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Archive for the ‘Blog-Adventures In Pet Sitting’ Category

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It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged because on November 30, 2015 I lost a piece of my soul.  My beautiful Scooty let me know that night that she was done fighting kidney disease and we said goodbye to her at the vet’s office.  It’s been more than 4 months, but writing this, I feel the pain of her death like it was yesterday.  Just 10 months earlier, we lost our Lil Tanya  at age 17, to congestive heart failure.  I have cried an ocean of tears.  Just when I find myself remembering a memory with fondness instead of grief, I’ll be knocked down by a tidal wave of sadness.  I spent nearly an entire day last month crying on the couch.  Grief is exhausting.  One of the reasons I was able to eventually get up off the couch is because my husband has been almost unreasonably understanding.  I introduced him to Scooty and Lil Tanya when they were still  young pups and I remember him telling me later that he knew how big a step it was for me.  He witnessed firsthand my deep connection to The Girls and over the next decade or so, formed his own bond with them.

When other people were like, “Enough with the dead dog posts already”, the Hubs understood.  When, months later, I was still sleeping with Scooty’s favorite blanket, he understood.  Ditto when I sobbed after donating Scooty’s dog bed.  Not everyone, unfortunately, is as supportive.  I have to say that the worst thing anyone could ever say to someone who has lost a beloved pet is, “It’s just a dog” (or cat, etc.).  One thing those people don’t factor in is that pets love 100% unconditionally every single day of their lives, something humans just aren’t capable of.  No animal will ever remember past hurts or feel resentful.  They will never leave you or ever tell a lie.  Those are powerful gifts which create an unbreakable bond.  I feel terrible for anyone who hasn’t experienced the pure love of a pet and that helps me forgive those individuals who believe that I’ve lost “Just a dog.”  I will take my time grieving the loss of my sweet Girls and hope with all my heart that someday we will meet again.

We wait all year for The Camarillo Fiesta Street Fair.  Seriously, all year.  I have to say…2014 did not disappoint.  Thursday  $1 rides.   Friday decorations, set-up and beer garden.  Saturday Open House with lots of friends and family (and of course their dogs).  We happen to have the ideal site for the Fiesta, right in the middle of the action.  Camarillo is teeming with people and with dogs, there are two different bandstands and of course fair food.  I love how pet friendly Camarillo is and Fiesta gives me the opportunity to meet and greet all kinds of dog breeds and their owners.  Here are a few of the fur babies I met this year…

Also, a reminder that  the  folks at Ventura County Animal Services would like to remind you that they have many, many pets in need of forever homes.  If you are thinking of adding to your family or would like information on adoption, shot clinics or microchipping you can visit the shelter at 600 Aviation Way (near the Camarillo airport) or call 805) 388-4341

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SCOOTY

 

Recently our dog Scooty began exhibiting signs of diabetes so we took her to our vet.  After a full (and very expensive) blood panel and urinalysis, the diagnosis was, to say the least, devastating.  Scooty’s test results were off the charts bad.  The worst of it, we were told, was that she was in chronic kidney failure.  The vet recommended a canned food diet specifically for kidney disease and then re-testing her in 30 days but I got the feeling she didn’t think Scooty would be around by then.

Let me back up a bit before I describe her new diet.  15 years ago I switched my dogs to an organic, holistic diet when it occurred to me that I would never ever eat the crap that was on the label of their regular food.  After much research I realized I simply could not afford to buy and have shipped the kind of food I wanted them to eat.  So I consulted with my vet and we came up with recipes I could make myself.  I did this for about three years until pet boutiques carrying organic canned food began cropping up in my area.  When I looked at the canned food the vet was advocating I saw all that same crap, fillers, nitrates and preservatives.  So I asked if she had any recipes I could use that incorporated whole, organic foods and after digging through some old boxes she came up with a recipe from a course she took on homeopathic medicine 10 years earlier.  I’ve been using that recipe, combined with others from a veterinary nutritionist.

I’m thrilled to report that 30 days later Scooty is eating her new food, drinking water and sprinting around like her old self.  Oh, did I mention she’s 19 years old?  She’s our own medical miracle.  What I don’t understand is how am I the only patient in all her many years of practice to question giving their pet that nasty, processed food?  Not one other person asked if there was an alternative?  In this, the age of organic foods, alternative healing and pet obsession?  Really?

When I was a kid my mom used water and white vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner.  I had completely forgotten this until a friend spraying her countertop with it brought the memory back.  I try and keep as much toxic crud out of my family’s (including the dogs) food and water, so why not clean up my cleaning products?  There are any number of safe products readily available today, a couple of which I use, but I prefer to DIY others.  Removing unneccessarily toxic chemicals/fumes is benficial for everyone living in your household, big and small.

HERE ARE MY TWO FAVORITE DIY RECIPES:

 

All-Purpose Cleaner (kitchen, bathroom, etc.)

In a spray bottle combine two parts water per one part white vinegar.  If you find you dislike the smell try a couple drops of essential oil or even a squeeze of fresh lemon directly into the spray bottle

Laundry Soap

If this seems like a lot of work, remember this:  Recipe makes 10 gallons total which works out to approx .08 cents per load once you’ve used it all (and it’ll take quite some time to use it all)

1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap (other options Ivory for sensitive skin or Pink Zote)

1/2 cup Borax (available at most Target and Walmart stores)

1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!)

5 gallon bucket and lid or if you can find it, a container with a spigot is ideal

grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with 4 cups of water.   Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water, I have a nice big kitchen sink that it fit in, if you don’t have a big enough sink, use your bathtub.

Add melted soap, washing soda and borax and stir well until all powder is dissolved.

Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

***This makes 5 gallons of  CONCENTRATE.  You then add to the soap and equal amount of  hot water (easiest to use a glass measuring cup) to any container, like an empty laundry container. 

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long ago I was on hold to speak to my vet and instead of music, I listened to health facts and tips.  One of the facts was that every pound over your small pet’s ideal weight causes their little hearts to work up to 25% harder.  I decided to publish this because we all want our fur babies around and healthy as long as possible and many of us are unknowingly jeopardizing that.  The only tip here I would disregard personally is weighing myself then weighing myself again with my pet…neither of those is gonna happen since my vet has a scale that in no way involves me being humiliated in my own home.

Statistics show that cats are getting fatter. This might make you wonder a couple of things. First, could your cat be among this growing number? A visual test can get you started on answering that question.

The second question that can come to mind is: How bad is the problem? Check out this infographic for stats on overweight cats and obese cats, and learn how to get your fat cat back on track.

Fat Cat or Fit Cat Infographic

 
 

 

 

 

“Sweet Louie”

   CAST OF CHARACTERS :

 

 

Sugar The Cat

 

 

My Mom used to say, “You can’t be sad holding a puppy (or kitten or piglet, etc.)”.  Not only is this totally true, fully-grown animals work every bit as well.  Case in point:  I had a very emotional morning and had a client to see when all I wanted was to crawl back in bed and cry for a while.  I arrived still upset and teary and unlocked the door, steeling myself for a drooly mini-maul from a 2 year-old St. Bernard with a whole lot of puppy left in her (something I usually enjoy).  Instead, out walked Lola (mini-mauler) followed by Louie (pictured) with their heads down and their tails wagging.  They both looked at me with their sweet puppy dog eyes waiting to be leashed up.  They absolutely knew.  We went for a leisurely walk after which they waited patiently for their breakfast.  While they ate, Sugar the cat jumped into my lap and snuggled up, purring.  On the drive home I noticed what a beautiful day it was and upon returning home my husband brought me my fave brekky from Old New York Deli.  Feeling down?  Prescription:  Go find yourself a dog or cat (or piglet) or two

Things can get pretty crazy at the holidays and all the shopping, cooking, wrapping and houseguests is what we tend to be focused on. Pet safety is something most pet owners never give a second thought, not because they don’t love their animals, but because there is so much additional work to be done this time of year.  Here is a brief list of  holiday items that can be potentially dangerous to our household pets:

Decorations Shiny decorations like tinsel, ribbon and yarn are especially appealing to cats and can cause serious damage when ingested, sometimes requiring abdominal surgury.

Plants – Poinsettias get a bad rap and they are mildly toxic but lilies, holly (and holly berries) and mistletoe are far more dangerous.  Keep these away from all pets, particularly young pets.

Food  Chocolate, onions and some of the fruits that are plentiful around the holidays are toxic and can cause kidney and liver failure.  Raisins, grapes and currants are all toxic and found in most fruitcakes.  Hopefully it goes without saying that alcohol is never for pets.  There’s nothing wrong with having fatty meats this time of year in moderation, but even small amounts can be harmful to animals.  Treat your pets with healthy treats formulated especially for them.  Baby carrots, for instance, make a delicious crunchy dog treat.

**Never Feed Other People’s Pets Table Scraps.  They May Have Allergies Or Dietary Restrictions You Are Unaware Of **

PET POISON HOTLINE   (800) 213 – 6680  Provides 24/7  Operators.  $35 fee per incident may be charged

Whiskers Camarillo is in no way affiliated with the pet poison hotline

Related Images:

A friend email’d me this amazing underwater photos of dogs going after a tennis ball in a swimming pool.  I love the last one, I would totally hang that on my wall.

How to Find the Right In-Home Pet Sitter 

So you’ve planned your dream vacation and you’ve made your checklist. Plane tickets? Check. Hotel booked? Check. Packing list? Check. Mail on hold?  And for your pet, you’ve opted to go forgo the kennels and don’t quite trust your in-laws (we’ll never tell). Instead, you’ve chosen in-home care.  Great. Now all that’s left is selecting the right pet sitter so your animal has a good experience. 

Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to contact potential pet sitters. You’ll want to do your homework and research various websites to see who is in your area, is available, and makes a great match for your dog’s personality.

Once you’ve whittled down potentials, contact them. It’s important to start a dialogue to make sure the match is a good fit and they have the time available to care for your pet(s) while you are away.  Your sitter should want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know him or her.  Use the following tips to help :

Know your dog’s habits

Once you’ve started a conversation, let them know your pet’s habits and quirks. If your dog is a high maintenance princess that needs to be the center of attention (hey, no judging) a sitter that has pets of their own that they consider family would be a good fit.  Conversely, a sitter with their own well-socialized dogs can provide your pet some friends with which to play. Similarly, an extremely high-energy dog needs to spend his days hiking and staying active, so you would more likely consider a host who has the physical ability to provide that.

Read host profiles and browse photos

Often, pet sitters/dog walkers will post in-depth profiles about their personal experiences, their love of animals, as well as photos of the pets they care for.  Many pet sitters are very experienced and have been working in pet care for years, either professionally, through volunteering or both.  If you have, for instance, a pit bull or other “bully breed”, you will want to be sure your sitter accepts those breeds.  I’ve had clients call me who had been turned away by other pet sitters because of their dog’s breed.  On my site I have pictures of pit bulls I care for, making it obvious that breed is not a problem for me.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Maybe your dog eats hand stirred grain and sliced chicken meals and you want to be sure your sitter knows how to prepare it. Or maybe there are other special needs, such as handicaps or allergies. They want to put you as much at ease as they do your dog, so ask away!

Determine if they can customize to your pet’s routine

Animals live according to routine and no two routines are exactly alike. To make sure your dog’s routine, such as eating at the same time every day, stays intact while you’re away, someone who is willing to work with you is key.  If your animals sleep in the bed with you, your pet sitter needs to be okay with that if you are asking them to stay overnight.  It’s important for pet parents to feel like they’re leaving their best friend with someone who respects the rules they’ve set and is willing to adapt to them.

 

Schedule a Meet and Greet

Everything may seem perfect but believe me, you will feel much better about leaving your pets in the care of someone you have met with face-to-face.  There might be some little unforeseen item that could put a wrench in the best-laid plans.  I have only met with one potential client whose needs I was not able to meet but it does happen.  Don’t rely solely on online or phone communication. Schedule an in-person meeting in your home. This way, you can discuss any additional needs and see how your dog interacts with them. Once you find the perfect sitter, it’s potentially a relationship that both you and your dog can enjoy for years to come.

We all work hard for our vacations. And vacations should be relaxing, rewarding, and wonderful. With a little planning, your pet will enjoy his or her vacation as much as you will yours.

I really do love New York, I even have the t-shirt.  I love Manhattan because it’s loud and exciting and non-stop.  I also find it fascinating how all of those animal lovers manage to cram themselves and their pets in on such a teeny island.  I love the small neighborhood dog parks and the  professional dog walkers orchestrating multiples of leashes on crowded sidewalks.  I worry some about the effects of carbon monoxide pollution from congested traffic on the systems of all of those pets, but I’m from L.A. so….

Now, I love upstate New York for a very different reason.  Family.  My husband’s family.  Nearly all of his immediate family lives there and we get back there as often as we can.  I know it goes against tradition but I genuinely love spending time with my in-laws.  They’re great and they are super fun.  They might be Superheroes of fun.  When we go back east we stay with my mother-in-law in the same house my husband grew up in.  It’s kind of like a time warp for me since I didn’t know these kind of families existed before I met my husband.  The teens and 20-somethings come home (voluntarily) for all kinds of family parties, events and at the holidays.  It’s all very 1950’s.

Speaking of the 1950’s, my mother-in-law’s home is in a very quiet little subdivision, on a beautiful tree-lined street.  There are bunnies and squirrels everywhere and the yards are gigantic compared to our little post stamp patches in California.  People mow their own lawns and kids ride bikes in the street.  One product of all those fantastic yards is that families there have large breed dogs who actually get to run and play and chase all those squirrels.  All this talk of large yards and big dogs is ultimately leading to one very important and beloved family member…Bailey a.k.a. Mr. B.  Because my business is caring for animals I try not to have favorites but since Mr. B lives in another state where I do not conduct business…I adore him.  He’s sweet and gorgeous and manly yet sensitive.  And very, very photogenic.  I spent a lot of time taking pics of my niece (in-law)’s dog.  He is one of the luckiest dogs I know.  If she has to be away from home she drops him off at her mom’s (my sis-in-law)’s house where he is loved on by lots of other family members all day long.  I’ll wrap it up because I know I’m gushing but, he brought the t.v. remote to me when I walked in the door.  Need I say more?  Here’s a Bailey photo montage for your viewing pleasure:

Mr. B in all his Golden Glory

With New Neighbor “Sully”Peek-A-Boo