How incredibly fortunate I’m not a wildly hot actress who is required to travel from L.A. to different locations to film and invent ways to spend my truckloads of money. Truth be known, I’m just not much of a traveler. I love the wonder of experiencing new cultures and cuisine, but I could do without the frantic over-crowded air travel, and the process of passing through security and customs... Especially when you forget that you have a tiny tequila cake stowed in your carry-on for your bestie that you forgot to declare as “food”. No matter how far away I travel, my pets at home are never far from my mind. They always remain connected to me as if by an invisible tether.
We are fortunate to have my parents living right next door who care for our animals when we travel. It is part of my Mom’s nature to overcomplicate almost everything. Though I appreciate the excellent job she does taking care of our animals, she makes the task a whole lot harder than it has to be. I swear, it wouldn’t be unusual for us to get 20 miles out of town and for her to call asking, “Which direction should I pet the dog? With the direction of his fur, or against?”
Then there is my Dad who is not so interested in the finer details of pet care. As I prepared to leave our animals in his charge while we spent a week in Mexico with my Mom, the conversation went something like this...
Me: “The thyroid pill is the only medication that the dog ABSOLUTELY needs two times a day. If you forget to give him his vitamin or eye drops during the week it won’t be the end of the world.”
Dad: “Who? What? Which one? This little pink pill? Okay, I won’t give him the eye drops then. If he goes blind, I don’t care.”
Me: “If he goes blind, I’m getting him a service guide dog.”
Dad: (Pauses, giving me the stink eye) “You’re an animal hoarder, you know...”
This coming from the person who brought home every stray dog, cat and displaced wild fox, deer, rabbit, salamander, gecko, flying squirrel and owl that he came upon as a younger man. Today, 1 dog, 2 cats, 2 horses, 2 gerbils and 2 fish all reside at our animal farm. I suppose the work involved with keeping such a variety of creatures would be undesirable to some, but the way animals enrich my life as graceful companions hardly makes it seem like much work at all.
Me: “Um… thanks, Dad. Here’s Dr. Connie’s phone number. Don’t feed him onions, anything fatty or too many Little Debbie snack cakes. Call if something goes wrong.”
Ideally there would be someone who is a bit like my Mom and a bit like my Dad to take care of my animals when I’m away. Which I guess would be someone like… me! Yes, in a perfect world I would like ME to take care of my animals when I’m away!
We returned to find all of our animals none the worse for wear and very happy to see us. My Dad tried to feed the cats dog food (that they refused), and one of the cats horked up some kibble and a hairball on the windowsill that he left for us to see because he was intrigued by its “artful arrangement”.
Just 24 hours after returning home, I was off to pet sit client dogs Chester and Baxter. It just so happened that it was coincidentally Professional Pet Sitters week. This week acknowledges the dedication of professional pet-care givers who provide quality care to their pet-owning clients and raises awareness about the benefits of in-home pet care for companion animals.
While in-home pet sitting is not the main focus of my work, it is an assignment that I take from time to time. People hire me to take care of their animals simply because they know I will care for them the way they would like them to be cared for. They are confidant that they will be given adequate exercise and that they will be fed, pottied and given medication at appropriate times. As a benefit, I provide massage therapy to the animals I care for to relieve some of the psychological stress resulting from their being separated from their people. Some people seek out my services because they have dogs with special needs or who are not well suited for boarding at a kennel. Some animals may have health problems or need continuing focused veterinary prescribed physical therapy after a surgical procedure. Others simply just feel more comfortable knowing their dogs are being cared for in their own environment and have the attention of one individual looking after them.
I value the experience because I am always learning something new. Each owner has their own way of caring for their pets, and it is interesting to me to observe the creative solutions people develop to address a particular problem. Every animal teaches me something and is endlessly entertaining. Staying with them gives me a better view of their everyday behavior and their ways of moving—much more than I would see during the snapshot of a 1-hour massage session.
I had loads of fun watching Chester watch TV. Apparently, Chester dog has a big problem with Ryan Seacrest’s hair... Yeah, you and me both, buddy.