Most folks have a pretty good idea of why petsitters love to mind owners’ houses and animals. Not only does it often come with the chance to experience new cities and countries, but it also allows sitters a chance to spend time with animals without committing to a lifetime of care.
However, one aspect of petsitting I had not considered before jumping into the professional-ish pet-pal world is the extent of value the experience can provide for the owner and for the pets.
My Eureka Moment
One of my first petsitting opportunities was in a picturesque Mountainous village in southern Turkey.
I struck up a conversation with the homeowner letting her know how appreciative I was for the chance to watch her pets. She surprised me by thanking me for helping her.
Here I was with a chance to hang out with big dogs (my favorite) and personable kitties with free accommodations in a place I could only dream of living, and she was thanking ME?
Then I thought back to all the particular rescue dogs and cats my family has had and what it felt like to leave them for family vacations. It started to make sense. I was humbled.
It’s about Trust
Relationships start with trust. Trust between the owner(s) and sitter(s) can be built through many layers of proof.
The first layer is through websites such as this one which provides users with profiles, pictures, and references.
Next, comes the vetting process for a particular assignment. This process begins with messages back and forth on the petsitting platform, often a virtual interview, sometimes unofficial research (i.e. social media snooping), and possibly a face-to-face meeting. This process will vary for individuals, but the point is to build a mutual understanding while fleshing out expectations.
Finally, there is the aspect of staying in contact. These phone or email check-ins can be regular or just when the animals do something particularly cute (or destructive). Who doesn’t love pictures of their fluff babies?! It is also reassuring to have an emergency contact for more extreme situations.
Best Interests of the Pets
By and large, pet owners love their furry housemates. These wonderful humans dote on their four-legged friends treating them closer to family members than house decorations.
One of the most important reasons for a homeowner to have a petsitter care for their pets in-home is that the experience is in the best interest of the pets.
Boarding pets can go well. Owners can drop off their pets, be gone for a few hours or days, the dog or cat could be well-fed and happy from playing amicably with all their new fur friends. That is basically a perfect boarding experience.
But it could go another way.
Many animals don’t do well out of their environment, similar to many humans. Some studies even point towards dogs displaying signs of mental illness when kenneled.
These experiences can be exacerbated for rescue cats, dogs, or other pets who have experienced various forms of extended neglect or abuse. When they are taken out of their established safe zone, they can slip back into their nightmarish memories of their former homes. One owner told me how traumatized her dog was for days after returning from a kennel.
Because the petsitter will be joining the animals in their home, there is no need to change the animals’ schedule or their environment. More on that further down.
Peace of Mind
Have you ever left work but still had 100 work-related anxieties buzzing through your head? Even at home, the “necessary” stressing and phone-checking prevents any deep breaths.
Now multiply that by your home, your belongs, and most important of all, your furry family members. A vacation doesn’t work if the home and pet owner could not relax. Having established a trusting understanding, the owner knows everything is in good hands.
This goes a step further.
The best pet mamas and papas seem to have a system for meeting the needs of their animals. For many petsits, I have come a day early to get a walk-through of the feeding procedure, medication distribution, the house. Usually, we do a practice run to make sure I understand everything.
This way, I can maintain the animals’ routine. Just as with proper training, a pet who knows what to expect will be less anxious.
A Call to Action
To my petsitting friends, you have a huge responsibility. It is no small feat to care for an individual or couple’s home and furry family. You are trusted. You have the opportunity to provide the best time for these animals saving them from what could be a scarring experience in an unfamiliar place. You got this. Now go do it.
To my home and pet owners friends, know that we are here because we love animals. We take this seriously and want to do right by you and more importantly, right by our new furry friends. Though we can never replace you, we will maintain the regularity in your pets’ lives so they can relax and get back to napping with dreams of you (or that elusive squirrel) running through their minds.
Jake Belknap is a copywriter looking for his next adventure back in Michigan after jaunting through Latin America and Europe. After leaving teaching, he set out to experience the world and see what he could do with the written (well, more often typed) word. Whether hanging out with animals on a petsit, hiking a volcano, or going upside down in yoga, Jake is assuredly off somewhere looking at shiny objects. Follow his travels/jaunts on his website, JauntingJake.com.