Welcome to my little corner of the Safe Doggy Pet Sitters’ web site! Here’s where I’ll regularly share some thoughts on pet issues, stories about pet sitting adventures, advice, fun photos and interesting links. Please don’t hesitate to respond with your comments and suggestions. We’d like to know what’s on your mind too! Without further ado, here’s my first topic:
Who Else Is In The House?
As a pet sitter, my job is full of surprises of all kinds. For example, there’s the pleasure of receiving enthusiastic affection by a pet that had been described as “timid and wary of strangers.” There’s also the humorous discovery that iguanas can (how do I put this delicately?), “vent their intestinal gases” with surprising force.
One type of surprise that occasionally happens – and floors me each time it does – is being in the clients’ home or yard to tend to the pets I’ve already been introduced to, only to discover there is another pet residing there that the owner never mentioned! Hello?!
The first time it happened to me, I had been hired to care for a sweet spaniel during a long weekend when the owner had to leave town. My client had given me detailed instructions for the care of this canine princess, and it seemed like it would be a typical fun job. Princess would be taken on one long walk each day. For other potty breaks she had access to a gated back yard through her doggy door. I was asked to do the usual poop scoop of the yard each day. No problem.
But during my first visit to the backyard with Princess, I detected some movement near the ground, out of the corner of my eye. To my amazement, I discovered a huge desert tortoise marching determinedly towards me from across the yard.
“Well, hello! Where did you come from?” Looking around, I found there was a beautiful habitat created for him in the side corner of the yard, so this friendly tortoise was obviously a pet. I snapped a picture (below) and texted it to my client with a note that basically said, “Um, did you forget to tell me about Mr. Tortoise? He appears to be hungry (nibbling on the hem of my pants). What should I feed him?”
The answer was, ” Oh, I fed him before I left, so you shouldn’t have to worry about feeding him. But there are some greens in the fridge if you want to give him a little something.”
Wow. This floored me. I understand if perhaps an animal doesn’t need to be fed every day, of maybe even not wanting to hire a sitter for a pet in that case. But I’m already going to be there for the higher maintenance pet! At the very least, why not mention it to the sitter so we are aware there’s another animal in the residence?
So okay, I thought this must be a fluke. Surely my other clients would never neglect to inform me of all of their pets. Well, it doesn’t happen often, but it does in fact happen more than it should! My next surprise was with a client who had three beautifully groomed and healthy poodles. Our initial introductory meeting was winding up, and I asked if I might wash my hands in her kitchen sink before I left. This was after a slobbery and fun play session with her dogs. As I was washing, I noticed a little fish bowl by the sink with what appeared to be a solitary beta fish hovering motionless in the water. “Um, is that a live fish?” I asked. “Yes.”
I hesitated, then asked, “Are you taking it with you on your trip?”
“No, of course not!”
” Well, then don’t you think I should probably feed him and keep an eye on him while you’re gone? ”
This blasé response was from someone who had meticulously written down and gone over ever conceivable need her dogs might require in her absence! If all animals are created equal, some are definitely more equal than others to some owners!
Another example came from one of my coworkers who only discovered the client has a pet canary shut up in a back bedroom when the bird began to sing/call out for attention. I imagine if you were going to put a title to the songbird’s warbling it would translate to, “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
While I get that some animals require more attention than others from a pet sitter, I don’t get not at the very least mentioning it’s existence to someone hired to look after your home and your other pets. Don’t all pets matter? Are you afraid of being charged extra if we also check up on your low maintenance pet?
At Safe Doggy we actually do NOT charge extra to take care of an extra little one while we are there for the high maintenance pet. The only exceptions to that is if we are walking more than one dog ($2 for each additional dog) or if you have so many other little pets that we would have to spend serious extra time tending to your menagerie. And even that would be a reasonably small fee, which would be well worth your peace of mind knowing that ALL of your pets are receiving expert care.
Think about it. What if you didn’t tell us about the extra pet and something happened to him that could easily have been handled if only the sitter knew it was there? For instance, what if he fell ill or was injured? What if a power outage caused a heat lamp or filter to turn off? What if there was an emergency – a fire, for instance, and your pet perished simply because your sitter didn’t know you had a cat confined to a bedroom upstairs or a snake in your study?
As in the case of the recent storm back east cancelling dozens of flights, would you remember to let your pet sitter know about the critter you left three days worth of food for, who now will suffer with an empty belly because you’re stuck somewhere for two or three extra days? What if, heaven forbid, something happened to you and you are hospitalized or worse, don’t come home at all?
We’d of course make longer term arrangements for the pets we know about, but the bunny you left extra food out for and didn’t tell us about, could die a slow and horrible needless death before he was eventually discovered. No one wants to see that happen!
So please, when you are hiring a professional pet sitter to take care of your pets, be sure to include EACH of your pets in the information you give us. Then you can enjoy your trip knowing they are ALL safely in the care of someone who you can trust to help them in any situation.