It's getting closer to vacation time. Finally, a chance to rest, relax and have some space from day to day challenges. Part of vacation planning is finding a way for your animals to be safe, happy and well cared for while you are away.
In most cases, the best place for your animals to be is in their own home.
Familiar sights, smells, sounds, and routines can be a real comfort and security for companion animals. Professional Pet Sitters are happy to prepare special diets, play & walk in familiar settings, and just "hang out" with your animal family in your home. Older animals and animals with health or physical challenges will most likely feel safer, more relaxed, and secure in familiar surroundings. Many Professional Pet Sitters, myself included can stay overnight in your home or visit once, twice or three times a day.
The Top 10+ things to look for when hiring a Professional Pet Sitter
1. Professional Pet Sitters offer a free one time consultation to meet you and your animals to review care needs and to ensure that your animals and you feel comfortable working with them.
2. Does the Professional Pet Sitter have experience and feel comfortable caring for and handling animals. Does the Pet Sitter have experience working with the types of animals you have? Is she experienced and feel safe working with horses, farm animals, exotic birds, reptiles and fish?
3. Is the Professional Pet Sitter Licensed & Insured? This is an important consideration. What if damage is done to your property by accident or negligence? Are you covered? Does your pet sitter take their business seriously and act in a professional manner?
4. Do you feel comfortable working with the Pet Sitter. Do you feel your concerns and questions are respected?
5. Does the Pet Sitter respond in a timely manner via text, phone, or email? Of course, she might not be able to get back to you right away. She may be walking a dog, grooming a horse, or at a veterinary appointment. However, it is important that your pet sitter get back to you same day to let you know how your animals are doing and that all is well.
6. Do you trust your Pet Sitter to honor your privacy and respect your property and home while your away? Check references and trust your intuition. It's important you feel safe for you, your animals, and your home.
7. Do your Animals like the Pet Sitter? Sometimes it can take a while for your animals to warm up to a new person, especially animals who have been abused or neglected by previous owners. However, most of the time your animals can give you a clear signal whether they like the pet sitter or not. Trust your animals to help you make the right decision. They might be sensing something is off. Pay attention to any red flags or warning signs that the person you are interviewing may not be the right fit. You want your animals to be treated with compassion and positive handling.
8. Is your Pet Sitter comfortable administering medications and special diets? It's important that your Pet Sitter follow instructions to make sure your animals are receiving optimum care while you are gone.
9. Does your Pet Sitter keep your home clean? Does she make sure your animals bowls, litter boxes, kennels, and bedding areas are kept clean and fresh? Professional Pet Sitters leave your home and animals belongings as clean or even cleaner when they leave.
10. Does your Pet Sitter leave you a note to let you know she completed the visit and how it went? Does she confirm that you are home after the visits have been completed to make sure all is well? Communication is critical so that no animal is left behind without care.
Preparing your animals for a happy stay while you are away will go a long way in making sure your vacation or time away from home is as worry free as possible. Better yet, you might find when you come home that your animals have a new Best Friend in their Life
This weekend I had the honor and pleasure of taking care of a cat named Arnold. Arnold is a rare breed of cat, called a Snowshoe. The Snowshoe is a recognized rare breed, a cross between an American Shorthair and Siamese.
They are distinguished by their white markings on paw and face.
Arnold reminded me of a Siamese. Intensely curious and intelligent, he followed me about the house, watching me prepare food, water plants, and waited for me on top of the bathroom counters while I cleaned litterboxes and washed and refilled water bowls.
In the evening, he liked to sit with me while I watched television. Reading was not an option as Arnold is a pretty good size cat. A book was no match for his size and claim to the chair and my lap.
During my sit, Arnold enjoyed the fresh air from the screened in windows from the inside preferring not to go outside. He is an indoor only cat and seems to not mind at all staying in the house.
Snowshoe cats are elegant with short hair, exquisite blue eyes, and lots of personality. Generally, they get along well with other cats and pets in the household.
This is true of Arnold. He is great company for people and animals alike.
I have a special place in my heart for Golden Retrievers. I've been lucky in life to have two. Sandy was our family dog when we lived in Daly City in the 1970's. She was the sweetest dog a kid could have. She followed us everywhere as we explored the neighborhood on adventures, went camping with us to the Redwoods and the Russian River, weekend beach runs in San Francisco, and romps through Golden Gate Park.
Later, in my thirties my mom's friends Anna & Teri gifted me a perfect golden puppy. Melanie. We hiked trails every morning before work. From Bodega Bay to Monte Rio to the hills above Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa. She was a great swimmer, smooth in the water like a Sea Lion, brave enough to get butted over and over by goats at my farm, and smart enough to weave around the danger of stomping horse hooves.
She made up her own games hiding balls under decks, fishing them out with her paws, and learned how to hunt and steal eggs from the coops and nesting areas in the barn.
So when I get a call from a client that needs pet care for their Goldens. I am over the top, happy. There is always a piece of them. A part of their personality, their heart and charm that reminds me of the Goldens of my past.
The photo above is one of my new pet sit clients. She is a wonder dog in her own way. I've had so much fun hanging out with her, taking her for walks, and having her as a companion doing chores around the garden the last few days.
I'm going to miss her to pieces when it's time for me to go.
It's good to see people who hire pet sitters like me see our work as more than just opening a can of cat food and filling the water bowl. Cats are companion animals. Most of them enjoy the company a pet sitter provides as part of her services.
Some cats. Few. I might add. Hide from me during visits. In most cases, I'm able to win the kitties over to my side of the couch by bringing a book to read, being quiet and non-intrusive, and giving the cat a whole lot of space and time to get to know me and know that I am safe to be around.
It doesn't take long. Cats crave attention in their own way.
Each and every cat is unique in her own way. Some cats like to sit in a chair a safe distance away enjoying my company in the same room. Some cats climb into my lap and want lots of attention during most of the visit. Other Kitties like to play with toys. Wands, squeaky mice, and felt balls wiggled and tossed are fun activities for both of us.
Many of the cats I visit, recognize my car when it pulls up in the driveway. They meow "hello" at me from the window or meet me behind the front door sashaying their tails leading me to mealtime.
It surprises me how many cats want me to turn on faucets in bathtubs and sinks so they can drink fresh water. I have special requests from their people to turn on the water for short periods of time in bathrooms and kitchen areas so the kitties can drink and play in fresh streams of water during my visits.
The cats always remind me by jumping up on counters and showing me their favorite faucets!
I love the curiosity of cats. Their intense, peaceful presence. The variations of color, pattern and personality. The trust they have in me after we get to know each other. Their playfulness. And independence.
Keeping a cat is being alive with the wild natural force of nature.
Cats are Dancers. Acrobats. Living Art. Hunters. Pure Presence. Royalty. They teach me to stretch out past my limits of who I think I am embracing the wild child within.
They are great teachers on life's journey.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.
Gilda Radner (actress)
My first dog was a German Shepherd called Rex. I was two years old and used to sneak him my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I still remember his massive dog shadow blanketing mine.
I had to look up to see his big brown eyes and laughing dog smile.
When I was fifteen years old, I got my second German Shepherd. A six week old puppy, I named Marseilles for the seaside village in France. She was a Christmas gift from my parents. Tears rolled down my face when I saw what was placed carefully in the gift wrapped box. A red dog bowl, a puppy chew, and leather leash. I picked her out at the breeder in a small town called Cotati in Sonoma County, Ca. She was the daughter of the Covy-Tucker Hill "Best in Show" Westminster "Hatter". Manhattaan is the winningest male German Shepherd in dog show history. I showed Marseilles briefly. She didn't like having a handler unless it was me next to her. She broke the show ring when she saw me watching from the sidelines and lost the blue ribbon. We never went back. She was a noble dog. My best buddy. always by my side, with me into my twenties. We went to the river, the parks, she rode with me in the car when I got my learner's permit, traveling the country roads on the bench seat of whatever old car my dad gave me from his lot at our family owned gas station & repair shop.
When I was in my late thirties, I got my third German Shepherd. Katie. She was surrendered by her owners who lived in Louisiana and suffered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When I adopted her Katie had traveled the great distance to California on a chartered aircraft carrier sponsored by a millionaire whose compassion led him to rescue animals misplaced by the disaster, bring them to California and adopt them out from the shelters here. It took almost two years for Katie to recover from bacterial infections riddling her body from the murky infested flood waters. She gained her weight back. Her health. And she faced her fear of water and became a great swimmer besting the Golden Retrievers in the House.
She is still with me today. Going strong.
German Shepherds are Spirit Dogs. One of my soul dogs. My sisters have German Shepherds also. My sister Lisa has one and my sister Teresa has two.
The gorgeous dog in the photo above is one of my pet sit clients. I love her to pieces. She follows me everywhere, through the vineyards, watches me while I feed the farm animals, chases turkeys off the dirt paths, jumps and swims in the pond, tears around the property playfully, curiously digs red dirt from the ground sniffing out wild creatures. She is so much fun to watch and be with. She loves when I massage her big lion paws.
She is so full of life!
One of my favorite books about German Shepherds is Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean. Rin Tin Tin is the story of the famous Shepherd's journey from orphaned puppy to movie star & icon.
It's a page turner!
My experience with the German Shepherd dog is their loyalty and dedication to their person is intense. They bond deeply. Sensitive, strong, powerful, and highly intelligent, they are wonderful dogs for the right people.
I am lucky to have had three them. Rex. Marseilles. Katie. By my side on this journey.
There are 44 million donkeys in the world. The first donkeys were shipped over to the Americas during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. Donkeys are a domesticated member of the Equine Family.
Donkeys come in four different sizes: Minature, Standard, Large Standard and Mammoth.
Most donkeys are working animals used for packing and pulling. The donkeys I care for in my pet sit business are all pets. Companion animals and friends living peacefully with other animals such as goats, horses, and ponies or with each other.
There is a special energy around donkeys that feels peaceful. I love just spending time with them, brushing them, and watching them curiously check out what is going on around them. The baby donkey in the photo is watching me fill his water bucket with cold water from the hose on a hot day. He dipped his nose into the spray, having fun with the hose.
Most of the donkeys I take care of are very affectionate, leaning up against me and asking for hugs. Some of them love their ears rubbed and backs scratched. They have a quiet, knowing presence. For me. I can't quite get what they are thinking. There appears to be a gentle mystery hidden inside the velvet silver coated body and floppy ears.
Donkeys remind me of children's stuffed animal toys and fairytales.
If you want to read a heartfelt story about a rescue donkey named Simon and his journey of healing, I recommend the book Saving Simon by Jon Katz. It's a great story filled with anecdotes about burros (Spanish word for donkey) in literature and history.
There is so much to learn about donkeys. Their history is intertwined with ours, all of us on a journey across time.
I can't believe the selection of feed and treats for chickens these days!
The other day, I stopped by Friendly Feed Store on Fulton Road in Santa Rosa to buy hay and found a package of bug balls.
"Ball o' Bugs. Printed on the package.
How do I describe the latest treat? It's like a big cookie dough ball of bugs.
The chickens love it!
In a matter of minutes, the bug ball was reduced to bugalicious crumbles immediately gobbled up.
A birthday cake for the flock. I wouldn't be surprised.
I love taking care of chickens. They are so curious and fun to watch.
Did you know chickens create thirty different sounds, carry a vocabulary and teach each other stuff? They dream in their sleep and their DNA can be traced back to dinosaurs during the Triassic period about 200 Million Years ago.
One of the precious ponies I take care of. Waiting for his breakfast of Teff Hay (low sugar) and pellets for breakfast.
Thank you for visiting my blog page.
I plan on sharing fun activities, places to visit, new products, and adventures I find along the way on my travels taking care of animals at Homes, Farms, and Ranches in Sonoma County, California.
In the photo above are my own animals, Lady and Coco. Lady is a twenty-nine year old retired TB Mare. She is still pretty feisty and spirited! Coco is a twelve year old Alpine goat I adopted when he was only two days old. I bottle fed him along with his twin brother Fonzi, who sadly passed away in 2015. I love caring for horses and farm animals in my pet sit business.
Lady and Coco will soon be moving to Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa. I will be boarding them both at a beautiful ranch overlooking Annadel State Park where I can visit them often in between my pet sit visits.