Saturday, October 30, 2010

Small dogs+cute clothes=danger!

Sammie is an adorable toy poodle who stays with me often. Her little dress says "Princess" on the back, and she has an assortment of outfits that she brings along on her vacations here! She has another little dress that says "Fierce!"

Sammie does well with the big dogs, though I never leave her alone with them. I had an interesting experience this week with a couple of Labs that were visiting. First Luke, a happy-go-lucky chocolate Lab, arrived. He just wouldn't leave Sammie alone. He didn't try to hurt her–he was trying to get her to play. He would play-bow and bark endlessly at her, and she'd just turn her back on him or come over to me. He's never done this before, and he was totally ignoring the pug that was staying here, so it wasn't because she's a small dog.

I finally figured it out. He thought Sammie was a stuffed toy. Her outfit had him baffled! I took off her dress and he immediately forgot about her and treated her like a normal dog for the rest of his visit.

When Luke went home, I put Sammie's dress back on her (she's just too cute, I couldn't resist). Then Nate the yellow Lab arrived. Same thing. He was fascinated, wagging his tail and following her around. A huge, tall dog, Nate outweighs her by at least a hundred pounds. Off came the dress, stored away in her suitcase until her owner returns.

There's a good lesson to learn here. A less friendly dog with a high prey drive might attack a cute little dog in an outfit. thinking he can pounce on this squeaky little thing and kill it.

Pet sitters and dog owners, beware.

Meanwhile, everyone has calmed down, and here is a photo of Sammie, Desi and Roup in the foreground, with Bonnie, Lily and Nate carpeting the rest of my living room.
Dog carpeting, literally!

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SpawZ: Seattle dog daycare and water therapy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about From the Heart Doggie Daycare in Laurel, Maryland. Now I want to switch way to the west coast and introduce SpawZ, a dog daycare and water therapy center in Seattle.

I have known Spawz owner Ann Marie Shields since I lived in the Northwest well over a decade ago. Ann Marie has been in the dog-care business since 1996 when she started the Doggie Bed and Biscuit in Snohomish. It was one of the first upscale, cage-free dog care businesses in the country—where canine guests enjoyed private “bedrooms” with futons and couches, private yards, and a huge pasture for running and playing. Doggie BnB provided what many dog owners want—a safe, homey, loving place for their dog to stay during the day or for extended periods of time.

Why warm-water therapy for dogs?
Armani, a rescued greyhound
In 2002, Ann Marie moved to Seattle and went to work in the human health care industry. But she continued to pet sit for a few long-time clients with older and mellow dogs. And then, in 2005, a couple of events occurred that led her to create SpawZ. First, she had knee-replacement surgery and was at home recovering for 7 months. And second, just a few weeks after her surgery, one of her greyhounds, Armani, broke his foot and ankle in 18 places.
Armani was in a full-leg cast for three months, and when the cast came off he had significant and disabling muscle atrophy. While Ann Marie was going through rigorous physical therapy and a warm-water exercise program that proved to be the keys to the recovery of her knee, Armani was struggling. It was difficult for him to walk on hard surfaces, so he had no way to regain his strength and muscle tone.
“That’s when it struck me that warm-water exercise might help him, too—and it did,” says Ann Marie. “Plus a vet suggested I try massage, so I went back to school and got my license as a Small Animal Massage Practitioner. Thanks to both water exercise and massage, Armani made an amazing recovery, just recently passing away at the age of 12.
SpawZ today
The tough economy has been a challenge for all of us, but SpawZ has been able to survive and thrive by offering multiple services for its clients. Whether a dog wants to lounge in a private room, exercise on the underwater treadmill or in the pool, enjoy a massage, play with other dogs, or cuddle with a staff member, Ann Marie has brought it all together under one roof at SpawZ. She also offers boarding and a number of special swim camp packages for her canine guests.

Television coverage
Spawz was recently featured on King 5 News, a story that is shown here, above. I asked Ann Marie how she got such great free publicity, and she said it was more luck than anything. She offers something unique, and the reporter at the station had just gotten a new puppy, and wanted to learn more. King 5 does fun segments every morning on the news show, and that is where this story ran.
Publicity like this is worth more than all the paid advertising in the world. SpawZ has been featured several times in the media, and as you can see, the stories make great entertainment and really showcase her facility.
I hope her success gives you some ideas for your doggie business!

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A miscellaneous post

If you own or care for Labs, something about this photo will make you laugh. That flowerpot has had a hard life! The owner's lucky the tree is still standing, since a Lab would happily dig it up and chew it to sawdust.

These dogs, Nate and Rex, actually didn't do the damage. They are guests at my helper Judy's house this week. We'll have to have a talk with her dogs about that pot. 

Sad news
On a somber note, I lost my rescued mare, Honey, this past week. I wrote about her on my other blog, Everything Pets. I also wrote about the great veterinarian who treated her, and how we sometimes torture (and insult) our vets while trying to do everything possible for our animals.  

A new iPod/iPhone/iPad app for pet sitters and pet owners
This new app is offered by PetTech, and offers portable pet care and first aid information. You can download it for $4.99 from iTunes, which is a great price for so much info. It includes easy to follow step-by-step instructions for CPR, first aid and daily care information. There are separate sections for dogs and cats with specific information for each type of animal. 

This is just one more reason I love my iPod Touch. With the Bento app I have all of my client info at my fingertips, and now I'll have first aid info when I need it too. 

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New dog daycare business in Laurel Maryland gets great PR coverage

In addition to my work as a pet-sitter, I design websites, and I have a client who just opened July 4th in Laurel, Maryland. From the Heart Doggie Daycare was featured in a wonderful article in a local paper this week. You can't buy advertising this good or this effective. Here's the link:

I asked Maria how she got the reporter to write about her dog day care business:
I saw an article about a new baker in town just two weeks ago. So I called the reporter and said, "Hey, I think I have a good story for you." I wrote a brief note, sent her a link to my webpage, and hoped for the best. This was on a Thursday.  She called me the next Wednesday to set up an appt for last Friday. The photographer was here Monday and the story came out Thursday.
 You are right - it is great advertising.  I had no idea I would get it, but you don't get anything if you don't ask :-)  The worst she could do was say no.  
That's the spirit! I think one thing that helped her is From the Heart has a Halloween open house and party coming up, so the story has an urgency to it.

So what can we learn from Maria?

  • You won't get any press if you don't ask for it. Do some of the reporter's work for him or her. If you have a website, pre-written press releases or photos you can supply, you make their job a lot easier.
  • Special events give reporters a reason to write about your pet sitting business.
  • If you have something newsworthy to say, you are more likely to be interviewed. The article about Maria's business mentions she lost her job when her company downsized, which is timely due to the nation's economic woes of the past two years. 
  • Is there an angle that makes your business different? Maria's daycare and boarding is cage-free and set up like a children's daycare with bright colors and a fun atmosphere. 

Congratulations on the coverage, Maria. I hope it brings you tons of business.

P.S. Blogger is not letting me add images. Sorry!
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.