Finding a Great Dog Sitter in a New City

We wanted to go to the Annapolis Sailboat Show last year, but we had a slight problem. We needed someone to watch Paz while we were there. My brother and his wife, who Paz had stayed with on previous trips, now live in a condo community that doesn’t allow guest dogs. And we didn’t know anyone in the Annapolis area.

To make it even more complicated, we’re kind of picky about where Paz stays. No cages, for one. Not too many other dogs. Paz loves to be outside, but on “sniffy walks,” not forced marches. Frankly, we’d like it to be as much like staying with friends as possible.

In similar situations in the past, we’ve sometimes been able to turn to friends. But that’s not always possible, and we had one less-than-great experience with a dog sitter once before in a new city. So how to find the perfect sitter?

Even though we were driving to Annapolis, the same problem can arise when you’re cruising. You’re in a new city, there’s either an emergency and you need someone to care for the dog or maybe there’s a day trip you want to do where dogs aren’t welcome. How do you find the right person to care for your furry family member?

As usual, I turned to the internet. And I discovered a great service: DogVacay. It’s a nationwide listing of available dog sitters . . . some do day care, some overnights in their home, some will come to your dog at your house, some just walk dogs.

DogVacay sets certain standards, but each sitter is free to offer the services they wish. Some take only large dogs, some small, some all sizes; some have one guest dog at a time, others have multiple. All sorts of options and a range of prices, too. Sort of like AirBnB or VRBO. And each sitter’s reviews are posted so you can see what other dog parents liked or didn’t like about a particular sitter.

I began by sorting though the listings to find people in the Annapolis area who had the dates I needed available, and who only took one small dog at a time. Reading the listings, I narrowed it down to four or five who sounded like a good match and sent each a message. Frankly, I think that any of those would have been great for Paz, but “Camp Mimi” really stood out as THE perfect match and it was even clearer when I got Mimi’s reply. So we made the arrangements. You pay upfront with a credit card; each sitter has their own cancellation/refund policy.

There were several things that I really liked about working with DogVacay:

  • You can read reviews from people who have used each sitter.
  • You can do a quick sort by the criteria you want: location, cost, number of dogs, size of dogs, special care needs.
  • Listings include photos and really give you a feel for the different people. I found it easy to pick out several that seemed right for Paz.
  • DogVacay gives you a 24/7 number to call if there is any problem at all.
  • The stay includes medical insurance for your dog, so if he/she gets hurt or is sick, there’s never a question about taking the dog to vet or who will pay for it.
  • Your host will send you at least one photo a day (Mimi sent us 5+) so you can see that they’re doing okay. It was obvious that she was having a great time!
  • No cages, ever, unless you request your dog to be crated at night.
  • If you take the time to read the listings and reviews, it’s easy to get the right sitter for your dog’s temperment and needs.

Admittedly, it’s not often that we need a sitter for Paz — she typically goes everywhere we do. But on the few occasions that we can’t take her somewhere, it can be tough to find the right sitter when we’re in a totally new city. Next time we need someone in a place where we don’t have personal connections, we’ll definitely use DogVacay again. And since I know there are other dog families that also sometimes need a sitter in a totally new city, I wanted to pass the info along.

And now a bit of the fun that Paz had at Camp Mimi:Need a dog sitter but haven't found the perfect one? DogVacay offers personalized care so you can get just what your furry family member needs!

Admittedly, we’ve only used DogVacay once so I can’t guarantee that every host/guest matchup is as perfect as Paz and Mimi. But when you don’t know anyone suitable in an area, it’s a whole lot better than blindly picking a listing out of the phone book. And like anything else, a lot depends on you spending the time to read the listings and find the right sitter.

Mimi, her husband Jim and their dog Peppy went out of their way to make Paz feel like “one of the family.”

Need a dog sitter but haven't found the perfect one? DogVacay offers personalized care so you can get just what your furry family member needs!

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  • Miriam Webster
    Posted at 15 October 2015 Reply

    Hi Carolyn..thanks so much for the kind words about DogVacay and my hosting skills..DogVacay is a great company and I enjoy so much what I do with the little pups. Of course, when the guest is Paz it is easy for everyone to be happy. What a sweet little girl she is! We miss her-please try and come back soon..Love from Mimi

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 15 October 2015 Reply

      A match made in doggy heaven!

    • Miriam Webster
      Posted at 15 October 2015 Reply

      Shared this with my three grown kids and they loved it. Camp Mimi was for the grandchildren for years and it morphed into pup camp when the kids outgrew it. The great thing about the dogs is that the older the pups get the more Mimi loves and welcomes them to Camp Mimi….woof

  • Marion Prodaehl
    Posted at 15 October 2015 Reply

    We used DogVacay a couple of years ago while in FL. I stumbled on the their site while trying to find a boarding kennel. It was the best decision ever to leave her with Sally. We were honest about our dog’s bad behaviour (countershops and will eat ANYTHING food related she can reach). They got along famously and our Weimaraner looked totally relaxed and at ease when we left her and when we picked her up.

  • Patti Holma
    Posted at 15 October 2015 Reply

    Great info thanks!

  • Deb Kurtz
    Posted at 21 October 2015 Reply

    Perfect timing to here about this. My husband and I always take care of our daughter’s dog when they go away, but we are now cruising. They are going away for Thanksgiving and need a dog sitter so I sent her the sight. Not to mention, I think I would love to be a sitter once we are done cruising. Thanks for sharing….

  • Lucy Wilcox Claiborne
    Posted at 08 September 2016 Reply

    We don’t leave our dog on the boat, but wanted to see the museums in DC. We found a day sitter close to the marina, walked Hastings there every day. He had a great time and we enjoyed the museums stress free. I love these peer to peer sites!

  • Sylvia Williams Boehmer
    Posted at 08 September 2016 Reply

    Here is another vote for DogVacay. We have used them on several occasions and have had a great experience each time.

  • Barb Manning Kappe
    Posted at 08 September 2016 Reply

    Also My daughter travels a lot with her pooch. She has had good luck using them.

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