Tuesday, April 10, 2012

• "I" is for Information

Information? Yawn. But as a live-in pet sitter, information is the backbone of my work.

I'd like to link here to an online client form, but I don't have one. My web site—self-created, to save money—is on Blogger, for heaven's sake. So I do things the old fashioned way, with the template of a Word document that I fill in.

I get information at my initial client meeting. About halfway through, the client usually gives me a puzzled look. Why does a pet sitter need to know the location of the main water cutoff? That's because I want to be sure I can take care of anything when I stay at the house, despite the fact that the thought of a major water leak makes me a nervous wreck.

About the House: Questions I Ask
• May I have names and phone numbers of neighbors? Is there anyone I can call if something breaks?
• Is there a spare key? Do any neighbors have a key?
• Where is the fuse box? Main water cutoff? Spare light bulbs, flashlight, batteries, toilet paper, etc.?
• How do I operate the heat? Air conditioning? Alarm system? Oven? Dishwasher? Washer/dryer? Phone? TV? (Very important!!)
• What day is trash day? What do you recycle?
• Do plants need water? How about the yard?
• Do you have Wifi? What's the name of your network? Your password?
• Should I answer your phone or let it go to voice mail?
• Do you want updates on your pets when you're away? How often? Via phone, email, Facebook, Twitter?

At that meeting I make sure I know how to work the key and TV, and can get online with my laptop.

About the Pets: Questions I Ask
• What is their schedule? (Potty breaks, walks, meals, treats, cleaning litter box)
• What do they eat? How much? Do they get treats?
• Do they take medications? Have medical issues? Do you give them dental care?
• Where do you keep their leashes? Grooming brush and comb? Extra poop bags? Towels for when it rains?
• How do the pets get along with each other? How do they react to other dogs? To people? Is there anything they're afraid of? (Thunder, vacuum, being touched on the neck)
• May they get on the furniture? Where do they sleep at night?
• What commands do they know? What should I say or do if they misbehave?
• Are they microchipped? Where is that information? Do they wear their tags all the time?
• Who is their vet? Emergency vet?

I ask homeowners to fill out a veterinary release form. I also use MapQuest to map the route from the homeowner's to their vet and emergency vet, and print it out. In the event that a pet goes missing under my care, I bookmark the Web sites of the nearest animal shelters.

I put all of this information in my Pink Notebook, which will probably be its own A to Z Challenge post.


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