last Friday was my birthday and I had planned to drive down to Morro Bay with my dog and this gal who has been my driver for the past six months. Things started not seeming right with this person on Halloween and I began a search for another driver. After a couple of weeks, there was time for things to cool off. I decided to give the person the benefit of the doubt and a second chance and hired her again to take me shopping. More problems and she was having personal issues. OK. stuff happens, right.
Well, I realized that there was actually something completely else that I wanted to do on my birthday (rather than go to Morro Bay) and I did not know how to get it all worked out yet it came together very easily. There was even a Wags Hotel in Redwood City (where the event I wanted to go to was being held) and they were offering a FREE first stay for the dog. Next, my roommate decided he wanted to go to Redwood City to visit a friend of his and he would rent the car. Then he changed his itinerary to San Jose, but we could still drive together.
The Hotel Sofitel where the event I went to was being held is pet friendly and offering a discounted rate of only $99 but with all the other expenses I could not stay over. The hotel charges $20 a night per pet. So we decided to drive up and come back after the event (which ended around midnight). The Wag Hotel required more vaccinations than Cici has plus their hours would mean that instead of Cici playing with other dogs, she would mostly be in a strange room by herself. So I opted to leave Cici home. I figured that she would do better in her own home environment with familiar smells and items, toys and food.
It did not occur to me to look for a pet sitter. I called upon the driver gal (since she knows my dog and has worked with dogs) and my neighbor to look in on Cici. If the gal would walk Cici and feed her around 4 pm and my neighbor would check on her about 9 pm, I thought she would be OK. She mostly sleeps from 5 pm on most days/nights.
On Thursday, the gal drove me shopping and to dinner and I paid her and gave her the key and instructions.
On Friday, we left around noon and arrived back home around 3 a.m. Imagine my shock, when I saw that she had not bothered to show up and feed and walk my dog. Thankfully, Cici was just fine. I had left the door to the backyard open for her so she could do her business any time she wanted. And she must have spent the time sleeping away. Still, she was VERY happy to see us. And was rewarded for NOT tearing the house apart with some bacon and sausage we had brought back from breakfast at Denny’s.
The next morning, after a few hours of sleep, I discovered there was NO message on my phone, email or Facebook page from this person. What the heck was going on? I expected that at the very least there would be an explanation and apology. Instead there was nothing. As time went on, I became more livid. My neighbor came by and told me he just plain forgot to come by. He apologized and gave me the key back. I should have gotten his phone number to remind him since I knew that he has a bad memory. But what was up with the driver??? I sent her a nasty Facebook direct message and received no reply, no phone message.
By Monday, I decided to call the police and/or a lawyer (I have Legal Shield) for advice. Thinking about things this person told me about themselves had me more and more concerned. She has an arrest record for shoplifting and is not allowed to go into Target. She is very young with a five year old daughter who lives with her mother but she lives with a drug addict friend. She was concerned about being evicted and on her Facebook page she put up very strange, provocative (sexual) images and sayings. She was supposed to be going to Heald college to become a police officer yet this is how she conducts herself?
The lawyer said that he would call her and tell her to get the money and key back to me by Wednesday. She told him that her car broke down and that she would get me the friggin key and money whenever she could. Nasty and cursing at a lawyer. The lawyer did say that he managed to tell her that if anything happened to this house (if it were to be broken into while she still has a key), that she would be liable.
Now I do not believe for a minute that her car broke down. If so, and she were an honest and responsible person, she would have called and left me a phone message and apologized at the very least. Otherwise, she should have found a way to get here and GET THE JOB DONE (a ride from a friend, a bus, whatever). I have been told that people with arrest records cannot ever become police officers. And so I now believe this person to be a liar and a thief.
I sent her an email (after unfriending and blocking her on Facebook) letting her know that I do not believe her and that she needs to get the key and money to me by tomorrow. If she is unwilling to do anything else, she can MAIL the key and money.
I tried calling some professional pet sitters for tips how to avoid such a situation. One tip was to get references. Another was to not pay the person ahead of time. What would you do? I think that this situation is unique and I am endeavoring to learn from it (while processing my anger). I am thankful that I never drove down to Morro Bay with this person. And thrilled that Cici is such a rock star. I have left her alone for 2-4 hours maximum in the past. I would not ever leave her alone for 14 hours but next time, she will be with a reliable pet sitter who will love her and do the job.
Does a pet sitter need to be bonded and insured in order to be hired? Would you have a written contract even for a one time situation?
The Marriott Hotel nearby the Sofitel charges a $100 nonrefundable pet fee. There are other less expensive hotels in the area that are also pet friendly (Good Nite Inn, Motel 6) but not nearly the same quality of hotel accommodations and amenities for humans.
I have another driver in my neighborhood taking me shopping tomorrow. But so far, the drivers have not been very reliable. One gal could not even drive her own stick shift vehicle. Should I find another source to hire people other than craigslist? I cannot pay much but I try to go above and beyond (fed the other gal, took her to the movies one time, and accommodated her schedule and requests). A courteous, responsible and professional person communicates honestly and GETS THE JOB DONE NO MATTER WHAT. At least that is my standard. No More Flakes Need Apply.
DogVacay.com and other organizations provide in-home dog care while you are away. What do you do when you travel and cannot take your pets???