Monday, November 30, 2009

Toss the Retractable Lead

You have your holistic pet owners, your old schoolers (ie, thats how my daddy's dad did it), your co-dependents and your folks who read every puppy rearing book on the market...but there is one single thing you should NEVER do!  Never purchase and use a retractable lead. There are countless reasons why you should not use them and every reason I have heard to support using them often further strengthens my stand to never use them. They are dangerous and offer worst level of control over your pet...thus a recipe for disaster.

Retractable leads have burned, cut and seriously injured so many including the handler, innocent bystanders and even the dog. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 16,564 hospital related injuries occurred in 2007 that were associated to retractable leads.  Injuries are so common that the Germany based company FLEXI posts warnings on their website and packaging as follows: “To avoid the risk of eye or face injury and cuts, burns, and amputations to your body or the body of another person from the leash cord/tape or all belt and hook, (sic) read and follow these Warnings and Directions for Use before using your Flexi leash.”

Most dog trainers will tell you that in order to truly handle your dog, you must have a 4-6ft sturdy lead. This lead should allow you to keep your dog under your control at all times because we all know, the further away you are from your dog, the least amount of control you have over your dog. With a retractable lead, your dog can be extended 10 to 30 feet in front of you. If they were to suddenly bolt across a street, you have given them that much space to move and put themselves into traffic. They see and interact with other dogs, people and small animals and are far enough away from you to get into trouble. There are reports of dogs getting hit by cars and kids on bikes because they are not street smart enough to know to watch for these dangers.

The lack of control of the dog can lead to the cord burns to folks as their dogs get tangled. I have been burned as someones dog walked behind me and the owner tried pulling in the lead. As the cord pulled across my lower leg, I was burned through my denim jeans leaving a red welt on my skin. The owner had already started the damage and I was on my own to get out of the mess before additional harm was caused.  To be honest, there was nothing she could have done other than use a better lead to control her dog. Her tiny Rat Terrier was excited to greet me and my own pup. I had the better (and traditional lead) and was able to untangle our pets while all she would do was stand their while I did my best to save my skin.

If you feel its convenient to allow your dog to wander further from you and do not feel the risk of injury to you, your dog or the people you interact with while walking then do a Google search. Search retractable lead dangers and read all the stories from pet owners who have severed fingers or scared their legs and arms of themselves and their children. You can even ask my friend Berhan about the 9 inch scar on her leg from her Chihuahua walking around her while waiting to cross the street.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Love is True, My Love is Real

I do not have kids....meaning the traditional, two legged variety. I have dogs & cats instead and I love them dearly. I love them more than I can ever explain, basically, I would go to the end of the earth to ensure their safety and happiness. I would be heartbroken to lose them or see them suffer in anyway. I would fight for them, I would do anything...that is a lot of love. That is the farthest reach of my love...its 100%.  But, a mommy of the traditional kind and they will tell you that you do not know love. OUCH!

I would never go up to someone and tell them that their love is not valid, that their love is substandard. But 2-legged mommies do it with vengeance. If your love is for a dog or cat, you apparently do not know love, that you can only know love of a 2 legged child and thus they have set the scale. What I want to know is, when did they crawl in my body, read my level of love and decide that I can not possibly know love? Should I ask them how much I love my husband? My parents? My sister? I find it pretty outrageous that one person can tell another how deeply they love. I thought love came from the heart, meaning from 'my heart'. I thought that the warm fuzzy and smile that bubbles up from my deepest core of emotion was mine and real. I feel it as real, I wrap myself around it as real, but since my love is for a furry face with a big tongue I guess its a myth.

Here is my advice to people who tell others how to live, how to dress, how to act, how to believe, and most importantly how to love: Love is Love and its so deeply personal and cherished....don't be so heartless and try to diminish others feelings. Its cruel and unnecessary...because I would never tell you that you don't know love, you only have a kid.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Party Dogs

I am about to take my dog Hank to a charity event at the Westin in Charlotte. Hank is a social dog...he lives with 3 other pups so he plays well with others. We take him camping 4-Paws Kingdom where he romps and frolics in dog parks with other happy campers. But I am a little worried about Hank at a charity dinner.

In fact, Hank can be quite the little booger. He has this sharp, nerve grating bark that can call the whales from the deepest ocean. He gets excited and jumpy but all with tunnel vision and hearing. He is actually incapable of hearing me when he is most excited and in need of reigning in. So, I am not sure how I feel about this outing of ours.

I do expect to wear, ditching the skirt/dress option since I have no idea what activities I will be forced to partake in. I do not want hosiery snags and rips to be part of my evening and I do not think that high heels will be wise as I may need to move fast.

So, why take the little boog? He is a Humane Society Alumni and the charity event is to raise money for the group that brought my little booger to our home. It hasn't all been fantastic and wonderful, but it has been great. I will take Hank to the Charity Dinner and hopefully he won't cause too much pain and suffering for all involved. I am sure he will land us some laughs....he always does.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why a Pet Sitter?

I get asked this question often. Why not board your pet? Its cheaper they say. I agree it is cheaper with a single pet but not if you have several pets. But the cost really needs to be considered in whole experience and not just in cash cost. The pets experience while you are gone need to be considered. The care for your home, bringing in the mail, alternating lights, the belly rubs, etc....have a value over kennel time. But lets hear it from the experts...According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) here are the benefits to hiring a pet sitter:

Benefits to your pet include:
  • Staying at home in his/her safe, secure environment
  • Being surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds
  • Following his/her regular diet and exercise routine
  • Having play time
  • Receiving love and personal attention
  • Maintaining medical treatment, when required
  • Having someone responsible in case of an emergency
  • Eliminating the trauma of travel or an unfamiliar environment
  • Ensuring good health (no exposure to other animals' illness or parasites)
For the Owner
Benefits to you include:
  • Knowing that your pet is in caring, loving hands
  • Having the confidence that the pet sitter can deal with other issues - such as grooming, vet visits
  • Eliminating the trauma of having to transport and leave your pet
  • Not having to impose on family, friends or neighbors
  • Feeling your home is more secure (with someone going in and out several times a day)
Not all pet sitters are created equal, nor are they all professional.  In hiring a pet sitter, it is important to make sure you have chosen the right person to care for your beloved animal.

So, take the time before your next trip to establish a relationship with a pet sitter. We get to know you and your pet and your confidence that you and your pet will be happy while you are away is guaranteed. or call 704-391-9364 to ask questions about your pet sitting needs. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time with the 'furry kids'

My husband & I love to go camping with pups.We take our RV and head to 4-Paws Kingdom, a 34 acre property located in the foothills of the North Carolina mountainsWith several fenced in dog parks, including a fenced in pond for pups to swim and no kids allowed. Its sort of 'Disney' for dogs. 

So popular, that we have invited several of our friends to go with us and they have all returned with us every time. Its only 90 minutes from Charlotte and a great 'get out of dodge' sort of place. Quick, fun, and so animal friendly its utopia for any dog owner.

Our dogs love it too...lots of fresh air, long walks, extra time for belly rubs. Swimming in the lake and space to run and romp without fear of running off or someone yelling about your dog off leash. Plenty of seats for folks to sit and chat while the dogs play. When its time for pups to rest, there are human entertainments planned with amazing food cooked up by the property owners. Everyone is friendly, everyone talks about their dogs like kids, doggie pick up stations every 20 feet. Been going for over a year and can not imagine a better campground to visit.

If you are not an RV owner, they rent RV's there on site or have wonderful little cabins to rent. These spaces are limited and book up quick, but so worth your time and money. My recommendation is that you purchase whatever dinner they are serving on Saturday night. Best $13 you will ever spend on a meal. Brigit & Meik Bartoschek are great hosts, great dog owners and have brought dog lovers a wonderful place to spend time with the furry kids.

Check them out yourself and tell them Cindy sent you!

Friday, October 9, 2009

October is Adopt-a-Dog Month

The American Humane is spear-heading the campaign 'Adopt a Dog' month. A long time supporter of all things humane, American Humane wants to encourage our animal lovers to consider adopting animals instead of purchasing them from breeders or pet stores. With so many animals in shelters across America, we can not possibly end pet homelessness, but we can try to make a dent.

For those who are dead set on a pure breed, consider a breed specific rescue. A quick way to search is with Google or Pet Finder. You many even take a few trips through your local shelters as they get  pure breed dogs on a regular basis.

A word of caution when choosing your pet, consider the lifestyle you keep compared to the lifestyle of the breed you are choosing. There are often big gaps between favored breed and lifestyle needs. These gaps often put that pet to the shelter in the first place. Active runners who want a running partner are not going to do well with Bulldogs, Great Danes or Chihuahuas. While the more couch loving person will not be happy with the active needs of the Beagles or terriers. Also, if spending more that $20 on a haircut makes you scream...the Maltese, Westie and Schnauzer grooming needs will not work for you. This may all sound funny, but they are the most common reasons that many dogs end up in shelters.

I highly support, recommend and encourage adoption over purchase. With 8-12 million animals in shelters across America and 4-6 million of them euthanized every year we need "Adopt-A-Dog" months every month.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In the Beginning...

There once was a girl, me...Cindy. She worked in corporate America and was suffering the usual things creative, free thinking types suffer. So, she thought long and hard about the type of work that would make her happy. She hired a Business Coach and after a few sessions made the decision to start a Pet Sitting service. That is the short version of how Meow & Fetch was born. Official launch date was August 1st, 2004. 

It was also the day I went in and adopted my 3rd Big Black Dog, Emma. I have no idea why I did them both at the same time so that will have to be a story for another time. Meow & Fetch Pet Sitting was launched on August 1st and I started my first pet sitting job on August 4th. Annie Dumont hired me to watch her kitty & two fish. I had my husband post my services on his company intranet and Ms Dumont saw it and was a little concerned with what to do with her pets while gone so long. Talk about timing! It was the perfect thing to send my confidence into high gear.

I heard that Ms Dumont quit her corporate America job a couple years ago and started her own pet sitting company. She sent me a note to let me know. I am so proud of her and know she too is happy and loving her days of wet noses and sloppy kisses.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Dress or Not Dress up the dog

Oye...this topic gets way too much debate. They are not toys. It doesn't hurt anybody. Its humiliating. Its why they have fur. Blah, blah, blah....its is what it is. Unless the items in question actually cause pain and injury to the dog, I am not one to point fingers. But, let me tell you that many 'thin skinned' dogs need extra layers when the weather gets put a coat/tee/shirt on that dog!

This topic is especially hot this time of year. I for one, think its hilarious to put dogs in costumes. My dogs love it and its because I make it a fun event. They are not 'thin skinned' and do not need it to keep them warm...I do it for special events, charity fashion shows and picture taking. Hank...pictured as Santa has been in many costumes for many events. He has no problem with wearing costumes and even poses for photos.

If your pooch is injuring themselves to get the item in question off...then draw the line. Be responsible...don't leave costumes on dogs while unattended or in a kennel. Make sure tee's are properly fitted if used for warmth. If you notice its fellow pups pulling or dragging them by their clothing, separate or remove item to avoid injury. Be smart, then have fun and send me those ADORABLE pictures!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Big Black Dog Syndrome

This is a subject I will blog about regularly. I will continue to talk about it until its common knowledge and no longer a syndrome. BBD Syndrome is the fate of Big Black Dogs...they are the most likely to die in shelters across America. There are many reasons for this travesty, but its such a grand scale problem that it was officially termed a 'syndrome'.

BBD's are harder to adopt than lighter coat dogs. They are harder to see in bad lighting. Their facial expressions are misleading as you can not read their expression as easily as with light coated dogs. With the sharp contrast of black fur and white teeth...smiling or even slight teeth in view gives impression of barring teeth...which is scary to some. Even other dogs can mis-read a black dogs expression.

On top of basic visual facts, black dogs are often used in film and literature to represent 'evil' or bad omens. Even Winston Churchill used the term 'the black dog' to reference 'depression'. Add on that black fur is possible in many mixed breed combinations and you have many different black dogs that will likely end up in shelters.

I learned this with the adoption of our first black dog, Sam. Pictured second from left. The shelter volunteer said that she was happy to see a black dog get a home. We then adopted Morgan (far left) from Gaffney County. Emma (far right) was adopted from Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control. Hank (squirmy little pup in Jon's lap) was adopted from the Humane Society of Charlotte. Hank was pulled from a kill shelter in a surrounding county to avoid euthanasia by HSC.

There is no difference between any light coated dog and a black dog...just the negative image and labels. Otherwise, they are just as wonderful as any other pup in the shelter. Here are some websites to help explain further
Black Pearl Dogs
Start Seeing BLACK Dogs

Morgan at the Beach

I took my dog, Morgan, to the beach for a week. Man, she loved it! She chased the waves, the sea gulls, pelicans and sanderlings with gusto.

She stuck her nose in crab holes, dug for more crabs and rolled in the sand. She was a mess...but wow, she enjoyed the beach more than we did!

She developed a dirty little habit of doing her business in the water! Not sure what that is all about, but as a friend said 'the fish do it all day long'.

I think that beach trips are far more fun with your dog along. In fact, I have always gone off season just so my dogs could enjoy the beach as well. Most beaches don't let pets on the sand during the heavy rush of sun bathers, but who would want to with the million degree sand burning your feet.

Hope you have a chance to take your favorite pooch to the beach soon too!