Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Middle Age Adventures in Pet Sitting"

"Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life."
James Cromwell

First of all, this is the first time I have personally referred to myself as middle aged.  I still think of myself as 25, and often act like it too. I have boundless energy and often times take on more than I can chew. I also have the confidence of a flea, if a flea has confidence, which has nothing to do with feeling 25 it’s just a personal confession I am making to the world or my 20 viewers. Magnum, my husband, would caution me to say such things should I ever interview for a job. Such an announcement would give reason for an employer not to hire me. But I don’t care because first of all, this is my pen name! No one knows the real me! Secondly, since I have no confidence, I have no worries that anyone would hire me in the professional workforce anyway. After all, I believe I have failed at most careers ventures. I either have too much ‘Jersey’ attitude or am not detailed oriented enough. But this subject is a whole other blog I’ve been wanting to write and will originally and creatively title “YOU’RE FIRED!” Be on the lookout.

Today I will write about my latest attempt to earn a penny: pet sitting. I’ve been busy pet sitting and have neglected my trilogy blog “Life of Jack and Jane” I started a few weeks back. I know, the suspense of those stories, I’ve left you all hanging. Anyway, my middle age adventures in pet sitting all began a year ago when I posted on our neighborhood website that my son is available for pet sitting. I was trying to help him earn a buck in an honest and age appropriate way. We got no response so I figured the competition for pet sitting in the hood was steep.

Flash forward to a year later and our first client reached out to us; traffic source the NEXTDOOR site from our post a year ago. Of course we jumped at the chance. Problem was, Tommy, my son, was not available the entire time because he goes to school, has sports and divides his weekends with his dad. But I did not want to lose this opportunity in a tough pet market so I said yes and it became a joint venture.

Brady the dog and Lucy the cat was our first gig, our first pet clients. I don’t like cats but I love Lucy! And Brady is just the sweetest little, white dog. So we very much enjoyed watching these pets and their owners have been a steady client.

Next our neighbor around the corner asked my daughter Halley to watch her two cats. Once again we said yes but my help and time was needed to assist in the process so it once again became a joint venture. We were told their one cat had separation anxiety and often misbehaved when they went out of town. Well this cat threw up and broke a pot with dirt all over the floor and ceramic and a big mess. Not a big deal for Halley or me but I felt bad for the rug and pot and would have to “break” the news that damage occurred on our watch.

Cats are easy to watch. You check on them once a day, make sure they have food and water and refresh the litter box. If they want a hug, you give them one, and typically cats don’t want hugs, except for Lucy, whom I love. Well this naughty little cat disappeared for the rest of the week. I kept checking for dead cat in the corner, sniffing for foul, rotting flesh, I mean I was concerned! I had to notify the cat owners, though I was tempted to go to the local shelter to bring home a look alike. Long story short, cat was found, safe and sound. Rascally pet!

Even with the missing cat, I suppose word got out about our pet sitting and business began to boom. The neighbors were coming out of their dog houses. I got another reach out to watch two Shitzus. I always feel like I’m cussing when I say Shitzu. Shatzi and Max, two adorable Shitzus full of personality. Shatzi has kidney disease and needed to be walked frequently. My time with Shatzi and Max was uneventful. I walked and fed them once, gave them hugs and cuddles and they survived my pet sitting. I refused pay since I did it as a neighborly gesture and enjoyed being helpful. They paid me with a bottle of wine which was overly generous and I believe I made friends with the dogs and owners, they are such a nice couple. Perhaps Magnum and I and the owners can get together some time. Anyway, I digress as is my habit.

I was feeling good about myself and ability to pet sit, even if I had misplaced a cat. Maybe I did have worth outside of the home. I felt aside from being a mom and wife, this could be my thing, my little side gig. After all, I could give attitude to a dog and they would still lick my hand and there was no photo copying or filing for me to have to be detailed and screw up. Pet sitting boosted my confidence in my ability to work outside of the home. This psychosis in my neurosis about my anxiety in my working ability may sound psychotic but once I write and readers read my blog “YOU’RE FIRED” any borderline worry about my mental state will be quickly understood as just a temporary state of insanity, I think. Wait, what did you say? I thought I heard something, a strange voice. This dang fly won’t stop bugging me. What fly? The one I’m swatting. Huh? What was I doing? I’m not crazy, how dare you…

Anyway, like I said, business started to boom. Another neighbor reached out to me to watch her 10 week old yellow lab Zoey. She wanted me to let Zoey out twice a day. I said no problem but offered to take Zoey back to hang with our lab Daisy for a few hours a day since I felt it was too much for a pup to be left alone for such a long time. She seemed thrilled with that idea. I took Zoey home and had her on leash. My neighbor’s dog across the street came over unleashed to our house. He sniffed Zoey and then tried to attack her. Fortunately I don’t think he tried to bite her but was just showing his dominance. This was a close call though and I started to rethink, perhaps, it’s not my place to decide what is best for someone’s else’s puppy, that I will just leave Zoey in her crate and do as the neighbor requested and check on her twice a day. Even if puppy cries tear at my heart strings, not my dog.

Then came Toby. Another neighbor reached out for me to keep Zoey at our house for 8 days. Wait, did I say Zoey, I meant Toby, I can't keep track of all these pets! Anyway, before I said yes to being a doggy room and board I checked with Magnum who was becoming a bit concerned that our home was turning into a kennel. Magnum loves pets though and seemed happy to have Toby.

Toby has been a gem. He is a poodle spaniel mix, black and white. He doesn’t shed, he’s quiet, and he and Daisy have become great friends. Toby quickly became attached to me and is very Velcro, which means for those that don’t know, he attaches himself to me, he’s my shadow. All this was very endearing to me. I felt I was giving Toby a five star stay which would please his owners. After all, his lady master told me this was the first dog she ever owned and Toby means the world to her.

At first I let Toby out on a leash as my yard only has one of those invisible fence things. But seeing that Toby was Velcro ,I became very comfortable that if I kept a close eye he would stay within 10 feet of me. Between the puppy, Daisy, and Toby, all three dogs were having fun in the sunshine and pet sitting, even with the lost cat and mauled puppy, was going great.

Then, and I know this is a longer blog, but hang in there, almost getting to the climax. But then Toby took a poopie in the yard. So I took 10 steps into our detached third car garage to grab a poopie bag. I turned my back on Toby for maybe three seconds. When I came out of the garage, closed the door, Toby vanished into thin air. Holy Shitzu, a pet sitter’s worst nightmare, the dog was gone.

I figured he wandered around the house so I hollered his name. He was NO WHERE in sight! Even Daisy began to panic. I think I was on the verge of entering a state of shock.

I rallied the three kids to hop on their bikes and search for him. A white dog against the green backdrop of trees and springtime shouldn’t be hard to spot. But he was NO WHERE to be found. How could this happen?

I rallied a few neighbors to help me in the search. I immediately posted on NEXTDOOR an urgent message to find Toby. I’ve lost our dog Daisy before, we have tons of dogs roaming and wandering and they always find their way home. This is a very dog friendly neighborhood. But Toby is not my dog and who knows his psychosis. Maybe he bolted to find his family? It was a nightmare. And the sun was going down. Darkness was about to set.

Worse yet, since I publicly posted an urgent alert about my pet sitting incompetence I had to call Toby’s owners to notify them before they read on social media that their beloved dog, member of their family that they entrusted me to watch, was missing. The lady master was naturally very distraught and I could hear panic in her voice. I not only lost their fur baby, I ruined their very expensive Disney vacation high.

After another shout out for "Toby" and two of my three kids riding their bikes all over the neighborhood looking for Toby, neighbors posting leaflets - exaggeration, ten minutes after I hung up with Toby's lady master breaking the potentially devastating news to her that I lost her dog, Tommy, my son, found Toby – in our third car garage. Unbeknownst to me, Toby followed me into the garage and I closed the door on him. My lack of attention to detail got me again. Toby is now on doggie lock down.

I quickly called back Toby’s lady master. She was relieved, naturally, but told me to please keep a better watch on Toby. I was sick to my stomach over the whole ordeal. I vowed then and there that I would end my pet sitting venture, and I became a flea once again.

All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes, except I publicly humiliated my pet sitting failure for all current and previously potential pet clients. I announced it on social media! But even worse, I ruined Toby’s owner’s confidence in me and their Disney vacation.

Someday I’m sure I’ll be able to laugh at all of this shenanigans but for now I opened that bottle of wine Shatzi and Max Shitzu owners brought me. I disclosed my misgivings as a pet sitter to Brady and Lucy's owners and I’ve given up watching the puppy at my home. The biggest lesson learned though is don’t let dogs off leashes.

After my disclosure to Brady and Lucy’s owner, she laughed but warned me that Lucy is a little escape artist so when I watch her pets this weekend, yes she still trusts me, and I made a commitment to her, watch out.


"If you are a dog and  your owner suggests that you wear a sweater suggest that he wear a tail"
Fran Lebowitz


  1. Uncle Chris and Aunt Mary lost their dog for a week. She was in the guest room. Dang dog would not even bark!

    I seem to remember losing the key to the Becus's house when we were looking in on their fish. My mind is a sieve, don't remember if they all died, or we had to break in. I think we broke in to find the tank got too hot in the closed in un air-conditioned house and the fish all belly up...or that might just have been my fear...don't remember the outcome, I do remember the angst.

  2. I think the fish all died and they were not happy. I'm currently in the company of that sweet yellow lab puppy. She's been driving around with us. I'm a glutton for punishment.

  3. Please post more often!!

  4. Uncle Chris and Aunt Mary lost their dog for a week. She was in the guest room.


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    i will try to visit often to read you .blessings to you and your family my friend1

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