Monday, November 2, 2009

What Was Happening While We Were Away...

While we were on our fabulous Aegean Sea cruise, we had a professional pet sitter take care of our three kids at home in Palm Springs. We had decided to hire a new pet sitter after mounting concerns regarding our former pet sitter. Looking back, I'm not sure why we never switched sooner. Several years ago, we were warned by a friend who had used our former sitter that they had returned home early and found the pet sitter in their pool, having been at their home. (she was only supposed to be walking the dog, not staying at the house, so no reason for her to be in the pool). Then, over the course of several other vacations, we would return home and be plagued by all sorts of questions and doubts. For example, I would intentionally leave far more food than (Koshimi at the time) and Owen could possibly consume for the period we'd be away. Yet when we would return home, there would be virtually nothing left. Despite leaving instructions not to feed more than a certain amount of canned food or treats, it would all be gone too. I used to think, well she spoiled the kids while we were away...

And then there's the matter of the alcohol. Not that we ever took inventory, but you generally have a rough idea of how much you have on hand. We would return home and I'd have a nagging feeling that there was less wine and/or liquor than when we left. Not that it mattered, or that I worried about it, but I distinctly remember thinking something seemed missing.

Then there were the other odd comments we'd hear from folks we knew who used our old pet sitter. Comments that stopped short of saying there was "a problem" but just enough to leave us wondering.

And then, last year while we were on a Mediterranean cruise we still had that pet sitter watch the kids. At the time we had Koshimi (who was old), Sheldon who was still a new puppy, and Owen the kitty. We decided to pay extra to have the pet sitter come to our house, leaving the pets in their our house within their familiar surroundings. It would be cheaper to leave them at someone else's house but we always feel its worth the extra expense to pay to have the pet sitter come to our house several times per day. Well last year, while on the cruise I sent an e-mail to our (ex) pet sitter to let her know our cousin might be dropping by periodically and not to be surprised if she saw a strange person in the house. She immediately responded (via e-mail) to let me know the dogs were not in the house! It felt like only because I sent her a note saying someone may be at the house, she decided to admit the dogs were not at our home, where they were supposed to be. If I had not sent that note, she might have never mentioned it, assuming I'd never know. Apparently she decided to take my dogs to her home, with the explanation that she was having car trouble. What struck me as odd at the time was that she hadn't informed us of this sooner. An honest pet sitter would not have waited to share that information until she felt the risk that our cousin would stop by and not find the dogs at home, where they were supposed to be. This alarmed us- we were immediately suspicious and felt very betrayed. But, being away, with our beloved pets in her care, it was not the time to engage in accusations or anger. When we returned we vowed not to use her again.

Fast forward to this most recent cruise. We found a wonderful new pet sitter, and made all the arrangements. While on vacation they would send a daily e-mail update with comments on the kids. One day we received an e-mail from the new pet sitter that she had been approached by our neighbor that he had seen the OLD pet sitter at our house and asked her about it. As it turns out, our neighbor saw the old pet sitter at our house at least twice, having gone inside the house with her own dog. On one occasion he spoke with her. A long story short- I sent her an e-mail from Europe and told her she had been seen at our house, unauthorized. She replied that there must be some mistake.

When we returned home to Palm Springs we spoke with our neighbors. In fact they had seen her at our house, and even spoke with her on one occasion. Why would our neighbor bring her up, out of the blue? They would have no reason to mention her if she had not been here. After getting the full story, I called the old pet sitter and confronted her with this, and again she denied it. After telling her of the possibility of having photos and/or video surveillance taken of her on site, she had all sorts of excuses- her old car had been repossessed. etc. Then she wanted to see the video of her.

I told her we had heard that she had a drinking problem. (In fact, although I didn't share this with her, one former client of hers said they returned home and she was drunk at their home). While speaking on the phone, she denied accusations of having an alcohol problem, and without prompting, rather suspiciously stated that she had never consumed any of our alcohol. I had not accused her of such- it was she who brought that up about not drinking our liquor (the old expression "he doth protest too much" came to mind). Our conversation came to and end with her insisting that she hadn't been to our house, but I knew better. The question is what do I do with such information?

Then Iater last night she sent me an e-mail, trying to find out what photos or video surveillance we had of her. She "couldn't believe we fired her after just one incident". I responded by sharing that this wasn't just one incident, it started a year ago with my suspicions back then, which was why we decided not to ever use her again at that time (hence the reason she had not been hired for this trip).
In the end I decided to do nothing---for now. I shall retain the right to press charges for trespassing. Our new pet sitter had to deal with this stress but was very professional, we couldn't be more happy. I'm just glad we've moved on and never need to deal with the old pet sitter again. It was quite the happenings at our house while away on holiday. Most important, all three of the kids were fine and all is well.
-Rick Rockhill


A Lewis said...

Oh, gee, thanks......I"m ready more than ever to dash off to foreign ports and leave Mason (2nd birthday yesterday....check out my birthday video) in the care of ????????? Thankfully, our good friend/neighbor/coworker always takes him. He loves her to death!

KathyA said...

Wow! Have you considered changing the locks?
We've never used a pet sitter -- our kids usually stay here or go back and forth for the cat, but I understand that you trusted this person -- and she DID betray that trust. The 'kids' didn't seem to suffer, though, and I'm glad.

grace said...

wow. Most important the kids are alright, and are not aware of the human turmoil.
I had something happen with a pet sitter with my last Brittany, he sat for years with her, and the last couple of years, he ate as much food as he could, drank as much as he could, and the human food treats I left for my dog - he ate! when I got home I asked how she enjoyed her human treats, and he said - 'I ate them'. When I got home he was laying on the couch watching tv and my dog was no where in site, she came running off the hill from behind the house! ugh.
I am glad you found yourself a good petsitter now.

kenju said...

You should report her to the Better Business Bureau, with your suspicions, lest someone else have the same problem.

We used to have a pet sitter whom I thought was good, but I discovered that she had been snooping in cabinets and drawers. I never hired her again, but she still has our house key, and I'd like to get it back.

bunnygirl said...

Amazing. Some people really have no boundaries. I'm glad you've got a good petsitter now. I hope you don't have any further trouble with the old one, and that she gets the help she needs.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i agree, change your locks! that is awful!

hugs, bee

Kanani said...

Oh yes... you have to change the locks!

I'm glad you found the new one. I'm surprised she would assume that the working relationship would be a permanent one. Pet sitting has no job security, right?

© Karelian Blonde said...

Oh my stars! That is scary stuff and I would be changing my locks faster than you can say unauthorized. Creepy to think that someone visits your house while you are away *shivers*

Glad the kids are all right and that nothing too big or valuable went missing.

Odat said...

That really sucks. Just goes to show ya, ya can't trust anyone.....
There's got to be a better way. I'm so sorry that you had to go thru that experience.
As you know, I'm leaving Saturday and this is first time I'm leaving my "boys" . I have a very good neighbor that is taking them. But still, I will be worried bout em!

I hope you get resolution to your problem soon.


Tea N. Crumpet said...

I'm with Kenju-- report the dingaling! She sounds like she is in damage control now.

lime said...

good grief! i am glad yo ufound a good sitter and sorry you had such an bad experience with the oldone. i'd definitely make sure all the locks are changed. tresspassing charges don't seem out of line for the latest infraction.

MeMe said...

I would change the locks even if they returned the key. I'll bet this person made copies. I know it's a hassle, but will be well worth it.

I'd also think about getting a restraining order too. This person has no business being around your home.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I hope you have changed your locks, my dear. This person sounds very unreliable and unpredictable! I don't think I would leave any stone unturned to make sure she cannot somehow get into the house.

Isn't it good that you found someone to replace her with who you both feel so very comfortable about!

WAT said...

I would gladly pet sit and I am so reliable and awesome and honest and I love me the doggies and that former one you had sounds like a stalker or weirdo.


JS said...

FYI, try Celebrity Sitters. All of their sitters are background checked and BBB rates them A+.

And, change your locks!!


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