Clean Teeth + Ears = Healthy Pet

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.


Ginger is happy to get her teeth brushed. Of course, the treat afterwards is a good incentive.

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.

When preparing 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 swallowed.)

Oxyfresh is pet approved!


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 infections.


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 cleaning.


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.

Home health 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.  



Police Dogs are Making a Difference

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 immediately:

  • Training equipment (tracking harnesses, bite suits, Kongs, tug toys, collars, leads)
  • Protection gear
  • Indoor/outdoor K-9 kennels – $3500 each
  • Hot-N-Pop Heat Sensors for Patrol Vehicles – vehicle kennels $2,500 and sensors $1,500

Craven Wants a Pack

Jeanne Crockett, K-9 Ringo, and Sheriff Chip Hughes.

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 colleagues. 

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.

How I Traveled From Hopeful to Flourishing

How I Traveled From Hopeful to Flourishing

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 International.  

“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.

Pet Sitter of The Year 2020 PSI Cover

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.  

Going Forward

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.



Attitude adjustments for your pet  

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 at 5 months.
Davy at 5 months.

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.

Keep Pets Calm & Party On

Keep Pets Calm & Party On

Get Ready! The Holidays are Coming

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 even keel.

Intriguing Decorations

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. 

Threatening Strangers

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.  

Festive Food

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.