Choosing a Pet Sitter

by | General Pet Care |

There comes a time in every pet’s life when they will require care from someone else besides their owners. There are a variety of reasons why owners need to find alternate care such as work-related travel or vacations that are not “pet friendly”. My family travels quite frequently, and from an early age we found ourselves needing alternate care. We had tried a variety of situations, including boarding kennels or having a friend/family member watch Jersey (with mixed results). Since Jersey is a big, strong dog with a temperamental bladder, she’s not an easy houseguest! Nevertheless, we needed to find someone who could work with her, and provide her with the exercise and attention she needed on a daily basis.

Ideally, using someone that has been recommended by a friend or family member is the best way to go. However, we were starting from scratch. I remember very vividly standing on my porch, coming outside to see her digging a hole to China in our sandbox and wondering “Who is going to be able to take care of THAT?!”

Off to the internet I went. I found a website that provided a list of local house boarding facilities as well at pet sitting in the owner’s home. It was a network that only provided the names, numbers and websites of people and companies that were insured and bondable. The variety of choices for my area was actually staggering. They ranged from pet care providers who would stay in your home and not only care for your pet but provide additional services such as training, backyard poop ‘n scooping or even pet reiki! Not only would your pet not have to leave your home, but your backyard would be free of poop and your pet’s life force energy has been improved. Excellent! Another amazing facility was a house that had been turned into a “cat’s castle”, with the rooms being filled with all levels of climbing equipment, hiding holes and beds for cats. I was starting to become a little envious of all of the services and facilities! I wondered if some of them would accept a human house-guest, as they sounded so wonderful.

Nevertheless, I made a short list of facilities and contacted each of them to learn more about their services. Questions I asked them included:

-Were they licensed and bonded?

-Do they have adequate experience in administering medications if necessary?

-How much experience with pets (feline, canine, etc.) did they have?

-If providing house visits, how many times per day would they be checking on/playing with my pet?

-Could they provide me with a variety of references?

I decided to select two people that offered services that would potentially fit the personality of Jersey. Before I could suggest it, the pet sitter noted that before accepting any new clients, she would need to come to our house and meet us/Jersey. We set up a time and met with her later that week. She had a variety of forms for us to fill out, including contact information, Jersey’s personal and medical history, as well as any comments/tips on her routine or personality. While I filled out the forms, the sitter went into the backyard and played with her for a bit. We then talked for about 15 minutes and finally the sitter said she would be happy to take Jersey into her home boarding program. In addition to being walked three times daily, she would have multiple opportunities to go to the local leash-free park with the other dogs, and she would have her own spot to sleep in a cage-free environment at the sitter’s home. As an added bonus, the sitter would pick Jersey up in her pet-safe van and then drop her off at a specified time.

Although I am fairly sure I called the pet sitter at least five times during Jersey’s first visit at the sitter’s house (which was a mere two days), everything went well and the pet sitter said she enjoyed having Jersey join the group. She answered all my questions about Jersey’s stay, as well as provided an invoice at the end to ensure there were no mix-ups with billing or payment.

Now we can travel and know that Jersey is in excellent hands. She comes back to us shiny, happy and completely exhausted from playing with other dogs all day long! It’s a perfect situation for us.

The key to finding a great pet sitter is to do your homework. Ask questions, contact any provided references, and be honest about your pet’s personality and quirks. This way you will ensure that both you and your pet enjoy your mutual vacations!