PET ANTICS

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By Jill Wild

In 2008, I successfully completed the NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) course at Box Hill Tafe. The course is government funded for budding business entrepreneurs. Upon completion, students walk away with a qualification in small business management and the chance to build their business empire.

I was never in any doubt as to what sort of business I wanted to start. I had always loved animals, so I put all my energy and passion into setting up a pet minding business, where I would make home visits. ‘I go to You’, was my catch phrase.

By November I was up and running, but my new found enthusiasm soon turned to trepidation. What if I was inundated with bookings over the Christmas Season? Would I be able to cope? I really knew nothing about business, except what I’d just learnt in the classroom. My fears were soon put to sleep, I had a grand total of two bookings by December, one of them being a friend. But, hey I was a business woman, ready to set the world on fire, move over Richard Branson.

Fast forward to 2017, my furry client list now looks impressive. From pampered moggies to pet sheep, I’ve looked after them all. Visiting homes from million dollar mansions to hovels that have made me throw up the stench was so bad. I have laughed and cried my way through minding them, in sometimes the most extreme weather conditions, declaring on many occasions to them that one day I would ‘Let the cat out of the bag’, and tell all of their crazy antics.

Minding animals is not rocket science but it has its challenges. Rocking up to a person’s place that you don’t know from a bar of soap, hoping their pet(s) are of the friendly variety and negotiating your way around a strangers home requires a degree of skill. The simple act of unlocking a front door can become a nightmare.

PRINCESS MOLLY

If ever there was a cat worthy of being called a Princess, it is Molly for sure. Molly is a Ragdoll, with the most spectacular glossy coat and piercing blue eyes. Her days are spent basking in the sun of whatever room in her house takes her fancy

Her home is her castle, and after making my first visit to her, I bestowed the title of Princess upon her. If she dared to venture outside to get those precious paws dirty, I had to put a lead on her, so she wouldn’t stray too far. She dined on the finest quality cat food and drank from a special little custom built water fountain on the kitchen bench. It was such a pleasure to mind this beautiful, privileged feline, and I enjoyed every moment of being her slave for three weeks.

BAILY

Baily is quite possibly the smartest dog I have ever had the pleasure of minding. He is a handsome Golden Retriever, who well and truly ‘pulled the wool over my eyes’ He was booked in for a daily visit with a half hour walk for four days. I was only vaguely familiar with the area where I was to walk him, so I decided to let him lead the way. BIG MISTAKE. Half way through the walk he plonked himself down and refused to move. When he decided to get up and continue on, he had no intention of turning around and heading home; instead we walked further and further into the abyss. He may not have been lost, but I certainly was. To add to our dilemma, we were caught in a torrential downpour, Baily loved it, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Our proposed half hour walk had turned into a two hour nightmare. What was that saying again? Oh yeah I remember ….’Never work with kids or animals’.

MARLEY

Marley is a lovely black and white moggie whose story is short and sweet. In hot weather he likes to partake of a shower. Up until meeting Marley, I really thought I had seen and heard it all with animals and their quirky habits, but Marley and his showering took things to a new level. Picture if you will, turning on the shower taps and calling a cat to come and get in the shower to cool down. How do I ask him. 1. What temperature he likes the water? 2. How long does he wish to spend in the shower? and 3. Would he like me to scrub his back? Love you Marley. You’re the coolest cat I’ve ever met.

CHARLIE

Charlie is a massive Rottweiler who looks like he could rip you apart limb by limb. In all reality though, he is just a big dribbling teddy bear who is scared of his own shadow. My job with Charlie was straightforward. His lovely owner worked nightshift, and as he slept inside, he had to be let outside early in the morning. I was never afraid of any dogs in my care, but with Charlie I was always on my guard. His deep bark was enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.

On one particular morning when I let myself inside, Charlie stood in the hallway sizing me up. His huge frame covered the entire doorway, not allowing me to access the back door to let him out. We eyeballed each other and I kindly reminded him that he needed to move aside so I could reach the door to let him out. To say I was scared was an understatement. If ever I needed to pay myself danger money, this was it. There’s an old saying with animals, they can sense when you’re scared of them. From nowhere I barked at him, “MOVE ASIDE PLEASE CHARLIE I NEED TO OPEN THE DOOR TO LET YOU OUT”. He humbly obliged my command. I was always relieved when I waved goodbye to the big teddy bear from the safety of the locked back door.

Of all the tales I have to tell about my pet minding journey, I think the most colourful one is about yours truly. All my life I have had a bird phobia. It was only a matter of time before I took a call like this. “Hello, do you mind birds and chickens? I have three aviaries of budgies and twenty chickens with one slightly aggressive rooster”… Did I have the courage to actually tell her that I had a bird phobia, thus risking the possibility of being made a laughing stock? Fortunately that’s what employing staff is for. I still get those calls. The most amusing one was from a lady asking me to hand feed a gang of ten pet magpies twice a day, all of whom had pet names. Ummmm…….let me take a raincheck on that one.

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