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  • Linda

The bird sitter dilemma

When I first thought of starting my business, Precious Pets, I was just going to sit for birds. No dogs. No cats. Just birds. When I'm with birds (wild birds outside or domestic pet birds) I can easily lose track of time because I get lost in their beauty and everything about them intrigues me.

As it got closer to the business becoming a reality, I realized that I wouldn't have much of a business if I just focused on birds. It seems that a lot of bird people just don't go away. Part of that might be because they have difficulty finding a pet sitter who will care for birds or who is knowledgeable about birds. By "bird care" in this post, I primarily mean exotic birds who live in the home, not just filling the outside birdfeeders for a client. That's different, and a whole lot easier!

After some discussion with myself (!) and a realization that I loved lots of other types of pets too, I marketed my business as serving "dogs, cats, birds, and bunnies". Eventually, other pets would be added to my roster - Africa frogs, turtles, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and for one summer I even had a flock of sheep on my list.

As I talked to other pet sitters in the first couple of years of my business, I was surprised how many of them didn't like caring for birds and a few flatly refused. Why? Fear. They were afraid of getting bitten. They were also afraid that they didn't know enough and didn't want to accidentally hurt a bird or do something majorly wrong while caring for them. Some weren't interested in all the work associated with bird care. Pet birds big or small can cause some damage when they bite. Even the smaller birds can pinch someone enough to cause some light pain and make some feel averse to pet sitting for birds.

From the time I was small, I just connected well with all birds -whether free-flying out in nature or birds who lived in homes as pets. It's like we knew each other. It is difficult to explain. I had a total of four birds in my life prior to becoming a pet sitter and had done a lot of reading about all sorts of exotic birds. Plus, when someone is a "bird person" the birds you sit for know you like them. There is an affinity there that is unmatched. They pick up on the love someone has for them (as all pets do).

In the end, I'm glad that I didn't just focus on bird care in my business because in all my years of pet sitting I only had four clients with birds, and all but one of them still didn't go away that often. They are bonded to their birds as their birds are bonded to them and they are very particular about finding the right sitter for them. Rightly so. Some have tried to go away but had bad experiences with the pet sitters caring for their birds and after that, they just resigned themselves to staying home or having close friends who really know their birds care for them.

I am also glad that I cared for more than birds because I've met so many great people and pets throughout the years.

Just to share - I had my own experience of a not-so-great bird sitter caring for one of my birds years before I had a pet sitting business, and that made me all the more want to pet sit for birds and to reassure bird clients that I knew how to care for birds and was eager to learn about the special needs and routines of each bird.

The dilemma for a pet sitter is to decide what pets they will and will not sit for. This is not unusual - or it shouldn't be. For instance, I wouldn't pet sit for snakes or iguanas. People would say to me "but you won't have to touch them - just toss in the food to them", but I'd say in return "but if your house was on fire I'd have to take them out of the house and that would mean I'd have to touch them" and so I'd politely refuse. We all have our limits. I also wouldn't pet sit for tarantulas. But, the good thing, is that other pet sitters would be fine with those types of pets.

To all bird owners, and pet owners out there in my blog land, find the pet sitter that is right for you. We are all human and we each have our own quirks, likes, dislikes, preferences, specialties, and fears. I encourage pet owners who have more than your average dog and cat as a pet, to take time to find the sitter that is right for you. Don't wait until the last minute. Line someone up well in advance of your trip so you get the right match for your needs.

For pet sitters who know a lot about birds and are comfortable around them, then, by all means, make that known to your community so the bird clients can flock to you (joke intended!). Contact your local veterinarians and let them know you have a special interest in bird care. Contact bird clubs or bird rescue organizations. Get the word out. You probably still may not get a lot of clients, but you'll love the ones you do get and you'll have some great memories for the future!

One of these days I'll have to tell you a few of my bird stories! Until then, I wish all of my wonderful readers a blessed day. Thank you for reading my blog, and please tell others about it. I'm trying to increase my readership!


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