Adopt This Rad Running Buddy from Austin Animal Center

This oreo-colored cutie is Roscoe, who was recently featured in the Huffington Post for his extremely-long stay at Austin Animal Center (AAC). Despite being stunning, sweet, healthy and happy, Roscoe has been a shelter inmate for more than 500 days! He’s managed to maintain his mental health despite limited potty breaks, playtime or walks during the excessive amount of life he’s spent in a concrete kennel.

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Get fit with a friend!

Today is National Running Day, and we would like to recommend Roscoe as your running buddy. Shelter dogs have helped us get and stay in shape, and they can do the same for you! There is nothing more motivating than a Canine Fitness Coach smiling enthusiastically while you exercise together. Roscoe hopes you’ll visit him at AAC’s Town Lake Animal Center location (1156 Cesar Chavez), fall in love and become running buddies!

Tips for Air Travel with Pets

**This guest post is by Allison Luxenberg, also known as The Austin Optimist, whose much-loved Rottweilers we’ve watched for years. We also want to mention that Delta now offers a GPS tracking device for pets on flights so human travelers can be aware of the location, temperature and condition of their pets during the journey. Read more here.**

Five years ago I flew my Rottweiler from Los Angeles to Florida for a dog show. I was so terrified; there was no amount of Bloody Mary at LAX to numb my fears.  At the special animal check-in they had to scan my dog to make sure he was not smuggling in any drugs; treats were alright though. Then they sent him on his merry way, in his crate, down a conveyor belt into the cargo holding area. I lost it. I cried so much the attendant felt so bad she actually let me back in the area to see where he would stay until he boarded and let me meet the people who were handling him so I could tell them he was a nice boy and ask them to handle with care.

On top of the dog crate I taped a bag of dog cookies in a Ziploc bag and wrote a note that has his name and said “I am a nice dog, but please don’t open my gate so I can’t run away. You can give me a cookie though. Thank you.” When we landed the bag was empty. It probably didn’t hurt that I also had a bag full of $10 Starbucks cards with me and handed them to every person I saw had contact with my dog and taped 2 extra on his crate for people I couldn’t see.

When I boarded the plane the flight attendant came to my seat with a note that was signed off from the ground and said “Your dog is on board too.”  Upon landing we headed to the oversized luggage area and between golf bags and skis, there was my dog in his crate and happier than ever to see me on the other side. Overall, even though I am very unlikely to fly my dogs again, the experience turned out to be alright.

If money is no option, there are private charter planes that can transport your pet in a much more comfortable way. However, if commercial airlines are your only option, below are some safety tips from the ASPCA.

1. Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a checkup, and make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.

2. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag. The collar should also include destination information in case your pet escapes.

3. Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.

4. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. Shipping crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.

5. Write the words “Live Animal” in letters at least one inch tall on top of and at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet’s destination point, and whether you will be accompanying him or if someone else is picking him up. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding—shredded paper or towels—to absorb accidents.

6. Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.

7. The night before you leave, make sure you’ve frozen a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading, and will melt by the time he’s thirsty. Tape a small pouch, preferably cloth, of dried food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.

8. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended, as it could hamper his breathing. Check with your veterinarian first.

9. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.

10. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaneing may be warranted.

Pet Care in Dripping Springs!

Do you live in Dripping Springs, TX, and need a daytime dog walker or potty pal for your pup? Catherine O’Donnell, CPDT-KA, can help! Catherine is Director of Training and Behavior at The Ranch for Canine Training and Behavior, so your pet will be in incredibly skilled hands, which you can read about here. Email us at skylinepetcare@gmail.com to book Catherine today!

Pet Care in Dripping Springs

Tips for Road Trips with Pets

In June, I embarked on a 2,300-mile road trip from Austin to Seattle. I filled my mid-size SUV (Toyota Rav4) with most of my earthly goods, including my three favorite “goods” – my dog, Felix, and two cats, Lome and Tiny.

Felix frolics in Texas wildflowers.

Felix likes to frolic in Texas wildflowers.

Cats are notoriously terrible travelers, famous for moaning and acting like they’re in a vehicular torture chamber. This is obviously unpleasant for both your ears and your heart, as it’s easy to feel like a jerk when your cat seems so miserable.

Prior to embarking on our trip, I “practiced” taking short drives with each cat in the car – I didn’t drive them together because they feed off each other’s fear and the screeching rapidly reaches a horrific decibel level. The first two “practice trips” involved each cat engaging in prolonged shrieking while digging claws into my abdomen as we walked from my condo to the car.

Tiny (fluffy black cat) was so terrified on her first ten-minute trip around the neighborhood that she panted like a dog and peed.

Tiny prefers sleep to leaning in.

Tiny prefers lying around to leaning in.

Lome (white cat) has the vocal chords of Pavarotti and “yelled” for the full ten minute drive. Trying to associate the experience with something positive, I gave them wet food in the car. Lome ate it up; Tiny – not normally one to turn down any form of food – was too stressed to eat – but at least she could now associate car rides with the pungent scent of salmon.

Lome loves baskets.

Lome loves baskets.

At the end of our third traumatic ten-minute trip around the neighborhood, the moaning had dramatically died down for both cats. Lome seemed especially enthralled when it dawned on him that the windows offered an excellent view of squirrels and birds. By our fourth practice drive, the cats seemed genuinely desensitized to car trips, realizing we weren’t headed anywhere awful such as the vet where they would be poked and prodded.

When we left Austin for our first 12-hour day of driving, the cats were both quiet in the car – no more moaning, peeing or other unpleasant theatrics.

Cats aren’t “den animals”, so I didn’t want to make them ride in a kennel all day. Instead, they were outfitted with cat-specific harnesses. My mother accompanied us on this journey, and held the cats’ leashes so they didn’t make poor choices in terms of where to perch, but in general they just sat and gazed out the window.

Grand Canyon grandeur.

Felix felt like the Grand Canyon was a parching version of Mars.

Felix was a perfect passenger. We would stop every two hours to let Felix stretch his legs and do his business. I would also take him on one-hour jogs in the mornings before heading out on the road to “wear him out” (although Felix is actually incapable of tiring – see this post). This exercise also helped me to relax before marathon sessions of driving.

I was surprised at how many motels allow pets, and had no weight or breed restrictions. They don’t allow you to leave pets alone in the room, but that was easy to manage since there were two humans on the trip – one to run errands and fetch food and the other to pet nanny.

Tiny and Lome make themselves at home.

Tiny and Lome make themselves at home.

In the four years I’ve had Felix, I’ve only heard him bark three times. He’s never been much of a guard dog – he gets happily excited when someone knocks on the door, but has never seemed nervous when there are noises outside. On this trip, however, he acted very protective and alert to every sound outside the motel door, and frequently barked or growled while the humans were trying to sleep. It was a new, loud side of him.

Felix thought Jackson Hole, WY, was pretty but overpriced.

Felix thought Jackson Hole was pretty and pricey.

We arrived in Seattle less than two weeks after leaving Austin, having visited some of America’s most scenic sites. They included alien tourism in Roswell, the gorgeous Grand Canyon, arid awesomeness at Carlsbad Canyon National Park, Martian-like loveliness at Zion National Park, majestic mountains at Grand Teton National Park, a pet-lovers paradise at Best Friends Animal Society, and a close encounter with a wild bison in Yellowstone National Park.

The glorious Grand Tetons.

The glorious Grand Tetons.

The trip was far less difficult to take with pets – especially the cats – than I expected. They seemed to enjoy the togetherness and adventure of it all, and I look forward to our next road warrior experience.

Honoring the Lovely Life of Oscar-the-Dog

A year ago today, one of our most memorable pet-sitting pups passed away. We first met Oscar when he was a homeless resident of Austin Animal Center in 2009. His serene presence was impressive considering how stressed and energetic the shelter tends to turn dogs. Oscar was extremely fortunate to be adopted by Sarah Herman, who helped him become a rockstar therapy dog with Divine Canines. Oscar’s peaceful presence and fluffy face blessed the lives of the elderly, abandoned kids and others in need of the healing power of a gentle dog. He had a unique way of making people feel special because of his big, enthusiastic smile and the way he bonded with his human companions. Oscar’s hips weren’t as hardy as his heart, and complications with a surgery resulted in Oscar exiting the world too soon. He left behind a huge hole in the hearts of his human friends, but also left a legacy of kindness and a reminder that animal shelters are full of jewels just waiting for a committed adopter to let them shine.

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Happy National Cat Day!

We are big fans of felines at Skyline Pet Care, and consider every day to be National Cat Day! Chantelle’s cat, Lome, has helped many shelter dogs learn how to be mannerly around kitties with his confident, no-nonsense sass. Here he is basking in a basket:

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Robin’s black beauty, Mina, is her nocturnal hair dresser and gives Robin a new ‘do each night with her head kneading.

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In honor of National Cat Day, we hope you’ll be encouraged to foster felines for your local shelter. As motivation, here are two munchkins we fostered for Austin Animal Center last year:

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