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Professional pet sitters need to understand the nuances of pet behavior, but most of all, they have to expect — and accommodate — some rather unusual owner requests.
What’s the wackiest thing that you’ve ever done for a pet?
We posed this very question to professionals attending the recent Pet Sitters International conference in Austin, Texas. From freezing poop to looking after lobsters, these sitters have some amazing anecdotes to share.
Catherine Oakley of Power Pet Sitters in Atlanta, Ga., recalls accommodating a client with seven cats — and each kitty needed to eat in a specific location. "One cat, in particular, had to be served at the dining room table," Oakley says. "They all knew exactly where they were supposed to eat."
This car-centric tale comes from Robin Cara of All Ears Pet Sitting in St. Johns, Fla.: "My client had me drive her two dogs around the neighborhood every day — and I had to use her car. Hey, it made her happy, and it made her dogs happy, so I was happy."
As part of her Big Paws Pet Care in Jersey City, N.J., Judy Kosky has masterfully cared for exotic birds, eels . . . and one ailing piranha. "His owners were going to be gone for a while, and they weren't sure if he would make it until they got back," Kosky says. "I was instructed to pack and store him in the freezer should he pass away. Fortunately, he did survive while under our care."
Mark Phillips / Alamy
"We had a nice, older lady with a cat," recalls Shannon Pingitore, who operates Carolina Pet Care Services in Fayetteville, N.C., with Teresa Blackwell. "She had specific instructions on how to clean the litterbox. We were to scoop, double bag the contents into zip-locked bags and then put them into her freezer. She didn't want her trash to smell, so we were to freeze everything — poop, urine litter clumps — and if the cat got sick, we were to freeze that, too. On trash day, we could throw it all away."
Here's a curious crustacean tale from Cheryl Wilson of TLK Professional Pet Care Services in Watertown, Mass.: "One of my clients had a girl in grade school who had a school project to take care of baby lobsters about the size of crawfish. They were named Grumpy, Princess, Fifi and there might have even been a Louie the lobster. My duties were to feed each one and mark in a journal for the girl if they pooped or molted. A week after the job, I received a note from the girl, thanking me for keeping her journal. She got an A for her class project."
Kathy DeVan of Carolina Comfort Pet Sitting in Sumter, S.C., obediently follows the feeding instructions that she was given for a Maltipoo. "Our client wants us to mix the dog's dry and wet food and then heat it for 12 seconds," she says. "We then place the food bowl on the bed in the master bedroom and put the dog on the bed. We then lie on our stomachs on the bed a little away from the bowl and turn on the TV. We are not allowed to look at the dog while he's eating. It seems to work, and the dog eats. Our job is to make our clients happy."
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