I looked on Consumer reports before buying mine and we love it. it's a Canon Powershot A510. It's a relatively small 3.2 mega pixels and 4x lens, but it's perfect for the doggy shots. We got it at Costco for $220 (while we're waiting to be able to afford the Rebel SLR digicam). It's cheaper than the $300 you wanted to spend, but it is just a great value in a camera. It's one of the quickest ones too (still kinda long with the flash, but fast without it) and it has a lot of settings to choose from. You can also take movies in different sizes with sound and you can edit them a bit on the camera. We researched like madness and tried out a few before settling on this one. It's simple, easy and CHEAP!
Sample pic from my camera: