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November 1, 2013

Soap Opera Makes Nate Mad!

Billy Abbott and his dog from CBS Young and the Restless
Dash Surprises Billy
Mrs. Nate has been a loyal follower and viewer of the hit daytime TV soap called the Young and the Restless. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this program. Even those of us who do not care for soaps know about the greedy and heartless Victor Newman.

Mrs. Nate faithfully PVRs the show and almost always plays it back while I make dinner. So I end up watching it here and there and I have to admit I don’t mind it so much. I know all the characters and their various sordid pasts.

The episode that played on October 30th had a scene that made me quite angry. Let me set it up for you.

You see, Billy Abbott had a lovely, young daughter named Delia from his previous marriage to Chloe, Billy is now married to Vicki Newman, just in case you didn't know. As if you didn't!

In recent, previous shows, Billy rescued a dog named Dash and gave him to his daughter as a present.

Last week Billy was driving home with Delia and her new dog in the backseat. They stopped at a convenience store to pick up some ice cream and Billy left the two of them in car as he went in to make his purchase.

I’m not exactly sure why but Delia decided to open the car door, Dash darted out and ran into the desolate, dark road. She got worried and decided to go after him. To make a long story short, a car came by driven by none other than Adam Newman, he swerves to miss the dog and ends up running over poor Delia; she goes the hospital and eventually dies.

I’m thinking, “Where’s Dash?” They never did tell us. A week later, Billy is grieving heavily and blaming himself for the death of his daughter. He finds himself out on the front porch of his house and low and behold, Dash made his way home! Yay doggie!

Billy brings the dog in and of course seeing Dash for the first time, he brings back the memories, hurt and pain all over again. He puts Dash out back and leaves him out there. After a while he wants in and Billy’s wife, Victoria says, “We should let the dog in.” Billy says, “Leave it out there, I don’t want to see that damn dog!” She replies, “I’ll get started on looking for a new home for him.”

I’m like, seriously? That’s a nice message to send the millions of viewers out there!

I know it’s just fiction but hey, let’s use a soap opera story line to reinforce the fact dogs are disposable items that can just be thrown away when they present life complications we simply don’t want to deal with.

I may be slightly overreacting here but that was first thought that came to my head seconds after the scene had finished playing. It made me mad that they would show their viewers the best way to deal with your dog in a crappy situation is to find it a new home.

I was feeling bad for Billy watching him deal with probably the worst thing a parent would ever to go through, but now I can’t stand him. What’s more, I’m not sure I even like the show now!

There is enough dog surrendering going on throughout North America without it being a part of our entertainment on some TV show!

October 24, 2013

Personalized Pet Tags Are a Must!

Short of having an ill pet or one that has to be put to sleep, a lost pet is probably the most stressful thing to endure. You can’t help but think the worst. Did she get run over by a car? Did he get eaten by coyotes? Did someone find them and decide to keep them? Not knowing is the worst!

Last night we had a knock at our door. We generally avoid answering the door when we’re not expecting visitors because more often than not it’s someone trying to sell us lawn care, alarm systems, newspaper subscriptions, etc.

I looked through the peephole and it appeared it could be just one of those people but for some reason I couldn't resist opening the door and seeing what this person wanted.

To my surprise it was a lady handing out flyers about her friend’s lost cat. It was the same flyer Mrs. Nate and I saw earlier in the day while walking our boys. We are always sad when we see these posted around the community.

But this was the first time I had witnessed someone actually going door to door in an effort to let the neighbourhood know this cat went missing. Further to that, it wasn't just the owner of the cat knocking on doors it was her friend. I found this to be touching, the cat owner’s friend wanted to help after seeing how upset she was by the loss of her feline companion.

We can totally empathize because we've had our share of cats wander off causing a panic state as we frantically went around the neighborhood looking for our lost pet.

Heck, the last time was only a couple of months ago. We didn't even know our cat Burberry had gone missing! Thank goodness for her collar and the attached tag with her name and our phone number on it. Our neighbour a few doors down discovered Burberry in his yard, found our number on her collar and immediately called us.

Turns out she was relaxing in the back yard when the dog we were babysitting got into the yard with her. The dog would never hurt her but she didn't know that. In her haste to get away she actually leapt up onto our six foot fence and got away as fast as she could. All this happened so fast we didn't even know she was gone, we thought she was still safe and sound in the basement.

On Monday night we were walking our boys and we came across two very friendly dogs walking along all by themselves. They were happily wandering around sniffing stuff. These two dogs had tags with their actual address shown. Turns out they were about 10 houses away from home and we were able to coax them along till we got there. We rang the bell when arriving and the dogs went inside immediately after their owner opened the door. She was grateful but somewhat nonchalant about the situation saying they “get out all the time” and figured they make their way back home eventually. Wasn’t too crazy about that attitude let me tell ya!

So the lesson here (and we learned it early on) is always equip your pets with a personalized collar and tag. Make sure your phone number or address is on the tag so you can be contacted directly. If you have a city tag, that’s great but having your direct contact info in addition to that is much better.

Simply relying on the City of Calgary tag means the person finding your pet must call the city to pick them. Your pet will endure a ride in the back of their truck, probably in a cage and will have to wait in a kennel for you to arrive.  On top of all that, you’ll probably get a finger wag from the officer and a nice fine too!

There are many places to get personalized tags created for your dogs and cats. Just visit your favourite pet store (preferably one that doesn't sell pets) or go online, they’re everywhere! The photo I used was courtesy of Etsy. There are a ton of fun and unique ones out there.

Not to mention it’s much cheaper than a city by-law fine and less stressful for your lost pet.

October 9, 2013

Devastating Fire Affects One of Our Own

Sometimes fate sneaks up on you when you least expect it and takes a big bite out of your happy life. Well this has unfortunately happened to “one of our own”. By that I mean by one of our fellow pet industry colleagues.

You may have heard about the terrible fire that ripped through four family homes in the community of Auburn Bay. One of those families affected was the owner of Calgary’s in home dog training service, Where’s your Sit. Jade and her family have been displaced from their home from this devastating fire.

The community of Auburn Bay is rallying to help all four families affected in order to organize donations of clothing, gift cards, toy, etc. In addition to that, Tail Blazers in Copperfield is also volunteering to accept donations and gift cards specifically for Jade and her family.

If you want to help, please feel free to visit the Tail blazers in Copperfield. Gift cards for Superstore or Walmart or something similar will certainly help get this family back on the road to a normal life. If you need any further information please contact Big Nate anytime.

The pet industry is strong and we are a close bunch. When it comes to times like these, I’m proud to be a part of such a great bunch of people.

September 7, 2013

The Time Has Come

Well what can I say? I just have to come right out with it and get it over with.

After being in business for over nine years Poooh Busters must face the fact that it is time to increase the rates we charge for our service. This is the first time we have ever done so and it is something that we hate to do.

Poooh Busters' new pricing structure will come into effect as of October 1, 2013.

August 7, 2013

Tuesday - Go Out With A Bang

Yesterday Diesel took his journey. The seventh day had arrived and what you are about to read is truly wonderful. As Jennifer stated in the first blog of this series, "We are given seven days...not because we chose the date but because in many way it chose us."

Seven days...sounds familiar doesn't it?

Those seven days taught us a lot and as you read on you'll see the list of what Jennifer learned on each of those seven days.

August 6, 2013

Monday - Our "Wish Bone" For You is Filled With Love

The family’s Monday was one of gifts and preparation. The kids, Alyssa and Gage made presents for Diesel, some extremely special gifts as you’ll soon see. This to me is a wonderful coping mechanism that we should all learn to use. I think it is enormously helpful for the kids in any family when including them in this process.

And I think including them is important rather than just telling them, “Fido went to a farm.”

This week has gone by in a flash and I can hardly believe that Tuesday as come already. It has come because today is actually tomorrow as I’ve been blogging one day behind each day’s events. By the time you read tomorrow’s blog Diesel will have already crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

August 5, 2013

Sunday - Not Sunny But You Brighten the Day With Your Presence

Reading Jennifer’s words today reminds me even more of the vast differences between humans and dogs.

We as humans are far too complex and we trouble ourselves with so much that is not as important as we think.

Have you ever had a day at work where you came home completely exhausted? You wonder, “Why am I so tired?” I didn't really accomplish much today. As you look back on the day you realize it was spent worrying about “stuff” and it’s usually other people’s stuff.

August 4, 2013

Saturday - "B" is for Boxer

"B" is for Beautiful
Our sad yet uplifting journey brings us to a beautiful Saturday afternoon with the family spending some serious quality time with Diesel.

As her day begins Jennifer struggles with staying in the moment. She wrote me and expressed her wonder at how the world can keep turning when we are on the brink of losing one of the best dogs that ever lived? I was able to completely relate, I've thought the same thing in times like these. The world just keeps moving forward no matter what we're going through.

With that said, let's make the world stop for a few moments while we experience Diesel's Saturday.

After all, "B" is for Boxer and so many other things as you'll see.

August 3, 2013

Friday - Reflection and Balance

Wow! Today's message is a powerful one. The most powerful yet. It is one of self reflection and attaining balance, one of "what if's" and regrets.

Jennifer captures so well these many thoughts and feelings. I'm sure we've had them in the past too, if not we will certainly be having them in the future.

I've had them when Mrs. Nate and I both had to decide the fate of our cats on two separate occasions. Even though I can relate and empathize with these thoughts and feelings, I certainly could not have captured them in words nearly as eloquently as what you are about to read.

August 2, 2013

Thursday - It's Not What If... it's What Now?

Jennifer and family have deemed today to be “Throwback Thursday”.
There is no distance here on
earth as far away as yesterday

A day of reflection on the most cherished memories and moments the family has shared throughout Diesel’s past 9 and 1/2 years. So today’s blog will have lots of great pictures from the past with funny comments to accompany them.

It is today that we can look back, laugh and reminisce about the good times.

August 1, 2013

Wednesday - Greet Everybody With All Your Heart

Diesel the dog getting pets from his Dad, Chris. Welcome home Dad!
Dad, Chris and Diesel
greet each other
We have seen a lot of loving feedback on our Facebook wall with words of sorrow and encouragement. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Much of the feedback involves comments about tears. I just want to say that tears are good but we certainly don’t want to cause mass depression among our loyal fans and readers!

I’m posting this series of blogs in order to help those of us who will be experiencing this very situation when the time comes for our own pets. If we watch and listen to this story, we might take something away from it that will help us in the future to better cope with inevitability making that heartbreaking decision; leading our beloved pets to the Rainbow Bridge.

Today’s blog is about what we can learn from our dogs. As Jennifer and family continue to cherish their last days with Diesel they have decided to sit back, listen and learn what they can from this happy, free spirited dog. As you read about Poooh Buster’s final visit to Diesel’s yard to service it, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

July 31, 2013

Tuesday - Seven Days Till We Let You Go

Diesel and Baxter, two dogs looking up from the kitchen floor
Baxter and Diesel
Yesterday I blogged about an amazing family that is challenged with the hardest decision every pet guardian must accept as a part of their responsibility. Their long time family pet and best friend Diesel is getting old and his time has come.

Now they must do what every dog family must do at this point in their dog’s life. Make that final decision to let them go. Jennifer and family have decided that they have seven more love filled days left to cherish their beloved Diesel.

As I chatted back and forth with Jennifer talking about doing a blog series I could feel her sadness and her strength in the words she wrote. Together we decided it would be a nice tribute to Diesel to share each day of their experience with anyone who cares to follow along this journey.

July 30, 2013

Making the Hard Decisions

I’ve written a blog in the past on dealing with the death of our most beloved friends and companions. It’s never a pleasant subject and it’s something we as pet lovers have come to expect, knowing that the dreadful day will eventually come.

But for us at Poooh Busters, we experience it through our clients on a regular basis. We feel their sadness when a customer emails or calls to tell us that they no longer need our service because their dog has gone over the rainbow bridge. Or sometimes when they have two dogs, they let us know that they only need service for one now. We can hear it in their voice and sense it in their emails, the simple act of notifying us is breaking their hearts.

If you have ever struggled with the loss of your best friend, you know how hard it can be to cope with the grief. There are many websites out there that offer advice and can even help you find services where you can get counseling if needed.

July 22, 2013

And The Thunder Rolls

Last night I was actually enjoying a rather sound sleep. These are few and far between for me as we let our animals sleep with us. Those of you who allow their pets to snuggle next to them in bed know all too well what I’m talking about.

Sleeping with your dogs and/or cats is like a guilty pleasure that isn't good for you. Sort of like secretly enjoying a whole box of Wagon Wheels all to yourself. You can’t help it because you love them so much but you know you’re going to pay for it in other ways.

Now usually the lack of sleep comes from being unable to move freely, one dog lying on my left side and the other on my right. They have me pinned down beneath the blankets making me feel like a trapped burrito. I imagine at any moment a bunch of guys are going to appear and start beating me with bars of soap wrapped in towels.

July 16, 2013

How Many Times Does it Have To Be Said?

Another summer has arrived and along with it, the heat. Here in Calgary we’ve had quite an eventful summer so far when it comes to weather. Massive rainfalls and the melting runoff from the mountains caused some incredible flooding along the Bow River and the Elbow River affecting thousands of residents (and their pets) from Canmore to HighRiver. Calgary was in a state of emergency for nearly two weeks. But that’s another story!

Today I’m here to talk about the spells of hot weather that we've had over the past month or so. And as always with the hot weather I see two things happening when it comes to our pooches.
  1. People leaving their dogs in hot cars.
  2. People bringing their dogs with them as they go shopping and leave them tied up outside the store all by themselves.

These are probably my two biggest pet peeves when it comes to irresponsible guardianship of our beloved pets. I can put up with people not picking up their dog’s poooh or those dreadful people who leave their dogs in the backs of open trucks while driving around town or even the constant barking of neighbourhood dogs left out in backyards. But I simply will not tolerate items #1 or #2 if they are happening right in front of me. My story today has to do with item #2 on the list.

May 22, 2013

Dogs and Cats of Jamaica

Mrs. Big Nate and I just recently returned from our vacation in Jamaica. It was our second time there and as before we had a lovely time and enjoyed the people and culture.

We always take excursions off the hotel property in order to experience some the “real world” and get a taste of what life is actually like for Jamaica’s people. Along with that we also get to see what life is like for the country’s dogs and cats.

In addition to Jamaica, our Caribbean travels have taken us to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. In all three countries, with the limited exposure we have had outside the walls of our secure resort, it appeared most dogs and cats are left to their own devices for survival.

The dogs especially always look the same. Dirty, skinny and sad. They’re all about the same medium size, mutt mix. They all seemed to walk around very slowly, their heads hung low with a rather sad look about them.

 In Mexico there were lots of them, we saw the mongrels roaming about pretty much wherever we went. In the Dominican there were not as many and we were glad to see vet clinics here and there in the populated areas. And in Jamaica it appeared as if most of the dogs we saw were owned by someone. They were always in a yard or driveway. But it didn't matter which country we were in, they all looked the same.

We talked to one of our Jamaican guides and asked him about how they felt about dogs in his country. He said most people in the rural areas or smaller towns had a dog as they were considered good for protection of their property but they were rarely allowed indoors and were never thought of as members of the family. He said his dog didn't even really have a name but he made sure he “threw out feed” for the dog when he thought of it. I wanted to ask more questions but refrained as I’m sure I wouldn't have liked the answers. I wanted to ask how he acquired his dog. Did he take him to the vet? Did he get him neutered? But for these folks, I’m sure they have little money to spend on such things.

When we visited Negril, we came across a street mongrel whose back leg was broken and hanging uselessly and he hobbled around on his three remaining good legs. One of his front legs had a large, open sore on it as well adding to his misfortune. A fellow tourist fed him some potato chips which didn't seem to be to his liking so I had to assume that he wasn't starving. Still it was a sad scene and many of the Canadian, American and European tourists felt bad at seeing this dog in such a poor condition.

We came across a few cats too but only on the resort itself. One night we saw a mother cat with her two kittens wandering around the outdoor entertainment area. They were skittish and ran off when anyone tried to approach them. Another night we came across two more cats and they actually allowed us to pet them. One day on the beach Mrs. Nate must have spent 30 minutes straight petting a skinny, black cat that came to sit in the shade with us. We had nothing to offer these cats for food but again they did not seem to be completely starving.

We always feel bad for all these animals living the way they do and wished we had the resources to help out the ones that we cross paths with. I get the feeling that most of these animals aren't abused in any way, they’re just simply left to survive on their own. Right here in Calgary, I’m sure there are many, many dogs that suffer even worse fates being owned by cruel, abhorrent people. Dogs kept outside all day no matter the weather, neglected and separated from their “families”.  At least in Jamaica, the dogs are free to roam about as they please, aren't kept in filthy dog runs and never have to suffer extreme cold temperatures. At least this is what I tell myself while visiting these countries.

I can’t help but think of all the domestic animals around the world that are doing the best they can with the hand they have been dealt in this life. There are so many and it’s an overwhelming thought.

February 5, 2013

Runaway Dogs

Photo courtesy of
Last weekend, Mrs. Nate and I were cruising through our old neighbourhood of Auburn Bay in SE Calgary. We lived there about three years ago and have since moved to the community next door, in Mahogany. Anyway, we thought we’d drive through to see how much things had changed. Wow! There has been a ton of new construction going on.

We were puttering down Auburn Bay Blvd. and I noticed a little Scottie Terrier running free right on the main boulevard. There was lots of traffic on this busy road, as well lots of people were about. The dog was bounding from one group of people to another and in his haste was almost struck by passing cars twice!

We had stopped our car in order to prevent the traffic on our side of the boulevard to continue moving through in an effort to decrease his chances of getting hit by cars from this side of the road. Eventually he caught up to two kids crossing the street right in front of us. He was jumping up at one of the kids in total excitement and the kid didn't look too thrilled about being accosted by this strange, overly-excited pooch. Eventually the Scottie ran up the side street, I wheeled my car forward to follow him.

He stopped to run up to a porch of a strange house and we ended up passing him. I immediately made a U-turn and saw another car had followed us in the side street and had stopped behind him. Now the little guy was between their car and ours. Mrs. Nate jumped out right away. He was just so excited to be out and meeting new people, he ran right into her arms. She picked him up and immediately started to look at his collar hoping to find some ID tags. There was a City of Calgary dog tag, so he was registered. That was good but if he had a custom tag with his name and a phone number, that would be even better! We would rather call the pet parents directly on our cell phone while we’re standing there holding the dog. They could come get him right away, while we’re in the area. Instead with a City dog tag we’d have to take him home and call the City to pick him up. The dog gets stressed out by the whole ordeal and the guardians get a big, fat fine on top of it.

So I suggest everyone do what we did, go to Tail Blazers and get custom tags made up for all your pets!

After a while of wondering what to do, Mrs. Big Nate saw a rather large and grumpy looking gentleman approaching her and she asked if he knew whose dog this was. He replied that it was his. She was extremely relieved to hear this and eagerly handed the escape artist over to his “Dad”. She told him that his Scottie almost got hit twice out on the boulevard; his most awesome reply to that statement was “I wish he had”.

I wish he had!? Are you kidding me?

I can understand the portly gentleman was probably annoyed that he had to get off the couch to go find his dog and was probably embarrassed by the situation after seeing two cars chasing his dog down, but a “thank you” would have been a little more of an appropriate response! No?

I almost wish my wife had taken him back. We could have provided him with a nice home where the pet parents don’t wish for his ultimate demise.

This is not the first time Mrs. Nate had rescued a runaway dog. We have found and returned three dogs over the past couple of years. Every time we had to hold the dog and call the City. Each dog had city dog tags so thank goodness for that but what a stressful experience for the poor dog.

When we first adopted Oscar from a pet rescue, he was three years old, never neutered and rarely socialized. He had bad manners, pee marked all over our house and we were told historically he was known as a runner. Shortly after adopting him I was mowing the lawn and accidentally left the gate open, forgetting we had a newly acquired runner in the family. Well Oscar saw an opportunity and took it, off he ran! For a chunky, little Japanese Chin he could move, I actually had to grab my bike to catch up to him and bring him home.

Here we are four years later, now Oscar won’t even leave our property without his leash on. He will sit in the garage with the door wide open and will not leave even if coaxed to do so. Why? Well I believe one reason is it that he gets walked twice a day. I tend to think conditioning taught him that the only time he leaves our property is by walking on the leash or by a car ride. Secondly, not only do we walk him and Mojo every day, we spend time playing with them, petting them and talking to them. As for his bad manners and pee-marking, we take him to the dog parks to mingle and make him wear a belly band we purchased from Pawhaus Pet Boutique. We never could break him of the marking behavior.

Having a dog isn't just about feeding them and hiring Poooh Busters to clean up after them. It also means spending time with them and making them a part of your family activities.

Maybe, just maybe they won’t look for any opportunity to escape and run free if they are made to feel like family members rather than prisoners.

January 21, 2013

Dog Conversations

This last weekend Mrs. Nate and I had the fortunate opportunity to get together with some friends that we haven’t seen in quite some time. It was fantastic going to their place to catch up on all the great things that have gone in our lives since we last saw one another. My friend Sean is a cameraman for a sports network and dabbles in Webmastering like I do. He recently built a website for his wife, Jennifer’s home-based business called Perfect Pinkies. Highly recommended to you ladies out there if you live in SW Calgary!

Sean and Jennifer like Mrs. Big Nate and I have two dogs. Only they have two beautiful and well-behaved Rotties. It was a joy to have them present throughout our evening visit, just gorgeous! Additionally, there was another couple (Nick and Lee) who joined us for dinner as well and though they do not own a dog they often dog sit for their parents and love spending time with their parent’s dog whenever they get the chance.

As we gathered around the kitchen before dinner we chatted about various things and I started to notice that the topic of our conversations would always end up going back to our dogs or past experiences with dogs that were in our lives at one point or another. After we sat down for dinner the conversation continued on about all things dogs. Near the end of our dinner time some else must have noticed that we all seemed to be focused on dogs and actually said, “Don’t we have something else to talk about besides our dogs?” We all laughed after realizing that our beloved pooches had indeed ruled our thoughts.

For me it was no big deal, I think about dogs all the time. They are a huge part of my Facebook time since I am a fan of many dog or pet related pages. I cruise the internet looking for dog stories, blogs or news. I have many friends associated to dogs and pets simply due to the fact that I am active in Calgary’s pet industry. So I sort of expect to be thinking about or talking about dogs during a large portion of my free time. The funny thing is, the two other couples we were visiting with were not associated to anything in the pet industry, so I had no expected to be talking about pet waste removal, dog rescues or any other dog related topics.

But by the simple fact that we all have dogs in our lives, we all had something in common. Dogs give us a safe place to be when it comes to making idle chit chat with complete strangers or when having  in-depth conversations with close friends.

I wonder how many people became friends because their dogs wanted to meet and play together at the dog park or on a daily walk. I know when I’m out with our dogs; I see many of the same people over and over again. Although I have to confess, I know their dog’s name long before I ever think to introduce myself and officially meet them.

How many great people do you know because of your dog? For me I can safely say dozens! Sure I have to thank Poooh Busters for bringing me into the pet industry where I have met so many great, dedicated and talented people but I also have to thank my dogs. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this blog.