Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Hidden Responsibility of a Pet Care Business

Some of you may not know that Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid originated as a Vancouver-based dog walking and pet sitting company in 2000. In 2003 we added Pet First Aid courses to our services and have focused solely on our International Pet First Aid program as of early 2011.

When I owned the pet care business, the most common statement people would make upon being told of my profession was "Oh, that must be so much fun!". Thinking back, I have to laugh now at these conversations with people truly unaware of the real nature of the business. In fact, I distinctly started avoiding discussion with people about my career to avoid hearing the comment.

You see, pet care is a very misunderstood profession. Yes, there were glorious days where I was out on the trails with 6 wonderfully behaved dogs in my tank top and shorts thinking "I have the best job in the world". However, there were situations I didn't count on that came into play:

Weather: Clients expect service regardless of the weather. This was particularly dire to our cat sitting clients who would not survive if we did not arrive to feed them everyday while their owners travelled. I remember a snow day that I lent my own boots to a staffmember and sent her out with money and instructions to take the bus or a cab (whichever came first) to get from house to house. It took her more then 6 hours to visit 4 animals. I also turned into a professional snow shoveller, helping our staff dig the work vehicles out every morning.

Runaways: Although rare, every now and then a dog would get spooked and run off, or just simply follow a scent into the bushes and disappear. This was the most helpless feeling on the job and the sense of responsibility that would sink in that we may have lost a client's best pal was overwhelming. I am pleased to say that in the more then 10 years I was in business every dog was recovered.

Attacks: I can't count on all my fingers the number of times a pedestrian's dog attacked one of my dogs, and a few times I had one of my client's dogs attack. Wow, what a stressful situation and fortunately most cases ended with only a small loss of fur but some did require Veterinary care.

Unexpected injuries: The first injury I experienced was in my first month of business when out in the woods with a group of dogs. I was about 30 minutes from my car and my own dog sliced his abdomen the entire way across on a stick. Over the years other injuries ranged from minor cuts and dog bites to a spontaneous burst spleen, a dog hit by a car, and another impaled in the chest with a tree. Now these were not fun situations! Training and quick thinking on your toes are important to pull through these kinds of situations. Clients expect nothing less then the best care for their animals by their pet care provider.

So, why did I do it for more then 10 years you ask? The answer is simple. We visited hundreds of animals every week and the above situations, while stressful, were far and few between. There were many days filled with huge slurps, wagging tails, and kitty "headbutts". And thankfully, due to experience and training, we were able to get to our visits and handle any emergencies that arose.

If you are considering a career in the pet care industry, Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid offers Pet First Aid training and mentoring on business startup. We would love to hear from you and share our experiences! Visit us at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Instructor Profile: Georgina Bradley of DogStars Animal Training and Talent Agency: Greater Vancouver, BC

Meet Georgina Bradley – Owner of DogStars Animal Training and Talent Agency. Georgina recently became a Walks ‘N’ Wags First Aid Instructor. She offers the informative program for students of her DogStars professional trainers program that runs twice a year in Greater Vancouver, BC. Georgina draws from over 25 years of animal experience, consisting of an extensive background in veterinary care and animal training expertise. A special part of Georgina’s skills includes training animals for film and TV. With sometimes remote locations and unique venues, having the first aid skills for animals available is an asset. Georgina also offers the Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid program outside of DogStars professional trainers program. She has partnered with other pet service providers such as Bosley’s Pet Food Store in New Westminster, BC and is offering an upcoming public class at DogGone Beautiful in Cloverdale, BC on Sept 25, 2011. During Georgina’s pet first aid programs she incorporates true life examples and personal experiences to support the material presented. I have known Georgina for many years and can confidently attest to that you will enjoy her energy, humour, and wealth of knowledge. You can reach Georgina @ or email directly @

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't have supplies when you need them? Get creative!

I love hearing success stories that stem out of Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid Courses.

Today I received an email from our Ajax, ON Instructor Lynda Kitson. She had found a large lost dog and was not easily able to lure it into her vehicle. Here is her story of innovation and quick thinking:

"I had an interesting situation early last week. I was on my way home from a doctor’s appt and on the last part of my trip, I rounded the blind corner and right next to the railway tracks 100 feet in front of me was a large white dog with no collar. She wasn’t injured, but was in a very dangerous spot. I called my husband and asked him to bring me a collar, leash and tons of treats. I finally got her to come to me and stay with me until my husband arrived. She was very scared and cowered when we tried to put the collar and leash on her. There was no way she was going to go into my car willingly and though she showed no signs of aggression, I knew because she was scared, she could turn on my husband if he tried to lift her in (she weighed 80 lbs). Unfortunately my car first aid kit was sitting at home because I wanted to check its contents before next weeks class, so I had no muzzle. I thought to myself “think Lynda, what else can you use to make a muzzle?” Then I saw it, cloth shopping bags! I have at least 10 of them in my car all the time for when I go shopping. So I grabbed a couple of them, tore off the handles, tied them together, and had my mouth tie! Another story to share at my next class!"

The lovely dog you see here has been cared for by Lynda's Vet clinic for the past week. If she is not claimed by tomorrow she will go up for adoption. One of the possible new homes...Lynda of course!

Share your stories with me by emailing me at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Instructor Profile: Louise Yates of K-Lane Kennels in Regina, SK

Louise Yates is Saskatchewan's first and most-experienced Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid course provider. Since 2002, she has been offering public classes at the Regina Humane Society. She loves teaching because it's a great way to stay on top of the latest thinking in pet care, and meet other animal lovers in her community.

Louise and her husband Dan run K-Lane Kennels in Kronau, Saskatchewan. She loves dogs - she's a full member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, President of the Regina Humane Society, and regular dog blogger. When people enroll in Louise's classes, they can feel good knowing that they're also helping homeless animals. Louise's registration proceeds go towards the Regina Humane Society in the way of free enrollment for their employees and cash donations.

Louise has also been a great source of support to the continous update of the Walks 'N' Wags program over the years. She is a true gift to the Walks 'N' Wags team of Instructors.

Louise's next course at the Regina Humane Society is November 4 & 5, 2011. You can reach Louise at or>

Monday, June 27, 2011

Walks 'N' Wags stay at Summit Lodge in Whistler, BC

This past weekend staff dog Buddy and I made the beautiful trek from Vancouver to Whistler, BC to offer a Pet First Aid course. The course was kindly hosted by Spoil Your Pet Services and Whistler's Animal Shelter (WAG).

Buddy and I had arranged accomodation at The Summit Lodge & Spa in Whistler, BC. I have to say, they were a pleasure to deal with from the get-go. I easily made my reservation by phone and received a final confirmation shortly before my arrival.

When we got to the hotel we filled out a short and straight-forward dog waiver. Buddy was presented with a dog bowl, treat, and a poop bag to encourage him to clean up after himself. He also received a list of dog friendly places to visit along with some reputable businesses to call if he needed a dog walker or Veterinarian.

We headed up the elevator and picked up a free newspaper on the way to our room. The room was both clean and comfortable. Buddy gave it 2 paws up!

After settling in, we went downstairs to find that Buddy had received a warm welcome on the visiting "dog board" by the front desk. What a thoughtful and unique idea! It was obvious to me that the Summit really does love dogs.

Heading out on foot, we were surprised to find that we could quickly reach both Whistler village and the upper village in just a few minutes. The Summit is in a great location! We found the businesses and locals in Whistler to be very dog-friendly and Buddy thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our trip.

The next day Buddy and I taught our Pet First Aid course at WAG. After a rewarding day at work in class, we had a hot tub at the Summit (well I did, Buddy wasn't allowed in of course). We then spent our last day in Whistler visiting the Farmer's market before heading back home to the city.

Thanks to Whistler, Spoil Your Pet Services, WAG, and Summit Lodge for seeing value in pets and in Pet First Aid and safety. Buddy and I will be back!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fun Times at Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid

What a fun weekend it was at Walks 'N' Wags. We had Instructors teaching in Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa. I was here teaching in Vancouver this weekend.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of completing a course with all of the owners of the three Bow Wow Haus locations (West End, Kitsilano, and West Broadway) in Vancouver along with their colleagues from Confident Canine Obedience and AKA-K9. Many thanks to Toby and Patrick for hosting and to Suji for organizing! Check out Bow Wow Haus for your quality pet care and pet supply needs at On Sunday I had a great public class, also in Vancouver.

The class was filled with keen pet care professionals including Happy Dogs Grooming, Fido Frontier Dog training, Tisol Pet Supplies, and Urban Dog Ranch. It was a lively weekend and I'm so pleased to have so many more participants trained in Pet First Aid across the country. If you are interested in attending a Pet First Aid course, or organizing a private course, please check out our web site at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid Expansion

Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid is Canada's longest standing Pet First Aid program. We have offered our program for almost 2 decades and strongly feel that it stands above the rest.

In the past year, we have expanded, offering our program to persons in across Canada, part of the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other International destinations. Our program is also offered as part of the curriculum in many pet-related educational institutions.

We would like to train Instructors to bring our program to a number of other Canadian and International desinations. If you are passionate about animal health and live in the following areas (or any other area for that matter), please contact us for information:

The Maritimes, Canada
All parts of Northern Canada
Manitoba, Canada
Quebec, Canada (program only available in English)
Any part of the U.S.A. or any other International Destination

In order to become an Instructor, one first needs to complete the Pet First Aid program; this can be done in person in many Vancouver, BC locations or completed via Distance Learning. A mark of 84% is required to apply for the Instructor course. Persons who may wish to apply include: dog walkers, cat sitters, pet shop owners, shelter staff, groomers, nurses, fire fighters, human first aid instructors, and anyone else from the pet or health industry.

The Instructor course is being held in Vancouver, BC May 7/8, 2011 and also September 24/25, 2011 in Calgary, AB Canada. Enrollment is currently under way for the Instructor Courses and is limited to 6 persons per class.

Why choose Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid?

1. Our program is current, and extremely comprehensive (10 hours!). Our 2011 Pet First Aid manual edition is full of recent updates after a 2010 review by our Veterinarian panel
2. We teach to both dog and cat owners
3. Our classes involve practice with pre-screened live wiggly dogs for a more realistic experience
4. Our program is Internationally recognized. Participants will receive contining education credits if they are a CCPDT or IAABC member.
5. We are not a franchise, meaning there is not a significant startup cost to become an Instructor
6. Last but not least, our courses are informative, fun, and not-at-all intimidating!

If you would like to learn more about Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid, please visit our web site at

We look forward to hearing from you and moving ahead with our expansion.

Lisa Wagner
Operations Director
Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid

Monday, January 10, 2011

Walks 'N' Wags teams up with Pawsitively Pets for Kids Camp

Last summer, Walks 'N' Wags had the pleasure of working together with Pawsitively Pets for Kids Camp (PPKC) in Toronto, Ontario.

PPKC offers a unique daycamp experience for pet-loving kids.

During summer camps, kids from ages 5 to 16 learn everything from the basics of how to handle and care for a pets, to taking tours of shelters and Veterinary clinics. These learning experiences are combined with fun pet-related arts and craft. The older kids also earn a Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid Certificate as part of their camp experience.

In the winter, and during March break, PPKC offers other unique programs such as Safari Zoo Camp and even Dog Sledding!

PPKC has planned expansion into Ottawa, Ontario and Vancouver, BC for summer 2011. Check them out at: if you are looking for some educational summer fun for your kids.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Walks 'N' Wags upcoming Pet First Aid course dates: Vancouver area

Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid's next Vancouver area Pet First Aid courses will be:

January 9, 2011: Pitt Meadows
January 16, 2011: Vancouver
January 22/23, 2011: Victoria
...February 6, 2011: Surrey
February 19, 2011: Richmond
February 27, 2011: North Burnaby

We also have many upcoming dates available in other Canadian cities. Contact us at or 604-809-9247 for more info.