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  • Linda

Why I started a Pet Sitting Business

This is a photo of my sweet Puffy the cockatiel and she was instrumental in getting me to start a pet sitting business.

Every time I'd bring Puffy to the Avian vet for a check-up the vet would tell me that I should be a pet sitter because she'd never witnessed such a bond between a bird and her owner before. It was an intriguing idea because I always wanted to have a business of some sort, but I knew if I started a pet sitting business I'd have less time to spend with Puffy. I usually spent most of my free time outside of work with Puffy. She was like my kid.

Puffy was a wonderful bird, and because she had my full attention, she was also quite spoiled and had so many bird amenities, and then some, in our apartment. She had a super large cage that cost hundreds of dollars. I made her special foods. She had her "cage food dishes" then she had her "outside of the cage" dishes (doll-sized dishes).

Once at the supermarket, I found a chip and dip container that was designed to look like a built-in pool with a jacuzzi. It was the perfect size for a pool for my Puffy! Then I found a lifeguard stand that was pint-sized and put that next to her pool. I'd clip a spray of parsley or other green she liked to the lifeguard chair and she'd sit there and eat, or enjoy the view, or she'd jump into her pool. She had it made in the shade!

Whenever I'd be down with a cold and resting on the couch, she'd fly over, sit on my forehead, and spread her wings out to keep me warm. She'd stay there while I slept and when I woke up to get a drink or whatever, it was then that she'd fly back to her cage to eat, drink, make a poopie, and then would join me back on the couch. We took care of each other. We entertained each other. We just enjoyed each other's company.

When I was home, she was out of her cage and had the run of the apartment, but she usually chose to sit on my shoulder or arm of the chair. She'd help me "type" on the computer. She loved music, as the above photo can attest, and when she liked songs she'd bounce up and down to the beat.

She discovered one day, with the skill of a pickpocket, to fly on my shoulder and quickly slide out my earring and would fly away with it, then would drop it on the rug, and then "help" me find it. Tweeting with delight the entire time. But no matter what her antics were, I could never be angry with her. She was just too cute for words.

A surprise discovery was that she was a happy egg layer, and she'd lay about 11 eggs a year. Some eggs she'd be attached too and try and hatch and some she'd ignore. I'd prefer it when she didn't get attached because then she mourned when they weren't hatching. An emotional event each time for her, as well as for me who had to get her distracted enough to forget about the egg and continue on with her little birdlife.

She traveled with me when I moved to California in a Ryder truck that I specially outfitted to comfortably fit a travel cage and we'd have to stop each night before dark to give her enough rest in a hotel room before starting off early the next morning. My one goal was to get to California with Puffy being A-OK.

During the first part of our time in California, she became anxious and started feather - picking. This was upsetting to both of us. The California vet told me that once birds start feather picking it is hard to get them to stop. But, with time, attention, and slowly shaping her behaviors, as well as calming my own anxieties about living a whole 3,000 miles away from New Egland, she stopped picking. The vet was amazed! After a few years, we both made it back safely to New England.

About the 8th year of having her feathery sweetness with me, she contracted some weird illness. My vet and I tried everything. She'd get better for a month and then get sick again. At one point she was egg bound and that was traumatic for both of us. Afterward, it seemed she had an ongoing infection that nothing seemed to treat. I did my due diligence looking for answers on the Internet. I even contacted a vet in Moscow who was supposed to be knowledgeable about these things. This went on for about a year.

The morning she died was beyond sad for me. It was like losing a child. I know some of you who are parents would disagree, but I had no children.... but I had Puffy. I knew she was tired of fighting this illness. She was sitting in my hands that morning, enjoying me talking to her and petting her ever so gently, and I could see that she was laboring with her breathing. I kissed her on top of the head and I said to her: " Puffy, you are the sweetest baby, and you've tried so hard to get better. But if this is too much for you and you want to go and be with Jesus in Heaven, feel free to go." With that, she looked up into my eyes, took two deep breaths, put her head down, and passed into Heaven.

Oh, how I cried. On the evening of the day of her death, I received an e-mail from the Vet in Moscow - he said "try this" and named a medication. "This might help," he said. It was too late.

I searched the Internet for the topic "mourning pets" because I was very upset and that is when I found the site with the "Rainbows bridge" poem ( and it was comforting but made me cry some more. There was a space on the site to send a message to your pet in Heaven, so I wrote a letter to Puffy. (I know, this sounds weird, but for those of you who have loved and lost a pet, you will understand). That night I turned on my computer and in my e-mail, it said "A note from Puffy". The site sent me a letter from her to me, and it was so comforting, but I sobbed like crazy.

I said to myself "I'll never have another pet because it is too painful when they die". I had other pets before, but losing Puffy was the hardest.

As the months went by after her death, I really started to miss having a pet in my life and then my vet's words started echoing in my mind "You should be a pet sitter". I thought that could be a way I could have pets in my life but in a different way. I wouldn't necessarily do it to get rich, but to have it meet my needs as well as business needs. It would be more of a lifestyle business, not a huge corporation with lots of pet sitters. It would be one of offering the best pet care to other's pets, just as if they were my very own.

I did some research and almost a year to the date of Puffy's death, I opened my business, "Precious Pets". I called it that because I always said to Puffy " You are SO Precious!".

So that is how I started pet sitting. My vet has since passed away too (she had become one of my pet sitting clients too and I took care of her parrots) and I know that she and Puffy, along with my other pets, and some of my pet clients who have passed, are waiting for me on the other side of the Rainbows Bridge.

It will be a glorious day when we all meet again! Thank you Puffy for setting me out on a journey in pet sitting that has brought much joy to my life.


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