Do You Have A Pet Sitter for Emergencies?

Do You Have A Pet Sitter for Emergencies?

A week ago, my husband was in a car accident. We are very grateful that he was not seriously hurt—he has a broken arm and a very broken car.

In addition to teaching us gratitude, the accident taught us another lesson: the importance of having an “in case of emergency” plan for our pets.

My husband is the first one home at the end of the day, so even as he was being loaded into the ambulance, he was thinking of the dog waiting at home for his afternoon pee break and walk.

As soon as I got the call, I left work and headed home. I fed the cat her dinner, let Bax out for a quick pee, then loaded him, his leash and his bed into my car. I called my in-laws from the road and 20 minutes later I was handing Bax over to them, so that I could head to the hospital.

We are fortunate that both of our parents live relatively close to us. We also bring Baxter to their houses very often, so they know each other well. My father-in-law is one of Bax’s favourite people. Baxter has stayed with my in-laws when we’re on vacation, so they understand his routines, are comfortable taking him for walks and don’t mind taking care of him.

However, vacations typically involve planning and preparation (and, let’s be honest, pages of detailed written instructions). Dealing with an emergency is a different situation.

Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about since our emergency:

1. Identify a person, or a few people, who can step in and take care of your animals. If family isn’t available, consider a friend, co-worker, neighbour, anyone who can be there quickly.

2. Consider that your caregiver may need to access your house. Make sure they have a key or can get a key. Don’t forget to share the alarm code if you have one.

3. Think of what your pet needs to be comfortable if you’re handing your pet off to a caregiver. For Bax, he always does better if he has his own bed with him, so I took the time to toss it in the car before we left for my in-laws.

4. Beyond comfort, make sure your caregiver has the basic equipment to take care of your pet—a leash and food are at the top of my list. Food and water bowls, poop bags can be improvised if necessary.

5. Have instructions on standby. The detailed instructions I write for vacations are about making both Bax and his caregivers as comfortable as possible. Having them saved on my phone so that I can easily send them to my caregiver, or even taping them inside the cupboard with Baxter’s food may come in handy someday.

But hopefully not any time soon.

Our emergency was relatively minor and brief. Later that evening, we picked Baxter up on our way home from the hospital.

However, you may need help that extends over several days. It may be necessary to have a rotation of dog walkers, or a professional pet sitter, or even board your pet for a little while.

Having a plan arranged in advance can alleviate some of the worry in a stressful situation and ensure your pet is well cared for.

What are your tips for dealing with an emergency? What does your pet need to be comfortable?

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Does Your Dog Have a Nickname?

Does Your Dog Have a Nickname?

Does your dog have a nickname?

I am one of those people that if I have a close relationship with you, I’m going to call you something other than your real name.

At work I manage to keep it professional, but if you’re friends or family, I probably have a special name just for you—even my mother is “Moms” for me.

When it comes to Baxter, I have so many names. Perhaps more names means more love?

I read Lily and the Octopus awhile ago (certain parts of the book I could have done without, but other parts perfectly capture the love, fear, sadness and joy of dogs), and one chapter has stuck with me. It’s a whole chapter on Lily the dachshund’s nicknames. The list is 39 names long.

It made me wonder how many names I call Baxter. So I wrote them down.

  1. Bax
  2. Baxter B
  3. Mr. B
  4. Mr. Ears
  5. Baby
  6. Babydoll
  7. Buck
  8. Buckaroo
  9. Buckaroo-hoo
  10. Sniffers
  11. Snoopy
  12. Goofy
  13. Wiggles
  14. Snuggles
  15. Handsome
  16. Buddy
  17. Bud

Seventeen. That’s actually more than I thought. Not Lily and the Octopus territory, but still a lot for one wiggly, sniffy, snugly, lazy, wonderful dog.

Does your dog have a nickname?

Baxter came with his name when we adopted him. If I was naming him today, I’d probably go with Buck for his deer coloured furs and his affection for deer.

For now, I’ll call him Buck, Baxter and 15 other names … and counting.

Does your dog have a nickname?

How did you pick your dog’s name? Have you changed your dog’s name?

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

See her recent post: How to play Find It with your dog.

How to Play “Find It” With Your Dog

How to Play “Find It” With Your Dog

Here’s how to create your own “Doggie Easter Egg Hunt.”

My beloved mutt Baxter is a mix of who-knows-what. But somewhere in there, I’m pretty sure there’s a hound. Dude looooves to sniff!

When we first adopted Baxter, I started playing “find it” to test his nose and to have fun together.

Basically, it’s a doggie version of an Easter egg hunt. So I thought, given that we’re a week away from Easter, I’d share it with all of you.

I’d love to hear what games you play with your dogs, and especially any nose games those of you with sniffy dogs play.

How to play “find it” with your dog

1. Select a favourite treat. Small bites are best.

2. Put your dog in a stay (or, for the advanced version, put your dog in another room).

3. Hide treats around the room. Under tables, behind chairs, or just along a wall. I like to make it a bit more challenging by varying the height of the treats, so I will put a couple on the fireplace hearth or on the TV stand.

How to play Find It with your dog

4. Hold a treat in your hand and let your dog get a good sniff. Feed him the treat and then tell him to “find it.”

5. If your dog is new to the game of “Find It,” you may find it helpful to escort him to the first treat.

6. Once your dog has found all of the treats, acknowledge his success with a “good dog” and scratches or a toy.

Here is a video Baxter playing Find It:

Click here if the video is not showing.

Do you play “find it” with your dog?

What other games do you play with your dogs? Any tips for games for sniffy dogs?

Let us know in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

How to Get Your Dog to Behave Off Leash

How to Get Your Dog to Behave Off Leash

I love off-leash hiking with my dog. But the first time our trainer said, “Drop the leash” my anxiety was off the charts.

A helpful technique she gave us was leash dragging.

Leash dragging has helped me—anxious, clingy human—and Baxter—sniffy, independent dog—to get to a point where we can comfortably and happily hike off-leash together.

Leash dragging is not necessary for every dog. We hiked a couple of weeks ago with a dog who wouldn’t go more than 10 feet from his owner. However, Baxter has a very large comfort zone and likes to follow his nose—so much that he sometimes seems to forget I exist.

What is leash dragging?

My technique of leash dragging involves a long line—about 10 feet long—looped onto our regular leash. Baxter drags this behind him along the ground.

I do not hold the leash as we walk. I have occasionally picked it up and reeled him in if I can see him getting overly excited or thinking about choosing his own adventure.

I step on the end of the line every so often if I want to slow him down, remind him we’re hiking together or he’s reaching the end of my comfort zone.

Get your dog to behave off leash

How do you set up the leash?

I found my long line at the dollar store. It’s the same woven fabric as my regular leash. It came with a cheap clip on one end that I cut off. I then tied big knots at the end and about 2 feet in from the end. These knots give extra “grab” if I have to step on the leash and stop it from sliding under my boot.

The other end of the leash has a regular loop handle. I loop it through Baxter’s six foot leash to attach the two together.

Note from Lindsay: I use the Mendota 30-foot lead for Remy (affiliate link). I love it!

How do you leash drag?

At the start of the walk, I usually hold our six-foot leash as usual with the extra line coiled up in my hand. Once we’ve walked a little ways and if Baxter seems calm and in-tune with me, I’ll casually drop the leash.

As I mentioned above, if I feel I need to, I will pick up the leash again—essentially putting Baxter back on leash. Most of the time, it’s sufficient to step on the line every so often to reinforce my boundaries.

After we finished our training classes, we joined our trainer’s off-leash hiking group. For every hike for over a year, Baxter dragged his leash behind him. That was a long time and we would occasionally get comments from other members of the group that they thought Baxter was ready to go off-leash.

You know your dog—and yourself—best. Don’t go off-leash until you are comfortable. For us, leash dragging was both about setting limits for Baxter and building my confidence in him. I needed to feel good about both of those aspects before I unclipped the leash.

See my post: Off leash hiking with your dog.

We’ve recently returned to leash dragging, as he’s gotten a little over-exuberant and over-confident. There’s no harm in returning to the basics and reinforcing your training foundation.

What are the benefits of leash dragging?

1. Helps you to define a comfort zone for your dog. I’m trying to shrink Baxter’s comfort zone. I love that he’s so independent and confident and I don’t want to take that away from him. Leash dragging helps me to set rules and limitations that I want him to respect.

2. Gives you a sense of security. When we first started off-leash hiking, I was nervous that I might lose my dog. The leash trailing behind Baxter gives me a sense that I could grab him or catch him if he decided to take off. It’s not always true—dogs are fast—but it made me feel more confident about hiking together.

How to get your dog to behave off leash

3. Reminds your dog he’s with a human. I feel like Baxter is often calmer when he’s leash dragging. He feels the leash behind him and that keeps him more tuned in with me.

What are the drawbacks of leash dragging?

1. Leash dragging on its own will not teach your dog how to behave off-leash. There is no substitution for a strong bond with your dog and solid recall. Leash dragging can be one part of your training regimen.

2. Tangling. Tangling has honestly not been a problem for us and we hike in some pretty rugged areas. Most of the time the leash bumps along over the ground without issue. However, the leash may get hung up between rocks or around trees. Pay attention. The other situation where a long leash can get tangled is in meeting other dogs. Again, this hasn’t been a huge problem for us, but when dogs are dancing around each other, someone’s leg could get wrapped up.

How to trust your dog off leash

3. Tripping. A long line dragging along the ground can be a tripping hazard for human hikers. Watch your footing and make sure you don’t get wrapped in the leash or accidentally step on it. If you’re hiking in a group, make sure people are aware that your dog will be leash dragging.

4. Be prepared to sacrifice a leash. The dragging leash(es) will take a beating. They’ll get worn and frayed by the ground. They’ll get wet and muddy. I’ve found leashes hold up surprisingly well, but you may not want to use your fanciest most expensive leash for dragging.

Hiking with my dog is some of the most rewarding time we spend together. It gives both of us a lot of joy. When we first got Baxter and I realized how independent he was, I wasn’t sure he would ever be able to be off-leash anywhere—let alone in the woods surrounded by smells and animals and distractions. Leash dragging has helped us get to a stage where we can share this experience together.

Note from Lindsay: Be very careful about rope burn on your hands! Depending on what kind of material your long leash is, it’s usually best to step on the leash as Julia suggested or wear gloves. I injured my hands years ago when a young Ace was running on a 50-foot rope and I grabbed the rope. Doh!

Have any of you used this leash-dragging method?

What feedback do you have? How did it go?

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.


WO Design Review, Dog Collars and Dog Toys

WO Design Review, Dog Collars and Dog Toys

What if you bought your dog a new toy or collar AND helped feed orphans at the same time?

WO Design sells products for pets and people to help fund nutritional aid for widows and orphans in Ethiopia. (The WO in its name stands for widows and orphans.)

For each dog collar or dog toy purchased, WO Design provides two homecooked meals for widows and orphans in Ethiopia.

This post is sponsored by WO Design.

Use code thatmutt2017 for 20% off your entire order with WO Design (expires Friday March 31). Click here.

WO Design review—dog collar and disc toy

WO Design review - dog collars and dog toys

My thoughts on WO Design:

My dog Baxter got to try out a WO Design collar and the WO Design disc toy.

The WO|Collar is a brightly coloured, adjustable, fabric dog collar with a plastic buckle. It comes in sizes small, medium and large. The collar is brightly coloured, in blue, green, cranberry, black and yellow—the colours of the Ethiopian flag. It is made by Pride Bites.

WO Design dog collar

I love the bright colours on this collar. The first day Baxter was wearing it, we went hiking at a local park and a woman remarked right away on his beautiful collar.

I will say that we are using this more as a fashion collar than a functional one. I’m a bit hesitant about the strength of the plastic buckle, so we’re sticking with our regular martingale collar for our walks and tie out.

WO Design dog disc toy

The WO|Disc is a throw and tug toy. It is soft, flexible and light rubber—and completely recyclable. It is 8 inches in diameter and comes in four colours: blue, green, cranberry or yellow.

The disc is a fun variation on our usual sticks and rope. It doesn’t sail quite as far as a Frisbee, but it’s light and easy to throw.

I like that the soft rubber is gentle for Baxter’s mouth.

We didn’t put it to the test with a vigorous game of tug, but WO promises that it’s durable and “designed for active dogs.”

What is the cost of WO|Collar and WO|Disc?

Use code thatmutt2017 for 20% off your order from WO Design. ORDER HERE.

The WO|Collar costs $19.99, and the WO|Disc is $16.

For each product purchased, WO Design provides at least two homecooked meals for widows and orphans in Ethiopia.

What’s unique about WO Design?

The charitable aspect of WO’s business is a unique feature of their company.

The company’s commitment to the cause of women and orphans in Ethiopia is obvious through their website and their packaging—and even the colours of the WO|Collar.

Pros of WO Design:

  • Buying from WO Design means you’re part of helping women and orphans in Ethiopia.
  • The WO|Collar is colourful and stylish.
  • The collar can easily be adjusted to fit your dog’s neck.
  • The spoke design of the WO|Disc makes it easy for you to throw and for your dog to carry. It’s also easy to grab.
  • The bright colours of the WO|Disc mean it’s easy to spot if it gets left on the lawn—or tossed to the middle of the lake (it floats).

WO Design review - dog disc toy


  • I question the sturdiness of the plastic buckle on the collar. If you have a large dog who likes to pull, the WO|Collar may not be the best choice for you.
  • The collar is fabric, which means it may absorb odors and dirt more easily.
  • When laying flat on the ground, the WO|Disc was a bit hard for Baxter to pick up—similar to a Frisbee.

Would I buy the WO|Collar or WO|Disc?

I like the company’s mission, but these two products are not a fit for my particular dog. My concerns about the sturdiness of the collar mean I’ll be sticking with my martingale. As for the disc, I don’t have a high-energy, playful dog. When he does want to play, Baxter is happiest chasing a stick.

Would I recommend WO Design to others?

I am happy to recommend WO Design. Their mission is commendable, and buying their products is a good way to support this cause. The WO|Collar would be a fit for smaller dogs or dogs that don’t pull—or if you’re looking for a colourful, stylish collar.

For dogs that enjoy Frisbees, the WO|Disc could be a good alternative toy to try.

WO Design coupon code

WO Design created a unique coupon code for readers of That Mutt. Use code thatmutt2017 for 20% off your order with WO Design. Click here.

*Code expires Sat. March 31.

WO Design review - dog collars and dog toys

Would you like a new collar or toy for your dog?

Let us know if you have any questions about the products. We’ll get them answered for you!

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