By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Hi, my name is Torrey. You may know me as the Customer Service Advocate here at Pets Best – a job I take seriously. I may be small, but I’ve been told I have the heart of a lion and, truth be told, I rule the roost, whether it’s here at work or at home with my family. Those other dogs, cats and people may be bigger than I am, but have no fear – I put them in their places just fine.
I do a lot here around the office, actually – am glad that my Dad (who most people call Jack or Dr. Stephens) brings me to work with him every day. There are a lot of things I’m good at, and one of them is running off strangers. I may only be a pound-and-a-half, but I can intimidate someone a hundred times my size. I love it!
Take this guy Andrew, for instance. I love to eat his lunch. He came in to talk to Dad just yesterday and I let him hang out, just minding my own business. I have him trained so that when he leaves, he inches for the door little by little because he knows I’ve got my eye on him. It was so great. He inched his way closer and closer to the gate that Dad puts up sometimes in his office door and then you know what I did? I made him jump it! HA! I gave him a good barking to for a couple of minutes and feel pretty confident that I intimidated the *you know what* out of him. I haven’t seen him since. It’s all in a day’s work.
People like to use the words “tea-cup Chihuahua” and “Lil’ Tornado” around me, but all I know is that I have a voice and opinions and know how to use them, know how to be sweet when it will get me what I want, such as in my Dad’s lap or a treat from one of the employees here at the office. Dad has told everyone lately not to give me as many treats because he found out that I make the rounds and have put on too much weight, apparently. Humpft. As if a little extra on a girl ever hurt anyone. I work hard for those treats!
Speaking of working hard, one of my favorite things to do is to work hard to make sure that our policyholders are happy. If you ever need me, e-mail me at Torrey@petsbest.com. I have to find someone to help me type my responses, obviously, but if anyone can get what she wants around here, it’s me!
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Our ShelterBest “Racing to Save Pets” campaign took a huge leap forward at the recent Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas last month as the visual of the racecars, the passion of our Pets Best team, and the ShelterBest WVC Challenge Cup Race at the Las Vegas Speedway brought attention to our campaign to save shelter pets.
The presence of Thompson Motorsports and Brett Thompson’s NASCAR racecars on display during the convention helped bring Pets Best and “Racing to Save Pets” front and center with one car in the Mandalay Bay exhibition hall foyer and another outside next to the racecar trailer. Our hope and goal was to help promote shelter adoptions. We also added a place for conference attendees to come and pet the dogs at the puppy play area outside next to the racecar trailer.
Brett Thompson and his team have helped us spread the word about the needs of shelters and shelter pets.
ShelterBest “Racing to Save Pets” is a means to communicate with the public about the need to adopt pets from shelters across the country. As part of the program, we help to raise awareness, money and provide added value for shelter adoptions. Most importantly, the program will increase pet adoptions and reduce euthanasia. Our goals are three-fold:
1. To increase shelter adoptions - Despite years of spay/neuter programs, unwanted, surplus pets are still a huge problem and a shame on our society that so many millions of pets are euthanized each year. This is a societal problem, and it is imperative that we help change people’s attitudes about where they obtain their pets.
2. To provide financial responsibility - Pets Best offers its ShelterBest protection for adopted pets and other family pets, making it convenient and economical to insure family pets. With Pets Best, pet families know they will always receive 80% after the deductible reimbursement for covered accidents and illnesses. Having this help makes it much less likely they will return the pet to the shelter for a costly accident or illness.
3. To provide added revenue for shelters - The Pets Best shelter program provides pet owners with discounts, which can be donated to the local shelter. All or part of their Pets Best discount can automatically be donated to their shelter. Additionally, Pets Best makes another donation to those shelters when those pets are insured.
Our goal is to have more pets adopted, more pets insured, and to keep pets in families by covering 80% of their healthcare needs. We believe that ShelterBest “Racing to Save Pets” is an integral part of saving thousands (hopefully millions) of pets who deserve loving families and good care, including necessary healthcare.
When you share the word about shelter pets, you are making a difference. Our heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who is working tirelessly for the needs of pets, especially shelter pets. The race is a long one, but one I believe we can win.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
What a great age! Sixteen, second only to twenty one as a magical day. How I looked forward to reaching sixteen and being able to drive – a milestone year for most, a year that brings much to look forward to.
Sixteen is also a milestone year for our pets, but for a different reason. Sixteen for them is more like reaching our 90th birthday. Skeeter, my special little angel man, turned 16 on January 25th.
He lost his hearing a couple of years ago and is basically blind now, with slight light vision in his right eye only. We were able to stall his inevitable blindness for nearly two years with “Nu Eyes.”
His front leg shakes more often. He sleeps more. At times, he becomes disoriented and shows signs of senility. He now has less control of his bladder, and although much more onerous for my wife and me, we recognize that it is something that comes with the aging process and we simply have to prepare and allow for it.
Skeeter, a miniature pinscher has been my constant companion and pal for nearly sixteen years now. He came to me at six weeks of age after the loss of my special Spanky, another miniature pinscher that helped me through my ordeal with cancer in many special ways. I did not want another dog, certainly not that soon. My shock and grief at losing Spanky were overwhelming.
After all, what dog could ever replace my dear Spanky? I felt it would be unfair to other dogs to bring them into my life, where I would constantly compare them to Spanky. No dog could ever measure up to the companionship and mystical ways of Spanky.
Fortunately for me, my wife and our special breeder, Norma Cacka, forced Skeeter on me, despite my ungracious attempts to repel this little six week old puppy. Alas, my self pity and grief was not meant to be.
Skeeter very quickly captured my heart, even though he was nothing like Spanky. In fact he was not only very different, but almost the opposite. Day by day, he became even more endearing and more special to not only to me, but to the community of my acquaintances and nearly the entire Veterinary profession.
Skeeter moved me to a higher plane of bonding with a pet. Skeeter soon traveled everywhere with me, whether it was a short trip or cross-country. He goes to the office with me daily and occasionally on vacations. Skeeter has indeed been a constant companion. In fact he became the “icon” for pet insurance. I remembering overhearing people say, “There’s Skeeter, the insurance dog.”
Skeeter has had a special life, meeting many movie stars and dignitaries, even Walter Cronkite, who was enamored as everyone else has been with Skeeter’s demeanor and dignity. Skeeter is steadfast and loves everyone, while Torrey, my other constant companion can be difficult and might even bite people, letting them know to leave her alone. Not Skeeter, he is comfortable in a room with hundreds of people, walking among them, mixing, being picked up by anyone, and petted by anyone. He will sit for hours on a stage, as he did twice during veterinary graduation commencement speeches and cancer survivor events that I participated in. He is the epitome of stoic behavior, friend to all, calm and loving.
Skeeter is special in many ways, and his accomplishments are too numerous to mention, but a few bear sharing. His accomplishments are remarkable when you consider he only weights nine pounds and is a dog. The following is a testament to this mighty little package of dog, now sixteen years of age!
-Two Commencement Speeches, first at University of Missouri and later at Texas A&M Veterinary schools, where he sat on the stage in a chair during the entire exercise with his own cap and gown. He stoically sat for hours on stage next to me or on the podium. While I spoke, he simply starred at the audience or dozed.
He participated in several other speeches where he sat on the podium in front of hundreds.
-Honorary Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) from the University of Missouri Veterinary School
-Broke the no pet barrier for Veterinary Conferences
-Honorary Board member of the Western Veterinary Conference, the largest veterinary conference in the world
-Scholarships in his name at two Veterinary schools
-Skeeter Foundation named in his honor that promotes research that provides scientific proof of the physiological benefits of pets and pet therapy visits to hospitals and nursing homes
-Hugged by movie stars too numerous to name
-Logged so many flights he should have his own frequent flyer card
-Chairman of Pet Relations for Pets Best Insurance
-Photo hung in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas for several years, in the hallway of stars
Funded research to validate the positive benefits of pets in humans
-Most importantly, this wonderful dog has been a steadfast, loyal companion for sixteen years to this person awed by the positive powers of pets and animals on human health and well being. Happy Birthday, my dear friend.
By: Arden Moore
The benefit of sharing my home with two dogs and two cats is that I get to enjoy the antics of this “furry fab four,” and they get to have a member of their own species as a pal.
The downside is when I need to travel. Hiring a professional pet sitter can cost more than the price of an airplane ticket or hotel stay – depending on the duration of the trip. Still, I consider it money well spent. My pets get to remain in their own homes and get to be catered to by a professional who is licensed and bonded.
In picking a pet sitter, I’ve learned to be, well, picky. Just because someone tells you that they love pets, doesn’t make them skilled in dealing with companion animal issues. Facing a lot of trips this year, I knew I could not afford to have just any person stay at my house and care for my pets.
I contacted two national organizations: Pet Sitters International and National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Both referred me to local pet sitting companies who belonged to one – or both – of these organizations. The information on the websites of these local companies provide me with their fee schedules and pet policies.
In picking a pet sitter – and hiring that person for future trips, I considered the following factors:
Punctuality of the prospective pet sitter for the initial face-to-face meeting with me and my pets.
Availability of the pet sitter for future trips to provide continuity for my pets.
Comments from others who had hired the pet sitter in the past.
Knowledge of cat and dog behavior.
Acceptance that my pets are not perfect. My dog, Chipper is afraid of skateboards and will turn into a 60-pound puddle at the sight of one on a walk.
Willingness to provide daily walks for my dogs and daily brushings for my cats.
Receptiveness to meet close neighbors who keep an eye on my house and are available should an emergency arise.
Accessibility by phone or email to provide me with daily updates on my pets.
The body language of my pets when they were around the pet sitter. The person I chose brings out pure joy and goofiness in my dogs and dignified acceptance from my cats.
The next time you face a business trip or a long-awaited vacation, please plan ahead and make arrangements for your stay-at-home pets to receive the best possible care. Hiring a professional pet sitter helps reduce the chance of coming back home to a behavior problem.
By: Arden Moore
In my role as editor of Catnip, the author of 17 books on cats and dogs and an animal behavior consultant, I travel coast to coast to make presentations about pets. Usually, I fly solo and hire a professional pet sitter to take care of my two cats and my two dogs. They seem – well, the cats, Callie and Murphy – quite content to stay home while I hop form one time zone to the next.
My two dogs, Chipper and Cleo, are always up for any trip – be it a road trip, on a boat or on a plane. They just love sharing the chance to get from here to there with me.
I am about to embark on a national multi-city book tour to promote my latest releases, The Cat Behavior Answer Book and The Dog Behavior Answer Book. The tour is aptly being called, “Arden Moore Unleashed for a Pet-Friendly America.”
One of the “pre-tour” trips called for me to appear in New York City and to discuss cat behavior for a satellite media tour. About 20 big and small television news stations all over the country lined up to ask me about why cats do what they do.
The sponsors of this satellite media tour requested that I bring one of my own cats to New York. Murphy performs a lot of tricks, but unfortunately, she gets motion sickness and tends to make anything-but-pleasant vocals inside a carrier. The natural pick was Callie, my 12-year-old calm calico.
Callie has flown before – but it was seven years ago. So, I took the necessary steps to ensure her flight was as stress-free as possible. I booked a non-stop flight from San Diego and New York City and verified with the airlines that Callie was indeed listed as my travel mate. I recommend you do the same because airlines limit the number of pets who can travel in the cabin. Sometimes, that number per flight is as low as four.
I also had Callie receive a head-to-tail physical examination by my veterinarian who signed the necessary health certificate that airlines require. I also trained Callie to enjoy being inside a soft-sided, airline-approved carrier by feeding her favorite healthy treat inside it.
Callie’s packing needs included a harness, leash, an ID tag on her collar that listed my cell phone number (she also has a microchipped ID), an absorbent pad (in case of an accident), treats, collapsible water bowl and a small, comfy bed.
What I didn’t anticipate was the new rule at airport security screening areas. We’re all now used to taking off our shoes, pulling out our computer laptops and putting loose change and metal objects in the trays.
In addition, you are ordered to take your cat out of the carrier and hold her as you walk through the security sensor door. I was at a crowded airport full of impatient people wanted to get to their gates. I tried to remain calm as I removed Callie out of her carrier and held her tightly in my arms as we were screened.
Once I put her back in the carrier, I realized how lucky we were. Imagine if she had panicked and wiggled free and ran loose in a large airport?
The lesson I pass on to those of you who find the occasional need to have your cat join you on an airplane is to always fit your cat with a harness before putting her inside the carrier. At the airport, attach the leash to the harness as well. This way, when you are told to remove your cat from the carrier, the chances of escape are minimized.
As for Callie, her trip to the Big Apple was full of adventure. From the hotel window sill in our 20th floor room, she could watch tourists in Times Square and actually look down as some birds. She flirted with the TV cameras and tolerated being oohed and aahed and petted by feline fans at the studio and inside the hotel.
Now, it’s time for me to pack my suitcase and begin the official launch of the book tour. Callie is happy to remain and enjoy the comforts of home.