Thursday, April 19, 2012

• "Q" is for Questions from a Pet Owner

If you own pets, you've probably read articles such as Finding the Perfect Pet Sitter. But pet owners have other concerns—and who better than a pet sitter to answer?

Q) Do I need to buy food or drinks for the pet sitter?
A) I bring my own. I don't expect anyone to leave food, but it's nice when they do. Some clients mention specific foods, which means it's OK for me to eat those foods. (e.g., "In the refrigerator are tomatoes from my garden and leftover Chinese food.") Some tell me to help myself to anything.

Q) I'm worried about a pet sitter having access to some of my personal things.
A) As we toured his home, one client waved a hand at the room that served as his office. "You probably won't need anything in there," he said. Translation: He did not want me to go in the office. You can also lock rooms or move valuable or personal items to a safe. In case of emergency, make sure a neighbor has a key to a locked room.

Q) The pet sitter wants to bring his computer and log on using my WiFi password. Will he be able to access my computer files?
A) I couldn't—I don't have the technical know-how! But yes, I think someone can access your files. Have your service provider set up a guest account with a different password than yours.

Q) I'd like to hire a live-in pet sitter, but the thought of someone sleeping in my bed sort of creeps me out, and I don't have a guest room.
A) I've slept on couches, fold-out couches, and even my own inflatable mattress. If none of those options would work, you can ask sitters to bring their own sheets.

Q) I liked the pet sitter I interviewed, but she's young. I'm worried she may invite friends over for a party.
A) Say directly, "I would rather that you, and only you, are in the house while I'm away. Will that pose a problem?" Ask one of your neighbors to keep an eye on the house or even drop in unexpectedly.

Q) The last time I had a house guest they ordered $50 worth of Pay-Per-View TV. How can I politely ask the pet sitter not to do that?
A) "You understand that not all movies or channels on my TV are free. Some movies can cost of much as they do in the theater. I have more than 100 free channels; I imagine that should be enough."

Q) Do I need to tip the pet sitter?
A) I've seen this question a few times, with answers both pro and con. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary. What I find far more valuable is if a pet owner writes a testimonial, agrees to act as a reference, or passes my business card along to friends.

Do you have a question? I hope you'll leave a comment!

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