Sometimes certified professional pet sitter Lorre Schneider gets to be a hero — that was the case last August when she noticed her charge Bailie, a Portuguese water dog, had blood in his urine. Schneider told Bailie’s owner Duane Long immediately and surgery was scheduled to remove a bladder tumor.
“Bailie is doing well and Duane really has shown his gratitude to me, he’s very appreciative,” Schneider said. “I feel like it’s part of my job to notice what goes out as well as what goes in.”
After being laid off in 2014 from her job as a pathology assistant in a Burien hospital, Schneider and her husband Steven decided to move to Sequim in 2015, where she’d vacationed as a child.
“I always wanted a job working with animals, so I decided to do what I love, what felt right in my heart,” the soft-spoken Schneider said. “I’ve never been happier.”
Before she leaped into the pet sitting business, Schneider said she proposed to volunteer at Stinky Dog U-Bathe in Port Angeles in exchange for owner Ann Taylor teaching her everything Taylor knew about dogs.
“The store got a lot of calls for pets to be watched in their homes, so I decided to do it. I never imagined running my own business,” the 57-year-old Schneider said.
She launched Reliable Home Pet Care 14 months ago and has built up a steady client roster of 20-plus — and wishes she had more hours in a day.
“I am certified through Pet Sitters International through an online course and I’m insured and bonded,” Schneider said.
“There are a lot of pet sitters in town, so please get references and be careful who you trust with your pet — they’re not all as big of animal lovers as we’d like to think,” Schneider cautioned.
Once a client contacts her, Schneider will set up an interview, gleaning detailed information about the pet.
“Routine is important, so I need to know that, plus its likes and dislikes, health issues, medications, how it’s with other dogs or other people, what scares it,” Schneider said. “I do like to get a good background on its health and well-being.”
Schneider explained that her services are highly variable, depending on the client’s needs.
“If the client needs me there at 4 a.m., I’m there at 4 a.m. Everyone is different. Sometimes I hold people’s keys so I can come and go. Probably most of my visits are vacation sittings — I’ve gone as long as 15 days for one,” Schneider said. “I had one job 24/7 for six days with a sick dog when the owners had to be out of town. I make sure the pets get everything they need to make them happy. Everybody gets lots of attention. I consider them people’s children because people treat them like children,” Schneider said.
“Typically, I might drop in on some kitties early in the morning to give them fresh food and water, scoop their litter and give them some play time and affection. Many kitties get two visits per day, so I may see them again in the evening,” Schneider explained.
“On an all-day sit, typically with a dog (or two), I usually will make sure they’ve had breakfast then pack their things for an outing to the beach or Railroad Bridge Park. Or sometimes just for a car ride, depending on the weather,” Schneider said. “Many dogs have walking areas or trails near their home so we often go there as well. There is play time, snack time and nap time, so there are many similarities to caring for children.”
Some of the breeds she cares for are German shepherds, Jack Russell and rat terriers, a German shepherd/wolf hybrid, greyhounds, Australian cattle dogs plus a lot of mixed breeds.
“The fascinating part of this all is the breed-specific behavior,” Schneider noted, like dachshunds who think they’re big dogs despite being in a small package.
“There’s not any animal I’ve turned down — I’ve had a few farm jobs watching goats — and one of my favorites would be rodents because I had them as a kid.”
Asked what she’s learned from dogs, Schneider said, “They have a lot going on in their heads — they have all the emotions as people do — they just don’t have the words. They’re very quick and when they meet you, they probably know more about you than you know about them. Their nose is their world. Walks are like recreation to them and the ‘sniff’ is the focus.”
Schneider said she’s learned that there are some dogs who are fine with boarding and some who need to stay in their homes when their owners are away. She added that home sitting is almost always recommended for cats.
“The best part of my job is getting to know each pet as an individual and developing friendships with them. It is a privilege to be trusted with people’s precious pets because I also see them as family and treat them the way I’d want someone to treat my dog,” Schneider concluded.