beyond business: the heart of the client/pet sitter relationship

Sometimes "professional" and "pet" are a dichotomy in my mind. I am a "professional pet sitter," but what does that mean in terms of relating to my clients? The day-in and day-out of pet sitting is mostly mushy-gushy. I love my clients' pets nearly as much as they do (most of them–wink, wink), so it sometimes just seems like a free-for-all love fest. But the professional aspect is also important. So, as a professional pet sitter, I get to play both sides simultaneously. Sometimes being a professional means I need to make sure to send a confirmation in a timely manner or be sure to give an injection in just the right way to a diabetic cat. Other times, it means rolling around on the floor wrestling a puppy or sitting quietly with a senior pooch in declining health. It's all part of my profession, and I love the variety it brings.

 Beyond Business: the Heart of the Client/Pet Sitter Relationship. wellmindedpets.com

Beyond Business: the Heart of the Client/Pet Sitter Relationship. wellmindedpets.com

Though I'm all about the pets, and they are my top priority, I make sure I take care of their parents, my human clients. Often, I only see them once, at the initial consultation. In fact, I have ten-year-old relationships with clients I've only been physically in the presence of one time, ten years ago. And yet, they are valuable, solid relationships. We communicate via email, text, and phone, and we relate well. Some relationships are stronger and tighter than others, but they are all special to me. I consider the fact that I can be genuine and true with the humans involved a big part of being a pet professional. 

Most of my clients understand the bond I share with their pets. Occasionally, one won't, and they'll be some meanie who doesn't pay their bill or treats me like a servant. Though I'm giving myself a high-five for dumping that variety, it breaks my heart because by breaking up with a human, I'm breaking up with their pets, whom I've inevitably bonded with. Thankfully, I can count on one hand how many of those I've had.

As you may know, a few months ago, one of my longest-standing pooch clients passed away. It was a big deal for my whole family. Not only did I have a close bond with this dog, my kids (jr. pet sitters) did, too. The family kept me posted during their dog's final days, which meant so very much to me. 

 It meant the world to me that a new client read about our loss and took the time and effort to purchase special books for us.

It meant the world to me that a new client read about our loss and took the time and effort to purchase special books for us.

I wrote about the experience, and a couple of days later, one of my brand-newish regular clients told me she read about our loss and gave her condolences. And then she went above and beyond. She gave my jr. pet sitters and I four lovely books about losing a pet. Like, she actually went to the store with us in mind and purchased these amazing stories for us to share together. In the infancy of our relationship, this blew me away. I fought back the tears and thanked her, but didn't know what else to say. She felt a close enough bond to us to extend herself personally and provide us with an intimate gesture that will be forever remembered. 

Though my professional pet sitting business exists so that I can make money for my family, it is so much more than that. It is something I am passionate about. I am passionate about the pets in my care. I treat all of them as if they were my own. I often say that being a pet sitter saves me from having a zoo of my own. If I didn't have clients who shared their pets with me, I'd bring home every stray anything, and you'd see me on that show where they out crazy people who hoard animals. Being a pet sitter is kind-of like having pet adoption birth control. I get my fix elsewhere. 

Monetary tips are great. I'll take them with appreciation. But what's even more valuable to me are the texts and calls and email messages saying "Thanks for taking such great care of Fido. We don't know what we'd do without you," or "Wow. Bonkers seemed so calm and secure when we got home. You're a miracle worker," or "We're home, now, and really appreciate how comfortable we feel with you being in our home and taking care of our crew." My favorite? "Are you available again next weekend?"

It's a business. But it's personal. The two are not mutually exclusive. It's one, big, happy emotional mess-of-a-job, and I can't imagine doing anything else.

Do you have a special pet sitter or other professional that you've bonded with on a personal level?  

when a pet passes away: a pet sitter perspective

One of the most difficult parts of being a pet sitter is when a client's pet passes away. Over the course of my pet sitting career, I've had to experience this more times than I'd like. Only once has it actually happened in my arms. A handful of times I've let my client know that it might be time when it was too hard for them to let go. But, mostly, the pets I care for pass peacefully with their families. This has happened more than once over the last couple of weeks, and I must say that my heart is breaking. 

 When a Pet Passes Away: A Pet Sitter Perspective

When a Pet Passes Away: A Pet Sitter Perspective

I always say that my greatest qualification as a pet sitter is my love of animals. Sure, it takes a lot more than that to be a professional, but if love doesn't motivate one to do a stellar job, I'm not sure what will. You can't learn to love animals. It's just in you or it isn't. 

So each time a pet I've cared for passes, a little bit of my heart goes with him or her. I've spent quality time with these magnificent creatures. We've bonded and shared love. They come to depend on me in their owners' absences, and I depend on them because they deliver the best part of my job. They deliver the joy that makes me love what I do for a living.

Since we're a small family business, my children sometimes come with me on pet sitting visits, so they, too, become bonded with the pets we care for. These past couple of weeks have been really rough on them, too. Though they have now had quite extensive experience in pet loss at such a young age, it still hits them hard every time. 

My clients understand the love we have for their animals, and they usually keep me updated if their pets have a serious health issue, even if we aren't caring for them at the time. The humans who hire us understand and appreciate the bonds we share with their pets. We are so grateful that they take us into consideration. The fact that they are dealing with difficult decisions and sadness but still take the time to keep us in the loop is amazing.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a text from my client, Liz.* She let me know that their mixed shepherd, Clayton, had taken a turn for the worse. Over the past several months, I'd been taking care of Clayton as the family traveled, giving him supplements, medication, and special food, and keeping an eye on his overall health as he battled an insulinoma (cancer of the pancreas). I helped care for him after surgery, and the family and I were in regular communication about his condition, even when they weren't traveling. 

 Clayton, circa 2007, at the Maricopa Mutt March, a community event I co-founded.

Clayton, circa 2007, at the Maricopa Mutt March, a community event I co-founded.

Clayton and his family will always hold a special place in my heart. They became clients of mine when Clayton was just a puppy, soon after I moved to Arizona and opened my pet sitting business ten years ago. Their family gave me a sweet little Dalmatian stuffed animal for my son, Porter, when I was pregnant with him...something he still cherishes. After a couple of years, they moved out of my service area, then we moved a couple of times, then they moved again, and just a few months ago, I got an email from Liz..."remember us?" They were back in my service area, and I was reunited with Clayton. To say that these people and this dog are special to me would be an understatement. 

A couple of weeks ago, when Liz let me know that Clayton had taken a turn for the worse and that the veterinarian was running some tests over the weekend, it didn't sound good, but we hoped for the best.

Come Monday morning, I received a text from Liz letting me know that the cancer had spread to Clayton's bones and had made them so brittle that they could break at the slightest pressure. If that happened, the bones could not heal, and he would be in a great deal of pain. There was nothing more to do. There was really only one choice to make. Liz let me know that the vet would come to their home that evening at 7:00 PM. 

 Campbell took the news about Clayton particularly hard. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., tried to comfort her.

Campbell took the news about Clayton particularly hard. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., tried to comfort her.

I thought about Clayton and his family all day and watched the clock. I broke the news to my children, and they were devastated. We'd spent a lot of time with Clayton over this past summer, and they had really bonded with him, too. As the clock struck 7:00 PM, we stopped what we were doing, had a group hug and a moment of silence for Clayton. 

About an hour later, I received a text from Damon, Liz's husband, letting me know that Clayton had passed peacefully.

Over the next few days, I exchanged quite personal text messages with Liz and Damon. They sent me a picture of Clayton enjoying the back yard just a few hours before he passed. Their family was struggling, and so was ours. I tried my best to support them. After all, it was their dog. Even so, they somehow understood our deep loss, as well, and considered our feelings. They even offered for my children to choose one of Clayton's toys as a keepsake, as her children had. This was truly a remarkable relationship. 

A couple of days ago, a card came in the mail. It was addressed to the "Junior Pet Sitters." 

 The thoughtful message to my Junior Pet Sitters.

The thoughtful message to my Junior Pet Sitters.

The kids smiled and got a little teary, as did I. Included inside was a gift card for them to get some ice cream. That made them smile, and–I think–made us all feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Times are sad, but we can always find joy. And what better joy than ice cream, right? I plan to take the kids for ice cream this week and use it as a time to remember all of the things we loved about Clayton. 

I couldn't be more thankful to have these people, and to have had this dog, in our lives. Bonds like this go beyond the "business" of pet sitting. 

I am looking forward to the day when the Ashcraft family brings a new dog into their lives. They are remarkable pet parents, and I have confidence that our partnership in pet care is far from over. It may take some time, but we'll be here when they are ready. 

R.I.P., Clayton. You will always have a piece of our hearts.

 Junior Pet Sitter Porter enjoying cuddles from Clayton.

Junior Pet Sitter Porter enjoying cuddles from Clayton.

 Clayton and I liked to cuddle.

Clayton and I liked to cuddle.

 The many moods of a morning walk with Clayton.

The many moods of a morning walk with Clayton.

 Clayton enjoys a good brushing from Junior Pet Sitter Campbell.

Clayton enjoys a good brushing from Junior Pet Sitter Campbell.

 Smooshing in for a selfie.

Smooshing in for a selfie.

*All names are typically changed in the interest of client anonymity, but I have been given special permission from my clients, in this case, to use their real names. I wanted to honor them properly.

summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare

Since summer is my busiest time as a pet sitter, our family typically stays close to home. With temps reaching 110°-plus, we are either in a pool or seeking out indoor activities to have some fun in-between pet sitting visits. We are fortunate that the Phoenix Public Library offers fabulous free programs and guest speakers, especially during the summer. One of our favorites each year is Rich Isle's Reptile Adventures.

 Summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare.

Summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCare.

Rich, "the Reptile Man," has been obsessed with reptiles since he was a young boy, and he's become an expert, sharing his knowledge and his exotic reptiles with the public, touring all over the Phoenix Valley. He has had a personal collection of live reptiles for over 40 years. He tells his audience of youngsters that if they are interested in something, they should study and read all about it so that they can become experts, too (after homework, of course). He shares his passion with others.

Rich brings the live reptiles through the audience so kids can see them up close. He teaches about their characteristics, environment in the wild, their diet, defense mechanisms, and life cycles. Aside from getting to see some really awesome reptiles, the kids walk away with a broader knowledge and greater respect for these often-mysterious creatures. He lets the kids know which ones make great starter pets and which ones are better left to the experienced reptile wranglers. 

Check out some of the cool creatures we got to see!

 Sunset, a bearded dragon from Australia.

Sunset, a bearded dragon from Australia.

 Slim, a blue-tongued skink.

Slim, a blue-tongued skink.

 Amarilla, an albino green iguana. She's only four, but when she grows up she'll be six feet long!

Amarilla, an albino green iguana. She's only four, but when she grows up she'll be six feet long!

 Pumpkin, a Tangerine Milk Snake. She'll grow to be seven feet long.

Pumpkin, a Tangerine Milk Snake. She'll grow to be seven feet long.

 A piebald (she has random patches of white) Ball Python.

A piebald (she has random patches of white) Ball Python.

 T-Bo, a 26-year-old Rhinoceros Iguana.

T-Bo, a 26-year-old Rhinoceros Iguana.

 Theresa, a 9-year-old Python. She's only half grown, and that's only about half of her!

Theresa, a 9-year-old Python. She's only half grown, and that's only about half of her!

 The kids got to pet Theresa. 

The kids got to pet Theresa. 

I feel so lucky that my children and I get to experience these amazing creatures up close. What a rare opportunity and amazing hands-on learning experience. Rich is a big personality and keeps the kids really engaged, as if the reptiles aren't enough to do so.

Though we have a Sulcata Tortoise, my kids often talk about adopting another reptile, which I'm not opposed to, but we don't take adding a family member to our household lightly, so it may be a while. We'll have to do some more thorough research so we don't end up with a sixty-foot snake by accident. When we do decide to adopt one, I'll be sure to consult Rich before we do.

Do you have a reptile? Tell us about it!

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8 photos of #happiness

Dog Mom Days, one of my favorite blogs, was kind enough to invite me to participate in spreading some joy around this joint! Sometimes I'm guilty of letting the hamsters in my brain take over, so it's kind-of nice to just think about happy and choose some photos that make me feel that way. I hope they make you feel that way, too. 

 Pass on the happiness!

Pass on the happiness!

A special thanks to Ariel's Little Corner of the Internet for starting this rainbow-of--fun shin-dig! What a spectacularly fabulous happy idea!

my 8 photos of happiness

Though my own animals make me very, very happy, I've chosen a few photos that best represent the happiness my life as a pet sitter brings. 

 This lovely lady, posing so politely with my Jr. Pet Sitters (aka, my fabulous littles), makes me appreciate that my children sometimes sacrifice play time and endure days-long pet sitting adventures with me. My children know compassion for animals, have a tiny bit of work ethic, respect my clients' homes and furry family members, and are great helpers when it comes to play time and cuddles. I love them so, and this photo exemplifies their respect and caring for animals and for me. It makes me happy.

This lovely lady, posing so politely with my Jr. Pet Sitters (aka, my fabulous littles), makes me appreciate that my children sometimes sacrifice play time and endure days-long pet sitting adventures with me. My children know compassion for animals, have a tiny bit of work ethic, respect my clients' homes and furry family members, and are great helpers when it comes to play time and cuddles. I love them so, and this photo exemplifies their respect and caring for animals and for me. It makes me happy.

 When I started my official super-really-real (as opposed to the neighborhood kid coming over) pet sitting business ten years ago, this dude was one of my first clients. Several cities later for both of us, we were reunited a few months ago (when this pic was taken), and though he's struggling with some health issues that make me sad, Being back together with my bud makes me happy. 

When I started my official super-really-real (as opposed to the neighborhood kid coming over) pet sitting business ten years ago, this dude was one of my first clients. Several cities later for both of us, we were reunited a few months ago (when this pic was taken), and though he's struggling with some health issues that make me sad, Being back together with my bud makes me happy. 

 This one puts a spring in my step! How can this one not make anyone happy? What made me  especially  happy was taking a pretty rockin' pic of a black dog...SO hard to achieve!

This one puts a spring in my step! How can this one not make anyone happy? What made me especially happy was taking a pretty rockin' pic of a black dog...SO hard to achieve!

 Not the greatest pic, but this really speaks to the love I have for my clients' pets. For me, it's never been about dropping food and heading out. We share moments and we bond, and this captures that happiness I have when I'm hanging out with my best friends.

Not the greatest pic, but this really speaks to the love I have for my clients' pets. For me, it's never been about dropping food and heading out. We share moments and we bond, and this captures that happiness I have when I'm hanging out with my best friends.

 This was an early morning game of fetch with some special pooches. Their family was one of my first clients. None of these dogs was in the family when I first started caring for their pets. We've been through passings and happy times, and a lot together. This captures the personalities of these three, how we play together, and how fun they are, which makes me happy. 

This was an early morning game of fetch with some special pooches. Their family was one of my first clients. None of these dogs was in the family when I first started caring for their pets. We've been through passings and happy times, and a lot together. This captures the personalities of these three, how we play together, and how fun they are, which makes me happy. 

 This pic I took just a couple of days ago. It's gotten a bit of attention because no one (on the ENTIRE planet, it seems) has ever seen a Husky in a desert environment. It makes me happy to let people know that we love (and take good care of) Huskies in the desert (this was an early morning walk, but temps were approaching 90 degrees). This guy is a brand new client of mine, and he's had some challenges in the past, so it makes me happy to let him shine.

This pic I took just a couple of days ago. It's gotten a bit of attention because no one (on the ENTIRE planet, it seems) has ever seen a Husky in a desert environment. It makes me happy to let people know that we love (and take good care of) Huskies in the desert (this was an early morning walk, but temps were approaching 90 degrees). This guy is a brand new client of mine, and he's had some challenges in the past, so it makes me happy to let him shine.

 This one's a bit goofy, but that's me and one of my favorite chickens. Most of my clients are dogs and cats, but I have several "alternative pets," and she's one of my faves. She gives me shit sometimes, but she also lets me pick her up and cuddle her. Bonding with animals who are a bit of a challenge is so rewarding. We're solid. Happy!

This one's a bit goofy, but that's me and one of my favorite chickens. Most of my clients are dogs and cats, but I have several "alternative pets," and she's one of my faves. She gives me shit sometimes, but she also lets me pick her up and cuddle her. Bonding with animals who are a bit of a challenge is so rewarding. We're solid. Happy!

 One of my clients. Need I explain? Perhaps one of my favorite funny pics I've ever taken. This. Guy. Rocks.

One of my clients. Need I explain? Perhaps one of my favorite funny pics I've ever taken. This. Guy. Rocks.

Thanks for checking out our happy!

I'd love to tag some others, so here are the rules:

1. Thank the person that tagged you.

2. A shout-out to the originator of the fun, Ariel's Little Corner of the Internet.

3. Post 8 photos that make you happy.

4. Brief description of each picture.

5. Tag up to 10 more people.

tag, you're it!

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top 10 crazy pet sitting stories in honor of our 10th anniversary

July 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Well Minded pet sitting. Though I dabbled in pet sitting for many years prior, I decided to make it my full-time career in 2005 when my family moved from California to Arizona. This career has allowed me to meet so many wonderful animals and their families, some of whom have been with me since it all began. It has also allowed me to be a work-from-home mom. My kids, now eight and six years old, are my junior pet sitters and have been making visits with me since they were each less than a month old. I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love and incorporate my kiddos into the "family business." 

I've been reflecting on the past ten years and remembering special clients and unique moments. Working with animals can be unpredictable. Though my years of experience help me through most situations, there have been lots of curve balls along the way. Ever wonder what it's like to be a pet sitter? I can tell you that every visit is unique, and I learn from each new experience. In honor of our 10th anniversary, I'm sharing my top 10 crazy pet sitting stories.

 Top 10 Crazy Pet Sitting Stories in Honor of our 10th Anniversary.

Top 10 Crazy Pet Sitting Stories in Honor of our 10th Anniversary.

top 10 crazy pet sitting stories

1. The time I had to hand-feed an attack poodle. If I met this dog today, I wouldn't take the job. But since Paco* came to me in my first year, I was hungry for work and cocky enough to think I could charm any animal, a la Caesar Milan. Paco's mom was an elderly lady who was taking a rare 10-day trip to see her children and grandchildren. During the consult, I did find it odd that she insisted I hand-feed bologna to the teacup poodle, but who was I to argue. Paco barked at me a little bit during the consult, but seemed calm enough as his mama demonstrated their elaborate feeding ritual. 

Everything changed when I came for my first visit. He went bat-shit-crazy, barking and snarling at me. He didn't want to come near me, so I sat on the couch opposite him and didn't make any eye contact. For an hour, he snarled at me. Hand-feeding wasn't an option, so I would toss him bologna like he was a shark. Determined to break his snarling and win him over, I put on leather gloves to try to hand-feed him. He would snarl and bite the gloves as I gingerly handed over the Oscar Meyer. In addition to his off-putting demeanor, he had terrible rotten, stinky teeth (on a diet of nothing but bologna...go figure). After a few days of that, I realized that he was going to hate me no matter what. And the feeling was mutual. So I'd toss the food (if you can call it that) in a bowl and would plop on the couch with a book for the duration of the visit.

We got to the point where he would only snarl if I looked at him. I called it a breakthrough and broke up with the client upon her return.

I learned that if a dog won't really warm to you in a consult, it only gets worse from there.

2. The time I traveled the trifecta. Holiday season 2005. I was living in one city while our home was being built 20 miles away in another. In the interest of building my business, I accepted holiday jobs in both cities, and a third, which was the final point in a triangle of 20-mile-away cities. I had one morning, afternoon, and evening visit to make in each city. We had family in town for the holidays and I didn't get to see them at all. I would leave at 5:00 a.m. and return at 10:00 p.m., driving about a million miles each day. I think I spent more money in gas than I made.

I learned to limit my service area. 

3. The time I broke bones. I was walking Ruthie, the sweetest pit bull mix ever. We rounded the corner, and there was a man checking the mail with his three dogs right next to him. It was only when they charged us that I realized they were not leashed. They attacked poor Ruthie, and she wouldn't fight back (pit bull haters take note). I held onto the leash, was pulled down and drug as I tried to pull Ruthie from the pile while the owner of the other dogs pulled them off her one by one. 

Ruthie came out of it without a scratch, somehow. I, on the other hand came out with three broken fingers (not to mention quite a few scrapes). Two surgeries and six months of physical therapy later...I still have crooked fingers that hurt every day.

I learned that no dog should be out of the control of their owner. Ever. I avoid other dogs when I'm on a walk with a client's dog, always. 

4. The time the ambulance came for me.  I had a heart condition, and I suddenly fell very ill at a client's home. Thank goodness my children were not with me. I called my husband at work and asked him to come right away. I'll spare you the gory details of the condition I was in, but suffice it to say I couldn't stand or walk despite repeated attempts. He asked me to call 911, but I knew I had to give a diabetic dog an injection, so I told him I wouldn't call until he got there and was sure he could give the injection. If he couldn't, then he'd have to carry me to the dog to do it. 

When he got there, I was lying on the bathroom floor. We called 911, and in the moments we waited, I instructed him on how to give an injection to a dog. He was very nervous, but pulled it off and fed them and cared for them before following the ambulance to the hospital.

I learned that a back-up plan is critical. When you think something can't go wrong, it does. (I've had heart surgery, and now I'm all good.)

5. The time a game of fetch went south. A classic game of backyard fetch with an ultra-friendly pooch. What could go wrong? We played, and played, and played. The dog was large and the yard small, so I was tossing underhand, palm down (swinging from the hip with the back of my hand on the upside of the ball, like modified bowling). The dog got excited and playfully charged the ball, only my hand was in the way. His upper fang got stuck in the back of my hand.

I probably should have had a stitch in it, but I'm stubborn and foolish sometimes. Ask my friends.

I learned that even happy dogs can cause injury.

6. The time the dog locked me out. This family recently (and beautifully) landscaped their back yard. They requested that I let the dogs out one at a time, and accompany the outside dog. Apparently, the dogs would destroy the landscaping as a team, but were less likely to disturb things going out solo. I followed instructions.

I took Tango outside first and left Sparky inside. Sparky wanted in on the fun and was quite excited, so she started jumping up and down at the slider. Up and down, up and down, up and down...click. In her flurry to join us, she clicked the lock down. Tango and I outside, her and the key and my phone inside. 

I walked about a mile to another client's house to use their phone to call my husband to bring the back-up key from my office. I went back to Tango and Sparky's in hopes that the landscaping was still in tact. It was. Instead, I could only watch as Sparky drug the bathroom trash to the window and teared through each piece before my eyes, taunting me as I waited for the backup key.

I learned to keep a client's house key and my cell phone on my body at all times.

 7.  The time I found out more about a family than I needed to know. The characters: Two barking dogs. Three talking birds.

The dogs would bark, and bark, and bark at me, at a tree, at each other, and at the wind. It was quite irritating. The birds revealed how the family handled the situation. About five minutes into the bark-fest, I hear:

"SQUAK! QUIET!"

"SQUAK! SHUT UP!"

"SQUAK! DAMN IT!"

 I learned to keep my mouth shut at that house and any other with a talking bird. And I had a good laugh.

8. The time I scared the shit out of a dog. Poor thing. Poor me. It was a big English Sheepdog, and I was instructed to let her out of her upstairs crate and into the backyard. The poor thing was quite fearful of me. As soon as I opened her crate, she bolted toward the stairs which curved twice leading downstairs. As she rounded the staircase, she let her bowels loose and sprayed feces in a fanned-out pattern ALL OVER the staircase walls. 

I learned to always ask a client where they keep their cleaning supplies.

9. The time I was sure a dog would choke. Oh, Quincy. One of my all-time favorites, but not the sharpest tack. The small terrier was rummaging behind a bush, but I didn't think much of it. Dogs nose around in bushes all the time. When he emerged, I saw he had something quite large in his mouth. 

A dove. He had a dead dove the size of his head in his mouth. I slowly approached him to retrieve it, knowing that if I tried to get to him too quickly, he'd bolt. As I approached, I calmly requested Quincy to drop the bird. 

He looked up at me and swallowed it in one gulp. If I didn't see it with my own two eyes, I wouldn't think it possible. He then went about his business as if he'd not just swallowed something the size of his head.

I learned that when it comes to dogs and prey, the impossible is possible.

10. The reunion. Perhaps my favorite memory. When I first opened for business ten years ago I was contacted by a very nice couple with a puppy named Clinton. I cared for Clinton regularly for a couple of years, and we had a special bond. Then the couple moved away. Then I moved. Then they moved. Then I moved. They had a couple of kids, and so did I.

A couple of months ago, I received an email from Emily, Clinton's owner. She said she'd found my web site and wondered if I serviced her area (not really, but close enough). She wondered if I'd be Clinton's pet sitter again. 

So now I am. He's not a puppy any more, and neither am I.

I learned that bonds with animals survive over time and distance.

After ten years, I can definitely call myself a pet sitting veteran. I've seen a lot and experienced a lot. Mostly positive, with a dash of "what did I get myself into?" But every situation has been a learning experience, making me a stronger, wiser pet sitter. I'm fortunate to be able to be paid to do what I love. 

Here's to another ten years of making crazy memories!

* In the interest of privacy and security (and to save off embarrassment), names have been changed.