Monday, September 24, 2018

How to Train your Cat to Walk on a Leash

Most cats I know do not like getting into their carrier. They also yowl and cry and thrash at the mere sight of a harness. Most cats don't like to walk on a leash. But most cats are not Maui.

I recently met Maui at an adoption event. His cage was right next to where I was selling books, and he seemed to be curious about everything around him. He caught the eye of Erin, who was there to find a companion for herself and her 15 year old mixed breed dog, Merlin. Maui was one of the lucky ones. He found his forever home! Not only does he adore his new companions, but he also gets to explore the big, wide outdoors with them. They all take daily trips to a nearby park where Maui can safely climb trees and stalk squirrels. Such fun!

Maui took to being transported in a backpack and walking on a leash easily. Here's some of Erin's tips how you can train your cat to do the same.

1. Gather treats you know your cat loves, and rank them from mildly exciting to mind-blowing! Treats may be food, toys, praise, etc.

2. Put the harness on your cat and immediately offer the lowest value reward. Leave the harness on for just a few minutes, then take it off. Repeat several more times over the next few hours.

3. The next day, leave the harness on a little longer. Reward. Repeat.

4. If you can get your cat to play or eat a meal with the harness on, that's great! It took Maui about a week to get to this point.

5. Now, to go outside, start with taking your cat outside for a super short time. Offer one of the higher value treats. Return inside before your cat is stressed.

6. Slowly build up the length of time, as long as your cat is enjoying the adventure.

Be sure you have the proper fitting equipment for your outings.
This is the cat backpack/carrier Erin uses.

Here is the cat harness and leash Maui likes.

I hope this helps you have some fun adventures with your cat, and helps your cat enjoy some safe and stimulating time exploring outdoors.

Note: We were not compensated in any way by recommending these products. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own (and Erin and Maui's!).

Monday, September 17, 2018

Tha Ultimate Book on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

Wouldn't a road trip be that much more fun with your faithful friend along? I think so! That's why I'm so excited to tell you about this new book by my good friends at Go Pet Friendly.

Petey and Ernest are packing their suitcase for a trip.

The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip takes you on a 15,000 mile journey across the country to visit a popular site in each state. The best part about the book is that Amy Burkert not only wrote about the destinations--she and her husband and two dogs traveled the entire distance and road-tested everything first.

Ernest wishes he was at the beach too.
Some of the sites you'll explore are:
Carmel's Dog Beach (California)
The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
San Antonio Riverwalk (Texas)
Monumet Rocks (Kansas)
Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia)
Central Park (New York)
Acadia National Park (Maine)

Trip planning together.

Each chapter has help for planning your trip, suggestions on where to stay and eat, and most importantly rules you need to know to keep your pet safe and happy. I think you'll love this book.  Take the best vacation ever...with your best friend ever.

We're ready!

Check out The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip at Go Pet Friendly. And then...make that trip you've been dreaming about a reality.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Ernest Meets the Man, and Unconditional Love

One night last week we walked our golden retrievers past two kids riding their bikes on the other side of the street. A man stood on his porch watching over them. The little girl saw us and ran up to her dad and asked if she could pat the dogs.

"You have to ask their owners," he replied.

 We don't know very many people in our neighborhood. It's a small city, and people tend to stick to themselves. Everyone is busy and has their own problems, it seems. The most time we get to interact with the neighbors is when we are walking the dogs. We've gotten to know other dog lovers, and we also have learned who is afraid of dogs so we try to respectfully keep the dogs in close when we pass by.

The girl just looked, so I stopped. "Would you like to meet Petey and Ernest?" I asked. She nodded. My husband and I crossed over. The girl's brother stopped riding and came over too. They were a little hesitant, but soon they were happily patting the dogs and giggling as Petey wiggled and kissed them.

The man stayed on his porch for a while. Then something seemed to draw him over. At the same time something drew Ernest to him. Ernest is a therapy dog, and I've often noticed him sense when someone needs him. The man came right for him. Ernest sat still while the man patted his head, then his neck. The man told us how he had sole custody of the kids and I thought how difficult that must be, as the man was a bit older. He started telling us how much he missed his German Shepherd, Silver, named after the Lone Ranger's horse. The more he patted Ernest, the more he opened up. Ernest leaned into the man gently, and the man sunk to the ground, and tears began to flow. Whatever emotions he was holding inside him came out as Ernest poured out his love. At last the man struggled back up to his feet and gave Ernest one last hug. "God bless you," he said.

We all left feeling a bit better. Ernest is always on the job and always ready to offer his unconditional love.

Friday, September 7, 2018

No more fleas and ticks! Petey's Seresto collar review #ChewyInfluencer

Let's see, Petey's at the door. What has he come home with?

Image result for musical notes   Seresto...seresto....seresto... Image result for musical notes

Petey! Not the garden!

Image result for musical notesSeresto...seresto...seresto   Image result for musical notes

 Oh, Petey!

Yup, Petey's digging up flowers and bringing home who-knows-what again! Whatever Petey brings home with him, though, it shouldn't be fleas and ticks, right? So we tried out this Seresto collar from All we had to do was put it on once, and it provides eight months of flea and tick protection. That's great, because we were always forgetting to apply our dog's topical treatment every month. If we missed just once, that's all it took to get those pesky bugs biting. We love that we can put this collar on the dogs and know they'll be protected month after month.

My dogs have had Lyme disease before and I haven't found alternate methods of tick control that have worked for me. Seresto is a good choice for those who opt to use a chemical treatment because the ingredients are released slowly in low concentrations from the collar to the dog. Active ingredients are Flumethrin and Imidacloprid. Best of all we've had no problem with fleas and ticks that cause discomfort and spread disease to our dogs.

So whenever Petey plays in the back yard or at the park, I know he may be naughty and come home with a few things he shouldn't...but he won't be coming home with fleas and ticks.

Image result for musical notes Seresto...seresto....seresto  Image result for musical notes

OH Petey! Not the neighbor's bikini!

Full Disclosure: We are #ChewyInfluencers. We were provided one Seresto collar in exchange for our honest review. This in now way influenced our decision. Opinions here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How to Have a Dog-Friendly Vacation this Labor Day Weekend

With Labor Day weekend approaching, there's still time this summer to enjoy a great getaway or family vacation. And if the family includes a dog (or two or more!), it's easier than ever before to take them along--pet friendly businesses are more and more common. Your getaway just requires planning, flexibility, and quite possibly a sense of humor. Here are a few tips to bark your way.

We didn't forget to pack Petey!
Where are we going to stay?

If you plan on camping, or staying with friends or family who love dogs, great! Otherwise you'll need to find a pet-friendly hotel. We recently took our two golden retrievers, Ernest and Petey, along on a getaway to Vermont. The hotel was "pet-friendly" and indeed the staff seemed happy to welcome our dogs. But the pet-friendly rooms were tiny. There was only enough space to walk around the sides of the bed, and no seating area or place for the dogs to stretch out. It made for a very uncomfortable weekend. So when you book, ask about the size of the rooms, especially if you have larger dogs. Also some pet-friendly hotels simply "allow" pets while others really roll out the red carpet by providing doggy beds, bowls, and goodie bags. Some even offer amenities such as gourmet dog meals and dog parks. We love Go Pet Friendly as a great resource to search for hotels (and restaurants, and things to do on vacation too.)

Our room proved a bit small for Ernest, Petey (and a visiting friend!)
 Here are some other considerations:
1. Does the hotel have a dog-relief area with poo bags and conveniently-located waste receptacle?
The hotel we stayed at had a fair amount of grounds for walking the dog, but they were full of pricker bushes. Every time we went out, the dogs returned covered in burrs. Other pet-friendly hotels offer only a narrow strip of grass to walk your dog, or are surrounded by busy roads and parking lots. On the other hand, once we visited a hotel with beautiful grounds, plenty of room to exercise, and wooded hiking paths next door. Check reviews and look at photos (try Google Earth to get a great view of the surroundings) to evaluate the outdoor space.

2. Can you leave your dog in the room?
Most hotels we've visited don't allow you to leave your pet unattended in the room.
This is a concern for instances when you want to go out to an event, fancy dinner, shopping, or museum where your dog is not allowed. One option is to take your pet to a doggy day care, or hire a reputable pet sitter to sit in the room with your pets. If the hotel does allow you to leave your pet, be sure to put out the "Do Not Disturb" sign when you leave. If you're worried your dog might bark, here are some techniques that can help:
- Take your dog for a long walk and make sure he is really tired before you leave him.
- Turn on the TV to distract him from barking every time he hears someone open a door or walk down the hall.
- Play the CD "Through a Dog's Ear". You wouldn't believe how many times I recommend this, but I do because I love it. I don't know why, but it works. Our dogs calm down immediately whenever we put it on.
- Give your dog a Kong or new toy to entertain him while you're out.
Also, most hotels don't allow pets on the furniture. I'm pretty sure 90% of the dogs break this rule. Bringing along a large sheet or blanket to cover the bed and other furniture helps protect hotel property.

Where can we eat?

Dining out with pets can be a challenge. Here are some options we've tried:
1. Visit pet-friendly restaurants.
Many cafes and casual dining spots allow pets on their patio. Some even bring out a bowl of water for your dog. We try to choose the most out of the way spot to sit. Usually the dogs nap under the table. They almost always spill the water bowl.

Sharing something to chew on.

2. Take a picnic.
We buy fresh foods at a grocery store or whole foods market, find a nice scenic location, spread out a blanket, and enjoy.

3. Go through the drive-thru.
You will likely be limited to fast food, but in a pinch it works.

4. Order pizza in your room.
Or, stock your room fridge with convenient meals, sandwiches and fruit.

4. Patronize your hotel's restaurant.
Most hotels allow you to leave your pets in the room while you're on premises. On our recent trip, we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast in the lobby each morning, and had dinner in the more upscale restaurant, knowing that our tired, well-exercised dogs were contentedly resting close enough by to intervene if it turned out there should be a problem. (The first couple times we ducked out and listened outside the door to make sure we didn't hear any barking.) Selecting a hotel with a decent restaurant took a lot of stress out of our trip.

What are we going to do?

Your schedule won't be as free as if you were traveling without pets, but hey, you've got your best friends along with you so it's worth it, right?

Checking out the Whale Tails in South Burlington, VT.

A great hike in Shelburne Bay, VT.
 1. Parks, hiking, and swimming-
Outdoor activities are the easiest in which to include your dog. Just be sure you know the rules and restrictions for where you visit. Are dogs allowed? Must they be leashed? Are certain areas restricted?

2. Shopping and Activities-
Some pedestrian malls, such as Church Street Marketplace in Burlington VT, are pet friendly. The Vermont Country Store (in Weston and Rockingham VT) allows dogs inside, with signs reminding shoppers NOT to leave their dogs in the car. If you want to take a tour at Ben and Jerry's factory (Waterbury, VT), you can bring your dog on the premises (but they're not allowed on the actual tour). Wherever you stay, you may be surprised at the businesses that allow dogs.

3. Little known gems.
Ask a local for advice. Helpful residents walking their dogs may offer the best suggestions. We asked an employee at a pet food warehouse for a place to take the dogs in the water and were directed to a little out of the way swimming hole that was just right for our needs.

Have a fun vacation and a happy Labor Day Weekend!