Tuesday, 24 December 2013

GSD Riley - the fastest gun in the West

We’ve all seen Westerns where the cowboy with the reputation for being quickest on the draw from time to time has ‘young guns’ come looking to challenge him to a fight to prove they’re faster. Our hero -  usually with some reluctance - is drawn into a gunfight and that’s the end of the young pretender.
At this point I’d be surprised if you are not asking yourself ‘What’s this got to do with Pet Sitting?”  Well let me introduce you to the magnificent Riley.  Riley is a handsome, particularly large, long haired German Shepherd Dog.
Riley at home

Being so large he is an imposing figure, but a particularly lovely aspect of Riley is his easy going and placid nature. He loves his two walks a day and once back home settles happily with his feline pals, Lynx and Willow.
When I was looking after him and taking him for our walks at North Harbour Reserve, being so eye catching he got lots of admiring comments from people. But with dogs, out of the blue some want to put up a challenge to him.
I saw this happen. Walking up some steps waiting at the top was a dog who I saw curl his lip and in the same instant (and completely unprovoked) he went for Riley.
Riley stood his ground and, being quite a lot bigger than his attacker, could probably have inflicted a lot of damage had he wished. Instead Riley's behaviour was the closest to assertive I’ve seen in a dog. He did just enough to deter the other dog – including using his strong and large right paw to swipe the aggressor a couple of times. This was pretty much enough for the impudent attacker to realise he was no match for Riley and he could not win this bout, so he backed off. Riley regained his composure and off we went.

This altercation was pretty typical of dog fights – a lot of bluster but more bark than bite. But the best thing from my perspective was the way Riley – our confident and experienced Cowboy if you like – handled himself. He resisted the urge to put an end to his attacker, but taught him a valuable lesson, don’t pick on large German Shepherd Dogs that just want to mind their own business!

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Three Amigos

The Three Amigos!

Surely one of the greatest pleasures in life is taking your dog for a walk. What can top that experience?
My professional role is giving 24/7 live-in Pet Sitting care on a 1:1 basis for my clients’ beloved pets. After some sits have ended, knowing how much fun their dogs have had with me, I continue to take a select few out on my limited Adventure walks slots.
The beauty is I know my canine charges so well I also know which dogs will get on and I can take out two, maybe three together.
Lotti came with me to Terrigal Beach
The three Amigos are a particularly wonderful mix. There’s Lovely Lotti the Chocolate Lab, barely a year old and like a glass of champagne she’s so bubbly. 

Then there’s the stunningly handsome Golden Retriever, Bailey. Only a puppy, (he too is not even a year old) but already very well behaved and an absolute water baby.
Bailey can't get enough of the water - anyplace, anytime!
And who comes too? Mary Poppins - well, real name Elly (my daughter's Boxer) but then she is practically perfect….  At nearly 8 Elly is quite the mature lady, but being with her young pals brings out the youngster in her.

To see the three of them frolicking and swimming and having such a great time is a joy.  

So to the question can anything top the experience of taking a dog for a walk – well just maybe it’s taking three!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Life’s for living - and a Lab’s for swimming!

Off for our Wednesday Adventure Walk with Amber & Sunny and today plus the adorable Lotti. 

Lotti is a one year old chocolate Lab I’ve been caring for (and training too). She’s a bundle of fun with so much energy she all but fizzes! She’s also what I call a social swimmer – she doesn’t need a ball or stick to entice her in - as she leaps into water and swims just for the hell of it.

At North Harbour Reserve as soon as we’re away from the road the leads are removed. Living up to expectations Lotti ran full pelt straight to the rock wall, clambered down into the sea, and began swimming. What occurred next was hilarious. Little Sunny the Cavadoodle stood on the rocks watching Lotti as if to say 'what's going on - don't leave me!’ Seconds later he jumped in and was swimming furiously behind Lotti.  At this point Amber, now seeing both the others in the water, could bear it no longer -  so in she went too! It was doggie Pied Piper with the Sunny and Amber swimming as fast as they could trying to keep up with Lotti. I stood on the side laughing out loud – a priceless moment.


Adventure walks are an hour (this was well over an hour) & leash free  so my dogs can really let off steam. They run &  play together (& with other dogs) and of course swim. At one point a guy passed us by walking slowly with 3 dogs on leads. And I just couldn’t help thinking how lucky Amber, Sunny & Lotti were, clearly having so much fun rather than being kept on leads and only allowed to walk on the grass….

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Red eye in the morning – Vet’s a Calling!

As a Pet Sitter it’s always a bit of a dilemma deciding when a pet in your care needs to go to the vet. You don’t want to run up bills for owners – but I judge it on ‘if this were my pet, would I take them to the Vet?’

I had to make such a decision this week. Let me introduce you to Lotti - a totally adorable to the max one year old Chocolate Lab.

Her owners had left for Bali two hours before I got there - and as I looked at Lotti the first thing I noticed was her winking left eye! I managed to get the owners by text just before their flight. They said she has a history of unresolved eye problems and bathe with saline.

Seeing her eye was weeping I was concerned. Eye problems can go from mild to serious in very short time so I texted back to ask permission to take her to the vet. They said of course if I thought it warranted a visit.

Mark the Vet quickly diagnosed TWO corneal ulcers on Lotti’s left eye. Mark said they would have got much worse without treatment. I came away with drops to administer and the guide that if her eye was not fully normal in three days to bring her back. Thankfully after 5 doses I could see her eye was already improving so looks as if she won’t have to go back.

Sometimes you can afford to leave things a while and see if they settle. Example – Elly, my daughter’s dog, has come up in massive bumps from a bite or sting of an insect more than once. I suggest giving Elly an antihistamine - but invariably my daughter rushes Elly to the vet anyway – and by the time she gets there the bumps are always on the way down!

However, never hesitate in going to the Vet with eye problems or even the slightest sign of gagging/weakness - which can indicate a paralysis tick attack.

Elly has had so many illnesses and visits to SASH that she’s nicknamed ‘Mazda3’ (what she’s cost in medical Bills). But when you're passionate about your pets there’s almost no limit to what you’ll do to care for them - as any pet loving owner will testify!

Indi & Lilo - The Odd Couple

Working on the Northern Beaches as the Perfect Pet Sitter I care for a great variety of dogs of all sizes, shapes and breeds. But last week I spent 10 days living-in caring for a pair of dogs I nicknamed ‘The Odd Couple’!
There was Lilo - a tiny 7 year old Jack Russell who lived with the latest addition to the family, Indi. A German Shorthaired Pointer only 10 months old, Indi was already huge, but a total glamour girl – stunning and elegant. To look at her reminded me of my own pair of eye catching GSPs, Flash and Harry, who I’d loved so much years before back in the UK.

Like a family where a new baby gets all the attention, Indi being so beautiful means little Lilo sometimes gets forgotten down there so close to ground! But like many tiny dogs, Lilo might be small in body, but she’s got a big heart.  When Indi’s pestering to play got too much for her, little Lilo would bare her teeth, snarl and grow - looking really quite fierce. But Lilo was just doing her best to avoid getting squished by Indi’s exuberance - and great big feet!

Pups push the limits, so during my stay it was fun to teach Indi a few basics:- to sit and wait instead of rushing her food bowl; to stop getting on the sofa; and to leave little Lilo in peace – well, for at at least part of the time!

Despite Indi’s confidence in the home, outside it was a different story. On our daily Adventure Walks she was quite nervous with other dogs. To help her I brought along a couple of calm doggie pals. With these dogs I know and trust, Indi and Lilo made up a mini pack. I’d take them all swimming and hiking and day-by-day as she interacted with them it was great to see Indi coming out of her shell.

A few days after my sit with Indi and Lilo had ended, I bumped into them with their owner at our local dog park. The first thing she said was she’d noticed Indi was far more confident with other dogs now – and how much her swimming had improved!

Meeting characters like Indi and Lilo is what makes this the most enjoyable job – if you can even call it that – of my life. To live with dogs is to love them, and the only down side is I’m always sad to leave. But then I’ll be off to meet some new fur friends and more examples of just why a dog is a man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

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