dna testing catches doggie doo-doo violators

As a professional pet sitter, I make it a point to carry doo-doo cleanup bags, poo bags, excrement exterminators–whatever you like to call them–with me every single time I walk a dog. Most of my clients provide them either tied to a leash or in a nifty little bag holder roll. If not, I have a bunch in my car to use as backup. It is unacceptable to leave dog poop just lying around.

DNA Testing Catches Doggie Doo-doo Violators. Sign image source: dogtime.com.

DNA Testing Catches Doggie Doo-doo Violators. Sign image source: dogtime.com.

That being said, it absolutely blows my mind how much dog poop I see when I'm out walking. I don't get it. Are people just lazy? Or do they think there is a magic poop fairy that will come remove the waste for them? 

I notice that this violation occurs mostly in apartment complexes, which further baffles me. Most complexes provide dog poop "stations," complete with bags and trash cans just for this purpose. Some even have hand sanitizer! They couldn't make it any easier for dog owners to keep waste under control, yet, still, there is lays. 

Some apartment complexes are now requiring that resident dogs take a DNA test upon moving in. This is happening mostly in larger cities, where population is most dense. More people = more dogs = more dog poop. Makes sense! This DNA test typically costs the dog owner about $30. If a pile of poop is discovered, it can then be sent to a facility that tests dog poop (yes, there are a handful of companies that specialize in this) such as PooPrints. If the dog owner in violation pops up in the database, the apartment complex charges fees, which can really add up, and typically total about $100 per violation. Fines will often go up for repeat offenders, and eviction is also out on the table. 

PooPrints reports that communities who use their program see a 95% reduction in pet waste! It seems the threat of hefty fines keeps these lazy dog owners in line, for the most part.

What do you think about DNA testing of dog poop? Do you live in a community where this is enacted?

a balanced dog is a #WeruvaDog #sponsored

Just when I thought all angles in the dry dog food world had been covered, along comes a brand new line of all-natural, premium-quality food from Weruva, a family-owned pet food company. We are always interested in learning about healthy pet food, but before N.A.S.H.A. and I even checked out Weruva® Caloric Melody™, I was impressed, as these friendly people sent us a hand-written note of appreciation just for giving their new food a shot. That personal touch tells me Weruva doesn't just say they care. They really do!

A balanced dog is a Weruva Dog!

A balanced dog is a Weruva Dog!

This post is sponsored by Weruva® and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network™. I am being compensated to help create awareness about the launch of Weruva's new Caloric Harmony™ and Caloric Melody™ Dry Dog Food, but we only share information that we feel is relevant to our readers. Weruva is not responsible for the content of this article.

what is weruva caloric harmony and caloric melody?

Weruva Caloric Harmony and Caloric Melody are brand new on the scene. Their focus is not just on caloric intake, but on WHERE those calories come from. Nutrition matters for our dogs just as it does for us. When we choose–say–300 calories of vegetables vs. 300 calories of potato chips, our bodies thank us by operating at a higher level. Dogs have nutritional needs, as well, so making sure the calories they consume are coming from the right places is important for energy, overall health, and vitality.

achieving balanced canine nutrition

Weruva's New Caloric Harmony and Caloric Melody are about balanced nutrition for your dog. Image source: weruva.com

Weruva's New Caloric Harmony and Caloric Melody are about balanced nutrition for your dog. Image source: weruva.com

Weruva is rolling out their brand new line of premium dog food with the goal of providing our dogs the nutrition they need for optimum health. They explain that your dog's calories come from three places: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. More calories should come from protein than fat, and more calories should come from fat than from carbohydrates. Achieving the right balance is important for proper nutrition. 

what makes weruva's caloric harmony and caloric melody so special?

I won't feed N.A.S.H.A. any food that compromises on quality. Weruva's new line meets our standards because it is all-natural and uses quality ingredients. It is important to us, too, that as a family-owned pet food manufacturer for over ten years Weruva uses ethical practices. We've been trying out the Weruva Caloric Melody Lamb Dinner with Lentils formula, which N.A.S.H.A. really digs! But what makes it so special?

Weruva_Caloric_Melody

• the main source of calories is protein, as it should be in a balanced canine diet

• there is no potato, wheat, corn, or soy

• there are no artificial flavors or artificial preservatives

• pumpkin is added for healthy digestion 

• seaweed is added for natural prebiotic action

• includes  salmon oil, linoleic acid, zinc, and B vitamins for healthy skin and coat.

• low fat

• low ash content

• gluten-free

• low-glycemic level to help maintain steady energy

• responsibly-sourced ingredients

N.A.S.H.A. seems to really love the Caloric Melody. She's pretty picky about food. There are three levels for her.

Dog_eating_Weruva

1. I smell it and walk away and refuse to eat it even if I starve to death.

2. I smell it and walk away, but I'll be back later when I'm super hungry. It will be consumed for survival.

3. I smell it and immediately dig in, whether I'm hungry or not, and then I beg for more, driving my mommy crazy by punching her in the leg while she's trying to work.

Weruva's Caloric Melody falls into category three. N.A.S.H.A simply loves it, and I can feel great about feeding it to her. It's a win-win! Except my leg is getting sore...

how can i learn more and purchase some for my pooch?

Connect with Weruva on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Is canine nutrition important to your family? Please share your thoughts!

our Wisdom Panel® 3.0 results are in! and you get a promo code!

We recently submitted a canine DNA test kit to Wisdom Panel®, and I'm here to reveal the semi-surprising results! Why would we want to do a DNA test on our dog? Well there are lots of benefits to doing so, but in our case, we were just really curious about what dog breeds make up N.A.S.H.A. For her whole ten-year life, we've been calling her our "terrier mix," affectionately aka our "terror mix." She looks like a mix of terrier breeds with maybe a dash of Chihuahua. That's what we thought, anyway. 

Our Wisdom Panel® Canine DNA Test results are in...with surprising results! wellmindedpets.com

Our Wisdom Panel® Canine DNA Test results are in...with surprising results! wellmindedpets.com

our results

It turns out the main breeds that make up N.A.S.H.A. are not terrier breeds at all! Drumroll, please...N.A.S.H.A. is a: CHIHUAHUA, ALASKAN MALAMUTE, AMERICAN COCKER SPANIEL MIX.

What the?!

Would you have guessed this scruffy little girl to be a Chihuahua, Alaskan Malamute, Cocker Spaniel mix?

Would you have guessed this scruffy little girl to be a Chihuahua, Alaskan Malamute, Cocker Spaniel mix?

Chihuahua...okay, sure. But Cocker Spaniel? And the largest reach...Alaskan Malamute? I'll admit, I cracked up for a long time when I read that. It's SO surprising! And truly funny, if you remember how N.A.S.H.A. got her name. My Siberian Husky-obsessed husband named her as an acronym for "Not A Siberian Husky Again." The Husky is very commonly confused with the Malamute due to their similar appearance. I called my husband immediately: "Honey, it turns out she IS sort-of a Husky!" 

But Wisdom Panel doesn't just drop that bomb in your lap and walk away. They go into detail about the characteristics of each breed your dog likely displays and how closely related your dog is to each breed. 

the details of our canine dna test

Considering we've been calling N.A.S.H.A. a mixed terrier for her whole life, we were pretty surprised with the results of her DNA test. The main breeds the test detected were Chihuahua, Alaskan Malamute, and Cocker Spaniel, but she also has a lot of "mixed breed" ancestors, so really, she's a crazy mixed-up mutt, as we expected.

The results of our Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine DNA Test

The results of our Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine DNA Test

Though the breed composition of the "mixed breed" ancestors is unknown, Wisdom Panel provides a chart that describes what the most likely breed groups are...so cool! It turns out there is some terrier in there, but it's the smallest of the groups. Wow!

N.A.S.H.A.'s mixed-breed ancestry.

N.A.S.H.A.'s mixed-breed ancestry.

It turns out N.A.S.H.A is likely mostly of the sporting breed variety. I always knew she should have been a circus dog. Perhaps we can teach our old dog some new tricks!

In addition to outlining which breed groups are likely in her mixed-breed ancestry, our report detailed the characteristics of the main breeds in her genetic makeup.

Chihuahua characteristics.

Chihuahua characteristics.

I suspected N.A.S.H.A. had a bit of Chihuahua in her, and, sure enough, she exhibits quite a few Chihuahua traits. She is super playful, responds well to reward-based training, and is quite a barker (like, if a butterfly threatens to invade our home, all hell breaks loose). Aside from her size (slightly larger than a typical Chihuahua) and curved tail, I don't notice much physical resemblance. 

Alaskan Malamute characteristics.

Alaskan Malamute characteristics.

N.A.S.H.A. is incredibly smart when it comes to being responsive to commands and routines, which she may get from her Alaskan Malamute ancestry. We should have done some agility training with her! As far as physical resemblance? I don't see it! Just don't tell my husband...let him have his fantasy.

Cocker spaniel characteristics.

Cocker spaniel characteristics.

Again, the Cocker Spaniel is an energetic, happy breed, like the others. They respond well to reward-based training (YES), and bit defensive (butterfly invasion). I'm thinking her physical traits must come from her mixed breed ancestry, because, again, I just don't see it.

health benefits of a canine dna test

I previously outlined the process and benefits of conducting a canine dna test with Wisdom Panel. Aside from being fun and totally non-invasive, the test provides information about possible health risks and issues, which can be helpful in being proactive about your dog's health.

Through an MDR1 Screening, we discovered that N.A.S.H.A. does not have the MDR1 gene mutation that is common with mixed breed dogs. I believe that because of her mixed heritage, she's not obviously at risk for any major health issues.

Our MDR1 screening results.

Our MDR1 screening results.

should you perform a dna test on your dog?

Aside from being really fun to find out which breeds your dog decends from, especially if you have a mixed-breed dog, performing a DNA test on your dog can reveal characteristics you may want to be warned about or you may want to play into, such as intelligence or training capability. The test can also reveal health risks you can be proactive about.

Should you want to purchase a Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test for your dog, they are kindly offering our readers $15 OFF with PROMO CODE FF6001807KR

Has your dog taken a canine DNA test? Were you surprised with the results?

what to do if you hit a dog with your car

While traveling on the freeway last week, I witnessed something terrible. I saw a dog get hit by a car, fly up in the air, and then hit by another car. It was incredibly sad to witness, and since I can't imagine the dog survived, I hope that he didn't suffer. One can only speculate about how the heck a dog got onto a multi-lane freeway in the first place. And what should be done? Though my instinct told me to stop to help, I wasn't willing to put myself at risk by attempting to cross such a busy roadway. I called 911 and was directed to animal control, whom I told the approximate location of the dog...it was all I could think to do. So I got to thinking and researching, what should you do if you hit a dog with your car?

What to do if You Hit a Dog with Your Car–wellmindedpets.com

What to do if You Hit a Dog with Your Car–wellmindedpets.com

Both wild and domestic animals cause accidents on a fairly regular basis. But hitting a person's pet can have different emotional and moral implications, than, say, hitting a pigeon. 

you hit a dog. what should you do?

First thing's first. If you hit a dog, you should stop immediately. If you are on a highway, such as I was, and it would be dangerous to stop suddenly, immediately call 911 to report the incident. You will be put through to animal control.

Once you have stopped, move the dog out of the road, if you can safely do so. There are two reasons for this:

• to prevent further injury to the dog

• to prevent additional accidents from occurring as people swerve to avoid the dog

Always use caution when moving an injured dog. The animal is likely hurt, scared, and in distress, which can cause him to become aggressive. It's best to muzzle the dog in some way. You might loosely tie fabric around the muzzle or put a blanket loosely over the dog, which provides you some protection. 

Once the dog is safely out of harm's way, try to contact the owner. If there is no tag, you can call animal control or transport the dog to the nearest vet. The vet will be able to scan the dog for a microchip to try to identify the owner. 

Keep in mind that even if the dog looks okay, that might not be the case. The dog could be suffering from broken bones or internal injuries not outwardly visible. It is important that any dog that has been hit by a car get medical attention as soon as possible.

if i hit a dog, am i legally responsible?

In almost all cases, the owner of a loose dog is legally responsible. You are, however, required to do everything that is reasonable to help the dog, or you may be cited for animal cruelty, depending on your state's laws.

if i hit a dog, am i financially responsible?  

You are typically not financially responsible when if you hit a dog. It is the dog owner's responsibility to keep the dog under control, and if the dog gets lose and runs into the roadway, the owner is at fault. 

The dog owner's insurance policy will typically cover the cost of repair to your vehicle, and they are responsible for all vet bills. The dog owner may wish to pay out-of-pocket rather than file a claim. If the owner is uncooperative, you would most likely have a case in small claims court.

If the owner of the dog can not be located, your comprehensive coverage should cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

In the case of veterinary bills, if the owner can not be identified, the person who brought the dog in may be financially responsible. Be sure to discuss this with the vet so you know what to expect. Most vets will treat a dog in trauma, regardless, but it's best to know your financial responsibility in advance.

the bottom line

It is important to know your legal and financial responsibilities, if you hit a dog with your car. Regardless, I would hope that anyone who hit a dog would do the right thing–everything in their capability to help the dog while keeping themselves safe. 

breaking up is hard to do: when should a pet sitter fire a client?

As you likely know, I have been a professional pet sitter for over ten years, and  an amateur one since I was a wee lassie. When going in and out of countless homes and taking care of a wide array and large number of animals, I've seen a lot. Some people have OCD, so I'm afraid to touch anything, and other people look like they haven't seen a dust rag in decades, so I'm afraid to touch anything. Most clients thankfully fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. But considering cleanliness, alone, doesn't paint the whole picture.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: When Should a Pet Sitter Fire a Client? wellmindedpets.com

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: When Should a Pet Sitter Fire a Client? wellmindedpets.com

When a new potential client comes to me and we set up an initial consultation, it is important that they trust me and get a sense of who I am. After all, I'll be coming into their home when they are away and taking care of their fur babies. But just as I'm presenting myself to them, they are presenting themselves to me, and it's important that I get a sense of the kind of pet parent they are. Do they treat their animals well, and am I comfortable with them?

I've heard some nightmare stories from other pet sitters, and, thankfully, my bad experiences with clients have been few and far between. There was one occasion when I refused a job right there at the interview. It was summer, and the family was going away on a week's vacation. The family dog, a sweet-as-can-be Rottweiler, was an "outdoor dog." Though dogs love the outdoors, no dog should be made to live exclusively outdoors, especially in extreme temperatures. You've seen the recent news about how states are making it illegal to leave your dog out in freezing temperatures? (Yay!) Well, here in Phoenix, it can get to be 120 degrees in the summer, which can be just as harsh. The matriarch of this particular family told me that they planned to rip open the middle of a twenty pound bag of kibble, leave a trough of water, and could I please check on the dog four days into their seven-day vacation, just to be sure everything is okay?

I let her know that I had several concerns, and that I would be happy to check on her dog multiple times a day, as long as she let him in the house, otherwise I would have to refuse the job. I asked her what would happen if the dog tipped over the water trough on day one or if the open food became rancid or attracted a pack of coyotes. Not to mention the danger of her dog becoming overheated in the middle of the day. She nodded and said she understood my concerns. When we parted, she said she would consider my proposal and would be in touch. I never heard back. And, yes, I asked that local animal control keep an eye on the pooch. 

why a pet sitter might fire a client

That family never became a client, and I feel fortunate that I haven't had to refuse work like that very often. And only on a couple of occasions have I had to fire a client for nonpayment. I'm sorry...I can't take care of your pets again until you pay your balance from your vacation three months ago. Hmmm. Just as a client could fire a pet sitter for any number of reasons, a pet sitter can also choose to fire a client. Each professional pet sitter's threshold of pain is different, but here are a few reasons why a pet sitter might fire a client:

• nonpayment (duh)

• mistreatment of the animals by the owner

• not providing a key (don't make your pet sitter crawl through the doggie door)

• making unreasonable requests

• health concerns regarding cleanliness of the home

• not requesting enough visits to properly care for the animal(s)

• co-care (my clients sign terms and conditions that state that if someone else will also be providing care–such as a neighbor or relative–during the service period, I am released of ALL liability)

• anything that makes the pet sitter uncomfortable 

when the lines between professional and personal become blurred

Though I am a professional, I provide a personal service. Quite often my clients and I know personal things about each other, and we bond over their pets. So lines between professional and personal can become blurred. I establish reasonable boundaries so that I can provide a professional service in a personal way.

About a year ago, I experienced some unusual behavior in a long-standing client. Though I loved her dog very much and it was heartbreaking to have to part ways, the situation escalated to the point that I no longer felt comfortable working with her.

Charlene* first called me to her home to request periodic care for her therapy dog, Hannah. Charlene seemed like a very thorough pet parent. She let me know that Hannah was a therapy dog to her, but I didn't ask questions about her condition. She let me know that since Hannah was almost always with her, it would be difficult for the dog when she needed to be apart from her, so she wanted me to come to the home and spend time if she had to be gone for more than a couple of hours for work or some such thing. The initial consult was quite lengthy, as Charlene liked to chat, but she was very nice, and her dog, Hannah, was delightful.

Over the next several months, Charlene would request my services a couple of times a week, usually with a couple of days notice. She then started requesting that I take Hannah into my home for longer stretches. I don't normally take my clients' dogs into my home, but Hannah was so wonderful, that I agreed and didn't mind at all. We agreed on an hourly rate, and she always paid me immediately after every service.

As time went on, I took care of Hannah more and more often. And with little, if no, notice. Charlene's demeanor became more frantic, as if she was always in the midst of some emergency. If I didn't answer her call, she would call over and over and over again. I began to question her mental stability, but her dog was great and she paid me well, so I was patient with her.

I realized I had to set some boundaries when she showed up at my front door with her dog unannounced. "Charlene, I'm happy to take Hannah today, but, in the future, I'll need you to set up service in advance. I don't mind last-minute bookings, but I can't guarantee that I'll be available on little or no notice." She apologized, handed me the leash, and frantically made her way to her car and drove off. She picked up Hannah later that afternoon and paid me, as usual.

Over the next few weeks, Charlene started to call me more frequently to take care of Hannah, and our phone chats became quite lengthy. I'm not one to cut people off if they are sharing sensitive information with me, but I began to feel uncomfortable. Charlene seemed to be in some trouble, which is why she was asking me to take Hannah so frequently. She just didn't want to expose her to that. She shared with me that her husband, who lived in another state, was "after her" and was emotionally abusive. She would stay in this hotel or that hotel to escape him, and she'd leave Hannah with me for days at a time. I noticed that Hannah seemed tired all the time. She would come over and sleep and sleep and sleep. I think she was exhausted from dealing with her owner's emotional distress.

It all came to a head when we were giving a birthday party for my teenaged son. He had a bunch of his friends over, and we had some family there to celebrate, as well. The doorbell rang unexpectedly in the middle of the party, and there stood Charlene and Hannah. Charlene asked if she could come in. I told her that it wasn't a good time...that we were hosting a party. She begged, and said it would only be for a minute, so I let her in. 

Hannah made herself right at home, and Charlene collapsed in a heap on the floor just inside the front door. She was in emotional distress, running from her husband. She asked if she and Hannah could stay the night in my home. I told her that I didn't feel comfortable with that, that Hannah was welcome to stay, but suggested Charlene go to a hotel or shelter. After a couple of hours of conversation, I realized that Charlene was making things up. Her mental instability had gradually gotten to the point where she thought the mob and the pope were after her. She would have to travel to Iran and "take out" the men who were doing this to her. She wanted me to keep Hannah. I told her I didn't feel comfortable with her in my home, asked that she leave, but let her know that her dog could stay as long as she needed. I suggested she seek psychological help. 

She slept in her car outside my house that night. 

The next morning, Charlene came to the door to retrieve Hannah. As much as I loved Hannah, I knew this relationship had to end. Charlene said she understood, and promised she would seek psychological treatment. I watched she and Hannah drive off, and I cried for Hannah. I don't know if she ever did seek help, and I don't know where she and Hannah are, now, but I never heard from her again.

I contacted the police out of concern for her, and they said though they couldn't give me details, they already had a file on her. I left it in the hands of the authorities. Though I think about Hannah every day, I've made peace with the situation.

Part of me feels awful for breaking it off. I loved that dog. But when the client–however mentally unstable–disregarded professional boundaries that I had expressed to her and her behavior began to affect my family, I knew it was time to break up. This was an extreme case that I let continue way too long, but it taught me valuable lessons about setting boundaries with clients and recognizing when I'm being taken advantage of.

Are you a pet sitter or other professional that provides a personal service? Have you ever had to break up with a client?

* All names have been changed in the interest of confidentiality.