Often our clients and friends ask about our travels and our house and pet sitting experiences and we thought that a blog would be a good way to share our stories both past and present.
We have met and made friends with some lovely humans, canines and felines over the past 5 years and we hope that you enjoy reading about our pet sitting and house sitting experiences as much as we enjoy regaling our "tails"!
There is a campaign running here in Canada informing the public of this danger, and encouraging them to buy Pet-Friendly Antifreeze, which doesn't contain ethylene glycol. Since April 2009 the Canadian Government have legislated that Antifreeze should contain a bittering agent to take the sweet taste out, and therefore make it unattractive to pets, especially cats.
The link below gives advice on antifreeze and your pets.
We have been unable to find any Antifreeze for sale which specifically states Pet Friendly, If you have come across any, we would love to hear from you, and we will pass the information on to our readers.
When buying Antifreeze it might be worth asking at the store what their policy is.
We visited the Wildlife Recovery Centre to see what work they carried out and to see if they needed any volunteers at this time of year.
The centre began in 1984 when the founder, Robin Campbell discovered a Great Horned Owl entangled in a neighbour's fence, its wing was mangled and was in need of emergency care. Since then the centre has become well known, and when wildlife are in need of help, they are brought into the Centre.
Bird which died hitting a power line.
The aim is to cure and hopefully release back into the wild. Some birds or mammals are too injured to be released, so they stay at the centre.
If an animal is brought in that has had contact with humans, ie, hand reared or 'imprinted' by humans, they are not re-released back into the wild, they are used at the centre to educate the public on the wildlife in their area.
There is an Eagle Flight Cage where eagles who have been injured can build up their strength and practice their flying, before being released back into the wild.
There is an observation deck with one way glass. It is a good way to see these magnificent birds up close, without stressing them out. They are huge.
There is a Black Bear Rehabilitation unit where orphaned bears or injured bears are brought in. There is a cctv set up so that the bears have as little contact as possible with humans. If they become used to humans they will become 'nuisance bears' They must remain frightened of humans. The cages are designed so that the carers can come and go, servicing the cages
Festive bear cubMuseum of Nature.
without being seen by the bears. Apparently most bears are born as twins so they try to keep two together so they are less stressed and learn from each other, before being released back into the wild.
There is a resident Black Bear called Knut who has lived at the centre for a long time, and he can be seen by the public. He was sleeping when we went as it was very cold.
We walked around the outside Public Viewing area where there were a number of captive birds of prey which cannot be released.
There is a release pond for birds to come and go from when they choose. It is a great place to children and adults alike, to learn about the wildlife in this part of the world and how to respect it. They are doing an excellent job.
We took a couple of volunteer forms away with us after chatting to the lady at the centre, so we will see if we can help in any way.
Today was our first day as proper volunteers at the SPCA Parksville-Qualicum branch.
Our shift started at 12 noon. We arrived at the centre and said hello to the regular staff on the front desk.
We headed for the Volunteer room where we put on our overalls and completed the signing in sheet.
We had a hand over with Lesley, a volunteer who had come in a couple of hours before us.
We checked the notice board to see which cats had already been out in the day room.
It soon became apparent that most of the cats wanted to be out and playing, and as only 3 are allowed at any one time in the play room, it is a constant juggle to play with the ones out, make sure they all get along together, placate the ones still in their cages awaiting their turn.
That was the easy part.... We then had to put the 3 that were out in the play room, back into their cages. Of course they knew this was going to happen and did not want to be caught, so they used all their repertoire of escape and avoiding skills that they knew. We did manage it in the end though, and got three more cats that got along together out to have a stretch of their legs.
Their behaviour was much the same, they would have a tentative sniff around, all light footed and low to the ground. Then, when they felt relaxed they would start to play with all the toys that are in the room. Depending on their character, this took varying amounts of time for each individual cat.
Some of the cats were in an overflow room, so had to be wrapped in a towel so that they could be carried along the corridor to the play room. This was just a precaution in case they spooked and got loose in the building.
There were some really cute kittens there which are up for adoption in the next few weeks. Mainly though there are older cats. They are all really sweet, and have their own characters.
Max, a black short haired cat was quite shy to start with in the play room, he came out of his shell after a little while and started to play with the toys.
Garfunkel is a beautiful grey and white striped cat, such a handsome young man. He is a stray. He was exploring as soon as he got into the play room, he was fearless, jumping from one obstacle to the next.
Coco a beautiful black and tan tabby cat was quite happy to sit on the seat beside me whilst I brushed her.
Our 2 hours went very quickly, and before we knew it, the next set of volunteers were arriving.
We did a hand over with them, just giving them a brief summary of what we had done, and letting them know the names of the cats that were currently in the play room, so when they put them back, they would go into the correct cages.
It was harder than we thought. It is very hard to ignore cries for attention, and even harder to see the souls that didn't want to come out from under their hidyhole. We would have loved to have taken the ones that had been in the shelter for 6 months, just to give them a normal home.
Hopefully they will all be found homes in due course. It is always the kittens that seem to be adopted first.
We have put our names down for next week. We hope there will have been some adoptions
The weather is windy and a fresh 8 degrees, blowing in off of the Georgia Straits. We have had a good deal of rain in November, which is usual for this time of year.
Today though the sun is out and the clouds are scudding across the sky at high speed.
With the right gear on, it has been very pleasant to take a bracing walk along the beach, picking up a variety of coloured shells.
There are plenty of empty, pure white oyster shells, strewn all along the beach. We walk along with the dog going in and out of the sea, watching the oyster catchers, black birds with bright red beaks, lining the shore. The sea gulls pick up the oysters they have fished out of the water, fly up to a height and then drop them, with the aim of smashing them open, so they can eat the contents. This is amazing to watch.
The stretch of water in our neighbourhood faces out onto the Straits of Georgia, part of the inside passage which leads to Alaska. The big cruise liners coming from Vancouver pass here on their way to Alaska. In the Spring we will be able to see the herring shoals swimming by, and the sea lions that will be following them.
All this whilst we are being watched by a pair of Bald Eagles perching in the tall fir trees that line the water's edge. One swoops down to fish in the sea before it returns to its mate.
As pet sitters, our dog walks are never dull or monotonous.
You may share your garden and even your bed, but it's probably best to avoid sharing a meal with man's best friend or any other pet for that matter. Listed below, from most(1) to least(8) dangerous, are common foods and drinks that make pets ill. If you think your dog, cat, or bird has consumed one of these items and you are concerned, contact your vet.
Why: Stimulates the nervous system and the heart. Poisonous to: All species, but dogs are most likely to eat dangerous quantities. Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, increased thirst, restlessness, agitation, increased body temperature, tremors, seizures.
2. Grapes, raisins
Why: Damage the kidneys. Poisonous to: Dogs, cats. Possible effects of poisoning: Increased thirst, increased urination, lethargy, vomiting.
Why: Damage red blood cells, causing anemia. Poisonous to: Cats, dogs. Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, red-coloured urine, weakness, anemia.
4. Xylitol (found in sugarless gum)
Why: Causes increased insulin secretion, resulting in lower blood sugar levels. Poisonous to: Dogs Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, lethargy, lack of coordination, seizures, jaundice, diarrhea.
5. Alcoholic drinks
Why: Depress the nervous system. Poisonous to: All species. Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, disorientation, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, seizures.
6. Raw yeast bread dough.
Why: Forms gas in the digestive track; fermentation of yeast causes alcohol poisoning. Poisonous to: All species, but only dogs typically ingest it. Possible effects of poisoning: Distention of abdomen, vomiting, disorientation, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, seizures.
7. Macadamia nuts.
Why: Cause muscle and nervous-system problems. Poisonous to: Dogs Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, lethargy, weakness, increased body temperature, tremors.
Why: Contain persin, which damages the heart muscle. Poisonous to: Most species - birds especially sensitive. Possible effects of poisoning: Vomiting, diarrhea (in dogs), lethargy, difficulty breathing (in birds and rodents).
Tracy and Della
Present location:UK and Europe
We are an English, female couple who decided10 years ago to do something different with the second half of our lives! We share a love of travel and animals and since "retiring" from our conventional jobs in finance and the Civil Service we have been house and pet sitting around the globe. We have had the good fortune to visit many beautiful places. We have spent a considerable amount of time in France (our first love!), we spent almost a year travelling in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore in 2008/09 and after a summer spent between France and the UK we enjoyed a marvellous month on the Greek island of Crete, 5 months living on Vancouver Island,BC, Canada, and then two weeks on the Big Island,Hawaii. We have been splitting our time between the UK and mainland Europe, pet and house sitting and looking after properties, wherever we are required. Life is good.