As a dog walker or pet sitter I often get to learn a lot about my clients based on our exchanges in our everyday lives. Most times I may only meet you once at the beginning when you sign up for my service and from there out I only see your pets and maybe the occasional time I run into you somewhere. I have seen some of my clients at the bank, the grocery store, their local work places, on the trails walking their own dogs and so on. I have been lucky to share many things with you besides your pets…..some of you have had babies, had children grow up, graduate school, move out, get married and so on. I have been in your circle when you get new pets, say goodbye to family members or pets, recover from illnesses or surgeries, renovate your homes, go on fabulous vacations and so on. Through all the craziness that is life I am happy to share your pets with you and feel like a small part of your lives.
Some of you may know a bit about me. I have a passion for animals and love training and working with dogs specifically. I enjoy watching them learn new things and then apply those things to help them be well-behaved pets. I have dogs that I’ve purchased from breeders as well as dogs that I’ve adopted or rescued and support both sides of that argument. Some of you may know that I am a runner. I have been running for about 20 years and it’s one of the things that I enjoy doing with my dogs. Recently I ran a half marathon (my fourth) and a 32-hour relay marathon that I was asked to be on the team by, yes, one of my clients who I now consider to be a friend 🙂
This Sunday I’ll be running in the Furry Friends 5 km run with my dog Traffic to raise money for the Caledon Animal Shelter. I set a goal of raising $250 and am currently at 70% of that goal. If you wish to join me and Traffic you can still register until Friday June 8th (you can run or walk) or you can pledge me to help me reach my goal of $250.
Thank you for your support to those who have already pledged me 🙂 This is my little share since I feel I know so much about most of you.
Over the years that I’ve owned and taken of care of other people’s pets I’ve learned a lot of things about safety measures we can take to keep them safe. Some things are quite obvious but to a first time pet owner removing your dog’s collar when in a crate may not seem so obvious, for example.
Pet stores offer a wide variety of products that serve many purposes safety-wise such as reflective leashes and collars, warm coats and boots to keep them safe from the weather and elements including road salt, light up collars and collar tags, muzzles – yes these can be used for their safety and ours, and so on.
Unfortunately I know of someone who was struck by a vehicle while walking on a rural road on a dark night. While I do most of my dog-walking during the daytime hours I found the need to make myself feel safer and more visible while walking some dogs on a rural road. On a foggy day or other weather that has poor visibility I noticed cars passing by didn’t seem to see me as well until the last minute. The dogs have bright-coloured harnesses and leashes so I invested in a reflective and light-up vest that I can wear over any coat or other outerwear. I walk against the traffic so I can make eye contact with the drivers and am able to see if they are paying attention and notice me. If I think a driver has not seen me I can move the dogs and myself further away from the road, which unfortunately means into the ditch, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I will always smile or wave thanks to any car that notices and gives me a bit of a berth if they can. It is just common courtesy I think but am surprised how many cars do not move over even an inch. The same courtesy should be given to anyone walking/running/pulled over or even putting out their garbage!!
reflective & lights up in the dark!
high visibility & reflective in the day light
bright & reflective harnesses & leashes
Putting a collar and identification tag on your pet can help them safely find their way home if ever lost. Microchipping is also a good option, however, if your pet is found wandering the chances of a person having a microchip scanner in their back pocket are pretty slim so I.D. tags work instantly if you have the correct & updated contact information on them. There are also GPS tracking collar tags available now. I don’t know much about these so you should do your research, however, it is a great use of modern technology that can help keep your pets safe!
Our pets are our family so we want to keep them safe and away from any harm. Consider which concerns are most likely to affect your pets’ safety and invest in the tools to keep them safe. For example if you have a dog who tends to run off and wander spending some money on a GPS collar tag might be a great idea to help get them back. If you walk your dog at night any light up or reflective items will make you both more visible. I hate to hear stories of accidents or tragedies concerning pets especially when it could have been preventable. Let’s keep ourselves and our pets safe!
I’ve had a few calls recently requesting ‘boarding’ services which is something I do not offer. I don’t have a facility, therefore, have no where to house any guest dogs. I have my home where my own dogs reside with me. What I offer is called “vacation care” which essentially means your dog(s) stay in your home and I visit them in the comfort of their own home. We will work out a schedule that works for your dog depending on the time of your departure as well as your arrival back home. I will visit 3 or 4 times a day so that visits are spaced out every 6-8 hours depending on your dogs’ needs, for 30 minutes per visit. In the visit time I will walk, play with them, feed and refresh water for your dog – whatever their normal routine is I will try as much as possible to stick to.
What is the benefit to leaving your dog at home and having me visit? There are numerous benefits; the first would be the dog is in the comfort of their own home and do not need to stress about being in a kennel with other dogs barking or in unfamiliar surroundings. In their eyes everything is normal except I’m visiting to feed and let them out instead of you doing it. Your dog doesn’t need to be given any additional vaccinations to stay at home as they do when going to a boarding kennel. If you have other pets at the home such as a cat or small caged animals they will also be cared for on my visits (usually at no extra charge but depends on the work involved). Other small tasks will be done at your home for no extra charge such as mail/newspapers brought in, plants watered, lights alternated so that your home looks lived in while you’re away.
The vacation care I offer may not work for all dogs, however, a lot of dogs do better staying at home. It is especially beneficial for owners who have more than one dog as they are company for each other and boarding multiple dogs can be costly – think boarding costs as well as vaccination costs. Many mature, well-settled dogs do just fine staying at home alone. Dogs it may not suit would be very young dogs who require more attention or dogs who are crated/kennelled in your absence.
I recently took an overnight away and had someone come in to check on my dogs, feed them and let them out – exactly as I would do for your dogs and they were so settled and quiet when I walked in the door two hours ago. Of course they were happy to see me but now are all sleeping at my feet as I write this blog. No anxiety, no stress AND I didn’t have to drive anywhere to pick them up!
Of course you would need to live within my service area for me to offer this type of service as I will be driving to and from your house 6-8 times in a day depending on if you book 3 or 4 visits. Three visits a day would be just like you going to work for a day and then spending an evening out as well, maybe at a class or attending your child’s sporting event, shopping, whatever the case may be and you see your dog in the morning, for dinner and again before bedtime.
I’ve wanted to write about this for a while and keep forgetting until I come across another situation that reminds me of it. I’ve had a few recently so here it is.
I don’t understand why people feel the need to judge others based on their pets’ appearance or behaviour. I was recently walking a dog who was pulling and excited and starting barking at another dog. The lady walking the other dog GLARED at me and made some comment under her breath to the effect of me having a bad dog. While I agree he wasn’t acting like the most appropriate dog on the trail and it was not a display of behaviour that I would accept from my own dog, I don’t know why she felt the need to say anything. She has no idea, first of all, that the dog isn’t even mine; why the dog was behaving that way; and whether or not his owner was doing anything to try to work on his issues. I compare it to a kid acting out in a grocery store – maybe crying because the mom is not buying them candy – well it isn’t anyone else’s business how the mother handles the situation, even if you think the kid is being a brat saying so out loud with a disapproving glare is not going to change anything for the kid, the mother or you. Unless of course the mom is beating the kid, then you should do something about it.
I often have clients apologizing for things like their house being messy, or dog not being groomed, etc. Unless you are mistreating your pets or neglecting them completely, which you are obviously not if you’ve hired a service like myself to walk/feed them, I am not judging you, your pets or your home. I know it’s a natural thing to do….I recently caught myself apologizing at a vet visit for my dog not being perfectly groomed….but I really don’t pay attention to how long your grass is, or how messy your kitchen table is or that you didn’t put toilet paper on the holder (yes, sometimes I need to use your facilities). I will, however, let you know if something could be harmful or uncomfortable to your pet like long nails or matted fur – not to judge you but to be a voice for your pets 🙂
I go into a lot of homes and see a lot of different ways that people live but I am not there to judge you as I would not want you to judge me if you came into my home which of course can be messy, dirty, smelly and hairy at times….I have 3 dogs…of course it’s going to happen!!
I also have rules for my dogs that might seem strict – they are not allowed on the furniture, they must sit and wait for their meals, there will be no rushing out of open doors (they are released one at a time by name), no playing in the house, etc. I have these rules because of the number of dogs I have – it would just be too crowded on the bed or couch with 3 dogs, if they played & wrestled in the house my living room would constantly be a mess. I do not judge others for the rules they have for their pets even if you are more lenient than me. You do what works for you and I do what works for me just like we wouldn’t judge or criticize one another for the way we raise our children. Everyone is different and there is no one way that is more right or wrong than another.
Ah spring is finally upon us! The temperatures are warming up, grass and trees are getting green, and the birds and bugs are out. And that includes ticks.
Ticks have become a bigger concern more recently than they ever were in previous years. Besides the fact that they are gross and bite you and bury their head under your skin to suck your blood (ew!) certain types of ticks called deer ticks carry Lyme disease. Ticks can attach to you or your pets so you need to take precautions to prevent getting bitten. Ticks have specific climate needs (humidity and temperature) which sees them most in the Spring and Fall seasons. Specific information about ticks in Ontario
For your pets you can consult with your veterinarian about using a preventative medication to protect your pets from tick bites. Another good idea is to always check your pets (and yourself) after any walk or hike that might take you close to an area with ticks. Here is a link to help identify areas on your pet that you might find ticks
After a short hike with two of my own dogs last weekend on part of the Bruce Trail in Caledon East I unknowingly brought home a hitchhiker 😦 I was working in the afternoon and felt an itch on my outer thigh that wouldn’t go away. A short while later I checked the site where the itch was and much to my surprise (and dismay!) I found a tick had bitten me and was stuck in my leg! It must have attached to me earlier in the day on my hike and had been making its way up my leg inside my pants all day – how gross is that!?!? I have removed ticks from my pets in the past so knew I had to get the whole thing out including the head and I have sent it to Public Health to be tested.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals, especially dogs. There is just something so special about a creature who pretty much spends their life wanting to please you, wanting your love and attention and in return giving unconditional love. There is nothing the same as the greeting you get from a dog when you get home, even if you were only gone for five minutes. In the event of a natural disaster I would definitely be that person standing on the roof of my house with all my pets refusing to leave them behind.
Saying goodbye to our pets is never easy. In my own life I’ve had to say goodbye to two family dogs, two family cats and one dog of my own. All were a different yet difficult experience. The passing of my own dog was the complete opposite of how I imagined it would go and it was devastating. I was recently invited to be present with someone who was saying goodbye to his dog. I knew the dog well and loved him like my own. I was honoured to be asked to be there with him and his owner. He was a good dog and he lived a good, long, happy life. His owner made the excruciatingly difficult decision to help his dog in his time of need. A medical issue he had all his life, that had been well-managed and taken care of, had surfaced again. Combined with his age and other medical issues the owner considered the dog’s quality of life as the most important thing and made the most compassionate decision we have to make as pet owners. For years the owner knew he would have to make this decision as he never wanted to see his dog suffer. He also knew how he wanted the entire situation to go – at home, peacefully in his own comfy dog bed. And that is how it went. And it was so peaceful. It was a very different experience for me, yet again, and I only hope I can make that decision for my remaining and future pets. I am very fortunate and grateful for the experience and to be included. Thank you.
I know many people who have loved and lost pets and never wanted to experience that feeling of loss again and therefore refused to get another pet. As much as the loss hurts, the love our pets give far outweighs the loss in my eyes and my heart and I cannot imagine my life without any pets in it. When the hurt is lessened by time and healed a little by the good and even the bad memories, hopefully another dog will be able to share a good, long, happy life with you. Now I’m going to find some kleenex and my dogs to snuggle.
Well the holiday season is well under way and as we prepare our homes for family and other guests we must remember to keep things safe for our furry residents as well. The holidays are an exciting time with celebrations galore, breaks from school and work, decorating and gift-giving. Our pets feel that excitement and energy from us, they notice the smells of baked goods, the giant tree (what? there’s a tree in the house!?), the decorations on the tree and the packages under the tree! The excitement can make them curious, make them want to investigate these new things and new smells some of which could be dangerous for them. Here are a few things to keep in mind over the holidays to keep our pets safe in our homes:
holiday ornaments, gift wrapping and tinsel can look like bright, shiny toys to our pets so ensure they are unreachable and up high on the tree or the tree somehow blocked with a baby gate when you can’t supervise your pets near the tree
holiday plants such as lilies, holly, mistletoe and pointsettias can be toxic to pets
alcohol should be supervised and kept away from pets as well as any baked goods containing alcohol
holiday foods such as chocolate, baked goods and fruitcakes with grapes and raisins, sugarless gums and candies containing xylitol can all be toxic to pets
leftovers and table scraps can be fatty and cause pancreatitis as well as the risk of cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal damage
It is a good idea to know when your regular veterinarian is open over the holidays and to have a back up plan for when they are closed. It wouldn’t hurt to find out where your nearest Emergency Vet is and what their hours are, even if you don’t need them for your own pet a family member or guest visiting with their pet might! Another good resource is the Pet Poison Hotline. They can advise you in advance based on what you are able to report to them if your pet should be rushed to an Emergency Vet in the case of an incident. That number is 855-764-7661. There is a fee and you will be given a case reference # to take to the vet if they feel your pet needs immediate veterinary care.
Even once the holidays are over there are a few extra things we need to be careful around with our pets over the remainder of the winter. Some things to remember for winter: keep antifreeze up high and away from where pets can get it, beware of what ice melters/salt you are using, checking vehicles for cats sleeping in the engine space or wheel wells to keep warm, get your dog a coat and/or boots for extreme cold days. Our pets still need to get out and get exercise but in the cases of extreme cold I’m sure they’d be quite happy to potty in the yard and spend some time with you indoors.
The better prepared you are the easier the holidays will be for all! Merry Christmas from me and my fur family to you and yours!
Back in July I was introduced to an app called ResQwalk which I have been using on a daily basis while walking my own dogs as well as all my client’s dogs.
It’s a pretty neat idea that benefits animal rescues and registered animal welfare organizations based on how many kilometers you walk (run or bike, any activity that can be tracked by a GPS). You get to choose the rescue you would like to walk for and can change that as often as you like. I chose to walk for a rescue called Ruff Start New Beginnings which is where I got my dog Widget from.
The way it works is donations from corporate sponsors are given to the ResQwalk group who proportionately distribute those donations each month based on the mileage walked for each rescue. You can set weekly goals and additional prizes and special offers may be given for meeting your goal! It’s like a Fitbit with a purpose! You can follow other walkers, they can follow you, you can post photos and ‘like’ other walkers’ posts and photos.
If you run a rescue you can contact them to have your rescue added. At first I was skeptical but was informed by someone who runs a rescue that is on the app as well as someone who works in a veterinary clinic and has knowledge that some of the corporate sponsors providing the donations are pharmaceutical companies, that the app is legitimate.
So while out walking your dog everyday, or running or cycling, you can be raising funds for your favourite rescue! Not only are my dogs helping me raise funds but yours are too when they are out on walks with Wags & Wiggles! It’s a free download on iOS or Android and the GPS does not use any of your data so you have nothing to lose and the rescues have everything to win from it!