Professional Pet Sitters

Professional Pet SittersMany families are animal lovers. That is why they usually have their own pets at home. There are even those who do not only have one or two pets but a lot more. Sometimes their children also have one pet each ending up with more than one kind of animal in the house.

There are those who have a dog pet at the same time a pair of lovebirds. There are those with a cat and a dog at the same time. There is no problem with that for as long as you can attend to their needs every day. However, what will happen if you decide to go on a family vacation? Or what if there’s a family reunion to attend in another city, who would then take care of your beloved pets?

Bringing all of them may not be a good idea since you have to take care of the kids as well as your other kids – the family pets! These creatures are also like babies who need your constant care and attention. They also have personal needs such as food, sleep, and play, How can you attend to all these while having a vacation? This is too stressful and tedious. You can never relax!

Although this may seem heartbreaking for those who really love their pets, sometimes they just can’t come with you wherever you go all the time. Most establishments also do not allow pets inside which may become a hassle for you and your family. So what will be your next resort? Well, there are professional pet sitters to take care of them while you are away and having that much-needed break!

You can hire a professional pet sitter and discuss to them your pet’s needs and other services that you may need from them. This may include taking care of the house at the same time while you are away. You will have to have a contract with your professional pet sitter stating their responsibilities to your pets as well as your agreed payment for their services.

If you are thinking that hiring a professional pet sitter might incur you a lot, you do not have to fret. Their services can be availed at reasonable prices, and of course, you have to agree beforehand about it. Usually you have to pay them either by hour, by day, or by appointment whichever you both agreed.


Hamster or Gerbil Pros and Cons of Each

pt1Having a hamster or gerbil as a pet can be a fun experience but, before you make a decision, you should learn more about the pros and cons of owning each animal.

Are These Animals Friendly?

Even though gerbils and hamsters are popular pet choices, the latter is not too fond of captivity. However, gerbils will make great pets as long as you buy more than one. Of course you have the option to purchase a single gerbil but since they are social animals you should purchase two so they can bond with each other.

If you do choose to purchase multiple hamsters and gerbils, it is a good idea to purchase two males. Female gerbils and female hamsters are aggressive with each other, but gerbil and hamster males get along well with one another. If you choose to buy a male and female gerbil or hamster, they should not be housed together, especially at a young age. You may also be interested to know that hamsters breed quickly.

Gerbils are ideal pets for children who have little or no experience caring for a small animal. This is due to the fact that gerbils are active throughout the day and rarely bite. Hamsters, however, do not like to be petted or held. Hamsters will bite when they are held or if they become irritated. And, although hamster bites do not cause serious danger, the bites are often painful. If you have young children, a hamster may not be the right pet choice for your family.

Inexpensive Maintenance

It is not expensive to purchase a hamster or gerbil, nor do you need a large budget to maintain them as pets. Most hamster cages come assembled, as well as any cage accessories you might want to purchase for your pet. Keeping a gerbil or hamster cage clean is also simple to do and it does not cost a lot of money. When purchasing a gerbil or hamster cage, you can spend as little as $50. Likewise, you may spend $50 a year on gerbil or hamster food, depending on the brand you purchase. When it pertains to these pets, their litter and bedding materials are the most expensive part of owning either of the two.

Sleeping Patterns

You should know the sleeping patterns of any pet before making a purchase. If you want to sleep well during the night, a hamster is not the right choice for you. Since hamsters are nocturnal, they will spend most of the day sleeping, and their nights will be spent playing with hamster toys or running on the hamster wheel inside their cage. Hamsters do not like to be woken up for any reason, even to play.

Gerbils are diurnal; therefore, they will not interrupt your sleep by digging or moving around in their cage. Gerbils like to play during the day, which can be fun for you and your children.

Escaping the Cage

Sometimes, regardless of how attentive you are, gerbils and hamsters escape their cages. When a hamster escapes his cage, he will be difficult to find and capture. You should know that hamsters enjoy chewing on furniture and wiring. So, if your pet hamster escapes his cage and he chews on the wires in your home, it could cause a house fire. Gerbils are also hard to find once they escape, which is why you must purchase an escape-proof cage for either of these little critters.

Remember that owning a gerbil or hamster will require some of your time, money, and patience. Overall, gerbils and hamsters can make great pets. But they are not the right choice for every pet owner which is why you should weigh the pros and cons before choosing one… or two in the case of gerbils… to bring home to meet the family!


If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It

For years few have questioned whether or not to get their animal fixed. It was routine, the standard of care, and the norm. It wasn’t so much a matter of IF you would get your pet fixed, rather of when. Adopted, rescued, breeder purchased, it didn’t matter, and they all had an appointment within the first six or so months to be spayed or neutered. With age I’d say I’ve become more curious and questioning. Is it really necessary to fix our pets? What are the benefits, and do they outweigh the risks?

When I decided to start doing some research regarding the spay/neuter practice, I couldn’t believe what I found. Professionals across the board don’t have a straightforward answer regarding the spay/neuter conundrum. Today we will touch upon just a few of the conditions associated with the process, take a deeper look at the research behind the claims being made, and hopefully shed a bit more light on this “standard” protocol. As a sidenote, this article focuses on the research behind canine spay/neuter, and does not have any implications toward feline, equine, bovine, etc.

Research on the topic is limited, though the studies that have been done come back with some pretty compelling results. One of the most cited studies involving spay/neuter research involved over 700 golden retrievers. Why this breed? They are one of the most popular and are easier to research than others. For this reason alone we would like to note the research is limited. When specific breeds are studied, one cannot necessarily generalize. A shih tzu will not necessarily have the same life tendencies as a golden retriever. Because of the sheer number of breeds, it would be near impossible to research each and every one, and to come up with a solid conclusion. Despite the inability to generalize with certainty, several researchers have stated they can generalize with confidence. Though the breeds may be different, the chemical makeup of these animals is strikingly similar. Where they differ may be the predisposition to specific cancers or disorders carried by specific breeds. Keep that in mind as we delve into some different conditions below.

You have to understand that fixing an animal doesn’t just stop them from making more babies; it actually stops them from developing properly. No hormonal organ is present in the body just for kicks and giggles; every single one has a specific job, regardless of the breed, sex, size, etc. Removing the gonads, for instance, will reduce the amount of testosterone dramatically. By removing the major producer of this hormone, we are in fact removing the animal’s ability to produce the required amount necessary to form properly. Several studies found that the incidence of orthopedic disorders, such as hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament tears, were increasingly higher in neutered males versus those that were in tact. Seeing as both of these disorders are two common reasons for visits to the animal chiropractor, my interest was peaked. Incontinence is another issue I often see, which ironically enough also has a much higher rate of occurring after an animal has been fixed.

Osteosarcoma is one of the leading causes of death in medium to giant breed dogs. If there were a way to reduce the risk that your pet would develop this disease, wouldn’t you do it? Apparently leaving our animals intact is one of the avenues to be taken. According to several research studies, animals left intact had a much lower incidence of bone cancer than those that had been fixed. On that same token, prostate cancer rates were also near nonexistent in intact males. Hemangiosarcoma in both males and females had a much lower incidence rate in those that hadn’t been spayed and neutered versus those that had.

The same cannot be said, however, for females and mammary tumors and pyometra. This is one area that the research showed a positive correlation between spaying and disease. Females having been fixed during their lifetime had a lower incidence of mammary cancer and a near nonexistent rate of pyometra, both very serious diseases and often causes of death.3 Spaying in females less than 12 months of age was also shown to increase aggression and possibly increase indiscriminate eating behaviors. Researchers noted the sudden removal of progesterone from the female system, which promotes calming, could be the culprit behind heightened aggressive behaviors.

Surgery itself can have complications, before, during, and after the fact. An animal that doesn’t get fixed does not run the risk of having complications from surgery, complications from being put under, or complications from infection. The mortality rate during these procedures is about.1%. Though a seemingly small number, in the grand scheme that means 1 in every 1000 procedures ends up in death. When taking a step back those appear to be fairly high odds.

One of the main reasons I had my puppy neutered was simply because I didn’t think I had a choice. When I adopted him at 3 months old, that was just part of the package deal. Looking back on it now, I wish I had spoken up and requested to have the neutering be done months down the road, if at all. The typical reasons for neutering include dominance issues, aggression, marking behaviors, owner protection, and particular cancer prevention. After looking through the research, however, it appears I may have done my pup a disservice by having his manhood taken away at such an early age.

What can be done? Dr. Karen Becker has proposed a new way to sterilize females without actually removing the hormone producing ovaries. By only removing the uterus, the female will be able to have her normal hormonal function while not actually having the ability to become pregnant. For males, the options right now are limited to good training and keeping your intact male away from females in heat. More options will arise as people begin to ask for them, so always question the options you are given.

If I had known then what I know now I am certain I would’ve waited and given my little guy a chance to develop more completely before having him neutered. Many of his current problems could be a result of fixing him too soon. His gait has never been quite right and he does have trouble with mild aggression and anxiety, all things possibly related to his early castration. My next little munchkin will be a bit luckier because I now have knowledge under my belt to help guide the decision-making. Sometimes the most important decisions we make are ones where we question the set standard, and decide for ourselves what is best in our own situations.


Missing Your Pet? Ideas to Ease Your Loss

Losing a pet can be just as painful as losing a beloved family member or a dear friend. Therefore, it’s only natural that you will experience various emotions during this time including sadness, anger, grief and loneliness. Finding a great support system in order to help you move through your grief and the healing process is a great idea. Some of the ideas below could also help ease your loss.

Host a Memorial

Just as you would host a memorial for a family member or friend, hosting a memorial for your pet may be something you would like to do. Sharing special words with guests and inviting everyone to recall special moments that they had with your pet can be very comforting. There are shops, both in-person and online, that sell memorial stones suitable for pets. You could then have your pet buried in an area around the outside of your home that she loved, such as under a tree or near the garden. This can help you ease your loss by knowing your pet will live on in a place that she once loved.

Pet Portrait

It is never a good idea to pretend as if you never had a pet; instead, remember the memories and cherish them, even if it hurts. This is one of the only paths to closure that you will have. You can create a scrapbook full of pictures of your pet, as well as having a favorite pet portrait to display within your home. This allows you to remember great times with your pet, especially on those days when the grief gets the better of you.

Keep a Journal

Writing about your pet is another good idea to consider. This allows you to speak freely about the emotions that are going through your mind without having to hear the thoughts or opinions of others. You can write a short story pertaining to the good times you shared with your pet or a nice poem that describes everything that your pet meant to you. Keeping a journal will help you move through your grief.

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

While it may be too soon to take ownership of another pet, volunteering at an animal shelter is something you may want to consider. The act of caring for a homeless animal in desperate need of love could help you ease the loss of your pet. When you are emotionally ready to welcome another pet into your home, you will know it; until then, you can ease your grief and sadness by caring for a homeless pet at an animal shelter. If and when you do decide to bring another pet into your home, adopting one from the shelter would be a great way to honor the memory of the pet that you have lost.

If you already have other pets living inside of your home, be sure to take special care of them, as they will be suffering from the loss as well.

Support Groups

While many people may understand the loss that you are experiencing after your pet has died, some will not. Therefore, you may want to consider joining a support group to help ease your loss. You can join support groups for pet owners within your community or you can join these groups via the internet. The members of these groups have experienced the loss of a pet and their purpose is to help you through the grieving process by sharing their wisdom with you.

It is important that you give yourself time to heal after you have lost a pet. This is a deep blow to your heart, and it is okay to allow yourself time to grieve over the loss. The pain you are experiencing is very real, but using the ideas above could help ease your feelings of loss. Remember you are not alone and that there are many others who understand your pain.


Pet Adoption Story Linda and Allie

This lovely adoption story tugs at the heartstrings, and goes to show how animals can heal, even when your heart is broken after losing another pet. Introducing Linda and Allie:

My husband and I lost our beloved pet to intestinal cancer 2 years ago. I was devastated. He was only 4 years old and I didn’t think I would ever get a dog again. My heart was broken and my husband was so upset he said no more pets.

But a couple of my friends belong to a program in my area that rescues dogs, and one day they called me with a problem. There was a terrier-type dog who really needed a warm loving home. “Just come take a look at her.”

So… I did.

It was March last year when I took the trip to see her. She had bad cuts inside her mouth and was very scared of just about everything. I offered to walk her to get to know her a little bit and see how she was with me. Allie and I walked in a park just opposite of the rescue, talking to one another the whole trip. She seemed very shy but was happy for the attention.

I really felt like she spoke to my heart. She seemed to be in tune with me. Her face was soft and her eyes showed that she just wanted to have a heartfelt hug and love. I knew I could do that for her. When we returned I offered to foster her for a period till we could find her forever home. Well, when I brought her home, my husband fell right in love with her. I explained it was a temporary home and we agreed that would be best.

Allie has been with us ever since that day.

Allie was 3 years old and (from what I could tell) had never seen a vet and was always outside during the short life she had already lived. She was never around people, and it showed. She would cower from anyone who came into our home, and I felt so bad for her.

We worked with her day in and day out, slowly allowing her to explore her new surroundings and the people who lived there.

Allie wasn’t sure of anything at first, but in time she has grown to love people! She’s a real snuggle bunny and a bit of a showoff.

We had our issues for sure! Allie would bark at every and anything that moved. A leaf, the grass, cars, people, other animals.

It was a problem she needed to overcome. I worked with a clicker and lots of rewards to let her know that it wasn’t necessary to bark continually. I would crouch down to her level and keep her close so she realized I wasn’t going to leave her alone to face her fears on her own. Her hair would stand on ends every time we introduced her outside of our home.

Taking her to the vet was another issue. She would crawl under my chair and not move.

The vet we decided on was very patient with her. Instead of forcing her into an exam room he came to her and gave her shots while she remained under me. He is amazing.

Allie had no understanding of potty training so it took a bit of time, but now she is great! Because she had never been in a home, she assumed it was fine to relieve herself anywhere at all. The bed and our carpet were two of her favourite places to go! It took me about 3 weeks to help her to see that outside would be a better area to go. I walked with her everyday, and she loved to sniff and really enjoyed getting a half a cookie when she did her business outside of our home. Soon, she was willing and asking to go outside. Mission accomplished!

Allie had basically been left to fend for herself, and although her previous family fed her and she looked alright on the outside, she definitely needed a lot of support for the neglect she suffered for the first 2 and a half years of her life! Patience, love, and understanding throughout this journey has been a definite bonus! She responds very well to a soft voice, rules in our home and lots of cuddles and love.

My husband is permanently in a wheelchair so Allie had to adjust to that but since she hadn’t been around people, it didn’t take her much time.

This little girl just needed to know that we were part of her world and that she was a part of ours.

I have two pet stickers for my car and got them both after we rescued her. One reads: I love my rescue. The other reads: Who rescued who?

Believe me when I say, the latter fits this situation totally! Allie is a great dog, a good companion and has helped me to overcome the great loss we suffered just over a year ago.

She still needs some help with walking on a leash and not pulling my arm out of its socket when she spies a squirrel or a rabbit, but it is coming. She is a smart and very happy young girl and we would definitely rescue again.

Holly and Hugo is an e-learning company which features courses for animal lovers and those planning to work with animals in the future.

Our courses have been created just for you, and since all study is completed online you can learn anywhere and at your own pace.


Cat or Dog Which Makes The Better Pet

Some people are naturally cat lovers while some are dog lovers and some do not like pets at all. It may be a person’s personality, interests, lifestyle or it could be the pet that they had growing up that makes the difference. Whatever the reason, some prefer cats while some prefer dogs. While both cats and dogs make excellent companions, there are some factors that make one better than the other. This, however, typically depends on the person and what they look for in a pet. Here are some factors to consider that differentiate owning a cat or owning a dog.


Caring for a pet can be time consuming and costly. In this category, cats are the winners. Cats require a lot less care than dogs. Cats are independent and can be left alone for long periods of time. They sleep a lot and can find simple ways to amuse themselves for hours such as watching birds from the window sill. They also use a litter box so cats do not have to be let out of the house to relieve themselves. All cats are small so they do not really require the exercise that some dogs require.

Dogs, on the other hand, must be cared for consistently. A dog cannot be left alone for extended periods of time. Dogs require being let outdoors to relieve themselves. Many dogs require daily exercise so a big yard or long walks are important. Most importantly, dogs are not as independent as cats. Dogs like companionship and can easily become board. Aside from having more than one dog to entertain each other, humans need to be present in the daily life of dogs.


Cleanliness is an important factor to consider when choosing a pet. The biggest concern of pet owners is allergies. Cats are twice as likely to cause allergic reactions in humans than dogs. Cats shed and leave dander on carpet and upholstery as well as in the air. Although some types of cats are less likely to cause allergic reactions, cat owners must be cautious when choosing one that will not aggravate allergies. While dogs can also shed, especially long haired dogs, they are less likely to leave behind allergens in the air.

When it comes to cleanliness, cats are one of the cleanest animals. They constantly groom themselves. Cats do not have to be bathed, regularly brushed or professionally groomed. Many dog breeds, however, require professional grooming, regular baths and daily brushing.


Variety of breeds is another important factor when choosing any pet. Cat breeds are not quite as varied as dog breeds are. Different cat breeds do have different personalities. For example, Persians are high maintenance while Siamese are friendly. Another factor is that all cat breeds are small, not leaving a lot of room if a person wishes for a bigger companion.

Dogs come in a variety of breeds and sub-breeds. The American Kennel Club recognizes many breeds and their personalities. Choosing a dog to fit an owners personality, lifestyle or needs is much easier than sorting through different cat breeds.


One of the most important factors to consider in a pet is how it is bred to function. Dogs breeds are differentiated by their abilities. They can be trained to hunt, protect, work or offer service. Dogs can easily be trained and tend to be very devoted and loving to their human companions.

Cats are very independent. They cannot really be trained but do instinctively hunt and kill rodents. Although many cats are loving companions, there will never be as much affection and loyalty to owners as dogs naturally give.


Finally, interactivity is important to any pet owner. How much are they willing to spend entertaining their pet. While some cats are social many avoid people they are not familiar with. Cats can be kept indoor at all times so it is not necessary to take them outdoors to get exercise. Cats enjoy very simple play such as chasing small toys or strings. It is relatively easy to entertain a cat.


All Limps Are Not Created Equal

A limp can have more meaning than one might fathom. Ranging from a simple muscle spasm to cancer, a limp is something that should not be taken lightly. At one point or another, most animals and humans will deal with a change in gait in the form of a limp. While some come and go, others may be more frequent and consistent. Not all limps are made equal, and all should be questioned if not evaluated in timely fashion.

A limp could indicate a muscle strain, sprained ligament, pinched nerve, torn tendon, jammed toe, foreign object presence, dislocation, dysplasia, arthritis, disc disease, or even cancer. With such a wide range of conditions potentially leading to a limp, it stands to reason finding out the WHAT behind the gait change is important.

A change in gait is first and foremost an indicator that something else is going on within your pet. Whether the limp resolves itself, and how quickly it resolves are important things to note. How often it happens (in any given time period), when it happens (whether after strenuous activity or being sedentary for long periods of time), and if there is pain associated with the action are all need to know questions.

A chronic limp, one that occurs fairly constantly throughout the day and does not seem to improve regardless of activity, is often indicative of a structural shift within the body. When there is abnormal structure in the spine, an animal’s body will alter itself to compensate for that abnormality. As they continue to age and more daily “traumas” occur, this compensation will weaken. With each new injury there tends to be another compensation. At a point, the body becomes to fragile that even the slightest of motions or activities will lead to a complete bodily breakdown, starting with compensations first. When this happens, a limp that at one time would come and go can become almost constant, and occasionally painful. When the structural shift is addressed and corrected, the body no longer needs to maintain various compensations and can instead return to a state of normalcy. The stress places on muscles, ligaments, and nerves from the shifts are relieved and the symptoms, such as limping, often resolve quickly.

A chronic limp that is very painful and does not show any sort of resolution, sometimes accompanied by constant heat and swelling, can indicate the presence of cancer. As with any disease process, I highly recommend having your animal evaluated by your veterinarian when it comes to a chronic painful limp. Though a structural shift may be present in conjunction, if chiropractic adjustments do not seem to help the condition, it is most likely that something more is going on internally.

An acute limp that comes and goes, lasting for anywhere from five minutes to a couple of hours or days, is not one that should be ignored. If your pet consistently experiences minor limping, it is most likely indicative of a structural shift in it’s earlier stages. Rather than ignore the problem when it resolves suddenly, it is important to address the limp sooner than later. No animal will limp without a reason behind the action. They do not crave attention or show weakness unless they have reason to do so. A limp is an example of your pet saying “something isn’t quite right, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make this go away, but there is something wrong that needs attention, please!”. Because they are not complainers, animals will truly hide injuries and let them fester until the last possible moment. Do not allow something minor turn into something major. Just because a limp goes away for a while, does not mean the cause of the limp is not there, it simply implies there is now a hidden problem.

An acute limp that happens after being in a down state for an extended period tends to be associated with arthritis, and is usually seen in older animals. Occasionally in younger pets if they struggle after being down it can be because of a mild muscle spasm or nothing more than a stiff joint.

A limp that occurs after strenuous activities or after a slight trauma could easily be associated with a torn or sprained ligament. These tend to be more structurally related and take some time to heal, as inflammation and swelling is usually present alongside the gait change. Situations like this resolve in time, though it does take a very aware owner to help in the healing process.

With any change in gait, the first course of action is a palpatory exam. Upon palpation, it is important to note any temperature changes, tender spots, and muscle spasms. After static palpation, a motion palpation exam will be performed. Any limitations in range of motion in a joint should be noted, any crepitus within a joint, or any soreness upon movement. If necessary, radiographs will be advised to help identify any bony problems, such as dysplasia or arthritis.

What if the radiographs appear negative, but the other examinations were not? The likelihood that your pet has a structural shift occurring is fairly high. Often times, when your veterinarian is unable to give a definitive diagnosis off of an x-ray, the answer involves structural shifting of the spine. A structural shift is not seen on x-ray because it involves motion in a joint. It is detected through a combination of examinations, not one thing alone. When a structural shift is present, it can lead to limping, arthritis, muscle spasms, etc as stated above. The best thing any owner can do when it comes to limping is to have it evaluated sooner than later, it’s much easier to address a limp at the beginning rather than wait until it does not end.


An Amazing Discovery: The Blessing of the Animals at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

A number of summers ago I read an article in a travel magazine that described an incredible event. The article claimed that a major cathedral in New York City invited thousands of animals into its holy space. To me this just seemed too unbelievable. Not only were regular animals like dogs and cats included but all kinds of exotic species. This was the definition of ‘incongruous’. I mean how often have you come across an animal in a church let alone a cathedral?

So I phoned the cathedral in question, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and inquired that if what I had read was true. Of course it was. I asked if an elephant had actually been allowed into the cathedral. Certainly, and not only an elephant, but also many other exotic creatures. I thanked the lady for the information and expressed my disappointment in having missed this event. She then informed me that this Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi was an annual celebration that takes place in October. I was in luck!

That October I flew to New York to witness the Blessing of the Animals first hand. On Sunday I took a cab to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on northeast side of Manhattan. I was amazed at the line of people and pets that stretched around the block. They had started lining up at 6 am. I was fortunate to get a seat as the Cathedral was packed with several thousand folks and over a thousand animals.

Dogs were everywhere, all sorts of breeds and mutts. Cats were on leashes and in carrying crates. Parrots sat on heads and shoulders. Rabbits, hamsters, buggies, cockatiels, ferrets, and turtles were in abundance. It was truly overwhelming.

The atmosphere was thick with magic, spirit, and wonderfully strong, positive feelings. The animals got along with one another and seemed to sense that something special was taking place. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine itself is impressive in its enormity and splendor. Apparently, the Statue of Liberty could fit into this Cathedral!

And the music was astounding. I was pleasantly surprised to see the famous jazz saxophonist Paul Winter leading his group the Paul Winter Consort. With them was a choir of close to four hundred voices and a beautiful female soloist. They performed the Missa Gaia or Earth Mass, an environmental mass celebrating the Earth and its creatures. Woven throughout this powerful, exotic music were the sounds and voices of animals including wolves, whales, eagles and loons.

I will always remember the moment when the great bronze doors of the Cathedral slowly opened to reveal the silhouette of a massive elephant. The elephant strode in leading the Procession of Animals. A hush fell over the thousands in attendance as the procession moved slowly along the two-football fields long aisle to the altar. The Procession included llamas, horses, cows, dogs, tortoises, pot-bellied pigs, raptors, snakes and many others. Surrounding the altar, these beautiful creatures were blessed by several bishops and priests.

After the official ceremony, a wonderful festival was held on the park like grounds of the Cathedral. Here the Bishop of New York and several monks and priests give individual animal blessings to hundreds of the pets brought by the public. Most wanted health and happiness for their beloved companions. Some brought sick, injured and old animals for a special blessing. And some had pictures of missing pets to be blessed in hope of finding them.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine created the Blessing of the Animals for the Feast of St. Francis to draw attention to the environmental problems occurring on Earth. St. Francis is after all the patron saint of ecology and of animals. This is truly a wondrous, emotional and spectacular celebration that inspires one to better respect and love our planet and the beautiful creatures that inhabit it.


The Value of Pets in the Caregiver Process

The caregiver process… taking care of an ill loved one… is an up and down ride minute by minute. There are good days when your loved one is coherent, not in a lot of pain, and seems to be the familiar person you’d grown up with. There are days… even moments, when you loved one is a stranger, seems to be inconsolable or even mean.

It’s often difficult to separate out the pieces of yourself and your loved one during these fluctuating times. But I’d remembered so clearly the times when something so simple as a grandchild or a pet could cause a moment of solace and glee!

I’d remembered two pets, in particular, who had brought job and love to my ill parents. One had been my dog, Oso Bear. He’d been a red-haired chow who had captured my whole family’s heart from the first moment! I actually thought I’d have to go to court to get custody of him from my Mama and Daddy (and brothers!) because everyone had wanted him!

My Mama and Daddy and I had come to an agreement that while I’d been at work, they could have Oso with them. And it had been so good for them both!

For Daddy, Oso had burrowed under his legs, waiting to be petted. Daddy, even with his Parkinson’s disease, had pet Oso with his shaky hands. But Oso hadn’t cared. He’d loved the touch and it had been great for Daddy as well!

For Mama, Oso had provided protection and security. She’d known that Oso had protected them; scaring strangers away from the door with his deep bark. If Daddy had needed help, Oso had let Mama know.

The second little miracle had come in the form of a kitten!

By that point, Daddy had passed and Mama had become the ill loved one I’d been caring for. My siblings and I had consulted with each other about getting Mama a pet. We hadn’t been sure if it would have been a dog or cat until we’d gone to the local animal shelter and looked around. There, we’d found a Siamese kitten.

I’d remembered the look on Mama’s face when we’d brought the kitten home to her. Mama’s eyes had opened wide with excitement! We’d felt the magic burst throughout the room. She’d named the kitten Milkshake and it had stayed by her side almost every moment. Mama had really loved playing and petting that cat, and it had been an experience of more smiles and mutual love!


5 Reasons Why Training Pet Rats Is Ridiculously Rewarding

The secret to their success is their high IQ. Unlike more passive pets such as rabbits, pet rats are highly sociable and love interacting with people. Their intelligence also makes them highly trainable as they love the mental challenge of problem solving. So if you already have pet rats that you want to train, or are considering get a new fur-family member, here are five reasons why training pet rats is ridiculously rewarding.

#1: Boredom Busting:

Pet rats are nature’s problem solvers and hate being bored. They love nothing better than pitting their wits against a puzzle and working their way round it. Conversely, a bored rat is likely to develop behavioral problems such as overeating that leads to obesity, fighting with housemates, pulling out their fur, or chewing their home.

For intelligent creatures such as pet rats, it isn’t fair not to challenge their minds. Not to do so is the human equivalent of sitting in a room staring at the walls all day long – and something to be avoided.

#2: Strengthens Bonds:

Twice daily training sessions and the pet rats use their brain power for good, and they’ll look forward to this one-on-one time with their handler. Most social creatures thrive on attention, and this is exactly what you give during training time.

On the human side of the equation, there’s a huge buzz about having a small creature attentive to your commands and responding to you. When a rat does a trick on command it almost like you can talk to animals, which is hugely rewarding in its own rite. Then there’s the satisfaction of knowing your pet rats respond because they want to please you.

#3: Exercise Mind and Body:

Rather than sitting in a cage all day, training pet rats to roll a ball, complete an agility course, or walk along a rope is a great way of exercising both mind and body.

#4: Teach Tricks:

Want to impress your friends with what an epic animal trainer you are? Win the admiration of friends and family by teaching your pet rats to:

    • Stand on his back legs: Hold a tasty treat above the rat’s head so that he stretches up to get it. Just before releasing the treat, say, “Stand”, and let then him have the reward.


    • Jump: Teach him to jump over a low obstacle on command. To do this place a low object (such as a pencil or glasses case) on the floor between the rat and the treat. Encourage him to jump over the obstacle to get to the reward, and say “Jump” as he lands and give him the reward.


  • Clicker train: The sky’s the limit when you clicker train your pet rats. The theory is exactly the same as for dogs. You teach the rat to associate the click-clack of a clicker with a tasty treat. Then you use to clicker to mark behaviors that you wish the rat to do – such as holding out a paw. By clicking the exact movement the rat understands which action is being rewarded, and will be keen to repeat it to earn that snack.

#5: Builds Confidence

Training pet rats is a win-win situation because it increases their confidence in you, whilst your confidence in your ability to work with animals goes through the roof. Imagine the satisfaction of seeing a small creature come to their name or fetch you a toy. For all creatures, small as a rat or large as a dog, training builds the confidence of everyone involved (including the handler!)


Pet Sitting Guide

How to start working as a pet sitter?

Do you love animals, have bags of experience with them, and are looking to build your income or even start your own small business? If so, then it might have crossed your mind to offer pet sitting services, such as dog walking, house sitting for people with pets, or feeding cats and small animals in their own homes while their owners are away.

But before you write up your advert and wait for the phone to ring, hold your fire – there is much, much more to starting a responsible, competent and legal pet sitting business than simply convincing people that you can care for their animals!

In this article, we will share some basic tips and advice on how to begin working as a pet sitter, what it takes, and what you need to get started.

Your background

First and foremost, it is important to realize that simply loving animals and wanting to spend more time around them is not enough to make it as a pet sitter. As a pet sitter, you are asking the owners of the pets you will be minding to put their trust in you when it comes to looking after not only their animals, but also their homes; even if you only have to pop in to collect and drop off their dog for a walk, you will still need to be entrusted with the security of their home and possessions, as well as the safety and well-being of their pet, and also for dogs, other dogs and people too.

Making this commitment to a person and their pet is not something to be undertaken lightly. You must be 100% reliable when it comes to doing what you say you will, when you say you will, and also, know what you would do if you had an emergency, such as if you fell ill or your car won’t start when you’ve already committed to care for someone’s pet.

You will of course need to have a love of animals to be a good pet sitter; that is a given, but you should also have a good understanding of the pets that you wish to care for too, be able to deal with problems and emergencies calmly and effectively, and when caring for dogs, be able to manage and control them properly and keep both yourself, and other dogs and people safe.

What you need

You will also need your own mode of transport in most cases, unless you intend to work within a fairly small area or in a big city, where public transport is a viable option for getting around. If you are using your vehicle for commuting and/or for carrying your charges, you will need to inform your insurance company of this, so that they can adjust your policy accordingly. In order to be able to work as a pet sitter, you will need to have insurance. Various insurance companies offer tailor-made insurance specifically for pet sitters, which provides coverage in the case of unforeseen situations, damage or harm coming to the pet in your care or their owner’s property, and third party legal liability too.

While anyone can theoretically begin working as a pet sitter and build up their reputation and client base over time, in order to get a head start, it is wise to take a qualification or certification in pet sitting and the care of the animals that you will be looking after. Skills or certifications in additional areas such as first aid for pets is also a great idea, and will give you an edge when it comes to building trust, and developing your business.

Added to this, many pet sitters also undergo a CRB check to provide added reassurance to their clients, and if you intend to work for a pet sitting company or agency, you will almost certainly be required to have one.

Finally, once you start making money as a pet sitter, you will need to declare your income and register for income tax.

How to find work

Marketing yourself and letting your potential clients know about you is an integral part of any small business, and pet sitting is no different! You will need to be reasonably internet-savvy in order to do this, as many potential clients look for pet sitters online, so look for sites and directories that advertise pet sitting services and get yourself signed up.

Additionally, you may wish to find out about advertising in the phone book, shop windows, and pet-related businesses in your area too, such as dog groomers and veterinary clinics.

You can also sign up with one of the various pet sitting and dog walking agencies out there, which will help you to find work and handle a lot of the paperwork and advertising duties for you, although this will of course be reflected in your take-home earnings.

Some basic tips to get started

The longer you work as a pet sitter, the more confident you will become about it, as you develop a better understanding of your own abilities and limitations. You will also soon find yourself working out ways to save time each day and maximize your income without compromising the care of your charges, and also, improve your skills continually simply be becoming exposed to more and more opportunities.

It can take some time to get your first clients on board and build up your reputation, so don’t expect to start making a living wage out of pet sitting right away!

It is also a good idea to build up a relationship with other local pet sitters to exchange knowledge and potentially work, such as if one of you has more work than you can handle, or if you need help when you are ill.


Adopting a Pet From an Animal Shelter

There are many misconceptions when it comes to adopting a pet from an animal shelter. These misconceptions cause many great animals to be overlooked and often put down because nobody wants them. This article will take a look at a couple of the fallacies and attempt to dispel them.

The first false fact we will look at is the idea that shelter pets are not healthy. This could not be further from the truth. Animal shelters are full of volunteers and strict guidelines to ensure that each and every pet is as healthy as can be. Only when it is will that pet be put up for adoption. On the other end of the spectrum, if you buy a pet from a store, odds are good it comes from some sort of animal mill and is far more likely to be unhealthy than those in shelters.

The next fallacy is that pets in shelters must have bad temperaments; otherwise they would not be there. Once again, this is so untrue. When an animal comes into a shelter it is tested for temperament before being put up for adoption. If it has any behavioral issues, staff and volunteers will work with him or her to overcome them. However, most of the time this is not even necessary, as the majority of these pets are super loving and affectionate and make wonderful additions to a family. They just need a chance.

The next myth is perpetuated by people who want a purebred animal and think they cannot find one at a shelter. There are oodles of purebred pets at animal shelters. Sometimes it may just take a little bit of searching to find one that interests you. But they are there if someone is looking for them.

One last myth we will bust is that shelter pets do not get along with other animals. Every animal is different, so in some cases this could be true. However most of the time it is not. Especially when a pet has been in foster care, it often is around other pets and gets along with them just fine. This is true of children too. The best way to find this out is to have an introduction between the shelter pet and the other pets or children in the household. Then you can be sure everybody will get along.

Some additional advantages of adopting your new fur-baby from a shelter is that it will already be spayed or neutered. Therefore it will not produce any unwanted babies, nor will it try to leave its mark all over the house. Your new pet will also have had all of its required vaccinations and have had any medical issues resolved before it leaves the shelter. All of these things are usually taken into consideration in the pet’s adoption fee.