There are just those times when “stuff happens”. A friend of mine teases me about having a backup plan, but when we have dogs or other pets, a plan of action in place is very important for their safety if we have an emergency and have to be away.
Just recently, my husband became ill and the visit to the ER turned into a stay in the hospital which is not unusual. Since I have 6 dogs, I have a person that pet sits for me on a regular basis and knows my dogs, my house systems and my routine well. That is part of my backup plan so she was able to pick right up with a last minute call to fill in for me until we returned.
It isn’t always easy to find that reliable person that is available or willing to care for our animals when we are away. Using a neighbor isn’t usually a good idea although they might pinch hit in an extreme situation. They have their own lives and imposing on their hospitality can lead to them avoiding us. Plus, although being friendly and helpful, they may not be the right person to be on schedule to let the dogs out or may not follow our directions on feeding, sometimes leading to a dog escaping or damage to our house or even causing illness to the pet.
As a part of that backup plan, have it in place before you need it. People that “pet sit” for a business are your best bet because they are usually insured and know how to follow your directions and are usually on call once you have established a relationship. An Internet search will typically locate petsitters in your area or often you can use websites like www.petsit.com or www.petsits.com to find a reliable person. Personally, I would avoid Craigslist ads.
Expect to pay. The old adage “you get what you pay for”, is most often true. Asking someone to care for your animals for free is not a backup plan. Knowing there is no payout, the psyche tells them they can do it their way instead of your way.
Be careful of using children or even teenagers. Children, although they might love your dog, do not have the judgment to deal with emergencies appropriately and it is likely they won’t be there for that early morning potty break to be sure your house isn’t soiled or keeping dogs separated for feeding to prevent a scuffle. Teenagers, on the other hand, can (but not necessarily) be more reliable but an empty house + teenagers could lead to trouble. Even so, most 16 year olds won’t be up at 6 am to let the dogs out and they might not realize the importance of not missing a visit.
Get your plan in place early. Find the sitter, fill out the paperwork, check their insurance and reviews, and have them do a visit occasionally on one of your shopping days to be sure it goes well and the pets get to know them. Then, check in with them routinely to be sure they are still in business and keep them up to date on changes you might have or changes to locks.
That backup plan will give you peace of mind when the Emergency Room beckons or you decide last minute to fly to Las Vegas for a weekend of the awesome buffets! Plan ahead for your pets to keep them safe while you are away because “stuff happens”!!!!