A family pet is lost every 2 seconds in North America

I am that person who hangs up signs in my neighborhood for lost and found pets, posts photos on NextDoor of strange dogs that I see wandering around, and share posts on my Facebook page for local pets whose owners are looking for them. 

I have joined in pet search parties, have helped owners get kitties in distress down from high perches in trees, and have placed white erase boards with other people’s missing pet information on my front lawn.  July has the distinction of having the largest number of pets go missing because of the Independence Day celebrations.

Fireworks are very scary for pets.  Some tremble in fear even when they are safe in the house, some escape from their yard in terror, and some bolt right out the front door into the thick of it.  All have been petrified. Some are picked up by animal control.  Some come home injured. Unfortunately, some never come home.  My research reveals that a family pet is lost every 2 seconds in North America, 10 million pets are lost every year, 1 out of 3 pets will be lost in their lifetime and not just due to fireworks. 


Original artwork by Kate Goodman

You must be proactive to keep your furry friends safe at home. Start by microchipping. In case you get separated from your pet, the chip will connect them back to you. Be sure to pet-proof your house and property so that they don’t wander without you.  That means walking your yard to look for holes that have been dug under fences or gaps in the fence that your critter can scoot through. Also be sure the gate latches and closes securely.  

Inside the house, check doors, screens, and windows to ensure that they don’t provide an accidental escape route. Cats can be very dexterous about pulling at screens to open them up just enough to slip outside. Windows are better closed so curious cats aren’t given the chance to try out their hunting skills. 


Crockett’s Critter Care team members always check the fit of the collar or to ensure the pet can’t slip out or back out of it.  As a rule, extension leashes are not used as they don’t allow for proper control of the pet and they don’t protect them from sniffing out hidden dangers like snakes.  If a dog pulls or lunges after squirrels, birds, rabbits, or other perceived prey, we suggest using two leashes, just to be safe.

Original artwork by Kate Goodman


Remove your dog’s collar before they are placed in the crate.  It is a standard practice in the veterinarian’s office as a dog can be injured or worse if their collar is caught and they struggled to get free.  When your pet is crated, secure all the latches so they can’t escape.


Secure your pet while riding in the car, just as you would any other passenger. Crating your pet allows them their own space while traveling and provides assurance if you are in an accident that they won’t be ejected or run off in fright.   

Following these simple tips, staying aware of your pet, and being proactive is the best way to keep your pet safely with you and not a statistic or featured on a lost pet poster. If you need other suggestions for pet safety whether they are furry, feathered, or finned give me a call or send me an email.  I am ready to help!



You don’t look like you and it’s scary.

We expect that a Halloween mask can set off a pet’s defense mechanism. Dogs may growl and cats may hiss at the site of something they perceive as scary.  Imagine how we must look to them now that our new protocol is to wear a face mask? 

Our pets may get anxious when they can’t see our full face whether we are with them daily or just showing up on occasion.  They don’t know if, behind the mask is a smile or a scowl.  They hear us speak, but they don’t see our mouths move. 

Peek-a-Boo without the BOO!

Make it easier for your pets, especially your canine companion, by getting them accustomed to seeing a mask on their household members. To get started at home, go slow and make sure your dog is relaxed. 

First cover your mouth and nose with your hand and give your pet a treat.  Repeat this several times until they expect the treat and look forward to the training exercise.  Your pet is creating a good association with having your face covered and getting a treat.  Now try it with your mask of choice and repeat the exercise (and reward) while wearing the covering for longer intervals. 

Get Everyone Involved

Walk around your house, wearing a mask while talking to your pet and offering treats.  Also have the other members of your household do the same.  This will help your pet get used to seeing a mask on people in general.  Once your pet is comfortable in the house, you are ready to do the exercise outside.

When someone walks by with a mask give your dog a treat.  The treat is now a reward for learning how to take masks in stride.  The key to success is keeping your pet undisturbed at each phase of learning.  If your pet starts to get anxious – go back to the last step where it was calm.  There is no hurry.  Masks are going to be around for a while.  

Big Benefits

After this training, your pet should be a little more comfortable to the visit the veterinarian, unconcerned about walking past other people wearing masks, and happy to see their favorite pet sitter and dog walker. 

Let me know how the training goes or contact me if you have any questions about keeping your pets happy and relaxed as we start to venture out into our new world.



Pets respond to their humans being home.

My dogs, Davy and Ginger, and I have been spending a lot of time together since mid-March when COVID-19 rocked our world.  I’ve been free to walk them more often and hang out with them. They have been great companions throughout and are practicing their obedience training and learning some fun new tricks while I catch up on a lot of reading. 

I’ve also noticed some subtle differences in their behavior.  Davy, my German Shepherd is more content to stay in the yard without me.  Ginger, my Walker Hound, is more nervous on her walks because of all the extra people enjoying the outside.  To lessen her stress, our walks have been shortened.

Nice to see you, now go away.

I did an informal survey of my friends with pets to see how their households are holding up. Many reported that their pets are confused about the humans being home so much. One cat servant noted their pet gives them a look that says, “Don’t you have someplace to be?” Other fur babies are clingy, and since pets are tuned in to our emotions, that could be because they are picking up our distress along with the change of routine.

Another pet owner reported, “My dogs DEMAND a long walk every day now.  They’ve had more walks in the last 7 weeks than they have had their whole lives.  My cats can’t get enough of us.  I am grateful for this time with all of them.”

What do you mean you’re leaving?

In every case the pets and their humans have had to make adjustments from the dogs becoming personal trainers to cats who yowl when left alone in a room. And there will be readjustments when we’re allowed to go back to business as almost normal. This is especially problematic if your dog is a puppy, a young dog, or one that you recently adopted.  It will be easier if you start preparing your pets now instead of letting them work it out on their own. 

If your pets are already having separation anxiety just when you step out to get the mail, it is time to start retraining them to have confidence that you will return.  Other forms of misbehavior like busting through the baby gates or taking over your bed and furniture need to be addressed before they get to be bigger problems with tougher solutions.

Need help?

Go back to their basic training, change up your routine, and start to desensitize your pets to separation. If you find this retraining to be challenging, give me a call 252-635-2655 or drop me an email and I might be able to suggest some options for you. After all, we are all in this together!   



Your pet needs a guardian and a plan.

The Covid-19 pandemic is prompting people to think about alternative care for their pets should they become incapacitated. I’ve had several worried callers reach out to me asking if I can care for their pets if they become ill. They are smart to be putting a plan in place. Here are the tips I have offered my friends and clients:

Update Your Pet’s Information

Be sure you have your pet’s current vaccine information, feeding instructions, medical history, and the address and phone number of your emergency contacts and veterinarian. Remember, boarding facilities require your pets to have up to date vaccines before they will allow them in day or overnight programs.  

You should have a guardianship form naming a specific person who has agreed to care for your pet if you are no longer able to do so. The form should list the friend, neighbor, relative, or a professional caregiver who can take responsibility for your pet on a temporary basis as well as the long term plan for your pet’s care. You can download the guardianship form here and then fill it out for each of your pets. Also, consider the financial burden that comes with pet care and make arrangements to support your pet’s temporary living arrangement.

Prepare a Comfort Kit

Stub the cat
Blankets bring comfort.

Have your pet’s comfort kit ready before you need it. The kit includes food, medications and prescriptions with instructions, vet’s contact information, favorite toys, treats, a blanket and bedding, and a leash for your dog.  Be sure that your pet has their proper ID tags on their collar or harness and microchip information. Include a current photo of your pet for their caregivers in the event they get separated.  If you have a carrier for transport, set it out where it can be easily located.  

Long Term Planning

Provide instructions for pets that are ill or elderly.  Consider leaving your credit card number on file with your local vet in case your pet has to see the doctor or be hospitalized.  And also, be clear about your wishes should your pet become terminally ill or has no quality of life.

If you are interested in permanently placing your pet, it is important to present a full picture of their personality and habits. A rambunctious dog would be a better match with an outdoorsy type rather than a bookworm who would much prefer a lap cat for company.

By preparing now, you’ll be ready for the unexpected. If you have other pet care concerns, please contact me and I will help if I am able.



Take a lesson on being in the now.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fear, anxiety and stress of the Covid-19 pandemic but, I have decided to take a life lesson from my pets; I am focusing on the now. While I am being safe, following the CDC guidelines and social distancing, I am keeping informed but not glued to the deluge of information about the virus. I am watching informative webinars, listening to uplifting Ted Talks, assembling jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with my pets.  Honestly, this pandemic would be even harder to endure if I didn’t have Davy and Ginger to keep me company and to set a good example.

They are consistent in their routine; they wake me up at 5 a.m. for breakfast every day. (There is no such thing as a weekend in my house.)  After breakfast and their backyard outing, we get some exercise with our routine walk – first Davy and then Ginger.  Each dog sees this neighborhood stroll differently.  Davy wants to experience all the sights and smells and has a keen eye for the possibility of saying “Hi” to someone he knows.  Ginger is happier with her nose to the ground – always on the alert for a new scent.


To keep the walk interesting, we vary pace with slow, medium, and fast gaits.  Once we’re back home, I’ll ask them to do spins, sits, stays, go arounds, and come to keep their obedience training sharp. Now to keep our mental acuity up and to add some fun, we are going through the AKC trick dog list.  Davy is learning to crawl on command and Ginger is learning to give me her paw.  There are a lot of fun items on the Trick List that will take a while to get to and I have the extra time right now, so why not?

All day long they keep me engaged and out of my mental mess. They remind me when it’s feeding time, snuggle time, and when I need to take a break from my office work. Davy will lay his head on my lap and Ginger will do her dance at the door.  They are great companions and provide unconditional love.  Davy is in charge of security and is quick to let me know if a stranger is getting too close to the house. While Ginger is responsible for reminding me to slow down and savor life.  She demonstrates it by enjoying a peaceful rest in a sunny spot.

Sunhine playtime is a great stress reliever.


Other pets are also a wonderful source of comfort and activity during these odd times.  Cats are social animals that love to be around their humans.  Many enjoy playing with toys, being brushed, bird-watching from their favorite windowsill, or chasing a laser light.  Cats can learn tricks, too.  Some cats fetch as well as dogs. Just be patient!

Horses can certainly help take your mind off your troubles and provide a lot of activity.  Grooming is a great way to quiet your mind, a trail ride is perfect for spending time outdoors, and just being around horses is good for your soul.

If you have a bird at home, now is a great time to enrich your bird’s cage.  Our avian friends are intelligent and get bored with life in a cage.  In the wild, they are constantly searching for food, discovering something new, and staying active. 

By offering new and colorful toys, perches with different textures, adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to their diet you can bring a lot of that excitement to their cage life.  Don’t forget some yummy pine nuts for a treat.  You can also add some pleasant sounds by playing music they like to hear.  I know a bird who loves Enya.  Experiment and observe them enjoying their upgraded environment.  

Fish and reptiles are a great distraction, too. Watching fish swimming and meandering around an aquarium can be soothing and hypnotic. The slow pace of your pet tortoise or lizard is what helps them have a long life. Keep that in mind as we stay home and slow down.


Pets can bring people comfort and calm during these trying times.  I have seen more people walking pets in my neighborhood than I have ever seen before.  They must be feeling the same benefits that I am feeling.  It’s going to be a long few months.  If you are feeling anxious, spend some quality time with your pets to help you cope and mimic their ability to focus just on the moment.



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.