Heather - Owner & Pet Care Specialist

Since my childhood spent in the hills of eastern Kentucky, I have always pursued a connection with animals and their environment.

Whether it be during nature hikes with my grandfather, or watching the barn cat raise her kittens, I’ve always felt the need to share in the lives of the many creatures that surround us.

Though I’d had parrots before, it wasn’t until my teenage years I immersed myself in the world of birds and delved into researching the Psittacine spectrum. Years after, I’m proud to say I’m the “parront” of one crazy feathered Congo African Grey. All of my pets are rescued or rehomed animals adopted from situations in which they were neglected, or on a more positive side – were found a new home based on the owner’s inability to care for them properly. Nonetheless, I specialize in caring for parrots and am always thrilled when new parront clients find me!

I volunteer full time for an American Eskimo dog rescue called Eskie Rescuers United. I spend my volunteer time processing applications (adoptions, foster homes, & volunteers); completing home visits; rescuing dogs from shelters; transporting rescue dogs; organizing and attending events; and most importantly fostering rescued dogs. I have fostered a special needs puppy named Milo since September of 2008 (you can read about Milo below).

I feel it is important to note that I am a college graduate, holding an Associates of Arts degree, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. My parents have always told me I should have become a vet, or that I need to at least become a Vet Tech, and I have to remind them that I am happy with my current profession. Though caring for my clients’ special needs pets is extremely rewarding, so is caring for all of those healthy, happy pets in the world! I can easily apply my anthropological background to the ethnological differences in pet ownership across the world!

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 (see below); I knew I’d be even happier ensuring that the pets of Colorado share the same quality life as my own. I’m one of the only pet sitters that specializes in caring for parrots and I am proud that my life experience with birds has given me that gift. I’m blessed to have a job that I love, working with animals who I cherish as much as my own.

- Heather Barker

My Pets

Echo, 11 year old American Eskimo mix Princess (yes, “princess” is included in her pedigree!). Adopted from a previous owner, Echo steals hearts easily, is sometimes shy around men, enjoys laying like a baby while having her belly rubbed, and is the ultimate door bell, if you prefer barking over the sound of tinkling chimes.

Howie is a 11 year old Congo African Grey who I adopted from a troubled family. 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. Like Pocky, Howie has a preference for women and does not like to be pet anywhere but on his head. Though he came to me with a slight feather-picking problem, a larger cage, healthier diet, and more stimulating environment seem to have helped alleviate the stress that induced the plucking. It’s been extremely rewarding seeing Howie progress, and I’m sure he appreciates having a healthy, comfortable home.

In Memoriam - Pets I've Lost

Evo - May 4, 2007 - February 26, 2015

8 year old American Eskimo mix. Originally a kill shelter puppy, he was rescued and transported by an anonymous person to a second shelter in upstate NY. Adopted at 4 months old, he invigorated the joys and trials of bringing up pup with an optimistic, positive energy. Evo was our pack leader (second to Me) and kept a watchful eye on us all.

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.