Since my childhood spent roaming the farms of eastern Kentucky, I have always pursued a connection with animals and their environment.
Whether during nature hikes with my grandfather, or while watching the barn cat raise her kittens, my curiosity and compassion for animals of all kind have compelled me to learn more about them throughout my life. My passion for animals was sparked at an early age and has only grown more furious with time. It took me over twenty years to figure out that my life's calling was to take care of them professionally, and I can never see myself abandoning this path - it is where I was meant to be, and those who can turn their passion into a profession are the luckiest people in the world.
Like most other animal lovers, I've had pets since before I could pronounce their names. It all started with a hamster, then a bird and eventually my first dog. At age 15 my first American Eskimo dog, Rocky, came into my life and changed it forever. Because of my love of Eskies, I spent several years a Regional Director for Eskie Rescuers United, a non-profit American Eskimo dog rescue with chapters across the United States. I've since resigned my position but remain an Eskie and rescue dog advocate, volunteering my time when and where I can.
I also grew up with parrots in the household. My great-grandmother always had a pet budgie for me to admire, and one of my grade school teachers was a hobby breeder who developed my love of birds even further. She gifted my Dusky conure, Birdee, to me and nurtured my love of these beautiful creatures. We fostered my sister's Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo for a year and I delved headfirst into researching the entire Psittacine spectrum. I've had many parrots as pets over the years and posses a specialized knowledge about parrots that's rare in the pet care industry.
In my down time I enjoy working out at Orange Theory Fitness, practicing yoga, and am a full-time Star Trek and science fiction nerd. I attend the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas every August to convene with my fellow Trekkies. I believe in the positive messages that Gene Roddenberry instilled within the Star Trek franchise and feel that we can all benefit from his optimistic outlook of the future. I also love to read and have collected minerals and gems since I was a child. I relish exploring the wilds of Colorado and, of course, cheering on the Denver Broncos. Last, but definitely not least, there is nothing better than hanging out with my fiancee Jeremy and our furred, feathered, and scaly friends at home!
Petcetera’s creation marked the fruition of a long-time dream to own my own business while committing my life to professional pet care. I’ve always been happiest when caring for my menagerie; I knew I’d be even happier ensuring that the pets of Colorado share the same quality of life as my own. I’m blessed to have a job that I love and that I can pursue my life's passion every day. Owning and maintaining a successful business in the pet industry is a blessing I will never take for granted.
Live Long and Pawsper!
Her "real" name may be Echo, but like most of our furry friends, she goes by many other names. Piggy, Bella, Luna Bella, Piggabella, Tribble . . . and she knows them all! We call her Bella so often that we've even changed her name on her veterinary records - so there you have it! I adopted Bella from a family in 2007 when I lived in upstate New York. Why they were giving up such a great dog, I don't know, but adopting her was one of the best decisions of my life! She's the last living of my four American Eskimo dogs and despite the tumbleweeds of fur, she holds a special place in my heart. She was an incredible sibling to her Eskie brothers who've passed away, and a wonderful family ambassador to our two new dogs Blizzard and Marley. I often call Bella my comfort dog because she always knows when I need a kiss or a cuddle. She's getting older, but has the energy and vitality of a younger girl. We love her so much, as does everyone who meets her!
Blizzard was adopted from National Mill Dog Rescue along with brother Marley in the spring of 2015. All that we know about Blizzard's past is that for over seven years he was a sire at a Missouri puppy mill. Fortunately, aside from having only a handful of teeth, he is a healthy, handsome little guy who loves his Mama but is still afraid of strangers and men. He prefers women but is slowly warming up to his Pawpa. We are so grateful that life in the puppy mill didn't ruin his personality. His loves his sister Bella and has finally learned to play. His favorite toy is his nail clippers (go figure) and he loves his morning zoomies in the yard. His nick names are "Blizzy," "Blizz." "Blizz kid," "Little," "Potato," "Tiny Boy," and "Biscuit."
Marley was adopted along with Blizzard from National Mill Dog Rescue in the spring of 2015. After the loss of our American Eskimo boy, Evo, we wanted to bring company home for Bella as soon as possible. We also wanted two very different kinds of dogs! Jeremy's heart was set on a poodle and weren't we lucky that NMDR had one! We couldn't tell how big he was from his web site profile, and were delighted to find out that he's a Moyen, Klein, or "Medium" sized poodle - so smaller than a standard and larger than a toy. Marley was surrendered to the rescue after he couldn't be used as a breeder. Despite being from a breeder, it became very clear to us that Marley hadn't been raised in a home. We had to teach him how to use stairs! Although he was afraid of the TV at first, watching TV is now one of his favorite past times. Marley's real past time, however, is sleeping and cuddling with Mama or Pawpa. We joke that he's narcoleptic because of how much he sleeps (or at least lays around acting like he's sleeping, letting you move him into any position imaginable - or falling into it.) Marley can still be skittish around strangers but has a gentle, sweet disposition. We are very blessed to have found such a wonderful Poodle Boy!
Howie is a 12 year old Congo African Grey who I adopted from a troubled family, also in 2007 when I lived in upstate New York. A gift from husband to wife, Howie’s mom found that she did not have the time she felt necessary to give Howie while raising two human children of her own. Howie came to me in rough shape, missing a large chunk of his neck feathers from stress-induced feather picking. I am happy to say that shortly after his rescue, he stopped picking his feathers and almost 9 years later has never resumed the habit. Howie loves swinging in his cage making "dinosaur noises." He has a prolific vocabulary but is even better at mimicry. I have to admit, we really can't stand his impression of a smoke detector, but what can you do? His nightly "Goodnight Howie. I love you" makes those annoying noises obsolete!
Rita is a blue mutation parrotlet who I adopted from a client who could no longer care for her. Sadly, Rita lost her mate Roger and was all alone. She needed me! Rita can be hand shy like many other little birds, but she enjoys sitting on my shoulder and preening my hair. Her house is next to Howie's so that she has daily bird company, and she loves to chatter up a storm! She has such a fun little personality for being the tiniest of the parrot family. She really is a big bird bundled in a little bird's body :)
Zoey is an 8 year old Maine Coon kitty - the prettiest kitty of them all! Jeremy adopted Zoey from the shelter and has raised her since she was a tiny kitten. All grown up now, Zoey is your typical kitty. She loves sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping. Okay, she does like to cuddle and play, too ;) She'sa also helpful at killing moths and other household bugs. Go Zoey!
Evo - May 4, 2007 - February 26, 2015
Originally a kill shelter puppy, Evo was
rescued and transported by an anonymous person to a second shelter in
upstate NY. Adopted by me at 4 months old, he invigorated the joys and trials
of "bringing up pup" with an optimistic, positive energy. Evo was our pack
leader and kept a watchful eye on us all. Like Milo, there will never be enough that I can say about Evo. We lost him this year after a long battle with liver disease and suspected cancer. I miss him every day, but I am also incredibly grateful to him for bringing Blizzard and Marley into our lives. Evo died the day before Leonard Nimoy, and because of that I was able to find comfort in both of their losses my imagining them together. it may be silly, but it's what has helped me get through losing both my baby dog and one of my idols.
Milo – July 10th, 2008 - July 20th, 2012
I rescued Milo on behalf of Eskie Rescuers United in September of 2008. He was surrendered by the individual who bred him at only 10 weeks old and said to be blind, deaf, and had had a seizure. It took a month before he had one in my care, and thus began the difficult process of attempting to diagnose the cause of his seizures. After seeing numerous vets and a canine neurologist, the only conclusion was that Milo had suffered abuse, neglect, malnutrition, or worse - sadly, we'll never know. Milo was put on multiple medications to control his seizures, which greatly improved his quality of life.
I can't begin to explain the impact that Milo made on my life. Though he was a permanent foster with ERU, he was my baby in every day. He was my heart, my love, and I miss him terribly. In time, I'll hopefully be able to write more about Milo's amazing time with us on Earth. For now, I hold his spirit close to my heart and try to remember all of the cuddles we shared.
Birdee passed away on November 13, 2007 at the age of 12. Because of Birdee, I began joining online parrot communitiesand learned the priceless knowledge of parrots that I have today. Because of Birdee, I learned about proper avian diets, toys, perches, cage sizing, feather-picking . . . Because of Birdee, I was confident enough in my knowledge that my flock began to grow. Birdee was always the “Grandpa” of my flock, the shy little old man who chose when he wanted to be social. He loved occasional bits of cheese and the snuggle toy that our friends at BirdyBootymade for him. Losing Birdee was extremely difficult for me, especially since his death was so unexpected – necropsy results were inconclusive; we believe Birdee died of a stroke. I miss him so much and think of him every day. He has a memorial spot in the bed room, where we can see his photographs and remember everything we loved about our special friend.
Hammy became known during his time with me as the “million dollar hamster.” Adopted from a college student whose living circumstances prevented Hammy from coming along, only weeks after Hammy found his new home with us he began growing a tumor on his abdomen. After several weeks, the tumor was removed and Hammy seemed to be healing perfectly, until his abdomen became distended and swollen. Further veterinary care revealed that Hammy’s abdomen was full of fluid – the only way to find out the specific cause was invasive surgery, which probably would have killed him. Instead, I elected to have the fluid drained – 50mgs!! I knew that draining the fluid would not save Hammy’s life, but extend it.
The vet always gave Hammy a poor prognosis – they didn’t expect him to make it through the first week we took him in for the abdominal swelling. After the first drainage, they projected he wouldn’t last more than a few weeks, but Hammy lived over a month. Unfortunately, his tumor began to grow back during that time and his will seemed to diminish. I had to make the difficult decision to euthanize Hammy; I could not put Hammy through biweekly drainage sessions and tumor surgery for weeks on end – I didn’t feel that Hammy would want that either.
I invested over $700 in vet care for Hammy and I will never regret that decision. Veterinary care for any pet is mandatory to ensure a healthy life, or to end it humanely. Please seek medical care for your pet – annual exams are a great way to start
Ember was adopted via a Craiglist ad I came across for a “special needs” gecko. Something called to me that night and I responded to the ad. When I picked up Ember a few days later, it was obvious that she was sick and needed immediate veterinary care. The great vets at Homestead Animal Hospital diagnosed Ember with a neurological disability of unknown origin. Fortunately, a month of antibiotics seemed to turn her life around. She continues to have coordination issues, but no longer needs to be hand fed. She’s always smiling and is the sweetest girl. I’m so happy to have brought her home!
© Copyright 2014, Heather Barker, Petcetera Pet Services, LLC.