Introducing Our New Associate Editor!

Today I am very excited to tell you that we have a new Associate Editor,

Doug White!

Doug White

Doug came to work for us at Your Pet Space in April of this year, and quickly has become one of our best all around dog handlers, front desk assistants and merchandisers!  Many of you reading this have interacted with Doug at the front desk on Monday or Tuesday evenings, checking your dogs in or out.

Here is even more about Doug:

Doug has worked in customer service for over 24 years, with 13 years of that experience being at Chuck E. Cheese’s. (And, yes, he wore the mouse costume throughout that adventure). He has four little four-legged munchkins in his family named Peeta, Clyde, Oreo, and Peggy Sue. After adopting Clyde from Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in 2013, he began volunteering for the organization. This experience ignited a passion for learning about different dog breeds and individual dogs’ varying personalities. Doug is a huge country music fan, an avid reader of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, and a (very) amateur gardener and hiker.

Doug plans to sit for his Professional Animal Care Provider exam in October, and we have no doubt he’ll pass with flying colors!



1) Purchases content
2) Promotes the publication to be an editorial and commercial success
3) Manages the magazine so that it provides readers with high quality content
4) Defines the editorial positions/hires new editors
5) May assist with posting content to the site

Jessica/Managing Editor

1) suggests ideas, receives article pitches
2) assigns article ideas to the editors
3) handles problems, keeps the editorial staff on schedule and answers questions from department editors
4) determines the importance of articles and what goes up in what order
5) May assist with posting content to the site

Doug/Associate Editor

  1. Assists the Managing editor and the Publisher with…
  2. Writing, editing, story selection
  3. Receives and sifts through the submissions and sends the best to the Managing Editor, who will confer with the Publisher on selections
  4. Posts selected content to the site

I’m very excited for those of you who will get to interact with Doug for the first time.  He’s a lot of fun, and very kind and caring to our pet cadets!

Again, Congratulations, Doug!

Introducing Our New Managing Editor!

Today I am very excited to tell you that we have a new Managing Editor,

Jessica Smith!

Jessica came to work for us at Your Pet Space just before Christmas last year, and we couldn’t have asked for a better holiday gift!  Many of you reading this have interacted with Jessica as my second at the front desk at Your Pet Space, spoken to her on the phone or received a few of her e-mails.  Perhaps you’ve even read some of her writing on pets, which shows up regularly here in our online magazine, or seen her charming Instagram posts that include your pets, all smiling and trending.

Here is even more about Jessica:

Having been raised in a household full of dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and all things furry, Jessica’s love of animals has only grown over the years. She is currently volunteering for Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in her free time when she isn’t out and about with her ridiculous pit bull mix, Annabel Lee, or taking care of her two gold fish, Carrot Cake and Winchester. She is also putting her literature degree to use by working as an editor for a local online magazine, Independent Noise. While she has no plans for the future, she knows that it will be filled with fur and fiction galore.

Thanks to client John Hesse’s endorsement, Jessica will also be sitting for her Professional Animal Care Provider exam in June, and we have no doubt she’ll pass with flying colors!



1) Purchases content
2) Promotes the publication to be an editorial and commercial success
3) Manages the magazine so that it provides readers with high quality content
4) Defines the editorial positions/hires new editors
5) May assist with posting content to the site

Jessica/Managing Editor

1) suggests ideas, receives article pitches
2) assigns article ideas to the editors
3) handles problems, keeps the editorial staff on schedule and answers questions from department editors
4) determines the importance of articles and what goes up in what order
5) May assist with posting content to the site

I’m very excited for those of you who will get to interact with Jessica for the first time. I have found her a pleasure to work with in every capacity, as she treats every single pet, whether here at the facility or in print, as if it were her own.

If you haven’t yet seen her writing, a couple of her previously submitted articles are here:

My Dog Has Allergies: Now, What?

Feeding Dogs Human Food: How To Change Your Ways

Congratulations again, Jessica!

Why Pet Care Certification Matters

Do you know what type of pet care certification the staff at your daycare facility has obtained?  What about your pet sitter?  You likely checked into the proper certifications for your child care provider, or those folks who care for your elderly parents.  And people often ask pet care providers about being insured and bonded, but seldom about the knowledge and best practices of people who care for our pets—our beloved, furry family members.

Many people don’t realize that several years went by—and many, many new pet care facilities were established during this time–in which the only animal care certifications available for our industry were simply pieces of paper you bought on the internet.  Nowadays, thanks to organizations such as the IBPSA and PACCC, and companies such as PetTech and The Dog Gurus, real training and actual certifcations are available, by means of real courses and testing centers.

And yet, there are still many facilities today that don’t bother to obtain them.

CPACP certs

Your Pet Space is proud that our owners are the only two people in the state of New Mexico that are Certified Professional Animal Care Providers (CPACPs).  In the words of PACCC, we are “members of an elite group of pet care professionals who have successfully demonstrated comprehensive pet care knowledge and passion for pet safety”.

The Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) recently conducted an independent certification exam locally for pet care providers. The exam content was created by a team of industry expert volunteers under the guidance of the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), the third-party testing organization that administered the exam and certified the results.

To initially qualify to take the CPACP exam, Dave and I had to meet minimum education requirements, have a minimum of 500 hours of experience, and provide letters of reference from veterinarians and other pet care industry professionals, as well as some of our clients. The in-depth 125-question examination covered animal care topics including health, nutrition, dog fight and bite protocol, on-leash and off-leash interaction, sanitation, dog behavior and temperament, dog body language, dog training, animal and handler safety, vaccination protocol, workflow management, pathogen control, emergency and quarantine protocols, air quality standards, staff management expectations, and much more.

Our PACCC certification is only a part of what Your Pet Space will be doing to create a growing team of independently certified pet care professionals. We look forward to the next opportunity so our staff can sit for their initial exam, and Dave and I for the next level.  We are so proud to be able to demonstrate through PACCC’s independent certification our dedication to pet safety for our clients and community.  Pets are family members, and their ‘parents’ should feel confident they are receiving the highest level of care.

First Aid And CPR certs

In addition to our PACCC certifications, all but our very newest staff have trained with an instructor in pet First Aid and CPR via PetTech.  We rarely have to use any of our first aid skills, and it would be super rare to need to use our CPR knowledge—but we have it…just in case.

Group of dogs

Xena, Garrett and Marley relax in our Super Nova module, while Morgan and Finn are in the Space Cadet and Shooting Star areas.

What Are Best Practices For Daycare/Boarding Facilities?

1.)  Assessment of all new dogs (and periodic re-assessment).  Contrary to what some facility owners believe, not all dogs are suited for or enjoy daycare.  Our Assessments inform us at the outset of a dog’s tolerance for the stress of new situations, who his best playmates are, and what type of play is suitable for him.  The initial Assessment Day teaches the dog that Your Pet Space is a safe place to play, even with new dogs and people, and that Mom and Dad always return, whenever they come to see us.

2.)  Appropriate dog playgroups for size and age.  Inside, Your Pet Space offers a small dog play area called The Tribble Zone, a senior dog area: The Milky Way, a puppy play area for our Space Cadets, a Shooting Star area for jumping dogs and the Super Nova module for larger, active dogs with a chasing playstyle.  On the exterior, we have the large outside yard, The Mesosphere, and a smaller dog area called The Stratosphere. Most important: There are never more than 10 dogs in a single playgroup.

3.)  Appropriate staff to dog ratio.  We ask our clients to try to either call to schedule the day before their dog is coming, or schedule on a recurring basis (the same days each week) so that we can ensure we have an adequate number of staff inside to safely supervise the dogs.  Proper certification educates facility owners to allow for 1 person for every 10 dogs, on average.  Sometimes, we provide even more staff, if we have a day with very active groups.

speak dog

4.)  Proper knowledge of dog body language.  In any facility, the staff on site must be able to head off behavioral issues (fights and bites) before they occur.  This is accomplished by understanding of the body language dogs routinely display while playing, when they’re stressed, and especially when there is about to be an altercation.  A daycare facility is not like your average dog park, where unknown dogs are turned out into an area together without assessment, division of sizes/ages, proper supervision and little or no knowledge of how dogs signal their intentions to one another.  In this sort of situation, dogs are often expected to “work it out” on their own—resulting in a fight.  Certification ensures that almost all of the time, this will not happen with us.

5.)  Proper knowledge of pet health and safety.  In order to gain CPACP status, Dave and I were required to understand how to inhibit transmission of zoonotic and vector borne disease as well as parasites within our facility, as well as demonstrate our knowledge of proper sanitation procedures on a day to day basis.  Also, there was a testing section devoted expressly to the safety of and escape plan for pets and staff within our facility due to an emergency.

trauma kit

Questions To Ask Yourself

In closing this article, I’d like to speak directly to that person reading this and thinking, “Well, I’ve taken my dog(s) to the same place for years and there has never been a problem.  Besides, it’s closer/cheaper/hours are better.”

Let me ask you this: How many incidents at an uncertified facility are ok?  How bad do they have to be before they’re a concern for you?  Would you rather pay a certified pet care provider or pay the vet when your pet is hurt or becomes ill?

If you live near Your Pet Space in Las Cruces, know that we do provide transport, home care for all types of pets, and offer many discounts for our services.  We will even work with you on drop off and pickup times.

So make sure your pet is safer….in a PACCC.

For more information about PACCC and independent certification, visit

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area. Her urban fiction book Indigo was recently published. When not working at Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as humor. You can e-mail her at or follow Your Pet Space on Facebook.

What to Look For In A Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Alpha Quadrant YPS Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Vessa, relaxing in the Alpha Quadrant at Your Pet Space

Dave and I have had dogs all our lives–and long before we went into the profession of caring for dogs, we needed to board ours, once in awhile.  We tried a couple of places…and had some variation in experiences.  As you might imagine, we can tell you about even more that others have had, now that we are in the business, ourselves.  It wasn’t actually until we were going through training to have our own facility that we understood what exactly had happened when our dogs came home tired, stressed and somehow just…different.  So, if you’ve ever experienced any of the issues mentioned below, it might be time to consider a change for your dog.  The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a time to tour a prospective new facility.  Note that although some areas may be off limits on a tour due to reasonable liability issues if you were injured, you should be allowed to see most areas where your dog will be staying, when you ask.

Things To Ask When Touring a Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

1.) Do you perform an assessment of all dogs entering your facility?  If so, which dogs are accepted or not, and why?

If the facility you’re considering accepts all dogs whether they are known to be aggressive or not, or whether they are fixed or not, you need to know this in advance.

Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Mandy, Sollie, Julie and Joey, separated from the larger dogs at Your Pet Space

2.) Do you separate large from small dogs?  How do you determine my dog’s playgroup?  How large are your playgroups?

Size and age matter.  How your dog plays does, too.  Dogs have four playstyles–and sometimes will exhibit more than one.  So a knowledgeable facility will place your dog in a group appropriate for the way he plays–whether your dog is a puppy or a couch potato.  And there shouldn’t be more than 10 dogs or so in one playgroup.

3.)  How will my dog be introduced to the others on his first day?

No matter the dog’s age, playstyle or size, you do not want your dog overwhelmed by being thrust into a strange gaggle of dogs with no warning.  Your dog should be introduced to one dog at a time, lowest energy dog first.  After all, would you want to be shoved into the faces of a large number of unknown people in a crowded rooom?

Dave and pack, Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Dave, supervising dogs in the Your Pet Space Milky Way area

4.)  How many people do you have supervising your playgroups?

It is simply impossible for one person to properly supervise a group of more than 15 dogs–and ideally the ratio should be 1 for every 10 dogs.  In groups of large, active dogs the proper ratio might be more like 1 to every 5.  So a lot depends on the size and activity level of the dogs. These staff members should also be inside with the dogs, not observing them with a camera or through a window.

Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

6,000 square foot indoor play area at Your Pet Space

Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

3,000 sq ft patio and front yard at Your Pet Space

5.) When and for how long does my dog get to be outside?  And where do they play when it’s too hot, cold or raining, windy, etc.

Every facility handles this differently.  Some have large interior play spaces.  Others have more outdoor space than inside.  If you dog is going to play indoors when the weather is inclement, how often will he go outside for potty time? Will he have an enclosed outdoor place to go or will someone be walking him?  If the only place to play is outdoors for most of the day, and it’s hot or cold, how will he be made comfortable?  Is there shade and are enough yard misters present to keep him cool?  Is there warm shelter outside in the winter and how long are dogs left outside?   Really think about worst case scenario, here.  Dogs should not be outside for more than a few minutes in above 100 degree weather–some breeds can only tolerate much, much less.  Some breeds don’t tolerate anything below 40 well without protection, while others are good for longer at colder temperatures.

Neutral Zone, Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Daysha, taking a break in the Your Pet Space Neutral Zone

6.)  Will my dog get a break from playing?  If so, when and where?

Think about what your dog does at home every day.  Sure, he plays–sometimes, a lot!  But it’s likely he rests a lot, too.  And in a large facility, if your dog doesn’t have a place to rest for awhile, he’s likely to go home injured and stressed.  So ask about how this is accomplished–will your dog be crated during the rest period?  If not, where’s the nap area and–if it’s communal–how is it supervised?

7.)  How is my dog fed while he’s with you?

Some facilities do this by crating each dog with his own food.  In cage free facilities, dogs should be fed one at a time.  Only dogs from the same household that are used to eating together without showing aggression should be fed together.

8.)  When my dog boards with you, is there someone on site?  If so, where?

Most facilities do not maintain on site staff overnight.  The staff leaves the dogs in their own runs for the night and returns in the mornings for cleanup of overnight messes, and to let out and feed the dogs.  Some facilities have staff on the premises, but in a separate building or on another floor from the dog guests.  A few have staff that remain with the dogs, all night long.  No matter which you choose for your pet, be aware that groups of uncrated dogs should never be left in a facility overnight without supervision.

Dave teaching, Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Dave re-directs Finley and London from neck biting play to playing with a toy.

9.)  If my dog’s behavior needs to be corrected, how is this accomplished?

All dogs play inappropriately from time to time.  The staff in a good facility will be trained to correct problem behavior in a positive manner–such as re-directing your dog to play a different way or with a different playmate.  Even time outs are ok, if they are brief with the purpose of cooling down an excited dog.  Brief training on the “leave it” command is great.  Hitting or the use of devices to deliver shocks are NOT okay.

Joy's CPR cert, Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

10.)  What certifications does the facility owner and staff have in animal care and safety?

Many people don’t know that several years went by during which the only animal care certifications available for our industry were simply pieces of paper you bought on the internet.  Nowadays, thanks to organizations such as the IBPSA and PACCC, and companies such as PetTech and The Dog Gurus, real training and actual certifcations are available, by means of real courses and testing centers.

11.)  Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, such as: What if my dog is injured or becomes ill?  How to you handle dogs that climb or escape?  How many bites or fights do you see a year?  How do you prevent fights?  How do you handle a dog fight?  What is your emergency plan for this building?

Every facility should know their policies on these matters and be able to explain them.  Moreover, they should be able to show you the answer to anything you ask.

Bottom Line–What to Watch For At Your Current Dog Facility

Stress Signs In Dogs On Arrival

Your dog is reluctant to enter, when he wasn’t previously

New stress behaviors such as a tucked tail or submissive urinating

Stress Signs In Dogs When Leaving Or At Home

Your dog has rolling eyes, heavy panting or is hoarse from too much barking

Collar sensitivity–when he previously accepted his collar being handled

New concerning behaviors such as leash aggression or perimeter barking

Your dog can’t ask for himself.  Now you know what to ask for him.


Joy Jones, YPS Dog Daycare/Boarding Facility

Joy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area. Her urban fiction book Indigo was recently published. When not working at Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as humor. You can e-mail her at or follow Your Pet Space on Facebook.

Ferrets: They’ll Steal Your Heart, Then Your Socks


I had neighbors who had ferrets growing up and I never wanted to own one because they were stinky. This was my first misconception about ferrets. We got our first ferret, Loki, a little more than a year and a half ago and I fell in love instantly. He was so cute, loving, and not stinky at all. As soon as we got him I began researching everything that I could about ferrets and one thing I came across, where I believe a lot of first time ferret owners make their mistake, is that bathing too often actually makes ferrets stink more. They only need to bathed once a month at the most. Bathing them more frequently strips away the oils in their skin and they produce more to compensate, and it’s these excess oils that smell. Another cause of the stink is having an intact male, but generally you will not come across an intact ferret in the United States, and I believe de-sexing a ferret is required before they can be sold in a pet store. Don’t get me wrong, ferrets still have a very distinct musky smell, but a healthy, de-sexed ferret does not smell any more than a dog or cat. They may even smell less in my opinion, and I have actually come to like the smell of ferrets. You definitely get used to it.

resting ferret

Feeding Your Ferrets

About four months after we got Loki we adopted Thor. From what we know, someone got him as a gift for someone and they did not want him so they surrendered him to Petco. When we brought him home, within five minutes he had explosive diarrhea. Ferrets have very sensitive digestive tracts and stress can cause diarrhea, but this was something much worse. After taking him to the vet we discovered he had an intestinal infection and he was on antibiotics for 10 days.

ferret playing

After adopting Thor, I really began looking at the food I was feeding my ferrets. As sensitive as their digestive tracts are, Thor’s is much more so. Ferret food should have high protein (at least 35%), high fat (at least 15%), and low fiber (no more than 3%). It is also best for their main source of food to be low in moisture. Dry food is better for the health of their teeth. You should also read the actual ingredients. The more meat based ingredients in the first five, the better quality the food is. What I like to look for in food as well, mainly because of Thor’s digestive issues, is some kind of probiotics, such as lactobacillus acidiphilus (the bacteria found in yogurt). It is the same logic behind eating yogurt; they help the good bacteria population in the intestines to help digest food. You will also want as little carbohydrates (sugar) as possible in your ferret food. Too much sugar in the diet may lead to insulinomas, or cancer of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. This is based on what I have read online from many different sources over the last two years and I am in no way a veterinarian or an expert in these matters, so I urge you to talk to your vet about such things before changing anything you do with your ferret, especially changing their diet. Not only did they go to school for many years to do their job, but they know your individual ferrets’ health better than anyone.

ferret looking up

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give about food is this: make sure you are feeding at least two different foods to your ferret(s). This is for a couple of reasons, but most importantly it is so your ferret will be used to more than one type or brand of food just in case you run out of one type and do not have the means to replace it right away or the company decides to discontinue the food you are currently feeding. I recently ran into this problem. When I first got both of my ferrets they were eating Marshall’s Ferret Food (what they usually feed them at pet stores). Once we adopted Thor I switched them to 8 in 1 Ultimate Crunchy Diet food. IMPORTANT ADVICE: when you switch your ferret onto a new food, or just add new food, you must do so slowly, over a period of at least two weeks. You should mix a small amount of the new food in with the old food and gradually increase the new food to allow your ferrets’ sensitive digestive tract to adjust. If you switch or add a new food too quickly your ferret may get diarrhea.

In the case of Thor, I once fed them a new duck soup one night and it was too much too soon, which actually resulted in a bit of bloody diarrhea. More recently, I had been reading about having more than one ferret food as part of their diet and I was actually in the process of researching new food to add when I tried to order more of the 8 in 1 I discovered it was out of stock on Amazon. I went to the one pet store in town that I knew still sold it. They were out and said they were not going to be receiving any more of that food. When looking online I discovered that this company was discontinuing that particular food. I was panicking a little because I only had a couple of days’ worth of food left. I decided to buy a small bag of the Marshall’s Ferret Food because they both used to eat it and I figured this would cause the least upset. Just in case, I supplemented them with 1/8 teaspoon of low sugar yogurt while I switched them to Marshall’s and continued giving it to them until I switched them to their new food, which is now Sheppard and Greene Ferret Food. I know that there is a lot of debate online about what are quality ferret foods and the foods I have fed do not usually qualify as “high quality” but as long as your ferrets are healthy and the foods do not cause any adverse effects, in my opinion they are fine. It is the same as with any dog or cat food. Once again, consult your vet with any questions, concerns, or recommendations. I urge any ferret owner not to wait, like I did, and end up in a bind if you do not have the means to replace your ferret food right away.

ferrets on grass

Ferrets In Hot Weather

Ferrets are originally from Europe and are more inclined for colder weather. Living in Las Cruces, New Mexico is not ideal for a ferret and having good air conditioning is a must. However, problems do arise and the last two summers we have had our refrigerated air unit break down on us. Since we live in an apartment, we cannot do anything about this ourselves and we have to wait for the facilities to come and fix it. Sometimes that can take a few days, or even a week. The first summer that this happened I was not prepared and once again took to the internet to search for suggestions about how to keep my babies cool. Before I was able to look all of this up, I immediately put my ferrets in our closet, which they love exploring anyway, because our closets are always much cooler than the rest of the apartment. If it gets over 80 degrees ferrets can have a heat stroke and can even die. I took the top off their extra cage and filled the base with some cool (not cold!) water and let them explore it on their own, because my ferrets do not like to be forced into water. I also turned a storage tub on its side, placed a damp hand towel on the bottom of it, and placed it in a cool area. This is supposed to simulate a mud wallow and can help keep ferrets cool without them getting completely wet. I put a frozen bottle of water in a sock, and put it in their cage. I now keep two or three frozen water bottles on hand all the time, just in case. When experiencing a heat situation such as this, it is even more important to keep your ferrets hydrated. When they start getting over heated, they will eat less food, sleep more, and when they are awake they will stay very low to the ground. At this point I sometimes take that damp hand towel and wrap them in it for a bit to help cool them down. If your ferrets’ nose starts getting really dry, they begin vomiting, or they pass out seek veterinary attention immediately. I hope no one experiences this, which is why I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared and know your ferret, so you can see the signs of when they are in trouble.

ferret at feet

Final Words

I really enjoyed writing this article and I love educating people on ferret care. If anyone has any specific questions about ferrets or would like me to go more in depth and write another article on a particular subject please email me at

Nicole Sanchez is a new addition to our staff of writers. Nicole has a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and is currently work at Mountain View Regional Medical Center. She has always loved animals and has cared for dogs, fish, turtles, hermit crabs, goats and more throughout her life. Two years ago Nicole and her fiancé got their first ferret and from there were hooked. Nicole has spent a lot of time learning about ferrets and trying to educate people who believe the mostly false stereotypes about these wonderful, highly intelligent creatures.

Things To Know Before Getting Your First Bird



Your First Bird

Birds make great pets. With their beautiful colors, wacky personalities, and high intelligence it’s no wonder you’re thinking about bringing home a birdy of your very own! Most people assume that birds are cute and easy caged pets but in reality that’s not the case. Birds, just like any other pet, have a tendency to make a mess, a desire to explore, and will even throw tantrums! So, before you take that final step to bring home a feathered friend, here are some things you’ll need to know.



Bird Species

Did you know that there are currently over 14.3 million pet birds in America? Ranging everywhere from Toucans to pigeons, each different species will have their own special needs that you as their owner will need to meet, so it’s important to research what kind of bird you want before heading down to the local pet store. The top ten most popular species for pet birds are: Cockatiels, African Greys, Conjures, Macaws, Cockatoos, Amazon Parrots, Poicephalus Parrots, Pionus Parrots, and Quaker Parrots. All of these little guys are extremely different from one another, anywhere from size, to loudness, to special needs, so make sure you choose a species that will fit well into your home lifestyle!



Fortunately there are some traits that most bird species share. For example, birds aren’t necessarily caged animals like a hamster or mouse; they need at least two hours of human interaction outside of their cage! And you can’t feed a bird on a seed diet alone! To prevent intestine diseases it’s important to look into the diet of the bird you choose and make sure to compare lots of food brands before deciding on what to feed your bird! I personally feed my bird Zupreem Pellets, because they give him the nutrients he needs!

African Grey Parrot

African Grey Parrot


In general, the larger a bird is, the longer its lifespan will be. Cockatoos will live from 50 to 70 years old, and Macaws and African Grays are known to live even past that so before buying make sure that you’re prepared to have your bird for the rest of your life and maybe even past that! This is especially important because birds bond with one human for life! It’s extremely difficult for a bird if you decide that you don’t want it.

bird bite


Just like puppies, birds have a tendency to bite, and these bites can range from nibbling to being able to break skin. You can easily train your bird to not bite, but keep it in mind for when you first bring Tweety home.  Lastly, remember that your emotion will affect your birds.  If you’re upset they’ll be upset but when you’re happy you’ll both be happy!
Everyone knows that some birds, such as Parrots, can talk and mimic sounds, making them highly desirable pets. If you do end up with one of these birds remember that, just like a human child, it will take time for them to learn how to speak, starting with basic sounds and slowly becoming more advanced. However, even if not all birds can speak, all of them are definitely loud. Their screeching and yelling can go all hours of the day and night, so make sure you don’t mind a little noise and be sure to read up on how to train your bird to sleep through the night with tricks like the blanket method.


Where to Get Your First Bird
If you still want a little Woodstock of your own, the last thing you’ll need to think of is where to purchase them. First, keep in mind that you’ll most likely be purchasing your bird without knowing its gender, which, in order to determine, you must undergo a $50 dollar DNA blood test. The easiest option is to buy at a local pet store, but the smarter option is to buy from a breeder. Bird breeders commonly hand feed and hand raise the birds, making the bird much more friendly and sociable. They also tend to be less expensive than a pet store, with up to a $400 saving for your pocket. Or, like other animals, you can choose to open your home to a bird with a past, whose previous owner has either abandoned them or passed away.

Now that you know a bit more about what it takes to own a Polly of your own, I hope that you and your new family member fly happily into the sunset!

Lilli Lopez

Lillianna Lopez, our Avian Editor, has been studying birds for four years and counting.
Ever since the age of three, Lillianna has been fascinated by animals.  In her life she has had Horses, Dogs, Cats, Birds, Guinea Pigs, and the occasional Millipede. Lillianna is known (and often yelled at) for taking in injured birds to try and help them back to health. She adores all animals and always loves to help anyone in need. Lillianna is currently a member of 4-H and participation in the dog project, and bird project.

Just When You Thought You Knew Us!


Someone once told me that opinions are like noses: everyone has one, they’re all different and no one is better than another.  I’ve found that mostly to be true.  In the world of pets, also, we know that each one is unique, even if certain things about their breed or training or age are similar.  It’s tempting, then, to think that once we draw a few conclusions about a pet we have the whole picture–when that can actually be pretty far from the truth.  Dave and I see changes in the pets we serve on a daily basis: new things we never realized about who they are, how they react to other pets and us. Essentially, one can never know all there is to know–because pets, like people, change and grow.

In the same way, we have seen that sometimes clients think they know all we have to offer–but they are surprised when we mention one thing or another we do.  So I thought I’d take the opportunity here to write about:

Things You Might Not Know About Your Pet Space


We care for all types of pets in the home. That includes:

  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Ferrets and other small pets
  • Horses and other livestock
  • Reptiles

cat in cone

We care for pets in their homes that are:

  • Unsocialized
  • Have a low immune system
  • Are older or fragile
  • Are currently fighting illness
  • Have a severe injury
  • Are very shy

YPS Petmobile

We provide transport.

Dave and I actually live on the opposite side of Las Cruces from our facility, so we’re back and forth from east to west a couple of times each day.  So it’s very easy for us to transport your pet to/from:

  • Our facility–for daycare or boarding
  • Your vet–for routine procedures
  • The groomer or dog wash
  • The airport–we can pickup your arriving pet or place your pet on a plane if it needs to join you elsewhere.

Often, our fee is only whatever the distance is off our usual route, not even the entire way!


Also, just some of our unique features are:

  • A 6,000 square foot temperature controlled indoor play space.
  • Cage/kennel free sleeping areas for pets with a daily naptime.
  • An Off Leash Play and Temperament Assessment for every new dog entering our facility.
  • Staff coached by certified trainers in dog body language and pet CPR and First Aid
  • Staff on site twenty-four hours with boarded pets at the appropriate ratio of dogs to people to keep them safely supervised.
  • A Fit Paws exercise program for dogs, offered twice weekly.
  • Visiting providers that offer pet reiki, chiropractic treatment, massage and reflexology.
  • Membership in the International Boarding and Pet Services Association, which requires all member facilities to adhere to its Code of Conduct concerning best practices for the pets in their care.

Would you like to know more about how our employees are trained and certified? Stop by YPS and let us show you the difference certification makes in the care of your pet!  

Get to know us better–you’ll be surprised what you find.

Your Pet Space, 3920 W. Picacho Ave, Las Cruces NM, 575-652-4404

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area. She is also a syndicated columnist whose book Indigo was recently published. When not working at Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as humor. You can e-mail her at as well as follow Your Pet Space on Facebook.

Ser Skiffington The Troubled Tabby: A Lesson on Declawing

Three years ago, I began looking for a companion to share my life with,
specifically, a kitten. When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me about
two cats that had come to the shelter days before in Artesia. My mother had
a friend who managed the shelter, so I was able to get in and see them
pretty quickly. I walked out of the Artesia Animal Shelter with two semi-adult
cats, both of whom were full of personality and quirks. The little longhair,
who was still a bit of a kitten, thought the world was her oyster. Whereas, the
timid tabby thought it was out to get him. Their previous owner had
declawed both of them, and the circumstances of their abandonment were a
mystery. The shelter had no names for the cats, no medical history, and had
only an estimate of how old the two were. They only knew that they had
been surrendered to them from the same person, and wanted them to leave
the shelter as a pair. After having them for a few days, and making it back to Las
Cruces with the pair, I decided on names; Lyra for the longhaired adventurer,
and Ser Skiffington (Skif for short), for my shy, but loving, tabby.
Skif quickly became attached to me, much more than Lyra (she
decided to take my boyfriend as her human). There was scarcely a moment
when I was home that he was not either next to me or in a spot where he
could see me. I learned all his quirks, and what his little chirps and meows
meant as he became my constant companion at home.

Skif and Leanne, the best of friends.

A Problem Emerges

A year after bringing these cats into my home, Skif began exhibiting
some unusual behaviors. He refused to use the litter box and developed
stress colitis. Then, he began sitting up and posing like a meerkat when he
wasn’t sauntering through the house. Concerned, and knowing about his
previous declaw, I immediately scheduled a visit to his veterinarian. After an
examination and x-rays, it was determined that Skif was suffering from a
common complication among declawed cats. Bone shards had been left in
his paw from the operation, and were not only trying to regrow nail, but
causing whatever did grow to be ingrown and extremely painful. The decision
was made that Skif would now have to undergo a painful surgery to correct
the problem. I will not tell you the rage I felt after being told that someone
else’s selfish decision forced me to put my best friend through a long,
painful surgery, because it truly is indescribable.
Ser Skiffington's x-rays showing the damage that the declawing process had caused internally.

Ser Skiffington’s x-rays show the damage that the declawing process had caused internally.

Deplorable Declawing

For the readers that are unfamiliar with this subject, declawing (or
onychectomy) has been recently redefined by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) as an amputation. Specifically, it is the amputation of the last digit in the paw. Cats are “digitigrade” which is simply a fancy way of saying that cats walk on their
toes. When a cat goes through a declaw procedure, it can take months for
recovery. The cat has to relearn how to balance, how to walk, and how to
shift their weight when jumping. Humans, although we don’t walk on our
toes, often have the same difficulties if even one toe is amputated from a
foot. Our toes, much like a cat’s, are essential to our physiology- the way
we’re built and work. Along with a shift in the way they hold themselves and
get around, there are other complications as well.
Some cats experience pain from bone shards left behind by a careless
doctor, like my Skif. Shards of bone left behind leads to secondary surgery for
the majority of cats, meaning more costs for the owner. After
going through this painful procedure, many cats begin to associate their litter boxes
with the pain in their paws, and begin to seek other, softer places to relieve
themselves. This is one of the top reasons declawed cats are abandoned in
shelters. Still, other cats can grow aggressive due to chronic pain and turn to
biting to defend themselves from an over enthusiastic human (another
reason for abandonment). As they grow older, declawed cats are also more
susceptible to developing arthritis because of their shifted physiology.

Skif showing symptoms of irritation or pain in his paws.

Pawsome Alternatives
If you or someone you know has a cat and is contemplating going
through with a declawing, I beg you to reconsider. There are many
alternatives to this awful procedure, including a product called Soft Paws that
acts as a cover for a cat’s claws. It falls off naturally with the growth of the
cat’s nails and can be reapplied easily. There are many variations of this product, which can be put on by your veterinarian, or at home. They generally last four to six weeks, and packs available in stores generally contain enough claw caps to last four to
six months.

Lyra and Ser Skiffington lounge on the couch together like loving siblings.

Another product available to cat owners is a furniture safe, pet
friendly, double sided tape called Sticky Paws. The method behind this
product is texture aversion. Cats often do not enjoy the stickiness of tape (or
even tin foil) on their paws, and learn to avoid the area. This method works
well when combined with encouraging the cat to scratch on an appropriate
surface, like scratching posts. Some owners may need to explore different
scratching post options, as cats can differ in their preference when
scratching. Some like a nice tall stretch whereas others like to scratch horizontally on
carpets and other materials on the floor. Finding your cat’s
preference is done by simply observing the areas and objects they love to scratch on the most. Catnip is an excellent way to encourage your cat to explore and
try out the new scratching posts. Sometimes multiple approved scratching
areas are needed in a house, in order to explore some different textures and
find one that your cat loves. My cats, although declawed, still retain their
scratching behavior, and often scratch on their cat tree. Some cats are not
interested in catnip, so treats and wet food also work well as a reward when
your cat uses the desired scratching area. With a few weeks of
consistent training and encouragement, you’ll be able to see a shift in behavior from
scratching furniture, to scratching the cat posts.

Skif’s deep gaze. Perhaps he’s trying to urge cat owners to not declaw their pets by attempting to stare into their souls? Or, maybe he’s just photogenic.

A Reminder: Scratching

Scratching is a natural behavior exhibited by cats in order to maintain
the health of their claws. It is also a way to deposit their scent, claiming ownership of
their surroundings and communicating with other pets in the home. It is up to us
as humans and caretakers of our furry companions to keep them safe and
healthy by exploring the safest way to redirect these “undesirable” behaviors,
rather than taking the “easy” way out. Speaking from personal experience,
declawing is not easy and it’s not quick. The simplest way to avoid
consideration for declawing is to start early with your cats. When you bring a
new kitten home (or even an adult cat) introduce them to the area or objects
that you’re fine with them scratching at. Use catnip, treats, and toys to
encourage interaction with the objects.
So here is a final plea from me, from Skif, and from all kitties. For your sake and
theirs, explore options before turning to a major, and unnecessary, surgery
to “fix” something that only comes natural to your kitty.

Leanne Lucero, First Aid and CPR Certified Dog Handler, holds a Bachelors degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in companion animals from NMSU, and spent a semester as an intern with Cloud K-9 dog training, learning positive training and handling methods. She lives with two cats, Ser Skiffington and Lyra, who inspire her to continue learning about canine and feline behavior.

Video Game Checklist For The Fish Lover

Some weeks ago I was on my lunch break and found a craving to play a game called Life from Deepak Chopkra’s Leela, in which you swim a little creature around a pond, connecting small areas of light as you go. It was exactly the soothing kind of experience I needed for that hour, so I searched the online stores to see if something similar was available for my tablet and discovered a game called Zen Koi , which I fell in love with. The experience made me wonder how many people out there were actually interested in having fish-themed games.

Being a lover of fish and a game fanatic, I have accumulated several types of fish-themed games in recent years, mostly in a desperate attempt to simulate having pet fish when I couldn’t keep live ones. I thought this collection might just make someone’s day, so I have decided to review these games here at Your Pet Space. Some of these are strictly virtual fish programs, some have a little adventure to them, some require thought or strategy, but they all have one thing in common: fish.


Zen Koi by Landshark Games

Available for download at the App Store and Google Play for free.

Graphics quality: Smooth, cartoon-style. Simplistic, yet beautiful.

Skills needed to play: The ability to sort objects by type and poke at them with a finger.

Basic gameplay: You are given a random koi egg to start with, which hatches into your very own koi. Your fish comes with a specific list of little swimming creatures needed in order to grow. You swim your fish around by tapping on the screen or dragging your finger from one area to the next. As your fish grows, it is able to breed and a wild fish will eventually appear on your screen. Follow that fish and you make a new egg that has the traits of the parents. You then grow your koi and help it on the path to “ascension,” where it will become a dragon and is no longer playable.

Object: The object is to collect every kind of fish available by breeding your one fish to the wild fish.  At the same time you are collecting every kind of dragon.

How does it compare to having real fish?: You feed them a certain diet and you breed them to get unique color patterns, but there isn’t much in the way of actual fish interaction, even for pond fish. I would give this a three out of five on the virtual fish-keeping scale.

Personal opinion: This is a great game for mindless relaxing. It really only appeals to the types of people who like meditative games that don’t really have much purpose to them. The graphics are beautiful and the game occasionally adds new styles of fish for “purchase.” These purchases are made with pearls that you earn by ascending your koi, accomplishing breeding tasks, or watching videos. The video watching is optional, but you can only watch around 20 videos a day, which means you earn 20 pearls a day if you do this. While playing the game, a small box will pop up at the bottom offering you the chance to earn pearls through videos. If you don’t want to do it, just tap the ? icon and that box will hide away under it. Though the ? icon will pulse, it isn’t really disruptive to game play, although I play on a tablet and it may be different on a smartphone.


Endless Ocean by Akira

Available for Nintendo Wii: This game is no longer sold, so prices may vary among used game sellers.

Graphics quality: Undersea graphics are amazing! People are your typical generic CG, but it’s the fish we’re after, right?

Skills needed to play: You really need to be able to read when you start out. However, this is the kind of game where you can follow the prompts or just swim around, making reading not entirely necessary.

Basic game play:  You are a diver in the tropical seas who is trying to learn about and help the animals of the ocean. You spend your days and nights with all kinds of fish and can befriend and train dolphins, who may swim with you. There are challenges available allowing you to take photos of certain fish during a dive. You can also take customers on a custom dive experience. If you don’t want to do anything at all, you can park your butt in the deck chair on your boat and just watch the world while you listen to the water. There is no fighting, you don’t die and respawn, and there are no time limits to anything. This is beach life at its best and you get to spend unlimited time with natural-looking sea life! As an added bonus, you can connect to wi-fi and swim with your other friends who play the game.

Object: There is a story embedded in this game about finding a special animal. You can play through to that point, which is the end of the game, or you can do whatever you want to do. As you meet and interact with new fish and animals, you learn more about them. This aspect of the game makes it a very educational experience, as well as a relaxing one.

How does it compare to having real fish?:  When I went snorkeling in Hawaii, the first thought that came to my mind was, “Oh my God! I’m inside Endless Ocean!” The experience is that real, at least for an inexperienced diver like me.

Personal opinion: I absolutely love this game and play it when I want to relax, unwind or just because I want something to do that won’t take an age. You can start and stop whenever you like, so it is the perfect game for either long periods or fifteen minute spurts. I seem to recall that once you finish the “great discovery,” the game is over and you have to start new again, unlike in the sequel, which I will cover next.


Endless Ocean: Blue World by Akira

Available for Nintendo Wii. This game is no longer sold, so prices vary among used game sellers.

Graphics quality: I can’t say enough about how realistic these games are. The Endless Ocean experience is amazing when it comes to lifelike gameplay for fish. People are still your typical CG humans, but again, this is all about the fish.

Skills needed to play: There is a fair amount of reading in this game, especially if you want to learn about the creatures and complete the many types of challenges. If you choose to just swim around and ignore all that stuff you may do so once you complete the basic training.

Basic gameplay: You are a diver who travels all around the world to help the animals of the ocean. You learn about various fish and animals by interacting with them. In this version you also collect artifacts for your treasure book. You still train dolphins, but there is more variety to the training and you can even put on shows for customers. You also receive guided dive requests, photo contest requests, and treasure dive requests as you help a scientist take care of her aquarium.

Object: You are helping a girl and her grandfather locate a treasure in a temple, while learning about and healing sick fish along the way. This sequel is a little more in depth than its predecessor and it continues on past the actual final goal. This feature allows you to play as your character for an unlimited amount of time without having to create a new save game.

How does it compare to having real fish?: If the graphics in the first game were good, these are even better, making it an incredibly beautiful virtual diving experience. The interactions with animals are also slightly improved from the first version, so it is much more like you are actually with them.

Personal opinion: I loved Endless Ocean when we got it, but when we found Blue World I completely dropped the original game for this version. I particularly liked that you can continue on past the end of the game and that there are more things to do in this version like the treasure hunt. Now you can also take care of fish from all around the world at the same time instead of having just one large tank, making the aquarium a much more complex experience. Customization has improved as well, since the public will tell you what they want to see and you can cater to their needs. You can get a pet dog and settle by the campfire to watch the waves under the palm trees, lie back in a hammock, play a guitar, or star gaze. The photography challenges are graded and the more money you earn the more customizable your experience will be. Overall, this is the better of the two games, by far.


Insaniquarium by Flying Bear Entertainment and PopCap Games

Available for download to computer or on disc, for $9.99 and under.

Graphics quality:  This game utilizes a silly cartoon style of graphics and animation, which is good because when the “aliens” come to eat your fish, it isn’t going to be all blood and guts. The animated fish are cute and the shading makes them pop from the screen. There is some depth to the background, but the fish don’t swim in the background, they are all right at the front. The colors are bright and beautiful, so it is really very artistic in a way.

Skills needed to play: This is a game that you really need multitasking skills for. You start out slow, but as you make progress in each level, things can get a little hectic. I have also found it much easier to use a mouse when playing this game, because you have to be quick and a mouse can facilitate that need.

Basic gameplay:  Buy a fish and place it in your tank.  Start feeding it and eventually it will grow big enough to poop money. Collect the money and buy more fish, but watch out for the aliens who come and try to eat them. When you have enough money you can buy a part of a pet egg. Three parts will give you a new pet and take you to the next level. Each pet has a special task, some pick up coins, some protect your fish. There are cheats and special hidden items within the game (Like naming a fish Santa will turn it into a Christmas fish that plays random carols.)

Object:  Keep your fish alive and collect as much money as you can to move on to each tank.

How does it compare to having real fish?:  Totally unrealistic. This is an adventure game and it’s a crazy one! The point of Insaniquarium is to make having the fish an adventure. It can really get the blood pumping too, so it’s not a calm or relaxing afternoon listening to water and watching creatures swim peacefully along.

Personal opinion: This is one of my old go-to games for when I want something with fish, but something fast and furious as well. I like that you can find the cheats and create new experiences that way. I also like that you can have your tank set to screen saver mode and watch your fish with no interaction and no worry of their starving to death.

There are a lot of games out there like this one, such as Feeding Frenzy, but I prefer the play of this game. I confess I haven’t played the others, but I have seen Feeding Frenzy played and that style of dashing your one fish around doesn’t suit my type of fish gameplay style.


Fantasy Aquarium World by CoreSoft and Destineer

Available for Wii: Could be found as a used game for various prices.

Graphics quality: The tanks themselves are beautiful. The fish are of a realistic nature with a semi-cartoonish face. I wouldn’t say the fish were of the quality of Endless Ocean, but they do come fairly close. Don’t get your hopes up about the sea horses.

Skills needed to play: You must be able to read. You must also have patience, because this is true tank keeping.

Basic gameplay: This is a virtual aquarium. No monsters, no playful rubbing of heads to make friends. These fish live in a tank that grows algae and collects waste that you must keep clean. You also have to feed the fish proper diet and keep the ph and temperature at just the right levels.

Object: There are challenges in this game that you can follow, but the basic object is the same in all of them; Keep your fish happy and healthy. Then you can just sit back and enjoy looking at your virtual aquarium.

How does it compare to having real fish?:  I don’t think I have seen a better virtual tank so far. It collects waste that must be cleaned, algae that must be wiped off the sides and so on. The decorations, gravel and side panel can all be changed to suit your fish and your own taste. I hadn’t played in a while, so I revisited the game for this review and the health of the fish I had were all at zero. After a tank cleaning it started to go up however, so I don’t think the fish actually die. My seahorse was 1,782 days old! (And lives by itself, which, by the way, shouldn’t happen, so not that realistic all the time.)

Personal opinion:  There is no adventure here. If you can’t keep a fish tank but want the experience of having one, get this game. If you want to teach your kids how to take care of a tank before getting the real thing, you can certainly use this as a training tool. It’s mostly just for looks. Even the feeding can be automated.

The fish games that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing each bring their own unique features to the table but they all share one common premise; the love for fish and sea creatures.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at