Ashley’s Journal: Being a Pet Sitter in Cary

Cary, NC — There’s an experience I’ve embarked on in the last year or so that’s taught me a lot about patience, responsibility and even how to rid the smell of urine from my living room. Let me explain.

What’s Rover?

My sister-in-law was living in Charlotte just over a year ago when I heard about her discovery of Rover, an online pet service platform where she had listed herself as a host for local dog-sitting services. It can be downloaded to your smartphone and used to find or provide pet sitting, daycare and walks.

Essentially, it’s like an Airbnb for pets. Owners can look around and find their fur baby a great house, a fenced-in yard, top-rated hosts and even an agreeable 4-legged roommate for their stay.

From what I was hearing from my sister-in-law, it was giving her extra money, helped to tire out her two dogs and it didn’t take much extra effort to feed another dog and exercise them as she would hers.

The Win-Win-Win Scenario

Meanwhile, in my household, the question had been in the air between my partner and me as to whether or not we should get a second dog. This Rover hosting concept seemed like a perfect compromise—companionship for our dog, extra canine cuddles for us, and at the end of the day, the dog’s food and vet bills were not ours to take on. Win-win-win… right?

Well, as with any new and shiny opportunity, there are a few kinks that show up after the honeymoon phase has run its course.

Cuddles, Walks & Side Cash

We’ve had about 15 dogs come to stay with us in the last year, some of which have returned a few times already. In most cases, the owner is heading to RDU or hitting the road for a vacation out of town and will return within the next couple of days.

For the better part of our first year on Rover, there were no major kinks. We love taking the new dogs with us on walks, sometimes to the local market and definitely to the fountain (bak when it was running) for a cute little photo-op to send to the owners with an update.

Over a dozen dogs and thankfully, zero horror stories. No visit goes 100% perfect because dogs, much like us humans, have peculiar traits and anxieties. These dogs each require different things and it almost always involves a bit of patience and adjustment.

To help offset some of the pricey and often smelly misbehavior of puppies, we decided to not accept dogs under 1-year-old and to have meet and greets with the pet and owner before accepting a booking to ensure no behavioral issues or clashes between the dogs.

With these rules in place, we’ve had many great dogs stay with us, all of which we were sad to see go. We got cuddles, our dog made new friends and we made extra cash to pay bills. All dogs left our house with their owners and received a “your dog is welcome back anytime,” as they left.

That was until I met my match and the only one I did not share that sentiment for so far.

My French Bulldog Foe

About a month ago we had a gray french bulldog stay with us who barely stood a foot off the ground. He seemed totally unthreatening and pretty darn cute, but the boy had a bladder and anxiety combination that was unrelenting and we weren’t made aware.

The initial meeting went well, so we booked. Then, within 5 minutes of his arrival, after going outside already, he pooped on my living room carpet. The only reason I didn’t catch him in the act was that I was already in the middle of spraying down another piece of furniture he had lifted a leg on. I knew it would be a long 3 days

Over the course of his stay, we came to realize he was not as crate or house trained as the owner had let on and this is also something we ask as hosts that pets be trained in. This particular pup had issues holding it while we left him at home in his kennel for work or a 20-minute grocery run. Without fail, he would soak his bed inside the crate every single time.

We got out the cleaning supplies, put his bed through our washing machine multiple times and had to understand that these sorts of mishaps come with the territory. While he did get on my nerves and my dog’s nerves with his behavior combined with his incessant loud breathing and some barking, we continued to treat him well with snacks, cuddles and playtime.

We made it through, but I was ready to reclaim my house and no longer smell the, shall we say, aromas that came with this little guy.

The Forgotten Detail

When it came time for pickup, I spoke with his owner to fill her in on the good times we had but also on the incidents that made it a difficult stay. I explained it all and then I heard laughter from her child that came with her to pick up the dog.

“Oh, I guess I didn’t tell you,” the owner said through giggles. “I never leave his bed in the crate because he always pees on it.”

If a few morals had to be drawn from my whacky journey of pet sitting in Cary, I would say that they ought to be:

  • Dogs require patience
  • Being a Rover host in Cary has been 95% great
  • Some pet owners are terrible at disclosing very useful information
  • Anything lemon-scented is great for cleaning and masking the smell of pee


Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.

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