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  • Linda

What worries a pet sitter?

When some people think of the ideal of pet sitting they might imagine a happy person with several dogs walking perfectly at the end of their leashes. You might imagine frolicking in a field of flowers playing frisbee with dogs that actually return the frisbees. You might imagine cats peacefully curled up on a pet sitter's lap while they sit next to a lit fireplace in the middle of winter, or a parrot that carries on conversations with their sitter and who never poops on them.

Pet sitting, as I've mentioned before, is truly a happy field to be in - whether there are flowers in it or not - LOL! There are so many joys in a pet sitter's day. However, pet sitters are human and have the same struggles as anyone else. There are, however, stressors and worries that are particular to this field and these are the things I'm writing about today.

Pet sitting is a business and so it has the normal business stressors like any other business has, like meeting payroll, bringing in enough income to sustain oneself, employees that call in sick, how to market a business without spending a lot of money, etc...

I've told people that pet sitting is a good field for those people who tend to be worrywarts and prone to a little bit of anxiety because it seems that these types of people are generally more hyper-alert to the needs of their clients and pets. They are very aware and try to be pro-active to prevent problems, if even for the sole purpose of keeping their own worries and anxieties at bay.

In sharing with you some of the things that have stressed me out as a professional pet sitter, I hope to help you keep a very realistic view of the entire picture of the pet sitting profession and not just the frolicking-in-the-field-with-adorable-pets ideal.

Even though I used a few alarm clocks, I always worried about waking up on time in the morning. When I started pet sitting, it was on a part-time basis. My full-time job was youth ministry and many times my YM days wouldn't start until 10 AM and I'd work late at the church, so early mornings were never part of my routine. But once I started my business I was often up and out of the door by 5:30 AM, so getting up on time after a late night was a worry.

I always worried about pets getting sick while their owners were away. Some pets get nervous when left alone, especially overnight, and that might make them prone to a stress-induced illness, so my interior motto was "not on my watch" in regards to pet sicknesses. Then of course, during the rare occasions when pets did get sick, my stress was quite high until I knew they were stable. One cat was so attached to her owner that after she left she stopped using the litter box and held it all in. That resulted in a trip to the Vet, calling the client, and the giving of medication.

Pet sitters worry about pets getting injured on their watch and that could be something that happens on a dog walk, by a little dog jumping off something like a couch or bed and hurting their legs or back, getting off-leash and getting hit by a car, or by ingesting something they scoop off the ground quickly while on a dog walk. Cats are also notoriously curious and they can be injured in their own homes by ingesting medication or a chemical left on a kitchen counter, or by getting stuck in something in their own home, and who knows what else! Cats get themselves into their weirdest predicaments!

Then, there is the perennial worry that their humans just don't come back from their trip. A pet sitter once shared with me that her clients went our of the country on vacation and they never returned nor did they call her. After several frantic days, she discovered via a phone call from one of their relatives, that they had been in a fatal car accident and died. I once had clients that didn't return home for about 3 days and trying to locate them while continuing to care for their pets was very stressful.

Pet sitters worry about the clients' homes being broken into or arriving at the client's home for the first visit to find the door unlocked, or worse yet, open. Sitters worry about losing their clients' house keys (which is why sitters should ask for 2 keys - one to use, and one to keep back home just in case that first key is lost, or breaks off in the lock).

Solo pet sitters, very small one-person operations, worry about keeping their own health up to par because except for the client's emergency contacts they provide for the sitter, there is nobody else to do the pet visits if they become ill.

As you can see, there is much that can stress out a pet sitter. Each business has its unique stressors and worries, and the above-mentioned items are just some things that can way heavy on the heart.

I don't want to dissuade anyone from being a pet sitter by highlighting these worries, but if you are someone who is thinking about being a professional pet sitter, then I would imagine you'd want a good sense of what you very well could be dealing with as a professional pet sitter. So, if you are a little bit of a worrywart, this just might be the field for you! If however, you are prone to severe anxiety and worries, you might want to pass. It is good to have a nice healthy dose of a concern as a pet sitting business owner. Too much anxiety and worry can work against a pet sitter though.

I want people to be aware that no field, even the wonderful field of pet sitting, is not all "wine and roses". There is usually some sort of daily stress to contend with and being prepared and pro-active will minimize big problems from developing so that a sitter can have those days where it feels like they are frolicking in a field of flowers and everything goes perfectly well.

Keep a great attitude, be pro-active, be a little hypervigilant, and keep smiling. If you've had a stressful day, tomorrow's promise is a better one, so keep those paws up and prancing with joy! There's another puppy right around the corner that will make you smile!


Questions for Pet Sitters:

What worries you?

What types of practices do you engage in that helps reduce problems from arising?


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