I am also an artist, and I just read an interesting article directed at artists who accept credit cards while they are at art shows. This device, called the Squareup, attaches to your cell phone so that you can process payments anywhere, anytime.
This device might also be a helpful item for pet sitters, so I am passing the information along to you.
It’s 8 pm and I am walking a dog in an unfamiliar neighborhood. It occurs to me that if I get hit by a car or have a heart attack, no one will know who I am or where I belong. The subject came up recently on one of the Internet pet sitter lists I subscribe to, PPSU. Some interesting and helpful suggestions came up, and I’d like to pass them along to you.
If you aren’t carrying business cards, do you have some other form of ID on you? RoadID.com sells attractive ID bracelets, the human equivalent of dog tags. Originally developed for bikers and joggers, their products are perfect for pet sitters too. RoadID also offers small pouches that attach to your shoe, perfect to carry a key.
Another handy item for nighttime walks is the Firefly® security light. They offer clip-on or wrist strap styles, which can be seen by motorists for up to a mile away.
ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency. “ Everyone should program an ICE number into his or her cell phone. Mine says ICE Dan, which has my brother’s number. He doesn’t live nearby, so I also have another ICE number, of a friend in my local area that could step in and take care of my home and animals if I’m out of commission.
While you’re in the client’s house or out walking a dog, where is your purse? Sitting on the front seat of the car? Bring it in with you and lock the house while you walk. I am fortunate that I work in pretty safe neighborhoods, but even the nicest area can be a target for criminals, especially at night.
Some of us carry a load of stuff when we are on the job: keys, poop bags, treats, flashlight, cell phone, business cards, leashes, pepper spray– and on and on. Where to put it all? A cargo vest, or fishing vest, has multiple pockets so you can keep things organized and easy to get to. Fanny packs are helpful, but not as convenient if they only have one compartment. I know I hate digging through keys and other paraphernalia while trying to find a poop pickup bag. And the dog I’m walking is usually anxious to continue his walk, merrily wrapping the leash around my legs while I struggle. I always wear jeans or cargo pants (same benefit– multiple pockets).
I pulled up to the front driveway at 8 am on Saturday morning. A row of trucks awaited me out in the street. Contractors huddled around cars, waiting for something… or someone.
The client’s home is newly built, and there is detail work to be finished inside. These guys were here to install the baseboards. The client wasn’t expecting them.
The men had opened the door and gone in, setting off the alarm. “Don’t worry,” one of them told me, “It turned off.” Not likely, I thought. I went in and disarmed it, since they didn’t have the code.
And then we waited for the police, while I walked the dog.
When discussing the visit schedule with your clients, ask them if anyone might be entering the home. It is frightening to walk in on someone. And you need to know if the intruder is authorized to be there.
I get surprised all the time, and I hate it. Last week I got a call from a friend of a client’s. She told me she was going over to take the dog for a few hours. I was so glad she told me, as I would have panicked if I’d arrived and the dog was gone. I checked with the owner, and all was well.
I’ve walked in on teenagers the morning after a big party, a grandma washing vegetables in the kitchen sink, and clients who arrived home early. You can’t always know everything in advance, but it will help your peace of mind if you have at least asked.
One time I got a call from a client’s security alarm company. The guy explained he didn’t think the alarm was functioning properly. Could I meet him at the house and go through the alarm test with him?
No. I couldn’t contact the clients because they were out of the country. I wasn’t comfortable letting a strange man in the house and working there alone with him. So I said no. When the client returned, they understood completely.
In the example at the beginning of this post, I spoke with the police and gave them my ID. I called the client and got authorization for the contractors to work in the home. I moved the cat and dog to a room where they wouldn’t be able to escape. It all worked out, but if I hadn’t shown up just then, what would have happened? The contractors didn’t have the client’s phone number.
Be safe, not sorry
Listen to your gut. If the stranger in the house makes you uncomfortable, don’t go in. I strongly recommend you read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.
Dear Labby: business help for pet sitters and dog daycare owners
Welcome to Dear Labby, the blog for pet sitters and doggie daycare providers! Terry will write tips, and Labby and his kitty Tabby will answer your questions and help you manage your business. Terry Albert, a pet sitter for over 15 years, will keep Labby and Tabby in line and be sure their answers are up to sniff.
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Sherman the Vizsla poses in the doghouse
Pet Quote of the Week
Purring is an automatic safety valve device for dealing with happiness overflow. - Anonymous