A Pet Sitter’s Diary

October 2017

A Pet Sitter’s Diary

Magic the puppy

So peaceful.    And then  ….  the baby alarm sounded.  Moses the poodle pup (4 months old) had started to stir.  I dashed from the bed throwing my dressing gown around my shoulders as I ran into the kitchen and opened the cage door to extract the most adorable puppy ever born.    As I picked him up he started to pee, and continued to pee down my dressing gown until I reached the back door and then he stopped!

It was so difficult to put him down onto the cold garden slabs.  He was adorable and like a living teddy bear.  His pleasure at seeing me was so touching but his pleasure at suddenly seeing his partially sighted brother was indescribable.   Poor Magic was subjected to repeated attacks from this little ball of ginger fur, huge eyes and a never-ending licking tongue.

The days were filled with regular play times in order to tire out the puppy and lots of cuddles for Magic so he wouldn’t feel left out.   Moses slept regularly in his cage as he needed his sleep for his development.  Watching Moses was a constant job when he was out of the cage as any lack of movement in his legs usually meant he wanted “out” but didn’t quite get the message to wait. Making sure Magic was cuddled and soothed and placated was also a necessity.

Walks were an experience.  Magic being elderly was slow and meticulous in his smelling of every corner and paving slab.   Moses, on the other hand, spent most of the walk standing on his two back legs and waving his front paws trying to win the attention of all passing walkers.  Which he did.

This pet sit was such a pleasure.  During the week I noticed Moses’s improvement in toilet training and routine.

January 2017

Moses – partially blind poodle

Three months later and the gorgeous poodles are even more gorgeous. Magic is still partially blind but may be considered a suitable candidate for eye surgery very soon.  Moses is now seven months old, still as adorable and a lot cheekier.  Night time cage is no longer needed and both dogs like to lie on their own blanket, on the floor, at the base of my bed.   Their gentle snoring is actually comforting and soothing.

Walks were determined by Moses whose furry face, huge brown eyes and wet nose would suddenly appear over the edge of the bed.  Whilst putting on Moses’ harness and Magic’s lead, Moses would grab the lead and excitedly pull Magic towards to door to hurry things along. Magic put up with a great deal of bullying from Moses but the playfulness will decrease in time.   Or will it?

My meals were taken in the kitchen whilst the dogs were eating.  This worked very well as they didn’t hurry their food in order to follow me around the house.

Evenings were spent sitting on the sofa with a poodle lying across each foot…

Pet sitting is an adorable hobby and job.  Why on earth didn’t I do it sooner?

Maggie with another furry client

Maggie Lennie

Which pet is best for me?

So you have taken the decision to welcome a pet into your family for the first time, so what pet is best for you?  Little four-year-old Peter is desperate for that beautiful fluffy bunny he fell in love with in the pet store window, while five year old Mandy has been pleading for a little kitten just like her friend Abigail’s.  Decisions, decisions, what do you do?

Pet ownership is extremely rewarding and I have long been of the opinion, that animal welfare should be part of the school curriculum, but back to the question in hand.

Please do NOT buy or adopt on impulse and do your research before welcoming any animal into your home.

At Nina’s Nannies for Pets, we are keen advocates of #adoptdontshop and would always suggest visiting your local animal shelter.  Pet stores are biased to selling their animals and in my opinion, are not best placed to offer the advice required, such as dietary requirements, socialisation and the correct feeding.  In my capacity as a pet sitter, I have seen countless Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and small furries (with the exception of Syrian Hamsters), being sold separately. This is heartbreaking given that those mentioned are community animals and should never live alone.

Over the eighteen years I have been in business, I have shuddered at the inappropriate housing of some animals in our charge, such as tiny Rabbit hutches with little space for them to maneuver, Chickens kept in tiny pods which are completely inadequate, even for the pets for which they were intended and Ducks with just a bowl of water in a small garden.

Impulse buying

When buying or adopting any pet, this should be a thought out, will prepared process.  If in doubt ask a pet professional such as a vet, or visit the Blue Cross/RSPCA website, which are awash with information about all manner of pets.

Consider your home circumstances.

  • What size is your garden?
  • Do you work all day?
  • Finances-can you afford the expense of owning a pet?

Which pet

In order to decide the above, you should consider your reasons for wanting a pet.  If it is primarily for your children, I would look to the small furies such as rabbits, guinea pigs or another hutch/cage dwelling creature.  My particular favorite are fancy rats.  Of all the little furries, fancy rats are by far the most intelligent.  They are extremely affectionate little creatures and far happier if kept in pairs.

As with all pets, please consider adopting, but if you really want a pair of young rats ensure that you go to a reputable breeder.

If you are looking for a more energetic companion, then of course a dog would be ideal.  However, if you work all day and require a more independent addition to your household a cat would be a purrfect fit.  Again, there are dogs and cats of all ages and sizes in rescue centers up and down the country, but if it is a pure bred that you desire, PLEASE, ensure that you chose a reputable breeder and remember to:

  1. Never buy from a pet store or answer an advert in the local paper. These are often the window for puppy mills and should be avoided at all cost.
  2. Remember that the Kennel Club provides details of accredited breeders with registered puppies for sale and look on their website for contact details.
  3. A good breeder with be happy to welcome you to their home, where you can see mum interacting with their puppies.
  4. Ask the breeder for the KC registration certificate and worming information. A good breeder will ask their own questions and their premises will be clean and the dogs happy.

A good breeder will always do the following:

  • Health test their breeding stock
  • Take excellent care of their dogs
  • Provide information and follow up care for those people buying their puppies
  • Offer a lifetime of support to those who buy their puppies
  • A good and considerate breeder, will have no more than three litter from a female in her lifetime and steer clear of any breeder who has different breeds of dog.

If you are still unsure, contact The Kennel Club who will be only too pleased to help.

I would strongly advise that your children are totally committed to caring for pet, since forcing a child into pet ownership will not teach them responsibility and you should be prepared to do all the caring yourselves.

Cost

Animals should be for life and not just an impulse buy.

Apart from the initial cost of buying your pet, be it from a store, breeder or shelter, pets are a huge financial commitment.

They have dietary requirements, suitable housing, grooming, holiday care and most importantly, health care.

Insurance is vital to the well-being of your pet and some can live for many years.  The average lifespan of a cat is around 12 – 14 years and we have cared for some who have reached 20 and above!

Small furies

Rabbits, mice, gerbils and rabbits make wonderful pets, but they need to be handled regularly.  Rats especially, make wonderful companions for small children, since if socialized they are extremely interactive and affectionate, in fact  I liken them to little canines in a rodent form.

All furies require regular cleaning and for some children this can be monotonous once the novelty of pet ownership has worn off.  In this case, parents must be prepared to carry out these duties and where possible encourage children to continue with their routines.

Rabbits in particular can fall prey to the dreaded fly strike, a truly gruesome condition which occurs when flies lay their eggs on the rabbits rear ends.  It is therefore imperative that their living quarters are kept clean and they are checked daily, especially during the summer months.

Dogs/Cats

The above are the most popular choice of pets, with thousands of families welcoming them into our homes.

The majority of dogs are both loyal and affectionate, forming close bonds with their owners.

When choosing a dog, you should insure that he/she is the right breed, type for your family, which is why it is so important that you research your breed before making your decision.

Puppies and kittens need a lot of training and socialisation and may not be appropriate for young children.  Adopting a calm friendly adult dog/cat however, who has been temperament assessed, may be a far better companion for your family.  

As with all pet/child introductions, it is so important that you help your child to see the world through their eyes.  Children would react if they were poked or prodded unexpectedly, so you should explain that animals must be treated with respect and kindness.

So have you done your research?  If so, which pet did you get and did you adopt?

 

 

 

Check list for your pet sitter

So you have booked your holiday, engaged a pet sitter and are frantically completing your last minute tasks.
Your cases are packed and hidden, for fear of spooking kitty and Tom who are both looking suspiciously at the front door. Clutching your passport, frantically checking you remembered the foreign currency, and of course your mobile phone for which you have become emotionally attached!

One last look around, a quick ‘be good while I am away’, to the cats and your gone, but what about your pet sitter?
Last minute note

A last minute note is essential. While your pet sitter will have already taken extensive notes , it is vital to inform your pet sitter of any changes to your mobile telephone number, emergency contact number, travel arrangements, hotel details, departure and arrival times.

Bins

Nobody likes to arrive home to a full dustbin and since the black bin, the green bin, the glass bin (and any other bin that has been added to the fortnightly collection), are put out on alternate weeks, you must instruct your pet sitter, which colour bin will require emptying while you are away.
Behaviour changes

Each pet is an individual and as Kitty or Rover reach their twilight years, adjustments may need to be made.
Cats can be prolific hiders. So alert your pet sitter where to look. Should your sitter be worried if cats do not come out to feed, or in the case of house cats, will they be waiting at the door in the hope of a quick escape!
As they age, cats and dogs can often suffer a decline in memory loss and their senses, sight and hearing can deteriorate, so please remember to inform your pet sitter.

Favorite toys

Dogs especially, will usually have a favourite toy which they just cannot be without. Cats too can be extremely fond of a catnip mouse, or curling up on the client’s old jumper, so alert your pet sitter in order that they may use them to interact or accompanying dogs on their walks.

Medications and recurrent illness

Is Kitty or Rover on any medications and if so, how often should it be administered, and for what reason? Are there likely to be any side effects and if so what kind?
Has your vet been informed of your holiday dates and that a pet sitter will be caring for your pet during your absence? This is important information and although your sitter should have a veterinary release form, a note on your pets file with any special considerations. harry in bed

The majority of vets will want to liaise with the owner should major surgery be required, so it is imperative that they have your contact details, or an appointed family member just in case important decisions need to be made.
Above are just a few things to remember for your sitter, in order that your pets will remain happy and healthy while you are away.

Emergencies may arise from time to time, such as a burst pipe in the winter, or a pond which needs topping up in the extreme heat, but a good pet sitter will take all this in their stride and whether you opt for a live in sitter, or just a pop in service, you should feel confident that your pets will be well cared for and safe on your return.

Meeting a real life dragon!

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!

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.

Animal Cruelty

I honestly believe that introducing ‘animal welfare’ into the school curricula will undoubtedly see a decrease in animal cruelty. I would therefore please ask all visitors and clients to sign and share our petition to ‘Introduce Animal Welfare into the School Curriculum’.

Animals have encouraged the moral and personal development of children, bringing social benefits to their communities. Scientific research has also proved the health benefits as well as promoting a general feeling of wellbeing.

Animals also bring out the nurturing instinct of a child and help them to understand the responsibility of owning a pet.

Therapeutic and educational benefits have been identified, especially benefitting those children with special needs. Their calming affect can also help to reduce stress, improve concentration and help to boost self esteem.

There may not be a ‘quick fix’ for animal abuse, but educating our children how to better care for our animals is a start. I would therefore ask EVERY person who reads this article, to PLEASE sign our petition. We can force change and we CAN make a difference. It is easy to tut tut at the horrific images of animal abuse, or feel sickened by the puppy who has just been put to sleep having been thrown from a motorway bridge!

I am therefore asking people to put their pen where their mouth is and to force our government to make animal welfare education part of the school curricula. Together, we can and will make a difference.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38361

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.

New year

No sooner have we said goodbye to Christmas 2010,  the new year is upon us and and our office is once again a hive of activity.

December saw one of our pet  sitters suffer a bucked front wheel, in their attempt to reach their destination, largely due to the lack of treated roads in the Hemel Hempstead area, but  I feel sure that the horrendous weather conditions left every pet sitter throughout the country struggling and we are extremely pleased to welcome in the New Year!

Since we started our pet sitting service way back in 1998, we could never have anticipated its popularity and due to rapid expansion we are now able to offer our live in service throughout the South of the country. Would you believe, we even had an enquiry on Christmas Day!

Our recruitment drive for live in pet sitters is now in full swing, so if you would like the pleasure of a pet, without the responsibility, please visit our https://www.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/blog/recruitment.html page for full details.  This type of work is ideally suited to retired professionals, since the work is largely part time, but each application is judged on merit.

We are also putting the final touches to our franchise package and already interest has been immense.  So much so that I have three interviews scheduled and it has yet to be formally launched.  It certainly is exciting times for us and this year is set to be the busiest yet.

Goodbyes

This year, Nina’s Nannies for Pets have been deeply saddened by the loss of many old friends.  Clients and their pets who have used our pet visiting and live in pet sitting service for many years, have reported the death of their much loved cats, dogs and little furies.

In Hemel Hempstead we said goodbye to a little tortoiseshell cat called Titch.  In Potten End we recently mourned the loss of Penny, also a tortoiseshell aged 20, whom we had just finished a couple of weeks

Remembering old friends

previously.  Jazz, also 20 and another little cat from Eaton Bray, Daisy, a wonderful little Grey rescue cat from Berkhamsted, Phoebe from St Albans and more recently Mr Snuffles a wonderful old Lab from Cambridgeshire.  We really will miss them all dearly.

On a more pleasant note, Luika our two year old German Shepherd Dog has become a massive hit on facebook!  If you would like to follow his antics he can be found under Luika Cole, but more about him in blogs to come.

The volcanic eruptions continue to cause problems for our pet sitters, but we have managed to juggle sitters diaries in order to keep clients continuity and hope that the disruption to our time tables are not too long lasting.

Saying Goodbye To Old Friends

This year has seen the loss of many old friends, including Mr Speckles, a beautiful lop eared rabbit, Muffy, a 17 years old cat from Berkhamsted, Charley a newly adopted cat who was already 15 years old and Tigger, who was the eldest cat on our books at 21 years of age.

It is always a very sad occasion for us and our pet sitters, since attachments are formed in the first few days, and some are frequent sits when their families have property overseas, or indeed, if they are frequent flyers and require a pet sitting service throughout the year.

We have also bid a fond farewell to Janet and Ray Marshall, who have been with our company for the last five years. Sadly their last assignment will be in January next year, since they now have family commitments and will not have the availability to continue. They will both be sadly missed by both us, our other sitters and of course their regular clients. The door however, has been left open for their return, if circumstances change in the future.

Christmas is almost upon us and we have no further availability for our live in service until January 10, but we do still have spaces for our visiting pet sitter, pet sitting service in the following areas – Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Bovingdon, Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Northall, and Redbourn. I would strongly advise however, that you contact us at your earliest convenience should you require a visiting service for your cats or caged animals, since there are only so many hours in a day and we do endeavour to finish by 4 p.m. on Xmas Eve, Xmas Day and Boxing Day. There is also a preliminary visit required and since we only have the weekend in order to see new clients you will appreciate how little time there is left.

At Nina’s Nannies for Pets, we have had a wonderful year and seen expansion throughout the South and South East on the Country. We are now able to offer our pet sitting and pet sitter service in the whole of the London area and have added Norfolk to our port folio. We are still recruiting in these areas however, so anyone interested in becoming a live in pet sitter should visit

www.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/recruitment.html for further information.