Monday, August 4, 2008

The Pet Sit From Hell

Dear Labby,

Help! I got to the house and the dog had destroyed the couch! What do I do?

Shredded in San Diego

Dear Shred,
Some dogs don't need a pet sitter. They need to stay in a kennel where they are confined in a small pen for 24 hours a day and can't get hurt, out, or destroy anything. 

Never thought you'd hear me say that, did you? But think about it. Leave a 10 month old Labrador at home alone in the back yard for 12 hours, and what is going to happen? (Labby should know, being a fine example of the breed...) By the time you, the pet sitter, arrive, he will have dug up every plant in the yard and eaten the patio furniture. If you're lucky, he hasn't escaped by jumping the fence or digging out. 

Sometimes it is better to recommend that the client board their dog. Many kennels offer some outdoor play time or a walk, which still isn't enough for a young active dog, but it is better than the scenario I described above. I once took care of a young boxer who vaulted the fence as soon as I drove off. I had given a neighbor my business card. I finally took the dog home with me for the rest of the week. No one ever likes to lose a client, but it is really in the best interest of the dog to confine him until he matures and slows down a little! 

Call the client and ask them what they want you to do. They may ask you to take him to a kennel or a relative's house. Offer to take the dog home with you if you can. Another alternative is to crate the dog 24 hours a day, but that is pretty tough on the dog, and you'd need to make at LEAST three visits a day. 

The photo above is Angel and Haley, two really nice, well behaved Labs I have taken care of for years. I locked them in the owners' bedroom every night without incident. But, they are Labs, and one morning, they had shredded their dog beds and were so proud of their work! The rest of the bedroom was in immaculate condition, and they never did it again. I wish I'd had a hidden video camera. I got the impression that they had a blast destroying those beds!

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