Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Instructor Profile: Jennifer Blackman of Wag Canine Recreation Centre

Jennifer Blackman first contacted us by phone a few years ago about our distance learning programs. We had a great chat about the possibility of bringing Walks 'N' Wags to Nova Scotia and the rest is history!

Here is Jennifer's story:

From Amherst Nova Scotia, Jennifer Blackman has always been passionate about pets. Her house has been home to dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and rabbits. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology where she developed an interest in ethology and learning theory. From there it was off to Japan for four years to teach English.

Then a few years after returning to Canada Jennifer moved with her husband and daughter to the Northwest Territories. This is where her interest in pet first aid started. Living in a remote community where the vet only came to town once every 6 weeks, and having three dogs, necessitated that she educate herself to be better prepared in an emergency. During her time in the North she also volunteered with the local SPCA and spent one year as president. That meant she also wanted to be prepared to assist the shelter animals if need be.

Upon returning to Nova Scotia, Jennifer noticed a lack of opportunities for dog owners in her town and opened Wag Canine Recreation Centre in 2012. Part of her business plan involved offering educational opportunities to pet owners in the form of seminars and courses. She completed her own Walks ‘N’ Wag Pet First Aid certification to protect her clients and her instructor certification in 2014. Jennifer now teaches pet owners and pet professionals in Amherst and Halifax NS twice a year and is working on securing a regular venue on Prince Edward Island.

Jennifer says the best part about teaching Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid is having participants finish the course feeling like they can handle anything. They come away from the program with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle any emergency situation which could mean the difference between life and death for an injured pet.

We couldn't be happier to have Jennifer teaching both our Pet First Aid and our OFF THE GRID programs. She is kind, thoughtful, detail-oriented and committed to quality. Nova Scotians are lucky to have her. And so are we!

For more information about Jennifer's course dates and other locations please visit our web site.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pet Health Insurance: Tux's Story.

**Disclaimer: The writer (Lisa Wagner) and Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid do not currently have professional affiliation with any of the Pet Insurance companies listed in this Blog post. We were also not compensated in any way for this post.**


11 days ago, our healthy, active 13 year old Chihuahua/Boston Terrier X "Tux" seemed to have a sore back. Little did we know that by the next morning he'd be paralyzed.

Tux had experienced back pain a couple of times before when jumping/landing wrong off of the bed or couch. He'd stand kind of hunched over and look generally upset. After a day or two of rest he'd be back to normal. To ensure Tux's comfort, we bought him some doggie stairs that seemed to do the trick...but we were wrong.

Tux was acting like his back was bugging him again. We were heading away for a long weekend getaway (with Tux) and decided to pop into the Vet first for a check up. The Vet completed a physical exam and it was decided that we'd give Tux pain meds and anti-inflammatories and watch him for the long weekend. We drove the 5 hours to the cabin that evening as planned. Tux was a little wobbly on arrival but we assumed it was the drugs (that was a possible side effect). He peed and went inside to bed.

The next morning, when we woke up Tux could not feel his hind end. At all. We tried pinching his feet and he felt nothing. Zero. He also wasn't peeing and we were worried. We piled back into the car and made the 5 hour trek back to Animal Emergency. After a visit with a Neurologist, a CT and an MRI, it was confirmed that Tux had a herniated (slipped) disc. It was pushing on his spinal cord and causing paralysis.


A. Wait and see.

This would mean keeping Tux confined to bed rest and on medication. Because he couldn't feel even the deepest of pain the chances of him walking again were slim to none.
Future cost: minimal (after already paying for CT/MRI and exam fees).

B. Immediate surgery.

This would give him a 50/50 chance of walking again.
Future cost: several thousand dollars (after already paying for CT/MRI and exam fees).


Immediate surgery. No hesitation.


1. Our dog is our baby and we would do anything for him.
2. Tux is a very "young" 13 years of age. He hikes regularly, is the perfect weight, and has very healthy vitals.
3. 50/50 chance of walking again is far better than almost zero.
4. We knew our butts were covered financially by Tux's pet insurance. While the insurance wouldn't cover all costs, it would certainly take a huge bit out of the total.

Tux's incision.

The day Tux came home.


Tux is 9 days post-operation and is doing great. He's back at home with us and starting to regain feeling in his tail and legs.

While Tux is certainly not walking, at his most recent Veterinary appointment, the Vet said "He's way past the 50/50 point now". He'll start physical therapy tomorrow and get his stitches out in 3 days. We feel very hopeful that with time, patience, and lots of rehabilitation, Tux will make an excellent recovery and walk again.

As for the cost, we're in for about $2000 of the $7000 that has been spent so far. Within the $2000 is our (self-chosen) $750 deductible, exam fees, tax, and the 10% that we are responsible for as per our Insurance agreement. Moving forward all future care related to this injury we will only pay 10% of.

Sunshine therapy is good for a dog's soul.

Pee pads are over-rated!

Learning how to use his back legs again.


• Being Prepared Alleviates Anxiety and Mental Anguish
Not having to consider finances when making medical decisions for one’s pet allows one to focus on the task at hand: getting your pet better.

• Peace of mind
You won’t always be worried about that “what if something happens to our pet…” factor.

• You won’t go bankrupt
If you’re like me, you might have multiple pets! Budgeting for one monthly premium is a lot easier than coming up with many thousands of $$$$ in an emergency. Even if you have a "pet bank account" you'd likely not keep many thousands in it would you?

• You won’t avoid Vet visits
We hear stories all the time from people who avoid the Vet unless their pet is really sick. They tell us it's because they “never get out of there without spending $1000”. Insurance will alleviate this concern and allow you to go to your pet's regularly scheduled Veterinary checkups without fear of upcoming costs.

• Your pet might live longer!
Your pet having regular access to needed Veterinary care may allow him/her to stick around with you longer! Who wouldn’t want that?


• Pre-existing conditions are not usually covered.
Get around this by signing your pet up for insurance IMMEDIATELY upon adoption. Case in point: we adopted our senior dog Dominic in 2015 and signed him up for insurance immediately. 4.5 months after his arrival he become gravely ill. $7500 of emergency care later he sadly passed away. And the insurer came through.

• No plan is created equal.
Do your homework. Do you want to choose your own deductible? Do you want coverage only for emergencies or do you also want dental coverage etc.? You’ll need to shop around a little to find the right package for you.

• Only dogs and cats are covered.
Sorry to those with pocket pets. Hopefully someone comes up with a plan for you soon!


1. Don't assume a young pet won't fall ill.

All you have to do is go to Google or Go Fund Me and you'll find 1000's of cases of young pets who have become injured or sick. While I was at critical care with Tux last week, I spoke to a man with a pup who was so sick he wasn't sure if he'd survive. He was in for some megabucks and didn't have insurance. He told me he wished that he'd signed up.

2. Don't assume an old pet can't be insured.

We adopted Tux when he was 10 years old. His insurance company gladly accepted him and has been wonderful. Again, not all companies are created equal. Do your homework and choose the best one for you.

3. Don't cancel your insurance!!!

You might sign up for pet insurance and as time passes, feel like you are pissing away your money. For example, you might pay in for 3 years and have no claims at all. You are starting to think “What a waste of money…” and consider cancelling the insurance.
Do the math on the premiums you have paid in. Now imagine if next month, or next year your pet is attacked, gets cancer, has an unforeseen medical condition like Tux and needs $10,000+ worth of treatment. You'll be kicking yourself for giving up on the plan. Stick it out. If you've chosen your insurance wisely and are dealing with a good company you'll be thankful.



PC Financial
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
Nationwide Pet Insurance (USA only)
ASPCA Pet Insurance (USA only)
OSPCA (Canada only)
Pets Plus Us (Canada only)
CAA (Canada only)

*The above Insurance listing information is to the best of our knowledge accurate as of today's date. If you notice any errors please notify us immediately so we can rectify.*


It's still early days for our Tux in his recovery. We are hopeful and are providing him with a fighting chance.

If you are interested in following Tux's journey, please visit us on Instagram or on Lisa's public Facebook Blog.

Thanks for reading and may your pets live long, happy, and healthy lives!

About the author:
Lisa Wagner is Operations Director of Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid.
Reach Lisa directly via

Monday, August 29, 2016

CALENDAR CONTEST: Helping Pets in Need

Calendar Contest: Helping Pets in Need!

Walks 'N' Wags is looking to hear from our students! We'd like high resolution photos of your demo dogs (or cats) participating in a Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid for our 1st edition 2017 calendar.


1. Tag a friend on our Facebook or Instagram pages (in the contest post) telling them why you took the Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid program

2. Email your favorite high resolution photo of your pet attending Walks 'N' Wags class to and be sure to mention his/her name, age, and location you attended class.

3. Submissions will be accepted until September 30, 2016.

4. Enter as many times as you like but remember you must tag a friend on Facebook or Instagram accompanying each entry.

5. 12 photo entries will be chosen by our team. Each winner will receive one full page feature in our 2017 calendar and will receive a free copy of the calendar in the mail.

6. Once we have sold all 150 calendars, we will draw 1 of the 12 winner's names randomly. You'll choose a registered Canadian pet charity and we'll make a $500 CAD donation to them!

7. Walks 'N' Wags Instructors and student instructors are exempt from this contest.

8. Winners will be announced on our social media pages and will be emailed week of October 3rd.


Support pets in need by ordering your 2017 calendar today! We're only ordering 150 calendars as this is our first try at this endeavor.

Cost in Canada is $20.00 + 2.95 shipping + applicable taxes for your area. Earlybird price: Save $2.00 for orders placed by September 30, 2016. Contact us for international quotes.

Pre-order now by sending payment via E-transfer or Paypal to

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Helping Fort McMurray: Our Instructors Are A Rare 'Breed' of Human

As a pet safety-conscious company, we are always on alert when disaster strikes. However, when a wildfire caused evacuation of the entire Fort McMurray population, it struck a chord closer to home. One of Walks 'N' Wags' own, Instructor Jennifer Allen from Paw Prince Pet Services, was one of the evacuees.

We immediately reached out to Jennifer to confirm that she had been able to exit safely. We heard back from her that she was on the road and had a safe but temporary place to stay in Edmonton. We've since made a donation to the Canadian Red Cross and offered Jennifer any support that we can provide her.

We have many Instructors in Alberta and reached out to them to see what was happening there with the relief efforts. We were not-so-surprised to learn that every one of them was doing something to help! We are so proud of our Instructor community that we wanted to share some of their stories with you, in hopes that it may inspire someone else to lend a hand if they aren't sure how.

Jessica Malenchak, Leduc AB

Jessica and her employer, Four Paws, in co-operation with a group called Courageous Companions, co-ordinated the intake of more than 40 animals. The groups offered pet food and other needed pet supplies. For Paws also offered free bathing services & discounted grooms to any of the Fort McMurray pets who needed it. Last, For Paws has been collecting grooming equipment to donate to any Fort McMurray groomers who might need replacement items.

Rakell Laventure, Airdrie AB

Rakell sent 50 cards to firefighters and first responders to thank them for a job well done.

She collected 4 truck loads of goodies, from hygiene products, clothing, no perishable food items, baby items, and of course pet items. She also donated 17 crates from clients and family and several of her own. Her own pets Milo and COCO helped.

She also has a young lady staying with her until she figures out where she is going. She is supposed to start school in Fort McMurray soon.

Alecia Muirhead, Edmonton AB

Alecia and her employer, Sadie's K9 Stay & Play did a crate, food, and supply drive when the animals started arriving to Edmonton. They were blown away by the response!

Leah Daoust, Tofield AB

Leah has helped extensively in many areas over the past couple of weeks. Here is a list of some of her endeavors:

Purchased and donated supplies to Hastings Lake Animal Hospital who then drove north to deliver them to a rescue group.
Volunteered at one of the hangars at the Edmonton International Airport sorting and packing mountains of donations for evacuees.
Organized free fun dog classes for evacuees. Visited and volunteered with some of the evacuated pets that are being cared for and housed at Hastings Lake Animal Hospital. Made monetary donations to the Canadian Red Cross, Alberta SPCA, and Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton.

Not all of our Instructors took photos, but it's important to mention the other great things they did with their time.

Katie Ayres, Calgary AB: traveled to Edmonton with the Alberta spay neuter task force and volunteered at the animal evacuation centre

Heather Rankin, Dublin Ireland: sent the Canadian Red Cross a "healthy donation"

Simone Krebser, Penticton BC is donating 5% of her training proceeds of May 2016 to the Edmonton Humane Society

Jess Eustace, Canmore AB: Jess is on maternity leave; however, she still gave a cash donation, donated crates and other pet items. She also went through her baby items that were no longer needed and donated those. Jess's employer (Fish Creek 24 Hour Pet Hospital) sent staff to Edmonton to triage pets that were coming in

Pam Pennington, Red Deer AB: Her employer (Dog & Cat Hospital) is offering medical care and boarding free of charge to Fort McMurray residents.

Kirbi Bishop, Lloydminster AB: Donated items such as a kennel, dog food, cat food, and leashes.

Shawna Magnan, Edmonton AB: Shawna has been offering daycare and boarding for dogs at no charge at her dog daycare K9 Club.

Calgary Instructors Ellis van Schuur and Krista DeCarle are both donating partial proceeds from their course registration fees to charities supporting Fort McMurray. Krista's family also offered boarding for horses and prepared pre-cooked meals for evacuees. Krista owns a pet boarding business and provided free/discounted care to first responder clients who left to help fight the fires.

Last but not least, there is our currently displaced Fort McMurray Instructor Jennifer Allen. Despite being an evacuee and being able to use help herself, Jennifer has been donating her time to help others.

Jennifer donated her time "meeting people at the evacuation centre and Salvation Army to give out the rest of my pet first aid kits. I've been taking Fort Mac residents to northlands from the airport and showing them apartments that offer temporary residency for free." Talk about going WAY above and beyond Jennifer!!!

Sometimes people ask us what is unique about our company. I've always sincerely believed that our Instructors are a rare 'breed' of human. Now I firmly know that with 100% certainty.

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

A few places to donate in support of Fort McMurray include:

Canadian Red Cross
Edmonton Humane Society
Calgary Humane Society
Alberta Animal Rescue Crew
Second Chance Animal Rescue Society
Alberta SPCA
Fort McMurray SPCA
Salvation Army

*If we have missed a worthy organization, please email us at with details*

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Instructor Profile: Simone Krebser of K9 Possible

Okanagan BC Instructor Simone Krebser of K9 Possible has been an important part of the Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid family for several years. Initially living on Canada's east coast, Simone originally came to us as a Distance Learning student.

Here's Simone's story:

"My name is Simone Krebser and I currently live in Penticton in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia with my two dogs.

I grew up in Switzerland and eventually settled in Canada in 2011 where I finally could pursue my passion through a career with animals. I’m now a professional dog trainer, Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid Instructor and as a well a proud part time office assistant of Walks ‘N’ Wags!

I grew up with all different kind of animals including: dogs, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, gerbils just to name a few. Since I was little I dreamed of working with animals to some degree but life took me to different career paths. This included an education in business and office administration, working in the hospitality industry and also a pet shop. Eventually I realized that there will be nothing else that will really make me happy other than having animals around me day in and out. All these different experiences built the important foundation for the skill set I require in my current career.

Arriving in Canada I knew it was time to follow my dreams and dig deeper into what I really wanted in life and this was to help animals live a better life in some kind of way.

I have always had that little knack for teaching people and as well dogs…both just seemed natural to me. I understood that if I want animals to live a better life I need to educate their people, there was no way around it.

In 2013 I started to professionally train dogs (first in Nova Scotia before I settled in BC in 2014). But before I felt confident to dive into this career, I wanted to prepare my self with some other foundation and I found Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid. I completed a Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid course in 2012 and quickly realized how this will not only enhance the quality of life of my own pets but also will give peace of mind to my future clients knowing they can trust me with their pets.

Once I started my career as a professional dog trainer I felt there was more that I could do than just help people enjoying their dogs more by having better behaved companions. While training is one step to keeping your dog safe, there is so much more. I was super impressed on how thorough the Walks ‘N’ Wags program was and how it boosted my confidence in being prepared for any pet emergency that I felt the need to wanting to share this with others.

In 2014 I completed my Instructor certification and started sharing this great experience with others. What I love about teaching the Walks ‘N’ Wags program is that I share my knowledge with people that are just as passionate about their pets and clients as I am. All the students are thrilled to attend the course and learn these skills.

Knowing the fact that I might have helped saving a pet’s life by sharing my knowledge, but also have given the person that has helped to safe or improve a pets life with what they have learned in the course a feeling of peace of mind is very gratifying to me."

Simone's sincere dedication to helping animals shines in her communications with people and with her teaching. We feel so fortunate to have Simone as part of Walks 'N' Wags!

If you would like to learn more about courses offered in BC's Okanagan and Kootenays, please visit the K9 Possible WEB SITE. You can also find other Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid course dates HERE.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Introducing: OFF THE GRID

Over the years, we've had many students ask us if we offer further educational programs outside of Walks 'N' Wags' Pet First Aid course. We always take student feedback into consideration and entered discussions regarding what possible curriculum to offer.

At about the same time, our family personally invested in a remote cabin. While spending time there, we learned of dogs injured in fights, hit by cars, cats suffering from frostbite, and other injuries the community's animals faced. And all without access to Veterinary care. The community is several hours from the nearest Veterinary clinic and 5-6 hours from a Veterinary emergency clinic.

The reality is that many people not only live in rural communities, but also vacation in them. People take their dogs hiking, camping, swimming in remote lakes, join fishing expeditions, and more in the summer months. In the winter months, pets continue to hike, snowshoe, and may participate in skijoring or other outdoor activities. While these pet families may live in an urban area, a Veterinarian isn't readily accessed while on an outdoor adventure! This was the inspiration for OFF THE GRID.

Designed for successful, up-to-date graduates of Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid program, OFF THE GRID is designed to help adventurous humans prepare in advance for outdoor adventures with their pets. And then have a bit more "know how" if an emergency does arise.

OFF THE GRID is a 3 hour program and curriculum includes:

- Trip Planning

- Equipment Improvisation

- Prolonged Patient Care

- Advanced shock

- Pain management

- Poisoning

- Evacuation

Upon successful completion, participants will earn an OFF THE GRID Certificate and digital "Certified" logo.

We're very excited to roll out this exciting new program. Several of our Instructors have earned their OFF THE GRID Instructor designation, while others are currently working hard on it.

Are you interested in attending an OFF THE GRID class? Register HERE.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Update To SAINTS Rescue From Tux

Today is the 3rd anniversary of our Tux's adoption from SAINTS Rescue. Each year we create an update to send to SAINTS. We also share with the public in hopes people will be consider adoption - especially senior adoption. Here is Tux's letter:


2015 was overall a great year. But I had some losses this year too and it was tough. I'm looking forward to sharing my 3rd year with my forever family with you.

On January 2, 2015, my big brother Buddy passed away. In 2 years, we spent a lot of time together doing all sorts of fun things.

Buddy was almost 17 years old and it was a really tough for all of us.

After Buddy passed away I wasn't completely alone. I still had my cats Kitty and Kermit. I have to admit, cats aren't my favorite animal on earth but they did their best to keep me company.

Shortly after Buddy passed away, Lisa went away to Thailand to volunteer at Soi Dog Foundation. While she was there, she fell in love with another senior named Dominic. In the Spring, he joined our family.

We did all sorts of fun things in 2015. One of my favorites is walking and hiking. I think I've pounded the dirt and pavement more in the past 3 years then I did in my previous 10! I always make sure to have a good rest at the end. I am 13 years old now afterall.

In the summer, we went camping several times too. We visit our family in the mountains several times each year and I just love it. Fresh air, clean water, and lots of fun hiking paths. It's the best.

Of course, over the summer I came to visit SAINTS at the Open House. Wow, was it ever nice to see my second family there. Jenn took a few photos of me while I was there. I couldn't help but dance for her :).

Since I've met my weight loss goals, every now and then I get a special treat. Sometimes I just help myself...but that's another story that I will keep to myself.

Unfortunately at the end of the summer, my new brother Dominic fell unexpectedly ill and passed away. It was a shock to us all and I still really miss him. We made a good team.

On a happier note, of course throughout the year I taught Pet First Aid classes & workshops to both kids and adults. I have a pretty cool job and I am quite well paid. Here is a photo and if you want to see more details, I have a separate Blog post HERE.

In October I did a Halloween contest photo shoot for my work. I think I make a most excellent super hero :). In fact, an illustration was made of me as one too!

Also in October I got a new rescue brother. He kind of looks like me and we get along really well. He's a shy boy and I think it helps having me around to protect him.

Anyways, just wanted to let you know that life is good. Really good. And once again it's because of you at SAINTS. You gave me a chance when others might not have. And you found me the right family.

Forever a SAINT!

~ Love Tux (formerly Joey)