Saturday, March 25, 2017

Retractable Leashes



As a professional pet sitter, my first and foremost concern of course are the pets -- their safety and well-being. When I'm walking someone else's dog(s), as well as my own, safety for the dog, others and myself is a priority. Having an enjoyable experience is also important for all involved!

Over the last fifteen years, I have either experienced or witnessed all kinds of situations and scenarios while walking dogs. I have had someone else's (otherwise friendly) unleashed dog attack and almost kill the dog I had on a leash. I've had dogs come charging out of an open door or gate while walking by with a dog so many times I can't begin to count them. I've had small children come running at me (with parent near by), wanting to pet the dog I'm walking, which is not friendly and doesn't like to be around children. There have been times I have turned around and run the other way with the dog to avoid situations. 

Not long ago I passed someone walking their dog on the other side of the street and she wanted to bring her dog over to say "hi" to the dog I was walking, which was 1) not my dog, 2) not dog friendly and 3) was barking and displaying aggressive body language that was obvious to me, but was not understood by her. She got mad or offended when I said it wasn't my dog and declined! 

 I've had dogs pull out of their collar. I even had a dog back out of her harness once (which was obviously fitted too loose). I've had collars break, leashes break. I mean, when you do something long enough, you will experience just about everything that can happen while doing it. And as you go along, you learn by experience what kinds of things or situations to avoid. So for safety's sake, my rule of thumb is stay away from all others -- people and other dogs.

Another thing that I have learned along the way to avoid are retractable leashes.They are anything but safe. If you want to use one while walking your own dog, that is your choice. But as a professional pet sitter in a big city, I don't use them walking other people's dogs and I don't use them to walk my own dogs either, for many reasons:


  • They are easily pulled out of your hand. A sturdy loop that is around your hand and wrist can't be beat for control -- and control of the dog is of the utmost importance.

  • They allow dogs to get too far away to have reasonable control if something occurs to warrant quick action. Six feet away is long enough. I have seen people use retractable leashes with prong choke collars, which is an oxymoron.

  • They can break or snap unlike a regular leash (that is the correct size and strength for your dog).

  • They can and have caused burns, cuts and worse -- amputations.

  • They are dangerous in that dogs can easily jerk their necks or cause spinal injuries while behaving like the animals they are, and charging after something full speed, or just running and not realizing when the end of the line is coming.
  • They actually teach dogs to pull. Dogs learn that to get a longer extension, or to go where they want, all they have to do is pull hard enough and they get it.
  • To have any dog, especially a large dog, essentially on a string/thin cord/thin ribbon is not a good means of control. When I see children walking their dogs on these, I just cringe. Not a safe idea.
  • They are just harder to manage, especially if walking more than one dog and picking up the poop, which in most places is the law.
  • They can malfunction and won't retract.
  • They can frighten dogs (especially fearful ones) if they are dropped, and then they are injured due to running to try and get away from the handle that is chasing them. (True story.)

  • I don't know of a good positive reinforcement dog trainer or a veterinarian that recommends them.
While I was in the process of writing this I had to take one of my pets to the veterinarian. While we were waiting to be seen, a young mother with two small children, a boy and a girl, and two small dogs came in. The dogs were on retractable leashes. The mother originally had the leashes but as she was standing at the counter filling out paperwork, her children kept asking to have the leashes. She gave in and I watched as these two small children under the age of five got themselves and the dogs all tangled up to the point that the little girl was totally wrapped up in the leash and couldn't move. After the mother got them untangled and took control of the leashes again (still filling out paperwork), she was oblivious to the fact that one of the dogs still had the thin cord of his leash wrapped around his front leg and he kept hopping around trying to pull his leg out of the loop, which he finally managed to do after several tries. 

This is a perfect example of why I cringe when children use them. I have either experienced, witnessed, read or heard about so many different instances in which people and/or pets have gotten injured or worse while using a retractable leash.

Even adults have trouble using them correctly. More recently, a man was walking his large dog down our street on a flexi-leash. Our three-legged cat was sitting in the driveway, up close to our house, far from the street, where they were walking. The dog saw our cat as he got close to our house and ran full speed after our cat, going to the end of his extended leash line in about a second, yanking the man up into our yard with him. As the dog ran around a tree and the man himself a few times -- all the while this man never uttering a word to try and control his dog or using the brake on the leash, this man ended up being all tied up and tangled in the flexi-leash, trying to get himself out of it. It took him a few minutes. (Our cat ran and got away to safety.) And this is a grown man!

So as a policy, we do not use retractable leashes. If you are a client and that is all you have, no worries -- we have our own preferred equipment that provides the control and safety that we require. And if someone walking a dog sees you and your dog coming towards them and they go the other way, don't be offended. We're just playing it safe and keeping it fun!

I want to thank Karen Becker, DVM, for writing a great article on this subject, which inspired me to finally write about it too. Read her article here: 

Dr. Becker: 10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash

And another more recent article on the subject by Dr. Becker:

 Pitch These Five Items in the Trash




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Another Big Fan of Structured Water

You may know established TV host Tanya Memme, who spent thirteen seasons on A and E’s Emmy-nominated TV shows Sell This House, Sell This House Extreme and Move This House. She is the host of KTLA’s Best Vacations, where she takes viewers on fabulous journeys exploring top destinations around the world. Tanya is also a proud spokesperson for the non-profit organization Wells Of Hope. 

And now...she is a big fan of Structured Water and is excited to share the benefits and explain what it is. (Like yours truly! We can't help it -- it's amazing!) 

 
What is Structured Water? from Natural Action Technologies on Vimeo.


💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙

In this video (below) she shares her own experience with Structured Water and interviews inventor Clayton Nolte asking the most common questions:




Get Your Structured Water Unit Today!


Friday, February 17, 2017

In Memory of Our Dog Duke


As we celebrate a special milestone of fifteen years in business this month, it's also a bittersweet milestone in that the last remaining mid-day dog walk we've had for the last fourteen years, Zinger (14), just passed away a couple of days ago, and now our own last remaining dog passed away as well.
Duke with sister Cali
Our beloved dog Duke passed away on Monday, February 13th, just a month and half away from his 15th birthday. He was doing really well up until just a few months ago when he started having some neurological type problem that was affecting his mobility, eventually leaving him unable to stand. His kidneys also had taken a sudden turn for the worse and were causing him discomfort.

We used Houston Mobile Vet for his last exam and bloodwork and they provided in home euthanasia also. (They are wonderful and I highly recommend them!) I am so grateful we now have the option of mobile vets who come to your home. Duke was able to be at home, in his comfy bed with us there petting him while he peacefully and painlessly passed away. 
Duke and Cali

Duke was the last of our four dogs and the sibling to Cali, who passed away from cancer four years ago. After living with three other dogs most of his life, and several cats, he ended up being the only dog for the last four years, of which I think he thoroughly enjoyed, though I'm sure he missed his sister and our other dogs. He had a friend that would come to stay with him on occasion that gave him some dog companionship which he enjoyed.

Our cats loved Duke, and he them. They are grieving and feeling his absence too.They would always run up to greet him before they would greet us. In fact, if Duke came in the room while they were getting pets from us, they would leave the pets to go rub on Duke. Often times I would hear our youngest cat Kilo in another room just talking away and when I looked, he would be talking to Duke, who was standing nearby. Duke was adored by his kitties!
Duke and Kilo

When Duke and his sister Cali first appeared on our ranch one cold January day in 2003, we thought he was a most unusual looking dog. We always got compliments on how pretty Duke was and were frequently asked what type of dog he was. In 2012, when they were ten years old, I had their DNA tested. They were found to be a mix of Chow Chow and Bluetick Coonhound. An interesting combination.You can see the resemblance of both breeds in them from the photos I shared here, especially Duke.

Each and every animal is unique and has certain qualities about them that make them special. Besides his physical appearance, one of Duke's unique characteristics was that he was a highly sensitive dog (HSD).

In the fields of biology, animal behavior and human psychology, research has found that a small percentage of the population -- about 20% -- of over one hundred different species of animals, as well as humans, have an innate characteristic which entails having a more sensitive nervous system than the rest of the population. They are labeled extra-sensitive, super sensitive or highly sensitive. Biologists say this has a survival advantage. Those that are highly sensitive are the first to sense danger and alert the rest of the group.

According to Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist who has been studying highly sensitive people (HSP) for over 20 years, there is now solid research from scientific studies done on the brain and genetic analysis showing that highly sensitive people have differences in their brain activity and process things differently, along with having a sensitive nervous system. HSPs process things more deeply, are easily overstimulated, have a sensitivity to subtleties and their environment, may be more sensitive to chemicals, as well as some other traits.
Duke with his friend Taz

This same innate characteristic has been studied extensively in rhesus monkeys at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland by Stephen Suomi, PhD. 

Research is being conducted on highly sensitive dogs in Switzerland by Dr. Maya Braem Dube, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Bern, Switzerland. HSDs share many of the same traits as HSPs -- they can quickly read the mood in another animal or person, can pick up the scent of illness or the onset of a seizure before it occurs, heightened levels of awareness and sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, emotions of others and is also more likely to suffer from allergies, to name a few.

Duke was much more sensitive than our other three dogs in many regards. He was known as a "screamer" at our vet clinic but I knew it wasn't just about being a dog that's scared or a big baby, he was a HSD. How did I know this and discover all this research on such a thing? Because I am a HSP myself.

Duke taught me a lot about HSDs and about myself. He also left us with many wonderful and funny memories that we will always cherish. We will miss him terribly.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Celebrating 15 Years in Business


This Valentine's Day we are celebrating Cozy Critters Pet Sitters' fifteenth anniversary! 

We are so grateful for all of our wonderful clients, both two and four-legged. We love meeting other animal-loving people in our area. We love getting to know each and every pet, caring for them and loving them as if they were our own. So many memories and funny stories are made over the years. But most of all, we love providing a great service to our community!  Looking forward to making more friends and memories....





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Research Links Glyphosate to Liver Disease


There is a lot to be concerned about when it comes to pet foods as I have written about at length here -- especially GM (genetically modified) ingredients or better known as GMOs. Sadly, I still find that a lot of people have no idea what GMOs are or that they and their animals are consuming them on a daily basis and what this can do to their health. If you or your pets are consuming GMOs or (non-organic) wheat -- which when you think about it -- is in a lot of foods, you/your pets are consuming glyphosate, otherwise known as RoundUp, i.e. poison for our bodies. Sound crazy? I invite you to do the research for yourself. A good place to start is the most comprehensive source of GMO health information available on the web, which can be found at the Institute for Responsible Technology.  A great article listing the top 20 GMO foods and ingredients to avoid -- and why can be found here.

What we put into ours and our pets' bodies is one of the basic keys to well-being. For so long we have had a dis-connect as to the relationship between what we/they consume and our/their state of health. We must be proactive to protect our and our pets' health.

In this recently (2017) published study in the journal Nature, the lead author stated that their findings "are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease". 

This is some very concerning research that affects most pet food consumers (and human food consumers). Even at allowable levels (FDA and EU) this new study links the pesticide glyphosate to fatty liver disease. And should this come as a big surprise considering what glyphosate is and that it is put into our/their food supply?

In September of 2015, Dr. Anthony Samsel analyzed multiple pet foods for glyphosate and provided pet food consumers with the results, as shared in this article by Susan Thixton (TruthAboutPetFood.com):  http://truthaboutpetfood.com/more-concerning-news-linked-to-glyphosate/. Also in this article Susan shares some things you can do about it as a pet owner.






Monday, January 16, 2017

Ask Better Questions


In this video, the popular pet vlogger, artist and founder of PlanetPaws.ca, Rodney Habib, points out some of the differences between human medicine and veterinary medicine and how we need to ask better questions -- particularly in regards to processed foods and annual vaccines. So true!

Are you a Quintessential Pet Parent?




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pet Fooled - The Movie

I just finished watching the new documentary Pet Fooled, which is about pet foods. Great documentary! I highly recommend every pet parent watch it!


Pet Fooled is now available on most digital platforms (e.g., iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo, Xbox, etc.). It will also available on cable VOD providers like Dish Network, Cox, Charter On Demand and Verizon Fios, to name a few. For further information and to watch the film: