Friday, October 30, 2009

A tribute to Cody: a Golden Boy

Last night Cody peacefully passed away after a two week struggle with cancer. He still hiked with us about two weeks ago and suddenly he got very ill. Cody spend weeks with us when his daddy was away on business and he and his brother had become part of our family.
Cody will be terribly missed. He was one of those dogs that came in and stole our hearts in a beat. Cody will always be remembered.
We will always remember our pets and those of our clients:
Sweet dreams Cody!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another faire and dog haning out of car

Yesterday I didn't even turn on my laptop. I got up at 6 am and sat down for the first time at 9 pm. I was invited to Miasole, a growing solar company, based in Santa Clara: I met a lot of other businesses and it was great to be part of this faire. Most businesses do these faires once or twice a week. I started to love my job even more! I was sitting there and realized that these people get paid to be at faires like these on a weekly basis. I get paid to hike and spoil pets.

On my home I met this dog owner, whose dog was litteraly "hanging" out of the window. I took the picture with my phone, therefore the quality is not that great. I'm not sure the dog thought it was that great after they hit 40 miles an hour. I will not share my comment but believe me ... my mouth stood wide open for a long time!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunnyvale Pet Parade and Faire

Happy Pet Parade and Faire!
Our booth was popular especially due to our foster puppies!

Sunnyvale Pet Parade and Faire was a great success. We had fun. I want to thank all my "competitors": Auntie M Pet Care, K9 Bed and Bones, Sit 'n' Stay, Merry Puppins, P.E.T.S. and last, but not least!, Pet Star Services! It is fantastic to have such a great group of people working together and on top of that having so much fun.

Pawsitively Purrfect!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Belle and Koda

Belle is back and we are also fostering one of her deaf sons: Koda. Koda is a cute lil' guy. You cannot even notice he doesn't hear a thing. Adventurous, happy lil' fella. He sleeps in a crate in our bedroom. He came in very sick. Throwing up and diarrhea. Not good!

After two days he started feeling much better. That is when we realized that Koda needed a bit more work. The beginning of separation anxiety. He couldn't be alone one second. Communicating with a dog that hears nothing wasn't much of a challenge. Dogs read body language! Most of the times they miss our vocal instruction but they follow our gestures better. Craig Norman, Animal Behaviorist at the San Jose Animal Shelter, once said to me: the dogs have figured you out before you even enter their kennel. That sentence turned out so true. We have yet to figure them out but they have figured us out. How? Body language.

I have a cute picture of Koda. The kids renamed him from GrayJoy to Koda. A deaf Catahoula Leopard Dog. I simply love this breed. Smart, intelligent and quick learners. Did I tell you that one of Jeff's colleagues has 11 of these wonderful dogs ....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Preparing for the big storm

The Storm is coming!

The National Weather Service send me an overview of the weather to be expected the next few days. It didn't really sound too great. What do you think? ... heavy rain and potentially high winds expected to acoompany significant storm to hit late Monday into early Wednesday ... the origins of this storm are from a western pacific typhoon called melor that hit Japan a few days ago ....

Well, I could go on for a bit more but I am actually looking forward to this weather. It will be a bit more work to clean up the dogs after the hike but can you imagine just us being out there with the dogs. I'm just done cleaning up outside. Everything is taken down (canopes, umbrellas, etc. and tarp covering what may need some extra protection. I have 6 maybe 7 dogs tomorrow alone so that will be two hikes in the rain and mud. The dogs love this weather too and the warm bath and heated dog area in our house are always welcomed after a hike in the rain.

Well, if I find the time to write more I will. I'm getting my raingear out for tomorrow. Shoes - check, pants - check, jacket - check. Okay. Ready to go!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'd love to blog more but time is not on my side. Can the day just have 48 instead of 24 hours? Please?! The K9 Club took off. It is incredible how fast we grew. I did not expect that. I had hoped to have at least 30 members by December and now we have 51 active hiking members, 4 who are members but still need to sign up with 45% of the 51 are families. Our word of mouth is going fast and it is great how enthousiastic our members are. New hiking trails are being explored or shared.
In the meantime The Dog Hikers hasn't slowed down either. Most of our clients have booked more hikes in between and therefore I have been cautious advertising more. We are slowly hitting the limit of the amount of hikes we can do.
I have a great team of hikers and a great team of pet sitters that provide for the services I cannot provide for. Last but not least my fantastic clients.

Our motto:
"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so." - Mahatma Gandhi
has truly worked for us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bark in the Park

Bark in the Park
was an incredible success! We had fun! Our booth was continuously filled with people and we went through our fliers (+/- 300) very fast. I have to do a count but I think 750 business cards went out as well. Incredible!!!! We got our first real break around 4 pm. Not bad!
I want to thank Jeff, Djuka, Marion, Sue and Margot for being at the booth and promoting the club. I also want to thank Jason of for being there! Another big THANK YOU! to John for all the pictures he took. He was the Bark in the Park official photographer!
It was a fun but very tiring day and it was great to meet so many other pet professionals again! We had our Los Gatos Spa neighbors again and last but not least Carla from Earthbath!
Thanks for all the goodies you gave us Carla!!! We love the new shampoo! Not only the dogs love it! Thanks for giving us all those samples! You and Earthbath rock!
I hope to get back to blogging soon. I've been so busy!!! So much to do ... so little time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My dog aggressive? No, he just wants to play!

Today we had one of those days on the trail thatmakes me realize how many people have absolutely no clue of what their dog is communicating or how they should behave around other dogs. Jeff and I were hiking 5 dogs today. One of the dogs is dog reactive. We met a woman and a man with three little dogs on the trail. The moment the little dogs approach us they are already growling. We stop and make our pack go into a sit and look at us, while we are waiting for the two and their three dogs to pass us. The man picks up one of the dogs and the woman walks directly towards us. At the end of her leashes two terriers that show no sign of peaceful intentions towards our pack of five.

One of our dogs gets out of a sit. Her hackles are up and she clearly responds to the aggressive intentions of the other two little dogs. The woman still makes no intention to move over and pass us at a distance. Her dogs start growling more, their bodies are stiff, the dogs are walking on their toes, their ears are pointed forward and their little tails are straight up in the air. She starts laughing as she approaches and I’m clearly working with Lola, trying to calm her down and get her back into a sit. Still totally oblivious of what she was causing she is about 4 yards away from me when she says: “Yeah, they sometimes act this way.” And exactly at that moment I turn and face her. I asked her friendly: Please just pass us and keep control of your dogs. Totally shocked by my request she barely manages to pass us. “they are not aggressive”. And the only thing that came out of my mouth was: “that is not what they were communicating to the other dogs.”

We walked on. The woman on the trail today had no clue what was going on. Even worse, she was showing bad dog ownership. We clearly made our dogs sit off the side of the trail. We clearly showed no intention to have to dogs interact. Her dogs showed no peaceful intention and while 4 of the 5 dogs patiently looked at us and waited for a command, one of our dogs clearly wanted to react to the situation.

Know your dog’s language. Learn it. It is not that hard. I will focus on basic dog body language on our K9Consultant site. I just have to finish the drawings to make it clearer but once I have that done I’ll post it. Just need more hours during the day. As always!
Life is good!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Doggie Pool Party

The best thing is a doggie pool party!
6 dogs and 5 happy humans!
Bear learned to jump into the water, Ani got along with everyone and even started to engage in a "I'll take your toy away with Lola". Bear loved his new blue ball, Chewie went diving, Lola and Bear constantly hung out together and Buster went into the pool as well. Buster will be getting his own pool soon. Maybe we'll have another pool party soon!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Heat is On

One of our biggest challenges is hiking in the heat. Dogs just don't do well when the heat is on! Although dogs have sweat glands like humans, they do not use them to cool their bodies off. Dogs cool their body off by panting.

Dogs do not do well in the heat! I cannot say it often enough. During the summer we like to get our hikes in before 11 am and we don't hike when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. Being a Trail Patrol Volunteer for the Open Space District I have encountered numerous dogs with symptoms of heat stroke on the trails. When talking to the owners most never go hiking and often decide to take their 10 year old dog on a hot day for a little stroll. Believe me, I have seen and heard it all.

What happens with your dog when he is having a heat stroke?

When heat gain exceeds the body's ability to break down the heat. The high temperatures cause chemical reactions in the dog's body that break down body cells which eventually lead to dehydration and blood thickening. The strain on your dog's heart is extreme and it causes blood clotting that may result in death.

A dog's body temperature is usually between 101 - 102 F. If your dog receives a body temperature higher than that the risk of heat stroke is ineviditable. Some dogs recover from heat stroke but may have permanent damage of vital body organs.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Rapid and frantic panting, wide eyes, thick saliva, bright red tongue, vomiting, staggering and diarrhea. I've seen some dogs shake from the heat!

What do you need to do when your dog is suffering from a heat stroke?

Cool your dog off! Rinse your dog off with cool (not cold!) water to gradually reduce the heat in the body. If you have airco close by put your dog in the cool area! Place wet towels on the following areas: head, neck, belly and between the dog's legs. These are the most effective areas to help cool down a dog. Cooling to fast and/or too much can cause more problems.

Dog breeds with shorter snouts like boxers due much worse in the heat. I have noticed that these breeds have a much harder time cooling their bodies off.

What to do with your dog on a hot day?
Doggie pool! Dogs love to play with water. I attached a picture of Lola and Barley playing in the pool. Due to the dirt the water turned muddy and the dogs rolled in the mud after that. They had a blast and I ended up bathing them before they went home!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Secret of my success

Another part of my success is helping others. I’ve helped numerous other pet care businesses to deal with marketing, pr and everything else that comes with running your own business. All pet care providers love animals. It does always cracks me up when I see an advertisement: “we love dogs and cats”. Yeah, why would you otherwise be in the business? But pure for the love of dogs and cats … it will not help you run a successful business. Absolutely not.

Working in the pet care industry is a very tough job. I currently work 12 hour days and physically it is starting to be a challenge. I’m in good shape but I can feel it. I’m not 20 years old anymore! A lot of people get into thinking it will be easy money. Believe me it is not. $25 for a 30 minute visit? Have you ever had a plumber come by your house? The pet care sector is definitely still underpaid and we are working hard to show what sets us apart from those that charge $10 an hour. Quality and knowledge.

Marketing your business is another important aspect of running your own business. Find the niche and bring the word out. I don’t spend a penny on advertisement. All word of mouth or my website. That is it. During the recession my business grew like crazy. I lost a few clients due to the economy. When the owners lost their jobs and/or moved away. That is always a very sad part for us. Loosing a client dog is like loosing one of our own. Luckily the joy of a new dog into our hiking pack helps us bear the pain of loss. Two weeks ago we had the funniest week. We signed up 3 new Aussie client dogs in one week! It was fun!

Nevertheless, I'm not giving up more secrets of how I manage my own business. I love what I do and I do what I love. I get paid to take care of people's dogs and cats and I get paid to hike. What more can I ask for????

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Secret of my Success

When I started out my dog hiking business in 2007 I wanted to do find an occupation that could keep me busy in the mornings and ensure that I could pick up my kids from school and spend the afternoon helping with homework and bringing them to their after school programs like soccer, rock climbing and gymnastics.

The idea of starting a dog hiking business I owe to one of my best friends. She told me: turn your hobby into a business. I did and I will always be grateful for her great advise!

Once I launched my business I met the harsh reality of this diverse and yet odd business sector. The level of professionalism is extremely diverse. You will meet all kind of professional and unprofessional businesses.

The unprofessional businesses have definitely help build my business. They kept me focused in every possible way. Believe me, I had days I laughed when I encountered their attempts to destroy me. They spent their energy in trying to get rid of their competitor instead of building their own business. I focused and I kept my act together and it paid off! Last year I hired 3 people simply because I was full and now I am yet again confronted with the question: expand or build up a waiting list? I’m not sure yet. I’m happy where I am at. My days are filled with work and my family. There is not a moment I have free. During my Target runs I buy the movies I missed at the theatre and now they lay unopened in our living room. I simply do not have the time to watch them.

One advice I can give to building up a successful business is to stay a professional at all times. It will pay off in the end. You simply look stupid doing stupid things. Harassing and trying to defame another business will hurt you in the end. If you claim you have issues with 6 other businesses it may not be the other businesses but possibly you that has the issues. Always post facts and not assumptions! You may be surprised that what you assumed may not be true in the end. Life is short and if you don’t make it out there take it with pride and don’t blame the other one for your mistakes. My rules in life:

3 R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for your actions.

Life is good!!!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hiking Green and launching our new website

A few months ago my daughter started redesigning her PurrfectKiddies website. It was time to redo our website as well. I loved the other website we had for The Dog Hikers but it was outdated and simply done. I had it designed about two years ago and although the design was almost what I had wanted it never gave me the feeling it was good enough for The Dog Hikers. I knew we could do better and we did.

I had learned to make a website overnight and it really wasn’t that hard. My then 9 year old daughter showed me how to do it. She is such a sweetheart! Before I knew it I was asked to design the Santa Clara County Website: and the K9OAC website: For the past few months I have been working on my Dog Hikers Website and I love the outcome!

The website totally reflects what I am and who I am. I just love it!!!! It took me a few months until I found the right design but after that everything went smoothly. I am content like a dog after a hike. JAPPY!

Going green, well, we were green to start with. We recycle about 95% of our garbage. We have one garbage bag a week with 4 people, 2 dogs and 5 cats. The rest of our bags are filled with plastic, paper and glass. It is really easy to set it up: go to Ikea and get some stackable plastic containers, mark them and start recycling. The marking is for the kids … they will still by accident put it in the wrong bin ;-).

For our hikes we use reusable water bottles that eventually can be recycled. Normal bottles cannot be recycled and stay forever in the landfill. I was also one of the first people in Saratoga that came in with reusable grocery bags. How weird they looked at me bringing my own bags. People in Saratoga I guess don’t do that. Now more and more stores are promoting the reusable bags and I’m very happy with that.

We are fixing up our house and everything we use is either recycled or eco-friendly. Recycled glass counter top, bamboo flooring, eco-friendly paint, the possibilities are numerous out there. To bring more awareness out there we decided to officially go green. I just bought a Yaris. That car is just allergic to gas stations. 1 on 36 and sometimes even better. A Prius was not an option for me. I love the environmental part until the battery! That is where it ends for me.

The Dog Hikers is hiking green. We are setting the trend! If a small business like ours can do it why not everyone else. Help us reduce your dog’s carbon paw print. It does not cost you more to go green. You just have to change your habit a bit. That is all!
Check out our new website:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Camping in Bear Country

This summer we camped in Lake Tahoe. Every night we had a Black Bear strolling through our camp. Every night the Bear got lucky when the oblivious new arrivals left their food out past dark. A sudden “Bear, Bear …” and he was at it again. A 2 year old male juvenile simply happy to fetch a pack with someone’s not eaten sandwich or a bag of chips. One night a group of pretty drunk kids chased the Bear into a tree right off our campsite. The Bear was sitting about 12 feet up in the tree looking down at these young kids. Taking pictures, throwing rocks and screaming “bad bear, bad bear.” Luckily our camp host lived right next to us and she dashed out to send everyone back home. The bear stayed in the tree for another few hours at least. I could see the reflection from his eyes as I checked on his whereabouts every 30 minutes or so. He was scared and you would think he had learned. Nope … the next day he was back on the hunt!

Here is a great link on what to do when you are in Bear Country. Brown bears (aka Grizzlies) have a different behavior than Black Bears. To me Black Bears are large raccoons. Opportunity hunters who have no clue how strong they actually are and that they would have no problem killing a human. Instead they have shown respect and keep their distance unless provoked. They just want your food and if you have no choice just give it to them. Don’t fight for your pack! It is not worth it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Diving dog

Our dog Chewie, a light Golden Retriever, is not only an excellent swimmer but also an excellent diver. Just look at the pictures we took when we were in Tahoe this summer. We take a rock and throw it in the water and he will "dive" for the rock and fetch that exact rock from the bottom of the Lake floor.

The reason Chewie can "smell" through the water is due to a structure in the dogs' body called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson's organ. We humans do not have this organ!! It is an organ that runs along the floor of the nose, just behind the canine teeth. The organ is connected directly with the olfactory lobe via 608 (!) nerve bundles. In the roof of the dog's mouth there are two holes and the dog is able to pull scent through these holes. Chewie did not breathe underwater but he was able to smell the rocks we threw underwater without inhaling due to the vomeronasal organ.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I love raccoons although they are considered a pest to many humans. We have had them in our house. They found their way in through the cat door and into our kitchen. Washing their little paws in a glass of water and leaving a trail of dirty paw prints to see where they had ventured. That was before we had dogs!

Now their evidence of their presence is less spectacular. We wake up in the middle of the night by falling trash cans during their attempts to open them. Sometimes they succeed and trash is simply everywhere. Luckily we are big time recyclers and we hardly waste any food and everything gets washed before ending up as “trash” in our bins.

Raccoons are incredibly intelligent and learn fast and remember when successful. I ran into three very well fed raccoons last year although I had believed they are solitary animals. Our neighbor once caught one and it was incredible aggressive. We released it miles away from our neighborhood only for it to return to the area. Very dedicated animals!

They are little thieves and their features made them famous. The facial mask and front paws, which almost look like hands. I remember one encounter I cherished the most. Our cat Puppy was sitting on the front porch and a raccoon was sitting on the other side and they were just looking at each other. Puppy is a Maine Coon mix and has survived living here for many years. Totally unimpressed by the presence of the predator she stood her ground. I guess the raccoon wasn’t hungry that day!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Black tailed deer & poison oak

As I am sitting behind my laptop after my morning hike I am watching the dogs sleep peacefully in the play area. I just had lunch and I’m catching up on work. I should be focusing on admin but with just 15 minutes left before I leave for my drop off round I have decided to relax and update my blog.

Earlier I had watched black tailed deer eat fresh poison oak. Just last year we took out a few poison oak plants growing on the unused part of our property. The poison oak is happily growing and the deer just love it. Most humans unknowingly come in contact with this toxic plant and it can cause some serious allergic reaction. One of my friends had it so bad she was hospitalized for a few days and she literally scratched the tainted skin area open.

The buck and doe that were eating the poison oak underneath our beautiful buck eye were totally undisturbed when we walked up the driveway with a whole pack of dogs. The taste of poison oak delighting their taste buds! You could just see it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mountain Lions

Mountain Lions
Some good facts:
1. Mountain Lions have an instinctive wariness around humans: sightings by humans are rare but imagine how many mountain lions you may have passed on the trails and you didn't even realize the lion was there!
2. Since 1890 there have been 16 mountain lion attacks on humans. 6 of them were fatal. The animals that were trapped and killed were found to have had diseases (rabies, feline leukemia).
3. Where there is deer there are mountain lions. Mountain Lions favor deer above other foods. They seem pre-programmed to kill deer. They will eat pets and livestock as well.
4. Mountain Lions are solitary animals. It is assumed that female territory overlaps with a male territory but an encounter other than for mating may result in death. They are not pack animals. If seen in more numbers it will most likely be a mom with her kittens. The young stay with her until they are 9-24 months old.
5. Mountain Lion territory in CA is believed to be 25-50 square miles big.
I have unfortunately never seen a mountain lion. I have heard them. The mating scream is a sound that I cannot describe. It was almost human. A woman screaming?! Then I was out one evening, the sun was just down and I heard a deer being killed by a mountain lion. The running through the oak leaves, the cry of the deer and the pulling of its prey through the dense brush is something that I will never forget. I have heard coyotes kill a deer right by our house and that was horrible but this kill was short and clean.
Once I thought I was really close to seeing one. A neighbor reported a mountain lion sun bathing on the another neighbors property. My husband, kids, dogs and I tracked down the cat. Our Lab caught the scent fast and we tracked down the cat. Not a mountain lion. A bobcat.
I have been told that one thing that will stick in your memory when you see a mountain lion is its impressive tail. Something the neighbors couldn't recall seeing!
Unfortunately the media contributes to a negative vision of these beautiful animals. The broad public only knows them as blood thirsty stalkers and killers. A good book to read about mountain lions is "The Cougar Almanac" by Robert H. Busch. Another good resource:

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Coyotes are part of our lives and one of the most fascinating predators in California. My friend Dani, the Vet, gave me a book on Thursday called "The Daily Coyote". A fascinating story about a woman who ends up raising a coyote pup. It is an easy story, sometimes the story is a bit stretched but the pictures compensate for everything else.
Above is a picture of a coyote running throughout the Hayfields. It always amazes me when preserve visitors refuse to believe we have coyotes in our Preserves. You may not see them but they are around. Their droppings are prominently present in the middle of the trail. Yes, that is not dog poop! It is coyote poop. They mark their territory mainly by leaving droppings very visible on the trail. Coyotes are very active in the Spring. They mate in February and March and are much more visible in the Open Space during that time. The pups are born about 60 days later and are raised in a den. Both mom and dad raise the pups and hunt for food. Easy prey like rabbits and domesticated cats are very popular during that time. We lost two of our cats during that time right by our house! We have since then fenced our property and we hope to keep them out!
I personally have come to admire coyotes. Their ability to adjust in every environment is incredible. I have eagerly been waiting to see the pups rolling through the grass like a few years ago. The mom watching while the little ones were running around like crazy. They are the only species in Northern America that humans have tried to kill but that have increased in numbers since the first interaction. What a survivor!
Educate yourself. We are in their territory and we need to share it with them. Yelling or throwing a stone at them is one option but coyotes do not differ much from our domesticated canines. Meeting them on the trail may be part of your hiking adventure. Usually they are observing you. Curious. Especially if you are with dogs. Coyotes can kill dogs! They are easy prey for these excellent predators. The coyote trick is one of their most famous attempts to trigger a dog to come with them. They show playful behavior and trigger the dog to come with him/her. Once the dog follows the coyote will guide the dog to the rest of the pack. I probably don't have to explain the rest. That is why a dog needs to be on-leash at all times when rules and regulations require you to do so. Protect your dog! Especially if your dog's recall is poor!
One of the saddest stories is of a Ranger, who lost one of his Rottweilers to Coyotes. 130 pounds strong but not strong enough to withstand the coyote trick. He just stood and listened while his dog was being killed in the foothills of the Bay Area. There was nothing he could do!
For more info here is a great web site:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beach Adventure May 22

Lola & Chewie & Ani & Domino at the Carmel Beach
Lola and Chewie
Lola & Domino and Romeo

On Friday, May 22 we took 10 dogs down to Carmel:
Chewie & Ani & Sophie (our own dogs)
Wyatt (mom and dad came along as well)
Lola, Romeo, Leo, Domino,
Ellie and Buster
We had a lot of fun. We missed Joeke and John. Only hiking adventures for them that day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


You will always be in our hearts!

Patrick passed away this May!

Patrick was one of our first clients and he was such a great dog!

Patrick you will be missed!

Especially your buddy Buster is missing you!

In Loving Memory!
The Dog Hikers

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Pictures of an organized Trail Patrol Sunday, May 24 at Windy Hill OSP

This is how WE give back to the community!


About a month ago we signed up for twitter. Long story short ... we lack time but we are working on it. We will update and inform as much as possible but when we get busy ... we get busy!
Follow us on twitter:

Cat Food Recall

Here is the link:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I've been blogged!

My first posting! Yahoo!

I am twittered, linkedin, facebooked and now blogged! Flickr op (that would be Dutch!).

Welcome. Willkommen. Welkom.