A Furry Friendly Family

A beautiful Newfoundland

As you may know, I have always been a lover of animals.  From the time I was a small child I had a connection to all animals so it is logical that in my retirement I would end up being a Pet Nanny, loving and caring for these precious furry companions. 

What you may not know is when I was a young girl living in the small town of Wenatchee WA, some neighbors of mine had several Newfoundland’s who needed to be exercised several times a week, so my sisters and I took on the job.  We were to take the big dogs out to the large orchard behind their house, walk them around and bring them back home. Now I have to admit I did more cuddling on these big gentle giants than walking around, but I loved the time I spent with them.  Gwyneth and Bruce Mitchell were the neighbors, and in 1967 they donated their home and land and founded the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, fulfilling their dream of giving hope and homes to homeless animals in the Wenatchee Valley.

The story and connection continue with my family and this Humane Society.  I love the fact that my family shares my love of animals and have committed their lives to them.

The Mitchell home was converted into a thrift shop and my Aunt Fern volunteered there for many years, supporting and helping to fund the Humane Society.

My son Ben Baker became involved in working at the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society when he was in high school. Always an animal lover, this was the perfect fit to further his love and understanding of them. Over the years he has rescued several dogs in need, giving each of them a loving home.

One of the many poems my son Ben Baker has written

Ben Baker with his constant sidekick Angus

Little did Ben know that his son Christian would find his way to the same Humane Society many years later to achieve his passion as an Animal Control Officer.

Christian Baker heading out on a call

My grandson Christian Baker is a Wenatchee Valley Animal Control Officer serving the animals and residents of Chelan and Douglas counties.  Its mission is to help protect the safety and well-being of the citizens and animals of its jurisdictions through compassion, education and law enforcement.  There is no one better qualified for the job than Christian.  He has always been a sensitive, compassionate person towards people as well as animals which has made this occupation perfect for him.

Christian has shared a few stories with me.  Some heartwarming, some sad.  But all showing his compassion for this very important journey he has undertaken in his life.

Jordyn Baker with her horse Ahsoka

Christians wife Jordyn is also an animal lover who enjoys her horse Ahsoka whom she has broken herself! 

Jordyn also finds time to do some pet sitting in her spare time and of course Hilly, her close companion and sweet little partner in crime is always by her side.

Jordyn Baker and Hilly

My daughter Heather Kalinowski has always loved animals since she was a little girl. She wanted to be a veterinarian but when she shadowed a veterinarian in high school she almost fainted from the blood and realized, to her great disappointment, that veterinary medicine was not in her future.

Ava welcoming Heathers son LJ into the family
Little Ava with my daughter Heather

Over the following 15 years, while focusing on a career in journalism, she volunteered her time fostering and caring for dogs. She fell in love with the Italian Greyhound and spent years dedicated to fostering and finding forever homes for this very special breed.

In 2010 she joined a pet insurance company as a blog writer and found that the company was not just focused on ensuring pet owners could afford the very best care for their pets, but it was also a company dedicated to pet health and veterinary wellness. She stayed with the company for over ten years, even managing the non-profit organization the company’s Chief Veterinary Officer founded, MightyVet.

MightyVet is dedicated to supporting veterinarians and veterinary staff members in their career and personal well-being. Did you know that veterinarians are among the most likely professionals to commit suicide? You would be surprised at how stressful their job is, dealing with pet owners who may not have the money to afford the very best treatment for their pets. They get yelled at daily, are under tremendous financial strain with school loans, work around the clock, and don’t make much money (relative to other professions). MightyVet aims to help reduce the suicide rate among veterinary professionals by ensuring they are aware of and prepared for the challenges they face in practice.

My daughter Heather Kalinowski with her family and two latest rescues Molly and Lucy

Recently, Heather left her job and is pursuing other opportunities. I just found out she is planning to go back to school to pursue a zoology degree and will be celebrating her upcoming 40th birthday with a trip to South Africa to volunteer with an organization that supports the conservation of African wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and zebras.

Me with my newest little fella I’ve been looking after, 7 month old Louis.

And me? Well after 14 years, I’m still pet sitting and loving every minute of it!

April 17, 2021 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

7 Tips For Caring For Your Pet This Winter

By John Gilpatrick 

When temperatures drop and snow starts to coat the ground outside, it’s important to adjust your pet’s daily routine so you can keep him happy, safe and comfortable until the buds of spring begin to bloom. Caring for your pet in the winter is a multi-pronged effort that will require some thought and preparation. Here are seven things you can do to make this your pet’s best winter ever.

1. Take Care of Your Dog’s Paws

A dog’s legs, tail and ears are most susceptible to frostbite, says Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, service chief for the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s community practice. While there’s not much you can do for the tail and ears—besides keeping your walks short or walking during daylight hours—dog boots will provide some welcome warmth to your dog’s paws. Dog booties can also protect your dog from harmful chemicals like deicers. While some ice melts are clearly marked as safe for pets, many others are not. If your dog licks his paws after walking on deicer, he may be at risk of getting sick. For dogs who refuse to wear booties, you can use a towel to wipe their paws after a walk, Dr. Ruch-Gallie says. If you notice your dog stepped in salt, rinse the area as soon as possible.

2. Adjust Daily Calories for Changes in Activity

A dog’s diet is precisely calibrated to give him all the vitamins, minerals, and calories he needs to thrive. But when a dog’s activity level changes drastically, as it can in the winter, adjustments need to be made to ensure adequate nutrition. Dr. Ruch-Gallie says this can happen in both directions. “My dog loves the snow. She’ll go out five or six times a day when it snows to play. On those days, she may need more calories because of the increase in exercise,” she says. “Other dogs don’t like to go out at all—even for potty breaks. Because they’re less active, they should consume fewer calories.” If you’re unsure what’s best for your dog and his activity level, consult with your vet to come up with a plan.

Andiker Dog Puzzle Feeder Toy

3. Play with Your Pet’s Food

When it comes to how you feed your dog, there are fun, creative things you can try that will both satisfy his hunger and give him a bit of a workout, says Dr. Deborah Linder, research assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “For dogs that are food-motivated, you can encourage activity by spreading meals throughout different parts of the house or throwing kibble to have your pet chase it down a hallway,” she says. “Mentally stimulating dogs can also be a great way to get them moving with food-dispensing toys and interactive or puzzle toys.”

4. Block Off Heat Sources

Dogs, and especially cats, may seek out sources of heat in your house as nice places to cuddle up or take a quick nap. Dr. But Ruch-Gallie warns that these spots present burn risks for pets, because they aren’t aware of how hot they can get. “Cats may try to curl up next to a radiator or jump up on a wood-burning stove,” she says. “Owners should make these places inaccessible to their pets during winter months.”

5. No Off-Leash Time

While your dog might love running around outdoors off leash, it can be especially risky when the temperatures drop. Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski, associate professor of emergency and critical care at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says falls through ice may occur if a body of water isn’t fully frozen. Additionally, dogs are at an increased risk of being hit by vehicles, including snow plows.

6. Increase Intervals Between Baths Moisturizer is your best friend during the winter, but your pet doesn’t have the same luxury. Baths tend to dry out their skin the same way it does yours. While it’s not the most serious of problems, dry skin can cause an animal some discomfort. Dr. Ruch-Gallie says it’s not advisable to cut out baths altogether from December to March—not only for the obvious (smelly) reasons, but also because some animals have allergies and require regular baths. That said, you may want to cut back on the frequency of baths, and speak with your vet to find a dog shampoo that’s more moisturizing than the average one, Dr. Ruch-Gallie suggests.

7. Keep a Blizzard Checklist Handy

If you live in a part of the country that’s prone to the occasional blizzard, it’s critical to have a checklist handy. This will help ensure you have everything your pet may need, in case you’re stranded for a few days. Dr. Ruch-Gallie says the same list you might have for yourself will apply well to your pet—dog blankets for warmth, battery-operated flashlights in case you lose power, clean water, plenty of dog food, dog medications and something to stay entertained. She adds that you may want to keep all these things in one place. “If you’re thinking about leaving before the snow, make sure you have all these things together, in case you need to get out quickly,” she says.

For a more detailed list of items to include in your kit, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pet Disaster Kit Checklist (images above)

The thoughts and opinions listed above are those of the author of the article. 

February 21, 2021 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment

Ways to Exercise an Indoor Cat

You might decide to keep your cat indoors for many different reasons, whether it’s to keep them safe from outdoor hazards, protect native wildlife, or stop them passing on infectious diseases. It’s extra important for indoor-only cats to get plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy, as they’re not burning off steam running around outdoors.

There are plenty of ways you can help your indoor cat to keep active. We have put together a few suggestions.

Photo credit: CatioSpaces.com

Controlled access to the outdoors:

Although your cat needs to stay inside, they can still enjoy the outdoors in a secure environment. Building a ‘catio’ (cat patio) may be a solution to give your pet access to the outdoors while still making sure they stay at home. A ‘catio’ is a secure, fenced enclosure, usually attached to an owner’s house that your cat can freely come and go from. If that’s not possible, you could also have it be a separate area that you regularly take your cat out to. It allows your cat to enjoy being outside while keeping them safe, secure and close to your house.

Another option might be to train them to walk with a harness, so you can let them enjoy the outdoors without any of the hazards. Walking a cat is quite different to walking a dog, so don’t expect to be able to take them for a jog or lead the way – it’s more like following your cat with a very loose leash as they explore and guiding or moving them away from potential hazards, with the lead as a back-up in case of emergency.

Plenty of toys and playtime:

It’s really important to play with any cat as much as possible, but even more so with indoor cats. Without free access to outside to hunt and chase, they can miss out on a lot of their natural behaviors. By playing with them, you’ll be helping them to get it all out of their system and they’ll be less likely to claw your sofa or attack your socks! Make sure you regularly change and rotate your indoor cat’s toys to keep things interesting for them.

Cats hunt and chase in short bursts, so play in five or ten minute sessions with pauses for your cat to catch their breath. Plan in plenty of sessions per day. Feed your cat right after a play session to make them feel like they’ve “worked” for their food.

Lots to scratch:

Cats love to scratch, whether they’re inside or outside. It’s something they need to do to keep their claws in good condition. Indoor cats may need a few extra scratching options around the house. You can get different types of cat scratchers aside from the traditional ‘scratching post’ to make it more interesting for your cat. Look for different surfaces to scratch as well – sisal, wood, cardboard and carpet are all options. Every cat will have a different preference so figure out what your cat loves to dig their claws into.

Different things to explore:

You can also introduce loads of places for them to explore – you can even buy special cat furniture but many cats may even find fun in cardboard boxes.

Make sure they have different levels to play on. You can get large cat climbers or trees that also have places for them to hide and to be up high. You could even install shelves or runways on the walls for your cat to make full use of your space.

Puzzle feeders:

Puzzle feeders are great to combine food with exercise. It will help your indoor cat to practice their hunting and use their brain, plus they’ll get a tasty reward. Remember it’s important to not only keep your cat physically active but also mentally active to stop them getting bored.

*This article is from PDSA. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1917 by Maria Dickin to provide care for sick and injured animals of the poor. PSA and Road Runner Pet Nanny are not affiliated with PDSA or any other of their related businesses or services. The thoughts and opinions listed above are those of the author of the article.

September 20, 2020 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

What Makes a Good Dog Walk?

Making your dog’s walk varied and interesting will help to stimulate them mentally as well as physically, which is important for your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Here we take a look at what makes a good dog walk.

The route:

If you can vary where you take your dog for a walk, this can keep your dog interested on a day to day basis. Why not hop in the car and explore a few different walks in the area? Varying the location can make the walk more interesting for you too.

The usual route:

If you don’t have much time to explore different routes, then take steps to make their usual route as varied and interesting as possible. Follow different paths, take a circular route in the opposite direction or introduce different games along the walk.

Play games:

Fetch, frisbee or a game of tug can break up a walk and add a bit of interest, especially if the walk includes a park where you can let your dog run long distances. 


Keeping your dog on a lead close to heel can be very frustrating for a dog when you are out for a walk and there are lots of interesting things for them to explore. Take them on a walk where it is safe to loosen the lead so that they can interact with the world around them. If they stop to sniff something, don’t be tempted to pull them away as they may find this frustrating, and be sure to take the walk at your dog’s pace.

Dogs introduce each other while walking along a path lining San Rafael Bay, in San Rafael, Calif. Thursday March 7, 2019. (Jeremy Portje/ Marin Independent Journal)


Taking a walk is the perfect time for your dog to socialize with other dogs as well as people. Ask other dog owners before allowing your dog to approach their dog and allow them to play together as long as the play doesn’t become too rough. If your dog is happy to be approached, allow other people and children to stroke and interact with your dog. Giving your dog access to lots of different types of people can help their social skills, especially while they are still a puppy.


Pick up the pace and try running with your dog. If you have a big, active dog you could even try cycling whilst your dog runs beside you. Make sure you do this safely in a location that has a wide cycle-friendly path away from busy roads.


Use a collar or harness and lead that your dog is comfortable with. If the weather is cold and your dog is prone to feeling the chill, give them a doggie jumper or coat to wear. On hot days or long walks, take a collapsible water bowl and bottle of water for your dog to keep them hydrated. If you’re walking in the dark, wear bright or reflective clothing and take a torch with you. You could give your dog reflective clothing to wear too, or even a light to wear on their collar.

*This article is from the Sure Petcare April 29, 2019 blog. PSA and Road Runner Pet Nanny are not affiliated with Sure Petcare or any other of their related businesses or services. The thoughts and opinions listed above are those of the author of the article.

August 20, 2020 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Dog Park Safety: What to Know Before You Go


For some dogs, running off-leash and romping with their canine pals is a real treat.

“Dogs are social creatures and like to play with other dogs,” says Susan Nelson, DVM, clinical associate professor at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “A dog park is a great place for dogs to get some exercise and learn social skills.”

While you can easily find a dog park, make sure you know how to keep Fido safe before unclipping the leash.

For starters, Nelson suggests you visit a park solo to observe the dogs and their owners, and decide whether you’re comfortable with what you see. A park filled with aggressive dogs and inattentive owners is not the right place to take your pet for off-leash play, she says.

Make sure the park’s fencing is adequate, too. Dogs shouldn’t be able to jump over or scoot under it. Look for broken boards or jagged wires that could hurt your pal.

Nelson also suggests you stick to dog parks with separate play areas for large and small pets. “A dachshund playing with a Lab could get hurt just because of the sheer difference in size; it’s safest to keep them separated,” she says. Consider the possibility that large dogs may see small breeds as prey, not playmates.

Understand too that dog parks are meant for pets that are well-socialized. If your buddy is aggressive or has issues that could make him hostile toward another dog playing with a ball or Frisbee, the dog park is not the place to teach him to make friends or share his toys. Nelson suggests you work with a trainer first to correct his behavior.

She also warns against taking shy or nervous dogs to the park. “A fearful dog might bite,” she explains. “Or it could get to the park and cower behind its owner, which can be traumatic for the dog.”

Another good idea is to steer clear of the dog park if your female pet is in heat. Along with the risk of an unplanned litter, nothing starts a dog fight faster than a group of male dogs vying for the attention of a ready-to-breed female.

To keep your dog from getting sick at the park, pick up his waste and bring a bowl for fresh water, instead of letting him lap from the communal bowl. (Parasites can be spread through feces and shared water bowls.) “Your dog is less likely to get sick if he’s not sharing a water bowl,” Nelson says.

The risk of illness is one of the biggest reasons to keep puppies out of the dog park. Pups younger than 12 weeks old are not fully immunized, and their young immune systems will struggle to fight common infections.


Remember to watch your pal — and the other dogs in the park — at all times. At the first sign of a problem, like growling, mounting, or other aggressive behavior that could turn into a scuffle, call your dog over for a break. If the behavior continues, leave the park.

“You have to be vigilant and try to stop problems before they begin,” Nelson says. “If there is a problem, be ready to intervene.”

In the event of a dogfight, be careful. “Do not get between dogs that are fighting,” she says. Instead, she suggests you throw water on fighting dogs or using a stick (not your hands) to separate them. In case of an emergency, know the location of the nearest veterinary hospital.

“In general, dog parks are safe, but you need to watch your dogs at the park just like you would watch your children on the playground,” Nelson says.

Other Ways to Be Safe

Stay up to date on vaccines. Your dog can encounter viruses and parasites at the park. Confirm he’s current on vaccines like rabies and distemper/parvo. Your vet might also recommend vaccinating against kennel cough, canine influenza, and leptospirosis.

“Vaccinations will keep your pet from getting sick at the park,” Nelson says. Also, make sure your dog is up to date on regular intestinal parasite prevention.

Protect your pooch against fleas and ticks. Ticks can lurk in grasses, and dogs and wildlife that visit the park can spread fleas. The best protection is to keep your pet up to date on flea and tick control. “Talk to your vet about which products work best in your area,” Nelson says.

Talk to your veterinarian, too. If your dog is uncomfortable with other canines, ask your vet to recommend a trainer.

By Jodi Helmer

*The thoughts and opinions listed above are those of the author of the article.

May 1, 2019 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Hawaii…in style!

I’ve visited Hawaii before. My friend and travel partner took a cruise there in 2011. It was an amazing trip. We visited four of the islands, snorkeling on the Big Island, kayaking on Kauai, swimming on Maui, seeing whales as we sailed into Honolulu, and watching lava flowing into the water as we were departing the islands (check out my blog from March, 2011). But this trip was totally different!

When my son and his wife decided to take a trip to Hawaii, I was thrilled when they asked me to come and join them for part of the time they were there. Now I know that they like to travel in style, but I had no idea how high in style they were going to take me!

Elegant entrance to the Halekulani Hotel

Tuesday, October 30th – When I arrived at the magnificent Halekulani Hotel my daughter-in-law Wendy met me and took me to a private elevator. I should have had a clue then what was in store for me but it still didn’t register. The elevator opened into a foyer where a desk sat for their personal butler (which I’m happy to say they declined to employ) and to the left was a beautiful suite complete with a queen size bed, sitting area, desk area, veranda with a plush lounge and a table and chairs overlooking the water, a magnificent bathroom with a dressing area, soaking tub, cozy terrycloth bathrobe, special soaps and lotions, and the list goes on and on. I thought this was our room. That I would be sleeping on the couch and I was happy! This room was bigger than my studio apartment I live in and I thought, man this is luxury!

My bedroom

After admiring the beautiful room, Wendy walked me through the double doors off the foyer. When I first peeked in I was confused. Here was this huge room with a formal living area complete with a grand piano, a cozy TV area, a full kitchen and dining area to accommodate 6 people, a wraparound deck with a view of Waikiki Beach and Diamondhead. I thought she had taken me to an elaborate corporate conference venue to show me what was available in this beautiful hotel. I was still puzzled at what I was looking at, and why she was showing it to me, when my Son Ben walked out of the kitchen. WELL, this was the rest of the suite! I hadn’t even seen the huge master bedroom off the living room with its grand bathroom with a walk-in closet and dressing room. This was crazy! The “suite” Wendy had shown me in the beginning was MY bedroom. And this was the rest of the Royal Suite, all 3300 feet of it!

The Royal Suite looking towards kitchen and foyer top picture, and TV and dining room bottom

The Royal Suite Livingroom and veranda

Next on the agenda? A spa treatment of course! Wendy had arranged to have massages for the two of us in the room. Soon the two masseuses arrived and set up massage tables in the master bedroom. We lavished in the calmness of a 90 minute traditional Hawaiian relaxation massage while Ben left to explore other things. What a glorious way to start out a visit to Hawaii!

Master bedroom

When I returned to my room, I found a lovely welcome basket of fruit and chocolates waiting for me. I devoured the delicious papaya and rested in my big fluffy robe until showering and dressing for the evening.

Welcome fruit and chocolates

We started out at the elegant L’Aperitif cocktail bar at the LaMer, Halekulanis 5 star, 5 diamond upscale French restaurant. The bar is famous for their craft cocktails paired with high end snacks to compliment the drink. We all ordered something different and sipped on our fancy drinks and snacks while sitting in the richly decorated, dark paneled décor with a view of Diamond Head through the open doors. Afterwards we went to dinner at A House Without a Key enjoying delicious prime rib and lobster dinners while listening to traditional Hawaiian music. As the sun set below the horizon, we finished our dinner with the light and creamy traditional Haupia coconut cake. Pure heaven!

Drinks and high end snacks at L’Aperifif

I returned to my room to find turn down service with a pair of terrycloth slippers by my bed, a small gift, a lovely quote for the day and an ever present orchid flower. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each night I found a new gift and quote. How lovely is that! I sank into my comfy bed with dreams of what a wonderful day I had.

Coffee on my veranda

Wednesday, October 31st (Halloween) I ordered room service to have my coffee on the veranda while watching the beaches come alive with walkers, surfers and sun bathers.

Halakulani Orchid pool

Then we put on our suits and headed to the pool. We spent most of the day lounging by the Orchid pool with the beautiful mosaic design of an orchid on the bottom, created from over a million blue, white and green imported glass tiles. The staff brought by little tidbits every hour…A mini muffin in the morning, a bite of pineapple, frozen grapes, little bites to enjoy while basking in the sun. And of course we had to have a Mai Tai which the hotel says it’s famous for. And I must admit it was pretty good!

Drinking Mai Tai’s at the pool

For dinner we went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I’ve never been and have heard how good it was but really wasn’t convinced that a meal could be THAT good. After all, I’ve had some really delicious steaks in my day. But believe me I was wrong! I have never had a filet minion like I had that night. It was absolutely melt in your mouth tender! Add the creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and side of succulent shrimp and wala! Dinner made for a queen!

Dinner at Ruth’s Chris

After dinner I walked along the streets going through some of the shops and watching all the fun people in their Halloween costumes.

Thursday, November 1st – Snorkeling day! One of my absolutely favorite things to do is snorkeling. There’s just something so magical about being in the quiet, serene waters and watching the sea life below you. And every time I go I think about my cousin Bruce who introduced me to this beautiful activity so many years ago. So of course Ben and Wendy arranged a day of snorkeling! We boarded the catamaran and cruised out to Turtle canyon where many, many resident sea turtles hang out. Not only did I see dozens of turtles up close and personal, but there were hundreds of colorful fish skittering around as well! I will NEVER go snorkeling without an underwater camera again!

Ben & Wendy on the catamaran

I could have kept snorkeling for hours longer, but since everyone had returned to the catamaran except me, I reluctantly made my way back to join the others. We then sailed around the bay having a great view of Diamond Head, the Waikiki beaches and a Hawaii 5-0 helicopter flying overhead as they were filming. SO Hawaii!

A happy snorkeler!

Friday, November 2nd – Our last day…We walked around the area finding the mall and a path to Waikiki Beach. Along the way we ran into some men and women picketing the hotels next to ours. Their grievance was that the hotels wouldn’t hire them full time so they weren’t eligible for benefits. The cost of living is so high in Hawaii and they couldn’t afford to work only one job to survive and pay their bills, most had at least two jobs. We sympathized with the situation and wished them well. And of course my generous kids gave them some money to help with their cause.

Picketers next to our hotel

We then whiled away the afternoon at the Tommy Bahama 2nd floor restaurant enjoying the cool breeze coming through the big open windows overlooking Kalakaua Ave. below. We watched people and birds in the park below, the traffic of tour busses, unique motorcycles, limos, and all kinds of vehicles passing by while enjoying drinks and the best scallop sliders on earth! Wendy re-created them when she returned home and served them as appetizers for Thanksgiving. I have to say she nailed it! SO DELICIOUS!

Last night in Honolulu enjoying scallop sliders at Tommy Bahamas

That evening I listened to the sounds of the ocean as I drifted off to sleep for the last time. What an experience of a lifetime!

Aloha Hawaii!  Mahalo Ben and Wendy! I love you so much!

My lovely daughter-in-law Wendy and son Ben


December 1, 2018 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

Holiday Food Pet Safety Tips

As the holidays approach we are often excited to celebrate with family and friends and spoil our pets with extra treats.   There are many ways we can keep our pets safe during this busy season and make sure they feel extra love too.  Here are a few safety tips for all our furry friends.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers Courtesy of ASPCA

Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.

Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.

Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Article courtesy of Pet Sitters Associates November 2018 Newsletter


November 17, 2018 at 8:47 pm 1 comment

Cancun! Beautiful, Relaxing, and fun in the sun!

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write about my trip to Cancun.  I suppose it’s because my friend and travel partner Susie and I took an amazing tour of the Cenotes while we were there and I had a terrible experience getting our pictures back from the company.  When I did finally receive them, after many weeks of correspondences with many people, some of the pictures weren’t even of us and we were missing many that were taken.  But that’s another story…

View from our room overlooking the pools and beach

My friend Susie and I have been going to Puerto Vallarta for the last several years but decided since we hadn’t gone to Cancun we would change it up this year and try the Caribbean side.  I am so glad we did!  It was a totally different experience for us.  We stayed in a little studio apartment at the Aquamarina Beach Hotel.  The complex had two pools, a relaxation pool, awww! and a pool for games and activities.  It also had three restaurants, one nicer one, a snack bar by the pool, and a buffet.  A bar in the lobby, a convenience store, a gym, I could go on and on.  Everything we could possibly want.

It also had hammocks on the beach which is definitely my thing.  I absolutely LOVE laying in a hammock with the ocean breeze caressing my face,  Double awww!

Relaxation pool, activity pool, kids pool and beach at the Aquamarina Beach Hotel


Crazy foam party in the pool

Susie at the foam pool party

Although Susie and I enjoy a quiet beach, I have to admit we had lots of fun with the music playing and all the fun activities they had at the complex.

Taking off in the golf cart in Isla Mujeres

We decided we had to spend at least one day in Isla Mujeres.  So off we went on the water taxi to the island.  We were told the only way to see the island was to rent a golf cart.  Apparently everyone else had the same idea.  We went to several places and all were totally sold out.  Finally we stopped at a place where they told us to wait a few minutes because one was due to come in.  It finally arrived and off we went!

Lunch at Captain Dulche’s

Pool at Captain Dulche’s

Sculptures, pelicans, herons & iguanas, Oh my!

We stopped at Captain Dulche’s to have lunch under the huge palapa while enjoying the ocean view.  Lots of people were relaxing in the sitting pool/swim up bar and cabanas.  There were swings for bar stools at the two bars and a huge ship in the center of it all.  What a kick!

Lighthouse and one of many cairns at Punta Sur

Statues and sculptures along the trail at Punta Sur

Magnificent waters at Punta Sur

Ruins of a Mayan Temple

Then we made our way to the south end of the island to Punta Sur Ecological park & lighthouse. We walked along the path amongst the many statues and sculptures to the crumbled ruins of a Mayan Temple. Not only was it an awesome area, but the waters below were incredibly beautiful!

Susie at Playa Norte

Finally we hopped back in our golf cart and zoomed back to El Centro to return the cart and walk to Playa Norte to get our feet in the Caribbean.

Ziplining into an open Cenote. Yes I did!!!

The highlight of the trip was our tour of four different Cenotes.  Cenotes are underwater caverns, tunnels or sink holes filled with crystal clear water filtered by the limestone surrounding them.  Some are up to 66 million years old.  The youngest ones are still covered overhead, the oldest are open above.  Not only was it an amazing experience seeing the caverns, but we had fun getting into them.

Snorkeling through a semi-open Cenote to find stalactites overhead along the edges of the pools


Kayaking through a Cenote


What a beautiful ride through a Cenote

You could either go down a zip line or waterslide to enter the next Cenote.  We opted for the waterslide.  What a rush!  Then we swam through a corridor lined with roots falling down to the water, beautiful flowers, and even a few turtles before ending in another cave.

Swooping into a Cenote on a VERY fast slide


The end of the line for this Cenote where the brave ones jumped off a cliff above.

The last Cenote we visited was the best of them all!  It was a huge closed cavern deep and dark in the ground.  Many rappelled down through the small opening above, including Susie.  She was the brave one this time.

Stairway to the closed Cenote below, and me hanging out in the deep dark waters

Basking in the serenity of the Cenote

I opted to take the stairs down to the cavern.  Before any of the others started rappelling down, I let myself into the cool, dark water surrounded with fiscus roots trailing down from the earth above into the water below and basked in the quietness and serenity of this spiritual place.  All I can say is it was absolutely amazing!

Brave Susie rappelling into the Cenote

Susie having fun jumping off a high platform into the water

Just another amazing trip!  I thank my stars every day for how lucky I am to be able to experience such wonderful places!

The end of an amazing tour of the Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula

November 11, 2018 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

How To Be A Great First-Time Pet Owner

Photo via Pexels.

Congratulations, you have decided to get a pet for the first time! Being a pet owner can be an incredibly rewarding and joyful experience. This is particularly true for recovering addicts, who can find a loyal, unconditional friend and an invaluable source of stress relief in their pet.

However, having a pet comes with responsibility. You’ll need to be in charge of the well-being of a living creature and to love it as unconditionally as it will love you. Being a good pet owner will be important throughout your animal’s life, but it starts before you even bring them home.

Choose The Best Animal For You
Not all pets are created equal. Some take more work and money to own and some require a lot more hands-on attention. When choosing which pet to get, consider their budgets, but also their needs and natural tendencies.

For example, dogs tend to be more affectionate than cats, but they need to be walked every day and require more hands-on care. Cats, on the other hand, tend to be low-maintenance. Some experts even think that cats offer a more realistic model for healthy relationships than dogs.

Consider Your Breed Options
Once you have chosen what animal you want, you need to think about breeds. This is particularly applicable to dogs, where different breeds are almost entirely different animals. A Chihuahua is not the same as a Golden Retriever. A few things you need to consider:

  • Size of your home – Some dogs need more room than others, and some need large open spaces such as a yard. DogTime has a list of breeds that adapt well to apartment living, either due to their size or temperament.
  • Activities – What kinds of activities will you want to do with your pet? Choose a breed that goes well with the type of things you like to do. For example, if you like hiking and outdoor pursuits, get an active dog that enjoys being outside.
  • Allergies – If you have allergies to animal hair, you can still get a pet. You just need to make sure you get a breed that is hypoallergenic, or less likely to produce and accumulate dander and saliva, which is what most people are actually allergic to. This also goes for cats: breeds with short, fine fur – or no fur at all – are less likely to trigger allergies.

Prepare Your Home
Once you have chosen your new best friend, you need to make sure your house is ready. Make sure you have bought all your pet accessories, including plenty of food and toys.

Then, you need to consider the layout of your pet’s things. Where do you want your pet to spend most of its time? Where will they eat, drink, sleep, and play?

You also need to make sure your house is safe. Keep an eye out for anything that your pet could choke on, trip on, or fall through and keep anything dangerous well out of reach.

Make Them Feel At Home
Don’t worry if your pet takes a few days to get comfortable in their new home. This can be particularly challenging for rescue animals that will invariably be nervous in a new and unknown environment. According to Candidae, the best way to help a rescue dog get acclimatized is by providing constant food and positive reinforcement, giving them space and limiting their access to the house at first in order to not overwhelm them.

It may also take a while for your pet to bond with you – that’s ok. As long as you continue to provide them with love, affection and care, they will learn to trust you and develop the animal-human bond that makes being a pet owner so rewarding.

It is important to not rush into a big decision like getting a pet. Take some time to do your research about different breeds and what they need and to make sure both you and your home are ready for new addition. This will make all the difference in the world toward being a great pet owner and having a happy, long-lasting relationship with your furry friend.

Article written by Jessica Brody

June 20, 2018 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

The Gentle leader Head Collar

Bear, a colossal size pup

There are so many training collars and harnesses for dogs these days, and being a pet sitter I have come across most all types.

Recently I was pet sitting a young, very large, rambunctious lab mix who I wasn’t able to walk because of his unruliness.  The owners were doing their best to train him but with his size and strength it had been a real challenge.

The next time I came to pet sit I found that they had decided to try the Gentle Leader Head Collar.  They instructed me on how to put it on Bear and properly use it.  It is so important to make sure the Gentle Leader is properly adjusted and fitted to your dog.  When on, it should look like a V and lay just behind the corners of the mouth.  The neck strap needs to be very snug and the nose strap loose enough so the dog can freely open the mouth but not loose enough to pull off.  If you decide to try this amazing product, be sure to consult with a trainer or specialist, and there are several videos and instructions manuals on the web to help you learn the proper way to use it.

Bear wearing the Gentle Leader

I have to say I was very skeptical, but when I took Bear out for a walk I was amazed!  I was totally in control!  He doesn’t LOVE this collar, but is very respectful of it.  A gentle tug and he’s right by my side.  It’s the most amazing transformation I have seen in training a dog to heal.  There’s no pulling, tugging or jerking the dog, which I love, just a gentle reminder of how he needs to act while walking with his human.  You can see that I had two collars on Bear.  I was instructed to have both on just in case I needed it, but I didn’t.

He has a ways to go as far as socializing with other dogs, but that will come with more training and maturing.  But for now, I am so happy that I’m able to walk this very large, highly spirited pup.

I would recommend the Gentle Leader Head Collar to anyone training their dog to heal.  It’s such a small, simple collar but the effects are huge.

January 16, 2018 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

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