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Our Fantastically Fabulous Team of Pet Professionals at Barks and Blooms is dedicated to earn your trust through our integrity and professionalism. We proudly service our clients at our doggie day care facility or in your home. Our services range from in-home pet sitting of dogs, cats and critters to plant watering & mail retrieval.
Barks and Blooms offers a full range of Fantastic services to give you the confidence you need to enjoy for your pets and home.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bodee: A Westminster Dog Story

The Westminster Kennel Club hosts "America's Dog Show".   Every year thousands of dog lovers  tune in to watch the different breeds compete.  
The club was established in 1876 by a group of sporting gentlemen who met at a Manhattan hotel to swap stories about their dogs and hunting adventures.  Eventually, they formed a club and named it after the hotel where they gathered, The Westminster.  In that same year those gentlemen helped host a dog show in Philadelphia as part of America's Centennial celebration.  Incorporated as a club in 1877, the first official Westminster Kennel Club dog show was held in New York City, drawing 1,201 dog entries.

In 2014, The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster was added to the schedule of events and this is where we would like to introduce you to our four-legged friend,  Bodee.  

Bodee as a sweet pup.
Glory (left) and Bodee (right)

Glory has  been a part of the Barks and Blooms family since 2010.  Little "sister" Bodee was added in 2013.   Both of these beautiful English Springer Spaniels participated in agility events, but eventually Bodee's enthusiasm shown through, so George and Sandi (their owners) focused on Bodee's training.

On Valentine's Day weekend 2016,  Bodee competed in the 20 inch  class of the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster.  She competed all day to get into the Top 10 of her class.  

Her owner, George adds, "Bodee was 7th in the 20 inch group. She was the only Springer in the finals and the only member from the medium sporting sub group. Bodee's rank was 10th amongst Springers nationally. That ranking will go up. Bodee's breeder is beside herself. The event put her on the map. The entire event was incredibly tough. Allison (George and Sandi's daughter) started at 6:00 am and went clear through all the prelims. She did not think she was fast enough to make the finals until it was announced. Some shock!  Bodee will get her Master Agility Champion rank when she qualifies at her next event. My only regret is that Sandi was not here to share in this."

Sandi, the driving force behind Bodee's training died suddenly last year and wasn't able to see her dream for Bodee come true.   We're pretty confident that Bodee will continue to prosper and delight those who watch her in the years to come.  She has such joy on her face when she competes!

Here's a quick glimpse of  Bodee in action during a quick promo clip from the show.  Keep an eye out at the 37 second mark to see Bodee's smiling face as she jumps over a hurdle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Make Sure Your Pet Never Becomes an Orphan

If anything happened to you, what would happen to your pet?  The hard fact is that thousands of pets are surrendered to shelters, vet clinics or are euthanized each year because their owners have become ill or passed away and never made plans for continuing care.
Pets that have been accustomed to a loving and comfortable home typically don't adjust well to shelter life.

They refuse to eat.
They become depressed, showing signs of being un-adoptable.
They become the first to be euthanized.
This is a preventable problem that can be eliminated if you follow these steps.

Someone who will care for your pets with the same love and attention you have.  Short term for the days or weeks after an emergency or long term, should you die or become permanently incapacitated.

If something happens to you and your pets need to be looked after, have a Pet Emergency Contact Card placed somewhere it will be found easily.  This Pet Emergency Card can be found at 2nd Chance 4 Pets.   Here's another one from Critter Cozy.  There are multiple others you can find with a quick Google search.  Find the one you like.  Print it out, fill it out and put it on your refrigerator, in your wallet/purse so any friend, family member or emergency medical personnel will see it and be aware that your pets will be needing attention too.

Food, shelter, medical care.....these expenses won't stop even if you're not around to pay for them. Help your pets' new caregiver with a savings account to cover ongoing needs.

 You can find more information on how to follow these steps and much more by going to 2ndchance4pets.org and clicking on their Resources tab.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

And Now....A Taco Recipe

There's more to the pet sitting business than poo bags in every jacket pocket and wearing dog hair as an accessory.  Do I think and speak dog care most of my days?  Yes, I do.  But, a girl's gotta eat.

I am a fan of tacos.  I really like the hard shell tacos, but really hate the crumbling-messy-juice-running-down-my-wrist catastrophe that eating them usually involves.  I mean, you have to turn your head to at least a 45 degree angle and let the taco juice run into your ear or unhinge your jaw to get a taste of all the layers, not just a mouthful of cheese or sour cream.

I found a recipe for Easy Oven Baked Spicy Chicken Tacos on a foodie site called The Cookie Rookie.  BAKED TACOS?  Why hadn't I thought of this?
Photo from The Cookie Rookie page

I followed the recipe, but switched out ground beef for the chicken (planning ahead is a skill I'm still developing) and left out the refried beans (my family refuses to entertain the idea of eating them, even though they are DELICIOUS)

I have no pictures of the cooking process.  I have no step by step descriptions.
I have only this.
My humble opinion.
You MUST make these.  They are tasty, they are not messy.  And you won't have to unhinge your jaw or slice a gum open trying to fit them in your mouth.  The shells are warm and pliable (not soggy) and able to receive additional toppings if you desire.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Life is Short, Tell People You Love Them, Hug Your Dog

The job of dog walker is fun, exhausting, unpredictable and sometimes heart breaking.   We have to say goodbye to our beloved furry clients too often. I received this email from a client recently and it captures the love and the hurt that visits all of us who have furry family members.  Life is short, tell people you love them, hug your dog.  
Hi to all,
 It is a sad day at our house today. 
 Champ passed away about 2 hours ago. If you are a dog lover you understand that emotional piece that follows this type of a loss.  
 I did not want a dog 7 years ago… a friend put him on hold for us at the dog pound. In less than two weeks Champ ate his way in to my heart. He has remained there ever since. Champ taught me a lot about the value of relationships and how important they are.
 I would constantly say…..”Good boy Champ”……over and over….many times a day…..and Champ would respond in a positive way. He would look at me….he knew how I felt about him…. always. His tail would wag and eyes would shine.
 It took time for me to realize….I did not compliment people, as often as  I complimented my dog.  Let people know how you feel about them and observe their reaction. It is a simple thing to do ….and my belief is that you will get a warm response from them just like I got from Champ.
 The development of our relationship was very special. Champ played a big part of our life.  My wife showed me how to love animals in a different way...her warm heart and being raised on a farm gave her a different perspective.
She and I gave Champ a lot of love…..and Champ returned more than we gave him. He was truly a gift to us.  He will always be missed and loved.  He truly is and was a member of our family.  
  Life goes on….our home will not feel the same without Champ.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spit That Out! Things That Should Never Cross Our Pets' Lips

We've all seen the list of foods that are dangerous to our pets.  Many of them are common sense.  Alcohol?  Well, duh.   Raisins surprised me, as did onions and garlic. 

I recently read a  Huffington Post article that listed only three things: peanut butter, pizza crusts and salty/sweet snacks.

Uh, thanks HuffPo, but I suspected there may be a few more items to discover.

So, I went out to the community and found one vet who was happy to share her thoughts.

Harford County Maryland vet Dr. Krista Magnifico gave me a list of  things she wishes she didn't see weekly in her in her Jarrettsville practice.

1. Human medications given to animals. Too many are toxic to pets. I've seen lists of human meds that are "approved" for use with pets--Benadryl, Aspirin, Dramamine, Hydrogen Peroxide, Pepto Bismol and Mineral Oil--but Dr. Magnifico warns that some could be toxic to pets and should NEVER be administered unless under vet supervision.

2. Over the Counter drugs for a condition the owner is guessing might be present. Dr. Magnifico said she sees quite a few cat deaths from OTC flea and worming preventatives!  Just because it's over-the-counter, doesn't mean it's safe or effective.  Check with your vet first.

3.  Bones of any sort.....

4.  Corn cobs cause obstructions!  They do NOT digest in a dog's stomach and cause blockages that WILL require surgery.

5. Cheap commercial, poor quality food and snacks. Dr. Magnifico diagnosed another diabetic today. He will need lifelong insulin if he survives this trip to the ER to keep him from going into a diabetic coma. He will also likely go blind. She said this disease is at epidemic proportions.   Are there inexpensive alternatives to dry kibble?  Yes there is. It may take some time and research to find the best one for your dog, but in the long run, keeps your pet healthier and out of the vet's office. 

P.S. Dr. M. also wanted to add PLEASE STOP USING RAT POISON in your home. In her experience it is equivalent to feeding your pets rat poison..She sees too many cases of accidental poisoning. Something like once a week.

For other, informative reading check out Dr. Magnifico's BLOG, Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian.

Friday, January 29, 2016

I Can't See My Feet! (or All I Got For Christmas was FAT)

I got fat

It's the time of year when it's easy to become complacent, comfortable and cozy.  This can lead to some added pounds for us and for our pets. We can go for walks to burn some calories, but cats are typically not huge fans of The Leash.  

Here are a few ideas to keep your cat moving and engaged mentally as well.  Cats are predators, and the way to get them to play is to let them use their instinctual hunting talents. Buy toys and then use them to mimic  actions of animals a cat would normally hunt – a mouse, bird, lizard, rabbit or bug. 
Take a laser pointer and skitter it across the floor like a bug. 
Get a wand toy that looks like a bird and pretend to land and take off. But don’t just flap it around. (No bird acts like that!) Try to think about what a bird really does and then reenact that with the toy. 
It’s all pretend play, but try to make it as real as possible for your cat.  Your cat will be happier and all that belly laughing you'll do has got to be good for your abs, right?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sage, the Chocolate Lab and the Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank

Meet Sage.  She is a vibrant, clever, goofy, rambunctious, gleeful Chocolate Lab.  I met Sage 6 years ago when she was just a wee puppy.
Sage, puppyCute, isn’t she?  Here’s another when she was just 12 weeks old.  (By the way, I’ve shamelessly stolen these pics from her owners Facebook page–Hi Linda!)
Sage, 12 weeksSage has grown up in the years since these were taken.  Here’s a more recent photo.
IMG_0468Still stinkin’ cute, right?    As you may remember from a previous blog post,  (Your Dog Can Be A Hero  Sage is on her way to becoming a hero.   ‎
Sage met with the wonderful people representing the Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank  to determine if she would make a good voluntary canine blood donor.  I tagged along to the 4 Paws Spa in Forest Hill to observe the process.
First, Sage  gave the volunteers a good sniff.IMG_0156  The next step was to make her comfortable on the table.  IMG_0159
That step and the ones following were made easier (and yummier) for Sage because Linda kept a steady stream of kibble and peanut butter coming her way.  Sage was one happy pup.
The Vet tech examined Sage, determining her comfort level with the process, and checking out the area of her neck where the blood would be drawn.
For that step, the other tech got into position and gave Sage a fully body hug while Linda kept up the flow of peanut butter and kibble.
Sage was so delighted with the treats and the constant positive attention from Linda and the tech that she didn’t even notice the needle prick and the blood draw.  See how totally relaxed her legs are?  She’s practically melting off the side of the table.
Sage’s blood will be tested to determine what her blood type is and screen it for any health issues that would make her unable to be a donor.   (We know she’s absurdly healthy, but it’s an important step)  And since Sage was so agreeable to this initial procedure Linda can now set up appointments for Sage to donate blood regularly.  To find out how your dog(s) can be heroes, please contact The Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank for more information.
Tell them Sage sent you!

And now.....a Soup Recipe

It's been dagnabbit cold here in Maryland this week.  We had a blizzard.  We had 30+ inches of snow.  As a result, not a lot of dog walking going on, but definitely a lot of eating.   

Below is my favorite chicken soup recipe (inspired from one I found on MyRecipes.com) Make some and enjoy!!

Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice Soup

(6-ounce) box long-grain and wild rice mix (Uncle Ben's, anyone?) 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (or 1tsp dried minced onion) 
1 cup chopped celery  (ohmygosh, do you have one of those slap-chopper thingies?  get one!)
1 cup chopped carrot 
garlic cloves, chopped 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (or not--frankly, I don't have any) 
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
2 cups water 
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or any opened white wine you have in the fridge. *wink*)
(15.75-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth  (or 4 chicken bouillon cubes and 4 C water)
(12-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk 
3 cups shredded roasted skinless chicken

Prepare rice according to package directions; set aside.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion (if using fresh) and next 4 ingredients (onion through mushrooms), and sauté for 6 minutes or until onion is tender. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Stir the flour, tarragon, and thyme into the onion mixture, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups water, sherry, broth, (dried minced onion here if using instead of fresh), and evaporated milk; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in cooked rice and chicken; cook for 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

YOUR Dog Can Be A Hero!

I had never heard of dog blood donors until a client told me she was taking her Chocolate Lab, Sage to be evaluated this week at 4 Paws Spa.   There is a need for canine blood to help sick or injured dogs and since canine blood has a shelf life of only about 30-35 days, the supply must be replenished regularly.
Some veterinary clinics don’t need blood very often, so they don’t keep it on hand. That’s when the Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood  Bank steps in to fill the gap.  They travel to vet offices, groomers, and other places where donors have signed up. They collect the blood and store it for when it’s needed.
Can your Fido be a donor?   Probably.  There are some tests to make sure there are no diseases that could be passed on and it’s important that your dog has a calm temperament.  During the testing and procedure, Fido is embraced in a full-body hug by one of the technicians and is treated to dog cookies and maybe even some peanut butter on a spoon!
For more information, use the links above and check back here for a peek at how Sage’s visit went!
Pointless, incessant barking:  Not my goal.
My  goal: To connect with other pet bloggers, pet lovers, and pet sitters.
(The gravy on the kibble would be if I could do all that AND  make you smile. )

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Tail of Two Dogs--Part Two

The last time we checked in, we shared a story about a dog named Graycie (a 12 yr. old Weimeraner) who was suddenly struggling to walk.  Through friends of friends, we were able to connect Graycie's owner Kristy with someone who had a doggie chair they wanted to donate.  Well, here's the update.  After two weeks of not walking or even sitting up, Graycie is getting used to and enjoying her new wheels!  Take a look at the videos Kristy sent us last week:


Here's what Kristy wrote on her Facebook page:

"Four weeks ago, our Graycie's health started going down hill. She couldn't get herself up or walk at all. Since then, she has gotten lots and lots of love and has been through various tests and even got a donated pair of wheels! We are still unsure as to what exactly caused her not to walk but she is doing well with her wheels and is even starting to hobble on her own! It's been a roller coaster but for now, we are thankful to still have her and continue to love her each day!"


Monday, December 7, 2015

The Tail of Two Dogs--Part One

Jocelyn and Chance in Baltimore
Graycie in Bel Air

There was once a dog named Chance, whose owner loved him so much that, when he wasn't able to walk like the other dogs, she gave him wheels so he could still get around like everyone else in the family.  Chance lived a long and happy life, but crossed the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year.  He's running free with the other dogs there, with use of all four of his beautiful legs.


Graycie lives with her owner, Kristy.    When a friend heard that Graycie's legs weren't working just right, she asked us to help her find some wheels for Graycie.   

Wanna know what happened next?
Stay tuned for the rest of the story! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Best of Two Worlds: The Catio

What's a Catio?  A hybrid of cat & patio and it's the coolest thing for active cats in the country, suburbs, or city.  Of course it's too cold for much outdoor time right now, but if you start planning now, you can have a Fabulous Catio by spring!  Take a look at these inspirations:

A Catio can be as simple as this portable pop-up:

A Catio can be an efficient, tidy box attached to a window.  You can DIY or purchase.

This Catio is like the one above, just fancier!  What a lucky cat!  (I saw a similar one while at the beach in North Carolina this summer.)

Look at this!  Exercise steps, ramps…and…is that catnip I see?

More happy cats experiencing freedom AND safety.  Perfection!

The Cottage Catio.  Sweet shade and the kitties can keep you company while you garden

Limited space?  How perfect is this?

Does your home have a catio?  Share your thoughts and your pics!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Adoptables--Oscar

Happy Oscar!

Oscar is an 18 month old neutered black male, who is available for adoption or sponsorship by Lab Rescue. He is up to date on his shots and is heartworm negative. He is good with other dogs and is approved for kids aged 10 and up. He weighs 53 lbs and should gain about 10 lbs. 
Update from Oscar's foster family - 11/9/2014

Oscar has developed a maneuver we call the sneaky snuggle. He starts at the opposite end of the couch and looks to be snoozing peacefully. Then he starts to wiggle and wave his front feet. Next thing you know he's wiggled down the couch on his back and his head is in your lap. If you let him, he'll be completely in your lap. Once he gives you the big "I'm so cute" eyes it's impossible to not give in to the snuggles. Oscar is very happy around people, and he's learning not to jump up for attention. He's not bothered by cars, large trucks, bicycles, kids on scooters, runners, or anything else. Mostly Oscar just wants to check out the world, play with all the chew toys, and be as close to his people as possible. He crates easily but prefers to lay on the couch. Oscar is housebroken and quick about going first thing in the morning. 

Oscar does okay on an Easy Walk harness. With some encouragement Oscar will sit for treats and takes them well.  He also knows come. In true Lab fashion, his tail never stops wagging. Oscar has the sweetest face and despite being underweight, Oscar has a spectacular Lablean. He will go with a training addendum and is probably not the best choice for a first-time adopter. He'd love an active family and lots of places to sniff and play.
Oscar loves to play with other dogs. He would like to retrieve all day but can't play as much as he would like as we want him to take it easy because of his torn ACL. He is going to be a wonderful, gorgeous dog for the family that is willing to give him the training, love, and attention he deserves. 

Silly Oscar!

If you have room in your heart or home (and couch) for Oscar, give the wonderful people at Lab Rescue a call.
(301) 299-6756 

Lovable Oscar!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letter from a Delighted Barks and Blooms Client

We received this note from a client and had to share!  

"I was at Madonna Vet on Saturday morning  and everyone was chatting in the lobby and I had Henry and Julius (my cat) in for check-ups." 

  "I was explaining that Henry was in daycare and a women suggested I contact a dog walker from Barks and Blooms because they were the best." 


"Then the other woman in the lobby indicated that she also uses Bark and Blooms; and her dog got sick while she was away and had many messes that  had to be cleaned up. She said her house looked beautiful when she got home and that is why she will always use Barks and Blooms.
"She proceeded to tell me how great the service was and how her dog  just loved her walker." 

Barks and Blooms Doggie Daycare in Hampden, back yard
Barks and Blooms Doggie Daycare in Hampden, front door
"Then I realized they we were trying to outdo each other with how great Barks and Blooms was when I interrupted and told them I had used Barks and Blooms from the beginning and that Henry was in their Doggie Day Care Center. 
It is hard to top me !!"
Best Wishes,  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is It Time to Throw the Jerk(y) Out!?

There has been an absolute epidemic of recalls in the last year concerning dog food and dog treats, specifically jerky--made from chicken.  While sifting through the dozens of blogs I subscribe to daily, I came across this article written by a vet, Dr. Eric Barchas for DOGSTER.  He states that questionable jerky has been tested for salmonella, metals, pesticides, and antibiotics, and were screened for other chemicals and poisonous compounds, but in spite of these efforts, the cause of the problems remains unidentified.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"This places jerky in a uniquely nefarious group of food and plant items that can sicken or kill pets for reasons unexplained by current science. Other members of the group include grapes, raisins, and lilies (in cats).
The analogy between grapes and jerky may actually be a very good one. There are some people who are beginning to suspect that there is no contaminant. Rather, they suspect that jerky itself, like grapes, may be safe for people yet toxic to some dogs (but not others)."

Something to think about--Here's a link to the rest of the ARTICLE.  It's good reading.

Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Have a Safe Howl-O-Ween with your Dog!

Our delightful friends at The Uncommon Dog shared this info-graphic with us.  Take a look and consider these 8 Tips to ensure you and your pet have a barking good time this year!

Happy Halloween from everyone at