I’m so sick of being reminded not to let my dogs eat chocolate on Halloween!
Don’t we all know this by now?
Haven’t we all been told so many times that chocolate is dangerous for dogs that we just roll our eyes and our dogs mutter, “Sure, right, understood, got it, heard you the first 12 times you said this. Relax. We’d rather eat steak anyway.”
But while we’re on “cocoa is toxic to dogs” at the top of everyone’s Halloween Worry List, let me just say 2 things about “chocolate.”
1) People eat chocolate and chocolate-containing foods all year long, so I don’t think there’s any point focusing on chocolate only at Halloween, on one day out of 365. [To my mind, it’s sort of like expressing love on Mother’s Day – shouldn’t you be showing affection and appreciation to your mother every day of the year?] Shouldn’t you always be parking your 78% dark chocolate bar in the fridge or your underwear drawer, out of canine reach?
2) A vast number of so-called chocolate sweets, cakes and cookies are actually “chocolate-flavored” and contain barely a trace of the actual cocoa, which is what isn’t good for dogs. So if you’re not sharing with your dogs it’s just plain selfish (although clearly it’s better animal care to be offering a nice dog-appropriate piece of carrot or a freeze-dried Liv-a-Little cube of salmon).
Instead here are some fresh safety tips for dogs and cats during the days and nights around Halloween festivities that you might not have previously considered:
- Pets will do best when excluded from all the comings-and-goings. The unusual sights and sounds can be dsiturbing to them.
- Put your dog in a room behind closed doors when Halloween parties are underway or you’re expecting trick-or-treaters. Dogs can be startled, frightened or reactive to people in costumes and might react defensively or offensively to their presence.
- Put your cat in a closed off room with a cat tree to escape up to and/or a safe hiding place.
- With the door opening and closing, there’s the chance of a pet being disoriented or fearful and running out while you’re distracted with the celebrations. To remove the risk of him getting lost, always – not just on Hallo0ween! – make sure your pet is properly identified with microchip, collar and ID tag.
- Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from your pets. Although the liquid in these products may not actually be toxic, it tastes horrible and can sicken your dog or cat.
- If you plan to put a costume on your dog, buy it beforehand and get her used to it before Halloween. Make sure it fits comfortably and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing, or movement.
- Don’t leave your dog unsupervised while wearing a costume, which often have pieces that can be chewed off.
- Keep lit candles and jack-o-lanterns out of reach of pets, especially cats who might find them an interesting interactive exhibit. This is both for the safety of the pets and of your family, as a tipped over candle can cause a tragedy.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.
Grandparents are the first best friends a child has. Their stories and wisdom are passed on to the next generation with their love and kindness. A grandpa is the best caretaker and the time spent with him contains the most loving and impressionable memories. Wish your grandpa on their birthday and tell them how much […]
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Starting up a pet-sitting business isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but there
are several things to take into consideration. Time, commitment, and professionalism are at the top of the list. Essentially, you will be a small business owner, regardless if you hire employees or go it alone. Keeping that in mind, where does one begin in regards to starting up a business? Here are five things to consider before taking the leap.
Filing the Paperwork
Business License and/or “Doing Business As” (DBA)
Filing for a business license can be a daunting task for many, but it’s not as scary as it seems. Check with your state whether you need a business license to legally operate a pet-sitting business. They will let you know what paperwork to file to get your business off the ground.
Do you want to use your own name, or a business name? (ie. Pam’s Pet-sitting vs. Walk in the Park) If you choose to name your business, you’ll need to register that name with the appropriate authorities. This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) paperwork. Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located.
Insurance vs. no insurance
What if, while in your care, Fido bites another dog or a child? Or you accidentally break a client’s favorite antique? As a business owner, you’re liable. Accidents happen, so it’s a good idea to protect yourself. Pet-sitting insurance covers general liability, personal property, and employee accidents or dishonesty. There are several insurance companies that offer pet-sitting insurance. The cost will vary, but it’s worth it.
Keeping track of business finances
Personal checking account vs. business account
Using a personal account for your business finances affects your legal liability. If you’re a sole proprietor and combine business and personal expenses, it can be difficult for the IRS to determine if you’re a viable business. If you choose to operate from your personal account, make sure to keep track of your business and personal expenses. If your business is an LLC, partnership, or corporation, it’s crucial to have separate accounts. Failure to separate business and personal expenses can result in the owner being sued for business and corporate liabilities. Check with your bank to see what they offer in terms of small business accounts.
Privacy and professionalism
Business phone vs. personal phone
Business contacts who have access to your personal phone number can create privacy concerns. Having a separate business line gives you the ability to answer the phone and return calls in a professional manner. You can also set up business hours (although if you’re taking care of someone’s pet, I recommend being available to them at all times). If you decide to use your private number, be prepared. Clients will treat the number as a business number, and may be calling at all hours. Make sure your voice message states when you’ll be returning their calls.
Advertising & Branding
Logo, website/domain name, business cards, and flyers
Having a local and online presence is important. If you aren’t tech savvy, find someone who is that can help you. It’s also a good idea to check out your local pet-sitters to see how their websites are designed, and what they offer their clients.
Logos: Design a logo to represent your business. Your logo will brand your website, business cards, online advertising and flyers. Make sure your images aren’t copyrighted or you could be sued. You can use clip art or search for Creative Commons images online. From there, find a photo editing/designing program (PicMonkey, Fotor) and create something memorable. The possibilities are endless, have fun with it!
Website/Domain name: Depending on your business needs, a website/domain name can be free (Weebly, WordPress, Blogger) or paid (Wix, iPage, GoDaddy). Pay careful attention to introductory web hosting prices, as they will most likely increase after the first month. Again, if designing a website isn’t your thing, find someone who can help you.
Business cards and flyers: Leaving business cards and flyers with your local veterinarians, pet shops, animal-related events, shelters, and dog parks is a great way to spread the word about your business. Don’t forget to advertise in your local online directories.
With some thought and planning, starting up your own pet-sitting business is a wonderful venture. Getting involved with a pet-sitting organization to learn from others and network is a step in the right direction. Good luck!
For more in-depth information and helpful advice about starting a small business:
SBA US Small Business Administration
Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, Poppy, The Island, Voices, Struck, and Between. When she’s not writing and listening to the ghosts in her head, she runs her own pet-sitting business and volunteers at the SPCA. Author website: www.clarissajohal.com
Be it your parent’s best friend or their brothers, uncles are the coolest adults in the world. Greet them on their special day with some amazing quotes. Happy birthday uncle! The one person who never forgets to bring me gifts everytime he visits. I’ve enjoyed your funny and exciting stories a lot. And your […]
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A mere thank you for all the work that you do to improve the lives of the animals in your care seems inadequate. So many lives would have been lost without your unwavering commitment to prevent that from happening. All of your blogs have been so incredibly educational & beneficial, not only to the general public but to those of us in the rescue community as well. However, your blog about Olive deeply touched my heart. Sadly I've met a few Olives who will never have the opportunity to truly live. Exist, yes. But still shackled to their emotional pain, with no serious course of action to help free them from that anguish. Olive's 'recovery' is a testimony that the mental well-being of all animals should be a much higher priority in rescue. Please continue reminding all of us do-gooders that we have much more to learn about animal rights & welfare. PTSD isn't just a human diagnosis…
BAD RAP Blog
It was one of those days in June when the days seem strangely endless. The land was verdant and growing. All the trees were crowned with dark, healthy green leaves, and the grass in the hayfields called for its first cutting.
But that would not happen today. About noon, the skies darkened and a hard summer rain fell. It rained for most of that afternoon.
It was a Saturday, and I wanted to be outside. These balmy late June days very quickly morph into the swelter of July, when you feel as if you’ve stepped into some stinking hot jungle in Southeast Asia and forget that this land has ever seen a subzero reading or has ever been covered in a dry, crisp arctic snow. Those are the days when the air makes the clothes stick to your body as the sweat trails down your back.
Most June days aren’t like that. They are one of times when it actually does feel like you live in actual temperate zone. The rest of the year, it is either looming towards Siberia or steaming into Vietnam.
in this way, my time as a dweller in the temperate forest was limited, and it was being limited now in the downpour.
The rain would stop soon. I knew it would. I’d seen the weather map. The rain would stop.
The length of a wet weekend is something that should be measured in eons, but a wet weekend in late June should be measured in eternities.
So when the rain finally did cease, I was more than eager to go out.
There is no other way to describe the air after a good summer rain other than to describe it as “rainwashed.” It’s like the whole land has had a good scalding bath. There is a crispness to it that makes everything seem as if it’s been renewed.
The torrents of raindrops trickled down from the great tulip trees and oaks, and the sound of rain still filled the air, though the rain clouds had long since departed. To walk in a forest after the rain is to listen to downpour’s ghost as canopy sheds the water.
I didn’t think to grab the camera or call the dog. I just needed to go out and be in the forest as it slowly drips dry.
I walked along the old gravel road out to the hayfield. Water gushed along the ditches and into culvert pipes, and the hayfield’s access road was a swampy, muddy mess. I was wearing crocs, which allowed the clay mud to enter through their holes and soil my feet. The summer mud feels nice against the toes, as if it calls me to a time when my kind walked barefoot over the mud, grounded in the soil with every step.
A cottontail rabbit spooked and charged long into the tail grass. I assumed it was a doe with a litter in tall grass below the road, and she was working her way down there to nurse them. My approach spoiled her plans, and I knew she would just hide out in the grass until I was long gone. Then she’d approach her nest and gently uncover the crumpled covering grass blades and stems to reveal the nest. The little rabbits would resting in a bowl of grass lined with their mother’s fur, and she would stand over the bowl while they nursed. Then, she would cover the nest again and go her merry way to graze in the dusk.
If I’d been a little more curious, I would have hunted around the tall grass in search of that nest, but I wasn’t in an exploring mood. I wanted to get to the woods. Maybe I’d hear the barred owls calling on the opposite ridges or perhaps come across a box turtle out on a worm-hunting expedition after the rain.
Hunting for a rabbit nest in the wet, tall grass just wasn’t what I wanted to do.
So I walked on.
As I entered the woods, the rain kept dripping down the trees. It was almost a hypnotic sound. The evening sun was casting its light through the leaves, illuminating the them as if they were covered in Christmas lights.
It was perfection for a June evening.
I followed the logging road up a steep bank and then followed it along a sharp curve.
And there before me stood the beast.
A massive black bear stood no more than 15 feet from me.
To say I was shocked would have been an understatement. I’d see bears at zoos from the side of the road, and over the years, I’ve come across bear scat on the forest floor and black hairs in the undergrowth. I’ve even caught bears on trail camera, but never before had I walked into one.
The bear was a shocked with my presence as I was of his. His eyes stared hard at me. The tan markings on his muzzle and above his eyes reminded me of the tan points on a doberman or Rottweiler. But he was like a Rottweiler built along the lines of a gorilla, shaggy fur covering bulging muscles.
His eyes were intelligent but clearly showed his terror. The raindrops dripping from the trees had muffled my footsteps, and by accident, I had approached the bear from upwind. He couldn’t have smelled me.
He was in a bad spot. Black bears have been hunted in West Virginia for as long as people have lived in West Virginia. The indigenous people at their meat and used their fat and wore their fur, and the early mountain men turned to bears as a reliable source for red meat.
He had no reason to see my kind as anything but bad news, and as soon as he realized I was a human, he launched himself through the pines. His form was nothing more than a black shadow that seemed float away at high speed. His feet tore through though leaves and twigs in a loud cacophony as the shadow form disappeared from view.
It was only a brief few seconds, but it had a certain magic to it. The Eastern states have been denuded of all our great predators. The wolves and cougars were killed off in these Allegheny foothills long ago, but the bears remained. West Virginia’s DNR protected the bears. There were only a couple of hundred of them in the state when I was born. Now, there may be as many as 10,000.
The black bear is a survivor, a living relic of what was once wild country filled with great predators. No more dire wolves or Smilodons. No more American lions.
All that remains is this shadow of a beast, which shuffles through the undergrowth on cautious feet.
“If you go out in the woods today. You’re sure of a big surprise,” goes the children’s rhyme about the Teddy bear picnic.
On that June evening, a bear surprised me, and I surprised him. The shadow beast was revealed to me in the clear evening sun just before the solstice.
And just as soon as we met, he slipped off into the world of thickets and shadows and deadfalls. He was hidden again to live the mysterious life of a bear.
In their mystery lies their magic, their allure, their mystique.
And thus it always should be.
It was a bad Saturday night. My candidate was soundly defeated in the Nevada Caucuses, and I was smarting badly from loss.
Even as the night was drawing in, I knew the only way I was ever going to start feeling better was to go out into the woods for a twilight perambulation.
The Saturday before was a subzero night. Snow was on the ground and each step was hard and sharp and crunchy. This night was much warmer. It was well above freezing, and the sky was without any clouds. The stars were shining. The moon was almost full.
The squabbles out in Nevada now seemed pointless by comparison, and as I walked into the darkness of a stark February wood, I began to revel in the majesty and forget machinations of humanity. This is what I wanted anyway. Peace and quiet and a realization that this is all insignificant by comparison.
My reverie was then interrupted. In the hollow below the the logging road where I was walking came the churs and snorts of warring demons. There were screeches and squalls mixed into all the din. There was a great battle gong on below me, and I knew instantly what was happening.
February brings the raccoon mating season, and two of the local boars were sorting it out over a female in estrus. I guessed the one of them was the resident ridge-running raccoon who found him a sow to follow on this moonlit night, but the warmer weather and the intoxicating odors had brought up a challenger from the creek bed.
For five minutes, I listened to the boars fight. I debated as to whether I should wander down and see if I could get a better look. But I was certain they would run if they heard my approach down into the hollow.
So I stayed put and listened to the war.
And as soon as the cacophony rose, the air fell silent again. The boars were not fighting now. Perhaps one had beaten the other, and now he had the sow to himself. Or maybe they were off licking wounds and getting ready for another donnybrook.
I didn’t stay long to find out. My mind was tuned to something else besides politics, of the narcissism that is inherent in being human..
Raccoons have fought these wars long before there was a United States, long before there were Democratic Caucuses and primaries. Their wars were about passing on genes. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As I watch now, in this general election from Hell, I think back to that night in February. I think of the moonlight and the stars and the primitive war of ‘coons in a deep hollow.
The sun will rise tomorrow. The seasons will change. My life will one day end.
All around us are these parallel dramas, ones we don’t often take a time to consider.
We all live in alienation from this world to some degree.
But it’s important to break away from our world and see it in proper perspective.
In proper perspective, we can be fully humbled before the mystery.
This is disgusting! It's another great big tax scam just like in Peterborough with the new ridiculous cat law! This where all cats are NOT allowed to leave their yards, must be fixed and on leashes if outside! These laws are absolutely pathetic! This is a totally wrong way to deal with the problem. Who can afford fees they are charging to keep your dog. Who's right is it to say if you can breed your dog. I would say the owner. Another pile of liberalistic idiocy where a band aid is put on instead of dealing with the source which would just happen to be the OWNER!
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