Saturday, May 1, 2010

Challenges (and Rewards!)

For a couple of decades, I have mostly averted harm, with a few exceptions. There was the night that I was briskly walking Torie on Irvington's dimly lit residential streets. Next thing I knew, I was face down on the pavement, blood dripping from my nose. Torie was a Golden, and I loved her. There was so much sweetness about her, but empathy wasn't her strong suit. Though I was in pain and sobbing (with both knees bleeding as well), her reaction was "Why are you just sitting there? Come on! Get up! Let's walk!" The next day I wore sunglasses; I didn't want anyone to think I had been a victim of violence. Black and blue is not attractive. But not seeing a crack in the sidewalk could have happened whether or not I had been dog walking.

Then there was a new house-sit for a wonderful Lab and an elderly, terminally ill cat. Her family left for three weeks overseas, and asked me to medicate her daily. Kitty fought the meds like crazy, and in the process, I got both scratched and bit. Hospice care at home would have been a lot kinder: palliative care that would simply keep her comfortable.

Then, there was yesterday. Arrived at a consultation,and upon entering, saw two small dogs, tied up by their leashes, barking madly at me, the stranger. After they calmed down, I suggested that they be untied, and offered them treats. All seemed well, with petting being reciprocated with wet kisses. Their guardian talked a lot about their issues with strangers, and after an hour, we strolled in the yard; the dogs remained in the house. When we returned by the front door, I was startled when one dog lunged and bit me on my leg, through my jeans. My first dog bite! Immediately I dabbed some alcohol, then headed home to make some phone calls, one to a friend who heads a college nursing program. She calmed me. Fortunately, the puncture was minor, and it had been through my jeans. Obviously, I could not take this job. It simply wouldn't be worth the risk. Though now I know the danger symptoms after a bite: redness, swelling, heat, weeping pus, or pain. Any of those symptoms require immediate medical attention.

I love my work,and have been fortunate to attract some fabulous new clients, even in this recession. They recognize that I go above and beyond to deliver the best possible service. I am grateful for my wonderful clients, their beloved animals, and feel like one of the luckiest people in Portland. Every job has challenges, but thankfully the rewards way outweigh them. Yesterday was simply a learning experience. One of the biggest rewards of this business: it's never boring or routine! I've learned to expect the unexpected.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maybe some animals are born with an anxiety gene?

This weekend I did drop-in visits for a lovely couple. They also have two lovely kitties, they tell me, but I wonder if they're pulling my leg. At my visits, I only saw gregarious, playful, Cat Dancer-loving Gina. Amy, unfortunately, has a profound fear of strangers. She goes into hiding if anyone comes through the door who is NOT one of her "parents." Her favorite hiding place is behind the clothes dryer, where it's dark, there's little space, and it's difficult, if not next to impossible to see behind. A flashlight wasn't of much help since Amy was so obscured, so carefully hidden, that I wasn't sure whether I imagined seeing an ear! So there was Ms. Amy cowering, and she was NOT buying my gentle assurances that I LOVE kitties!

Then came the feeding challenge. Amy had a 45 minute window of opportunity to eat her food (actually,they both did) before it needed to be removed. Gina, who loves to eat, would eat Amy's food, too, if she could. That would be a problem since they required different foods.

Of course, Amy didn't know she only had 45 minutes to fill her belly. She seemed reluctant to even move a whisker, much less eat, while "the scary stranger" was in her house. I tried sitting as quietly as possible, while keeping one eye on Gina to make sure she wouldn't bolt behind the dryer and scarf up Amy's food. (Which meant I did wind up bolting after her several times when she thought I wasn't looking.)

Separating them into different rooms might have been ideal but my clients didn't want me to do that, and they had their reasons. So I walked away wondering if Amy had gotten anything to eat. If she hadn't, I suppose fasting for 35 hours wouldn't harm her. It left me thinking (not for the first time) that animals, like people, are probably born with genetic predispositions, which may or may not manifest depending on circumstances.

Of course, that does leave my clients with a dilemma, since Amy can't be left to "fast" more than a short weekend. Bye bye longer vacations. It's amazing the things that we will do for our pets, isn't it?

One day in the distant future, I may join the Peace Corps. (I've done quite a bit of solo traveling, and would like to live in a completely different culture.) Friends ask why I don't do it now. There's a one word answer: Porter. The furry, fluffy, complex cat I love. He's been bounced around, and like many adopted animals, his early history is unknown. So when I adopted him, I vowed to myself it would be for his lifetime. No "adoption disruption" for my boy! (A euphemism used in child welfare to describe the awful situation where an adopted child is "returned" and the adoption is severed.)

"Be here now." That's my now. Loving Porter,and loving the wonderful animals I care for. For now, that's as good as it gets.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Halo, a great alternative to Pet Promise

Many pet guardians (including myself, and some of my clients) are dismayed that Pet Promise is going out of business. That information was first leaked on Dr. Andrew Weil's website; he has been their spokesperson. In the Portland area, you can still find a few cans and bags at Freddie's, now reduced.

Fortunately, there are several great pet food companies and the one I learned about recently is Halo.

"At Halo pure love for pets drives everything we do. We create natural, holistic products to help your pet live a long, happy, healthy life. Over 20 years of real-life experiences helping animals, plus an unequalled commitment to natural care, inspire HALO's nutritional foods, essential supplements, herbal grooming aids and healthy treats." Some of their products include Spot's Stew, Live-A-Littles treats, Vitaglo essential supplements, and Cloud 9 grooming products. All natural ingredients, satisfaction guaranteed.

I have tested their products out and so have clients I have given samples to. Everyone I've talked to about it gives it a thumbs up, and I do, too. My kitty loves their wet food, dry kibble, and particularly their Liv a Littles chicken breast treats.

Porter (my feline buddy) and I are both very happy to have discovered Halo products!