Preparing a Pet
I have been busy working on our new venture, but I promise to be more diligent about blogging. This is Coco, a beautiful cocker spaniel puppy whom I adopted. I keep a little pet bed next to my desk, where she naps or plays while I work. I typically work for three hours or so and then we take a play break, either a long leash walk along the waterfront or a game of fetch at our doggy park, which is just a ten minute walk away. Then we repeat that routine two or three times (work three hours, play for one-half hour) and that is my day! It is great for productivity, as I structure my time in blocks to get things done and know I can look forward to our break together. Coco has also taught me a few things about disaster preparedness. In Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses, I wrote about disaster planning for household pets. After all, it is hard to focus on your business when you are worried about the safety of your pets. Since I have become a pet owner after writing the book, I am learning from the experience, particularly since our area was directly affected by Tropical Storm Irene just days after I had adopted Coco!
Areas in our community were subject to mandatory evacuation orders and while ours was not, I was prepared with a pet emergency travel kit. I included in it copies of Coco’s medical records, particularly her rabies vaccine, as I had to produce it to bring her into one public building. I also included a photograph of her, in the event, heaven forbid, we were separated, a photo would help for identification purposes. Here are several lessons I learned from the Tropical Irene experience that I will certainly include in the next edition of the book when we update it:
- Ask your veterinarian to test for Giardia, a small parasite that can live in the intestine of your dog. You bring a current stool sample from your dog to the vet for testing and will generally have the results the same day. I paid $20 for the test. Diarrhea is often a sign of Giardia, but infected dogs may be without symptoms. My vet didn’t include a Giardia test in our regular wellness visit, so I had to ask for it. Many kennels require proof that the dog is free of Giardia, so if you ever have to board your dog in an emergency, it is good to have the results of a recent Giardia test.
- If you have a carrier for transporting your pet, practice using it before you will need it. I purchased a large comfortable pet carrier for Coco and when the time came for us to go on a trip, I learned that she hated the carrier and refused to remain inside. I should have kept it on the living room floor for a period of time to let her climb in and out of it and get comfortable with it. Now I know.
- I have a pet “Go Kit” packed with food, dishes, bottled water, etc., but now I am more careful about keeping the food stocked. Coco eats a brand of dog food that is not widely available. I went to the brand’s website and found that it can be purchased only at specialty retailers and veterinarian offices. I had assumed that I would just bring a quantity of food sufficient to get us to our shelter destination and replenish our supply from there. Now I am keeping a larger supply of food on hand.
- Animals have instincts about weather changes and may act out during a severe storm, such as showing signs of fear when they hear thunder, for example. I am lucky that Coco is pretty resilient. She stayed up the whole night, sitting at the edge of my bed watching the heavy rain as if she were completely fascinated by it. Not all of my neighbors were so lucky. So be prepared that your pet may go through a rough patch during the storm.
As I have written before, building resilience is an ongoing process of learning from experience and improving practices. Being sheltered in my home with Coco during Tropical Storm Irene was a learning experience for me and I will be even better prepared the next time.