Thursday, June 23, 2011

• Take Your Dog to Work—Guide for Dog-Less Folks

Take Your Dog to Work Day is Friday, June 24, 2011. If you, like me, don't have a dog, you might feel left out. (I used to joke that my workplace should celebrate Take Your Hamster to Work Day.) But you can participate!

If your company is going to allow dogs, a dog-less person can do many things:
• Volunteer to take a co-worker's dog for a walk or watch it while she attends a meeting.
• Take photos of dogs for the company newsletter. Then submit the photo to the TYDTWD Photo Contest!
• Bring dog treats. (Check with owners before offering.)
• Hold fun contests such as best trick, friendliest canine co-worker, or "employee of the day."

Whether or not your company participates, you can educate co-workers on the primary reason for TYDTWD: the importance of adopting from an animal shelter. The Human Society offers five easy-to-remember talking points for reasons to adopt.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

• A Pet Sitter Asks: "Does Your Pet Try to Escape?"

"Does your dog try to escape?" That was what I asked when I first started pet sitting. Through experience, I know I need to delve into details. The possibility of a pet trying to escape is one of the most important things a pet sitter and owner should discuss.

Is a pet more likely to escape through the front door or the back door? How do you keep him from getting out? If he escapes, will he come when I call? If not, how do I get him back in the house? Can I let her off leash at the dog park? Will she come right away when I call her or should I carry a treat?

I've had my share of escapes. With my foot, I successfully blocked a cat from going out the back door dozens of times—until the time she streaked by like lightening. I knew to entice her by shaking a box of treats. A Havanese liked to climb on an air conditioning unit and jump down into the next-door neighbor's yard. Luckily, the neighbor didn't mind, and the fence was low enough I could climb over it.

Today I'm caring for Arlo, a Samoyed, and his sister Darcy, a Dalmatian. Arlo loves nothing better than to make a break for it. Once he took a dip in a neighbor's koi pond. He didn't hurt any fish, but his owners and the neighbor with the pond have a strained relationship to this day.

Arlo's not only headstrong, he's dextrous. If you don't latch the backyard gate just so, he can open it. If I go out that gate I always shake the door to make sure it's locked.

I learned some new tricks from his owner. Arlo crowds the front door when anyone comes in or goes out. When you're going out the front door, say, "Go to the window, Arlo." He'll run to the window that looks out on the yard, where he can see people coming and going.

If Arlo gets out the front door of the house, open a car door. "Arlo, do you want to go for a ride?" Arlo will hop right in. Once he's safely in the car, put his leash on him. He'll follow you into the house like a little lamb.

If you're a pet owner, talk to your pet sitter about any history of escapes. If you're a pet sitter, ask the owner questions about all the situations you think you may encounter.

May you have an escape-free experience!