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.
Crockett’s Pet Project for 2020 is the Craven County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit. Our goal is to help raise funds for their needs. We rate them as Five Paws Up.
Police Dogs: “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
They identify by scent first, then voice, then by silhouette.
A dog’s sense of smell is 200-400 times stronger than a human. A bloodhound can smell a human buried 12 feet underground and can sometimes follow a scent of a missing person weeks later
Police Dogs serve from six to nine years.
German shepherds can search an area four times faster than a human
K-9s can sniff out a car in three minutes.
A K-9 is trained to bite and hold – not to chew or release quickly.
Potential K-9s don’t start training until they are between 12 and 15 months of age.
Craven County Sheriff’s Unit K-9 Unit
Sheriff Hughes and his department have been resourceful in building this unit and our community has been wonderful in giving donations. It usually costs around $15,000 to buy and train a police dog. Our police dogs were donated or brought in from other departments. They are:
K-9 Ghost – Belgian Malinois
K-9 Ringo – Belgian Malinois
K-9 Stihl – Belgian Malinois
K-9 Nibbles – Pit Bull
K-9 Rhys – Bloodhound
K-9 Nibbles was rescued in 2015 from a suspected dog-fighting ring in Ontario Canada. He came to us by way of an organization in Philadelphia, PA, called Throw Away Dogs who specializes in rehabilitating and training dogs for law enforcement.
Every month the K-9 Team with the most illegal narcotics taken off the streets is awarded “Top Dog of the Month.”
According to Sheriff Hughes, our K9 program is an essential part of our fight against illegal narcotics being sold and trafficked in our county.
Learn more about our K-9s by viewing their very own FB page: Craven County Sheriff’s Office – K-9 Unit.
Donations in any amount are appreciated. 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. Your donation will make our county even safer.
At Crockett’s Critter Care, our first meeting is a chance for us to get to know your pet and your expectations. Taking the time to introduce your pet to our sitters is the foundation for establishing a positive relationship. Together we’ll talk about your pet’s personality and needs. We will discuss your pet’s health and what we can do to support it. Then together, we’ll create a schedule that will work for you and your pet so that you have a happy home.
Shy Cats and Fearful Dogs
We enter quietly (without ringing doorbells) and usually let your pet come to us with little fanfare. It is a time for us to observe whether your pet is friendly or fearful with strangers. We many not look at your pet or lure it toward us if it is frightened. We respect your pet’s space.
We are concerned with your pet’s physical and emotional well-being. We don’t force ourselves on your pet. We let your pet approach us when it is ready. We are trained to understand your pets’ body language and we adjust our behavior accordingly.
To show we’re friendly and safe, we may toss a few high value treats (the good stuff) to create a positive association with us. We want your dogs to approach us with happy tail wags and your cats with contented purrs when we come to visit.
With patience, gentleness, and the right approach we believe that we will win your pet over. We move slowly, speak softly, and allow your pet to choose us. Some pets love us immediately and some need time and distance to build trust. We don’t rush this introductory phase. We are in it for the long haul and hope that our first meeting is the beginning of a long and happy relationship with each pet and its owner.
Here kitty, kitty…
If you cat is hiding when we arrive for our client meeting, let it stay where it is. Don’t try to pick it up and bring it out to meet us. It is hiding to avoid us because it is afraid. We are fine with that. Many of these cats will come up to us in their own time. Meanwhile, on our kitty visits, we will make sure your cat is healthy, eating, drinking water, and using the litter box appropriately. We like to do a head count to make sure no one is stuck in a closet.
For shy cats in hiding, we will sit in a safe spot and read out loud or just talk to your cat softly. We may continue to toss a yummy treat its way. We have pheromones that we can spray on your cat’s bedding and a music cube that plays calming music that we can leave behind to alleviate your pet’s anxieties. Many of our clients are amazed at the pictures we send of their scared cat or fearful dog relaxing in close proximity to us.
Our initial meet and greet is a courtesy visit to determine if we can meet your expectations and your pet’s needs.
Once we’ve determined that Crockett’s Critter Care can provide the care your pet needs on the schedule you require we’ll set up our visit plan. And we take the time to learn where all the pet supplies are so we aren’t perceived as cat burglars by your protective pet. We need to know where the treats, leash, and cleaning supplies are located so that we can safely and confidently care for your pet.
Professional Pet Sitter
Crockett’s Critter Care pet sitters are trained in pet first aid/CPR and receive ongoing education in our field. Our experience, training, and knowledge make us the professional choice for caring for your pet when you need a pet sitter or a dog walker. Jeanne Crockett, the owner of Crockett’s Critter Care, was chosen as Pet Sitter International’s 2020 Pet Sitter of the Year. This honor was judged on providing pet sitting excellence, adherence to superior business ethics and standards, and outstanding contributions to the industry and local community.
Let us introduce ourselves to you and your pet. We’re here to care for finned, feathered, and furry critters as if they were our own.
How prepared are you? A little, a lot, gone overboard, never crossed your mind? North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes so that will be my focus today.
Here are some things to think about: the internet and tv may go down; power may go out; rain may cause floods; wind may cause damage; evacuations may be ordered. Everyone is under a lot of stress scrambling to get what they need to survive and protect their belongings.
Make a plan for your pet ahead of time: decide where they will go, how they will get there, what supplies and records you will take, and know what you can do to help keep them calm.
Prepare an emergency kit for each animal. Take water, food, can opener, carriers or crates, litter box and litter, puppy pads, plastic bags, pickup bags, medicine, medical records, leash, collar, harness, pet photo, ID tags. Suggestion: take paper records and a photo. While you may have excellent records and pictures on your smartphone, you may not be able to access them. Store paper reports in a waterproof container (zip lock bags are handy) and take them with you. You may also scan records and photos to a file and email the file to a friend or family member who lives in a safe area.
Before the bad weather approaches, bring your pets inside. Keep them safe. You don’t want to search for a terrified pet that has escaped from the yard.
Stay calm – your pets are sensitive to your feelings. You can help them stay relaxed by packing their favorite blanket or toy, bringing a long-lasting chew toy, spraying Feliway (cats) or Adaptil (dogs) on bedding or towels that can be put into their carriers or crates.
If your pet is not familiar with going into carriers or crates – teach them to love them. Leave them up in the house, toss treats in them, feed them next to them and gradually move the food inside. If they have to spend time confined in one, they will be more comfortable if they have a good association with them.
Stay tuned in to the weather reports and, if you have to leave – don’t dilly dally. You are your pet’s best guardian so plan to take them with you.
Early this summer I received a call from Polly, a worried pet owner with a specific concern. Her little beagle, Piper, needed to have surgery on her leg and Polly needed help with post-surgical care. This care included bringing Piper in from the car on their trip home from the hospital and helping Piper go outside three times a day until she was able to walk on her own.
Piper had had surgery on the other leg two years before so Polly already knew what to expect and how to plan for Piper’s comfort. After discussing the details, I said, “Sure, we will be happy to help.” Polly was so relieved that she scheduled the surgery after our phone call and called me back with the dates.
Fortunately, Piper proved to be a cooperative patient. She was always happy to see us and did her business right on schedule. The Crockett’s Critter Care team gently moved her from her resting area to the yard and back on each visit. Initially, we carried Piper up and down the long ramp off of the deck and placed her gingerly on the ground. She remained leashed to protect her from doing anything that might jeopardize her recovery. As she healed, she was able to maneuver the distance from the house to the yard and back on her own.
We checked Piper’s incision regularly to make sure it was healing well. When it was time for the bandage to be removed, we were able to do so without any fuss. Piper’s progress was steady and uneventful – just what the doctor ordered! It was gratifying and rewarding for us to be a part of Piper’s recovery and to see her walking on all fours. We love getting calls that are out of the ordinary.
Happy pet, happy home.
Polly was appreciative of our help saying, “Cannot begin to express how grateful I am to Jeanne and her staff for the help they are to Piper and me. Wonderful.”
We believe that Piper will have a full recovery so she can return to the Beagle lifestyle that she was born into – sniff, stop, smell, roll, wag her tail, enjoy some treats, and gaze adoringly at her doting master.