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In 2005 I started a pet sitting business called Furry Friends Pet Sitting.  I thought “What a fun way to make a living. Play with dogs and cats all day. ” and it was fun; most days.  Other days it was a lot of hard work, dangerous driving, or extreme weather conditions.   Not so much fun.

Most sitters travel to their clients homes to provide pet care. This allows pets to remain in familiar surroundings while the family is away.  A great advantage for the dog or cat that would be overly stressed in a kennel environment.

When looking for a sitter be sure to do your homework.  Remember you are giving this person complete access to your home and pets while you are away.   Here are a few tips:

  1. Always meet your sitter in advance.
  2. Watch how your pet interacts with the sitter. Animals are usually good judges of character, usually.
  3. Ask about liability insurance.
  4. Ask for references and check them out.
  5. Ask what their backup plan is in case of emergency.
  6. Be honest with your sitter.  If your dog protects their property when you are away the sitter needs to know this.  If your pet is an escape artist the sitter needs to know this also.  If they are nervous or afraid the sitter needs to know.   Experienced sitters will be prepared if they know these things in advance.
  7. Leave updated contact information including veterinarian’s name and phone number, though sitters will ask anyway.
  8. Make sure you have enough supplies; dog food, cat food, litter etc…
  9. Ask your sitters rates, know their policies.
  10. Relax and know your pets will be playing, having fun, and getting spoiled.  Sort of like when auntie or grandma comes over.

Last year, I officially closed my pet sitting business.   The economy came to such a grinding halt the year before that I just couldn’t afford to keep it open.  Living in a rural area it was sometimes 10 or more miles one way between clients. Factor in having to make the trips two or three times a day and the gas alone was too much.

I have many happy memories and three of my pets because of Furry Friends.  It was “a fun way to make a living”.

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Being a member of the pet professional community is usually very fun.  Sharing stories about pet antics and goofy behavior is sure to bring smiles and giggles.

However; there is another side of the profession that is heartbreaking.  A front row seat to the horrific things some humans do to animals.   It comes to us through email, blog posts, networking groups, and from the people who have leading roles in the care of these poor abused animals.  Animal control, veterinarians, shelter and rescue workers, and the many volunteers who make it their life’s mission to save those that are suffering.

Animal cruelty comes in many shapes and sizes.  It is not just the dogs that have been put in the ring to fight, or pets that were beaten, maimed, and starved.  It happens around us every day.

Dogs and cats left out in the yard day and night through all kinds of weather. Some with no shelter to escape the bitter winds, freezing temps, or baking sun.  Deep snow, freezing temperatures, sweltering heat, or predators are what they have to look forward to each day.

These actions while maybe not illegal, are cruel and abusive.  These animals have no companionship.  The only human interaction they have is if and when a human tosses them food.   They don’t know how it feels to have their bellies rubbed or behind their ears scratched.  It can make both dogs and cats mean and untrusting.  Often leading to them being put down when they turn to biting as a defense mechanism.

So please, before you get that cute little puppy or kitten who will need a lifetime of love and care.    Ask yourself, “Am I ready for that commitment?”

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At 2:30 this morning the dog and I were woken up by screaming, howling, and hissing.  At first I thought I had a rumble between two of my cats,  so I got up to investigate.  After a search through the house I found my three sitting quietly. It was then I realized all the noise was coming from outside my closed bedroom window.  Two cats, either the neighbor’s or feral, were doing their mating ritual next to my warm foundation.  That means kitten season is almost here.

Each year shelters are overwhelmed with pregnant females or new litters of kittens.  Though they try, the sad fact is they are not all adopted.  Millions of healthy cats are euthanized each year.   This could be prevented by having your cat spayed or neutered.

The simple truth is one unspayed female giving birth to two female kittens who reproduce could possibly contribute 10,000 kittens, to the population, in a seven-year period.  Yes, that is 10,000 kittens.  All in need of loving caring homes.

Please help reduce this problem by having your cat spayed or neutered and spreading the word for others to follow suit.  If you are in need of some help paying,  the ASPCA has set up a database of low-cost programs and Spay-USA is a wealth of information.   Don’t sit by and think this problem doesn’t affect your family.   It affects us all.

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