Often our clients and friends ask about our travels and our house and pet sitting experiences and we thought that a blog would be a good way to share our stories both past and present.

We have met and made friends with some lovely humans, canines and felines over the past 5 years and we hope that you enjoy reading about our pet sitting and house sitting experiences as much as we enjoy regaling our "tails"!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

SPCA Cat Orientation

Today we went back to the Parksville-Qualicum SPCA to meet Sabrina, who is the volunteer co-ordinator for the cats brought into the centre.

She showed us around, telling us where we had to sign in when we came to do a shift. She showed us the rota and where we needed to put our names down to indicate which day we would be coming to the centre. As it happens, a regular volunteer is on holiday for the time we are here, so we have decided to fill her slot, which will be on a Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday if we are needed.

We were shown the brushes that are used to groom the cats, and the procedure for cleaning the brushes after each cat has been brushed. There is a strict hygiene regime to eliminate cross contamination of any illnesses the cats may have.

After going through the administration side of things, we went into the room where the cats are housed. Most came up to the cages to say hello, a few were shy and stayed back. They were all ages, mostly adult cats, one kitten. They were all in lovely condition.

We were shown how to handle them, and to read the board attached to each cage, showing their name, temperament, whether they were strays or handed in by their owners.

There is a room with the cages to house the cats, and there is a separate play area, where cats can be taken into to be groomed or played with. There are chairs for the volunteers to sit on and read a book, so the cats can have a cuddle and relax if they feel like it.

We have put our names down for next tuesday 1st December, and we are looking forward to meeting the residents. Hopefully we will be able to provide some comfort for them whilst they await adoption.

To see which cats are in the centre at the moment please click link below:

Link to cats we met today:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Volunteering with the SPCA

Link to SPCA -Parksville & Qualicum Beach

We have been on Vancouver Island for just over two weeks. Time enough to suss out some good walks, where the shops are and what is in our immediate vicinity.

Whilst walking our 'foster' dog in one of the many community parks on Vancouver Island, we spotted a notice asking for volunteers to help with the SPCA. This is the Canadian equivalent of the RSPCA in the UK. We spoke to the co-ordinator Caroline, and signed up for an Orienteering session which was held today.

Our local branch of the SPCA is at Parksville, a short drive from our house. We arrived at 10.30am to find that there was an amazing turnout of 12 new volunteers. The co-ordinators were over the moon with such a response, if not slightly embarrassed that there were only two dogs in the centre to be walked at the moment.

It is obviously a good thing, but a bit ironic, as all through the summer when there have been loads of 'inmates' there has only been one poor volunteer to walk all of the dogs by herself.

After filling out a Volunteer Agreement and Release form, we were shown around the centre. There is a volunteer room, where we have to sign in on arrival. There are notices and sources of information about the centre and up and coming events etc.

We were then shown where the cats are housed. They each have a compartment with fluffy cushions and pillows. They have a separate room for them to be let out and played with.

There is a food preparation area with all the different pet food and all sizes of feeding bowls.

We were then shown out into the yard, where there are individual dog kennels and pens in a row. The two residents today were Dacota, and Richard. Dacota, a sort of wolfhound, had only been in for a short while but Richard, a huskey, was a long term resident, being at the centre for over 6 months. He has been re-homed but brought back due to his barking.

We were shown into a small room next to the kennel area which is called the chill out room, where the dogs can be brought in with their volunteer just to chill out and relax, as they would get the opportunity if in a home. The volunteer can groom them, or just read a book, whilst the dog has some down time, away from his kennel.

There is also an outside area, where the dogs can catch a ball, or do agility training etc.

The orienteering session lasted about an hour and half, and after being given some forms and contact information we all left.

Tracy and I are now awaiting an email from the co-ordinator to enable us to put our names on the rota for next week, when we will be paired up with a buddy volunteer who will show us the ropes on our first visit.

We are happy to help out where ever the need is greatest so we won't know until next week what we will be doing.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Canine Hydrotherapy in Scotland

We were fortunate to be booked for a house and pet sit in the lovely city of Edinburgh this summer. This was our first visit to the fair city.

We loved the tall buildings and cobbled streets of the Old Town, soaking up the history of the Royal Mile and the Castle.

Our foster pets showing us around were a Newfoundland called Yogi and a Golden Retriever called Pippa. Both beautiful dogs, well mannered and very lovable.

Edinburgh is quite small, and it only takes minutes to be out into the countryside over looking the city on Arthur's seat, or walking past one of the many castles in parkland. The daily walk to a nearby park always took a long time, as people wanted to stop us and ask about Yogi. He was more like a bear than a dog.

Yogi had some health issues, and at 7 years old was beginning to slow down quite considerably. He had suffered an injury to his leg and although through the worst, he was having ongoing treatment to aid suppleness in his joints.

Part of our responsibilities was to take Yogi to the Hydrotherapy centre for his weekly treatment. This was a first for us, and we found it extremely interesting.

When we arrived we were asked about Yogi's general fitness from the previous week's session. He was then kitted out in his floatation vest. This is to prevent him from sinking to the bottom, and to encourage him to swim. He was then gently led to the pool. He loves the water and couldn't wait to get in. The assistant then attached a pole to his vest to enable her to position him in the pool, and prevent him from reaching the far side
. (click photo to see video)

She told us that 10 minutes of swimming is equivalent of 10 miles running for a dog. The timing is strictly monitored increasing by a minute each session, depending on progress.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes use this facility, and they have to be referred by a vet before the treatment programme can begin.

The link below may be useful for further information
Canine Hydrotherapy Centre - total mental and physical well being for dogs