Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless-ish Wednesday: ABC Certified Dog Trainer

It's official:
I'm a graduate of Animal Behavior College. And all I got was this logo.
(No, no. Not true. I just couldn't resist saying it.)

But can I tame this beast?

There's plenty to say about Animal Behavior College and what the heck happens now, but all my energy is being focused into other things at the moment. I will address this soon enough! And it may not be what you expect me to say.

Friday, July 26, 2013

When You Have to Leave Your Pet Alone: A Guest Post by the Founder of Keepdom

As we near the end of this long hurricane displacement, my focus has turned quite a bit to "what the heck are we gonna do with this dog when we get back?"

He has not been really left alone--I mean really--for many many months. He is not, so far, loving being in the crate alone. He always used to have the run of our house, more or less. We know that it took us many many months the first time around to "cure" his separation anxiety, during which time he did a fine job of messing up our house. Even when we get home, we aren't going to be "home" as far as he's concerned. It will look and smell and feel different. What the heck are we gonna do with this dog when we get back?

One of the things I've considered is hiring a dog walker, but that's a daunting task. How do you find the right one? How do you know they will be a good match for your dog and his quirks? How do you know they won't drink all your beer or set weird stuff to record on your DVR? What if they steal your good bottle of wine? What if they don't lock up correctly? What if they lose your dog? So many insane questions to be answered! 

But a good place to start might be on a site that's dedicated to helping great pet service providers find the right pet owners in need. And one such place is Keepdom.

Adi Goradia founded Keepdom in 2012 after he struggled to find a trustworthy dog walker in L.A. when he was no longer able to bring his dog to his old job. 

Adi says, "Inspired by my dog Keep a 3.5 yr/old Shiba Inu. Keepdom creates internet products to help pets get exercise, love, and attention while their owner has to be out of the house for work or otherwise. ... Solving problems for real people via the power of online tools is my true passion." 

Meet Keep


Pet Services, Dog Walking, Rescues

How cool would it be to take your dog to work every day? This is a question I’m sure many of you have often heard. Guess what? It’s really cool! For more than a year I was able to take my dog Keep to work with me: every morning I drove with her to the Google headquarters in Mountain View where I spent much of my time. At Googleplex, Keep could hang out with some of the other dogs and get some exercise, but most importantly I always knew what she was up to.

During my time at Google it also became evident to American pet owners that just like us, the pet world was suffering from an obesity epidemic. According to a CNN article from February 2012 53% of adult dogs and 55% of adult cats were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. It was clear that everyone at home, including our pets, needed more exercise.

When my fiancĂ© and I decided to move to L.A. we were really excited...except for one thing: I was no longer able to bring Keep to my new job, and my fiancĂ©, recently admitted to medical school, would have no time to look after Keep. Our options seemed limited. For the first time I was confronted with the scary experience of having to look for someone to take care of Keep while we were away for long hours. I did some research to see what other dog owners did in this situation, and I found that many dog parents leave their dogs at home while they work all day. I also found that leaving a dog at home all day can increase risk of obesity and poor behaviors.  Apart from avoiding obesity, getting your dog out of the house and walking your dog every day helps control many of the problems that arise due to excess and stored energy. These include incessant barking, chewing on things (that they know they’re not supposed to be chewing on), aggressive or overly timid behavior, and more. I wanted to avoid this at any cost.

I consulted some friends and fellow dog-parents and took their advice: search for dog walkers on Craigslist and rip off paper ads from my local coffee shop. As simple as this was, it didn’t get me any closer to finding a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced dog walker; there were a ton of dog walkers out there, but there was also so little information about them that I could not find the right walker for Keep. Additionally, my friends advised me to make sure Keep’s walker was insured. As I found out, not many of the ones I contacted were. Even so, I recognized that they were incredibly nice people, that they truly loved animals and that they were willing to work hard to get my dog out and in motion. A thought occurred to me. How can dog walkers become more marketable and what kind of tools do they need to find more clients in a much easier way? 

Fully aware of the need of dogs to exercise more often and realizing that there was a desperate need for more good, insured dog walkers, I decided to quit my job and start this company. My team and I work every day to help dog walkers promote their business and do their job well, in turn giving peace of mind to dog parents who know their loved ones are getting their daily dose of exercise. We even named the company after Keep because she is the inspiration--check us out at!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 8: Don't Hire Desmond as Your Contractor

Because, frankly, he doesn't seem that interested in the job.

Luckily, our actual contractors are doing the best they can to get us back home as soon as they can (safely, of course--no cut corners here). It's been 263 days of displacement thus far, but with a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm at least starting to feel about 50% excited along with my other 50% of frustrated and sad.

Desmond's doing the best he can, but our crate training attempt has been fairly difficult due in part to the fact that we really don't have the ability to dedicate time to the real effort required to properly crate train a dog. We got up to a point where we thought we could leave him in there for a while--and so we did.

We were out in the yard, BBQing, and he was upstairs in the crate. He had been outside with us and wanting nothing to do with that. He wanted to go inside, without a doubt. So we took him in and put him in the crate.

We're not sure if his being able to kind of hear us (even through closed windows and AC and TV, two floors up--we are loud, I guess) had anything to do with the failure, but after about two hours we heard him going nuts. Barking, wailing, howling. Scared, sad noises. Joey went up and waited for him to calm down a bit and then let him out, as we don't have any other options really. Attached houses with infant twins next door do not make for good dog training locations.

So, we will have to try this again after we move back, and do it the right way. I'm also going to grab those D.A.P. diffusers again, because I swear they helped with his separation anxiety the first time around.

This weekend's the last push of prepping for my ABC final. Next time I blog here, I hope to be a graduate and certified dog trainer!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post: How to Fly the Fur-Friendly Skies

We're in the midst of vacation season, so there's no time like the present for sharing some tips for traveling with your pup--by air!

Today's guest post is by Amy Nicole, writer, runner, and enthusiastic mom to adorable 5-year-old rescue dog Lola (who shares some of Desmond's behavioral quirks).

How cute is Lola?

How to Fly the Fur-Friendly Skies

So you’ve decided on a fabulous vacation destination and you want to bring your furry companion along for the trip as well. Rather than brave the open road for long hours or days on end, you decided to fly to your final destination. If this is the first time you’ve flown with your pet before, you might be asking yourself: “Will I be able to bring my pet on the plane? Do I need to book another seat for my pet? Will they want to store my pet in cargo?”

Luckily, flying with pets is so common these days that many airlines have started to accommodate to your pet’s needs and make it safe for them. Booking air travel for your pet this summer? Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a flight with your pet.

Bobcat flying Sawtooths
(image via Sam Beebe's flickr)
Make Sure Your Pet is Healthy
Bring them to the vet and get a checkup for your pet. Make sure there’s nothing wrong and ask your vet if it’s safe for you to fly with your pet. You’ll want to grab any documents and paperwork from the vet that the airlines require so you don’t have any hassle when you’re checking in. Many airlines will want to see vaccine records to ensure your pet is up to date on shots.

Think About Other Passengers
If you know your pet hates being in their traveling crate and will be a distraction for you and the rest of the people on the flight, consider asking your vet for something to ease their anxiety. There are sedatives that your vet can prescribe to give your pet while you’re traveling, but make sure you follow their instructions before you give them any medication. Something that might be safe for humans can be dangerous for pets, so follow your vet’s orders when it comes to sedating your pets.

Nora Arden
(image via Andrea Arden's flickr)
A Happy Pet is a Fed Pet
Before the flight, feed your pet their food and water. This will help them be content and not whine for food while they are 30,000 feet above the ground. Keep in mind that you don’t want to feed them too much food because they might relieve themselves in their crate. If you forget to feed them, you can give them some treats during the flight to quell their appetite. Natural Balance has some great treats that are available in 3 ounce bags perfect for travel. Also, this helps move you along through the security check process as the TSA is extremely strict about passing liquids and foods through check points.

Give the Airlines a Heads Up
Let them know you’re bringing a pet on board, if your pet is sitting in the cabin. This will help the crew prepare themselves so they know how to handle any situation you and your pet have. It’s also good to point out that having your pet in the cabin next to you can cost you the same amount as your plane ticket. You should also know the size limit that’s associated with bringing a pet on board and make sure you adhere to it. The last thing you want to do is show up at the ticket counter and realize you have run into complications and can’t bring your pet on board, or need to change your travel accommodations at the last minute because of your pet, which can be an expensive hassle.

Travelling with your pet
(image via MayanExplore's flickr)
Traveling can be stressful, especially when with a pet. However, these tips should help both of you to have a stress-free flight to your long-dreamed-of vacation destination. Knowing the procedures before you board will also help you avoid costly last-minute changes to your vacation plans, like having to book another ticket at the last minute or change flights because the airline didn’t have room for your pet. By preparing in advance, you and your furry flying companion can make traveling a more enjoyable experience.

How about you guys? Have you ever flown with your dog? Desmond would be a horror. I don't think I'd ever do it. Cars, sure. Trains? Doubtful. Planes?? LOL! And you may have heard Kari's story at Dog is God in Reverse about their move back to Alaska with 4 dogs (if not, please go read it; it still makes me want to hug her and give her a bottle of wine). But lots of folks have no issues at all. I'd love to hear if you're one of them. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Like Mother, Like Furkid: Are Tacos the Answer to Life's Problems?

Behold, the mystical, magical frozen mini taco:
(image from the blog From Val's Kitchen)
Why is it mystical and magical, you ask? Oh, no reason, really. Just that it made my neurotic dog completely ignore fireworks.

Completely. Ignore. Fireworks.

The same dog who has been fleeing the bed and couch for the safety of the bathroom (upon even a hint of a teenager with a popper and/or during every thunderstorm) stood in the living room not far from all the front windows that were so kindly not muffling any of the 4th of July noises.

Remember this gem from our Instagram feed?
And he did not flinch. Because he was staring at our plates of mini tacos. Drool may or may not have dropped on my foot. I can't really say, because I was too busy staring in awe at my completely composed dog--and rewarding him with the magical mini tacos he so desired. I didn't even care what was in those things.

Now, I completely understand the mesmerizing effects of tacos. I am a very very big fan of tacos of all kinds (and right now I'm getting kind of mad that I no longer have tacos to eat), so I can kind of see how one might get lost in the gloriousness that they present to the world. But I surely did not think they could possess my dog. Think along the lines of Stains possessed.

Just like that but with more beef and cheese and crunchy goodness. Damn, I want tacos right now.

But I would be not a very cool chick if I didn't tell you the whole truth. Desmond may have been under the influence of more than just tacos. The 2mg of Xanax, plus 200mg of Trazodone, plus 30mg of Prozac probably can take some of the credit here.

I don't think I mentioned it, but Des was switched from 4mg daily of Xanax to 200mg daily of Trazodone (and that has been working for us better actually). We had leftover Xanax that the vet told us to hang on to for days we knew would be extra stressful; he said to give it to Des on top of his regular meds on those days. So, yesterday around 2:30pm, we tossed him one bar of Xanax (which is half the amount he was getting when he took it daily).

I thought this extra medication might make him super sleepy, but it really didn't at all. Found that odd. Apparently, though, it made him calm, cool, and collected. Well, that plus the presence of tacos. Let us not forget the tacos.

Overall, I don't really know what to make of this--and, frankly, I'm a little annoyed that I voted to stay in with my dog on my favorite holiday to make sure he was as comfortable as possible, and then he was all normal and crap. I mean, how rude are you, dog??

But what if tacos are the answer to all of my problems in life (which are 95% Desmond-based problems)? What if I can virtually eliminate Desmond's reactivity with Costco-sized boxes of frozen mini tacos? What if I can go to the damn movies and not return to destruction, all because I shoved a bunch of taco meat and cheese into a KONG? What if tacos are actually paving the path to finding world peace? I don't think it's that crazy of a possibility. Tacos are freakin delicious, y'all.

I may have to hit the supermarkets and drive-throughs to start testing out this theory with different brands and flavors. And if it's a fluke, at least I'll have a ton of tacos--all for myself.

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