AddThis Social Bookmark Button

A "dog blog" about all breeds and issues of importance to people who value the dogs in their lives, with a special emphasis on Search and Rescue dogs, in particular the training of my Newfoundland Dogs

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dog-Sitter or Baby-Sitter?

Finding the right “sitter” for your dogs

Having dogs is a lot like having kids. Sometimes the need arises to have a “baby sitter.” If you live alone and do not have the luxury of a spouse or one of your human kids close by, or even a neighbor that you know well enough or trust to have them deal with these emergencies...then you need to start making a set of plans if your dogs have to be left for a length of time without you... NOW. Things can come up suddenly in this day and age.

Of course, there are places scattered all over this country that specialize in a form of dog sitting known as “boarding kennels” and I will touch on these institutional settings another time. Dog kennels are not always available in an unplanned emergency situation.

What I want to focus on in this article are the possible instances when things come up that may require you to have an unexpectedly prolonged absence. Perhaps you are normally gone for only 8 hours a day and you end up in an “on the road” emergency which is going to drag into 12 hours or more. Perhaps you suddenly get sick and end up going to a hospital in the middle of the night. In these cases It is wise to have some contingency plans.

Do you live in a large city or an isolated country setting? This will make a difference in your plans. Large cities have a much larger population base to choose from and travel to your home may not be as difficult. On the other hand, an isolated country setting can provide just as ideal arrangements for you if you take the time to really look into your possibilities.

One of the best places to find a dog sitter who can be “on call” for emergencies is to check with your local high school guidance counselor. She or he can steer you in the direction of responsible young adults who may have an interest in animals and be willing and hard working kids to boot. High schoolers can get busy however, and their time may be devoted to other things that will impinge on their ability to suddenly run to your home to “do dogs”.

High schools that run Farm or agriculture programs might be able to provide you with a couple of names of farm kids who would be willing to chore for you and are already living near you if you are in a rural area.

Another place to find a possible dog emergency care taker is a local retired citizens center. Folks who are not living in “assisted living arrangements” and are still physically active often have a lot of time on their hands and usually enough life long experience to be able to adequately jump into a situation and care for your dogs in an emergency. Keep in mind that a frail physical being can NOT care for and walk an unruly animal, even if it is a LITTLE dog, so you do need to consider the physical strength of the person you are looking for.

Once you have located one or two persons who might fill the bill for you, you need to set up an interview situation. One of the most important things to consider is whether or not your dog is going to be comfortable with the person you have chosen. Have the person come to your home for the interview and meet your animals. It is imperative that your dog (s) or cat(s) like the person who may have to care for them in an emergency! Check out background checks by asking for personal and church or community references. Both of these things are absolutely necessary. Then be sure to inquire what the person you are interviewing will expect to receive as wages. If you live on a fixed income or have very little to spare you might want to consider a barter arrangement, you may have skills that you can trade for sitting services.

Once you have found someone you and your animals feel is suitable, then it is necessary that you go through the entire process of feeding and doing the chores with that person. Do this once, then the next time have them come over and do everything while YOU are watching. Before they come, that second time, go through all the necessary arrangements, such as written instructions posted in a prominent location, storage of ood, dishes, water, and so on in an accessible area, and clear and concise posted instructions for everything! and DON’T forget to include emergency contact numbers including the vet and poison center.

Now go back to the beginning of this article...remember that I said “baby - sitting”?? Think back to your days of parenting and go through the dog sitting steps with the person you have selected much as you would if you were again hiring a baby-sitter! Once you have adequately prepared for the possibility of sudden absence ot time away from your pets by hiring a sitter, you will be able to face every day from the perspective of the boy scouts and “be prepared!”

check out Dogaze Designs for your favorite breed on your favorite products!

check out Isark9 for information on search dogs

check out my DogGone Digs for up to date articles on general doggy stuff

this article written by Kath Reed, owner/manager of Dogdaze Designs