Pet Sitting – A Day in the life of!

Living the dream! A day in the life of!

 

Snuggle time!

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.

Repeat Clients

Jacky & friends!

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

We LOVE To Care

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.

Nannies Expand for Dorset Dogs

A pet sitting business, formed after its founders recovered from serious illness, has expanded their workforce to cope with growing demand from their Dorset clients.

Nina Cole set up their enterprise in 1998 after recovering from a brain haemorrhage, which she suffered 6 months after her husband, had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Nina has worked with animals throughout the majority of her life, both as a volunteer fund raiser for animal charities and studying for her diploma in dog psychology, which was postponed indefinitely when her business, Nina’s Nannies for Pets took off.

Today business is flourishing, particularly in Dorset and the surrounding area, where she recently held interviews at The Sandbank Hotel in Poole.

The majority of Nina’s and Doug’s pet nannies are retired people or couples, who have undergone vigorous security checks before being accepted as part of their family team.

“We do occasionally take the odd prank call”.  Nina stated, recalling one potential client who requested care for his one eyed incontinent Anaconda!  “We always try to accommodate our client’s needs, even if it means sharing your bed with a St Bernard, or dealing with a burst pipe”, and we take these oddities in our stride”.

In 1997 the company were proud to reach the semi finals of the Barclays Small Business award, narrowing missing out on a place in the final and their certificate takes pride of place on the office wall.

Their website boasts glowing testimonials and their service is recommended by pet professionals and clients alike.  They are particularly keen to keep the ‘family’ feel to their business and this is reflected in their prices.  Nina states that it is important to offer an affordable service and clients such as the Cinnamon Trust are always given a discount.