Sunday, November 29, 2020

Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Sitter, by Laura Marchant

Laura Marchant, June 2020

Laura Marchant, in her fifties, found herself downsized out of the insurance company, thankfully with a good redundancy payout. It wasn't enough to retire on, but it was enough for her to take some time to figure out what she's going to do next. Ultimately, she decides she's going to start a pet sitting/dog walking business. But first, she tells us about her experience as a dog owner, and  Brece, the Golden retriever who became the first dog she acquired as an adult.

And this is where I started to get annoyed.

She proceeds to describe a number of unwise decisions, starting with determining whether the breeder she was getting her puppy from was aa puppy farm (British for puppy mill) by asking her, and ignoring the evidence of the mother dog and her puppies being in the barn, and the area being dotted with lots of poop that wasn't cleaned up--even knowing there was someone coming to see the puppies.

But she loved that dog, and she did learn some things along the way. It does make sense that she decided she wanted to become a pet sitter, when she had to make a career change.

Marchant gives us a lively account of her experiences, and it's very entertaining. She loves the dogs she cares for, even the really difficult ones. Along the way, she meets both interesting and maddening people, and finds ways to cope.

I find the idea of a professional dog walker (this is the more profitable part of the business, she explains) having clients' dogs off leash in an unfenced area really alarming, but the UK is different, and it's accepted there. Certainly being able to run off leash lets the dogs get better exercise! However, it also leads to some alarming incidents, such as when some horse riders on the same beach she was exercising the dogs on, decided to run their horses right through her pack of client dogs. The dogs of course scattered, but most of them regrouped around her pretty quickly. Two, though, became separated. One responded to the temptation of a man with a ball launcher, and she quickly retrieved him. The other, though, simply bolted and she searched extensively for that dog. Her efforts included checking to see if the dog was waiting at the car, but she wasn't. Returning to the dog's home, she didn't find the dog waiting on her doorstep, and was pretty much in despair at that point--and then realized the dog was hiding in the shadows, not far away.

There's a lot here for a dog lover to find sweet, entertaining, heartwarming, or heart-stopping.

I also found some things irritating, such as her complete and confident belief in dog ESP. Every incident she cited to "prove" it was more easily explained by a dog's hearing (yes, your dog can hear your car coming, your specific car, before anyone else hears it at all), and body language. Dogs do understand more of what we say than we're encouraged to believe--but more than anything else, they read our body language. Your dog cares less about what you're saying, than about what your body language conveys, and body language never lies. So if, for instance, you always end a call with one of your kids by saying, "See you soon," whether you expect your child home in five minutes or five days, your dog can tell from you body language whether you're really expecting them to arrive in a few minutes, or not. What's funny is that in her appendices, she cites Cesar Milan's books a couple of times. Had she been reading more attentively, she could have learned a great deal about the importance of our body language to dogs!

Anyway, it's an entertaining book, with stories dog loves will appreciate, and if you're considering using a pet sitter or dog walker, you'll perhaps learn some of the questions you want to ask.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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