Over the River & Through the Woods – Traveling to Grandma’s with Pets

As we move into the fall months and the weather cools (unless you are down here in Texas), people tend to think less about vacations and more about all the holidays on the horizon. But those holidays often include travel, and while you might not want to take Fido on your tropical summer get-away…bringing him to stay a few nights at your parents’ house for Thanksgiving might be just what you need to survive another family gathering.

IMG_2334_1024Of course I would recommend you find a fabulous pet sitter to give your furry family members all the love and attention they could need…but I might be bias.

Traveling with pets can definitely be an exciting adventure – as long as your trip is well planned.  We have a great resource of information on traveling with your pet here.  It includes everything from general travel tips, to information on airline guidelines for pets, to what hotels will allow pets to stay on their property.

Some smart pet lovers over at the Brenham Community Center found a great resource on a website about truckers traveling with their pets.  Check it out here.  It outlines basic information about being on the road with dog and cats (…and also mentions traveling with rabbits and birds.  I’m not sure I’d ever be that brave!)  Our Online Directory has been updated to include a link to this informative page.  Big thanks to the kids out at the Brenham Community Center for sharing the information they found as they work hard on their project!

Feel free to leave any tips you have for traveling with your pets in the comments below.  I’d love to hear any personal experiences or “adventures” you have had while traveling with your furry children….and please please please leave a comment if you have ever road tripped with a bunny!

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The Best Cat Food in the World: Does it exist and where can I find it?

thumb_img_2113_1024-2I feed a lot of cats.  A LOT.  I feed indoor and outdoor cats.  I feed kittens.  I feed cats with kidney problems.  I feed cats who live in vegans homes and cats that have failing kidneys.  They all eat something different.  Some different ratio of wet to dry.  So who is feeding their cat the best food?

Turns out – all cats are different.  Shocker!   There are so many different diatary and health needs in each individual feline, it is impossible to bestow the title of “Best Cat Food in the World” on just one bag of kibble or can of wet food.  (Imagine trying to choose “Best Food in the World” for all humankind!)

We should all be more aware of what we are feeding our cats (and dogs!), though.  That literally just means read the food label.  If there is something that you have no earthly idea what it is…Google it!  If there is a long list of somethings that you have no earthly idea what they are…it might be time to reconsider what you are serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Reviews.com has a wonderful cheat sheet on what to consider when feeding Fluffy.

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I actually took the time to read the complete article The Best Cat Food: Safe and Healthy Formulas for your Feline Friend.  Lots of information here!  Here are a few random points that I found interesting:

—Reviews.com picked “10 of Our Favorite Cat Foods”.  Again – I think lists like these are so subjective.  Every cat is SO DIFFERENT.  But, I do think these lists are a good place to start your research.  What I found unique about this list is the fact that they took things like past recalls and customer complaints into account.  As someone who obsessively reads reviews for everything online…I found this awesome.  Let’s be real – I care more about what other cat lovers think about a particular food than details about where the grains were processed.

—Rendering facilities.  Y’all.  I was totally ignorant.  This particular article mentioned these plants acquiring “animal products” from other sources including slaughterhouses and ANIMAL SHELTERS.  I wanted to believe this was some sort of scare tactic designed to get me to shell out for pricier foods…so I turned to the world wide web to ease my fears.  After reading many, many things – including this and this – I realized all pet owners should be making a bigger issue out of these “rendering facilities”!!!

—Wet vs Dry?  The age old question…which should you be feeding your cat.  Spoiler – there is no right or wrong answer.  There are so many subjective qualities to be taken into account here.  Your furry family member’s needs are only really known by you.126dd58bc404966894be7f207810f5f3

At the end of the day, you…the wonderful, caring, blog-reading, Google-researching cat parent that you are…have to read labels and ask questions.  Simply being informed will ensure that you are doing all you can to provide the best life for that feline family member of yours!

 

 

2017

Happy 2017!

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Amigo

I usually try not to make a list of New Years resolutions (for obvious reasons), but this year I broke my own rule. I actually made my entire family sit down – even my 3 year old – to discuss #1 on my resolution list:

Be a better family to our dogs.

While such a statement might seem vague, it is ambiguous on purpose. Each one of us might take that to to mean something different…and that’s ok. One thing is certain, though, we need to start treating Buffy & Amigo as full fledged family members NOT second class citizens.

As many of you blog readers know, Theodore arrived on the scene in March and my whole world changed. What few precious seconds of free time I enjoyed was quickly replaced by exhaustion, laundry (seriously – how did one tiny human seem to DOUBLE our dirty clothes production?), and a sense that I was forever running 5 minutes behind.

As a dog lover and self proclaimed dog expert, I had decided I would not be a mom who would forget about her dogs once children became part of my life – and  I have made it a point to do this. I make sure to give each one of them individual attention every day. I cuddle with them in bed at night. Someone is home most of the day – so they are constantly enjoying fresh air and are rarely left alone. BUT THIS IS NOT ENOUGH. They need more!

Back to this resolution – being “better”. Dogs need exercise…not just fresh air. They need mental stimulation…not just attention. It’s not enough to spring for the all natural, gluten free, organic dog treats!  They don’t need another toy!  They need me making an effort to help them be what they were born to be – dogs.

Well, they don’t need just me. They need US. One of my pet peeves in life is when people say a dog is “mine” when they are part of a family unit. That is the equivalent of me decided to rent out our guest bedroom and tell my husband “I” got a roommate.  With dogs and cats – you are all in it together; everyone has to put in some sort of effort.

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Buffy

So 2017 will be the year of the dogs over here at the Fuentes house. Right now that means more exercise (walks), more playtime (with a human actively taking part), and more tricks (to keep my lab’s brain working). Work, preschool, lack of sleep, lack of motivation, weather…these are not excuses!!!  Just as I would not leave my 3 year old to decided just how his days should be spent…I will take a more active part on how my 4 legged children spend their days.

My other big resolution is to BLOG MORE. It’s what I love…and somehow it gets pushed to the side just like those other things I love: peace & quiet. 

Comment below and let me know what your New Years resolutions are…especially if they are dog related!

How to be a Blind Dogs Best Friend

For most of our clients, “in home” visits are what they are looking for.  There are, though, a few pups in our care that cannot be left alone for long stretches of time.  As long as the dogs our rigorous screening process (screening process = don’t bite any of my 2 or 4-legged kids!), I invite them to stay in my home.  While they physically outside their element, both pet and parent alike can relax knowing that myself, my mom, or my husband is usually around about 22 hours out of the day.  Surprisingly, we have never had any issues with having house guests.  Well, not until recently…

A few weeks ago, one of our “regular” house guests came to stay.  He is a sweet Pomeranian who is adored by my 3 year old and greatly ignored by Buffy & Amigo.  (As you dog lovers know – total disregard is the dog equivalent of BFF.)  And while this sweet man has stayed with us many times before – he recently had to have an eye removed. Then just months after that, he went blind in his other eye.  He is now completely blind.

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I’m not going to lie to you – I was a bit nervous!  Dogs are smart, and I assumed something about my house would be familiar to him (the smell of our dogs, my voice, etc.), but I work with dogs enough to know you should NEVER assume ANYTHING!  (I think that’s true when dealing with us humans as well.)  By using common sense, though, we all actually enjoyed our tiny furry roommate.  Here are a few things to consider when dealing with a visually impaired pup:

Make sure everyone is aware of the situation – Obviously, my husband knew the dog was blind.  Informing and then explaining the circumstances to my 3 year old proved to be challenging…but he actually caught on pretty quickly.  Making sure everyone who came into contact with Mr. Pomeranian knew about his vision situation was imperative.  Not only so all humans were looking out for him…they were careful not to assume he would move from underfoot, be able to walk about the door for a potty break, etc.

Talk…a lot – This one is not hard for me.  I would literally narrate everything I was doing, trying to use familiar words (“crate”, “water”, “treat”).  Obviously, the dog didn’t understand what I was saying, but at least he some vague idea what was coming.  It also made it easier for him to keep tabs on where I was in the room.  Every time…and I do mean EVERY time I went to pick him up, I would say “I’m going to pick you up now!” I can’t imagine not being able to see and all of a sudden being lifted off the ground.   That goes right into my third point….

Put yourself in their shoes paws – So often when working with dogs, I find myself using those rules I was taught in kindergarten.  “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”  If you were in a foreign place with your eyes shut…would you appreciate a loud movie with lots of dramatic explosions?  Someone rubbing on you when you were sound asleep?  NO!  By visualizing myself in Mr. Pomeranian’s paws…I hopefully was able to make things a little less scary for him.

Obviously, our house guest was only staying for a few weeks, so we didn’t run into the same obstacles we would if we were dealing with vision 24/7.  While the first day or two was a little rough on our little friend (I was unsuccessful in persuading my 4 month old to give up the crying…and Mr.Pomeranian had never been around a newborn.  I wonder what he thought was going on!), overall we all managed to co-exist in harmony.  I did do my homework, though, and learned some new facts about blind dogs:

Halo***Rugs are a great way to alert your dogs where doors, furniture, and other obstacles are located.

***Give them their own personal space.  (I heard some behaviorist refer to this as a “home base.”)  Basically – this is where all their stuff will live: crate, bowl, toys, bed. Decide on a layout and stick to it.  This way they can always come back to this familiar corner and reorientate themselves.

***Blind dogs can map out their surroundings in as little as one day!  (I was amazed to learn this!)  Try to avoid picking them up while they are playing mental cartographer.  A few bumps never hurt anyone!  (Obviously after ensuring stairs or any other dangers blocked.)

***Dog Halos!  (Muffin’s Halo is pictured above) Do you know about these?  They are so simple and so ingenuous at the same time.  Check them out here.  Basically a “halo” around the dog’s head to warn them when they are getting too close to bumping into something.  I love it!

Any readers with blind dogs…I would LOVE to hear from you!

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I’m Back (Baby Teddy’s Introduction)

I am so excited to be sitting down and writing this post.

Writing about dogs is so wonderfully therapeutic for me.  I’ve always felt that…out in society…strangers quickly become friends when a pet is mentioned.  When the fact that I’m a professional pet sitter comes up – I know no stranger.  Everyone has something to share with me: beloved childhood companions, current insane behaviors, dramatic stories of rescue.  I love every word. And I love sharing that with my blog readers.  But then…

On March 7th, Theodore Ashford was born…

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…and blogging (along with many other things) went straight out the window.

But now, after 4 months…I finally have a moment (a miraculous, rare moment when both boys are napping) to return to this blog that I have grown to love.  I love connecting with all you readers.  I love how technology can bring us together.  I love that we can share our ideas and opinions…our personal experiences.

And sometimes I love having a place where I can come to post the stupid dog videos that for some unknown reason entertain me so much.  Damn you internet!

I can’t wait to share more about Teddy.  And how the two original babies – Buffy & Amigo – are dealing with the new addition.  (Spoiler: they are rock stars)  And the blind dog who is staying with us right now who I’m totally in love with.  And how I really do think that parenting a pup help you parent a tiny human.  

Lots to come.  Soon I hope.  Thanks for stopping by!

All the pictures in this post were taken while shooting Baby Teddy’s birth announcements.  Shows the different personalities of my two pups!!

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Buffy during the “shoot”

 

Finding a Home for Daisy

Blog readers and dog lovers – can we find a home for this sweet pup??

Daisy

One of our blog readers, Jessie, has recently moved and discovered that her new smaller back yard just isn’t enough for this sweet pup, Daisy.  She is trying to do the responsible thing and find a loving family that can give Daisy the attention, love, and exercise she needs!

The great news is that Daisy is good with other dogs and children.  (She currently lives with a 3 year old.)  She is full grown at 45 pounds and is up to date with all of her shots.  She is still a puppy, though (almost a year old) and has lots of that puppy energy.  She is currently living Spring, Texas.  

If you are interested in giving sweet Daisy a forever home – or have any more questions about her – email us here at blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com.

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Puppies Vs. Babies – Potty Training

How many times have you heard “Dogs are a great way to prepare for having kids!”

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This statement inevitably divides a room – on one side you will find those who completely agree…and on the other side you will find those who are snickering, rolling their eyes, and insisting that babies are babies and dogs are animals.  Apples to oranges.

Now that I am a mom to both two-legged and four-legged, I can say I strongly agree with the former.  Exhibit A – “Potty” Training.

I think Buffy was possibly the hardest dog to house train EVER.  (I’m sure many of you would argue that your dog can claim that title.)  She simply refused to potty outside.  I tried EVERYTHING – I read every book; I took her out constantly; I rewarded with praise, rewarded with treats, rewarded with play.  I took her out at all hours.  I crate trained.  Nothing worked.  NOTHING.  My husband and I were at our wit’s end.  (Did I mention we lived on the second story of an apartment?  This meant leashing Buffy up and crossing the parking lot ever trip outside…and then walking back and forth in a small patch of grass while being watched by neighbors and passing traffic.)  Months and months on my hands and knees – patiently sopping pee up out of the carpet.  Countless shopping bags full of poop.

Flash forward 5 years.  Sebastian is of potty training age.  Don’t get me wrong, we have had accidents.  (I learned very quickly that the fact that he JUST pottied in the potty does not mean he will not potty again…right next the potty…before you can even get him re-diapered!)  I know we are a long way from being done with this chapter in the parenting book, but this has been nothing….NOTHING! compared to the potty drama with Buffy.  (The fact that Sebastian wears diapers that catch the messes does make a big difference!)

I like to think that Buffy was preparing me for Sebastian.  Buffy and her house training was the first “parental” challenge I had to face in my life.  The first instance where I was responsible for shaping another creature’s behavior.  The first time in my life where I had met someone who I could fill my heart with so much love while at the same time inducing such hair-pulling frustration.  I might have taught Buffy where to “do her business”…but she taught me the most important quality that every parent (no matter how many legs their baby has) must possess:

PATIENCE.

 

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“Heartography” Creates the first PhoDOGrapher

Have you guys seen this amazing new invention from Nikon?  They invented a camera that takes pictures when it detects an increased heart rate in a dog.  In other words – every time a pup gets exited to see something…it snaps a pic.  What an awesome way to get a little insight into what makes our canine companions happy (or at least what grabs their attention.)

After watching the video I was curious to see more of Grizzler’s photos.  Not too many posted (I was disappointed) but I did manage to find a few here.  I’m hoping Nikon will keep up this experiment and share some more pictures with us.  What do you think?  What would your pup snap a pic of??

Sketches + Bull Terrier = Smiles

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These pics gained popularity online months ago…but I just saw them for the first time over the weekend.  I thought they were too adorably creative not to share.

A project by artist Rafael Mantesso, the pictures combine silly, fun drawings alongside his bull terrier, Jimmy Choo.  While the pictures alone are enough to make us take notice of Mantesso’s talent – there is also a touching “man’s best friend” story there as well.  After his divorce – Mantesso was left with nothing but and empty, white-walled house, and his newly acquired companion, Jimmy Choo.

“One day I was playing with him in the room and decided to make this picture, holding his hand [while showing the] affection and friendship that existed there.”

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It wasn’t long after that Mantesso’s love of Jimmy Choo and love of drawing melded together to create what I think are amazingly unique, heartfelt, touching, goofy, smile-inducing pictures.

Check out Rafael’s Instagram page for even more awesome drawings and more Jimmy Choo.  Here are a few of my favorites:

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JC Lady

 

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