Anatomy of a Pet Sitting Visit - Part 5
Well, we've come to the last part of talking about what happens at pet sitting visits. But before we lock the door and head out to our next home on our daily roster, we still have just a few more things to do.
Speaking of keys, as the photo above has reminded me, while you are pet sitting at someone's house always, and I mean, ALWAYS have your keys somewhere on you. Don't leave them on the counter, or hanging in the door, and don't leave them in your winter coat pocket hanging on the back of the client's kitchen chair. It is so very easy to get yourself locked out of a house when you step outside "for just a minute" to put the pet food can in the recyclable bin or forget that the keys are not on you when you go outside with the dog and then walk out of the door and lock yourself and the pet outside of the house. This is one of the most important lessons of pet sitting: Keep the keys on your person at all times. Get a belt clip or lanyard for around your neck - keys can get to be too much to put in pockets because more than likely you'll have keys for several homes on your key ring each day and it can be uncomfortable trying to keep them in a pocket - especially if you wear tight jeans!
Now that this important tidbit is out of the way, let's continue talking about Part 5 of a pet sitting visit.
At this point in the visit, everything is done and you are almost ready to leave the client's house. The house is safe and secure. The pets are fed, walked, given medication if needed, played with, brushed, litter boxes are cleaned, plants watered, mail taken in, lights alternated, and anything else you were supposed to do in the client's home.
You've written your log or texted or e-mailed the clients. You've perhaps even sent a photo or two to them.
Now, before you race out the door and head to your next pet sitting visit, take a moment, and STOP. Literally, just stand in place and THINK. SCAN the area and do a mental review of your visit to make sure you didn't forget anything. Give a double check that you did everything on your log list. Note that the pets are content. Windows closed and everything else in the house is as it should be. Toys are put away. Pet food can is in the recyclable bin, etc...
Once you are sure things are all set - this just takes a good 30 seconds - but well worth it, then say your goodbyes to the pets. Pick up your "go bag" and/or pet file, put your coat on, shut off any lights on the way to the door you need to go out of, reach for your keys which are ON YOUR PERSON already, set the alarm if you need to do so, then step out of the door. LOCK THE DOOR. Once the keys are out of the door, turn the knob and make sure the door is indeed locked. Regarding alarm systems, I would always hear them beep as they were setting themselves up after I left, and I would wait to make sure the beeping stopped - just in case I made a mistake and did the opposite. Honestly, I don't trust any technology so I'd just make sure all was quiet before I left the property.
Go to your car and get in. Take one last look at the house. If you were instructed to park in the garage or had the remote to open the garage door so you could enter by walking through it into the house, or once your car is totally out of the garage, click the remote and wait until the garage door is fully closed. Sometimes a garage door might stop halfway down and then if you don't notice it the house will be vulnerable, or you will return for the next visit and see that the garage door is either still open or half-open, and then that causes you to deal with the situation in a whole different way. So, once you are out of the garage, make sure that the garage door is closed, then back out of the driveway. Take one last look at the house, and leave.
This might seem like a weird thing, and it probably is, but as I'd leave clients' homes, I'd wave back at the house most of the time, especially if I saw someone in the neighborhood that wasn't usually there. Now, I know that most pets were not looking, but I didn't do it so much for them, as to let anyone who might be watching the home (for the wrong purposes) make the assumption that someone else was still in the home with the pets and I was just waving goodbye to them. It is a very free and easy trick for home safety!
Now, for some of you, especially newbie pet sitters, you might think this is a little overcautious on my part. Keep in mind that I had my business for just about sixteen years and everything I am sharing with you is from valuable lessons I learned along the way either by my own mistakes when I was starting out or had to deal with surprise situations throughout the years, or by getting great advice from other pet sitters along the way. It is important to talk to pet sitters and share wisdom. Pet sitters in general, are not very competitive people and are willing to share their knowledge with others.
There is nothing like that awful feeling when you get a mile down the road away from the person's house, or you get home an hour later, and then think to yourself - "Did I lock that client's door? Did I leave the kitchen stove light on for the pets? Did I turn on/off the radio? Did I put the pet medication bottle away?" That is when near panic can set in and you either have to go back to double-check or lay awake all night worrying about it and second-guessing yourself if it was more of a minor thing.
In the world of pet sitting it is important to be super cautious. I often have told people that this is an excellent field for people who are worry-warts because you know you will be extra-cautious in all your duties. If you are not someone who is generally cautious then second guess this field - because you will make big mistakes if you aren't thoughtful and careful in carrying out your duties.
Being careful means that you and the pets will be at peace until you meet again. This is why people look for good, conscientious, professional pet sitters who do a good job - because then the clients, while away, have total trust and peace of mind that their pet sitter is taking just as much care for their pets and homes as they do when they are home. People can make light of pet sitting as a fluff job (pun intended), but there are so many variables that must be considered when taking on the responsibility of someone's home and pets while they are away.
I will soon be writing a post about how to handle things when the round of pet sitting visits is over and the clients return home, so stay tuned for that post because the information in it is very important.