Posts filed under Services

Housesitting

You know that sad look your pup gets when you pull out the suitcase? How about that excited dance they do when we pull up to take them to the park, but to their surprise, end up moving in for a few days.... Travel doesn't have to be bad news for your pup - Chris and I are both available for housesitting! Here are a few reasons why you want ballwalkpark to move in next time you head out of town:

 We have a good time! 

We have a good time! 

Good for your pup:

  • Dogs are creatures of habit, they love routine. Staying in their home, with familiar sights, sounds and smells. Everyone likes the comfort of their own home, right?
  • Daily routine is uninterrupted - your pup will be going to the park, with the same pups and same people that he/she is used to. We do our best to keep the routine at home as similar to yours as possible with feeding and walk times.  
  • Exposure to disease and stressful situations are minimized. Going somewhere with a number of new dogs is fun at first, but it can become very stressful, especially for longer stays.  
  • Your pup will be smothered with love and attention and will have our full attention. We have so much fun with the pups at the park, but getting to know them in their home environment and being able to cuddle with them on the couch is really a treat for us!  
  • Extra:  I have found that over the years, the dogs that I housesit for behave entirely different around me afterwards. Spending time one on one, outside of the park environment, allows for a completely different kind of bond that makes training and working with your pup on a daily basis much more effective, which benefits everyone!  

 Vacation should be relaxing for everyone!  

Vacation should be relaxing for everyone!  

Good for you: 

  • You don't have to worry about letting us know about your dogs little quirks and things that may come up during your trip - we already know your pup!  
  • Your home will be lived in and will deter any crime while you are gone. We bring in the mail, alternate lights, water plants, etc.  
  • Piece of mind knowing that your pup is in the hands of someone who loves them, knows them, and is going to provide plenty of pics while you're gone. (Confession: Michael and I have been known to request FaceTime sessions with our pups while we're gone....) 
  • You don't have to ask friends or family who may or may be unwilling or unprepared to properly care for your pup. Plus, you know that feeling when you ask someone for a favor then don't feel like you can really ask for what you want (i.e. FaceTime....)? This is our job, we love it and we are more than happy to do it! 
  • You can count on us. We are experienced professionals, certified in First Aid and CPR, and throughout our term of service, you have come to rely on and trust us with your pup already. 
  • Extra: I am a clean freak and genuinely enjoy spending the last day of my visit cleaning your house.... and I actually get excited about your cleaning products... Wouldn't expect that from a dog walker, huh?  

Details: 

  • Housesitting is available for current ballwalkpark clients only 
  • At this time, boarding is not available (but let me know of any Queen Anne rentals - we are in the market again!) 
  • Rate is $75/night (24 hour period)  - additional pets and/or medications may be extra
  • Non-refundable deposit of 25% is due at time of booking 
  • We do not job share (i.e. we do a couple days and your friend does the other) - our insurance company won't allow it due to liability.  
  • Holiday rates apply at an additional 100% for New Years Eve, New Years Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, an additional 50% for Memorial Day weekend (Fri-Mon), 4th of July, Labor Day Weekend (Fri-Mon), Thanksgiving (Th, F) 

 

We have dates on the books as far out as March right now, so if you have a trip coming up, let us know so we can get it on the books and one less thing for you to worry about as your trip approaches!   

 

Posted on October 31, 2013 and filed under Services.

Kelley-proofed house

A couple years ago I started walking two Vizslas, Miles and Oliver. Both dogs were picked up at Miles' house, where there were two small children, and the house was very childproofed. A couple weeks into our service, I went to pick up the dogs and the nanny wasn't home and the dogs were locked behind a baby gate in the kitchen. I spent a solid 10 minutes trying to figure out how to open the damn baby gate. I knew the baby gate was intended for the kids, not the dogs, because these dogs routinely jumped 4' fences at the dog park. It was actually their main way to enter and exit the park. So here I am, defeated by the baby gate, and trying to figure out what to do with these dogs. Knowing how much they like string cheese, and jumping over things, I decide my only option is to teach the dogs how to jump over the baby gate. It only took a few minutes and we were out the door.

Years later, I am housesitting at Miles' house and am still defeated by all of the child proofing things. Apparently child proof = Kelley proof. These baby gates, electrical plugs and cabinet thingys are way beyond me. Apparently teaching dogs agility on a whim isn't.

Honeymoon at the dog park

Every new dog park pup that I've taken has what I call a "honeymoon" period. At first they are calm, sweet, responsive, just perfect angels. It usually takes about 3 weeks for them to fully adjust, be comfortable, and come out of their shell. This is when their true colors shine and I see what kind of pup they really are. I love to see a new pup starting to play more, beat the other dogs to get the ball and just generally having fun! Here is Heidi on her first day:

20120822-103247.jpg

Here is Heidi 3 weeks later:

20120822-103335.jpg

20120822-110406.jpg

Ten tips for bringing home your new puppy

Did you or someone you know get a puppy for Christmas this year? Are you sitting with an adorable puppy snoozing away in your lap right now, wondering what exactly you are supposed to do with this thing for the next 10-15 years? That puppy breath with be gone before you know it, but don't worry, with my top ten tips to a new puppy you will be ready! 1. The first night: your puppy may very likely cry. I know it's heartbreaking, but you just have to let him cry it out. I suggest to set an alarm every 3 hours and get up and take him out to potty (you shouldn't have to do this more than the first few nights). You don't want to ignore a cry if he really has to go, but you also don't want to reward crying. Put a blanket, towel or sweatshirt in the crate that they can snuggle up with. I also like to put a warm water bottle (a Nalgene or some other hard plastic they can't chew) and also a clock with a second hand that ticks - these two things act like the warmth and heartbeat of his litter mates and can be very soothing.

2. Potty training is a full time job. Some puppies pick it up much easier than others - it can take 2 days or 2 months. As a general rule, take your puppy out to potty within a couple minutes of eating or drinking. Their little bodies are so tiny whatever goes in comes out almost instantaneously. When you go outside, wait until they go to come back in. If they try to play, ignore them. Use a command, I say "go potty", and use it consistently. After they go potty, praise them in your best cheerleader voice with love and treats. 

3. Socialize, socialize, socialize! According to Dr. Ian Dunbar, "as a rule of thumb, your puppy needs to meet at least a hundred people before he is three months old." (read more here). Socializing your puppy will play a huge role in determining your puppy's temperament for years to come and you only have about 4 weeks before the socialization window closes! This article talks about socialization with people mostly, but I think it is important to expose puppies to people, babies, sights, sounds, other dogs (as long as you know they are fully vaccinated and healthy), car rides, etc...  You can't socialize your puppy enough during this time and please believe me that you will be very glad you did in the long run. If you think I'm a little too excited about this socialization thing, maybe you can relate to this: excuses to not socialize your puppy.

4. Bite inhibition. Puppies like to bite, partly because they are exploring their world and biting is how they play with their siblings, and partly because they are teething. Those little puppy teeth can be needle sharp, but not nearly as painful as a grown dog, so now is time to teach them how to have a soft mouth. This is surely something you will go over in your puppy kindergarten class, but here is a great article to give you a head start.

{my life of dogs} when I was 9 our black lab had 11 puppies at our home. It was summer and I spent most of my dogs playing with the puppies. We have a hilarious home video of 11 puppies chasing me down the hill and I am screaming and running full speed to dive onto the hammock. My legs were full of bloody little scratches from the herd of puppies biting at my legs.

5. Puppy classes. Your puppy may be a very quick learner, he may have mastered "sit", "down" and "stay" at 9 weeks, but I still highly recommend a puppy class for these reasons: 1) the training is more for you than the pup, 2) it's great socialization and supervised play - it's easier to prevent behaviors than try to fix them later, and 3) you have a professional to answer all the questions that come up over those crucial 4-6 weeks - google has it's limits ;) Here are a couple I recommend:

Jeff Tinsley and Sound Animal Services

Paws 4 Training first week at home

6. Teething. Your pup isn't necessarily trying to be a troublemaker, he may be teething and actually be in pain! Try giving him an ice cube. Also, you get a rope toy wet, put it in the freezer overnight and let you pup work on that for a little numbing relief.

{my life of dogs} My lab, Bailey, used to love to push an ice cube around the hardwood floors and slowly gnaw on it.

7. Toy basket. If you are anything like me, the 2nd most exciting thing after getting a puppy (1st being the actual puppy of course...) is going on a dog toy shopping spree. Make sure to pick up a toy bucket or basket while you are at it. Only let you pup have three toys out at a time, and rotate them every couple days. If they are all laying out at once, your pup gets bored of them and can possibly think that everything on the floor (your shoes?) are fair game. 

8. Pet Insurance. I know, this may sound crazy, but this is essential. I hate to break it to you, but something, at some point, is going to happen with your puppy. Maybe they ate a lego and now aren't eating or pooping right, or maybe they get a cough, or who knows.... but it will happen, and you will feel a lot better about swiping your credit card knowing that you will be getting up to 90% of the bill back. I highly recommend it to all of my clients and every time they go to the vet they tell me how happy they are they have it. My favorite company is Healthy Paws Pet Insurance - use this link and save 10% off for life. Another great company is Trupanion - both are local!

 {my life of dogs} My fiance has a 9yr old German Shepard without insurance and he has spent over $20k on surgeries from eating socks, tire biter toys, etc.... Don't learn the hard way!

9. Keep a routine! Dogs are very routine based animals and they like things kept the way they are supposed to be. Routine will keep your puppy happy, so try to feed them, walk them and everything else as consistently as possible.

{my life of dogs} Bailey knows when I pick out my clothes whether we are going to play or I am going to do something out her. She dances or pouts accordingly.

10. Don't get overwhelmed! As I'm sure you are already aware, a puppy is a huge responsibility and a lot of work. It will get harder before it gets easier. It can be frustrating trying to communicate with a little pooping/peeing/chewing/barking/whining creature that just looks at you with that head tilt and puppy eyes after chewing your couch cushion. The time and commitment you put into this puppy will all be worth it one day. Bailey was one of the most stubborn trying puppies I've met to this day - but I consider her (and her faults) my biggest accomplishment and every day I look at her and am proud of how far we have come. If you need a hand, hire a dog walker! One of the services I provide at ballwalkpark are puppy visits - myself or Nancy comes over for a 20 minute visit and help reinforce potty training, provide socialization and play time, and help guide you through the stages of puppyhood. I also provide a puppy package that are two puppy visits a day - timed to be 3-4 hours apart so your puppy is never alone too long while you are at work. There are a lot of great dogwalkers in Seattle - set up consultations and make sure you are a good fit with your walker and it is someone you feel comfortable with.

Training a puppy can seem like dieting - there are hundreds of books and methods and opinions on how to teach the same thing. It can get really frustrating and if you try to take everyone's advice you will lose your mind. Figure out what works best for you and your puppy and stick with it - consistency is key. We are all a little different and so are our dogs - what works for one dog may not for another and there is nothing wrong with it.

And most importantly, take lots of pictures!!! Puppies grow up way too fast - capture these precious moments!

Meet Nancy

Meet Nancy Hutson, ballwalkpark's first official employee! Nancy has been helping me out with individual walks and puppy visits. She has raised and trained numerous dogs over the years with her family, mostly retrievers trained for hunting. The most recent addition to her family is Woody, a Jack Russell Terrier. Nancy has been dedicated to learning about the terrier breed and training Woody to be a wonderful little dog. She was very involved in training classes at Ahimsa and practices positive reinforcement with a never ending pocket of delicious treats. While I didn't intend to hire an employee, and wasn't looking for anyone, I am so grateful to have Nancy working with me and don't know what I would do without her. She is very knowledgeable about dogs, very good with them, and really understands and loves them.  She is the only woman I know who can host an 8 person BBQ with 9 full size dogs in attendance. Yes, that's right, we call it dog fest. Only a true dog person can hold an event outnumbered by dogs, while serving food, and love it :)

As you can probably already tell, Nancy was not a Craig's List hire, she is actually my best friend's mom, and someone I consider my second mom. We've called each other "Fr-om" (friend + mom) and "Fr-aughter" (friend + daughter) for nearly ten years. She married my best guy friend's dad when we were in high school, so my best girl friend and my best guy friend are now step-brother/sister. I have gone to more family holidays and events of theirs than my own in past years.

So there's the relationship - Nancy was leaving her job a few months ago and offered to help me out with walks. I was running with a pretty tight schedule with two park trips a day and really wanted to be able to provide individual walks and puppy visits for those clients who weren't going on park trips. I was delighted to have the help, especially from someone who I trust and respect as much as Nancy. People had been asking me for months when/if I was going to hire someone, and I kept saying that I just didn't see it happening because I didn't think I would be able to find anyone that cared about my dogs as much as I did, and was worried about trusting someone to take care of the pups to the high standard I expect and strive to provide. Nancy exceeds every hope and expectation.

One of the best things about having Nancy work with me is that she is able to provide walks with a more flexible schedule, which means not being rushed and just enjoying the walk. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbSrbd2W-Dg] She and Jambo, the adorable Golden Retriever puppy, have explored all over Queen Anne - they visit Highland drive on a nice day, stop by the pet store for treats and smell flowers in the neighborhood pea patch. On one of their walks a few weeks ago, Nancy made this adorable video of Jambo tromping down the streets, and put it to the song "Jambo #5". Now that's going the extra mile ;)

I am so lucky to have Nancy working with me and am proud to have her walking and taking care of any of ballwalkpark's clients. Her sidekick, Woody, is a great help too -providing a little canine companionship impromptu playtime on walks.

Thanks Nancy! ballwalkpark loves you :)

Posted on May 16, 2011 and filed under Services.

Bearer of the ring bearer

Today is a big day for ballwalkpark, and it is THE big day for Milkshake's proud parents, Ben and Lori. Why ballwalkpark? Ben and Lori have asked me to be Milkshake's "handler" and walk him down the aisle at their wedding -  he is the ring bearer! I am so honored to be a part of their big day and absolutely love that Milkshake is such a big part of their wedding! I was reading an article in The Bark magazine this month about dogs in weddings. Apparently 18% of dog owners include their pups in their wedding ceremony - I had no idea it was that common! In the article, the title of my role is apparently called the "bearer of the ring bearer" - so that it is!

Here's a quick preview of our day:

I am getting ready to take Milkshake and Chip (his best friend) to the park for several hours, to make sure he gets all of his puppy energy out! He needs to be on his best behavior today!

After the park, where they will inevitably be filthy, I am going to take Milkshake to Petapoluza where I can give him a bath. I am hoping this is relatively painless - Milkshake HATES getting sprayed off at the dog park. Either way, it must get done!

We will arrive at the W hotel this afternoon where Milkshake will get dressed up in his bow-tie and boutonniere and get ready for family pictures, etc. We have been working on sitting nicely when we meet people and instead of "shake", saying "nice to meet you". We'll see how this goes over with the excitement of the day!

After a couple run throughs, the big ceremony will commence! I can't wait to watch Lori walk down the aisle. Since the day I met this couple, almost a year ago, they have been absolutely glowing about their engagement and planning this wedding. When it becomes our turn, Milkshake and I will (hopefully) gracefully walk down the aisle. We are hoping for no pulling to greet guests (I'll be wearing heels, and he is a strong 2yr old lab!), and not freaking out when he sees his parents at the end of the aisle! We have already discussed worst case scenario though, I just let go of the leash and he trots down the aisle to greet his parents - will be sure to get a good laugh from the guests!

After the ceremony, Milkshake will make an appearance at the cocktail hour, do a lap or two, then he will wish his parents a wonderful honeymooon and come home to stay with me! Bailey and Bambi are getting a brother for a couple weeks :)

I will try to post some pics throughout the day, if not today, definitely soon after. We're off to the park to run off some of that energy!

Congrats Ben and Lori!!!