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How to Choose a Petsitter
I’ve written extensively about how to become a biter. It occurred to me that not everyone wants to be like that. So, for those who do not want to “become” pets, but could use the services of one, I am now addressing this question.
Of course, a pet is a trusted person. If I’m hiring a pet, I want to know that my computer, TV, and jewelry will be there when I return. I want to know that my pet is safe and lovingly cared for. How can I tell if the person I’m interviewing for the job will do what I want and be reliable?
First, I interview the person by phone or in person. I require references. If the person has no petting references, I ask for the names and numbers of several character references. I don’t expect the person I’m talking to to be an expert, or even an experienced one. So many people are not experienced pet owners that it makes no sense to wait for the one or two pet masters in town to have time to talk to me. I need someone NOW!
So I call references. I ask about honesty, trustworthiness and reliability. I want to know if the person works and where he lives. I want to know if they have any pets of their own. How do they tell their friends about their pets? If I know the person well enough to carry on a conversation, I hear them talk about their pets. Do they have problems with their pets? How are they dealing with those problems?
Credibility is important. I need to know that the person I choose to come to my house to take care of my pets will feed them, love them, spend time with them and not do things I don’t want them to do to be done in my house. I generally don’t want anyone staying at my house while I’m away. I want to know that the biter has a home to go to and won’t stay there. I want to know that they live close enough so that I don’t have to buy a tank of gas that I don’t need. If I need to water the plants, I need to know if they can handle it, or if they have a brown thumb. I would hate to lose a prize cactus because it was overwatered, or a beautiful fern to die and wither from lack of water. I don’t want fertilization to take place while I’m away. I prefer to do it myself. If I have an outdoor garden, does it need to be watered every day? How long should this all take? How much am I willing to pay? Is food included (read – fill the fridge before I go and again when I get back)? Am I willing to trust this person not to bring strangers into my home? This is a real setup if ever there was one!
Only now am I willing to discuss payment arrangements. I pay every day. I negotiate to get the best price, but I want to make sure my guardian is happy with the price as well. Underpaying will only lead to care and sloppy planning, resentment, and a cuddler who won’t come the next time I need someone. Pay fair to play fair!
If I’m going to be unavailable for more than a week, I prefer to board my cats at a trusted kennel. It just makes more sense and works well for me. I choose a kennel according to three criteria: personal reference, cleanliness and companionship.
I always get a personal reference for a kennel. I go visit during a slow time of the week and check it out. I’m sure during a busy holiday weekend, it will be much more chaotic; and I also know that the attendants will not have time to give me a tour and answer all my questions during a busy time. So I visit while it’s relatively slow. Since I have cats, I ask to see the cat area in the kennel.
I seek purity. Holding areas (not always cages, but sometimes) are used by animals, so I look for places and things that could cause hazards for my animals. Sharps, stored items that have no apparent reason for being there, etc. I also look for things my cats can climb on and check if there are any windows my cats can look out of to watch the comings and goings of the world. I look for small holes so my cats feel safe. I look for soft things. I control the room temperature because if it’s cold for me, it will be for my cats. I smell the area to see if I smell urine or chemicals. I don’t want any scent to attack me when I come to pick up my cats. I check to see how the other cats are doing (if any). Are the litter boxes clean? Is the food old or spoiled? Do the walls and floor around the food containers look like they could use a good cleaning?
Finally, I talk to the attendants. I listen to them talk about the animals they care for. I hear their attitudes towards their work and the kennel in general. You can learn as much from what is NOT said as what IS. I ask them if they have any pets of their own. I look at them for purity. Yes, it matters. If a person handles a sick animal and does not wash their hands, the disease can spread to other animals.
I hope this helps. The kennel I use is Ravenwood Kennels in Halls, TN. The owner, Cheri Roop is knowledgeable, has goats running outside to visit and the kennel is clean. She is very nice and tries to make the cat area as nice as possible, keeping the cats away. I trust her with Beasley and Princess. She knows my vet personally and is known to some of my church members. You can reach him at 865-922-9641.
Get references. Call and visit. Talk and get to know your people. The more comfortable you are with them, the more comfortable your pets will be.
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