CONFESSION # 1: Sometimes I sleep with my clients.
A few years ago to make some extra money, I thought why not try dog sitting. I have three of my own, love dogs, so how hard could it be to take in a guest or two and watch them?
I have since learned that someone’s perfect angel takes on the persona of Cujo once they walk out the door. When the owner looks at me and says they think it will work, I now know they mean for them.
For the dog sitter the story is just beginning.
Let’s start with the first rule of dog sitting - having the potential guest over for a meet and greet. It’s always important to meet first and make sure they are a good fit with your pack, and to also see how they will react in your home. You will learn there are many types of dogs: hyper, aggressive, shy, skittish, markers (as in everything in your house is like a tree), to name a few.
I remember when I had my first potential guest coming for their meet and greet. I learned many things that day. One of which is the truth comes in many forms.
When you come over for a meet and greet and tell me your dog is fully potty trained, shows no aggression, doesn’t destroy things, barely barks, and sleeps most of the time then I have just one question. Are you lying to me or to yourself? When I took my dog to interview a pet sitter and he went straight to the counter and jumped up to steal an entire bag of dog biscuits, I just turned to the potential sitter and said “He likes socks, too.” The dog sitter will eventually find out so why not fess up at the meeting.
The most important thing I’ve learned is how to translate everything the owner is telling me at the meet and greet into what it actually means.
1. Owner: My dog is a little scared of thunder storms.
Reality: He will probably pee in my closet.
2. Owner: Not food aggressive.
Reality: Keep an extra pair of oven mitts closes by, I might need them.
3. Owner: Fully potty trained.
Reality: Oh, you meant outside?
4. Owner: My baby loves cats!
Reality: Loves to chase them, eat them, and use them for a plaything.
5. Owner: Doesn’t bark.
Reality: The owner is deaf, I’ll eventually be deaf and won’t care, or only barks when something moves.
6. Owner: My dog doesn’t have an issue with stairs.
Reality: They haven’t actually ever used them because the owner has none. Have you ever tried pulling a 100 lb dog down the stairs for 5 days? Trust me, you will not win that war.
7. Owner: My dog has never marked.
Reality: In my house, it will be a non-stop peeathon.
8. Owner: Loves to snuggle
Reality: Will be stuck to me like Velcro until the owner returns.
9. Owner: My puppy doesn’t chew.
Reality: Owner is thinking ‘thank goodness they don’t have to pay for damages’.
10. Owner: I’ll bring his doggy bed, he loves it.
Reality: Until he sees mine. Good thing I have a king size bed and don’t mind him burrowing under the covers like a groundhog. It’s like having my own fuzzy furnace.
Those are the ‘Top 10’ lessons but there are many more, we’ll get to the rest next time. For now let me leave it at this, when the owner comes to pick up their angel I’ll tell them their pup was a pleasure, a pure delight. When they ask about another booking I will smile, sell my soul to the devil, and tell them “I can’t wait.”
Follow me on my daily adventures #confessionsofapetsitter.
Lisa Hoefinger- I have worked in dog rescue for a number of years. I’m currently owned by two Berners and a Chowberger. In case you’re wondering, that’s a chow leonberger mix. My two Berners, Goliath and Aggie, are rescues from the Bernese Auction Rescue Coalition (BARC). My chowberger, Kensy, was pulled from death row and we have volunteered as a pet therapy team with Happy Tails for the last 6 years. Because one can never have too many dogs I also run my own pet sitting business, so we always have a guest or two. I’m the owner of The Good Dogma Company and I was the publicist for the first book written through a dog’s eyes, Bad To The Bone: Memoir of A Rebel Doggie Blogger by Bo Hoefinger, to be published by a national publishing house (Kensignton Books). He now spends his days working on Bo Knows Online while I spend my days surrounded by dogs and blogging on a variety of topics.