Clients trust me to show up when I say I will and take care of their pets as they ask me to. They trust me to respect their possessions.
Some pets immediately trust everyone. Some need proof that a human is trustworthy. I can see doubt in their eyes: Will she yell at me? Will she hurt me?
I can't tell you how much I appreciate my clients' and my charges' trust. I work to earn it and I work harder to keep it. But when pets press my buttons, it's not always easy to keep calm.
At one client's, the dog barks when anyone leaves the house. It's a loud, high-pitched, sharp bark that can be heard a house or two away. It's not too bad if you make a quick exit, but my key often sticks in the door, as it did recently. Arf! Arf! Arf! I jiggled the key. He was inside, I was outside, but his bark was piercing. Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Muttering, I jockeyed the key from left the right. Arf! Arf! Arf! "Rover*! Hush! I'm still here," I stage-whispered, knocking on the window, despite the fact that I knew it would make things worse. Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! With sweat dripping down my face, I gritted my teeth, cursed, and took a deep breath. The key didn't budge. Arf! Arf! Arf! "Rover! Shut up!!!"
I regretted the words the second they were out of my mouth. Some dogs would lose their trust of me if I yelled. Rightly so. Lucky for me, Rover isn't one of those dogs. As a highly independent breed, he often ignores his human parents no matter how loud they yell. Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Eventually, the key slipped out.
Rover greeted me as effusively as ever—Arf! Arf! Arf!—when I returned. Trust was intact. Still, I felt bad. I told Rover's human dad about my reaction to the incident. "Isn't it annoying when he does that? I'm always, like, 'Shut up, Rover!'" he said, shaking his head.
It scares me that I could lose a dog's trust. As a pet sitter, I want animals in my care to feel secure. And I want to live up to the trust that pet owners place in me. In Rover's case, I was lucky. Next time . . . well, I don't want there to be a next time.
*Names have been changed