Saturday, December 20, 2008

Training Rant - Further to the Dog Walkers Rant ...

So, further to my rant a few days ago, I found this post on CraigsList after putting together my previous training post. I thought I'd follow up with it. An interesting look at Dog Walkers.

Here's the link to the CraigsList posting. It's too long to Screen-Cap, so I copied and pasted instead. I have not edited this posting, nor have I removed the name of the Dog Walking company mentioned. Everything below this dotted line is verbatim to the post.

After reading this, do you find that it changes your opinion of Dog Walking? Do the good things still outnumber the bad? (Personally, I don't think it's changed my opinion either way)


dogwalker/petsitter to avoid (mississauga, ontario)

I recently had a bad experience with a person offering dogwalking and dogsitting services under the name "At The Very Leash".

She had been walking, feeding and exercising my dogs on weekends. I was also looking for someone to stay with the dogs for 5 days while we went away, and she said she was available. She had references, is involved in cat rescue, and said her schedule would be very light that week.

The entire time I was gone, I was unable to reach her by phone or email. The one time I did finally reach her, she was very vague about what was going on.

When I came home, my dogs were highly stressed. They clearly had not gotten sufficient exercise. Our young dog had an open sore on her paw, which I now realize was because she was left alone and confined for so long that she licked her paws raw.

There was a very bad smell in our spare bedroom, and the couch in that room was covered in white fur that was clearly not from either of our dogs.

I called and emailed her. Her response: the key left in the mailbox. She is supposed to walk my dogs on weekends - the only way I can go to work, as I work very long hours on weekends - and this was her way of quitting. No notice, no discussion. Just left me high and dry with no explanation.

Several phone calls and emails later, she finally emailed me. (She has never returned my phone call and has not spoken to me about this to this day.) She had a long story about how busy and insane her life became the week she was supposed to house-sit for us.

She admit that the dogs were alone from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day. That may not sound like much to some people, but it is not what we agreed. My younger dog is crated when we're not home, and we *never* leave her crated for that long. And that's if this person really came home at 4:00.

I understand that life happens and we can all become busier than we expected. HOWEVER, most of the things she was so busy with, she would have known in advance. If she was too busy to house/dog-sit, she shouldn't have accepted the gig. And other things that came up that week, such as cat rescue, she could have turned down for one week.

The bad smell and white fur in the spare bedroom turned out to be critically sick kittens she was fostering. She never asked my permission to bring kittens in the house, or informed me she was doing this. Obviously if I hadn't seen the fur and asked about the smell, she never would have told me about them.

I have asked repeatedly what condtions the kittens have. I would like to ask my vet if it's contagious to dogs. She has never responded.

"At The Very Leash" is not mature enough or reliable enough to run her own dogwalking and pet-sitting business. Please avoid her!

In case she changes her "company" name, her own initials are LH.


GoLightly said...

Holy Crap.
They bad ones are sure out there. It's the main reason I couldn't :hire" one.
I work in an industrial area, which isn't suitable for dog-walking. I take my girls to the near-by cemetery for that:) yes, I scoop and poop, I mean..
The groundskeepers are very kind. I do not walk them off leash. Great for skeery stuff:)
I've seen a dog-walker walking up and down my busy street, with all kinds of dogs, and wondered WTF, why are you walking them here??
Scary, very very scary.

Splash said...

Well, I think as in so many other things, you get what you pay for.

I very occasionally use a dog sitter when I have a something that might delay me from getting home in under 8 hours. My dogs stay indoors. The guy I use charges $25, comes over beforehand for familiarization, leaves a "report card", and two very happy dogs. I just have him take the dogs to the back yard, and I know he plays with them, as the grass is pretty trampled.

He's not cheap. You have to schedule in advance, as he gets booked up.

I think if you are single and have pets, it's critically important to have someone reliable that you can call upon. It might be an emergency, an illness, or a out-of-area work thing, but it's good to have that option available and the kinks worked out.

I have big active dogs (high energy agility dogs). I just don't trust a neighbor or a friend to handle this. I prefer a reliable pro. Emphasis on the reliable.

GoLightly said...

Splash, you can pay big bucks for these services and still not get the service you expected. My sister spares no expense with her dog. She did not hire based on price alone. She still had problems, and it took some looking to find a good one. The place I checked out for doggy day care for puppy looked excellent. Clean, well-run, dogs looked happy. Very expensive. I still got bad reports on it, and decided not to use it, after all. I'd want a guarantee/bonded/insured person, with an interview, as you've done, before I'd let a stranger near my dog. Even then, accidents can happen.
It's sorta like hiring a nanny:)

I am very lucky my dogs can go to work with me, or stay home with their daddy.

Merry Christmas to all and especially to DDF!

laura k said...

Hi, I hope it's ok to leave a comment on this post, 3 years later! I'm the person who posted that warning on Craigslist - and I happen to stumble on this post today.

That experience was a nightmare - the second nightmare I had with dogwalkers that year. Another woman didn't show up all weekend, leaving my dogs stranded for 12 hours. This person had walked and cared for our dogs lovingly for many months, and had been extremely reliable - then suddenly disappeared, and I never heard from her again!

My partner and I work 12-hour days on the weekend and we rely on dogwalkers to make it work. On the whole, my experiences with dog-care people have been excellent. But these few bad experiences have really shaken me.

In response to Splash, "you get what you pay for" certainly does not apply here. We pay very generously, more than we can actually afford (we are working-class people, not wealthy by any stretch).

We pay well because caring for animals (or children or seniors) is important work that should be well compensated. And we pay a lot because we love our dogs and want the best for them.

Splash's comment assumes that the woman's bad judgment, negligence and lies were somehow related to being underpaid. This assumption is quite wrong.