The life of a pet sitter sure beats sitting behind a desk in a cubicle any day, but that's not to say it's without its own frustrations and watercooler dish. We asked, and you answered with flying colors: What's your worst pet sitting experience?
Read on for five of the best bad pet sitting stories—some funny, some sad, some downright disgusting—and be sure to add your own at the end by posting a comment!
"One of the worst pet sitting stories I can remember is early in my pet sitting years, 1985 maybe... I was sitting for a client's dog & cat. One night, I was taking a bath while my 4-year-old daughter was downstairs watching TV when suddenly what I thought was a bird flew in one bathroom door and out the other. I wasn't concerned until another did the same, and yet another. At the same time I heard my daughter yelling downstairs that there were birds everywhere. I quickly dressed and ran downstairs to investigate, only to discover they weren't birds-- they were bats! Hundreds of them! With the owners be in Bermuda, I had to think quickly! I barricaded us off, with the dog, cat, my daughter, and myself in one section of this large home, and the bats in the other. It was nighttime and no one would be able to help until next day. We quickly called Grandma to rescue my daughter, but I stayed the night and called wildlife guy first thing the next morning to come and help. Turns out that my clients just had the roof done and the bats had been living there for years, but the roofers closed off their exit so they were trapped inside. The wildlife guy relocated them so all was well in the end...with the exception of some strays caught in the drapes and some other tricky areas, as well as some bat corpses that didn't fare as well! I've been pet sitting for over 20 years and the bat story will always be [the most] memorable one!"
Death-Defying Dog Sit
"Some Wall Street type hired me to care for his Akita--he was leaving for a trip on short notice and unfortunately, there was not time to meet him or the dog before he left. Basically, I just showed up at the building, got the keys from the doorman, and headed up to the apartment. An hour later, only when my brave girlfriend showed up, was I was able to get past the ferocious dog and into the apartment. That dog made me very nervous. I was pretty sure he was going to kill me in my sleep...or maybe even while I was eating my breakfast at the table. He definitely did not trust me. But it all worked out, no one died, I made a little money, and the pets survived."
Koi Pond Palaver
"I was pet-sitting for an old friend who had about 40 beautiful Koi in a pond, seven cats, a Schnauzer, and a few other indoor fish tanks. Everything was going well until, a few days into their trip, I did my last
night check around midnight to be sure the cats were inside and safe, the dog was happy, and the fish had ventilation before going home to go to bed. I walked up to the Koi pond last and was overpowered by a horrible smell. Dead Koi were floating all over the surface of the pond, even though I had just seen them a few hours before and they were all fine! The water was shiny and iridescent, and there were a few smaller Koi and goldfish still alive, swimming under the dead ones. I panicked, called the owners, called my chem-whiz boyfriend to come help me, and spent all night draining that pond and catching, one by one, every fish that was still alive and moving it into another pond kept running as a backup. Every single large Koi except one was dead. As it finally turned out, after testing a little of the water, someone had poured lawnmower gasoline into the Koi pond. All the large Koi died because they breathed more of it in through their gills faster, which saved the smaller fish. To make matters worse, one of the indoor/outdoor cats disappeared that night and never came back--probably after drinking from the fishpond. It was awful! I will never pet sit for Koi again. I'm a little traumatized by them in general now."
Sleeping Dogs Lie
I had a crazy experience sitting for a 17-year-old family dog. It was very old and didn't move much, but one day it was going crazy and wanted to GO! I walked it on a long walk, even though before that day it could barely make it down the driveway. It was acting like a puppy again. Well, I woke up in the middle of the night to the worst smell ever and realized the dog had died in its sleep while lying on top of me. The family was in Hawaii—of course this was over Christmas--and I had no idea what to do with a dead dog. I wrapped it in a sheet (it weighed a ton dead), and put it in the trunk of my car. I found a 24-hour vet emergency clinic, and they put it in the freezer and that was that. It sounds so sad, but I look back and kinda laugh because it was my first time pet sitting and the dog died."
Badly Behaved Owners
"Our pet peeve (no pun intended) was the 'new' client who called from the airport and left a voicemail, saying that he left his key under the mat, his dog in the house, states the address, and says, 'Thanks.' This was at 6 a.m., and was a call from a total stranger to us, but at that point, what could we do? Leave the dog alone? We always require an initial consultation visit prior to accepting a new client, but at this point, we dispatched a sitter to the house and crossed our paws. Turns out that there was no such street address in any mapping service, and we had to call the local fire department to find out where we were supposed to be. Guess what? They didn't have the address either; it was that new. Repeated calls to the "client", now on a plane to who knows where, finally got us a return call at midnight. Racing over to the house, we discover a very sweet black Lab crossing his legs, but no mess in the house. A miracle, actually. Five days of thrice a day visits and the errant owner finally returned. Of course, it took another six months to collect our bill, but that was a lesson learned. No more new clients without a formal consult!"
"No matter how comfortable a pet is with me when the home owner is around, as a pet sitter, I always remember to keep a stash of Justin Biscuits on hand when coming into the house. They are "just in case" the dog forgets I am his bread and butter for the next few days. My brother-in-law mentioned to his guests one Christmas that his dog was going to embarrass him in, "Three, two, one." At which point his Boxer stated screaming and hopping like game show contestant, as I knocked on the front door. It seems he saw me coming up the walk, and wanted to brace his guests for the floor show. I am not quite sure why animals treat me like a winning lotto ticket, but it's all the ego boosting I need for a day. Just remember: never wear white near a boxer with dirty mudflaps (cheeks)."
"My mom was out of town for a few days, and although she hired a pet sitter to watch her dog and cat, I also promised to stop in. She didn’t have two spare keys, so she told me she left the key under a potted plant near her front door. I ran over to her house in between pet sitter visits to play with the dog and check on things. I got the front door and the dog was barking and jumping all over the place, ready to play. I picked up a couple of potted plants to look for the key, but couldn’t find it. Under the third pot, which was kind of big, I didn’t find the key either, but I found a HUMONGOUS spider. This was Arizona, so I was leery, knowing it could be a brown recluse spider. I considered it a danger and decided to stomp on it. To my horror, it exploded into a thousand tiny spiders. It was a Wolf Spider, which carries its eggs on its back. When I killed the spider, I opened the egg sack and spread the babies. It was so disgusting and horrifying, and the sad part was, the key was nowhere to be found. The pet sitter had picked it up and held onto it, so I wasn’t able to get into the house to play with the dog. I had to leave and hope that baby wolf spiders wouldn’t attack a friendly canine."