May Pet of the Month: The Doxies

Belle, Oskar and Buster are special to me for many reasons, including the fact that they were my very first regularly-scheduled Monday-Friday dog walk clients. I have been working with these loyal, loving, spirited pooches since September 2017, and we’ve had so many wonderful adventures together.

Belle, who is around  three years old, knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. And what she often wants is to be picked up and carried for a bit while we’re out on our walks. I often indulge her, because we’d never make it around the block if I didn’t. But it’s OK, because she’s tiny, adorable, and soft, and spoiling her is hard not to do. She regularly employs other heart-melting behaviors such as hopping up and down several times on her hind legs when she gets excited; running in circles while chomping at the air and finally rolling over for belly rubs before I leash her up for our walk; and lifting her long ears straight out to the side when anticipating a treat. Her favorite game is tug of war, and she regularly defeats all who dare to challenge her in this realm.

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Belle

Oskar and Buster are brothers, and just turned 10 in January. You would never know that these guys are now officially considered senior citizens, though! They also jump in the air, usually when I first arrive and start to leash them up, although their jumps are typically combined with an attempt to land a big wet kiss on my face (or on my glasses, or up my nose), and they succeed about 25% of the time.

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Oskar
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Buster

Buster is a real champ at chasing and catching balls, and would do it all day long if he could. Of the three, he is the most enthusiastic about rolling around on the ground while we’re out on our walks, and is the only one who stays by my side after I’ve removed their leashes when we return (Belle and Oskar usually run off into the house). Both Buster and Belle love to bark at the two chickens who live in a coop in the back yard, and the chickens seem to enjoy it, because they’re always right up next to the wire giving it right back to Belle and Buster. I like to think that it’s a complicated, love/hate relationship.

Oskar is the most relaxed of the three, and when I give him his treat I always thank him for being such a gentleman. He also loves to play with balls, but can’t keep up with his lightening-fast brother when it comes to chasing/catching them, so I always make sure he has his own that he can take off to a quiet corner to chew on.

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With their exhuberance and high energy, this crew keeps me on my toes and smiling, and I hope to have many more adventures with them!

 

Pet Visit Guidelines

The following suggestions represent the minimum number of visits I believe your pet should receive when you’re away. There are some additional considerations listed after all the cute pics.

PUPPIES UP TO 6 MONTHS OLD

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Overnight care, AND multiple daytime visits. A good general rule of thumb is to take the puppy’s age in months plus one to determine how long between visits. (so a 5 month-old puppy should get a visit every six hours, etc.)

PUPPIES 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR 

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Overnight care with two visits during the day

DOGS OVER 1 YEAR

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Overnight care plus one visit during the day, or three visits daily

KITTENS UP TO 6 MONTHS

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Overnight care plus one visit mid-day, or 2-3 visits daily.

CATS 6 MONTHS AND OLDER

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One visit per day

 

Additional considerations:

How long will you be gone? How many pets do you have? What are their personalities?

If you’re going to be gone for longer than a week, I recommend throwing in some additional visits here and there. This could mean the occasional overnight stay, or an extra visit in the middle of the day every few days, or several visits of longer duration.

If your cat is the only pet in the household and is highly sociable/affectionate, and you’re going to be gone longer than three or four days, I recommend two visits a day. This also goes for cats with lots of energy and a tendency to zoom about the house bouncing off walls.

If you have a truly anti-social cat or dog who is traumatized when anyone other than you or your family members come around, fewer visits may actually be more beneficial. For cats under these circumstances, I think you can get away with  visits every other day, although I still prefer at least one visit a day because stuff happens.  For dogs, it is a bit more complicated, and I would consult a behavioralist or qualified trainer when devising a visitation plan.

Boarding

I think there are circumstances in which your pet may be better off at a reputable boarding facility.

Puppies who have all their immunizations may be happier in an environment where they can interact with other dogs under supervision.

Although many pet sitters will administer medication, if your pet is critically ill, or has a newly diagnosed condition such as diabetes or asthma and has not yet become regulated to his or her medication, or is particularly hard to pill, I think a medical board at the vet often makes the most sense.

Environment while you’re away

It is particularly important that puppies and kittens are confined to a small room or pen in between visits from your pet sitter. This area should be free of anything that could pose a choking, strangulation, or drowning hazard (this includes many toys, loose blind cords, and toilets with the lid up). This area should contain comfortable bedding and safe toys (think stuffed animals for kittens, and Kongs for puppies) and an article of clothing with your scent on it.

 

*All photos in this post are courtesy of Pixabay.

 

Finally…A Really Good Pet Hair Remover

I don’t make this claim lightly, but I think I may have actually found a pet hair roller/remover that works well and is easy to use, with minimal effort required to remove the hair from the device itself once the device has removed it from your furniture.

I’ve only had the Chom Chom Roller for a couple of weeks now, so it’s always possible that it will break or stop being amazing, but for now I am more satisfied with it than I have been with any previous pet hair removal method (tape rolls, lint brushes, vacuum cleaners, etc.).

I haven’t yet tested it on clothing…I have a suspicion that good old fashioned tape rollers may work better. But it kicks butt on my furniture, and so I give it a five star rating (it gets 4.8 stars on Amazon). You can buy it from Amazon by clicking on the image below (yes, I’ll get paid on it if you do, but that’s not why I posted this…I really just like the device and wanted to share it with everyone).

Critters in Cars: Let’s Talk Safety

Head out the window, ears flapping, catching the breeze and checking out the world as it whizzes by. No doubt many dogs enjoy this experience, and many people who witness it smile at the cuteness as they drive alongside the vehicles containing said dogs.

Now imagine that the dog is a child instead. How would you feel about that?

Most of us would never consider allowing a child to stand up in the seat and stick his or her head out of the window of a moving vehicle; in fact, I’m willing to bet that most parents wouldn’t dream of not having their child buckled into a crash-tested car seat, depending on their age and size. And I think it’s safe to say that most of us (hopefully) take care to ensure that we are wearing a seat belt as well.

Dogs and cats are made of the same stuff we are: their bones break; their skin is vulnerable to lacerations; and their organs can sustain damage from blunt trauma. They are also subject to the same laws of physics that we are, and become moving projectiles when subjected to force.

Dog wearing goggles with head out of moving vehicle window.
At least this pooch is wearing goggles to protect her eyes from debris!

My impetus for writing this post was another local pet sitter who was advertising her services, including pet transportation, on a local listserv. One of the photos she posted was of a sweet little dog on her lap in the driver seat. I was immediately struck by a vision of the airbag deploying; given the angle at which the dog was sitting, a broken neck was the most likely outcome of that scenario. It probably wouldn’t have ended well for the driver, either.

I realize that this is not a fun topic, and to be honest it’s not one that I ever gave much consideration to until I took my pet first aid/CPR certification and learned about the injuries that are sustained by pets each year, especially dogs, because they are not properly secured in a moving vehicle. However, I couldn’t unlearn what I had learned, and am now a firm advocate for securing pets during transportation.

So the obvious next question is “what’s the best way to do this?” Fortunately, Lindsey Wolko took this question to heart and founded the Center for Pet Safety, whose mission is “to have an enduring, positive impact on the survivability, health, safety and well-being of companion animals and the consumer through scientific research, product testing and education.”

The center has developed the CPS Certified Program, a 501(C)(3) non-profit which requires rigorous product testing from its members who commit to meet independently developed safety standards, monitor product quality control, and commit to truth in advertising. If you are a pet owner and you want to try to mitigate injury to your pet in the event of an auto accident, please visit the Center for Pet Safety website to learn more (be sure to check out their FAQ’s, where I learned, among other things, that they advise against using a seat belt to strap a carrier in). I also recommend watching the video below so you can see how the organization conducts their safety tests, and read a helpful list of things to look for when shopping for a travel harness at the end. Warning: although no live animals are used in their tests, some people may find the visuals upsetting.

My goal here is not to make anyone feel guilty about how they choose to transport their pets in a vehicle, but rather to introduce an idea that may not have occurred to you. That scenario above with the pet on the lap when an airbag deploys? It could have been me several years ago, when I traveled along the I495 with a newly adopted kitty on my lap.

It wasn’t too long ago that seat belts and car seats for humans weren’t standard practice. But now that we know better, countless lives are saved every year. It’s at least worth considering that our pets deserve some of the same safety measures that we have come to expect for ourselves.