When licensed veterinary technician Alexis Seckel found out that pet sitting and general pet care could be a career, she took the leap and started Emerald Isle Professional Pet Care.
“It was always something I thought was a side gig, but I read up on it and it really intrigued me that you can make a living and a career from pet sitting,” Seckel said.
Born and raised in Kodiak, Seckel grew up surrounded by cats and dogs. She also visited her family in Idaho, and fell in love with horses there.
Seckel said she has always loved animals and had wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a child.
She finally found her passion after working as a veterinary assistant for two years. She learned on the job before becoming licensed in 2018.
After obtaining her license, she found out about professional pet care as a profession and decided to take a risk and start her own business.
She ran the business for one year before putting it on pause for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for personal reasons.
A few months ago, Seckel relaunched Emerald Isle Professional Pet Care.
Her services include dog walking, daytime care and overnight care at the pet’s homes. Her goal is to keep her clients’ pets in their typical routines as much as possible, to make their time away from their owners less stressful.
Seckel recently added basic dog training to the list of services she provides. She was convinced to add dog training by clients who found her techniques helpful with their aggressive and anxious dogs.
“This has happened quite a lot, both as a vet tech and pet sitting,” Seckel said, referring to times when dogs that were aggressive toward most people warmed up to her within a short period of time.
She said that as far as she knows, there has been no professional dog training business on the island for the past five years.
Although Seckel hasn’t determined exactly why typically aggressive dogs often become more approachable around her, she attributes this change in behavior to her calm demeanor and patience.
“A lot of people around stressed dogs will show fear, and they will feed into that,” she said.
Seckel said her calmness and lack of fear in the face of aggressive dogs is due to her extensive experience caring for animals, as well as her ability to discern the mood and behavior patterns of the animals she cares for.
Seckel said that restarting her business during the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the number of clients, but for now she has a suitable number.
“Overall, it’s been great. … I have wonderful clients. All of the animals I have cared for have been fantastic,” she said. “I’m pretty fortunate. COVID made it difficult with not having a whole lot of business, but generally there is a good balance. I'm not too swamped. It is working out pretty well.”
Being a veterinary technician means that she is comfortable working with a range of pets with a range of issues, including chronically ill pets, senior pets and pets with anxiety and aggression.
She is also comfortable administering medications and injections, and is CPR and first-aid certified and insured.
“I’m prepared,” she said. “If something goes wrong, I’m there to be able to handle the situation and have the education to do it.”
While cats and dogs are the most common pets she looks after, she can also care for any exotic pet.
The knowledge Seckel gained from earning her veterinary technician license and from her time as a veterinarian assistant can come in handy as a dog sitter.
One one occasion, she let a dog outside in the yard. The animal returned a minute later gushing blood, likely after getting into a scuffle with another dog. Knowing that dogs can often bleed profusely from a tiny cut, she calmly cleaned and bandaged the wound, and later took the dog to a veterinarian for a few stitches.
“If you have someone who may not have had experience, they may have seen that amount of blood and panicked,” she said.
Seckel said she frequently takes continuing education courses on animal behavior, animal safety and training. She is currently pursuing her veterinary technician certification in behavior.
Within the next year, Seckel hopes to start a socialization class for puppies.
Meanwhile, she continues offering customized care to her current clients, while also caring for her dog and 3-year-old daughter.
Emerald Isle Professional Pet Care can be contacted via Facebook or at 907-942-5644.