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Discussion Starter #1
This is spun off from the Christmas tree post.

I've finally hit my breaking point.

Basically, I've been pet sitting for this family for years. When I worked at my old clinic, it was the boss and his wife. They had two dogs and four cats. They have since parted ways. She's kept the house and the pets. Over time, the dogs have passed on and been replaced. She has also added a cat and two birds.

The problem is, she goes out of the country for six weeks at a time to do research. That was fine when she had a husband to stay home and tend to the pets and mind the house and whatnot. Now that its just her, I seriously think she needs to reassess her priorities.

I'm here as a pet sitter. To take care of her two dogs, five cats and two birds. There was also a dove and squirrel that were being "rehabbed" to go back into the wild but I had someone at work take them because they were supposed to be gone before I got here and she slacked off on that too so I had to find somewhere for them to go.

On top of that - at the last minute she goes over the list of other things.

The dogs go to the groomer to get baths every two weeks (two big golden retreivers in my tiny eclipse mind you).

Check the mail for bills and pay them as they are due. She left me what I thought was two full check books full of signed checks. Turns out it was one book with like 10 checks left and the second full book only has 8 signed checks in it. I'm down to 6 checks. 2 are spoken for, 3 bills came in the mail yesterday and she's going to be gone for AT LEAST 2-4 weeks longer.

I also have to drive to the bank to drop off her car payment. I also have to cash a check and drive to a title loan place to make another payment.

On top of that - I now have to deposit checks into my account to then take to the bank to transfer to mexico to pay off equipment she bought and hasn't paid for yet. Mexico isn't happy about it.

Then there's the whole Christmas tree issue...

I get no sleep here. The cats constantly wake me up for food. Then there's the peeing. They pee on rugs, they've peed on my clothes, and the part that had me in tears was when they peed on the pillows and bed while I was asleep on them.

I also go crazy here and spend a good bit of time at home. Granted, that's my choice, but its 27 miles ONE WAY.

I'm also making the exactly same amount she normally pays me to just come over and watch them for the weekend. I'm doing so much more, I'm exhausted, I'm depressed.

I'm also in need of a second job and told her I was expecting to go on interviews soon and would know when to start. Did she have ANY idea when she'd be home? (her initial expected due home date is in two weeks) She has no idea and can't even hint at when she might be returning.

I'm also losing out on other pet sitting jobs because between my odd work schedule and being 45 minutes from home (and other houses I sit for) I'm turning almost everybody down who has called me.

The part that worries me is this is the second time she's gone out of the country since splitting with her husband. I heard so many stories of her bashing the initial guy who stayed here because of the poor care he took of her animals and the state of her house when she got home. I'm trying so hard and I feel like nothing is going right. I don't want this to reflect badly on me, but I don't know what to do anymore.

I'm sorry - I'm not really looking for advice or anything, just some sympathy. That, and a few reminders that I need to start saying NO to things that I have a feeling are going to be bad ideas.
 

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Inform her the signed checks will be running out and when the last one is written you will be unable to pay any more of her bills unless she sends you more signed checks.

Try to tough this out, but I would never sit for her again. It seems the stress you are under is not worth the money (pittance) she is paying you. Everything extra beyond the in-home pet care should have had an extra fee.

The driving for dogs to groomers, paying of bills and banking also needed to have a higher fee added to your original sitting fee. She doesn't need a sitter, she needs a personal assistant.
 

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Wow! I totally agree with Heidi N Q - tell her about the checks, take it one day at a time, and vow to yourself to never say "Yes" to another job from her again! She should have hired two people - one for errands and such, the other just a pet sitter. Too much schlepping around, too many responsibilities, too open-ended!

I bet she is not saying "thank you, thank you, thank you" a million times and offering you bonuses, either - which she should be, since it sounds like all kinds of hairy situations and almost-crises are going on! Lots of luck, remember "this too shall pass!" It will be over some time soon....

Fran
 

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God. That sounds like a nightmare. I agree - stick it out but vow never to pet sit for this person again. I certainly wouldn't.
 

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I completely agree with what has already been said. This person sounds extremely presumptuous. She also sounds like someone who should not have pets if she is not going to be around to care for them herself. Almost like the extremely wealthy who have children and then let the servants raise them.
She is not worth your time or your stress.
 

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Agree with everything that has been said so far! Wow! I would definately not be taking that job again, the stress you are under is just not worth it!

Sounds like you are doing this for a business? The good thing about running your own business, is that you have the ability to make decisions for yourself, and just because it's your business, doesn't mean you can't turn down a job that you don't think is right for you. I've had to do that before. It's not easy to do, but it's sometimes necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
She does have access to email so there are certain things she knows about - like the cats peeing on the bed, I've asked two or three times about the christmas tree now and have mentioned that it doesn't look good... and my last email was to remind her of the checks.

It seems like every email comes with another task though - like the mexican transfer, and she keeps thinking of bills she may have left around the house that didn't get paid (two so far) and can I find them and pay them. Then there's the "friend" who was using one of her two cars while she was out of town. She emailed me to let me know he was returning it because apparently he thought they were more than friends. (he emailed me as her "boyfriend" when he wanted to come and spend some time with her pets after she left) Yes he returned the car, but promptly emailed me to say he had left his check book in it and can he arrange to pick it up.

Its just this never ending saga of stuff I don't want to be dealing with.

I'm going to be a very sad girl until I get to go home for good.
 

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Every time she sends you a new task, I would email back with a price. Sounds like she wants you to be her substitute for her entire life, not just her pet sitter. If you're not getting at least $500 a week for this, you're getting ripped off.
 

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I agree too....you're not her pet sitter, you're her personal assistant! I was amazed when I found our cat sitter (who is wonderful) that she offered to do a few things like bring in the mail and water the plants . . . and even then, I didn't want to bother her with that stuff. I for sure wouldn't get into anything like paying bills, where you're taking on a more important liability.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just got another email - she's not expecting to be back until MARCH 2ND! She left on December 15th. That's 2 1/2 MONTHS!

She also mentioned that if I can't stay the whole time, she'll call the guy who did this last time but she'd really hate to have to do that because he did such a bad job.

She also gave me permission to sign her checks.

This is getting ridiculous.

You know, initially I felt like maybe I was expecting too much and I was greedy to think that I wasn't making that much. But when I see someone say something about anything LESS than $500 a week is a rip off it makes me feel better. Well, better and much worse.

We never officially talked money. When she left the first time I offered me the job she said "$1800 for six weeks, the pay is $30 a day" but the math doesn't add up - $30 a day is $210 a week or $1260 for the six weeks. Even at the full $1800 its still only $300 a week.

I've never been one who is comfortable talking money like this. I guess I could email her back and ask her exactly what she's expecting to pay me. Then base how much longer I can stay on that. I still haven't gotten a call about a second job and really do need the money... but its really not worth it anymore.
 

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I agree with D.B. You have to put value on your time and services. She is really taking advantage of you! Don't do another thing without an agreement re "extra work? extra pay." If she doesn't agree, ask her to make arrangements at a kennel to house her pets. You are so knowledgable. You should not be used like this! Grrrrrrrr.....
 

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This whole situation sounds bizarre.

If I may, whether she gave you permission to sign the checks, you should not do so. You are not an authorized signer on the account and your signature is not on file with the bank. If she wants you to sign the checks, she should contact her bank to determine what arrangements are necessary to add you as a signer.

Otherwise, if you have a falling out, you could be in lots of trouble for signing the checks. Banks and the law are very fussy about this.
________________

If I were you, I would say - sorry, can't do this any longer. Hire the other guy - not my problem. This is more than I am able to do and more than I signed up for. Then move on, take other jobs and never do this for her again. JMHO - and I wish you the best.
 

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OsnobunnieO said:
She also gave me permission to sign her checks.
Be very careful of that. You can't just go around signing someone else's checks unless your signature is in her bank file already. You could be walking into a lot of trouble if she decided to get crooked with you further down the road.

Something about this whole situation sounds fishy to me. Halfway through her trip she decides she's taking another month?

It's not your responsibility to worry or care about what she thinks of the other person who used to "sit" for her. It's obvious that your totally stressed out by this. If this were me, I would email her back and say you'll stay until the original date talked about but after that someone else has to come in and take over.
 

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Jessie, my cat sitter would be getting $26 a day just for a half hour visit for the 5 cats, let alone the dogs and birds. Add to that the fact that you're staying there and running her household for her says you should be getting way more than $30 a day. It also sounds like it may be a significant commute increase for you. I realize that prices in SC are a bit lower than a suburb of Boston, but $30 a day isn't even in the ballpark here. She's taking advantage of you plain and simple.

I recommend that you don't ask her how much she's planning on paying you. I suggest that you write back saying that this has been a bit more of a burden than you expected (list the reasons) and that you'll honor the original agreement of $300 a week (don't use the $30 a day figure) for the first 6 weeks, but that you'll need $XXX/week for any additional time.

I also agree that you should not be signing any checks unless the bank has been notified that you are an approved signer. You could always send her a book of checks for her to sign and have her Fed Ex them back to you.
 

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Could she get online banking from where she is? Maybe she could authorize you to open the bills when they arrive, and just e-mail her the amounts. It really sounds like you shouldn't get mixed up with paying her bills.
 

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Hmmph.

I would make sure she does get someone else for the weeks beyond the six you were planning, and be sure you get paid properly before you hand over the reins to the other person.

The bottom line is that if the woman you are working for had done her homework properly, you would not feel resentful and put upon. I know a family that took a year abroad with their son. The two parents spent six months getting ready, storing their furniture and renting out their house, paying bills in advance, etc. It takes a HUGE amount of advance work to leave for so long, and it was her responsibility to do it. She should have paid as many of her bills in advance as possible, so that your job would be animals and unexpected stuff only. It is not so hard to figure out what three months of phone bills, utilities, car payments, etc. would be and pay that ahead. She also should have provided you with a FedEx account to ship her important papers or whatever once a week, so that she could keep track, not you...


Fran
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well - I did have a giant reply all typed out when my favorite of her kitties came up to snuggle... I think she hit all of two keys on the keyboard and wiped it all out!

Anyway - I just sent an email to her. For starters, I was asking if I should continue paying any bills or wait for her permission since the last email told me to hold off on paying anything to the vet's who have sent her statements because she's "strapped" at the moment due to having to buy more equipment.

I also let her know I just spent $100 at Petsmart on dog food, cat food, litter and litter box liners because she's almost out of everything. This is the second purchase I've made and so far am up to about $150. I'm now waiting for the ok to write myself a check to cover it but have no idea if she's got any money left.

She's waiting on her alimony deposit for the month. Did I mention she doesn't actually work? She's actually employed at the emergency clinic I work at but only works once every few months when someone calls her to cover a shift. Other than that she survives on the insane amount of alimony from her ex husband.

So I told her while we were on the subject of money I was thinking back and realized we never really discussed how much I was being paid. I told her I was trying to get my finances together and get a better picture of where I'd be in a couple of months since I've been so close to buying a house... and that it would also help me decide if I could stay until March.

Honestly - if you leave out the pay part its not really as bad as I've made it out to be. I've just been so exhausted dealing with all of this. I really dislike her house and for the most part her pets. I hate to say it because it makes me feel horrible - but it just makes me so thankful that my dog and cat are so well behaved. Her golden retreivers are bundles of neurotic energy, her cats do whatever they want including walking all over me and meowing like crazy whenever they feel its time to eat. If I ever have food in the house its a fight to keep them all off of me.

Plus, even though I've only been working 3-4 days a week I do so much driving back and forth that I feel like I haven't had a single day to myself in forever. I'm just tired is all.

But I do admit she's seriously unorganized and could have done a LOT more work to prepare before she went out of the country. I honestly thought she would have made some sort of arrangements for her bills but now that I see how many she has, realize its probably impossible. At least her utilities should have been taken care of ahead of time.

That, and she should have stocked up on food, litter, etc so in theory I shouldn't have had to buy ANYTHING for her pets.

These are things I do plan on suggesting to her for the future. Not for me, since I will NEVER do this again... but to make it easier on the next person. Because she will continue to do this until she finally realizes she can't expect someone else to completely take over her life while she's off in another country.

Sorry - I think my vent is over. I hope to have a happier update next time I get an email from her.
 

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OsnobunnieO said:
Honestly - if you leave out the pay part its not really as bad as I've made it out to be. I've just been so exhausted dealing with all of this.
Sorry - I think my vent is over. I hope to have a happier update next time I get an email from her.
Sometimes it just helps getting it out of our system. Vent: letting off steam so you don't boil over or blow up!
 
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