7 Essential Tips For Including Your Dog In Your Wedding

Cute beagle dog in a wedding party

(image credit)

Wedding season has started, and if your dog is a part of your family, you may want to include him or her in your wedding party. But when you get drunk relatives, small kids, booze, and dogs in a confined space, there’s plenty that can go wrong. The Taunton Daily Gazette offers seven tips on how to keep your wedding from becoming the dog’s breakfast:

Pick a pet-friendly venue. Including your dog as a ringbearer for an outdoor ceremony and enlisting a friend or family member to return your pup home before the reception is a good compromise.

Enlist an escort. Ask someone your dog knows and trusts to handle your dog – the bride and groom certainly won’t have time during the ceremony and reception.

Be prepared. Include all the accoutrements you’d bring on a day trip with your dog – leash, bedding, crate, plenty of treats, rawhides, a favorite toy or Kong, and most importantly, poop bags.

Include your dog in the rehearsal. Make sure he or she is accustomed to any special clothing.

Anticipate the worst. Even the most even-tempered dog can freak out in large crowds. Have an adult in control of the leash at all times, and use a “stunt” ring if your dog will be carrying it.

Be considerate of your guests. If your dear Aunt Irene is wildly allergic or you know your pup will plow down your toddler nieces, leave him or her at home for the wedding. You can always include your pup in your engagement photos.

Roll with the punches. Weddings are often filled with flubs, faints, and unexpected hiccups. Adding a dog to the mix increases the chances of something going wrong exponentially. Look at it as a funny story to tell your kids and grandkids – how many of their parents had their wedding cake demolished by a runaway Mastiff?

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Oddest Animal Mothers

Everyone knows that a mother’s love is the strongest, sweetest thing we humans have – but animals have mothers too! In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the least expected – and cutest! – pairings of mothers and cross-species adopted babies.

Lucky the cat has nursed and cared for a baby rabbit named Merlin along with her kittens as if it were her own. (AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch,Tom Dodge)

Zookeepers in China enlisted this dog to supplement the tigers' mother's milk (credit)

Female dachshund named Bessi lays in a basket with a 5-day-old baby tiger on May 20, at the wild animal park in Stroehen, Germany. Credit: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Tourists watch a tigress with piglets at the Sri Racha tiger zoo. (credit: AFP PHOTO/ SAEED KHAN)

How to Plan the Best Summer Vacation For Your Pet (and You)!

Jake in his favorite mode of transportation, a 1980 Turbo Scout II!

If you haven’t already started making plans for summer travel, it’s time to start! Whether you’re planning a “staycation” at a local beach or dusting off your passport for an international flight, it’s never too early to start making plans for your pets.

With or without Fido?

When trying to decide whether or not to take your pet with you on vacation, the two main considerations will be cost and hassle. If you’re flying overseas, quarantine requirements usually make bringing your pet along a no-go. Even Hawaii requires animals to be quarantined a minimum of five days.

If your plans involve air travel, keep in mind the cost of transporting a pet. United has now adopted Continental’s PetSafe program, which most experts consider a worthwhile service. However, the costs are now significantly higher for animals not traveling in the cabin. Be sure to compare costs before choosing an airline for your and your pet’s trip.

Pet-friendly vacations

If you’re bringing your pet with you, there are some great resources available online for you and your pup! DogJaunt is a comprehensive blog dedicated to bringing your small dog with you – starring the writer’s own Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

photo courtesy DogJaunt

Other helpful pet travel resources include:

When you’re out and about, you can use this Dog Park Finder app if you have a smartphone to find convenient, close-by places for your dog to do his business.

Kennels vs. pet sitters

If you’ve done the math and figured out that bringing your pet with you on vacation is just too expensive or complicated, you should start making plans for where your pet will stay in your absence.

Cats and other small pets usually aren’t good candidates for boarding. Dogs who are immune compromised, not especially social with other dogs, or prone to separation anxiety usually don’t thrive in kennels.

If your pup would rather stay at home, or even sleep over with a friend, what’s the best way to pick someone to help? Yelp reviews are written by strangers, and notoriously unreliable. The best way to find your pet’s home away from home, or someone who will care for your furry friend as well as you do, is to ask a friend to pet sit.

Once you’ve found someone you can trust to pet sit, make sure they know all your pet’s likes, dislikes, medications, and what do to in the event your dog or cat gets sick. A comprehensive pet care checklist that you can share online or on paper can make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Don’t forget the meet-and-greet before you leave – this will help your pet feel more comfortable with their caretaker while you’re gone.

Good luck, and we hope your summer is as great as this guy’s!

Five tips for renting with pets

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This is Blue, a sweet Saint Bernard girl who greeted us at one rental house we looked at.

Portland, OR, is currently the 11th tightest rental market in the US, which means that it’s getting harder for renters with pets to find landlords willing to rent to us. We all love our pets, but it’s not hard to understand why some landlords prefer petless tenants.

Having recently gone through the process of finding a new rental home with a dog and a cat, here are some tools I learned for how to win over a landlord and get the home you (and your pets) want:

Focus on rentals that want you – and your pets

There are pet-friendly rentals out there, and Portland Pooch gives you an easy way to find them. Unfortunately, most of their listings are apartments, and those of us with dogs often want a yard. Craigslist, the go-to place for rentals in most cities, lets you filter your search results to only those that accept either dogs or cats. If you are a more visual searcher, Padmapper shows you Craigslist listings on a map, and also allows you to filter out properties that don’t explicitly say they accept your pets.

Gather personal references for your furry friends

If you can’t find the perfect home for your family through pet-friendly channels, don’t despair. Many landlords can be convinced to accept a pet with references, either from your existing landlord, a roommate, or an office manager (if you’re lucky enough to work in a pet-friendly office). Call the landlord or property manager with names and phone numbers at the ready.

Put your buddy’s best paw forward

Photos and videos of your dog or cat can go a long way toward softening the heart of a pet-reticent landlord. Sending the public link to your pet’s Stayhound profile (ask me how!), can be like sending his or her resume to a prospective landlord. It doesn’t hurt if your dog was an extra on Portlandia, either.

Incentivize your new landlord

Renter’s insurance doesn’t cost much, especially if you buy it through your auto insurance company. It can cover your costs in the event your pet damages a rental property, and landlords see tenants with renter’s insurance as more responsible. If you see a rental listing you love that doesn’t mention pets, call and ask if they’ll accept pets with a refundable deposit. There’s no harm in asking, and letting the landlord know you’re willing to put down a deposit can only work in your favor. What worked for me was offering to sign a long-term lease – landlords and property managers incur costs when they “turn” a property. Making it clear that you’re in it for the long haul will make you a much more appealing tenant.

Use your network

Asking your Stayhound network for recommendations of pet-friendly rentals could turn up your future home! Who better to rent from than another pet lover?

In case you were wondering, here’s my adorable new home – it has a tiny yard, just enough for Jake to do his business, but not enough to be a chore to mow. Wish me luck with my move!

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Photo courtesy 24/7 Properties – Hi Jeff!

Do your holiday pet shopping locally!

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“Plaidradoodle”, by flickr user lexuh

Buying presents for our pets and the pet lovers in our lives is almost as much fun as shopping for cute baby clothes. If you live in Portland, Oregon, why not shop at some of these local businesses and keep your money in the community?

Dog Star Daycare

Although Dog Star is primarily a doggie day care, I’ve never walked out without a purchase. Owner Theresa helped me fit Jake with the Gentle Leader that’s saved my left shoulder, and even gave me great advice and a handful of treats to feed him on the walk home to acclimate him to his new head collar. Conveniently located in the Pearl District, Dog Star promotes adoption by featuring adoptable kitties in their front window for shoppers and passers-by to coo over. Theresa’s committment to adoption includes discounts on your first purchase, a free half-day of daycare, and a discounted vet exam.

What to buy

While cute leashes and collars are always fun, buying a friend a package of daycare days can be a thoughtful gift. Dog Star carries Wellness as well as many other brands of high-quality food and can order products they don’t have in stock.

1313 NW Kearney Street
Portland, OR 97209

503.227.0292

The Wet Spot

A fixture in the Hollywood District for as long as I’ve lived in Portland, it’s easy to attribute the Wet Spot’s longevity to novelty. Far from it, their selection of freshwater tropical fish and aquarium supplies is extensive, and their staff is incredibly knowledgable. They post updates to their stock on their popular Facebook page and offer maintenance services to help you with set up as well as regular health checkups and algae control.

What to buy

If you know what the fish-o-phile in your life wants, or just want to surprise them, The Wet Spot is sure to have something great in stock. That said, a real fish-hound could go crazy here with a generous gift certificate!

4310 NE Hancock
Portland, OR 97213

503.287.3339

Western Pet Supply

“Serving Portland’s pets for over 20 years” is the motto at Western Pet Supply, and they live up to it! Started when founders Bill and Julie made a cedar pet bed for their Golden Retriever, Boohn, the business has grown to be an anchor in the Portland community. More than just dog and cat food, they carry supplies for everybody from horse people to urban homesteaders building chicken coops.

What to buy

Almost anything – they carry Chuck-its and Kong products for your canine buddies, catnip toys for the kitties, and even wild bird feeders for those who prefer their companion animals more free-range. Western Pet Supply does not charge additional fees for special orders.

6908 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
Portland, OR 97225

503.297.6644

Pets as presents? Weigh the costs…

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image courtesy flick user Mike Schmid

Everyone loves the idea of a cute puppy or kitten as a holiday gift, but the cost of buying or adoping a pet is only the beginning. According to the ASPCA, the first year of your new family member’s life with you can cost between $300 and $2,000 – and that doesn’t include emergency veterinary services or boarding!

There are ways to keep costs down, however, without sacrificing the health and happiness of your new furry friend.

Packaged vet care

Many veterinarians and animal hospitals offer well puppy (or kitten) packages – bundled services that can save you 20% or more on the necessary services you’ll need, like spay or neuter services, vaccines, parasite prevention medications, and other checkups. Ask your vet (or look on their web site) for lists of included and excluded services and price comparisons.

Pet insurance

Just as our costs for health care can spiral out of control if we didn’t have insurance, so can veterinary costs. Companies like VPI offer plans at different price and coverage points – ask your vet for advice on what plans she would recommend for your dog or cat.

Extend your pet’s family

The average American dog-owning family spends about $300 a year on boarding. Pet sitters can be a more personal and cost-effective solution, but you should also consider finding friends to trade pet sitting with among your existing social network. You’ll not only be giving your dog a “home away from home” experience with another dog lover, you’ll be building a support network for your pets.

Are you and your pet prepared for an emergency?

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With winter weather coming, many of us are making preparations for severe storms or other emergencies by buying extra candles, batteries, canned goods, and other necessities. But have you given much thought to what your pet needs in case of an emergency?

The US Department of Homeland Security has developed a pet preparedness pamphlet (PDF) in partnership with the ASPCA, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Humane Society of the United States. Here are some highlights:

Prepare an emergency supply kit that contains:

  • Food. Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container. 
  • Water. Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets in addition to water you need for yourself and your family
  • Medicines and medical records. Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container. A copy of your dogs vaccinations will also be important to have in case you need to board your dog.
  • First aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. 
  • Collar with ID tag, harness or leash. If your pet isn’t already microchipped and registered with a service like HomeAgain, you should consider it.
  • Crate or other pet carrier. 
  • Sanitation. Include pet litter and litter box for cats and waste bags for your dogs. 
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. 
  • Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet. 

Make a plan:

  • Be prepared to assess the situation. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. 
  • Create a plan to get away. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If not, find a pet-friendly hotel on PetsWelcome.com, locate a boarding kennel (don’t forget those vaccination records!), or arrange ahead of time with a friend who can pet sit.
  • Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. 
  • Talk to your pet’s veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet‘s emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter.
  • Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society or SPCA, and emergency veterinary hospitals.

You may also want to consider creating a DropBox, Google Docs, or other cloud services account so you can access your pet’s records remotedly or share them with a friend. Most are free for casual use, and you’ll be able to upload photos of your pet, scans of their vaccine records, and contact information. Many of these services allow you to access your files from your iPhone or Android smartphone as well.