Friday, June 27, 2008

Helping Udders and Popsicles for Pups

I have found the perfect summer treat for hot dogs. Kooldogz makes a popsicle kit for pups. I throw in dog biscuits, spoonfuls of peanut butter, carrots, hot dogs, zucchini- all in a bucket that I then freeze. When frozen, I take it out and pop it on this stand (Desi the Dachshund shown here) and they lick it for a couple of hours. They love it. The only problem I have had is when a dog is possessive over food. Then I either need to have two set up or put them away until I have a more cooperative bunch staying here. 

Kooldogz is available from a fun web site, Helping Udders. Obviously run by a woman with a sense of humor, this site sells lots of unusual dog items, including t-shirts featuring my artwork. 10% of the proceeds go to dog rescue groups. She has donated over $9,000 in 2008. Besides great t-shirts (not very modest am I?), the site offers toys, travel gear, and dog beds. Helping Udders has also donated over 200 cooling vests to working military dogsThe military only provides the basics for Military Working Dogs (MWDs) stationed in Iraq where temperatures can soar up to 145 degrees.  When the dogs are hot, they tire quickly and their ability to detect explosives and other dangers is greatly reduced.

I hope you'll visit the site and help Mikel, the business owner, continue her good work for dogs worldwide.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Update on Arkansas shelter

The horrific action by the city of Helena, Arkansas, in releasing shelter dogs into the forest to fend for themselves, has brought nationwide repercussions, as it should. The mayor of Helena has learned, the hard way, that the animal-loving community won't stand for abuse. Unfortunately he has been the recipient of many abusive emails and calls, and even death threats. This is no way to educate the ignorant or gain cooperation. I myself was guilty of insulting the mayor in my earlier blog post. 

I have posted his response on my web site if you would like to read it. I think he's gotten the message at this point, and I hope the town of Helena will rally to found a humane animal control program. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pet sitting the goldfish

Fish tanks 

You think it’d be easy; just feed the fish, right? Generally, yes it is that simple. But pet sitting follows Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Here’s some fish tank care tips for pet sitters.

First off, if the water level goes down, in many geographical areas you can’t just pour in some tap water and be done with it. There is enough chlorine in tap water to kill fish, so your client may leave you some chlorine neutralizer (Ask about it during your consultation). Add the neutralizer every time you add water.

Leaking tank:

I walked in the client’s bedroom and saw the water level was down to half in the five gallon tank. Wow, that evaporated quickly, I thought. But it had been really hot, so I just refilled it. On my next visit, the next day, the tank was half full again. It dawned on me the tank was leaking, but I felt no wetness on the table or on the edges. The carpet, however, was soaked. I finally decided that the pressure of the water broke a seal on the tank, and it would drain only so far and then when the pressure was relieved, it stopped leaking. So at least it wouldn’t go completely dry and kill the fish.

But, the pump wasn’t getting any water, and it could burn up and start a fire. I unplugged the pump and light and moved the tank into the bathtub, where it could leak to its heart’s content. Beach towels from the cupboard soaked up water from the carpet, and a fan helped it dry. I envisioned a moldy musty smell when the owners returned. I called them, and they didn’t want me to leave a window open, so the fan was the best solution.

The fish were fine in half a tank for a few days, and more important, the house was safe from further damage.

Trust me, these things only happen when your clients leave home.


More is not necessarily better. The number one cause of death in pet fish is overfeeding (so the fish vet tells me). So be stingy with the food. One client actually had a constipated beta (Siamese Fighting Fish). I am not making this up! He had been over fed, and several days of fasting resulted in a complete recovery. Who knew… 

The painting with this article is mine, entitled "Koi." It was done in watercolor and colored pencil. Limited edition prints are available for sale. Contact me. Visit my web site to view more of my art.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Polly the Pet Sitter

Since I am a writer, I was struck by inspiration today. A good friend sent me a book, Mrs. Twitter the Animal Sitter. Well, it is a cute story, but the author clearly doesn't know a thing about pet sitting! But that is part of its charm. My friend's kids loved this story growing up, which got me to thinking. I can do better than that ( I think). So here it is. Note it is copyrighted, so please don't reproduce without my permission.

Polly the Pet Sitter
by Terry Albert

Polly the pet sitter from Poway

Takes care of two dogs, a cat and a horse.

When she goes out walking

People start talking,

Because the critters go with her of course!


The dogs are in front

The horse in the rear,

The cat in her arms ‘cause he must.

Miss Polly, by golly

Gets dragged down the gully

As the dogs chase a bunny and fuss.


They start out again,

This small group of friends,

The cat is now riding the horse.

The horse sees a snake,

And everyone shakes.

They call out the whole police force!


The cops come right over,

And say “Hello, Rover,”

And each of the dogs wags his tail.

“Where’s this big snake?

Or was this a mistake?”

As they listen to Polly’s sad tale.


The cat is so brave,

It’s his turn to save

Miss Polly who feeds him so well.

“The snake’s right here,

Up the tree in the air,

I found him with my sense of smell!”


These pets are so smart,

The cops all go home

The snake in a bag in a cart.

Polly says “Golly,

I’ll take you all with me,

Whenever I go for a walk."


So the dogs are in front,

And the horse in the rear,

The cat on his back

Trying to steer.


Polly walks them all home

Never more will they roam

They’re happy they’re back

Safe and sound.


A pet sitter’s job

Is fun all around

But sometimes it’s not what you think.


A simple walk ‘round the corner

And on down the street,

Brings surprises before you can blink!

© 2008 Not to be reproduced without author's permission

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dateline: Arkansas: Shelter dogs released into forest to starve

This story disgusts me... let's turn the mayor out into the forest and see how long he survives.  

It was only 10 dogs (3 more were euthanized), which a rescue group could have handled if they were given time to react to the emergency. 

Ark. city releases shelter dogs into forest

Mayor James Valley ordered the dogs to be taken to an area called Storm Creek, part of the national forest. There is a small group of concerned citizens in Helena who keep an eye on the municipal dog facility. Dogs are kept in pens as part of the city sanitation dept. under filthy deplorable conditions. They were ordered to improve conditions, such as feed clean and water daily. Separate aggressive dogs, etc. That had not been done so the mayor ordered the sanitation workers to dump the dogs.


A group of concerned citizens pleaded with the mayor not to take this drastic action. They said give us a few hours to make alternate arrangements. He ignored them.


Some of the dogs were rounded up. Others were shot and killed by locals. Others are still missing. Some of the dogs are sick. Obviously others are scared and hungry.


The reporter said the mayor has stonewalled issues regarding the dog shelter. He refuses to put items on the agenda so that city council members aren't informed. Money isn't an issue either. There's half a million dollar reserve fund available to make improvements that he;wont allocate for the dogs. Cats weren't mentioned at all. I surmise they don't count at all.


The paper, the Daily World, already covered the story (the title above is a link to the story), and plans a follow up.


If anyone is interested in protesting this action, please call Mayor James Valley at: 870-572-3421, cell 870-817-4035.


Letters to the editor can be sent to: Randy Hogan at:

The truth about Dachshunds

I never knew much about Doxies until the past few years. If you aren't acquainted with one, you are in for a treat. When I was doing rescue (of homeless dogs) our Dachshund rep showed up at our annual picnic with her doxies. We had a trick contest, and she stated that it would be a great trick if her dogs didn't bite anyone...

I have since learned that although they are very opinionated, Doxies have hearts of gold, and worm their way into your lap and life. No wonder they are always near the top of the list for the AKC most popular breeds.

My first two, Beans and Tuffy are shown in the art you see here. Called "Heart Dogs," the outline of the two makes a rough shape of a heart. The original was exhibited at the Art Show At the Dog Show in Wichita this spring, where it sold, and I have limited edition prints available. It is small, about 8" square and was done in watercolor and colored pencil. In this painting, they are curled up on a couch pillow on my living room floor. 

They were almost 10 years old when they came to live with me. Their owner, an elderly lady, was in a nursing home, and they had been sitting in a kennel for months. I am a seriously soft touch for old dogs, and sad stories just do me in, so the second escrow closed on my new house, they came to live with me. Beanie promptly got under the fence and headed down the street- before their rescuer even left my house! In spite of that, I was allowed to keep them. I had Tuffy one year, and Beanie only two years before they both died of old age. 

Dachshunds are so funny, they will keep you laughing forever. Just watch one run, or act like a big dog, and you can't help but smile. They are pretty snotty and bossy when the mood strikes, and without a firm hand (gentle but firm) they can become little terrorists. Members of the hound group, the breed was developed for hunting badger, and digging for them underground. Their long shape allows them to fit in a tunnel. Hounds are very independent, and not necessarily interested in doing what you want them to do. But doxies are among the more lovable of the hound breeds.

Maya is a pet sitting client Dachshund who comes to stay with me. A black and tan "tweenie," meaning she is neither a mini or a standard size, Maya comes in the door snarling, won't let me touch her or take off her leash, and runs up to each of my dogs in turn and tells them off. Within five minutes she jumps up on my lap or is out playing with her new canine friends. Once she gets her ego out of the way, she is a wonderful dog! 

Desi is my latest addition to the family. His owner, Dorthea, was ill, and refused to go to the hospital until she found someone to care for Desi. They called me. As soon as I picked him up, Dorthea called 911 so an ambulance would come and get her. Desi was clearly first on her mind, even though she was so ill. He was very neglected, and needed a good grooming, shots and neutering, which I took care of and Dorthea paid for. I kept him for several months, and one day Dorthea called, wanting to know if I would keep Desi if something happened to her. I had already decided that when Desi went home, I would help her care for him- grooming, vet visits, etc. She was clearly unable, but she loved her little dog. One week later Dorthea passed away, and Desi stayed with me. A photo of Desi by my photographer friend, Melanie Snowhite is posted above.

Silly Desi is a wirehaired cream-colored doxie. Most people don't believe me when I say he's a doxie! His coat is incorrect, not harsh and wiry, but soft and shiny. My friend Liz calls him a soft-coated wheaten dachshund. He spends every evening draped across my lap on his back, all four feet up in the air. He is the happiest little dog in the world, and nothing is cuter than watching him run across the park through the thick grass, hopping like a bunny. 

May you blessed with a Dachshund in your life someday. 

For information about purchasing a limited edition print of "Heart Dogs" (Price $30, framed), please contact me at Visit my web site at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Welcome to my first post

I have finally decided to start a blog, and hope you will stop by often to enjoy what I have to say. This is my chance to hone my writing skills, and I hope your chance to learn from and enjoy my stories. Here are some subjects you will hear about in the coming weeks:

My artwork: Pet portraits, which encompasses paintings, drawings, logos, t-shirt designs, and trophy packages for dog shows. I also paint subjects other than pets from time to time, and will share those with you here.

Pet sitting and pet care: I may start a separate blog for my pet sitting business, but here I will concentrate on the fun side, not the business side of caring for pets.

My writing: Although I have been a writer throughout my career, only recently have I returned to focusing on this aspect in a big way. Watch for my first book, Your Happy Healthy Pet: Basset Hound, which will be published by Howell Books in November, 2008. More about that later!

My pets: Bonnie, a sheltie, is the little cutie you see at the top of this page. She came from a puppy mill in Texas, and I adopted her from Southland Sheltie Rescue almost four years ago with Lily, her littermate, or maybe her mom. A blog is a good excuse to write about my own animals and my experiences with them. And there have been a LOT of them over the years. More about that later too.

The bigger picture: There is more going on in the world of animals than just my little universe, and occasionally I will address a topic with an editorial opinion that i hope will get you thinking, and taking action on behalf of our animal friends.

I'm looking forward to your comments!