact you are wearing a dog seat belt improves your safety no matter where you ride.
Snoopy says he always wears a dog seat belt and he is never allowed to put his head out the window. Yay, Snoopy! Your Monday Mischief posts always make me laugh so I can only imagine what kind of mischief you’d be getting into if you weren’t using a safety restraint in the car. Good job!
Thank you, everyone, for all your great comments. And thank you for stopping by! As always, please feel free to comment and ask questions.
Follow up from Pet Safety Saturday’s post on Why My Dog Wears a Pet Car Harness:
I was in a rear end collision last Thursday. My dog Maya was with me. I was really sore the following Friday and Saturday but felt much better on Sunday and was 100% better by Monday. Maya seemed not to have been affected at all. She and Pierson were playing as normal on Friday and she has been just as rambunctious on her walks. The auto repair shop told me it is not just the rear bumper that was damaged on my car, but the frame as well. They also told me the cost to repair my car is likely more than my car is worth. So instead of getting my car repaired, I will most likely only receive a 2k check from the other insurance company. My car is a 1998 Ford Contour and doubtedly not worth more than 2k. Makes me wish I had a Toyota instead.
Follow up on questions received on the blog this week:
Jodi from Heart Like a Dog asks, “How frequently should you stop when driving with dogs? You should you keep to your regular feeding schedule? Typically our thought is we stop to let them eat and then when we stop for gas or to use the rest areas, they get a quick walk too.”
That’s a great question, Jodi. When we took a long road trip to Texas with Maya & Pierson we stopped every couple of hours or so. This coincided with the stops we made to get gas, at rest stops for our own potty breaks, and stops we made for food. I would start out with this as your plan. But watch their behavior. If they are generally quiet on the ride but suddenly get restless, it may mean that they need a break. Also, more active dogs may need more frequent stops.
For feeding, it really depends on how your dogs handle car rides. Do you know if they tend to get car sick? Pierson tends to get car sick so I gave him several small meals instead of his normal two big meals.
Hawk, Brown Dog CBR says, “Buying a seat belt really perplexed my Human. I ate one. She bought a different brand and I chewed the seat belt. I prefer my crate but it’s too big to go in the sedan. Now she’s talkin’ about gettin’ a different strap attachment that is longer. Do you think she thinks I won’t find a way to outsmart the dang thing? (smirk)”
LOL! Chewing through harnesses is a common problem. We usually provide a tip sheet for people who buy a pet car harness in order to give some ideas on how to keep a dog from chewing through or escaping from it. One tip is training the dog to get used to the harness. This can take time. A short-term solution is to use a no-chew spray on the harness. And your idea of a longer strap is a good one too. Here’s a link to an article we wrote on the subject a couple years ago – Tips to Keep Your Dog from Chewing on His Dog Car Harness.
Just so you know, there is no such thing as a safe chew-proof or escape-proof pet car harness. The only chew-proof material I can think of is Kong material or metal. I can’t imagine metal being safe. I don’t know how safe a hard rubber one would be. One hasn’t been invented or tested yet, as far as I know. Escape-proof is difficult as well. Imagine if the harness is too tight. This would be uncomfortable for the dog and the dog would be even more likely to try to get out of it if he is uncomfortable. And if he did try to get out of a pet car harness that is too tight, he will be more likely to hurt himself.
Follow up on questions received by telephone or email this week:
Sarah asked whether I like the Kurgo or the Bergan brand pet car harness the best. This is a very common question and it is difficult to answer. I like both of them for different reasons. I like how the Bergan fits Pierson. He has a small frame and both the neck and the chest straps are fully adjustable. I also like the Bergan’s tether for Maya because she likes to move around a lot. I like how the Kurgo fits Maya. The large size is like it was made just for a Lab. But I don’t like the Kurgo tether for Maya. It works well on Pierson and I like how it is shorter and safer for him. But the Kurgo looped tether just won’t work for Maya.
If someone asks how I like the Ruff Rider Roadie, I honestly haven’t tried it on Maya and Pierson yet. I really like how padded the Bergan and Kurgo is. The Ruff Rider isn’t. But the quality if the Ruff Rider Roadie is obvious. It has a lot of features that the Kurgo and Bergan don’t seem to have. It is pleated under the dog’s legs so that it doesn’t cause irritation. The strap can be made short or long. And the strap can be used with the seat belt of the car as well as in the cargo area of the SUV (The Bergan tether can too).
Follow up on southern Florida as a pet friendly travel destination:
Gizmo from Terrier Torrent loves Florida and says his favorite part is the Jupiter dog beach. Flea from DogTreatWeb for Jones Natural Chews has only experience central Florida and was not at all impressed. She says central Florida was not at all dog friendly. Pamela with Something Wagging This Way Comes says that she’s had luck finding dog friendly tours up north, but not dog friendly sailing tours. That’s too bad because I’m sure her dog Sunny would love to go.
Do you have any pet travel safety questions? What about a favorite pet friendly travel destination? Feel free to chime in on the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will never believe this, but my dog Maya was involved in her first (and hopefully only) auto accident. Thursday, July 25th, we were on our way to the Lawrence Humane Society for their Mutt Mixer event. I was to have a table of pet auto safety supplies set up and Maya was to model the new Kurgo Go-Tech pet car harness.
Before you get worried about us, we are both okay. I was at a full stop waiting for traffic when I was rear ended. It was on wet street going downhill. The impact was pretty jarring. My boxes of dog seat belts, which I was going to display at the event, went flying everywhere. My rear bumper was damaged. But Maya and I were wearing our seat belts and we were not noticeably injured.
I felt a little sore the next day, especially in the neck and shoulders, but Maya has been her usual happy-go-lucky self. Gotta love the resilient attitude of the Labrador! If it had been my Aussie mix Pierson involved in the car collision, he would have freaked out. And he would never want to ride in the car again.
Bad luck that Maya and I were in an auto accident, but good luck that it wasn’t too serious. Car collisions happen all the time with fender bender collisions being the most common. And even though you might be a safe driver, you never know what conditions or situations might arise that cause an auto accident to occur. This is why everyone in our family including my dogs wears a seat belt.
Be proactive, not reactive. And secure your pet in the vehicle now. It doesn’t have to be a seat belt. You can also use a pet trave crate.
We had someone from AT&T over the other day to see if they could fix our internet. We were told that our dogs had to be confined while they were here. Why? The AT&T guy that came told me one of his coworkers had recently been bitten in the face by a dog that was supposed to be friendly. Maybe the dog was. But dogs will be dogs. Maya will jump up on people if I am not careful. This can be very dangerous if someone is bending over when they pet her.
So no matter how friendly your dog is, be considerate of your guests. I have a tendency to think, “The dogs live here, you don’t.” But what if Maya jumps on someone and hurts them? It would be my fault. I would be responsible. It doesn’t matter whose house it is. So in order to protect the safety of my guests, here is what I do with Maya and Pierson:
Work on Sit / Stay
Maya gets really excited when people come over. So we’ve been working very hard on the sit and stay commands. I don’t just work with her at home with no distractions, I also work with her when people come over and out in public with other distractions.
Work on No Jumping
I’ve taught Maya not to jump on me, but it has been difficult to keep her from jumping on other people. People don’t know that they shouldn’t pet her unless she is sitting calmly, so it is my responsibility to tell them. When we are at home or on walks and someone wants to pet Maya, I make sure they know that if she gets up or starts to get anxious, back away or turn around and ignore her.
Keep on a Lead
This helps even at home. If Maya is on a leash when guests come over, it helps put her in “work” mode. It also enables me to grab the other end and restrain her if she gets too excited.
Make Sure Pets are Confined
Yes, it is my house. But there will be some cases where it is simply best to confine my dogs. The AT&T guy was just one example. Another situation I have to be careful of because of Maya’s exuberance is when small children come over. Maya is great with kids, but she tends to get so excited that she knocks them over.
What do your dogs do when people come over? Are they challenging like Maya or calm and well-mannered like Pierson? (Sephi was well-mannered too.)
I am so excited about the new and improved Kurgo Go-Tech Adventure harness! We got our shipment from Kurgo last week and they are even better than they look in the pictures. They are well made (like all Kurgo products), padded, and come in these great colors. Just check out how adorable Maya and Pierson look in their new pet seat belts.
The Go-Tech Adventure dog car harness is a brand new product from Kurgo (released just last month). It is essentially the same as Kurgo’s crash tested Tru-Fit pet seat belts, with a few differences. The biggest difference is the larger padded chest piece. The chest piece is also V-shaped, which I like because it doesn’t come up as high on the neck as Kurgo’s other style.
Another difference is that the back of the harness has extra reinforcement and is designed to protect your dog’s vertebrae. And yet another big difference is the cool colors the Go-Tech dog seat belts come in – Cool Blue and Dark Raspberry. (The Tru-Fit comes in different colors, but only the black and red have steel buckles.)
Like the Kurgo Tru-Fit, the Go-Tech has steel nesting buckles and includes a loop tether so that your dog can be secured in the car. I found it super easy to put on. It was also easy to adjust. And my dogs look super comfortable in them.
In celebration of this new product, the Go-Tech Adventure dog car harness is available with free shipping at PetAutoSafety.com. You can also use discount code, petsafeblogger, to get an additional 10% off! For the extra-small size, that is $7 in total savings (10% or $2 plus $5 shipping). For the extra-large size, that is $9 in total savings. The discount code applies to all products from our site, except the BreezeGuard Window screens.
Thanks for stopping by for this week’s edition of Pet Safety Saturday. Come back and see us again next week!
Generally, on Saturdays we feature a pet safety topic. But we have added so many new products this June that we decided to reserve today to show you some of our new and exciting dog travel accessories.
A couple of our new products are dog travel bowls. The weather is getting hot and even though I know you’re not leaving your dog alone in the car, your dog still needs a cool drink. So take that ride to the dog park, then open up a collapsible dog dish and add water. These bowls can be folded into a small compact shape and they are relatively inexpensive.
Our favorite new product is the Kurgo direct to seat belt tether. The Kurgo dog car harness currently uses a loop tether where the seat belt of your car goes through it. This restricts your dog’s movement, which is a good thing, but can be very uncomfortable for a dog that likes to move around a lot (like my Maya). The direct to seat belt tether buckles directly into the seat belt receptacle of your car and makes movement for your dog much easier.
Another new product we have from Kurgo is the mud dog towel. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when Maya goes to the dog park, she manages to find a mud puddle to play in. I don’t really want a muddy dog in my car, so this towel from Kurgo would come in very handy.
And yet another new product from Kurgo is the kennel straps. We used to have a similar product, but replaced it with this one from Kurgo. Kurgo makes some very high quality products and this one is no exception.
We have also added a new pet cargo liner. For the longest time, we’ve only had a choice between two different pet cargo liner brands. This one from Guardian Gear makes it three.
And for those of you who have dogs that are crazy in the car or that get stressed out about car rides, we have added a new dog anxiety treatment. It is some pet calming tablets from Total Pet Health. These are great for cats too, because sometimes your cat has to ride in the car.
And still another new product that we’ve added is another Bergan dog car harness. We’ve had all sizes in the aqua color available for some time now. A few months ago we added the medium and large mossy oak color. And now we’ve just added the extra-large size in mossy oak.
Look for even more new dog travel accessories in July. Some new products to look for are some single seat covers, a new bench seat cover from Kurgo, and some new colored dog car harnesses from Kurgo! So be sure to stop by our website and check them out. You can also keep up to date on our Twitter and FB pages (links to the left).