This may be a bit controversial, but we feel it needs to be said. With folks still working from home, the temptation to hold meetings, chat with friends and family or catch up on your social media while walking the dog is very high. But we’re begging you; please put your phone away while you’re walking your dog! We don’t allow our staff to use their phones while walking dogs for multiple reasons --all of them having to do with safety. Our jobs as pet sitters (and your job as guardians) is to keep your pets safe while in your hands. Your cell phone is a total attention sucker. There’s a reason why driving while holding a cell phone is now illegal in all 50 states. When you’re engaged with your cell phone, your attention is split and you aren’t fully engaged in either activity (chatting on the phone, driving, walking, etc.) And you may say, “I can multi-task”, sorry to say that multiple research studies debunk the myth of multitasking. You’re either doing one thing at a time well, or doing multiple things at the same time poorly.
The number one reason why we don’t allow our staff to talk on the phone is so they are alert to potential dangers while walking. Those same dangers we encounter, could happen to you too. Dangers such as cars backing out of a driveway, or pulling into a driveway, loose dogs, crazy cyclists, kids on skateboards on the sidewalk. If you’re engaged in conversation, you aren’t fully aware of these things and prepared to keep your dog safe.
Also, when your attention is focused on your phone, you’re not paying attention to what your dog is doing. Are they eating something they shouldn’t? Did they step in something? are they drinking fetid water from the gutter? We’ve seen people walking their dog so unaware of what their dog is doing that they didn’t stop to let the dog potty. Isn’t that the whole point of the walk?
The walk is time your dog has to bond with you and explore its environment. You’re together in this activity. Frankly, the walk is for the dog; not necessarily for the human. We’ve seen people so keen on speed walking, they don’t allow the dog to sniff or leave their mark on the neighborhood. Remember, you have the freedom to leave the house whenever you please. The walk is probably the only time your dog gets to leave the house and explore anything outside of its home.
The walk is mental stimulation for your dog, its exercise, it’s bonding time. Enjoy the outdoors with your dog. Take in the sights, the smells, the sounds. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of busy life. Learn from your dog. They are amazing teachers.
April is pet first aid awareness month. Did you know you should have a pet first aid kit that has the essentials for all the pets in your home? While you don’t really need one kit per pet, there are items that a dog can use, but a cat cannot (like a muzzle) and if you have a horse, they should have their own first aid kit in your trailer or tackroom --not at your house. If you do have a first aid kit for your pet(s), when was the last time you checked it to make sure all of the medications weren’t expired and it had everything you needed? This should be done about once a year. Make it in January to keep it easy to remember, new year, new first aid kit essentials.
You might be saying, “Great! That’s all well and good to have a first aid kit, but I don’t have the time to search up and down CVS and find the items needed to make a kit, and then ensure they’re safe for my dog and/or cat.” Luckily, there are a plethora of premade kits available with just a simple Google search. Chewy.com and Amazon have some great options. One of our favorite brands is Adventure Medical Kits. Available on Chewy.com for dogs (and people) of all different adventure levels, from your average dog to working dog, they have you covered. Chewy also has a great Equine Triage Kit available. For cats, the best one we found was on Amazon from ARCA
With so many great premade kits available online, we really don’t recommend building your own. It’s very time consuming and will cost much more than purchasing one. But if you really want to build your own, here is a short list of items we recommend: (1) adhesive bandage tape, (2) over the counter antibiotic ointment (dogs only), (3) antibiotic eye ointment, (4) antiseptic spray/lotion/powder, (5) betadine, (6) cotton bandage rolls, (7) cotton balls/swabs, (8) ear cleaning solution, (9) elastic bandage rolls, (10) hydrogen peroxide, (11) instant ice packs, (12) alcohol prep pads, (13) latex gloves, (14) muzzle or strips of cotton to create a muzzle, (15) tweezers, (16) non stick bandage pads, (17) petroleum jelly, (18) leash, (19) syringe without the needle, (20) rectal thermometer, (21) saline solution, (22) scissors, (23) gauze rolls, (24) styptic powder, (25) towels or blankets.
Also, it’s very important to know how to use all of these items. There’s nothing worse than to have the correct items and in an emergency, not know how to use them! Denise Fleck, of Sunny Dog Ink, is an amazing teacher of pet first aid and she has a great YouTube channel, where she teaches the basics of Pet First Aid and CPR.
One of the benefits of having us as your professional pet sitter and/or dog walker is everyone here is trained in Pet CPR and First Aid, and we renew this training every two years. In fact, we have a few team members up for renewal this year. Interested in joining us in learning Pet CPR and First Aid? We’re more than happy to send you a link to the class we’re attending online (or at least one very similar). Hopefully come next renewal time, we can take an in-person course again.
Easter is on Sunday (4/4/2021), so hard to believe! But with Easter comes it’s own share of pet safety concerns. From chocolate bunnies, to Easter basket grass, to family members not keeping doors closed, to Easter lilies, there are a few things to keep in mind this weekend.
Chocolate bunnies, plastic Easter eggs, candy, etc: Chocolate should not be ingested by any pet as it is toxic and requires an immediate vet visit. Do not offer your pet any Easter candy, no human candy is safe for pets as they contain fake colors, sugars and other chemicals that are dangerous to pets if ingested.
Easter Dinner: While a few bites of lean ham/meat (no fat) or plain green beans/veggies are ok, everything else should not be given to your pet. Onions, garlic, grapes are all toxic to pets, fatty foods can lead to gastrointestinal issues and pancreatitis. Avoid salty foods as well.
Easter Basket Grass: Jenn has personal experience with this one. Her childhood cat decided to eat the plastic Easter grass in her basket. This landed him at the emergency vet overnight while they worked to get him to pass it. Paper grass is a safer option, but even so, if your pet eats too much, it could cause a blockage and a visit to the emergency vet. So be mindful of your child’s Easter basket, and make sure it’s kept out of the reach of pets.
Family/friends gathering: If you’re having family and friends over for Easter this year, be sure to remind your guests to keep doors and gates closed so your pet does not escape. If your pet is feeling nervous about seeing a bunch of people after a year of really only seeing you and your immediate family (and possibly your dog walker), put your pet in a quiet room or in their crate for the duration of the gathering. Give them a safe bone or chew toy to keep them busy. Also play relaxing music or put on doggy/kitty TV for them.
Easter lilies: NO! These are not to be brought into your home if you have pets, no exceptions! All parts of the plant are toxic and absolutely deadly to cats. If you like the look of lilies, get a fake plant. The life of your pet is not worth a pretty flower.
Alcohol: NO! While it may seem cute to see your pup drink some beer or wine from your glass, it is not ok. Alcohol is very toxic to pets and just a little bit can lead to kidney failure.
While all these things need to be considered during Easter, we want you to enjoy the holiday with your family/friends and your pets as well. Happy Easter to those who celebrate and make it a safe one for you, your family and your pets.
Spring is here and the weather is warming up! It’s the perfect time to take your dog out to the park, stretch their legs and have a great time. We have a few great suggestions for getting out with your pup.
If your dog is good with dog parks we have a couple recommendations: Jeffrey Fontana Park in Almaden Valley is one of our favorites. It has a nice big area for larger dogs with water, plenty of pooper scoopers and the small dog area is great as well, also with water. Many pet parents leave toy donations here and the dogs just love playing with the toys. Another dog park we recommend is Miyuki dog park (which according to the website was San Jose’s first dog park!) This one is smaller with only one play area for both big and small dogs, but it is well maintained, has water, plenty of places for humans to sit and a nice grassy area just outside the gate. (Note: the website says no fountains available, but we can attest that there is water). If you live in Los Gatos, we also like the Los Gatos Creek Dog Park. This park has water, pooper scoopers, separate areas for small and big dogs and is well maintained. If you want to spoil your pup, one of the best parks around is located in the Morgan Hill Community Park at 171 West Edmundson. This park is huge with lots of grass, space to run, plenty of water, pooper scoopers and separate areas for large and small dogs. This is a great place to let your pup run till their heart's content, plus the added bonus of a small lake populated by duck.
Santa Clara County has plenty of beautiful locations to take your dogs hiking as well. Linked below is the guide of Dog Hikes around the Peninsula and South Bay from the Open Space Trust. A few of our local favorites include the Los Gatos Creek trail which is a very easy, paved winding trail that has many trailhead openings along its path. Plenty of doggy bag stations but do bring water. If you’re up for a challenge, Almaden/Quicksilver is a beautiful hike through the hills of Old Almaden and you may just learn some fascinating history about the area too. If you’re up for driving up 280 north for a bit, Arastradero Preserve is a lovely hiking spot that is not too difficult to traverse. But do bring bags and fill up your water bottle at the trailhead. As with all hiking spots, please keep your dog on leash. Many of these lovely hikes are also open to equestrians, and horses can be spooked by a dog approaching them. This can endanger your dog, you, the rider and the horse. Remember, always yield to horses when on the trail; that is not just me saying that, it is proper tail etiquette.
So if you’re ready to get your pup out for some fresh air, there are a plethora of options just right outside your front door or a short drive down the freeway. Take advantage of this beautiful area we live in. Right now the hills are green, the air is fresh and the weather is perfect! Get out there and enjoy.
San Jose Dog Parks
Los Gatos Dog Park
Professional Pet Sitters week may be over, but we always want to keep the conversation going about what it means to be a professional pet sitter; what you should expect from one and the advantages of hiring one. Let’s start with the definition of a pet sitter. In 1997, Patti Moran was successfully added “pet sitting” to the Random House Dictionary with the following definition “the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away”.
In a nutshell, that’s what we do best! Pet sitting includes the actual care the pet gets while their pet parent is away (feeding, giving medications, playing, etc), but it also includes dog walking as well “since it involves coming to the pet’s home to provide exercise and companionship." according to www.petsit.com.
So what does it mean to be a professional pet sitter? It means that we have chosen this as our career. We have dedicated ourselves to the betterment of our clients’ pets. And while a love for pets is a perfect way to start, it takes much more than that. There are so many things we need to learn and study to become the best professional pet sitters we can be (and the learning never ends).
We study animal behavior, best practices, the needs of different species of pets, signs to look for if something seems off, pet safety, personal safety, differences between various pet products/brands, plus the nitty gritty business and legal details. A professional pet sitter will dedicate themselves to excellence, continued education and great customer service. They will also be bonded, insured, have a local business license, client contracts, certifications in pet care/behavior/etc and have chosen pet sitting as their main job.
Ryan and I have taken our quest knowledge even further and have become Certified Professional Pet Sitters (CPPS) through Pet Sitters International (PSI). What does a CPPS entail? To “maintain the CPPS-Certified Professional Pet Sitter designation, pet sitters must:
What then should you expect from a professional pet sitter? A professional pet sitter will require a meet-and-greet before service begins so they can get to know you and your pet, as well as ensure they are the correct fit for your needs. Typically a meet-and-greet will last about an hour in which the sitter will ask many questions like, what is your pet's usual routine? What are they afraid of? Where does your cat hide? How is your dog on leash? What is your pet allergic to? How does your dog react to seeing other dogs on the walk? How do they react to loud noises? Any many more.
A professional sitter will also be willing and able so show any credentials they have such as business license, insurance, CPPS and more. And a professional sitter will also have a contract ready for you before the meet-and-greet or will be presented at the meeting.
This is the time for you to ask any questions you have and a professional sitter should be willing to answer any of them. We really want to form a relationship with you and your pet for many years to come, and we want you to be completely comfortable with us in your home and caring for your pets. You are entrusting us with some of your most precious things, your pets and your home and we take that very seriously.
What are the advantages of hiring a professional pet sitter? Including all the things above, a professional pet sitter provides peace of mind that your pet is in the best hands and will be cared for as you have instructed while you are away. If something were to go wrong, a professional pet sitter will immediately communicate with you and take necessary immediate action. A professional pet sitter will often go above and beyond for the pets they are caring for, simply because we love what we do!
Jennifer, CPPS has loved caring for animals since childhood, and she’s had quite a few throughout the years. From cats to dogs, to birds, hamsters, fish, guinea pigs, and even a horse; she’s had more four-legged family members than two legged ones!