Three pet sitters give us the scoop on some uncomfortable behind-the-scenes situations
A Sticky Situation
"One of my favorite client couples is John and Gina, owners of a sweet, well-behaved pair of French Bulldogs and a friendly kitty. I typically do five walks a week for the dogs during their 9-5s, and I've never had an issue and always been shown tons of appreciation by their awesome little family. After a year of regular walks, John and Gina asked me to do a sitting with their pets while they spent the next two weeks in Hawaii. I was stoked! They had a gorgeous house, said I could use their infinity pool, and of course had the best animal companions a girl could ask for.
"When I arrived for the sitting a couple hours after their flight had taken off, the pups greeted me at the front door with tails wagging at helicopter speeds and excitedly led me to the kitchen where their food bowls were awaiting their dinnertime refills. I'd slipped off my sandals at the front door and immediately recoiled once I stepped into the kitchen. The entire 300 square feet of tile was coated in a sticky film so thick I could probably write my name in it with a fingernail. I caught myself before yelling out, 'What the hell?!', remembering the cameras they'd installed in various rooms of the house.
"While I didn't want to insult my favorite clients by mopping their gross floor the second I got to their house, I definitely wasn't up for spending the next two weeks trudging through some mystery mess multiple times a day. I certainly don't claim to be the cleanest human on earth, but I couldn't comprehend how these people who otherwise had their shit decidedly together managed to leave their petsitter with a kitchen floor that felt closer to walking barefoot into a public outhouse at 2am during Mardi Gras.
"I very reluctantly tiptoed over to the dogs' water bowl that was already close to empty and was filling it in the sink when I was hit with a stroke of genius. I set the half-filled bowl on the edge of the counter and turned my body abruptly to pet the dog licking the sticky floor by my feet. The water bowl splashed to the floor, and I yelled out, "Oh no, I'm so clumsy!" I headed for the cleaning closet to grab a mop, mentally preparing for my now relaxing evening hanging out by the infinity pool."
"I can be admittedly better with animals than I am with humans, which is why I've done the world a favor and pursued a career in the pet industry. I also struggle with connecting names with faces sometimes, and will wait for someone to address me first if I'm unsure if or where we've met before. Sometimes I'll recognize my canine clients being leash walked down the street and only then will it occur to me that, hey, I know that lady walking Lola! She's been paying me to walk her dog for three years!
"Recently while picking out avocados at Harris Teeter, I was struggling to find any that met my standards for the perfect ratio of squishiness to firmness. The man filling up his produce bag beside me gave me a smile and offered me a couple saying, "Here, I found a few extra good ones.
"I thanked him and we engaged in some small talk on the challenges of finding a good avocado in our part of the country during the colder seasons. As he turned to make his way toward the lemons, I noticed him pause before looking back at me and asking, 'Are you my catsitter?'
"I responded, 'I might be. Who's your cat?'
"We both laughed and I was relieved to not be the only one contributing to an awkward client encounter for once."
Fur Crying Out Loud
"Many of my dogs have busy owners with full schedules that hire me to make sure their fur children get plenty of exercise and attention on those days when they end up having too much to do. They'll be home finishing up the cooking or getting ready to go on a date and I'll come by to get their pups good and tired on an hour long trail hike. So I'm used to walking into someone's home and leashing up their dog while having a little pre-walk chitchat with the owner.
"However, one summer on my first visit to a new client's home for a puppy potty visit, I let myself inside after no response to my knocking and spotted the client's high school age kids on the couch watching Netflix. My instructions were to simply let the three month old puppy out into the fenced-in backyard for 15 minutes, three times a day to help with the potty-training while the client was at work. I greeted the non-responsive teenagers and opened the back door which was five feet from the couch. The puppy and I had a nice, easy play session the backyard, and I headed out for my next visit.
"I returned three times a day for the rest of summer to open the back door for the puppy and be ignored by the kids, whose eyes were forever glued to the tv. After visiting with their pet in the same room as them for three months, I'd bet a week's pay they wouldn't be able to pick me out of a lineup. With no school and no jobs, they got to enjoy the laziest summer of their lives with a cute puppy while not having to lift a finger. And I successfully focused on the puppy (and the payment), resisting the urge to ever question the kids' dad about his decision to hire a professional when he had some perfectly able-bodied and very available offspring conveniently plopped down on his couch."