Meet Mike and Jennifer Bell. They are truly godsends. Not only are they my godparents, they are also the best dogsitters on the planet. They’ve been watching Boone & Pixy for the last 10 years. They’re truly experts in dogsitting & know everything there is to know about dogs ( seriously, wait til you hear about the titer test ), and there’s just no one I would trust more with the two loves of my life.
They have taken such good care of Boone & Pixy when Michael and I have been traveling through France, China and Italy. Like, I cannot even tell you. We feel so confident when the dogs are with them, it’s basically like a luxury, holiday pet hotel.
Finally, I decided to pick their brains for you guys because I know how you all love your animals. We’ve got all the details & specifics for you guys. Again, if you’re in Scottsdale or Gilbert Arizona, LA, Orange County or San Diego, definitely reach out to them. But do it fast, because they book up quickly.
Sidenote: I actually lived at their house while I was in college & bartending. They opened their home up to me for 5 years & we had the most incredible time together. Mike & Jen are very special people in my life.
Let’s get to it and meet Mike & Jen.
♡ Introduce yourself & tell us your background on dogs.
Jen Bell: As a baby, I had a dog in my crib and over the years I’ve had many, many pets: cats, parrots, snakes, chickens, guinea pigs, etc. In recent years I have continued to follow her natural instinct to care for and love all animals, particularly dogs. Today, I’m one of the most requested dog sitters in southern California and Arizona.
♡ How is taking care of little dogs different than big dogs?
JB: With the little guys you need be even more vigilant. At home or on a walk, due to their small size, you need to be ever watchful not to kick them by mistake (it happens!), look out for pests and predators; other dogs, crows, hawks, eagles, coyotes, snakes, ant nests, the list is endless really.
The big pooches need more control. Their extra mass means a sudden stop and you are on the ground. Big or small, inside or out, be very aware of what Fido is sniffing, household cleaning products and pesticides harm and even kill. Beyond all the cautions every dog need lots of attention. Remember, you are the center of their universe.
♡ Tell us about the titer test.
JB: A titer test is a blood test that measures the level of immune system proteins called antibodies. Vaccine titers can be useful determining the need for additional Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvo protection. There is a separate titer test for Rabies.
EVERYONE should ask his or her vet if the test would be helpful. Why? Like in humans, animals that have been vaccinated for these viruses develop antibodies that remain in the system. If the level of the antibodies is already sufficient, adding more can be very harmful.
♡ What are some secrets about dogs that not a lot of people know?
JB: Like human children, dogs are very sensitive to YOUR emotions. If you are happy, they will likely be happy, if you are sad or depressed they often become nervous, refuse to eat, or act out by peeing or pooping where they shouldn’t. That’s the negative response. On the positive side, most dogs understand their job is to provide support, comfort & unconditional love. Treat your fur baby as you would your human baby.
♡ What should you ask for when you go to the vet?
JB: Dogs can’t talk. If you need to see the vet, take note of every symptom or unusual behavior, no matter how trivial or non-important it may seem. Pointing out that “Abby is drinking a little more water than usual” may speak volumes to the professional who has spent years of animal study.
♡ Tell us about teeth cleaning.
JB: This is a big one. I know our dogs struggle and resist any form of invasive teeth cleaning. However it’s clear, regular gentle brushing with a specific canine toothpaste and brush that can extend the life of your dog by years.
Is it always easy? No. In all cases you need to have your vet do a deep cleaning once a year. Make sure to have a blood panel and physical exam by your vet before the general anesthesia. Doing all this is expensive but not when you consider the price of treatment for the many often fatal illnesses caused by gum disease and abscesses.
♡ What are some weird tricks little dogs have?
JB: They love to run and hide- “I’m behind this shear drape, I’m invisible!” Yeah right. They insist on the middle of your bed and the little monkeys always think they are huge. They act like they weigh 150 pounds and are tough guys.
♡ What are your food & drink recommendations?
JB: Most importantly, always clean the water bowl and have fresh water available every single day. As for food, our two pups seem to get tired of even the finest available commercial dog food. For the most part we make our own. Fresh braised organic chicken breast, steamed sweet potato, mixed veg, plus a premium quality dry food for crunch. Sometimes though, they love some tuna or scrambled egg. Yes, they love cheese. Whenever possible, fresh is the best.
♡ How do dogs get their vitamins & minerals?
JB: As above, make food for them fresh. Vitamins and minerals are right there. But like with human children and their doctor, ask your vet for an opinion on any supplements your dog may need.
♡ Can you talk about grooming & baths?
JB: Number one, keep your dog’s nails trimmed. If the nails get too long they reduce the dogs mobility and even cause pain. Try to keep goop from building up around the eyes- for some breeds this can be kind of tough but it’s important. Also, find find a good mobile groomer. Though usually more expensive, knowing my dear little one is not in a cage all day is worth paying for. If you can’t do the mobile option try to find the same groomer to go to every time. Let her or him know as much as possible what you want and how your dog responds to grooming. I know a dog that poops every time the groomer picks her up. Kasi are you reading this? Ha ha.
♡ Speak on nails & anal glands.
JB: Oh, final thing on nails. Some dogs retain what’s called a dewclaw, a toenail located on the inside part of their front leg (some on the back legs too) higher up on each leg. Your groomer or vet should know to trim them.
Anal glands? Yuck. Anal glands are scent glands located in the muscles of the rectum. Usually, they are naturally emptied when the dog poops but not always. Some dogs fail to empty the glands so they build up and become impacted.
You’ll notice if they are impacted because your dog may scoot their butts-they love doing this on expensive rugs (!). Obviously they are showing you they are uncomfortable. Letting the condition go is not an option as this can lead to expensive surgery. Relieving the pressure is best left to your vet…bring a towel for your carrier or lap on the way home. When you get home from the vet a quick rinse of the rear end will help with the odor.
♡ What do Chihuahuas do that’s unique?
JB: Just about everything Chihuahuas do is unique. Here are some highlights:
Chihuahuas love sunshine & warmth; they can be found outside even on really warm days and burrowed, and sometimes invisible under multiple blankets at night.
They tend to be very emotional and demand extra love, cuddles and praise.
These little guys can be totally fearless and often must be protected from protecting.
Chihuahuas think they are bullmastiffs in tiny bodies.
These itty bitty pooches will shake to let you know they are: sad, angry, scared, hungry or if it’s Tuesday…after you get to know them you’ll discover the reason.
Bark? Yes they do, with enthusiasm.
Bottom line? Chihuahuas are one of the most loyal and loving breeds you’ll ever know.
♡ In all the years that you have taken care of dogs, what are the biggest things that you’ve noticed?
JB: All dogs crave love and need you to be patient when they arrive in your home. Experts say it takes about three months for the new furry friend to feel comfortable with you and their new surroundings. When meeting a new small dog, if possible get down on the floor with them. Resist petting them on the head but a gentle rub under the chin is usually welcome.
Go slow, speak softly and with a kind voice. Keep in mind with their sensitive ears, dogs don’t like loud voices, noises or music. Another thing; after feeding, wait at least 45 minutes before vigorous exercise to give the digestive tract a chance to get busy. Immediate running or even brisk walking may cause bloating or ‘flip flop stomach,’ particularly in older pooches. This would demand immediate serious medical care.
♡ What are issues with dogs people should be careful of?
JB: When walking a dog on pavement in warm weather, place the back of your hand on the surface for about ten seconds, if it’s too hot to keep it there, it’s too hot for the dog. In any case, after a walk it’s the best practice to wipe down the paws with a damp cloth or commercial paw wipe to remove dirt & germs.
And here it is…from the American Kennel Club: “Open windows don’t keep dogs safe in cars. It doesn’t have to be super hot outside for your car to heat up. The inside of a car parked outside in 70 degree weather will reach 100 degrees in 20 minutes. On very hot days parked cars climb to 140 degrees in less than an hour.”
Be safe, keep your dog at home. See a dog in a closed car? If it appears dangerous, many states will allow you to break in for rescue it as long as you call 911 first. This is easy. Treat your fur baby just as you would a human.
♡ How does it work when you dog sit?
JB: I always have a no charge meet & greet before the dog sit. This can last up to two hours. Why? Here’s a list of important information: Introduction to the pup(s), review feeding times and diet, medications, activities, sleeping arrangements, vet information, emergency contacts and to go over all the necessary functions of the household; alarms, air conditioning, pool, everything.
During the sit I take multiple pics and videos of the pooches during each day and text them to the owner. My personal commitment is unique. I spend every moment, day and night with my client’s dog or dogs. On the rare occasion if I must briefly leave it’s only to get some groceries.
♡ How can someone book you?
JB: Just text me at 858-947-8185 and I’ll call or text back ASAP.
♡ What are your social handles?
Be sure to get in touch with Jen if you’re looking for a dogsitter in Scottsdale or Gilbert Arizona, or LA, OC, or San Diego. And like I said, they book up quick. & who knows, if you guys are dropping your dogs off to Mike & Jen, we might run into each other.
Also be sure to check out their podcast on iTunes, Wrinkled Not Dead. Mike & Jen are the best, most adorable couple ever.
Peace, love & dogs.
+ check more details on the titer test here.
++ get familiar with T. Boone & Pixy.