That Saturday Feeling

Do you wonder if your pets love Saturday and Sunday as much as you do? Watch for simple signs to let you know they do. While all animals are different, the following behaviors and body language signals usually indicate your pet is most likely happy and, more important, healthy. 

  1. A healthy appetite means your pet is in a good mood. But if your pet’s appetite drops off, it could be a sign she’s bored, depressed, or lonely,
  2. Pet’s body language conveys how they are feeling. 
    Here are the body cues that your dog is relaxed: a soft, partially open mouth, ears that are relaxed, not pulled back or taut with alertness, overall relaxed posture, with a raised head, relaxed tail, and confident stance, a tail wag that involves whole-body wiggles, rolling over to show their belly, making a “play bow,” with their rear in the air and chest lowered to the ground as an invitation to play.
    Signs that a cat is relaxed include resting with her feet tucked underneath her body, not being overly startled by sounds or movements, and having an overall calm demeanor.
  3. Pet’s engaging in play is one of the most reliable signs of happiness.
  4. Your pet enthusiastically greets you when you first wake up or when you come home from work.  This is your pet’s way of saying she’s happy to see you.
  5. Pets use their body to mark you as theirs.  Dog’s do this by leaning against your legs, sometimes placing a paw on your foot too.  While cats do this by rubbing against you and weaving around you.
     6. Happy dogs and cats enjoy positive interactions with their owners and other people in their environment.
  6. Their fur is shiney and well maintained.  Cats and dogs that are happy will groom themselve on a regular basis to keep their fur looking it’s best.
  7. Your pet’s eyes can tell you a lot about her emotional state. Resting with her eyes half closed shows she is relaxed and doesn’t feel threatened

Teaching your dog to fetch

Teaching your dog to retrieve a toy is an easy game to play inside.  Start by getting two toys that are similar i.e. two tennis balls, two squeaky balls etc.  Toss on ball across the room or down the hall.  When your dog has picked up the ball, praise him and call him to come.  As he turns to you show him the second ball.   This will encourage him to drop the first ball when he gets to you.  Say your release word each time the dog spits out the ball and goes for the second ball.  When he released the first ball throw the second ball.  Continue playing fetch with the two toys until your dog has learned to bring back the ball and drop it for you.
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Dog Rearing: The Essentials

Attention, Exercise, and Mental Stimulation

Dogs need social interaction, physical exercise, and mental stimulation – just like children do – in order to grow up to be healthy and well adjusted.  When these needs are not met, many behaviour problems can develop. 

Attention:

How much daily social time does a dog need? A good rule of thumb is that a dog should spend at least half his waking hours each day interacting with other dogs and people.  Like humans, most dogs enjoy a mix of old friends and new encounters – so make sure your pup meets at least one new dog or person each day.   While dogs do need to learn to spend time alone, too much isolation will make them antisocial, anxious or depressed.  Allowing your dog regular access to his familiar doggie buddies as well as the chance to meet new dogs will increase the chances of him being socially content and well adjusted. 

Physical Exercise & Mental Stimulation:

Your dog’s brain and body BOTH need lots of exercise. Swimming, playing tug & fetch, and playing with other dogs are good brain AND body work-outs.  Walks on leash are not always physically exerting, but they do provide a lot of mental stimulation: all the outdoor smells, sights and sounds are very interesting!  Working on obedience skills requires lots of doggy concentration, and your dog will love the mental challenge of figuring out new things.   Make sure you exercise your dog’s brain AND body each day.

Pet sitting Guidelines

Find out the pet’s normal schedule and routine from the owner.  Follow it as closely as possible.  Pets are creatures of habit and their routine will comfort them while owner is away.

Find out about pet’s normal eating habits- do they scarf their food or do they graze on it all day?  This will be important for you to know if the pet is stressed while their owner is gone.  Not eating is a common symptom of separation anxiety in pets and needs to be monitored closely and taken to the vets when necessary.

Find out if the pet’s favorite spots in the house- cats might hide under the bed or in a closet while owner is away, dog might lay on a couch or bed that is forbidden when owners are home.

Make sure the owner leaves you phone numbers where they can be reached, an itinerary of their travel plans, and pet’s veterinarian number. Ask for written instructions for pets feeding and medication instructions so you have a reference sheet. Take notes as the pet owner explains their pets’ daily routines.

Remember even though the pets are in their own home, they will still be stressed to some degree while their owner is away.  Use common sense when it comes to caring for the pets and don’t expect them to behave for you the same way they do for their owner. 

Find out the owner’s weekly schedule- do they work from home or do they go to the office 5 days a week? A pet that is used to a person in the home all the time is going to be a lot more stressed, staying in the house alone.

Know if the pets have had pet sitters in the past or if this is the first time.  A pet that’s never been left before is more likely to stressed than a pet that is left on a regular basis.

Find out expectations from owner as to communications.  Some clients will want a call or text every day from the pet sitter, while others only expect a call if there is an emergency.

Sonny and the Big Move

I will never forget the day, Mom told me we were leaving my Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  This was the only home I had lived in since Mom adopted me at six months old.   

Mom was excited as she said, “On February 15th we are moving into our very own place, Sonny.” 

That’s only two weeks away.  Shih-tzus don’t like change.  Initially I was energized by Mom’s excitement, as I love to go anywhere with my mom.  But, it didn’t take long for me to decide I didn’t want to go.  As I watched all of my belongings being boxed up, and Mom shop for all sorts of supplies, I changed my mind.

  When will I hear about anything other than the move?  I don’t like all this commotion.  I like it here with Grandma, Grandpa and the Westies.  The past two years here have been great.  Why do we have to move?  I don’t want to have to stay anywhere by myself!

On the morning of February 15th, I watched as Mom loaded up the car with all of my toys and some other supplies. 

Wait what are you doing with my stuff?  No, don’t take that, I wasn’t done chewing it.

Mom then called, “Sonny, let’s go.”

The apartment complex wasn’t too far away, and soon Mom was leading me into the office.  I had to sit quietly with Mom for what felt like forever.  All we need is the key.  Let’s go.  I pulled on the end of my leash trying to explore.

 “Just hold on a second, Sonny. We will go in just a minute,” Mom soothed and pulled me up into her lap.

Finally, we left the office and got back in the car.   It was a short ride and Mom pulled the car into a garage.  I waited eagerly to be lifted from the car.  I was off leash, so I quickly took in all the strange smells that were here.  It doesn’t smell like Grandma and Grandpa’s garage.

“Come on Sonny,” Mom called, “Let’s go see our new place.”

I followed Mom through the door and up the stairs.

Wow.  Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

Mom wandered through the first floor and then disappeared up more stairs.

Wait where did you go, Mom?  I don’t want to stay here alone!

Mom did a quick walk through of the upstairs and then said, “Let’s go unload the car.”

Out in the garage, I watched as Mom unloaded box after box from the car stacking them by the garage door.  Suddenly, I saw the bag that contained my toys and bones.  Mom also had my bed in her hands.

Wait.  Where are you going?

I ran up the stairs after her.

Mom got up to the living room and quickly dumped the bag’s contents on the living room floor.

All right. I’ll take those.

 I ran to the toys and shook one in glee.  I then had to sniff and sort through the stack making sure none had been lost.

Phew, they are all here.

 I picked up my stuffed tree trunk toy and wandered around the room.

Mom had carried the rest of the boxes from the garage while I was busy, and now called, “Sonny, come on, let’s go for a car ride.”

What was the hurry to get back in the car again?  

I rode with Mom back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where we got my grandparents help as we made another trip back to the apartment.  Both cars were loaded up this time, and Mom and my grandparents worked quickly to unload the cars back at the apartment.

After following them up and down the stairs several times, I decided to just wait for them.

Those stairs are wearing me out.

I explored all the boxes and bags that were brought into the house.  

When the last of the boxes were unloaded from the car, and Mom and my grandparents were in the kitchen unloading boxes, I decided to just shut my eyes for a quick nap.

I guess, I slept longer than I thought, because when I woke up the living room and kitchen were completely set up.

Boxes were no longer stacked everywhere. My toys and bones were in a basket next to the entertainment center.

I stretched, yawned and carried a bone over to the window. Wow, this view is great. Oh, there is a dog my size, let’s go make friends.

 I turned around to find Mom, but everyone was heading upstairs.

I trotted after them, but by the time we went outside, the dog was gone.

I dosed on Mom’s futon bed, and watched Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa unpack.

It was almost dinner time, when I startled awake as everyone else heading back downstairs.  I jumped off the futon and had to admit, this room now looked like Mom’s room at her parents house.

As I caught up with everyone downstairs, I overheard Mom say, “Thanks for all your help today.  I will call you tomorrow.”

Grandma and Grandpa were heading for the door.   Wait, where are you going?

“See you later, Sonny,” Grandma said scratching my head.

“Have a good night,” Grandpa said.

I was scooped into Mom’s arms and we watched her Grandpa back the car out of the driveway.

Left on our own, Mom fixed us dinner and took me for a walk that evening.   I got to explore and mark my new territory.

Back at the apartment, Mom turned on the TV. Since I immediately fell asleep on the couch next to Mom, I was startled when Mom said, “Ok, it is time for bed, let’s go.”

Great.  I am exhausted.  Let’s not move again anytime soon ok?

Mom climbed into bed.  She patted my head good night and said,  “I love you, Sonny.”  She laid down to go to sleep.

I love you too.  I curled up at the foot of the bed.

This place is great after all.  Nothing has changed between me and Mom.  I have all my toys, bones, and a brand new window to entertain me. 

The End

5 Things Pets can Teach Children

Many children start asking for a pet at a very early age.  Parents play an important role in teaching children the correct way to interact and care for pets.  If introduced to the care of a pet in the proper way, pets can teach children a number of valuable skills.  Today, I’m going to cover the top five skills: responsibility, patience, trust/respect, compassion, and self-esteem.

Responsibility:  Parents can use a pet to teach children of any age responsibility.  Pets require daily feeding, exercise, attention, and cleaning up after.  Depending on the pet, they may also require regular brushing.  No matter the age of the child, they can learn responsibility from the pet.  Younger children can learn through one task such as feeding or playtime. Older children can learn how to care for a pet by performing multiple tasks daily.   The tasks that are required to care for a pet are a small price to pay for such a loyal companion.

Patience:  It takes patience to bond with a new pet. While the family is getting used to having a pet in the house; the new pet is becoming comfortable with its new surroundings.  At this pivotal point in the new relationship, it is important that a child is taught the correct way to interact with the pet.  A child will learn patience while the new pet becomes comfortable with the family. 

Trust/RespectThe biggest part of this bonding time is building trust and respect between the family and the new pet.  Children must be taught how to touch the pet gently, tend to its needs, and learn not to disturb the pet when it’s eating or sleeping.  Once this relationship has been made, pets make wonderful trusted companions.    

Compassion:  The work that goes into building a relationship with a pet teaches children compassion.  Caring for a pet requires compassion and understanding.  The new pet can’t communicate with words what it needs.  A child needs to be taught to understand the subtle body language that pets use to convey their desires.  A pet needs a compassionate caretaker who can understand the pet’s required care. 

Self-esteem:  Pets show unconditional love to the family that cares for it.  This love can be a great boost to a child’s self-esteem.  A pet can be a constant companion for the child.  The pet’s nonjudgmental love makes it easy for the child to confide in the pet.  The skills used to build this relationship with a pet will also give the child the confidence to use these skills with others in their life.   

Owning a pet teaches children how to respect others and build trusting relationships using patience and compassion.  All this being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all children are ready for pet ownership. Parents should first make sure they are able to help their child with the pet. Together, the family should decide what type of pet is best. Moreover, don’t assume a child will take care of the pet without assistance from the first day. The ultimate responsibility usually falls on the parents, not the child, to make sure the pet is cared for properly.  But allowing a pet to become a member of your family will benefit everyone involved. 

Welcome!

Hello, you found my blog page. Thank you for taking time to read my page. I’ll be posting articles about pet care, dog training tricks, short stories, as well as upcoming events here, so check back often.

I’m have a lot of book signings coming up, so come see me. I’ll be participating in the McKinney Farmers Market May 18 and 25. Check out my website for more event details.

I’m excited to announce that the 6th book in the Megan’s World series is now available on Amazon!

Here is a preview of Megan’s First Crush:

Megan Thompson is starting eighth grade.  Her friends and she still eat lunch together every day.  They even have a new student joining them, Jacob.  Megan was confident that she would have an amazing “What I Did This Summer” essay for her English class, but there’s a twist.  This time the essay has to be read aloud in front of the entire class, which includes the new student, Jacob.  Megan has never been tongue-tied around anyone like she is with Jacob.  How will she do reading her essay aloud?

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