Pet Insurance? How do you choose?

It wasn’t until my older Schnauzer got an undiagnosed stomach issue in 2008 that I questioned the need for carrying insurance. We had spent countless hours in the vet’s office and subsequent specialist offices to determine the root cause of him throwing up all the time. He was getting more and more lethargic as time went by and the next recommendation was exploratory surgery. This story has a happy ending for our brave dog Schumi who lived another 2 years after that ordeal, but not without great cost to us.

We all will do anything for our pets (they are family afterall) and we were fortunate to have the means to do so but we learnt our lesson pretty quickly. Those vet bills add up quickly when something goes wrong. We now have insurance to cover the big expenses and have a deductible that we feel comfortable with. No insurance is going to cover you 100% for everything without a great deal of expense and there is such a big list of exclusions that it is difficult to make sense of everything when trying to decide which company to go with.

When I came across this article from, I thought of my clients and would encourage you to take a read through this article on best pet insurance options so you can compare and see what can fit the needs of your pet and your budget.  Its a quick read and I hope you benefit from it.

Happy Holidays everyone, stay healthy and please give our friends a big hug and kiss from everyone here at Kritterly.

Linda and the Kritterly crew

What is a “mat” anyway?

This is one happy puppy who had no mats and who was ecstatic about her grooming experience!

Despite Matt (my youngest son) being one of my favorite humans, a “mat” embedded in a dog (or cat’s) fur is another beast to deal with entirely! I often hear my grooming clients tell me that they brush their dogs daily, but here, I wanted to get to the nitty gritty of those pesky matts.

A dogs coat has two layers: an undercoat and a top coat. Most dog parents who brush daily are only getting to the top coat and on the surface, but this could make matting worse by pushing all the loose fur and tangles closer to the skin. When brushing the top coat of dogs with thick undercoats (for example Doodles), you have to part the hair in sections to really get to brushing the undercoat (this is called “line brushing”). Different brushes are available for different breeds to get at this undercoat and it takes time and patience to get the job done properly.

Typically, the thick mats that we find in a clump on a dogs undercoat roll themselves into a mush of fur, pulling other hair from those adjacent to the mat itself. Think of tumbleweed that picks up bits of sticks and dirt as it tumbles – it grows. So too can a mat grow – but the problem is, that its still attached to the dogs skin and can pull at the skin thereby hurting the fur baby. The groomers only compassionate solution in this event is to gently cut the mat away from the skin, which is a delicate process as the skin becomes thinner and easier to cut the longer it sits under the mat.

My best advice to parents of dogs with an undercoat:

  1. Brush daily (not just the superficial top coat brush, but get to the undercoat).
  2. Schedule regular appointments with your groomer. You will be saving money in the long run if your groomer doesn’t have to remove many mats. 4-6 weeks is normal with a daily home routine makes grooming a pleasant experience for everyone.
  3. Consider your lifestyle….if you have small children, a full time job, your own hobbies etc – its probably best to keep your dogs locks shorter. This requires less brushing and is easier for your dog and his/her groomer when it comes time to have him professionally groomed.
  4. Brush your dog every time it gets wet. This includes a run around your yard on a morning when the grass is full of dew. Mats form on wet hair and for easier when there is dirt and grass hanging around.
  5. Talk to your groomer on how to maintain your dogs coat during grooming appointments.

Give me a call and I can talk you through those inbetween grooming rituals.

Authentic luxury


I recently stayed in one of San Francisco’s oldest hotels, described as “pairing classic ambiance with modern amenities and providing accommodations that are a testament to luxury, featuring blah blah blah”.  This was a room paid for by a vendor who flew me out there to speak at OracleWorld.  And while I was grateful,  I got to be honest, I was a bit repulsed by the fake gold everywhere and ostentatious furnishings of the lobby area as well as the rooms.   It got me thinking…. how have I committed to my doggy parents that they are getting a ‘luxury’ experience?

For those who have dropped their babies off at Kritterly, firstly – thank you!  I’m 100% sure that you will not find one ounce of fake gold anywhere on our property.  Nor will you find a butler opening our door.  You wont find fake smiles, or soaps in the shapes of grapes or a water cooler with cucumber slices waiting for you as you walk in the door.

What we define as luxury is all about the authenticity ….from the time we first interact, to the time your dog is back with you, you can be guaranteed of a safe, loving and nurturing environment for your pet.  A truly authentic experience where you can go away for the day, or for the month and know that your baby is being cared for in the way you would want him to be cared for.  Being loved and held when he is feeling insecure; being integrated into a family environment without any stress.

Luxury to me is defined by peace of mind.  True luxury – being on vacation, or on a work trip and not having any guilt or worry over where or how my dog is doing. To know that every detail is taken care of in the way I would want it taken care of.   By not having to rush to pick up my dog to meet a closing time; by seeing how happy my dog is in the pictures I receive.  Luxury is in my service to you, the pet owner.  (And yes, the dogs love the estate and pool and geese – that just comes with the territory).

I would love your feedback on other elements we can incorporate into the luxury experience for you while boarding your dogs at Kritterly.


Vacationing with your dog

lake dog
Mack watching his boys go out on the kayak

This week we had the luxury of spending time at a beautiful house on Lake Gaston, NC.  It was the perfect house, complete with a dock which the boys jumped off and spent many happy hours swimming and playing on the water mat, they went kayaking, tubing, played table tennis and board games.  Dave and I spent our time swinging on the chairs on the dock, catching up on reading, enjoying a glass of wine and watching the activities on the lake.  Sounds perfect doesn’t it? 

My mistake…..we brought the dogs.  Now I know this statement is going to be met with criticism, and those who know me know that I live for my dogs.  We love them with all our hearts, but what we actually needed was a dog free week.  I needed my own Kritterly.  The yard wasn’t fenced and I was constantly worried about the boys leaving doors open (why do teenagers lose their hearing?)  My Holly girl is such a ninny with bad weather that the lake effect weather (perfect mornings with an hour or two of severe thunderstorms in the evening) had her hiding in every nook and cranny she could find.  Mack came back from walks with ticks and we spent an hour every day combing through his and Holly’s fur to make sure there weren’t any hitchhikers; they woke up at their normal time at 5am and demanded to be let out and have breakfast before 6am (they don’t know it was a vacation and we were supposed to be sleeping in); Mack needed to be tethered on the dock as all he wanted to do was swim after the boys.  We were constantly getting up from the comfort of the swing chair to untangle his 30 foot leash which was tied around a pole.  He was barking at the boys who were squealing with delight as they found more creative ways to jump into the lake.  I was concerned we were disturbing this Utopian peace with loud Schnauzer barks.

My point is this….we all need a break from our dogs.  That doesn’t make us bad dog parents, quite the contrary – we appreciate them far more when we have been away from them.  You get to relax without the constant worry (as long as you know they are being boarded in an environment that you are comfortable with).  There will always be those vacations I couldn’t imagine without our dogs (Outer Banks anyone?) but for next time, when I really need to relax, my four footers need to stay with someone who I trust and who love my dogs just as much as I do.  That’s peace of mind!

From the boardroom in heels to boarding and heeling…


The picture on the left is what used to be in my closet and what I would wear every day through the streets of International cities.  The picture on the right is what I wore last week to work.  I was as close to the Mexican border as I have ever been…literally a stones throw from the scene you see in movies, with customs officers checking under vehicles with little mirrors in overcrowded customs lanes.  My reason for being there was legit…I was assessing the risk of a business venture but it got me thinking about my journey.

This has been an  exhilarating effort, one in which I am controlling the ending (kind of like the new Netflix shows where you choose the storyline).  I have proven just how wrong the corporate 9-5 is about an individual’s value.  We are measured through performance evaluations which put us on a bell curve and through that, we get given a rating to help determine our ‘usefullness’ to the company.  I fought so hard to get to a position of leadership and I am truly grateful for the experiences and connections that I built over 25 years of global consulting.  But it did mean that I put my own life experiences on the backburner for a corporate career.

By choosing this path, I have created a more balanced approach to life.  This is a gift that everyone has the opportunity to create, including you.  Its the gift that keeps on giving…I have more time for my two amazing boys and my husband who never runs out of support.  I’m not working on vacations any longer have total control over my own self-awareness.

My value is now self created and I can see it on the faces of the pet owners who pick up their pets after a time of boarding their dog with us.  Its in the messages of thanks that owners send while they are on vacation and who are not worrying about their dogs in commercial day care facilities; its in the gratitude expressed when a previously unruly dog goes home with just a little more control after being trained while boarding.

Luxury in-home pet care in Raleigh/Durham has just taken a new voyage with Kritterly….and guess who loves being the Captain!

Its all about perspective…


While trying to catch up on some TV shows during the rain yesterday, I was surrounded by three of our visitors (and Mack) who had no concept of personal space. The only four footer that wasn’t on top of me was my Holly girl who likes to near, but not close enough for me to pull in for cuddles. At first I was mildly annoyed by not being able to see the vacant expressions of the Batchelors as they waited patiently for the final rose, but then this (⇑) happened.

I was reminded of why I left my consulting life and why I started Kritterly.  The perspective I had from that couch was exactly what I had wanted and what I had created.  One family’s son had got engaged and Nutmeg wasn’t one of the 50 guests invited to the party her parents were throwing (she is the spaniel on the right).  Her parents wanted to focus on their family and their guests knowing that she was in a loving home environment.  Cooper is the white lab on the floor watching the nose to nose interaction with Nutmeg and Mack. His sister, Lily is in the background minding her own business. Their parents are away for a much needed break and needed one on one care for their two labs.

While trying to watch TV, I had my own reality series right in front of me… and it dawned on me.  In that moment, I was the happiest I could be.


A little wine, a little song….

…..and I would have been dancing if it wasn’t so damn hot!

What a perfect day to have a glass of wine and learn from the immensely talented Frank Vallero from Packman Dog Training & Better Behavior.   Frank has taught me so much about dog behavior and has given me the confidence I have here at Kritterly.

We had dogs who began the afternoon afraid of the water,  swimming yesterday.  Frank was not shy – he got in the pool with the dogs and helped them build confidence and had them swimming by the time the bottle of wine was done (which didn’t take long).

I was in my happy space close to my furry friends, talking to my human friends, kids and family nearby in almost perfect weather here in NC.  The boarders with us had a blast and were intellectually and physically stimulated and not sitting in kennels with 30 other dogs listening to barking all day.

GREAT WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY AFTERNOON (now that my beloved Canes are taking a break).


The Busy Executive Dog Mom

Dear BUSY Raleigh Dog Moms:

I get it. I get it. I get it.

The corporate hustle and grind with living in The Triangle. And the guilt that goes along with it.

I lived it for what seems like a lifetime. And being that self-less, amazing woman,

you worry too much about your pup and the care they deserve.

I know how it feels. Another restless night in a hotel or overnight flight.

The screaming rush home in the 540/40 traffic to see your pup before it gets dark

and another late night conference call.


Just because you have a demanding, hectic schedule doesn’t mean your a “bad dog mom”. In fact, you’re an amazing one.

I promise you this. Honor this in yourself.

And there is help out there designed just for you.