If you have good neighbors, which mine do, you can leave the pets at home and know they are well taken care of. If you have bad neighbors, which I do, you will spend most holidays watching their pets.
Don’t just make your plans and expect someone to watch your pets for you; ask first, plan later. Most of us don’t mind helping out, but when it’s just expected, it becomes a chore. I have one neighbor, we’ll call him the bad neighbor, who travels for work and expects us to dog-sit constantly. It’s not that we mind, I like his dog actually more than I like him, but it’s the feeling of being taken advantage of that makes it a bad situation.
Return the Favor
We watch their dogs; they watch our cat. That’s how it works with my neighbors—at least the good ones. It may not be an equal trade-off at times, but I do like their dogs. And I have to grudgingly admit, I do like the neighbors too—at least the good ones. The main thing to remember is to always return the favor. If they watch your dog, agree to do the same for them. If they don’t have pets or don’t leave them at home when they travel, buy them a t-shirt when you’re on that trip to Cancun. Better yet, make it tequila.
Make it Easy
Fish are real easy; I don’t mind pet-sitting fish at all. I just drop in for about 5 seconds and my work is done. Dogs on the other hand are a little more high maintenance. My neighbor, the good one who watches our cat, will stop in daily just because Yogi could use some human contact. Dogs can take care of themselves pretty well, but what they really, really need is to poop. Dog doors are a nice convenience I would imagine for dog owners, but as a dog-sitter, they are a necessity. It’s one thing to drop in and check and feed the dog but if the poor guy is waiting on me to go poop or pee, well, that’s just not fair for me or especially him.
Cats vs Dogs
Cats are the easiest to take care of so, of course, we have a cat and everyone else around here has dogs. Dogs need to be walked, fed, and some, like my backyard neighbor’s dog, require a little more than that. Calvin, the dog of the house behind me, won’t eat unless you stay and sit with him. If I just feed him and leave, he won’t touch so much as a kibble or a bit. They do have a doggie door which makes pet sitting much easier, but that poor old guy just wants some company. I hope when I’m called “that poor old guy” someone will sit and watch me eat, too.
The bad neighbor, the one I have to pet sit for the most, has promised to take us out to dinner for years. If I kept my word as well as him, his poor dog would starve. Fortunately for his dog, as I mentioned earlier, I like her more than I like him so that will never happen. Now I must admit, I sometimes sleep late or forget the poor girl for a bit, so occasionally instead of breakfast we have brunch. I then usually apologize profusely, to the dog of course, not him.
If you ask me to watch, walk, feed and otherwise keep an eye on your dog, I will be happy to oblige and I would hope you would return the favor. Just remember: fish are the easiest to pet sit, so if you ask me to watch your dogs, maybe the tequila would be better than a t-shirt.