Now that the sole focus of my business is working on animal behavior cases, and I’m no longer providing dog walking services, I’d like to tell you why I believe it’s important for you to hire dog walkers from local, independently-owned businesses that only hire and employ dog walking professionals.
In the last few years, we’ve quickly become accustomed to making all sorts of transactions online or through various apps; we get instant gratification through on-demand TV, food, and transportation, but should hiring a dog walker be one of these transactions? My answer is a definite no.
Here’s why I believe it’s unwise to reduce the care of your dog into a quick and easy transaction:
1. Professional, independently-owned dog walking companies can be held accountable. Most walkers/companies (any one worth hiring) have their own liability insurance. If something happens, there’s no forced mediation or requirement that you sign a non-disclosure agreement, like the ones currently in use by most corporations.
2. Not everyone can be a dog walker. It takes experience and skills to safely walk a dog. Professional dog walkers know how to handle a leash, know the proper type of leash and/or harness and fit for your dog, knows what behaviors to look out for and listen to, and pays attention to surroundings at all times. This means no cell phones while walking dogs.
3. In case of emergency, does your walker-on-demand know how to perform pet first-aid and/or how to perform CPR? Do they have the ability to safely transport your dog? Do they have the appropriate first-aid gear, car restraints, and emergency vet information within reach? Are they authorized to seek treatment from your vet?
4. How well do you know your on-demand walker? How have they been trained? What’s their real-life experience with different breeds of dogs? What’s their temperament like? Do you know how they handle tough or tricky situations? They may be a life-long lover of animals, but do they have the skills to effectively and safely handle your dog?
5. How well does your on-demand walker know your dog? Professional dog walkers build relationships with both the dog and the humans, giving them the ability to recognize when the dog isn’t feeling well, or if something’s off. A pro knows the dog’s health history, triggers and what to watch out for, the dog’s normal exit and re-entry process into the house, the dog’s preferred walking route and what to watch out for on the walk.
Accidents can happen to anyone at any time, professional or part time, but when it comes to the safety and well-being of my dog (and home), I leave it to the pros.
In the past few months I’ve had to buy a ton of new dog supplies for my "little" Izzy Meatloaf (pictured), providing me with an excellent opportunity to share with y’all what I’ve found, what’s great about them, and what’s not-so-hot.*
Kong Cloud Collar: https://www.chewy.com/kong-cloud-collar-dogs-cats-x-large/dp/47475 - This amazing collar is an excellent alternative to the standard Cone of Shame. When Izzy Meatloaf was recently diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumor, we were told she’d have to don the awkward plastic Elizabethan collar for at least two months…a very long time. So I looked online and found the Kong Cloud Collar. It’s basically a blow-up neck pillow for dogs. It’s under $20 bucks, washable, and gives the dog much more freedom of movement and sight. Warning: Izzy was able to rip out some of her stitches post-surgery so we were forced to put the Cone of Shame back on until she had healed further. Also, beware of cactus and other items that can (and did) pop a hole in the pillow.
Kurgo Direct to Seat Belt Tether: https://www.chewy.com/kurgo-direct-to-seat-belt-tether/dp/56752 - This seat belt fits easily in to my car’s seat belt clip, is easy to adjust the length, stylish, but the carabiner clip used at the other end to attach to your dog’s harness is hard to open and close. It doesn’t cost very much, around $13, so it might be worth a try. REMINDER: Just like small children, all pets should be restrained in the back seat, away from airbags.
Nite-Ize LED Collar: https://www.chewy.com/nite-ize-spotlit-led-collar-light-red/dp/101738 - This cool little light is easy to attach to Izzy’s collar, bright and effective, and just plain fun to use at night. It has two settings: solid or flashing light, both of which add a disco-like ambiance to our nightly walk, and they come in a variety of colors, all for under $10. I’m not sure how long the battery lasts but I think they’re replaceable. After two months of use, our Nite-Ize light hasn’t dulled a bit.
FuzzYard Dog Collar: https://fuzzyard.com/us/walking/collar.html - I can’t seem to stop buying these collars! Seriously, I bought one for Izzy Meatloaf, one for my neighbor, and another for…the list just goes on and on. The collars are made in Australia, incredibly cute and fun, and they come in every design and style imaginable. Case in point: donuts. Yep, they sell a collar covered with colorful donuts. I bought mine at The Dog Bakery on Venice Blvd. for only $15 but you can get them at the FuzzYard site for $10. They are lightweight but strong, and once you clip the collar closed it has a locking mechanism that I really like. Note: Make sure to check the threads and seams, as one of the collars I bought had a loose thread (didn’t impact integrity).
If you’ve encountered any pet products lately that you’d like to tell me about please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. I'm very pleased to tell you that all of Izzy's cancer has been successfully removed!
*These reviews are meant to be informational only. I do not receive any benefit from, nor do I have any relationship with, the makers of these pet products.
Our cat Coco loves all things shadow and light. We have fancy cat lures with feathers, and fake mice for her to chase and fling, but they fail to hold her attention long. Coco's main love and focus has always been shadows and light. In the afternoon she’ll spend hours watching the shadows on the wall curve as the sun makes its way across the sky, and at night a single beam of light reflecting from a cell phone on to the wall is enough to peak her interest and stir her in to action.
One day I thought I’d try something new and a bit out of the box: I ordered a small (4" diameter) disco ball and hung it from the ceiling. And guess what? She LOVES it! All it takes is a slight spin of the ball and suddenly the room is filled with sparkling light, a cosmos of stars whirling around the room. Feline heaven!
TIP: In case of grey skies, use a flashlight.
If your cat also loves shadow and light, give this little disco ball a try.
Amazon sells quite a few different varieties. We bought the 4" disco ball by Rhode Island for about $6 at www.amazon.com.
Thinking about adopting a new dog?
Most people know that before you begin the adoption process it's a good idea to learn as much as you can about the type of dog you're interested in, common behaviors associated with the breed, and its temperament and energy level.* But have you ever considered looking in to which type of diseases are more likely to occur with particular breeds?
I like the occasional hike but am definitely not a runner, so the idea of adopting a high-energy Jack Russell Terrier didn't make sense for me. My husband felt the same way; he wanted a dog that he could walk around the neighborhood but would also be content to snooze in his office or out by the pool. Harry (pictured above) was exactly what we were hoping to find: flexible and easy-going, fun-loving, and happy to just hang out.
When we adopted him, Harry was having seizures on a weekly basis, but they were mostly controlled with medications. In spite of his seniority (eight years old) and medical issues, we worked tirelessly with our vet to find the magic cocktail of drugs that would treat his seizures. Eventually, all medications stopped working. It was only when his behavior (and personality) suddenly changed, i.e. circling the dining room table, pressing his head against the wall, and pacing, that he was finally diagnosed with a brain tumor.
After Harry's passing I learned of the Cambridge website and searchable database, and found in it that Boxer's (Harry was half Boxer) are prone to brain tumors. If we had known this earlier would it have changed the outcome? Probably not. Would it have changed Harry's suffering? Perhaps...and this is the part that holds potential to haunt. But I share this site in the hope that it helps to educate you about the potential diseases associated with the breed of dog you bring in to your home and family and, ultimately, how this information may help to keep your loved one healthy and happy for as long as possible.
Learn more about breed-specific diseases and perform your own search of the Cambridge database here:
*Dogs, like humans, are complex creatures with individual personalities; breed norms do not always correspond with your particular member of that breed!
If your cat starts acting out in negative ways by meowing more than usual or at unusual times, begins urinating outside of the litter box, or starts to tear up your furniture or carpet, you may have a feline in need of enrichment.*
For many cat owners, space is a premium, and for those of us in sunny SoCal where coyotes freely roam the streets at night, outdoor exploration is also limited, making it all the more important that we give our feline friends opportunities to stimulate their brains in new and exciting ways.
What's feline enrichment?
Simply put, it's play and stimulation that allows a cat to express its curiosity and natural hunting behaviors.
Pet stores sell puzzles or toys for both dogs and cats, but here’s the good news: You can make your own enrichment activity at almost no cost, and it’s really easy!
To get started, all you need is an empty water bottle, a pair of scissors, and some kibble or treats. Simply cut out one or two small holes in the water bottle, making sure that the holes are just big enough to let the food fall out. Then add the food and screw back on the top. Then place on the floor and let your cats at it. In no time at all they’ll by pushing the bottle around, releasing treats as it rolls.
Did you know that the ASPCA website has a resource library full of training tips and techniques? And did I mention that it’s totally free! Click here to access the ASPCA’s free library: http://aspcapro.org/resource-library.
Best Friends also have some great information about cat enrichment here: http://bestfriends.org/resources/cat-enrichment.
*I strongly recommend that you first visit your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical (physical/physiological) causes for unusual or unwanted behavior.
Good read: "Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon" by Bronwen Dickey. This book is full of great information about the history and current state of affairs for the Pit Bull in America. Reading it I realize that I've inadvertently participated in perpetuating a negative and harmful stereotype of Pit Bulls, one based upon sensationalism and fear, not facts. In her book, Bronwen examines the intersection of Pit Bull ownership, racism and class in America, and how media coverage and inconsistent dog bite data conspire to further demonize the breed. I'm particularly impressed with her observation and acknowledgement of the lack of diversity within the well-meaning animal rescue movement, and what that may ultimately mean for Pit Bulls and other breeds. But as Levar Burton says on Reading Rainbow: "Don't take my word for it!
"Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon" is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pit-Bull-Battle-over-American/dp/0307961761.
New York Times review: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/31/science/review-pit-bull-by-bronwen-dickey.html?_r=0.
Looking for your next dog? Check out LA Animal Services (http://www.laanimalservices.com/adopt/), Angel City Pits (http://www.angelcitypits.org/), or Karma Rescue (http://karmarescue.org/).