Why I am a Critter
The alarm was blaring, hurting my ears. As I escaped to
the front of the house, two police officers walked up to
me, "Who are you?" the taller one asked.
"I am the critter sitter," I responded, smiling.
They looked at each other oddly. "You're a critter
"Yes," was the only response I could muster up.
I explained why the alarm was tripped.
Satisfied, they walked away but I heard one of
them say, "Imagine, she's a critter sitter," and they
From that day on, I began to study, research, log, and
feel exactly WHY I AM A CRITTER SITTER.
ANIMAL PEOPLE, an upscale boutique and grooming salon in Boca
Raton, Florida, was ahead of its time in some ways. It
was such a fun store for people and pets. We had
fashion shows for pets, Halloween parties in which pets
and their owners were dressed in costumes, and many
other fun activities. We even did a benefit show at the
Polo Club. We were in the newspaper at least nine times
and my partner, Rose, was interviewed on TV. It pains me
to this day that it didn't survive.
Often my business partner and I meet former customers. They
tell us how much they miss our store. The larger stores
present some of the same activities we used to do.
Their adoption programs are important because they help
so many critters find good homes.
Being semi-retired after Animal People, I finished a
novel I had been working on for several years. I am
hoping to get it published, no easy feat these days. I
needed exercise and decided to walk with a friend and
her two dogs. At least it got me out and away from my
novel in progress.
Kathryn, the president and CEO of Critter Sitter
Inc., persuaded me to walk and earn. Let me add that I
met Kathryn in the beginning phases of Animal People.
We worked to mutually develop our businesses. She
fortunately has gone on to have a very successful
business, as did our former groomer. It is a great
feeling to know that Rose and I have been instrumental
in aiding these two women in the development of their
And so my critter sitting career began with two daily
accounts, an apricot Mini-Poodle named Poupee and a
large Siberian Husky named Amoroso--quite a dichotomy.
It was fun. They became my substitute for Starsky, my
dog. I treated them like they were my very own. Their
owners knew and appreciated this, which gave me a
feeling of accomplishment.
After a while, I started to pick up more clients, earn
more money and still have the flexibility of my time,
which I treasure. The thought of doing a nine-to-five
job frightens me. I have been fortunate most of my life
to be entrepreneurial.
As I got busier, I walked more dogs, and I picked up
We always clean up after our dogs as a professional
courtesy to the neighbors in the area and it is the
law. To me, personally, this shows respect for my
neighbors and their property. It is not pleasant but
certainly needs to be done. As far as the cats' litter
boxes, I made it fun (if that is at all possible) by
pretending I was panning for gold. (An old memory!)
Perhaps I was going through people withdrawal. I had
always been around a lot of people; or perhaps it was
due to the daily activity of Animal People. I missed
the store. In retrospect, I was depressed. I was
questioning why I was animal sitting and not doing more
with my life.
Our society judges not who we are as a person and our
good deeds, but what we do, how we dress and look, and
what we have materially. In the past in Europe, it was
considered rude to ask what a person does for a living.
Truthfully, I don't know if this has changed since we
have become a global economy.
Most of my life, I have not been concerned with what
others thought of me or my actions; however I began to
see a pattern of looks and behavior when someone asked
me what I did for a living. People seemed to regard me
in a different manner as soon as I responded, "I'm a
critter sitter." It was as if a critter sitter was
mindless, lazy, and could not do anything else. I saw
it each time someone asked me. I could tell by their
face and reactions what kind of person they were. If
they were true animal people, then the wonderful stories
flowed and there was an immediate connection.
Needless to say, our clients do not feel this way.
After all, we are in charge of their pets (most consider
them family members) and their homes. I even spoke to a
therapist friend about my feelings. She explained,
"There is no better charge than to care for God's
helpless creatures as they are here for us to learn
love, joy, nurturing, and how to understand and accept
For those of you who do not know the many duties of a
critter sitter, I would like to list them in no
particular order of importance; don't hold your
Enlist Hurricane procedures
Pick up poop
Speak with upset owners
Scoop and change litter boxes
Pick up mail
Give medication, including shots
Put out trash
Bring in newspaper
Respond to any crisis which arises
Overnight visits are a different scenario altogether.
We do whatever is necessary for pets while they are in
our care. We drive in all weather, including
hurricanes, and all traffic (including intercostal
bridges and trains). Holidays and weekends are the
busiest. Some sitters have 10 to 18 stops a day. And
walking in the hot summer heat of Florida is no picnic!
We do not, however, clean the house only that which
pertains to the pets.
Besides being a growing industry, up 763 percent in
the last years, it is rewarding emotionally,
spiritually, and financially. Each sitter is a
sub-contractor, in charge of her own clients with
Kathryn and the office overseeing and helping when
necessary. There are many blessings and many perks.
The people I meet are wonderful. Animal people are
different! Some homes are spectacular and some are
comfortable. I see how differently people live and how
most pets are pampered and sadly some are not. I have
made many good friends. I accompanied one of my clients,
Kathy, and her cats, Tia and Hobie Cat, to their
impressive home in Colorado. I have cried with clients
who lost their “pals.” The experiences I have had are
memorable, emotional and certainly entertaining. Due to
a lifestyle change, I am presently doing only overnight
jobs for five clients. When I need a “fur-fix,” it is
then I am grateful that I am a Critter Sitter!