Here is Gerry’s successful strategy for reducing her wonderful Golden retriever’s weight. Thank you Gerry for sharing this.Image

Moving from rural Maine to the city of Portland, Oregon was a big change for Rufus. He has always been pretty slim, in part because he has a false rear hip joint. due to a stress fracture that required shaving the bone, disconnecting the ball and socket joint. Over time, Rufus has developed muscle mass to compensate for the missing joint. Once here, between the city life, new food, and a somewhat distracted owner, Rufus gained weight. When he weighed in at the vet 4 months after moving here, Rufus had gone from 69 lbs. to 81lbs., a 12 lb increase.

To get Rufus back to a good weight, I did the following:

First, I looked for a dog food with a lower fat to protein ration. You would be amazed how much fat is in some dry dog food. I began to cut his food back from 3 cups a day, 1 in the morning and 2 at night to 1 in the morning and 11/4 at night.

In addition, each night, Rufus gets a kong, packed with peanut butter and his dry kibble. I replaced most of the kibble with chopped apple to cut calories.

I buy dog biscuits for little dogs and only give very small treats while training and never just give him a cookie for the heck of it.

Every morning we walk 21/2 miles before I leave for work. In the afternoon, we walk another 1-2 miles or I take Rufus to an off-leash dog park where he plays with other dogs and often gets some good wrestling in. On weekends, we hike or kayak, (yes he sits in my boat with me) and he swims.

The result is that after 3 months, Rufus weighed in at 67 lbs. where he remains now.You can actually feel his ribs, a sign that he is at an ideal weight. If I could only be as diligent with my own portion control!



Last summer a client had friends watering their extensive garden so that I might spend my entire time with the cats. They are two sweet, well socialized kitties and I spent most of the time playing with them and listening to one trilling in delight.

When I left, the watering friends greeted me and then hesitantly asked if I was the niece. Standing there with my set of client keys and a file folder I said,” No, I am the professionall pet sitter”.
Apparently this friend found it hilarious that they were using a pet sitter because she laughed and could barely speak as I politely said goodbye and moved away to my car.

I estimate that 60% of our new clients tell me in our initial conversation that they have used friends, relatives or neighbors and no longer will be doing so because they have been disappointed. The reasons are as numerous as the people but there is a theme. The “sitter” failed to show up is a frequent reason- And the “sitter” didn’t really care that they didn’t go!  I’ve also heard that let a cat or dog out who was lost, or didn’t fill the water dish or scoop the litter for a week. I’ve heard stories of parties or just plain bad care. Sometimes the new client simply feels they can’t impose anymore.

Somehow the idea of hiring a professional was funny to the woman I encountered today, but I have discovered that people who are responsible pet owners want to properly care for their animals. They worry if they are not sure their pets are being cared for properly or that the animals may be stressed. They have  found it so simple to just call their pet sitter who has their keys and full care instructions. Some have told me they feel better knowing I run a business that is fully insured and that I pay taxes.

We try to make it easy for our clients to leave their pets in our care. We really do care about these pets and try to engage them in exercise and mental stimulation. A big compliment we enjoy is our clients calling to say they have returned and that the pets are relaxed and not frantic, as if they had been gone just a few hours rather than weeks.

Its okay if someone thinks my profession is funny. What is not funny is someone not being responsible for pets and leaving them with someone  unsympathetic, incompetent or worse: with no one. I wonder sometimes if there were an emergency what would happen to the pets that no one was caring for. Sadly, as a sitter I have had to handle client emergencies. I was glad to be there to help.

I have been caring for pets professionally for over 20 years. It is such an elegant solution for pet care that  more and more people are choosing pet sitters to care for their pets and home.
sita in box

We become very attached to our pet clients. When they pass away its hard on us. Not only do we have our own pets  but dozens and dozens of other pets that we are fond of.  When they are gone we might hear the news over the phone or by email. Going to the house the next time and that sweet pet isn’t there is heartbreaking.

Recently I lost my own 15 1/2 year old Labrador. I had two sisters, one was dark brown the other was chocolate.  They passed away within 6 months of each other.  A few days after I lost Duchess, I found myself walking two chocolate labs. With them in my periphery vision looking just like my own lost pair, I wept. Tears streamed down my face for the duration of our walk. I was grateful it was sunny and that my sun glasses hid my eyes. 

I have wept like this for client dogs -recently Baily and Charli. It was when I returned to Charli’s house after she was gone that I was overcome. Her two rhodesian ridgeback roommates did their best to cheer me up- and they did, but the absence of Charli’s welcoming bark, wiggling body wag and happy grin was too much for me.

Baily had cancer. I cried for her while we walked near the end of her life. Her body grew almost daily. Her mind was still sharp. She was still determined to hunt squirrels. Even with the cancer making her unsteady she would trot ungracefully at a tree to scare the squirrel. It was hard to watch and yet I so admired her.

Sometimes I don’t think I can take another notification  of a pet’s death. Yet, I am  flattered that people include me in their lives and their heartache. Each animal that we visit and grow fond of has a special place in my ever expanding heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way.