Reasons to Turn Your Home into a Cat’s Refuge

 Photo by  Pexels

Photo by Pexels

In 2018, roughly 95.6 million cats already have a home among people living in the United States. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 31% of domestic cats are acquired from animal shelters while roughly 27% were directly saved from the streets.

Each time people close their doors to a homeless cat, the little one is 98 times more likely to die.

Even with their mythical nine lives, a great deal of their survival lies in your hands.

Unfortunately, cats are not predisposed to pity like dogs usually are.

Sit. Stay. Grow. was recently approached by Miranda LaSala, to post an infographic that contains 40 greatest reasons to turn your home into a cat refuge. We respectfully declined but offered to place the link in a blog post because it doesn’t fit our style but you can view it at


The Purring Pal

3 Tips for a Successful Halloween with your Dog

 Image by Pexels

Image by Pexels

Halloween is one of the most celebrated family holidays in the United States, so it’s important to make sure everyone gets a chance to be in on the fun. From joining the family out trick-or-treating to dressing up in costume, dogs also enjoy the social fun of Halloween.

However, since they don’t understand the holiday the way we do, it can also be a little confusing— and sometimes even stressful for them. For those of us who think of our four-legged friends as members of the family, we want to do everything we can to help them have a great and safe experience. Thinking of taking Fido out on All Hallow’s Eve? Here are a few ways to keep them calm and comfortable, and include them in the fun and games.

Keep the Costume Simple

It’s only natural to want to involve your dog in the most exciting Halloween tradition: dressing up in a costume. That begs the question, “What should I dress my dog up as and will he enjoy wearing it?” Truth be told, our dogs do a lot of things they aren’t super into, mostly because they can tell we are (take hugs, for example). Only you know your dog’s temperament to know what kind of clothing he would be comfortable in. If you’re the kind of dog owner who has sweaters for Fido in the winter and jerseys on game day, your dog will likely be okay with a more elaborate costume. If you rarely dress your dog in clothes or outfits, a Halloween costume might make them feel nervous or anxious.

Prep for Night Walking

Most families don’t walk their dogs that often at night, so it’s important that you get both your pup and your family ready. Remember, this isn’t just walking on any old night — this is walking on a night where the streets will be filled with ghouls, ghosts, and goblins (not to mention lost candy bars on the sidewalk). Protecting your dog means giving them direction so they feel like they can trust you in the chaos. Grab a reflective dog leash, harness, or collar so your dog can be seen by pedestrians, cars, and bike riders. If you don’t want to purchase a new collar, you can add blinking lights to their current one. Limit the responsibilities of the person walking your dog so they can really focus on keeping your pup safe. 

Join the Celebration

If you’re taking your dog to a Halloween party, first make sure it is okay with the hosts that you come with a canine. Even if your friend usually lets you come over with your dog, a party might be a different situation. With the streets more full during Halloween, it’s important that your dog sits in the back seat and doesn’t distract you while driving. If you’re attending a costume party, remember that your dog may feel confused or even scared. Certain breeds of dogs, and often rescues who have experienced trauma, are shy around men, strangers, and children, so be sure to work on their confidence before taking them out to a spirited party.

From restaurants to festivals, dogs are more welcome in previously people-only places than ever before. Chances are, your city, town, or community has some dog-specific Halloween events that would be fun and exciting for a social, well-mannered pup. From celebrations with dog costume contests to 5k fun runs where your dogs can dash or dawdle, doing a little research in your town and prep with your family can reduce the stress and maximize the fun.

Guest Blogger:  Penny Martin -

Pet•Cetera Magazine

A personal friend of mine, Kristen Harris, recently unveiled her new pet lifestyle magazine for the Columbus area. She has been formulating her ideas for this publication for many years, using similar publications in other cities as a guide. She dreamed of a local guide for our city to help people have fun with their pets.

The magazine is “her baby”, filled with interesting articles and beautiful photography. It helps to celebrate the bond between pets and their owners.

I advised Kristin to charge a fee for the magazine because I felt readers would place more value on it if it had a price. She chose to forego the price but the mag is available via subscription if you want it mailed to your home rather than trekking out to find a free copy in your local pet shoppe or vet office. It is also online at

Sit. Stay. Grow. is a proud advertiser in her publication and will be as long as she continues to promote pets and the people who love them. She also recently asked me to submit an article regarding a “Day in the LIfe” of a pet sitter which will be in the next issue scheduled to be out November 1st. I am honored to represent our industry in this endeavor.

Best wishes for a long run and great success!

Walker Wars


I am probably one of the few professional dog walkers who welcome the Uber-like services for dog walkers.

Instead of competition, I see them as calling attention to the need. For many years, dogs have had to “hold it” until someone got home. For too long, dogs have not gotten proper exercise. As work demands intensified, our precious pets paid the price. 

Online app-based dog-walking services spend a tremendous amount of money to advertise and ensure the top spot in any Google search. What they will never be able to offer is the sense of relief that our customers have, knowing someone professional who really cares about their furry friend is coming day in/day out and entering their home. You can’t buy love or trust. 

Some of my comrades think the solution lies in licensing dog walkers in the state. They want dog walkers to have to purchase pet-sitter insurance, be bonded, be background-checked, have a SSN or EIN, and complete a pet-sitter education course or certification. They hope this will cut down on the numbers of hobbyists available online. In my opinion, licensing will add another expense, another layer of bureaucracy to our plate, and an unnecessary headache. As it stands now, we reap the benefits of ongoing education without the requirement.

I fully expect these online services will implode under the weight of their crushing marketing budgets. This is not a sustainable business model. Someday, investors are going to want to see profits. And when that day comes, the marketing will stop or decrease. 

It is extremely difficult to find good people and keep them so, I vigorously vet them and when a good one comes along, I pay them well for their work. My contractors get raises for awesome reviews. Hobbyists are going to graduate, find other employment, and move on. It’s a numbers game for the big companies. They hire thousands, pay them poorly, and expect them to compete for business. 

When you spend money with one of these corporate giants, you are sending your money outside of the local economy (at least part of it). If you use a local small business, you are keeping your funds in our local economy where we can hopefully help each other. You are also be more likely to support women in business. In fact, Pet Sitters International recently surveyed their members and estimated 81.4% of pet-sitting businesses are owned solely by women.

At Sit. Stay .Grow., we always have your pet’s best interest in mind, not quotas.


Welcoming A New Pet Into Your Home

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What could be more exciting than knowing it's time to expand your family with a four-legged, furry face or crawly critter?  

If you're ready to bring a new pet into your life, you'll want to choose one that is right for your lifestyle and family:

  • Are you a high-energy person or more interested in a couch companion?
  • Do you live in a home with a big yard that provides plenty of zoom room, or is your pad a small apartment?
  • Who will take care of your pet when you travel for business or vacation?
  • If you rent, does you landlord give permission to add a pet?  If so, is there an additional fee?
  • How will a pet affect your children? Are they ready for a critter, too?

If you've had a dog or cat before and you are considering bring in another, clean your carpets first. Even if it's been a year or more since a different animal lived in your house, a sensitive nose can detect their scent. You wouldn't want a new cat spraying his territory. Regular carpet cleanings are great for removing stains and odors but also preserve high traffic areas. Humans are just as tough on floor coverings.

Pet Proof and Prep

Think of your new pet as a curious little kid or toddler. Remove curtain pulls and cords. Move plants out of reach. Lock away household chemicals. Close doors to rooms you'd like to keep pet-free. Keep closet, cabinet, cupboard, washer/dyer doors and toilet lids closed when not in use and always check for pets before you close.

Determine where your new pet will eat, sleep, and a where you will put the litter box or crate. Designate an outdoor spot for your new pup to toilet.


Wildlife photographer and preservationist Roger Caras said, "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." To find the "perfect" dog, you want to consider:

  • Whether to get a puppy or senior.
  • Whether to get a purebred or a mixed breed.
  • Whether to adopt or purchase.
  • How large (or small) of a dog suits you.


Sigmund Freud said, "Time spent with cats is never wasted." and feline aficionados agree. While cats tend to be more independent than other pets, they due rely on the daily attention of humans. Please consider:

  • Does anyone in your home have allergies.
  • The time you have to play and socialize with the cat.
  • If you are willing to commit to a critter whose lifespan may last 20 years.

Rescued Pets

Adopted or rescued pets may need a little extra TLC to help them acclimate to their new home. Whatever pet you choose:

  • Give your new pet plenty of space. Find a safe spot where he can relax away from action.
  • Establish a routine. Dogs (and cats) respond to structure and rules. Set your pet up for success by helping her figure out how she fits in.
  • Get the right stuff:  Non-sliding food and water bowls, indestructible hard rubber toys for dogs and scratching posts for cats.  
  • Dogs like beds and crates preferably located where they can see what's going on but they can still chill when they need a break.
  • Cats love cozy spots, too. Most love higher perches that are sturdy and provide a good lookout.

No matter what critter you bring home, take time to bond with your new pet. Have patience while your pet adjusts. Cats and dogs might adjust quickly while some will take longer, but their steadfast companionship is worth it.

Photo credit:

Guest blogger:  Jessica Brody, Founder,




Resources for Pet Lovers


Occasionally, a client will request a service that Sit. Stay. Grow. does not offer, either because we don’t have availability at that time or the service is better left to a professional like a veterinarian, trainer, or groomer.

However, we will always attempt to locate a good provider for them.

Another option is to use some of the search engines available. They typically operate by zip code so if you live very near to the outside of a zip code, you may want to try nearby zips as well. The best thing about these search engines is they have typically cater to professionals and require bonding, pet sitters’ insurance and criminal background checks.

Pet Sitters International has a powerful listing of professional sitters across the world. Pet Sitters International sends out weekly newsletters, bimonthly magazines and holds a yearly Pet Expo for members. Also Central Ohio Professional Pet Sitters Network has a great listing of local sitters ready to serve. COPPS has bimonthly educational seminars for members and members frequently rely on each other for back up and referral business.

My advice is to always seek out a professional. There are numerous kids and hobby sitters that offer to “take care” of your pet on the cheap but they do not have the training or back up resources a pro does. Isn’t the well-being and safety of your beloved pet worth more than pizza money?

Sit. Stay. Grow. is attempting to build a list of Community Resources for Pet Lovers by city and post them on our website. We rely on the recommendations of clients for these listings. If you see we haven’t listed one of your favorite and trusted sources, please contact Susan Deisher,

Canine Flu

Sick Dog.jpg

Canine Flu is prevalent in Columbus, OH, this year.

Some daycares and boarding facilities have shut down. Dog parks are empty. Clinicians will come out to your car to vaccinate your pet. This is not “Kennel Cough” or Bordetella. The fatality rate is listed as “low” but, to us, 10% is not low. If you have a young pup, a senior dog, or a dog with other immunity-challenges, the flu might be very dangerous. Sometimes a dog will develop a secondary infection like pneumonia. Most dogs will recover in 2 to 3 weeks. Vaccinations are available, they are expensive, require a booster, and come with the usual risk of vaccinations (depends on your opinion of vaccinations in general). Your vet can test your dog for the virus. 

Symptoms are typical flu-like symptoms:  a cough, excess mucous, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. 

Overall, the vaccination is considered a “lifestyle” choice. If your dog is commonly exposed to other dogs, your vet will likely recommend the vaccination. If you work in the veterinary field, foster dogs, or are pet sitters, like us, it is recommended by vets to get your dog vaccinated.  

Common vectors are shared food/water dishes, unwashed hands or clothing, and dog’s sniffing and licking each other (which they are wont to do).  

Even asymptomatic dogs can transmit the virus. There is no evidence that the virus will transmit to people but it did mutate from an equine strain initially and has shown up in some cats. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep young, sick, old or pregnant people or other animals from possible exposure. Speak with your vet about your risks. Currently, the potential of transfer to humans or other species is considered low (but keep in mind, the AVMA said a 10% death rate was low).  

Ask your vet if it is safe to bring your dog into their office. Some veterinarians have reported multiple cases of Canine Flu within their facilities although they have safety protocols in place. It is not uncommon for vaccinations to be given in cars in the vet’s parking lot or for a vet to set up an outdoor vaccination clinic.

To keep Canine Flu from spreading to our charges, Sit. Stay. Grow. practices sanitary methods to prevent contamination. We are on the look out for sick animals (we have turned down risky assignments) and we have alerted our customers. We are happy to report that many customers have asked their vet about the vaccination and/or are curtailing their dog’s contact with other dogs.






A Year in Review

A year as a small business owner and pet-sitter has taught me a few things:

  • Loyalty is rare

  • Business often conflicts with “the right thing”

  • People are generally good-hearted

As much as I like to think that a client is always going to keep booking with my company, the reality is that there are other companies scratching and clawing for customers. My business claims over 100 clients but I think about 20 or so are “regulars”. Occasionally, someone drops off the radar, usually because they have found another option for pet care, a family member, friend, or “gasp" another pet-sitting company. What I can be sure of, nobody leaves because of poor service. It’s always a monetary motive. Most of my “regulars” are loyal because they are done shopping-around, have tried other options and failed. It’s not really loyalty, it’s smart business for them.

Smart business is not always right. Sometimes, you make a call “just because” and it doesn’t help your business but it helps your heart. In my experience, doing “the right thing” gives you good karma and helps you keep going when things are tough. In a way, that is smart business so, forget I said anything.

Speaking of karma, in a year, nobody has not paid. A couple clients have dragged-out payment but, after exploring the issues, they always meant to pay in a timely fashion. Something else “happened”, and stood in the way of payment. I belong to a pet sitter’s chat group (sounds thrilling, doesn’t it?) full of ideas for insuring payment, like demanding payment up front but, honestly, I haven’t seen the need. A couple of clients have presented challenges, but they generally have good intentions and need help becoming educated. Educating clients is a huge part of the business.

Ultimately, the goal of my business is to improve pet welfare so this has been a VERY successful year by that yardstick.