Choosing a business | Pet Sitting | Durham, NC

As a small business owner, I am picky about choosing a company to work with.  Last week though, I was in a hurry and tired, and I fell for a scam company.  Googling, I scrolled down and simply chose a company that appeared local.  The company then turned out to be a predatory online business that takes advantage of consumers, uses deceptive pricing tactics, and bullies unhappy customers.  It was a good reminder that not all businesses are committed to ethical practice.  I’d like to share some tips on how to choose a company to work with.

  1. Think local.  While there are local businesses that fall on the spectrum, local companies have less marketing dollars and know how, and often survive with word of mouth through happy customers.  It’s also great to support a community business.
  2. Check reviews.  Sites like Google, Yelp, and Thumbtack allow customers to leave reviews.  These days, companies can hire blackhat SEO companies to write reviews, so don’t rely on reviews alone.  However, it can be helpful to see what customers are saying.  Are they over the top happy?  Do the reviews sound generic, or are there details that sound like a real customer?  If there were negative reviews, did the company respond and make things right?
  3. Check the BBB.  The Better Business Bureau has been looking after consumers for a long time.  They help customers resolve disputes and track whether companies are committed to customer satisfaction.
  4. Ask Questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask a business questions!  Many of my prospective clients feel they need to be apologetic if they ask questions about my business.  You should absolutely ask the company about relevant hiring practices, insurance, or about references.  A company that dodges your questions or doesn’t answer them fully is not a company you want to hire.

I hope these tips are helpful the next time you choose a business!  Let’s all work to encourage businesses to use good business practices instead of simply being good at search engine optimization.  Savvy consumers help great businesses blossom, and put the hurt on bad businesses with deceptive practices.

Bones Pet Care
Durham, NC



Unusual Friendship | Bones Pet Care | Durham, NC

One night a few years ago I was out pet sitting and I had two pugs out on a walk.  I looked over and saw the most unusual sight.  There was a domestic rabbit, white stripe down the face with white feet, sitting a few yards away.  She didn’t move to run away even though the dogs were right there.  I immediately put the dogs back for a minute so I could try and figure out what to do.  I thought for sure the rabbit would run, but I had to at least try to rescue her.  She looked very small and I didn’t think she could survive long on her own.

I walked right up to her and picked her up.  I was really surprised!  She seemed totally fine with it though, and I carried her around for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do.  I had a carrier in my car, so I pulled it out and placed her gently in the carrier.  I finished up my pet sit wondering what the heck I was going to do with a rabbit.  She came home with me that night, and I kept her in the bathroom with a litter box, food, and water.  Meanwhile, I read everything I could read about rabbits.  We called Carolina Pet Rescue in the morning, and we agreed to foster her while we looked for a placement.

Well, by the time we had her spayed a week later, we were already head over heels in love but we were very nervous about how our cats would react to a rabbit.  We finally got brave and decided to introduce them carefully.  Watch Lulu meet her new best friend, Billie, for the first time.  They are still friends to this day, and in fact Lulu seems to think she is a cat.  She is litter box trained and gets her lettuce and fruit every night when the cats get their wet food.  She brings a lot of joy to our life, but Billie is still convinced Lulu is her bunny.

Pet Sitting–Why I love it | Bones Pet Care | Durham, NC

The other day, I was having one of those days.  You know, you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, somebody cuts you off and you almost wreck…  that kind of day.  Then, I started my work day rounds and I started to feel better and better.  Every time I come through the door, there’s a happy animal on the other side.

Horus telling me to hurry up.
Horus telling me to hurry up.

I started my day with Horus and Osiris, two cats that are 19 years old.  Those cats love to eat more than any cats I have ever know.  They come running and talk to me saying “Hurry up, Lady!”  After they get breakfast, it’s time for petting.  After they had their fill of attention, I cared for the house bringing in the mail and watering the garden.

Next on my list was to start my dog walking routine with Jackson, the cutest white bull dog you have ever seen.  I get all kinds of wags and kisses upon arrival.  He doesn’t take the heat well, so it’s a shorter walk for him and then inside for play and pets.  Although I don’t normally let people pet the dogs I’m walking, I’ve been walking Jackson since he was 6 months old, I know him well enough that I break the rules.  Because he’s so dang cute, everyone loves him and wants to pet him all the time.

I’ve got three in the same apartment complex thanks to referrals, so I can walk across the street for yet another Jackson.  I call him Jax though to keep the Jacksons separated.  It must have been a popular

Jax "I'm sitting for this picture, but then we walk, right?"
Jax “I’m sitting for this picture, but then we walk, right?”

name a few years ago.  Jax loves to get a super long walk, even in the heat.  I keep an eye on him, but he tolerates the heat well.  He adores me to pieces and his walk time means the world to him.

I’m only a few pet sits into my day at this point.  I usually do 8-10 pet sits depending on the day.  Pet sitting to me is about making the animals happy and communicating to the pet guardians that their pets are being loved and cared for in their absence.  I know how hard it is for me to leave my crew in someone else’s hands.  It’s natural to worry about hiring someone to care for your beloved pet, and I understand that.  That’s why I really love our new system of real-time notes.  We can communicate what is going on at the dog walk or pet sit to the pet parent right away.  However, if they are busy enjoying their trip, they can always check the note later on their own time, or not depending on their preference.  Even long term clients who know me well and trust me really enjoy getting the notes.  I think it is fun to actually hear about the visit and even see pictures in real time.

Being able to make the animals happy and the pet parents feel good makes me feel happy.  I am really lucky to be able to something that I love so much.  Pet sitting is more than just a job–it’s a central part of who I am.  The animals bring me great joy, and I try my best to return the favor.


Christa Sharp
A professional pet sitter in Durham, NC
Bones Pet Care

Bones Pet Care | Products We Love – Lots o’ Litter | Durham, NC

Get a bunch of pet sitters together, and eventually at some point as the hours pass a passionate discussion will erupt over… cat litter.  Yes, it’s true.  Scoop boxes all day long, and you will develop strong feelings toward different types of litter.  Some you will hate, and some you will be nodding in quiet approval over when first shown the location of the box.  For our first product feature ever in this blog, I am going to break down the good, the bad, and the ugly on cat litter.

Who’s our first contender?  Let’s start in the category we all love to hate–scoop-able litter.  Yes, it’s dusty but what’s so great about scoop-able is it’s just so easy.  Once or twice a day you can scoop it all out and you are left with a fresh clean box.  No more dumping out that old litter pan once a week with all that ammonia smell lurking around your home.  My very favorite scoop-able litter award goes to… (drumroll please…)

Fresh Step Cat Litter
Fresh Step Unscented

Fresh Step takes the award for my favorite scoop-able.  It clumps well, so there’s no broken clumps to worry about.  It’s not as dusty as some other brands, which is a bonus.  I personally do not like the scent in scented cat litters, so the unscented is my favorite.  The perfumes can also be irritating to cats, so I would always lean toward an unscented if possible anyway.  And, price wise Fresh Step is a very affordable scoop-able litter.  Overall, I give it 4/5 stars and the top award in this category.



What if you want something a little more eco friendly?  Something without all that irritating dust that you could still scoop?  In the eco-friendly scoop-able category, we have our second runner-up.

Swheat ScoopSwheat Scoop

While Sweat Scoop doesn’t clump very tightly (and I mean really, really not tightly so be prepared for a task) it does an adequate enough job to be work able.  It’s environmentally friendly, is not dusty, and isn’t irritating to cats the way scoop-able litter is.  It’s also very easy to vacuum the crumbs for a nice clean area around the box.  Cats tend to take to it off of scoop-able without much fuss, which makes it easier to switch to unless your cat is very finicky.  Overall, I think it’s a great product and I give it a 4.5/5 stars as an eco-friendly scoop-able litter.



And now, finally, we are to my very favorite cat litter of all time.  The litter above all litters, the one that takes the cake for being environmentally friendly, easy to use, and best of all NO DUST is:

catFeline Pine Original

What’s not to love about Feline Pine?  It’s got great odor absorbent pellets that break into saw dust.  You can simply change it out once a week or shake the sawdust out depending on your preference.  Solids can easily be scooped off the top and flushed or composted.  It’s completely eco friendly, it’s not dusty or irritating like clay litter, and it absorbs odor like a champ.  Because of the way the pellets break down, a bag lasts a long time too.  Sometimes it can be hard to adjust finicky cats over to Feline Pine, but other than that it is a near perfect litter.  It gets a stellar 5/5 for overall best cat litter.


We hope you have enjoyed our Friday litter round up.  Remember, if you decide to try a new litter, switch your cats over to it by mixing it together so you don’t have any problems with your cat using the box.  Any litter preferences?  Let us know what you love by leaving a comment below.  Happy Friday, and keep those kitties happy and those boxes clean and tidy!

Bones Pet Care
A professional pet sitter in Durham, NC


Bones Pet Care | The dog who stole the Pet Sitter’s heart | Durham, NC

In 2004, I went to the Durham APS looking to adopt a new member of our family.  Looking down the row, almost near the back, I saw this scrappy little black dog tap dancing and smiling and sneezing.  I was totally in love from first sight.  I asked to see him, and he ran into the room, crawled into my lap, and flipped over for a belly rub.  I named him Barnabee and brought him home.

He has been such a wonderful addition to my life.  Always eager to please, his initial smile got more and more cheesy over the years as he learned that it made me happy.  I love coming home from a day of pet sitting to see this funny face.  He makes us smile all the time, and I hope you get a kick out of seeing Barnabee smile at you.

Bones Pet Care | A Pet Sitter’s Adventures in WordPress | Durham, NC

It’s been a fun month here at Bones Pet Care.  In between a busy July pet sitting, we’ve been revamping the web site.  I had previously only used drag and drop software, so WordPress was an interesting adventure.  It took us two books and many, many hours, but we are proud to have an updated and fully responsive mobile site for our clientele.  At first, I was totally lost.  No more could I pull things around as I pleased–now I had a template to deal with. It took many tries to find a good fit.  Then, I poured through the book, learning how to work widgets and learning all about SEO.

One of the things I love most about being a small business owner is the constant adventure and learning that comes with the territory.  You have to wear all the hats, and it gives me a chance to try out new skills.  I have a natural curiosity and a love of learning, so I really enjoy the process of learning something new.  Yes, it’s a little frustrating at times but when you finally achieve success it’s a great feeling.

July has been filled with lots of pet visits.  I always really enjoy visiting old friends and making new ones.  Seeing the animals leap and dance about with joy at my visits makes any day that much better.  I’ve had lots of chances to take snap shots with my buddies.  I hope you will follow along with all the cute animal pictures.  We are new to social media, and I’m really enjoying the ability to interact with my clients and share with them the love I have for their pets.

We hope you enjoy the new Bones Pet Care web site.  Thanks for being a part of it, and for allowing us to have the greatest job in the world!


Bones Pet Care | Association of Pet Sitting Excellence | Durham, NC

Durham Pet Sitting

I am always interested in being a part of professional groups for professional pet sitters.  I recently found out about an organization that is gaining a good reputation among professional pet sitters called the Association of Pet Sitting Excellence.  They have tons of information on the business end of pet sitting, which is great.

Loving animals is a requirement in this field, but you also have to run a good business.  That often means wearing every hat from marketing consultant, web site designer, office manager, to tax accountant.  If you don’t know how to do something, you have to learn.  I’ve been taking advantage of the resources the APSE provides to help me improve my business.  From webinars to e-books, I’m getting a lot of ideas to improve my business to make it a great experience for my clients.  We are proud to be a member of the ASPE.  Even after a decade owning my own business, there’s always more to learn.

Bones Pet Care | Pet Sitters | Durham, NC

I have been working hard this summer to make changes to our service and I am so happy with the results!  Our new booking software is amazing.  We can now access all of your information on our Smartphones, send real time emailed pet journals with pictures, and check in and out with GPS.  It’s been great to hear feedback from clients that they love getting updates on their pet’s walk or visit while they are at work or away.  We hope it gives our clients peace of mind and a little bit of fun to know their pets are cared for and having fun.

I’ve been a pet sitter since 2003, so I’ve seen a lot of changes happen in our industry.  Back when I started, pet sitting was just catching on and small, personal services were the norm.  Like any industry, things change as time goes on.  Small, personal services are not as common as they used to be.  It takes a lot of dedication to work multiple times a day seven days a week, but we do it for the animals.  Building a relationship with them is what it’s all about.  They start to catch on quick that your visit means lots of fun.  We try to do things for them that make them happy.  A long game of ball, a good long walk, a long belly rub, dangling a feather, or scratching a chin is just as important as providing their care routine.  I’m proud to say that I still spend my days with the animals as well as working with my small team.

We carefully select our team members looking for a person with a strong sense of integrity and a big heart.  Lots of people love animals, but it takes more than that to be a great pet sitter.  We choose only the best for our company.  Our newest addition is Thomas Davis.  He graduated on a full scholarship with honors from UNC two years ago, and is making his way as a musician teaching after school lessons.  He is a truly kind person and treats the animals with love and his responsibility as important.  We are very lucky to have him be a part of our pet care team.

We try to treat our clients with care and respect and make it fun for the animals.  We are grateful that our clients allow us to have such an awesome job.  Seeing those tails wag and kitties purr is what drives us day after day despite 100 degree weather or a downpour.  We drink a lot of water, grab our umbrella, and get to walking and pet sitting.  We thank you for trusting us to watch your babies, and we hope you will be able to relax knowing they are being loved in your absence.