By Cat McKeen
So it’s the holidays and you are going to spend most of it in an airport waiting for your luggage, or in a car stuck in traffic. Where’s the family dog and cat? Hopefully your pets are at home snoozing next to the fire with the sitter. What’s more challenging than Christmas shopping for everyone in the family? Shopping for a house sitter to take care of your cherished pets while you are traveling. This week’s post by Pet Naturals® of Vermont will cover some tips on how to find a pet sitter, and how to ensure the sitter has everything needed to care for your pets and your home.
Finding a House Sitter by Word of Mouth
How do you find that perfect person to stay in your home and take care of your animals? The best method is by word of mouth. Find someone you know well who has used the services of a trustworthy house sitter who’s also good with pets.
If you cannot find someone who knows a house sitter, the next step is calling your veterinarian for recommendations. I’ve known many pet sitters who have jobs as vet techs during the day and moonlight as house sitters. Vet techs make ideal pet sitters because of their experience giving medications and providing medical attention (if necessary).
Advertising for a Pet Sitter
Advertising for a house sitter on craigslist, or Facebook, or any social media! outlet is like posting a notice on your front door that you’re away on vacation, and “Please come in and help yourself to our stuff.”
There are a few websites that offer a safer way to find a house sitter. I’ve used Housecarers.com and Care.com to find a pet sitter and to find house sitting jobs. Always check references no matter how good you feel about the person; it’s best to check references from other homeowners who have used the sitter’s services. While friends and family may be willing to offer a recommendation, they can also be biased.
Give Detailed Instructions
Write down detailed instructions for your animals. The more the pet sitter knows, the easier it will be for your animals and the sitter. You should include the pet’s name and a short description if you have several pets. If the sitter hasn’t had a chance to meet your pets before you leave, providing a picture next to the instructions is always much appreciated.
Be sure to include a feeding and exercise schedule, a list of any medications, amounts and when they should be given. Make sure to include side notes, such as, “The cat will try to sleep on the table. Please shoo her down when she jumps up,” or “I keep the lid down on the toilet so that Sparky can’t drink out of it.” Make sure you have enough food, kitty litter, treats, and any medication they will need. Don’t forget things like wireless passwords, and always leave instructions for your TV remotes!
Always leave a number where you (or someone who can make a decision about your animals, or house) can be reached. Eventually, you may hire the pet sitter enough that you will feel comfortable letting sitter make major decisions, but it’s a lot of responsibility for one person to take on. Include your vet’s phone number, and remember give your vet the name of your pet sitter to put on your file so that the vet knows the pet sitter has the authority to call about your pets.
Payment. A pet sitter can cost anywhere between $12 and $50 a day, sometimes more. If you are worried about leaving someone you don’t know in charge of your house, be prepared to pay top dollar for a bonded sitter. It might be worth it if you have dogs that need a lot of exercise or pets who receive daily medications. If you are just paying the neighbor’s kid to come in and feed the goldfish, you aren’t going to pay quite so much and might be able to get away with a gift card to iTunes or Amazon. Be sure to talk about payment in the initial conversation.
Overall, it’s all about proper communication. Find out everything you can about the sitter, leave detailed instructions, and communicate any changes. Lastly, if your plans do change, notify your house sitter as soon as you can. Keep in mind that they have their own schedules, and your animals could end up hungry waiting for you to arrive.
Good house sitters are worth their weight in gold, frankincense and myrrh. Hopefully you will find the perfect sitter to take care of your beloved pets this holiday season.
How do you ensure that you’ve left your pets and your home in good hands over the holidays? Share your tips with us on Facebook!