The do's and don'ts of leaving rover with a petsitter

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2004

Doggie Do'sBy Linda Shipman

You're planning a trip out of town. Who's taking care of your dog while you're gone?

Informal arrangements can be made with friends, family and neighbors. If your dog knows them and their household, he may be less stressed with this arrangement than living at a boarding kennel. Be sensitive to asking others to pet sit, as it may not be good timing for them. Have an alternate plan. Also, try to reciprocate in some fashion so the arrangement is not one-sided.

It's also possible to find volunteer petsitters, who love animals, and may be without good housing arrangements; i.e., living on a boat, sharing a small apartment with several other people, living in a cabin without running water. The trade here is your dog is watched over, played with and loved, while the housesitter enjoys cable TV, toasty environs during winter, a larger living space, and all the amenities many of us take for granted. It's a bit more difficult to find these volunteers and keep them on an ongoing basis, because their life is usually in flux.

Juneau also has professional petsitters who can be found in the yellow pages under "Pet Exercising, Sitting and Maintenance." Though there are six listed, only two are currently in business. Check out accompanying graphic.

Janet Argevitch, well known in our community as a Century 21/Totem Properties Associate Broker, used to pet sit in San Francisco. Though she no longer does this type of work, she offers excellent suggestions for employing a conscientious pet sitter.

• Ask your vet for a referral. Vets often have interaction with pet sitters because animals sometimes get sick when their owners are gone. Moreover, a vet will be very careful with his or her recommendation because the vet's reputation is at stake here.

• Ask your friends for a referral, but only those who take care of their animals the way you take care of yours.

• Ask the petsitter for references, and make sure you call the people on the list.

• Make sure the pet sitter comes to your house more than once. The pet sitter should come at least once when you're not there in order to find out whether the dog will even let him or her inside. If the dog will need to be walked and/or exercised during your absence, practice that with the petsitter before you go.

• Make sure your vet knows you are going away. Give a letter to the petsitter giving the authority to order care for your pet, if necessary.

• Make sure you tell the petsitter where the leash is located.

• Make sure there is enough food available.

• Leave extra cash for emergencies.

• If possible, leave your contact number(s) as well as the number(s) of a friend or family member who could take over, if necessary.

• If your animals have any quirks, make sure the petsitter knows what they are.

In addition, provide the petsitter with notes on the quantity of food to be given, how often, and if treats are allowed. It's particularly helpful if you can compile a list of commands to which your dog responds. If your dog has a special medical condition that needs monitoring, inform the petsitter beforehand, especially if pills or shots must be administered.

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