Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Critter Sitter for Hire

by Annette Dashofy

I’m in the middle of my final week teaching at the yoga studio. My class tonight is going to be a tough one. I’m calling it Weepy Wednesday. Tomorrow won’t be much better.

Since regular paychecks are going to be a thing of the past, I’ve already started accepting odd jobs. For the next two weeks, I’m kitty sitting.

I’ve known these three fur balls since they were kittens. And since there are usually two rowdy little girls in the house, I think the cats are looking at the experience of being home alone as their own vacation. I show up every other day and fill their food and water bowls, clean the litter boxes, and scratch their itches.

This is Cocoa and Tigger.

And this is Chili.

Chili, again.

They love me.

I’ve done kitty sitting for friends and family for years. Sometimes, I think I should start a business. And since I don’t just do cats, I think I should call it “Critter Sitters.”

Friends of mine have a small farm a couple of miles from here and I have a nice little barter exchange with them. When they go away, I take care of their cats, dogs, horses, cows, chickens, and fish. When I go away, Sara checks in on my kitty, Skye. And my mom. You may think I get the better end of that deal, but I’m thrilled with it. Skye is picky about people, but she adores Sara. And, seriously, how many people can you trust with your mom?

I have other important qualifications. I can give shots. I can administer fluids subcutaneously should your cat be in renal failure. I have experience with oral meds, too. Dogs are easy. Stick a pill in some burger or one of those pill pocket things and they wolf it down. Cats require some finesse.

Actually, quite a bit of finesse.

The weirdest critter sitter job I ever had was on a nearby farm that raises miniature horses. While the owners were out of town, I fed, watered, turned out, cleaned stalls, and brought in about 20 of the little guys. But that wasn’t the weird part. Theirs is a breeding facility and I was also required to take one of the studs out to “tease” a mare. For the city folks amongst you that basically means finding out if the mare is interested in a hot date.

The stud is ALWAYS interested. Surprise, surprise.

What do you think? Should I print up business cards?

Or maybe I’ll just finish the short story I began a while back that involves a pet sitter finding a dead body.


Tory said...

Sounds like a business to me! But the businesswoman in me wants to remind you that you should charge extra for special services (e.g. giving shots or "teasing" mares.)

I also think it could lead to some GREAT stories to add to your writing. Maybe even an article or two? Or a listserve or blog?

Perhaps you could become the American equivalent of _All Creatures Great and Small_.

My word verification is "pyrist."
Does that mean I start fires?

Joyce said...

I agree with Tory.

If you didn't live so darn far from me, I'd enlist you to take care Layla when we go away. You're the only visitor she comes out of hiding to see! Although you could charge for mileage...

Annette said...

Tory, yes, I definitely see the potential for some great stories. And I agree...extra charge for certain services. Pilling cats would require a bandage fee for all the scratches and bite marks received in the effort. However, I'm pretty good at it...

Joyce, Layla just knows a sucker for a pretty face when she sees one.

Gina said...

Annette -

I need someone to watch my cats while I'm at the Pennwriters conference . . .

Actually, my ex-husband checks on my cats for me when I'm out of town. They like him, but they will not let him give them pills.

My magic word is "pormo." Short for "pormography?"

Jennie Bentley said...

Go to, get yourself some free business cards, hand them out when the occasion demands, and see what happens. You don't have to consider it a 'business,' per se... just picking up some extra income from time to time. Some of the most successful small business have started that way. And extra income is always nice, especially these days.

My word verification is "tring." Not sure what, if anything, it means. Do I remember rightly that Carola Dunn has a character named Sergeant Tring in her Daisy Dalrymple series?

Annette said...

I love these weird word verifications.

Gina, I'm not available for those dates. Heh.

Jennie, Vistaprint IS a cool site. I need to get some new writers cards printed and that's where I'm going. I've been doing them on my computer for years. Time to go pro.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! Make cards, find out about Craig's list - I'll bet lots of people will be looking to save boarding fees this summer when they vacation without their pets.

Kathy Sweeney

Jennie Bentley said...

Can't beat Vistaprint's prices. The quality is excellent, too. (And no, they're not giving me a kick-back for this. I just like them a lot.)

Joyce said...

My cards are from Vistaprint, too. I agree you can't beat the price.

Sandy Cody said...

Definitely, get some cards. You offer more than the usual service - one I'm sure a lot of people would be delighted to know about. Or you may want to make your own. I did - just bought some of the blanks from Staples and played around with them until I got a design I liked. They come in a variety of designs and are set up with 10 cards on each page like labels. You can print a page at time and change them whenever you feel like it. Love the pictures.

lisa curry said...

Annette, I wish you lived closer to me! The dogs go to Grandma's, but I always get the kids' teenage babysitter to catsit for me when we go on vacation. The first time she did it for us, I forgot to say, "Rinse out the cat food cans and put them in the recycling bin outside." (I guess I thought it would be obvious???) She put them, unrinsed, in the kitchen trash can. It was August, and we didn't have the AC on while we were gone. I have never smelled anything so awful in my life. When we walked in the back door, I was sure one of the cats must have died and its corpse was decomposing under the couch. So next time I added the instruction about rinsing the cans and putting them in the recycling bin.

My word verification word is pallr. As in, my face had a greenish pallr when I smelled that rotten cat food. :-)

canada mystery author said...

Yes I agree with Tory.I just like them a lot.
Keep up posting good work. :)

Annette said...

Ugh, Lisa! I know that smell. I think a decomposing cat wouldn't stink as bad as rotting cat food.

Well, I survived Weepy Wednesday at the yoga studio. Made it all the way through class before getting teary. Now if I can just maintain my composure through two more classes tomorrow...

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I actually left a comment early in the morning, but when I hit "publish" I got an error message. Oh, and it was a witty comment.

Regarding a mystery with a pet sitter, I envisioned a very dark opening scene where the sitter is looking for a pet they are responsible for only to find it with a bloody snout, chewing on a human leg. No body, just a leg.

Annette said...

Will, I think Blogger may be having some issues because the same thing happened to me Monday when I tried to leave a comment on YOUR post.

And I LIKE that opening. Hmmm...

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