Part of pet sitting involves the death of pets one cares for. It is not something people discuss or mention when you decide to pursue a career in pet sitting. Most people assume that pet sitting is all puppy kisses, kitten love and hugging horses. Sometimes pet sitting is dirty disgusting and messy, both physically and emotionally.
I am a little unusual in my area in that I care for farm animals as well as household pets. Most pet sitters in my area only care for dogs and cats. I care for dogs and cats of course but also horses, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, iguanas and the occasional bird.
The dirty and disgusting parts include cleaning up chicken carcasses after a fox finds the flock or a hawk tries to take them. The chickens are free range so you have to expect some death there. Lambing season is cute and fun but also bloody, nasty and just all around yuck until the lambs are cleaned up. Most years all the lambs survive and thrive but at times sometimes goes wrong and they have to be euthanized or one finds them dead from unknown causes-usually worms or an infection. I’ve cleaned up more dog and cat puke than I care to remember. In spite of the yuck I love it. I share amazing connections with the animals I care for. Which brings me to death.
I am always grateful when pet owners contact me to let me know their pet has died. Sometimes the person is crying so hard that they get the news out in a rushing emotionally sentence prior to hanging up. Other times I don’t hear from people for a while to watch their pets and the next thing I know I get a call asking to come meet their new pet. Some people do not want me to have to handle the animals end of life care and I respect that but am capable of doing it. I’ve been witness to lambs, ewes and a ram dying, horses dogs and cats. While never easy I find I remain fairly strong and in control until I am in private to grieve the loss.
Tonight I received a call to let me know a dog named Piper who I have cared for eleven years had died. She had been slowly declining and I wasn’t sure how long she would be around. I have cried most of the. night. It hit me hard tonight for two reasons. Piper and her owners were one of my first and definitely my longest client outside of the farm. The other reason was Piper and her daily walks was one of the things that kept me eating and having gas money every week when I was struggling to make ends meet after my divorce. Quite a few times I only had pipers check to buy groceries for the week. I realized that she had helped me survive single life in so many ways. I had to walk her every day Monday through Friday so I had to go out of my apartment even when the depths of depression told me to stay home. I am in such a different place now-emotionally mentally and spiritually and I thank Piper and her family for keeping me going when I am sure they had no idea that is what they were doing. So I bid Piper goodbye and will remember her fondly for years to come.