Craig: Nicole, I’ve known you for 20 years, but not everybody has a friend who can come in and watch their pets when they are away. If you’re not familiar with pet sitters, where is a good place to look?
Nicole: A good place to start would be your vet. A lot of clinics have business relations with pet sitters. You can also look in your local pet magazines, like Pet Talk, or go to an online finder such as petsitusa.com. Pet sitting associations are great, too, such as NAPPS, PUPS, and Pet Sitters International.
Craig: What questions are good to ask a pet sitter before you hire them?
Nicole: Are they insured and bonded (don’t be afraid to ask for proof), how many people are on staff, and how do they train? (Running background checks should be mandatory.) What’s the procedure if the designated sitter has an emergency, and cannot make a visit? Who is the back-up sitter? How do the sitters handle emergencies, and are they able to take your pet to the vet safely? (Every pet sitter’s vehicle should have a dog seat belt harness and a crate that buckles into the back seat.)
Craig: So, if your pet sitter has a mini cooper and your have a St. Bernard you probably want to find someone else.
Nicole: Haha, right?! But that is important!
Craig: I know you have paperwork, and pet notes, tell us about that.
Nicole: A professional pet sitter will provide you with a client contract, pet info form, emergency and vet info forms, and location of items page. There should also be a system of communication, such as the little notes we leave at each visit. I have some clients who are on the Lucy Goo Face Book group and Twitter, so they get to see those posts. We can also send pictures of their pets via text or email.
Craig: Do you put a newspaper in there for proof of life, so that they know that this picture was taken on Thursday at 9 o’clock in the afternoon?
Nicole: Ha! No, we haven’t had to do that. Our clients trust us! The pictures are just because they miss them. It’s fun to get a picture or video of your pet when you’re away!
Craig: So, what is your perfect client?
Nicole: We love it when clients book us ahead of time, and fill out our forms with care and attention to detail. We like it when our clients remember to let us know when they’ve left and especially, once they’ve come back. We want to be sure everyone gets home safe to their pets!
Craig: As we are moving into the holiday season, is there anything different people should do before leaving their pets?
Nicole: It’s always helpful to pet proof the house before you leave. Glass ornaments on low branches, tinsel, candies and baked goods, are temptations! Take time to put things up and out of the way. Be sure all candles are blown out, or unplugged!
Craig: So, I know that you work in the Houston area, and this is a nationwide podcast, but if people want to talk to you and ask questions about pet sitting, where can people find you?
Nicole: You can find me at: www.lucygoopetsitting.com
Craig: Well, I know that we are going to be using you very shortly as we head to the Caribbean over the New Year. So, Nicole, always a pleasure to see you!
Nicole: Thanks, Craig!