notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Don’t Ask Me To Pet-Sit

I love my pets.

And I love yours too.

To be perfectly frank, I’d rather see photos of your dogs and cats than your kids. Your pets are always at their sweetest in photos. But although your babies may have that fresh and innocent look, your older kids (older than, say, two) are mostly just mugging for the camera in ways – I must confess – I usually find just slightly obnoxious.

Perhaps this is because I have pets of my own, but I don’t have children of my own. But perhaps it is also because I have seen your kids in action. I often like your pets better.

But please don’t ask me to pet-sit.

My heart is in the right place, but my track record is dismal.

Several years ago, a close friend asked me to stop by and feed her cat while she was away for a few days. No problem, I said. The first day, I entered her house, and there was no sign of Kitty. I discovered the bathroom door was closed, and once I managed to get it open (there seemed to be something wedged on the other side), there was the cat. He had managed to get the door closed behind him and it appears that in his resulting panic, he had pulled down the bathrobe that had been hanging on the door.

But okay. I propped open the door with a few heavy books so Kitty would not be able to lock himself in again, and put his food out. I wanted to pet him to calm him down, but he was nowhere to be seen. But he had always been kind of a spooky little guy. I didn’t worry about it.

The next day, my friend came home, and couldn’t find the cat. She searched everywhere in the house. I had left her a note explaining why the books were stacked by the bathroom door. But there was no Kitty. She was distraught. Until she looked out the window and saw Kitty sitting in the back yard.

I swear I don’t know how Kitty got out. But I can only assume that I was too busy building my book doorstop for the bathroom to realize that I hadn’t exactly closed the kitchen door.

Thank God it ended well.

The same can’t be said of another friend’s fish.

My husband’s friend lived quite near my office. So when he and his wife planned a little vacation, I was happy to stop by their house on the way home from work and feed their tropical fish. The first afternoon everything looked fine. But the second afternoon, two fish appeared to be dead. I didn’t have a lot of tropical fish experience, But I didn’t believe that fish usually do the backfloat. But just in case I was wrong, and they were just napping, I left them there. I carefully fed the rest of the fish, exactly according to directions.

The next day, our friends returned, and they immediately called me. All of the fish were dead. All of them.

I just couldn’t understand it. They had written all their instructions down. I read really well, and I am very obedient. I could not imagine what I did wrong. I felt horrible.

But thankfully, the investigation cleared me from all wrongdoing. The couple discovered that the water in the tank was extremely warm. Too warm for even tropical fish. They realized that they had left the drapes open in the living room, and the morning sun had landed right on the fish tank. There was no way I could have known that, as the sun had moved off by the time I went over. (And of course, if I had seen the sun reflecting on the tank, I probably would have thought, How nice for the little fishies.)

The very next year, the same friends adopted a sweet little kitten. And they needed to go to Maine for a family event. The friends were a bit hesitant to ask me to take care of the kitten. I’m sure that was because they didn’t want to inconvenience me – it had nothing to do with dozens of dead fish, since that was totally not my fault. But my husband said he would stop by.

Well, about noon that day, I received a call from my husband. He was in a panic. He arrived to find the kitten in a very bad state. “She’s barely conscious and she’s panting so hard her whole little body is shaking.”

“Get that cat to a vet right now. We cannot be responsible for killing our friends’ pets two years in a row!” I hollered into the phone. I used the royal “we” in this case. You can do that if you are a couple.

So Hubby raced the kitten to the nearest vet. Where it was determined that the little girl was hypoglycemic, and was in some kind of diabetic coma. The vet gave the kitty a dose of glucose, and she perked right up.

Everything turned out fine. Although my husband said later that it was a whole lot harder taking the cat home from the vet than bringing her there. A little kitten in a coma will lie in your lap quiet nicely while you drive. While on the other hand, A kitten of a full-fledged sugar high will jump around the car like it is an incredibly fun trampoline.

39 Comments

  1. Dana

    Overheated fish and a hypoglycemic cat? You might want to keep an eye on those friends!

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    • They’ve had lots of healthy pets too…. occasionally, anyway.

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  2. mo

    So funny! I was just on a 10 day vacation and needed friends to watch my dog and cat. I was a nervous wreck. I think it would have been easier to have smuggled the pets on the plane with me. Everything turned out fine……..thank goodness!

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    • We tend to call twice a day when we leave our kitties. And we have someone actually stay in the house – not just stop by. And of course, my husband is a nervous wreck anyway.

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  3. Deb

    I would suggest that when you retire fully you may want to stay away from opening a pet boarding business for some part-time income…;)

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    • Yes, Pet-sitter might not be a good occupation.

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  4. Oh dear. We’ve had some experiences with friends taking care of our various dogs. None went well. Blog fodder …

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    • Oh yes! Please write about it, so I know I am not alone.

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      • I haven’t written about Goliath in a while…

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  5. Fish keeping never ends well…
    Your last line was hilarious!

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    • I don’t understand fish as pets anyway. They swim around and then they die. That’s the whole story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And with me, the dying part seems to be sooner rather than later.

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  6. I’m terrible with fish…might be because I don’t understand them. With cats I’m okay.
    However, I had my daughter look after my kitty last year and was terrified she’d escape through an open door. Whew. Nothing like that happened. At least I didn’t hear.

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    • My father once took care of our cats. When we called to see how they were doing, he said that one must have gotten out, because there were only 2, not 3. He looked everywhere. We got home and there were 3. One was an excellent hider.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s funny. I guess your father came to your house to take care of them.
        I have two cats and some days though I haven’t left the house, I can’t one of my cats. Still don’t know where he hides. Gives me a heart attack every time. 😀

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  7. Pet-sitting is intimidating. I once fish-sat for a nice lady. She had two fish in her tank. One day I came in, and the little fish was sticking out of the big one’s mouth. A tug-of-war ensued. I tried to rescue that little fish. No one told me it was a feeder fish. That’s the kind of info a ten-year-old needs to know.

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    • This I really don’t understand. They have pets that are really just FOOD?????

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  8. Not five minutes ago, my sister-in-law emailed me asking if we could keep my mother-in-law while they went on vacation. I was all set to say yes, but…

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    • Just make sure she doesn’t get too much sun.

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  9. I once took care of my friend’s turtle. She encouraged me to take him out of his tank and pet him but in his tank he stayed. I like a cute, furry pet, not one with a hard shell and looks prehistoric. A friend of mine once stayed at a her friend’s house to watch her 2 dogs while she was in Europe. One of them died! I still remember the text I got (except I can’t remember the darn dog’s name). “_________ is dead.” That didn’t go over well.

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    • My husband and I went to a destination wedding two years ago, and we had found out the month before that our 21-year-old cat had cancer. We had our reservations for months, and now what? But what were we supposed to do – not go to our friends’ wedding because the cat MIGHT die? We had a friend’s son stay with our pets – who was the exact same age as the cat, by the way. We were so worried that the cat would die and this young guy would have to deal with it. The kid promised that if the cat looked bad that we would call his Dad to handle it. But Merlin hung in there, and made it through our vacation. He died two weeks later.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never heard of a cat living to be 21. Go Merlin! Sounds like he lived a good long life and knew enough not to traumatize the pet sitter.

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  10. Hilarious! I wouldn’t hesitate to have you for pet sitting…. but would insist on having hidden cameras throughout the house! 🙂

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    • A camera would have been helpful in the case of the missing cat!

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  11. Timely post. My friend asked me (after she had already left for vacation) if I would take care of her two cats. I had to rearrange my schedule. She hadn’t cleaned out her litter in a week. There was no place to put the litter as her bag was overflowing. Her one cat has ADHD and needed exercise. I think she was secretly working but wanted me to get all these chores done for her. I may say no next time!

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  12. LauraBelle

    I know exactly how you feel. Everytime my daughter leaves town and leaves me in charge of her pets. I wake up with anxiety that the pets are all going to be dead when I walk in the room.

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  13. Christine

    Several years ago when we had two cats, we used to go Vermont for weekends (Friday night to Sunday night) and leave the cats on their own, with clean litter, lots of water and a weekend’s worth of food in a contraption that gradually dropped it into a dish. The only time there was a problem was when one cat got behind the bathroom door and pushed it closed with her inside. When we let her out she was fine, though mad. After that, all the doors had heavy door stops to keep them opened when we were gone. One of our cats had a hiding place it took us years to find; she had pushed some of the books forward on a bookcase and hide behind them. We stopped worrying when she disappeared, knowing she would reappear when she was ready. But it sure would have made a pet-sitter nervous.

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  14. Many years ago, a good friend of mine house-sat for a family. This family had a parrot or a parakeet, I can’t remember. ANYWAY, my friend didn’t realize that the cage – which she moved because of its awkward location on the counter – had been placed there by its owners for good reason. When she came home from work the following day, the bird was dead at the bottom of the cage. Turns out putting a bird cage on a table directly in front of a sunny window isn’t a good idea.

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  15. We boarded our dog for a full week just last week while we were on a cruise. I hated doing that but we didn’t want to ask friends/neighbors because that’s a really long time and I sure as shit wouldn’t want to have to return the favor. I hate pet sitting too.

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  16. I had a mini panic attack just reading this!! So glad the kitten was fine in the end

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    • Kitten was fine. Only the fish were harmed in the making of this story.

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  17. I love my pet, but I am not available to sit with ANYone else’s. My sister and brother-in-law watch our dog, Sally, so often the poor animal is probably confused about who her owners really are. But they’ve never asked us to watch their 2 dogs. It’s probably because my SIL knows I will treat them like, I hate to admit this, dogs.

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  18. Princess Judy

    We lived next door to hubby’s grandmother so it fell to us to feed the fish and water the outside plants while she was in the hospital for a month. Every day she would ask, “Did you water the plants?” Every day I would answer, “No, because it rained today” She got so fretful that we started to lie and say we did, because it never freaking rains in Southern Arizona every darn day, but it did (much to the chagrin of her son visiting Sunny Arizona from Chicago). She never once asked about the fish but her little zebra fish died so just before she got released from the hospital we bought some new ones. She never knew. That probably wouldn’t have worked with a kitten though.

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    • If I had tried to replace those fish, I probably would have killed the replacements too.

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  19. If there is a choice for me to pet sit or to babysit, I will choose pet sit. Because the animals won’t keep pointing out and complain the things that I am doing wrong.

    Like

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