WONDER LAKE – Becky Hansen has the uncanny ability to communicate with canines, after spending her childhood surrounded by animals on a farm in unincorporated McHenry.
After years of interacting with dogs, chickens and cows, Hansen transformed her passion for animals into a hobby. She studied obedience training as an adult, learning how to read the body language and quirks of dogs.
As part of the training, Hansen would often try to coach her Australian Shepherd named Blue to walk toward her from a sitting position. But Blue resisted, often turning its head and licking its lips.
Through her studies, Hansen realized that Blue’s behavior meant it was content with sitting. She identified the problem and would go on to enter Blue into numerous obedience competitions.
“I don’t claim to be a dog whisperer,” said Hansen, who owns five dogs with her boyfriend. “But I like to pay attention. When I walk in somewhere, I’m actually looking at the dog, and the dog’s body and trying to figure out what he is telling me.”
Hansen has been monitoring many dogs throughout area communities since 2010, as a pet sitter for Fetch! Pet Care of McHenry County
Hansen’s expertise and interpersonal skills with animals are just two reasons why Fetch! has grown into a successful area brand, said Sue Cashin, owner of Fetch! in McHenry County.
The Wonder Lake resident opened the Fetch! franchise in 2009, after spending years in marketing with Motorola.
Cashin overseas 12 contracted pet sitters, including Hansen, who provide a variety of pet-care services for area pet owners looking for professional care while away at work or an extended vacation.
Fetch! offers services from daily, 30-minute dog walks to private boardings, where a pet can stay at the sitter’s home. Fetch! in McHenry primarily services dogs, but the business also is available for cats, exotic animals and even farm animals.
“I want them to feel like they are in a family,” Cashin said. “I want (owners) to feel comfortable when we are with their animals.”
Aside from quality expertise, the pet sitters also keep in constant contact with the pet owners, sending email, text and picture updates about the pet while the owner is away, Cashin said.
In the face of turbulent economic times, Cashin has managed to grow her business to service more than 200 clients from Spring Grove to Elgin.
She is looking to expand the franchise further, as the national Fetch! brand continues to grow throughout the Midwest. The Chicago area alone will soon see seven new Fetch! franchises, including ones in Evanston, Chicago Heights, and the Wheaton area.
“I would love to see Fetch! become a household name in McHenry County,” Cashin said. “I think it’s starting to get there.”