We realize in the world of pet sitting that not all our pet sitters will stay with us for the long haul. It’s a rewarding job but doesn’t always satisfy a person’s higher calling.

Our pet sitter Kathryn Krause has a strong passion to serve people. That’s why she’s been pet sitting for us for several months. She also has a degree in horticulture landscape design and came to us to fill in the gap during fall and winter when landscaping jobs grow scarce.

“Pet sitting was one of the first jobs I ever had as a kid and have always loved it,” she wrote in her job application. And she has been a reliable sitter while working for several of our clients in the south Minneapolis area. However, she recently made a decision that involves risking her future carreer, financial security, personal comfort and safety.

According to Kathryn’s account in a recent letter, she will participate in a year-long missions trip called The World Race and will travel to and live in 11 different Central and South American countries. That will involve living with what she can carry on her back and traveling with 6-7 others to serve people.

Some of what she may be doing: building homes, leading church services, visiting orphanages, talking with sex-trafficking victims, teaching English and other community services. “I am most looking forward to living in a very authentic and real way and sharing my life and the love given to me with other people,” she says.

Until her assignment starts at the end of this year, she will continue to pet sit for us. I know her clients and their pets will miss her, but this appears to be Kathryn’s way of answering that inner voice telling her to do more.

We wish her luck and safe going. To learn more about Kathryn’s story and The World Race, visit her blog: kathrynkrause.theworldrace.org.

Dogs are wonderful companions, but they’re also not fussy when it comes to sampling things around the home. It pays to know about pet toxins to keep your home safe for your canine.Puppy and adult dogThe Pet Poison Helpline posts lists yearly of common dog poisons that result in emergency calls to them. This list shows the most emergency calls in 2013 for animal poisoning:

  • Chocolate: Bakers and dark are the most toxic, and milk chocolate, if ingested in large amounts.

 

  • Xylitol: This sweetener found in sugarless chewing gum and candy, medications and nasal sprays causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver failure only in dogs (not cats).

 

  • NSAIDS: ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., found in products like Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Dogs don’t metabolize these drugs well; ingestion causes stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

 

  • Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.

 

  • Rodenticides (mouse poison): These may cause internal bleeding or brain swelling even in small amounts.

 

  • Grapes and raisins:  These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.

 

  • Insect bait stations:  These rarely cause poisoning in dogs–the bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.

 

  • Prescription ADD/ADHD medications:  These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.

 

  • Glucosamine joint supplements:  Overdose of tasty products such as Cosequin and Move Free typically only cause diarrhea; however, in rare cases, liver failure can develop.

 

  • Silica gel packets and oxygen absorbers: Silica gel packs, found in new shoes, purses, or backpacks, are rarely a concern. The real threats are the iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky or pet treats, which can cause iron poisoning.

If your dog shows signs of pet poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness or lethargy, get them to your vet or an animal emergency clinic right away. The Pet Poison Helpline (800-218-6680) is another 24/7 resource to help you identify if your dog has pet poisoning. If you know or suspect the substance your dog got into, bring it along.

In any case, acting quickly is your best bet to save your pet from serious harm or even death.

A wagging tail means a happy dog, right? Not always…Since dogs haven’t found a way yet to talk to their owners, they use other means to convey what they’re thinking. Body language, especially tail wagging, is one.

There’s been a lot of publicity for a recent study by Italian researchers of dogs observing other dogs wagging their tails to the right or left and how they react. This dog behavior study observed dogs watching videos of other dogs wagging their tails either left or right.

Study findings indicated that dogs wagging their tails to the right caused observing dogs to relax and even try to approach the other dog. Dogs observed wagging their tails to the left, however, resulted in heightened heart rates and anxiousness in those dogs watching the videos.

Dog wagging its tailWhile these studies of dog behavior may be valid, it can be hard for pet owners to put them to practical use. Dogs are much better at interpreting other dog behavior than humans. Plus, the tail wagging can be quite subtle and would require humans to see the wagging in slow motion to really observe differences.

Dog trainer and educator Penny Layne has six dogs of her own and had this to say about the tail wagging study: “I don’t dispute the research, but what I have is the experience of the last 22 years of studying dogs and training them and as a speaker and I’m reading more than just the tail. You really have to look for a while to see if the tail is going left or right. You can’t waste that much time if your life is threatened,” she says.

Another factor is breed. Dogs naturally hold their tails at different heights depending on their breed. In general, a broad wag to the side is typically a sign of a happy dog, especially if the hips are wiggling with the tail.

According to VetDepot’s blog, there are three tail wagging behaviors that signal trouble:

  • A slow, low wag. This can be a sign of insecurity. If a dog is feeling fearful, it’s tail may continue to wag even if it’s tucked between the legs. If you think your dog is feeling uneasy for any reason, be cautious about introducing a new person or animal.

 

  • A slow, high wag. This is often a display of dominance. Be cautious if your dog is exhibiting this behavior.

 

  • A wagging tail accompanied by barking. This is often a warning sign of aggression or over-excitement.

The best way to tell if a dog’s tail wag is negative or positive, according to many pet experts, is to watch its overall body language. Happy dogs are relaxed, hold their tails at a natural height, and aren’t showing signs of anxiety or aggression.

How long will your pet be with you? Take a look at a recent research report from Banfield Pet Hospital…
Banfield report on dog breed longevity