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The Pet Sitter: a Warm and Fuzzy Calling
By Ester Venouziou, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer

Candace and Paul Coughlin met while training dogs, so it wasn't much of a surprise when they opened their own training company, Companion Pet Services, 10 years ago. He took the venture full time; she kept her day job as administrative assistant. Then four years ago she decided to leave the corporate world and devote herself to the company, focusing on a new component to their business, Pet Care by Candace. "It's scary at first, quitting your job, giving up the security," says Coughlin, 61. "But I really like this." We caught up with her recently.

How does someone get started in this business?

Research, research, research, Coughlin says. "See if it's something you really like. Talk to other established pet sitters." No state license is required, but Coughlin suggests classes in pet CPR, customer service, animal training, pet law or pet behavior. Many people need pet sitters and walkers on the weekends or during holidays, so you might want to start out part time while still keeping your regular job to make sure this is for you, Coughlin says. Another way to test it out is to take jobs that combine house and pet sitting.

If you decide to go ahead with it, make sure you treat the business as a business. That means liability insurance and getting bonded. It means maintaining proper records, keeping a budget, booking clients, networking. "Introduce yourself to the pet community: groomers, vets, pet stores," she says. There are also local and national organizations you can join, which can provide training, referrals and more exposure. (Coughlin is accredited through Pet Sitters International.)

What's a typical day like?

It's not just about walking dogs, Coughlin says. Being a pet sitter means juggling several clients and coordinating schedules. Some pets are early risers; others like to sleep in. Some need a lot of time to run around; others are happy going out for just a few minutes. Some days, Coughlin is up by 5:30 a.m. to get ready for the first visit. Then there are the lunchtime, afternoon and evening runs. In between, she's at her home office writing contracts, checking e-mails, doing invoices, paying bills. When she knows it's going to be an especially long day, she throws in a nap.

What do you like most about the job?

"It's my business. I built it myself," Coughlin says. "We've been doing this for so long, it's really who we are. When we're out to dinner, we talk about the business. But it doesn't feel like work because it's something we enjoy doing."

And what do you like least?

"The paperwork. It's tedious. And that's what I didn't like about being in an office. . . . It's necessary, but I don't enjoy it. I like being with pets," she says. About 25 percent of the job involves paperwork, she says.

This job is not for you if . . .

"If you don't like working holidays, if you're not a morning person, if you don't like driving in traffic, if you don't like pets — or people!"

What's the pay like?

The first few years could average $15,000 to $20,000, Coughlin says, but it depends how much time you want to put in. To make more money, she says, you need to go all out, get lots of clients, hire a staff. But Coughlin doesn't want to do that. "Maybe if I were doing this when I was 40. . . . I don't want this to become something where I manage people."

Protect Your Pet from Winter Cold
Sun-News report

SILVER CITY — With falling temperatures, residents are reminded to protect their pets from the winter weather.
"The main thing is providing your animal with warm shelter and unfrozen water," said Jeff Young, director of the High Desert Humane Society.

While cats are able to find warm spaces fairly easily, dogs are more dependent on their owners, advocates said.

Dogs should have a shelter with enough room inside for the dog to rest comfortably but not too big for the heat to pass through. The floor of the shelter should be elevated above the cold ground and a pad or blanket should be placed for added warmth.

According to Young, the animal shelter has several dog houses that have been donated for the purpose of providing shelter for Grant County dogs this winter. The houses are available at a reasonable cost, he said.

Young said anyone who needs advice on how to take care of their pets during this winter season can call the High Desert Humane Society at (575) 538-9261.

"We'd be happy to help people out on winterizing their pets," he said.

Tips for outdoor pets
• Make sure the dog house has a door to avoid exposure to the wind and to help keep dry (watertight and windproof). It should be raised off the ground.

• Bigger is not always better — the house should be big enough for your pet to sit/stand/turn/lie down easily but not so large that it encourages body heat loss. The length of the house should be one-and-a-half times the pet's body length, the width of the house 2/3 the body length and the height 1 1/5 the pet's height.

• Straw or shavings are ideal for insulation and blankets are adequate as well. Make sure it stays dry inside.

Tips for indoor pets
• If your pet stays in the garage, be careful not to leave the car running with the door closed for extended periods of time as pets can also suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Monitor for antifreeze leaks and keep antifreeze bottles well out of your pet's reach.

Hints From Heloise
The Washington Post

Cold-Weather Pet Protection

Dear Readers: Now that winter's COLD WEATHER IS HERE, don't forget your pets. Cold can be hazardous to their health. Keep these hints in mind:

Puppies, sick or older dogs, those that have a medical condition and some dog breeds (those with short hair -- Chihuahuas being a good example) are more sensitive to the cold. So, when letting them out, be sure to let them right back in!

It also is important to wipe off your pets' paws, legs and tummy after returning from a walk. Products used to de-ice sidewalks and roads can be poisonous to pets, and even sidewalk salt can irritate pet paws.

Also, when walking a pet, don't let it drink water from melting snow, because the water may contain de-icing products or antifreeze, which are deadly to pets.

Dogs that get chilly can wear a dog sweater. Our Cabbie (a miniature schnauzer) loves wearing her sweater on a chilly day.

Don't leave your pet in your car when running errands, etc. Cold-weather temps are just as bad for them as heat in the summer!

Leaving cats outside isn't a good idea, since they search for a warm spot and sometimes find it inside a car engine! If your vehicle is parked outside, always honk the horn before starting up the vehicle so any cats inside will jump out.

Pets are part of the family, so keep them safe and warm this season. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: A hint for those of us who have indoor pets that shed hair: We know that hair will stick to carpet and refuse to be vacuumed up, so I use a slightly damp kitchen sponge to get pet hair out of the corners of carpet where the vacuum doesn't reach. Use either side of the sponge in a small sweeping motion to grab hair from the corners. It's great as a "spot clean" when company comes over. -- Debbie Owen, West Monroe, La.

Dear Readers: Patricia Rhone of Clearfield, Pa., sent a photo of her cat Punkin drinking from a decorative table fountain. Patricia says: "Punkin loves to drink from her fountain. She was always sitting and waiting patiently for someone to turn it on, and one day she used her paw to move the stones and turn the fountain on."

To see Punkin and her fountain, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I buy dog treats for my dogs that are in plastic bags, and I find them hard to keep sealed. The treats get hard, and I am concerned that bugs might get into them.

As soon as I bring the treats home, I transfer them to a large plastic jar (with a tightfitting lid). This works out great, and my little guys know it's "cookie" time when I open the top of the jar. -- Amber in Pennsylvania

(c)2008 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Cat Behavior Information And Advice
Pets and Pet

Your cat brings you joy as she curls up on your lap and purrs herself to sleep. She provides you with endless entertainment as she chases her feather wand with enthusiasm. But from time to time, she might also drive you crazy as she scratches your favorite chair, executes sneak attacks on your ankles, or stops using the litterbox.

Whatever “issues” you or your cat may have, we have information that can help you address them. Never get angry with your cat behavioral problem, if you can read this understanding cat behavior

A Common Cat Behavior Problem Is Scratching:

Why Do Cats Scratch?

It’s normal for cats to scratch objects in their environment for many reasons:
--To remove the dead outer layer of their claws.
--To mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent – they have scent glands on their paws.
--To stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws.
--To work off energy.

Because scratching is a normal behavior, and one that cats are highly motivated to display, it’s unrealistic to try to prevent them from scratching. Instead, the goal in resolving scratching problems is to redirect the scratching onto acceptable objects.

Training Your Cat To Scratch Acceptable Objects

Cover the inappropriate objects with something your cat will find unappealing, such as double sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper or a plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up. Or you may give the objects an aversive odor by attaching cotton balls containing perfume, a muscle rub or other unpleasant odor. Be careful with odors, though, because you don’t want the nearby acceptable objects to also smell unpleasant.

When your cat is consistently using the appropriate object, it can be moved very gradually (no more than three inches each day) to a location more suitable to you. It’s best, however, to keep the appropriate scratching objects as close to your cat’s preferred scratching locations as possible.

Don’t remove the unappealing coverings or odors from the inappropriate objects until your cat is consistently using the appropriate objects in their permanent locations for several weeks, or a couple of months. They should then be removed gradually, not all at once. For more information, you can check out this link

New Bill To Control Pet Over-Population
Reporter: Danielle Saar - KKTV

The new year means new laws for Colorado residents.

15 new laws to be exact--that went into effect January 1st.

Among them, House Bill 1185, which is aimed to control the pet population.

Before Fido or Fluffy can go home with you, they need to take a trip to the vet to get spayed or neutered.

"It may be some time period between when an animal is adopted and when it can actually go home," says Donna Straub, Director of Pueblo Animal Services.

Animal shelters and rescue groups now have to spay or neuter cats and dogs before allowing them to be adopted out to a new home.

"There's a huge pet over-population problem in the state, and its a way for legislature to help address the problem," says Straub.

If you bring home an animal without having it neutered first, you must promise to do so within 90 days.

Or there are major consequences.

"There's going to be an officer coming to their door, and they're going to get a citation, and they're going to end up in pay a fine for not complying with the law."

To comply with the law, all you have to do is pay the adoption fee.

"Fifty dollars for adoption. That includes a spay or neuter, shots, its a deal," Straub says.

A deal that not only helps control the pet population, but also keeps your animals healthy.

"It prevents cancer in many of these animals. Its simply trying to help animals in our state."

This law does not apply to animals that are returned to owners from the shelters. Only adopted animals.

'Bird Dog' Protects Countless Airline Passengers
By Emily Oz -

SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though expensive metal detectors and armed security officers abound at all United States airports, airways are also turning to simpler measures to protect the approximate 769 million passengers who fly each year.

They employ dogs, whose hunting and herding abilities come as naturally to them as flying does to the birds.

Sky, a 1-year-old Border Collie, routinely frequents the Southwest Florida International Airport to help keep the birds at bay.

"Good girl. Good job," said James Hess, Sky's handler and the airport's operations manager. "Way to get those birds!"

"To the birds, she's the predator," Hess said. "She's that coyote or wolf they're used to seeing out in the wild."

Sky helps prevent bird strikes, which can cause major damage to an aircraft. Birds can get sucked into an engine or hit a windshield with enough force to cause a pilot to lose control.

"The birds are the largest offenders. They certainly are more high profile offenders because they're the ones that create the greatest danger of air craft in flight," said Mike Brown, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports that during the last 14 years, birds have caused 97 percent of the 82,000 documented aircraft-animal collisions. Eleven of those crashes proved fatal, according to the FAA.

Military bases were the first to utilize dogs to ward off stray birds. The Dover Air Force Base, located in Delaware, has employed dogs to prevent bird strikes since the early 1980s.

Southwest Florida International was the first commercial airport in the nation to pick up the idea nearly 10 years ago.

"We're very proud of the program here at the airport. We're very proud of Sky." said Angie Strait, a public relations coordinator at Southwest International Airport. "We're very happy to have them as part of our team."

Before Sky came to town, two Border Collies, Jet and Radar, served to reduce the number of documented bird strikes. With officials noting the decrease as significant, other "bird dog programs" have continued to spout up at other airports.

Now, roughly 20 U.S. airports utilize bird dogs as part of their wildlife management program.

The work provides the herding dogs with a sense of purpose, while giving flying passengers one less worry to consider in reaching their final destination.

Tell us what you think about “ 'Bird Dog' Protects Countless Airline Passengers” below. Share your favorite videos by clicking on the ZootooTV tab. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 877-777-4204.

Daru: Dog Training Tips & Advice
by - My Fox Colorado

STRASBURG, Colo. -- An untrained dog is an unloved dog... at least that's what Dan Daru has found out.

If you got a new puppy for Christmas, or you have an older dog that could use some training, Dan's story on Friday, January 2 is sure to help.

Dog trainer C.J. Kausel appeared on Good Day Colorado with Dan at Quint Valley Ranch, which is south of Strasburg on the Eastern Plains. They showed us puppy and dog training do's and don'ts . It doesn't matter if your dog is just a family pet, or if he's being trained for hunting, C.J. has some valuable advice.

Watch the video by clicking on the headline on top of this story.

Five Different Types of Canaries Revealed
By Jake D

Did you know that there are many different types of canaries? Some of the different ones include German Roller, American Singer, and Cinnamon. This article will take a look at these different types of birds.

American Singer

The American Singer is by far the most popular choice to keep as a pet. This is thanks to a combination of ease of care and wide variety of songs. Some of these birds can be pretty aggressive, so you need to be careful when keeping more than one together.

German Roller

German Rollers are also pretty common. These birds have the lowest volume thanks to the fact that they sing with their beaks closed. More so that American Singers, German Roller males can be very aggressive. Therefore, it's usually not a good idea to keep two males in the same cage.

Spanish Timbrado

One of the next types of canaries is the Spanish Timbrado. These birds are available in many different colors. They are also capable of singing a wide variety of songs. Unlike German Rollers, they are very loud. If it's warm enough outdoors, you can also keep them outside.


Cinnamon canaries are bred more for their color than for their song. They are well-known for their ultra-fine feathers. In fact, they are said to have the finest feathers of any breed. They are commonly bred with many other breeds.


One of the next types of canaries is the Waterslagger. These birds usually have a light yellow color with dark spots. They only provide up to medium volume when singing since they usually sing with their beaks closed. They are also capable of making bubbling water notes that mimics running water.

These are some of the different types of canaries. If you're thinking about getting one, there are certain things you need to learn about proper care of canaries So, click here now to learn all you need to know about basic canary care

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Your Horse's Attitude Predetermines His Performance
By Kathy Bennett

Horses don't lie. A horse is not going to put his ears forward and pretend he is happy if he is not. If those ears are plastered flat back, and his tail is wringing a vicious circle, you can be certain he is not happy. What you see is what you get.

Training and attitude are two different things. Training teaches the horse to react to cues; attitude is how the horse responds. A negative horse resents and resists. He may go through all the motions, but his performance will be tense and sullen.

The apathetic horse drags himself around dull and oblivious, saying, "I'm bored; I'm brain dead; I don't care." But a horse with a positive attitude shows powerful, focused action.

The Beginning

Let's look at where attitude starts. First of all, if we were to place the horse on a Freudian couch, we would find that he likes to be comfortable. A comfortable horse is content. He is confident in his rider and in his role in the partnership. At the core of this relationship is trust.

Trust is an expectation. When the horse trusts you, he has learned from consistency what will happen if. In other words, if he refuses to stop, he will feel the pressure until he does. If he refuses to turn, he will feel the pressure until he does. If he responds correctly, he will be rewarded.

When the horse knows where he stands, his actions develop power because his confidence increases. If you can plug into the horse's confidence, you can channel that energy into a powerful performance. He becomes a horse who knows his business.

Trust is understood through communication. Communication is a system that sends and receives messages. In order for this system to work, it must be a language that can be exchanged between the two communicating. It means we must do more than tell the horse what to do; we must also listen. Refinement in horsemanship is in direct proportion to the ability to read and react appropriately to what the horse is saying.

Lack of communication is a frustrating thing. If the horse cannot make sense of what you are saying he will be confused, and in reaction to this confusion, he will either tune you out or get hostile. This attitude will manifest itself in apathetic or negative action.

Through communication and attention to his reactions, we teach the horse to accept his role in the partnership, even when he'd rather be out under a shade tree with the breeze blowing his mane.

The Key Element

In order to work, all language must adhere to consistency. Imagine what would happen if you said "Pass the salt," when you really meant, "Where is the milk?" Salt is salt; milk is milk; and whoa is whoa.

Based on your consistency the horse learns the language. He learns to trust his actions. This gives him the courage to be bold and to show his athletic power. To clarify, trust is an expectation, and consistency is how those expectations are established.

Horsemanship's language is called the aids. It is a body language that uses a consistent pressure and release from pressure to express what is being said. If you do not understand the aids, the horse will not be capable of trusting you.

The horse may not want to do what you ask, but his attitude will improve as he learns to expect follow-through from you. Follow-through is a pattern of cue and enforcement that teaches the horse to expect your pressure and release from pressure when he responds to your cues.

The cue always remains the same. The enforcement gets increasingly stronger until the demanded response is given. It looks like this:

cue > enforcement > wrong action

cue > ENforcement > wrong action

cue > ENFORCEMENT > correct action > reward (release from pressure)

The cue doesn't change. It remains consistent and present with every escalation of enforcement. Eventually the horse will respond to the first cue because he seeks the release from pressure. In other words, his obedience and confidence will increase as his expectations are reinforced.

His nature can make him happy in a world of obedience as long as you are fair and he knows what the rules are.

Inconsistencies are mental surprises that make the horse uncomfortable and destroys his ability to trust you. He does not want to be shocked, nor is he delighted by surprises. Shocks and surprises will damage his attitude, especially in the area of communication.

Another element of trust is respect. A respectful horse will pay attention. I'm not talking about a horse walking on eggshells, afraid of every move you make, but the respectful horse who is just aware of you and what you are doing. This a a calm and comfortable kind of respect based on the equine custom of pecking order.

The Natural Order

The horse is a herd animal and pecking order is a natural part of his life. He knows it. He understands it. He is comfortable with it. The horse may occasionally challenge his position, and some horses are spoiled and rebellious because they have been allowed to maintain a superior attitude. But if it is made clear, through consistent use of the aids, that you are his leader, he will accept it as normal and be happy about it.

Respect has a natural awareness for space. Both animals and humans have what is called "their space," and as the dominant steps into the space of the submissive, the submissive moves out of the way.

If the horse moves into your space he is challenging you. When I'm talking about space, I'm talking about that area where we protect ourselves, that place when we feel pressured to move. The horse's attitude toward you will improve when he is not allowed to enter your space and push you around.

This respect for space will carry over from the ground into the saddle as the horse learns to stop challenging your authority. He can enjoy your affection or you may push him around; if the pecking order is intact, it will be comfortable for both of you.

Healthy respect also tunes up the horse's level of responsiveness because the horse's natural desire is to keep track of what is happening up the pecking order. He will be paying attention to you.

Attitude is absolute. It is there in one form or another, and as we teach the horse to trust us we encourage his positive side.

It is your responsibility to establish communication on the horse's level and to understand his needs. You must be fair in your expectations and encourage him toward his potential at a reasonable pace and also take into account that his personality, level of training, and physical condition should match the work he asked to do.

With trust, his performance will gain power from the confidence he has. Good attitude shows. It gives the horse that sparkle that takes him over the line from average to exceptional.

Herd Talk eNewsletter is dedicated to enhancing the horse - human relationship. Many horse related accidents and frustrations are avoidable when you understand how the horse thinks and how to communicate with him in a way that he understands.

Herd Talk subscribers receive their free eNewsletter monthly in their inbox. Topics focus on communication, training techniques, and occasional profiles of horse industry professionals. Also included are free horse image clip art for personal use and for use on club show bills.

Editable preferences and unsubscribe buttons are also included at the bottom of each newsletter.

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5 Questions to Ask Before Bringing Home an Exotic Pet
By CS Swarens

Are you considering purchasing an exotic pet? If so, you aren't alone. A growing number of people are deciding to adopt exotic pets for a wide variety of reasons. But, are you really prepared to bring home an adopted pet? Before you go out and make a purchase, be sure to provide yourself honest answers to a few important questions.

Why Do I Want an Exotic Pet?

The first question you should ask yourself is why you want to purchase an exotic pet in the first place. Is it an impulse purchase because you fell in love with the little critter while stopping in at the pet shop? Do you want the pet because you think it seems cool to own one? Are you trying to be part of the latest fad? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you should really reconsider making the purchase. Remember, taking home a pet requires making a long-term commitment and, once the novelty wears off, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the time and effort required to keep many exotic pets healthy and happy.

Am I Able to Care for the Exotic Pet?

In addition to requiring a time commitment, many exotic pets also require making a substantial monetary commitment as well. In fact, you will likely need to purchase special housing and supplies for your pet. Depending on the availability of specialists you may need to travel an extended distance or pay a premium price for veterinary care.

Is it Legal?

Many exotic pets are illegal to own in certain areas or, even if a pet is legal to own, certain jurisdictions may restrict the ownership of certain pets. Even if a pet store is selling the pet, don't automatically assume it is legal for you to own one. In some cases, you may have to complete certain paperwork in order to be legally permitted to own a pet. So, make certain you are aware of the proper procedures and that you follow them. Otherwise, you may find yourself in legal trouble and you may lose a pet that you have become attached to.

Does the Pet Suit My Household?

When deciding whether or not a pet is right for you, you should also consider your current household situation. Do you already have pets at home? If so, how well will your current pet or pets get along with your new pet? Are the types of pets compatible?

If you have children, you should also consider whether or not the pet is a good fit with your children. Consider the safety and welfare of both your children and your pet before bringing it home.

Do I Know How to Properly Care for the Pet?

Many exotic pet owners make the mistake of bringing home a pet before they really learn how to care for it. Make certain you are aware of the feeding and housing requirements for your pet before you bring it home. You also need to know how long your pet is likely to live and how large it can become. That way, you are prepared to accommodate your pet as it grows larger and its needs change.

Owning an exotic pet can be very exciting and fun. At the same time, exotic pets can be time consuming and expensive to care for. Therefore, you should be certain to do your research and to make sure you are prepared for the commitment before you bring one home.

CS Swarens is the CEO of Find a Pet Online. 800 998-7065

For additional information on dogs, cats, birds, horses, and exotic pets visit the internet's resource for pets for sale.

Research pet information with detailed profiles of over 430 pet breeds.

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Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part X
The Boston Globe

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