Seven years ago I came across the absolute best friend that a person could ask for: my boxer-dog “Riley.” From the time Riley was very young, he suffered from severe allergies, chronic ear infections and respiratory illnesses. He also suffered from severe separation anxiety, so when we would board him at the local kennel when we went out of town, it was a recipe for disaster (at no fault of the kennel, I might add).
No matter how many vaccinations he was given, or how excellent the care he wouldn’t eat (so no poop either) for a week, he would inevitably get the dreaded “kennel cough” or some other respiratory illness, chew his hair out of his paws, scratch himself until he bled and shed for a week after we brought him home (among a myriad of other things, including a flea infestation).
We tried leaving Riley with family and friends, but many times it felt like we were burdening them with his care (they all have their own pets and their own lives). We got phone calls from neighbors saying they could hear our Riley barking in the house all night long, leading to a guilt-trip for leaving him alone. There were times when we weren’t sure he was being cared for as we would care for him if we were home. Did the neighbor kids really let him out like they said? Finally, we got to a point at which we didn’t want to leave him at all.
Now, my husband and I “pet-sat” for our own friends and family over the years while they were away, and our standard of care always seemed higher than anything we had ever personally experienced ourselves. We took the time to send pictures of their pets to them. We left them notes. We provided house-keeping duties, made sure their yard was picked up and their trash taken out. We watered plants, played “fetch” and gave lots of belly-rubs. We cleaned up messes and scooped litter. This was before we even knew that professional pet sitters existed! Finally, we decided that there were plenty of other people who shared our same predicament and our pet-sitting company, “Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking,” was born.
Today, having worked with over 125 clients as a professional in the pet sitting industry, I can tell you that we were right: while there are many people who do board and kennel with no issues, there are many, many people who cannot or do not want to board their pets, for many reasons ranging from vacations, full-time workdays, ill or injured animals, pets that suffer from separation anxiety, ill or injured owners and animals that are attention-cravers.
There are several reasons why a family may want to hire a pet sitter for their beloved four-legged family member. Insert your own pet’s name into any or all of the scenarios below:
- “Fido” can’t be left home alone for more than eight hours or he will use the brand-new flooring as a personal toilet – no less than 15 times.
- “Fluffy” has separation anxiety or boredom issues. If Fluffy is left alone too long, she will most certainly let you know what a terrible pet-parent you are, by tearing your furniture, blinds, trash, bedding or, as in my case, the most expensive item in your home to shreds, and then give you “that look” when you get home.
- “Duke” needs timed medication throughout the day. Maybe he has to be given pills every four hours, or needs an insulin injection on time, and should be watched closely for a period of time after.
- “Rufus” needs his daily walk, because he most definitely will bounce off the walls or try to tear through bars of solid steel if he is crated. But his owners have a late meeting, have suffered an injury or for any other reason they are temporarily unable to walk him.
- The whole family is out of town for several days on a much-needed and deserved vacation, which is not pet-friendly.
There are several ways that a professional pet sitter can benefit your pet:
- Your pet likes life to be the same way every day. He or she is a creature of habit. When you hire a pet sitter, your pet remains in his or her own home with all the sights, sounds and smells that are familiar.
- Your pet’s diet routines are uninterrupted. Some animals will not eat while boarded or kenneled because they are too stressed.
- When you board or kennel, your pet may not get the amount of exercise to which he or she is accustomed, in order to be happy.
- When you hire a professional pet sitter, your pet does not have to have extra vaccinations.
- When your pet gets to stay in your home, the animal’s exposure to disease and stress is minimized. In boarding kennels there is a greater chance of contracting germs that can cause illness and there is constant exposure to other animals, which can be very stressful.
- Sometimes the trip alone to a boarding facility is stressful for your pet.
- Your pet will benefit from the personalized attention given by a professional he or she will come to know and trust. A professional pet sitter can offer attention, mental stimulation, love, playtime and even treats if permitted.
- Kennels may not accept the breed of animal that you have. While I can’t speak for other pet sitters, our own company – Paws Pet Care – never has and never will discriminate against breed.
A truly professional pet sitter will benefit your family in so many ways. You will experience peace of mind knowing that your pet is being cared for in the comfort and security of his or her own environment. You don’t have to transport your pet anywhere, which creates fewer logistical challenges – no packing a bunch of supplies for Max, no taking him to the kennel and dealing with the guilt and worry of leaving him there, no diseases to come home to, etc. And many pet sitters, like our own company, Paws Pet Care, do other little things like bring in the paper and mail, water plants, clean up accidents, pick up after your pet, and other basic household chores.
Next week we’ll tell you what to look for when you are considering hiring a professional pet sitter!