We love our dogs and want nothing but the best for them, but the fact remains that we cannot always be there to take care of them. One of the problems that come with pet ownership is what to do when we are away, working long hours,
on vacation, or out of town for some other reason. Canine companionship brings so much satisfaction, enrichment, and
love to our lives that we don’t want to leave our friend with just anybody. Of course, there are many options available. Boarding kennels, vet clinics, dog daycares, in-home pet sitters, and house sitters are each very different. Exploring the pros and cons of each will help you decide which option is best for your dog.
Boarding kennels are an adequate low-cost option for dogs who aren’t very high maintenance or nervous, but if you adopted from a shelter a kennel might not be the best choice. Boarding at your vet is a great choice if your dog has a high-risk medical problem, like diabetes, but most vets don’t offer much space in the boarding cages, and of course if your dog is afraid of the vet then this would not be for you. Dog daycare is great for friendly, playful dogs. They will be so pre-occupied and tired they probably won’t even miss you until you pick up, especially if they regularly attend daycare. However, older and nervous dogs probably won’t appreciate the noise, and with no overnight care and some really long nights, this is not for everyone.
In-home visits are a better choice for older or shyer dogs if your dog doesn’t mind spending most of their time alone.
This is one of the more expensive choices since your pet sitter will spend much of the job driving to and from your house. A house sitter is a better choice if you don’t mind handing over your house to someone else while you are away. The biggest problem is finding someone reliable you can trust and who will always be available when you need them. Friends and family are probably the most used option. After all, it’s free, your dog knows them, and you can get a hold of them whenever you want for updates. There are only a couple of problems with using friends and family for your pet sitting needs. You might be worried about taking advantage of their generosity, or maybe you’re just not confident in
their ability to care for your dog.
Homebody Hounds pet service is basically the same as leaving your pet with friends or family, but maybe even better (if we do say so ourselves). We have over 6 years’ experience pet sitting from our home, and another 10 before that working in various pet care facilities, including vet clinics, boarding kennels, dog daycares, training, and grooming facilities. The price is competitive considering the caliber of service and attention your pet will receive, and we are always available to send you pics and updates. We will follow your feeding and exercise schedule and share our home with your dog as if they are our own.
Real Testimonials for Homebody Hounds:
My dog is so happy here she doesn’t even seem to miss me when I’m gone. It’s great to know she’s getting just as much loving while I’m away as she does at home. The peace of mind that gives me makes my vacations even more enjoyable. ~Samantha E.
The B boys love Heather and their first stay at Homebody Hounds’! Thank you for all the great care and love you provide my boys when I can’t be with them! ~Susan G.
It is always a challenge to leave our dog with a pet sitter. Heather is a pro at getting information about your pet prior to their stay. We enjoyed getting pics as well while we were away. We felt he was well cared for and look forward to connecting with her again for our dog Quincy. ~Gayle M.
To book your reservation or inquire about availability, please visit our reservations page!
My very first dog job experience was in a large boarding kennel 16 years ago. Two weeks into the job I came to work bright and early. We started opening the chutes to let the dogs out into their runs to go potty, and I heard my friend call to me from across the hall. By the look on her face, I knew something was very wrong. Laying on its cot was a young golden retriever, Skyler, who had apparently passed away during the night. It was devastating. Later my manager explained bloat to us. I had never heard the term before.
The weather is getting nicer, and with so much time spent outdoors with our dogs, we become more aware of the dangers around us. We test our dogs for heartworm disease and intestinal parasites; we spend hundreds on prescription and over-the-counter preventatives for fleas and ticks. But most people don’t think too much about bloat prevention. Some dog owners don’t even know what it is, yet it is the second most common cause of death in some breeds.
What is Bloat?
Gastric dilation, more commonly referred to as bloat, is when a dog’s stomach becomes twisted and bloated due to an excess of gas. The twisting makes it impossible for food or gas to escape, and the pressure slows down or cuts off blood supply to other vital organs. Bloat happens relatively quickly, and in cases where the condition goes unnoticed or untreated, the risk of death is 100%.
What are the Risk Factors?
If you have a dog with a large barrel chest, such as a Great Dane or St. Bernard, your vet has likely educated you on the risk factors, signs, and symptoms. What worries me is that not all dogs fit the typical description, and most people do not know the first thing about it. Besides deep chests, other risks include overeating or eating too quickly, eating or drinking immediately before or after exercise, eating higher fat foods and dry foods (since they expand in the stomach), nervousness or anxiety, gulping water, and old age.
Working in kennels for years, I saw dogs in a more anxious state than they are at home. Besides Skyler, I have seen several larger, deep-chested dogs suffer from bloat, as well as a little cocker spaniel mix. In every case after Skyler, we knew what to look for and were able to get the dogs to the vet alive. Unfortunately, this condition progresses very quickly, so the dogs were not always able to be saved.
While some of the risk factors cannot be avoided, when possible, the best way to battle bloat is through prevention. Here are some things you can do to lower your dog’s chances of getting bloat:
Feed several smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal.
Add water to your dog’s food and allow it to soak in before they eat so the food won’t expand in the stomach, or
Use a slow-feed bowlto keep your dog from swallowing too much air gulping down food.
Wait until your dog is breathing normally after exercise before offering food or water.
Only leave your dog with people who know not to exercise your dog directly before or after eating, who are familiar with the signs of bloat, and where you are confident your dog will be made to feel comfortable.
What are the Signs to Watch For?
Bloat quickly leads to shock, so if your dog is legitimately experiencing gastric dilation, there will be unmistakable signs that something is wrong. Your dog may be very still, standing solid, drooling with his head down. Of course, the most evident sign of bloat is a hard, swollen stomach.
What To Do If It Happens to Your Dog?
Gastric Dilation is, in no uncertain terms, a medical emergency. If you think your dog is experiencing bloat, get to a vet that can handle it as quickly as possible. In Rochester, we are lucky to have Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services, open 24 hours filled with all kinds of amazing professionals. If your vet can’t see you right away, immediately go to the emergency vet at 825 White Spruce Blvd, across from MCC in Henrietta. With prompt treatment, there is a good chance your dog can be saved.
It had been a rough six months. All 3 of our senior dogs, ages 16, 16, and 14, passed away within a few months of each other due to cancer and other old age ailments. My normally dog-filled home had become a very lonely place. Even pet sitting was at a lull. It was still early, but it was just too hard. I needed to adopt a dog.
I started checkingPetfinder, as well asLollypop Farm, and Rochester Animal Services on Verona Street. I was looking for an older black shepherd mix only because that was what two of my last best friend dogs were. Their personalities were nothing alike, so I wasn’t looking to replace my actual dog or anything crazy. I just missed them and I thought it might be a little easier to have a similar looking dog around.
The closest I found to that description was a medium-haired black lab mix, but he was gone the very next day. My second choice was an Akita mix, but it turned out he was people aggressive out of his cage, which is not a great personality trait for a 90-pound dog. Then a Bull Terrier named Chunk caught my eye.
Chunk’s paperwork said he was 2 years old, and I only adopt senior mutts… but he sat so nicely in his cage. He showed zero of the anxiety or aggression I have seen in the few other Bull Terriers I have come across in my life. He only came forward from his cot when we called him over from a crouched position and he seemed to have the sweetest, goofiest personality, but without being out of control. The shelter employees said he did great with other dogs on his behavior evaluation, which was my number one priority, being a pet sitter and all.
Once my boyfriend met him the decision was made. I should mention that Bryan did not want another dog yet at all, and was against my even looking, but nobody could stay strong after meeting Chunk. The shelter staff loved him. They said he got more walks than anyone. Since I have a ton of dog experience through work and rescue and run my own pet sitting business, everyone was excited that he was getting adopted by such a great owner. I had a lot to live up to!
On August 12th, as soon as his stray hold was up, I went to Rochester Animal Services and adopted Chunk. We renamed him “August.” He had an exciting departure. Everybody there was super excited to watch him go.
But, as soon as we got out the door He. Was. Awful.
He had no clue how to act on a leash. He pulled hard as I tried to lead him to the car. I somehow managed to get the back door opened to my Prius as he yanked his half-ton body in every other direction. They didn’t name him Chunk for nothing. He was a big boy and he was not getting in the car.
I tried all the key words… “Up, Up!” “Let’s go!” “Do you wanna go for a car ride?” I was speaking Greek. He had no idea what I was saying and had no desire to get into the car. He wouldn’t so much as look at the treat I brought to bribe him. He was too distracted by the outside world and it was too hot to walk him long enough to calm him down. I grabbed ahold of him and tried thrusting him up into the car, but between his weight, round girth, and stubbornness, he just slid back out, panting and excited, still not knowing who the heck I was or what was going on.
As he backed away I could see the harness begin to edge up his neck and I knew I had to act fast or he was going to pull out of it. I cursed myself for not taking the time to properly adjust the new harness to his body. He was moving too frantically. There was no way to loosen the leash or get behind him in time, and I watched in panic as the harness slipped over his head and he went free.
My heart sank. I had him 3 minutes and I already lost him. ‘Good thing he found such an amazing owner! Wow, do I suck,’ I thought. I have never felt less competent than in that moment.
Luckily the parking lot was full and a car parked sideways slowed him down. I ran to him and threw my arms around his neck. I managed to straddle him between my legs long enough to wrap the leash around his neck and secure it to itself with the clasp. Ready for his stubbornness this time, and with the added security of the “slip lead,” I was able to clumsily heave him onto the floorboards of the backseat and close the door.
He was in the front before I was… on the front seat, on the floor, and back in the back. I was prepared for the sweet, calm, well-adjusted dog I had met inside the shelter. I had not thought to bring a crate for him, or a leash that could be tied to the handles in the car. I just had a harness and a flexi. Useless. I tried using my arm as a wall to keep him in the back, but he was a 60-pound bulldozer. “What arm?” said he, as he plowed through, nervously panting and shedding everywhere.
Every time it seemed he found a spot to relax, he would get right back up and move again. It was all I could do to keep him off my lap and from getting onto the floor of the drivers’ side. I knew it was going to be a long ride home, but it had to be done.
Just as we were entering the ramp onto 490, August finally decided to rest… on top of my gear shifter… pushing it
into neutral with his tank of a body. There was no moving him. My face pounded with embarrassment at the line of cars stuck behind me on the ramp. I turned on my hazards as I guided my car at a top speed of 15 into the stream of cars going 45 mph. Of course, the lane merged into the “fast” far left lane of traffic. I tried a few more times in vain to move the rock off of my gear shifter. When that didn’t work and I was safely in the lane, I turned off my hazards, flipped on my right indicator, and maneuvered my way through 3 lanes and into the right lane to exit at my next opportunity. Surprisingly, not a single car honked at us.
As I was finally exiting, the rock of a dog moved off the shifter and into the front seat. I pulled over into a restaurant parking lot to
breathe and text my boyfriend at work to let him know how awful his choice of dog was. Of course, Bryan found the whole thing
hilarious. I looked over at the little punk next to me who, still panting heavily, was giving me some serious side eye. My car’s seatbelt alert was beeping away. I reached over, pulled the seatbelt over August and clicked it into place. Shaking my head, I took a picture of our adorable new dog.
The next week was pretty much a nightmare. He peed in the house, destroyed dog beds, and chewed on our shoes. He thought the recycling bin was a toy box, and our limbs and hair were his preferred chew toys, much better than the plethora of real toys we had purchased just for him. A few times as I bent over to look for a ball or something under the couch, he took the opportunity to swiftly grab my entire ponytail with his mouth to play of tug-o-war.
On leash, he was out of control. Everything was so new he couldn’t decide which direction to go, so he would go in every direction at once, often taking out my legs in the process. He loved walking through 5 ft weeds, causing a tangled mess of grasses and leash. And, he was so out of shape he would decide to stop walking halfway home.
We had gotten ourselves into more than we bargained for. We needed a plan and a whole lot of patience.
First and foremost, we put Auggie on a healthy diet and made it a point to tire him out with daily hikes. When he didn’t get walked, he had a lot of pent up energy. Being stuck at home with all that energy, he got bored. When he got bored, he got destructive.
“We weren’t re-inventing the wheel.”
Dogs need walks. Besides bonding time, they need the focused exercise, and it gives them a chance to smell new smells and see new things. Auggie quickly calmed down and got used to walking on a leash. After two weeks of getting to know one another, we got his town dog license and registered for Monroe County Dog Parks. Now we socialize and exercise him Every. Single. Day.
We got a dog seatbelt to train him to stay in the backseat. We started working on simple commands, like “off,” “no,” “sit,” and “down,” and redirecting unwanted behaviors. Auggie is one of the most stubborn dogs I have ever met, but he likes food, so we were able to slowly learn to speak the same language. We watched his signals showing us when he had to go outside in order to start him on a feeding/potty schedule. We watched his signals when he was bored and getting into things, and used the opportunity to play with him and to figure out how much exercise he needs to be happy. We give him TONS of positive reinforcement whenever he is being good. We try our best to be thoroughly consistent so there is never any question whether we will give in if he just tries harder. We won’t.
It only took a couple of weeks from adoption for our household to adjust. He has completely stopped having accidents in the house. He rarely gets into anything anymore, but when he occasionally does grab a shoe he will listen when we tell him “no”. We don’t even need to crate him anymore and he is close to not needing the seatbelt anymore.
He’s definitely not perfect. He has his naughty days, but overall he’s pretty great. All it took was regular exercise and a whole lot of consistency so we could learn the same language without confusion or frustration. I am a strong believer that exercise and consistency will solve the vast majority of dog behavior problems, and Auggie has proven it to me even more. Dog owners have to put in the work if they want a well-behaved dog. We can’t blame the dog being brought into the foreign world.
We adopted August just 6 weeks ago and I can barely remember that dog I brought home with me from Verona Street.
Doing rescue I always told people to throw away any expectations and to be ready for an adjustment period. Dogs are not robots. They are not toys that can be thrown away if they don’t act the way we want them to. They each have their own personalities and idiosyncrasies, and to put our expectations on them based on our old dogs and other dogs we have known is completely unfair. It is just setting up, you and the dog, for failure.That is true no matter where you get your dog from.
August is unlike any dog I have ever met before and I have met a lot of dogs. He is not what I imagined my next dog would be, but I decided to love him from Day 1 and I am so glad I did. Having to work for it was so worth it.
It has been one hot summer. I am not complaining! I would much rather have this heat than deal with that nasty, four-letter s-word that rhymes with “woe”, and “foe”, and “just, no”. But, it gets boring just sitting inside in the a/c, and not everybody has the luxury of air conditioning. After seeing so many dog loving friends complain about my beloved heat, I was inspired to write a post on fun ways to keep the pups cool and happy this summer. Let us know some of your ideas in the comment section below!
5 Ways to Beat the Heat with Your Dog
1. Have Some At-Home Water Fun:
Doggy pools are a cheap and easy way for your dog to play without overheating.
You can pick up a cheap kiddie pool for about $10 at discount stores, or order one online for a few more bucks and stay in the a/c ’til it arrives.
There are many different styles to choose from, but I would stay away from inflatable pools for obvious reasons unless it’s specifically made for dogs. When I was the manager atWooftown Doggy Daycare, we had an inflatable pool made from raft material that stood up well.
Wooftown also uses a heavy-dutyPaw-Shaped Poolthat you can find on Amazon for $140. Sure it’s more expensive, but it is super cool, and it will last forever.
If your dog loves chasing water from a hose, try a sprinkler!
If you happen to have an empty 2-liter bottle and an extra spigot that fits your hose, you can easily make your own. Just punch a couple of holes in the bottle, hook it up to a spigot and the spigot to a hose, and voila.
Amazon also sells a really neat Train Sprinkler made from cast-iron metal, so it’s heavy duty, and travels along any hose placed in your yard like a track! It’s $60, but if it turns out your dog really loves sprinklers, this could be a whole lot of fun.
Is Your Dog Afraid of Water? Try a Mister!
You will really enjoy these, too. At Wooftown we had self-standing misters. Some of the dogs would sit down in front of them and just soak it up. I would, too! I’m not sure where we got them… possibly Home Depot?
Amazon sells flexible misters for under $10. You just wind it around a tree, post, chair or table leg, hook it up to your hose, and watch your dogs play while a gentle mist keeps you and your pooches cool. It’s a ruff life.
We have so many amazing dog-friendly parks in upstate, NY it’s hard to decide on where to go sometimes.
Stony Brook in Dansville is my favorite. It is about an hour from Rochester, but totally worth the drive, especially if your car has air conditioning.Grimes Glen in Naples is my second favorite for wading in gorge-ous running water (get it?), but that is also an hours drive.
Mertensia Park in Farmington is a nice compromise. Mud Creek, hence the name, isn’t quite as clean and clear as the former options, but it’s still pretty fun for the pooches.
Ellison Park has a nice shady stream area by the bridge where you can take your dog to play on-leash. Now that they have the super-regimented dog park there, the stream stays fairly quiet and uninhabited. Or register your dogs and go off-leash at the dog park!
If you do join Monroe County Dog Parks and have not already become a member ofPet Savers Responsible Dog Owners Club, keep your receipt and fill out an application. You can read about the benefits when you get to #4 below.
What are some of your favorite watery hikes in the area? Share them in the comment section below or send us an email telling us where you would like us to take your dog while they are here with us!
3. Make Some Frozen Treats For Your Favorite Friend:
When the weather is warm, substitute your usual treats for frozen treats.
Freeze broth in an ice cube tray and serve the cubes in a no-spill dog bowl for your dog to enjoy. If you don’t want to put anything but water in your ice cube trays, Kong makes a kit that comes with a tray and several flavors.
Many dogs like to eat plain ice cubes, too. A useful trick we use at Homebody Hounds is to put ice cubes in a fresh bowl of water to encourage some dogs that don’t really like to drink.
If you have several dogs that like to share food, try greasing a bowl and filling it with broth and other dog treats. Once it’s frozen, turn the bowl upside down on a plate for several dogs to share at once. This one I would serve outside because it can get messy as it melts.
We also like to stuff Kongs with peanut butter and freeze them to occupy dogs with separation anxiety when we have to leave them alone to pick up or drop off other dogs. It’s a big hit!
4. Take a Ride to the Air-Conditioned Pet Store:
We use Pet Saver because of their PetSaver Club. If you haven’t been there, here is how it works:
For every dollar you spend, you will earn 5 points. But, twenty-twobrands, like Natural Balance, Nature’s Variety, and Wellness, offer double the points. 22! And Pet Saver only stocks quality foods, so you really can’t go wrong. I am not getting paid to say this, folks.
So, we were sold on the points program, especially since they aren’t more expensive than other stores, and each of their three stores are owned locally… but then we learned about their Responsible Pet Owners Program (mentioned earlier), which made us love them even more!
We recently adopted a dog from Rochester Animal Services on Verona Street in the city. I will do my best to not gush over Auggie right now. We are completely in love and he is the perfect mascot for Homebody Hounds. He ADORES other dogs! Anyway, if you adopt a pet from a shelter, spay or neuter a pet, enroll in a training class or join Monroe County Dog Parks, once a year you are eligible to apply for this program. They give you a $10 gift certificate and tons of awesome coupons for things like dog food, treats, toys, bedding, and even a free engraved tag and self-dog wash.
So, back to what I was saying, one way to keep cool this summer is to make a visit to Pet Saver, buy some frozen treats, and drive home in the a/c to enjoy them. Your dog will love it and you can earn free money.
5. Bathe that Stinky Dog:
Okay, so I know most dogs aren’t crazy about baths but have you ever seen a dog unhappy AFTER the bath? They feel so good! And really, dogs get pretty dirty in the summer, especially if they’re off swimming in creeks and romping in a muddy yard with a dog pool.
An alternative is to just wet down a towel and give your dog the best part of bath time without the bath… the towel dry rub down!
It will help cool them down and give them a great full body scratch all at once. You can also just drape the wet towel over their head and play “The Ghost of Fido.” Heh
What are some ways you have been keeping your dogs cool this summer? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Have you ever known a deaf dog? Was she white? Did he have blue eyes? Was she the most attentive dog you’ve ever met? I have never met a deaf dog I didn’t love, and I can only imagine everyone else feeling the same way. Here are a few facts about white dogs with congenital deafness:
White dogs with congenital deafness were not born deaf.
The deafness actually develops in the first few weeks after birth while the ear canal is still closed. Pigment producing cells are also responsible for blood flow to the ears. Lack of oxygenated blood causes nerve cells in the cochlea to die, leading to permanent deafness. 1
Not all white dogs are white.
Dogs lacking the pigmentation gene are also lacking pigmentation in their skin. Dogs with “white” fur, black noses, and black rimmed eyes are not lacking pigmentation. Their fur is actually a very light buff color, appearing white to our eyes. This is why we don’t see congenitally deaf Samoyeds or Westies. 4
In some breeds, dogs with blue eyes and a white coat are twice as likely to be deaf.
Both eye color and coat color are linked to pigmentation genes. White coats are associated with lack of skin pigmentation, and blue eyes are the result of lack of pigment in the iris 2
Dalmatians are affected by the deaf gene more than any other dog.
30% are deaf in at least one ear. And one out of two Dalmatians with blue eyes are deaf. 3
Due to lack of skin pigmentation, deaf dogs are more likely to sunburn.
Those with pink noses and short coats are especially susceptible. Gentle sunblock for babies or sensitive skin are generally safe for dogs, but there are sunblocks made specifically for dogs as well. 5
Deaf dogs are not necessarily harder to train!
Just like with people, their other senses are enhanced. The deaf dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing are very in tune to their people. They make a lot more eye contact to look for cues, and easily learn hand gestures and body language. 6
Maybe that last fact is what makes deaf dogs so special? Eye contact is seen as an act of dominance by most dogs, but deaf dogs seem to embrace it, creating a more “human” experience for us. The next time you see a white-coated, blue-eyed beauty, wait for eye contact and give him a soft blink or two. We can all use a little more connection in our lives.