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