Finding the Right Dogsitter is Critical for Retired Service Dog

January 18, 2011 · Posted in Aging Dogs, Doggie Healthcare 
Morgan

One of the beauties of having a service dog is that your dog gets to go everywhere with you. That all changed when my service dog, Morgan, had to be retired. All of a sudden, I had to travel for work with my new service dog, Whistle, and Morgan was stuck at home with the cats.

Morgan has several health issues and he needs someone who is available to let him out regularly for toileting. He also has medical issues crop up unexpectedly, so he needs someone to keep an eye on him and to monitor his wellness.

As a result, I knew I had to find the right dogsitter to stay with him whenever we are traveling. As you probably know, this is no easy task. For years, we have had the same dogsitter, someone who is practically a member of our family. However, this year her other job caring for a woman who is elderly has become more intensive and she is no longer able to provide the level of dogsitting services that Morgan requires due to her commitment to this woman and her family.

So, I embarked on a quest to find another dog and housesitter that could provide Morgan with the care and companionship that he needed and deserved. I began by talking with friends who used dogsitters to seek referrals. I also checked the bulletin board at my vet’s office for business cards and people looking for dogsitting gigs.

I received several names and began contacting these individuals. First, I interviewed them on the telephone and discussed their experience and credentials. Next, I conducted a second interview with the top three candidates. I invited them into our home for a personal interview and to meet Morgan.

Each time we go on a trip, I leave explicit written instructions regarding Morgan’s daily routine, feeding, and medications. I reviewed this list with each candidate and discussed Morgan’s particular needs.

I also asked a variety of questions including:

  • Do they have a reliable vehicle that they could use to take Morgan to the vet if necessary?
  • Would they be spending each night in our home to care for Morgan?
  • Would they be able to take him for a short walk each day?
  • Could they understand his feeding and medication instructions? And, were they able to prepare his meals and maintain his daily routine?
  • How had they handled emergency situations in the past? What types of situations had they responded to with other clients?
  • Were they aware of our local Emergency Vet?
  • Would they be dogsitting for any other clients while we were away?
  • Did they have any animals of their own? And, if so, who was caring for them while they were dogsitting for Morgan?

These were just some of the questions that I discussed with each candidate.

The candidate that I eventually selected was very engaged. She actually had me complete an application and she interviewed me as intensely as I was interviewing her. I really appreciated her organization and seriousness regarding her dogsitting duties. Based on her questions, it was clear that she was experienced and passionate about the animals that were left in her care. She came to the interview on time and she was dressed professionally. She also questioned me about my vet, about taking Morgan out of our home for walks and emergency vet appointments, her expectations for payment, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised by her level of competence. When it came time for us to leave Morgan, I felt confident that she was up to the task and that he would be in good hands while we were away. I am happy to report that we are having a wonderful relationship with our new dogsitter and Morgan adores her.

On our last trip, she arrived as we were loading my van to leave for the airport. We said our good-byes and were off. I forgot something and we came back home for a brief moment. As I entered our family room, there she was, sitting on the couch with her laptop computer with Morgan nestled by her side. He appeared to be in utter bliss.

I was so overjoyed to see how much he truly enjoyed being with her and how comfortable the two appeared together. For me, having the right dogsitter has been critical to curb the guilt I feel each time I leave Morgan at home while Whistle and I go on another trip.

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