The Reality of Pet Sitting – Embrace the Suck!

 

I LOVE pet sitting- but just so you know I’m not delusional…

There are some aspects of this job that you should be aware of. It’s not all cute puppies and cuddly kitties

Cold weather

This isn’t too bad, since I’m in California. My advice: Get a good pair of waterproof boots, some warm socks, a warm coat, gloves (not mittens, GLOVES.heavy duty, water proof ones)

Hot Weather

I have a policy that I don’t walk dogs in weather over 90 degrees. Potty walks, yes; exercise walks, no. Exercise walks can be done during the cooler hours. Still, you’re driving around in the heat. My Advice: Get a good pair of sunglasses and some sun block.

Rain

Not a dog walker’s friend. My Advice: Get a good raincoat with a hood and pair it with a baseball cap. Wear boots.

Dark

I hope you’re not afraid of the dark. Especially in the winter when the sun doesn’t come up until 7am and it’s dark at 4pm. You’re working in the dark a LOT. My advice: Get a headlamp and some reflective clothing.

Early Mornings

If my first job is at 6:am, I’ve “slept in”. Its not uncommon to start at 4:00am….and that’s after…

Late Nights

The really excellent pet owners won’t want their pets left more than 8 hours, so they’ll schedule you for 5am, 2pm and 11pm (for example) which leaves 6 hours for sleep -minus drive time!! Another reason to keep your service area small. If you spend an hour driving both ways, that cuts your available sleep time down to 4 hours. Yay.

Driving ALL THE TIME

Truthfully, this is your job. You drive for a living. It takes a tremendous amount of patience. You see all sorts of things on the streets. Awful things. Awful people. Stray animals. Road kill. You get cut off, bad drivers nearly kill you, your insurance goes sky high because you’re putting 1000 miles on your car every week. This is a big reason to keep the area you serve SMALL. If there is 50 miles between 2 of your clients, you can bet you’ll run into times you’ll have to make that drive 3 times in a day. My Advice: Learn to listen to audio books; you’ll learn something, and the time will pass by much more quickly.

Bugs

Ants get in the pets food if it’s left outside. Flies are attracted to dog poop that’s not picked up like, well, flies – and if people leave their doors and windows open, they come inside. It can be pretty gross. Some pet owners don’t treat their pets for fleas. Sometimes you have to deal with bugs.

People who “forget” to pay you

            Yeah, it sucks.

Stepping in “it”

Occasionally, because you’re working in the dark, or people didn’t pick up after their pets (or other dog walkers just left it there), you’ll step in it. It’s gross. Best tools I’ve found: A stick and a good clean patch of grass. Scrape “it” out with the stick and then rub your shoe in the grass for a good minute. Sanitize your shoes when you get back to the car, or when you get home.

“It” in general

They all do it and you have to clean it up. The pet owners want to know if they did it and what “it” looked like. You not only have to deal with it, you have to get comfortable talking about it. My advice: Stay away from the dollar store and invest in some really great poo bags.

Feeling like a janitor

Some people don’t clean. Sometimes it smells. Sometimes there are roaches and spiders. Even if the house is clean, if you’re going to offer overnight services, you’re probably going to have to clean some.

The germs

What can I say? If you’re an extreme germaphobe, this might not be the job for you.

The Dog (or cat!) that wants to kill you

You get these occasionally. You’ll usually find out at the interview. Ask the pet owner when they suggest, so you can do the job and stay safe. If they have no suggestions, you probably don’t want to do the job…

The fine line between reporting abuse & neglect and being able to educate the pet owner

Most of these cases have to do with neglect. Matted hair, overgrown nails, fleas. Sometimes all it really takes is pointing out how the pet is hurting. Most pet owners will respond. If they don’t you have to consider whether the pet is hurting enough to warrant calling the authorities (and they might take the pet and euthanize it.) There are consequences no matter what you do, and you have to live with that.

This is not a job for the physically weak or faint of heart. Pets eventually die and it breaks your heart – and a lot happens between now and then. Enjoy it. 

 

 

 

 

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