Snow Boots for River!

River - Muttluk Debut inside 2014River - Muttluk Debut Portrait in Snow

River has some new shoes! That’s right. River wears boots when he goes outside for walks now. Despite his show of freezing in place and not being able to put his paw down properly after I put a boot on and the occasional side-eye, since the winter salt went down on the roads and sidewalks River has only gone out with his Muttluks. And besides, once he’s outside he just wants to keep going and forgets his embarrassment.

Last winter, I thought River would do okay without boots because we had been diligent about paw wiping after walks in our old neighborhood, but this was a new neighborhood and they put out more salt on the sidewalks than we were prepared for. Before too long, River’s pads were cracked and painful. His walks became potty breaks directly outside of our building’s main door, maybe he would get halfway down the sidewalk, but it was difficult. I would wipe his paws free of salt and ice with simple ingredient, fragrance-free gentle baby wipes then apply a balm to his pads multiple times a day but nothing helped as much as spring arriving that year. Read more about road salt and pet safety here.

Not willing to make the same mistake again, I measured River’s paws and got him the best pair(s) of winter dog boots I knew! Muttluks are made in Canada and they have been making them since 1994. I found out about them when I read a book called “Following Atticus,” which tells the story of a man and his dog who hike in New Hampshire. It tells so much more than that, those two really have a special bond, and I highly recommend it. As you would imagine, it snows a lot up there in New England. Atticus’ paws were getting sensitive from all the salt on the sidewalks in town and he would spend a lot of time hiking in the snow, so Tom, the owner and author, got him Muttluks to protect his feet so that they could enjoy the outdoors more safely.

And that’s all I wanted for River as well. He really loves his walks and will often find a good spot to stop and sniff the air for several minutes, but if I let him he might stop for 20 minutes just to nature watch. Instead of being reduced to only having potty breaks and indoor playtime, River gets his usual 30-40 minute walks AND indoor playtime! I really love the design of his fleece-lined boots. Not only do they keep a barrier between him and the salt, but they keep his paws warm even after 40 minutes outside and the Velcro strap is reflective and easily adjustable for a perfect fit.

Unless you have a fenced yard where you can let your dog out and they do not have to encounter the main roads and sidewalks, chances are you and I are wiping paws after each walk to help prevent irritation and damage to their pads. And if you do have a yard, you’re likely to wipe anyway because you don’t want snow or mud in your house either – who would!

We have gotten better at putting his boots on more quickly, but River still gives me a little embarrassed look as we get ready. But I’d much rather have him feeling a little embarrassed or have a neighbor chuckle when spotting his boots than to have River hobbled by the pain of walking outside in winter.

I’m so happy River got his Muttluks in time for the snowfall last week!

Take care,

Carolina

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Demystifying the Overnight Stay: The Pet Sitter aka The Nanny

River Curled Up on My Bed -Black Border Website Only

When you book overnight pet sitting with River Walks Pet Care, it’s like having an attentive nanny stay over in your home and watch your beloved “fur kid” when you cannot be there. Because each pet is different, each overnight is different but certain patterns stay the same. It is those patterns which I’ll be sharing with you here. Note: Overnight stays do not include midday visits however midday visits are strongly recommended when booking overnight pet sitting for your dog. Also, this language speaks mostly to a dog’s needs however overnight pet care is not exclusively limited to dogs.

First, let’s run the numbers. If you were to purchase the top tier luxury package at a local boarding facility with a web-cam in your pet’s private room, it would be about $95 a night for one pet. If you wanted a house sitter to stop by your home and maintain a “lived-in” look, that would be another $25-30 a day. Boarding your pet plus booking a house sitter could cost you about $120 per day.

An overnight stay for one pet in the safety and comfort of their own home is $80 through River Walks Pet Care starting October 1st onward. When you book an overnight stay for your pet with me, you are saving about $40 per day.

Now let’s break it down by how many hours of individualized attention your dog receives during the non-sleeping portions of the overnight stay. If we call it a day at 11 or midnight, your dog will have had active companionship for four to six hours. And that’s just the first part of the overnight stay, because in the morning they’ll have my company and care for another hour or two before I leave for the day.

Arrival time is between 6-8pm and the overnight stay lasts about 12 hours. I send you, the client, a text message when I arrive so that you know the minute your pet has company again and that your overnight has begun. The text message alert, while popular, is an option and you can say if you’d rather skip it. If a client does not specify, I will continue text message alerts at the start of every night.

As soon as I arrive, I take your dog out into the fenced yard or for a walk – whichever he’s used to. Then I serve him dinner and fresh water as well as administer any medication, if needed. All medication and supplements are included in the price of the overnight as I object to “nickel and diming” clients for simply working to keep their pet healthy. The only exception is insulin injections as properly handling needles and a diabetic pet’s needs is a higher skill, however, depending on the severity of the case it may be best to kennel the diabetic pet with your veterinarian.

After dinner, if he is used to going out into the yard again, I’ll take him out again. Or perhaps your dog is used to eating before going out for his evening walk, then that is fine and his routine will be maintained. There is usually some quiet time, some settling in time following the dog’s dinner to avoid regurgitation, upset stomach, or worse – bloat. While I am partially there to play and exercise your dog, I will do so after they have had some time to digest.

The evening is spent as close to normal for your dog as possible, almost as if you were there. I’m there to give them lots of love and attention!

*If he is used to climbing on the couch next to you and watching some tv while being pet, then that’s what he’ll get.

*If he is not allowed on the couch but does enjoy lying beside you (or on you) on the living room rug, then that’s what we’ll do.

*If the client allows treats or the use of a small handful of kibble as treats, then I will refresh his memory with some simple tricks – sit, paw, down, wait, or touch. And please let me know if your pet knows more or has different words as cues for doing this or that.

*If your dog is playful dog, then surely I’ll be playing fetch every day inside or outside, whatever you allow or what they are used to.

*If your dog loves to destroy toys and is allowed to do so, then I will be there to closely supervise to prevent the swallowing of toy stuffing, fabric, or squeakers. I’m not squeamish about opening a dog’s mouth to remove a choking hazard such as the piece of a toy.

*If your pet enjoys being brushed, then I am there to brush them every day and make sure they’re matt-free and relaxed.

*I am always aware of where your pet is and what they are up to. After all, personalized supervision and care is what I’m there for.

Your dog will get at least one more night time outing before we turn in for bed. Your dog will sleep wherever he is used to sleeping when you are home whether that’s in the bed with you or tucked into the crate at night with a blanket on top. I’m there to keep their night time routine as normal as possible.

Every single night, I email a detailed report to you to let you know the latest with your pet – how they’re doing, if they’re eating well, what we played, were he cuddled up, etc. Also – you’ll receive pictures of your pet each night! I know that sometimes hearing about something isn’t as good as seeing it, not to mention the added assurance of my arrival and time spent with your pet. I believe you can tell how your pet is feeling by these pictures and I believe it helps relieve some homesickness for them while you are away.

While I am there for the night, I may have to leave to check on my dog, River, if no one else can let him for his last walk of the day or I may grab some dinner very quickly. However, other than that I do not leave the overnight stay. Additionally, no one else is coming over to your home – unless you are continuing with your housekeeper’s schedule. If housekeeping or lawn service or any other service team is scheduled to arrive during the pet sitting schedule, please let me know prior to the start of the overnights and let me know if the schedule should be different on any of those days.

In the morning, your dog gets their morning walk or yard outing as well as breakfast and fresh water. I take care of them before I get myself ready for the day and leave about 12 hours after I arrived the night before.  I’ll do a final check to make sure every door is locked that should be locked, gates are up and/or dogs are where they should be in the house. If you have a home security system you’d like me to set, then that will be set as usual.

As a general rule when walking a client’s pet, I avoid other dogs and people and will continue to do so during overnight stays even if your dog is best buddies with the neighbor’s dog. The limiting of interaction with other dogs and people decreases the chances of negative encounters occurring such as bites, fights, injuries, and/or the spread of illness occurring with the client’s pet or with me, the pet sitter. Keeping everyone safe is the biggest concern and keeping your pet happy, healthy, and safe is why you chose in-home pet sitting in the first place.  

Care instructions for each pet should be shared via email or in person in advance. Of course last minute notes typed up and left at the first visit in a common area (ie: foyer, kitchen, living room) will also be respected. You may request a home visit prior to the overnight stays even if you have been a dog walking client exclusively for a long time as overnight care instructions are more extensive and include details and instructions on the home in general.

House Sitting Duties – When you book an overnight stay, you are also booking a house sitter who will bring in the mail and any packages sent for you, water your plants if you’d like – indoor and outdoor, alternate lights and curtains, as well as check the basement or a “trouble spot” in your home for leaks if you’d like. Additionally, you’ll have the visual of having a car parked in your driveway all night to show that someone is home and that the house is not vacant.

I hope this helps to paint a thorough picture of what can be expected with an overnight pet sitting visit. My goal is to help ease the worry of leaving your pets at home when you travel and to limit your pet’s stress. My overnight stays are structured the way I would want them to be if I were the client booking overnight pet sitting for my own dog, River.

If you have any additional questions or would like to book an overnight stay, please contact me at riverwalkspetcare@gmail.com or 410.934.0056.

 

Thank you,

Carolina Rodriguez

Create a Safe Space for Your Pet in 2 Easy Steps

It’s that time again! Time for barbecues and sparklers and fireworks. All good fun for us humans, but a scary time for most of our pets.

Generally our dogs and cats are terrified of the sound fireworks make because they sound like dangerous explosions (and they are, when you don’t keep a safe distance). Our pets don’t understand why it’s happening and they don’t know what’s coming next. Plus we have to remember that their senses are more sensitive than ours, so they hear and feel more than we do. Therefore, it only makes sense that they become highly anxious and scared during our Independence Day celebrations.

But here are some simple ways to make it easy for them:

1.)    Find their spot. Dogs and cats will instinctively head for cover in insulated places when they perceive danger. That’s why they go for the closets or the bathroom or under the bed where they feel safe. Just like we were taught in school to go into the inner most part of our house during a tornado, their instincts lead them to safer places. Since your pet knows where to go, pay attention to where their spot is and make it more comfortable with their bed, some blankets, and something that smells like you (because your scent will help comfort them and feel less alone). Also, give them fresh water and a delicious, high-value treat (a treat they adore but do not receive often). They may or may not eat the treat because of nerves, and that’s okay. At least they’ll have it there in case they change their mind.

2.)    Counter the unfamiliar sounds from outside with something more calming inside. Perhaps your pet is used to the tv being on when you’re home. Or perhaps you typically leave the radio or slow and relaxing music on when you go to work. I love leaving my dog, River, at home with some calming classical or new age music. If you have a white noise machine, that might also help insulate your pet from the frightening sounds of the fireworks.

 

Hope you all have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!!

 

Take care.

Carolina Rodriguez

 

Friends as Dog Walkers vs. Professional Pet Care Providers

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It is fantastic to have friends and neighbors you can count on to check on your pets but constantly relying on them can not only strain your pleasant relationship, but the more you ask them to do during the visit, ask that they do this or that with your dog, the more they are going to feel like you are demanding too much and they are not getting paid nearly enough to do this “favor” for you.

My suggestion is to maintain your pleasant friendships by getting a professional dog walker or pet sitter. Our jobs are to cater to you and your pet’s needs. If you ask us to wipe your dog’s paws or rear after coming back inside, we’ll do it each and every time. If you ask us to put a lock on the crate because Buster earns his name by busting out of the crate unless the lock is on, then we’ll do it. If you ask us to absolutely and positively avoid any other dog outside on the street by making u-turns and/or crossing the street and blocking your dog’s view of the other dog with a parked car, then we’ll do it. This is all part of our jobs. It is also part of our jobs to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior because if we notice something odd, we’ll let you know. Even if it’s as unpleasant as your dog had diarrhea today or there were parts of his new toy in his #2, we’ll let you know about it and we’ll let you know when it is back to normal. Most of us also have experience with administering medication, should you need it.

I know that some of you may be thinking, okay but not all dog walkers are the same. Yes, that is true and sadly, not every professional service provider is as professional as the next. You as consumers and pet lovers can however make informed decisions and help curb the poor behavior of others by asking for references and reviews before you make a decision for your dog. You can also always have a “nanny cam” in the house or hidden by the door so you can make sure your dog walker is at least arriving at the appropriate time and spending the required time with your dog.

Each time I hear from someone who was dissatisfied with another dog walker or God forbid, had a horror story to share, I wish there was a better way of telling the good service providers from the others. I wish I could have helped them before they were screwed over by that negligent person or service.

So, please, do your research, shop around and find that perfect dog walker or pet sitter for you. Even if you won’t need service for at least a month or two! Isn’t it better to have a back-up plan set up before you need it than to be struggling to put a plan together at the last minute? Also, if your friends or neighbors still want to stay involved somewhat, ask them to keep a watch on your house or to check in periodically, especially if it’s a long trip, to make sure the pets are okay and have been cared for.

 

Take care.

Carolina Rodriguez

 

This blog and this information is free to all pet lovers, not just River Walks Pet Care clients. If you like the content of this blog and would like to help support it, please consider donating.
Thank you!

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3 Rainy Day Fixes for You & Your Dog

Luna Pillow Lap - Website only

Even though you have to take the dog out, you probably don’t want to be out in the rain too long. While you might be tired at the end of the day because of the effect of precipitation on commuter traffic, but for your dog the day is just get interesting. Here are some easy ways to shake things up and get their energy out without taking them on a long walk or a run.

1. Play the Find It Game – Use small pieces of treats, smelly treats work best, and drop them around the room and tell them to “find it.” I find that pointing as you say “find it” or “go get it” helps. You can also tap your foot once or twice near the location of a hidden treat on the floor to give your dog a clue.

2. Play Hide and Seek – If there’s two humans at home – even better! Have your dog sit and stay, then hide out of view. Hiding places can be behind the couch, around the corner, or behind the kitchen island. Then call them to you. Praise them and give them a little treat when they find you. This game goes more quickly when there is more than one person playing because when your dog finds you, the other person can hide and it makes it more challenging for your dog.

3. Play with those Toys – Buying a bunch of toys for your dog is great! But it’s much more fun for your dog when you engage them directly. Play fetch in the basement or in a long hall. Someplace carpeted might be best so they don’t go slipping around and potentially hurt themselves. You bought that tough rope toy for your big dog, now is a great time to play with it. Maybe tug-a-war with mom or dad is their favorite thing.

Hope this helps make your rainy days a little better. Have fun!

Take care.
Carolina Rodriguez

 

This blog and this information is free to all pet lovers, not just River Walks Pet Care clients. If you like the content of this blog and would like to help support it, please consider donating.
Thank you!

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Advice on Finding the Perfect Dog Walker or Pet Sitter

Recently an old friend asked me if I could help her find a dog walker. She had no idea where to start. Turns out I had a lot of information to share with her, so I’m sharing it with you in hopes that it will help in your own search.

Be ready to compare and contrast not only prices but levels of quality and service. There really isn’t a regulation when it comes to dog walkers or pet sitters so you’ll see a lot of variety, but there are things you can look for and ask beforehand.

Recommendations:

Bonded & Insured – You want either an individual or company that is bonded – in a nutshell, protects you against theft – and insured – protects your home & dog from damage. Feel free to ask what other credentials they have or what their specific experience has been.

References/Testimonials – If they are new, they may not have a website up and running or they might not have testimonials but they should always have a few references to share. Word of mouth in this business is GOLD.

Consultation – There should always be a consultation where you meet them at home before you sign up. And find out if the person you’re meeting is the representative OR indeed the person who will be taking care of your pet. Ask if it is free or not and if meeting the specific dog walker is extra or not.  I’d be wary of signing things before you meet the person or company representative – why do they want you to sign things before you’ve even met them in person?

Accountability – There should always be some sort of proof of the visit. How does the dog walker show they were there? Do they leave a hand written note or report card where they check off what the dog did? Do they have a GPS tracker or some sort of time stamp? Do they send a text or email at the end of every visit, like I do?

You get what you pay for – In this business, it is not always but very often true. You don’t want someone who is overworked, overtired, and OVERBOOKED taking care of your pets because they are more likely to shave off time in the visit so they won’t be late to the next client, not lock up properly, or not properly secure the dog before leaving. I’ve seen behind the curtain at two pet care companies and know from experience that often not all employees do this job for the love of pets, but because it’s just another job to them or an “easy job” that they do not take as seriously as they should. If you are feeling unsure about your pet care provider, it may be a good idea to set up a hidden camera or two in your home so you can see for yourself if they are arriving on time, spending the scheduled amount of time with your pets, and if they are indeed caring for your pets. It’s absolutely terrible when I hear stories of pet sitters simply arriving to pick up the check and leaving the pets uncared for, sometimes for days, until the owner returns. This further instills why references and/testimonials are so important.

 

Places to Start Searching:

Pet Sitters International – PetSit.com has the largest database for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. You just click up at the top – Locate a Pet Sitter – and enter your zip code. PSI is also the oldest international network of pet sitters. I’m a member and in a continuing education course with them. Many dog walkers are also with NAPPS, a similar but national network.

PetSitting.com – It’s a third party referral service free for those looking for professional dog walkers and pet sitters. They only work with bonded & insured professionals. You enter a little bit of information, not your address just neighborhood, and you are sent information on one or two services in your area. You can wait for them to contact you or contact them right away.

Care.com – It’s not just for babysitters anymore! It’s a great place to search for individuals, although some bigger companies are on there too. You can have access to background checks also. It’s free for a month and it’s easy to communicate with people. You can post an ad and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a whole bunch of applicants within a day.

Google – Of course, just doing a general internet search could bring up some services in your area. It’s a good place to start your search.

 

Take your time and do your research. You’re looking for someone to trust with your beloved pet in your own home while you are away. I hope you find the perfect pet sitter for you!

Take care.

Carolina Rodriguez

This blog and this information is free to all pet lovers, not just River Walks Pet Care clients. If you like the content of this blog and would like to help support it, please consider donating.
Thank you!

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Poisonous to Pets – Common House & Garden Plants

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In honor of Pet Poison Prevention Week – March 16-22, I am sharing information on how you can make your home and garden more secure for you and your pet. If you do have these plants around in your yard or neighborhood, good supervision can prevent any curious pets from eating what they should not be eating. Prevention is key. 

  • Amaryllis
  • Andromed
  • Apple seeds
  • Arrow grass
  • Avocado seed
  • Azalea
  • Bittersweet
  • Boxwood
  • Buttercup
  • Caladium
  • Castor bean
  • Cherry pits
  • Chokecherry
  • Climbing lily
  • Crown of thorns
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dumb cane
  • Elephant ear
  • English ivy
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth bulbs
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris bulbs
  • Japanese yew
  • Jasmine berries
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Jimson weed
  • Laburnum
  • Larkspur
  • Laurel
  • Locoweed
  • Marigold
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe berries
  • Monkshood
  • Mushrooms
  • Narcissus bulbs
  • Oleander
  • Peach
  • Philodendron
  • Poison ivy
  • Poinsettias
  • Privet
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow on the Mountain
  • Stinging nettle
  • Toadstool
  • Tobacco
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Walnut
  • Wisteria
  • Yew

 

For more information, visit or contact the Pet Poison Helpline available 24/7 or your local veterinarian.

 

Take care.

Carolina Rodriguez

The Kids are Alright

The Science Dog

childhuggingdog   Baby sitting on dog   baby with pit bull

child and dog 3  dogkid5  childwithdog

A SAMPLE OF “KIDS WITH DOGS” PHOTOS TAKEN FROM A 30-SECOND GOOGLE SEARCH

Disclaimer: If you are not horrified by these photographs (even worse….if you think they are cute), you are probably not going to like what follows.

A few statistics: According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of these reported bites, a large victim demographic is children under the age of 10. Children are most likely to be bitten severely enough to require medical care or hospitalization. They are also most frequently bitten by their own dog or by a dog who they know, such as the dog belonging to a neighbor or relative. Bites to the face and neck are common in children, most likely because of their size and the types of behavior that they engage in with dogs.

Why is this surprising? Really now. If I can find…

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