Pet Pleasers, Inc. has been caring for Richmond area’s wonderful pets for 30 years. During that time we have had some situations come up where we had to scratch our heads and determine if the pet or situation was safe for the sitter or for the pet.
We want to do a good job in taking care of client’s pets so it is very important to evaluate each situation to see if pet sitting is the appropriate type of care for the pet when the owner is out of town. We don’t want owners worrying about their pets when they are gone and spending all their time texting or emailing us to find out how the pets are.
Pet owners should be able to leave on their vacation and be confident that their pet is in the best hands possible. On the flip side, the pet sitter doesn’t want to end up in a situation where she can’t get in the house to care for the pet or once in, the pet is completely uncooperative or the situation presents danger to pet and/or pet sitter.
I remember years ago, I went to visit a woman with two dogs she wanted me to care for when she went out of town. We sat down to talk in advance so I could get all the information about what was needed for her pets’ care. I asked several times for her to let me meet the dogs, but she kept putting me off and somehow I managed to leave the house without meeting them.
When I returned to care for the dogs I found two very shy, fearful and aggressive dogs who stalked me, growling the whole time. I really felt that they would bite if the opportunity presented itself. To make matters worse, they would not let me get to the door to leave.
Determined to get back to my car and take care of other pets in my charge, I got up on their kitchen island and called the owner’s back-up person who happened to be her parents. They were afraid of the dogs too and we had to call their vet to come over and remove the dogs from the home so they could be boarded. Of course, I had to sit on the counter till that was accomplished. Big learning experience — always meet the pets!!
Here are some situations where the pet would be better served in another type of pet care:
- Dogs who have a history of biting; breeds known for their aggressiveness; a dog who growls or snaps at the sitter when they first meet.
- A client who has a cat that needs insulin injections twice per day and the cat refuses to come out from behind furniture to meet sitter. It will NOT get any better when the owner is gone! Take your cat to the vet while you’re away so she can get insulin shots on a schedule.
- A dog that is tied up outside with no dog house or way to protect food.
- Dogs that are kept outside 24/7 in all kinds of weather with little shelter.
- Owner does not want the appropriate number of visits for the situation. For example, a puppy in a crate and owner only wants one visit per day. I don’t need to describe the mess the sitter will find! And the puppy will be miserable too.
- Client wants us to let dog out to run in neighborhood while sitter waits for the dog’s return. Dog has never been on a leash and yard is not fenced in. The wait could go on forever!
- Dog or cat has a very serious illness that should be monitored around the clock at vet office.
- Your pet is on necessary medication such as insulin or heart medication and owner does not want us to give the medication because the animal is very difficult. Your pet can become very ill and is better off being boarded at the vet.
There are many more situations, but you get the idea. The worse case scenario is when the owner does not tell the whole truth about their pet’s troublesome behavior at the “get to know you” interview and the sitter then walks into a dangerous situation. Whenever there is a situation that is questionable, we will make a trial visit while owner is still in town to be sure all will go well. This is only fair to the pet, the owner and the pet sitter.
Most pets are a dream to take care of and most clients know their animals very well and are honest with us. We expect certain dog and cat behaviors — barking when we come to the door, jumping on us, a little wariness on the first visit and some hiding under the furniture. That’s fine. We just sit down and let your pet come to us. Having treats in our pockets also helps!
Cats are usually very curious to see who is filling their food dish, so they will cautiously come out to visit. Usually dogs will respond well to “want a treat” or “ready to go for a walk.” It just takes patience.
Fortunately, most animals are well behaved, socialized and trained to a such a degree that our job is very enjoyable. The key is to know your pets well, be honest and size up the situation so you make the right decision about where they will be happiest and safest while you’re away from home.
If they are good candidates for a pet sitter, Pet Pleasers is delighted to give you and your pets extraordinary service and compassionate, loving care.
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.