Hiring a professional pet care provider can be a daunting thing to do, especially if you’re pressed for time for an unexpected trip or facing some overtime. You wouldn’t hire just anyone to watch your kids for long stretches of time without first doing some research on that person and the same goes for your fur babies. But dogs and cats don’t need as much care as human children, so why spend all that money when you can just get the neighbor kid to drop in a couple times a day for a few bucks?
We as pet care providers often hear questions like this, especially if a potential client thinks the price is too much to pay for feeding a dog or scooping a litter box. But once you leave, your pet still needs the same quality of care and attention that they would normally get while you’re home. This is especially true for dogs who are highly social and bonded to their human families. Dogs are also used to routine; when that routine is interrupted, they can display signs of distress. They may just whine, or they may start destroying things. There are many dogs who may be perfectly fine sleeping all day if left to their own devices, but they still need potty breaks, exercise, mental stimulation and companionship.
This is where we can help. Unlike the next door neighbor, professional pet sitters are insured and bonded should anything happen to your pet or belongings while you’re away. While many pet sitting businesses advertise that they are bonded and insured, they don’t always list who they’re covered by. We at La Pawtite make sure to bring copies of our insurance and bond certificates with us to our initial consultations so our clients can see the details for themselves. They can see the name of the companies we use, the expiration dates on our policies, and know they have a direct line of communication with these companies instead of just taking our word that we’re covered. We list our providers on our website and all of our marketing materials.
We are also trained in cat and dog first aid and CPR. And though we hope we never have to find ourselves in a situation where it’s needed, we would know what to do in case of an emergency. Since I am the primary caregiver for La Pawtite, I make sure to stay current with the locations of local veterinarians, I have the phone number and address of the nearest 24 hour emergency vet clinic programmed into my cell phone, as well as the number to the ASPCA Poison Control Center.
Professional pet care providers also take the time to get to know your pet and their routines. In the packets our clients fill out is a comprehensive bio for each pet that includes not only medical history, but their likes and dislikes, any words they know, where they like to sleep, what times they eat meals, what their favorite toys and games are, what scares them, questions regarding their temperaments and so on. We try to gather as much information as possible to provide the personalized care that each pet needs.
La Pawtite was founded on the belief that pets are not just animals kept for companionship, but that they are part of the family. They should be treated with the utmost care, especially when their families are away and they are probably wondering who this stranger is in their house! When we first arrive at a client’s home, we spend a good deal of time interacting with their pet. We need to make sure the pets are comfortable with our sitter, become familiar with the sitter’s voice and how the sitter smells. All of these things are important for the pet to form their opinion of the human and whether they approve! We need to be a good fit for the pets as well as the human clients before services can move forward.
Our sitters are also committed to continued learning in the field of pet care. It seems like there is always something to learn about animals, be it researching an as-yet unfamiliar dog breed you’ve been asked to walk or tips on litter training a stubborn kitten. When we first opened our business, we joined Pet Sitters International. They are the largest and most recognized organization for professional pet sitters. There is so much information provided to us as members and we are able to communicate with other sitters worldwide. The tools we have available to us through PSI have been invaluable in getting La Pawtite off the ground and we constantly have a network of support at our fingertips. We don’t send in our annual dues just to print out an impressive certificate, we use this resource frequently to make us better at what we do.
It isn’t enough to be an animal lover to make someone an excellent pet care provider. That’s obviously where it starts, but a person has to have a high threshold on their patience. You may love dogs, but will you still love the one who loudly barks in your face each time they see you? Or whines to go out four different times before actually peeing? I believe that answer should be yes. You may not like them very much at that time, but we stress to our sitters that it’s not acceptable to show anger or frustration toward them. There may be times when I need to walk away, take a break from their bratty behavior, but that bond and sense to protect needs to remain in order to take the best care of them. Pet sitting is more than just filling bowls and scooping litter boxes. It’s about compassion, trust, showing genuine affection and commitment to those little ones in your care. When we say we’ll treat your pet as if they’re one of our own, we couldn’t be more serious. This is not just our business, it’s our way of life.