The South Miami Rotary Art Festival Recap

Dog-Friendly South Miami Rotary Art Festival

We were more than happy to volunteer at the dog-friendly South Miami Rotary Art Festival this past weekend! Over 150 artists showed their wonderful work, and thousands of Miamians brought their dogs along for a stroll along Sunset Drive. Equipaws Pet Services offered fresh water and special freeze-dried liver and cod treats at their Doggy Hydration station for the second year in a row. Owner Flavia and her pet sitters Tom, Becca, Sara, Tony, and Frankie were on hand to snuggle pups and bring them out of the sun under the shade of the Equipaws tent, and to trade fun dog stories and tips with pet parents.

We were happy to see many of our pet sitting and dog walking clients make it out to this fantastic event, too! The pups were decked out in their very fashionable leashes and beautiful dog carriages. There were a few newly-adopted rescue dogs, which always warms our hearts. For the most part, pet parents were responsible with their pups this year. Many had their own bottled water and dog poop bags on their persons; if they didn’t, they were on the lookout for watering opportunities for their pups and made beelines for the doggy hydration station. We noticed that no one put a sweater on their pups this year; this is great, considering that last year many people dressed their dogs to the nines in eighty degree weather. Finally, many people were conscious of their dogs’ paws, keeping them to the shade instead of the hot asphalt.

The South Miami Rotary Art Festival has been running for 32 years and is truly a labor of love. As we mentioned in our previous blog post on the art festival, the proceeds from the festival are donated for scholarships and other opportunities for local and international students and service projects.

We hope you enjoy the gallery of cute dogs from the festival, and hope we see you next year!

Dogs of South Miami Rotary Art Festival

Top Ten Benefits to Hiring a Pet Sitter

The Top 10 Benefits of Hiring a Pet Sitter:

Also known as: why we rock! Pet sitters are valuable for oh so many reasons (take it from one!). We’ve compiled ten of the most compelling reasons here for you as a sort of cheat sheet. Enjoy!

1. Your pets remain comfortable at home in their safe, secure environment surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds

2. We follow your pets’ regular diet and exercise routines and maintain medical treatment when required

3. We provide ample, stimulating play time while you’re away

4. Fun runs and walks keep dogs healthy, their moods elevated, and curb destructive behaviors

5. Your pets receive the same love and personal attention they’re used to, and you receive a daily report on what your pet has done

6. Pet sitting eliminates the trauma of travel or an unfamiliar environment for those shy dogs, cats, and small animals

7. Pet sitting reduces exposure to other animals’ illnesses or parasites in kennels

8. You won’t have to impose on family, friends or neighbors

9. We keep your home looking lived in while you’re away

10. You’ll have someone who is knowledgeable, responsible and insured in charge in case of an emergency in your home.

Nutrition Spotlight with J.J. Diaz of Animal Crackers

Kala, our lovely Miami girl, enjoys her Acana!

It so happens that one of the most common questions we get from our pet sitting clients is about which food they should be serving their dogs. We turned to J.J. Diaz, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable purveyor of our own dogs’ special pet food, Miami native, and owner of Animal Crackers, for advice. He’s been a huge help in alleviating our Shar-Pei’s chronic skin allergies, reducing costly vet visits, and eased us into the process of buying higher quality pet food. I’m sure you’ve encountered as much information out there as we have, and might be as confused as we once were. We’ll be offering J.J.’s tips on choosing the “right” food for your pet with our series on nutrition on our blog.

The Right Protein is Key

J.J.’s first tip is to look for good, digestible protein in your dog’s food. Protein is an essential part of your dog’s diet because it delivers life-sustaining amino acids. These amino acids must come from real food and not be synthesized. Dogs can digest most protein in muscle meat, but did you know they have trouble getting these amino acids out of other, less savory animal parts? We’re talking hair, horns, and beaks- not very appetizing. Poultry by-product meal seems to be particularly hard to digest.

J.J. takes a simple approach to the matter. “Byproducts are pretty dense. Hair is already dead cells, so how much nutrition can you extract from it? Technically, if it was meant for us to eat, we’d eat it, and it’s not. So what are we doing? We’re feeding it to dogs, because it’s just a filler, and a way for us to cheaply make food. They’re absolutely not getting any real source of nutrition from that, that’s why you see a lot of dogs doing one of two things: they look skinnier than they should be from lack of good nutrition, or corn overtakes them and they look extremely bloated which is that filler aspect.” And the pet food industry is, for the most part, dedicated to being cost-effective. They are running businesses, after all.

Acana Ingredients List

J.J. breaks labels down for us

The first ingredients should be at least two different kinds of high quality meat- not a “meat byproduct”, so make sure to read your labels carefully! It’s important to find out your dog food’s digestibility. The kind of protein used will be listed in the ingredients list in descending order according to weight. For example, if chicken is the first ingredient listed, the food has more chicken by weight than any other single ingredient.

“The first five ingredients listed on the label are the main ingredients,” explains JJ. “The food needs to start off with a meat source. The best thing to do is to find something with the top three ingredients being meat- ideally, your dog needs a second or third meat within first five ingredients. In any really good dog food you’re going to have 2 meat sources within first five.”

Rotate Your Dog’s Food

Contrary to popular belief, your dog does not need to be kept on the same kibble in perpetuity. As per J.J., “It’s really bad to stick to one flavor of dog food. It’s better to rotate on protein courses, for various reasons. First, it keeps the dog excited. Second, we’ve noticed that prolonged exposure to one protein will pull an allergy and you will end up having a lot more problems finding a food to feed him that will not show allergies,even on the good foods.”

In fact, a lot of these high-quality foods are formulated to be easily switched out without stressing your pet. For example, companies like Fromm’s Four Star Nutritional offers five different flavors of food formulated in such a way that you can switch flavors for your dog and not shock his system. “The problem is that myth that everybody threw out there back in the day, when food was such crap for dogs that if it worked for you they didn’t want you to switch it because they were scared you were gonna you know either find something better or it wasn’t going to work if you tried another flavor and started buying elsewhere. They marketed it great- they had everybody scared; it’s almost like the myth that canned food is worse than dried food for your dog, which is not true. Marketing will getcha. Marketing will get you good.”

We’ve been lucky with Animal Crackers in that J.J. allows you to sample different kinds of dog food for free. J.J. holds the philosophy that people are willing to change when you allow them to try new foods slowly with your dog, to see how they react and eat towards something that tastes better. How does he know? J.J. gives a sly look. “I’ve tasted it so I know it tastes better.” That’s remarkable dedication in our book, and we love anyone that dedicated to dog nutrition and health!

If you like what you’ve read so far, you can always step into J.J.’s shop in the downtown Miami area to consult with him. Check out the Yelp reviews first, if you like, and remember to always consult with your trusted veterinarian when considering a change in diet!