Finding Special Sitters for Special-Needs Pets

3. Interview “small batch” pet sitters. One of my staff members takes on three or four pets at a time in her small town house. It’s a great setup for needy pets given that pets get the benefit of a quiet home environment and all the experience of a veterinary industry worker. “Small batch” places like hers can often handle many at-home medical treatments, may be accustomed to behaviorally challenging pets and know just what to look for when a sickly patient is in decline. (But always interview first, as with the boarding facilities above, and ask for references to be sure they’re right for your pet’s needs.)

The downside is that many of these sitters can’t be there at all times. Some have remote camera setups, and others have partners or spouses who help out, but it’s more like a real home environment than a professional 24/7 facility. And a homelike environment can be a real plus for easily stressed pets.

4. In-home pet sitters. Want to minimize stress as much as humanly possible? Consider hiring someone responsible and well recommended (bonded and insured is preferable) to come enjoy a staycation at your home. If your pets’ needs aren’t too intensive, you might even find you can hire someone to come check in on your pets a couple of times a day (but don’t take this route if your pets truly need more attention than that). Just be sure they’re capable of performing all necessary tasks and ask them to perform them as part of the interview.

Want added security? Get in-home video cameras for yourself. These have gotten so inexpensive that most pet owners who can afford a vacation can afford one of these $200 remote-monitoring doohickeys, too. And always undertake a trial for short vacations before embarking on a round-the-world cruise. You want to be sure this works out well, right?

Recognize, also, that you don’t have to choose one approach for all your pets. In fact, I use all four! Each of my dogs gets a different facility or person. And it’s not even prohibitively expensive. Not when you compare it to the cost of airfare or vehicle mileage.

Sure, it’s easier to just stay home and go nowhere, but that’s not being fair or humane… to yourself.

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