Friday, October 7, 2011

Taking Care of Homeless Pets

As times get tough for humans, they get even tougher for the pets we care for. Let's face it, the mortgage crisis forced a lot of families out of their homes, and finding pet-friendly apartments at an affordable price is next to impossible. The lucky pets were rehomed with a friend or family member. The not-so-lucky pets were dropped off at shelters, which are already strained. the really unlucky ones - they were set loose, or worse, left inside the home with no food, water, or companionship, until they died (or were found barely alive - some made it, some didn't.)
I network daily with local shelters and rescue groups, and to say they are in need is an understatement. What they seem to need most right now are good foster homes to help with the overflow of pets that come in daily.
Have you ever considered fostering a pet? Have you thought about opening your home and heart to an animal in need on a temporary basis, until they can move on to their "fur-ever" home? Maybe you thought that you'd like to try it, but you are afraid you'll get attached and will have too hard a time giving them up. Or maybe you weren't sure how it all worked. Or maybe you have pets or kids and are a little nervous as to how they'd get along.
These are really important questions. And there are answers!
Shelters and rescue groups have resources for you. No reputable shelter would just dump a pet on you and leave you to deal with it. That doesn't help you, the pet, OR the shelter! Shelters want to create great relationships with their foster families. They have the skills and experience to guide you through the process.
If you currently have pets, they'll make sure that the pet you foster has been tested around dogs or cats. That does not mean that you won't have to supervise their interactions, or that it will be 100% hassle-free! But experienced shelter / rescue workers will give you tips on introducing the new pet into your home, and they're there to answer questions for you every step of the way.
Fostering is not forever! The upside to that is you get to enjoy all of the fun of having a new addition to your home, knowing that you're saving a life, and they will soon have their "furever" home. You can make that possible! The downside, of course, is saying goodbye. That can be tough. But you can make the transition easier by always keeping in mind that you're really just watching a pet for a little while, helping it on its path to a loving home. Will you get attached? Of course. But the pain of saying goodbye is tempered by the joy of knowing you saved a life. And of course, you can then foster another pet in need, and save another life!
Cats and dogs are in the most need when it comes to foster homes. But I have also seen rabbits, ferrets, rats, lizards, and snakes needing foster homes. If you have some experience with those types of animals, why not foster?
If you live in Northeast PA, and you are interested in opening your heart and home to a foster pet, contact me and I'll be happy to help put you in touch with area shelters and rescues in need.
To those who work in animal rescue - I salute all you do for homeless animals!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Can Has Website? LOLcats and New Designs

If you want a wonderful way to waste a little time or laugh at some cute pet photos, check out I'll admit it is torture trying to decipher the really over-the-top "LOLspeak" on some of them, but the cute pics are worth it.
Your Best Friend Pet Sitting is working on a new website (that is to say, I am working on a new website, I am a "do-it-yourselfer"), one that will provide easier navigation and more information for pet owners and clients. If there's anything you'd like to see included on the site, drop me a line at kristen (at) and let me know! I am happy to share the many resources I've developed over the years in running my business and taking care of homes and pets in the area. I welcome your ideas, always.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rainy Dogs and Muddy Paws

With the rainy days, I'm of course dealing with lots of muddy paws. My usual solution was a good old towel, I keep a stash of them in my car in case people don't have a "paw towel" of their own. I guess I never thought of another option! But recently I have found that there are a whole line of products to deal with this very issue.
Some are vase-like vessels for water, and you dip the dog's paws in to get them clean. The Paw Wash and the Paw Plunger are examples of these. I've never used them, firstly because I just found out about them, and secondly, because I am trying to imagine my own 3 dogs using these. My 3 pups are used to barreling out and in, usually at top speed, and the idea that they would slow down or sit still while I dipped all 12 paws in water...I just can't picture it! But for a single dog who is a lot more laid back about things, they may be a good solution. Although you'd have to wipe the paws anyway to get them dry, wouldn't you? I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts on this!
Another item I just found out about is a paw-cleaning mitt. Here are some examples of what's out there: The Spotless Paw, the Paw Monster, and the Evri-Pet paw cleaner. I have used a mitt like the Evri-Pet, and I found it to be a lot easier to get water, dirt and mud off dogs' paws. It's not flawless, only because dogs are dogs and some wiggle less than others of course! But I found it really fast to use and clean.
I don't get paid by any company to mention products (I'd mention it if I did!), but I always want to help people find good solutions to everyday pet problems.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Doggies in the Rain

It is no fun walking dogs in the rain. Some dogs don't mind it, but other dogs tuck their tail and try to hide when it's time to go out. I try a few strategies in cases like these.
  • I go out myself and lead the way. Some dogs may not be crazy about the rain, but they'll go if I go first and show them it's not so bad.

  • Gentle encouragement. This may mean sitting in the doorway with a treat and a soothing voice, reassuring the dog, and helping to remove the stress from the situation. It takes time, but you cannot rush a good relationship with a pet, it must be earned, and that takes time and patience.

  • Bribery. For many dogs, a treat is a great motivator. If they are really stubborn, I will bring out the freeze-dried liver treats - I have not known a dog to resist them.

  • Compassionate understanding. There are times when the weather is just so rotten, the rain or wind too fierce, or snow too deep, and a dog just flat-out refuses to go. Nuh-uh, no way, not gonna do it. And every signal they are communicating - the drooping ears, the tucked tail, the submissive licking (or even growling) - says "If you force me, it will damage our relationship. Please do not put me in that position." In those cases, we make the pooch as happy and stress-free as possible while we're there, and just try again next visit.
Maybe one of these tips will work for you if you have a reluctant, weather-weary pooch!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time Flies!

Hello online peeps, happy fall! Here in the Poconos, the leaves are starting to change color, always a spectacular time of year. The weather has been fair, always a good thing when walking dogs.

I just got back Friday night from an in-person board meeting of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. We're an all-volunteer board, and all of the board members give their time and effort to making the pet sitting industry better for sitters, and in turn, the clients we serve. It's a great organization, you can check them out at

One of the ways NAPPS benefits the pet sitting industry is through their Pet Sitting Certification program. It's a 3-credit course that covers a wealth of topics from business practices to first aid care for pets. I am proud to say I have passed the test and I am now a NAPPS-Certified Professional Pet Sitter! This was no easy test and I devoted many hours to studying and learning all I could. The knowledge was invaluable and has already been beneficial to my clients. The content was very in-depth, and covered almost everything a pet sitter should know, including when to take a pet to the vet, how to perform pet first aid, common ailments in dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, and reptiles, home security and client privacy issues, best business practices, and much more. It was very complete and detailed - they didn't skimp on the information.

(Hey, I worked hard for this certificate! Of course I'm going to show it off!)

I look forward to putting my new knowledge and skills into practice by providing only the best, most loving care for your beloved pets!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Springtime as a Pet Sitter in the Poconos!

If you live in or visit the Poconos, you've probably been ecstatic with the weather recently - warm, sunny, perfect weather for boating and fishing and all of the other incredible things to do in the area.
I am loving it too! Winter is a rough season for pet sitters (in the Northern climes, that is) so when I see those daffodils poking up through the ground, I get very excited.
Every season brings different challenges and opportunities for those who live and work with animals. In the springtime, I am extra-vigilant on my dog walks, because everything has melted, and sometimes the snow and ice can leave dangerous (or just icky) presents behind, and some dogs just can't resist nibbling, sniffing, eating, or rolling in things that are probably not very good for them!

Wildlife in northeast PA is also abundant. As a pet sitter, it is your Best Friend Pet Sitting's policy (and also a requirement of my insurance!) that I keep dogs on leashes at all times (unless they have a securely fenced yard.) Chipmunks, squirrels, turkeys, deer, skunks, foxes groundhogs, even the occasional bear have all crossed my path on dog walks, and no matter how well you know your dog and trust him or her, you simply can't predict what they'll do when confronted with wildlife (and you can't predict what another animal will do!) Keeping a dog on a leash is not just good sense, it can save their life!

The Hamlin, Lake Ariel, and Greentown areas, and all of the areas around Lake Wallenpaupack and the various other lakes in the area, feature many community associations (like The Hideout, Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, Tanglwood POA, etc.) Most, if not all of these communities have strict regulations about cleaning up after your dog. As a professional pet sitter, I clean up after every dog, always, regardless of what the association rules are, or even if it's just a private residence. That's my company policy, yes, but mostly it's just common sense and good manners!

I hope you and your pets are having a wonderful spring! If you plan to spend some time outdoors exploring the Poconos, don't spend the day feeling like you have to rush to get back to the pets - just give me a call! I'll pamper your pets so you can enjoy hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating, guilt-free!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yard Waste Pick-Up

It's that time of year! The time when we see the snow melting, and we start planning our vacations! I love this time of year. the snow is juuuuust about gone, the dogs I walk sniff the ground like crazy on our walks to see what the melted snow has left behind, and if you pay attention, you can hear the robins singing. All right, all right, when I start talking like that my husband says he's going to bring out a violin. Haha. But it's true, it's a great time of year, especially after that long, dreary winter. Am I right?

So with vacations comes pet care, and things are already busy! Give me a call or send me an email if you're ready to book pet sitting services, and if you live in the Hamlin / Lake Ariel / Greentown / Moscow / Mount Cobb / Newfoundland areas. The summer holidays are almost fully booked up already - yikes! Fortunately, I am pleased to announce that I will be bringing on an employee or two in the next month or so. Stay tuned!

I'm off to walk my own dogs. We've all been feeling a little "pent up" this winter with the awful weather, so we are ready for some long walks! I hope you and your pets are having a great day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Emergency Planning

I'll admit - it's been hard to watch the news lately. The earthquake and tsumnami in Japan are heartbreaking events and my thoughts have been on the people there. Living in the mountains quite far from any coast, I don't really have to worry about tsunamis, but there are so many other weather-related disasters that can occur, and I think it's good just to be aware and have an emergency plan in place. As a pet sitter, it's part of my job. But what about pet owners?

Fortunately, there is a great document from NAPPS (The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters)called the Emergency Planning Guide for Pet Owners. It's totally free to download - just visit, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the link that says "Download a free copy".

One of the best things you can do right away, if you haven't done it already, is to microchip and photograph your pets. Photographing your pets once a year or so can aid in finding a lost pet, and microchipping your pet can make it much easier for others to find you, should they find your pet.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It Happened Again...

It happened again...another call from a new client who is calling me because they had a friend checking in on their pets while they were away, and they returned to find that the pets were not well cared for. While I am always happy to get new business, I am always dismayed to have to get it in this fashion - where someone trusted a friend, housekeeper, or *eek* a kid to care for their 2 most important things - their home and their furry family members - what they paid for.

I network with professional pet sitters across the country, and we ALL have these stories (with varying degrees of horror, unfortunately). You can even find news stories where people trusted their home and pets to non-professionals, and came home to find their pets missing, abused, neglected, or...well, let's not go there. It's heartbreaking.

I think of it a little like insurance. Why do we have auto and home insurance? What if our car is in great shape and we never get into an accident? What if our home stays safe and sound for years and nothing ever happens to it? Why should we pay month after month for insurance when we're pretty sure nothing's going to go wrong?

Simply put, because everything is fine until it's not.

So why pay for a trained, certified, experienced professional to come into our home and care for our precious pets, when we're pretty sure the neighbor or housekeeper can feed the cats and walk the dog?

The answer is in the call I got from the new client. "We didn't think it would be that hard, just walking a dog and putting down food. We were wrong." Their friend did not have the experience to recognize signs of distress and discomfort in their pets. They did not have the inclination to clean the litter box as often as it should have been - and they didn't know that cats will often start to potty somewhere else if the box isn't clean. And once they start that habit, it's difficult and time-consuming to retrain them. Their friend didn't understand the dangers of rock salt on a dog's paws (and the tummy distress that happens when a dog comes inside and licks its paws clean, ingesting all of those toxins). Their friend was doing them a favor, and not getting paid much, so after a few days of having their day interrupted by the pet sits they took on to help out, they were burned out and cut corners, without realizing how it impacted the pets. They just didn't see the signs. Fortunately the pets are okay - but the money my new client saved in using a non-professional all went to vet bills and carpet cleaning when they returned from their trip. Not to mention the strained friendship.

Those who hire pet sitters (including me!) expect more than someone coming in and dumping food in a dish and giving a quick walk to a dog. We want our pets to be happy! We want to know that while we are away, they are being loved, and nurtured, and carefully observed for signs of problems that an experienced eye will catch. We need to know that our instructions are being followed. We need to know that the litter box is being cleaned daily, not just on the last visit so it looks like it's been clean all week! We need the peace of mind that comes from hiring a professional, who has a career and reputation at stake which means the job will be done RIGHT.

While the economy is slowly getting stronger, we are all still looking for ways to save money. But when it comes to the care of your cherished furry family members - it's worth paying a little extra for an experienced, insured professional to provide the best care when you're not there. Because everything is fine until it's not. When it comes to the health and safety of your pets, I firmly believe that it's just not worth the risk. My new client heartily agrees.