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Rescue Profile: Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas



Dallas has many wonderful rescue organizations devoted to providing companion animals with a second chance at a happy life and a loving home. In 1996, a small group of individuals came together with the goal of doing just that for their beloved breed, the Golden Retriever. In 1997, the Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas was incorporated and took in 7 dogs. Through the support of dedicated volunteers and Golden loving members, GRRNT has been able to assist over 2500 dogs! Michelle, GRRNT’s President, tells us more about the group and the special qualities of the Golden:

PCPSI: Where do the dogs come from that enter your rescue group?

GRRNT: Our Goldens make their way to GRRNT from a variety of places. Shelter employees or Good Samaritans will call us if there is a Golden in a shelter, some are released by their owner for financial reasons, time commitments, illness…etc, and others are found as strays by Good Samaritans.  GRRNT is their second chance at life with a forever family where they will be loved for years to come.

Beautiful Lady Girl is available for adoption (from GRRNT's Facebook)

PCPSI: When a golden retriever enters your rescue group, what process do they undergo before becoming adoptable?

GRRNT: When a Golden enters GRRNT, we have them checked over by one of our dedicated vets.  If the Golden is healthy, s/he will enter into a foster home where we can get to know his or her personality.  While in foster care, fosters families work with their foster dogs on basic commands and house manners.  After approximately 2 weeks, the Golden will attend one of our Meet and Greets where they will hopefully find the perfect forever family.

If the Golden has health concerns, we will work with our vet to create a plan.  We do not adopt out a Golden until the vet gives us an all clear or, in an instance such as allergies or thyroid, a maintenance plan is in place.  Each of our Goldens goes to his or her forever home up-to-date on all shots, spayed/neutered, and with a clean bill of health from the vet.

PCPSI: Tell us more about your permanent fosters.

GRRNT: Occasionally, GRRNT will rescue a golden who our vets deem unadoptable due to their medical condition. Our permanent fosters are typically older Goldens, but we get a few young pups who have a health issue such as cancer or a severe heart murmur. These Goldens remain with their foster families in their loving homes and under the medical care of GRRNT until they cross the rainbow bridge.  Click the name of each Permanent Foster to learn more about them: Daisy, Fozzi-Bear, Preston, Rocky, and Diva.

Permanent Foster Rocky

PCPSI: If you were talking to someone who is learning about golden retrievers for the first time, what traits or characteristics would you use to describe the breed? How are they different from owning other breeds of dog?

GRRNT: Goldens are faithful companions who want nothing more than to please their human, get lots of belly rubs, and take long walks.  Goldens are typically very eager to please their owners. This translates into their being relatively easy to train for obedience.  Most Goldens are wonderful with kids, especially when they have been regularly exposed to well-behaved children. However, they are large and excitable and may easily knock children over if they jump up to lick their faces or propel a toddler along with a solid whack of their tails.

Physically, Goldens are completely mature by 2 years of age. Mentally, well, that depends on the individual, but usually not before 3 years of age! Even though Goldens are physically mature by 2, you may notice changes in them well past that time. Remember, by nature Goldens are fun-loving and happy-go-lucky, so their perceived maturity may be less because of it.

Goldens shed a lot. They have an abundance of coat as well as feathering and they will produce a more or less constant amount of hair in your house. Some of this can be alleviated with regular and thorough brushing, but if you have an aversion to dog hair in your house, a Golden will not be a good choice. On the other hand, many of us believe that the dog-hair problem is more than compensated for by the loyalty and love that a Golden also sheds along with the hair!

From GRRNT's Facebook

Don’t miss GRRNT’s Second Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 13th noon – 3pm at the North Bark Park! There will be more than a dozen eggs with prizes in them, as well as ones with dog treats inside. All proceeds benefit the Goldens! Check out GRRNT’s Facebook page for more details on the Easter Egg Hunt, and to keep up with everything the group is doing for this wonderful breed.

The Benefits of In-Home Pet Sitting versus Boarding



Your Spring Break and summer travel plans are quickly approaching, and we know you have options for your pet’s care. Here are some of the benefits to using a pet sitter rather than a boarding facility when you travel.

  • It’s less stress for you and your pets. We believe your pets are happier and healthier when they remain in their own environment. They are surrounded by familiar smells, sights, and sounds.  Possible aggression from other dogs can be another point of stress. And you will get peace of mind from check in calls, texts, or emails from your sitter to give you updates.
  • There’s reduced exposure to illness. At a kennel your pet is exposed to diseases and parasites that they wouldn’t experience at home. If they are stressed out, their immunity to fight off illness is reduced.
  • Not worried about drop-off and pick-up. You are not inconvenienced or rushed by having to transport your pets before or after your trip. Also, many kennels are closed on Sunday, and you may have to pay for an extra night to pick them up on Monday.
  • Regular visits to your home may be a crime deterrent. Making sure your mail and packages are brought in, lights and or blinds alternated, as well as general daily activity, gives your home a “lived in” appearance.
  • Your pet will be there to greet you upon your arrival home!

Dallas Pets Alive! is changing the way shelter dogs find homes!



Dallas Pets Alive! has finally given us a reason for taking all of those selfie pictures! Their recent “Muttbombing” project Photoshops adoptable dogs into Instagram selfies and has taken social media by storm. We talked with DPA! Vice President Max Morrison about the many ways this organization is working to educate the public on adoption and prevent the euthanasia of companion animals.

Park Cities Pet Sitter: When and how was Dallas Pets Alive! started?

Dallas Pets Alive!: Dallas Pets Alive! began the planning stages back in the summer of 2012 with our first animal pull in September of that same year, so we’re coming up on two years since the very beginning.

As for how, our Executive Director lived in Austin before moving to Dallas. Upon seeing the situation the animals of Dallas were in if they were taken to public shelters, she realized that action was needed. The seed was planted to take the foundation Austin used to turn that city around and create a solution for the DFW metroplex area.

PCPSI: According to your website, you pull animals from Dallas Animal Services. What traits and characteristics are you looking for when you choose an animal? Do you only rescue dogs?

DPA!: Our goal is to prevent the euthanasia of companion animals so traits and characteristics aren’t our priority. Our priority is to identify animals on the euthanasia list and find a way to pull them into the program. We have volunteers who work with Dallas Animals Services to identify those animals and gather as much information about the animal as possible. We then send an email blast to all of our volunteers signed up as fosters and to share them on social media to find them homes. Whether that is through us in foster homes or adoption through DAS, the end goal is to find them deserving, safe homes, where the animal can lives a long, comfortable, happy life.

At the present time, the majority of our work is with dogs because they are the most at risk in Dallas. That being said we do have equipment and volunteers who help with TNR (Trap and Release) programs to assist feral cat colonies. And as we continue to grow, as it says in our mission statement, we want to prevent the killing of all companion animals: dogs, cats, pot belly pigs, rabbits, prairie dogs, and the list goes on.

Longshot Lucy popped up in a selfie taken at the Perot Museum.

PCPSI: When an animal enters your rescue program, what process do they undergo before becoming adoptable?

DPA!: All animals go to the vet once they enter the program so we are aware of any potential health issues in order to remedy them and so the future adopters know as much about the animal’s health as possible before adoption. Everyone also receives all shots/boosters, de-wormer, are spay/neutered, and micro-chipped before being adopted. If any other treatment is needed, like heartworms, parvo, URI, we pay for the treatment until the animal is healthy. We firmly believe the adopters should not be surprised by any health concerns or conditions when they adopt an animal from our program.

Training is also a consideration based on the dog’s behavior in the foster home. Fosters work with the dogs on the basics but if advanced work is beneficial, we can bring in professionals to help the families out.

PCPSI: How did you come up with the Muttbombing idea?

DPA!: The original concept was founded by a marketing agency we’ve been so fortunate to partner with called Dieste. We charged Dieste with helping us create innovative and unique approaches to marketing our dogs and educating the public on the topic of adoption and no-kill. They took our charge to heart and looked to market a rescue organization in a way that has never been done before. Just exactly like our mission states….innovative approaches.

Great ideas have no budget, geography or social limitations. Ultimately the goal was to look for a creative way to reach out to people using non-traditional media and something that could really be part of their culture. So using a social media platform like Instagram and mixing it up with a global trend (selfies) sounded like a good approach. We found a low budget vehicle to drive change. And we did.

PCPSI: Have any big names/famous people responded to your posts?

DPA!: None of the famous people we have muttbombed have responded, but we are still holding out hope! We are confident one day Ethan will be on Jimmy Fallon!

PCPSI: Have you been able to find homes for any pets because of the Muttbombing posts?

DPA!: I don’t know of any specific cases where a Muttbomb has resulted in an adoption but that’s harder to track. The metrics we normally keep an eye on show our traffic is way up, Facebook likes are on the rise, our volunteer applications are up, and we’ve had a lot of exposure from various websites such as Fast Company, Huffington Post, The Times, CBS DFW, and Discovery News, to highlight a few. We’ve had coverage from sources based in 6 continents so far. So if you know anyone in Antarctica, feel free to share the campaign.

And if I may, we just want to send out our sincerest ‘thank you’ to everyone who has taken part so far. It’s been wonderful to see people from all over the world getting involved, even if you think it’s not in a big way. It’s all part of a bigger picture and global shift that needs to occur when it comes to ignoring a problem we’ve created. Everything counts. It all matters. So thank you, from the bottom of our tired hearts. Let’s keep it going.

PCPSI: Your website talks about setting yourself apart from other groups with “innovative and progressive programs”. Muttbombing is clearly an example of your creative techniques. What are some of your other practices?

DPA!: As the public, the biggest thing to recognize is that the problem Dallas animal’s face is complicated and has many layers to which there is no one answer. So our approach as an organization is multi-pronged. We need to tackle each individual issue from an angle that specifically targets the cause and provides a long term solution.

The problems are numerous. We need to change the idea that a dog is disposable. We need to understand that many people who love their dogs do not have access to pet shops or veterinary care in their neighborhoods. Education for pet loss prevention isn’t making it to the people who need it. Regulatory practices for breeding dogs are virtually non-existent and needs to change. There is a lot to deal with and each piece needs a solution based around that specific issue.

Working with Dallas Animal Services to help solve the problem is the biggest thing we can do. Many groups rescue the dogs from the shelter and find them homes, which is absolutely necessary, but that does not address the root of the problem. We want to do both. Some of the things we’re working with DAS on we can’t speak about yet but you will be hearing about it within the next month or two.

We also have additional campaigns we are working on with Dieste that are just around the corner to continue to engage the public in different, meaningful ways. We’ll be using all the tools available to us: Facebook, Twitter, print, events, Vine, and others to accomplish this goal. We look at it as this is the first small step towards something bigger. So be on the lookout for more in the very short future!

Dallas fashion blogger and Bravo celebrity Courtney Kerr isn't safe from Muttbombing!

To view all of the creative and cute Muttbombing photos and to suggest a friend that should be Muttbombed, click here to visit their website. You can also follow Dallas Pets Alive! on Facebook to keep up with the fun.

The Many Ways You Can Volunteer for Rescues and Shelters



Volunteering allows you to spend time with super cute dogs and cats!

Are you interested in giving your time to help animal rescues or shelters? Most people are aware that there are always opportunities to help out with dog handling at adoption events, fostering, transport, and walking or socializing shelter dogs. Depending on your skills or expertise, here are some other ways you can assist:

  • Fundraising
  • Marketing/PR/Graphic Design
  • Web Design
  • Photography/Videography
  • Social Media
  • Writing/Editing
  • Data Entry
  • Bookkeeping
  • Legal Assistance
  • Community Outreach Programs

In most shelters/rescues, you will need to go through general volunteer training. When signing up as a volunteer, let them know that you have an area that you would like to specialize in.

For example, here are some volunteer opportunities Duck Team 6 currently has available:

  • Creating Marketing Videos for Duck Dogs
    We need someone with video editing skills (iMovie, Vimeo, One True Media, or any other software) to create videos of the dogs in our program that need forever or foster homes.
  • Organizing Fundraising Events
    We need a central point of contact who can organize fundraising events and work with volunteers to manage all aspects of the event. This will include securing a venue, entertainment, budgeting, coordinating schedules and volunteers, and anything else related to the event.

Dallas Pets Alive is also currently seeking volunteers in most of the above areas.

Assisting the Animal Community: North Texas Pet Food Pantry



Booth at the Pit Bull Pride event (via NTPFP Facebook)

Cheryl Spencer had been involved in animal rescue and foster work for quite some time. When her house had reached capacity with foster pets, she needed to come up with another way to help the animal community. On April 1, 2011, Spencer founded the North Texas Pet Food Pantry.

North Texas Pet Food Pantry provides pet food assistance to rescue groups and animal shelters that are in need. They also assist individuals who are suffering from a job loss or health problems that have left them unable to temporarily care for their companion animals. Spencer didn’t realize how big of a need there was for this type of assistance.

They recently assisted a boarding facility for rescue dogs where the water pipes froze during last month’s ice storm. The pipes burst, destroying their entire dog food supply. NTPFP rushed 500 pounds of food to the boarding facility in time for the dogs’ dinner! They were able to provide enough food until the facility could clean up and replace their pet food supply.  Spencer and her team also stepped up to help when a rescue group abandoned 300 dogs on a boarding facility that was left with the full expense of feeding and caring for these pups. “We try to keep, at least, 1000 pounds of food on hand for emergencies, but one emergency can wipe us out and leave us short until we can collect more,” says Cheryl Spencer.

Donation from Dog for Dog and Don't Forget To Feed Me (via NTPFP Facebook)

The donations for North Texas Pet Food Pantry come from individuals through pet food drives and drop off locations at pet related businesses. They are always in need of regular dry adult dog/cat food. However, with puppy and kitten season right around the corner, shelter and rescue groups will need puppy/kitten food, puppy pads, toys, and replacement formula to bottle feed abandoned puppies and kittens. If you are interested in contributing a monetary donation to NTPFP, click here for a secure donation link. They will also pick up donations, or you can purchase online from your favorite store and have it delivered to their address.

They plan to obtain 501(c) status this year which would open more doors to them, including to corporate donations.  With growing exposure through events and word of mouth, they expect to double, if not triple, the support they can provide in 2014. And with that growth, comes the need for volunteers to help keep the organization running. Check out the North Texas Pet Food Pantry Facebook page for more information on their open Volunteer Coordinator position, as well as updates on food drives and events.

NTPFP kitty, Apollo, napping with his catnip pillow (via NTPFP Facebook)

Unleashed by Petco Joins the Lakewood Neighborhood



Unleashed by Petco, a new boutique-style pet store, is now open near the corner of Abrams Road and Gaston Ave. We decided to stop in to say hello and sniff out all of the details for our pet loving clients.

When you step inside you realize this isn’t your average big-box pet supply store. Unleashed has a cozy, neighborhood feel. We were immediately greeted by Veronica, the Dog and Cat Manager, who offered to help us find what we were looking for. She explained to us that Unleashed offers individualized service in ways that some of the larger stores aren’t capable of. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, they take the time to show you your options and the differences in your choices. Their educated staff believes that healthier pets make happier people so they promote natural foods and products. You can also find ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ and earth-conscious products, as well as pet fashions and travel gear.

Our favorite feature was the Self-Serve Dog Wash. For only $10 (any size dog), they provide shampoo, conditioner, grooming tools, towels, apron, and blow dryer. Their stations have platforms to accommodate both large and small dogs. The side has a door that opens to allow large dogs to jump in on their own, saving your back from lifting your full size pup. Tethers and break-away leashes keep your dog safe and contained. If you’ve never used one of these dog baths, one of the employees are happy to help get you set up. And the best part? They take care of the clean-up – no worrying about cleaning out the tub or removing hair from the drain.

In addition to providing all of your pet care products, Unleashed is active in promoting animal rescue organizations and holding adoption events. Right now they are having a “Pound for Pounds Challenge” to promote dog weight awareness. Each dog that comes into the store can step on the scale to check his/her weight and help Unleashed reach their weigh-in goal of 5000 pounds. When they reach their goal, they will donate $500 to Apollo Support and Rescue. Not only are you helping a good cause, but you also get to see if Fido needs to make some New Year’s weight loss resolutions.Unleashed by Petco is located at 1911 Abrams Road. Their hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-9pm and Sunday 10am-7pm.

Winterizing Your House and Pets



Although we have had quite a few sunny 70 degree days in Dallas recently, the winter weather has arrived. Cold fronts can quickly and drastically reduce temperatures. Taking these simple precautions can save you a lot of money and trouble when the mercury drops.

  • Have rain and freeze sensors installed on your automatic sprinklers. Watering during a freeze can form sheets of ice on your property and the street, creating extremely dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians.

  • Prepare your pipes for freezing weather. In below freezing temperatures, the water in your pipes can freeze. This frozen water expands and can burst your pipes. To avoid this costly hazard, wrap all exposed pipes outside or in unheated areas of your home. Insulate your outdoor faucets with hard foam covers or cloth. If you’ll be traveling, let your pet sitter know where your water shutoff is located.
  • Keep your dog warm. Although it may look like a fashion statement, there are practical reasons for a coat that keeps your animal warm. Small breeds with a high ratio of body surface to body weight lose body heat more quickly than the larger breeds. And just like you never leave home without your scarf, these snoods from Sirius Republic add an extra dose of warmth for your pups.

  • Protect their paws. The salt and other chemicals that are used to melt the ice can irritate your dog’s paws. Wipe their paws down with a damp washcloth before heading indoors.
  • Soothe their skin. Just like humans, your pet’s skin can become dry and itchy from the cold. Wash problem areas with gentle soap and apply a triple antibiotic ointment. Oatmeal baths are also a common remedy for itchy skin. To soothe a dry, cracked nose, try a healing balm designed specifically for pets, such as Snoutstik.
  • Help feral cats get warm. Feral or stray cats also need protection from the harsh winter weather. Make an inexpensive feral cat shelter out of common household items to keep them warm. Click here for an example.
  • Use ceramic or plastic bowls for outside. If you feed any outdoor animals, do not use metal bowls. When the temperatures are at or below freezing, your pet’s tongue might stick to the metal. Provide a little extra food since keeping warm drains energy and make sure water is unfrozen.

What do you do to keep your home safe and your pets healthy through the winter months? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page!

Shelter Spotlight: East Lake Pet Orphanage



Dallas has many wonderful animal shelters that help provide homes for abandoned animals. However, East Lake Pet Orphanage stands out from the rest.  Established in 1999, ELPO  is a no-kill facility comprised of veterinarians and animal advocates dedicated to rehabilitating orphaned animals, giving them a second chance at finding a permanent home.

The orphans at East Lake Pet Orphanage come from various walks of life. Some are pulled off death row from high kill shelters. Some come from word-of-mouth and networking with other rescue groups. Some are dropped off by their owners in boxes duct-taped shut.  ELPO recently acquired 18 guinea pigs after someone left them at their doorstep in the middle of the night.

Adoptable Wilson (from ELPO's Facebook)

When an animal enters their shelter, they are evaluated by their veterinary staff to ensure the animal is healthy. Once that is established, they receive training using positive reinforcement.  They even use clicker training with the cats to relieve the anxiety that can develop from being confined to a cage while waiting to be adopted. For the more sensitive cats that prefer a dog-free environment, they have the East Lake Cat Care Center. Primarily used for their rescues at this time, this kitty paradise boasts a real wood cat tree and bedrooms that provide a home-like environment.

Adoptable Luna

In addition to dogs, cats, and small furry animals, East Lake Pet Orphanage also takes in injured and orphaned wildlife. They usually take in birds – anything from a hawk to a sparrow. They once took in a turkey found running through Lake Highlands after Thanksgiving. So far this year, they have taken in over 1200 birds! The birds will be triaged to determine their condition, stabilized, fed (including the meat eaters), and re-released with the assistance of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Although ELPO establishes loving relationships with every animal that enters their facility, they ultimately want to see these pets end up in your heart and home. If you are currently looking for a cat, ELPO recently took in 24 cats from death row including Siamese, Calicos, Russian Blues, and many other wonderful breeds.  You can also help these passionate people continue their work with monetary donations and by volunteering your time. Next time you are out shopping, check out Second Chance Treasures in North East Dallas which provides significant revenue for ELPO. You can find appliances, clothing, antiques, and art at this lovely resale shop. They have a warehouse located at 7939 Heinen Dr., where you can donate old appliances, electronics, clothing, household items, and much more (no mattresses or chemicals, please). No donation is considered unworthy; they work to recycle anything from scrap metal and rags, to fine china and beautiful antiques, all to help pets!

From ELPO's recent Pet Fair (from Facebook)

For more information on East Lake Pet Orphanage, visit their website or check out their Facebook to keep up with their events and adoptable animals.

Halloween Tips for Your Pets



Photo Source - reddit

Halloween is always a fun time for kids (nothing beats free candy), but it can be very stressful for our pets. Follow these tips to make sure you and your four-legged friends stay happy and healthy.

  • Keep Halloween candy out of reach. Make sure your pets cannot get to the Halloween candy, especially chocolate which can be toxic to dogs and cats. Tinfoil and cellophane candy wrappers can also be harmful if swallowed.
  • Keep your pets in a safe room during peak trick-or-treating hours. Do not let your pet be the one greeting the trick-or-treaters. A bunch of strangers in costumes might spook your dog or cat. You also do not want them to run out when you open the door. Give your dog a distraction such as a tasty bone or chew toy.
  • Do not force your pet to wear a costume they are unhappy with. Some pets are big hams and love their costumes. But make sure the costume doesn’t restrict your pet’s movement, vision, or hearing as this can make a dog or cat nervous.
  • Keep your pets away from lit pumpkins and candles. Enthusiastic tail-waggers and curious kittens can easily knock over a pumpkin, and cause a fire or get burned.
  • Keep pets inside to avoid harm from pranksters. There are some people that get out of control on Halloween, and that includes harming your animals. Black cats are especially prone to abuse during this holiday, so keep them inside a few days before and after Halloween.

Photo Source - reddit

Happy Halloween from Park Cities Pet Sitter!

Big Fix for Big D: A Coalition for the Reduction of Animal Euthanasia



In the month of August, Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center took in 2,380 animals. That’s an average of 77 animals EVERY day! Their live release rate (adoptions, transfers to rescue groups, and return to owners) was 40.8%, double what it was in August 2 years ago. Despite that good news, 1,408 animals were still euthanized.  This emphasizes the importance of spay and neuter programs such as Big Fix for Big D.

from the BF4BD Facebook page

The Big Fix for Big D initiative is a multi-year effort of four community partners to spay or neuter tens of thousands of pets in Dallas to significantly diminish numbers of unwanted litters, with the ultimate goal of reducing euthanasia at Dallas Animal Services. This ground-breaking initiative is working to curb unchecked breeding, which results in thousands more animals than the system is able to handle. BF4BD offers FREE spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and registration for animals in 8 of the highest-need zip code areas, including 75211, 75212, 75216, 75217, 75224, 75227, 75228, and 75241. A survey of pet owners identified these areas as highest-need. Lack of money, lack of awareness, and lack of access are among the reasons people were neglecting to spay/neuter their pets.

The Big Fix for Big D initiative is funded by the Companion Animal Funders Coalition, led by The Dallas Foundation, which also includes The Meadows Foundation, PetSmart Charities®, The Rees-Jones Foundation, the Summerlee Foundation, and The George and Fay Young Foundation.  In-kind support is also being provided by The Marketing Arm and the City of Dallas.

Park Cities Pet Sitter would like to aid in Big Fix for Big D’s worthy goal of reducing euthanasia in Dallas by 30% in 3 years. That is why we have included BF4BD in our Presents 4 Pets donation drive. We are asking our friends and clients to contribute much needed items such as: monetary donations, collars, leashes, flat pet beds, e-collars, pet carriers, hand sanitizer, towels, and blankets. All of these items will be help the BF4BD partners (the City of Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center (DAS), Spay Neuter Network (formerly Kaufman County Animal Awareness Project, KCAAP), Metroplex Animal Coalition (MAC), and SPCA of Texas) spay and neuter more pets.

from the BF4BD Facebook page

People who reside in these zip codes can find more information by visiting www.BigFixforBigD.com, and make appointments by calling 214-DBIGFIX (214-324-4349). Caretakers of feral/free-roaming cats should contact 214-814-0161, or email pam.asturias@spayneuternet.org for assistance.

Rescue Profile: Humane Society of Dallas County



The Humane Society of Dallas County operates Dallas’ first and ONLY no-kill animal shelter – Dog & Kitty City, established in 1987. They are a true no-kill facility, taking in animals of all ages, with or without health issues. They provide them shelter, food, medical care, and love until they can find an adoptive home.

Adoptable Danielle

As a true sanctuary, they house many cats that will live their entire lives in the shelter because they are considered not adoptable, due to serious medical issues or because they are extremely feral. They are also one of the few shelters that take in cats with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Sadly, the FeLV cats are rarely adopted, but still receive care from this compassionate organization.

HSDC recently gained ownership of the building out of which Dog & Kitty City operates. The Manor Way building is rather old, so they are planning major renovations, starting with the dog runs in the next few months. Supplies and donations are always welcome as the shelter does not receive any tax support – they rely solely on donations from the community.

Adoptable Toby

That is why we at Park Cities Pet Sitter decided to make the Humane Society of Dallas County one of the recipients of our Presents 4 Pets money and supply collection drive.  We would like to help make it easier for them to provide shelter, love, and medical care for all of their animals until they find a loving home. If you would like help us give back to the shelter community, click here for information on what items are needed and how to donate. We will be collecting donations from now until November 1st. Thank you for your support!

Thanks For Making Us The Best In Dallas



We are still glowing with happiness since we were named Best Pet Sitting by Dallas A-List voters. All of our sitters work so hard every day of the year to provide the best pet care to our clients, and it is wonderful to receive this validation from you. We are so grateful for everyone who voted for us.

Here is what sets us apart:

  • Our Team. We have a passionate team of pet care professionals who strive to make all of our two- and four-legged clients happy. Every sitter knows that with one phone call, they can get advice or an extra pair of hands immediately!
  • Our Knowledge. Our sitters are fully trained by us, following our guidelines, policies and procedures developed over 21 years of experience. We also invest in the education and ongoing training of our pet sitters. The majority of our staff is Pet First Aid & CPR certified to give our clients the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, their pets are safe in our hands.
  • Our Compassion. We simply love animals – your animals, our animals, all animals. PCPSI works closely with our local and national pet community, such as the Presents 4 Pets collection drive. This year we are gathering food, supplies, and money for two deserving organizations: Dallas County Humane Society and Big Fix for Big D.

Winning these awards continues to motivate us to provide the best possible service to our clients. Everyone loves to be recognized when they do a great job, and we are proud to say that our pet sitters have been providing great service for many, many years. We continue to reinforce the importance of providing consistently superior service, and winning awards like the “Dallas A-List” award is a wonderful tribute to the hard work our sitters put in on a daily basis.

Keeping Your Cat Cool This Summer



The dog days of summer can be taxing on everyone, including your feline friends. Heat stroke is a serious concern, especially for overweight and senior kitties. Here are our tips for keeping your kitty cool despite the heat:

Create a shady retreat. Give your cat a place to retreat to that is quiet and out of the sun. Try sticking a frozen water bottle or package of frozen peas under a towel to provide the ultimate cooling effect.

Brush your cat daily. This is crucial for long haired breeds. Daily brushing will help with shedding and will prevent matted fur, which can be a serious heat trap.

Give your cat access to the cooler parts of your home. Cats are geniuses when it comes to comfort. That’s why they seek refuge from the heat in places like the sink where the porcelain stays cool. Rooms with tiled floors such as bathrooms and kitchens are also a good option.

Keep your cat hydrated. This is true for all times of year but especially important during hot weather. If you have an outdoor cat, switch to ceramic bowls that do not trap heat like metal ones do. Experiment with adding ice cubes to your kitty’s water to keep it cooler longer.

Make refreshing catcicles. Mix your cat’s favorite wet food with a pinch of catnip and freeze. Petfinder has an awesome step-by-step guide for making these delicious treats.

How do you and your cats beat the summer heat? Share your tips with us on our Facebook page!

Rescue Profile: Angie’s Friends



Every day, Angie Manriquez ventures into the most economically depressed areas of our city – places most people like to forget even exist. Affectionately named “The Fairy Dogmother of Dallas”, Angie delivers food, water, and care to the neglected and chained animals that no one else looks after. And since 1999, she has been doing all of this on a meager Social Security income.

She replaces heavy chains with lightweight tethers to prevent spine deformations. She crawls under abandoned, dilapidated houses to rescue mother dogs and their puppies. She ensures dogs with ill-fitting collars that have cut into their flesh and other injuries get medical treatment. She even takes dogs to the free spay/neuter clinics weekly to curb the cycle of forgotten animals.

In an effort to aid this selfless woman’s efforts, a group of supporters and longtime friends formed Angie’s Friends. This non-profit organization provides the financial support to help Angie continue her animal welfare work. All monetary donations go directly to buying food and medicine for the neediest animals in Dallas. A $5 donation will feed a dog for a week. To contribute to Angie’s Friends, check out their website for a secure link.

Angie’s Friends also has dogs that are available for adoption. These three cuties are looking for their forever home:

Meet Blade: Blade is an 8 week old American Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is about the sweetest thing on the planet. He’s curious, playful, and already a devoted pup that follows people around. He will be a fairly large dog and it’s estimated he will grow to about 65 lbs. Blade was going to be euthanized by his breeders because they could not sell him with the burn on his back, but Angie saved him! Blade is neutered and vaccinated.

Meet Osa: She is a 2 year old Besinji mix. Osa is a super fun, affectionate, and playful dog. She’s the perfect size at 25 lbs, she can keep up for a good walk or jog, but is small enough to cuddle up in your lap. Osa’s got a really easy-going personality that does well with other dogs and she LOVES kids. She’s housebroken and will be an excellent family pet. Osa is spayed and vaccinated.

Meet Tigger Tigger: This little guy (roughly 10 lbs) is sweet as pie and is a total clown, in addition to being a real lover. He’s guaranteed to make you laugh. Tigger Tigger is a 2-year old Portuguese Podengo Hound Dog and is extremely social – he gets along with everybody. He does great with kids and can run and play with the best of them. He is a great little guy that would love to get a family of his own. Tigger Tigger is neutered and vaccinated.

For more information about these and other dogs, please visit angiesfriends.org or check out their Facebook page.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat



As pet care professionals, we are very aware of how dangerous the rising Texas temperatures can be for both people and pets. Here are our tips for keeping cool and content during the summer heat:

  • Take your walks in the early morning or late evening hours. If you can’t avoid being outside with your pets during the heat of the day, make your walks short. If you have a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), be extra careful as they are the most likely candidate for heat stroke. Also be mindful of the temperature of the concrete; if you wouldn’t go barefoot, than it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Keep hydrated. Make sure you and your pet are taking in lots of water. If you are going on a trip to the park or beach, bring along a collapsible water bowl.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Time is of the essence in treating heat stroke, so recognizing the symptoms is very important. These include: excessive panting or drooling, dark or bright red tongue and gums, sticky or dry tongue and gums, staggering, and stupor. If you think your pet may be over heating, you need to cool them down quickly. You can do this by hosing them down with cool water, or putting them in a bathtub filled with cool water.
  • Try indoor activities to provide your pet with mental and physical stimulation. Try teaching your dog a new trick. Or play hide-and-seek by having your pup practice his/her stay command while you “hide” their treat in another room (on a chair, in a corner, under the table). And if you and your dog are experiencing cabin fever and must get out of the house, head to a neighbor or friend’s place for a play date.

As Texans, we must be creative about getting our exercise while still being safe on these 100+ degree days. What ways do you and your pet beat the heat? Share your tips and tricks with us on our Facebook page!

Lurleen the Cat Nurses Orphaned Pit Bull Puppy



 

Something pretty special happened at the Cleveland Animal Protective League. When a day old pit bull puppy, Noland, was dropped off at the shelter, his odds of survival were not good. Momma cat Lurleen was already nursing four newborns of her own and that’s when the team at APL decided to get creative. They introduced the puppy to Lurleen, and to everyone’s surprise, she instantly accepted Noland as her own. According to the APL’s Facebook page, “Lurlene, her kittens, and Noland are all doing well! One of Noland’s eyes opened today!”

This isn’t the first time an animal has adopted a baby of other species. Check out these great stories of awesome animal step-moms: 5 Mama Animals Adopt Babies of Different Species.

Rescue Profile: Duck Team 6



In certain parts of Dallas, there are packs of homeless dogs roaming the streets. They can be scared, sometimes injured, and elusive, often seeking shelter in abandoned homes. Duck Team 6 is a group of brave, animal loving friends with the patience and experience to rescue these street dogs.

Tracking and capturing these stranger-wary strays is rarely easy, and typically takes them into dirty, flea-ridden areas that would send most people running in the opposite direction. In spite of the horrendous conditions they face, this team has saved more than 350 dogs in the Dallas area. They are funded mostly by donations which help to pay for veterinary care, equipment, and other expenses.

Adoptable Ivy (from DT6's Facebook page)

If you are interested in helping this amazing rescue group, they are always in need of foster homes. Having dogs in homes, instead of boarding facilities, is crucial for them to receive medical treatment. It also helps to socialize these canines, which makes for a much smoother transition into their forever home. If you are interested in fostering, you can find more information and the foster application on their website at duckteam6.org. And while you are at their website, read the hilarious story of how Duck Team 6 got their funny name.

Adoptable Libby (from DT6's Facebook page)

If fostering is not the best option for you, monetary donations are always welcome, and crucial to keeping this organization alive. Right now, they are holding a 30-Day Match Challenge fundraiser, the Semper Woof Challenge. A very generous supporter of DT6 has agreed to match all donations, up to $15,000, through July 17! Visit their Facebook page or website to use the Special Razoo donation link to contribute so your donation will be matched. And don’t forget to share this with your Facebook friends to help DT6 reach their $15,000 goal!

Thanks Duck Team 6 for everything you do for the homeless dogs of Dallas!

Adoptable Mr. Wilson (from DT6's Facebook page)

Product Review: StarMark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball



In between visits from their favorite pet sitter, dogs tend to get very bored during the day. This boredom quite often is displayed through destructive behavior – as we’ve all seen in the “dog shaming” pictures flooding the internet. Food dispensing dog toys help keep your dog occupied, which can reduce anxiety, and possible bad behavior. So, we got our very own Swami Stubbs to try out StarMark’s Treat Dispensing Chew Ball.

Photo Source: Amazon.com

We used kibble to fill the ball because the small pieces were easier to insert. This was Swami’s “breakfast” serving, so he was hungry, and had motivation to work on getting the food out. Once the ball was about half way full, we put it on the floor and let the fun begin.

It didn’t take long for Swami to learn to push the ball around with his nose, and as it rolled, it would toss out 2-3 bits of kibble at a time. We liked that it didn’t dump the kibble quickly, and the ball kept him busy for almost an hour. According to the StarMark website, you can cut the plastic pieces around the opening to make it easier for the dog, or to accommodate larger treats inside.

Exhausted, but still watching ball in case another treat pops out!

The Treat Dispensing Chew Ball claims to be made of “Virtually Indestructible Material”. It is definitely tough, and has held up well. However, Swami is known to be a toy destroyer, so we remove the ball once the kibble is all gone.

Have you tried an interactive dog toy before? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook page!

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month



Ask any cat owner and they will be happy to tell you how their feline friend has enriched their lives (and probably have tons of adorable pictures to back it up). But there are still so many cats and kittens that are waiting in shelters for good homes.

While the cute and cuddly kittens get most of the attention, there are great perks to adopting a senior cat.

  • What you see is what you get. With a senior cat, there are no surprises about how big they will get, or what color their coat will be. And, their temperament is unlikely to change from when you met them in the shelter.
  • Less Maintenance. With a mature pet, you have already bypassed the time-consuming, and sometimes destructive phase of raising a kitten. Most adult cats come already litter-box trained, and many have very good manners.
  • They’re perfect for families with young children or seniors. An older cat is far less high-strung than a kitten, making them more of a cuddle-buddy, instead a chaos-creator.
  • A great value. Adult cats are more likely to have already been spayed, neutered, microchipped, and fully vaccinated.
  • They’re grateful. Senior pets somehow seem to know that you gave them a chance when everyone else turned away. Many people feel this makes them more appreciative and loving, which results in a very strong bond between the pet and owner.

If this is your first cat, the ASPCA has helpful information on how to prepare your house, including the supplies you’ll want on hand, as well as tips for making the adjustment as smooth as possible for everyone involved. And if you already have a cat, you should read their guide on introducing your cat to a new feline member of the family.

In honor of June being Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, many of the shelters and rescue groups are offering discounts this month. Operation Kindness is celebrating with a $25 discount on the adoption fee of any cat or kitten. Dallas Animal Services has reduced the adoption fees for cats 6 months or older to just $5, but it’s only for a limited time.

Is your cat adopted? Share your adoption stories with us on our Facebook page!

Famous Pets: Stubbs, The Mayor Cat



Photo Source: CNN.com

“He doesn’t raise our taxes — we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest.” Most mayors would love to hear those words spoken about them, except this mayor is a cat.

One day back in 1997, outside of Nagley’s General Store in Talkeetna, Alaska, someone brought a box full of kittens that they hoped to find homes for. The store manager, Lauri Stec, chose the one kitten without a tail and named him Stubbs.

A few months later during the town’s mayoral elections, residents were not happy with any of the human candidates, and decided to vote for Stubbs as a write in candidate. He won and has been mayor ever since!

Photo Source: consciouscat.net

Nagley’s General Store now doubles as his mayoral office. “All throughout the day I have to take care of the mayor. He’s very demanding,” Nagley’s employee Skye Farrar told CNN. “He meowed and meowed and meowed and demanded to be picked up and put on the counter. And he demanded to be taken away from the tourists. Then he had his long, afternoon nap.” Stubbs even requires his mid-day drink and catnip to be served in a wine glass.

Although he is regularly guilty of sleeping on the job, the majority of the 900 residents are happy with their elected leader. “His biggest political rivals would be other local businesses that would hate that he comes over and takes a nap and leaves fur everywhere. They aren’t big fans of him,” Farrar told CNN. “We usually say, ‘You have to deal with it. He runs the town.’”

Our Favorite Places to Walk our Dogs in Dallas



We love the brief time in Dallas when the weather is just perfect! The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom, and the patios are full of happy people. We always try to take advantage by leashing up our dogs, and exploring our favorite spots!

“I have a client in a high-rise on Turtle Creek. Sometimes, I walk their dog across Turtle Creek, and on to the property of the Kalita Humphreys Theater. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.” says Linda, a PCPSI sitter who services the Uptown/Oak Lawn area. “It is a beautiful, historic building nestled in the trees above the creek, and has nice grounds to walk during times the theater is closed.” This Dallas landmark is one of only three theaters designed by the American architect, as well as one of his last completed projects.

Photo Source: D Magazine

With all of the new developments, Downtown Dallas is really becoming an attractive place to hang out. Take a stroll down Flora St, through the Arts District, and enjoy the buildings that not only house our outstanding organizations, but are also works of art themselves. The photo opportunities are tremendous as you have your dog practice his sit-stay in front of the unique architecture and public sculptures. Make your way over to the Klyde Warren Park to let your dog romp with his fellow furry friends at the new off leash area, My Best Friend’s Park.

If the hustle and bustle of downtown is a bit too much for you and your pooch, White Rock Lake offers a more tranquil setting. PCPSI pet care pro Diana  really enjoys this iconic Dallas location. “I walk one of my client’s dogs at White Rock near Doctor’s Hospital, just off of Poppy Drive. There’s everything you could want there – walking trails, a big open field, beautiful scenery, wildlife, and a bench to sit on.” But don’t forget to leave nothing behind except paw prints. If we make sure to bag our dog waste, we can curb the negative feelings people have about sharing their space with our canine companions.

Photo Source: Friendsofsantafetrail.org

So let’s get out there and start exploring this amazing city that we call home! Do you have a wonderful trail or park that you and your dog love to visit? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

How To Ease Your Dog’s Worries During Thunderstorms



Source: Dallas Morning News

Last night in Dallas, we had some dazzling thunderstorms — I’m a fan. As humans, we’re well aware that the odds of a thunderstorm causing us harm are slim. Some dogs don’t mind thunderstorms. On the other hand, dogs might display some anxious behavior, and others may just totally fall apart. First, imagine the sound of thunder the way you hear it, and then crank it up. Not only are dogs ears more sensitive, some can even detect what we cannot on the sound spectrum. The vibrations from a thunderstorm and changes in the atmosphere most certainly affect animals differently.

What can you do if your dog is one of many who suffer during severe weather? There are several steps you can take. Thundershirts are becoming increasingly popular to help soothe your dog through the storm. There are more details about how these work at their website, and they say that 80% of dogs improve with the use of this special garment that applies pressure to their body. The methodology behind this explains that the pressure from the Thundershirt has a calming effect on your dog’s nervous system. Other methods include holisitc remedies, like DAP (dog-appeasing pheremone) collars and herbal supplements. Many owners’ last-ditch effort to help their dogs suffer less during a storm require a veterinarian’s prescription.

From Thundershirt

One tried and true method used by behaviorists involves a method called desensitization and counter-conditioning. This can be tricky and possibly damaging if not done correctly, but the basics of this method are easy to understand. Your dog associates the sound of thunder with the fear. Your goal here is to gradually — and carefully — reduce your dog’s fear of something we can control. A recording of thunderstorms (or any other loud noises, like fireworks) can be played at almost inaudible levels to start. While the sounds play, that’s where counter-conditioning comes in. Play a game with your dog, reward your dog for performing tricks, and keep him or her occupied and happy. If at any time you notice signs of anxiety due to the recorded thunder, stop it immediately — you are trying to prevent stress, not cause it. If your dog seems happy, continue the play and relaxation for about 10 minutes, break for about 5, and gradually increase. This is not a fast process, but over time with enough care and consistency, you can help rid your dog of the anxiety and stress from the loud noises.

If your dog has this problem and you could use some help, contact us. We can set up a private session to work on helping you and your dog live a happier life together! Also, share your tricks on how you calm your dog during a thunderstorm on our Facebook.

William R. Nadeau, ABCDT is the Staff Dog Trainer and Operations Assistant with Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc., the #1 pet care company in Dallas, Texas. Will has worked with dogs and other animals for over four years, both within the pet care industry and in rescue/shelter environments. As a certified dog trainer, he primarily provides in-home private dog training services, focusing on improving the relationship between pets and their owners using a positive reinforcement-based “whole picture” approach. He also provides adoption consultation with a history of several successful placements.

Tips on Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family



Choosing a pet is something that requires a lot of thought and consideration before the decision is final; one must look at this decision as a lifetime commitment (for the lifetime of the pet) - you're taking a life into your home and will be responsible for their well-being, and you must also consider the overall well-being of your family!

The first step in this decision is coming to a consensus on each member of the family's preference as to which type of pet - big dog, small dog, a particular breed? A cat? Maybe start with a hamster? It's important that everyone agrees as to avoid fostering resentment!

Another major factor in deciding on a pet is to determine your family's schedule and level of activity. Are you constantly on the go? Do you have frequent houseguests? Are you homebodies? Does someone stay home all day? An answer to any of these questions can give you vital clues. A puppy isn't going to be a great addition to a family that doesn't have the enormous amount of time and consistency needed to raise it. A cat may not be very happy in a home with frequent visitors, or may even be prone to escaping. A big, energetic dog wouldn't be ideal for a family with small children or elderly visitors. Of course, there are always management strategies you could consider implementing if your family life doesn't perfectly lend itself to the type of pet you want.

Your willingness to learn is of utmost importance - and your ability to teach your children is imperative. Animals aren't people, or toys for that matter. Learning proper animal handling techniques and passing them on to your kids is not only good for your pet, but essential in preventing dangerous accidents and injuries. Learning how to effectively train your pet to avoid, manage, and correct behavior issues is also something to give a lot of time and thought.

Budgeting for a pet is also crucial; all too often, family pets are abandoned at shelters with the reason of "can't afford it anymore" attached. Not only are you to provide basic needs like food, toys, and equipment, but you also have to keep in mind veterinary bills for regular checkups and emergencies. Pet insurance is available - is it right for you? Also, for the time your busy family is away at school, work, or on vacation, you should consider hiring a reputable pet sitter to care for your pets. Not only do they take care of the basic needs, but they are great at exercising your pets and spoiling them rotten with attention!

If you already have pets, it is a good idea to do some research as to how to introduce a new family member. With dogs, it's important for the current dog and existing dog to meet on neutral ground to avoid any territorial disputes; many shelters have meet and greet rooms where this is possible when you are choosing a new dog. Watch your dog's body language, as well as the new puppy. Are they wagging tails? Greeting appropriately? Inviting play? Is your current dog growling, showing teeth, licking lips, or yawning? Knowing how to recognize these warning signs can help you determine if the new dog is a good match.

Last but not least, it may be a good idea to find a local expert such as a dog trainer, cat rescue group, or another animal professional to help guide you in your decision. Some provide adoption consultation to ensure your family makes the right decisions early on and makes the period of adjustment easier on your new pet. It's not out of the ordinary to ask a dog trainer if they are good with kids; they can often provide that outside voice of reason!

 

William R. Nadeau, ABCDT is the Staff Dog Trainer and Operations Assistant with Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc., the #1 pet care company in Dallas, Texas. Will has worked with dogs and other animals for over four years, both within the pet care industry and in rescue/shelter environments. As a certified dog trainer, he primarily provides in-home private dog training services, focusing on improving the relationship between pets and their owners using a positive reinforcement-based “whole picture” approach. He also provides adoption consultation with a history of several successful placements.

 

Spring Safety Tips for Pets



Spring is here! We know your dogs are just as excited as we are to get outside and shake off that winter coat. But before you let your pets outside to roll in the fresh green grass, make sure you have doggie-proofed your outdoor space.

With the warmer weather and sunshine, come the April showers and BUGS! Mosquitoes can carry the larvae that cause heartworm disease, a very costly and potentially fatal illness. Along with your dog’s monthly heartworm prevention medication, keep your yard clean and trimmed to prevent it from becoming a bug haven. Make sure your planters, kids toys, and lawn furniture are not holding standing water, which is the ideal breeding ground for those pesky little biters. And don’t forget to regularly remove your dog’s waste, as that tends to attract another disease carrier: flies. If picking up dog poo is not your idea of a fun afternoon, Dallas has plenty of companies that will be happy to take care of this necessary task for you. Springtime is also a time for sprucing up the garden. Although fertilizers make our lawns pretty and green, they can be very toxic to animals, including the natural or organic ones. Blood meal, bone meal, and fish meal can smell very appealing to dogs, but if ingested can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and gastrointestinal blockage. To be safe, go for a veggie-based fertilizer, such as one that uses cornmeal or alfalfa. When selecting a mulch, choose small cedar chips that will not irritate or cut your pet’s feet if they accidentally follow a squirrel into the flower bed. Also, avoid cocoa mulch because it is just as appetizing and equally as dangerous!

Your garden may smell like a treat buffet to your dog, so be mindful of the flowers you choose to plant. Azalea, chrysanthemum, daffodil, rhododendron, sago palm, tulips, and hydrangeas are all toxic to pets. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of what plants to avoid.

What is your spring cleaning ritual? Share your tips on keeping Fido happy and healthy with us on our Facebook!

 

Being Prepared for Injuries or Illness



Pet First Aid

April kicks off Pet First Aid Awareness month. Although we do our best as pet parents to prevent accidents, injuries and illnesses can happen and knowing the right steps to take can save your pet’s life.

Having a well assembled first aid kit for your pet is a must. If a medical emergency arises, you want to have all of the necessary tools in one place. Make sure to include phone numbers for your veterinarian and nearest emergency veterinary clinic (and directions!), as well as a  poison-control center or hotline (like the Pet Poison Hotline at 800-213-6680). For a complete list of what to include in your pet first aid kit, use this checklist. You will also want to become familiar with how and when to use the items in your kit. This guide from the American Veterinary Medical Association outlines the basic procedures for what to do if your pet stops breathing and other scary situations.

As professional pet sitters, we know how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected. Earlier this year, our sitters took the PetTech Pet First Aid & CPR Certification class taught by master instructor Arden Moore. During this 6 hour course, we learned the proper way to restrain and muzzle a cat or dog, what to do if your pet is choking, and how to make a splint using whatever tools are available. Also discussed was care for heatstroke, bleeding, frostbite, poisoning, seizures, and shock. Even if you don’t work in the pet services industry, knowing what to do when a pet emergency happens is a great investment in the safety and well-being of your four-legged family.

Have you ever had an emergency with your pet? And what’s in your pet first aid kit? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

How to Have a Healthy Outdoor Cat



With the weather getting warmer and Springtime just around the corner, people and animals alike cannot wait to get outside! While Fido gets to frolic at the dog park, your cat may also be craving the stimulation of the great outdoors. If you are aware of the dangers outside life poses and take necessary precautions, you can have a happy and healthy outdoor cat.

There are many risks outside for cats that can sometimes be hard to anticipate. Some of the biggest dangers are fights with other animals, cars, and poisons such as antifreeze, bleach, fertilizers, herbicides, as well as insect and rodent bait. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to herpes, rabies, and heartworms. They’re also at risk for fatal infections like feline leukemia. Plan ahead before letting your feline friend head outside:

  • Collar your cat. Always put a collar on your cat and attach ID tags. This helps others know your pet has a home and makes it easy for them to contact you. Be sure kitty’s collar has a “break away” feature. If your cat gets caught on a fence or branch, this type of collar snaps open.
  • Microchip your pet. This permanent form of identification ensures that someone who finds your kitty can quickly return her. A vet checks for the ID embedded in your cat’s neck and scans it for your address.
  • Keep vaccinations up-to-date. Discuss with your vet which vaccines are most helpful for your outdoor cat’s health and how often she needs them. Follow through to protect your cat from diseases and infections.
  • Medicate for fleas and ticks. All it takes is one flea to start your kitty biting and scratching, so apply flea medicine before taking your cat outdoors.

The great outdoors is a good way for your cat to get some exercise and release stress. In fact, cats that go outside have fewer health and behavior problems, Marla J. McGeorge, DVM says. But if you aren’t ready to let your kitty roam freely, there are many ways to enrich the lives of indoor cats by offering them safe experiences outside. With a little time and patience, leash training is one way to let your kitty get outside. Remember to use a harness when leash training since cats can escape from simple collars when they’re spooked. For more tips on how to leash train your cat, check out this great article.

Another option is to provide a secure enclosure connected to your house or in your yard. Ranging from humble to humongous, these kitty containers can be furnished with old tree stumps and perches for climbing and scratching opportunities; tarps to provide shade and protection from the elements; even enclosed ladders for safe access to and from the house. If your home doesn’t have a backyard, try installing indoor window boxes or perches to let your cat enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

How do you keep your outdoor kitties healthy? And if your cat stays indoors, what tips and tricks do you have to let them enjoy these sunny, warm days? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

Health information provided by: http://pets.webmd.com/features/outdoor-cat-risks

February is Pet Dental Health Month



Does your pet’s breath send you running in the opposite direction? Don’t ignore bad breath in your cats and dogs as that can signify much more serious health risks. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, proper dental care can detect dental disease that not only affects the mouth, but can also lead to more serious health problems such as heart, lung, and kidney disease. And yet, it is one of the most overlooked areas in pet health.

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it’s completely preventable. Problems begin when plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth and transforms into a brownish substance, known as tartar. When this moves under the gum line, red, puffy gums develop, called gingivitis. Left untreated, this progresses into periodontal disease, causing the gums to recede and lose their function. This can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Along with annual dental exams at your veterinarians office, there are things you can do at home to keep your pet’s pearly whites clean. Dr. Sheldon Rubin of the American Veterinary Medical Association gives easy, step-by-step instructions on how to teach a dog or cat to accept a daily tooth brushing. With patience and practice, this daily ritual can become a source of bonding for you and your pet.

In addition to daily brushing, there are a wide range of treats and toys that help to reduce plaque and tartar. Dogs that chew actively generally have less plaque build-up. From chewy treats in toothbrush shapes, such as Greenies, to rope toys that floss your dog’s teeth. There are even all natural rinses and spray that help to clean teeth and freshen breath.Do you have any tips or tricks on how you keep your dog or cat’s teeth shiny and healthy? Share them with us on our Facebook page!

Health information provided by American Veterinary Medical Assoc. and Animal Planet Pets 101:Health.

January is National Train Your Dog Month



January is the time for New Years Resolutions which usually involve improving yourself and your relationships. So why not commit to enriching your canine partnership through training? Obedience training is critical when it comes to nurturing a healthy human-animal relationship and creating a socially compatible pet.

The benefits of having a trained dog are endless!  Regardless of the age that you start working with your dog, training provides dogs with the basic good manners we all want—from polite greeting when guests arrive, to walking nicely on the leash, to coming when called. Here are just a few reasons why you should start training your dog today:

  • Training enables you to choose from among a broad range of activities and dog sports to participate in and enjoy with your dog such as dog agility, Rally-obedience, dancing with your dog, tracking, search & rescue, skijoring, sledding, water rescue trials, obedience, carting, reading programs, therapy work, and a nearly endless range of fun and philanthropic things to do!
  • Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her “forever” home.
  • Training builds your mutual bond, enhances the partnership and enriches the relationship you share with your dog. Is there anything better?
  • Having a trained dog is a joy for both you and your dog!

To jump start your training, Park Cities Pet Sitter is hosting an entertaining and informative event with renowned animal behavior expert, Arden Moore! During the Dog and Cat Behavior Talk on January 26th, Arden will be teaching you how to read cat and dog body language, how to handle dog and cat “behavior” problems, how to manage overly excited dogs, mixing a new cat or dog with current pets, and many other extremely useful tidbits to enhance your relationship with your pets. For more details or to register for this exciting event, please visit our Events Page. Don’t miss this chance to learn what every pet owner should know!

Benefits courtesy of http://www.trainyourdogmonth.com/tips/benefits.aspx

What is Leash Frustration?



Scott Sheaffer, ABCDT ©2012
Trainer for Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc.

Is your dog Mr. Wonderful off-leash and a handful when on-leash? This seems counterintuitive. When your dog is connected to you by a leash, you would think his behavior would be better than when off-leash. Not always the case.

First, let me be clear that there is a difference between leash aggression and leash frustration. Simply stated, leash aggression can occur when a dog is fearful and feels trapped when on-leash. With no option to run, a leash aggressive dog can choose to act aggressively in hopes of getting the scary dog or human to move away. Leash frustration, on the other hand, occurs when a dog is annoyed by his inability to move freely or irritated by pain while on-leash.

Below are some of the reasons why dogs can have behavioral problems (i.e., experience leash frustration) when on-leash.

• One of the most prevalent causes of leash frustration is the wrong type of collar. Think about it, how happy would you be if you had to wear a choke collar or, even worse, a prong collar? Most dogs don’t fully understand what is causing all the pain around their neck – they just know it hurts. We can certainly understand that dogs, just like humans, can get grouchy when in pain.
• There are two things that are good indicators of a healthy dog – insatiable appetite and unbounded curiosity. It’s the latter that can lead to leash frustration. If a dog is continually prevented from getting to things he wants to investigate (e.g., another dog, interesting smell), he can become frustrated.
• My clients frequently hear me talk about not micromanaging the leash. In our desire to be good dog handlers, we can unknowingly provide too many leash inputs to our dogs. We want them to move right, move left, back up and stop with precision. All of this tugging on dogs’ necks can become a bit annoying to them and cause them to react.
• Owners sometimes punish their dogs as a way to stop unruly and reactive behavior when on-leash. This just temporarily stops the behavior while only increasing the amount of frustration. Worse yet, we teach dogs to “mask” their frustration in order to avoid punishment which creates a ticking time bomb, but without the ticker.
• Dogs that walk you, instead of you walking them, are inadvertently causing their own leash frustration. The constant pressure put on a dog’s trachea when he pulls like this can make him miserable. I know what you’re saying, “But Scott, dogs are doing it to themselves!”

Leash frustration can be addressed and this unwanted behavior can be extinguished. Unchecked leash frustration can frequently turn into leash aggression which is more difficult to treat.

Ways to reduce or eliminate leash frustration:

1) Use a humane and properly fitted collar (I prefer wide, buckle type, flat collars).
2) Provide your dog plenty of safe and appropriate opportunities to freely interact with other people and dogs (e.g., dog parks).
3) Learn how to handle your dog more comfortably and confidently.
4) Teach your dog how to walk on a loose leash.
5) Use positive training techniques.

If you have a dog that is presenting with leash frustration, please seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. This will make you and your dog happier and help prevent leash frustration from escalating to leash aggression.

Do You Have An Aggressive Dog?



Scott Sheaffer, ABCDT ©2012
Trainer for Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc.

Dog aggression is a common and serious issue – and is on the rise. One of the possible reasons for this is that dogs, in general, have less interaction with other dogs and humans than they did in past decades (dog parks notwithstanding). I don’t want to oversimplify here, but too little socialization isn’t good for a dog.

You might be surprised to learn that the cause of a substantial amount of dog aggression is fear. If dogs are afraid of another dog or human, they will aggress in order to get the thing they fear to move away. In an anxious dog’s mind, distance equals security.

Have you ever noticed that your dog appears to be more aggressive toward other dogs and/or humans when on a leash? If your dog is fearful, there are essentially three options open to him when presented with something that makes him afraid. He can flee, freeze or fight. When on a leash, however, Max can only freeze or fight. Even if Max is not particularly predisposed to fighting, he may see no other alternative when he’s tethered to you. This phenomenon is called leash aggression (not to be confused with leash frustration) and is common.

There are countless numbers of dog aggression categories. Below I’ve provided a high-level overview of the most common.

Dog-Dog. This refers to dogs who are aggressive toward other dogs.

Dog-Human. In this case the dog is aggressive toward humans. Both dog-dog and dog-human can, and frequently do, coexist.

In-Home. This is the same as dog-dog aggression except the dogs who aren’t getting along live in the same household. Possibly the most difficult type of aggression to treat.

Contextual Aggression. This can be a subtype of those listed above. It simply means that the dog exhibits aggressive behaviors in certain contexts (e.g., when near men with beards).

If your dog is presenting with aggression directed at dogs and/or humans, please get professional help. Canine aggression tends to escalate over time without intervention. The progression can be slow and insidious; frequently, the owner doesn’t recognize it until there is a serious incident. There are many treatment protocols available, but they require patience on the part of the owner.

Safety is the most important issue when working with an aggressive dog – please seek the advice of a professional and carefully follow his or her instructions.

4 Dog Bite Prevention Essentials You Need To Know To Protect Your Child



Scott Sheaffer, ABCDT ©2012
Trainer for Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc.

No one can guarantee that a dog, even your own, will not bite your child. Some dog owners think their Max would never hurt a flea, much less bite their own child. Remember that dogs are animals and, given the right circumstances, may respond to your child by biting.

Child Dog Bite Facts

•Any breed of dog can bite children; even small dogs can represent a significant threat to children.
•82% of dog bites treated in the emergency room involve children less than 15 years of age.
•Bite rates are dramatically higher for children who are 5 to 9 years old.
•65% of bites among children occur to the head and neck because of a child’s size relative to the dog.

Children are clearly at higher risk for dog bites.

Education Is The Key

Most people don’t appreciate how quickly a dog can bite. Most, but not all, dogs give a warning growl before biting. The interval between the growl and the bite can sometimes be just milliseconds, making avoidance impossible.

Teaching your child to recognize situations when a dog might bite is the key to preventing bites – including bites from the family pet. Educate your children on the basics below and closely monitor them to ensure they adhere to these guidelines with unknown and known dogs. This list does not represent all risk factors, but it does represent some of the most important ones.

4 Dog Bite Prevention Basics For Children

These guidelines apply to unfamiliar dogs and to dogs in your household.

1) Most importantly, parents should always closely supervise children when they are near dogs, any dogs. This is especially important for infants and toddlers.

2) Children need to know that getting face-to-face with any dog can be extremely dangerous. In the dog’s world this can be considered confrontational. A child might do this many times to the family dog with no consequence; however, this is not a 100% predictor of future behavior. It concerns me that I frequently see pet industry advertising showing children face-to-face with dogs.

3) Primates (e.g., humans, apes and monkeys) enjoy hugging one another and find comfort in this. This is a unique attribute of primates that is not shared by other species. Canines may tolerate hugging by humans but can also see it as threatening behavior. Teach your children not to hug or lie on Fido or any other dog.

4) Just like humans, dogs don’t like being bothered when sleeping or resting. Unlike grandpa, dogs can instinctively react by biting the person that startles them. Instruct your children to steer clear of sleeping or resting dogs.

The Top 10 Dog Owner Mistakes



Scott Sheaffer, ABCDT ©2012
Trainer for Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc.

In my private dog training practice I am frequently asked what the most common dog ownership issues are. I’ve prepared a list below of the top 10 that I regularly observe, but, before you read my list, remember there is no such thing as a perfect dog owner – including myself. We are all constantly learning to be better stewards of these magnificent animals.

1. Dominance. We don’t have to “dominate” dogs by filling them with fear and anxiety. We need to be great “pet parents” to our dogs. Good human parents don’t need their children to cower in their presence in order to have well behaved and mentally healthy children. Neither do dogs.

2. Victimization. The moment we hear ourselves say things like, “My dog won’t let me…”, “If I don’t ____ my dog will…” and “The only way I can get my dog to ____ is to…” a red flag should be raised. Dogs aren’t challenging us when they behave like this; they are most likely not experiencing the kind of loving, confident and deliberate leadership that eliminates undesirable behaviors and makes them more at ease.

3. Exercise. Most dogs need a lot more exercise than we think, especially younger dogs and more active breeds. Left to their own devices, most dogs will choose to lie down and sleep (I guess dogs and humans aren’t that different in this area). A minimum of three 20-30 minute intense exercise sessions per week (e.g., running with the owner, energetic ball-throwing, treadmill, etc.) is ideal for a young to middle aged healthy dog in addition to regular walks. This level of exercise helps them physically and mentally. See your veterinarian for exercise guidelines if you have any questions.

4. Overweight Dogs. Since we control the food intake of our dogs, it’s usually easy for us to control our dog’s weight through portion control. Most dogs don’t drive themselves to McDonalds and load up on fast food! We ultimately control their food intake and ergo their weight. Ask your veterinarian for help if your dog is overweight.

5. Inconsistency with Expectations. Dogs want to please us; we make this difficult for them if we are not consistent with our rules, boundaries and limitations.

6. Talking. Simply stated, most of us talk too much to our dogs! We confuse them with long and wordy commands and cues as if they know English. “Sit” used consistently is much more effective than, “Max, if you don’t mind, I need you to move over here and sit down while I cook dinner.” Watch professional dog handlers and you’ll notice they use very few words – if any.

7. Waiting. One of the most powerful concepts we can learn as dog owners is to wait. We need to give our dogs a few seconds to comply with our wishes (i.e., cues or commands). Patience in this area helps your dog learn and improves the dog-owner relationship.

8. Deliberate. Dogs are smart! They know when we don’t know what we’re doing or when we’re not confident. We need to work with our dogs in a confident and deliberate manner. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean we should be abusive to our dogs in any way. In short, dogs love to follow handlers who are confident and know what they’re doing.

9. Inside versus Outside. Dogs are social animals (that’s why we love them) and need to spend most of their time near their human guardians. When we don’t satisfy this social need, there can be behavioral and health issues that follow. Our dogs need to spend the vast majority of their time with us – inside our homes. Why? Because that’s where human families live and dogs want and need to be part of our families.

10. Breathing/Relaxed Body. Our canine buddies have an uncanny ability to detect when we’re tense. This is a result of their hard-wired prey drive skills. It is absolutely amazing how much better dogs will respond to us when we are relaxed (called a “soft body”) and breathing calmly.

Introducing Pets to Each Other



cat and dog pcpsi

Whether or not your pets get along depend on their personalities. Your current pet may view a new pet as a threat; there may be a few scuffles as each animal establishes his “place in the pack”. Do not interrupt them if there is no danger of injury, and provided they are supervised at all times.

Some pets will merely tolerate each other. Others will become great companions (like my own two dogs and cat). Here are a few tips for introducing a new pet into your home.

Always supervise your pets until you are absolutely sure they get along. Until then, separate your pets by confining at least one of them to its own room. Only allow them to interact with each other with your supervision. It may take them hours, days, weeks, or even months for your pets to adjust fully to one another.

Introduce your pets indoors in controlled situations. Keep your dogs on a leash and do not tolerate any aggressive behaviour. If you are introducing a cat to a dog, do not allow the dog to chase or corner the cat – even if it’s out of playfulness or curiosity.

When introducing a cat to a dog, do NOT hold the cat in your arms. A frightened or nervous cat may scratch.

Allow your new pet to familiarize itself with its new home. Temporarily confine existing pets to a room to give your new pet a chance to feel more comfortable with its surroundings.

Give your pets separate food and water bowls. If you are introducing cats, also provide separate litter boxes. Feed your new and existing pets in different locations.

Be especially careful when introducing dogs or cats to caged animals. Dogs and cats can live in harmony with rabbies, guinea pigs, birds, etc… but please introduce them under strictly controlled supervision. Keep in mind that cats are very agile, so placing a cage high up on a shelf doesn’t necessarily protect the caged pet. Don’t take any chances – one mistake could be fatal to your caged pet.

Give them time. Do not try to force your pets together; allow them to adjust at their own pace. Give all your pets – particularly the new one – time to gain confidence and decide when to face his or her new housemates.

Pet Adoption: Preparing for a New Pet



dot and woman, dog walking

Before you bring your new friend home, it’s best to be prepared to prevent unnecessary confusion and stress.

Establish the rules. Decide who’s responsible for what: grooming, feeding, exercising, cleaning, play-time, and so on. Also establish whether or not there will be areas that are “off-limits” for your new pet. For example, you may not want your pet to sleep on the bed.

Have all the necessary supplies ready. Examples are food, food and water bowls, leash or harness, collar and identification, brush, and so on.

Pet-proof your home. Some things you may want to consider include:

  • Lock away household chemicals, such as cleansers, insecticide, antifreeze, and others. Animals are especially attracted to antifreeze; be sure to clean up spills immediately and keep the rest out of reach as even a small amount can be fatal.
  • Place houseplants out of reach. Many houseplants are poisonous.
  • Have separate areas for your new pet and any existing pets. Pets need to be introduced to one another slowly; be sure you have an extra room or a kennel so that your pets can be separated until they have grown accustomed to each other.
  • Tie electrical cords out of the way, if you can. Dogs and cats can chew on electrical cords – or even catch them while walking (or running!) around, causing lamps, TVs, radios, etc. to fall.
  • Keep doors closed - this includes the doors to your washer and dryer, your closets, the cupboards … inquisitive little animals can sneak in just about anywhere!
  • Keep household trinkets out of your pet’s reach. Stuff like garbage, medicine, pins, elastics, thread, needles, and so on should be placed out of the way.

Make sure everyone knows how to properly handle your pet. Everyone should know how to safely pick up your pet. Also emphasize certain rules such as your pet should never be disturbed while eating.

Keep other pets away at first. Your new pet may be nervous … help him or her feel more comfortable by keeping your other pets confined until you are ready to slowly introduce them.

Pet Adoption – Choosing the Right Pet



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It’s so exciting to think you’ll soon be bringing home a new addition to your family!

No, I’m not talking about a baby: I’m talking about a pet.

Adopting a pet is a life-long commitment. It is an extremely rewarding experience – not only will your pet become a part of your family, but it has been shown that pets improve our lives in so many ways … there are even health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and more exercise. Consider these things before choosing to adopt a pet:

Your family’s activity level. If your family is the type that goes hiking often you will probably want a pet that you can take with you. If your family tends to stay at home to relax, a cat or a low-activity dog may be better for you.

Pet size. Is your home, yard, and car big enough to accommodate a large-breed dog? Are you able to physically handle a large dog? Do you have any physical conditions that may prevent you from exercising or caring for your pet?

Your schedule. There’s no doubt about it: dogs require far more time and effort than cats. Cats are wonderful for people who like the companionship but don’t have time to walk a dog everyday or let it out every few hours to do its “business”. Consider exercise needs, need to regularly eliminate, feeding, training, and attention.

Coat type. Generally speaking, long-haired dogs and cats will require regular grooming either by your family or a professional groomer. This can be very time-consuming (not to mention expensive!).

Your budget. It’s back to the money thing again … Just keep in mind that large dogs also require large amounts of food. Another consideration is long-haired pets that may require regular trips to the groomers.

Kitten or cat, puppy or dog? Baby animals are cute. They’re marvellously intriguing … and a lot of work. If you do not have the time or the patience to train a new kitten or puppy, consider adopting an adult. Adult dogs and cats have plenty of love to give and will bond to their new people.

Where you live and go on vacation. If you are renting accommodations or going to college, keep in mind that there places that no not allow pets at all, while others allow small dogs or cats but are extremely resistant to larger breeds. There may also be restrictions on the number of pets you may have. The same thing goes for vacations: if you would like to take your pet with you, you will find it easier to find accommodations that will allow small pets.

Your lifestyle. Are you always travelling (business/pleasure)? Is someone at home for a good part of the day, or is everyone always on the go?  You might want to hire a professional pet sitter to fill in the gaps.  When you are working long hours or you take a vacation, you can have peace of mind know a professional is there to watch over your pets, as well as your home.

Your family.

  • Do you have kids or family members with special needs? Some breeds of dogs have known tendencies to bite. Others are known to be extremely high energy dogs who require a great deal of attention and exercise, such as border collies. Young children in particular place restrictions on the type of dog you can get. You will also need to be able to properly supervise your children and dog at all times.
  • Has everybody in the family must have agreed to getting the pet? It is heartbreaking when pets are turned into shelters or abandoned because someone in the family did not want it.
  • Does anyone have allergies? Spend time with different types of pets if you can. Regardless of claims that a dog or cat is “hypoallergenic”, find out for yourself before you adopt. Dogs and cats both produce dander, which people can be allergic to.

Please do not adopt a pet as a surprise gift. Many pets are turned into animal shelters every year because the recipient of the pet did not want it. Pets have thoughts and feelings just like we do and it is frightening and confusing to be dumped at a shelter.

If you want to give a pet as a gift, please bring the recipient of the pet with you to choose one for themselves. Or ask if you can purchase a “pet gift certificate” that would allow the person to select a pet when they are ready.

How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety



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Because dogs are born with an instinctive pack mentality, they are very sociable creatures. Domesticated dogs look at the humans in the home as part of their “pack” and when some dogs are left alone, it can create a panic response. Dogs with separation anxiety will often dig or scratch at doors, engage in destructive chewing, howl, bark or may even urinate or defecate, even long after they have been housetrained.

There are steps you can take to help a dog that begins to exhibit signs of separation anxiety, but it can take some time for these tips to work. One of the first steps to take is to limit your dog’s ability to be destructive in your home. Rather than strictly containing the dog, place them in a room with a window which offers distractions rather than totally isolating them in a crate. Be sure to leave toys for the dog to play with and some experts recommend an old clothing item with your scent on it that will calm the dog. For severe cases of separation anxiety, hiring a dog walker is an excellent way to reduce the dog’s anxiety.

Holiday Safety for Children and Pets



The holidays are a tempting time for the little ones in your house — all those interesting new things to touch and taste. That’s why it’s important to take extra precautions.

  1. Avoid putting tinsel or popcorn on your tree — it looks fun to eat.
  2. Don’t leave edible gifts under the tree, where they are easy for pets to discover.
  3. Place small breakable ornaments high on the tree, out of reach
  4. Don’t put edible gifts in stockings near a fireplace — that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
  5. Mistletoe, poinsettas and holly are toxic, so find a safe substitute.
  6. When opening gifts, dispose of plastic wrapping, bows and ribbons quickly — they too look like they would be fun to eat.
  7. Don’t throw wrappings or packaging into the fireplace — some of it burns very rapidly, almost explosively — same goes for Christmas tree branches.
  8. Place candles out of reach and away from combustibles. Extinguish them when they are unattended and remember — hot wax burns.
  9. Don’t let your pets drink the water the tree is sitting in.
  10. Don’t feed pets chocolate, candies or cookie!

Courtesy of Sears Brands

If you are traveling for the holidays be sure to have someone checking on your home. Call Park Cities Pet Sitter for the care of your pets while you’re away.  We can also check on the overall security of your home while you are away.  If you are taking your pets, then we can still come by and check on your home.  We will bring in your mail, packages, newspapers and flyers, and alternate lights and blinds so it looks like someone is home.

Pet Sitting on a Hot Summer Night in Dallas, TX



dog summer

At 10:30 PM on a Saturday evening in early August, I received a call from Debbie, one of my wonderful pet sitters. She let me know she had run into a problem at a client’s home, where she was having an overnight visit.  The AC was out!  This being one of the hottest summers on record, as well as being a weekend, we knew we were bound to face a few hurdles in getting it repaired!

This was a special time for our client, as they were on their honeymoon cruise.   They had little to no cell reception, and were unavailable to do much from their end.   But, we assured them we would take care of everything!  This client had seven adorable babies – 4 dogs and 3 cats.  The pets’ safety, as well as that of my sitter, was extremely important to me, but there wasn’t much we could do at that late hour of the evening.  We tried a few AC companies, with no response.  My sitter opted to stay the night with the pets, and was able to manage with a couple of fans.  She put ice in bowls in front of the fans to help circulate cool air for all, and made sure each pet had cold, clean, water.

By early morning, I was on the phone looking for an AC repair company, as well as a place to board the pets. We had to keep them cool and comfortable and out of harm’s way due to the extreme temperatures rising in their home.  The task was looking more and more hopeless, until it hit me – I had recently moved my home office to a duplex, which was equipped with a dog door, as well as a small dog run.  It would be the perfect place!  While we do not take animals into our homes because we believe they should remain in their own environment, in this special circumstance, I was more than happy to be able to accommodate.  I called Debbie, and she loaded everyone up into their crates. They were in our office relaxing and cooling off by 11 AM!

I finally reached an AC repair company who responded very quickly, and was more than happy to help.  One Hour AC of Dallas arrived at the client’s home by 12:30PM, and had the AC repaired and running within the hour.  We can’t thank them enough, and will be sure recommend them, as they were very professional, courteous and WONDERFUL!

By 5PM the same day, all of the babies were back home, and things were back on track.   You never know what you may face as a pet sitter, but one thing is for sure – it’s always an adventure, and never a dull moment!

Top Ten Reasons Not to Travel with Your Pet



dog travel

  1. Accommodations:  Many hotels do not accept pets and if they do require they not be left alone.
  2. Plane trips:  Even with a reservation, airlines can refuse transporting your pet. Cargo holds are not heated or cooled or sound proof and can be very stressful on your pet and may even cause death.  High altitudes also have an amplified affect on medication or sedatives.
  3. Car trips:  All pets should be crated or restrained in a harness.  Numerous dangers exist for your pets inside and outside your vehicle.
  4. Identification:  Trying to find your pet lost in a strange city will ruin your vacation.  And they are at greater risk because they are disoriented by the strange sights, sounds and smells.
  5. Behavoir:  The stresses of traveling can test even the best-trained and well-socialized pet.
  6. Food & Water:  Drinking local water while traveling and changes in diet can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.
  7. Dangers, Diseases & Illness:  Allergies, ticks, mosquitoes, poison ivy on their coat transferred to you, just to name a few.
  8. Leashes & Laws:  Every state has a “Leash-Law” that are ticketable offenses.
  9. Emergencies & Vets:  Trying to find an emergency animal facility while dealing with your hurt and injured pets is another way to ruin your vacation.
  10. Alternative:  You have a Bonded and Insured Professional Pet Sitter caring for your pet and your home.  Hiring Park Cities Pet Sitter can give you immeasurable peace of mind while you are out of town.  Let us “Take Care of the Family You Leave Behind”.

Pet Safety – Only Takes a Minute!



Electra & ball resized 600

Park Cities Pet Sitter loves the animals we care for and want to do all we can to keep them safe.  Here are some helpful tips from UL.

Safety doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does take thought and planning. Not sure how to Commit a Minute to Safety? Pick one, 10 or 100 of the things below and get started today. You’ll see that sometimes it just takes a minute to avoid what could be a lifetime of regret.

  1. Test each smoke alarm in your home
  2. Replace the batteries in each smoke alarm
  3. Count how many smoke alarms you have in your house. If you do not have one on every level and near sleeping areas, purchase additional smoke alarms
  4. Designate an outside meeting place for your family (for example: the mailbox) in case of a fire or emergency
  5. Blow out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep
  6. Use a sturdy candle holder or hurricane lamp
  7. Turn down your hot water heater to 120 degrees or less to prevent burns
  8. Roll up your sleeves before you start cooking
  9. Have oven mitts nearby when cooking
  10. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove
  11. Store all matches and lighters out of reach of children
  12. Put hot food and drinks near the center of the table only
  13. Put down your hot drink when carrying your baby
  14. Test hot water with an elbow before allowing a child to touch
  15. Post your fire escape plan on your refrigerator
  16. Put water on cigarette butts before throwing them away
  17. Unplug small appliances such as hair dryers and toasters after using them
  18. Use flameless candles
  19. Move anything that can burn, such as dish towels, at least three feet away from the stove
  20. Practice “Stop, Drop and Roll” with your kids
  21. Schedule an appointment to have your furnace cleaned and inspected
  22. Look for the UL Mark when you buy appliances
  23. Tell kids to stay away from the stove/oven
  24. Turn space heaters off before going to bed
  25. Remove any gasoline from your home
  26. Put non-slip strips in your tub and shower
  27. Install night lights in the hallway
  28. Put a flashlight in each bedroom
  29. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen to prevent slips and falls
  30. Use a sturdy Christmas tree stand
  31. Water your Christmas tree every day
  32. Keep your Christmas tree at least three feet away from any heat source
  33. Inspect your Christmas lights for signs of damage
  34. Flip over large buckets so water cannot accumulate and become a drowning danger
  35. Store cleaners and other poisons away from food
  36. Post the Poison Control hotline number (1-800-222-1222) next to your phone
  37. If you have young children, use cabinet locks on cabinets that have poisons such as antifreeze, cleaners, detergents, etc.
  38. Keep medicine in its original containers
  39. Purchase a carbon monoxide detector for your home
  40. Test your carbon monoxide (CO) alarm
  41. Put your infant to sleep on his/her back
  42. Remove any soft bedding, stuffed animals and pillows from your infant’s crib
  43. Cut your toddler’s food into small bites
  44. Use safety straps on high chairs and changing tables
  45. Check www.recalls.gov to see if any items in your home (including cribs) have been recalled
  46. Move cribs away from windows
  47. Use safety covers on unused electrical outlets
  48. Test small toys for choking hazards – if it fits in a toilet paper roll, it’s too small
  49. Remove all plastic bags from the nursery
  50. Pick up any small items, such as coins or buttons, that can be choking hazards for infants and toddlers
  51. Write down emergency contact information for your family and make sure everyone has these numbers
  52. If young children live in or visit your home, move furniture away from windows so they don’t climb up to look out and accidentally fall
  53. Tie window cords out of a child’s reach
  54. Check your child’s bath water temperature (use your wrist or elbow) to make sure it is not too hot
  55. Remove drawstrings from your baby’s clothing
  56. Keep the toilet lid shut to prevent little fingers from getting slammed by a falling lid
  57. If you have toddlers, install a toilet seat lock
  58. If you have young children, install door knob covers on bathroom doors
  59. Use a fireplace screen
  60. Put toys away after playing
  61. Don’t refer to medicine or vitamins as “candy”
  62. Put on safety glasses before any DIY project
  63. Put tools away after your DIY project is complete
  64. Post emergency numbers near your phone
  65. Pick up one new thing for your family’s emergency preparedness kit
  66. Use a ladder, not a chair, when climbing to reach something
  67. Use plastic instead of glass near the pool
  68. Cover any spa or hot tub when it is not in use
  69. Purchase a first aid kit
  70. Drain the bath tub immediately after bathing
  71. Remove clutter from the stairs
  72. Use the handrail when you are walking up or down the stairs
  73. If the power goes out, use flashlights instead of candles
  74. Ask smokers to smoke outside
  75. Wear proper shoes when climbing a ladder
  76. Check your home for too many plugs in one socket and fix the problem
  77. Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs if you have young children
  78. Never leave food cooking unattended
  79. Make sure pools or spas are properly fenced to keep out small children
  80. Teach kids to tell you when they see matches or lighters
  81. Turn out the lights when you leave the room
  82. Unplug appliances that aren’t in use (especially in the kitchen)
  83. Take your hair dryer off of the bathroom counter and store it safely
  84. Check your electronics for the UL Mark
  85. Identify two exits from every room with your kids in case of fire
  86. Check your holiday decorations – keep breakable decorations out of reach of young children
  87. Replace an old light bulb with a new energy-efficient option
  88. Check the walls for loose paint chips and re-paint with low-VOC or VOC-free paint
  89. Check all the outlets in your home for overloaded sockets or extension cords
  90. Remove any extension cords that are pulled under rugs or tacked up
  91. Place fire extinguishers in key areas of your home
  92. Place an escape ladder in an upstairs room that might not have an easy exit
  93. Remove any painted furniture that is pre-1978 to avoid possible lead exposure
  94. Lock medications safely in a cabinet
  95. Consider low-flow toilets
  96. Check that all major appliances are grounded and test your GFCIs
  97. Clean the lint trap and hose on your dryer
  98. Check your swing set for sharp edges or dangerous S-hooks
  99. Take a tour of your home from your child’s perspective looking for hazards
  100. Hold a family fire drill

Tips Courtesy of UL.

Being Prepared for Pet Emergencies



Pet Awareness Month

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and a great time for all pet owners to learn how best to handle pet accidents and emergencies. We encourage all pet owners to learn what to do if their pet becomes injured by taking a Pet First Aid course (contact zoo sitters if interested in attending a class).

Dr. Emily Pointer, DVM, at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, said that the most important aspect pet owners should take away from National Pet First Aid Awareness Month is how critical it is to be prepared.

“An emergency situation can be handled much faster and more appropriately if an owner has resources like a first aid kit (if you need to purchase a kit, please visit our link to WagN Enterprises. They have the best kits around and are reasonably priced) and list of important phone numbers (veterinarian, emergency animal hospital and poison control) easily accessible,” (zoo sitters can also provide you with a copy of your Client Profile. This will contain your information, along with your detailed Pet Profile, Vet Numbers and Addresses, etc. Simply contact us if you’d like a printed out copy of your information.) Dr. Pointer said.

Just like people, most pet accidents happen in or nearby the home. Examples of the most common pet accidents include toxic ingestion, dog bites, high rise syndrome, ripped toenails, foreign body ingestions with gastrointestinal problems, eye emergencies, broken bones, trouble giving birth and being hit by a car.

Simple first-aid procedures can be the difference between life and death. Knowing how to apply pressure to a source of bleeding and place a temporary bandage is vital to your pet’s safety, and may even save the life of your pet. As a side note, all Zoo Sitters pet sitters are certified in Pet First Aid through Pet Tech so rest assured that your babies will get the best of care when we sit for you.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 25 percent more pets would survive if just one pet first aid technique were applied prior to getting emergency veterinary care.

“Even after a pet owner has administered first aid, it is extremely important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible,” Dr. Pointer said. “There are many, many emergencies that cannot be managed, even in the initial period, with simple first aid.”

Another aspect of Pet First Aid Awareness Month we’d like our clients to be aware of is Emergency Planning. Unfortunately, we do live in an area that often has hurricanes, surges, and all around nasty weather. Zoo Sitters has posted some leaflets that we recommend all clients have on file in their homes in case of evacuation. These leaflets can be posted on your door should you have to leave your home, letting first responders know if you do or do not have pets left behind. Click HERE to download your Evacuation Notices from the Articles tab on our website.

courtesy of Pet Sitters International


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