I began pet sitting at the invitation of my mentor, Bob, the rescued tabby with the most generous spirit and beautiful soul of any animal I’ve ever met.
I’ve always loved animals. They have no ulterior motives and they’re good judges of character. I’m also pretty introverted, so large groups of humans or parties make me want to swallow my tongue. Id’ just moved to Seattle from Mill Valley California, and a friend had taken me to a party at her friend Tom’s house. Everyone knew everyone else and was having a great time, and I was smiling and trying to look natural, so at one point I just sat down on some steps to listen to the conversation in the room. And Bob walked up. So I picked him up, put him in my lap, and stroked his back and rubbed his ears and the top of his nose. He seemed to just melt with the attention, so I just rolled him over on his back so he was lying between my legs and rubbed his tummy and scratched under his chin while he relaxed and purred.
So because I was focused on Bob, I was as relaxed as he was… until I realized the conversation in the room had stopped, and Tom was staring at us in disbelief as he asked me ‘WHAT are you DOING?’ “Uh..I dunno… rubbing his tummy?” I replied. And Bob’s looking at Tom like, “butt out! I’m enjoying this!” so Tom went on to tell me Bob had never done that with him, which I took to mean, Tom had never realized Bob wanted him to do that.
Tom and I became very good friends after that, and because he travelled quite a bit, I ended up moving into his house to care for Bob full time. The house was huge and my room was on the bottom floor. Occasionally, late at night there‘d be a knock on my door followed by ‘Rebecca, I can’t get Bob to come in, would you please come up and call him?’ so I’d have to get up, go upstairs, open the front door and simply, and quietly, say ‘Bob’ and he’d just saunter out from behind a shrub and walk right by both of us into the house while we rolled our eyes.
If I didn’t get up early enough for him, Bob would wake me up by gently patting my eyelids. I didn’t realize he was doing this until one morning I awakened while he was in mid reach! He slowly pulled his paw back, while looking away, as if to say ‘you didn’t see this … you will remember nothing…’
Bob was an old soul and a patient, generous and loving master. He taught me to listen to him with all of my senses, including my heart.
If you really tune in to animals, and watch for the small clues and responses the results are truly amazing. I can’t tell you how often I hear from someone ‘my pet never does that with me’, but it’s because they just didn’t pick up on the silent clues. Pet sitting isn’t just a job, or a source of income, it’s a calling. If you wouldn’t do it for free, you might want to consider another occupation.