End of Year Update

posted Dec 17, 2017, 10:19 AM by Heather Barker

Dear Clients, Friends, and Family,

Smack dab in the midst of December, I'd be remiss if I didn't wish everyone a Happy Holiday. Clients have already left for Christmas and I'm blessed to have a busy holiday schedule filled with familiar furry faces and quite a few new friends. As always, I am blessed that despite working through the holiday season, I spent my time with animals who are content to cuddle or go for a walk in the snow . . . assuming Colorado gets a bit more this year!

With the new year approaching I've been reflecting on the past year and wanted to reach out to my clients and everyone who follows my days. As many already know, this past year I built a house with my fiance and moved to east Aurora. The decision was a difficult one as it meant moving a service area I'd spent ten years establishing, but I was eager to finally own a home and to have made that accomplishment in life.

Unfortunately, four months after living in my new home, my fiance abruptly ended our relationship. I go back and forth on whether it's professional to share my life circumstance, but I have always made a point to connect intimately with my clients, so I hope everyone will understand why I'm sharing this information now. Despite this unexpected, upsetting, and life-altering change, I am focused on rebuilding my future.

Sadly, that means losing the house, as I can not afford to keep it on my own. At this time, I'm planning to move back to my old service area, so I wanted to emphasize that despite having just moved this summer, I am still servicing DTC, Englewood, Centennial, Lone Tree, and parts of Highlands Ranch, and plan to continue accepting clients in that service area. I will be moving back to that area sometime next year, hopefully in early Spring, and will no longer be accepting new clients in Aurora due to distance.

I hope that you will continue referring your friends and family; I'm eager to continue building my client base and welcoming new pets and their humans into the Petcetera family. I am so fortunate to work with animals every day and to have a job that I love and continue to be passionate about 10 years after bringing it to life. I'm also incredibly grateful to have clients like you who treat me as a member of the family, continually expressing generosity and gratitude for my service.

I look forward to 2018 and the many wonderful things that lie ahead. Thank you for being there for me!


Notice of 2017 Rate Increase

posted Oct 25, 2016, 9:29 AM by Heather Barker   [ updated Oct 26, 2016, 9:04 AM ]

Hi Everyone!

It's been a long time since I've made a blog post, an unfortunate symptom of my busy pet sitting (and life) schedule!

In the past few years, I have explored a lot of options for my ever-growing business. As I steadily receive more business inquiries than I can handle on my own, I've spent the past couple of years exploring various ways to provide service to everyone and grow my client base without negatively affecting my own work load and quality of service. I attempted hiring Independent Contractors for a period, which worked out well until the IC's were too busy to help (leaving me with more work than I could handle!) While I've considered hiring trainable employees, I eventually came to the conclusion that what I pride myself on the most is having a strong connection with my client base; the ultimate compliment I can receive is that my clients consider me a part of the family, and growing my business past what I could handle on my own left me feeling detached from new clients. In the end, I decided that having others work FOR me was not the right solution.

At this time, I've decided to continue working as a sole proprietor. I have established many strong connections with other pet sitters who I'm happy to refer to and rely on in times of emergency, holidays, or when I am booked. While I've been caring for animals in one way or another for the majority of my life, I feel that my almost 10 years of professional experience as a pet care specialist has proven my level of superior care, commitment, and reliability. As I haven't raised my rates in almost three years, now is the time to do so and to make my rates comparable with the national average.

I realize that rate increases may be difficult for my clients, but I hope that you will recognize and reward my commitment to your pets and to you. I created Petcetera Pet Services, LLC out of my life-long passion for animal husbandry. Ten years later, I am as passionate as ever. I consider myself to be extremely blessed - not only did I create a business from the bottom-up, it has continued to grow and thrive. I've had the opportunity to learn to care for so many types of animals, to understand and interpret their varied behavioral issues, to help correct those issues, and to provide ongoing compassionate care for the myriad of special needs and senior pets that I love caring for so much.

I hope that all of my clients realize how important they and their pets are to me. I don't just love them "like" they are my own - I love them because they are my own in a very special way. I take so much pride in being called "Auntie Heather;" there's no other profession in the world that can bring me so much joy. Thank you so much for allowing me the privilege of caring for your pets!

Live Long and Pawsper,

Owner, Petcetera Pet Services, LLC

****New Rates are Effective January 1, 2017****

A la Carte Dog Walking

20 minutes*     $20     (mid-day M - F only)
30 minutes       $22
45 minutes       $30
60 minutes       $35

Potty Break Monthly Package Deals

3 visits per week    $228 (1 cancellation per month may be credited to your account)

5 visits per week    $360 (2 cancellations per month may be credited to your account)

Full Service Monthly Package Deals

3 visits per week    $240 (1 cancellation per month may be credited to your account)

5 visits per week    $400 (2 cancellations per month may be credited to your account)

Pet Sitting

(Dogs, Cats, Small Animals & Reptiles)

30 minutes     $22
45 minutes     $30
60 minutes     $35

Extended Care is available at an hourly discount. Please contact us to inquire!

Pet sitting services consist of a 30 to 60 minute visit that includes maintenance & companionship customized for your pet. Services include food & water replenishment, litter box scooping, outdoor walks, play exercise, out-of-cage time, small animal cage cleaning, light pet-related cleaning, medication administration, and complimentary mail & plant-watering services. 

Pet Sitting Vacation Packages

(Let your pet enjoy a "stay"cation at home while you travel.)

3 visits per day        (30 minutes each)                              $60 per day                                                                                                                                                       

Go on vacation and avoid stressing your pet by boarding him in a kennel with our vacation package. Enjoy the added benefit of giving your home extra security by keeping that "lived in" appearance while you're away.

How to get a last minute pet sitter

posted Dec 3, 2013, 9:32 AM by Heather Barker   [ updated Dec 3, 2013, 9:34 AM ]

October 17, 2013 By

We’ve all been there – something comes up last minute and the scrambling begins to get it all done because always, whatever comes up last minute is THE-MOST-AWESOME-THING-EVER-THAT-IS-GOING-TO-BE-EPIC!  Like a ski weekend with friends, or a free ticket to Vegas, or a dinner date, or a promotion party, or a new shampoo that you want to try – whatever it is, you are SO THERE!!!  But wait, you have pets that will need to be fed and let out for potty breaks and given their kibble-yum-yums at 9:10 before they get sung to sleep by your wonderful pet sitter – OMG, you need to call your pet sitter NOW because you need them to come to your house in like, 3 hours because you have some awesomeness to attend to.  Here are tips on how to ensure a pet sitter answers you call and agrees to your last minute request.  Because you never know, they may be out on some awesomeness of their own.

1) Call.  Don’t text, don’t email – do it the old fashioned way and call them.

2) Be gracious and respectful, and if you can be, be a little apologetic – you want them to drop their own plans so they can help you out.  Let me repeat that – they are HELPING YOU OUT.  Yes, it is their business to take care of pets and we all want to grow our business.  But do you call Kohl’s an hour after they’ve closed and say “OMG I’m going on a trip and I REALLY REALLY need this pair of pants before I go!  I’ll be there in 10 minutes if you could just open the doors, I’ll be so quick about it”.  NO, you don’t because that would be rude.  Don’t be rude.  Ever. No one likes a pain in the ass.

3) ASK if they can help vs ASSUMING they can help.  ”Something came up and I was hoping you are available this weekend to take care of Fluffy and BamBam.  I’d really appreciate it, if you need to adjust the times you visit that’s ok, I can be flexible because I know it’s last minute and I’m sure you are very busy.  You come highly recommended and I’d really like to use your services” vs “I got a last minute invite to the beach house this weekend, I’m at the liquor store picking up some beer and wine, man it’s going to be epic.  I left the key under the mat for you, I just have cats so they’re easy and you don’t have to meet them.  I’ll pay you when I get back”.

4) DON’T QUIBBLE ABOUT THE PRICE.  If you call a reputable pet sitter and question their prices, they are not going to want to help you out.  You don’t quibble about the price of the Kohl’s pants, it’s rude.  Remember, you’re the one going away last minute, you’re the one who needs help.  Either the price is right for you or it isn’t.  If it isn’t, say thank you and hang up and call someone else.  But good luck because you’re in the final countdown, your beach is calling.

5) The easiest way to get a last minute pet sitter is to avoid needing one in the first place. PLAN AHEAD.  Now, I’m all for spontaneous weekends and traffic jams and things that come up; BUT if you call me on Thursday and tell me your plane leaves on Saturday morning and you need a pet sitter for a week – I KNOW YOU’VE HAD THOSE PLANE TICKETS FOR WEEKS!!!!  I KNOW!  Thanksgiving is coming up and guess what – THEY PRE-PRINT IT ON EVERY SINGLE CALENDAR – so you really have no excuse for not planning ahead when it comes to holidays.  Christmas is always on December 25th.  Call me today for your reservation.


If you do all of the above, and most of them boil down to common respect and courtesy you’re pet sitter should say the 5 words your longing to hear “It would be my pleasure”.


Faces from Today, Nov 16

posted Nov 16, 2013, 4:15 PM by Heather Barker

Faces from today: Joey, Sammie, Shandy, Spike, Murphy, Vinny, Pumpkin, Claire & Oscar. (Top left to bottom right.) Not pictured: Elliot (cat), Petie (Lovebird) 

Accepting Holiday Reservations Now!

posted Sep 14, 2013, 10:40 AM by Heather Barker

As summer comes to a close, it's time to send out a reminder that holiday reservations fill up fast. In order to ensure that Petcetera Pet Services cares for your pet this holiday season, please book your pet care reservations as soon in advance as possible.

We are already booked for overnights over the Christmas holiday.

Don't forget to check out our Pet Sitting and Vacation Care Packages!


With Love, From Petcetera

posted Feb 11, 2013, 10:46 PM by Heather Barker

With Valentine's Day around the corner and a new marketing campaign underway, I've spent a lot of time recently reflecting on the myriad reasons why I love Petcetera. Yes, being a business owner is one of the most rewarding experiences I think I'll ever encounter; the benefits of pursuing my passion, of waking up to work with creatures that constantly affirm their appreciation and compassion, fulfills my spirit in ways that no other profession could. Not a day goes by that I don't find myself acknowledging my gratitude; whether it was fate or my own ambition, somehow I was allowed the opportunity to create Petcetera, to watch it grow and flourish, to welcome humans and animals alike into my life, many who have helped mold me as a person. Because of the business, my life is better in ways I could never have imagined. I spend every day loving what I do, cherishing the pets I care for, adoring the clients who appreciate me, and I use opportunities like Valentine's Day to prove it.

As with most holidays, clients who book with Petcetera during the week of Valentine's Day will receive a special token of our appreciation - not only for their pets, who I so often tend to spoil - but for each and every pet parent, because I love that you chose Petcetera! Myself and the rest of Petcetera's Pet Care Specialists want you to know how much you are loved and appreciated. We hope you'll enjoy your surprise!

For those clients I won't be seeing this week, know that people like you are the best kind, those that treasure their pets and provide the best care possible, not only by choosing Petcetera, but by constantly spoiling their pets and making sure that they know they are loved. Many of my clients have committed their home to a rescued animal, while others have dedicated their time to caring for an elderly or special needs pet. No matter what type of pet you have, we at Petcetera adore you for allowing us to share in you and your pets' lives. "Your Pets, Our Passion" is our motto, which could not ring more true. They may be your babies, but we love them like our own, every day of the year. We are passionate about pet care, but most of all, about the clients and pets we have grown to love.

Happy Valentine's Day from Heather, Jeremy, Mindy and Janet!!

January is National Walk Your Dog Month!

posted Jan 14, 2013, 3:17 PM by Heather Barker   [ updated Jan 14, 2013, 3:21 PM ]

Happy New Year!

Right in time for New Year's Resolutions, January is National Walk Your Dog Month!

Here are ten reasons why walking your dog is beneficial:

    1. Provides an outlet for their energy.  Dogs build up a certain amount of energy every day that needs to be expended.  If it doesn’t happen through walking, it will often result in bad, destructive behavior or separation anxiety.  You may have heard that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and also, a bored dog can become a bad dog.  A good walk can also significantly calm a hyper or energetic dog.
    2. Walking aids greatly in training your dog.  Draining energy results in a calmer, satisfied and more submissive dog who is much more likely to focus on you and your training.  The walk itself should be a time of training.  Done correctly, it can reinforce the bond between you and your dog and will help to establish you as the pack leader.  Remember that you should be in control and walking your dog, not him in control and walking you.  See future articles for tips on training your dog to walk properly on a loose leash. 
    3. Fulfills his natural roaming and exploring instincts.  In nature dogs walk as a pack and roam for miles every day searching for food and water.  Even though your dog is not a wild dog, walking is still in their natural instinct.  Dogs are working, thinking animals that need a purpose beyond just sitting or sleeping all day long.  Walking provides a sense of direction and accomplishment.  Regular walks can help prevent her desire to run away or bolt out the door in an attempt to fulfill that roaming instinct.
    4. Provides both physical and mental stimulation.  Exploring their surroundings with their senses is also an instinctual activity for dogs.  During the course of a walk your dog will be exposed to all sorts of smells, sights and sounds.  This also acts as a mental workout for the brain.
    5. Provides much needed social interaction.  Socialization is an important part of any dog’s life, especially in their early years.  When walking you will most likely encounter other people, children and other dogs.  This will help to build her confidence and social skills.  Dogs who are not walked can become more fearful and shy, or might lack the necessary social skills to interact with people and other dogs.
    6. Provides exposure to a wide variety of “worldly” things, creating a more confident and stable dog.  A dog who is walked often will become more comfortable around all sorts of things such as bicycles, skateboards, traffic noises, loud trucks, mailmen, etc.  Dogs without this exposure can become fearful, skittish and territorial, seeing every strange sound, vehicle or person as a threat.  Many dogs who bark constantly are barking out of fear of everything they hear or see that is strange to them.  If you walk the same route regularly, it can also possibly assist your dog in finding his way home if he gets out of your yard and lost.
    7. If you own other dogs, walking them together will help them to bond with each other as a pack and prevent behavior problems between them.
    8. Dogs are social beings that crave our attention - walking with them provides your attention and interaction with them.
    9. Regular walking can lengthen and improve the quality of life for your dog.
    10. And best of all… you will have a walking buddy and a reason yourself to get out, get moving, enjoy the fresh air and get yourself healthy and fit.


However, it is important to remember that during extreme weather, long walks may not be the best option. Here are some winter tips rom the ASPCA:

  1. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags. 
  2. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice. 
  3. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  4. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself. 
  5. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape. 
  6. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

Happy Howl-o-ween!

posted Oct 31, 2012, 1:47 PM by Heather Barker   [ updated Oct 31, 2012, 1:47 PM ]

Dexter enjoys his Howl-o-ween gift from Petcetera!
One of the most fun events of the season is upon us - Howl-o-ween!! We hope that everyone enjoys a fun night of Trick-or-Treating and handing out candy. In the meantime, here are some important tips from the ASPCA to ensure that everyone, including your pets, have a safe evening!

Halloween Safety Tips

Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you


Meet Whinny! Plus, Puppy Packages!

posted Sep 10, 2012, 2:03 PM by Heather Barker   [ updated Sep 10, 2012, 2:04 PM ]

Whinny is the newest addition to the Petcetera family! Isn't she adorable? In person, she's even smaller than you might imagine. I definitely have a case of puppy love and am going to enjoy caring for her while she grows. It's hard to believe that she'll go from her current weight of 9lb to a 40lb English Bulldog beauty. I am very excited to be a part of Whinny's life!

English Bulldogs are a popular breed; Petcetera cares for many! I love this quote from the Wikipedia article about English Bullies: "Like all dogs, Bulldogs require daily exercise. If not properly exercised it is possible for a Bulldog to become overweight, which could lead to heart and lung problems, as well as joint issues. It has been said that bulldogs are "the most relentless farters in the canine world."

Bringing home a new puppy can be one of the most joyful - and stressful - times of your life! Our puppy packages are here to help make the transition to puppy ownership a breeze! Because puppies can only hold their bladder one hour per month of age, it is recommended that puppies be visited at least four times daily when the owner is out of town. For the working pet owner, we offer a monthly package with two visits per day. We'll provide socialization, play, and - most importantly - help with potty training!

Puppy Care Packages

Bringing home baby? Let us assist in caring for your precious pup with these great packages!

Vacation Package #1          

4 visits per day        (30 minutes each)                             $68 per day* 

Vacation Package #2          

4 visits per day        (20 minutes each)                              $56 per day*

Monthly Package #1            

visits per day        
(20 minutes each)                      $550 per month*                                    
5 days per week

  *Monthly & vacation packages must be paid in advance per month

Choosing a Pet Harness

posted Sep 9, 2012, 1:13 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Sep 9, 2012, 1:26 PM by Heather Barker ]

There are many factors to consider when choosing a pet harness.  In this article, we will outline several types of harnesses and the best applications for each.  

Before you head out to the pet store, it is important to have a good idea of how you will be using the harness.  No matter the harness you choose, it’s important to find one that properly fits the dog.  An improperly fit harness can cause safety hazards for the dog and for others walking about.  If you are still unsure after reading this article please consult your veterinarian and/or pet trainer.

There are 7 types of specific-use harnesses:

  1. Walking

Walking, or “standard” dog harnesses will help you control dog better and are safer than collars, which are notorious for causing neck and other bodily injury when dogs pull.

  1. Do you want the leash to attach on the top or front of the harness?
    1. Attaching it to the front will give you greater control over your dog.  This may be a better option for dogs that like to pull.
    2. Attaching it to the top will give your dog more freedom to walk from left to right.  This may be a better option for dogs that are calm and/or better trained.
  2. What material do you want?
    1. Nylon and Synthetic materials are durable and long lasting. This is a good option for dogs with thick coats, and for small to medium sized dogs.  This is not a good option for large dogs or dogs with sensitive skin as it can rub hard and cause skin irritation.
    2. Leather harnesses are a bit more expensive than nylon or cloth and are more aesthetically pleasing to most people.  Aside from looking nice, leather is the preferred option for heavier dogs, and for dogs that require frequent restraint.
    3. Padded harnesses can be made from a synthetic material, leather or cloth.  These are important to have with dogs that have very thin coats, as well as any dog that has sensitive skin.

  1. Training

Training dog harnesses have a slightly different fit than a walking harness.  Some are engineered to pull on the front and top of the harness at the same time.  Others are built with elastic bands around the dog’s shoulders.  These designs are to inhibit pulling while not causing the dog discomfort.

  1. Pulling

Pulling harnesses are not for the everyday dog owner.  These harnesses are built for strength training and competition.  They will wrap around the dogs chest, stomach, and back. Straps on the back of the harness attach to weights, or perhaps even a sled.  The dog will then pull the object.

  1. Service dog

Service dog harnesses are specially designed for service animals.  These will likely be made of high quality material.  Some will have pockets, and offer weather protection.  Nearly all will be lightweight, and allow for maximum communication between human and dog. Most service dog harnesses and vests have visible text notifying others of the dog’s role as a service animal.

  1. Identification

Identification harnesses are for a subset of service dogs.  The types of harnesses are very similar, but they do have one added feature: identification symbols are found on the side for police or fire and rescue animals.   They may also have messages such as “Do not pet”.

  1. Tracking

Tracking harnesses are used by a subset of service dogs as well (mainly rescue dogs).  Hunters and other sportspersons also use them.  These harnesses are typically more durable than a standard walking harness.  Many have quick release on/off snaps, multiple d-ring attachments for keeping the dog’s head down (for sniffers).  They also offer back plates to keep the harness in place, girth straps for comfort, and attachments for multiple dogs.

  1. Assistance or Rehabilitation

Assistance or Rehabilitation harnesses are for older or special needs pets.  In this category you will find harnesses that strap underneath the dog and allow you to lift him up stairs, and ones with wheels for dog amputees.  These are generally custom fit to the individual animal, and you should always discuss these harnesses with your veterinarian prior to purchasing.

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