October 1 is National Black Dog Day

The timing of National Black Dog Day and my recent trip to Peru could not have come at a better moment as the perfect subject for a new blog entry ūüôā huh you say?

Today is National Black Dog Day where in North America it is a day not only to celebrate our black-coloured (or mostly black-coloured) canines but a day to help promote their adoption in rescues and shelters.  It is well-known that black dogs (and cats) are usually overlooked at shelters by potential adopters.  Do people think black dogs are mean? Or they are just more drawn to lighter-coloured dogs? or multi-coloured dogs that might show more expression in their faces?

I don’t know the real reason but I found it very interesting in Peru, where I was just on vacation, that black dogs are the most respected and loved. ¬†They are believed to play an important role in helping usher the spirits of those who have died to the afterlife. ¬†There is no doubt Peru is a dog-loving country. ¬†Dogs were EVERYWHERE! ¬†Of course, I was in my glory trying to take photos of ALL the dogs! ¬†I quickly noticed these were not street dogs, not starving dogs, not skittish and scared. ¬†These dogs were smart and street-savvy. ¬†They got out of the way of passing cars without panicking or waltzed through an open door to a restaurant or store. ¬†Of course we tried to feed them and that’s when we realized they were not starving for food, they just wanted to be with people. ¬†They have families and many are wearing collars, harnesses or even sweaters/t-shirts. ¬†They wander the streets in the day and I began to notice them later in the day hanging out with their families in front of their homes or as darkness fell scratching and barking at the doors of their homes, asking to be let in for the night. ¬†There were no fights, some played with each other, some just slept in the shade. ¬†It was fascinating to see dogs exist so freely, without rules imposed by humans, and do so calmly and in harmony. ¬†I witnessed amazing exchanges of play and body language between them, I really wish I had captured it on video.

Close to our last day we lined up to use a bank machine and a black dog wandered in, looked at everyone and lay down on the floor. ¬†A local lady was singing to him “negra, negra, negra” which in Spanish means “black”. ¬†He looked at her and wagged his tail. ¬†He was wearing a green collar. ¬†When the lady was done her banking she left and called him “Tino” and he jumped up and followed her along the busy street- no leash attached to that collar. ¬†It was awesome!

Here are some of the dogs I photographed in Peru – all friendly, most in need of a grooming, at least by our standards, but lovely, happy dogs who are not starving, not street dogs and do not need to be saved. ¬†They have loving families and homes ūüôā

Professional pet sitter versus an online app-driven pet sitter

The world has changed in soooo many ways since the introduction of the internet, smart phones and apps. ¬†You can do pretty much anything at the touch of your fingers on a smart phone with an app – book a restaurant, book a taxi/uber, book a vacation, book a pet sitter and so on. ¬†How do you know what you’re booking though? ¬†Well the food you eat, the taxi you ride in and the vacation you enjoy (hopefully) but how do you know who is caring for your pets? ¬†well if they mess things up you may not know until it’s too late, if ever. ¬†There is a growing trend of online apps such as Rover, Care and others that offer online booking of a pet sitter, offering insurance and online payments – what could be easier!? ¬†Unfortunately many of these sites require only the most basic of background checks if any, no experience and no training or first aid/medical training requirements. ¬†That may work out for your pet if there are no issues but even with a young, healthy pet there can be accidents or unforeseen circumstances that you cannot predict and how do you know that person with the limited background check and NO medical/first aid training will even recognize there is an issue or be equipped to deal with the problem. ¬†Do they care enough to spend some extra time or try to get a hold of you or transport the pet to a vet if it’s something beyond their capabilities. ¬†There may be legitimate ‘diamonds in the rough’ who are looking for their start in the pet care business who actually love and care for your pets but the majority are looking to make some extra cash or think the idea of “getting paid to play with dogs” {this is a quote from Rover’s website link ‘become a pet sitter’} is fantastic or are looking for something to do in their ‘spare time’. ¬†What happens when their ‘spare time’ is over and they’ve gone back to work or school and you need someone?

I often see many posts on social media of people offering “pet care” in their spare time or to make some extra cash – PLEASE steer clear of these! ¬†These people are usually not insured and have no training (owning a couple of dogs in their family does NOT qualify as behaviour training or dog knowledge!) and are ill-equipped to deal with emergencies. Please avoid searching for “cheap pet care” they are cheap for a reason! ¬†I live by the motto you get what you pay for. ¬†I cringe when I see an all out post on social media like “looking for someone to care for my pup this weekend – just needs to be let out in yard, fed twice a day and given a little love” WHO does that?! Polls random strangers to see who is available and wants to care for their dog? ¬†I have high standards of who is going to be trusted with my dogs and high standards for my dogs and how they should behave for that care giver.

A professional pet sitter will provide you with references, a contract, a plan for your pet’s care, will have insurance for their business and have some medical/first aid training. ¬†A professional pet sitter will renew and update their training and fill you in on that. ¬†They will do a meet & greet prior to your departure and show a genuine love/interest in your pet and a respect for your expectations for their care as well as your home. ¬†There are horrible stories about Rover pet sitters that I won’t even share with you…just do your homework – talk to your vet for recommendations, ask for references and trust your gut when you meet with someone.

Take me with you

I have always taken my dogs for fun adventures to the pet store to do their shopping and when they were young puppies or rescues that were new to me, to do some training.  It is one place that usually welcome leashed and well-behaved dogs.

As the world evolves and changes I have found there are many more places that are accepting of leashed, well-behaved dogs. ¬†While I don’t believe our dogs need to be with us 24/7 I do think it’s great that I can find a hotel that will allow me to travel with my dogs, patios where I can enjoy a meal and drink with my dog and other establishments that are welcoming of our dogs. ¬†The GO train system has recently launched a pilot project where they are allowing dogs on the trains with certain restrictions. ¬†My dogs are a huge part of my life, they are family members and I often have them with me whether for work, taking them to training/classes/shows/the vet, whatever the case may be. ¬†Many businesses have joined the trend of allowing dogs in their businesses so owners don’t have to leave them in a hot vehicle in the summer. ¬†Again, I don’t think our dogs need to be with us all the time, however, if I’m out with them and need to stop off to run a quick errand or pick something up it’s good to know I can bring them into the store.


Utah, Party, Spy and Traffic pose in the sunflower field at Davis Family Farm.  We were warmly welcomed by the folks at the farm to visit and take pictures.


Jake and Scout on the patio at the Villa Caledon Inn¬†where they were served their own beverage….water, of course!

Post edited to clarify BEFORE taking your dogs with you anywhere you should call ahead and confirm they are allowed and what, if any, the restrictions are.  For example, some hotels only allow dogs under a certain weight, the GO train only allows dogs on the trains between certain times.  If you CANNOT take your dog with you please make the appropriate arrangements so you are not leaving them in a hot vehicle or get upset when you are turned away from the establishment.  If your dogs do accompany you be sure they are well-behaved and not disturbing other guests or patrons of the establishment and not being a nuisance.  And whatever you do please DO NOT follow the unfortunate but recent growing trend of putting a fake service dog vest on your dog just so you can take your dog with you.  Service dogs perform extremely important tasks for their owners/handlers and if their right is ruined by others putting fake vests on badly-behaved, non-trained dogs it would be a big detriment to their safety and lifestyle.