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by HillNow.com — July 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm 0

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Pearl Steckler snuggles with Diesel during one of his in-home boarding stays

This sponsored column is written by Saving Grace Petcare owner Grace Steckler and Bonny King-Taylor, director of training and communication at Saving Grace Petcare. Visit www.savinggracepets.com and let us know how we can support you.

It’s 9 a.m. I am working at my home office desk while Uma the bulldog sleeps by my feet. She is a noisy puddle and her snores are making me laugh as I try to help a walker who has stepped in to pick up a key.

She arrived at 7:30 a.m. this morning, dragging her owner up the front steps of our house as if we hadn’t seen each other in years. The truth is, she has spent many weekends with our family, soaking up the love and … don’t tell them we said so … not really missing her people until she sees them again!

During the day, she follows me around, well, like a puppy! Upand down the steps, into the yard, around the corner to mail a letter. She spends a lot of time attending to backyard pee-breaks and snoozing in a cozy dog bed under the tree where she can keep an eye on me, while bird and squirrel watching.

4 p.m. rolls around and my kids burst in from school: running to shower her with kisses. “Uma, UMA! echoes through the house and her tail wags so hard, it looks like it might fall off!

The kids love her so much that they even take turns sleeping on the floor to cuddle with her
every night.

When the week is over, Uma barks to let us know that her family is coming to get her. She leaps for joy to see them, and gets plenty of last minute ear rubs from us on the way out.

Once on the other side of the door, she looks back as if to say, “Four paws up! I will definitely recommend you to my friends. The biscuits were yummy and the hugs were great. Thanks for having me. See you again soon!”

Uma, and hundreds of pets like her on Capitol Hill have enjoyed what we call, “Camp Saving Grace” like this, staying with one of our care providers as if they were our own pets. In fact, we take their comfort and safety so seriously, that we only do in-home boarding.

Whether you prefer our model, or commercial boarding, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Whenever possible, go with an established boarding provider, with a track record for quality care. What the spur-of-the-moment boarders offer in convenience cannot make up for inexperience and being mostly on their own if something goes wrong. Without support systems and oversight in place, they cannot provide the level of security your pet deserves.
  • Visit the boarder’s home in advance. Eliminate surprises by visiting the home of your boarding provider a week or two beforehand. Your doggie can sniff around the house and acclimate to the new smells before the big (sometimes emotionally-charged) departure day.
  • Make sure you provide everything your pet needs to be comfortable and happy. Portion out meals and medications, make sure your equipment: ID tags, leash, harness, bed, bowls, travel crate, toys, blanket, brush, etc., are in good working order.
  • Update your client profile. If you are using a pet sitting service with an online scheduling portal, update your contact information and feeding instructions, select a veterinary clinic, and make sure you have the names and numbers of two local contacts who can help in an emergency. Consider printing this information and handing it to your pet’s boarding provider.
  • Limit treats and extra food on drop-off day. The change of location can initially be stressful for a pup; let the boarding provider get off to a great start and treat your dog after you’ve said goodbye.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if your plans change, be sure to let your boarding provider know FIRST. That way, you can go about problem solving knowing your pet is safe, and we can adjust our own schedules.

Preparations like this help us to provide the quality of care Uma loves!

Pet-Wise Action Box

Finding a great pet-life balance when you are busy with work, family and social obligations can be tough. Busy people need all the help they can get and Saving Grace Petcare is here to help you navigate the urban, professional environment across the 20002 and 20003 zip codes.

We’ve learned a thing or two during our 16 years of caring for thousands of every kind of pet you can imagine. In Pet-Wise each week, we will share tips, tricks, behavioral and product recommendations, book reviews and sweet stories about life with pets in the Capitol Hill, Hill East, NoMa and Brookland neighborhoods.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.

by HillNow.com — July 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Pet-Wise photo for July 5

This sponsored column is written by Bonny King-Taylor, director of training and communication at Saving Grace Petcare. Visit www.savinggracepets.com and let us know how we can support you.

You hear it all the time, “It’s not the heat…it’s the humidity” when our neighbors complain about D.C. summers.

For our furry friends, the discomforts and dangers of summer weather go much further. It’s the heat, the humidity, direct sun, the air pressure, the asphalt, the sidewalks, hot metal, pests, parasites and pretty much everything associated with what we consider fun in the sun.

The truth is, your pet’s cooling system is notoriously poorly designed. Even short-haired dogs and cats suffer outdoors.

For instance, people tend to think of paw pads as equivalent to shoe leather. In one way, that thought makes sense because critters don’t wear shoes, right? However, it does not take into account that fact that paw pads contain hundreds of veins, very close to the surface of the skin. These veins carry blood and fluids from the heated ground, directly to the heart. And, since dogs perspire only through the tongue and between the paw pads, that heated fluid doesn’t get much chance to cool down before causing the entire body to heat up quickly.

Heat stroke can result, so the #1 rule is: If the street is too hot for YOU to walk on without shoes, your dog should not either!

Always provide plenty of water and shade and consider leaving your pets indoors while you are running errands or eating in an outdoor café.

If you do have to take your dog with you, please NEVER leave him or her in the car. Not even for a minute with the window cracked. A car is a magnified oven and your dog simply cannot defend against the heat.

You might consider a portable cooling pad.

While out, be on the lookout for these symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Increased heart rate (Normal=puppy/120-160, 30lbs or less/100-140, 30lbs or more/60-100)
  • Excessive panting (Normal is 10-30 breaths per minute up to 200 pants per minute)
  • Increased and/or thick drool
  • Bright red tongue & gums or very pale gums
  • Depression, lethargy, weakness, or disorientation (stumbling)
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (sometimes with blood)

As heatstroke progresses, it can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death.

As soon as you see the signs of heatstroke:

Remove the dog from the hot area immediately. Once in a cool place, lower his temperature by placing wet towels over the back of the neck, under the forelimbs, and in the groin area. If possible, increase air movement around him with a fan. (Do NOT apply water in humidity.)

Be careful to use room temperature water. Cooling too quickly and especially allowing his body temperature to become lower than 103° (normal is 100° to 102°) can put the dog into shock or worse.

Transport the dog to his veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if the dog appears to be recovering, he should still be examined for dehydration or other complications.

Resist the temptation to force water into the dog’s mouth. This could cause aspiration and/or choking. Allow free access to water if the dog wants to drink on his own.

Prevention is key

  • Keep pets with predisposing conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful.
  • Breeds with short brachial systems: Pug, Bulldog, Pekinese, Boxer, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua should be kept out of heat a much as possible.
  • Do NOT wet dogs down in high humidity. The excess water will heat up, making things worse!
  • Walk in the shade and on grass as much as possible.
  • When the temperature is over 90° or 80% humidity, reduce the time outside to no more than 15 minutes.
  • When returning home, guide the dog to a cool area of the house.
  • Take care of yourself! You are your dogs’ best defense. Hydrate, shade yourself, strategize and be alert

Finding a great pet-life balance when you are busy with work, family and social obligations can be tough. Busy people need all the help they can get and Saving Grace Petcare is here to help you navigate the urban, professional environment across the 20002 and 20003 zip codes.

We’ve learned a thing or two during our 16 years of caring for thousands of every kind of pet you can imagine. In Pet-Wise each week, we will share tips, tricks, behavioral and product recommendations, book reviews and sweet stories about life with pets in the Capitol Hill, Hill East, NoMa and Brookland neighborhoods.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.

by HillNow.com — June 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm 1 Comment

Fireworks

This sponsored column is written by Bonny King-Taylor, director of training and communication at Saving Grace Petcare. Visit www.savinggracepets.com and let us know how we can support you.

According to the American Humane Society, July 5 is the busiest day of the year in animal shelters.

Frantic pets can exert amazing strength and strategy to escape the noise and confusion caused by fireworks, banging pans and the other explosive parts of our Independence Day celebrations. They’re strongest impulse is to get away from what they perceive as a threat, so they’ll “Houdini” out of crates, jump fences, slip through doors and end up on the street, alone and afraid.

You can help your dog by reducing any possibility of escape:

  • Do NOT take your dog to outdoor events of any kind, not even backyard picnics.
  • Take your last evening walk before 6 p.m.
  • Limit your dog’s range by using a covered crate in a cool, dark and quiet place.
  • If a crate is not available, make a bathroom or pantry as comfortable as possible (extra blankets and pillows that you won’t mind being torn up can help).
  • Provide plenty of water and a limited amount of super high value treats in distracting devices like frozen Kongs and interactive games. (An upset stomach either from stress or gobbled food during a stressful time can lead to a mess.)
  • Instruct guests to be very careful with doors and windows and to leave a stressed dog alone.
  • Be sure your dog wears identification, even while in the house.

You might also consider using a calming product like Rescue Remedy or DAP that can help take the edge off the assault on your dog’s acute hearing.  These products are known to help with separation anxiety, crate stress and general sensory sensitivity, but should only be counted on for minor help during the extreme stress of the holiday.

Use every effort to remove any physical dangers first!

We hope you never need this information, but if the worst occurs and your pet is lost, contact the District’s 311 non-emergency number to be connected with an Animal Control officer and call the Humane Society at 202-BE-HUMANE (202-234-8626) for support.

Take a moment to get connected with an organization like Lost & Found Dogs DC  for a comprehensive plan. The better prepared you are, the less likely you will ever need their help!

In a future column, we’ll give you the best tips for helping a lost dog.

In the meanwhile, tell us in the comments what you do to keep your pets calm during loud times like the 4th, or during thunderstorms?

Finding a great pet-life balance when you are busy with work, family and social obligations can be tough. Busy people need all the help they can get and Saving Grace Petcare is here to help you navigate the urban, professional environment across the 20002 and 20003 zip codes.

We’ve learned a thing or two during our 16 years of caring for thousands of every kind of pet you can imagine. In Pet-Wise each week, we will share tips, tricks, behavioral and product recommendations, book reviews and sweet stories about life with pets in the Capitol Hill, Hill East, NoMa and Brookland neighborhoods.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.

Pet-Wise: Rain

by HillNow.com — June 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm 1 Comment

Pet-wise rain

This sponsored column is written by Bonny King-Taylor, director of training and communication at Saving Grace Petcare. Join the love-fest by visiting www.savinggracepets.com and letting us know how we can support you.

After the crazy, wet spring we’ve had, it looks like we have a few more storms on the horizon.

Rain is inevitable, and all dog owners need to be prepared. Wet days are no excuse to keep a dog cooped up indoors. Don’t be the cause of the disappointment in your dog’s eyes when denied the best part of their day outside: sniffing, exploring and catching up on the neighborhood pee-mail.

All dog-owners should own a good raincoat and boots for themselves. Fumbling with an umbrella and a leash (and possibly a bag of poop) is neither safe nor enjoyable. The best rain jackets have sleeves more suited to a gorilla’s arms than a human’s. This feature provides extra protection in the case of lost gloves or other emergency as hands can be tucked up inside the sleeves. A savvy dog walker will pull leash and hands inside the sleeve of the jacket, keeping them both warmer and drier.  And, if your leash doesn’t dry quickly enough, try one of these.

Dogs can also benefit from a rain coat. Keeping a dog’s undercoat dry is vitally important during stretches of wet weather. Without a blow dryer, it can take the undercoat several hours to dry, just in time for the next trip outside. Damp fur can make a dog susceptible to bacterial and fungal skin infections.

What to do if your dog won’t wear one?  Let them shake! A dog can remove 70 percent of the water from it’s fur in just four seconds simply by shaking. Stand nearby with a towel ready to work at paws, legs and (gently) ears.

Rain is fun! Think back and try to remember a time in childhood when a rainy day elicited happy cries of anticipation instead of groans of frustration. Remember jumping in puddles and floating sticks down storm drains and streams. Recapturing some of that childlike spirit can help to encourage you to spend longer outside when it’s wet. Rain releases a subtle fragrance called petrichor from the earth, making the walk more pleasant for both you and your scent-sensitive pup and that’s a win-win.

So next time Mother Nature decides to give us a shower, put on your gear (here are some more ideas), take a deep cleansing breath, and head outside. You’ll be giving a gift to both yourself and your dog!

Finding a great pet-life balance when you are busy with work, family and social obligations can be tough. Busy people need all the help they can get and Saving Grace Petcare is here to help you navigate the urban, professional environment across the 20002 and 20003 zip codes.

We’ve learned a thing or two during our 16 years of caring for thousands of every kind of pet you can imagine. In Pet-Wise each week, we will share tips, tricks, behavioral and product recommendations, book reviews and sweet stories about life with pets in the Capitol Hill, Hill East, NoMa and Brookland neighborhoods.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.

by HillNow.com — June 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm 0

Saving Grace Petcare

This sponsored column is written by Bonny King-Taylor, director of training and communication at Saving Grace Petcare. Join the love-fest by visiting www.savinggracepets.com and letting us know how we can support you.

You know them; the people who are super busy, but who somehow manage to be completely guilt free when it comes to leaving their pets at home during the day, or when they go away for business or pleasure.

They love us because, at every stage of life from puppy to elder pee breaks, they know we will be there for their furry, feathered and finned family members.

They show their love through our stellar Yelp! reviews and word-of-mouth referrals. We return that love by providing calm, caring and quality petcare focused on each pet’s particular needs, during upwards of 200 visits on any weekday, across holidays and around the clock.

And, just like in any healthy love affair, we are happiest when you are happy!

That means being wise about the fact that we aren’t the perfect fit for every pet. We work best with dogs who are friendly with . . . or at least tolerant of . . . other dogs, and with other creatures who don’t mind us being in their space. That discernment has helped us to serve thousands of pets who welcome us as members of their own families.

We like to spread love throughout the neighborhood via:

  • The increased socialization of group walks (with up to three pack buddies).
  • stress-free, in-home boarding.
  • overnight stays where a care provider settles in with your creature in the most comfortable place of all, your home!

Grace Steckler, the “Grace” in Saving Grace Petcare, left 12 years in a convent teaching high school biology with a dream in her heart. She wanted to make the world a better place through a vocation that did not include early morning alarm clocks or nylon stockings. She hoped to support busy people like you, so she strapped on a pair of sneakers, grabbed a leash and began walking the beautiful streets of Capitol Hill with your neighbor’s dogs.

Since 2010, she has grown the business from 12 to nearly 50 care providers and 3 franchises from the river north to NoMa and Brookland and from Hill East to the Navy Yard.

Along the way, the company has learned what makes pets happy and how to help them live healthy lives in our bustling, urban environment. Since we have that long-term wisdom, now you do too!

Finding a great pet-life balance when you are busy with work, family and social obligations can be tough. Busy people need all the help they can get and Saving Grace Petcare is here to help you navigate the urban, professional environment across the 20002 and 20003 zip codes.

We’ve learned a thing or two during our 16 years of caring for thousands of every kind of pet you can imagine. In Pet-Wise each week, we will share tips, tricks, behavioral and product recommendations, book reviews and sweet stories about life with pets in the Capitol Hill, Hill East, NoMa and Brookland neighborhoods.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.

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