No recollection of any span of my life is without the presence of a furry, feathered, or scaly companion, and at times all three, so I more than understand most owners’ concerns when leaving a pet in the care of a sitter. Having done the job frequently in unpaid status, I have prepared more than my share of diabetic injections, treats for testy eaters, and comfy quarters for sleep. The pet-sitting business is booming at warp speed, too, as workweeks and business commutes get longer and more frequent. A pet’s comfort, health, and safety should always be at the top of any pet sitter’s list, but some owner’s demand far beyond the basics!
Stephanie Perry, a sitter from Fort Worth, had no problem with the particular diet requirements of her friend’s Irish setters, including sauteing fresh vegetables, boiling whole-grain oats, mixing in Greek yogurt and whole raw eggs, not to mention a slew of supplements to follow, but the special hats for the doggies’ dinner took the cake! ” They looked like large bandannas that held their ears snug to their heads,” she explains. ” They were practical, I suppose, but hats to eat dinner? That’s a bit crazy.” Joshua Cary, co-founder of the Association of Pet Sitting Excellence, describes “My favorite person was one who asked the sitter to mix in Holy water and ash into her cat’s food, and say a prayer before serving it”. Common requests are for special games to be played, songs to be sung, and favorite TV programs tuned in for pets. I submit that my own pets have particular channel preferences, as well!
Beth Stulz of Pet Sitters International, declares that unusual requests range 10-20% of most clientele, but are on the rise from every market. Most owners feel their pets are fully integrated family members, and some feel that the more specialized the needs, the more it verifies the owners as fit “parents” to their fuzzy kids. Stulz says some owners compare pages of instructions for pet care to the number of photos of children that most parents carry-the more you have, the more it proves your love. Most pet owners realize that finding care that is reliable, and focused on maintaining the pet’s health, safety, security, and daily routine is truly what is vital, minus all the niceties.
Veteran sitter Jessica Stout of Sacramento puts it best. “You need to consider if there’s an emergency, and your sitter is trying to find names and numbers in 17 pages of instructions. For the health and safety of your pet, it’s best to keep it simple. You can always throw a party when you get back, and dress them in all the party hats you want.”
Most important information for pet sitters:
Pet medications and allergies
A care and feeding guide for each pet
Owner’s location and phone number for any hour’s contact
Vet’s name and phone number
A local contact-friend or family member
Type and print instructions, keeping them no longer than 1-2 pages.