Once, in the dark ages of pet care, a pet didn’t have many options for self-improvement. A dog or cat could get itself groomed, vaccinated, flea-dipped or boarded in a kennel. That was about it.
Today, right here in Spokane, a forward-thinking pet can be holistically treated, acupunctured, cat-sat, dog-sat, professionally walked, professionally cleaned-up-after, and, yes, even mystically communicated with.
Did you perk up your ears on that last one?
Let’s start there. Jama Grant, who describes herself a “mystic” and an “intuitive,” has recently branched out into pets and started a Spokane business called Animal-Wise. She makes house calls in which, for a $35 fee, she tells pet owners what their dogs and cats are feeling and thinking.
“Everything in the universe is made up of energy, and that energy is converted into thoughts,” said Grant. “I can interpret that energy. I was born with a gift.”
Grant offered to demonstrate her gift on a canine client named Bo, who was curled up at her feet. She said she would find out why he didn’t want to sleep on his brand new dog bed. Grant sat quietly and concentrated.
“He says he thinks it’s silly,” she said after a few moments. “He said, ‘I’m a simple dog, and I don’t need anything that fancy.’ “
Her gift is so strong that she has even communed with a boa constrictor. The snake, as it turned out, was grieving the loss of its mate, which is why it had lost its appetite for even the tastiest of rats.
Grant said that dogs and cats (and presumably even snakes) understand more than we think and that it is important for us to talk to them about things that affect them.
“We make a mistake if we don’t prepare them,” said Grant, “For instance, when it comes to spaying and neutering, we have to prepare them.”
We also need to prepare our pets when we go away for a weekend or on vacation, which brings us to another burgeoning new pet service: Pet-sitting.
About five local businesses now provide pet-sitting services for people who go out of town. A pet-sitter will come to your house two or three times a day to feed, water and play with your dog or cat. The cost is generally in the range of $10 to $20 a day.
“Spokane has traditionally offered only the most common form of pet care, which is boarding,” said Susan Ruggles, who runs Pawsitive Pet Sitting. “But when you are a pet lover such as myself, who believes that pets are beloved members of the family, you don’t want your pet confined to a slab of cement. My belief is that pets are healthier, happier and safer in their own environment.”
She usually makes three visits a day to her dog clients: breakfast, dinner and bedtime. She might have up to 20 stops a day during holiday periods.
Stacy Bushnell, who has just started a pet-sitting business called the Pampered Pet, usually does two visits a day for dogs and one visit for cats.
“I set up an appointment and meet the person and the pet, and try to find out the animal’s schedule,” said Bushnell. “If they like to walk, I’ll walk them.”
A half-hour walk costs $10.
Ruggles offers a dog-walking service, too, usually for busy professionals who work 60 hours a week and don’t have time to give the dog a walk. She said she usually walks only one dog at at time; Spokane has not reached the point where a professional dog-walker can walk numerous bowsers all at once, a common sight in New York’s Central Park and in other big cities.
“I talked to a guy I know in San Francisco, and he said he and his brother made $60,000 and all they did was dog-walking,” said Ruggles. “They would take eight dogs at once. They probably made a couple of hundred dollars in a half-hour.”
A pet-sitter will draw the line at cleaning up the land-mines your dog leaves in your backyard. For that job, we can turn to the Granny Scoops Poop Patrol, a pair of grandmas - make that (((ITAL))) great-(((UNITAL)))grandmas - who will de-poop your yard every week for a $27.50 monthly fee.
“We go out once a week to people’s yards, so that they can have a nice, clean yard,” said Gerry Wood, 70, who runs the business with her partner Jan Loehr. “We use rakes, and scratchers and hooks and lots of plastic bags. We go over that yard in a grid pattern, so if it’s there, we get it, you bet. Unless the dog comes around behind us and we don’t catch him at it.”
The two grannies have more than 70 clients, almost to the point where they’ll have to hire more help. However, not everyone is suited to such a fragrant occupation.
“We have some clients who say they have to carry two plastic bags, one for the poop and one to throw up in,” said Wood. “But I never thought it was that bad. It’s a whole different ball game when you’re getting paid for it.”
Wood also has noticed that moms (and grandmas and great-grandmas) have stronger constitutions than men when it comes to scooping.
“Us women are trained,” she said. “We had all that to do with our kids, you know.”
A different kind of cleaning, but even more perilous, takes place every day at the Katstar Feline Grooming Parlor in Spokane.
Owner Teresa Herrington said she is the only groomer in town specializing in the cleaning of cats. The fee is $18 for a short-hair, $20 for a long-hair, and $30 for badly matted cat.
“I’m working on a big guy right now,” Herrington said by phone from her grooming parlor. “He’s covered in suds, just sitting there quietly.
“I just de-matted him - he had big lumps and knots all over his coat. He’s a beautiful white long-hair, but he was more like gray, from wandering under cars.”
This cat was docile while being washed, but some cats aren’t so cooperative.
“With a cat, you get teeth, claws, you name it,” said Herrington. “I usually have to use restraints, a velcro muzzle, a heavy pad to wrap them in. When I have to, I use heavy-duty gloves.
“My dog-grooming friends say, ‘Better you than me.”’
Cat-grooming is not typically done out of vanity. It is done out of necessity, when a long-haired cat’s fur gets matted beyond repair. Many of her customers are sent over by vets.
She said 90 percent of her feline clients have never been groomed before.
Speaking of vets, a holisticminded dog or cat owner can go to a holistic vet in Spokane, Dr. H. Jonathan Wright. He’s a full-fledged veterinarian, but he became discouraged with his practice several years ago when he found he could do little for chronic diseases.
But then he discovered homeopathy, which de-emphasizes medicine in favor of “re-balancing” the natural immune and defense mechanisms. He took a professional course in veterinary homeopathy and moved to Spokane from Tacoma last summer.
“I work on a house-call basis,” said Wright. “What I try to do is get to understand the pet as you would a good friend, as someone you might live with or know very well. With that information, as well as a physical exam, I’m able to come up with the best diet and supplementary treatments.”
For a most unusual kind of treatment, a pet can visit Spokane’s only pet acupuncturist, Dr. Kerry Fisher, a veterinarian at the Veterinary Wellness Center in north Spokane.
She uses acupuncture as a painmanagement tool for pets with such ailments as arthritis and hip dysplasia. For an idea of what it involves, imagine a dachshund with acupuncture needles sticking out like porcupine quills.
“You’d be amazed; they don’t bite,” said Fisher. “They don’t seem to mind at all.
“I’m not going to say the results are 100 percent, but I see a lot of animals that get better.”
Acupuncture is about 50 percent of her practice. The other 50 percent is standard Western treatments.
And, when all other treatments fail and a pet reaches the end of its life, one final service is available.
The Family Pet Memorial Garden, just north of Spokane near Colbert, is the area’s only pet cemetery. Owner Tom Allen said he offers a complete burial service, including a burial plot, a sealed casket, continuous care and a granite marker.
“Our cemetery is about the bond between the owner and pet,” said Allen. “There’s a lot of love there.”
One last observation: If you take the mystic Grant’s advice and talk to your pet about upcoming events, maybe this final event is one best left unmentioned.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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