Monday, August 21, 2017

About Nicole

Nicole has been wearing cats on her head since the 1980s, way before it was cool. She began her career in pet services in 1986 at a small ‘mom and pop’ pet store in her home town. Although her duties were varied, her favorite work activity was feeding slurry to the hand-reared Amazon parrots through a turkey baster. What fun! Nicole worked in pet stores for several years, gradually becoming the go-to person in her store for small animal care. Although she was supposed to be selling puppies, she spent most of her time tending the sick animals (ironically the reason she quit working in pet stores).

Perhaps inevitably, Nicole drifted towards animal rescue somwhat later, but in the meantime she earned three degrees at California State University, Fullerton, taking time off to care for her grandmother and work as a pet sitter. It was here in San Diego that Nicole learned the pet sitting trade, as a contractor for a local company. This was during the 1990s, when fewer professional pet sitting companies existed, and if they had staff it was always comprised of independent contractors. Luckily, Nicole is a self-starter and a perfectionist, so she excelled as a contractor despite having little supervision and a clientele that stretched from Allied Gardens to Alpine. 

In 2001, Nicole was a passenger in a rollover auto accident while on a research trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nicole sustained a brain and spinal injury. After spending a year recovering, she was no longer able to compete at the top of her graduate program in Culture Studies. Although she finished her degree (it took eight years), Nicole spent most of her graduate career focused on the animal rescue she founded in 2002. With her vigorous promotion, the rescue grew to have more than fifty volunteers and forty foster homes over the next decade. 

As fulfilling as rescue work may be, it doesn’t put food on the table, so Nicole worked as a restaurant manager to pay off her student debt. At the end of 2010, Nicole was student debt free. She had four years’ experience as a manager, ten years of experience as a CEO in animal rescue, and a useless Master’s Degree. It was then that she started thinking about reviving her dream of working with animals. So she quit the restaurant business, rolled over her 401(k), and started Furry People Pet Sitting.

In its third year, Furry People grew larger than Nicole had expected, and she was faced with the decision of turning away clients or hiring employees or contractors. Recognizing an opportunity to create real jobs instead of contract work, Nicole decided on employees. She began to hire, train, and supervise staff. She wrote an employee manual, implemented professional pet sitting software, and made sure that every client received the very best in animal care as well as customer service. 

Furry People Pet Sitting is now in its sixth year of operation. The business serves over three hundred clients from La Mesa to Lakeside, as well as providing luxury cat boarding at its Mt. Helix location. Today, several members of Nicole’s family work in the business, and it grows a little each year. We are truly proud and honored to be your pet sitters.  Click here to go back to Furry People!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Walk a Dog in Need this Sunday!

On Sunday, March 3, Furry People will join The Barking Lot for Walk a Dog in Need, a doggie fitness event that promises a lot of fun for people too. The event starts at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. and the address is 486 Raleigh Ave in El Cajon. The event includes live music and refreshments as well as dog training exercises and something mysterious called “bet on a banana man.” We couldn’t even begin to guess what that means but it sounds like fun!

The Barking Lot is a 501(c)3 nonprofit animal rescue founded in 2007 by Stacy Parmer. They just recently opened the El Cajon “Barking Structure,” and TBL volunteers can be seen at events all over San Diego with adoptable dogs.  They rescued over five hundred dogs in 2012. Check out their website if you would like to adopt, foster, donate, or volunteer.  

Rescue events in East County are few and far between. During the past four years of covering pet rescue for the San Diego Examiner, we have only run into a few major events that were within reasonable driving distance of East County. Most events happen in the coastal cities, although many local rescues hold weekend adoptions at pet stores in El Cajon, Santee, and Rancho San Diego. However, East County residents can still foster for rescues as long as they are willing to travel to the occasional adoption event or to the rescue's home base to pick up fosters. To find San Diego rescues in need of fosters, search on Petfinder.

Adopt a Dog


Saturday, February 23, 2013

B.B.'s Journey to a Forever Home

B.B. traveled a long way to get to his forever home.  Over 1800 miles, in fact.  Transported from the Humane Society of South Mississippi, B.B. was a three-time shelter loser who might have been forgotten if the San Diego Humane Society had not believed in his adoptability. They rescued him twice—once from a shelter in the Deep South and a second time when his adopted family returned him.  Then they convinced me that this was the dog for our home.  Despite my misgivings, I believed them.  On December 11, 2008, at 2:54 PM, I paid his adoption fee and he hopped willingly into my car and stole our hearts.

My beloved Great Dane, Honey, had passed away at ten years old the previous February.  I had been looking for another Dane; however, both of the Great Dane rescues in Southern California turned me down because I was not a home owner.  Breed-specific rescues often have this requirement.  I searched in vain for a Great Dane in all of the shelters and all-breed rescues from San Diego to Los Angeles but could not find one.  Our home felt so empty without a dog.  A Dane had been so perfect for our lifestyle; intelligent, obedient, and affectionate, Danes are happy to sit on the couch with you and watch TV.  They are great companions for someone who works at home and likes leisurely walks. 

Labradors are quite different from Great Danes.  They are extremely intelligent and high energy.  They need at least sixty minutes of exercise per day, preferably running.  Labs are exuberant, pushy, and playful.  They are wonderful companions for active individuals, and are quick learners with a working dog’s mentality.  They are the perpetual puppies of the dog world, and if not given enough exercise, attention, and training, Labs can develop a number of annoying, even destructive behaviors.  In the right hands, they are probably one of the most wonderful dog breeds available.  They love an active owner who has lots of time and patience for outdoor activities. Consequently, I passed by B.B. at the Humane Society without a second glance.

According to the description on his suite, B.B. was an 85 pound Labrador/Shepherd mix. He was listed as high energy with a play style tending towards “rough and tumble.” he actually looked a lot like a Pit Bull mix to me, and I was under express instructions (from landlord and roommate) not to adopt a bully breed (I love Pitties, by the way but society’s prejudices prevail).  Instead, I was looking at a much smaller female Labrador mix in the same hallway.  I asked to visit her and she rolled over on her back and let me rub her belly.  She seemed calm, submissive, and gentle.  In other words, very Dane-like but lab size.

The adoptions counselor sat with us and asked questions about what kind of care we can provide, the size of our yard and fence and our lifestyle.  He was very thorough.  He took the female Labrador to the cat room to see how she responded to the cats since we had a nineteen year old cat at the time.  After talking with me for a while, he said that he thought another dog would fit better in our home.  I was open to suggestions, so we went to visit B.B. in the suite down the hall. The San Diego Humane Society has a beautiful, luxurious campus with large, home-like suites for the dogs and cats. B.B. had his own couch, and he was sitting on it like a king surveying his territory. 

B.B. was the opposite of calm, submissive, and gentle.  While the adoptions counselor and I sat on the couch, B.B. jumped back and forth between us, bonking us on the head with one of his squeaky toys.  We went over his history and the questionnaire provided by the previous owner. B.B. had been transported from the South Mississippi Humane Society in April, 2007 when he was only a few months old. He may have been born in the shelter or relinquished as part of an unwanted litter. A San Diego family adopted him in the summer of 2007 and returned him in late 2008.  They have listed numerous reasons for the relinquishment one of which was his rough play style.  He had some basic training and behaved well in the cat room. 

The adoptions counselor felt that the other dog would not be a good fit for our home because she had never lived in a house before. She had been an outside dog.  B.B. was house trained and, according to the previous owner, had slept in a child’s bedroom. The fact that we have a spacious fenced yard, and that I was willing to take a large dog may have prompted the adoptions counselor’s confidence that B.B. was the best choice.  I had a hard time believing this though, while this huge lab was jumping on my back and smacking his squeaky octopus on the top of my head.  We took him out in the parking lot for a walk and he nearly pulled me off my feet. “See,” said the counselor, “he walks great on a leash.”

In the end, I decided that B.B. needed me more than I needed a dog that suited my expectations and lifestyle to a T.  And he has many, many good qualities.  He is completely housebroken, and has never destroyed anything here. B.B. usually has human company, but he does not get anxious when left alone.  He always comes when called even in off-leash areas.  He learns commands quickly and responds very well to positive reinforcement.  Although he is still not a great walker (and we have outlawed squeaky toys), he is a wonderful companion and coexists well with other animals.  Over the past five years, B.B. has welcomed numerous fosters and boarders of all sizes, a new cat, and a Macaw. 

Sometimes I share B.B.’s misadventures for comic relief but he really is a good dog, and we are glad that he found us.

B.B. loves to have one or two boarders to keep him company. Check out our website for services and rates, or contact us with questions.

If you are looking for a Labrador, check out Labradors and Friends or search Petfinder for a dog needing rescue near you.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Adventures in Boarding

B.B. has had a number of visitors in the past few weeks as we have opened our doors to boarding on a limited basis. Boarders must meet with B.B.'s approval, and fortunately he is accustomed to having a number of different species around!

With mom out running around all day, sometimes B.B. gets a little lonely. He has a great big yard to romp in but sometimes, no one has time to play! And Sweet Pea is a very dignified cat. Playing with a dog is beneath her.

Sweet Pea, as well as B.B., is wonderfully tolerant of small creatures. Here she is comforting one of our rescue fosters, Henny. She is happy to share a lap -- although Henny is not so sure about it.

Some cats are predatory towards small animals and birds. Sweet Pea is only casually curious about rodents and birds. She stops by the guinea pigs' cage once a day, nods and moves on. And she occasionally acknowledges our Macaw, Snickers, from a safe distance.

Last week we had a visiting Macaw and a lovely Australian Shepherd who was very tolerant of B.B.'s playful nature. B.B. loves small dogs the best, and we had a couple rainy day visitors who were terrier mixes. B.B. likes to get down on the floor and show his belly so that little dogs know he is gentle.

We decided that, in offering boarding, we would have only as many guests as we could provide a home-like environment for and plenty of special attention. A "home away from home," for pets whose owners are away working or taking a vacation. We are currently remodeling our Luxury Exotics Suite to provide large, comfortable, species-appropriate environments for rabbits and rodents. Look for pics of the remodeling soon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sweet Pea Settles In

Sweet Pea has been living with us for six months now, since the day a young woman with kids in tow handed her to me outside the El Cajon Petco. She has made our house her home, and its people her servants. Sweet Pea has a charming personality, excellent manners, and has reminded me of how much I missed having kitty whiskers in the house. Here are some of Sweet Pea's favorite activities.

1. Sleeping on my computer chair. This is her favorite spot in the whole house, despite the availability of beds, couches, and a comfortable overstuffed La-Z-Boy. If I need to use the computer, Sweet Pea will begrudgingly let me perch on the edge of the chair. Sometimes she will sit on the floor below the chair, glaring at me with her ears to the side and a very annoyed expression. This is HER chair.

2. Lounging on her cat tree. My roommate, who is an excellent woodworker, made the cat tree from scratch. He used Sisal rope for two of the legs and covered two of the perches in fleece. At first, Sweet Pea was not at all aware that the cat tree was for her. She was scratching on the carpet until we started sprinkling dried catnip on the perches. Now she spends a great deal of time there. And since the cat tree is located directly behind the computer chair, it provides a great place from which to glare at me while I am typing.

By the way, if you would like a custom cat tree, email us at

3. Hanging out with B.B. Sweet Pea is not the least bit afraid of our 90-pound Lab and has made it known that he is not to enter her comfort zone. B.B. respects the cat's authority and wisely keeps his distance. We think they enjoy the company, and they can often be seen sharing the sunny patch that comes through our screen door in the afternoons. They don't exactly cuddle up together, but they co-exist peacefully and respectfully.

4. Communing with Spike. Spike is one of our guinea pigs. He is a big tough guy and doesn't care for other guinea pigs. Spike is not afraid of the cat. So they get "floor time" together in the hallway, and Sometimes wind up sleeping about a foot apart. Spike has learned that as long as he stays about one foot away from Sweet Pea, she will largely ignore him. If he comes to close, she swats the air with her paw and he runs away. They are an odd couple. The other guinea pigs do not enjoy her company, and run and hide if she comes to visit.

5. Lap time. Like most cats, Sweet Pea chooses when and with whom she wishes to be affectionate. Usually in the evenings (around feeding time), Sweet Pea finds the warmest lap and politely parks her fluffy self. This is her lounging half on the couch and half on my chest. She loves back scratches, head scratches, and hugs.

We are really glad that Sweet Pea came into our life and it looks like she is too!

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 2012 Fun for Pet Lovers!

Looking for some fun, pet-themed activities in October? San Diego has a wide array of events designed for animal lovers, starting this weekend with the San Diego Pet Expo:

San Diego Pet Expo ---- Hundreds of pet product vendors will be showcased at the annual festival, which will include round-the-clock animal entertainment, speakers, pet adoptions and more. Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar Time: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. October 13 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 14 Admission: $6, adults; $5, seniors; $3, juniors (6-16); free, 5 and under; $10 parking For more info check out the website at or download a program here.

Looking for a more exclusive  evening uptown with your well-dressed pet ? The Escondido Humane Society’s dog-friendly Tails at Twilight Gala features hosted wine and beer, delectable dining, and a lively auction benefiting the shelter.

Vintana at Lexus Escondido, 1205 Auto Park Way
Time:  5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission:  Ranging from $125 for individual tickets to $2,250 for a VIP table for 10.

Read more about the event here.

For active pets and owners who would like to support charity as well, Leash Your Fitness is holding its third annual breast cancer fund raiser on Sunday, October 14. It features a stair climbing challenge between teams of different levels formed for easy, moderate and all out climbing followed by a relaxing yoga stretch. Dogs are welcomed and encouraged to attend the event as are spectators. There will be a large raffle of some great prizes and homemade doggy and human treats on sale.

Location: The San Diego Convention Center 111 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
Time: 8:00am to 9:30am October 14
Admission:  $30 per person. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Read more about the event here.

FACE Foundation LogoLooking for even more exercise? Try the iSweat4Pets™ Nature Dog Walk. This unique, dog-friendly walk will feature multiple trails for every fitness level and an exciting pet-friendly vendor village. Festivities also include a raffle drawing with multiple prizes up for grabs, and cute doggie costumes are encouraged. Sponsored by the FACE Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity that provides financial assistance for San Diego pets in need of life-saving veterinary care.

Location:  San Dieguito County ParkTime: Saturday, October 27th from 10am-1pm
Admission: Varies from $35 to $1,000 depending on level of sponsorship desired.

Read more about the event here.

On October 28, that Kiwanis Club of Ocean Beach will hold its Seventh Annual Ocean Beach Canine Carnival. It’s a free party for the dog-loving community featuring games, costume prizes, and a doggie costume parade plus food and a street fair with goodies for pets and people.

Location: Dusty Rhodes Park – west side across from Robb Field
(Sunset Cliffs Blvd. at Nimitz Blvd.)
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Admission:  Admission to the canine carnival is free, but dogs must register to take part in the contest/parade. Registration fee: $7 for a single dog, $10 for groups of dogs, $10 for floats

Read more about the event here.

For more information call 619-225-8705, or e-mail

Of course, there will be many Halloween-themed celebrations throughout San Diego with pet costume contests and parades. Click the links for dates and more information:

Muttropolis is holding a costume contest at each store location (Solana Beach, Newport Beach, La Jolla);
Seaport Village welcomes pets to its second annual Halloween Bash on the Bay;
The Hornblower will host its 4th Annual Bow Wow Brunch Cruise and Halloween Dog Costume Contest;

Check out even more pet events listed at the San Diego Dog Training Blog's events calendar. 

If your pet-friendly event isn't listed, feel free to email details to

Happy October!