As with every profession or career path, there are pros and cons to pet sitting. Spending 15+ years (I swear that makes me sound older than I am) staying in people's homes with their pets is such a rewarding, and underrated "job". Pet sitting has mainly been a side-hustle business since college. It has given my life purpose and meaning outside the corporate office (and today, it gives me a nice contrast to my therapist role). People LOVE their pets so to be a trusted caretaker of them is so important and rewarding. Helping people to travel is a part of their self-care, and being with their animals is a form of my own self-care, believe it or not. Animals are amazing, and therapeutic (study after study after study show). I am glad I can support animal ownership, other's self-care (and mine), happy pets, and allow others to travel. All very necessary things, in my opinion.
Living in Austin the past decade, there are clients, and new clients (Californians) in need of pet care. Gaining clients is nearly effortless at this point. I am never sales-y so when others discover what I do for a living I find they are very curious about it and ask tons of questions - so I wrote a book about all of my fabulous and not-so-fabulous experiences.
That said, there are some times when I have to focus on the "other" aspects of pet sitting because lets face it, even if the pets are great there are other factors that can make or break the whole deal too:
Those are the top five factors, and mostly in order. Nothing too extraordinary.
There are certainly factors that can make this job challenging, like pet schedule ("excuse me, you want me to feed your dog at 5am, what?!), home security, creepy neighbors, weak shower water pressure (waterfall showers are the worst for my hair!), and indoor climate control issues. But I digress. Perhaps those topics can be saved for later posts.
PS. The holidays are coming up swift. I hope you have secured your pet sitter(s)! We are already completely booked up, but have openings in first quarter 2024 if you want to snag a spot. Contact us here.
Fall is officially a few days away and that means cooler temperatures are on the way which will make Austin more enjoyable for humans and pets alike. Austin is a very dog-friendly city, with plenty of places for dogs to play, swim*, and explore outside. Now that our record breaking summer heat in Texas is (hopefully) coming to an end, here are a few of the best places to take your dog in Austin:
Don't have a dog? Thinking of getting a dog? Adopting a dog in Austin is a great way to enjoy daily life and the outdoors, and a great way to meet people. Where to adopt a dog in Austin? There are several shelters and rescue organizations that have dogs and cats available for adoption.
Some of the most popular shelters include:
Austin is a great place to live with a dog (or cat). There are many places for dogs to play, swim*, and explore. There are also a plethora of dog-friendly businesses, services, and accommodations in the city. Need a recommendation? Ask us!
*Be careful about your dog in water, the algae in Austin waters can be toxic to pets.
I once saw a horrifying viral video where a woman and her dog entered an elevator and as the doors closed the retractable leash her dog was on got caught up in the doors. As the elevator began to go down the woman realized the problem just as her dog was jerked violently upward as the snagged leash basically became a tourniquet via the dogs collar. Truly horrific scene as the woman held up her struggling dog and frantically began pressing elevator buttons to get the elevator to stop its descent. Finally, it appears the dog's collar broke loose from the leash and he fell to the floor of the elevator just as it opened. Luckily everyone seemed relatively ok but what a scary scene!
I have never liked retractable leashes mainly because it is very difficult to control dogs on long skinny leashes. From the plastic handle to the skinny rope - the design is not good from a safety standpoint, in my opinion. When walking in the city they can stretch almost all the way across a busy street or when there are other dogs on the path it is very difficult to gain control of strong dogs when holding a plastic handle (it is much better to wrap a traditional leash around your wrist and then hold it - much more control & grip). There are also waist clipped leashes which offer an extra anchor (though someone small could still become dragged by a large breed dog).
I have gotten "rope burn" on my legs from getting tangled in a skinny leash - as soon as a dog sees another dog or a squirrel they are off and running and sometimes I am just in the way, unfortunately for me.
Ever been to a park or to a patio where dogs are trying to check each other out and they get hopelessly tangled up in those skinny retractable leashes? Awkward. Or worse, if your dog accidentally gets free from you and the retractable leash is still attached and basically becomes a loud clanking moving weapon ready to take out anything.
I used to use a retractable leash just for walks in the wilderness, but after coming across a few snakes, an armadillo and possums during my short time here in Texas I have decided once again that a long retractable leash is not the best idea when stumbling upon wild animals in their habitat.
For all of these reasons I have grown to really dislike retractable leashes, so much so that I will bring my own traditional leashes with me when I am pet sitting and I have client dog walks to do.
What type of leashes/collars do you like? There are so many options these days I am surprised that retractable leashes aren't obsolete by now.
Gentle Leader leash
No-Pull Harness leash
Custom Critter Sitters was recently mentioned in an Austin blog article on Redfin online. Read and click below to learn more about some of our city's great go-to spots!
14 Beautiful Places in Austin, TX – Bat City’s Best Scenic Destinations for Newcomers
by Ryan Castillo
"Austin, TX has a vibrant culture, delicious food, and a lively music scene. It’s also a place where natural beauty abounds. From rolling hills and pristine lakes, to serene parks and lush wilderness preserves, there are plenty of beautiful places in Austin to escape from the city. So whether you’re a recent transplant renting an apartment in Austin or looking for homes in the area, read about the many beautiful places that await you while learning what it’s like living in Austin." Read full article HERE.
Imagine eating cheerios (without milk) for every single meal for the entire duration of your life.
Seriously, stop and think about it for a minute.
You probably don’t need a whole minute to decide that would be a terrible void of at least two of your fabulous human senses - taste and smell. I consider myself a foodie but even if I wasn’t crazy about good food the idea of this is pretty disturbing. Unfortunately, dog owners everywhere practice this routine with their dogs: absolutely zero variety.
Even though dogs have around 19% the tastebuds that we do, they make up for it in their sense of smell which is around 98% stronger than ours. Apparently the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to deciphering smells is 40x larger than ours. Wow, and to think that every single meal is the same missed opportunity, the same smell of old processed cheerios, er, I mean dry processed dog kibble. What a disservice we are doing for these amazing creatures we call dogs, or our fur children, or well, children!!!
I know many of my clients supplement with treats and snacks to try to mix up their pet’s diet a bit. Some of my clients prepare special meals for their dogs (and no I don’t bat an eye, because I was once that same pet parent preparing special meals & fresh treats for my own dog when he was alive). There are many ways you can mix up your pet's diet without the worry of weight gain. Dogs can have access to fresh ingredients like the ones listed below, they don’t simply have to have dry kibble for every meal:
I love all the ideas I get from friends and clients when it comes to what to feed our pets. Some recent favorites are:
- Fresh green beans or carrots for crunchy dog snacks
- Ice as a cool crunchy snack
- Omega-3 fish oil tablets drizzled over kibble or just given whole
- A scoop of unflavored greek yogurt in kibble
- Water-diluted low-sodium chicken broth mixed with kibble
- Goats milk to help with allergies in dogs
- Canned salmon/sardines mixed with kibble
There are many natural dog food books on the market. I suggest you find & research what might work for you and ask your veterinarian for recommendations/approval, always.
Below is an easy DIY recipe I saved from the an issue of Edible Austin Magazine. These or any treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. For small dogs break up into 3 pieces:
Good Boy! Dog Treats - by Claudia Alarcon
Makes 20-24 treat balls (2 inch)
2 Cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup whole-wheat flour & 1 cup white all-purpose flour)
Choose ONE of the three options below:
½ (half) cup cooked and mashed sweet potato or canned pumpkin
½ (half) cup canned sardines or canned salmon mashed
1 ripe banana, mashed
Seasonings (choose up to two):
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut (soaked in water for 1 hour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh mint
In large bowl mix together the flour, egg and the other options you chose from above. Roll the mixture into 1- to 2-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Press the balls flat with a fork, if you wish. Bake at 325⁰ for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container. Treats will keep for up to a week. They freeze nicely.
Try a bite yourself. Your dog decided she’s not crazy about bananas? Try the recipe with salmon the next time or pumpkin the time after that. Just be careful they don’t burn/char as charring is not healthy.
If you’re not a great cook the good thing about preparing food for your pets is that you don’t have to stress about if they’ll like it or not, they most likely will welcome any change to the daily dry kibble routine! So unless you plan to post this on pinterest there is no need to obsess over the way these turn out, even if they look like ugly globs your dog will treat you like you’re the new Top Chef!
...And that folks, is one of the many reasons why I love dogs more than most people - they are pure gratitude wrapped in fur and frequent tail wags!
Now go out & get some fresh food for your dog or make a recipe! Change up the daily humdrum dry kibble routine! They’ll be endlessly grateful that their tastebuds and spidey-smell senses got a welcome change, trust me!