Friday, June 29, 2012

Where to Board Caitlin--Critter Sitters

Cindy Price had been involved in the pet business for a long time, so when she started looking for work, dog sitting seemed like a natural place to start. She answered an ad for a dog-sitter and found she liked it. The sitting service she worked for charged $60 (of which she got to keep $20), and a lot of people who would otherwise have gone with her said, "The price is too high."

One of Cindy's friends suggested she start her own business.

"But I don't know anything about running a business," Cindy said.

It turns out that she knew enough, because Critter Sitters is now a thriving operation with lots of repeat customers.

I liked Cindy a lot. She boards dogs in her own home. She lets them play in the family room, where Caitlin quickly discovered a big box of toys and got busy pulling them out onto the floor to be chewed and played with. Cindy says the dogs are never left alone. Either she or her husband is always with them; and she gives them plenty of attention, takes them to walks or to the dog park at Wells Park. She offered to hike up the service road on Cowles Mountain with Caitlin. That impressed me because the service road is a somewhat more strenuous hike than the main trail at Golfcrest. Cindy likes it because, "the road is wide enough that you can see the snakes."

Her price is reasonable, pretty much in the ball park with other boarding facilities we've looked at. She is happy to let prospective clients look through her customer list and call anyone they like for a referral, which makes me think she has a lot of satisfied customers. She also seems willing to cater to any special needs a dog may have. I asked her specifically about a disabled dog who needs to have his urine manually expressed every day. "No problem," she said, "as long as the owner shows me exactly what needs to be done and how to do it."

Cindy prefers to take no more than three dogs at a time, preferably small or medium-sized dogs, since she keeps them in the house except for when she walks them or takes them to a dog park or the beach.

I think Caitlin would be fairly happy there, depending a little bit on what other dogs were there at the same time. Cindy thought she would be an easy dog to care for, but she met Caitlin right after she had spent an hour and a half playing at Harry Griffen Park. She hasn't seen Caitlin when she's roaring around the house at mach 2 or peeling the back off an upholstered chair because nobody has paid attention to her in the last 10 minutes.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Cindy to anyone with a smallish dog that could stay in the house except for walks. I have the impression--and I'm pretty confident that my impression is correct--that Cindy does more than is expected or even necessary for her doggie guests.

My only reservation about leaving Caitlin with her is Caitlin herself. I think that until such time as we find a full-time challenging job for her (such as herding sheep 12 hours a day), Caitlin will need more exercise than any mere human being can give her in a fairly small house unless she has several other mega-energy dogs to help her (which might be a problem in itself). I'm absolutely certain, however, that Cindy would make Caitlin's experience with her as good as possible to the best of her ability.

If you want truly personal service for your dog, I think Critter Sitters is the place of choice.