Who’s Watching Fido? A Dog Sitter Dilemma

Leashed and safe.

Leashed and safe.


I was at my job at the fire department yesterday, checking the apparatus like we do every morning, when I just happened to glance outside. What I saw was enough to send me out the bay door at a fast pace; a loose dog at the edge of our busy street, getting ready to cross the road. She didn’t have that look of a dog that was well aware of their surroundings, more like she was quite anxious and possibly looking for someone.

To make matters worse, a gentleman was walking his dog on the other side of the road, a site that as we know, can distract even the most street-wise of dogs. As I jogged across the street, a fast moving car (read: speeding) was passing by, the driver looking out the side window at nothing in particular; pretty much a disaster in the works. Luckily for everyone, I headed the dog off at the last second and she trotted into the small park nearby. I tried several times to approach her, but she was obviously very nervous, barking and running away every time I got near her. Even the nice guy walking his dog couldn’t get her near to his pup. I watched as she jumped up a stonewall bordering the park and into a private yard, where the less-than-understanding owner yelled at her and chased her back into the street. As she started an earnest run up the road, I let my captain know what was going on, and jumped in the pick up truck to follow her. Luckily, she was one of those dogs that just loves a ride and I was able to get ahead of her and coax her slowly into the truck.

Later, after getting her comfortable in my car (she was too scared to even walk in to the fire department) I made the usual calls to dispatch and the local veterinarians to let them know her name. Luckily, her owners had been responsible and she had a collar with her name and their phone numbers on it, so even though I couldn’t get them to answer, I did leave messages. About an hour later, I got a call from dispatch saying she had “grandma” on the phone. She had been watching the dog for her daughter while she was away on a trip and could she come get the wayward pooch?

We met up and all was well. But. This is where I get to the point of my story; this was not a new scenario at all, just one that ended well. As my regular readers know, I am very often to be found dog sitting, but I take that responsibility with an enormous amount of forethought and gravity. After all, this is someone’s precious pet and I can’t imagine watching them with anything less than a high level of concern and planning, that’s just the way I am. I won’t even go into the anxiety that ensues if I have to leave town without my dogs, just suffice it to say that dogs aren’t the only ones who suffer from separation issues.

In my job, I’ve unfortunately seen a lot of the bad things that happen when people leave their dogs with a friend to watch, and it’s very often heartbreaking. I’m sure that most of the time the owners are truly thinking that they’re doing what’s best for the dog, but maybe sometimes it’s just was easiest or cheapest for the owner.

This is not a promotion for kennels and boarding facilities, I’ve seen bad things happen there too; it’s just that very often our friends really aren’t prepared for the responsibility of your pet.

I’ve seen dogs hit by cars when they had been trying to make it back home from the sitter’s house, to others lost in the wilderness while out on a hike.

My only point in telling this story is this; even the most well meaning family and friends need all of the tools you can give them to keep your beloved dog safe while you’re away. You need to research commercial kennels and you need to really quiz your potential sitters to make sure they can do the job right. Then you need to give them all of the info about your pooch that will help them do their job well, that means vet info, diet and medication instructions, even walking guidelines (leash anyone?) and play preferences. Often bringing their bowls, a toy or two and their own cozy pet bed from home will also help keep them comfortable while you’re away, and lets not forget current tags and a collar. Most of all, give them the information they need to keep them safe, controlled and off the streets at all times. Oh, and have a nice trip!

The Dog Finds a Home

Well fate is a funny thing I’ll tell you, I was at work at the fire station the other day, just me and the new guy on our shift, when one of our police officers walked in with the most adorable little dog; black and white, definitely part Heeler and as sweet as can be. He looked like he could be Rhylee’s little brother! The new guy just bought a house with his girlfriend and I’ve been threatening them with a house warming dog, because lets face it, what’s a house without a dog? Our friend the officer explained that the poor little guy had been found a week earlier wandering around town and in spite of an enormous effort on their part, they’d been unable to find his owners. The funny thing about this dear pup is that he has just about the most irresistible personality in the history of dogdom and everyone at the police station had been taking him home at night just to keep him out of the pound; he’s just that adorable. To make a long story short, my work partner was pretty much a lost cause from the first minute and his girl friend was at the station just a few hours later giving her stamp of approval.

Now these two people aren’t exactly your typical 9-5ers; they’re both world champion bike riders and firefighters who manage very busy, successful careers AND are renovating a house and still, they’ve swept this little lost dog into their lives, filled his world with love and care and attention and everyone is a lot better for it. Don’t you just love a great story like that?

And one of the best things about it is that my husband and I get to dog sit when they’re traveling, so I get to be a part of this happy puppy’s life too. And Juno and Rhylee adore him as much as he loves them. He’s had a few sleepovers at the fire station with us and I can’t tell you how lucky we all feel watching him snooze away in his cozy pet cave bed under the desk. All hail the dog indeed!

Best dog beds

Sleepy Station Dog

Missing Dogs; Dognapped?

Over the past year, our state has experienced a record number of dogs lost in an area covering several counties. Dogs were disappearing from their fenced in yards as well as apparently being taken right off of their owner’s lawns. While losing a pet under any circumstances is heartbreaking at the very least, having one kidnapped is even more so. Keep in mind, they are probably not being taken as potential pets, but far more likely they’re being sold as bait dogs for dog fighting rings or to laboratories for research.

None of us could begin to imagine the despair we would feel in this situation,  but sadly,  two people I know were recently put in that position. One friend let her 3 dogs out first thing in the morning as was their routine, but only one came back. This all took place in only a matter of minutes and without anyone; neighbors, law enforcement or animal control ever seeing anything. She put up posters all over the county without a single call back.

Another friend was gardening with her puppy in a very quiet neighborhood without any through traffic, when the pup just disappeared. She noticed right away and did all the right things; called law enforcement and animal control as well as notified all her neighbors immediately. Her dog was found by law enforcement in the middle of a town, several miles from her home and only minutes after having disappeared; dirty and banged up and with her tags ripped off of her collar. ( Much later, we were able to figure out that she must have jumped from the vehicle, as she could have never made it that far, that quickly). Due to a series of communication errors, the dog was impounded (oddly enough, in her vet’s kennel and without being recognized) for 4 days before she was notified. Apparently the officer who picked up the dog never passed that information along to anyone else, so in spite of my friend’s daily calls, she wasn’t  getting the correct information. The vets also said that the dogs’ microchip failed, something that isn’t entirely unheard of and that they weren’t able to identify her. I also had an experience where the chip had slipped down the dog’s leg, so be aware that there’s also room for human error as well.

Dog fighting rings are rampant across the country and support the abuse of animals on a widespread basis; from the fighting dogs themselves, to the bait dogs & to the helpless litters of puppies and kittens the owners use to teach the dogs to kill. It’s disgusting and illegal but it requires that everyone be just a little suspicious and nosy about the goings on around them and to report any activity that raises questions; that’s the only way citizens can help eradicate this cruel practice.

So what can we learn from this information and most importantly, how can we keep our pets safe?

Micro-chip your pet

Always have current information on collars and tags

Keep you pet under supervision as much as humanly possible; that includes people who tie their dogs up when they go into a store or those who leave them in an unlocked car.

And lastly, don’t ever assume that you’re pet is safe, just because you live in a “good” neighborhood.

I hope that you can take away something constructive from this article and I really hope you and your pets stay safe. Please click on this link and help save the pittie in the photo below..




Bait Dog




A Hero to Dogs, A Hero to Us


This Independence Day make sure to take the time to appreciate all that you have; to absorb the importance of not only the freedoms you may take for granted but also, the responsibilities that I hope you cherish as well. To understand the sacrifices that our military makes in order to allow us to live the way we do, you only need to look at the photo on this page. To be thousands of miles away from home and family, to risk your life every single minute of your time in a foreign land and yet to still show the compassion and caring that this man is showing, this is the life of a hero. If you were to take a moment today as you go about your business, you would see how many opportunities are missed for us to commit a simple act of kindness; even though we are home every night with our families and most of us don’t have jobs where someone is trying to kill us on a regular basis.  That’s what makes this soldiers’ generosity so special and that’s what raises the bar for us to act as everyday heroes. I don’t care if you visit with an elderly neighbor, volunteer at an animal shelter or stop and pick up a lost cat or dog. I just care that you take the time to give back a little for all that you have received. Happy 4th.