Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flee, Fleas...please!

Flea outbreak!
Several weeks ago, golden retriever Indy arrived for his stay at my house, and within a day he was covered with fleas. I can’t think of anything much worse than fleas infesting every dog (and cat). With seven visiting dogs, my four dogs and three cats, it could take months to get rid of these pests! I hadn’t seen a single flea in over a year here. My vet tells me it has been a really bad year for fleas in Southern California.

Indy had been treated with Frontline, but it just wasn’t working anymore. Another owner, of Oliver the terrier, reported the same problem. It appears that some dogs (or their fleas, actually) are building up a resistance to the miracle flea treatments that appeared on the market less than 20 years ago.

I remember the days. I had to wash down my countertops every night because the cats had been up there during the day, and there were disgusting flea eggs and dirt all over. I had to bathe and dip the dogs and cats every week, powder them, spray them, and put flea collars on them. Nothing really worked.

Then Fleabusters was invented. A fantastic product that was brushed into your carpet, it dried out the larvae and eggs while killing live fleas. Shortly after that, Advantage and Frontline were developed. Then monthly pills like Program and Sentinel, became available.

Our pets were finally free of these awful pests. I hope it lasts, and scientists will continue to develop new formulas.

My fellow pet writers recommended Capstar, an oral medication that starts killing fleas within an hour. I had never heard of it. I dosed everyone, vacuumed, washed dog beds and cleaned. I haven’t seen evidence of fleas in three weeks now.

The good news is you can give Capstar to animals that have been treated with Frontline or Advantage, and as often as every day. It is available over-the-counter at pet supply retail stores.

Please don’t take my word for it. I am not a veterinarian. Talk to your vet, as I did, and make sure Capstar is safe for your animals.

I informed each owner, so they could keep an eye on their dogs and stop any outbreaks as soon as they occur. I will be keeping this product on hand in case future flea-infested pets arrive to stay at my house.
Sammy, before
Sammy, after
Capstar for cats
Good news, Capstar works on cats too. Christine Davis, of Lighthearted Press, tells about Sammy, a feral cat she adopted. Sammy was covered with sores, and had lost big patches of fur because of fleas. She started him on regular doses of Capstar, and his fur is starting to grow in and he is feeling much better.

This is what she said:
From the moment I started him on the Capstar (12 days ago) he never had another bloody sore. The existing patches have all closed up, and what you see in this picture is the last few places where fur is starting to grow back.

I can see where this product will be a big help to rescues and shelters, stopping infestations before they get started.

Not a paid announcement 
I’m really not trying to do a commercial here! But I do like to pass along info about products that make pet owners’, pet sitters’, dog daycare owners’, and rescuers’ lives easier! 

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© 2011 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

AKA, DBA…who cares? You should.

Indy and Luke play with
a rope while Portia supervises

In order to put my business name on my checks, my bank required that I run a DBA (Doing Business As) notice in the local paper. In order to run the DBA, the paper required I get a business license from the city. Because I have two businesses, Tiger Mountain Graphics and Poway Pet Care, I had to go through this rigamarole twice. 

On my tax return, I file two Schedule Cs each year, one for each business. So I figured I had my business house in order when I recently applied to refinance my home. If you are self-employed, as most pet sitters are, you know exactly where this post is going. 

Just because I think I’m organized, and just because I think I make enough money to pay my house payment, doesn’t mean the banks agree with me. I’m sure the underwriters see “petsitter” and “artist” on my application, and roll their eyes. And sure enough, my application was refused because I don’t make enough money. My house payment was going to go DOWN $400 a month, but no matter, I couldn’t afford it. Just ask them. They certainly didn’t believe me. 

I protested, and the bank gave it another look-see. I have never provided so much documentation in my life. And some of the confusion was of my own doing. 

At some point, I have called my art business Pet Portraits. That name doesn’t encompass everything I do, since I also do graphic design, web site design, and writing. So I have used Tiger Mountain Graphics since about 1992. 

Somewhere deep in my credit report, a business has me on file as Pet Portraits. I don’t even have any business credit accounts, but I do purchase items like framing and art supplies through wholesale outlets. What’s this, asks the bank? How do I explain it? How do I prove it is my business if I’ve never used that name on a tax return or my business license? 

They asked me to have my tax accountant send them a letter verifying the business. If you are self-employed, you really need an accountant, by the way. Finally, I convinced them by showing them my re-sellers permit from the State of California, which says “Pet Portraits/Tiger Mountain Graphics.” 

Yay! At last! PROOF! Since it was issued in 1997, I had to show that I’m still in business, so my tax accountant still had to write the letter, even though they have copies of my tax returns for several years. 

Also Known As. I have gone by the nickname Terry for almost 40 years. But my given name is Teresa. That also required some explaining. 

The Lesson of the story…
If you offer and assortment of services under your business name, like pet taxi, boarding, grooming, etc., be sure you use the same business name for everything. If you rename or alter the business, be sure you have your tax returns, licensing, and other paperwork all in agreement. It’s hard enough to get a bank loan when you are self-employed, much less when your business (like mine) is an assortment of businesses all rolled into one. 

Keep legal documents simple and consistent. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief down the road. 

And yes, the refinance was approved. 
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© 2011 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.