Boarding Cats

As a Professional Pet Sitter plus an avid lover of cats, I absolutely love when I have kitty sits or feline boarders. But boarding may not always be a good option for the cat. They are extremely territorial and can stress out in different situations. So when a client calls me to care for their kitties, I do my usual Meet N Greet so that I can evaluate the kitties to see which situation will work best for them. I have had great success in boarding cats here, but I make sure they have all their essential items that they need. Plus I also make sure they have plenty of room to stretch their legs and climb. They are allowed out into the main part of the room so that they can run, jump, play, and of course cuddle! I never change food and also know that the kitties are particular about what they eat and drink out of so I request the owners to bring their bowls as well. Its all about the comfort and safety of my feline friends! They are required to have all their vaccines up to date just like the dogs and free of flea and ticks. I want all my visitors to have a positive and great time while they stay with us. Its best that the cats that board with me are used to the sounds and smells of dogs too. Many times I have a client bring me both their kitty and dog and request that they stay in the same suite! So when thinking about what to do with the sweet kitty, let me help you make that decision prior to departure. It will benefit everybody involved to make sure that the cat is comfortable and safe.

Why choose a professional you ask?

You get a phone call in the middle of the night while you are relaxing from a glorious day at the beach. You are on vacation, much needed one! The phone call is not good! Your dog has passed away and the neighbor friend that you asked to watch him has no idea why! I mean he threw up a couple of times and had a little bit of blood in it but otherwise he was doing fine!! Not fine! We all want to make sure that our fur babies are taken care of while we are gone but finding that person or boarding facility can be a pain right? Wrong. People who get into this profession take it very serious. Which means they take your pet's health and safety very serious too. Did you know that a lot of Professional Pet Sitters have vet tech experience and are certified in animal CPR? Yes, that is true. Think about it...would you rather leave your fur baby in the care of the teenage neighbor that may or may not stop by and leave a little food/water and spot check on your pet? Or would you prefer to leave them in the care of a professional that has the experience and can and will notice any health problem your pet may have and take action immediately? I talk about this topic because in my years as a PPS, I have had to take a pet to the vet due to noticing irregular habits, illness, fever, unusual poop! Thankfully none of the cases were serious but non the less needed attention. When parents are away, some of these dogs get anxiety and tend to do, or more like chew things they shouldn't which can cause upset tummys and away we go! So I ask the question again...would you prefer to have your neighbor take care of your precious pets, or hire a professional? The choice is yours!

Life with a Heeler! (My boy Riggs) Part 1

My life would never be the same without my boy Riggs! Those who know me also know about my 1/2 border collie 1/2 heeler Wrigley,,or as we affectionately call him, Riggs! The search for a new puppy was about 2 years ago. I knew I wanted a cattle working breed and I also knew it had to have border collie in him. Luckily I pet sat for a client who had just had a litter of puppies from one of her heeler moms and border collie dads. I was familiar with the Dad because I had taken care of him on numerous occasions and fell in love with him. He was smart, beautiful, and playful. So I anxiously waited for the day that I was going to pick out our newest family member. The day finally came and my husband and I went to the house to spend time with the litter. They were all beautiful so I knew the choice would be tough. But there was that one little pudgy guy in the corner with amazing eyes that kept watching us. So we held him and it was instant love! We waited the recommended 8 weeks before bringing home. I had the perfect little set up in the office that I divided into a puppy area complete with small crate and tons of puppy pads!! After getting his second round of puppy shots, wormer and clean bill of health we brought him home. He stole our hearts! I mean, why wouldn't he right? Well we definitely went through all the puppy business that you go through in the beginning. You know,,everything goes into the mouth, then comes right back out! Potty training was a back breaker!! Man that baby can pee gallons! But I'm telling all of you,,,crate training at a young age will make the job sooooo much easier!! The multitude of toys that were bought would make our banker flinch!! But we soon discovered that his favorites were balls and tug toys! This little guy learned to fetch at 10 weeks! We also took him outside around the whole perimeter of the property to get him accustomed to his boundaries. I incorporated many fetch games into his life to help him learn several commands, and learn he did! As he grew, his markings began to appear. He also showed us his one blue eye and one brown eye! He was absolutely beautiful. I'm not biased! We also started noticing his attention to every word we said to him. So, I decided to start the training. Ugh,,,I love to train but it requires tons of patience and understanding,,,did I mention patience???? But wow! This pup learned FAST! The simple commands such as sit, down, shake, stay all came within 6 weeks from the start. I knew then I had a special dog. The play continued outdoors mostly with our fetch sessions and a few tug plays too, I don't like to encourage a lot of tug. Also the nibbling on the hands, fingers and feet were becoming a problem. All the lovely puppy behaviors were at full throttle. Did I mention patience??? I was determined to get the fetch game down to a science. I mean I wanted that ball brought and laid down at my feet. Right? Wrong! Well, I had to stop and think on that one. This pup loved, loved, loved his game of fetch more than anything else in the world! So, a light bulb went off. If he wanted to continue the game, the ball wouldn't be tossed again until it was right at my feet! So I used the cue "here and aki" with my finger pointing to the spot until he figured out that the game was stalled until it laid where I pointed! SUCCESS!!! He got it. My happy dance had never looked better! So the game of fetch was conquered with finesse and patience. In fact..I think I'll take a break and go play!!

Get the Best Tools to Walk Your Pups

Spring is in the air! This is the best time to get out with the pooch and get some exercise. Yes it will benefit both your dog and you. Walking is a fantastic way to get this accomplished. One of the questions I get asked the most is how to stop the dog from pulling on the leash. I have my fair share of  pups that make me feel like I'm being pulled from behind a jet boat! There are so many tools out there now that can make this task easier and fun. As a trainer, I never recommend to use any of the "pain" collars as I call them. These would include prong collars that have spikes pointing into the dogs neck. When the dog pulls, the spikes dig into the skin and can be very painful. These should only be used by professionals. They can not only do a lot of damage on the outside , but cause many wounds that can become infected. Another one of "pain" tools would include choke collars. They work like a pulley system that "grab" the dogs throat whenever they pull. Folks this can do serious damage to the pups trachea. So what are the better choices? My favorite is the gentle lead harness. It is a harness that fits comfortably around the dogs chest and girth. It has a front clip that the leash attaches to so it makes it harder for the dog to pull. It will not damage the trachea because it does not latch around the throat. You can get them from Amazon for about $25. Get the one that comes with the DVD to explain how to use the harness. This will save you tons of anxiety and is very safe for the dog. If you are still having issues, I will be glad to show you little tricks that make this harness the best dog walking tool on the market. So lets go walking!

DOGS ON THE LOOSE!

This topic can sometimes become a rant of mine simply because I am outside walking dogs a lot. It's my responsibility to keep my client dogs safe, as well as myself. We have city ordinances that require all city dogs be confined to their property either by fence or unfortunately restrained by a chain of some sort (not my favorite for many reasons!) But it's sad to say that it is not enforced in a lot of situations. I  cannot stress how frustrating it is to be walking a dog or dogs in the city and another dog or pack come running up to us with ears pinned, teeth bared, snarling and ready for attack mode. My heart leaps out of my chest and my adrenaline goes haywire. I carry pepper spray and have also learned how to use the end of my leash as a crazy swinging rope to try and scare the dogs away from us. I become this crazy lady that can transform into a 10 foot giant if I have to! So far I have been lucky that these tactics work. Please folks, prevent unnecessary attacks, wounds and in severe cases, death from occurring by abiding by the city laws set to protect not only your dog but all others. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the actions of your dog. I think if more people were taken to court due to the actions of their loose dogs, it would save lives, money and heartbreaks.

Gear up for Winter!

Yay! We have made it through the hot summer months. I love this time of year. Not too hot, not too cold,,,just right! I tend to have more energy and with that energy comes the goal of getting ready for winter. Living in West Texas with no predictability in our weather, we have to be ready for anything. I have to always stay on top of the up and coming weather that could alter the way I need to care for my animals including the boarding dogs and outside pet sits. Folks! Dogs may have a built in winter coat, but that doesn't mean that they have ALL the heat needed to sustain a comfortable body temp. When the temps drop, it's critical to make sure that all outside animals have a warm shelter to escape to. Would YOU want to be left outside in the cold without any warm outlets? I think not! There are many things that can be done for our outside pets. Safe heaters or lamps are usually used in enclosures to give the pups that extra warmth they will need. But please make sure they are safe and away from loose hanging objects that could catch on fire. I have a pup that absolutely hates to be inside, so we provide him with a warm dog house with lots of blankets and safe heat lamp to keep the chill away. We check every day to make sure no chords have been chewed or compromised. Exercise your pup the same way even during the winter months. For those dogs that are very sensitive to the cold, there are thousands of doggy clothing lines that can add extra warmth for your pup in the ways of sweaters and doggy jackets. So think ahead! Enjoy these perfect climate days but prepare for the really cold ones. Watch the weather forecasts. When they say bring your plants in, well its safe to say that the same should go for the pets!

Fly control?

I had a conversation with a lady this morning that triggered me to blog about pesky situation that many of us horse owners have to deal with this time of year. FLIES!!!! We were lucky enough to get a lot of moisture during the spring, which we badly needed, but along with the moisture came the presence of many pesky insects! Since horses put out as much as they put in (food consumption), it attracts the many families of flies. This can become a huge problem very quickly. So as horse owners, it is our responsibility to try and manage the situation. Flies irritate the horses in many ways. They tend to fly around their faces, gather all along the body and bite and just plain become a nuisance! There are so many products on the market such as fly sprays to varying degrees that claim to control the situation. Most horse owners have at least 3 or 4 of those products lying around their barn. I have personally probably tried all of them myself. Some work better than others, some don't work at all. It was always my thought that the more expensive the spray was, the more effective it should be, right? Wrong! Its a daily battle and should be dealt with daily during the fly season. I have since learned to mix my own concoction to try and illuminate the population. I use skin so soft body oil by Avon and citronella oil and mix those together. It seems to work about as good as the expensive products. Plus it smells great and gives the horse coat a nice shiny gleam! In addition to the sprays, I also put fly masks on my boys. These protect their face and ears from the pests. Now keeping them on is a different story. My two have made it a game to see which one can get the others mask off first. It's a search every day to find the missing fly mask, but at least I know they are protected most of the time. There are natural organic ways to try and control flies. A type of fly predator can be used. This is tiny wasp about the size of a gnat that feeds off of the fly larvae that is laid in the manure. The company sends out batches of these predators that about to hatch and you sprinkle it all over the areas where the horses potty. These work great, but you must be sure to start it in the very beginnings of spring before the flies get really bad to get a good control of the situation and then they send out fresh batches every 3 weeks or so depending on the area and number of horses. A regimen of doing all of these will certainly help with the fly population. Key is to stay on top of it at all times. It's tough in this area, no doubt. But our 4 legged giants are certainly worth it.

In-Home Boarding. Why choose a professional?

This topic has become very important to me. When I started this business, I had no intentions on boarding dogs or cats. I was strictly going to do pet sits in the owners homes. I did well with this, but I consistently had others asking if I board. After many discussions with my husband and planning, I decided to try this concept with a few dogs that I was familiar with. My house is small, so I knew I would be limited to the number of dogs I could take in. I did this successfully and have several regulars that love to board their babies with me. Why is this service so sought after? It's the next best thing to actually staying in the dogs home, which I do occasionally but only in special circumstances. The dogs are in a home atmosphere and are in constant contact with people. I always ask that the owner to send their food, bedding and favorite toys to make them feel even more comfortable. So the question, "why choose a professional" is actually what I want to talk about today. When you home-board, all the dogs are in a close proximity of each other, usually in the same room. Do all dogs get along with each other? Absolutely not! You cannot, I repeat, cannot just throw a new dog in a room with a strange dog and expect them to become BFF's! It doesn't always happen that way. So how do I introduce new dogs to my  home with other boarders? First I do the meet and greet with the owner and pets either at their home or mine. That gives me important info about the pets and the owners. I ask many questions about habits, past behavior, medical, reactions to other pets and many more. The other thing I do is watch and evaluate behavior. Of course these pups will act different in front of their owners than they do in a strange place, but I can tell by a dogs demeanor how they may react to new surroundings.  I am studying dog behavior to obtain my certification in dog training so it now comes natural for me to observe all dogs. If I feel comfortable with the dogs and vice versa, then we discuss dates, and other specifics. But one very important thing I do at this time is look at my schedule to see what other dogs I may already have on the books at the times the current owner is requesting. If I already have a dog booked that I think will be a problem with the new dog, then I either come up with another solution or figure out another way to accommodate but separate these particular dogs from each other. Once it is decided to board at my home, the day of the arrival, I put my current boarders behind a puppy gate. I allow the new dog into the house and give it the room to investigate. I am by the gate at all times in case I have to quickly move dogs away from each other if there is any aggression. This works very well for me because they will either sniff, wag, roll over on tummy or seem disinterested. Those are the perfect scenarios! If aggression is shown by either side, then I know I will either have to keep these dogs separate from each other, or continuously introduce them through the gate in hopes that they will eventually become comfy with each other. I have spent full days doing this at times. I will never risk injury to my boarding dogs, me or my pets that I own. Once I see accepted behaviors between the gate, then I move them into the playroom. Its a larger room that gives them room to play and interact. If there are signs of aggression there, its back to the gate, or permanent separation for duration of stay. But usually, it always work. For one thing, during the MnG, if it is mentioned that the dog has aggression towards others, I will either choose other options, or have to decline my services. I have to say, there is nothing like peace and harmony when all the boarding dogs relax and get along well with each other. I am able to breathe! But during the stay, I consistently keep an eye out for any latent aggression. So THAT is why it is so important to hire a professional pet sitter! Knowledge is crucial, and even somebody knowing first aid in case a disagreement comes about!! I take this very serious. I do my homework. Safety is number one!  

To Free Feed or not,,,,,That is the question!

As a pet sitter, I run into all kinds of methods of feeding for other people's pets. Nothing ever surprises me! The rising costs of pet food is constantly changing. There are so many different brands, textures and quality of food on the market. It's hard to make a decision as to what is the best food for your pet. Many pet parents choose their food based on what their friends advise them to feed, or what their Vet recommends. Some may go through trial and error to see what their pet actually finds appetizing to their pallet! Either way, it can be a tough  decision. The industry does make it a bit easier now with specialized foods for specific needs. Of course there is the puppy and kitten chows that need to be fed usually up to the age of 1 year. They are packed full of nutrients for the growing pets. There are specific types of food for different health issues. The choices are endless! I myself become overwhelmed when walking through the isle of pet food at my pet chain. I want the best for my babies so I spend a lot of time reading labels and more specifically ingredients. For my cats,,,I want a nutritious food that is geared for urinary health. My cats are all neutered males. The indoor neutered males tend to have more problems with urinary tracts. So I look for a balanced dry food that is low in ash, low in magnesium, and higher in water content. Most pet food companies have their own food specific to urinary tracts. I also make sure that the first ingredients listed are meats, not grain or corn. But in addition to the dry food, my kitties diet consist mostly of wet canned food. The wetter the better. Gravy style is best. This ensures me that they are taking in  the moisture needed to sustain a healthy bladder! So, now we approach the decision of whether we should set up feeding schedules or free feed, which means, leaving food out consistently. I personally do not free feed. Free feeding has been proven to increase obesity in indoor pets. It also becomes boring to a pet to have the food out at all times, not to mention it eventually becomes stale and unpalatable. Setting up feeding schedules is the best way to control the amount that goes into your pets tummy. It will help control with obesity issues and finicky issues. Now I'm not saying that this is the ONLY way to feed a pet. I have many clients that free feed their pets and it works great! Each pet is individual and its up to us to monitor which of these methods work best for the pets. If your pet is increasingly gaining weight due to lack of exercise or an abundance of food available throughout the day, then you might consider schedules. On the other hand, if you have a pet that is primarily outside and gets a lot of exercise but typically does not like to eat his/her meals at one sitting, then by all means, leave portions out for them to nibble on throughout the day. But make sure the other outside pests, such as ants, flies, birds...other creatures don't saturate the food as well. To me, that's almost like contamination! We as humans wouldn't eat a portion of food if a fly landed on it! Why should we expect Fido to? So do your homework, ask other professionals in the pet industry for suggestions. You will make the best decision for your baby. I will add one more note to the topic. If you DO free feed, please throw out food that has been sitting for more than 24 hours. I'm not a professional nutritionist. I do my homework though and constantly read articles and also talk to my vet about the best food for my animals.

I AM A STUDENT!!

This business is very important to me. I constantly strive to improve anything within my power to offer and give the best pet care I can to my clients. I have independently trained my own dogs throughout my life to be the best dogs they can be as well as me being the best human I can be for them. Of course I trained them to do the basics such as simple word commands like sit, stay, lay down, shake,,,you get the picture, but the one area that I really didn't accomplish is to try and read a dog. What does that mean? Well, like humans, dogs use their bodies and language to try and get a point across to us humans, as well as other dogs. Every little movement of their bodies has meaning to other dogs. Even the smallest of movements. They are taught to understand these movements as puppies from their mother and other litter mates. I also use this philosophy when training my horses. Animals don't have the ability to have a complex language like humans do to communicate so they use every other means within them. I am currently studying to get my certification in dog training. It will take about 2 years to complete, but it will enhance not only my abilities as a pet sitter, but I will be able to help others with their dogs in need of assistance with communication. The first part of my studies is all about animal behavior. It is without a doubt one of the most interesting subjects that I have had the privilege to learn about. As I dive into my studies, I constantly find myself being more of an observer of the many dogs that I care for. It's fascinating! Far better than most of the programs on tv now! Dogs have a lot to say! It will take the length of the study and time to be able to accomplish my goal of better understanding of dog language but it will be so worth it. I am excited to be a student. Learning is never boring. I'm like a sponge again. I have the best job to be able to test my new knowledge and on many different subjects. Take the time to sit and observe your dog. Hear wha476t they have to say! Pictured at the right is one of my test subjects..Buffy! She always has things to say!