If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city.
This Friday, we’re joined by Carrie Rowley. In 2008, Carrie started her business, Carries Critter Care. Over the last decade, Carrie has been a positive part of many people and animals’ lives, throughout the community. Furthermore, Carrie is the recent recipient of the Elko Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Female Volunteer of the Year” award. She is a woman who cares about this town, and we’re excited to have her joining us this week!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with AAT, Carrie! Before we talk about your work with some of our animal friends, can you please tell us a little about yourself? “I was born and raised on a sheep ranch in Montana. I had a perfect childhood until I was about ten when my parents got divorced. I would live with one or the other parent, and I started working when I was eleven and have worked ever since. When school would be out, my parents would pack me up and take me to a ranch. I would cook, clean, or do whatever work they needed done. When school was back on, they’d pick me up and take me home so I could go, until the next year when I was back on a ranch again.”
That’s very interesting Carrie! How did you get from ranching in Montana to Elko? “I didn’t mean to move down here. When I graduated high school, I worked on a ranch for the Summer, but afterward, my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to take a road trip. We wanted to see some things and meet some people before we settled down. We packed up my little Subaru and hit the road! She had some relatives here in Elko, so in 1984 we stopped down here to hang out. When I left home, I had three hundred and eighty dollars to my name, so after a couple of weeks, I realized that money wasn’t going to last very long! I got a job and started working at the nursing home. My friend and I got an apartment together, but she realized Elko wasn’t for her and went back to Montana. I found a little place behind a hairdresser. I had a job and a place to live, so I stayed!”
Well, we’re glad you decided to stay, Carrie! For those who may not know, can you explain to us what you do at your business, Carries Critter Care? “I go to people’s homes and take care of their animals. I’ve taken care of horses, cats, dogs, fish, snakes, lizards, birds, hamsters, ferrets, and even hedgehogs! I’m licensed and insured, and work to keep the pets consistent to what their owners’ requirements are. If your dogs are used to being walked at seven o’clock in the morning, I’ll take them out at seven o’clock in the morning! It’s serious work; you’re walking into people’s homes, and, if they don’t have children, you’re taking care of the most important thing(s) to them.”
That is vital work; how did you get into the pet business? “I was working at the hospital, cooking, at the time. I was listening to the radio, and they were talking about how the pet industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry every year. I thought that sounded like something I should be a part of! I’ve always been involved with animals from working on the ranches, and I even worked at a pet store here in town for a few years. So, after a couple of conversations, I quit my job at the hospital and started Carries Critter Care with absolutely no knowledge of what I was doing! I just told myself that I could do it. I wanted to do something I could be appreciated for because the job I had before wasn’t very gratifying. Now, people appreciate what I do!”
Undoubtedly, many pet owners do appreciate you, Carrie! What do you appreciate and love the most about your work? “What do I love about it? I love the sunrises! I’m an early morning person, so I love getting up at three thirty or four in the morning to take care of horses, walk dogs or whatnot. It reminds me of home!”
Fantastic! What some of the struggles you must still work through, even after a decade in business? “When you’re in this business, you can be very tied up as far as time goes. That’s probably the hardest part of my job, finding time for myself. There’s not a day out of the year where one of my clients is not away or on vacation, and I’m not taking care of an animal. If I take some days off, that means I have to tell one of my clients I can’t take care of their animals, so I don’t really take much time off. Another big challenge for me is communication. I am learning a new program to help me communicate with my clients while they’re away. I am not good with social media, texting or any of that; I’ve always been old school when it comes to going about my work.”
Finally, Carrie, as a recipient for an award recognizing your involvement with volunteerism in our area, let’s talk about your heart for this town. How did you go about getting involved with the community and what do you want its residents to know about you?
“I didn’t get that involved with the community until I started the business. When I did start Carries Critter Care, I got involved with the Chamber of Commerce. My grandmother was in involved with her town’s chamber, and she always told me that if you wanted to know your town’s history and what your town does, you must join because it’s the heart of the community! So, I did and became one of the chamber’s ambassadors and have been for about ten or eleven years now. You get to learn about and meet a bunch of people who want to see our community thrive!”
“I want people to know I plan on being here to support the community. My aunt always asked me, “if you don’t support your community, then who’s going to support you?” I’ve always thought about that and have tried to support my community in any way I can.”
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See you around, Elko!