One of the great things about being a pet sitter and owning my own business is that no two days are ever the same. We have our share of daily visits to cats, dogs, and reptiles, but this week we were given the opportunity to care for two senior dogs and a senior cat. I have a soft spot in my heart for older animals, as we recently lost our 15-year old pug, Monty, and our 10-year old pug, Lulu. They were my most special pups and I miss them dearly. However, I thoroughly enjoy meeting with clients who have senior pets. There is something to be said for a pup or kitty who moves a little slower and has quite a bit of grey mixed into their fur. I met with Maddie’s owner a few days prior to the service dates, and my heart melted the second I saw her. What struck me was her sweet face and her eyes that shone not only experience and wisdom, but a spark of life, curiosity, and playfulness. However, Maddie’s spark was hindered by her 12-year old body. Her hips and hind legs slowed her down considerably, and there was a noticeable gate to her walk that limited her speed and the distance walked. That’s not to say, her mind and heart didn’t try though! Maddie is a beautiful girl who reminded me of the special bond between dogs and humans. I looked into her eyes and saw nothing but beauty and an inner peace. Taylor is a very special kitty, who like Maddie, is only limited to what she can do by her frail, tiny body. At 17-years old, one would think Taylor is well past her prime. However, this special calico is still curious, vocal, loving, and agile. Granted, Taylor is not able to do the things she used to, but her spirit is still very much intact. A gift to her owner when she was in the fifth grade, Taylor remains a steadfast companion to the owner who is now about to graduate from dental school. Taylor is a very special kitty who is well loved and cared for by her owner. The special bond between the two cannot be broken and will continue to endure even as they are about to start a new chapter in their lives together. We were also given the opportunity to care for another sweet pup who at the ripe age of nearly 17-years, was considered quite the daddy’s girl. Polly as she was known, was a beautiful dachshund who battled cancer and won, lived with Cushing’s disease, was blind and deaf, and was definitely secure with herself and her surroundings. Though she could not see nor hear, Polly definitely knew we were strangers to her home and followed us during the entire consult to ensure we didn’t step out of line. When we concluded the consult, we left knowing we were going to have a great time getting to know Polly and her parents. Unfortunately, I was notified a few days later that Polly took an unexpected turn for the worse. Polly’s parents had to make the unfortunate decision to relieve their poor girl from her suffering. It was a sad end for tough little dachshund with lots of spunk and attitude. In the time I’ve been writing a blog, I’ve found writing about puppies or kittens is easy. After all, there is so much energy and cuteness to talk about. From my perspective, however, writing about senior pups and kitties is just as easy due to the immensity of their personalities. As I cared for Maddie and Taylor, I often sat with them and petted and touch their soft fur. I looked into their gentle eyes and realized like a senior human, they are full of memories and experiences. They too were once puppies and kittens, but they have grown into beautiful and wonderful creatures who love their owners and the life which is theirs. Though they can’t always get around easily or they may suffer from ailments unknown, they are integral parts of their families. They give comfort, life, hope, warmth, licks, purrs, and above all else, they give unconditional love that only they understand and have experienced with each year that has passed. I am honored to be given the opportunity to care for my clients’ pets and to know that I too will be part of the memories engrained in the lives of their wonderful animals.
One of the many pleasure of owning my own business is the flexibility it lends me to take care of personal tasks as I need to. Although this week has been exceedingly busy, I found the needed time to pick up my wife at the airport. I was able to juggle several appointments in the morning in order to pick her up in the afternoon. That morning I met three new clients, two of which involved caring for a 12-week old Great Dane and an 8-week old black Labrador retriever. I also met with an older mixed breed dog and a home with two kitties. If there is anything I’ve learned about being a pet sitter and meeting new clients is to always have treats in my pocket to “greet” new doggy clients. It’s definitely a sure-fire way to make new friends! The Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is a nicely designed and easily accessible airport—easy in/easy out. I parked my car and walked into the terminal to wait for my wife’s flight to arrive. Since I came straight from my pet sitting appointments, I was wearing my company logo t-shirt and cargo pants. I made my way to the waiting area proudly wearing my company’s colors and feeling great about being a pet sitter!
Photo: Durham Newsobserver March 28, 2014

Photo: Durham Newsobserver March 28, 2014

I was standing in the waiting area watching people when a few feet away from me, I notice a uniformed police officer and his working dog walking in my direction. I was standing there calmly when I notice the 4-legged officer slow and start walking towards me, 2-legged officer in tow. I thought nothing of it, but then the dog stopped in front of me and immediately started sniffing my left leg—very intently. I see the police officer eyeballing me and sizing me up. I took a deep breath and I complimented the officer on what a beautiful pup he has. He looked at me a little suspiciously as the dog continued to sniff my legs and said “thanks.” By that time I was becoming a little more uncomfortable and then I realized that the dog was now wagging his tail! I then realize the ever vigilant pup was sniffing all the wonderful puppy, dog, and kitty smells on my pant legs! I think the officer came to the same realization around the same time I did and actually noticed the Paws On Durham t-shirt I was sporting. A split second later, the vigilant pup was sniffing my right pocket very aggressively and wagging his very happy tail. I immediately realized that I still had several dog treats in my pocket from my morning’s visits. The highly-trained, drug and bomb sniffing nose honed in on what’s really important in a dog’s life…tasty peanut butter dog treats! I quickly offered to the officer that I was a pet sitter and I had some extra treats in my pocket. I chuckled loudly, though the officer barely offered a smile. However, the officer who does most of the really important work was still happily sniffing my treat laden pocket. I asked if the pup could have a treat (already knowing the answer), but the officer declined the offer…the pup was on duty after all. The two officers then continued on their way to ensure the safety and security of the travelers. When my wife arrived, I told her about my experience and we both shared a great laugh. I immediately know this was one of those special moments that only a pet sitter could experience. In my short stint as a pet sitter/business owner, I have memories of many sweet experiences involving dogs, cats, turtles, people, etc., but this is a definite keeper…to be eyeballed and sniffed up by armed to the teeth (pun intended) police officers. It’s good to know that our airports are being protected by the eyes, noses, and paws of such vigilant security personnel! Always Vigilant, Always Faithful, and Always Canine...
CIRCUS ACT Young 1I recently had the pleasure of pet sitting for a family who spent Memorial Day weekend camping. I was responsible for the love and care of their ten pets! This lively bunch consisted of four dogs (Champ, Coco, Samantha and Sampson), five cats (Diego, Coon, Gato, Nala, and Simba) and a turtle (Turdie). They were quite an amusing group! During an evening visit I had completed my usual routine of providing all of the animals with fresh food and water. After tidying up inside, I headed outside to play ball with the dogs. Unbeknownst to me, these fur babies had other plans and coordinated a circus performance for me! ACT I: Bird Hunt young3aA few minutes passed when I heard birds squealing like crazy in the very back of the yard. I ran over to the fence to find Champ with a small bird in his mouth! Champ is the “old man” of the group and suffers from arthritis, tumors, and poor sight/hearing. How he was able to find let alone, catch the bird is a feat in itself! He dropped it immediately, but it was so interesting but of course the other three pups had to join in on the fun. I was able to scoop up the bird and lay it to rest right before the other pups joined in.         ACT II: Sandbox Scuttle young3bCoco (5-year-old Dobie mix) and Samantha (1-year-old French Mastiff) decided they would keep me entertained by wrestling in the sandbox. As Coco plopped on her belly, Samantha figured it was the perfect opportunity to pounce.One large lunge forward was all it took and the two playfully went back and forth, rolling around and kicking sand everywhere. By the time play ended, it appeared they had spent the day at the beach! Young4b                     ACT III: Trampoline Bounce Young4aHave you ever seen a 200 pound French Mastiff try to jump on a trampoline? I have! Next up was Sampson (1-year-old French Mastiff), the biggest lap-dog of all time. He put his front paws on the trampoline, stood erect and looked me straight in the eye, as if to say, “Watch this!” As he desperately tried to kick his back legs up, I was keeled over and literally laughing out loud. Needless to say, I had quite an interesting night at the circus. Tired and panting, lying on the cool kitchen floor with their tongues hanging out, I thought to myself that they would get a good night’s sleep. What stinkers! It’s always great fun to experience the lives and antics of our clients’ pets. They all have such different personalities, quirks, needs, and wants, but one thing is constant with them all…They are all very special. This group in particular is full of life and they definitely require a strong "ring master" to keep them all in line.  I look forward to the next time I'm able to care for this happy, crazy, and classy circus act!    
I think I've made it pretty clear in some of my previous posts of how blessed I am to own Paws On Durham.  There are so many great things about being a pet sitter but to be specific, I love meeting new customers and the humans who care for them, I am so lucky to have such a great team to work with, and how great is it to hang out with my brand new client, Bismarck.  He's a beautiful and happy 8-week old behemoth!  Bismarck and I will be spending a lot of time together, and I'll be helping Bismarck's mom shape a socially responsible and well-mannered pup.  More updates and pics of Bismarck over the next few weeks!  
Six months ago, it was hard to imagine life without my special girl, Lulu. After a short battle with cancer, Lulu lost her life to the scourge inside her. It was undoubtedly the hardest and most devastating day in my life. Lulu should have lived another 5-10 years. Her life came to an abrupt end, and there was nothing I could do to help her. Six months have passed. The first three months were the hardest. Weeks after losing her, I would still weep uncontrollably at the unfairness of it all. Every room in the house conjured a memory. Every inch of our yard held vivid thoughts of Lulu walking, running, or being silly. Losing her left a gaping hole in my heart, and though my days have gotten easier, it’s hard to imagine what the next six months will be like. Some people say it’s easier to move on than to continue to mourn Lulu. I consciously choose not to move on from the memory of how my girl fought so hard. I choose to remember how the chemo made her feel terrible one day, and then feel good the next. I have to remember how she left me at 5:15 a.m. that morning but not without licking my nose one last time before taking her last breath. Remembering all of these seemingly devastating events helps me to keep Lulu’s spirit alive in my heart. Lulu’s loss helps confirm my decision to open Paws On Durham. I serve dogs, cats, turtles, fish, and other animals with humility and sensitivity. All are special in their own ways. All are loved and cared for by their owners without question. Caring for these special animals warms my heart and helps me to honor the memory of my special girl. I keep Lulu’s spirit, happiness, and struggles with me, and though she is at peace, Lulu is always in my heart and mind.
Six months ago, it was hard to imagine life without my special girl, Lulu. After a short battle with cancer, Lulu lost her life to the scourge inside her. It was undoubtedly the hardest and most devastating day in my life. Lulu should have lived another 5-10 years. Her life came to an abrupt end, and there was nothing I could do to help her. Six months have passed. The first three months were the hardest. Weeks after losing her, I would still weep uncontrollably at the unfairness of it all. Every room in the house conjured a memory. Every inch of our yard held vivid thoughts of Lulu walking, running, or being silly. Losing her left a gaping hole in my heart, and though my days have gotten easier, it’s hard to imagine what the next six months will be like. Some people say it’s easier to move on than to continue to mourn Lulu. I consciously choose not to move on from the memory of how my girl fought so hard. I choose to remember how the chemo made her feel terrible one day, and then feel good the next. I have to remember how she left me at 5:15 a.m. that morning but not without licking my nose one last time before taking her last breath. Remembering all of these seemingly devastating events helps me to keep Lulu’s spirit alive in my heart. Lulu’s loss helps confirm my decision to open Paws On Durham. I serve dogs, cats, turtles, fish, and other animals with humility and sensitivity. All are special in their own ways. All are loved and cared for by their owners without question. Caring for these special animals warms my heart and helps me to honor the memory of my special girl. I keep Lulu’s spirit, happiness, and struggles with me, and though she is at peace, Lulu is always in my heart and mind.
It was a great day for cats and dogs today at Urban Durham Realty's monthly "Swizzle."  The Durham APS was on hand with several adorable kittens and dogs that were available for adoption.   Businesses such as Paws On Durham, The Other End of the Leash Pet Boutique, The Durham Kennel Club, the Broadway Veterinary Hospital, and local artist Char Reed enjoyed a beautiful day and wonderful conversation with Durham pets and their humans.  Dogs of every size and shape enjoyed homemade treats from Other End of the Leash and several were lucky enough to walk away with toys and treats from Broadway Vet Hospital.  Paws On Durham, Broadway Vet, and Other End of the Leash all donated special prizes as giveaways to benefit the Durham APS. Raleigh artist, Char Reed was on hand to draw amazingly beautiful caricatures of some lucky pups!  Char uses an iPad as her canvas and a stylus as a pen to capture the character of her subject.  Once complete, Char forwards the caricature to the pet owner via email for future use.  Look for an upcoming collaboration between Char and Paws On Durham...Great things are on the horizon! Paws On Durham is happy to be part of such a pet friendly community.  We look forward to future pet friendly events...coming soon: Durham APS Walk for the Animals, May 17.  See you there!  
Paws On Durham team member Tiff S. is moving on to bigger and better things in her life.  Tiff joined the team in November 2013 and quickly embraced the ideals and mission of Paws On Durham...to provide exceptional pet care to Durham pets and their humans. Prior to Tiff's departure, I asked her to provide some insights on her experience a POD pet sitter. The words below provide a touching look into the world of a pet sitter. Tiff has been a great addition to the team, and we know she will continue to excel in all her endeavors!  Best wishes Tiff...You will be missed!   0152122444f7a1d8f5263091ec90c37c5ab7d85e75My one piece of advice to those of you who are joining this company: Run. Because you will need to rethink everything you thought you knew about caring for animals. You will need to meet standards of pet care that are not your own, for people you will likely only meet once, for animals that were not raised under your house nor your rules. Your schedules will be sporadically, and sometimes spontaneously, cut up and framed with visits to people’s houses. Your clothes will be covered in fur, or urine, or paw marks, or all three. I suggest you run. Before you find out what the word “trust” truly means, whether it is in the form of a stranger giving you keys to her house or having a strange dog willingly walk out the door with you. You will carry the stress of knowing that this dog, the one that is dragging you down the street, means the world to somebody. Run before you feel the true weight of the words “thank you,” because I warn you these owners say it with all their hearts. Run before you are sucked into a community of people, each unique with their own stories and hardships, before you are caught exchanging pleasantries with them, then conversations, then perhaps even friendships. I kid you not. The biggest mistake I made was deciding to stay. Because I found myself responsible for these homes, their animals, and this company. I found myself buying chews when a client’s existing stock ran out, just because I knew her dogs would enjoy them before she returned from her trip. I took it out of my own time to text an owner instructions for constructing a toy, just because I saw the drive in her dog and it inspired me. And I came to love those crazy dogs, cats, and people. I was silly enough to stay and now that it is time for me to go, it is hard. So run, you fools!    
Thanks to everyone who participated in our March 8th Yappy Hour event at Other End of the Leash.  The event to benefit the Coalition to Unchain Dogs raised $270!!!!  Paws On Durham employee, Tiff Shao (Graphitedog.com) drew 25 caricatures in a little over two hours, and the happy pet owners gave to an amazing cause... Lori Hensley, Director of Operations and Development for the Coalition agreed the event was a huge success and stated the funds will be put to good use. A big shout out to the Other End of the Leash for co-hosting the event!   0152122444f7a1d8f5263091ec90c37c5ab7d85e75
01ad1f55a8333b5efe9f2e55d7320295752fcb6509My wife and I woke up around 6:30 a.m. to the sound of our two pug puppies Angus (7 months) and Olive (4 months)    stirring in their crates outside our bedroom.  Olive and Angus are making it through the night now without having accidents but by 6:30 in the morning, they are primed to go out to do their business.  The fact that it was Sunday morning really didn’t matter to two young puppies.  We don’t have kids who come bounding into the room wanting pancakes for breakfast, but these two definitely have their own wants and needs! 018b38e39af8a6fdbcaeaaedf36320ea7ac09687fdSince Angus is the oldest, he knew the routine and started circling as we picked up their bowls to fill with kibble.  As we headed to the pantry, he started barking wildly, and Olive immediately started prancing around and jumping with excitement.  They both ran to their feeding area in the kitchen and waited impatiently as their food bowls were placed in front of them.  The noises that emanated from them was a mixture of feeding hogs, a vacuum cleaner, sounds from a horror film, and the frenzy of sharks feeding!  They quickly snarfed up their food and immediately began their day laying in sunbeams, sleeping and playing. My wife and I set out for our day of yard work.  The morning was shaping up to be beautiful. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and the weather forecasters promised a 70 degree day.  After weeks of cold weather, snow and rain, the spring-like weather was a welcome sight!  My wife happily headed to the front yard to plant her bulbs, and I started raking the leaves that had littered the yard for weeks.01bc7ded9c447870628573f558367908ea120d11f2 Throughout the day, we went inside the house to check on the pups.  They were usually wrestling or yapping wildly at each other because one of the stole each other’s toy.  Each time I went in the house they were playing, running, and chasing after each other.  It was amazing to watch their energy and complete innocence.  Olive and Angus share the same father, so that may be a reason for their closeness and their brother/sister “I want what you have” mentality.  It’s really very interesting to watch the similarities between these two puppies and how human siblings interact. Late in the afternoon, I went into the house to drink some water and take some sinus medicine as the dust from raking the leaves was beginning to give me a sinus headache.  I checked in on Olive and Angus, and they were both in the dining room laying in a beautiful sunbeam.  Olive’s head was on Angus’ back.  Their eyes shut tightly.  Such a different scene from an hour or so before when they were running through the house chasing each other! Since my head was beginning to pound, I decided to take a short break from raking the 010e976e273e283175645b62b3914c59668bece717_00002leaves.  I crept into the dining room and laid on the floor next to my beautiful pups.  They immediately woke up and as if someone turned their ON switch on, they were both on me within a second!  I had to cover my head to keep them both from licking my scalp and face.  Angus climbed on my back and began nibbling my neck and ears, while Olive continued licking my hands and face.  I began giggling and squealing like a kid as the two of them were all over me, licking, nibbling, and yapping. I got up from the floor with my headache gone and a smile on my face.  My puppies literally licked my headache away.  I left them in the dining room to continue to play.  They didn’t even notice I had left, but I walked away knowing they gave me some much needed love and attention.  I’m pretty sure they enjoyed our play time, but I'm pretty certain their puppy kisses were just what the doctor ordered to cure my headache!