I've heard so many canine horror stories and many of them were true. These tales give me worse nightmares than any tale Stephen King ever wrote! If someone should publish an anthology of canine horror stores, this one would definitely be included.
As the summer of '95 was winding down, some friends of mine made plans to take a week's vacation to New York to visit family. This couple usually rented a van or mini-van to drive on the trip to accommodate their child and six Shetland Sheepdogs. Mini-vans were very popular this summer for this purpose, so all my friends could find available to rent was a sedan. So, the decision was made to travel with two dogs. Being very responsible dog owners, they arranged for a pet sitter to come and care for the other four shelties who were left in their crates in the basement.
The pet sitter never showed up!
Evidently there was a misunderstanding over which weekend the sitter was to come. When my friends returned home after being away for five days and nights, they spotted the instruction sheet for the pet sitter still neatly tacked to the garage door — their first clue that something was wrong. After they entered the house, they found the second instruction sheet still on the kitchen counter, untouched dog food, and an overwhelming smell.
Luckily, these friends have a lot to be thankful for. While the dogs had been confined in their crates without any food or water for five days, they were all alive. Their 14-year-old Sheltie did need to be rushed to the emergency clinic; but after a stay of a few days, he was back to normal. They did incur a lot of expense, and the mess was monstrous to clean up, but things could have been much worse.
These people live in a neighborhood where the neighbors are fairly close by. Surely someone heard the dogs barking, or noticed the mail and newspapers piling up?? My friends wish someone had called the police or humane society. Neighbors seem to have noticed nothing.
There are bad apples found in every profession, and even the best businesses make mistakes if communication is unclear or misinterpreted. The bottom line when choosing a pet sitter is, do your homework and go with your gut feelings about the individual. A seasoned professional pet sitter is used to being grilled and held up to scrutiny during the get-acquainted visit. Those who are reputable expect you to check them out thoroughly, so please do so.
Leslie Eufrazio who runs Pet Services by Leslie in Franklinton, North Carolina, sent the following suggestions for dog owners looking for a pet sitter:
Pet sitting is a specialty service tailored to meet your pet's individual needs. If you have only a couple of pets, and are seeking to economize, a pet sitting service may not be your best option.We'd add a couple of other questions:
Then, use the telephone. I would call the day before you are leaving to confirm the pet sitter's schedule and make sure the emergency contacts are handy, and call again a couple of days into the trip, just to make sure everything is all right. I'd also call a relative or neighbor and ask him to drive by or walk over and check the house just to see if things look normal. On the few times that Rick and I have had to board our dogs at a boarding kennel, I always insist on calling the kennel mid-trip. Rick always accuses me of being paranoid, and says the kennel manager is sure I am insane, but I do it anyway.
This page is a part of the Dog Owner's Guide internet website and is copyright 2019 by Canis Major Publications. You may print or download this material for non-commercial personal or school educational use. All other rights reserved. If you, your organization or business would like to reprint our articles in a newsletter or distribute them free of charge as an educational handout please see our reprint policy.