I am so ready, as I am sure you are, to turn the page on 2020 and welcome the New Year. It’s difficult to keep one’s thoughts positive during a pandemic which had such a profound impact on the way we live, work, maintain relationships, and stay healthy.
One thing that lifted my spirit was the responses I received from a Facebook post. I asked my friends to tell me about a special “Happy Memory” they had of their pets. The responses were varied and heartwarming to read.
I re-read the list many times and each time it made me feel better. People remembered times where they felt compassion, gratitude, connection, satisfaction, accomplishment, and unconditional love. Below are the submissions, edited for clarity. Let’s start off 2021 with a smile:
Linda Ross I loved it when my cat Gypsie and I would be lying in bed. He would be across from me and we had eye contact. I would talk to him and he would reach over to boop me on the nose with his paw. …I miss those respectful communications where two species are really communicating… and I miss the boops on my nose.
Karen Fischer Lang For the last 20 years, we have had both cats and dogs as pets, averaging 3 creatures at a time. I love when a cat and dog become buddies. Our lab Bailey’s best friend was Smokey the cat. Bailey learned to open the pantry door and Smokey would scale the shelves and pull chicken strips out of the bag on a shelf for her. In the evening, Smokey would curl up with Bailey so she could get her ears licked clean.
Ben Johnson My dog goes to one of the local craft breweries with me. Everyone loves him there, and he does “rounds” saying hi to everyone. The owners gave him an official brewery sweatshirt.
Becca Nolan … Moose got neutered the day before I got my tonsils removed so we got to be bedridden together.
Lynda Bedford …When my monster puppy Asher broke through his 3rd metal crate and played behind a wall! …When I got foster puppies Briscoe and Logan from an abuse case. They were petrified, stayed in a crate together for 3 days until I won their trust.
Miranda Murdock …Watching how gentle and vigilant my lab is with our human newborns, and she feels compelled to notify us if they start to cry.
Christine Stutz My favorite memory is with my first ever cat Sam. He was lying on his hammock and I was lying on the sofa. I said,” Come here sweetie…” and patted my chest. He came right over and snuggled on my chest and never stopped until he passed.
Carol Metz We finally built a fence so Chewy could run around free of a leash. Watching him run outside for the first time was so exciting. He ran and bounced around joyfully. So very cool to see him run around, free as can be inside his fence.
Isabel Alvarez Arata My husband had just come back from deployment and he, my two dogs, my 18 month old son, and I were driving from Miami, FL to El Paso, TX over the course of 8 days. We stopped somewhere in Texas near San Antonio, I think, at a lovely restaurant that also had a gardening center attached. They had a gorgeous patio where we sat with the dogs and had the space all to ourselves. It was so relaxed and beautiful and we loved including the dogs in our little outing.
Lupita Urias When shadow my then foster dog came out of his shell and brought me a toy when I got home a couple of months after I took him in. He adopted me and here we are 13 years later.
Misty Phillips The day after my cat Draco had his second surgery for a really bad infection. The night before he was so bad he just lay limp on my chest and I thought I was losing him. BUT the next morning I woke up and he was standing on the cat tree and he meowed and jumped on the bed and gave me one of his amazing head butts and I knew he was ok! Will never forget that moment!
Shannon Morrow Our trip to Barkwells filled my heart with indescribable joy. Seeing my middle aged dogs run like young pups in a special place built just for them is an experience I’ll never forget. Besides that, every time my buddy Cody rolls over and asks for a belly rub, I get a warm spot in my heart – he takes huge risks in trusting us considering his abusive past. Knowing that he feels safe and has a comfortable life means more than anything else I can think of.
Scott Brown 1997, March 1st. A friend of ours found Gypsy in a cardboard box along Cobbs Creek Parkway in Philly. She arrived at our house that afternoon. I didn’t even recognize her as a dog. She was cowering outside, making a nest for the night. We had to carry her inside. She never had to be house trained. She gained weight, and became the sweetest best dog we have had to date. She lived a long life and was loved by everyone who met her. Our current rescue Belle is another story, but she is making strides every day. Abused horribly, she is becoming a loving dog who occasionally comes out of a dark room to smell us.
Skip Wolff …When Rik, my first Doberman, finished his American Kennel Club Utility title. (Note: The Utility class, which includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class. Dogs earn a Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving three qualifying scores under two different judges.)
Judy Curran (my sister) I used to love watching you walking Tina (German shepherd mix) with your cat Mandy following about 6 feet behind.
Karen Peters …Taking my Maximiliano with me to local outdoor festivals. I’d pay for both our admissions ($2), and folks behind me would say…”She paid for her dog!!” I miss that and don’t go to festivals anymore now that he is gone.
Caroline Drake …Recognizing when a newly adopted rescue pet realizes they are safe and can start to live like whatever species they are. You can see it in their eyes that trusting the new human is a good thing. It is far more rewarding for them to accept you than the other way around.
Karen Fischer Lang Gary and I were at CCHS (Colonial Capital Humane Society) to adopt a “support” puppy for our Penny, also a CCHS alum who was grieving over the loss of our Bailey. We sat on the porch watching several crazy puppies running around when this quiet little pup came over and sat on my lap. He definitely chose me.
Carolyn King When Zacky, my male Maltese would smile,(teeth showing) when he was offered a piece of American cheese! That made me smile every time.
Beverly Cowperthwait MacMillan My dog Chelsey followed me everywhere. If I went to the bathroom she came and sat beside me, if I was in the shower she sat right outside the shower waiting for me and when I went to work every day she would howl at the picture window in the mornings because she missed me (my neighbors told me). She was probably the sweetest, most loving and most attached dog that I ever had. She was a mushy love bug. I’ve had three different springer spaniels and they all had different personalities, hers was the absolute best.
Tess Annemarie Ross For my dogs, one time after the groomers I took them through the drive thru at Starbucks for puppuccinos. After that we drove to a pet store where they had open bins that they could pick out their own snacks! It was a good day.
Annette Hunt Jeanne I thank God for you every time Chantilly sits on her “spot” in the foyer when the front door opens. You taught her this when she was 6 months old. You even took her to the doggie parade downtown New Bern. And the two of you were on TV that evening. We were in CO. Chantilly Lace is now 11 years old. And you look 11 years younger!
Patricia Pike When our Aussie sat in the cab of the truck we rented to move home.
Scott Brown …When we moved from one end of our street to the other. Our new house had a much bigger back yard, and our dog Gypsy didn’t want to go back to the old house for the night. She loved it here. We miss her so much. We’ve had to have two rescue dogs to take her place.
Alan Strawser So a lifetime of memories: Here’s one. A big feral tom would come by every morning and night for food. He never got closer than 6 feet to me no matter how calm and patient I was. Then one morning he arrived with a huge gash in his neck. Suddenly his caution disappeared and he came right over to me and let me clean his nasty gash! Now we are besties and hang together at every meal, complete with head butts and belly rubs. He’s fixed now but he is responsible for blessing me with 13 of his offspring…and they are all the same exact shade of grey and almost impossible to tell apart!
Mary Lou Pappolla I have many such moments, but during this Pandemic I don’t know how I would survive without my Bichon. While I spend many days in my home, I am never alone. Elly Mae is always here to snuggle with me.
Scott Black The day I met this special needs boy: The Adventures of Chatopotomus. I knew I had to try and foster to adopt him. It’s been five years and he makes my heart happy every day. I love how his other canine and feline siblings have accepted him, and actually look out for him.
A coat for your pet is not just a fashion statement, it is a safety measure. Even with shaggy fur coats your pets can still suffer the impacts of cold weather.
Just like people, your pets all react to cold differently depending on age, breed, and size. Like most seniors, older cats and dogs have a hard time maintaining body heat. Meanwhile, puppies and kittens shouldn’t be outside in the frigid air even when well-dressed because they don’t have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to shave your dog’s coat during colder seasons. The fur helps keep your pet comfortable so just wait until spring to give Fifi a new do.
A fabric coat or knit sweater for your pet can be fashionable and warm. Add a reflective collar or some reflective accents on the covering to make it easier to spot you and your dog on the dawn and dusk patrols. Take the coat off as soon as your pet comes inside and never leave a wet coat on your pet otherwise they will get chilled from the damp material and you’ll have defeated the purpose of the protective garment.
When it’s cold or wet out, veterinarians say it’s vital to keep young, old, and sick pets indoors. If the temp is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too cold for pets to be left outside for extended periods and below 32 degrees is when frostbite occurs. It’s up to you to watch the thermometer and keep your pet warm and snug.
Rather than chilly hours in the yard unattended, keep those outdoor breaks short, just 10-15 minutes for a romp 3 or 4 times a day is a better option. When it is cold, watch your pet closely for signs of distress which may include shivering, lethargy, disorientation, and whining. If you think your pet is hypothermic, call your vet to determine the best way to warm them up.
While you can’t bundle up your outdoor pets, expect to add 10-15% more food in the winter. Birds (and squirrels) love to get peanut butter and suet when it is cold outside and those extra calories may help maintain their body heat.
Thankfully, we in NC don’t have to contend with severe and lengthy bitter cold seasons like other parts of the country. Our cold snaps may be brief but our concern for every pet’s well-being is for all seasons.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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I have owned more than a handful of dogs and have prepared many foster dogs for adoption. Along the way, I have met some interesting and challenging canines. One such dog was Duke, The Found Hound. I was buying groceries at the Food Lion in Bridgeton. Every time the door opened, this large, bony tick-ridden hound walked in sweeping his tail from side to side. He entered the store three times and each time he was forced back outside. After the third time, the store employees were ready to call Animal Control. It was Thanksgiving week, and I figured the fate of this dog in the hands of Animal Control would not have a good outcome.
In the parking lot, the dog was going up to everyone in the same friendly manner that he showed as he entered the Food Lion. Everyone brushed him off –that is, everyone but me. I saw something in him that I liked. No one knew anything about this dog so I considered him abandoned. It was clear by looking at him that he hadn’t been well cared for. He was severely underweight and his coat was in poor condition.
I asked some people to help me get him into the backseat of my car. They asked me what I was going to do with him, and I said I’d adopt him out or keep him. They looked at me like I was crazy. My intentions were to get him fully vetted, neutered, trained in some basic obedience, and then adopt him out through the humane society. After I got home, I named him Duke, and started his rehabilitation. He impressed me with his intelligence, athleticism, and willingness to learn. I worked on calming his reactiveness to other dogs, eliminating his food aggressive issues, and taught him basic skills and house manners. When he was ready, I took him to an adoptathon. To my dismay, he was ignored because he was too big. Everyone passed us to view the little dogs. I decided that no one would ever do that to him again and took him “home.” He was mine!
This dog that no one wanted went on to receive a Canine Good Citizenship certificate, had a blast learning agility, and excelled at obedience. He remained my faithful companion for eight years. To this day, he holds the title of being the most frustrating and challenging dog I’ve owned. But he also taught me the most and took me to places I never would have gone. For that, I am forever grateful.
If you have a dog that is a challenge, we may be able to help. We’d love to improve the outcome of your story. Contact us so we can all hear it.
Like most people I started off in January 2020 with great expectations. I had been named Pet Sitters’ International Pet Sitter of the Year, chosen my charity – the Craven K-9 Corps, had a full calendar of sits scheduled and team of 5 to help me care for the critters. And like everyone else my plan went to pieces in March due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
However, November is a time of gratitude and as I look back I am so grateful for friends and colleagues who have helped me navigate these troubled waters and kept me and my business going. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining.
Small business owners are a strongly independent bunch who carved out their niche through hard work and the pursuit of a dream. Before COVID, we employed almost 50% of the American workers. When our businesses came to a screeching halt, we pulled together with genuine concerns for our survival.
We advocated for each other and helped each other through a crisis that affected us all. We reacted, responded, pivoted, reinvented and continue to fight to maintain our businesses.
Small businesses are the service industries with home offices, the vendors at the Farmer’s Market, and the brick and mortar stores scattered around town. These locally owned companies are the fabric of our neighborhood and the backbone of our community.
As you start hunting for your holiday purchases, shop small. Shop the small businesses that keep our community going by providing jobs, taxes, and support to our town. Your local purchases can make a big difference for a small business. Let’s all join together to make this happen and fight the downturn this pandemic is having on our nation’s economy and the fabric of our towns.
I know that I am grateful for the people who have helped me through the past year and I know that by shopping local I will, in a small way, be saying “Thank you!” for the support I received.
At the 2016 Pet Sitter International’s Conference, I heard a veterinarian named Dr. Marty Becker give a passionate talk about a program that he called Fear Free. It was about taking the “pet” out of “petrified” and lowering a pet’s anxiety regarding veterinary visits.
Dr. Becker realized that vets have been doing it wrong and pets were being terrified as a result. Some of the examples discussed were how nail trims were done and how cats were scruffed for common procedures. In too many cases the mind set was this is how it has always been done, and it was also the quickest way to get things done. (I had worked at a veterinarian’s office for three years so I could relate to what he was saying.) In his heart, Dr. Becker knew there was a better way. He did his research and talked to colleagues and the Fear Free movement began to take shape.
He and his colleagues discovered ways of low stress handling, use of calming music and pheromones, compression garments, and therapeutic massage. They promoted better methods to reduce a pet’s stress before, during, and after a vet visit from the ride from home to the office, into the lobby and on to the scale, and finally the exam room and kennel. Everything was scrutinized and solutions were implemented.
Dr. Becker explained how easy it is to recognize fear by understanding a pet’s body language and how to use techniques to lower it. As he talked, I was reminded about how having this knowledge would benefit the pets that I care for. I considered some of the many challenges pet sitters face and knew that this program was for me. As I was leaving the presentation, I said to one of the leaders in Pet Sitters International that I was going to pursue Fear Free certification in the coming year.
The program was in the early stages and the only Fear Free program available was the veterinary program which I took and then became the first Fear Free pet sitter in North Carolina, and the first Fear Free professional of any stripe in New Bern. It was a difficult course and each year additional credits are required to maintain the certification. After three years of study, I am now qualified for the Fear FreeElite Status. This distinction makes me confident that I am providing the best possible care for all the critters that are entrusted to me.
I have so much respect for the methods and how much they have benefited my clients. Fear Free starts with how I introduce myself to a new pet client, it aids the elderly pets at medicine time, it helps pets overcome their separation anxiety, makes the trips to the vets more comfortable, and employs rewards and praise for training pets to be calm walking companions. The Fear Free methods ensure that I and my team give priority to each pet’s emotional and physical well-being in everything we do.
This program has shaped the path that I have taken and provided me with the best tools to offer the pets in my care. When a pet owner entrusts their pet to me or my team they know that they have hired a qualified professional.
Quarantine has been a boon for pet shelters. Many people have found that adding a dog or cat to their household relieves boredom and loneliness during Covid-19. The challenge with having a new pet is that your training options are limited since in person obedience classes for dogs are on hold. And cats, being cats, need special one-on-one training to make them good family pets. While there are lots of books and online tutorials, with everything going on at home, pet training may be necessary but it can be low on the to-do list and that can have negative consequences.
If you have a dog that likes to jump up on people, pull on their leash, and misbehave around other canines, Crockett’s Critter Care now offers Walk &Train. In addition to walking your pooch for exercise, potty breaks, and mental stimulus – we will include Fear Free better behavior training to address common pet concerns. While you’re taking care of your children, attending to Zoom meetings or conference calls, we can give you a break and your pup the attention it needs to be a charming companion.
Jeanne Crockett recently achieved Fear Free Elite Status which she earned after three years of Fear Free Training. Fear Free promotes awareness of the animal’s emotional welfare. Fear Free professionals are trained to recognize and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Through calming techniques and gentle guidance things like giving medication, trimming nails, and visiting the vet can become hassle-free happy experiences.
These techniques work with cats as well as dogs. Click the links to learn more about Walk &Train and the Fear Free methods on our website, or call Jeanne at (252) 635-2655 to see how she can help you have a harmonious household.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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