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May 1, 2017

Need a sitter for your horse? We can do that.

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When most people imagine being a pet sitter, they think about walking dogs or feeding cats, not about what it takes to be in charge of birds, horses, pigs, lizards and the like. Well, Critter Sitters have done it all, and they’re here to share some of their stories.

Shannon Garrett says she takes care of two African Grey parrots and a cockatiel and has sat for ferrets, lizards, snakes and turtles. The birds are the toughest of all of these in some ways because they don’t trust people as quickly as cats and dogs do. So how do you get a bird to trust you? Garrett says, “I have taken extra time during visits, played music, singing, and dancing, talking continuously. I knew the phrases the birds said so I would repeat them over and over. The female likes to dance, so we did. The more I interact, the more comfortable they become.” It just takes a little more time and patience with birds, and the more you say familiar phrases, the more they open up.

Elisa Price says she loves pet-sitting for Blaze, a rescued horse that runs free with his kitten pals on a small farm. Price says, “He comes to me as soon as I pull up to the gate. He goes right into his stall, where he knows his special food will be placed. When he is done eating, I give him peppermint treats.” Price says she loves brushing him because he won’t let just anyone do that and that he’s “happy to roam free after years of mistreatment.”

In some ways, taking care of a horse seems easier than taking care of a dog, and Price confirms this impression. She says, “Blaze is just happy to see me, and we enjoy each other’s company. I talk to him and he pushes against me after he is fed as if to thank me.” On the other hand, his water barrel is about the size of an oil drum, as compared to a cat’s or a dog’s small water dish!

Jennifer LeBlanc also takes care of horses, although she says they’re more like cats than like dogs because you have to win their trust. She’s been working with horses for years, both personally and professionally. She trained as a hunter/jumper and used to muck out stalls to pay for her lessons. She’s helped shoe horses and even been present for the birth of a foal. LeBlanc also says she has worked for several pet stores, giving her familiarity with a wide range of animals, from snakes to chinchillas. She says the latter are her favorite, even though they’re not as cuddly as they look. Chinchillas are nocturnal and get overheated easily, so you can’t snuggle them as much as you want to.

Kathy Travis says she takes care of a chameleon named Jelly Bean who eats three live crickets every day. She adds, “I have to go to a big plastic tub in the client’s basement, stick my arm in the tub as I hold a long plastic tube, and catch three crickets as dozens of them are scurrying and hopping around me.” But that’s not all. She also has to feed the crickets! (If you’re curious what crickets eat, the answer is fruit and water pellets.)

Jennifer Andall says she has experience sitting for pot-bellied pigs and particular expertise in piggy back rubs. One of her charges absolutely demands them. Mostly, they’re sweet, but she does know how it feels to be bitten by one. She says, “It feels exactly like slamming your finger in a door. Those jaws are strong!”

Even our founder, Jeffrey Lauterbach, has taken care of all kinds of critters. He says, “I recall feeding peanut butter to a hermit crab who lived in a terrarium.”

Other pet-sitting companies might be able to exercise your dog or make sure your cat gets a little social time, but will they feed your crickets? Critter Sitters will!