By Cari Gervin
Community News Writer
After 32 years as a schoolteacher, Ruth French needed something to fill her retired days. Instead of taking care of children, she decided she would take care of pets.
Mrs. French had always owned a dog or a cat or two. (Her current pups are Barnum Bailey, a toy Poodle, and Comus, a yellow Lab.)
She loved the work that her pet sitter did in New Jersey. Her new career seemed obvious.
For three years in Jersey and four on the mountain, Mrs. French has provided an alternative to kennels for pet owners on vacation.
She said most pets like being kept in their own surroundings on their own schedule. The homeowners like having their house checked daily, their plants watered and their mail picked up.
Mrs. French said she starts her day around 5:15 a.m. After walking and feeding her own dogs, she goes house to house to take care of everybody else’s. Some houses she will visit several times a day, depending on the needs of the pets.
At peak vacation season, Mrs. French has several part-time employees helping her. In order to better care for sick and aging pets, Mrs. French has just hired Alix Parks, who is a certified wildlife rehabilitator and can administer shots.
While hanging out with cute pets might seem like a low-stress job, Mrs. French has some horror stories. She has been bitten numerous times. She has locked herself out of a house on the brow and had to crawl back inside through a doggie door.
And then there are the sad stories.
“When you have to call the owners and let them know their dog has died, that’s really hard,” Mrs. French said.
But Tattletails takes care of more than just dogs. Mrs. French said she has handled fish, ferrets, snakes, iguanas, exotic birds and even poultry.
“Not that that’s my favorite, but I’ve done it,” Mrs. French said.
Still, not every animal should be pet-sat, she stressed. She conducts pre-visits to make sure the animal is appropriate for her care.
A pet with many medical problems might be better off being boarded at a veterinarian, for instance, while a homeowner who doesn’t want her giant Rottweiler to have full range of the home for a week might be better off with a kennel.
E-mail Cari Gervin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tattletails Pet Sitters can be reached at 886-2140 or 605-7609.