May 10, 2011 Issue #2 Published by Sue Skiff

In This Issue

A Note From Sue

Four Helpful Tips to Help You Train Your Dog to Stay

Thunder's Odyssey

Summer Specials are Here

I Need Your Testimonials

A Note From Sue

First, just a short apology… last week’s issue went out before I was finished with it. I had thought that I had set the time for its mailing at 8:00 pm May 3. Apparently, I had set it at 8:00 am. Consequently, it was missing some intended items, and was not completely laid out the way that I wanted it, when it arrived in your inboxes. Oh well. Live and learn, right? Still, I have gotten mainly positive feedback about it. The negative feedback was only some editing suggestions; nothing about the content itself.

So, now the time is set for this weekly e-zine, it seems; 8:00 every Tuesday morning. Thank you to all that gave me feedback last week. I want to encourage all to provide feedback. I also welcome any questions you have that you would like answered, differing opinions about content, or any suggestions for articles. To do so, you can simply reply to this e-mail.

Enjoy the e-zine!


Four Helpful Tips to Help You Train Your Dog to Stay

Stay is an important command for your dog to understand. If your dog knows how to stay, you can have it stay while you answer the doorbell without worrying about it running out. You can have it wait while you talk to someone that you run into on a walk, or while you wait to be able to cross the street. You can have your dog stay under the table while you eat outdoors at a restaurant. Teaching your dog to stay is critical if you have a hyperactive dog, because it is the first step in teaching your dog to be calm. All kinds of things open up for your dog when it has a reliable “stay” command.

1. Teach stay as a separate command

Many people try to only teach their dogs to stay in combination with the “come” command. They have their dog stay briefly, call the dog away from the “stay,” then praise the dog, give it attention, and/or give it a treat. This is teaching dogs that not staying is important, rather than teaching that staying is important, because the dog only gets reinforced for coming away from the “stay,” and never gets reinforced for staying itself. If you want your dog to stay as long as you need it to, you must reinforce it for staying. That is, praise it, give it attention, and give it treats while it is staying. Remember that, in the real world, you will rarely tell your dog to stay when you are going to walk away and call it, and that you will rarely call your dog when you have been having it stay.

2. Stand next to your dog while it stays

You want your dog to succeed at staying, so that it will get its praise, attention, and treats, and learn to understand what the word “stay” means. So, initially, tell your dog to stay, and stand next to it. After a second or two, praise it. Keep giving it positive reinforcement (praise, attention, treats, etc) every couple of seconds. Gradually, increase the time between reinforcements, until your dog can stay for several seconds, before taking one step away from it. Then, return to it, and give it positive reinforcement. Gradually increase the distance you walk away before walking back to it. By gradually increasing the time you have your dog stay, and the distance you move away from it while it stays, you will build a strong “stay.”

3. Teach your dog to stay while you are feeding it

Make your dog stay while you prepare its food, and put the food down. Every time that it gets up from its stay, make it sit back down. Do not put the food down, until your dog is willingly staying, looks at you for permission, and gets that permission to eat. Your dog learns that staying is the way to get its food. This not only strengthens the “stay” command, but strengthens your position as the one in charge, as well, by clearly showing your dog that you are in control of the food.

4. Make your dog stay before going through a door or gate

When you are letting your dog in or out of the house, or when you are taking your dog out on a walk, have your dog sit and stay while you open the door. If your dog gets up, close the door, and have it sit back down. Your dog must stay, until you give it permission to go through the door. If you are going through the door with it, start going through the door before your dog, and have your dog stay while you close the door. Similar to having your dog stay when you feed it, this reinforces the meaning of “stay,” and strengthens the idea that you are in charge.

Good luck!

Keeping My Cats Indoors Part 2 - Thunder's Odyssey

Last week, I talked about my original reason for wanting to keep my cats indoors; I didn’t want them killing wildlife. However, this wasn’t the only reason that I had for wanting to keep my cats indoors. I also wanted to protect my cats. Statistically, the average life span of an outdoor cat is less than ½ that of an indoor cat. In fact, I have read that the average life span of an outdoor cat is a mere 5 years. This is pretty sad when you consider that a well-cared-for indoor cat could live as long as 30 years. I do have to say, though, that I know some 20+ year old outdoor cats, so I do realize that being outdoors is not a death sentence for a cat.

As any cat guardian who lives near an open space knows, cats are susceptible to being killed by coyotes. Other cat predators include: owls, hawks, and domestic dogs. The list of dangers to the outdoor cat goes far beyond predation, however. The following dangers to cats are well-documented: cars, fights with other cats, disease, poisoning, exposure to parasites, getting lost, exposure to cat-harming humans, catnapping, etc.

In December of 2009, my youngest cat, Thunder, celebrating his 11th birthday on May 15, brought these dangers home to me. Thunder has been with me his whole life. I did my best to not expose him to the outdoors when he was young. But, alas, he learned from Ahwahnee, and to a lesser extent, from his mother Storm, that the outdoors was a desirable place to be. Consequently, Thunder finds his way outside a few times a year. He is mainly content to be inside, however.

The adventure that brought home the dangers of a cat being outdoors started on a Wednesday. I remember that clearly. I was doing a bunch of cleaning in my yard, and was going in and out of the house a lot. I had issues with both the front and back doors of the house that I was living in then. That is, both had to be closed carefully, or they wouldn’t latch. At some point that morning, Thunder got out.

Thunder generally comes when he is called, and I was surprised when he didn’t come to my call later that afternoon. However, when he didn’t come home that night, I wasn’t too worried. He had spent the night outside at least once before. By Friday, though, I became really concerned. I started consulting with animal telepaths. The answers that I got did not make me feel better. I was told that he had been hurt, that he may have died, and that he was trapped under something manmade. Saturday morning found me knocking on doors, and searching neighbors’ yards. It was late Saturday afternoon when I found him. He was not trapped, nor was he in any neighbors’ yard. He was in my yard; tucked well under the axle of one of my former landlord’s cars (my ex-landlord had anywhere from 3-5 cars stored on the property at all times during the 8 years that I lived there). I could have easily not seen him, and I have to wonder how many times I had passed him in my many previous searches of the yard.

I was happy and relieved to find him. I got down on the ground, and reached under the car to pull him out. When I got him out, I had to put him down briefly while I straightened up. When I did so, I immediately noticed that he couldn’t use either one of his back legs. Fearing a broken back, I rushed over to the emergency vet with him. X-rays revealed that he had a chip fracture in one hip; and that the other hip was dislocated. It appeared that he had been hit by a car, then dragged himself home.

The vet was unable to put the dislocated hip back in place. It had been too long since the injury had occurred. The hip remains dislocated to this day. Nothing could be done by the vet for the fracture, either. I put him on Vitamin C and fish oil; and did some hands-on healing work, which involved using my hands to connect his hips, ureters, kidneys, heart and lungs. I had to hold him up so that he could use the litter box, and while he ate and drank. When I couldn’t be home with him, I left him in the bathtub with comfortable bedding and a very shallow litter box.

Thankfully, his recovery was amazingly quick. Soon, he was able to not only walk, but to jump up, as well. Occasionally, I touch one of his hips, and get a little protesting meow from him, but otherwise, I would never know that he has two “bad” hips. I am extremely grateful that Thunder was able to find his way home, and that he is able to live a normal life. However, I can’t say that he has learned his lesson.

Summer Specials Are Here

Summer is just around the corner; time to make those vacation plans. And, of course, vacation plans include making plans for your pets’ care. Some of you have already made inquiries about pet sitting for the summer. For those of you that haven’t, I invite you to make those inquiries soon. And, if you do so before the end of this month, I will make it worth your while. Here’s the deal: Make reservations with us for pet sitting that starts anytime between June 1 and Sept 30 (Sept is one of our busiest months for pet sitting, so I want to include it), sign a contract, and pay a deposit, by May 31, and I will give you a 20% discount. This discount replaces any other discount that you may be entitled to, so make sure you ask what your best deal will be.

So, go ahead and give me a call at (925) 366-6042, or e-mail me, and get those summer reservations in. I look forward to talking to you!

I Need Your Testimonials

If you have used my services in the past, please consider writing a testimonial for me. I will put it on my website for all to see how wonderful a writer you are. I’m giving you 3 ways to do this. The first way is to simply send me an e-mail, with your golden words included. Or, you can post a review on my Yelp Page Thirdly, you can post a comment on my Facebook page Thank you for your help in making Silver Lining Pet Services a success!

Silver Linings is a publication of Silver Linings Pet Services, and is published for the purpose of marketing services. The current address of Silver Linings Pet Services is: 5555 Merritt Drive Concord, Ca 94521