HAS BEING A PET PARENT HELPED YOUR TRANSITION INTO PETSITTING?
When I began this wonderful journey with TrustedHousesitters I was looking for a better option to care for our ageing pet, Sassy… She was a rescue and really had some issues about being left alone and there was no way we could ever subject her to a kennel. She had been tied up and locked inside a storage shed during the first year and a half of her life so claustrophobia was an issue and just being alone was hard on her.
My husband ran across the website for THS and showed it to me. After reading up on the offerings and great reviews, we felt it was an affordable alternative to the high cost of at-home, paid sitters. The fact they were so expensive definitely hindered our travel plans. We decided to give it a try and after our first experience, we were hooked!
The first young lady who came to stay with Sassy was a Digital Nomad from Florida who was actually visiting different locations to see where she might ultimately end up moving. She arrived at our home and was eager to get to know us, our little girl Sassy, and the town itself. We had created a list of possible interesting landmarks, restaurants, etc., that we thought someone of her age might be interested in visiting. We chatted over dinner the night before our departure and really got to know her and observe how she interacted with Sassy. They hit it off immediately. Within just a couple of hours after we left, she sent us our first pic of her and Sassy playing soccer in the yard. This eased our minds, because first of all, we were leaving precious cargo to a “stranger” and secondly, there was a “stranger” in our home. She continued to send at least once daily pics or videos so we knew she was in good hands. She was in such good hands that when we arrived back home, Sassy was having a hard time deciding who she wanted to sleep with that night. Unless you are a pet parent who really loves your furbaby, you just can’t understand how great that felt (I wasn’t even jealous).
Throughout those first years, we had more than 20 sits, some of which were repeat sitters. We had such great experiences and learned so much about the petsitting lifestyle which made us ask if this is something we might want to do when we reached retirement age. Sadly, Sassy succumbed to blood cancer a year and a half ago. So many of those sitters reached out to us to extend sincere, heartfelt sympathy. After our initial grief (which still occurs), we both agreed we were not ready to take on the adoption of another pet for a while and circled back around to the idea of petsitting ourselves. Because we both still have full time careers, we knew we would not be able to jump in full time yet and decided to take it slow in the beginning. We started applying locally and began a slow transition that would allow us to get some experience before jumping in with both feet.
Having been Pet Parents/Home Owners first, we knew what we expected in sitters. This has made it much easier than just “guessing” and “trial and error” when getting those first sits. Below are some things we think helped us “train” for this new lifestyle by being able to understand the importance of the pet and pet parent’s needs.
Decide the location(s) you find desirable
- Look for sits in the list of “Find a Housesit” and narrow it down to animals you were willing to care for.
- Read the entire profile to determine if it fits with personality and abilities.
- “Save” any desirable listings, even if they don’t presently have dates that work for you.
Prepare a template application letter to send to potential pet parents.
- Make sure to read every bit of information listed on the pet parents profile (pet info, responsibilities, home info)
- Once the profile is read, gear that template to include info about their home, pet(s) and location. This lets the PP know you have actually read and understand their needs.
Prepare for the live video. Make sure you treat this like a job interview, because, in essence, that is exactly what it is.
- Make yourself presentable for the interview….no robes, pj’s, etc., and make sure your hair is combed and presentable. This lets the PP know you take pride in yourself as well.
- Make sure your surroundings are neat and tidy. If your area in the video is messy this leads the PP to think you might not keep their home neat and tidy.
Ask lots of questions about the pet(s) and their home and listen to what they say. Ex…If they say the pet has separation anxiety, make sure you delve into the severity so there are no surprises.
- Make sure you see the pet(s) in the video so there are no surprises about size, age, condition, etc.
- Go over responsibilities again to make sure you are comfortable with what they need and if there is more info given than in the initial profile, make sure you ask more questions about that as well.
- Just like you want to make sure you and your surroundings look neat and tidy, make sure you look at their surroundings. If unkempt and messy, make sure you are comfortable with that,
- As if they are interviewing other potential sitters and if so, ask their timeframe on making a decision (this lets you know whether you should be looking at other sits as well.
- Follow up with a thank you message back to them and if you are interested in the sit, make sure you let them know!
If you get the sit, make sure you ask for the Welcome Guide ion plenty of time to peruse and ask any follow up questions that might not have been covered.
- If you have any questions, make sure you ask about them in plenty of time…no surprises makes for a much happier sit!
Prior to the sit, make sure you know when to arrival
- BE ON TIME! Nothing makes a PP more nervous than having the sitter show up late with no prior knowledge.
Follow the directions on the Welcome Guide
- Hang with the pet(s) and bond as soon as possible.
- Send pics and/or a video early on so the PP has a sense of relief and security.
- Once that initial pic/video has been sent, you should just be able to send daily unless the PP has any other requests.
- Enjoy your time and get to know this new area of the World you may never have been able to without this wonderful community we are a part of!
- Before you leave, make sure their home is at least as clean as you found it. Nothing is worse than coming home after a long trip and being hit with dirt and mess!
- Now, this is just something we do, but not necessary….we always take pics of the pet(s), get it printed and put into a small, inexpensive frame, and include a thank you note for allowing the PP to give you the experience of caring for their loved ones and home.
This is just information we learned from being a PP and carried those into our sits.
IF YOU HAVE TRANSITIONED FROM PP/HO TO SITTER, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THAT MAKES YOUR SIT EASIER? I would love to hear as there may be things we would love to incorporate into our future sits!