HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - Born out of her deep love of animals and a special affinity for their health and care, Annie Davis has built her Annie's ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) Pet Care service - one "act' at a time.
Davis, a Hastings resident who currently has more than 40 clients and pet "friends" throughout lower Westchester County, began pet sitting 15 years ago while working as a veterinarian's assistant at animal hospitals in Westchester and Manhattan. She now specializes in medical and behavioral pet care as well as basic dog training and traces her love of animals and their care back to her first pet.
"My first pet Li'l Man suffered a broken/dislocated hip at six months of age," David recalled. "Not having much money, I did his rehabilitation myself to get him back on his paws. Helping Li'l Man made me want to work with animals and I landed a job at (St. Mark's) a hospital working for a highly-regarded veterinarian. While working there I began doing some pet sitting jobs after work. It was a great way to keep in touch with the special patients that touched my heart."
Davis insists that all animals require basic behavior training (even feline, avian and exotic pets) with verbal/physical praise, and a natural diet along with fresh water and daily exercise -- each essential to keeping pets healthy and owners much happier when it comes time for routine checkups with their veterinarians.
"Some pets have a special needs because of a behavioral issue, need medication administration or require medical observation due to an illness or injury," Davis said. "There are also many owners who are simply searching for a human companion for their pet when home alone, while they are away at work or traveling. It doesn't take very long to develop a relationship with an animal. And the saying 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' is not true. Animals enjoy pleasing us and they respond if we take the time to train them."
Davis uses walks with her clients' pets to evaluate their health, exercise them, reinforce basic training skills and socialize them. Her recent walk with 13-year-old Standard Poodle Gracie, who has some sight impairment revealed a fond, five-year friendship.
"Because Gracie doesn't see well, I give her certain voice leads to help her move through the walk," Davis said. "A single work like "up" or "leave" helps her enjoy the walk. Each animal is different, but they all enjoy doing a "job" and completing a task. Getting that treat and a "good girl" works wonders."
Davis said she has worked with a variety of species of animals as pets, including birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and chinchillas.
"I have quite a few of those," Davis said. "I know an African Grey that sings Lady Marmalade, a couple of Bengal kittens that have harnesses and go out for walks, and a ferret that hides my keys so makes it difficult for me leave."
Each pet encounter offers Davis an opportunity to enrich the lives of her pets and their families. She looks for warning signs of illness, bad diet and other health issues.
"Things as simple as diarrhea, which is common, can be resolved with consistent diet and paying attention to what an animal may be ingesting," Davis said. "But we don't always notice growing health issues. I think that is where I differ from other dog walkers or sitters."
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