Brace yourself. The first rule of petsitting is:
There will always be poop, urine, vomit, and other noxious animal expulsions to clean up.
While this may sound like a big, fat DUH to most of you, you’d be surprised how many times people think only of snuggling with cute puppies and fluffy kitties and maybe throwing a handful of food down now and again. In reality, while those are some of the best perks of the biz, there’s an awful lot of hairball mucus and loose stools to clean up.
Like the time one of these two adorable beasties decided to vomit all over the bench that the household shoes were stored under. But a bench, I hear you thinking. Didn’t that protect the shoes? Well, this particular bench had slats in it, and so the shoes had to be removed one-by-one, gently cleaned, and laid out to dry.
Or the time the owners promised me that their dog had a bladder of iron, only come to find out that while that held true for the daytime, the dog would quietly pee in a corner of their basement during the night. For several nights in a row. On the white carpet. Behind some furniture so that it wasn’t discovered for days on end.
Even when all the animals are doing all of the right BMs at the right time in the right places (preferably out of doors under a bush somewhere), cleaning up after them is still not a pleasant task.
For instance, when I was taking care of two adorable lapdogs in a three-story house built on a hillside. With limited outdoor bathroom space around, the owners had solved this problem by putting artificial turf on the roof of the first story, which was accessible from the second story, sort of like a small deck. The door to that deck would remain open during the night, letting in a gentle breeze and the smell of urine and feces. Every morning, my job was to go outside, collect the solid pieces to throw away, and hose down the roof and turf to try to get rid of the acrid stench. Fun!
So, remember, the next time you offer to petsit for your friend/neighbor/stranger, there is more than cuddles/snuggles involved. I recommend bringing some disposable gloves, poop bags, and a bottle of organic, pet-friendly cleaner along, just in case.