Professional Dog Walkers and Pet Owners To Take Precautions Against Lyme Disease

Jun 22 2011

Eileen Antell & Timber

Eileen Antell and her dog Timber

Summer is finally here, along with all of it’s anticipated goodies: radiant heat, buzzing bugs, summer crowds, ice cream and hot dogs! Yes, I mean the hot dogs you walk! I’m sure you know all about the dog days of summer, but in case you need a refresher on keeping your client’s dogs safe, I found an article on a great website that is veterinarian endorsed. Check it out, ten tips how to keep your pet safe in the summer heat.



Remember to ask your client if they are using a tick preventative this year. It is their choice to do so. If they have applied something like Frontline, do your part for the environment and try to keep the dogs out of small streams and ponds, lest you contaminate the water for local wildlife (like fish and frogs). If they have a bug repelling collar or scarf, make sure you don’t leave on your walk without it.

If they have not applied a pesticide on their dog, I think that is admirable! You never know what is causing cancer or seizures in our beloved pets these days. Help these particular clients succeed in preventing tick bites the natural way, by keeping their dog on a leash and staying centered on the trail. Avoid the tall grass along trail and sidewalk borders (because these are popular elimination and sniffing spots for all dogs big and small, the foliage on these sidelines are like bus depots for ticks, where they get dropped off and picked up all season long). Before you deposit the dog back in the house, look him over for any obvious ticks that have not yet penetrated their coats. Check around the face, behind the ears, the neck, the chest, each leg, and between the toes. Brush the dog lightly with your fingers or with a brush if it’s handy. It is very difficult to spot a tick on a black dog, so focus on prevention by avoiding wooded areas and tall grass, and check him carefully upon returning.

Lyme disease (carried by deer ticks) is a real concern. An eye opening documentary that I highly recommend for everyone (and for their dogs, for they contract the disease and experience symptoms just as we humans do) is named, Under Our Skin (2008). Netflix has it streaming. WebVet also has a great article that describes Lyme Disease symptoms.

Before your walk, apply insect repellent to your ankles and tuck your pants in your socks. Ticks are easy to spot on white socks and light colored pants.. After your walk, check yourself for ticks as well. Check your shoes, ankles, legs, and pants. When you get home, check your warm shady spots where ticks quickly head to: armpits, chest, back, neck hairline, and groin. If you find a tick, pick it off with your fingers. If it has bitten you and is attached, pull it off with it’s head intact and save the tick in a jar for identification. Be sure to call your doctor, s/he may want to see you, or the tick for treatment and/or testing. If the bite develops a bulls eye rash around it, take yourself and your tick to see a doctor immediately!

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The fine art of tactful criticism

May 10 2011

Saying things you might say to friend can quickly sour an otherwise congenial business relationship. People who are paying you to be around rarely want to employ your criticism. And so this was the conundrum I found myself in.

I had a client who owned a morbidly obese dog. I found it difficult to deal with this because I felt that the “love” my client had for her dog was really killing him. Make no mistake the physical health of this dog was in my mind borderline abusive. Not malicious, not evil, but still abuse through neglect to use common sense. What was so obvious to me seemed not to have entered her mind. The fact that my client was also quite obese made it even more difficult to address. For her food was love and she slathered it on.

The way I finally managed to bring it up was after she mentioned it herself. I forget how the subject of her dog’s obesity came up but I took the opportunity to say something about my concern that it could be her thyroid. Thyroid deficiency results in obesity and it’s a tactful way of saying, “something must be wrong, because no dog should be as fat as he was.” It offered plausible deniability; that I could bring up my concern without the obvious implication that it was the result of over-feeding and general lack of self-control—in other words, her fault. It allowed us to discuss the issue without it being about blame, self recrimination, or offended feelings.

Sometimes it’s a fine line we walk in this business. You become very personal with your clients and they with you because of the type of work you do. I don’t doubt it is similar to the type of relationship a nanny has with the family s/he serves. On the other hand, friendship and business mix about as well as oil and water.

I’d love to hear how others have or would handle such a situation?

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Pet Food Recall

Mar 21 2011

Thanks to a reader for bringing this to my attention! Please read.

Copy of FDA Press Release Follows:

Jones Natural Chews Co Recalls Pig Ear Dog Chews Because Of Possible Salmonella Health Risk

Jones Natural Chews Co
877-481-2663 or 815-874-9500

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 8, 2011 – Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, IL is recalling 2705 boxes of Pig Ears because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Jones Natural Chews Pig Ears were distributed in CT, IA, IL, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NY, PA,VA, WA, and WI. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between September 15, 2010 and November 2, 2010 where they were available for purchase.

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears 2pk bag with header card–item upc 741956001047 lot 2420

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears bulk 100ct box-box upc 741956001139 lot 2490, 2560, 2630, 2700, 2840, 2910, 2980

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears bulk 50 ct box-box upc 741956001504 lot 2490, 2840

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears bulk 25ct box-box upc 741956001467 lot 2700

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears 1pk shrinkwrapped-item upc 741956001146 lot 2700, 2840, 2420

Jones Natural Chews Co Pig Ears 10pk printed bag-item upc 741956001405 lot 2420, 2560, 2630, 2840

Blain’s Farm & Fleet Pig Ears 10 pieces bag-item upc 741956001405 lot 2560

Country Butcher Dog Chews Pig Ears 1pk shrinkwrapped-item upc 741956001511 lot 2630

Country Butcher Dog Chews Pig Ears 1pk shrinkwrapped-item upc 741956001146 lot 2420

Country Butcher Dog Chews Pig Ears 12pk bag-item upc 741956001245 lot 2910

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. The company has no product left in inventory from this batch of pig ears.

Consumers who have purchased any of these pig ears are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663.


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Iditarod 2011, The Race is On!

Mar 09 2011

Nearly 40 years since the race was first conceived and run in 1973, the best of the best have sought to test themselves and their dogs against each other and some of the worst weather on the planet.

This isn’t for wussies.

The race has officially started (the ceremonial start took place in Anchorage). But the race actually began in Willow, Alaska about 75 miles outside of Anchorage. Its course runs through some of the most wild and rugged territory on earth, testing the limits of endurance, courage, and above all, teamwork.

But this team is unlike any other team, in any official sport or business, anywhere on the globe. This team challenges the bond between human and canine. It puts to the test the abilities of both species in ways no other contest ever conceived has, or likely will. Yes, there are many professional human/canine partnerships. Police, military, and herding dogs come to mind, but none that require the kind of social adeptness that is required of a winning Iditarod team.

There must be an indescribable feeling of oneness, or perhaps belonging, in that bond, in that race, as one tears down the trail into the wild. There is a real connection to the wild, (there are no ivory towers here) to our not so ancient past—a gene that must get activated in this pursuit. For the men and women who race the Iditarod, and the dogs who take them to the finish line, this must be a singularly indescribable experience.

Enjoy the thrill of the race, even if you can’t be there in person by checking the official Iditarod website and follow the highs and lows, and the thrill of the race through a mixture of blog posts, GPS tracking, and video footage.

Yahoooooo! Mush!

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Origins of the word ‘dog’

Mar 01 2011

The origins of the word ‘dog’ are mysteriously absent from etymological research. From the research I have conducted in preparing this post, the earliest mention of the word was made in a text from around 1050 during the late Old English period and translates to Canis, the Latin word for dog. The exact usage being “canum docgena,” according to

It seems the word has no root in other languages and seems to have sprung into existence, perhaps during this period. Prior to this usage our furry friends were referred to as a ‘hund’ or ‘hound’ as it is said today. Other languages have cognates of the word ‘dog’ but these are descended from the Old English, thus making the Old English usage the first recorded appearance of the word.

The use of the word did not overtake the native word ‘hund’ until the 16th century. The curious among us have always noted that dog spelled backwards is ‘god’ and this word-play has been affixed to more than a few bumpers, and even is the slogan for the popular canine lifestyle magazine, The Bark.

Slogans, sayings, and the like that reference dogs did not begin in our lifetimes however. Phases like, “let sleeping dogs lie” and “go to the dogs” appeared in texts dating from the mid 1500s.

The word dog, is as enjoyable to write, as it is to read. Its shape is balanced with the rising line from the ‘d’ counterbalanced by the hanging ‘g’ tied together by the full and round ‘o’.

Cat is nice, but nowhere near as wonderful as dog.

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Grim outlook as Amazon’s market-share grows overnight

Feb 27 2011

Border’s Books files chapter 11

Foreword Magazine, the leading publishing trade magazine in the US, recently asked me to comment on the Border’s Chapter 11 announcement. They wanted to know what I thought about it and if I might have the opinion of someone who would say “good riddance” because of their deleterious effects on the small indie book stores. The following is my response.

I would never say good riddance to a company which sold or offered our products to consumers. Yes, that’s a very personal and selfish standpoint as a publisher. However it doesn’t even take into effect my more general distress with hearing about a once successful company collapsing under the weight of an economy which seems poised for catastrophic failure. Nobody I know is having a great time of it. If you have a job or a company you are making due with less and less every day. Competition is fierce and everyone is pushed to the edge.

The fact is this bankruptcy is the result of Amazon starving them out of business, just as Border’s and Barnes and Noble starved the small local stores out of business. It’s the evolution of this industry and it is changing quickly.

The real issue here is what is going to happen when B&N finally gives up? When there is no longer a “big box” store one can reliably visit and expect to find a good selection of books? A wide selection is precisely the reason why the big chains were successful to begin with, that and the discounts they were able to get through volume and pass along to the consumer—that was until Amazon came on the scene!

Will there be a resurgence of the small book stores? I doubt it. Most likely B&N will eventually reduce their retail “brick and mortar” presence to only the most profitable stores and then devote serious energy to compete online but they are way, way behind now. Like any “Johny Come Lately” they can only hope to gain less than 40% of the online retail market. It’s been proven time and time again with Coke / Pepsi, McDonald’s / Burger King, Toyota / Nissan, you get the idea…

Less competition means Amazon will be able to dictate what authors and publishers can earn. The effects of an ‘Amazon only’ book buying option for many indie publishers is already being felt. While Amazon has opened the market to a lot of small indie publishers like myself, nibbling at our offerings and allowing us to survive, they could at any moment take our hand off! There has been some push-back yes, and Amazon, being wary of bad publicity, has moved to quell fears by changing things like their commission on e-books. Though I think that move was once again a calculated play to starve competition, gain control of market share, and subsequently assert ownership of the e-book market—they have a big head-start.

Sadly, Border’s Chapter 11 filing isn’t good news for the publishing industry.

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How to Keep Warm Walking Dogs and Other Issues Like Seasonal Affective Disorder

Feb 02 2011

While the upper Midwest and the Northeast is being battered by one soul-crushing snow storm after another I am given to wonder how other professional dog walkers in the northern climes are dealing with the cold and the snow.

Please take a moment and consider contributing your secrets to keeping your sanity sanguine and your fingers from freezing off. How are you dealing with getting into and out of your clients unploughed driveways? How are you dealing with the little dogs and unploughed sidewalks?

What gear are you using? What do you recommend and why?

Finally, does anyone suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and do you find that being outdoors for much of the day helps your condition?

Please feel free to post your comments below!

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Oh, those NYC Dog Walkers!

Jan 06 2011

Dogs, poop, and busy-bodies… Eileen and I will be heading to NYC for a weekend of fur-filled research. We’ll be interviewing dog owners and dog walkers in the Big Apple for an upcoming book. We are expecting some lively discussions!

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Amazon is Down.

Dec 28 2010

The Tuesday after Christmas and the online retail giant is overwhelmed by shoppers looking to stock up on ebooks and sale items. There are probably a healthy number of returns to process as well. Don’t forget, if you are looking for our ebook in Kindle Format, you can find it on or Looking forward to the new year!

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Kroger recalls pet food, possible health risks |

Dec 20 2010

According to Kroger, the company who is issuing the recall, the following products may contain aflatoxin:

Pet Pride Cat Food, Pet Pride Tasty Blend Poultry & Seafood Cat Food, Pet Pride Kitten Formula Food, Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food, Kroger Value Cat Food, and Kroger Value Chunk Dog Food.

The full article can be found here: Kroger recalls pet food, possible health risks |

Anyway, I do not recommend these foods. The food is inexpensive, yes, but then again so is McDonald’s and most of us don’t eat that every single day for obvious reasons, not least of which is our health and well-being. This recall only serves to reinforce that opinion. A great alternative for dry kibble would be Solid Gold, California Natural, or Innova.

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