Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dog Walking Safety Tips

Good Day Everyone!

As we all know, walking a dog isn't just a walk...its bonding, exploring and on that rare occasion heart stopping terror...

So, here's a quick list of the potential dangers you may encounter out on a walk with your best friend:

  1. Automobiles
  2. Stray Dogs (aggressive)
  3. Wildlife
  4. Poisonous Plants
  5. Sudden Storms
  6. Pet Emergencies

First off, never ever accept the fact that while crossing a street, even with the walk signal, that people are paying attention.  Chances are they are not.  Most people these days are in a rush or even worse, on their cell phone.  I encountered this today when I was crossing a busy road with Mara and someone on a cell phone came inches from hitting me and Mara.  Always be alert to what motorists are doing and be prepared to encounter the zombies behind the wheel.

Stray Dogs (aggressive)

This has happened to me more than once, and I cant describe the adrenaline rush that occurs except to say you shake for a good hour after the encounter.  Being prepared is by far the best thing you can be.  The first thing to do is to try to remain calm.  Second, in a DEEP commanding voice tell the other dog "GO HOME"...try not to scream in a high pitch, you have to try to defuse the situation before it escalates.  This has worked for me, even with a pit bull that jumped the fence and came after me and Mara (side note:  Mara was ready to rock and roll! she got between me and the other dog...not good...but at least she showed some protective qualities) - if telling the other dog to go home, and the aggressive posturing starts (hair raising, ears back, snarling, tail down) - Stage 2 has just arrived - Stage 2 is PEPPER SPRAY...don't bother getting the stuff marked for dogs...get the highest grade, stop a grizzly bear stuff, preferably foam - foam wont blow back in your face if there is a breeze.

Wildlife & Poisonous Plants

Here in the suburbs of Chicago, we have deer, raccoons, possums and the ever so fun Mr. Skunk.  Keep your dog on a tight lead...I'm not a big fan of retractable leads for this reason.  You need to be able to keep control of your dog and where they go in case there is a meeting of the animal kingdom.  The same goes for plants that may make your dog sick or worse.

Sudden Storms:

Before going on any walk, check the weather...if a storm pops up, seek shelter asap.  Some dogs are extremely agitated when a storm approaches and more likely to try to run off.  Needless to say, even if lightning is not present at the time, do not seek shelter under a tree...just not a good idea.  Most forest preserves have covered shelter on cement or enclosed restrooms.

Pet Emergencies:

I'm certified in Pet First Aid and CPR - I felt it was not only necessary for my business, but for being a pet owner as well.  This past year we saw one of the hottest summers on record, thank god its over...there were stretches of time that I would not walk Mara.  When I did, it was late at night or very early in the AM.  There are so many things that can come up on a walk; injuries, insect stings, heat stroke...again, being prepared for such things takes stress off of you should the need arise.

I carry a small first aid kit with the basics with me at all times.  You can purchase these through the American Red Cross or find them on EBay.  I got mine at REI and added materials for bee stings, allergic reactions and diabetic pet emergencies.  Hopefully you never have need of it, but if you do, it's there.

I recommend that all my clients take a basic Pet First Aid/CPR coarse, they are inexpensive and if you go through a local shelter that is certified, most of the proceeds go to the shelter, so its a win win!!

With all these situations, I can't stress enough how important it is to be AWARE of your surroundings and of your dog.  If you are going to listen to your Ipod, like I do...keep one ear bud out, that way you can hear if someone is coming up behind you...especially bicycalists on a path.  Keep you and your dog hydrated and most of all.....

Enjoy the walk!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

For the Love of a Werewolf....(Siberian Husky)

Greetings everyone!

I recently decided to leave behind the cubicle world to pursue the adventure of starting up my own dog walking business.  So, I guess the best place to start is from the beginning...

I have always loved animals...spent years championing animal rights causes, picking up strays, and volunteering at various local animal shelters...I have been blessed with the companionship of cats, dogs and one very feisty iguana...all of them have taught me patience, unconditional love and how to live fully.

I have spent sleepless nights caring for them when they were sick, thousands of dollars and endless research hours to give them the best care possible.  I have given IV's, insulin shots and antibiotics to all three species...imagine giving a iguana a shot....wasn't easy...but I did it...why? because I had to.  Its amazing what you can do when an animal depends upon you...

Which brings me to my wonderful Siberian Husky, Mara Jade......AKA: The Werewolf...

5 years ago, my husband Jim and I walked into a pet shop to get cat food...we walked out with a puppy...I know, I know...bad bad bad!!!! most of these poor animals are Puppy Mill orphans...but it was love at first site....for me and the puppy...not so much for Jim...he wasn't buying it...he kept telling me to put her back...but I couldn't...he finally gave in after threats of, here I was...2 cats at home, bringing home a dog...and not just any dog...a Siberian Husky...yeah...they are beautiful...but they are stubborn, destructive and better escape artists than Houdini...these things I did not know until it was too late.....

Too many people get a dog and have no idea what they have gotten themselves into...I didn't...but my love for her put me on a path of learning all I could about what she the 3-5 mile daily walks...

2 training classes and 5 years later....I am happy to report that we are both still the best of friends and our drywall is still in shoes are no longer chew toys for the werewolf...and even though she still gives me lots of back talk (that's what this breed does...they don't bark...they Joan Rivers on crack) I wouldn't give her up for the world....

And that's why I decided to start Walkies Doggies, I want pet owners to be as happy as I am with helping them maintain happy and healthy dogs through daily exercise and pet sitting at home instead of boarding their furry friends at a kennel, which can be very stressful for both the animal and the owner.

We don't have much time with them unfortunately...but lets make the absolute best of the time we have....for them and for us....