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How to Pet-Sit

Every summer, I abandon my incredibly adorable, and incredibly affectionate cat to an army of friends and strangers in Halifax while I traipse about Toronto. It’s something I hate doing, but it must be done.

Lately though, I’ve been up to my knees in pet-sitting gigs. Which for me, is kind of like hanging out with my cat. There’s another plus: for a kid who commutes, a weekend pet-sitting gig downtown is a pretty sweet deal. Not having to trek all the way back to the east end on a particularly sloppy Saturday? Kind of amazing. But there are more perks to pet sitting than just having the built in crash-pad. It’s a great way to get to know various neighbourhoods around your city, make some quick money, and make a new fuzzy, feathered, or feline friend. Here are four things to keep in mind before you accept the responsibility. 

Build Trust:  I cannot stress the importance of making sure that you’re comfortable with the person who is caring for your pet. Making sure that you’re trustworthy, and that you can attend to your weekend-buddy’s needs in a timely fashion is integral to landing the job. If you’ve already met the animal that you’re caring for, and have an established rapport…half your work is done.

Like Pets: Don’t dog-sit if the thought of picking up poo is a deal-breaker for you. Likewise, don’t volunteer to babysit your great aunt’s parrot if you can’t stand its caw. When you’re caring for an animal that you really connect with, it’s not any trouble at all.

Stick to the Schedule: If the owner has specified a very strict feeding, brushing, or walking schedule, it’s in the pet’s best interest to follow it. Some animals need more individualized attention and care than others (for medical and emotional reasons), and it’s your job to make sure that they stay happy, well-fed, and…well…alive.

Respect the House Rules: Even if you’re pet-sitting for a friend, don’t treat their place like it’s a hotel. If you’re staying overnight, be sure to complete little tasks, like taking out any garbage; sweeping the floors if they’re dusty, or doing dishes if they are dirty. Obviously, stay within reasonable measures, like don’t start giving the dog the best flea treatment just because you think you saw a speck move. Now is not the time to throw a racous party; the owner will probably let you know whether it’s okay to have guests, or whether you can do some light entertaining. Strictly stick to those guidelines, or err on the side of caution and don’t have anyone over. Another tip: I always like to bring my own groceries, and leave whatever I haven’t used for the owner to eat. 

~ Natasha Hunt

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