Searching for a sitter
Well, I'm actually looking for a pet sitter again. Since I've been in California I have had wonderful luck with my sitters. Like most of you dog lovers I cannot go away and enjoy myself if I feel any hesitation about who I am leaving my dogs with. Finding someone that you feel confident enough with to leave them in the care of your canine companions can be difficult and stressful.
When I lived in Canada I only had a couple occassions when I had to board my dogs but the kennels where I left them had huge runs, at least 6x12 and large fenced yards for them to run in. When I got here and started looking around I realized to my amazement that most people board their dogs at the vets, that meant in a crate while they were away. So that option was no longer an option, I cannot imagine leaving my dogs in a crate for a week or two.
So the next huge task was to find out if any actual boarding facilities existed. I did find several but with the open pack type of set up I didn't think it was right for my dogs. Tilley is good around other dogs except that she just pretends they don't exist. Jessie must be the boss at all times and can get into touble because of it and Luke likes other dogs in small time slots, he likes his quiet time and I think a large pack of dogs around all day would not be good for him. I think that these facilities are wonderful if your dog is accustom to being in a very busy dog filled enivronment all day long like a doggie daycare. But for dogs who are not use to this type of scenario it can be a very stressful place.
That left finding someone to come and stay with my dogs in our home. To me this is the best alternative, the dogs are in their familiar surroundings with their fairly similar routine. So how to find someone you can trust? I was so lucky to get a recommendation from some of the people I volunteered with at the shelter. This girl was amazing and I felt completely at ease leaving them in her hands.
After several years of having the best pet sitter, she moved. Now I needed to find that special someone again. Being a dog trainer you would think I'd have it dialed in, wrong. What I had were alot of horror stories that my clients had told me about, pet sitters who never showed or were awful with their dogs. So I had a list of who NOT TO CALL, but not the list of who was great.
As it turns out we had a fabulous sitter right in front of us, my daughters best friend is one of the biggest animal lovers I know and my dogs love her. So I put my trust in her for many trips away and even when we just needed to be away for an extended amount of time I relied on her. But now she is working full time although she will still be the one to stay with our dogs I need to find someone to come during the day. I've sent numerous emails and made lots of calls and I think I've narrowed it down. I rely on my instinct and many of the people I talk to are a big negative after the first few minutes of our conversation.
It is extremely important to find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Because these people are coming into your home you also want them to be insured and bonded. And you must make sure there are many visits before you actually go away so that your dogs are comfortable with this person coming into your home as well. My guy Luke acts alot different when I am home versus I am not home. He becomes much more in charge when the in charge person (thats me) is not home.
So whatever your preference for finding a person or facility to care for your dogs when you are gone, do your research. Ask for references, if they can't give you a name or two call someone else.