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KIRK OFFERS BROOKINGS' PETS A HOME AWAY FROM HOME

By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

Marie Kirk said her Home Away From Home pet sitting business is unique because what she does is to actually provide a "home away from home" for precious pets. She makes sure that the home is suitable, comfortable, compatible, and loving before she makes the connection between the sitter and the sittee.

"It's almost like adoption," Kirk explained. Rather than have someone come in to check on the pet, Kirk lines up the best possible temporary foster home for the dog (or sometimes a strictly indoors cat) that needs a sitter.

"My sitters are carefully screened," she said. "I always inspect the home and the yard and how it's fenced. I spend a great amount of time to make sure we create the best environment for the pet, and the pets are never caged or confined." She does not place pets in sites where there will be no one home for long periods of time.

Kirk is the broker who makes the connection between the sitter and the pet owner after interviewing the owner and meeting the animal to decide which sitting home will best fill the needs of the visiting pet. In addition to inspecting the physical environment, Kirk also checks out the family, including children and other pets, to make sure the guest dog will be happy during the stay.

She explained the idea behind the business that she originated 18 years ago in the Sacramento area was her love for her own pets and concerns about their welfare when she traveled. "The pet goes on a vacation, too," she said.

Fees are based on ease of the sitting. For example she explained that a large calm golden retriever might require less care than a small, high-strung animal. The normal charge is $25 per day, with a few exceptions. "That comes to approximately $1 per hour," she said. "I do give package prices for long vacations," she added.

She asks all clients to fill out an application with information required to better serve the pet who will be the guest.

Kirk said because she only recently resumed her pet sitting business locally, she is currently looking for additional suitable sitters, and encourages dog lovers to "open up your home for a dog who needs love for a few days."

For anyone desiring information about temporary care for a pet, or about providing sitting services for pets, phone Kirk at (541) 412-7977.

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