Take The Lead: Choosing a Leash

Cirneco Dell'Etna, Sicilian Hound puppy
What should you use to curb your dog from pulling like a Siberian husky in the Iditarod? How tight should a leash be and where should it fasten for each body type? Read on to better understand the “best fit” for your pet!

1. We will start with the plain vanilla Standard leash that clips onto a collar around your dogs neck. This is best for well-trained dogs that don’t pull. Slower seniors dogs also benefit from this minimal lead. Most pet stores have a basic nylon standard leash for around $10 if you are on a budget. Some of the sturdier standard leashes recommended on-line:

A. K9 Standard Leather leash is 6-Feet long, 3/4-Inch thick, with a strong bolt for large-breed dogs (around $18).

B. The Lupine Padded Handle lead comes with a chewing guarantee – best for puppies and chewers – they will replace the chewed-up leash

2. Adjustable leashes have several loops along the leash for the owner to shorten or lengthen using the strong clasp. These are great for training purposes and very similar to a standard leash, fastening onto the collar at the neck. Activedog.com sells a variety of adjustable leashes.

3. A retractable leashe works like a measuring tape, giving the owner control to shorten or lengthen the nylon band up to 26 feet. The rope band retracts into a plastic case with a handle but can be locked in place at any length. This leash is best for dogs that do not jump/wrap around trees or else it will get tangled. A small, lightweight version is the Zip Lead Retractable Leash that fits in your back pocket!

4. For smaller dogs, a Martingale lead-leash works well and acts as an all-in-one collar and leash. The collar portion slips over the head and tightens when the lead is pulled. A plastic tube slides down the lead to keep the collar in place. Mendota sells a variety of braided versions.

Additional Considerations:

*If you walk your dog early in the morning or late at night, a Reflective Leash is recommended. “The reflective material has been embedded into another material, such as nylon or leather.”

*Width is important when you are walking a larger dog. The wider the leash, the more durability. A wider leash is recommended for fast-growing breeds.

*Length – Smaller breeds and seniors may only need 6 ft of leash, where as dogs with more energy my benefit from 15 or 30 foot leashes.

*No Chain Leashes! “Don’t ever use a chain leash, even on the so-called dangerous breeds. Chain leashes are not effective training tools and they can seriously injure a dog.”

*If your dog tends to chew through leashes, you may want to try a Lupine brand: “Every item is covered by our Even If Chewed” Lifetime Guarantee.”

Home Alone


At first I was devastated when you left me alone. I would meow and wail and whine. Pace around the house and claw your favorite chair out of spite. Throw myself on the bed in defeat and wait agonizingly for your return.

But then one day it dawned on me – you weren’t there. You couldn’t scold me, or stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. I could counter surf, taste the crumbs on the tabletop, pee in the plant, or drink from the toilet and NO ONE WOULD KNOW! How liberating.

Now, I look for signs of when you might be leaving: tension in the air, family members rounded- up. Then the shoes and coats come out of the closet. Finally, the jangle of keys and slap of the door as it closes behind you. My excitement level rises up as the car pulls down the driveway.

Warning! Read no further if you want to remain ignorant of how the cat plays while the mice (or owners) are away.

The first thing I do is get a refreshing sip of toilet water. Then over to the kitchen to clean the countertops. If the butter is left out, I might lick the top once for good luck. Next, a casual stroll across your pillows, pausing to scratch my ears and fling random fur. I will proceed to press my cute little nose against every window, exhaling briefly to make the maximum smudge mark.

Finally, I seek out any bug/mouse/old stinky thing I can find and scoop it into my mouth, carry it over to your clothes basket, and bury it inside. You won’t find it before washing and it will give your clothes a nice pungent smell.

If you are starting to sweat and worry, may I suggest investing in a kitty cam? I hear that Dropcam is affordable, has high-definition video, and can be accessed with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

If you are going away for more than a day, please make sure you have my favorite pet sitter from Four Paws come visit me and give me tasty treats!
She loves to play with me and she will let you know if I have done anything bad but more than anything you will know I am safe and sound.

Bird Brain


Do you know why cats love to watch birds?

Because they make the best high-pitched noises!

They are jumpy, quirky and never still!

Most of all, they appeal to our  predator instincts!

Their movements are startling and they come right up to the window (!) oblivious to my twitching kitty whiskers pressed close.

The bright red Cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina, so easy to see against the dreary brown branches of winter.Male-Northern-Cardinal

If you hear me emit a low growl as I bird watch, it’s the excitement bubbling out my throat and I just can’t control what will happen next!

I might jump at the window, or sit for hours with my tail twitching, as I visualize the soft feathery neck between my teeth.

A bird like toy you may want to pick up for me: Da Bird.

This cat toy consists of a 36″ rod, nylon string and feathers that mimic the action of a real bird in flight. It costs around $3 and can be found at any pet store, including :
Natural Pet Discount Super Store

I do have one worry: They said on the news that “New studies have shown that several songbird species have been suffering badly as a result of rising levels of predation.

Population declines of the tree sparrow (down 89 per cent), bullfinch (down 56 per cent) and house sparrow (down 74 per cent) have all been blamed on (increased predators) and the resurgence of the sparrowhawk in both rural and urban areas.”

Oh no! Will I look out my window one day and see only grey branches?

Do your part, pet owners, and PLEASE keep your kitties inside.

If they insist on venturing out, make sure they wear a bell on their collar to warn birds of their approach.

Hey, I don’t want to be bossy, but do I also don’t want to lose my whistling, chirping, hopping BIRDIES!!

The Low-Down On Triangle Dog Parks


Does your dog enjoy frolicking with other dogs?

Does he want to greet every pooch that comes his way?

Then it may be time to discover one of  the Triangle’s Dog Parks.

Key things to consider about your dog before you go:

1. His temperament (does he get along well with others? Tolerate all sizes and energy levels)?
2. His eating habits (if he enjoys eating poop then you will have to be vigilante)
3. His vaccination records (is he up to date on Rabies, Bordetella, etc)?

Also note, not all dog parks are free and some require you to pick up a permit/pass ahead of time.


CARY (1 Park)
Cary Gobold Dog Park
2050 NW Maynard Rd
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 469-9142
*Fee:  $40 for Cary residents (1 dog only) and $80 for non-Cary residents
Not open to general public. Must have dog registered with Town of Cary. Registered pass allows entry through electronic gate.
Hours: 7 am to 10 pm 7 days/week
Amenities:  Five-foot high chain link fence with screening, paved entrance & electronic gate
Lighted areas for small dogs and for large dogs
Wood chips for ground cover
Water stations
Information kiosk
Pet cleanup areas

Homestead Dog Park
100 Northern Park Drive
(919) 968-2787
Hours:  Daily, dawn to dusk
*No Fee
Amenities: Very large 20,000 square foot, high fence, water stations, benches, large rocks for dogs to play on

Southern Community Park
1000 Dogwood Acres Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Amenities: 2 acres, separate small and large dog areas, benches, water

DURHAM (4 Parks)
Durham Dog Park
400 Cleveland St
Durham, NC, US 27701
(919) 560-4355
Fees: Annual registration.  Residents: $17
Non-City Residents: $22
Multiple Dog Discount: $2 off fee for second (and each additional) dog
Amenities: Water, Benches, Waste Bag Dispenser
This fenced, off-leash dog park is one of the largest in the area. Four separate areas for small dogs, large dogs, and training and obedience.

Downtown Durham Dog Park
A “paw-ket” park located at the corner of Roxboro and Elliott streets.
*Separate areas for small and large dogs
*No Fee, open to public
Amenities: Benches, Waste Bag Dispenser, Water
*Please note, this park is maintained by the local neighborhood.

North Gate Dog Park
Address: 400 W Lavender Ave, Durham, NC 27704
Phone:(919) 560-4355
Amenities: water spigots, both small and large dog play area

Pineywood Park
400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC 27
*No Fee, open to all
Amenities: 3 Acres of play space,  Benches, Waste Bag Dispenser, Water
Has separate small dog park (under 30 lbs)

RALEIGH (3 Parks)   
Carolina Pines Dog Park
2305 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC 27603
*No Fee, open to public
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 7 days/week
Amenities:Water available, picnic tables, *Almost entirely shaded, large area
Three separate areas: Large dog park, Small dog park , and a training area where the Wake County SPCA will do training.

Millbrook Dog Park
1905 Spring Forest Rd,
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 872-4156
Hours: Sunrise – 10 pm 7 days/week

Oakwood Dog Park
910 Brookside Drive
Raleigh, NC 27604
**Free to the public (sunrise to sundown)
Both small and large dog play area
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset 7 days/week

Dog-Toy Destruction – What 3 Toys Really Hold Up?


Is your pooch able to eviscerate a stuffed animal (or other dog toy) in under an hour? Then you may own a dog-toy shredder.

Shredder: Any dog that pulls all the stuffing out of their toy, pops the eyeballs off, locates and removes the squeaky inside, and basically destroys the toy in under a day. Why do they destroy their play toys? It could be instinctual.

The stimulation they get out of  acting as they would in the wild, “catching” a small prey animal and then eating it. It could also be boredom or lack of stimulation. In the past, toys didn’t seem to last, irregardless of the indestructibility rating.

Now, we have the benefit of Internet product reviews and websites devoted to testing out the pros and cons of competing brands.

Below are three highly recommended, durable toys to try:

1. For dogs that prefer stuffed animals:
Small Dogs: Kyjen  Invincibles Mini Plush Dog Toy
Pros: Plush, easy to carry around, durable plush, stimulates natural prey drive, squeaker

Large Dogs: Skineeze
Pro: Stuffing Free, durable, soft and furry, stimulates natural prey drive, squeaker

Check this website out if interested in the Skineeze.

2. For dogs that prefer to chew:
Rubber Kong
Pro: Can be filled with treat, aides dental health by cleaning teeth and gums, prevents boredom
You can find Kongs at Petco.

3. For dogs that like to play fetch/chase balls:
The Tug and Toss is a ball with a handle on it that the dog can grip with his teeth.
Pro: Made of extremely durable non-toxic polyethylene . The dog can grip it in his jaws and it will not deflate, even if punctured. They come in several sizes, for toy dogs up to large-breed.

Jolly Ball link

The gripper ball is another option, with a squeaker inside

The key to remember is that you pay more for a more durable toy. Putting up a favorite, cheaper toy, and only allowing your dog to play with it in limited amounts of supervised time can prolong the life span.

Water: A Cat’s Friend or Foe?


Today the forecast is for rain… all day.

For us cats, that means severe depression, all-day napping, and dreams of somewhere dry – like the desert.

See, we don’t exactly hate water, we just don’t like getting wet!

If you have ever left a faucet running or dripping, then you know that our curiosity demands we investigate.

In fact, please take us into the bathroom as you get ready  – the shower is music to our ears.

We love to chase the water droplets down the glass!

Things we love about water:

1. Movement  –  It wiggles when we touch it, but doesn’t get away.

2. Freshness – One water feature that may interest us in drinking more often: the Flowing Pet Fountain!

It plugs into the wall and a small pump circulates water in a constant spinning motion that is fascinating to watch. For hours.  On the box it reads: “the fountain oxygenates the water supply and has a charcoal filter for removing stench and bad taste.” (For cats with more refined taste).cat.fountain

Myths about water: That all cats dislike it.

My wise owner was reading about wild cats and how they enjoy an occasional swim to cool down: “Some big cats in the wild, especially those in hot, arid areas, regularly swim and bathe to stay cool or catch dinner.

The Asian Fishing cat is a skilled swimmer, with partially webbed paws, that dives to nab its prey.”

You mean it goes UNDER the water? Disgusting!

I guarantee you that the Asian Fishing cat is not anywhere in my family tree.

I prefer my fish pre-caught and pre-packaged in a little tin can labeled: TUNA, in oil. (Better for my shiny coat).

So, it is still raining two hours later.

I opened one eye to lazily watch Animal Planet and they were comparing the far superior domesticated cat to the less particular wild cat.

Supposedly, the wild “Turkish Van cat actually delights in getting wet”. (Who got inside this cats head?)

“His ancestors did, too, plunging into lake waters to better cope with the extreme summer heat in the Lake Van region of Turkey, where the breed originated.

They have a unique texture to their cashmere-like coats that make them waterproof which lets them enjoy swimming and other water games.”

This sounded highly suspicious to me, so I checked The International Cat Association (TICA) website to verify a cat LIKING water and found out it was true!

Honestly, what is this world coming to? I believe cats should not swim, our paw-baths are good enough.

Water is not our friend.

When a Cat Discovers Snow!


I was peering out the window, zeroing in on a tweety-bird, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A thousand white, floaty things obscuring my vision!

Are they bugs? Itty bitty birds?

Odd that they only fly down to the ground. Maybe they are edible?

No, my tingly cat-senses tell me these white floaties aren’t alive. I must investigate…

With my tail twitching in anticipation, I leap to the door and meow.

Curiosity is getting the better of me and I must get outside.

First, to verify that the floaties are not edible. Second, to determine if they are dangerous -don’t want to waste one of my nine lives.

After louder, more frequent yeowling my owner finally opens the door, and I advance with caution, tail twitching.

Every smart predator will tell you that half the battle is stalking your prey, anticipating what it will do next. The white floaties have no scent, which is frustrating, so I use my eyes to gage their next move.

They always fall down, and then huddle into piles on the ground.

My best guess is to single out a few in mid-air and catch them in my paw for closer inspection.

I dart out of my hiding place, wildly scrambling on the slippery driveway, all four paws flying through the air.

My surprise attack turns into a skid as I bring down the floaties – but wait!

The minute I catch one, it disappear, leaving behind only a wet spot!

This makes me very angry, and I shake each paw vigorously.

Mommy appears at the doorway, laughing and calling out “Don’t you like the snow, Slider?”


300 Cats and Counting


A unique story lies behind why an Italian artist with goats would start a rescue for cats.
Siglinda Scarpa, grew up in Italy, rescuing cats whenever she could.
Her dream was to “have a place where even cats that were unadoptable could live in comfort, with the care, attention and love they deserve.
No cat would be refused due to age, illness or disposition.
The ultimate goal for each cat would be adoption into a loving home.
But the Refuge would be designed so that they could spend ample periods of time living comfortably, awaiting adoption.”

As the founder of The Goat House Refuge seven years ago, Siglinda uses her own acreage and previous pottery studio to house the cats.
The Refuge name refers to several goats living on her property and the Goathouse Pottery Studio in back
that are housed on the property.
There are approximately 300 cats at any given time, with kittens being housed in a self-contained “Kitty Cabana”.
They can roam the outdoor, fenced acreage or enter through a kitty-door into the main “Cat House”.
Sick cats, old cats (Grandma currently holds the record at 19 years of age!), cats awaiting surgery – these are cared for by volunteers and veterinarians that donate their services.

“Our goal is to connect every animal with a loving family who wants to share their life with a wonderful feline companion.
Typically, 10-20 cats are adopted every month from our facility.”
The Refuge visiting hours are from 12:00 to 3:00 pm every day of the year.
Volunteer staff answer questions about each cat’s personality, age and if it enjoys being around other cats/dogs or would be better as an “only child.”

Siglinda donates proceeds from her pottery and special line of coffee to care for the cats.
She is having a special 40% off Valentine’s Sale on Feb 15 and 16 from 11 am to 4 pm at her Goathouse Gallery.
Her famous cat mugs, heart-shaped plates, and sculptures will be on display.

If you are interested in visiting the Gallery, her address is: 680 Alton Alston Road, Pittsboro, NC.
Here is the event flyer.

If you would like to visit the pottery gallery, adopt a cat, or volunteer, please check out her website:  Goathouse Refuge

You just have to see it to believe it!!

Thanks so much to Nicole Beatty  one of our pet sitters for writing this article. You can find Nicole and her daughter volunteering at the Goathouse.

What’s In That BIG BOX?

Cat entertainment can be really affordable – my winter favorite is called the  BIG BOX.

To find this novelty, please stop by any grocery/drug store and ask for a BIG cardboard box, at least three feet wide.
When you bring it home, tip it sideways and open the flaps part way.
You see, I am curious by nature, and this provides a new space for me to explore.
A fortress to hide inside, a place to attack from, a different napping spot – boxes are so versatile!

Please cut a hole in the box side so that I can peek out, or perhaps slide a paw through and swipe at anything that passes by!

Two more features you can add to the BIG BOX that I simply adore:

1. Taping a piece of string to the side and dangling it over the opening
2. Rubbing cat-nip onto a toy and tossing it inside the box

Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is 1,000 times that of a human?
The smell of the box to me is exotic and interesting.
With one sniff I can identify what was inside and who handled the box.

Fascinating fact: “ The human nose has about 5 million olfactory receptors, microscopic proteins that allow us to detect odors.
With 45 million to 80 million receptors, cats have a far better sense of smell—but they can’t measure up to the average dog, whose snout holds between 149 million and 300 million receptors.”

So if I seem bored with my same old toys, grab a box or three the next time you are out shopping!
Four Paws Pet Sitting Services has some really good and fun cat sitters.
Call them! 919-388-PAWS

Tennis For Dogs


Today was sunny with a light breeze and I headed out with my owner for a few games of tennis.

Now, I have an important role and it’s called “Retriever”.

Anyone with a medium to large sized dog can play this version:

Step 1: Owners hit the tennis ball back and forth inside the gate and you follow it with your eyes (great neck exercise) outside the gate.

Step 2: When the yellow tennis ball goes outside the court, you must hunt it down (mental challenge and nose exercise)

Step 3: Grab ball in mouth and carry back to tennis court (strengthening jaw/neck muscles)

Step 4: Occasionally, I find a mystery ball that doesn’t have my owners scent. This one is called a “keeper” and I get to keep it all to myself!!

For dog owners everywhere, there is a great toy that accompanies tennis balls and makes it easier to reach down, scoop it up, and throw it farther: Chuckit! Sport Launcher found in most pet stores and on-line.

There is also a website for affordable bulk dog tennis balls that don’t have wool so I will not get hairballs: Pet Tennis Balls

Do you need a pet sitter in the Raleigh, Cary Apex, NC area?

We would be honored to be your fur baby’s sitter or dog walker and we love to play games and throw balls.

Call Four Paws Pet Sitting Services! 919- 388-PAWS