When the owner's away...

-A A +A

Pet-sitters offer alternatives to boarding

By Robert Villanueva










rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com HARDIN COUNTY — Being left behind while your family goes on vacation is doggone disheartening. Though many veterinarians offer boarding, people who offer pet-sitting services can take the sting out of being left behind for Rover and other animals. “I try to treat them like they’re my own dogs,” said Pam Adams, co-owner of Circletop Farm in Rineyville. Adams has eight dogs of her own — as well as goats and chickens — at her farm. Her facilities include a separate building that houses 4-foot-by-4-foot kennels with outdoor access and three enclosed play yards. “I try to get all the dogs out in the yard once or twice a day,” Adams said. Smaller dogs and dogs with special needs may spend their stay inside the house. The bottom line, Adams said, is the pet’s comfort. “I’ve had some in the house with diapers on,” she said. “I want them to have the most pleasant stay they can.” Circletop Farm provides day care for pets as well as overnight stays. Adams talks with pet owners prior to their visit to learn about the temperament of the pet and its needs. “We had someone who wanted green beans, yogurt and pumpkin seeds for their dog,” Adams’ son, Jud, said. The 12-year-old helps his mom at the farm. Adams said those seeking pet-sitting services have a number of options from which to choose. Candy’s Critter Sitters, an in-home pet sitting service, offers another alternative to boarding. Some pets might get stressed out when boarded in a kennel, particularly if they are an older pet, rescued pet or previously had been a pound animal, Candy Ott, owner of the Elizabethtown business, said. That’s where her business is different. “We come to the pet,” she said. “We try to keep their routines as close to normal as possible." During their visits, pet sitters also might bring in the mail or alternate the position of window shades or drapes to make it appear that someone is home. In effect, they are house-sitters, too. “Someone’s popping in and out of your house every day,” she said. In addition to dogs and cats, Ott’s business has cared for a variety of animals, including frogs, guinea pigs, ferrets and horses. Her clients include small farms as well as homes. Most commonly, she sees clients that want a pet sitter for the weekend, though in the summer pets tend to stay for a week or two when their owners take vacation. Yet another alternative to boarding is as close as the local pet store. “We don’t cage unless we have to,” Trina Finley, owner of E’town Pet Center, said. The store’s pet-sitting service has cared for chinchillas, hamsters, birds and snakes as well as more traditional pets. Larger animals stay in the enclosed back room and are taken for regular walks around the building. Finley, small animal specialist Patty Davis and other employees also play with them. “Even though they’re not expected to, they come back here and play and fiddle with them,” Finley said of the employees. Some pets may go home with employees to be cared for, specifically pets that require more attention, such as birds. A dog has to be up-to-date with its shots to go home, though. “We make sure they leave us detailed instructions,” Finley said. That includes a contact number and the number of the pet’s veterinarian. “Because you never know,” Finley said. “Even with the best care, something can happen.” For some people, a friend or family member is the right choice for watching their beloved pets. Geneva Basham of Vine Grove is one of those friends who pet sit. “I go to their house sometimes, but sometimes I keep them here,” Basham said. Though she provides her service strictly for friends and family, Basham has been pet-sitting dogs — and sometimes cats — for “at least 15 years.” Basham’s dog died “a long time ago.” She started pet-sitting when her pastor's wife asked her to watch her dog while she was out-of-town.Through the years, Basham has been a pet sitter for many types of dogs, from a single giant schnauzer to five Chihuahuas. “I had a poodle one time,” she said. “He would sit on my shoulder. “Every one I took care of, I’ve loved them to pieces,” she said. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.