MISSING: Companion of 31 Years. Little Green Man.

Beautiful green parrot in the rainforest , Yasuni National Park,MISSING: Companion of 31 years. Little green man. Prone to fits of cursing when stressed. Petey the Parrot. Call: (734) 555-5555.

Believe it or not, I just returned from vacationing in a town where a missing parrot was now commanding a $1500 reward for capture and return! He had been with the family for 20 years!

Throughout the week I would catch glimpses of fliers and posters in the boarded – up shops. A bird with a crazy cowlick of feathers spraying up behind his foreboding image.Petey simply up and left his owner when she opened the door for company. Perhaps it was a desperate attempt to be with like-minded birds singing outside in the Oak tree. Or maybe it was simply the instinctive urge to soar free. Either way, when the opportunity presented itself, the parrot surged forward and seized it by the tail-feathers!

What should you do if your pet goes missing? lost-dog-flyer

Step 1. Make sure to have a microchip put in your pet – they are tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice, that can be implanted in your pet’s skin by many veterinarians and animal shelters. They are designed to work for 25 years!

Step 2. Find a photo of your pet looking cute and make fliers to post around the neighborhood and any nearby parks.

Step 3. Offer a reward, even a minimal amount will incentivize neighbors to pursue your pet should they glimpse him

Step 4. Continue to check with local Animal Shelters to see if he has been turned in or captured by Animal Control

Step 5. Contact the National Pet Recovery Hotline (1-800-252-7894)

and/or a service that investigates and tracks missing and sometimes stolen pets:


Dogs and Fireworks Don’t Mix

Independence Day. Liberty Enlightening The World

Independence Day is fast-approaching, and we’ll soon be commemorating the birth of our nation with pool parties, barbecues, and FIREWORKS!

For humans, this can be a great celebration; but, for some pets, these festivities can be the source of immense stress.

Did you know that animal control services across the nation typically see a 30% increase in lost pets around this time of the year?

Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise or play before the fireworks begin.
A tired pet may lack the energy to even notice the noise.

Speaking of noise, have your TV on fairly loud or some music to help cover up some of the sound of fireworks.

You can help your dog with the anxiety by using a Thundershirt. They really work!

There are some calming products to use such as chamomile, artificial pheromones and nutritional supplements.

As always, make sure your dog has a ID tag.

Kitty Intuition

Woman With Cat And Laptop Look deep into my golden cat-eyes and you will     see… empathy. Yes, Slider kitty knows when you are sad, that is why I come sit in your lap. When you are tense, I massage your legs with my kitty pseudo-claws, a kind of ancient Egyptian pain/pleasure technique.

If I sense you are bored sitting in front of the TV, I will embrace my inner entertainer and spring over the chair, tumble into a box, attack your throw pillow like a sumo wrestler. There, I got a smile!

I recently participated in a study done by the journal Animal Cognition about whether cats use social referencing.

This means, looking at my owners face for cues about whether I should be afraid of something new.

The test was a fan with streamers blowing away from it and an “escape” door behind it to get out of the tiny room.

One group of pet owners was told to respond positively to the fan and smile. My group, the “negative response owners” made scared noises, backed away from the fan and made eye contact with their cats showing fear.

“The screen was the only possible way out,” the authors write, “and thus looking at the screen and then at the fan potentially suggests the cats were worried about the fan and wanted to get away from it.”

In addition, cats in the negative-owner group began moving earlier than their counterparts in the positive group, “potentially showing that they started looking for an escape route sooner.” So we do look to you for guidance!

Another way I can be of help to you dear owners is with my amazing “Purrring” sound. Did you know cats purr at a vibrational frequency of between 25 – 50 Hertz (Hz) – the perfect frequency for healing!

Ask any of your friends who live with cats and they will agree that a cat’s purr is one of the most relaxing sounds, greatly decreasing stress levels after a long day.

Finally dear owner, know that affection and touch are very important to me – and I love ear rubs! Keep an eye out for my upright tail.

When I walk toward you or your guest with a raised tail, and then rub on their legs, this is a display of affection.

I am saying “This person I judge and find worthy”!

Know the Signs for Heat Exhaustion

Dog In Hot DayWarmer weather means humans take precautions when exercising, such as bringing a water bottle, putting on a hat and dressing lighter. Why not extend the same courtesy to your pooch? Yes, your favorite furry baby is panting like crazy because he is a HOT DOG!

Overheated dogs can suffer heat exhaustion, leading up to heat stroke. After your walk, keep an eye out for the following possible signs of heat exhaustion:

Panting, followed by disorientation and fast, noisy breathing could signal overheating; staggering, collapsing or convulsing, bloodshot eyes, bright red or blue gums, vomiting and diarrhea, unconsciousness.

If you have a hunting dog (hound, jack russel, etc), they are unlikely to stop hunting or retrieving even when they become dangerously hot! You should watch him dog closely for overheating signs. Yes, your pooch will literally collapse before he will stop the chase! Make sure to take frequent breaks and submerge him in cool water, such as a river, lake, pond or even splash his underbelly from your water bottle. Ideally, let your dog fully submerge his body in the cold water.

If you live in a neighborhood, don’t leave your dog outside all day once the temperature gets above 85 degrees -even if you have a fenced yard and shade! After a walk or run, observe your dog carefully. If he appears to be in distress, concentrate cool (not cold) water on his head, neck and in the areas underneath the front and back legs. Yes, dogs cool from the bottom up so focus on teh paws first! Put a fan on him if you have one and a bowl of cool water nearby. Short potty breaks are ok, but avoid the outdoors or anymore exercise for the rest of the day

North Carolina is known for sun and heat starting in June. Leaving a dog outside in this heat after exercise can lead to heatstroke and it can escalate in a matter of just minutes! What does this mean? “Cells of the body rapidly start to die. The brain swells, causing seizures. Lack of blood supply to the GI tract causes ulcers. Dehydration leads to irreversible kidney damage.”-AKC. Apply cool cloths to your dog as you call the closest vet. Explain the symptoms so they can be prepared to meet you with an IV of fluids if necessary. They may also apply alcohol to the ears, foot pads and groin to safely lower the temperature. In extreme cases of overheating, your dog may need a breathing tube and artificial ventilation.

Here are some Summer Walk Solutions to decrease the likelihood of heatstroke.:

1. Start your stroll before the sun comes up early in the morning
2. Carry a water bottle and collapsable dish for your dog
3. Take frequent breaks, preferably in the shade
4. With older dogs, shorten the walk and avoid hot pavement

On days when it is in the high 90’s, simply avoid outside runs/walks and provide a kiddie pool or sprinkler play for your dog instead!

Encounter With a Wild Cat

Close Up Stray Cat Eating On The Floor

Looking out my window, I spied a cat tail disappearing under my car! A moment later, the kitty pounced on a lizard sunning itself on the rocks. The lizard escaped, the cat circled back, and I noticed how thin it was.

My apartment complex does not allow outdoor cats. The fact that there was a kitty outside right now meant that either:

A. He had escaped

B. He was a stray that had wandered onto our property

Slowly, I made my way to the sliding glass door and slipped outside. In a high pitched falsetto I called out “kitty kitty kitty” only to have it glance my way and flee for the woods. Definitely stray: no collar, not social, the fur looked matted and dirty.

Next question: What should I do? Leave the cat alone, trusting that it is a natural hunter and will find food during these warm months? Call pet control? (I would feel too guilty that they might put it down). Catch the cat myself and try to find a rescue that would take it in?

Foolishly, I chose the third option. Armed with an old pet carrier, a can of tuna and a blanket I headed over to where the kitty had fled. The brush was thick with prickly blackberry bushes and poison ivy – not at all easy to get through! I left the opened can of stinky fish near a clearing and crouched behind a big pine to wait. Reading my book for about 30 minutes was all it took. The kitty slunk forward, peering warily at my hiding spot. His hunger was stronger than his fear, so he inched up to the can and started eating big gulps of tuna. My plan was to toss the blanket over the cat, wrap it up, and place into the dog carrier.

What actually happened was: the blanket landed on half of the cat, getting tangled in the plants all around. The kitty bolted back into the forest before I could get my arms around him. The only thing I came away with was a bad case of poison ivy on my my ankles!

Occasionally, I will catch a glimmer of fluff on a sunny day down by the rock pile. The cat seems to be putting on weight and has found a place for itself to thrive without human intervention. The lesson from this story: let wildcats roam free.

Why Do We At Four Paws Require 2 Keys?…glad you asked!

Collage of cute pets isolated on white

Many people ask why does the sitter need 2 keys?

By having 2 keys will insure that even in emergencies we will be there to care for your beloved fur babies.

We want to make the pet sitting process easy for you while providing excellent care.

Being in business for 14 years has taught us a lot in being prepared for something that can go wrong.

The last thing we want to do is make unnecessary stress for our clients and their pets by having to call a locksmith or your emergency contacts.

So what kind of emergencies are we prepared for with having 2 keys?

A key can bend, get stuck or break off in the lock.

The sitter may have an illness or emergency.key_cabinet

We are not in the habit of losing a key but it could happen. Our sitters carry your key on a lanyard and the key is securely marked so no one would know what home the key belongs to.

Sometimes we may have 2 sitters doing your visits and each sitter needs a key. We will not hide a key on your property.

A sitter could accidentally lock themselves out.

We keep the 2nd key in a locked file cabinet in the office.

After your visits, the first key will also be returned to the office unless of course you are a daily client or very often and in that case the sitter keeps the key secure.

Having a backup is always important! So, one of the biggest lessons in this many years is that 2 keys is a must!

Makes sense, doesn’t it?





Should I Let My Pet Sitter Keep My Keys?


We are often asked is it safe for you to keep our keys? and Why don’t you return them when you are done?

Our policy at Four Paws Pet Sitting Services is that you give us 2 keys and we do keep the keys on file unless you object. (it’s up to you!)


Your keys are never marked with your name or address. We use an ID # on each key and all keys are stored in a locked file cabinet at our office.

Now, keep an open mind and see why it is beneficial for us to keep your keys.

1) We will have your key for future pet visits. We are always ready to be there for your fur babies. If we don’t have your key, a time to meet will need to be set up and if this is last minute, that could be a problem. There will also be a trip charge.This is the last thing you need when getting ready to go out of town.

2) Last minute visits! It is wonderful to have us as your trusted pet sitter and know that we can be there for last minute visits. Life happens and people are called out of town with little warning.

3) Lock outs. Have you ever been locked out of your home? We can come to the rescue and it won’t cost you like a locksmith.Next blog, read why we ask for 2 keys!


Four Paws offers pet sitting, dog walking, overnight visits, pet taxi and house visits in these areas: Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, and some of Clayton, NC.

New clients may send us a email and inquire about our services HERE.

Four Paws Pet Sitting Services (919) 388- PAWS (7297)




Best Friend Blues

Loss of a PetToday I learned of the passing of a friends mini-dachshund dog, Jessie, by group email. She asked that people not send anything but fond memories. As tears streamed down my face, I realized that replying to her email was not an option for me. I had to go get a card, something tangible that I could give to her – and I phoned before I drove over to hand-deliver it. Have you ever received an email or phone call about a friends pet passing? How did you respond? Have you ever lost a pet? Most of the books and on-line articles have great content, yet at the end of each pet’s story is a unique choice: do you share your grief with friends, or do you keep it private and bury the beloved pet in your own yard?

This morning I went to Rochelle’s home and as she opened the door, it took us both a moment to register that there would be no excited greeting, no barking or dog kisses now that Jessie was gone. We walked over to the kitchen, and I saw that she had yet to pick up the dog bowls or toys scattered around the floor. I offered to put them all in a bag and she nodded, dropping heavily into a chair. “I feel depressed, her death has completely upset my daily routine. I don’t want to get out of bed for a morning walk without Jessie. I don’t want to see my friends with dogs, it hurts too much!”

This is where she shared that her best friend was still not buried. “People kept telling me I should just have her cremated, but I couldn’t get into the car with her body, or part with it – I want her here where I can visit her – maybe even make a little memorial. “I understand.” “So will you help me bury her out in the back?” “Of course, I replied.” Jessie was simply wrapped in a plastic bag and swaddled by Rochelle’s favorite bedspread, resting in the garden shed where the temperature was 20 degrees!. We used a laundry basket to transport her little mummified body out to the waiting burial spot and had a quiet moment in her honor.

Afterward, I realized that what Rachel needed most was a friend to walk beside her through this tough emotional time, coaxing her along to complete the next steps in her grieving process. “…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kabil Gibran. I also handed her a list of resources like the one below:

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: (877) GRIEF-10

Faithful Friends Pet Crematorium, Raleigh: (919) 874-0014.

Pet Rest Cemetery, Durham: (919) 596-3895.

Pet Bereavement Counseling, Judith Stutts, Ph.D.LPC, (336)625-1400 

SPCA of Wake County, 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, 919-772-2326

http://www.spcawake.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Humane_Ed_Pet_Loss_Support_Group. Meets the

third Sunday of the month, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

University of Florida Pet Loss Hotline: (352) 392-4700, ext. 4080(this hotline will call you back

From anywhere and not charging you anything)

Hints to Bring your Vet Bill Down

Dog Getting Vaccination My dog and I cringed at the same time, he was sniffing the wastebasket (formaldehyde or alcohol cotton  balls inside) and I was eying the total charges for our 30-minute visit! “Why is this Fecal charge so high- aren’t you simply scanning the poop?” The poor teen-aged receptionist looked scared so I reigned in in my inner-lion and took out the credit card. The annual checkup is a necessary evil, I repeated quietly like a mantra. It exposes potential bigger problems, before they have escalated, so I don’t have to take a trip to the emergency vet at 2 am.
“Would you like to get a years supply of the heart-worm meds for only $214? It’s half-off and includes the flea/tic medication” the girl tentatively ventured. “Are you KIDDING ME?” I wanted to shout! My bill is now over $400.
Resigning myself to just getting out of the vet’s office before I say something I’ll regret, I clamp my mouth shut and simply nod yes.
When I get inside my car, I curse and bang the steering wheel like a swindled pirate – robbed of all my gold! What just happened?
Next I phoned several friends to compare vet bills and pricing> Not one of us left the annual visit without paying over $200! How can this cost be lowered? Opt out of some options below:

Consider fewer shots. Many communities require yearly rabies shots, and vets have long recommended other annual vaccinations to protect against certain deadly viruses. About 66 percent of the 188 million visits to the vet by cats and dogs in 2001 involved vaccinations, and this bread-and-butter business made up 14 percent of the average vet’s income. Yet if your pet is an indoor-only cat or senior dog, some of these shots may not  be needed.

Vaccine Boosters: average cost for booster shots ranges between $18-$25. Ask your vet if their is a generic form of the drug.

Heartworm Test: average cost is $45-60. If your pet is an indoor-only, you may opt to skip this.

Fecal Exam: average cost $25-$45. Fecal exams are performed to identify gastrointestinal parasites.

Dental Cleaning:  costs $70-$400, and will vary for dogs and cats. Frequently the vet assist scrapes off the tartar that causes gingivitis.

Geriatric Screening: Older pets (typically 7 years and up) will require geriatric screening. This is a more comprehensive exam that may include complete blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and more. The typical cost for this type of exam is $85-$110.

Allergy Testing:  Skin testing generally costs $195-$250, and blood testing generally costs $200-$300. Performed if your pet is showing symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, oozing eyes. 

Remember the wise words of Consumer Reports: “You don’t have to buy prescription drugs from vets. More than 600 drugs used to treat pets are actually human drugs, and you can find some of the best deals at ordinary drugstores.  if there’s a lower-priced human drug equivalent you can pick up at a pharmacy.

Are Dogs Evolving to be Smarter than Cats?

 Dog Reads Newspaper

I was cloaked with invisibility beneath the bird feeder, keeping a close eye on the squirrels, when who should appear but the neighbor’s poodle, Spud. We had words after he chased everyone out of the yard! The great debate between us is who is smarter, dogs or cats (obviously you know where I stand). Dogs believe that because they can learn tricks and a few key human words, they are brainier. Spud even brags that his breed is the smartest of all (not true: the Border Collie holds that honor). I tried to explain why cats don’t always do what their owners ask: we think for themselves and do what makes sense, in the time  frame that suits us. Sure, we know the word for dinner and walk and fetch, we just choose to ignore you, frequently. Yet a sure sign of our intelligence is the ease at which we can get YOU to do what WE want! Up at 3 am? Bet your cat pounced on you or scratched the door until you opened it. Tried to swap out our good can food with dry kibble? We get our point across with a hairball placed ironically on your table.

Spud suddenly sprinted away (no attention span whatsoever) and I headed inside to surf the web for proof of my species superiority. Imagine my dismay when I came across a very upsetting article: http://healthypets. It did mention our larger number of neurons “Some argue that the number of neurons is a greater indicator of intelligence than brain size… and in this area cats excel with 300 million neurons in their cerebral cortex compared to dogs’ 160 million” –Psychology Today December 3, 2010

Unfortunately, another section spoke of a study at Oxford: “University researchers found, indeed, that based on EQ (using data from fossils to living species) dogs are becoming progressively more intelligent while cats have stayed mostly the same.” Come again? The article went on to say that “Social animals tend to have higher EQs than solitary animals, simply because socializing requires more problem solving, communication and interaction. Dogs are pack animals (social) while cats are not, so the increasing social demands are making them even smarter.” I disagree, as a cat, and believe dogs are now too dependent on humans… what are your thoughts?