Living the dream! A day in the life of!
As house and pet sitters working with Nina’s Nannies for Pets, we have been told we are living the dream, staying in numerous beautiful homes across the south of England. I suppose to a point that is true, well at least as far as the lovely homes we get to stay in, but people who make these comments, forget that pet sitting, can be extremely hard work.
My wife Jacky and I, come from a background of years of animal rescue and rehabilitation in Spain: often caring for large numbers of furry friends at any one time (up to 20 puppies at one time from birth, to rehoming them across Europe).
For this reason, we are known for taking on the larger and more intensive pet sits, ranging from cats and dogs to poultry, horses and occasionally sheep or cattle.
So what does an average day in a pet sitter’s life consist of, for one of this larger multiple animal sits? The answer is, that every pet sit is different. Needing to be mindful of the requirements not only for the animals but looking after the home you are in temporary control off. It doesn’t matter if the homeowner says” just “Make yourself at home”, you never do, just in case, if you know what I mean!
We have been on sits where the owner is so organised that there is a detailed set of instructions for every day and possible situation we could think of, ranging from meal times to bedtimes. Recommended walks for the family pet and yes, you can take a cat for a walk on a lead!
A working day
Perhaps an example of one day at one of our busier regular sits may show you that sitting is not the high life but can be intensive and still very rewarding.
Four dogs ranging in age from one-year-old terrier, with bundles of energy, 2 older terriers and a fourteen year Great Dane Labrador looking cross (no one is really sure), who likes to do his own thing on walks. One Burmese cat who brings you presents, some are even alive (fun chasing them around), several ducks and chickens, a new forest pony and not to mention a large herd of prize cattle that varies depending on the time of year.
Luckily on this old Mc Donald’s farm, there is a herdsman who works on site during the week and visits twice on Saturday and Sunday. Thank god for him as can you imagine having to walk 40 plus cows every day even if there are two of us. Throw into the mix that the farmhouse is over 400 years old and heated by up to three wood burning fires that in the winter have to be kept going 24/7 to keep the house warm for both us and the animals and you start to get the picture. Did I mention the cat is allowed anywhere in the house but not allowed upstairs just in case?
The dogs (all of them have different characters) sleep downstairs but are always there to greet you in the morning waiting for the first bathroom walk of the day, a good 20 minutes later it is food time all have different dietary requirements, by the way is the cat still in by the fire I ask, he needs to go out.
Whilst I watch the dogs feeding and checking out each other’s bowl if given the opportunity to have someone else’s food Jacky checks the fires are still lit and any ash removed.
Ten minutes later pony who we have spoken to earlier lets us know she wants to be moved to the grazing field, that done the very vocal ducks let us know they want to be let loose, in a blur of feathers as we open the pen whilst ensuring the chickens stay put. I swear the ducks are laughing at chickens stuck in the pen as they make their escape into the garden for the day.
That done its back indoors for a well-deserved cup of tea and shower before taking the dogs out again. We are lucky that with many fields to walk them we do not have any traffic or roads to contend with only the odd curious cow.
On our return, the herdsman is in attendance and we check with him that all is well. By now the animals have been fed and are now resting and happy and we can have breakfast and still only 10 am. Check the fires are still okay before ensuring the house is still tidy and other cleaning chores such as our washing.
Now nearly midday the postman has been which woke the dogs, so they need to go out again after the excitement of his visit. The dogs love the cleaner who comes twice a week, so mayhem ensures on her arrival until she has spoken and fussed them before getting on with her work. Mayhem again when she leaves. The dogs then need to have a short walk before we can go out to run our errands. We are allowed a maximum of 3 hours away from the sit but we do not like to be away from out charges for very long as we never know if they are behaving.
We return to the welcoming chorus of dog barks and excitement, anyone would think we have been gone for all day. After the excitement settles down all will need a toilet break again after first making sure the house and the fires are still lit and in order.
As it is winter and just starting to get dark its round-up time for the ducks, checking the chickens are fed and the water trough is not frozen. Collect any eggs; pick up a carrot for the pony before returning her across the farmyard to her stable. Say goodbye to the herdsman having ensured everything is in order with the cattle. Although there is a herdsman in attendance during the day once he leaves the safety and security of the cattle and the farm now becomes our total responsibility. Luckily, I am happy to take on this responsibility.
Now dark but not yet 5 pm and the dogs require their evening meal again, under supervision. The fires are checked again and the woodpile supply for them has to be replenished.
That sorted we can get our evening meal before taking out the dogs once again. All the dogs are very eager to be taken out so often as being on a farm it is both unsafe and unwise just to let them out on their own for many reasons. About 8 pm we can all sit down to watch a little TV, joined of course by three of the four dogs as the big old boy has his own resting place. The only disagreement between the dogs is who can get on whose lap for fuss. The third dog usually the youngest purchases himself on the back of the settee usually also on a human shoulder whichever one is free.
This makes the daily animal and human love in on the settee all worthwhile; we get our animal fix and is also a testament to the care we always endeavour to give having the animals except us so well that they are happy to snuggle up with us.
Bedtime arrives with a final walk by torchlight for the dogs; ensure the cat is also in. Stoke up the fires for the night, a security check of the house, making sure the dogs are safe and settled down and then we can retire: another day is done and another to follow.
Both Jacky and I started pet and house sitting not only for our animal fix, having returned from Spain, but also because we believe in what Nina’s Nannies for Pets are trying to do. We have now just about completed 2 years as sitters and love it. We have a lot of repeat clients who are happy to put their pets and homes in our charge. All of our clients are lovely to work with and there is not a single pet we do not enjoy looking after.
Do we have our favourite houses and pets to look after? The answer is we love all our charges; all are different and keep us on our toes.
As to a favourite client, the answer is the same and that would be telling anyway!
For information about pet/dog/home sitting as a profession, Become a pet sitter
Live – in Pet Sitters required to join our expanding Pet Sitting team.
Are you an animal lover and looking to work during retirement? Have you ever wanted to work with animals? Are you a non smoker with your own transport? If you answered yes to all of those questions, we would love to hear from you.
Nina’s Nannies for Pets
Nina’s Nannies for Pets was established in 1998 to provide a complete pet care service, which is tailored to suit our clients requirements. It is therefore important that new recruits are happy to go that extra mile for our clients and fit into our family team of Pet Sitters.
2015, saw us introduce Skype calls to allow clients to look in on their pets while their were away. This and regular updates, are very much appreciated, hence our repeat bookings and constant recommendations.
For this reason our ‘personal service’ must be maintained. All applicants therefore, must be non smokers, preferably with their own transport, have at least fifteen years experience of caring for domestic pets, be active, in order to maintain dogs exercise regimes and have good communication skills.
You should be able to cope in an emergency, should a pet require veterinary treatment while their owners are away, or deal with household emergencies when and if they arise.
This type of work is ideally suited to retired people/couples who enjoy the pleasure of a pet, without the expense or responsibility and it does not take long for a new pet sitter to build a good client base, which will see you return to the same households throughout the year and when required. We also offer good rates of pay for the right people.
Good Rates Of Pay
There are good rates of pay for the right people/couples and don’t forget the additional savings you will make on utility bills!
You are also reimbursed for all mileage costs, the preliminary visit and when you start and end the assignment and any extra expenses incurred while clients are away.
We are particularly keen to find Live in Pet Sitters in the London, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Dorset area, so please visit our ‘Become a Pet Sitter’ page for full details.
Christmas may be a wonderful time for us, but there are hidden dangers around every corner for our pets.
In this video I offer some useful tips for keeping your pets safe over the festive period.
This is my letter to the politicians on why I will not be voting on May 7th.
Dear Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband & Mr Clegg,
I am the faceless voter. I am not a celebrity, a sportswomen, or royalty. I attended secondary school (probably the worst in the country) and left at the age of fifteen with no qualifications, just a love and passion for animals, which led me to where I am now, a pet sitter of seventeen years.
Perhaps however, since you are all desperate for votes, I now matter, for it could be my vote that puts one of you in Downing Street on Thursday 7th May.
Yes, I care about the Health service. Having my own business I worry about the future for small companies. I am also mindful about all those young people who cannot find work and for Mrs Jones down the road who could not afford to pay for heating last winter, but I also care about the welfare of our animals.
They do not have a vote. Every day up and down the country, kittens and puppies suffer the horrors of puppy farms or concentration camps as I like to call them. They suffer a life of neglect, abuse and torture and when they have outlived their usefulness they are left to die a slow and painful death. The lucky ones will be killed or abandoned.
Then there is Mr Smith, a 75 year old pensioner who’s only companion is little Rover. They eat, sleep and exercise together and Rover is often the reason that Mr Smith gets up each morning. The companionship and the attachment they feel towards each other is fundamental to Mr Smith’s well-being and when Rover is suddenly stolen the impact is devasting.
There are literally thousands of dogs stolen each year and many are taken by organised gangs and being sold on for breeding, dog bait in the fighting fraternity, or trafficked through the internet. Did you know that most dog thefts are unrecorded, since officers investigate only if there is evidence of a crime!
What of the Breed specific legislation, which will never work and is entirely unjust.
This law was rushed through parliament in response to media and public pressure following a speight of high profile dog attacks! It is legislation which will never work, is ill informed and has not prevented attacks on the general public.
Numerous family dogs have been murdered as a result of this act. Gentle, loving and affectionate creatures who are completely innocent of any crime, taken off the street as a suspected banned breed and leaving devastated owners behind.
And now to you Mr Cameron. As I understand it, you have been quoted as ‘having the countryside in your blood’ and that it is your firm belief that everyone should have the power to hunt.
Well Mr Cameron, I live in a small country village, surrounded by farmland. I too have the countryside in my blood and like 80% of voters in the U.K. I do NOT want to see this barbaric sport returned.
It is an ASSAULT on rural life. Pregnant livestock can abort their young because of the distress caused by hounds, they cause misery to wildlife, not to mention the damage hunts cause to Farmers lands!
I would also question the integrity of any man who would consider hunting with hounds to be a part of our national heritage. Well let me tell you Mr Cameron, every single part of a hunt is cruel. The chase, the dig out and the kill. If the fox is lucky enough to escape underground, he is forced to fight the hounds before being pulled out and if very lucky, shot!
Yes, I am the faceless voter, but I will always care, for animals should never be forgotten. They are the eyes for the blind, ears for the deaf and help for the disabled. They defend our troops, detect mines and fight crime. They are part of our society and as such they deserve to be represented.
In the U.K. we are purported to be a nation of animal lovers and accordingly their welfare should be an issue of political concern and that Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband is why I remain the faceless voter.
I would like to thank Theo and his wonderful team, for providing an inspirational and informative day at the SBS winners event on Friday 30 January.
It was my husband and business partner Doug Cole’s, first time attending a business event, and boy it did not disappoint.
Doug was diagnosed with MS at the age of 40 and I suffered a brain haemorrhage some six months later, which is why we decided to follow our dream of working with animals. Our business, NINA’S NANNIES FOR PETS was founded soon after.
It was always our dream to work with animals, but I am the extrovert, who works front of house and Doug is the steady hand that guides the ship, while still actively involved with the day to day dog walking and visits. No mean feat with Multiple Sclerosis!
She has never felt a loving hand,
Nor grass beneath her feet
She lives alone and has never known,
A life that was complete.
She cowers at the man who passes by,
She’s hungry tired & cold,
Her life is brief and spent in grief,
For the puppies she has never known.
She has never lazed by a comfy fire,
Nor felt a summer breeze,
Or seen the sun as her days began,
Nor rummaged through the autumn leaves.
She has never had a special friend,
Or seen an owners loving smile,
It is today her pups are taken away,
She only nursed them for a while.
For her life is spent producing litters,
And is therefore very brief
He doesn’t care, to see her lying there,
He doesn’t feel her grief.
She has no choice but to endure a life,
Of solitude, filth & pain,
Even her babies die, as he passes by,
She doesn’t even have a name.
This is the plight of a puppy farmed dog,
Hidden from society,
Where cruelty reigns until the end of their days,
But it doesn’t have to be.
Next time that you are looking for puppy,
Please remember this poem,
Please try and adopt, but if you really want to shop,
Remember to ask ‘Where is mum’
By Nina Cole – Inspired by our ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’, campaign
2014 has been an extremely busy year and we have welcomed new Pet Sitters from the Dorset, Bedfordshire, Bristol, Sussex, Surrey & Essex areas. We are still recruiting for live in pet sitters, so anyone who may be interested please visit our Become a Petsitter page.
Christmas is almost upon us! Yes, is currently only ten weeks away and we have decided to have Christmas Day afternoon with our family, so we will be informing our visiting clients this week to ensure that they book early this year. For all new enquiries, PLEASE be aware that this year we will be unable to take last minute bookings! Our Visiting page is awash with information, so when Aunty Betty has decided to spend the festive period in the Maldives and Nigel from next door is going to relatives 90 miles away, remember your cats, bunnies and little furries and PLEASE book early.
This year has been very exciting for us. As huge supporters of Pupaid, we were delighted to see the petition we had been promoting surpass 100,000 signatures and forcing a debate in Parliament last week. So congratulations to Marc Abraham for bringing this to the public’s attention and forcing the Government to listen.
In our seventeen years working in the pet care industry, we have seen too many puppies who have been unwittingly purchased from Puppy Farms and back yard breeders. The lucky ones have survived, but can carry hereditary and acquired diseases, often as a result of inbreeding. The parents of these poor pups live in the most unim,aginable cruelty, deprived of human contact and living in the most squalid of conditions and are often killed when they are no longer able to breed!
Breeding MUST be regulated and these barbaric puppy/kitten concentration camps, banned, so PLEASE stop buy responsibly, or better still adopt.
As part of our ’Adopt Don’t Shop’ campaign, we offer 5% discounts. We ask only for a copy of your pets adoption certificate and our 5% discount will be implemented to our visiting and agency fee.
This year also saw us win the Theo Paphitis small business award and we cannot wait to meet the man himself. Our badge is proudly displayed on our home page, with our certificate of registration and our insurance badge. Hence our motto, at Nina’s Nannies for Pets, WE LOVE TO CARE.
On Sunday 29 June, I tweeted Theo about our pet sitting business during ‘Small Business Sunday’, an initiative set up by Theo that runs weekly.
To my utter delight, Theo re-tweeted my message to his 260,000 followers and as a result we are now profiled on a new website www.theopaphitissbs.com, that is exclusive to Small Business Sunday winners!
I really hope that this recognition will help to promote animal welfare and encourage more people to adopt their pets, rather than buy. This is also why we now offer discounts to people who have re-homed their pets, along with senior citizens who would rather keep their pets at home while they are on holiday .
It is wonderful to have support from Theo and Doug (my business partner), and I are ‘over the moon’, to be recognised for our hard work and to help spread the word about what we do.
We cannot wait to meet Theo personally to collect our Small Business Award and a may even cheekily ask him to give his backing to Pupaid, a petition started by Marc Abraham to help ban the sale of young puppies and kittens unless their mother are present.
Tim’s story is a wonderful example of why microchipping your pet is so important.
We stumbled upon Tim, late last year when a client had warned us that she had been feeding a stray cat. She already had three cats of her own and despite her best efforts was unable to integrate the stray, so she asked if we could continue feeding the stray in her absence, which we did without charge.Tim living rough!
Despite leafleting her area in an attempt to discover Tim’s owners, no one had come forward, so on the first day of our client’s holiday, I decided to take Tim to Barton Lodge Veterinary centre in Hemel Hempstead, in the hope that the stray had been micro chipped and his owners could be traced.
I sat in the waiting room full of trepidation and when Lorna, one of the veterinary nurses returned beaming, I knew that a microchip had been found.
Following a nervous wait the owner had been traced, who was dumbfounded to discover after a three year absence, their beloved cat had been traced and a reunion was planned that evening.
This is when we discovered that the stray was called Tim, who had disappeared from their London address during the winter months. Despite weeks of searching, they abandoned hope of ever seeing Tim again and during the following year, they moved to Stevenage in Hertfordshire. So how Tim was discovered in Hemel Hempstead remains a mystery!
Without a microchip, it would have been highly unlikely that he would ever have been reunited with his owners. Many people find stray cats and do not always attempt to find the owner. Some are taken in by the people who fin them, while others are surrendered to a shelter. Owners that have their pets microchipped are far more likely to be reunited with their pets should they get lost.
Thankfully Tim enjoyed a happy ending and I was lucky enough to meet his owners, who were absolutely delighted to have him home again.One last hug before saying goodbye!
If a cat collar is too loose, a cat can get its paw underneath it and a paw caught in a cat collar can easily lead to serious injuries if not released quickly. I have seen cats suffer deep wounds and if not treated quickly can lead to surgery and a long convalescence period. Microchips however, are a permanent way of identifying your pets and they link back to the owner once it has been registered.
It is important however, to ensure that your details are kept up to date. When Tim’s owners moved from London to Stevenage, they had the foresight to update their address and contact numbers and I am reliably informed that he is back home and ruling the roost once more!