When I became a pet sitter in 1985 (after a long career as a school teacher), I approached it very professionally. I considered myself very detail-oriented and a perfectionist! Surely, I was a natural to be an excellent pet sitter.
Those qualities carried over into the training program I developed for our staff. I admit it — I expect nothing less than perfection from Pet Pleasers’ pet sitters. Fortunately, the sitters are extremely dependable, conscientious, detail-oriented and love their jobs! Pet Pleasers, Inc. is blessed!
Over the years, I have talked with and interviewed many people who basically blew off the job and made remarks like … “How difficult can pet sitting be? All you do is play with dogs!” That person is never hired.
A pet sitter must be a master at reading animals
A 5-Star pet sitter is always asking — “What is the animal in my care trying to tell me? Pet sitters must understand dog and cat behavior and know how to deal with difficult animals. They must be able to spot illnesses in pets and recognize when it is imperative to get the pet to the vet. And the best pet sitters are capable of giving medication and injections to animals.
These are just a few of the constellation of skills a great pet sitter must have. It is also a very important quality that a pet sitter is neat when in a client’s home and keeps the home in the condition it was found, if not better.
Is your pet sitter a 5-Star or should you kick them to the curb?
1. When you get home from your trip, do you have to call Merry Maids to clean up after the sitter? Are litter boxes not scooped out and is litter scattered all over the floor? Are the eating areas tidy or very messy? Is dried food on floor, food crusted in the food dish, is the water dish very dirty, are empty pet food cans sitting around the kitchen and are there bits of food all over the sink? Is the trash overflowing? Yuck!
A good sitter makes sure that all dishes are clean, the floor around dishes is free of food, dirt and debris. Cans are rinsed out, placed in the trash and taken to the outdoor trash receptacles and the sink is spotless!
2. When you walk in the door, are you are hit by the strong odor of urine and feces? Do you find urine stains around house, especially near door where dogs go out? Do you find feces in various places that were never cleaned up?
Sometimes dogs go frequently, even when the sitter is reliable, there on time for the visits and gets them outside for a bathroom walk. But odors are obvious clues that something is not right. A good sitter will investigate, find the excrement and clean it up to the best of her ability.
Many sitters will contact the owner and suggest an extra visit since the dogs are not able to “hold it” 8 – 12 hours. Could you? And as every cat owner knows, if the litter box is not kept clean, cats will find other places to use as a litter box. Never good. A 5-Star pet sitter knows litter boxes should be cleaned every visit, so it is inviting for the cats to use.
3. Does your pet sitter respect your property? Did you come home and smell cigarette smoke, notice that food is missing from refrigerator and pantry or see items moved around in your home? Did your neighbor report to you that the sitter brought a friend or friends with her and seemed to stay a long time? Worse – did you find pizza boxes in your outdoor trash?
Obviously, if the pet sitter is using your home as Party Central, your pet is not getting the attention you are paying for. Some clients may offer the sitter soft drinks from the refrigerator or leave a plate of cookies for the sitter. That is a lovely gesture, but NOT an invitation to abuse their home.
4. Is your animal is sick or injured when you return home? You ask the sitter and she/he says, “Oh yeah, I noticed he wasn’t eating and had bloody diarrhea, but figured you would be home in 4 days and could take care of it then.” Yikes! Or the pet sitter says, “Oh yeah, I noticed he was limping pretty badly on our walks, but I didn’t think too much about it!”
Oh, boy! These are signs that your pet sitter is NOT doing the job! Any time an animals shows signs of illness or injury, the pet should be seen by a veterinarian and the owner informed so they can consult with the vet.
Your pets deserve “5-star” care when you are away from home
If you are not happy with the quality of care your pet and home receive, then say something so the situation can be addressed and done correctly. Plus, constructive feedback — good or bad — is always welcome. It is helpful and makes a pet sitter perform his/her duties better and provides the best care and TLC for your pets when you can’t be there yourself.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.