Attack Cats. Be Very Afraid.

Cats.  The reality
Cats. The reality

Barking dog, you don’t scare me. Hissing cat, be very afraid.   People ask me if it’s scary walking into a house with a big barking dog.  Please give me a barking dog any day but don’t make me walk past that hissing cat.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love cats.  I have lived with cats most of my life.  But…..attack cats….???

Today a friend of mine on FaceBook posted about being attacked by a cat while walking her Golden Retriever and that brought to mind the times I have been attacked by cats.

My first experience with cat aggression was with my own cats.  It was very mild and most likely “petting induced”  while some cats like to be petted many cats will allow it for a short while and then just turn around and bite that hand of yours.  Yo human, what do you think you are doing?

“Redirected” aggression according to the ASPCA,  occurs when a cat is aggressively aroused and agitated by an animal or person he can’t get at (because there’s a window between them, for example). Unable to get to the trigger of his agitation, he turns and lashes out at someone—person, dog or cat—who is nearby or who approaches him.   The first time this happened was with a domestic long haired named Duffy. When I first met Duffy with the owner he was lovely.  He let me pet him, he let me brush him.  My initial visits were very calm, no problem.  Then the owners brought in a kitten and kept him in a seperate part of the house.  My relationship with Duffy was about to change.  Duffy did not like Lilo.  So when I came into the house, my first visit after Lilo joined the household,  he literally charged at me hissing.  Yes, kitty, you have my attention.  Forever after that I had to go into the house with some sort of protection; carry a bag in front of me or better yet a broom.  At least I felt I could protect my legs, none the less it was a scary experience.

Attack cat
Attack cat

And then there are the cats that are territorial.  ASPCA explains it this way:  Cats’ territorial aggression is usually directly toward other cats, but it can be directed toward dogs and people, too.  They may stalk, chase and ambush a targeted intruder while displaying offensive body postures, including hissing, swatting and growling. This has been my experience with my clients pets.  They just don’t think that I belong in their house.  One of the first I had to deal with was Cloe.  This cat was so mean.  As soon as I walked into the house she would start stalking me.  Follow me around hissing and then after she ate forget it, she would go into full attack mode.  I smartened up pretty fast about the food thing and would only feed her when I was on my way out the door.

Another experience I had with a territorial cat was when I was walking 3 dogs.  One of the

Hissing Cats
Hissing Cats

dogs, Frankie, slipped out of his harness, great.  Of course this is a dog that had an issue with anyone touching his back.  Great. He had on a harness that clipped on the back.  Great.  So while I am getting Frankie’s harness back on he latches onto my hand, won’t let go.  Good dog.  All of a sudden the other dogs are straining at the end of their leashes and as I look up what do I see?  A cat charging us from across the street.  All I could think is “You have to be kidding me.”  What a sight I must have been to the neighbors.  Dog attached to hand being attacked by a cat.

So yes give me a barking dog any day over a hissing cat.

Tonka and Tiffany: Guest Post by a Pet Sitter

This post is by my husband, Rob.  Having married into an animal loving/pet sitting family it was only a matter of time until he got drafted into the fold of pet sitters.  Since we have visitors to the house and he helps out with feeding, walking or snuggling he is set up to be a pet sitter in the business.    This past 4th of July we were very busy and drafted his help with our clients Tiffany and Tonka, these are his thoughts on being a pet sitter.  Thanks Rob for being an animal lover and a good sport.  

When I met Suzanne, my wife, I never really thought I would ever be a “sitter” for her business.  I went from not having a dog for many years to being propelled into a house hold of sometimes several dogs. We ended up with 3 of our own and sometimes 1 to 3 visitors at our house.  Since I spent time with them Suzanne put me on the insurance policy and set me up as a pet sitter.  That was the beginning. Continue reading “Tonka and Tiffany: Guest Post by a Pet Sitter”

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog


A few months back we were hired to walk Carter a Sheltie.  The owner told me it was because of health issues but ends up the truth comes out it was behavior issues.  Carter, being a herding dog, would nip at people’s heels when he was frustrated or overwhelmed.  Which did not take much since the owner also had a 1 year old lab that she couldn’t control.

We started walking Carter 5 days a week for 15 minutes (doesn’t seem like much but in the heat it was plenty).  Carter would bark at every person, every house that had a barking dog and lung at anyone passing us on the street.   So I started  incorporating some behavior modification and training on the walks.  He would have to sit before we went out the door, and after we exited.  When we saw or heard something that agitated him I would have him “look at me” and sit.  He was rewarded with treats and praise.  It did not take that boy long to learn how to work me for the goodies.  The combination of the walk and the work stimulated not only his body but his brain and his owner was very pleased with his improvement.  The plus for me is he was so much easier to walk with.

She also had a 1 year old Lab, Susie, who was just wild.  She told me that she had just paid a trainer $1000 to train her and she still had a dog that was jumping all over everyone.  After a week or so and seeing the lab Susie be so wild I suggested that she let us walk her also.
Continue reading “A Tired Dog is a Good Dog”

The Downtown Dog

Louie G and Walter on the balcony

Crazy how some people think that living in a city environment is a bad thing for dogs and kids.  While I can’t comment on the kid part I can comment on the dog part.  In 2010 we moved from a cute little cottage with a backyard to a mid-rise condo in downtown St Petersburg Florida

I was a little leery of moving into a mid rise condo with the dogs after they had a small house with a back yard and yes, a mac daddy doggie door.  Now they and us will have to learn to be on a schedule.  No more chasing squirrels and lizards,  no more lazy human just letting the dogs out back.

The first thing we did was figure out the walk schedule.  Since they were used to going in and out so often I decided that we would start with 4 walks a day.  Morning, noon, late afternoon and night.  After a week we went to 3 walks a day and that pretty much stayed our norm for the 4 years we lived the condo life.  I also had them get used to having to wait for their first walk.  By this I mean that as soon as I woke up I did not take them out the door.  The point of this was not to be mean but if I needed to go see a client first thing I wanted them to be accustomed to being patient and they were very accommodating.   Our morning walk was the longest walk, being in Florida this is the coolest part of the day.  We walked the parks, checked out the pee mail, enjoyed all the hustle and bustle of the city.  Late afternoon walk was shorter, just a few blocks but that was fine because it was so hot.Their Kingdom

The night walk which was typically done by my husband Rob, was dubbed “the chick walk”.  You know that dogs are “chick magnets” and that time of night people were headed out on the town.  Sometimes we would all go out and head over to the gelato shop, an out-door cafe or catch some music at The Ale and The Witch.  Our night walks were initial

Sharing the gelato
Sharing the gelato

done at 10 PM, this got to be a bit of a hassle as I like to go to bed about that time, and I was too lazy to go out that late, bad mom.  We gradually moved it up to 8 PM, this worked out fine.  The dogs are good with going 12 + hours and were not in any kind of distress.

As far as missing the back yard.  I don’t think so.  I believe the stimulation of all the different sights and smells the constant changes in the environment were far more satisfying and interesting to them than being left to their own devices in the backyard.

Our biggest challenge was the elevator, especially for Louie G.  One of the elevators had windows and this totally freaked her out at first, but after a few days of going up and down and she started to expect doors to just open for her.  The second part of the elevator is having other dogs in a small space.  At first we had no problem, most of the dogs that lived in our building were used to riding the elevator with other dogs.  We would have our dogs enter, sit and give treats.  This worked fine until we were attacked by a black lab.  We were in the elevator, the door opens and we are charged by a big black lab.  No one was hurt but it was a total freak out.  We did some training, got everyone back on track and it happens again, same dog.  Retrain and then the 3rd time, same dog.  We could never really get it back after that.  At that point we just never entered an elevator with other dogs and used the service elevator which had much less dog traffic.  On the good side, Louie G got better with her fear of people.  Coming from a puppy mill she always had a little fear of people coming towards her.  After having to ride the elevator in close quarters with a lot of different people, she really got over that fear.

Checking out the
Checking out the “hood”

One of the things I know they missed about our house was it  had a side yard that we would sit in the evenings and watch the people go by.  It was nicely set back from the sidewalk so as not to bother or scare the pedestrians.  When we moved into the condo we did loss the yard but gained a balcony.  Our first floor balcony was small just wide enough for a few chairs and some plants.  At first the dogs were afraid to near the railings, once the got used to it they loved to look over the side and I always said that they were “surveying their kingdom”  This is also the place that Louie G and Walter learned how to howl.  Fire trucks.  Only fire trucks.  And living downtown there were plenty of fire trucks.  Louie G started it and Walter joined in with his more sorrowful howl.   They would do it on the balcony or when we were walking down the street.  No matter where they did it always made me and everyone else who heard them laugh.

Probably the worst part of downtown living was if the dogs got an upset stomach in the middle of the night.   I have been out on the street at 3 AM a few times in my pajamas.  I’m sure I was quite a sight but at that hour at least there weren’t many people to see me.

So if you think you want to move to a more urban area, don’t feel bad for the dogs, make the commitment to get them plenty of walks and they will love it.  Our dogs loved downtown living and so did I.  We were very sad to leave.  We are back in a small house in a nice neighborhood.  We will stay until the end of the year and reevaluate what will be the best choice for us.  Maybe we will head back into the downtown or maybe a house with a little bigger yard.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Happy 4th of July, or not

Today is the big day, fireworks!  UGH.  I used to like fireworks, now, not so much.  Sure I enjoy the big shows with all the fancy lights.  It’s the neighborhood fireworks that I find irritating on many levels.  First, I don’t understand why men like to shoot off things that just make a loud noise.  Please explain to me the redeeming value of this.

Personally I find it annoying as do my dogs and the dogs I take care of.  We have been having a lot of thunderstorms so the dogs are already on edge.  I had a walk with a yellow lab, Meghan, last night, it was thundering off in the distance.  Poor dear, I found her in the closet under a pile of clothes and then it  was a battle to get her out of the house.  I had to sit on the steps, pet her, talk to her, cajole her, pull her.  Finally she came down and peed but turned around and ran back up the stairs.  At least she peed, otherwise it would have been a long night.

Thunder is scarey

Yesterday I started putting the Rescue Remedy in my dogs water bowls.  I just want to get it in their systems.  Tonight I will go out a little early for my pet sits,  try to get everyone out before all the noise, turn on the TVs or radios, be sure the closet doors are open.  Then home I will have to deal with 4 scared dogs.  Rescue Remedy, Thundershirts, loud TV and a warm body they can all gather around.  Hopefully my neighbors will be considerate and not shoot off the fireworks, leave it to the professionals, somehow I doubt that will happen. Tomorrow morning when I go to visit my clients I hope to find them safe and rested, no torn up houses or broken windows.

Have a safe and Happy 4th.

Keep them Safe
Keep them Safe

Please remember:

  • Leave your pets home from the fireworks
  • Give them a “safe” place to hide; crate, closet, bathroom
  • Be sure they have on their ID and are microchipped
  • Play calm music or turn on the TV
  • Distract them with playtime or treats