Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The ten commandments of pet sitting

            The Ten Commandments of Pet Sitting

Thou shall not set down the keys

Thou shall not snoop

Thou shall keep the dog on a leash

Thou shall call the clients before spending their money

Thou shall return phone calls

Thou shall never skip a visit

Thou shall love their animals as thine own

Thou shall keep the tires inflated and the oil changed

Thou shall cherish thy calendar and keep it with you always

Thou shall treat thy clients as thee would want to be treated 

I could write a long description for each of these, but I think they speak for themselves. Follow these rules and your business will be more efficient, and your ethics will be intact. Happy Pet sitting!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How a pet sitter can care for senior pets

I have a special spot in my heart and home for old pets, and have adopted many. A few were only with me for a year or two, some for five or more. When caring for a client’s old pets there are some special needs you will be asked to meet.


Old dogs can’t go for much of a walk, but a good cuddling goes a long way to making them comfortable.

In hot weather, make sure the dog has extra water. If you can’t find another dish, use a bucket or bring something from home.

If possible, offer the dog access to the house on extremely hot or cold days. If you can’t let him inside, at least be sure he has plenty of shade. If you arrive on your next visit and the dog hasn’t moved from his spot, that is a bad sign. Check for excessive panting; it could mean heatstroke or pain. Call the owner.

Old dogs often get matted, ratty looking coats and long toenails. Don’t assume the owner has neglected him. It may just be too hard on him to be groomed anymore. Ask the owner before you start grooming the dog.

Old dogs will often have accidents, even when they’ve been perfectly housetrained for years. 

Don’t be too harsh on the dog. He can’t help it. The owner will probably leave you some cleanup supplies. Sudden runny or bloody diarrhea is a bad sign, and it’s time to call the owner or vet.

It is hard for an old dog to walk on tile floors. A throw rug or runner will help him get across the room from his bed to the back door.

The dog shown above is Gizmo, and elderly Chihuahua who stayed with me.


Cats can also get ratty looking coats when they are really old. The owner will tell you if she can tolerate being groomed. Sometimes a bad coat is a sign of illness.

Older cats often suffer from diabetes, heart failure, or kidney disease. They get very thin and frail. If the cat is not on medication, suggest to the owner that it might be time for a trip to the vet.

To keep kitty eating, canned Fancy Feast is a good choice. It is especially smelly, and will stimulate her limited senses. At the Humane Society where I used to volunteer, they fed Fancy Feast to sick cats that couldn’t smell their food very well due to upper respiratory infection.

Soft beds in a warm spot will comfort an older kitty. One client keeps a cat bed at the base of the refrigerator, where the warmth of the motor warms the cat. Kitty might not be able to climb like she used to.

This cat is Felix, 15 years old. He is the one who likes his warm spot by the refrigerator.

Do you have some tips for caring for old pets? Please share!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pet sitter burn-out

I can’t afford a vacation. Like everyone else in the world, the economy is hitting me hard. The good news is my pet sitting hasn’t fallen off as much as I had feared. School in Poway started two weeks ago, almost three weeks earlier than other years, and that put an end to summer vacation. The September Slump in my business started early.

I try to take advantage of the slow periods, and remind myself that it always picks up again. A week before school started, I thought to myself if I didn’t get a break from so many dogs, I would go insane. Six very active dogs a day staying here, five of my own dogs, and pet sitting visits on top of that. Then I suddenly had a week completely off, and I was a vegetable the entire week. I don’t think I left the couch except to take a long-delayed ride on my horse!

Looking at my calendar I see some more frantic periods coming up, the busiest being Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am already fully booked for boarding. But there is a week in September and a week in October that are full too, with young active dogs. And a cat staying here.

How will I survive? How will I cope with all this constant activity at the house? By taking it one day at a time. If the dogs get too fired up, I will put them outside for awhile and let them play (if it’s not too hot). I will retreat to my bedroom (off limits to all dogs, including mine) for a nap. I will crate a dog for an hour if he won’t settle down.

I will stop for a latte on my way out to do visits. I will count my income daily and pat myself on the back for working so hard. I will have an occasional meal with friends so I can talk to a human being! I will stop and enjoy the pets I am sitting, and spend some individual cuddle time with each of them. It reminds me of why I decided to do this in the first place. Because these animals are so sweet. I may even take along a book and sit on the couch with a cat on my lap for an hour.

I will go out for a horseback ride and enjoy the quiet time with my horse or with my friends. I will take one dog for a nice long walk. I will eat well, take my vitamins and get enough sleep. I can do this! 

This photo features several of my clients playing hard and having fun- and ready for a good nap afterwards! © 2008 Terry Albert