A pet sitter’s day is filled with fun, hard work and sometimes the unexpected. When you picture pet sitters, you often see us romping merrily in a field with Gizmo, weaving daisy chains and fetching a pristine tennis ball.
This is not the reality.
Don’t get me wrong — there is a lot of joy in this job, but it takes a commitment to hard work and dedication. My schedule varies somewhat daily, but to show you what I mean, let’s take a look at a typical day in my pet sitter life.
6 a.m. — Manny
Manny is an easygoing, quite fluffy cat whose humans have taken a quick trip out of state. At 6 a.m., I’m walking in the door to spend a little time with him. I’ll clean his litter boxes and feed him as well as provide some love. As I walk in, I feel something squish under my foot.
Oh, a hairball. Well, par for the course. Manny looks on in satisfaction as I commence wiping up his offering of love.
After spending some quality (hairball-free) time with Manny, I’m off to the next pet.
7 a.m. — Garfield
Garfield is a big, loveable and well-trained dog that lives in the next town over. He needs his breakfast and a jaunt around the block for elimination purposes.
At 7 a.m., we’re off on our walk. Garfield sets a good pace and does his business in short order. I scoop the poop for the first time of the day, and it’s back home for breakfast.
After breakfast and a playful tumble, I head out, now sporting a trendy layer of Garfield hair on my pants. (Regular grooming, people. It’s strongly encouraged.)
8 a.m. — Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill are 2 small elderly dogs who take a slow ramble around the block every morning and afternoon. Jack is 16 and Jill is 15 (and blind to boot). Jack loves his walks, but because of his advanced age, it is difficult for him to move very fast. This is a very slow walk, which frustrates Jill — she would like to go much faster.
Being blind, Jill also has the tendency to bobble all over the road, tangling leashes and causing general mayhem. By the end of the walk, I have Jack shuffling along slowly as I turn around and around, allowing Jill to run in circles around us at the end of her leash. That way, Jack’s not going too fast, and Jill’s not bouncing around at the end of the leash in frustration — problem solved.
The neighbors find this hilarious, but hey, both the dogs are happy.
9 a.m. — Fiona and Cooper
Fiona is a massive, long-haired German Shepherd, and Cooper is a mid-sized terrier. Fiona is (thank goodness) exceptionally well-trained on the leash, and Cooper is … well, he’s working on it.
We leave the house and Cooper issues a long, loud and excited series of barks to let everyone know he’s here. It works, and now dogs from 6 neighboring houses are all barking out their windows.
I hope everyone was up already.
10 a.m. — Luna
Luna is a 14-year-old Whippet mix and one of the best-trained dogs I have ever seen. She’s in terrific shape other than a touch of vertigo brought on by age. We set a nice, brisk pace and head out.
She does enjoy exploring all manner of uneven ground, which means I must watch carefully and brace her so she doesn’t tip over. Sometimes, Luna and I hop in the car and head down to the beach to do our walks there — it’s one of our favorite activities. Best job ever!
11 a.m. — Break
It’s a wise idea for any pet sitter to try and build breaks into their day. This affords extra time in case there are any issues with pets that wreak havoc on the schedule. This is also a handy time to run to the bank, the post office or complete any daily errands.
I also inhale a quick sandwich — there’s a full slate this afternoon, and unless I enjoy Milk Bones (I don’t), I probably won’t get another chance to eat for hours.
12 p.m. — Callie
Callie is a young, energetic, mid-sized hound. She loves exploring the world with her nose; scent is her life. On our walks, we take plenty of time to stop and let her soak in the scents around her. She’s sweet and incredibly smart but has the unfortunate tendency to eat random things that she finds.
Such things include:
- Pine cones
- Certain leaves
- Rotten discarded food
- Shells, dead crabs, live crabs and bird poop at the beach
Yeah, I watch her like a hawk.
1 p.m. — Bailey
Bailey is a corgi with a weak bladder, so it’s important that I make it to him on time. When I arrive, he dances about in excitement as I sweat to get the leash on and get him outside before he has an accident brought on by joy. We barely make it, but I notice that he’s peed a little on my shoe.
Oh, well — that’s the life of a pet sitter.
Check out these tips from this pet sitter:
2 p.m. — Jack and Jill
These 2 get walked twice a day, so it’s back to a stately, circle-turning pace. It’s a beautiful day out, though, so it’s still a nice walk, even if I get a little dizzy.
3 p.m. — Break
During this break, it’s time to check emails, return calls and look at the next day’s schedule. Any calls I’ve taken during the day regarding schedule changes need to be entered and any new client meetings scheduled. I sneak a look at my FitBit and crow at crushing the competition.
4 p.m. — Manny
It’s full circle back to Manny and our evening visit. We have a repeat of the morning, but he hasn’t left a hairball trap at the door this time.
After Manny, it’s time to head home. But it’s been a pretty great day, all in all, full of dogs and cats and no serious problems. I get home, open the door, start to head in and … oh … my cat has coughed up a hairball.