If a friend goes out of town, I’ll water his plants, collect his mail, and maybe even throw water on the fire I started while roasting marshmallows in his bathtub, but he better know better than to ask me to watch his pets.
If you get roped into watching a pet, here are some tips for the absolute beginner:
Always confirm the pet is still alive when entrusted to your care. Whenever a pet dies, I ask a friend if he’ll watch the pet and say it’s sleeping when I hand it over. When he discovers the pet is dead, he just might blame himself and try and trick me with a new identical and most importantly, free replacement. This is also how I replace broken furniture and moldy food.
Take a picture the very first day so you can be certain to buy a replacement pet as identical as possible to the original if it dies or gets lost.
Take a picture of the owner the very first day so you can be certain to find a replacement owner as identical as possible to the original if the owner dies or gets lost.
If you are watching a toddler and your house hasn’t been baby-proofed, experts advise getting down on ground level to see things from their perspective and ensure there aren’t any sharp objects or items they could pull down on themselves. In a similar vein, if you’re watching a dog, experts advise getting down on ground level and chewing on everything in sight, just to make sure it’s safe and tasty.
While you’re at ground level, you might also sniff the carpet to determine if any of the spots emit a scent that makes you feel like peeing. If so, immediately remove these areas of your carpet.
Make sure and always ask about the pet’s ownership history. Has the dog always been owned solely by Todd or did he first purchase Rover together with his ex-wife? This isn’t exactly important for the care of the pet but might be a good way to obtain juicy gossip about why Todd’s marriage fell apart and whether his ex-wife is seeing anybody and what were the things she didn’t like about Todd so you can avoid doing those things after you ask her out.
Some experts say it’s healthy to talk to pets, but don’t be disappointed when they don’t talk back. If you’re a type hyper-sensitive to feelings of being ignored, isolated, or disrespected, talking to the pet is probably not a good activity unless you’re managing to talk it into attacking those other people who disrespect you.
Be frank with your friend about the risk something could go wrong with the pet and how that would impact your friendship. Would he blame you if he returned and the pet had died? Would he blame you if the pet was missing? Would he blame you if you forgot you were watching his pet and went out of town yourself?