Monday, October 28, 2013

Keeping Your Pets Safe on Halloween - Part 2

In my last blog post, I offered some pet safety tips with regard to human Halloween treats and holiday decorations.  Let's consider some other scary thoughts.

Haunted Houses
Halloween night is full of all kinds of sights and sounds, everything from doorbells ringing with trick-or-treaters shouting out to lights flashing.   Follow your pet intuition closely.  If your pet is timid or easily frightened by loud or repetitive noise and shies away from unfamiliar people, it is best to secure your cat or dog in another part of your home.  Likewise, if your pet has a history of trying to escape from your home, do not leave them unattended as they make dart outside when you go to answer the doorbell.  Under these circumstances, place your furry friend in a closed-off bedroom with music playing or the television on at a volume that drowns out the festivities going on elsewhere in your home.  

Pet Costumes
If your pet is a social butterfly and likes to dress up in costume, go for it.  If you’re unsure (especially if you have a new puppy or kitten), it’s highly recommended that you test the costume out before Halloween night.  Any costume should fit with ease and your pet’s movement should not be constricted or hindered.  He/she should be able to breathe freely, and have no obstructions in front of their eyes or by their ears that could impede their vision or hearing.  Excess cloth or material should not dangle from the outfit as your pet may get twisted or caught up in it, which poses a safety threat.

Upon trying on the costume, if your pet looks uncomfortable and/or tries to wiggle out of it, consider something simpler instead, like a colorful hat with a bandana for some flair.

Whether your Superhero will present himself as the Dog of Steel or your cat poses as Kitty Perry with a promise to Roar out loud, have fun creating their Halloween persona. To maximize both their and your own enjoyment, put some thought into what your pet’s Halloween experience will be prior to October 31.  It should prove to keep them safe so you can enjoy their company for many days to come.

Have a safe and happy Halloween with your pets!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Keeping Your Pets Safe on Halloween - Part 1

On the surface, Halloween is a holiday centered on our kids.  However more and more, it is an evening the entire family (including our pets) participates in and enjoys.

Whether you plan to host/attend a Halloween party or venture out trick-or-treating, the following are some tips to consider to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being.  With thoughtful planning, you and your family can prepare your pet for this most ghoulish night so that all of you have a safe and memorable time.

Sweets, Treats & More
Candy is for people, not for cats and dogs.   Always keep bowls of sweets away from your animals.  This includes foods containing chocolate, especially dark chocolate and chocolate used for baking.  Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum, is also harmful to dogs.  Some popular Halloween plants and vegetables, primarily pumpkins and corn, can present problems if eaten by pets.  While they are not toxic, they can cause tummy upset.

Scary Decorations
Many of us take our pumpkin carving very seriously, creating awesome jack-o-lanterns.  Keep all carved pumpkins with candles burning inside away from your pet’s reach.  This will help avoid accidents that can start as overturned pumpkins and end up as a larger fire.  

Also give thought to the location of any decorations containing wires and electrical cords.  It’s easy for a pet to pull on or trip over an electrical cord and accidentally knock something over.  If your pet has a habit of chewing wires and cords, be especially careful where you plug things into the wall as a pet may accidentally receive a burn or electric shock if they chew into something with a live current.  Glass or plastic decorations also pose a potential hazard as they sometimes contain sharp edges and may break should they fall.  

Check back in a couple of days for more on this topic.  I'll address Haunted Houses and Pet Costumes.

Monday, September 30, 2013


As a student of human nature and someone who enjoys people-watching, I am fascinated by the way pets bring people together.  Whether you’ve moved to a new city and are looking to make some new friends or you simply wish to expand your social network, one of the best ways to connect with others is to step out with your pet.  Of course, this is ideal if you’re a dog owner.  Whether it’s a visit to your local dog park or taking your pooch for a walk, you are sure to meet other dog owners and inevitably strike up conversations.  Initially these conversations center on our pets.

It is this exact scenario through which I met Pat.  I can’t recall the first time Pat and I actually spoke and introduced ourselves.  But we first encountered each other one morning when Pat was walking her Maltese, Sam and I was walking my two Shih Tzus, Lucy and Ethel.  It was an instant doggie love-fest.   To describe Sam as adorable is an understatement.  How could I not reach down to pat his head, scratch his bum and rub his tummy as he rolled over on his back exposing himself?  Last year, Pat and her husband Larry expanded their family by bringing home a second Maltese named Sadie.  Sam and Sadie make a perfect duo. 

And so, on most mornings, Pat and I would meet on our respective dog walks and we would talk.  I do not recall the substance of every conversation; however, I do remember a compliment that Pat once paid me.  She looked me straight in the eye and said that Sam and Sadie clearly adored me and that was because I must be a good person.  She believed (as I do) that dogs possess a heightened ability (far superior to humans) to sense authenticity and kindness in people. 

Over the months, our conversations continued.  On occasion, I had the opportunity to visit Pat and Larry at their home, and even walk Sam and Sadie.  And through this all, my admiration and friendship for Pat and Larry grew.  What most attracted me to Pat was her larger than life personality.  She was a powerhouse!  The kind of person you could never forget once you met her.   Physically she was slight in stature with red hair, so visually she should stood out amongst others.  But it was her personal demeanor that captured one’s attention.  Her warmth and genuine kindness coupled with her high-pitched voice, sharp wit and one-of-a-kind laugh were magnets that would draw people to her.  When she would see me, her face would light up.  And my own heart would skip a beat with joy in anticipation of our conversation to come.  While we always talked about our four-legged children, our conversations also broached other topics.

Last week, Pat passed away after a brief illness.  I’ve wanted to post a tribute to Pat in my blog since then.  However, every time I tried, the words would not come as I choked up with emotion and sadness enveloped me.  Until now.  The most fitting tribute I can offer to Pat’s life is that going forward, every time I walk my own dogs or my clients’ dogs or for that matter, place my hand on a kitty client or some other adorable pet and gently stroke its head, I will think of Pat and the indelible mark she left on me.  She and I were like-minded.  We met through our pets, we grew to admire each other and developed a “simpatico” of implicit understanding.  It truly is amazing how pets bring people together and forever change our lives.  The word “simpatico” best describes my friendship with Pat.  Moreover, her name is embedded in the word.

May her memory be a blessing!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Does Your Kitty Need a Personal Robot?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in our age of advanced technology, a penchant for electronic gadgets and time saving devices, pet owners increasingly consider technology purchases to help manage their pet’s care.  These items include automated pet food dispensers and electric water fountains with continuous water flow for cooling and oxygenation.  I’ve also seen pet owners employ robot vacuums to make regular carpet sweeps of their homes to collect pet hair and dander.  Depending upon the pet, these robot vacuums may be greeted with curiosity, indifference or outright defiance and revolt.  However, today’s blog post centers on a different sort of robot.  This one is called the Litter Robot.  When I first saw it sitting on the floor in a client’s home recently, I did not know what it was.  My first thought was, “What is R2-D2 doing in this bathroom?” After our initial introduction (no, the Litter Robot does not talk!), I was fascinated.

My client explained how it works.  Despite its odd appearance, it is quite functional and does a thorough job.  The whole idea behind the Litter Robot is it fully automates the cleaning and maintenance of a cat’s litter box.  The cat steps into the robotic chamber, which the manufacturer refers to as the globe.  The globe is filled to a specific height with store-bought litter (no special litter product is required to operate the robot).  The cat does his/her business and then steps out.  The robot waits 7 minutes and then begins a cycle.  The inner globe rotates, turning a complete 360 degrees.  During the rotation, the robot sifts through the litter and separates the waste, which falls into a collection drawer at the base.  Owners can use standard plastic garbage bags to line the drawer.  Depending upon the number of kitties using the chamber, their size and frequency of use, the pet owner should typically empty the drawer once or twice each week (based upon a household with two average sized cats).  The bottom line is the Litter Robot eliminates the need to scoop through a cat’s litter box daily and serves to control the usual litter box odors. 

Please understand that I’m not endorsing the Litter Robot as a must-have for all cat owners.  Like so many pet care products, the Litter Robot appeals to cat owners with certain lifestyles.  It is ideal for those who travel regularly for short periods and those who are not diligent in tidying up their more traditional litter box.

A few parting thoughts about the manufacturer of the Litter Robot: (1) The product is 100% Made in the U.S.A. (Pontiac, MI), which is a major selling point to many Americans these days, and (2) The company’s website provides a wealth of information about the device including instructional videos and tips for transitioning your cat from a traditional litter box to the Litter Robot.  Moreover, YouTube posts videos illustrating the equipment in use. 

Finally, in an attempt to leverage my own prior career skills in Corporate Training & Development, I would be pleased to meet with cats one-on-one or in a classroom setting to deliver a customized PowerPoint presentation called “Why Your Parents are Outsourcing Your Litter Box?”  Hmm?  Is that my phone already ringing?