Our pets rely
on us to keep them healthy and aside from love, a good diet, and exercise we
are also responsible for their hygiene. Bathing
your cat or dog can be quite an undertaking that you may want to leave to the
professionals, but cleaning their ears and teeth is simple and cost effective.
No matter the size or breed of your dog, tooth brushing can be an enjoyable experience and the sooner you start the easier it will be. Davy, my German Shepherd, has had his teeth brushed since he was a puppy. He is now four and looks forward to our sessions. Ginger, my senior rescue Walker Hound, was recently at the vet’s for a cleaning and some dental work which was a little rough on both of us. Now she is being introduced to a good dental regimen and prefers the tooth brushing and plaque prevention water additives at home to the vet visit, for sure.
to brush your pet’s teeth start with the right tools. You can use a pet toothbrush, a finger brush,
or gauze wrapped around your finger for fragile cat teeth. Be sure to use
toothpaste for pets, like the Oxyfresh products, which both Davy and Ginger
approve of. This toothpaste is tasty and
safe for pets, will cause no harm if swallowed, and contains enzymes or
antiseptics that help control plaque. (Human toothpaste has fluoride and
artificial sweeteners in it that are harmful to pets and should not be
Get comfortable and entice your pet to snuggle up, then gently lift their lips and rub the toothbrush back and forth method for 30-60 seconds on the outside of the teeth. Lavish your buddy with praise during the session and give them a treat afterwards to create a fear free experience. Making this enjoyable will lead to a better experience during future veterinarian examinations, too. A water additive is another easy hands off way to try to maintain a healthier mouth and gums. Simply follow the directions and add the correct dosage to your pet’s water bowl.
Ear cleaning is normal at my house and used as needed. Davy likes to play fetch and tumbles around, so he gets more debris to clean out. I check Ginger’s ﬂoppy ears regularly to be sure they are healthy and clean and just like the teeth brushing, she loves the treats afterwards.
Most cats are
fine without ear cleaning, but for those who are prone to wax build-up and/or
ear infections, ear cleaning is very important for their hygiene. For dogs however,
ear cleaning is a necessary part of their grooming needs. Some dogs need more
frequent ear cleaning than others especially dogs who are prone to ear
Cleaning your pet’s ears does not require any special equipment. A good quality pet ear cleaning solution, some cotton balls or gauze, and some treats to reward your pet are all that is needed. AVOID using cotton tip applicators (Q-tips) because it is too easy to perforate the eardrum, push debris deeper, or cause trauma in the ear canal.
It’s a simple
procedure: gently squirt the pet ear cleaning solution into the ear canal,
massage the outside of the base of the ear for about 30 seconds to loosen the
debris, then use the cotton ball or gauze to wipe away the dirt and absorb the
solution. You can also saturate the gauze or cotton ball and gently rub the
inside of the ear. Be sure to praise your pet and give them a treat after each
When cleaning your pets ears or teeth you have the opportunity to assess their health. If you find noxious odors, redness, or swelling you should call your vet to get them checked.
care for pets is a great way to bond with your pet, a simple and fun practice
to prevent health care expenses, and a good way to get them used to being
handled making it easier for a vet’s exam when necessary. Plus, your pet will
thank you for your tender loving care.
As the Pet
Sitters International 2020 Pet Sitter of the Year I have the opportunity to
select a “pet” project for giving back to my community. I’ve chosen the Craven County Sheriff’s K-9
Unit. These specially trained police dogs are important to our safety, a new
initiative in the county, and largely underfunded.
Sheriff Chip Hughes has a strong interest in the health and
welfare of the animals in our county. He promotes pet adoptions, visited the
storm shelter during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, adopted a family pet,
hosted the first Craven County Pet Expo, established the new animal protection
services division, and has joined the fight against animal abuse and neglect in
Craven County. His actions have inspired
me to support his K-9 Unit.
Officer Rebecca Hopper oversees the K-9 program and
described some of their specific needs to establish the team on a limited
budget. She noted that any donation,
large or small, would be used toward the purchase of items that are needed
Hot-N-Pop Heat Sensors for Patrol Vehicles –
vehicle kennels $2,500 and sensors $1,500
Craven Wants a Pack
The goal is to build the unit up to an eight dog K-9 Patrol.
Ongoing training will be needed for the dogs and their handlers and new dogs
and officers will be added. Officer
Hopper reports that purchasing a trained police dog is approximately an $11,000
investment. However, there are
organizations like the Throw Away Dogs Project (TADP) that train and
donate dogs who need a second chance.
K-9 Nibbles, our newest deputy, is a Pitbull with a rough
start. TADP rescued him, trained him as a police dog, and donated him to the
Craven County team. On January 23, Nibbles
was sworn in as the rookie K-9
member of our Sheriff’s growing pack.
Police dogs are trained to track criminals, perform search
and rescue, sniff out illegal materials, and support their handlers in many
ways. In Craven County, they are turning
routine traffic stops into major drug hauls effectively removing dangerous
drugs off the streets before they get into the hands of our youth, family, and
K-9s Stihl, Ringo, Ghost, and Nibbles are off to a great
start serving and protecting our community. I feel, it is important for us to
support them, their training, and to provided them with the tools they need to
perform their best.
My first donation was made in January, and I encourage
others to follow suit. You can mail your check to the Craven County Sheriff’s
Office, 1100 Clarks Road, New Bern, NC 28562, and in the memo section, add Sheriff’s
K-9 Unit. This is a donation that
will make our county even safer.
The Journey to Earn Pet Sitter International (PSI) 2020 Pet Sitter of the Year
In 2012, I made what seemed like a brash decision to start
my own business after aging out of corporate life. Animals have always been
magnets for me. I loved to learn about
them, understand them, train them, and just have fun with them. I saw the need
for a professional pet sitter in my community, and I decided to fulfill that
need by launching Crockett’s Critter Care.
When I embarked on this journey, I had never started a
business or taken a business course. It was scary and exciting to start
something from scratch and watch it grow.
I learned everything I could about entrepreneurship at Craven Community
College (CCC) and added to my knowledge of pet care by joining Pet Sitters
“I hope I can do this…”
At the start, I dreamed of having four pet sits a day. I had no idea that, in time, I would
eventually hire six team members to cover all the requests for my services. From day one, I vowed to do this right. I’m always looking for ways to improve,
learn, and grow. I found the right
people to help me at every stage of my business from the CCC entrepreneurship
course and Small Business Roundtable discussions to networking with the businesswomen
in Coastal Women’s Forum.
My team includes employees, a writer, a photographer and
videographer, an accountant, an HR consultant, a marketing expert, and some
excellent mentors from the pet sitting/dog walking industry. Being an entrepreneur and doing something
that I loved, opened many new experiences for me. And along the way, I discovered my inner
strength and motivation to push beyond barriers and fears that may have impeded
me in the past. Something that evolved from, “I hope I can do this…” to “I
can’t believe I’m doing this…” to “This is the best thing I’ve ever done!” Hope
was replaced with confidence as I eagerly searched for “What’s next?” to
improve my services.
2020 Pet Sitter of the Year
I was encouraged by other professional pet sitters to put my
name in for PSI Pet Sitter of the Year.
In October of 2019, I was informed that I was among the top five
finalists. In November, I was delightfully surprised by a telephone call from
the President (Patti Moran) and the Marketing Director (Beth Stultz) of PSI
congratulating me on being chosen the 2020 Pet Sitter of the Year.
Winning this award is a huge honor and a validation of the choices I made to create and build Crockett’s Critter Care. This award also provides opportunities for me to give back to my pet sitting colleagues, create new connections worldwide, and continue to contribute to my community by choosing the Craven County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit as my pet project of giving this year.
My goals are to educate pet owners of the importance of
hiring the right person to care for their pets, to expand my services, and to
infuse Fear Free methods and principles into every area of my business. The leaders in my industry have rewarded me
with their highest honor, my team is trained to provide superior pet care, and
my clients have supported my business since it launched. I am a very grateful and fortunate woman.
In my efforts to provide the best possible care for my clients’ pets and for my own, I became certified as a Fear Free Pet Professional in 2017. Their mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. Or, as they say: Take the pet out of petrified. Below are examples of Fear Free techniques in action.
Snippy Sick Pooch
Cassidy was a terrier-type, senior dog that we walked twice
a day. She was doted on by her family
and, by the time we met her, had already lived a long and happy life. As she aged, she was diagnosed with a heart
condition that required medicine twice a day.
However, the first time her owner attempted to pill her; Cassidy showed
her displeasure with a nip.
My colleague who cared for Cassidy called me to relate the
incident and to request instructions for administering the medicine in a safer
manner. I drove right over to Cassidy’s
house for a Fear Free “Teachable Moment.”
Using what Fear Free calls a considerate
approach, I tucked the pill into a small dollop of peanut butter on the end of
a spoon and offered it to Cassidy. She
was delighted with her new treat and took her medicine willingly from that day
forward. This quick win turned a negative
experience into a positive one for both Cassidy and her owners.
Very Skiddish Vizslas
One of my clients is a busy professional whose work schedule
was making it harder and harder to come home for lunch to let her dogs
out. She had a blended pet family of
four dogs – her two little dogs: easy-going, people-friendly Italian Greyhounds
and her friend’s dogs: high-energy Vizslas that were fearful of strangers and
reactive toward me. I knew the little dogs well as I had been pet sitting for
them for a while but needed to get to know the two bigger dogs.
As always, I met the dogs in advance with the owners present
and observed that they were well-trained and attentive. Sit, stay, and go to your place commands were
executed perfectly. However, my first
visit alone with them turned out to be a challenge.
The Vizsla female was not happy with me being there. She advanced toward me growling, barking, and
kept it up for most of the visit. A thirty-minute visit went into overtime with
me trying to put a slip lead on a frightened, reactive dog. I actually hid behind the larger male Vizsla and
while reaching over him slipped a leash
on the little girl. I spoke calmly,
moved slowly, and offered her plenty of treats to win her over. The Fear Free tactics enabled
me to get all the dogs outside to potty and playtime and back inside again
without further ado.
Making a Good Impression
To ensure my next visit would be a pleasant experience, I
knew that I needed to create good associations with these dogs. When I arrived, I carried the Vizslas’ toys
in where they could see me and they enthusiastically followed me out back for a
good game of fetch. After a few more visits, they were comfortable with me and allowed
me to put on their leashes to take them for a walk.
Now these dogs are easy to handle, fun to play with, and
loving toward me. I was able to introduce
another one of my dog walkers to them who they took to readily. She accompanied
me three times and is now able to enjoy walking these dogs on her own.
Davy and The Doctor
My three-year-old German Shepherd dog is named Davy. Davy and I have been going to dog school with
a top-notch trainer since he was ten weeks old.
He excels in obedience and rally.
But as a puppy, when he went to the veterinarian’s office for a visit,
his boldness faded away, he became distressed, he would often pee on the floor,
and when the vet examined him, he became snappy. I had just started my Fear Free training certification and I was determined to change his dreadful veterinary
experiences into happy visits.
Over the next year, Davy was trained to be relaxed and cooperative during routine veterinary procedures. We practiced skills at home and, with my vet’s permission, repeated our lessons at regular intervals in the vet’s lobby and exam rooms. Davy enjoyed the treats from the vet staff who often participated with us and quickly became accustomed to our simulated exams, pretend blood draws, and x-rays. He calmly accepted a muzzle and the sounds of the clippers. His anxiety about going to the vets was replaced with tail-wagging enthusiasm. He now wants to explore every nook and cranny and attempts to go behind every closed door. Most importantly, Davy has become a vet-friendly dog!
Fear Free for All
I and my staff apply Fear Free methods on
every visit to ensure that each pet we care for has a calm experience with
us. We have cats come out from under the
bed for snuggles, formerly fearful dogs greet us with tail wags, and owners
return home to happy relaxed pets. Proving
that Fear Free techniques are simple and pet tested.
Your homelife is usually quiet and routine but from the end
of October with the arrival of Halloween until the doldrums of January 2 set
in, things are not normal. When the doorbell rings, it puts your pet on the
alert that something possibly wicked is coming their way. All the holidays
offer strange scents, sights, and sounds that may unnerve your usually calm
pet. You need to take special
precautions during the holiday season to keep your pet and your household on an
As you put out your holiday décor your pet may find it
interesting, tasty, or worth demolishing. Best to let your pets sniff, see, and
smell the decorations first. As you add
these unusual pieces around the house, consider that they can pose a health
hazard to your furry friend. They may get tangled in the lights, devour the
potpourri, or trash your special crystal. Take a pet’s eye view of the things
you are displaying to keep your treasures and pets safe. And, If you are going to dress up Fido or
Fluffy – chose a comfortable outfit and give them time to get used to it.
Droves of people coming to the door for your special event
can make your pet anxious. They want to know who is entering your kingdom, if
they are a friend or foe, and then act accordingly. If your dog is growling or exuberantly
leaping to welcome your visitors, your guests will be uncomfortable. And
remember, if you are busy answering the door, your pets may take advantage of
the unguarded opening and make a dash for the outdoors. Save your pets (and
your friendships) by providing a quiet and secure crate or room for them while
you handle the crowd. Provide treats, toys, and a comfy spot for your fur
babies so that they can peacefully enjoy your event. Both your pets and guests
will appreciate having their own space.
Chocolate is a food group for many humans but deadly for
dogs; as is any candy containing xylitol. Keep all the human food out of reach
and under close scrutiny while preparing for your party so that your pets are
not tempted by something delectable but harmful for them. You certainly don’t
want your pup parking his cookies in the dining room after slurping some milk
and eating a few grapes. Be careful about the plants in your home, as well; the ASPCA
has a list of plants that are toxic for pets.
Planning ahead and seeing the world through your pet’s eyes will
ensure everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.