If You Love Your Dog, You Might Want To Hire A Pet Sitter

Mike and I worked some interesting jobs recently. Unfortunately, there were no openings for a golden greeter.

Luckily for Honey, we found a great pet sitter.

Honey the golden retriever on the dock.

You don’t expect me to spend the day alone, do you? I’d be depriving the world of my lovely presence.

It Takes A Village (To Build A Boat Show)

We arrived in Annapolis at the beginning of September to work putting together the annual sailboat and powerboat shows.

Mike was part of the water crew who helped to build the floating docks that would be moved into place in downtown Annapolis and allow access to all the boats (250 boats at the sailboat show; 400 at the powerboat show) on site (check out cool video of the crew moving docks to let sailboats out so power boats could move in).

Mike on the water crew of the Annapolis Boat Show.

I can’t beat the caption from the man who took the photo: “Hey, Mike. You almost look like you know what you’re doing.” Photo: Ivan Edwards

I worked on the land crew, directing traffic and helping vendors move their trailered boats and accessories onto site.

We both worked long days and earned a bit of overtime.

On days that we left the boat at 6:15 a.m. and didn’t get home until after 7:00 p.m., what would Honey do?

Our dismal failure to get Honey to “go potty” on the boat told us she could wait until we got home. But should she?

Maybe a pet sitter could keep her company and a break from the boat.

But could we find a pet sitter able to lift her into the cockpit and get her safely off the boat whether at high tide or low?

Honey the golden retriever on the finger pier near the boat.

As the tide goes down, I have to make bigger jumps to get onto the boat. Can somebody do something to fix that?

Finding The Best Sitter

I started my search on the internet.

Annapolis has tons of dog daycare, pet sitters, dog walkers, and kennels.

While I’m sure Honey would enjoy socializing with other dogs and new people at a dog day care, none started at 6:00 a.m. And I can’t even imagine adding a 3-4 mile walk each way on top of a busy and physical day of work.

And while I’m sure any number of the pet sitters and dog walkers would normally be a great fit, I didn’t see anything that led me to believe any of them were boat savvy.

In my mind’s eye, I saw both Honey and a dog walker falling off the narrow finger pier where our boat was docked and not being able to get out of the water until help came along.

No. Just no.

Finally, I got the brainstorm to ask the dock master of the marina hosting us if she knew of any boat-friendly dog walkers or pet sitters. And luckily she did.

The Nautical Pet Sitter

Our marina was part of a large apartment complex. And Dena, the dock master, knew of a tenant who walked dogs. She even had boat experience.

Watergate Pointe Apartments and Marina.

I have no picture of Blaise. So imagine a tall, attractive woman with long hair who is totally covered in Honey fur.

When I met Blaise, I discovered she had been a racing sailor. So she would certainly not be intimidated by a rocking boat and would know how to handle lines to get the boat close enough to the dock to get Honey on and off.

And she was strong enough to lift 50 pounds of love and fluff into the cockpit.

Best of all, she was a dog lover with a big dash of common sense. By the time we finished talking, I became convinced Blaise would probably be a better caretaker for Honey than we were.

What Did Honey Think

During the long weeks working the boat show, Honey was a little clingy. She had gotten used to having us all on board together most days.

But maybe she was just trying to make us feel like she missed us.

On one of my day’s off, I ran into Blaise walking her own dog. She invited me and Honey to join her and some other tenants sitting on their patio.

Apparently Honey knew our “neighbors” already. Because she pulled me up the hill to the apartment where her friends had a container of treats waiting for her.

My dog knew more people at the marina/apartment complex than I did.

Honey the golden retriever makes a friend at the dog beach.

I have to greet my public. It’s my duty as a golden retriever.

I think finding a pet sitter to feed Honey and give her exercise off the boat was important. But giving her a chance to socialize with other people was crucial.

Honey needs company. And Blaise was an important part of us being able to work the boat show without neglecting Honey.

In fact, I’ve come to realize there are lots of great reasons to hire a pet sitter.

Love Your Dog, Hire A Pet Sitter

When we traveled to Panama for a month several years ago, hiring a pet sitter was the obvious choice.

But our experience in Annapolis has gotten me thinking of other times pet lovers might find it useful to hire a sitter for a short term.

Staying In A Hotel

Many “pet-friendly” hotels don’t allow you to leave your dog unattended in the room.

Honey the golden retriever in a hotel.

I always sleep better in a hotel.

As long as you’re vacationing in a place that welcomes dogs nearly everywhere, you might want to find a local pet sitter to stay with your pup while you’re out and about.

When we traveled to a family funeral earlier this year, we were lucky to find a hotel that allowed Honey to stay alone in our room. But if that had not been an option, I would definitely have looked for a local pet sitter.

When Your Work Schedule Changes

If you’ve ever had your pup bark at you for dinner an hour early after daylight savings ends, you know they’re creatures of habit.

If a new job has you working a different schedule, a pet sitter might help you transition to a new schedule gradually with less stress to you and your dog.

Even a temporary change, like seasonal overtime, might be a good reason to hire a sitter.

You’ve Adopted A New Dog

Since the United States does not offer paid family leave for parents of children, I won’t hold my breath for companies accepting adopting a dog as a legitimate absence.

But bonding with a new dog is important. And a dog from a shelter or some types of rescue might need more time to adapt to home life. Why not hire a pet sitter to ease the transition for both of you?

You Have A Puppy

When Honey was a youngster, I took her to work with me in her crate. It made house training swift and reliable (something I somewhat regret now that I’d like her to learn to relieve herself on the boat).

Honey the golden retriever puppy.

I’m so adorable pet sitters would probably PAY to spend time with me.

If you want to potty train a puppy perfectly, find a pet sitter to help with those midday breaks.

Your Dog Is A Social Butterfly

Generally dogs prefer to be with their humans. Heck, I suspect cats do too. They just wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it.

For Honey, boat life is ideal because she always knows where we are and we’re usually together.

Harley, Jaxson, and Cathy with Pam & Honey in Charleston.

Honey is such a social butterfly that she made us sail to Charleston just to meet the golden doodle crew.

For dogs that are particularly sociable, a human break in the middle of the day might break up a lonely day.

Your Dog Is High-Energy

Yes, most dogs sleep a large part of the day. But that doesn’t mean that some dogs don’t need to work their brains or bodies on a more regular basis.

An energetic dog walker or dog day care might be just the solution for your high-energy pup.

If You Love Your Dog…

We love our dogs. So we do all kinds of things to make them happy.

Honey the golden retriever visits Ego Alley before the boat show.

You only brought me to Annapolis BEFORE the boat show. Were you trying to keep me from seeing all those cool catamarans you can’t afford?

I’m very thankful we were able to find a great pet sitter who could handle the weird situation of us being on a boat.

Maybe you should start thinking of how you’d find the perfect pet sitter if you ever need one.

Your Turn: Have you ever used a pet sitter, dog walker, or dog day care? Was it a good experience?


  1. Good grief, I was starting to wonder if you guys were still alive and well. And I’m glad you are. I have that more than once about offering dog walking to dog owners visiting National park areas. I personally would pay someone to get the dogs, and walk them while we are away.

    • So many places in National Parks are off-limits to pets. I think it could be an amazing business if you were available to walk dogs around campgrounds while their people are off hiking or seeing the sights.

      Of course, it would mean you’d have to spend an awful lot of time walking around campgrounds–probably not the prettiest areas you know. 🙂

      And yes. we’re alive and well. A combination of exhaustion and poor internet (who’d have though the US east coast would be so inaccessible?) have had me offline.

  2. LOL! I barely trust a neighbor, let alone a dog-walker! Never have hired one!

    My next door neighbor hired one through a company. Seemed nice enough. My neighbor’s dogs wear GPS collars that my neighbor can track with her phone. The dog walker claimed (and was being paid for) 30 minute walks each visit. With the help of the GPS app, my neighbor could see the dogs got no walk at all :-\

    Sorry I missed you in Annapolis. Our Myrtle Beach trip got pushed out due to back to back storms so we didn’t get back until October (and the boat show). We also returned to learn Wilson’s health is failing faster than expected so sadly we are busy with that.

    • Sorry to hear Wilson isn’t doing well. Sending every well wish to both of you.

      And we’ll be back next year. We’ll catch up again.

      I’ve been very fortunate with 2 pet sitters and not so much with one (found out later she was giving my dog beer!).

      I can see how a high tech approach like your neighbors’ would be useful. Luckily for us, we had lots of people around the apartment complex/marina coming up to greet Honey by name even though we had never met them. Apparently Honey was quite the social butterfly while we were working!

  3. We definitely have someone come over and take care of our little ones when we’re gone. I couldn’t imagine not having an in-house individual while we travel (but we currently have kitties)

  4. I’ve used pet sitters before – I’ve had some pretty good ones. However, they’ve all either moved or don’t pet sit anymore so I did use a kennel for B once. I don’t think she particularly enjoyed her time there but I did locate another potential kennel I am going to check out that seems much roomier and more interactive with the dogs. If I ever needed to – it would be nice to know I had someplace to take her. It’s next door to where we did some fun training a few years back and I remember seeing the dogs that were in boarding and they all looked well cared for and pretty happy.

    Glad you found such a great pet sitter for Honey and with boat experience too!

    • The trend in kennels (and in shelters, as well) is to create areas that feel more like home–with soft furniture, windows, and fun toys.

      Hopefully you will find a trustworthy place to help you watch B if you need to leave her behind for a short while.

  5. Lynda Fisher says:

    Seems that Honey is enjoying living on the boat. I bet she’ll be sorry to leave her pet sitter and all of the socializing.

    • For Honey, the best part of boat life is flirting with all the new people she meets everywhere we go.

      That, and rolling in dead fish. 🙂

  6. I trust three people. ME, my vet tech, Emily and my husband, in that order. Before I thought to check with our vet to see if any of the staff pet sat, I did interview one dog walker, who came to the house. She was a perfectly lovely woman, and we took the dogs for a walk, where I watched my dogs walk in the middle of the road. I cried after she left. I was beside myself because I was going to Nashville and didn’t have anyone to trust for the morning walk. That’s when someone suggested checking with my vet, and I discovered that our favorite tech, did pet sitting/walking. Now she’s my go-to. And it doesn’t hurt that she has a great medical background, because yes, I do worry about those things. 🙂

    I think you know this, but if you are ever up my way and need a pet sitter, I’d gladly take that sweet girl. I’m glad you found someone that you all liked to take care of her, I’m it made those long days a tad easier.

    • Finding someone trustworthy who you know would make the decisions for your dog that you would is so important.

      When we went to Panama, I was flooded with anxiety about that very fact. Because we would be very difficult to reach and I wanted to be sure whoever was watching Honey would take care of her the way I would in case of an emergency.

      We were lucky to find that person–a good friend who was just starting to work as a pet sitter. But I was sorely tempted to believe that some of my online friends were more reliable than people I knew IRL–which is my long way of telling you you’re lucky I didn’t show up at your door in 2013 with treats for Sampson and Delilah, Honey, and a box of her favorite toys. 🙂

      So glad your vet tech is such a great choice for you. And know that I’d be happy to travel to Connecticut to spend some fun time with Sampson and Delilah.

  7. Wow…looks like you scored the lottery on a boat friendly dog walker. Way to go!

    • It would have been more economical to anchor. But just imagine how hard it would be to find a pet sitter with her own dinghy? 🙂

  8. We found a pet sitter this fall. With all our nose work trials and traveling, we simply could not expect our usual friends and neighbors to watch us all the time. We asked one of our instructors if she did pet sitting now that she had lost both her dogs to old age. She does sometimes, but she suggested a college girl she knows who is into dogs and dog sports. We had her come and meet us and when my sisters went to camp, she came and stayed with me. It was a super fun weekend and I got totally spoiled. We have her scheduled to watch my sisters in December when I travel for two days to a nose work trial with Mom. We are really happy to have found her! Finding a good sitter is the real challenge!

    • It is such a blessing to find someone you trust to stay in your home with your precious family members. So glad your mom has found someone good.

      It must give her one less thing to worry about when she’s away. And I’m sure she makes it much happier for you when your mom is gone.

  9. Well, hello there! I’ve been wondering when we’d hear from you again!

    We’ve been using the services of our pet sitters for years! The latest was when Sam’s hip was so painful that one Saturday that I had to take him to the ER. Our regular sitter was – thankfully – available. So, any time you have to take a human family member to the hospital is also a good time to employ your pet sitter.

    Glad you were able to find such a capable pet sitter for Honey!! Love and puppy kisses to all of you from my girls and me!

  10. I’m so glad you found the perfect person! It sounds like this was wonderful for all of you. I would have so much trouble finding a pet sitter in a new place–I’m so particular about who I trust Barley with that I’m not sure how we’d all survive that! Rye is so much easier that it wouldn’t be as difficult to find someone I could trust with her–as long as I didn’t have to worry about the boat part! How lucky that you found someone with that skill set!

  11. I was just thinking of you recently, and lo and behold, a new post popped up! 🙂
    How lucky for you to find the perfect pet sitter for Honey, and it sounds like it has been a great experience for her too! The best dog sitters go above and beyond.
    We’ve been lucky to mostly have family and friends to pet-sit for us, but we did hire a professional a couple times many years ago. I think it is best for the pets to be able to stay in their own home, so I’m glad more and more pet sitters have been popping up in our area.

  12. I came here to make sure you were still alive or not captured by pirates. Glad to see you are alive and well. (At least as of Oct 27…) 🙂

    We recently hired a pet sitter for the first time ever. (Normally my sis and her corgi take care of Rita if we’re on vacation or away for a long day.) We were going on vaca at a time when my sis couldn’t help out. I was SO stressed about what was the right choice… booking Rita into a doggy hotel or having some “stranger” come stay with her. Rita isn’t super social so in the end we decided to go with the pet sitter so Rita could stay home in her own comfy surroundings. Think we made the right choice!

  13. I own a pet care business and work as a pet sitter. I have several hundred clients and I treat each pet as if it were my own. I’ve learned through my experience that dogs especially seem to need more attention when their human is away. I follow the client’s directions on routine and otherwise spoil each animal as much as possible without going against the client’s instructions. I love it. It’s the best job in the world for me after retiring from a career in state government.

  14. Patricia Dareneau says:

    We found a great place for our dogs over Thanksgiving through Doggy Vacay.

    • Excellent! A friend of mine used to be a Dog Vacay host and if every host is as good as she is, your dogs will have a wonderful time over the holidays.