Sunday, May 29, 2011


Memorial Day weekend...signifies a couple of things to most of us.  With the armed forces of the USA deployed in hot spots around the world, it's even more important to remember that Memorial Day was set aside to honor those who have sacrificed themselves for our country.  Beyond that, with Memorial Day weekend coming near the end of the school year, this also marks the beginning of the summer travel season.  Even though current statistics seem to indicate that most of us won't be traveling as much as in the past, there will still be at least a little time for some short road trips.  Many of our readers will be taking their pets with them on the road, while some will be left at home in a boarding kennel.  Helpful Buckeye has compiled a lot of good advice that will help you sidestep problems, plan for unexpected situations, and help you and your pets enjoy a worry-free vacation.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has issued this press release to remind all of us about:

Remembering Animal Heroes on Memorial Day

As we celebrate Memorial Day, let’s remember that it’s about more than barbecues and a day off from work or school. On Memorial Day, it’s our duty to honor all of those who have died serving our country and to recognize that these brave men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live our lives safely and securely.

Let’s also take note of the unsung animal heroes who have given their lives in service to our nation and our troops abroad.  Military working dogs like the Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois have served our country gallantly in many theaters, from World War II to their role in the war against terror in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. A military working dog was even a member of the elite team that stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Military horses, mules and donkeys have provided strength and support throughout military history, including dignified leading roles in the parade of honor as our fallen soldiers are escorted to their final resting places.

On this Memorial Day weekend, it is fitting and proper that we recognize these unheralded heroes and what they have done and continue to do for our nation both at home and abroad.

And while we’re at it, we would also like to remind all pet owners to help keep their pets safe during the holiday weekend. Whether you’re staying home or heading out to visit friends or family, remember that holidays can pose challenges to your pet. Keep an eye out for their safety, and enjoy your weekend.

That's a piece of great advice and we'll get into that in more depth after a little house-keeping.  Ten percent of respondents to last week's poll reported that they had been attacked and/or bitten by a neighbor's or friend's dog.  About a third of respondents said that one of their dogs had bitten someone...unexpectedly.  And, about 75% felt that a dog owner should be legally responsible for damage caused by their dog.  The other 25% responded that it depended on the situation.  Remember to respond to this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Let's get this concept of summer fun off the ground with these lyrics:

Trees swayin' in the summer breeze,
Showin' off their silver leaves
As we walked by....
Soft kisses on a summer's day,
Laughing all our cares away
Just you and I....
Sweet sleepy warmth of summer nights,
Gazing at the distant lights
In the starry sky....

Some of you will recognize the big hit by Chad and Jeremy, from 1964, A Summer Song:

Since this discussion will be long enough to divide into two parts, here is the first part:


A good place to start is with these recommendations from the ASPCA:

Six Tips for a Pet-Safe Summer 

The last days of May signal the unofficial start of summer for folks, young and old, across the country. But with these carefree months of no homework and summer Fridays comes an increased risk for illness or injury for our furry pals.  From unpredictable weather to unusual routines, our animals are exposed to all sorts of hazards during June, July and August, and your pet is counting on you to keep him safe. Check out our top six tips for keeping your animal secure all summer long.

- Give your pet access to plenty of fresh water at all times. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat.
- Avoid lathering your pet with any insect repellent or sunscreen not intended for the four-legged kind.
- Keep your pet away from matches, citronella candles and lighter fluid, which if eaten can irritate the stomach, lungs and central nervous system.
- Be cool near the pool. Don't leave pets unsupervised around a pool, lake or high waters—not all dogs are expert swimmers!
- Never leave your dog, cat or any other animal friend alone in a car! The inside of a car can heat up very quickly—even with a window open.
- Be prepared! From tornadoes to floods, we've seen the devastation severe weather has brought to pets and their families these past few weeks. Develop an evacuation plan well ahead of time in case you're forced from your home in an emergency.

Have a pet-safe summer!

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The AVMA adds their suggestions as well:

8 things you can do to protect your dog in the summer

1. Never, ever leave your dog in the car;

2. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water;
3. Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside;
4. Take walks during the cooler hours of the day;

5. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it can burn your dog's paws;

6. If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off;

7. Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet;

8. Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats, and apply canine sunscreen to your dog's skin if s/he has a thin coat.

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One more set of suggestions should get the idea firmly imprinted for all our pet owners:

How keep Fido clear of summer hazards

For most of us, the warm weather means more time spent outdoors with our four-legged friends. While being outside with your dog is a great way to spend time together, there are certain dangers the summer season brings for Fido. To keep your dog safe, check out these tips to help prevent summer hazards.

-- Keep cool. When the heat and humidity are making you uncomfortable, chances are that your dog is suffering too and is becoming overheated. You can prevent overheating by making sure that your dog always has access to cool shade and water. If you see that Fido is slowing down in the heat, you can spray him with a hose to cool him off.

-- Dogs get sunburn too. Dogs that have hairless areas or have white fur on their noses or ears can get sunburn. Repeated sunburn on dogs can predispose them to skin cancer, just like humans. Make sure to put canine sun block on Fido if he's going to be outside on a sunny day.

-- Paws on pavement. Sidewalks and streets can get very hot, and since your dog doesn't wear shoes his paws can end up getting burned from the scorching pavement. Keep your dog on the grass in extreme heat to keep his paws intact. Also remember that sand can burn too, so try taking your long beach walks with Fido early in the morning or late afternoon when it's cooler.

-- Stay away from the barbecue. Keep your dog away from the grill while you are using it, as the open flame is very dangerous. Your dog should be kept away even after you have finished with the grill because it stays hot for a while. Also remember that barbecued food can be greasy and upset his stomach, so as tempted as you may be, don't give him barbecue scraps.

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Many of you will likely be exercising a little more during the summer months with your dog.  This will not only benefit your dog:

Exercise with your pooch and both of you will lose your paunch

Exercise is more fun when you have a companion along -- like your dog. Our chat guest is Jackie Epping, a public health scientist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epping, who has five dogs and a cat, presented her paper "An Exercise Machine with Hair? How Dogs Can Increase Physical Activity" at the American College of Sports Medicine's recent meeting.

We asked her if dogs can engage in some of the same endurance sports that humans do, such as running.  "It really depends on the breed and the fitness level of the dog," Epping says. "I know people who run several miles a day with their dog, and their dog does just fine. Some breeds, such as dogs in the working group, tend to need more exercise generally. But the key is to know your particular dog's limitations.  As with people, it's better to start slowly and work up to longer distances. You need to pay attention to how the dog is responding. Pay attention to signs such as the dog starting to lag behind or otherwise showing any distress or discomfort, or if you see any kind of limp.  If you want to exercise with your dog, research the breeds," she adds. "And don't forget, as many as 30% of dogs in animal shelters are purebreds, so consider adopting a dog from a shelter. If you get a dog that's a mix, your vet can probably tell you what breeds are in the dog, and then you can make a decision about exercise and duration."

...notice the transition from "pooch" to "paunch"?  Adapted from:,0,511737.story

One last general consideration for your pets with the arrival of summer:

Warm Weather Leads to Stray Animals

The warmer weather doesn`t just bring more people out of their homes. It`s also a time for animals who spent the winter indoors to enjoy some time outside. The Bismarck Impound finds more stray animals around the city as the temperature starts getting warmer. For animals that go astray, it could mean a trip to the pound.

"A lot of times people just let the dogs out figuring they`re not gonna roam and they will," said Melisa Hilsendeger, an animal control warden.

In the past 24 hours, two wandering dogs were brought into the Bismarck pound. A dachshund was found running around trailer courts in south Bismarck. Unfortunately, there will be many more cases like this in the months to come.

"It seems like the nice weather, same with kids, they get rambunctious. They get curious with all the new smells from spring. They usually take off running," said Hilsendeger.  The warm temperatures can bring anywhere from 10 to 15 animals into the pound on a weekly basis, compared to two to three animals during the winter. But the warden says pet owners can prevent this from happening.  Hilsendeger said, "Keep them secured in your yard, you know. Either a fenced in yard or tie them up and always, either keep a name tag on them or get them city licensed cause if they`re licensed we can return them to you that day."  The warden says people are more apt to dump their pets outside when it`s warm if they can`t take care of it or don`t want it anymore because they think the animal will be able to talk care of itself.  "Anybody that thinks that their dog or cat will never get out, I got a pound full of animals that proves differently," said Hilsendeger.

And by the time summer rolls around, the warden says the pound will be a lot more full. The warden encourages pet owners to spay and neuter their pets and to keep a watchful eye on them when they`re outside.

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So, even though this article came from North Dakota, remember that your pets which have perhaps been confined indoors for most of the colder months may do their best to get out in the "open spaces" in order to stretch their matter where you live.

By far, the most common mode of transportation for summer fun is the family vehicle.  There are ways to make the vehicle environment safer for you and your pets:

Keep your four-legged friends safe this summer driving season

As tens of thousands of local drivers prepare to hit the highways for the extended Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, many will include family pets in their travel plans. Unfortunately, while most travelers will be sure to detail their itineraries and outline a route to their destinations, many will leave out an important part of preparing for the trip: taking the necessary steps to keep their beloved animals - and themselves - safe on the roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over the last five years, 7.2 million people have been involved in automobile accidents caused by distractions while driving their vehicles.  "While distractions caused by the use of communication devices and other technologies are commonplace, other behaviors - including those related to managing concerns like pets - are also leading causes, endangering the lives of pets and people alike," said Chris Conner, Allstate spokesperson. "Planning and preparation are necessary to ensure smooth travel with family pets."

According to both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) pet owners can help make car trips safer for their pets, themselves, and fellow drivers by following these simple travel tips.

General Safety Tips for Cats and Dogs

* If your pet is unaccustomed to car travel, take it for a few short rides before your trip.

* Consider whether your pet is comfortable when traveling. Some animals, like some people, function better in familiar surroundings. Having its favorite food, toy(s), and dishes available will help make your pet more at ease.

* Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt can enter the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection.

* Stick to your regular feeding routine (with small portions of food and water) and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you reach your destination.

* Dispose of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated. Take along a plastic jug of cold water in case other reliable water sources are not available.

* Plan to stop every two hours for exercise.

* If you must leave your pet in a parked car, be sure to lock all doors, park in a shady area, and open windows wide enough to provide ventilation without enabling your pet to jump out or get its head caught. Be aware of weather conditions. You should not leave your pet in a parked car when the temperature and/or humidity are high or when temperatures are near or below freezing.

* Bring a pet first-aid kit with you. The kit should contain emergency vet contact information, bandages, prescribed medication, etc.

* Remember to include a leash with your pet's traveling supplies.

Dog Safety Tips

Dogs tend to be more willing to ride in the car than cats. Drivers can benefit from this enthusiasm, while keeping their overall safety in mind.

* Keep your dog in the back seat, away from air bags. If an air bag deploys, it could seriously harm or kill your dog due to its child-like size and fragility.

* Use a pet harness specifically made for dogs. These harnesses protect their chest area in sudden impacts or stops. Do not treat your pet like a human by strapping it into the car seat belt. These belts are engineered for people, not canines.

* Never let your pet ride in your lap or unsecured in a seat. If an accident happens, they become deadly, free-flying objects.

Cat Safety Tips

In general, cats tend to be more anxious about car trips, so it may take more coaxing to get them in the car and keep them safe.

* Do not let your cat ride in your lap, even if it helps provide comfort. If an impact occurs, cats can become deadly, free-flying objects. Cats also may try to crawl behind the pedals when they are nervous, which could cause an accident or injuries to both you and your cat.

* Keep your cat in a padded carrier that is secured by a seat belt. Cats tend to feel more comfortable in a kennel than out in the open. The carrier padding will provide a cushion against sudden stops or jolts.

* Keep travel as smooth as possible. Drape a towel over the carrier (without obstructing air flow), minimize sudden stopping or acceleration and keep a calm atmosphere in the car.

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Here is another viewpoint on keeping your dog safe while traveling in your family vehicle:

Unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents annually, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the Travel Industry Association of America says 29 million Americans have traveled with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more in the past five years. With those kinds of numbers, it's important to remember that pets have special needs on the road.

Different drivers approach the issue with different degrees of hands-on management.  "I don't allow any dogs on the front seat," says Ariel Freiheit of Connecticut. "I just block their access with a 'no.'"

But the rear seat isn't always a guarantee of safety. Dog owner Jack Ridge of New York learned the lesson first hand.  "Just having the dog in the back really is no protection," said Ridge. "Before I started putting my beagle in a restraint, I had her in the back once and had to slam on my brakes. No accident, no skidding -- just hard braking. She went right between the two front seats and ended up almost on top of the gear shift."

Restrain Your Dog

Andrea Arden, trainer on the Animal Planet's "Dogs 101" and author of "Dog-Friendly Dog Training," reminds owners that while dogs want to be free, keeping them in place keeps them safer.  "Always restrain your pet for safe car travel," Arden said. "Unrestrained pets can be a distraction to drivers and can get injured if the car makes a sudden stop or is involved in an accident even at low speeds. Secure your pet in a crate or with a harness to keep them safe."

Harnesses and crates are fine for small and medium-sized dogs, but pose challenges for dog-owners with big dogs. "I would love to use a harness but my dogs can't stand it," says animal lover Orlando Clarke. "They panic and get tangled up. I got an SUV just to have a big enough rear to contain them. It works pretty well since the entire area behind rear seats can be blocked off."

Don't Put Your Dog On Your Lap

One of the biggest hazards, not only to pets but also to their owners and even other drivers, is the motorist who insists on keeping Fluffy on their lap, which makes it impossible for drivers to respond immediately to road emergencies. The animal can also be hit by passing cars if it bolts out of the vehicle after a crash.

Hawaii is currently the only state that bans drivers from operating a vehicle with a pet on their lap, but Oregon lawmakers are considering legislation and some cities are taking action, too. Troy, a suburb of Detroit, passed a bill banning dogs from lap-riding on January 1 of this year. Still, others are giving drivers and their pets a little more freedom. In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a California bill that would have fined drivers $35 for sharing the driver's seat with lapdogs or other animals, saying the bill wasn't a priority. A Republican assemblyman had introduced the bill after seeing a woman driving with three dogs on her lap.

The issue has gained attention in recent years as the issue of distracted driving elevates in the public's consciousness. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although it's difficult to assign the number of those where pets were involved. In perhaps one of the most famous incidents of distracted driving involving a pet, author Stephen King suffered several broken bones and a collapsed lung in 1999 when he was hit by a driver who claimed he was distracted by his dog.

Pet-Friendly Vehicles

Auto manufacturers have responded to car-buyers' requests for pet-friendly wheels in recent years. The Honda Element, which is in its final model year of production, features the following optional equipment:

-A cushioned pet bed in the cargo area with an elevated platform
-Second row and cargo area pet restraint systems

-An extendable cargo area load-in ramp

-A 12V DC rear ventilation fan

-Second-row seat covers with a dog pattern design (matches the bed fabric)

-All-season rubber floor mats with a toy bone pattern

-A spill-resistant water bowl

"In an interesting turn of events, cars are now chasing dogs," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "Factory integration of a cushioned pet bed, restraint systems and other components is intended to transform the Element into the ultimate dog car."

Toyota's Venza is similarly equipped, and we can expect more manufacturers to offer the options in coming years.

Pet Insurance

Keeping your pet safe while you're driving also makes good financial sense, as anyone who's ever gotten a through-the-roof veterinarian bill knows. Progressive Insurance offers vehicle insurance to protect your dog (or cat) in the event of a crash, paying up to $1,000 if a customer's pet is hurt or dies as a result of an accident. Chubb insurance also offers up to $2,000 in coverage for pets injured or killed in a crash, even if the animal is being pulled in a trailer, although its coverage is limited to Arizona, Maryland, Texas and New Jersey.

Progressive offers the following tips to help keep Fido safe in the car:

Don't let dogs ride with their head out of the window. They can easily be injured by debris flying into their eyes.

Get your pet used to the car and make them feel comfortable. Often, the only time pets ride in the car is when they're visiting the vet, so they may not always associate a car ride with positive feelings and may even be afraid to ride in the car. Teach them instead that car rides can be fun by taking them for short road trips to a dog park or a friend's house for a play date.

Make sure your pet has proper identification. Just in case he or she gets lost while traveling, you want to be sure your pet is wearing up-to-date ID tags with an emergency contact phone number and what, if any, reward is offered for the pet's safe return.

Prepare a doggie bag. Make sure it contains clean-up supplies, a towel, portable feeding/watering bowls, food and water, a pet first aid kit, and toys to keep them busy and well behaved.

You wouldn't let a member of the family dive from the front seat to the back seat to the rear of your car, hang their head out of any available window or climb all over your lap while you try to drive, would you? Don't let your loyal canine do it, either.

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As an addendum to the last article, two more states now are considering legislation that would prohibit a dog being loose in the moving vehicle or sitting in the driver's lap....

For those of you who might be traveling by air with your pet, Helpful Buckeye has thoroughly covered those considerations in previous issues.  See those references at:


One new regulation for air travel with pets in now being enforced.  Several airlines have placed restrictions on the bulldog breeds as well as some of the other short-faced dogs and cats, all of which make up a high percentage of shipping fatalities.  The details:

This serves as an odd, but justifiably decent, piece of news of the day: Delta has banned three breeds of bulldogs from their flights, after learning that a high percentage of dog deaths on their planes were from that canine family, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The new no-fly list was created in response to a Delta study that showed that 6 of the 16 pet deaths on the airline were from the bulldog family.  Of the 16 pets that died on Delta flights in 2010, six were bulldogs. A Delta spokesman told the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" that the airline saw a pattern involving animals that were prone to respiratory issues.

Michael Markarian, the COO of the Humane Society of the United States, called Delta's move a "sensible response". Many short-faced cats and dogs, such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats, have difficulty breathing, especially in confined cargo holds.  Other carriers such as AirTran and Southwest only allow pets that can fit in under-seat carriers to fly; American banned snub-nosed dogs and cats last fall.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black told the paper: "The decision to transport animals ultimately comes down to the owner. Our goal is also to continue to work to do a better job of communicating processes and procedures in preparing animals to travel."
Of course a more sure-fire--albeit more expensive--solution for pet owners would be to fly your pet on PET Airways, which now services nine cities around the country.

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But what if the vacation cannot include the pets?  There are several options to consider, the two most common being a boarding facility and a pet sitter.  Boarding kennels have upgraded their offerings in recent years.  This article describes what is available at such a facility in Las Vegas as well as some comments from a professional pet sitter:

Pet day care centers, pet sitters alleviate worries

As the hot days of summer quickly approach, slews of thoughts are probably swirling through your brain: What should we buy for Aunt Betty's 80th birthday? Should we sign the kids up for swim classes at the Y? And, oh yeah, we're going on vacation in two weeks, what should we do about the animals?

Not to worry. There's plenty of professional help available in the form of pet day care centers, where you can drop your dogs and cats off during the day or for weeks while you're at work or on vacation. And there's also perfect strangers willing to become adopted members of your family as pet sitters, eager to take a canine or feline off your hands for a while .

Brandie Haggan, manager at Paradise Bay Pet Resort, 6360 S. Pecos Road, says her business starts picking up shortly after Easter break and it gets into full swing by June. Doors open from 7 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The day care center has a 2,000-square-foot temperature-controlled arena for dogs to romp around, while overnighters get their choice of rooms or suites. Socializing, an adult form of extended happy hour, is ongoing from 6:30--11 p.m. daily.

"If you really want to spoil your dog, we have TV and twin beds," Haggan says. "We have people who board their dogs for 30 days, but the average is 10 days."  Haggan emphasizes that it's important to cater to owners' special requests with regards to diets for their pets, favorite toys during play time and, if television is provided, making sure the animal's favorite show is on. Basic grooming is also provided that includes teeth and ear cleaning, nail clipping and bathing.

Paradise Bay Pet Resort charges $20 a day for day care and from $40 to $65 a night for boarding. It also offers a free day of day care for first-time visitors.  "The popularity of day care has definitely increased," Haggan says. "On average, we have around 25 dogs in the arena during play time and sometimes up to 40 dogs. With that many dogs, you have to monitor their every move. But so far, we haven't had any jail breaks."

Besides dogs, Haggan says they also accept cats but not more than four at a time. They aren't as sociable as dogs and usually can't be put together in one arena. Some people also bring their unusual pets into day care from time to time.  "We take ferrets and rabbits," Haggan says. "We get two rabbits who come in on a regular basis."

In an effort to further accommodate owners' schedules, Haggan explains that half day, or four hours of day care, can be purchased for $10.

"People need to plan ahead before taking their pets to day care," Haggan emphasizes. "They need to make sure their pets have had all their vaccinations, and they need to research facilities before going anywhere."

Haggan says pet owners in Las Vegas are "over-the-top animal lovers" and are willing to spend both money and time in making sure their dogs and cats are cared for properly when left with day care centers. Some owners are willing to spend $1,000 to board their pet for 30 days, Haggan points out. Of course for that tidy sum, the pet is guaranteed its own room, and probably TV.

Some pet owners prefer to keep their pets at home rather than drop them off during the day or for any extended length of time. This is where pet sitters come into play. Mary Moses, owner of Affordable Pet Sitters, has been showing up at people's doors for more than four years to either take their pets for walks or sit at home with them until their masters return.

"I do this seven days a week," Moses says. "You can start at 4 or 5 in the morning and go until 9 or 10 at night. And you work all the holidays. I'm going from 4 in the morning until 10 at night during Christmas."  Moses says most of her home visits last about 30 minutes, which includes making sure the pet has food and water and taking the animal for a walk. The cost is $19. A 40-minute visit is $25 and a 60-minute stay costs $32. Overnight pet care, which includes staying in the customer's home, costs $54 and goes from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Moses says she pet sits all animals including dogs, cats, horses, chickens and ferrets. She's even taken care of desert tortoises.  "I have one desert tortoise that weighs 80 pounds," Moses says with a chuckle. "When I'm out in the park walking, I pick dandelions. Tortoises love the stems."

Moses is a member of the Southern Nevada Association of Professional Pet Sitters. SNAPPS, according to its website, is a networking organization for professional pet sitters who do business in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and surrounding communities. Its members are licensed and insured and in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Moses suggests that anyone considering hiring a pet sitter to first make sure he or she is a member of SNAPPS.

"A lot of pet sitters are not licensed," Moses explains. "We are required to be licensed. People should ask pet sitters to show them their license and ask if they are bonded."

"I have had situations where I had to move into a person's home for six months," Moses says. "I had an insurance adjuster who had to go to New Orleans after (Hurricane) Katrina. You have to work with what the customer wants and make them feel comfortable. It's not about the money. It's about what's best for them and their pets."

Moses says most people don't realize that pet sitters are an available resource. She points out that cats, and especially older dogs, feel much more comfortable staying in their own home instead of being dropped off at a place that may seem strange to them. And some dogs and cats, she adds, may feel uncomfortable being around other animals.

When asked whether she had ever refused to pet sit an animal due to a bad experience from a previous encounter, Moses emphatically says, "No."  She added, "I have never had a situation where I wouldn't go back because of the animal. I have had a situation where I wouldn't go back because of the owner."

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Some considerations for dog owners to think about before choosing a day care/boarding facility for their dog are:

Sniff around before putting your precious pooch in day care

It's a dog-greet-dog world at day care centers that cater to canine clients. In many regions across the U.S., these centers provide a place for owners to leave their canine companions while they are at work. Some even offer options that include board, grooming, and training.

A dog owner needs to ask a lot of questions before making a commitment. And a good day care center will be asking questions too: Dogs go through a behavior screening process before being accepted.

Not all dogs are the right candidate, said Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Some dogs don't get along well with other dogs," he said. And older dogs, he added, are "less ready to be involved in boisterous playing. They want to go for a walk in the morning and curl up on a cushioned chair and spend the day sleeping."

Diane Livoti, co-owner of Metro Dog in Richmond, Calif., said these centers are for dogs that are already socialized, not places for a dog to become socialized.

So, how to choose a place for your pup?

"Talk to friends and get some recommendations. Talk to dog owners and people who are using the service," Zawistowski said.  When visiting a center, don't bring your dog, which could distract your focus.

Consider how dogs are separated into play groups, said Sara Scott, owner of What's Up Dog?, an Oakland, Calif.-based dog training service.  "You want to look for someone who divides dogs up by size and temperament," such as an active dog group, a puppy group and an older dogs group, she said.  Also make sure there are rest times. "You don't want the dog playing eight hours a day," Scott said.
 Per-day rates in California's Bay Area range from $25 to $40. The price typically does not include dog chow, which is provided by the owner or by the center for an extra charge. Some centers may also offer monthly passes or packages of 10 or 20 visits that can reduce the cost.

Other things to consider:

1) The staff-to-dog ratio should be "anywhere from one person to 10 to 15 dogs, or 20 at the outside," Zawistowski said. Play groups, however, should have six to 10 dogs.

2) Make sure the center has vaccination requirements, along with a policy for handling emergencies if dogs get sick or injured. "If something happens, it's good to know there is somebody in place who can do some basic first aid. They should have a vet on emergency call," Zawistowski said.

3) Check to see if some of the personnel who work with the dogs are certified professional dog trainers, he said.

4) In addition, don't just notice if the dogs look happy. The staff members should seem happy and engaged in what they are doing, said Ingrid McKenney, spokeswoman for the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, Calif. "It's just a good indication of how a business is run. (Employees should) enjoy what they are doing and enjoy working with animals," she said. "You could read a lot from those interactions as well."

5) Bring your dog in for a half-day visit and gauge how Buster acts when you bring him home. "You'll have a feeling about your dog," Zawistowski said. "Are they stressed from having spent time there or do they seem relaxed?"

Red flags for Rover

Here are a few things to be on guard for when visiting dog day-care centers:

1) Overcrowding: The optimal size of a dog day-care facility is 100 square feet per large dog, and 50 to 60 square feet per small or medium dog.

2) Limited access: Avoid any day care that prohibits dog guardians from visiting their dog at any time, with or without advance notice, and those that do not allow you to tour the entire facility and observe play groups before signing your dog up.

3) Unwillingness to meet your dog's needs: A conscientious day care will accept and honor your request that your dog receive a special diet or medication.

4) Poor customer service: Loving dogs is not enough. Staff members also should be courteous and friendly to human clients.

5) Dogs left unattended: If a second person is not available at all times for backup, the day care should have arrangements for another employee to arrive quickly if an emergency requires the regular attendant to leave.

Adapted from:,0,2669616.story
Some considerations to help you decide if a pet sitter is the right choice for your situation:
Pet Sitters Give Animal Parents Peace of Mind

Just because you have furry children at home doesn't mean you can't plan a spontaneous getaway for Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to the growing profession of pet sitting, animal owners now have an easy option for getting quality care that allows optimum comfort for their pets and the freedom to have fun away from home.

According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, pet sitting is one of the nation's fastest growing industries and offers the best of all worlds for pets and their owners. Rather than relying on friends or family or putting a pet through the potential trauma or health risks associated with kennels or travel, pet sitting allows animals to stay in their familiar environment, maintain their diet and exercise routine and receive loving attention from caring professionals.

Ben Hills of Leesburg, Virginia was recently able to leave on a last-minute trip when he found a pet sitter for his two dogs through Sittercity.

"I like the fact that the sitters came to me," said Hills, who works for AOL. I had a blowout Vegas trip and a week to find a dog walker. I posted the job, and had 15 responses in a day. I chose the one that I felt I could connect with my dogs based on the profile. When I came back, they were happy."

Booming Business and Big Benefits

Most pet sitters feed, walk, and play with the animals they're hired to care for, but some more experienced sitters also may be required to bathe, train, or groom them. Most watch over dogs and a few take care of cats.

The pet sitting business has been fueled by the common belief that pets are happiest when they're home, surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds. Plus, pet ownership in the United States is continually on the rise. Currently, 63 percent of all American households have pets, including 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 16 million birds as well as fish, hamsters and other animals, according to the most recent America Pet Products Association National Pet Owner Survey.

"True animal lovers were the first to recognize the need for the Petting Sitting business. They were the ones who took it the hardest when they were forced to see what their pets went through when they were forced to travel with their owners, or how they behaved after being picked up from a kennel after a week or more away from home." writes Ian White of "Truthfully, these individuals could not enjoy their trips for worry. These were individuals who hung a stocking for their pet at Christmas, and made them a birthday cake on the pet's special day each year."

White also points out the additional benefits of pet sitting, including picking up the mail and newspaper, watering plants or simple tasks to increase home security. For example, opening the curtains on one visit and closing them on the next will give the home a lived in look.

Pet sitters work independently or through agencies. Online resources are a fast and convenient way to find providers in your area. Sittercity, for example, is a subscription-based service that helps users locate various types of qualified in-home care providers, including pet sitters.

According to Sittercity, the many benefits to the pet as well as the owner make pet sitting a popular choice. Experts agree pets tend to experience reduced stress when cared for at home rather than a boarding kennel or traveling with their owners. Keeping a pet's daily routine, less exposure to disease in boarding environments, personalized attention and play time as well as maintaining consistent feeding schedules can help prevent digestive and psychological problems, resulting in a calmer, healthier animal upon your return home.

Finding a Pet Sitter

Depending on your needs, you can find a pet sitter skilled in basic care or more advanced skills, such as training, grooming and housebreaking. You'll want to make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured. Sittercity provides suggested interview questions as well as advice on checking references and the hiring process.

Above all, take advantage of your own gut instinct and know that at the end of the process comes priceless peace of mind that your pet will be happy and well cared for. That's what happened for Kathy P., a Sittercity subscriber in Holbrook, New York.

She writes: "Thanks to Sittercity, we found a wonderful, caring pet sitter whose passion truly is animals - she treats our dogs like they're family!"

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Lastly, if money is no object, and you are traveling around the world with your pet, you might want to consider one of these luxury pet hotels:   Be sure to watch the short videos that accompany the article...these are pampered pets!
OK, now Helpful Buckeye has gotten you to the point at which you're ready to hit the road with your pet.  Part 2, next week, will address some of the concerns you might face during your travels.
The Dallas Mavericks will play the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals which begin this Tuesday.  You already know that Helpful Buckeye will be cheering for Dallas.

The patron saint of bicyclists, Madonna of Ghisallo, was smiling on Helpful Buckeye this past week as I happened to choose the only day of the week that did not have winds in the 30-40 MPH range to do my 70-mile ride.  I'm calling it "70 miles at 7000 ft." and it was the first event of my 2011 Quadathlon.  It was a fun ride along both Lower and Upper Lake Marys and around Mormon Lake, complete with a Common Egret, Great Blue Herons, several Ospreys, a Coyote, a couple Red-Tailed Hawks, and some Prairie Dogs.  Desperado surprised me with a "Welcome Home" fanfare when I pulled into our driveway and we celebrated later that evening with a couple of our buds (not the beer!).  My next event is scheduled to take place in Colorado in July.  More particulars to follow....

Since Arizona will be celebrating its 100th year of statehood 14 February 2012, there has been a lot of encouragement to visit places around the state (not to mention, shorter trips use less gasoline!).  I've been looking at a couple of 1-2 day trips in Arizona for this summer and have zeroed in on 2 that look pretty interesting.  Combined with the short trips we've already taken this year in our state, we find that we have been following the advice of Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, 1947-1964: “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” 
Enjoy the beginning of your summer and come back next week for the second part of this discussion.

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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