Monday, November 8, 2010

Tiny pooch stays warm and stylish in Michigan winters -

Tiny pooch stays warm and stylish in Michigan winters -

NOVA: Dogs Decoded: How smart are they...

There has been a lot of talk recently about one topic that I am fascinated by: the relationship between dogs and humans. It's been said that without dogs, humans would still be hunter/gatherers. Dogs co-habitate, travel and even work with us.

Inarguably, dogs have had a tremendous impact on our lives through the ages, and as that's unfolded - we've impacted the species as well. With the domestication of dogs, we've changed the very landscape of each breed.

On November 9, PBS will be presenting a program on NOVA called: Dogs Decoded - detailing the bond between canine and humans, past and present. What does the future hold for both species? We'll just have to see.

Lorrie Shaw is a regular pets contributor for and is also owner of Professional Pet Sitting, providing pet sitting services and dog walking in the areas of West Ann Arbor, Dexter and Chelsea. She welcomes your contact by e-mail.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dog catches huge fish near Seattle, WA. Check out the video!

Did you see this? A resourceful dog - a chocolate lab named Honey - satisfied her penchant for fresh fish after the Skokomish river near Seattle, WA flooded. The fish were, as you can see, were frantically swimming across the roadway and Honey promptly sauntered over, picked up a salmon and took off with it. Check out the video.

While I was at it, I found some more video of a yellow lab having a ball on a fishing trip, too. Enjoy!

Lorrie Shaw is a dog walker and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and is a regular contributor to's pet section with her blog, More Than Four Walls, where she also wrote the popular blog post, "Take your dog to work day, 2010: A tale of two local dogs". Reach her via e-mail and follow her on Twitter @psa2

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ann Arbor area residents have opportunity to relinquish unwanted chickens

flickr photo courtesy of jaroslaw
In June of 2008 the City of Ann Arbor approved an ordinance for residents to keep chickens on their property (with neighbor consent). As Corinna Borden points out in a blog this past summer, keeping chickens is fairly easy manage, but understandably, it's not for everyone. For some people, what seemed to be a great idea, turned into a lot more than they wanted to handle.

SASHA Farm in Manchester has declared Urban Chicken Amnesty Week for folks in areas of SE Michigan and the Toledo area who wish to hand over their chickens for retirement to the farm. Space is limited, of course, as it is at most animal sanctuaries, and not every request can be honored. Amnesty Week is November 1 - November 6, 2010.

Lorrie Shaw is a dog walker and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and is a regular contributor to's pet section with her blog, More Than Four Walls, where she examines topics ranging from social issues, behavior and, of course, pet health and safety. Reach her via e-mail and follow her on Twitter @psa2

Sunday, September 19, 2010

With Poll: Breed-Specific Legislation for canines: what's your opinion?

This is a hot topic: Breed-specific legislation for dogs. What's your experience with it? What is your opinion? Take the poll, and leave your comments. Your two cents is valued:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pittsfield Township man sentenced to 11 months in jail for starving puppy -

Yet another case of animal abuse and neglect.

I'm always very puzzled when I learn about these cases. Why do people decide to adopt pets, and then intentionally neglect them? What goes through their mind?

These cases always generate a lot of emotion from people, and I find that interesting also. Read the comments at the end of the article. They're very telling of the very diverse ways that our society views pets, and animals in general.

Pittsfield Township man sentenced to 11 months in jail for starving puppy -

What do you draw from the article?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Local Woman Receives Therapy Dog - Community News

In a previous article regarding the changes in the Americans With Disabilities Act, ADAI was one of the service dog training centers in the area that I had featured.

Assistance Dogs America Inc., located in Swanton, Ohio, has placed therapy dogs and service dogs with individuals for over 25 years. Helping kids and adults with disabilities achieve more independence by training and placing the dogs to assist with the individual's daily needs. ADAI serves individuals in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan's lower peninsula.

For more information on just what these amazing service dogs do, or for more information, visit

Read a featured article on AADI on -

Local Woman Receives Therapy Dog - Community News

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, owner of Professional Pet Sitting (pet sitting and dog walking) and a regular pets contributor on She enjoys writing about topics ranging from health, behavior and the social connection between animals and humans. She can be reached at 734-904-7279 or

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back-to-school blues affect dogs, too? Advice from a local expert

Great article by John Spieser of dog trainer and owner of Dogheart, in Ann Arbor. He touches on separation anxiety and destructive behavior issues stemming from an abrupt change in a dogs' schedule, like back-to-school.

Back-to-school blues? What you can do to limit impact of sudden changes in schedule for your dog -

Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter and dog walker as well as a regular pets contributor on She also enjoys researching solutions regarding pet wellness and behavior, as well as social issues related to pets. She can be reached via e-mail.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Foxtails: not as benign as you might think

A jaunt with your pooch out in the woods can be a great way to get exercise and spend time together. Most dogs like to dart off into the brush, sniffing as they meander around. Typical dog behavior, right? Of course!

flickr photo courtesy of The Equinest
It's important when fun time is over, to examine your pooch thoroughly. Looking for ticks is crucial, of course, but there is another caveat to outdoor fun, especially for long haired dogs, like golden retrievers. Foxtails are notorious for hitching a ride and embedding themselves easily into tangles of fur, but they can pose a bigger risk: digging into openings in the skin. If this happens, big problems can ensue and surgical removal may become necessary.

Three common places that foxtails enter the body are the ears, nose and paws, so if your pooch spends a lot of time outdoors in fields or brushy areas, examining these areas is very important.

  • Paws: Keep the fur trimmed on the underside of the paws and check frequently. Limping may be an indicator that there's an issue.
  • Nose:  Dogs are habitual sniffers! Any signs of sneezing, pawing, discharge from the nose or blood is cause for concern. The burr can make its way to further into the nasal cavity, and in some rare cases has done so into the brain.
  • Ears: You know how dogs are; they get in irritation in their ear and they shake their head. But with every shake, the foxtail burr can travel further into the ear and cause permanent damage.
Most of the burrs can be removed safely with a comb after returning home. But in cases where you see that one may have gotten under the skin, or you're unable to remove it, get to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. Infection can set in quickly, and the discomfort and pain caused by the tiny barbs is awful.

Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter and dog walker as well as a regular pets contributor on She also enjoys researching solutions regarding pet wellness and behavior, as well as social issues related to pets. She can be reached via e-mail.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dropping the ball

A couple of nights ago, I was doing my nightly reading and research and ran across a blog post that one of my fellow tweeps, @MelzPetPals had written. The post included a gut wrenching letter from a Shelter Manager that details the not-so-pretty side of reality in a dog shelter. Read it here - but I caution you to grab a box of tissues; you're going to need them.

For quite some time, I've had this sort of thing on my mind, and have been trying to organize my thoughts to pull together a concise blog. I cannot figure out why people are not "getting it".

Why is it that there continues to be a steady stream of unwanted pets relinquished to shelters, unplanned litters of puppies and kittens who were result of an 'accident' and cases of abuse toward animals? Why do people insist on having exotic pets - ones that they have no idea how to, nor ability to care for properly? The plight of  "designer dogs" is distressing, too - and unethical breeders not employing careful breeding practices, or breeding for "desirable characteristics" in their business often leads to physical anomalies, behavioral problems and the like in the resulting litters. Beverley Cuddy chronicles this topic in her piece for The Bark, Breeding for Beauty.

It certainly cannot be that people are not educated enough about the plight that pet overpopulation and greed causes.

The numbers of unwanted pets are exemplified in the annual shelter fundraisers, endless adoption events, donation cans near the cash register at merchants' stores, flyers on bulletin boards and online ads and pet adoption websites (PetFinder is a great example). They're everywhere.

Why is it that spay/neutering isn't as focused on more? Or, maybe it is and people aren't getting that, either. As far as the rights of animals go, it seems that sterilization is a highly effective, far more economical and humane approach to controlling pet populations.

Working in a shelter in Monroe County, MI many years ago, I saw the sad reality of dogs (and cats) that are relinquished by owners. I would often read the detail cards on the outside of the animals' cage and just shake my head. Most of the reasons, honestly - not all, mind you, were workable I think. But as usual the pet always suffers the unfortunate consequences of lack of forethought on the humans part - and the inadequate training of the owner. (Yes, dog training has little to do with actually training dogs - training humans is more like it.) I hated seeing the abuse cases, especially. One cat had the pads of their paws burned intentionally. And the relinquishment of senior pets - that was common, too. I remember one sweet, old black lab - he was in dire need of a simple bath, nail trim and attention - and I made sure that he got it. In looking at his detail card, he was healthy overall, but his owners relinquished him because they were having a baby.

Can you imagine being dumped off someplace strange after years in one family, or be shifted from one home to another frequently - or to be tortured or abused?

Gretchen & Bruiser
My partner Chris and I acquired our three pets, not from a breeder or a pet store, but because they were in dire situations, respectively. And, we've resolved to always keep the tradition going - when we are ready to welcome another pet into the family.

I think that most people want to do right by their animals, don't get me wrong. There are certainly situations where a significant life change - not limited to an ongoing profound financial hardship - necessitates relinquishing a pet for good. There are programs out there to help, but for some families, they know that it's not enough - and it's all too common right now in Washtenaw County. But for far too many others, it's just a case of not enough thought into what things will be like once they get a pet... or where it comes from.

Mel Freer's blog post really brings the issues surrounding the plight of homeless and abused animals into the forefront. I'm fairly certain that all humane societies, shelter and rescue workers would love to see the need for their facilities and services come to an end. To stop the influx of unwanted and neglected animals coming through their doors. To never get another call about an abuse case that needs investigating. That they never need to ask for another dime from people to run their facility. To never have to euthanize another animal.

Please, stop and think your motivation about getting a pet - or giving one up. These animals did not ask to be put on this earth, or in their given situation. We make these decisions for them. I've heard the comment from others that "humans have dominion over the earth". For some, that means different things. I see it this way: because we have the ability to make decisions in ways that animals do not in our society - and because we have the capacity for speech, unlike animals - we have the inherent responsibility to make decisions for animals that put their best interests first. Simply because we have these capacities, does in no way mean that we can do whatever we feel like, because we can't deal with an animals' breed-based behaviors that are in their DNA - or because simply, it suits us. We need to stop dropping the ball. We as a species can do better.

Lorrie Shaw resides in Dexter Township with her family and lives her passion as professional dog walker and pet sitter for many species of animals. Staying up to date on the pulse of pet-related topics, she blogs about them frequently on More Than Four Walls and is a regular pets contributor on If you have an issue or topic that you would like to see addressed, contact Lorrie at

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Retractable leashes - a great use for them

(Photo courtesy of Kim Garrison)
Sequel, seen here padding through a creek in NJ
The weather here in southeast Michigan has been uncomfortable as of late - hot, muggy - oppressive! It's not just so for us, but our pets! We all want ways to keep cool, and safe from the effects of the high temperatures.

This morning, one of my pawsome followers and fellow dog owner, @kimhalligan1 on Twitter reminded me of a great way to keep dogs cool on days like these, while getting them their much needed exercise. Read it here.

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of retractable leashes because they do not allow me the control and safety factor that is often needed when I'm walking dogs, but in this case - swimming alongside a clear riverbank, or even running or biking in a safe, open area - retractables work great and allow your pooch a bit more freedom and distance while keeping them tethered safely.

Sometimes, that's a really good thing.

So, why not get out there with your pup today and offer them a new way to experience life outside of "More Than Four Walls"!

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting, offering pet sitting and dog walking services in the Ann Arbor area, and is also a regular pets contributor on She also blogs frequently on More Than Four Walls, and enjoys researching solutions regarding pet wellness and behavior, as well as social issues related to pets. She can be reached at and you can also follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fostering homeless animals: many possibilities, opportunities for pet and human

flickr photo courtesy of TerryJohnston

It's no secret that the number of homeless and unwanted pets is difficult to manage for humane societies, shelters and rescues alike. Typically there are opportunities for people to foster animals at their homes, and the rewards can be momumental for both pet and human. In Rikke Jorgensen's article "The Joy of Dog Fostering" in the current The Bark magazine illustrates the scenario of fostering well, giving a glimpse into the lives of foster families. For the animals, just the tip of the iceberg is getting the one-on-one attention that they receive in a household setting, a reduction in the exposure to stress. For the humans, the rewards are limitless.

Many animals being considered for fostering have physical challenges or illnesses - which, when they are housed in a traditional shelter-type setting can make it difficult to heal or thrive. Others are advanced in age; shelters can be hard on them, too. Being fostered provides a more settled environment for these animals so, perhaps they can heal, overcome physical challenges and allow them to put their best foot forward, get adopted and stay in a permanant home.

Cathy Theisen wrote a blog post last week on that resonated with me. It's a bit unrelated, but it got me thinking. There is a significant need for foster families - with specifically one species of animal - cats - in need of care. The subject of Theisen's blog I think probably represents a vast part of our elderly population: they would like to get a pet, but due to things like their age, cost concerns of lifelong ownership make it perhaps, prohibitive in their mind.

After making a comment on Cathy's post, the idea kept mulling over in my mind. Cats are in most cases more physically manageable for an older person to care for. Having the companionship of a cat - even in a temporary situation - can be a healthy, pleasurable experience for the human. A feline in a shelter situation would benefit greatly from a calm, stable and loving home that give them the little bit extra that they need to be at their best for adoption - a perhaps if they are timid or difficult to place.

Why wouldn't a senior be a great foster "parent" for a shelter cat, especially if the person is experienced with pets?

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting as well as a regular pets contributor on She enjoys researching solutions regarding pet wellness and behavior, as well as social issues related to pets.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Merging two households into one successfully: the blended pet family -

Merging two households into one successfully: the blended pet family -

Local people pitch in to help child who suffers from Aicardi Syndrome

Service dogs are an integral part of some peoples lives who are coping with chronic illness. Shaylee Jones is no exception, Shaylee, who is 5 and has Aicardi Syndrome is plagued by the possibility of seizures - as well as the risk of stopping breathing while she sleeps at night. A service dog can help by alerting her family when an emergency arises, saving her life.

A garage sale was held in Berkeley, MI to help defray the cost of a service dog. A local business donated $10,000 to the cause and 95.5's Mojo in the Morning were on site to help out.

Roop Raj of Fox 2 spent some time there, and with the help of his tweet, brought more attention to the cause. Watch the video story here.

The ability of canines - especially those that have been through training - to perceive a possible health crisis and to bring comfort to the individual that they have been carefully matched with is uncanny. A lot of work goes into the selection, training of the dogs, and then matching up human to the specialized service dog. No small feat by any means!

Lorrie Shaw is also a regular contributor to's pet section and owner of Professional Pet Sitting in Dexter Twp, MI.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FYI - Exercise Induced Collapse - the facts

Flickr photo courtesy of Justin Baeder

This heat wave that we are experiencing has reminded me of a condition that affects canines, and I think that it bears emphasizing as it hits one of the most popular breeds - and can be exacerbated by temperatures and humidity that are higher than the dog is used to.

Exercise Induced Collapse, or EIC, is an inherited disorder that is characterized by onset of weakness in the hind limbs, (sometimes progressing to the front limbs,) an unusual gait, inability to coordinate limbs - to in some cases, inability to move at all. Symptoms are typically brought on by strenuous exercise, sometimes only after a few minutes. EIC is usually found to affect Labrador Retrievers (all colors and both sexes), Chesapeake Retrievers and curly coated retrievers. Although a pooch may seem in tip top condition and athletic, do not let this fool you - EIC can affect seemingly healthy dogs.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota discovered the gene. Additionally, the September 21, 2008 issue of the scientific journal Genetics Nature published the scientific basis for the DNA test to detect the gene.

Border Collies are affected by a somewhat similar exercise-induced syndrome, that can be researched by clicking here.

For additional facts about EIC, click here to download the .pdf file from the University of Minnesota website.

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting in Chelsea, MI, and is also a regular pets contributor to She writes about health issues, dog culture and social issues related to pets. She can be reached via e-mail at:

Common sense, precautions can protect animals from heat-related illness -

The heat wave is going to continue through Wednesday. Keep your pets safe with these tips.

Common sense, precautions can protect animals from heat-related illness -

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade liver training treats, a how-to tutorial

In training puppies and dogs, there are a few things to remember - consistency, keep the sessions short, a good sense of timing and most of all, use really yummy treats... and just tiny bits of them. In keeping your dogs attention during training sessions - we can use all the help that we can get!

I see many people buy expensive dog training bits and treats, but to me it seems a bit silly. You can use things like hot dogs, sliced thinly and then cut into quarters - or you can make homemade liver training treats for just pennies. Best of all, in the latter case you have control of what ingredients are in the treats and most dogs love liver.

Start with organic calf liver (this is important as the organ acts as a filter to mitigate toxins from the body), boiled for a few minutes in water to cook (10 - 15 minutes), then rinse off to get rid of the scum that accumulates. Dry with a paper towel, then place the boiled liver onto a cookie sheet, completely flat and into a 225 degree oven (depending on your oven, as temperatures vary) for another 15-20 minutes to dry. Cool the dried liver and you can break off tiny pieces as you need them. Since there are no preservatives in these treats, I recommend keeping the dried liver refrigerated in a container for up to a week.

Remember, dogs should not eat too much liver, so keep the number of treats low, and the bits tiny.

Watch an online tutorial here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Take Your Dog To Work Day!

A few days ago, I wrote a piece on with regard to Take Your Dog To Work Day celebrated on June 25 that's been celebrated over the past few years. It is an opportunity to focus on the relationship between animals and humans and additionally, pet adoption.

In preparation for the article, I created a poll, and posed a few questions to clients and friends and they had some interesting things to say about the idea of having dogs in the workplace.

One person working in an office setting indicated,
It would be great for person who gets to bring in their pet and would enhance the environment/well-being of the office at large. having a dog approach me for a scratch behind the ears would be a wonderful way to take a break from the office routine. However, the big downside is that many people are allergic to pets, and if there is even one co-worker who is, the office really needs to respect that and not permit animals in hte office area. Some people are afraid of animals, and that could present some problems as well.

Another, who is a therapist:
These days, I rarely bring in my dog in my sessions, but years ago, I often brought my old dog to work with me, until he was banned by the administrator - and the dog was very helpful!

Will you be lucky enough to be able to have your pet with you at work today? Take the poll:

Friday, June 18, 2010

44 animals seized from Webster Township home following anonymous tip -

When will this kind of thing end? 42 dogs. Wow.

I'm so thankful to the individuals who spoke up and made the call. I always wonder when there is a case like this that comes to light, "How many others are out there, undiscovered?" If you ever see or hear anything that you feel might be questionable, never be afraid to speak up. Animal cruelty is a lose/lose situation.

44 animals seized from Webster Township home following anonymous tip -

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dog park blues

Yesterday, I read this article by Eric Goebelbecker, owner of Dog Spelled Forward. Eric is a certified dog trainer in Bergen County, New Jersey area.

His thoughts on dog parks made perfect sense to me, and is why I do not participate in the whole dog park thing in my business. I find that some dog owners can't even control their dogs on a walk - especially in the city. Some mean well, I think, hover they lack the ability to be able to read their dogs' body language, and sometimes have not mastered basic training and commands with their dog.

I worry about the whole movement toward not getting dogs vaccinated, too. I understand some folks' reasons for not doing so - (health reasons, prior reaction, age) - but generally those dogs are not in a more 'public' setting and there is much less of a chance of spreading disease.

What are your thoughts on dog parks? What is your experience?

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has extensive experience with animals including dogs, amphibians, exotic birds and cats, and is always interested in learning new concepts in animal behavior and health.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Poll: Do you take your dog to work with you?

With the workplace environment becoming more relaxed, more and more people are able to bring their dogs to work with them. Are you one of them? Participate in the poll and please - leave your comments... how it has changed the way that you feel, your productivity and how it affects your work environment as a whole.

If you work in the Ann Arbor area, I'd be very interested in talking with you personally about your experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Me again. The dog without a home'.

This guys face just kills me. He really seems to understand the predicament that he's in. If you have room in your life and home to adopt a dog, please consider Hobo. Get in touch with Westarbor Animal Hospital at 734-769-5391

'Me again. The dog without a home'.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Humane Society of Huron Valley needs foster volunteers!

Last week, the cruelty and rescue staff from HSHV rescued 18 dogs, and are mostly small breed.

Due to the increased caseload of puppies - which was exacerbated by the intake of 26 puppies from Mississippi - the organization desperately needs foster volunteers to help out. Are you interested in being a foster? You can make all of the difference!

The dogs were taken out of a hoarding situation, first reported by Tina Reed of

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A cockatoo rocks it

A couple of weeks ago, I talked a bit about my clients life with her cockatoo, Buddy. I touched briefly on the way that Buddy will interact with me, and the world that exists outside of her cage. She is receptive to all sorts of stimuli including the activity of other birds that she observes out the large window in her view - and the tonal variations in my voice, body language and movement, and she'll respond in kind. Interestingly enough, she responds to music too. Buddy's owner, Marlene will leave a radio set on a timer to come on at various times of day in her absence. During the last block of time that I cared for her, some music started to play in a segment of a news story on NPR. Buddy immediately took notice, perked up and cocked her head to the side. The spontaneous music seemed to elicit exaggaterated movement on her part and when I started to bop around and dance a little, Buddy began to get more excited, vocalize and do the same. She seems to recognize and associate the movement with music.

In the book, Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin talks about how the brains of animals and humans differ - and how they are alike. The renowned animal scientist also touched on Dr. Irene Pepperberg's work with an African gray parrot, Alex. Some amazing discoveries have been made about what is known now about the way these birds' brains are wired for language - both receptive and expressive - and cognition. Dr. Pepperberg at one point teamed up with Adena Schachner to study the effects of music on this species.

I am always blown away by the interesting things that animals show us what they are capable of. Earlier today, I saw this video of Snowball, a medium sulphur crested Eleanora cockatoo. He looks like he's having a great time! If nothing else, it will make your day.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular Pets contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and has extensive experience with animals including dogs, cats, amphibians and of course, birds.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A happy surprise or planned decision: what's your story?

We all have stories of how our pets came to be in our midst. Participate by taking the poll. Be sure to share your stories in the comments section!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flea prevention options

Since our Gretchen was approaching the big "10" last year, I really started to think seriously about the way her body metabolizes chemicals and drugs at this age. Actually, I've always had concerns with regard to what is used in, on and around my pets. Especially with the frequency of use with lawn care products and cleaning supplies, I've opted to go the natural route whenever I can.

In my knowledge of herbs and naturally based components, I know that there things that help to address fleas, and have employed products and homemade formulations through the years. (I should note that just because something is natural, it does not always mean that it is safe to use on every species of animal. As an example, tea tree oil is an effective all purpose ingredient, but it should never be used on cats. Due to its phenolic activity, it is toxic to them.) Neem oil works well in addressing fleas, and is safe. It's especially great for chemically sensitive pets. However there is one caveat - it smells horrible. I do use a great shampoo made for pets that contains neem oil and the smell is agreeable. It's safe for frequent use, if necessary.

Raw neem oil is available at local natural markets and health food stores. You can add it to your favorite pet shampoo.

After taking our crew in for their annual checkup with Dr. Critchfield of Chelsea Animal Hospital last year, we discussed flea/tick prevention, naturally. I expressed concern with all of the pets, but primarily Gretchen and her age, and inquired about a more natural approach to prevention. The Dr. offered that there was a option that works great, has little or no side effects and uses a naturally occurring bacteria, found in soil. I was thrilled. Since that time, Comfortis has been our preference to addressing fleas on our dogs. One of the best things about it - it's a once monthly pill, so it's easy to administer - no messy topicals! Two caveats with the product, though. It is not indicated for ticks, and is not approved for use in cats.

We look forward to another great year without fleas, and doing it in a safe manner.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has extensive experience with animals including dogs, amphibians, exotic birds and cats. Contact her at

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One owners' experience with her Goffins Cockatoo

In my conversation with local cockatoo owner and grass roots exotic bird care expert, Marlene Butkiewicz, she offered so much insight beyond basic care.

Because the Goffins Cockatoo, and other birds are so social, they really need to not only interact with you, but to bond and establish trust. This doesn't just make for a happy, psychologically sound bird, but it helps you to better care for them.

Marlene could not stress enough the importance of interacting regularly with them - but also physically handling them. This does a few things: it gets them comfortable with you - touch is such a crucial stimulus that boosts physical and mental wellness. Handling the birds, especially from a young age allows you to trim the beak and nails in with better ease. You can examine the bird visually, better in this way, too. Being close to your bird allows you to look for feathers that appear to have less than optimal integrity and a white powdery residue. Getting a look at their skin as they stretch their wings is a good idea.

Proper humidity is required for cockatoos to be healthy. Since in captivity they are in an artificial environment, they need a good humidfier to balance the moisture level in the area they they are in. With indoor heating and dryness in Michigan being an issue, Marlene uses a top grade one with a filter so that any residual minerals don't disperse in the air.

Birds of this type need other consideration, too. Do you have other pets? Sometimes the birds display jealousy issues.

Since her bird, Buddy was rehomed for a second time when she came into the Butkiewicz household, Marlene knew there might be challenges, but was ready, as she and her husband were already experienced bird owners. Marlene recalls how the now 15 year old Buddy (estimated age) came to be:

I met a lady while walking in the woods nearby with my dog; she was trying to get her cat down from the tree that it had climbed up in. I offered to climb up the tree to retrieve her cat. We got to talking and she said the girls she lived with had a cockatoo they would like to rehome. Turned out after meeting Buddy and passing their approval we adopted her 11 years ago. They had gotten the bird from a couple whom had just had a baby and needed to give up the bird. The girls knew they didn't have the time to give Buddy what she needed for a happy healthy life because they were involved in Pomeranian rescues. Therefore, I was the lucky new owner after they came over to check out our bird area, as we had our other bird at that time too.

It's obvious that Buddy is a very happy creature and will easily live out her expected lifespan due to her owners' diligence. Do you think you're up for sharing your life with an exotic bird? Read more here.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger, a regular contributor to and owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and has extensive experience with animals including dogs, cats, amphibians and of course, birds. Contact her at 734-904-7279.

Thinking about getting an exotic bird? A local expert offers insight, tips on care -

Thinking about getting an exotic bird? A local expert offers insight, tips on care -

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What a week!

It's been a very fulfilling time! With Memorial Day weekend approaching, I have opportunities to see clients that I typically only see when their owners go out of town. As a result, I'm busy with holiday sittings, daily dog walking and even a new puppy on my roster who I'm completely amazed by. Her growth, playfulness and overall joy are great to see each weekday when stopping in to see her for puppy visits that include potty breaks, walks and puppy playtime to help her hone in on her instinctive skills and build her brain and body.

More neat stuff! Since the beginning of the week, I have been interviewed by the following radio shows, Dwyer and Michaels (Davenport,IA), CJAD's Tim Parent (Quebec), and the Ed Wenck Show on WIBC (Indianapolis) - across North America to discuss my recent piece "The bucket list for pets" on

The feedback has been phemonenal and this whole thing has opened up a lot of discussion with regard to our relationships to pets, and how we can create the best life for animals. That's the best part. What are your methods and practices for unfolding your pets' best self and creating a nurturing, stimulating environment for them?

I want to thank you... all of you who read my blogs, comment, share your experiences and participate.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Key West, what are you thinking???

My partner Chris Glahn and I have traveled to Key West a handful of times together. It's a fun island community, prideing itself on the mantra: "One Human Family". Anyone that has gone there will attest to that, and the goodwill is extended to people's pets, too. Dogs can go most anywhere their human counterparts do, and we've never had a problem.

Dogs in Key West behave differently. They are laid back, mannerful and joyful to be around. Most don't even walk on a leash. One of my favorite memories is seeing a huge chocolate lab whiz by, sitting on the platform of their owners' moped - a typical mode of transportation there. Despite the fact that we leave our pooches behind when we go, the dog friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons that we love it there.

Read here why that could change, permanantly. If only former mayor, Capt. Tony were still here.

Lorrie Shaw is a professional dog walker and pet sitter living in Dexter Twp, MI with her family that includes 3 pets. She is a frequent Pets Contributor on Contact her via e-mail.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lost large breed, aged dog - very cute!

This 'ol fella was in area of Jackson Rd. by the Q-16 Cinemas around the 14th of May. Is he yours? He's now at the HSHV.

He looks a lot like my Gretchen. I'm sure that he misses his people.

Dogs and "horse-sense"

Great article!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Don't diss me because of my size, please!

Have you traveled with your big dog? Have you had problems finding accommodations, because of your dogs' size?

I have traveled in the past with Gretchen, and used to take her to Traverse City each summer, as we traveled by car. We stayed at a motel and things worked out great. It was a little work, especially since we spent a lot of time at the beach - and getting her cleaned up and sand free before returning to the motel took only a little time. It was a blast, and some of my most treasured memories are from those vacations. There were times when other folks were a little put off by her size, but her calm demeanor and friendly disposition quickly won them over. Good training and careful attention to our proximity to other animals helped. Also, we made a point to not take her to places that were crowded or to do certain activities when it was too hot. Our motel was great, and very accommodating. Others, may be a bit ambiguous. There are others that I know are not so much so and this is a nationwide issue. With pet ownership ever increasing, the movement to include pets' in travel plans is, too.

What are your tried and true traveling-with-your-dog tips?

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting, as well as a regular contributor to's Pets section. She can usually be found cheerfully walking around local neighborhoods, on the other end of the leash. She resides in Dexter Twp, MI with her blended family that includes 3 pets. She welcomes your contact via e-mail.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dog Training? Drop These 'Ds'!
Too often owners misinterpret their dog's behavior or failure to perform a behavior. This can lead to problems and a breakdown in what should be a trusting relationship.
Read More

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's not you, it's me

As humans, we are capable of emotions that are all over the board. There is a myriad of reasons behind our mood and sometimes we are not even aware of how we are behaving. Our minds are busied with our 'to-do' lists, places we have to get and keeping other people happy. We have a tendency to ignore our non-verbal communication and the energy that we send out - and how it affects others around us. Most everyone else around us are simultaneously experiencing the same bustle of activity and emotion that we are individually. We walk around mindlessly, sometimes. Paying attention to our reactions really can affect and improve the way that we get along with other people along the course of our day; our body language, tone of voice, speed of our step, the measure of our breath. Funny how we can immediately notice when someone else is irritated, but fail to recognize when we are doing the same. (Maybe we pay attention to non-verbal communication more than we think!)

rely on non-verbal cues so much more than we do, mainly because they lack the capacity for language, physiologically. Our pets pick up immediately on what we are feeling. They know when our mood isn't exactly up to par, and we don't even have to say a word. Our energy can directly affect the way that our pets behave. Humans - not pets, in many cases set the tone for how a training session, a trip to the vet or any given Tuesday will go. Being conscious of how you are behaving can directly impact the outcome of any of those situations. If you're having a particularly difficult day, perhaps try to avoid a training session and focus on constructive playtime or just go out and play a simple game of fetch.

We are all guilty of not behaving at our best, and our pets can help us identify when we are, since they mirror our energy most times. Notice - "is my dog acting tense, uncooperative? Are they avoiding me?" I think in many cases, it's not the animal who has the problem, it's us. When this happens, I take a minute, inhale, exhale and quickly surmise what really going on.

Moments like that remind me to try and always behave as though my pets are with me.

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting and lives in Dexter Twp. with her family that includes a small brood of pets. You will see her walking her charges in neighborhoods local to West Ann Arbor, Dexter and surrounding communities. Contact her by phone at 734-904-7279 or

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What? My dog can't eat that?

See these? --------------------------------->

That's right. Grapes are bad for dogs. Raisins, too. Grapes can cause kidney failure, even death. That's not to say that it happens in every case, as physiologically every dog is different. Specific breeds are susceptible to kidney dysfunction, however and are more easily affected. If you want to give treats, stick to dog cookies and biscuits!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pet related injuries - I feel your pain

Does your cat abide by the famous "three foot rule?" I don't know one that does! You know, when you're working at the kitchen counter, you step away and who is sitting right behind your feet but your faithful kitty. Ever walk through the house with a basketful of laundry and hear the familiar "screech/meow!" as you step on them, trip and maybe fall or twist your back. (Usually not harming the cat; their only mighty miffed by you not watching where you're going.) A few months ago I arrived at a clients' home to dog sit and knelt down (as I commonly do with all animals) to greet my charge, a lab mix. She was feeling especially enthusiastic that day and as I came down, she hopped up and banged me right underneath my eye. Ice pack!

In our day to day activities at home , our pets are typically at our side and it's natural for them to be curious about what we're doing and to be close. One of my big rules at our house is that in the kitchen, the dogs are not allowed to be close to my work area. Before starting a task, I command them to "place" and they both go to their respective areas of the kitchen, where they can still see what's going on but at a safe distance. Boiling water, sharp knives, and my pacing back and forth from stove to fridge to sink are hazardous and even potientially deadly. This includes working near our outdoor grill. I don't want any of us spending time getting fixed up after an avoidable injury.

Surely you've got your own stories of accidents with your pets. Statistics from the CDC state that thouands of people each year visit emergncy rooms each year as a result of sustaining injuries involving their pets - or pet toys. Having three pets - two large breed dogs and a cat - I'm in the habit of keeping their toys out of the way, especially near stairways to avoid falling accidents. And speaking of stairways, our dogs are trained to stay put (or given the ok to proceed first) as we are making our way up or down steps. Our cat, Silver is another story and being mindful of where he is ensures our safety. Silver has another bad habit: hopping up behind me as I use a kitchen chair as a step-stool to reach the upper cabinets in our kitchen. He's done this as I've climbed a ladder to paint, too, perching on the lower rungs as I work. I always need to be aware of where he is when I'm doing activities like that. With the dogs, my injuries have always been minor and non-intentional - usually a jammed finger or 'dog-head-meets-my-nose' incident.

Although it's impossible to avoid accidents completely, but you can keep your family and friends safer by being mindful of your pets' habits and implementing a few of your own rules in house.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lost cat: Smudge, a white cat with black and brown spots, missing from Kenilworth Drive -

Lost cat: Smudge, a white cat with black and brown spots, missing from Kenilworth Drive -

Ping, pong...

Want a way to keep your cat busy today whle you're away at work? Toss a ping pong or other fun kitty ball into a clean, dry bathtub. That's it. Your cat will go insane with joy batting and chasing the ball around, and best of all it's a game that your cat can play independently.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Red Cross Pet First Aid Class -April 15 - Community News

Red Cross Pet First Aid Class -April 15 - Community News

Ready, Set, Play!

With the warmer temperatures, we're all itching to get outdoors and do something - even our pets. Dogs need to get out stretch, bark - and run! Sure throwing a tennis ball is a fun game that not only my dogs love, but most of my clients.

Want to amp it up a bit?

Get a Chuck It ball launcher. This ingenious, simple tool is inexpensive, easy to use and fun for both human and dog alike. Available at pet stores everywhere, the washable, plastic device 'launches' a tennis ball with a simple arm motion - great for those dog owners who have range of motion issues. It's sure to make your dog a serious playaholic. The Chuck It drives our dogs insane with enthusiasm when we grab it and head outside.

The best part? No more slobbery, spit covered hands from throwing a tennis ball.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Good people, good energy. Get ya some.

Some of the most important things in my day aside from my family, good strong coffee in the morning, my BlackBerry. (The latter is essential in my business.) Another thing that rates right up there is positive energy. I get it from my day to day work, without a doubt.. I get to see my (mostly) furry clients each day and embark on one of our little adventures. I see the world through an animal's eyes; new, fresh zeal each time we're together. It's a great feeling.

Another port of positivity is connecting with my people on Twitter. Some are local to me, some aren't. Since on most days my contact with humans can be minimal, Twitter is a connection to so much. Seeing the ideas and energy just flow from others is a real source of inspiration for me. I like reading what others are doing. Input helps, too.

There is a tradition on Twitter called Follow Friday: a practice that helps folks get introduced into social circles. Each Friday, if I remember to get it done on the PC before my bleary eyed departure (BlackBerry is too difficult to manage this.) Although I like the idea, it can be cumbersome and time consuming. After reading a post by Chris Brogan today on Twitter, I decided that indeed I could make better use of my time by giving props to some folks who you need to know about. Agreed; 140 characters doesn't do some folks justice. This is a cool new thing that I'll be putting into practice for sure. Maybe not just on Fridays. Check it out. If I don't mention you today, don't be offended. Rome wasn't built in a day.

@interactiveAmy – Such incredible energy from Amy Ravit Korin. Insight. Humor. Ideas. She's expanded my mind about social networking/media. Learn from her.

@custardfairy – Hysterical. We all need humor. Her tweets are brief, but pack a punch.

@tom_peters – Tom describes himself as a 'professional agitator'. I think that he just moves beyond the obvious and says what needs saying. Intelligent, good common sense advice on business and life. I'm all about common sense. Too bad it's not more common, huh?

– One of the first folks that I followed, Jackie Dishner is author of BACKROADS & BYWAYS OF ARIZONA. She's great at being inspiring. Period.

Think about who you gain the most from. Shine the light.