Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Great Pet Sitter=Peace of Mind

Sydney Harbor
In late 2009, my family traveled to Australia for a
three week stay. My husband was a
participant in the Ironman competition in Busselton. Arranging travel plans,
tours, and packing for a three week trip on the other side of the globe, and a
major Ironman race was a logistics nightmare.
I also knew that I was not taking my laptop, and my blackberry would
cease to connect to a carrier somewhere over the Pacific. My only means of communication would be the occasional hotel internet service and a quick email check during our five city
tour down under.

Should anything tragic happen I was a solid 18 hours from
home, 24 while on Australia’s Western Coast.

Of all the important aspects of planning for this trip, my pet sitter was number one on my check list.
Now, I had a first class pet sitter! I only say “had” because sadly for us, she has moved out of state,
although I have no reservations about flying her back for our next trip!

She had been a friend (still is!), dog trainer, flyball team partner and pet sitter for a few years before this trip. She knows my pets as well as I do... She knows Zeus will jump on the couch, even though he isn’t allowed; Bailey will race for the kitty kibble and Supermax & Bailey will fight to the death
over a squeaky toy. She knows Jack-Jack will meet her at the door but Lazarus, the fat cat, will look down his kitty nose with disdain as she pours his kibble.

She knows their feeding schedule, their medication doses, where the cleaning supplies are located, that cat puke is normal, emergency contacts, when our mail arrives, that I have no plants to water, what normal poo-poo looks like (hey, everyone poos!) and she even vacuums the pyr fur off my carpet. Told you she was first class!

While we were basking, or baking, in the 98 degree Australian sun, she was walking pyrs in snow and ice-cold wind—no complaints.

Each visit, morning or evening, she left a summary of her visit. Sort like a “Santa’s List” of who
had been naught or nice, appropriate since we were a few weeks from Christmas. Lazarus eventually decided to humor her and enjoyed batting at her pen as she wrote; or so she wrote!

I was half a world, another hemisphere, another continent, another season away and I never worried.
Not once! I knew my pets were in the best hands possible. I knew my pet sitter would or could handle any situation as well, if not better than I would or could. That is a priceless feeling.

When choosing a sitter for one day or three weeks it’s important to do your research, check references, interview and have your pets meet the potential employee. A written
contract is also recommended. My sitter required I complete a folder full of information before she worked for us the first time. It included the basic information-feeding, medication, temperament, likes, dislikes, etc. But smartly, it included contact information for contractors (what if the water heater flooded the home?), who had access to the home & what cars they drove (is that blue truck suppose to be in the driveway?), where the main water cut-off was (again, the water…), and where the
spare key was hidden (hey, we’ve all locked ourselves out, right?). She also asked what our wishes were regarding our pet’s care if something tragic happened to us on our trip (she loved my
bunch but didn’t wish to adopt 6 pets…); who would take possession of the
animals and provide care for them. We also signed documents stating she had our full consent to assume medical responsibility for our animals and make any emergency decisions should an
illness or injury occur. That may seem excessive but by the end of our first meeting, she knew all she could know about our pets, our home and our lives.

We had a wonderful trip—one of a lifetime and my husband was able to complete his second Ironman with an awesome time.

I checked in when I could with emails. Each time I logged onto a hotel computer I could not wait to hear how things were going at home and if everyone was behaving. My pet sitter not only took
care of my pets during those three weeks but she eased our minds because we knew our dogs & cats were in the best hands possible.

Whether you are planning a major trip, a weekend stay or even have no travel plans it’s a good idea to locate a pet sitter that meets your animal care needs. It’s better to have a sitter on reserve than scrambling at the last minute to find someone to care for Barkley.

Below are a few links for further research on pet sitters:

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

1 comment:

  1. One more note, I now keep a list of feeding, medications and any other important notes for each pet on my fridge. In life, one never knows if a friend may need to run by to check on or care for your pets in an emergency or to simply help out. This information is easy to find and provides the basic care instructions for each animal in my house--down to likes and dislikes, what they look like and who fights with who.
    I encourage everyone to make such a list for your pets.
    I also carry a card in my wallet that states that I have 6 pets at home and emergency contact information for immediate care. If I fell ill, first responders would know to send that contact person to my home to check on my pet's.
    Posted by Blog Admin, Sheila