Sunday, November 29, 2009

A rainbow over a soggy weekend of pet sitting

Take a deep breath... you have worked your butt off all week, and today is the LAST DAY of the Thanksgiving rush. I am exhausted, and I bet you are too. 7 am visits to dogs who were in overnight, late night visits for dogs who will be in overnight, and more.

For me, "more" meant the unwelcome surprise of a pouring rainstorm all day yesterday. This is California, and we don't do rain well at all here! I'm sure many of you braved wind, rain, snow, ice and more to get to your visits. I took my muck boots along and slogged through mud to feed three horses at two different homes.

This morning I had to laugh. One of my clients' teenagers was home, even though I was coming to feed, and he put the horse's blanket on backwards last night. Good intentions, and even backwards it helped keep her dry. I will post the proper way to blanket a horse in one of my future posts. I fixed it, and she munched merrily on her hay the entire time.

I did have a nice sight to greet me as I came out my client's front door for a soggy dog walk yesterday afternoon. Wrigley the Kerry Blue and Burbank the Wheaton live on the edge of a canyon, and a beautiful rainbow followed me all the way to their house. When I arrived, the rainbow literally ended on the ground across from their house. You can see it in the photo,crossing in front of the hillside.

I wish I had found a pot of gold at the end. Then again, maybe my "gold" is these happy dogs romping at my feet. I can't help but smile, even when I am cold, wet and tired.

© 2009 Terry Albert. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A tiny pet sitting client: how do you care for a baby box turtle or a hermit crab?

Box turtle

I must say I’ve had some interesting clients. This week I cared for a newborn box turtle. Gregory, as the neighbor kids have named him, is about the size of a quarter. His owners found him wandering around in their outdoor box turtle enclosure, obviously very recently hatched. They brought him indoors so a bird or other predator won’t eat him.

Gregory gets one little tiny waxworm every day, set on a rosebush leaf. The worm is barely ¼ inch long. Each day when I arrived, I put a little water in a bowl and set Gregory in to soak and drink. I was careful not to make it too deep, because box turtles cannot swim. Just enough to get him wet.

He is currently living in a dishpan with some dirt in the bottom that his owners keep moist for him. He also has a few little hiding spaces, and a little Flintstones house/cave that is heated from the top for when he wants to get warm. Reptiles cannot regulate their body temperature, so they rely on the warmth around them. If they get too cold in the winter, they will hibernate. Gregory has plenty of room to move around so he can get away from the heat when he needs to.

Hermit Crab

Recently departed form this earth, Eugene the Hermit Crab was another of my tiny clients. I regret that his family never took a photo of him, or I would immortalize him here. Eugene also shared his home with April the daughter, and Maggie and Summer, their dogs. The dogs were the primary reason for my pet sitting visits, but Eugene needed care too.

Eventuallly, Maggie and Summer started coming to my house when their owners traveled, so Eugene came along too. He had a place of honor in his little plastic terrarium with sand and plastic palm trees, and a few shells for him to move into as he grew bigger.

Hermit crabs need a moist, warm habitat, and fresh water to soak in. They don’t swim either, and will drown if it is too deep. I would give him a couple tidbits of crab food and a tiny bit of lettuce.

One day I came in from an errand, and Eugene’s terrarium was on the floor- sand and palm trees everywhere, and NO EUGENE. I panicked and started frantically looking under the table, wondering if one of the dogs ate him. I got lucky, or at least Eugene did. He had fallen behind the baby gate that was propped against the wall, and was wedged between the wall and the gate. Safe and alive.

I scooped up the sand , shells and other hermit crab furniture, and reassembled his little home. And carefully placed it on the top of the highest bookcase. It had never occurred to me that the dogs would think he smelled like food, but hermits do have a slightly fishy smell.

I had one more moment of terror with Eugene, when he decided it was time to molt. When he came out of his shell and started to shed his skin I about had a heart attack. NOW what had I done to him??? He survived without my interference. Whew.

Eugene lived several more years. The photo here is a hermit crab currently residing at the Petco store in Poway, CA. They have a nice care sheet you can pick up in the store. Here are some other resources for information on hermit crab care.

©2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Pet Sitting Blog you will enjoy

I am part of several national pet sitting discussion groups on the Internet, and have discovered a nice blog and newsletter that will help my fellow pet sitters. Valerie Pegg of Best Fit Pet Services sends out a monthly newsletter full of great advice for pet sitters and pet owners. Her blog also offers lots of great information, so I offer it to you:

Thanks Valerie for this great resource! You can subscribe to her newsletter from her website also.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

GoD and DoG

This is one of the sweetest videos I've ever watched. It is so gentle and loving. I just had to share it with everyone I know. Whether or not you are a religious person, this is a very touching song. I hope you enjoy it.

By Wendy Francisco ©2009 Crack O' Noon Music ASCAP Download "God and DoG" wmv file at T-Shirts, Mugs and Gifts are there, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are you a morning person?

Are you temperamentally suited to be a pet sitter? Here’s something to think about.

I am not a morning person
I remember in college, lying in bed on a cold dark winter morning, swearing I would someday have a job where I could sleep until at least 7 am. Getting up when it was still dark left me tired and grouchy all day. It didn’t help that those were the party-hardy years, when I’d sleep until 11 am on a Saturday morning, when Grandma Johnson pounded me out of bed so I could eat lunch.

Being Midwesterners, Grandma and Grandpa always had their big meal of the day at noon, and I’d stagger to the dining room table for a huge steak dinner as soon as I woke up. We’d listen to Paul Harvey tell us The Rest of the Story on the radio while we ate. “Page two,” he would intone, and to the rustle of paper he’d begin one of his homespun stories while I choked down a giant t-bone. In my family, it wasn’t polite to leave food on your plate. As I finished I would add my steak bone to the “boneyard” where everyone’s leftover bones piled up and were eventually fed to the dogs. Then I’d go take a nap.

Grown-up life hasn’t made getting up any easier, and sleeping until 11 is a thing of the past. I’m still grateful if I can sleep until 7 am. As soon as it is light, the horses start fussing and the dogs start barking at them. Many mornings I stagger out to feed them at 5:30 or 6 am in the dark, and stumble beck to bed for another hour.

Pet sitter’s hours
This morning was the first time in awhile that I had to get up and do a pet sit at the crack of dawn, literally. With the time change last night, it was 6 am when I let Wrigley and Burbank out for their morning constitutional. We went for a long walk around the neighborhood; after their breakfast and before I put them in for the day.

It was a beautiful clear fall morning, and in the shadows of the hills by their house it was only 50 degrees. There is a nice trail through their neighborhood and I loved the light and the brisk air. We met a few walkers and no dogs. Their owners warned me that there are coyotes out every morning. We saw lots of droppings, but no coyotes. Last night’s trick-or-treaters probably had them cowering in their dens. The wilted yard decorations even looked scary in daylight. I decided against going back into the trails outside the tract. I’ve ridden my horse back in there and it gets pretty rugged.

It made me wonder why I don’t get up and out early every morning. It’s a great time to walk or ride. Once I’m out, I’m fine, it’s the getting up that hurts!

I cherish the mornings when I have no pet sits. Many dogs spend the night indoors, and I have to be there bright and early to let them out. I figure more than 12 hours indoors is too much to ask of even the most perfectly housetrained dog.

Now with the holidays approaching, I will have many early morning dog walking assignments and so will you. If you're not a morning person, find a way to reward yourself for your efforts to get up and at 'em. I usually treat myself to a soy latte on my way out on my rounds.

…and a nap every afternoon.

Photos above: Sherman the Vizsla knows the value of a good nap. Chester the Lab looks like I feel in the mornings.
© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.