FIDO: Hey, Fluff, who was that guy who just left your house?
FLUFFY: Hi, Fido, that was Paul, my new pet sitter.
FIDO: Why do you need a pet sitter?
FLUFFY: Mom and Dad are going away in a few weeks, so they found this great guy to take care of me. I met him today and he’s cool!
FIDO: Where did they find him?
FLUFFY: You know, I’m not sure. I’ll go ask mom. Maybe she has some tips she’d like us to…
FIDO: …share with Meryl!
FLUFFY: Fido, you read my mind. Let’s go talk to mom, and then we’ll go get Meryl.
And so they did. Follow these 6 steps to finding the perfect pet sitter and take all the stress out of going away, whether it’s for a day, a week, or even longer.
Plan in advance: Don’t leave the decision for the last minute, or your options will be limited. Whether your pet sitter is a friend, a neighbor, a relative or a professional, you’ll want to book them ahead of time to make sure that your first choice is available.
Choose wisely: Pets are usually safer, healthier and more comfortable in their own environment, so arrange for in-home care whenever possible. If you don’t have a friend or neighbor who can help, do not despair! There are many resources that make finding a pet sitter easy. Check out: dogvacay.com, petsitterspot.com, rover.com, care.com and trustedhousesitters.com. These services are free to use and very user friendly. You can browse testimonials, interview potential pet sitters and contact customer service with any questions or concerns. Many provide insurance for their pet sitters for extra peace of mind.
Have an introductory meeting: This is particularly important if your pet sitter doesn’t already know your animals and your home. Plan a meet and greet to watch them interact. Give them some time alone to get to know each other. This is also when you’ll show your pet sitter the ropes – where you keep the food, treats, dishes, litter, leash, etc.; any meds they need to be aware of or give; where you will post emergency contact info (including the nearest veterinary center); other tasks you might want done, such as sending you pictures or videos, checking mail or watering plants. Establishing clear expectations during this meeting will make you feel much more comfortable about leaving your baby.
Reconfirm everything in writing: A simple email or text after the meeting is an excellent last step in ensuring that everyone has the same dates, times and care instructions. For even more insurance, print off a copy and leave it where the pet sitter will see it.
Stay in touch: If your pet sitter doesn’t check in at the agreed upon time, feel free to reach out. It’s probably just an oversight, but you have every right to make certain of that. This will also reinforce your previously stated expectations, making it much less likely that the oversight will become a habit.
And, finally, give your pet sitter some love! When you get home, check things out thoroughly. Did he leave your home sparkling? (My pet sitter leaves my kitchen cleaner than I do. It’s downright embarrassing, but I love it.) Is your pet relaxed and happy? Did he carry out all responsibilities regarding mail, plants, how much food to give, etc? If so, drop him a note and let him know you appreciate how well he cared for your home and your baby. If he’s part of a pet sitting service, hop online and post a review. And the next time you need him, leave a little gift – a candy bar, homemade or store bought cookies, even a cool pen or pet-themed coffee mug. You don’t have to spend a lot. It really is the thought that counts. This little gesture of appreciation will make you a fave of your pet sitter, and he’ll go the extra mile to keep you, Fluffy and Fido happy. It’s a win-win!
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.