Note: We’re starting a new series of “confessions” where we ask certain professionals a quick set of questions and keep their responses anonymous so that they can tell the complete truth. If you’d like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise to keep you anonymous.
People can be pretty particular about their pets. (No judgement, I am one of the worst offenders.) But when we’re not home, we want our pets’ caretakers to be just as particular as we are. This is where professional pet sitters come in.
I talked to one Charlotte pet sitter about what it’s like to spend every day caring for other people’s cats, dogs, parrots and pigs. Here are her confessions about neglectful owners, dog poop and finding a room full of puppets.
What’s the most annoying thing your clients do (the people and the pets)?
When dog owners lie about training their dog, or when cat owners leave me a litter box that hasn’t been scooped for a few days and it’s full before I even get there.
For the pets, I hate when dogs want to roll in something smelly, or cats that just poop anywhere they like. (Cats test you that way.)
Can you tell if someone is a bad pet owner? Do you ever do anything about it?
Yes, and sometimes it’s really awkward to speak to them about it. There are little clues like if the dog is dirty, really overweight or not trained. I try to tell them that Rufus needs a bath, training or a diet and be as polite as possible. A lot of them don’t see the problem.
Have you ever had to fire a client?
Unfortunately, yes and it’s really upsetting. Nine times out of ten it’s the owner that is the issue and not the pet, which makes me feel guilty for the pet.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in someone’s house?
The weirdest thing I found was when I was cat sitting for an older couple. I was looking for more cat litter and they told me it was in the hall closet, so I went into the hall and opened a door. It wasn’t the closet—instead it was a bedroom full of dolls and puppets, from floor to ceiling. Puppets hanging from hooks and dolls in chairs. Scared the life out of me.
How do you feel about pet cams? Do you feel like people are spying on you?
I actually highly suggest owners get pet cams. I have one for my dogs and I think it is amazing. It can put the client at ease and me as well, knowing they see how much care I give their pets.
Ok good because I have a pet cam. Do you spend more time with pets you love?
Yes, I spend a little more time than normal with my favorites, but my schedule is so packed that it isn’t much longer. They might get more treats or a little more walk time and if they are one of my long-time clients, sometimes they will even come on a car ride with me. We normally go get breakfast or a cup of coffee.
Are there any types of pets you refuse to watch?
No! I’ve sat parrots, pigs and even a school of Koi. All pets are welcome and the odder the better. It helps me when people have specific pets in the future.
Tell me about your craziest client.
My craziest but absolutely nicest client was an older woman in her late 60’s. She had so many rules for her cat. I had to cook her cat fresh food every meal and scoop its litter every single visit. The craziest thing she asked me was to take her cat on walks to the dog park. I told her that wasn’t a good idea, but she insisted. I drew the line there and told her I would take the cat to the farmers market. Everyone there got a kick out of it.
Has a pet ever died while you were watching them?
No, and this is my worst fear, especially since I specialize in senior pets. I always have that first talk about what would happen if the pet died, and it’s never a conversation I want to have, but it’s a must. I have had elderly clients (pet clients) pass away while I wasn’t watching them and it’s hard to handle, I have cried for them, said a little prayer to see them on the rainbow bridge. I always try to send flowers or a card to their owners.
Any other confessions?
If a dog poops and I can’t find it, I don’t go on a search mission. However, I try to equal it out. If I see one on a walk that isn’t the clients I’ll pick it up, or if it’s like a rogue poop I’ll clean it up. But, sorry, I’m not jumping into the bushes to find poop.