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Elizabeth Creith
North by NorthEast
Elizabeth Creith lives and writes in Northern Ontario, Canada. Together with her husband, David Syme (and her Australian shepherd Sky), she owns Animalia Pets & Supplies in Sault Ste Marie. Her articles on the pet trade and exotic pets and their care have appeared in several online and print publications. Elizabeth also blogs about writing and life here.

august 20, 2014
We in the pet trade have become an unwitting fifth column in undermining the supremacy of the human race. ...More»

july 29, 2014
Death Before Dishonor
The most common reason people want to work for us is that they love animals. The second most common is that they fear them. ...More»

july 9, 2014
Herpetophobes and Herpetophiles
I've even seen herpetophobes turn into herpetophiles, or at least learn to love the reptile their beloved loves. ...More»

june 19, 2014
Fear Factor
In a store like ours, which sells a lot of reptiles and other oddities, the food isn’t always neatly bagged or canned. ...More»

june 6, 2014
Canine Couture in Demand
When we bought the store, there were no dog coats in it, and I swore up, down and sideways that there never would be. ...More»

may 19, 2014
Nitrite-Nitrate Cycle
The most-often-repeated spiel is basic aquarium maintenance—the nitrite-nitrate cycle. ...More»

may 6, 2014
Jewel Thief
Parents say that when your children are quiet, that’s the time to go looking for them, because chances are they’re redecorating the living room in a nice peanut-butter-and-grape-jelly handprint motif. ...More»

april 18, 2014
Another Brick in the Wall
It's a fact that you could fill a whole store with nothing but dog treats. ...More»

april 10, 2014
Cichlids Strut their Stuff
There’s no denying that marine fish are among the showiest aquarium denizens you can find. ...More»

march 25, 2014
Buzz's real name is Chris, but he never uses it, except on his business cards, of which he has had a dozen since we first met him. ...More»

march 7, 2014
Animalia Groupies
Change of ownership, change of staff and a lot of customers came cruising around just to make sure David was still here. ...More»

february 20, 2014
You Betta Pronounce it Right
The pet trade is rife with phrases like "koi fish” and "budgie bird” and, of course, "Nemo fish.” But the single thing that bugs me most is the way people pronounce "betta”. ...More»

february 7, 2014
Tattoos at Animalia
We see a lot of tattoos at Animalia. We don't care, as long as they're fit for kids to see. ...More»

january 24, 2014
Hamster Wrangler on the Set
In 2011 we had a brief brush with Hollywood. ...More»

january 6, 2014
Up the Revolution
I’ve spent most of my life training our family’s dogs in an informal someone-teach-that-dog-to-sit sort of way. ...More»

december 18, 2013
Pet Store Windows
Of the many housekeeping jobs we have to do in the store, cleaning windows are not included. ...More»

december 2, 2013
Christmas-Music-Free Zone
It’s not that we don’t like Christmas music. In fact, I love quite a bit of it, and I am delighted to announce that the pieces I particularly love will never make the Top 40 in the Retail Background Music category. ...More»

November 18, 2013
Turtle Mating, or Simply, Um
We had a pair of red-footed tortoises who were really into Um, because they were big enough and old enough to think about it. ...More»

November 5, 2013
Willing to scoop, shovel and dispose poop? Inquire within…
Several times we have had to hire help, and the job of interviewing has always fallen on my shoulders. ...More»

October 21, 2013
What to Leave in Pet Store Paperwork
Now that the paperwork of opening the pet store is years in the past, I’m beginning to be able to talk about it without twitching. ...More»

October 3, 2013
Fish Gotta Swim
If you'd asked me a couple of years ago, I'd have said that there was nowhere in a pet store where birds and fish crossed paths. ...More»

September 19, 2013
Peanut: the Goffin's Cockatoo
When we bought Peanut, a young bare-eyed cockatoo, at Fur and Feather, we had no idea what kind of a personality we were getting. ...More»

September 3, 2013
A Perfect Wedding
"Wedding planner” is not on my auxiliary list of jobs, but I think I could legitimately add "hand-holder and reassurer” when wedding season rolls around. ...More»

August 20, 2013
And a Nice Chianti
We in the pet trade know there’s no typical snake owner. The general public may consider that a snake is usually accessorized with Doc Martens, a shaved head, multiple tattoos and—oh, yes—a Y chromosome. ...More»

August 5, 2013
The Course of True Love
As I believe I've mentioned once or twice, there's a fair amount of sex in the pet store, especially of the back-room-rodent variety. ...More»

July 22, 2013
Jailbreak Snake
I used to have a beautiful ball python, back in the days when the only ones you could get were wild-caught. The first day I took him home, he escaped from his terrarium three times. Of course I named him "Houdini”. ...More»

July 1, 2013
The Mouse Project
Because mice are on the menu for everything from garter snakes to wolves and corn snakes to water monitors, they take the whole reproduction business very seriously indeed. ...More»

june 18, 2013
Master Class in Acting
Hard as it might be to believe, I had a life before the pet trade, and I’m still trying to have a life outside of it. I can do other things, you know, besides shovel out ferret cages, catch neon tetras and stock dog food. ...More»

June 7, 2013
Snake Oil
Before we got into the pet trade, I never thought about how pet stores got their stock. I certainly never imagined a whole show in a huge arena dedicated solely to reptiles and supplies for them. ...More»

May 20, 2013
Girls Who Like Reptiles
I’ve always loved reptiles--in fact, I’ve sometimes said that the reason I married David in the first place was that he was the first man I’d met who actively encouraged me to keep snakes. ... More»

April 30, 2013
My Koi Habit
I’m hooked on koi, and I can’t kick the habit... More»

April 18, 2013
Other People's Problems
I wonder if people who run clothing stores ever have to deal with a situation like this... More»

March 26, 2013
How (Not) to Trim a Bird's Nails
I never do nail trims. There are several grooming salons in town who will trim your cat's or dog's nails, but few places to take an iguana or a cockatoo for a pedicure... More»

March 22, 2013
No Snow Day for This Pet Store
When you own a pet store, you have to feed the animals daily. If you have to be there, you might as well be open... More»

February 26, 2013
Exotic Pets Get a Bad Rap
Exotic-pets bylaws were clearly made by people who fear anything that just doesn't look right—that is, isn't furry, feathery or... More»

February 13, 2013
The Man Who Didn't Like Cats
We help a lot of people with information—people who call or come in with a question about a snake, a dog, a bird. But the one I remember best is The Man Who Didn't Like Cats... More»

January 29, 2013
Selling Dog Treats Humans Might Consider Gross
On the counter at Animalia we have a box of beef bullies. Beef bullies—now there's a nice little euphemism for you, right up there with prairie oysters and lamb fry... More»

January 11, 2013
Working Through Flu Season
Life is getting back to normal at Animalia now that all the hoo-ha of the season has past. And I'm not talking about Christmas... More»

December 11, 2012
Our First Pet Breeders Show: At Least I Didn't Buy the Llama
Pet Breeders are to the livestock trade what manufacturers are to dry goods. Our favourite place to buy direct from breeders is Fur and Feather, a twice-yearly show held in the little town of Mount Forest, Ontario... More»

November 14, 2012
Penguins For Sale?
Any pet store that sells anything remotely exotic gets unusual requests. We've had requests for scorpions, ball pythons... More»

October 30, 2012
The Animal Odd Couple
Jack, David's umbrella cockatoo, has been a fixture in our store since August 2005. When one puts the concepts of "bird” and "dog” together, the usual association is "bird dog”—dogs who detect, flush and retrieve birds. Jack reversed this concept... More»

October 12, 2012
Carp, Carp, Carp
I have pedestrian tastes in fish. No, this doesn't mean that I like walking catfish—although I do. It means that if there was nothing available in the aquarium section but goldfish, I'd be happy as a clam... More»

September 27, 2012
Dog (And Human?) Microchips
David makes me snort coffee on the computer screen. I'd swear he lies awake at night thinking up ways to do it, except that most of them seem to come spontaneously. Like the last one... More»

September 4, 2012
Your Pet Snake Will Never Love You
I love animals. I even love animals most people don't love, such as lizards and snakes. What I understand, though, is that Reptiles R Not Us, or even remotely like us... More»

August 22, 2012
Yes, We Have No Piranhas at Our Pet Store
There are hundreds, nay thousands, of fish available for the home aquarium, but the one we hear the most about is the piranha... More»

August 13, 2012
Cat Bathing: The End of an Era
I was in the grocery store buying greens for the tortoises and a bag of peanuts-in-the-shell for Jack and Lily, when I noticed the bin of onions in 2-pound net bags and realized that Things Had Changed. My very best cat-bathing accessory had disappeared... More»

July 16, 2012
The Canary Conundrum
In the Cheesy Horror Movies section of the video store where we get our weekly fix is a movie called "Sharktopus”... More»

July 3, 2012
Perfidious Rodents
I was laying the latest shipment of frozen feeder mice out on a cookie sheet the other day and musing on the perfidy of rodents. See, we had originally planned never to buy feeder mice... More»

May 30, 2012
Caution: Human Grade
When the "human-grade" pet food trend first started, I shook my head. Why does dog food have to be fit for humans to eat... More»

May 18, 2012
Curse You, Walt Disney (and Pixar)!
The first thing we did when we opened the store was set up the saltwater tanks. During that prep time, the most common question was, "Are you going to have Nemo-fish?”... More»

April 26, 2012
Ferrets: A Cautionary Tale
Ferrets, water and earrings—not three things you'd normally associate with one another, but they are inextricably linked for me... More»

April 13, 2012
This Little Piggy
It's always a risk to bring in new pet product. What's flying off the shelves in Toronto or Montreal may take root, settle down to raise a family in our Sault Ste Marie pet store. Dry goods are bad enough, but... More»

March 28, 2012
Bath Time
When I was a kid, if the dog got a bath it was because she'd rolled in something smelly and disgusting. The bath happened in the basement laundry tub with dish soap and a hose, and everyone was relieved when it was over... More»

March 12, 2012
Chivalry: Not Dead Yet
Every Wednesday between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., I get a reminder that—appearances to the contrary—I'm still a fragile little flower of femininity. That's when the dog food order comes in... More»

February 24, 2012
Lipstick on a Lizard
Anyone else here old enough to remember "Laugh-In” and Lily Tomlin's character Edith Ann who always kissed her dog Buster right on the lips? Dogs are one thing, but there are just some animals that you're not supposed to kiss on the lips... More»

February 6, 2012
Rodent on the Run
Keeping the rodents in their cages seems like a simple matter, right? In theory, if you have a cage with wires spaced too closely for the critter to squeeze through, it's in there for good... More»

January 24, 2012
Whatever's Left, Right?
There was a while there a couple of years ago when pig's ears were almost impossible to get. The story was that they were all being shipped to Asia, where people ate them. I don't know if that was true or not... More»

January 16, 2012
Care and Feeding…
There's a lot of food in a pet store. Dog food? Which dog food? The one for senior chihuahuas or the one for chihuahua puppies? Or beagle puppies, or German shepherds or border collies or St. Bernards? Or maybe... More»

January 2, 2012
Not in the Curriculum
When I was in school, back when megafauna roamed the earth, each of the students in my graduating class had a little meeting with the guidance counselor. This meeting was intended to help prepare you for your shiny new career in the big world... More»

December 12, 2011
Thirty-some years ago Dr. Irene Pepperberg walked into a pet store and asked one of the staff to choose her a young Congo African Grey parrot. This bird became Alex (Avian Learning Experiment)... More»

November 29, 2011
Feels So Good When It Stops
"I want something to go with the fish I have at home." "Okay, what do you have?" "I don't know what they're called. They look kind of like that—or maybe those over there."... More»

November 16, 2011
Give Yer Head a Shake
I once thought about being a veterinarian. I passed on that profession, but when I went into the pet trade, I found out that included in the job is "cheap substitute for a vet.”... More»

October 31, 2011
Hey, Stud!
Nothing says "tough dog” like a black leather collar with bright metal studs... More»

October 21, 2011
Simple Minds
Morning is quiet in the pet store. Hardly anyone comes in; it's the time I use to feed and water the animals and to clean cages, tanks or terrariums... More»

September 8, 2011
How Much is That Doggie in the Window?
"Do you have any puppies or kittens?" In our first year of business, we heard it several times a week. "No, we don't," we said, "If you want a mutt, go to the Humane Society. If you want a purebred, you should go to a registered breeder... More»

August 10, 2011
A Failure in Diplomacy
"Here's your change," I said to the young man buying a mouse. "What's the mouse for?" asked the teenage girl behind him. She tossed her head to flick her hair out of her eyes. "To feed my snake," the young man said... More»

July 12, 2011
Disappearing Act
"Elizabeth, would you bring Garm over here?" David was standing by the dog-food shelves, and I knew exactly what had happened. One of our volunteers had dropped a hamster or a rat, and it... More»

July 1, 2011
Want Fries with That?
We have a store shirt, khaki button-down with the Animalia logo embroidered over the left pocket. The great thing about a store shirt is it lets people in the store identify employees immediately... More»

June 22, 2011
We have a loud, demanding, argumentative employee that we can't get rid of. We opened in June 2005, and he joined our staff in August that same year. He's never learned to run the cash register or... More»

June 7, 2011
Security Breach
A telephone call after midnight is hardly ever good news. When David came back from answering it he started to dress."That was the security people," he said. "The front motion detector went off at 11:45. That means... More»

May 27, 2011
Bird Brain
Every time I hear the term "bird brain," I have to laugh. Most of the birds I've met in the pet trade are way too smart for my own good. A few months after we opened, we had a sun conure for sale. Conures are smallish birds, a little... More»

May 5, 2011
Trial by Water
"I'd like four tiger barbs, please," said the woman in the denim shirt. It was my very first day as the co-owner of Animalia Pets. My husband, David, had years of experience in the pet trade. If there was something he didn't know, I hadn't found it out yet... More»

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