Thunderstorms and Fireworks. Oh My!

Thunder is scarey

As I sit reading I feel a cold wet nose come up and push my hand in an urgent way.  I need you, it says.  I reach down to pet Louie G and she is shaking.  This can only mean one thing, thunderstorm.

Louie G wasn’t always afraid of thunder and fireworks.  It started for her around 4 years.  Most dogs will start to display noise phobias between the ages of 1-5.  Cats can also have noise phobia but typically not as often or as severe.  With thunderstorms there can be more involved than just the noise; change in barometric pressure, static electricity can also upset some pets.

Here is a list of some common signs of noise phobia:

  • cat under the bedHiding (most common sign in cats)
  • Urinating
  • Defecating
  • Chewing
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape (digging, jumping through windows or going through walls, running away)
  • Drooling
  • Seeking the owner
  • Expressing anal glands
  • Seeking constant company of the owner
  • Not listening to commands
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vocalizing (barking or meowing)

Living in Florida with the daily summer thunderstorms and the upcoming 4th of July Holiday can make this a scary time of year for our pets.  Noise phobias will not go away and can become worse over time but there are some things that we can do to help.  The first and simplest thing is to be sure that your dog has had plenty of exercise, a tired dog can be a bonus.

ThunderShirts have helped some dogs.  The thing with the shirt is that you need to put it on your dog at times when no storms are coming so they don’t associate the shirt with the storm.  You could also use a snug fitting t-shirt.

Canine Audio Therapy  is a system where you play cd’s of thunderstorms or fireworks for your dog to desensitize them to the sounds, this can also be time consuming.   I had a client that did this with her rat terrier, Foxy,  and it worked great for them.  You could also try playing soothing music for your pet to distract them like the Positively, Victoria Stillwell series.  When we are pet sitting over firework holidays we will typically leave on the TV or music to help override or knock down the outside noise.

Herbal or flower remedies like Rescue Remedy have been very popular.   You can even use this yourself if you are afraid of the thunder.  Dogs Naturally has a list of  herbal remedies and how to dispense them.  Of course, if your pet has a really bad experience with thunder or fireworks you can talk to your vet so they could prescribe something stronger.

Dogs will instinctively look for a “den” type safe place when they are frightened, under a bed, in closet, bathtub.  Louie G always liked a crate with a blanket over it or to just lay next to me and let me snuggle her.  During a thunderstorm you could try to rub a dog down with a dryer sheet to stop the static electricity.  You just need to find the thing that will give your pet the most comfort.

Louie G
Louie G

Be sure that you dog has on their tags but beware, collars and tags can come off, so a micro chip is highly recommended before the fireworks start.  Have a tag or collar with your dog’s name and your phone number on it, make sure the contact information is current.   There are also GPS collars you can get to track your pet  in real-time.  Whatever you chose to do be sure to keep your pet in the house during fireworks. Be aware that some dogs have been so terrified from the noise that they have jumped through windows.  Closed windows.

If your pet gets out and runs away be sure to check around your home and neighborhood first, they may just be hiding in the bushes or under a house or shed.  Make posters for your neighborhood, post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.

Please keep your pets safe this summer and 4th of July

DOG TALES: Tiny Bubbles

Here is an older story from a different format that I liked and reworked.

Calling All Dogs Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Blog

I originally wrote this blog several years ago on a different format.  After some editing I have decided to share it again as I think it’s a cute vignette.
Can your dog blow bubbles?  Mine can, well sort of and maybe not on purpose but Louie G showed me this morning that anything is possible with a little ingenuity and smarts.

I was working at my desk, when I heard this odd noise.  I looked around and saw Louie G at the water bowl.  Apparently 1 kibble had dropped into the water bowl.  That would be a single piece of food, eats, treats.  No matter to her, she had to have it and she didn’t want to drink the water to get it.  I suppose in her efforts to get the kibble she was taking water into her mouth and if she didn’t get the kibble she was blowing the…

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Pookie Scruffy, Scruffy, Walter, Waltay, Wild Blue Tay,  Blue, Tay, Little Man, Little Man Stan, Stan.  Walter.  No these are not the names of multiple dogs, yes, these names belong to one dog and yes, he will answer to all of them but Walter is the main name.

Walter's First Day Home
Walter’s First Day Home

Walter came to us in 2007 to be a companion for Louie G who had just lost her best friend Spike.  We got Walter, then known as Pookie Scruffy, from the SPCA.  He was 4 years old and turned in because the owner had too many dogs.    Walter was presented to the public as an Airedale Terrier.  Well, he definitely has some terrier in him.  Airedale?  Not so much.   Walter moves in and wants nothing to do with Louie G, he only wants to sit next to me.   So we had a little talk, “Walter” I said

1st Haircut
1st Haircut

“the only reason you are here is to be Louie’s friend, if you can’t do that it’s back to jail”  Although dogs may not understand all the words they certainly get a sense of them.  He got off the sofa and played with Louie G and their great friendship began.

Once moved in Walter proceeded to break all the rules.  No dogs on the bed?  Are you kidding?  He could sneak up in the middle of the night, not wake you up until the point where you tried to move your legs and they didn’t move because a 35 lb dog was laying on you.  No dogs on the sofa, not any more, I would tell him off and the next minute he was on, off, on, off, on.  On won.

Walt is the alpha.  He is the dog all other dogs go to and then he ignores them.  He is their leader, mentor, protector.  When Pippy came to us, a six year old Yorkie from a puppy mill, she didn’t know how to use the stairs, Walter stayed with her and walked up and down the

Walter and Pippen
Walter and Pippen

stairs until she followed.  She always wanted to be close to him and would lay down next to him on the bed, he allow it but never acknowledge her.  He did this many times with other dogs that would come and visit.

He is a fearless protector with 100% bite inhibition.  So how do you ask does he protect?  He has a big mouth!  This boy can make a lot of noise and he can take a beating.  Twice he protected Louie G from attacking dogs.  The firs time 2 pit bulls got out of a house and charged us while we were on a walk.  For some reason they went after Louie G and Walter got right in the middle of it.    I would have let the girls go to run away but there is too much traffic on the road.   Finally someone pulled over and scared the dogs off.  Walter was bleeding all over but luckily they were only superficial wounds.

The best smile
The best smile with Martha

The second time we were going into my brothers fenced yard and as I looked up the road I saw an American Bulldog charging us.  Unfortunately, I could not get the gate closed and

Downtown Walks
Downtown Walks

this dog went after Louie G, again, what’s with the Poodle hate?  Walter stepped right in, all 35 lbs of him up against 100 Bully.  He got beat up pretty bad this time, including his broken CCL and scar tissue on his tail to this day.

He is very adaptable.  We moved from a house to a condo to a house.  I think he really liked the city living the best.  Life was filled with walks, other dogs, lot’s of smells and new things going on all the time.  Morning walks, afternoon walks, gelato walks, parade walks, just being nosey walks  and the last walk of the night with Rob for the “chick walk”.

Things are quieter now, back living in a house.  Walter, he’s 12, a little deaf, a little senile, he has cancer.  He spends his days following me around, flirting with Penny Lane and playing with Louie G.  Who knows how much longer we have together so we will just enjoy our time.

DOG TALES: Dino and Sammy

I suppose this episode should be called “Bird Tales” because it’s about Dino and Sammy the Cockatiels.  I have wanted to get birds for a long time.  I had been very close to getting a couple of parakeets a few years ago and then we moved and I  put that on hold.  This January a friend of mine told me she was looking to rehome her 2 young cockatiel boys, so I said yes.

Frankie & Dino

I haven’t had a bird since I was a child.  My great-grandfather used to raise parakeets and canaries and I remember him walking around the house with a keet on his shoulder.  I’m sure he was the one that gave us the canaries.  I vaguely remember taking care of the bird but not much.

So where did my new-found fascination for birds come from?  I think it started when I got clients with birds.   When I first started Calling All Dogs I would not take “big bird” clients.  I didn’t feel like I had enough knowledge or experience to take care of them.  A parakeet or a love bird, no biggie, as long as I didn’t have to put my hand in the cage.  Those guys can bite!  Then I got a client with Dobermans and he had a big bird.  Bill, the owner, showed me how to handle and care for him.  Needless to say I was still not an expert and I was definitely afraid of the bird. Continue reading “DOG TALES: Dino and Sammy”

ROAD TRIP 2015: The Dahlonega Cabin

The Dahlonega Cabin belongs to our friends Richie and Bob Whitaker, they are very generous with their invites and we are thankful.  It is the most serene and calming place, sitting on the rocking chairs on the porch looking out over the mountains, watching the birds during the day and the fireflies at night.  Long hikes in the

Dahlonega Cabin
mountains with the dogs, exploring the quaint downtown area of Dahlonega Georgia. It is the place we come to relax and recharge ourselves.  This is the last day of our visit to the cabin, feeling bittersweet as I think this could be our last visit.  The cabin is for sale.

While here we get to spend a lot of time with the dogs, so with no other demands on our attention I think it really gives us a chance to learn a lot about what has changed with

Louie G, Walter, Penny Lane
Louie G, Walter, Penny Lane
them.  Louie G,  Standard Poodle, Walter, All American Wired Brushed Scruffhound and Penny Lane, Wheaten Mix.

Louie G has certainly mellowed in her old age, 11 this year.  2 years ago we had to tether her if we sat out back or she would take off for the road.  Really?  With all the open space right in front of her why did she have to go around the front of the house and up the road?  This year, no problem.  She would run around the house but come right back and she mostly stayed where ever I was.

Walter, well he certainly is showing his age, 12 this year.  The first time we came, 4 years ago and he had just had his first knee replacement.  We used the hikes as his rehab and he wasn’t suppose to use the stairs.  Of course that year he hiked like a crazy man and went up

The Loft that Walter walked and couldn't find his way
The Loft that Walter walked and couldn’t find his way
and down the stairs whenever he felt like it.  This year he would not go up the stairs.  We had to carry him up every time.  UGH, total body workout.  He is also losing his hearing.  This has its own set of issues.  He doesn’t hear you coming and then freaks out because you “snuck” up on him.  When we are walking and he doesn’t hear another dog or person and then freaks because they “snuck” up on him.  He doesn’t realized you moved to another room and freaks because he felt abandoned.

He also seems to have gotten a bit senile.  We sleep in an upstairs bedroom that has a loft area that circles the staircase.  One morning I went IMG_2859

down the stairs, he saw me go, but proceeded to walk around the loft like he could not figure out how to get down.  I finally went back up to lead him down, I was afraid in his dismay he would just jump off the edge.  The next incident I was out back by the fence, the dogs were on the porch watching me.  The next thing I know Walter is barking and charging me like I have invaded his home.  Once he got close enough and realized who I was, he stopped.  My old man.

Louie G checking out the bed
Louie G checking out the bed

Living room
Living room
Penny Lane has been a pleasant surprise.  She needs to be with the “pack”.  If one of use leaves to go into a shop or cafe she goes totally crazy, barking and whining,  especially if it’s Rob.  The amazingly wonderful thing about Penny is she has great recall.  Yeah!  She always comes back when called (although, she can take her sweet time about it).  She is becoming more confident and leading the way on our hikes.  She is sweet and inquisitive.  Now we just need to work on her being reactive with other dogs, thanks Walter.

View from upstairs porch
View from upstairs porch
So if you might be interested in buying this amazing place please let us know and we will put you in touch with Richie and Bob.

ROAD TRIP 2015: Hike 4, Chattahoochee National Forest-Jarrard Gap

The pack was ready to roll this morning.  We picked a short hike for today not knowing how Walter would feel after 4 miles yesterday.  Well, let me just say that all the hiking is making him stronger and ready to roll.

Jarrard Gap Trail
Jarrard Gap Trail

On our way to Jarrard Gap we passed through Suches, Ga, a unincorportated area in Union County Ga.  Suches describes it’s self as the “Valley Above the Clouds”  It’s a small picturesque area through a winding road.  Be careful when driving these road as on the weekends there are dozens of bicyclist riding the mountain roads.

The trail begins at the Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area.  The entrance offers a camping area and a non-motorized lake.  You have a choice of the Slaughter Creek Trail, 2.7 miles or the Jarrard Gap Trail, 1 mile.  As I said we opted for the shorter Jarrard Gap Trail today.  Both these trails are up and back but you can make a loop with by using Jarrard Gap, Slaughter Creek and part of the Appalachian Trail.  Part of the trail is in a designated Wilderness area and you almost feel like you are in the woods 100 years ago.   The trail is narrow and steep in parts, we crossed the stream several times and enjoyed the natural beauty.  The trail has moderate traffic and we did pass several people on our way down.

Louie G love hiking
Louie G love hiking

At the top of the Gap it intersects with the Appalachian Trail.  You can change your course and head to Neels Gap or Woody Gap or just hike back down the trail like we did.  We met up with a trekker who started in Georgia and was hiking by himself up to North Caroline, what a great adventure.  The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club maintains the 79 miles of the Appalachian Trail through the state of Georgia.

Penny Lane and the Centipede
Penny Lane and the Centipede

When I hike with the dogs I always make sure to take:

  • plenty of water
  • A bowl
  • Snacks
  • First Aide Kit
  • Harnesses (typically more comfortable for the dogs than a collar on a hike)
  • 6 foot lead (typically required when hiking in parks)
  • Bags to clean up

As always the dogs had a great time.  Penny Lane had to lead the way, she found a centipede and was totally enthralled.  Walter was strong, I was impressed.  He kept up and wanted to keep going.  Hiking has been great for him this week.  The exercise and stimulation of doing something different and fun has really done a lot of good.  Louie G, well what can I say she’s momma’s girl, where I go she goes no question asked.

My hiking buddies
My hiking buddies

Road Trip 2015: Hike 3-Vogel State Park

After a day off lounging around the cabin the dogs were ready for their next hiking adventure.  After breakfast the anticipation was in the air;  pacing, barking and a general sense of anticipation.

We headed out to Vogel State Park, Georgia’s oldest park.  It is located at the base of Blood Mountain in Chattahoochee National Forest.  It offers an array of amenities in addition to its beautiful hiking trails. Cottages, campgrounds, primitive backpacking sites along with play grounds, a lake and a miniature golf course. And it’s dog friendly.   IMG_2838IMG_2837

Vogel Park
Vogel Park
Cabin-Vogel Park
Cabin-Vogel Park

The park offers several different hikes from the very easy hike around the lake to the difficult 13 mile trek of Coose Backcountry Trail.  We opted for the 4 mile Bear Hair Gap Loop with its gentle grade and meandering stream.

Once parked Rob went in the visitors center for a map and the dogs were anxious to get on the trail, let’s go, let’s go, pulling on the leashes.   Penny Lane has gotten confident since her first walk 3 days ago where she stayed behind or with us.  Today she wanted to lead the way. Looking for creatures in the brush, playing in the streams when we crossed, jumping over the fallen trees in our path.  Full of energy of a youngster, ready for the next adventure.

hiking dogs
Louie G & Walter, Bear Hair Gap

Louie G, loves the trails but is happy to stay right with me.  Well, maybe the occasional curiosity to look for something in the brush.  Just to be a dog and enjoy the moment.

Walter did great.  He was slow on the uphill but we took it easy and let him rest when needed.    When we stopped on the overlook Rob let Walter off the leash.  He won’t go anywhere, he said.  Hmm, I said.  Sure enough Walter started to follow his nose and of course being hard of hearing when we called to him he didn’t come back.  Fortunately for us he doesn’t move very fast these days.

Our return was all downhill so we made great time coming back.  Penny had to stop at all the stream crossings to play in the water and was a muddy mess when we got back, but hey a girl has to have fun.

Hiking Break Vogel
Vogel Park, Rob, Louie G, Penny Lane

On our way back we stopped for lunch at Turners Crossing Cafe.  Built in 1928 and still the original building.  They were happy to accommodate the dogs and set a table out on the porch and brought them a bowl of water.  The cafe is quaint with good food and friendly service.  Louie G and Walter are veterans at eating out and settled down to take in the sites.  Penny Lane, of course, was not sure of what this was all about.  She got her leash tangled in the chair legs, barked at a few of the people coming and going but once the food was served she became very attentive to us.  Good dog.

Turners Crossing Cafe