Here in New England winter is often the time people try to get away for warmer climes. Whether it’s for a weekend or a longer vacation though when pet parents go away they need to make arrangements for the furry family members staying behind. Sometimes that means boarding or having a pet sitter come over a few times a day. Sometimes it means that Fluffy gets a vacation of her own at a friend’s house or even that a friend comes to stay at her place (we could say it’s your place but really, who are we kidding). Whatever the arrangements are you need to share more than your key and feeding instructions in order to keep everyone happy and healthy (and willing to pet sit again!). Here are a few things I leave with people when my family goes away:
- A picture of each animal attached to their vet file. Each animal in our house has his or her own file with up to date pet records, any meds they take, etc that we keep upstairs in our office area. When we go away those files come down to the kitchen counter along with a cover sheet showing a pic of the pet (we have 3 cats and a dog so sometimes pics are necessary to keep everyone straight).
- An introduction to any quirks the pet might have. Our dog Little Bit is the sweetest thing in the world. Except for when the doorbell rings. She hates (HATES!) the doorbell and launches herself at the door barking and jumping with all the fury of a 15 pound, sweet-faced, floppy eared animal who’s going to love whoever’s on the other side anyway whenever it rings. Whenever we go away we leave a sheet of paper for each animal clueing our pet sitting friend in to whatever might make her experience…interesting.
- A quick list of numbers and addresses. This includes our cell numbers, our veterinary office’s number and address, Tufts Emergency Veterinary Center’s number and address, and my mother’s number, just in case. If there is an emergency you don’t want the poor person scrambling around through that vet file looking for an address or phone number, better to just have it right there.
- The amount they can authorize to spend in an emergency. Steve and I learned the hard way that you need to have a number in your head and written down somewhere. If there’s an emergency and the vet says it’s going to cost $1,000 to save Fluffy’s life your pet sitter can’t be expected to make that decision. If she can’t reach you the only way she’ll know what to do is if you have a document somewhere that you have signed that says, “In the event of an emergency where I cannot be reached I authorize the expense of up to _________ in veterinary bills.” Take it from someone who said, “Do whatever you need to.” And got a bill for $3,000 6 hours later (cat still passed away). You need to have an amount in your head and an authorization for your pet sitter. Or pet insurance, but that’s a whole other post.
In addition to this there are a whole bunch of other common sense things that you probably already know about ranging from making sure Fluffy’s tags are up to date and on her to putting an old t shirt that smells like you in her bed so she has your scent when she gets lonely. In fact, share your favorite tips in the comments below and maybe we can all learn from each other what works!