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September 8, 2016

Would You Ever Walk the Wrong Pet?

By: Hillary Brown

You think there’s no other dog in the world like yours, but how well can you tell your neighbors’ pets apart? What about if you had 20 or more animals to keep track of on any given day and hundreds or thousands altogether? Our cat and dog walkers are reliable and detail oriented, but with all their duties and many clients, even they make mistakes sometimes. Inspired by a funny story from one sitter, we reached out to the rest of them to ask, “Have you ever walked the wrong pet?”

One sitter said that, while she’s never done that, she has gone so far as to get the mail and go up to the front door of the wrong house.

Another made it a little farther, walking into the wrong house only to find a family in the middle of breakfast. She said that not only did she realize their dog did not need her attention but that she wasn’t even sure they had one!

Other sitters have walked in on clients who returned early but neglected to call, sometimes embarrassingly so.

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Our initial story sharer who inspired the question said she was the backup sitter for several clients of another sitter in the territory. When that sitter asked her if she could help out and walk a dog one night, she asked her for a reminder of which dog it was. Told it was “the little white fluffy one,” she said, “I knew exactly who she meant.” She went to the clients’ house but says she was a little surprised because it wasn’t set up as it usually was when they went out of town. Still, she didn’t worry about it and took the dog out anyway. It was a nice night and they went for a good long walk.

When they got back, she realized she didn’t know where his food was because the clients usually left it out. She called the regular sitter to ask where the food was kept, but the answer didn’t make any sense. She said, “We talked at cross purposes for a minute. Then it suddenly dawned on both of us that I’d gone to the wrong house with the wrong little white fluffy dog! These people were not out of town. I had basically broken into their house and (temporarily) stolen their dog! She laughed her head off and I skedaddled. The client thought it was funny when she was told but I was just glad they weren’t there or we’d have all had heart attacks!”

Don’t feel too bad, sitters. Our founder, Jeffrey Lauterbach, has been through it all and then some. He said, “Many years ago, I didn’t walk the wrong pet, but I did show up one day and find a calico cat outside that should have been inside. I wondered about how she could possibly have gotten out of a secure home, and I carefully put her inside, fed her, provided fresh water and cleaned the litter box. The next day there were two identical calicos, so I put one outside….”