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SITTING BUSINESS CARES FOR ANIMALS OF ALL SIZES

By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

Home Away From Home pet sitting offers peace of mind for traveling owners of pets of almost any size. Begun originally to help dog owners, the business has now expanded to include horses and more.

As an animal lover, Marie Kirk originated her Home Away From Home pet sitting business 18 years ago in Sacramento because of her love for her own pets and her concern about their welfare when she traveled. Last year Kirk, now a resident of Brookings, began offering the same service locally.

As originally conceived, rather than just having someone come in to check on the pet, Kirk lined up the best possible temporary foster home for the dog, or sometimes a strictly indoors cat. "It's almost like adoption," she said.

She acts as the broker who makes the connection between the sitter and the pet owner to provide a compatible, loving "home away from home" for the pets. "The pet goes on vacation too," Kirk explained.

Kirk said her sitters are carefully screened and the foster homes and yards are inspected. "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."

After interviewing the owner and meeting the animal, she is able decide which foster home will best fill the needs of the visiting pet.

She also checks out the members of the sitting family, including children and other pets, to make sure the guest dog will be happy during the stay.

Kirk said that Brookings pet owners have responded enthusiastically to the service. So well, in fact, that she has extended her services to include horses and other farm animals.

She has found experts in horse care to provide the needed care when owners travel.

Of course, she doesn't offer quite the same "home away from home" service as that offered for house pets, but she does offer the next best thing: horse loving sitters available to come to the animals every day, not just to feed and water, but also to give loving attention and care.

She said that, so far, horse-owning clients have been extremely pleased with the service. As with smaller animals, it always includes bringing owner and sitter together with the animals to make sure they are compatible prior to beginning the service.

Anyone with animals requiring temporary care is encouraged to call Kirk, (541) 412-7977, for information about her sitting service.

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