Hiring a Good Pet Sitter

Hiring a Good Pet Sitter

We are at the end of October, so I thought this would be a good time to start thinking about the upcoming holidays.

Many people travel for the holidays and some people are not able take their pets.

Pets are important to us.

We want them to be in safe hands when we travel and can’t take them with us.

I was extremely fortunate to have one of the veterinary technicians, Ginger, from my vet’s office, take care of my three, older cats when I traveled.

She came three times a day to check on my cats and feed them.

She knew what to do in case of emergency.

She knew how to give meds.

She would send me updated pictures of my three cats daily, so I never had to worry how they were doing.

It was the perfect setup.

My professional background was in Human Resources.

Managers, along with the Human Resources Department, used Interviews as a tool to find out if an individual was a good fit for our vacancies.

And we always checked references.

This same diligence should be used when hiring a pet sitter.

The definition of pet sitting is “the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away.”

The perfect pet sitter is very useful, important, and valuable.

Our pets show us unconditional love and are always there when we need them.

Therefore, why would we leave our “best friend” with just anyone?

Oddly enough, some people have no special kinship or liking for animals, yet they call themselves pet sitters.

They might mistreat your pet or not show up at all when things get rough.

I was given that information from a professional pet sitter who frequents my neighborhood.

A good pet sitter will try to give the same love and companionship you do to your pet.

Interviewing a pet sitter may seem like over-kill, but it’s not.

Professional pet sitters are more than just pet lovers; they possess a wide range of skill sets.

A professional sitter can be a resource to you and your pet, as well as provide knowledge to help better care for your pet.

It always helps to know the right questions to ask when you are looking for a pet sitter (or an employee).

Start this process early, not a day or two before you leave.

Start slowly.

When you’re ready to interview a pet sitter, the following questions can get you started.

• Ask the pet sitter if they are insured and bonded for proper protection. Make sure they have this protection and provide you with proof of insurance. There is some risk to pet sitting. A sitter may not take their job seriously if they have no insurance.

• Ask for multiple references. The pet sitter should not hesitate to provide them. And be sure you call the references! You might check their social media and any other reviews online. You can also ask permission to run a background check. If your research finds that the pet sitter is unreachable or doesn’t show, you should continue your search.

• Ask what training or animal experience they have. How long have they been in the pet sitting business? Can they read a pet’s body language? Do they know the signs of an emergency? Pet sitters should be able to provide you with an emergency plan when asked what they would do if your pet got into trouble. You should also have emergency numbers for them.

• You might ask what services will be provided. The pet sitter should give you an agreement that describes services and fees, e.g., grooming, playtime, dog walking. You might want to ask for more details on dog walking. Approximately how long will the walk last? Leashes, harnesses, and collars should also be discussed.

• If you have a pet with special needs, ask the sitter if they can meet these needs. Let the sitter know up front what the pet’s unique needs are.

• Ask if they use contracts, and if so, you would like to see it. If a pet sitter doesn’t use contracts, they may not be a professional.

• Ask if the sitter belongs to any pet sitter associations, e.g., Pet Sitters International (PSI) or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). If they do, this indicates their commitment to continued pet care education and professional services. Ask if they have taken and passed the Certified Professional Pet Sitter Exam (CPPS). This exam is designed to assess the knowledge and skills required to be a professional pet sitter.

• Check and see if they have a working relationship with dog trainers or a veterinarian. If so, you might want to check these professionals out to see if you approve in case their services are needed.

• Ask what types of animals the pet sitter has worked with before. You might want to know if the tiny person you’re interviewing can handle your Great Dane.

• Ask the pet sitter how they would manage a situation where the pet behaves aggressively or snaps at them. If this is the pet’s typical behavior, the pet sitter might not want the job and it may be a deal breaker for the sitter. The sitter has the right to know.

• Make sure you know what specific duties the pet sitter will fulfill and how much it will cost.

Interview questions can only tell you so much about a person.

Your pet can help you out on this one, and they can be the best judge of the pet sitter’s character and temperament.

One of the biggest tests as to whether you have a great pet sitter is through a “meet and greet” with the sitter and your pet in advance of your absence.

If the sitter doesn’t agree to a meet and greet, they may not the sitter for you.

Look for another candidate.

If they do agree, watch the sitter’s behavior at the meet and greet.

Also observe your pet’s reaction.

Animals can frequently sense things humans don’t.

If it’s love at first sight (or meeting), you are on the right track.

The professional pet sitter’s goal is to develop a strong relationship with your pet.

The pet may be unsure of what is happening during the first visits with the sitter.

Try leaving your pet with the pet sitter for a brief errand.

You can also ask the pet sitter to walk your dog while you’re at work.

You can move on to a longer pet sitting adventures if all goes well.

I had my pet sitter come feed my cats, clean the litterbox, and sit for a while with the cats before I ever went on a trip.

I paid her (of course) for this, but my goal was to get the cats used to a stranger coming to the house to feed them.

I visited my mom two days of each month for four years and never worried about my cats for one minute because I did my homework and knew they were in good hands.

Another option for pet sitting is an overnight, 12-hour stay.

Many pet sitters bring their own food, drink, and linens.

If you use this option, it is best to provide the pet sitter with more information about your pet’s overnight habits.

Most overnight stays are used for dogs.

I haven’t tried it yet, but my current cat would probably appreciate human companionship.

I adopted my shelter cat, Jasmine, during the 2020 pandemic and we have been constant companions ever since.

Jasmine is used to, and enjoys, company in the evenings.

I think overnights would be a good fit for her.

Some pets need to be monitored more closely due to health issues.

Some pets are young and high-spirited and need more exercise.

An overnight sitter would be appropriate for both.

The bottom line is this: professional pet sitters will provide you with more peace of mind while you’re gone.

I could rest easy and enjoy trips to see my mom because I had an experienced, trained, and responsible person making sure my pets were getting the best care possible while I was away.

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The Story of Millie and Pumpkin

The Story of Millie and Pumpkin

by Contributing Writer, Laura Tarquinio

As always, I did not choose my shelter pets, they chose me.

It had been a year since my big, funny, boy, George had passed, and I needed to be rescued.

Caring Fields Felines has a good reputation as a no-kill facility.

It was a good choice to start my search.

Older, calmer, cats are a good fit for me and I feel they should live their golden years on a comfy couch with lots of love.

One of the first residents I met was an 11-year-old long haired, ginger, female, named Citrus.

We sat on the floor together getting to know each other and when I got up to meet some of the other residents, she followed me.

I wandered the grounds meeting other residents.

One of which was Eva.

Eva was a 6-year-old tuxedo with a beautiful thick coat.

She was very vocal and pressed her head into my hand for hard pets and chin scratches.

As I was talking to the volunteer who was giving me the tour, I told her I was considering adopting two cats, but hadn’t decided yet.

She told me about their Senior Foster Program.

It is a way to give a cat a home, but not have to worry about medical bills.

It is beneficial to everyone.

CFF takes care of the medical needs, you get a loving companion, the cat gets a loving home, and it makes room for CFF to take in another needy cat.

That day I left CFF without a pet.

I wanted to make sure I was ready and the next week I went back to get my new friends.

We have been a family for just over a year now.

Unfortunately, the two of them don’t get along so well, but they are happy in their own areas of the house.

Hopefully, I will be able to get them to tolerate each other in the future.

Citrus aka Pumpkin – Her favorite napping place is in the sun, snuggled between the potted plants.


Her favorite activity is joining mom on work video meetings.

Her favorite food is anything from a can.

Eva aka Millie – Her favorite napping place changes from day to day.



Variety is the spice of life!

Her favorite activity is zoomies at 3 AM.

Her favorite toy is the curly toy while in the tunnel.

Every day they shower me with love and make me laugh.

I’m thrilled they rescued me!

~ Laura

About Laura Tarquinio
Laura TarquinioLaura is an artist on the Treasure Coast of Florida. She teaches watercolor painting and commissions watercolor pet portraits. Cats are her best friends, but she loves all animals. Her love of animals comes from her father’s side of the family. Her grandfather’s dog was well known throughout the town and was frequently sent “Shopping” to bring home groceries. When Laura is not painting, she is working her desk job with Pumpkin right by her side.

For more about Laura and her art:
Facebook: Laura Tarquinio Artist
Email: [email protected]

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Read about Caring Fields Felines HERE.
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YODA: The Story Of A Cat And His Kittens – Picture Book Review

YODA: The Story Of A Cat And His Kittens – Picture Book Review

Today’s children’s picture book review is another true story about animal rescue as written by author Beth Stern.

In previous blog posts, I have discussed the importance of considering the adoption of a shelter pet with special needs.

Their road to adoption is longer than those animals who do not have challenges.

Beth Stern dedicates this book to everyone who has adopted special needs animals.

Beth’s passion in life is her love of animals and you can tell this by the way the story of Yoda is presented.

Beth lives with her husband Howard and their six rescue cats.

She is a proud foster parent and a spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization.

She is an incredible philanthropist.

Yoda is a very special cat who was rescued by the Sterns.

He was a white Persian kitten who had dreams of being a supercat.

Because his owner didn’t want him anymore, Yoda was taken to an animal shelter.

Other cats at the shelter were adopted and Yoda watched them leave to go to their new homes.

He thought that no one would ever choose him.

He looked terrible.

His fur was so bad when he got to the shelter, he had to be shaved.

He never felt like eating so he became very skinny.

Yoda was sad.

One day, a nice lady named Beth visited the shelter and she chose Yoda.

But why?

He figured it must be a mistake.

He was tired and he fell asleep.

When Yoda woke up, he thought he was still dreaming.

He wasn’t at the shelter anymore, he was in an incredible new home, but something was missing.

Beth was concerned about him and took him to the doctor who said he had a sad heart.

Back at his new home, Yoda was still feeling a bit gloomy.

Suddenly, loud, unusual sounds came from the down the hallway.

He wondered what the sounds were.

Maybe he was adopted by Beth to fight off the monsters that were in the room.

Yoda went into the room.

Nope, no monsters were in the room.

It was something worse.

A lot worse.

What could be worse than monsters?

Was it safer back at the shelter?

Did Beth need Yoda as backup?

Did Yoda ever become a supercat?

And what about Yoda’s sad heart?


About the Book

Title: YODA: The Story Of A Cat And His Kittens
Author: Beth Stern
Illustrator: Devin Crane
Publisher: Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN-10: 1481444077
ISBN-13: ‎978-1481444071
Available at amazon.com.

YODA: The Story Of A Cat And His Kittens is adorable.

The book itself is 9 x 0.4 x 11 hardcover with 32 pages.

It is well constructed and loaded with beautiful, colorful, vivid large illustrations by Devin Crane.

Bios of Beth Stern (Author) and Devin Crane (Illustrator) are on the back, inside flap of the cover.

I highly recommend this book.

Even though Yoda has a heart condition, he finds his purpose.

You’ll have to read the book to find out how finding love and purpose affects his heart.

YODA: The Story Of A Cat And His Kittens is perfect to be read in a classroom, library, or bookstore full of children, or in a child’s room at bedtime.

I know you will be asked for many repeat readings.

Another happy ending!

And one final note. All proceeds from Beth’s book will be donated to North Shore Animal League America’s Bianca’s Furry Friends campaign.

Please visit animalleague.org for more information about this campaign.

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Big Dog Ranch Rescue – in the Spotlight

Big Dog Ranch Rescue – in the Spotlight

Once a month, I spotlight an animal shelter/rescue organization.

My mission is to educate my readers about their local shelters and the impact these shelters make on the community.

Each one of these facilities is incredible.

Each provides and promotes the humane treatment of companion animals under their care.

Each shelter/rescue has its own uniqueness.

This month’s spotlight shelter/rescue, Big Dog Ranch Rescue (BDRR), is no exception.

big dog ranch rescue

Founded in 2008, BDRR is the largest cage-free, NO-KILL dog rescue in the United States located in Loxahatchee Groves, Florida.

They now have the ability to double their rescue efforts with the acquisition of 100+ acres in Shorter, Alabama.

Since 2008, BDRR has saved the lives of more than 50,000 dogs.

Their mission is to save 5,000 dogs every year, to heal and place them with loving families and to educate people about the proper care for dogs and the importance of spaying and neutering.

BDRR rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes furry friends on their 33-acre campus in Loxahatchee.

Their mission statement is as follows:

Our Mission is to Rescue, Rehabilitate and Educate until every dog has a loving and safe place to call home. We believe we can, and we will see an end to dog homelessness and abuse through legislative efforts, hard work and strategic partnerships near and far. We will never give up and we will never back down from the needs of all heartbeats because every life matters.”

Big Dog Ranch Rescue Programs & Affiliations

Florida Weimaraner Rescue

It all started when the Founder, Lauree Simmons, was asked for a small favor – drive to a shelter in Miami and pick up a Weimaraner that needed rescuing.

Saying “yes” changed her life forever.

Lauree vowed that no dog should die at a shelter due to time, space or a treatable medical condition.

What was once Florida Weimaraner Rescue in now Big Dog Ranch Rescue!

Their rescue efforts wouldn’t be what they are today without the Weimaraners that paved the way for thousands of dogs to follow.

BDRR rescues Weimaraners from across the United States and gives them a second chance at a full and happy life through their Weimaraner Rescue program.

Today, the legacy lives on through their Weimaraner Rescue program!

legacy program

Veteran Dog Training Program

As I have said before, animal shelters/rescues play a vital role in our communities in many ways.

Shelters not only give homeless animals a second chance but also build innovative programs to support pets, their families and communities.

In addition to the Florida Weimaraner Rescue, this shelter/rescue has several other programs.

BDRR is extremely grateful for the service of our veterans and active military.

Their trainers prepare rescue dogs to become service dogs for veterans with PTSD.

Professional dog trainers use positive reinforcement training techniques and teach a dog to fit in with the veteran’s lifestyle as much as possible.

• Their dogs use trained tasks to help mitigate disabilities that affect our veterans’ everyday lives.

• Specific rescue dogs are identified and matched up to the needs of the veteran.

BDRR will provide all training and equipment for both the veteran and dog, at NO cost to the veteran.

• Each dog will be up to date on all vaccinations, micro-chipped as well as reduced cost veterinary care and services after completion through BDRR’s veterinary healing center.

To date, BDRR has trained and paired 50 service dogs with deserving Veterans.

And they are not done yet.

Their goal is to have 250 dogs graduate each year from this program.

What a way to give back to a community and our country – a total win-win!

big dog rescue

Seniors for Senior Program

This program was created to address the most at-risk categories of canine populations – 7 years or older. BDRR Seniors for Senior Program has two opportunities.

Adoption: Are you a senior or know a senior who would benefit from a companion animal? BDRR wants to help! Through discounted adoption fees for senior dogs, and hands on help to find the right fit, they want to help you find the PAWfect pup!

Visitation: True love and companionship walks on four-legs! Do you live or work in an assisted living facility and want to schedule a senior dog visitation or adoption day? Their dedicated staff and volunteers would love to help! Please connect with them to find out more.

The visitation opportunity is incredibly important to individuals in Assisted Living Facilities.

My mom, who had dementia, lived on the memory care floor of a wonderful ALF in Largo, Florida.

I was with my mom the day the pet therapy dogs came to visit.

Some of the residents who might normally sit in a chair staring straight into thin air or be unresponsive to anyone speaking to them changed when the therapy dogs showed up.

The residents came alive, smiling and petting the dogs.

This is what animals do for people.

And this is what the Seniors for Senior Program can do for the community.

big dog rescue

Hurricane and Disaster Relief

BDRR travels to areas affected by disasters to bring much needed supplies, to save abandoned dogs, and in some cases reunite pet owners with their furry family members.

BDRR has become very much first responders during a hurricane crisis.

Pets are not like humans who can go out and find help themselves.

Domestication has led companion dogs to become dependent on humans for most everything.

They rely on humans to save their lives and keep them safe.

The Miracle Fund, inspired by Miracle, who survived for weeks on rainwater while buried under the rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian before BDRR saved him, provides desperately needed funding for critical rescue missions, urgent medical dog rescue, and disaster relief.

big dog rescueAsia Dog Meat Trade

I won’t go into great detail on this program because the title says it all.

BDRR has already rescued and brought back many dogs from Asia with more waiting to be transported to the BDRR in Florida.

asia dog meat trade

Big Dog Ranch University

It is believed at Big Dog Ranch University, that any dog can be helped through proper training of the dog and owner.

The majority of issues that dog owners deal with are based in misunderstandings (dogs don’t speak human), combined with a lack of mental and physical fulfillment.

BDU will help you clear up those misunderstandings while teaching you to provide that necessary stimulation your dog needs to be a happy and balanced member of the pack.

No problem is too big to accomplish or too small to address.

BDU is another community service.

Pricing and a training schedules are on their website, [email protected], (561) 985-4063.

big dog rescue

Donations save lives.

Programs come at a great cost.

Donations empower animal shelters/rescues with the tools they need to save pets lives.

BDRR is a nonprofit with 100% of donations going towards their rescue efforts and their dogs.

Check out their website to see the many ways you can donate to help support the thousands of animals who go through their gates every year.

I’ve only touched on a small portion of what BDRR is about.

There is a lot more going on at this shelter/rescue.

They are on a mission to help pets after Hurricane Ian.

BDRR packed a huge bus with food, water, cages, gas cans, tarps, etc. and headed to areas ravaged by the hurricane providing pet supplies to families and shelters struggling with the horrific aftermath of the storm.

Over 50 endangered dogs were brought back to safety at BDRR.

This coming Saturday and Sunday, BDRR is having a 2022 ADOPT-A-THON with 50% off adoption fees.

Check it out.

You may just find a new friend who will love you more than you know.


This Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 5 pm you will receive 50% off the adoption fee for your new best friend.

Any dog that is 6 months or older will be available for this promotion.

You need an approved application by Friday at 5.

Pre-register to adopt on their site here.

Are you ready?

We are!

Come to Big Dog Ranch Rescue to meet and greet our lovable, adorable, adoptable, fur-ever friends.


Big Dog Ranch Rescue
14444 Okeechobee Blvd.
Loxahatchee Groves, FL 33470
(561) 791-6465
Website: bdrr.org

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Fostering Pets Helps Shelters

Fostering Pets Helps Shelters

So, you can’t make up your mind if you want to be a pet owner.

Maybe you’re not ready for a long-term commitment.

Or you already have a pet who might need a companion.

fostering pets

Don’t worry.

I have a great idea.

How about fostering?

Shelter pet fostering is a noble way to take care of an animal for a few days, a couple of weeks or months, or maybe for the pet’s lifetime.

By fostering a pet, you give that animal a much-needed break from the stress of shelter life.

It releases you from a long-term commitment.

You are also helping your local animal shelter and it provides you with a sense of purpose.

Merriam-Webster defines fostering as: being, relating to, or involved in a situation in which temporary care is given to an animal (such as one that is injured or awaiting adoption) in a household or similar setting.

Shelters consider fostering to be an important aspect of many rescue groups.

Shelters and rescue groups could not take in as many animals as they do if it were not for foster homes.

Fostering, next to actual adoption, is one of the most effective ways to decrease overcrowding in animal shelters.

If an animal is fostered, it provides a space for more animals to be rescued and saved.

Foster parents can provide reports to shelters regarding the health and behavioral traits of the animal they are fostering.

This helps shelters and those in a fostering environment work with the pet and adjust behaviors or socialization issues that will prepare them for adoption in a future, forever home.

pet fosteringFostering kittens can help control cat populations.

Kittens that are fostered are usually spayed and neutered.

Besides, kittens are so cute.

I dare anyone to look at a kitten and not smile.

Kittens have a sweet, adorable face, big eyes, little paws with little claws, and very soft fur.

If you already have a pet, fostering a shelter animal can often be a great companion for the resident pet.

The importance of fostering can’t be assessed too highly.

Each pet fostered comes with their own set of circumstances.

Some pets have a problem adapting to shelter life.

They may be frightened and have separation anxiety issues.

When a shelter animal is placed into a home environment, it takes them out of an institutional situation and puts them into a loving family home.

Some pets may have health issues and need to be cared for until they get better.

Fostering an animal with health issues can be a great help to shelters due to the more personal care that can be provided in a home environment.

Fostering is very important in keeping animals healthy and ready for adoption.

Shelter foster programs provide a loving home until the animal is eligible for adoption.

“Fosters save the day!”

In fact, a shelter in Palm Beach County, Florida, recently combined a foster program with a disaster preparedness plan to help their shelter during hurricane Ian.

Those of us who live in Florida have just gone through some tense moments with hurricane Ian.

I am fortunate enough to live on the Atlantic coast, which had bad weather, but nothing like the Gulf coast, around Tampa.

Anyone who lives in an area where hurricanes are a potential know about storm preparations.

We secure our homes, we put shutters up and cover our windows, and we put together disaster kits.

dog in hurricane

When a hurricane gets near, animals need a safe place to stay.

In an earlier posting, I reviewed a book Oscar and Emmy Weather A Hurricane written for children (and adults) to show the importance of preparing a plan for pet safety during natural disasters.

A shelter in Palm Beach County Florida also prepared for Ian, but in a different way.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control shelter and their employees needed help.

They were looking for families who would be willing to take in a dog or a cat into their home for a few days until the threat of the hurricane was over.

They have a great program in place called Hurricane Hounds.

The name says it all.

The program is designed to make space available for pets in need of care before, during, and after a huge storm or hurricane.

Prior to hurricane Ian, the shelter had 65 dogs and 38 cats who were packed and ready to go to a home away from the shelter.

These dogs and cats had an opportunity to relax with a family during the hurricane.

girl and dog

The shelter provides everything the foster needs except for love.

The foster provides that.

If the foster ends up falling in love with their special guest, that pet is theirs to keep.

Such a great way to make a bad situation wonderful!

************************Happy Update*****************************

It was recently reported that all the cats and dogs at The Humane Society of Saint Lucie County, Florida, are safe from the effects of Hurricane Ian.

Their dogs seem to love the new lake that formed outside their dog kennel wing from the torrential rains.

Starting October 1, 2022 through October 7, 2022, the shelter will be waiving adoption fees in an effort to #EmptyTheShelter.

Not only would adopting help save one life but would also enable the shelter to be able to help with relief efforts for animals in need at shelters across the state who were badly damaged due to the hurricane.

If you make the decision to adopt today, you can save two lives.

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