Monday, September 12, 2016

Pet Sitter Emergency Procedures

Last Friday, the owners of the Green Acres boarding facility in Gilbert, AZ, were sentenced for the deaths of the 23 dogs in their care. Over the weekend there was news of 14 dogs dying from heat exhaustion in a boarding facility in Canada. Gross negligence was involved in both of these tragedies.

It made me think, again, about the trust involved in pet care. A solemn trust that the care taker will not only provide the best care but will also have emergency protocols in place. 

This is a matter we take very seriously, particularly since the Monument Fire of 2011 when 10,000 people were evacuated (myself included) and the entire Hereford area was closed to all traffic with the National Guard, the Border Patrol and local law enforcement agencies preventing access.

Interestingly, not one client has ever asked us about our emergency procedures for pet care. What would we do in the event of a forest fire? A massive power outage? A water contamination event? We have handled all of these situations, and more.

During the fire we had to evacuate client pets, first in the Palominas area then north over the course of days as the fire moved and threatened Three Canyons, Ramsey Canyon and the Moson Road area. It was an incredible experience for the entire community.

We have had several water events; from contaminated wells servicing specific neighborhoods to a big freeze that froze pipes (which then leaked when it warmed up). Our clients don't know (but should!) that we monitor many social media outlets to learn of these events to cross reference with the pets in the affected areas who are under our care. We stand ready to haul fresh water and immediately remove contaminated water from pet access.

Power outages can cause problems, too. Air conditioning will go out which will cause homes to become hot and any length of time without power can be detrimental to aquariums and pond fish. We are going to know where power is out so we can provide whatever relief is possible to those pets.

Throughout all of these scenarios, we will be in constant contact with our clients and/or their emergency contacts. 

Our advice to pet parents is to ask questions. Know what your boarding facility or pet sitter will do in the event of an emergency. Does the boarding facility have sensors in place to notify staff of emergency conditions? Does the pet sitter have a plan to care for your pet and possibly evacuate them? You should not be afraid to ask "What If" questions and if you're not happy with the answers you will know that you should seek other care arrangements.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dog Walk GPS Route Report

Last week we posted about our Pet Sitter GPS Visit Location report. This week we show you our Dog Walk GPS Route report. 

Our clients love being able to see where we walk their dogs! The report includes the arrival and completion time stamps (not shown) and a link to open the route map. 

In this report we walked the senior dog around the small block so she could mosey along smelling bushes and occasionally flirting with the people who are out and about. The big loop is for the younger girls who have abundant energy!

The visit report will include a note about the dog walk to let you know about the fun things that happen - like a bird dog coming nose to nose with a rather surprised dove while not breaking her stride!

You'll LOVE our customer service and your pets will LOVE our visits!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pet Sitter GPS Visit Location

We embrace all of the technology available to us to be transparent to our customers. Our scheduling system has a lot of features that our customers love; like being able to schedule their visits with just a few clicks of the mouse, managing their pet care profiles, being able to view visit reports in their account and by email and much more.

Our visit reports also include a map that will show the GPS location stamp where the pet sitter marked the visit arrival and completion as well as the location of the client's home.  

As you can see, our visits are action packed! The above map shows the pet sitter had quite a few chores taking care of the four dogs, cleaning the back yard, moving the parrot cage into the spare bedroom for bedtime peace and quiet and checking the mail. 

Our clients can simply click on the Visit Map to see the map or satellite overview of the arrival and completion location while the visit report captures the time in and out.  

The note will let you know how everything is, if there are any problems, a description of the activities and an informative report as to how the visit went. Our clients love the personal touch and you will, too!

At Creature Comforts we hope to exceed your expectations for service and care!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why Do Dogs Fight?

Many people experience it; the sudden fight between their dogs that seems to come out of the blue. It's a highly charged situation that is loud, scary and dangerous! Whether you have Rottweilers or Shih Tzus, dog fights can happen. 

Why do dogs fight? There are a few common triggers:

  • Most of the time dogs will fight when they are overly excited about something. This may be over toys, food, the doorbell or games like fetch. One of them will get it in his mind to be dominant.
  • Sometimes one dog, who may consider herself alpha among the dogs, will try to be controlling over the others when they are excited about being let out to run in a field or even in the back yard. She will attempt to correct the excitement level and a fight is on.
  • Dogs can get into a fight if they see another dog outside the yard. They will focus on the stranger until their excited frustration gets the best of them and they turn on each other.

You'll notice that excited dominance is always the culprit in these scenarios. It is uncommon for truly aggressive dogs to be able to live peacefully within a pack and those dogs will need professional help.

Hank was badly injured by a visiting dog
If you think back to when  your dogs have gotten into a fight you will likely find excited dominance at the core. Luckily, you can correct this behavior by learning their triggers and working on obedience. Practice keeping your dogs calm around each other and keep their excitement periods under control by limiting the time they are allowed to play (with each other or games like fetch) and breaking for a few minutes with calming obedience tactics like sitting for a treat or being on a leash when out running in a field.

This becomes even more important when you have an "Omega" dog. His body language and energy is very submissive. He is the kind of dog who seems to always be picked on by the other dogs and he's always giving up his toys or bed. These dogs will bear the brunt of the excitement of the more dominant dogs in the home. In the case of Hank and his brother Worf, they occasionally get into it when playing fetch. The injuries you see are from their uncle that the client was watching for her daughter for a few weeks. They came home from work one day to find Hank had been attacked and he was in pretty bad shape!

In closing, work with your dogs to reinforce your place as their leader by doing basic obedience and going for walks. Keep their excitement over their triggers under control. Never allow one to be dominant over the other(s) during any activity. With practice and determination you can create a peaceful coexistence between your dogs. 

We'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Monday, August 8, 2016

About That One Negative Review

We pride ourselves on the excellent care and customer service we provide. We go the extra mile to make sure that the pets in our care have the best possible care; from noticing lumps that turned out to be cancer to noticing redness in paws that turned out to be grass allergies to lifting a large mastiff up off her bed and assisting her while she walked outside to potty, to intensive care and extra visits and 4 phone calls a day to report to the the vet for a diabetic dog whose blood sugar plummeted to a dangerous level after vomiting her meal between visits - we do far more than simply feed and water the pets we visit. 

We go the extra mile to take care of the homes, too. From calling out a well company when water stopped to shampooing carpets to shutting water off at the street during the big freeze when the pipes thawed out and were leaking (we checked every house) to bringing in my husband for help set a ping pong table upright and away from a glass door during a wind storm, disabling a wired smoke detector that was malfunctioning (with client permission), oiling a padlock that would not open on a driveway gate and shutting off an ice maker that was leaking, we make sure the homes are safe and secure.

Recently we came across a severely matted cat who was kept in a bathroom and was in poor health. As a team we could not simply look the other way and allow the cat to suffer (matting causes pain from the hair being pulled during movement, rashes and possible skin infections and is an indicator of overall neglect). One of our pet sitters is also an Animal Control Officer for the Sheriff's Dept and she went to the job with the assigned pet sitter to evaluate the cat's condition. We reported the situation to the Sierra Vista Animal Control to conduct a welfare check upon the client's return and to encourage the client to have the cat seen by a veterinarian and be professionally groomed.

This cat was one of 14 cats in the home. 12 of the cats shared only 2 litter boxes. As a result there was urine and fecal matter throughout the home that we cleaned on every visit. Water dishes that had slime were washed and fresh water was given on every visit. Food dishes were topped off. This was an emotionally challenging job as we are a team of animal advocates who support rescues, volunteer at the shelter and foster homeless and abandoned pets.

This client has posted some very harsh reviews on Yelp and Google. She has said horrible things about our business and about me, personally. While we responded to the reviews we have disengaged from continued drama in rebuttals.

It is entirely likely that she returned home, 36 hours after our final visit, to find feces in the bathroom. We found it that way on every visit and cleaned it. She had told us at the consultation that the senior cat had ongoing issues with diarrhea. It is also possible that she found some empty food bowls. Prior to her travel she had someone else prearranged to care for her cats after our last visit and before her return home.

We were aware that she has cameras (we assume everyone does) and even set one upright for her that a cat had knocked over. We are requesting the video surveillance of the visits that will show our diligence in caring for her cats.

We have six years of client testimonials that are all very positive that show our consistent excellence in pet care and customer service. They are available on this blog, on our Facebook page, on Google, on Angie's List and on Yelp. We have had clients move away who asked us to start a service in their new area (we are working on it!). Our clients seek our advice about pet care and use us as referrals when they rescue pets. We also enjoy great relationships with groomers and veterinarians (who invite us to attend events and work with us to compose emergency care protocol forms) who refer us to their clients.

I encourage you to take in the totality of our customer reviews to make an informed decision as to the true character of our service. One highly dramatic rant from this situation in no way reflects the care you can count on from our team.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Low Cost Vaccination Clinics in Sierra Vista

Sierra Vista area feed stores host several low cost vaccination clinics each month! You can get rabies and routine vaccinations, microchips, deworming and even heartworm tests done at an affordable cost for your dogs and cats.
  • Tractor Supply has a clinic twice each month. For prices and dates click here.
  • Cal Ranch has a clinic on a variable schedule. You'll have to call the store to find out when the next clinic will be held (520) 417-5632
  • Jem's Feed has a clinic on the first and third Saturday of each month. Click here for their calendar and pricing.
  • PetsMart has a clinic on a variable schedule. You'll have to call the store to find out when the next clinic will be held (520) 439-2820 press 0 to get a person.
Did you know that for around $25 you can have your pet microchipped? Check out the procedures and prices at the above clinics!


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

We have a few clients who have confessed to us that their dog eats poop. They are horrified and embarrassed and they just don't know how to stop it!

This is a really hard habit to break. It is more common in homes with multiple dogs (most dogs will eat the poop of other dogs and not their own) and it's more common among female dogs than male dogs. Here are some things you can try to dissuade your dog from snacking on tidbits found in the yard:

Diet. Rule out malnourishment issues. Sometimes dogs will develop this habit due to either not getting the nutrients they need from their diet or not being able to absorb the nutrients. If you are feeding a brand found in grocery or department stores consider switching to a premium quality dog food that is nutritionally sound. We recommend using to review the 4 and 5 star rated foods; find a few that are available locally that fit within your budget. You'll be surprised at how affordable a good diet can be!

Health Issues. Talk to your vet to rule out diseases such as diabetes, Cushing's and thyroid issues as well as possible parasites. 

Deterrent Pills. These are designed to make the taste of the poop unappealing (as though it is appealing in its natural state!) Our clients will often tell us to give Bella the deterrent medicine, which doesn't seem to be helping, but not the other dogs in the home. We recommend they give it to all of the dogs in the house for a month or so to see if this works - and it does in some cases. More stubborn cases require further intervention.

Other Deterrents. Find something really hot, like habanero sauce, to apply to the poop as your dogs produce it. This will require keen observation and persistence over a period of time! It is not as easy or successful if your dog has a dog door or is kept outside when you can't be vigilant about applying it as soon as it happens.

Remove Temptation. Keep your yard clean on a daily basis (it is most common for dogs to snack on fresh poop). We recommend trying all of the above remedies to break the habit and then doing this one to prevent it from recurring. Just like quitting any habit, it is easiest to not relapse when you're able to avoid temptation. Alcoholics should stay out of bars. Smokers should throw away all cigarettes. Dogs should not have poop available.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dangerous Strain of Dog Flu Spreads

No one wants to get the flu and your dog is now also at risk. The H3N2 canine influenza virus began infecting dogs last year and continues to spread in 2016.

Two cases of this contagious virus have been confirmed in Tucson, as reported by KGUN 9 News.

"None of the dogs have immunity to fight it off, so you see large numbers of dogs getting ill when the virus starts to circulate," said Beth Lipton, vet for Public Health Seattle and King County. "When dogs are going to day care or dog parks or boarding overnight in kennel facilities, it can spread very rapidly."

Talk to your vet about having your dogs vaccinated if they are at high risk from activities such as going to the dog park, going to doggy daycare or other social gatherings. When you travel contact us to leave your pet at home in a stress free environment where there is no risk of exposure. Click here to schedule a Free Consultation!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Which Dog Food Is Best?

If you're wondering what you should feed your dog and you feel overwhelmed by the choices you're not alone! With so many varieties and brands and the ingredient list, how is a dog owner to know which food is nutritionally sound?

Let's start with elimination. Brands found in grocery and department stores are made with inexpensive ingredients, like corn and meat by-products, that make up the bulk of the content. While these brands can appear to be a low-cost solution, your dog will pass most of the food without absorbing nutrition. This means you will need to feed two to three times more than when feeding a premium diet and your yard will have that much more poo to clean up - not a very good bargain!

Premium diets come with so many options from grain free to having chelated minerals and probiotics to proteins like rabbit and kangaroo - oh my! To get started see which brands are available at our local retailers like Ramsey Canyon Feed or PetsMart and compare them on Dog Food Advisor to learn more about the rating and ingredients. We recommend making your choice from a brand found on the 4 or 5 star lists.

By using Dog Food Advisor you will learn that a food that appears to be above average, based on the ingredients on the label, may not measure up when actual volumes are compared.

Finally, it is important to switch the protein a few times a year to prevent possible food allergies from developing.