my client cheated on me. ain't karma a bitch?

So I was out with a bunch of friends the other night, and this couple–friends and clients of mine–said they had something to tell me. "Something happened." It seemed serious, so initially I thought something terrible might have happened to Eddie*, their dog , but they had slight smirks on their faces, so I calmed.

Since my family just returned from a California vacation that included Legoland, it seemed like a natural conversation-starter that Mark began by telling me that they recently spent four days at Legoland. "Wow! Did you have fun?" I inquired.

"Well, yes. It was great, but..." he gave Jodi a look. "Well, I have this buddy. He's a career bachelor and has had dogs all of his life. He has two, and Eddie gets along great with them. He offered to take Eddie while we were gone, and I thought, 'awesome! Free pet sitting.'"

Again, I feared the worst. Had the dogs fought? Was Eddie okay? "No biggie," I said. "Who would pass up free pet sitting? Sounds like a great situation. Did something go wrong?" Didn't Mark and Jodi know that you get what you pay for? I've been to this rodeo before. Clients may cheat, but they always come back. Something always happens.

"He came ticks," Mark announced.

"Complete infestation," Jodi added. "And we didn't know for over a week."

I'm not sure what my face looked like, but I'm guessing it was one of sympathy mixed with a dash of "ha-ha," which is exactly how I felt. But, of course, I was concerned about Eddie. "Oh my God! Is Eddie okay?" I asked with a giggle. 

"Yeah, he's fine. He will be. He's just chewing himself alive right now because he's in the scabby stage," Mark told me.

Poor Eddie.

"The groomer found hundreds," Jodi elaborated. "The first time I saw one, I was plugging in the vacuum to an outlet in the living room and a tick literally jumped out of the socket. I knew right then and there that we had a big issue."

"Wow. I'm so sorry." I was.

Jodi went on. "They found them in Eddie's paw pads and growing in the pits of his legs. He was literally being eaten alive. The exterminator sprayed the inside and outside of our house multiple times because–just our luck–ticks multiply quite quickly in this dry, hot AZ environment we live in. They can actually survive weeks without a food source."

They went on to tell me about multiple vet visits, multiple "dips," and a complete home extermination. "We've spent hundreds of dollars," Mark said. "It would have been less expensive to hire you."

"Cheaters never win," I joked. "Ain't karma a bitch?"

"Yep," Jodi agreed. "Our attempt to save a little money on a pet sitter ended up costing us over $500.00, hours of frustration, and some serious strain on a friendship for failing to disclose to us that his dogs had ticks! We asked ourselves 'Why didn't we just call Kristen?' So, basically, we'll never have anyone Eddie again." 

"Solid plan," I said.

We laughed and toasted to my job security and to Eddie's speedy recovery.

*Names have been changed. 





don't count out the old guys: adopting an adult cat

The littles and I have been volunteering for several months at our local PetSmart Cat Room as representatives of Lost Our Home Pet Foundation. Though we love getting to know the cats and look forward to seeing our feline friends every week, we hope we don't see them, because that means they've been adopted. That's the goal, after all.

When we first started, we were sad when we'd come in and see that the adorable kittens we'd enjoyed the previous week had been adopted. We missed them! Time and time again, it would happen. 

But then there were our old friends. We could always count on the fact that the older cats would still be there. And they were. It seems that no one wants to adopt an adult cat. Perhaps they aren't as cute, or perhaps they are a bit pudgy. Maybe they don't play enough. Or maybe potential adopters feel that an adult cat might have too many health issues.

This past weekend, we were thrilled to hear the news that one of our older feline friends, Hercules, was finally adopted! We've been visiting Hercules since June, and we started to lose hope for him. Even he seemed to lose hope, becoming less social, accepting his favorite thorough brushing, but remaining in the confines of his enclosure. He didn't want to play with the other cats. Though we loved seeing him every week, it was breaking our hearts, just the same. 

But all of that is over. Hercules found his forever family!

Hercules has finally found a home. 

Hercules has finally found a home. 

I can't argue that kittens aren't teensy and cute, but we all have to remember that they don't stay that way, and we have to commend this family for seeing the good in Hercules and giving him the home he so very much deserves.

So what is great about adopting an adult cat?

• What you see is what you get. You know how big the cat is. He's full grown.

• You know the cat's personality. When you adopt an adult cat, you get to choose a cat that fits your family well because his personality is pretty much established (though most adult cats will shine even brighter when they are settled with their adoptive family).

• You know if it will be a good fit with other pets and/or children. Most adult adoptable cats will come with a "resume" of sorts, letting you know if the animal gets along with other types of animals or plays well with children.

• Potty training–check. Unless there is an underlying medical issue, adult cats know where to "go." Just show the adult cat the litter box, and he gets it.

• Clawing and chewing are mostly a thing of the past. Adult cats don't chew on hazardous things or claw the furniture as much as kittens do. Save the sofas!

What's the most important reason to adopt an adult cat?

You might be their last chance. Kittens go like hot cakes, but adult cats are a tougher sell. If you're considering welcoming a new feline into your home, please open your mind and your heart to an adult cat. It will be life changing for you and your new family member. You'll save a life. 

Read Hercules' full adoption story here.

Click here to see Lost Our Home Pet Foundation's Adoptable Animals.

we're partnering with #SomaPet to bring you health and deals


This past summer, we were introduced to a natural pet supplement called SomaPet. I couldn't believe the results we saw in N.A.S.H.A. I mean, I usually really love the products we review, but SomaPet was over-the-top can't-live-without-it awesome. I knew we'd continue N.A.S.H.A. on it. You can read our full review here.

In a nutshell, it's everything good with nothing bad. It comes in powder form and contains only natural, 100% organic ingredients. It is sugar free, gluten free, and fat free, and contains no preservatives, additives, fillers, or artificial coloring. And it's vegan. It's recommended for dogs and cats over three years of age.

So what does it do, you ask?

SomaPet describes it:

SomaPet is a proprietary combination of organic, pure free-form crystalline amino acids that help jumpstart your pet's natural processes of cell repair and regeneration.
The ultimate dietary supplement, SomaPet consists of a synergistic combination of free form L-amino acids designed to assist:
• strengthens collagen and bones
• improves immune system
• renews vitality
• helps reduce body fat
• healthier skin and coat
• promotes cellular energy
• increases healing

When we first reviewed SomaPet, N.A.S.H.A. had been taking it for just two weeks, and I already noticed a remarkable improvement in her coat and energy level. Now that she's been taking it for three months, we see a consistent improvement in her energy level. She's jumping and playing more, and she's more spry. It used to take her a few attempts to hop onto our high bed, but now she makes it on the first try, every time. She runs around the back yard more, and she asks the kids to play more often. (Yes, she asks them by tossing them one of her toys.) And her coat? Let's just say José Eber would swoon. 

It makes me feel great to give my pooch something that helps her so much. I would highly recommend SomaPet to anyone with an adult dog or cat. No joke. 

As you can imagine, I was thrilled when SomaPet contacted me about partnering to bring this fantastic supplement to Well Minded readers at a discount. SomaLife, the company that makes SomaPet, began by offering supplements for humans. After I've seen what their product has done for my dog, I'm anxious to try the human variety, and I'll be sure to let you know what I think. 

So check it out and get to saving!

Connect with SomaPet and SomaLife on Facebook and Twitter.

Well Minded is an affiliate partner of SomaLife and SomaPet. SomaLife and SomaPet are not responsible for the content of this article, and all opinions expressed are our own. We only share information we feel would benefit our readers.

life stages dogs and cats #infographic and pet parenting info. from petbrosia

We love Petbrosia pet food because of the high-quality, nutritious, natural ingredients that are free from artificial preservatives and synthetic dyes and flavors. We also love the fact that the food is customized to the needs of our pets. Petbrosia asks about your pet's age, weight, breed, and lifestyle in order to taylor the food to your pet's nutritional needs for optimum health. And your custom food is delivered right to your door!

Check out how Petbrosia stacks up:

Petbrosia is all about customizing the food to meet the needs of the individual animal at various life stages. They have created an infographic that clearly illustrates the importance of tailoring your pet's diet to these life stages:

Petbrosia keeps improving–I love that! They have recently developed and now offer a grain-free salmon recipe. They also recently began offering high-quality treats that fit with their mission to bring only healthy products to consumers, so their little family operation is becoming more of a one-stop shop. 

In keeping with their caring spirit, Petbrosia is also becoming a fantastic resource for pet parents. Check out these recent articles:

If you haven't tried Petbrosia, yet, I encourage you to give it a shot to see what your pet thinks. N.A.S.H.A. loves it. She even gets excited when that box arrives. My little humans even groan a little, saying "Oh, man! Why is it always something for N.A.S.H.A.?" Sorry, kids, the magic toy fairy didn't make a special-for-no-reason delivery today. 

Has your pet tried Petbrosia? We'd love to hear what you think. If not, Well Minded readers can save 25% off their first box!

Connect with Petbrosia on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Well Minded is an affiliate of Petbrosia, which means that each time you use our coupon code, Petbrosia compensates us for referring you. All proceeds go to bringing you free content on this blog, and we appreciate our reader support. Well Minded only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Petbrosia images courtesy of Petbrosia.

introducing your baby to your pet: just act natural

My baby had been in the house for five minutes. This is the nursery. Act as you mean to go on. 

My baby had been in the house for five minutes. This is the nursery. Act as you mean to go on. 

It is important to prepare your dog or cat for your baby's arrival. But contrary to conventional "methods," I feel that the introduction shouldn't be a big production. Just act natural. It's true that some pets can feel cast aside or put off by the new addition, but there is a lot you can do behind the scenes to make sure the initial meeting and lifelong bonding between your baby and your pet go as smoothly as possible. 

Before the Baby Comes

• If your pet has not spent a lot of time with infants, invite as many babies to your home as you can. This will help your pet get used to the smell, sounds, and attention-hogging nature of tiny humans. Be sure to supervise all interactions at all times.

Everyone can help paint the nursery!

Everyone can help paint the nursery!

• Make sure training is in order. This may require professional help. If your dog is prone to jumping on you or jumping right on your lap as your bottom is only halfway down to the couch cushion, you may need to train your pet to "sit" and "wait" to be invited into your lap. This is more crucial with larger or boisterous animals, but may also apply to cats or small dogs. Your lap will soon have a baby in it. That lap can be shared, but it needs to be on your terms, and it needs to be safe for the baby.

You can teach your pet to "settle." Give him a special place nearby (don't shun him from the family)–like a cushy bed–to go to when needed. Provide small treats to create a positive association with that spot so when you tell your pet to "settle," he is happy to do so. Polite manners around baby are important. 

• Get your pet used to newborn noises and paraphernalia. Many pets will ignore a mechanical swing, but some might be startled. Even a glider or rocker that moves may be all new to your pet. Let him get used to these things before baby arrives. You can even use a baby doll to get your pet used to having a little body around. 

Good thing we practiced this before.

Good thing we practiced this before.

• If you plan to walk your dog with a stroller, practice before baby arrives. It may seem like a simple thing, but walking a dog and pushing a stroller at the same time can be a challenge for you and your dog. Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I started walking our dog while pushing an empty stroller. Sure, I got a lot of odd looks, but it gave us a chance to practice without the worries of a real live being in the stroller. We worked all the bugs out, so we were ready to roll as soon as we brought my son home from the hospital. 

• Most people don't want their cat lying in bed with their baby, so be sure that the baby's crib does not become a pet bed. Train your cat to stay away from the crib before the baby arrives. If this is a challenge and your cat insists on making it her own, the ASPCA recommends placing pennies in cans and lining them up along the crib rail. An attempt or two should be all your cat needs to know that the crib is off limits. 

Do you want to play?

Do you want to play?

• Talk to your pet about the baby, and use your baby's name, if you've chosen one. It is thought that cats can understand between 25-35 words, and the average dog, approximately 165. That's about as many words as a human two-year-old! Your pet may not understand every nuance about the baby, but you'll have a nice head start if the concept isn't completely foreign. 

• Pets are very sensitive to smell, so use that to your advantage. If you have lotion or some such thing that you plan to use on your baby's skin, rub a little bit on your own skin in the weeks leading up to your baby's birth. Your baby will seem more familiar to your pet. 

• Start as you mean to go on. Don't drastically change your pet's routine as soon as the baby gets home. It is best to change your pet's routine as little as possible. If small adjustments have to be made, do them gradually over the duration of the pregnancy.

Once the Baby Arrives

• Make sure you have someone on call to care for your pet when it's time to go to the hospital. It's best to have a family member or professional pet sitter stay in your home to maintain your pet's routine.

Just hanging out.

Just hanging out.

• It is often recommended to have a staged initial meeting in a special room under special circumstances, but if you've done your work ahead of time to properly prepare your pet, something so formal shouldn't be necessary. I'm in favor of keeping the initial meeting as natural and casual as possible. Introduce your baby to your pet in a way that feels natural and safe to your family so everyone will be relaxed.

• Since your pet is sensitive to smell, bring home one of your baby's hospital blankets for your pet to smell before you bring your baby home. Having the garment around before the baby joins the family fold will help get your pet used to the actual smell of the new arrival. 



• Energy is important. Remain calm during the initial meeting, and try your best to be relaxed during all interactions between your baby and your pet. If you feel anxious, your pet will pick up on your nervous energy and feel anxious, too. Stay even-keeled, and it's likely your pet will, too. 

As Baby Grows

• Once your baby becomes mobile, it's a whole different ball game. Teach your baby–even before he's mobile–to respect your pet and your pet's things. If everyone is to live in harmony, your baby will have to be trained as much as your pet. Your initial inclination may be to separate your pet and toddler, but teaching is a better tactic in the long run. (Though providing your pet a safe, quiet spot away from the madness of the day is a must.) For best results, teach your baby from day one.

Family time!

Family time!

As a professional pet sitter, I started bringing my babies on pet sitting visits soon after we came home from the hospital. I talked to them about the animals in our care right away, even when they were just little mushy lumps. They learned to respect the animals. They learned early on the proper way to greet an animal, they know how to protect themselves from "jumpers," and they know the signs of an animal who simply wants to be left alone. They are not "tail pullers." I credit their behavior to early exposure and constant teaching. 

• Keep it positive. Interact with your pet while the baby is around so your pet has positive associations with the baby. If you withhold attention when the baby is present, your pet will feel cast aside. Include your pet in interactions with the baby, instead.

Getting to know you...

Getting to know you...

• A little bribery never hurts. You can create a positive association with the baby or with any object your pet might need adjusting to by providing treats. For example, if you pet is bothered when the baby cries, have some small treats on hand to provide when the baby cries out. Your pet will soon realize that crying is just a part of what babies do and he doesn't need to hide each time it happens. 

• Don't be afraid to let them interact, but never leave them unsupervised.

When my son, Porter, was about eight months old, I left him unsupervised with our dog, N.A.S.H.A. (I did not practice what I preach). He and N.A.S.H.A. already had a tight bond, as she'd rarely leave his side. I took for granted that nothing could go wrong. On one occasion, I left the room for a couple of minutes. I heard N.A.S.H.A. let out the slightest whimper–a noise I'd never heard form her before. I rushed in and saw Porter with two dog fur pom-poms, one in each hand. He was smiling, and she was not, yet her loyalty to him overrode any instinct she had to bite or run away. She stuck by his side and didn't harm him. We were lucky. She's a dream to have not slaughtered him. I learned a lesson. I felt terrible for N.A.S.H.A., and so thankful as I pondered the possibilities of how things may have gone down, had she not been so tolerant. 

A Word of Caution

Pets are part of the family, and I'm all for making sure your baby and your pet are the best of friends, but caution should always be used, both for the safety of your child and your pet.

Best friends forever.

Best friends forever.

NEVER leave your baby or toddler with your pet unsupervised. Until your child is older and consistently treats your pet with respect and care without guidance, children and pets should never be left alone. There is no magical all depends on your child and your pet. 

If your pet shows any signs of aggression toward your baby, it is important to get professional help immediately. For a list of certified trainers, go to the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers web site

Overall, I feel that the more time your baby and pet spend together, the better. Bonding is important. Your baby's first interactions with animals will help shape her attitude about animals for a lifetime. Focus on the positive. If you keep things positive for all parties, you're sure to foster a winning partnership to last your baby's childhood, and a respect for animals to last a lifetime.

Further reading:

How to Approach and Pet a Dog: 10 Steps Kids Need to Know

Kids and Animals: Instilling Respect

Dogs Should Never be Trusted: Leighton's Story

This article by me originally appeared on Hybrid Rasta Mama, for whom I create original content. It has been published here with minor changes with permission.