Dream Job: Pet Sitter

Death of an American Hero -
Roselle The 9/11 Guide Dog

9-11 Hero and Guide Dog, Roselle passed away on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at the age of 13, surrounded by her loving family, Michael and Karen Hingson. Roselle safely guided Michael Hingson and others down 78 floors of the World Trade Center moments before it collapsed. A book about her life is being released soon.

Roselle and Michael Hingson first met on November 22, 1999 at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Although blind from birth, Michael Hingson earned a Master's Degree in Physics from the University of California, Irvine and has always competed successfully in a sighted world. Roselle was Michael's fifth guide dog and according to Michael "It was obvious from our very first walk together that we were a perfect match." The teamwork that Michael and Roselle developed would come to the ultimate test.

On September 11, 2001 Michael Hingson and Roselle were in their office on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center when it was struck by American Airlines flight 11. Working as a team, Roselle led Michael, along with the others on their floor, down the darkened stairwell to safety moments before the building collapsed.

Their amazing story has inspired people around the world and is the subject of a new book called "Thunder Dog: The true story of a blind man, his Guide Dog, and the triumph of trust at Ground Zero." Co-authored by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory, the book will be available soon in bookstores, Amazon and on www.michaelhingson.com.

"I would not be alive today if it weren't for Roselle," Michael states with gratitude. "Roselle did an incredible job and is a true hero. She remained poised and calm through the entire day, giving kisses and love wherever she could, while working valiantly when she needed to do so. Roselle's service on 9/11 was a testimony not only to the Sterns and the others who raised her, but to her trainer, Todd Jurek, the entire Guide Dogs for the Blind training staff, and all the people who make up that wonderful organization. Most of all, what Roselle did that day and in fact every day she and I were together is nothing less than the most powerful evidence I can provide of the enduring value of trust and teamwork."

In the aftermath of 9/11, in January 2002, Roselle began accompanying Michael who left a long career in high tech computer sales to serve as the National Public Affairs Director for Guide Dogs for the Blind, based in San Rafael, CA. Roselle and Michael spent countless hours speaking to the media, including appearances on Larry King Live, interviews with Regis and Kelly and the CBS Morning Show, even riding on a float in the 2002 Rose Parade on New Year's Day. Roselle and Michael traveled hundreds of thousands of miles throughout the United States and the rest of the world speaking about trust and teamwork, guide dogs, and blindness. Their goal was to help people understand that the real "handicap" of blindness is not a lack of eyesight but a lack of proper education about blindness.

On Friday, June 24, 2011, Roselle was taken to her vet, who suspected that somehow she had developed a stomach ulcer. As her condition continued to deteriorate, Michael and Karen and Roselle's doctor came to the painful conclusion that the best thing they could do to help Roselle was to end her suffering.

Roselle passed at 8:52 on Sunday night.

Michael, although deeply saddened by her passing, is grateful for his time with her: "Roselle worked with me through the most trying time in our nation's history, and she was right there unflinching for all of it.

In addition to the soon-to-be-released book, "Thunder Dog," Roselle has inspired the formation of "Roselle's Dream Foundation," which has been in development for several months. The purpose of the foundation is to educate people about blindness, and to assist blind children and later blind adults to obtain new technologies to empower them to learn, work and engage in life more fully. Donations can be made in Roselle's memory at: www.rosellefoundation.org

Michael Hingson is president of the Michael Hingson Group and is an international speaker on trust, teamwork. For more information or to book Michael, you can call (415) 827-4084 or e-mail Michael at info(at)michaelhingson(dot)com

70-Pound Tortoise Lifted from Lincolnwood Pet Store
By Andrew L. Wang - chicagotribune.com

Spur, a giant female Sulcata tortoise stolen from The Animal Store in Lincolnwood.

The people who pilfered a 70-pound tortoise from a Lincolnwood exotic animal store early this morning may have unwittingly gotten more than they bargained for, the store's owner said.

Sure, a reptile of such stature might fetch up to $1,500 to the right buyer, but care and cleanup are other matters, said Kenn Bearman, owner of The Animal Store.

"The first time it takes a dump in your bedroom, you're going to be sorry," he said.

Spur, 30, a female Sulcata tortoise, has been missing since about 3:30 a.m., when Bearman got a call from the alarm company saying there had been a break-in at the store, 4364 W. Touhy Ave. When he arrived, the glass front door of the store was shattered and Spur was gone.

Surveillance video from a camera inside the store shows caged cockatoos, chinchillas and prairie dogs all jump at one moment, apparently at the sound of breaking glass, he said. A person's foot can be seen protruding about 18 inches into the doorway and then it is gone, Bearman said.

Spur usually spends her days in a tile pen at the front of the store. She is something of a local celebrity, appearing at children's birthday parties, fairs and block parties.

"The kids don't ride her or anything, but they chase her around," Bearman said. "She's pretty quick for a tortoise."

Sulcata tortoises, also known as African spurred tortoises or African spur-thigh tortoises, hail from Subsaharan Africa and typically live 30 to 50 years. Bearman acquired Spur about 20 years ago, when she was about 10 inches long.

Bearman doubts anyone would steal a tortoise on a whim and wonders if the thief stole Spur for a waiting buyer. After all, moving around a 70-pound reptile with a shell is no small feat. Neither is unloading one on the open market.

Police have taken a report, and Bearman has publicized the theft on his blog and Facebook, and he has friends in the exotic animal community on the lookout. There has been talk of a reward, but really Bearman just wants his tortoise back, no questions asked.

"Just bring her back," he said.

Snake Expert Killed by Pet Cobra
By ninemsn staff

An English snake breeder has died after being bitten by one of his pet king cobras, just days after boasting they would never hurt him.

Snake expert Luke Yeomans, 47, died of a heart attack yesterday immediately after being bitten by the reptile.

He kept 24 snakes in a compound behind his Nottinghamshire home as a "safety net" to protect them against extinction and was planning to open up the space to the public.

Mr Yeomans had previously written on his website that his King Cobra Sanctuary breeding colony was going to offer the public the chance to see the "large and dangerous, but also misunderstood venomous snake".

In a recent interview to publicise the sanctuary’s opening, he said the trust he had built with the reptiles ensured they would not turn on him, the Mirror reports.

"They know I provide them with fresh food and water, and so they are not going to go out of their way to do harm to me when I do no harm to them whatsoever, " he said.

Police said Mr Yeomans was pronounced dead at the scene about 2pm yesterday and the snake had been contained.

"Nottinghamshire Police will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death in conjunction with the appropriate agency and will liaise with the coroner's office," a statement from the local police department said.

What Our Pets Think of Us
by Steve Dale - usatoday.com

Thor nibbled on his owner’s ear. The pit bull worked hard to awaken Kemper Hunter and his girlfriend, Sarah Laughlin. Instantly, they understood Thor’s urgency. They desperately attempted to fight the smoke to get to Shelby, their 3-month-old baby, but couldn’t. The fire department arrived to find the panicked couple screaming outside their home, assuming they had lost their baby and their dog in the still-blazing fire.

Just then, they all witnessed Thor pulling the bassinet out the door to safety. Baby and dog were OK.

Last summer, Hunter, who lives in Bristol, Ind., told me, “I’m convinced if it wasn’t for my dog, we would all be dead.” The firefighters agreed.

At one time, scientists believed that dogs responded this way to save themselves, and in the process, they sometimes happened to save human lives. But in this and many other stories like it, the dog clearly risked his life. It appears as if Thor made a conscious decision to seek out and save the baby. How can this behavior be explained?

Certified applied animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell has a pretty simple explanation. “It’s love,” she says.

Animal behavior experts once maintained that such self-sacrificing decisions are impossible for animals to make, and any suggestion they could was nothing more than anthropomorphizing — ascribing human emotions and thoughts to animals. To believe our pets react, and are motivated to risk their own lives based on love, was considered absurd and without any scientific basis in fact.

“As scientists, we’re taught to look for an explanation,” McConnell says. “Dogs form similar social attachments (as people do), and I believe it is quite simple: A dog does totally love us,” McConnell says. “People will place their own lives in jeopardy for those we love, and so will dogs.”
But are dogs truly capable of love? “We selected (over thousands of years) for a close bonding relationship with dogs,” veterinary behaviorist Karen

Overall says. “And as a result, today the neurochemistry in dogs’ brains is nearly identical to ours.”

It turns out people and dogs both have corresponding rising oxytocin when they’re having a good time with one another.

Do dogs make a conscious decision to play Lassie in real life? Animal cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz has a special interest in anthropomorphism. She says canine valiant behavior may be explained in terms other than thoughtful conscious choices, such as a dog acting out anxiety (the dog smells smoke and is overwhelmed physically by its affects) or exhibiting attention-seeking behavior. Dogs are creatures of habit, she says, and also extremely observant. Being social, dogs tend to “tell us” whenever there’s a change in the environment. It’s another thing to believe that dogs are actually intent on knowingly saving our lives; not that they wouldn’t, but Horowitz wonders whether they really have the capacity to think about it in those terms.

Overall is on a task force studying military working dogs. She says that when dogs fail and soldiers die, the dogs behave differently. “They seem acutely aware of human deaths,” she says. “Without question, they act depressed.”

Some cats, dogs and even parrots seem to mourn after the death of a family member. But are they mourning or responding to change?

Horowitz says that in some ways her dog probably understands her better than her husband does. “When I walk in the door, the dog doesn’t think, ‘Wow, she’s had a crummy day.’ But the dog knows instantly if something is wrong,” Horowitz says. “Dogs are such keen observers of cues which we are unaware we are even sending. It’s not what we say, it’s how we act. And probably how we smell.”

But do our dogs all unconditionally love us? “The truth is, probably not,” McConnell says with a laugh. “We have selected for dogs to be incredibly adaptable. There are so many examples of what they put up with. I’m not necessarily talking about abuse, but people who confound and confuse their dogs just because we are people. Yet, those dogs still hang in there. They still love us and might give their life for us. But do some dogs have a stronger bond with their people than others? Of course.”

Dogs are called our best friends for a reason. Call it love or call it social bonding, but whatever you call it, it’s impressive. And it works both ways. We still have a lot to learn about what dogs really think, but it’s likely that dogs understand us better than we understand them.


Tortoise Stolen from Pet Store Returned
By John P. Huston and Carlos Sadovi - chicagotribune.com

A 70-pound tortoise stolen from a Lincolnwood exotic animal store has been returned "with only a few minor dings," the store owner said this morning.

One of many tips to police and the store led to her being found late this morning a few blocks from the pet store, said Kenn Bearman, owner of the Animal Store, 4364 W. Touhy Ave. in the north suburb.

"We are happy to report that she has been returned safely. She's a little freaked out, but otherwise healthy," Bearman said in an e-mail late this morning.

In an interview, Bearman said he believes all the media attention on the story led the people who stole her to let her loose. The people who found her -- who wished to remain anonymous -- said they spotted her in a nearby backyard, he said.

"My story is that it got too hot to keep her, everybody in the world knew about this missing tortoise thanks to (the media)," he said. "She was walking through the backyards of a nearby neighborhood just eating."

He said that while she had a few dings, she seemed in good health though a little frightened.

"She's not coming out of her shell too much, she's pretty stunned," said Bearman. "When they found her they said she was eating, she was inhaling all the grass so she was happy."

John Ringelberg, of Grand Haven, Mich. was one of the tipsters, including people from Indiana and as far as Florida. Ringelberg was sitting on his porch with his wife Saturday when they spotted a tortoise walking down the riverfront with two women.

"It's not every day you see a tortoise that size walking down the sidewalk," Ringelberg said. "This bugger was up on his legs and he was moving. I mean, this sucker can move, I'm telling you."

That seemed to have squared with a Tribune story Ringelberg's wife read online about Spur, 30, the female Sulcata tortoise that was stolen from The Animal Store, about 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

"We just thought, 'Somebody's running around here with a hot tortoise,' " Ringelberg said.

He sent photos of the tortoise to Lincolnwood police who showed them to store owner Kenn Bearman.

"It looks too small," Bearman said. And the Grand Haven tortoise was too shiny.

"These guys would have to do a lot of body work on her," Bearman said, noting that his employees only give Spur's shell a buffing once a month.

The other tip also included one from a woman in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Bearman said, but that wasn't Spur, either.

But he's glad the story of Spur's abduction has received notice in the press and that she has returned home.

"I don't think she's taking a road trip for a while," said Bearman.

Andrew Wang contributed to this report.

Jennifer Aniston Reveals Tattoo is in 'Homage' to Her Dog
Damian Grass - allheadlinenews.com

Jennifer Aniston has revealed that her first tattoo is actually in ”homage” to her recently deceased dog Norman.

The 42-year-old actress, who starred in the 2008 hit film “Marley and Me,” said Monday she tattooed the name of her beloved pet of 15 years on the inside of her right foot, reports Entertainment Tonight.

“That’s my dog. My baby who just passed away,” she explained. “I never thought that would ever happen. It’s just my way to pay homage to him -- forever.”

Aniston said her Welsh corgi-terrier mix, who would tag along to all her movie sets, passed away in May from complications of old age.

In other interviews, the actress has referred to Norman as a “person in a dog suit” and said she had wished some of the men in her life had shared some of the dog’s characteristics.

"It wouldn't be bad if, when a man comes home, he'd run to his woman with his tail wagging. This sort of excitement is something I've always missed in a man."

Aniston stars in the upcoming black comedy “Horrible Bosses,” which premieres in theaters on July 8.

Tribute: Jennifer Aniston was spotted with the tattoo on her right foot last week, which is in honour of her late dog Norman

Middlesbrough Woman Appeals
for Her Stolen Pictures of Beloved Dog
by Krysta Eaves, Evening Gazette

A HEARTBROKEN pet owner is appealing for her stolen phone to be returned as it contains cherished pictures of her dog that died.

Rosemary Barwick is making a heartfelt plea to get her phone back as it holds sentimental snaps of her dog Kai, who died in May.

She says she would regularly look at the pictures on her Nokia N72, which was taken from her home on Friday at about 11.30am.

Rosemary, of Maple Street, Middlesbrough, said: “To me he was my baby, he wasn’t a dog. He was my life, that dog. I used to sit and look at his photo on my phone. I’ve got his ashes but I have no pictures of him.”

As well as the pictures there was also a video of Kai, a collie cross, which Rosemary took a few days before he died from cancer.

There were also photos of her two-year-old grandaughter Sophie on the phone.

Rosemary, who has two other dogs, Lexi and Ben, said: “To them it will just be a phone, but I can’t replace the pictures or video of him.

“I would do anything to get those photos back.”

Now Rosemary hopes that by making an appeal in the Gazette someone may be able to return the phone to her.

She said: “He was a lovely dog. He was such a character.

“Everywhere I went he was behind me. Those pictures are all I have of Kai.”

Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 01642 303126.

Consider Child's Maturity When Choosing Family Pet
Written by Devin White - shreveporttimes.com

Child's age, level of maturity among the factors to consider

Erin Jones and her five year old daughter Kailey Houston laugh when their dog, Izzy, runs towards the camera. Besides their dog they also have a guinea pig, Michael. / Henrietta Wildsmith

"Sit, Miley, sit," said 8-year-old Lauren Fredieu, of Haughton,

The "snorkie," a schnauzer/Yorkshire terrier mix, dutifully listened and received a treat.

"I'm going to try to teach her to chase her tail," Lauren said.

According to Trista Fredieu, owning a pet has not only provided companionship for her family, but it has also taught daughter Lauren a few important qualities.

"It teaches them responsibility and teaches them how to take care of something," she said.

Veterinarian Jennifer Conduff, of Animal Emergency Clinic in Shreveport, adds that owning a pet can teach children compassion and empathy, but when choosing the right pet, parents need to consider their child's age.

"It's really important to make sure that you give a child age-appropriate responsibilities," she said. "A 4-year-old can learn how to be gentle and kind with animals, but if you have a 9- or a 10-year-old they can learn how to take on more responsibilities as far as feeding and caring for the pet."

Conduff advises families to keep in mind the added responsibility of caring for a pet as well as the financial cost.

"Consider the additional cost that a pet might have on your budget with things like food and health care," she said. "Unfortunately, pets do get sick sometimes, and it would be an additional expense."

Erin Jones, of Shreveport, grew up with pets, including dogs, birds and rabbits. She wants her 5-year-old daughter, Kailey Houston, to grow up taking care of animals as well, so when Kailey was 3 years old, they adopted Michael, a guinea pig.

"I felt that it would be easier to take care of the guinea pig than a dog," Jones said. "Owning a dog is a big obligation, so we started with something small."

After proving to her mom that she could handle caring for a guinea pig, Jones added a Yorkshire terrier to the family and, so far, Izzy has fit right in.

Unfortunately, not all pets and families hit it off, Conduff said. But there are plenty of options for "re-homing" animals.

"Some breeders will have an adopt-back or buy-back policy. You can also call some of the local rescue organizations or even the Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana for advice on re-homing," she said.
As for Lauren's pal Miley, she's not going anywhere other than for a few walks around the block and a playful romp in the backyard.

"The best part about having her is if you want something to do, you have somebody to play with, and if your friends aren't home, you have a doggie to play with," she said.

Tips for Choosing Pets
Infants: If you already have a family pet when your child is born or if you adopted soon after, make sure to formally introduce your infant to your pet. Supervise them as they get to know each other, gradually increasing the length of time they spend together.

Toddlers: Toddlers are curious and will pull at an animal's fur, limbs and ears in an attempt to make contact through touching. Make sure that the pet you've adopted can handle being touched in this way. Take great care that your child doesn't hurt your pet by grabbing.

3-5 years: At this age, your child is learning about contact and empathy. ASPCA experts recommend a guinea pig for a pet. Guinea pigs like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy, to the delight of most kids. Your child can also help with responsibilities by filling the water bottle and food dish.

5-10 years: Kids this age have inconsistent attention spans and are best off with small pets such as gerbils and goldfish. Supervise them during play sessions and while they do chores, such as cleaning cages, filling water bottles and bowls. This is a good time to develop good hygiene habits around pets with an emphasis on washing hands and surfaces when done handling or playing.

10-13 years: They are ready for pets such as dogs, cats and rabbits and can handle feeding and walking the pet, cleaning the cat's litter and cleaning out the rabbit's cage. Although kids in this age group can be reliable, adults should always check that pets have adequate food and water and that the cage or litter box is clean. Kids can also participate in dog training classes, which can be an excellent learning opportunity for them.

How To Teach Your Small Pet Tricks
By Marna Kazmaier - smallanimalchannel.com

Pet rats playing pianos, guinea pigs spinning in circles, ferrets jumping through hoops, rabbits sitting up on cue, hamsters running agility courses, gerbils wearing clothes — these are just a few of the wonderful things that pet owners are training their small pets to do these days. How do they do it?

Train Yourself First
First the trainer needs to learn how to teach. When training any type of animal, think of it like this: If someone came to you and spoke a foreign language and tried to teach you a task, what would it take for you to understand? Work your pets with that same perspective. Believe it or not, I have seen people talk louder and slower to an animal, perhaps thinking that the animal would understand better if the words were just a bit louder and/or slower?

Communication is the key to animal training. Small pets have ears and hear very well, they can and do learn words we teach them. Words, not paragraphs. Keep your cues/commands in a word and use the same word consistently. When an average person trains a dog, they tell the dog “down.” “Down” might mean, “get off me” and another time it might mean to “lay down” and another time it might mean to “get off the couch.” People have no idea they are confusing the dog.

For the full article, pick up the 2012 issue of Critters USA.

13 Tips to Cut Your Pet's Veterinary Bills
By Erica Sandberg - creditcards.com

Americans love to own pets, and like all living things, they need care. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 43 million households in the United States own a dog, and 37 million households own cats, and they cost us a mean of $200 per dog and $81 per cat, per year. But sometimes, the high cost of pet care can drive people into debt.

Bruce Silverman, VMD, of Village West Veterinary in Chicago, shared these 13 tips to reducing the cost of veterinary care.

1. Know your vet's fees in advance. The cost of basic care shouldn't come as a shock. Don't be afraid to call around to compare.

2. Look for places with alternative payment policies. If your vet's policies don't meet your financial constraints, find one with more flexible payment arrangements.

3. Get pet credit or insurance. Advances in medical technology allow specialty veterinary centers to offer the same high tech care offered to human patients. But without pet insurance or good credit to qualify for a pet health credit card, you may not be able to afford it.

4. Ask even the most uncomfortable questions. It's difficult to decide on what to do or pay for in an emergency. Ask your vet what he would do in your situation, and use the vet's response as a baseline for your decisions.

5. Research your pet's health problem. The Internet has a lot of unsubstantiated information, but it also has some great sources to learn about what's ailing your pet, and the type and cost of care it may need.

6. Beware of "bait and switch" advertising. Sometimes a free exam becomes a strong-arm tactic to sell you more than your pet needs.

7. Understand all options. Pet care at both the high and low ends of the cost spectrum may be only minimally helpful. Often there's a happy medium offering the broadest treatment success.

8. Request detailed explanations. If your vet says your pet needs a specific procedure, ask why. Get a second opinion if the answer leaves you with more questions than answers.

9. Practice preventative care. Early intervention is always the best medicine.

10. Read online reviews. Websites such as Yelp can help you find vets who offer the best care at the best price. Be skeptical about comments that are repeated by multiple reviewers -- they could be placed by the vet's friends or foes.

11. Prepare for end-of-life (palliative) care. As your pet ages, medical treatment often becomes more frequent and expensive. As the benefits get lower, you may need to weigh what your limited resources may be buying for your loved one.

12. Negotiate fees respectfully. Haggling with your vet is not recommended, but it never hurts to ask for a price reduction if you truly need a break.

13. A new or improved hospital may directly translate into higher fees. If you've been a loyal client for years, and have noticed the sudden markups, let them know how you feel -- in a tactful manner.

Outdoor Cats Need Tick Protection
Marci Kladnik - Santa Maria Times

Those of us who enjoy a multispecies household understand the need to protect our dogs from ticks. This is also true for our outdoor kitties and ‘tis the season.

There are nine species of ticks found in our state. Although most of these do not commonly feed on humans, dogs or cats, the others do and can pass on disease with their bites. Therefore, the need for protection is warranted.

Ticks are most often encountered during the warm, dry months of the year, though they are present all the time. There is even one called “the winter tick” which feeds on horses and deer. Unlike other species, these do not drop off after engorging but remain on the host to feed again so you are unlikely to see one of these on a household pet.

A cat’s natural grooming technique often dispatches any onboard tick that is within reach, so be sure to examine the face, ears, neck, armpits and between the toes for any holdouts. If you find one, remove it carefully. Prompt removal also helps prevent infections of tick-borne diseases.

Males are flat and do not attach themselves to a host but may be seen scuttling away. It is the female that feeds after mating and before dropping off to lay her eggs. This is the easiest time to catch one as it will be stationary.

Wearing gloves, use blunt-nosed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull gently until it releases. Be careful when removing a feeding tick to prevent leaving mouth and head parts behind in the skin as they can cause a local skin infection.

If you don’t have tweezers with you or prefer not to pull on the tick, try this. Using your finger, begin circling around the parasite, continually brushing it as you go until it backs out of the skin. I watched a vet do this on my dog, and upon trying it myself, found it works quite nicely. It sometimes takes a bit of time, but it does the job and you’ll know nothing was left behind.

Do not pinch or crush the tick as any released blood may be dangerous to you. Instead, seal it in a small container with rubbing alcohol. Ticks can survive an alcohol dunk and toilet flushing and live to infect another animal, so put it in the garbage outside.

Tick-borne diseases come in three forms: viral, bacterial and parasitic. We are all familiar with Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which affect humans, but your cat or dog can also be infected with these and others.

Protect your animals with species-specific products and yourself as well with a repellant containing DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for the clothes). If you suspect your yard of being infested, treat it too and keep the tall grasses and shrubs cleared in the areas frequented by your pets.

Marci Kladnik is a board member of Catalyst for Cats. For more information, call 685-1563 or visit www.catalyst forcats.org.

Professional Sitters Step in When Owners are Away
BY ROD LOCKWOOD - toledoblade.com

Marilyn Schnapp, a professional pet sitter who has owned Luv’n Your Pets for 12 years, says she enjoys being around animals. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

Marilyn Schnapp’s clients greet her every day with big toothy grins, some of them jumping with unrestrained joy when they see her walk in the door. Others yowl excitedly and rub themselves against her legs.

Just imagine how cool it would be if you walked into work every morning to this: "YOU’RE HERE!!!! YOU’RE HERE!!!! OH MY GOSH, I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!!!!!!!!!"

For a professional pet sitter it’s the daily routine, and for many of them that reaction is the biggest fringe benefit of a job that requires relentlessly adhering to a schedule, maintaining the finely detailed logistical coordination of an army on the move, and possessing a unique combination of people and pet skills.

"When you walk in the door everybody goes, ‘Yay, she’s here,’ so that part is really cool," said Lisa Damschroder, who has operated Pet Valet in the Toledo area for 10 years. "And it’s a very personal business because people are letting you into their homes to take care of their babies, their living creatures, and I take that very seriously."

Her attitude was echoed by Ms. Schnapp, who has owned Luv’n Your Pets for 12 years.

"They’re all glad to see me, every one of them. I just enjoy being around animals, I’ve always had animals and I enjoy teaching them new things."

Not surprisingly in a country where there are an estimated 77 million dogs and about the same number of cats — not to mention birds, rabbits, turtles, hamsters, and who-knows-what — pet sitting has become a fairly bustling business. The trade association Pet Sitters International has 8,000 members and a third of them make $40,000 a year or more caring for pets in the animals’ homes.

There are nine pet sitting services listed in the Toledo-area AT&T Yellow Pages catering to pet owners who need someone to check in on their animals while they’re on vacation, unexpectedly out of town, or dealing with long hours at work. These are generally people who don’t want to take their animals — dogs especially — to kennels.

Comfort factor

Chris Davies of Sylvania has utilized Ms. Schnapp’s services for about nine years. She has four dogs, four cats, and a bird and she said she has complete trust in the pet sitter to ensure that if she’s gone, the animals are in good hands.

"The thing I like about Marilyn is she doesn’t come in and say, ‘Go potty’ and leave. She spends time with the animals," Ms. Davies said.

Sally Jeffrey, a professional pet sitter, lets Rascal, a female shih-tzu, have a treat after their walk around the perimeter of Sunset House. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

Over time they’ve developed a strong personal friendship that grows from trusting someone to look after pets that in some cases need medical treatment — Ms. Schnapp has given insulin shots to Ms. Davies’ diabetic cat — a theme that was repeated by other pet sitters in the area.

"It’s just a comfort you have to have because your dogs are part of your family," Ms. Davies said. "I love those people who do that kind of stuff. It’s a comforting thing for me to go away and have her here."

What you need to know

Hiring a pet sitter starts with determining how often you will need the person, whether it’s every day or just a couple of times a year for vacation. Of course, you need to make sure that your animals are friendly with strangers and that they’ll accept someone coming into the home when you’re gone.

Professional pet sitters are bonded and insured, which means if anything turns up missing in your home or your pet is injured or lost, those costs are covered. If the pet sitter is not bonded or insured, you might want to look for one who is because it is a general professional standard.

You should always interview the prospective sitter before making a decision to make sure you have a good feel for the person, that he or she meets your animals in advance, and that you feel comfortable about the relationship. After all, you’re giving this person a key to your house and entrusting your animal to him or her.

Sally Jeffrey of We Share Pet Care in Toledo recommends checking the Better Business Bureau and doing some simple Google searches to double-check the sitter’s qualifications and see if any complaints have been registered. She also said it helps if the sitter has his or her own animals.

"It doesn’t really take a lot of training to do this, it just takes common sense, but I probably wouldn’t trust somebody who doesn’t have pets," Ms. Jeffrey said.

The fees for pet sitters are generally $15-$20 a visit, but they vary based on factors such as how many animals you have and what’s required.

One major advantage of hiring a sitter is that your animals don’t have to be kenneled. While many kennels are fine, they involve taking the pet — usually a dog — out of his element into one that can be strange and potentially stressful. For some dogs this isn’t a problem, while others don’t react well.

Professional pet sitter Marilyn Schnapp takes Zoe for a walk. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

Dorothy Ashley of West Toledo hired Ms. Schnapp several years ago to watch her five Labrador retrievers when she and her family go on vacation because she was tired of kenneling them.

"They get real depressed; they were outside their environment and [at home] they get excellent care by Marilyn and they’re in their own environment and that’s a comfort for me," Ms. Ashley said.

Hard work

Working as a pet sitter is a surprisingly demanding job. Your schedule has to be finely tuned so you don’t have too many clients and each morning, afternoon, and evening you have to coordinate your visits so the animals get outside to do their business, have some time to stretch and play or walk, and eat.

Cat litter boxes need to be checked and sometimes animals require medication.

Ms. Damschroder said summers and holidays are hectic.

"Summertime is always extremely busy for me. On a busy day I basically do three shifts where I’m doing a group of pet visits in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening," she said. "It’s extremely busy. I would not recommend trying pet sitting if you have another job because it’s impossible. This is a seven-day-a-week job and you have to be available all the time."

Ms. Schnapp said the job is "24/7" and she has as many as 50 active clients at a time. Of course they don’t need her all at once, but she has everything from regulars who have her come over and walk their dog a couple of times a day to people who are vacationing or need last-minute help.

Ms. Jeffrey has been running her business for four years and, like Ms. Damschroder and Ms. Schnapp, she said the most rewarding part is the relationships you develop with the clients and the animals.

But, she added one piece of advice for cleaning up after your "customers."

"I had a part-time job and quit that to do this full-time because I’ve become that busy, which is wonderful. I’d much rather do pet-sitting than anything. And you can’t be allergic to poop, that’s for sure. You have to be poop-friendly," she said, laughing.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.

Vet Says a Hairball a Week is Normal for Most Cats
By SUE MANNING - nwsource.com

Karen Halligan gives petroleum jelly to her her cat Nathan at her home in Marina del Rey, Calif..

LOS ANGELES — Hairballs are normal in cats, but they're a nuisance for cat-owners to deal with. There are a few things you can do, though, to reduce hairballs and other feline dietary upsets.

Cats ingest a lot of hair because their tongues have tiny tentacles (papillae) that act like brushes when they clean, explained Dr. Karen Halligan, author, TV consultant and director of veterinary services for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles.

When hair builds up in a cat's stomach, it turns into balls or wads, causing the cat to vomit. Once a week is normal and nothing to worry about, "but more than once a week is too much," Halligan said.

A number of over-the-counter dietary supplements such as Petromalt can be given to cats to help prevent hairballs, but Halligan uses a simple home remedy. She puts a dab of petroleum jelly on her fingertip and lets her cats, Kinky and Nathan, lick it off.

Lynea Lattanzio has a lot of experience with hairballs as founder of a sanctuary where 1,000 cats live called Cat House on the Kings, located on the Kings River in Parlier, Calif. "I give people a lot of advice on hairballs," she said. "You can put mineral oil on their food to help them slide it out, or Vaseline on their shoulder so they can lick it."

Just "don't put it on their paws," she added. "They shake and it gets all over the walls. Put it where they can't shake it off."

Halligan and Lattanzio agree brushing is probably the best remedy.

"I brush mine every day. It pulls out all the dead hair so they don't ingest it when they groom," Halligan said.

If your cat doesn't like being brushed, you might be pressing too hard or using the wrong type of brush, she said.

At Cat House on the Kings, the 20-plus employees — including one who does nothing but change litter boxes all day long — don't have time to brush all the cats, and the feral cats wouldn't allow it anyway. But this is the time of year when cats are shedding their coats and getting ready for summer, so workers brush as many cats as they can each week, Lattanzio said.

"Their hair goes poof, it seems to come off them in clouds. If you don't remove it by brushing, then they will remove it by grooming and then they will eat it and they will get hairballs," Lattanzio said.

Lattanzio says older cats get brushed first because "they are less likely to groom and more likely to suffer the adverse effects." She also gives some of the longhair cats what's called a Himalayan cut, leaving hair only on their heads, feet and tails.

But Halligan advised caution in close cuts for light-skinned cats as they can get cancer from exposure to the sun, even if they live indoors and lie in front of a window.

If a cat is vomiting and there is no hair in it, hairballs probably aren't the problem.

"The most common is kidney disease, then pancreatitis and then food allergies," Halligan said. Even flea sensitivity can cause a cat to vomit — and go bald.

Some owners swear by grain-free food as a way to reduce tummy troubles, or by adding bran or fiber, pumpkin, prunes, psyllium hulls or slippery elm to the cat's diet. But Halligan advises consulting with a vet before making dietary changes.

She's added pumpkin to cat food to remedy constipation, but she noted that cats are carnivores, programmed to eat animal protein, and may have trouble processing carbohydrates.

On the other hand, she said, a diet of nothing but grain-free food is not necessarily good either. "Grain-free is low in carbohydrates and high in protein," she explained. "Some of the cheaper foods use corn or other vegetables as the protein source, which is not good for cats. The grain-frees have done well because they have lower carbohydrates and essentially are a high-protein diet. But we are not sure how that's going to affect the kidneys long-term because it's a lot of protein. It might be too much. You can feed some grain-free but that shouldn't be their main diet."

Halligan's cats eat only canned food. She recommends pet owners feed their pets at least 50 percent canned food — and believes 75 percent would be better. "The only benefit of dry is that it's cheaper," she said, adding: "My cat Nathan, if I give him regular dry cat food, he vomits like crazy. Once I switched over to canned, no vomiting."

Excessive vomiting may require blood tests or X-rays to reveal the problem. Cats will eat catnip mice, needles and thread, buttons, earrings, erasers, tin foil balls, and almost any other small thing they can bat around, Halligan said.

"They will play with it, then swallow it. My cat has a fetish for rubber bands. Those things keep vets in business."

Hairballs can also get stuck in a cat's intestines. A cat that stops eating for 24 or 48 hours and repeatedly vomits is at risk for dehydration and liver failure. In as little as three days, jaundice can set in, with telltale symptoms of yellowing of the gums, ears and whites of the eyes. Fast treatment by a vet is essential.

"If you get them to us on time, we can probably save them," she said.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Raise Wild Animals as Pets
Jenn Savedge - mnn.com

Let's say you're walking with your kids in the woods or a neighborhood park and you come across what looks like an abandoned baby bunny. Do you keep walking? Should you try to raise that bunny as your own?

Neither. You should call your local wildlife rehabilitation center and have one of their employees come out to take a look. Oh, come on, you say. Bunnies (or squirrels, or fawns) make great pets, right? Everybody knows someone who told stories of having one of these wild animals as a pet as a kid. But what most folks leave out of the "raising a baby squirrel" tale is the story about the day that the wild squirrel (or bunny, or bird) went a little "crazy" and had to be released back into the wild.

Wild animals are not pets, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Here are five reasons why you should not try to raise a wild animal on your own:

1. It's illegal. It is against the law to try to raise any type of wild animal in captivity. That goes for baby crocodiles and monkeys from the illegal pet trade as well as baby robins and bunnies from your back yard.

2. You can't domesticate a wild animal. Domestication is a process that takes centuries within an animal species. Dogs and cats have been bred as pets for thousands of years. You can't simply love the wild out of an animal.

3. Wild animals carry diseases. Did you know that many wild animals — like raccoons or skunks — can be carriers for rabies without showing any symptoms? And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tens of thousands of people get salmonella infections each year from wild reptiles or amphibians. Bringing a wild animal into your home exposes your whole family — you, your kids, and your pets — to a slew of potentially fatal diseases.

4. They don't stay little forever. Baby animals, by their very nature, are hard to resist. They are incredibly cute and appear dependent upon others for their very survival. But within a few months, those babies grow up and their natural instincts kick in. They may bite, scratch, tear up the furniture, or worse. This is usually the time that most people who have tried raising a wild animal decide it's time to release it back into the wild. But the problem is that the baby animal may not have developed the critical skills necessary — like hunting for food or evading predators — to survive in the wild.

5. They may not need rescuing. Remember the baby bunny you came across in the park? He may have looked abandoned, but the truth is that mother bunnies generally stay away from their babies during the day to avoid drawing attention to them. They typically check on them and feed them once during the night, and even then they only stay for about five minutes. It may sound harsh, but that is exactly what a baby bunny needs to survive. Not a medicine dropper filled with organic skim milk.

If you really think a baby animal is in trouble, call a local wildlife center to ask for advice, but don't bring it home. You won't be doing the baby, or your family, any favors.

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